Planting the Trees of Memories

Aragorn: Gimli, lower your axe.
Legolas: They have feelings, my friend. The elves began it, waking up the trees, teaching them to speak.
Gimli: Talking trees. What do trees have to talk about, hmm… except the consistency of squirrel droppings?  ~Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

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Kyle going through is basket, Easter morning…. Scooby helping. Keeping tradition with the books & kite! 4/20/14

Being sick now for weeks, I am finally on the road to recovery, even though these rainy windy days like today, make it hard to get out of bed, sick or not.  Recently, I was thinking back to what had happened over the last several weeks, while I was under the weather.  Actually, a lot went on.  Over the next few days, I will start to document the stories.

Sunday, April 20th was Easter!  A day I slept most of the daylight hours.  I did get to play Kyle at Quarto, a strategy game I purchased for him for Easter from a store in the Mall of America in Minnesota.  Naturally, Kyle won the first game.  I truly thought I had this game in the bag, but alas I was proven wrong again by a twelve year old.

On Saturday, however, it was a beautiful sunny day and I was feeling well enough to help dad in the yard.

The event of planting trees actually started way back in December over Christmas.  We purchased Chestnut trees for dad and had them mailed this spring.  Perfect Gift –  Chestnut Trees  Guess what?  They came in!  Boy was dad elated! He was looking forward to this day since he heard about his perfect gift.

What really makes these trees significant to plant around Easter, is that the orchard was always a big part of our Easter celebration.  Every year since Kyle was a wee one, we would fill multi-colored plastic eggs with money and candy and hide them around the orchard.  Yes mom and I would go out in the middle of the night after Kyle went to bed, usually late, and hide the eggs with the help of flashlights.  Then, it never failed, Kyle would wake up at 3:00 am, sometimes 4:00 am and want to go out and hunt Easter eggs left by the Easter bunny.  Even though the rest of the family remained in bed, I always got up with him, wrapped a blanket around me, slipped on my rubber boots, grabbed the flashlight and trotted out to the backyard.

Kyle always had a blast!  It was nice seeing the kid so excited in the morning, even though it was usually so dark it was hard to see him at all.  My job, was to count the findings to make sure no egg was left behind.  Although, it never failed, while mowing in the spring we would always find an egg or two.  I guess I didn’t do such a great job at counting.

This year that tradition didn’t take place, since Kyle is nearly thirteen, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t go outside and sit among our trees and freshly planted crops.

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Seven in front, Scooby behind him, Avery to the right, Gigi, & Aunt Nikki enjoying the shade while planting fruit trees. 4/19/14

That orchard holds a lot of memories, memories when Ryan was still with us.  Ryan helped to plant some of the original trees and he always mowed and weeded the area.  It was nice to have Kyle a part of that tradition and have his roots grow among the memories and stories of dad’s orchard.

When I say the family participated, I mean the entire family.  Nicole and Avery were home; the boys, Seven and Scooby; Storm and naturally the rest of us.  We all joined forces to plant the trees.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a pretty day, especially before Easter.

We dug up a couple of trees that had died over the years.  Dad was hoping each year would bring renewed life back into the brittle dead branches, but no such luck.  We pulled those out, believe it or not with the help of the pick-up truck.  Digging up the dirt around the roots to loosen the deceased cherry tree, dad wrapped a chain around the trunk and attached it to the truck, then gave it the gas.  With the help of Kyle and me loosening the dirt and pushing on the tree, the roots surfaced and we drug it to the burn pile, leaving a new hole for another life to flourish.

The day consisted of planting new trees, including finding a home for dad’s elephant ear tree and another chestnut tree.  There are about twenty fruit trees in dad’s orchard, ranging from paw paw to plum and peach and naturally apple.  He’s very proud of those trees and his blueberry bushes.

The weekend before Easter, I was in Minnesota for my good friend Davey’s wedding.  Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Seminary  That’s when Kyle helped dad plant the original two Chestnut trees purchased over Christmas.  They also planted a couple of mulberry bushes and a mystery tree that lost its tag.

During the day of playing in the dirt and hauling saplings back and forth, Dad kept saying to Kyle and the inadvertently the rest of us, “When I kick off, now you can go out and have a piece of fruit and think of me.  You’ll always have food with these trees.”

He’s right, it is nice having fruit trees in the back yard.  I enjoy them too, not only for the fruit but also for shade and the beauty of the trees, but more importantly for the memories of planting the trees with the family and watching them grow.  Perhaps that is the most valuable part of dad’s orchard.

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Kyle using the digging iron to open the hole where we pulled a dead fruit tree, to only replace it with another. Dad was supervising. 4/19/14

On a side note, during the day the neighbor boy Philip was out walking his dog Thor.  They stopped over to say hi and visit.  Avery was excited to see another dog, as was Seven.  Scooby on the other hand, had to be placed in dad’s truck for the duration of the visit, he’s not very nice.  We call him the enforcer or the grumpy old man.  While in the front seat of the truck, which he usually rides shotgun, no one would have thought Scooby, would do what he did.  He jumped out the window!  Yes!  He pulled an underdog and flew out the open window and charged Thor.  Dad broke up the little altercation without incident.

Personally, I stood in shock.  Our nonathletic, clunky and slow moving dog jumped out of a truck window, down on the side of a hill and was able to speed past us like the breeze.  Truly amazing!  I guess he meant business when he barked, ‘No one on our property’.

It was a great Easter weekend.  I continued the tradition mom started when we were kids by giving Kyle books in his Easter basket.  This year it was the rest of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky.  Kyle started to read them and seemed to be enjoying the books, so I fueled his journey.  I love his love for reading!  Every chance I get, I reward him in books, and he’s excited about it!  Mom continued the tradition of receiving a kite, or two in Kyle’s case.

Can’t wait to enjoy the shade of our newly planted trees and pick the fruit they produce!  I was also told by Mr. Kyle that I would enjoy reading the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series and he wants me to read them too.  I guess I have a new series to start!

Happy Belated Easter!

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

I Need To Build My House! – Video Games

This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’  ~Jack White

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Kyle with his cousins, Olivia & Grant at Twin Lakes for a picture day. Kids should get back to nature & hang out with each other more often  8/2012

I know I’ve talked about video games, Gamers Start Small & Grow & Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man, and the issues and arguments that seem to accompany them, No Video Games? Running?  Why Do I Have To?.  So it should be no surprise to me that Kyle’s video games are not falling by the wayside, in fact they are advancing at a rapid rate!

Again, I’d like to reiterate, I have no qualms with video games, I do like to play a game or two, but I do have a problem with video games consuming your entire life.  If I’d let Kyle, he would play his Minecraft or whatever game he’s on, ALL day.  No joke!  Not taking a break, not getting tired, not thinking about anything else, not even getting distracted.  Maybe I should be giving him kudos for his dedication to this discipline.

However, I can’t get past the detox I have to go through every time I ask Kyle to wrap it up to do something else, or when he has to stop because he exceeded his video playing limit.  (Yes for the record I do try and monitor and reasonably limit how much time he plays video games on his computer – the only thing he uses it for.  No schoolwork!)

Yes the detox.  Telling Kyle he has “five minutes left” or “wrap it up buddy, your done for the day” or “take an hour break” is almost devastating to his ears.  He’ll give me a look, like I’m talking Chinese, as if he doesn’t comprehend what I said to him.  Or even better, he instantly starts to whine and grumble like a tiny child.  But the absolute best, the one action that really gets my goat, is when he doesn’t even lift his eyes to look at me when I’m talking to him, and he continues playing as if I’m not even in the room, then to appease me with an “Ok”.  I know he may think my instructions are negotiable, but I have news for him.  Nope!  That laptop is closed, permanently.

Sometimes it feels like I’m peeling that electronic device from his fingers.  I imagine this is what it would be like to pull drugs from a user.  He really does get addicted to these games, like many other kids his age.

Kyle-with-is-pap-and-rifle-Aunt-Heather-Piper-7-2011

Kyle sitting with his pappy sporting a rifle at my cousins, Connie & Skip’s house. Uncle Ray (RIP) is in the background. 7/2011

Fortunately, Kyle knows when I mean business, I mean it and there’s no messing around.  Granted, I do give him his time to play and allow him the chance to save whatever he’s on before shutting down his operation, but the minute the attitude comes and the arguments surface, I loose it. Especially when I hear, “Why do I have to?” and “Why can’t I play a little longer.” and my favorite, “Why do I have to take a break?”; that’s when the computer is completely taken away, to not make its appearance until the following day.

This week while walking with a friend of mine, Holsters, the very same topic came up.  Her nephew has the same demeanor, and he’s two or three years younger than Kyle.  She’s beside herself.  Plus she doesn’t have the same authority I do, to enforce what’s right.  These kids just want to be slugs and sit around with their head in fantasy land, not facing reality.  Young people are not going to be able to cope with real life if they don’t start taking baby steps toward it now. (I’m not even going to get into the diet that accompanies the hour long stents of video game madness.)  No wonder they are whiny and miserable and tired all the time.

Seriously, I wish more parents would stop using video games as a babysitter and get involved with their kids.  And I’m not talking about joining them on the controls, although in moderation, that could be a good bonding experience.  I’m talking about building a cabin or a chicken shed, or dig up the earth looking for dinosaurs.  I know I’m going to extremes and being silly, kinda, but there is so much to do!  Do it.  And get creative, it will entertain all parties.

Kyle-reading-Hunger-Games-at-IHOP-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

At least reading is another one of Kyle’s addictions, besides the video games. He does love to read, even at the IHOP – Hunger Games! c. 2012

Video games are a bit of an enigma with me.  Last weekend Kyle made a comment that he had a lot to do.  “Really what do you have planned for today?”  Silly me, he had to finish building his house in Minecraft.  What?  I said, “Kyle building an imaginary house in a video game is not considered work, nor should it ever be a priority.”  He gave me the “whatever” grin.  I believe he even rolled his eyes at me!

This was my time to sound like an old timer.  I told Kyle, “Now if you go out and build an actual house, that someone could live in or a play area, now that’s considered work and worth your time.  I would also help you build it, but not a digital house that doesn’t benefit anyone.”  His response?  “My people need somewhere to live!”  Yikes!   I should have stopped there, but I didn’t and I began to explain how we built a fort (yes we took small trees chopped them down and build ourselves a fort to play in, in the woods) and a cabin.  Seriously, we did this when we were in elementary school.   I didn’t mention that we were unusual kids for our day, I didn’t find it a need when I was trying to make my case.

Not taking the hint Kyle didn’t seem to care or really comprehend what I was saying, I continued, “Look, your dad and Casey and Joel (cousins) build the party shack just to hang out in when they were in high school and not to play video games.”  Again, I didn’t get into what they did up there, nor do I even want to know, but that’s not relevant to my argument.

Kyle knows the cabin very well.  We sometimes hunt around there and when Kyle was younger, Casey would come home and take him for a walk up to the permanent structure, remembering Ryan,  The cabin is equipped with a wood burner, windows, a porch and a shingled roof.  Definitely no dive.

Quick story.  I don’t know how many times this happened, but I do know it was at least once.  The guys, Ryan, Casey and Joel, plus whoever else was hanging around, called to have a pizza delivered.  They actually gave directions to the edge of the woods and told the driver to wait there, someone will meet them.  To me that’s the funniest story.  First of all this took place late at night and secondly, no delivery driver would even do that today for fear of being jumped.  Lastly, who just orders a pizza to have it delivered to the woods?  I would have walked to my parents house to wait for it and then carried the pie back up.  Not those guys.  They got hungry and ordered a pizza to be delivered in the woods with no real address.  Too funny!

Now back to my video game rant.  On Monday Kyle text me asking for an apple pie recipe we recently made.  I had mom type it up and email it to him.  I text him back letting him know it was on the way to check his emails, no response.  Again, I reached out to him via text message to ensure he did indeed receive the requested information, no response.   I tried calling, to only be put into his voicemail.  Fine, it must not be that important, even though I believed he needed it for school.

Kyle & my text he needs work on his spelling- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle texted me for an apple pie recipe, obviously he needs work on his spelling

The next day I got a text saying “Got it”.  Ok a day late but whatever.  Then yesterday, just after he got home from school, he CALLED  me, not texted or emailed me but he picked up the phone to make the call, asking for his password on Minecraft.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from Kyle, no matter the reason, but seriously?  Evidently, he updated the game and it logged him out, therefore his password was not saved.  Crisis! He wanted me to jump up immediately to access our password list to give him his login information.  Fat chance kid!  I told him I’ll get to it later, after asking if he had homework and if he practiced his piano.

I guess it doesn’t feel so good to be blown off, because the next thing I knew, I saw an email come through resetting the password. (Yes I have all his emails copied to me so I can monitor his activity.)  That kid is something else!  Instead of waiting for the info, he had to have it right then and there, immediately.  So he reset the password to play his game.  Funny thing, he never gave me the updated password.  I see another issue in the near future.

Not to be all negative about Kyle and those stupid video games because he sometimes does pretty good with playing in moderation, sort of.  Granted, I do need to tell him to log off when the hours have been racking up.  By no means does he usually volunteer to be released from the video game addition, but once he’s off, he’ll play other board games, go to the movies, sled ride, cook, or my favorites, play the piano and reading.   He just needs to be guided toward other activities. I’ve noticed he really doesn’t pay attention to the hours spent on the computer.  I suppose that’s my job.  I’m very thankful he does have other interests, even though they tend to take a backseat to the video games.

I’m hoping this is still a faze, but maybe I’m the one living in the imaginary world.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Gamers Start Small & Grow

There are people who are very dismissive of games and gamers.  ~Jane McGonigal

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Me & Holsters at the Latrobe Turkey Trot Race. It was a cold one! 11/28/13

Kyle loves his video games, a fact I’ve reluctantly accepted for a few years now.  As the days pass by, Kyle seems to exude more passion for these video games.  His choices in digital entertainment are also more advanced and are taken to the next level with each new video interest.  I mean, unbeknownst to mom, Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man she paved the way for our little gamer.

My sister is also a video game fan, as are many of her friends.  She plays the Wii and Sony Playstation (PS3).  I don’t believe she has an XBox 360, but for all I know, she could.  I really don’t get into gaming, nor do I have an interest except for the dance games.  Yes I LOVE dancing around to the video games.  My favorite?  The Michael Jackson Experience!  Love his music, love his dance moves.  That’s as far as my gaming interests are peeked.

When I was younger, I loved Atari.  My game of choice?  Frogger!  Even as much as I loved that game, I still was not a typical gamer, investing large stents of time into the virtual world.  Not then, and most certainly not now.

This past New Year’s, I told Kyle I’d play him a few video games, you know moving me out of my comfort zone and sacrificing a small amount of time for Kyle’s happiness.  I tried to get excited and I wish I really wanted to play, but alas, I could not.  One would think the shooting games would keep my interest, but nope.  Not even my beloved childhood friend, Frogger could build my yearning to play.  There was absolutely no desire.  Truly, I just wanted to watch a movie, read a book, write or do anything else.  I kind of felt bad for Kyle, for all he wanted to do was play video games, and not just play, but play with me.  That’s his favorite way of spending time with us.  We did agree on a few exciting games of Trouble and the good old stable, Chess, but I retired the video games after a a few rounds.  Kyle is lucky to have his Aunt Nikki, for she is the only one who shares video game enthusiasm.

Yes, Nicole can sit there for hours and play video games, and she enjoys it!  Sometimes Kyle and Nicole play each other online.  Kyle does get a kick out the time spent online with his Aunt Nikki, and will literally plan evenings with my sister.  Granted, she is a busy person, so those evenings are far and few between, as least in Kyle’s eyes, but she does try to hang in the virtual world with our little man as much as possible.  In fact, this past Sunday night, Kyle was all excited to play my sister online.  He called her all weekend, nudging her along, making sure she downloaded said game, I believe it was Mine Craft, and re-confirmed his reservation to ensure there was no miscommunication.  Too funny!  While I was sick all weekend, he was planning for his big night online with his Aunt Nikki.

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This is what Kyle does while in the car… playing video games…. & he wonders why he gets headaches in the car? 2012

A couple of weekends ago, Kyle and I stopped in to Best Buy to purchase a camera for my company Thrill of the Hunt.  As I was speaking to the sales associate,  Kyle mentioned he was going to peruse headsets, whatever that meant.  He came back with this simple headset containing a movable microphone.  Being elated over his find, Kyle went off on how much he loved it and needed the piece of equipment, at least that’s what he told me.  Great! (I was happy for him, but not really that excited.)

Next thing I knew, Kyle pulled out his own chain wallet, courtesy of his pappy (my dad) and proceeded to get in line to pay for his purchase.  My little man is growing up too fast!  At the same time, he took my phone and proceeded to call my sister letting her know he was now in business.  I looked at the young sales associate assisting me and said, “Do you play video games?”  Without hesitating and giving me a confused look, he replied with confidence, “O yes!”  Great, I’m the minority.  Of course I was in Best Buy, the hub for computer geeks.  I should ask that question when I’m in Barnes and Noble and see what kind of answer I get.

What did he need the headset for?  Apparently, Kyle has graduated from simple playing video games on his laptop and iPod, to playing online with his friends.  On a side note, he is not permitted to play with anyone he doesn’t personally know that either goes to school with him or is a family friend.  Kyle doesn’t really understand my reasoning, but he respects my instructions, at least for now.

This past Friday, Kyle arranged to play Mind Craft with this friends.  What?  He scheduled a time to play video games online?  Yep!  I’m glad Kyle has an interest, and I’m very happy he has friends to share that passion, but I can honestly say, I don’t get it.  I would be happier if he was socializing with his friends at someone’s house and happen to be playing video games, but he’s enjoying life and I’m happy for him.  And the headset?  It’s to talk to his friends while they play.  I guess I should be happy for that line of communication too.

Kyle gets into reading as much as he does his video games.  That’s our shared interest, books, as well as snowboarding!  Maybe the gaming is just a minor difference in interest.  I wish he would get into running or hiking like I do, but I can’t have everything.  After all, he’s not me, he’s his own person.  And fine young man he is!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Scavenger Hunts – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt!

If you didn’t smell so appallingly luscious, he might not have bothered. But when I defended you… well, that made it a lot worse. He’s not used to being thwarted, no matter how insignificant the object. He thinks of himself as a hunter and nothing else. His existence is consumed with tracking, and a challenge is all he asks of life. Suddenly we’ve presented him with a beautiful challenge — a large clan of strong fighters all bent on protecting the one vulnerable element. You wouldn’t believe how euphoric he is now. It’s his favorite game, and we’ve just made it his most exciting game ever.  ~Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 19, p.397

Twilight-cover Aunt Heather PiperAbout a year ago, right before Breaking Dawn part 1 was to be released in theaters, I thought it might be fun to participate in a Twilight themed scavenger hunt.  I did what most of us do,  I headed straight for Google to get my answer, without success.  I found there were no such scavenger hunts offered.  Really?  At least there wasn’t anything around my area.  Then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be so much fun to have a Twilight themed scavenger hunt for fans?’  So, what do I do when I have a great idea?  I called my sister of course.  Dumping all my thoughts into words, I told Nicole about my idea.  She heard me out, and LOVED it!

Needless to say, my mind started to work into overdrive and do what I do best, plan.  I had so many great ideas for this scavenger hunt, I couldn’t contain myself, I was jumping out of my skin with excitement.  Ok so first things first, I wanted to do this the right.  Where do I start?  Copyright privileges!  Now, that’s not such an easy task.  It’s not like the movies are sitting around waiting on my phone call.  Searching high and low for a contact became a big challenge.  Eventually, I found an old online trail and followed it to success.  Kind of.  Believe it or not, I was able to get in touch with Summit Entertainment who owned the rights to the movies, the soundtrack and the photography.  Yes, I finally got a hold of someone internally in the copyright department!  We played phone tag and spoke on the phone a few nights, as well as corresponded through email.  Unfortunately, they did not give me permission to proceed using any of their copyrighted items.  Not that I blame them really.  Seriously, it’s not like I had any credentials or solid numbers to back up my abstract plans, it was just that, an idea.  And here I was talking to a major motion picture, a franchise worth billions of dollars, about my silly little concept with a bunch of unknown variables.  I will say they were very responsive and super nice!  And frankly, I’m surprised they entertained my free thinking dreams as long as they did.  I was crushed, but not ready to give up.

Next, I decided to contact the publisher, since I knew they owned the rights to the books and the covers.  It took me some time of reaching out to different publishers and several different companies, but finally I struck it rich, in the figurative sense.  I was able to get a hold of the right person, Stephanie Meyer’s agent.  Yep, I reached the top of the chain, second in line to Stephanie Myers herself.  I was so excited just to be conversing with this behind the scenes celebrity and sharing my ideas, again I thought I was going to explode with excitement.  We went back and forth via emails, playing phone tag, and voicemail tag, for a few weeks.  She loved my ideas, at least that’s what she claimed, even the details I shared with her about the scavenger hunt (which I will not divulge at this time, until I am able to execute my Twilight themed scavenger hunt).  Naturally, Nicole and I were declined copyright permission.  Again rightfully so, I really can’t blame Summit and the publisher; here we are two strange people with an idea, no business model, no concrete numbers, or solid plan of action and then asking a major franchise for copyright privileges.  Still it was a neat experience to go through.

*Please note with all of my correspondence between Summit Entertainment and the publishers, I chose to omit names out of respect.

Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt logo - Aunt Heather Piper

Some may say, I was crazy but I still knew in my heart this was a fun idea and I could make it successful, I still do.  Personally I still really appreciate both parties for entertaining my request and taking the time out of their busy do to do so.  Getting a hold of Summit Entertainment and the publishers, was not an easy task, let me tell you.  Not that it should be, because if it were, then everyone under the sun would be bothering them.  God was on my side and guided me in the right direction through my entire investigation.  Please take my broad stroke statements and be aware, trying to get contact information for the decision makers of these major companies, when I had nothing to go off of, took persistence and a blessing from above.

Thanks to my sister, the idea of scavenger hunts was not a dead dog.  Nicole called me one evening and said, “You know what I think we should do?  I think we should start a company, which focuses on scavenger hunts.  We could do ones for businesses that are team builders or leadership scavenger hunts.” I never really thought about that angel, I stopped short on my idea of Twilight and never looked past it.  So, me being in marketing, I started to scope the potential competition.  I discovered no one was doing themed scavenger hunts, at least not on a large consistent scale.  Now this, I can work with and take somewhere.  Conversing with Nicole over the phone, we discussed the ideas of themed scavenger hunts, ones focusing on movies, books, singers, history events, pop culture etc.  Nicole loved the direction and so Thrill of the Hunt was born.

Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt - Aunt Heather Piper

In order to get started we decided to hold a SpyRing themed scavenger hunt, which will be taking place this weekend at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Click her for all the details.  Thrill of the Hunt was created not only to be educational and provide fun themed scavenger hunts for adults and children of all ages, but it was established on the foundation of community involvement and participation.  I want these events to not only hit major cities, but small towns as well.  At the SpyRing scavenger hunt, a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to help rebuild Playland.

Read a few articles below for more on the devastation of Playland.

This play area was really the best outdoor facility I’ve ever seen for children.  It was in a great location under trees at Legion Keener Park, entertaining kids of all ages.  It was really a project that involved the entire community.  I want to see it shine again and I want children to have the opportunity to have a safe place to play.

I usually don’t promote much on my blog, but I will give myself a little call out this time.  Please help support Thrill of the Hunt (Facebook / Twitter) and SpyRing (Facebook / Twitter), follow each company on Facebook and Twitter.  We are small town girls who want to set our dreams in motion through reinforcement of education for children and through the development of fun outlets such as a scavenger hunts, fun for the entire family.  Look for new scavenger hunt events near you or tell me where you want us to show up.  Thrill of the Hunt is a subsidiary of The Piper Corporation.

 

Latrobe TV Aunt Heather Piper
posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Missing A Story Creates Your Own

Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.  ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Recently Kyle has been getting bloody noses.  Please note, I’ve never had a bloody nose, nor have I had a broken nose.  In fact, my nose is my favorite feature.  Kyle and I have the same perfect noses. I like to take this opportunity to say that everyone can say millions of  things they’d like to change about themselves, but I think it’s important to recognize and name your good features too.

Aunt Heather Piper and Kyle Christmas 2003

Me & Kyle Christmas 2003

Anyway, back to the dreaded bloody nose.  This was the first bloody nose Kyle’s ever gotten.  At first I thought maybe he scratched the inside of his nose and there was a little bit of blood on the tissue (he does have a history of exaggerating and making a mountain out of a mole hill) until he told me they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop and he had to go to the nurse’s office.  I must say, I was alarmed when Kyle told me about his bloody nose situation in school.  I even twittered it and a few friends responded out saying to not worry, the air is dry and it happens.  My sister called me mentioning she had a bloody nose recently too and it’s nothing to get all excited over.  Actually, before we spoke on the phone we were bantering back and forth via twitter.  I guess that’s a new one for us.  I can only imagine those following us and what they thought of our comments back and forth through the twitter feeds.  Of course, no one dared to join in on the conversation, not that I blame them.  But to reinforce my point, I’ve never had a bloody nose, on the contrary to what my sister thinks.

Aunt Heather Piper at work 2011

Surprise! Me at work 2011

Kyle seemed really upset.  I told him not to worry, it was the dry air and that we would get him a humidifier, if needed, to get the moisture back in the air.  Then I was struck with awe because he was really upset over missing story time!  Can you believe that?  He was upset over missing his teacher read to the class.  He said, “Ya, I missed the entire story.  They made me go to the nurses office and sit there until the bleeding stopped.  I missed the entire story!  And I wanted to hear it.”  My has he come a long way, being upset over a book.  I was not happy he missed his story time and I certainly wasn’t happy he got a bloody nose, but I was very happy to hear he enjoys story hour.  I told him to get the name of the story and I will read it to him.  He responded by saying, “Ya, but it’s not like hearing it in school.”  I said, “No buddy I guess not, but at least you get to hear the story too.”  He shrugged his shoulders in a dismissive ‘man I missed the entire story’ gesture.

Since then Kyle has gotten several bloody noses, mostly at school.  Then I realized he could get one while he was with me!  I don’t think I could handle seeing blood pour from my Kyle’s nose!   But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Maybe Kyle’s bloody nose will create a story for me too.

To really understand why I am so happy Kyle loves story time, please see I HATE READING & Harry Potter Made Me Do It!

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

Harry Potter Made Me Do It!

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.  ~Dr. Seuss

Kyle reading Harry Potter 12-7-11

Kyle reading Harry Potter. 12/7/11

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry I HATE READING!, it took some creative effort and encouragement to get Kyle to enjoy reading.   I am happy to announce that those days of negativity have passed.  His imagination has really sprouted and opened up in the world he reads.  In fact, while I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy, he asked me what it was about.  He was truly curious and interested.  He was no longer intimidated by the number of books, absence of images, or the volume count.  He said he thought about reading them, but then he said to me, “Well, I was actually thinking about reading the Lord of the Ring books, and then maybe I’ll read those books.”   I told him to say the word and we’ll go to the book store and he can pick whatever book we wanted or if he wanted to borrow any one of my books.  I even have a series of Star Wars books that I read years ago and I decided to give him.

Kyle is still currently on the Harry Potter books, I believe he is almost done with Goblet of Fire.  What is funny is Kyle’s enthusiasm for me to catch up to him in the Harry Potter books.  I showed him my backlog of books and he said, “Wow, Aunt Heather, you have a lot of reading to do before you can get to the Harry Potter books, so you better keep reading!”  He cracks me up!  I said, “Yes sir, I do.”  Periodically, he would ask me how many more books are in front of the Harry Potter books and I have to give him the count.

I don’t think I ever really explained Kyle’s love for the Harry Potter books. You see the deal was, I would read him the books.  And when I mean read, I meant with my best British accent and character impersonation I could muster along with the rhythm of excitement and emphasis at the right moments.  He became so into the first book, The Sorcerer’s Stone,  he would grab the book in the middle of day, omitting to watch TV and ask me to read to him.  To really get into the story, without distractions, we would go back to his room and cuddle on the bed while I read.  After about three or four chapters of reading I would need a drink and a break but Kyle would plead with me to keep reading.  We both got into it!  He would squirm and squeal during scary or exciting parts, which made me more involved in the story and made me laugh.  I tried to make the characters come to life, as per the movies, since he was a big fan.  Once, I forgot to add my version of a British accent and Kyle stopped me immediately and said, “No, Aunt Heather, the real way you read! The other way.”  O my goodness, yes the accent did help make the story more cultural, even though my sister didn’t appreciate it.

Are We Alone book - Aunt Heather Piper

A book Kyle was reading last year. Sometimes he is his Aunt Nikki! c. 2010

When my sister was home for a weekend, I told Kyle why doesn’t he invite his Aunt Nikki to join our reading time.  We all piled on the bed, including Pudd’in.  As I proceeded to read, Nicole started to snicker and said, “Yes Aunt Heather, just like when we were in London.”  I told her I was a quarter British and I was doing just fine!  She couldn’t help but laugh over that comment.

I must say I LOVED our time together reading.  Then came the dreaded day when he wanted to start taking the books to school to read.  Now I was in shock!  I asked him, “I thought you wanted me to read to you?”  He said, “I do, but I also want to read them on my own in school.”  What could I say, I was between shock and pride thinking about those years of pushing and bribing and arguing.  After all, that’s the moment I’ve been waiting for.  And I must admit I was sad, only because I so enjoyed reading with Kyle and watching the expressions on his face and the tension in his body from being completely consumed by the story.

Now, getting to the original point of the story.  A little while back, Kyle had his school musical.  That’s when I found out that Kyle got in trouble for reading in class.  Now that didn’t seem like Kyle.  He is very adamant about obeying the rules.  The story seemed a bit exaggerated.  Later that day, I picked Kyle up from the bus to go to Light Up Night.  I wasn’t mad but more curious over the situation. I said, “Kyle I’m not mad but I do want to know why the teacher took your book from you.”  He put his head down with the slight smile. “I was reading my Harry Potter book in class.”  I said, “That doesn’t sound like you.  What did the teacher say?  Did you get your book back? Did she really throw it out in the hall?”

“No, Aunt Heather, she just said to pay attention to the kids at the chalkboard.  Then, after I she caught me reading again, she took my book from me.  She didn’t throw it, well maybe on the desk, but I got it back at the end of class.”

“Why would you not listen to your teacher?” Still in disbelief.

“I was waiting for them [the students] to finish their problems and then I would pay attention.”

Kyle was utilizing his time management skills!  While all the other students were staring out into space, Kyle wanted to read in his book!  I busted out loud laughing!  I immediately said, “Well, I’ll give you credit for making the most of your time and I’m happy you’re enjoying the book.”  He was happy to hear that and I think was relieved he wasn’t in trouble with me.  After all, how could I get mad over a desire to read!  I did tell him to respect authority and left it at that.  I smiled with excitement the entire way to Pittsburgh for Kyle’s love of reading.

Read the prequel I HATE READING!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

I HATE READING!

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Kyle and Aunt Heather Piper reading 11-18-03

Me & Kyle reading the dinosaur book. He was mimicking me with my own sunglasses. 11/18/03

There was a time when getting Kyle to realize the true adventure and the worlds of fun contained in books was like climbing Mount Fuji, it was a struggle.  Not to mention getting him to understand the importance of reading and the education that comes through books was an even bigger challenge.  I will admit I tried and I tried and I tried.

From the time Kyle was a tiny infant till about the age of five or six, he loved having someone read him stories.  My mom and I would read him poems, books, magazine articles, you name it.  We would sit on the rocking chair, cuddle and read.  He loved it!  He would get a book and bring it to one of us to read to him.  In fact, that’s how I found out that I can no longer read while riding in a car. I once tried to read Kyle his dinosaur book in the backseat and almost lost my weeks lunches, dinners, breakfasts and snacks.  I think you get my drift.  I remember when I was putting myself through college and I worked two jobs, one was the midnight shift at UPS.  By the time I would get to my parents house, it was around five in the morning and I was dead to the world.  The minute Kyle would wake up, he made a bee line to my bed.  Sometimes he would crawl in bed with me (with a little sleepy nudge from my hand to get him in bed).  He was usually dragging one of his music books with him.  He would flip through the book and pretend to read to me.  I wish I was more awake, but getting three hours of sleep a night sometimes would catch up with me.  Yep, the love for books and reading was instilled in him at a young age.

That is, until he was old enough to read.  Then Kyle decided he HATED reading.  Yep, he would say it day in and day out.  I must say those words really upset me.  Well, me being me, I decided to get creative to help develop a love for reading and the ability of getting lost in books.  When he had a book he had to bring home from the school library, I would pull it out and get really excited about his book selection, even when it was about bats, spiders, or the time he brought home a book on the most poisonous snakes.  Gross!  But regardless, I would try.  Sometimes I would just sit there reading a few pages until he asked me what I was doing.  Then I would just blurt out saying, “Wow, that’s incredible!” or “Holy smokes, I didn’t know it could do that!”  Yep, anything to get his attention.  Sometimes that would spark his interest enough to sit with me and at least entertain me.

Kyle with his Lego Book from Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle with his Lego book I got him. I tried to get him interested in any type of literature.

I even went as far as to make a deal with Kyle, when he was reading the Goosebumps stories, which did not contain pictures and were his first chapter books.  To Kyle those books were his Mount Fuji.  I told him I would take turns with him reading.  He would read a page and then I would read a page.  At the end of two pages I would act out the scene.  I noticed at this time Kyle was not really comprehending what he was reading.  He was just saying the words out loud, not really computing what was going on.  I thought me acting would help to bring the book to life.  We had a blast!  Once he was done with a page, he would stop, even in mid sentence and say, “Ok Aunt Heather now it’s your turn to read.”  Then I would read my page and sometimes I would forget and turn the page.  Kyle would stop me saying, “No Aunt Heather, go ahead and act it out.”  As he sat there in anticipation, I jumped around the living room and creeped up from behind the couch.  Kyle would really get into the book.  He would sit and squeal with every motion as if he was in the story.  Sometimes I couldn’t help but laugh at his reactions.  That method worked for a while.  But Kyle would not sit and read a book by himself.

Every Easter has always been a tradition for my mom to get us books, hence became my tradition with Kyle.  I tried the Warrior books and other books.  Nothing.  Finally I got him the Wimpy Kid books.  He begrudgingly would read them to me, and examine the illustrations.  He didn’t really get into those books until his daycare made a mandatory reading time for the kids.  They had to bring in a book of their choice and read for a half an hour every day.  Once they completed a book, they received a coupon for something free at McDonald’s.  I’m not a fast food fan, but if this was getting Kyle to read, I was all for it.  Not to mention it helped that other kids in his class had already read the books, and I found out, in their own way, were encouraging Kyle by getting him excited for the adventures.

Aunt Heather Piper and Kyle at Christmas 2003

Me & Kyle playing with one of his puzzles. Christmas 2003

Kyle has never had the most perfect grades when it came to reading and language.  Now if we were talking about math, science and even music that was a different ball of wax.  I really wanted to help him out.  Now I’ve used other ploys such as bribing him, threatening him, and even ignoring him.  I even developed SpyRing (www.SpyRing.com) to assist in reading and reading comprehension as well as all school subjects.  This helped Kyle in terms of practice for reading and getting into the spy theme.  He loved the challenge of the questions and the interaction with another person.  Great!  But since SpyRing was not a book, YET, I needed to try another method that was successful at least in terms of getting him excited about reading books.

At this point, I decided to go back to the basics.  I always wanted to read the Harry Potter books, but I never got around to them.  So I purchased the entire seven book set for Kyle’s tenth birthday.  When he opened up the gift I was shot a look of, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’.  I told him the deal was that I would read them to him.  That was it.  Kyle loved the movies so I thought, what the heck, at least I’ll be able to hang with Kyle and finally read the books.  Kyle also knew that when I said I would read to him, he knew I would do it with total enthusiasm,  expression, complete emotion, excitement and all the pizazz I could muster.  Now that appealed to him and so the stories started to unfold and I loved every minute of it.

Never give up! Just as books expand and occupy the mind, explore your mind to gain access to the books.  When you’re doing what’s right, you are never wrong.  Happy Reading!

 

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments
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