A Teenager! Happy Birthday Kyle!

When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.  ~Louise Erdrich

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Kyle & his beloved pappy… there’s a team! Kyle’s 1st birthday 7/30/02 (I was in Korea)

I can’t believe it, our little man is now officially a teenager!  Kyle is a thirteen year old, even though he’s been displaying a teenage attitude for about a year now.  Not constant, but every once in a while the attitude has slipped out of his mouth or through his body language.  I guess that’s typical growing pains.

Kyle is a great kid, he really is.  Yes he has his quarks and Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) tendencies, but overall, Kyle is a good person.  I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow up and more importantly I really enjoy being an integral part of his life and influence.  He is my best bud!  We’ve always been a team.  Even though he is finding different interests and venturing out on his own with his friends, we are still as thick as thieves, at least for now.

In honor of such a milestone birthday, below are a few key funny moments in Kyle’s life we all remember and love and some are still in effect today.  I hope these instances are as bad and as stressful as Kyle’s life will ever get!   

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Kyle & Gigi for Kyle’s 1st birthday! 7/30/02

As a baby, Kyle was always strong willed.  ALWAYS!  I would never have it any other way.  But his attitude would change in a blink of an eye.  My sister called it the 2.2.  He would go from happy little baby to upset child in 2.2 seconds.  I hate to admit it, but it was kind of funny, especially when we would laugh at him and say 2.2.  He didn’t find it humorous in the slightest, not when he was an infant nor later in life.

Kyle was never shy about sharing his feelings or his grievances with us, at any given moment.  I remember clearly one day, Kyle got made at me, I’m guessing I was instigating the little package, and he showed me.  He walked out on the porch and chucked his beloved bottle over the bannister into the front yard.  The snarly look he gave me was way too cute!  Me being me, I found complete humor in the situation.  Mom witnessing the entire thing, yelled at me to stop picking on the kid.  He was adorable, even when angered.  At least at that age.

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Kyle working hard in the strawberry fields. Pollock’s Strawberry Farm Bush Valley 6/28/14

I always did love observing Kyle with his activities.  He would spend hours upon hours lining up his matchbox cars.  Thanks to my sister he owned hundreds of them (no joke).  They always had to be perfectly in line, front to back, front to back, covering the floor or coffee table.  He would concentrate so hard, he blocked out the world around him.  Did I mention his focus included his tongue sticking out like my Uncle Sonny?  I always did find him fascinating, wondering what was going on in his little head.

When Kyle was around two and three years old, and a banana was requested, we had to peel it for him.  The banana had to be stripped down all the way.  Yes, we had to hand him a naked banana and if it broke, well, that was the end of the world.  He would throw a fit and not accept the fruit to eat and demand another.  I’m guessing he felt he couldn’t eat a broken banana or it wouldn’t taste the same or something.  It was a complete tragedy!  Usually I ate the broken pieces, which ticked him off even more.  I never gave in on this one.  He had to learn not to waste food and he wasn’t going to always get his own way.

For a few short years, Kyle would walk around the house with his Scooby-Doo slippers, which were initially three sizes too big.  He loved those things, asking to wear them every waking minute.   Surprisingly, he made his way around the house with minimal trip-age.  After he outgrew those slippers, wearing them until they were too tight, mom and I decided to take him to the store to get another pair.  He picked out ones that looked like a car, even with stuffed wheels on the side.  Letting him try them on to ensure we had a proper fit, Kyle’s mind surprised us again.  After placing the plush cars to his feet, Kyle stiffened up.  He held himself so still and hung onto my arm with all seriousness.  Why?  He thought the wheels were going to shoot him across the floor like roller skates and he was going to roll away!  Mom and I died!  We were laughing so hard, we couldn’t help the panicked kid.  He had no idea what was so funny.  Needless to say, we bought the slippers.

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Kyle’s cakeface for his 1st birthday! Pappy was under that hat … He always did love his sweets! 7/30/02

For years, Kyle believed that the sock manufacturers were making uncomfortable socks with a large seam at the toe just to irritate him.  He believed he was the center of everyone’s attention, even the sock manufacturer and they were out to make his life miserable!  Solution?  We learned that if you turn the sock inside out, the bulky seam was on the outside and didn’t really bother his little piggies.  Believe it or not, there were plenty of other sock issues, including touching his ankle, and the heel of the sock not matching up EXACTLY with his heel etc.  Unfortunately, even though these problems have toned down a notch or two, only because he wears flip flops in the summer, it’s still an argument.   He also believes socks and shoes make his whole body sweat and makes him too hot to wear cloths.

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Kyle lining up his Legos for the ultimate battle! c. 2013

When Kyle first started to wear walking shoes, getting them on with assistance, he would tell us the shoe didn’t fit if his big toe wasn’t able to be lifted comfortably in the confined space.  Yes!  He wanted his big toe to stand up in the shoe, all the way!  To this day, he won’t properly tie his tennis shoes and his hunting boots are about two sizes too big.  Although he is getting better, letting his pap lace up his boots for hunting so he doesn’t trip in the woods.  His tennis shoes still hang off of his feet, making it appear that he will walk out of them at any given moment.

While we’re on the topic of cloths, let’s discuss jeans.  Yes that basic article of clothing that everyone posses, at least a single pair.  Yes, that item that can be dressed up or down and is accepted at most venues.  Kyle HATED jeans.  From the time he was able to give his own opinion on his wardrobe, first grade or so, till he hit the junior high in seventh grade, Kyle never wore a pair of jeans.  EVER!  What did he wear?  Sweatpants or shorts.  Sometimes his sweatpants were the cotton kind and sometimes the shiny pants (which he still wears to this day)  For church, he was and still is never ever permitted to wear sweatpants.  Clothing of choice?  He has to wear dress slacks and in the summer, nice dress shorts.  At the time they had to have the elastic waistband.  Kidding?  Nope!  That always about killed him, but we worked through it, kind of.  He still hates cloths, and getting dressed for church sometimes poses a problem.

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Kyle being held by the Hulk at Legofest 2012 … Kyle’s humor!  Yes that’s made entirely out of Legos!

Switching gears a bit, train gears that is, let’s move onto toys.  No matter who played Thomas the Tank Engine, as instructed by Kyle, they had to be Diesel.  Kyle never did like Diesel, I really don’t know why?  I decided early on, this rule did not pertain to me.  I wouldn’t have a three year old tell me what I was playing with, which always resulted in little temper tantrum, sometimes a big blow up.  He would also dictate how I was to play, which direction to move and what I was doing.  Again, nope!  Kyle had to learn early on that he didn’t always get his own way and others had the freedom of choice.  I reinforced the ideas of compromise and sharing.  It was a struggle, but one learned, kind of.

Around two years and up, Kyle LOVED puzzles.  By the time he was walking till about three years, he was putting together some thousand piece puzzle sets!  Did I mention I hate puzzles?  However, I would turn over the pieces so they were facing up and sit with him while he matched piece after piece to create the picture represented on the box.  He said, “Loot pappy, I’m puzzle boy!”

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Chad Piper (cousin) & Kyle at Gutchess Picnic, Idlewild. c. 2003

Then, after the puzzles came the Legos!  Lego Love Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoFest 2012 Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise Another Lego Christmas  Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old! Lego Obsessive or Driven Going Retro With Star Wars Legos etc. That phase lasted the longest thus far.  Once he discovered Legos there was no going back.  When Kyle was five, we made a bet at his peewee football ceremony and naturally he won.  The prize?  He wanted a Bionicle man, which needed to be assembled, for ages seven and up, I believe.  Kyle always loved a challenge and began putting those pieces together and eventually graduating to a thousand plus piece Lego sets, with movable parts.  I never let the suggested age restrict him.  EVER!  I always encouraged Kyle, especially when it was a challenge!  He knew it and was always proud of himself and his accomplishments.  So was I!  Did I mention he called himself Lego Man? Yes!

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Kyle’s Lego army about to do battle! c. 2011

One last walk down memory lane.  One that we are all grateful he grew out of and did a complete one eighty, reading!  I HATE READING! Reading Brings Generations Together Reading Brings Generations Together…Or Not? Harry Potter Made Me Do It! etc.  Kyle started off loving books.  He would always drag a book to our lap and have us read and rock him in the rocking chair.  LOVE IT!  Then, came the time he had to do the reading, which didn’t go over so well.  In fact, it pushed him to hate reading, which saddened me beyond imagination.  Though, I tried many tactics to change his perception of reading, my sister remembered one method, bribery!  Yes, for a very brief stent, we would pay Kyle in cold hard cash to read to us.  Judge us if you will, but it worked and the benefits of him reading outweighed the idea of bribery.  Of course, I tried may avenues including yelling, grounding, sharing the reading, acting out the story while he read etc.  In the end the most effective was reading to Kyle, Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets, with the most gusto and the best British accent I could muster.  After that book, Kyle chose on his own to continue reading the rest of the series.  I was very proud of him.  Since then I kept up his interest in reading by buying him books anytime he needed one, getting them for him with every holiday and special occasion and sometimes reading the same books so the lines of communication were open.  Yep, that was a struggle but again one well worth it!

In addition to reading, Kyle still loves to hunt, shoot his .22 and his 243 (his dad would be proud), fish, sled ride and snowboard, build (anything), and he loves his dog Scooby (plus Seven, Avery and Storm a.k.a. Lady Fluffington).  Over the years his interest in movies have grown, being a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings (movies and books) the Avengers (all superheros), video games (mostly Minecraft) and now he’s taken an interest in fantasy games such as Summoner Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, and WarMachine.

One of Kyle’s piano lesson songs happen to be Happy Birthday. I thought it be appropriate to record it for all to share on his birthday!

Happy Birthday Kyle!  I hope you have a blessed and exciting journey!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Discovering Our Own Backyard – Johnstown

There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.  ~Janet Frame

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Celebrating Kyle’s 13th birthday! Great day taking the train to Johnstown & now ice-cream cake! 4/26/14

This year Kyle’s birthday lands on a Wednesday.  What does that mean?  It means Kyle believes both weekends are open for birthday celebration, in addition to his actual birthday. I guess we’re getting better, I remember the days when the entire month of July was dedicated to Kyle’s birthday.

This year?  It was a last minute decision.  I planned an adventure to Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  How far away is that?  Only about thirty to forty minutes from Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  How is that exciting?  Let me tell you, sometimes it’s the journey that makes the adventure.

This past Saturday morning, we started the day off with a train ride from Latrobe to Johnstown.  Yes!  A train ride!  I knew Kyle was never in Johnstown, nor was he aware of the great flood of 1889.  It’s true, Kyle was on a train when we went to Strasburg, Pennsylvania to see Thomas the Tank Engine when he was three or four.  We actually rode on “Thomas” and we took another train ride around the area.  It was more an old fashioned train, with the windows down, chugging along at a slower speed for sightseeing.   This time, Kyle was riding a transport train with other travelers.  It had cars for overnight passengers and food and beverage cars.  Granted, none of those interested us during our forty minute ride, but it still was neat to say we rode a passenger train.

The Amtrak train station is located off of McKinley Avenue in Latrobe, behind DiSalvo’s Station Restaurant.  Of course it’s not the hub of all transportation for the masses, but it was neat sitting on the platform awaiting our scheduled train.  Naturally, I kept making comments like, “Kyle, where is platform nine and three quarters?”  and such in reference to Harry Potter.  Being nearly thirteen, he only found me mildly humorous.

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Kyle & Aunt Nikki waiting at the Latrobe Amtrak Station to board a train to Johnstown for the day. 7/26/14

Just as we were parking our behinds on the bench Kyle commented, “Umm this is a little run down.”  Nicole and I started to laugh.  He was right, but again this was about the adventure not the aesthetics of our environment.  Then, in true Kyle fashion, he added, “It could use a fresh coat of paint.”  Ok, now we were dying at his observation for renovation.

Now came the real excitement, a train rolled at high speed past us.  While we were sitting there, a container train shot past us, only a few feet from our seats.  I’m sure it wasn’t moving at top speed, but it still stole our breath at the massive locomotive whizzed past.  There is a yellow line, signalling to go no further toward the track, but that simple yellow line doesn’t quite do it justice like a high speed moving death vehicle to signify danger.  Perhaps, it was due to our lack of experience riding trains, but I concurred with Nicole when she said, “Kyle’s right, they could use a fresh coat of pain to mark the yellow line.”

Did I mention this was all a surprise for Kyle?  Yep, he had no idea we were riding a train and he had no clue where we were heading.

Once we boarded the train and settled into our seats, Kyle begin reading the book I got him for his birthday, The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien (companion book to The Lord of the Rings).  I was excited to see he was enjoying his newly purchased literature.

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Aunt Nikki getting out of our pink taxi in Johnstown … Kyle hates pink or so we’ve been told. 7/26/14

We arrived in Johnstown around 9:15 am.  There was a few main attractions on our schedule for the day, including the Flood Museum and the incline.  Before we tackled the day’s activities, we headed to a small diner for breakfast and to waste some time before the museum opened.

Johnstown is an old town, very quaint but not the hustle and bustle of activity, pretty low key.  While walking through the streets, we read the land markers attached to buildings and those highlighted in designated areas.  Most were focused on the flood, sharing information such as the height of the water and the number of people who perished.  This was one of those history lessons that was sad, but very interesting.  I am a true believer of learning the past as to avoid repeating it.  One wish I hope to pass along to Kyle.

Ok, I get it, going to a flood museum and walking around a dead town was not on Kyle’s top list of things to do for his thirteenth birthday.  Regardless, Kyle should be aware of the events that have taken place in his own backyard.  Did I mention it was a last minute plan?  We didn’t think we were going to have Kyle this past weekend, so it was a last minute plan, something different.

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Pan of Kyle getting ready to board the Amtrak train in Johnstown after a day outing for his birthday. 7/26/14

We walked around the museum and made time to watch the documentary video on the flood.  A truly great video production!  Very informative and really takes a person back to the time, to feel the impact and the devastation of the flood.  It was even Kyle approved, keeping his attention and peeking his interest on a part of history he was not aware of.

From the Flood Museum we took a taxi (pink) to the local movie theater to see Maleficent (the only movie playing at a good time to fit the day).  It was also a cafe and movie theater, so Kyle ate his lunch while watching the movie.

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Kyle getting ready to board the train in Johnstown after our day excursion… next stop Latrobe, Pa. 7/26/14

On a side note, while riding in the backseat of the taxi, Kyle leaned into me to whisper, “I hate pink”.  What a funny kid!

After the movie, we headed back into the town of Johnstown and made our way to the incline, the world’s steepest vehicular inclined plane.  At the top, there’s not much to do but hang out on the observation deck and stare down at Johnstown.  We were blessed with a lovely day.  Nicole helped us to get our perceptive by pointing out specific buildings of interest, such as the Flood Museum, the train station and the streets we traveled.  That was quite a view!

Eventually we made our way back down to ground level to stop for an early dinner/snack.  We tried to tour the War Memorial Arena, but alas the doors were locked.

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Me & Kyle on the Johnstown Incline! Steepest vehicular incline plane in the world! 7/26/14

Taking our time, we walked back to the train station to complete our round trip.  Since the train was delayed slightly, we sat on the benches and read, or in Nicole’s case, napped before boarding our train headed for Latrobe.

On another side note, while riding the train, I couldn’t help but sing The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.  When I was a kid, I loved that song and movie!  It just seemed appropriate.  Neither Nicole nor Kyle thought so.

When we were nearing Latrobe, I called mom to let her know we were in route.  I had her hang a Happy Birthday banner and light the candles on the ice-cream cake to surprise Kyle.  My cousin’s Paula, Pete and John were also on the deck waiting to sing.

Was Kyle excited?  You bet he was!  Maybe not totally thrilled and blown away, but he certainly enjoyed himself.  Although we did have to hear about going to the new comic book store in Latrobe, every thirty minutes or so throughout the day.  I guess to be thirteen!

How did I think of such a fun and educational day?  Simply, mom.  When I was in the third grade (I think) mom was heavily involved in the PTA and she helped plan our field trips for Sacred Heart School.  Saturday was pretty much a repeat that year in the eighties, minus the movie.  During our school field trip, we got to pack our lunches and eat in the park in the center of town, exciting for a group of young kids.

To this day, in my eyes that was the best field trip ever!  An experience I always wanted to repeat and share with Kyle.  Maybe next time when I have more of a notice, we’ll repeat it with one of Kyle’s friends.  I bet he’d enjoy that!

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

Text Messaging Humor – Piper Style

Laughter is wine for the soul – laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness – the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.  ~Seán O’Casey

Since my posts have been pretty heavy lately, I wanted to come back to my preferred reality of fun and humor.  This post is a bit unconventional, but what the hay, life is short!

Yesterday, I was going through my photos on iPhoto, which usually originate from my iPhone, some from my iPad.  Looks like over a year or two, when there was a funny text message, I would take a screen shot.  Usually when I do this, it’s to be accompanied with a blog post, but some may have been forgotten or there wasn’t the space.  So in honor of these silly text messages, here they are for all to share.  Enjoy!

Warning:  These text messaging screen shots are really NOT funny, but they sure do bring a smile to my face.

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My little man… Kyle     Screen shot 5/12/12

This isn’t funny, but simply sweet.  I must have taken a screen shot of my phone screen.  Naturally, guess who always seems to take center stage.  This picture was accrued during a Santa Workshop at Kyle’s elementary school.   He always did love me showing up and helping out, believe it or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is one that cracked us both up.  My friend Kelly and I were texting back and forth and it appears I wanted to make a Barnes and Noble run, but I was already involved in another book serious.  I have a sneaky suspicion the “book” Kelly was referring to was Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  Usually, I order my books online, but sometimes I do swing by the store in a moment of book desperation.  This one I remember I ordered to begin upon completion of the Harry Potter books.  The show, which involved the auto correct is called Mike & Molly.  Auto correct struck again!

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Wanting to read Allegiant but busy reading the Harry Potter books. 10/1/12

I remember this day very clearly.  For it was a day of disgust, intrigue and pure victory.  After much distraught and confusion, I finally found what was running rampant in my house.  I thought it was a mouse, a super mouse to be exact, but after I caught the elusive critter, I found out it was a chipmunk!  Gross.  Yes!  But victory was mine and I could now find peace in my own house. Of Mice and Me … Part 4

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Chipmunk Incident 10/28/12

Every year, Nicole takes Kyle for a week in the summer.  It’s been referred to as the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’.  Sometimes they do stuff locally around the D.C. Metro Area or sometimes they go away for the week or a few days.  It’s a nice time for them to spend together.

This particular trip included a bunch of cold showers.  Kyle cracks me up!  We’ve been bribing and fighting with Kyle to take showers for as long as I can remember.  He never wants to!  I still have no idea what his aversion is to being clean, but there it is.

There were times when I wouldn’t get him for a week, and when I did, he was greasy and filthy!  Then, to only be resistant when taking the plunge.  You could tell it wasn’t an act that was reinforced regularly and instilled in him (not from my family, we love to shower and do it regularly, meaning daily).  I had the same problem with Kyle and brushing his teeth.

Recently, Kyle said to me, “I always take a shower, every night.”  What?  News flash buddy, who are you trying to kid?  He made it out like he’s been do this his whole life, but in reality it was this past week.    I’m on to you and I have proof!

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Kyle’s comment on cold showers during Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun. 11/13/12

This did crack me up.  While outlining Christmas plans for the year, out of nowhere, Nicole started the Soft Kitty song.  She cracks me up.  I showed it to Kyle and he was grinning from ear to ear, being a fan of the song and the show, The Big Bang Theory.

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Nicole texting Soft Kitty to me.. for no reason just to be silly. I cracked up! 12/21/12

I read random things online.  Usually they are human interest stories, news articles, breaking news, politics and such, but there is the occasion, when I find something that catches my eye for pure entertainment.

I started writing blog posts about these interesting facts, eventually calling them ‘Random Fun Facts’.  They are simply information and statistics, which I was not aware of or did and forgot, or information I feel others might find interesting.  This particular blog topic was focused on flatulence.  Yes!  Farting!  I found it funny and entertaining, which I clearly replied to Nicole, after she evidently read the blog post.  Facts About Farting  Read it, it’s actually enlightening!

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Our conversation based off of my blog post, Facts About Farting. 12/27/12

This conversation started out discussing business, Thrill of the Hunt, our start-up company.  Apparently, I needed a check for something.  If my memory serves me correct, it was to pay for our booth at either the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe or the Steelerfest at Saint Vincent College (Random Fun Facts: Saint Vincent College, Bertha Nesser’s Alma Mater May You Both Find Eternal Peace).

I am happy to announce the business has come a long way in a little over a year, yet we still have many more journeys ahead.

What cracks me up, in the middle of our presumably serious conversation, Nicole goes south.  Please refer to the previous screen shot and entry, where she makes fun of me and my flatulence topic.  Can’t tell we’re sisters?  At least mine was in response to an infographic I read, hers was due to an experience.  Notice how I instantly threw my dog, Seven under the bus!

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Nicole & I discussing our company Thrill of the Hunt & then the conversation quickly goes south! 8/7/13

These screen shots were my proof, I needed to sent to Kyle, showing I’m not a terrible chess player.  We both love to play the game, and as I’ve mentioned before I taught Kyle to play when he was just a little man. Checkmate – Game of Chess  Naturally, at that time I used to crush him, not so much in present days.  This particular instance, I was playing the computer and I won!  Twice!  I was on fire!  Granted, I’m sure if it was on the hardest or easiest setting.  However, come to think of it, it might have been on the hardest, since Kyle is the one who manages the controls.  Regardless, I took screen shots and IMed them to Kyle.  Victory was mine!

On a side note, I always have to be white and Kyle black, as per my little man.

8-11-13 Checkmate against computer Aunt Heather Piper

On the left 8/10/13 & on the right 8/11/13 I beat the computer… finally. I had to send these to Kyle! Victory was mine!

This conversation was between me and Kyle.  To be honest, I don’t really remember why he was asking about my legs or what book he wanted.  I wish I would have kept some of Kyle’s other text messages, even though they usually only consist of “Ya” and “Ok”.  Man of few words.  The funny part of this text is Kyle’s call out of “Bad Girl”, an inside joke (that I guess is not so inside anymore) WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day.

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Bad Girl joke in our family… Kyle cracks me up! 8/21/13

Kyle strikes again.  He will only reach out if he needs something, and of course I always comply.  This time he needed a recipe for school.  I guess he was making something in Home Ec or they were reviewing recipes (I remember doing the same thing).  Later, I told Kyle we needed to work on his spelling, I guess his phone doesn’t have auto correct or it’s clearly not turned on.

I love being able to communicate with Kyle through so many different means!  My favorite is in person, but I’ll take what I can get when he’s not with me.

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Kyle needed a recipe for school. He needs to turn on his spell check! 2/13/14

This is my favorite of all!  At this point, every time I looked at Facebook through the app on my phone, this is what I saw.  It totally cracked me up!  Look at her face taking up the entire space!

What was really funny, this went on for a few days, every time I opened the app, there was Nicole’s head staring back at me.  It seemed to never update and push me through to other posts.  It was stuck on Nicole’s head!  Taking this as an opportunity to instigate, I screen shot it and shared it with her.

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Good old Aunt Nikki! 12/14/13

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

God Speed Pope Francis I

Deliver me, LORD, from the wicked; preserve me from the violent,from those who plan evil in their hearts, who stir up conflicts every day,Who sharpen their tongue like a serpent, venom of asps upon their lips.  ~Psalm 140 2:4

Pope Francis I - Inaugural speech Aunt Heather Piper 2013

Pope Francis I 2013

To test my nephew’s knowledge, I asked Kyle if he knew the name of our new pope.  He responded, “Frank, I think?”.  Not really.  I take my job as his godmother very seriously, so I took the opportunity to get him up-to-speed and reinforce his Catholic education.  Naturally, I started by telling him that our pope is Pope Francis I.  He was named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.  Of course this meant nothing to Kyle, at least not now, but the more he is taught and the more he hears, I believe he will understand.  Sometimes shocking moments resonate better, especially with children, so I did mention how St. Francis of Assisi suffered from the stigmata.  He was really interested but did not quite understand when I explained what what meant.  Not that I have a greater understanding of the mysteries of God, but there is no doubt it was a sign from our almighty Father.

God speaks to us through many different ways, just as He did with the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and the newly elected Pope Francis I.  The night when Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down from his position, lightening struck the Vatican, twice.  Then let’s not forget, right before white smoke poured out of the chimney at the Vatican, announcing the Conclave chose the new Pope, a seagull was spotted sitting on that very chimney.  Actually, reportedly, there were a number of seagulls residing on the rooftop at that moment.  Why is this significant?  Because St. Francis of Assisi is always represented by birds.  What does this all mean?  No clue, but I have faith it’s a good sign.

pope francis I - Aunt Heather Piper

Pope Francis I 2013

Today marks the inauguration of Pope Francis I.  Scandals and accusations have already started circulating about our Bishop of Rome.  He has already gotten people up in arms because he speaks freely and reinforces the doctrine of the Catholic church, the teachings from the bible.  A quote comes to mind, even though it’s kind of odd and maybe inappropriate, but here goes.  As quoted from Harry Potter, “Sometimes in life you must choose between what is right and what is easy.” (Goblet of Fire Chapter 36)  Pope Francis is certainly taking the stand on what is right and he is not being shy about it.

What I don’t understand, is why anyone cares?  If those speaking out are not Catholic and don’t believe in the Catholic teachings, then why do those opposed care what happens in the Catholic church?  Sometimes I feel like certain individuals just like to make a fuss.  It’s almost as if their only reasoning for being loud and angry is to gain attention, like a child trying to be defiant and get their own way.  When the only responsible way to handle such a child is to continue to do the right thing for the sake of the child, even if they disagree.  Unfortunately, a child will continue on their course of action, as if that makes their arguments more acceptable and right.  I am a strong believer in tough love.  We need to support those who are only looking our for our best interest and not our selfishness.

Pope Francis I - Aunt Heather Piper 2013

Pope Francs I waves to the crowd 2013

Still out of everything going on in the world, I believe there is more good in people than bad.   Yes we are all brothers and sisters, and yes we are all made differently, intentionally designed by God so we rely on each other and God Himself.  Personally, I think He made us unique to keep life more interesting, but regardless.  There needs to be more respect given and demanded, from everyone.  Just like all of mankind, we have free will and the ability to sin.  Even the pope is a human being, a man of free will.  Granted he has a huge responsibility as our apostolic successor, the leader of our church and our official mediator, but he’s not perfect either.  He’s just trying to do the work of God.  I read somewhere that former Pope John Paul II used to go to confession every day.  What on earth could he confess?  That’s between God and himself, but the fact is that he humbled himself to be absolved for his sins and his short comings by his peers.  He wanted to make sure he was focused on his work and try to live his life as heavenly as possible.

Even Mosses, who was given a specific job, and was held in a higher position then the chosen people, messed up too.  Even after all his work, dedication and responsibility of bringing God’s people through the dessert, he was not permitted into the promised land.  However, instead of arguing his point or making excusing and raising a big stink, he repented.  He might not have understood why he was not suppose to strike the rock, at least not at that moment, but he did deliberately disobey God.  Sometimes we don’t agree with what is right, but we should just have faith and obey.  I guess it’s easier said than done.  But when it comes down to it, God is the final judge.

God Speed to Pope Francis I.  I will pray that he makes the right decisions and morally lead us.

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

Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoKidsFest 2012

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I was six and my biggest problem was what kind of dress to put on Barbie or whether or not I had enough Legos to build a fort.  ~Unknown

Kyle Lego Hulk Aunt Heather Piper 12-1-12

Kyle being held by a giant Lego Hulk. @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

It has been nearly a week since the Lego Kids Fest in Pittsburgh and it’s still being relived by Kyle, daily.  Like many others, I purchased our tickets in advance online to ensure our coveted spot.  Nicole was suppose to join us, but alas she couldn’t make it home for Lego Fest 2012, guess she’ll have to catch up next year.  On a side note, there should be some sort of site for those who have extra tickets to give them away.  Buying two adult tickets and one child and only using one adult and one child was a little costly.  Not that I ever wanted reimbursement, I just didn’t want the money to go to waste.  Anyway, Aunt Nikki participated through social means as much as possible.  Used correctly, social media really does bring families together.

Originally, when I saw Lego Fest on Facebook, I was going to get our tickets and surprise Kyle, but I blew it.  When we were talking about Kyle’s schedule and everything going on with hunting season, youth group and school, I accidentally let it slip.  His eyes got really big and was in kind of shock.  He started to say something, but then his brain caught up to my words and registered before saying, “Wait? What?  Did you say we’re going to Lego Fest?”  I could see my statement replaying in his brain, making sense of the words as if he was learning a foreign language.   Now I couldn’t deny it, so I did what I usually do when I want to be coy.  I flashed Kyle a huge ornery grin and shot him a wink.  He instantly went running to my mom saying, “Gigi, Gigi did you hear?  I’m going to Lego Fest!”  That’s my Kyle!  Always focused on the word Lego.

Aunt Heather Piper Kyle Lego Pile 12-1-12

Me & Kyle on a huge pile of Legos! @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

Everyone, who is even remotely familiar with our family and Kyle, knows Kyle’s LOVE of Legos.  Maybe that’s a bit of an understatement, he has an infatuation for the multicolored plastic building blocks.  One might say I added fuel to his already obsessive fire with the Lego Kids Fest event.

With the weeks leading up to Lego Fest, Kyle really impressed me.  He was on his best, and I mean being the champion and poster child for a well behaved kid.  Did I also mention he made a conscience effort to point out this behavior?  To ensure it was not overlooked.  He knew the stakes, and was not about to gamble with his victory ticket to attend an event solely revolved around Legos.  To be honest, I was really excited to take him and let him experience the popularity of Legos with those of like minds.  I knew this was a dream of his and if there was anyone who would appreciate Lego Fest, it was Kyle.

Aunt Heather Piper Kyle with Lego Hagrid Harry Potter 12-1-12

Me & Kyle posing with Lego Harry Potter & Lego Hagrid… I couldn’t get over how enormous Hagrid was.. @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

One day, hopefully before he outgrows Legos, I will take him to California or Florida to visit Legoland.  He’s been asking for years to fly him to California to be surrounded by all things Lego.  He really wants to go for his birthday, but that’s such an expensive birthday gift and I never just wanted to take Kyle, I would want my parents and my sister to also tag along to share in Kyle’s enthusiasm.  Maybe that should be my next goal to work toward, making it happen.

By now, I thought Kyle would have outgrown Legos.  After all he’s 11 years old.  Nope, he loves them equally as much now, as he did when he first laid his pudgy little fingers on the Lego pieces.  In fact, the bridge built between Kyle and Legos has strengthened with every building block put together over the years.  I don’t remember who gave him his first Lego set, probably his Aunt Nikki, but it was all downhill from there.

He always loved to build, even as a tiny kid just able to walk.  He started with his first Thomas the Tank Engine set, courtesy of Aunt Nikki.  Now don’t get me wrong, he enjoyed playing with the train set, but he really liked to build the tracks, making each configuration more challenging and exciting than the last.  His setup looked like a miniature roller coaster ride for trains.

Then, came the puzzles, first easy ones all the way into thousand plus piece sets.  His building interest moved onto Legos and Bionicles.  I will take credit for the love of Bionicles.  Kyle won a bet with me and for his winnings he chose a Bionicle.  At the time he was five years old and the box stated it was for eight or older, but I figured he could put it together, which he did with ease.  Now, the Legos started off small and his collection has expanded to overtake several bedrooms at multiple houses.  Kyle still likes the smaller Legos, but his newest obsession is putting together Legos with thousands of pieces.  It’s almost a badge of honor he wears when tackling such challenges.  He loves to brag about the number of pieces the Lego set has and his anticipated ETA for project completion.  Too much!  Once he has the Lego set built, he does play with them just like any other toy, but that’s secondary to the real pleasure of building.  Remember Going Retro with Star Wars Legos?

Kyles Lego Twin Towers Aunt Heather Piper12-1-12

Kyle showing off our Lego Twin Towers (slightly modified for our own creative expression) @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

Saturday morning Kyle and I were up bright and early to get ready for the 9:00 am session of Lego Kids Fest 2012.  It was held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.  As I expected, especially with a sold out event, there were lots of parents and loads of kids.  I thought it was going to be a struggle getting in and walking around, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The convention center moved everyone in with ease and once inside, all activity areas were spaced out pretty well and all booths were labeled adequately.  When I bought the tickets, I anticipated Kyle being at the older end of the age spectrum, but he was not!  There were kids of all ages, mostly his age and younger, but every age bracket was present.  As we moseyed around I saw that look, the same one Kyle has shown be time and time again coming from other parents.  Yes!  The parents!  Some where more obvious than others, but as the adults built alongside their kids, the look was definitely there.  It was the Lego obsession that had remained dormant in the over sized kids and was now shining through their eyes into their creations.  Some parents where so engrossed in building, they had no idea what was going on around them.  Yep, that’s Kyle as an adult!  I just saw the future, and it still involves Legos!

Kyle with Lego Club Aunt Heather Piper 12-1-12

Kyle hanging out at the Lego Club section @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

The minute we walked in and Kyle saw the Lego signs hanging from the ceiling, he was in complete awe!  He couldn’t focus on which direction to go first and what he wanted to do.  His brain was in overdrive!  He really couldn’t contain himself, he wanted to do everything all at once, at that moment.  Even though it was his day and his experience, I stepped in to guide him around the floor to take it all in first before participating in any one event.

We had a blast!  I must admit, I was so impressed with the event and how it was handled.  But what really struck my fancy was the Lego artwork.  Amazing!  Really!  As we approached the Batman sitting on the edge of a building scene,  I couldn’t help put touch the structure, even though there was clearly a sign instructing all visitors not to.  Upon closer inspection, I realized the pedestal in which he was residing was made out of Legos!  Unbelievable!  Even the huge Lighting McQueen!  Those displays were by far my favorite part of Lego Fest!  I wanted to keep walking through the Lego sculptures, however I was told differently by a somewhat patient young man.  Kyle was kind enough to entertain my picture taking nature and after we got a few snapshots, Kyle was ready to move on.  They were truly pieces of art and I appreciated the effort and talent behind each display.

Kyle Lego Master Builder Aunt Heather Piper12-1-12

Kyle with Dan the Lego Master Builder @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

On the far side of the event, there was a huge section to build pieces of the United States.  Actually, everything about Lego Fest was huge, so let’s get that straight, huge was the new norm.  Anyway there was this roped off section which, was an outline of the United States with white Legos.  On the other side, they had tables set up with an unlimited supply of Legos building blocks.  Every color, every shape, every size known to man in large bins ready to be put together.  All the children and adults alike, were encouraged to build their own creations to complete a map sculpture of the United States and certain landmarks, or whatever was dreamt up by the creator.  Everyone had the opportunity to build as high or as wide or as fancy or as conservative as desired.  There was no end to the supply of Legos and no time constraints.  It was seriously so cool!  Even I helped Kyle, getting a bit of Lego fever myself.  When the artwork was completed, we were instructed to give it to a Lego representative to place it wherever we wanted it to go.  Then brilliantly promoted, we could take a picture of our Lego creation and post it to the Lego Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, which I did as instructed by Kyle.  He was excited to have everyone connected to Lego see his building.  We built a modified version of the Twin Towers.  I’m not sure why that was chosen, but it was Kyle’s vision and who am I to stifle creativity.

There was another section where they just had Lego’s dumped in the middle of this large area.  Children where crawling all over the small pieces and building and having a blast!  It looked like too much fun, I wanted to join in.  Kyle wasn’t that enthused with sitting on Lego’s with the smaller kids, so I was happy when he allowed me to get a picture.  As I was doing so, a Lego worker showed up at my side and offered to get both of us in the picture.  I was so excited to sit in the pile of Legos!  It was at that time, that I seriously started to catch the Lego bug.  It’s addictive.

Lego Egypt Kyle Aunt Heather Piper 12-1-12

Kyle posing in front of the Lego Pharaoh. Too Funny! @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

While walking around and participating in the raffle and other displays, we managed to run into friends of ours at the ramp races.  Out of all those thousands of people we literally bump into people we knew, the Tobins.  It was great seeing them!  I looked around for my cousin Denise too, but I’ll be darned if I saw her and the family among the sea of people and kids.

Naturally, we hit up the Lego store area.  It was an insane confined space with of out of control parents and their kids.  Being a claustrophobic person, I had a hard time standing in the roped off area with Kyle while he made his decision on his next project.  Again, to give Lego another shout out, they had it every organized and the flow of buyers moved along pretty quickly and with ease.  It helped that the Lego workers stood out in their matching shirts and there seemed to be swarms of them.  With much deliberation, Kyle finally made up his mind with the Lego Lord of the Rings. Good choice buddy!

As we neared the end of our Lego experience, Kyle spotted one of the Lego Master Builders walking around and talking with parents.  Kyle had this star stuck look in his eyes, like he was about to meet a famous person.  The Lego Master Builder had his own type of uniform top with his name on it, which Kyle noticed.  My little man just stood their patiently waiting for the Lego Master and some parents to complete their conversation, as to not be rude and interrupt.  He so desperately wanted to meet this Lego celebrity and get his picture with him.  Dan, as I later found out was the Master Builder’s name, was great with Kyle and took the time to pose for a picture.  Boy did that just top off Kyle’s day!  As we exited stage right, I walked alongside one little boy who was beaming from ear to ear.  On a side note, he instantly pulled out his free Lego given because he was a Lego Club Member.  He started to contemplate when he was going to put it together.  The decisions of a young mind!

Aunt Heather Piper with Lego Superfriends 12-1-12

Me in front of the Lego Superfriends! @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

On our ride home the conversation was naturally all things Lego.  That was a really neat event!  Kyle decided he wanted to build his very own life size Lego man.  Actually, I thought that would be the coolest thing for his bedroom!  Even I considered having one made for my house!  After all, even though they are toys, I do consider them pieces of art, fun art!  I told Kyle he should go into business building those Lego sculptures and rent or sell them for kids birthday parties, something to match the birthday theme.  He loved the idea!  We might start looking into this for him.

The day after we ran into other friends of ours who attended the Sunday session.  They were equally as impressed!  Marty told me that he was talking to someone about the United States section.  He gave me some fun facts, which I did not know.  He said, they actually had to tear down the United States section on Friday night because it was completely full.  He also said they take the built pieces to sick or handicap children and have them disassemble the structures, then ship the building blocks to be sanitized before returning them to be built into something from another child’s or adult’s imagination.  Lego pays these children for this job.  That’s awesome!  I love hearing stories like these.  Great job Lego!

Lego Creation Nation Aunt Heather Piper 12-1-12

Lego Creation Nation! @LegoKidsFest 12/1/12

I’m surprised Kyle didn’t know that fun fact.  After all, while we were driving down to Lego Fest, Kyle began to shoot statistics at me that he read from his monthly Lego magazine.  Example, he began to tell me how much it costs to make one mold for a brick and he even knew how many bricks can be made in a day.  I which I could recall the numbers, but unfortunately I didn’t commit that to memory.

Well Lego, great job!  You certainly have a serious fan who will probably be so his entire life.

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

Hurricane Sandy!

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?  ~Matthew 8:23-27

hurricane-sandy alert Aunt Heather PiperWatching tropical storm Sandy, turning into hurricane Sandy has been exciting, especially since Sandy shot up the coastline and made a direct hit for New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington D.C. areas.  Technically speaking it ultimately covered a third of the nation.  In fact, the news reported that they closed down the transit system in New York and the tunnels so no one was allowed in our out, including the stock market.   Now I am not a cynical person and I don’t like to see damage and destruction happen to anyone, but this has been exciting!  Just tracking the storm and watching it as it slowly crept upward and moved toward our area was something to experience.  I don’t ever remember being the red section on the weather channel map before, at least not for a hurricane.  I guess this is our first hurricane since the 1930’s and before that it happened a century earlier.  Over the years we’ve experienced the backlashes and the after effects of such destructive storms, but nothing like this.  Sandy moved up the through the water and made a left hand turn to enter the land over our area.  What an historical event!

Hurricane Sandy World View Aunt Heather Piper Actually, I found out how historic the weather has turned out to be.  Besides being humorously coined Frankenstorm or Superstorm, Sandy is also being called the perfect storm.  What?  Yep!  So now my question is, ‘What makes it a perfect storm?’.  From my understanding the last perfect storm we had was in October of 1991 off of Massachusetts.  It’s the trifecta of bad maxed out storm conditions, basically the combination of the hurricane (high pressure and low pressure), along with the nor’easter coming form the west.  I guess it was puzzling meteorologists because no one has ever seen anything like this.  The winds and rain certainly qualified as a hurricane but no hurricane has ever produced a blizzard before, they are usually warm weather storms.

Speaking of a storm a brewing, Kyle wasn’t feeling very well last night.  He said his tummy was upset and hurting.  He didn’t even turn on the TV as we sat in my living-room, he just asked me to read to him before his piano lessons.  He didn’t even want anything to eat.  I felt so bad for my little man, Kyle really wasn’t himself.  He said he felt sick as soon as he got home from school.  Hopefully it will pass with minimal damage, just like Sandy.  I know Kyle was excited for the two hour delay this morning.  He even flashed me an ornery grin when the comment was made.  Although his class was suppose to have their field trip to the symphony today, maybe it will be rescheduled.

hurricane sandy illustration Aunt Heather PiperDuring, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Casey called and was checking in on the “deer slayer”.  Living in West Virginia near Snowshoe, Casey was getting hit with snow, hard!  I heard they received a couple of feet of fresh, white snow in some places.  After Kyle got off the phone with Casey he said, “When are we getting snow?”  I said, “Hopefully soon!”  Kyle really started thinking and said, “Why are they getting all the snow and we aren’t?”  That’s funny, Kyle wasn’t worried about the hurricane, he wanted to be hit with a blizzard.  Can’t say that I blame him after the lack of snow from last season.

While driving home after Kyle’s lessons the reality of the storm was evident.  Wow!  The wind and the rain were crazy scary!  I’ll admit I didn’t see any trees down but there were electrical lines hanging along the road.  As far as I know, we were only touched by the outermost parts of the hurricane if any at all.  Just seeing the indirect damage Sandy caused really hit home and made me truly appreciate the power of God.  I can’t imagine those poor souls feeling the direct effects of a hurricane.

hurricane-sandy-NC-MA-OH- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle doesn’t handle bad weather well.  As we were driving he mentioned a few times, “Ok Aunt Heather let’s go a lot slower since there’s so much rain.”  I know an eleven year old is telling me how to drive, but I don’t care.  He was just being concerned and safe.  All I could respond was, “You’re right buddy. We’ll take it easy, we don’t want to drive through a swimming pool sized puddle.”  Through our travels, Kyle started picking my brain for my limited knowledge about hurricanes.  He was asking me about Sandy and where it’s going to hit.  During the day as we were tracking the storm’s whereabouts, it hadn’t hit land yet. Even though the coastline along the Carolina’s showed major damage from the winds, rain and waves.

Kyle grabbed my phone and looked up Fox news for the Breaking News alerts.  He sat there and scrolled down through the stories and gave me little highlights.  At one point he turned to me and said, “It hit land!”  Just to keep Kyle from additional worry, I said in a very blasé tone, “O ya? Wonder how your Aunt Nikki is doing?”  Kyle turned to me and said “Umm she’s good, remember I talked to her earlier.  She sounded good.”  That almost make me take a second glance because in crisis situations Kyle’s the first one reaching out to family, ensuring all is well in his world.  As to not start a panic, I replied, “Ya your probably right.”  Well, I got him home safe and did the same for myself before retiring for the night.

This morning, the status of hurricane Sandy turned back into a tropical storm.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been effected by the hurricane.  God Speed.

hurricane-sandy aunt heather piper

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

Ghostly Encounter in the Hallway

Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,

Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide. ~William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Nicole-&-Grandpap-Chester-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole with Grandpap Chester We still have large picture window in front of the house c. 1974

With the release of summer blockbusters, Kyle and I have a list of movies we want to see.  While vacationing with my sister he saw Madagascar 3- Europe’s Most Wanted, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, and Ice Age- Continental Drift.  Naturally, when we see a commercial for Batman- The Dark Knight Rises or Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we both want to see these movies as well.  Yes, Kyle wanted to see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter except it’s rated R, so he’ll have to put that one on his future list.  Every once in a while we’ll see an advertisement for a scary horror flick.  I can’t help myself.  I always ask Kyle, “Do you want to go see that?”  Every time he rolls his eyes with a look of fear and ‘ya right’ and always sternly reply’s “NO!”  Ok I know I’m teasing him, but it does crack me up.  When the movie, The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, Mr. Harry Potter himself, came out I asked Kyle if he wanted to see it.  Now Kyle is a big Harry Potter fan, but every time the movie trailer appeared, he almost always turned his head in fear and wouldn’t watch the advertisement.  Now this is probably the only aspect of Kyle’s existence that is not like my sister.  Nicole used to read Stephen King books and she loved to watch thrillers and scary movies.  Did I mention she goes ghost hunting periodically?  Yep scary thrillers are her thing.

I don’t mind suspenseful thrillers and scary movies but I’m not a die hard fan.  The other day I was thinking of childhood movies that I loved, and one that came to mind was The Watcher In The Woods.  A 1980’s movie starring Bette Davis.  I brought it up to mom, getting her opinion on renting it for Kyle to watch.  It was mutually agreed upon that if I do, I would never be able to get him back in the woods again!  That’s one of those thoughts that just should be deleted.

When did this fear of thrillers and suspense resonate with Kyle?  I’m not really sure.  Kyle was not always like that.  I’ve heard stories about children who hear and see more than adults, spiritually speaking.  Ironically, most adults don’t listen to children, assuming they know more than them or don’t have the time or whatever the reason.  But what’s amazing, I do believe their innocent ears and eyes pick up more than anyone.  Adults have a way of looking at something without truly seeing it.  Our minds are filled with so much crap we can’t sort it out and we can’t see what’s in front of us.  When I think like that, I remember the scene from the movie Where the Heart Is.  During the movie, Ashley Judd was referring to that horrible man who was very inappropriate with her children.  Now I’m going to paraphrase, but she said something along the lines of her children saw him for who he really was, all she saw was a Buick.  That really stuck with me!

My bible study teacher told us this really powerful story of a child in church.  It was during a silent mass, a child turned to her parent and commented on the beautiful music she heard.  First I’d like to explain that silent mass is the opposite of high mass, no singing, no music, just internal reflection and reverence.  You see, it’s said that during mass, heaven and earth join together, the sky opens up and all the deceased, the saints, and angels join us on earth for the celebration of mass, specifically during the Eucharist.  During this time heaven rolls out beautiful sounds.  It is also said that the music coming form heaven is the most glorious and spiritual tunes ever heard!  So maybe that’s what the child heard?  Now doesn’t that story give you chills?

Nicole-1974-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole coming out from the hallway 1974

Kyle has always loved music and dancing, as have I.  So guess what you get when you leave a toddler home alone with me on a Saturday night?  Yep, you get dance party!  When he was smaller, maybe two or three years old, we used to do ‘dance party’.  This didn’t happen too often because, well let’s face it my parents never go anywhere, but on the occasion there was something going on and I would have Kyle all to myself.  Just to shake things up a bit we used to turn off all the lights, decorate ourselves with glow sticks and turn on the music really loud, stand in the living-room and dance our butts off.  Kyle and I would totally bust a move!  It was a blast!  He would move his tiny bum left and right and would throw up his hands, mimicking my motions.  We would dance till we were so winded and covered in sweat that we had no choice but to take a break.  I’m sure anyone who looked in from the outside, through the picture window thought we were crazy, or there seriously was a major party going on.  But alas it was just the two of us having a good time. No wonder Kyle loves playing Just Dance and Michael Jackson on the Wii, of course so do I.

One time during ‘dance party’, we plopped ourselves down on the couch for a breather.  As we sat there pretty much in the dark, except for the glow of our light sticks, Kyle nonchalantly mentioned about the ghost watching us.  What?  I said, “Did you say you see a ghost?”  Very calmly he said, “Ya Aiya.”  Of course, I jump up and turned on the lights and moved my way back to Kyle’s side on the couch.  As I looked around, I saw NOTHING.  Then I started the questions,

“Do you see the ghost now?”
“Ya.”
“Where is the ghost?”
“Over there” as he pointed to the door leading back to the hallway.
“Do you see it now?”
“Yep.”
“Does the ghost see us?”
“I don’t know, I guess.”
“What does it look like?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Like a man?”
“Umm ya I guess.”
“What was it doing? Dancing?”
He laughed at that one and said, “I don’t know just standing there watching us.”
Have you seen it before?”
“Yep. I guess”

Ryan-1979-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan back by the hallway 1979

Well, I was a little uneasy, but very intrigued.  Treating it as if someone else was really in the house, I walked back the hallway to check, and to turn on a few more lights.  Kyle didn’t seemed alarmed, frightened or phased by his announcement.  I can’t say that I felt the same.  As I suspected, I saw nothing out of the ordinary, nor did I feel anything threatening or scary.  What was really funny, was me walking back the hallway whispering, “Ryan if this is you, you better not scare me!” and “Ryan it better be you and you better not show yourself!”  Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to see my brother, but at that moment if I did see him I would have needed a heart pacer.

Weeks later, I did bring this instance up to Kyle again and he didn’t seem to really remember what I was talking about.  He gave me a puzzled look and kind of remembered discussing the ghost but couldn’t give me any specifics.  I like to think it was Kyle’s dad checking in on him.  Maybe Ryan wanted to join our party!  Actually who am I kidding, Ryan was probably laughing at me and wondering why I was teaching his son to dance like that.  Or Ryan was going to finally get even with me for torturing him as a kid and scare the skin right off of me.  Now that I believe!

A year or two ago, I took Kyle to Gettysburg, one of my favorite weekend getaways.  Nicole was there following her alumni Paranormal State and Kyle and I just wanted to get away.  I must say I love taking ghost tours, not that I think I’m going to see a ghost, but usually those tours are so full of history and really fun stories that peek my interest.  They are enlightening and you always learn something.  While in Gettysburg, Kyle and I decided to take a ghost tour, which he insisted on.  Naturally it was at night and our tour guide was dressed in period attire.  At the very beginning of the tour, she started talking about the ghosts around the area.   She posed the question to the group, “How do you know you’re looking at a ghost?” with everyone just looking at each other waiting for her response of “They don’t have any feet.”  Just then Kyle, grabbed my arm and was gasping for air, while pointing to the lady’s feet.  The way her dress flared out cast a dark shadow under her skirt and made it look like she had no feet, just hovering over the ground.  I almost died laughing, yet I tried to bring rational thinking back to Kyle to calm his mind, so we could get through the tour without having him age ten years.  I had to ask the lady to pull up her skirt to show her feet.  That satisfied Kyle for the moment, although he never really did get too close to her during the tour and gave her a look like it was a trick.  In fact, he was pretty much up my butt the entire way, almost tripping me several times as we made our way past the campus.

One of the story’s our knowledgeable tour guide told us, involved spirits and an open closet door.  For the life of me I can’t remember the details, but the saga stuck with Kyle.  As the narration was being told, Kyle pulled on my arm and said, “Aunt Heather what am I going to do?  My closet doesn’t have a door yet?”  Kyle always picks the worst time to talk, because I was trying to the listen to the tour guide.  It didn’t even dawn on me that he was associating this story to himself and it was geeking him out.  I was too busy paying attention to the history lesson.  By the time we got back to the hotel, Kyle’s fear of the closet was very apparent.  He took one look at the closet, which happened to be right beside our bed and about crapped his pants.  He didn’t even want me to take a shower, for fear of being left along with the closet.  The night prior he slept on that side of the bed, closest to the closet, but on that night he switched with me and practically slept wedged under my body, to completely hide him.

As Kyle got older, I never heard of the ghost again and as far as I know he doesn’t have issues with closets.  Now-a-days Kyle is afraid of the dark, strange noises, the thought of something scarey and the list goes on and on.  Even if I would comment that there was a ghost in the hallway, Kyle would never go to his room again!  If I would bring up the closet story to him, he would instantly own a fear of it, even though I know he doesn’t remember.  I guess that’s just kids in general, they go through phases.  Some I’m glad he is done with, others I which I knew more about, particularly the ghost in the hallway.

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

Storm Has Arrived!

They say the test of literary power is whether a man can write an inscription. I say, ‘Can he name a kitten?’  ~Samuel Butler

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Me & Storm

Friday’s tend to be a whirl wind of hustle and bustle and this past one became a tornado.   Right after I picked up the package, (Kyle) we ran to the grocery store, then back to mom and dad’s to make dinner.  Sometime in the middle I had to let the dogs out, and start a fire in the backyard for hot dogs and mountain pies, as promised to Kyle.  Yikes!  I was seriously in high gear, tripping over a ten year old and two dogs in the kitchen, who all wanted to be planted up my butt and I just wanted to hurry up and get out the door to get a run in before dark.  In the middle of this somewhat organized chaos, Kyle told me a friend of mine was on my phone.  She informed me that she had a kitten for me.  What a surprise!  My friend Holsters found me a cute little tiger stripped kitten!

Then to add to the events, Holsters sent me a text message containing a picture of the three cute little grey tiger stripped kittens with blue eyes.  At this point, Kyle wanted to know what my excitement was when I was on the phone and I told him about the surprise.  Now Kyle is equally as excited as I.

Once Holsters gave me the call, I didn’t know what to do.  I just started the fire in the backyard, mom and dad weren’t home yet, and dinner was half done on the stove.  I made baked stuffed zucchini and a cowboy casserole, both found on Pinterest and both were really good.  Being informed that we had to pick up the kitten tonight, or schedule another time to do so, which I didn’t want to wait, I started to evaluate my situation and concoct a new plan.  Since mom and dad still weren’t home, being late from work, Kyle was going to have to come with me to pick up the new bundle.  Then, I was going to bring them both back to the house and hopefully someone resembling an adult figure was going to be home, so I could leave for a run.  Informing Kyle of my plans, he says to me, “Aunt Heather since the dogs are pretty much like watch dogs and they are pretty protective of me, could you just leave me here with Seven and Scooby?  Gigi and pappy will be home soon.”  What?  I said, “I don’t think so buddy, they are dogs, not adults and you are ten, not thirteen.”  He just kind of shrugged his shoulders.  Then maybe five minutes later, just as I turned off the stove and was getting ready to put a screen over the fire, Kyle said, “You can go Aunt Heather.” I said, “You’re not staying by yourself in the house.”  He spoke up correcting my assumption by saying, “No pappy just pulled in.”  Perfect timing!  Just as my dad walked in the door, I heard Kyle say, “Guess what Aunt Hot Dogs got us?  A kitten, there are three of them we can have.”  Dad just said, “O ya?” as I basically ran out the door with excitement, telling dad I’ll be right back.

Once I got to Holly’s, I made up my mind that we were going to get our run in first, or else it would never happen and we have a race to run this Friday.  Apparently at this point I was so excited, that when we exited Holly’s house getting ready to add some mileage to our shoes, I noticed my car door was just hanging open.  I didn’t even remember to close the door.  O boy!  Can’t tell when my mind was elsewhere.

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Storm's siblings... how could I resist? 6/22/12

As we ran the neighborhood, we actually pasted the house with the kittens.  At this point, Holly and I were both painfully excited and couldn’t wait any longer,  We cut our run short with the sheer anticipation of meeting a new member of the Piper household and headed back to get the new addition.

The owners of the kittens were very nice people and let me pick one out.  Even though all three kittens were very similar looking, I did bond with one instantly.  The gentlemen, which I don’t remember his name, probably because I practically knocked down in the front door as I barged into the house, showed me the kitten’s mom.  She was mostly all white.  Interesting.  They also had a young son, who was so very sweet.  I checked in with their son, who looked to be about five or so, to make sure it was alright with him to take a kitten.  He gave me a big smile and nodded.  Too cute!  As I exited the house with my new pile of fur, I noticed that I never even removed my shoes at the door!  Yikes!  When I’m excited, I apparently become very rude.  Their house was spotless and here I’m standing in my shoes that just traipsed around the neighborhood and still pouring with sweat.  My sincerest apologies!  Soon I will have to stop by and bring the little boy something and let them know how the kitten was doing.

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Me & Storm 6/22/12

The kitten rode back with me in my lap, meowing a little here and there.  As I walked in the front door, Kyle was there eagerly greeting us.  He said, “Come on let’s show Gigi and pappy.”  Well, dad was already asleep on the couch and I didn’t want to wake him so we headed out back to find mom.  Mom wasn’t too thrilled, although from my understanding, she was more relieved that I only had one little bundle of fluff and not three.

One thing I can count on, is getting the complete conversation regarding the kitten from Kyle, while I was gone.  Kyle did not disappoint.  He said, “Gigi said you can take all the cats to your house if you want them so bad.”  What is too funny, Kyle is not shy about calling anyone out on what they say.  Fact is fact and if you said it, he will completely reiterate it and say it back to your face, which he did, in front of mom, who just sat there and rolled her eyes.  Kyle instantly told me that “Gigi’s not really happy about the kitten.”  Then mom said, as if waiting for someone to take her side, “What did pappy have to say about this?”.  Kyle said, “He said, that’s good, Aunt Heather needs a cat.”  That’s my dad!  He told Kyle, after Her Name was Pudd’in passed, that we need a cat in the house.

When talking to Nicole on the phone, she snapped out saying, “Aunt Heather maybe you could clean out the litter box instead of Gigi.” and I simply stated “I have this gag reflex thing, it makes it hard for me to clean out the litter box.  I used to years ago, but it’s hard for me now.”  Kyle quickly justified my statement by saying, “Don’t worry Aunt Heather, I have this gag reflex thing too.  Once when I was on the bus and there was this smell, I don’t know what it was but it made me gag and I threw up.”   O Kyle!  That is too funny!

Me, mom and Kyle sat around the fire talking to Aunt Nikki on speaker phone thinking of names for the new arrival.  My sister is the queen with naming animals.  She’s actually named quite a few of my cats over the years including Draco, Vega, Deneb and Pudd’in.  In fact, the only cat I had, that I can remember naming all on my own was my precious Morticia.  As we started to think of names, I naturally went to my books throwing out names such as Katniss (Hunger Games), Lucinda (Fallen), Esme (Twilight) and I really liked the name Neville (Harry Potter).

Then as the names continued to fly, but not really clicking, Kyle being Mr. Logical, said, “Umm let me think Aunt Heather.  We call Seven and Scooby, Thunder and Lightening.” as the thoughts were forming in his head, Nicole, on speaker phone said, “Storm”.  I perked up saying, “Ya, from the X-men!”  She quickly popped my bubble by saying, “Well, no I was just thinking of a storm.  But I guess.”  Kyle’s eyes got really bright and said, “Storm!”   As I laughed, I said, “Umm I don’t know Kyle, I really like Neville.”  He instantly said, “Nope, it’s Storm!”

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Me & Storm in the car 6/22/12

Ok, I’m not really sure why Kyle was telling me what my kitten’s name was, but it didn’t surprise me.  Nicole and I started to reminisce when Kyle named Scooby.  You see he was a big fan of Scooby Doo, the cartoon.  At that time, Kyle was probably around four years old and he gave us a choice for the dog’s name of Scooby or Flame On, from The Fantastic Four.  Everyone unanimously agreed on, Scooby.  Nicole and I laughed and told Kyle, “Could you image calling the dog, ‘Here Flame On'”  We were cracking up!  Then Kyle spoke up saying, “Ok Aunt Heather, the kitten’s name is Storm.”  I said, “Why?” and he instantly said, “Because you got to pick Scooby’s name, so I get to pick the kitten’s name.”  O Kyle!  He is too much!

Needless to say, I really didn’t have much of a say so in the matter.  Kyle instantly started to call the kitten Storm and he informed me that the kitten is already used to her name so we have to stick with it.  Clever Kyle!  Well, the name did wear off on me and stuck.  Storm has arrived!

As we departed on Sunday night, Kyle explained to me that Storm was more attached to me because I drove the kitten home.   Then he immediately made a comparison to when he rode home holding Scooby as a puppy.  He said, “That’s why me and Scooby are so close.  How did you get Storm home?”  I replied, “I held her in my lap as I drove.”  Reassuring his thoughts, he said, “Ya Aunt Heather you held her when you brought her home.  So now she’s going to be close to you.”  Apparently, according to Kyle when you bring an animal home, while sitting on your lap, it solidifies the bond between the pet and owner.  Interesting theory.  Is it like making ‘the bond with the halo’? (humor reference to Avatar).

Well after an eventful weekend, Storm has warmed her way into our hearts already.  Even Seven seems was behaving and now has taken the responsibility of watching the kitten and following her around.  Scooby checked out Storm when I first brought her in the house, but then could care less.  Now whenever we want to find Storm, we just ask Seven, “Where’s the kitty?” and he starts sniffing around and points her out.  Yep, I think this is going to work.  One of the best surprises!  Thanks Aunt Hot Dogs!

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

My Turn to Strike Out!

Temper is a funny thing; it spoils children, ruins adults, and strengthens steel.  ~Unknown

Kyle at Chad's Wedding 8-31-02 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at Chad's wedding. I dressed him in a suit. 8/31/02

Well, usually when Kyle acts up and I have to get mad, he straightens up.  But then again, not always.  I will say, Kyle has not been feeling well, with the ear infections and his allergies kick’in out of control, but that’s no excuse for being difficult.  But when I am in the wrong, I will call it out and show that Kyle’s Whining, Stubborn, Difficult – Strike Out! is not the only one who can strike out.  Two weekends ago Kyle continued where he left off from that Wednesday.  Well, to be fair to him, not entirely, but it was I who was still simmering.  My fuse had already been partially burned.  Kyle was pretty good, he even walked to the local store with me on Friday night and he took a walk with me and the dogs on Saturday morning.  Now I’m not saying he started off walking with speed and gusto, but he did make the effort.  We went through the usual complaining about the socks, and then he complained about his boots, and he didn’t want to wear his hoodie, even though it was in the 40s -50s on Saturday.  This is all pretty standard, but when my fuse is already almost non-existent, it doesn’t take much.  I will say I did make a resounding observation during our journey.  Across the board, during our expeditions, especially the longer the walk, Kyle’s attitude straightens up.  Maybe it’s the endorphins or maybe the quality time, or just being around nature.  Whatever the reason is, I love it and it makes for a more enjoyable walk.

When we got back to the house, we made lunch for everyone including roasted vegetables.  Kyle volunteered to help, he was a peeling machine.  The rest of the day went pretty straight forward, we watched the Green Lantern, ran to the store to pick up a birthday gift for Kyle’s friend, he worked in his workbooks when I asked, and later in the evening Kyle went to the grocery story with dad to help him out. Kyle and I even had the opportunity to start the next Harry Potter book, The Half-Blood Prince book.  Now was Kyle the perfect child, no, but when asked by my mom to load and unload the dishwasher he ignored her and he didn’t practice his instruments.  However, in the scope of things, he really impressed me.

Now moving into Sunday and how I completely struck out.  Since mom was not feeling well, actually most of the weekend, Kyle and I went to early mass, followed by CCD class.  He was really good in church.  Before hand, we did have an issue with buttoning of one of the buttons, which by no means was even close to his neck.  Then there was the standard argument about wearing his hoodie, which he always drags along beside him as if he’s so completely tortured by the piece of clothing.  This time Kyle didn’t serve mass and he was very attentive and the most reverend child sitting in the pew.  He participated in the hymns and when I asked him what the reading was about, I was surprised by Kyle’s attentiveness to some of the details recited in the literary.  Impressed!

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Kyle's First Holy Communion. He was allowed to pick out his tie, but he had to wear a suit.

As lunchtime crepted upon us, I knew we had to leave around 1:00ish so I could drive Kyle to his friends birthday party, a good 45 minutes away.  Not that I mind, not at all, but when Kyle doesn’t appreciate and expect things, it sometimes wears on me.  He was getting ready to leave and the one thing that really bugs me is Kyle’s appearance.  It has drove me crazy for years now.  He always looks so sloppy and unkempt.  He can wear a variety of cloths and still not look so sloppy.  Not to mention, there are appropriate cloths needed for different occasions.  Now I was the one who was insisting on him wearing nice slacks.  Ok, I was going overboard since I already knew Kyle doesn’t like buttons and zippers on pants and this was a birthday party for boys who were planning on playing outside.  Well, he just had a complete melt down by my mention of the slacks.  I told him I would take him to the store to get new, “nice” pants and a matching shirt for his birthday party, but he just sobbed.  Later, I found out that he thought I was going to make him wear church cloths.  I mean the absolute horror of the thought. (sarcasm)

Once we got to the store I was still completely ticked.  In fact, I told him, you’re on your own, you find your own cloths.  He was excited and nervous by the gesture and now the time was flying past us and he didn’t want to miss any part of the party.  Not that I blame him, considering the boys were planing on having a Nerf war in the birthday boy’s backyard.  As I was acting like him, and walking extremely slowly I realized, ‘Now who is acting like a spoiled kid.’  Yes, I’m embarrassed to say I was acting like Kyle just to show him how it feels.  As he was trying to make small talk with me, I was just saying “Ya, No, I don’t know.” etc. just like Kyle does.  I was kind of being mean, certainly not one of my finer moments.  He was even being considerate and went to the sell rack, he said “Aunt Heather this way if I get dirt on them it really doesn’t matter.”  Now what a sweet kid, which you would think would melt my stone cold heart, but nope not yet.

Then as we drove to our final destination, I started going below the speed limit, which anyone who really knows me is aware of my led foot.  But then I realized Kyle might be late, and that bothered me more than making a point.  You see, I had being late even if it’s not for me.  I can’t stand tardiness, no matter what.  Then I noticed the excitement in Kyle’s eyes, knowing he has been waiting for this party for a few weeks now and it was a beautiful day.  Not to mention the patience Kyle was exemplifying.  Yikes!  How could I be so mean?  Well, I got him to the party just on the money and gave the house mom my cell phone number  just in case they needed to get a hold of me.  I left and found a local park, since I lived about an hour away and the party was only two and a half hours long, I decided to do laps, making the most out of the beautiful day.  When I picked up Kyle, I heard he was polite and well behaved, but he clearly didn’t want to leave, as he slowly worked his way to my car.

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Kyle watching Scooby as he found a bone c. 2012

Kyle was such a happy boy the rest of the day and I apparently was not.  We usually leave my parents house around 8:00 or so on Sunday evenings to go back to my house.  This particular Sunday I was working on SpyRing and Kyle came to me bugging me to leave, I said, “It’s only 6:00?” and then I went into a rant saying “O I have to leave when Kyle says so, everything is revolved around Kyle and when he wants to do things, without taking others into consideration” and so on and so forth.  What I didn’t realize Kyle just wanted to spend some time with me and he wanted me to sit and read with him.  Ok, totally my turn to strike out!  After I collected my thoughts and started thinking like a rational person, we left.  In the car I apologized for my behavior.  To lighten the mood and not make him feel so bad, I found a few fun songs on the radio, turned them up really loud, and sang along in the worse tone imaginable, while I threw up my hands around and poked Kyle in the side.  He just sat there and laughed, probably thinking, ‘There’s something wrong with my Aunt Heather.’

The minute we walked in the house, Kyle quickly grabbed the book and directed me to the chair to commence reading.  He sat along the side of the chair, partially leaning on me and reading along as he always does.  I’m glad he suggested the reading, it gave us much needed peace and time together.  When we read like that the TV is never turned on, we get completely engrossed in the story.  After all Reading Brings Generations Together.  That’s the joy of a family, after all is said and done, a little quality times makes everything perfect again and all is forgotten and forgiven.

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

Imagination, Completely Into It!

Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.  ~Albert Einstein

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Until his ipod, you couldn't pry Kyle's Nitendo DS from his hands... (T-shirt courtesy of Aunt Nikki)

Kyle is definitely a logical person, very uniformed and structured in his thinking and habits.  He thinks things through, and in order to accept the way something is dictated or presented to him, he has to have a full understanding and it has to make logical sense.  If not, he has no trouble questioning, anyone!

Although, I am happy with this level of logic Kyle exemplifies.  I am also happy to have observed his inner creativity on a number of occasions from Listening to a Child’s Thoughts and Afraid of a Story.  Kyle does have a very vivid imagination!  This is so true for movies, books, video games and even walking back the hallway to his room.  Granted, I get it, Kyle is after all a kid, and majority of children have imaginations to some degree, but Kyle physically feels the story.  However, the opposite is true, when something doesn’t capture his attention.  He is not interested and doesn’t give it the time of day.  But, once Kyle’s mind is engrossed in the subject, he is mentally and physically committed.

While watching cartoons, movies and playing video games, Kyle brings the action to life through his verbal and animated gestures.  It seems the natural course of action goes like this:  Kyle sees the subject of interest, the visual enters through his eyes and ears, it makes its way around his brain, then exists through his mouth and arms.  Kyle will literally makes the gun and car sounds, his version of a running noise, or mimics the background music, especially if it emphasizes tension or suspense.

During his video game battles when things  start heating up, Kyle throws up his hands and begins rubbing his head, as if in a stressful motion, and his whole body tenses.  It’s rather funny!

When Kyle was probably around five or so, he would ride around in the shopping cart in the store, usually playing his Nintendo DS.  One time, just out of curiosity, mom and I pushed the cart containing Kyle, to the middle of the isle and we proceeded to hide at the other end, peeking at Kyle from around shelved merchandise.  This was my experiment, to see how long it would take Kyle to leave his game, come back to reality, and realize he was alone and not moving anymore.  Just as we started to execute the experiment, one guy in the isle watched us and wondered what the heck we were doing.  That is until he gave us a devilish grin and saw the kid in the cart intently playing his video game.  It took Kyle close to ten minutes before he realized he was along and we were gone, well actually hidden out of immediate sight.  Mom and I almost fell over laughing as we peeked around the isle to watch him.  He first just happened to look up, then to his surprise he was alone, no one was in the isle.  All we heard him say was, “Hello?” like he was answering a telephone!  No screaming, no immediate panic, kind of just curious.  It was too much, mom and I busted out laughing and came walking toward Kyle.  He sat there with the biggest grin ever!  He said, “I was wondering where you went?”  I said, “You didn’t even notice we were gone.”  He just smile, knowing the point I was making.

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Kyle's dinosaur drawing 9/18/11

This past weekend was really rainy, cold and dreary.  The ingredients for a perfect book weekend, well the perfect time to do some baking too.  Kyle was almost done with his Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book, so we sat and read it together.  I really enjoy creating intensity while reading, through the rhythm of the words, the pace the sentences are read, and the proper use of enunciation and exclamation.  On Sunday night, we both squeezed in the chair in my living-room and picked up where we left off from earlier.  It was pretty intense.  Every time I turned the page, Kyle was rubbing his head, throwing up his hands in an excited motion, and letting out squeals.  He truly makes reading fun, and brings the excitement of the stories to life!  I hope Kyle keeps that intensity through life!

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

Reading Brings Generations Together

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of the generations and nations.  ~Henry David Thoreau

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Me & Nicole ready for Easter mass, holding our new books c.1979

As Kyle continues on his journey through Harry Potter (Order of the Phoenix), he seems to also be interested in what I’m reading.  It’s no secret that my sister and I have read The Hunger Games, a couple of times, and we did anticipate the movie launch with much excitement.  Kyle was certainly interested in the books and asked me about them on a number of occasions.  Nicole and I have discussed letting him read the books.  I told him when he finishes his Harry Potter books, he can certainly start The Hunger Games.  Once, when we were talking about the movie coming out, Kyle said to me, “You know I’ll wait to see the movie first to see if I want to read those books.”  Yikes!  No that’s not the way it’s suppose to be.  I told him, “Kyle the books are ALWAYS better than the movies.  You miss so much if you just see the movie.  You get to use your imagination and escape when you are reading. I promise you, you will love these books, they are easy to read and will keep your attention.  Plus the fun part about getting so involved in a book is the excitement you share with other fans when movies are released based on books.”  First let’s step back to analyze this.  Nicole and I weren’t sure if Kyle was old enough to read the books, and just because of his reaction, my logic was turned completely around to the point where I was now pushing the books on him.  Ummm, he is a smart little man!

Regardless, it’s neat to see Kyle’s interest in what Nicole and I are interested in.  It’s no secret Kyle hears us talking about a new book coming out, a book being turned into a movie, or simply the stories themselves.  Nicole and I both still purchase the old fashioned words printed on paper.  Neither one of us are really interested in reading electronic books, at least not just yet. We still enjoy swapping books back and forth, which I think gets Kyle intrigued and influences him by our actions.

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Me on Easter morning, probably really early in the morning c.1979

Sometimes when Kyle is working on his homework, I’ll sneak in a few pages of whatever book I’m on, while waiting for him to finish up, to check his work.  A little while ago, I was reading The Millennium Series, better known as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  Kyle came over to me and asked, “What are you reading?”  He inspected the cover of the book, which is the original, plain with a canvas type of cover, not the movie cover.  He flipped it over and there was a very yellow inside page with a map of Sweden on the inside.  He instantly said, “Wow, look at that! What’s the book about?” I tried to generally explain it’s a mystery thriller and one of the main characters is a hacker who is a genius and the other main character is an investigative journalist.  He was really intrigued by the plain book.  He gave me a look of ‘Do you think I would like it?’, until I read his thought and instantly jumped ahead of the question by saying, “This is an adult book.  It’s really very good, but a little too violent for you.”  That satisfied him and he omitted the thought from his mind.  At least for now.

You know, two weeks ago Kyle pulled out his Harry Potter book and was sitting there reading in the living-room.  The TV was blaring but it didn’t seem to bother Kyle, he was pretty engrossed in the words on the page.  Just then dad turned to Kyle and said, “Whatcha reading buddy?”  Kyle responded with a very brief, “Harry Potter.”  It seemed as though now at that moment, dad wanted to have a conversation with Kyle, which I knew was not going to happen.  He was too involved in the story, but that didn’t stop dad.  Sometimes my dad is so thick, he never pays attention, yet sometimes he is so intuitive that it’s almost shocking.  Anyway, this is one of those times when dad was just being thick and didn’t notice Kyle didn’t want to be disturbed.  Dad proceeded to ask, “Is it good?  Do you like those books?”  Kyle not even looking up from his book gave him a very short, “Ya”.

Ryan-Easter-1979-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan Easter morning. He always had a sweet tooth! c.1979

Guessing those short comments didn’t satisfy dad, because he decided to talk about his old reading habits.  I knew my dad was a reader, but I had forgotten.  Ever since dad’s eyes needed the assistance of reading classes, he really doesn’t read much.  Regardless, dad went on to say, “Yep Kyle you don’t know it, but your old pappy used to read all the time.  There wasn’t a book in the library that didn’t have my name on it.”  Just then I saw Kyle break away from the imaginative world he was visiting, to listen.  Dad went on, “Yes and even Gigi was a reader.  We both liked to read.  I’m glad to see you like reading too.”  Kyle nodded and was now giving dad his attention, but with a ‘Really?’ look.

My parents love of reading seems like a thing of a faint memory, but I absolutely remember it.  My mom would read poems and short stories to us.  For some reason the only author that comes to mind was Edgar Allan Poe, specifically the poem Bells!  She would read it with such great rhythm and timing, you couldn’t help but get excited and get wrapped up in the ringing of the bells.  Another book that sticks out was North and South, and I remember her talking about some book on drug wars and discussing it with her friends.  That’s funny, but looking back on it now, I see things from Kyle’s perspective.  You know, growing up around such an interest in books does stays with you.  Believe it or not, I remember thinking, I would like to read that book on drug wars.  It seemed so interesting, that was before I knew about drugs or even where Columbia was located, but I knew I wanted to read what mom was talking about.  Now dad’s reading choice consisted of mainly history books, specifically wars.  I was never a big war buff, but I always liked hearing about history, still do.  I guess I was pretty lucky to have parents who indirectly influenced us.  I mean it was a given that every Easter we would have new books in our Easter baskets.  A tradition I have adopted for Kyle.

Kyle mentioned that some of his friends had already read through all the Harry Potter books.  I know he can’t wait till I read them.  Finishing the first one with Kyle when he went through his I HATE READING! phase and the follow up, Harry Potter Made Me Do It!  He told me that his friends are always asking him what part of the book he’s on.  I’m sure they discuss the books, just like I do with my friends.

It’s amusing, but it’s true, books create a different type of interest and communication that literally spans generations.  Well, sometimes Reading Brings Generations Together…Or Not?.  Whether its fiction or some other type of genre, there is always a reason to discuss or give an opinion, and there is always so much to learn.

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

Going Retro with Star Wars – 3-D

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.  ~Yoda

Star-Wars-3D_poster-Aunt-Heather-PiperTwo Friday’s ago, I took Kyle to see Star Wars, The Phantom Menace in 3-D playing in the theaters.  It’s funny, as I sat there and looked around a very packed movie theater, I noticed Star Wars really does span generations.  They even had a person dressed as Darth Vader behind the concession stand.  The crazy thing is, Darth Vader isn’t even in the first Star Wars movie, yet all the kids lining up for popcorn knew who he was.  Even, our 3-D glasses were Star Wars branded!  It’s pretty cool to share a phenomena with Kyle, that I too shared as a child, a neat common ground and an overlapped interest.  As I sat there waiting for the movie I reflected and realized that I have been a part of this craze, pretty much since its birth.  I saw all the original Star Wars movies in the theaters, then I saw them all digitally remastered, then the first three movies, and now the first Star Wars in 3-D.  This franchise has really maintained its popularity and grew with each new generation.  Kyle watches the cartoons, Star Wars the Clone Wars.  When I was a kid we watched the Ewoks Cartoon.  I will admit I started getting into reading the books which, recently I’ve passed to Kyle.

I’ve talked about  Going Retro With Star Wars before.  But I must admit it is still amazing to see the Star Wars fan base and the age assortment of those fans.  It makes me wonder what else has become a cult following like Star Wars that has lasted for generations?  I really don’t know of any.  Possibly because the fan base grew old and the obsession wore off?  Or is it because my parents never really got into any past phenomenons before to pass down to my generation?  I guess that’s not entirely true if you count Grease.  Everyone knows the songs and that musical has been classically redone over the years.  So I guess if that is true, then I should include the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  Each having their own followers that dress up when the local theater plays the musicals from time to time.

Already knowing that the Twilight series will continue to remain a favorite for generations to come, at least among women, is no secret.  The franchise not only has done will financially, but it has a following that consists of those having a true interest and are driven by passion behind the story.  Admittedly, I am on of those millions that share in the attraction.  Another series that might maintain their die hard fans would be Harry Potter.  By default they have already span the generation gap and painted a magical world for their followers to come to request. Recently, if I had to forecast, this same enthusiasm is going to stay strong among the fans of The Hunger Games.  Even before the first movie hits the big screen, I am saying that with complete confidence.

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Me & Kyle in the movie theater watching Star Wars 3-D 2/10/12

So, is it just in recent times that we have been brought into the presence of great writing or fascinating stories?  No, I know that’s really not true.  There have been some very powerful classic books written, with great character development and storylines.  But maybe it’s the times of pop culture, the big screen entertainment and heart throbbing actors who have captured our attention in addition to the storyline?  Or is it our culture now-days to want to reach for something, to be apart of something so popular?  Maybe it’s the excitement of these releases that gets us all caught up in the story?  It’s also no secret that the amount of information that is disseminated exponentially is over-whelming.  It can be retrieved with a few clicks of the mouse and voila, stories on actors, directors, authors, other fans, events, trends, you name it.  I can see where it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the hype.  Perhaps if William Shakespeare lived in another time, he may have been a mega star during his living years.  I know he was popular during his time period, but I guess if he lived in present days, his name would expand to all ends of the earth.  Although, I am not forgetting that his works have traveled through time and he is a household name.  Sometimes I wonder how Romeo and Juliette would have been handled?  Of course that movie did hit the big screen a few years ago staring Leonardo DiCaprio (I liked it!)  The same goes for my favorite Midsummer Night’s Dream.  But what about MacBeth, Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew, and Julius Caesar.  Maybe Shakespeare would have been a red carpet celebrity with his plays and he would have made big names of his actors if he sprang up in Hollywood.  But would he have started a popular craze?

I truly believe that a lot of pop culture trends revolve around hype, but I also believe that there is something real there, something to get the ball the rolling.  We Are All Children At Heart , I truly undoubtedly believe that.  Maybe it’s because this new generation is staying younger longer, even though they are maturing younger.  Is that possible?  At any rate what are your thoughts on pop culture and the newest trends?

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination and have Comments (2)

Harry Potter Made Me Do It!

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

Kyle reading Harry Potter 12-7-11

Kyle reading Harry Potter. 12/7/11

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

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

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

Are We Alone book - Aunt Heather Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the prequel I HATE READING!

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