Growing Up With Star Wars

It’s like learning to ride a unicorn. You never forget.  ~Eoin Colfer

Kyle at Star Wars Movie Theater Latrobe 12-24-15 Aunt Heather Piper

My young Jedi or I should say Padawan at the Star Wars The Force Awakens move Latrobe, PA 12/24/15

Besides seeing family and friends and eating myself into a sugar coma, two of my other favorite Christmas activities are snowboarding and going to the movies.  Since we’ve been experiencing a very bizarre warm winter of sixty degrees with no chance of snow, snowboarding is out of the question.  However, perhaps waking boarding needs to be the new tradition if this warm weather phenomena continues.

Now the movies.  I love going to the movies! TAKEN by Movies, Our Avatar Adventure, Everything Is Awesome – The Lego Movie, The Hobbit: It’s Always An Adventure with Kyle  Granted, you can go to the movies any time of the year, but the major motion picture industry seems to release their best features during the Christmas season.

Christmas Eve day is always celebrated in our household.  Since I was little, that was the big day, to open a few presents, go to church, have a big meal and invite family to join in on the festivities.  Kyle has grown-up with our traditions, making them as his own.  Christmas Eve day is the Piper Christmas.  Sure Christmas morning held its own special memories, but it started the night prior.  The day before Christmas, we get together and do whatever we want, without rushing, without interruptions, and without expectations, except attending church.  This year, we headed to the movies.

Who went?  Kyle, naturally, and Nicole and myself.

What did we see?  You got it!  Star Wars the Force Awakens Episode VII .  Actually, Kyle planned it, and of course Nicole and I complied, not only because it’s what Kyle wanted to do, but because we each wanted to see the movie with a passion.  Nicole and I turned Kyle into a life long Star Wars fan ever since he was a little tyke.  First, we got him hooked on the movies, and he continued with all his Lego figures, video games, and watching Star Wars the Clone Wars cartoon.  Kyle loved me telling him about the Ewoks cartoon we used to watch as kids.  I wished they’d bring those back.  Maybe with this new Star Wars resurgence.

Nicole & Aunt Heather Piper at Star Wars Movie Jedi training 12-24-15

Check out my lightsabre! Kyle wouldn’t pose twice, so I made him take our pic. Nicole looks like Chewbacca… same color of hair! Latrobe, PA 12/24/15

Did I like the movie?  You bet I did, as did Nicole and Kyle!  It was the typical First Order (bad guys) verses The Rebellion (good guys).  How can anyone not like seeing Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, and no she didn’t wear her hair like cinnamon buns), Harrison Ford (Hans Solo) along with Chewbacca, and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) reunited again!  I was surprised to see the Millenium Falcon, and even Darth Vader made a subtle and yet creepy appearance.  Plus, it wouldn’t have been a proper reunion without C-3PO and R2-D2!  Honestly, I was half expecting to see a vision of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, maybe next time.  I’ll admit, I wiped the sweat from my brow when Jar Jar Binks didn’t make his appearance.  Close one.  And secretly, I was hoping one of the planets that blew up was Naboo, although rest-in-peace planet Coruscant and The Republic.

As always, I enjoyed the little humor and silliness between the characters.  I love, with a passion, the hand-on-hand combat fight scenes (or I should say, lightsabers on lightsabers).  To this day, I have the sound of the lightsabers in my head and it gives me goosebumps.

My only question that came to mind while watching the movie, which I guess I anticipated, was how closely they’re going to stick to the story from the Star Wars books.  (I know George Lucas didn’t write them)  I’ll admit, I read a few Star Wars books long ago, in a galaxy far far away.  (pun intended)  Princess Leia had twins, similar to Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), Princess Leia’s mom.  I assumed twins ran in the family, but there wasn’t any indicator of a twin in the new movie.  Of course, they didn’t reveal that Luke and Leia were twin brother and sister until Return of the Jedi.  Perhaps I’m getting a head of myself.

Have I always been a Star Wars fan?  I have.  I’m not as die hard as some, but I’m a bit of a Star Wars geek.  Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen all seven Star Wars movies in the theaters.  True!  The original Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) debuted in theaters in 1977.  I was extremely young at the time.  So how did I see it?  Back then, movies circulated through theaters slower and played for a longer duration.  My dad actually took me and Nicole to the theater in Ligonier to see the feature.  Ryan, who was even younger than me, was really sick, so mom stayed home with him. 

Facebook screen shot Aunt Heather Piper

I remembered the movie, maybe not every detail at the time, but it left a life long impression on me.  How could it not when they were fighting with lightsabers?  I’ll bet that’s when I developed an interest in swords and samurai sword training.

A few years later, Empire Strikes Back was released, again back to the movie theater once it came around to us in little old Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Then, a few more years later, Return of the Jedi.  This time, mom and dad took us to see it at the drive-in.  To this day, I remember that night with vivid accuracy.  You see, the drive-in hired someone to walk around dressed as Darth Vader.  Yikes!  As a kid, I was freaked out, thinking the dark side of the force was walking around the cars.  In my mind, all I thought about was getting word to the Rebel Alliance like Princess Leia did through R2-D2.  I know what an imagination I had. 

Around 2004 – 2005, the Star Wars movies were digitally remastered and extra scenes were added.  Yep, I hit the midnight showings with friends to re-live the adventures.  Naturally, I saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).  For some reason, I believe I took Kyle to see Revenge of the Sith, although he would have been four years old.  Yep, that makes sense, because I clearly remember him grabbing my arm and curling into my seat when things got tense.  He also had the General Grievous Lego set, which he adored!  I wish I had my blog then, I most certainly would have recorded that event.

Aunt Heather Piper showing Jedi skills at Star Wars movie 12-24-15

Action shot of me practicing my Jedi skills on Nicole after the Star Wars movie. Latrobe, PA 12/24/15

It does make me happy to see Kyle sharing one of my interests, and really getting into it like I did.  In fact, Kyle was joking around before we left for the movies saying he was going to dress up (I can’t remember who he said he wanted to dress like).  My response?  I jumped up saying, “I’ll dress as Princess Leia!”  Kyle didn’t think anything was wrong with that.  That’s my little Jedi!

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

Our Avatar Adventure

All the world’s a stage we’re going through.  ~Lorrie Moore

Avatar-Book-and-Sleeve-3-D-glasses-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A book I purchased for Kyle, Avatar 3-D, includes a sleeve, hardback book with images & 3D glasses. c. 2011

While writing TAKEN by Movies, I was reminded of the time I took Kyle to see Avatar.  Another day at the movies in December 2009, January 2010.  A day I had to defend my actions to a little tyke.

It was a Saturday, late morning, and it was raining none stop.  It started the day prior, and continued into the next, without a sign of letting up.  It was a typical, dreary, foggy, rainy, dark, cold Western Pennsylvanian day.  The kind that makes a person want to curl up on the couch with a blanket, in front of a roaring fire, and read a book or watch a movie.  If it was a little colder, we could’ve played in snow, but alas no such luck.  So going anywhere was a brave move, and forget about playing outside.  Kyle and I watched some television during the morning hours, and we played with Thomas the Tank Engine and his Matchbox cars.  However, the day was dragging along without the sign of promising fun.

Kyle came to me and said, “Aunt Heather (I believe I was Aunt Heather at that point, but I could have still been Aiya) I have an idea!”  He had such excitement in his eyes!  Kyle always did beat around the bush when suggestion anything, but his ideas were usually really good.  He continued, “Since it’s a rainy day, and we can’t go out, and you said during rainy days, it’s a good time to go to the movies.  Let’s see a movie!”

First, I was cracking up, because that kid never forgets ANYTHING!  I do remember saying that very thing, almost word for word.  Rainy days are perfect for staying inside and watching a movie!  I must admit that was a great idea, and I told him so!  We jumped on the computer, and I looked up the list of movies playing and showtimes.  Naturally, in addition to the movie titles, advertisements with the cover of the movies appeared in bright colors, as well as an option to watch the trailer.  Kyle, having a keen eye, was stopped at the image of Avatar.  He also pointed out the button to watch the trailer, which we did.  Okay, I’m hooked.  Even though I was interested in that movie prior to this.

Opened-Avatar-Book-Aunt-Heather-Piper

A page out of the Avatar book. There are layered images for the 3D effect. c. 2011

For a change of pace, I decided to take Kyle to Lowe’s theater in Pittsburgh’s Waterfront.  They were playing Avatar in 3D!  This would be Kyle’s very first 3D movie.  I was excited for him.  Since it was going to take us about an hour, just to get to the theater, plus parking, getting in line, and finding our seat before the movie began, we had to leave straight away!

It was a miserable rainy ride, but the idea of seeing Avatar, a movie we really wanted to see, and in 3D, kept us both focused.  The theater was packed!  Kyle commented that perhaps others had the same rainy day idea.  I concur!  We stood in a long line within the velvet rope area.  When we hit the midpoint in line, I looked at the time to realize our movie was about to being.  Still, no worries, I knew they would play a half an hour of previews, I thought we were still good.  I thought.

During this time, Kyle thinking ahead, suggested that he go and get us popcorn and water while I waited in line, to keep things moving along.  I must admit, that was another great idea, however a scary one.  Kyle was only eight years old.  Yes, I trusted he would not go off with strangers, yet he was young enough to have that decision taken from him.  Reluctantly, I gave him money and instructed him to go to the one counter, where I was able to watch him from my position, and not stray away.  He did as instructed.

Just as I got to the ticket counter, still craning my neck to watch Kyle, I noticed he too was done and headed back.  I asked for two tickets, for the 6:00 pm or 6:30 pm showing (I can’t remember the time).  Sadly, she informed me it was sold out, and the next showing was around 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm (Again, I can’t remember the exact time, only that is was too late).  They didn’t even have an opening for the non 3D movie!  Not wanting Kyle to wait that long to see a show, and then have him try and stay awake while watching, I asked my big screen buddy if he wanted to see another movie.  Naturally, there wasn’t a movie open, at least not appropriate for him, or one he wanted to see.  Plus, he insisted on Avatar.

Okay, okay, I purchased two tickets to the later showing.  I had a plan!

With popcorn and water in hand, Kyle and I made a beeline for the Avatar theater, the earlier showing that just begun.  I handed the ticket person our receipts and entered.  Yes, I know what I did. I entered the wrong theater according to our tickets, but I wasn’t’ going to wait that long to see a movie, especially with a little tyke, and being an hour away from home.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle looked at me with worry in his eyes and said, “Aunt Heather, this isn’t our movie, we’re in the later one!”  O, no I was breaking the rules.  Yes, I kind of was and I didn’t care.  I told Kyle my reasoning and I also added, “There are always empty seats, and I’m willing to stand or sit on the steps to watch the movie, making way for those who purchased tickets for this showing.”  I also told Kyle that I was aware of my wrong doing, and if we got in trouble and got kicked out, and I lost out on the movie, that was a price I was willing to pay.

Avatar-Book-opened-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Avatar book opened showing the beautifully colored images, & sleeve with 3D glasses. c. 2011

Kyle was stressed over my actions and was torn, he wanted to see the movie, and he didn’t want to call me out on our criminal activity, especially since he was now my accomplice, yet didn’t like breaking the rules.  He reluctantly agreed and followed me in.

The previews were almost done.  At that point I figured the general public was seated.  I spotted a couple of seats close to the front, not my favorite seat, but I had no right to be picky.   I grabbed them, again if we were told to leave I would have without incidence, or if someone didn’t have a seat, I would have immediately offered mine.  Neither happened, and besides, we only needed one seat, Kyle continued to sit in my lap, especially when the action consumed the big screen.

Before the movie started, we got cozy, started munching on our popcorn.  It was actually perfect timing.  At the time, Kyle was wearing glasses.  He couldn’t make up his mind, if he wanted to wear his 3D glasses over his glasses, or watch the movie without his glasses, and just wear the 3D glasses.  I never thought of such an issue, me never wearing glasses.  Eventually, Kyle opted to watch the movie wearing his 3D glasses over his glasses.  (He was instructed by the eye doctor to wear his glasses when he watches television or for reading.  Kyle could not have handled breaking two rules in one night!)  It looked a bit awkward, but he managed.

About mid movie, Kyle leaned into me and said, “Aunt Heather, I feel a little dizzy.”  The 3D glasses made the kid seasick!  Seriously?  Yes, and I couldn’t resist chuckling to myself.  I too was a little off balance, but I think it was because we were so close to the screen.  Eventually, Kyle took his red rimmed 3D glasses off, to never wear them again.  In fact, to this day, he prefers NOT to watch a movie in 3D.  (Partially because he hates to layer up the glasses, not that I blame him, and partially because it gives him a headache.)

Well, the movie was a success, and by the time it ended, it was bedtime for us both.  We left rainy Pittsburgh to arrive in rainy Latrobe.  Loving all things Kyle, my parents wanted to see our little man and hear about our movie adventure.

Kyle was all smiles when we walked into the living room.  (That was mostly for the excitement of seeing my parents, which he didn’t see all day)

The story that Kyle told them, had me flabbergasted.  He didn’t focus on the movie, but instead on my quasi illegal activity.  He told a story of how we sneaked into the theater, leaving out that I did indeed paid.  He continued to inform my parents, the theater was full, yet we grabbed two seats.  Correction, we grabbed the seats no one was sitting in.  He also stated that he went off by himself to get our popcorn and water, again leaving out that I had my eyes on him the entire time.  Boy, his story made me out to be a thief and bad parent!  His story was quite colorful and full of adventure.  I guess Kyle has my talent for storytelling.  I didn’t mind, until mom brought it to my attention that he may tell others his story.  I really didn’t want anyone to think I set the example for a kid by sneaking into movie theaters, or letting an eight year old run wild in a busy public place.  I did have to correct him, before he continued to tell my parents about the movie.

Regardless of the rain and a few roadblocks, I had a great time, as did Kyle!

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

TAKEN by Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  ~Walt Disney
Kyle-all-smiles-7-28-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle all smiles in celebration of his birthday! Mr. 9 yr old. 7/28/10

This past weekend, Nicole, Kyle and myself went to the movies.  The movie of choice?  TAKEN 3.  Was it good?  Being a Liam Neeson fan, in my eyes, he could never do no wrong.  But seriously, it was a good movie!

Spoiler alert!  At the end of the movie, while Liam Neeson was fighting the bad guy in a shootout, the vilian was running around in his underwear.  Yep, his “tighty whities” (briefs).  Kyle was sitting beside me cracking up, knowing I would never be caught running around anywhere, in my undergarments.  Please note, Kyle is not shy about sitting around the house in his underwear, not in the slightest.  In fact, that’s his preference.  During this fight scene, yes a fight scene with a man in his underwear, I kept saying, “I can’t believe he’s in his underwear, in the middle of a shootout!”  Kyle was cracking up!  I commented, “I would never be caught dead (pun intended) running around in my underwear.”  Kyle’s response?  “But if you’re already dead, who cares?”  Too funny!  “Yeah, I’d still want someone to cover me up!”  Kyle thought that was such a funny response, he was giggling the entire way up until the end.  

We had dinner at the movie theater, which serves sandwiches and such.  Kyle’s stable?  He always eats the Miss Piggy (pulled pork sandwich), plus other items such as a soft pretzel, ice-cream, popcorn etc.  It’s not always a junk food fest, but sometimes that does turn into the case.

On a side note, Kyle continues with this behavior that he won’t eat anything until the movie starts.  I’ve mentioned it time and time again, but it still amazes me.  Especially, on Saturday, when he was truly hungry.  Nope, he would not touch a thing until the movie started.  Can you say Rain Man?

While waiting (not so patiently) for our movie to begin, I was reminded of the first time I took Kyle to the cinema.  Yes, I introduced him to the world of big screen pictures.  How old was he?  He was definitely walking, I’m guessing around three or four years old.  I know, he was a bit young to be attending the movies, but I knew he’d love it, and have a great time.  It’s true, I was worried his attention span would pucker-out mid movie, but then I was prepared to leave if needed.  What movie did we see?  Honestly, I can’t remember.  Originally, I thought it was a Winnie the Pooh movie, but Nicole corrected me saying she took him to that one.  I’m guessing it was The Incredibles, after all, a year later, I made us The Incredibles costumes for Halloween.  It could have been The Polar Express, Shrek, or Finding Nemo.  All great movies, all Kyle’s favorites at the time, and all seen in the theater. 

Kyle & Scooby, camping.  Yes, that's Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki's flip flops.  What a look! 8/21/10

Kyle & Scooby, camping. Yes, that’s Kyle in his underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops. What a look! 8/21/10

Whatever movie we saw, I took Kyle to Carmike Cinema 15 in Greensburg.  It’s not a huge theater compared to those in the D.C. Metro area, or even the Lowe’s Theater in Pittsburgh, but nice enough.  Upon entering the doors, Kyle was mesmerized.  We went mid-day on a Saturday, only because it was an ugly day out.  There wasn’t a line, so I ducked under the velvet rope, to get to the ticket window quicker.  What did Mr. Play-it-by-the-rules do?  He walked the entire length of the roped off area.  I waited for him to finish his trek before getting our tickets.  I remember, Kyle stated his age to the young person working behind the window.  Why?  Rules!  He wanted to clarify he was a child.  Again, what a cutie!

Once we walked around the ticket window area, Kyle’s olfactory nerves picked up on the smell of popcorn.  His eyes were wide from the lights and the colorful interior, and his mouth watered from the smell of butter and popcorn and candy.  Did I get him a bag of popcorn?  You bet I did!  I wanted him to have the full movie experience.  And you know, he never waited for the movie to start to dig into the buttery bag.  That has been a recent event as of the last couple of years.

Kyle held my hand while we watched the monitor in the lobby, waiting for our theater to open.  Back then, Kyle was always attached to me by the fingers.  I’m not sure when that era ended, but it wasn’t for many years later.  Thank goodness!

While standing in the lobby, Kyle intently examined his surroundings and took it all in.  I could tell he was a bit overwhelmed, but not in a bad way, just in a “something very new” way.  As we proceeded back the large carpeted hallway, looking for our door, still hand-in-hand, Kyle looked up and simply said, “Umm this is nice, Aiya (Aunt Heather).”  I was cracking up!  Believe it or not, I bet I had a better time watching his facial expressions and listening to his comments, than he did with the movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience, still remembering it to this day (except the movie we watched).  On our journey back the hallway, Kyle examined the life size posters and standup advertisements for future and present movies.  He pointed and smiled, especially with recognizable characters.

Upon entering the theater, Kyle’s eyes practically shot out of his head with excitement!  Sporting a huge grin, he pointed and proclaimed, “Loot (look) Aiya (Aunt Heather), loot at that big TV!”  That hooked him!  He was all smiles, and so excited for this new experience.  Little did I know, this single outing would become one of our shared interests, even presently.

Kyle-in-underwear-with-flip-flops-8-21-10 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s favorite look… simply underwear & his Aunt Nikki’s flip flops! Kyle loves cloths (sarcasm) Camping 8/21/10

During most of the movie, Kyle sat in my lap, especially after the lights dimmed to a dark room.  I didn’t mind, it was nice to cuddle with him, and I never missed a reaction.  ALL THE WAY THROUGH the movie, he added his own commentary, talking at full volume, a trait that still holds true today.  I tried to get him to use his “inside voice”, but that was futile during actions scenes.  Kyle also kept asking questions about the movie, while watching it, another trait that holds true today.  Sometimes, he stood up, sometimes he retreated to his own seat or my lap.  It seemed like the musical chairs helped him stay focused.

Can you tell I paid more attention to Kyle, than I did to the showing?  Hence, the reason I truly can’t remember what we saw that day, the one that changed Kyle’s life forever.  (It’s really bothering me!)

Kyle had such a great day!  I equally did as well.  On the way home, we called my sister, who lived in Arizona at the time.  Kyle talked her ear off about his adventure.  I know Nicole couldn’t really make out what he was saying, but she shared in his enthusiasm.

It was after that, that Kyle started to take notice of new movies coming out.  He would request to see certain feature films.  It also didn’t take him long to realize that he was prohibited from watching rated “R” movies.  How do I know?  He would tell me he wasn’t allowed to watch those movies.  My Kyle, always playing it by the rules and never wanting to get in trouble.  Later on, I did take him to see “PG-13” movies before he was  thirteen, but he also knew he was allowed since I was accompanying him.  Kyle is all about the details.  Perhaps, one day, I’ll tell our movie experience with Avatar in the theater.

Together, we’ve seen so many movies thus far, I couldn’t even begin to count.  Some were in the theater, and some at the drive-in.  My sister also adopted this form of entertainment, especially on “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun.”  It’s a fun way to spend time together, as long as the picture of choice is age appropriate.

As a kid, I too loved the movies.  However, back then, it was more a luxury item, than a rainy day staple.  The Latrobe movie theater, the very one we take Kyle to, is the same one I went as a kid.  Back then there were other movie theaters at Gee Bees, Greengate Mall, and at Westmoreland mall, but we rarely went up the highway.  Times have changed, but the love of movies has always remained!

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

Everything is Awesome – The Lego Movie

Emmet: That’s the signal, but the shield is still up.
Batman: Then I guess we’ll just have to wing it.
Batman: That’s a bat pun.

Kyle-&-Duncan-at-5-Guys-Burgers-&-Fries-before-The-Lego-Movie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-21-14

Duncan & Kyle … two good kids… yet too addicted to video games! Five Guys Burgers & Fries before The Lego Movie 2/21/14

On Friday, I took Kyle along with his friend Duncan to see The Lego Movie.  For those who know Kyle, that’s certainly no surprise. His entire life (all of 12 years give or take for infancy age) has been one big obsession over Lego’s.  Even being a seventh grader, Kyle still enjoys putting those multicolored building blocks together and on the occasion, play with said structures.

We first saw the advertisement for The Lego Movie in the theater.  I’m not sure what blockbuster we were there to see, maybe Frozen.  Then it happened, a moment to change all of history, the trailer for The Lego Movie flashed across the screen and captivated Kyle instantly.  He turned to me, smiled and nodded his head saying, “We have to see that!”  I didn’t even get a vote.

Kyle-playing-with-Legos-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle lining up his Lego figures for battle. 2013

In all honesty, I too wanted to see this movie, thinking it was going to be really funny.  Well, that wasn’t the case, at least not in my opinion.  I know I’m not the target demographic, not even close, but come on, I expected a little bit more.   For the most part, I love watching kids movies.  Some I’ve thoroughly enjoyed include: Despicable Me movies, Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. (especially Monsters U), the Shrek movies and the Toy Story movies, but not so much this one.  Yes, there were some funnies, but nothing that had me rolling in stitches.  I was assuming with such popular characters as Gandolf and Batman there would be a ton of puns based off of their respected movies.  Nope.

Perhaps it’s because I watched the showing in isolation.  You see, Kyle and his friend wanted to sit closer to the front, which we all know I don’t like to watch a movie with my nose touching the screen.  Together Alone – Movie Night   Actually in Kyle’s defense, as we walked in, I assumed they wanted to sit without authority hanging over their heads, so I told Kyle “I’ll be up here”, I pointed to the back of the theater.  Kyle gave me a confused look at first, and then realized he could pick whatever seat suited him.  Smiling on my way up the steps, I lightly yelled to both boy, “Behave!”  I waited a few seconds till they got situated and then chose my seat, keeping them in my line of sight.  Kyle and Duncan were so well behaved I thought someone paid them off.

But back to this movie.  Seriously, the only humor I got a kick out of, was hearing Kyle laugh from five rows back and the little kid behind me singing the theme song, Everything is Awesome.  I found more humor in those two actions then I did the entire movie.

Kyle-&-Duncan-at-The-Lego-Movie-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-21-14

Kyle & Duncan after The Lego Movie. Boys loved it, I wasn’t sold… 2/21/14

Slight Spoiler alert:  I can handle Legoland being an imaginary place the movie was centered around, but then to jump back and forth in and out of reality?  What?  I picked up on the lesson to be learned, but whatever.  Not a fan.  At least I have a new theme song to sing to Kyle, Everything is Awesome!

At least Duncan and Kyle enjoyed their night out on the town.  Prior to the movie I took them to Five Guys Burgers & Fries to eat dinner.  The entire time listening to them talk, mostly about video games, made me feel like I was in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.  I had my own Sheldon and Leonard.  Love those guys! (Kyle and Duncan and Sheldon and Leonard)  I’m truly glad they are friends who share the same interests.

I was telling mom about Duncan and how the boys interact, very well might I add.  I went off about the mind numbing conversations between the two.  Half the time I had no idea what they were talking about and when I did, I didn’t care to hear any more.  The conversations  were about video games, characters in video games, game trivia etc.  I wanted to scream, ‘Next topic, please!’

The way those two communicated, and I use that word communicated loosely, mom said Kyle reminds her of my sister when she was young.  Yep, Kyle and his Aunt Nikki are very similar.  The video games may have changed, but the clunky awkwardness remains the same.

On a side note, the plan was to take the boys the week prior, however, Kyle never told Duncan he wanted to go to the 5:00 pm showing which is what Kyle told me, and Duncan thought we were going to the 7:00 pm showing because he had piano lessons earlier but never mentioned anything to his parents.  I guess typical boys.  I assumed they had all plans figured out but I was clearly wrong.  This past night out on the town with the boys, before it turned into another fiasco, I spoke directly with Duncan’s mom to clarify all plans.  We were good to go!

Here are a few videos of Kyle putting together his Star Wars Death Star from Christmas 2011.

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

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

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

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Idlewild-Park-Pony-Ride-c.-2002

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.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-&-Kyle-bedtime-pic-c.-2009

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.

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Swinging-c.-2002

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.

Kyle-roller-Skating-in-Latrobe-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c.-2009

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

Famous

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.  ~John Wooden

Academy Award OscarEvery once in a while, the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Office reaches out to me to do extra work.  You know, be the person in the background during a scene, the extra movement on camera.  When I have time I partake in said activity.  Why not?  It’s a little extra cash and I think it’s fun to be on set, to see the true workings of a movie or TV show being shot.  Plus it’s fun to meet other extras and the chance to see a celebrity is exciting.

My most recent appearance?  I was on set for a new TV show being shot in Pittsburgh for the A&E Channel called Those Who Kill.  My first appearance on the show?  It was a few months ago and it was almost too comical.  I had to park my car in the background at the State Penitentiary.  Then, I had to move my car into a different parking lot a few feet away, and then my ultimate appearance of that shoot, I had to drive past the house they were shooting from.  Yes!  My car got a lot of action.  I was cracking up as I had to drive up and down the street on cue.  My sister thought that was the funniest thing she ever heard!  I told her, “Ya every time I passed the house, I would turn my head in that direction.”  We both laughed at my silliness.  As if I really thought my face would be seen in the background, in a car, on the street from inside a house.

The second time I made my appearance on the show, I definitely got more face time.  There were a few scenes I was in, even crossing paths with the actors.  Well, you never can tell what will end up on the cutting room floor and what will make it, but chances are with all the exposure I did get, my face will be seen.  Is it important to me?  Not really.  It’s just fun to anticipate my appearance and naturally pointing myself out to others.  I’m not delusional to think I will get a huge acting gig from the corner of a single scene, and I know the Academy Awards don’t have me on speed dial.  I’m simply enjoying life and I try to spice things up a bit and move my own cheese, getting me out of the every day routine.

Since the Grammy’s are this Sunday and the Academy Awards are not far behind, it makes you wonder what it would be like, being surrounded by that amount of fame?  And my second thought, if I had only a few minutes to meet specific actors who would I select?

Some people get totally goo-goo eyed over their encounters with celebs.  Now don’t get me wrong, it is exciting and neat to meet those we watch on TV and the big screen, but I would never pass out over the idea of meeting any celebrity.

Kyle is getting more and more into movies.  I love it!  I am a movie fan myself, maybe not as serious as some, but I do like a variety of genres.  Everything from thriller/suspense, to comedy, romantic comedy, action, a little bit of drama, chick flicks, musicals, advant guard and I love movies that are based on true stories.  Gory horror movies are my least favorite.  I don’t mind the blood and guts, but I like to use my imagination and sometimes it’s taken way over the edge.

Kyle on the other hand loves his comedies.  He doesn’t like horror or scary at all!  I can’t even say he likes thrillers or suspense.  Kyle gets too stressed over the anticipation and the idea of being scared.  I remember watching Coroline with him, the children’s movie about a girl who goes to the other side of a scary world.  Kyle was wrapped around my neck the entire time watching the movie through my hair.  He doesn’t mind some action and some drama, but not too much, he emotionally cannot separate himself and he physically can’t handle it.

Anyway, while Kyle and I have talked about the idea of “Who would you like to meet?” I can say I do have a small yet distinguished list.  Naturally, over the years I’ve thought about this topic and discussed it with friends.  While the names have changed as movies have come and gone and as I’ve matured, there are a few that remain constant.

There are two ways of looking at it, those who are with us and those who are not.  Since Kyle doesn’t really have the experience of liking an actor or celebrity and having them pass away, I stuck to the live ones.

Ladies first, my list of actresses includes Wonder Woman herself Lynda Carter; the lovely and talented Julie Andrews; the amazing Bernadette Peters; the humorous and seemingly fun Cameron Diaz, Hollywood’s current it gal, Jennifer Lawrence; action packed Lucy Liu; and smart and well rounded Natalie Portman.

Now the gentlemen.  My list would include the diverse Liam Neeson; the mysterious yet funny Christopher Walken;  Hollywood’s silly and talented, Johnny Depp; the heroic Orlando Bloom, the sarcastic and dynamic, Robert Downy Jr.; sweet Judd Law; and the newest member of my list, Mr. Chris Ashton Kutcher.

Seems like there are more guys on the list, which was not intentional.  I know there are others I would like to add, but for today, that’s a pretty solid line up.

My list of powerhouse influentials include, Sarah Palin, I’d love to go running with her; Bill O’Reilly; Tyra Banks; Stephanie Meyer; and of course his holiness Pope Francis.

I know I’ve discussed Kyle’s affection toward Oooh I Like Johnny Depp.  Aside from that I really don’t know who else Kyle would like to meet.  He doesn’t really get star struck, at least not yet.  Maybe, he never will.  As time passes I’m sure his tastes will change.

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

The Hobbit: It’s Always an Adventure with Kyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

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

Kyle-sleeping-6-9-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

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

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

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

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

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-backyard-steps-landscaping

This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

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

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

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

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Backyard-Landscaping

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

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

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

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

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Backyard-Before

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cow-Toilet-Found-on-a-Walk-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oooh I Like Johnny Depp!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love of Animals, Even Fictitious Pets

I really love pets.  They’re like children.  They know if you really love them or not.  You can’t fool them.  ~Donna Douglas

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Kyle is the bumblebee c. 2003

Recently, we watched the movie I Am Number Four Last Weekend Before School – 6th Grade.  Not a bad movie at all, in fact Kyle really like it!  Toward the end, when the action scenes started rolling out, the beagle in the movie changed into a creator of some sort to fight off the bad guys.  Anyway, to sum it up, the beagle became injured during their battle.  Then as the rest of the movie unfolded, there was no sight or sound of the dog.  The entire time, Kyle kept asking what happened to the dog?  Even when the action got good, Kyle would interject, “Wonder what happened to the dog?  Pappy, what do you think happened to the dog?  Do you think he died?”, clearly upset over the possibility.  We were all watching the movie like he was and none of us had a clue.  Not satisfied with his pap pap’s lack of knowledge, Kyle turned his set of questions onto me.  Getting my opinion and responses weren’t as nice as my dad’s, “Kyle!  I have no idea!  I’m watching the same movie as you are, I’m not psychic! Shuhh!”  He actually stood up and watched the remainder of the movie that way, I’m guessing trying to remove some of his anxiety.  As he stood there clearly engrossed in the movie, I couldn’t help but sport a big smile on my face.  Just because he physically gets into movies and stresses over things like, ‘Where’s the dog?’.

Finally, at the very end of the movie, the beagle made his way to his owner, limping but clearly alive and on the verge of recovery.  Kyle smiled with a sigh of relief when the dog was framed on the screen.  He was sincerely happy to see the pet make it.  Kyle even looked around at us to see if we were sharing in his joy.  Now I will admit I did say, “There’s your beagle, now you can relax.”  He nodded and sat back down.

After the movie we took the dogs, our real pets Scooby and Seven, for a hike.  While stretching our legs Kyle kept talking about the beagle, and how relieved he was to see it alive.  How happy he was to see it make it through the battle.  I guess this was a nice change of pace, as opposed to the usual Lego talk. But can you believe the dog from the movie was still on his mind?  It was!

Kyle’s passion for animals shouldn’t take me by surprise, because he is a very caring youngster.  When Dog Gone, good old thunder and lightening (Scooby and Seven) ran off, he was sick over their mischievous actions.  Not only because he knew they would get in trouble but he didn’t want anything to happen to them.  Being relentless, he kept calling them and walking around looking for any signs of the runaways.  Kyle was completely worried and stressed until they came back.

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Ryan holds Jake as a puppy… he loved that dog. c. 1990’s

Let’s not even discuss Puppy Problem Called Seven, when Seven got in big trouble for eating the oatmeal creme pies off of the counter.  I will admit I lost my temper and yelled like a wild banshee and punished Seven by putting him in his cage.  That day, Kyle put Seven’s food and water in with the prisoner, even though his jail time was only maybe an hour.  And ever since that instance, Kyle was very aware of leaving food out on the counter and table for fear the dogs would try the same stunt.  Not because he didn’t want the dogs to eat the food, but because he fears for their punishment, getting yelled at having a time out in their cage.

During our hikes through the woods, I always have the shock collars on the dogs.  I rarely need to shock them, they listen pretty well.  But before there is an opportunity for the dogs to get in trouble, Kyle inspects the remote and makes sure the intensity is turned down, really low in case we need to use it.  Recently, I misjudged our remaining daylight hours as we set out for our hike.  In the middle of our walk, darkness started to fall on us pretty quickly, not to mention nightfall arrives in the woods first, under the cover of trees.  As we made our way back on the trail,  I decided to cut across onto a logging road where there was more light, ultimately bringing us out of the ticket sooner than our current course of action.  Just as this decision was made, Seven encountered a creature of the night.  How do we know? While we were blinded by darkness, Seven yelped and we heard a little bit of a tussle between animals.  I have no idea what it was, but Seven sustained a scratch from the beast on his leg.  At that moment, Kyle said, “Let’s get out of here!  When we get back to the house we can inspect him.”  Kyle was scared when he heard Seven cry.  I jumped too!  My first thought was it must be another porcupine, since Scooby’s last encounter.  However, it wasn’t.  Then Kyle started to say, “I’m never going into the woods when it’s dark or getting dark again!  I’ll go first thing in the morning, when I know it’s going to get light out. But NEVER when it’s getting dark!” I felt really bad he was so upset and at that moment my concern was not for Seven but to alleviate some of Kyle’s fear.  I said, “Kyle there are all sorts of animals out during the day too.  Not all animals come out at night.  We just haven’t ran into any animals during the day. But they’re there.”  He replied, “Ya but at least I could see the animals during the day and at night I can’t!”  Point taken.  Now I felt really, really bad. Let’s face it, I make Kyle hike with me and the dogs, he really doesn’t have a choice, and now he’s afraid of the woods.  Being afraid of the dark is not a new thing for Kyle and fueling that fire was never my intention.  I just wanted all of us to stretch our legs, get our bodies moving when it was cooler in the evening.

Anyway, now Kyle was paying very close attention to where the dogs were walking, on our journey back.  As we got to the edge of my cousin’s sawmill, Kyle kept reiterating that I need to check Seven to make sure he’s ok.  He was truly worried.  I did try to debunk his stress by saying he looked fine, no porcupine quills.  Kyle asked me what it was, and I couldn’t honestly answer for sure, except to say, “I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a porcupine, it could have been a raccoon.”  Just then Kyle said, “I think there’s something wrong with Seven’s leg Aunt Heather.  I think he’s limping!”  At that moment Seven ran past us at mock speeds to ram Scooby.  I said, “Ya I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his leg.”  Kyle sort of smiled and nodded in agreement, but he was still concerned for his puppy.  Later on we did find a scratch on his inner leg, but the vet said it was healing fine and Seven never seemed to be bothered by it.

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Jake running free as a puppy… he always liked to be free

As we headed toward the entrance of the sawmill, I couldn’t find Scooby.  Granted it was dark, but he wasn’t listening to me when I called.  Just then, a very stressed out Kyle grabbed the zapper remote and hit it once for Scooby. Nothing.  No dog.  Then I saw Kyle turn up the strength of the zapper and hit it again.  Miraculously Scooby appeared by our side.  Kyle mentioned to me, as if confessing, “I didn’t want to hurt him but I didn’t want him in the woods in case there was another porcupine.  I don’t want him to get shot in the eye or something.”  I was actually in shock, this was not the Kyle I know and love, yet it was.  He was portraying my traits of tough love!  Usually he’s the one to make sure the zapper it turned down but now in order to protect Scooby from potential larger harm, Kyle zapped the dog to bring him back to safety.  Even thinking about it now, I am still dumbfounded.

This was not the only instance of tough love.  Recently, my Kyle, the one who never could hurt any animal, started to spray Storm with the water bottle.  Granted, it’s not hurting the cat in the slightest bit, but Storm is certainly not happy with Kyle’s new actions.  Apparently, Storm was biting Kyle, which I don’t want to continue, so Kyle’s taking it upon himself to bring justice to the guilty.  This has actually gotten kind of funny.  The other day I caught Kyle walking around the house with the spray bottle like he was packing heat.  Take it easy Tex!  I think he thinks he’s a vigilante.  Anyway, as I gave Kyle a look of ‘What are you doing?’ he instantly justified his actions by saying, “I’m teaching her not to bite, especially me.  I know she doesn’t like it, but it’s for her own good Aunt Heather.”  Too much!  When he said the last part, he leaned his head to the side and gave me a look like he was an adult disciplining a child!  I just smiled and said, “Ok buddy, whatever you think is best.”  He quickly added, “Ya Aunt Heather so she doesn’t get in really big trouble.”

Kyle, what a stinker!  I’m very proud of him!  He has such a big heart.  I hope no one ever takes advantage of his loving and caring nature and he continues to stay this way.  His dad, even though he was a hunter, had a soft spot for animals too, especially his dog, Jake.  But that’s another story.  Pets really do hold a special place in our hearts and I believe they are much needed.

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

Last Weekend Before School – 6th Grade

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.  ~Victor Hugo

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First day of 6th grade…his fashion sense hasn’t gotten any better… 8/27/12

Kyle is officially in the sixth grade!  Wow!  I know to expect these milestones, but every year I’m taken off guard and it’s still a surprise.  This past weekend I kept reminding Kyle about school on Monday and I kept teasing him of all the homework. He kept grunting and giving me the look of ‘O No!”.

On Friday night we just hung out, kicking back, relaxing.  Kyle went to the grocery store with me to pick up a few items for dinner.  We finally agreed on steak, since we were having corn on the cob, cooked on the grill.  While at the grocery store, we ran  into my cousin Karen, coincidentally the one who gave us the corn from her garden.  Yep, Friday set the stage for the rest of the weekend, the theme of laid back.  Usually Friday’s are all rush, rush, rush till bedtime.  Nice change of pace.

Saturday morning we loaded up the truck with the pistol, Kyle’s .22 rifle and a couple of dad’s rifles and headed out to the shooting range.  Which reminds me, I need to get a new set of headphones like the ones dad and Kyle wear.  I don’t like the foamy ones that are placed in the ear.  I’d rather have my ears engulfed in padded protection.  Anyway Kyle mostly shot his .22 rifle at a target about 50 feet away, while dad was shooting at 100 yards, testing out the different mixtures he loaded in the bullets and the accuracy of the rifles.

My job, to keep an eye on Kyle.  There was another group of guys there who were shooting clay pigeons.  I had to make sure Kyle didn’t get in their way, stayed out of his pappy’s danger zone, and didn’t put anyone in danger through the reinforcement of proper rifle handling.  Shooting is fun, but it’s certainly an activity of responsibility.  I gave Kyle all the shooting time he wanted.  Dad hooked us up with a full box of .22 bullets.  Every once in a while, I would sneak in a few shots.  Kyle like to share his rifle and time behind the trigger. I think he enjoyed the togetherness of the activity, not to mention I think Kyle liked to see who was the better shot.  Plus it gave him a break, he’s not really die hard with anything except his marathon of playing video games.  He didn’t do too bad at all.  He shot standing free hand and sitting, but his favorite was using the sticks and sitting on a bench.  He hit some dead on!  Way to go buddy!

After a few hits to the target, I could tell Kyle was getting bored, so I got out the .22 pistol.  It’s a neat little pistol that I’ve shot countless times, one that I’ve always favored since I was little.  As I loaded the clip I showed Kyle where the safety was, how to line up the sights and how to load the chamber.  As I handed the pistol to Kyle, he almost leaned away from me, as if saying ‘I don’t know’.  Picking up on his body language I said, “Did you want to shoot the pistol first?”  With the beginning of an inquisition, he said, “Does it have a kick?”  I simply stopped him from going down his list of questions and debunked his anxiety by saying, “How about I’ll shoot this clip first and then if you want to take a turn you can, but you don’t have to.”  Happily he nodded his head and presumed his position behind me.

How did I do?  Well not very good free hand.  Actually, very disappointing.  Shooting off of the sticks or a support I’m alright, but shooting free hand was nothing to brag about.  Kyle was the same.  I guess we need serious practice.  After I shot in a clip of about eight or nine rounds, I think Kyle felt a little more comfortable with this foreign firearm.  You know I always forget, I’ve grown up around guns so there was never a fear of them.  In fact, I don’t remember the first time I shot.  I was little, in fact, thinking about it, there was never a time where I didn’t know how to shoot a gun.  As a family, we would go up on the ridge and target shoot pretty frequently with other family members and friends.  During that time,  I was able to see what each firearm sounded like and how it handled with the shooter.  That’s knowledge that Kyle has not really been privy to, at least not consistently.  I don’t think he has ever seen my dad clean the guns either.  When we were little, I used to complain about the smell that accompanied that action.  Now don’t get me wrong, being a part of the Piper household, by default Kyle has been exposed to firearms since we was born, the result of a hunting family.  However, Kyle’s exposure was not in the same way that me, Ryan and Nicole were.  Actually, I was always a decent shot.  Even to this day, I still enjoy shooting.  I wish I would have kept it up over the years, frequency means accuracy, but alas life gets in the way.  From what dad has told me, mom used to be a dead on shot.  She doesn’t really shoot anymore, but Nicole is getting back into it again.

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Kyle with his pappy at the shooting range. 8/25/12

After a few hours at the shooting range we headed back to the house for lunch.  It was a hot one on Saturday, so the desire to be outside was not there.  Instead, we decided to plug in a couple of movies, Hunger Games and I Am Number Four.  Mom and dad didn’t like Hunger Games.  What?  How can that be?  Maybe they should have read the books first and then they would have understood the movies better.  I took Kyle to see that movie in the theater when it first came out.  Eventually he wants to read the books.

Sometime during admission, I ran to the Dairy Queen (DQ) to pick up some cold treats before retreating back to the cool insides of the house and starting the second movie.  Now that was my idea of a near perfect day, eating DQ, hanging out with the family, spending time with Kyle and watching movies!

Alas, now the day was escaping us and we waited till the evening to take the dogs for their weekly hike.  The entire way, Kyle talked about the movie I Am Number Four.  He wanted to see if there was a sequel.  He said, “They have to have another movie, so they can finish the story.  They have to find number five and seven, eight and nine.  They just can’t end it, we have to know what happened.”  I was cracking up.  I told him, “I don’t know buddy, maybe they will.  But if they didn’t make enough money on the first movie, then they probably won’t make a second.”  A little concerned over that comment he said, “They have to finish the story!  Did they find number five?”  While I was laughing, I said, “Honey, I don’t know.  I don’t even know how old the movie is.”  Not accepting that answer he asked me how I know about up coming movies like Iron Man 3 and Avengers 2?  “I know that because I read it online, different articles and news feeds.”  He couldn’t stand it that he didn’t know anything about a part two of I Am Number Four.  He even started to name the sequel, saying “I Am Number Four, two”  Naturally I started laughing just as Kyle realized what he said.  He then decided that since Aunt Nikki was the one who suggested the movie, she would have the skinny on the sequel.  He said, “I’m going to ask Aunt Nikki about it, I’ll have her look it up.  She would know.”  Kyle is too much, very persistent!

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Kyle shooting in his .22 rifle, we also shot in the .22 pistol 8/25/12

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful.  Church on Sunday morning and a lot of loafing around for the majority of the day.  It was another hot one, so Kyle and played with Seven, Scooby and Storm inside.  I was actually going to take him to the movies, but the idea didn’t hit me until it was too late.  Sunday was a perfect “nothing” day before Kyle had to be back to the responsibility of school.

Did I mention that Kyle was gathering loose change and counting it all weekend?  That kid, if he doesn’t become a banker then he might be missing his calling.  He also talked nonstop about this Lego chess set he saw online.  I think he thought since I have no issue with him playing chess, either online or the actual physical board game, which I actually encourage, he feels that it’s a shoe in for him getting the game for Christmas.  Yep, Kyle is already prepping for Christmas!  He kept searching different sites for different Lego chess sets and different price points to give me options.  Oh, it’s never a day with Kyle without at least the mention of Lego’s.

Yesterday morning I saw Kyle off for his first day of school.  I kept that tradition ever since he was in kindergarten and this year will conclude it.  Watching him grow up has been fun and helpful to my own personal growth.  He is going to like sixth grade, I just know it.  I called him last night to see how his day went.  He didn’t seem enthused, but I was probably interrupting cartoon watching, since I’m sure he was going through withdrawal.  Sixth grade, his last hooray before junior high…I have a feeling this year will fly by FAST!

 

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Kyles target… he started hitting the center the more he shot… even though the rifle was not shooting accurate as we later found out. 8/25/12

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