Playing As Kids – Building Forts & Making Gold

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read other related blogs

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

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

Imagination, Completely Into It!

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


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.


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

Singing Alleluia!

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.  ~Maya Angelou


Kyle sport'n Nicole's Turbie Twist 2001

Everyone knows I can’t sing, plain and simple.  I wish I could, but alas I was not blessed with the gift of music.  In fact, I think I’m slightly tone deaf, but regardless, I do love music and sometimes I just have to belt it out.  I am also a bit of an instigator, no big surprise there.  Sometimes I need to fulfill my need to sing and antagonize, what better way than through the repetition of rejoicing through song.  Then when you put the need to squeak out, off beat musical lyrics, with my natural ability to push someone’s buttons, you get a lot of irritation.

There are times when I am just inspired by great music and I want to sing.  I feel happy and joyous and I certain let it out to let the world know!  For example, when we leave church and they play my favorite songs, it truly makes my day!  I can’t help it, when you hear the organ kicking How Great Thou Art, America, or Amazing Grace, you just want to continue singing those songs all day long.  There are a number of other tunes I adore that are played in church, but alas they are escaping me at the moment.  Not only are they great songs that rejuvenate the soul, but they also take me back to my childhood.  I remember listening to the same songs, sitting in the pews of the same church, with my family and my classmates from Sacred Heart.  Then when we get home, just like I was a kid, I’m still singing the songs.  Sometimes very slight and subtle and sometimes you’d swear I was on stage performing for an entire arena.


Kyle's play at daycare was a hit! c.2004

What really cracks me up is Kyle.  He does the exact same thing!  Out of no where I’ve hear him repeat a song or a line of a song and bellow it out like he was an opera singer.  Especially when we leave church, just like me.  He will continue singing the song or Kyle’s favorite, Alleluia.  Yep, that’s his old stand by for anything, especially if something goes his way or turns out right, like a Lego creation, you’ll hear Kyle sing, ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  He even uses his hands as if he’s a conductor or lifts them in a fashion as if the light of God was shining down on him.  It’s hilarious!  I even join him in his jubilation.

Then there are times when it’s not a song, but a word or a phrase, usually heard in a movie or on a show.  I can’t help myself, I just have the urge to keep repeating it.  My sister will appreciate this one.  When we were in Los Angeles, on our way to our hotel room, I all of a sudden I started saying, “Hey you what’s your dream?  Hey mista, what’s your dream?, everyone’s got a dream.”  If you didn’t know it’s a line from Pretty Women, from a side character without a name.  Nicole knew instantly where I got that from.  She laughed at first and then said, “You better not do this the entire time we’re here.”  You know what?  I did!  I just felt like it.  The funny thing is, I do it when you least expect it.  Although, even Nicole has to laugh over that one.  As I think back on it now, my brother used to repeat that line too! But he was much funnier.

Sometimes there’s no reason for the outburst, just to do it.  One weekend a few months ago, Nicole was home and out of no where I walked around saying “Watcha self!” with complete gusto.  Where I got that phrase, I have no idea.  But I thought it was so funny.  So at random times throughout the entire weekend, you’d hear me project, “Watcha self!”  With small giggles to appease me, Nicole would say, “Yes Aunt Heather.”  Even Kyle thought it was funny, or he enjoyed me tormenting my sister.  Either way, he decided to join in, to get a rise out of Nicole no doubt.  She just laughed and I believe I saw her roll her eyes at us.

That following weekend, I was at the computer and Kyle was playing with his Lego’s behind me, then all of a sudden Kyle said, “Hey Aunt Heather, Watcha Self!”  That was a classic!  I instantly stopped and started laughing as I turned around.  Then to get him going, I belted it out, “Watcha Self!”  Then of course taking the most of the situation I said, “Hey let’s get Aunt Nikki on the phone.”  Kyle, with this devilish grin, nodded his head and instantly agreed.  I love my buddy, he is truly the coolest cat!!  Sometimes it little stupid moments that show we are related and cement our bond further. What’s your Alleluia?

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,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


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.


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 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

Listening to a child’s thoughts.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.  ~Albert Einstein

Kyle Piper playing with his legos

While playing legos, Kyle creates different worlds and characters.

Sometimes after swimming I’ll take Kyle to Sheetz to get an MTO (Made-To-Order).  This past week, I needed to fuel up the car so we stopped to get a quick sandwich.  When we were waiting inside for our order, Kyle and I just so happen to be standing right in front of the doughnut display.  Now I don’t think there’s any treat that Kyle’s likes more than a doughnut!  When he realized what stood behind him, I knew our mission was compromised.  He gave me one of those innocent, question type of sideways smile.  His eyes said, “Can I have a doughnut?”  Almost as quick as his eyes questioned me, my eyes and smile simply said, “No.”  I gave him a big hug and said, “We don’t need doughnuts.”  He said, “Yes but I love them so much!”  I told him I agreed, but we didn’t need the extra fat, especially this late in the evening.

I expected a little bit of an argument or convincing from Kyle, and I was ready to hold my ground, but neither happened.  In fact, what he did next totally cracked me up!  He stood there and admired the doughnuts.  He then told me about each one. He described what he thought each would taste like and which one would be the best.  He read each doughnut’s name out loud and criticized the name and the look of the doughnut.

Kyle Piper leaving the Lego store in New York City

Kyle's Aunt Nikki took him to the Lego store in NYC. You can just hear him dreaming up different battles.

He then reached for the door handle and slightly opened the glass door of the doughnut display, closed his eyes, and took a big whiff of the doughnut aroma.  He said, “Umm Aunt Heather, they smell so good. What if I would just take a nibble out of each one?”  I laughed and said, “Then it would look like a mouse was running around loose in there.”  Kyle said, “Ya, then no one would suspect me of eating a piece of each doughnut.”  Then he went into a whole story about him being a mouse.  He told me which doughnut would be eaten first.  He was so engrossed in his story, including sound effects, that he didn’t notice people passing by and watching him.  I know he made their day just because of the amount of smiles being exchanged.  I think he was meaning to talk to me, but he really was lost in his own thought, humoring himself.

Kyle Pipers Bakugon line-up

Kyle's Bakugon figures all lined-up... ready for battle!

When did we, as adults, lose that imagination? I am happy to say that, while I don’t use it all the time, it does make it’s way to the forefront of my mind and get loose from my lips.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments
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