Bartos family, Berries, Berry Adventures, National Park Project, travel

shenandoah national park: berry adventure #9

Date: August 9-11, 2020
Difficulty: 5 (out of 10)

So there we were, hiking around the Virginia mountains with our four children – and the fifth one at 33 weeks gestation. I was supposed to be relaxing at the Grove Park Spa, lounging around in a fluffy robe or giggling in the hot tub with my mom & sisters! (how did this happen…??)

When we pushed the girls’ getaway until next year, hoping to avoid pesky mask restrictions, it freed up our August calendar a bit, and of course, our next thought was “can we fit in a national park trip?!” One of the closer parks to Charlotte is Shenandoah, about 5 hours north of here in western VA. We quickly booked two nights at a homeaway rental in Massanutten, just outside the park area, and made plans to explore our third national park. Continue reading “shenandoah national park: berry adventure #9”

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life

july date: virginia creeper trail

IMG_6772For my 34th birthday this year I wanted to accomplish something. I spotted the Virginia Creeper Trail on a list of fun things to do within 3 hours of Charlotte, and I knew that was it. After a ton of persuasion (read: none), Gregory agreed to drive me to Damascus VA and ride the trail with me. We researched all the details and made a plan to leave our berries with my parents on Sunday, July 5 while we ran out of town for a quick getaway/mini babymoon. Continue reading “july date: virginia creeper trail”

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”

Bartos family, Berry Adventures, National Park Project, travel

congaree national park: berry adventure #8

Date: July 19, 2020
Difficulty: 5 (out of 10)

First National Park of the year!! As places start to reopen, we finally had the chance to visit a national park this past weekend. The closest one to Charlotte is Congaree National Park in Columbia SC, about 2 hours south of us.

At this point we have a little over 9 weeks until our new berry baby is here, so we’re scrambling to fit in as much as we can before then. This was our reason for visiting a swamp in the hottest part of the summer, which otherwise would have seemed somewhat foolish. The temperature yesterday was 97 degrees in Columbia, but the “real feel” was 115, according to the park ranger we spoke with. It actually felt like being in a sauna!

Continue reading “congaree national park: berry adventure #8”

Bartos family, Berry Adventures

berry adventure #7

Date: June 21, 2020
Difficulty: 4 (out of 10)

Catching up from June…

Father’s Day has become an “adventure” day for us over the last few years. In 2019, we visited Mount Mitchell State Park, picnicked at the summit, and hiked the beautiful Balsam Nature Trail, one of our favorites. This year Greg requested a waterfall, preferably one where we (he) could take a freezing cold dip into the water. 


Continue reading “berry adventure #7”


second trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: an eventful, and fairly energetic, three months. The first few weeks of April we continued the floor repair project – had all of our furniture moved out, carpet and existing flooring pulled up, and new hardwoods put down. At the same time we celebrated Pesach, the week of Unleavened Bread, and the feast of First Fruits (the resurrection)! We refinanced our mortgage, replaced our oven, and renovated our sunroom. We took our first family camping trip + an impromptu getaway to Asheville for Mother’s Day. At the end of May, we started a new season of Sunday swims at my parents’ house, as well as a round of birthdays and holidays. I am so thankful to be feeling good and keeping up with everything going on. Although I don’t really like the feeling of getting bigger & slower, it’s been a comfortable trimester without any aches or pains so I can’t complain. Even the fifth time around, it’s still such a miracle to be growing this little life! Continue reading “second trimester update: berry #5”

Greg & Morgan, Married Life

may date: levi james

We have come a long way from our original plan for these monthly dates! We started out with a lot more adventure in mind, from our midnight 5k to ax-throwing to horseback riding… everything except skydiving. That’s where I draw the line. Obviously all these ideas were before we found out I was pregnant! And then the world shut down. So the past few months have been much different than we expected! Continue reading “may date: levi james”

Bartos family, Berries, Berry Adventures, National Park Project, travel

berry adventure #6

Date: May 24-25, 2020
Difficulty: 10 (out of 10)

We camped! We’re campers now. Absurdly proud of ourselves for making through an entire night in the woods with all four (five) children.

As you may remember, we booked a campsite at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few months ago. We’ve been anxiously watching the park updates all month to see if they would reopen in time for our Memorial Day trip. While the trails are open, campsites remain closed and we had to sadly cancel our reservation (we’ll consider the wildly inappropriate $10 cancellation fee a donation to the National Park Service). Continue reading “berry adventure #6”

Bartos family, Berries, Berry Adventures, travel

berry adventure #5

Date: May 9, 2020
Difficulty: 3 (out of 10)

We spent Mother’s Day weekend in Asheville (an adventure in itself!) and while there, explored the recently reopened Ledges Whitewater Park. This park is on a beautiful stretch of the French Broad River, filled with rapids. Sadly, we didn’t see anyone kayaking, probably because the temperature was around 45 degrees. Who’s with me on a new theory called global cooling?

We climbed over giant boulders along the river’s edge, and reached a point called “Sitting Rock” which extends out into the rapids. A passing couple with two small children offered to take our picture here!

This was a fairly simple berry adventure, but it was a fun afternoon and the kids absolutely loved it! If you’re in the Asheville area the Ledges park is definitely worth a visit.


Greg & Morgan, Married Life

april date: COVID-19

Mecklenburg county was under a stay-at-home order for the month of April, and we thought our date should reflect that. We considered getting childcare so we could make a romantic grocery run or take a quiet stroll through our neighborhood, but decided to literally stay at home and make the best of it.

We don’t ever go out for steak, so this was a perfect chance to pick up kosher steaks from a local grocer (support local!). Note for other hechshered meat friends in the Charlotte area: although there are normally kosher steaks at Trader Joe’s, they’re a waste of time in my opinion. Splurge on a nice cut from Gleiberman’s and you won’t regret it! Continue reading “april date: COVID-19”