A Pillow of Memories

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pappy & Kyle on Pillow c. 2003 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle snuggling up with his beloved pappy on his pillow. c. 2003

Looking at Kyle from a distance, he’s definitely more a man than a little boy.  He’s nearly as tall as me, leaned out and he’s even carrying himself with purpose.  However, every now and again he does something that screams little boy, and I can’t help but notice and smile.

This past Saturday, we were watching The Hobbit:  Desolation of Smaug.  (for the countless time, it’s one of our favorite movie series)  True to Kyle’s idiosyncrasies, he turned off all the lights to set the movie watching mood, then he pulled up a pillow.  Okay, pulling up a pillow to get comfortable isn’t weird, but he pulled up the dog’s bed and proceeded to snuggle in, right in front of the television, on the floor.

You see, when Kyle as a little tyke he loved to sprawl out on the floor in front of the boob tube.  He would try and get as close as humanly possible.  It became an issue with us having to pull him back, while he always protested.  Eventually, we came to an agreement and he knew where the line was established.  I’m guessing that was ingrained in Kyle, because he stayed at the borderline on Saturday.

The action with dog pillow cracked me up too.  When Kyle was a baby, four months old to be exact, right after his dad passed away, I painted and redecorated Ryan’s old bedroom at my parent’s house for Kyle, since we knew he’d be living with us part-time.  I also wanted him to feel he was always welcomed and was at home.  (Kyle has a room at my house too.)  I embellished Kyle’s room with items for children, while leaving little pieces of his dad here and there.  To really polish off the child’s domain, I made Kyle curtains.  The fabric I chose had red trucks and dogs printed on solid blue, red, white and yellow blocked backgrounds.  I even embellished the curtains with large primary colored buttons.  They were very cute and cheerful, especially considering our state of mind at that time, dealing with the loss of Ryan.  Anyway, upon completion of the curtains, I realized I had a lot of extra fabric left.  What to do with the material?  Turn it into an over-sized pillow of course.  I stitched up the rectangle sides and made Kyle a huge pillow, roughly twenty-four inches by thirty-six inches.  It took a lot of stuffing, but I made this, unbeknownst to me at the time, favorite pillow of Kyle’s.

Pappy Kyle & Jake with Pillow Aunt Heather Piper c. 2004

Kyle hanging with Pap & Jake, the pillow was always nearby. c. 2004

Naturally, when Kyle was a baby, he didn’t really take notice to the pillow.  As he grew older, I’d find him dragging it throughout the house to lay on, or he used it as a nesting spot to play with his cars and trucks.  Soon, when he discovered cartoons, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Thomas the Tank, Bear in the Big Blue House, and George Shrinks (Kyle and my dad’s favorite) to name a few, Kyle would  pull that pillow in prime watching position on the floor, which were hardwood, for ultimate viewing comfort.

Kyle loved that pillow!  Even though I don’t think he remembers it nowadays.  So much so, that eventually the once fluffy pillow became beat down and lumpy, especially after many justified washes.  Eventually, I opened up the stitching, and replaced the stuffing to get a few more years out of it.  Back then, Kyle loved doing anything with me, and he certainly assisted with the process, which I very much enjoyed.

To be honest, I’m really not sure when we decided to give up on the pillow, and tossed it once and for all, but it no longer resides on the floor, in front of the television.  That place is reserved for the dogs.  I’m sure before removing that staple from the house, I consulted Kyle on the decision, to avoid a childhood scar like I endured regarding my banky (blanket).  I’ll explain that situation one day.

Now the present, and Kyle’s on the dog’s therapeutic bed, which he drug in front of the television to watch the movie in the dark.  Just like old times.  My little man’s still in there!  Kyle will always be my little man!

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

Cruising the Open Seas

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.  ~Kate Chopin

Kyle-swimming-with-dolphin-on-cruise-6-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle finally got to swim with the dolphins! One of the many activities on his cruise trip with Aunt Nikki. 6/2015

Summer has arrived and has consumed all of my time.  Between Thrill of the Hunt and my scavenger hunt events, the garden, the bees, the chickens and the turkeys, and trying to wrangle in a 13-year-old to spend quality time with me, there’s little time to do anything else.  Personally, I wish I’d open my schedule for more leisurely reading and writing, and I will, but until then, busy, busy, busy.  Those are my days, which are clearly very different from Kyle’s.

Kyle seems to be enjoying his summer thus far.  He’s in the marching band, practicing one day a week.  He’s also trying his hand at the Tuba.  I’m glad he’s challenging himself and I’m very proud of that young boy, who still hasn’t shaken his attitude (partially).  However, that’s not all, besides fishing and mostly laying around playing video games, Kyle recently added some miles to his life experiences.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle and his Aunt Nikki set sail for Kyle’s first cruise.  Seriously?  Yes!  It was the annual Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun trip(Please note, I’m still not invited on these trips, which would make them even more adventurous and fun, just saying.  We could call it Kyle and the Aunts’ Week of Fun!)    I can’t believe the trip was nearly a month ago now.  To be honest, it started a few months back when Nicole and Kyle began discussing this year’s “Week of Fun” trip ideas.  Then, the anticipation grew even more when Kyle’s passport came in the mail.  What 13-year-old kid has a passport and has used it?  I’m sure some kids, obviously Kyle, but I never did until I reached my twenties.  He is blessed!  Then, the true excitement, when Nicole came home the weekend before departure to pick up the package, a.k.a. Kyle.

On Sunday, June 7th Nicole and Kyle drove to Baltimore, Maryland to jump aboard their cruise liner and set sail for a memorable week.

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“Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun” … this year a cruise. 6/2015

Where did they go?  They went to the Bahamas, stopped off in Florida and visited NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, and they participated in activities on the cruise ship while at sea, including the hairy chest contest.  Nicole won!  Just kidding! (That totally made me laugh out loud!)

These were all firsts for Kyle, including the hairy chest contest!  I’m glad my sister was able to introduce him to new experiences.  Like what?  Kyle got to swim with the dolphins!  Did he love it?  You bet!  He also got to explore the Bahamas, something I’ve never even done.  In fact, whoever his tour guide was left an impression on Kyle that lasted long after his trip.  Unbeknownst to the tour guide, he knew how to speak Kyle.  Basically the language of Kyle is through statistics and numbers.  Nicole and Kyle came home on Sunday, June 14th.  I was in Arlington, Virginia on Friday administering to the Singles Scavenger Hunt, so I occupied Nicole’s house until my world traveler arrived, so I could bring our precious cargo back.  On the four hour ride home, Kyle kept rattling off trivia regarding the Bahamas.  “Aunt Heather, do you know how someone can become a citizen of the Bahamas?” (one is to purchase a house on the island) and “Aunt Heather, did you know they don’t pay taxes?” and “Aunt Heather they only lost eight people with the last hurricane, so it’s really not that dangerous.”  Yep for most of the ride, Kyle was simply spouting off facts and figures, mostly about the Bahamas and some regarding NASA.  That’s my Kyle!

Week of Fun Cruise 6-10-15 Aunt Heather Piper

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Kyle insisted on meeting the captain of their cruise ship. Aunt Nikki, Kyle & the Captain. 6/2015

While sitting in Nicole’s living room, listening to the two reminisce about their trip, I was reminded just how much Kyle is like me.  Apparently, while waiting to take the elevator, they had to, well… wait.  Then, the elevator stopped at every level before arriving at their room.  Patience wasn’t strong with Kyle.  As the story goes, Kyle made my sister, who has an aversion to exercise, take the steps.  The agreement was, if it was more than two floors they’d take the elevator, if less the steps.  Now that’s my Kyle!  In general I usually take the steps, a habit Kyle has certainly picked up from me.  It’s that little extra effort that can make a world of difference to a person’s health.  While Nicole was commenting about the steps, I jumped into the conversation to defend Kyle, reminding Aunt Nikki that taking the steps was a wise choice considering all the food consumed.

Nicole said Kyle literally ate a burger a day, and treated himself to an ice-cream a day throughout the trip.  When bringing this fun fact to light,  Kyle gave me an ornery look as if saying “Ya Aunt Heather, I ate whatever I wanted and not healthy.”  I smiled and said, “Good for you buddy, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.  That’s what vacations are all about.  I’m glad you got some protein in your system and not all sweets.”  He seemed pleased with himself.

There’s no doubt Nicole and Kyle had a blast and created memories for a lifetime.  Like I’ve always told Kyle, I want him to take every opportunity to travel and see the world, explore every inch and enjoy life.

During our ride back, Kyle mentioned that he could live in the Bahamas.  I’d visit him, but that’s about it.  That comment kind of surprised me, since Kyle doesn’t like being in the sun, and hates the heat, and really hates to sweat.  Who knows, maybe the Bahamas will be his favorite vacation spot.

On a somewhat side note, while driving home with Kyle I looked down to see he changed his iPhone cover.  What is it?  The NASA logo.  I guess he did have a great time and was very influenced by his experiences!  After pointing out the case and telling him it was nice (it really is), I told him about his Aunt Nikki’s childhood obsession about working for NASA.  He seemed intrigued, yet I’m sensing he picked up on this little known fact during their visit to Florida.

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Kennedy Space Center. NASA 6/10/15

The annual tradition of Aunt Nikki’s and Kyle’s Week of Fun has been in existence since Kyle was a small tyke, growing in wow factor, mileage and expense year-over-year.  I hope it never stops and always continues for those two!  Personally, I love hearing the stories.  Wonder what next year will bring?

 

 

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

Don’t Judge, Everyone Has Scars – Part 1

Wounds turn into scars and scars make you tough.  ~Aisha Tyler

Kyle's-5th-Birthday-at-SeaBase-2005-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle’s 5th Birthday, party at SeaBase in Greensburg. He had a blast! 7/2005

Everyone knows the old saying, “Don’t judge a book …”  Even though it’s true, sometimes it’s hard not to make our own assumptions.  I know me personally, I’ve been on the receiving end of judgement, and even though I’d like to think I’m not a judgmental person, I’m sure I’m equally as guilty.  I don’t hold grudges but sometimes stories need to be told to learn from them.

Like what?  When Kyle was a baby, even until present day, I’ve had strangers give me stares and accusatory looks, assuming I’m a single parent.  Yes!  All true, no exaggeration.  I noticed, but never gave it much thought, nor did I hold it against anyone.  Why waste energy worrying over something that didn’t matter?  Also, why dwell on the negative?  Not worth it at all.  In fact, I tried to look at my situation from the opposing point-of-view.

Let me give a single example and set the stage.  At the time, I was a young single gal, who looked even younger still, sporting a five month old baby in a papoose, walking around the mall like an unemployed mall rat.  The reality was, I was about twenty-five years old, working two jobs, in college finishing up my marketing degree, and taking care of my nephew because his dad, my brother, recently passed away about two months prior.  Reality verses assumption, big difference!

Once, this very inaccurate judgement happened while at SeaBase, in Greensburg.  SeaBase is a local indoor child’s play area, where the youngsters run around, play on climbing walls, jump among padded floors and walls, and take a swing at goofy golf, that sort thing.  We actually held Kyle’s fifth birthday there.  During this particular period in my life, I was working a lot, and consequently I was always completely exhausted.  Plus, I was back in college working on my fine art’s degree in graphic design.  Did I mention, I was also taking care of my wonderful nephew too?  On one particular day, I wanted to do something fun with Kyle, as my dad would say, “To get the stink blowed off him.” and let him get out and have fun.  Kyle was about two years old and needed to socialize, and do something different to break up his repetitive day.  Seabase.

Casey-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Kyle's-Baptism-10-28-2001

Casey, Kyle’s godfather & me, Kyle’s godmother at his Baptism at Sacred Heart Church, the day prior we buried Ryan. 10/28/01

I remember the situation perfectly.  It was a rainy cold mid-day, during the week, hence why I chose an indoor activity.  There were no words to express just how drained I truly was, and the rhythm of the rainfall didn’t help my cause.  Why did I go?  I knew Kyle needed to get out, he really did.  He needed to stretch his legs and run around and burn off some energy, something of a luxury for him.  If I didn’t step up, then he would have missed out.  More importantly, I was long overdue to spend some quality time with my little man and give him my utmost attention.  You know, instead of hanging with him while multitasking.

While we were playing in a pit full of colorful plastic balls, I started to doze off.  Yikes!  I couldn’t help myself.  Not to mention, my appearance was a bit rough, looking like I just rolled out of bed.  Once I was able to pinch myself hard enough to keep my eyelids from drooping, something caught my eye and I saw things clearly.  Please note, this wasn’t that long after Ryan’s passing, which still felt like it just happened, much like it does presently.  So yes, I’m sure depression played a big roll for my lack of energy, and unconcern for my attire and overall physical appearance.  I didn’t care, my only concern was Kyle’s happiness.

What happened?  Well, first let ME pass judgement.  I was in close proximity to a few stay at home moms, who no doubt didn’t have to work and were able to get a good nights rest to really participate and enjoy their children.  Yeah, those women actually gave me glares.  Granted, they never did say a word to me, but it was evident in their caddy whispers and stares in my direction what they were saying.  Again, I’m sure I looked a lot younger than I was, and I know I appeared as unemployed, and I’m absolutely positive I seemed like a neglectful parent, trying to catch a few zzz’s in the plastic balls with a small child at my side graving for my attention.  Regardless, the situation wasn’t as it appeared.

Even though my scars were not visible, they were clearly there.  Did those unaware individuals bother me?  Not really, the only thing that aggravated me was my lack of energy for Kyle.  As long as Kyle never felt the passive aggressive judging demeanor of others, I never gave it a second thought until now.

Being on the receiving end of judgement, I can see how this type of unspoken treatment could effect someone, especially being in a delicate state like I was.  But again, I never let it get to me.  Also at the time, we were dealing with Kyle’s medical issues, alarmingly his ears (ear infections) and bouts of pneumonia, croup, sinus infections etc.  That’s the main reason I had to get Kyle out that very day.  Regardless of my own fatigue, Kyle wasn’t sick and I wanted him to take advantage of his health and share in his happiness.

I could go on, but I won’t, there’s no point.  Plus, I’m sure there were many more instances that I didn’t even catch.  I’d like to think someone saw me, and instead of making assumptions for my situation, they said a prayer for me instead, or more importantly for Kyle.

What made me think of this?  I passed SeaBase the other day and it just came to me.  I had a lot of great memories there, mostly when I was energized and could hang with Kyle.  However, it only takes one time, and that one in particular, I felt horrible for not giving Kyle my fullest energy potential and my undivided attention (actually any attention).

I know Kyle never remembered and if he did, he probably could care less, but I do.  I love my buddy!

So let that be a lesson, everyone is fighting their own battles, don’t judge.

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

Fall Cartoon Line-Up of Years Past

Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.  ~Arthur Rimbaud

Nicole-opening-gifts-mid-1980s-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole opening gifts & Ryan sitting on pap sucking his finger mid 1980s

Since it’s Friday and the weekend is on our heels, I got to thinking.  Each year around this time, it takes me back to my childhood.  Well, yes with the going back to school season, but also with the television line up.  When you hear of season premiers and the smell of fall in the air, I must admit I feel like a kid again.

Just the other day, I caught myself making a list of the shows I wanted to add to my agenda.  Granted, I don’t watch much TV and as the season progresses, my interest will decrease, but regardless I actually wrote down the shows and the times to get my bearings straight.  Greek, right?

As kids, we never really watched much television during the week either.  Up to a certain point, we only had one television set, that is until my sister got one for Christmas.  It was a small, and I mean SMALL, the entire unit measured probably about eight inches by eight inches by a foot, and the screen was even smaller, portable television set.  Not to mention, I came from a generation that went outside and played, even in the dead of winter.  No, we never really watched that much television in the evenings as kids, and when we did it was the news or Marty Stouffer.  I’ve seen every episode, on every animal, ever made, EVER.  Back then I hated it, yet now-a-days I catch myself watching animal planet and enjoying it.  Maybe I did like that show, but only because dad ruled the remote I didn’t care for it so much.  However, I do remember a brief time of watching *Thunder Cats, The Brady Bunch and *School House Rocks upon coming home after a long day of learning.  So I guess we did get our turn on the television set.

Before school we were allowed to watch morning cartoons, as long was we were ready-to-roll or in the process.  What shows consumed my mind before school?  We watched, *G.I. Joe, *Transformers, *Smurfs, New Zoo Review, *Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, *Scooby-Doo and the *Flintstones.  Granted these weren’t watched all at once or even in the same time frame, yet over the years they were our basic staples.

But what I really remember and still cracks me up to this day, was the Saturday morning fall line up.  Yes, the new cartoons or shows or the new episodes of some favorites that would premier on Saturday mornings around this time of year, much like it does now.  I loved waiting to hear about the fall line up!  It almost made going back to school enjoyable, because you knew you’d get a break on Saturday mornings.

Dad-and-Kyle-watching-TV-c.-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle & his pappy watching TV. Kyle usually got to watch what he wanted … Kyle is sitting on a large pillow I made him. c. 2004

To make things fair so Nicole, Ryan and myself wouldn’t fight, mom would get the TV Guide and let us pick out what we each wanted to watch.  Yes, we mapped out our Saturday morning shows in advance!  It was actually fun.  No wonder why I’m such a planner and I live by my schedule to this day.  While watching our shows, we would literally refer to the previously outlined schedule, written on a notepad, and stuck to it like gold, checking off each show as they were completed.  We treated the Saturday morning line up like it was work and we were doing our job!  No joke!  As the weeks passed we didn’t need our notepad for we now memorized the line up.

During the planning stages, which happened about a week out from the new line-up, we would pull newspaper ads and highlight all shows of interest.  When it was two against one, the odd ball would have to watch his or her desired show in the bedroom on the tiny television set. (refer to paragraph three).   Sometimes we all agreed on a cartoon, which made it more fun to sit together on the couch, wrapped in our blankets.  Yes, we even had our own designated blankets.  This was serious business!  The worst part was when two shows were on at the same time, both of equal interest, yet we had to made choice pick one.  Back then there wasn’t such a thing as TiVo or DVR, nope.  Eventually, we got a VCR, but recording the cartoons to watch later was never an option.  Perhaps we didn’t think of it or mom didn’t want us spending ALL day in front of the boob tube?  Either way, we had to make a choice, which was good practice for later on in life.

The line up started around 7:30 am or so till about noon, which at that point we had to get off our butts and do our chores, homework etc.  Usually, I got up earlier in preparation for the shows.  Nicole and Ryan had a little harder time getting out of bed, but once they heard the television spring to life, they bolted out as to not miss their placement.

The best part?  Dad and mom weren’t allowed to change the channel on us.  Dad was either working or doing something and mom was on hand to break up any disputes, yet they rarely interrupted us during our scheduled time.  Not to mention, mom always made us breakfast and we ate it while watching cartoons.  What did we have?  Usually eggs or oatmeal or cream of rice or french toast or pancakes.  But what did we want?  Sugar cereal!  Mom didn’t purchase too much cereal, but when she did it was a treat and was like crack cocaine!

So what were the shows of years past?  If my memory serves me well we watched (in no particular order and excluding previously mentioned).  Prepare yourself to be taken back to the past!:

  • *Ewoks
  • Snorks
  • Rainbow Bright
  • Punky Brewster
  • Berenstain Bears
  • Teen Wolf
  • Shirt Tales
  • *Speed Buggy
  • Gem
  • Captain Caveman & the Teen Angels
  • *Josie & the Pussycats
  • Mighty Mouse
  • *Superfriends
  • Ghostbusters
  • *Alvin & the Chipmunks
  • The Littles
  • *Casper
  • *Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • *Spider-man
  • Dark-wing Duck
  • *Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats
  • Duck Tales

 

I’m sure over the years there were more, but those listed I definitely remember watching.  Of course we were part of the Loony Tune generation and I’ve seen all of those.

On a side note, most of my favorite shows involved cats. I just realized that!  I have always been a cat lover.  My pappy used to call me old cat woman.  I am a geek!

While Kyle was growing up there were a few favorites of his including:

  • George Shrinks
  • *Jakers!  And the Adventures of Pigglywinks
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Bear in the Big Blue House
  • Teletubbies (only when he was really little, they were scary!  LaLa and Poe were his favorites!)
  • Sponge Bob (Yes, I’ll admit I have fallen prey to this cartoon)
  • Pokemon
  • Scooby-Doo (the older ones and new ones.  Hence, why Kyle’s dog (a blond Labrador) is named Scooby)
  • Fairly Odd Parents
  • Adventure Time (hated that stupid yellow dog!)
  • Phineas & Ferb
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Ben 10
  • How to Train Your Dragon Cartoon
  • The Penguins from Madagascar (they crack me up!)
  • Johnny Test
  • Wonder Pets (What’s gonna work? Team work!) (The phone, the phone is ringing.)
  • Bob the Builder

Did we ever outline such a schedule for Kyle?  Sadly no.  First of all, we have more than one large television set and my parents have Direct TV and I always had cable at my house.  Not to mention, there are channels upon channels dedicated to cartoons and influencing our young generation day and night.  No need to outline a plan of attack, for Kyle was able to watch cartoons anytime.  Plus, ad in all of his DVDs, no shortage of entertainment for the kid.  To be honest, all this fulfillment when desired takes the fun out of it all.  I liked having to wait and plan for such an event as Saturday morning.  It made you look forward to it more and we spent time together.  Perhaps that might become retro again.

*Means a favorite of mine

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

Childhood Goal is Measuring Up

How much does one imagine, how much observe? One can no more separate those functions than divide light from air, or wetness from water.  ~Elspeth Huxley

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-Idlewild-Park-Gutchess-Picnic-2003

Me & Kyle at Idlewild Park for the Gutchess Picnic 2003

It’s funny how everyone’s perception is different from the next person to the next to the next and so on. Then, if you compare an adult’s perception, or usually a lack there of, with a child’s, the possibilities are endless.

Since Kyle’s birthday, it had me really thinking and reminiscing. We just measured Kyle on the back of his bedroom door in the beginning of August, which we’ve been doing since he was a little tyke of three years. This year I realized we missed two years in a row, ages eleven and twelve. How did that happened?  I have no idea.  Probably everyone getting busy and running around, that sort of thing. But luckily I got us back on track this year.

It’s funny, when I mentioned it to Kyle about measuring him up on the door, he got this ornery look to him, the same one he’s projected since we started this tradition.  Seriously, the exact same look of excitement.  In fact, he’s always too thrilled to be measured and see his progress compared to the last measurement.  He’s always loved watching his own growth, as have I.

You see Kyle has always been a short and compact package.  Yes, our little man has consistently displayed signs of being vertically challenged.  Over the years, we’ve mentally made note of Kyle compared to the rest of the kids in his daycare, elementary school and now junior high.  Without argument, he’s notoriously been in the shorter group.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, just a mental note.  However, over the last couple of years, Kyle has really started to stretch up.

This attention to height was most certainly not brought on by my family nor me, it came from the one an only, Kyle.  Yes, from the time he could walk for some reason he became obsessed with his height.  All on his own.  Perhaps it was something heard in passing, unintentionally, or something he saw or most likely something perceived.  Regardless, Kyle has always kept tabs on his own growth progress, with respect to vertical distance.  He never cared about his horizontal circumference.

Kyle's-door-measurements-Aunt-Heather-Piper-8-16-14

This is a 10 years span of Kyle’s growth, from 3 yrs to 13 yrs. My how he has grown! 8/16/14

How do we know?  There was a day that brought this observation to our attention.  It started with me sleeping on the couch.  Yes, I was taking one of my famous naps, not that naps are famous or unusual but in our family I am notorious for my midday naps, usually on Sunday.  I LOVE naps.  Anyway, I was laying on my back on the couch with my legs stretched out in front of me.  I’m guessing I looked like someone deceased in a casket, with my hands folded over my chest, but regardless, Kyle didn’t take in that comparison.  Nope, instead he took notice to the length of my legs.

Mom later told me that Kyle was playing on the floor right beside me, like he usually did and stopped to look up at my resting body.  Kyle turned to my mom and said, “Gigi, when I get older I want long legs like Aiya (Aunt Heather).”  What made him notice my legs?  And what made my legs look longer than anyone else’s is beyond me?  Mom and I were cracking up.  Mom thinks it was just the way I laying that gave the illusion of longer legs.  But then again to a two year old, or so, I guess I did look giant like.

To be honest, I was flabbergasted!  I am taller for a chick, but not abnormally tall by no means.  My five foot six inch stature doesn’t measure up to some of my female cousins who are closer to six foot.  Let’s not even talk about some of the dudes in the family, easy six foot plus.  Granted, my mom might hit a little over five foot couple inches, and my dad has shrunk quite a bit over the years to slightly taller than me.  My sister always beat me by a few inches, but she too has shrunk.  I guess we are a family of about the same height.  My brother on the other hand, made the six foot mark.  Plus, his long lanky legs gave him the illusion of a skyscraper.

Kyle’s asked about his dad with respect to height and we’ve informed him about Ryan’s beanpole physic and tall stature.  I guess since Ryan has moved on to a better place, I’m the next best thing for Kyle to gauge his progress.  I’ll take it any day!

Regardless, ever since that faithful day, Kyle truly has always measured his legs against mine, keeping tabs and waiting for the day he surpassed me.  Now that he’s thirteen, he measures in at about five foot two inches, just under my mom, resting just above my chin.  Our little man is truly growing up before our eyes.

Over years, I never wanted Kyle to focus too hard on his height.  He does have the genes to be short or tall, it’s a coin toss.  I’ve always told him it doesn’t matter how tall he is or ends up to be, what’s really important is that he walks in the way of the Lord and demonstrates qualities of humility, compassion, integrity and forgiveness.  I’ve also told him he is very blessed for God giving him such an insightful brain and intelligence and two working legs.  Not to mention the kid does have a strong personality, when he wants to.  In my eyes, he has it all, regardless of his height.

I guess the stress of some are not understood by others.  I’m not saying Kyle is obsessed over his height, but he does take note.  I hope no matter what God’s plans are for Kyle, whatever path he is headed toward, I hope Kyle is appreciative and really focuses on what’s truly important in life, for he is truly blessed!

 

 

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

Uncle Ray – Passing of a Piper Legend

Whether you like it or not, you’re forced to come to the realization that death is out there. But I don’t fear death, I’m a fatalist. I believe when it’s your time, that’s it. It’s the hand you’re dealt.  ~Clint Eastwood

Uncle-Ray-&-Kyle-7-2011-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Uncle Ray & Kyle. We stopped in for a visit… glad Kyle got to know his great Uncle Ray! c. 7/2011

Today is  bittersweet.  As we move from one year to the next, God has brought home another one of His blessed sons.  It saddens me to talk about the passing of my Uncle Ray and yet I am very proud of the man I knew and shared the surname Piper.  I am also very happy he is no longer suffering and reunited with my Aunt Clemmie.  I bet Ryan is showing him around!

My heart goes out to my cousins who lost their grandpap, great grandpap and father.  Also to all of my cousins, family and friends of the family everywhere, may you be comforted to have simply known Uncle Ray and the truly upstanding man he was.  Stories of Uncle Ray will be told for years to come, for he was one of the good ones who lived a very full life.

Naturally, everyone on Facebook is sending their thoughts and prayers to the family.  My cousin Brook, one of Uncle Ray’s grand kids commented on Facebook that Uncle Ray was shot in the chest at age 19 in France while fighting with Patton’s 3rd Army.  What?  Really?  Wow!  I had no idea!  I’m sure over the years, I’ll probably learn more about Uncle Ray then I could ever have guessed, certainly more than my little world ever knew.  So let the stories begin!  Uncle Ray has earned center stage!

Uncle Ray was my pap’s brother on my dad’s side.  Yep, Uncle Ray was a Piper through and through.  Of course, I cannot speak of Uncle Ray and exclude his late wife, my Aunt Clemmie.  They were two peas in a pod, and admittedly a couple of my favorites.

It’s funny, but most of my memories of Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie included Halloween.  No joke!  My family grew up on a ridge, not the one Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie lived, but a connecting one.  It’s great living away from town except for the fact there are no walkable neighborhoods to trick-or-treat during Halloween.  Minor downside.  Mom would always take care of that situation by driving all of us ghosts and ghouls around to collect our share of sweet treats.  In addition to acquiring more candy (because you know there is never enough) and extending the Halloween fun, trick-or-treating the Piper ridge was a great excuse to see family, aside from the Piper Reunion in July.  Me, Ryan, Nicole, Casey, Joel, and Elizabeth, and later Mikey would pile in the car.  Usually mom took us because Karen had Marla and later Stacey.  We would make our pit stops all along the ridge, hitting up family and friends of the family.

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My cousin Sonny (Ray), his dad my Uncle Ray & dad at the Piper Reunion 2012

Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s stop was a favorite, also one of the last ones.  I loved going back to their house.  It was always so creepy in the darkness and among the trees.  Perfect for Halloween, loved it!  Uncle Ray always made us homemade potato chips in the barn.  To this day, I can still smell the grease and taste the crunchy starchy goodness of the chips.  Growing up, mom and dad never kept junk food among the cupboards, so the homemade potato chips were a real treat!

As a kid, I hated to wait for chips to finish bathing in the oil, and let’s not discuss the patience I had to demonstrate while they cooled.  (I was never very patient)  When Uncle Ray added the salt, I knew it wasn’t long before I would get a taste!  Looking back on it now, how many kids were blessed with freshly made potato chips made from a real cowboy?

Throughout the summer, me, Ryan and Nicole would take turns spending a week with my gram and pap on the ridge.  Ryan was lucky, he usually got to go to the sawmill with pap, while I was stuck with gram.  Nicole never did mind laying around grams house, which I still don’t get to this day.  Although, to break up the time, gram would drag me around to visit local family.  Usually, it was uneventful, except when I would hang with my Uncle Ralph and of course, my Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie.  My days were spent in the barn or in his fields.  Uncle Ray would help entertain me by letting me help him with small chores.  Seriously the best!  I loved helping out around the house and spending time with Uncle Ray.  He always wore that cowboy hat!  I used to think he was so goofy.  Naturally, I would tell him so and he would always pick back.  Loved him!

One more quick story.  Periodically, throughout the winter, my parents would fire up the snowmobiles and take us for rides back through the woods.  Those trips were a blast!  You see back then, winter really was winter.  Snow laid on the ground from about November or December till about March or April.  It was great!  There wasn’t just a dusting either, there was consistently piles and piles of snow all winter long!  So going through the woods was a non-issue, especially when you’re racing above the ground with a feet of snow between.  The ridge my parents live on connects to the Piper ridge, via the Butina ridge (these are most certainly not technical names but it was how I was grown up to refer to such places and most people understand these directions).

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Aunt Clemmie at the Piper Reunion 2002. Totally miss her!

Mom would ride with Nicole and dad would take me and Ryan.  (Ryan always got to ride upfront and steer while I was stuck behind dad.  Just like Kyle, always a stinker.)  Mom would call a few relatives to let them know we were heading up, to be ready for us.  Sometimes mom and dad’s neighbors, the Davis’ and the Ferry’s would fire up their snowmobiles and ride along.  We always left when it was dark, adding to the excitement!  In my mind, it was midnight, when in reality it was probably around 6:00 pm or so.

By the time we got to Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s, which was always a stop, Aunt Clemmie would have hot chocolate ready to bring me back from my frozen state.  I always got really cold, even when I ate ice-cream, so riding in the cold wind didn’t do me justice, even though I loved every minute of it.  We always hung out at Uncle Ray’s, shooting the breeze and gold old fashion visiting, before calling it a night and making our departure back down the ridge.

I can still see Uncle Ray and Aunt Clemmie’s faces.   They never seemed bothered by us kids running around and always welcomed us!  I think Aunt Clemmie loved being my hot chocolate savior!

I am truly grateful that Kyle got to meet and hang out with Uncle Ray.  Even though the meetings were short and didn’t mean much to my little man at the time, I am certain over the years he will learn more about his family and appreciate them as much as I have come to.

Rest-in-Peace Uncle Ray and God Speed!

This video cracks me up.  How many conversations are going on all at once?  This is what it’s like when you get a room full of Piper’s together. c.7/2011

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

Happy Birthday Kyle- 10 Years Old!

“Time is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once” ~Anonymous

Aunt Heather & Kyle Piper on his 10th Birthday.

My annual birthday surprise at Kyle’s daycare. This year was cupcakes for everyone!

First and foremost, I’d like to wish Kyle a big Happy 10th Birthday! 

We celebrated his birthday last weekend at my parent’s house.  We were going to go to D.C. to visit my sister and begin the birthday celebration but, unfortunately, I hurt my back  (moving a keg of beer for the 64th Annual Piper Reunion, the weekend prior) and I couldn’t make the drive.  So Nicole came up for the weekend.

The Friday started out by me picking Kyle up from daycare and I was immediately instructed by him to stop by the Dairy Queen to get his Lego themed birthday cake.  He said he wanted to eat the cake tomorrow at 8:30.  I asked him, “Do you want to wait that late tomorrow to eat your cake?” and his reply was, “No Aunt Heather, 8:30 in the morning. Actually, make it 8:00 I want to eat my ice-cream cake early.”  LOL, he had it all planned out.  Then we went to the Planinsek’s, family friends, where their entire family was eating and hanging out in the in-ground pool.  It was such a nice time, not to mention a great distraction for Kyle, since my sister was on her way from Virginia with his gifts.

Well the weekend was fun!  Ice-cream cake around 10:00, only cause my dad had to work in the morning and we wanted to make sure he was home before singing happy birthday.  Nicole took Kyle shopping, I took him to the pool with Nick, my friend Holly’s nephew, and we went to see the last Harry Potter movie, which was really good.

Kyle with his Aunt Nikki for his 3rd Birthday

Kyle with his Aunt Nikki for his 3rd Birthday

On a side note, while Nicole and Kyle were shopping at Game Stop, they ran into Heather, a mutual friend of ours, with her kids.  Unfortunately, the night before, there was a house fire and their house burned to the ground.  Everyone was ok, but Heather wanted to buy her kids a game to help them cope with the tragedy.  I was told that Kyle stepped up to the plate and helped the kids pick out a game. Also kudos to Heather’s oldest daughter, Rachele, who actually rescued the two little munchkins! http://www.wtae.com/r/28676762/detail.html

I can’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Kyle and be a part of his life for a decade now.  I know it’s cliché to say this but… it seems like it was just yesterday that I was in the hospital with my mom and my brother waiting for this little bundle of boy.  There are so many things I can reflect on but I would like to say that I am very proud of the little man Kyle has become.  His dad would have been equally proud.

Now, indulge me with a little reminiscing.  Over the years, I’ve always told Kyle that I will only get him unconventional gifts.  Not that I don’t believe in traditional gifts but, the truth is, he has way too many.  It would be one thing if he never received toys, but he has way too much for any one child.  I think it’s silly and a waste.  I will admit that I used to buy him toys up until the age of two or three.  At that point I used to put money in his education fund. I’ve always been straight up and honest with Kyle so, when he got older, I explained that he will only receive unconventional gifts from me.  I wanted to get him gifts that can impact and benefit him in the long term.

Kyle Piper's 3rd Birthday celebration

Kyle Piper’s 3rd Birthday celebration! Trucks was the theme.

For example, for his fifth birthday I got him swimming lessons.  I have been taking Kyle to swimming lessons one day a week since he was five, we’re going on five years now and still going strong.  He loves to swim, especially swimming to the “depths of the pool”.  His diving has really improved over the years and now he is being taught different strokes like the butterfly.  I’m so glad he enjoys swimming and I cherish our time together!

For his sixth birthday I got him piano lessons.  My mom had the honor of taking him to his first lesson and she said he was so excited, he was jumping out of his skin!  When I told him that I got him the lessons he didn’t give it much thought, that is, until he had his first lesson.  He walked into the teacher’s house and went straight over to the piano.  He started to hit the keys until he honed in on the guitar sitting in the corner.  I know Miss Debbie, his teacher, had a hard time trying to get him to focus, but she said she was so happy to see a child wanting to learn and not being forced.  I bet he brought a smile to her face cause I know mom and I were laughing on the phone during his lesson when she was giving me the play-by-play.

Kyle Piper turns 8 at Chef Dato's restaurant

Kyle’s 8th birthday party. It was a cooking party with Chef Dato, all the kids made pizza.

Then of course everyone remembers his famous ninth birthday when I took him to Westmoreland Aviation and he got to fly a small plane for an hour.  After the flight, that little stinker was interviewed by the Latrobe Bulletin and appeared on the front page with a picture of him in the plane and he appeared in two different press releases.  He was also featured on the Westmoreland Aviation’s website with a ton of pictures of him.  I got to go up in the plane with him…what a fun day!

Of course I could go on and on.  But this year, as like other years, he never really seems to care about asking me for his gift.  He likes them, but they are not toys or games so I guess they are not interesting enough at the moment. I’m ok with that because my intention for his gifts is to have as much staying power as possible, and I think they do.

 

 

Kyle Piper with his dad Ryan Piper the day he was born.

Kyle Piper with his dad Ryan Piper the day he was born. July 30, 2001

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