Holidays

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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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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4th of July 2008: Fireworks, Family and Poppy in the Sprinkler

Sun, 13 July 2008

For the fourth of July, we had some good times at Conesus Lake. Much of the Rzepkowski clan came into town to enjoy the Ring of Fire on the 3rd. Wendy and Ian even drove up from South Carolina, and with them came both of my grandmas and Barb Polasik, my grandma’s cousin from Virginia, who is just a terrific lady.

A Flame Lit for Lefty
At dusk we started off the fireworks show by writing messages to grandpa on a Chinese lantern. We had a lighting ceremony with some prayers and then sent it off into the sky. We expected it to go thousands of feet into the sky and see its way to heaven. Instead it went about 100 feet, then came down like the Hindenburg. It was still very touching, and beautiful.

Neal with Chinese Lantern
Uncle Neal lights the Chinese lantern. If you look closely you can read the messages to Lefty

Ian also brought with him about $300 worth of fireworks that we lit off at the end of the dock, adding our own personal show to the thousands of crazies trying to outdo each other.

Fireworks at the lake
One of the many fireworks shot off at the lake

Childrens-ahhs
The children’s ahhs tell the whole story

On the 4th we made a HUGE breakfast of Belgian waffles and egg casserole. Then, Ian, Dad, Mike and me went to Livingston Country Club for a round of golf. I was on my way to my goal of breaking 100 for the first time. But, at hole 15 my stamina went out the door, and I had 7’s and 8’s for the rest of the round, leaving me with a 111. Luckily we are all in the high-scoring club so that was good enough for second place.

Golf at Livingston Country Club
Dad “executes” a 60 ft. putt while Ian provides the typical hi-jinx

Th rest of the weekend we had great weather, so we took the kids swimming in the not-so-warm water and went on a nice long boat ride. There was plenty of drinking and fishing to keep us occupied too. As is our tradition, we topped it off with our yearly family photo in the Old Navy flag tees.

flag-tee-photo

At Nana and Poppy’s House
After our trip to the lake we went to Nana and Poppy’s house for some more relaxation and Mush for dinner. It was hotter than blazes on that Sunday, so the kids convinced Poppy that they should all go in the sprinkler. That set us up for some ideal photos of grace and beauty in action. Have a look:

Poppy and Mason in the Sprinkler
Poppy and Mason having fun in the sprinkler

Poppy and the kids in the sprinkler
Grace in action: Poppy and the kids jump through the sprinkler

Happy 4th of July everyone!

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Memorial Day Family Fun

Sun, 01 June 2008

We wonder why summer goes by so fast in Western New York. Well, it’s because we only get about 13 weeks of truly summer-like weather. Memorial Day weekend kicks it off, and before you know it we’re into Labor Day. It all becomes a blur. I try to spend more time outside and far less in front of the computer blogging. So, here we are in the weekend after Memorial Day and I haven’t even talked about what fun we had.

Wii Skied on Friday
Friday night we had our friends the Krolczyk’s over to our house for a nice little barbecue. Afterward we all huddled around the Wii Fit and had some laughs learning how to ski jump. Tricia has been honing her Wii Fit skillz for her training biz, so she was the expert teacher.

Tricia shows Mia the Wii Ski Jump
Tricia shows Mia how to Ski Jump in Wii Fit

Lake House Chillaxin’
On Saturday we headed down to my parents’ lake house and got our first taste of decent weather. While the adults had some fun drinking Dirty Water (Brandy, Sprite, lime), the kids met all of their lake buddies. Anna was particularly menacing as Batgirl with her friend Olivia.

Anna as Batgirl
Anna is a Batgirl Bada$$

Sunday morning we started the day with one of our favorite summer pastimes; a visit to the East Avon Flea Market. It’s held at the Vintage Drive-In Theater. We always walk away with at least one bargain, and usually at least one thing we didn’t need. That day I got a fishing rod holder for my garage and a ‘crowd-pleaser’ fishing lure for my upcoming trip to Canada.

Celebrating Uncle Adam’s Entry into the World
Sunday afternoon we headed over to Nana and Poppy’s house where they were throwing a party for Adam’s 25th birthday. Uncle Matt, Aunt Ali, and a deep fried turkey all showed up for the party.

Poppy Deep Fries Turkey
Poppy deep-fries the bird

For dessert, Adam requested brownies not chocolate cake. The kids were very happy with his decision.

Adam and the kids with B-Day Brownies
The way to the kids’ heart is through brownies

Monday Memorial Parade
Mason got to stay by himself with Nana and Poppy on Sunday night and into Monday. While Mason was fishing, playing mini-golf and having a jolly good time, Tricia, Anna and I went to the Webster Memorial Day parade. I haven’t been to a parade in a long time, so it was awesome on such a beautiful day to take in Webster’s offering. It was only 20 minutes long, but we got to see everything from Boy Scouts, to marching bands, to decorated veterans. It was a great way to cap off a very relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

Troops in the Webster Memorial Day Parade
Troops in the Webster Memorial Day Parade

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10 New Things I Learned On Our Family Bahamas Vacation

Tue, 01 April 2008

I spent last week with my wife and kids, my parents, and my sister’s family in the Bahamas. We stayed at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach near Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. The trip had been in the works for over a year, with Mom and Dad choosing this all-inclusive resort for some good family R&R.

It took me over a day to unplug my brain from work, eased by all the food and drink I could handle. Once I vegged out just a bit it was time for activities. When my brain is free to explore other interests I learn lots of new things. So, here are 10 new things I learned while in the Bahamas

1. Trapeze Tricks
Yep. The flying circus act. Who knows why a resort decides to install a trapeze as an amenity? Perhaps it ranks right after the cucumber facial exfoliation wrinkle reducing treatments and before heated toilet paper. Whatever the case may be, we had a 30′ high apparatus not far from the back porch of our first-floor beach front rooms. We were fixated on watching the pros do it, and joked with Anna that she should try it. We checked the schedule which included kid sessions in the morning and adult sessions in the afternoon. Mike, inexplicably volunteered to take the challenge. I was perfectly happy to chicken out, but I’m just too competitive. So, after he came out alive I decided to do it. Dad is even more competitive than me, so he took to the sky to prevent any ‘skirt’ jokes. Even Mason gave it a try late in the week, because all of his camp buddies got into it.


This was one of those experiences that I was happy to have done once, and just as happy to never do again.

The ladies were glued all week to the high-flying theatrics. Ultimately, they could not let the other smiling guests have all the fun. So Tricia, Mom, Lindsey, and even little Anna built up enough courage to give it a shot. Tricia lived out her tom-boy, tree climbing, monkey swinging childhood. Mom conquered the very same event that her sister as an adult had promised to do at Circus World, but chickened out. Yeah Mom! You beat Aunt Darrell on that one :) Lindsey’s experience was similar to mine. We were never ones to do the monkey bars, no less swing upside down. Hers was a conquest probably not to be repeated. And Anna…well, she finally got to do what she was begging to do.

2. How to Ride a Tandem Bike
On Thursday, only our second fully sunny day of the trip, Dad came up with the idea to leave the resort property and bike to Port Lucaya where there was some souvenir shopping. When we went to the security desk to check out the bikes I joked with Tricia that we should take out the only tandem bike on the rack. I really wasn’t serious. She spoke right up though and said, “That sounds good”. So, she climbed on the back and we started off toward Port Lucaya with my Dad.

The bike took a lot of getting used to. The two sets of pedals are chained together, and of course her handle bars did no steering at all. When I wanted to slow down she kept pedaling. When she wanted to see something ahead, all she could see was the red t-shirt on my back. After a while though we developed a system. I said “Coast” every time I wanted her feet off the pedals and this let the bike glide. If we were stopped and needed to get started easily, she acted as the “rear engine” getting us underway. The teamwork made the whole experience really fun, and actually far less effort for both of us (just ask my dad). If we ever get a chance to tandem ride again, I’m sure we will.

Kris and Tricia on a double bike
Kris and Tricia on a double bike in Port Lucaya

I promise, there really are 8 other new things I learned. I’ll talk about them in my next post. In the meantime enjoy my pictures of the trip, or check out Tricia’s vacation recap.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Holidays, Leisure Time, Life, Marketing Strategy, Travel | 3 Comments »
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Annual Broadway Market Pilgrimmage

Sat, 15 March 2008

Ahh…Easter. It’s that time of year in Western New York where every day is 40 degrees and overcast. Piles of old dirty snow line the sides of the road reminding you that winter was but 5 days ago, and it could yet bite again. It’s also the time to take an hour ride to Buffalo and visit the Broadway Market.

Broadway Market Family
2008 Family excursion to the Buffalo Broadway Market

It is a place steeped with Polish tradition. The history is recounted on their website:

The Broadway Market is over 118 years old.

As immigrants flocked to the east side of Buffalo in the late 1800’s, they looked for the continuation of old world customs in their new and unfamiliar environment. While they wanted to enter the mainstream of city life, they also sought to preserve their Eastern European traditions and heritage. The Broadway Market would prove to serve these needs quite well….

…Famed for its ethnic old world shopping atmosphere, the Broadway Market’s fresh food merchant base is comprised of family-owned, family-operated butcher shops, poultry stands, fruit/vegetable stands and bakeries….

Since we won’t be around for Easter this year (we’ll be taking a vacation to the Bahamas), and we had a HUGE morning Easter Egg Hunt at our Friends’ house, we thought today would be great time to do the market. Normally, I starve myself before the trip so I can partake in the best Beef on Weck that Buffalo has to offer. Unfortunately, we hit McDonalds to be able to last in the car ride and we weren’t really hungry.

We started our tour by finding some hand painted wooden eggs. We usually get an egg for each of us.
Mason and Anna with their Polish Easter Eggs
Mason and Anna show off their hand-painted Polish wooden Easter eggs

Next, we had to pick up some Polish sausage and pierogies. We found 2 varieties at one of the meat shops so I got a package of each – one was Wardynski’s the other Redlinski’s. The pierogies were HUGE. Each one was the size of a Hostess Apple pie. Sauerkraut is my favorite, so I picked up 6. My next mission was to pick up some potent horseradish. I went for the “Broadway Market Horseradish”. I bought small jars this year, because it will stay fresher in smaller quantities once I open each jar. I topped off the visit by buying my typical obnoxious Polish-themed t-shirt. Thank goodness there’s a new one every year.

We met Matt and Alison at the market. This was their first trip, and since they will be hosting an Easter crowd next weekend, they purchased a Butter Lamb. Excellent call! We decided that we couldn’t carry around 6 pounds of meat and not give it a try, so we convinced Matt and Ali to invite us back to their place for a taste test.

Before we went though, we had to pick up one more sausage varietal. This time we acted on a hot tip from a Buffalo local who said to hit the Market in the Square grocery store in West Seneca for some Dubel’s sausage. We rushed back to the apartment and had a “Sausage Fest” complete with the appropriate laughter at how inappropriate that sounded. We had a very scientific toothpick system for keeping the different sausages straight. We all preferred the one without the toothpick which was Wardynski’s. It had by far the most complex and delicious grouping of spices.
Sausage Sampler

Tricia and Alison Pierogies
Tricia and Alison get cheeky at the Sausage Fest

Thanks to Matt and Alison for letting us invade. It was fun spending our Easter tradition with you.

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I am her GOOD Thing

Fri, 15 February 2008

Good Thing Jar

My sweet wife made me a home made gift for Valentine’s Day that is very thoughtful – literally. She created this cool little jar and inside it she put dark chocolate, and hundreds of little pick me up quotes that she found all over the place. I can take a quote from the jar each day and find inspiration from it. Not that I need any more inspiration than a person who is so thoughtful as to make such a gift for me. The first quote I pulled from the jar today…

Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.
-Author Unknown-

Thanks honey, you are awesome! Oh, and thanks for the Wii stuff too.

What did I get Tricia for Valentine’s Day? A gift card to Scott Miller Spa in Webster. I hope that inspires her in a relaxing, get away from us crazies kind of way.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
-Corinthians- opened on 2.18.08

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.
-Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld- opened on 2.19.08

Love is a fruit at all times, and within the reach of every hand.
-Mother Theresa- opened 2.20.08

It is sometimes hard to cross that bridge, try something new, or make that change.
opened 2.21.08

It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.
-Eddie Cantor- opened 2.22.08

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
-Abraham Lincoln- opened 2.25.08

I love you, not for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.
-Roy Croft- opened 2.26.08

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, While loving someone deeply gives you courage.
-Lao Tzu- opened 2.27.08

Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.
-Eleanor Roosevelt- opened 3.12.08

Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, persperation and inspiration.
-Evan Esar- opened 4.14.08

All of these quotes give me perspective on my life and work.

Posted in: Holidays, Life | 2 Comments »
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Kris-mas 2007

Wed, 02 January 2008

This year I disconnected from the grid for a week just to enjoy life. Of course what happened was that holiday consumerism crept in to fill the void where so many hours are usually spent on work matters. I’m not complaining, all of it was a terrific distraction for my numbed mind. I just think it is funny how quickly the days pass when plugging in to non-work life.

Top uses of spare time over the Holiday Break…

1. Logging into Webkinz
Webkinz Error Message
We are late adopters when it comes to Webkinz. So, Santa brought 3 of them to our family. Unfortunately, Santa brought them into millions of other households on Christmas. From Christmas Day through today the Webkinz experience has consisted of a lot of the above. Shame on Webkinz for not building out enough servers to meet holiday demand. Couldn’t they have ordered a Blackbox or something?

2. Playing Webkinz Games for the Kids
Guess what? That KinzCash doesn’t come easy. The games in Webkinz world are pretty tough; especially for 4 and 5 year olds. Whatever happened to good old stupid Beanie Babies?

3. Obtaining WiiShoulder
I’m not sure that Nintendo knew it would have a Baby Boomer hit when they released the Wii. Well, believe it. My Mom gave my Dad a Wii, and my father in-law gave my mother in-law one. Not one to shy from competition, I spent much of my time trying to approach the greatness of parents who taunt me with scores like this…

Nana’s Wii Bowling Record
Ellen Agosti’s top score at Wii Bowling

4. Demonstrating ineptitude at Guitar Hero III
I don’t need no stinking Wii. I got Guitar Hero III for my PS2. While I put in some pretty good licks on my Guitar Hero, I spent a bit of time drooling at YouTube videos of people knocking it out on expert. My favorite so far from Guitar Hero II…

5. Finding things to Pour BaconSalt On
Eggs…Check. Pizza…Check. Canker sore?…hmmm. Yes, Santa brought me all 3 delicious flavors of BaconSalt. I very much wanted to support my former colleague’s bacontrepreneurship. Indeed, everything tastes better with Bacon. Yeah, it’s fine on food, but I’m not sure whether its medicinal qualities have been fully exploited. I usually zap a pesky canker sore with salt. Next time it’s going to be a Hickory Flavored Bacon Assault.

Kris Bacon Opens Salt

6. Lego Attack
I’m going to adjourn meetings of LBA (Lego Builders Anonymous). Supposedly Mason is into Legos, which he is. The more Tricia and I got into it though, the more we became Lego Maniacs. By the end of the holiday week we had assembled the following sets that Mason got for Christmas.

Lego Castle

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Happy 2008!

Wed, 02 January 2008

Rzepkowski Family January 1, 2008

New Year’s Eve this year was tons of fun. We had our new friends Christine and Andy White (via Mason’s kindergarten buddy, Nolan), and our old(er) friends David and Kelly Janicek over for New Years Eve. There was plenty of Guitar Hero III to play, and the wives had good fun just chit chatting. All of it was augmented by some top shelf libation and great food. The time really went by quick. We only made it to the last 4 seconds of the Dick Clark countdown, and then it was back to the fun until 4am. It’s back to work today for some rest after our great holidays **yawn**.

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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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