Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family


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!



the start of Elul

Week at a glance…

i} used our “big girl” stroller for the first time – my tiny berry is able to sit up in her umbrella stroller which is sooo easy to carry around with us!
ii} met Christine at a cool vegan place on South Blvd {Luna’s Living Kitchen} for a creamy avocado smoothie & a then a walk in the park
iii} treated myself to a new LOFT top which lasted exactly 8 minutes before Sophia “christened” it {sigh!}
iv} looked at houses in Union County! {results so far: found where we’re not going to live}
v} baked some of the best brownies I’ve had in my life {thank you Sarah for the recipe!}
vi} had a fantastic playdate with Sophia’s friend Noah Lorence… pool & watermelon for the babies; sushi & conversation for the mommies
vii} had my hair cut {took off 10″ to donate!!} – for now, it’s a refreshing change, and super easy to maintain, but I’m excited to grow it out again
viii} Sophia went to work with Daddy! She’s visited his office once or twice, but this was her first time to go and hang out for a while
ix} cooked with chili powder for the first time in my life {grin}
x} visited with Amelia Perez while our husbands made dreidels together!
xi} “donated” some milk {the berry’s first lesson in sharing!} to Julianna to cure her conjunctivitis… a mysterious but amazingly effective age-old remedy {grin}
xii} splashed and paddled energetically around the bathtub {Sophia}
xiii} had a quiet Erev Shabbat at home… been a while since we were by ourselves!
xiv} hosted a surprise birthday brunch for Greg {fruit parfaits + gluten-free doughnuts} and had the chance to visit with his parents & Adriah
xv} yet to come: the third week of our prayer discussion {looking at the “Eighteen Benedictions”} and of course a celebration of Rosh Chodesh! Elul, my favorite month of the year, begins tonight.

Elul {a month of introspection in preparation for the High Holidays} is dedicated to “Teshuva”—returning to our Creator and our purpose through an honest accounting of our good actions and not-so-good actions, and through increasing in learning Torah and performing good deeds.


PS: a special note of gratitude this week that my friend Amelia’s CT scan came back clear! Baruch HaShem!

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.


Baby, Greg & Morgan, Planning


The other day Greg was talking about how he used to paint his sister’s nails when she was a toddler, and I had a sudden fear that he was picturing tiny red or purple fingernails on Raspberry {should she turn out to be a girl}… so I hastily double-checked that we were on the same page when it comes to raising a little girl. We’ve agreed to avoid these things in the first few years of our daughter’s life:

{simply our preferences, no criticism to anyone feeling differently}

  1. nail polish
  2. Barbies
  3. pierced ears
  4. TV
  5. Disney
  6. gluten {grin}



PS: check back tomorrow morning for the results of our ultrasound! It’s tonight at 7pm. {!!!}

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

16 Weeks

Wednesday night we enjoyed a fabulous dinner with our new friends, Tony & Marie. We went back to Brixx because of their yummy gluten-free pizza {this time I tried the wild mushroom & arugula}. After dinner we went to Cold Stone next door and then continued our conversation by the scenic Blakeney fountains. Can’t believe how much we have in common with this couple! I was hoping Greg would hit it off with Marie’s husband Tony, and sure enough he did! The guys talked business, handguns, moral standards, and the testimony of a changed life; Marie & I discussed protecting children, birth control {the current hot topic}, and our daily routines – just to name a few subjects that came up. We’re looking forward to many more occasions together!!

I think “modern conservatives” might be a good description of them… a couple with definitive conservative standards yet still part of society – sparkling with love for others, “the hope of glory,” and faith in the Holy One of Israel. That description applies to us too, B”H!

Other highlights of the week:
-fun afternoon with Christine! {hug} entertainment + omelettes + box seats at a Vista Park resident cookout + banana chocolate teff bread. {!}
-trip to Williams Sonoma to get a few things for mom & use our gift card… they were running a huge sale. Love that store!
-allocated Greg’s vacation days for the rest of 2011… going to spend a few days with the Bartos clan in Crossville TN next month – fun!
-had an awesome Shabbat guest… we pulled a few strings to have my brother over, partially because we wanted to thank him for improving the performance of my laptop + we just love when he’s here. {grin}
-finally made the famous chicken piccata recipe from Ina Garten {the Barefoot Contessa} passed along by my grandfather. He and Ina are pretty close… she let him test out the recipe. {jk} It was amazing!! Gluten-free + kosher {substituting smart balance for the butter}… WOW.
-spent our last Shabbat with Bella Torah for a while… services resume in the middle of August, giving the Squicciarini famiglia a nice break. Had some fascinating commentary from portion Korach!
-cool blessing this week: no sooner had we decided to clean up our bookshelves {I had a copy of Chocolat, which is full of charms/spells, basically witchcraft, while Greg owned Perfume… enough said} than Greg’s dad came across a man giving away 9 boxes of books! We went over and picked out a handful of good ones to fill in the empty places on our bookcase. {grin} Greg found an original copy of Winston Churchill’s “The Gathering Storm” which he’s thrilled about. My husband has become a serious Churchill fan in the past few weeks.

Tonight wrapped up 16 weeks of married life with another dinner, this one at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Southpark with Greg’s family, as we celebrated my birthday {coming up on July 6} + Greg’s parents’ anniversary! I wore my “Bahamian sundress,” a gift from Greg on our honeymoon. The food was delicious – Greg & I both had gluten-free pasta, and our waiter even brought us a flourless chocolate cake for dessert! {this has been an unusually food-filled post… hmm} It was a really nice time. I am so glad my sister-in-law could be there – Adriah has a crazy work schedule and we don’t get to see her often.

So, 16 weeks down. As we say to each other at random moments, “we are SO married.” {grin!}


Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family

11 Weeks

11 weeks… SO CLOSE to 3 months! {yay} We are celebrating the 3-month anniversary by hanging up our mezuzah on June 6, with a bunch of friends {and family}.

Monday night we went out to dinner {kind of a big deal -grin-} at Brixx in Blakeney, since they’ve just started serving gluten-free pizza! It was delicious… I would enjoy going back sometime! We met Chris Russell & Brenna Robinson, a young couple about to get married on June 11. After dinner they took us back to their new apartment in Ballantyne {coincidentally one of the locations we had looked at}, where we met their well-trained German Shepherd. Brenna is amazing with animals – she works with horses, dogs, and I’m not sure what else. {grin}

Tuesday I finally got curtains for our living room, which are not quite  hung up yet {but close}. Christine advised me to avoid overly-vivid curtain colors and instead stick with airy neutrals… now I’m anxious to see how they look on the windows! {Noticed our home seems to be lacking in power tools. Making mental note to start looking for a good drill… and eventually circular saw, chainsaw, & other stuff like that.}

Wednesday I made “cheesecake” {from goat-cheese mango puree} for Christine’s birthday dessert, one of Mark Bittman’s incredible recipes. I found a copy of his Kitchen Express cookbook at the eBay marketplace for $3, and it’s been great! Not all of his recipes are kosher, but for the most part they’re easy, healthy, and yummy.

Thursday Greg worked late at Quail Hollow, and I had an evening to myself…making new genealogy files + playing with my trial subscription. {fun!} I like being in my home. I could spend hours rearranging the bookcase or reorganizing the pantry. {is that a good thing?? -grin-}

Friday I made my first gluten-free bread! I used the Sandwich Bread recipe from Elana’s Pantry. It was really good! I’m slowly stocking my own pantry with the variety of flours + other random ingredients {arrowroot powder, xanthan gum, etc} necessary for gluten-free baking. We went to The Residence for alfresco Erev Shabbat dinner with two honored guests: the eminent author of Bereans Online + my distinguished uncle from Rochester, NY. What a treat!

Saturday we were invited for Shabbat lunch with Ken & Adriana Vermillion, a family recently relocated from Chicago to Charlotte. Adriana is one of the best hostesses I know – she has a gift of making people feel welcome and cared for. Ken is highly intellectual -any conversation with him is educational. {grin} We’re grateful for the invitation and enjoyed the time with our friends!

Today… well, today is 91 degrees. {wow} So far I’ve {responsibly} shopped the LOFT sale, cleaned my house, made a menu for next week, and prepared to head out this evening.

That should give you a good picture of our average week! {grin}

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!