Playing As Kids – Building Forts & Making Gold

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.  ~Pope Paul VI

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Our cousins, Casey holding Marla, Joel in the back, Michael & Elizabeth. Stacy has yet to come. c. 1986

Trying to teach Kyle that you don’t need money or the latest and greatest video games to have fun, is surprisingly a really hard lesson to teach.  At least with my little stubborn man.  I can’t say it enough, he is a good kid, a truly good hearted person, but he only sees playing and having fun as an activity that has been dictated by his generation of video games.  He is not accustomed to good old fashion playing outside, unless I demonstrate and participate of course.

This past weekend, Kyle wanted to play a game with me.  Great!  I suggested a game of chess.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Battle Ship.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Trouble (love that mindless game.  We used it to reach Kyle how to count when he was wee little.)  Denied!  He wanted to play a few games with me on the Wii.  Ok, I’ll give him that since we haven’t busted out the Wii for a while.  His compromise was to play the hunting games and the Wii Sports Resort (Swordplay, Fruit Ninja, Wakeboarding).  I wanted to dance to Micheal Jackson, denied!   I gave in and we played, having a pretty good time.  But after so long, I didn’t have the patience to sit in front of the television and play games anymore.  I would rather get up and move around.  Not Kyle, he wanted to continue for hours upon hours.  Denied!

I pretty much have to force Kyle to undertake any activity before he realizes he’s actually having fun or enjoying himself.  Time and time again this has happened.  Perfect example would include his perceived dreaded hikes with the dogs, which he does enjoy while on the hike.  Even after we come back from having a nice time, he still won’t admit to it.  I guess it’s not cool.

As kids we made up some pretty crazy games and undertook some unusual activities to keep ourselves entertained.  One of the stories I’ve shared with Kyle was the fort building.

Let me step back to state, I grew up with my brother and sister and my cousins around.  So there was never a shortage of kids to play with.  For Kyle, not so much.  I know that has a lot to do with the way he plays and his interests, but I do try as best I can.

Anyway, when we were kids, we used to chop down trees, yes with a hatchet, smaller trees, probably about six inches in diameter and stack them on top of each other to form a fort.  Yes, a real fort with four sides, nestled back in the woods.  We would play in and around this fort all day.

Near this location were these large vines that hung over a small creek.  We would take turns swinging back and forth on the natural ropes like Tarzan and Jane.  It was so much fun.  We did all this with our dog Jill hanging around, without parental supervision, while everyone was getting along and getting dirty and exercise.

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Cousins playing at Twin Lakes for Lisa’s birthday. L to R Nicole, Tim, Lisa, Ryan, Casey, me, Elizabeth & Mikey behind trying to claim a spot on the swings. c. 1986

Let’s be realistic, I don’t really have a desire to build another fort anymore.  However, if Kyle really wanted to, I would, but since manual labor is not at the top of his list, we never relived those good old days.

Instead, dad decided he wants to raise chickens.  Apparently, I’m going to construct a chicken coop, correction, Kyle and me are going to build a chicken coop soon.  I guess that’s close enough to a fort.  At least he’s doing something productive, in real life.  I Need To Build My House – Video Games.

As far as the whole experience including the vine swinging goes, I’ve actually taken Kyle in the woods and we have done just that!  He even enjoyed himself!  Although for me it seemed more fun as a kid, but for Kyle, who is still a youngster, it was a new experience.  There is something about swinging past trees that is so relaxing and fun.

Now onto the gold.   Another quick story of how we used our imagination and every day items to create our own pastimes.

One day Ryan was tinkering around in the garage, yes I believe we were still in elementary school. He was always in that garage.  Anyway, he came running out yelling, “I’ve found gold!  I’ve found gold!” as he darted down the driveway toward my cousin Casey and Joel’s house.  What on earth?

Ryan found a can of gold spray paint and took some rocks and spray painted them.  They did look like nuggets of gold.  Yes we added that to the items we played with as kids, simple rocks.  We even fought over the rights to the “gold nuggets” and made up war games with the “gold” as the booty.

Really it shouldn’t take much to have an imagination and to be entertained.  At least not with us as kids.  We found fun in everyday life, with every day things, even rocks!

Read other related blogs

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling
Playing As Kids – Chasing Cars

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,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

What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour.  ~William Blake

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We found this feather in the woods in Cortland, New York. It became the focus of our attention for a while. Kyle was cracking me up! 8/31/13

Dad gets his hunting license not only for Westmoreland County, but also for the surrounding counties and his New York license.  In certain areas, dad has his tree stands set up, keeping them there year-over-year.  Yes, that wasn’t a typo.  Tree stands!  As in plural, meaning more than one.

So what does all this have to do with me?  Let me tell you were I was this past weekend.  In Cortland, New York moving a tree stand.  Why?  Simply, because last year, someone hit a big buck up the hill from where dad was sitting.  Ever since then, dad has been talking about moving his tree stand up the hill.  He believes it would have been his buck if he was positioned at a higher elevation.  Is that a fact?  Not necessarily, but I do trust dad’s hunting sense and his observation.  Previous to that, Dad’s was actually talking about moving the tree stand for a while now, but since the buck incidence, that made up his mind for him.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dad’s not bitter in any way shape or form, for the lucky hunter, not at all.  He’s happy for anyone who gets a deer, especially if it’s a prize.  But he’s had it in his head for a while now to move the stand, pretty much where Larry, a good friend of the family and my mom’s boss at Gutchess Hardwoods, suggested in the first place.  Dad said, “I should have listened to Larry, but I was being so stubborn and had my mind made up.”  Can’t imagine!

Moving a tree stand seems simple enough, not really.  First we had to drive six hours to Cortland, New York to get to the woods where the tree stand was situated.  Then, we had to drive back into the woods, only so far, before all piling on the quad and riding it another couple of miles, before getting out and hiking to the hunting spot.  Yes, somewhere in the 500 acres, was this big metal tree stand attached to a tree.  Did I mention I was the one who had to assemble the beast a few summers back?

Let’s start off with Saturday morning.   I mean morning.  We got up around 3:00 am, and we didn’t leave until 4:30 am.  There used to be a day when dad was up early and started on his day right away.  No sitting around, none of this taking his time, watching the news, finishing his coffee blah blah blah.  Nope!   Dad used to get up, make sure everyone else was up, get dressed and out the door like lightening.  Boy have times changed.  Usually Kyle does pretty good in the am, but this time was a bit different, not that I can blame him, even for me this was a bit early.

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Kyle shooting pap’s .22 rifle at the shooting range. Not a bad shot! 8/31/13

Once we were off, Kyle slept in the backseat of the truck.  He really wasn’t ready to get up and get moving, that is until we made a pit stop at Sheetz.  Naturally, he had donuts on his mind and with his pappy there, he pretty much gets what he wants.  Although as in keeping with tradition, I raced him in and out of the gas station, to and from the truck.  At one point, we both tried to wedge ourselves out of the door and practically got stuck.  Dad saw us and just shook his head and chuckled.

While on the road, once we finally got Kyle up, Kyle and I started to play a game of War.  You know the card game that goes on forever and requires little to no thought.  That game seemed like it was the longest ever played!  Seriously.  Me and Kyle were in amazement because it was never ending.  We kept joking around that we were going to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The drive was pretty uneventful.  It’s actually kind of nice to be up before dawn and watching the day unfold before my eyes.  We passed Beaver Stadium, my sister’s Alma Mater.  We joked around a little and called my mom and my sister to check in.  I was even fine with the Willy Nelson Serious XM radio station on, that is until it stayed on the entire time to and from New York.

Dad cracks me up.  When he had to pee, he just pulled the truck, which was hooked to the trailer containing the quad, onto the side of the road, peed and left.  Back in the day, when I was little, dad NEVER stopped for no one.  Not himself, not my mom and certainly not for his kids.  We had to go before we left and we learned to hold it until we got to our destination.  Granted, we never really traveled for than four or five hours, but regardless that’s how dad traveled.  Come to think of it, that’s probably why I am, the way I am, when traveling.  I never stop, I keep going till I reach my journey’s end.  Now-a-days things are different, very different.  I swear we pulled over every hour!  Every roadside pause gave me and Kyle the giggles.  Then it would start the teasing towards dad.

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Dad was checking the shots with the spotting scope. Kyle was reloading, ready to go again. 8/31/13

At one point, Kyle had to use the restroom, as did I but I can hold it because I knew dad would expect me to go along side of the road.  Fat chance!  Dad pulled over for Kyle, but not just on the side of the road.  He pulled over were they were doing construction.  To reach the side of the road, dad had to weave the truck and the trailer between the cones.  Me and Kyle were dying!  For some reason we thought that was the funniest thing ever!  Keep in mind this is around ten o’clock or so in the morning, along a major highway.  I knew Kyle wouldn’t use natures facility, and I was right.  But what made the situation even funnier, dad drove down the road that was coned off, and as we progressed the cones got closer together.  We were taking bets if dad was going to knock down a row of cones.  Nope!  Didn’t even graze them!

After we checked into our motel room in no-man’s-land we headed to the woods.  The minute we got out, I was attacked by mosquitoes!  Anyone that knows me, knows I am always the first person to take fire from the blood suckers and I usually get it the worst.  My bites always swell and linger for twice as long as most.  Would you believe no one thought to bring bug spray?  Nope!  We were screwed!

After we unloaded the quad, dad had me plant my buttocks on the front rack, while Kyle was seated right behind dad, beside the chainsaw, tools, salt block and extra chainsaw gasoline.  Yes, that was my first reaction too!  What are we cutting down?  The layout of us all situated on the quad was nothing new, we rode like that before for hunting season and I suspected it was going to be that way.  But what I didn’t know is that we had to chuck wood too?  Yes, apparently we had to clear out the roadway back to the tree stand.  This just keeps getting better!

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The Piper outing at the shooting range. Nicole got back into the swing, not a bad shot. Kyle was shooting pretty good & mom shot a couple, but just observed. 8/31/13

The ride to and fro was quite an adventure!  We hit a few pond size mud puddles, which at one point I thought was going to sink us all whole.  Then, let’s talk about the cliff of death.  The trail was pretty wide, wide enough for a full size vehicle.  So naturally one would think we had enough room for a quad.  Well, we did, but dad kept driving along side the brim of the edge, while looking down!  Me and Kyle were hanging on.  I stated, “Dad, they had a ton of rain this week.  You have the entire road, use it!”  Meaning, dad get away from the edge, the ground is soft and could collapse at any minute driving us down over the edge into the heart of the woods.  Even Kyle laughed about that one and was feeling the same way.  When we later recapped the story to mom, Kyle commented on that very scenario.

We did need to hack up a few logs laying across our path, to get through and I had to get off a few times to walk.  I must say it was quite the journey.  The one part of the road seemed like it was a complete vertical shot straight down and the road looked like a miniature Grand Canyon from being washed out.  I was hanging on, trying not to be projected off from the front end.  It was hard!  The road wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Once dad had me and Kyle on foot, he instructed us to walk up the hill and he followed on the quad.  He even tried to go up a side of a bank and I swear I saw the front end of the quad lift, like it was going to flip.  Me and Kyle just gave each other the look, you know the kind that says, ‘Wow that was a close one.’ or ‘Something bad is going to happen today.’  Then I said, “And you wondered why I brought my phone?”

While on foot, in the hot, humid mosquitoes infested deep woods, we seemed to keep walking on forever.  Like our path was never going to end.  Kyle turned to me and said, “I don’t think pappy knows where he’s going.”  I laughed so hard, I was thinking the same thing!    We kept trucking and following dad on foot.  Did I mention I had a long-sleeved thick hoodie type of top on, zipped up to my neck to protect some of my skin from the pests, and jeans on while I dripped with sweat in the eighty degree weather?  Awesome!

As we zigzagged through the tall brush, dad would stop every now-and-again to cut a few fallen trees.  That is until we came upon vertically intimidating, reaching the top of dad’s head, “jagger” bushes, briars and thick brush.  He actually used the chainsaw to mow down the obstruction!  Me and Kyle watched in amazement.  Then, when he was done, I yelled over, “You didn’t tell me we needed the weed whacker!”  Dad gave me an already tired grin and nod, while me and Kyle found that comment to be pretty darn funny.

Dad even used the quad to knock down small trees and mow down tall brush.  Then, we started to have a field day with that saying, “Does pappy think he’s a bulldozer?” and “We know what to get him for Christmas.”  Kyle said, “Ya, he could use a steam press to flatten our path.”  Very true buddy!  Very true!

Almost there…

To be continued…

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Lego Love

If you got to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you.  If you to to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you.  Whatever good things we build end up building us.  ~Jim Rohn

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Kyle built his new Legos. His favorite activity even at Parker Dam. 5/18/13

Kyle, even at eleven years old, ready to go into the seventh grade, still has a love for Legos.  Mentioning it a time or two, or three or four (Another Lego Christmas, Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoKidsFest 2012, Shopping Spree, Kyle Asks for Prayers, Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Seattle – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 4 and the list goes on and on), Kyle’s love of Legos is even stronger now than it ever has been.  This past Easter was no exception, as well as our last camping expedition.  In fact, just about everywhere we go and everything we do includes this building block activity.

Let’s start with Easter.  Unfortunately, I missed this past Easter.  I was seriously sick and just laid there like a slug.  Actually, I felt bad for two big reasons.  One, because I wanted to enjoy the holiday with my family and two, because I promised Kyle I would wake up with him at the crack of dawn, like I have done every year, to watch him find the Easter eggs.  Yes, he instructed us to hide the eggs, even though he is well aware the Easter bunny is not real.  The kid didn’t want to miss out on anything and that included looking for the pastel colored plastic eggs, usually filled with change.  Kyle is anything if consistent.

Side story!  Kyle’s youth group held an Easter egg hunt.  While they were setting it up, Kyle had to serve mass and missed being apart of the assembly of the event.  They let him participate since he didn’t know where the eggs were hidden.  Naturally, Kyle found the golden egg, which allowed him to take this chocolate bunny wrapped in gold foil embellished with a dangling collar ornament.  Mom, who picked our little man up after he was done said, “You should have seen Kyle.  He was so excited about participating he forgot he was upset.  He showed me his chocolate bunny.  He even pointed to the collar and said ‘OOo Gigi, look!’.  I tell ya what, that kid!  He always manages to come out on top.”  And he certainly does.

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You’d think this smile was from the excitement of heading to Parker Dam for the weekend. I’m not entirely certain. 5/17/13

Kyle and the rest of the family enjoyed Easter, while I laid on my death bed.  I’d like to call out an observation I made.  Easter used to be a celebration of Jesus and it is, but it has certainly taken on another form, an almost Christmas gift giving quality.  To counter act this new trend, I make sure I take Kyle to the Stations of the Cross during lent.  I even reviewed the Stations of the Cross with him independently, in addition to CCD class and going to church.  Kyle knows the true meaning of Easter and Christmas, however he also has this affinity for those Legos.

Easter, arriving on Sunday, March 31st of this year was the same.  Kyle was at no shortage of Legos to put together and play with.  Did I break down and fall into the Lego frenzy?  Nope, I purchased Kyle a few books on how to play chess and an Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  I must say, even though he loves his Legos, that goes without question, he did like the books.  Since then we’ve made a few recipes out of the cookbook and we’ve perused the chess books while playing a few mean games, picking up new tips.  Even though he appreciates his supply of Legos, I think the chess books took him off guard and was a pleasant surprise.  He loves to play chess and he’s pretty good at it.  He even wants to join the chess club at school, if they have one.  Knowing that, I wanted to encourage him.

Did he use the chess books as much as he played with the Legos, nope but that’s fine.  At least he plays with his Legos and still uses his imagination and enjoys himself.

I’m just going to discuss his Lego love from this past spring.  Nicole and Kyle have this on going deal.  When he gets A’s on his report card, she slips the kid some cash to spend on whatever he chooses.  Can you guess what he had his eye on this report card?  Yep, more Legos!  Seriously, I thought he owned them all!  I guess not.

The ordering process is down to a science.  Kyle picks out the Legos he wants, emails the Lego name and sku number to my sister and Nicole usually orders the goods to be delivered to the house.  That way he can track the packages and there is no hold up waiting for my sister to come home to drop off the Legos.

However, this one particular time there was a flaw in the system and the Legos never showed up.  Even though the online receipt was claiming it was delivered.  Kyle was stressed!  Who had his Lego?  Is he ever going to get another one?  And so on and so forth.   That sparked emails back and forth between me, mom and Nicole.  It was really funny, even though I know Kyle was sincerely stressed over the situation.  Eventually, Nicole had me go to the store to pick up the Lego to cool his horses.  I did, reluctantly.  I don’t think we should jump every time Kyle says how high, although he wasn’t pushy with us, just distressed.  Also, he did do a great job on his report card and earned that money fair and square.

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Would you believe months later, the neighbor realized they had the package all along and returned it to Kyle?  I’m not sure how someone doesn’t recognize a package delivered that has LEGO, written clearly across the top in bright letters.  I mean didn’t the sound of a million tiny little brick pieces give it away?  Not to mention, Kyle personally called and stopped over to see if Kyle’s mail found its way to the wrong house.  Whatever.

After the missing package resurfaced, I guess Kyle called my sister and asked what he should do with the Lego, since she already paid for this one and he got the same set, when I picked it up.  Another side note.  That was a nice gesture, Kyle could have just assumed he was getting that Lego or not mentioned it at all.  Yet, instead he called my sister right away to keep her in the loop.  Nicole told him to keep the Lego and have two.  A comment that sent pure happiness through Kyle.  A random surprise for the day.  For once no argument came from our little Lego lover.

Now let’s discuss this past report card, for the third quarter.  Yes, my little man got all A’s and a B in writing.  I’m perfectly fine with that!  He worked hard and did a great job!  His reward?  Ask his Aunt Nikki, who seems to be his Lego supplier.  He was rewarded with more Legos to build and play with, at his request.  His theme of choice for this batch?  Lego Star Wars.

Aunt Heather Piper 2-5-2013On May 17 – 19, just a few weeks ago, we went to Parker Dam for camping and fishing.  (Fishing Towards IndependenceJust Had to Take It to Parker Dam, Parker Dam State Park Story)  Mom and dad left earlier on that Friday before us.  I had to wait to get Kyle off of the bus before making our journey.  While we were packing and making our preparations, the Legos Nicole ordered came in.  All along prior to this time, Kyle would call Nicole and mom to check and see if the precious packages arrived.  Can you believe him?  Yep, it’s true!

Mom instructed me to put the new, highly anticipated Legos in my car.  What?  Are you kidding me?  We were going camping and fishing, not hanging out putting together Legos!  Reluctantly, I did as instructed and added the Legos to the contents of my car.  As Kyle got off the bus, he peeked inside the windows to see the huge boxes, a total of three were present.   The smile that erupted from his face was contagious and truly delightful!

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Kyle hid away in the camper to put together his Legos. Kyle brings camping to a whole new meaning. 5/18/13

As soon as we got on our way, Kyle did his usual inspecting of the packaging and reading the number of pieces in each box, the characters supplied in each Lego set and so on and so forth.  I think he does that on purpose to build his excitement even more.  He couldn’t wait to bust open the boxes and go to town.

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Close-up of Kyle assembling his Legos. A new way of camping at Parker Dam 5/18/13

Once we got to Parker Dam on Friday night, after Storm took off for the woods to play Jeremiah Johnson, Kyle opened a box of Legos and began to assemble.  He didn’t want to head down to meet up with his pap to fish, he didn’t want to help me look for my missing cat, he didn’t even want to get out his bike and go for a ride.  He wanted to build!  It’s like an addiction for him.  At least it’s a healthy learning one!

Literally, I had to pace him with the Legos and force him to think about other things while camping.  Once Kyle is involved or introduced to something else, he has a great time.  It’s just getting him to that point that can be tricky.  Throughout the weekend, we did manage to get our bikes rolling and explore the campsite a bit, as well as an unmarked dirt road.  On Sunday, we took the dogs for a walk in the nearby woods.  Even though we weren’t suppose to separate them from their leashes, we did so the boys could stretch out their legs.  After all, they were used to running free in the woods while we hiked.

But I bet the highlight to Kyle’s weekend, besides trudging through the creek and splashing with the dogs and getting all wet, was building and playing with those Legos.  Ok, maybe out fishing me made the top of his list too.

Saturday, after fishing in the morning, became the Lego building time.  Our camp fire was positioned by a large rock.  Kyle used that to play on.  It was his base of his Lego war.  As we hung around the campfire shooting the breeze, Kyle played with his Lego characters and their flying transportation devices.  He really enjoyed himself!

I guess any situation is a perfect situation with Legos, and any situation can be made a Lego good time.  Even if it was an enjoyable one without the primary colored building blocks.  I’m looking to sign Kyle up for Bricks for Kidz camp.  I bet he would enjoy that!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels and have No Comments

Checkmate – Game of Chess

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps.  Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it.  But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.  ~Stanley Kubrick

Aunt Heather Piper

Aunt Heather & Kyle Piper playing a game of chess at Fort Ligonier Days. 2009

Kyle has been really back on a chess kick lately.  I’m the same way, sometimes I just want to play the game and sometimes I forget all about it.  When Kyle was three years old, I remember sitting down with him and teaching him to play chess.  I never had any reservations about this young man learning the game.  At that point in his life, he already mastered Candy Land, Chutes n’ Ladders, and Monopoly Junior.  Pushing for Excellence  He was also working on puzzles with at least a thousand pieces and he knew his addition flashcards.  Again, going back to my same theory, “What’s it going to hurt?” SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

I remember the day, very distinctly when I introduced Kyle, to what will be his longtime love of Chess.  I asked Kyle if he wanted to play a game with me and naturally he was all for it.  He went through his list of standard games trying to figure out which one was on my mind.  Mentioning the game as I passed him to retrieve the box, he gave me a look of ‘What is chess?’ before asking me about the game.  I sat down without saying much only “You’ll see” and I gave him a smile and a wink.  I went straight to work, placing the pieces on the board.  His eyes were wide and curious while examining this intriguing game that he’s never seen before.  I will admit that my mysteriousness was making this new experience more dramatic and exciting.  Even I was falling prey to it, becoming more excited to play.

Kyle was squirming in his seat with anticipation when I started the role call, introducing him to each of the pieces.  First, I unveiled each figure by name and then I followed up with the maneuverability instructions for each piece.  Kyle sincerely got it!  I even remember letting him go first, which has become an unspoken rule with Kyle over the years.  As we moved around the board I would reiterate the moves of some of the pieces, but overall he seemed to understand how to play.  Now the strategy behind the game came a little later, but the love of chess was immediate.

Grandpap Chester's table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester made this table c. 1937  Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

In fact, my cousin Casey who is Kyle’s godfather, called and asked me what Kyle wanted for Christmas.  I usually try and give him different options and one was a chess game.  That Christmas, Kyle received his first chess set and he was excited!  I think I played more games of chess than I ever did in my entire life during that time. Casey certainly got his money’s worth.

Now the love of the game never disappeared, it was just stored away for a rainy day.  Every once in a while, we would pull out the game and play but Kyle’s video games started to take priority.  Then a month ago, while we waited to pick up our take-out dinner, Kyle took my iphone to play a game.  This is standard behavior when he thinks he’s “bored” for the whole five minutes of waiting.  I asked him, “What are you playing bud?” followed by his response of “Chess.”  I said, “Wow Kyle, we haven’t played a game of chess in a long time.”  As he remained focused on his game he lifted his head to give me a smile and a head nod.

After dinner, Kyle decided he didn’t want to play against the computer anymore, he wanted to play a game with me on my phone.  Now I was a little rusty, but graciously the game highlighted options for my potential moves.  That was helpful at first, but then slowly started to irritate me.  I will need to look into turning off that feature.  It was nice reengaging myself in the game and I really enjoy seeing Kyle using his cranium cavity for more than sending a stick person down a hill in a shopping cart.  (Shopping Cart Wars).

Grandpap Chester's Table 2 Aunt Heather Piper

Side view of Grandpap Chester’s checker table. c. 1937 Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

Recently, chess has become Kyle’s game of choice.  That’s all he wants to play, no video games, no ipod, no Nitendo DS, it’s all about the game of chess.  Last weekend my sister was home for her class reunion, Go Wildcats!, and he made her play against him too.  Would you believe that more than not, Kyle won against us?  Friday night, I played him a game, and I will admit that I was only half paying attention, clearly not taking my opponent seriously.  Yep, that bit me in the butt when he crushed me!  He didn’t just win, instead of finishing the game when he had me in checkmate, he decided to continue the game to capture as many of my pieces as he could.  He displayed his killings proudly, even telling my dad, “Look pap pap, it’s my trophy room.”  What a stinker!

When we did a rematch, I reminded Kyle of the dangers of arrogance and cockiness.  I could feel it leak through his pores, and I don’t like that at all!  He needs to remain respectful and composed.  I’ve even explained to him that those traits destroy people and causes them to fail, in everything they do in life.  Sometimes I like to take opportunities presented, even a simple situation, and use it as a life lesson.  This one was the best example.  As we continued with our game, I played like a champ; no more under estimating Kyle, no more distractions and absolutely no mercy!  Finally I won!  He smiled like a good sport and understood that I knocked him down a peg or two.  You know what?  Kyle didn’t care.  He didn’t get mad, he didn’t make excuses, in fact he commented on how he could improve his game next time.  Very impressive!

Every game we played, Kyle was definitely getting better and better.  He would even sacrifice certain pieces and set me up for traps to devastate my army.  An example, which was flawlessly executed, involved me taking Kyle’s pawn with my queen.  It looked like a no brainer, but after his move, I learned it was a set up!  Again I under estimated that child, he was learning strategy before my eyes.  I wasn’t paying attention to his knight, that is until he rode the horse in to capture my queen. What?  Very clever!  Great move!

Grandpap Chester table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester signed the inside drawer of the checker table. Made in 1937 Mikey found this when he was sanding.

On Monday night after school, while we were eating Kyle set up the chess game again.  We started to play before his piano lessons, until we ran out of time.  Unfortunately, when I got back to the house, I came to the conclusion that Storm wanted to play too.  All the pieces were scattered all over the table, which she is not allowed on, and some pieces were on the floor.  As I gathered up the crime scene, I noticed I was eight pieces shy.  After I cleaned the house on Wednesday, I found four of the eight missing pieces, which leaves four chess pieces MIA.  Where could they have gone?  Maybe they are with the mouse and sticky pad? Of Mice and Me…Part 3  Kyle is not going to be happy about this!  I’m actually upset for him and kind of nervous to break the news.  Maybe it’s time for a new set!

 

Check out Mikey’s other furniture creations on his Facebook.  He is a true artist with wood!  He doesn’t do refurbished wood projects, although he made an exception for me, since it was my grandpap Chester’s table, Mikey’s uncle.

Send Mikey a message…  http://www.facebook.com/mike.olczak

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