From February Till Now, A Summary of Kyle

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.  ~J.D. Salinger

Planinsek Fishing Derby Kyle & a hug Aunt Heather Piper 5-13-17

I love my little man, who is now as tall as me! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I released a blog post.  The end of January.  Yikes!  I’ve thought about it, then got sidetracked or ran out of time.  Where have I been?  Bombarded with work, that’s where.  Marketing has kept me a pretty busy lady.  But the bigger question is, what’s Kyle been up to?

Let me give a monthly recap.

February

I really don’t remember what went on in February.  At least nothing so monumental that it warrants a call out.  We didn’t have much of a winter.  When snow did fall, I asked Kyle to go snowboarding, but my invitation was quickly declined.  He had other plans.  (Probably nothing)  He stated that he still likes snowboarding but wasn’t interested when asked.

Originally, I wanted to take Kyle and a few of his friends to Seven Springs.  However, the way the snow landed, or lack there of, I wasn’t given much notice to plan a trip to the slopes.  Personally, I want to see if Kyle remembers how to snowboard.  I also want him to feel comfortable again on the mountain without fear of him hurting himself.  I guess there’s always next year.  Maybe I’ll plan a trip out west. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden any real mountains and Kyle’s never had the chance.  Making a mental note.

March

First Day of Fishing Kingston Kyle 4-16-17 Aunt Heather Piper

First Day of FISHING! Kingston 4/16/2017

Again, another month without the steady presence of Kyle.  I do miss my little man.  This is in such contrast to when Kyle was a youngster.  He was around all the time.  I could count on him to answer my calls, my text messages and even Facetime me, talk and hang out.  He never passed up an opportunity to do something fun together.  Actually, it didn’t need to be fun, he was game to do anything as long as I was there doing it with him. (Yes that included cleaning)

It just goes to show, appreciate what you have when you have it.  I guess fifteen is the rejection age.  Although, this has been going on for about a year and a half since he was thirteen – fourteen.  Now I want to know when will it end and I get my buddy back?  Of course, I wouldn’t want to hang around a family that yells and argues all the time either.  I know he gets enough of that at home.

April

Kyle Derek Logan Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle, Derek & Logan watching the other band performances. Lookin’ good guys! 5/2/2017

Holidays are always a great excuse to see friends and family.  Kyle can’t escape hanging with his aunt for Easter.

A Saturday in either March or April
I got a call that Kyle wanted picked up.  Great!  Did I mind it was last minute and I had to change my plans to accommodate him?  Never.  I was excited to see my guy.

As recent history dictated, Kyle was quite on the ride.  When I asked him questions, he either shrugged his shoulders or gave his typical answers, “Good”, “No”, “Fine” or “I don’t know.”  Good talk buddy!

As we were driving to my parents house to visit, I got a great idea.  Knowing Kyle would be turning sixteen in July, I thought I’d surprise him with a little driving lesson.  For a change, we weren’t in a hurry and it was a lovely day.  Why not?

I pulled into the cemetery near my parent’s without informing Kyle of my plan.  I put the car in park and got out and walked around to the passenger side.  Kyle began to freak out like he was in trouble.  I definitely sported a snicker.  I opened the passenger door to find Kyle getting defensive and not willing to leave his seat.  I told him my plans and his response?  “But I’m not sixteen yet, I’m not allowed to drive.”  Kyle was always like that, never willing to break the rules, no matter.  My reply?  “Do you think you should wake up on your sixteenth birthday and be allowed to get behind the wheel on the highway without a little practice?  Besides, I’ve already had you driving since you were little.”

Kyle at Fishing Derby 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle waiting for the big one at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

Believe it or not, Kyle argued with me.  What kid does that?  Most teens would be all too excited to take the wheel, especially with me, who’s not going to freak out if he hits something.  I did mention, “This is where I learned to drive, of course I drove a stick on the hill.  But it’s a good place, no one’s around and everyone’s already dead.”  He gave me an uneasy look.  “The most I’ll have to do is owe someone a new headstone, so try and stick to the road.”  I was graced with a smirk for my candor.

After a little attitude, I got Kyle to drive.  I enforced using his turn signal (good habit) and showed him other basic car features.

He was pretty steady, although, Kyle did give me a fright when he approached a turn, that if not addressed properly would have resulted in us flying down over an embankment.  He was going to make the left turn but he was moving a bit too fast (not that he reached 10 miles an hour, but it was still too fast for the situation, especially a first time driver).  I grabbed the oh S#@$ handles and used my imaginary break.  My actions received me a full blown smile from my young driver.  Let it be known I never yelled.

Kyle by fire at Fishing Derby 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle playing games by the fire at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

As we began our decent down the grade, after he made the bend without launching us over the side of a cliff (large gully), it resulted in another sharp left turn.  This one I wasn’t so worried about.  The most Kyle could do was run into the grass.  As we approached the turn, it went something like this:

Me:  Better go slower.
Kyle:  I got it.
Me:  Left turn signal and you better slow down.  Cut your wheel sharp at the bottom.
Kyle:  (He used his turn signal) I know.
Me:  Kyle, you’re going to run off the road if you don’t go even slower and tighten your turn.
Kyle:  I’m good.
Me:  We’re going off the road.
Kyle ran off the road mid turn into the grass.  No damage but I did give him a look of listen next time.
Kyle: Oh, I guess we’re off the road.
Me:  Umm (I wasn’t mad in the slightest, infact I started to laugh at his funny expression)
Kyle chuckled and did as I instructed to give a little gas as to not dig up the grass.  He got back on the road and continued.

We ended up doing a couple loops around the cemetery.  The second, he clearly showed more confidence and skill.  He did a great job.  I even had him pull onto the road and drive into my parents driveway.  More to come regarding Kyle driving.

Friday, April 15, 2017 – Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fishing Derby Prizes 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle hanging out with cousins at the Planinsek Fishing Derby, waiting for the prizes. 5/13/2017

Easter weekend.  We actually got Kyle on Friday, which was a nice surprise.  Me, Dad and Kyle caught up on our Fast & Furious movies, watching the marathon on television.  True to Kyle, he turned out all the lights to create the optimum movie watching environment.  It was a nice relaxing evening.  My sister came in late Friday night with Acorn.  The house was alive with activity.

On Saturday, we got up early for the first day of fishing.  Me, Dad and Kyle went to Kingston to fish our limit in trout.  We caught a few rainbows but mostly brook trout.  I was stuck cleaning a majority of the fish.  Kyle did lend a delicate hand, but he’s still not a fan of guts and blood and reluctantly assisted.  Dad sat there and critiqued my fish gutting abilities.  Although, I’ll give Dad credit, he did scale the rainbow.

Fishing was a blast, I saw Kyle smile and enjoy himself on a number of occasions.  He even put his phone away to focus.

Planinsek Fishing Derby Kyle Fishing 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

My fisherman! My job was to catch the fish & bait the hook. Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

Funny story.  Dad caught this HUGE trout, I mean BIG.  I’m surprised it didn’t break his pole.  We added the fish to our cooler of ice along with the other catches.

Kyle happened to be standing by the cooler when all of a sudden the monster sized fish, that was on ice for at least fifteen minutes, tried to make its escape.  The fish jumped out of the cooler.  (Yes the lid was closed and it still was able to project itself out) Kyle jumped.  He thought I threw something at the cooler, I was startled, thinking Kyle knocked the cooler over.  Dad focused on his fishing and only gave us a curious glance.  When Kyle looked down to see the behemoth fish flopping around, the truth dawned on us.  We looked at each other in shock and began laughing.  Kyle’s hands were full, I believe he was reeling in another trout, so I scooped up the slimy vertebrate and placed it back in the cooler.  It was a great fishing day!  (Secret: I’m still the worst fisherman in the family.  Dad remains at number one and Kyle is a close second.  I’m by far last, even after Nicole.)

Later, after we cleaned up and ate, Nicole, me and Kyle went to the movies to continue where we left off the night before with The Fate of the Furious, the most recent movie.

Earlier, I cornered Nicole to suggest we leave early and head to the cemetery for a little more practice in a different vehicle.  I said, “Just pull into the cemetery and don’t say anthing.”  Nicole giggled and was excited to join in on this milestone.

Once Nicole put the car in park, Kyle smiled knowing what she had in mind.  Without insidence Kyle changed seats with his Aunt.  I was in the backseat like Driving Miss Daisy.  In fact, Kyle seemed exctied to be practicing.  He did better than before and Nicole’s SUV is a lot bigger than mine.  Great practice.

We had a good time at the movies.  Hearing Kyle laugh out loud totally cracked me up.  His humor lights up my world even in the middle of a dark movie theater.  Those moments are most precious to me.  He has a great laugh.  It reminds me of his Dad’s.  Even the way he rolls his eyes, or grins, I see Ryan.

Kyle Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle at his spring concert sporting a tuxedo! Handsome guy. 5/2/2017

Would you believe Kyle ordered his usual, the Miss Piggy sandwich?  It’s nice to see some things never change.  He is definitely a creature of habit.  Now I have to get him out of the habit of ignoring us and we’re all set.

Once Sunday rolled around we went to church and came home to grub up.  Kyle stayed for most of the day before asking to leave.  I took him home.

While heading out to the driveway, I ran past him and darted for the passenger side.  Kyle stood there stunned.  He said, “I can’t drive all the way home.”  Oh, goodness no.  I told him I wasn’t suicidal.  I wanted him to practice backing out of the driveway.  If he can master mom and dad’s driveway and then my Uncle Walter’s, he was good to go in reverse.

While backing out, he snaked the straight path slightly, but overall did a great job.  On the one side of the driveway is the front yard, no big deal.  However, on the other side, it slopes down into my Uncle’s field.  To reassure Kyle in case of a lapse in reverse judgement, I said, “Don’t worry, if you go down over the bank, you won’t be the first, Pappy did it with the Honda once.”  That cracked me up and Kyle seemed relieved.  He tried to use the turnaround at the bottom of the driveway, but I wouldn’t let him.  I wanted him to get a feel for looking both ways, pulling out onto the road and not running into the ditch.  He drove us partially off the ridge back to the cemetery where we changed roles.

On our ride home I busted out laughing.  Curious, he asked, what?  I said, “You back up better than your Aunt Nikki.”  He found humor in that very true statement.  My sister backs out of the driveway live she’s trying to purposly miss the road, and she’s been practicing since before she was sixteen.  I guess she’s pretty consistent too.

Another true to form, Kyle fell asleep in the car.  He did that as a young tyke and is taking up the habit again.  I don’t mind.  I’m still hanging out with him, even if he is unconscience.

May

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kyle smiling at band concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle trying not to smile Spring Band Concert. Great job buddy! 5/2/2017

About mid-day, I get a call from mom telling me Kyle called and he had a band concert that evening at school, which is over an hour away.  A little inconvenient, but I was excited he called to inform us, knowing I’d be upset if I missed it.

I shut down work early, canceled my evening plans and got ready.

Kyle was first tuba chair!  What a pleasant surprise.  AND he was wearing a tuxedo!  He looked so handsome, I just wanted to squeeze him and never let go.  (That would have been when hell froze over, the day Kyle would let me do that, especially in front of all his friends and their parents.)

I enjoyed the evening of music and special honors for the seniors.  I came home with a permanent smile on my face.  Seeing Kyle simply made me happy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

First Day of Fishing Kyle & Dad Aunt Heather Piper 4-16-17

Kingston fishing for the first day, Dad & Kyle leading the way. 4/16/2017

Mother’s Day, which also marks the weekend of the Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby.  The kids are permitted to fish from sixteen years and younger.  Kyle has one more year.

He didn’t want to stop up for the bonfire on Friday night but requested we be there for 7:00 am breakfast.  I believe we made it by 7:30 am since Kyle had a hard time getting up.  He is certainly going through a growth spirt and he needs to learn to go to bed earlier.

He had a nice time fishing and playing dodge ball with the kids.  I enjoyed socializing and relaxing.

At the end, they fill picnic tables of toys and stuff for the kids.  I wasn’t sure if Kyle wanted me to purchase him tickets or not, so I did.  The first couple of times Kyle’s name was called, he took a variety of items, then he began to give away his turns to his cousins, Grant, Olivia, Piper, Owen, Lilia, Hailie, Mattox, Caleia and Kelsey.  That was nice seeing Kyle think of them.  Not only that, he also walked each child up to the table to help them pick out a prize.  Kyle’s a good kid.

Another funny story.  Kyle insisted he wasn’t going to be cold, even though it was chilly in the morning and the ridge is always colder.  Just in case, I packed an extra hoodie, socks and a change of cloths for Kyle.  Next thing I know, I saw Kyle zipping up the extra hoodie, that is until the sun peaked around noon.  When it comes to dressing and preparing for the weather, he never listens.

Monday, May 29, 2017
Memorial’s Day.  I was asked to chaperon the parade in Vandergrift for Kiski Marching Band.  Looking forward to seeing Kyle, everyone was asking me where he was.  I honestly had no idea.  I texted him and surprisingly he anwered me back.  He was sick.  I felt bad and offered to bring him ice-cream.  He declined.  I missed him terrribly.

June

June 25, 2017 – June 29, 2017

Kyle Playing in Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle playing the tuba at his spring band concert. Lead chair! 5/2/2017

This was Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun trip.  Where to?  Iceland.  Kyle seemed pretty excited, or at least as excited as he gets.  Nicole said they had a great time but it was cold.

Another funny story.  Kyle is notorious for not being prepared for the weather, specifically the cold, as mentioned above.  Before he left I asked him, “Are you good with packing?  Did you need me to get you anything?  Did you pack a pair of jeans and hoodie?”  Kyle’s entire response, “I’m good.”  Of course you are…

Nicole said when they got there it was around 40 degrees and the wind made it colder.  She said it was at that moment Kyle, who was obviously shivering (although he would never admit to it) informed her that he didn’t bring pants, only shorts.  Are you kidding me buddy?  You were going to ICELAND.  I’m guessing the irony had no effect on him. Nicole took our frozen package shopping and spent a lot of money to keep him comfortable.  I guess we’ll forever have a funny story.

When they got back, Nicole told us about the unplanned shopping trip.  I looked at Kyle half joking and said, “You suck at packing and being prepared.”  Kyle shrugged his shoulders.  He didn’t care.  I suppose I’m okay with him not sweating the small stuff and I guess shopping for jeans was minor.

Over the course of the weekend, Nicole and Kyle shared stories about their adventures.  I’ve always been happy to see Kyle explore the world and enjoy life.  He definitely has the Piper travel bug.  A good quality to have.

July

Spring Concert Band Booklet 5-2-2017 Aunt Heather PiperNow my rough timeline brings me up to last week.  Kyle, my Mr. Traveler, was at Northwestern University.  Yes, the college on the other side of Chicago.  Why was he there when he’s going to be junior in high school?  He’s smart.

Proudly, Kyle was informed that he was selected to represent Kiski at the National Student Leadership Council.  Way to go buddy!  Because of his interest in engineering, they outlined a select number of schools with that focus to include: Northwestern, UCLA, California at Berkley, Harvard Medical (biotechnology), Yale, Georgia Tech, Rice, American, Georgetown.

Kyle chose Northwestern.  Why?  I have no idea.  The last I heard he was thinking about Georgetown.  I would have chosen Yale or Harvard.  Why not?

Kyle got to spend a week on campus touring the facilities and studying his chosen specialty.  At the end he was to recieve a certificate of achievement and a letter of recommendation.  How cool is that?

I tried calling him to see how it went.  Nothing.  Crickets.  I hope he had a wonderful time.  What a great experience.

Well, those are some of the highlights for the first half of the year.  I also did some traveling to Salt Lake City, but only for work, nothing too exciting.  This week begins Kyle’s week long celebration for his birthday.  I hope I get to spend some good quality time with him. He’s a good egg and I love him to pieces.

Spring Concert Band Cover Booket 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

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

Don’t Judge, Everyone Has Scars – Part 2

The past beats inside me like a second heart.  ~John Banville

Pap-Ryan-on-Front-Porch-c.-1979-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan & his beloved pap sitting on Pap’s porch on the ridge. Pap only had one prosthetic leg at this point. (left) c. 1979

Previously, I talked about not judging a situation and forgiving those that do.  Everyone Has Scars, Don’t Judge Part 1  Again, easier said than done.  I know.  What’s really upsetting though, or even worse in my opinion, are those that believe they don’t judge or judge others for judging.  Yikes!  Come on.  No one’s perfect.  NO ONE!  I do try to avoid such actions in general, but it’s something I need to work on too, for I’m not perfect.  It’s an ugly human behavior that needs to be addressed to be avoided and corrected.

I don’t mean to bring a heavy topic on such a beautiful Thursday, although slightly chilly, but perhaps this will get everyone thinking differently this weekend and change behaviors for the better.  In fact, I was so inspired by a friend of mine who commented on my previous post that I wanted to share it.

“Instead of judging, wouldn’t it be nice if people offered up a smile?  Or to help in little ways?”

YES!  Excellent ideas!  Since we’re in the lenten season, a time of penance and reflectance, I think this might be a step in the right direction to being a better person.  I know me personally, I will try to offer up more smiles and lend assistance when needed!  I LOVE THESE IDEAS!

Now time for an example.  Not too long ago, we ran into my third grade teacher at Saint Vincent Church, for Sunday mass.  Kyle had the privilege of meeting one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had!  (Kyle’s met her on a number of occasions but alas he was just a little tyke.)  One that I still respect and appreciate to this day.  (I’ll keep her name anonymous in case she’s not comfortable being on my blog.  I never asked permission.)  Unfortunately, when I reminisce on that part of my life, third grade, I can’t help but remember what happened to Ryan that very year.

The day started before school, early morning.  Ryan was in first grade, Nicole in fifth and I in third, at Sacred Heart School.  I believe it was spring, with the school year coming to an end, hence the reasoning for our hyperactive morning.  We were running around simply being silly.  I believe the situation initiated with Ryan or Nicole locking me out the front door, or threatening to do so.  Why?  Why not.  We were kids enjoying a bit of energy release before heading to school on a pleasant morning.

Ultimately, I had it in my head to retaliate and lock Ryan outside.  I clearly remember mom was on the phone trying to quiet us while she conversed, probably to another PTA mom.  Eventually, I succeeded in locking Ryan on the opposite side of the door as myself.  I was on the inside.  So what does a first grader do who was tricked and forced to the front porch by his older sister?  He knocks on the door with his fists, demanding reentry, of course.  Nicole, yelled at me, naturally taking Ryan’s side.  Please keep in mind, I realize I was not the initial instigator in this situation, but I certainly was guilty of continuing it.  

To add to the taunting, I stood directly in front of the door, which at the time had glass panels running from the top to the base.  Also note, this was an older door, with equally as old glass panes, each measuring about two feet wide by about eight inches height.  While taunting Ryan by waving through the small windows, he continued to pound on the bearer that separated us.  Just before I was actually going to unlock the door and run, it happened.  Something I didn’t anticipate or even considered.  Ryan pounded not on the solid wood door frame, but on a single flimsy glass panel with both hands.  In a single moment, I was faced with glass flying in my direction, and Ryan’s hands protruding through the door. 

Ryan-Nicole-Christmas-early-1990s-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Ryan & Nicole Christmas … look at Ryan’s bony legs! I have no idea what’s in Nicole’s hand, but mom’s on the couch behind Ryan. I must have taken the picture because Ryan & I got her something funny. c. 1990’s

Instinctively, Ryan withdrew his hands, at the same time I looked around making sense of the mess.  My only concern?  The idea of me getting in trouble for the broken window.  Glass was shattered all over the kitchen floor, and the once whole glass panel, was now a voided rectangle with jagged shards of sharp glass protruding from the edges inward.  No one, not even Ryan, had a clue to the extent of the situation.  Not even my sister, who didn’t waste any time yelling in my ear, in stead of evaluating the scene and offering assistance.

Was I injured by the flying glass?  Nope.  Perhaps a scratch on the leg, but nothing to keep me down. Ryan on the other hand was not doing well, except the adrenaline was keeping him from feeling pain.  Either when his hands went through the glass, or upon retracting them, probably both, his wrists scrapped the edges of the sharp shards, slicing them up.  Ouch!  Within minutes I saw blood dripping from the glass.  Eventually my eyes made their way to Ryan and his wrists, were the blood was flowing freely.

My mom, who was still on the phone, had no idea what just happened.  Leave it to my sister to get mom’s attention and in the same process tattle on me.  She reminds me of Kyle!  There was a lot of yelling going on, all from my sister and mom, Ryan and I remained quite.  After reality settled in, Ryan may have shed a few tears, but certainly no whaling.  I’m not sure who mom was talking to but I know they were met with a dead line, when mom realized what happened and simply hung up.

Time went from slow motion as the glass flew, to high speed ending in a lot of blood, in a matter of seconds, matching my heartbeat.  Mom ran straight for Ryan, who stood in shock.  She’s never been a fan of blood, not the ideal candidate to deal with this terrible accident.  To assist with the bleeding and probably to cover up the wounds, mom ran to the bathroom, grabbed a towel and wrapped both wrists in the terrycloth.  Ryan pressed both wrists together against the towel to control the bleeding.  Mom yelled again, yes mom yells when things are fine, but she has more of a knack for yelling, especially in stressful situations.  What did she say?  I have no idea.  Something along the lines that Nicole and I were to go to my cousin Karen’s house down the road.  Our normal routine was to walk to Karen’s and pick up my other cousins, and walk to school as a group.  We did so minus Ryan.

The rest of the day, was a blur.  I really felt bad for my brother, even telling my third grade teacher, yes the one I saw recently in church, about the entire morning.  She was so since and caring, in fact all the teachers heard about the accident by mid-day.  I know I shed a few tears for Ryan, especially as the day unfolded and we heard no word from mom.  Later that day, we either had an assembly in the cafeteria (which also housed our stage) or we were practicing for our spring musical, either way, everyone was gathered in the cafeteria when mom finally arrived with Ryan.  Finally!

He was sporting two wrists wrapped with stark white surgical tape.  I never thought about it at the time, but he did resemble someone who tried to slit his wrists.  The result?  Ryan had to go into immediate surgery to repair the nerve damage to his wrists.  They weren’t sure if he would regain complete feeling in that area again.  However, they seemed certain he would have functionality.  Seriously?  Yes!  All because a couple of kids were screwing around and it was a nice morning?  Unfortunately, yes.

Chad-Ryan-hanging-at-Grams-Apartment-1990's-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Chad & Ryan hanging at Grams apartments. c. 1990’s

Eventually, Ryan healed up, sort of.  He was able to use his hands without incidence and hunting or fishing was never an issue.  Great!  However, his wrists told a different story.  For the remainder of his short life, his wrists were permanently decorated with laceration scars, and one wrist had no feeling at all.  How do I know?  Ryan would demonstrate the lack of nerve sensation under the scars by grabbing the skin and twisting it and turning it, without pain!  His nerves on the skin were damaged and never healed.

Over the years, as we got older, I heard some folks ask Ryan about the scars, wondering if he tried to commit suicide and slit his wrists.  Seriously?  YES!  Okay, I’ll admit, I can see that deduction, but totally wrong assumption.  Ryan was always goodhearted about the accusation.  He never got bad, in fact he would give a little chuckle before explaining.  It used to bother me a little, but since Ryan never really gave two figs about what others thought, I didn’t either.  As a well trained circus act, he would demonstrate the lack of nerves in those areas, and give a brief for them.  That always made me wonder, how many others thought Ryan tried slicing his wrists, but never said a word and just assumed.

I know very well no one can control the thoughts of anothers.  And I don’t know which is better, the curious (nosy) person who asks up front, or the one or never brings up his or her thoughts?  Regardless, there’s always at least two explanations for a situation, but the correct one it’s not always the most obvious.  Ryan and I both carried scars from that single morning, only Ryan’s were visible.

Read other entries:

Everyone Has Scars, Don’t Judge Part 1

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

My Senior Art Exhibit at Seton Hill University – ARTsylum

To me the purpose of art is to produce something alive…but with a separate, and of course one hopes, with an everlasting life of its own.  ~Henry Green

ARTsylum-Poster-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2005

My ARTsylum poster from our Senior Show at Seton Hill University in Harlan Gallery – Design by Josh Simon & Mike Sloskey 4/2005

With all the graduation parties and celebrations going on, it brings back a memory of my own.  How many graduations have I had?  Well, there was my sixth grade graduation, which wasn’t a graduation as per say but Sacred Heart did have a ceremony for us acknowledging our next milestone.  Then, there was my high school graduation from Greater Latrobe High School.  Yep, I wore my cap and gown as I walked across the stage to collect my high school diploma.

On a side note, I was really sick and didn’t even want to go.  I actually had walking phenomena and had a hard time breathing.  I was just plain miserable, although collecting that diploma was a very good feeling!

Then, there was the first time I graduated from Seton Hill University, at the time it was still the college.  That’s when I received my Bachelors of Arts in Marketing Management.  Only a few short years later, I received another degree, this time a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, again from Seton Hill University.

I guess this story is about the later, my second degree.  Going through the business program and then the art program, I quickly realized how completely different they were.  Besides the obvious of the different personalities of the students and the teachers, but the atmosphere, the assignments, the approach to assignments, the stress, all totally different.  I didn’t enjoy one degree over the other, for they were of equal importance to me.  Now looking back on it, exactly equal importance, I use them both in tandem on a daily basis.

ARTsylum-Senior-Show-Aunt-Heather-Piper-4-24-05

The ARTsylum crew .. Mike Sloskey, Albert Nimley, Heather Piper, Josh Simon, our senior show, closing reception in Harlan Gallery at Seton Hill University 4/24/05

Kyle may not have remembered, but he was there at my senior show.  Granted, he was a little munchkin, but as with all important moments in my life, Kyle was there.

Graduating from the art program, we were required to have a senior show.  It was a big deal!  Not only to the students who were displaying there very best work, but to those students and facility who perused the gallery shows upon the conclusion of every year.  Not to mention friends and family of said students.   Yes, it truly was very exciting, especially since that was my first and last art exhibit, ever.

Please note, all my references to the senior art show was from way back in my day.  I’m sure the requirements have changed since my days at Seton Hill.

Kyle's-Knee-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2004

One of my favorite black & white photography pieces I’ve ever done … Kyle’s knee (literally there was no injury, just a band-aid -2003) It was hung in Harlan Gallery at Seton Hill during my senior show – ARTsylum 4/2005

We were allowed to request a solo show, whereas the student had the entire gallery as well as the back room to display their work.  This was usually reserved for those who majored in painting or drawing and over the years compiled enough artwork for an entire gallery.  Some students had the option for a partial solo show, whereas they were given the back section of the gallery to themselves.  I believe with both requests, they had to be submitted in advance to be reviewed by the facility, either approved or disapproved.

The most popular senior show consisted of three or four seniors, usually of like disciplines, combining forces to create one big gallery show.  That’s the option I chose.  I was very blessed with my group, for I had three great guys join forces with me: Mike Sloskey, a graphic design major; Josh Simon another graphic design major; and Albert Nimley a studio arts major (or something along those lines).  All wonderful and very talented gentlemen!

How did I get so lucky?  We were standing in the gallery during class with our professor Carol Brode, she simply asked for us to pick our senior show group.  I was standing in close proximity to Mike and Josh, who I had many a classes with, being graphic designers.  Somehow Albert, who I believe was friends with the guys, joined forces with us.  The rest was sheer awesomeness.

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I’m saving the cake that Mike’s parents got us for our closing reception of ARTsylum, our senior show at Seton Hill University. Kyle was ready to dive right in! 4/24/05

When you decide to partake in a show with someone, you not only need great art pieces for the presentation, but you really need good communication skills; the ability to compromise and work with different personalities; a shared vision of the show; and a respect for one another.  It’s not just hanging pictures on the wall, there’s so much more to it.

First, as an individual, you have to pick out your best artwork from the course of four years.  Usually, these pieces were completed within recent times.  The artwork could be one or a mixture of paintings, drawings, ceramics, video, photography, 3-D pieces and websites, etc.  Some students would create pieces or perform a  theatrical display specific for their show.  The professors at Seton Hill were wonderful about assisting in this process, giving suggestions and guidance the entire way.

Even before combining forces with your fellow show exhibitioners, the group collectively needed to agree upon a theme or a title for the show.  Ours?  ARTsylum.  Yes, our theme was CRAZY.   We felt we had such an eclectic assortment of pieces and talents it was like a mad house, or because we loved art so much.  I can’t remember the reasoning, but together we loved the idea, which I think was Josh’s.  Going above and beyond to carry the theme down to the tiny details, we even called around different hospitals looking for a real straight jacket!  Our plan was to be photographed wearing the jacket for our marketing materials, posters and such.

Did I really call the hospitals and ask to borrow a straight jacket?  You bet I did!  Alas, I was told that I was insensitive to those suffering with mental illness.  Needless to say, we were denied!  Clearly they didn’t see our vision, for we were not making fun of others, but celebrating our own group and our passion for art.

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ARTsylum Cake for closing reception .. courtesy of Mike Sloskey’s parents! 4/24/05

Which brings me to my next item, the pre-show set up.  You just can’t walk into the gallery and decide to start setting up.  Nope!  We had to pick our dates (shows lasted for a week) and our reception, either opening or closing.  We chose a closing reception.

There are many, many requirements involved in a show.  We had to construct a press release (which I can’t find) and actually have it sent to the local papers alerting the interested public.  I wrote ours with the help of the guys, and yes it was published, however I don’t believe I ever kept the newspaper clipping.  We also had to create posters and flyers advertising the event.  All four of us plastered Seton Hill with our ARTsylum faces!  I believe it was a mixture of Josh and Mike who designed the posters and flyers.  I know Josh was the one who photoshoped us in our straight jackets.  Yes we found a solution to our vision!  Photoshop!

Keeping with the theme, we each made our own postcards, naturally with us in our straightjackets.  These were to be sent to anyone we wanted to personally invite.  It was exciting talking to friends and family upon receiving the invites.  It started to make it real.

Now the even harder part, hauling all the art into the gallery and organizing it into some sort of show, with everyone represented equally.  There are many, many ways to do this, we chose to categorize by medium i.e. paintings, clay, photography, graphics etc.  With each category, at least three of us were represented, except ceramics.  I was the only one who had clay pieces and books.  They were placed on pedestals in the middle of the gallery.  On the same token, I was the only one who wasn’t represented in the paintings section.  I had nothing that I cared to display, clay was more my passion.

We started on a Saturday night to get a jump start, deciding to work all day Sunday for our opening on Monday.  Quickly we agreed how things were going to be set up and we started to organize the sections, allowing enough room to house all the pieces.  Believe it or not, that was really tricky, deciding what was to be seen first as someone walks in, and making the space in some sort of logical fashion, within each section.  We did get creative by hanging things from the ceiling since we had so many pieces.  It also helped to pull the eye around the room and fill in the space.

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The ARTsylum invites … You’d by Crazy to miss it! Josh Simon, Mike Sloskey, Heather Piper, Albert Nimely. Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill University. 4/2005

Seton Hill was very open and encouraging toward the artists with respect to what was permitted in the gallery.  If we wanted to paint the walls fuchsia for our theme, we could have.  The only requirement was the gallery had to be returned to its original state for the next group upon tearing down.

During the process, I decided to make a video documentary with the four of us.  My logic?  It certainly wasn’t to give myself more work with my already full schedule, but simply to create a single piece representing each individual that was collectively ours.  Anyway, that was the idea behind the documentary.  Throughout our senior show, I tried to capture all aspects including the final show.  To give it some personality, I had each of us read our artist statements, which was another class requirement.  The guys were encouraged to help me by picking up the video camera and shooting at anything and joining in on the screen.  Albert made the music track for the background.  Sister Mary Kay was wonderful at helping me export the video.

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Opening day of the ARTsylum exhibit at Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill University. In front, Mike Sloskey, Josh Simon, me, & Albert Nimely 4/18/05

After putting in a long night on Saturday, it was agreed upon by all parties to call it a wrap and come back fresh in the morning to finish setting up.

To deviate slightly, that night I received a call as I was leaving, that Kyle was in the Latrobe emergency room.  He was really sick and even later into the night, he was life flighted to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.  I’ll tell that tale later, for it was purely exhausting, mostly mentally.

I did finally get back to the gallery sometime late Sunday night, after Kyle was taken out of ICU.  My group was wonderful, they took it upon themselves to continue setting up as they saw fit.  They did a great job!  Unfortunately, at the time my cell phone was dead so I had no communication with them and they had no idea what happened to me, for it was totally out of my character to be late, and really late at that, and not to communicate my absence.  Yes, all night long I was sitting with a little boy of three years old in the ICU.  Not getting a wink of sleep, I went straight to the gallery after returning from Pittsburgh to join ARTsylum crew.  Naturally, I owed them all a big explanation and an apology.  They were very understanding!

During the final hours, it was a race to the finish, even getting into the gallery early Monday morning for the final touches.  Everyone was responsible for printing labels for each piece of artwork, having the pieces matted and or framed or mounted, that sort of thing.  Believe it or not, that’s an undertaking in itself, naming the art piece, outlining the medium and any other information desired for the public to read, plus having the piece prepped and ready for display.

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me, Josh Simon & Mike Sloskey – opening of ARTsylum at Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill University. 4/18/05

Now some details about the show.  We used mismatched large and small nails to hang the photography pieces, which were placed at odd angles and bent haphazardly, keeping with the asylum theme.  I purchased large white sheets and hung them in the windows looking into the gallery, giving it a feeling of confinement.  We also ripped up a sheet and tied the strips into one long strand with huge knots.  It was to represent the stereotypical someone trying to escape a hospital.  It started at our easel, which displayed the ARTsylum poster promoting the show, and ran all the way outside down the sidewalk, to greet anyone entering the gallery and lead them in.  I took the same fabric and created a cover to our sign-in book.  That same torn fabric was also used to hang items from the ceiling and to set the stage with the mannequins.  I was very impressed with the details we added to the show!

We did it!  The doors opened to a line of friends, family and facility excited to see what we put together and what each artist created over the years at Seton Hill, and naturally how it was displayed.  I enjoyed every stressful and fun moment, especially with my group!  They truly made it something special and not a burden.  It was well worth it, but I’m not sure I’d ever want to go through that again.

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Josh Simon & Mike Sloskey relaxing after setting up the ARTsylum senior show in Harlan Gallery, Seton Hill University 4/18/05

We did have a closing reception as I mentioned before.  Mike’s parents bought us a cake complete with images of us in our straight jackets, keeping the theme going!  Seton Hill supplied some of the appetizers.  My entire family came that Sunday to see what I’ve been working on.  My sister even flew in for the occasion.  Even my little man, who was fresh out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, made his brief appearance.  I couldn’t have had my gallery show without him there.  After all, he was my muse for all my black and white photography!

Unfortunately, I don’t do art anymore and I’m kind of out of the art loop.  Yes, I do graphics, but that’s more commercial.  Maybe one day I’ll get back into throwing clay.  Until then, I have taken up another creative outlet, writing!  Not only do I keep up with my blog, but I’ve also written a book and started the second.  Perhaps I will get it published one day.

Please view my documentary piece, included are some bloopers as well as the beginning of the art show and the final exhibit.  I wish I had the raw files to re-edit it, for I could do a much better job, but it served its purpose of documenting us.  What a great time!  Enjoy!

You may need to copy and past the link since Youtube is not pulling the correct video. Frustrating!      youtu.be/UMXcKgJuh8s

 

 

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,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.

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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

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

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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.)

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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

Sweet Sounds of Music

Where words leave off, music begins.  ~Heinrich Heine

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Kyle’s 7th grade band recital. My little trumpet player (yes when he stood up, that clip on tie came to the middle of his chest!) Yikes! 2013

On Sunday Kyle had his youth group Christmas play.  His role?  The light man of course.  Yep!  He stood at the light switch and turned it off and on.  Remember there are no small parts and everyone has a role to play, just like life.  Everyone can’t be the star and in Kyle’s case, over the years he played a shepherd and one of the kings.  He had his fill and wanted to participate backstage.  Nothing wrong with that!  He did a great job!  Even with his not-so-center-0f-stage-role, Kyle attended all the practices and always gave his best.  That’s my buddy, if he’s going to do something, he will give it his all.

As I was sitting there, watching the kids get situated and ready to perform for their parents, a family friend, who was also Kyle’s second grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs. DePalma (Kyle loved her to death!) came over to me to chit chat.  On a side note, Mrs. DePalma is such a sincere, friendly, warmhearted person!  The kind who instantly spreads joy and good cheer to everyone around her.  Knowing her is a true blessing.  Her one daughter Angie, married one of my cousins.  So I guess we are related!

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Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle was the lighting technician. 1/5/13

Anyway, as we sat there talking, she informed me that she just talked to Kyle, admitting she drew a blank with his name, as he did with hers.  Too cute!  I’m sure Kyle was thrown off his game, since he always did like and respected Mrs. DePalma, and she gave him the little extra attention he craved.  She asked me what role Kyle was playing and we both giggled a little at our lighting technician.

As we sat there, I noticed they had a keyboard set up to play music throughout the play.  I commented that Kyle could have played a few songs.  Mrs. DePalma was intrigued asking me about his piano playing.  Naturally, like a proud mama (aunt) I told her, “He’s been playing the piano since he was six years old.”  Her eyes perked up and she was really impressed.  So I continued, “Yep, he’s really pretty good.  He doesn’t have the drive to practice at home, but he loves playing with is instructor and in front of family.”  Then, I informed her that he briefly took up the guitar and he plays the trumpet in school.  Of course, I couldn’t stop.  Normally, I don’t like bragging, well that’s not true when it comes to Kyle, but I couldn’t help myself.  Informing Mrs. DePalma that Kyle is in band class at his school, and he tried out and made it for jazz band.  Her face lit up!  And you know what?  It was in all sincerity and pride.  She loves to see kids doing well, not to mention she new Ryan and she knows what Kyle means to us.  (Her daughter Angie, the one I just referred to, was in Ryan’s class all the way from Sacred Heart Elementary School to Greater Latrobe High School graduation).

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Kyle playing the trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. (look how short that clip on tie is? YIKES!) 2013

Kyle is musically talented, there is no denying it.  Now, I’m not saying he is a musical genius or a child prodigy, because he’s not.   But he does enjoy music, always has, and he seems to enjoy playing (except when I make him practice).

This past fall, Kyle had a band assembly at his school and mom and I attended.  One another side note, Kyle just expects us to be there at a moments notice.  He called us the day of the event, two hours before hand to be exact, and informed us of the activity.  On Kyle’s defense I guess he told my dad, but that’s like telling Kyle.   No fear, mom and I were there!  It was held in the school’s gym and the seventh and eighth grade students performed as well as their high school marching band.  You know what?  I was quite impressed!

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Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle handled the lights! 1/5/13

First of all, Kyle had on a nice pressed white button down shirt (sleeves rolled to the elbows), nice dress slacks, black socks, black dress shoes and a black tie.  Mom and I were floored!  He looked so grown up!  The only comment we both made was his tie.  It stopped at the middle of his chest.  Yikes!  It looked ridiculous.  So I made my way down to the horn section to offer assistance with the tie tying, thinking it just needs retied.  Low and behold, it was a clip-on tie!  What?  Ok, no point in making it into a bid deal, especially since the rest of him looked spot on.  As to not break the positive comments toward Kyle, I will not get into our shopping experience during Christmas for a real tie, not a clip-on.  I’ll save that one for a rainy day.

As we left, mom mentioned about buying the kid a nice tie.  Good idea mom!  However, we forgot until his next assembly right before Christmas.  Now it was too late!  This assembly was held in their auditorium and the kids were on stage.  While mom and I got settled in, we read over the program book.  Funny thing.  Kyle’s name had an asterisk by it.   We both looked at each other and at the same time said, “What did he do?” half joking.

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Kyle playing trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. Look’in good! 2013

Mom and I were front and center, focused on Kyle.  As the program began and we started intently watching the kid.  He did something too comical, not intentionally.  As he started to play, that little man dropped his sheet music and he began to scramble to retrieve it.  Mom and I gave a bit of a chuckle since it was too cute.  Plus, let’s not forget his lack of flexibility reaching for the pieces of paper while sitting and trying not to disturb his neighbors, all while trying to continue to play.   Yep!  He’s definitely my nephew!

After the kids in his grade played a few tunes, they gathered the jazz band to the side of the stage.  Incidentally, the same side mom and I were residing.  Boy we know how to pick our seats!

Kyle completely ignored us the entire way through, which is fine because besides being too cool to have an aunt and a grandmother (Gigi) I know he gets nervous.

Both assemblies were very impressive, especially the marching band for the earlier musical assembly.  It’s funny, we never knew Kyle was in the jazz band.  Now don’t get me wrong, he did a great job!  I could also tell he seemed to enjoy it.  It wasn’t till after his second assembly, did we find out that he had to audition for said activity.  Wow!  That’s great buddy!  Good job!

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7th grade – Kyle playing the trumpet … looking good, staying focused!   Also looks like that kid is holding onto the sheet music!  2013

Kyle, that kid never ceases to amaze and impress me.  He is also surprising, in all good ways.  Apparently, he is planning on joining the marching band when he’s older.  Being very ecstatic over this comment, I told him I’ll be a band parent (aunt)!  Ya, Kyle just rolled his eyes and was like ‘O boy’.   I ensured him it would be a great time and I’d make it really fun.  Plus, if they don’t do band trips, I’ll help to get those kids traveling.  That didn’t entice him, at ALL!  We’ll see.

I am really happy he found his interest, and that it’s in music!  I hope it’s very rewarding for him!

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

One Month Flew By – Time Does Fly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothings Better Than a Great Personality!

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.  ~Bruce Lee

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Ethan Kramer & Kyle playing SpyRing Both boys are such characters! c. 2010

Okay, there are other traits that are equally as important as a great personality, but not many.  A great personality can get you further in life, I really do believe that wholeheartedly.  Sure, you need to be intelligent and your moral compass needs to point north, but I believe having great charisma is the key.  Usually, this goes hand-in-hand with good social skills and communication skills and I know it’s a stretch, but leadership skills.

Some people were just blessed with a double dose of great personality, who are easy to converse with and are witty.  Then, there are those who seemed to have missed out altogether and were blessed with other great qualities, personality not being one of them.

Why a dissertation on great personalities?  As Kyle grows, his personality strengthens and is really shaping his character.  And you know what?  He has the best personality!  It’s a little sarcastic, a little bit of humor, intelligence mixed with a little bit of “knuckleheadedness” and most importantly, sincere and respectfulness.  Kyle has a good, scratch that, GREAT personality!

Now, this isn’t a news flash, by no stretch.  Kyle’s personality has always been strong, even as a tiny little baby, but it’s neat watching him mature and grow.  Our little man has blessed us in so many ways and I am very thankful he has such a strong personality.  I would love him the same if he was a slug, but it sure does make life more interesting with his sense of humor.

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A screen shot of my twitter feed… 10/2012

Last weekend, I seemed to pick up on his humorous side more than normal because it seemed like every time I turned around, that kid was cracking me up.  We went to see Thor 2:  The Dark World.  Funny movie!  Kyle and I both picked up on all the subtle and not so subtle humor in the movie.  Love it!  That kid understands and appreciates humor and sarcasm and playful words.  It made the movie that much better!  If you want to know how Kyle and I are similar, that’s it!  So I guess it helps we get each other.

Perhaps, Kyle was giggling so much, just out of sheer exhaustion.  You see he earned that movie It’s Called Hard Work For A Reason.  Not to mention, early Saturday morning and the better part of the day, dad had us clean out his garage, getting ready for hunting season.  Regardless of the reason, hanging with Kyle is fun and almost addictive, unless we’re talking about whining.   Then you just want to run!

It was a busy weekend.  On Sunday morning before church, we went to the gun range to shoot in our rifles one last time before New York hunting.  Even while Kyle was knocking down the bowling pins (shooting mine) he was full of spirit.  Especially, after dad suggested that they swing by Dunkin Donuts to pick up a sweet treat.  I did not participate, but I gave a one donut blessing.

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Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Hardwoods Picnic. My little man! 2004

Between Kyle spending time with my parents, practicing his piano and playing with his Legos, we had a whirl wind of activities.  Then, let’s not forget we were scheduled to join in on the hayride at Stoner Farm for Kyle’s youth group.  The hayride was scheduled for 6:30 pm, which means it was dark.  Being somewhere out by the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, finding one specific dark farm among many fields and farms was a bit difficult.  Once we found the road to take us back to the bonfire and hay wagon, we drove on.  We continued back on the road, and back and back and back.  Until we noticed, we were driving in the field!  We must have missed our turn.  Kyle found the situation to be the funniest thing ever!  He was laughing so hard, as I’m dodging major potholes and ruts in the field, that I began to join suit.  Then he started cracking comments like “Maybe we’ll run into the hayride.”  What a funny kid!

Just as we both agreed to turn around, Kyle looked over his shoulder and said, “Umm Aunt Heather, the bonfire is over there!”  We both busted out laughing before heading back in the right direction.

Once we got there safe and sound, Kyle was still living in the moment and telling everyone what we just did.  Yep he can find humor in the simplest of moments.  Great quality buddy!  Just like your dad!

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

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

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Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

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

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

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

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

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

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This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Señor Don Gato – We Meet Again!

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

This blog post is dedicated to my sister’s cat Toshi (a.k.a. Lester) who used up his nine lives and sadly no amount of fish will re-animate him.  Rest-in-peace Lester!  You’ve had a good adventure, now a new song must be sung.

Laughing About Nothing … Cats!

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John Manders signed the Señor Don Gato book for Kyle! He signed it to Señor Don Kyle! Love it! I love the Señor Don Gato song! c. 2004

During our most recent adventure to Parker Dam Home Away From Home – Parker Dam, I was reintroduced to an old friend, Señor Don Gato.  Who is this foreigner who seems like he would be friends with Zorro?  He was a childhood friend who I introduced to Kyle years ago.

How did Señor Don Gato make it to Parker Dam?  No one knows, but while we were splashing around in the Parker Dam creek, he came out of nowhere to make our fun even more enjoyable.

Seems like every time we go to Parker Dam, we head down to the creek, which is the overflow of water straight from Parker Lake itself.  We take the dogs there to splash around and stretch out their legs, not to mention Kyle and I enjoy the cold wet fun too.  While spending this past weekend at Parker Dam, on Saturday we participated in our side activity, just like from trips before, except my sister joined us.  As we trudged through the rocky cold water, looking for rocks or trying to make a new discovery, Kyle busted out in tune.  Can you guess?  Yes! Señor Don Gato!

Being in a little bit of shock, since I don’t remember the last time I heard Kyle singing that song, let alone thinking he remembered it, I listened to him stumble over the words for a moment.   Eventually, I joined in and we went off on our adventure like a couple of hobbits singing and experiencing the surrounding nature.

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Nicole & Kyle splashing around in the Parker Dam creek with the dogs. 6/15/13

You see Señor Don Gato was a song we sang in elementary school, Sacred Heart.  Me, being a lover of all things cats, I loved the song instantly!   I remember sitting on the floor in the classroom having music class with Miss Gasper and going over the lyrics.  Keep in mind this was the first time I had ever heard of Señor Don Gato, so I really didn’t know how the story ended.  When we got to the part when he died, I started to shed a few tears for poor old Señor Don Gato.  My heart was broken.  Then, as we continued reading the lyrics, I was so happy for Señor Don Gato.  Literally, I fell that deeply into this song.  I believe it made our spring musical one year, although I can’t remember which classroom had the honor of singing it.

It was one of the few non religious songs we sang.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the other tunes, but something about Señor Don Gato really captured me.  It was as if I could see the story unfold in my head as we sand along.  I saw him reading the letter, I saw him leaping from the rooftop, I saw the funeral pass the market square and I could smell the fish.  (In my mind it smelt like Sea World which almost made me puke when I was there!)  Naturally, I never forgot it and Señor Don Gato has stayed with me ever since.  So much so, that when Kyle was just able to talk, I started teaching him the lyrics.  I’m pretty sure I sang the tune to him when he was little too.  For some reason I wanted to make sure he was exposed to the clever lyrics of Señor Don Gato during his childhood.  I knew he would love it as much as I did.

Fun facts according to Wikipedia:

The lyrics are loosely translated from the traditional Spanish song “Estaba el señor Don Gato”, but the melody is from a different song, “Ahora Que Vamos Despacio”.  There is also a French version of “Estaba el señor Don Gato” called “Monsieur le Chat”.

I thought everyone knew of this fun and silly song, however as I moved along through my adult life, I found it was sadly the opposite.  Yes there were a few, but the majority had no idea what I was talking about when mentioning old Señor Don Gato.

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Kyle having a great time singing & splashing in the Parker Dam creek! We were singing Señor Don Gato, an all time favorite of both of ours. 6/15/13

Until one day, I saw John Manders, a very talented and one of my favorite illustrators of present day, illustrated the book Señor Don Gato!  This was around 2004, and he was going to be at a Barnes & Noble store in Pittsburgh demonstrating and reading from another one of his illustrated books.  I wanted to take Kyle so bad, but alas it was one of the few weekends he was not with us.  So I went with my previously purchased book to have him sign it.  What a great guy!  I met him on a few other occasions in the past, usually at art exhibits. He signed the book to Señor Don Kyle!  That was great!

That book and another one, both signed and illustrated by John Manders, was my gift to Kyle for either Easter or his birthday that year, I can’t remember.  It was a hit!  He recognized the song and to have it illustrated out before his eyes was a real treat.  Not to mention having the books signed directly to him made it personal.

I’m so glad another generation will carry on the legacy of old Señor Don Gato!

For those of you who do not know the song or those that need refreshed on the lyrics, please sing along below!

 

Oh Señor Don Gato was a cat,
On a high red roof Don Gato sat.
He went there to read a letter,
Meow, meow, meow
Where the reading light was better,
Meow, meow, meow
T’was a love note for Don Gato.

I adored you wrote the lady cat.
Who was fluffy, white, and nice and fat.
There was not a sweeter kitty
Meow, meow, meow
In the country or the city
Meow, meow, meow
And she said she’d wed Don Gato.

Oh, Don Gato jumped so happily,
He fell off the roof and broke his knee.
Broke his ribs and all his whiskers,
Meow, meow, meow
And his little solar plexus,
Meow, meow, meow
Ay carramba! cried Don Gato.
(when Kyle would sing this he would say, “I cry and I cry Don Gato.”)

When the doctors all came on the run,
Just to see if something could be done.
And they held a consultation,
Meow, meow, meow
About how to save their patient,
Meow, meow, meow
How to save Señor Don Gato.

But in spite of everything they tried,
Poor Señor Don Gato up and died.
Oh it wasn’t very merry,
Meow, meow, meow
Going to the cemetery,
Meow, meow, meow
For the ending of Don Gato.

As the funeral passed the market square,
Such a smell of fish was in the air.
Though his burial was slated,
Meow, meow, meow
He became re-animated,
Meow, meow, meow
He came back to life Don Gato!

Below is a video of us splashing around the creek at Parker Dam.  Me, Nicole, Kyle, Seven and Scooby had a blast!  6/15/13

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  ~1 Corinthians 12:17

Sacred-Heart-Saint-Cecilia-Youth-Group-4-27-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group got together at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center to participate in the ropes course 4/27/13

This past Saturday Kyle’s youth group had a fun activity, the ropes course!  What is a ropes course?  I had no idea at first.  Before the day began, all I knew was that Kyle signed me up to join him and the rest of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia youth group on their chosen outing.

Sometimes, I am just amazed how God works, even blessing us and our outing with such a pretty sunny day.  Enjoying the cool bright morning drive, we headed out to Ligonier, making our way up a secluded side road just outside the town.  The ropes course was held at the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.  Great!  I was never there, and what are we doing again?

Mikaela-Milko-Youth-Group-Aunt-Heather-Piper-4-27-13

Mikaela Milko showing how to wear a babushka at the Ropes Course in Ligonier 4/27/13

After meeting our counselors, Marty and Jeb, they led our group about a quarter of a mile up a hill towards the woods.  Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, our real journey was about to begin.

We started off with the standard, ‘get in a circle and introduce yourself’.  However, they added a fun twist.  We were to introduce ourselves and tell everyone what our super power would be.  I chose flying, while others chose super strength, invisibility, mind reading and such.  Ok, neat idea to get everyone thinking and listening to our neighbor.  Where’s the ropes course?

Next, we completed a serious of individual and small group exercises.  We did the listening game of Shlaw and a fun sword game.  Comical as it may seem, and it was, we ran around with one arm acting as a sword and the other hand positioned in the middle of our backs, acting as our week point to be struck with an opposing sword.  Yes, we ran around in a large yard that was marked off, trying to strike each other down.  This is what really cracked me up.  When a person was slain, they were not permitted to just kneel down and be out of the game.  O no!  We had to act out a dramatic death scene, dropping to our knees.  That was just getting us warmed up.  There’s more!

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The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group participating in the Ropes Course 4/27/13

Let’s not forget when we teamed up in groups of four and acted as a dragon, trying to get the other dragons tails, a.k.a. the handkerchief.  Then, there were the teams of two.  Only one person could see to guide the other.  Toward what you may ask?  To pick up stuffed animals and propel the soft ammunition at our opponents of course.  At first, we were allowed to speak to our temporarily blinded partner in crime.  That was just for practice.  The second time we played, there was no talking, only reading body language.  For me, I had Mikaela who is about Kyle’s age.  So I basically drug her around the large grassy area and used her arms as extensions of mine.

Ligonier-Ropes-Course-Aunt-Heather-Piper-4-27-13

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group figuring our the Ropes Course in Ligonier 4/27/13

When do the ropes course come into play?  That’s what I was wondering!  Not that I wasn’t having fun and learning the hidden lessons with each of these games.  But I wanted to swing like Tarzan.

Then came our first group activity!  Marty and Jeb borrowed a water bottle and gave us instructions to move the water bottle of its current position on the ground to Marty’s hand.  Everyone was to use at least a pointer finger and a pinky finger to move the bottle together as a group.  Yes all at once, all eighteen of us around a small water bottle.   That certainly took teamwork, and everyone following the called out instructions from those with strategic insight.  Did we do it?  Yes!

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Me assisting Kyle on the Ropes Course in Ligonier. A fun activity with his Youth Group! 4/27/13

Seriously, the entire time that we were working on this challenge The Wonder Pets song was playing in my head.  Kyle loved that cartoon and he used to sing the theme song all the time.  Indulge me for a moment…
Linny: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Ming-Ming: “The phone, we’ll be right there!”
Tuck: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Linny: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Ming-Ming: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Tuck: “There’s an animal in trouble somewhere!”
———————
Tuck: “A baby [animal]
Ming-Ming: “This is se-rious!”
Tuck: “We have to help him/her”
Linny: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All then All: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
———————
Linny: “Linny,”
Tuck: “Tuck,”
Ming-Ming: “And Ming-Ming, too!”
All: “We’re Wonder Pets and we’ll help you!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
———————
All: “Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets! We’re on our way
To help a baby [animal] and save the day!”
Ming-Ming: “We’re not too big,”
Tuck: “And we’re not too tough,”
All: “But when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!
Go, Wonder Pets! Yay!

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Ropes-Course-Youth-Group-4-27-13

Part of the team building exercises including using your blind partner as a bomber 4/27/13

Naturally, at the time I couldn’t remember the entire song, but regardless, it seemed to fit our situation.  Anyway, once we accomplished the first water bottle challenge, we were given the same activity only with another twist.  We needed to have someone place their nose, two people add their elbows and two pinkies (I believe) on the bottle.  All while EVERYONE, was touching the bottle in some way.  We needed to lift our object off the ground with a nose, two elbows, two pinkies and thirteen fingers on the bottle, at the same time.  Then move as a group toward our goal, Marty, to deliver the object of focus.  It was a bit awkward, but we did it!

Now the ropes course?  Not quite yet.  We had to sit in a circle among the trees and discuss the lessons we learned with all the previously executed exercises, including the themes of strategy and teamwork.  This was a way to encourage everyone to speak up and continue to be an integral part of the team.  Not to mention ensuring everyone was learning the lessons taught.

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The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group working out a strategy to the Rope Course 4/27/13

We started moving toward the theme of the ropes course when Marty and Jeb were talking about safety, teamwork and strategy.  Something along those lines.  I was too excited for the long anticipated “ropes course”.  I had already built up this grandiose idea of what we were going to do.  Better yet, how I was going to fly among the trees and jump from one set of ropes to the other hundreds of feet in the air.  Or climb a rope with one hand that was over fifty feet high.  All of which did not happen, it was much harder than that.

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We’re just getting started on the day. Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

After I was forced out of my dream state, I realized the time was at hand.  Our team cheer was the youth group motto, Helping Hands.  On the count of three we broke and headed toward our next destination.

Now the ropes course!  Eighteen of us lined up standing on a log.  We needed to shimmy around a bit to get our group to fit, but we managed.  Then, we needed to split into two groups to tackle the course from each end.  Simple enough.  No!  No one, not from either side was allowed to touch the ground and the adults were not allowed to talk.  If we touched the ground, then everyone would have to go back to the beginning and start all over again.  Did that happen?  O many many times.  I was the reason we started over once, jumping into the side of a tree as I lost my balance.  Kyle fell at least once, not to mention all the other participants who followed our lead to the ground.

Sacred-Heart---Saint-Cecilia-Youth-Group-in-Ligonier-4-27-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

The ropes course was a serious of balance type of obstacles we needed to cross, working our way back to the starting line, the log.  No one was allowed to touch the ground, and everyone had to make it back.

Youth-Group-Prepping-for-Ropes-Course-Aunt-Heather-Piper-4-27-13

Team building exercises before the Ropes Course at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

Along the way we realized the strengths and weaknesses of our team members.  With every start, we learned more and more and realized how to adjust to make our plan work.  From the very beginning, I knew I could help Kyle.  It was just like we were snowboarding and I was helping him with his balance.  Although, I will admit Kyle started to do pretty good on his own with each pass.  In fact, at the one intersection where we had one rope to walk on and one rope to hold on to, I lost my balance and went backward, holding on for dear life.  Please keep in mind we were only about four or five inches off the ground but it was the fear of touching the ground and making everyone start over.  No one wants to let the team down.  Kyle held his position, whereas I could have completely thrown him off balance.  He used his body to project us forward allowing both us a steady passage to the tree.  Nicely done buddy!

There was a lot of teamwork and “helping hands” along the way.  Ultimately, since one big challenge was crossing paths with the second half of our team, we sent the shortest of the group through first, while helpers were posted along the way.

Without my help, but with the assistance and guidance of others, Kyle, along with the rest of our vertically challenged kids made it to the end.  Great job guys!  We nearly got everyone through, then we biffed it again and unfortunately ran out of time.  I spent the majority of the exercise on the double ropes, which I think I mastered.  Although the cramping in my feet and the burning in my thighs might argue the opposite.

We ended the day with another recap and a prayer before tackling our lunch.  By that time everyone was mentally and physically exhausted, but in an good way.  What a great idea!  Asking who presented this activity to the group, Isaak raised his hand.  This was a perfect way to really get to know your group and allow everyone to make a contribution to the team!  I would love to do it again.

We left there feeling pretty good about ourselves.  It was the teamwork and the ability to lend a helping held and accept assistance from others.  God made us all differently so we will rely on one another.  Simple as it may seem, that’s exactly what we did!  As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.”

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

Random Fun Facts: Papacy

The responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X.  We shall never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls.  Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Being astounded by Fun Facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

Vatican Conclave Rituals

Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave 2/18/05

Random Fun Facts!

Since we are in transition of electing a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, to replace Pope Benedict XVI, I thought this information was appropriate.  Below does not outline all the details for the Papacy but are just a few interesting facts.

Conclave

  • Shortest conclave took a few hours
  • Longest conclave lasted 3 years
  • Modern conclaves install cell phone jammers in the floors
  • Any part of the conclave who communicates with the outside world while in session is excommunicated
  • The conclave is indeed locked together until a Pope is elected, originally done so to resolve deadlocks

Voting

  • Elected Cardinals need to be under 80-years of age before the death or resignation of the Pope to be eligible to vote
  • No more than 120 Cardinals may vote
  • A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope, and this also requires acceptance from the person elected
  • Women are not eligible for the papacy, they also cannot be ordained
  • In 1996, John Paul II promulgated a new Apostolic Constitution, called Universi Dominici Gregis (The Lord’s Whole Flock)
  • The Universi Dominici Gregis governs the election of the pope
  • Popes used to be appointed by heads of government or the wealthy
  • The voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel
  • Cardinal Dean also known as Cardinal Bishop reads the oath aloud in full, the other cardinal electors state while touching the Gospels, they “do so promise, pledge and swear.”
  • Voting comprises of 3 phases: the pre-scrutiny, the scrutiny and the post-scrutiny
  • Cardinals are encouraged to disguise their handwriting when casting votes
  • Once all of the ballots have been opened this begins the final post-scrutiny phase
  • If there is no election in the 1st scrutiny, the cardinals immediately proceed to the next scrutiny- the papers from both scrutinies are burnt together at the end of the 2nd scrutiny
  • Color of the smoke signals the results to the people assembled in St Peter’s Square- (Dark smoke signals not a result in an election / White smoke signals that a new pope was chosen)
  • As of 2005, bells ring after a successful election, to augment the white smoke
Annulus Piscatorius Papacy Ring Fisher of menAunt Heather Piper

The Papacy ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring

Pope

  • Cardinal Camerlengo takes possession of the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring
  • If the newly elected is a bishop, he takes office immediately
  • If not a bishop, he must be first consecrated as one before assuming office
  • If a priest is elected, the Cardinal Dean consecrates him bishop
  • If a layman is elected, then the Cardinal Dean first ordains him deacon, then priest, and then consecrates him as bishop
  • Only after becoming a bishop does the pope-elect take office
  • Since 533, the new pope has decided on the name by which he is to be called at this time
  • The Pope is the apostolic successor of Saint Peter

Catholicism

  • There are roughly 1.18 billion Catholics in the world
  • 1 in 5 people in the global population are Catholic
  • World’s largest church
  • 50% of the world’s Catholics live in North & South America
  • 24% of the world’s Catholics live in Europe
  • 15% of the world’s Catholics live in Africa
  • 11% of the world’s Catholics live in Asia
Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475 February 18, 1564)

Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni who lived from March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564

Eligibility

Priest:

  • A adult man
  • In the Latin Rite church
  • Unmarried
  • Must not have unconventional sexual tendencies, such as homosexuality
  • Must be chaste- morally pure in thought or conduct
  • Received the Sacrament of Confirmation not less than three years before
  • Must not have any encumbrances- debt or caring for children or infirm relatives
  • Young enough to be ordained and serve as a priest before the mandatory retirement age of 75
  • No significant mental disorders
  • No significant health disorders.

Bishop:

  • Must be an ordained priest
  • Unmarried

Pope:

  • A Catholic man in good standing
  • Exceptional priest
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Travels and have No Comments

Serving Through Pancakes

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  ~Philippians 2:4

Pancake-Breakfast-Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-10-13

Mom, Kyle & me at the St. Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast. We took a few minutes to visit with mom & dad. 2/10/13

Two Sundays ago, was February tenth.  In addition to being the fifth Sunday in ordinary time, it was also the Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, held at the Sacred Heart cafeteria.  Yes my old Alma Mater!

What a great fundraiser!  The tickets were only six bucks and  you received three large pancakes, three sausage links, fruit cup, coffee and orange juice.  The youth group students, along with their fearless leaders, decorated the cafeteria in a fun Valentine’s Day motif, set up the seating areas and prepped the kitchen prior to the event.  This ambitious group worked the Saturday morning prior and started the Pancake Breakfast off at 7:30 am.  The fundraiser was open to serve the hungry community at 9:00 am and wrapped up around 12:00 pm.  Kyle served mass Saturday night, allowing us to contribute our Sunday toward the event.

Everyone who assisted with the Pancake Breakfast was needed and truly made a difference.  Everyone, all the youth group students, parents and friends alike, but let me explain how valuable one leader is with an event like this one.  A special kudos goes out to our event organizer, Marty Singer.  Marty really rocked the house!  His experience and general know how with running a kitchen made the Pancake Breakfast run smoothly and seamlessly.  Seriously!  Marty certainly has been blessed with very important attributes, and his strongest ones were exhibited throughout the day and prior to the fundraiser.  God has blessed him with leadership, organization, common sense, patience, and authority, just to name a few.  He had everyone aligned and delegated appropriately, including selling the tickets, setting up and tearing down the kitchen and cafeteria, plus administering and directing the volunteers during the breakfast itself, real-time while the pancakes were being flipped.  The logistics to getting an event like this one organized can be overwhelming, let alone have it go off without a hitch.

Valentine's-Day-Pancake-Breakfast-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Tina, Mom, Kyle, Me, Dad & Andy at Pancake Breakfast for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group Pancake Breakfast. 2/10/13

Marty ordered the food and supplies, not just for the dinner but for all aspects of the event including the chef’s hats, a nice touch!  On a side note, that made working in the kitchen more fun and we appeared totally official!  Marty calculated the cost of everything and manged the entire process to stay within budget, concluding the fundraiser a success.  As he was running around keeping everyone on their toes and moving things along, I heard him continue down his checklist residing in his mind, really only speaking to himself but clearly having our lot under control.   He had a specific number of pancake dinners to serve, and you know what?  He reached and exceeded his goal, all within the same budget and without a shortage of food.  Actually, he was pretty spot on!

Pancake makers Aunt Heather Piper 2-10-13

Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group members.  Christie, Megan, Marty, Rachel & Jeremy 2/10/13

Marty was clearly recognized at the go-to-person.  Every time guidance was sought out or questions needed answered, they went straight to the Big Kahuna himself.  Sometimes under pressure people tend to show it or the stress is felt.  Nope, not with our master commander, and I am confidently saying this from personal experience.  I waited on tables in high school and I eventually put myself through college by continuing this skill and expanded it to bartending.  Knowing first hand how hectic and maddening a kitchen can become with the pressures of serving food, running the front of the house as well as the back of the house, it very real.  Our captain ran a ship like it should have been, allowing everyone to enjoy themselves and be rewarded with the sense of community and good service.   Nicely done Marty!

Kyle-working-Pancake-Breakfast-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2-10-13

Kyle showing his dish washing abilities… Pancake Breakfast cleanup 2/10/13

Stepping away from the Marty fan club for a moment, I would like to say all the students and parents alike kept in step with the Pancake Breakfast too.  I always said, in order to be a good leader, you need to be a great follower.  This crew was that, what a bunch of hard working individuals!  Functioning as part of the kitchen crew, I wasn’t really among our guests except to sneak out and visit every now-and-again, but I can tell you what I saw was very inspirational.  Those working the front of the house was running their buns off, servicing our guests and really tending to them.  The back of the house kept up with the flow of Pancake enthusiasts, maintained the mess and did what was needed.   Again, what a great bunch we are blessed to have apart of our church!

Aunt-Heather-Piper-Pancake-breakfast-2-10-13

Me cleaning up the pancake batter. The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Pancake Breakfast was a hit! 2/10/13

Mom and dad were among the breakfast patrons.  Kyle did take a break to stop and chit chat with the grandparents, as did I, however he still didn’t neglect his duties.  During the little visit, he left our side to address new church goers waiting to fill their tummy’s with pancakes.  While running around, I did keep my eye on him, making sure he wasn’t slacking or calling mutiny by assuming the lead.  He did neither, in fact I saw him on occasion, teaming up with others to reset seats for the next pancake muncher.  Kyle, like everyone else was on the move the entire time!  I must say I was sincerely impressed by Kyle’s work ethic.  When I saw that, my thoughts were, ‘He is a hard working Piper’ and ‘His dad would be proud.’

Not only did the youth group raise m0ney and they served the community, but they also had a great time doing it.  I will admit, I did as well!  Besides scooping fruit and assisting when needed, I cleaned, washed dishes and entertained.  Who would have thought washing pots and pans could be enjoyable?  I guess that’s the grace of giving back.  It’s totally worth it!

 

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

Singing Alleluia!

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.  ~Maya Angelou

Kyle-with-Turbietwist-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle sport'n Nicole's Turbie Twist 2001

Everyone knows I can’t sing, plain and simple.  I wish I could, but alas I was not blessed with the gift of music.  In fact, I think I’m slightly tone deaf, but regardless, I do love music and sometimes I just have to belt it out.  I am also a bit of an instigator, no big surprise there.  Sometimes I need to fulfill my need to sing and antagonize, what better way than through the repetition of rejoicing through song.  Then when you put the need to squeak out, off beat musical lyrics, with my natural ability to push someone’s buttons, you get a lot of irritation.

There are times when I am just inspired by great music and I want to sing.  I feel happy and joyous and I certain let it out to let the world know!  For example, when we leave church and they play my favorite songs, it truly makes my day!  I can’t help it, when you hear the organ kicking How Great Thou Art, America, or Amazing Grace, you just want to continue singing those songs all day long.  There are a number of other tunes I adore that are played in church, but alas they are escaping me at the moment.  Not only are they great songs that rejuvenate the soul, but they also take me back to my childhood.  I remember listening to the same songs, sitting in the pews of the same church, with my family and my classmates from Sacred Heart.  Then when we get home, just like I was a kid, I’m still singing the songs.  Sometimes very slight and subtle and sometimes you’d swear I was on stage performing for an entire arena.

Kyle's-daycare-play-c2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle's play at daycare was a hit! c.2004

What really cracks me up is Kyle.  He does the exact same thing!  Out of no where I’ve hear him repeat a song or a line of a song and bellow it out like he was an opera singer.  Especially when we leave church, just like me.  He will continue singing the song or Kyle’s favorite, Alleluia.  Yep, that’s his old stand by for anything, especially if something goes his way or turns out right, like a Lego creation, you’ll hear Kyle sing, ALLELUIA!  ALLELUIA!  He even uses his hands as if he’s a conductor or lifts them in a fashion as if the light of God was shining down on him.  It’s hilarious!  I even join him in his jubilation.

Then there are times when it’s not a song, but a word or a phrase, usually heard in a movie or on a show.  I can’t help myself, I just have the urge to keep repeating it.  My sister will appreciate this one.  When we were in Los Angeles, on our way to our hotel room, I all of a sudden I started saying, “Hey you what’s your dream?  Hey mista, what’s your dream?, everyone’s got a dream.”  If you didn’t know it’s a line from Pretty Women, from a side character without a name.  Nicole knew instantly where I got that from.  She laughed at first and then said, “You better not do this the entire time we’re here.”  You know what?  I did!  I just felt like it.  The funny thing is, I do it when you least expect it.  Although, even Nicole has to laugh over that one.  As I think back on it now, my brother used to repeat that line too! But he was much funnier.

Sometimes there’s no reason for the outburst, just to do it.  One weekend a few months ago, Nicole was home and out of no where I walked around saying “Watcha self!” with complete gusto.  Where I got that phrase, I have no idea.  But I thought it was so funny.  So at random times throughout the entire weekend, you’d hear me project, “Watcha self!”  With small giggles to appease me, Nicole would say, “Yes Aunt Heather.”  Even Kyle thought it was funny, or he enjoyed me tormenting my sister.  Either way, he decided to join in, to get a rise out of Nicole no doubt.  She just laughed and I believe I saw her roll her eyes at us.

That following weekend, I was at the computer and Kyle was playing with his Lego’s behind me, then all of a sudden Kyle said, “Hey Aunt Heather, Watcha Self!”  That was a classic!  I instantly stopped and started laughing as I turned around.  Then to get him going, I belted it out, “Watcha Self!”  Then of course taking the most of the situation I said, “Hey let’s get Aunt Nikki on the phone.”  Kyle, with this devilish grin, nodded his head and instantly agreed.  I love my buddy, he is truly the coolest cat!!  Sometimes it little stupid moments that show we are related and cement our bond further. What’s your Alleluia?

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