Category Archives: Birthdays

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. 😉


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.

Eliann’s 7th Birthday

Eliann… our little lady… we love her so much. She is smart and diligent, sweet and generous, loving and kind… basically a fantastic daughter! We were so excited to bless her and her closest friends with an awesome birthday celebration.

This year she chose a Rocking Rainbow Birthday Theme perfect for an almost seven year old lover of all things rainbow (which she’ll tell you is her favorite color). Throwing a Rainbow Themed birthday turned out to be a lot easier than I thought! You can read more about the different components we chose to include in her birthday celebration and how you can throw your own Rainbow Themed Party HERE.

We invited all of her closest girlfriends and these are the little ladies that were able to join us this year: Madelyn, Skyler, Cassidy, Ella, Sofia, Syana, Noelle, Maddie and Christina. Including Eliann, it made 10 little ladies in for a colorful surprise!









Among the fun activities we planned for the party were canvas painting (Eliann loves to paint and art in general), bead necklace and bracelet making, rainbow makeovers, the Bible story of the Rainbow promise from God in Genesis, Twister and a Pot of Gold hunt.

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Probably my favorite activity of the party, however, was opening presents. If you were there, you know how genuinely full of joy and thanksgiving Eliann was as she carefully opened and read each card and thanked her friends for the gifts. Her facial expressions as she opened them all just melted my heart and made me laugh.

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So, did Eliann enjoy her Rocking Rainbow 7th Birthday Party?! I would say this picture sums up that answer entirely. We love you sweet girl!


We were thankful that Marghee’s parents, Lita and Buelo (as our kids call them), were able to make the celebration and boy did they add to the fun with gifts galore for all our kids.


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A special shout out to Eliann’s Fairy Godparents: Mrs. Allison, Miss. Lauren and Mr. Robert (an awesome honorary term Marghee’s Mom dubbed to our friends) who helped us prep and execute this fantastic party for Eliann.

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