Category Archives: It Worked For Me

Breakfast Dating

Dating your spouse gets a little more complicated when you add kids to your household.

You may or may not know that Brian and I are partial to Breakfast Dates… it’s our favorite meal to pay for. It’s been our sneaky way of fitting in dates without breaking the bank on restaurant tabs and babysitting fees. You see Brian gets every other Friday off, its just the way his work schedule works, and on those Friday’s off the big kids are in school and for the last three years or so we’ve only had a baby (or a “little” as we affectionately call them) at home during that time. We can totally take one little with us on a breakfast date and have a great time.

Breakfast dates are more forgiving for lots of reasons…

  • The food is delicious and satisfying first thing in the morning.
  • You can be more casually dressed for breakfast dates… because you did just get out of bed.
  • Everyone’s on their best behavior. Adults and kids alike. No one has the stress of the day on them yet and everyone is just happy to be getting served.
  • Other guests at restaurants are more forgiving of little’s because its early, everyone is getting their coffee fixes and belly’s filled… who doesn’t want to smile at a cute baby enjoying a pancake? #getsomecutebaby No child is going to break the romantic atmosphere for anyone.
  • The foods are easier for little’s to enjoy along side you, so you aren’t as likely to fight them to eat their food. I don’t know any kid who can’t find something delicious to eat on a breakfast menu… plus if they can bring you a side of fruit and hot chocolate or juice with a lid and a straw… forget about it!
  • Kids or no kids… you can order all the food you want, leave full and still only pay about half the price of an actual dinner date with the same amount of people. #truestory #daveramseyapproved

Suffice to say… Breakfast Dates are the bomb!

[Especially in San Diego: Snooze, The Mission, Richard Walker Pancake House, Hash House, Great Maple, Trails Eatery, Crushed, The Cottage, Brockton Villa, El Cajon Bistro and Janet’s Montana Cafe are some of our favorites!!! Man we miss breakfasts in San Diego. If you are in San Diego go to anyone of these places for us stat.]


Flash forward to living abroad in Italy.

It’s been over three months since our last breakfast date.

Worse still… breakfast places are not exactly a thing here.

If we are being honest… breakfast is barely a thing here.

A croissant and an espresso just aren’t going to cut it… especially for Brian who’s go to breakfast item is the Country Fried Steak and Eggs with a side of Biscuits and Gravy. I’m more partial to the sweets with French Toast topping my faves followed by a good Eggs Bene.  Oy. What are we to do?!

In passing I shared this sorrow with a girlfriend here in Italy and she said she had just been to a breakfast place not too far away.


Doth my ears deceive me? 


Midnight Cafe (Aversa)… we are headed your way!

As soon as I told Brian he was a skeptic. A “cafe” is not his idea of a hearty breakfast and he has low tolerance for anything frou-frou when it comes to foods… well what do you want from me Brian, we live in Italy now thanks to you (I swing back and forth on this issue but really he’s the reason we’re here… I will concede that that door does swing both ways… so any fun we enjoy while living here is also his fault).

But I assured him their specialty was pancakes. Pancakes?! Pancakes aren’t going to fill me up. I had to finish explaining that they had a savory/salty pancake menu and a sweet pancake menu. Either way we had to try it… it was breakfast-like in Italy.


Now let me tell you all something about going just about anywhere in Italy… it is unpredictable and flat out stressful with a side of scary. Siri does not take into account the size of our minivan and the size of the roads when she decides to take us along a route. There are many times we are turning through tiny streets that seem to get narrower and narrower into the heart of a city and my biggest fear would be getting wedged between two buildings.


So after a lot of scary turns to a location that was allegedly only 15 minutes away from our house,  we simply parked at the next slightly open town center that we found because I couldn’t take the stress of the tiny roads with zippy Italian drivers anymore. Did I mention I was the one driving? You also have to tip sketchy looking car attendants to do this so they’ll look out for your car.

We were still a mile away from our destination. “We’ll just walk,” Brian said, “this was your idea… so whatever, don’t look at me.” I told him to smack me the next time I suggested just heading into town for anything like it is no biggie. #thestruggleisreal

The only plus side to walking was getting to walk behind this stinky cutie who was making googly eyes at me the whole time we attempted to navigate walking directions from Siri.


We turned the twelth corner and we could see the light! Midnight Cafe was in our reach. When we finally reached our destination we were greeted by this amusing sign: Pancake & Food. I guess that is why we are here. Ha!


This too caught me eye as we entered.


I love when Italians know you are American… probably walking in and saying “Hi” instead or “Ciao” was our giveaway. #rookies But they told us to sit wherever and brought us a menu. I forgot to get a picture of the Savory/Salty Pancake Menu but here was the Sweet Pancake Menu.


We asked for his recommendations and he suggested the Cheddar, Bacon, Crunchy Onion Savory Pancake with Midnight Sauce for Brian (a very American recommendation) and the special of the day the Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Whip with Chocolate Chips for me. Sounded great! We asked for little pancakes for Lolo to enjoy, our new favorite drink “Ace” (pronounced Ache) which is a carrot, orange, lemon maybe pineapple mix of amazing-ness and a cappuccino.


The sweet pancakes came out first. And yum-o. Just look!


The Nutella Baby Pancakes for Lolo were a hit and my Red Velvet Pancake was amazing. I was worried it would be too sweet, and I am a sweets kind of girl, but no it was perfection. [Like receiving gum from Jill Goodacre in an atm vestibule #friends]

Then Brian’s savory pancake came out. Another ooooo moment. It smelled goood… and that that I knew it had onions on it.


He was satisfied with this double decker pancake tower of bacon, cheese and onion. That is saying something if you know how Brian eats.

So the moral of this story is that Breakfasts Dates might look a little different in Italy, but we can get er’ done… maybe with a more open mind of what breakfast can look like, a few more turns and a lot of walking… but hey maybe that is the tale of how Italians keep their bella figura. We will continue hunting for Breakfast Date opportunities in Italy to keep the fun alive.




Got a breakfast date recommendation in Naples? We’d love to add it to our list. Here is the details for Midnight Cafe if you’d like to play!


Don’t Toss Your Christmas Cards Out!

If you are like most people, I would venture to say all your Christmas stuff is still out (because it’s only New Year) and you will try to put most of it away this coming weekend (if you are good). When the time does come to put Christmas away, I have struggled knowing what to do with all the wonderful Christmas cards I get in the mail. I love everyone of them! And nowadays most of them come with photos of family and friends on them… so it just feels wrong to toss them out. Is it just me?! Here is 2014’s very full Christmas card wreathe.


I wanted to share something we started doing with our Christmas cards a couple of years ago. After Christmas I collect all the cards and put them in a photo box. Nothing fancy, it’s just a plain black one I had on hand (they have them on sale quite often at Michaels). I place the photo box near the dining room table. In our dining room it lands on the hutch near the table.


Did you see the black photo box? Blends in nicely which I like.


At dinner time, when we pray for our meal, we take turns letting the kids go to the box and pick a card. We include the person or family whose card gets pulled in our dinner prayer.

That’s it! So simple. BUT it has allowed us to enjoy the Christmas cards throughout the year and it has expanded our prayer time which has been awesome for the kids to be a part of. Do we remember every dinner time? No, of course not. But with the kids involved they help us get back on track when we forget.

A couple of added things we’ve learned from doing this…

1. So that you don’t continue to pull the same card, we include a gallon zip-lock bag in the box to catch the cards we have already prayed for. This leaves cards we haven’t pulled free in the box to be grabbed by one of the kids.


2. We now include other “cards” we receive. Invitations (birthday, wedding, baby showers, etc), announcements (wedding, gradations, retirements, etc.), thank you notes, etc. That way more special people and occasions can be remembered to pray for.


3. There does come a time when the cards in the box need to be cleaned out. So I guess this post should read… don’t throw your Christmas cards out YET!  But you wouldn’t want your box to be overflowing and adding to the chaos in your life. So the next time we put Christmas away I take some time and toss some of the older cards we have used (aka. the ones in the zip-lock bag) especially if they can be replaced by a new card by the same person or family.

Something super easy you and your family can try in the New Year!

Pray with confidence friends.


Baby Griffin #4 A Birth(day) Story


My labor started on Friday, July 18th, the day I had been scheduled for my last prenatal visit before my due date (July 19th). I had gone back and forth a month earlier with the receptionist who scheduled the appointment because the only time available was at 2:30pm, which was nap time, and I knew it would be inconvenient. Eventually I laughed and told her to book the appointment because I planned on having my baby before then anyway. Well July 18th had arrived and I couldn’t believe I was making this final appointment before my due date. Sure enough the timing was extremely inconvenient because my in-laws had gone out of town (as planned) and so Brian actually had to come home early from work to help.

At the appointment I told the midwife that I couldn’t believe I had gone full term with my fourth! I was early with my last two kids so this just seemed crazy. I was 3.5 centimeters dilated at that point so she offered to strip my membranes to see if that would help and I accepted. She also went ahead and scheduled my induction date for a week later in case the baby still hadn’t arrived. A week later?! Please Lord don’t let me be a week late… is all I could think about.

I left the doctors appointment sore from the stripping but skeptical it would actually work. The night was young and Brian already had plans to help our friends, the Magnone’s, move if the baby hadn’t come. I decided to accept an invitation to take the kids to the drive-in with our good friends, the Ballard’s, who would be moving soon and we wanted to take advantage of as much time with them as possible. We went to dinner at Souplantation and then caravaned to the Santee Drive-In for the premier of Planes 2.

I had packed a bag for the kids before leaving for dinner with necessities should I go into labor sometime during the weekend while my in-laws were out of town. I decided to take the bag with us to the drive-in just in case. The Ballard’s had offered to take our kids if we needed them to when baby time rolled around but I honestly couldn’t imagine taking them up on that offer… unless of course I was to start labor at the drive-in with them and my in-laws happen to not be in town to help.

Well wouldn’t you know on our way from dinner to the drive-in I had a pretty good contraction in the car. It kind of shook me and so I started paying attention to the time. More than 10 minutes went by and I had not had another contraction so I left it alone. When we arrived at the drive-in there was a line of cars to get in for the premier. We inched forward slowly to pay when I had another good contraction. This one freaked me out because I suddenly felt claustrophobic blocked in by all the cars trying to get into the drive-in. I called the Ballard’s, who were in front of me in the line, and verified a plan should I really go into labor that night. They assured me that they could take the kids and it wouldn’t be a problem. I relaxed a little but kept an eye on the clock.

It was early in the 8 o’clock hour when we pulled into the drive-in. The movie started and my contractions didn’t stop coming. By 9 o’clock I had to call Brian, “My contractions have been about 7 minutes apart for the last hour you need to come get me… they told us not to mess around if I thought I was in labor because it is my fourth baby and my last came so quickly.” Brian quickly left the Magnone house in La Mesa to come get me at the drive-in. We left the kids with the Ballards and rushed home. We had to run home because I had not grabbed my own hospital bags when I left for the night (at this point I felt confident we still had the time to do this). Brian hoped in the shower, having been all sweaty helping our friends move, and I grabbed the bags and my final toiletries.


We arrived at the hospital and were checked in by about 10:45pm. I was 5 centimeters dilated at that point. Earlier in my pregnancy I had contemplated wanting to try to hold off on the epidural and see if I could deliver naturally (I made it to 8.5 centimeters with Pierce). More recently, however, I felt fine with the idea of simply getting the epidural and enjoying the deliveries I was used to. So I opted for the epidural which unfortunately took a while to get together and a while to kick in. I labored for about another hour with pretty intense contractions and the shakes. The epidural slowly kicked in on one side of my body but not the other… so I had to be re-positioned to help it take full effect.

A little after 12am I got enough relief from the contractions to allow me to take a little nap. For about an hour I snoozed until suddenly I was jolted awake. Not painfully, but something had changed. And then I felt it. I felt warm and I knew my water had broke. I nudged Brian, who had also dosed off, and we called in the nurse. She confirmed my water broke and that I was at 10 centimeters. All of a sudden I became aware that I was able to feel the warmth of my water breaking… and I felt the nurse check me… and I could wiggle my toes. What on earth?! Why could I feel those things? I felt nothing when I had gotten epidurals in the past… so why could I feel these things? I felt a little panicked. Was I going to feel this labor? The nurse and midwife assured me that I wanted to “feel” something otherwise it would be harder for me to push. Brian reminded me that that had been true of my labor with Pierce… it took me a couple of extra tries pushing him out because I was having trouble knowing where to push since I couldn’t feel anything. Either way, the midwife told me I was at 10 centimeters so I would be needing to push the next contraction.

The contraction came and I puuuuuuushed. Everyone in the room got excited which assured me my pushing was fruitful. The baby’s head could be seen but we would have to wait for the next contraction. The second contraction came and I puuuuushed. I pushed and blew like the midwife instructed. The baby’s head was out and with one more push the baby’s body was out. Our baby was here!

Our baby GIRL was here!


We couldn’t believe it!!!

At 1:36am all 6 lbs 13 oz and 18 inches of HER was here for us to hold and to love.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????



If you would like to read about how how we did the first week home welcoming Lorelei into the family, you can CLICK HERE.