Baby, Berries, Thoughts

rachel marie bartos


My fifth labor, which may have set a record for the world’s slowest labor, began at some point during the first week of October. My “due date” of September 24 had come and gone, as expected but not intended. “This labor is going to be so quick and easy,” my in-laws said. It wasn’t. “It’s always nice to have one baby that comes on their due date,” my mom told me. This one didn’t. “She’ll be born right at 40 weeks,” my naturopathic chiropractor predicted. She wasn’t. I thought the labor would be similar to Eva’s. Nope.

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Baby, Berries, Planning, Thoughts

third trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: what started as smooth sailing became a wild ride by the end of this trimester. As covid-19 restrictions started loosening over the summer, we jumped at the chance to travel more before the postpartum slowdown. In the beginning of July (the start of my third trimester), I celebrated my birthday with a 17m bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, and later that month, we daytripped down to Congaree National Park in Columbia SC. August took us north to Shenandoah National Park and west to the Bartos reunion in Fairfield Glade TN. In September, we joined my family at Holden Beach NC for a few days. By the time we got back from the beach, I was ready to stay home for the next six months or so! I like traveling but I started to feel like I didn’t have enough time at home to get ready for the baby. In between trips I got our birth supplies together, started acupuncture to turn our breech baby head down (it only took 1 session!), made a bunch of freezer meals with my sisters, and sorted through all of our baby girl clothes (what’s left of them, after the wear & tear from three previous girls).

Around 35 weeks I started having almost constant cramping and pressure, from how low baby berry was (that’s a good thing, but still uncomfortable). We had 2 pretty big scares with a round of intense contractions, one at Mammoth Cave National Park in KY (literally wandering in a giant cave wondering if we would have the baby in there), and the other at Holden Beach (thinking I was going to give birth in a Homeway rental house)! Both times everything ended up being fine, but we decided “wildberry” is a pretty accurate nickname for this little one who keeps proving to us that number 5 can still be surprising! Continue reading “third trimester update: berry #5”

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

june date: brownies & berry names

In June, we ventured out to a real restaurant (with white tablecloths and wait staff). We have a long-standing tradition, which started when I was pregnant with either Sophia or Zoe, of going to the Bonefish Grill in Matthews and sharing a flourless chocolate brownie à la mode while choosing a name for our new berry. Over the years, and multiple berries, we’ve built up a bunch of rules for this date. No other serious baby name discussions are permitted beforehand, and we each make a secret list of favorite names to bring. Once we sit down, the lists are formally passed back and forth. Greg crosses out his least favorite name from my list, while I do the same with his list, and then we compare. This repeats until there are only 1-2 names left on each list, and then we brainstorm various combinations, looking for the “perfect” sounding one. Greg double checks name meanings online while I mull over nicknames, family relationships, name associations, and more ethereal considerations. In the end, we usually come away with our joint favorite name, plus a good backup, and then wait until we see the child to finalize our choice! Except for Aaron Henry, when we didn’t have a backup and just knew all along that he would be Aaron Henry. Continue reading “june date: brownies & berry names”

Baby, Thoughts

first trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: a fairly textbook pregnancy for me so far. Like every other time, I felt fantastic until 6 weeks along. Weeks 6-12 were filled with all-day nausea, super early bedtimes, and a few frozen mac & cheese dinners. But at the same time I also went waterfall hunting in the NC mountains, flew up to DC for my sister’s birthday, hosted friends for the weekend, and celebrated Purim + my 9th anniversary. Life doesn’t stop for a fifth pregnancy (or a fifth baby)! I started to feel better and more like my normal self by 13 weeks, which was perfect timing for a giant construction project at our house (we replaced our entire downstairs floor after having a water leak in the kitchen). We had a few weeks of daily visits from contractors, living on our plywood subfloor, and needing to keep the berries out of the house. I’ve found that tough situations are a great chance to get closer to God and recognize the blessings around us! Continue reading “first trimester update: berry #5”

Bartos family, faith, Thoughts

the value of nontraditionalism

We recently went to a traditional holiday party which was missing all the traditions. I started thinking about the significance of keeping an open mind where our faith is concerned. The essence (doctrine, if you will) of what we believe is non-negotiable, but the practice of it is open to interpretation.

For this particular holiday, Purim, it’s traditional to read the megillah (the book of Esther), using noisemakers to drown out the name of Haman and cheer the name of Mordechai; to feast and celebrate with great merriment, i.e. wine & hamentaschen; and to give mishloach manot, gifts of food specified in Esther 9.19-22. Continue reading “the value of nontraditionalism”

Bartos family, Planning, State Park Project, Thoughts

out with the old, in with the new

The response to last year’s state park goal has been fantastic! Ever since our Charlotte Agenda article was published in December, I’ve been getting messages from other families excited to start their own “amazing adventure” challenge! I have a spreadsheet with the details of our 23 trips to 41 parks, plus our mileage and cost for each trip, which I’m happy to share with anyone who wants a copy.

This week Union County featured us in their January edition of “Telling Union County Stories!” We filmed an interview with Liz Cooper a few weeks ago and she put together a great story using footage and voiceover from that plus parts of Greg’s state park video.

Greg & I finally finished our NC state park guide: rankings of each park + suggestions for fun family activities. I really hope it’s a helpful tool for any families looking to get outdoors this year! Continue reading “out with the old, in with the new”

Greg & Morgan, Personal, Planning, Thoughts

2019 goals revisited

This week we reviewed our goals for 2019 to see how we did. We have a few categories for our annual goals and I keep track of them in an online spreadsheet. Our categories are travel, faith, children, and family (Gregory keeps track of his professional goals separately). Here’s a quick look at our list for last year:

  • get away for our anniversary / DONE March 2019
  • complete the NC Amazing Adventure challenge / DONE January-October, 2019
  • spend a weekend at the beach / DONE May 2019 and October 2019
  • go to the Hope of Israel Sisterhood Retreat (Morgan) / DONE May 2019
  • go to Canada for Megan McDonald’s bat mitzvah / DONE November 2019

  • become FFOZ Torah Club leaders / changed our minds about hosting Torah Club
  • have family prayer time before the kids go to bed / DONE
  • continue attendance at Bella Torah Fellowship / DONE
  • host a seder / DONE April 2019
  • have tefillin inspected / didn’t happen
  • get an oil menorah / didn’t happen
  • finish writing a children’s Torah portion guide (Gregory) / didn’t happen

  • move Eva into the girls’ room / DONE September 2019
  • teach Aaron Henry how to dress himself / DONE
  • start preschool with Aaron Henry / DONE September 2019
  • start first grade with Zoe / DONE September 2019
  • start second grade with Sophia / DONE September 2019

  • have a monthly date night / didn’t happen
  • set up our empty upstairs bonus room as a family space / DONE October 2019
  • renovate our laundry room / DONE March 2019
  • have a monthly gentlemen’s dinner (Gregory) / didn’t happen
  • get together with grandparents monthly / DONE
  • reach our annual savings goal / DONE
  • tile the upstairs bathroom floor / didn’t happen

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Bartos family, Thoughts


2019 screeched to a stop this week and wow, it’s been full of action! This year was full of new beginnings for my family. We are grateful for all the ways God blessed us, especially with safety during our state park challenge. We spent many hours on the road and on hiking trails, with absolutely no injuries or car trouble. We’re also grateful for another great year for Gregory at Duke Energy, for our fantastic faith community, and for our extended family.

JANUARY > We made a family goal for the first time (the NC state park challenge), and dedicated a bunch of time + energy to accomplishing it. I think this is the start of many family goals in the years to come! We’re also in a new phase of not having a baby – I’ve never had a two-year-old without also having a newborn or being pregnant. It’s very different. I honestly can’t decide how I feel about it! Sometimes I wish we had another baby and sometimes I’m glad the berries are all getting bigger.

JANUARY > Gregory started working out 3x/week at Lifetime Fitness with a few of his friends. This is the first time in our eight years of marriage he’s gone to the gym (although you’d never know it) and he’s excited to continue his workout program in 2020.

JANUARY/APRIL > Two of my siblings had babies! New lives are always a new beginning. Julianna has a boy & girl now, and Christine has three little girls. Continue reading “2019”

Bartos family, State Park Project, Thoughts, travel

nc state park challenge: a review

6,616 miles. 

9 months and 13 days. 

23 separate trips, starting January 1 and ending October 13. 

4 Bartos berries (and 2 parents) at every park. 

A range of temperatures from 29-99 degrees.

41 individual state parks, natural areas, and recreation areas all over North Carolina.  

Continue reading “nc state park challenge: a review”

Personal, Thoughts

navigating interfeminine relationships: the homeschool mom

I am a homeschool mom.

Like pregnancy, there’s no “sort of.” As the mother of school age children who are not attending school, I am a homeschool mom, albeit a new and relatively inexperienced one.

Homeschooling is a still a confusing subject to some, evidenced by a conversation with my neighbor last week.

Neighbor: Have the kids started school yet?
Me: Well, we homeschool, and we’re going to start school after a few days at the beach next week!
Neighbor: Cool, so how does that work exactly? The teachers come to your house?
Me: No… I actually teach them myself.
Neighbor: Whoa, so you’re a teacher?
Me: I am now… 

Continue reading “navigating interfeminine relationships: the homeschool mom”