Perfect Gift – The Ugly Quilt!

Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.  ~Lenore Hershey

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The Ugly Quilt, made from Nicole’s old quilt & my old childhood quilts originally made in 1976. Perfect Christmas idea! 12-24-13

Like many others, we go through the same list of questions every year for Christmas, ‘What do we want to get Nicole?” and “What should we get dad?”  Naturally, if we had unlimited resources, it wouldn’t be so difficult but let’s come back to reality, most people have budgets, at least I do.  Every year, generally speaking, some great idea takes shape to give the perfect gift.  Me, mom and Kyle were blessed with two great ideas.

Giving is great, I truly mean that!  However, I don’t like to give because I have to, or it’s the thing to do.  Nope, if I’m giving someone something, it’s because I mean it and I’m excited to surprise them with usually an unconventional gift.  That’s my favorite, the perfect gifts or practical ones.  I am very much a practical and simple type of gal.  Yes, I love receiving socks (the Under Armor running socks or good wool hiking socks etc) and blenders and books and running shoes and so on and so forth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love frivolous too!  Such as jewelery or collectables, but I’m also equally happy with practical presents.

Last year, we got mom framed pictures.  Not just any pictures, but an old photo of all the cousins (close ones) and a recent shot of the same picture taken at the same location as the original, Twin Lakes Family In A Photo – Looking Back showing us all grown up.  Boy was she surprised!   Perfect!

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Close up of Nicole’s quilt courtesy of Quilts by Reese. Perfect Christmas gift! Nicole never suspected it! 12/24/13

Who got the perfect gift this year?  There was a tie.  Dad and Nicole owned it!

First, lets start with Nicole.  What to get a gal who gets herself basically what she wants, when she wants it?  That was easy, something she wants and forgot she had.  This past summer while cleaning out mom and dad’s house, we came across Nicole’s old quilt.  Nicole and I both had matching quilts of different color schemes, given to us for Christmas in 1976.  They were nice twin sized quilts that kept us warm and cozy throughout our childhood and even into our twenties.  Nicole however, LOVED her quilt and drug, literally drug it around with her EVERYWHERE!  As a kid, she would drag it to the living-room to watch TV, through the kitchen, out on the porch and into the yard.  She would eat with it, sleep with it, and I bet she even drug it into the shower a time or two.  That quilt was like her giant “blanky”.  She even took it to college with her!  That is until it really fell apart.  I mean about half of it was MIA.  Over the years pieces of it would rip off, but she kept dragging it along.

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Front & back of the Ugly quilt… combination of mine & Nicole’s old quilts from 1976. Nicole loved her quilt & now she kind of has it back! Perfect Christmas gift. Thanks Quilts by Reese! 12/24/13

What to do?  Call upon my friend Holly who makes quilts on the side Quilts by Reese to aide me in this perfect Christmas gift idea of course.  No, her thing is not to revitalize old torn up and extremely used quilts, but she agreed to help me out as a favor for a long time running friend.

Where to begin?  No clue, I delivered the pile of scrap fabric, which is what it basically was once it was washed one last time.  Holly took it from there.  Since finding fabric to match, texture and color wise, proved to be problematic, I gave Holly my old quilt, which was almost in perfect condition (you could tell I didn’t have such an affinity for my quilt like Nicole did hers) to tear up and use as needed.

Eventually, about a third of the quilt was Nicole’s original and the rest was mine.  It worked out perfectly since both quilts had the exact same fabric and patterns, just different color schemes.  The backing needed to be completely replaced as well as the trim, but it turned out nicely!  Better than expected actually!  Holly did an amazing job on such a difficult mission!  And she had it done well before Christmas!

With everything I do, it’s always an adventure.  As the quilt was being torn apart and assembled again, Holly would give me updates on the “ugly” quilt.  From what I gathered, it was a bit of a bugger with the thick seams and old seventy’s stretchy fabric.  Personally, I loved the name, ugly quilt and so it stuck!  Holly hated the quilt, that is until the end.  She said, “It’s so ugly it’s starting to look cute and wear on me.”  Yep that’s what happens when you put your heart and soul into something.  The fondness grows.  Now granted, Holly wasn’t so attached to it that she couldn’t give it back, but I could tell she sewed herself into the Piper quilt.

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Combination of my old quilt & Nicole’s originally made in 1976. Perfect Christmas gift – Quilts by Reese 12-24-13

On a side note, one text message I received from Holly include a very close-up shot of the quilt fabric.  The text message asked me if Nicole had a bird?  Why yes she did!  How did Holly know?  Apparently, there was bird seed embedded in some of the fabric.  Only my sister!  That sounds about right.  Not to mentioned all the food stains all over her fabric.

It’s funny when I look at the quilt, I don’t see an ugly old seventy’s patchwork quilt.  Nope, I see our childhood!  And I know Nicole feels the same way.

Now the most important questions.  Was Nicole surprised?  And did she like the quilt?  Yes and yes.  She had no idea, none, not an ounce with respect to her Christmas gift.  Of course, it’s easy to keep things a secret from her when she lives two hundred miles away.  Kyle couldn’t wait to give her the blanket, although I could tell he didn’t see the importance and feel the true excitement like me, mom and dad, (well maybe me and mom) but it was still fun.

Quilts by Reese Facebook Post Ugly Quilt Aunt Heather PiperHolly wanted to see tears in Nicole’s eyes and urine on the floor from the surprise and happiness.  Well, neither happened and I’m personally more grateful for the later not occurring, but Nicole was presently surprised.  (Avery peed on the floor and that counts!)  I would love to show a picture of the original quilt, however I couldn’t find any pictures.  Actually, that’s not entirely true, I did find one, but since then I misplaced it.  I’ll look for the darn thing.

Now dad’s perfect gift.  Mom came up with the idea and me, Nicole and Kyle were totally on board.  Great idea!  So what was this perfect gift?  Easy it was …to be continued.

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

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You!

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.  ~Eric Hoffer

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Kyle hanging with his Aunt Nikki after another successful Christmas. 12/2003

Kyle is notorious for asking for stuff.  I’m not talking about cloths or necessity items, but the complete opposite.  He doesn’t just want Legos, he wants all the Legos ever made.  He doesn’t just want Pokemon cards, he has to have nearly five thousand cards.  And now his newest kick, he doesn’t just want Dungeons and Dragons.  He wants every board game, every piece, every item ever made associated to Dungeons and Dragons.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he likes building Legos and playing board games and cards, and I am very happy he has interests.  But sometimes too much is too much!

However, that’s not the subject at hand.  O no!  Kyle is also notorious for hitting my family up for all sorts of stuff to feed his interests, especially my sister.  Granted, Kyle does exceptionally well in school and Nicole hooks the kid up for his “A”s, and she picks up the tab for shortages when he’s worked off money doing chores around the house.  Unlike myself, Aunt Nikki buckles to his pleas and is always mailing packages Kyle’s way.  Great!  That’s their thing and I couldn’t be happier and supportive.

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Aunt Nikki giving Kyle a good push to get started! What a team! 7/2004

So one would think, one would like to stay in the good graces of gift giving Aunt Nikki and keep buttering her up.  Nope not this time.  This time Kyle screwed up, BIG time!  This past Monday and Tuesday, Kyle had off school for some in service days, which I think is insane, do the meet and greet in the evenings so the kids don’t have to go to school all the way into the middle of June, but I guess that’s for another blog post.  Anyway, Monday, Kyle was helping me in my yard and Tuesday Kyle’s friend Duncan came over to hang.  Great!  Kyle did work REALLY hard all weekend, and I’m certainly glad he had an enjoyable day playing with his friend of like interests.  No big deal.

Well, it wasn’t a big deal, not until Nicole reached out to Kyle to touch base with our little man.  You see, we miss him when he is not directly beside us, and when there’s an opportunity to communicate with our little package, especially on an off time, we seize the chance.  Apparently, Kyle thinks he has immunity from our wrath, and respect is optional while communicating via phone.  Wrong!

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Kyle playing with his new basketball & hoop, courtesy of Aunt Nikki for his 3rd Birthday. 7/2003

What happened?  Nicole called Kyle to see what he was up to, and I guess Kyle didn’t want to talk to his Aunt Nikki because his friend was there.  So how did he handle it?  He hung up on her!  What?  Yes!  When Nicole called me to tell me the story, maybe unbeknownst to Kyle but we do talk and communicate among ourselves like families are suppose to, I was livid!  Furious!  Once Nicole got the words ‘He hung up on me’ out of her mouth I was ready to head over there and grab him by the scruff of his neck!  Lucky for Kyle, good old Aunt Nikki handled the situation before I could intervene.

Nicole said, she was mad and texted him to call her right back.  She said within a matter of 1.1 seconds after the text message was sent, Kyle rang up his trusty money supplier to apologize.  Nicole explained that she was aware he was busy with his friend, but what he should have said was ‘Aunt Nikki, my friend is here and we are busy.  Can I call you back?’  Kyle must have caught her drift and realized the severity of the situation and repeated that sentence back and said he was sorry.  Nicole asked him, “Kyle, are you really sorry?  Because I don’t think you are.”  Again, Kyle apologized and said he was truly sorry.  You know what?  I bet he was scared S%$#less.  Aunt Nikki usually doesn’t make a fuss over some things and rarely gets mad at our little package.  She put him in his place.

The entire time she was rehashing the story, I was fuming!  Nicole felt she handled it, and I believe she did.  She also feels it will never happen again.  Let’s hope not, because if that very situation happened with me, I would have headed straight for Kyle and spoke to him face-to-face.  Not to mention I would have totally embarrassed him in front of his friend and made an example out of him so all his friends knew all about respect demanding Aunt Heather.

Naturally, I told my parents.  Dad was not too happy, to say the least.  But it was handled, however this will not be forgotten, in case it comes up again.

What cracks me up, Kyle knows there’s a package in route to his house as we speak, from his Aunt Nikki for some lame reason.  You know, something like he helped my mom with dishes or he was thinking about dusting the living-room.  Again, those deals are between Kyle and his Aunt Nikki.  I stay out of them totally.  If I was Nicole, I would cancel that order if possible, or I would refuse to let him open it up.  That would bring pure torture to the kid, and really make him pay for his poor choice of inappropriate behavior.  He wouldn’t be able to stand seeing something he wants, sitting there, in a box, and not allowed to open it and play with it.  Pure torture!

Come on Kyle, you are a smart kid!  Think first!  Don’t blow a good thing you have going for you.  For what?  For showing off in front of your friend, or worse, just because you felt like it?  Not cool buddy!  Not only does it benefit you, but your Aunt Nikki truly enjoys sending packages your way, to continuously be apart of your life from a distance.  She loves making you happy!  I hope you learned your lesson and will think first and use your manners.  I would hate to hear you ever spoke to anyone else like that.  That’s not how Piper’s operate.  I know you’re a pre-teen, but if you keep this up you wont hit your teenage years.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Together Alone – Movie Night

The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.  ~Albert Camus

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Kyle is in that ‘I play with Legos & I love my Pikachu helmet’ yet he is seeking freedom & his own choices. Lynch Field Greensburg, Pa 2012

On Friday, Kyle decided he wanted to go to the movies.  He said, “It’s a perfect day for the movies, isn’t it Aunt Heather?”  It wasn’t that hot, but it was muggy and humid, raining off and on all day long.  It was one of those days, a perfect time to spend sitting in a dry, dark, air-conditioned movie theater, at least that’s what I was told.  Yes buddy, you’ve got the ticket!

Movie of choice?  Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, since Kyle was a fan of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, he wanted to see the next series in the novel set.  Kyle made his choice with such conviction and without thought, I immediately knew he was planning on making that suggestion all day.  Well, I was wrong!  According to Aunt Nikki, Kyle was talking about that movie when he saw the trailer during ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun.’  I should have known.

OK, I’ll bite.  I asked Kyle to look up the movie times, as well as what other movies were playing, just so I could make the best choice.  His answer?  “Umm that’s really about it.”  Doubt it, but I’ll play along because I too wanted to see the movie.

After eating dinner with my parents we got ready to embark on a new adventure that includes Greek gods and popcorn.  Once we got there, I changed my mind.  Seeing the list of movies playing, I remembered what I wanted to see with Kyle, Wolverine!  After making my argument, with all the enthusiasm I could muster, I was denied.  Kyle wouldn’t even hear of it, even thought he really wanted to see Wolverine too.  Kyle had it in his head we were going to see Percy Jackson: Sea Monsters and that was that!  Gotta respect someone who can make a solid decision in the face of choices and stick to his guns.

How did I get into this position in the first place? I wasn’t planning on going to the movies, but what the heck, I missed Kyle and spending any time with him is a good time.  So into the movie theater we marched.

X-Men-Origins-Wolverine-Aunt Heather PiperAs we made our way to our seats, we began a reoccurring argument, ‘Where are we going to sit?’  I prefer sitting more up high towards the back and Kyle insists on sitting low and close.  The same crossroads we have come to since I can remember.  Usually I put my foot down and make Kyle’s choice for him and that’s that.  Usually.

This time was no exception, with an exception.  Typical Kyle kept giving me a thousand questions on why we couldn’t move closer.  “Just two rows closer Aunt Heather!”  I wouldn’t budge, even though I could have enjoyed the movie equally as much, but I was being stubborn.  Kyle wouldn’t let it go and kept whining.  So I thought I’d fix his wagon by saying, “Go!  You want to sit down there, then move your seat and sit by yourself.”  To be honest, I was calling his bluff.  Kyle doesn’t like doing anything alone, especially sitting by himself in the dark.

So you can imagine my surprise when he said with confidence and complete politeness, “Ok Aunt Heather, I’ll be right there.”  As he pointed two rows right in front of me.   What?  Really?  Na!  I thought he was calling MY bluff.  Then, he said to entice me with a little dash of attitude, “But I’m taking the popcorn!”  And I countered his comment with “Well, then I’m staying here and I’m keeping the water.”

And there you have it.  Two of the most stubborn people who greatly enjoy each others company, hanging out alone, with each other.  I must admit I watched him, just to make sure he was alright and to see if he would look back.  Never did!  And no one happen to sit beside him.  It actually broke my heart to see him by himself, but he made the decision and now he has live with it, or choose to change it.

Lightning-Thief-percy-jackson-and-the-olympians-Aunt Heather PiperAt first I was kind of mad, to be honest, I was furious because I like watching previews with Kyle and then we plan our next movie run.  Not this time.  Then, as I watched his crew cut head jet out over the top of the seat, sitting there all by himself, with his full bag of popcorn, I felt kind of bad.  But Kyle is getting older and he has every right to make decisions for himself.  Let him experience the unknown, gain his freedom and decision making, particularly when he’s within arms reach of me and supervised.

I too was following Kyle’s lead.  I made a decision and I was sticking to it.  As the old saying goes, if you truly love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours.  If not, then it was never meant to be.  Something along those lines.  Not that, that exactly fits this scenario, but it did run through my head.

Keeping one eye on the movie and one eye on Kyle, especially when intense parts of the movie projected in our faces.  Kyle gets so tense and stressed with high action, high anticipation scenes.  I kept my eyes peeled on the little package, just to make sure he didn’t need me.  He never did!  At least, I didn’t see any physical signs of distress.  Seriously, I thought as the movie started, Kyle would just come back, nope!  Total stubbornness.  Then I thought, he would want some water so he would come back, or at the very least get the bottle of water.  Nope!  Total stubbornness.  To be honest, I wished any scenario would have panned out, but the night was not completely written by me.  So I waited with patience.

As the movie moved forward my anger turned into longing and then appreciation.  It’s funny how God works, He showed me to subside my anger at Kyle for seeking a little bit of freedom and wanting to call his own shots.  I really missed Kyle, even though he was only two rows ahead of me, within eye and ear shot.  My heart was saddened.

Percy-Jackson-Sea-of-Monsters-Aunt Heather Piper.jpgDuring the movie, I noticed I caught myself leaning where Kyle was initially sitting to whisper to him and share in the movie, but alas, he was two rows too far away.  My heart melted a little bit more.

Just as the movie ended, Kyle jumped up and ran back to his old seat!  I couldn’t have been happier!  I forgot how mad I was that I brought him to the movies with me, and I ended up watching it alone.  Not that I care to sit by myself in the movies, because I don’t, only if I came by myself and not with someone.  I forgot how mad I was when he was arguing with me and giving me his dissertation on the perspective of the screen because of the added two rows.  I forgot he took the entire bag of popcorn!  Nope, everything was good again.  Kyle was sitting right beside me sporting a big smile on his face and having a look in his eyes like he missed me too.  He even saved almost all of his popcorn!  Kyle didn’t even eat his buttery snack that he has to insist on getting every single time.  On the flip side, I didn’t drink the water either because I figured he’d want it.

On a side note, no one is ever allowed to eat the popcorn until the movie starts.  Yes it’s one of those irritating practices Kyle is compulsive about.  Not me, if the popcorn can be reached by my fingers, I’ll eat it, movie or no movie.  Not Kyle, he is very particular about his popcorn eating habits and we are instructed to follow suit.

While the credits rolled we just sat there in the dark and made up for lost time.  He both talked about the movie and ate the popcorn and drank the water.  We were the Aunt Heather and Kyle team again!

That might have been the worst, yet best movie experience ever!  Experiences are never regrettable, especially if you learn something, but I hope we don’t repeat it.  Although I’m not putting money on it.

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