I Met Leigh Bardugo!

When people say impossible, they usually mean improbable.  ~Leigh Bardugo, Siege and Storm

Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea.  ~Leigh Bardugo, Siege and Storm

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Me & Leigh Bardugo at the book signing for Crooked Kingdom – South Euclid-Lyndhurst County Public Library, OH  9/28/16

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of meeting Leigh Bardugo.  Who is she?  If you have to ask, you just don’t get it, and you’re probably not into young adult fantasy fiction.  If that genre strikes your fancy, then I suggest diving into her world straightaway.  You’ll thank me later.

Leigh Bardugo is the New York Time’s Best Selling author of the Grisha Series (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising) and the Six of Crows.  She was doing a book signing for her newest release, Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows.

How did I find out about this book signing?  When I heard Crooked Kingdom was being release this September, I immediately went to Leigh Bardugo’s website.  There, I reviewed her events and books signing gigs.  It was at that moment, I started plotting my adventure.

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Leigh Bardugo book signing for Crooked Kingdom – South Euclid-Lyndhurst County Public Library, OH 9/28/16

Where was she?  There were only a few locations in which she’d be in close proximity to me, Ohio, Maryland and Pittsburgh.  To be honest, I actually looked at all the states and their corresponding dates, to see if I was doing an event with Thrill of the Hunt around the same time.  Alas, nothing was easily working in my favor.  Pittsburgh would have been ideal, however she was one of several speakers at the YALSA event at the convention center on November 4th, and it wasn’t a book signing. Incidentally, I would like to attend the weekend activities with YALSA.  That might be a near future possibility, and a last minute decision.  Next on the list was Ohio, only because the date was a day before the release of Crooked Kingdom, and I couldn’t wait.  I was acting like Kyle, my nephew, when he was a kid and a new Lego was being released.

Initially, when I Googled the location of the book signing, it informed me that it was going to be about an hour and a half trip.  I can handle that.  However, on Wednesday, I called to confirm the evening’s book signing activity, and to ensure they did have copies of Crooked Kingdom for purchase.  I also retrieved the address to GPS.  That was when my jaw dropped.  Keep in mind, I was excited beyond words and I was leaving in plenty of time without rushing or stressing.  What happened?  The GPS said it was going to take me three and a half hours to get there!  What?  I must have previously Googled the branch location.  Yikes!  I was already going to be late.  Did my newest obstacle stop me?  Nope! I darted out the door and put the peddle to the metal.

Where did I go?  I ended up at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst County Public Library in South Euclid, Ohio, across from Notre Dame.  It was a long trip, but one worth it.

I arrived without incidence, but was ten minutes late.  Anyone who knows me, knows I absolutely detest being late, for anything.  Regardless, I scurried into a room full Leigh Bardugo fans without missing a beat.  It was an eclectic assortment of individuals, mostly young adults, but also a variety of ages and genders.  Naturally, Leigh was on time and was in the middle of talking about the book and other projects as I crossed the threshold. Crap!

Prior to Wednesday, I read that DC Comics was teaming up with some writers for a four book collection based on superheros.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Leigh Bardugo was writing the Wonder Woman book.  Can my days get any better?  I love reading her books and now she’s writing a book about my childhood idol!  Life is just getting better and better every minute!

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Leigh Bardugo speaking to her fans & answering questions for the release of Crooked Kingdom – South Euclid-Lyndhurst County Public Library, OH 9/28/16

Before meeting someone of influence and highly respected, there’s always a bit of anxiety.  Let’s face it, we’re all human, and no one is perfect.  There’s that slight chance that person may not be what was envisioned.  Was that the case with Leigh?  Not at all.  The minute I caught up to her conversation, I felt like she was already a friend.  I know that sounds a bit stalker, but it’s true.  She’s saucy, sarcastic, colorful, straight forward, and hilarious.  We’re practically sisters!  She’s the friend you call to go out for a drink, take a road trip or when you need cheering up.

After Leigh spoke and answered questions, we moved into the signing stage of the evening.  As I walked toward the table, I saw the heavens opened up and light streamed down onto Leigh with Crooked Kingdom in hand, like the heavens were pointing the way.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t a religious experience, but I did feel like a kid meeting a rock star.  Seriously?  Yes.  It was a mix between meeting this very cool chick I just heard speaking to the room full of fans, and the desire to jump back into the world of Kerch and Ketterdam, its capital. (Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom)  Yes, her books are that captivating!

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Leigh Bardugo signed my copy of Crooked Kingdom (plus Shadow & Bone & Six of Crows) 9/28/16

Naturally, I grabbed a few of my books for Leigh to sign.  I was going to take them all but I chose against it, I didn’t want to seem like a super fan, even though I just drove three and half hours to meet an author I praise without reservation, even when no one asks.

Believe it or not, after reading the Six of Crows, I reached out to Leigh’s literary agent, to see if I could obtain copyrights to do a Grisha/Six of Crows themed scavenger hunt.  I was instantly and nicely denied.  But in my eyes, that doesn’t mean forever.  Before taking on my midweek road trip, I meant to grab some literature on Thrill of the Hunt to give to Leigh.  Well, I left in such haste I forgot.  I did have a business card, like any good business owner.

During my own personal two minute encounter with Leigh, I mentioned that I reached out to her literary agent.  And you know what?  She seemed very excited, and then asked if I was a writer.  Leigh’s comment actually threw me for a loop.  Of course, for normal people that would be a typical reason for reaching out to a literary agent.  Actually, I wrote a couple books, but nothing published.  Now it was my turn to throw her for a loop.  Briefly, I informed her that I own Thrill of the Hunt and I make theme scavenger hunts.  I mentioned I would like to do a scavenger hunt based off of her books.  For a second time, she had a twinkle of intrigue in her eye.  Then discreetly, (actually not so discreetly) I pulled out my business card and slid it across the table to her, where she graciously tucked it with her purse.

Will anything come from this meeting?  Who knows, but it sure was fun.

Just before I turned into a pumpkin at midnight, I stumbled into my bed.  I was exhausted, yet really excited to crack that book and jump into the twisted and yet exciting story of Kaz Brekker.  I really don’t have an addictive personality, and I can’t say I have any vices, except maybe my books.  Actually, only certain stories can capture my attention and chain my hyperactive antsy bum to a chair.  Leigh Bardugo is one such author.

I was going to take Kyle along, even though he never read Leigh’s books.  If I can get that Kyle off of those video games long enough to read her books, I know he’d really enjoy the story and enjoy the Grisha world.  Why didn’t I take Kyle?  He’s very busy with school and band, and I didn’t want to keep him out late on a school night, especially to meet an author Kyle will only appreciate down the road.  One day when Kyle returns to the land of enjoyable reading, and not just for school, we can hit up a few book signings.

Taking on adventures in made up worlds is so very relaxing to me and keeps me energized.  I have an addiction to traveling to these mysterious lands, and fighting for the good in people and for simple love.  Fantasy keeps me in check with reality.

Now I seriously can’t wait for Wonder Woman.  On a side note, I should have worn my Wonder Woman shirt!

Leigh Bardugo was donating 10% of her book sales from the Troublemakers Tour (9/29 – 10/10) to GEMS, and Macmillan Publishing was matching her donation up to $3000.

Leigh Bardugo Website:

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) mission is to empower girls and young women, ages 12–24, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of girls and young women by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

10/3/16 –  As I was wrapping up Crooked Kingdom, which is a great book, I had papers shoved in the book that fell out and made me think of an addendum to my story above.  While Leigh Bardugo was opening my books to sign, a few receipts and papers fell out.  Naturally, I apologized and then I felt like I should explain, so she didn’t think I was a junk collector.

Whenever I’m reading a book I tend to drag it along with me wherever I go.  Typically, during that time, I find myself taking care of daily activities that sometimes require waiting, such as getting an oil change, sitting at the veterinarian’s office, flying to a new location, and so forth.  Usually, I collect paperwork from those instances.  I intentionally place certain documentations among the pages of my book.  Granted, I can’t leave everything, or it would be a big pile of miscellaneous papers, but I do add a few select items, sometimes.  Why?  Those unrelated pieces of information are record keepers.  My books record my history in a sense, of what I was doing when I read them.  So the next time I re-read the book, it’s like a walk down memory lane.  Plus, one day if Kyle decides to take adventures into my books, he might find it interesting to see my past, even though it’s usually nothing exciting.

I’m also the one who likes to write in the margins of my books, especially if I know someone is going to read it after I do.  I like to make silly comments, or add inside jokes based off of the story.  It’s another way for others to share in my adventure, and I in theirs, because no matter what it, these entries stop a person in their tracks and sparks conversation.

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posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,News,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Gift of Music – The Final Piano Lesson

The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.  ~Kiran Desai

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Close up of Kyle playing the trumpet at Slippery Rock University for 7th grade Jazz Band. 4/5/14

Kyle just turned thirteen a little over a week ago and things are already changing.  I am sad to report, yesterday was Kyle’s last formal piano lesson.  He’s been taking lessons since he was six years old.  Indulge me for a moment, while I take you there and back.

I know I’ve mentioned his music lessons from time to time.   Sweet Sounds of Music Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond Music for the Eyes and Ears When Kyle was a little tyke of about five years of age, he wanted to play the guitar. Great!  I made one of our famous deals with him.   If I got him piano lessons and he learned to read music and play the instrument moderately well, when the teacher said he was ready, I would get him guitar lessons.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.  He thought so!

Since I only believe in unconventional gifts, for Kyle’s sixth birthday, I decided to give the gift of music, piano lessons!  On his celebration day, I told Kyle what I got him, which meant nothing to a six-year-old.  I’m sure he felt “jipped” without having a tangible present from me, but I didn’t care.  I knew deep down inside this was the perfect gift.

Mom called around the area looking for a good piano teacher who would instruct our youngster in all aspects of piano.  God blessed us with a great one, Ms. Debbie! (who is my cousin Merle Piper’s wife’s sister)  Perfect, basically family!  In the more recent years, Kyle was instructed by David Emanuelson, a music student at Seton Hill University.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take Kyle for his first lesson due to work, but mom stepped in to get his musical interest started.  Before she picked him up, she stopped at the local music store and purchased a basic keyboard.  Nothing fancy, just something simple for him to practice on.  Mom commented when Kyle saw it, he was smiling from ear to ear.  He wanted to start playing the instrument right away.  Then, came the lessons.  Keep in mind, Kyle was six years old and probably forgot all about my gift to him, since it was mentioned a few weeks earlier, or he truly didn’t care until it became real.

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The beginning of the trumpet! 6th grade musical From the Inside Out 2013

Mom took Kyle to Ms. Debbie’s house for his first lesson.  She said he was elated!   She couldn’t get him to settle down, he was jumping out of his skin with shear excitement!  That made my day!  In fact, Ms. Debbie was so good with my little man, that she let him strum her guitar and knock on the piano keys before starting, getting him acclimated.  Ms. Debbie said she was happy to see a kid so enthused about lessons, unlike some of her  students who were made to go and didn’t want to be there.  Good so far!

I felt like I was actually there.  Mom called me during the lesson from her car and filled me in on the events leading up to that moment.  She was cracking up over Kyle’s reaction and I couldn’t help but join in, while I was sitting at my desk at work.  I felt like I could see the scene unfold as if I was a fly on the wall.  I know Kyle all too well.

I was thrilled for the kid!  Even though many said Kyle was too young and I shouldn’t waste my money, I knew it was what he needed at the time.  My intent wasn’t to have a child prodigy, but simply to expose him to various music snippets, and the proper way of reading music and playing the instrument.  I was always told that if you can play the piano, you can play any instrument, not to mention he would be able to carry that basic knowledge with him for life.  Like mom always says, no one can take education away from you.  I agree!  Learning something at any age is a good practice.

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Kyle (7th grade) & the trumpet line at Slippery Rock University for Jazz Band 4/5/14

That night, Kyle told me all about his lesson.  He had stars still in his eyes.  He demonstrated what he learned from his NEW piano books and showed me his NEW keyboard.  He was still lit up like a light bulb hours later, from his earlier adventure.  His energy and positive reaction drew me into his experience.  I couldn’t help it, I was psyched, and they weren’t even my lessons!  I did ask Kyle, “So you think you’re gonna like it?”  While I was asking the question Kyle began nodding his head in affirmation before responding “Yes, Aiya (Aunt Heather)!  I love it!”  My heart melted for this little boy and his desire to play the piano.  All I could say was, “So you like your birthday gift?”  Simply he replied, “Yep!”

Over the years, I can honestly say Kyle always did enjoy going to lessons.  I’m not sure if it was the lessons, or the fact that all attention was on him, or he enjoyed learning, or he loved getting stickers (early), or the kudos and positive reinforcement that Kyle thrives on.  Perhaps is was all the above.   He didn’t always like to sit and practice at home, unless we were giving him our undivided attention.  Then, he would practice and practice.

Occasionally, Kyle would explore his keyboard and start playing pre-programmed music.  Sometimes he would get up and dance around the living room or march around.   He was so contagious when he was just plain having fun that I would find myself following in his footsteps.  He was our very own pied Piper (pun included).  He would also get a kick out of playing a song with the sound of another instrument.  Sometimes he would choose the flute or the violin etc. while practicing his lessons.  He always did love to discover different sounds.  I’m guessing it was his way of challenging himself or to spice it up a bit, maybe both.

From early on, we were told Kyle was doing very well.  (Too bad he didn’t practice regularly and wasn’t encouraged from everyone to do so)  He was able to identify different notes just from listening and he started to pick up reading the sheet music pretty well too.  When learning to play with his left hand, he seemed to do so effortlessly, relative to a youngster.  Yep, that was the right move for Kyle at that age.  Please keep in mind, there’s no doubt he has a talent, but he never really tried, leaving his untapped potential a mystery.   Although if he would have practiced more, I bet he would have even impressed himself.

I always tried to encourage Kyle with piano.  I remember when I exposed him to the music of Elton John and the piano man himself, Billy Joel.  He was definitely intrigued.  He even enjoyed some classical music I gave him.  On a side note, one evening we came across MTV Cribbs.  You know the show they walk through the house(s) of the rich and famous.  That evening they were showcasing 50 cent. (I think).  Kyle’s eyes were huge!  He was floored at the grandeur of the place, mostly the electronics.  I told him to keep up playing the piano and he could be that wealthy.  He asked, “I can make money playing the piano?”  Too cute!  My response, “Heck yes!  If you are really that good and dedicated to your discipline.”  He practiced the piano that night without instance!

Eventually, I did get him a guitar and lessons for a later Christmas, in addition to his piano lessons.  Again, unconventional gifts are the best for a growing, curious, smart little boy.  He was never at a loss for toys, especially Thomas the Tank Engine and later Legos.  Mom and dad and Nicole always had that covered!  I handled the gifts that would eventually shape our rug rat from the inside out.

I believed by the time Kyle was eight or nine years old, he was playing the piano with ease and strumming his way through the guitar.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, he would also learn to play the trumpet in junior high and join the jazz band.  I’m glad my family and me were all apart of building the foundation for Kyle’s love of music and his musical abilities.

With the exception of maybe a half a year to year, when Kyle chose to focus on guitar, he always played the piano from the age of six to thirteen.  He was definitely better at piano than guitar, but of course he had more practice.  Although, I was told from Ms. Debbie who initially taught him to play both instruments, that he picked up the guitar better than most.  He was a natural with using his hands on the instrument, without looking at the strings and keeping his eyes on the sheet music.  Again, piano was a good choice for him initially.

Was all that running around and moving schedules and expense and sometimes fighting with Kyle to practice worth it?  Every last second of it!  That was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.  I am so grateful that my parents and my sister all helped me to encourage Kyle and reinforce his lessons.  Also friends and other family members were wonderful when asking Kyle about his music instructions.  The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group let Kyle play Christmas tunes for those attending the soup kitchen one year.  This positive reinforcement helped shape him even more.  I know his dad would have also helped to encourage Kyle too!  He probably wouldn’t have missed a lesson.

http://youtu.be/YvIBKxjqdkM

Honestly, I am sad over Kyle’s decision to stop his piano lessons, but it was always his choice.  He was given the opportunity to stop at any time (unless he was paid up until a certain point).  Yes, sometimes the lessons were an inconvenience when making plans, especially in the summer, but it was a good obstacle to have to work around.  Mom helped out a lot and would step in when I couldn’t.  Personally, I loved taking Kyle to his lessons and sitting there listening to him play and watching him progress over the years.  Mostly, I treasured my time with Kyle and truly enjoyed hanging out with my little man on an off beat day, just the two of us.

Kyle still plays an instrument, the trumpet.  Unfortunately, his guitar days are a thing of the past and maybe the piano will join the guitar in the land of the forgotten, but he’s still involved in music.  He’s in the jazz band at school and wants to join the high school marching band playing the trumpet.  I can’t wait to be a band parent and watch him in his next years of musical progress!  I am very proud!

On another side note, since Kyle’s interests are now into War Machine, I guess I’ll have to take up a new hobby to hang with him.  At least we still have snowboarding!

Check out Kyle’s sixth grade musical.  He’s in the front row, second from the left in the stripped shirt.  This was taken in the spring of 2013.

http://youtu.be/h2Hhal-H0PA

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

A Teenager! Happy Birthday Kyle!

When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.  ~Louise Erdrich

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Kyle & his beloved pappy… there’s a team! Kyle’s 1st birthday 7/30/02 (I was in Korea)

I can’t believe it, our little man is now officially a teenager!  Kyle is a thirteen year old, even though he’s been displaying a teenage attitude for about a year now.  Not constant, but every once in a while the attitude has slipped out of his mouth or through his body language.  I guess that’s typical growing pains.

Kyle is a great kid, he really is.  Yes he has his quarks and Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) tendencies, but overall, Kyle is a good person.  I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow up and more importantly I really enjoy being an integral part of his life and influence.  He is my best bud!  We’ve always been a team.  Even though he is finding different interests and venturing out on his own with his friends, we are still as thick as thieves, at least for now.

In honor of such a milestone birthday, below are a few key funny moments in Kyle’s life we all remember and love and some are still in effect today.  I hope these instances are as bad and as stressful as Kyle’s life will ever get!   

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Kyle & Gigi for Kyle’s 1st birthday! 7/30/02

As a baby, Kyle was always strong willed.  ALWAYS!  I would never have it any other way.  But his attitude would change in a blink of an eye.  My sister called it the 2.2.  He would go from happy little baby to upset child in 2.2 seconds.  I hate to admit it, but it was kind of funny, especially when we would laugh at him and say 2.2.  He didn’t find it humorous in the slightest, not when he was an infant nor later in life.

Kyle was never shy about sharing his feelings or his grievances with us, at any given moment.  I remember clearly one day, Kyle got made at me, I’m guessing I was instigating the little package, and he showed me.  He walked out on the porch and chucked his beloved bottle over the bannister into the front yard.  The snarly look he gave me was way too cute!  Me being me, I found complete humor in the situation.  Mom witnessing the entire thing, yelled at me to stop picking on the kid.  He was adorable, even when angered.  At least at that age.

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Kyle working hard in the strawberry fields. Pollock’s Strawberry Farm Bush Valley 6/28/14

I always did love observing Kyle with his activities.  He would spend hours upon hours lining up his matchbox cars.  Thanks to my sister he owned hundreds of them (no joke).  They always had to be perfectly in line, front to back, front to back, covering the floor or coffee table.  He would concentrate so hard, he blocked out the world around him.  Did I mention his focus included his tongue sticking out like my Uncle Sonny?  I always did find him fascinating, wondering what was going on in his little head.

When Kyle was around two and three years old, and a banana was requested, we had to peel it for him.  The banana had to be stripped down all the way.  Yes, we had to hand him a naked banana and if it broke, well, that was the end of the world.  He would throw a fit and not accept the fruit to eat and demand another.  I’m guessing he felt he couldn’t eat a broken banana or it wouldn’t taste the same or something.  It was a complete tragedy!  Usually I ate the broken pieces, which ticked him off even more.  I never gave in on this one.  He had to learn not to waste food and he wasn’t going to always get his own way.

For a few short years, Kyle would walk around the house with his Scooby-Doo slippers, which were initially three sizes too big.  He loved those things, asking to wear them every waking minute.   Surprisingly, he made his way around the house with minimal trip-age.  After he outgrew those slippers, wearing them until they were too tight, mom and I decided to take him to the store to get another pair.  He picked out ones that looked like a car, even with stuffed wheels on the side.  Letting him try them on to ensure we had a proper fit, Kyle’s mind surprised us again.  After placing the plush cars to his feet, Kyle stiffened up.  He held himself so still and hung onto my arm with all seriousness.  Why?  He thought the wheels were going to shoot him across the floor like roller skates and he was going to roll away!  Mom and I died!  We were laughing so hard, we couldn’t help the panicked kid.  He had no idea what was so funny.  Needless to say, we bought the slippers.

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Kyle’s cakeface for his 1st birthday! Pappy was under that hat … He always did love his sweets! 7/30/02

For years, Kyle believed that the sock manufacturers were making uncomfortable socks with a large seam at the toe just to irritate him.  He believed he was the center of everyone’s attention, even the sock manufacturer and they were out to make his life miserable!  Solution?  We learned that if you turn the sock inside out, the bulky seam was on the outside and didn’t really bother his little piggies.  Believe it or not, there were plenty of other sock issues, including touching his ankle, and the heel of the sock not matching up EXACTLY with his heel etc.  Unfortunately, even though these problems have toned down a notch or two, only because he wears flip flops in the summer, it’s still an argument.   He also believes socks and shoes make his whole body sweat and makes him too hot to wear cloths.

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Kyle lining up his Legos for the ultimate battle! c. 2013

When Kyle first started to wear walking shoes, getting them on with assistance, he would tell us the shoe didn’t fit if his big toe wasn’t able to be lifted comfortably in the confined space.  Yes!  He wanted his big toe to stand up in the shoe, all the way!  To this day, he won’t properly tie his tennis shoes and his hunting boots are about two sizes too big.  Although he is getting better, letting his pap lace up his boots for hunting so he doesn’t trip in the woods.  His tennis shoes still hang off of his feet, making it appear that he will walk out of them at any given moment.

While we’re on the topic of cloths, let’s discuss jeans.  Yes that basic article of clothing that everyone posses, at least a single pair.  Yes, that item that can be dressed up or down and is accepted at most venues.  Kyle HATED jeans.  From the time he was able to give his own opinion on his wardrobe, first grade or so, till he hit the junior high in seventh grade, Kyle never wore a pair of jeans.  EVER!  What did he wear?  Sweatpants or shorts.  Sometimes his sweatpants were the cotton kind and sometimes the shiny pants (which he still wears to this day)  For church, he was and still is never ever permitted to wear sweatpants.  Clothing of choice?  He has to wear dress slacks and in the summer, nice dress shorts.  At the time they had to have the elastic waistband.  Kidding?  Nope!  That always about killed him, but we worked through it, kind of.  He still hates cloths, and getting dressed for church sometimes poses a problem.

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Kyle being held by the Hulk at Legofest 2012 … Kyle’s humor!  Yes that’s made entirely out of Legos!

Switching gears a bit, train gears that is, let’s move onto toys.  No matter who played Thomas the Tank Engine, as instructed by Kyle, they had to be Diesel.  Kyle never did like Diesel, I really don’t know why?  I decided early on, this rule did not pertain to me.  I wouldn’t have a three year old tell me what I was playing with, which always resulted in little temper tantrum, sometimes a big blow up.  He would also dictate how I was to play, which direction to move and what I was doing.  Again, nope!  Kyle had to learn early on that he didn’t always get his own way and others had the freedom of choice.  I reinforced the ideas of compromise and sharing.  It was a struggle, but one learned, kind of.

Around two years and up, Kyle LOVED puzzles.  By the time he was walking till about three years, he was putting together some thousand piece puzzle sets!  Did I mention I hate puzzles?  However, I would turn over the pieces so they were facing up and sit with him while he matched piece after piece to create the picture represented on the box.  He said, “Loot pappy, I’m puzzle boy!”

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Chad Piper (cousin) & Kyle at Gutchess Picnic, Idlewild. c. 2003

Then, after the puzzles came the Legos!  Lego Love Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoFest 2012 Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise Another Lego Christmas  Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old! Lego Obsessive or Driven Going Retro With Star Wars Legos etc. That phase lasted the longest thus far.  Once he discovered Legos there was no going back.  When Kyle was five, we made a bet at his peewee football ceremony and naturally he won.  The prize?  He wanted a Bionicle man, which needed to be assembled, for ages seven and up, I believe.  Kyle always loved a challenge and began putting those pieces together and eventually graduating to a thousand plus piece Lego sets, with movable parts.  I never let the suggested age restrict him.  EVER!  I always encouraged Kyle, especially when it was a challenge!  He knew it and was always proud of himself and his accomplishments.  So was I!  Did I mention he called himself Lego Man? Yes!

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Kyle’s Lego army about to do battle! c. 2011

One last walk down memory lane.  One that we are all grateful he grew out of and did a complete one eighty, reading!  I HATE READING! Reading Brings Generations Together Reading Brings Generations Together…Or Not? Harry Potter Made Me Do It! etc.  Kyle started off loving books.  He would always drag a book to our lap and have us read and rock him in the rocking chair.  LOVE IT!  Then, came the time he had to do the reading, which didn’t go over so well.  In fact, it pushed him to hate reading, which saddened me beyond imagination.  Though, I tried many tactics to change his perception of reading, my sister remembered one method, bribery!  Yes, for a very brief stent, we would pay Kyle in cold hard cash to read to us.  Judge us if you will, but it worked and the benefits of him reading outweighed the idea of bribery.  Of course, I tried may avenues including yelling, grounding, sharing the reading, acting out the story while he read etc.  In the end the most effective was reading to Kyle, Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets, with the most gusto and the best British accent I could muster.  After that book, Kyle chose on his own to continue reading the rest of the series.  I was very proud of him.  Since then I kept up his interest in reading by buying him books anytime he needed one, getting them for him with every holiday and special occasion and sometimes reading the same books so the lines of communication were open.  Yep, that was a struggle but again one well worth it!

In addition to reading, Kyle still loves to hunt, shoot his .22 and his 243 (his dad would be proud), fish, sled ride and snowboard, build (anything), and he loves his dog Scooby (plus Seven, Avery and Storm a.k.a. Lady Fluffington).  Over the years his interest in movies have grown, being a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings (movies and books) the Avengers (all superheros), video games (mostly Minecraft) and now he’s taken an interest in fantasy games such as Summoner Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, and WarMachine.

One of Kyle’s piano lesson songs happen to be Happy Birthday. I thought it be appropriate to record it for all to share on his birthday!

Happy Birthday Kyle!  I hope you have a blessed and exciting journey!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing 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

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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.

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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

Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You!

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.  ~Eric Hoffer

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Kyle hanging with his Aunt Nikki after another successful Christmas. 12/2003

Kyle is notorious for asking for stuff.  I’m not talking about cloths or necessity items, but the complete opposite.  He doesn’t just want Legos, he wants all the Legos ever made.  He doesn’t just want Pokemon cards, he has to have nearly five thousand cards.  And now his newest kick, he doesn’t just want Dungeons and Dragons.  He wants every board game, every piece, every item ever made associated to Dungeons and Dragons.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he likes building Legos and playing board games and cards, and I am very happy he has interests.  But sometimes too much is too much!

However, that’s not the subject at hand.  O no!  Kyle is also notorious for hitting my family up for all sorts of stuff to feed his interests, especially my sister.  Granted, Kyle does exceptionally well in school and Nicole hooks the kid up for his “A”s, and she picks up the tab for shortages when he’s worked off money doing chores around the house.  Unlike myself, Aunt Nikki buckles to his pleas and is always mailing packages Kyle’s way.  Great!  That’s their thing and I couldn’t be happier and supportive.

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Aunt Nikki giving Kyle a good push to get started! What a team! 7/2004

So one would think, one would like to stay in the good graces of gift giving Aunt Nikki and keep buttering her up.  Nope not this time.  This time Kyle screwed up, BIG time!  This past Monday and Tuesday, Kyle had off school for some in service days, which I think is insane, do the meet and greet in the evenings so the kids don’t have to go to school all the way into the middle of June, but I guess that’s for another blog post.  Anyway, Monday, Kyle was helping me in my yard and Tuesday Kyle’s friend Duncan came over to hang.  Great!  Kyle did work REALLY hard all weekend, and I’m certainly glad he had an enjoyable day playing with his friend of like interests.  No big deal.

Well, it wasn’t a big deal, not until Nicole reached out to Kyle to touch base with our little man.  You see, we miss him when he is not directly beside us, and when there’s an opportunity to communicate with our little package, especially on an off time, we seize the chance.  Apparently, Kyle thinks he has immunity from our wrath, and respect is optional while communicating via phone.  Wrong!

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Kyle playing with his new basketball & hoop, courtesy of Aunt Nikki for his 3rd Birthday. 7/2003

What happened?  Nicole called Kyle to see what he was up to, and I guess Kyle didn’t want to talk to his Aunt Nikki because his friend was there.  So how did he handle it?  He hung up on her!  What?  Yes!  When Nicole called me to tell me the story, maybe unbeknownst to Kyle but we do talk and communicate among ourselves like families are suppose to, I was livid!  Furious!  Once Nicole got the words ‘He hung up on me’ out of her mouth I was ready to head over there and grab him by the scruff of his neck!  Lucky for Kyle, good old Aunt Nikki handled the situation before I could intervene.

Nicole said, she was mad and texted him to call her right back.  She said within a matter of 1.1 seconds after the text message was sent, Kyle rang up his trusty money supplier to apologize.  Nicole explained that she was aware he was busy with his friend, but what he should have said was ‘Aunt Nikki, my friend is here and we are busy.  Can I call you back?’  Kyle must have caught her drift and realized the severity of the situation and repeated that sentence back and said he was sorry.  Nicole asked him, “Kyle, are you really sorry?  Because I don’t think you are.”  Again, Kyle apologized and said he was truly sorry.  You know what?  I bet he was scared S%$#less.  Aunt Nikki usually doesn’t make a fuss over some things and rarely gets mad at our little package.  She put him in his place.

The entire time she was rehashing the story, I was fuming!  Nicole felt she handled it, and I believe she did.  She also feels it will never happen again.  Let’s hope not, because if that very situation happened with me, I would have headed straight for Kyle and spoke to him face-to-face.  Not to mention I would have totally embarrassed him in front of his friend and made an example out of him so all his friends knew all about respect demanding Aunt Heather.

Naturally, I told my parents.  Dad was not too happy, to say the least.  But it was handled, however this will not be forgotten, in case it comes up again.

What cracks me up, Kyle knows there’s a package in route to his house as we speak, from his Aunt Nikki for some lame reason.  You know, something like he helped my mom with dishes or he was thinking about dusting the living-room.  Again, those deals are between Kyle and his Aunt Nikki.  I stay out of them totally.  If I was Nicole, I would cancel that order if possible, or I would refuse to let him open it up.  That would bring pure torture to the kid, and really make him pay for his poor choice of inappropriate behavior.  He wouldn’t be able to stand seeing something he wants, sitting there, in a box, and not allowed to open it and play with it.  Pure torture!

Come on Kyle, you are a smart kid!  Think first!  Don’t blow a good thing you have going for you.  For what?  For showing off in front of your friend, or worse, just because you felt like it?  Not cool buddy!  Not only does it benefit you, but your Aunt Nikki truly enjoys sending packages your way, to continuously be apart of your life from a distance.  She loves making you happy!  I hope you learned your lesson and will think first and use your manners.  I would hate to hear you ever spoke to anyone else like that.  That’s not how Piper’s operate.  I know you’re a pre-teen, but if you keep this up you wont hit your teenage years.

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

Kyle’s Very Own Big Bang Theory Gang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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
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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

Happy Birthday Kyle – Marking his 12th Year Journey!

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say  ~J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring

Gigi-&-Kyle-on-his-1st-Bday-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Gigi & Kyle on his 1st Birthday! What a journey it has been… 7/30/02

I was there the minute Kyle was born, ready to help him on his journey and now he is a pre-teenager, hitting the twelve year mark!  Our little man will be in the junior high this year, the big seventh grade.  He has reached another mile marker on the road of life.  I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for Kyle, but I think he had another great birthday.  His usual month long celebration turned into a month-and-a-half long jubilee.  Only Kyle!

Giving Kyle his fist birthday gift of the year, I sent him to Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College for a week, Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise!.  That was at the end of June, then not long after, Nicole took Kyle for a week long road trip throughout the New England states during the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  That Saturday they got back, two Saturday’s ago on July twentieth, we celebrated Kyle’s twelfth birthday.  From what Nicole told me, Kyle laid out his cloths the night before and instructed my sister to be up by 5:00 am so they could get on the road.  He woke up that morning extremely energetic and wanted to get a move on the day to get back.  My guess, he knew he was getting more Legos and he was keeping his eye on the prize.

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Kyle’s 8th Birthday at Chef Dato’s (RIP) at the Tin Lizzy. They had a cooking party of making pizza & pretzels. 2008

Kyle is certainly a leader and a visionary, even on his birthday.  He knew how he wanted it to unfold and he was not shy about giving instructions.  Example, he told my mom that he wanted each of the dogs and my cat to be wearing a balloon.  He wanted balloons at the end of the driveway and he wanted the living-room to be filled with balloons.  He got that idea from me last year.  For his Lego birthday party, besides making a Lego cake, I filled the living-room with balloons so when he woke up that morning, he was walking into an explosion of celebration.  We didn’t quite make it that far this year, but we did strategically place balloons all around the house and on the property.

Last year, I was specifically instructed to make the cake and it was to be a Lego theme, however this year he didn’t seem to be that concerned over the cake.  Instead of going to extremes, everyone agreed on a classic, ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen, since we haven’t had one in a while.  Always a favorite during the summer heat (heck I’d eat ice-cream cake all year long).

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Kyle’s 9th Birthday. I got him flying lessons. Yes he actually flew the Piper plane! 7/2010

When Nicole and Kyle were heading home, he called so many times we lost track.  He wanted to follow-up on the birthday decorating and to ensure the gifts were ready for him when he walked in the door.  He was also giving us his ETA.  What a stinker, always managing and overlooking even the smallest details!

Once they made it to Derry, Kyle called and said, in the most distraught voice, “We’re in Derry!  Oooh,  I think we have another hour to go!”  I think my sister was teasing him a bit, because Derry is only about fifteen minutes away.  Although I will admit when Kyle has his mind set on a goal within his reach, he is one focused bugger!

It was a fun day, he didn’t want to do anything except build his Legos.  Naturally, since he’s on his The Lord of the Rings kick, he got The Lord of the Rings The Tower of Orthanc, which stands a couple of feet tall; and he got The Lord of the Rings The Council of Elrond; and to top it off for a little variety he got the Galaxy Squad Galactic Titan.  I should say he was all set!  Mom had the gifts wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  She asked me if she should get birthday themed paper and I said, “Na, he doesn’t care, as long as they’re wrapped.”  Yes, Kyle has even told us that all gifts must be wrapped!  Once I asked him, “Don’t you think you are getting too old for that?”  His response, “Umm No!”  Point taken, enough said.

After we did the traditional lighting of the birthday candles, and belted out the birthday song, we did force Kyle to give us the condensed version of his road trip with his Aunt Nikki before we lost him to the Legos.  Seeing Kyle so happy, truly makes us all happy!  He had a great trip and came back to a perfect birthday, hanging with the family and building Legos!

Happy Birthday Kyle!  I hope your day is filled with birthday fun and you have another great journey all year!

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Nicole & Kyle leaving to embark on their journey of ‘Aunt Nikki & Kyle’s Week of Fun!’ 7/13/2013

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

Oooh I Like Johnny Depp!

I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.  ~Johnny Depp

Faces of Johnny Depp Aunt Heather PiperA few years ago, Kyle and I attended the movies and naturally while waiting for the paid entertainment of choice, we were forced to watch a slew of movie trailers, one promoting a Johnny Depp movie.  I think it was Dark Shadows but I truly can’t remember.  Anyway, what threw me for a loop, was Kyle’s response to said trailer.  After he saw it showcased the premiere actor Johnny Depp, Kyle said, “Ooooh Johnny Depp!  I like him, he’s a pretty good actor.”  I just smiled.  That was such a funny and unexpected comment to jump out of Kyle’s mouth.  I didn’t even know he knew who Johnny Depp was, let alone liked him!  Although, at this point in my life, I should be acutely aware of Kyle’s attention to detail and observation.  Not to mention he’s a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and I’m a fan of the quirky actor myself, probably commenting on Johnny Depp a time or two.

Soon after that instance, every now and again, the Johnny Depp conversation would make its appearance.  Usually, due to another movie to re-spark Kyle’s interest.  He’s always commented, “I think Johnny Depp is funny.” or “Johnny Depp’s a good actor.” or “Does Johnny Depp always wear weird make-up?”  Then, usually after making Johnny Depp new again, Kyle usually finishes the conversation with, “Umm I should watch the Pirates of the Caribbean again!”  One of his stables, along with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As the conversation makes its usual progression, it shifts slightly and Kyle tries to recall all the Johnny Depp movies.  Like he’s ever heard of Cry Baby or Platoon, but I enjoy the direction and the challenge of our interaction.  A neat exercise that includes Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Rango.  Then, I help Kyle recall a few of my favorites like, Sleepy Hallow (the headless horseman is one of my favorite Halloween stories) and Finding Neverland.  Being slightly older than my little man, I am able to recall a few more movies he’s never seen or has even heard of such as, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Chocolat, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetThrashin’, and Edward Scissorhands (another one of my favorites).  Let’s not forget 21 Jump Street, the show and the movie (yes he made a cameo at the end of the movie).  There are many more, but those are the ones that stand out in my head and seem to make the list within our discussions.

So I guess to answer Kyle’s initial question, “Does Johnny Depp always wear that weird make-up?”, the answer is no, he does not and he doesn’t always play funny.  Although I think he does silly well!

Two weeks ago, before the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’, I took Kyle to see Despicable Me 2.  What do you think flashed across the big screen?  Yep!  Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger.  We both agreed that, that movie was on our list of must sees.  Although that lucky little bugger went to see The Lone Ranger with my sister when they were in New Hampshire, on their road-trip tour of the New England States.   Only that kid!  When I asked him if he liked the movie, he said “Umm good.”  At least that’s as much enthusiasm I get from him for anything other than Legos. So it must been pretty good.

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Kyle likes the roles Johnny Depp plays.  As do I, but I also have grown up with him on the big screen.  Once I saw an interview, well let’s face it I’ve seen many interviews involving Johnny Depp over the years, but this one brought a smile to my face.  Pretty recently he was talking about his kids.  He said he loved taking his son Jack to school, but his son was not happy about the arrangement.  I had the same situation with Kyle.  Kyle would let me drop him off, but I was no longer allowed to walk him inside and certainly not to his classroom.  Forget about giving me a hug and Lord forbid a smooch on the cheek!  Johnny Depp had the same situation.  That entire conversation cracked me up!  It brought Johnny Depp out of the spotlight and into common reality.  During the interview, he was not a superstar celebrity but a dad who enjoyed hanging out and being a part of his kids’ life.  It was refreshing!

His little boy Jack had no idea who his dad is and he certainly had no idea who his dad is to the rest of the world.  Makes you realize that you never truly know what you have.  Instead of showing off his dad or really playing up the hype, Jack was pushing him away like any other child of his age.

I read another story on how Johnny’s daughter was really sick and in the hospital.  To repay the facility and those who took care of her, besides donating a million dollars to the hospital, he also visited the sick kids.  Not as Johnny Depp, but as Captain Jack Sparrow!  He spent most of the day walking around and reading to the kids as the famous captain himself.  Too cool!  What a way to give back!

Funny story.  Once, years ago when I had Kyle up to the Foggy Goggle at Seven Springs Ski Resort while snowboarding, we passed by a larger than human sized Captain Morgan statue.  Kyle turned to me and pointed saying, “Look Aiya, Captain Jack Sparrow!”   Too cute and too funny.  I just encouraged his thought.  Besides, he doesn’t need to know about the Captain Morgan Rum Pirate, at least not yet.

Maybe one day Kyle and I would be able to meet this intriguing actor, whom we both are fans.  More than that, I’m just hoping Johnny Depp keeps his nose clean, at least in the eyes of the news.  I would hate for Kyle to be disappointed by the actions of someone he admires.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Heather?

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

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-on-Merry-Go-Round-Idlewild

Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Picnic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Kissing-Kyle-

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

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

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

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Kyle-at-Chads-Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the complete list of comparisons

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

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

Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise

You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.  ~Brigham Young

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Kyle’s 2nd day of Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College – Bricks 4 Kidz Program 6/25/13

Most people celebrate their birthday the day of their actual birth, or sometime close.  Others take a week or so in preparation and to celebrate the anniversary of their birth.  I really do neither, I’ve never been much of a birthday person.  Seriously, I could care less about my birthday, except it also happens to be my parents wedding anniversary (I was born six years after they were hitched).  Going out to eat, or birthday cakes and such never appealed to me.  Well, cake certainly peeks my interest, but not the celebration.  Yes, as a child I loved to get presents, but it wasn’t like it is today.  Even back then, I remember asking mom to stop the birthday parties.  Just not a big fan.

Kyle on the other hand is a big supporter of birthday celebrations, specifically his own.  Literally, from December 26th up until his day of birth, July 30th, he is preparing, scheming and throwing hints left and right.  Keep in mind, Easter falls between this time and he gets more gifts, not to mention his report card money that tends to go toward more Legos.  But his birthday, day, opens his eyes and fills his head with possibilities like no other.

Keeping with tradition, I never get Kyle toys or video games, basically what he asks for.  Nope!  I get him unconventional gifts.  They are items that I believe give him skills, introduces him to thinking differently, gives him life long knowledge or interests and helps him to grow as a person.  Others, mostly my parents and my sister get him the items that make his childhood bucket list of desirables.  (Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday, Family Time Through an ipod Touch, Happy Birthday Kyle- 10 Years Old!)  I’ve mentioned it in the past about buying him piano lessons, swimming lessons, flying lessons, books etc.  So what to do for his twelfth birthday?

Starting to mill around ideas in my head back in May, which is when Kyle started to throw out hints, I really had no clue.  I’ve been known to give him a saving bond, again another practical gift to force him to save for the near future, but I really wasn’t sure.  Then, thanks to a family friend, Lori Planinsek Rodgers, she gave me the perfect idea!  Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp!

She mentioned it while we were at the 24th Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby, Gone Fishing!.  At the time I just thought it might be something fun Kyle would enjoy, so I mentioned it to him.  Naturally, anything with Legos causes the kid to jump out of his skin.  Well, that is until he found out he doesn’t get to keep the Legos he builds.  Too bad!  Looking online into the programs, the light came on in my head and bingo, his birthday present was established.

Kyles-Lego-going-to-Lego-Camp-at-SVC-Aunt-Heather-Piper-6-27-13

Yes, another Lego even while at Lego camp – Bricks 4 Kidz at Saint Vincent College. That was his report card money courtesy of his Aunt Nikki 6/27/13

This gift accomplished more than just his gift.  Kyle always loved going to daycare (Come and Play) every summer.  He truly looked forward to hanging out with his friends and playing.  The kids not only played, but the daycare ladies  would make them bring books to read and they would have to go outside and run around and do some schoolwork.  Kyle’s days were very planned, very organized and very structured.  All the qualities that make for an enjoyable day for Kyle, truly!  Well, this summer Kyle didn’t go to daycare.  He was seriously bummed and bored!  I wish he was sent at least a couple of days a week, but nope, his summer consisted of hanging by himself at home.  That’s when I thought to send him to camp.  Granted the kid takes more vacations then any other child I know, but it still stinks to sit at home by yourself, not being mentally or physically challenged and being socially deprived.

Originally, I was going to sign him up for the third week in July, bringing it closer to his birthday, but alas that week was the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’.  No good!  So I had to work backwards deciding on the week of June 24th through June 28th, last week.

Signing Kyle up for Animal Grossology in the am session (8:30-11:30) and Space Adventure – Star Wars for the afternoon session (1:00-4:00) at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, all I could think of was how excited he was going to be.

Kyle-Lego-Certificate-Aunt-Heather-Piper-6-28-13

Kyle received 2 certificates for finishing his Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College. Animal Grossology & Space Adventure- Star Wars 6/28/13

Keeping the Lego camp a secret, I alerted the rest of the family and I made arrangements for us both to stay at my parents house all week, which made my parents really happy.  They were looking forward to his Lego camp too for two reasons.  One, to spend the week with Kyle and two, to share in his excitement, knowing how much he loves to build Legos and being challenged.

Leading up to the birthday present surprise, I started to prod Kyle a bit, although he never really took the bait.  Probably because he knew his gift from me wasn’t exactly what he wanted.  I did tell him he was getting his gift early and it involved animals and space.  That sparked one of our dashboard silly conversations Laughing About Nothing…Dog in Space.  Throughout Kyle’s short life, you would think he would learn to trust me.  Our activities are never items he’s thought about or thinks are fun, but he can never deny he loves the gifts I get him.

One of the hints I slipped him, was that he was going to college and it was an educational gift.  He politely smiled and gave me a grunt.  Then he said, “I can’t go to college, I’m not old enough.”  Love that kid!  I told him he’s going and he better pay attention!  I could tell he didn’t know whether to take me seriously or not.  Sometimes I can be such an instigator.

Sunday night, the eve before Kyle was going to partake in his Lego camp adventure, I told him where he was going.  His eyes lit up and excitement shot over his entire body, leaving his mouth ALL night!  To be honest, I was trilled at his enthusiasm but it was getting late and I was tired.  He kept speculating on  what he was going build and what he was going to do.  He commented, how much he loved animals and told me how much he knows about animals.  Then he went into his dissertation on space and Star Wars.  It was a long night until the sandman knocked Kyle out.

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Kyle his a great little guy! Check him out helping another, at the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College! 6/24/13

The next morning and all week he was up early, got himself his breakfast and got dressed, all without incident.  The first day was a bit rough, especially at lunch.  I packed us a lunch and thought we could picnic at Saint Vincent College and then walk around a bit.  I wanted to share with Kyle, some of what I remembered Father Alred teaching us about the buildings and the history when I was in the sixth grade at Sacred Heart.  (I found out that I remember very little and need to research the college again to bring back what I knew.)  Kyle was very quiet and almost blasé about his morning and kind of complained about his lunch.  Then, he didn’t want to walk around, didn’t want to sit, didn’t really care to go back.  I was in complete shock and let’s face it, irritated.  Only because I thought Kyle didn’t appreciate this opportunity.  Keep in mind it was pretty hot and humid out.

I dropped Kyle off for his afternoon class and then picked him up at 4:00.  Same attitude, same almost lethargic demeanor.  At this point, I thought Kyle was getting sick or maybe he was tried from getting to bed so late and waking up pretty early.  That is until the next day brought me my answers.

As I dropped him off for his morning session, I spoke to the one teacher to see how Kyle was doing.  She informed me that the room was really hot and evidently since it was an old building, putting the air conditioning on cool meant they were turning on the heater!  Yikes!  Kyle was sitting in not only a hot room, but it was being heated too!  No wonder he was so miserable.  The kid HATES being hot.  Not that I can blame him.

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Kyle loved the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College! 6/26/13

By the time I picked Kyle up for lunch on Tuesday, it was like he did a one eighty!  He was ecstatic, energetic and completely excited to tell me about his day and what he built!  I was so happy I didn’t make a mistake with the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp.  I did not!  It was a hit, now that the temperature in the room was bearable.

What a great week!  Everyday, Kyle and I ate breakfast together; then I dropped him off for his morning class; picked him up for lunch, which we made and ate together; dropped him off for his afternoon session and then picked him up when his day was done.  Actually, everyday except Friday, mom picked him up for me since I was getting the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt ready for the following day.  (For my company Thrill of the Hunt)  That was the start of the Dog Gone Irony!

Kyle had a GREAT time!  He not only got to feed his addiction of  building Legos, but he fed the brain too with animal knowledge and space talk.  As much as Kyle won’t admit to it, he loves to learn and discover new things and experiences, much like the rest of my family.  Lori, who introduced me to the Bricks 4 Kidz Program, messaged me this:

I see you’ve been busy dog hunting the past couple days, but I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to see any of the videos posted for Bricks 4 Kidz! Looks like Kyle loved the programs! His teacher brought their entire class (5 or 6 kids) up to our class to show us how Kyle put a motor on the kangaroo (which wasn’t in the plans) and made it move – WHAT A GENIUS! I was proud of him and he’s not even mine!

Kyle surprises me all the time and makes me proud too!  He is a bright young man, that will no doubt shine in his future endeavors, whatever they may be.

He was an absolute jewel the entire week!  Seriously, the happiest and most non-argumentative child.  Everyday he came home and practiced his piano and read in his book.  Then he would watch some of his Lord of the Rings movies, watched a little TV or played with one of his many Legos.  He never complained about dinner and ate some of his veggies.  He even showered every night with little resistance and brushed his teeth without being asked, morning and night.  He was in a routine of structure, family, and good eating habits.  Believe it or not, it made the world of difference on his attitude.

I highly recommend the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego camp or any of the offered classes!  The teachers are really great to deal with, they have such a positive attitude and the benefits the children receive are priceless.  I’m not just talking about learning to build, but the socialization, the structure, the added knowledge and the attention are so good for the kids.  Kyle was looking into other Lego classes and wants me to sign him up for more.  If he can fit it into his busy schedule, I totally will!

Thanks Lori!  You saved my birthday gift dilemma and brought so much more to one little boy than you can imagine!  You really are a true teacher through and through.

Below is a video I took of Kyle.  I creeped into the classroom, while he was still playing with his creation of the day.  The kid was in complete glory!

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

Family Cooking Raises Healthy Lego Building Kids

I think careful cooking is love, don’t you?  The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.  ~Julia Child

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Kyle hanging with the Star Wars Boba Fett or Janko Fett at LegoKidsFest 2012 in Pittsburgh

My family is like many who enjoy cooking and cooking together.  We really don’t eat out a lot, hence the congregation in the kitchen when hunger pains arrive.  Seriously, we don’t even really eat fast food.  In fact, the only fast food joints I support when I am in a pinch, or if the graving takes is Chick-fil-a, their service and friendly demeanor is always awesome and contagious, not to mention I love their chicken; or SubWay, when I need serious food and I want to control what is put on my sandwich; or Panera, when I’m looking for better tasting quality food, quickly; or Jioio’s when I want my thin, slightly sweet crust pizza; or any other pizza joint for that matter.  Every now-and-again I will make my appearance at a 5 Guys Burger & Fries or a Sonic or a Dairy Queen, but again that’s rare.  Nope, eating out is a rarity not a daily choice.  I was raised that way, and so I continue to keep the tradition.

I’ve said it before and the same still holds true, I enjoy cooking, especially with Kyle!  No matter if we are talking about breakfast, lunch, dinner or a simple snack, cooking together always makes it more fun!  Kyle really likes being in the kitchen, but he prefers to develop his food with the assistance of others.  Not that I can blame him, cooking together is way more fun and sometimes exciting when we start experimenting with ingredients.

In the past, cooking was a way for me to reinforce Kyle’s reading and his math by making him read the recipes to me and forcing him to figure out the measurements himself.  (Inner Conflict, Egg Sandwich Spectacular, Healthy Smoothie Sunday) Not to mention it was a great way to introduce him to different dishes, expanding his pallet and to teach him about the health benefits of specific foods, or lack there of in some cases.  Yes, I don’t always make the healthiest of dishes, but at least I am aware of what goes into the items I consume.

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Kyle & his pappy getting ready to mentor deer hunt. We eat a lot of deer meat throughout the year. 2012

Same goes for Kyle.  I have always stressed the importance of eating healthy, however I have also demonstrated the moments of weakness and giving in to temptation.  When I splurge and steer clear of nutritious foods and swap them with junk food, I am also aware of how much I consume and how often.  Not to mention I have always lived by example to burn off the food through various exercise.  I’m not saying I am the poster child for physical fitness, but I do try and make a conscientious effort to demonstrate good healthy behaviors to Kyle.  I’m not saying he completely listens to me, but I know the information is being stored up in his cranium cavity…somewhere.  It’s my job to guide him in the right direction, even if I’m pushing him up a very steep hill.

This week has been wonderful, spending every day with Kyle.  For his birthday, I bought him two Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camps at Saint Vincent College.  He’s been going all week with a morning session and an afternoon session, allowing us to hang out together for lunch.

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A rare treat at IHOP. Kyle wanted caramel hot chocolate. He was reading the Hunger Games while enjoying his dessert drink! c. 2011

All week we’ve been doing breakfast, lunch and dinner together!  And you what?  He has been eating healthier.  I’ve seen his improvement over these few short days.  When we cook together and eat together, Kyle is making better choices with his nutrition.  Plus, having the right foods on hand is a big part of it.

Everyday, he gets to help pick out what he wants for lunch and every day we make the meal together!  Like I said he loves being in the kitchen, helping to prepare the food, cut, stir and flip.  When we’re done, he is truly proud of what he’s made and knows I approve of his eating choices.  This situation just makes everyone happy!

Speaking of happy, Kyle has been seriously energetic and upbeat!  Keep in mind he’s been building Lego’s every morning and night, and this week, one of his rewards for his great report card came in the mail, in the form of another Lego.  So those certainly can sway a child’s attitude, but it also has to do with what is digesting in his gut.  When y0u eat right, you feel right!

Example, Kyle used to like vegetables when he was little.  Then all of a sudden he refuses to eat them, even though I know he doesn’t hate certain veggies.  One day this week, Kyle and I made a huge salad, per both of our suggestions.  He helped me chop up the salad stuff including the carrots and mushrooms.  More importantly, he was excited to make the salad large enough so his Gigi and pappy would have some for dinner.  He not only ate one salad for lunch, but he ate two and then one for dinner!  Granted it was coated in French dressing (low fat), but it wasn’t covered in cheese and no croutons made their appearance.  Just good old fashioned vegetables.  He LOVED the salad and was proud of what he made and his choice for consumption.

I am still amazed over what a difference a few days make, when choosing to eat correctly!  Granted, he does eat pretty good on the weekends, but a lot of the time, that’s our cheat days, which unfortunately is just a continuation of Kyle’s normal week.

Sometimes Kyle tells me what he’s had during the week, and although it sounds fine, the food items he eats are all processed crap.  Full of fat, sodium, not to mention the extra junk they throw into food bought off the shelves that alter our natural body’s chemistry.

The more I learn, the more I’ll continue to teach Kyle and try to live by example.  After all, it’s my job to fight for his health as much as it is for his spiritual well-being and his brain development.

Wander what he wants to eat for lunch today?  I can’t wait to pick him up!

 

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

Home Away From Home – Parker Dam

Home is where the heart is.  ~Pliny the Elder

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Mom, Kyle & dad are packed & heading to Parker Dam. The boys (Seven & Scooby) are in the back. 6/13/13

Making another voyage to Parker Dam this past weekend, proved to be as nice of a time, as our other trips.  It was funny though, for some reason I really payed attention to my neighbors.  First, I’d like to explain that we always camp in the area approved for dogs.  Our favorite spot is lot number 90.  A nice little section out of the way, just outside the woods and near the restrooms and not far from the showers.

On Saturday, when Kyle and I were coming back from the Parker Dam beach, while riding my bike waiting for Kyle to drop his attitude and catch up to me, which incidentally he was moving so slow he could have grew moss, I people watched.  On a side note, I was reminded of something said to me last time we were riding our bikes at Parker Dam.  Kyle said, “Aunt Heather, we are on self propelled two wheel transportation devices.”  I have no idea where that came from, but it shot out of his mouth and almost made me fall off of my bike.  Anyway, as I peddled along, for some reason I really paid attention to the eclectic group of individuals staying on the camp grounds.  Some visitors only stay a night and move on, while others set up camp for what seems like a lifetime.   As different and unique as our fingerprints, same goes for the camp site setups and their dwellings.

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Sunday morning it rained at Parker Dam. Look at Nicole heading to the restrooms! I was dying when I saw her…yep she blends. Is she going to the bathroom or hunting? 6/16/13

Looking around at the different types of campers, meaning the vehicle they reside in while camping, not a reference to the person, I was utterly amazed!  Some camp sites are very rugged, getting back to the basics with a simple tent on the ground, while others set up a second home complete with satellite TV and a name plate posted in front of their temporary residence.  To be honest, I never noticed everyone else before.  We tend to stay to our own little rented out corner until it’s time to depart.  Personally, I really don’t care what everyone else it doing.   I, like my family, enjoy a little solitude and peace with nature, however as I peddled along my eyes were wide open.  I couldn’t believe what I saw!  I mean lights strung up in all shapes and sizes including chili peppers and ice-cream cones; a neon palm tree stuck in the ground with pink flamingos positioned all around; potted plants hanging from awnings; and huge tents to fit a wedding party staked to the ground.  Can you believe others take all that extra time for such embellishments while camping?  You better believe it!

I’m a pretty simple traveler no matter the destination Traveling Habits, only taking the essentials, not extra stuff.  That certainly holds true for camping.  Before we left and started packing up the camper, I thought to myself, ‘Boy this is a lot of work just for one weekend.  Is this really worth it for a two hour trip, a three day stay in a camper?’  I can’t imagine how long it takes those elaborate campers to pack up for their weekend stay, let alone set up camp.

You know, at first I can sit back and kind of make fun and laugh, but the more I looked, the more I noticed something, these little pieces of grassy lots holding all this stuff, is a home.  It certainly is that way for us.  In fact, there was a couple of times mom would say, “When we get back home”, meaning our camper.   It’s true what they say, ‘Home Is Where the Heart Is’.  And as I watched everyone have a great time, their heart was fully into camping, maybe not so ruggedly but the experience was there.  It almost made me feel like I was a part of something bigger.

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Seven & Scooby are packed & ready to head out to Parker Dam. They love the ride! 6/13/13

My parents had a neighbor, the Davis’ who used to take their RV camping.  They even had an electric golf cart so they could drive around the camp grounds visiting friends and socializing.  We are not that outgoing, but we did manage to break away for our isolation to chit chat with a few of our neighbors, who were nice and very interesting.  The one lady was in a wheelchair, yet she liked to camp, so their beast of a camper called the Wolf Pack folded down in the rear, allowing her to drive her motorized transportation up into her safe haven.

There was another lady walking her dog and kitten.  Yep!  Kitten!  A cute little tiger striped eight week old kitten.  The fury feline walked alongside the lady and her husband, while he walked their dog.  Now that kitten got me to stop and make a friend, as did Kyle.  He was obsessed with the fur ball!  When I told her I also brought my cat, she said, “O ya!  I had to, she’s still on the bottle and I didn’t want to leave her with my other cats.  I thought people would think I’m weird, camping with a cat.”  I totally laughed and said, “Cats are as much apart of the family as dogs are!”  Yep, we were surrounded by interesting and really down to earth people.

The weekend turned out to be another enjoyable trip.   It started off on Thursday night.  Kyle rode up with mom, dad, Seven and Scooby and the camper packed full, while Nicole and I left Friday during the day.  We were suppose to leave Latrobe around nine, however my sister convinced herself it was Saturday and apparently she wakes up later on the weekends.  Me?  I prefer to get up the same time all week long so my body is used to it and it becomes habit. Now I’m not saying I do wake up at 5:00 am every day of the week, but I do set that alarm to keep me in the rhythm.  Anyway, Nicole didn’t get up until around 8:00 am and she had a four hour drive to get me.  What?  Really?  Yep!  She finally got to the house at 1:00 pm and we made it to camp around 3:00 pm.  Not bad, even though I was looking forward to fishing with dad and Kyle in the morning, but no harm done.  Dad said the fish weren’t biting anyway.

Throughout our time at Parker Dam, we did a little biking, a little swimming and playing in the sand at the beach, we traipsed around with the dogs in the creek, made mountain pies and s’mores over the camp fire and relived the last time we were at Parker Dam.  Somewhere between Kyle’s need of an attitude adjustment and the fun and pleasant young man I know, he was singing uncontrollably.  All sorts of songs, including Christmas tunes.  What really brought a smile to my face and a song to the my lips, is when we were cautiously walking around in the creek and Kyle started singing Señor Don Gato!  I love that song!  I taught it to Kyle when he was just able to speak.  What brought that on?  I have no idea, but it was the perfect song for singing, while splashing around in a creek, in the middle of the woods.

Saturday night they had movie night!  They played Brave at their outside amphitheater.  It was really cool watching a movie in the middle of the woods outside in the nice cool air, while sitting under a blanket.  I loved it!  Almost like the drive in, only better!  While we were there we met a lady who was originally from Latrobe.  Incidentally, she was good friends of my parent’s neighbor, who were also friends of the family, the Ferry’s.  What a small a world!

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Check out the Piper bonfire! We never do anything small, not even hanging around a campfire at Parker Dam. 6/16/13

Funny story:  Sorry I can’t remember her name, but she is a manager of the park.  She also previously came across my blog, finding it on her Google alerts for Parker Dam.  She read my last few blog posts about our camping experiences at the park.  Smart lady, doing her homework and hearing first hand what others are saying.  I can only say good things about Parker Dam.  The facilities and amenities are very clean and really nice and the park rangers are very pleasant and respectful.  I’m not the only one who thinks so.  I have a friend who goes there twice a year, they’ve been doing since she was a little girl.  Well done!  Two thumbs up for Parker Dam!

Sunday morning rained.  Did we care?  Nope not at all!  We were in our very own dry safe haven.  It was just like being at home.  Nicole, Kyle and I played card games, Three of a Kind was the game of choice, although sometimes we broke out a mean game of war.  I brought the chess set, however it never made its appearance.  Kyle and I both read, I was working on Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring and his journey took place in Lord of the Rings The Two Towers.  Mom, dad, the dogs and Storm?  They laid around and nodded off and on.

With all this “stuff”, guess what also managed to make its appearance?  Yes you guessed it the Legos!  On Saturday night I sat with Kyle on our big rock by the camp fire and helped him set up the battle and played a little.  Funny story!  Kyle thought me and his Aunt Nikki were taking my car to camp so right before he departed on Thursday night with mom and dad, he loaded my car up Legos.  I mean loaded!  They covered the backseat, the passenger seat and the floor of all three places.  When I opened the door I thought I was at war.  Kyle said, “Ya that’s so when you get there, I would have already set up my battle and you can bring the reinforcements.”  Naturally, that’s exactly what I was thinking for our camping trip, to drag around a ton of Legos.  Only a few made the trip.

Now looking back on the weekend, and realizing what I am remembering are now memories, memories of fun, memories of togetherness, memories at our home away from home, I realize all the packing and hulling stuff, setting it up and tearing it down, ‘YES it was totally worth it!’  Can’t wait to do it again!

Read other adventures at Parker Dame

Fishing Towards Independence
Just Had to Take It to Parker Dam
Parker Dam State Park Story
Lego Love

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

Laughing About Nothing … Dog in Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog Gone Scavenger Hunt Thrill of the Hunt

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

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

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

Catch all the ridiculously funny stories!

Laughing About Nothing
Laughing About Nothing … True Story

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

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

Lego Love

If you got to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you.  If you to to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you.  Whatever good things we build end up building us.  ~Jim Rohn

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Kyle built his new Legos. His favorite activity even at Parker Dam. 5/18/13

Kyle, even at eleven years old, ready to go into the seventh grade, still has a love for Legos.  Mentioning it a time or two, or three or four (Another Lego Christmas, Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoKidsFest 2012, Shopping Spree, Kyle Asks for Prayers, Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Seattle – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 4 and the list goes on and on), Kyle’s love of Legos is even stronger now than it ever has been.  This past Easter was no exception, as well as our last camping expedition.  In fact, just about everywhere we go and everything we do includes this building block activity.

Let’s start with Easter.  Unfortunately, I missed this past Easter.  I was seriously sick and just laid there like a slug.  Actually, I felt bad for two big reasons.  One, because I wanted to enjoy the holiday with my family and two, because I promised Kyle I would wake up with him at the crack of dawn, like I have done every year, to watch him find the Easter eggs.  Yes, he instructed us to hide the eggs, even though he is well aware the Easter bunny is not real.  The kid didn’t want to miss out on anything and that included looking for the pastel colored plastic eggs, usually filled with change.  Kyle is anything if consistent.

Side story!  Kyle’s youth group held an Easter egg hunt.  While they were setting it up, Kyle had to serve mass and missed being apart of the assembly of the event.  They let him participate since he didn’t know where the eggs were hidden.  Naturally, Kyle found the golden egg, which allowed him to take this chocolate bunny wrapped in gold foil embellished with a dangling collar ornament.  Mom, who picked our little man up after he was done said, “You should have seen Kyle.  He was so excited about participating he forgot he was upset.  He showed me his chocolate bunny.  He even pointed to the collar and said ‘OOo Gigi, look!’.  I tell ya what, that kid!  He always manages to come out on top.”  And he certainly does.

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You’d think this smile was from the excitement of heading to Parker Dam for the weekend. I’m not entirely certain. 5/17/13

Kyle and the rest of the family enjoyed Easter, while I laid on my death bed.  I’d like to call out an observation I made.  Easter used to be a celebration of Jesus and it is, but it has certainly taken on another form, an almost Christmas gift giving quality.  To counter act this new trend, I make sure I take Kyle to the Stations of the Cross during lent.  I even reviewed the Stations of the Cross with him independently, in addition to CCD class and going to church.  Kyle knows the true meaning of Easter and Christmas, however he also has this affinity for those Legos.

Easter, arriving on Sunday, March 31st of this year was the same.  Kyle was at no shortage of Legos to put together and play with.  Did I break down and fall into the Lego frenzy?  Nope, I purchased Kyle a few books on how to play chess and an Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook.  I must say, even though he loves his Legos, that goes without question, he did like the books.  Since then we’ve made a few recipes out of the cookbook and we’ve perused the chess books while playing a few mean games, picking up new tips.  Even though he appreciates his supply of Legos, I think the chess books took him off guard and was a pleasant surprise.  He loves to play chess and he’s pretty good at it.  He even wants to join the chess club at school, if they have one.  Knowing that, I wanted to encourage him.

Did he use the chess books as much as he played with the Legos, nope but that’s fine.  At least he plays with his Legos and still uses his imagination and enjoys himself.

I’m just going to discuss his Lego love from this past spring.  Nicole and Kyle have this on going deal.  When he gets A’s on his report card, she slips the kid some cash to spend on whatever he chooses.  Can you guess what he had his eye on this report card?  Yep, more Legos!  Seriously, I thought he owned them all!  I guess not.

The ordering process is down to a science.  Kyle picks out the Legos he wants, emails the Lego name and sku number to my sister and Nicole usually orders the goods to be delivered to the house.  That way he can track the packages and there is no hold up waiting for my sister to come home to drop off the Legos.

However, this one particular time there was a flaw in the system and the Legos never showed up.  Even though the online receipt was claiming it was delivered.  Kyle was stressed!  Who had his Lego?  Is he ever going to get another one?  And so on and so forth.   That sparked emails back and forth between me, mom and Nicole.  It was really funny, even though I know Kyle was sincerely stressed over the situation.  Eventually, Nicole had me go to the store to pick up the Lego to cool his horses.  I did, reluctantly.  I don’t think we should jump every time Kyle says how high, although he wasn’t pushy with us, just distressed.  Also, he did do a great job on his report card and earned that money fair and square.

Aunt Heather Piper 2-4-13

Would you believe months later, the neighbor realized they had the package all along and returned it to Kyle?  I’m not sure how someone doesn’t recognize a package delivered that has LEGO, written clearly across the top in bright letters.  I mean didn’t the sound of a million tiny little brick pieces give it away?  Not to mention, Kyle personally called and stopped over to see if Kyle’s mail found its way to the wrong house.  Whatever.

After the missing package resurfaced, I guess Kyle called my sister and asked what he should do with the Lego, since she already paid for this one and he got the same set, when I picked it up.  Another side note.  That was a nice gesture, Kyle could have just assumed he was getting that Lego or not mentioned it at all.  Yet, instead he called my sister right away to keep her in the loop.  Nicole told him to keep the Lego and have two.  A comment that sent pure happiness through Kyle.  A random surprise for the day.  For once no argument came from our little Lego lover.

Now let’s discuss this past report card, for the third quarter.  Yes, my little man got all A’s and a B in writing.  I’m perfectly fine with that!  He worked hard and did a great job!  His reward?  Ask his Aunt Nikki, who seems to be his Lego supplier.  He was rewarded with more Legos to build and play with, at his request.  His theme of choice for this batch?  Lego Star Wars.

Aunt Heather Piper 2-5-2013On May 17 – 19, just a few weeks ago, we went to Parker Dam for camping and fishing.  (Fishing Towards IndependenceJust Had to Take It to Parker Dam, Parker Dam State Park Story)  Mom and dad left earlier on that Friday before us.  I had to wait to get Kyle off of the bus before making our journey.  While we were packing and making our preparations, the Legos Nicole ordered came in.  All along prior to this time, Kyle would call Nicole and mom to check and see if the precious packages arrived.  Can you believe him?  Yep, it’s true!

Mom instructed me to put the new, highly anticipated Legos in my car.  What?  Are you kidding me?  We were going camping and fishing, not hanging out putting together Legos!  Reluctantly, I did as instructed and added the Legos to the contents of my car.  As Kyle got off the bus, he peeked inside the windows to see the huge boxes, a total of three were present.   The smile that erupted from his face was contagious and truly delightful!

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Kyle hid away in the camper to put together his Legos. Kyle brings camping to a whole new meaning. 5/18/13

As soon as we got on our way, Kyle did his usual inspecting of the packaging and reading the number of pieces in each box, the characters supplied in each Lego set and so on and so forth.  I think he does that on purpose to build his excitement even more.  He couldn’t wait to bust open the boxes and go to town.

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Close-up of Kyle assembling his Legos. A new way of camping at Parker Dam 5/18/13

Once we got to Parker Dam on Friday night, after Storm took off for the woods to play Jeremiah Johnson, Kyle opened a box of Legos and began to assemble.  He didn’t want to head down to meet up with his pap to fish, he didn’t want to help me look for my missing cat, he didn’t even want to get out his bike and go for a ride.  He wanted to build!  It’s like an addiction for him.  At least it’s a healthy learning one!

Literally, I had to pace him with the Legos and force him to think about other things while camping.  Once Kyle is involved or introduced to something else, he has a great time.  It’s just getting him to that point that can be tricky.  Throughout the weekend, we did manage to get our bikes rolling and explore the campsite a bit, as well as an unmarked dirt road.  On Sunday, we took the dogs for a walk in the nearby woods.  Even though we weren’t suppose to separate them from their leashes, we did so the boys could stretch out their legs.  After all, they were used to running free in the woods while we hiked.

But I bet the highlight to Kyle’s weekend, besides trudging through the creek and splashing with the dogs and getting all wet, was building and playing with those Legos.  Ok, maybe out fishing me made the top of his list too.

Saturday, after fishing in the morning, became the Lego building time.  Our camp fire was positioned by a large rock.  Kyle used that to play on.  It was his base of his Lego war.  As we hung around the campfire shooting the breeze, Kyle played with his Lego characters and their flying transportation devices.  He really enjoyed himself!

I guess any situation is a perfect situation with Legos, and any situation can be made a Lego good time.  Even if it was an enjoyable one without the primary colored building blocks.  I’m looking to sign Kyle up for Bricks for Kidz camp.  I bet he would enjoy that!

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

Fishing Towards Independence

All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.  ~Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

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Me fishing at Parker’s Dam. These were the only fish I caught… while dad & Kyle reeled in the big ones.  Yes it was very early in the morning!  5/18/13

Kyle amazes me, he really does.  Some days he is still the kid I’ve always known, maybe too much like a kid, and other days, he’s such an independent little man.  It’s really weird to say Kyle is independent.  He’s never really exhibited self-supporting behavior, ever.  Kyle has always been the type of the child that needed someone to join him in doing any activity, even watching TV and sometimes playing.   Sometimes he entertains himself, but he usually likes the social activity.  When he was really little, it was even difficult for him to walk back the hallway without someone by his side.  Nope, independent and Kyle have never been synonymous.  That is until recently.

Two weekends ago my family, including the dogs and my cat, went to Parker Dam for a short weekend get away.  My sister couldn’t make the camping and fishing weekend of fun, but there will be a next time.  Mom and dad got there really early Friday morning.  When I mean early, I mean early.  Mom said dad had her up at 3:00 am to leave early and get a head start on the day.  Not me, I had to pick Kyle up off the bus, before heading out and joining up with the parents, and Seven and Scooby.

Friday night was pretty uneventful, except for Storm.  She worked her way out of her harness, twice, and made a break for the woods.  The night went perfect when she came back unscathed.  In fact, she ran around all weekend, going in and out of the woods along side our campsite.  I was afraid of a coyote or owl or some other wild beast getting their claws in her fluffy middle, but to keep her caged up would be inhumane.  She loves being in the woods, much like myself.  Sometimes it’s hard to let go without hovering or controlling, but it’s a part of life.

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Scooby hanging out in Parker’s Dam. Ever since the tumor was removed from his chin, he looks 10 years younger! He got a facelift. 5/18/13

And so my story begins, at 4:00 am on Saturday morning.  The time dad felt was the appropriate hour to get everyone up to go fishing.  Yes, it was still pitch black and for some reason he wanted us to have our hooks baited before we drove down the road, maybe a half a mile to our fishing site.  All the while we were getting ready, Storm got out of the camper and was running around, jumping and leaping for joy.  She was like Houdini.

As we started fishing and getting our bearing straight, basically rubbing the sleepers out of our eyes and realizing we are dealing with little hooks attached to our four pound fishing line, something changed.  As I looked around, the sun rose over the misty still water, and as I was standing in the crisp morning air, life seemed peaceful.  It felt as if God Himself was squeezing my shoulder as if to say, ‘Things will be fine, all is in My hands.’  And you know what?  They were, they are and they will always be.  Even more than that, something was changing, was different.

Once dad began pulling a few fish from the undisturbed water, I looked around to see what was so unusual.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Everything seemed normal, and then the fog lifted and I saw it as plain as an early morning.  Kyle was fishing alone.  It was an interesting observation, a unique sight, a bittersweet moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy he went off on his own, yet felt a ting of pain for such a shift in the normal.

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Kyle & dad fishing at Parker’s Dam. They both are fishing machines! 5/18/13

At Parker Dam where we fished, there are two different lakes if you will.  They are actually one connected by a tunnel under the road that separates them.  The same fish move between the two areas.  All along, dad who is really the only real fishermen between us, commented periodically to move around if we weren’t catching anything.  As he’s always done.  At first dad always tells us what bait to use and where to stand, only because he wants us to be as successful as possible.  Nothing makes dad happier than to have us out fish, or out hunt him.  However, dad is always open to our judgement calls, sometimes.  This time I was in a little bit of shock.  Kyle was sitting on the bank, of the opposite lake to me and dad, all by himself.  I never even noticed the change, even though I should have because up until that point, Kyle was talking nonstop and that sudden silence should have tipped me off of the break in the ordinary.  He was quiet.  Just sitting there fishing, I think enjoying the moment.  At least for that moment.

As I watched Kyle fish with his back toward me, all that popped in my head was the movie A River Runs Through It, when the Brad Pitt character, Paul went off fly fishing on his own for the first time to find his own rhythm.  And then I thought, ‘Boy he’s growing up!’  I must say, I am honored to be there for Kyle’s next step in life.  After all, I was honored having the 0pportunity of being there when he first rolled over, first pulled himself up, first learned to walk, his first words.  Heck I even took him to get his first hair cut, and now his first big movement towards independence.  Yes bittersweet!  It’s funny, at that moment I also realized the dad in the movie, out fished his sons, just like dad always does with us.

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Kyle just had to bring his new Lego’s camping & fishing in Parker Dam. I guess you can never take the Lego out of the boy. 5/18/13

Me, dad and Kyle had a great morning fishing.  However, after a few fish under his belt, Kyle decided he wanted to head back to camp.  What?  By himself?  Yes, he started walking toward our camp solo.  Dad and I both looked at each other as he crested the top of the hill, past the water, out of our site.  In fact, we were both taking bets if he would change his mind and just turn around to come back, or if he was going to complete his journey.  Keep in mind, there were boxes of Lego’s awaiting him.  So I’m sure that was his driving force.  Apparently, he made it to the rangers office, which was about the halfway point.  He said he couldn’t remember his way back so he call my mom to come and pick him up.  That surprises me because Kyle has a great sense of direction, much like my parents and not like me and Nicole.  But he did, and mom came and life was all good while dad and I continued fishing.

After we were done, we drove to a more remote part of the water running into a creek to clean the fish.  Dad and I scaled and gutted the catch of the day.  It was another moment that I couldn’t help think, this is what dad used to do with Ryan all the time.  I was even using Ryan’s knife.  It was a great day, and for most people, it was just about to start.

Now to lighten the mood, funny story.  When we got back mom was extremely eager to share a story with us.  She was already laughing so hard, she could barely tell it.  Intrigued, I gave her center stage and my fullest attention.  Apparently, when we left at the crack of dawn, mom and the boys went back to bed.  Go figure. (sarcasm)  Mom said all of a sudden her sleeping bag was pulled off of her and she felt the camper shake and lean to one side.  For the record we have a little pop up type of camper with the fold out sides.  She said the camper all of a sudden leaned to one side, she heard a thud and it bounced back.  Thinking it was us, coming back early and screwing with her, she popped her head up and looked around.  Then she noticed Scooby was no longer beside her.  She got up to find Scooby at the door, and as she opened it he ran and jumped in the opposite bed.  She figured that he was so sound asleep, he somehow rolled out of the side of the camper.  The area where the fabric is only pulled down over the foldout bed.  I’m guessing the slippery sleeping bag helped his escape.  He seemed fine, but he could have seriously injured himself.  But don’t let that stop us from laugh historically.  We are still cracking up over that story!

We had a great weekend of fishing, sitting by the campfire, walking the dogs, bike riding and hiking through the woods.  On one of our adventures via bicycle, Kyle and I were riding through the camp site to get down to a dirt road we found the day prior.  Kyle rode up beside me and started singing Jingle Bells!  I actually almost ran my bike off the side of the road from both, laughter and from shock at his choice in music.  Actually from any choice in music, since he doesn’t like exercise.  He was really enjoying himself!  That kid cracks me up!  One minute he’s showing his independence and the next he is still the small little man sitting in the backseat of my car, in his car seat singing Jingle Bells.  He never ceases to amaze me.

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Mom & dad hanging by the fire playing with the boys. Seven (black Lab) & Scooby (Blond Lab) Parker’s Dam 5/18/13

Then, he turns around and completely surprises me again!  Saturday night, we took turns watching the dogs and walking down to the showers.  Roughing it I know!  But when there’s a shower available, we’re all about it, especially after baiting hooks with maggots, wax worms, fish eggs and such.  As I staying at the campsite with the Seven, Scooby and Storm, through the black of the late evening, Kyle walked back.  Alone?  Solo?  Without fear?  Being in a little bit of shock, I said, “Kyle?”  just to confirm that it was indeed Kyle I was looking at.  He confirmed my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and then my next question, “What’s wrong?  Where’s Gigi and Pappy?”  He said they were still at the showers and he wanted to head back.  What?  Kyle walk in the dark by himself?  Granted it wasn’t that far away, maybe 200 feet if that.  Again, that kid never ceases to surprise me!

Then to make me question if this was indeed my nephew and not an alien taking over his body, Kyle said, “Go ahead Aunt Heather, go shower, I’ll watch the dogs.”  What?  Is this Kyle?  Kyle Piper?  He was volunteering to sit in the dark, by himself (with the dogs and cat), with spotty cell phone service and wait for us to return?  Where did my little man go?

A little confused I made sure he was alright with the scenario and I headed to the showers, where I ran into mom.  A little confused, as was I a few minutes earlier, she asked me where Kyle was, and who was watching the dogs?  I explained the story.  Mom basically just said, “Ok?”  She hurried herself along with dad, as to not leave him alone for too long.  Of course, if anyone would mess with Kyle, Scooby would probably tear the perpetrators face off, but no need to take unnecessary chances.

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My cousin Heather cutting Kyle’s hair for the first time, while I hold him. He was afraid of haircuts for a long time! 2002

The next morning we got a little late start leaving around 5:30 am.  We are such slackers! (sarcasm)  We fished a little again in the perfect morning peace that we experienced the day before.  Not staying too long, since the fish really weren’t biting, we started to head back to camp.  Dad did stop along the creek to try his hand at the water hole just below us off of the bridge.  Once dad almost snagged himself another fish, Kyle was all about getting out his pole again.  Please keep in mind all I caught the entire weekend were a few, two and three inch blue gills.  The four inch sunfish was my prize. (sarcasm)   Kyle did manage to feed us a few trout along with dad’s catch for dinner on Saturday night.  Also no contribution from me, which humored Kyle to no end.

After casting our lines a few unsuccessful times, we headed back for breakfast.  Dad had some pretzels in the truck, which we were both nibbling on like starving fish ready to be snagged by a hook.  Just then Kyle turned to dad and said, “Your eating after you baited your hook?  That’s disgusting!”  I died!  That was such a sincere statement and too funny!  Dad just looked down at his fingers, then licked them and put his had back in the bag for more.  Yep, typical dad.  He is a true woodsman, never getting grossed out by anything and never getting sick by such acts.  Of course I was doing the same thing, and it didn’t bother me either.

Kyle is growing up before our eyes.  It’s always been happening, but sometimes there are moments that really stand out.  That weekend had many of them.  I wish my sister was there, even though she always is, even through spotty cell coverage and through stories and pictures and videos.

Apparently we are going back again, this time with the entire family.  I sincerely can’t wait!  Maybe I’ll catch a fish worthy of eating.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?

Only an aunt can give hugs like a mother, can keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend.  ~Unknown

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Kyle & his Aunt Nikki at Kyle’s First Holy Communion 3/2009

There are so many other instances in which Ryan was channeled through Kyle, but there are more noticeable ones between Aunt Nikki and Kyle.  The resemblance is borderline scary.

Kyle, mirroring his Aunt Nikki is not a new concept.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  We’ve been observing this behavior since Kyle was able to walk.  Even at a very young age he began to show his personality and specific traits.  These unique traits really stood out and continue to do so, giving us glimpses of who Kyle is going to be as time passes.  Unaware and unintentionally, Kyle has personified my sister, proven true time and time again.  Before I get into details, I do want to make note that Kyle is certainly his dad but really shares a resemblance to his Aunt Nikki, behaviorally and physically.

Let’s start at the beginning, puzzles.  Yes, those pieces of curvy cut cardboard containing sections of an image, to be put together by a patient soul, resulting in a complete picture.  Kyle has always loved puzzles!  From the time mom gave him his first small puzzle, he seemed to graduate to thousand piece sets by the age of three.  Kyle would sit there and put them together for hours until completion.  For the record, I want to say I hate puzzles, definitely not my bag but my sister has the patience for such entertainment.  At one point, Kyle referred to himself as “Puzzle Boy”.  While putting a puzzle together, as we all watched him because he expected us to, Kyle turned to my dad and said, “Look pap pap I’m puzzle boy!”  Way to cute! Later on, unbeknownst to us at the time, this behavior would escalate to Lego’s.

Nicole was not much of a builder like Kyle or Ryan, but just like puzzles she can figure out the pattern to put it back together.  She has the even temper to sit and sort out all the pieces and group them together for Kyle, acting as his assistant.  That’s one of the ways they enjoy spending time together.  Me?  Heck no!  I’ve tried to sit with Kyle and sort puzzle pieces and Legos and I’ve found out that I have no patience and no desire.  I enjoy watching Kyle’s progress and seeing his satisfaction of another job well done, as we all do, but to actually get into the thick of it, nope!  Nicole, Ryan and Kyle all have that engineering gene, which seems to run in mom’s side of the family.

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Kyle loves his puzzles & Aunt Nikki is there to assist

Much like my sister, Kyle always did have an engineering mind.  He thinks things through and always tries to come up with a better solution to a product design.  Seriously?  Yes!  He tends to examine objects as if dissecting them to see how they work and how they would be better if designed differently.   I’ve heard Kyle countless times say, ‘It would be better if they just did it this way or do it that way’.  I wish I could remember an instance, but they are escaping me at the moment.

Going hand-in-hand with engineering is math.  Let’s just discuss Kyle’s love of math.  It’s always been his subject of choice and much like Nicole, they both love the structure of numbers.  As of now, Kyle has made known his talent for math and is proud of this skill.  They both appreciate art, but that’s clearly not their bag.  I tried for years and years to get Kyle into drawing and painting, nope.  It wasn’t who he was suppose to be, and I accept that.  He loves math!

Kyle and Nicole are both ‘play it by the rules’, ‘play it safe’ type of individuals.  Neither one physically can’t break the rules, literally, without being sick about it.  Once when Kyle and I were hiking up through the woods, we came across a No Trespassing sign.  He was probably four or so.  I knew the marker was placed there by my neighbors.  I also knew I was allowed on their property.  Kyle stood there, right below the sign and would not continue on our course of action.  In fact, Kyle usually never leaves my side, but this time he would not follow my lead.  It became a stand off, he wouldn’t cross the invisible line, made by the No Trespassing sign.  He just pointed to the instructions outlined on the white paper in bold black letters.  I laughed and challenged him.  On this particular walk, we brought our quads and parked them off the path before deciding to explore on foot.  As I disappeared into the thicket to try and pressure Kyle to follow, he turned around and headed back to his quad to wait for me.  He upheld the rules, no matter what!  What really cracks me up, is he wouldn’t stand there waiting for me, he wanted to sit down and wait.  Very Nicole!

Now don’t get me wrong, Ryan and I never completely disregard rules, but we didn’t hold them to our heart either.  Some rules are to protect us and our neighbors, and some rules have a little bit of wiggle room.  At least that’s how I view them.  I’ve always taught Kyle, if you choose to break the rules (ya right) know the rules and know the consequences to your actions.  If you get busted doing wrong, then you have to accept the punishment, no question.  That might not be a good thing to teach a child, but I also wanted Kyle to be able to think for himself and do what’s right, even if it is ultimately breaking rules.  Moral law is higher and more important than man made.

Neither one, Nicole or Kyle, are very adventurous.  Actually, I take that back, in recent times, Nicole has spread her wings and enjoys adventure.  Let’s not get silly, she is still a play-it-safe type of girl but she has enjoyed exploring new local fare, traveling and investing in new endeavors.  After all she is co-founder of The Piper Corporation, as well as SpyRing and Thrill of the Hunt.  A huge step for Nicole, heck a huge step for anyone, taking on entrepreneurship.  Kyle is part of the company too, after all he is our consultant.  However, at this point, he has the least to loose and participates the least.

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Aunt Nikki helping our little Kyle with his boots.. his big toe was probably sticking up…

Making a decision doesn’t always come easy to Nicole or Kyle.  Sometimes it takes Nicole six years before she can make a decision and stick to it.  Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but I’m not that far off the mark.  Example.  A little while after Nicole purchased her house, she wanted to change the colors of the walls.  Great!  I offered to help her pick out the paint and add the colors to the walls.  Sincerely, my plan was to wrap it up in a weekend, maybe come back the following weekend to touch up.  Friday night Nicole and I hit the paint store to pick out colors.  Rambling off what I think she should use for the trim, walls, and accent walls, I could tell Nicole was struggling with seeing my vision.  Instantly, Nicole became stressed and wouldn’t commit to anything.  Her solution?  She decided to purchase small samples of the colors as well as similar shades to see which one she liked the best.  Ok, I can live with that.  Once we got back to her place, Nicole had me paint large squares of colors on her one wall in the living-room.  Looked like a quasi Mondrian.  We both stepped back to examine our choices, and instantly I knew what colors would look great.  I was ready to go back to the store, get the supplies and begin work.  Nope, not Nicole.  She said, “Well, I don’t know.  Just wait, let me think about this!”  Stating a fact, I said, “Nicole I would rather get started on it tonight so we wrap this up by Sunday.”  She didn’t care.  Making a hard and fast decision was not going to happen.  I even tried to help her out by saying, “If you don’t like it, I will repaint it for you.”  Nope.  Still not budging.  Just like Kyle, holding strong to a decision until it has been thought through and through.  Do you know, it took her one full year to pick the colors for her living-room, dining-room and foyer?  It became a big joke.  Every time I would go and visit her, I would examine the large squares painted hap-hazardously on the wall and ask, “Nice artwork you got”.  That was usually replied with a grunt and a “Shut up!”.

Yes my sister is not the only one who sometimes has difficulty with making a decision.  It’s true, Kyle could care less about wall color, but ask him to pick one Lego off the shelf, forget it!  He will debate back and forth and even plan out the battles in his head, how he wants to play if choosing certain Lego sets.  Unbelievable!  The only reason he’s ever picked out a Lego set with me and fairly quickly might I add, because I have no patience for his deliberation and I force him to make a selection or we leave without a Lego.  That does it every time.

Enough with Kyle’s personality and intellectual DNA, let’s discuss physical traits.  Kyle and Nicole do resemble each other very much.  Again it helps with the blond hair and blue eyes, but they have the same body type, not even close to Ryan’s.  Nicole has never been much of an athlete.  In fact, I believe that was Nicole’s only subject in high school, which she did not excel.  Kyle, completely the same!  They even walk the same and move very slowly. Exactly the same way!

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Aunt Nikki hanging with our little man at Chad’s Wedding

Once when Kyle and I were at the playground, mom commented to my dad, “Look Ron, here comes Heather and Nikki.”  referring to Kyle.  Just like my sister he walks a good ten paces behind me, so I have to crane my neck to have a conversation with either of them while on the go.  Let’s discuss when I slow down allowing each individual to catch up, they begin to slow down their pace.  Frustrating! But exactly the same!

Usually when I describe Kyle, I must say the words clunky, clumsy, and stiff roll from my lips.  He is not flexible at all.  At all!  Can you guess who else I might compare him to?  Yes, the one and only Aunt Nikki!  Again, neither are athletes by no means.  Both would be happy just sitting there either playing video games, reading (nothing wrong with that) or watching TV.  However, I will call out, again in recent years, my sister has explored her athletic abilities with hikes and such.  So I guess there is hope for Kyle.

Lastly, let’s discuss attire.  Presently this is not the case, but when Nicole was younger she always dressed sloppy, constantly walking around with stains on her shirt.  It took Nicole years before fashion sense was adopted into her daily life.  Again maybe there is hope for Kyle, because presently his outfits look like something picked as an after thought.  I’m not even talking about formal wear, even if his casual outfits were worn stylish I could certainly  live with that.   Of course, I guess I’m not necessarily talking about the actual clothing but the way it’s worn too.

Sometimes I may pick on Kyle but he is truly loved by all of us.  As I’ve told Kyle time and time again, “If you turn out to be half the person your Aunt Nikki is, your doing alright.”

Read more comparisons

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?

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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.   ~Author Unknown

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Ryan’s birthday party.  Yes Ryan’s wearing Mork & Mindy suspenders & yes that’s the back of my head & our cousin Tim, inspecting Ryan’s gifts. 1979

Sometimes we sit back and wonder, ‘Who does Kyle favor more?’.  It has been the topic of many conversations over the years.  Not because it really truly matters, but out of sheer curiosity.  At times, Kyle is like a mirror image of one of us and other times we see blended traits.  I guess there are two sides to the coin when making a comparison, the physical and the behavioral characteristics.

Let me start with Kyle’s dad, Ryan, my brother.  Seems like the best place to start, especially since Ryan’s half the reason Kyle exists in the first place.  When Kyle was first born and when he aged into a really little tyke, he looked like a spitting image of Ryan as a child!  Comparing images of the two, they were certainly similar, almost twins.  Naturally the resemblance helps with the blond hair and blue eyes, but the shape of his face and his smile were all his dad’s, even down to his teeth.  As for the rest of him, he was a mix between my dad and my sister.  Kyle always had a thick neck and legs and a stocky frame, unlike Ryan, who always had long skinny legs and a frame to match.

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Ryan waiting for Kyle to arrive at Latrobe Hospital. Ryan & Kyle both LOVE donuts 7/30/01

Kyle not only shows some of Ryan’s physical characteristics, but Ryan’s behavioral demeanor really seeps out of Kyle’s pores.  I guess I’m talking about sugar!  Yes Ryan loved sugar!  He would put so much on his cereal it basically was a paste of sugar milk.  Gross!  Every time I watch Men In Black and the “Edger” alien asks for sugar water, I totally think of Ryan.  Ryan could have hung out with the alien and Kyle could have easily joined that group.  Both, Kyle and his dad alike, have been caught dipping their fingers in the raw sugar to sample.  Like they forgot what it tasted like!  And let’s not forget the container of chocolate milk mix.  Both boys had a sampling of that contents a time or two.  Ironically, each one having a sweet tooth did draw them into candy.  Neither one really ate much candy, but the pair had an affinity for pastries, cakes and treats.  The only difference is Ryan could eat.  I mean put away food like he never ate before.

Once when Ryan and I were in high school, we came home and started watching TV.  Naturally, after a long day of draining the brain, we were both starving.  Now I will admit, I used to have a huge appetite, being able to consume large amounts of food and out eat everyone I knew, except Ryan.  Ryan went to the kitchen to grab a bunch of bananas.  Not two or three in this bunch, there was at least eight or nine bananas there.  Without blinking an eye, he sat and peeled one banana and ingested it in three or four bites, then proceeded to the next.  Once he got through four bananas, I couldn’t help but stare in amazement.  Ryan looked at me and sincerely asked, “What?”  In complete disbelief over this consumption of food, I said, “I really want a banana but I’m afraid to grab for one, for fear of loosing my hand.”  He laughed and simply said, “I’m hungry!”  Obviously!  He continued on a steady ingestion course until he polished off about six bananas before slowing down.  Amazing!  And his waistline never went above 29 inches, until he hit his twenties then it went to 30 inches.

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Ryan in his pj’s c. 1981

Ryan didn’t eat horribly, but he was never concerned with healthy choices.  When he would stop at McDonald’s, he would not only pick up one double Big Mac, but he would eat two or three!  Kyle doesn’t have an appetite like that, the food similarities end with the sugar and the love of fruit and meat.  But Ryan was never a picky eater.  I can’t really say the same for Kyle, even though he does pretty good about giving different food choices a try.

Kyle has always had an infatuation with wheels, cars, the sounds of an engine and big equipment.  Always!  There are a few simple stories I’d like to share to truly put this into perspective.  First, I’d like to point out that some traits are taught and some are environmental.  Ryan passed away when Kyle was three months old, therefore, I can only believe that there is a gene somewhere inside Kyle supplied directly from Ryan, or Ryan is in heaven encouraging and guiding the young man.  Either way, it’s pretty funny.

While attending Seton Hill University for my second degree, I had to babysit Kyle.  This was not a new concept, if the family was working and I had to watch my beloved little man, I would take him to school with me.  Getting pretty creative when attending classes, I would pass Kyle along to my friends who had free time, until I was able to pick up my responsibility.  Being the only one to stand to loose if I missed a class, I never did, not to mention I was paying for my own education.  It worked out brilliantly!  In fact, one spring semester during finals week, I happened to be toting around my favorite little man.  My friend Sarah was kind enough to watch him on campus while I fulfilled my final exam requirements.  At the time, Seton Hill was building the Athletic Center so there were plenty of big trucks moving dirt and material.  Sarah walked him around the campus and stopped to let him watch the construction sight.  She said he loved it!  Unbeknownst to her, we already knew that Kyle loved trucks and equipment, but it was still cute and amazing at the same time.  His infatuation with the large equipment and the noises put a smile on Sarah’s face, as well as mine.

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Ryan holding his newborn baby son -Kyle 7/30/01

On a side note, for all those who say they can’t tend to a child while attending school and having other responsibilities hasn’t really tried.  I am not the only one who has made this happen.  With the grace of God and support of family and friends, anything is possible if wanted enough.  To this day I still appreciate the efforts of my friends and professors!

Sometimes when Kyle and I would drive past a construction sight, he would intently stare in amazement at the life size Tonka trucks.  Then, without missing a beat he would begin to make engine noises, revving and shifting.  He almost looked like he was imagining himself in the vehicle moving the earth.  In fact, he continues to do that to this day!

Once when mom and I were at a funeral and there was an elderly person sitting in a wheelchair minding their own business.  Kyle, being two or three years old, walked over to the wheelchair, sat down, and started to move the wheels.  It looked like Kyle was going to shoot the person into the casket!  The poor victim of a push and run, had no idea what was going on because Kyle was obstructed by the back of the wheelchair due to his lack of vertical length.  Who would think they needed to be protected at a funeral while hanging out in a wheelchair?  Apparently, Kyle should have come with a warning.  As soon as it happened, I whisked up the perpetrator and saved us all from a potential embarrassing situation that would have surely won America’s Funniest Videos.

Ryan-with-his-pap-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan hanging with his pap on his birthday wearing his Mork & Mindy suspenders 1979

The comparisons don’t stop there.  Even though Kyle is now eleven, we’ve had years to see the similarities.  Believe it or not, Kyle loved to help out with house chores and work.  He was a hard worker and enjoyed it, well that is until a few years ago when he was influenced differently.  That was also the about the same time he discovered video games and found laziness.  Kyle loved to vacuum, dust, help with the dishes and stack firewood.  I mean it!  He would cry if he couldn’t help anyone who was doing chores.  We would put him to work, which not only helped him physically but helped to build his character and work ethic.  Plus Kyle is part of the family and everyone pitches in around the house.  We always have, and continue to do so.

My brother was such a hard worker.  When he was nine he started working in my parents sawmill during the summers.  Yes, nine-years-old and he worked!  Throughout his short life, he worked and worked hard, never complaining and never missing a beat.  Eventually, when he became a machinist he would function as a part-time mechanic on the weekend for extra cash.  Not because he was greedy, he was the farthest thing, but because he needed the moola.  I completely respect that!  No one paved his way and he never took the easy road.

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Kyle hanging with is pap 11/18/03

Granted Kyle’s work ethic and motivation are not quite comparable now-a-days, but we still continue to push him along, for his own sake.  He is eleven and knows how to do laundry, cook, clean, grocery shop and yard work.  I believe that’s a good starting point and a great foundation.

While I’m on the topic of good character, Ryan was a kind and honest person.  He was sincere and not malicious in any way.  Proudly, these are characteristics I have seen from Kyle and they were certainly passed down from father to son.  Ryan would help anyone out, whether it was for a specific skill needed that Ryan possessed, or it was just the assistance of his brawn.  If someone needed help moving or work done on their car, Ryan was always the first in line to lend a helping hand.  He certainly took care of my car for years, changing the oil, replacing my breaks, cutting my drums and rotors and the list goes on and on.  He would never take a penny from me.  He just wanted to help.

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Paula & Kyle 2001

On another side note, Ryan was a bean pole yet he was a very strong lanky guy.  One would have never have guessed he was as strong as he was, but I can personally verify it!

Even through Kyle always has a determination to get out of doing work, he is a good hearted individual.  He never wants to see anyone upset or in pain.  His heart bleeds for those around him, especially the ones he loves.  Just to redeem Kyle a bit, when help is truly needed, Kyle is there to assist, well maybe to bark orders, but I guess that’s his way.

It wouldn’t be a true comparison if Lego’s weren’t addressed!  Nothing captures Kyle’s attention more, than the mention of that word.  LEGO’s!  Even to this day he is still obsessed. (Lego Obsessive or Driven, Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Are Professions Born or Taught Part 3, Seattle – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 4 and the list goes on)  Ryan had Lego’s but didn’t really take such a liking to them as Kyle.  Although Ryan liked to work with his hands.  He would build in other ways and tear apart to investigate the inner workings of objects, much like Kyle’s curiosity.

Sometime in elementary school, Ryan decided to take apart a little black and white TV we had.  He was curious to see how it worked and how the innards were put together.  Did you know, you should unplug electronics before dissecting them?  Lesson learned on Ryan’s part.  We knew Ryan was up to no good because all of a sudden the breaker switched over and killed the juice to part of the house.  The part that included Ryan’s bedroom, Kyle’s current bedroom.  Just like Kyle, always curious to see the guts, the inner workings of objects and devices.  Although I’ll give Kyle credit, he would never have made such an error.  Kyle would have thought the process through before attacking it and simply unplugged the television set to be safe.

Ryan-with-his-godparents-Paula-&-Joe-1977 Aunt Heather Piper

Ryan with his godparents Paula & Joe 1977

Then, let’s not forget about Ryan’s first truck.  It could have been called a piece of art or just plain junk.  First of all it was a beater, that goes without saying, but he customized it.  I’m not talking about putting it up on blocks or adding a spoiler.  Nope!  Ryan decided he wanted to modify it so no one could really drive it.  He reworked the wiring so the horn was not a horn but controlled something else, same goes for the windshield wipers etc.  In addition to the internal parts being modified, he did manage to custom create his own exhaust pipe.  He welded it to snake up past the door and remain vertical with a flap on top.  Yes it looked like a big truck’s exhaust!  He thought that was funny and creative.  You know what? I’ll give him that!

Kyle loves to build.  More-than-not he likes structure and everything the way they its suppose to be, not a lot of free interpretation.  Ryan and Kyle similar in the arena of talented mechanical building, yet Kyle is more structured like my sister, which I’ll get to that comparison next.  Kyle is a building machine and structural visionary, like Ryan, just in a different way.

Kyle’s still growing so only time will tell if Ryan’s genes will ultimately take over, physically and characteristically.  He is certainly a part of his dad, no question.  There are so many other characteristics and stories to call out, maybe another blog post!  Next up, Nicole!  To be continued…

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Music For the Eyes & Ears

Music is a moral law.  It gives soul t the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.  ~Plato

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Kyle hanging out on the Big Piano FAO Schwarz. ‘Aunt Nikki & Kyle’s week of Fun’ in New York City, NY 2011

Yesterday was Kyle’s sixth grade music recital.  Yes, it was his last music assembly of elementary school.  He sang and played the trumpet along with the rest of the sixth grade class.  He’s grown up so much in many ways, and yet he is still truly just a kid.

Mom and I were in the second row enjoying the musical theme, From the Inside Out.  Dad and Nicole were both working, so I did my best to video tape some of the assembly, giving them a glimpse of what was presented.

As Kyle mounted the stage, I caught his eye.  He gave me one of his trying-not-to-smile smiles.  Naturally, I had to give him a wave to confirm my presence, and to instigate a bit.  I was sincerely excited to see him sing and play!

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Kyle with his friends at his 6th Grade Music Recital 2/21/13

As he was clapping and singing and stomping and playing his trumpet, all the memories of Kyle’s love of music floated in my head like a painting.  Kandinsky’s theory came to mind.  Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) said he could see sound as color and visa verse.  The music I heard came across my mind as images of Kyle over the years, like I was seeing a symphony of pictures tied to their memories.

Always having an adoration for music, even as a tiny five month old baby that could barely hold himself up, Kyle would keep the beat and sway to music, or at least try.  Either for Kyle’s first or second Christmas, my grandma got him this stuffed musical penguin that played Jingle Bells.  On a side note, maybe that’s why Kyle has such a bond with that song.  When we played the penguin, Kyle’s eyes would light up, he would smile and his body would go into motion.  The best part, the penguin moved from side-to-side and Kyle would try and mimic the motion.  It was too funny!  I have no idea what ever happened to that beloved piece of entertainment, but Kyle’s love of music prevails.  I’m not talking about just music on the radio or pumping from my iTunes.  Any music or rhythms coming from anywhere and everywhere picked up by his ears.

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Kyle’s 6th Grade Class. “From the Inside Out” 2/21/13

Watching Kyle view a movie is hilarious.  The best part is usually the end while the credits are rolling and the theme song is playing.  Without knowing he’s being watched or without a care, Kyle inadvertently busts a move to the tunes.  Actually, that goes for any show or commercial.  While sitting on the living-room floor either assembling or playing with his Legos, sometimes certain tunes will project from the TV.  Kyle’s body is automatically swaying to the music as if he’s a puppet on strings.  He loves music!

At the very beginning of last semester’s piano lessons, the instructor asked Kyle to bring in his old practice books so he could review and brush up on the basics.  During the lull in time while Kyle didn’t have piano lessons he got rusty, like anyone would.  So to ensure Kyle was learning properly and advancing, David his piano instructor, reinforced his foundation.  Great idea!

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Kyle bust’n a move on the dance floor 2003.  Proof I did get him in a shirt & tie!

I remember that first lesson so well.  As we sat in the Seton Hill common room waiting for Kyle’s turn, he started to read through the piano book, a piece he hasn’t looked at for literally years.  Of course what’s old is new again, and Kyle being such an astute student, started looking thr0ugh his music books recapturing knowledge from the first songs that started out his piano training.  Always coming prepared with a book to read, I couldn’t focus on the words on the page for the distraction in front of me.  Kyle was flipping through the pages and humming the songs to reacquired himself with his old friends, the music.  Yes, he was actually humming to himself turning the pages rapidly as if cramming for a test.  His actions were not intended to bring attention to himself, but to prepare for his piano lesson.  He was so engrossed in his own thoughts, he really didn’t notice everyone in the room smiling in his direction.  As I sat there and stared at him, thinking he would notice me, he continued with his train of thought and didn’t break concentration.  I was ready to bust a gut and laugh out loud, that is until he was saved by his piano teacher.  David’s appearance interrupted Kyle’s focus and brought him back to reality.

We used to laugh and say music would sooth the savage beast, referring to Kyle.  It did!

I love seeing the joy and inspiration that music brings to Kyle.  For the sixth grade field trip this year, the students went to Heinz Hall and listened to the symphony.  He came home and told us all about it with sheer excitement.  In fact, while we were driving, Kyle remembered his trip to Pittsburgh because he started searching the radio for a specific channel.  He was trying to find the classical music station on the radio.  He said, “Aunt Heather, they told us we could listen to the music on the radio.”  Once he found it, he beamed with delight!  Since then, Kyle has been listening to the classical music station when we are on the move.  Nice change of pace!  Good thinking Kyle!

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

Aunt Nikki Takes A Plane to Work

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.  ~Aldous Huxley

Kyle Piper and Nicole Piper at Air and Space Museum

Kyle with his Aunt Nikki at the Air & Space Museum, Washington D.C.  6/27/09

Over Christmas, Nicole wanted to help Kyle get his bedroom organized and ready for his new Legos, New Year cleaning!  Sounds like an easy task, but it turned out to consume a couple of days of packing up old toys and trying to create some sort of organization with his beloved stuff.  While I was rubbernecking the progress, I noticed some of Kyle’s puzzles packed away.  He not only had the typical picture printed on cut cardboard type of puzzles, but he also had these nice wooden puzzles of the United States and ones with different shapes, allowing a child to remove them from their spot on the board and add back.  The kind that teaches kids about hand eye coordination, shapes, colors and naming objects.

Among the puzzles and child games was a board of transportation with wooden pieces that outlined a bus, train, plane and a car.  Wow did memories come rushing back to me!  Kyle and I spent hours naming those pieces and taking them out of their rightful home, to just add them back and repeat.  Kyle was anywhere from a year old to three or four.  Such a bright kid!

On one such occasion, I distinctly remember Kyle saying to no one in particular, “Aunt Nitti takes a plane to work.”  What?  He couldn’t have been older than two or so.  Out of sheer curiosity, knowing better, I asked, “Well buddy, what do I take to work?”  Waiting for the response of ‘car’ or ‘race car’ since that’s what he would tell everyone that’s how I drove, ‘like it was a race car’.  Nope!  With complete seriousness he turned to me and said, “Aiya, you take a bus.”  What?  Are you kidding me?  Nicole gets to take a plane to work in his mind, but I take a bus?

When Kyle was born, my sister was working in Tucson, Arizona.  While she lived there, she would fly back home quite often, to visit with our little man and to see the family.  This was right after we lost Kyle’s dad, Ryan.  So for the first few years of Kyle’s existence, all he associated his ‘Aunt Nitti’s’ arrival home and departure was with the phrases,  ‘she on her plane’ or ‘her flight landed’ and such.  Apparently, he perception of Nicole traveling anywhere was by plane.  Naturally, I guess that included work.  Wow, lucky her.

Me on the other hand, I’ve always worked and lived locally, so no plane involvement unless I was traveling for entertainment, I guess that didn’t count.  I know Kyle never remembered me traveling to South Korea, he just turned a year old when I arrived back in the states after a two week hiatus.  But I did travel throughout northern Europe for a month in 2005, when he was four.  I was gone an entire month and I talked to him when I could throughout my travels.  So do I get to take a plane to work?  Nope.  Kyle’s normal activity for a few years, usually involved me picking him up at daycare and driving him to and fro.  Really, a ‘car’ didn’t enter his mind, but a ‘bus’ did?

Maybe in Kyle’s mind buses are part of a daily routine, especially when I pick him up and drop him off.  That’s what he associated me with, or maybe not.  I must admit taking a plane to work seems pretty extravagant and adventurous, is that how he saw my sister?  I guess we’ll never know.  I’m just happy I’ve always been an integral part of Kyle’s life and continue to do so.

Needless to say, Aunt Nikki taking a plane to work, became a big joke in the household, “Aunt Nikki takes a plane to work” and “Aunt Heather takes a bus”.  Kyle is in on the joke, since he started it, but I he doesn’t remember when it originated.   Although during that time, he certainly knew it was a thorn in my side and he would instigate me about it.  I guess he really is related to me!

Honestly, I love hearing kids perception on the simplest things, such as the transportation used.  Quite entertaining!  Our little man, has always has been too cool.  He has always amazed me with this perception and thought process and continues to do so.

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