Unconventional Gifts

Good books tell the truth, even when they’re about things that never have been and never will be. They’re truthful in a different way.  ~Stanisław Lem

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Kyle taking the controls of a Piper, getting ready to hit the open skies for his 9th birthday. 7/30/10

The other day, I was speaking with a few friends of mine.  About what exactly?  Well, you name it, we covered most standard topics, but this part of the story was about Kyle and my belief in giving him unconventional gifts.  In honor of his birthday tomorrow, I thought this was appropriate.

I’ve mentioned it previously, as a child, Kyle always had way too much.  Too many toys, toys of all varieties, and he most certainly didn’t need anymore, especially from me.  Now that he’s a teenager, he has too many video games, and spends way too much time on them.  Do you see a pattern?

Since the birthday gifts I get Kyle are never the standard, go to the store and wrap them, type of presents, they need a fair amount of planning.  My goal here?  To get others thinking about gift giving in a nontraditional way, like I do.  Here are a few gift givings of years past.

So what do you get a child that is spoiled and flooded with their desirable material goods, at that particular moment in life?  Easy, spoil them with attention, love, knowledge, and opportunities.  How does one do this?  Simply with unconventional gifts.

First, what do I consider an unconventional gift?  In my eyes, unconventional gifts come with some sort of bonding or learning aspect.   They may also include life experiences to be engrained in the child forever, or skills to be used later in life.  Of course, these are very subjective, but it’s a place to start.

When Kyle was a tiny, tiny little baby, it’s true, I did get him toys.  One in particular was a large metal Optimus Prime transformer.  It was really cool!  It even spoke when a button was pushed, with a serious of prerecorded standard phrases including the noise the transformers make when changing from vehicle to robot or visa verse.  I believe that was the last toy I purchased Kyle.  He played with it for a short period of time, and I don’t think I saw it after that.  In fact, I have no idea what ever happened to it.  That’s when I decided to think of gifts for him differently.

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Kyle celebrating his 5th birthday at Seabase in Greensburg. Bumper car fun! 7/2005

Wanting Kyle to have every opportunity in the world at his fingertips, and to be exposed to all things to help him grow as a goodhearted honest person in every aspect, I knew there was more value in gift giving then instant gratification.  It was time to pull out the thinking cap.  And I did in a big way!  I wish I recorded my gifts to Kyle when he was younger, but alas, I did not, so I’m not always exactly sure which gift went with which celebration, but not really relevant to this post anyway.

Secondly, what constitutes a celebration worthy of gift giving?  Of course, there’s the standard birthdays and Christmas.  However, I also give Kyle a gift for Easter, and I’ve been known to give him something for summer or for no particular reason.  Well, actually the reason would include a good deed, or good behavior, or to cheer him up due to illness, or sometimes just to surprise him.  That’s about it.  I don’t believe in turning every occasion into an excuse to spoil our little man more.  I don’t ever want him to grow up to expect material items from anyone, ever!

Please note, Kyle’s a great kid, he truly is!  So when I talk about spoiling him, it’s out of love.  He is certainly apart of this instant gratification generation, not waiting in anticipation or really working for things.  Who’s fault is that?  The family, me included, but I’m certainly not the main culprit.

Finally, what gifts have I given Kyle that fell under the classification of unconventional?  Here’s a brief list.  The items range in entertainment value, quality time, fundamental learning aspects, and some just plain different, or a combination of all things.

Athletics

Swimming.  Kyle took swimming lessons once a week, all year long at the local YMCA from the time he was five years old to about ten or eleven years.  It was our time together and now he’s a great swimmer, and has no issues with being in water of all depth levels.

Gymnastics. He stayed in gymnastics for less than a year.  Even though Kyle was not the athletic type, it was great for him to run around and learn certain skills, such as doing jumping jacks and tumbling.  Again it was our bonding time, and I loved it.  Plus, he was able to socialize with other kids.

Soccer.  Kyle was really little when I had him in soccer, probably about three.  He never did understand the game, not that I could have helped him.  As a general rule, everyone knows I have no clue about sports.  He had the opportunity to have fun, socialize with other kids, and gained a great cardio workout.

Basketball.  I signed Kyle up to play on a basketball league, again through the YMCA.  My sister once asked me why?  I remarked, “I don’t expect him to get a call from the NBA, but if he ever wants to go shoot hoops with his friends, he would be familiar with dribbling and shooting baskets.  So he’s not singled out.”  Small skills that could be most invaluable to Kyle later in life.

Snowboarding.  When Kyle was four, I purchased him snowboarding lessons, which he loved!  Then, for a few years after that, I’d purchase him his season tickets for the slops, along with his rental and accessories (coats, pants, helmet etc.)  Again, it was always something we did together and enjoyed being outside in God’s country up in the mountains.  Neither one of us have been able to hit the slopes in the last couple of years, but I think we’ll both get back into it, maybe next year.

Music

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Kyle’s piano recital.  Yes I made him wear a suit, the one he wore for his 1st Holy Communion  5/17/09

Piano lessons & Keyboards.  Kyle received a keyboard to practice at my parent’s house, and one for his mom’s house, since his time was equally split.  This was for his sixth birthday, I believe, and the lessons continued until last August, right after he turned twelve.  Again, it was our quality time together, or whoever took him.  He also showed an interest in music early on, so I complied.  I believe this education really fine tuned his brain, and gave him an appreciation for music.  Since that time, Kyle took up the trumpet in school, joined the jazz band, and now started playing the tuba in the marching band.  He’s very accomplished at reading music, too.

Guitar and lessons.  Originally Kyle wanted to rock out on the guitar.  I made a deal with him, if he learned to play the piano, I’d get him guitar lessons.  He kept up his end of the deal, as did I.  For Christmas one year, I bought him a guitar and lessons.  He took to it very well, but never practiced enough to really be able to play.  He could strum the strings without looking at his fingers and follow along in his music books.  He took lessons off and on for a few years, and then called it quits.  He continued with the piano lessons at this time.  Most would say, playing both instruments at the same time, at a young age was too much for Kyle.  I completely disagree.  He had the talent and the knowledge to do so.  However, Kyle doesn’t like doing anything alone.  If I could have played with him, and practiced along side my musician, he would have excelled.  Alas, I have no music ability.  Hence why I want him to be so much better than me, at everything!

Entertainment/Culture/Education

Lion King tickets and dinner.  For one Christmas, I purchased Kyle and the family tickets to see the Lion King at the Pittsburgh Benedium Theater.  It was a nice way to spend an evening with the family, while being exposed to culture.  Prior to this, Kyle loved the cartoon, The Lion King, as well as the music.  So therefore, I thought he’d enjoy the musical.  He did!  In a big way.  Although when asked about it in his early teens, Kyle doesn’t remember going.  Sad.  Kyle and I actually spent the entire day in Pittsburgh together, hanging out at the Carnegie Museum (mostly among dinosaurs) before meeting my parents and my sister for dinner and then off to the theater.

LegoFest Tickets.  Anything to do with Legos used to be the thing to get Kyle.  So when I saw LegoFest was planning on making an appearance in Pittsburgh, I jumped at the chance to get us tickets.  As expected, it was a hit.  Everyone gave Kyle money to purchase Legos, which only added to his experience and made it complete.  We were there all day, before returning to get a few hours of hunting in.

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Kyle’s Piggy Bank. A ceramic pig I made for his fourth birday. It has a cork in the belly area to remove the moola, & a slot one its back to add the cash. Teh eyes are plastic shaking eyes, & it’s equipped with the a metal squiggle tail. 2005

Bricks 4 Kids Lego Camp.  I purchased Kyle two different Lego Camp sessions, one morning and one afternoon, at Saint Vincent College, for a week each.  He was able to socialize with other Lego lovers, and he enjoyed learning about different ways to build certain items.  He was exposed to other ideas and possibilities with Legos, all brightening his week.  Kyle was in heaven!  It also gave him something to do in the summer, instead of playing video games and watching television.  He stayed with me for the week, and I dropped him off, took him lunch, and picked him up at the end of his hard day.  This was a suggestion from Lori Planinsek!  Perfect!

Flash Cards.  One Christmas when Kyle was two years old, I decided to purchase him addition flash cards, as well as workbooks.  Did he put his nose up to them?  NOT AT ALL!  He loved working with me on the workbooks and he would ask me to quiz him on his math flashcards.  Everyone thought that gift was a bust, but in reality, it turned out to be a big hit.  So by the time he was three years old, Kyle was easily adding all numbers.  Soon after that I got him subtraction flashcards.  He did have a little more trouble learning, but not much.  It’s no surprise that math is one of Kyle’s beloved classes that he’s in the advanced program, at least he was until this past year.

Books.  It was always tradition with my family to receive books in our Easter baskets.  I took it a step further and began giving Kyle books for almost all occasions.  Some books I knew he wanted to read, and others I got him to expand his horizon.  Those books became our shared interests, for I read most of them or I wanted to, before purchasing them for Kyle.

Written Books.  With Kyle becoming a teenager, I noticed his interest in reading has become relaxed.  I don’t ever want Kyle to loose his love of reading, especially since it was a struggle getting him to this point.  I get it, he loves his video games, but reading is important too.  So what did I do?  I wrote Kyle a book.  Seriously?  Yep!  It’s roughly a 400 page survival book that takes place in a post apocalyptic world.  It includes hunting, fishing and snowboarding, all things we both love.  I added elements of education and fun trivia to make it informative.  It’s slightly sarcastic and witty and the main characters travel by foot from Colorado to Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Surprisingly, the book is finished, and the second in the serious has begun.  All that remains is to have it professionally edited for accuracy, and then I’ll have a book printed.

Really?  Yes!  I truly enjoyed writing the book and I thought it’d be something Kyle would enjoy.  What a better way to encourage reading, than by writing a book specifically for my young man.  Once the book is at a point to publicly talk about, I’ll write a post on it. (I also started two other separate books, I’m getting into this writing thing!)  I hope to give Kyle the book for this Christmas.  I’m also planning on designing the cover too, with my own photography.

iPod Touch.  Originally, the iPod Touch was a way for the family to keep in touch with Kyle since he didn’t have a phone yet.  It was also a means to begin working him into a little bit of freedom with electronics, music and the internet, while being monitored.  I setup Kyle with face-time, which he occasionally did with the family.  I also setup his own iTunes account (and some credits) and of course I gave him the iPod with an engraving on the back.  I did place parental controls and a tracker on it.  All of which I explained to Kyle, as well as my reasoning.  I wanted him to be safe, but I never wanted to be sneaky about it or deceitful.  He accepted the terms of the gift, and almost appreciated my concerns.   Of course, he was simply excited to get an iPod Touch!  Since then, it’s been replaced and he’s been hooked up with a laptop and an iPhone 6.  He did get a lot of mileage out of that gift and we benefited too!

Out of the Ordinary/Adventure

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Kyle’s King sized quilt I made for his 1st birthday. 7/2002

Quilt.  I wanted to do something really special for Kyle’s first birthday.  I mean the kid was turning one, without knowing his dad, nor would he ever remember his dad.  Ryan passed away nine months prior.  It was a difficult time, but I wanted to help celebrate this every special milestone with Kyle.  I was given the idea to use all of Ryan’s cloths to make Kyle a quilt.  I did!  It ended up being a king size quilt, made from Ryan’s flannel shirts and tee shirts!  To this day, I think that was the best gift I’ve ever given!  It was a long road to making this gift, with the help of friends, but one worth it.  Since then, I’ve never made another again.

Clay Pig.   I’ve always taken clay / ceramics classes, in high school and college.  I love working with clay!  So it’s no surprise that I gave my love of clay, to my beloved nephew, and made him a very unique gift I knew he’d love.  I made him a piggy bank!  Everyone in my clay class knew the pig was for Kyle, for his birthday gift.  At the time Kyle was about four years old and he was learning to count, particularly money.  I was also trying to teach him to save, and to earn enough money to buy himself whatever large gift he wanted.  This was also the time I taught him about tax.  That kid got it.  He could figure out the total of our purchases, including tax before the register would display the answer.  Truly amazing!  To this day, Kyle still stores his moola in the pig, and he knows I made it for him for his birthday.  I’m always thinking of my little man.

On a side note, Kyle mentioned he wanted to go to England and that’s what he was saving his money for.  Good choice! That was about the time Nicole and I traveled abroad.  We spent a lot of time in London.

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Kyle getting acclimated to the Piper, before his flying lessons. 9th birthday 7/30/2010

Flying Lessons.  For Kyle’s ninth birthday I thought it’d be fun to get him flying lessons.  YES!  Again, not that I planned on him being a pilot, but it was the experience.  He always mentioned how he was never in a plane, so I thought for his first time defying gratify, we’d do it right and let him fly the open skies, with an instructor, naturally.  Result?  Kyle remembered that experience, and looks at it fondly, almost brags to others about him flying a plane.  I was so happy for him!  It was a fun day.  I even hired a photographer to capture the experience.

Train ride.  I purchased Kyle, my sister and myself train tickets.  We took the train from Latrobe to Johnstown for the day (only about a forty-minute trip).  Granted, it wasn’t exciting, but it was something different.  We rode the incline and explored the town of Johnstown, took a tour of the Flood Museum, and even caught a movie. (Maleficent)  When we got back, we surprised Kyle and celebrated with an ice-cream cake at my parent’s house.  Prior to that trip, I purchased him companion books to the Lord of the Rings.  He began reading one of the books on the train.

Over the years, I’ve had many ideas for gifts, but sometimes it wasn’t the right time, or it was too expensive, or I chose another path, or I haven’t used the idea, YET.  Regardless, I hope others can take my ideas for unconventional gifts and run with them, or get back to me other ideas.  I’d love to hear them!  Here are a few:

  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Surfing lessons
  • A plane ride to Vermont to snowboard for the weekend
  • Helicopter flying lessons or a ride
  • Movie passes (which I’ve done but not for a special occasion)
  • Museum passes
  • Bike trip on the Great Allegheny Passage and camping along the 400 miles (I thought it would be fun to bike to Washington DC and have my sister meet us and take us home)
  • Volunteer – Instead of getting Kyle anything, we’d spend a day or a week together volunteering somewhere, maybe not local to get us both out of the area and find a new adventure.
  • Membership to my gym to participate in the kids class
  • A robotics camp or some sort of geeky week with others like him

I know I gave Kyle many, many more gifts, and I’ve had a ton more ideas, but alas they’ve escaped me.  I already know what I’m getting Kyle when he graduates high school.  Really?  You bet I do, and it’s really good!  I’ve had this idea since he was a toddler.  It’s a two part gift, and Kyle’s going to LOVE it.  When the time comes, which is around the corner, I’ll let everyone in on the secret.

Here are a few blog posts about my choices for unconventional gifts:

Good Intentions
Gift of Music – The Final Piano Lesson
Bricks 4 Kids, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise
Family Time Through an iPod Touch
Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday

Discovering Our Own Backyard – Johnstown
Memories Sewn Into a Quilt

 

 

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

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! 45 Years Strong

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

 Happy 45th Anniversary mom and dad!

Mom-Dad-wedding-announcement-in-paperWhile going through pictures, I found mom and dad’s original wedding announcement from the newspaper.  How cool is that!  I’m guessing it was either from the Latrobe Bulletin or the Tribune Review, our local papers.  (I was amazed at the detail the paper described mom’s wedding dress!  While dad only got an honorable mention!)  How times have changed, from when the printed paper was one of the biggest sources for news that everyone read daily.  Now, newspaper circulation is nearly extinct and online and television news is the go-to source.  Just think, when mom and dad got hitched, the internet didn’t exist, neither did email, nor did social media sites, and certainly not blogging.

Well, mom and dad are still kicking with 45-years of marriage.  I bet my grandpap Chester would have never guessed it.  Mom and dad have come a long way since December 12, 1969.  I’m sure they’d both agree it has been, and still continues to be an adventure.  I know it has been from where I joined the crazy train, December 12, a few years later.  Yes, every year since I was born we’ve celebrated both mom and dad’s wedding anniversary and my birthday together, for I graced them with my presence on their anniversary.  (not the other way around)  There for a while, it was also the first day of doe season, which used to take priority with dad, but that’s a minor note.

This past August, good friends of mine celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  Happy 50th Anniversary!  It’s neat to think, that that will be mom and dad in just five short years.  With all of mom’s positive attitude (sarcasm) she claims they’ll never make it that far, not due to divorce, but to death.  Yes, I’m sure the old folks are amazing and astounding their doctors for just being alive.  Personally, I think they still have a fight left in them, if Kyle and I have anything to do about it.

Forty-five years is a long time, almost none existent today.  Mom and dad are a rare breed, in more ways than one, so I guess their anniversary is fitting.  Because of their commitment to each other, we’ve all had a wonderful and stable family life, including Kyle.  I’m not saying it was perfect, only typical for such a tight knit family.  It says a lot about mom and dad’s character for having maintained their marriage, raised a family and dealt with outside forces, good and bad, for nearly a half a century.  Their anniversary (not their eating habits nor lack of exercise) should not be taken lightly, but only celebrated and viewed as a goal for others to strive towards.  I am blessed to be apart of their legacy and I am proud they have set the example for Kyle for what it really means to be married.

Happy Anniversary Gigi and pappy!

 

Since I’m discussing celebrations, I never got to write mom a blog post, formally celebrating her birthday from October 26th, this past year.  At the time I was visiting my sister in Virginia, helping her get her rental property ready for new tenants.  The week escaped me.  I planned on being home in time for mom’s birthday, but alas that didn’t happen.  I wanted to give mom a shout out for her 65th birthday too!  Happy Birthday late mom!

As we’ve always done, mom, dad and I exchange celebrations between us.  Dad asked me with an ornery grin, the same one Kyle gives me from time to time, “So do you feel old?”  Fat chance!  Acting young, some may say immature, is my thing!  It’s what I truly believe allows me to stay youthful at heart and in appearance, that and I drink a lot of water and stay out of the direct sunlight.  I guess there’s a lot to celebrate today!  TGIF!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Family,Milestone,News and have No Comments

Happy 50th Anniversary!

To learn something, to master something, anything, is as sweet as first love.  ~Geoffrey Wolff

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Mr. & Mrs. Bob Arbuckle tied the knot 8/8/64

With so much tragedy and terror going on in the world, especially with the airstrikes in Syria (targeting ISIS) and the persecution of Catholics in the Middle East and around the world, it is truly a delight to write about something worth celebrating.  I know this is a bit past due, but good news never expires.

On August 8, 2014, good friends’ of mine, Lorraine and Bob Arbuckle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  I’ve spoke of them before True Penn State Role Model and it is an honor to speak of them again.

I should correct that by saying, they are not only friends of mine, but in deed like my second family, for they’ve ALWAYS treated me as such.  From the time I met Lorraine and Bob (and the entire family), they’ve always included Kyle and me as part of their own, and welcomed us both with open arms.  They’ve extended the same gesture to my parents and sister alike.  Keep in mind, mom, dad and Nicole have never met Lorraine and Bob, or any of the Arbuckle clan!  In fact, I don’t think they even know what each looks like!  How about that for blind love!  As a nice gesture, some people may ask about others to strike up a conversation.  Not Lorraine and Bob, they ask because they really care.

Lorraine and Bob made it 50 years as a happily married couple.  For those of you who don’t do math, they began their journey together on August 8, 1964, when pictures where still taken in black and white and marriages where promises kept.  Now, I’m sure life wasn’t always bliss, but with the help of God, which they both credit, they made it through together, hand in hand.  Due to their strong union and strong moral ethics, over the years they did a wonderful job raising their daughter and two sons, while remaining a staple in the community.

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Lorraine & Bob Arbuckle celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary! 8/10/14

In addition to being benevolent people and raising sincere and goodhearted children, this amazing couple also gave themselves to making life better for those less fortunate.  Lorraine and Bob both gave back through the Rotary Club, the church and the soup kitchen just to name a few.  Yes, over the years between being responsible Americans and having very accomplished careers, they donated their time and money for good-will.

Did I mention they are grandparents to a wonderful little man?  Their devotion runs so deep for that young fellow, take one look into his eyes and you know what his grandparents mean to him.

Lorraine and Bob’s affection extends even further to include their son-in-law, Erik.  Erik’s words have always been kind to the Arbuckle’s, but what impresses me the most are his actions, which only reinforces his words of respect and gratitude.  Like I said one big tight family!

It’s true, you can love and love and never run out.  I was a testament to this at Lorraine and Bob’s surprise 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Their daughter Lisa, who is a really good friend of mine, (heck I’m also friends with her husband, her brother’s Robby and Jeffrey, and the cousins and the aunts and the uncles etc), invited me to the party.  What an honor!  As I mingled in and out of family and long time friends, I saw and felt the same emotions radiating from everyone in the room.  What was it exactly?  I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but it was definitely a mixture of  love and respect and appreciation.  That is what Lorraine and Bob mean to everyone they encounter.  They are no doubt rock stars to their family and friends!

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The Abuckle/Zettelmayer Clan! Front: Lisa Zettelmayer, Bob & Lorraine Arbuckle Back: Erik Zettelmayer, Jeffrey & Robby Arbuckle 8/10/14

On a side note, it was Lisa who organized the gala with the aid of recruited family and friends.  She did such a spectacular job!   I don’t mean that lightly.  Being an event planner myself, no detail was overlooked.  She put a ton of work into the day and it was truly amazing!  Lisa wanted everything to be perfect for her parents as did Robby and Erik (They both had to put up with Lisa while she was in her planning mode! Just kidding, kinda.) who both helped out like champs.  Jeffrey wrote a song, taking us all on a journey over 50 years.  He sang it and played the guitar beautifully for his parents.  If those acts were not proof enough to the love those children (including Erik) have for their parents (mother and father-in-law), I can’t for the life of me come up with a more perfect example.  When two people are innately good, good radiates to everyone around.

My theory on respect is it’s a two-way street and once someone walks down that path, the other person will follow.  Lorraine and Bob have most certainly set an example for the rest of the world to witness and to follow their lead.  Not only with respect, but for the entire package of good will, accountability, a Christian way of life.  Again, they are the poster children for walking in the way of the Lord.  I mean that.  I’m not saying they are saints or perfect people, but they try and try hard with all their heart.  Granted, I haven’t known the happy couple all my life, but from the years I’ve spent with them, their intentions were always sincere and pure.

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Lorraine & Bob still in love 50 years later! Happy 50th Anniversary! 8/10/14

Finding a single person that possess so many great qualities such as intelligence, kindness and love is very rare, let alone a pair that both freely exhibit these is almost unheard of.  Lorraine and Bob both have demonstrated what a true family is and the impact it has on EVERYONE they encounter.  If anyone ever wants to argue the idea that a solid family who puts God first, is what’s best for the family and the community, the Arbuckle’s are the perfect example.

To me they are one of the sweetest and most sincere couples I know.  I cannot speak highly enough of them and they deserve every kind word.  They are such an inspiration, not only to lasting marriages but that there is good in this world.  No one can question the presence of goodness, because I am here to tell you it still exits!  I have witnessed it first hand with my own eyes and it is addicting to be around.  They are one of the best examples I know for letting God lead their lives and keeping the faith.  When you follow in the footsteps of the Lord, true love is never far behind.

Not to short-sight my own family, for they too are a rare breed, but I have been doubly blessed.  (Actually, I can honestly say I have been blessed many times over with my longtime friends and extended family)   My parents will be married forty-five years this December.  They are close on Lorraine and Bob’s heels!  I can’t wait to write about mom and dad hitting 50 years!

I hope everyone is as blessed as I am to know and to have experienced this family, for they are a God’s sent.

Happy 50th Anniversary Lorraine & Bob!   

P.S. Thank you all again for the wonderful picture and frame (sitting on my desk looking at me now), the engraved plague for my company and the beautiful business card holder engraved with my name and title “The Light Bulb”.  Your faith in me is uplifting!  You guys are awesome!

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Look at the wonderful surprise I was presented with from Lisa & her family! Love them all!! 9/2014

 

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

Mr. & Mrs. Piper Add Another Year – Happy 44th Anniversary!

The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.  ~ Julia Child
I’d like to give a big shout out to mom and dad, a.k.a. Gigi and pappy.  Today marks their forty-fourth wedding anniversary!  They were married in 1969 at Sacred Heart Church in Youngstown, Pennsylvania.
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Mom & dad in Germany in the early 1970s. The caption read at Carol & Lynn’s Party … looked like they had a good time!

Besides my parents getting married, which six years later became my birthday, what else was going on in 1969?  According to Google, Wikipedia and all other “reliable” internet sources, 1969 was a full year.
  • Richard Nixon was our 37th president
  • 1st man landed on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission by the United States – Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin – 1st humans to set foot on the moon
  • In August, more than a half a million people gathered in the small town of Bethel, in upstate New York better known as Woodstock
  • 250,000 marched on Washington in protest against the Vietnam War
  • The US institutes the draft lottery to determine draft into US Forces for Vietnam War (dad just signed up for the Army)
  • The very 1st United States troop, withdrawals are made from Vietnam
  • The FCC banned all cigarette advertising on television and radio (good thing!)
  • Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) established
  • Top movies included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch and Easy Rider
  • One of the top books was Mario Puzo’s Godfather
  • On August 9th, members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder 5 people (I read the book Helter Skelter a couple of times, scary interesting)
  • Hurricane Camille hits the Mississippi coast killing 248 people
  • Militant black students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York use force to take over Willard Straight Hall demanding a black studies program
  • Cost of new house $15,550.00
  • Average income per year $8,550.00
  • Average monthly rent $135.00
  • Average cost new car $3,270.00
  • Gas per gallon $.35  (That’s a huge change at about $3.45 per gallon now)
Aunt-Heather-Piper-Christmas-1979

Me (4 yrs old) in my cute little Christmas outfit. Check out the plastic clip on earrings! Dad was holding Ryan (3yrs old) & Nicole (6 yrs old), like usual was cut off from the picture. We were at gram & paps house on the ridge. 1979

 

Yes, on the exact same day only six years later on December 12th, in 1975 I was born.  I guess it’s no surprise that I really enjoy winter and the snow, after all I came into this world with that as my backdrop.  At this point mom and dad moved back to the United States after living in Germany for two years while dad was in the Army.  They lived in the same house that my grandpap Chester built, the same one they live in, to this very day.  What else was going on in 1975?

  • Vietnam War ends as Communist forces take Saigon and South Vietnam surrenders unconditionally
  • The United States carries out Vietnam “Operation Babylift” bringing Vietnamese orphans to the US
  • The United States pulls out of Cambodia
  • New York City avoids bankruptcy when President Gerald R. Ford signed a $2.3 billion loan
  • The unemployment rate in the US reaches 9.2% and recession is recognized by President Ford
  • Jimmy Hoffa (ex teamsters boss) disappears never to be seen again
  • Patti Hearst becomes most wanted and is arrested for armed robbery
  • Margaret Thatcher defeats Edward Heath for the leadership of the opposition UK Conservative Party (Thatcher was 49 and Britain’s 1st female leader of any political party)
  • Average cost of new house $39,300.00
  • Average income per year $14,100.00
  • Average monthly rent $200.00
  • Average cost new car $4,250.00
  • Cost of a gallon of gas $.44 (an so the spiking gas prices begins)
  • The UK implements the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Act
  • Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins
  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a BASIC program for the Altair 8800
  • Motorolla obtains patent for the first portable mobile phone
  • The name “Micro-soft” (for microcomputer software) and Microsoft becomes a registered trademark
  • Sony introduces Betamax videotapes and Matsushita / JVC introduce VHS
  • Cray-1, the first commercially developed supercomputer, invented by Seymour Cray
  • Volkswagen introduces the Golf
  • Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
  • Charlie Chaplin is knighted by Elizabeth II
  • The Rocky Horror Show opens on Broadway in New York City
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

43 Years of Mr. & Mrs. Piper

The bonds of matrimony are like any other bonds – they mature slowly.  ~Peter De Vries

It seems like mom and dad, who created our Piper Family, have beaten the odds of today’s statistics being married 43 years.  I bet when they exchanged their vows on December 12, 1969, they never guessed the journey that was ahead.  The years have taken many twists and turns but I bet it was all worth it.  Six years to the day, from mom and dad’s wedding, I was born, the infamous middle child of the Piper Family.

Happy Anniversary 43rd Anniversary Mom and Dad!!

mom-and-dad-Germany-Aunt Heather-Piper

Mom & Dad in Aschaffenburg, Germany where dad was stationed in the army during the Vietnam war. After they were married they lived there for 2 years. c.1970

 

Then six years passed and I came along to join the Piper Family…

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Christmas-Eve-1975

Me & Santa, Christmas Eve 1975. I was 12 days old.

As I was reviewing my Facebook entries today, I laughed at mom’s birthday wish to me.  You got that all right! Let’s not forget today is 12/12/12!  All my favorite numbers.

Birthday wish Aunt Heather Piper 12-12-12

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

Happy 42nd Anniversary Mom & Dad!

All you need is love.  ~John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Mom & Dad Wedding - Heather Piper

Mom & Dad's Wedding 12/12/69

Congratulations to mom and dad on their 42nd Wedding Anniversary!  They were married at Sacred Heart Church on a Friday night while a blizzard was tearing through Latrobe, PA.  Mom was 20 years old and dad 19 years old.

Mom and Dad in Germany- Heather Piper

Mom and dad by a countryside in Europe

Shortly after getting married, they both moved to Aschaffenburg, Germany where dad was stationed in the army during the Vietnam war.  He drove Armed Personal Carrier (APC called Lady Willpower), tanks and jeeps.  Besides the occasional exploration with the Sargent’s wife in her Chevy Impala, mom drove a Volkswagen bug.  Keep in mind it didn’t have breaks so they would use the emergency brake.

Dad graduated from Army boot camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in the fall of 1969.  Then he was off to Fort Knox, Kentucky where mom and dad decided on the phone at Thanksgiving day to get married as soon as he got home in two weeks, before leaving for Germany at the end of December.

Mom and Dad in Germany - Heather Piper

Mom & Dad in their apartment 1 Block from base. Someone should have told dad about his color choice...

Mom and Dad in Germany - Heather Piper

Mom & Dad - Dad's graduation from Fort Jackson South Carolina Fall '69

During their adventures in Germany, they occasionally would save up money to explore other places of Europe including Paris and Holland.  Eventually making their way back to the United States, they had my sister five years after they were married.

Six years after my parents got married, or 21 months from when my sister was born, to the day, at 6:09 am, they were blessed with their second daughter, me.  Yes I was their best anniversary gift ever!  🙂 My brother then came along 21 months after I was born.  Who would have thought these actions would result in the recorded history of my parents in my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Heather Piper Birthday Party

My birthday party. My Aunt Irene (godmother) made the cakes.


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