Thursday, June 10, 2010

Zach's OLPH Commencement Address

On Saturday, Zach was the Commencement speaker for the 8th grade promotion at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. OLPH is the Catholic church and school in his hometown of Downey, CA, and the outreach coordinator, Diane Davis, became a follower of Team Rubicon when they were on Hugh Hewitt's radio program back in January and February. She asked Zach to speak, which he was honored to do. Zach is great in front of people, but I think he got a little nervous when he was told that Larry Elder was their speaker last year! (At least, that made me nervous for him!) But he did great. Zach is always quite personable and conversational, and he is able to be the same in front of groups as he is one-on-one. I was really proud of both the content and delivery of his speech.

Zach's message to the kids was to commit themselves to a lifetime of service, especially as they enter high school. He based his address on St Ignatius' Prayer for Generosity, which Zach learned staying with the Jesuits in Haiti while working with Team Rubicon. This prayer was part of their evening exercises, and it has really stuck with Zach and with other members of his team. Zach had everyone repeat the prayer with him, then broke the concepts down, line-by-line, and gave examples and personal anecdotes of how everyone can perform acts of service, both large and small. Here is the text of the beautiful prayer:

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

Victoria tells us where to go

LA31May10 092
Originally uploaded by katiesgirls
You can't hear her well in the video, but as soon as we got in the park, Victoria started showing us all her favorite attractions on the map.

Swimming with Aunt Brittany

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls

Sisters, Sisters, there were never more devoted Sisters

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls
Anyone else remember that song? The Andrews sisters? Just checking

With my Girls on the Seal Beach Pier

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls

Aunt Christy came to Disneyland, Too!

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls

The Girls meet Minne with Audrey

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls


Originally uploaded by katiesgirls

Constance waiting for the Carousel

Originally uploaded by katiesgirls

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

LA Trips

It seems like we've been in LA a lot lately. Between Team Rubicon, Lifeguarding, and trips to see Grandma and Grandpa, we've seen a lot of Interstate 5 this year. But actually, we really enjoy it. The girls are stellar on the drives, they love watching their movies and singing songs in the car. Zach and I love it because we get 7-8 hours of actual conversation, listening to the radio, and reading aloud to each other.

Last week we were in LA for my sister Erin's birthday Disneyland trip. We spent Memorial Day with some of our friends from Team Rubicon, did a fair amount of swimming at Ian and Vickie's, and went to Disneyland twice. I actually took the girls my myself on Thursday to meet my sister, bro-in-law and niece. The girls were so well behaved and I was a proud mama. We also attended the Downey Greek Festival, which was lots of fun and really yummy! On Saturday, Zach was the commencement speaker for the 8th grade promotion at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.

We were home for two days and are now back. Zach was part of a promotional shoot for VH-1's Do Something Awards and Team Rubicon, and this morning we attended a live broadcast of Dennis Prager's radio show from the Reagan Presidential Library. Tomorrow Zach hopes to work lifeguards and then we'll drive home.

I was very excited to see Dennis Prager, he is my favorite radio host. The show today wasn't one of his best, but it was fun and still exciting to be there. We waited in line afterwards to meet him and his producer, Alan. I didn't really know what to say to him, simply because I knew I'd only have 10 seconds to meet him and I could say so much! So I thanked him for being such a big part of my day, told him that I appreciate his thinking, etc. I didn't make a fool out of myself so that's good.

I'll link some LA Pics next. There are LOTS more on flickr.


Back in early May (it doesn't seem that long ago!) I was able to join Zach on a short trip to Chicago. He was going for a fundraiser and leadership meeting for Team Rubicon and I went because, well, the fundraiser sounded like fun and I really wanted to get away. I had never been to the "Windy City" and my cousin Amanda lives there with her family. All combined, those were four very valid reasons to go!

We had a fabulous time. I actually went to a bar (!) and had a few drinks. Yes, I even danced a bit (needless to say, it's been quite awhile.) Zach was in meetings during the day, so I was able to explore the city by myself, which I love to do. I met up with Amanda, her husband Jason, and their adorable baby Scarlett, for a really nice brunch and I spent an entire afternoon in the Chicago Art Institute, which was wonderful. I went to mass on Sunday (which was also Mother's Day, so that felt a little weird, being with neither my children nor my mother) and then flew home.

Unfortunately, I was enjoying myself so much, I didn't take many pictures. I'm not good about shooting photos when I'm by myself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Magical Ballet

On Saturday the girls had their last "Magical Ballet" class through the city. I think the class was for kids ages 3-4, but they were by far the youngest in the class, along with their twin buddies Rachel and Sarah. I overheard one mom saying that her daughter was 4 1/2! The age difference was evident throughout the 6 weeks of classes, with my girls periodically breaking free of the instructor for a little dance jam in the mirror.

Nevertheless, they continue to love ballet, enough so that I think I might enroll them in the tiny tots program at the local dance school in September. It will cost about as much as the co-op preschool that we didn't get into, so I'm pretty sure we can swing it.

For this final ballet class, we parents were invited in the room to watch, and as expected, the kids were adorable. Really, there is not much more to say, so I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves. These and more on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


First off, Happy Easter to all our family and friends! I hope your Easter Sunday was lovely, and I hope you remember to celebrate throughout the entire Easter season!

We had a wonderful day on Sunday. The girls were very excited to wear their new dresses and the special hats they picked out at the mall with Glammie. Even though it was chilly and rain was threatening, we walked to mass, with the girls in their usual wagon. We were there early enough to sit in our regular pew, and we were met at the church by Glammie and Guapo, Erin, Jason, and Audrey. After mass we all met back at our house for brunch, baskets and an egg hunt!

Guapo and Glammie with all the grandkids

Jason, Erin and Audrey

Zach, Katie, Constance and Victoria

Constance brought out her radio and the girls danced for Guapo.

Later in the afternoon, we had Easter dinner at Glammie and Guapo's house, and the kids had even more candy. Needless to say, they loved it.

Oh, a cute Victoria story: she is VERY into Moses lately. Her favorite movie is "Prince of Egypt," so this didn't surprise us. When we were talking about what we celebrate at Easter, Victoria says, "Jesus came back... can Moses come, too?"


the set from our seats

Zach and I were able to have an overnight getaway to San Francisco to see the musical "Wicked." My parents gave us tickets for my birthday, and they took the girls for the night. We so rarely go out alone, even to dinner, that this was a real treat. It was also really needed for us.

It was actually a perfect San Francisco trip, which is rare. Trips, even day trips, to SF are usually fraught with traffic, parking woes, confusion and delay. We had no traffic, found street parking across from our little hotel, took the street car directly to the theatre, enjoyed a wonderful play, and made it back to spend the evening in a sweet old hotel that only charged $75 a night. It was absolutely wonderful.
The best part for me was simply being able to see a show. Attending musicals used to be my number one, favorite activity. Then real life called and I didn't have time. Then kids called and I didn't have discretionary spending money. It was wonderful to be able to take it all in. The conductor, the music, the sets, costumes, the ensemble, the leads... all of it. Fantastic. Thank you, mom and dad!

Name Change

I have received a couple questions regarding the name of my blog. Yes, I have changed it. I like to change things sometimes, sort of like rearranging the furniture. Plus, I feel the new name, "Life's sweet at the Smith house," suits my home better. Now that the twins are three, our lives aren't nearly as chaotic as they once were. Come to think of it, our lives aren't quite as blissful, either. However, even facing uncertainties and changing circumstances, life still is sweet. We are blessed.

St Patrick's Day

I guess for most people, St Patrick's day is either an obscure holiday, or a reason to get drunk, but in my family it is a big deal. I am equal parts O'Neill and Cullivan, which makes me a whole lot Irish, with a little bit of other European heritage thrown in just to make me interesting. Also, because my birthday is the day after St Pat's (March 18, for those of you totally out of the loop,) we oftentimes celebrate my day of birth as we celebrate the holy Saint Patrick.

My sister and brother-in-law hosted our party this year. Glammie made corned beef and cabbage, with potatoes (of course) and carrots, and I was in charge of the Irish Soda Bread. I couldn't find my usual recipe, got confused by the many versions online and in my recipe binder, and felt like an overachiever, so I baked three different recipes. Jason provided the Guinness. It was awesome.

Probably the best part of the evening, for me, was my birthday gift from Glammie and Guapo. Tickets to see Wicked in San Francisco the next week! PLUS, overnight babysitting!! Woo hoo. Date night :)

Cousin Audrey's Party

The girls' cousin, "Baby" Audrey, (the girls still call her that,) turned one on Feb 11, just two days after the girls turned three. Erin had a party for her with a "Puppy Love" theme. It was super cute.
How about that cake?! My mom (Glammie) decorated it. So impressive.

Me with the Birthday Girl

Victoria, Constance and Audrey


Even though the girls loved ballet, I thought it would be fun to put them in a different "tot" class with the City. So I signed them up for gymnastics. These classes are 6 weeks long, and I think the first 4 weeks, the girls protested that they wanted to go to dance class, not "nastics." But the loved it when they were there. Go figure.

It was a pretty good class, and the girls learned to do a forward roll, and practiced a lot of bouncing and balancing.

Also, their favorite girls were in the class. Sarah and Rachel are twins, born a whole two days earlier than the girls. (You can see them in the photo above, in the purple and pink shirts) They also go to our church, so we see them after mass several times a month when we meet with the young families group. We have started getting the girls together outside of organized activities, too, which is great, since the whole family is fabulous, and we are happy to be friends with them! :)

Red Robin, yummmm

Apparently that is a TV commercial. We don't have TV, but ever since my sister sang, "Red Robin, Yummmm," to the girls, they won't stop repeating it. They also think we're going to Red Robin every time we drive near the parking lot. My guess is, they liked it.