Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

january {2013}

since Hanukkah…

  1. my exceptionally talented brother has released his second album, to great acclaim. If you don’t have it yet, what are you waiting for?! {click here for more details} Which reminds me, Pete’s blog is amazing. I’ve almost decided to stop writing and just read what he comes up with. His posts can be pretty deep – even Sophia doesn’t always understand them. Take a look at www.petersquicciarini.com and see what you think.
  2. we moved! Our worldly possessions {which turned out to be quite a bit more sizable than we thought} have been transferred from Haven Ridge Lane in Charlotte to our new residence on Lauren Drive in Indian Trail, thanks to our fabulous Bella Torah community. So here we are, in our mid-twenties, owning a house! {technically, I suppose we own a part of it, for now} I absolutely love our new home. It’s an endearing little place, asking politely to be taken care of. The outside is a cheerful yellow; the inside is full of wallpapered borders. Sophia has her own room {for now, as my mother-in-law would say with a wink}, Greg has space to work, and I sometimes get lost in the kitchen because it’s so large. The only part left of moving in is to hang our mezuzah, which we plan to do before the end of January.
  3. my grandfather turned 75! The entire family {core Squicciarini group + Bartos segment + Spurlock segment + Alexander segment} went to Vero Beach, FL to celebrate with him! The memories I have from this trip are wonderful. I can still hardly believe we were all there! The night we arrived, we had a surprise birthday party for Poppop at the Grand Harbor club. It was a huge success! {click here for the video of his entrance, courtesy of my uncle Adam Berlin.} Kudos to Nana on an incredible job planning the party and coordinating the details of our visit. Greg & I stayed for a few days, enjoyed every moment with my grandparents, used their hot tub as much as possible, and even took a drive down to Pompano Beach to see Greg’s grandma one day.
  4. 2013 has started! Wow. It’s the year my baby berry turns 1. The year Christine gets married. The year my parents celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. And much more, of course. We “rang in the new year” with a mellow soiree at Isaac’s townhouse followed by a black & white movie at home… since we are no longer frivolous Young Things but responsible parents.
  5. we’re doing the Whole30 challenge through January! We were inspired by Christine and Isaac, who carefully researched this plan and put a lot of thought into determining they would do it. {“Planning and Preparation Are Key,” the Whole Nine website announces.} We, on the other hand, jumped into it hastily with great enthusiasm but little forethought, resulting in a few oddly mismatched lunches and some moments of panic at breakfast time. However, I’m happy to report we’re almost halfway through the challenge now and going strong! After a trip to Costco and several runs to Trader Joe’s, our fridge is brimful with fresh veggies and meat. The Whole30 plan cuts out sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, and chemicals {very similar to the paleo plan}. It focuses on vegetables and protein, with fruit and nuts in a minor role. I think it’s going to be a great “reset” for our family! So far, I’ve had the chance to explore new cooking methods, like making a balsamic vinegar reduction and creating my own pecan butter {yummy!}. The new diet has been an adjustment for Sophia as well… in terms of nursing, like switching from caramel frappuccinos to straight black coffee, I suspect. We’ll see how the rest of the month goes! I expect to be zipping around town with tons of energy and radiating good health.

=)

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!

=)

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

november

month at a glance…

  • hosted Mr. & Mrs. Joshua Spurlock, along with my parents, for a very elegant dinner here {used my “family” china, the set of Haviland Blue Garland inherited from my great-grandmother}… thrilled to have a chance to honor the new couple in our home!! And SO proud of my husband for opting to learn the Sheva Berachot by heart and sing them for Josh & Julianna! {Isn’t he amazing?!} It was a very special time for us… kind of like “paying forward” the memorable hospitality we were shown during our own wedding week last year. {My goodness, was it only last year?? We are starting to feel like old married people!} One of my favorite parts was dessert, a surprisingly scrumptious gluten-free buckwheat pumpkin pie topped with parve pumpkin flavored soy vanilla ice cream {yum!}… another was when Joshua carried in a tree to give my parents… a brilliant and noteworthy gift for those horticultural enthusiasts.
  • took the newlyweds to the airport so they could catch a plane to Paris!
  • stood in line with Greg & the berry for 2 hours to vote early… worth every minute just to hear one of the librarians say: “We’ve seen a lot of babies this week, but I must say yours is the cutest one I’ve seen yet.” {grin!}
  • had a Shabbat picnic at the newly renovated Stallings Park… beautiful weather! Tried to put Sophia in one of the baby swings but she objected loudly.
  • painted a little nightstand for Sophia to match her dresser {a piece of furniture leftover from Mary’s move into Julianna’s old room at The Residence}
  • tried this recipe for gluten-free kung pao chicken and loved it!
  • attended a 13th birthday party for my cousin Jonathan Stelzl {kind of a “becoming a man” event}, an Italian potluck down in Waxhaw complete with speeches by the articulate Stelzl children, blessings, and singing
  • ventured down to VW for some maintenance… the berry waited very patiently with me for, yes, an hour. To get a new headlight put in. And that was with an appointment. {sigh}
  • celebrated Rosh Chodesh Kislev at The Roost {the Spurlock II’s} with a cozy little crowd + fancy French-sounding beverages
  • pulled out my yarn stash and started knitting! Yay for cold weather!
  • 2 dates with Christine – first a consignment store run in downtown Matthews with tea at Dilworth, then a leisurely stroll around Southpark
  • moved the berry up to 3 meals a day… typically oatmeal or mashed banana for breakfast; applesauce, hummus, or yogurt at lunch; and a veggie or protein for dinner {still nursing her about 4x/day}
  • had a “men’s” Erev Shabbat here, one of our largest meals around the table {Greg, Peter, Brock Wright, Caleb Eades, and Colby Foster, plus Mary [my assistant chef], Sophia, and I}… a great evening! Thankfully there was enough food!
  • double dated with the Spurlock II’s at Dean & Deluca… we sat around a hightop table sharing hot spinach artichoke dip comparing notes on married life – loved it!
  • spent a very very quiet weekend laying low in our home, getting extra rest and recuperating from a cold that attacked our family {the berry’s first one… a pitifully stuffy nose and tiny cough}
  • yet to come: Thanksgiving!

=)

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

fall is here

{two} Weeks at a glance:

  • celebrated Simchat Torah by reading the entire Torah in one evening {1 hour, 3 mins!} with our wonderful community! {for a fantastic review, check out this post}
  • continued Passion & Purity with Mary and the Matthews Bible study with my Matthews ladies {!}
  • attended a bachelorette party for Julianna {BY MYSELF!! – Greg was home with the berry}, hosted by Christine & Mary at the “Squicciarini Urban Farm + Theater” …watched Father of the Bride & enjoyed my first cup of hot cocoa this season {yay for winter!}
  • made my annual visit to Matthews Historic Cemetery for my grandmother’s yahrzeit, along with Mums + the girls… there is a beautiful prayer in the siddur that we read at the gravesite, followed by teatime back at home. It was emotional to bring Sophia for the first time, almost as if I were introducing her… and I have been thinking about expanding our yahrzeit tradition as there are more grandchildren, over the next few years.
  • relaxing Erev Shabbat dinner at The Residence with my family, Ana Sochia, Jonathan Upham, Johnnie May, his daughter Gabby, and Jennie Gonzalez {I brought Giada’s mushroom crostada, always a hit}
  • Sophia’s first “kid” activity!!! My baby went with a group of Bella Torah children -without me!- to christen Josh & Julianna’s new {empty} apartment with a visit {I was told she listened respectfully to Uncle Joshua’s Bible teaching and behaved herself quite well}
  • helped friends & family move Josh & Julianna into their apartment + Isaac into his new townhouse, complete with two mezuzah-hangings afterward…
  • hosted a SURPRISE lingerie shower for Julianna on Rosh Chodesh Heshvan… a huge thank-you to Angela Voskuil & Rachel Allison for helping me put the party together! We nibbled on strawberries & Godiva truffles, sipped chocolate wine, opened {gorgeous!} gifts, and played a fabulous game of lingerie Taboo… so much fun!
  • visited Ana Sochia for cinnamon tea + Irish oatmeal and a fascinating story about her life
  • escorted by my dashing husband to Julianna’s rehearsal –> dinner… first down to Rock Hill to see the stunning wedding venue {Brakefield at Riverwalk} and then on to Georges Brasserie in Southpark for an absolutely delicious dinner of fresh trout! {Amelia Perez was kind enough to berrysit all evening for us}
  • visited Bartoast {Greg’s parents} for brunch with Aunt Julie & Uncle Jim… I brought Aran Goyoaga’s delicious toasted muesli, and we had a delightful time catching up + a walk in the neighborhood
  • dropped in on the CCMC birthday party to see my dear friend Jackie, meet her daughter & grandson, swap baby clothes, and show off my beautiful Sophia {grin}… also had the chance to meet Greg’s new business associate, Eric Fransen
  • yet to come: wedding week!

=)

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

bathtime

Week at a glance:

  1. first experience with Greg working from home! {this is going to be a new phase for us, on weeknights and Sunday afternoons}
  2. typical date night –> madly running errands all over Charlotte, one of which was the long-overdue purchase of a new vacuum {one day we are going to buy a Miele, but for now we settled with a middle-of-the-road Bissell with excellent user feedback and a good HEPA filter}
  3. vacuumed the apartment! {grin}
  4. had a quick coffee date with Mary, continuing in Passion & Purity
  5. started using My Fitness Pal {love the iPad app!} to record food/exercise in an effort to be a little more health conscious
  6. spent an enjoyable morning visiting Diana Nunez and her lovely daughters in their new home
  7. attended the Bella Torah Kol Nidre service as a family, dressed entirely in white {per tradition}… Greg wore white slacks and a shirt, along with his kittel; I wore a white eyelet skirt with a ruffled Loft wrap top; and Sophia looked like a tiny angel in her white Ralph Lauren pjs {the description is necessary because we neglected to get a picture, due to the solemnity of the occasion}
  8. observed Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, with {parts of} all five of the traditional prayer services – truly a day spent in prayer! {the berry & I did not fast this time… maybe next year I won’t be pregnant or nursing 🙂 }
  9. broke the fast with the Squicciarini/Spurlock families + Isaac, Brock, and Mr. Wright… bagels, lox, fruit, cheese, and a cherry tomato clafoutis made by moi {yummy, but anything would have tasted good}
  10. met Christine at Natural Blendz on Monroe for a “blue mango” smoothie followed by thrift store shopping
  11. started building our sukkah! {Greg is using the same pipe/lattice method as last year so the construction should be pretty fast}
  12. went out alone {after Sophia went to bed Thursday night, leaving her daddy here to work}… savored the carefree nature of browsing through a store with no car seat, stroller, or diaper bag {grin}
  13. had a really nice long conversation with my mom-in-law about the upcoming holidays
  14. challenged myself {along with Hannah Lorence} to walk 4 miles at the greenway in Piper Glen, and did it!
  15. made plans… {1. our “tapas & tabernacles” event next Monday; 2. what Sophia & I are going to wear to Julianna’s wedding; 3. October’s Rosh Chodesh celebration; 4. a babysitter for Sophia during Julianna’s rehearsal dinner… etc.} {help!}
  16. spent a quiet Erev Shabbat here with Greg, perusing a section of Legislating Morality {Geisler/Turek} relating to abortion
  17. yet to come: lunch/portion discussion with friends, finishing our sukkah, and making soup in preparation for tomorrow night’s party!

=)

Baby, Bartos family, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Personal, Squicciarini family

starting a new year

We’ve reached half a year! Sophia was 6 months old yesterday. Wonder if I’ll be so meticulous in tracking small milestones with future children… {grin} So, an update. Sophia Ruth is a little over 13lbs… she is about 2′ tall, with soft light brown hair and big blue eyes. I think she looks like a little china doll. She has a healthy glow from our recent trip to the beach, and her hair is long enough to clip back with a bow. She’s not a heavy baby, and I don’t think she ever will be – she’s perfectly sized {fitting into 6-month clothes right on schedule} with a shapely little tummy and a great appetite. She is nursing 5-6 times a day and eating veggie puree once, around dinner. Her new favorite toy is a Tupperware container which she can open to “rescue” a toy trapped inside. {grin}

And a quick update on me… I’m feeling good! I’m about 5lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but feeling pretty much back to normal! It looks like these stretch marks are here to stay {sigh} but that’s not such a big deal, in the big picture. I can see how with subsequent children the body “knows what to do” and shows a baby bump much sooner. Mmm. By the way, we are not “trying for another one,” as someone asked me recently. {grin} Although {for the record} I would like more children. I pray G-d blesses us with others. {I say this for clarification, since during Sophia’s birth I had full intentions of never having another child. It’s truly a miracle how childbirth becomes a blur – filled with happy memories, not painful ones!}

Week at a glance:

  1. traveled home from the beach, restocked our pantry, and prepared to inaugurate the new year!
  2. enjoyed an absolutely delicious Rosh HaShanah dinner {baked lemon pepper cod with rice, carrots, sweet bread, and a fresh salad} with good friends, Taylor Traficanti & Lori Fritz
  3. gathered at McDowell Nature Preserve with our community and spent a rainy afternoon celebrating the holy day {Sophia’s first time to hear the shofar!}
  4. introduced our daughter to long-distance friends, Steven & Darnell Rogers {Asheville} and the Pohlman family {Lake Lure}… so good to see everyone!
  5. visited the Uphams for a spontaneous dinner and some great fellowship time
  6. read Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W.E. Cule {Greg & I}… loved it!
  7. read How the Rosh HaShanah Challah Became Round {Sophia & I}… thank you Aunt Christine!
  8. took a night off from hosting Bible study to recoup and get some extra rest
  9. made my very first recipe from Bon Appetit Berry {a baby cookbook designed for Sophia by Aunt Julianna}, butternut squash & banana puree with a sprinkle of cinnamon
  10. went house hunting with our realtor, Lori McGowan… {while Sophia had a fun morning with Aunt Mary}
  11. had the pleasure of hosting the famous Henry Stelzl for dinner {a bistro meal of tomato soup and grilled cheese} + conversation afterwards
  12. dined at The Residence {the berry & I}, an amazing farm-to-table meal… my mom grew a huge pumpkin, harvested it, removed the seeds, filled it with broth, breadcrumbs, & cheese, and cooked it for a few hours – delicious!
  13. heard some sad news – the Hackett family won’t make it to Julianna’s wedding, unfortunately…
  14. joined my family again for an Erev Shabbat meal with some special excitement – Isaac proposed to Christine! {we ended the evening with a fabulous group hymn-sing around the piano}
  15. attended Bella Torah’s shacharit service {my father-in-law was the minyan man this week – way to go, Bartos family!}
  16. took a walk at the park with Julianna, spent a cozy Saturday night with my favorite guy, and started Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald…
  17. yet to come: a full week ahead, including Yom Kippur this Wednesday {tzom kal, everyone!}

=)

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 ~

=)