Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt

You have to be burning with “an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out. ~Steve Jobs

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Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt participant from Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Admittedly, I am very blessed, especially with my job.  Mentioning it a time or two, I own Thrill of the Hunt a product of The Piper Corporation.  I know I’ve talked about Thrill of the Hunt on a number of occasions, but I’ll reiterate.

Thrill of the Hunt is a company that solely develops and administers to theme scavenger hunts.  Yes, this includes birthday parties, business functions, company outings, team building activities and fundraisers, just to name a few.  We also host scavenger hunt events, which are open to the public.  Anyone can purchase a ticket and join others of like interest in a particular city on a scavenger hunt adventure.

Where was I this past weekend?  Annapolis, Maryland, administering to a pet friendly scavenger hunt for Halloween.  Yes, it’s October and my popular Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts have commenced for the entire month.  I just started these last year, and since the interest was heightened, I decided to expand to include additional cities.

The biggest question I’m asked, “What is a dog scavenger hunt?”  Yes, it may sound odd and no, your dog is not taking the lead on this one to sniff out clues.  It’s a laid back family friendly event.  When I created these scavenger hunts, I wanted something for families to do with their dogs, so both parties could get out and stretch their legs, while exploring the community.   I also wanted to help promote the local businesses, so I started including the shops as part of the actual scavenger hunt.

The next question, “What do I have to do?”  Easy.  First you have to Like Thrill of the Hunt on Facebook or TwitterThrill of the Hunt combines a traditional scavenger hunt with social interaction to create exponential fun and to add another dimension to the game.  Some of our scavenger hunts require you to have a QR reader app for scanning QR Codes to complete online challenges.  Then, all you have to do is figure out the riddles that take you to specific locations in a particular area.  Once you’ve arrived, you get to collect your dog treat or toy and then tackle the online challenge, post it and then move on to the next location.

Since these are dog and family friendly events, it’s not a fight to the finish.  You can treat it as such, but as of now, these dog scavenger hunts are an activity to spend time with your dog and possibly family while taking in the sights and fresh air.

I do conduct other dog scavenger hunts, however the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunts are by far the most popular and certainly the most entertaining.  Dog owners love dressing up their 4-legged friends in costume, as do I!  It’s quite entertaining for everyone involved, although not a requirement.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do other scavenger hunt themes, excluding dogs.  But since these are sometimes so comical, I wanted to share my weekend of fun.

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Nicole & Kyle with Avery a.k.a. Acorn. She’s an angel (riiiigght!) for the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Kyle is usually my side kick, especially for these dog scavenger hunts, but alas his Aunt Nikki came home and he wanted to spend time with her.  At the very least, Kyle will be joining me for the Latrobe Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in two weeks.    I’m not sure about New Hope, Pennsylvania’s or Alexandria Virginia’s.  Of course, I’m having a hard enough time getting Kyle to keep our database updated and organized.  I guess he’s finding his own interests and they don’t seem to include Thrill of the Hunt.  Maybe that will change and he’ll find a renewed interest in the company.

About the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt

Tickets are on sale now, but are limited.  Purchase your tickets HERE.  We are still accepting local businesses to be on the hunt, at no cost for Alexandria, Virginia.

We are always open to hearing suggestions on scavenger hunt themes and hometowns to bring our events.  Please Suggest An Event, either on our website or email Game@ThrillScavengerHunt.com or fill out the form on the Contact Us page.  I seriously want to hear from you!

Make sure you’re following the hunt on our social sites. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, always using #ThrillofHunt

Remember, everyone needs to … Experience the Game!

 

VOTE

I am also very pleased to mention, Thrill of the Hunt is in the running for a small business grant through Chase Mission Main St. Grants.  Please help us get into the final running by voting.  As of today, we only need 72 more votes and we only have eleven days to do it.  So VOTE Thrill of the Hunt and thank you in advance!

Follow this link–> http://t.co/nE2souOg8J @ChaseSmallBiz @ThrillofHunt ‪#‎ThrillofHunt‬

 

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Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt for Halloween in Latrobe, PA 10/19/13

Read about other scavenger hunt blog posts

Scavenger Hunts – Getting Our Start at Seton Hill University & Continuing
Singles Scavenger Hunt & MELODIME Show
Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt?
WannaBe 80’s Scavenger Hunt & a Puppy In a Day
Scavenger Hunts – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt!
Scavenger Hunt – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt! … Continued

 

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

Discovering Our Own Backyard – Johnstown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Flight with Harold the Helicopter

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.  ~Thomas Keneally

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Kyle with his beloved pap … they were always cuddling on the couch & Kyle loved his bottle … of water!

After reminiscing about My Senior Art Exhibit at Seton Hill University- ARTsylym, I couldn’t refer to that experience without including another, for they will forever be intertwined.

Even to this day, thinking about the events that unraveled on the evening of April 16, 2005 makes my heart race and pound out of my chest with fear and anxiety.  It has been nearly a decade, yet I can still remember that most horrible feeling sitting in my gut, but by the grace of God turned out just fine.

What happened?  Kyle was life flighted to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Let me set the stage to put things into perspective.  It was indeed Saturday night, April 16, 2005.  How do I remember the date?  Besides it being a horrible and memorable experience, earlier that day I was at Seton Hill University in Harlen Gallery with the rest of my group, Mike, Josh and Albert, setting up our senior show.  We left, preparing to return early the next morning, on Sunday to work throughout the day to get our art exhibit ready for Monday’s opening.  Sometimes plans don’t go as planned!

As I was leaving, literally pulling out of the parking lot around 11:00 pm or so, I got a call from my mom informing me, mom and dad had Kyle over at the emergency room in Latrobe.  YIKES!  Just hearing those words, your mind races through all horrible scenarios.

Graciously, mom clarified Kyle was alright but he was really sick and was throwing up massive amounts of mucus.  I knew when I picked him up on Friday, he didn’t seem like himself, so I knew he wasn’t feeling very good.  Even when I was hanging with him on Saturday during the day, he wasn’t a typical three year old.  Mom said he wanted to sleep with her and dad that night and as soon as his head hit the pillow, mucus erupted from his throat.  So much so he couldn’t breath.

Upon hearing this explanation for the emergency room visit, I was already in route to meet them in the waiting room.  You know the dreaded waiting room.  The one that seems to steal not only hours from your life, but it appears to remove days from the calender.

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My poor little sick man. He was at Latrobe Hospital with phenomenon again. I didn’t care, I would jump in bed & cuddle with my little man. 11/18/03

While barreling through the automated doors, I spotted Dad holding Kyle, a weak looking three year old, who fell asleep on dad’s shoulder.  Up until this point, Kyle was in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices with sever sinus issues, respiratory problems, ear infections that sort of thing. (Don’t tell me smoking around a baby doesn’t affect a child)  We were all too familiar with a sick kid.  Eventually, Kyle started to join the land of the healthy, once he had tubes put in his ears to help the drainage.  That and he also had his tonsils and adenoids removed, and later scrapped again, twice.

Once the nurse called Kyle’s name, indicating he was next in line, I happen to be holding my little man.  I followed the procession and walked him back to a weighing station.  The nurse instructed me to lye him down so she could weigh the package.  As soon as his head rested parallel with his body, he began projecting strands and strands of mucus!  It was a horrifying site!  The nurse, who was closer to Kyle, grabbed him and set him upright and started clearing out his throat so he could breath.  Once sitting perpendicular to the bed he was fine, but the minute he was lying down, he was drowning in mucus!

As soon as that happened, the other nurses came rushing over and called the doctors.  Almost immediately, they whisked him back into his own room and started an IV, sitting him upright of course.  Mom, dad and me scurried after the medical group, following Kyle.  We wanted to remain at his side so he wasn’t afraid, and to calm our own nerves.  There was always something about Kyle, and still is that calms us and puts us all at peace.  Perhaps it’s because he is a part of Ryan, my brother.  Having Kyle around means Ryan is still beside us.

The doctor checked Kyle, made some notes, left, came back, made more notes, left, came back, checked him, left and came back again.  Nurses and doctors were entering and exiting the room every few minutes, either poking him with something, or sticking him with a needle or pushing a tongue depressor down his mouth, or inspecting his ears and so on.  You name it, Kyle had everyone’s attention, which under normal circumstances he would have enjoyed.  Not so much this time, but Kyle was a pretty good sport, except for the IV.

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Me & Kyle reading a book at Idlewild Park for the Gutchess Company Picnic. c. 2002

Without much communication, the doctor finally pulled us out of the room to deal us in on the plans.  They had already called life flight from Children’s Hospital, they were taking Kyle as soon as the helicopter arrived.  WHAT?  I felt sick to my stomach!  Just hearing the words LIFE FLIGHT makes your mind race, especially when I didn’t fully understand the severity of the situation, nor the exact situation.

Please keep in mind I am no medical professional, so my details may be slightly off, but I clearly remember what he told us.  It appeared that Kyle had strep throat.  The doctor said he had to have had it for at least a week now, fever and all.  The infection caused his tonsils to touch, cutting off his airways.  He also had an ear infection (or both), which was compounding the situation.  So needless to say he was pretty sick!

The conversation was rushed, there was no time to stop and think.  They were in emergency mode and my head was in a whirlwind.

As I’m trying to comprehend what everything means, I got the weirdest question asked by the doctor, “How much do you weight?”.  What?   Really?  Apparently, they didn’t know how Kyle was going to be on the flight to Children’s Hospital, so they were considering having me hold him for the ride to Pittsburgh.  Without hesitation I agreed!

Almost immediately we were alerted that life flight landed and soon they would be taking Kyle.  I’m telling you what, everyone from the nurses, to doctors and the entire staff were all wonderful and very patient with us.  During our short stay there, they kept us informed and moved quickly for the sake of this little helpless boy.

It was at this time, I was informed that I couldn’t go with Kyle because they brought an extra doctor in case they needed to do an emergency tracheotomy.  What is going on?  Now hearing that, I about died!  This night went from bad to worse!

Mom, dad and me were allowed to go up to the roof to see Kyle off and to make sure he wasn’t going to panic or freak out.  As soon as he was wheeled out onto the roof and saw the helicopter waiting for him, he said, “Loot, Aiya it’s Harold!”  His eyes got big and a smile even made its appearance.  Going with it, we cheered Kyle on and built up the excitement, that he was going for a ride on Harold the Helicopter.

You see, for years, Kyle was a HUGE fan of Thomas the Tank Engines.  He had all the toys and miles upon miles of tracks, accessories and naturally he owned just about every cartoon video.  He LOVED Thomas the Tank!  The helicopter from the cartoon was named Harold, hence his association.  Almost too perfect!  God was helping us all through this ordeal.

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Joel Olczak (cousin) & a feisty Kyle at the Planinsek Pavilion. In the back to the left is Benny Scanlon (cousin) & to the right Jim Olczak (cousin). Kyle has always been a regular at family functions! c. 2002

We stood in the doorway, for we were not permitted out on the launch pad, waved and smiled, putting Kyle at ease, even though we were completely on edge.  Once the helicopter door shut and Kyle was out of sight, we all darted downstairs to get the car.  I drove us into Pittsburgh going probably way to fast for even a race car driver.  I thought my parents might yell at me, but instead all dad said was, “There’s no cops out, let’s get there.”  Meaning, speed to get us to Children’s Hospital.

We were told it takes about twelve minutes for life flight to get to Pittsburgh, I made the hour and half trip in twenty five minutes.  Yes, one might have guessed I was speeding and to be honest, I didn’t care in the slightest, for the only important thing in my life at that moment, was getting to Kyle.

I dropped mom and dad off at the main door to find Kyle’s room and sit with him while I parked the car.  This all happened so fast, I truly don’t even remember entering the building, nor do I remember parking the car.  I do remember running through the hospital frantic trying to find my family.  Low and behold, who did I manage to find?  Yep, one of the doctors who was on the flight that I just talked to not even twenty minutes earlier.  She gave me a shocked look and simply said, “I know you didn’t obey the speed limit to get here so fast.”  I  just smiled and gave a look, ‘Where is Kyle?”  After her judgement comment, she was very gracious and led me in the right direction.

Upon entering the room, I found Kyle in ICU with a T-shirt hanging over the bottom of his crib/bed and stickers near him.  Apparently, they found Kyle’s weakness for stickers and hooked the kid up.  Did I mention they were glow-in-the-dark helicopter stickers?  Boy was he excited!  I was excited for him.

Kyle was looking a little perkier, I’m sure it helped that he napped on the flight and the IV gave him an added boost.  I remember the smile Kyle flashed me when I walked in to join everyone.  He couldn’t wait to show me his stickers!  It was a bittersweet moment of joy and excitement for him, yet uncertainty for being in the ICU.  He went on to tell me about his ride in Harold, even though the doctors said he slept the entire ride down.  Believe it or not, this kid was on cloud nine!  I owe part of that to the doctors who transported him and played up the Harold card.  They helped turn this nightmare into a dream come true for our little three year old.

Herold the Helicopter Aunt Heather PiperOn a side note, after this ordeal, Kyle played with Harold the Helicopter in a whole new way.  Even when I watched him play or when I joined in, Harold the Helicopter took on a whole new meaning and transported people around, even the other tank engines.

All night long, dad sat by Kyle’s side, never leaving.  I sat most of the night by Kyle, for we were only allowed two people at a pop.  Finally by morning, Kyle was moved to a room and surprisingly, by later that day, the doctors informed us that he was getting discharged.  I stayed until the paperwork was official before heading back to Greensburg to join my group in setting up the ARTsylum show at Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill University.

Even though is was a frightful experience, it was also a blessing in disguise.  Not long after that incidence, Kyle had surgery on his ears; tubes put in, eventually a permanent tube; his tonsils removed; his adenoid removed and then later scrapped and scrapped again.  He was closely watched for additional ear infections and bouts with the croup and pneumonia, all he suffered with severely up until that point.

Do you know, Kyle remembers that helicopter ride to this day?  Or at least he remembers the idea of it, fortunately not in a bad way.  He recalls getting to ride in a helicopter and he’s acutely aware that not many people have that opportunity.  Of course his was a good reason, which I don’t ever bother to bring up, I let him have his helicopter ride.  In fact, when I purchased flight lessons for Kyle for his ninth birthday, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday he commented that he rode in a helicopter but never an airplane.

Without reservation I am truly grateful for the doctors and the complete medical staff at Latrobe Area Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.  Equally, everyone was wonderful, kind and sincere with Kyle and our family.  Mostly they helped to get him on the road to wellness while keeping him at ease.  They also started the process for his future medial procedures and monitoring, eventually getting him to healthy!

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

Respectfully Standing Up For Yourself

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.  ~Anne Frank

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Kyle digging into his basket on Easter Sunday morning. 2011

The one thing I learned quickly when Kyle was just a little tyke, was that he was indeed a person.  Not a half person, not a non-person, but a real life living and breathing person.  Just because he wasn’t a full grown human being and he had a lot to learn, didn’t make him any less of an individual.

Before Kyle could speak, he knew what was going on and remembered things, even though I’m sure he can’t recall those memories today.  My point is, children of all ages should be respected for who they are, and the person they will become.  Any and all interaction kids have with the world shapes them for the future at any age.  So my question is, why aren’t children treated with as much?

Maybe some are, but Kyle keeps having these situations of disrespect and dismissive behavior pop up, and they are truly upsetting me.  Kyle is being overlooked or worse, totally ignored by adults, complete strangers, in retail outlets.  Yes, I get it he’s a kid, but that doesn’t make what he’s doing any less important, especially if he’s trying to help me out by standing in line or retrieving items.  Common sense should dictate that the kid is twelve and obviously didn’t drive himself to the store, so one would think he has been asked to undertake a task for an adult.

I know these situations seem trivial, and they are, but there’s a lesson I want to teach Kyle now and that’s not to be taken advantage of or walked all over.  However, teaching a kid to stand up for himself, respectfully, which is the keyword, is a bit of a challenge.  At least one I’m facing.

This happened a few times in Giant Eagle.  To help my mom out, Kyle and I will get her groceries.  Great!  Nice gesture.  So in turn, Kyle will help me to expedite our order even faster by standing at the deli counter to get dad’s beef pastrami and cheese.  There has been countless (though not all the time) times adults would overlook the kid, obviously holding a ticket, and jump the line.  Not cool!  I bet they wouldn’t do that if I was standing there, or perhaps they would be that rude.  That’s one situation that annoys me, but the one that really gets me fired up, was the deli guy at Giant Eagle and his blunt disrespect for Kyle.

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Kyle at the Fort Ligonier’s Day Parade, in front of the Shriner’s Band. Ligonier, Pa. 10/2010

I was in the check-out isle and I totally forgot dad’s lunch meat.  Yikes!  So what does a gal do?  You guessed it, I volunteered Kyle to go and stand at the deli counter to retrieve the processed salty meat.  My hope was that Kyle would return with the goods before I paid.  However, knowing how notoriously slow they are, I accepted the fact that I was going to have to give Kyle money to go through the check-out while I take the groceries to the car.  No big deal.

Well, in Kyle’s eyes, I’m going through the check-out and he needed to hurry.  Nice gesture buddy!

He stood in the deli line like anyone else, pulled the ticket, like anyone else, and when it was his turn, those waiting in line respected my little man and accepted it as his turn.  Good so far, until the deli guy said to Kyle, “That’s ok, someone else will get you.”  and proceeded to skip over him totally and take the next customer in line.  Are you kidding me?  I was ticked beyond belief!  I didn’t know what had happened until we were out the door.  That was one of those times I wished I was standing right there!  The nerve.

You know people loosely talk about discrimination, well that’s exactly what happened!  I’m guessing he was discriminated because Kyle’s a kid, or perhaps for being a boy or maybe the deli guy knew what Kyle was going to ask for and didn’t want to get it?  I’m not sure the reason but it wasn’t right.

I’m actually a pretty relaxed person, and I don’t even care if people jump in front of me in line, especially if I’m not in a hurry, for perhaps they are.  But I will never stand for obvious disrespect toward me or my family.  Kyle was beside himself and didn’t understand the mean gesture.  He came back all stressed trying to hurry for my sake.

Taking this negative and trying to turn it into a positive, I want to use it as a lesson.  I’ve tried my best to tell Kyle, “Without an attitude you need to stand up for yourself and say, ‘Excuse me but I’m next’ or ‘It’s my turn’, but say it respectfully.”  In general, Kyle is not an assertive person and I get it, there’s a fine line of what a kid is allowed to say, but he needs to stand up for himself!

This didn’t just happen at the grocery store.  O no!  This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and me went to see Divergent.

On a side note, I loved it!  They really stuck to the book.  I can’t wait for Insurgent!  Kyle and me are fans of the book series (Aunt Nikki didn’t finish reading Insurgent or Allegiant yet).  Kyle actually read them all before me.

That particular movie theater, offered food items, one that caught Kyle’s eye was the soft pretzel.  I gave him money about eight bucks for his pretzel, while Nicole and I sat in our seats.

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Ryan, Kyle’s dad bathing in Gram’s tub. Look at that face! c. 1981

Kyle came back a little upset.  Apparently, someone cut in front of him in line.  That was the first thing.  Then, the cashier never gave him his change, correction my change.  My first thought was, “Well, Kyle did you say, “I’m sorry but it’s my turn in line?”  Of course he didn’t.  Then the money thing.  “Kyle didn’t you ask for your change?”  Of course he didn’t.  What is so wrong about that?  I don’t think I was over stepping my bounds of what I expect from Kyle.

Time and time again I keep telling him if there’s an issue come and get me.  Heck, he could have called me on his cell phone from the line and I would have been out instantly.  So basically I paid eight bucks for a soft pretzel with cheese, which really wasn’t the point.

While getting caught up on the pretzel situation, Kyle looked at me, like it was now my job to go out and fix it.  In my eyes it was too late.  Perhaps it wasn’t and I could have helped him out or showed him what to do.  Maybe I too was being too passive.  It wasn’t the loss of money, it was Kyle not standing up for what’s right that really gets me.

Kyle’s dad, Ryan was the same way.  Very nice, too nice to people and many, many, many people walked all over him and took advantage.  Not only as a kid, but more so as an adult.  One day, I’ll call out those who wronged Ryan, you be surprised for they are closer than you think.  Maybe it’s a family trait, for my pappy was the same way.  Just too nice and trusting, if there is such a thing.

I hope one day, and soon, Kyle learns to stand up for himself and always demands respect, as well as gives it.

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

Happy Birthday Aunt Nikki! The Big 40!

Life begins at 40 – but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.  ~Helen Rowland

Nicole-Piper-Senior-Picture-Class-of-1992-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole’s senior picture. Greater Latrobe Class of 1992

Today marks a truly momentous day, Aunt Nikki is the big 40!  Yes, my sister is officially over the hill, even though she’s resided on that hillside for some time now.  Giggle giggle.  (Unlike me, I’ll always remain on the other side.)  Or as Kyle used to say, “Aunt Nitti is ozer (over) the hill!” as he motioned going over and down a hill with his chubby little figures.

Nicole came from a time before the internet and email, when we still used rotary phones, listened to record players and tapes (heck dad still had his 8-track player in his truck), and before cable and satellite.  Nicole has lived through eight presidents and counting including Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.

Nicole has seen and accomplished a lot over these forty years, graduating from Penn State University in engineering, traveling the world over (sometimes with me), starting a side company (with me) and most importantly becoming Aunt Nikki, a title she does not take lightly.

So what has gone on over these last forty years from that faithful day, March 16, 1974?  A lot!  Let’s focus on 1974.

  • Blazing Saddles was the top movie of the year
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care Of Business” was a top, pop music single hit
  • Sadly, the Amityville horror happened in Long Island, New York on November 8th.  Six family members were shot dead
  • Richard Nixon becomes the 1st United States president forced to resign after the Watergate Scandal & President Gerald Ford gives unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon
  • 55 mph Speed Limit is imposed to preserve gas usage, nation wide
  • Sears Tower in Chicago becomes the worlds tallest building
  • President Ford announces an amnesty program for Vietnam War deserters & draft evaders
  • Gasoline shortages and price increases (guess some things never change)
  • On June 5th – Henry Kissenger convinces Syria & Israel to agree to a ceasefire on the Golan Heights
  • Work begins on the 800 mile long Alaska Oil pipeline
Nicole-&-Kyle-at-Chad's-wedding-2002-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole & our little man sipping on his bottle at my cousin Chad’s wedding Our little 1-year old – BYOB. 2002

Nicole shares her birthday with some famous people.  Here are a sampling:

  • James Madison – president
  • Curtis Lovell III – magician
  • Erik Estrada – actor
  • Alexandra Daddario – actress
  • Victor Garber – actor
  • Jim Bridger – explorer
  • Jerry Lewis – actor
  • Rupert Sanders – director (I had to throw that one in, because of the Kristen Stewart scandal)
  • Felisha Terrell – actress
  • Chuck Woolery (we loved watching Love Connect as kids!) – TV host
  • Tim Kang – actor
  • Walter Cunningham – astronaut
  • Sienna Guillory – actress

Please review the years of Aunt Nikki.  Moving clockwise, starting with the upper left corner, Nicole’s 15th birthday (yes that’s me to the right & my cousin Katie to the left), to the right Nicole’s 6th birthday (my cousin Casey to the left of Nicole and cousin Timmy to the right), below that is a her sophomore class picture – 1990, below is Nicole sitting with our cousin Chad for her 2nd birthday -1976 and finally to the left is Nicole’s 7th grade picture -1987. (Apparently she really, really loved those glasses!)

Happy Birthday Nicole!

Happy-40th-Birthday-Aun-Nikki-Aunt-Heather-Piper-3-16-14

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

More In Her Head Than an Aneurysm

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.  ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Markelle-Harden-c.-2006

Me & Markelle hanging at Connie Leeper Baker’s in Latrobe. c. 2006

Markelle has been a very dear friend of mine for so many years, I almost can’t even count that far back.  The first question I get asked when talking about my mon ami is, “How did she get her name?”  Good question, which I’ve asked her too.

I was told this story is two fold.  Markelle’s mom had a friend in high school who named her little girl Marquel.  The word on the street, literally,  was she saw a street with that name somewhere and got the idea.  (The girl’s maiden name is Marquel Province from Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania.)  About a year prior to Markelle’s birth, her poor mom had a still born, named Mark.  Once they had a beautiful baby girl, (they thought was a boy, like my parents thought about me before I was born)  they wanted to honor him.  So Markelle arrived! I always knew that lady was born with special significance!

Believe it or not, we met working at a local bar called Mr. Toads, waitressing and bartending.  She was a great person back then and she’s remained the same to this day.

Many, many giggles and good times always accompanied working with Markelle.  Way back when, she was going to the University of Pittsburgh and I was at the community college before I transferred to Seton Hill University.  If one of us was working and the other was hanging out, we would help the other clean up and such, without asking!  I’ve always admired Markelle’s strong work ethic.  She was and still is a hard worker, paving her own way in the world.  I respect that big time!

Yes, we had a blast!  Looking back on it now, Markelle instantly become a big part of my life, almost like a sister.  Heck, there were many a night we would sit with a beer in hand, and shoot the breeze for hours.  What a great gal!

Sincerely, I can’t speak highly enough about Markelle.  Truly, she is one of the most caring and considerate and encouraging friends I have.  She will help you with anything, but will never ever judge and will always stand by your side.  The best part?  Markelle tells you how it is, no sugarcoating, no lying, no fuss, no muss.  A straight up good soul.

We’ve stayed in touch over the years, even when she moved to Phoenix, Arizona.  I visited her a couple times, once when my sister lived in Tucson.  After hanging with Nicole, I went to stay with Markelle for a few days, killing two birds with one stone.   That was the trip we hiked Camelback Ridge Trail in Scottsdale.  For some reason I remember that day very fondly, it was a fun simple day hanging with Markelle. (Except it was really, really hot!)

Trying to convince my friend to move home, Markelle did eventually head for the east coast, but not as close as I suggested, my backyard.  She moved to North Carolina.  Ok, I’ll take that!  Again, to stay in touch we would take mini vacations to visit one another, meeting in the middle whenever we could.  Although, the best trip was the Hilton Head weekend with the girls.  Markelle was gracious enough to invite me with her friends from the south.  It was perfect weather in October and we hung out, relaxed, read, walked the beach, danced, all with a bunch of fun good-hearted ladies.  At the time it was exactly what I needed.  Markelle always knows what’s best.

Olivia-Harden-8-months-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Markelle & Eric’s daughter Olivia at 8 months old, showing her favoritism to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now don’t get me wrong, Markelle and I would talk on the phone, email and naturally Facebook to keep in touch through the long pauses between vacations.  Periodically, she would make it back to Pennsylvania.  Although I know it gets hard to see everyone on short trips, but whenever she wasn’t wrapped up with the family, we would get together to catch up.  Sometimes I would have Kyle, and Markelle had her daughter Olivia.  It’s funny how we went from hanging out in a smoke filled bar (yuck) to going to restaurants with the kids like responsible adults.  Notice I didn’t say mature, neither one us hit that milestone in our life yet.

We’ve been friends for so long, I often wonder how this happened.  The only sound explanation that I could possibly muster is simply our values.  Besides being a hard worker, Markelle shares a lot of the same conservative views I do.  We both try to walk in the way of the Lord and live a good strong morally sound life, relying on each other for advice and guidance.  Yep are basically alike in many way, just a couple of average chicks.

For some odd reason, out of all the nice things Markelle’s done for me, and let’s face it I could fill a book, the most memorable was the support I received after my brother died.  Typically, everyone is supportive, so what was so different about Markelle?  First let me say, Ryan’s death came as surprise to everyone, he was in a car accident, taken from us immediately and suddenly.  During this time, Markelle lived in Phoenix, so she was miles and miles away.  Naturally because of family, time, money, work, you know the drill we’ve all been through it, she wasn’t able to be at the funeral.  After Ryan passed, Markelle graced me with her presence in the simplest yet most heart felt way.  What did this creative young lady do?  She sent me a Vermont Teddy Bear!  Yes, she sent me a hug!

The weeks during the funeral were very hard and the weeks that followed weren’t that great either.  But for one day, the sun seemed to shine on me, telling me everything was going to alright.   That was the day I arrived home and received a box on my doorstep.  In it was this Teddy Bear with a card attached, simply saying she was sending a big hug my way.  It was a random day that brought with it a moment I really needed.  It was that moment that helped me start to heal.  She couldn’t be there, yet she was.  Markelle always knows what’s best for me!

When her dad passed away, I don’t think I even came close to helping her out like she did me.   I wanted to be a rock for her, but instead I was more like a pebble.  My heart bled for her and her family and I tried to send prayers their way.

So why am I talking about Markelle like I’ve just lost my best friend?  I am very happy to say that is NOT the case!  Nope, or this blog would be seriously taking a dangerous turn for the worse!  No worries, I expect Markelle to be around for at least a hundred years or so.  I simply wanted to take this time to show my appreciation for my friend before our inevitable end, whenever God chooses.

On a side note, personally I’m putting my dibs in to go first.  Not because I know Markelle will make sure the funeral runs smoothly and everything is organized, because she will, but loosing a jewel like Markelle would be truly heart breaking.

Why am I thinking about life and death?  Recently, Markelle had a brain aneurysm.  Yikes, is all I could say.  Then my next question, what the heck is a brain aneurysm?  Believe it or not I’ve heard of them, mostly associated with old people, but I never really knew what one was.  Thankfully, my other dear friend Holly happens to be my residential nurse, answering all of medical questions.

Apparently, it’s not a good thing!  Holly explained it to me in layman’s terms, emphasizing the severity of the situation.  Holy crap!  Then I heard she was going into brain surgery!  BRAIN SURGERY?  Seriously?  O my Markelle!  That’s when it really hit me!

Immediately I thought of getting on a plane and flying down to stay with her and help out with the family.  Why didn’t I?  Unfortunately at the time, I got really sick!  Bad timing!  My dad and I both had this sinus bronchitis thing that was really bad for a week and a half.  So heading to North Carolina to hang out with someone who was fresh out of brain surgery, would be very irresponsible and selfish of me.

Eric, her husband was the best at keeping all of her friends and family updated on her progress and her procedures.  I mean he did an outstanding job!  Even explaining the procedures and her symptoms so they could be understood by all.  What a trooper!

The result?  Markelle has been home for over a week now and she seems to be doing very well!  She is improving everyday from what I understand.  We’ve been Facebooking each other through private messages.  Good sign!

See, I’m convinced Markelle is no ordinary woman.  O no!  Besides being pretty and youthful in appearance and attitude, she is mighty in her will.  I hope that doctor took a good long look in her head, putting aside the stubbornness, to see her intelligence with a strong emphasis on common sense, to see a one of a kind gal.  I know in my heart God has even bigger plans for my friend.

Personally, I can’t wait till we’re both little old ladies.  My guess, we’ll both be feisty and fun!

I couldn’t image a world without Markelle.  She is proof that prayers do get answered!  God Speed to Markelle, her husband, her daughter, her family and all of her friends!

Markelle when you’re ready for a Piper visit, let me know.  I miss you terribly and I pray for you often.

Below are a few screen shots I took from the Facebook posts with respect to Markelle’s surgery.  Some were written by Eric and some Markelle.

Brain Aneurism news 1-17-14 Aunt Heather Piper

Brain Aneurism out of Surgery 1-17-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-17-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-18-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-22-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-22-14 Scary Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-29-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 1-29-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-8-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-12-14 Aunt Heather PiperBrain Aneurism 2-13-14 Aunt Heather Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Sweet Sounds of Music

Where words leave off, music begins.  ~Heinrich Heine

Kyle's-7th-grade-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle’s 7th grade band recital. My little trumpet player (yes when he stood up, that clip on tie came to the middle of his chest!) Yikes! 2013

On Sunday Kyle had his youth group Christmas play.  His role?  The light man of course.  Yep!  He stood at the light switch and turned it off and on.  Remember there are no small parts and everyone has a role to play, just like life.  Everyone can’t be the star and in Kyle’s case, over the years he played a shepherd and one of the kings.  He had his fill and wanted to participate backstage.  Nothing wrong with that!  He did a great job!  Even with his not-so-center-0f-stage-role, Kyle attended all the practices and always gave his best.  That’s my buddy, if he’s going to do something, he will give it his all.

As I was sitting there, watching the kids get situated and ready to perform for their parents, a family friend, who was also Kyle’s second grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs. DePalma (Kyle loved her to death!) came over to me to chit chat.  On a side note, Mrs. DePalma is such a sincere, friendly, warmhearted person!  The kind who instantly spreads joy and good cheer to everyone around her.  Knowing her is a true blessing.  Her one daughter Angie, married one of my cousins.  So I guess we are related!

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Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle was the lighting technician. 1/5/13

Anyway, as we sat there talking, she informed me that she just talked to Kyle, admitting she drew a blank with his name, as he did with hers.  Too cute!  I’m sure Kyle was thrown off his game, since he always did like and respected Mrs. DePalma, and she gave him the little extra attention he craved.  She asked me what role Kyle was playing and we both giggled a little at our lighting technician.

As we sat there, I noticed they had a keyboard set up to play music throughout the play.  I commented that Kyle could have played a few songs.  Mrs. DePalma was intrigued asking me about his piano playing.  Naturally, like a proud mama (aunt) I told her, “He’s been playing the piano since he was six years old.”  Her eyes perked up and she was really impressed.  So I continued, “Yep, he’s really pretty good.  He doesn’t have the drive to practice at home, but he loves playing with is instructor and in front of family.”  Then, I informed her that he briefly took up the guitar and he plays the trumpet in school.  Of course, I couldn’t stop.  Normally, I don’t like bragging, well that’s not true when it comes to Kyle, but I couldn’t help myself.  Informing Mrs. DePalma that Kyle is in band class at his school, and he tried out and made it for jazz band.  Her face lit up!  And you know what?  It was in all sincerity and pride.  She loves to see kids doing well, not to mention she new Ryan and she knows what Kyle means to us.  (Her daughter Angie, the one I just referred to, was in Ryan’s class all the way from Sacred Heart Elementary School to Greater Latrobe High School graduation).

Kyle-playing-trumpet-7th-grade-jazz-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle playing the trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. (look how short that clip on tie is? YIKES!) 2013

Kyle is musically talented, there is no denying it.  Now, I’m not saying he is a musical genius or a child prodigy, because he’s not.   But he does enjoy music, always has, and he seems to enjoy playing (except when I make him practice).

This past fall, Kyle had a band assembly at his school and mom and I attended.  One another side note, Kyle just expects us to be there at a moments notice.  He called us the day of the event, two hours before hand to be exact, and informed us of the activity.  On Kyle’s defense I guess he told my dad, but that’s like telling Kyle.   No fear, mom and I were there!  It was held in the school’s gym and the seventh and eighth grade students performed as well as their high school marching band.  You know what?  I was quite impressed!

Kyle's-Youth-Group-Christmas-Play-1-5-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle handled the lights! 1/5/13

First of all, Kyle had on a nice pressed white button down shirt (sleeves rolled to the elbows), nice dress slacks, black socks, black dress shoes and a black tie.  Mom and I were floored!  He looked so grown up!  The only comment we both made was his tie.  It stopped at the middle of his chest.  Yikes!  It looked ridiculous.  So I made my way down to the horn section to offer assistance with the tie tying, thinking it just needs retied.  Low and behold, it was a clip-on tie!  What?  Ok, no point in making it into a bid deal, especially since the rest of him looked spot on.  As to not break the positive comments toward Kyle, I will not get into our shopping experience during Christmas for a real tie, not a clip-on.  I’ll save that one for a rainy day.

As we left, mom mentioned about buying the kid a nice tie.  Good idea mom!  However, we forgot until his next assembly right before Christmas.  Now it was too late!  This assembly was held in their auditorium and the kids were on stage.  While mom and I got settled in, we read over the program book.  Funny thing.  Kyle’s name had an asterisk by it.   We both looked at each other and at the same time said, “What did he do?” half joking.

Kyl's-7th-grade-jazz-band-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle playing trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. Look’in good! 2013

Mom and I were front and center, focused on Kyle.  As the program began and we started intently watching the kid.  He did something too comical, not intentionally.  As he started to play, that little man dropped his sheet music and he began to scramble to retrieve it.  Mom and I gave a bit of a chuckle since it was too cute.  Plus, let’s not forget his lack of flexibility reaching for the pieces of paper while sitting and trying not to disturb his neighbors, all while trying to continue to play.   Yep!  He’s definitely my nephew!

After the kids in his grade played a few tunes, they gathered the jazz band to the side of the stage.  Incidentally, the same side mom and I were residing.  Boy we know how to pick our seats!

Kyle completely ignored us the entire way through, which is fine because besides being too cool to have an aunt and a grandmother (Gigi) I know he gets nervous.

Both assemblies were very impressive, especially the marching band for the earlier musical assembly.  It’s funny, we never knew Kyle was in the jazz band.  Now don’t get me wrong, he did a great job!  I could also tell he seemed to enjoy it.  It wasn’t till after his second assembly, did we find out that he had to audition for said activity.  Wow!  That’s great buddy!  Good job!

Kyle-playing-trumpet-jazz-band-7th-grade-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

7th grade – Kyle playing the trumpet … looking good, staying focused!   Also looks like that kid is holding onto the sheet music!  2013

Kyle, that kid never ceases to amaze and impress me.  He is also surprising, in all good ways.  Apparently, he is planning on joining the marching band when he’s older.  Being very ecstatic over this comment, I told him I’ll be a band parent (aunt)!  Ya, Kyle just rolled his eyes and was like ‘O boy’.   I ensured him it would be a great time and I’d make it really fun.  Plus, if they don’t do band trips, I’ll help to get those kids traveling.  That didn’t entice him, at ALL!  We’ll see.

I am really happy he found his interest, and that it’s in music!  I hope it’s very rewarding for him!

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

Perfect Gift – The Ugly Quilt!

Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.  ~Lenore Hershey

Aunt-Nikki's-Ugly-Quilt-Quilts-by-Reese-12-24-123-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The Ugly Quilt, made from Nicole’s old quilt & my old childhood quilts originally made in 1976. Perfect Christmas idea! 12-24-13

Like many others, we go through the same list of questions every year for Christmas, ‘What do we want to get Nicole?” and “What should we get dad?”  Naturally, if we had unlimited resources, it wouldn’t be so difficult but let’s come back to reality, most people have budgets, at least I do.  Every year, generally speaking, some great idea takes shape to give the perfect gift.  Me, mom and Kyle were blessed with two great ideas.

Giving is great, I truly mean that!  However, I don’t like to give because I have to, or it’s the thing to do.  Nope, if I’m giving someone something, it’s because I mean it and I’m excited to surprise them with usually an unconventional gift.  That’s my favorite, the perfect gifts or practical ones.  I am very much a practical and simple type of gal.  Yes, I love receiving socks (the Under Armor running socks or good wool hiking socks etc) and blenders and books and running shoes and so on and so forth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love frivolous too!  Such as jewelery or collectables, but I’m also equally happy with practical presents.

Last year, we got mom framed pictures.  Not just any pictures, but an old photo of all the cousins (close ones) and a recent shot of the same picture taken at the same location as the original, Twin Lakes Family In A Photo – Looking Back showing us all grown up.  Boy was she surprised!   Perfect!

Close-up-of-Nicole's-Ugly-quilt-Quilts-by-Reese-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-24-13

Close up of Nicole’s quilt courtesy of Quilts by Reese. Perfect Christmas gift! Nicole never suspected it! 12/24/13

Who got the perfect gift this year?  There was a tie.  Dad and Nicole owned it!

First, lets start with Nicole.  What to get a gal who gets herself basically what she wants, when she wants it?  That was easy, something she wants and forgot she had.  This past summer while cleaning out mom and dad’s house, we came across Nicole’s old quilt.  Nicole and I both had matching quilts of different color schemes, given to us for Christmas in 1976.  They were nice twin sized quilts that kept us warm and cozy throughout our childhood and even into our twenties.  Nicole however, LOVED her quilt and drug, literally drug it around with her EVERYWHERE!  As a kid, she would drag it to the living-room to watch TV, through the kitchen, out on the porch and into the yard.  She would eat with it, sleep with it, and I bet she even drug it into the shower a time or two.  That quilt was like her giant “blanky”.  She even took it to college with her!  That is until it really fell apart.  I mean about half of it was MIA.  Over the years pieces of it would rip off, but she kept dragging it along.

Aunt-Nikki's-Ugly-Quilt-front-&-back-Quilts-by-Reese-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-24-13

Front & back of the Ugly quilt… combination of mine & Nicole’s old quilts from 1976. Nicole loved her quilt & now she kind of has it back! Perfect Christmas gift. Thanks Quilts by Reese! 12/24/13

What to do?  Call upon my friend Holly who makes quilts on the side Quilts by Reese to aide me in this perfect Christmas gift idea of course.  No, her thing is not to revitalize old torn up and extremely used quilts, but she agreed to help me out as a favor for a long time running friend.

Where to begin?  No clue, I delivered the pile of scrap fabric, which is what it basically was once it was washed one last time.  Holly took it from there.  Since finding fabric to match, texture and color wise, proved to be problematic, I gave Holly my old quilt, which was almost in perfect condition (you could tell I didn’t have such an affinity for my quilt like Nicole did hers) to tear up and use as needed.

Eventually, about a third of the quilt was Nicole’s original and the rest was mine.  It worked out perfectly since both quilts had the exact same fabric and patterns, just different color schemes.  The backing needed to be completely replaced as well as the trim, but it turned out nicely!  Better than expected actually!  Holly did an amazing job on such a difficult mission!  And she had it done well before Christmas!

With everything I do, it’s always an adventure.  As the quilt was being torn apart and assembled again, Holly would give me updates on the “ugly” quilt.  From what I gathered, it was a bit of a bugger with the thick seams and old seventy’s stretchy fabric.  Personally, I loved the name, ugly quilt and so it stuck!  Holly hated the quilt, that is until the end.  She said, “It’s so ugly it’s starting to look cute and wear on me.”  Yep that’s what happens when you put your heart and soul into something.  The fondness grows.  Now granted, Holly wasn’t so attached to it that she couldn’t give it back, but I could tell she sewed herself into the Piper quilt.

Aunt-Nikki's-Ugly-Quilt-Quilts-by-Reese-Aunt-Heather-Piper-12-24-13

Combination of my old quilt & Nicole’s originally made in 1976. Perfect Christmas gift – Quilts by Reese 12-24-13

On a side note, one text message I received from Holly include a very close-up shot of the quilt fabric.  The text message asked me if Nicole had a bird?  Why yes she did!  How did Holly know?  Apparently, there was bird seed embedded in some of the fabric.  Only my sister!  That sounds about right.  Not to mentioned all the food stains all over her fabric.

It’s funny when I look at the quilt, I don’t see an ugly old seventy’s patchwork quilt.  Nope, I see our childhood!  And I know Nicole feels the same way.

Now the most important questions.  Was Nicole surprised?  And did she like the quilt?  Yes and yes.  She had no idea, none, not an ounce with respect to her Christmas gift.  Of course, it’s easy to keep things a secret from her when she lives two hundred miles away.  Kyle couldn’t wait to give her the blanket, although I could tell he didn’t see the importance and feel the true excitement like me, mom and dad, (well maybe me and mom) but it was still fun.

Quilts by Reese Facebook Post Ugly Quilt Aunt Heather PiperHolly wanted to see tears in Nicole’s eyes and urine on the floor from the surprise and happiness.  Well, neither happened and I’m personally more grateful for the later not occurring, but Nicole was presently surprised.  (Avery peed on the floor and that counts!)  I would love to show a picture of the original quilt, however I couldn’t find any pictures.  Actually, that’s not entirely true, I did find one, but since then I misplaced it.  I’ll look for the darn thing.

Now dad’s perfect gift.  Mom came up with the idea and me, Nicole and Kyle were totally on board.  Great idea!  So what was this perfect gift?  Easy it was …to be continued.

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

Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Westmoreland County

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.  ~L.M. Montgomery

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Another shot of the cabin, hanging out, relaxed & peaceful. I sat on the steps for a few minutes watching deer & remembering the stories that surfaced from this place…. 2013

… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

On Wednesday, dad and I hunted on a friend of mine’s property.  My friend Susan was kind enough to let us take a shot at some new surroundings.  Pun totally intended!  Her kids shared the knowledge of a few buck sightings.  Why not?  We haven’t had any luck at this point, at least not in Pennsylvania.  Did we see anything?  Dad did!  But he said it wasn’t a legal buck, so no shot.  If Kyle was with him, Kyle would have been able to shoot, since he is not limited to the number of points.  Even though we came back unsuccessful, we found our new hunting spot for next year.  Dad and I both LOVE the area.  There are plenty of deer and it’s really a nice piece of property.  Not the cliff of death with spiderweb brush to get caught up in, like Green County.  And not that far away, maybe forty-five minutes.  Dad can also get around on his quad safely and I must admit, walking was a lot easier and very enjoyable.  Can’t wait for next year!

By Saturday, Kyle joined us back in the woods by my parent’s house in Westmoreland County, on my cousin’s property.  Finally, we were blessed with a fresh coating of white fluffy snow!  It really was so peaceful and pretty.  Early that morning dad and I saw a couple of deer running down through the woods, but no shot was obtainable at that angle.  Saturday opened up doe season.  We were permitted to shoot buck (three points on one side) and doe.

I’m beginning to think it’s not me that causes our adventures, it’s Kyle!  While sitting on a log, Kyle wanted to walk back to the house to use the restroom and grab a quick bite.   Anyone and everyone who knows dad, is well aware he doesn’t stop hunting for anything, not for food, not for drink, for nothing unless he drops a deer and is dragging it out of the woods.  Kyle was in shock over this revelation but wouldn’t give in.  Naturally, I was elected to head back with our halfway hunter, even though I wanted to stay and hunt.

While Kyle was doing his business I made a thermos of hot chocolate for us and I made dad a thermos of coffee.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the hot chocolate might not have been the best decision.

Party-Cabin-in-the-woods-Aunt-Heather-Piper

As I was pushing deer for dad during hunting season, I walked past the cabin (a.k.a. the party shack) that my brother & cousins built. Why? For no reason … very peaceful 2013

When I finally got back to dad, taking a different route to try and push the deer in his direction from lower on the hill, I gave dad his coffee to warm him up a bit.  Dad asked “Where’s Kyle?”  Replying while I rolled my eyes, “No clue, probably a mile down the road.  You know how slow he moves and he knows the way.”  A few minutes later dad said, “I’m going to walk over to the other side of the road to look to see if anything is moving.”  Just then, here comes our great white hunter, dragging his feet up the road.  Dad turned to me and said, “Never mind.  If there was anything, they’re gone.”  That was so funny!   I did give a chuckle, as dad rolled his eyes and grinned.  We love our Kyle to death, but he can be challenging.

So we sat, and sat, waiting for movement.  Nothing.  Then Kyle takes out the thermos of hot chocolate, clicks the cap to get the liquid rolling, blows (loudly) to cool it down, then slurps up the warm drink.  Dad turned to look in our direction with a look of, ‘What is going on over there?’  It was Kyle drinking his hot chocolate as loudly as he drags his feet.  Dad was starting to loose his cool.  As per reading dad’s body language, I told Kyle to put it away and don’t get it out again.  I couldn’t believe how loud he was!  Of course looking back on it now, we can laugh over the situation, but not when the pressure was on and no deer dropped in Pa.

Dad and I continued to hunt on Monday and Tuesday.  No luck, but a lot of snow!  We went around my parents house.  I walked a few miles each day, trying to push deer, but nothing.  I love those woods, I am very familiar with them and it’s really nice stepping out the door and walking or riding the quad to our hunting spots.

Dad continued to hunt Wednesday morning.  It was more of an adventure when the dogs got out and decided to go on a day trip.  It was even better when dad and I saw them head up through my cousin’s field and they ignored dad yelling, turned and headed up through the woods.  Dad was like lightening on the quad after them, like he was the lone ranger.  Those stinkers eluded dad all the way up onto Frosty Lane.  The chase was on.  Even Gigi was calling from work while she was tracking them, as was I.  While this was going on, I would call and give dad the valuable intel of their location.  Dad said once he rounded the bend and saw Scooby, he dropped his head like ‘We’ve been discovered, our fun has come to an end.”  You see during hunting season, it’s happened when hunters will shoot the beloved four-legged friends, especially if the dogs were chasing deer.  Mean, I know!  Something none of us would EVER do, but it has happened and we desperately didn’t want to experience it for ourselves.

While tracking them I realized our boys went a lot further than we’ve ever seen them.  They also seemed to follow my lead, the same course I was pushing deer for dad from the day prior.  Obviously the dogs were mad because we kept leaving them in the house while we went through the woods hunting.  What a pair of spoiled dogs!

All in all, it was a pretty good year.  God blessed us with a buck and a doe, dad shot and a buck Kyle shot.  That meat is already butchered, wrapped and awaiting to be called upon from the freezer to be made into a meal.  Yes we gut, skin and butcher our own deer, every year.  That way you are certain it is done right and it’s your deer, no question.

Even though it was an unsuccessful hunting year for me personally, it was a great year!  Kyle and dad filled their tags and we all had a great time hanging out with each other.  Family time, nothing beats it!  There’s always next year.

Read our hunting adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued
Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

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

Our Hunting Adventures … Pennsylvania – Green County

One eye sees, the other feels.  ~Paul Klee

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Kyle’s buck, way to go buddy!! 2013

…Continued Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

New York hunting always starts before Pennsylvania hunting, which increases our odds of filling the freezer with meat.  In Pennsylvania, the first day of buck is the first Monday after Thanksgiving.  The day of excitement!  Generally speaking, most schools in Western Pennsylvania give kids that Monday off, simply because a lot of kids hunt, including Kyle.

The Saturday before hunting season started this year, dad had me and Kyle went to the property where dad hunts in Green County.    What town?  I have no clue where I was except we had to pass through Waynesburg to get there.  All I knew, we had to take down yet another tree stand, and move it up hill.  Up this steep hill.  Up the steep hill with no clear path.  Did I mention it was up hill and the hill was steep?  Plus the ground was soft and muddy, which didn’t make the move easy.  Once dad picked his new spot, (sometimes that takes a while for him to evaluate his surroundings and pick the perfect tree) I had to get back in the tree stand and secure it.  I’m actually getting pretty good at it especially after What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand and What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued.

Now for the directions to my pre-chosen hunting spot, courtesy of dad.  The old man wanted me to find the tree stand before hunting so I was acclimated to the area.  Actually, great idea!  He also wanted me to physically sit in the tree stand, ensuring it was stable and secure.  Ok, good thinking!  Now for the directions to the Directionally Challenged, Dad said:

Follow this path up and at the large poplar tree make a left, go up the hill and off to the left you’ll see the tree stand facing uphill.

Again, there wasn’t really a clear path.  And, in a forest full of trees, which I’m sure there are more than one poplar tree, I had to find a big one.  What kind of directions are these?  Granted, it was daylight this time, but still sometimes looking for a black camouflaged tree stand can be tricky.  Again, Ryan must have came down from heaven to point out the tree, because when I saw it, I knew that was the one dad was referring to.  At one point, Kyle trekked up to see what I was up to, and I could  tell he was given the same instructions.  Luckily, he saw me in the tree and made a straight path for my stand.  When we left together, Kyle questioned, “Is that the big poplar tree pappy was talking about?”  I laughed and said, “I guess so.”

You think these types of directions are rare?  Nope!  Even up by my parents house dad’s directions include, “Out by the big poplar tree.” and “Over by the huge oak off the bank.” and “Beside the birch trees” and so on and so forth.  Dad’s lucky I usually can identify the trees, but not always.  I didn’t work in the woods my entire life like he did.  To dad, each tree is as unique as a street sign.

Monday, the first day of buck in Pa.!  I will admit, it was a long day.  Not only did it take us about an hour and a half to get to our hunting spot in Green County, plus the return trip, but we had to basically make our way up a cliff in the mud to get to our tree stands.  With every step uphill, we slid back two.  My tree stand, which used to be Ryan’s was furthest up the hill, past dad and Kyle’s hunting spot.  I’ll give dad credit, I’m in reasonable shape and my breath was labored walking up the path through the woods and handled the trip like a champ.  Good old Kyle was huffing and puffing along the way.

Usually the first day of buck is exciting, not this time.  There was almost no one hunting, which means no one pushing the deer either.  I did see a couple of doe up further on the hillside, but again we were only allowed to shoot buck and they had to have two points plus the brow point.  Dad and Kyle saw NOTHING!  Boring!

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Kyle & his hot chocolate.. I’ve never heard someone make so much noise with their drink before! 12/7/13

On a side, there were a bunch of turkeys making another ruckus.  Not as many as Our Hunting Adventures … New York but enough to bring a smile to my face.

Kyle always seems to make the days interesting.  One of the trips to see me, he came straight up in my tree stand, pushed me aside and plopped himself down.  It look like he just set up camp!  We were both cracking up, just because he seriously is so funny!

Then, I could tell he couldn’t wait to share his experience with me, probably because he knew I would get a kick out of it.  Which I totally did!

Kyle started by saying, “Well, Aunt Heather let me tell you about my morning.”  Seriously?  What a trip!  He continued, “First pappy knocked my bag, with all of my food off the tree stand onto the ground.  Then, I got deer poop on my hand.”  As he was showing me his hand (cleaned).  What!  What?  “Kyle, how on earth did you get deer poop on your hand in a tree stand?”  I was seriously wondering what the heck those two were doing.  Kyle said dramatically, “Well, when I was climbing up the ladder to get back in the tree stand, pappy must have tramped in deer poop and got it on the ladder and I put my hand in it.”  Gross!  Even worse, he knew I was totally grossed out and he continued on about the deer poop story.  “Ya and pappy had to pour my water onto my hand so we could get it out.”  I’m trying not to fall out of my stand laughing at this kid!  Then, the ultimate, he kept touching my arm with THE hand.  I said, “Stop touching me with the poop hand!”  He must have thought that was an invitation because he began patting me on the head with THE hand.

Later, dad retold the story and said, “That kid!  And how did he know I was the one who tramped in the deer poop, the deer scat?  No, it couldn’t have been him?” (sarcasm) On a side note, we find humor in calling the deer poop, scat.  So we exaggerate that word every time we see it or reference it.  Dad elaborated, “Ya we had to use all the water and you should have seen him scrubbing his hand and wiping it on me.  That kid!”  That’s our Kyle.

After, we calmed down, Kyle decides he has to go to the bathroom.  What?  Now the truth comes out.  He didn’t just visit me to see how I was doing, he came up so I would hang with him while he went to the bathroom in the woods.  You see dad said, “If you have to go to the bathroom, you’re walking back to the truck and doing it there.  I don’t want you going [to the bathroom] around our tree stands and hunting areas.”  Reiterating dad, I said, “You’re not going here! Go back to the truck, it’s not that far.”  Hesitantly, “Ya but I’ll probably get lost, I’ll just go around here.”  What?  No!

So what did I do?  I walked him up and over the hill, which happened to be the property line and let him use that area.  “Kyle I’m going back to the tree stand, when you’re done, go back the way you came, OK?”  He also commented, “Don’t tell pap until we get back to the truck.”  With my reply, “Ya right!   I’m tell him as soon as I see him.”  In my mind, I’m also telling his Aunt Nikki and Gigi about the situation.  Obviously he didn’t want to tell pappy and have to walk to the truck.

A little while later, I thought I saw Kyle at the top of the hill, walking down the wrong side, but then he disappeared.  Only to reappear again, standing at the top of the hill looking around.  I was cracking up, the kid got lost!  Finally, he was looking in my direction and I waved.  Kyle waved back!  Too funny!  Seriously, how can he not see me?  I’m up in a tree, probably close to his eye level, just a little distance away, wearing bright orange!  I stand out like a sore thumb.  Whatever.

Once he made his way back, he jumped up in my tree stand to confess the obvious.  I couldn’t resist asking, “Did you get lost?”  He smiled and confirmed my suspicion while we giggled over his actions before heading back to hang with his pap.

Leaving the day defeated, but having a truly fun day, we headed home.  Later on, we found out there wasn’t any action going on around my parents house either.  No one was seeing deer this year and especially not bucks.  How can that be?  There are at least a dozen or so dead deer along side the highways?

Dad and I went back to Green County to try our luck on Tuesday.  The same old nothing, however I did see the same couple of doe in about the same location.  But aside from that, zip!   I even hiked the hillside trying to push the deer out for dad.  Let me tell you, my butt and quads were burning!  That is one steep hillside and it was full of thick brush, which makes it really hard to walk through.  Tuesday heated up a bit and no movement from the deer.

Actually the only excitement came from dad.  Some hunter on the adjacent property, which apparently dad had words with in previous years, cut through the hunting area were dad and I were sitting, to try and push deer onto his property.  Dad yelled at him to stay on his own property and that was the last of it.

Read our hunting adventures of 2013

Our Hunting Adventures … New York
Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

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

Our Hunting Adventures … New York Continued

One day in the country
Is worth a month in town  ~Christina Rossetti

Kyles-buck-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s buck of 2013 .. Good job buddy!

… Continued Our Hunting Adventures … New York

It’s always an adventure with the Piper clan.  On Sunday morning, November 17th, when it was still pretty dark, I saw an animal with a very bright white, almost glowing fur coat, sneaking around the forest floor below me.  It was kind of the size of a squirrel, but didn’t move like a squirrel.  In fact, it moved more like a ferret.  Keep in mind it’s still pretty dark, but I could see the critter clearly.  Being completely intrigued I watched it move around for a good fifteen or twenty minutes with my flashlight, seeing what it was up to and trying to get a good look at it.  I really wanted to identify the unknown animal.  After it moved on, I forgot all about the creature until we were back at the motel room and I described it to dad.  Apparently,  I saw a weasel.  Too cool!  This is a perk about hunting, not to mention the sounds of nature, being out in the fresh air, seeing the beauty God has provided, harvesting meat for the table, but also seeing these creatures, which I would normally never see.

We were blessed on Saturday with mild weather.  Actually, a perfect hunting day.  Sunday was a mix of rain and rain and wind.  Monday wasn’t too bad, just windy.  We were all hoping for snow, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Why snow?  It makes it so much easier to see the deer and to hear them.  Plus, the woods are so pretty when it snows, especially when the branches catch the white powder appearing as if the snow is held in mid air.  I love the outlining effect of the trees in white, like the snow stretched up from the ground to fill the tips of the trees.  Love it!

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Dad & Kyle hunting in Green County. Kyle was probably dragging his feet through the leaves…our little Peeta! 12/2/13

On Saturday, I had a chance at a small buck in the brush.  As I lined it up in my sights, I remember dad saying, “If your gonna shoot, make sure you have a good shot and shoot it in the shoulder to take it down.  We don’t want to have to track the deer.”  You see dad doesn’t believe in unloading your gun on one deer.  Line up your target and then take your shot.  If you need a second bullet then use it, but not your entire arsenal.  He feels you should get it on one shot, which usually he does!

As I watched the buck move swiftly through the brush, I looked ahead to see an opening in a direct line with his path.  Perfect!  I thought I’ll wait for the deer to walk into the clearing and then take it down with one clean shot.  As I watched the buck go behind the trees, I noticed it never came out to my preplanned drop zone.  As I tracked it in my scope, I saw the buck turned and walked up over the hill!  What?  When I saw this, the only shot I had was between the trees, through the brush and at its rear-end.  Not good!  That’s not an appropriate shot and one I would never take.  If I’m taking a shot it’s to drop the deer and not have it suffer and run off.  Can you believe it?  Apparently, the buck didn’t get the memo to keep walking straight into my line of sight!  O well.  Looking back on it now, dad and I both agree I should have just taken the shot in the brush.  Dad commented, “You never know unless you try.”  Good point old man!

When it comes to deer hunting, there is no one I trust more than dad.  He has dropped hundreds of deer from the time he was nine years old.  Plus, he’s been a woodsman most of his life and he seems to speak deer.  Really!  He has this sixth sense about them, like he can read their minds.  He is a truly great hunter!

Once Saturday came and left, Sunday arrived.  After sitting for most of the morning seeing nothing, to break up the day, I headed down the hill toward dad and Kyle.  Once I got there, dad had us walk around to see if we could push the deer.  Finally, dad gets me!  He’s starting to catch on to Kyle too, realizing we can’t sit for too long, we get antsy and silly and loose focus.  All the things dad is not keen on in the woods. He takes hunting very seriously, rightfully so.

On another side note, in New York it is legal to hunt on Sunday, not like Pennsylvania.  So we were able to hunt all weekend into Monday.

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Dad hunting in Jim’s woods … we finally got snow! 12/7/13

Did we see any deer on Sunday?  Nope, but with my little man making a herd of noise, I couldn’t image why not.  I was watching Kyle walk through the leaves.  Instead of picking up his feet, he was dragging them through the forest floor!  What?  Eventually, I started to loose my patience snapping at the kid, “Pick up your feet Kyle!”  With a response of “I am Aunt Heather!”  After walking a few feet and standing there waiting on my slow poke noise maker to catch up, Kyle started to chuckle and said, “Call me Peeta!”  I was dying!  That was too funny!  Perfect reference to The Hunger Games.  Unbeknownst to my friend Kelly, she texted me that night asking how Katniss, referencing me, was doing on my hunting expedition.  Later I told her, perfect timing of her text and seriously how funny it was.  Good one guys!

After leaving dad and Kyle and heading back up the hill, the very steep and butt burning hill, and after getting slightly twisted around, I had another opportunity in the form of a doe.  I was on the ground and was getting situated when I saw a doe approach.  It was standing between trees without a good shot.  To be honest, during hunting season the deer are a bit skittish, rightfully so, and any movement will spook them.  Bringing my rifle up and resting it back down was out of the question.  I had to hold my rifle up until she walked into sight.  By that time my arm was shaking all around and was exhausted.  Then, I took the shot… and missed!   I reloaded immediately, but again her butt was facing me as she darted out onto a different property line, leaping out of sight.  I went to the scene to see if I could start tracking some blood, but nadda.  Nothing.  No hit.  Dang!  Seriously, nothing would make me happier than to be able to provide deer meat for the family freezer.  Not to mention, it would make dad very proud and happy to see me get a deer.  That’s fine, we still have the rest of the season in Pennsylvania.

After the excitement of the day, I made my way back down to dad and Kyle, where we all jumped on the quad and headed out for the day.  This road, I was totally familiar with, since it was the same one we used in the summer when we were here moving dad’s tree stand.  What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand… Continued This road, or I should say quad path, was like a roller coaster ride, straight up the hill, uneven and washed out in some areas, and topped off with obstacles.  Let’s not forget the roads were extremely muddy from the rain and slick.  Kyle and I loaded on the back of the quad with our feet hanging over while dad drove.  Dad keeps his rifle around his neck and normally I sling mine around my body and wear it on my back, but that would mean the barrel would be pointing in Kyle’s direction.  Not good!  So Kyle positioned his rifle around his neck facing the woods and I held onto mine, pointing toward the ground.  Where they loaded?  You bet, in case we did see any deer.  It wasn’t dark yet and we had a nice little trek to get back to the truck.  Granted, we had the safety on to not chance any accidents, but the opportunity was there to take a shot at a run away deer.

Just as we got on the back of the quad, both me and Kyle, at the same time, leaned in toward each other and said, “Hang on!”  We cracked up!  Kyle said, “Pappy thinks he’s driving a tank and he’s invincible on this thing.”  I was laughing!  He was speaking the truth, yet it was seriously funny coming from his mouth and straight from his very own observation.

The entire ride on the back of the quad was a bumpy, hang on, white knuckle ride.  At one point we were so vertical, my feet could touch the ground and I had to pick them up before I scrapped mud.  Dad didn’t admit it, but I truly think we had a least one wheel off the ground.  Then, let’s discuss the swimming pool sized mud puddles.  Every time dad went through one, I thought we were going to sink to China.  Yet we made it safely through with every pass.

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Later day view from my tree stand… hunting in Cortland, NY 2013

I  hunted for half a day on Monday, before saying bye to dad and heading home.  Kyle had school and I had work to get done and dad was planning on staying until the weekend.  We had so much fun, both Kyle and I wanted to stay with dad, if for anything else to give him some company.  Even hanging out in the motel room was fun, joking around and discussing the days events.

Dad told a lot of deer hunting stories and talked about Ryan a lot.  It was therapeutic for dad and good for Kyle to hear about his dad.

Hunting in New York for years, dad and Ryan used to go up there all the time.  As we drove to and fro in the woods, dad would point out who shot what, when and how big it was.  Can dad remember that?  You bet he can!  He has no idea how old I am, but when it comes to hunting, his memory is pretty spot on.  Especially, his hunting trips with Ryan, they are his special memories.

Either that Tuesday or Wednesday, dad shot a four point buck and a doe.  The buck was pretty large, supplying us with good deer meat for the freezer.  Dad was planning on coming home Saturday night but instead pulled up Thursday mid-day.  He missed sitting in the tree stand with Kyle, his buddy.  I don’t blame him, it’s always more fun to hunt with family than by oneself.

Thanks to Larry and the New York crew for their hospitality and the adventure.  Can’t wait for next year!  I will be prepared this time.

Our Hunting Adventures … New York

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

Our Hunting Adventures … New York

This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.  ~Marilynne Robinson

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Kyle-in-Green-County-Hunting-12-2013

Me & Kyle in Green County hunting… we saw nothing! Yet had fun hanging out with dad a.k.a. pap 12/2/13

As I’ve mentioned it a time or two, we are a family of hunters and recently was our prime season.  Deer season!  Yes, there is more to hunting besides deer, but deer season seems to be the most exciting and gets those not-so-diehard hunters out and about.  It’s really a lot fun!  Not the idea of killing but the idea of family time, getting back to nature and helping to supply the household with good, healthy, natural deer meat for the freezer.  Plus keeping the deer population down to help eliminate bad car accidents as a result of deer.

On Friday, November 15th, Kyle and I drove up to Cortland, New York to meet up with dad, who drove up earlier that morning.  Why did we make the six hour trip?  Deer hunting!  Yes, we got our New York tags in addition to our Green County and Westmoreland County tags in Pennsylvania.  What is really cool about New York, you are allowed to shoot buck and doe on the first day.  As opposed to Pennsylvania, where you are only allowed to hunt buck on Monday till Saturday, then anything brown is down until the season is over.  Well, actually that’s technically not the case.  Depending where one is shooting, some rules state there needs to be two points on one side plus the brow point to be counted legal, and other cases three points on one side, not including the brow.  But if you really want all the details, it’s in the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping book.  Dad’s bible throughout the season.

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The elusive tree stand Cortland, NY 2013

On a side note, I picked up Kyle from school on Friday and we headed out.  About halfway into our trip Kyle mentioned he had to relieve his bladder.  Well, so did I!  We did the thing you do alongside a dark desolate highway, in the mountains, we pulled over and watered the ground.   I let Kyle go first.  He positioned himself between the passenger door and the back passenger door facing a patch of woods.  Great idea!  Once he was done, I had him switch sides with me, while I grabbed a swatch of paper towel and followed suit.  As we proceeded to switch back to our right sides, I joked and said to Kyle, “Watch out, don’t stand where I went to the bathroom.”  as he saw the discarded paper towel on the ground.  No!  I am not typically a litter bug, but this time, with a paper towel, which will disintegrate in a heavy rain, I could live with.  As Kyle walked past my spot of nature, he asked “You wiped up the ground?”  As if he was missing some sort of etiquette.  I about died!  It never dawned on me that he didn’t know, girls take an extra step in the bathroom.  He thought I cleaned up the ground!  I was laughing!  By the time we got home I told mom.  We both lost it and laughed at Kyle’s innocence and ignorance.  LOVE that kid!!

We got up to Cortland late Friday night, about 10:00 pm or so and went straight to bed.  Dad was already sawing logs when we walked in and Kyle pretty much joined him before we arrived.  Love my side kick, but when he’s tired, he’s down!

Then, back up at 3:30 am.  Only dad!  Daylight wasn’t until 6:30 am or so and we were only about a half an hour away from our hunting destination.  Granted, we did need to make our way back to the tree stands, but getting up that early was a bit silly.  Dad was so excited, he was like a kid on Christmas morning.  He truly looks forward to hunting in New York every year, and then to have me and Kyle join him, he was elated!  It was like the old days when Ryan hunted with him.

We stayed and hunted up until Monday, around noon and had a blast every step of the way!

On Saturday, when dad was giving me direction where I was to be stationed, this was how he described it to me.  Keep in mind, I was only ever in a different part of those woods once, never in the area I was to be hunting, and it was pitch black and it was 5:00 am and I had little sleep!  Dad said:

Heather, we’ll all ride the quad back the path and then you’ll get off and walk to your tree stand.  Follow the path to where it bends towards the left about a half a mile or so until it slopes down slightly.  Keep going until you see a log down, about six inches in diameter along the side of the path.  Walk a little further down, there should be a ribbon around a tree.  On the same side is your tree stand.  You’ll see the ground is all tore up where the turkeys were scratching.  Go ahead and get in the tree stand, we’ll be down over the bank from you.  If you think the tree stand is too high and you don’t feel comfortable, then find a place on the ground to sit.  Make sure you get out of the brush.

OK, so let me get this straight, I am suppose to stay to the left, look for a log down in the woods among other trees down and find turkey tracks in the mud, in the pitch black under all the fallen dead leaves and find a black tree stand in the dark?  Right!  I just nodded and said “Alright dad.” thinking in my head, if I don’t find it in the dark, then I’ll find a nice stump and wait till it gets light to see where I’m suppose to be positioned.

Would you believe, I found the tree stand?  Yes!  In fact, it was as if Ryan came down from heaven and tapped me on the shoulder making me look toward the right.  Seriously, that’s what it felt like, to make me all of a sudden turn my flashlight toward the tree containing the deer stand.  No joke!  I totally missed the ribbon, which later I saw very small and kind of obscured.  The tree stand was higher than what I am used to, but it didn’t bother me.  To be honest, it was nice of Larry, dad’s friend who allows us to hunt on the property, to get me set up.

Early-Morning-View-from-my-Tree-stand-in-Cortland-NY-Aunt-Heather-Piper

1st day of deer hunting in Cortland, NY. Perfect early morning view! 2013

The first day was crazy.  Did we see deer?  You bet!  But what really cracked me up, there was about thirty turkeys behind me in the brush having a party.  They were scratching up the ground and gobbling like crazy!  At one point, I turned over my shoulder and I saw a conga line of four more turkeys joining in on the party.  They were making such a ruckus.  I kept thinking there were deer walking around me, but nope, it was the turkey party.  I couldn’t see them through the thick brush, but there was no mistaken.  I must have crashed the turkey party pad.

Now, let’s discuss the angry squirrel.  First, I’d like to state that I don’t care for squirrels, at all!  To me, they are large rodents and not appealing in the slightest.  I have no qualms shooting them during small game season.  Dad loves squirrel potpie, which is okay, not a favorite of mine like deer meat.  Well, me and this squirrel got into it.  Really!  It kept trying to climb up my tree.  I yelled at it saying “No!  You are not coming up my tree.  There is a whole forest of trees to choose from and you can’t join me.”  Apparently, the wrong thing to say, because that squirrel ran up the tree opposite to me, turned to face downward and gave a loud almost scream.  Then, it ran down the tree and across the path back towards my tree, where I slapped my hands on my lap and yelled No!  This situation continued on the same course a few times before the squirrel buckled, gave up and left me a lone.  Alone, with me and my turkey party.  That is until the next day and we went through the same routine again.  You should have heard it scream.  It was like a lady with a high pitch screech!  I’ve never heard anything like it.  It kind took me back.

It’s always an adventure with the Piper clan.  On Sunday morning, …

… to be Continued

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

The Hobbit: It’s Always an Adventure with Kyle

I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!  ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-Aunt Heather Piper

Yes, this past Saturday I took Kyle to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in complete anticipation since we saw The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey.  Did I read the book?  You bet!  As did Kyle and we both loved it!  Kyle read all The Lord of the Rings books.  I, myself, am on the last of the series, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  Truly great reads and a really cool, adventurous world to get lost in.

So what did we think of the movie?  LOVED IT!  I’m not sure what I loved the most: the integrity of the book brought to the big screen, the characters and their consistency, the excitement of the entire adventure, or the company I keep?  I have a feeling it’s a little bit of all of the above with an emphasis on the later.

Since it was a busy day, we attended Holy Family Church, the four-thirty mass.  Yes, we rearranged our day just so we could go to the seven o’clock showing of The Hobbit.  Going any later wouldn’t have sat well with me since I am an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ type of gal.  I suppose we could have gone to the traditional Sunday morning mass, but I knew we still had to get the Christmas tree and it’s nice not rushing around on a Sunday morning, yet knowing we made time to visit God in His house.

As the hours approached, the snow kept falling.  Snow, was really not the issue but the temperature.  It was teetering between freezing and rain.  That makes for less than desirable driving conditions, especially at night.

The-Hobbit-The-Desolation-of-Smaug-Tauriel Aunt Heather PiperNormally, I take Kyle to the Carmike 15 Cinema behind Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, which is only about ten miles from my parents house in Latrobe.  However, I really didn’t feel comfortable driving, mostly the return trip, with the roads on the brink of becoming an Olympic sized luge track.  I mentioned this to Kyle and he about fell into an immediate depression and despair.  I know I agreed, but it wasn’t worth putting us both in potential harms way.  Trying for an immediate solution that we both could agree upon, I mentioned that we could go to a Sunday matinee.  Kyle’s response?  “It came out this Thursday and we have yet to see it!”  Keep in mind it was only Saturday, not a month after being released.  What to do?  What to do?  When you need answers, turn toward the internet.  Low and behold, Latrobe 30 Theatre & Cafe was playing The Hobbit!   It was only a few miles away.  What time?  Seven-thirty, perfect!

See, even before getting to the movies, it’s always an adventure!  Once we arrived, now comes a few of our standard arguments.  Normally, I’m on the fence about the popcorn, but I already agreed to let Kyle have his snack.  This movie theater offers slightly more options such as sandwiches and, yes, soft pretzels.  In a very pensive voice, speaking really only to himself said, “Now do I want a pretzel or popcorn?”  Then, turned to me as if confirming his conclusion by saying “Both?”  “Umm, no, pick one or the other buddy.  Kyle why don’t you get the pretzel since they usually don’t have those at the other theater?”  He opted for the popcorn and I am ashamed to say I buckled and got junior mints. (always remembering the Seinfeld episode).

Now ready for argument number deux?  Where to sit?  This movie theater is a lot smaller than the ones we normally attend, but I still like to sit toward the back, while Kyle likes his nose touching the big screen.  Since he picked our seat the last movie,  Thor 2:  The Dark World, I got my own way.  That is until my mind was changed for me.  As we sat there, a large man sat directly in front of me, and for the life of me, I could not see over him or around him.  Within a matter of seconds of this happening, Kyle turned toward me with this ornery look on his face like, ‘See, we should have sat where I wanted to.  Are we going to move?’  We did!  Kyle was happy, I didn’t really care.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug Dwarf in a BarrelNow, are we settled to watch the movie?  Nope.  Kyle decides he’s hungry for real food, not snacks.  He left and ordered himself a pulled pork sandwich.  Not a bad choice!  But now the real fun begins.  Kyle will not eat anything, nothing not even his popcorn before the movie starts.  Seriously, it’s like this thing with him, this irritating thing that I don’t get and kind of drives me crazy.  All the while I polished off my junior mints before there was picture on the screen.  Kyle said, “Now you don’t have anything to eat during the movie.”  Almost in a superior type of tone.  I said, “I don’t care, I would rather focus on the movie.”  Not Kyle, he sat there with his sandwich and popcorn lined up perfectly in front of him, waiting patiently to be devoured.  He would not even sample one kernel of popcorn!  Forget it if I tried to sneak a snack.  He must not have been too hungry.  That kid!

So now the movie right?  Yes!  What makes a movie is Kyle’s commentary.  He is sometimes so quick witted and sarcastic, it cracks me up.  At one point Bombur the one dwarf, the really fat one, was in a barrel and the barrel got loose and took off, taking down rows of orcs.  Classic stupid humor but totally cracked us up, especially when he ended up in a partial barrel encompassing his enormousness body,  still holding his ax and getting ready to fight.  We died!  Trying not to create too much for a ruckus in the theater, we were laughing so hard, there was no sound coming from our mouths.

Also, every time the orcs would call Tauriel the “She-Elf”, we both thought that to be hilarious. (Even though that was not original to the books)

The-Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey Aunt Heather PiperThen, came the best comment of the movie.  Legolas was shooting arrows into the orcs and he shot two orcs in the head with one arrow.  Kyle leaned in to me and said, “That’s Gigi’s shot!”  I was rolling in my seat trying to stay afloat.  You see, once years ago when my mom hunted, she accidentally shot two deer with one shot.  She shot the one closest to her and the bullet went through to the second deer standing directly behind the first, totally unbeknownst to her behind until she walked up on her kill.  Kyle loves hearing that story and apparently it has resignation with him.

What was really funny, was our reactions to the end of the movie.  Prior to seeing the second installment, we both read that they were making The Hobbit into a three part series.  Yet, for some reason we both thought it was only going to be two parts.  Then comes the end, and it abruptly stops.  Kyle, with this surprised look on his face said, “What?  It’s not over!  How are they going to make a third movie when there’s only a little bit left?”  I said, “That’s the power of Hollywood, they will probably embellish it a bit to stretch it out.”  Then, in pure disbelief Kyle asked to use my phone.  He looked it up and yes, the third movie is scheduled to come out next December of 2014.  How can we wait that long?

Yes it was truly a splendid evening with my little man.  Kyle was happy to see the movie, as was I.  Although I think he was more excited to see it before his Aunt Nikki.  That made his night!

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

One Month Flew By – Time Does Fly

But meanwhile time flies; it flies never to be regained.  ~Virgil
Kyle-&-Nicole-at-Christmas-12-24-10-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle & Nicole exchanging gifts at Christmas 12/24/10

Everyone finds themselves saying this at least a few times in their life, ‘Where did the time go?’  These fast few weeks, actually past month has been a whirlwind.  Just to recap, mostly for my own sanity, there was hunting in New York, then I was on set for a couple of days for a new television series shot in Pittsburgh, then Thanksgiving came and went, then hunting season for two weeks locally, then my parents Wedding Anniversary, then the Discovering Portage Scavenger Hunt, and Christmas tree shopping with the family.  Those are just the highlights.  I’m sure I’ll elaborate on each of these as I find the time in my schedule, but I wanted to get my thoughts organized to what seriously has been going on.

This past weekend alone was busy, busy, busy.  I guess this time of year most people find that the case.  Administering to the Discovering Portage Scavenger Hunt, in Portage, Pennsylvania took up a better part of my Saturday.  Of course the days leading up in preparation for an event, is also equally time consuming.  The Portage Winterfest commissioned Thrill of the Hunt to develop and administer to the Discovering Portage Scavenger Hunt for their Winterfest.  Great idea!
Discovering Portage Scavenger Hunt Thrill of the Hunt Aunt Heather Piper
The weatherman was forecasting a huge blizzard, which really wasn’t the case, but the snow did randomly fall.  Seriously, it was so pretty!  Portage is about sixty some miles from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, about an hour and half to get there, opposite direction of Pittsburgh.  Not a huge commute, but a little bit of a challenge with snowy roads.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have no issues driving in the snow, at all.  But as common sense dictates, I am not invincible on the white covered roads and I needed to adjust my speed to reflect the weather, so it became a little more of a road trip.
As we were driving along, I couldn’t help but reflect on my sister’s Penn State University years.  Picking her up, bringing her back and visiting Nicole at Penn State forced us to drive past Portage with every trip.  So this little coal mining town was not foreign to me, but a familiar sign along the roadway.
Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Stations-SpyRing-Scavenger-Hunt-9-22-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Finishing up the SpyRing Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa! Proceeds were donated to rebuild Playland! — Lain Marie Fisher, Rachel Berger-Gregg, Sarah Rosenbaum & Aaron Fish at Legion-Keener Park. 9/22/12

It was great having MaRissa accompany me on this job.  However, it was bittersweet not having my little helper right beside me.  Where was Kyle?  He had to work the soup kitchen in Latrobe for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, and it was the last day of hunting in Pennsylvania.  Making the most of the opportunity when Kyle can’t assist me, I like to bring on new blood.  It helps me to train others and prepares me for future expansion of Thrill of the Hunt.  I’m not saying anyone that has worked for me will make Thrill of the Hunt their career choice, or maybe they will, but it does give them working experience and extra moola.  Plus it gives me an extra body and assistance.  Win, win for everyone.

When I finally rolled into town, Kyle was putting the finishing touches on with respect to the Christmas decorations at my parent’s house.  He did a great job, even lighting the candles so I had the full ambiance when I walked in the door!  It’s nice walking into a home that is decorated in the spirit of Christmas, with the fireplace on, snow covering the ground outside and still falling and my little man truly enjoying himself.  Perfect home feeling!
Shortly after settling in, we went to Saturday mass at Holy Family.  Why going out of our norm?  We chose that church because they offer an early Saturday mass.  The evening was promised to Kyle and a night in the movie theater.
Discovering-Greensburg-Scavenger-Hunt-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Greensburg-Pa-9-21-13-v4

Elliott, MaRissa & Chris participating in the Thrill of the Hunt, Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for the Seton Hill University Homecoming weekend. Great job! 9/21/13

That was the moment Kyle was waiting for, literally for months, The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug.  I must say I was in complete agreement with Kyle.  I too have been waiting to see this movie with much anticipation.  We both loved The Hobbit the book and the first movie and couldn’t wait for part deux.
Usually I take Kyle to the Carmike Cinema behind Westmoreland Mall off of Route 30, however I wasn’t too keen on driving up the highway with the roads in question.  They were a mix of snow, rain and slush, teetering on brink of freezing into sheets of ice.  So we went locally to the Latrobe 30 Theatre & Cafe.  To us, we didn’t care either way, we both wanted to continue the adventure of The Hobbit.  I just wanted to do it safely with my precious cargo.
Was it worth it?  Heck yes! I’m sure I’ll talk about it later, but Kyle and I had a great time watching that movie.  Now we can’t wait for the third and final Hobbit series, scheduled for release in December of 2014.  A year from now!
On Sunday, my family went to get a Christmas tree.  Yes, we’ve never had a fake Christmas tree and will never own one.  There is nothing like the smell of fresh pine in the house.  It’s presence alone brings nature indoors and really feels good on the soul.  Plus it’s a nice continued tradition of picking out the focal point of the living-room for the Christmas season.
Later on that day, Kyle had Christmas play practice for his youth group.  Apparently, Kyle is running the lights.  While he was doing that I was getting a jump on my next scavenger hunt, Heart & Soul Scavenger Hunt.  This one if for a work Christmas party in Annapolis Maryland.  Yes, it’s outdoors!  And yes, it’s for a company that manages and administers to kidney care.  No, I didn’t call it Heart & Soul on purpose.  The title was to reflect the caring nature of these workers and the great job they do and the joy they bring to others who are sick.  I can’t wait to administer to this scavenger hunt on Tuesday!
Lots happening, lots going on, lots to look forward too.
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Nothings Better Than a Great Personality!

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.  ~Bruce Lee

Kyle-Ethan-Playing-SpyRing-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ethan Kramer & Kyle playing SpyRing Both boys are such characters! c. 2010

Okay, there are other traits that are equally as important as a great personality, but not many.  A great personality can get you further in life, I really do believe that wholeheartedly.  Sure, you need to be intelligent and your moral compass needs to point north, but I believe having great charisma is the key.  Usually, this goes hand-in-hand with good social skills and communication skills and I know it’s a stretch, but leadership skills.

Some people were just blessed with a double dose of great personality, who are easy to converse with and are witty.  Then, there are those who seemed to have missed out altogether and were blessed with other great qualities, personality not being one of them.

Why a dissertation on great personalities?  As Kyle grows, his personality strengthens and is really shaping his character.  And you know what?  He has the best personality!  It’s a little sarcastic, a little bit of humor, intelligence mixed with a little bit of “knuckleheadedness” and most importantly, sincere and respectfulness.  Kyle has a good, scratch that, GREAT personality!

Now, this isn’t a news flash, by no stretch.  Kyle’s personality has always been strong, even as a tiny little baby, but it’s neat watching him mature and grow.  Our little man has blessed us in so many ways and I am very thankful he has such a strong personality.  I would love him the same if he was a slug, but it sure does make life more interesting with his sense of humor.

Pokemon Twitter Converstation Aunt Heather Piper 10-2012

A screen shot of my twitter feed… 10/2012

Last weekend, I seemed to pick up on his humorous side more than normal because it seemed like every time I turned around, that kid was cracking me up.  We went to see Thor 2:  The Dark World.  Funny movie!  Kyle and I both picked up on all the subtle and not so subtle humor in the movie.  Love it!  That kid understands and appreciates humor and sarcasm and playful words.  It made the movie that much better!  If you want to know how Kyle and I are similar, that’s it!  So I guess it helps we get each other.

Perhaps, Kyle was giggling so much, just out of sheer exhaustion.  You see he earned that movie It’s Called Hard Work For A Reason.  Not to mention, early Saturday morning and the better part of the day, dad had us clean out his garage, getting ready for hunting season.  Regardless of the reason, hanging with Kyle is fun and almost addictive, unless we’re talking about whining.   Then you just want to run!

It was a busy weekend.  On Sunday morning before church, we went to the gun range to shoot in our rifles one last time before New York hunting.  Even while Kyle was knocking down the bowling pins (shooting mine) he was full of spirit.  Especially, after dad suggested that they swing by Dunkin Donuts to pick up a sweet treat.  I did not participate, but I gave a one donut blessing.

Kyle-at-Idlewild-Gutchess-Picnic-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Hardwoods Picnic. My little man! 2004

Between Kyle spending time with my parents, practicing his piano and playing with his Legos, we had a whirl wind of activities.  Then, let’s not forget we were scheduled to join in on the hayride at Stoner Farm for Kyle’s youth group.  The hayride was scheduled for 6:30 pm, which means it was dark.  Being somewhere out by the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, finding one specific dark farm among many fields and farms was a bit difficult.  Once we found the road to take us back to the bonfire and hay wagon, we drove on.  We continued back on the road, and back and back and back.  Until we noticed, we were driving in the field!  We must have missed our turn.  Kyle found the situation to be the funniest thing ever!  He was laughing so hard, as I’m dodging major potholes and ruts in the field, that I began to join suit.  Then he started cracking comments like “Maybe we’ll run into the hayride.”  What a funny kid!

Just as we both agreed to turn around, Kyle looked over his shoulder and said, “Umm Aunt Heather, the bonfire is over there!”  We both busted out laughing before heading back in the right direction.

Once we got there safe and sound, Kyle was still living in the moment and telling everyone what we just did.  Yep he can find humor in the simplest of moments.  Great quality buddy!  Just like your dad!

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

Random Fun Facts: Saint Vincent College

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.  ~Richard P. Feynman

Saint-Vincent-Church-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Statue of Saint Boniface Wimmer in front of Saint Vincent Church at Saint Vincent College. I received the Sacrament of Confirmation in this church… Ryan was the alter boy.

Since I recently wrote about Random Fun Facts:  Latrobe, Pennsylvania, it wouldn’t be complete without addressing Saint Vincent College.

This past June, for Kyle’s birthday gift I got him, Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe!  Actually I got him two different Bricks 4 Kidz sessions, Animal Grossology for the morning session and Space Adventure – Star Wars for the afternoon session.  The Lego camp lasted a week, from Monday June 24 through Friday, June 28.  Kyle’s birthday is in July, so he was really surprised.

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Saint Boniface Wimmer, Saint Vincent College

The first day of Lego Camp, on Monday, I thought it would be neat to hang out with Kyle for lunch.  So I packed us a picnic and we ate on the college grounds.  It was a warm day but really pleasant under the trees.  Afterwords, I thought he might find a tour of the campus interesting.  In my head, I remembered how cool it was when Father Alred gave our sixth grade class a tour of the college when attending Sacred Heart.  He talked about the history, the architecture, the stain glass windows, and so on and so forth.

Well, as it turns out, I remembered the feeling more than the facts.  I must say, I fell short and needed a refresher.  Kyle wasn’t amused at all!  It was at that moment when I thought, I need to revisit Saint Vincent College, in the books.

Ironically, when I was doing research for the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for Seton Hill University Discovering Greensburg in the Rain  (the sister college of Saint Vincent), at the Westmoreland County Historical Society, I came across a lot of intriguing content on  Saint Vincent College.  I hope you find the history of the college as interesting and almost mind blowing as I do!  Please read to the very end!  I promise it will shock you!

Saint-Vincent-College-Sportman's-Hall-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sportman’s Hall, built in 1790 by Father Theodore Brouwers- later become Saint Vincent

Random Fun Facts: Saint Vincent College

  • Founded in 1846 – Saint Vincent Arch-abbey and College
  • In 1766, before the monks John Fraser, an Indian trader, acquired land on part of which Saint Vincent is now situated
  • February 10, 1766 granted a tract of land along the Forbes Road to John- made in the name of the King George II of Great Britain by Captain William Murray, Commander of Port Pitt.
  • December 3, 1768 John Fraser transferred teh entire parcel of land to James Hunter, a farmer for Five Pounds Lawful Money
  • James Hunter owned the land for 21 years
  • March 12, 1790, the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Joseph Hunter “a certain tract of land called ‘Sportsman’s Hall'” – 1st time the name of Sportman’s Hall was given to individual tract of land (name retained for over half a century)
  • Sportman’s Hall was called “the Cradle of Catholicity in western Pennsylvania”
  • April 16, 1790 Joseph transferred the deed to Rev. Theodore Brouwers, O.F.M.
  • Father Brouwers died on October 29, 1790.  As per his will his body was laid to rest in a plot overlooking Sportsman’s Hall.  Since 1869 his remains have reposed under a a stone cross in Saint Vincent Cemetery
  • Father Brouwers provided his successor by bequeathing all of his real estate “to a Roman Catholic priest that shall succeed me in this same place, to be entailed to him and to his successors, forever.”
  • In 1787, 6 Catholic families moved from Philadelphia and settle near Greensburg
  • A small log church was erected
  • Sportsman’s Hall stood northeast to the present Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica until 1883 – in 1930s a marker was erected on this site
  • Reverand Michael Galllagher succeeded Father Stillinger as pastor, serving until October 21, 1846 – then Rev. Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. was pointed as pastor
  • Boniface Wimmer was a monk from the Benedictine Abbey of Metten in Bavaria

Hence the name Wimmerton for the neighboring housing development

  • Boniface Wimmer received the monastic name of Boniface upon his entry into the monastery, a name with deep significance for German Catholics
  • Saint Boniface was an English monk who in the 18th century brought the Gospel and the Benedictine Rule to the Rhineland, where he established  monasteries and served as bishop of Fulda

He wanted to provide education for the sons of German immigrants and train clergy for the German community in the United States.

  • Saint Vincent is the 1st Benedictine college in the United States
  • Saint Vincent sits on roughly 200 acres of land
  • First buildings were built by the monks
  • The Benedictine Rule is known for spirituality and practicality
  • By 1855, Saint Vincent was divided into the Seminary, the Classical Department, and the Commercial Department – basic structure of college for next 50 years
  • In 1870, the college was incorporated by the State Legislature of Pennsylvania and given the power to grant degrees in the arts and sciences
  • February 25, 1931 Benedictine Sisters left Germany to go to America, set up residence in Saint Vincent, to earn money to send back to mother house during World War I
  • By 1987, one sister retired and founded Saint Emma’s Retreat House in Greensburg
  • In 1948, there were 19 majors available in the divisions of Humanities, Social Sciences, Science and Business
  • January of 1963 – a fire destroyed part of the campus – no life was lost

On the campus they have a memorial with a rescued bell saved from the bell tower.  The bent and torn metal of the once perfect bell is so surreal yet intriguing.

  • In 1983, Saint Vincent became co-educational

Until that point it was an all male college, sister college to Seton Hill University, which used to be an all female college

  • The college is sponsored by the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey and shares the campus with Saint Vincent Seminary (4-year graduate school of theology), and Saint Vincent Parish
  • Saint Vincent College offers undergraduate degrees in business, education, medicine, engineering government service and church.
  • Saint Vincent College offers Masters degree programs in education and business
  • The Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media (yes THE  Mr. Rogers!) is a college center
  • Nationally known, students from 24 U.S. states/territories and 20 foreign countries – half of these students are in the top 20% of their high school graduating classes
  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and School
Saint-Vincent-College-Bell-Tower-Aunt-Heather-Piper-

Bell Tower at Saint Vincent, built in 1871 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the Benedictines in the U.S. In 1963, destroyed in a fire

Ok, now for the the really fun and interesting information I stumbled across.  Evidently, the students at Saint Vincent College need or did need to write a senior thesis before graduation.  Using primary resources, they were permitted to write about anything.

One student narrowed his focus to Latrobe and decided to write about the history of Latrobe’s volunteer firer-fighters and the Latrobe fire company.  Nice little topic!

Unbeknownst to him, he was going to stumble upon some really ground breaking news that was overlooked, even by Saint Vincent scholars, even to present day!  When I had lunch with my cousins John and Sherry Business Leader in the Form of a Youngster, in September, I asked John if he ever heard of the news I will reveal to you below.  He didn’t.  Dr. Olczak who also translated books for Saint Vincent College and most certainly was knowledgeable in the history of his Alma Mater, had no idea!

In the 1870’s, the Latrobe Advance, the local paper which is now the Latrobe Bulletin, circulated a story which dealt with a recent incident at Saint Vincent College.  What made the news but never made any other history books regarding the college and was forgotten?

Boniface Wimmer, yes the founder of Saint Vincent monastery and college, made the paper in the form of a small hidden story.  On October 1, 1879, the newspaper reported that the then 70 year old Abbot was nearly assassinated by a “lunatic”.  YEP!  No joke!  Keep in mind at this point in history, Boniface Wimmer was no stranger to the world, especially when concerned with his dedication and progress towards education and as a missionary.  In fact, he was recognized by many as the American Roman Catholic Church leader.  Kind of a big deal!  The paper reported that the mad man tried to assassinate Boniface Wimmer in his monastery room.

The story goes, a stranger was found lurking around, outside the monastery for several days.  On Saturday, September 13, 1879 the stranger gained access to the monastery where Boniface Wimmer resided.  A monk cut him off at the pass and ejected him from the premisses.  A week later the creepy stranger, on Tuesday September 23rd made his way back in the monastery and proceeded towards Brother Nicholas room.  He was the Porter or the gatekeeper of Wimmer.  This crazed stranger struck Brother Nicholas on the head and bolted up the stairs to the Abbot Boniface’s room.  (currently located in Mauer Hall and is used as a guest room) The lunatic took the key and tried to lock himself inside along with Boniface Wimmer.

Quick witted and matching reflexes, even from an aged man, the Abbot noticed this unusual sight and took the would-be assassin off guard before he could lock the door.  There was a tussle between the two men and that’s when Boniface Wimmer received a blow to the head, but not before gaining a hold of the intruders arm and managing to gain the upper hand. The 70 year old Abbot took down his attacker!  Yes!  He wrestled him to the floor!  This just proves, you have nothing to fear with God on your side and when you have complete faith in Him.

The recovering Porter came to Boniface’s assistance, after gaining his wits about him, and eventually a couple of monks arrived at the scene, hearing yells for help.  They removed the determined stranger from the premises.  No charges, no cops, no finger pointing, nothing.  Now-a-days that would have made front line news and opposing sides would be talking about it and pointing fingers at everyone including the Abbot for days, or weeks, heck months.  Everyone would have someone to blame.

The reason for this situation?  Not an Anti-Catholic message nor a hatred against Saint Vincent nor its Abbot.  The intruder was a Latrobe native who had mental issues and recently escaped from an asylum.  He felt if he killed the Abbot Wimmer he would in turn take his place as the Abbot of Saint Vincent.   At least the mentally disturbed man had goals!

Since this was not recorded anywhere else or brought to the spotlight, how can we know this actually happened? Even though back then the reporters needed to check and verify their sources, so I would be pretty confident they did their due-diligence before including the story in the paper.  Well, I came across documentation of a letter Abbot Wimmer wrote to the Vatican giving them an update on the church and the college.  This was a standard letter, with pleasantries and general day-to-day stuff.  At the conclusion of his letter, yes not as a headline, the butt end, as if just mentioning it in passing or as an afterthought, Abbot Wimmer made note of this incident.  Why didn’t he make it out to be the big deal it was?  Simply, because he was a humble man and didn’t want to upset anyone or have the general population turning on the assailant.   At least that’s my guess.  Or perhaps he didn’t like the negative publicity.  Either way, it was real history.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.  ~Fred Rogers

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Winterguard-c.1990

Me during a Winterguard performance at Latrobe High School. We were wearing yellow ribbons in support of our troops during Desert Storm.  c.1990

Being a Latrobe native, I have a special place in my heart for the city of Latrobe. Actually, let’s face it, I can’t just say I’m from Latrobe, I exude of Latrobe pride. Yep, I am a Latrobean through and through. Some may know Latrobe for the originator of Rolling Rock Beer or being the home of the Steeler Training Camp. But there is so much more to Latrobe, unbeknownst to many, including myself until I started digging.  Since I just recently brought a Thrill of the Hunt Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt? to Latrobe, here are some fun facts about my hometown.  On a side note, if you get a moment, check out the pictures from the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.  They are hilarious!

First let’s start with the pronunciation of Latrobe.  It is correctly pronounced (leɪˈtroʊb), with the “LA”, in front of TROVB.  However, if you are a native to Latrobe you pronounce it (lay-trobe) with a long “A” sound.  Subtle, but a huge noticeable difference.

 Random Fun Facts: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

United States Census Bureau

  • Population was 8,235 (2012)
  • 2.16 persons per household (2007-2011)
  • Land area in square miles – 2.23 (2010)
  • Persons per square mile – 3,600.2 (2010)
  • Situated in the eastern part of Westmoreland County, in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region

Founding

  • In 1750, recorded of first white man
  • Christopher Gist (surveyor for the Ohio Company) passed through Latrobe
  • In 1765, many owned land in Latrobe including first Congressman to represent Westmoreland County,William Findley
  • In 1851, official founding of Latrobe began when Oliver Barnes (civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased Thomas Kirk’s 140-acre farm
  • Latrobe was named after Barnes college roommate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe never set foot in the town
  • 1852 founded by Oliver Barnes, a civil engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • In May of 1854, Latrobe was officially incorporated
  • In June of 1854, a borough government was established (at a meeting in the home of David Williams, contractor for the Pennsylvania Railroad)
  • Latrobe is named after Barnes best friend & college classmate, Benjamin Latrobe
  • Benjamin Latrobe was a civil engineer for the B&O Railroad
  • Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the architect who rebuilt the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. after the War of 1812
  • Youngstown, Pa. was established more than 50 years before Latrobe (George Washington stayed in the Youngstown Hotel)
  • About 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh
  • Early residents included Delaware, Shawnee, Seneca and Mingoe Indians (fished in the Loyalhanna River)
  • In 1999, declared a city
Latrobe-Pa-Marching-Band-1993-1994-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Greater Latrobe Marching Band (part of) senior night. Yes, the Colorguard were pirates! c. 1993

Originators

  • One of the first in the nation to use Pay-per-Parking app
  • Home of golf legend Arnold Palmer – born & raised
  • Home of Mr. Fred Rogers – born, raised & died
  • Home of the Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College
  • In 1770s, the Unity Chapel was built (Presbyterian)
  • In 1780s, the first Catholic parish was formed
  • In the 1840s, The Benedictine Monks were established in Latrobe
  • In 1852, the Pennsylvania Car Works began building railroad cars
  • In 1900, first Jewish congregation, the Beth Israel was established
  • In 1904, pharmacist David Strickler created the banana split
  • In 1910, Latrobe Area Hospital began with the School of Nursing
  • In 1927, Latrobe Public Library started  (2,500 volumes – 500 books issued first day opened)
  • George Hamilton Adams (freight agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad) left in his will for a new building for the library
  • In 1954, the new library opened named Adams’ Memorial Library in his honor
  • In 1938, Kennametal, global leader of mining and construction tooling, and national leader of metalworking products was established

Even More

  • Latrobe Art Center offers classes for budding artists and exhibits local artists’ work
  • Built in 1903, the Latrobe Train Station (DiSalvo’s Station) functioned as a railroad station up to 1970
  • In the 1980s, the train station was restored and in 1986 was registered as a national historic landmark
  • The DiSalvo family purchased the train station in 1989 – added Italian restaurant
  • Amtrak service is available in the historic landmark train station (houses DiSalvo’s Station- fine Italian restaurant)
  • Westmoreland Scenic Railroad offers a train ride through the Laurel Highlands
  • Today Latrobe Area encompasses the city of Latrobe, Derry and Unity Townships, and the boroughs of Derry, New Alexandria and Youngstown
Christy-Andrea-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Latrobe-Pa-Colorguard-Captains-1993-1994

Christy Queer, Andrea Shafran & Me the Captains of Colorguard/Winterguard our senior year. 1993-1994

Greater Latrobe Schools

  • Students who take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT) consistently score above state and national averages
  • Over 80% of graduates go on to post-secondary education (either 2 or 4 year college or trade school)
  • Computer instruction begins in kindergarten
  • All 3 elementary schools are lined into the district-wide network
  • All middle and high school students and faculty members have their own laptops computers lined to building-wide networks by wireless connections (NETSchools)
  • GLSD was the 1st school in Pennsylvania to implement a program of NETSchools initiative – all students have immediate access
  • In 1936, the Special Collection was started by 2 teachers to develop the students’ appreciation for the arts
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School has the Center for the Student Creativity – designed to integration the arts into education
  • Greater Latrobe Senior High School houses the Special Collection of Greater Latrobe School District (about 200 works of original regional art)

 

As I was holding the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Kyle and I met up with my cousins Dr. John Olczak and his wife Sherry.  While we were catching up during lunch, John was reliving his undergrad days at Saint Vincent with Kyle.  He also mentioned that his dad, my Uncle Frank and my grandpap Chester, along with all the other brothers, Uncle Tex, Uncle Walter they used to caddy at the Latrobe Country Club.  Now that he said that, I kind of remember hearing about it,  However, what I didn’t know was my grandpap and his brothers were taught to golf by the same man who taught Arnold Palmer.  True story!

Arnold Palmer

  • His childhood home was close to the 6th hole at the Latrobe Country Club
  • His father was the club’s course superintendent & golf professional
  • At 11 years old started caddying
  • By 17 years old won his first 5 West Penn Amateur Championships
  • Attended Wake Forest University then joined the Coast Guard for 3 years
  • Married Winifred (Wini) Waltzer
  • In the fall of 1954 turned golf professional
  • Won 92 championships in professional competitions starting in the 1955 Canadian Open
  • During the 1960s, National Associated Press poll named him the “Athlete of the Decade”
  • Won the Masters Tournament 4 times
  • Won the British Open 2 times
  • Won the U.S. Open once
Marching-in-Latrobe-Parade-c.1991

Marching in the Latrobe Parade… the Colorguard wasn’t so lucky to wear T-shirts & shorts.  Sequins in heat is not pretty!  c. 1991

Mr. Fred Rogers

  • Born in Latrobe in 1928
  • Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was inspired by the streets of Latrobe
  • In 1953, he joined the staff of WQED Pittsburgh (nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station)
  • In 1955, won the Sylvania Award for best locally-produced children’s program “The Children’s Corner” (featured music & puppets)
  • In 1963, ordained as a Presbyterian minister
  • In 1966, debut of “MisteRogers”, became national in 1968
  • Show was renamed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood so began the famous trolley and “Land of Make Believe” populated by Lady Elaine, Fairchilde, Kind Friday XIII and Henrietta Pussycat
  • Recipient of 2 George Foster Peabody Awards and “Lifetime Achievement” Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the TV Critics Association
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (nation’s highest civilian honor)
  • Died in February 2003

 

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport

  • Charles B. Carroll, a Scottdale resident would use Saint Vincent Aviation field as a landing (meadow of clover on a hilltop at Saint Vincent College)
  • In 1919, 2 Army Pathfinders made an emergency landing
  • Carroll leased the pasture at the junction of Lincoln Highway and Manito Road (now US Rt. 30 & Rt. 981)
  • In 1924,  Longview Flying Field was open for business
  • Built hangers to house the military army surplus planes
  • The pilots were soon called “Longview Boys” or “Carroll’s Hooligans”
  • In 1926, Longview Flying Field held 4 aricraft – 4th highest in Pennsylvania
  • Longview Flying Field ranked 4th highest in number of flights and 3rd in number of passengers
  • Carroll renamed the field J.D. Hill Airport, 4 years after opening (in honor of his friend who was killed in 1927 during an attempt to cross the Atlantic to Italy
  • In 1935, christened Latrobe Airport after Carroll and Latrobe joined forces to expand runways
  • May 12, 1939, the Latrobe Airport (now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport) hosted the country’s first scheduled airmail pickup
  •  In 1950, the former farmland was formally purchased from the Kerr family by Latrobe Borough
  • Next few years the Tri-County Municipal Authority was formed
  • In 1958, Bruno Ferrari took over management, then became known as the Westmoreland-Latrobe Airport (officially a commercial facility)
  • 20 years later became known as Westmoreland County Airport
  • In 1999, renamed in celebration of Arnold Palmer
  • Today handles about 50,000 aircraft departures and landings each year
  • Runway can accommodate aircraft up to a 727
  • 125 planes are based there (half are for business use and half for recreational use)
  • Amenities include: free parking, flight training (Westmoreland Aviation), aircraft maintenance, car rental, charter service, restaurant (DeNunzio’s), travel agency and gift shop
  • US International Airways maintains a terminal
  • A study by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport contributes to $51 million annually to the economics of the surrounding area
Latrobe-Football-Game-Marching-Band-Aunt-Heather-Piper

During a Latrobe football game.. I could never sit there that long without moving around…c. 1993

Football

  • In 1895, John Brallier was one of the earliest football players to openly turn pro
  • Brallier’s compensation was $10 plus expenses when agreed to play for the Latrobe YMCA against Jeannette Athletic Club
  • In 1897, Latrobe Athletic Association was the 1st to field a team made up entirely of paid professional players that played a full season
  • Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp at Saint Vincent College since 1969 – 3rd longest continuously running site in the National Football League

Rolling Rock Beer

  • In 1939, Rolling Rock began brewing beer by the Latrobe Brewing Company in downtown Latrobe
  • 4.6% abv (alcohol by volume) pale lager
  • Mid 2006 sold to Anheuser-Bush (Moved to Newark, NJ)
  • 7 oz. bottle of beer that became known as a “pony”
  • Number 33 is printed prominently on all bottles of Rolling Rock
  • Many speculation about the number 33
    • The “33” refers to the founding year of the Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 33 degrees is the proper temperature to keep beer
    • Latrobe test-brewed 33 batches of beer before coming up with the final formula for Rolling Rock (which I thought was a recipe from the Saint Vincent Monks)
    • There were exactly 33 stair steps from the brewmaster’s office to the brewing floor in the original Latrobe brewery
    • The PA fish & game commission at the turn of the century numbered the streams within the commonwealth and the water that was used to brew this beer was taken from the stream numbered 33
    • Marked the repeal of prohibition in 1933
    • “33” signifies the 33 words in the beer’s original pledge of quality, which is still printed on every bottle
    • An executive wrote “33” at the end of the slogan, indicating the number of words, to be used as a guide for the bottle printers. Assuming it was part of the text and incorporated it into the label graphics
  • The current pledge is on the 12 oz. bottles, while the “little nip” pledge is from the 7 oz. bottle version

Rolling Rock – From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Current pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle

A little nip from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe. We tender this package as a premium beer for your delight and economical use. It comes from the mountain springs to you.

—Original pledge written on the Rolling Rock bottle
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Doggie in Disguise? Scavenger Hunt?

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

Doggie-in-Disguise-Scavenger-Hunt-Latrobe-PA-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-10-19-13-V53

Winner of best Costume! Way to go Molly! Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa. 10/19/13

It’s funny, this is my first year not planning for Kyle’s Halloween costume.  I guess once you hit twelve years old and are in the seventh grade, kiss trick-or-treating goodbye, as well as all the candy.  I’ve always looked forward to this time of year with Kyle, but my little man is maturing.  Well, as much as a Piper can.

What fills this void?  A Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt of course.  Yes, Thrill of the Hunt hosted the first ever Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  What exactly does this mean?  No, the dogs were not expected to find items but they did dress up in disguise, walked alongside their owners and joined in on an adventure throughout the city of Latrobe.

Doggie-in-Disguise-Scavenger-Hunt-Latrobe-PA-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-10-19-13-V7

Zoey as Batman at the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa. 10/19/13

This event was a laid back and easy going scavenger hunt, an activity for dogs, their owners and the whole family to enjoy.  After all, The Piper Corporation does encourage family fun and togetherness, building and reinforcing the bonds of the family. The participants were given clues and riddles to find out which store in downtown Latrobe they needed to stop by.  As I’ve always said, part of my scavenger hunt strategy is to encourage foot traffic directly to specific participating local stores and shops to reinforce branding and to give them an advertising opportunity.  I want to help local merchants and the communities alike.

Once the Thrill Seekers (those who participate in a Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt) arrived at a correct location, the participants collected dog toys and treats with each stop.  This particular scavenger hunt contained a total of seven missions and online challenges, an increase from past scavenger hunts.  I might just add a few more stops to next year’s Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt, extending the fun even more!  Everyone was also asked to conduct online challenges that included taking pictures and video of them with their dog at specific locations, making the event more thought provoking and interactive.

Doggie-in-Disguise-Scavenger-Hunt-Latrobe-PA-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-10-19-13-V51

Angie & her family joining the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa. 10/19/13

What makes this scavenger hunt so much fun and just plain hilarious?  The dog costumes!  Yes, the dogs were dressed in their Halloween best!  When everyone finished finding their clues we gathered at the finish line, which happened to be the Family Video parking lot.  There, our non-bias outsider, John was present to judge the costumes, picking a winner.

Congratulations Molly, Super-girl won!

I will admit, that was the best part of the scavenger hunt!  Some of the costumes totally cracked me up!  There was a turtle, batman and joker, a witch and Elvis, among other very creative costumes.  In fact, one family told me since their daughter was too old for trick-or-treaing, they thought they would dress up the family dogs and take them out. Perfect idea!

Doggie-in-Disguise-Scavenger-Hunt-Latrobe-PA-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-10-19-13-v20

Elvis even made his appearance at the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa. 10/19/13

Prior to planning the event, I worked with Darlene Smucker from the B & D Activity Center in Latrobe.  She owns a huge indoor dog facility that she brings in vets, hosts competitions and dog training sessions, among other 4-legged activities.  Perfect start location.  Both parties, B & D Activity Center and Family Video graciously let us use their space for the morning.  I also worked with Nick from the City of Latrobe to coordinate this scavenger hunt on the day of Latrobe’s Autumn Fest.

Everything certainly came together nicely.  God even blessed us with a nice brisk sunny day, perfect for walking around in the fall air, among the multicolored foliage of Latrobe.

Since the completion of the scavenger hunt, the Action for Animals Humane Society in Latrobe contacted me about maybe joining efforts to create one big event to benefit both parties.  I think that would be a great idea!  I’m totally game!  My friend Tree actually suggested the same thing earlier this year, but it looks like it might happen for the next annual Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.

I’ve been working on Thrill of the Hunt full time for nearly six months now.  And as I’ve been developing and administering to these hosted scavenger hunt events, I thought how I could give back, making my scavenger hunts even more community friendly?  Eventually, when our popularity and participation increases, I will have the resources to donate a portion of the proceeds back to local charities, with respect to the themed scavenger hunt.  Another goal I would be happy to fulfill.

Doggie-in-Disguise-Scavenger-Hunt-Latrobe-PA-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-10-19-13-V78

Our participants had a lot of fun at the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt in Latrobe, Pa. Can’t wait till next year! 10/19/13

My buddy, Kyle joined in administering to Saturday’s Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt.  Even Aunt Nikki made her appearance with Avery (a.k.a. Acron) wearing her angel wings, just as the judging was to begin.

I really truly can’t wait for next year!  It’ll be even better!

On a side note, I want to give my friend Holly a big shout out!  She not only walked around with me passing out flyers for the Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt but she also was my biggest cheerleader with her fellow dog friends, spreading the word on our event and building the excitement!  If she ever wants to quit nursing, she has a job with me in marketing and event planning.  Thanks Holsters!

Check out all the pictures on the Thrill of the Hunt Gallery Page, the Facebook Page, the Pinterest Page, as well as the videos on the Youtube Channel.  Please support our local start-up company and Like US and Follow Us!  Remember, everyone needs to … Experience the Game!

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

Fort Ligonier Days Parade – Marching Down Memory Lane

I look forward to this every year. … It’s always exciting for me. All my family is involved, and we love the bag pipes and parades.  ~Jim McKenzie

Kyle-playing-with-Thomas-the-Tank-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-11

Kyle playing with Thomas the Tank at Fort Ligonier Days, Ligonier, Pa. 10/11

Who doesn’t love a good parade?  I certainly do, well maybe without some of the side effects such as traffic congestion, parking issues and herds of people milling around in a small area.  Although it’s always fun to sit and watch the different floats, banners, bands and groups passing by in somewhat of a rhythm.  To be honest, I love seeing what bands are attending the parade and I like checking out their fashion flares, music choices and the quality of the Colorguard.  My old area of expertise!

On Saturday, we went to the annual Fort Ligonier Days Parade.  We’ve been attending this event for as long as I can remember, not ritually every year, but more than not.  I’ve also been taking Kyle since he was a little man sitting in my lap.  Now he requires his own seat, but seems to enjoy the parade the same.

Some years Fort Ligonier Days Weekend was so cold we needed blankets, hats, gloves and long underwear when sitting there watching the parade.  While, other years, it rained and yet some have been perfect fall days.  This past weekend God blessed us with such superb  weather!  It was sunny, mild temperature, blue skies with white fluffy clouds.  That made it more enjoyable.  I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because people came out in the masses.

Anyone who has attended the parade knows, you have to place your chairs out the night before, which we always do.  Usually they are covered with trash bags to keep the rain off of them, as we did on Friday night.  Leading up to the weekend, it rained and was cold and dreary, so it was a nice surprise when the sun made its way out to greet the weekend participants.  Even when we were setting up our chairs, I believe go time was at 6:00 pm, it was drizzling.  You see there’s a specific time chairs are permitted to stake claim to small areas of the sidewalk in Ligonier, in preparation for the next day’s parade.  They don’t mess around and they mean it too!

It’s no secret I marched in the Fort Ligonier Days Parade for four years in a row during my high school days.  I was never a big fan of participating in parades, probably because most of them were hot and boring, but I will admit I loved the Fort Ligonier Days parade.  It was never really too warm or sunny.  To be honest, I didn’t mind the cold and being in the Laurel Mountains in the fall is such a pretty time of the year.  The trees show such vibrant colors everywhere, it’s like being Mary Poppins and entering your very own painting, not to mention Ligonier is so quaint and nostalgic.  Who wouldn’t love spending a day in those parts of the woods?

Kyle-eating-his-caramel-apple-at-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-12-13

Kyle finally got his caramel apple at Fort Ligonier Days. He was happy! Ligonier, Pa. 10/12/13

As the parade passed us along, mom and I would make comments to Kyle like, “There goes Kyle!” as the trumpet section passed.  Kyle is starting to show interest in participating in the marching band, just like I did.  Well, I was part of the Colorguard and Kyle plays the trumpet, among the piano and guitar (kinda), but regardless, I have been encouraging this interest.  Participating in the Colorguard, Winterguard and the Indoor Drumline gave me my fondest memories and adventures of my high school years.  I really truly mean that!

Kyle’s reaction to our said comments and encouragement?  He started saying, “Ya that’s hard twirling a stick!”  He is such a little stinker!  Razzing me like that!  I made him eat his words when some of the Colorguard showed off their skills right in front of us by doing tosses, spins and such.  Thank you ladies!  Your timing was perfect!  He was certainly amazed over West Virginia University’s Colorguard, as was I!  Nice job!

I didn’t take Kyle down to the Fort this year because it was so terribly crowded and I can only handle crowds for so long, before my complete claustrophobia settles in and my patience runs low.  Kyle went on a field trip to the Fort a few years ago for school, so it’s not like he was missing out on anything.  I’ve been in the Fort a few times, mostly when I was a youngster with my family.  I remembered me and Ryan really getting a kick out of the whole place, including those dressed up like Native Americans.

True story, dad and my cousin Merle cut down and hauled in the logs whenever they renovated the Fort years ago, long before I was around.  So in a way dad helped out with rebuilding history in our very own backyard.  Too cool!  We’ve told Kyle that story a couple of times over the years.  He loves hearing it and I know he feels the same pride as I do.

As we were sitting there watching the parade pass, it dawned on me, Hempfield Marching Band was probably among the mix.  Why was that so important?  Kyle’s piano teacher was student teaching at the high school and he was assisting with their marching band.  As my revelation occurred to me, I mentioned it to Kyle and his face lit up!  He couldn’t wait to see his teacher.  And sure enough, as Hempfield passed, I looked up the street to the endless line of marching band members and I saw his teacher in full suit marching along side his students.  He was on the same side as us too!  What luck!  I pointed him out and Kyle began waving like a little manic trying to catch his attention.  Did he?  You bet!  David flashed Kyle an ‘I know you’ smile, which made Kyle’s day even more complete!

Kyle-at-Fort-Ligonier-Days-Idaho-Potato-Tour-Aunt-Heather-Piper-10-12-13

Kyle in front of the Idaho Potato truck. Yep, that’s a sculpture of a really large potato on the back of the truck! Fort Ligonier Days, Ligonier, Pa. 10/12/13

Obviously, there is more to Fort Ligonier Day’s besides the parade.  A few years ago when we were walking around another perfect day at the Fort Ligonier festivities, Kyle and I stumbled upon a huge, almost life size chess set, set-up outside one of the toy stores in town.  At that point, Kyle had already fell in love with the thought provoking and strategic game.  Naturally, he kicked my butt.

As I’ve always said, Kyle remembers EVERYTHING.  On Kyle’s agenda this year?  Yes you guessed it, the giant chess set!  He even did a little recon mission while using the restroom facilities during the parade to find exactly where the chess set was located.  That kid cracks me up!  Did we play a mean game of chess?  Nope!  There were others playing at the time of our arrival, not having any patience, I didn’t want to wait for the girls to complete their game.  Kyle was miffed.  It brought on the whines and the pouting.  I guess I really moved his cheese, but mom was waiting for us and I didn’t want her sitting there all day.  How did I make up for this disappointment?  I promised to play him chess at home.  He told me, “I can’t wait to tell you checkmate!”  Told you, he’s such a stinker!  And he did!

The only part of the tradition that did not make it into the day was the kettle corn.  Yes, we always manage to get a large bag of homemade kettle corn for the road.  This year, we truly couldn’t find the kettle corn stand among the crowds of warm bodies.  I also really didn’t feel like squeezing through people with a whinny disappointed kid.  So no kettle corn, but we certainly survived.

While hauling around our stuff, I couldn’t help but reflect on Kyle’s book.  Yes, Kyle made haste and was using his time wisely before the parade with a good book, as was I.  His chosen reading material?  The second book in the Divergent series, Insurgent by Veronica Roth.  Mine?  Lord of the Rings The Two Towers.  I already read both of the Divergent books and on another side note, I seriously can’t wait for the third and final installment, Allegiant.  Same goes for Kyle!

I remember years ago, when I was completely addicted to the Twilight books I was reading New Moon and I truly didn’t want to put it down, not even for the parade.  While sitting there some lady turned to me and said, “Wow, you are really into that book!  It must be really good?”  It was!  I could have continued with my face in the pages until completion if I didn’t have a little man sitting in my lap telling me different.  Now he was in the same boat I was in, totally addicted to the words on the pages.  That’s the chip off the old block!

Yep, it’s funny how one parade has such great memories and continues to build upon those year after year.  I do enjoy walking around and seeing all the crafts and art and such.  I mean Kyle even chose to go to the Fort Ligonier Days Parade instead of waiting for Game Stop to open to get his pre-ordered Pokemon video game.  Good choice buddy!

Can’t wait for next year!

On a side note, I totally forgot my trusty phone during the parade.  Yep, therefore I got no pics or video.  Total bummer!  Kind of out of my nature, yet, totally something I would do, and did!

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

Business Leader In the Form of a Youngster

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.  ~Ronald Reagan

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v45 Aunt Heather Piper

One of the dogs from the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope 9/14/13

On Saturday, Thrill of the Hunt had another Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  Is that far from me?  Heading out there is about a five hour trip, 300 miles one way.  So it’s certainly a hike and a half.  Why did we have a scavenger hunt so far away?  Simply, because I love the area, it’s so quaint and charming and I’ve found the business owners and locals very easy to work with and very positive about what I have to offer.  Not to mention, breaking out into New Hope was my way of introducing Thrill of the Hunt to the eastern side of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.  New Hope is just across the Delaware River from New Jersey, and is relatively close to New York, Maryland and Delaware.  Yep, New Hope, a borough in Bucks County, my next stop.

Kyle still loves being apart of all things with The Piper Corporation.  I mean that!  He never snubs his nose or whines when we have work to do with the company, well almost never.  In fact, Kyle got a new Macbook Air for this past birthday.  His comment to me?  “Now Aunt Heather I can help you out with the scavenger hunts!”  He meant it wholeheartedly.  Kyle always shows the most enthusiasm when it comes to the company work.  He really enjoys it and I enjoy having Kyle help me out and be apart of hopefully his future legacy, if desired.

Everyone knows Kyle is pretty money centric.  Not with Thrill of the Hunt.  Every now again, I will pay the kid in movies and popcorn, but no hard cold cash is ever transferred.  One day soon I hope to be able to put him on the payroll, but until then, Kyle understands and is just happy to help out.  And he truly is a huge help to me!

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v16 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle manning his post at the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope. 9/14/13

We left Saturday morning around 3:30 am on a long day of fun.  It was a little difficult to get the twelve year old up, but let’s face it, it would be hard to get anyone up at that hour.  Without a second thought, Kyle even went to bed early so he could rest up for the long work day.  My little planner!

Once in the car he slept, and slept, and slept, and slept.  He did wake up briefly, while I made a pit stop, but he stayed in the car and relaxed.  I had a heck of a time waking him up when we finally got to New Hope.  He really didn’t want to join the land of the living.

Getting there early to set up and address any last minute issues and get our bearings straight helps to reduce stress.  I try to practice such behavior whenever possible, teaching Kyle the same lesson, after all I had my car packed and ready to go by Wednesday.  The one thing about the scavenger hunt events, almost everything needs to be done prior to, at least all the hard leg work.  So come the day of the event, it’s enjoyable not only for the participants, but also for us.

Usually Kyle stays with me, helps with registration, taking pictures and addressing questions, but alas this particular scavenger hunt I needed Kyle to pass out a prize at a participating business.  Did he mind?  Not really, he doesn’t prefer to be by himself, but he loves being needed and helping out.

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v23 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle is mingling with a few dogs during the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Pa. 9/14/13

Part of my business model with the Thrill of the Hunt Events, is to help local communities and businesses by bringing the customer directly to their storefront, driving direct traffic.  There is more to the Thrill Sponsorship Program, but that’s how it came to be and the basic idea.  Well, I did have a local business who wanted to participate, but was unable to have dogs in their store.  They also didn’t have the staff on a Saturday to have someone stationed outside of their facility passing out prizes.  Problem solved, Kyle.  Normally, I wouldn’t have offered his service, but I’ve done this event already and I was an old hand at it.  So if I could help out, then I will, and I did.  Plus the business owner gave coupons for the participants’ goodie bags and branded them Thrill of the Hunt.  They too were trying to promote my company.  Now that’s working together!

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle helping me out during the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Pa. What a businessman – a true leader! 9/14/13

So my little man and I were separated for the better part of the scavenger hunt.  He was cracking me up while he was sitting on his little perch outside the storefront.  He was passing out flyers promoting the Dog Gone!  Scavenger Hunt to any late comers.  Brilliant!  He even took one for the team.

Apparently, as per Kyle, he was trying to hand out a flyer to someone walking their dog and saw a few more dog owners walk past him.  He changed his mind and made an about face to approach the other set of dog walkers and splattered on the ground!  What?  Yep!  I saw the bark removed from his leg.  When he came to me later on in the day, he explained his story and showed me his minor scrapes on the knee and hands.  He did so without drama and without complete agony, very unlike Kyle.   To be honest, as soon as he told me his story, I busted out laughing.  Without controlling my laughter, Kyle joined in and proceeded to tell me that he had no idea what made him fall.  He didn’t trip, he just fell.  Boy does he remind me of Nicole!  He said, “I bet everyone that saw me wondered why I fell!”  I bet!

Anyway, while he was sitting there, I did receive several phone calls from Kyle.  He was keeping me updated on who stopped by and the new recruits he was sending my way.  Once he called me to tell me, “I got lonely so I called Gigi.”  What a stinker!  I said, “O that’s good buddy, I bet Gigi wanted to hear from you. I bet you made her day.  Did you tell her how things were going?”  He did and he gave me a report on Storm.

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v19 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle continues to socialize with the dogs during registration of the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Pa. 9/14/13

You see, the day before Storm, my cat wanted out.  No problem, except she didn’t come back in before dark, which she usually does when called.  No Storm by the time we left, no Storm by the time dad got up at 5:00 am and no Storm when I called in around 9:00 am.  Now that made me nervous.  It seems like every time we have a Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt, we have family pet issues.  Dog Gone! Irony  Storm did eventually come back unscathed and ready to sleep the rest of the day.  No worries.

While manning his post, Kyle received a call from my sister who was checking in.  I guess, it was not a good time, because Kyle told Nicole, “I gotta go Aunt Nikki, I have customers.”  That’s my boy!  Priorities!  Laughing, Nicole called me to inform me of what just went down.  We both found it humorous and I found it inspirational.

Throughout the day Kyle did pull out his iPod to play games and he couldn’t stand at the registration table passing out flyers and answering onlookers’ questions for too long, but after all he is only twelve.  But he did try his best.

Dog-Gone-Scavenger-Hunt-New-Hope-Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-14-13-v9 Aunt Heather Piper

I think Kyle had to pet every dog that participated in the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt in New Hope, Pa. 9/14/13

At the conclusion of the scavenger hunt, a few of the participants came up to me, not knowing he was my nephew, and commented on how helpful and professional “the little boy”  was during the event.  He was given kudos from many, even from a few of the businesses that met him.  Kyle is getting accustomed to shaking hands, using his manners and speaking directly and speaking business.  What a great leader and an impressive youngster!  Thank you for all your efforts buddy!  They are certainly noticed and appreciated by all.

On a side note, on the way back it was pretty uneventful.  Kyle slept and slept and slept and slept all the way up till about hour from home.  Once he did wake up he was back to being a kid again, asking me when we were going to arrive, over and over again.  I told him, “Just go back to sleep.”  Once we arrived at my parents house, which was closer and lets’ face it they really missed our little man, Kyle was wide awake and ready for a late night snack.  Me?  I was ready for the pillow.  After all I was going on nearly twenty hours without sleep.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  Can’t wait for the next scavenger hunt this Saturday, Discovering Greensburg sponsored by Seton Hill University.

 

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