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

Communication Skills Need Some Work

Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.  ~Jim Rohn


Brenda Shaffer, Michael Fecik & me speaking at the 3rd Annual – Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel at Seton Hill University for Dr. Giunta.  Q & A Session!  11/12/13

Talking to Kyle yesterday on the phone, made me realize something, the kid has no verbal communication skills, at least not on the phone.  I know this is no revelation, but worth noting and addressing.   After all he is my pre-teen and has to learn to proper communication.

Face-to-face, Kyle is not a shy person, not in the slightest.  He has no qualms asking for assistance in stores or asking anyone, for anything to get what he wants at any time.

When family members or any adult figure speaks directly to him, asking about school or Christmas or some general topic of conversation, he usually just spouts out, ‘Good’ or something very brief, to the point and simple, with maybe a head nod.  I get that, he’s a kid and really doesn’t want to be participating in the conversation where he has no vested interest.  For when he does have a stake to the claim, he can rule the words to make himself and his purpose known.  So I never would peg Kyle as needing direction when speaking on the phone.  But it’s true!

Keep in mind we are too used to Kyle, and take him for who he is, which every child should be accepted!  But what I’m talking about, is coaching and assisting him throughout his journey of life, making him a better person for whatever his future endeavors might be.   Plus, let’s not forget sometimes his cryptic sentences drive me crazy!  This kid is twelve years old and his communication skills need to grow and mature with him.

Now back to the matter at hand, yesterday’s conversation.  I called him to see what he was doing, if he practiced his piano, how school was, you know the standard run of the mill questions.  Kyle initially said “Hi”.  Good we are off to a great start.  We might need to work on his influction and ease of his voice, but nevertheless, good.  Then after starting my conversation, trying to prompt some response from him, Kyle just said, “Ya, can you get me Saturday?”  As if he could care less about the questions and dismissed me, completely!  Immediately I retorted, “That’s great buddy, but how about ‘Hi Aunt Heather school was good.  I still have to practice my piano.  So I was thinking, would you mind picking me up on Saturday?'” As I reiterated a ‘normal’ conversation back to him he just made an ‘ok’ noise and was pretty dismissive as usual.

Then I said, “Kyle you are going to have to work on your verbal communication skills.  No more it’s all about you and what you want.  You need to participate in a nice conversation, Not one where I have to solve a riddle to understand it.”  Then, all I heard was “Ok” with a little chuckle.  He’s a smart kid, he knows what I’m talking about.


Yours truly, speaking at the 3rd Annual Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel for Seton Hill University. Talking about The Piper Corporation & Thrill of the Hunt. 11/12/13

I don’t get it, I really don’t?  Is it generational?  Is it his personality?  Is it just with my family?  Is it maturity?  Whatever it is, I don’t give a flying fig.  He is going to learn to correct his poor communication skills.  Kyle cannot think he can walk around speaking to people with only his agenda on his mind and a cryptic one at best.  Nope, not no my watch!

Seriously, he wasn’t always like that.  Or was he?  All I remember is this little two year old, who was just learning to speak (after getting his ears checked and the problems temporarily fixed) sitting in the backseat of my car, talking into his Finding Nemo toy phone.  He loved that thing.  I got it for him because he expressed an interest in phones, usually he had his eye on mine.  So I told him he could have one of his own that had lights and made noises.

One day we were driving and he was talking.  I mean carrying on a conversation.  I said, “Hey buddy who are you talking to?”  He said, talking into the phone as a real person was on the other end, “Hang on, Aunt Heather is talking to me.”  What?  Then he replied, “I’m talking to Aunt Nitti, what you want?”  Too cute!  All I could do was feel embarrassed I interrupted him and said, “O, sorry buddy, tell her I said hi and to call me later.”  That little munchkin turned back into the phone and said, “Ok, I’m back, Aiya said ‘Hi’ and to call her later.”  Then, to really play out the conversation how it would be in real life, he turned to me and said, “Aunt Nitti said, Ok”.  I was dying!  My heart melted!  That’s one of those moments when you wish the entire world was watching and enjoying it with you.  At least my family.


Me speaking at Seton Hill University for 3rd Annual Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel. Starting off with The Piper Corporation & Thrill of the Hunt! 11/12/13a

He continued on this “conversation” for a while, pausing every now-and-again to answer a question and to ask a question like, “When are you coming home?” or “What presents do you have for me?”.  Once he was tattling on me and said, “Ya Aunt Nitti, Aiya drives like a race car driver.”  What?  Even in his imagination world he tattled on me!  At the end of his conversations,  I always heard him say, “Ok, I’ll talk to you later, bye.”  before closing this bright blue plastic flip phone and putting the antenna down.   Too much!

Now I know the kid knows how to carry on a normal conversation, at least an imaginary one.  That’s a start!  So why doesn’t he?  Is is because he’s being lazy?  Or is too used to us and knows no matter what, we love him and will do anything for him so he cuts to the chase?  I can respect that, for I am too impatient with responses and I like to get to the point when I’m in a hurry.  Now that I’ve admitted my behavior, is Kyle like me?  Is he picking up my candor?  Yikes!  I better watch it!

However, the difference between my communication skills and his, besides years of experience is the quality.  I know how to carry on a conversation, I know how to give pleasantries, I know how to be “normal”, kind of.  I’m not that convinced with him, not just yet.  Until then, I think Mr. Kyle is going to get a lesson on phone etiquette until it sticks to his brain and falls out his mouth and becomes secondary to his communication skills.  After all, parents, or in my case Auntie has to be the life coaches for these children.  Kids don’t know what is not taught.  So I’ll take the time and usually the headache that accompanies these lessons, to teach him as best as I know how.  Not that Kyle has to be like me, not in the slightest, I want him to develop his own style, but there needs to be a foundation for him to build on.  Here we go!

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

It isn’t ever delicate to live.  ~Kay Ryan


Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

Two weekends ago, well actually that entire week, I was working in my yard.  Yes, the very same yard work I should have done in the spring, or even the summer and yet here I am, trying to get it done before winter sets in and hunting season starts.  Luckily, we’ve had a pretty mild fall.  We’ve even been blessed with nice temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s and overcast with some sun.  Perfect for outside work.

I’m glad I got my work done because as of today,  the snow rolled in.  Only a few inches but still a pleasant sight.  I love snow!

You see spring always seems to sneak up on me and then I miss the boat with respect to tending to the lawn.  Then summer rolls around and I don’t handle the heat and the sun too well.  Literally!  Being outside in the sun makes me sick to my stomach.  I get really bad headaches and let’s not forget about my sun sensitive skin.  I have to be pretty well covered and protected from the harmful rays at all hours of the day, especially in the summer.  And those summer months, I am usually busy with Thrill of the Hunt events.  So there you have it, back to fall work in the yard.

What needed done?  The usual, mowing and weeding and trimming, which I have elected to do about once a month now-a-days.  I’m sure my neighbors love that sight.  Actually, they should be thankful, for I make their lawns look perfect!

Last Thursday night, early Friday morning we had one heck of a windstorm roll through.  It resulted in a tree branch taking down a power-line, right down the road from my parents.  Guess what?  I couldn’t work on my company stuff nor my freelancing work, since my “office” is in the corner of their kitchen with my desktop and my external drives.  Don’t worry, I always have something to do.  No free day for me!


This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

On a side note, I purposely set up my “office” in my parents house, as opposed to my house, to get me out, dressed and moving.  I want to make sure I never get lazy, especially with The Piper Corporation.  So I force myself to travel to my work station.  It’s perfect actually, I have a great view of my Uncle’s farm and a view of Saint Vincent College out looking through the picture window in the kitchen.  The best office space ever!  Plus my office companions aren’t too bad either, Scooby, Seven and Storm.

I recruited Kyle to assist me on Saturday at my house, since my parents were still without electricity.  I took this as a sign from God, telling me to get in the yard and finish it up.  After all I couldn’t work on the computer.

Starting my day as soon as the sun rises, around 6:00 am, Kyle and I went to work.  Yes it was not light duty chores.  It was hauling mulch and river rock, pulling weeds and walking up and down my back steps around my landscaping.  Truly hard work even for a professional landscaper.  So how did Kyle fare?

Well, at first it was a big argument.  He didn’t want to do the mulch and was seriously exaggerating his motions in such a way, I made him carry the river rocks while I took over the mulch job.  I knew I could get it done faster, making better progress than Kyle.  Then, I caught him trying to do the job half way, cutting corners that sort of thing.  I was livid!  There are few things I really truly can’t stand and detest, beside smoking, and that’s laziness.  I just can’t understand making that choice to wimp out, especially on something that is benefiting oneself such as my house.


My backyard while we were just getting started… before the steps. c. 2009

After about an hour of me loosing my patience, yelling and Kyle dropping his attitude and getting acclimated to the job of the day, he really began to work.  And I mean he worked!  That kid was on fire!  Really after, we got moving and he started to get into a rhythm and saw progress, he was such a hard little worker.  He was even proud of himself saying, “Wow Aunt Heather I think I’m getting stronger with each rock!  Soon I’ll be even better in the weight room!”  What a cutie!  I had to concur with his reasoning, because he was right.  The more work he did, the stronger he was getting.

You see, for the next few weeks Kyle is in the weight room at school for gym class.  They are teaching him how to lift and such.  He seems to really like it.  Kyle even asked me, “Hey Aunt Heather, how much can you do on the leg press?”  Truly not remembering I said, “Probably around 100 pounds or so.  Why how much can you do?”  With a victorious and ornery grin, Kyle responded proudly with “I can leg press 240 pounds!”  Wow!  Holy smokes buddy!  That’s great!  I really was proud of him.  He is a strong little compact bugger!  He said only one other kid did more than him and he did 260 pounds.  Still all very impressive.

With the weight room talk, it gave Kyle another incentive to keep on truck’in.  He was great!  All the way up until it started to rain on us.  I was almost done with the mulch, when I turned around to see my little man with his hoodie up, soaking wet carrying buckets of river rock and looking defeated.  We had to leave soon anyway.  Kyle was serving mass at 6:00 pm that night.  After seeing the look on his face, I said, “Go jump in the shower, we’re done for today.”  Shear joy fell over him.  Not to mention a sense of accomplishment.  Kyle did remark, “Wow Aunt Heather it’s actually looking nice.  We got a lot done!”  Yes we did buddy, especially with all his hard work.


My backyard while in the progress of landscaping… ton of brush! c. 2009

As it turns out Kyle wasn’t done working, not by a long shot.  You see he had off of school on Monday for an in-service day.  So I took advantage of that fact and asked him to assist me again to try and finish the work once and for all.  Surprisingly, he was enthused to help me wrap up the yard.  That morning, we first helped my dad by stacking some wood before making our way to my dreaded lawn.

On another side note, sometime on Saturday I must have weeded out poison ivy and proceeded to scratch my face and my eye.  Yes my eye!  By Sunday, my face was all swollen, itchy and my eye looked like a big marshmallow.  Not believing in doing actual work on Sundays, I try to honor the Sabbath Day as much as possible, I took a few Benadryl pills and fell into a sleep coma.  By Monday, my eye was even worse and we had to make a pit stop at Med Express to get me on steroids again.  I really hate those things!

Yes, I worked like that with basically one eye since I could only see out of it with a sliver.  I figured, I would rather get in contact with the poison ivy again, now that I was on medication, rather than later when I was healed and had to go through this again.  Plus, I wanted to stay away from people with all my ugliness.  I even avoided the gym in the mornings.  But lucky for Kyle, I had no qualms about hanging around him.  I would even tease my little man by leaning in with my bulging eye and saying, “Go ahead and touch it.  Feel how squishy it is!”  He was grossed out and would squirm around me.  Eventually, we made a joke out of it saying “Don’t make me give you the stink eye.”  And then I would point my eye in his direction.  That cracked us both up! If you can’t laugh at yourself, then what’s the point in living.

While we were talking and working Kyle mentioned again about getting an apartment and buying land to build his house and huge fish tank on.  I said, “O buddy between me and your Aunt Nikki, we will probably have enough rental properties for you to live in so you don’t have to worry about it.”  Kyle took that as a sign that he will take my house.  It’s yours buddy, you earned it through sweat equity!

While wrapping up some of the work on Monday afternoon, Kyle started to comment about hard work and how hard our activity was.  Then, he started to get a bit sarcastic and threw out the attitude again.  He said, “This is suppose to be my day off from school and I’m not suppose to be doing work.”  Really?  Says who.  I retorted with, “What do you think most people do Kyle?  They work all week and do yard work in the evenings and weekends.  Welcome to reality.”  He had nothing to say on that note.

I get it, he was tired and not used to working that hard for that many days in a row.  I completely understood.  But I still won’t tolerate an attitude.

After that came the fury of Aunt Heather.  I asked Kyle to dump a couple of buckets of dirt up by my back fence in a mulch pile of leaves and branches.  Not wanting to walk up the hill, we both kind of laughed at the thought of making another trip there.  Finally, Kyle did what I asked and made the first trip, promising I’ll make the second.


No this was not in my yard! Me & the boys saw this while on one of our walks… I LOVE IT!!

When I made my trip, to help him out and show he is not doing all the hard work, I noticed he dumped the dirt right in the yard, not even coming close to the pile!  Fiery anger shot out of me and resulted in a lecture on laziness.  I wanted him to understand that he has to train himself now, NOT to be lazy and to NOT take shortcuts, for it will always bite him in the butt in the long run, especially in a professional environment.  I went off explaining how I trusted him to do a job and I expected it to be done right and not to have to redo it.  Then, I went into a tangent about how he doesn’t want the reputation of being a lazy kid.  And so on and so forth.

When teaching a child to NOT be lazy, you’re actually teaching them more than hard work, you’re teaching a sense of worth and self-accomplishment, good foundation structures that I fully believe in to create a solid character.

Okay, granted I was tired too and it was a long few days, plus with all the poison ivy irritating my skin, I’m sure my nerves where just a little bit sensitive.  He felt horrible and kicked it up a notch until he was out of steam.  Seriously, I haven’t seen a kid his age work that hard in forever!  I was really proud of him, and maybe I was a little too hard on my man.  But I wanted to make a point, that it’s not just about my yard.  I am training his character, the man he will hopefully grow to be.  The one I hope him to be, minus any laziness.  And you know what?  I believe he will get there.  It was only at that moment, he was being a kid and a tired human.

Thanks buddy for all your hard work!  You earned every muscle you worked out and you earned both movies and popcorn.

This past weekend I took Kyle to see Thor 2: The Dark World and I believe the second movie of his choice is The Hunger Games – Catching Fire.  I even told him he earned popcorn, which he gave me a victorious smile.  I love paying this kid in movies.  It makes for a well deserved date night.

I never thought to get finished pictures of the yard, so once the snow disappears I will take pictures and do a comparison.

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

Halloween? Not This Year

Acting is like a Halloween mask that you put on.  ~River Phoenix

Matt, me, Kim & Glen. What a crew! c.1996

This was the scariest of all Halloweens, combined!  Something happened that actually took my breath away and caused my heart to skip a few beats.  It was truly horrible!

What was my Halloween nightmare?   Kyle didn’t want to dress up!  The horror of it all!  He didn’t even want to go trick-or-treating!  What kid doesn’t want free candy?  I don’t even know an adult who wouldn’t pass up candy.  Granted, I know Kyle is in the seventh grade, and he is twelve years old, but to not participate in Halloween?  I am saddened.

It started a few months ago when I asked Kyle what he wanted to be for Halloween, not thinking he didn’t want to be apart of it.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Umm I don’t know.”  Basically, Kyle was blowing me off.  After all these years of Halloween planning and sewing and gluing and painting.  It’s over!

I knew the day would eventually come, but I didn’t mentally prepare myself.  If I was really smart and caught onto his procrastination and avoiding the topic when I mentioned Halloween costumes, I wouldn’t have been faced with my fear.  At the very least it wouldn’t have blindsided me.  Kyle is growing up and fast!  Actually, I had a backup plan for this occasion, but this scenario took me completely by surprise, I didn’t have time to react.  And now Halloween is upon us.


Cara Mia as Prince, Mike Howell as Charlie Brown & Melissa Lincoln as a nurse at Mr. Toads in Greensburg c. 1997

I guess there is always next year.  I did get to watch Sleepy Hallow, the one with Johnny Depp.  Out of all the Halloween characters and stories told from old to young, I love the story of the headless horseman the best.  My favorite!  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved any cartoon or show that involved Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman.

Anyway, what was my mystery plan?  Bagging, of course!  What is bagging you may ask?  It’s as simple as corning!  You know when you get field corn and throw it at passing cars and houses.  I know I’ve mentioned corning a time or two before, but I’ll reiterate.  Bagging is done usually by kids or young adults who want to participate in trick-or-treating but are frowned upon because they are too old.  Hence, bagging!  Really a genius way to keep the Halloween spirit for the older in number, yet young at heart.

To participate in said activity, one must get a brown paper bag, you know the kind they used to give out at grocery stores.  Then, one must decorate the bag and be clever with their Halloween message.  Example: Please feed the hungry ghosts.  or  Place all candy inside the bag. or  I’m a monster who’s afraid of the dark, feed me! and so on and so forth.  What doesn’t get you the candy is ‘I’ll kill you if you don’t give me your candy.’  That might land you a night in jail instead of an evening sorting candy and falling into chocolate bliss.  And profanity is never an appropriate option.  So yes, decorate your bag tastefully but have fun with the project.

Now what?  First, one must dress in ninja form.  Yes, all black to blend in with the shadows.  Wearing a stylish yet functional black beret can be an option, as well as black combat boots to handle the terrain and to avoid sprains.  Nothings worse than a injured bagger.  It holds up the entire group and does not make for an enjoyable Halloween experience.

How do you get candy in said bag?  Sneak up on porch with a light on, indicating they are armed with candy and place decorated brown paper bag in front of the door.  Be sure to take into account the swing of the door so your bag is not knocked over, yet make it easy enough for the gatekeeper of the candy to pass along their sugary gold.  Then, the part that causes the most excitement.  The moment of the adrenaline rush.  The moment you’ve been waiting for, ring the door bell and run!


Matt, me, Kim & Glen… what a bunch of freaks! But we had a blast! c. 1996

Run?  Really?  O YES!  Hide in the local bushes so you can monitor your carefully decorated bag.  This is where the professionals stand out from the amateurs.  A good bagger already has their hiding place mapped out prior to ringing the doorbell.   Tip number one, scout out the area before moving in.

Do you always get candy?  Well, no not really.  There have been times I’ve received toothpaste, scotch tape, fruit (which I’m fine with) and sometimes nothing at all.  There have been times the worst happens, they take your bag!  But again, if you are a professional, you would have come with a spare.  Tip number two, bring back up bags.

As you move along through the night, you might want to protect the treasures you have already collected.  After all, one house could result in total loss of booty.  Tip number three, bring a bag to place all goods in before bagging a house.  The most efficient would be a book bag, keeping your arms free and your treasures zipped in tight to your back.  One should always bag a house with an empty bag, in case of a capture, as previously stated above.

Holding a bag hostage or just plain stolen is a very real concern!  Think it won’t happen to you?  Guess again!  Never under estimate the old lady or perfect little family down the street.  They all have the ability to throw a monkey wrench in your Halloween candy collecting fun.  For all you know, behind that perfectly inviting front door could be a stack of confiscated bags from baggers of all walks of life.


Me as a geek for Halloween! I pulled it off pretty good! c. 1996

Another concern, that has happened a time or two.  The people in the house may chase you!  Yes, there have been times when bagging has cause high speed pursuit throughout the shadows of the night.  Tip number four, always have a meeting place in case of separation due to a crazed tracker.

Yes, this year I should have planned better and Kyle and I could have gone bagging.  The only problem, I’ve only ever heard of bagging in the Latrobe area, and that was years ago in my bagging days.  No one else will know what we were doing or what to do.  Maybe we should start up the tradition in surrounding locations.  We could place specific instructions on the bag until everyone became accustomed to the idea.  Or even better, I could create a direct mail campaign alerting the neighborhoods of the activity and how to appropriately address the bag left on the doorstep.  The wheels are turning!

Everyone should keep the spirit of Halloween alive and try bagging!  It really is a lot of fun!

Happy Halloween!

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

Kyle’s Very Own Big Bang Theory Gang

Sheldon: Why are you crying?
Penny: Because I’m stupid!
Sheldon: That’s no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad.  ~The Big Bang Theory


Kyle @LegoKidsFest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. He found his Star War friends! 12/1/12

Just about everyone loves the TV Show The Big Bang Theory, or at the very least has heard of the program.  Well, I am parked in that camp, as well as my sister and now-a-days, my mom and most of those I encounter.  For anyone who has been like Patrick Starfish, living under a rock, or who has just arrived to planet earth, The Big Bang Theory is about a group of four highly intelligent scientists who work together at the local university, two are roommates living across the hall from an inspiring actress.  The roommates,  Sheldon Cooper and Leornard Hofstadter are Caltech physicists; their co-workers Howard Wolowitz is an aerospace engineer and astronaut; and Rajesh Koothrappali, an astrophysicist.  Then there’s Penny, the always trying but never succeeding  actress who waitresses at the Cheesecake factory.  Yep, it’s about a group of geeks and Penny!

This year mark’s The Big Bang Theory’s seventh year.  I remember the first time I saw the show, the guys went to a Halloween party and Sheldon was dressed as the Doppler radar.  I almost died!  At that moment, I was hooked!

Why am I pouring my heart out about a television sitcom?  This past Saturday, I saw it unfold in real life.

Let me set the stage.  Yes my little man, who my sister and I always refereed to as a mix between Sheldon Cooper and Leonerd Hofstadter started showing interest in Dungeons and Dragons.  I’ve always made comparisons between Kyle and Leonard and Sheldon Food Has Many Tastes.  Recently, out little man was on a mission for the complete fantasy game and earned enough money to purchase one of the D & D boardgames.  Kyle has always loved the sci-fi type of movies and shows, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  He’s been a Star Wars freak since I can remember, a Lord of the Rings fan, a Legoman and list goes on and on.  Not that I disagree with any of these, but Kyle, like others of his genetic makeup, who have been labeled geek status, takes these interests to a whole different level of obsession and experience.  After all, Kyle was the one who wanted to learn Elvish and looked it up to start and believed it would be too cool to know.  I might have had a hand in his interests, after all I was the one who bought him his first comic books, but on my defense I thought it was a great intro to reading books.  He loved them.  My sister also had a big influence too!

big_bang_theory_Logo Aunt Heather PiperWhat happened this past Saturday that gave me this epiphany?  After our Witches Brew Scavenger Hunt at North Park Saturday morning, which turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, Kyle wanted me to drop him off at his friend Duncan’s house.  Great!  Then, I was to retrieve him later on that day to hang for the rest of the weekend.  On a side note, I love Kyle interacting with his friends, he doesn’t do much of it, so when the opportunity arises, I am all for it!

Prior to Saturday, Kyle and I were making arrangements, trying to plan out times and such.  As I was talking to him on the phone, he was referring to his friend.  For the life of me I could not understand what the boy’s name was.  Kyle still has this very young child voice on the phone.  Even though he’s twelve, he sounds very much like a five year old.  He speaks very articulately just squeaky like a kid.  So as we were laying out the plans, I didn’t understand the name he was saying.  Deacon? Bacon?  Kyle was just laughing at my lack of understanding until he said, “Duncan, like Donuts.”  I died!  I said, “O, Duncan!”  We were both giggling.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the name Duncan, a very old Scottish or English name, but at that particular moment Kyle and I were being Beavis and Butthead.  When I was talking, I kept throwing the name Duncan to see how many times I could say it in a sentence.  Ya, maturity runs very thin in the Piper line.


Kyle @LegoKidsFest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Yep he hit up the story for more Legos! The Lord of the Rings naturally… 12/1/12

On another side note, I saw the contact Kyle placed in his phone for Duncan.  He spelled it Dunkin, just like the donut!  I couldn’t believe it.  Laughing at his mistake I asked Kyle, “Is that how he spells his name?”  Kyle said, “I really don’t know.”  Trying to catch my breath and already knowing the answer, I said, “Buddy, I’m pretty certain he wasn’t named after a donut joint.  I think you have the spelling wrong, you might want to fix that.”  Kyle, usually assuming he is right (just like my sister) said, “Well, how do you know how to spell his name?”, as if I’m just a plain idiot wrong.  What a stinker!  Kyle must have asked about the spelling of the kids forename, because later he confirmed I was indeed correct.

Upon our completion of the Thrill of the Hunt Witches Brew Scavenger Hunt, Kyle and I headed towards Duncan’s house.  Naturally, I was not going to leave  my little nephew with complete strangers, so I followed Kyle up onto the porch to introduce myself.  Kyle was not happy about that, but I wanted to meet one of the parents and of course, Duncan!  As my little short Leonerd Hofstadter climbed the porch steps with his Dungeons and Dragons game tucked securely under his arm and his iPod in pocket (containing a list of games), out pops a tall thin Sheldon Cooper from the front door.  I was slightly taken aback and I couldn’t help but grin.

After meeting the dad, who seemed very nice and I gave him my digits in case of an emergency or issue, I left Kyle for a day of fun.  Once making my way to my car, I busted out laughing.  I had to share this realization of what just unfolded, with someone.  Who?  My sister!  She would totally understand, even if she never met Duncan.  Nicole shared in my vision and laughed when I outlined the scene.  She told me “Don’t pick on our little guy Aunt Heather!”, as she laughed along.

While reiterating the story with my mom, because you know I wouldn’t let it drop (dad would have never understood) I said, “I hope he finds his Howard and Raj, then they have their Halloween costumes set for next year!”

I love my little geek!  If he does turn into the real life The Big Bang Theory, I couldn’t be happier for him.  Kyle is who he is, and I hope he always remains that way and never compromises his principles and his true nature.  Plus, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Looks like I’m learning to play Dungeons and Dragons.  I even told Kyle we will go larping!  Bazinga!

big-bang-theory-bazinga-logo-Aunt Heather Piper

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Smells of the Past, Missing You Ryan!

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.  ~Helen Keller


Ryan playing with a toy truck… look at those boney legs! 1980s

I’ve said it countless times, yet it seriously does seem like it was just yesterday when Ryan moved out of our lives and moved permanently in with our Heavenly Father.  For him, great move!  For us, not so much!

How long has it been?  As of today, twelve very long yet short years.  He would have been 36 years old.

Among all the hustle and bustle of life, I do like to take a few minutes and remember Ryan, not that a day goes by when I don’t think of my little brother.  I’ll admit, acknowledging his birthday is easier than the anniversary of his death, but it’s an inevitable part of my life, as well as my family’s.

They say smell and scents are the most powerful memory triggers.  I concur!  Recently, dad had me take the gas tank when I went to fill up my car.  He wanted to get the allotted gallons of gasoline available with their Giant Eagle Perks Card.  Naturally, it’s not that easy and I spilled the gas jug in the back of my car.  Luckily, I had not one, but two blankets under the unstable plastic jug full of potent liquid.


Ryan trying out Nicole’s new bike. Casey is on the right. c. 1980

The smell in the car only lasted about a day, until the fumes evaporated.  But I will admit as I was cruising along, the smell brought me back to Ryan.  You see he did the same thing!  Except he wasn’t as lucky.  His trunk and the inside of the car had matching odors that seemed to last FOREVER!  How do I know?  Because for some reason, around that time I needed Ryan to take me to and from work.  So yes, I had to sit in the car with my head hanging out the window like a dog, just to catch some fresh air.  I’m sure I totally exaggerated it at the time, but Ryan got a kick out of me.  Well, maybe not, but he tolerated my silly behavior.

Eventually, someone told me about this carbon type of bag that you place in such an environment to absorb the smell.  Ryan always maintained my cars, cut the rotors when needed, replaced the brakes, changed the oil,  and the list goes on and on.  He would never take any money from me, so when an opportunity arose to get him the perfect gift, I jumped at the chance!  This carbon bag was pretty cool, it actually worked!  Once the smell infiltrated and was captured in the carbon bean bag, it was to be placed in direct sunlight to eliminate the order.  Really a nifty invention!

As I drove around, memories of that time came back to me.  Not the most heartfelt story, but to me all memories of Ryan tug at my heartstrings.  No matter if they were fond or foul memories, they are all near and dear to me.


Ryan fishing in Montana, when he traveled with Jim, Casey & Joel. c.1989

On a side note, I didn’t think to lay out the gasoline soaked blanket in the sunlight to evaporate the fumes before washing it.  Nope, not me, I immediately placed the saturated blanket in mom’s washer when I got back to their house to drop off the culprit gas tank, thinking I got it in good time.  Well, what I didn’t anticipate was the aroma de gasoline was going to set up camp in the washer and leave a little trace on every piece of clothing it encountered.  Not a pretty sight or smell, but eventually it worked its way out, and all is good now.

This would have been one of those situations Ryan would have rolled his eyes at me, knowing better, and just snickered to himself.  Heck, he probably would have called me on it, saying something along the lines of “Idiot” or “Really Smart!”, or “Why didn’t you think first?”.  Yep, that was Ryan!  I would have said the same thing if the roles were reversed.

When the day is done, we were all a very tight and close family, willing to do anything for each other.  Kyle has very much joined those ranks.  He is not only my nephew, but he has started to turn into my brother too.  Ryan would have loved to do the things I am doing with Kyle, but I guess he’s enjoying our activities and interaction from a different seat.

I can’t wait to join Ryan and have him as a roommate again!  Save a seat for me Ryan!

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

An Ice-Cream Cone Story

A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained.  ~Ruth K. Westheimer


A close-up of my little man! He was about 3 years old. What a cutie!! c. 2004

Kyle, what else can I say?  He is too much, and sometimes the perfect reminder of stories past.  Yesterday, while taking him to his piano lessons, we stopped at PetCo first to pick up The World’s Best Cat Litter.  On a side note, it truly is the world’s best cat litter!  My sister introduced me to it a few years ago, and I must say, well worth the money.

Anyway, for some reason Kyle brought up ice-cream and he reminded me of the ice-cream cone story.  In fact, Kyle relives that story a lot!  Every time we get ice-cream, pass an ice-cream joint or like yesterday, out of no where mention the ice-cream cone incidence.

What is this great memorable story you may ask?  I know I’ve mentioned it a time or two, but I guess it’s worth highlighting again today.  After all it is Friday!

Kyle is now twelve, so I’m going back quite a few years when he was probably around four or five, maybe even three.  Yesterday Kyle told me he was four when it happened, so I’ll go with that.  The kid claims he has a horrible memory.  O no!  I beg to differ.  Kyle remembers EVERYTHING!  He really does, especially situations in which he got himself in serious trouble and those that really made him laugh.  He remembers ALL!

Back to the story at hand.  It all started one hot summer day.  Kyle and I decided to stop at the local Dairy Queen to pick up ice-cream for the family.  It was a scorcher, so we were trying to move quickly to get the frozen treats back before they became a mass of melted sweet milk substance.  At that time, Kyle only ever ordered his usual, ice-cream cone with rainbow sprinkles.  I’m not sure if this was the point in life when he ventured out and would eat the twist, or if it was strictly vanilla, but regardless it was an ice-cream cone.

I need to deviate slightly again to really set the story.  I’m not really meticulous about much, but there are certain things that get to me.  Once happens to be the inside of my car.  I like it clean and tidy, not that it always remains that way.  It may never always be sparkling perfect, but there is never extra  junk, trash or messes in my car.  Now the outside usually looks like I went off-roading, but not the inside.  Having Kyle as much as I have over the years, he knows this about me.  He sometimes tries to push my buttons, even to this day, by stuffing tissues, garbage or what have you, in the side of the door, or behind the seat.  I hate that, even though it is sometimes funny.  Just, last week I found his dirty socks stuffed in the door pocket.  That kid!  Now back to the ice-cream.

Naturally, the place was hopping.  After we stood what seemed like forever in the heat, we got the goods and scooted out.  As I always did and still do to this day, I said, “Don’t get any ice-cream on the seats.”  While Kyle licked his mountain of melting frozen goodness, he nodded and proceed to load himself in the backseat, with a little assistance from me, still being in his booster seat at that time.  He graduated to the window seat, as opposed to the center backseat position.  So maybe Kyle was right he was around four years old.

We loaded up the car and we were off.  Another thing about me, is I like to drive with the windows down.  Yes, no matter how hot or cold it is, I love the fresh air circulating.  So maintaining former habits, I dropped all four windows before pulling out and heading up the highway.  Looking back on it now, I guess air conditioning would have eliminated the entire story, but then again we wouldn’t have the story to laugh about for years to come.

As I was rushing up the highway, I heard Kyle say, “Umm O no… Aiya?”  Without turning around, remaining focused on my mission of getting our ice-cream back while it was still considered ice-cream, I halfheartedly replied, “What buddy?”  With a very nervous and unsure retort Kyle said, “Umm… Aiya, look!”  Kind of rolling my eyes as if what could possibly be the matter and what could’ve happened in the few minutes I had my eyes off of Kyle, I turned my head just give him a satisfactory glance, and then I saw what he was warning me of.


Kyle getting ready to really enjoy his ice-cream cone.. & get it ALL over him! 9/2012

Kyle had ice-cream all over his face, which I knew I would happen, but the rest was a surprise to me.  There sat Kyle, looking like a deer in headlights, holding onto his ice-cream cone while rivers of melted goodness along with colored sprinkles ran down towards his hands, as he was trying to vacuum them up.  To his right, ice-cream was splattered ALL over the seat belt, the seat, the window, EVERYWHERE.  It was even along the outside of the car just like I was shot with a paintball gun in rainbow sprinkles!  Apparently, accelerating with the windows down, while holding a very runny ice-cream cone, in the summer heat, causes the ice-cream to take flight and land perfectly all over the car.

I could tell by the look on Kyle’s face, he thought he was in trouble, even though there was nothing he could have done about it.  One look and I busted out laughing.  First of all ,he was just too cute sitting there in that mess and secondly it was my fault for not using the air-conditioner.  After realizing that I found complete and uncontrollable humor in the sticky situation, Kyle began to bust out in laughter too.  It really was funny!  Initially, all I could say was, “What on earth?”

Since we were only a few miles to our final destination and I didn’t have the cleaning supplies to tackle this mess, I told Kyle to hold tight and I’ll deal with it later.  We both laughed and giggled the entire way back.

Once we arrived at the house, Kyle couldn’t wait to tell his Gigi and pappy about our little sweet adventure.   That is, after he striped off his ice-cream covered cloths.  Kyle’s thing, he doesn’t like to be sticky or have his cloths wet.  He finished the remainder of his ice-cream cone in the comforts of the living-room in his underoos, while I eventually made my way back out into the heat to scrub down the car.  I never did get all the ice-cream out, but at that point, I didn’t care much.   I had a half a mind to send Scooby in there to clean up the mess.

Yep, that was a day neither one of us could ever forget and it seems to be a very fond memory of Kyle’s!  I’m glad I was there to experience it with him.  That mess was totally worth it!

Below is a video of Kyle eating an ice-cream cone from last year.  He was cracking me up!  He even brought up the ice-cream cone story.


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

Another Milestone – 7th Grade

Some may try and tell us that this is the end of an era.  But what they overlook is that in America, every day is a new beginning, and every sunset is merely the latest milestone on a voyage that never ends.  For this is the land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.  Emerson was right:  America is the land of tomorrow.  ~Ronald Reagan


Kyle’s 1st Birthday. Great milestone with me & pappy! 2002

Watching Kyle grow up and being an integral part of his life has been a delight.  I mean that with all sincerity.  Some milestones have been easier to take over others.  Example, when Kyle graduated from diapers to the potty.  Score!  That was time to celebrate!  However, this most recent milestone is bittersweet, the seventh grade.

Kyle is in the junior high school!  He is twelve and he is a preteen.  Where has the time gone?  In conjunction with this milestone, we also hit another, independence.  Yes, for the last couple of years Kyle has been showing baby steps towards maturing and showing subtle hints of  independence, but this one threw me off guard.  Every year since Kyle was in kindergarten, actually I think preschool, I have watched him get on the bus.  So naturally I thought this year will be no different.  To be honest, I thought this might be the last year, of course I believe I’ve said that about the previous year too.  Regardless, I was planning on hanging out with him early in the morning and seeing him off to the seventh grade.

Boy was I wrong!  I asked Kyle what time the bus was picking him up and what time I should be there.  He just kind of gave me an awkward grunt, the kind you do when you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings yet you’re not backing down of your plan of action.  He said, “Umm that’s ok Aunt Heather, I’m good.”  What?  That’s what I say to someone when I don’t want to say ‘no’ yet say ‘no’!  It was just used on me?


My little man, trying out his new walking technique at the Planinsek Pavilion. 2003

Well, that was early on this past weekend.  I thought, surely he would think this through and change his mind.  Naturally, not letting the topic go, I said, “You sure buddy you don’t want me to be there to watch you on your first day of school?”  Then, I went into a dissertation of how his Aunt Nikki, his Gigi and me all paid for him to go to preschool for two years.  And how I’ve been a driving force for him and his grades, as well as my family, for all these years.  I also stated that it’s been tradition for me to be there to see him off for his first day of school.  I even tried to assure him that I would stand a side and not be an embarrassment.  He probably didn’t believe that, even though I meant it to the best of my ability.

Nope, Kyle would not budge.  All he replied was, “Umm that’s ok, I’m good.”  Yep, Kyle made a decision and was sticking to it.   That I can respect.  How can I not, when he is showing that he is maturing and wants to be responsible for himsel?.  Ok, buddy I get it, kinda.

But again let’s be real, I’m his Aunt Heather and the understanding is in the details.  I went down the checklist, “Who’s getting you up?”  Himself.  “Who’s seeing you onto the bus?”  Himself.  “Who’s getting you breakfast?”  He said that he can get something at the school, which I advised him to grab a banana, apple or make himself at least cereal to ensure he has something in his tummy.  That is the last thing he needs, to be hungry all the way till lunch!  Everyone knows that wouldn’t fly with me!  Not a good way to start off the day, skipping out on fueling up the body.  Kyle, being Kyle, also had to work out the details as to not break any rules or get in trouble with the breakfast situation.  He commented, “Ya I guess I can eat on the bus to school, I don’t think the bus driver cares.  I can just toss my peel out the window.  Or I can eat some of pappy’s ribs!”  That gave me a chuckle!  Only Kyle worries about such small details.  Helping to put his mind at ease, I said “Just pitch your peel in a trash can in school.  If you choose to eat the ribs that will help you go till lunch, not a bad idea!”  He thought about that and was fine with my advice.  Then the ultimate question, “Who’s planning out your outfit?”  Himself!  Now that scares me more than anything.  As much as I pride myself on my ability to dress cute, stylish and couture, Kyle does not have that knack nor does he care.  Even dad, who is strictly a jeans, under shirt and plaid shirt type of guy, always has his top tucked in, belt on and never dresses sloppy.  Kyle on the other hand, has a different style to himself all together.  One I have yet to fathom!

Maybe that will be Kyle’s next milestone.  Seriously, I can’t wait for that one!

Regardless, Kyle has a full schedule already, going into advance math, taking a language, hope it’s French, and whatever else the day brings.  I’m sure Kyle will have a great first day of school, after all he is equipped with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King book to keep him entertained throughout the downtime.  I hope to see many more milestones from Kyle!  He is a bright and caring young man with a future of possibilities.

Milestones have their place in life.  Even if they appear to be initially bad, there is always something good in them, a lesson or a pathway made for more milestones.  I guess I just need to be here to help him through any rocky paths and guide him in the right direction.  Love you buddy!  Enjoy seventh grade!

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

Together Alone – Movie Night

The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.  ~Albert Camus


Kyle is in that ‘I play with Legos & I love my Pikachu helmet’ yet he is seeking freedom & his own choices. Lynch Field Greensburg, Pa 2012

On Friday, Kyle decided he wanted to go to the movies.  He said, “It’s a perfect day for the movies, isn’t it Aunt Heather?”  It wasn’t that hot, but it was muggy and humid, raining off and on all day long.  It was one of those days, a perfect time to spend sitting in a dry, dark, air-conditioned movie theater, at least that’s what I was told.  Yes buddy, you’ve got the ticket!

Movie of choice?  Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, since Kyle was a fan of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, he wanted to see the next series in the novel set.  Kyle made his choice with such conviction and without thought, I immediately knew he was planning on making that suggestion all day.  Well, I was wrong!  According to Aunt Nikki, Kyle was talking about that movie when he saw the trailer during ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun.’  I should have known.

OK, I’ll bite.  I asked Kyle to look up the movie times, as well as what other movies were playing, just so I could make the best choice.  His answer?  “Umm that’s really about it.”  Doubt it, but I’ll play along because I too wanted to see the movie.

After eating dinner with my parents we got ready to embark on a new adventure that includes Greek gods and popcorn.  Once we got there, I changed my mind.  Seeing the list of movies playing, I remembered what I wanted to see with Kyle, Wolverine!  After making my argument, with all the enthusiasm I could muster, I was denied.  Kyle wouldn’t even hear of it, even thought he really wanted to see Wolverine too.  Kyle had it in his head we were going to see Percy Jackson: Sea Monsters and that was that!  Gotta respect someone who can make a solid decision in the face of choices and stick to his guns.

How did I get into this position in the first place? I wasn’t planning on going to the movies, but what the heck, I missed Kyle and spending any time with him is a good time.  So into the movie theater we marched.

X-Men-Origins-Wolverine-Aunt Heather PiperAs we made our way to our seats, we began a reoccurring argument, ‘Where are we going to sit?’  I prefer sitting more up high towards the back and Kyle insists on sitting low and close.  The same crossroads we have come to since I can remember.  Usually I put my foot down and make Kyle’s choice for him and that’s that.  Usually.

This time was no exception, with an exception.  Typical Kyle kept giving me a thousand questions on why we couldn’t move closer.  “Just two rows closer Aunt Heather!”  I wouldn’t budge, even though I could have enjoyed the movie equally as much, but I was being stubborn.  Kyle wouldn’t let it go and kept whining.  So I thought I’d fix his wagon by saying, “Go!  You want to sit down there, then move your seat and sit by yourself.”  To be honest, I was calling his bluff.  Kyle doesn’t like doing anything alone, especially sitting by himself in the dark.

So you can imagine my surprise when he said with confidence and complete politeness, “Ok Aunt Heather, I’ll be right there.”  As he pointed two rows right in front of me.   What?  Really?  Na!  I thought he was calling MY bluff.  Then, he said to entice me with a little dash of attitude, “But I’m taking the popcorn!”  And I countered his comment with “Well, then I’m staying here and I’m keeping the water.”

And there you have it.  Two of the most stubborn people who greatly enjoy each others company, hanging out alone, with each other.  I must admit I watched him, just to make sure he was alright and to see if he would look back.  Never did!  And no one happen to sit beside him.  It actually broke my heart to see him by himself, but he made the decision and now he has live with it, or choose to change it.

Lightning-Thief-percy-jackson-and-the-olympians-Aunt Heather PiperAt first I was kind of mad, to be honest, I was furious because I like watching previews with Kyle and then we plan our next movie run.  Not this time.  Then, as I watched his crew cut head jet out over the top of the seat, sitting there all by himself, with his full bag of popcorn, I felt kind of bad.  But Kyle is getting older and he has every right to make decisions for himself.  Let him experience the unknown, gain his freedom and decision making, particularly when he’s within arms reach of me and supervised.

I too was following Kyle’s lead.  I made a decision and I was sticking to it.  As the old saying goes, if you truly love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours.  If not, then it was never meant to be.  Something along those lines.  Not that, that exactly fits this scenario, but it did run through my head.

Keeping one eye on the movie and one eye on Kyle, especially when intense parts of the movie projected in our faces.  Kyle gets so tense and stressed with high action, high anticipation scenes.  I kept my eyes peeled on the little package, just to make sure he didn’t need me.  He never did!  At least, I didn’t see any physical signs of distress.  Seriously, I thought as the movie started, Kyle would just come back, nope!  Total stubbornness.  Then I thought, he would want some water so he would come back, or at the very least get the bottle of water.  Nope!  Total stubbornness.  To be honest, I wished any scenario would have panned out, but the night was not completely written by me.  So I waited with patience.

As the movie moved forward my anger turned into longing and then appreciation.  It’s funny how God works, He showed me to subside my anger at Kyle for seeking a little bit of freedom and wanting to call his own shots.  I really missed Kyle, even though he was only two rows ahead of me, within eye and ear shot.  My heart was saddened.

Percy-Jackson-Sea-of-Monsters-Aunt Heather Piper.jpgDuring the movie, I noticed I caught myself leaning where Kyle was initially sitting to whisper to him and share in the movie, but alas, he was two rows too far away.  My heart melted a little bit more.

Just as the movie ended, Kyle jumped up and ran back to his old seat!  I couldn’t have been happier!  I forgot how mad I was that I brought him to the movies with me, and I ended up watching it alone.  Not that I care to sit by myself in the movies, because I don’t, only if I came by myself and not with someone.  I forgot how mad I was when he was arguing with me and giving me his dissertation on the perspective of the screen because of the added two rows.  I forgot he took the entire bag of popcorn!  Nope, everything was good again.  Kyle was sitting right beside me sporting a big smile on his face and having a look in his eyes like he missed me too.  He even saved almost all of his popcorn!  Kyle didn’t even eat his buttery snack that he has to insist on getting every single time.  On the flip side, I didn’t drink the water either because I figured he’d want it.

On a side note, no one is ever allowed to eat the popcorn until the movie starts.  Yes it’s one of those irritating practices Kyle is compulsive about.  Not me, if the popcorn can be reached by my fingers, I’ll eat it, movie or no movie.  Not Kyle, he is very particular about his popcorn eating habits and we are instructed to follow suit.

While the credits rolled we just sat there in the dark and made up for lost time.  He both talked about the movie and ate the popcorn and drank the water.  We were the Aunt Heather and Kyle team again!

That might have been the worst, yet best movie experience ever!  Experiences are never regrettable, especially if you learn something, but I hope we don’t repeat it.  Although I’m not putting money on it.

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

Memories Sewn Into a Quilt

Memory is a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~Kevin Arnold


Kyle sitting on his bed in his room (Ryan’s old room) with the quilt I made him out of Ryan T-shirts & flannels 2002

You know it’s funny how time flies.  It might sound cliché, but it’s so very true.  I can’t believe Kyle will be twelve years old in seven days, July 30, 2001!  I was there when he was born and I pushed his dad out of the way to let me hold my perfect little nephew.  True story.  I really wanted to hold the baby and Ryan said, “I want to hold him.”  Followed by me working the bundle into my arms and Ryan giving me his ornery grin.  I think it was more of joy and happiness than irritation, but Ryan gave in to let me hang with my future buddy.

Over the years, even long before the birth or our little man “stuff” seems to get collected.  Sometimes you’re not sure why you have all this “stuff” and sometimes you know very well why it’s kept, for simple sentimental reasons.  Regardless, that “stuff” does carry a bit of history with it and me being a history buff, I love to preserve history.

Ryan passed away on October 23, 2001.  Naturally, his “stuff” was kind of pushed into closets and stacked in corners.  No one really wanted to deal with it at the moment, or even months later.  Some of the piles included Ryan’s cloths, mostly his T-shirts and flannels, the staple of his wardrobe.

The majority of his attire was purchased by yours truly as gifts for Ryan.  Every time he changed the oil in my car, rotated the tires, cut the rotors, changed the windshield wipers, (the list goes on and on), I would repay him with cloths, since Ryan never accepted money from me.  Never!  It was a win win because Ryan didn’t really purchase himself cloths,.  So I took it upon myself to dress him in exchange for all is work.  He would graciously accept the articles of clothing, especially the jeans.


Tight shot of Kyle’s quilt, while it was being made. Those are all of Ryan’s T-shirts & flannels! 2002

You see Ryan was a tall lean beanpole, a strong one at that, still thin.  His jeans, which had to be Levi’s, needed to measure 29 x 34.  Do you know how hard it was to find those?  So every time I was in the store, I would raid the men’s jeans department in search for Ryan’s jeans.  This saved him the trouble of trying to find them himself,  a real scavenger hunt!

Yes, so all my shopping for Ryan, eventually made their way to untouched sad piles of fabric with an unknown future.  No matter how simple it may sound, those pieces of clothing showed their history and was a part of Ryan, every stain, every tear, every wrinkle, every shirt logo.   I mean, the shirts literally showed Ryan’s likes and interests, almost like they were a living ghost of Ryan laid before our eyes.  Some of the T-shirts were so worn out you could tell they were his favorites.  Now what?  What do I do those these simple treasures?


I had a lot of help with the final assembly of this massive quilt. Holly (Quilts by Reese) is in the lower right corner with her back turned, hard at work! Her soon to be husband to her right. 2002

Over the months of healing after Ryan’s passing, I held onto these small memories, which I had no idea what to do with.  I mean, I wasn’t going to wear them, but on the other hand it would have broken my heart to give them away or worse, trash them.  What to do?  What to do?   Then, my friend Christina, yes the same one I would run around like a bee and press cloths with our bums, (Gotta Dance!)  came to me and presented the best idea I have EVER heard!  She said, “I know what you can do with your brothers cloths!  Turn them into a quilt!”  Brilliant!!  Sincerely, the presented solution was like gold to my ears and for a brief moment, I remembered how to be happy.   Joy filled me and I couldn’t wait to share this revelation with my family.  I knew they were going to love the idea as much as I did.  And you know what?  They DID!

At the time, I don’t think Christina knew what that idea meant to me and my family.  Being in a state of loss, confusion and grief, any small ray of light was most welcome and needed!  Now, where to begin?  You see I never made a quilt before.  In fact, at the time I didn’t even have a sewing machine.


Kyle playing on the pillow I made him out of the extra fabric from the curtains I made, sitting next to the quilt made out of his dad’s T-shirts & flannels, given for his 1st birthday. 2002

Problem solved.  That Christmas my family bought me a sewing machine.  Like I said, they were excited about the future quilt.  Now I have the equipment, what do I do with it?

Over the years, I’ve sewn Halloween costumes, hemmed pants, and such, but never a blanket and certainly not a quilt.  Well, me being me, I decided to take on the challenge and make it my spring project.  It was now a mission to complete it and give it to Kyle for his first birthday.

It took me months to cut everything out.  On a side note, to actually begin cutting into these priceless T-shirts almost made me sick, but it needed to be done to get to the final goal.  Yet, it was hard.  Once I decide how I wanted the T-shirts laid out and how I wanted to incorporate the flannel shirts, then I painstakingly sowed each piece to the next to create smaller shapes.  Then, those smaller shapes turned into larger shapes until it started resembling a quilt.


Kyle’s full quilt, gave it to him for his 1st birthday. Loved how it turned out! Kyle’s dad’s T-shirts & flannels. 2002

All along the way I will admit, it became very therapeutic.  Sitting there by myself sewing for hours, holding onto pieces of Ryan actually made me feel better.  I’m not sure if it’s because I had such an intimate relationship with some of those shirts beforehand, or I was able to put my self in a different mindset, but the hard work gave me hope that things will be fine.  Never better, just different and manageable, and more importantly Ryan would never be forgotten.  Similar to writing in my blog.  Still neither are like holding Ryan’s son, the closest most dearest part of Ryan we still have.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this perceived small project turned into a king size quilt!  Yes I didn’t have the heart to omit certain T-shirts, they were all so dear to Ryan.  To be honest, the final quit was actually larger than a king size.  On another note, I didn’t know that until I was pretty much done.  I kind of kept going and going, deep in thought until I reached the final edges of the quilt.


Holsters, Kyle’s Aunt Hot Dogs, playing with a 6 month old Kyle. 1/2002

Throughout the process, many of my friends helped me with the assembly of the quilt and supplied their opinions and advice, especially my friend Holly (Holsters).  Ironically, she now sews quilts, specializing in T-shirt quilts, as a side job.  Her quilts are far more superior than my creation.  Maybe I should have let her help more with my project.  She really has a talent with quilting, check her creations out on Facebook Quilts by Reese.  Her quilts are even sold internationally!

The quilt was by all means not perfect, not in the slightest, but that blanket was made with all my LOVE!  It was made to give a piece of my brother to his son for his first birthday.  It was made to preserve Ryan in a visual piece for the entire family to appreciate.

During the duration of the assembly, my place looked like a sweat shop. Literally!  Sitting on a stool in front of my sewing machine for hours upon hours, trying to get all the puzzle pieces together to resemble a bed covering, while maintaining the integrity of the fabric, was not an easy task.  I had stacks upon stacks of cut fabric and piles of miscellaneous remnants.  What drove me?  Kyle’s birthday deadline.

To give me an extra challenge, the end of May that year, I went on a cruise with a bunch of friends and than two weeks before Kyle’s birthday, I was in Korea.  Yes, I was competing in the World Haidong Gumdo Championships (samurai sword).  As part of my very memorable trip, I also trained and toured sections of the peninsula.  Great experience, even though I was completely off the grid and missing my little man so much!


Close up of Kyle’s quilt that I made for his 1st Birthday out of his dad’s T-shirts & flannels. 2002

Unfortunately, because of the timing of my Korean trip, I couldn’t give the long anticipated gift to Kyle on his actual birthday.  Believe it or not, that broke my heart, even though I know he would never know or care.  If I’m recalling correctly, I think I got home the day after his official birthday, but as soon as I got off of the plane and mom picked me up, we took a detour to head straight to see Kyle before heading home.  Even before I stopped to get some American food back in my system, we made a beeline to see my little man, who was already a year old.  Officially I gave him the quilt that weekend.

Kyle’s very first birthday gift from me was a homemade king sized quit, made from my very own fingers from his dad’s wardrobe.  I guess in a way, the blanket was from his dad too!

I’m really blessed to have gone through this exercise of making a quilt.  I’ve never made one since and I never plan on it.  After all, I have Quilts by Reese to do that!  But I certainly do cherish the work I put into it and appreciate the opportunity to clear my mind.  Plus, I hope one day, Kyle will realize just how much he meant to me from day one, for me go through all that trouble and effort to make him a quilt straight from his dad, for his very first birthday.  In a way, that blanket started the tradition of giving Kyle unconventional gifts!

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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Heather?

She isn’t my mother.
She isn’t my sister.
She’s one of the family
Who’s more like a friend.
She has fun with me,
laughs with me,
listens to me, encourages me.
She spends time with me,
believes in me,
shares with me, cheers for me.
She understands me like a mother.
She’s there for me like a sister.
And perhaps best of all –
she loves me like a friend. ~Kimberly Rinchart


Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Picnic

My little man, what else can I say? I’ve reviewed how Kyle resembles my brother – his dad, my sister – his Aunt Nikki, my dad – his pappy, and my mom – his Gigi. There are a lot of cross over similarities and yet there are some traits that are distinctly a particular person.

Does Kyle resemble me at all? He sure does! Yes it’s true, Kyle is more of the engineering mind, but he is also a rare bread, complete with innovation, a strong personality, social skills and a  business visionary.

Obviously, Kyle’s physical traits don’t really resemble mine much. I will admit we do have the same type of skin, at least at this point in his life.  Also our noses.  We both have the perfect button noses.  A trait I’ve claimed as ours.  As for all other physical traits, you can’t even tell he’s related to me, our body types are different.  We don’t stand the same, or walk the same, and our outward presentations are not similar, not in the slightest.  If we talk about personality traits, now we’re getting somewhere!

As a baby just learning to walk, Kyle was always very structured.  What I mean is that everything had to be perfectly aligned.  Perfectly!  Kyle loved his Matchbox Cars, literally having hundreds of them. He would take the cars out one-by-one, examine them, and then line them up on the coffee table in rows. Every car was facing the same direction, front bumper to back, in perfect lines, until the entire coffee table was covered in Matchbox Cars.  That’s all he would do until it was time to put them away. Well, except if I was being ornery.

Kyle-in-Aunt-Heather-Piper-sunglasses-laughing 11-18-03

Me & Kyle screwing around with my sunglasses 11/18/03

Once when Kyle was nearly finished placing the cars, I waited for the perfect time for him to look away to retrieve another car.  I took my foot and pushed the coffee table over so the cars slid off and all landed on the floor. I know it sounds mean, but the look on his face was hilarious!  He was first in complete shock like he just witnessed an earthquake for his cars.  Then, as he noticed my foot still on the evidence, a complete realization of what just happened settled in.  His nose crinkled, his face soured, and he came over to me and begin to push my foot off the side of the table saying “No Aiya! No!”  Making it very clear that this was no acceptable behavior.  He looked like my sister when she gets angry with me!  I know, it’s not nice to tease, but it’s good to shake things up with these engineers.  Keeps it real.

Kyle not only aligned his cars but also his juice boxes in the refrigerator.  They had to be right side-up, facing front in a perfect line on the shelf. Let me tell you about convenience stores. If I would extract a bottle of water from inside the cooler, Kyle would realign the bottles making sure all the labels were facing out.  If the second bottle didn’t slide down to the front, then Kyle would help it along.  Bystanders that have actually witnessed this behavior, smiled at the precious narcissistic little boy.  I will admit, I tend to have the same disposition, everything orderly, tidy and aligned.  I do notice details, as does Kyle, and sometimes the smallest things drive me crazy.  Although, Kyle tends to be very selective with his details and neatness.  He is not always consistent but the natural tendencies are certainly there.

Granted as Kyle grows and as he is presented with different situations, he shows traits from all of us, including his business mind. Not everyone has the ability to be structured and think out of the box and use forward thinking.  My brother had a business mind, as does my dad and both equally have the work ethic to accompany such talents.  I do believe I possess these traits as well, similar to Kyle.  He has this unique thinking of setting and accomplishing goals and the ability to understand the idea of profit while maintaining the integrity of business.  A regular businessman.  How do I know?  I’m not just making a broad statement.  He has proved it through the interaction and assistance of my company The Piper Corporation (Thrill of the Hunt, SpyRing).  Yes with the little involvement he has had, he has shown me all these traits.  He is also a natural leader and he knows how to (and does without any quorums) delegate.  Once I teach him to properly follow up and address everyone with respect, and learn how to really utilize resources, he will be a force to reckon with.  I just hope I am able to instill a good work ethic and appropriate business practices with good moral intentions.


Me & Kyle at Idlewild… he is always a lot of fun at every age!  I love his perfectly round head!

Kyle’s people skills are pretty impressive!  He knows how to use his manners and speak directly to others.  Granted, sometimes he is a bit too direct, but like me, I love the candor and tend to steer in that direction.  Again as he matures, I can see his social skills tightening up and sharpening.  He already knows how to work a crowd to get their attention and to get what he wants, similar to his Aunt Heather.

As much as Kyle thinks, and he is a thinker, he forgets to think equally as much.  This behavior tends to get us both in sticky situations.

We both love to fish and I will admit, like Kyle, if I’m doing something I like, I want to perfect it and practice beforehand. Story time! Once when I was in elementary school, probably a little younger than Kyle is now, I decided to go outside and take advantage of the nice day and practice casting my fishing pole.  At the time mom had a dogwood tree in the middle of the yard.  Why is this relevant?  Because as I repeatedly cast my pole, I would caught a branch and have to pull my line out.  One would think that I would have just moved away from the tree, after all I had an entire yard.  But nope, I stood my ground until I cast my line in the top of the tree and couldn’t pull it out.   Yikes!  I didn’t know what to do.  Naturally the smart thing to do would have to cut the line.  Not me!  Instead I decreased the slack on the line and pulled the entire pole toward the top of the tree.  Yes, I let the fishing pole hang there in the dogwood tree.  Later that day, when dad came home from work, he noticed it instantly and asked no one in particular, in a very even toned voice, “Why is there a fishing pole in the tree?” I said, “I was practicing my casting and it got stuck.”  Nonchalantly dad replied, “Well don’t you think you better get it out?”  I knew I should, but for the life of me I didn’t realize at the time, breaking the line was an option, that is until weeks later when dad did just that.


Me & Kyle rocking the night away at Chad’s Wedding

Sometimes Kyle goes on his one track-mind and doesn’t bother to open his eyes to those around him.  I’m sure this will change as he grows, after all he is a sincere caring kid.  He is not malicious in anyway.  Although, I do the same, but it’s only because my mind is usually focused on other things, probably similar to Kyle’s.  At this point in his life, I would put my life on it, that it’s Legos!  Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many people would say they saw me, and I NEVER saw them.  Even if I walked right past them.  This happens a lot when I’m driving.  Hopefully, I’m concentrating on road, although I’m guessing my mind is wondering elsewhere, but not towards Legos.

Kyle’s a dreamer too.  Not just uses his imagination, which he totally does, but he is a visionary.  He always creates these grandiose ideas of how something should be, or how it will be or how it’s going to unfold.  I tend to be that dreamer too.  But I do believe that’s a great quality to have, especially being an entrepreneur.  Dreaming big is never a bad thing, just failure to act on it is.

There are so many more comparisons including the love of snow!  We both enjoy sled-riding, snowboarding and the crisp cool days.  Neither one of us like to be hot and we certainly don’t enjoy sweating, even though he does more than me.

We both love to cook and to experiment with ingredients.  Maybe more me than Kyle, but we love to try new foods and learn and understand different culture.

And like the rest of the family, there is one trait we all posses besides believing in God.  I don’t mean to omit the big Guy because to me that’s a standard, however I’m learning it’s not the case with most people.  But this time I’m talking about TRAVELING!  We are all equally intrigued by the rest of the world, new sights and the sense of adventure.  None of us has ever been afraid to explore and my parents have always encouraged this behavior.  Which speaking of, this week is ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  They are doing a road trip tour of the New England States.  How fun!  Next trip, I’m going to sneak my way in on the action!

I guess Kyle is a little bit of each of us, making him the perfect mix!  He’s a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.  (That’s for mom’s benefit!)

Read the complete list of comparisons

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Gigi?

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Travels and have No Comments

Aiya! Kyle’s Name of Endearment

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  ~William Shakespeare


Me, Kyle & Nicole at the Gutchess Picnic at Idlewild 8/2004

I don’t know how most people are, but our family is big on nicknames or childhood names continued throughout life.  When Kyle was just able to speak he would call me Aiya, pronounced \ī-yuha/.  I’m guessing it was a combination of Aunt and Heather.  No matter, it was Kyle’s word for me and I loved it.  ‘Heather’ is a bit difficult for children to say and then to throw in the ‘Aunt’ can cause a little difficulty.  Not to mention for the first few years of Kyle’s life, he was hard of hearing due to all of his ear infections, respiratory problems, tonsillitis, phenomena and such.  Kyle created Aiya, I understood it to refer to me, I answered to it, and that was my name!

When Kyle was three months old, my sister and I started calling him Narrow.  Evidently, the name ‘Kyle’ comes from the Gaelic origin, meaning a place-name referring to the narrows.  When Kyle was a little tyke he was nothing but narrow.  He had a wide neck, wide feet and legs and a big head, yet he was compact and short in length.  To humor ourselves, we used to say “Our little Narrow” because he was the opposite of slim and narrow.  Then, the name just stuck.  That was nearly twelve years ago.  When talking to Kyle, I usually refer to him as Narrow, but when writing about him, it’s easier to write Kyle.  I love both names and intermix them equally, after all the name Kyle, which I love, was given to him by his dad.  Now his Aunt Nikki and I gave him another name of endearment.  Similar to all his other nicknames I’ve used such as:  ‘Stinker’, ‘Turkey’, ‘Turkey Jerky’, ‘Little Man’, and my favorite, ‘The Package’.

I used to ask Kyle, “What do I call you?” and he would reply “Narrow.”  Then I would ask “What is your name?” by which he would reply “Kyle”.  Then I would continue our interrogation by asking  him “Why do I call you Narrow?” At first he would get this confused look on  his face and sincerely say, “I don’t know”, with which I would reply, “‘Cause I love you!”  He would simply smile and know I was speaking the truth.


Aunt Irene, who is really my cousin & godmother, yet I call her Aunt Irene. She’s holding a little Kyle & her daughter Katie is peeking over her shoulder. c. 2002

Over the years as Kyle’s speech improved, once we got him into speak therapy classes to get him caught up to children of his age, he learned to say my name.  I remember the first time he really tried it out and enunciated it with complete perfection.  It brought tears to my eyes.  As I was sitting there, Kyle walked up to me, held my face in his hands to get my complete attention, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Look I can say Aunt Heather!”  He said it very slowly and deliberately, to catch every syllable.   He was so proud of himself, and as was I.  All I could say was “Wow buddy!  That’s really good!  You’ve been practicing!  But what do you call me?”  Instantly he smiled and said “Aiya!”  As much as I loved hearing my name release from his lips with crystal clear precision, I will admit I loved my little nickname.

While Kyle continued saying my name appropriately and eventually abandoned Aiya, I continued to call him my Narrow.  It’s funny, when people mistaken Kyle for my son and call me mom, Kyle will correct them with pride and say, “That’s my Aunt Heather!”  Love my little man!

Every once in a while we share or re-share Kyle’s childhood stories with him.  Stories he really fancies.  Not long ago I brought up the time when he used to call me Aiya and when he started calling me Aunt Heather.  Not remembering that far back, keep in mind it was only a few years ago, I told Kyle the evaluation of my name through his eyes.

Then the strangest thing happened.  He has now reverted back to calling me Aiya.  Keep in mind it’s more of a conscience effort, but I can tell he still wants to use it.  It’s almost as if he likes the name, or more our tight bond we have, and he wants to display it out loud.

Do I care?  Nope!  Not one bit!  I am his Aunt Heather or his Aiya or whatever he chooses to regard me with his love and affection.  After all, my mom has been named Gigi by Kyle and that has stuck ever since.  He only references mom as ‘Grammy’ when he is speaking to other people so they understand.  In fact, we all use Gigi to refer to my mom, trying to keep a piece of Kyle with us at all times!  Love my Narrow!


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

Señor Don Gato – We Meet Again!

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

This blog post is dedicated to my sister’s cat Toshi (a.k.a. Lester) who used up his nine lives and sadly no amount of fish will re-animate him.  Rest-in-peace Lester!  You’ve had a good adventure, now a new song must be sung.

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!


John Manders signed the Señor Don Gato book for Kyle! He signed it to Señor Don Kyle! Love it! I love the Señor Don Gato song! c. 2004

During our most recent adventure to Parker Dam Home Away From Home – Parker Dam, I was reintroduced to an old friend, Señor Don Gato.  Who is this foreigner who seems like he would be friends with Zorro?  He was a childhood friend who I introduced to Kyle years ago.

How did Señor Don Gato make it to Parker Dam?  No one knows, but while we were splashing around in the Parker Dam creek, he came out of nowhere to make our fun even more enjoyable.

Seems like every time we go to Parker Dam, we head down to the creek, which is the overflow of water straight from Parker Lake itself.  We take the dogs there to splash around and stretch out their legs, not to mention Kyle and I enjoy the cold wet fun too.  While spending this past weekend at Parker Dam, on Saturday we participated in our side activity, just like from trips before, except my sister joined us.  As we trudged through the rocky cold water, looking for rocks or trying to make a new discovery, Kyle busted out in tune.  Can you guess?  Yes! Señor Don Gato!

Being in a little bit of shock, since I don’t remember the last time I heard Kyle singing that song, let alone thinking he remembered it, I listened to him stumble over the words for a moment.   Eventually, I joined in and we went off on our adventure like a couple of hobbits singing and experiencing the surrounding nature.


Nicole & Kyle splashing around in the Parker Dam creek with the dogs. 6/15/13

You see Señor Don Gato was a song we sang in elementary school, Sacred Heart.  Me, being a lover of all things cats, I loved the song instantly!   I remember sitting on the floor in the classroom having music class with Miss Gasper and going over the lyrics.  Keep in mind this was the first time I had ever heard of Señor Don Gato, so I really didn’t know how the story ended.  When we got to the part when he died, I started to shed a few tears for poor old Señor Don Gato.  My heart was broken.  Then, as we continued reading the lyrics, I was so happy for Señor Don Gato.  Literally, I fell that deeply into this song.  I believe it made our spring musical one year, although I can’t remember which classroom had the honor of singing it.

It was one of the few non religious songs we sang.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the other tunes, but something about Señor Don Gato really captured me.  It was as if I could see the story unfold in my head as we sand along.  I saw him reading the letter, I saw him leaping from the rooftop, I saw the funeral pass the market square and I could smell the fish.  (In my mind it smelt like Sea World which almost made me puke when I was there!)  Naturally, I never forgot it and Señor Don Gato has stayed with me ever since.  So much so, that when Kyle was just able to talk, I started teaching him the lyrics.  I’m pretty sure I sang the tune to him when he was little too.  For some reason I wanted to make sure he was exposed to the clever lyrics of Señor Don Gato during his childhood.  I knew he would love it as much as I did.

Fun facts according to Wikipedia:

The lyrics are loosely translated from the traditional Spanish song “Estaba el señor Don Gato”, but the melody is from a different song, “Ahora Que Vamos Despacio”.  There is also a French version of “Estaba el señor Don Gato” called “Monsieur le Chat”.

I thought everyone knew of this fun and silly song, however as I moved along through my adult life, I found it was sadly the opposite.  Yes there were a few, but the majority had no idea what I was talking about when mentioning old Señor Don Gato.


Kyle having a great time singing & splashing in the Parker Dam creek! We were singing Señor Don Gato, an all time favorite of both of ours. 6/15/13

Until one day, I saw John Manders, a very talented and one of my favorite illustrators of present day, illustrated the book Señor Don Gato!  This was around 2004, and he was going to be at a Barnes & Noble store in Pittsburgh demonstrating and reading from another one of his illustrated books.  I wanted to take Kyle so bad, but alas it was one of the few weekends he was not with us.  So I went with my previously purchased book to have him sign it.  What a great guy!  I met him on a few other occasions in the past, usually at art exhibits. He signed the book to Señor Don Kyle!  That was great!

That book and another one, both signed and illustrated by John Manders, was my gift to Kyle for either Easter or his birthday that year, I can’t remember.  It was a hit!  He recognized the song and to have it illustrated out before his eyes was a real treat.  Not to mention having the books signed directly to him made it personal.

I’m so glad another generation will carry on the legacy of old Señor Don Gato!

For those of you who do not know the song or those that need refreshed on the lyrics, please sing along below!


Oh Señor Don Gato was a cat,
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He went there to read a letter,
Meow, meow, meow
Where the reading light was better,
Meow, meow, meow
T’was a love note for Don Gato.

I adored you wrote the lady cat.
Who was fluffy, white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty
Meow, meow, meow
In the country or the city
Meow, meow, meow
And she said she’d wed Don Gato.

Oh, Don Gato jumped so happily,
He fell off the roof and broke his knee.
Broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
Meow, meow, meow
And his little solar plexus,
Meow, meow, meow
Ay carramba! cried Don Gato.
(when Kyle would sing this he would say, “I cry and I cry Don Gato.”)

When the doctors all came on the run,
Just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient,
Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Oh it wasn’t very merry,
Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery,
Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

As the funeral passed the market square,
Such a smell of fish was in the air.
Though his burial was slated,
Meow, meow, meow
He became re-animated,
Meow, meow, meow
He came back to life Don Gato!

Below is a video of us splashing around the creek at Parker Dam.  Me, Nicole, Kyle, Seven and Scooby had a blast!  6/15/13

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,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

Serving Through Pancakes

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  ~Philippians 2:4


Mom, Kyle & me at the St. Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast. We took a few minutes to visit with mom & dad. 2/10/13

Two Sundays ago, was February tenth.  In addition to being the fifth Sunday in ordinary time, it was also the Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, held at the Sacred Heart cafeteria.  Yes my old Alma Mater!

What a great fundraiser!  The tickets were only six bucks and  you received three large pancakes, three sausage links, fruit cup, coffee and orange juice.  The youth group students, along with their fearless leaders, decorated the cafeteria in a fun Valentine’s Day motif, set up the seating areas and prepped the kitchen prior to the event.  This ambitious group worked the Saturday morning prior and started the Pancake Breakfast off at 7:30 am.  The fundraiser was open to serve the hungry community at 9:00 am and wrapped up around 12:00 pm.  Kyle served mass Saturday night, allowing us to contribute our Sunday toward the event.

Everyone who assisted with the Pancake Breakfast was needed and truly made a difference.  Everyone, all the youth group students, parents and friends alike, but let me explain how valuable one leader is with an event like this one.  A special kudos goes out to our event organizer, Marty Singer.  Marty really rocked the house!  His experience and general know how with running a kitchen made the Pancake Breakfast run smoothly and seamlessly.  Seriously!  Marty certainly has been blessed with very important attributes, and his strongest ones were exhibited throughout the day and prior to the fundraiser.  God has blessed him with leadership, organization, common sense, patience, and authority, just to name a few.  He had everyone aligned and delegated appropriately, including selling the tickets, setting up and tearing down the kitchen and cafeteria, plus administering and directing the volunteers during the breakfast itself, real-time while the pancakes were being flipped.  The logistics to getting an event like this one organized can be overwhelming, let alone have it go off without a hitch.


Tina, Mom, Kyle, Me, Dad & Andy at Pancake Breakfast for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group Pancake Breakfast. 2/10/13

Marty ordered the food and supplies, not just for the dinner but for all aspects of the event including the chef’s hats, a nice touch!  On a side note, that made working in the kitchen more fun and we appeared totally official!  Marty calculated the cost of everything and manged the entire process to stay within budget, concluding the fundraiser a success.  As he was running around keeping everyone on their toes and moving things along, I heard him continue down his checklist residing in his mind, really only speaking to himself but clearly having our lot under control.   He had a specific number of pancake dinners to serve, and you know what?  He reached and exceeded his goal, all within the same budget and without a shortage of food.  Actually, he was pretty spot on!

Pancake makers Aunt Heather Piper 2-10-13

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group members.  Christie, Megan, Marty, Rachel & Jeremy 2/10/13

Marty was clearly recognized at the go-to-person.  Every time guidance was sought out or questions needed answered, they went straight to the Big Kahuna himself.  Sometimes under pressure people tend to show it or the stress is felt.  Nope, not with our master commander, and I am confidently saying this from personal experience.  I waited on tables in high school and I eventually put myself through college by continuing this skill and expanded it to bartending.  Knowing first hand how hectic and maddening a kitchen can become with the pressures of serving food, running the front of the house as well as the back of the house, it very real.  Our captain ran a ship like it should have been, allowing everyone to enjoy themselves and be rewarded with the sense of community and good service.   Nicely done Marty!


Kyle showing his dish washing abilities… Pancake Breakfast cleanup 2/10/13

Stepping away from the Marty fan club for a moment, I would like to say all the students and parents alike kept in step with the Pancake Breakfast too.  I always said, in order to be a good leader, you need to be a great follower.  This crew was that, what a bunch of hard working individuals!  Functioning as part of the kitchen crew, I wasn’t really among our guests except to sneak out and visit every now-and-again, but I can tell you what I saw was very inspirational.  Those working the front of the house was running their buns off, servicing our guests and really tending to them.  The back of the house kept up with the flow of Pancake enthusiasts, maintained the mess and did what was needed.   Again, what a great bunch we are blessed to have apart of our church!


Me cleaning up the pancake batter. The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Pancake Breakfast was a hit! 2/10/13

Mom and dad were among the breakfast patrons.  Kyle did take a break to stop and chit chat with the grandparents, as did I, however he still didn’t neglect his duties.  During the little visit, he left our side to address new church goers waiting to fill their tummy’s with pancakes.  While running around, I did keep my eye on him, making sure he wasn’t slacking or calling mutiny by assuming the lead.  He did neither, in fact I saw him on occasion, teaming up with others to reset seats for the next pancake muncher.  Kyle, like everyone else was on the move the entire time!  I must say I was sincerely impressed by Kyle’s work ethic.  When I saw that, my thoughts were, ‘He is a hard working Piper’ and ‘His dad would be proud.’

Not only did the youth group raise m0ney and they served the community, but they also had a great time doing it.  I will admit, I did as well!  Besides scooping fruit and assisting when needed, I cleaned, washed dishes and entertained.  Who would have thought washing pots and pans could be enjoyable?  I guess that’s the grace of giving back.  It’s totally worth it!


posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Thinking About You Ryan!

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  ~1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Ryan-smiling Aunt Heather Piper

Ryan showing his muscles

It has been eleven years since Ryan has left us on earth and moved toward eternity.  Is is easier that it’s been over a decade since his passing?  Nope, not at all, but through the grace of God we are still managing to get by every day.

There is no doubt that Ryan is looking down us, especially Kyle.  I’m sure Ryan is extremely proud of the young man his son has turned out to be, as we all are, friends and family alike.  How do I know?  Well, the presence of Ryan is a gut feeling, but those residing on earth, they mention it in passing or make it a point to call out Kyle’s kind heart and sincerity.

Kyle is the best reminder of Ryan, not that we need it.  With Kyle, it’s fun to share stories about his dad and make comparisons between the two.  Although, the biggest joke we have is that Kyle is my sister reincarnated.  While that’s true for many of Kyle’s characteristics, the truth is Kyle is so much his dad, his friendliness, candor, and sense of humor are all Ryan.  Even his creativeness and desire to build are stemmed  mostly from Ryan.  I guess Kyle’s a little bit of us all.


Ryan proudly holding his son, Kyle 7/30/01

Sometimes I can still see Ryan’s unique smirk.  It wasn’t quit a smile but certainly not a frown, and it was a bit crooked, almost a mischievous grin.  When he demonstrated that look, you couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking.  Although when he shot me that expression along with the rolling of the eyes, I knew exactly what he was saying inside.  Of course now-a-days while he’s hanging out in heaven with my pap, Ryan’s probably saying ‘What were you thinking Heather?’ or ‘My family is a rare breed.’  I hope we are entertaining him but I mostly hope all of our actions and decisions are Ryan approved, especially when it comes to Kyle.  I’ve always said, with all my decisions regarding Kyle I ask the question, “Does it help or hinder him mentally, spiritually or physically?”  I also try to take Ryan into consideration.  I know it’s silly, but I try to picture how Ryan would have raised Kyle and handle certain situations.

No matter what goes on in life, good or bad, no matter how busy or hectic things get, we still think of Ryan every day and I can’t help but wonder what the days would be like if he was still around.  Death is tough on the living.  I can’t wait till we are reunited again!  I miss my little brother!

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

Deer Hunter, Kyle’s First Deer

Hey, I’m a Catholic deer hunter, I am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion.  ~Paul Ryan

Kyle-&-Dad-Mentor-Hunting-with-deer-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle & Dad with Kyle’s first deer during mentor hunting 10/19/12

This past Thursday through Saturday was the season of the deer hunter, mentor hunting to be exact.  That means a child who is not old enough to hunt has the opportunity to go with a licensed hunter and shoot a doe.  Now the season also extends for fall turkey and such, but we took Kyle on a deer hunting experience.  Dad and I requested off of work on Friday, and Kyle took a vacation day from school, figuring this would double Kyle’s chances of getting a deer, giving him two full opportunities to take down a doe.  Surprisingly Kyle wrapped it up on Friday, a few hours before dark.  Kyle went with dad last mentor hunting Hunting – Survival or Sport?, except this year, Kyle finished the season with his mission accomplished!

This little hunting adventure has been planned since last year, although dad could never have drafted how the events would unfold.  To aid in the experience and help set the example, I too got my hunting license.  This was first time since I was in my early teens.  Yikes!  That was a while back but I’ll digress.  My job in dad’s ‘deer hunter experience’ turned out to be pushing deer.  Perfect!  I did volunteer for the job but one can never tell what dad has planned.  Since, I really truly enjoy walking through the woods and getting out in the fresh air this was a win win for everyone!

Boy did dad have it all outlined, and I mean down to the detail.  Of course, when it comes to deer hunting I should expect nothing less from him.  During the first half of the day, my only responsibility was to stick to dad’s directions of how I was to maneuver around the local terrain, and make sure I packed enough snacks with me to sustain my stomach.  Everyone knows I am miserable when I’m hungry.  When you hunt with dad, that means waking up very early, well before sunrise, going all day until a deer is shot or a until the sun is completely set.  So unlike the first time I went hunting, I was prepared for the day.

Kyle-with-first-deer-10-19-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s first deer, a button buck during mentor hunting 10/19/12

Dad’s game plan was to have him and Kyle perch themselves by the cabin above the house, while I traipsed through the side of the ridge walking in their direction pushing deer.  Simple enough!  I was instructed to walk slowly and every once-in-a-while hit a tree trunk with a stick.  Got it!  I was not suppose to spook the deer,  just get them moving in the northeast direction.  Simple enough?  Kinda.  First of all, it’s been a while since I was on that side of the ridge in the woods.  As kids we were no stranger, but not so much now-a-days and it only takes a years of absence for the woods to take on a different shape.  I started out pretty confident, which came to a screeching halt when I found myself stuck in some thick brush.  Please keep in mind this is my own personal mission and failure was not an option.  I redeemed myself when I came face-to-face with three doe, or so I thought.  Yep they were doe alright, but I don’t think I moved them in the right direction!  Curiously enough, I came between 25 feet and 50 feet from the targets!  That’s what makes the woods exciting, especially hunting.

Ok, so now I was full of enthusiasm and the objective of our mission was milling around in front of me.  I wanted to let dad and Kyle know to keep their eyes peeled, so I texted them.  No response.  So I called them. Nothing.  Then I thought, I’ll just call my sister, she was in Boston for work and I wasn’t able to talk to her all week and I wanted to share my excitement with her.  As I was whispering into the phone,  I had to laugh because Nicole was whispering back to me.  That was too funny!  After we hung up, I decided to call mom at work to see why dad wasn’t answering his phone.  Keep in mind, this is all happening while I was slowly moving the deer in what I thought was the right direction, only later to find out I was too far down the hill.  Let’s get real, deer can’t completely be predicted and I wasn’t a sheep dog.  Anyway, mom solved the riddle, I later on found out, that dad didn’t have his phone on him.  She did laugh at me and said in a common sense tone, “Dad doesn’t know how to text, he doesn’t know how to do anything on his phone except make a call and answer it.”  That comment was also confirmed by dad later on in the day, when he said, “Don’t text, I don’t do that texting s#@t.  Just call!”

During all this time of making phone calls, I was also Twittering my adventures and responding to Facebook.  I couldn’t help myself, I am a child of the electronic age and this was exciting.  My friend Kelly responded back saying I was the first hunter with play by play tweets from the woods!  That was hilarious!

After the first push didn’t bring us a kill, dad sent me down to move up the opposite side of the ridge.  While that path was simpler in terms of less brush, it certainly worked my buttock muscles with the hills and valleys.  I actually like that side better, I was more familiar with it.  Once I met up with Kyle and dad, they didn’t have any luck seeing anything, neither did I.  Not even tracks.  Lucky for Kyle I had my satchel containing some fruit and snacks.  As he sat on his log, he mentioned he forgot his food back at the quad. Now that brought a smile to my face.  I did the same thing on my first hunting trip.  I’m glad I could save the day with Oreo cookies.  All three of us snacked on them until they were done before dad made the decision to move on.  After a while we went back to the house for lunch, very uncharacteristic for my dad, but I guess the man’s getting old.  After lunch we went out to a friends farm to try out luck there.  I also forgot to mention the dogs got out early in the morning and were on the run.  I do believe that messed up our game plan, they spooked the deer.

Sitting in a field on the edge of woods was pretty uneventful, and I mean completely uneventful.  Boring actually.  I didn’t have anything to do but sit there and watch the woods for deer.  Not fun in my book, but I wanted to help Kyle out with his first deer so I tried my hardest to focus and stay on task.  This experience was all Kyle and dad talked about for weeks.  Even when we went to the grocery store on Thursday night, Kyle picked up a few sweets which he referred to as his ‘victory’ desserts.  Yep he was determined to get a deer.

Instagram Aunt Heather PiperBefore we started to walk down to our vantage point, Kyle grabbed his thermoses of water, hot chocolate and his sandwich.  Not his coat, orange vest or rifle.  He looked like a little old man packing for a camping trip for a month.  It wasn’t cold out, in fact it was a sunny blue day that may have reached the 60’s.  The best quote I’ve heard in a long time came from dad in response to Kyle’s actions.  He said, “Kyle are you gonna grab your rifle or are you planning on clubbing the deer with corn?”  I died laughing, it was too funny.  Kyle laughed to, but dad didn’t join in.  After all he still means business and he really wanted to see Kyle get a deer.

As we sat in the field, watching the tree line, I couldn’t help but notice all these birds flying over our heads from one tree to another across the distance of the field.  There were literally thousands of them making fun artsy shapes in the beautiful white cloud decorated sky.  Once I got past the graceful patterns displayed above our heads and the uniformed travel patterns, I leaned over to Kyle and said, “If a bird craps on me, I’m leaving.”  He started to laugh!  I almost wish I would have never said anything because then Kyle’s attention was taken off of playing with the grass and moved overhead.  We were both suppose to be watching for deer.  Ok maybe me and Kyle more alike than I realize.  At one point we started to get the giggles.  I couldn’t help myself and I’m sure dad was ready to loose his patience.

Dad kept reassuring us that any time now the deer should be out-and-about.  Just then the moment we’ve all been waiting for…a doe in the distance.  Actually it was on my right side, less than 100 yards from us.  As I poked Kyle he responded by saying, “What?  What Aunt Heather?”, as he looked around thinking I was referring to something else.  Now that caused me to roll my eyes.  Then I motioned for Kyle to poke my dad to get his attention.  As Kyle did so, dad’s hunting instincts were in high gear as looked over and saw the deer pretty much immediately.  He gave a reassuring nod as I slowly crawled out of the way.  I could have laid down and covered my ears while Kyle shot over me, but it would have made him nervous and there was no need, the deer was just grazing along.

At first Kyle was going to free hand the shot, but dad stood up and helped to move his tripod stand to make it easier on him.  Again the deer was didn’t really notice us at first and when it did we remained still until it looked away and continued feeding.  It took Kyle what seemed like an hour to make the shot, but when he did it was a hit.  I’ll give Kyle credit, he didn’t panic and wasn’t too quick to pull the trigger.

Kyles deer instagram Aunt Heather PiperAfter the bullet launched itself into the ribs of the deer, it did the typical buck and jump before heading straight towards me.  What?  I’ve never had a deer charge me.  I didn’t know what to do!  All I thought  was, “I’m going to be run over by a deer!  I’m going to walk out of here with hoof prints on my face!”  Just before the deer reached me, I pulled my hands up over my face, which spooked the injured disoriented deer and caused him to run up the hill.  I say he because later we found out it was a button buck, less than three inches, perfectly legal.  Kyle said, “I thought it was mad at us for shooting at him and it decided to charge us!”  Now that was a funny thought!  I told Kyle, “There fora minute I thought you were going to sing ‘Aunt Heather got run over by a reindeer’!”  We laughed at our silliness.

Now began the hunt for the wounded.  We began tracking the blood trail up through the corn field and lost track of the blood in the open hay field.  Kyle was the first to spot the blood, even before dad.  Good eye buddy!  After we came out on the other side of the corn, dad went one way and I went the other.  Kyle was torn of what he was suppose to do, so he followed dad.  In no time at all, Kyle came running around the corn and was yelling for me.  He said, “Aunt Heather where are you?  Pappy found the deer and it’s dead!  Hurry come this way!”  He was all panting and excited.  I followed Kyle to his first deer kill.  Last year he shot at a deer, but we never did find it after tracking it through the woods.

Now begins the really funny part of the story.  As history dictates, I wanted to get a picture with Kyle and his deer.  Although he was a bit apprehensive of touching the deceased beast.  Once we got past that, it was time to gut the animal.  Dad pulled out a deer knife and began cleaning off the blade, he said, “I haven’t cleaned this blade since your daddy killed his last deer.”  Wow that had to be over 11 years ago.  I didn’t ask, but I thought that knife was Ryan’s.

Dad was elated with joy and complete pride for Kyle!  Well, that was quickly put aside when Kyle leaned over the dead animal and said, “OO it smells like death!”  I started laughing, not realizing how serious his comment was.  As soon as dad started to gut the deer, which I’ve seen more times than I can count, Kyle turned himself away from us in the field and started to dry heave.  Dad rolled his eyes in frustration while I fell over laughing.  I truly couldn’t help myself even though he was upset over his sensitive stomach.  Kyle kept reiterating, “Sorry I just can’t stand the smell.”  I really don’t think it was the sight of the blood, but more the smell.

Hunting Twitter Aunt Heather PiperAt one point, I was poking the stomach and Kyle looked like he was so grossed out he couldn’t take it.  By now dad and I both had blood soaked hands and Kyle got a little on him.  You would have thought he was doused in it the way he freaked out.

After most of the prep work was completed, to transport the deer back home, dad turned to Kyle and said, “You’re not done yep, I’m going to show you how to cut out the heart.”  Kyle about turned green and backed away.  Then, he proceeded to sit himself in the truck and wait there while we loaded the deer.

Kyle was fine with the carcase after dad and I skinned it and rinsed it out.  He even helped to cut up the steaks for dinner on Saturday night.  The entire way through dinner dad kept saying, “This deer tastes like it has been eating corn!”  It was cute, dad and Kyle were proud of his kill.  Not to mention Kyle literally put food on the table for dinner that night.

You know what?  Dad’s right the fresh steak does taste better.  Nice lean meat.  Way to go Kyle!  Congratulations!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments


Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.  ~Abraham Lincoln

My blog was created as a way to record Kyle’s life, his learning experiences, interaction between family and friends, and funny things he’s said and done.  It’s a way for everyone to stay-up-to-date with all things Kyle and whatever else is going on in the land of Piper’s.  It’s weird, but this blog has also become a therapeutic outlet for me.  I’ve found that I enjoy writing and going through old photos and scanning them in the computer, cleaning them up and uploading the digital memories for all to share.  Not to mention, I do enjoy rehashing stories from the past and recording these tales so that they can be relived and discovered by others.

Since starting my blog, I’ve learned that other family members have faced similar situations that we have encountered with raising Kyle.  Some of my viewers have reached out to me offering their experience, advice, encouragement, support and guidance.  With all the feedback, privately or publicly, I sincerely appreciate it!  I get so engrossed in my digital world of all things Kyle, I forget this is public information and I am not alone with helping to raise a little one!  It is a great relief to have outside eyes encouraging me and reinforcing the efforts that me and my family have done throughout Kyle’s life.  I guess I look at it like it’s a confirmation that we are not screwing him up and we are raising him in the best way we know how.  It’s a very real and scary situation, but one worth it!

OMGmother Aunt Heather Piper

Now it is my turn to give advice and a heartfelt suggestion.  Before starting this blog I didn’t realize there is another way to maintain communication between me and my family and my nephew, besides starting up a blog.  The answer is  OMGmother!  I have been following them on Twitter (@OMGmother) but never really explored their efforts until they opened up the lines of communication.   Recently, the good people from OMGmother reached out to me to guest write a couple of blog posts.  Throughout our interactions, I’ve found I too share their passion for family.  They are sincerely wonderful and supportive people!

While telling the story of how I became such an integral part of Kyle’s life is difficult to put into words, I felt very honored to be included in their efforts of bringing godparents, aunts and uncles together with their godchildren, their family.  Everything I do for Kyle is for his benefit and that’s exactly the purpose of OMGmother.  Let’s face it, everyone benefits when a child knows how much they are loved.  It’s a blessing to watch that child succeed in life and be so happy.  To be apart of that process is priceless.

I want to give a big shout out to OMGmother for acknowledging those that make a difference in the lives of children and helping to maintain that bond and interaction between the little ones and their family members and influential figures, all for the benefit of the youngsters.  This group of people are great to deal with and are making wonderful strides with their efforts.  Great work and keep it up!

Please take the time to review the OMGmother Blog.  I admire their direction and their passionate efforts, all for the betterment of children!

Read my blog posts written specifically for OMGmother.
Becoming a True OMGmother in the Face of Tragedy. 
OMGmother Heather Piper Helps Children Play to Win

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

Laughing About Nothing … Truck Horn!

A day without laughter is a day wasted.  ~Charlie Chaplin


Me & Kyle exploring the caves with Casey in Lewisburg, West Virginia 2011

Kyle and I are back at it again, only because we have so much dashboard time and we make the most of it.  I know I’m the instigator, but I do love seeing Kyle use his imagination along with his strong personality to create these funny stories and scenarios!  I really can’t help myself, it’s way too much fun to pass up.  Not to mention, we continue quoting from our stories for days, weeks and months after the fact, laughing to own inside jokes.  If there is one bonding experience that we both equally enjoy, its laughing about nothing!

Staying to theme here’s a good one for the books.  Traffic was slower than usual when getting Kyle for his piano lessons a couple of Monday’s ago.  It looked like they were resurfacing the road.  Doesn’t matter, all I knew was that traffic heading to his music lesson was moving at a snail’s pace.  Did I mention I was running on fumes too?  Typical me, running my gas tank down to vapors and now there was another challenge creeping by in the next lane, roadway construction.  Thinking I was being clever, I plugged in my GPS and took a detour to the nearest Sheetz.  Yes, I am completely Directionally Challenged!  I knew my precious navigation system would take us in the opposite direction of the roadwork but since there was no way I would have been able to find my way out of the maze of side roads, at least not in enough time to get Kyle to his lessons or before I ran out of gas, I made that choice thinking it was best.

After we fueled up and grabbed grub, we headed back in the right direction, now running parallel to the construction work.   I don’t know about anyone else, but bumper-to-bumper traffic makes me antsy and almost claustrophobic.  Even though I was not among the chaos at that point, I was still feeling the effects of experiencing the traffic.  There is only one way to cure that, wide open roads and speed; neither of which were happening, plus I had precious cargo with me, Kyle.  So with the feeling of being trapped behind someone and moving at a snail’s pace, I became a little irritated with people in front of me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have road rage at all!  But this was my inside feeling especially now that we were cutting it close on time for Kyle’s lesson.  Just then, a slower moving vehicle made their way in front of us.  Perfect!  That’s exactly what I needed.  Now on my defense, as not to confuse me with a serious lunatic driver, they were moving slower than the established speed limit sign.  Really?  It was beautiful day, no weather conditions to content with, no additional traffic, it was daylight, yet the driver felt the need to omit the suggested range of speed at which one was legally allowed to travel.

Anyway, it was at that moment that a funny thought entered my mind and I begin to snicker to myself.  Kyle, being a curious little man asked, “What? What Aunt Heather?, What are you laughing at?”.  Oh, Kyle you asked, I shall answer, “Wouldn’t that be funny if my car had a horn like on a big truck and I blew?  Could you image?  What would that lady think when she looked at us in her rear view mirror expecting to see a big truck and it was us?”  Please keep in mind I have a Nissan Rogue.  Kyle instantly caught on to the humor and began to laugh before chiming in with his own version of this scenario.

Smart-car-with-Truck-Horn Aunt Heather Piper

As we laughed about the idea, I saw a bolt of lighting hitting Kyle right in the brain, just as he busted out laughing so hard he couldn’t actually laugh.  He bend over as much as the seat belt would allow, while his stomach muscles contracted with faint giggles erupting from his throat.  I knew there was something really good to laugh at, I just didn’t know what it was and so following suit, I started to laugh too.  Kyle has one of those contagious laughs when he really finds something truly funny and it makes it really hard not to join in.  My mom is the same way.  When she starts to really laugh at something, even before knowing what it is, you find yourself participating in the mysterious humor that for some reason is really really funny!

After Kyle got his composure somewhat under control, he blurted out, “Imagine driving a smart car that had a big truck horn?”  That was completely hysterical!  I busted out laughing and I couldn’t talk, besides gasping for air and wiping the tears from my eyes,  I was trying to drive safely.  Once the shock of the outrageous comment settled, we continued with the story.

Truck Horn Aunt Heather Piper Twitter

Kyle was on fire!  He started our story off with saying, “Ya Aunt Heather we could pull up to pappy in his truck and honk the horn.”  This was completely silly and seriously comical.  Feeding off of his thoughts, I said, “Image if there was a fleet of smart cars with the big truck horns, all honking them.  Can you image being the car in front hearing all those horns and thinking there was a caravan of big trucks?  Then to look in your rear view mirror and see a bunch of smart cars?”  Ok, I get it, this was a really stupid conversation, but I can’t even explain how much fun we had with it.  I even told my sister about the big truck horn disguised under the exterior of a smart car.  Even she thought is was funny too and gave a good chuckle when we talked.

Kyle’s imagination is so interesting!  He is one cool cat!  Keep the stories flowing buddy, that makes life fun and interesting.  It also helps break up the norm and the repetition of the day.  Not to mention it makes for a great Twitter comment.

 Read more on our stupid humor

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!

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

What’s Head Cheese?

The grocery store is the great equalizer where mankind comes to grips with the facts of life like toilet tissue.  ~Joseph Goldberg


Me & Nicole in Arizona 3/2002

Everyone once in a while I think of something that happened, and I can’t help but relive the tale, especially to my mom who is usually in on the story or knows the characters.

Let me set the stage.  Mom and I used to get my grandma’s groceries.  As the days turned over, adding up to a month, my grandma would collect her grocery list until there was big order.  Then, mom and I would go to the store and cross the items off of the list.  We would remove the groceries from one shelf and place them on another in my grandma’s apartment, only to repeat the same routine a month later.  It’s funny but years earlier we would do the same for my late Aunt Katherine – Memorial Day Tradition, although, she would join us in the grocery shopping experience.  I loved going with mom and Aunt Katherine.  Actually, Aunt Katherine made it an experience, being such a feisty old lady.  Aunt Katherine was the best!

It’s funny, I don’t remember mom taking gram for groceries after pap passed away, but I remember being a kid and going grocery shopping with my gram and pap.  Pap would wait in the car, since he had two prosthetic legs and walked with two canes, and me and gram would cruise the isles of the store filling up the cart.  She always yelled me every time I poked the ground meat in the packages and let’s not discuss the cheeses.  Rightfully so, but she was always kind of snippy with me.  Maybe my natural hyperactivity and the fact that I would dance around between the shelves of groceries because I Don’t Like to Push a Shopping Cart! made her more irritable than usual.  Either way it was never like shopping with mom or Aunt Katherine.

Now-a-days gram doesn’t drive, in fact she really doesn’t leave her apartment. Hence, why she needs assistance.  Our routine consisted of me unloading the groceries, while mom sat with gram to balance her checkbook and pay bills etc.  This was the part I always dreaded, not because of carrying the groceries, or cleaning out her refrigerator, not even close.  I didn’t mind that at all!  I’ll do anyone a favor and help out anyway I can, however I absolutely HATE gram’s smoking habit!  I detest cigarettes with such a passion!  It actually evokes real anger in me when I’m standing in a cloud of toxic smoke, especially when I’m trying to help her out.  Disrespect!  Maybe that’s a blog post for another day or a subject for a therapy session.

Sometimes to give mom a break, or to help her out with gram, Nicole and I would take it upon ourselves to tackle the monthly grocery list.  Same goes for me and Kyle, taking on the responsibility of the gathering the outlined items and putting the groceries away.  Sometimes, it was as simple as stopping and picking gram up a few items.  I do want to point out that gram hated it when Nicole and I would go, especially if it was just me and Kyle in place of mom.  Perhaps she just didn’t like the change or she felt mom’s grocery shopping was guided by pixy dust and it was more magical.  Maybe the spiritual guidance that lead mom through the store helping her make her purchasing decisions didn’t reside in me?  Putting all sarcasm aside, gram was never happy to hear Nicole and I or, the dynamic duel of me and Kyle were going to the grocery store.  In fact, when this happened, gram would purposely call mom during the week to drag her back to the market for something trivial.  Personally, I never cared what gram thought, it saved mom a trip and the effort of hauling the groceries up to her apartment.  Anyway, within the past couple of years or so, gram gets someone else to follow in our footsteps and retrieve her groceries.  I guess I was fired. C’est la vie.


Me & Nicole in Ireland 6/2005

Now back to the head cheese.  The question, “What is head cheese?” might be running across your mind.  Until these grocery store adventures started for gram, I’ve never heard of head cheese either.  From that moment on, whenever head cheese appeared on the grocery list, I never took a second glance.  According to Wikipedia,


Head cheese, or brawn, is a cold cut that originated in Europe. A version pickled with vinegar is known as souse. Head cheese is not a cheese but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig(sometimes a sheep or cow), and often set in aspic. Which parts of the head are used can vary, but the brain, eyes, and ears are usually removed. The tongue, and sometimes even the feet and heart, may be included.

Head cheese may be flavored with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt, and vinegar.  It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat.  It can also be made from quality trimmings from pork and veal, adding gelatin to the stock as a binder.

Head cheese!  It’s definitely unusual to hear, especially for my sister.  This is where the story begins.  One trip to the grocery store consisted of me, Nicole and the grocery list, courtesy of gram.  Since I was familiar with the layout of the store and the items listed, I always remained in control of the outlined groceries.  We would walk through the isles and I shouted to Nicole each item we needed, while picking up the goods closest to me, all along crossing off the list.  It was a great system, we divided and conquered.  Toward the end of this adventure we needed to pick up the frozen food and the deli items.  I was at the far end of the isle looking for a specific item gram wanted and Nicole was free to continue.  Thinking ahead, I was sent Nicole to the deli so I could finish getting all the frozen food items.  I yelled up at Nicole and said, “Go to the deli and get a pound of sliced head cheese.”  Nicole started to take a step in the right direction and abruptly stopped, turned back to me, and gave me this look of ‘What did you say?’ before actually saying it.  Not thinking how strange it sounded, I repeated myself, followed by Nicole repeating me for clarification, “Did you say head cheese?”.  Still not really picking up on the oddity of the request, I said, “Ya sliced.”  Nicole, still in disbelieve over this conversation, said, “What is head cheese?” Now she had my attention, and I started to laugh at her dumbfounded look.  Also please keep in mind we were at opposite ends of the grocery store yelling back and forth.

Since I was always in a hurry to get gram’s groceries and put them away, I shooed Nicole off for her next mission, while I hurried up and completed the list.  As I moved to the adjacent isle, which also housed the deli where Nicole was standing in line, I finished retrieving all the items before meeting up with the ‘head cheese’ wrangler.  At that moment she got the goods and looked at me with bewilderment and said, “It doesn’t really look like cheese!”  I started laughing because this was so funny and especially because what was ready to come out of my mouth.  I clarified her comment by saying, “Well it’s not cheese, it’s meat parts.” Nicole’s face was priceless!  She said, “What? Meat parts?”  At this point, I was ready to start rolling around on the floor from laughter.  To help her in her understanding of what she was holding I said, “It’s like parts of animals all ground up and made into a lunch meat.”  Nicole with a grossed out look said, “That’s disgusting!”  Certainly I agree with her, but it was on the list.

Now why am I talking about head cheese?  Only because it came up the other day and Kyle thinks it’s the funniest story he’s ever heard.  For some reason he loves hearing me and mom laugh about that situation, which was really funny!  Kyle still brings up the tale of the head cheese and says, “Hey Aunt Heather, remember when Aunt Nikki got the head cheese for gram Alice?”  He giggles and laughs like he was there, although Kyle is always with us in spirit and on our minds.

It’s funny, Kyle loves to be a part of the family stores and I love sharing them with him, even if it’s just about head cheese.

*When talking to Kelly about head cheese, I asked her if she knew what it was and Kelly said, “Isn’t that dandruff?”  That was so funny and extremely gross.  Good one Kelly!

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