Category Archives: Traditions

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!


Summer Bucket Lists… but THIS is Summer.

For several years the Great Griffins have been all about the Summer Bucket List!!! Because really they are only the best ever. It’s a fun list of all the things you want to do over Summer vacation while the kids are out of school. At the heart of every list was simply the goal of being intentional with our time. That way when school starts in the Fall we wouldn’t feel like where did Summer go?

Each year has been different. Our first bucket list had 100 items to check off. Our second only had 25 (five for each person in our family- at the time). Our third had only one item and that was “to have a baby.” Probably the easiest and hardest so far. The lists have changed every year, just like our family.

So when it came to talk about the Summer Bucket List for this year, I asked the kids what do we really want to make sure we do this Summer. And overall this is what I heard:

Have fun as a family. 

Play with our friends. 

Play in the water (a lot). 


I can manage that.

That is really what it came down to… what could our family manage to do while being intentional with our time. So this year, that is what we planned on doing. And you know what? We’ve done all these things before.

The only difference is that this year we didn’t need a hundred items to check off… or twenty five… or one. If I am being honest, I just can’t. I can’t have another list… not right now anyway. I need the path of least resistance- not a mountain of checklists to climb.

Although we’ve been a family of four for a year, we are still in transition. And that is okay. It is okay to say no to the lists we once loved. To just breathe and enjoy. We’re only just starting to count on sleeping through the night for crying out loud… not to mention any names- Lolo!

So that is what we embraced for this Summer making sure we made time for family, friends and the pool. And I love my pictures this year. They aren’t all staged near signs of what we’ve done or where we’ve been (not that there is anything wrong with those… I live for those too), but they are mostly just of our life. So…

…THIS is Summer 2015!

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But really this is who would be home for Summer. Love my noodles.


Blessed to witness the Baby Dedication of so many of our friends.


Dropped off Eliann for her Night at the Museum Girl Scout Award for Cookie Sales.

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Checked out the San Diego Fair with good friends and ate everything!

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Happy Fathers Day to Brian.


Eliann attended Indian Hills Camp.

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Played at the Gonzales Ranch- the boys learned to drive and Eliann collected eggs.


Celebrated Marghee’s 2nd Annual 27th Birthday.


Then celebrated her birthday again with a party that of course involved 23 teams.


We hosted the Boom Boom Ballards for Fourth of July.

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Marghee spent some of her birthday gift with friends.

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We played and laughed a lot… I think someone farted here.


We cried too. Something about Old Maid and not wanting to eat the one pea.


We went out on a literally “hot” date.

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We had the best sleepover EVER.


We celebrated and danced around the kitchen with friends.

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We survived attending and volunteering at Summer Blast.

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We celebrated Lorelei’s First Birthday.

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We played at home… a lot.


We dress up like cows for Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil A.


Lorelei was up to all kinds of shenanigans.


We ran errands.

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We did things regular things we love to do… library, movies and the gym.

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We had friends over to play.

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We played soccer.


Eliann went to Girls Scout Resident Camp- CSI Winnaka with her friend Ella.


We caught up with good friends.


We hosted a Marriage Workshop with the Pellicane’s.


Pierce did swim lessons.

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Eliann’s Girl Scout troop went to Surf Camp.


We got sick and missed the Marriage Getaway. #fail Thank God Brian’s parents took the kids.


Marghee’s parents came down to help us get better too.

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Lita stayed to play.

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We celebrated a silly anniversary.


We camped at the San Diego Metro KOA with Brian’s parents.

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We went to the Colorado River in Arizona.

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That’s a wrap! Goodbye Summer 2015… hello Fall!

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.