Family and Friends

Daddy Does Home Alone

Wed, 18 January 2012

I’m getting a taste of the single life. For the longest time, Tricia has been the devoted wife while I take many a trip to Chicago or other cities on various business excursions. I have also been known to take my share of guys trips. So, I thought it was only right to encourage my lovely bride to take some time to herself for the first time in almost forever. She left for Florida bright and early Sunday morning. She’s hanging out with one of her close friends and clients, leaving me home alone to pretend what it’s like to be a single parent until Thursday night.

Let me just say, that I have a new appreciation for a great many things. Here are my top 10.

10. My Wife, the Maid. It’s not that I don’t clean up things around the house, I really do. It’s just that when you work with a partner on household stuff, it doesn’t seem nearly as repetitive. You don’t have to pick up the same exact kid mess 3 times. She usually picks it up twice and I’ll get it once.

9. Groceries. You know what? They don’t magically appear. Somebody around here actually goes to the store and buys them. Huh.

8. My Wife, the Bill Payer. These things just keep appearing in the mail. Not that I thought money magically disappeared from my account. Or, did it? hmmm…

7. Executive Chef and Meal Planner. This actually should be my #1. The fact that I married someone who has something on the table every night to delight me, is an absolute treasure. I will forever listen and participate when she says “What should we have for dinner?”. That is one of the more stressful questions, I now realize. Granted she has so much more practice than me that the answer comes more quickly. Still…what a pain!

6.  Chief Bottle Washer. Those darn dishes don’t clean themselves, despite the farcical idea of the “dishwasher”. Shame on whoever invented this “magic device that cleans your dishes”. You rinse every dish anyways – saving them in a special place for days. Then you have a massive pile to unload and put away.

5. Chief Laundry Officer Ditto. Except that my jokes about how I don’t know how to use the washing machine will probably never fly. I’m very good about putting my laundry away. I didn’t realize how much disipline there is in actually getting it to that point.

4. Taxi Driver. The kids and me have to be or want to be in 10 different places per day. Hello car, I really never knew where all your gas went. NOW, I know.

3. Spare Time. There is so very little of it for things like, oh I dunno…blogging, or working out or being a Cubmaster. Clearly running a house with 2 people is far more efficient if anyone has ambition to accomplish anything outside of keeping the home in one piece.

2. Work And… The fact that someone would run a household and have a job, and still have a smile is nothing less than remarkable.  I’ll be just fine, and I’m betting I could last a few weeks. I also know that running the house takes practice, and I’d find ways to be more efficient.  Still, though that kind of multi-tasking is not to be underestimated.

1. My Best Friend. It’s just strange. When you are so used to sharing the hustle and bustle, and talking about it at the end of the day, things can seem very quiet. I have the oddest thoughts. I think about the things that Tricia takes care of, as I go about taking care of them for a week. I think about what it would be like if she weren’t here. Yes, morbid. Of course I would adapt. People do it all the time. But, our life together is soooo much better as two. So much more efficient, so much more interesting. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Let me say, this experience is absolutely awesome. My kids were looking forward to the change in parenting from Tricia being the primary homemaker to me. I’ve done some things differently (like allowing them to do hot tub snow angels as an example), but I do find myself saying the same things that I often think my wife harps on too much. It’s as if all of the practice she has in her role has led her down a certain path. I could see myself there too. I’ve learned a lot this week. I could totally do this. You know what? I don’t really want to. I’ll be happy when she’s home, and I’ll have a different perspective on how great she is at her jobs.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Life, Travel | 1 Comment »
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My Eulogy for Wendy Vosper (Rzepkowski)

Mon, 17 October 2011

It’s been a few days now since I’ve returned from South Carolina to remember my Aunt Wendy who died of breast cancer on October 9, 2011 at the age of 46. When I went to her wake, my Dad asked if I would say a few words at her funeral because he simply could not speak about his sister through the grief. I considered it for a moment, then said “Of course”…knowing not at all what I would say at 1pm the next day. I woke up groggy from an emotional night. My wife and kids left me alone in the hotel long enough to scribble my thoughts. I broke down more than once trying to encapsulate my feelings in such a short period of time. Luckily I had a couple of blog posts to work from, and the obvious cajoling from Aunt Wendy’s spirit to guide me through. At the last minute before having to join the funeral procession, we printed the eulogy in the hotel business center. (more…)

Posted in: Deaths, Faith, Family and Friends, Life | 7 Comments »
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R.I.P. Aunt Wendy: I Miss You

Tue, 11 October 2011

On Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 3am, Wendy Sue Vosper lost her battle with Breast Cancer. Since the moment I found out about her situation almost 4 years ago I wished this would never come to pass. Her whole family did the little things to keep her spirits up, and we all awaited her every update on her condition on Carepages.com. In the end, the cancer spread to every place it didn’t belong, and put out the flame on a beautiful person. She was an inspiration long before cancer. (more…)

Posted in: Deaths, Faith, Family and Friends, Life | 5 Comments »
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Scoop It, Dump It, Pick Out the Goodies

Fri, 18 February 2011

Our February Pack meeting was our first “Skit Night” during my tenure as Cubmaster of Pack 107. So many of our scouts LOVE to perform skits at campfires, and Scout camps. I also know that the scouts love to see the scout leaders get goofy and do a skit of their own. So, I rallied my leaders together to learn and perform the ‘If I Were not a Scout Leader’ song. Some of my leaders are shy and others outspoken, but when it all came together, we all had a blast embarrasing ourselves. Parents reported mass outbreaks of kids singing “Give Bessie Give, Daddy’s Gotta live!” after the meeting.

Have a look…

Posted in: Kids, Life, Rochester, Sports and Hobbies | No Comments »
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Valentines 2011 : Daddy-Daughter Date

Thu, 17 February 2011

Sunday, Anna and I went on our annual Daddy-Daughter date for Valentine’s Day. She looks forward to the event all year long. Looking back on it, so do I. There’s not many times during the year when she and I are able to hang out by ourselves. Usually it’s Mason and me.

To begin with, Anna prepared all week by drawing a map of our activities. The elaborate plot was ‘just like last year’ with an addition. We found that the new Kohl’s in Victor has all kind of girlie clothes so that HAD to be our first stop. Indicated on the map are $ signs where I’m supposed to spend money. We would drive to Kohl’s then go to Eastview mall where we would walk to Build-a-Bear, Claire’s, Justice, dine at Friendly’s, then end our time shopping at Anthropologie, where I usually read her love poetry from one of the cool books they have there.

Valentine's Day map of activities
Anna’s detailed activity map

The morning of our date, Anna needed to make sure that I was properly outfitted for the event. She loves to see her dad wear pink. She claims that it’s my favorite color. She found the only pink shirt and sweater I have in my closet (things that my wife had bought for me to ‘prove I could wear pink’ and still be a man). The finishing touch though, was my first ‘pedi’. Anna was tired of seeing my toenails that have been blackened from a couple of bad skiing landings. So, she got out the purple and pink nail polish and voila!

Anna gives daddy his first pedicure
Anna gives daddy his first pedicure

Our dates are all about shopping, because that is something I just won’t do most of the rest of the year. It’s also a great excuse for Anna to get some new fashion. There’s nothing she likes more than fashion. Our date started off great. We spent almost 2 hours in Kohl’s trying on everything in sight.

Trying on clothes
Trying on fashion at Kohl’s. This was NOT one of the 10 dresses that she also tried on

It’s fun to watch what she gravitates towards. Dresses…sparkly dressy dresses. Yet, after all of that effort, we didn’t buy a thing!

To the mall we went. My highlight of our dates is going to Claire’s. That is the place where dad’s should never go. If you do, it is a requirement that you attempt to embarrass your daughter. Anna is already onto my antics, and she plays right along…
Anna and Daddy at Claire's
Anna and Daddy at Claire’s being very…intellectual

Our time was winding down before we had to rush off to a TYKEs show. We had time for our annual Friendly’s lunch. I tried to warn Anna that Friendly’s had moved out of where it used to be, and was now Friendly’s Express. This made Anna very upset. When she calmed down I finally got to the bottom of her angst. She wanted to be able to sit down for our meal and have me draw a picture of her on a napkin – just like last year. Because Friendly’s is now in the food court, she thought we wouldn’t be able to do that. Luckily, the new Friendly’s is AWESOME! It is a different concept. You order your food at a counter, take a number and go sit at a table where the staff will bring your good old favorites right to your table. The best part is that they still give you crayons, and you can still draw pictures of your daughter while you wait.

Anna Rzepkowski Friendlys Sketch 2011
Anna through the eyes of her dad. Friendly’s Express Eastview Mall 2011

After our Friendly’s it was a mad dash back to Claire’s to buy some make-up that ‘mommy probably wouldn’t me to buy’. Hey, you’re with Dad, cha-ching… We left the mall for our show, but when we got to the show. I had a daughter in tears. She had somehow dropped the fuzzy scarf I bought her on Valentine’s Day last year in the mall parking lot. “It was so special to me”, she said in a ball of despair. After the show we just had to go back to the mall to find it. And back we went. I drove there knowing that I would likely have to buy a replacement scarf to make this day right again. I drove to where we had parked before, and lo and behold there it was! A good samaritan had draped Anna’s scarf over a car at the end of the row. Thank God for great people. Anna was thrilled.

Anna was also thrilled that the line at Build-a-Bear was not wrapping out the door of the place. She picked out a fuzzy pink bear. We rubbed the hearts, and brought ‘Nina’ to life. There’s nothing like Build-a-Bear to make a little girl happy.

Anna at Build-a-Bear
Anna and Daddy putting some love into “Nina”

Our Daddy-Daughter date was filled with shopping and drama. We went to Anthropology for poetry, and TJ Maxx for a pretty skirt and a dress (much cheaper there ya know…) We had a great time together. It might take me til next year to recover. I had better start drawing my map now :-)

Posted in: Holidays, Kids, Life | 3 Comments »
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A Powerpoint for Father’s Day

Mon, 21 June 2010

For Father’s Day this year, Mason surprised me with a Powerpoint presentation that he made all by himself. Apparently he sat at our home computer and hand-crafted this masterpiece with skills he learned in his second grade computer lab. It was very cool on so many levels. I like that not all the time he spends in front of the computer is spent learning how to find Bakugan online. I also like that he’s clearly got an interest in marketing if he willfully made a Powerpoint deck on his own time. Another lesson learned…If I ever hear anyone say that they don’t know how to use Powerpoint, I now have living proof that even a second grader can do it.

Enjoy the presentation below. He also animated many of the screens which would only show in the Powerpoint file.

Posted in: Holidays, Kids, Life | 1 Comment »
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How to Make Ketchup – Lefty’s Way

Thu, 24 September 2009

The first weekend of September after Labor Day is a perfect time to make ketchup. That’s when my grandpa used to make it too. The tomatoes are ripe and the Farmer’s Markets have them cheap. So, it was the last time I made this recipe back in 1998, the year I got married. Tricia and I went to Dunkirk, NY to help grandpa make his ketchup, and to get those ‘damn pears’ off the tree in the backyard. I took copious notes that day on how to make ketchup Lefty’s Way. It’s a good thing I did because his short-hand recipe didn’t capture all of the details.

Grandpa passed away last year, 10 years after I made my last batch with him. I rescued his ketchup-making equipment from his basement then, and it sat idle until last weekend. The following is a video of our first ketchup odyssey on our own. Enjoy…

Posted in: Family and Friends, Leisure Time, Life | No Comments »
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A Summer of Last-Minute Firsts

Tue, 08 September 2009

I look forward to every season in Rochester. As we entered the summer – a season that we cherish because it is so short around here, we set 2 simple goals for Mason and Anna.

  1. Tie your shoes by yourself
  2. Learn to ride your bike

As June turned to July (the coldest on record), we were still waiting for some kind of progress on both fronts. Tying shoes was always put off for something easier, like wearing Crocs or going barefoot. When they had to wear sneakers it was straight to the velcro. As for biking, it was like feeding the children ipecac syrup. One teaspoon of bike ride suggestion induced 20 minutes of whiny, complaint-barf.

As we turned the corner into August something happened. It was as if the kids realized their time to be little kids was getting shorter and shorter. Some kind of magic desire welled up inside of them to accomplish their goals. One day, Tricia simply told the children to sit down and tie their shoes. It wasn’t like we hadn’t shown them how to do it many times before. This time was different. Mason nailed the knot on the second try. Not to be outdone, Anna furrowed her brow and set out to tie both of her shoes. Within 5 minutes she had done just that!

Excited, they both untied and tied their shoes 3 more times that morning. With a little coaxing and the promise of a Seabreeze trip if they accomplished their other summer goal, they went directly outside and patiently tried biking with me for the first time. This time it was Anna who took the lead. 20 months younger and gifted with a natural sense of balance, Anna let me run behind her…and run…and run until I was able to let go.

anna_bike
Look mom, I’m riding!

Mason just wasn’t going to have his sister doing better than him. So, with a little extra motivation, Mason got his first assisted start that night too!
mason_bike
Mason on his own for the first time!

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike. Well, Mason wanted to make sure of it. The very next night as I setup to assist Anna with her starting, I turned around to see Mason riding down the street on his own.

To the Persistent Come the Rewards
Tricia and I were absolutely thrilled to see the kids accomplish what they had set out to do for the summer. Coming in just under the wire, we took them to Seabreeze for the last Friday of summer. It was a BEAUTIFUL, sunny and warm September day. For the first time, Mason was above the 48″ height limit necessary to ride the adult rides.

With his newfound biking confidence, Mason attacked rides that he cried bloody murder over just a year ago. I took him on the Bear Trax (kiddie coaster) to which he scoffed that it was too easy.
mason_beartrax
Mason had a blast. He insisted on sitting in the front by himself

In fact, 3 years ago they were so scared on the kiddie coaster that they vowed they would never ride it again.
scared-coaster
Mason and Anna ride Bear Trax in 2006. Anna still won’t go on it :(

So, I proceeded to take him on the Log Flume and then to the vaunted Jack Rabbit. He was a bit scared on that, but didn’t quit and cry like he once would have…

So now, here we are. It’s the end of summer, and the kids are going back to school. Time for some new goals and new learning. They are growing up in the blink of an eye. 2nd and 1st grade wow!

Posted in: Kids, Life | No Comments »
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New to My Christmas List: Accordion Hero

Mon, 01 December 2008

Santa, for the perfect Polish Christmas surprise could you please bring me Accordion Hero? I really hope that the Chicken Dance is one of the songs. Or is that only on Accordion Hero: Wedding Edition?


I can’t take credit for this one, but whoever did it is brilliant

Here’s the trailer for the yet-to-be-released game:

Happy Holidays!

Posted in: Holidays, Life, Video Games | 1 Comment »
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Thousand Islands Mini-Vacation

Wed, 30 July 2008

For our 10th anniversary weekend we headed off to Chippewa Bay in the 1000 Islands for a couple days of fun with our friends Marc and Janet and their kids, Mia and Lucas. On Sunday morning we hooked up our boat and left the house at 9:45. We took a really nice drive east on 104 through all of the eastern Lake Ontario fishing towns like Sodus, Pulaski, Oswego, and Mexico. We arrived at around 12:30pm at the public boat launch. There, we left our boat trailer locked up and drove the boat over to the cabin which was less than half a mile away.

Jesse’s Island
The cabin is at the end of a steep road to the water’s edge. On the land where we stayed was the owner’s cabin, and a guest cabin that the 8 of us stayed in. The cabin is on Jesse’s Island, which I would suppose is one of the 1,793 islands that make up the area.

Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island
Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island

Here Fishy Fishy
The 2 boats at the dock
I brought the Fish Fry, but the best “yacht” in the place was the pontoon boat
We took the boat out fishing while Marc’s family went on the 24 foot pontoon boat they had rented. We spent a good amount of time out on the water drift fishing with worms. We got tons of small perch. As we peered over to the fishin’ barge we saw Janet hook a nice 3.3 pound walleye, and a small Northern Pike. We knew who we were fishing with the rest of the trip for sure. The pontoon boat worked out much better to get the whole crowd of us to have fishing fun together.

Anna pets a Northern Pike
Anna pets the nice Northern pike lovingly.

Island Hopping
Perhaps the best part of going to the 1000 Islands is island hopping. There was a nice state park right by where we fished every day, so it gave us a chance to explore. The island had a few tent sites and a beautiful picnic shelter. Someday, it might be fun to camp there.
Cedar Island State Park
We parked the boat on shore and poked around the island.

Mason and Anna Go Down the Tubes
On Monday afternoon the weather was kind of crummy and we had been fishing all morning. Rather than sit inside, I thought we could try a water activity. Heck, we were going to get wet anyway. I had purchased an inexpensive tube and tow rope from Dick’s to bring with us on the off chance that I might entice one of the kids to hop in the water and get dragged around by the boat. Sure enough, Anna was game for the adventure, but Mason wasn’t feeling well.

We took out the pontoon boat, hooked up the tube, and I hopped in for a trial run. Anna saw me getting dragged around having a good time, but was a little concerned when I flipped off the tube after doing some tricks. Nonetheless, she hopped into the tube giving me explicit instructions not to go fast or do tricks to flip us off. Well, I had Marc start off really slow. After a while we sped up a bit more, and Anna was having a blast! We talked the whole time together about how much fun we were having. Then I had Marc goose the throttle a bit more so we could get the tube on plane and get my legs out of the water. That’s when Anna had enough. She started to scream like she does on a kiddie coaster, “This is a nightmare!, This is a nightmare!”. I just thought that was priceless. So, we slowed down and congratulated Anna on her first tube ride. (The pictures are still on Marc’s camera). It was awesome!

Mia and Lucas both had their first turn on the tube as well (with Marc and Janet riding along). They both had a blast in their first experiences too. We went in after the first round of tubing to pick up Mason and Tricia. Luckily Mason was feeling better and he wanted to give tubing a whirl. Tricia was the first to take him out. She had the boat up to full speed, and had Mason outside of the wakes! He loved it. Then it was my turn to go out with the boy. I got even more aggressive with it at full speed, and he just never wanted to quit. Nothing beats the smiles that the whole crew had on their faces.

Mason and Tricia Tubing
Tricia takes Mason on his first tube ride

Kris and Mason tubing together
Kris and Mason go outside of the wakes

Tourist Fun
We also had a chance to check out a few spots in the tourist mecca of Alexandria Bay. My favorite, of course is the 1000 Islands Bait Store, the ultimate fishing shop. My kids really liked our scavenger hunt at Mazeland. Mazeland is a labyrinth of bushes that you try to find your way through. You go through it looking for letters that make up the word of the day. If you get the word of the day right, the kids get a prize, and the adults were entered into a drawing for one too. Mason enjoyed the life sized chess board in downtown Alex Bay. When we got back from the trip all he wanted to do was learn to play chess. That is one of his new favorite things.

Krolczyk family at Cedar Island
The Krolczyk clan in their favorite part of the world

Thanks to Marc, Janet and the kids for sharing their yearly family vacation with us. It was a lot of fun.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Fishing, Life, Travel | No Comments »
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This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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