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

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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.

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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

Playing As Kids – Car Chasing

Compassion is the basis of morality.  ~Arthur Schopenhauer

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Ryan holding Jill, our 1st family dog, on our front porch. She was part collie & part coonhound. She was named Jill after our cousins’ dog, Jack c.1984

As I’ve mentioned before in Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling, as these crazy stupid memories of entertainment come rushing back to me from my childhood, I will record them in a blog entry for Kyle’s later enjoyment.

Two weekends ago we had the dogs out and about since it reached forty degrees, before the anticipated winter blast from the northwest rolled in.  My mom decided to take the boys for a ride, their favorite activity after eating and sleeping that is.  While mom drove them up and down the road, it reminded me of another stupid/fun activity we invented.

What was this crazy pastime?  From the blog title one might assume we acted like dogs and literally chased cars.  Not exactly.  Let me first explain about my first dog, Jill.  She was named Jill because my cousin’s, who lived down the road from us, had a dog named Jack.  We thought it was humorous to say Jack and Jill (went up the hill to fetch a pail of water…).  Anyway, we received our beloved Jill for Christmas one year, circa 1981.  I was about six or seven years old in the first grade, Nicole the third and Ryan wasn’t in school yet, going into kindergarten the following year.

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Jill enjoying the fall foliage under the grape harbor. 1980s

We had mom’s dog Baby in the house, but Jill was our very own dog, our first one.  The dog we were suppose to share among the three of us, and we did.  Jill was a beautiful mix of Coonhound and Collie.  Basically, she was a blond collie with black fur outlining her features, especially around her ears and eyes.  To us as little kids, she was a huge dog, but in reality she was a medium to large size dog, with a few extra pounds, as many of the Piper dogs sport.

Jill had this bump on the top of her head where her skull came to a point.  In my eyes as a youngster, that meant she was really smart.  Let me tell you, she wasn’t stupid in the slightest.

Jill loved all of us kids, cousins included.  Never, ever, did she nip or snap at us, even when we’d lay on her, chase her around, give her baths, cut her hair and all the basic things kids would do to a dog they adored.  She followed us everywhere, for bike rides, running through the woods, and she’d stay on the porch at my cousin Casey’s (and the crew) while we played in the yard.  Yep, Jill was the best dog who lived.  She stayed with us for a good long while, until I was out of high school sometime.  (Scooby and Seven are pretty good too!)  Jill even hung with Ryan’s dog Jake for many years, but she never got to meet my late cat Pudd’in, but she did have friends who were cats.

Jill LOVED car rides too, like all of our dogs after her.  (Mom’s dog Baby, Jill’s predecessor hated car rides).  Naturally as little kids we couldn’t exactly take the car out for a spin to fulfill her adventurous wish, so I got creative one day.

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A close-up of our beloved Jill. Part collie & part coonhound, she was one of a kind! 1980s

How could a kid roughly ten years old at this point, satisfy the dog’s hunger to feel the wind in her ears and feed her wild side?  Simple.  We acted it out.  I remember this day all too well, probably because it was seriously the silliest thing we’ve done, or close to it, to date.

It started with a beautiful sunny Sunday.  I remembered coming home from church and changing into my play cloths.  Since it wasn’t too hot, I would peg the season to be spring.  These crazy adventures always  started with Ryan and me looking for some trouble to get into.

Opening the door to the car, we thought it was all too funny Jill jumped in and sat down, thinking she was going for a ride.  That’s when I felt terrible for misleading her.  Knowing, mom and dad had no plans of getting in the car and taking her for a ride, I improvised.

I had an idea!  Instructing Ryan to get in the driver’s side and act like he was driving, I stood beside the car and ran back and forth to simulate motion.  Thinking back on this situation now, I truly laugh at that sight!  Ryan really got into it too.  He was motioning like he was shifting gears (mom’s car was a manual transmission) and making loud engine noises.

We even wound down the windows, while Jill sat in the backseat with her head hanging out like she was cruising along.  It even became a race, once Ryan would “rev up the engine” I would run slower behind the back passenger door, like the car was passing me.  Then Ryan would act like he was slowing down, taking that as my cue to speed up to be parallel to the hood of the car, never going too far in either direction.

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Ryan, me & Nicole in the living room. Yes I believe we were fighting over the baton c. 1983

Oh but that was not all!  Ryan turned over the key to get juice to the car without turning on the engine, putting it in accessory mode.  With the electrical components working we were able to add to our quasi driving experience.  Ryan turned on the radio to give me some running music, and him and Jill some driving tunes.  We even thought it was funny to blast the music.  Sometimes Ryan would switch on the windshield wipers.  Great idea until he hit me with over spray with the windshield wiper fluid, although that caused giggles to erupt from both parties.  I bet Jill thought we were a bunch of idiots.  Yet I know she appreciated our sense of humor and our passion for having fun.

Nicole must have heard our ruckus and decided to investigate, finding this unusual behavior exciting.  Being so wrapped up in our activity, all we heard echoing from the porch was “What are you guys doing?” in that same authoritative brush voice of hers that still rings true today.

Would you believe even Nicole got in the car, granted she wouldn’t take turns like Ryan and me running beside the car, but she would sit and pretend to be a passenger or drive.

We were out there for hours, doing the same thing, that is until mom checked in on us and realized we’ve been draining her car battery.  That ended electronic entertainment but the car fun continued.

Eventually, we had to come in for dinner.  Jill jumped out of the car with such enthusiasm and satisfaction it made us all happy.  She loved playing with us, even though the car never left its spot.

Using the imagination is the best way to play!  At least Jill thought so.

Read About Our Other Activities

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling

 

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

Maturity in the Form of Loosing Teeth, Takes Time

In this pocket you will find
A teensy, tiny tooth of mine.
So while I sleep where dreams are made,
Let’s see if you can make a trade.  ~Author Unknown

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Kyle’s 1st day of the 6th grade. What a nice smile buddy! 9/2012

Ever since Kyle was in the third grade, or there about he has been obsessed with loosing his baby teeth.  He, like the rest of my family is a Late Bloomer.  Personally I don’t think it’s a bad thing, always priding myself on it, it’s just the way it is.

In fact, I’ve told Kyle, he is lucky to loose his teeth later on in life, but he never wants to hear it.  Especially, since it’s like pulling teeth to get him to brush his, pun intended.

On a side note, it took us years of bribing the kid and reminding him to brush his teeth, when he wasn’t with us, to do so.  Seriously, years.  Sometimes I would swear he didn’t brush his teeth all week, they were so caked with crud I was grossed out and couldn’t understand how he even tasted his food.  To this day, he still has an issue with waking up and brushing his stinky breath, a habit that needs to be reinforced every day and inspected, a battle I refuse to give in to.  If he doesn’t know he’s missing areas of tarter, then how can he correct it if it’s not pointed out?  Leave it to me, I have no qualms with making him stand there and revisit questionable areas.  Anything to keep his teeth as healthy as possible.  I don’t budge on this issue.

Hygiene is not an concern with Kyle.  His only concern is with the number of baby teeth left.  You see according to his friends, he is the only one with remaining baby teeth.  I get it, he’s in the seventh grade, but he doesn’t realize he’s very young for his class and put on top of that, he’s a Piper, all makes for a totally immature individual. (maybe I should lighten up on other acts of immaturity)

Granted, he wasn’t always like this.  O no, at first, when I finally plucked out his first tooth, and yes, I yanked the darn thing out, Kyle was excited about the space between his teeth.  Not to mention he loved the promise of the tooth fairy, which made the ordeal worth while, and of course the money that generally accompanies a baby tooth, all combined made for one happy toothless kid.

Although times have changed.  A few weekends ago, as I was picking up my little man off of the bus, he sat proudly in the passenger seat and showed off another missing tooth.  He wasn’t excited over having a hole where a tooth should be residing.  O no!  He was elated for knowing he had one less baby tooth, but then obsessed over the hole and when the other tooth will take its place.  And so goes the vicious cycle.

Recently, it seems like Kyle is knocking down the count.  Last weekend Kyle showed me a tooth that was barely hanging on.  He has real issues with causing pain or seeing blood or the possibilities of either.  Nope, instead he played with that baby molar, with his tongue, until it popped out.  While working at my desk, Kyle hands me something.  It was his tooth!  I was so excited for him!  I said, “Wow buddy they’re coming out in full force now!”  He gave me the biggest grin and then informed me of the final count of those still standing.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the count but the numbers are dwindling.

Whenever the conversation of baby teeth comes up, Kyle comforts himself with the knowledge that his Gigi, my mom, lost her last baby tooth when she was in her early twenties, while working at Kennametal.  It’s true, the dentist had to sedate her to yank it out.  Mom’s a big baby too!  Kyle loves rehashing that tale like he was there.

Nicole, Ryan and me all took a long time to loose our baby teeth too.  In fact, I remember pulling out the few popular front teeth, but as for the rest, I have no idea when they made their grand exit.  To be honest, I forgot all about them by the time I too got to the junior high.  The posterior teeth were probably consumed with a meal, giving added crunch.  I never cared about my baby teeth, at least not after I found out the tooth fairy was mom and the money dried up.

What cracks me up, soon this will be all over and totally forgotten about by Kyle.  But until then, it is a focus of his, in addition to his video games.  He needs to learn to accept the fact that he is a Piper, which is synonymous with late bloomer, but he is still having a hard time dealing with the baby teeth situation.  I don’t want Kyle to rush growing up.

Enjoy life as it comes buddy!

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

Respectfully Standing Up For Yourself

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

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Kyle digging into his basket on Easter Sunday morning. 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling

You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.  ~Stewart O’Nan

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. Check out the game of pushing the wheel. 7/2002

The other day at the gym, the topic of playing as kids and the things we did came up.  It’s so very true how different I had it growing up compare to Kyle, and I’m sure my mom could say the same and so on and so forth.  Although, mom’s childhood was not entirely different from mine, no surprise considering we both grew up with our slew of cousins as neighbors, on the same hillside, on my uncle’s farm and in the same house my mom lived.  How about that for family stability, which is almost unheard of now-a-days!

Sure, we had Atari and Pong and we did have one of the first apple computers that could have been programed to dance multicolored lines across the screen.  However, those electronics were never the focus of our entertainment. Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man and Gamers Start Small & Grow

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My Aunt Emily Olczak, sister to my Uncle Walter. Love the Babushka! c. 1980s

What did we do exactly?  Well, first I’d like to say, my brother, sister, cousins and myself were all a bit odd in our merriment.  We made due with what we had around us.  Honestly, we enjoyed life and had a great childhood without all the frills!

There are so many strange activities we discovered, as they come to mind, I’ll be sure to record them in my blog, so Kyle can read about our crazy pastimes.

Please note, not all of our stupid entertainment happened when we were young, some but not all.  Sometimes we were well into our teens, heck twenties, humoring ourselves.  Now on with the tire rolling…

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Our beloved Jill sitting in the front yard, over looking my Uncle Walter’s field & house.

Once after school, roughly  junior high age, I stepped outside to see what Ryan was up to.  I’m still not sure where it from came or from what, but Ryan was rolling this tire around in the yard.  It was about half the diameter of a bicycle tire, but it was wider.  I remember Ryan was pushing it to get it rolling and then running up to wheel and catching it.  Seriously?  Yes!  Naturally, I wanted to join in, so we started taking turns.  We were pushing a tire to get it rolling and then running beside it to stop it.  Did we loose our minds?  Perhaps, but we were having a good time!

Our initial challenge was to get this tire to travel a far distance before falling over.  Then, one of us got the brilliant idea to push our limits by rolling the tire down the hill into my Uncle Walter’s field, below my parent’s house.

We pushed the tire, down a hill, into a field, and ran beside it.  Once we wrapped our hands around the rogue tire, we would march it back up the hill and start all over, taking turns of course.  Sometimes gravity chose to join in on the fun by pulling us to the ground tripping us up and creating a good face plant before reaching the tire.  Sometimes the tire would just fall over from hitting divots in the ground and not get very far.

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. We slept on wooden floors under mosquito nets. 7/2002

Did I mention we had a blast?  That is until mom pulled up the driveway and saw what we were up to.  One would think, ‘Who cares, the kids were having harmless fun’.  Well we were, but what you didn’t know and as kids we never considered, my Aunt Mary’s green house sat at the bottom of the hill.  A greenhouse made entirely of glass held together by metal cross sections.  If that tire would have picked up more steam and stayed on course, it could have made a direct impact for the glasshouse.  Let’s face it, that wouldn’t have been so fun.

Where was my sister during all this?  Inside watching television ignoring us.  There was no way Nicole would have thought chasing a tire, set in motion by oneself, as enjoyment, not in the slightest.  Ryan and me on the other hand, thought it was the most entertaining activity to date!  Seriously, I can’t even remember how many passes we made, but I do now they reached the double digits.  We were exhausted, yet it was a good time.  I’m sure I slept well that night.

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Over looking the front yard into Uncle Walter’s field & house. The greenhouse was on the other side of the pine trees.

Many, many years later when I traveled to South Korea (The Republic of South Korea) in 2002, I stayed at this “traditional hotel”, that’s what I called it since we had to sleep on the wood floor, under mosquito tents, in the middle of no where.  I guess it was kind of like a bed and breakfast, since the family lived there and fed us our meals.  We only stayed one night, and that evening we hung out in the center court.

It was a dirt area in the center of the buildings separating the sides of rooms.  The one side housed the guys and the other side the ladies and the dining room and kitchen areas.  The center court area was not roof covered and I believe both sides of the building were independent from each other if my memory serves me correct.  It was really a very nice but very rugged establishment, a traditional house without showers and other modern enmities.

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Korean boy showing us how to play the game with the wheel & stick. 7/2002

That evening the little boy of the house came out to entertain us, or check out the foreigners in his house, or both.  He had this wheel without the center.  He used a stick to push it around and control the round object.  Instantly, when I saw this activity, I was reminded of Ryan and me with our own wheel game.  No joke, it was about the same size and as I watched the child use a stick to push his wheel.  Instantly what came to mind is ‘We never considered that!’.  For a moment, the worlds intertwined, my youth and my adulthood, North America and South Korea, and I realized our game of chase the tire was not so uncommon.  Pretty cool!

It was a random weekday, after school in the spring air.  It only took one tire, one hillside and two hyperactive kids that made our own semi-harmless fun.  An activity I was reminded of years later, half a world away and still to this day!  Did I mention it was great exercise too, which was never even a thought at the time?

I have many more silly stories much like this one.  As they come to mind, I’ll write a blog entry about each.

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

Bringing Home the Bacon…Literally

Onions and bacon cooking up just makes your kitchen smell so good. In fact, one day I’m going to come up with a room deodorizer that smells like bacon and onions. It’s a fabulous smell.  ~Paula Deen

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Pappy & Kyle hanging together on the highlift at Gutchess Hardwoods c. 2005

Two weeks ago dad asked me, “Are you going to be around on Saturday?”  Meaning, “Heather I need your help so be at the house.”  No biggie, but very curious I ask, “Why what did you need?”  To be answered with dad’s newest project, “I think I’m going to buy a pig and butcher it.”

Really? O yes!  Dad left early last Saturday morning with a friend of his, Chris, to go to an auction in Maryland to purchase a live pig.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us when the day finally came because dad’s been talking about getting a pig for quite some time now.

Before he left, dad told me and Kyle we weren’t aloud to pet the pig or name it.  I guess someone was thinking ahead.

This may sound odd to some, however dad used to butcher pigs all the time, either at my Uncle Ray’s, Uncle Irvin’s, or at my pap’s house, the Piper brothers.  Dad raised a pig or two in his day, not to sell or breed, but simply for butchering.  I kinda sort of remember dad having pigs, but I was really little.

Why you may ask, would someone take the time to build a pig pen, raise the creature and then invest all the time in butchering it, as opposed to buying the bacon in the store, nice and clean ready to go?  Simply because it’s healthier.  When you raise an animal you can control how it’s raised and what it’s fed, meaning no hormones or other synthetic substances.  Unless you know those key facts, then buying it off of a reputable farmer and butchering it oneself, allows you to control the preparation factors.  Factors like the preservatives added to the food for shelf life, all the extra salt and dyes, that sort of thing.  If you do it yourself, you don’t have any of those foreign contaminants in your meat (unless you add them), plus it’s cheaper.  It’s a lot of work, but I will admit, if the animal is properly butchered and utilized, one well worth it.

Dad got back late Saturday night with an extra body.  Yes you guessed it, a pig!  Was it alive?  You bet it was!  The keyword here is, WAS.  Dad’s friend had this “house” (it was actually a really nice super sized dog house) on the back of his trailer.  Lucky for us the structure had windows so we could peek in to see our three hundred pound walking bacon.  Naturally, since it was late, we couldn’t drop it, meaning kill the pig, until the next day.

Sunday morning came and dad shot the pig.  I know, on a Sunday morning, but we couldn’t keep the pig in such a confined space any longer.  That would have been cruel.  He put a .22 bullet in it’s head for a quick death.  He also sliced the throat to start the process.

On a side note, evidently there is a special way to shoot a pig.  Dad said the pig’s brain sits lower, so you have to shoot straight back from between the eyes.  Unlike a cow, whereas you draw an “X” from its ears to its eyes to get your bulls eye.  Good to know.

Lard-Press-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad’s antique (lard) press, which can be used for anything to press. I helped render the fat from our butchered pig…messy!

Many may not know this, but the nerves are still working after an animal has been killed.  Same with chickens and turkeys, which I’ve seen first hand.  Even after you cut off their heads, they can still run around.  Apparently, the pig was laying on its side in the “house” and kicking.  Kyle tracked me down in the kitchen to tell me the pig was running.  What?  For a brief moment I thought the pig got out and was literally running around.  All I could picture was this three hundred pound beast making a mad dash for the woods, and I would have to chase it down and kill it.  Not in my agenda for the day.

Eventually, I went outside to help Kyle with the butchering process, meaning the emotional strain on someone not used to witnessing such an activity.  He was fine, he just needed to get acclimated.  It’s a shock for someone who’s not around this type of living, meaning Kyle doesn’t’ know what to expect or how to handle it.  Me?  I’m good, I’ve been around dad for too long.

I helped dad move the massive beast into the garage.  No easy task!  Once inside, dad hoisted the pig up with his engine lift he uses for skinning deer.  He said it will hold up to a thousand pounds, but I was very skeptical.  It did, at least a three hundred pound pig!

Kyle’s initial job before he had to get ready for church (he was serving 10:30 mass at Sacred Heart Church) was to clean up the blood on the trailer, so we could return it in good shape.  Kyle asked, “Why didn’t pap walk the pig out before he shot it?”  Mom chimed in with one hilarious statement, “Did you ever try walking a three hundred pound pig that was scared?  You just don’t do it!”  Then the jokes started to surface about wrestling it to the ground and jumping on its back for a ride and so on and so forth.

Thinking this was not going to be a big deal, I was quickly informed differently.  Skinning a pig is nothing like skinning a deer, which dad and I have down to a science.  A pig is a bit of a challenge.  Actually, it’s all the fat and the heavy hide that make it so difficult.  Perhaps because I’ve never done it before, but as dad scolded Kyle and me by saying, “What are you guys doing?  You’re hacking it all up!”  Yes our side of the pig didn’t look nearly as nice as dad’s.  Our half was all choppy while dad’s has was fairly smooth, what it should look like.  Either way no harm to the meat, it takes practice.

Kyle was on the edge of his seat from the time the pig arrived till it was being cut up.  It was an exciting couple of days and two weekends, I mean it’s not like many of his friends ever got to say they butchered a pig before.  But it’s good experience and good knowledge for the kid.  As dad says, “You never know when you can’t afford to shop in a grocery store or government regulations stops the stores from selling meat, but if you know what you’re doing, you can always butcher your own.”  I agree, life is very unpredictable and possessing invaluable survival knowledge can mean life or death, or worse, a life without bacon!

On another side note, while we were butchering up the pig on Saturday into bacon, pork chops, roast, ribs and sausage, dad kept calling Kyle Putin, as in Vladimir Putin, as in the egotistical president of Russia (since 2012).  Not because Kyle is full of himself nor because Kyle is questionable in his moral actions.  Nope, because he was running around without his shirt on!  I was dying!  We watch Fox News and they love picking on Putin (rightfully so) especially when he struts around in front of the cameras bare chested on his horse.  Not a good look for a president but a great joke for dad toward Kyle.

These are the little piggies dad’s friend Chris purchased to raise as pets.  They were swilling and Kyle wouldn’t hold them.

This is the pig we butchered and is wrapped up in our freezer.

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

Happy Birthday Aunt Nikki! The Big 40!

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

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

Nicole’s senior picture. Greater Latrobe Class of 1992

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday Nicole!

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

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

Lessons From a Cell Phone

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.  ~Steven Spielberg

Aunt-Heather-Piper-as-Iron-Man-at-Toys-R-Us-2014

Me as Iron Man in Toys R Us. Kyle snapped my picture on my phone. We sent it to Aunt Nikki! 1/11/2014

Kyle’s had a cell phone for a little over a year now.  It’s nothing fancy, no smartphone but it works to send and receive calls and text messages, perfect for a twelve-year old.

However, Kyle loves my iPhone!  He has for as long as I’ve had one, and he’s been itching to get his hands on one too.  Right before I got the iPhone 5, Kyle looked at me with wide eyes suggesting that I should give him my old one and I get the new one.  Great thinking kid, but NO!  At the time Kyle was eleven.  To be honest I thought about it, putting the extra cost aside, which was a big factor considering I knew how much data time Kyle would use; and putting aside the security I would need to put on the phone similar to his iPod to try and remove inappropriate content from reaching Kyle’s eyes and permanently taking up space in his mind; I was stopped at the idea of Kyle getting everything he wants and having too much.

Yes, the later really weighed in on me.  It’s not that I don’t want Kyle to have everything and every opportunity in the world, because I do and yet I don’t.  I want him to appreciate what he has and work toward better, like life should be.  It shouldn’t just be a hand out, especially for no reason.  That’s a huge lesson in itself that even adults have a hard time accepting.  I want Kyle to be better, to be a better person.

Aunt Heather Piper as Iron Man Kyle texting Aunt Nikki 1-11-2014

Kyle texting his Aunt Nikki 1/11/2014

At the time of my phone purchase, it wasn’t his birthday or a special occasion and Kyle hasn’t impressed me with all his volunteer work (meaning none, except being an alter boy at church) nor has he gone out of his way to be an exceptional child.  Not that he’s a bad kid, absolutely not!  He’s a great kid, but again I want him to learn these lessons now to be an even better adult.  Nope, all reasons for my decision not to give him his own iPhone.

Granted, I know other children, probably younger than Kyle have smartphones.  Great!  That’s none of my business nor do I care.  I’m sure the parents have their reasons, like I have mine and I’m happy for the child.  However, in my particular case, it was not going to happen, at least not yet.  Did Kyle did mention about his friends who have iPhones?   You bet that stinker did, and he tried to sell me on the idea that he already knows how to work one.  Yes, it’s true not the reasoning, as I tried to explain.  Honestly, that single comment about his friends brought a smile to my face, not because I’m a cynical person, which sometimes I am, but because it helped and continues to help me teach Kyle.

What are these lessons?  Simply humility, Kyle doesn’t have to have the best and flaunt it (not that he really does); patience, good things come to those who wait; appreciation, so he never takes what he has for granted, which he does like most kids, so I feel this is a much needed lesson; adaptability, learning to use what you have at ground level, if you can do that you can work with anything; minimalism, I didn’t want to clutter Kyle with too many electronics, even though it’s too late.  The list goes on and on.  I want to give Kyle an opportunity to live life and enjoy it for what it is, not through the eyes of electronics.  I don’t want him to be the person who is only focusing on his or her smartphone that they don’t pay attention to their children crying for their attention or the world around them and truly missing life, or the man who literally walked into a bear while texting.  (Yes it was caught on camera somewhere.  A bear was running a muck in a neighborhood and they needed to tranquilize it and the guy was so focused on texting he ran into it then quickly ran away.)

Kyle-Youth-Group-Sacred-Heart-Aunt-Heather-Piper-9-2013

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group 1st meeting of the year. They participated in a Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt Meet & Greet. 9/2013

Please don’t mistake my opinions and dissertation for a hatred toward mobile devices, because it’s not.  I love my phone and I use it probably too often.  I also love being able to call or text Kyle and reach him whenever, except when it’s not charged or when he’s playing video games.  However, if he wants something he will call and call and call and text and text and text till he reaches me.

Then, there are those cases when the phone gets Kyle in trouble.  Yes, this one is really not Kyle’s fault.  This one comes straight from Kyle’s mold, his Aunt Nikki.  A few weeks ago, trusty old Aunt Nikki decided to call Kyle in the middle of the day, thinking he was home from school due to the snow.  Guess what?  He wasn’t, he was sitting in the middle of class when his phone rang.  I asked Kyle why he didn’t have it turned off and he confessed, “I thought I did, I must have sat on it and it turned on.”  I totally believe the kid because nothings worse to him than getting in serious trouble with authority figures, especially being sent to the principal’s office.  He did the dreaded walk down the hall into the unknown trouble, giving that kid the worst anxiety.  Kyle said, “We were just about done with class when the phone rang and I knew it was Aunt Nikki!”

Kyle's youth group meeting text Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s youth group meeting text message to me.. cracked me up! 2014

What did Aunt Nikki have to say?  She laughed and called me to tell me she got Kyle in trouble.  It’s true, I did giggle along with her, knowing how devastated Kyle was over the situation and knowing he doesn’t like to break rules and get in trouble, but it was all in good fun.  Nicole said the next time this happens, Kyle gets detention.  Boy that will just kill him!  Sorry bud, but that was funny!

Now for a positive note regarding Kyle’s cell phone.  Keep in mind most of my pictures and video of me and Kyle, as well as records of his daily life are streamed from my phone keeping friends and family updated on the package.  Good thing!  There are also so many, many more great reasons for Kyle to have a cell phone, especially in his particular case.  I won’t get into all that but I would like to share a funny story that had me cracking up!

About a month ago, Kyle had a youth group meeting at Sacred Heart School for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group.  They asked the parents and guardians to be there because they were discussing major events that involved all parties.  As they were throwing around ideas and discussing them, they were asking for volunteers to spearhead specific items.  I did volunteer to for a specific job.  After it was discussed and agreed upon, I heard my phone beep with a text message.  Knowing it could be anyone for Thrill of the Hunt, my clients or my family, I looked down to see one Mr. Kyle Piper’s name across the screen.  Sitting across the room from me was that little critter smiling while holding onto his phone.  The text read, “That means u.”

While the meeting was going on, I busted out laughing and looked right at Kyle.  He gave me an ornery look with this cute little mischievous grin.  I was smiling from ear to ear, now not paying attention to the meeting and getting sucked into his silliness.  Naturally, I began to text him back.  It was seriously so much fun and worth the distraction.  It was our own inside joke that humored both of us equally.  Love that little man!  Sometimes his communication skills scare me and sometimes he has the best personality and is so quick witted.

I guess with everything there is good and bad, all depending on the user and the intent.  Everything in moderation, taking away extremes helps to create a full and balanced life.  Like it or not, cells phones are here to stay.

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

Riding In a Car Gives Me a Headache

I’ve helped people get rid of headaches by placing my hand on their forehead, and backaches by placing my hand on their back. It’s a powerful example of love that really works.  ~Shelley Long

Young-Kyle-in-glasses-c.-2009-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle sporting his new glasses. Love his smile! c. 2009

For the last several years, Kyle has complained about getting headaches.  They only seem to occur during car rides.  It’s always just as we head out, he’ll say, “My head hurts” or “I have a headache.”   Last week Kyle said, “I can’t wait till it’s nice out and I can put down my window when I get a headache, it makes me feel better”.

What’s really funny about that statement is I can’t ride with just one window down, I have to have a least two or more to cut the pressure in the car or that kills me!

Yesterday, heading to church for our Ashes (Ash Wednesday, signifying the first day of Lent in preparation for Easter.) Kyle made the same remark, “My head hurts.”  My response?  “Really buddy?  We just left.”  Literally, I just pulled out of the driveway and couldn’t have been more than two hundred yards before he spoke up.

What is going on with this kid?  I would be on red alert if this ailment was continuous, inside and outside the car, but it’s not, it’s only when riding in the car, at least that’s what he tells me.

It seemed to start years ago when Kyle first got his glasses.  Granted, he was pretty young when he started wearing them so I can’t really speak of the time of pre-glasses.  It’s not like the little tyke was able to say, “Excuse me Aunt Heather my head hurts.”, while safely strapped into a car seat sucking on a Binky.  However, I don’t think he got headaches.

Originally, Kyle was only suppose to wear his glasses when watching television or reading, but then he started wearing them all the time.  Thinking the cause of his head thumping was the magnified pieces of glass suspended by wire frames resting directly in front of his eyes, I use to tell Kyle to take his glasses off when riding in the car.  It seemed to help until he developed a common childhood obsession for video games.  He would play his Nintendo DS and later his iPod, both glued to his fingers.  Yes, he would play video games till his head was pounding!  He learned quickly to minimize his online activity while riding along.  Now he waits for a red light before fighting off stick people.

Kyle-on-Merry-Go-Round-Idlewild-Park-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle riding the Merry-Go-Round at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pa. Rides don’t seem to make Kyle sick but cars do. 2012

As this issue continues, my thoughts try to factor in all variables and take into account my car.  Either the way it rides or sits, that sort of thing.  I even considered the very slim chance, it was the driver of the vehicle, a.k.a. me.  I asked Kyle once if his headaches only happened in my car.  His response, “No every time I get in a car.”  I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because I don’t think it’s EVERY time, just often.  However, yesterday I asked him the same question.  His response, “Yes, I think it’s just your car Aunt Heather.”  Wonder if that’s true or not or if he was teasing me?  Again, that’s hard to tell since I am usually the one picking him up and driving him around, not really a fair assessment.

Could it be me, personally, triggering his headaches?  If that was true then one would think he would always have them, since I’m with him so much.

Over the years I’ve blamed this problem on lack of water, eating too much junk food and playing too many hours of video games, but I have nothing to base my hypothesis on.  Kyle claims these are not the reasoning, but again he has no proof for his argument either.

My biggest fear is it could be something more serious showing itself before it really does.  Between my friend Markelle and her aneurysm bursting More In Her Head Than An Aneurysm and loosing several cousins to brain tumors, I can’t help but think of the worst.  Granted, I don’t dwell on those thoughts but they do come to mind from time to time. (no pun intended)

Honestly, as a kid and into my adulthood, I very rarely got or get headaches.  When I do, believe it or not it’s simply because my neck needs adjusted.  The more I go to the gym, the less that happens, the less I get headaches.  This crazy cycle only really started later on in life when I got a job sitting at a desk, typing into a computer.  Prior to that, my headaches were far and few between.  Then, Bam!  Neckache and headache!  Although I’m not immune to migraines either, having only a handful in my entire life, thankfully I don’t have a chronic issue like some unfortunate souls.

I’m going to throw this truly outlandish idea out there; an observation I’ve made over the years and I do believe it, although I absolutely have no proof; but when I get headaches, they’re usually during hurricane season.  Yes!  When the air pressure takes giant leaps, especially right before a storm, my head will ache terribly.  But once the storm passes, suddenly my pain is relieved.  Sounds crazy I know, but I’m telling you, I can’t deny it!  It also seems to get worse the older I get.  Can I be that sensitive to air pressure?

Markelle-VA-trip-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My good friend Markelle showing off her picture perfect face on one of our trips… Virginia.

So what is the problem with Kyle and his throbbing head?  I guess the better question is how do I fix it for the poor kid?  He’s been on many, many road trips with us, especially his Aunt Nikki.  Sometimes riding in the car for long distances can effect me as well, but Kyle’s problem seems to stem from quick rides back and forth to the movies, the store, or to piano lessons, not major distances.  I would like to alleviate his pain or at the very least pinpoint the problem to address it, if possible.

The fresh air seems to help Kyle.  Could it just be a case of plain old car sickness?  He usually doesn’t get nauseous, but that has accompanied the headaches on occasion.  And like me, we can’t read in the car or we do get a little vertigo.  I know my Uncle Walter used to get horrible car sickness, but no one in my immediate family does, not even Ryan did.  Kyle can also ride any ride at an amusement park without issue.  So what is it about a car?

On a side note, the overly cautiousness in me wants to get a CAT scan for my nephew’s melon, just to rule out anything serious.  Not reasonable I know, but always a thought in my head…

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Travels 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

More In Her Head Than an Aneurysm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brain Aneurism news 1-17-14 Aunt Heather Piper

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I Need To Build My House! – Video Games

This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’  ~Jack White

Kyle-Olivia-Grant-Twin-Lakes-8-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle with his cousins, Olivia & Grant at Twin Lakes for a picture day. Kids should get back to nature & hang out with each other more often  8/2012

I know I’ve talked about video games, Gamers Start Small & Grow & Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man, and the issues and arguments that seem to accompany them, No Video Games? Running?  Why Do I Have To?.  So it should be no surprise to me that Kyle’s video games are not falling by the wayside, in fact they are advancing at a rapid rate!

Again, I’d like to reiterate, I have no qualms with video games, I do like to play a game or two, but I do have a problem with video games consuming your entire life.  If I’d let Kyle, he would play his Minecraft or whatever game he’s on, ALL day.  No joke!  Not taking a break, not getting tired, not thinking about anything else, not even getting distracted.  Maybe I should be giving him kudos for his dedication to this discipline.

However, I can’t get past the detox I have to go through every time I ask Kyle to wrap it up to do something else, or when he has to stop because he exceeded his video playing limit.  (Yes for the record I do try and monitor and reasonably limit how much time he plays video games on his computer – the only thing he uses it for.  No schoolwork!)

Yes the detox.  Telling Kyle he has “five minutes left” or “wrap it up buddy, your done for the day” or “take an hour break” is almost devastating to his ears.  He’ll give me a look, like I’m talking Chinese, as if he doesn’t comprehend what I said to him.  Or even better, he instantly starts to whine and grumble like a tiny child.  But the absolute best, the one action that really gets my goat, is when he doesn’t even lift his eyes to look at me when I’m talking to him, and he continues playing as if I’m not even in the room, then to appease me with an “Ok”.  I know he may think my instructions are negotiable, but I have news for him.  Nope!  That laptop is closed, permanently.

Sometimes it feels like I’m peeling that electronic device from his fingers.  I imagine this is what it would be like to pull drugs from a user.  He really does get addicted to these games, like many other kids his age.

Kyle-with-is-pap-and-rifle-Aunt-Heather-Piper-7-2011

Kyle sitting with his pappy sporting a rifle at my cousins, Connie & Skip’s house. Uncle Ray (RIP) is in the background. 7/2011

Fortunately, Kyle knows when I mean business, I mean it and there’s no messing around.  Granted, I do give him his time to play and allow him the chance to save whatever he’s on before shutting down his operation, but the minute the attitude comes and the arguments surface, I loose it. Especially when I hear, “Why do I have to?” and “Why can’t I play a little longer.” and my favorite, “Why do I have to take a break?”; that’s when the computer is completely taken away, to not make its appearance until the following day.

This week while walking with a friend of mine, Holsters, the very same topic came up.  Her nephew has the same demeanor, and he’s two or three years younger than Kyle.  She’s beside herself.  Plus she doesn’t have the same authority I do, to enforce what’s right.  These kids just want to be slugs and sit around with their head in fantasy land, not facing reality.  Young people are not going to be able to cope with real life if they don’t start taking baby steps toward it now. (I’m not even going to get into the diet that accompanies the hour long stents of video game madness.)  No wonder they are whiny and miserable and tired all the time.

Seriously, I wish more parents would stop using video games as a babysitter and get involved with their kids.  And I’m not talking about joining them on the controls, although in moderation, that could be a good bonding experience.  I’m talking about building a cabin or a chicken shed, or dig up the earth looking for dinosaurs.  I know I’m going to extremes and being silly, kinda, but there is so much to do!  Do it.  And get creative, it will entertain all parties.

Kyle-reading-Hunger-Games-at-IHOP-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

At least reading is another one of Kyle’s addictions, besides the video games. He does love to read, even at the IHOP – Hunger Games! c. 2012

Video games are a bit of an enigma with me.  Last weekend Kyle made a comment that he had a lot to do.  “Really what do you have planned for today?”  Silly me, he had to finish building his house in Minecraft.  What?  I said, “Kyle building an imaginary house in a video game is not considered work, nor should it ever be a priority.”  He gave me the “whatever” grin.  I believe he even rolled his eyes at me!

This was my time to sound like an old timer.  I told Kyle, “Now if you go out and build an actual house, that someone could live in or a play area, now that’s considered work and worth your time.  I would also help you build it, but not a digital house that doesn’t benefit anyone.”  His response?  “My people need somewhere to live!”  Yikes!   I should have stopped there, but I didn’t and I began to explain how we built a fort (yes we took small trees chopped them down and build ourselves a fort to play in, in the woods) and a cabin.  Seriously, we did this when we were in elementary school.   I didn’t mention that we were unusual kids for our day, I didn’t find it a need when I was trying to make my case.

Not taking the hint Kyle didn’t seem to care or really comprehend what I was saying, I continued, “Look, your dad and Casey and Joel (cousins) build the party shack just to hang out in when they were in high school and not to play video games.”  Again, I didn’t get into what they did up there, nor do I even want to know, but that’s not relevant to my argument.

Kyle knows the cabin very well.  We sometimes hunt around there and when Kyle was younger, Casey would come home and take him for a walk up to the permanent structure, remembering Ryan,  The cabin is equipped with a wood burner, windows, a porch and a shingled roof.  Definitely no dive.

Quick story.  I don’t know how many times this happened, but I do know it was at least once.  The guys, Ryan, Casey and Joel, plus whoever else was hanging around, called to have a pizza delivered.  They actually gave directions to the edge of the woods and told the driver to wait there, someone will meet them.  To me that’s the funniest story.  First of all this took place late at night and secondly, no delivery driver would even do that today for fear of being jumped.  Lastly, who just orders a pizza to have it delivered to the woods?  I would have walked to my parents house to wait for it and then carried the pie back up.  Not those guys.  They got hungry and ordered a pizza to be delivered in the woods with no real address.  Too funny!

Now back to my video game rant.  On Monday Kyle text me asking for an apple pie recipe we recently made.  I had mom type it up and email it to him.  I text him back letting him know it was on the way to check his emails, no response.  Again, I reached out to him via text message to ensure he did indeed receive the requested information, no response.   I tried calling, to only be put into his voicemail.  Fine, it must not be that important, even though I believed he needed it for school.

Kyle & my text he needs work on his spelling- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle texted me for an apple pie recipe, obviously he needs work on his spelling

The next day I got a text saying “Got it”.  Ok a day late but whatever.  Then yesterday, just after he got home from school, he CALLED  me, not texted or emailed me but he picked up the phone to make the call, asking for his password on Minecraft.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from Kyle, no matter the reason, but seriously?  Evidently, he updated the game and it logged him out, therefore his password was not saved.  Crisis! He wanted me to jump up immediately to access our password list to give him his login information.  Fat chance kid!  I told him I’ll get to it later, after asking if he had homework and if he practiced his piano.

I guess it doesn’t feel so good to be blown off, because the next thing I knew, I saw an email come through resetting the password. (Yes I have all his emails copied to me so I can monitor his activity.)  That kid is something else!  Instead of waiting for the info, he had to have it right then and there, immediately.  So he reset the password to play his game.  Funny thing, he never gave me the updated password.  I see another issue in the near future.

Not to be all negative about Kyle and those stupid video games because he sometimes does pretty good with playing in moderation, sort of.  Granted, I do need to tell him to log off when the hours have been racking up.  By no means does he usually volunteer to be released from the video game addition, but once he’s off, he’ll play other board games, go to the movies, sled ride, cook, or my favorites, play the piano and reading.   He just needs to be guided toward other activities. I’ve noticed he really doesn’t pay attention to the hours spent on the computer.  I suppose that’s my job.  I’m very thankful he does have other interests, even though they tend to take a backseat to the video games.

I’m hoping this is still a faze, but maybe I’m the one living in the imaginary world.

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

Warmth of Winter

Tell me a story of deep delight.  ~Robert Penn Warren

Seven-on-a-hike-in-snow-c.-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Seven making his way through the snow on a hike. c. 2012

Being a Pennsylvanian gal, I do appreciate all weather and I love cycling through the four seasons.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine skipping a winter, summer, fall or spring.  It’s true I do have my favorites, winter and fall being the top two but again, I love all seasons.

I also like all weather.  Whether it be rainy days or brisk chilly evenings, just like the seasons, there’s always something to do in any weather condition.  Even a snow storm?

You bet!  The snow may have continuously fell all weekend, and it wasn’t what I would call a snow storm, but it was nice and cozy.  In anticipation of the horrible road conditions, Nicole came home on Friday night to visit.  We were all going to go out to eat for my dad’s birthday, belated.  The only place we ended up going was to church, for not wanting to chance it on the snow covered roads.

Sled-Riding-Field-Aunt-Heather-Piper-1-4-14

One place we sled ride, my cousin’s field. This is the view. 2014

Was I upset or disappointed?  Nope!  Not in the slightest.  There’s nothing like warming up in front of the fireplace when the snow is falling outside, drinking hot chocolate, and getting cozy with the family and dogs alike.  Sure I would have also enjoyed being on the slopes getting a few miles on my snowboard, but I wouldn’t change a thing all weekend.

A few board games made the list of activities, Kyle and I played a mean game of Battleship and Nicole and Kyle played Kyle’s beloved Summoner Wars.  (Not really my cup of tea, but I’m sure one day I’ll have to learn to play.)  We watched movies, took naps and Kyle played his video games for probably too long, but we all did our own thing, and loved it.  I even took the time to work on some freelance work and write.  Did we take advantage of the snow?

You bet we did!  We even went sled riding at night!  I haven’t done that since I was a kid.  For some reason shooting down over the hill in the darkness, with only my parents spotlights on the side of the house to light our way is exciting.  Nicole even joined us and rode down the hill a few times.  That made Kyle’s night!   He really wanted to sled ride with his Aunt Nikki and he got his wish.  Me on the other hand, Kyle knows I love playing in the snow so it wasn’t a big deal but expected.

Scooby-hiking-in-snow-c.-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Scooby checking out the snow on a hike … wonder what he spots? c. 2012

We let gravity drag us through all the powered to the bottom of the hill and then we fought that same gravity to walk back up.  We did this so many times I lost track, at least I did.  The dogs got their exercise too.  For they chased me down the hill and ran back to the top to start again or find another poor soul to chase.  My sister’s dog Avery (a.k.a. Acorn) had a headlight on her collar that Nicole turned on.  For some reason that really cracked us up.  We played outside until the cold soaked us through and we agreed it was time to warm up.

Nicole and Avery left mid-day Sunday so they could take their time, in case the roads were still bad.  All-in-all it was a nice relaxing, lazy-day weekend.  I don’t care what anyone says, there’s nothing like being warm and toasty in the cold of winter.  Getting out and playing in the fun that winter brings is nice too!

posted by auntheather in Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

My Privacy

The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort – the opening, terror. Conversely, the closing of a door can be a sad and final thing – the opening a wonderfully joyous moment.  ~Andy Rooney

 

Kyle-Sleeping-2002 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle sleeping at my cousin Chad’s wedding reception. I invaded his privacy to snap the most precious picture 2002

Some have asked me, “You don’t mind everyone in the world reading your life?”  Or something along those lines.  Here’s the deal, I don’t because I choose what I want people to hear and know.  Yes, I do give quite a few stories about me and my family, and I do back them up usually with details, but the truth is, those aren’t always the entire stories.  My blog is not a minute by minute account of my life or my family’s.  We are not the Kardashian’s being followed around with the camera, recording every waking moment.  Believe it or not, I don’t have the paparazzi following me around, snapping pictures and reporting on my whereabouts.

My stories are simple, what I would think many experience.  Also my narratives are a way for me to record Kyle’s life and our interaction with him.  I mean that’s why I started the blog in the first place.  I wanted to keep records of learning lessons, Kyle’s and mine, and I wanted to keep the family in the loop with respect to our little package.  It’s true, I could have made my blog private and only allow certain individuals to be included, but I always felt, if there was a learning lesson for another aunt, uncle, cousin, friend or parent that I could share in a story, then it was worth it.  Or perhaps someone has good advice for me, helping me with raising Kyle.  I’ll take it!

Over the few short years I’ve been blogging (which is also very therapeutic to me), many have reached out to me with words of encouragement, advice and interest.  Mostly privately, but that’s fine.  It’s about helping families, not my Facebook popularity.

On a side note, I bet there are many out there, who divulge more information about their life through simple Facebook posts, compared to my blog entries.  That’s just speculation of course.

My dad hates my blog.  Granted the man has never been on a computer, never even touched one and never plans on it, yet my mom keeps him abreast of my verbiage.  However, unless someone was right beside me living in the moment that I later report on, no one would ever know what information I chose to disclose, and what I chose to omit.  Yes it’s true, I don’t add every little detail, kind of funny since I do add a lot of trivia and finer points when outlining specific stories.  Believe it or not, some people I choose to omit for one reason or another.  Some I chose not to name directly, for their privacy.  And sometimes, some details are not that important.

Truly, I am a pretty private person.  So, do I mind telling the world my life story?  Nope, because it’s not my life’s complete story.  There is so much more to me and my family than I tell.  Makes me sound kind of mysterious!  Only those small handful of individuals who really truly know me, will know everything, sometimes.

On another side note, I’ve always said it and I do believe it, my family is a reality show.  Seriously, if they were ever followed around for the world to see, no one would believe how simple and rugged the Piper’s can be, mostly simple.  My family is a really rare breed!

Besides, I would rather be in control of telling the tales that I want told, rather than the government spying on my emails, phone conversations and text messages.  Not that I believe I was ever the topic of conversation within homeland security, but since recent events of privacy have surfaced, one can never tell.  Do I have anything to hide?  Nope, not that I’m aware of, but it still boils down to respect.  I do believe privacy is a right of mine, unless of course I would ruin that trust and take away the rights of others.  Then, I believe I should have no rights a.k.a. criminals and those suspected of terrorism.  Sorry but if it acts like a duck, quakes like a duck and looks like a duck, then chances are…

I know that seems pretty straightforward, and the government is trying to protect us from terrorists, but I also believe they have proven to not be trustworthy in their actions and decisions.  Look at the IRS and how they conducted business, targeting conservative groups and then abusing their power and the tax payers money.  When it comes down to it, we are all humans and humans have free will, to choose to do good or bad.  There needs to be some sort of checks and balances to keep everyone on the straight and narrow.  Again, easier said than done.  Or is it?

I will continue to blog and tell the stories that I feel are fun and necessary for another child’s growth, yet I will protect my privacy and the true privacy of Kyle.  I believe they can be done simultaneously, just use common sense.

 

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience 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 OscarEveryone 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

Gamers Start Small & Grow

There are people who are very dismissive of games and gamers.  ~Jane McGonigal

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Me & Holsters at the Latrobe Turkey Trot Race. It was a cold one! 11/28/13

Kyle loves his video games, a fact I’ve reluctantly accepted for a few years now.  As the days pass by, Kyle seems to exude more passion for these video games.  His choices in digital entertainment are also more advanced and are taken to the next level with each new video interest.  I mean, unbeknownst to mom, Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man she paved the way for our little gamer.

My sister is also a video game fan, as are many of her friends.  She plays the Wii and Sony Playstation (PS3).  I don’t believe she has an XBox 360, but for all I know, she could.  I really don’t get into gaming, nor do I have an interest except for the dance games.  Yes I LOVE dancing around to the video games.  My favorite?  The Michael Jackson Experience!  Love his music, love his dance moves.  That’s as far as my gaming interests are peeked.

When I was younger, I loved Atari.  My game of choice?  Frogger!  Even as much as I loved that game, I still was not a typical gamer, investing large stents of time into the virtual world.  Not then, and most certainly not now.

This past New Year’s, I told Kyle I’d play him a few video games, you know moving me out of my comfort zone and sacrificing a small amount of time for Kyle’s happiness.  I tried to get excited and I wish I really wanted to play, but alas, I could not.  One would think the shooting games would keep my interest, but nope.  Not even my beloved childhood friend, Frogger could build my yearning to play.  There was absolutely no desire.  Truly, I just wanted to watch a movie, read a book, write or do anything else.  I kind of felt bad for Kyle, for all he wanted to do was play video games, and not just play, but play with me.  That’s his favorite way of spending time with us.  We did agree on a few exciting games of Trouble and the good old stable, Chess, but I retired the video games after a a few rounds.  Kyle is lucky to have his Aunt Nikki, for she is the only one who shares video game enthusiasm.

Yes, Nicole can sit there for hours and play video games, and she enjoys it!  Sometimes Kyle and Nicole play each other online.  Kyle does get a kick out the time spent online with his Aunt Nikki, and will literally plan evenings with my sister.  Granted, she is a busy person, so those evenings are far and few between, as least in Kyle’s eyes, but she does try to hang in the virtual world with our little man as much as possible.  In fact, this past Sunday night, Kyle was all excited to play my sister online.  He called her all weekend, nudging her along, making sure she downloaded said game, I believe it was Mine Craft, and re-confirmed his reservation to ensure there was no miscommunication.  Too funny!  While I was sick all weekend, he was planning for his big night online with his Aunt Nikki.

Kyle-playing-video-games-in-car-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2012

This is what Kyle does while in the car… playing video games…. & he wonders why he gets headaches in the car? 2012

A couple of weekends ago, Kyle and I stopped in to Best Buy to purchase a camera for my company Thrill of the Hunt.  As I was speaking to the sales associate,  Kyle mentioned he was going to peruse headsets, whatever that meant.  He came back with this simple headset containing a movable microphone.  Being elated over his find, Kyle went off on how much he loved it and needed the piece of equipment, at least that’s what he told me.  Great! (I was happy for him, but not really that excited.)

Next thing I knew, Kyle pulled out his own chain wallet, courtesy of his pappy (my dad) and proceeded to get in line to pay for his purchase.  My little man is growing up too fast!  At the same time, he took my phone and proceeded to call my sister letting her know he was now in business.  I looked at the young sales associate assisting me and said, “Do you play video games?”  Without hesitating and giving me a confused look, he replied with confidence, “O yes!”  Great, I’m the minority.  Of course I was in Best Buy, the hub for computer geeks.  I should ask that question when I’m in Barnes and Noble and see what kind of answer I get.

What did he need the headset for?  Apparently, Kyle has graduated from simple playing video games on his laptop and iPod, to playing online with his friends.  On a side note, he is not permitted to play with anyone he doesn’t personally know that either goes to school with him or is a family friend.  Kyle doesn’t really understand my reasoning, but he respects my instructions, at least for now.

This past Friday, Kyle arranged to play Mind Craft with this friends.  What?  He scheduled a time to play video games online?  Yep!  I’m glad Kyle has an interest, and I’m very happy he has friends to share that passion, but I can honestly say, I don’t get it.  I would be happier if he was socializing with his friends at someone’s house and happen to be playing video games, but he’s enjoying life and I’m happy for him.  And the headset?  It’s to talk to his friends while they play.  I guess I should be happy for that line of communication too.

Kyle gets into reading as much as he does his video games.  That’s our shared interest, books, as well as snowboarding!  Maybe the gaming is just a minor difference in interest.  I wish he would get into running or hiking like I do, but I can’t have everything.  After all, he’s not me, he’s his own person.  And fine young man he is!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Happy Birthday Dad! – 63 Years

It is lovely, when I forget all birthdays, including my own, to find that somebody remembers me.  ~Ellen Glasgow

Happy Birthday dad!  The old man has made it another year.

Dad’s birthday almost slipped past me this year.  The entire family except for Nicole and Kyle has been laid up in bed sick.  I mean sick, with strep throat, sinus infections, coughing, migraines, the whole nine yards.  So the days leading up to today, were a bit of a medicine induced coma dream.  Thankfully, we are all on the road to recovery, just in time for the weekend!

Every year we get out of my parents, are blessed ones.  I try to remind Kyle of that, yet the kid has no clue how lucky he is to have his grandparents.  Between Kyle, the dogs and the excitement of another year of hunting and fishing, are all what keeps dad ticking.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Below is dad’s high school graduation picture from Ligonier Valley High School in 1968.  This is one of those rare pictures of dad without his beard.  If pictures wouldn’t have captured this smooth faced dad, I never would believe it.
Happy Birthday dad! 
Happy-Birthday-Dad---Graduation-1968-Aunt-Heather-Piper
posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Back To Routine – Dogs Daily Hike

Sunny day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet  ~Joe Raposo

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Seven sporting his broken leg, taking a break in the grass 9/13

This past September, the 28th to be exact, I arrived at my mom and dad’s house to find Seven slightly different.  What was this change?  His injured leg.  What happened?  Seven broke his leg!

Over the years, we’ve never experience a dog with a broken leg, ever!  I mean dogs meet porcupines, yes.  Dogs meet skunks, yes.  Dogs even get too much exercise and have sore muscles for a few days, sure, but a broken leg?

Evidently, Seven and Scooby got away from mom and they headed straight for the neighbors dog, Thor.  Yes Thor, he’s a really friendly German Shepperd pup.  Knowing our dogs, the mad dash for Scooby meant he wanted to bully the dog.  The mad dash for Seven meant he wanted another friend to play with.  Either way, our boys, mostly Scooby, do what they want, when they want, even if mom is standing on the porch yelling at the dogs to listen (my cousins down the road can hear mom yelling, no joke!) and they simply choose to do what they feel like.  Both dogs, Thunder and Lightening as I like to refer to them, headed down the driveway and onto the road, till they reached the neighbors driveway before making their way back.

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Seven even mastered running with his cast. He was a good sport. 9/13

Mom said Scooby trotted up the driveway all proud of himself, wagging his tail like he did something admirable.  Now, Seven on the other hand didn’t come back right away.  That’s not normal behavior, at all.  Seven is faster than Scooby and Seven likes to run around like a puppy.  Not to mention, he’s the one out of the two that semi-listens.  Mom called for Scooby’s sidekick and eventually he came into her line of vision, limping along the way.  What happened?

Her and dad looked it over and they guessed it was broken, but couldn’t verify.  Being later in the evening on a Friday night, there wasn’t a whole lot my parents could do for the dog, so poor Seven had to go to bed and try and rest.  Mom informed me he laid in the extra bed, the one I usually sleep in when I stay there, and whimpered all night.  Poor Seven was in pain!

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Seven walked around with is broke leg & cast pretty good. Nice tongue shot! 9/13

By the next morning, they could see an area on his leg that was swollen and Seven couldn’t put any weight on the injured limb.  By the time, I got there, mom had already taken Seven to the Vet’s office.  After a few X-rays, low and behold, one broken right leg.

The Vet’s office was praising Seven’s behavior, being mild tempered and a real trooper.  I was proud of him.  I mean, a bunch of strangers poking and prodding, being held in a strange place, all while in pain.  Seven even let them move him around to get proper angles under the X-ray machine and never said a peep.  Once they were done with him, mom and Seven headed home with my buddy sporting a cast.

On a side note, Kyle and I felt really bad for Seven, although we were both excited to sign his cast, just like I was in high school again.

Seven-trying-to-walking-with-broken-leg-9-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Seven gradually started to put weight on his cast. Poor broken puppy! 9/13

Seven eventually became very efficient at walking and then running around with three legs.  Soon he started to put some pressure on the cast and use it like normal.  Well, nothing about the situation was normal.  Not being mean, but it was funny watching him walk stiff legged and dragging that cast around.  Sometimes, we would bust out laughing at him walking on the cast and the ticking sound he would make on the hard wood floor.  I know mean, but Seven took us in strides, knowing it was a humorous situation.

The only part that put us all in danger, was when he became too comfortable with the cast.  He felt the need to be his old normal self, and would try and jump up in our laps, which resulted in him jabbing us in the gut with the stiff leg.  That hurt!  He even whacked me across the face a few times trying to get in my lap so I could hold him.  The worst came, when Seven was trying to jump around with excitement as all Labs like to, and he brought his cast to meet my shin.  Half hurting and half laughing I said, “O, he clubbed me!  He clubbed me!  Man down, man down.”  Kyle and I got a kick out of that one.  In all seriousness, he did bruise my shin pretty good, yet I know he didn’t mean to.

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Seven & Scooby walking on the road. Seven’s broken leg is all healed up! 10/13

As time was healing our broken dog, the vet told us to take the cast off and let Seven continue to apply weight as he could.  He was still not allowed to run around and believe it or not, Seven was not allowed in bed.  I think the later really upset him, but we wanted him to heal up without causing additional pain to our little doggie so we held tight to that rule.  I had to cut off the darn, dirty, stinky cast.  That  melted my heart.  The further I continued to cut away at the cast, I started seeing signs of distress.  Seven rubbed the back of his leg raw from itching and there was a lot of dried blood.  Poor Seven!  At least with the cast off, it wasn’t so itchy and now the air got to his fur, giving him some comfort.

Eventually, Seven was walking around pretty good.  I was not allowed to take the dogs for our usual daily hikes until Thanksgiving, which I was going to do after I came back from running in the Turkey Trot in Latrobe and after we ate Thanksgiving dinner, except the dogs took it upon themselves to go for an unapproved walk for a couple of hours in the woods.  By that Monday, it was hunting season, so no walks in the woods for two weeks.  After that, it seemed like the holidays always consumed the days, then it was raining all the time and then we moved into those few subzero days.  I couldn’t take the boys out in those conditions!  That is until last Friday.  Yep, me, Seven and Scooby headed back up to our path for a three mile hike, round trip.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the mid-day break to stretch out our legs.  I quite enjoyed watching the dogs jump around in the woods.  They were truly happy!  Can’t wait for our walk today!

Seven’s leg seems to still bother him every now-and-again, especially in the cold, but he’s doing much better.  What exactly happened to him?  No one knows.  He could have stepped wrong along the side of the road, or stepped into a pothole (Pennsylvania is famous for those) or twisted his foot wrong.  Who knows, but he survived and is still recovering nicely.

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

Communication Skills Need Some Work

Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.  ~Jim Rohn

Aunt-Heather-Piper-at-the-Seton-Hill-University-Alumni-Panel-11-12-13

Brenda Shaffer, Michael Fecik & me speaking at the 3rd Annual – Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel at Seton Hill University for Dr. Giunta.  Q & A Session!  11/12/13

Talking to Kyle yesterday on the phone, made me realize something, the kid has no verbal communication skills, at least not on the phone.  I know this is no revelation, but worth noting and addressing.   After all he is my pre-teen and has to learn to proper communication.

Face-to-face, Kyle is not a shy person, not in the slightest.  He has no qualms asking for assistance in stores or asking anyone, for anything to get what he wants at any time.

When family members or any adult figure speaks directly to him, asking about school or Christmas or some general topic of conversation, he usually just spouts out, ‘Good’ or something very brief, to the point and simple, with maybe a head nod.  I get that, he’s a kid and really doesn’t want to be participating in the conversation where he has no vested interest.  For when he does have a stake to the claim, he can rule the words to make himself and his purpose known.  So I never would peg Kyle as needing direction when speaking on the phone.  But it’s true!

Keep in mind we are too used to Kyle, and take him for who he is, which every child should be accepted!  But what I’m talking about, is coaching and assisting him throughout his journey of life, making him a better person for whatever his future endeavors might be.   Plus, let’s not forget sometimes his cryptic sentences drive me crazy!  This kid is twelve years old and his communication skills need to grow and mature with him.

Now back to the matter at hand, yesterday’s conversation.  I called him to see what he was doing, if he practiced his piano, how school was, you know the standard run of the mill questions.  Kyle initially said “Hi”.  Good we are off to a great start.  We might need to work on his influction and ease of his voice, but nevertheless, good.  Then after starting my conversation, trying to prompt some response from him, Kyle just said, “Ya, can you get me Saturday?”  As if he could care less about the questions and dismissed me, completely!  Immediately I retorted, “That’s great buddy, but how about ‘Hi Aunt Heather school was good.  I still have to practice my piano.  So I was thinking, would you mind picking me up on Saturday?’” As I reiterated a ‘normal’ conversation back to him he just made an ‘ok’ noise and was pretty dismissive as usual.

Then I said, “Kyle you are going to have to work on your verbal communication skills.  No more it’s all about you and what you want.  You need to participate in a nice conversation, Not one where I have to solve a riddle to understand it.”  Then, all I heard was “Ok” with a little chuckle.  He’s a smart kid, he knows what I’m talking about.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-speaking-at-Alumni-Panel-Seton-Hill-University-11-12-13

Yours truly, speaking at the 3rd Annual Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel for Seton Hill University. Talking about The Piper Corporation & Thrill of the Hunt. 11/12/13

I don’t get it, I really don’t?  Is it generational?  Is it his personality?  Is it just with my family?  Is it maturity?  Whatever it is, I don’t give a flying fig.  He is going to learn to correct his poor communication skills.  Kyle cannot think he can walk around speaking to people with only his agenda on his mind and a cryptic one at best.  Nope, not no my watch!

Seriously, he wasn’t always like that.  Or was he?  All I remember is this little two year old, who was just learning to speak (after getting his ears checked and the problems temporarily fixed) sitting in the backseat of my car, talking into his Finding Nemo toy phone.  He loved that thing.  I got it for him because he expressed an interest in phones, usually he had his eye on mine.  So I told him he could have one of his own that had lights and made noises.

One day we were driving and he was talking.  I mean carrying on a conversation.  I said, “Hey buddy who are you talking to?”  He said, talking into the phone as a real person was on the other end, “Hang on, Aunt Heather is talking to me.”  What?  Then he replied, “I’m talking to Aunt Nitti, what you want?”  Too cute!  All I could do was feel embarrassed I interrupted him and said, “O, sorry buddy, tell her I said hi and to call me later.”  That little munchkin turned back into the phone and said, “Ok, I’m back, Aiya said ‘Hi’ and to call her later.”  Then, to really play out the conversation how it would be in real life, he turned to me and said, “Aunt Nitti said, Ok”.  I was dying!  My heart melted!  That’s one of those moments when you wish the entire world was watching and enjoying it with you.  At least my family.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Speaking-at-Seton-Hill-University-Alumni-Panel-11-12-13

Me speaking at Seton Hill University for 3rd Annual Customer Centricity: Serving Clients & Employees Panel. Starting off with The Piper Corporation & Thrill of the Hunt! 11/12/13a

He continued on this “conversation” for a while, pausing every now-and-again to answer a question and to ask a question like, “When are you coming home?” or “What presents do you have for me?”.  Once he was tattling on me and said, “Ya Aunt Nitti, Aiya drives like a race car driver.”  What?  Even in his imagination world he tattled on me!  At the end of his conversations,  I always heard him say, “Ok, I’ll talk to you later, bye.”  before closing this bright blue plastic flip phone and putting the antenna down.   Too much!

Now I know the kid knows how to carry on a normal conversation, at least an imaginary one.  That’s a start!  So why doesn’t he?  Is is because he’s being lazy?  Or is too used to us and knows no matter what, we love him and will do anything for him so he cuts to the chase?  I can respect that, for I am too impatient with responses and I like to get to the point when I’m in a hurry.  Now that I’ve admitted my behavior, is Kyle like me?  Is he picking up my candor?  Yikes!  I better watch it!

However, the difference between my communication skills and his, besides years of experience is the quality.  I know how to carry on a conversation, I know how to give pleasantries, I know how to be “normal”, kind of.  I’m not that convinced with him, not just yet.  Until then, I think Mr. Kyle is going to get a lesson on phone etiquette until it sticks to his brain and falls out his mouth and becomes secondary to his communication skills.  After all, parents, or in my case Auntie has to be the life coaches for these children.  Kids don’t know what is not taught.  So I’ll take the time and usually the headache that accompanies these lessons, to teach him as best as I know how.  Not that Kyle has to be like me, not in the slightest, I want him to develop his own style, but there needs to be a foundation for him to build on.  Here we go!

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