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


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.


Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

Pesach {2}

It’s Earth Day! {a day intended to inspire awareness + appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment, according to Wikipedia} But as Crate & Barrel told me this morning in their promotional email, every day is Earth Day… which means, apparently, that I should “celebrate with eco-friendly {=expensive} items I’ll use every day.” Ha. {grin} Really, you can’t have it both ways. Either today is special because it’s Earth Day, or today isn’t special because every day is Earth Day. Now they have me confused. Thank goodness I didn’t have a big Earth Day party planned {where I would, no doubt, serve my mother’s famous “dirt cake”}…

So back to Pesach…

Greg was off Tuesday {and didn’t even have to use one of his vacation days – what a blessing!}, which gave him a chance to review the haggadah again as we prepared for our own seder that night. We had 10 people {including Elijah}, and we’d asked everyone to bring a pillow, so we could all sit around a low table in the living room. I liked that – it was so cozy! Very Middle Eastern. {grin} This was our first chance to use the seder plate from my friends in Texas {thank you, Anna! –and Mrs. Del Mul- I was thrilled to have our own beautiful plate!}. My spinach lasagna worked out terrifically well {meaning the Spurlock guys approved of it – after all, it is their mother’s famous recipe}, and the Squicciarini girls brought a brightly colored salad to go with it. We went through the traditional seder elements with plenty of discussion on each point… there were some very insightful comments! I took notes on a few things that stood out:

  • Greg brought up a debate in the Talmud on whether the Pesach sacrifice is communal or individual. It seems individual because each family brings their own lamb, but it’s something the entire community participates in… he related this to how we each have different talents and responsibilities, but the same goal in life.
  • Julianna had a great answer to Greg’s question about why Exodus 13 is part of the tefillin – it’s the courtship story between G-d and His people, a very special chapter!
  • One of our friends took this point a little further and explained how Song of Songs is a unique expression of G-d’s feelings toward His people with the passion of romantic love. Shir HaShirim is actually the megillah for Pesach! Just like marriage is not all about the honeymoon, we are called to love G-d day to day, through the mundane details of life, not just the spiritual “highs.”
  • Christine noted that the Jews have hope by remembering what G-d has done for them. There is no hope without remembrance, she said. The history of G-d’s people proves – in fact demands – hope.
  • As a group we talked about our faith being naturally evangelistic – it defines our lifestyle. You could put it this way: rather than approaching people trying to start a conversation they don’t want to have, we continually attract questions & interest through our obedience to G-d.
  • I added an insight from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin – why is Elijah priviledged to be not only at the seder {there is always a place set for him} but also at every brit milah {circumcision – there is a chair set aside for him}?! The sages answer that Elijah despaired of his life, thinking he was the only Jew left. Because of this, the Holy One destined him to bear witness to the eternity of the Jewish people.
  • During our reading of the Dayenu, Jeremiah Spurlock commented that G-d could have stopped at any point. Everything happens through G-d’s grace, and just His presence in our lives, regardless of the circumstances, should leave us content. It Would Have Been Enough.
  • We thought about how the 3 elements of Pesach represent Yeshua – He is obviously the Paschal lamb {a perfect sacrifice}, and the matzah {striped and pierced}, but what about the maror? Christine suggested that the maror {bitter herbs} represents the problem, the lamb is the solution, and the matzah is the method. I’ve never thought of it that way before!
  • Pete impressed us all by referencing a teaching from the sages about the middle matzah {the one that is broken}. He said the middle matzah symbolizes this world and the world to come – the smaller piece, put back on the plate and eaten with the meal, is this world. The larger piece, concealed during the meal and eaten for dessert, is the world to come. {wow!}
  • Julianna pointed out that we fill 4 cups during the seder, but there are really 5  “I Wills” in Exodus 6. Why is this? The fifth one is “I Will be your G-d.” One rabbi suggests that the fifth cup is Elijah’s cup, but I think there’s more to it than that. Hmm.
  • One final note by Joshua, during the Hallel: the dead, it says in Psalm 115, cannot praise G-d, but we WILL now and forever. The implication is that we won’t die – a reference to eternal life. Baruch HaShem!

It’s always kind of cool to see Scripture with direct correlation to ourselves… my household {consisting of Greg & moi} is too small for a lamb, a provision specifically mentioned in Exodus 12! Which is why we joined another household for the seder. {grin} The haggadah commentary about “this year we are servants, but next year we will be free men in Israel {with the coming of the Mashiach}” also stood out to me! Having just written substantial checks for Federal and State taxes, it does feel a little bit like we’re “servants here!” May the coming of the Mashiach be soon and in our days! {amen}

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So all in all the seder was more than we hoped for… I can hardly wait for next year! {grin} HAD to include this note I got the other day from Jessie Wilson, a wonderful Torah-observant wife & mother in Texas and a sparkling example to me!

Hey Morgan,

You’ve been on my mind lately. I hope that you are seamlessly adjusting to wedded bliss and getting settled into your new place nicely. Just wanted to wish you a happy “First-Pesach-While-Married”. When we were married, Pesach was only a few days after the wedding, so I always associate it with newlyweds, now. 🙂 May it only be happy, kosher and meaningful…

All the best!


Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

Pesach {1}

Baruch HaShem for a wonderful start to the Pesach week! Monday night we went to The Residence for a seder with my family, the Hergenreters {+ Jeremy Wright}, and the Garners {+ Alene Prevost}. My dad structured the evening so different portions were led by the 4 married men {since there are 4 cups} –such a neat idea! Dad welcomed everyone, explained the search for leaven {and burning it!}, introduced the 4 “I Wills” of Exodus 6, and led us in the first cup {Sanctification}… Mary performed the hand washing… Jeremy Wright read the story of the Exodus… Katy Hergenreter asked the 4 questions and my brother Peter answered them… together we remembered each of the 10 plagues… Rick Hergenreter broke the middle matzah and then concluded the second cup {Deliverance} by reviewing Passion Week, singing Dayenu, and describing the 3 essential parts of a seder… my husband Greg got the fun part, instructing everyone to taste matzah, horseradish, and charoset {grin}… we had a delicious dinner – a joint effort by the ladies present {caramelized carrots from moi, to go with the brisket}… Claire Garner found the afikomen {!}… Greg picked up with the Birkat HaMazon after dinner, eating the afikomen, and drinking the third cup {Redemption}…Peter checked for Elijah {a no show this year}… Todd Garner led the singing of a few songs and reading the Hallel {Psalms 113-118} in the fourth cup {Praise}… and we completed the seder with a shout of “Next Year in Yerushalayim!” {yay!}

It was so good! For each cup, the Squicciarini family had come up with a discussion question: we talked about the potential ban on circumcision in California & what this would mean to G-d’s people there, which freedom may be taken away next, the possibility of eventually leaving America and where we would go – serious issues! Food for thought…

This year is probably my favorite Pesach – not just because I’m married! {wink} The seder experience is so familiar now that I’m not wondering what we’re doing or why, just sitting back to enjoy each part and reflect on how we obey G-d by remembering the Exodus, how this annual ceremony is such a powerful teaching tool for children, how the physical removal of leaven is tied to a spiritual examination of ourselves, how many pictures of the Messiah we see in the Passover story, and how we personally identify with the Israelites leaving Egypt – we have also been redeemed. 

If you haven’t seen the Google Exodus video from, it’s hilarious! And this post from Andi at Declared Unto Him, guest posting on Emily Kline’s “Tribalmama” blog, is an interesting answer to “do you celebrate the resurrection?

our first Pesach!


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

new traditions

Feels like we’re constantly having to develop new traditions… I suppose there’s always a new “first” in marriage though. Keeps us on our toes!

{the new month}

Rosh Chodesh, the start of a new month, is kind of a big deal in Judaism. The question was, what should we do to celebrate it? Last Tuesday {April 5} was the 1st of Nisan, but unfortunately I had a bad cold & didn’t have the 1) creativity or 2) energy to do anything. {sad face} So… next month is our big chance!

{monthly honeymoon}

I hope that phrase is clear yet not too personal! {grin} Recently we had our first week “apart” {a practice based on Leviticus 15}, which we were prepared for in theory but my goodness… it wasn’t easy in reality! We had decided to make this week ENTIRELY different from the rest of the month – really set it apart – in a couple of ways. One of them was not kissing each other. You know, I didn’t understand quite how tough that would be. I’ll be honest with you – I enjoy kissing my husband! {grin} It’s one of those totally natural things. The whole experience was brand-new for both of us, needless to  say. Kind of like a trial run. Over this next month, I’d like to 1) come up with a few meaningful activities to do during the week; 2) re-evaluate and refine my practice on the last night {currently it involves a bubble bath + reading Scripture, but I think I can add to that}; and 3) continue making our “monthly honeymoon” an incredible special time.


Our first married holiday came and went pretty uneventfully. We attended a Purim party and chose to go as classy characters {Prince William & Kate Middleton}… which is what we’ll do every year, if it’s up to me. {grin}


To have our own seder {& invite friends}, or not… that was the decision. After weighing all the options, we are joining my family at The Residence next Monday night {yay!} and then hosting our own “Second Seder” the following night. {Greg’s family will be out of town, so we didn’t have to choose who to spend the holiday with.} We’ve invited a group of friends from Bella Torah to spend the evening discussing Passover and hopefully seeing new insights into the Exodus story! I am… a little nervous. This will be our first BIG social event. If it all works out, it should be pretty cool. {Mrs. Spurlock, I’m going to make your matzah lasagna – looking forward to trying the recipe!} Eventually, like a few years down the road, we plan to consistently use the seder as a teaching/ministry opportunity.

{end of pesach}

The final night of Passover is super important. My family has a long-standing tradition of going out to eat {Maggiano’s Little Italy, Southpark}… something to do with FINALLY GETTING TO EAT BREAD. {grin} Although that tradition had lost much of its attraction with the advent of a gluten-free lifestyle. I don’t think Greg’s family has any particular customs… and I’m not sure what we’ll come up with! {it’s Monday night April 25 this year, I think.}

that’s about it…

for now. {grin}


p.s. Happy birthday to my dear friend Diana Núñez, the California Girl {hug!} ~ may it be a good one!

Bartos family, Greg & Morgan, Squicciarini family, Wedding

Wedding Details


a collaborative effort by the Squicciarini Family

Charlotte Museum of History

about 150

the Hergenreters

cherry red roses & pink carnations accented with camellia leaves

Sumpter’s of Charlotte

vintage gown found at The Bride’s Closet in Charlotte, updated and embellished by Matthews Alterations
lace bolero, handmade by Allyn Squicciarini

“Bernadette” waist-length pearl beaded veil, found on Etsy

“Garrison” by Pesáro

Dress pants and vest from Express, bow tie from Macy’s

None… “the Ashkenazi custom is that the chatan {bridegroom} and kallah {bride} wear no jewelry under the chuppah {marriage canopy}. Their mutual commitment is based on who they are as people, not on any material possessions.” –Guide to the Jewish Wedding on

Black & white silk polka dot blouse, from White House Black Market
Wide black belt, from Kohl’s
Red silk flower, from Dillard’s
Black skirts and peep-toe heels from their own wardrobes

Cannoli tower from Chef’s Catering, Matthews {representing the couple’s Italian heritage}


On a cloudy, rainy Sunday morning, people started to gather at the Charlotte Museum of History. The bride and her sisters got there first, accompanied by their stylists, and spread out hair + makeup supplies in the glass-enclosed conference room. A little while later, the bride’s parents + grandparents/relatives arrived, followed by the groom’s parents, and finally the rabbi, escorted by the groom himself. After assembling in the library to hear the groom deliver a short drash {Torah thought} and witness the signing of the ketubah, the men made their way to the conference room, where the bride was seated like a princess, attended by the women present. As family and friends observed, the groom stepped forward and took a long look at his bride, for the first time that day, before carefully pulling her veil down to cover her face. The bride’s father + grandfather and groom’s father took this opportunity to pray for their children and bless them with the Birkat HaKohenim {Aaronic Benediction}.

At 11am, the groom prepared to make his entrance into the Great Hall. Surrounded by men from the Tzadik Class {discipleship group} he belongs to, he walked down the aisle accompanied by a hip classical piece {A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy}. Once the groom had taken his place under the chuppah, the bride entered the hall with her mother + sisters and the groom’s mother + sister, to the music-box sound of Craig Taubman’s Lo Ish. The groom and bride faced each other in silent excitement as the rabbi welcomed their guests, and then both mothers took the bride’s hands and led her in seven circles around the groom. Mishehu Holech Tamid Iti {“Someone Always Walks With Me”}, a beautiful song by Ofra Haza, filled the room as the bride slowly circled the groom.

The two witnesses were called up to be questioned and examine the ring, the groom + bride read their personal vows {based on the 4 “I Will’s” from Exodus 6}, the Sheva Berachot {Seven Blessings} were sung by the cantor and translated by the groom + bride’s uncles, the destruction of the Temple was remembered as Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim {“If I Forget You, Jerusalem”} played, the wedding glass was dramatically shattered, and all too soon it was over… the couple made a joyful exit out of the hall and up the circular staircase to enjoy their yichud {seclusion} meal + first few moments alone.

When the groom + bride returned downstairs, they received their guests in a round atrium at one end of the museum. The reception concluded with everyone together in the Gathering Room to say the Birkat HaMazon {Blessing After Meals} + hear a repetition of the Sheva Berachot. At this point, the ketubah was read aloud, one man gave an inspiring prayer for the couple, and then the groom surprised the bride by singing the Eshet Chayil {Woman of Valor, Proverbs 31} – with the entire tzadik class!

The couple had another unexpected surprise when they were whisked away in a white limousine and taken uptown to a beautiful hotel… the perfect fairytale ending.