Celebration of a Real Parent!

There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love.  ~Shmuley Boteach

Kyle's Catch Fishing Derby 5-9-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle is quick with the cell phone, to record his big catch of the day at the Fishing Derby. 5/9/15

The other day I was given this article to read, entitled Dad found not guilty for taking tween’s phone away.  That peeked my interest immediately.  Teenager vs. Aunt Heather Part 3 – Flexing the Attitude and there have been many more issues with Kyle and that stupid cell phone.  Between the arguments, blow ups, obsession, disrespect and just plain annoyance, Kyle’s iPhone has certainly been the topic of many conversations.

Honestly, I don’t remember if I ever discussed the major issues I’ve had with Kyle, but there have been many, and they’ve been huge.  To sum it up, Kyle is obsessed with his phone.  I get it, he’s like most teenagers, but he’s really displayed an unhealthy desire to stay unified to that piece of electronic device, as well as show disrespect thinking he’s superior.

It was so out of hand, I was ready to take the shot gun and blast his phone to pieces.  Why didn’t I?  The only reason I didn’t was because Kyle and I got into a scuffle of sorts, and he was seriously acting irrationally and exceptionally erratic.  If I attempted to shot holes in his phone, I thought Kyle might do something stupid and desperate, like jumping in the line of fire to save his precious (I intentionally used that word, comparing Kyle to Gollum when he referred to the ring in Lord of the Rings).  That’s exactly how Kyle was acting.

Anyway, to shorten a very long drawn out and dramatic story, I did take the phone off of Kyle, at least at that particular instance.  I wouldn’t give it back until we had a family meeting.  This resulted in a loss of phone privileges for a week, something that was long overdue.  Personally, I didn’t care it was an inconvenience with his band, school and social activity.  I didn’t even care the phone wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t paying for the cell phone services.  Did I have a right?  You bet I did, especially with Kyle’s behavior.  It was the right thing to do, considering the disrespect I was enduring prior to that time and the day of the incidence.  Teenager vs. Aunt Heather Part 2 – The Calm Before the Storm  This problem expanded past me into the rest of the family.

Kyles Catch being Measured Fishing Derby 5-9-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle always had a knack for recording his fishing adventures with his cell phone. Fishing Derby 5/9/15

Would you believe I was given every excuse in the book and chastised for taking his cell phone away?  Yep.  I still didn’t buckle, because I knew Kyle was finally learning a lesson.  Again, it was the right thing to do.

Now back to the article.  What really struck me was the attitude of the mom and the step-dad.  Her only concern was the phone, not the well being of her very own child!  She only cared about the money and the material aspect to the situation.  Are you kidding me?  Read it for yourself.  She should have been working together with the father for the well-being of that child.  Come on, an inappropriate text message should have been the focus, not her ego or self-centered thinking.  Why?  My guess, she was mad the dad stepped in to do her job as a parent.

And shame on the step-dad, again for not begin an adult wanting to do what was right for that girl.  Nope.  Instead he flexed his muscles, like he was big s%$t and pulled strings to throw the situation even further out of perspective.  Having a man arrested in the middle of the night like he was a criminal?  Seriously?  If you’re a cop, you’re suppose to be protecting and serving.  I don’t know the context of the text messages, but shouldn’t that have been the topic of conversation?  Too much ego, way too much self-centered behavior, materialism and not enough parenting is the moral of this story.

The mom and step-dad are seriously stupid, by allowing a young adult to have such control over them and manipulate them like she did.

Kudos to that dad who didn’t back down and wasn’t bullied for being a true parent.  Kudos to that dad who had an interest in his daughter and wanted to do the right thing.  Kudos to that dad for standing up even in the face of criminal charges.  I hope one day his daughter understands who’s the real parent and who really cares for her, even if they don’t have a relationship currently.  Actually, I hope the mom and step-dad sees the error of their actions and takes a vested interest in the little girls well-being, although I’m sure they’re the reason for the broken relationship between the dad and daughter, when they should encourage the bong between the two.

I’m sure there’s more to the story than what’s been presented in the article.  It sounds like the relationship between the mom and dad are less than amicable, but that shouldn’t be the fault of the daughter.  No matter what the situation was, the mom and step-dad should have put on their big girl and boy pants and handled the situation like mature adults.  What kind of example are they setting for that little girl?  In fact, their daughter is probably picking up on their vibe and acting out, to only make further mistakes she may regret, all because of a lack of parenting.

I pray the dad comes back in the picture and the daughter matures a bit to face reality and her real family.

On a side note, I don’t believe cell phones are evil.  In fact, they do serve good purposes.  The problem is parenting, or a lack there of and giving boundaries and limitations.

Dad found not guilty for taking tween’s phone away

https://www.ksl.com/?sid=38299808

Below are screen shots of the article.

Dad found not guilty for taking tween's phone away Aunt Heather Piper part 1

Dad found not guilty for taking tween's phone away Aunt Heather Piper Part 2

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,News,Observation & Imagination 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.

5-12-12 Kyle Aunt Heather Piper

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!

10-1-12 Kelly Berger Aunt Heather Piper

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

10-28-12 Chipmunk Aunt Heather Piper

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!

11-13-12 Cold Showers Aunt Heather Piper

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.

12-21-12 Soft Kitty Aunt Heather Piper

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!

12-27-12 Farts Aunt Heather Piper

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!

8-7-13 Aunt Heather Piper

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.

8-21-13 Aunt Heather Piper

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.

2-13-14 Cooking Aunt Heather Piper

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.

12-14-13 Aunt Nikki Aunt Heather Piper

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

Lessons From a Cell Phone

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.  ~Steven Spielberg

Aunt-Heather-Piper-as-Iron-Man-at-Toys-R-Us-2014

Me as Iron Man in Toys R Us. Kyle snapped my picture on my phone. We sent it to Aunt Nikki! 1/11/2014

Kyle’s had a cell phone for a little over a year now.  It’s nothing fancy, no smartphone but it works to send and receive calls and text messages, perfect for a twelve-year old.

However, Kyle loves my iPhone!  He has for as long as I’ve had one, and he’s been itching to get his hands on one too.  Right before I got the iPhone 5, Kyle looked at me with wide eyes suggesting that I should give him my old one and I get the new one.  Great thinking kid, but NO!  At the time Kyle was eleven.  To be honest I thought about it, putting the extra cost aside, which was a big factor considering I knew how much data time Kyle would use; and putting aside the security I would need to put on the phone similar to his iPod to try and remove inappropriate content from reaching Kyle’s eyes and permanently taking up space in his mind; I was stopped at the idea of Kyle getting everything he wants and having too much.

Yes, the later really weighed in on me.  It’s not that I don’t want Kyle to have everything and every opportunity in the world, because I do and yet I don’t.  I want him to appreciate what he has and work toward better, like life should be.  It shouldn’t just be a hand out, especially for no reason.  That’s a huge lesson in itself that even adults have a hard time accepting.  I want Kyle to be better, to be a better person.

Aunt Heather Piper as Iron Man Kyle texting Aunt Nikki 1-11-2014

Kyle texting his Aunt Nikki 1/11/2014

At the time of my phone purchase, it wasn’t his birthday or a special occasion and Kyle hasn’t impressed me with all his volunteer work (meaning none, except being an alter boy at church) nor has he gone out of his way to be an exceptional child.  Not that he’s a bad kid, absolutely not!  He’s a great kid, but again I want him to learn these lessons now to be an even better adult.  Nope, all reasons for my decision not to give him his own iPhone.

Granted, I know other children, probably younger than Kyle have smartphones.  Great!  That’s none of my business nor do I care.  I’m sure the parents have their reasons, like I have mine and I’m happy for the child.  However, in my particular case, it was not going to happen, at least not yet.  Did Kyle did mention about his friends who have iPhones?   You bet that stinker did, and he tried to sell me on the idea that he already knows how to work one.  Yes, it’s true not the reasoning, as I tried to explain.  Honestly, that single comment about his friends brought a smile to my face, not because I’m a cynical person, which sometimes I am, but because it helped and continues to help me teach Kyle.

What are these lessons?  Simply humility, Kyle doesn’t have to have the best and flaunt it (not that he really does); patience, good things come to those who wait; appreciation, so he never takes what he has for granted, which he does like most kids, so I feel this is a much needed lesson; adaptability, learning to use what you have at ground level, if you can do that you can work with anything; minimalism, I didn’t want to clutter Kyle with too many electronics, even though it’s too late.  The list goes on and on.  I want to give Kyle an opportunity to live life and enjoy it for what it is, not through the eyes of electronics.  I don’t want him to be the person who is only focusing on his or her smartphone that they don’t pay attention to their children crying for their attention or the world around them and truly missing life, or the man who literally walked into a bear while texting.  (Yes it was caught on camera somewhere.  A bear was running a muck in a neighborhood and they needed to tranquilize it and the guy was so focused on texting he ran into it then quickly ran away.)

Kyle-Youth-Group-Sacred-Heart-Aunt-Heather-Piper-9-2013

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group 1st meeting of the year. They participated in a Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt Meet & Greet. 9/2013

Please don’t mistake my opinions and dissertation for a hatred toward mobile devices, because it’s not.  I love my phone and I use it probably too often.  I also love being able to call or text Kyle and reach him whenever, except when it’s not charged or when he’s playing video games.  However, if he wants something he will call and call and call and text and text and text till he reaches me.

Then, there are those cases when the phone gets Kyle in trouble.  Yes, this one is really not Kyle’s fault.  This one comes straight from Kyle’s mold, his Aunt Nikki.  A few weeks ago, trusty old Aunt Nikki decided to call Kyle in the middle of the day, thinking he was home from school due to the snow.  Guess what?  He wasn’t, he was sitting in the middle of class when his phone rang.  I asked Kyle why he didn’t have it turned off and he confessed, “I thought I did, I must have sat on it and it turned on.”  I totally believe the kid because nothings worse to him than getting in serious trouble with authority figures, especially being sent to the principal’s office.  He did the dreaded walk down the hall into the unknown trouble, giving that kid the worst anxiety.  Kyle said, “We were just about done with class when the phone rang and I knew it was Aunt Nikki!”

Kyle's youth group meeting text Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s youth group meeting text message to me.. cracked me up! 2014

What did Aunt Nikki have to say?  She laughed and called me to tell me she got Kyle in trouble.  It’s true, I did giggle along with her, knowing how devastated Kyle was over the situation and knowing he doesn’t like to break rules and get in trouble, but it was all in good fun.  Nicole said the next time this happens, Kyle gets detention.  Boy that will just kill him!  Sorry bud, but that was funny!

Now for a positive note regarding Kyle’s cell phone.  Keep in mind most of my pictures and video of me and Kyle, as well as records of his daily life are streamed from my phone keeping friends and family updated on the package.  Good thing!  There are also so many, many more great reasons for Kyle to have a cell phone, especially in his particular case.  I won’t get into all that but I would like to share a funny story that had me cracking up!

About a month ago, Kyle had a youth group meeting at Sacred Heart School for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group.  They asked the parents and guardians to be there because they were discussing major events that involved all parties.  As they were throwing around ideas and discussing them, they were asking for volunteers to spearhead specific items.  I did volunteer to for a specific job.  After it was discussed and agreed upon, I heard my phone beep with a text message.  Knowing it could be anyone for Thrill of the Hunt, my clients or my family, I looked down to see one Mr. Kyle Piper’s name across the screen.  Sitting across the room from me was that little critter smiling while holding onto his phone.  The text read, “That means u.”

While the meeting was going on, I busted out laughing and looked right at Kyle.  He gave me an ornery look with this cute little mischievous grin.  I was smiling from ear to ear, now not paying attention to the meeting and getting sucked into his silliness.  Naturally, I began to text him back.  It was seriously so much fun and worth the distraction.  It was our own inside joke that humored both of us equally.  Love that little man!  Sometimes his communication skills scare me and sometimes he has the best personality and is so quick witted.

I guess with everything there is good and bad, all depending on the user and the intent.  Everything in moderation, taking away extremes helps to create a full and balanced life.  Like it or not, cells phones are here to stay.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.  ~Ludwig van Beethoven

Kyles-Piano-Recital-5-17-09-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle at his 1st piano recital, at his 1st grand piano. 5/17/09

Last night I took Kyle to his piano lessons.  I must admit, I truly love getting my little man, eating dinner together, and just plain hanging out.  He is back in the swing of school and back to a standard routine.  As with most special memories, this one was unplanned and came as a surprise.

My phone died early in the day.  Why didn’t I charge it you may ask?  Well, simply because I had no idea what I did with the plug.  I have a stock pile of cords from my last iPhone, which also charges my iPad and Kyle’s iPod Touch, but alas I only have the one plug for the iPhone 5.  I’ve been meaning to get another one, but like many people, I put it off until there’s an issue.  Guess what?  Issue!  I needed my phone to call on Greensburg businesses to get the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt ready and finalized for Seton Hill University.  Crap.

Anyway, I had to leave to pick up Kyle.  Naturally, once in my car, he reached for my phone to probably play a game and it was dead.  He looked at me in shock.  I know!  We both felt really off our game.  Almost as if we were being detoxed from an addiction.  Now that I’m thinking back on it, that’s a shame we are like that with our phones.  But we are a product of our surroundings.  Did we survive without it?  Most certainly!  Did it help that Kyle had his phone?  Yes!  Only so my parents and my sister could touch base with him, no dire emergency.

Why is this relevant?  I’m so used to getting my emails via my phone, as well as text messages and Facebook messages, it didn’t dawn on me that Kyle’s music teacher would be reaching out to me through my online communications.  Yep, he had to cancel Kyle’s piano lesson.  Well, as I found out the next day, after recovering my long lost phone cord (1 day) and juiced up the handheld addiction, his teacher did indeed cancel his lessons.  Actually, using common sense, it didn’t take a phone to tell me Kyle’s piano teacher wasn’t there.

Kyles-Piano-Recital-Group-5-16-09-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s music recital group. 5/17/09

While sitting in the waiting room, and as the minutes passed, Kyle became impatient and wouldn’t let me read, (he forgot his book The Lord or the Rings: Return of the King).  At that point, we both decided to get up and look around for his teacher.  His teacher, David is a Seton Hill student and who is always on time and very responsible.  Just out of curiosity, Kyle and I walked down to his piano practice room to check out the situation.  Nope no David but there was THE PIANO!

Not being able to resist a beautiful baby grand piano, I walked in, sat down and started striking the keys.  I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano but my parents didn’t have the money when I was younger and it never was a priority for me as I got older.  Maybe one day I will take the time and learn.  But for now, it’s all on Kyle.

Kyle knowing that I had no idea what notes I was hitting, and no clue how to combine them to form a single song, he sat beside me on the piano bench and started to play a few memorized tunes.  Show off!  But I loved it.

Without saying anything and almost as if by muscle memory, Kyle opened his piano book and started to play a song,  It was one he previously covered in a past lesson, totally new to me.  Kyle started to actually instruct me, showing me were to place my fingers and how to play.

It was AWESOME!  He played a few notes and I watched his little chubby fingers to mimic his actions, messing up every other time.  He was very patient and showed me the fingering a few times so I could follow along.  He even went as far as to instruct me how to play with both hands, and I did!  Now there was certainly no mistaking me for Mozart or Beethoven, but I was playing an actual song, all because of Kyle!

Kyle's-Piano-Recital-Close-Up-5-17-09-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close up of Kyle at his 1st piano recital. 5/17/09

Kyle sat further down on the keys to my right and played along side me.  He was too cute, even waiting for me as I slowly hit the notes.  We both enjoyed sharing in on the same song, side-by-side, in our space, just the two of us. (As I wrote that, the song, Just the Two of Us popped in my head! I crack myself up!)  We played together for at least twenty minutes or so.  Yes the same song!  I think Kyle was really enjoying playing with me, as I know I was most certainly having a great time.

Then, out of nowhere, Kyle turned to another one of his piano books and started to teach me about notes, and counts.  He was actually instructing me!  I loved it.  Sitting there attentively and taking in all his knowledge, I started to grasp the music theory.  As he reviewed the notes, it came back to me how to read music, not that I was ever very good at it but I got by.

Once Kyle started to get bored with the situation he busted out one of his standard songs, which happens to be his pappy’s favorite Ode to Joy (German: Ode an die Freude) by Ludwig van Beethoven, always a favorite of mine too and always beautifully played by Kyle.

We sat and played, mostly in silence until it was half past the hour.  Then we decided we were done for the day and headed home.  As we left I told Kyle how much I always wanted to play the piano and I asked him if he would teach me.  He smiled this grin that was almost ornery mixed with excitement and nodded his head in agreement.  Cool!

Our family is not the most musical.  My mom played the piano in her younger days and my sister played the flute for a few years.  I did learn to play the scales on the saxophone, but none of us is fluent in music.  Kyle is the closest we have and he is pretty good.  No prodigy, but I’m happy with his musical abilities and his love and appreciation for the musical arts.

We had a great night!  Before our musical performance we watched Parental Guidance, which I rented and was never able to watch.  Kyle really wanted to see it and we had just enough time to squeeze it in before his lessons, since he didn’t have homework.  It was a funny movie that we both got a kick out of.

I will admit, I enjoyed my music lesson so much more than sitting there watching a movie with Kyle.  I literally could have have stayed in that practice room all night and played and listened to the beautiful music leaving Kyle’s fingers.  Can’t wait for my first lesson!

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

Checkmate – Game of Chess

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps.  Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it.  But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.  ~Stanley Kubrick

Aunt Heather Piper

Aunt Heather & Kyle Piper playing a game of chess at Fort Ligonier Days. 2009

Kyle has been really back on a chess kick lately.  I’m the same way, sometimes I just want to play the game and sometimes I forget all about it.  When Kyle was three years old, I remember sitting down with him and teaching him to play chess.  I never had any reservations about this young man learning the game.  At that point in his life, he already mastered Candy Land, Chutes n’ Ladders, and Monopoly Junior.  Pushing for Excellence  He was also working on puzzles with at least a thousand pieces and he knew his addition flashcards.  Again, going back to my same theory, “What’s it going to hurt?” SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

I remember the day, very distinctly when I introduced Kyle, to what will be his longtime love of Chess.  I asked Kyle if he wanted to play a game with me and naturally he was all for it.  He went through his list of standard games trying to figure out which one was on my mind.  Mentioning the game as I passed him to retrieve the box, he gave me a look of ‘What is chess?’ before asking me about the game.  I sat down without saying much only “You’ll see” and I gave him a smile and a wink.  I went straight to work, placing the pieces on the board.  His eyes were wide and curious while examining this intriguing game that he’s never seen before.  I will admit that my mysteriousness was making this new experience more dramatic and exciting.  Even I was falling prey to it, becoming more excited to play.

Kyle was squirming in his seat with anticipation when I started the role call, introducing him to each of the pieces.  First, I unveiled each figure by name and then I followed up with the maneuverability instructions for each piece.  Kyle sincerely got it!  I even remember letting him go first, which has become an unspoken rule with Kyle over the years.  As we moved around the board I would reiterate the moves of some of the pieces, but overall he seemed to understand how to play.  Now the strategy behind the game came a little later, but the love of chess was immediate.

Grandpap Chester's table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester made this table c. 1937  Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

In fact, my cousin Casey who is Kyle’s godfather, called and asked me what Kyle wanted for Christmas.  I usually try and give him different options and one was a chess game.  That Christmas, Kyle received his first chess set and he was excited!  I think I played more games of chess than I ever did in my entire life during that time. Casey certainly got his money’s worth.

Now the love of the game never disappeared, it was just stored away for a rainy day.  Every once in a while, we would pull out the game and play but Kyle’s video games started to take priority.  Then a month ago, while we waited to pick up our take-out dinner, Kyle took my iphone to play a game.  This is standard behavior when he thinks he’s “bored” for the whole five minutes of waiting.  I asked him, “What are you playing bud?” followed by his response of “Chess.”  I said, “Wow Kyle, we haven’t played a game of chess in a long time.”  As he remained focused on his game he lifted his head to give me a smile and a head nod.

After dinner, Kyle decided he didn’t want to play against the computer anymore, he wanted to play a game with me on my phone.  Now I was a little rusty, but graciously the game highlighted options for my potential moves.  That was helpful at first, but then slowly started to irritate me.  I will need to look into turning off that feature.  It was nice reengaging myself in the game and I really enjoy seeing Kyle using his cranium cavity for more than sending a stick person down a hill in a shopping cart.  (Shopping Cart Wars).

Grandpap Chester's Table 2 Aunt Heather Piper

Side view of Grandpap Chester’s checker table. c. 1937 Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

Recently, chess has become Kyle’s game of choice.  That’s all he wants to play, no video games, no ipod, no Nitendo DS, it’s all about the game of chess.  Last weekend my sister was home for her class reunion, Go Wildcats!, and he made her play against him too.  Would you believe that more than not, Kyle won against us?  Friday night, I played him a game, and I will admit that I was only half paying attention, clearly not taking my opponent seriously.  Yep, that bit me in the butt when he crushed me!  He didn’t just win, instead of finishing the game when he had me in checkmate, he decided to continue the game to capture as many of my pieces as he could.  He displayed his killings proudly, even telling my dad, “Look pap pap, it’s my trophy room.”  What a stinker!

When we did a rematch, I reminded Kyle of the dangers of arrogance and cockiness.  I could feel it leak through his pores, and I don’t like that at all!  He needs to remain respectful and composed.  I’ve even explained to him that those traits destroy people and causes them to fail, in everything they do in life.  Sometimes I like to take opportunities presented, even a simple situation, and use it as a life lesson.  This one was the best example.  As we continued with our game, I played like a champ; no more under estimating Kyle, no more distractions and absolutely no mercy!  Finally I won!  He smiled like a good sport and understood that I knocked him down a peg or two.  You know what?  Kyle didn’t care.  He didn’t get mad, he didn’t make excuses, in fact he commented on how he could improve his game next time.  Very impressive!

Every game we played, Kyle was definitely getting better and better.  He would even sacrifice certain pieces and set me up for traps to devastate my army.  An example, which was flawlessly executed, involved me taking Kyle’s pawn with my queen.  It looked like a no brainer, but after his move, I learned it was a set up!  Again I under estimated that child, he was learning strategy before my eyes.  I wasn’t paying attention to his knight, that is until he rode the horse in to capture my queen. What?  Very clever!  Great move!

Grandpap Chester table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester signed the inside drawer of the checker table. Made in 1937 Mikey found this when he was sanding.

On Monday night after school, while we were eating Kyle set up the chess game again.  We started to play before his piano lessons, until we ran out of time.  Unfortunately, when I got back to the house, I came to the conclusion that Storm wanted to play too.  All the pieces were scattered all over the table, which she is not allowed on, and some pieces were on the floor.  As I gathered up the crime scene, I noticed I was eight pieces shy.  After I cleaned the house on Wednesday, I found four of the eight missing pieces, which leaves four chess pieces MIA.  Where could they have gone?  Maybe they are with the mouse and sticky pad? Of Mice and Me…Part 3  Kyle is not going to be happy about this!  I’m actually upset for him and kind of nervous to break the news.  Maybe it’s time for a new set!

 

Check out Mikey’s other furniture creations on his Facebook.  He is a true artist with wood!  He doesn’t do refurbished wood projects, although he made an exception for me, since it was my grandpap Chester’s table, Mikey’s uncle.

Send Mikey a message…  http://www.facebook.com/mike.olczak

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

Look…The Blue Angels!

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.  ~Mark Twain

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Kyle with a Blue Angel Pilot, LCDR Toddy Royles, USN 6/23/12

This past weekend was the Westmoreland County Airshow at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, in Latrobe.  Much like last year, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday, it was a beautiful day.  A little hot, nearly in the 90’s and very sunny, but it was the airshow, perfect weather to be watching the skies.  I took Kyle on Saturday, both of us really wanting to go this year because the Blue Angels were performing.  When I was younger they had the airshow every year, keep in mind it was always in September, usually over Ryan’s birthday, and the Blue Angels always made their appearance.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Blue Angels, but they were always something to watch.  As an adult, I’m still equally as impressed and mesmerized as I was as a kid.

Sometimes mom and dad took us into the airport for the airshow and sometimes we would just watch it from mom and dad’s front porch.  You see, their house sits up on the ridge with an amazing view overlooking Saint Vincent Church and College and the airport.  When the planes did their stunts they executed them right in front of us in the open sky overlooking the airport.  It was a sight to see!  Since the airshow was over Ryan’s birthday weekend, all my cousins were up at the house anyway for the party.  That gave us show to look forward to, too.

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Me & Kyle under our umbrella at the airshow 6/23/12

The 2012 airshow was very organized with respect to getting people into the airport, although I’m not commenting on their system for getting the crowds out all at once.  They changed the layout this year from last, which made it more open and easier to get from one end of the lot to the opposite. As Kyle and I walked around to check out the booths, he naturally eyed up those containing toys, the typical toy planes of various sizes.  Kyle asked if he could have a “souvenir”, one of his famous lines.  I have don’t have an issue with purchasing the kid a T-shirt, hat or something neat to use as a keep sake, but in my opinion Kyle is getting too old to keep purchasing these toys, which have his attention for the day before being lost to the bottom of his closet forever.  Every time we took him to the Air and Space Museums in Virginia and Washington, D.C. he would get another toy plane, never to be seen again.  Using this as my opportunity to prove a point, I said to Kyle, “You can get whatever you want.” as he looked at me in complete shock.  Then I continued, “It’s your money.”  He said, “What money?” and I followed up with, “Your money from your report card.”  Kyle looked over some items and then said, “No I’m good.  I don’t really want anything.”  I knew he had other plans for that money, but that was his choice.

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Smiley Face in the sky at the 2012 Latrobe Airshow

Continuing on our way, we saw the Navy had a simulator to ride.  Kyle really wanted to participate before the airshow began, so we stood in line.  It was an enclosed area with a screen and a simulated mission playing on the monitor.  The capsule was on hydraulics and bounced you around simultaneously with the visual being played, kind of like a Universal Studio ride.  Before we boarded, Kyle and I both commented that it was like the simulator they have at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., only that one flipped you upside down. The ride required one driver, which was me and one co-pilot to shoot missiles, which was Kyle.  Well, needless to say, I managed to keep us upside down the entire ride because I couldn’t get us turned right side up.  That was years ago and it must have made an impression on Kyle because the first think he said was, “Ya Aunt Heather this is just like that ride at the Air and Space Museum, except it doesn’t go upside down.”

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Kyle at the 2012 Latrobe Airshow in front of the Blue Angels plane

Before boarding our ride the airshow started with a plane making a smiley face in the sky.  That got every clapping and cheering.  Once we exited the simulator, which was very cool, Kyle decided he was hungry.  After making our way through the line to get his BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, courtesy of DeNunzio’s Restaurant, we made our way to sit and watch the show.

Eventually we found our way to the grassy area on the hill where we could see the entire runway.  Kyle and I sat under my golf umbrella to get some relief from the scorching sun.  In fact, we stayed under the umbrella the entire day, even while walking around.  It was cooler and neither one of us got a sunburn.  While resting under our little piece of shade, planes were flying around doing stunts and fly bys, taking off and landing.  They even had a car with a jet engine racing a plane.  The agenda was well planned out and executed very smoothly.

It’s really exciting and a rush to hear the roar of the engines and see of the aeronautics overhead.  Well, maybe it wasn’t enough for Kyle because I kept catching him playing on his Nintendo DS.  Yikes!  What?  He got a new game, and holding true to his fashion he was obsessed with beating it.  I didn’t mind him playing it between acts and I had him bring it in anticipation of the traffic, but during the show, heck NO!

Then at 3:00, came the much anticipated highlight of the day, The Blue Angels!  I was too excited to see  this, although Kyle didn’t seem to share in my enthusiasm.  I understand the super sonic sounds being projected from the engines made his ears hurt, but I could tell he would much rather sit there and play his video games than appreciate true skill and the hard work it takes to be a U.S. Navy Blue Angel.  To me that was kind of a shame.  I’m sure there are other kids who follow Kyle’s suit.

While watching and video taping the show, my phone stopped me from taking the remainder of the shots.  It was full!  What?  Bad timing!  Then I remembered Mr. Kyle Piper had his new 64GB ipod Touch with him.  I said, “Kyle quick, give me your ipod.”  That smart little bugger said, “Did you fill up your phone?”  What?  How did he know that?

After the show, Kyle and I managed to sneak in line and get an autograph of Blue Angel Pilot, #8 LCDR Todd Ryles, USN.  Later I found out that is a native to Pennsylvania and went to Penn State.  After he singed our brochure, I grabbed a picture with the pilot and Kyle.  I understand it was a long hot day and we had to head out to go Jimmy Singer’s graduation party at the Planinsek Pavilion, but could have been a little more thrilled.  If I know Kyle, we was probably looking forward to sitting in the car and playing that game!  Although, I’ll give him credit, he didn’t complain.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that a friend of mine has always wanted to see the Blue Angels.  To me this was silly, I’ve seen them many times. Then it dawned on me that I have taken advantage of this fact.  I tried to explain to Kyle that this was a privilege to see them and we had great seats in the grass, not missing a thing.  That little lecture didn’t seem to effect him.  Ahh, one day I hope he reflects back and appreciates this opportunity because they were AMAZING!

 

To see more videos on the Blue Angels go to Aunt Heather Piper Youtube Channel

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

Looks Like an Adult, Still A Child

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.  ~Stacia Tauscher

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Kyle's ready to ride with Pap pap. He loved that hat! Courtesy of Uncle Sonny

I’ve always heard people say, “They grow up so fast.”  I know it’s true, I’ve been watching it happen right before my eyes.  Recently, I’ve been catching Kyle wear my white under shirts.  Anyone who knows me, knows I always wear layers, even with T-shirts.  I will put on a white T-shirt under a T-shirt, which is the opposite of Kyle, who rarely even wears a shirt and hates layers.  Anyway as I watch him march around in my T-shirts it strikes me that they almost fit him!  My little man is getting so big!  I can almost wear his shoes too.  Granted I do have smaller feet, but still I can’t believe how much he has shot up and out!  I think Kyle loves showing me he can wear my cloths.  It has become a ritual that when I see him strutting  around in my Tees I say, “Is that my T-shirt?” and he just gives me an ornery grin.  Now don’t get me wrong, Kyle still is not into cloths, not even close.  He could care less what he looks like, which drives me crazy.  Once he couldn’t find the matching his flip flop.  He had one from each set.  Now granted they were both black, but the one was fixed with duct tape, which that set was only suppose to be worn around the house. Would you believe that kid put two different shoes on, a left and a right flip flop?  Then said ‘I’ll be fine’ and got in the car and was ready to go to the store.  I was mortified and he didn’t care, he just wants to be comfortable and he hates socks and shoes.  He detests clothing in general, anything containing zippers, buttons, denim, laces, long sleeves are debatable and anything that is layered is avoided.  Yep, that’s Kyle, he loves just sitting in his underwear.  I am hoping this phase will be out grown soon, although I’ve been waiting for it since he started to form an opinion about clothing.

Last week Kyle was helping me in the yard.  For every bag of grass clippings he helps me bag up and takes to the curb he gets a dollar.  While I’m mowing, he pulls weeds and he is my extra set of eyes, keeping watch for bees.  We make a great team and I enjoy him helping me outside.  As we put on our work cloths I start getting the trash bags, the lawn mower and such.  I head out to the backyard and call for Kyle.  He is a slow moving individual, like my sister.  Just then, I turned around and saw Kyle with his headphones on, adjusting them so the cord runs under his T-shirt, correction my T-shirt.  He looked like such a young adult getting ready to help me out in the yard.  I just smiled and realized he is getting older and he loves that ipod Touch.  As I made laps around the yard I would peek over to see how he was doing.  He was almost bobbing his head as he pulled weeds and then I saw his lips moving.  While I was bagging up my first round of grass clippings, I heard Kyle singing, although I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying.  I yelled over, “Kyle what are you singing?”  His reply, “Alvin and the Chipmunks”.  I about fell over, watching this maturing young man appearing older, yet he still is a kid inside.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Kyle-at-Hunger-Games-showing

Me & Kyle at the movie theater ready to watch The Hunger Games 4/2012

A few weeks ago I took Kyle to see The Hunger Games.  It’s rated PG13 and with the violence I wasn’t quite sure I should.  My sister and I both saw the movie first and we discussed it.  I also reached out to other friends with children of the same age to get their opinion.  Since Kyle really wanted to see it and was really nudging me, I agreed and took him to the movies.  Keep in mind we made these plans early Saturday morning.  That kid cracks me up, he is certainly a child of twenty first century.  He took my phone and ordered our tickets through Fandango on my iphone app.  We were ready!

While watching the previews, which I will admit I like watching.  I think it’s fun to see what’s coming out and to get excited about another movie.  During the previews, the movie Dark Shadows appeared on the big screen.  Kyle leaned toward me trying to whisper, not really succeeding and said, “Um Johnny Depp, he’s pretty good.  I want to see that Aunt Heather.  I like Johnny Depp.”  What?  I didn’t even know Kyle knew who Johnny Depp was, let alone liked him!  All I could say was, “I like Johnny Depp too, ok we can go see it.”  We also saw the preview for Avengers, which comes out this weekend.  Kyle is totally pumped for this movie, of course so am I.  He already made our plans for Saturday.

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Kyle's socks don't match & he can't manage to keep his shoes on 11/18/11

As the movie unfolded Kyle watched it in his usual Kyle way, squealing and talking the entire way through it.  I about died when he kept calling Peeta, Peter!  I corrected him but I don’t think he heard me and I gave up.  Right after the movie, Kyle decided he wanted to read The Hunger Games trilogy.  That’s my little man, he’s getting bigger.  He even asked me if the book was like the movie?  I went through some details and highlights just to give him an idea.  Then he started to give me a dissertation on how the Harry Potter books aren’t exactly like the movies.  He was comparing and contrasting, my favorite way to write!  ‘What is this?’ I thought, Kyle really does have a major opinion about books and movies.  It’s really fun watching his intellect grow and mature and hearing things from his point-of-view.  So far I’ve loved all stages of Kyle, but this one is really integrating me.

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Gigi, Kyle and me at the Gutchess picnic at Idlewild Park

Kyle’s always been a thinker.  He truly thinks things through.  Taking you back about eight years when Kyle was in his twos, he was even a thinker then.  Loving my naps, one day I chose to engage in one of my favorite pastimes on the couch.  I guess while I was sucking up the ‘ZZZs’ Kyle turned to my mom and said, “Gigi I want long legs like Aiya.”  Mom said that I looked elongated laying flat on my back, not to mention I must of looked like a giant compared to Kyle’s miniature structure all stretched out over the surface of the couch.  Ever since then, his logic was to compare my legs to height.  He still does this today, standing beside me measuring his legs against mine.  His goal is to reach my height, my all of five foot six inches.  I’ve told him that he better hope for a few more inches.  After all he just may get it, my brother was about six foot.

Even though Kyle is such a little boy, and an immature one at best, he occasionally shows the adult peeking out in him.  Although, I hope he always keeps that inner child!  Of course if he’s really anything like me, he will!

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