Pumpkin Guts, No Thanks

Tis “the witching time of night”, / Orbed is the moon and bright, / And the stars they glisten, glisten, / Seeming with bright eyes to listen  ~John Keats

Happy Halloween or technically All Hallows’ Eve!

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Kyle as Jay Jay the Jet Plane, courtesy of Aunt Nikki at Gigi & Pappy’s house 10/2004

Did you know the root word of Halloween is ”hallow,” meaning ”holy?”  The suffix “een” is an abbreviation of “evening.” Halloween refers to the Eve of All Hallows, the night before All Saints’ Day, the Catholic Holy day that honors saints of the past and a time to pray for those in purgatory.  Note, anyone can pray for anyone, living or deceased at any time.

Just for a reference, All Saints’ Day is November 1st, followed by All Souls’ day on November 2nd.

It’s always this time of year, when I see the pumpkin patches full of kids and Jack-O-Lanterns light up doorsteps and windows that I can’t help but chuckling.  Why?  Kyle of course.

When Kyle was a little tyke, and into the recent few years before he gave up on the trick-or-treating tradition, pumpkin carving was always an issue.  Really?  You bet!

Kyle loved searching the pumpkin patches for the perfect pumpkin.  He loved selecting the largest pumpkin imaginable, even when he couldn’t pick it up.  Kyle truly loved the idea of Halloween and the activities that went with the holiday, event pumpkin carving.  However, Kyle never liked the actual carving of a pumpkin, not in the slightest.  Don’t believe me or think I’m exaggerating?  Not even close.

Halloween activities were never the same since the first time Kyle tried carving his pumpkin.  The moments leading up to this point where exciting and eventful.  It was all good and dandy until Kyle actually put his hand in the pumpkin.  As standard protocol dictates, I cut the top off of our pumpkins, Kyle wanted me to have a pumpkin too, and I showed him how to pull the guts out.  Kyle looked down into the center of his pumpkin, sniffed it, and hesitantly reached in.  What happened next took me by surprise and honestly baffled me a bit.

Kyle proclaimed he didn’t like the feeling of the guts on his hand and he wouldn’t continue.  Instead, he looked toward me to do his dirty work for him, literally.  At first, I thought he was being silly, but he was serious.

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Kyle as Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Karen’s house 10/2004

After my shock wore off, I tried to work with Kyle and his pumpkin gut issue.  I gave him a long handled metal serving spoon to scrap the guts.  I thought this would get him past the beginning stages of the pumpkin carving activity and move him toward the actual carving fun.  Something I thought Kyle would enjoy.  Wrong.

Eventually, after I gutted my pumpkin, Kyle abandoned his and took ownership of my project.  He had a good time carving, but certainly not complete excitement like I was expecting.

Every year since, Kyle remembered that faithful day, and reiterated his disgust for pumpkin guts.  It really left an impression on him.  Kyle would prompt our pumpkin patch activity by telling me I had to gut his pumpkin.  Seriously!  Yes.  While walking through the pumpkin patch and making his selection, which always had to be bigger than mine, Kyle would state I was gutting his pumpkin for him.

Trying to get creative, I even had Kyle wear gloves one year, which worked out fine until his bare arms hit the side of the inner pumpkin wall and that ended that.  I should also add, Kyle never liked long sleeves, or cloths for that matter.

I even tried bribing him, yet he would not budge.

Another tradition is taking the seeds and roasting them with a little salt.  Kyle would not even entertain the idea of sorting through the pumpkin guts to retrieve the seeds.  He did eat the roasted pumpkin seeds, but that was about it.

Eventually, we would purchase pumpkins and Kyle would draw faces on them, and watch me carve my pumpkin.  Although, that didn’t really keep his interest for too long.  But I will say, Kyle loved watching the lit pumpkins sit on the porch banister at night.  Standing outside at night, staring upon the flicker light in the shape of a face would creep him out, but he loved it  That is, as long as someone stood with him.

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Kyle as Jay Jay the Jet Plane. 10/2004

This time of year makes me laugh out loud, every time I think of Kyle carving a pumpkin, or more accurately passing the carving buck.  Kyle was never shy about telling others about his pumpkin gut aversion.  Too funny!

As for the rest of the commercially celebrated Halloween celebration, Kyle adored.  The selecting a costume, getting dressed and receiving bag fulls of candy he could handle.

I say that, but there was a year that wasn’t exactly true.  The year when Kyle was Jay Jay the Jet Plane.  Would you believe Kyle wouldn’t put his costume on?  Why?  He thought he was going to take flight.  Seriously?  I’m not making this up.

My sister bought him that costume and it took a few attempts before he would put it on.  The first few Halloween activities we did that year, I had to walk around holding Kyle’s hand on my one side, while I carried his costume in the other hand.  That was one of those situations when I couldn’t stop laughing.  Eventually, he did wear the colorful costume, but it took a while, and I think it was after Halloween pasted.

My little guy, he has his quarks, which makes life interesting and fun.

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

Headless Horseman … Favorite Halloween Story

There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.  ~Washington Irving
Kyle-and-Gram-Halloween-2002-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle a.k.a. the lion on his 1st Halloween (actually his 2nd for we didn’t take him trick-or-treating after Ryan’s passing) with Gram Alice, who’s scarier? 10/2002

Ever since I was a little tyke, I’ve always loved Halloween.  Obviously, at that time I enjoyed the trick-or-treating, and as I got older I participated in bagging (a Latrobe Halloween tradition) Halloween of Years Past.  Soon after, Halloween took on a partying feel as an adult and then back to the beginning with trick-or-treating, now only as an accomplice to my little monster, as Kyle became a part of my life.

I didn’t properly introduced Kyle to the act of bagging only because he never really cared for such activities like I did.  There are many other ways to enjoy the holiday, and yes, Halloween is a holy day of obligation.  Besides trick-or-treaking and getting dressed and gorging on candy and hopefully making it to mass, Halloween is celebrated through movies!  Just turn on the television and Halloween is repeated over and over, same as years past.

Yes, I will admit, I do look forward to the Halloween classics, which I don’t give a second thought to any other time of the year.  Like what?  There was a time when I got caught up in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and Poltergeist and the Halloween series.  Then, there’s the real classics likes Psycho and the Exorcist, again I love any story based off of truth.  But not all movies have to be that scary, and yes I do consider those scary.  They might be old classics by now, but they still provoke a nightmare or too when the lights are out.  I love Hokus Pokus and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein and Monster Squad.  The Addams Family Values is a great one that brings back my love of the original television show the Addams Family. I was such a fan, that I named my cat Morticia.

Mario-Crew-for-Halloween-2011-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Mario & crew for Halloween. Front: Nick as Mario & Kyle as Bowser (yes I made that entire costume!) Back: Holly as Luigi & me as red shy guy. 2011

Although my personal all time favorite Halloween story is the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  You know, the story of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman.  I’ve always been fascinated with the creepy faceless (headless to be exact) rider, terrorizing the night on a dark horse.  Sure, I too like the other scarey stories of haunted houses and poltergeists, but something about the headless horseman has always fascinated me.   Perhaps it’s the history associated with it, a small town post American Revolution in the 1790’s (I’ve always been a history buff); or it’s because the story is based off of real life with the elements of fiction sewn into the storyline.  That’s my favorite, when stories could very well be real, especially when the author, in this case Washington Irving, used real names of actual people and landmarks to describe his story, a real place in New York.  Maybe it’s because the story is a bit of folklore and a legend, remade over and over again in movies and cartoons, making its appearance every Halloween; OR perhaps it’s because the setting is in the woods, a place of perceived solitude, mystery and wonder, one of my favorite places to regain my thoughts.  My guess?  It’s the combination of all of the above that intrigues me, making the Legend of Sleepy Hollow my favorite.

Knowing all that, it’s certainly no secret that one of my best-loved Halloween movies is Sleepy Hollow with Johnny Depp Oooh I like Johnny Depp!  I mean the story of the headless horseman AND Johnny Depp ALL in one movie!  A win win in my opinion.  It’s my choice of style for a movie, suspense and creepy, yet no obvious gore and unnecessary language or adult situations, a clean scary story.  I’m not a big fan of blood and guts and excess violence.  Sure there might have been a time when I looked for all the stage show, but not really any more, I prefer the simpler things.  When it comes to scary movies, I believe less is more.  Like Jaws, you know from the sound of the music playing that the shark was approaching or going to strike, yet you didn’t see a lot of anything.  Now that’s suspense!  Totally scary in my opinion.

Yes, I am aware there is a show on television called Sleepy Hollow, again based off of the legend, along with their own creative interpretations.  One would think I would be all over that show, but alas I don’t watch much television, and I never was able to get into it.  Maybe I like to save the headless horseman strictly for Halloween, it makes it special and something to look forward to.

What kind of scary does Kyle like to watch?  None.  I mean that, he couldn’t even handle watching a preview for The Conjuring or The Woman in Black with Kyle’s favorite Danielle Radcliffe, Mr. Harry Potter himself.  Nope.  Kyle won’t even entertain the idea, and has to turn his head when he sees a commercial or a preview playing containing something scary, forget the blood and guts!  I’ll admit Kyle will watch Sleepy Hollow with me and movies like The Dark Knight, but that’s the extent of his “scary” movie interest.  Nothing wrong with that, I’d rather he protects his mind from unnecessary fright and evil.

My sister on the other hand was the reason I saw movies like Children of the Corn, Pet Cemetery and It as a kid.  She used to read the master of horror, Stephen King himself.  That’s probably the biggest difference between those two.   Nicole looks for ghosts and Kyle chooses to ignore any idea of such scary things.     

No matter what type of scary is your favorite, if any, I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!

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

Halloween? Not This Year

Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on.  ~River Phoenix
Halloween-Crew-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c1996

Matt, me, Kim & Glen. What a crew! c.1996

This was the scariest of all Halloweens, combined!  Something happened that actually took my breath away and caused my heart to skip a few beats.  It was truly horrible!

What was my Halloween nightmare?   Kyle didn’t want to dress up!  The horror of it all!  He didn’t even want to go trick-or-treating!  What kid doesn’t want free candy?  I don’t even know an adult who wouldn’t pass up candy.  Granted, I know Kyle is in the seventh grade, and he is twelve years old, but to not participate in Halloween?  I am saddened.

It started a few months ago when I asked Kyle what he wanted to be for Halloween, not thinking he didn’t want to be apart of it.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Umm I don’t know.”  Basically, Kyle was blowing me off.  After all these years of Halloween planning and sewing and gluing and painting.  It’s over!

I knew the day would eventually come, but I didn’t mentally prepare myself.  If I was really smart and caught onto his procrastination and avoiding the topic when I mentioned Halloween costumes, I wouldn’t have been faced with my fear.  At the very least it wouldn’t have blindsided me.  Kyle is growing up and fast!  Actually, I had a backup plan for this occasion, but this scenario took me completely by surprise, I didn’t have time to react.  And now Halloween is upon us.

Halloween-at-Toads-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Cara Mia as Prince, Mike Howell as Charlie Brown & Melissa Lincoln as a nurse at Mr. Toads in Greensburg c. 1997

I guess there is always next year.  I did get to watch Sleepy Hallow, the one with Johnny Depp.  Out of all the Halloween characters and stories told from old to young, I love the story of the headless horseman the best.  My favorite!  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved any cartoon or show that involved Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman.

Anyway, what was my mystery plan?  Bagging, of course!  What is bagging you may ask?  It’s as simple as corning!  You know when you get field corn and throw it at passing cars and houses.  I know I’ve mentioned corning a time or two before, but I’ll reiterate.  Bagging is done usually by kids or young adults who want to participate in trick-or-treating but are frowned upon because they are too old.  Hence, bagging!  Really a genius way to keep the Halloween spirit for the older in number, yet young at heart.

To participate in said activity, one must get a brown paper bag, you know the kind they used to give out at grocery stores.  Then, one must decorate the bag and be clever with their Halloween message.  Example: Please feed the hungry ghosts.  or  Place all candy inside the bag. or  I’m a monster who’s afraid of the dark, feed me! and so on and so forth.  What doesn’t get you the candy is ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t give me your candy.’  That might land you a night in jail instead of an evening sorting candy and falling into chocolate bliss.  And profanity is never an appropriate option.  So yes, decorate your bag tastefully but have fun with the project.

Now what?  First, one must dress in ninja form.  Yes, all black to blend in with the shadows.  Wearing a stylish yet functional black beret can be an option, as well as black combat boots to handle the terrain and to avoid sprains.  Nothings worse than a injured bagger.  It holds up the entire group and does not make for an enjoyable Halloween experience.

How do you get candy in said bag?  Sneak up on porch with a light on, indicating they are armed with candy and place decorated brown paper bag in front of the door.  Be sure to take into account the swing of the door so your bag is not knocked over, yet make it easy enough for the gatekeeper of the candy to pass along their sugary gold.  Then, the part that causes the most excitement.  The moment of the adrenaline rush.  The moment you’ve been waiting for, ring the door bell and run!

Halloween-Crew-Silly-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c1996

Matt, me, Kim & Glen… what a bunch of freaks! But we had a blast! c. 1996

Run?  Really?  O YES!  Hide in the local bushes so you can monitor your carefully decorated bag.  This is where the professionals stand out from the amateurs.  A good bagger already has their hiding place mapped out prior to ringing the doorbell.   Tip number one, scout out the area before moving in.

Do you always get candy?  Well, no not really.  There have been times I’ve received toothpaste, scotch tape, fruit (which I’m fine with) and sometimes nothing at all.  There have been times the worst happens, they take your bag!  But again, if you are a professional, you would have come with a spare.  Tip number two, bring back up bags.

As you move along through the night, you might want to protect the treasures you have already collected.  After all, one house could result in total loss of booty.  Tip number three, bring a bag to place all goods in before bagging a house.  The most efficient would be a book bag, keeping your arms free and your treasures zipped in tight to your back.  One should always bag a house with an empty bag, in case of a capture, as previously stated above.

Holding a bag hostage or just plain stolen is a very real concern!  Think it won’t happen to you?  Guess again!  Never under estimate the old lady or perfect little family down the street.  They all have the ability to throw a monkey wrench in your Halloween candy collecting fun.  For all you know, behind that perfectly inviting front door could be a stack of confiscated bags from baggers of all walks of life.

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Me as a geek for Halloween! I pulled it off pretty good! c. 1996

Another concern, that has happened a time or two.  The people in the house may chase you!  Yes, there have been times when bagging has cause high speed pursuit throughout the shadows of the night.  Tip number four, always have a meeting place in case of separation due to a crazed tracker.

Yes, this year I should have planned better and Kyle and I could have gone bagging.  The only problem, I’ve only ever heard of bagging in the Latrobe area, and that was years ago in my bagging days.  No one else will know what we were doing or what to do.  Maybe we should start up the tradition in surrounding locations.  We could place specific instructions on the bag until everyone became accustomed to the idea.  Or even better, I could create a direct mail campaign alerting the neighborhoods of the activity and how to appropriately address the bag left on the doorstep.  The wheels are turning!

Everyone should keep the spirit of Halloween alive and try bagging!  It really is a lot of fun!

Happy Halloween!

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

Halloween Takes A Turn!

Pixie, kobold, elf, and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon’s silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.  ~Joel Benton

Ah yes another Halloween is upon us, and it’s snowing!  I love the snow!

Incredibles Heather Piper-Aunt Heather Piper

Elastic Girl (me) Dash (Kyle). Yep I made these costumes. They were the best outfits ever! 10/2005

Something was different about this Halloween season, I guess it was Kyle.  He really wasn’t into it.  Usually we talk about his costume months before hand and I help him plan the theme of the year.  Not this time.  He was blasé about the holiday.  Kind of depressing but expected since he’s getting older.  I will admit I wasn’t all about Halloween either, unlike Halloween of Years Past.  Being so busy and wrapped up in other things made the months slipped past, including October.  In fact, this is the first year in a long time I didn’t do anything for Halloween, no trick-or-treating, no parades, no parties, no corn mazes and really no scary movies.  The only movies we watched that could be considered Halloween themed were Sleepy Hallow, Coraline and Dark Shadows.

Maybe I’m the one who’s finally maturing.  After all I wasn’t bugging Kyle about his costume as I did formerly.  Or was it that I sensed Kyle’s disinterest in Halloween that held me back?  Either way it was certainly a milestone year.  I will admit I do enjoy creating themes.  It’s more fun that way, also more challenging.  I still remember Kyle’s first Halloween costume.  Technically, Kyle missed his first Halloween.  He was three months old and we just lost his dad, my brother, nine days prior.  That Halloween, I didn’t participate in any of the festivities, I didn’t dress Kyle up or take him out, I just wanted to stay at home with Kyle and my family.  By the following Halloween, Kyle was fifteen months old and my sister wanted to get him his costume, since she lived in Tucson and wanted to contribute.  He was a lion and I was a lion tamer.  The costume list goes on and on but the best year was when I made our costumes and we were The Incredibles.  Kyle was Dash and I was Elastic Girl.  While gathering our candy Kyle said to me, “Aunt Heather they don’t know we are really not the Incredibles!”  As he flashed a very happy smile my way.  That’s my favorite part, teaming up with Kyle and working with him on a theme and the two of us getting it together and being creative!

Although, I will admit the year he chose be Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars was a classic!  Mom surprised him with the costume because that’s all he was talking about.  I remember stopping down mom and dad’s that Friday night to find Kyle dressed in his outfit, mask and all, sitting in his rocking chair watching TV.  It was actually kind of creepy.  He wouldn’t take the costume off!  Mom said that he was so excited he put it on right away and was wearing it since.  We did manage to get it off of him to go to bed, but it went right back on the next morning.  Plus, he had a light-saber!  I guess it doesn’t get much better then that.  While we were trick-or-treating most people were commenting on his costume and Kyle loved it!  He thought he was so cool and tough.

Kyle as Anakin Skywalker-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle as Anakin Skywalker. He wore it all weekend and wouldn’t take it off.

The first I heard about Kyle’s desire to be anything for this Halloween was about a week or two ago.  He said he wanted to be Harry Potter.  I didn’t think it was original but if that’s what he wanted, then great!  Maybe I could be Hermine.  Usually, when Kyle approaches me about a costume it means he wants me to make it, but alas I was out of time.  So mom found the get up online, which I would venture to be easy since it is a popular one.  But next thing I know, Kyle had a scare crow costume that actually looked like a hillbilly or a moonshiner.  Maybe next year I’ll teach Kyle all about going bagging and corning since he seems to be out of the age for trick-or-treating.

Bagging!  Not a lot of people have heard of it, in fact I don’t think anyone outside of Latrobe has ever heard of such a fun event.  Simply, it’s when you get a brown paper bag and add a sign to it like ‘I’m Dying for a Treat’.  Then, you place the bag on a person’s doorstep, ring the doorbell and hide.  The recipient is suppose to place treats in your brown bag.  You wait for them to close the door before retrieving your brown bag and move onto the next house.  I talked about in Halloween of Years Past.  I know this doesn’t sound like fun, but it really is!!  What makes it exciting, besides getting dressed up in all black like a cat burglar, is when the they give crazy gifts like toothpaste or a rock.  It makes it so much fun and gives great stories to talk about years down the road.

Kyle scarecrow Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle as a scarecrow. 10/26/12

Of course, no one ever gets too old for haunted corn mazes!  I’ve been taking Kyle to the same local haunted corn maze by the fair grounds ever since he was three years old.  Yes I know, he was a bit too young, but he really wanted me to take him, so I started that tradition, at least until we broke it this year.  Well, there is always next Halloween!

The first time I took Kyle for his scary nighttime outside entertainment, and every time since, he rode the hayride and went through the corn maze with his head in my coat.  When he was little I could carry him, but after the years progressed, nope!  He had to walk on his own.  That made it challenging, walking with a little guy hanging for dear life off of my coat and tripping me as I walked.  Every year I ask Kyle, “Why do you want to go through that if you don’t even see it to enjoy it for yourself?  You seem to really hate it.”  He would just reply, “Cause Aunt Heather it’s fun!  I just don’t want to see it.”  Ok, how can I argue with that!  The first time we participated in the haunted hayride and corn maze, they had a huge stuffed black spider that dropped into the wagon right in front of Kyle!  He remembers that till this day!  Back then, Kyle would sleep with my parents and I guess that night mom said Kyle wouldn’t stop talking about this spider, as I got a look of like, ‘I can’t believe you took him on that!’.  Well, it is Halloween and we had fun!

Yep, things are different now, I guess I just need to adjust our activities to fit his maturity before I get the boot totally!

Last Friday, mom and I went to see Kyle in the school parade, the last one!  That was definitely bittersweet, I do enjoy seeing Kyle grow up but I also love the little kid he used to be.  We’ve been do for a big change and it seems like this one is fast approaching.

Happy All Saints Eve! and Happy All Saints Day! (tomorrow)

Check out these fun facts from

logo_sm_msn24 Aunt Heather Piper

  1. No matter how scary your local haunted house is, it probably can’t top the Haunted Cave in Lewisburg, Ohio. Measuring 3,564 feet long, the Guinness World Records has named it the world’s longest haunted house. Even spookier: It’s located 80 feet below ground in an abandoned mine.
  2. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there will be 41 million trick-or-treaters ages 5 to 14 in America this year. Parents are expected to spend $1 billion on children’s costumes—and if they’re on trend, most of the cash will go towards princess, witch, pirate or Spider-Man get-ups.
  3. Although the cards may be ghoulish, the sentiment is sweet—according to Hallmark, Halloween ranks as the sixth most popular card-giving holiday, with 20 million cards sent each year. Christmas comes in first place, with a whopping 1.5 billion cards sent each year.
  4. Halloween candy coffers wouldn’t be the same without California. Why? Because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Golden State leads the nation in non-chocolate confectionery production. Out of the 409 sites that manufacture non-chocolate confections in the U.S., California is home to 45 of them.
  5. In 1950, Philadelphia-based trick-or-treaters traded in a sweet tooth for a sweet action. In lieu of candy, residents collected change for children overseas and sent it to UNICEF. Subsequently, the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program was born.
  6. Valentine’s Day is no longer the sweetest national holiday—at least when it come to candy sales. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine’s Day; 90 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Halloween week alone. In total, $1.9 billion is spent on Halloween candy each year.
  7. Americans are more ready than ever to get into the Halloween spirit. According to the National Retail Federation, 71.5% plan to celebrate the holiday this year—compared with 68.6% last year—and will spend an average of $79.82 per (adult) person on candy, costumes and decor.
  8. A working magician from the age of 17, Harry Houdini (née Ehrich Weisz) became America’s favorite magician and a world-renown legend for his daring escapes. It was only fitting, then, for this master trickster to die on October 31, 1926—from a ruptured appendix.
  9. Since its invention in 1898 by the Herman Goelitz Confectionary Company of Fairfield, California (now known as the Jelly Belly Candy Company), candy corn has been wildly popular—so much so that today, nearly 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year.
  10. It was just tricks—no treats—for Charlie Brown in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In the 1966 TV special, he utters, “I got a rock,” while trick-or-treating. The phrase went on to become one of the most famous lines in Peanuts history.
  11. Halloween wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins, and thankfully, there are plenty of gourds to go around. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in 2010, the top pumpkin-producing states—Illinois, California, New York and Ohio—produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins.
  12. Due to safety concerns, trunk-or-treating was introduced in 2000 as an alternative to hitting the pavement for candy on Halloween night. Cars are parked in a circle at a school or church parking lot, with event-goers decorating their open trunks and dressing in costume in order to hand out treats.
  13. From its vampy costumes and sweet treats to macabre household decorations, Halloween is big business. So big, in fact, that it’s the second-largest commercial holiday in America—only Christmas surpasses it in sales.
  14. In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, became the latest city to ban trick-or-treating for kids over 12. Teens can face fines from $100 to $1,000 for going door-to-door (although according to officials, more often than not, over-age Halloween-goers are just given a warning).
  15. Got leftover Halloween candy? Save it for later! Dark and milk chocolates can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free spot. Hard candy can last up to a year, while unopened packages of candy corn can last nine months.
posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Halloween of Years Past

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.  ~William Shakespeare

Kyle as Anakin Skywalker

Kyle as Anakin Skywalker. He wore it all weekend and wouldn't take it off.

You know, there are always some that think negatively upon Halloween and then there are others who take it to extremes.  And when I say extremes, I mean in a sadistic, not so positive way.  I always liked Halloween.  I enjoyed the challenge of being creative with costume ideas and I especially liked making them.  Even when I was at Sacred Heart, we were allowed to dress up, have our own school parade, and have a Halloween party.  The nuns never dressed up, but they enjoyed watching the creativity and eclectic mix of costumes.  You see, they were never opposed to Halloween, especially when we dressed up as Saints. Probably because they had faith that they taught us what the holiday really meant.  They knew we were aware of the feast of All Saints Day, the celebration of those who have passed.  A time to pray for those loved ones who have departed this life into eternity.  It’s also symbolic of acknowledging that evil does exist as much as good.

Latrobe Halloween Parade- Heather Piper

Elastigirl and Dash- Incredibles. Latrobe Halloween Parade

Things are so different now.  Please indulge me for a moment and take a step back with me to reminisce about my Halloween days.  When we were growing up, we lived in a rural area.  We didn’t have a neighborhood of people to trick or treat.  Every year, either my mom or my cousin Karen would pile all of us, including my cousins, in the car and take us up on the ridge to visit family to get our share of the Halloween goodies.  Looking back on it now, I loved trick or treating.  Not only did we get candy, but we also got to visit family.  And the best part was driving to get there and getting back home.  We would go when it was dark and driving up the ridge through the trees during Halloween was priceless!!  It really got you in the spirit of the season, pardon the pun.  When we stopped at my Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmy’s house, Uncle Ray would make us homemade potato chips in the barn. They were so fresh we would have to wait for the chips to cool down before snacking.  Then we would go down the road to visit more family, eventually hitting my grandparents, my cousins grandparents, cousins and close friends of the families.  There was no special day we would trick or treat.  Whenever it was most convenient, mom would just give a call to a few houses to spread the word that we were heading up.

Chad and Kyle lion costume Heather Piper

Chad & Kyle

The Wednesday before Halloween was the Youngstown’s Parade.  It was so much fun to line up in the parking lot of Sacred Heart School and Church getting ready to walk the Main Street.  The fire trucks were lit up and the end always resulted in more treats.

Later on, to keep the Halloween tradition alive, without being childish, we would go bagging.  Now it was not a common thing to do, as I later found out.  I assumed everyone knew what bagging was but, alas, it must have been a Latrobe thing.  You see, bagging usually happened with preteens/teenagers.  It was a way to have safe Halloween fun and still collect the annual candy funds.  When I was younger, when you went to the grocery store, you always received brown paper bags to carry your groceries.  Usually they were recycled into covers for school books or trash bags but, at Halloween, they were used for bagging.  Everyone in your group dressed incognito, usually all black, and we would decorate the bags as desired.  The design was always accompanied with a message, something like “Please feed these hungry ghosts” or “Leave us a Treat”.  Then what you would do is sneak up on someone’s front porch, leave the bags facing the front door, ring the door bell and run and hide in the bushes.  Then the person at the front door was supposed to drop candy into the bags.  However, baggers would usually get strange items like toothpaste or batteries.  I think I got a rock before.  Anyway, that also made it fun to tell people about the treats received.  Sometimes the trick or treatee would steal your bag.  But, if you were smart, you would bring back-up.  And sometimes, the trick or treatee would wait for the trick or treaters to retrieve their bags and then jump out at them and chase them off the porch.  It was actually a lot of fun and would give us stories to tell for the next month or so.

Ah yes the good old Halloween fun.  The time when all the world’s a stage and you write your own story.  What’s your story?

Have a happy Halloween!

Kyle and Gigi  bee costume- Heather Piper

Kyle & Gigi in parade

posted by auntheather in Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have Comment (1)

Scary Good Morning

When witches go riding,
and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
‘tis near Halloween.  ~Author Unknown

Incredibles Heather Piper

We were the Incredibles, Elastigirl (me) and Dash (Kyle). Yep, I made these costumes. Best costumes ever!

Yesterday, mom, dad and I went to see Kyle’s Halloween parade at his school.  As he marched around the parking lot with all the other ghosts and ghouls, I realized I will only get to see him do this one more year.  Where has all the time gone?  No more asking him about his Halloween party at school, no more getting excited about what he’s going to be for Halloween, no more thrill of trick or treating, and no more candy!  Yikes!  Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise to me. Every year since Kyle understood the tradition of getting dressed up and receiving candy, we would start talking about his costume over the summer.  I loved it!  I must say I would get equally as excited as Kyle, maybe more.  For Kyle’s early years, his Aunt Nikki would purchase his costumes online and send them home.  It was her way of being involved since, at the time,  she lived so far away in Tucson, Arizona.  Then, when he became of age to make his own decisions and had his own costume opinions, I sometimes would make our outfits, yep, from scratch.  I would make my own patterns and sew and sew and sew or Papier-mâché.  And, of course, we usually went as a pair.  But, this year was different.  I asked Kyle during the summer what he wanted to be for Halloween and he would comment, “I’m not sure.” or “I don’t really care.”  That was my first indicator that Kyle was growing up and was no longer excited about the scary fun of the season.

This morning was one of those memorable perfect mornings.  Kyle and I got up around 6:30 am and we cuddled in the reclining chair while watching Saturday morning cartoons.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I must have blinked quickly a dozen times before coming to the realization of the blanket of fresh snow outside.  “It snowed!” I told Kyle.  He immediately said, “Can we get our snowboards out?”  I had to giggle at that comment.  What was really funny, about an hour later, my sister started texting us to see what we were doing.  Only my family is up that early on a Saturday morning.  Yep, it was a perfect morning!

Dash Incredible Heather Piper

My Dash- Kyle thought people wouldn't recognize him in his costume.

While sitting there I couldn’t help but reflect back on my years of Halloween fun.  I remember we, as in my brother and cousins and I, would go down to my uncles barn and prepare the feed corn for corning.  If you are not aware what corning is, it’s simply throwing corn at cars, houses, and people in the dark during the Halloween season.  Once we corned grandma Ferry’s car.  She wasn’t really my grandma.  She was my neighbor and, since I only had one grandma living, she treated us like her grandchildren.  Anyway, we corned her car as she drove past one night and practically gave her a heart attack.  She stopped the car and laid into us.  Like I said, she treated us like her very own.   We never corned cars again.  What we did was continue to run through the woods, in the middle of the night, and sneak up on each others houses and corn the heck out of them.  It was always so much fun sitting there watching TV and, the next thing you know, you would hear the corn hit the front porch and window.  Then Ryan and I would get up, grab our bag of corn, and run out after my cousins.  Halloween was always such a fun time to me. I’ll share more stories soon.

Latrobe Parade Heather Piper

Walking in the Latrobe Parade... the Incredibles and Heather and Aden beside us!

As Kyle and I sat there, we started to get restless.   He decided to get dressed and take the dogs outside.  He got their collars on and said to me, “Should I let the beasts out?” Kyle took the dogs outside to play in the snow.  He stood out on the porch in a t-shirt and sweatpants yelling, “It’s snowing!”  The dogs ran around the yard, tearing up the new snow like they were children.  Just then, Kyle peeked his head in and yelled, “Get the sled!” and came in to put on gloves, a hat, and a jacket.  He went out and threw snowballs at the dogs as they chased him around.  Yep, I had a great morning!

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

Afraid of a Story

I’m more scared than most kids. ~Kyle Piper 10/12/11

Kyle Piper as a Lion for Halloween

Kyle's first Halloween. (Lion suit courtesy of Aunt Nikki)

It’s no secret that Kyle is a bit of a scaredy-cat.  What’s really interesting, so was his dad- my brother,Ryan.  When Ryan had to go to the cellar, outside, or go to the garage in the dark, he would run like the dickens.  Even in high school, when my sister was at Penn State and my parents were out late with me at a Winterguard competition, we would come home to all the lights on.  It was like he was trying to light the entire hillside.  I’m the complete opposite.  I very rarely turn on lights and, when I do, it’s just a few to light my way.  When I leave a room, I’m the person that turns off the lights.  I prefer the dark, especially when I’m sleeping.  Now don’t get me wrong, I can fall asleep anywhere at any time of the day.  But I will admit, I have to turn my alarm clock away from me on my nightstand ’cause the numbers are too bright.  I can see pretty well in the dark, in fact, the sunshine sometimes hurts my eyes and makes them water.   You would think I have light colored eyes but, guess again, my eyes are brown.

Kyle Piper as JJ the Jet Plane for Halloween Heather Piper

Kyle was afraid of his JJ the Jet Plane costume. He thought he was going to fly away so I had to carry it around. (Costume courtesy of Aunt Nikki)

Last Wednesday, Kyle had to write a creative story for school and the theme was scary.  We both decided to lay on the floor when doing his homework and Kyle read me what he started.  He had a good introduction.  Then I asked him, “Well what happens next?” partially out of curiosity and partially to get  him thinking.  He said, “I don’t know?”

I never want to do Kyle’s homework for him.  I believe that’s a form of lying when a parent signs off on the work saying it’s the child’s, but in all reality it’s blatantly not.  Plus the bigger injustice is taking away the experience of figuring out the homework on their own.  Not to mention they are robbed of the education, which is why they are in school in the first place.  Now I also don’t believe in letting the student fend for themselves either.  I believe there is a balance that should happen to guide the child to think, helping them learn.  After all, parents, guardians, and mentors are coaches, helping to get them the tools to play the game, but not playing it for them.  This is one of those times I would have loved to take over and write the story.  But alas it was not my story and it was not my grade.

So, what’s the best way to get someone to think?  Yep, ask a question.  I kept trying to get Kyle to move the story forward, “Kyle what happened next? What color was the house? Describe the windows. What sounds did you hear?” et cetera et cetera.  He was doing really well, answering my questions and talking out the story before he wrote.  Then as the story progressed it gots scarier and scarier, keep in mind we are only at the second paragraph.  Kyle turns to me and said, “I can’t finish this, I’m too scared.”  I was taken back.  He actually was so into the story he was creating that he scared himself.  I said, “Kyle it’s your story, you can write it however you want.”  He said, “I know, but it’s scary and I’m more scared than most kids.”  O my Kyle, now this is where my patience has no understanding for such silliness, considering we were burning daylight and I had to get Kyle back so he could practice his trumpet, piano, and guitar before bedtime.  I said, “Come on Kyle just finish the story, you’re more than halfway done.”

Rita with Kyle Piper as a Lion for Halloween

Gigi and Kyle. He wasn't happy about his first Halloween outfit.

Just then I had to get up to go to the bathroom and he jumped up and said, “Where are you going?”  I said, “I have to go to the bathroom, keep working on the story.”  He said, “I’ll wait for you,” and he started to follow me to the bathroom.  Now keep in mind that the bathroom is in eyesight from where we were laying on the living-room floor.  I said, “Kyle just finish the story it’s getting late.”  He said, “But I’m scared.”  That kid waited by the door and talked to me until I came out.  Then I went into my office to grab another eraser in case we needed it and he was practically on top of me.

I finally managed to get him to finish the story.  He couldn’t handle a scary ending but he did put a twist in the story.  He had a character jump out and yell boo.  I remember him telling me his teacher did the same thing when she was reading them a story in class.  I guess that made a real impression on him.

Looking back on it now, I wonder if his general fear was my fault.  You see, when Kyle was barely able to walk, I would hide in corners of the house and jump out and scare him.  Not often, but sometimes if the mood struck me.  Being the mature one that I am (sarcasm) I would find his scared face and the way his whole body would stiffen up to be funny.  I only remember him crying once or twice but, afterwards, the shock of being scared would wear off, he would smile and I would chase  him around the house till I caught him and tickled him to the ground.  It seemed harmless at first until someone told me that a young child could have a heart attack if they are scared.  Yikes, so I stopped that immediately, although I still chased him around the house, even now-a-days.  Was it my fault?  I never did that with my brother.  So is being skittish a hereditary thing?  Is it from a strong imagination?  Or is it a learned action?  I bet it’s the latter, especially since I am remembering all the haunted corn mazes and hayrides I’ve done with Kyle.  I’ll explain those later.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination and have Comments (6)
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