Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gratituesday-Laura and something about Jon!

I am blessed with a very dear friend, Laura Marie Richardson. We talk often and can be transparent with one another with everything. We share many of the same hobbies and passions too. Laura and I co-lead our Live Laugh Love club together and now, by God’s doing, have our boys in kindergarten class together. Not only is she a wonderful friend I can count on for ANYTHING, she is my sweet cousin too! Laura, thank you for being one of my very best friends…I am so grateful for you and thought that it would be more than appropriate to put you as my entry for Gratituesday today, especially with it being your 29th birthday today. Happy birthday! I love you.

Also...I have to add one more thing. I typed "Laura" around midnight but didn't publish it because I wanted to find a photo of us together, so I saved it as a draft instead. But now I have one more thing I am super grateful for. Drum roll please...Jon accepted a job this afternoon! He'll start mid August working for a company in Scottsdale that sells software. Praise God for new possibilities and for listening to so many faithful prayer warriors!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl- Movie Review

I am picky…no let’s say discerning, about what I allow my kids to watch on television or by movie. There are a lot of movies that my kids have not seen that are “popular” and then there are movies that my kids have seen which I prefer that they hadn’t (which I conclude as a poor parenting moment, we all have them, right?).

A few weeks past, I took half of my Brownie troop to see the new movie Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in the theater. Prior to inviting the gals, I checked out the common sense online review before I went and was fairly confident that this rated ‘G’ movie would be okay for the girls to see, but knowing how (picky) discerning I can be, I still had my “mommy,” now “troop leader” filter on. There's a lot of pressure when you're in charge of filling precious girl's minds, especially those precious minds that are not mine!

I thought it was fabulous! Absolutely fabulous!

It was one of the best movies I've seen in a while, adult or kid style! The message was simply fabulous and not sensationalized, Hollywood style (too much). It was a sincere, believable, heart touching film with a great cast of fine actors and actresses and thought-provoking storyline we as a family can’t stop talking about. It's openend up so many wonderful discussions, things like:
• the value of a strong work ethic
• our attitude toward those who are less fortunate than us
• where we place our trust
• the importance of keeping your word
• the uncertainty of riches
• stealing...is it ever acceptable?
• lying...is it ever okay?
• believing people to be innocent until proven guilty
• persistence
• not judging people based on outward appearances or external circumstances
• generosity
• resisting peer pressure
• being willing to sacrifice
• humility
• seeking forgiveness and offering grace

I hope this movie does real well and more films like this are put into the theater! It's one the Kempiak Party of Five will purchase and have on our shelves to view over and over again.

I'm So Excited!

(This entry on our family blog should have been entered a month back…sorry that I delayed.)

I’m so excited! For quit some time, years that is, I’ve had thoughts rambling in my head of ideas the Kempiak Party of Five does around our home that I could write as possible entries to my all-time favorite magazine, Family Fun. Finally one day, after getting an email requesting readers to submit ideas on traditions families do for Father’s Day, I felt the good Lord nudge me and say, “Do it now!” I didn’t do my normal, hem and haw, look over my to-do list and see it too full already then put this “new” thing on the backburner, I just did like the Nike commercials used to say and “just did it!” On the spot, without much time, I wrote an article and hit “send” even without my extra set of trusty eyes (Jon) to see, comment, and edit.

Not more than a couple of days passed and I got an email from the editor saying I was “in” for June’s issue. After a few correspondences including sending photos of my kids and them asking me some questions, my contract (yes…it’s that official) was signed and a check for $100 dollars was in the mail for me, the family “author”. Vwalah! So cool!

Skip forward a couple months to the end of May when I was walking out of the kids’ school after volunteering, when two families stopped me saying pretty much the same thing, “Hey, I loved your little blurb in the magazine”. That was my first inkling that the magazine was “out” for distribution. Before going home, we stopped by our neighborhood mailboxes to find our box without the magazine. Ugh! We entered the house, hearing a few more comments on our voice mail, similar to those on the school’s campus. Can I say TORTURE, pure torture to not have it in my hands, my very first “published” entry? We had church that night and got out late, but as we drove past a supermarket, I decided to stop in and peruse the magazine stands. There it was edited down to the editor’s liking, leaving me with “understanding” on why people kept referring to my article as blurb. Laugh out loud!

Here’s what I wrote for those that don’t have the magazine: Ever since birth, my children have always had a special tradition, "just for dad" that really pulls at my husband's heartstrings. Each year, near Father's Day, I take each child (now 3 of them) outdoors for an individual photo shoot. My children always wear the same shirt each year, the shirt their daddy wore in the hospital delivery room when they were born, (which means 3 shirts total, one per child). The kids just "swim" in these shirts and really get silly taking the photos, but it doesn't matter, it's the delight of my husband watching his "loves" grow before his eyes and a very special reminder of how quickly they grow. It's very sentimental! He has photos from his first "holding" all the way to recent years. His plan, without the kids knowing, is to break the outdated, cherished shirt out at their wedding receptions to have a special "dance" and photo opportunity with each. There won’t be a dry eye in the room, I’m sure.

Well now I have the bug. I want to write more. I want more $100 checks in the mail with MY name on them. But even though the desire is there, I’ve so far resorted to my old ways of hemming and hawing, looking over my to-do list and seeing it too full already, putting this “new idea/passion” on the backburner. Someone snap me out of it!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Date With Owen

I had to keep my mind preoccupied as Baylee and Nathan were off at school today, so I planned a date with my little buddy Owen, who frankly could use some ‘mind preoccupation too’ for the same reasons. Since Daddy was ‘free’ as we are calling it, he came too, giving me two men to enjoy. Owen lavished in the attention he was getting, full of laughs and smiles. Our first stop, QT for an orange cream slushy

then off to the Superstition Springs Mall to (finally) ride the new double-decker carousel (3 times!). Owen absolutely loved being on the second story with the elephant first, the horse, then the gorilla holding a banana.
(Daddy only rode with us once because he got too dizzy.).
Riding the carousel all-day-long would more than likely be an ideal day in our little OJ’s mind
(Walking past the carousel, he ran into the cow from Chick fil-A.)

Owen surprised us with how “okay” he was with his brother and sister, his built in playmates, being gone…or so we thought. Heading home, before school was out was “not an option” in his book. He sobbed saying over and over again, “I want to go pick them up now. I want the Kempiak family back together!” Poor guy! Then to top it off, once it was time to pick them up, Owen fell asleep exhausted in his car seat. He wasn’t even able to see them end their day at school and begin it again with him. Nonetheless, once he did wake, he was full of spunk and zeal, ready to play with his best friends in the whole world. Thank God neither had homework yet, so they were able to give Owen full attention. There was a whole lot of kissing going on!

The School Year Has Begun!

Have you noticed? My kindergarten countdown is no longer here on my blog! Today was the day (boo hoo). Nathan and Baylee are now in school, once again, although the summer and the heat are far from being gone. They both were amazing, full of courage and joy (there were still nerves though), earning them both those family value keys.

After our traditional kissing hands, before they walked out of our reach, we prayed with them both that neither would stray from God’s path and that they would shine for Jesus, loving and valuing each person that God put before them (big or small...ELR people or not..."extra love required"). This year, as the others, we commit to the Lord's will, love, and care!

Each got in the van exhausted at 4:00, but very happy. Nathan’s highlight was writing his name in chocolate pudding. Baylee’s highlight was answering questions with M and M candies. Yummy, a girl after my own heart!
Baylee giving Mrs. Runyon her traditional "first day gift", yellow roses.
Baylee and her buddy Matthew.
Baylee and her Brownie sister (who is new to Edu Prize) Maggie. "Welcome to school Maggie!"
Baylee and Aimee, her Brownie sister and classmate for 3 years now!
Baylee and her Brownie sister, Sabrina.
Baylee and Matthew L, her silly classmate for 2 years now!
Baylee and her new first grade pal, Elise.

Now it's Nathan's turn...
Nathan with his gift to Mrs. Zavisch, yellow roses!
Nathan and Michael.
Nathan and Cousin Kaydon (and classmate).
"The boys!"...right away they just put their arms around each other, just like they were at the party. So sweet!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Christmas in July...We Had a Sizzlin' Time

Stores do it this time of year, so why not the Kempiaks? But to give credit where credit is due…it was our dear close friends the Kellers where the inspiration for this family fun day/night activity was birthed!

On Monday, as many of you know, we celebrated Christmas in July! We discussed it in a family meeting a few weeks ago and the kids couldn’t help contain themselves! They were full of great ideas that we put into the “plan”, however Jon and I kept the actual “date” a secret. We even swapped names for a gift exchange, where as a family we headed to the local dollar store, Dollar Tree, with $1.08 in hand per person, picking out those “can’t resist” gifts, days ahead. Owen bought Baylee a patriotic ceramic duck. Jon bought Nathan a Spiderman inner tube for the pool. Baylee bought Owen Batman socks, Nathan bought me a frame and put a photo of him and me in it, and I bought Jon a box of Little Debbie Snack cakes.

We all woke to Christmas music playing, early Monday morning and quickly began to decorate the small tree we brought in from storage with homemade paper ornaments from the day. We made and decorated Christmas cookies while sucking on left over candy canes, cooked a traditional turkey dinner feast, and exchanged gifts, unveiling our “Secret Santa’s”.

From year's back, I purchased a Reindeer piƱata that’s been perched on a high shelf in the garage, so we thought this was the time to use it. We filled it with school supplies (markers, Chapstick, pencils, erasers, etc.). The kids LOVED it!

The plans were to sing Christmas songs by the outdoor campfire, but an electric and dust storm swept through, so we had to set that plan aside and watched a Christmas dvd instead. While eating our cookies we had “not-so-hot cocoa”, had a wonderful discussion, and then decided to end our Sizzlin’ Christmas night with a (late) big splash, in the pool. I’m sure the neighbors (and even you who logged onto our blog) hearing Christmas music, thought for sure this was the last straw and that the Kempiak Party of Five had totally lost it! Lost it…NO, we gained a lot…tons of smiles, laughs, and memories (and possibly a few calories). We now have a new family tradition, Christmas in July!

Nathan's Jedi Academy

Timing is everything, I’ve been told and usually my timing isn’t close to ‘perfect’ although today’s activity I think was. Praise God for Him giving me some wisdom.

Nathan’s “Just Because, Summer Party” was today, the day before he began kindergarten. He had four classmates come; Michael, Andrew, Jonas, and his cousin Kaydon to participate in a Jedi Training Academy, Star Wars style!

Each got extensive lessons on how to use a Light Saber (pool noodle cut in half). They dodged the Death Star, saved Princess Leia, threw cannons (water balloons) at the Imperial Ship, and much more.

Light Sabers were on our minds and in our tummies too. Lunch was full of them…corndogs on a stick, fruit kabobs, and yogurt sticks. Yummy!

Although not invited, a guest appeared near the end of the day with loud music to introduce himself…Darth Vader (a.k.a. Daddy/Jon). You should have seen the boys’ eyes! It was then where these ‘wanna be’ Jedi’s showed their skills, battling Darth himself. All were “Victorious”, especially Jedi Jonas who took Darth down to the ground!

All graduated with flying colors…so let me proudly introduce to you…
Jedi Jonas
Jedi Andrew
Jedi Michael
Jedi Kaydon
Jedi Nathan
Jedi Owen

The party was ending and all the boys hugged saying, “See you tomorrow at school!” They were eager to continue their friendships and see each other again! I just hope that their choice of ‘at recess will be appropriate. Mrs. Zavisch is in store for some very sweet boys!

(P.S. Don’t break the news to Owen. He thinks this party was “his” too.)