Kids

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…

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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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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!

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Super Anna and Super Mason

Fri, 10 October 2008

It’s fun stuff Friday. In today’s episode I make Mason and Anna another silly Internet creation. They really do love this stuff. Click on the posters below to see their debuts as old school Super Heros.

They seem to be channeling one of my all time favorite TV shows – Greatest American Hero.

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Mason Picks the Tigers for Tee-ball 2008

Mon, 02 June 2008

Saturday was Mason’s first day of Tee-ball for 2008. He’s playing in the 5/6 league that’s run by the Webster Athletic Association. Last year, his first season, Mason played for the White Sox. In Tee-ball you bring a pre-paid registration card to the park and you wander around until you find a team you like. So, the anticipation was killing him as we arrived at Kent Park.

Picking the Team
I wore my Cubs hat that day and wouldn’t you know it, the first team we ran into was the Cubs. We asked if they had room on the team and they said they had one spot left. Surprisingly, Mason passed it up. So we walked around a bit more as Mason passed up the Mets, Dodgers, and Athletics. Then we saw THE ONE. As soon as Mason saw the “tough looking” Tigers logo on the shirts of some player, he knew that was the team he needed to play for. I knew his reasoning as I had just spent the prior 2 weeks watching him critique the mascots of all the major league clubs. He got really annoyed with dopey mascots like the Blue Jays’ ‘Ace’, and the ‘Swinging Friar’ of the Padres.

Mason Chooses the Tigers
Mason Chooses the Tigers for its ‘tough logo’

Opening Ceremony and Practice
The league is very smart. They tear through a potentially grueling opening ceremony, complete with national anthem and ceremonial first pitch in about 10 minutes. This allowed plenty of time for the boys to get right out there and start practicing together. Mason started right off in throwing drills where he showed a lot more strength than last year. He was able to get the ball in the air to the coach.

Mason in Throwing Drills
Mason participates in throwing drills

Batting practice was also held to get the kids familiar with swinging the bat, and running the bases. Mason had no problem remembering what to do.

Mason Practices Swing
Mason takes some batting practice

Pllllaaaayyyy Ballllll!
After a drink and a snack, which is the kids’ favorite part, they got down to the business of their first game. The Tigers first opponent was the Red Sox. We were first up and Mason was 4th or 5th in the order. When he got to the plate he hit the ball past the pitcher and it actually made it beyond the infield. This was a first for Mason so he was very excited. He ran with a full head of steam to first base and had a huge smile on his face. I knew after that he was happy to be a Tiger.

Mason runs to first
Mason runs to first base after a big hit

We saw the Red Sox take batting practice. A few of them could really hit. So I guess I wasn’t too surprised when their first batter hit line drive went right toward one of our Tigers and knocked him down. Luckily they play with soft balls in tee-ball so the boy was fine. After both teams batted around the game was over. One inning is definitely enough on the first day. Next week they’ll likely get in at least 2 of the 3 innings they are supposed to play. The best part of any team sport for the kids is learning sportsmanship. So I always enjoy them chanting “2-4-6-8-who do we appreciate” and shaking the little hands of their opponents. That topped off a great opening day of Tee-Ball.

Mason’s Tee-ball cheer
The Tigers cheer for the Red Sox after opening day

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JoAnna Sero, Kindergarten Blog Queen

Thu, 31 January 2008

2 days into Mason’s first year of school, there was no doubt in my mind that he had a very special teacher. Now he’s 90 days into his rookie year, and I’m convinced that Mrs. Sero is a star. She has got kindergarten down to a science. Her lessons are meticulously organized, her psychological abilities to keep the kids behaved are nothing short of supernatural. I’ve seen it. A soft-spoken “children let’s put our listening ears on” and the entire bunch quiets to listen in eager anticipation of whatever she’s about to say next.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Mrs. Sero’s Kindergarten is her complete and total grasp of the web. The class website she maintains, is always up to date with the latest happenings. Not only is the dry curriculum stuff up there, but she uploads photos of the kids’ activities and videos of their performances. She demonstrates a love for our children and their activities that we as parents can barely give. I can’t imagine that the communication from teacher to parent is better in any other class in America.

Now, JoAnna has entered the world of blogging. How she has the time, I’ll never know. The content is even more fun and free form than the website. I’ve added a new ‘kinderblog’ call-out in the sidebar of my lifeblog to showcase her writings. Thanks JoAnna. You are amazing!

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From Sledding to 60 Degrees in 2 days

Mon, 07 January 2008

Saturday, I got Mason and Anna out of the house to blow the stink off and give Tricia a breather. There was barely enough snow on the ground, but even an icy hillside will do the trick when you are desperate. We had a great time doing sled trains. My self-capture skills could improve a bit, but I really needed a 3rd arm or something to get us in better view. Here’s the highlights:

That must have been an aberration, as today it was 60 degrees in Rochester. All the snow is gone. It feels like Springtime. I hope this doesn’t mean snow on my birthday.

Posted in: Kids, Leisure Time, Life | No Comments »
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The Smash Hit of Fall ’07 – Herme the Wormy

Mon, 01 October 2007

You know those songs you can’t get out of your head? They’re called earworms. It’s only fitting that my severe earworm from Friday through the weekend was about a worm named Herme. This was a song brought home by Mason from Mrs. Sero’s kindergarten class. Herme…baby…what HAPPENED???

Posted in: Kids, Life, Music | 3 Comments »
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Lego Battle Fighter ‘Arugula’ Reaches Deep Space

Sun, 23 September 2007

Tonight, Mason launched his first Lego creation from scratch that resembles something. He expertly attached the various pieces of spaceparts to the sand base from his Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Carribean set. The result is a flying garden with an aft tower for the captain to pilot the ship and avoid tractor beams. In honor of his feat I have christened his vessel the Arugula – an homage to the vegetable that forms Rocket salad.

Lego Fighter Arugula

We took pictures of his ship and Photoshop helped propel it to the outer reaches. We’re both excited for his next build.

Posted in: Kids, Life | 3 Comments »
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