Engagement, Greg & Morgan, Squicciarini family, Thoughts, Wedding

ode to Isaac + Christine

{Background on Christine… Out of four sisters, Christine is “the pretty one,” the one most likely to be a model – vibrant, expressive, and sophisticated. She’s a bubbly party girl, a bon vivant, a talented artist, a creative genius, a hilarious comedienne, and a wealth of information. She has excellent taste, displayed in her fashionable accessories, enviable shoe collection, and bright yellow MINI Cooper. You’ll find that beneath her blonde hair and sweet smile is a sharp sense of humor, a bundle of common sense, and a generous spirit.}

Last Sunday, Greg and I attended a lovely engagement party for Christine and Isaac, hosted by Bobby and Jodi Pittenger. One of the highlights of the occasion, for me, was meeting many of Isaac’s relatives and friends for the first time! Until now, I’ve only known his mother, Gloria.

{Background on Gloria… G-d brought her into our lives in an unusual way! Years ago, when I was working for Quo Vadis, I stepped outside while visiting a client site in Matthews and struck up a conversation with a sweet lady walking by who turned out to work next door. After introductions, as we chatted, I noticed that her necklace looked like it was made of Hebrew letters strung together. I commented on it, and found that we practiced the same faith! In the end, I invited her for Erev Shabbat dinner with my family, and that was the start of our friendship with Gloria Alexander. How amazing that her son is now marrying my sister! Only our G-d could have arranged such a “coincidental” meeting.}

Besides being a splendid time with friends and family, the event on Sunday gave me a chance to reflect on Isaac and Christine. They are absolutely right for each other, from appearances {picture-perfect} to personalities {suitably complimentary}.

{Brief DISC analysis… while Isaac and Christine share a fun-loving sanguine quality, he is predominately a choleric, bringing out her natural phlegmatic side. It’s a good mix – we haven’t observed a single disagreement so far!}

Their relationship reminds me of Eric & Leslie Ludy’s book When G-d Writes Your Love Story. Isaac and Christine have a beautiful story of love and redemption… my dad referenced this in his comments at the party Sunday night. The changes we have seen in Isaac over the past two years testify to how complete a transformation takes place when a man surrenders his life to the will of Almighty G-d. He and Christine wrote a tennaim document {a traditional “contract” stating terms and conditions of the wedding} which they signed at the engagement party, and as Isaac read it to everyone present, we were so proud of him for having the courage to make such a public statement of his faith – and proud of both of them for growing together in their observance and practice.

Hearing Isaac announce his intention to marry Christine under the chuppah next May was a joyful moment for Greg and I! We eagerly anticipate the culmination of their courtship and the start of a new life for this beautiful couple.

Isaac and Christine, we praise G-d for bringing you together! May the Holy One lead you along the path of righteousness as you prepare for marriage. We love you!

=)

Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

wedding week {Julianna}

So. My sister Julianna got married last week. {!!} Still somewhat hard to believe. She and her husband, my brother-in-law Joshua Spurlock, are honeymooning in the city of love this week… and once they return, there will officially be two of us in what is becoming a select group of married Squicciarini girls who live in tiny homes a few miles from the Family Residence.

A review of the wedding week from my perspective as Sister Of The Bride

+ Sunday kicked things off with brunch for the ladies at 1pm {“bird’s nests” + baked brie}. The berry sat on my lap and happily sampled egg yolk, just like one of the big girls. We went up to Southpark Mall for a shopping spree afterward where I got headbands for both of us {Sophia: Nordstrom; moi: LOFT}. Meanwhile, the men went trap shooting with Joshua at the Charlotte Rifle & Pistol range.

+ Monday Julianna had scheduled appointments at {our new favorite grooming place} the European Wax Center. Sophia & I checked out Great Things consignment store next door and found a perfect {very chic} LBD for Julianna to bring to Paris! Later, I sent Julianna her Sheva Berachot schedule for the week – our community opened up their homes to celebrate the new couple each night.

+ Tuesday we had intended to meet for Bible study as usual, but we ended up changing our plan in order to bring a meal over to the Uphams instead. The gift Greg & I had ordered {from Israel} for Julianna & Josh finally arrived, so I wrapped it and added a “congratulations” card.

+ Wednesday we went to The Residence for lunch with a houseful of people – Uncle Fred & Aunt Stephanie {from Rochester, NY}, Jacob & Heather Meyers + their sons Asher & Zev {from TN}, and Mary Norris {from Israel}. That afternoon we all went for manicures and pedicures at My Bella Spa… I decided on a gold-lined French manicure {loved it!} and skipped my toes since they wouldn’t show. Sophia was such a good girl! {This was my first manicure since the berry arrived, and frankly I don’t see how other moms do it. If I hadn’t had a bunch of women passing Sophia around, there’s no way I could have given my nails time to dry! Needless to say, quite a treat.} The group headed down to Rock Hill to decorate the venue while I took Sophia home and made dinner. That night I went over to spend the evening with Julianna after her mikveh… she and Peter and I talked for an hour or two before bed.

+ Thursday {the big day!} Greg got off work early and we had an early dinner at Earth Fare on our way down to Brakefield. Sophia and I dressed in the Bride’s Room with the other girls and sipped sidecars while Julianna had her makeup done. Heather, the very pregnant photographer, nimbly climbed around the furniture to get some lovely preparation shots. The men gathered in the Groom’s Room to witness the ketubah being signed {complete with celebratory whiskey shots} and hear a Torah teaching from Joshua. Experiencing the wedding as an observer was breathtaking… I almost cried when Joshua entered the Bride’s room to veil Julianna and they looked at each other for the first time in a week – so romantic! Each moment was full of joy and anticipation. Their ceremony was almost exactly like mine {and now I realize that every wedding has little idiosyncrasies!}… short and to the point, rich with tradition, concluded by a triumphant shout of “mazel tov!” As for the reception, it almost seems like a blur… old friends to catch up with, new friends to meet, new family members to hug… it was spectacular.

+ Friday I made food for the weekend {Julianna and Josh did a photoshoot with Heather – sneak peeks here!} and we joined my family for an informal Erev Shabbat with the northern Squicciarinis {their last night in CLT}, the Grant family {from TN}, and the Wright clan {from FL}. Sophia loved playing with the Grant girls, Mara and Belle… I would have two amazing babysitters if they didn’t live so far away!

+ Shabbat ended the wedding week with one of the biggest Bella Torah services we’ve ever had… most of our regular members + the visiting Spurlock relatives and other out-of-town {and in-town!} guests. We had made arrangements to hold the service at the Holiday Inn, in their spacious conference room, and it worked out splendidly. {I have been spoiled by meeting at my parents’ home, where I can put Sophia down for a nap, but holding her gave me a chance to have terrific conversations with two women I admire greatly – Jessie Wilson and Diana Nunez.}

Quite a week…

Weddings are such sweet memories. I love how they bring so many people together, people that might otherwise never cross paths. I am already looking forward to the next one!

=)

Note: I don’t have pics from the wedding yet, but they’re coming!

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

a Sukkot to remember

Sophia Ruth and the blustery day

Sophia is starting to test our authority! She has become more willful in the last few weeks, wanting to grab things and shrieking loudly when she cannot have something. Yikes. Greg is determined that we will train her to be a calm and obedient child. It is hard to be firm with such an adorable little girl though!

Week at a glance:

>> got our lulav in the mail {from Israel!} and waved it joyfully throughout the week

>> joined Bella Torah Fellowship for the annual “Soup & Sukkah” party at The Residence {brought Susie Fishbein’s Tuscan White Bean soup… a reliable crowd-pleaser}

>> hosted our own Sukkot party, “Tapas & Tabernacles” and had a pretty good turnout! {an extra blessing: Greg had the amazing privilege of leading a minyan [10 men] in minchah prayers! A huge thank you to Greg Upham, Jonathan Upham, Joshua Spurlock, Isaac Alexander, Taylor Traficanti, Brock Wright, Greg Bartos Sr., Peter Squicciarini, and Joseph Squicciarini for being here and making that possible}

>> struggled with allergies {Greg & I}, constipation {Sophia}, and staying on top of household chores/grocery shopping during a crazy holiday week {moi}

>> made another house-hunting run with Lori McGowan – saw one of those houses that’s an utter mess, a complete disaster… had a vision of spending a few months {and several thousand dollars!} renovating it, ending up with a large, beautiful home… then watched that dream die as 1) reality set in, and 2) it was sold to someone else… probably a good thing!

>> met Julianna for a cappuccino at Dilworth to chat wedding details; settled on an appropriate wedding gift; and found a raspberry sweater for Sophia to wear at the wedding IN THREE WEEKS!

>> had the pear/Gorgonzola pizza at Brixx… yum! Need to recreate that one here pretty soon {which reminds me, fellow gluten-free locals, I am dying to try a recipe I saw for pizza crust made out of cauliflower – the reviews say it’s fantastic! Pizza party, my place.}

>> discovered, with pleasure, that Sophia is gaining weight and I am losing weight

>> dwelt in our sukkah, per the Torah command, on a few sunny afternoons… have not slept out there yet though!

>> attended Rivkah Pohlman’s lovely bat mitzvah in Black Mountain {read Kohelet [Ecclesiastes] on the drive there, one of the Sukkot traditions} and had a short but sweet visit with the Pohlman family

>> indulged in another black & white movie… we have now seen two Grant/Bergman films and enjoyed them both

>> participated in a mikveh [immersion] ceremony at Windjammer Park in Tega Cay with Rebecca Frank… chilly day for a dip into Lake Wylie! Congratulations to Rebecca for making a {brave} public profession of her faith

>> yet to come: another holiday! {the last one for a while}; a wonderful conclusion to z’man simchateinu [the season of our rejoicing] with tomorrow night’s reading of the Scripture; and a full week ahead

=)

Note: deepest sympathy to the Upham family for the loss of their grandmother this week! May Adonai, the Righteous Judge, comfort them. 😦

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning, Squicciarini family, Wedding

paddle boarding

stand-up paddle boarding on the Catawba River

Recently I’ve heard some attachment-parenters {I’m not one, but I have a few good friends who are} talk about the incredible bond they have with their babies, from co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and demand-feeding… and I want to note, for the record, that I have a pretty terrific bond with my own little girl! Sophia has never slept in my bed, and I don’t wear her in a sling all day long, but she’s absolutely a mommy’s girl. We LOVE to spend time together! She is just getting to the point of being affectionate, starting to give little hugs and wet nibbles that could pass for kisses. There are moments when I want to pick her up the second she starts fussing, or rock her to sleep every night, but in the end I have to do what I think is best for her. So far we can’t complain about the results! She’s the happiest baby I’ve ever seen – one that rarely cries, sings to us all the time, and always has a grin for strangers. I think the first big test of our parenting will come in the next few years though!

Week at a glance:

:: whisked Greg away for a birthday trip to the whitewater center {the longest we’ve ever left Sophia – my super babysitters watched her for over 5 hours!}… felt like we were newlyweds again {grin}

:: played ‘hide and seek’ with Sophia… she found a hiding place under the pillow where I could “find” her {hug!}

:: RSVP’d for a hugely important wedding on October 25

:: hosted a Bible study in my home {doing the book of Matthew from a Hebraic perspective with some wonderful ladies}

:: made wild blueberry & pecan granola with Mary

:: spent a typically productive evening with Grandma {my mom} – catching up, eating dinner, fixing the washing machine, & making baby food!

:: tested out a few veggie purees with Sophia… she’s a big fan of banana but doesn’t care for peas {yet!}

:: looked at more houses {we have some great possibilities!} and actually met with our realtor on Friday!

:: had a spontaneous family pizza date! + a visit to the brand-new Whole Foods

:: continued planning Julianna’s bridal shower {!!!}

:: met Christine at the renovated Stallings Park for walking + fiber-filled berry smoothies

:: had a pleasantly impromptu visit from Julianna in the middle of Shabbat preparations {the usual exchange: she brought me ginger-infused artisan muesli & trifle ingredients; I gave her an empty tupperware & a borrowed cookbook}

:: yet to come: hosting a new couple for dinner {Lori + Taylor} and then a quiet Shabbat by ourselves ~

=)

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

balloons

Under normal circumstances, a few months isn’t a whole lot of time to get to know someone, but I’ve spent every day of these past five months living with my baby girl, and I feel like I know her inside and out. I know each of her little expressions – her wide grin, her curious face, her determined lower lip, her pout… I know her moods, when she’s feeling energetic, happy, peaceful, tired, restless, hungry, snuggly, frustrated, or nervous… I know how she likes to be held, and how to calm her down… I know all the little sounds she makes… and I also know which toys she likes and which ones she thinks are silly. I know she loves her mommy and daddy. I couldn’t be more proud of my baby! She has brought so much joy into my life.

Week at a glance…

  1. met Greg at Earth Fare to chat + shop houses online
  2. had dinner, a bath {Sophia}, & a whole bunch of conversation with the world’s youngest CSSP
  3. got a surprise gift – a gorgeous Urban Decay eyeshadow, from my stylish husband {is he not the coolest guy ever?!}
  4. visited Christ Covenant Church for a birthday lunch with Greg’s coworkers
  5. helped Julianna {@MrsSpurlock2be} assemble dozens of wedding favors {and let me tell you, I would attend the wedding JUST to get one of these… sooo pretty!}
  6. joined an awesome group of people at The Cowfish for a yummy ahi tuna burger {Sophia’s second time there, no wasabi for her this time}
  7. had a planning session with Laura Guido & Mary Squicciarini to nail down the details for Julianna’s bridal shower {!!}
  8. attended Joshua & Julianna’s {beautiful} Tenaim Service {our first chance to give marriage advice – such an honor!}… what a meaningful concept to outline goals for engagement
  9. spent an evening with Amelia Perez {2.5 miles at the park, followed by tea at home}
  10. continued reading through The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot with Greg
  11. went to a children’s consignment store {my first time visiting Kid To Kid} and shopped baby stuff with Hannah Lorence
  12. indulged in gluten-free pizza {a rare treat!} at Fuel
  13. celebrated Sophia’s 5-month “birthday” by giving her an exersaucer {who came up with that name, anyway?} which she LOVES! {grin}
  14. planned out the next 2 months {whew! we will have to stop and catch our breath when November starts} on my pretty new calendar
  15. talked to one of my favorite people {hello, Poppop} 🙂
  16. nursed in public for the 2nd time {eek} with no problem
  17. had a quiet Erev Shabbat at home {Greg brought me flowers!}… Sophia sat quietly through the entire Kiddush
  18. yet to come: Bella Torah Shacharit service and the final night of our prayer discussion series ~

=)

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

3.10.12

Tuesday was our highly anticipated one year anniversary {3.6.12}, celebrating 365 blissful days of married life. This anniversary has been such a “high” point: we are delighted with each other, our life together, and especially the blessing of a child. I hope subsequent years are as good as this one!

We gave the anniversary a French theme, which included “Le Breakfast” at Le Peep, an attempt at {pregnant} Parisian style on my part, watching old movies set in France, and a truly gourmet dinner cooked by my husband {wild mushroom crêpes, potatoes au gratin, endive salad with champagne pear vinaigrette, & chocolate mousse… superb!}.

I couldn’t believe how many people remembered the day… merci beaucoup to everyone who sent us congratulations! My family actually called to sing us “Happy Anniversary” {which I’m pretty sure is a song we made up…}, and our friends on the Twitterverse tweeted anniversary greetings throughout the day. Greg & I had agreed to skip gift-giving, intending our anniversaries to be more about time with each other, but he surprised me with two pretty cool presents! One was a fun little Bodum French press, fitting perfectly with our theme, and the other was a cool Elfa system from the Container Store {solving the serious problem of how to organize our pantry now that it holds a washer & dryer}. Greg is, in short, the most thoughtful husband I can imagine! How could anyone not envy me…

I can hardly comprehend that tomorrow is March 11, Raspberry Day. I have small hope of the berry coming on her due date, but who knows? Greg is off from work tomorrow so we can spend the day together and take our minds off the imminent birth of our daughter. {grin} We will be keeping this site current with updates about what’s going on in the next few days.

=)

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning, Wedding

2.23.12

The babymoon was a huge success… the most relaxing + delightful two days we’ve spent together in a while! Certainly an idea we’d recommend to other couples about to have their first child.

Sunday morning we packed overnight bags {bright VeraWeekender’ for me; masculine leather duffel for Greg} and headed uptown after lunch. We arrived at the Westin – recognized the lobby where we spent some memorable time last year tweeting about our wedding – checked in, and took the elevator to the top! Greg had pulled a few strings to get us the Presidential Suite… a mind-boggling amount of space, plus incredible views of the city from three sides. For dinner, Greg took me to Vivace on Metropolitan Avenue, a restaurant I’ve wanted to try since we got married last year! We both ordered delicious gluten-free entrees and then shared dessert…  Greg, true to form, had arranged for berry sorbet in the shape of a baby bump to magically appear at our table. {!}

For evening entertainment, we watched The Ten Commandments, which Greg had never seen. {Julianna’s response to this plan: “You’re taking Charlton Heston with you on the babymoon??”} It’s an excellent film, of course. And it fit so well with our portion readings in Exodus the past few weeks! At first, I thought it was hilarious that we would bring The Ten Commandments on a romantic getaway, but on second thought it’s proof of how we have adapted our lifestyle for the responsibilities of parenthood – in this case, with family-friendly films.

While we were having breakfast in bed Monday morning, I found pictures on my phone from when we did the same thing last year, the morning after our wedding, at the same hotel! {Not surprisingly, my husband ordered the same breakfast. He is a man of habit indeed.} Later we visited the gorgeous Westin workout facilities, where I walked a slow half mile while Greg ran effortlessly on the treadmill next to me. {How does someone with a desk job stay so fit… that’s what I want to know.}

We had no schedule on Monday… just a blissful day of enjoying each other’s company. We ended up having a late lunch at Fuel {vintage pizza place uptown} where we split a gluten-free pie, ate with our fingers, sipped soda, and totally felt like two teenagers. {grin} Between bites we talked about the ways Raspberry will affect our lives, from social events to budgeting. It’s hard to have an accurate picture of exactly how our lives will change! But we’ve agreed to view these changes as good, not like we’re missing out on anything because of the privilege of raising a child.

It seemed appropriate to pick up a gift for the berry, since she was very much the focus of our trip, so we went to several baby stores at the mall and found something cute for her. It was an odd feeling – on the one hand, this was a chance for us to have time “alone,” before kids… knowing that it will never be quite like this again, but on the other hand, we are constantly aware of Raspberry’s presence! She did come with us. In fact, she’s always between us, if you know what I mean. She has a prenatally precocious way of waving her hands when she hears herself talked about. So it’s kind of impossible to see ourselves as simply a carefree married couple – we are a family of three, B”H.

Heading home Monday night, we thought the babymoon was over… but it wasn’t! Julianna had not ONLY made us dinner, but also prepared an elaborate cheese plate for us to snack on. {hug!} A perfectly thoughtful end to a perfectly splendid time.

=)