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. 😦

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

birthday {Greg} 2012

Last Saturday started with a surprise birthday breakfast for Greg, and ended with a surprise birthday party that night! A crowd of friends burst into our apartment shouting happy birthday, carrying a gift {striped fedora}, a cake {amaretto cheesecake made by Chef Julianna}, a card {signed by everyone}, a balloon {“Happy Birthday from ALL of us!”}, a snack {one of Greg’s favorites, Mike & Ike’s}, and an appropriately fun toy {kazoos}. Greg couldn’t have been more shocked! After we distributed cake and iced coffee, Peter and Jonathan performed a brilliant song parody they had written in honor of Greg’s birthday, based on Matisyahu’s “Jerusalem” – it was amazing! {click here for lyrics}

A huge thank you to my sisters for planning such a fun addition to our Saturday night study {good idea, Christine!}, to Pete and Jonathan for their creative tribute to Greg, and to my parents for their special appearance here to celebrate with us! “Surprise” was definitely the word of the day. {grin}

Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I love you so much!


Baby, Greg & Morgan, Squicciarini family, Thoughts


Well, I’m 39 weeks pregnant today. {!!} That’s more accurate than saying “1 week to go!!!” because we all know babies rarely appear on their due dates. {grin} However, my husband generously took the day off from work next Sunday to spend it with me, so it would be pretty convenient if Raspberry was born on schedule.

In the last three days, I’ve had the following comments from strangers:

“Don’t have that baby right here!” {while walking in the park}
“You’re all baby!”
“That baby’s ready to come!”
“Must be pretty close – you’ve definitely dropped!”

Thinking back over the pregnancy, I have to marvel at how truly wonderful it has been and praise G-d for that! I’m amazed at how He has taken care of me along the way. It has literally been the perfect pregnancy – every single check-up was a good report about my blood pressure, weight, and health + Raspberry’s heartbeat, size, and position. The nausea I had in the first couple of weeks was so slight I can’t even bring myself to complain about it, and since then only two “issues” have come up: the first was when a test of my hemoglobin came back surprisingly low at the end of December, and we needed to quickly bring it up in the last two months {I’ve been taking a few supplements, with absolutely no bad side effects or problems absorbing the iron, and my last blood test showed a safe hemoglobin level!}; the second issue was a sudden onset of sciatica in the middle of January, which lasted exactly two weeks and then left as abruptly as it started {I can only assume the berry was shifting positions around that time}. Although sciatica was tough to deal with, in G-d’s timing it coincided with Madison Hackett’s visit here – and I think we developed a deeper bond as friends because of how supportive + encouraging she was as I hobbled around. {grin} So that was really a blessing!

Speaking of Madison, we have decided {after careful consideration} to give her the position of an honorary aunt for Raspberry. So the berry has Aunt Julianna, Aunt Christine, Aunt Mary, Aunt Adriah, and Aunt Madison. {Five! That’s a bunch.}

Anyway, I don’t know why the whole experience has been so good… perhaps this is G-d’s encouragement to have more children. Or maybe the hardest part is yet to come. {grin} Greg is SO excited about the actual birth – he has been eagerly reading The Birth Partner and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way in preparation for his important role. As I start to get nervous, he is growing more confident. Again, this seems part of G-d’s plan… Greg is just the right person to get me and my famous “low pain tolerance” through the physically demanding work of natural childbirth. {hug!}


In breaking news, my parents just called to say they bought a Pack n’ Play {Eddie Bauer, of course}. Rumor has it Julianna will be crashing on the couch while her bedroom is turned into a nursery for the grandchild/ren. {grin}

Baby, Greg & Morgan, Squicciarini family, Thoughts


This post is WAY overdue… because I’m struggling to find words to express simply overwhelming gratitude to my family. Each one of them has contributed to making this pregnancy a stellar experience, every moment of it.

First of all, my sisters have consistently showered me with gifts over the past few months. I didn’t think my love language was gifts, but I’m starting to reconsider. {grin} I’m touched by their thoughtfulness every time, because they never ask if I *need* anything – they just send over a yummy snack or a little treat for me {I truly don’t lack for anything, so it’s not like there are pressing needs}. A couple months ago they came up with a creative way for us to learn about pregnancy together, which I’ve loved! {wink}

Individually, my sisters have been there for me as well. Mary comes over every Tuesday for our baby class, and she always looks for ways to help me while she’s there. Mary has mopped my kitchen floor, cleaned my bathroom tiles {what truer expression of love!}, organized my pantry, put away my off-season clothes, and moved heavy boxes for me so far – besides managing my nutrition, making me exercise, and taking candid pregnant pics! It’s a sweet part of my week to have her over and spend some quality time with her.

When I had a cold a few weeks ago, Christine showed up at my door with a care package {hot tomato soup, a glossy new Real Simple magazine, & a cute get-well card} that made me smile and feel a hundred times better. I think she masterminds most of the baking projects that find their way to me {banana cookies, homemade macaroni & cheese, gluten-free brownies}… and when we were wondering how to fit a potentially giant pile of baby accessories in the apartment, she took on the challenge of drawing diagrams and sketching out the best way to use our space. Christine took me on my first *long* walk {4 miles at the Trader Joe’s greenway} and that walk inspired me to aim for 2 miles a day at our local park. Most recently, she found a knitting pattern for a cozy sweater I could wear this winter, and made it for me!* It’s raspberry-colored, of course. {grin} Christine is naturally upbeat, a real party girl, and I always look forward to her newest bright idea for social events.

*note: everyone generously chipped in for the yarn

Julianna is busy with her own EXCITING plans, of course, {!!} but she still manages to be a part of the pregnancy experience. I love how she always greets me with an enthusiastic hug and the exclamation “loved one!” {grin} Julianna made a weekly walking date with me for early Wednesday mornings, which has been a great opportunity to catch up with each other! Two weeks ago, we invited Julianna and her fiancé over for Erev Shabbat dinner, and Julianna insisted on bringing the entire meal for us so I didn’t have to cook. Amazing!

It is one of the greatest joys in my life right now to see how involved my sisters are with Raspberry, even before she makes her entrance into the world! They are so genuinely pleased about having a niece, while I am thrilled about the influence these righteous women will have on my daughter.

My brother’s reaction to the pregnancy has perhaps been the most unexpected. He hasn’t had much exposure to babies, and I wasn’t sure, initially, if he would feel a personal connection to Raspberry, or merely observe her from a detached distance. To my delight, he entered the baby preparations wholeheartedly– and in his understated way I think he’s just as excited as I am. {grin} He has educated himself on pregnancy, coming out with interesting trivia and unusual facts every now and then. Peter even surprised me with a generous offer to babysit once a week, so Greg & I could have some time to ourselves! {I can totally see him holding little Raspberry and explaining the basics of public key cryptography to her [using raspberries instead of avocados, naturally] while she looks up at him thoughtfully…} A couple months ago, Peter did an entire load of laundry for me at his house, folded it, and personally brought it over on his lunch break. I couldn’t believe it! He is unfailingly helpful and caring. {hug}

When it comes to my mom, the question is where to start! Seems like her goal is to always send me home with something useful – from fresh homegrown veggies to coupons to clothes from her own stylish closet. I’ve consulted her on innumerable points about pregnancy/childbirth, and she has patiently replied to every question with {as usual} down-to-earth advice. Even though I don’t live at The Residence anymore, I feel like Mums still takes care of me. I loved a comment she made when we were talking about the new year ahead {around Rosh HaShanah}, about feeling like she would be losing Julianna this year but replacing her with Raspberry, in a sense. {grin} It is so wonderful to know that my mom truly wants to be around her grandchildren and play a key part in their upbringing.

Recently Mums joined a cute ladies gym in Matthews and gave me a class pass so we could go together. I’m really enjoying taking a couple of classes there each week!

Last but not least, my dad is exuberant about the birth of his first grandchild {which means telling everyone about it}. In fact, he already put up a playset in the backyard for “the grandchildren” {months ago!}. My dad is always considerate about including Greg & I in whatever the family is doing. I can tell he already loves Raspberry, and I can’t wait to see him with her.

In conclusion, a HUGE thank you to my family – I love each of you very much!


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

2 Months & Pictures!

A few weeks back, Greg & I went up to Southpark for a wedding photo shoot… which Julianna posted about on the Squicciarini Family blog. Here’s a few of our pictures!

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Last night we had dinner guests with a particular purpose – Greg wanted to thank my dad for his business advice + help, including the glowing recommendation he gave to Greg’s current employer. For the last few months Greg has been brainstorming the best way to do this, and he came up with the fantastic idea to invite my parents for dinner, get my dad a special gift, and present it to him with a eloquent speech. Dad loved it! We had such a delightful time with them. I made parmesan crusted tilapia with mashed potatoes, cherry tomato crisp, and blueberry-walnut salads {& everything came out good, Baruch HaShem}.

Today we have been married for two months exactly… and we’re STILL incredibly happy! We celebrated with gifts, hugs, and a fabulous evening together. {grin}

Shabbat shalom, everyone! Mums reminded me of a great thought from Abraham Joshua Heschel: man makes places in space {buildings}, but G-d creates places in time {Shabbat}… so let’s enter His Place this evening and enjoy our day of rest!


PS: {hug} to Anna Del Mul and Thelma Haller, who have been reading my blog for a year now! Can you believe – at this time last year I had just gotten engaged! {yay} Thank you both for your interest & encouragement!

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, Planning, Squicciarini family, Thoughts, Wedding

3 Days

Blessed are You, Adonai my G-d, King of the universe, Who has kept me alive, sustained me and, through one miracle after another, has brought me to this time. Amen.

*can’t believe* how much happened today…

We were supposed to go grocery shopping this morning, have lunch at the apartment, and do a mikveh there. But… little change of plans {due to an unforeseen delay in getting the electricity turned on}, we ended up postponing grocery shopping until tomorrow. {quote from Mums: “aren’t you glad we’re flexible?”} So I packed up the rest of my belongings, and we headed over to the apartment around 9am – put {more} clothes away, rearranged my kitchen with some new gifts {LOVE the food processor, Mrs. Burroughs!}, and made up the bed with crisp green & white sheets + my pretty pintucked duvet cover from West Elm + matching shams + embroidered bride/groom pillowcases. After about an hour, we went home, where I got ready for my mikveh.

The new mikveh location became my mom’s bathroom. She has both a shower and bathtub, making it the perfect place. I was a little uncertain about the whole thing… never done this before! Put together a basket of supplies: a robe, clean {white} clothes, towel, toothbrush/toothpaste, soap, a facial scrub, washcloth, etc… plus my instructions page from Mayyim Hayyim, and started by reading the seven kavanot {intentions/steps} they suggested. Excellent points! Here they are again:

  1. Here I am.
  2. The unadorned body is beautiful in itself.
  3. You fashioned the human being intricate in design.
  4. I am made in the image of G-d.
  5. The soul in me is pure.
  6. The breath of every living thing praises You.
  7. We can stand for justice; we can build a world of peace and justice.

These seven steps include taking a shower and thoroughly washing every part of the body {as they put it, “with thoughtful attention to the miracle of your own body”}. Then you get out, dry off, and continue preparing for immersion – brushing teeth, combing hair, cleaning inside ears and fingernails, etc. The immersion itself involves going completely underwater three times – surprisingly difficult in a bathtub! Still, it was a unique experience. It begins with a prayer {“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer”} and ends with this declaration:

“My G-d, Creator and Sustainer of all life, may I step forth into a life filled with continued wisdom and deeds of kindness. May I step forward into a life filled with the blessings of new beginnings. May I be a loving mate, partner, and friend to my beloved. May the words of my mouth, the meditations of my heart, and this act of sanctification seal my devotion to a life of Torah {G-d’s instructions}, Avodah {worship}, and Gemilut Chasidim {acts of kindness}; a life of learning Your ways, a life of standing in Your presence, a life made holy by acts of loving kindness.”

Had a sense of calm and peace afterward, refocused on the spiritual side of my impending marriage. I know the water doesn’t literally do anything, but it symbolizes the change I am making, choosing to become “one with another life,” and the internal cleansing – spiritual purification – which I desire.

The girls made an incredible lunch – kind of our “bride’s luncheon” {fresh fruit, quinoa, poached eggs, dark chocolate, and Lambrusco – very light and healthy} and gave me a gift basket from all of them! It had a dainty scarf {to wear while praying, as married women do}, a handpainted pottery havdalah set + white candle, a sequined challah bread cover, and even sparkly Shabbat candles – I’ve never seen anything like them. Julianna brought most of this back from Jerusalem. {wow!} I’ve been reflecting that presents, at least to me, mean more when they are personal – implying that the giver understands me well enough to know my taste, for example {or beliefs, as the case may be}. These beautiful gifts from my sisters, symbols of our faith, meant a lot to me. I can see myself doing the same thing for them – in fact, I can’t wait! {grin}

After lunch we went to get our nails done – I opted for a French manicure and pedicure, wanting to keep the look elegant and not too flashy or conspicuous – and then went our separate ways to do errands. Mums picked up the flowers and delivered them to our “florist” {hug for Mrs. H}.

Tonight, of course, was the rehearsal, and it went beautifully {baruch HaShem}. I am very pleased. My family arrived a little early and set up the chuppah, including the tallit suspended above it, and it is perfect. Once everyone was there, we went through the first part of the ceremony several times, talked about placement and timing… Dad did a great job keeping us on track and directing everyone. A big thank you to Jonathan, Carl, Tiffany, and Brandy, for being there tonight! Oh, and the masks worked out very well! I felt ridiculous in mine but inwardly thrilled that we rose to the challenge of making this week different.

There is really nothing to be nervous about. {grin} My part in the ceremony, overall, is quite small. What I am feeling is more anticipation, almost impatience. As we practiced tonight I couldn’t wait to do this for real, in just a few days {hours!}. Getting married is something I am confident about – feeling pretty sure we are not rushing into it, but rather both ready to make a commitment, and ready to begin our life together.

A few other notes: 1} my Uncle Fred and Aunt Stephanie are in town!! We haven’t seen them yet, but they arrived tonight. It’s been a couple years since they came down {from NY}, so the Squicciarini family is psyched about having them here. 2} Got an unexpected note from my friend Jennifer Sisk, wishing Greg and I much happiness on our wedding day. Thank you, Mrs. Sisk – what a sweet email!! 3} Received a VERY unusual wedding gift, one that has an intriguing story with it {Venice and veterinarians…}. Unfortunately this post is already enormous, so I’ll save that for another time. {grin}

& check out Dad’s review of the tzadik class this past Tuesday – fantastic!