Sunday, March 29, 2009

Engineer Owen

Do me a favor please? Just pretend that it’s April 2008 (not 2009) as you read this so you don’t think I’m a horrible mom.

April 24, 2008…Owen’s 3rd birthday. Owen loves trains and especially loves riding them at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. That’s the exact spot he desperately wanted his 3rd birthday party with his buddies to be. I agreed. We set the date and BAM! Owen got sick, running a high temperature (2 years in a row for his party) so we had to CANCEL the festivities although the cake was made and everything ‘ready’. Ugh! Practically 6 months pass when we finally get around to the “reschedule” (although it’s almost time for his half b-day party at home)…this time, the party having to be cancelled AGAIN the day of…due to a HUGE rainstorm. Double Ugh! More time passes, we get busy and Jon’s work schedule continues to be less than desirable, so we just let it slide by almost wishing we can just let his 4 year old birthday party be a combined one (3 and 4 year old party). Well, Owen didn’t forget. One day he calmly says to me, “Mommy, can we pleeeeeease have my 3 year old birthday party now?” More conversation continues and the end result leaves me wanting to, once again, plan the party. It’s been almost 11 months since he turned three and as he pointed out, we had all the stuff, so off I call my friends and family and whalla, another date is set. No fevers, no rainstorms, nothing…so OWEN FINALLY GOT HIS BIRTHDAY PARTY. I think he wore his Kool-Aide grin all day! And I, feel much much much better that I followed through (finally) with my word!

(Owen, Cocoa, and Colton)
(Owen and Ross)
(Something real cool...our cousins Jennifer and Zephyr were able to come to the party from California. It was awesome being together!)

(Colton on the bottom, cousin Zephyr, Nathan, cousin Carlie, Sabrina, Ross Jr., Baylee, cousin Blake, and Owen)
(Cousin Zephyr, Ross Jr., Colton, and Owen)

Now I’m just a month from him turning 4. We told him his party had to be in May to at least make it seem like time has passed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baylee and Daddy's Date

Jon and Baylee had a date today. They went on a Daddy Daughter picnic at Freestone Park and had a great time with a few other friends. I pray that Baylee will look back on her childhood and remember how much her daddy loved and admired her.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Green Winner 2009

Drum roll, please...
the winner of this year's 2009
Saint Patrick's Day green contest
for the Kempiak Party of Five is...

Nathan Gerald Kempiak!

Most voters through email, phone calls, and even blog participants commented about his attention to detail, even as a Jedi. The light saber was the key to success, along with the green jacket with hood!

Way to go Nathan! The force was with you. Enjoy holding onto the trophy until our next fun loving challenge.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Kempiaks Went Green!

We drove home on St. Patrick’s Day from Yuma and Jon had to work so we decided to celebrate the day afterwards. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, don’t you agree?

We planned our traditional dinner event, “Go Green” where our meal and outfits from head to toe are to be just that, GREEN! Each person in the family, every year, is allotted $7 to spend to add to their green attire already, but knowing the stores would have sales the day after…I made everyone wait to use their $7 until the day of our event (March 18th). What a smart move that was, I love those 50% isles!

So here are the pictures of our evening together. Don’t just sit and enjoy…this is a competition with high stakes you know. Each person in your family needs to place their vote on our blog letting us know who their favorite Green Kempiak is. The person with the most votes, get’s to hold onto our family’s spirit trophy until our next family friendly competition and everyone is hoping to be the proud recipient. It has bragging rights you know!

Come on gals and guys of all ages…let the voting begin!

Kind Baylee: her nails are green as well as having a painted shamrock on her cheek. The shamrock pants along with the glittery go go hat, tiara, and necklace add to her already adorable attire.

Sweet Nathan: okay Mr. Creative, this boy found a way to accessorize using his green light saber as well. His green sweat pants cover his green under*****, and green shirt as well. And Nathan insisted on putting his green jacket with hood on, the entire night, bless his heart!

Adorable Owen: must be maturing fast because this boy even has a green mustache! It suits him well with his array of green clothing which includes his new green hat that reads, “Mommy’s lucky charm!” He too has a shamrock on his face, along with a very “gentleman-like” tie.

Jon: what a fun Leprechaun! Don’t you love his stance? Like father like son, he too has green facial hair tonight as well as a green golfing hat with hair that rests above his green “Jesus loves this guy” t-shirt! Don’t forget to notice his green Chuck Taylor shoes, his favorite!
Kymberly: I tell you, the green wig doesn’t look as good on me as others I’ve seen but when it comes to having fun with it, I’ll do it despite the shade it turns my face. Who says blondes have more fun? So, from head to toe…it’s green. Green shamrock socks to compliment the green plaid shorts and St. Patty’s day shirt (that I got for $1). I’m sure the shamrock tiara just adds to your liking too.

Even Cocoa got dressed for the occasion, sitting next to our Leprechaun friend. He’s the only one that will NOT get the spirit trophy, although he is a BIG part of our family.

Go vote, vote, vote!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our Trip to Yuma

We’re back from Disneyland (can you hear my sigh of sadness). And without much time to unpack; clean up, then repack, the kids and I headed for an overnight trip to Yuma, Arizona where my Dad and Pat live. It’s been almost 4 years from our last visited there, since we’re spoiled by having the family cabin to congregate to, so we figured it was “about time”.

While in Yuma, we had a super time hanging by the river while watching the cars and trucks leave Arizona and enter California (the kids got a kick out of the cars being in both states at the same time), playing in the backyard, stopping off at a strawberry field, visiting Grandma Pat at her work, and visiting the famous historical Yuma territorial prison right there. And to top it off, Cocoa joined us.

Time here too went faster than we would have liked but it was nice to get back to Daddy who had to stay behind to work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mile Marker Bags

Road trips can be so taxing no matter what age you are so for me, I wanted to make them as “painless” as possible. Ever since Jon and I were married, we adopted a tradition for EVERY distant car trip. Days ahead I purchase little things; snacks, party favors, conversational starters, riddle & maze books, etc. and put them in sealed brown lunch bags. I mark these ‘mile marker bags,’ as we call them, and divide up the miles we drive. Then after many miles have passed, bag one opens…many more miles pass, then bag two is opened, etc. You’d be amazed how quickly the trip goes, not matter what direction, because of it being ‘broken’ up in so many sections. We do these bags round trip.

Even on “adult only” trips I’ve put together bags. From those hot fireball candies to see who can keep them in their mouth the longest, bubbles to blow over the start border, to gift cards for drive-thru restaurants, the choices are endless!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Bench

While at Disneyland, Jon received a message on his phone from the City of Gilbert letting him know my brother’s memorial bench arrived and was already delivered to the park and cemented in (way before schedule)! What a gift from God to have something like that to look forward to back in Arizona.

It was simply torturous that the night we arrived home that I couldn’t walk over to the park to check it out. But my first available moment, the next morning, you betcha I was there, I couldn’t wait. And as I arrived with the boys, my heart was pounding quicker than normal. I had several emotions stirring around me from sadness to sheer joy. Oh how I wanted to sit there, to rub my fingers on the words I had etched on the backside, pray, and feel one step closer to the man I miss so very much. But as I got closer, it was being occupied by a single man. “What should I do?” I thought. So as I was right next to it, I just knelt down and started telling the boys about the bench and just talking about “Uncle” as we refer to him. The man overheard and insisted that he moved and we sat on it. He stayed with us for about 25 minutes or so, wanting to know about my brother. He was so complimentary and even had me take a photo of him on the bench so he could “Tell Johnny’s story” to his friends and family. Neat!

My brother’s bench is at Cosmo’s Dog Park in Gilbert, Arizona overlooking the water/beach area up on the hilltop. It had to be there as it was the place my brother would walk our kids to practically every night after dinner to just sit and watch the dogs. It was because of Johnny doing that that Owen overcame his fear of dogs actually (and desperately wants one).
The bench was only possible because of so many generous friends, strangers, and family that donated items for me to sell in a memorial garage sale. I will forever be grateful for that! God bless you all!

Please, take the time to go to the park and enjoy my brother’s bench that reads,
John Bailey Kovatch, In God’s hands & our hearts!

Please tell me once you do. For me, it’s such a restful place to ponder. I think you will feel the same way too.

Hidden Mickey Mania

While at Disney this trip, we had a lot of fun with a new family challenge. Now that the kids are older, we were able to explain the “hidden Mickeys” and have fun discovering them together in lines, on rides, and even when we were just walking around. Inside the park and surrounding resort areas, there are over 170 hidden Mickeys all around. Have any of you done this?

There are sites out there like, as well as the book we picked up, Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys by Steven Barrett but you can do this fun hunt without either of them. I warn you though, hidden Mickey mania is contagious. You should join the search sometime. With alert eyes and mind, you can spot a Mickey just waiting to be discovered. You’ll marvel at how sneaky the Disney Imagineers are when placing them, big and small.

Without giving away a bunch, we’ll just point out one that was pretty well camouflaged on It’s a Small World.

(Look carefully at the nose)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meet Cocoa Kempiak

God’s blessed us with wonderful friends in our lives that cheer us on, inspire us, teach us, and guide us. The Roberts family is definitely one of those blessings! Before Christmas 2008, on Erica’s blog, she posted that her family established a mascot for them and it happened to be good ol’ Kermit the Frog. So cute! I remember thinking, “That’s a neat idea,” but shortly after the ‘read’, it went to the back of my mind. Months went by and another state. On day one at Disneyland, as the Kempiak Party of Five stood in line at Peter Pan, Jon noticed the Roberts ‘5some’ behind us some ways in line too and attached to their backpack was Kermit. Jon asked me about the green little fella and I explained. Right away Jon insisted that we buy a mascot too (assuming we would when we arrived back home). Without even looking for one, we came across the little critter we needed for our family. I’d like to introduce to you, Cocoa Kempiak (the non gender, ever so cute family mascot). He’s already loved very much and we know he’ll be on some mighty adventures with us, whether on backpack like this trip or in another fashion. Isn’t he adorable? More about Cocoa another time…as life goes on…

P.S. This mascot thing is too much fun! We were even able to find an antenna decoration that looks like Cocoa to us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Magical Time of Togetherness

As a recap…Baylee’s one “ask” to Santa this past CHRISTmas was a ticket to Disneyland (and she got ‘it’). And one BIG PERK of me taking the substitute position last Fall was to save money to go there as a family of five. Well, since Jon’s birthday was the 9th and because Disneyland graciously allows birthday people to get in for free on their special day in 2009, we thought we should take them up on their offer, using Baylee’s two day pass and the money we set aside. So basically, for day one we had to pay for 3 tickets only and then day two we paid for 4 tickets, and day three 5.

It seems so silly to me to sum up the trip as “Magical” but really…that’s what it was. We all are Disney lovers and I can cry just thinking about Owen’s reaction (and Baylee and Nathan too actually) to each site and character. (Okay, I am crying as I type this now!)

Thankfully we have two very special teachers for Baylee and Nathan who were so awesome to give us the ‘thumbs up’ to go the week before our Spring Break. It was great timing too, only 15 minute waits for the most part. Can we make this a family tradition???

We initially paid for a two day trip but as we were half way through day two, Jon called his boss for permission for another day off and then quickly headed to customer service to upgrade our tickets. As a submissive wife, I couldn’t disagree. (lol)
~Here are some favorite moments of our time away~
♥ Being together, holding hands, singing, and being carefree
♥ Owen meeting his very favorite character Goofy and asking him if he’s wearing pineapple underpants (from a movie he likes)
♥ Nathan being “tall enough” for Indiana Jones ride
♥ Owen on Dumbo (his favorite and first ride)
♥ Baylee on Splash Mountain (her favorite…that die hard)
♥ Nathan’s time on stage fighting Darth Vader!

♥ Owen grabbing Nathan's hand proudly and not letting go for over an hour after Nathan went up against Darth Vader. "You're my hero!" he was saying.
♥ Our niece Kristen joining us on day two’s afternoon
♥ Running into our friends the Robert’s and Castronova’s
♥ Picking out our family mascot…Cocoa the monkey!
♥ HSM3 parade
♥ Watching Owen during the Playhouse Disney show, thinking all the characters are alive and able to hear him
♥ Finding hidden Mickey’s
♥ Seeing the “new” Small World…pretty!
♥ Having total strangers wishing Jon happy birthday (because of the pin they give him to wear)
♥ Running into Michelle Kohout after her “Shift” around midnight in downtown Disney and not even knowing she works there.
♥ The flowers, trees, and landscaping of Disneyland (and happiness of all the workers and most the guests)!
♥ The fireworks…wow. I cry every time!

Oh how I’d love to have season passes to Disneyland. Maybe sometime. Hmmm, I wonder how many sub positions I’d need to take to cover that one!

(For those wanting more information on how to get a free ticket on your birthday at Disneyland, click on the link above when I say, "Free on your special day")