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

Planting the Trees of Memories

Aragorn: Gimli, lower your axe.
Legolas: They have feelings, my friend. The elves began it, waking up the trees, teaching them to speak.
Gimli: Talking trees. What do trees have to talk about, hmm… except the consistency of squirrel droppings?  ~Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

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Kyle going through is basket, Easter morning…. Scooby helping. Keeping tradition with the books & kite! 4/20/14

Being sick now for weeks, I am finally on the road to recovery, even though these rainy windy days like today, make it hard to get out of bed, sick or not.  Recently, I was thinking back to what had happened over the last several weeks, while I was under the weather.  Actually, a lot went on.  Over the next few days, I will start to document the stories.

Sunday, April 20th was Easter!  A day I slept most of the daylight hours.  I did get to play Kyle at Quarto, a strategy game I purchased for him for Easter from a store in the Mall of America in Minnesota.  Naturally, Kyle won the first game.  I truly thought I had this game in the bag, but alas I was proven wrong again by a twelve year old.

On Saturday, however, it was a beautiful sunny day and I was feeling well enough to help dad in the yard.

The event of planting trees actually started way back in December over Christmas.  We purchased Chestnut trees for dad and had them mailed this spring.  Perfect Gift –  Chestnut Trees  Guess what?  They came in!  Boy was dad elated! He was looking forward to this day since he heard about his perfect gift.

What really makes these trees significant to plant around Easter, is that the orchard was always a big part of our Easter celebration.  Every year since Kyle was a wee one, we would fill multi-colored plastic eggs with money and candy and hide them around the orchard.  Yes mom and I would go out in the middle of the night after Kyle went to bed, usually late, and hide the eggs with the help of flashlights.  Then, it never failed, Kyle would wake up at 3:00 am, sometimes 4:00 am and want to go out and hunt Easter eggs left by the Easter bunny.  Even though the rest of the family remained in bed, I always got up with him, wrapped a blanket around me, slipped on my rubber boots, grabbed the flashlight and trotted out to the backyard.

Kyle always had a blast!  It was nice seeing the kid so excited in the morning, even though it was usually so dark it was hard to see him at all.  My job, was to count the findings to make sure no egg was left behind.  Although, it never failed, while mowing in the spring we would always find an egg or two.  I guess I didn’t do such a great job at counting.

This year that tradition didn’t take place, since Kyle is nearly thirteen, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t go outside and sit among our trees and freshly planted crops.

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Seven in front, Scooby behind him, Avery to the right, Gigi, & Aunt Nikki enjoying the shade while planting fruit trees. 4/19/14

That orchard holds a lot of memories, memories when Ryan was still with us.  Ryan helped to plant some of the original trees and he always mowed and weeded the area.  It was nice to have Kyle a part of that tradition and have his roots grow among the memories and stories of dad’s orchard.

When I say the family participated, I mean the entire family.  Nicole and Avery were home; the boys, Seven and Scooby; Storm and naturally the rest of us.  We all joined forces to plant the trees.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a pretty day, especially before Easter.

We dug up a couple of trees that had died over the years.  Dad was hoping each year would bring renewed life back into the brittle dead branches, but no such luck.  We pulled those out, believe it or not with the help of the pick-up truck.  Digging up the dirt around the roots to loosen the deceased cherry tree, dad wrapped a chain around the trunk and attached it to the truck, then gave it the gas.  With the help of Kyle and me loosening the dirt and pushing on the tree, the roots surfaced and we drug it to the burn pile, leaving a new hole for another life to flourish.

The day consisted of planting new trees, including finding a home for dad’s elephant ear tree and another chestnut tree.  There are about twenty fruit trees in dad’s orchard, ranging from paw paw to plum and peach and naturally apple.  He’s very proud of those trees and his blueberry bushes.

The weekend before Easter, I was in Minnesota for my good friend Davey’s wedding.  Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Seminary  That’s when Kyle helped dad plant the original two Chestnut trees purchased over Christmas.  They also planted a couple of mulberry bushes and a mystery tree that lost its tag.

During the day of playing in the dirt and hauling saplings back and forth, Dad kept saying to Kyle and the inadvertently the rest of us, “When I kick off, now you can go out and have a piece of fruit and think of me.  You’ll always have food with these trees.”

He’s right, it is nice having fruit trees in the back yard.  I enjoy them too, not only for the fruit but also for shade and the beauty of the trees, but more importantly for the memories of planting the trees with the family and watching them grow.  Perhaps that is the most valuable part of dad’s orchard.

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Kyle using the digging iron to open the hole where we pulled a dead fruit tree, to only replace it with another. Dad was supervising. 4/19/14

On a side note, during the day the neighbor boy Philip was out walking his dog Thor.  They stopped over to say hi and visit.  Avery was excited to see another dog, as was Seven.  Scooby on the other hand, had to be placed in dad’s truck for the duration of the visit, he’s not very nice.  We call him the enforcer or the grumpy old man.  While in the front seat of the truck, which he usually rides shotgun, no one would have thought Scooby, would do what he did.  He jumped out the window!  Yes!  He pulled an underdog and flew out the open window and charged Thor.  Dad broke up the little altercation without incident.

Personally, I stood in shock.  Our nonathletic, clunky and slow moving dog jumped out of a truck window, down on the side of a hill and was able to speed past us like the breeze.  Truly amazing!  I guess he meant business when he barked, ‘No one on our property’.

It was a great Easter weekend.  I continued the tradition mom started when we were kids by giving Kyle books in his Easter basket.  This year it was the rest of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky.  Kyle started to read them and seemed to be enjoying the books, so I fueled his journey.  I love his love for reading!  Every chance I get, I reward him in books, and he’s excited about it!  Mom continued the tradition of receiving a kite, or two in Kyle’s case.

Can’t wait to enjoy the shade of our newly planted trees and pick the fruit they produce!  I was also told by Mr. Kyle that I would enjoy reading the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series and he wants me to read them too.  I guess I have a new series to start!

Happy Belated Easter!

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

Another Chapter to Face … Growing Up, Him Not Me!

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.  ~Molière

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Me & Kyle at Idlewild Park for the Gutchess Picnic.  He always loved horses! c. 2002

“You knew this day was coming.”  My mom gravely reminds me.  What day is that?  The day I am no longer the coolest person to hang out with, the day Kyle doesn’t really want to plan his activities with me, the day when I find myself replaced.  Yes that day has happened, at least it’s on the verge.  My own person Apocalypse.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, not in the slightest.  I’m more than thrilled Kyle has friends and he’s learned to build a relationship with someone other than me, his Gigi, pappy and Aunt Nikki.  Good sign Kyle is on his way to being a normal teenager.  We hope!

The issue doesn’t reside with Kyle but with me.  I personally need to adjust to this new standard and new way of being.  Kyle has always been by my side, for everything.  It’s pretty commonplace to find us together, no matter what we were doing, the movies, roller skating, snowboarding, cooking, grocery shopping, Christmas shopping…. you get the point.  Even going to picnics and parties at my friends’ houses, Kyle was always invited and he would tag along, mostly for the food or the idea of playing with other kids.

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Me & Kyle screwing around at bedtime, taking selfies & texting them to Aunt Nikki. c. 2009

Why this sudden reminiscing about the good old days?  Because they are slowly slipping away and becoming a thing of the past.  Kyle is not wanting to hang out with his Aunt Heather as much.  Who am I kidding, soon it will turn into, ‘Not At All!’

The other day I mentioned to Kyle, “Buddy we still need to hit the slopes, before winter is over.”  His response, “Umm we’ll see.”  What is he the adult regulating my activities?  I added, “Why don’t you see if Duncan skis or snowboards and I’ll take you both up to the slopes.”  His comment, “Ok!  I’ll ask him, that would be fun!”  Yep!  I thought that was going to be his response.

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Me & Kyle at the Planinsek’s Pavilion, playing on the swings. c. 2002

It wasn’t just the snowboarding, although that’s always been our thing together, but it was the movies too!  Same story, I’d ask him if he wanted to go to the movies and the same blasé response, until I mentioned he should ask his friend to go, then it turns into a big deal and it’s exciting.  Again, I will reiterate, I am ecstatic that Kyle has friends and he has fun with them, but come on, throw the aunt a bone.

I knew this was going to happen, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing.  I should have seen it from that single moment when I dropped Kyle off at school and he wouldn’t let me walk him to his classroom in first grade.  That was the beginning of the this uncontrollable, unpredictable avalanche.  Yep, even as recent as this past June in the sixth grade, not even a year ago, he wouldn’t dance with me for his Folk Festival at school.  Denied!  No Dance For You!

Yes, I remember it wasn’t that long ago when Kyle was at daycare, one of his favorite places to hang might I add, and even though he had friends, when I walked in the door he was excited to see me!  He would come home and tell me all about his friend Luke.  He would say, “Aiya, my sviend (friend) Lutty (Luke).”  I remember when he first started talking about his friend Luke.  It was Luke this and Luke that.  Ironically, I did get to meet Luke and his parents and get to know his mom over the years.  I still talk to Sue Lander, the mom on Facebook from time to time.

Unfortunately, Luke was a grade younger than Kyle, so I’m sure they see each other, but aren’t glued at the hip like they once were.  Plus Luke is a lot like his mom, into running, not Kyle’s cup of tea.  He prefers his video games.  Different interests build distances between old friendships, I guess it happens.

His newest gang?  That would be Mr. Duncan, Kyle’s Very Own Big Bang Theory.  I’m happy he has friends he enjoys, and Duncan seems to enjoy hanging out with Kyle.

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Kyle at the Latrobe Roller Rink, roller skating. Look how flushed he is, working hard, skating like his dad! c. 2009

Kyle and I still have our interests, reading books and discussing them, church, sled riding and cooking.  All good activities to do together.  My favorite is our exchange of books.  Yes we swop books that we read and enjoyed (age appropriate).  We discuss the characters and the storyline and we use these new worlds for our own person inside jokes and funnies.  Example, this past weekend, yesterday morning as a matter of fact, Kyle and I took the dogs for a hike up through the woods, not Kyle’s suggestion might I add.  When we were walking back, Kyle was trying to uproot smaller trees.   Why?  No clue, but who cares, he’s a boy and he was having fun.  I said, “You better watch it, you might upset Treebeard!”  We both laughed at that one, for only someone who read the Lord of the Rings books would understand, I’m not just talking about watching the movies.

Yep, me and Kyle are two of a kind.  I only hope and pray we will always remain this tight.  He is my little man and I am his Aiya.

Here are some old videos of Kyle roller skating, he really worked hard at it.  Enjoy!

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

The Hobbit: It’s Always an Adventure with Kyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Month Flew By – Time Does Fly

But meanwhile time flies; it flies never to be regained.  ~Virgil
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Kyle & Nicole exchanging gifts at Christmas 12/24/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fort Ligonier Days Parade – Marching Down Memory Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t wait for next year!

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

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

Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kyle’s music recital group. 5/17/09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Milestone – 7th Grade

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

Kyles-First-Birthday-Aunt-Heather-Piper-helping-2002

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

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

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

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

Kyle-at-Planinsek-Pavilion-1-2003-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duo-Pappy-Avery-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTE HERE!  Thrill of the Hunt

 

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

Follow the Hunt!

                   

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

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.

Captain-Jack-Sparrow-Captain-Morgan-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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
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