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

ode to Isaac + Christine

{Background on Christine… Out of four sisters, Christine is “the pretty one,” the one most likely to be a model – vibrant, expressive, and sophisticated. She’s a bubbly party girl, a bon vivant, a talented artist, a creative genius, a hilarious comedienne, and a wealth of information. She has excellent taste, displayed in her fashionable accessories, enviable shoe collection, and bright yellow MINI Cooper. You’ll find that beneath her blonde hair and sweet smile is a sharp sense of humor, a bundle of common sense, and a generous spirit.}

Last Sunday, Greg and I attended a lovely engagement party for Christine and Isaac, hosted by Bobby and Jodi Pittenger. One of the highlights of the occasion, for me, was meeting many of Isaac’s relatives and friends for the first time! Until now, I’ve only known his mother, Gloria.

{Background on Gloria… G-d brought her into our lives in an unusual way! Years ago, when I was working for Quo Vadis, I stepped outside while visiting a client site in Matthews and struck up a conversation with a sweet lady walking by who turned out to work next door. After introductions, as we chatted, I noticed that her necklace looked like it was made of Hebrew letters strung together. I commented on it, and found that we practiced the same faith! In the end, I invited her for Erev Shabbat dinner with my family, and that was the start of our friendship with Gloria Alexander. How amazing that her son is now marrying my sister! Only our G-d could have arranged such a “coincidental” meeting.}

Besides being a splendid time with friends and family, the event on Sunday gave me a chance to reflect on Isaac and Christine. They are absolutely right for each other, from appearances {picture-perfect} to personalities {suitably complimentary}.

{Brief DISC analysis… while Isaac and Christine share a fun-loving sanguine quality, he is predominately a choleric, bringing out her natural phlegmatic side. It’s a good mix – we haven’t observed a single disagreement so far!}

Their relationship reminds me of Eric & Leslie Ludy’s book When G-d Writes Your Love Story. Isaac and Christine have a beautiful story of love and redemption… my dad referenced this in his comments at the party Sunday night. The changes we have seen in Isaac over the past two years testify to how complete a transformation takes place when a man surrenders his life to the will of Almighty G-d. He and Christine wrote a tennaim document {a traditional “contract” stating terms and conditions of the wedding} which they signed at the engagement party, and as Isaac read it to everyone present, we were so proud of him for having the courage to make such a public statement of his faith – and proud of both of them for growing together in their observance and practice.

Hearing Isaac announce his intention to marry Christine under the chuppah next May was a joyful moment for Greg and I! We eagerly anticipate the culmination of their courtship and the start of a new life for this beautiful couple.

Isaac and Christine, we praise G-d for bringing you together! May the Holy One lead you along the path of righteousness as you prepare for marriage. We love you!

=)

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, 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!}

=)

Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Squicciarini family, Wedding

14 Weeks

This week we passed the 3-month mark, as I mentioned, and celebrated by hosting a “housewarming” party Monday night. There were about 20 people here, our largest social occasion to date… {grin} and we had a great time! The evening centered around the performance of a mitzvah {as it should} – affixing our mezuzah to the front door. Our beautiful mezuzah was something Greg gave me when he asked me to marry him. I’ve kept it in a little Brighton bag ever since then, waiting for the day we would nail it to the door of our home. Although we could have hung it up sooner by ourselves, we wanted to gather friends together to witness the event – and I’m so glad we did! In commemoration we opened a bottle of Yarden Brut, an Israeli champagne given to us as an engagement gift by the Spurlock family.

Still getting used to running events solo {quantities, layout, crowd flow, etc}… fortunately Christine helped me with all kinds of advice and she came over early, bringing snacks + a huge bouquet of giant sunflowers. {hug!}

We had asked each guest to bring a blessing for our home, but didn’t specify what type of blessing, so we ended up with some meaningful written blessings, as well as some physical ones {like a bottle of wine!} from our thoughtful friends.

I want to wish you both congratulations on your 3-month anniversary and new home! May HaShem bring your marriage every blessing imaginable & fill your cup to overflowing. May you always delight in the love of G-d and of each other! I Corinthians 13.13: “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-Jennie Gonzalez
 
Enjoy your new home! May you be a blessing to everyone around you as you use your home and your wonderful gift of hospitality! Much love,
-Katelyn
 
Happy home! 🙂 You guys are already so hospitable in your new place. We hope this gift card just adds to the beautiful home you’ve already begun to create. We love you both dearly and enjoy being your friends!
-Love Emily & Jeremy
 
Congrats on your reaching the three-month milestone in your marriage! May HaShem bless your home always with perfect peace. May it be a place of refuge from the world’s troubles. May it be a place filled with HaShem’s presence, and may He reward you for so graciously following our father Abraham’s example in opening your home to others. Many blessings,
-Joshua S.

{thank you all for such kind words!}

our mezuzah
using it for the first time!

I love having friends over. I prefer it to happen when my home is neat… not really a big deal since our space is fairly easy to maintain. {grin} Our goal as a couple and as a family is to continually practice hospitality {cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those G-d brings into our life} through every circumstance. If we don’t open our home when we’re tired, when we don’t feel up to it, when we have an early morning the next day, when we’ve had a really busy week, when we don’t have enough space, or when our house isn’t perfect, then we’ll never do it, right?! Anyway, that’s our intention… now for putting it into practice. {grin}

The week concluded with a wedding yesterday – Chris Russell & Brenna Robinson were married at Ballantyne Country Club and we were delighted to be there and celebrate with them. On the way there we read the Sheva Berachot in honor of them, and I found a recording on YouTube that sounds exactly like a Hebrew opera! We didn’t really know anyone else there, although we have met the Russell & Robinson families before {& there were two sweet girls at our table who remembered us from Chris & Brenna’s engagement party a few months ago}, so basically it felt like a very elegant dinner date. {grin} We even got to dance! {yes… we do occasionally dance}. It was quite an enjoyable evening, and surprisingly we made it home in time for havdalah… an extra blessing. We are hoping to have Chris & Brenna over for dinner when they return from their honeymoon and settle into married life.

us at Chris & Brenna's reception

=)

PS: sorted through photos this morning and added a few pics of our seder! You can see them here – scroll down to the slideshow.

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, Thoughts, Wedding

reflections after 1 month

Yesterday as I put clothes away + straightened up the house, I felt a sudden wave of indignation for Golde {in Fiddler on the Roof} when Tevye asks if she loves him. OF COURSE she does! She spends her days cooking, cleaning, and raising children for him – what more proof of love do you need! Doing that kind of labor for someone day after day, and not minding it because your motivation is unselfish love, is an experience unique to marriage, I believe. Trust me, as the oldest of five I used to help around the house all the time – it’s not the same. {grin} That thought was followed quickly by a sigh of relief at my ability to handle household tasks. What if I didn’t know how to make a bed {with crisp hospital corners}, properly iron a dress shirt, set the table correctly, or plan a menu? I might feel a bit helpless… or at the least disorganized. So thank you, Mom, for those years of great practice!

In other news, it has been a matter of great importance to come up with a name for ourselves, as Greg’s parents are also the Bartos family and it becomes confusing to be part of the same fellowship. Several people have used “Bartos II” for us, which works… but we now refer to ourselves informally as “Bartosini” {an Italian twist on the name, referring to the fact that we are the smaller Bartos family, having only 2 people rather than 3}.

In the past month:

  • we established new bank accounts and got matching debit cards from USAA
  • we saved money on car insurance by switching to Geico {well, I did… Greg was already there}
  • I have cooked 3 Shabbat dinners and numerous weekday meals
  • we made plans for our first {married} day trip… heading down to Tybee Island for Autumn & Gideon’s wedding!
  • we saved money on our rent by catching a mistake {gotta keep our landlord honest -frown-}
  • we have watched exactly 3 feature films
  • I have only gone shopping once, and it was to celebrate my mom’s birthday {a decent excuse -wink-}
  • we went over {together} to visit our families twice each
  • we had 4 Shabbat days… 2 quietly relaxing alone at home, 1 in the Bahamas, and 1 at Bella Torah.
  • we entertained twice… 1 friend & 4 siblings
  • we got a coffee pot & consistently enjoyed really good coffee {!!!}

Here, at long last, is a picture I just received from a friend… a tiny taste of my wedding day, bringing back a rush of poignant memories.

=)

The Pohlman family is hosting a seder for anyone who would like to attend. It is a “Teaching Seder,” intended for families to learn and then be able to do their own Seder in the future. 

This is a “potluck” style meal, so bring enough food for your family and some to share.

Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Thoughts

first anniversary

So… it’s our one month anniversary. {grin} I know, these tiny milestones might seem silly. It’s all part of enjoying married life. Greg & I looked at each other this morning and we both said “I love being married to you!” I even got a “happy anniversary” text message from a very thoughtful sister {thank you, Julianna!}.

We got an unexpected gift {& blessing!} today, which seems appropriate since it is, as mentioned, our anniversary. My uncle Adam sent us a bright cherry red set of superb Le Creuset cookware. We love it!

Our rabbi sent the sweetest note to us recently:

Shalom King and Queen (that’s your title for the next year)!

I’ve been keeping up with you both. The sheva berachot seemed to be really amazing. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Birkat Hamazon out loud!! Now that’s impressive! {…} I’m so happy for you both and I know that Hashem has His hands in your lives. I just wanted you to know that if there is ever anything I can for you over here in the Holy Land, please don’t hesitate to ask. {…} In the mean time, may Hashem bless you with beautiful Shalom Bayit, the most important ingredient for life!

Shalom from Jerusalem!

You know, we do have shalom bayit {a home filled wih peace}. Baruch HaShem indeed!

=)

PS: Greg just showed me how to post a slideshow here on wordpress! I am going to put a bunch of our honeymoon photos up tomorrow. {!!}