Catfish Hunter

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.  ~Henry David Thoreau
Kyle LOVES to fish!  I mean that, he truly looks forward to the beginning of fishing season every year.  It starts with The Fishing Derby Story, 25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby and then goes throughout the summer.  In all sincerity he would choose fishing over hunting any day.
Dad-fishing-1984 Aunt Heather Piper

Dad fishing. Looks like it was a successful day! 1984

The funny thing is, Kyle doesn’t like and simply won’t bait his own hook, at least not with maggots, mealworms, red worms, butterworms, or chicken livers.  I have seen him hook his own line with some sort of prepackaged bait, salmon eggs and he’s a big fan of the spinner when fishing for trout.  Aside from that, he leans on me or dad to hook him up, so to speak.

Kyle also won’t unhook a freshly reeled fish.  He doesn’t like touching the slimy, slippery skin and its pointy scales and teeth.  Forget ever asking Kyle to help scale and gut the fish.  NOPE!  I’ve tried having him help me once, and I thought he was going to puke.  He did a halfway job and I had to finish thoroughly cleaning his fish for him.  He told dad next time he’ll try and help us.  I’m not holding my breath.

Kyle does enjoy the thrill a fish nibbling on the hook and the tugging of the line ever so slightly; the feeling of knowing there is a fish interested in his bait; and the possibility of a huge catch.  Everyone loves that!  He gets so excited with the exhilaration of fighting the mystery fish and then finding out the species, and of course, the size of the catch.  This information is only used for later story telling on Kyle’s behalf.  He could careless about the meat he’s bringing to the table.

Kyle also eats fish, which I am so glad!  This past weekend, my sister was home, so mom fried us up the freshly caught catfish from Saturday.   Total, we probably caught about twenty small to medium sized catfish, mixture of bullhead and channel cats.  None of them were the size you see on television, whereas they needed to be picked up by two or three people.  Nope, these were pretty manageable for a single person.  Enough for a good meal.

On Saturday morning, we got up early.  How early?  I was up around 5:30 am and I woke sleeping beauty around 6:30 am, dad was up well before me, 4:00 am.  We packed the boat and headed out to Loyalhanna Lake, getting on the water by 8:00 am.  We wanted to get out earlier and be at our spot by then, but it was raining pretty good and it took us longer to get situated.  Dad’s not as fast in his later years, not like when I was a kid.

Yes, it was raining and we still wanted to go fishing.  Dad is no stranger to fishing in any sort of weather, even if it’s a cold, bone chilling rain.  Dad is, or I used to say was, as die hard about fishing as he is hunting.  It did drizzle on us a little, but no monsoon was in the forecast.  Personally, I was fine with that, it wasn’t too cold, it was cloudy so the sun wasn’t directly hitting me and making me sick, and the bugs were kept at bay from the rain.  Win, win all around!  Like I said, perfect day to go fishing!

Nicoles-First-Holy-Communion-Aunt-Heather-Piper 1981

Nicole’s First Holy Communion. All cousins: Front row – Casey Olczak, Ryan, Me. Back Row – Timmy Bobinchek, Jeremy Piper, Chad Piper & Nicole. Yes, that’s the tree that held my fishing pole after I was practicing how to cast. c. 1981

I’ve been fishing since I was little.  All of us fished except surprisingly, mom.  Ryan loved to fish too, often going by himself when friends and family where working or busy.

As we were casting our lines, I noticed how controlled Kyle was at the action.  I was the only one who caught a tree, but it didn’t result in a loss of hook or bait!  So no worries.

While we were sitting there fishing up a storm, I told Kyle how I used to practice casting my line all the time when I was little.  He looked at me in amazement.  It’s true, I did!  Not in water, but in the front yard.  I really enjoyed standing there and practicing the action of throwing out the line and reeling it in.  Of course, back then, mom had a white birch tree in the middle of the yard.  Somehow, I caught the tree, a few times. (sarcasm)  Yes, instead of casting away from the tree, I would stand directly in front of it and cast my line.  One time in particular, I was not able to pull my fishing pole out of the branches, so I reeled in the line and let the pole hang there, waiting for dad to get home from work.  Dad rolled his eyes resulting in the pole hanging there for quite some time. I didn’t care, I was enjoying myself.

Naturally, the first person who caught anything was dad, a nice sized catfish.  Then, Kyle and I started to get into the rhythm.  At one point, all three of us were pulling in catfish at the same time!  That made it so exciting and really a lot of fun.  We moved to a few different locations when the biting stopped, to try our chances elsewhere, before calling it a day at 2:00 pm.

While patrolling back down the tributary, dad decided he had to relieve his bladder.  I know I probably shouldn’t be talking about his but it was so funny!  Earlier, we made Kyle do so off the side of the boat, while dad and I looked the other way.  It wasn’t that easy for dad, since he’s so big and the boat is so small.  Instead, dad decided to pull up to a rock cliff and have us hold onto saplings to keep the boat parallel with the side of the hill, while he stepped out and climbed up the bank.  At first Kyle wasn’t holding onto anything while dad was stepping out.  Dad had one leg on the rocks and one in the boat, as the boat slowly started to separate from the side of the hill.  Kyle looked at me, without trying to help, like he was accepting his next statement and said, “I think this is going to end badly.”  Yes!  I started to laugh because it was kind of humorous, but then I yelled at him to grab a hold of a branch to pull the boat closer to help his pappy out.  It was quite comical!  Doring this adventure, I was hoping no one would go past, and no one did.


Legofest 2012… I decided to be a pirate. Kyle was cracking up, yet was rolling his eyes at my silliness. Pittsburgh, Pa 2012

After putting away the bait and poles, Dad explored the other side of the lake that we never ventured down.  Let me explain, he recently got back his boat engine that was in for repairs.  Basically, dad was a boy who got back his toy.  He opened it up, let her rip, making wakes!  We felt the spray of water in our faces.  Keep in mind we were on a little fishing boat that resembled the one used from Grumpy Old Men, nothing extravagantKyle and I were giggling and hanging on the entire time, not that dad was going mock speeds, but it was just the kid in us, well maybe me and dad, since Kyle is still a kid.

It was pretty uneventful getting the boat in and out of the lake.  Except, when I went to drive the boat up on the trailer, I accidentally hit the gas pretty hard and scared myself, driving it at full speed toward the truck.  Dad must have saw the freight in my eyes and started to laugh while sitting in the driver’s seat.

While I was out on the boat, I yelled to Kyle to assist me getting the boat on the trailer straight.
Me:  Kyle direct me in.
Kyle:  What?
Me: Kyle direct me in!
Kyle:  What?
Me:  Kyle!  Tell me if I’m straight!
Kyle:  (Stood there like a statue and pointed his index finger ever so slightly in one direction)
Me: (Thinking, Whatever!)

Once the boat was safe and secure, dad commented, “I thought you were going to drive the boat into the bed of the truck.”  We got a good laugh.  You should have seen the look on Kyle’s face when I revved up the engine too hard, he gave a reaction like I was going to drive into him.   Keep in mind, he was a good yard and a half away from the action, in no immediate danger.  Afterwords, Kyle stood alongside his pap and got a good chuckle.


Planinsek Fishing Derby, the long awaited for PRIZES! 2012

Before we left I instructed Kyle to leave his phone and his iPod behind.  You see, Kyle finds it a need to take a picture of EVERY fish he catches.  He was devastated when I told him all electronics are getting left behind.  He actually got into a slight state of panic when he realized, I meant my phone too.  He argued, “But Aunt Heather what if we have an emergency and need to call someone?  Then we are out in a boat in the middle of the water.  What do we do?”  I told him, “Believe it or not buddy, people have been fishing on water for centuries without a phone, we’ll be alright, besides we’re not out in the middle of the ocean.”  He didn’t particularity care for my comment but reluctantly went along with my logic.

Nope, no phone and I wouldn’t let Kyle take his either.  Not because I thought he was going to be sitting there talking.  Actually, on the contrary I wanted him to call his Aunt Nikki to see where she was in route, but simply because it was raining off and on and I didn’t want any phone to be ruined.  Unbeknownst to me, halfway through our fishing, I realized dad has is phone on him anyway.  Personally, it was great not checking emails, answering the phone or responding to text messages.  Just fishing.

What great quality time with the family.  Collectively, we all had fun.  Dad and I kept calling Kyle Catfish Hunter!  It was so peaceful and relaxing.  A nice lazy day in the boat with fish as my only focus.  Can’t wait to do it again!

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posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing 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


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.)


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

Riding In a Car Gives Me a Headache

I’ve helped people get rid of headaches by placing my hand on their forehead, and backaches by placing my hand on their back. It’s a powerful example of love that really works.  ~Shelley Long


Kyle sporting his new glasses. Love his smile! c. 2009

For the last several years, Kyle has complained about getting headaches.  They only seem to occur during car rides.  It’s always just as we head out, he’ll say, “My head hurts” or “I have a headache.”   Last week Kyle said, “I can’t wait till it’s nice out and I can put down my window when I get a headache, it makes me feel better”.

What’s really funny about that statement is I can’t ride with just one window down, I have to have a least two or more to cut the pressure in the car or that kills me!

Yesterday, heading to church for our Ashes (Ash Wednesday, signifying the first day of Lent in preparation for Easter.) Kyle made the same remark, “My head hurts.”  My response?  “Really buddy?  We just left.”  Literally, I just pulled out of the driveway and couldn’t have been more than two hundred yards before he spoke up.

What is going on with this kid?  I would be on red alert if this ailment was continuous, inside and outside the car, but it’s not, it’s only when riding in the car, at least that’s what he tells me.

It seemed to start years ago when Kyle first got his glasses.  Granted, he was pretty young when he started wearing them so I can’t really speak of the time of pre-glasses.  It’s not like the little tyke was able to say, “Excuse me Aunt Heather my head hurts.”, while safely strapped into a car seat sucking on a Binky.  However, I don’t think he got headaches.

Originally, Kyle was only suppose to wear his glasses when watching television or reading, but then he started wearing them all the time.  Thinking the cause of his head thumping was the magnified pieces of glass suspended by wire frames resting directly in front of his eyes, I use to tell Kyle to take his glasses off when riding in the car.  It seemed to help until he developed a common childhood obsession for video games.  He would play his Nintendo DS and later his iPod, both glued to his fingers.  Yes, he would play video games till his head was pounding!  He learned quickly to minimize his online activity while riding along.  Now he waits for a red light before fighting off stick people.


Kyle riding the Merry-Go-Round at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pa. Rides don’t seem to make Kyle sick but cars do. 2012

As this issue continues, my thoughts try to factor in all variables and take into account my car.  Either the way it rides or sits, that sort of thing.  I even considered the very slim chance, it was the driver of the vehicle, a.k.a. me.  I asked Kyle once if his headaches only happened in my car.  His response, “No every time I get in a car.”  I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because I don’t think it’s EVERY time, just often.  However, yesterday I asked him the same question.  His response, “Yes, I think it’s just your car Aunt Heather.”  Wonder if that’s true or not or if he was teasing me?  Again, that’s hard to tell since I am usually the one picking him up and driving him around, not really a fair assessment.

Could it be me, personally, triggering his headaches?  If that was true then one would think he would always have them, since I’m with him so much.

Over the years I’ve blamed this problem on lack of water, eating too much junk food and playing too many hours of video games, but I have nothing to base my hypothesis on.  Kyle claims these are not the reasoning, but again he has no proof for his argument either.

My biggest fear is it could be something more serious showing itself before it really does.  Between my friend Markelle and her aneurysm bursting More In Her Head Than An Aneurysm and loosing several cousins to brain tumors, I can’t help but think of the worst.  Granted, I don’t dwell on those thoughts but they do come to mind from time to time. (no pun intended)

Honestly, as a kid and into my adulthood, I very rarely got or get headaches.  When I do, believe it or not it’s simply because my neck needs adjusted.  The more I go to the gym, the less that happens, the less I get headaches.  This crazy cycle only really started later on in life when I got a job sitting at a desk, typing into a computer.  Prior to that, my headaches were far and few between.  Then, Bam!  Neckache and headache!  Although I’m not immune to migraines either, having only a handful in my entire life, thankfully I don’t have a chronic issue like some unfortunate souls.

I’m going to throw this truly outlandish idea out there; an observation I’ve made over the years and I do believe it, although I absolutely have no proof; but when I get headaches, they’re usually during hurricane season.  Yes!  When the air pressure takes giant leaps, especially right before a storm, my head will ache terribly.  But once the storm passes, suddenly my pain is relieved.  Sounds crazy I know, but I’m telling you, I can’t deny it!  It also seems to get worse the older I get.  Can I be that sensitive to air pressure?


My good friend Markelle showing off her picture perfect face on one of our trips… Virginia.

So what is the problem with Kyle and his throbbing head?  I guess the better question is how do I fix it for the poor kid?  He’s been on many, many road trips with us, especially his Aunt Nikki.  Sometimes riding in the car for long distances can effect me as well, but Kyle’s problem seems to stem from quick rides back and forth to the movies, the store, or to piano lessons, not major distances.  I would like to alleviate his pain or at the very least pinpoint the problem to address it, if possible.

The fresh air seems to help Kyle.  Could it just be a case of plain old car sickness?  He usually doesn’t get nauseous, but that has accompanied the headaches on occasion.  And like me, we can’t read in the car or we do get a little vertigo.  I know my Uncle Walter used to get horrible car sickness, but no one in my immediate family does, not even Ryan did.  Kyle can also ride any ride at an amusement park without issue.  So what is it about a car?

On a side note, the overly cautiousness in me wants to get a CAT scan for my nephew’s melon, just to rule out anything serious.  Not reasonable I know, but always a thought in my head…

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

Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond

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


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.


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!


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

WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day

Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.  ~Hermann Hesse

WannaBe-80s-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event in Shadyside. Great time! 8/17/13

This past Saturday proved to hold an exciting day!  My sister was on her way home with a new bundle of puppy.  The very same day, my company, Thrill of the Hunt, was holding another scavenger hunt event in Shadyside, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, called the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt.  Not to mention a big day wouldn’t be complete without a little attitude and whining from Kyle.

Let’s start in the early afternoon with the arrival of Avery Piper.  This 20 pound cute playful puppy really turned the house inside out.  Scooby, being a grumpy old man was not too pleased to have the rambunctious visitor.  He was growling and nipping and just plain being a bully.  Pretty much everything we expected out of Scooby.  Seven on the other hand was curious and almost excited to have a new friend.  Maybe he remembered how hard it was to be the new doggie on the block.  Seven had to deal with Scooby solo and maybe Seven just wanted to be a mentor, a friend to Avery.


Nicole hanging with Avery! Don’t let her cute looks fool you! She’s a stinker! 8/17/13

Then let’s discuss, Storm, my cat.  She is a year old and is not very friendly with other people, strange places and certainly not puppies.  She was clearly the one who was the most upset.  She sat up in her perch (This is a tree house type of structure I built for her.  It stands about six feet tall and is equipped with multilevel sitting areas and carpeting.  It’s a place for her to escape the dogs.) and puffed up till she resembled a soft fluffy ball of cat.  She was hissing, and growling, and spitting and swatting her razor sharp claws (I can attest to that!) at the completely ignorant puppy.  Did I mention, as far as we know, Avery has never seen a cat before?  So this was a real treat for her.  Her Avery, not her Storm.

Avery, a.k.a. Acorn (yes I already gave her another name to instigate my sister!) was just so happy to be hanging with all of us and truly didn’t understand the disdain of Storm and Scooby.  She was jumping on the furniture and wanting to play like it was a big party.  Even though I did soak up the playful energy projected from this short haired, pig tailed eared, clumsy, teething youngster, I was still concerned for the stress levels of my Storm.

WannaBe-80-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -5 Aunt Heather Piper

My perfect little Thrill of the Hunt assistant! He is a great businessman & he worked at the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt Event. 8/17/13

While all this was going on, Kyle and I needed to get ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside.  It started at 3:30 pm, which means we needed to be there between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm to set up, sell any last minute tickets and hand out brochures to continue to get our name out there.  Not to mention it takes at least an hour from Latrobe to get to Pittsburgh, depending on the traffic.

Kyle and I had the car packed and everything ready.  I am not a procrastinator, I figure why give myself added stress that I can control, when there is always something unforeseen or uncontrollable that inevitably pops up.  That’s enough excitement for me, so that’s why Kyle and I packed the car and ran through our checklist the night prior.  We also went through the same list one last time before heading out, to cross our T’s and dot our i’s.


Pap & Avery taking a nap together! 8/17/13

God has really blessed us in our new adventure.  I mean it.  Recently, Thrill of the Hunt has been commissioned to develop and administer the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for Seton Hill University, the Pittsburgh Marathon is having Thrill of the Hunt build a scavenger hunt for the race expo, Exploring Inspiration Scavenger Hunt and for their 10k, 5k, Pet Walk in North Park this October, Witches Brew Scavenger Hunt.  Did I mention thus far, for all of our scavenger hunt events we’ve had perfect weather?  Yes!  I know the weather will never cooperate one hundred percent, but to start out and get acclimated to our scavenger hunt events, it certainly does help.

WannaBe-80s-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -19 Aunt Heather Piper

I’m ready to get the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt on the way! We had a perfect day! 8/17/13

The WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt went off without a hitch!  It’s funny, Kyle was being such a kid during the day, wanted everyone to play his card game and wanted to sit on his iPod and play games and not practice his piano or read his Lord of the Rings The Two Towers book, yet when he was in the car with me and most certainly when we got to Shadyside to set up, Kyle changed his tune quickly, without being asked.  Kyle didn’t complain one bit, he went right to work helping to set up and he even started reaching out the pedestrians supplying them with brochures.  He was supporting Thrill of the Hunt in best possible manner.  When he met with people, he shook their hands confidently and truly was the perfect assistant!  I don’t know if Kyle likes the work, enjoys being part of the company or is just innately aware I would kick his butt if he misbehaved.  But he was a great business partner and the perfect assistant!

Kyle & Aunt Heather Piper TextingEither way, as like most times hanging with Kyle, we had a great time!  I try to be very approachable and friendly to potential clients when I’m representing Thrill of the Hunt.  I stand by my station ready to answer inquisitive looks and comments as those unknown to Thrill of the Hunt walk by.  Yes, I stand for the hours it takes to complete the scavenger hunts, unlike Kyle.  One of his weaknesses.  To keep his body from complete shock, I had him stand with me in little spurts before he would retreat to his bench to sit and relax.  I’m fine with that, for now!

Kyle cracked me up!  During the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt, the participants not only had to figure out the riddles, but they had online challenges to execute as well.  I also had to review the online activity to see if anyone was stumped or questioning a specific clue.  Yes, so while I was greeting “passerbyers”, I was also following the online activity.  During all this, Kyle was texting my sister to see the status of the mad house back home.  Then, to throw me off my concentration, Kyle began to send me funny text messages, like asking if my legs were tired and calling me a Bad Girl (inside joke within our family due to the labeling on the butt of my sisters underwear).  Kyle was cracking me up!

Side story.  The last time I was down at my sisters, we were commissioned to develop and administer to the Discover Scavenger Hunt for a five year old birthday party.  That Friday night, after I got in, I came around the corner to ask Nicole something, while she was in the kitchen and what did my eyes read?  Yep, Bad Girl written across her underwear as she stood at the sink.  Immediately, I lost it!  I could barely say, “Bad Girl” when Nicole instantly busted out laughing, while running to the bathroom.  She was laughing so hard she had to pee!  Now I couldn’t just let something like that only be shared between the two of us, so I told my family.  Mom, died laughing!  Even dad got a chuckle out of it.  But Kyle thought it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard.  Since then, everyone once in a while we just say, “Bad Girl!”.  It cracks us all up!  Especially Kyle, who loves being in on the inside joke.

WannaBe-80-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Shadyside -4 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle promoting Thrill of the Hunt & getting ready for the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt in Shadyside, Pittsburgh Pa. 8/17/13

Well, the feedback from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt participants were very positive.  I didn’t have a huge turnout, but enough to make the event fun.  It seems like I can’t give the tickets away for my scavenge hunt events lately, at least at present day.  Although I have a feeling, that comment will be just unbelievable and silly in the future.  Especially, when it catches on that these themed scavenger hunts are challenging, interactive and just plain fun!  Not to mention, my scavenger hunts also help to support and promote small communities and local merchants.  Win, win for everyone!

When we got back to the house, it was still standing and everyone learned to calm down a bit.  Kyle was back to being my fun little man again, especially after I was praising him for his help and behavior.  We celebrated with Primanti Brothers sandwiches and we rented The Burbs.  Perfect evening to a crazy day!

Please vote for Thrill of the Hunt!  We have a chance to win a commercial during the Superbowl!  We need all the votes!  Everyone can vote daily, so keep them coming!!

VOTE HERE!  Thrill of the Hunt


Check out the pictures / videos from the WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt from our Gallery page, Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube!

Follow the Hunt!


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

Laughing About Nothing … Dog in Space

How many legs does a dog have it you call the tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.  ~Abraham Lincoln


Kyle hanging out in the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. 6/27/09

Yesterday was a great day!  Kyle played my assistant while we went to Shadyside.

Being located just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Shadyside is such a quaint, close-knit community that forces you to get out and walk around and explore.  My kind of joint!  We were down there to pass out flyers, meet with business owners and supply posters for the Thrill of the Hunt Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt. Obviously, the scavenger hunt is taking place in Shadyside, at the end of the month on Saturday June 29th.  If you are a dog owner, you won’t want to miss this event!

Traveling about an hour to get to our destination, allows for some serious dashboard time.  I couldn’t help myself, I told Kyle I got him his birthday gift.  I also mentioned that I will have to fork it over early.  He politely smiled and shrugged his shoulders.  I said, “Don’t you want to know what it is?”  He shrugged again and said, “Umm ya I guess but I know you’ll never tell me” without an ounce of enthusiasm.  I’m not surprised, he knows very well that I won’t by him toys or video games.  My gifts to Kyle have always been unconventional.  Meaning they are either educational yet fun, or a skill or an opportunity to try something new, which he may have never done so.  I’m all about the experiences in life.  Examples, piano lessons, guitar lessons, flying a plane, swimming lessons, the Harry Potter book set, Chess set, Monopoly game, tickets to see Lion King the musical with the family and so on and so forth.  Even though he loves the gifts, he is still a bit shortsighted by his love of Legos, video games and toys.  At least at this point of his life.


Yes, that’s Kyle in the Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C., holding a Lego set! He hasn’t changed yet. 6/27/09

Well, little does Kyle know, I purchased him a Bricks 4 Kidz camp for a week.  The morning session is Animal Grossology and the afternoon session is Space and Astronomy -Star Wars.  As we drove, I though I’d get him a little bit psyched up by offering clues.  He wasn’t about the guessing game, so I made him.  I said, “Ok, I’ll give you two clues, number one, it involves animals and number two it involves space.”  Now Kyle’s imagination and complete silliness took over.

He was saying, “You got me a dog in space.  You got me a cat in space.  You got me a dog shaped comet.  You got me a dog and a telescope.  You got me a telescope to look at dogs in space.”  Then the ultimate comment.  “You got me a dog shaped telescope!”  We both busted out laughing, for what came next took our breath away.  I said, “How does that work, you lift up its tail and look through its bum hole?”  We were dying!   And then, maintaining consistency with our wild imaginations, we took it to the next outrageous level.   I said, “Ya and to zoom in our out, you push the paw and when you’re done, you put the tail back down.”  Kyle was laughing so hard, no noise exited his mouth.

After a while we started talking about the sounds the dog shaped telescope would make, and it went on from there.  Good times!

It was one of those gut stretching moments that seems like only Kyle and I really appreciate.  We do have such a great time together and he has such a great personality and imagination!  Even if it is just riding in a car.

On a side note, Kyle was such a great kid the entire day.  Even as I met with business owners, he was polite, shook their hands and really sincerely helped me!  He even had a great idea of stopping those people who were walking their dogs to give them a flyer.  Great idea buddy!  Go straight to our target market.

Dog Gone Scavenger Hunt Thrill of the Hunt

Kyle never once complained about walking, however he did take advantage of the opportunity to window shop while moving through the streets.  I can’t blame him, I did the same!  We did swing by the Apple Store, of course why not we were right there, to take a peek at what’s new and exciting.

On a side note, Kyle mentioned he lost his ipod.  What?  Are you kidding me?  He said, “Umm well I know it’s somewhere in my room.  I just haven’t found it yet.”  O Kyle!

Another great day with the little man, totally unplanned and very productive on my end.  Kyle is excited about the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt, as am I!  It’ll be a fun event.  More on that later.  So don’t miss the fun and go to the Thrill of the Hunt website ( and purchase your Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt tickets!

Catch all the ridiculously funny stories!

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!
Laughing About Nothing … Truck Horn!

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

Negative Attention is Still Attention

Children need boundaries and ground rules.  When children don’t have structure, they makeup their own rules and negative behavior is what they use to get your attention.  ~Jo Frost


Kyle wouldn’t walk around when we first trimmed the fruit trees… he would only help by driving his quad…check out the flames on his quad!

It’s no secret that I like attention, that is only when I want attention.  Actually, I  probably lived for this type of recognition more so when I was younger, and now I could care less.  Sometimes I wish I could blend into the shadows, even though it never works.  Especially if I’m running around in my jp’s (jogging pants) with an old T-shirt and boots.  Now that’s a look!  In general, I must stick out like a sore thumb.  I know I do wearing an outfit like that.  Well maybe not, if I’m in Walmart.  But I’m not here to discuss my attention gaining personality, nor my attire.  I want to discuss my sidekick, Kyle Piper.

Kyle is the same way!  He loves attention!  No matter what kind of attention, positive or negative.  I know he’s just a kid, but he thrives on it something awful.

When Kyle was a little tyke, around a year old, maybe a little younger he would do this thing that absolutely upset everyone.  I’m guessing he felt like he was being ignored.  Now come on!  Seriously?  A cute little baby boy, the only grandchild in our family and the son of my recently deceased brother, ignored?  Now I’m not saying that is or isn’t the case, but certainly not from my family.  In fact, we probably were the opposite and gave Kyle too much attention, if there is such a thing.

What was this horrible act?  If I would set Kyle on the floor or if he was just sitting there playing and he noticed we weren’t paying attention to him, he would drop his head down to the floor, stop it before it hit, and then lightly bang his head.  Then, he would cry and hold his recently bumped noggin.  At first we would immediately respond to the unusual act that unfolded before our eyes.  One of us would run over and pick him up and consul this traumatized child.  That is until this happened too frequently to count.  Eventually, we would make it a point to ignore our center-of-attention-deprived child.  As he would continue playing the same show, we noticed he would look for our reactions, not getting much from us.  I take it that was his cue to maneuver his way over to our always open arms.  Naturally we would pick up the “wounded”, but no one ever dared mention the head banging.  I remember one time, I said to Kyle as he was holding his head and crying crocodile tears, “Then don’t hit your head and it won’t hurt.”  Even though he couldn’t talk, I knew he understood what I was saying.  Smart little kid, the whole thing was a set up.

The first time my sister saw one of Kyle’s performances, she gasp so loud and raised her voice to say, “Ahh O no!  Aunt Heather!”  as she pointed to the self destructive child.  I saw what unfolded and realized Nicole never witnessed this behavior before.  In a very blasé manner, I replied, “Nicole, don’t watch him!  He’s been doing that.  It doesn’t hurt him, he stops himself before he really hits the floor.  Without him knowing, watch next time, his head barely touches the carpet.  Just pay no attention or he’ll keep doing it.”  Nicole, clearly upset did as instructed but was not happy.  To reinforce what we were doing was right I told her, “When Kyle doesn’t get his own way or what he wants, he’ll go straight to the floor and act like he hit his head.  I don’t care, he’s not getting his own way.  He doesn’t dictate orders and he’s not seriously hurt.”


Kyle hanging with his pappy at Jim’s sawmill

On a side note, that’s almost too funny.  I actually remember saying that, and look at us now, Kyle does dictate orders.  We don’t always abide by them, but he does own us.

This act of getting attention has evolved over the years, but the goal remains the same.  Now it’s not always negative attention, even though that does consume the majority of the time.  Sometimes he goes out of his way to really be good.  When he does this, he always points it out.  There is no fear of missing Kyle doing something good because he always states the case.  He likes being praised and recognized for his work and efforts.  Example time!

A few years ago mom and dad were making sauerkraut and Kyle and I were helping.  The entire way through the process Kyle kept saying, “Am I doing good pappy?  How am I doing Aunt Heather?”  This is where Kyle really differs from the family.  We don’t need constant positive reinforcement.  In fact, we really don’t give it very often, only when a job is done and done well.  My theory is, if I’m doing something wrong, I will be told about it.  We are not a shy family about blatantly spitting out the truth or our opinions.  I guess Kyle is different, not about spitting out the honest truth or sharing his opinions.  He does plenty of that, but in regards to needing positive reinforcement.  Even while we were butchering up dad’s deer from this past season, Kyle would say the same thing, “Pappy how am I doing?” and so on and so forth.  Admittingly, I will say I have no patience for that need of constant appraisal.  Now I am not a tyrant, I do respond to Kyle, calling out his good work, but I have limits and I have no issue with saying “Kyle!  Yes buddy you’re doing a great job and we appreciate your help.  I don’t need to tell you that every two minutes.”  Sounds harsh, but I want Kyle to be secure when he’s doing anything and not always needing someones approval.

Sometimes I swear Kyle moves so slow, not really to get on my nerves, but to get my attention.  I know for a fact, that he moves like a snail when getting dressed to take the dogs for a hike, because he doesn’t want to go.  And let’s not forget two weekends ago when Kyle and I were both helping my dad trim back the fruit trees.  It was snowing on us as we worked, only because a cold day is needed so the fruit trees don’t bleed out.  I get it, it’s not the most exciting way to spend a Saturday morning but responsibilities come first.  Once dad cut down the branches, all we had to do was drag the manageable sized trimmings about 50 feet to a burn pile.  Granted we did need to help dad load up the quad with the saw and supplies, but really it wasn’t too taxing.  Completing the job in about three to four hours total, for this long overdue project was not a horrible sacrifice.  Would you believe all Kyle wanted to do was stand by dad and oil his saw when needed, which wasn’t very often, while I dragged the brush?  Are you kidding me?  I even told him if he really worked hard I would omit the hike with the dogs for the day.  Even when making a deal with him, that kid complained the ENTIRE time and walked as slow as he could, trying to do as little as possible.  I swear if he moved any slower he would have been standing still.  Literally, I walked circles around him, going back and forth with the brush.  Boy, his dad would have NEVER tolerated such behavior!  Ryan was an extremely hard working person, and I mean manual labor.  And to have his son, be the complete opposite while the rest of the family picks up for his slack would have never gotten past the first whine.


Mr Stickerhead… Kyle always loved stickers! 11/18/03

As we moved through the day, Dad even tried to lighten the mood by calling him a Sasquatch, and teasing him about the speed in which he moved, like molasses.  He continued on c0urse, except I did catch Kyle snickering, as if he was really enjoying this attention that we were giving him by joking around.  I about lost it and grounded him from cartoons, the computer and his ipod.  If he picked up the pace and stopped moping, I told him he could redeem himself.  Nope!  He continued at a snails pace, with a miserable ‘poor me’ attitude.  Once we got back to the house, Kyle pouted about his punishment, but it was almost as if he wanted to be separated from his electronics.  Whether he enjoyed the sulking or that was his way of showing me he needed attention and restricted from those devices, I have no idea.  There is one thing that I know for sure, even though he was in trouble, he was truly enjoying the attention.  Naturally, everyone was lecturing him on hard work, and pitching in and helping out the family, the standard speech.  He is too much!

A few weekends ago, and come to think of it, this past weekend Kyle was on this kick of making really annoying noises.  The clicking or tapping kind.  He even started doing it in the car, just subtle repetitive knocking, while he would give me a sideways glance.  He didn’t think I saw, but I did.  I let it go, until steam is escaping my ears.  Kyle’s getting good, he knows my limit for patience and tolerance.  He was being annoying the other day and I went to backhanded his shoulder or gut and didn’t realize he was bending over.  I made a direct hit with his forehead.  We both got a chuckle out of that one.  That’s how I know his behavior is more about the attention then the item in question.

You know it’s funny, but I remember doing the same thing as a kid.  Once I had this juice cap top.  The kind that would pop up when the seal was broken.  It might have been from Snapple or some other juice.  Regardless, it had this unique sound that I loved.  I would walk around clicking it and clicking it.  Sometimes, if I didn’t want to listen to Nicole while she barked orders at me, I would just click the bottle cap at her and walk away.  Clicking it in Ryan’s face was just fun to get a rise out of him.  He was like Nicole pretty laid back, until seriously pushed.  Although, even though I really enjoyed clicking it to be irritating, sometimes my intent wasn’t to get on everyone’s nerves but to enjoy this unique sound it made.  That is until one day it went missing.  I know Ryan or Nicole had something to do with its disappearance.  These little moments show me how much Kyle and I are really alike, except he did and still does get ALL of our attention.


Kyle playing with is cousins at Bruce’s picnic.

Surprisingly, or maybe not so, Kyle’s attention grabbing behavior is just a way to show he misses us and wants to spend time with the family.  This past weekend, my sister was home.  Kyle was up her butt and needed her to do everything with him all weekend.  She couldn’t just sit and relax because he was like a leach, a whining one.  Other times, I think Kyle is just board and wants some activity, even though I do keep him pretty busy.  He gets on these kicks of playing chess, which I encourage.  No one else will really play with him except me, only because my parents don’t know how to play and my sister really doesn’t like playing.  Yet he will walk around nagging everyone, because that’s what he wants to do, and he wants the interaction of the family.  Usually if we’re talking about chess, I’ll bite.  Kyle knows I enjoy a good game.  Again, I get it, he’s just showing us how much he loves us.  We truly love having Kyle around and spending time with him, even on the irritating days.

Even when Kyle is not seeking attention, he gets it.  Like anyone needs to fuel this already blazing fire.  I will admit, it’s almost always due to a good dead or a thoughtful action.  Others notice his behavior and want to praise him.  I guess I should be proud of that attention, which I always am.  I just don’t want Kyle’s already large round head to grow anymore.  My fear of Kyle failing in life because of his own ego or attitude is very real.  That’s why I try to knock him down a peg or two, just to keep him in check with reality.  No matter what, I love him very much and I’m so proud of the little man he’s become.  Maybe he’ll grow out of this need for attention.  It took me a while but I did, well kinda.

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

Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man

I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.  Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games.  The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets.  ~Ronald Reagan


Nicole, Mom & Ryan hanging at grams house 1984

This past Christmas Kyle got a PlayStation 3 (PS3), not that he needed an additional means to play more video games.  But just as expected, he was ecstatic over the purchase.  What really cracks me up, is he has the Wii with a boatload of video games and Wii Fitness, which he barely plays anymore.  Let’s not forget all the games he’s purchased on his iPod Touch, the computer and he still plays with his Nintendo DS.  I guess he has a game for any occasion and any location.

With the availability of this new console, my sister decided to encourage his already obsessive behavior by purchasing him his very own Burnout Paradise and a few other games.  Kyle LOVES that game.  Every year since the establishment of ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’ Kyle has practically mastered the game and dreams about playing that game every year before vacationing at Nicole’s house.  In fact, if he hears Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses, he’ll get in this almost nostalgic state and have a yearning to visit my sister to play.  No joke!  He’s actually said to me, “Aunt Heather now I really want to go to Aunt Nikki’s to play Burnout Paradise.”  Now Nicole and Kyle can play Burnout Paradise with each other in the evenings.  Since my sister is four hours away, this is kind of a neat way to hang out, through a video game.  I guess any excuse to spend time with each other is a good excuse.


Kyle playing his Nintendo DS.  T-shirt courtesy of Aunt Nikki c. 2009

Sometimes I wonder if the desire to play video games is an inherited behavior.  Ryan wasn’t really that into video games, he would rather be outside hunting and fishing or working on cars.  Playing every once in a while, I can say I’m not really big into video games myself.  I would rather be reading, snowboarding, running or hiking.  My sister, although I would never constitute her as a gamer, does like to play video games more than any of us.  My dad, forget it.  He’s never touched a computer and the only Wii game he’s ever played was Cabela’s Hunting.  Probably because we have a plastic gun type of accessory to house the Wii remote control, giving it that kind of hunting feel.  Mom will sit and play a Wii game if Kyle pleads with her to do so.  She tries, but the games are a lot more complex than they used to be and her eyesight isn’t all that great.  Let’s not forget her reflexes aren’t what they used to be either.  How do I know?  Mom had the potential to be a modern day gamer.

Way long time ago, in the 1980’s, when Atari came out, my parents purchased us the console and a few games.  Prior to, we had a very basic game called Pong.  Not too exciting but was enough to stimulate us for a while.  Now, when the Atari arrived, it did catch our attention, at least initially.  We had Frogger, always one of my favorites and still is.  As a matter of fact, I downloaded it to our Wii console but the desire to play it isn’t there anymore.  On a side note, Seinfeld did an episode on Frogger.  It was great!

Another game which logged a lot of hours was Combat.  This one required two players and dad owned it!  Within Combat, there were different games such as tanks or airplanes.  Basically you shot each other up until someone was out of ammo.  That was up dad’s alley, not really my bag.  Ryan on the other hand loved Pole Position!  This was his cup of tea.  It was a racing game whereas you viewed the screen as if you were really driving the car.  You needed to avoid other drivers, maneuver around curves and avoid crashing.   It was fun picking the different courses.

PacMan Aunt Heather Piper

I can’t remember Nicole having a favorite game, but I’m sure she did.  A few other videos we owned included Q-Bert, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Missile Command and Donkey Kong.  There were many more games to purchase, but we didn’t get new ones just because we wanted them, only for special occasions, unlike kids of today.

atari2600 Aunt Heather Piper

This is what our Atari console looked like! Love the 80’s!

Intentionally, I left one game out of the list because it is the spotlight of my rant.  The one the only, the original Pac-Man!  I look at Pac-Man as the Angry Birds of our present day.  Coming as part of the Atari console package, along with Combat, Pac-Man was the game!  There was even a cartoon made to continue the phenomenon.  Being a relatively simple game, your yellow Pac-Man guy had to eat these dots or pills in the maze without being attacked from Blinky (Red), Inky (light blue), Pinky (Pink) and Clyde (Orange), the ghosts.  Naturally there were opportunities to power up and gain additional points.  Each level became faster and faster and the mazes changed slightly, becoming increasingly difficult.

Back in the day, mom was our master Pac-Man master.  She really was, without question.  Presently, we relive this tale of how the most unassuming member of the family, who stood on the sidelines watching everyone take their shot at the title, turned into a Pac-Man powerhouse behind closed doors.  Yes mom, kicked all of our butts!  I’ll never forget the day we realized mom rained supreme with this simple Atari game.


Mom doesn’t look like she’s having a nice day… 1980’s

It happened on the most ordinary of days.  Upon filing into the house after coming home from school, we naturally ran to the Atari console to challenge each other to a game, letting our hair down and relaxing before homework.  One of us, either me, Ryan or Nicole plugged in the Pac-Man game.  The high score glowed throughout the room, blinding our eyes and taunted us like a cruel joke.  We seriously didn’t say anything at first and just kind of stared at each other wondering who accomplished this feet without everyone knowing, and when?  Just then, mom walked into the living-room sporting a huge grin on her face, as if proud of herself for kicking her very own flesh and blood’s scores to the curb, in a single day!  Mom’s master craftsmanship of game playing was done in one day, while we were at school and dad at work.

Remaining stunned and in complete shock, we challenged mom to a game of Pac-Man, but alas it was a futile attempt at reclaiming our place, ever.  For the duration of the Atari gaming system in our household, mom was undefeated.  We sincerely tried, all of us.  We also had our cousins up, but alas the damage had been done.

PacMan Game Aunt Heather PiperMom played Pac-Man so much her wrists would even flare up and bother her, but she would push through the discomfort for the thrill of the game.  Sometimes we would have mom play just so we could watch her and learn the next levels in case one day we would make it that far.  Mom was seriously fast with her ninja-like reflexes.  It’s almost like she was using The Force to guide her through the mazes.

What was mom’s top score?  Seriously, I don’t even remember and neither does she, but I do remember it was always better than any score I’ve ever seen on any free standing Pac-Man machines found in the arcades and any friends Atari console.  Mom doesn’t really play anymore but she still lives the memories of her gaming days through this story.  Kyle doesn’t really understand, even though he knows what Pac-Man is, we had a Plug & Play containing old Atari games.  But I can tell he really can’t visualize what I’ve witnessed and what we lived to tell the tale.

Looks like mom was the Piper family’s original gamer!  Look out Kyle if you ever decide to challenge Gigi to a game of Pac-Man, you will be rudely awakened!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing 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…

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


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.


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.


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.”


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

Taking On Poison Sumac

Abstain from every form of evil.  ~1 Theassalonians 5:22


Nicole, me and Roxanne in mom & dad's yard

Last weekend I helped dad in the yard.  While he mowed I weed whacked all around the house, the orchard and part of the bank.  First, I will admit I’m not the most graceful with the equipment, but I get the job done, sometimes down to the dirt.  It was a hot one and the weeds were pretty considerable, not being done for a couple weeks.  I’m pretty good about protecting myself when I do yard work, wearing pants, tennis shoes, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.  It never fells, I always hit a rock or some object that goes flying at my face or legs, and I won’t even go into what the sun would do to my skin if left unprotected.

As I moved around the yard, Seven stayed within the same vicinity and was pretty much by my side, until he would get hot and move toward the shade.  He was never far from me, unless I was making objects fly.  He didn’t seem to mind the noise of the weed whacker like Scooby.  When I fired up, Scooby took off to sit with my mom or hide in the house.  I was kind of glad, I didn’t want to hurt the dogs, but Seven seemed to know when to lay near me while I worked, and when to keep his distance.  Of course he made his appearance when I needed a break or needed to fuel up. In fact, that was Scooby’s cue to join in on the party and make up some lost attention.

PoisonSumac Aunt Heather Piper.JPG

Poison Sumac... take a good look at those poisonous leaves

As I proceeded up the bank, working my way around the blueberry bushes, I hit a hornets nest up under the bush.  Yikes!  I know, just because I’m allergic to yellow jackets, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m allergic to hornets.  But I wasn’t about to find out.  Seven and I ran, aborting the area and informing dad while he was mowing, so the surprise didn’t come in the form of a dozen, armed angry hornets.  I figured weeding that area will have to wait until the hornet’s where given their official eviction notice.

Later, I saw a huge black snake that took off down the bank before dad could catch up to it on the lawn mower. Ya, I hate snakes!  That geeked me out a bit.  Enough that dad thought it might have gone in the one set of weeds, so he sat there and watched me knock down the brush. And me being me, I fell down the yard while I was cautiously watching for the two and half foot slimy threat.  I got a good look at the snake and it was a black snake, not poisonous, but regardless, a two and a half foot snake!  I’m sure dad rolled his eyes at me especially when I fell a second time, slipping on the grass.  But it wouldn’t be a day without a minor accident.

After I was done with the yard, thinking I had avoided all the threats out in the jungle, I found out the next day I was wrong.  Sadly, I will admit we were working on Sunday, which I don’t like to do.  I try to honor the Sabbath day, but alas dad was feeling better and I wanted to help him out.  Come Monday, I noticed my arm was itchy and I started to see small blisters.  Yikes!  Not poison ivy?  Nope, I later found out that I had a case of poison sumac.  My left arm had a patch nearly the size of the palm of my hand and it was swollen!  Then by the end of Monday and moving into the next day, small patches started to show up and down my right arm, stomach, and neck.  I can handle the small patches.  Not too terrible.  They were itchy, but the cream I put on the irritated skin helped relieve some the itching and they didn’t consume much real estate.  Now, the patch on my left arm was a different story.  It was hard, like I get when stung by a bee, hot, red, and it hurt.  It felt as if I burned my arm on the oven rack.  It never itched just burned.  Then, by mid week it was oozing.  Yes, draining!  Not just a little moisture, I mean dripping down my arm.  I had to wrap it up for work and change my bandage half way through the day.  It was nasty!


Nicole, me, & dad holding Kyle... day out fishing with the family

Wednesday night, I thought I’m going to win this battle and actually take something.  I went home after work, took two Benadryl’s, which I NEVER take medicine and laid on the couch ready for the drowsy effects to kick in.  It was strange, I never felt tired or drugged.  So I decided, I was going to help the medicine out by kicking back a shot of vodka.  I thought that should do it. Nope!  Finally I just went to bed, tossing and turning all night.  Sometimes I would bump my left arm and it would wake me up.  Not only did the Benadryl not work, but I awoke up Thursday morning to find a large pool of ooze in my 800 thread count sheets.  I was not happy and totally grossed out at the same time.  Well, by then there seemed to be a thousand blisters of various sizes anchored to that area of my arm and spreading.  By mid-day most of my forearm was noticeably swollen, seeping and in pain.

Not being a big fan of going to doctors, especially when I don’t think they can do anything, I was torn.  I am also not a big fan of taking medicine, I would much rather eat the right foods and use nature as my medicine.  So I began to read articles and forums online.  I know most of the information is not medically approved, but sometimes I trust someone who has gone through the same situation over taking a drug prescribed for everyone.  Reading through all the horror stories, I realized my case was not a sever as others, and everyone had their own method for dealing with the situation.  That makes sense, everyone’s allergic reaction is different and so must be the treatment.  I must say, I didn’t know what to do.  But right after work on Thursday, I had Kyle’s baseball game and then I had to take him to my parents house.  Dad was taking Kyle fishing all day Friday.


Yep the color is about right... it was actually dripping like a faucet

What to do? What to do?  I went to the game and sat there holding my ooze soaked paper towels, trying to be as discreet as possible.  As I sat there, I started to feel nauseous.  I don’t know if it was from the allergic reaction or from watching my arm drain like a leaky sink.  At one point, I started to get into the game and I leaned forward, elbows on knees, teetering my umbrella over my shoulder to keep the sun off of me, and I saw drips of ooze landing on the bleacher in front of me!  I was mortified!  I started to text my friend Holly, I like to think of her as my running partner and personal nurse.  She was yelling at me through text messages, telling me to get my butt to the doctors.  She wanted me to go to the ER.  That seemed a bit extreme for me.  What probably made it worse, I texted her a picture of my oozing, raw, swollen arm.  This was when my way of thinking did start to shift.  On a side note, I sent my sister the same picture just to gross her out.  I do find humor in the little things in life.

Kyle’s team lost, again, but he had a few great assists and he participated.  His batting swings were strong, just never made good contact with the ball.  He ran his heart out though and I was proud!  Sometimes sitting there for two hours watching a kids baseball game is painful, since I can’t sit for too long, being a hyperactive person, and I’m not a fan of sports.  But I do it week over week to watch my little man.  He seems to enjoy it and I support and encourage anything that benefits him, whether I like it or not.

As we made our way home, I really started to deliberate my situation, especially while I had a bunch of completely soaked paper towels resting between my thigh and forearm as I drove.  Kyle called mom and was talking to her and I had him ask mom how late Med Express stayed open.  They were open till 9:00 pm and our current time was 8:10 pm.  This was going to be a close one, but I thought if I could get to there before they closed then God was saying go see a doctor.  If we didn’t make it in time, then I was planning on taking a Benadryl and calling it a night.

Alas, God had spoken, because we got there in great time and they took me in right away.  Kyle was such a trooper.  He kept my wallet and my iphone so I didn’t have to worry about them.  I even offered to call mom and have her pick him up so he didn’t have to wait with me.  He said, “No it’s ok, I have my ipod I’ll be good.  I’ll wait with you.”  That kid has such a heart.  As we sat there talking, Kyle bragged, as I always have, that he doesn’t get poison ivy.  I corrected him saying, “Don’t ever chance it, you don’t know when the tables will be turned.”  He kind of shrugged.  I hope he heeds my warning.  Then he turns to me and says, “I hope they don’t give you a shot.  I don’t like shots!”  With complete fear in his eyes.  I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and he went back to playing his ipod.

poison ivy Aunt Heather Piper

Another one of my nemesis... poison ivy

While they took me back to get my vitals they have to go through the serious of questions, ‘How long have you had this?’ and ‘Have you had surgery before?’.  I really have been pretty healthy all my life, I am blessed in that respect.  I answered as best I could until the nurse asked me if I was in the hospital for anything and Kyle perked up and said, “Ya Aunt Heather you broke your arm.”  I said, “She doesn’t mean that and how do you remember that anyway?”  Actually, I’ve broken both of my wrists, my right one twice.  But all of those were pre-Kyle, yet he must have remembered us talking about it.  The nurse commented that it must have made an impression on him.  I guess so.

Once they took me back to the patient room, the minute the doctor saw me he said, “Yep, poison sumac!  It’s a good thing you came in ’cause it would continue to spread all over your body.”  Yikes!  He was right, as we sat there I noticed more patches of it showing up.  Here, I thought it was going to start to go away.  The doctor then asked me, “Do you have it elsewhere?” and I started to point out other patches.  Then, Kyle jumped up to point out every place that was infected.  Love my buddy, he keeps me in line and gets straight to business.  Next thing out the doctor’s mouth was, “Ok, I’ll you a shot and you will need to take these pills for two weeks.”  Just then I saw the horror in Kyle’s eyes as he stopped playing and slowly moved his head up to meet my eyes.  I just gave him an encouraging smile.  When the nurse came in and prepped the needle I thought Kyle turned green.  Then right before she shot my arm, he completely turned around and stood with his back to me.  My little man!  The nurse was too sweet, she said, “I hurried up and did it.”  It was for Kyle’s sake not mine and I’m glad.  The nurse said, “It’s ok, I’m done, your aunt’s fine.”  He slowly and reluctantly turned to face me with such an upset demeanor.  I said, “I’m fine buddy. No worries.”  He said, “You are?  I don’t like needles.”  Just then the burn of the shot started to shoot through my muscle, as I tried to keep a smile on my face and not show Kyle it was burning.

poison_sumac Aunt Heather Piper

Yep this is poison sumac too! Yikes! It looks harmless and pretty

Well the little adventure to the doctor’s we certainly eventful.  They are really great in there, unfortunately it wasn’t my first trip to that office.  In fact, as I sat in waiting room I 4 Squared my location from my phone, and I became the Mayor of Med Express Latrobe.  Yikes!  How sad, I’m not the mayor of a restaurant, not the mayor of a park or a store, but I am the mayor of Med Express.  That is too funny!  As we got home dad asked me where I encountered the poison sumac, and I honestly have no idea. I apparently don’t know what it looks like.  Then, as dad examined my arms he said, “Why didn’t you just dump gasoline on it?” and I retorted with, “Ya and you should just light a match too.”  He snickered, dad doesn’t know what it’s like to have sensitive skin.  He was and will always be a mountain man, a true woods man.  Then I go from that extreme to another.  Holly called me and started to ask me thirty thousand questions, ‘What shot did they give you?’ What medicine do you have to take?’ all the standard nurse questions that I can’t answer.  She scalded me saying, “What if you get an allergic reaction to the meds?  You will need to let them know what you took! Look we have to work on your medical knowledge.”  O my Holsters!    What cracks me up is her husband is a nurse too, so I sometimes get it from both of them, but they know I don’t really give a crap.  I just go through life on faith.  That’s why I have my friends and my family.  They keep me going in the right direction.  It’s not like I’m going to stop what I’m doing out of fear.  I’m still going to use the weed whacker, still going to continue to do yard work, and I’m never going to give up my walks through the woods, but with just a little bit more awareness and understanding for the consequence and the dangers that I may face.

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

ipod Touch…Mission Accomplished!

If you’re not learning while you’re earning, you’re cheating yourself out of the better portion of your compensation.  ~Napoleon Hill


Kyle with is new ipod Touch, Apple Store Shady Side 5/2/12

Nothing is as rewarding as working toward a goal and reaching it.  Kyle has been working hard to collect, earn, and find enough money to upgrade his ipod Touch 4th generation 8GB.  Well, needless to say he did it, in record time might I add, within a week’s time frame.  Kyle saved the four hundred dollars, plus the tax for his new ipod Touch 4th generation 64GB.  He had his eyes on the prize and saw the finish line.  As of this past weekend Kyle re-counted his money to show me he was ready to go shopping.  He even said, “Aunt Heather could you count the money too to make sure it’s all there?” I said, “Nope, you are pretty good at math and I trust you can count accurately.”  He looked at me and nodded in a confident way with his little smirk.

On Saturday morning, my sister called and started to negotiate with him for his current ipod Touch.  Being on speaker phone, I heard the deals fly.  His mission was to get one hundred dollars for the 8GB device, while my sister’s mission was to teach Kyle about dickering back-and-forth.  I could tell he wasn’t quite getting it, then I had to step in and help the poor little guy out.  Nicole said, “Ok does the case come with it?”  Kyle looked down at his three dollar case and didn’t know how to answer her.  I stepped in and said, “The case is yours.”  He looked at me shocked! I said, Kyle I’ll get you another case, it’s minimal.  He nodded in agreement.  Nicole retorted, “Are there scratches?  What kind of shape is it in?”  Kyle tried by saying, “It’s in good shape, there are some scratches on the back.”  I couldn’t help myself, Kyle seemed like a sinking ship.  I said, “It’s the new 4th generation ipod in the coveted white.  The ipod just came out this past November and he got it for Christmas, so its only five months old and in great condition.”  That was an understatement, Kyle took very good care of his ipod.  Nicole started laughing and said, “I’m suppose to be negotiating with Kyle!”  I interjected again, “He needs a little help” as I gave Kyle a wink and a grin.  He takes the cue and said, “Ya Aunt Nikki, I looked online and I can get up to one hundred fifty dollars for the white one like mine.”  I heard her giggling in pride and amusement.  Nicole gave Kyle one last effort, “Ok does it come with a cord and wall charger?”  Kyle looked at me like ‘Help I don’t know what to say?’.  You see I got Kyle the wall charger separately, like his case.  Giving him the biggest ornery grin I had in me, and speaking very deliberately into the phone, I said, “You send us a hundred dollar check and get it to us by Wednesday we’ll give you the ipod, the case, the cord and the wall charger.”  Then Kyle interjected by saying, “Ya Aunt Nikki or cash.”  That’s my buddy!!!  I about died laughing when I heard that came out of his mouth.  I told Kyle we can take a check from Aunt Nikki since she’s mailing it and she’s a trusted source.  Nicole wrapped it up by saying, “Alright deal.”  Kyle smiled ear to ear, being excited about his negotiation skills and the thought of that new ipod in his hands by this past Wednesday.

Kyles-final-tally-sheet-Aunt-Heather-PiperNow Kyle wanted to know when I was going to take him to get his new device that was going to give him freedom to store eight times the ‘stuff’ in the palm of his hand.  Since he’s going into surgery this Saturday, he wanted his new ipod before he goes under.  I don’t blame him, that’s something good to look forward to, in the face of the hospital and doctors.  I also didn’t want him to take swimming this past Wednesday, right before surgery, so that’s when we both concocted the plan of ipod shopping.  How could I say no to all his efforts and hard work.

Obviously we could have ordered the ipod online, went to Best Buy, Target, Wal Mart or any of the local stores, but instead I wanted him to have a true apple experience.  I took Kyle to the Apple store in Shady Side, Pittsburgh.  I don’t really get to go into the city very often and I know Kyle has never been to Shady Side, so I thought it might be a nice little trip, something different.

On the way down, I had to stop and get gas in the car, treating this like a true adventure.  As we were at Sheetz fueling up, with overpriced gas might I add, Kyle decided he wanted an MTO.  We sat at the picnic tables outside the convenience store.  Kyle ate and I continued quizzing him on his history homework, knowing we wouldn’t be getting back till later and he had a Social Studies test the next day.  Also keep in mind, before this point, I had Kyle reading over his questions in the car.  Then that brings me to what happened next.  After he ate his wrap and smuffin, I kept quizzing until he looked a little green.  I said, “What’s wrong buddy?” and he placed his hand over his stomach and said, “I’m just feeling a little sick. Kind of like I’m going to throw up.”  Wow!  This happened quick, one moment he was fine all excited about our trip and now he is ready to blow chunks.  Kyle made a very good observation that it was pretty hot out and I tend to get sick too in the heat too.  “Ok, let’s get in the air conditioned car, please throw away the garbage and I’ll get you some cold water.” was all I got out before I turned toward his direction and saw the same food that was just ingested being upchucked into the trash can.  Yikes!  I ran and got him water and eventually moved him into the air conditioning.


Kyle opening his purchase, Apple Store Shady Side 5/2/12

Now it was time to make some hard and fast decisions.  “Kyle are you ok?”, he quickly retorted with a “Ya, I’m alright, I think it was the heat.”
“Do you want me to take you home?”
“Ya, maybe. Can we get my ipod before Saturday?”
“No Kyle, we have your baseball game tomorrow night, (referring to Thursday) and then you have guitar and piano lessons are Friday.”
“O, Ok, well then let’s just go now, I’m feeling better.”
“No, if you’re not feeling well, we can get it another time, you have an ipod to play with, I think you’ll be fine.”
“Um, ya but let’s just go now.  I’m feeling a lot better Aunt Heather.  I think it was also me reading when we were driving.”
Now that I know he was feeling all right, I did mention, “Kyle do you chew your food?  It looked like the entire smuffin in the trash, like you didn’t even bite into it.”  He gave me the Kyle grin and we both laughed.  I said, “Ok I guess the Battle at Tippecanoe and the War of 1812 are going to have to wait.”

After I made Kyle go in the bathroom and wash his hands and rinse out his mouth, I also had him get a piece of fruit to eat.  We got back in the car, cranked on the a/c and headed west toward out destination.  He was fine after that and started to become really excited the closer we got.  Naturally like a proud aunt, I video taped the experience and took a few pictures while I was there.

As we approached the store, Kyle saw the apple logo hovering over the doors welcoming us into our very own apple experience.  I let Kyle lead the charge; after all it was his money, his purchase, and his choice. As always the apple employees are seriously the nicest and most helpful, welcoming us as if we are their most cherished customers.  Kyle gave the young lady direction on what he wanted and they went right to work.  He picked the white one, fitting to replace his last one.  I tried to stay out his way and let him make the complete transaction.  But then I noticed after he gave Ashley, our personal apple assistant for the time being, all the details, he started to play a game on one of the demo models like no body else existed in the store.  What?   Like he’s never played a game on an ipod before!

Eventually, I managed to peel him away from the game long enough to pick out a new case and sign the receipt.  We were even going to have them set Kyle up, but he never backed up his purchases to the icloud and he forgot his ipod at home, which is strange because he drags that thing around with him everywhere.

After we walked around and got some answers to my questions, we exited the store in the same friendly fashion as we entered.  Then we decided to walk around Shady Side.  Kyle decided he was hungry, well naturally he really didn’t have a dinner.  We saw a few different places, one being a frozen yogurt place and I convinced Kyle to get some real food first, then if he wanted we could come back.  Kyle picked the place, Cappy’s.  Through dinner Kyle was talking to my sister and he she must have asked were are we eating because all I hear Kyle say, ‘Crabs, no I mean, crepes’ followed by some serious laughing on his part.  Then he looked at me and said, “Where are we?” and I quickly answered, knowing what he was trying to get to, “Cappy’s”.  He thought that was the funniest thing, he couldn’t stop laughing about being tongue tied Tim, even after he hung up the phone.

After dinner I fulfilled my promise and took Kyle to Happy Berry for his make-your-own frozen yogurt sundae.  We sat there sharing the bowl, that he made to reach the ceiling, and studied his homework.  He did a great job answering the questions.  Some lady overheard us and told us that she remembers missing the trick question, ‘What year was the war of 1812?’  Kyle just smiled like ‘really lady?’ but was polite and didn’t say anything.

We eventually made our way back to the car and headed in the opposite direction we came from.  Kyle played with his new ipod Touch the entire way.  You know I had an absolutely delightful evening with Kyle.  He is a great kid indeed!

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,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


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.


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.


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.


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

ipod Touch … Within Reach

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.  ~Unknown


While Kyle was texting me, I took a picture of this display in Barnes & Nobles & sent it to him. 4/22/12

This story to me is so unbelievable I had to share it!  My sister and I were just talking about Kyle’s accomplishment and we’re both kind of in shock!  Kyle is an amazing young man, but wow is he resourceful and goal focused!  Let me take you back to this past Christmas and the Family Time Through an ipod Touch.  Yes, I got Kyle an ipod Touch, engraved and everything.  I debated on the size of the ipod verses the price before making my purchase.  It was unanimously decided upon by mom, Nicole, my friend Kelly and myself to go with the 4th Generation 8GB ipod Touch.  I chose the white one since it was different from my iphone and I thought he might like it.  Everyone, including myself, thought it would be good to try Kyle out on the device to ensure he was going to take care of it and to see if he was going to like it, which I really wasn’t worried about either way since Kyle had his Nintendo DS for a long time and was nothing but responsible with it.  So the ipod Touch was the next step in Kyle’s life long journey of upgrading electronic devices.  Well, I didn’t realize he was ready to upgrade so soon, less than three months later.

About a month ago, Kyle mentioned that he ran out of memory on his ipod.  I thought, ‘What the heck?’ and sure enough he had so many games on there it sucked up the space.  What is really amazing to me, it wasn’t even because of music, photos or videos, the memory was sucked up from games!  Holy smokes, how many games does one little boy need?  Well, I can’t say this shocked me, considering all the while I’ve seen monitoring every purchase made.  You see, even though I have an email address for Kyle and he has his own iTunes store account, every purchase is emailed directly to me for my review.  Not to mention I have parental locks on everything so he cannot order games out of a selected criteria and nothing marked EXPLICIT from the iTune store.  Yep, over the months, Kyle has certainly put his iTunes money that he received from Christmas or Easter to good use.  No waste there.  That’s another thing, that account is not associated to any credit card, just to play it safe, I have it set-up so it only accepts iTunes money.


Kyle's piggy bank I made for his 3rd Birthday c. 2003

Kyle has mentioned this lack of memory dilemma a time or two.  At first, I was kind of insulted, after all that was his Christmas gift from me and I had it engraved especially for him.  I told Kyle to be happy he has an ipod and I reminded him it was a Christmas gift.  Kyle cares, I can’t say that he doesn’t, but let’s get real, he wanted the larger device.  After all, I’m sure that’s a big topic between him and his friends, not that I really care what the kids are saying.  It did however bother me that Kyle wanted to add more music, specifically the Star Wars sound tracks but he couldn’t.  Of course it didn’t bother me that much.

Although, I knew I was headed for an argument, or at very least the ipod problem discussion was about to escalate, when I recently walked Kyle to his CCD class a few Sunday’s ago.  We happened to be a little early and one girl was sitting there playing a game on her ipod Touch.  I saw Kyle’s eyes become very interested in what she was playing.  Kyle asked the standard questions, “What game are you playing?” “What’s your favorite game?” and then the dreaded, “What size is yours?”.  NO!  She responded without looking up from her game to answer his questions, including saying it was a 32GB.  Kyle just looked at me like, ‘How could she have a bigger ipod Touch?’

Well as the weeks rolled around, I still didn’t care that Kyle had only an 8GB.  I reminded him that some children are not even lucky enough to receive that much and I didn’t want him to be a slave to material things.  Well, that was in one ear and out the other.  Then, Kyle did the unthinkable.  As we sat down for dinner after swimming, Kyle commented that he was going to free up some space by removing pictures.  Yikes! No!  I don’t like to delete pictures especially ones that Kyle took, I love seeing things from his point of view.  The pictures where of his Lego creations he built and wanted to show me.  How could I let his injustice happen?  Of course I could have just had him download the images to iphoto on the computer and then delete the pictures from his ipod, but it was the point that he chose his games over his digital memories.

Kyle's-Tally-Sheet-Aunt-Heather-PiperOk, I give.  After weeks of listening to him comment on what games he wanted, and the music he wants to download, I finally made a deal with him.  I only did this because he never once whined or complained, he just spoke of his lack of memory in an as-a-matter-of-fact way.  I told him, if he saves up enough money, I will take him to the apple store to pick out the ipod Touch he wanted.  I even said that if he wanted to sell his current ipod I will help him out, but it’s solely up to him.  He had to earn the money and do the leg work, including reviewing the different sizes of ipods and how much he would get for his.  Next thing I know, Kyle was online looking at the different options comparing prices.  He even had an epiphany, he said, “Aunt Heather if I wouldn’t have just purchased all those Legos I would have $120 to spend.”  I agreed and said, “I told you, you might want to save your money for something really big instead of constantly blowing it all.”  Yes, I did it, I pulled an ‘I told you so’.  Just at that moment, I saw the gears moving in his cranium cavity.  He turned to me and said, “Hey Aunt Heather can I take the money out of my pig?”  You see I made Kyle this ceramic piggy bank for his second birthday, and over the years we throw loose change in there or money he randomly earns.  At that moment I thought there might have been 30 or 40 dollars, maybe 50 bucks tops.  Sure.

The minute Kyle got to my parents house he headed for the pig and began extracting the money.  He took most of Friday evening sorting and counting the cold hard cash.  Wow, was I wrong!  There was about one hundred and forty eight dollars!  I said jokingly, “If I would have known that Kyle, I would have drained the pig a while ago.”  He just laughed and was all of a sudden very proud of himself for his efforts and hopeful, that he wasn’t going to take too long to save up for his new purchase.

All weekend, Kyle was asking my parents if he could work for them to earn money.  At one point my mom was going through her old mail and found a Christmas card address to Kyle containing five bucks.  As he kept recovering money, he kept a running tally.  Now getting to the amazing part.  Without my dad slipping him extra money and him truly earning it and finding change, Kyle gathered three hundred twenty six dollars and forty one cents!  In less than a week!  With loose change, money found and some earned!  I could never pull that off but yet a ten year old just did!  Not to burst his bubble, but I had to bring him back to some sort of reality once the final total was discovered.  I mentioned that he had to take tax into consideration because he was going to have to cover that too.  He gave me a sigh, but he understood that he was to raise all the money himself.

As we left, I heard Kyle say to my dad, “Pap pap make sure you get a list of chores for me to do so I can earn money.”  Kyle really wanted to earn his money!  He said to me in the car, “Aunt Heather what are you going to need me to do at your house?”  He usually helps me with the lawn and pulling weeds.  He is determined to reach his goal, and fast.  He is seeing the light at end of the tunnel.  Monday he texted me, saying he was trying to earn extra money around the house too.  You go buddy!  Hard word does pay off!  I am just proud of you for your persistence and hard work.  He is really a goal focused little man.

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

Family Time Through an iPod Touch

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.  ~ Jane D. Hull

You know, more than not, Kyle manages to pleasantly surprise me.  The other day I was watching TV and I received a couple text messages from Kyle from his new iPod Touch I got him for Christmas.  First I’d like to say, when Kyle is not with my family he is missed terribly and we are always wondering what he’s up to.  So, needless to say, receiving an unprompted text message from Kyle made my night.  On a side note, like most 10 year old kids, Kyle doesn’t like to talk to family members more than needed, especially when a game awaits his attention.  But what really threw me off guard, earlier that day, was when dad and I Facetimed Kyle right after school (not his choice).  I wanted to make sure he was still alright from when we were Playing Chicken With a Drunk Driver.  Anyway, he was texting to see if he could take his new iPod Touch to school and daycare.  Can you believe it?  How sweet and responsible!  I naturally replied, “Surely, it’s yours.”  Then I texted him, “Did you practice your piano and guitar?”  The response I got was, “I took a shower and I’m ready for bed”, followed by “I got an A on my spelling test.”  After congratulating him, I asked him to go practice his instruments before bed.  He then texted me back asking to Facetime.

Kyle Piper ipod Touch Aunt Heather Piper

What a pleasant surprise!  He wanted me to hear him practice his piano, guitar, and trumpet.  Not to mention, if I know Kyle, he doesn’t like doing anything by himself and he lives for attention and compliments.  So this was an easy win-win for him.  We made a little chit chat before he laid down the iPod Touch while he went through the notes on his guitar.  Sometimes the signal would break up a bit but, for the most part, it was pretty clear.  While I was listening, I had to watch the his ceiling fan spin.  It kind of made me a little motion sick, so I couldn’t look the entire time.  Then, every once in a while, Kyle would peek the top of his head into view.  He looked like a groundhog popping its head up and down.  Usually, all I saw was the top of his head down to his nose.  It was actually kind of funny.

Next, Kyle had to move to another room where his keyboard was set up.  Instead of a ceiling fan, I got to watch the ceiling and the corner of the wall.  I kept waiting for the head popping into view and I got my wish several times.  He also kept checking to make sure I was paying attention, which I certainly was trying to be the best audience via Facetime.  Then came the trumpet.  He played a song two or three times before he wanted to move onto a more important item… his Lego Star Wars Death Star!

When he said he was done and I finished complimenting him and letting him know how happy I was that he finished his work before bed, Kyle decided he wanted a new picture for his wallpaper of his iPod Touch.  He asked me if I would go to the kitchen and take a picture of the Lego Star Wars Death Star. I did and then he wanted me to instruct him on how to add the picture.  It was getting late, so I told him I would help him out the next day.

Kyle up close on ibooth Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle taking a pic of himself on iBooth

Well the next day came, and Kyle didn’t forget.  He texted me right after school while I was at work.  I was busy with email and told him to hold the thought.  In the meantime, he figured out how to add the picture.  Apple products are so easy a kid can pick it up and understand how to use it. (That was actually in the Steve Jobs book.)  We continued to text back and forth until I received an invite to Facetime.  What?  He didn’t know how to Facetime the day prior, but now he’s all over it.  You see, it was last Wednesday and I leave work a little early to pick him up for swimming lessons.  I was texting him, asking that he practice his instruments before I get there.  Well, evidently he wanted an audience again.  So I leaned my phone beside me so he could see me when the phone wasn’t facing the ceiling and I explained that I was going to address emails while he played.  He seemed fine with that and continued through his lessons.  It was kind of neat, communicating with Kyle, even though it was via phones.

Kyle made my days more enjoyable!  He even graced the office with his music, which bellowed from the tiny phone speakers.  Yep, unconventional gifts rock!  Giving Kyle the gift of music, games, communication, and handheld fun, in turn, gave me the gift of family communication and involvement!  Win-Win!

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