Category Archives: Life Events

Eliann’s 9-teenth Birthday!

This year Eliann turned nine years old! Her Dad told her she was about to start the last of her single digit years. It was true! I read a post by another Mom about her daughter turning nine stating that nine was the half way mark of a child. They have been in our care for nine years and we have nine years to go. Whhhaaa?! How can that be? Either way… it was also kind of true. Man my little lady is getting so old!

So this year when we bagan to talk about Eliann’s birthday we knew it would be cutting it close to our move out date for Italy. Thankfully we were still here for her special day so she could celebrate with friends. She really wanted this birthday to be a sleepover. I feel like it’s pretty much all the rage for kids around this age. She also wanted it to be a campout. We’d have to see how we would incorporate that since we had already moved out of our home and were living with Brian’s parents at the time.


The 19th Birthday Idea

In talking to one of Eliann’s close little friends, Ella (they’ve been friends since Kindergarten, her Mom, Lisa, is Eliann’s Girl Scout troop leader and most recently they went away for a week long girl scout camp in the Summer), we discovered that both our families were considering the same weekend for the girls birthday parties this year. Long story short… we all decided it could be way fun to do a combined birthday this year since they share a lot of the same friends… so long as they could come up with a guest list of no more than ten girls. They got to work and so did we. Lisa and I divvied up the work and you know what?! That worked out pretty nicely in terms of logistics and planning. The girls excitedly explained it would be like they were “having a 19th birthday because Ella was turning 10 and Eliann was turning 9 so 10+9=19. That is even teacher approved!”

The day for the party arrived and we had all 10 little girls that had RSVP’d present… and then some with a couple of the girls siblings joining in for the fun. We had planned to heat the pool and swim, watch a movie with a candy bar, host a flashlight lollipop hunt (like we enjoyed the last time we went camping), play musical chairs to decide how we would hand out the party favors and call it a night for the sleepover. Let’s see how things really played out…

1. Pool time.


2. Dried off and jumped into pajamas and played the Jelly Bean taste test game.


3. Happy Birthday, bundt cakes and gifts.


4. Grabbed our flashlights, paired up and took off to hunt for lollipops in the backyard. Over 180 lollipops in all!


5. Took turns grabbing treats from the candy and popcorn bar to watch a movie- Cinderella.


6. Watched about half the movie… got too squirmy so we went outside for some red light green light running around to burn off some candy fueled energy. Too dark for photos. There was only one instance of tears during the whole time we were together… running around at night might have been the culprit… and it may have been tears from my birthday girl.

7. Came back inside and finished the movie as well as said goodbye to a couple of the girls who weren’t going to get to sleepover. This was also right about the time my reinforcement came, the lovely Mrs. Allison Williard aka. the Tutu Fairy or Fairy Godmother for my Eliann.


8. We moved on to the last officially planned activity of the night- musical chairs. We had these super cute party favors- sleeping eye masks- for each of the girls sleeping over, but to avoid drama over who would want which mask we made it a game. The girls had to play musical chairs and in the reverse order they were illuminated they would get to come choose their mask. The girls playing musical chairs was hilarious to say the least. Quite the competitors for sure. Syana was the musical chair winner.

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9. The musical chair fun led to the realization that although it was essentially midnight, these girls were no where near ready for bed. We had decided at this point that we would all be sleeping in the trailer for the sleepover, but if we would have put the girls to bed now they would have been up for hours chatting and being rowdy. So instead we decided to make them play even harder. We took turns doing a trick and then everyone had to try it. This meant everything from splits, to back-walk-overs, to doing the worm. It also included an epic dance break to Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ which just happen to play on Pandora. To end the night we did some team building activities like attempting a ten girl pyramid and four-square push up challenge. It was an amazing power hour of fun.

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10. It was now 1am. The girls were fully exhausted and asking to go to bed. Mission accomplished. Everyone went potty before heading into the trailer. Within five minutes the snickers and faint whispers ceased and they were in bed. Seriously couldn’t have planned that better. Me and Allison on the other hand might have stayed up a tad bit longer enjoying some fun pillow talk of our own.

11. 6:42am. That was the time the first girl made a peep. It was Ella. She wanted to know if they could go outside… like outside the trailer. The sun wasn’t even up yet… umm, no.

12. We finally got up, stretched a little bit and decided to pop in a movie in the trailer while we waited for Mrs. Lisa to bring bagels. Mary Poppins won the vote.


13. The girls trickled out one by one as parents arrived to take them home. It was such a fun night and we were so glad all the girls could have this special memory together in honor of Ella and Eliann’s birthday. After all you only turn NINEteen with a bestie once. 😉


We Have Big News!!!

Okay, can I just, say something crazy? I love crazy. 

Brian has accepted a new job that will have us relocating in 2-3 months. Say, WHAT?!

Can I say something even crazier? No! … okay fine… what’s crazier than you moving?

His new job is in Naples, Italy…

Great Griffin Italian AvventuraLet’s start with a little story… about two years ago Brian approached me with a question: What do you think about living abroad? 

WHAT?! Why would we want to do that? I guess it would depend on where, right?

That was the beginning of a long conversation. At the time, Brian reasoned that he could have a broader scope of experience at his job if he were willing to relocate. This would make him more competitive in the long run as he considered his career. We wouldn’t just want to move around the States if both our families are here in Southern California, but would we consider an adventure abroad? His job has locations all around the world if we were willing to relocate for a little bit… then he would get great experience and our family could have a grand adventure.

But, are we really adventurous people? Sure we like to have fun and try new things. We enjoy meeting new people and building community… but do we have it in us to move our family to another country… on another continent (for crying out loud neither of us have stepped off this continent before)?!

The more we talked about it the more we agreed it would be an opportunity we wouldn’t want to miss- if it presented itself. But Brian hadn’t even applied for a job and God would have to open a whole lot of doors for something like this to happen. So we prayed and Brian applied. He actually made it pretty far in a selection process for a job in Rota, Spain which we were really excited about because we heard it is a favorable location and some of us speak Spanish (Marghee is fluent and our older kids go to a Spanish immersion school here in San Diego).

But in 2013 our government shut-down and a hiring freeze went out. So all was lost in that application process and that door was closed for us.

At the time we were bummed. But the truth was we weren’t done growing our family and we had concerns about having a baby while we were abroad without much support. So it all worked out. When the hiring freeze was lifted Brian actually switched agency’s here in San Diego and we welcomed Lorelei to the family in July 2014.

At the end of 2014 Brian approached me with several opportunities for work abroad again. The hiring freeze was over, our concerns about having a baby abroad were no longer an issue and our kids were still young enough to consider moving away and moving back without affecting their middle and high school years. But, would we apply again?

All the excitement and fears came flooding back into our minds as we considered the opportunities. So we prayed and Brian applied for several jobs in January 2015… remembering that just like before a lot of doors would have to open in order for us to go. We trusted that if this was not the Lords will for our family he would close one of the 52,479 doors along the way and we would stay in San Diego.

A half a year went by and we had not heard anything.


But then a tentative offer came from a position in Naples, Italy. Italy?! Well tentative meant a lot of hoops to jump through and more doors to open or close before an official offer could come.

More waiting.

Almost two months later Brian received and official job offer from the office in Naples. It wasn’t the timing we wanted but the offer was on the table. After months of praying, too many pro’s and con’s lists to keep count, gathering wisdom from those who have moved their families and taken advantages of opportunities like these… it was time to make a decision.

And so we’ve decided… we’re moving to Italy!

What does this mean?

  • We’re moving for Brian’s job to somewhere in/near Naples, Italy.
  • The timeline for moving is not set in stone and depends on a lot of variables (mostly paperwork)… but we are probably looking at moving in the next 2-3 months.
  • It is a three year tour. That’s basically like #brbsandiego.
  • I will not be working at SMCC as the Young Marrieds Coordinator once we leave… though I reserve the right to stalk our ministry page and comment on all the fun things you will do while we are gone.
  • We will not be selling our home in El Cajon. We plan to rent.
  • Our kids have started the school year here because we don’t have a moving date yet and we don’t know exactly how long it will take.
  • Our families are supportive… although, of course both set of grandparents are sad we’ll be so far away.
  • You have three years to plan and execute a European Vacation! If you are anywhere in Europe within the next three years let us know and we will do our best to visit with you (or) you can flat out plan to come visit us… Italy has lots of amazing destinations to visit.

Are we excited?!

Ultimately, yes! However, the reality of the move right now is more overwhelming than exciting because it will happen quicker than we had hoped and we don’t have much control of the timeline. But in the end we think it will be a grand adventure for our family and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Here is a short list of some of the pro’s:

  • They will take care of packing us up to move.
  • They will ship our stuff for us and store whatever we don’t send here in the San Diego as part of the move.
  • They will ship one of our cars.
  • We don’t have to know where we will live when we arrive. We will be put in temporary housing for up to 60 days while we find a home with the option to extend up to an extra 60 days if we need it.
  • We have a housing allowance that includes utilities. Translation… they pay for our housing and utilities while we are in Italy.
  • If we rent our home here in San Diego then we essentially get to save a mortgage payment each month we are away. That means a sweet savings nest and money for traveling.
  • Speaking of traveling… we get to live and travel and experience Europe like we would never have the opportunity to do with our whole family.
  • We will have the opportunity to be immersed in another culture. Think people, sights, food, language, history etc. What an amazing opportunity for all of us to broaden our view of the world and of God’s creation.

Here is a short list of some of the cons:

  • We are going to miss YOU! There is just no way around that. Our family, friends, church community and support system is in Southern California. It is pretty much all we’ve known and for sure all our children have known and we are going to miss it tremendously. We are so very blessed by you and your support of our family.

Immediate prayer requests…

We want to acknowledge that this move could take a serious toll on our marriage and family. We would love to be covered in prayer while we are away. We know the Lord will not leave nor forsake us and we want his hedge of protection on our family. We’ll be losing a significant support system we’ve established for our family here in San Diego and at first Brian and I will only have each other to rely on to establish our family of six in another country.

Here are some specifics you can pray for us as well:

  • That our relationships with the Lord and with each other would grow stronger than ever as we go through this amazing adventure together.
  • That in the process of moving we would be diligent to finish strong in all the things we are involved in here in San Diego.
  • That we would not overlook anything important that we need to get done to help our family transition successfully.
  • That our final time here with family, friends and jobs will be fruitful and affirming.
  • That Brian’s Prius, which we will not be shipping to Italy, sells so we can recoup that expense we made earlier this year and that we would find a loaner car to get us by if needed.
  • That the Lord would continue to place people in our paths to help our move to Italy be as smooth as possible.
  • That the Lord prepare our hearts to be a light for his kingdom in Italy.
  • That the Lord would go before us and set aside the perfect home for our family in Italy and that we would feel at peace and safe there (be it on base or off base).
  • That we would find a church family when we settle in Italy.
  • That we would find great friends that will welcome us like family when we settle in Italy.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our crazy news! If you have any questions about the process we’re going through we would love to hear them because your questions may be good ones we should be considering. We’ll take any prayer and encouragement we can get as well because there are some days we are sooo excited about the move and other days where we freak out and ask why are we doing this again?! Haha! This is going to be a {fun} roller coaster ride for sure.

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.

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