Bartos family, State Park Project, Thoughts

stone mountain, cont’d

Another quick thought on yesterday’s hike at Stone Mountain State Park: it was hard, but we did it – and so could you!

Leading up to this hike, it felt like everything was against us. The berries had a cold earlier in the week, and the weather forecast was terrible (three straight days of snow and rain over the weekend). It really didn’t look like we would be able to get outside and hike like we wanted to, but we were determined to work on our state park goal this weekend. It’s so good to have goals, because they push us to achieve more than we ordinarily would!

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Personal, Thoughts

that’s the way the cookie crumbles

My brother is moving to Seattle.

I’m not surprised, and I’m shocked.

I guess a lifetime of the same pat answers makes it hard to imagine saying anything else. “Yes, I’m one of five.” “Four girls and a boy.” “Yes, we grew up here.” “Yes, we were all homeschooled.” “Yes, we all still live here.” Etc. Now the answers have changed. Four of us are here but my brother’s out on the west coast. I always picture the logical extreme (thanks to my dad), so what will I be saying five years from now? “Well, we don’t have much family close by. My parents are here but the rest of us are all over the country. I’ve got a sister in Texas, a brother in Oregon, a sister in Manhattan…”

It’s certainly normal for college and careers to scatter families all over the place, but until now, we were the exception.

It was more emotional than I expected to say goodbye to my brother. He means a lot to me. And while I’d selfishly rather have him and his family closer to us, this is an absolutely fantastic job opportunity for him and I’m happy to see him succeed in a field he loves.

We’ve been listening to Shabbat Vol. 1 (by Moshav) this week and I heard the perfect message for this situation. Tzet’chem v’shalom. Go in peace, Peter. We will always be here for you.


Squicciarini family, Thoughts

stephanie curcio squicciarini

March 1, almost a year ago. The scream of horror I couldn’t repress is fresh in my mind, and I can still feel the cold chill that swept past me when I heard the news. But WHY was the question, probably will always be the question. We’ve talked it through, dabbled in conspiracy theories, and resigned ourselves to never knowing what prompted a brilliant, talented woman to abruptly take her own life.

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navigating interfamilial relationships

Doesn’t it seem like there are two types of people: those that value family and those who don’t? This is not to say that some are right and some wrong, simply that some see value in a particular commodity, if you will, and others do not.

To be clear, “valuing family” does not mean loving one’s spouse and children. Family is used here, as perhaps it always should be, in the greater context. The persons representing the wealth of one’s heritage, background, traditions, and genetics. The people you didn’t choose to be in your life. Thus a woman who sees little value in family is not precluded from a happy marriage and close friendships. The difference will be in her approach to family (relatives) – the ones we “have to see” at occasional events – and the way she raises her children.

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Bartos family, Thoughts

review: “bloom”

Normally we visit a park for tu b’Shevat, and have a picnic lunch with the seven traditional species (native to the land of Israel). It can be pretty chilly in January though! This year we decided to give the idea of a fruit “seder” a try. We got a copy of FFOZ’s haggadah, “Bloom,” to test it out.

As usual with FFOZ material, the haggadah is put together very well. It’s simple and easy to read. They’ve creatively combined the traditional species with Biblical themes of the Land of Israel and Messiah – a fresh approach to tu b’Shevat which I enjoyed! The material is definitely written for adults, so we would have needed to really simplify each section for the berries. As it turned out they were grumpy and overtired last night, so we put them to bed and had a pretty awesome date night sipping a glass of wine as we went through the haggadah by ourselves.

I think we’ll do this again next year! I’d probably want to do this seder on erev tu b’Shevat (maybe with friends?) and have something fun for the kids the next day.


Bartos family, Thoughts


In many ways, 2018 felt like a year of loss for us. The first instance was probably March 1, when my Aunt Stephanie shocked all of us by taking her own life. We scrambled to make arrangements for being at the funeral, which was in Rochester the following week. Greg & I ended up spending our 7th anniversary attending a Catholic memorial service in snowy upstate New York and mourning with the many friends and relatives gathered there. We had 4-month old Eva with us, otherwise the trip might have felt more like a “getaway.” Although we had an anniversary date in uptown Charlotte later that month, it felt like an oddly muted and belated celebration.

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Berries, Thoughts

saving lives

Sophia and Zoe recently heard someone say that many of the same people who are passionately vocal about keeping our oceans clean to protect sea creatures have no problem with killing babies. While the irony of this truth was undoubtedly lost on my children, it was the first time they have been introduced to the horror of abortion. 

Sophia brought up the subject over lunch one day, in her usual straightforward style, and I tried to chose my words carefully as we talked it over. I found myself tearing up as I told them that not all moms want their babies. They looked confused, a natural response considering they have absorbed our beliefs that every life is a precious gift from God and that life begins at conception. 

I don’t think about abortion a lot, but I am trying to hold on to the grief I felt when explaining it to my children. Should we not be horrified?