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


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 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.


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

Denied! No Dance For You!

There’s things that happen in a person’s life that are so scorched in the memory and burned into the heart that there’s no forgetting them.  ~John Boyne


Yep, that’s Kyle among a sea of kids, dancing around at his school’s Folk Festival. He was hiding from me after I busted a move to YMCA. Sometimes you just have to get it out. 6/3/13

It’s true, sometimes there are events and situations that occur, which can never be forgotten.  For those pessimists out there, I don’t believe these episodes are all bad and I believe any situation we encounter in life shapes us one way or another.  Heck, sometimes they are even really funny and will be brought up around the dinner table or campfire from time to time, just for a good laugh.  This is one of those stories, witnessed by many, remembered by me.

Yesterday was Kyle’s folk festival.  His very last assemble of elementary school!  Yes it was a bittersweet event.  In fact, Kyle, knowing I would want to see him and knowing that I would come, called me to remind me of the shindig.  He called me while I was meeting on the Chad Delier Scanlon Memorial Golf Outing. The Chad Delier Scanlon Story.  While I was confirming the date and time with my little man, this crazy thought popped in my head. The Heel Toe dance!

The Heel Toe dance is a dance, done every year during their Folk Festival after the students perform their required practiced square dance or line dance.  When they announce the Heel Toe dance, the students go running into the audience to select a parent, sometimes a teacher or a friend to partner-up with.  It always looked like so much fun!  As the memories of this dance come rushing into my head, the excitement was already building.  I mentioned the dance to Kyle, to plant the seed, as I do every year.  He just ignored me.  When I asked him again if I could dance with him, he just sort of laughed and then moved off of the subject before getting off the phone.


Kyle with his other friend Logan. Logan danced beside me at the schools Folk Festival, while Kyle ran… Surely he wasn’t embarrassed? 6/3/13

On a side note, I new nothing about the Folk Festival until Kyle called to remind me.  Thanks buddy!  It’s a good thing I’m working for Thrill of the Hunt, a division of The Piper Corporation or I wouldn’t be able to take off work, on such short notice.  Although I’m glad he included me!

Mom and I made our appearance, armed and ready to take video and pictures and to clap and cheer him on.  It was a nice cloudy day and the Folk Festival was held out in the school yard.  All the parents and onlookers circled the kids in the lawn chairs.

Slowly, the show moved along until we got to the long anticipated for, sixth graders!  At this point it was nice to see the kids do their square dance and to pull their loved ones out of the audience to dance the Heel Toe Dance, but my patience and interest was fading with every grade.  That is until Kyle and his class took center stage among the trampled down blades of grass.

Instead of a typical square dance, they did a line dance, which didn’t seem to amuse Kyle, at all!  He was barely moving through the motions and seemed annoyed at the assembly.  Keep in mind this was a child who called me a few days prior, excited to tell me about the festival and wanting me to be there.  Kids!

Then came the big moment I was waiting for, the Heel Toe Dance!  Yes!  After coming to all his assemblies and watching years worth of Folk Festivals, I wanted to be the one picked to dance the Heel Toe dance with Kyle!  I will confess, I sort of practiced it prior to, only from watching others perform it and paying attention.  I’m ready!

Naturally, as the kids move around gathering up their partners, it was pretty noisy.  I stood on the sidelines waving my hands yelling to get Kyle’s attention to show him where I was standing.  (Just in case he didn’t see me.)  Then mom chimed in and said, “Go up to him so he can see where you are.”  At that point, we both thought Kyle would dance with me, and let’s face it, I was excited!  So like an idiot, I went running across the lawn, in front of parents, teachers and the entire school of kids, with my arms flailing around as I was yelling “Kyle! Kyle!”

Just as I reached Kyle, in-the-nick-of-time before he chose someone, I wrapped my arms around him, startling the little package.  Granted, I know better, hugging him in front of the entire school was not accepted, but I couldn’t help myself.  Beside shooting me a big surprised look, he did give me one of his ornery grins.  Admittingly, I was sporting a huge smile on my overly energetic body.  I said, “Kyle are you going to let me dance with you?”  Like an idiot, I had it all planned out in my head, mom was on standby to take the video, and my dreams have finally come true.

Until he looked me square in the eye and said as a matter of factually, “No.” then he elbowed me to get away from him!  What?  Denied!  Are you kidding?  I was instantly removed from my fluffy dream of running through the green fields toward Kyle, only to end up spiraling down a black pit!  Did I take the wrong road?  Pick the wrong kid?

Nope, it was all true and was witnessed by some.  One being Kyle’s friend Luke’s mom, Sue.  Kyle picked his friend Logan, right in front of me!  Not knowing what to do next, I walked away with my head held low, in utter shock.  As I got to my mom all I could say was, “He told me no!”  Just then Sue busted out laughing.  Not that I can blame her.  I mean I looked pretty ridiculous running out there among the kids yelling, to only get turned down.

After the shock wore off, I found the humor in the entire situation, that I incidentally created for myself.  After all, Kyle never agreed to dance with me and there wasn’t anything in the rule books on the subject.  So, excepting the situation for what it was, I join Sue in the laughter.  By then, she was really busting a gut.  Of course, so was I when I did a play-by-play account of the last few minutes of my life, adding in the part when he elbowed me.  We were both dying!

This was a good story for the books!  No matter, if he wasn’t going to dance with me, I was going to make him.  Just to pay him back, as the entire class danced in the grass to YMCA, I got up and ran behind Kyle to bust a move.  He had no idea I was there until his friend pointed to me and Kyle turned around, with a mix of humor and horror on his face.  He did get a little red in the cheeks, but he couldn’t help laughing at me dancing and throwing my arms in the YMCA letters.

Putting this silliness aside, I am very proud of Kyle.  He just receive a letter from the school stating that after an evaluation of his work and test scores, he was going to move into advanced math next year.  Yep, so he will be a seventh grader taking ninth grade math!  I guess those flashcards I got him and worked with him when he was two, paid off.  Although that may have been a start, he always had the interest and intelligence to do math.  He worked hard for that accomplishment and it is all his.  Way to go buddy!  God Speed to you in junior high!

Maybe one day, the Heel Toe Dance will be mine!

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

Gone Fishing!

Each time you step off your path and give someone an act of kindness…then your road to happiness just to a little smoother.  ~Donna A. Favors


Marty, Jenny & Jimmy Singer beating the rain at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

This past weekend, yes Mother’s Day weekend, was the 24th Annual Louise Planinsek Fishing Derby.  This much anticipated event, is talked about and prepared for all year long.  It’s one of those activities that is automatically added to the calendar and you plan around, taking priority over everything else.

On a side note, happy late Mother’s Day to all those mother’s, guardians, role models, and anyone who has nurtured, raised and helped make a difference in the life of a child.


Kyle trying to crack a smile at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Friday night, me, mom and Kyle headed up to the Fishing Derby with our covered dishes.  I made brownies and Kyle requested my pasta salad.  We sat around the bonfire eating, drinking and chit chatting with everyone.  Some individuals I see every week in church, and some I see once a year.  Regardless, it’s always a good time with a great group of friends and family.

At this time, we usually pitch the tent, set up our camping gear and get out our fishing stuff.  However, this year I did not brave the rain and thunder storms.  I wimped out and broke the news to Kyle that we were going to be sleeping in our warm beds, under the protection of the roof.  He didn’t seem very thrilled with arrangement, but when he saw most others had the same idea, he reluctantly went along with the game plan.  Originally, Casey and his family invited Kyle to stay in their tent.  But with the threat of high winds, severe rains and thunder and lightening, camping indoors became the trend.  I can handle camping out when it’s cold and such, but when the skies are screaming and barreling in like a freight train, and the electricity is turning night into day, camping under trees on the ground is not not my cup of tea.  Although, Beth Planinsek informed me that everyone is instructed to camp out for the 25th Anniversary Fishing Derby next year.  For a special occasion like that one, I’m game and I’m sure Kyle won’t complain.


Dave (Boo) Planinsek, Shaun Rodgers, Jimmy Singer at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

The kids ran around playing dodge ball until it got dark, then they started playing tag.  Kyle came up to me and said, “Boy Aunt Heather, it gets hard to play tag in the dark, especially when I don’t have my glasses on.  Sometimes you have to tag someone even if you’re really not sure if they are playing or not.”  I laughed at that statement thinking, ‘Wonder who he tagged that wasn’t playing?’  I love seeing Kyle running around, playing with other kids, and I mean playing hard.  Abandoning all electronic devices and games and running in the mud and dirt with a game of old fashion tag.  That is what being a kid is all about!


Kyle finally caught a sun fish. Pappy is always on hand to help. Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Bob Dowler, longtime neighbor of the Planinsek’s, (his parents owned Sugarbush restaurant) made the popcorn in the big iron kettle on the fire.  The best popcorn ever!  Kyle assisted him in years past, but this year he was burning off a year’s worth of energy.  Eddie who was seated by mom administered the bag and Lori managed the salt.  They cracked me up!  That family is too much!

Before long, mom and I wanted to call it a night, yet we didn’t want to put a damper on Kyle’s fun, so I took mom home and had Kyle call me when he was ready.   Sure enough, as soon as I got home, which was only a five minute drive, Kyle called and said he was ready.  So back up over the ridge I drove, to pick up my little package.  Not that I mind at all.  He was getting out in the fresh air and hanging with a good bunch of kids.


Jimmy, Nina & Lisa hanging out at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

While winding down for the evening, Kyle instructed us that we, were to be up at 6:00 am, allowing us enough time to get ready and be back at the Planinsek Pavilion when breakfast was served at 7:00 am.  No worries, we are all morning people and usually I get up between 5:00 am and 6:00 am every day, anyway.  The hardest part of the evening was getting my “cruddy” nephew into the shower before he fell asleep in front of the fireplace.


Kyle pouting while Olivia looks on. Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Reluctantly, Kyle got up a little after 6:00 am, with some assistance from my dad and the dogs.  He was tried!  All the cool air and running around really knocked him down, in a good way.  Slowly but surely, we packed up the car and headed to our all day destination.  Mom and dad, who were really slow moving, met us later.

Earlier in the week, dad purchased Kyle’s bait so once we packed up the car we were good to go.  Before departing, Dad gave Kyle direction where to set up his fishing spot, to the left of the pond.  We were ready!

Once 8:00 am rolled around, all the activity from the night before resumed, kids buzzing around, adults gabbing and shooting the breeze, people eating and setting up their fishing spots.    Love the Fishing Derby!


Casey holding son Owen Olczak. Dave (Boo) in the background at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

The Derby officially starts at 9:00 am.  As part of the announcements, they gave a moment of silence to Robert Scavnicky, “Bobby”.  He pass away on December 15, 2012 at the age of 60.  They gave a very nice heartfelt account of Bobby’s life and his contributions to the Fishing Derby.  Being a member of Sacred Heart Church, and living on the Planinsek ridge, I knew Bobby.  Mostly in passing and to see him at the Fishing Derby and other local events.  He was always a truly nice guy.  That’s what I can sincerely say, he was a nice guy, very warming and welcoming and laid back.  Mom and dad knew him well and have always talked highly of him.  I can see why.  In fact, technically Bobby was my mom’s step brother, if you will.  His mom was married to my grandpap Chester for a brief period of time before he passed away in 1980.


Kids are braving the rain to catch their trophy rainbow trout! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Bobby’s sister Michele was part of the attendance.  At one point, Michele and mom were talking and mom commented that Michele used to babysit me when I was little.  Michele said with conviction, “O I remember this one, I don’t really remember the other ones but I remember Heather!”  Yikes!  Was I that bad?  Michele said I would cry a lot and I never wanted to be separated from my mommy.  That’s too funny, I was a mommy’s girl!   Mom said it wasn’t until about second grade did I become independent and I remained that way since.  I guess the big bad scary world was a bit too much for me to handle at first, until I got used to it.

While I’m still on the subject of Bobby, Friday night while sitting around the campfire, Mick, mom and me were shooting the breeze and we started talking about dates of those who have passed.  Fun topic of conversation I know, but it is what it is.  Lori interjected with dates that no one could remember.  Boy she is good!  We talked about my Uncle Walter and Aunt Mary Olczak, Casey’s grandparents, who passed in 1993 and 2002 respectively.  My Aunt Mary was a Planinsek, so that’s another branch of the tree that intertwines the Planinsek’s through marriage.


Ryan Hiles accepting his trophy from Dave Planinsek, for the largest rainbow trout at the Planinsek Fishing Derby Congratulations! 5/11/13

Naturally, Ryan always comes up in these conversations.  He passed away on October 23, 2001, being 24 years-old.  Mom commented to Mick that Nicholas, Bobby’s son, came to Ryan’s burial and stopped up at the house to help unload food and such, wanting to help out.  Really?  You know, sometimes I think I completely stepped out during that time, because there was a lot that happened and a ton of people around that I truly don’t remember.  Mom said he came down to the house right after we left the cemetery.  Sincerely, I have absolutely no recollection of him being there.  Still, I am grateful for the support!  Little acts of caring and sincerity can really make an impact on a person, even nearly 12 years later.  Thanks Nicholas!  I guess Bobby was able to instill some good attributes in his kid.

Now, getting back to the announcements.  Just before reviewing the rules of the fishing derby, it started to rain.  They blew the bugle and then it was a downpour.  In all honesty, I thought all the kids were going to take off for shelter and skip the fishing.  Nope!  These are tough ridgers!  All the kids stood in the rain, along side their parents, friends and relatives fishing.  It went on for a few hours because before I noticed it, it was around noon!  The rain was cold and continued off and on for most of the morning.  No one really cared how muddy they were getting, or how wet.  They were catching fish and having fun!

Casey’s family fished to our right including Grant and Olivia.  Little baby Owen was nearly a year old, so maybe next year little Olczak can participate.


I handed dad my umbrella. The pink polka dots really make it! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Dad mostly helped Kyle, who as tradition dictates was difficult at first.  He keeps making excuses for not casting right, and not catching anything and on and on and on.  At one point, I thought dad might throw Kyle in the pond.  Not literally, but he was pushing our buttons.  Saying Kyle was being difficult is me being nice.  His attitude was out of control, he needs to listen to what he’s being told and not assume he knows everything.  Plus he needs to be patient!  He has to realize that every time you cast your line in the water, you might not get a fish.  Apparently Kyle didn’t get the memo but I’m here to say, that’s part of the sport!

A little while later, Lisa Singer or her Sister Nina Enfinger came up to me to check in and shoot the breeze.  She said, “It would be nice if Kyle won.”  What a sweet comment, after all, almost all of the kids present, were her nieces, nephews and cousins.  To be concerned for Kyle was way too nice!   I turned to her and said, “I don’t, not with the way he’s acting.”  She understood where I was coming from, no judgement placed!  I certainly want Kyle to do good and win, but I don’t want him to be rewarded for acting like a spoiled brat.

Eventually, Kyle did manage to catch a small sun fish.  He was more thrilled that he was no longer in the category of ‘not catching anything’, over actually catching the fish, even if the fish was not impressive, not even good enough for the frying pan.  I’m was just happy he was happy.

I will admit, later after dad had enough of Kyle’s complaining and attitude, and once we took a lunch break, Kyle tried his had at fishing again.  This time he was like a different person.  He was being good, listening and fishing better.  His casting was getting pretty good, his patience was stabilizing and his attitude was now sportsmanlike.  Maybe it had something to do with me telling him, his pappy left because he was fed up with his behavior.  Kyle was in shock.  It never occurred to him that dad wasn’t going to listen to him all day.  Maybe that’s what he needed to straighten him up.

The day moved along as it always does with a lot of food, drinks and conversation.  In order to cover all costs, ensuring the Fishing Derby continues year after year, they raffle off prizes and such.  I won a ceramic 2013 Planinsek Fishing Derby mug, which I realized as I was writing this blog that I left it there.  Note to self, I will need to try and retrieve it!


Kids are anxiously waiting for their names to be drawn to pick a prize! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

There is a 50/50 raffle and the day doesn’t come to an end until the children’s raffle.  Throughout the day, parents and kids alike put a ticket in for a kid with their name on it.  All the prizes are on display.  Once a name is called, the child claims their prize until all the toys and such are gone or all the tickets have been drawn.

During this time, I will shout of my pride in Kyle.  With all that went on during first part of the day, Kyle really redeemed himself.  Without me saying anything and only noticing through observation, Kyle began to pick out toys for Grant.  He wanted to get him prizes that he would like.  Kyle even told Grant to go to the table and pick something out, on Kyle’s turn.  I stood there off to the side, unbeknownst to Kyle and watched the giving pour forth from my little man!   Boy that kid can act like an ungrateful spoiled child one minute, and a sincerely giving little man the next!  Maybe he is listening to us after all.


The rain couldn’t deter these fisherman from their trophy rainbow trout! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/11/13

Then to really steal my heart, as his name was called yet again, Kyle looked around and gave his turn to one of the Enfinger kids because at that point the little boy only had one prize.  What?  Love was just overflowing from my heart toward Kyle’s small actions.  As I’ve always told Kyle, it’s the thought and the intent that really count!  Personally, I was just impressed that he thanked Casey for putting in more tickets on his behalf.

Then, the acts of kindness don’t just stop there, he picked up this kitchen utensil, brought it to me and said, “This is for Gigi”.  What a sweetheart!  He also assigned a few prizes for others, beside himself.  That’s what being part of a family is about.  That’s also what good sportsmanship and being a good person means!

The day was a success!  This year the new record came in the form of a brother and sister team.  Ryan Hiles caught a 23 inch rainbow trout and his sister Jenny, who was fishing right beside Kyle, caught a 12 and three quarters inch large mouth bass.  Great job guys!  Can’t wait for next year!  The 25th Annual Louise Planinsek Fishing Derby!

Read about last years Fishing Derby Want to Go Fishing? 




posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have Comments (2)

SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.  ~Aristotle

Kyle-Piper-smile-SpyRing Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle sporting his SpyRing Gear c. 2011

Kyle, my nephew has always had good grades for the most part, specifically having a fascination and an attachment for math. When he was a little tike, around three years old, I bought him addition and subtraction flash cards. My thinking was, “What’s the harm? So he might learn something”. He did! Kyle loved those flash cards and he loved to learn.  He wanted to push his knowledge and show it off. Subtraction was a little more challenging but he certainly enjoyed the attention he was receiving from me and the idea of learning. What a little a sponge! I know I’m probably being bias, but Kyle was always pretty bright. He’s a logical thinker, which I still see to this day.

When Kyle was in second grade, his report card grades dropped across the board one quarter. I knew he was smarter than that, and I was not going to stand back and let this situation become his new standard, nor was I going to idly stand-by while his future education was being compromised.  Really?  Did anyone think I was going to accept his grades as they stood?  Did Kyle really think he could fool me when he said he was “Trying his hardest?”  Nope, nope and heck no!  I knew better and I believed in Kyle! Unfortunately, being Kyle’s aunt I don’t have complete privilege to his teachers or daily homework, only once a week and on the weekends.  Roadblock!

To be honest, I was utterly sick over the situation. It was that bad! Not to mention I had no idea why. There had to be a reason for such a sudden change. I asked Kyle if things were good in school, or if there was bullying going on, or anything. He really had no idea what I was talking about.  He felt bad that I was really upset over his grades but he was also basically saying “O well, I tried my hardest.”  That is until I grounded him.  Boy did he change his tone.  It’s amazing what taking away video games and TV time will do to an attitude.  I never did find the reason for the sudden downward spike in grades, but we did get past it.

Aunt Heather Piper SpyRing Trade Show CA

Me at the CA Baby & Kids Expo, LA CA 1/21/12

Granted I know the days of Kyle learning for fun were over, or wore they?  Now me being me, I decided to take this upon myself and help this child out. I’ve always purchased workbooks for Kyle and helped him uncover the knowledge in the pages.  He used to love them, but the times-were-a-changing, he was giving me resistance with workbooks and flash cards. Yikes! It started to build up fights between us, unnecessary ones.  The last thing I wanted was for Kyle to really hate school and learning.  I also didn’t want there to be constant struggles with our time together, which was a huge concern of my mom’s.  Mom was the one who kept saying, “You need to make it more fun for him.”

Since Kyle is a logical thinker, usually explaining things to him helps to turn on his light bulb.  Not this time.  I explained why I was requiring him to do the extra work.  I even threatened him saying the school was going to hold him back if his grades didn’t improve by the next quarter. And to be honest, if his grades kept up in that direction, it could have happened, especially since he was the youngest in his grade.  For the school, that would have been a logical step.  Nope!  Not on my watch. He was bright and he certainly could do the work without much effort.  I will admit Kyle was lazy when it comes to school work, only doing what is needed and going through it half way. I’m guessing he’s not alone in that manner, but I’m not responsible for other children, or so I thought initially.

SpyRing-CA-Baby-&-Kids-Expo-1-21-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Nicole at the CA Baby & Kids Expo LA, CA 1/21/12

During this time, we went to visit my sister, who lives in the D.C. Metro area. Like every visit, we always do something new in Washington, D.C. This time we decided to go into the Spy Museum. Wow, that was cool! I really enjoyed reading about the spies and seeing the spy “tools” or what I like to call them, spy toys. My sister, dad and my mom walked through, reading and taking in the knowledge displayed everywhere, while Kyle and I acted like spies ourselves. The museum had an air-duct type of display, allowing visitors to climb in and spy on the people below.  We had a field day!  When possible, I would read the information displayed on the walls.  Sometimes Kyle would stand still long enough for me to read to him and explain the story at hand.  I must say Kyle made the museum more exciting.

Well, needless to say that visit sparked an idea, unbeknownst to me at the time, that would turn into something a lot bigger.  From that moment on, the wheels were in motion for the birth of SpyRing.

SpyRing was originally created as a scavenger hunt for Kyle.  I designed it to reinforce school subjects in a fun and interactive way.  Kyle and I would take Scooby up in the woods, (Seven was not apart of the family yet) and we packed our book bags with the spy essentials and headed out on our missions.  We would make our way through the woods and track our progress by creating a map of our travels.  Along the way, I made up questions that led to other questions.  Kyle answered the trivia and occasionally he would pull out his binoculars or something he brought along to really play out the spy story.  We both had a blast!  The scavenger hunt not only reinforced what was being taught in school, but it also got Kyle off his backside to stretch his legs.  This relatively simple action with a little effort, not only helped  to create the SpyRing scavenger hunt, but it helped to build our bond.  I was no more, ‘Mean Aunt Heather making me do all this extra work’.  I was ‘Fun Aunt Heather who loved hanging out and learning was something fun’.

Ethan-Kyle-Piper-enjoy-SpyRing Aunt Heather Piper

Ethan & Kyle playing with the SpyRing cards 2011

It wasn’t until my cousin Casey and I took Kyle snowboarding that the idea to take SpyRing to the marketplace really became a serious thought.  I remember distinctly Casey saying, “Why don’t you sell the game?” At that point it was a custom scavenger hunt made specifically for Kyle. I knew I needed to develop it into a game for all kids no matter where they lived. My goal was to allow other kids to reap in the benefits of learning in a fun and interactive way.  During this time, it was interesting to run into other parents and listen to them discuss their child’s struggles and challenges in school.  This is when I knew I could help.

Suddenly it hit me like a ton bricks! I woke up one morning and I knew how to make the game assessable for all children with a reasonably low cost investment. God must have been working overtime to plant these ideas in my head.  Knowing initially it was going to be a card game, I went to work on actually developing the structure, build the contents and establish the design.  Kyle worked with me on the development of the game, even helping to create some of the questions.  Throughout the process I tested Kyle’s skills on ALL the information.  Pretty amazing, I set out to help Kyle with his schoolwork and we were doing just that, intensified.  I must say it was a fun process.  Kyle was apart of something bigger.  He knew it and he loved it every step of the way.  This is when Kyle’s business side of the brain was revealed.

By the next report card, Kyle’s grades had jumped.  Some grades where back to where they began and others were slowing moving up.  Kyle was proud of himself and now understood what needed to be done and how to do it.  Or least what I expected from him.  I believe without setting expectations, children will not know what to strive for and the right direction they need to move towards.  You see I believe parents are like coaches.  They know how to push their players to get them to strive for excellence.  That is their job as coach, to never settle for average or ‘just ok’.  They need to know the limitations of their players, but also know how to overcome them.  However, coaches also know how to work with their players and set them up for success.  It certainly takes effort from both parties to make this happen but when the game has been won, everyone benefits.  Children should be respected and shown they are important and smart.  They should also be given the opportunity to learn, excel and shine in this world.

SpyRing logo w BP Aunt Heather Piper

Sometime during the developmental stage of SpyRing, I was discussing the game with my sister.  She instantly loved the idea and believed in the goal, to help reinforce education for children. She went to work and started The Piper Corporation with the flagship product being SpyRing. As of now SpyRing is an interactive card game of questions and answers, however we are now developing the SpyRing scavenger hunt, as it was originally created.  Thrill of the Hunt, another division of The Piper Corporation will be hosting a SpyRing scavenger hunt called Your Passport to Education this Saturday at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, PA.  A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to help rebuild Playland!  Stop by!

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

Pushing for Excellence

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts

What is the limit for pushing someone? When is too much, too much? When you care for someone, is there a limit? Should there be a limit? I guess these are very broad questions that should be narrowed down slightly.

Aunt Heather Piper with Kyle Piper in the hospital

My little man had pneumonia but still loved his flash cards

I love Kyle very very very much, pure and simple!  There will never be a time in which that will ever change. Absolutely, never! So getting that out of the way… Do I push Kyle too much? Knowing that Kyle is a smart, bright and outgoing little man who craves attention and has a ton of potential, is it so wrong to push him to excellence and set his standards high?

Kyle Piper and Nicole Piper at Air and Space Museum

Kyle with his Aunt Nikki at the Air & Space Museum 6/27/09

I don’t think so. When Kyle was two years old, I bought him flash cards containing words, colors, numbers, letters and such. He Rocked at them! Not only did he pick up on the basic information, but he really enjoyed playing flash cards with me. Then, by the time Kyle was three years old, I decided to pick up addition and subtraction flash cards. I mean, why not? What’s it going to hurt? I showed him how to add using his matchbox cars as an example and all I can say is WOW! He picked up on the addition so fast, or at least better than I expected, keeping in mind that I’m no expert at raising a kid. But, in my mind, Kyle was doing really well. And more importantly, he enjoyed the flash cards and being challenged. Subtraction was a bit more difficult, but he still seemed to want to learn. Then, by the time he was four years old, I decided to start purchasing workbooks. I intentionally purchased workbooks that were targeted for ages five and up in all subjects. He loved them! The more challenging the books, the more I would see him think and figure out the problems. His little gears were grinding. Being able to participate in such a learning process was truly amazing and a blessing.

Looking back on it now, it seems like such a long time ago.  Kyle is no longer enthused about workbooks, flashcards or even taking a walk with me, which he really enjoyed until a few years ago. I know he is growing up and tastes change, but I believe there are some things that should remain consistent, like education.  Of course that’s where SpyRing comes into play, literally.  It’s an educational card game for children that focuses on reading and reading comprehension coupled with all school subjects.  I can get that later.

Kyle Piper and his piano recital 5-17-09

Kyle's piano recital 5/17/09

In going through Kyle’s workbooks this weekend, I realized that he doesn’t like to do them, but it does help to sit and work along side him.  He started enjoying them and showing off what he remembered from last year, even though it took me a little over an hour to get him to sit down and do my assigned work.  I kept hearing, “Why, Aunt Heather? Why do I have to do extra work?” and, “I already did my school work, so why do I have to do more?”  Imagine that, in the most annoying whine possible coming from a ten year old.  Of course, every time he said something, I tried to explain that I’m only helping him out and it’s good practice.  But that seemed to give him permission to start the whine recital all over again.  I try to explain that it’s not a punishment, it’s a reward to learn.  Of course, he’s a ten year old that just sees… work.

Well, like I tell Kyle time and time again, “I invented stubborn and I’m not giving up on you.”  I guess that’s part of my job.  Am I the only one who give additional work?  Does anyone else have a child that likes to whine?

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments
%d bloggers like this: