Playing As Kids – Building Forts & Making Gold

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.  ~Pope Paul VI


Our cousins, Casey holding Marla, Joel in the back, Michael & Elizabeth. Stacy has yet to come. c. 1986

Trying to teach Kyle that you don’t need money or the latest and greatest video games to have fun, is surprisingly a really hard lesson to teach.  At least with my little stubborn man.  I can’t say it enough, he is a good kid, a truly good hearted person, but he only sees playing and having fun as an activity that has been dictated by his generation of video games.  He is not accustomed to good old fashion playing outside, unless I demonstrate and participate of course.

This past weekend, Kyle wanted to play a game with me.  Great!  I suggested a game of chess.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Battle Ship.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Trouble (love that mindless game.  We used it to reach Kyle how to count when he was wee little.)  Denied!  He wanted to play a few games with me on the Wii.  Ok, I’ll give him that since we haven’t busted out the Wii for a while.  His compromise was to play the hunting games and the Wii Sports Resort (Swordplay, Fruit Ninja, Wakeboarding).  I wanted to dance to Micheal Jackson, denied!   I gave in and we played, having a pretty good time.  But after so long, I didn’t have the patience to sit in front of the television and play games anymore.  I would rather get up and move around.  Not Kyle, he wanted to continue for hours upon hours.  Denied!

I pretty much have to force Kyle to undertake any activity before he realizes he’s actually having fun or enjoying himself.  Time and time again this has happened.  Perfect example would include his perceived dreaded hikes with the dogs, which he does enjoy while on the hike.  Even after we come back from having a nice time, he still won’t admit to it.  I guess it’s not cool.

As kids we made up some pretty crazy games and undertook some unusual activities to keep ourselves entertained.  One of the stories I’ve shared with Kyle was the fort building.

Let me step back to state, I grew up with my brother and sister and my cousins around.  So there was never a shortage of kids to play with.  For Kyle, not so much.  I know that has a lot to do with the way he plays and his interests, but I do try as best I can.

Anyway, when we were kids, we used to chop down trees, yes with a hatchet, smaller trees, probably about six inches in diameter and stack them on top of each other to form a fort.  Yes, a real fort with four sides, nestled back in the woods.  We would play in and around this fort all day.

Near this location were these large vines that hung over a small creek.  We would take turns swinging back and forth on the natural ropes like Tarzan and Jane.  It was so much fun.  We did all this with our dog Jill hanging around, without parental supervision, while everyone was getting along and getting dirty and exercise.


Cousins playing at Twin Lakes for Lisa’s birthday. L to R Nicole, Tim, Lisa, Ryan, Casey, me, Elizabeth & Mikey behind trying to claim a spot on the swings. c. 1986

Let’s be realistic, I don’t really have a desire to build another fort anymore.  However, if Kyle really wanted to, I would, but since manual labor is not at the top of his list, we never relived those good old days.

Instead, dad decided he wants to raise chickens.  Apparently, I’m going to construct a chicken coop, correction, Kyle and me are going to build a chicken coop soon.  I guess that’s close enough to a fort.  At least he’s doing something productive, in real life.  I Need To Build My House – Video Games.

As far as the whole experience including the vine swinging goes, I’ve actually taken Kyle in the woods and we have done just that!  He even enjoyed himself!  Although for me it seemed more fun as a kid, but for Kyle, who is still a youngster, it was a new experience.  There is something about swinging past trees that is so relaxing and fun.

Now onto the gold.   Another quick story of how we used our imagination and every day items to create our own pastimes.

One day Ryan was tinkering around in the garage, yes I believe we were still in elementary school. He was always in that garage.  Anyway, he came running out yelling, “I’ve found gold!  I’ve found gold!” as he darted down the driveway toward my cousin Casey and Joel’s house.  What on earth?

Ryan found a can of gold spray paint and took some rocks and spray painted them.  They did look like nuggets of gold.  Yes we added that to the items we played with as kids, simple rocks.  We even fought over the rights to the “gold nuggets” and made up war games with the “gold” as the booty.

Really it shouldn’t take much to have an imagination and to be entertained.  At least not with us as kids.  We found fun in everyday life, with every day things, even rocks!

Read other related blogs

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling
Playing As Kids – Chasing Cars

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

Ringing in the New Year

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes…you’re Doing Something.  ~Neil Gaiman

Well here we are, 2014!  Happy New Year!


Me & Kyle celebrating New Years! Storm photo bombed us from her perch. 12/31/13

Kyle and I rang in the New Year like we always do.  We made our rice crispy treats, (actually I made them while Kyle watched Despicable Me 2).  Thanks to my friend Tree for helping to make that a New Year’s tradition!  We were making the delicious sticky treats when we were in high school and it stuck!  We ate our pork and sauerkraut and hot dogs, brats, and kielbasa.  Yep, the same sauerkraut we just made Family Traditions Through Sauerkraut in November.   Another tradition started by my mom when I was little, was the meat and cheese tray.  Usually, it’s complete with a variety of crackers, carrots and celery, olives and such, but this year we just nibbled on the meat and cheeses.

Keeping ourselves entertained, we played Trouble and a little Wii, even though I didn’t give Kyle hours on the game, we did play a few rounds of shooting and fishing and horse riding.  Since then, Kyle has a renewed interest in the video games.  Maybe this weekend we’ll bust out the Michael Jackson Experience and dance to a little MJ action.

We watched Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve as many do.  Mom and I were reminiscing days of New Year’s old.  One New Year’s, my sister went to New York and rang in the new year in Time Square.  That was fun having Kyle try and find his Aunt Nikki among the sea of celebratory people.  That is until he spotted the Lego store in the background.  Yes!  Only that kid would hone in on the Lego store among the crowds and crowds of people and on-air activity.  I remember he immediately called my sister and instructed her to go into the Lego store and take pictures and send them to him.  What a card!  He wanted the mission completed at that very moment, while my sister was corralled into limited space with millions of others.  Nicole was not able to tackle such fetes, but later that summer or the following one (I can’t remember) Nicole took Kyle to New York so he could experience the Lego store for himself on the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’.


Seven celebrates New Year’s in style… Happy 2014! 12/31/13

Around 11:30 pm or so, we really humored ourselves by making the dogs wear party hats.  Once midnight hit, we blew our party horns and blasted our party favors till we covered the living-room with streamers.  Naturally, we took pictures and sent them to Aunt Nikki, keeping her in touch with all things Kyle.  We had a really good time!

New Year’s day we took the .22 and the 20 gauge out squirrel hunting.  We didn’t see any signs of life, but maybe that’s because of our invited guests, Seven and Scooby.  They had a blast running through the snow in the woods and jumping around.  This was the first walk I took them on since this past fall, when Seven broke his leg.  Great way to ring in the New Year!

Yep, it was a pretty good 2013.  I mean, I was able quit my nine-to-five office job at the ad agency and start working on Thrill of the Hunt full-time.  Thrill of the Hunt is going into our seventh month of business, full-time.  Technically we started Thrill of the Hunt in September of 2012, but it was only a part-time gig.  Even though the company is not self-sustaining, it is picking up notoriety and popularity.  My goal for the New Year is to make the company profitable and organize our finances and database.  Sounds simple enough, yet I know the challenges and I am ready to take them on ten fold.


Scooby receiving his New Year’s attire… Happy 2014! 12/31/13

Kyle is now in the seventh grade, taking advanced science and math classes and doing pretty well.  Nicole and I discussed it, and this year we’ll start training Kyle to take over all finances including entering expenses, accepting checks and possibly creating invoices in Quickbooks for The Piper Corporation.  Yep!  You heard that right!  I trust Kyle explicitly, and finances and dealing with numbers is kind of his thing.  Plus, I feel it gives him great work experience and exposure to business and will build good work ethic and character.  Not to mention he will truly be a part of the company.  He is now, especially with all his help promoting scavenger hunts and working the events, but he will be an integral part of the company.  Did I mention, I will follow-up on the information entered?  You bet!  I can’t very well expect Kyle to not make mistakes or do things incorrectly, at least not until he really learns the program and gets into a routine.  My accountant will also be aware of our unofficial employee and keep an eye out to ensure all is entered correctly.  How else is he going to get this experience and learn?  He’s worth the extra time!


Me & Seven celebrating New Years! 2014! 12/31/13

Nicole and I discussed Kyle’s new role with him over Christmas and he was truly excited!  Excited to be learning something new, excited to be dealing with numbers, exciting to be helping us out and excited to be getting paid.  I think the later was more important to him.  He called me yesterday asking when he was going to start working in Quickbooks.  Apparently, he wants to buy something.  What a stinker!  But a very ambitious one!

I asked Kyle, as I always do, what his New Year’s resolution was?  His reply?  A dismissively “Umm I don’t know.”  He could care less, but I guess that will come over time, although when I was his age I made resolutions.  I mean it’s good to set goals, right?  This year mine includes, blogging at a minimum of three days a week, finally writing my book (not sure about that one, but why not), branching out Thrill of the Hunt into Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, in addition to Pennsylvania and building the company to a profitable state.  I’m not looking for millions, just enough to say we’re profiting.  But I guess in time all things will work out the way they are suppose to.

The snow has been falling all day yesterday and all night long.  It’s beautiful out!  Even though we have my Uncle Ray’s funeral tonight, Uncle Ray – Passing of a Piper Legend it’s a bittersweet beginning to a new year.  I have faith that God will bless us with an extraordinary 2014!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Ghostly Encounter in the Hallway

Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,

Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide. ~William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Nicole with Grandpap Chester We still have large picture window in front of the house c. 1974

With the release of summer blockbusters, Kyle and I have a list of movies we want to see.  While vacationing with my sister he saw Madagascar 3- Europe’s Most Wanted, The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, and Ice Age- Continental Drift.  Naturally, when we see a commercial for Batman- The Dark Knight Rises or Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, we both want to see these movies as well.  Yes, Kyle wanted to see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter except it’s rated R, so he’ll have to put that one on his future list.  Every once in a while we’ll see an advertisement for a scary horror flick.  I can’t help myself.  I always ask Kyle, “Do you want to go see that?”  Every time he rolls his eyes with a look of fear and ‘ya right’ and always sternly reply’s “NO!”  Ok I know I’m teasing him, but it does crack me up.  When the movie, The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, Mr. Harry Potter himself, came out I asked Kyle if he wanted to see it.  Now Kyle is a big Harry Potter fan, but every time the movie trailer appeared, he almost always turned his head in fear and wouldn’t watch the advertisement.  Now this is probably the only aspect of Kyle’s existence that is not like my sister.  Nicole used to read Stephen King books and she loved to watch thrillers and scary movies.  Did I mention she goes ghost hunting periodically?  Yep scary thrillers are her thing.

I don’t mind suspenseful thrillers and scary movies but I’m not a die hard fan.  The other day I was thinking of childhood movies that I loved, and one that came to mind was The Watcher In The Woods.  A 1980’s movie starring Bette Davis.  I brought it up to mom, getting her opinion on renting it for Kyle to watch.  It was mutually agreed upon that if I do, I would never be able to get him back in the woods again!  That’s one of those thoughts that just should be deleted.

When did this fear of thrillers and suspense resonate with Kyle?  I’m not really sure.  Kyle was not always like that.  I’ve heard stories about children who hear and see more than adults, spiritually speaking.  Ironically, most adults don’t listen to children, assuming they know more than them or don’t have the time or whatever the reason.  But what’s amazing, I do believe their innocent ears and eyes pick up more than anyone.  Adults have a way of looking at something without truly seeing it.  Our minds are filled with so much crap we can’t sort it out and we can’t see what’s in front of us.  When I think like that, I remember the scene from the movie Where the Heart Is.  During the movie, Ashley Judd was referring to that horrible man who was very inappropriate with her children.  Now I’m going to paraphrase, but she said something along the lines of her children saw him for who he really was, all she saw was a Buick.  That really stuck with me!

My bible study teacher told us this really powerful story of a child in church.  It was during a silent mass, a child turned to her parent and commented on the beautiful music she heard.  First I’d like to explain that silent mass is the opposite of high mass, no singing, no music, just internal reflection and reverence.  You see, it’s said that during mass, heaven and earth join together, the sky opens up and all the deceased, the saints, and angels join us on earth for the celebration of mass, specifically during the Eucharist.  During this time heaven rolls out beautiful sounds.  It is also said that the music coming form heaven is the most glorious and spiritual tunes ever heard!  So maybe that’s what the child heard?  Now doesn’t that story give you chills?


Nicole coming out from the hallway 1974

Kyle has always loved music and dancing, as have I.  So guess what you get when you leave a toddler home alone with me on a Saturday night?  Yep, you get dance party!  When he was smaller, maybe two or three years old, we used to do ‘dance party’.  This didn’t happen too often because, well let’s face it my parents never go anywhere, but on the occasion there was something going on and I would have Kyle all to myself.  Just to shake things up a bit we used to turn off all the lights, decorate ourselves with glow sticks and turn on the music really loud, stand in the living-room and dance our butts off.  Kyle and I would totally bust a move!  It was a blast!  He would move his tiny bum left and right and would throw up his hands, mimicking my motions.  We would dance till we were so winded and covered in sweat that we had no choice but to take a break.  I’m sure anyone who looked in from the outside, through the picture window thought we were crazy, or there seriously was a major party going on.  But alas it was just the two of us having a good time. No wonder Kyle loves playing Just Dance and Michael Jackson on the Wii, of course so do I.

One time during ‘dance party’, we plopped ourselves down on the couch for a breather.  As we sat there pretty much in the dark, except for the glow of our light sticks, Kyle nonchalantly mentioned about the ghost watching us.  What?  I said, “Did you say you see a ghost?”  Very calmly he said, “Ya Aiya.”  Of course, I jump up and turned on the lights and moved my way back to Kyle’s side on the couch.  As I looked around, I saw NOTHING.  Then I started the questions,

“Do you see the ghost now?”
“Where is the ghost?”
“Over there” as he pointed to the door leading back to the hallway.
“Do you see it now?”
“Does the ghost see us?”
“I don’t know, I guess.”
“What does it look like?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Like a man?”
“Umm ya I guess.”
“What was it doing? Dancing?”
He laughed at that one and said, “I don’t know just standing there watching us.”
Have you seen it before?”
“Yep. I guess”


Ryan back by the hallway 1979

Well, I was a little uneasy, but very intrigued.  Treating it as if someone else was really in the house, I walked back the hallway to check, and to turn on a few more lights.  Kyle didn’t seemed alarmed, frightened or phased by his announcement.  I can’t say that I felt the same.  As I suspected, I saw nothing out of the ordinary, nor did I feel anything threatening or scary.  What was really funny, was me walking back the hallway whispering, “Ryan if this is you, you better not scare me!” and “Ryan it better be you and you better not show yourself!”  Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to see my brother, but at that moment if I did see him I would have needed a heart pacer.

Weeks later, I did bring this instance up to Kyle again and he didn’t seem to really remember what I was talking about.  He gave me a puzzled look and kind of remembered discussing the ghost but couldn’t give me any specifics.  I like to think it was Kyle’s dad checking in on him.  Maybe Ryan wanted to join our party!  Actually who am I kidding, Ryan was probably laughing at me and wondering why I was teaching his son to dance like that.  Or Ryan was going to finally get even with me for torturing him as a kid and scare the skin right off of me.  Now that I believe!

A year or two ago, I took Kyle to Gettysburg, one of my favorite weekend getaways.  Nicole was there following her alumni Paranormal State and Kyle and I just wanted to get away.  I must say I love taking ghost tours, not that I think I’m going to see a ghost, but usually those tours are so full of history and really fun stories that peek my interest.  They are enlightening and you always learn something.  While in Gettysburg, Kyle and I decided to take a ghost tour, which he insisted on.  Naturally it was at night and our tour guide was dressed in period attire.  At the very beginning of the tour, she started talking about the ghosts around the area.   She posed the question to the group, “How do you know you’re looking at a ghost?” with everyone just looking at each other waiting for her response of “They don’t have any feet.”  Just then Kyle, grabbed my arm and was gasping for air, while pointing to the lady’s feet.  The way her dress flared out cast a dark shadow under her skirt and made it look like she had no feet, just hovering over the ground.  I almost died laughing, yet I tried to bring rational thinking back to Kyle to calm his mind, so we could get through the tour without having him age ten years.  I had to ask the lady to pull up her skirt to show her feet.  That satisfied Kyle for the moment, although he never really did get too close to her during the tour and gave her a look like it was a trick.  In fact, he was pretty much up my butt the entire way, almost tripping me several times as we made our way past the campus.

One of the story’s our knowledgeable tour guide told us, involved spirits and an open closet door.  For the life of me I can’t remember the details, but the saga stuck with Kyle.  As the narration was being told, Kyle pulled on my arm and said, “Aunt Heather what am I going to do?  My closet doesn’t have a door yet?”  Kyle always picks the worst time to talk, because I was trying to the listen to the tour guide.  It didn’t even dawn on me that he was associating this story to himself and it was geeking him out.  I was too busy paying attention to the history lesson.  By the time we got back to the hotel, Kyle’s fear of the closet was very apparent.  He took one look at the closet, which happened to be right beside our bed and about crapped his pants.  He didn’t even want me to take a shower, for fear of being left along with the closet.  The night prior he slept on that side of the bed, closest to the closet, but on that night he switched with me and practically slept wedged under my body, to completely hide him.

As Kyle got older, I never heard of the ghost again and as far as I know he doesn’t have issues with closets.  Now-a-days Kyle is afraid of the dark, strange noises, the thought of something scarey and the list goes on and on.  Even if I would comment that there was a ghost in the hallway, Kyle would never go to his room again!  If I would bring up the closet story to him, he would instantly own a fear of it, even though I know he doesn’t remember.  I guess that’s just kids in general, they go through phases.  Some I’m glad he is done with, others I which I knew more about, particularly the ghost in the hallway.

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

Rock On Dick Clark!

I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and exploit them.  ~Dick Clark

If you want to stay young-looking, pick your parents very carefully.  ~Dick Clark

It’s real good to be back with you again this year.  ~Dick Clark

Music is the soundtrack of your life. ~Dick Clark

The type of guy that if you knew him, you’d give him a hug every time you’d see him.  Ryan Seacrest

Dick Clark American Bandstand Aunt Heather PiperAs mom and I talked about the passing of Dick Clark, it really dawned on me what we lost, a true pioneer of radio and TV and an icon that spanned generations.  Dick Clark talked to us all in one way or another, he died this past Wednesday at the ripe old age of 82.  Ironically, I feel like Wednesday’s seem to be the day of the end for many.  As usual, I had Kyle on Wednesday when we saw the news on TV.  Now this wasn’t a surprise to many, as Mr. Clark climbed in popularity and entrepreneurial ventures, simultaneously he was climbing in age and health issues, the most noticeable was the effects of a stroke in 2005.

Reading a recent article, Dick Clark was referred to as the “oldest living teenager.”  What a compliment!  It was true and from what I understand he was a hard worker and great guy.  Now, I didn’t know Dick Clark personally, nor have I ever met him, but like many, I can’t help but feel like I knew him through watching his hosted shows over the years.  I mean, there wasn’t one New Year’s Eve that I didn’t spend sharing with this legendary man (except one I believe he was absent).  Kyle knew who he was, introducing him at a young age to the Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve tradition, even though in recent years Ryan Seacrest has taken over the job with a small appearance by Dick Clark.

michael-jackson-dick-clark-Aunt Heather PiperMom commented that she used to watch American Bandstand when it was taped in Philadelphia and broadcasted in Pittsburgh, before it went national and eventually moved to LA.  Now I do remember American Bandstand, the precursor to MTV,  but not quite the same way.  Mom remembered watching Annette Funicello, Paul Anka, Bobby Rydel and Dion to mention a few, whereas I was interested in the Talking Heads, Cyndi Lauper, and Michael Jackson (I believe Dick Clark was a huge fan).

Besides joining Dick in the biggest party of the year, I really remember him for a game show, The $10,000 Pyramid.  My sister and I loved watching that show during the day on our summer vacations from school.  I remember he was witty and fun, really keeping the game entertaining.  Then let’s not forget TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes.  Always a favorite for family entertainment, never a disappointment.

Dick Clark’s resume spanned decades, covered the major networks, and outlined a career as a producer, award winner, business owner, radio talent, and most notably TV icon.  Dick Clark was a respected and honored industry legend who seemed to live a long and full life.

Rest-in-Peace Richard Wagstaff “Dick” Clark
November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012

Dick Clark New Years Aunt Heather Piper

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