Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

wedding week {Julianna}

So. My sister Julianna got married last week. {!!} Still somewhat hard to believe. She and her husband, my brother-in-law Joshua Spurlock, are honeymooning in the city of love this week… and once they return, there will officially be two of us in what is becoming a select group of married Squicciarini girls who live in tiny homes a few miles from the Family Residence.

A review of the wedding week from my perspective as Sister Of The Bride

+ Sunday kicked things off with brunch for the ladies at 1pm {“bird’s nests” + baked brie}. The berry sat on my lap and happily sampled egg yolk, just like one of the big girls. We went up to Southpark Mall for a shopping spree afterward where I got headbands for both of us {Sophia: Nordstrom; moi: LOFT}. Meanwhile, the men went trap shooting with Joshua at the Charlotte Rifle & Pistol range.

+ Monday Julianna had scheduled appointments at {our new favorite grooming place} the European Wax Center. Sophia & I checked out Great Things consignment store next door and found a perfect {very chic} LBD for Julianna to bring to Paris! Later, I sent Julianna her Sheva Berachot schedule for the week – our community opened up their homes to celebrate the new couple each night.

+ Tuesday we had intended to meet for Bible study as usual, but we ended up changing our plan in order to bring a meal over to the Uphams instead. The gift Greg & I had ordered {from Israel} for Julianna & Josh finally arrived, so I wrapped it and added a “congratulations” card.

+ Wednesday we went to The Residence for lunch with a houseful of people – Uncle Fred & Aunt Stephanie {from Rochester, NY}, Jacob & Heather Meyers + their sons Asher & Zev {from TN}, and Mary Norris {from Israel}. That afternoon we all went for manicures and pedicures at My Bella Spa… I decided on a gold-lined French manicure {loved it!} and skipped my toes since they wouldn’t show. Sophia was such a good girl! {This was my first manicure since the berry arrived, and frankly I don’t see how other moms do it. If I hadn’t had a bunch of women passing Sophia around, there’s no way I could have given my nails time to dry! Needless to say, quite a treat.} The group headed down to Rock Hill to decorate the venue while I took Sophia home and made dinner. That night I went over to spend the evening with Julianna after her mikveh… she and Peter and I talked for an hour or two before bed.

+ Thursday {the big day!} Greg got off work early and we had an early dinner at Earth Fare on our way down to Brakefield. Sophia and I dressed in the Bride’s Room with the other girls and sipped sidecars while Julianna had her makeup done. Heather, the very pregnant photographer, nimbly climbed around the furniture to get some lovely preparation shots. The men gathered in the Groom’s Room to witness the ketubah being signed {complete with celebratory whiskey shots} and hear a Torah teaching from Joshua. Experiencing the wedding as an observer was breathtaking… I almost cried when Joshua entered the Bride’s room to veil Julianna and they looked at each other for the first time in a week – so romantic! Each moment was full of joy and anticipation. Their ceremony was almost exactly like mine {and now I realize that every wedding has little idiosyncrasies!}… short and to the point, rich with tradition, concluded by a triumphant shout of “mazel tov!” As for the reception, it almost seems like a blur… old friends to catch up with, new friends to meet, new family members to hug… it was spectacular.

+ Friday I made food for the weekend {Julianna and Josh did a photoshoot with Heather – sneak peeks here!} and we joined my family for an informal Erev Shabbat with the northern Squicciarinis {their last night in CLT}, the Grant family {from TN}, and the Wright clan {from FL}. Sophia loved playing with the Grant girls, Mara and Belle… I would have two amazing babysitters if they didn’t live so far away!

+ Shabbat ended the wedding week with one of the biggest Bella Torah services we’ve ever had… most of our regular members + the visiting Spurlock relatives and other out-of-town {and in-town!} guests. We had made arrangements to hold the service at the Holiday Inn, in their spacious conference room, and it worked out splendidly. {I have been spoiled by meeting at my parents’ home, where I can put Sophia down for a nap, but holding her gave me a chance to have terrific conversations with two women I admire greatly – Jessie Wilson and Diana Nunez.}

Quite a week…

Weddings are such sweet memories. I love how they bring so many people together, people that might otherwise never cross paths. I am already looking forward to the next one!

=)

Note: I don’t have pics from the wedding yet, but they’re coming!

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, 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. 😦

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

beach baby

Sophia’s typical finger-over-nose pose

Madison sent me a bunch of pictures from our visit to KY in July, and seeing them brought back fun memories of being there. {hello, Hacketts!} I haven’t seen Madison since then, but I’m hoping she is able to visit for Julianna’s wedding {NEXT MONTH} and stay with me again!

So… guess where the Bartos family is?! The beach! We are spending a few days at Myrtle Beach, and heading back to Charlotte on Sunday, just in time to pick up some fresh fish and celebrate Rosh HaShanah with friends! There was a lot to pack for this trip {and we only have one baby…} I have a whole new appreciation for my mom’s hard work in packing our family up to spend a week at Ocean Isle every summer! I think the carefree beach days are gone… but they’ve been replaced by responsibility, efficiency, and a firm intention to savor each moment here.

So far, Sophia LOVES the lazy river and the heated pool. She is curious about the ocean and determined to taste a handful of sand. She does not like Martin’s Restaurant. {grin}

~

{missed last week’s update – oops} Last two weeks at a glance :

  • watched Singin’ in the Rain with Greg {a feature film, quite rare for us}… had the songs stuck in my head for days
  • joined the Improving Birth rally on Labor Day to protest the unnecessary number of inductions and c-sections in the US {our first demonstration… so much fun!}; besides waving signs outside Presbyterian Hospital, we got to catch up with Jackie Kuschner! {my midwife}
  • purchased a Beaba Babycook {!!} on Craigslist… continued giving Sophia tiny amounts of pureed veggies at dinner time
  • had a celebratory dinner with the Squicciarini family {not sure if we were celebrating Labor Day or Peter’s return from almost a week in Tacoma, WA} of grilled kosher sausages
  • made Tyler Florence’s Berry Trifle for the first time! {with some assistance from Mary}
  • played a small part in hosting Julianna’s lovely bridal shower at Laura Guido’s home {got a turquoise Cuisinart immersion blender for Julianna, one of my favorite kitchen tools!}
  • spent a delightful afternoon with my cousin Sarah Stelzl {& received a delicious homemade gluten-free pumpkin pie from her!}
  • went out to dinner with the extended Squicciarini clan {the fam + Josh & Isaac} at one of their favorite places, Arooji’s Ristorante in Southpark
  • hosted an informal birthday dinner for Greg’s dad {Jet’s Pizza}
  • spent a Shabbat day with the Bella Torah Community, then came home and read all of Howard Rutledge’s book “In The Presence Of Mine Enemies” {an inspiring POW account} with Greg
  • celebrated our first Grandparents Day with Sophia’s first art project! We used ink pads to make cards with her handprints, and delivered them to Grandpa & Nonni in Fort Mill and Grandpa & Grandma in Matthews {thank you for the reminder, Mrs. Martin!}
  • discussed conspiracy theories {9/11?} with Pete… saw a few eye-opening YouTube videos
  • randomly saw Julianna at the new Whole Foods, did the 2nd Matthew lesson with my little Bible Study group, took Sophia to Southpark Mall for a quick errand, and… packed for the beach!
  • drove to Wilmington in search of a gluten-free sweet cinnamon bread for Rosh HaShanah {mission: successful}
  • shopped the Tanger Outlets and got Greg a few pairs of socks at Clarks {he couldn’t resist their lifetime warranty}
  • yet to come: an afternoon on the beach and a quiet Shabbat by ourselves – can’t wait!

=)

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 ~

=)