Monday, June 30, 2008

We're Loco for PB Loco!

It’s unusual for our family to have a “field trip” for Family Fun Night, but today we made an exception. We headed for Scottsdale and went to PB Loco (a peanut butter and jelly restaurant in the Scottsdale Mall) then afterward, decided that we didn’t consume enough calories (ha ha) so we ventured across the street to the famous Sprinkles Cupcake store that recently opened. Baylee, Nathan, and Owen kept with a simple creation; vanilla, Jon had milk chocolate, and I…dark chocolate (the best by far in my book!)

The kids’ highlight was being in a mall that was 3 stories high. Simple pleasures that cost nothing.

If you’ve been to PB Loco, what’s your favorite peanut butter flavor they have? Creamy White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Duo, Sumatra Cinnamon & Raisin, CoCoBanana, European CafĂ© Mocha, Raspberry White Chocolate, Asian Curry Spice, Sun-Dried Tomato, Banana, Apricot,Raspberry Dark Chocolate, or Regular (smooth or crunchy)
(This is what Owen and I shared...the PB Sampler. We got to choose three peanut butter flavors to accompany celery sticks, pretzels, carrots, and apple slices.)

(Sprinkles is a hot spot in Scottsdale bringing in a whoppin' $3.50 per cupcake. They were yummy but not worth the money in my book. You couldn't believe the line just to get your order in!)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Sweet Thank You!

Check out the 'sweet' thank you note I received today from the gals who went on our Live Laugh Love retreat. Isn't this edible, five cookie bouquet great?!

Enclosed was a note that said, "We lived, We loved, We laughed till we peed in our pants at Mountain Spirit. Thanks for a great time!"

I'm sure the cookie delivery man was wondering why I had cookies that were panties, 2 pine tree, a bear claw, and a heart cookie that said "We Love Mountain Spirit". How in his mind would all of these tie together. he he

Kristen, Tami, April, and Denise...THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You made me laugh again!

A Very Special Date with Baylee

Amongst thousands of others around us last night, Baylee and I had a very special date. We went to Gammage Theater to see High School Musical on Tour! It was Girl Scout night, which meant we even got discounted tickets, a fun patch for the gals' vests, and an exclusive question and answer time afterwards.

We had a fantastically fun time, leaving with grins on our faces and songs stuck in our minds. I’ve never been to a “theater” show where there was so much screaming and clapping from the audience (which includes the moms/chaperones!). The girls were explosive…it was adorable! And I’m grateful to the Disney writers that they switched things up a bit from the original movie scenes but still kept all the songs with a few variations of notes in the production (including the “cut” song from the cd, “I Can’t Take My Eye’s Off of You”).

Now the countdown begins in Baylee’s mind (as well as many of her GS sisters and millions of other people around the world)…October 24th, the movie theater release for High School Musical 3!

Baylee and I were even blessed by having a nice dinner out with our friends we made from GS camp in March, Sharon and her daughter’s Gabi and Giuliana. Thank you Sharon for such a yummy, fun dinner. You and your girls are precious. (photo not added yet…I haven’t checked with mom)

This is a lightened photo afterwards from the Question and Answer time...just for Girl Scouts!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Full Armor of God-Blast Xtreme 2008

Here are my soldiers, ready for duty in God’s Army! Have you been recruited? Each day last week, the kids and I enjoyed our church’s Vacation Bible School with this year’s theme, “God’s Army Training Camp”. I don’t know who learned more, the kids or me (as the 2nd grade class teacher). Here’s what we studied and the verses we memorized:

On day one we learned that Jesus calls the disciples, just as He’s called us and no excuses are allowed! It’s an invisible war but the good news is that Jesus is more powerful than Satan or anything!
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the Devil!” Ephesians 6:11

Day two we fastened our truth belts as we made the Belt of Truth and Breastplate of Righteousness. God’s belt of truth is important because it holds up when we’re being attacked with lies.
“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4

Day three, we made sure our feet were ready for the Gospel of Peace and the Shield of Faith was in our hands. We learned our marching orders! The footwear provided as part of God’s armor making us ready as well-ready to stand strong in the confidence that Jesus is LORD and share this news. We can have peace in our hearts as well as true peace to pass on to others. The shied is important to hide behind since there are flaming arrows being thrown by Satan (Ephesians 6:16)!
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Proverbs 30:5

Day four, we made our Helmet of Salvations and our Sword of the Spirit! God’s helmet keeps harmful thinking out of our head and loving thoughts in. And the sword of the spirit is the Bible, our special helper!
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

And on day five, we learned the importance of prayer, a special gift from God!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

On a side note, my class that I taught was amazing! The kids were wonderful and the teaching staff, the best! Three of us were on the same team last year, which made it great and Lesli joined us this year and we were blessed!
(Seena...we missed snapping a photo of you with us...ugh!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ladies Weekend Retreat

I am part of an amazing group called Live Laugh Love club. Twelve of us ladies meet once a month in my home as my dear cousin Laura and I facilitate the planned out discussions (from Once Upon a Family) revolving around family traditions and family values. It’s always a highlight!

Well, this past weekend my Dad and Pat invited us into their breathtaking cabin up north (Greer, AZ) to have a Live Laugh Love retreat! Unfortunately only five of us could go this time, but regardless of those we missed, it was truly a fantastic time! I can’t think of a time where I laughed so much!

We began our trip eating out at Molly Butler’s there in the village then came back to the cabin to play my original, “Panty Game” that as you can see from the photos, was hilarious. Prior to our trip each of us “pulled” a name/questionnaire and the one we pulled, we had to buy panties for. The panties though, did not matter on size but instead…they had to “fit” their personality. We filled out a tag explaining “why” they “fit” and then guessed who they belonged to. We had some very ingenious shoppers!

Kristen's "love the world" panties from April
Kymberly's heart panties from Laura.
April's panties from Tami
Denise's panties from Kymberly
Tami's panties from Denise.

(By the way, for those that don't know me well...this whole trip was alcohol free...although these photos may make you think differently!)

We played Left, Right, Center as well as a game called “Cursed” that kept us belly laughing for hours. I still have images in my head from Cursed (Denise and Tami…from you especially)! Our cheek bones hurt and bladders were tested!

The next day we hung out and talked, enjoyed the 69 degree weather, the hail, went on a hike, and played 4 Up 4 Down. The sites on the hike were spectacular and company, so pleasurable!

Later that night, we even “interior decorated” (otherwise known as toilet papered) the Bear’s Den where our hilarious Live Laugh Love ‘sister’ was sleeping. You can say it was “pay back” in our minds. Even with ear plugs in, Denise still woke at the tail end, making us all scream like school girls and running for cover. Thank you Denise for being a “good sport”.

"We brought you toilet paper"...mentioned this because her bathroom was "out"

This trip away was much needed for us all, I know. I am so thankful to all of the husbands who allowed their loved ones to go, especially my wonderful hubby Jon! Thank you too for Dad and Pat for your hospitable hearts. Mountain Spirit creates so many wonderful memories and now this past weekend will be another one of those memories.

Kasey, we pray your recovery from having your appendix out on Friday is fast and pain-free. Your timing was perfect (if it had to fall on this weekend) so that Laura could care for you and not have to rush down from the mountain. Laura, we missed you so much and can’t wait to do this again, with you every step of the way! To my other Live Laugh Love sisters…you missed a great one. We hope to return in the Fall with you all, our dozen, this time!

By the way, Yvette came up with a great idea. She thinks the club needs a revision in the name. I agree! Now we’ll need to be called the Live, Love, Laugh-so-hard-you’ll-pee-your-pants club!

Okay...things can't be perfect here on earth, right? One bad thing happened...out of nowhere, a pine tree jumped out in back of my van as I was backing up after the hike. Go figure! Cory, I guess I'll be seeing you soon.

Memorial Garage Sale

For two weekends, I ran a garage sale to raise money for a memorial bench at Cosmo’s Park in my brother John’s name. It’s been almost a year in the making. When we found out last July the cost was going to be $1,200 we knew it would take a lot of help. It seemed almost impossible, yet I knew in my heart “What is impossible with man is possible with God!” Luke 18:27. I began praying, asking God how in the world He was going to get this money into a fund and then he answered…G-A-R-A-G-E S-A-L-E! Knowing the answer, I sent out an email to local friends and family and the generous donations of items to sell in the garage sale began pouring in! Seriously…it was amazing! Today we went to the bank to deposit the earnings, our total…$1,900! Not only will I be able to buy the bench this week, I will also be able to help out with the cost of the burial in California sometime soon. Praise God.

For those that donated, thank you! May the Lord bless you for blessing us too abundantly!

For April and Mrs. Charlotte, thank you for agonizing in my garage for hours upon hours, pricing things with me as the high temperatures were 110+!

I get to have 28 characters per slat (and I have two slats). I’d love suggestions from everyone on what to put on this permanent bench for all to see. It has to be special!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We Can Spare the Time!

Baylee and Nathan got to pick “something” new to learn this summer. For Nathan, his pick was joining a bowling league with some of his buddies from church. Never before had he picked up a bowling ball nor understood any of the fundamentals, but that didn’t stop him from just jumping in and “taking care of business”. He’s having a blast each Thursday afternoon throwing (literally) that ball down the slick alley in hopes for a strike or spare (thank God for lane bumpers)! No matter their team’s score, Nathan, Benjamin, Daniel, Luke and Avery are a striking set of kids to play with.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Celebrate With Us!

News came tonight that’s making us celebrate! Dick Kempiak (Jon’s dad) is cancer free! It’s been a rollercoaster of announcements, I know. One day he has it, another it’s gone, another he has it again, etc. Dick’s 2nd surgery for (what he was told) Bladder Cancer was Monday June 9th. They removed the masses, filled his bladder with chemo therapy and then began making plans for his tuberculosis injections (the treatment plan he had “signed up for” instead of removing his bladder altogether). Well, he went to the doctor’s for the results they had run from the biopsies and much to Dick’s surprise (and relief), he was told that it wasn’t cancer after all! WOW! Thank you Jesus for allowing us to rely on you and to know nothing is out of your hands.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh the Places She'll Go!

Today I left the home at 6:30AM to catch a flight to Las Vegas to see firsthand, my niece Amanda graduate from high school! What pure dedication we all witnessed this school-year, watching her make a goal to graduate and working her tail off to do so. My niece for the entire year went to her traditional high school for her classes, then took night school to gain more credit hours and then also took some independent studies from home to earn credit hours as well. WOW, YOU GO GIRL! GIRL POWER!

Amanda’s graduation was at 3:00 at UNLV and I was filled with tears of pride, excitement, (and sadness) the whole time. Not only has my “little girl” grown up but I was also experiencing this without my brother John who literally talked about THIS DAY all the time!!!!!!!!!!!!! He had BIG plans for it!

The graduation ended, we had a party at her home hosted by her mom Lisa, and then it was off to the airport to catch a flight at midnight to head back home!

Amanda, oh the places you’ll go with that determination, perseverance, and smarts. I’ve never been more proud of you in my life. You are a phenomenal young lady and I pray for your future as you step out and experience your adult life now.

(Thank you Jon for your sacrifice of a lot of money to let me go as well as time away from work, for Shanna for taking care of Baylee’s whereabouts, and for Lisa for Nathan’s whereabouts for the day too).
(Amanda, Marissa, and Kaity (her closest girlfriends)
Lisa...a proud mom with Amanda!
Amanda and Josh (please pray for him)

Happy Birthday Papa D!

Today is Jon's dad's 78th birthday, Dick Kempiak. He’s a wonderful papa and dad and we are so thankful to God that he’s doing well and a huge part of our lives! All of our kids love telling everyone that they have a famous papa, the train engineer for the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ. They love him so much!

Dick’s amazing and has taught his son, Jon, many great things. Just to name a couple, I’d like to highlight…
1. Dick’s taught Jon to always save the first kiss for his wife when coming home (even when kids are running and hanging on you).
2. Dick’s taught Jon to be a hard worker, even when the “job” is less than desirable.

Happy birthday Papa D, we love you tremendously!

(Photo taken at our luau almost 2 years ago…Owen, Papa D, and Jon)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Neighborhood Flashlight Scavenger Hunt

Once the sky appeared black, our family meeting was over and we pulled the final activity out of the family fun box. It was my entry this time, finally! We grabbed our flashlights and our scavenger hunt list then went for a long walk in the neighborhood to search for the items listed. It was so energizing getting fresh air, exercise and entertainment all in one! It brought us together to enjoy the creation around us and have time to “talk” and hold hands.

We found all but one item. Here’s what we looked for:

-House with 4 windows in front
-Red car
-Gate in front of door
-House with at least 3 trees in front
-Yellow flowers
-A playset
-A car with a bumper sticker
-A car with a license plate from another state
-A leaf on the ground
-A street sign with at least 3 vowels in it (a, e, I, o, u)
-A bike not put away
-An address with our numbers it, in any order (1075)
-A home with a flag hanging
-A barking dog
-2 sewer holes