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, 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, 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!

=)

Greg & Morgan, Planning, Squicciarini family, Wedding

4 Days

The week continues to fly by…

Yesterday contained: a trip to the spa w/ mom & the girls; the purchase of a “wedding glass” to smash {finally}; a few other errands; shopping w/ friends; a unique gift from mom; and dinner at a cute place in Blakeney, Zoe’s Kitchen. Meanwhile Greg had a pizza party at The Residence, including a special occasion tzadik class focused on elements of a great marriage! He also tried on his kittel {borrowed from Mr. Spurlock}, and said it “wasn’t as bad as he thought.” The kittel is a white robe the groom normally wears. It’s white, the color of purity, and a subtle reminder of his mortality {in Judaism, people are buried in these white robes}. Greg was imagining a bathrobe… not quite what he’d prefer to wear on his wedding day. Greg is really quite stylish. He has 2 years worth of GQ on our bookshelf, if that gives you any indication. {wink}

Today, Christine set up a special class for us at her gym! We spent an hour stretching/de-stressing, and then went to the sauna… {wow} This afternoon I finished emptying my room, prepared for the mikveh tomorrow, completed a slideshow for the museum lobby screen, and wrote my vows! Sooo productive. {grin}

Christine, Mary, and I took a run up to Southpark tonight in the Beetle, to make a few returns. Mary made us a “wedding week” playlist on her iPod with cute playful music we can sing along to… and we’ve been enjoying it the past few days! And speaking of shopping, I took the opportunity recently to place a few last-minute orders: Soma, Hapari, Folica, and Vistaprint. {grin} Because… it was necessary to stock up on a few essentials while I still have money in my bank account!

So it’s been 4 days without Greg. {wow} We’ve been talking about once a day, just to catch up for a minute – no long conversations. This has really spiked our anticipation! Tomorrow is the rehearsal, and I ran into Party City today and got a little butterfly mask to wear… I’ll try to get a silly picture of us in our masks. {grin}

=)

Married Life, Planning, Squicciarini family, Thoughts, Wedding

Mikveh

The custom of a bride immersing herself right before her wedding is an important part of Judaism. Mikveh, like the Christian idea of baptism, indicates a change of status. There’s a mikveh in Boston called Mayyim Hayim {living waters}, with a fantastic website – I would LOVE to visit them someday. They have an outline of the immersion ceremony for a bride {here} and a great explanation of mikveh preparationSO inspiring. I am planning to have a little ceremony next week – obviously not to Orthodox standards, but as much I am able to do – probably with my mother and sisters. Excited about it!

However, this tradition raises the thought-provoking subject of family purity {taharat mishpachah}

Coincidentally, my friend Lina at A Set Apart Life recently did a series of posts on this subject {the Mikveh, Part I and Part II}. Lina got a lot of feedback – I admire the way she confidently shares her thoughts, though it always surprises me how much controversy/debate occasionally gets stirred up on her blog. {If you’re not familiar with family purity, do a little research! What an interesting part of femininity.}

My own thoughts are fairly simple. I like this quote:

“As interpreted in the strict halakhah, the rules of family purity are especially onerous unfortunately. The basic idea of temporary withdrawal and immersion are, however, notions of powerful symbolic force and constitute an important category in Jewish law. Certainly they are worthy of discussion and consideration, even if most of us will decide that the entire range of rules are impossible of observance.”
-Rabbi Stephen Lerner

By “the entire range of rules,” Rabbi Lerner is referring to Orthodox halachah. I agree – they are especially onerous! What Greg and I have decided to do is start off our marriage with a “basic idea of temporary withdrawal and immersion,” seeking always to move forward in our observance. Our goal is to simply obey the Scripture, and perhaps gradually add more of a “fence” around it.

“Fundamentally, mikveh is not about “uncleanness” but about human encounters with the power of the holy.”
-Anita Diamant

=)

Greg & Morgan, Planning, Squicciarini family, Thoughts, Wedding

14 Days

The trip to Asheville, to pick up our chuppah, ended up being even better than we had hoped. We left this morning around 10am, and went straight to Posana Cafe for a delicious gluten-free brunch. Greg and I have decided we want to invest in Posana stock. We love that place!

Then we met our AMAZING architect, Steven Rogers, and his associate John, to see the chuppah! They had assembled it for us, so we could get the full effect, and… WOW. We were astonished. It is gorgeous… dark brown wood, highly polished, forming a simple, elegant framework. It is 8x8x8, as we requested. The pieces attach to each other with hooks, like antique furniture. It is truly a work of art. After the men took it apart, we carefully wrapped up the boards, packed them up, and headed back to Charlotte. The chuppah is now safely stored in the Charlotte Museum of History’s loading dock. Baruch HaShem for a safe trip to Asheville and back, for His mercy to us along the way, and for the unexpected blessing of such a lovely chuppah. Also a HUGE thank you to our dear friends Rick & Beverly Hergenreter, for their gracious offer to drop everything and come along with us, plus lend us their truck! It was tricky figuring out how to transport the chuppah, but we worked it out.

So we got back to my house, and cooked dinner together! At the end of dinner, Greg opened a little box of Godiva and found, to his complete shock, a wedding band inside. {grin} Jewish tradition is that you don’t trade rings at the wedding, because that would make it invalid. Only the bride gets a ring. However, many Jewish men, especially in America, choose to wear a wedding band to show they are married. I had decided to give Greg his wedding band now, and leave it up to him when he wanted to start wearing it. {I think he will wait until after the wedding ceremony} It was VERY exciting! I love surprising him… he is so adorable.

One of the things we talked about today was the idea of having personal vows in the ceremony. We came up with a pretty cool idea about how to implement vows in a meaningful way that would fit with our wedding. We are planning to work on them tomorrow night. {yay}

I came home to a surprise on my bed… my mom has made me a delicate lace bolero to wear over my wedding dress. {!!} It is SO pretty! She knew I was wishing there was a way to cover my shoulders, and came up with this creative alternative. Mums, I *love* it – thank you so much! It looks a lot like this one, but without the price tag. {wink} I am going to try it on with the dress sometime this week.

We “labeled” our wedding favors tonight. I don’t know how that tradition started… having to put stickers with names + dates on random items just because we’re giving them out at a wedding. I almost wanted to avoid doing it, just to make a point… but in the end, we happened to have a few sheets of labels sitting around here unused, so I thought, why not?

The subject of mikveh {family purity} has come up a few times recently, and I’ve been meaning to address it. This post is already long, so I’ll save those thoughts for tomorrow. {grin} Well, 2 weeks left! Strangely, I am feeling more and more calm in the last few days, even though we are really down to the wire! One week from today, we will be kicking off our pre-wedding week of celebration… I can’t wait. Life is blissful.

=)