Saturday, May 31, 2008

Introducing Jill and Micah Parker

Tonight I witnessed the beautiful wedding ceremony of Jill and Micah, a very sweet young couple that is so in love. Jill was a former student of mine, a total sweetheart. Her family means the world to me, so much that we’ve stayed in touch since she and her sister Jackie’s fourth grade year with me. Now both are married and one is a mommy!

Jill and Micah’s ceremony was in Gilbert at Villa Siena, an absolute gorgeous place to celebrate any wedding with a Tuscan Villa theme (you have to look at the site). It’s the best place around with fountains, green gardens, cobblestoned walk paths and columns, and a roaring’ fireplace as a backdrop. I’d get married there in a heartbeat!

I got very emotional watching this union. It only seemed like yesterday when Jill was in my class. I watched thinking how close (2 years) Baylee is from being in 4th grade, which is the year I had Jill. From Jill being in my class to now standing up to get married…wow, it’s like a flash! How can time go so quickly? Also, watching Jill and Tom, her dad dance got me to thinking of my niece Amanda and how she won’t have her daddy to dance with at her wedding, nor walk her down the isle. Ugh…the tears were flowing!

Sadly, my camera was dropped early on, leaving me with one two snapshots of the day and a mangled lense. The one of them saying their vows is real blurry. It was a distance shot that I cropped to see them.

To Jill and Micah, I know you two are going to have a fantastic marriage. Between the love you have for one another and for the Lord’s marriage covenant, nothing can separate you. I love you Jill and can’t wait to grow in love with your hubby! I am sad to see you move so far away but am excited how close this will bring you to one another.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Deal of the Summer (or one of them)

Today marked our first day for the Harkin's summer movie passes. It's quite the deal! Baylee, Nathan, Owen, and I head to the movies for 10 weeks each Friday morning for the total of only $7 per person (that’s 10 movies for $7)! Even if we see just a few of them, the money is worth it (and the fact that we get great air conditioning). Many of our friends (and cousins) join us too, which even makes it better.

This summer we get to see (although I’ll have to have my parenting filter on and decide which we’ll stay away from):
-The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything (Veggie Tales)
-Surf’s Up
-Shrek the 3rd
-Bee Movie
-Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
-Alvin and the Chipmunks
-Flushed Away
-Nancy Drew
-Wallace and Gromit

Thursday, May 29, 2008

He's My Superhero!

Nathan at age 5 ½ endured a colonoscopy today, poor guy (in addition to the “cleaning out process” yesterday which included fasting for 43 hours!). He was a trooper through his fear and discomfort. I am so proud of him and in awe of how he handled it all. He’s my superhero, hands down! Results will come back next week from his biopsies, we’ll keep you posted. I’m glad this week is almost done! It’s been a long one! I guess you can say, we're all "pooped out!"

Nathan’s orange pal, Leo came along with him today at Desert Banner. I got him dressed for the occasion as you can see from the top photo. The doctors even let Leo in the room during the hour long procedure. Nathan's face was snuggled up close to Leo's while he was deep, under anesthesia. They both took a nap together, we like to say.

Hospital policy is that patience leave the hospital in a wheel chair. Nathan did not like that policy! To help him through it, Owen jumped on for the ride too. Nathan liked that a lot! Great idea, Curious Owen. You always find a way to make us smile.

What a special blessing! Nathan received this amazing balloon bouquet with special delivery from the teachers and staff of children’s ministry at church. Talk about putting a smile on my boy's face. WOW!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Must Read!

This is a children's summer "must read" for those who love to read or listen to chapter books. Baylee received this as a gift from dear friends (Matthew/Michael...thanks guys!) and we will forever be grateful. It kept Baylee, Nathan, and even little Owen's total attention and begging me to keep reading each day as we'd make predictions of what would happen next. It was such a fun dramatic read aloud! We just ended it and I want to start it all over again!

It's a darling story of Edward, a china rabbit who has a "good life" but has no attitude of gratefulness. He's loved but doesn't "give" love back. Through this story, Edward's life is tossed up and down as he journeys to learn to love and find love, once again.

I've never read any of by Kate DiCamillo's books before, but now I am going to be sure to find more!

If anyone else has book suggestions, I'd love to hear them. We're about to hit summer vacation and we'll have time on our hands to dig into some great literature!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Science Fair

Tonight was Baylee's final Cottage Fair as a first grader and school-wide it was Science Fair. The students were so proud to show off their science boards which proudly displayed the hard work each kid did to explore the scientific process regarding their topic of study in their class. Baylee’s unit was “Bug Farm” so her question she surveyed was “Which bee job would you like to have, the worker bee, drone bee, or queen bee?” Of course she made a prediction then asked, tallied, and recorded. After collecting her data, she clearly wrote about her findings. It was very impressive! Baylee did marvelous job and she loved earning a blue ribbon! We are so very proud of our little scientist.

Daddy couldn’t get off of work tonight to go to the Science Fair, so we brought the Science Fair to him at Buca (Baylee’s idea and how could I have passed that up?). And boy did she get some special treatment there. Many of the other servers and customers at nearby tables wanted to see her work too, so she took them through the board, proudly showing them all. This girl was not without compliments tonight. She should be feeling mighty good about herself, rightfully so!

(Baylee and Kaelan)

Baylee and Aimee)

Baylee and Matthew)

(Baylee and Mrs. Runyon)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Family FUNtastic Day!

Call us wild and crazy if you must, but the Kempiak Party of Five decided to "spice things up" today by having our Family Fun (Night) during the day! We were “suppose to” bowl as our fun activity but with the cooler weather (mid 80’s) we decided to switch it up and go miniature golfing at Golfland Sunsplash! We had a blast letting the kids explore something new and were amazed with how focused each of them were. 18 holes went fast, believe it or not! All of us gave this latest endeavor “two thumbs up!”

Memorial Day

Today, we salute the soldiers past and present who have protected our country sacrificially. May God bless you all and may God bless America!

Some of our family has been part of that admirable group. I am so thankful and proud of them. (Missing photos of my cousin Kevin and his dad, my Uncle Bill, My Uncle Jan, and Uncle Jerry)

(My brother John Bailey Kovatch, Air Force)

(Jon's dad, Richard Kempiak, Marines)

(Jon's Aunt Dottie and Uncle Al, US Navy)

(Jon's uncle Emil, Marines)

(My cousin Mitch, Army)

(My dad's uncle Danny who died in battle, just after my dad's birth)

(My Uncle Bob, Army)

God Bless The U.S.A.
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and it's time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Congratulations Class of 2008!

My seventh class, whom I taught as fourth graders, graduated high school on Thursday night. Of course, like all six other years (and for at least three more to come), I was present for the whole thing (with family in tote). I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

This year, things were much different weather wise. It was pouring down rain (and I mean pouring) and 51 degrees (record breaking temperatures in over 100 years)! This didn’t stop the plans though. It was still done outdoors (I know…crazy, but with the norm of 112 outdoors this time of year, that is crazy too!) And sadly, the pictures don’t do it justice. What a look, to scan the field with over 700 graduates in cap and gown, holding umbrellas and then looking at all the stands to see the same from the onlookers.
The ceremony went as planned, all the speeches, songs, etc (which were not “sheltered from the conditions”). Nobody missed a beat even as the wind picked up and the people from the stands kept shouting… “Just say the names!” Then, once it was time for the “kids” to get their diplomas, all the umbrellas from the soon to be graduates were set aside and they stood there, taking it all. It kind of made me chuckle thinking about these “young adults” getting ready to hit the real world, with the realities of life coming down on them, hitting them in all directions (like the rain). Life is what you make out of it! These graduates were troopers and they’ll do just fine out there in the world! I am so very proud of each one!

Sadly, because of the weather, once the tassels were moved to the other side and the caps flew in the air, I was only able to track down two of my students. Even if it was “only one” it would have been worth it! Megan and Tony, it was so neat to see you. Neither of you needed to thank me, I needed to thank you! You both have always had a very special place in my heart and you still do!

(On a side note, I want to thank Jon, Baylee, Nathan, and Owen for enduring the night. Many times I said, “Let’s just go,” but you didn’t budge because you knew how very special of an event this was for me.” I love you all!)

(Scroll down to see the graduate photos I've gotten so far. Wow are they all beautiful!)

(Caiti, far left/standing in class, wearing a vest)

(Krista, pretty gal in the back row just left of the exit sign)

(Kathleen, pretty blond under the edit sign)

(Aubrey, third row two in from me)

(Megan, first in chair in a white tshirt...left side)

(-> Aaron on his knees, far right

(Megan K. standing in the third row, wearing white...right in the center of the photo)

(Tony, the cutie right next to me, second to last row)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

No, I'm not having that kind of day and neither is anyone else in our Party of Five. Alexander is the one! For those of you who do not know the great children's book; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (by Judith Viorst), you are really missing out! It’s a book that’s been around for a long time. I referred to it when teaching and still do to this day with my kids (and Jon)! It’s a humorous look at a boy who’s having “one of those days”, who would just love to escape from it all! (You do have one of those days, don’t you?)

This afternoon, Jon treated us to a very special family date. All of us dressed up and went to Tempe Theatre’s Child’s Play featuring Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! It was fantastic! It captivated us the entire time! They ended allowing kids to share in front of other's their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days too!

Jon and I love the theater and we really want the kids to love it too. Jon grew up in theater productions while his parents managed a local theatre in Des Plaines, Illinois and I minored in theatre. It’s been awhile since we’ve been in any productions but one day hope to do it again in the future, even as a family. For now…we’re in the audience and that’s a great place to be too!

Anyone want to share one of their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day real stories with our blog world? I'd love to hear it and I'm sure others would too!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Need for Prayer, In Memory of...

Music has always been a form of ministry to my soul, no matter what the occasion or mood. I use it when I’m silly, happy, celebrating, sad, and even grieving. One of my favorite artists that has been around in my repertoire since I became a Believer in junior high is Steven Curtis Chapman. He’s an amazing song writer and singer (his latest, “Dance with Cinderella”). News came today that has brought me to tears many, many times and also that has caused me to stop and hold my children more often and a little longer while praying. For those who don’t know the tragic news (link you should check out...cute videos of little girl with daddy), Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth have lost their youngest daughter Maria Sue in a tragic car accident. At five years old, Maria Sue was playing in her driveway when her older brother pulled in with an SUV, unaware of his sister. Wednesday was a busy day of celebrating for their family and now…it goes down as a horrific one. I just ache for them. I pray that the peace that passes all understanding will fill their lives. God numbers our days, not man!

The Bible promises in Psalm 34, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalms 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.

Here on the blog, I’m listing two songs written by Steven himself. Of course when these were written, his mind was not aware of the heartbreak he’d discover. I’m sure these lyrics would still be written today by him.

(Hiding Place by Steven Curtis Chapman)

"In the distance I can see the storm clouds coming my way, and I need to find a shelter before it starts to rain. So, I turn and run to You, Lord; You're the only place to go, where unfailing love surrounds me when I need it most.

You're my hiding place; safe in Your embrace, I'm protected from the storm that rages. When the waters rise, and I run to hide, Lord, in You I find my hiding place.

I'm not asking You to take away my troubles, Lord; 'cause it's through the stormy weather I learn to trust you more. And, I thank you for the promise I have come to know, Your unfailing love surrounds me when I need it most.

You're my hiding place; safe in Your embrace, I'm protected from the storm that rages. When the waters rise, and I run to hide, Lord, in You I find my hiding place.

So let Your people seek You while You may be found, 'cause You're our only refuge when the rain comes pouring down."

(With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman)

“This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you we had so many dreams
And now you've gone away and left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say and nothing we can do
Can take away the pain the pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope we can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope 'cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again, we'll see your face again

And never have I known anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more the wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true 'cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor 'cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

We wait with hope and we ache with hope
We hold on with hope we let go with hope”

Aren’t these so beautifully said?!

(Please join me in prayer for this family in the midst of the storm. Feel free to leave those comments, prayers, and scripture verses on this post in the comment section. Thank you.)

Mail can be sent to them at: PO Box 150156 Nashville, TN 37215.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Over and We're Sad!

One thing that makes our family slow down mid week and enjoy some fun times is when American Idol is in season. To say we LOVE it is probably an understatement! We make signs, sing karaoke during commercials, cheer on our favorites, and even make phone votes. Well, the season is over and we’re sad! Not only are we sad that it’s ended yet another great season, but we are also sad that our favorite didn’t win. Although David Cook was very talented, our favorite was “Little David” as we referred to him and we really thought he was going to leave with the title. When the results were announced, we were just silent. It’s only the second time that we’ve gotten it wrong. We know both David’s will do well and it won’t be the last we “hear” from them. David Archuleta, you rock!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thumbs Up, Owen!

Okay, you know you're a blogging family when your three year old calls you into the bathroom with one request, "Take a picture of me on the potty mommy and put it on the blog!" Seriously!

Today Owen pooped on the potty (can I hear the cheers please)! This is a huge step in this long process of potty training! We've got a long way to go but are on the right path!

I was telling a friend that potty training is kind of like childbirth. At times it is very painful for the mom to do, but the outcome is WONDERFUL!

Owen, I put it on the blog buddy. We are all so very proud of you for being such a BIG boy!

Prayer Needed

Please pray for Jon's dad, Dick Kempiak. Today we heard that his bladder cancer is back. Many hard decisions need to be made shortly. He is scheduled for another surgery on Monday, June 9th.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hitting It Big!

Many of you know our Party of Five enjoys heading to Joe's Farm Grill (been on the blog for a family fun night) and Joe's Real BBQ here in Gilbert. Both are owned by our friends' Joe and Cindy Johnston who are very dear, generous people. Well, this is just a "shout out" to say, they're "hitting it big"! Joe's Farm Grill, an organic 60's era diner (I guess you'd call it) that used to be Joe's home growing up is being featured on the Food Network tonight (with re-runs). Check it out!

Show Details
"Drive-in's, Diners, and Dives" hosted by Guy Fieri
Episode DV0308 "Real Deal Fast Food"

First Run: Monday Evening, May 19

Tuesday Evening, May 20
Sunday Afternoon, May 25
Sunday Evening, May 25
Monday Evening, May 26
Monday Afternoon, June 2
Friday Evening, June 13


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dance School Musical!

Baylee has been attending the Leap of Faith Dance and Performing Arts School for almost a year, taking tumbling. The end of the season's recital was last night, a very fun, entertaining evening to be a part of! Her class of five beautiful girls tumbled to “Parade of the Stars” a Disney themed song. Boy did they dazzle us all as they confidently executed each step with flair! They all were stars!

Lara, Jon, and I can't be more amazed with Baylee's progression with stage presence. We can remember back to Baylee and Alyssa's first (and last) dance recital together almost five years ago. Alyssa tapped her way to the beat of the music as Baylee sucked her thumb with tears flowing so hard from her eyes that she ended up "B-lining" it to my lap.

Since then, we’ve taken a break from “dance” type activities until Baylee was ready. She came home from school in August pleading with us to sign her up for tumbling. At that time, she didn’t know anyone else joining her. After talking it though, Jon and I found a Christian run, non completive place for her to try. Baylee’s loved going to tumbling each week at the studio. Her two dear friends; Sabrina and Alyssa joined her, and she made two new friends along the way (Autumn and Salina).

We thank Mrs. Brenda (owner) and Ms. Collie (teacher) for such a great experience!

(Baylee, Alyssa, and Sabrina. I love this photo. They look so beautiful together!)

(Alyssa and Baylee...Baylee's first friend in the world!)
(Baylee and Sabrina. They have so much silly, fun time together)
(Baylee, Alyssa, and Sabrina. Their other two classmates had left early so we weren't able to get a "group shot"...bummer!)

"Thank you to the Weissman family, Owen, Nathan, and Mommy and Daddy for flowers!" love, Baylee