Nothings Better Than a Great Personality!

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.  ~Bruce Lee

Kyle-Ethan-Playing-SpyRing-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ethan Kramer & Kyle playing SpyRing Both boys are such characters! c. 2010

Okay, there are other traits that are equally as important as a great personality, but not many.  A great personality can get you further in life, I really do believe that wholeheartedly.  Sure, you need to be intelligent and your moral compass needs to point north, but I believe having great charisma is the key.  Usually, this goes hand-in-hand with good social skills and communication skills and I know it’s a stretch, but leadership skills.

Some people were just blessed with a double dose of great personality, who are easy to converse with and are witty.  Then, there are those who seemed to have missed out altogether and were blessed with other great qualities, personality not being one of them.

Why a dissertation on great personalities?  As Kyle grows, his personality strengthens and is really shaping his character.  And you know what?  He has the best personality!  It’s a little sarcastic, a little bit of humor, intelligence mixed with a little bit of “knuckleheadedness” and most importantly, sincere and respectfulness.  Kyle has a good, scratch that, GREAT personality!

Now, this isn’t a news flash, by no stretch.  Kyle’s personality has always been strong, even as a tiny little baby, but it’s neat watching him mature and grow.  Our little man has blessed us in so many ways and I am very thankful he has such a strong personality.  I would love him the same if he was a slug, but it sure does make life more interesting with his sense of humor.

Pokemon Twitter Converstation Aunt Heather Piper 10-2012

A screen shot of my twitter feed… 10/2012

Last weekend, I seemed to pick up on his humorous side more than normal because it seemed like every time I turned around, that kid was cracking me up.  We went to see Thor 2:  The Dark World.  Funny movie!  Kyle and I both picked up on all the subtle and not so subtle humor in the movie.  Love it!  That kid understands and appreciates humor and sarcasm and playful words.  It made the movie that much better!  If you want to know how Kyle and I are similar, that’s it!  So I guess it helps we get each other.

Perhaps, Kyle was giggling so much, just out of sheer exhaustion.  You see he earned that movie It’s Called Hard Work For A Reason.  Not to mention, early Saturday morning and the better part of the day, dad had us clean out his garage, getting ready for hunting season.  Regardless of the reason, hanging with Kyle is fun and almost addictive, unless we’re talking about whining.   Then you just want to run!

It was a busy weekend.  On Sunday morning before church, we went to the gun range to shoot in our rifles one last time before New York hunting.  Even while Kyle was knocking down the bowling pins (shooting mine) he was full of spirit.  Especially, after dad suggested that they swing by Dunkin Donuts to pick up a sweet treat.  I did not participate, but I gave a one donut blessing.

Kyle-at-Idlewild-Gutchess-Picnic-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Hardwoods Picnic. My little man! 2004

Between Kyle spending time with my parents, practicing his piano and playing with his Legos, we had a whirl wind of activities.  Then, let’s not forget we were scheduled to join in on the hayride at Stoner Farm for Kyle’s youth group.  The hayride was scheduled for 6:30 pm, which means it was dark.  Being somewhere out by the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, finding one specific dark farm among many fields and farms was a bit difficult.  Once we found the road to take us back to the bonfire and hay wagon, we drove on.  We continued back on the road, and back and back and back.  Until we noticed, we were driving in the field!  We must have missed our turn.  Kyle found the situation to be the funniest thing ever!  He was laughing so hard, as I’m dodging major potholes and ruts in the field, that I began to join suit.  Then he started cracking comments like “Maybe we’ll run into the hayride.”  What a funny kid!

Just as we both agreed to turn around, Kyle looked over his shoulder and said, “Umm Aunt Heather, the bonfire is over there!”  We both busted out laughing before heading back in the right direction.

Once we got there safe and sound, Kyle was still living in the moment and telling everyone what we just did.  Yep he can find humor in the simplest of moments.  Great quality buddy!  Just like your dad!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.  ~Fred Rogers

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Winterguard-c.1990

Me during a Winterguard performance at Latrobe High School. We were wearing yellow ribbons in support of our troops during Desert Storm.  c.1990

Being a Latrobe native, I have a special place in my heart for the city of Latrobe. Actually, let’s face it, I can’t just say I’m from Latrobe, I exude of Latrobe pride. Yep, I am a Latrobean through and through. Some may know Latrobe for the originator of Rolling Rock Beer or being the home of the Steeler Training Camp. But there is so much more to Latrobe, unbeknownst to many, including myself until I started digging.  Since I just recently brought a Thrill of the Hunt Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt? to Latrobe, here are some fun facts about my hometown.  On a side note, if you get a moment, check out the pictures from the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.  They are hilarious!

First let’s start with the pronunciation of Latrobe.  It is correctly pronounced (leɪˈtroʊb), with the “LA”, in front of TROVB.  However, if you are a native to Latrobe you pronounce it (lay-trobe) with a long “A” sound.  Subtle, but a huge noticeable difference.

 Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

United States Census Bureau

  • Population was 8,235 (2012)
  • 2.16 persons per household (2007-2011)
  • Land area in square miles – 2.23 (2010)
  • Persons per square mile – 3,600.2 (2010)
  • Situated in the eastern part of Westmoreland County, in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region

Founding

  • In 1750, recorded of first white man
  • Christopher Gist (surveyor for the Ohio Company) passed through Latrobe
  • In 1765, many owned land in Latrobe including first Congressman to represent Westmoreland County,William Findley
  • In 1851, official founding of Latrobe began when Oliver Barnes (civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased Thomas Kirk’s 140-acre farm
  • Latrobe was named after Barnes college roommate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe never set foot in the town
  • 1852 founded by Oliver Barnes, a civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • In May of 1854, Latrobe was officially incorporated
  • In June of 1854, a borough government was established (at a meeting in the home of David Williams, contractor for the Pennsylvania Railroad)
  • Latrobe is named after Barnes best friend & college classmate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe was a civil engineer for the B&O Railroad
  • Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the architect who rebuilt the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. after the War of 1812
  • Youngstown, Pa. was established more than 50 years before Latrobe (George Washington stayed in the Youngstown Hotel)
  • About 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh
  • Early residents included Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca and Mingoe Indians (fished in the Loyalhanna River)
  • In 1999, declared a city
Latrobe-Pa-Marching-Band-1993-1994-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Greater Latrobe Marching Band (part of) senior night. Yes, the Colorguard were pirates! c. 1993

Originators

  • One of the first in the nation to use Pay-per-Parking app
  • Home of golf legend Arnold Palmer – born & raised
  • Home of Mr. Fred Rogers – born, raised & died
  • Home of the Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College
  • In 1770s, the Unity Chapel was built (Presbyterian)
  • In 1780s, the first Catholic parish was formed
  • In the 1840s, The Benedictine Monks were established in Latrobe
  • In 1852, the Pennsylvania Car Works began building railroad cars
  • In 1900, first Jewish congregation, the Beth Israel was established
  • In 1904, pharmacist David Strickler created the banana split
  • In 1910, Latrobe Area Hospital began with the School of Nursing
  • In 1927, Latrobe Public Library started  (2,500 volumes – 500 books issued first day opened)
  • George Hamilton Adams (freight agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad) left in his will for a new building for the library
  • In 1954, the new library opened named Adams’ Memorial Library in his honor
  • In 1938, Kennametal, global leader of mining and construction tooling, and national leader of metalworking products was established

Even More

  • Latrobe Art Center offers classes for budding artists and exhibits local artists’ work
  • Built in 1903, the Latrobe Train Station (DiSalvo’s Station) functioned as a railroad station up to 1970
  • In the 1980s, the train station was restored and in 1986 was registered as a national historic landmark
  • The DiSalvo family purchased the train station in 1989 – added Italian restaurant
  • Amtrak service is available in the historic landmark train station (houses DiSalvo’s Station- fine Italian restaurant)
  • Westmoreland Scenic Railroad offers a train ride through the Laurel Highlands
  • Today Latrobe Area encompasses the city of Latrobe, Derry and Unity Townships, and the boroughs of Derry, New Alexandria and Youngstown
Christy-Andrea-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Pa-Colorguard-Captains-1993-1994

Christy Queer, Andrea Shafran & Me the Captains of Colorguard/Winterguard our senior year. 1993-1994

Greater Latrobe Schools

  • Students who take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) consistently score above state and national averages
  • Over 80% of graduates go on to post-secondary education (either 2 or 4 year college or trade school)
  • Computer instruction begins in kindergarten
  • All 3 elementary schools are lined into the district-wide network
  • All middle and high school students and faculty members have their own laptops computers lined to building-wide networks by wireless connections (NETSchools)
  • GLSD was the 1st school in Pennsylvania to implement a program of NETSchools initiative – all students have immediate access
  • In 1936, the Special Collection was started by 2 teachers to develop the students’ appreciation for the arts
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School has the Center for the Student Creativity – designed to integration the arts into education
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School houses the Special Collection of Greater Latrobe School District (about 200 works of original regional art)

 

As I was holding the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Kyle and I met up with my cousins Dr. John Olczak and his wife Sherry.  While we were catching up during lunch, John was reliving his undergrad days at Saint Vincent with Kyle.  He also mentioned that his dad, my Uncle Frank and my grandpap Chester, along with all the other brothers, Uncle Tex, Uncle Walter they used to caddy at the Latrobe Country Club.  Now that he said that, I kind of remember hearing about it,  However, what I didn’t know was my grandpap and his brothers were taught to golf by the same man who taught Arnold Palmer.  True story!

Arnold Palmer

  • His childhood home was close to the 6th hole at the Latrobe Country Club
  • His father was the club’s course superintendent & golf professional
  • At 11 years old started caddying
  • By 17 years old won his first 5 West Penn Amateur Championships
  • Attended Wake Forest University then joined the Coast Guard for 3 years
  • Married Winifred (Wini) Waltzer
  • In the fall of 1954 turned golf professional
  • Won 92 championships in professional competitions starting in the 1955 Canadian Open
  • During the 1960s, National Associated Press poll named him the “Athlete of the Decade”
  • Won the Masters Tournament 4 times
  • Won the British Open 2 times
  • Won the U.S. Open once
Marching-in-Latrobe-Parade-c.1991

Marching in the Latrobe Parade… the Colorguard wasn’t so lucky to wear T-shirts & shorts.  Sequins in heat is not pretty!  c. 1991

Mr. Fred Rogers

  • Born in Latrobe in 1928
  • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was inspired by the streets of Latrobe
  • In 1953, he joined the staff of WQED Pittsburgh (nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station)
  • In 1955, won the Sylvania Award for best locally-produced children’s program “The Children’s Corner” (featured music & puppets)
  • In 1963, ordained as a Presbyterian minister
  • In 1966, debut of “MisteRogers”, became national in 1968
  • Show was renamed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood so began the famous trolley and “Land of Make Believe” populated by Lady Elaine, Fairchilde, Kind Friday XIII and Henrietta Pussycat
  • Recipient of 2 George Foster Peabody Awards and “Lifetime Achievement” Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (nation’s highest civilian honor)
  • Died in February 2003

 

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

  • Charles B. Carroll, a Scottdale resident would use Saint Vincent Aviation field as a landing (meadow of clover on a hilltop at Saint Vincent College)
  • In 1919, 2 Army Pathfinders made an emergency landing
  • Carroll leased the pasture at the junction of Lincoln Highway and Manito Road (now US Rt. 30 & Rt. 981)
  • In 1924,  Longview Flying Field was open for business
  • Built hangers to house the military army surplus planes
  • The pilots were soon called “Longview Boys” or “Carroll’s Hooligans”
  • In 1926, Longview Flying Field held 4 aricraft – 4th highest in Pennsylvania
  • Longview Flying Field ranked 4th highest in number of flights and 3rd in number of passengers
  • Carroll renamed the field J.D. Hill Airport, 4 years after opening (in honor of his friend who was killed in 1927 during an attempt to cross the Atlantic to Italy
  • In 1935, christened Latrobe Airport after Carroll and Latrobe joined forces to expand runways
  • May 12, 1939, the Latrobe Airport (now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport) hosted the country’s first scheduled airmail pickup
  •  In 1950, the former farmland was formally purchased from the Kerr family by Latrobe Borough
  • Next few years the Tri-County Municipal Authority was formed
  • In 1958, Bruno Ferrari took over management, then became known as the Westmoreland-Latrobe Airport (officially a commercial facility)
  • 20 years later became known as Westmoreland County Airport
  • In 1999, renamed in celebration of Arnold Palmer
  • Today handles about 50,000 aircraft departures and landings each year
  • Runway can accommodate aircraft up to a 727
  • 125 planes are based there (half are for business use and half for recreational use)
  • Amenities include: free parking, flight training (Westmoreland Aviation), aircraft maintenance, car rental, charter service, restaurant (DeNunzio’s), travel agency and gift shop
  • US International Airways maintains a terminal
  • A study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport contributes to $51 million annually to the economics of the surrounding area
Latrobe-Football-Game-Marching-Band-Aunt-Heather-Piper

During a Latrobe football game.. I could never sit there that long without moving around…c. 1993

Football

  • In 1895, John Brallier was one of the earliest football players to openly turn pro
  • Brallier’s compensation was $10 plus expenses when agreed to play for the Latrobe YMCA against Jeannette Athletic Club
  • In 1897, Latrobe Athletic Association was the 1st to field a team made up entirely of paid professional players that played a full season
  • Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College since 1969 – 3rd longest continuously running site in the National Football League

Rolling Rock Beer

  • In 1939, Rolling Rock began brewing beer by the Latrobe Brewing Company in downtown Latrobe
  • 4.6% abv (alcohol by volume) pale lager
  • Mid 2006 sold to Anheuser-Bush (Moved to Newark, NJ)
  • 7 oz. bottle of beer that became known as a “pony”
  • Number 33 is printed prominently on all bottles of Rolling Rock
  • Many speculation about the number 33
    • The “33” refers to the founding year of the Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer
    • Latrobe test-brewed 33 batches of beer before coming up with the final formula for Rolling Rock (which I thought was a recipe from the Saint Vincent Monks)
    • There were exactly 33 stair steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewing floor in the original Latrobe brewery
    • The PA fish & game commission at the turn of the century numbered the streams within the commonwealth and the water that was used to brew this beer was taken from the stream numbered 33
    • Marked the repeal of prohibition in 1933
    • “33” signifies the 33 words in the beer’s original pledge of quality, which is still printed on every bottle
    • An executive wrote “33” at the end of the slogan, indicating the number of words, to be used as a guide for the bottle printers. Assuming it was part of the text and incorporated it into the label graphics
  • The current pledge is on the 12 oz. bottles, while the “little nip” pledge is from the 7 oz. bottle version

Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Current pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

A little nip from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. We tender this package as a premium beer for your delight and economical use. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Original pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Add Thrill of the Hunt to the Latrobe List

The road to success is always under construction. ~Arnold Palmer

Nick-Kyle-Legion-Keener-Latrobe-Pa-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nick & Kyle hanging with Brutus at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe Pa. 2013

Being a Latrobe native doesn’t just mean that I have a specific location I can point to on the map and declare, ‘I’m from here!’  Nope!  Stating this fact holds a lot more, the history, the traditions, those who have paved the way for others and also the pride of the people and surrounding areas.

Many can claim the same about their area, but we, Latrobeans are truly a special breed. I’m not saying my broad stroke, ideal perception is consistent across the board one hundred percent true for everyone, but from my observations and where my heart stands, it is.

Latrobe is one of those typical small towns. You know the kind, most everyone knows each other and in my case because I’m a Piper, somehow I’m related to everyone. Latrobe is also large enough to give a little elbow room when desired. Originally it was a borough and then made into a city. Latrobe was named after Benjamin Latrobe. It’s true, it’s not suppose to be pronounced with a long “a” sound. However, if you are from Latrobe, you use the incorrect pronunciation, that’s our badge of honor and proof that we are true Latrobeans.  Yes I know, we also have the typical Western Pennsylvania slang, and distinct accent criticized by all, but there is so much more.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-Banana-Split-Latrobe-Pa-2013-Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at the Banana Split Festival at our Thrill of the Hunt booth in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

What else makes Wildcat Country truly special? Well, lets start with the accomplishments surfacing from this area and the people. Even though it’s not official because it was never really proven, Latrobe is home to the first professional football game ever played. At least, that’s how I always understood it. Incidentally, Latrobe is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp, held at Saint Vincent College every year. Latrobe, mirroring our neighbor Pittsburgh has very much the same die hard type of personality. “Pittsburghers” are known world wide for their dedication to the city, especially the Steelers. I mean, we have Steelernation! Latrobe projects the same pride and love of the city, for both Pittsburgh and Latrobe.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-Banana-Split-Latrobe-Pa-2013 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & what I thought was a Guerrilla Girl (nope). Banana Split Festival in Latrobe Pa. at the Thrill of the Hunt booth. 8/24/13

Saint Vincent College, Latrobe’s very own, unbeknownst to many has a history that impacted many around the world for different reasons. Long before the college was the Steelers training home base, Saint Vincent Church was the first Benedictine monastery in the United States, founded by Boniface Wimmer, a monk from Bavaria Germany. The monks not only started the Catholic tradition and built a beautiful church that turned into the college, but they also held the recipe for Rolling Rock Beer, home grown form the fields of good old Latrobe Pennsylvania.

Growing up around the Rolling Rock Brewery, I never realized how famous the beer really was, until one trip changed all that. During one of my senior high band field trips, we went to New York City. A small town Latrobe girl in the big apple. Naturally, we did all the touristy things, but on our final day, we participated in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. On a side note, up until that point, that was the most I’ve ever walked in one trip, ever! My feet and legs were so sore from marching miles on the New York streets I thought I would collapse. Anyway, as we marched along, and the crowds took note of our banner, ‘Greater Latrobe Marching Band’, they began to yell. It wasn’t making fun, or ridiculing us in any way, it was praise and excitement! They were yelling, “Latrobe! #33 Rolling Rock!” I’m not talking a small group of drunken individuals. I’m talking pretty much the entire city of New York! We were famous! Living in my own corner of the world being oblivious to outsiders, I had no idea that anyone knew who we were! Let alone loved us! People, cheered for our group of Latrobe natives and truly loved recognizing us. It was great! It was at that moment, I didn’t take it for granted that I was a Latrobean, a Wildcat!

Kyle-Nick-Brutus-Legion-Keener-Latrobe-Pa-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nick & Kyle making a friend (Brutus) at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, Pa. 2013

Beer is not only our claim to fame and neither are our black and yellow footfall fans. Latrobe has birthed some inspiring people. One being Mr. Fred Rogers who graduated from Latrobe High School. Actually, my grandpap Chester went to school with him and I believe Mr. Rogers was the class president. Graduating from the freshly built Latrobe Senior High School, my mom and brother and sister all walked down the same halls and graduated from the same alma mater. Mr. Rogers lived not far from my parents house in Edgewater. Some may not know or remember the TV personality, but he had a show for children on PBS, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). One of his sweaters is actually on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. He had many more accomplishments, but he was made famous from his show and calming personality.

Ice-Cream-Joe-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ice-Cream Joe, Valley Dairy (My first job) in celebration of the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

A friend of Mr. Rogers, and matching or perhaps exceeding in popularity would be our very own golf professional, Arnold Palmer. Yep the inducted World Golf Hall of Fame Latrobean was born and breed in the area. He too doesn’t live far from my parents house, right down the road from the Greater Latrobe High School. Every once in a while, I would see him pulling out of his driveway and I heard he still flies his plane in and out of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe. Personally, I’ve never met the man, but I’ve known many who have and have commented on what a great guy he is. He was not only known in the golf world but to presidents too. I remember when Mr. Palmer’s wife, Winny (Winifred) passed away, former president George Herbert Walker Bush came to town to pay his respects.

More recently, Latrobe made their mark again with proving they are the home of the original banana split. Yes, invented by Latrobean David Strickler came the banana split. He didn’t just stop there, he also created the banana split boat to hold the ice-cream dessert.

This past weekend was the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe. Great time by all! I represented Thrill of the Hunt as part of the local vendors. We had a perfect sunny day and I loved running into old friends and meeting some new ones. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive about our start-up company. It was inspiring!

New-Playland-Legion-Keener-Latrobe-Pa-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The New Playland in Legion Keener Park, Latrobe Pa. 2013

Latrobe has produced greatness, yet remains humble and true to our roots. I love this city and what it stands for. Thrill of the Hunt is home grown in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and I hope my company will continue to bring the pride back to Latrobe like many before me.

There is a lot more to Latrobe and I just touched on a few. Everyone should take some time and visit this lovely area, nestled in at the base of the Laurel Highlands. And those who have since moved away, should stop back. It’s a great place to live and do business. I am proud to be a Latrobean through and through. Even Kyle has taken on the title of Latrobe native, well after all he was born and partially raised here. He considers himself a Wildcat and I agree, he is!

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Look…The Blue Angels!

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.  ~Mark Twain

Kyle-with-Blue-Angel-Pilot-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with a Blue Angel Pilot, LCDR Toddy Royles, USN 6/23/12

This past weekend was the Westmoreland County Airshow at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, in Latrobe.  Much like last year, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday, it was a beautiful day.  A little hot, nearly in the 90’s and very sunny, but it was the airshow, perfect weather to be watching the skies.  I took Kyle on Saturday, both of us really wanting to go this year because the Blue Angels were performing.  When I was younger they had the airshow every year, keep in mind it was always in September, usually over Ryan’s birthday, and the Blue Angels always made their appearance.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Blue Angels, but they were always something to watch.  As an adult, I’m still equally as impressed and mesmerized as I was as a kid.

Sometimes mom and dad took us into the airport for the airshow and sometimes we would just watch it from mom and dad’s front porch.  You see, their house sits up on the ridge with an amazing view overlooking Saint Vincent Church and College and the airport.  When the planes did their stunts they executed them right in front of us in the open sky overlooking the airport.  It was a sight to see!  Since the airshow was over Ryan’s birthday weekend, all my cousins were up at the house anyway for the party.  That gave us show to look forward to, too.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Kyle-at-2012-Latrobe-Airshow

Me & Kyle under our umbrella at the airshow 6/23/12

The 2012 airshow was very organized with respect to getting people into the airport, although I’m not commenting on their system for getting the crowds out all at once.  They changed the layout this year from last, which made it more open and easier to get from one end of the lot to the opposite. As Kyle and I walked around to check out the booths, he naturally eyed up those containing toys, the typical toy planes of various sizes.  Kyle asked if he could have a “souvenir”, one of his famous lines.  I have don’t have an issue with purchasing the kid a T-shirt, hat or something neat to use as a keep sake, but in my opinion Kyle is getting too old to keep purchasing these toys, which have his attention for the day before being lost to the bottom of his closet forever.  Every time we took him to the Air and Space Museums in Virginia and Washington, D.C. he would get another toy plane, never to be seen again.  Using this as my opportunity to prove a point, I said to Kyle, “You can get whatever you want.” as he looked at me in complete shock.  Then I continued, “It’s your money.”  He said, “What money?” and I followed up with, “Your money from your report card.”  Kyle looked over some items and then said, “No I’m good.  I don’t really want anything.”  I knew he had other plans for that money, but that was his choice.

2012-Latrobe-Airshow-Smiley-Face-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Smiley Face in the sky at the 2012 Latrobe Airshow

Continuing on our way, we saw the Navy had a simulator to ride.  Kyle really wanted to participate before the airshow began, so we stood in line.  It was an enclosed area with a screen and a simulated mission playing on the monitor.  The capsule was on hydraulics and bounced you around simultaneously with the visual being played, kind of like a Universal Studio ride.  Before we boarded, Kyle and I both commented that it was like the simulator they have at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., only that one flipped you upside down. The ride required one driver, which was me and one co-pilot to shoot missiles, which was Kyle.  Well, needless to say, I managed to keep us upside down the entire ride because I couldn’t get us turned right side up.  That was years ago and it must have made an impression on Kyle because the first think he said was, “Ya Aunt Heather this is just like that ride at the Air and Space Museum, except it doesn’t go upside down.”

Kyle-with-Blue-Angels-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle at the 2012 Latrobe Airshow in front of the Blue Angels plane

Before boarding our ride the airshow started with a plane making a smiley face in the sky.  That got every clapping and cheering.  Once we exited the simulator, which was very cool, Kyle decided he was hungry.  After making our way through the line to get his BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, courtesy of DeNunzio’s Restaurant, we made our way to sit and watch the show.

Eventually we found our way to the grassy area on the hill where we could see the entire runway.  Kyle and I sat under my golf umbrella to get some relief from the scorching sun.  In fact, we stayed under the umbrella the entire day, even while walking around.  It was cooler and neither one of us got a sunburn.  While resting under our little piece of shade, planes were flying around doing stunts and fly bys, taking off and landing.  They even had a car with a jet engine racing a plane.  The agenda was well planned out and executed very smoothly.

It’s really exciting and a rush to hear the roar of the engines and see of the aeronautics overhead.  Well, maybe it wasn’t enough for Kyle because I kept catching him playing on his Nintendo DS.  Yikes!  What?  He got a new game, and holding true to his fashion he was obsessed with beating it.  I didn’t mind him playing it between acts and I had him bring it in anticipation of the traffic, but during the show, heck NO!

Then at 3:00, came the much anticipated highlight of the day, The Blue Angels!  I was too excited to see  this, although Kyle didn’t seem to share in my enthusiasm.  I understand the super sonic sounds being projected from the engines made his ears hurt, but I could tell he would much rather sit there and play his video games than appreciate true skill and the hard work it takes to be a U.S. Navy Blue Angel.  To me that was kind of a shame.  I’m sure there are other kids who follow Kyle’s suit.

While watching and video taping the show, my phone stopped me from taking the remainder of the shots.  It was full!  What?  Bad timing!  Then I remembered Mr. Kyle Piper had his new 64GB ipod Touch with him.  I said, “Kyle quick, give me your ipod.”  That smart little bugger said, “Did you fill up your phone?”  What?  How did he know that?

After the show, Kyle and I managed to sneak in line and get an autograph of Blue Angel Pilot, #8 LCDR Todd Ryles, USN.  Later I found out that is a native to Pennsylvania and went to Penn State.  After he singed our brochure, I grabbed a picture with the pilot and Kyle.  I understand it was a long hot day and we had to head out to go Jimmy Singer’s graduation party at the Planinsek Pavilion, but could have been a little more thrilled.  If I know Kyle, we was probably looking forward to sitting in the car and playing that game!  Although, I’ll give him credit, he didn’t complain.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that a friend of mine has always wanted to see the Blue Angels.  To me this was silly, I’ve seen them many times. Then it dawned on me that I have taken advantage of this fact.  I tried to explain to Kyle that this was a privilege to see them and we had great seats in the grass, not missing a thing.  That little lecture didn’t seem to effect him.  Ahh, one day I hope he reflects back and appreciates this opportunity because they were AMAZING!

 

To see more videos on the Blue Angels go to Aunt Heather Piper Youtube Channel

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Influence and Association

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.  ~Napoleon Hill

Kyle-in-hospital-11-18-03 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle playing cars in Latrobe Area Hospital 11/18/03

Sometimes I forget how much our actions and unconscious decisions influence Kyle.  Not to mention he is a bit of a habitual person. Example.  It seems now Sunday nights have become our time to sit and read at my house. I mean no TV on, no distractions, just enjoyable reading time, squished in a chair in my living-room.  Another Example. Going for a walk doesn’t generally mean going down the hill.  It means traveling up the hill with the dogs for a walk through the woods. Another example. Me picking Kyle up during the week, means heading straight to swimming lessons, then to my house for dinner and work on homework before returning him.  I’m sure there are many more scenarios, but I couldn’t help but notice that this has always been Kyle’s way.

Did you know that up until about a year or so ago, when we would make a trip to Giant Eagle for groceries, Kyle instantly thought of the Eagle’s Nest and playing in the kids room? That was his hang out.  In fact, he would beg us to take him to Giant Eagle so he could play in the designated area, which was monitored and very safe so a parent didn’t have to worry while grocery shopping.  All the workers knew him by name, even when they’d run into us locally, completely unrelated.  Once my sister was home with Kyle, and she called me at work to say she doesn’t know what to do.  You see, she didn’t need anything else at Giant Eagle but she was told, by one Mr. Kyle Piper, to take a long time in the store.  Nicole’s solution, to call me at work since she was bored and didn’t want to rush Kyle.  We still laugh about that one to this day!  Giant Eagle did a great job with their Eagle’s Nest and their employees!  Kyle has since outgrown the age whereas he is not permitted in the Eagle’s Nest, but I do see him checking out the room every-now-and-again.

While I’m thinking about it, I’m going to step back in time when Kyle was just a little guy.  When he would play with his matchbox cars and Thomas the Tank train sets.  Kyle had this blue metal truck that was slightly larger than a matchbox car.  I don’t know where he got it, but he loved playing with that truck.  Actually, that truck would always make its appearance on the sidelines of Kyle’s play activity, usually while playing with Thomas the Tank.  He would specifically seek out the truck and have it sit there to watch all the other toys act out the imagination of Kyle.  You see, when dad become sick and couldn’t work for a short period of time, dad would pick Kyle up every Thursday and we’d keep him throughout the weekend till Sunday night.  Since I was in school during the day and mom was working, dad would spend all day Thursday and Friday with Kyle, who was still in his diapers.  Wow! I can’t believe he has gotten so big!  Anyway, one of their favorite pastimes was to go to Latrobe Airport and watch the planes take off and land.  I know Kyle would look for the helicopter, since again he was a fan of Thomas the Tank.  Harold the helicopter was a character on the show and Kyle just loved him.  Ironically, dad and Kyle sat in dad’s blue truck watching the activity while the day flew past.  What is really interesting about his weekly ritual, is the impact it had on Kyle.  Even years later Kyle looked favorably on that little metal blue truck.

By the time Kyle was around three or four years old I got him a Finding Nemo toy cell phone.  He always loved my phone so I thought he might like his own.  One time when I was driving and he was in the backseat, at the time in his car seat, he opened his Nemo phone and started talking.  I laughed so hard listening to him have an imaginary conversation with my sister.  He even said, “Ya I’m good, I’m with Ahia in her car.  When [are] you coming home?”  I couldn’t help but ask him, “Who are you talking to?” and then I heard him speak back into the phone, saying “Aunt Nitti, hold on” He moved the mouth piece of the phone out of the way to respond, “Aunt Nitti”.  Of course what was I thinking.  He even concluded the conversation by saying, “Ok talk to you later. Bye.”  You see at the time, my sister lived in Tucson, Arizona and similar to today, she called Kyle a lot to stay in touch.  Plus, I’m sure it made my sister feel closer to home through the conversations with Kyle.  I mean how she could she not?  Kyle always brightened up our days, even through a simple phone call.

Kyle-YMCA-drawing-Aunt-Heather-PiperAs Kyle got older, actually for his fifth birthday, being the practical one, I got him swimming lessons.  Taking him to swimming lessons once a week, every week throughout the year, even to present day.  Kyle was not a kid that drew a lot but when he did, sometimes he would draw me pictures of the swimming pool and him at one end and me watching at the other side, just like he sees it.  He always drew a blue square and placed a letter ‘K’ on one side, later it was his full name as he got older, and a letter ‘H’ on the other side of the blue square.  Over the years he’s made me dozens of those pictures, which I’ve kept, being my prize possessions.  I loved it!  I guess those swimming lessons and our time together really mean something to Kyle.  You know, I believe they still do to this day.

Even in the face of an emergency, Kyle still makes a clear association with specific places.  One summer about four or five years ago we were cutting down trees and clearing out brush from my backyard.  Of course Kyle was there, “assisting”.  The night before dad bought a new hatchet.  Keep in mind, for some reason Kyle was instantly infatuated with the brand new hatchet.  That morning, dad decided to teach Kyle about safety with the tool, using both hands on the handle so he doesn’t chop off a finger, not running with it, setting it down correctly etc.  I agree with dad, you can’t just expect kids to know how to do something as an adult, you have to teach them and ease them into experience while they are monitored.  Well, we just dropped an oak tree, which was covered in leaves and branches.  It was a beautiful tree that I would have kept, except it was too close to my house.  It was fun walking through the mighty oak as it laid on the ground like a maze inviting others to join in.  At that moment, Dad was sharpening his chain saw to prepare to chop it up in manageable sizes for firewood.  Kyle decided to adventure through the branches of the fallen tree with the hatchet.  Now on Kyle’s defense he was not doing anything he wasn’t allowed to do.  He decided he wanted to help his pappy out by chopping at a branch.  But what no one ever anticipated was the variable of Kyle’s sweaty hands.  You see it was in the middle of August in the middle of the day. HOT!  As Kyle chopped, the hatchet flew out of his sweaty little palms and it landed in his shin.  Yep, Kyle gave himself a nice big gash.  Not life threatening, but scary no doubt.  As dad and I drove him to the emergency room for stitches he began to worry that he was going to have to spend the night.  What?  You see for the first few years of Kyle’s life, he was in and out of the hospital with ear infections, pneumonia, tonsillitis and the list goes on.  So in his mind the hospital trip meant not just a visit, but a stay.  That broke my heart!  I think he only got about five stitches.  After the stitches were in place Dad shook Kyle’s hand and said, “Welcome to the club.”  At that moment Kyle smiled and was kind of proud, later bragging about his stitches.  Dad and I are both in that club and Kyle knew it.

Kyle continues to surprise me with this association to specific actions or activities.  About a month ago, Kyle was not feeling well, in fact he was up all night, I could tell he was achy.  I thought since he was perking up a bit, it was a good time to take an easy walk up through the woods, getting him out of the house, stretching his legs and taking in some fresh air.  Well about halfway through the trip, Kyle was clearly not well.  In fact, he said he felt like he was ready to vomit.  I could tell he was weak and dehydrated, since he was not sweating in the slightest, very unusual for Kyle.  I got him home and started to push water in him, to remove any dehydration issues and to alleviate his headache.  Would you believe that the very next weekend when we began on our weekly voyage through the woods, Kyle brought up that trek?  He said, “Aunt Heather, I don’t think that was a good idea to go hiking last time since I was still feeling sick.  I thought I was better, but I wasn’t.”  I still feel horrible for misjudging his state of health, and I would have to agree with his assessment of the previous adventure.  In fact, Kyle still brings that day up to me, not holding it against me, but just remembering it and making it known.

My little man, I pray that I never do or say anything that Kyle associates with me in a truly negative manner.  I hope he always thinks of me with happiness and love, even if I do royally screw up, which is inevitable.  But everything I do, I try to do with Kyle’s best interest in mind and out of love and respect for him.

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Flying back to Kyle’s ninth birthday

Nine-year-old reaches for the sky with first flying lesson- Latrobe Bulletin

Kyle Piper and his pappy Piper

Kyle in flight jacket (courtesy of Nicole). Kyle and his pap pap are both stinkers.

Before the days get past me, I wanted to tell about our trip to the Airshow last weekend. Kyle and I went to the Westmoreland County airshow at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, PA.  This was the first airshow they’ve had in 10 years.  It’s amazing how things have changed in a decade.  If I could take Kyle back in time, 10 years to the day of August 20, 2001, he would see what I was talking about.  I guess there’s two ways of looking at reminiscing: Personally and globally. Either way, on a personal note, my brother was still alive with a new little baby boy who wasn’t even a month old, and globally, 911 never happened yet.  To me, the earlier tragedy was as impactful on me and my family if not more than the later tragedy.

Kyle Piper at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport - Latrobe, PA

As Kyle and I walked around, he would comment, “Aunt Heather I’ve never been to an airshow before.” and, “Remember when I flew an airplane?”  Kyle is something else!  Only he could take me out of my funk and put me in a different place. And yes, Kyle did fly an airplane, a small Piper four seater for his ninth birthday. As I’ve always mentioned, I don’t believe in giving him toys and such for his birthday and special occasions, so he gets unconventional gifts. For his ninth birthday I bought him a one hour flying lesson with an instructor. I was allowed to tag along in the backseat, along with my photographer.  She was getting action shots.  It was a blast, doing positive and negative G-forces! Kyle even waved the wing and looped around St. Vincent College. That was a moment I was told he would never forget. And you know what? So far, it hasn’t slipped his memory.

kyle piper in mid flight in the air

Kyle took his job at flying the airplane very seriously!

As we walked around, I realized that I had forgotten my sunscreen.  Yikes!  My skin is very pale and burns easily.  I kinda nudged him and I asked, “How long do you want to stay?”  His response, “The entire time!”  Well that just said what I would be paying for later on.  I tried to get in the shade as much as possible.  I found us a perfect shady spot under the wing of a huge airplane parked on the ground.  Kyle was content being there, that is until the jets came out to do a dog fighting demonstration.  He proceeded to move toward the fence so he was as close to the runway as he could possibly be.  I held my position until too many people blocked my view of Kyle.  I headed to stand beside him and share his excitement of the planes doing flybys and tricks.  It really was exciting and fun to watch.  They even had a school bus, redesigned of course, which held a jet engine in the rear.  The bus drove up and down the runway with the flames projecting from the rear.  It was an experience, feeling the heat from the flames and hearing the sound of the engine it revved up as it projected itself across the runway at 500 and some miles an hour. Amazing!!! Kyle loved it!

kyle piper make the Latrobe Bulletin

Yep, Kyle made the front page of the Latrobe Bulletin. He was interviewed after his flight.

Now what really amazed me was my dad. He couldn’t get over me being so burned.  That cracks me up! Has he not known me for my entire existence?  This isn’t a new concept of me being burnt. In fact, my sister and mom are the same way.  My brother would initially burn, but it would turn to a tan.  Ryan also had a job in the summer where he mowed lawns, so he was always outside in the sun.  Then there’s my dad, with his dark leather skin, who probably never had the experience of burning, ever!  Of course he worked outside in the woods his entire life.  He started making posts when he was nine and was a woodsman, chopping down trees the better part of his life.  No wonder he had a personal understanding with the sun.

Kyle Pipers surprise birthday gift

Kyle was smiling from ear to ear. He loved his surprise birthday gift.

Yep, we did have a lot of fun at the airshow! It was even worth the sunburn to my face, neck, arms, and lower legs, not to mention the week of peeling I experienced following the airshow. Kyle was a little pink, but his skin is more used to the sun than mine or he’s more like my brother and dad and can take it better. Even so, I loved how Kyle would talk about his flight while we walked around. It was nice to see Kyle remembering being at the airport, going down the runway, and flying over Latrobe. Yep, I think that was a gift well worth it!

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport- Airshow 2011

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport- Airshow 2011

See Kyle’s story:

 

 

24-7 Press Release on Kyle Piper - Aunt Heather Piper     Press Release on Kyle Piper Aunt Heather Piper

Press Release Point on Kyle Piper - Aunt Heather Piper

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments
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