Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Over the Hills and Through the Rivers to Grandpa's House and Hollywood We Go

Jeff and I took the girls to his grandpa's house for Father's Day. His grandpa lives in Monterey Park (close to downtown L.A.). Grandpa moved to an elder care home, and so it was the last get together at his house. Patty (Jeff's mom) and all of her brothers and sisters grew up in the house, so it was especially meaningful to meet there one last time.
Afterwards, being in Los Angeles, Jeff and I decided we didn't want to head straight back to Murrieta. We decided to do the TOTALLY NERDY TOURISTY Hollywood visit. Armed with our camera, we headed for Hollywood Blvd., a place full of tourists and tourist attractions, but NO stars whatsoever.
We saw all of the weird people who hang out in front of Mann's Chinese Theater dressed in costumes. They charge you to take your picture with them as if THEY were the star. We saw Matt Damon and George Clooney's prints from June 6th (I guess they were promoting Oceans 13 and were just there!) Of course, I had to find Marilyn's hands and star. :) The girls, as always, were convinced that we'd run smack dab into Hannah Montana, but we had no such luck. We ate at the Disney Soda Fountain Shop on Hollywood Blvd. across from the Mann's Chinese Theater. It was fun to sit at the counter and watch everyone. The girls ate "Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti" and it was better than any plain old spaghetti, of course! They even gave Jeff a free rootbeer float for Father's Day, which cheered him up some (because Matt didn't call.) On the way back to our car (walking passed the club-goers, homeless people, and millions of t-shirt shops) I said to Emma and Grace, "Well, we didn't see any famous people, but it was fun, huh?" to which they replied, "Uh....Mamaaaa....we saw Tiggerrrrr!!!! Duh!!!" Of course the gals had their pictures taken with Tigger in front of Mann's, and to them, if Hannah Montana is available, a guy in a Tigger suit (desperate for cash) is the next best thing! After the girls fell asleep, Jeff and I drove through the Hollywood Hills and looked at all the gorgeous homes (and hedges AND security fences.) Yowzas, people have a lot of money! Next time, Grandma Toni is coming with us and we're buying a star map. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sum, Sum, Summertime!

Swimmin' in the pool.
Bbq's with friends.
has arrived.
We're just getting started!

Pugs, Not Drugs

A few weeks ago I got a phone call from my niece Megan. "What time's the party?" she asked. "What party?" I was worried that maybe I'd forgotten someone.

"Sophie's birthday party!" Megan said. Apparently, Grace and Emma called Megan and Ian and told them that Sophie was turning three (true!) and was having a birthday party. Megan and Ian were all excited and ready to come.

All the kids ended up at my house, and they decorated the whole house with signs that read, "Happy 3rd Birthday, Sophie!" They made little fancy paper cone hats for each of the dogs, and we ate dinner and sang to Sophie. It was hilarious.

The party ended with Grandma Otti passed out on the couch. Too much partyin' for poor Grandma!

Introducing Miss Olivia

One can not help but fall in love with little Miss Olivia. We Smiths needed another pug dog as much as Nicole Ritchie needs a diet. Jeff and I even talked about it...say NO to pugs!
Then along came Olivia.
Two of my friends separately sent me a Craig's list photo of Olivia. The owners had a baby prematurely and they couldn't deal with that PLUS a new puppy. Poor Olivia was in her crate most of the day. (OK...time for the violins...I know, I know!!) I called them because I thought, "She's too cute...they'll find her a home." The man sounded desperate, but he wanted to get $$$ for her since he and his wife had just shelled out $700.00 and the baby coming early meant no work for both of them for a while. I told him I had THREE dogs already, that my husband would kill me, and that I just KNEW he'd find her a home. (Then I gave him my phone number and told him to call me if he didn't find her a home in the next few days.)
A week later I figured all was well...I hadn't heard from the man, and I breathed a sigh of relief, never mentioning it to Jeff. Then, the call. They HADN'T found her a home. They were willing to come down on the price. They were desperate. I told him I'd have to call Jeff and I'd call him back.
Poor, poor Jeff. He started out so certain that it was a bad idea, but all it took was a few "But Honey's" and he started to slowly cave. It ended with him muttering, in defeat, "I guess four pugs can't be that much different than three...."
I had to PROMISE that there will be no more pugs in our family until at least TWO pass away (which could be years and years.) I had to acknowledge that I can't single-handily save all the pugs, no matter how cute they are. Unless we buy a farm and turn it into a dog and pony rescue (instead of dog and pony show, which is what our house is like with all these pugs!) then I wasn't even to LOOK at the pound listings OR the classified "give away" adds. I must go cold (PUG) turkey. Doing this is going to be a piece of cake. Four pugs is a whole lot of pug (even if one is just a chug!)
Miss Olivia (Livvy) is by far the most mischievous pug to date. She's very vocal and will yip and bark at the other dogs if they have the bone she wants or they won't play with her. She is SUCH a snuggle pug too. Surprisingly, Sophie has been the most tolerant of her. (I think she's happy there's another GIRL animal around because the cat and the pony don't count.)
Oh- and why the name Olivia? After Olivia Newton John, of course! Grease....Xanadu....Let's Get Physical....I can't think of a better way to honor my childhood icon than to name my rambunctious pug puppy after her. :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Growing and Changing

It's finally summer, and all of the people who are important to me are growing and changing in such different ways.

First, my wonderful AVID seniors have graduated. They were such a delightful group of students and I will miss them VERY MUCH. I first had them when they were sophomores, and then again this year as seniors. We had an amazing year. Every day with them was a blessing, and we learned a lot together. Tonight at their high school graduation, our principal announced that at our school, 31% of students are going on to a four-year college next year. 100% of my AVID seniors were accepted into four-year colleges, and all but two are going to attend a four-year university in the Fall. Some are staying close to home, while some are going to be as far away as Humboldt, Arizona, and even Boston! I'm proud of their accomplishments and I can't wait to hear about their college adventures. AVID is a rewarding program to teach and coordinate because these students are the first in their family to attend college. For some, they are the first in their family to graduate from high school. WOW!

The other people in my life who are growing and changing are my sweetie pies, Emma and Grace. Today was their last day of Kindergarten. Since it was share day, Emma brought our puppy Olivia (don't ask...that's a whole new blog!) to share. Emma shared all about her dog while Olivia sat stoically on Emma's lap with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. I think Olivia wishes she could be in Kindergarten too!
Three students in the class received awards for reading the most books on their reading logs this year, and two were Emma and Grace. (Hee hee... I wonder why!?!) Also, the entire class received awards at the end, and Emma got the "Condoleeza Rice Award for Academic Achievement" and Grace got the "Vincent Van Gogh Award for Thinking Outside the Box." Obviously their teacher has them pegged! Jeff got the "Fred Rogers Dad of the Year" award for being the most involved and consistent parent this year. :) I'm telling you, the man should have been a Kindergarten teacher. He loves nothing more than his days volunteering at the girls school, and since I'm in school too, I'm so grateful that one of us gets to do it!
So Kindergarten ended without much fanfare- just puppies and progress reports and a hug at the door. My little ladies, with their knobby knees, tennis shoes, braids, and Hello Kitty backpacks left their safe little Kindergarten room for the last time as Kindergarteners. Next year, they'll return to visit, as BIG first graders, ready to share their vast knowledge about the world outside the Kindergarten play yard. But right now, it's summer...time for reading, sleeping in, riding our pony, eating watermelon, building couch forts, and just being six.