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

Random Fun Facts: Saint Vincent College

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough.  ~Richard P. Feynman

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Statue of Saint Boniface Wimmer in front of Saint Vincent Church at Saint Vincent College. I received the Sacrament of Confirmation in this church… Ryan was the alter boy.

Since I recently wrote about Random Fun Facts:  Latrobe, Pennsylvania, it wouldn’t be complete without addressing Saint Vincent College.

This past June, for Kyle’s birthday gift I got him, Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe!  Actually I got him two different Bricks 4 Kidz sessions, Animal Grossology for the morning session and Space Adventure – Star Wars for the afternoon session.  The Lego camp lasted a week, from Monday June 24 through Friday, June 28.  Kyle’s birthday is in July, so he was really surprised.

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Saint Boniface Wimmer, Saint Vincent College

The first day of Lego Camp, on Monday, I thought it would be neat to hang out with Kyle for lunch.  So I packed us a picnic and we ate on the college grounds.  It was a warm day but really pleasant under the trees.  Afterwords, I thought he might find a tour of the campus interesting.  In my head, I remembered how cool it was when Father Alred gave our sixth grade class a tour of the college when attending Sacred Heart.  He talked about the history, the architecture, the stain glass windows, and so on and so forth.

Well, as it turns out, I remembered the feeling more than the facts.  I must say, I fell short and needed a refresher.  Kyle wasn’t amused at all!  It was at that moment when I thought, I need to revisit Saint Vincent College, in the books.

Ironically, when I was doing research for the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt for Seton Hill University Discovering Greensburg in the Rain  (the sister college of Saint Vincent), at the Westmoreland County Historical Society, I came across a lot of intriguing content on  Saint Vincent College.  I hope you find the history of the college as interesting and almost mind blowing as I do!  Please read to the very end!  I promise it will shock you!

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Sportman’s Hall, built in 1790 by Father Theodore Brouwers- later become Saint Vincent

Random Fun Facts: Saint Vincent College

  • Founded in 1846 – Saint Vincent Arch-abbey and College
  • In 1766, before the monks John Fraser, an Indian trader, acquired land on part of which Saint Vincent is now situated
  • February 10, 1766 granted a tract of land along the Forbes Road to John- made in the name of the King George II of Great Britain by Captain William Murray, Commander of Port Pitt.
  • December 3, 1768 John Fraser transferred teh entire parcel of land to James Hunter, a farmer for Five Pounds Lawful Money
  • James Hunter owned the land for 21 years
  • March 12, 1790, the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted Joseph Hunter “a certain tract of land called ‘Sportsman’s Hall'” – 1st time the name of Sportman’s Hall was given to individual tract of land (name retained for over half a century)
  • Sportman’s Hall was called “the Cradle of Catholicity in western Pennsylvania”
  • April 16, 1790 Joseph transferred the deed to Rev. Theodore Brouwers, O.F.M.
  • Father Brouwers died on October 29, 1790.  As per his will his body was laid to rest in a plot overlooking Sportsman’s Hall.  Since 1869 his remains have reposed under a a stone cross in Saint Vincent Cemetery
  • Father Brouwers provided his successor by bequeathing all of his real estate “to a Roman Catholic priest that shall succeed me in this same place, to be entailed to him and to his successors, forever.”
  • In 1787, 6 Catholic families moved from Philadelphia and settle near Greensburg
  • A small log church was erected
  • Sportsman’s Hall stood northeast to the present Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica until 1883 – in 1930s a marker was erected on this site
  • Reverand Michael Galllagher succeeded Father Stillinger as pastor, serving until October 21, 1846 – then Rev. Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B. was pointed as pastor
  • Boniface Wimmer was a monk from the Benedictine Abbey of Metten in Bavaria

Hence the name Wimmerton for the neighboring housing development

  • Boniface Wimmer received the monastic name of Boniface upon his entry into the monastery, a name with deep significance for German Catholics
  • Saint Boniface was an English monk who in the 18th century brought the Gospel and the Benedictine Rule to the Rhineland, where he established  monasteries and served as bishop of Fulda

He wanted to provide education for the sons of German immigrants and train clergy for the German community in the United States.

  • Saint Vincent is the 1st Benedictine college in the United States
  • Saint Vincent sits on roughly 200 acres of land
  • First buildings were built by the monks
  • The Benedictine Rule is known for spirituality and practicality
  • By 1855, Saint Vincent was divided into the Seminary, the Classical Department, and the Commercial Department – basic structure of college for next 50 years
  • In 1870, the college was incorporated by the State Legislature of Pennsylvania and given the power to grant degrees in the arts and sciences
  • February 25, 1931 Benedictine Sisters left Germany to go to America, set up residence in Saint Vincent, to earn money to send back to mother house during World War I
  • By 1987, one sister retired and founded Saint Emma’s Retreat House in Greensburg
  • In 1948, there were 19 majors available in the divisions of Humanities, Social Sciences, Science and Business
  • January of 1963 – a fire destroyed part of the campus – no life was lost

On the campus they have a memorial with a rescued bell saved from the bell tower.  The bent and torn metal of the once perfect bell is so surreal yet intriguing.

  • In 1983, Saint Vincent became co-educational

Until that point it was an all male college, sister college to Seton Hill University, which used to be an all female college

  • The college is sponsored by the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey and shares the campus with Saint Vincent Seminary (4-year graduate school of theology), and Saint Vincent Parish
  • Saint Vincent College offers undergraduate degrees in business, education, medicine, engineering government service and church.
  • Saint Vincent College offers Masters degree programs in education and business
  • The Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media (yes THE  Mr. Rogers!) is a college center
  • Nationally known, students from 24 U.S. states/territories and 20 foreign countries – half of these students are in the top 20% of their high school graduating classes
  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and School
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Bell Tower at Saint Vincent, built in 1871 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the Benedictines in the U.S. In 1963, destroyed in a fire

Ok, now for the the really fun and interesting information I stumbled across.  Evidently, the students at Saint Vincent College need or did need to write a senior thesis before graduation.  Using primary resources, they were permitted to write about anything.

One student narrowed his focus to Latrobe and decided to write about the history of Latrobe’s volunteer firer-fighters and the Latrobe fire company.  Nice little topic!

Unbeknownst to him, he was going to stumble upon some really ground breaking news that was overlooked, even by Saint Vincent scholars, even to present day!  When I had lunch with my cousins John and Sherry Business Leader in the Form of a Youngster, in September, I asked John if he ever heard of the news I will reveal to you below.  He didn’t.  Dr. Olczak who also translated books for Saint Vincent College and most certainly was knowledgeable in the history of his Alma Mater, had no idea!

In the 1870’s, the Latrobe Advance, the local paper which is now the Latrobe Bulletin, circulated a story which dealt with a recent incident at Saint Vincent College.  What made the news but never made any other history books regarding the college and was forgotten?

Boniface Wimmer, yes the founder of Saint Vincent monastery and college, made the paper in the form of a small hidden story.  On October 1, 1879, the newspaper reported that the then 70 year old Abbot was nearly assassinated by a “lunatic”.  YEP!  No joke!  Keep in mind at this point in history, Boniface Wimmer was no stranger to the world, especially when concerned with his dedication and progress towards education and as a missionary.  In fact, he was recognized by many as the American Roman Catholic Church leader.  Kind of a big deal!  The paper reported that the mad man tried to assassinate Boniface Wimmer in his monastery room.

The story goes, a stranger was found lurking around, outside the monastery for several days.  On Saturday, September 13, 1879 the stranger gained access to the monastery where Boniface Wimmer resided.  A monk cut him off at the pass and ejected him from the premisses.  A week later the creepy stranger, on Tuesday September 23rd made his way back in the monastery and proceeded towards Brother Nicholas room.  He was the Porter or the gatekeeper of Wimmer.  This crazed stranger struck Brother Nicholas on the head and bolted up the stairs to the Abbot Boniface’s room.  (currently located in Mauer Hall and is used as a guest room) The lunatic took the key and tried to lock himself inside along with Boniface Wimmer.

Quick witted and matching reflexes, even from an aged man, the Abbot noticed this unusual sight and took the would-be assassin off guard before he could lock the door.  There was a tussle between the two men and that’s when Boniface Wimmer received a blow to the head, but not before gaining a hold of the intruders arm and managing to gain the upper hand. The 70 year old Abbot took down his attacker!  Yes!  He wrestled him to the floor!  This just proves, you have nothing to fear with God on your side and when you have complete faith in Him.

The recovering Porter came to Boniface’s assistance, after gaining his wits about him, and eventually a couple of monks arrived at the scene, hearing yells for help.  They removed the determined stranger from the premises.  No charges, no cops, no finger pointing, nothing.  Now-a-days that would have made front line news and opposing sides would be talking about it and pointing fingers at everyone including the Abbot for days, or weeks, heck months.  Everyone would have someone to blame.

The reason for this situation?  Not an Anti-Catholic message nor a hatred against Saint Vincent nor its Abbot.  The intruder was a Latrobe native who had mental issues and recently escaped from an asylum.  He felt if he killed the Abbot Wimmer he would in turn take his place as the Abbot of Saint Vincent.   At least the mentally disturbed man had goals!

Since this was not recorded anywhere else or brought to the spotlight, how can we know this actually happened? Even though back then the reporters needed to check and verify their sources, so I would be pretty confident they did their due-diligence before including the story in the paper.  Well, I came across documentation of a letter Abbot Wimmer wrote to the Vatican giving them an update on the church and the college.  This was a standard letter, with pleasantries and general day-to-day stuff.  At the conclusion of his letter, yes not as a headline, the butt end, as if just mentioning it in passing or as an afterthought, Abbot Wimmer made note of this incident.  Why didn’t he make it out to be the big deal it was?  Simply, because he was a humble man and didn’t want to upset anyone or have the general population turning on the assailant.   At least that’s my guess.  Or perhaps he didn’t like the negative publicity.  Either way, it was real history.

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

Add Thrill of the Hunt to the Latrobe List

The road to success is always under construction. ~Arnold Palmer

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Nick & Kyle hanging with Brutus at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe Pa. 2013

Being a Latrobe native doesn’t just mean that I have a specific location I can point to on the map and declare, ‘I’m from here!’  Nope!  Stating this fact holds a lot more, the history, the traditions, those who have paved the way for others and also the pride of the people and surrounding areas.

Many can claim the same about their area, but we, Latrobeans are truly a special breed. I’m not saying my broad stroke, ideal perception is consistent across the board one hundred percent true for everyone, but from my observations and where my heart stands, it is.

Latrobe is one of those typical small towns. You know the kind, most everyone knows each other and in my case because I’m a Piper, somehow I’m related to everyone. Latrobe is also large enough to give a little elbow room when desired. Originally it was a borough and then made into a city. Latrobe was named after Benjamin Latrobe. It’s true, it’s not suppose to be pronounced with a long “a” sound. However, if you are from Latrobe, you use the incorrect pronunciation, that’s our badge of honor and proof that we are true Latrobeans.  Yes I know, we also have the typical Western Pennsylvania slang, and distinct accent criticized by all, but there is so much more.

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Me & Kyle at the Banana Split Festival at our Thrill of the Hunt booth in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

What else makes Wildcat Country truly special? Well, lets start with the accomplishments surfacing from this area and the people. Even though it’s not official because it was never really proven, Latrobe is home to the first professional football game ever played. At least, that’s how I always understood it. Incidentally, Latrobe is home to the Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp, held at Saint Vincent College every year. Latrobe, mirroring our neighbor Pittsburgh has very much the same die hard type of personality. “Pittsburghers” are known world wide for their dedication to the city, especially the Steelers. I mean, we have Steelernation! Latrobe projects the same pride and love of the city, for both Pittsburgh and Latrobe.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Scavenger-Hunt-Banana-Split-Latrobe-Pa-2013 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & what I thought was a Guerrilla Girl (nope). Banana Split Festival in Latrobe Pa. at the Thrill of the Hunt booth. 8/24/13

Saint Vincent College, Latrobe’s very own, unbeknownst to many has a history that impacted many around the world for different reasons. Long before the college was the Steelers training home base, Saint Vincent Church was the first Benedictine monastery in the United States, founded by Boniface Wimmer, a monk from Bavaria Germany. The monks not only started the Catholic tradition and built a beautiful church that turned into the college, but they also held the recipe for Rolling Rock Beer, home grown form the fields of good old Latrobe Pennsylvania.

Growing up around the Rolling Rock Brewery, I never realized how famous the beer really was, until one trip changed all that. During one of my senior high band field trips, we went to New York City. A small town Latrobe girl in the big apple. Naturally, we did all the touristy things, but on our final day, we participated in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. On a side note, up until that point, that was the most I’ve ever walked in one trip, ever! My feet and legs were so sore from marching miles on the New York streets I thought I would collapse. Anyway, as we marched along, and the crowds took note of our banner, ‘Greater Latrobe Marching Band’, they began to yell. It wasn’t making fun, or ridiculing us in any way, it was praise and excitement! They were yelling, “Latrobe! #33 Rolling Rock!” I’m not talking a small group of drunken individuals. I’m talking pretty much the entire city of New York! We were famous! Living in my own corner of the world being oblivious to outsiders, I had no idea that anyone knew who we were! Let alone loved us! People, cheered for our group of Latrobe natives and truly loved recognizing us. It was great! It was at that moment, I didn’t take it for granted that I was a Latrobean, a Wildcat!

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Nick & Kyle making a friend (Brutus) at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, Pa. 2013

Beer is not only our claim to fame and neither are our black and yellow footfall fans. Latrobe has birthed some inspiring people. One being Mr. Fred Rogers who graduated from Latrobe High School. Actually, my grandpap Chester went to school with him and I believe Mr. Rogers was the class president. Graduating from the freshly built Latrobe Senior High School, my mom and brother and sister all walked down the same halls and graduated from the same alma mater. Mr. Rogers lived not far from my parents house in Edgewater. Some may not know or remember the TV personality, but he had a show for children on PBS, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). One of his sweaters is actually on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. He had many more accomplishments, but he was made famous from his show and calming personality.

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Ice-Cream Joe, Valley Dairy (My first job) in celebration of the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe, Pa. 8/24/13

A friend of Mr. Rogers, and matching or perhaps exceeding in popularity would be our very own golf professional, Arnold Palmer. Yep the inducted World Golf Hall of Fame Latrobean was born and breed in the area. He too doesn’t live far from my parents house, right down the road from the Greater Latrobe High School. Every once in a while, I would see him pulling out of his driveway and I heard he still flies his plane in and out of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe. Personally, I’ve never met the man, but I’ve known many who have and have commented on what a great guy he is. He was not only known in the golf world but to presidents too. I remember when Mr. Palmer’s wife, Winny (Winifred) passed away, former president George Herbert Walker Bush came to town to pay his respects.

More recently, Latrobe made their mark again with proving they are the home of the original banana split. Yes, invented by Latrobean David Strickler came the banana split. He didn’t just stop there, he also created the banana split boat to hold the ice-cream dessert.

This past weekend was the Banana Split Festival in Latrobe. Great time by all! I represented Thrill of the Hunt as part of the local vendors. We had a perfect sunny day and I loved running into old friends and meeting some new ones. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive about our start-up company. It was inspiring!

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The New Playland in Legion Keener Park, Latrobe Pa. 2013

Latrobe has produced greatness, yet remains humble and true to our roots. I love this city and what it stands for. Thrill of the Hunt is home grown in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and I hope my company will continue to bring the pride back to Latrobe like many before me.

There is a lot more to Latrobe and I just touched on a few. Everyone should take some time and visit this lovely area, nestled in at the base of the Laurel Highlands. And those who have since moved away, should stop back. It’s a great place to live and do business. I am proud to be a Latrobean through and through. Even Kyle has taken on the title of Latrobe native, well after all he was born and partially raised here. He considers himself a Wildcat and I agree, he is!

 

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts,Travels and have No Comments

Entrepreneurship

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.  ~Amelia Earhart

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Jenny Singer & Me at Steerlerfest 2013 at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. 8/2/13

I’ve always loved adventure, always!  I can turn a simple trip to the local grocery store into an adventure.  And I’d be happy to write about it and tell the story over and over again, refining it and intensifying it with each pass.  That’s probably why I enjoy traveling so much!  It’s the adventure I love, the journey, the sometimes unexpected and unknown, new discoveries, the eye opening moments and the opportunity to learn first hand.  I love it all.  So I guess it’s no surprise that my sister and I embarked on a little adventure of our own, The Piper Corporation.

Mentioning it a time or two, we started The Piper Corporation, which currently has two divisions, Thrill of the Hunt (www.ThrillScavengerHunt.com) a company that develops and administers themed scavenger hunt events for the public and packages for private birthday parties, fundraisers and business functions; and SpyRing (www.SpyRing.com) the world of spies and espionage brought to life through a simple to play educational card game for children, that reinforces scholastic school subjects including reading and reading comprehension.  Yes, that’s a lot to do and a lot to take in!  Hence, why I am focusing my efforts towards Thrill of the Hunt.  It requires less resources, we have the potential to see immediate results, it’s easier to get in the hands of the public and we have the opportunity to indirectly help small businesses and local communities.

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Jenny Singer helping the kids play our fishing game at Steelerfest 2013, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. 8/2/13

Recently, last Friday, I was at Steelerfest 2013 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  I had a booth to promote Thrill of the Hunt.  As part of reaching out to the Steeler fans, I created a game for the kids to play as they stopped by my tent.  After all, it’s not always about making money, sometimes it’s just as important to support the community, even if it was from a magnetic fishing game standpoint.

Creating this game just for something simple and cheap for the kids to do, I personally thought it was kind of stupid and I thought no child would want to participate.  How wrong I was!  Purchasing small random items at the dollar store and gluing magnets to them, I placed the items in a small plastic kid pool for the kids to fish.  We used Kyle’s old plastic fishing pools that I “sooped” up with larger magnets.  Hence where I got the idea.  These poles were made new again when I saw them sitting with dad’s actual fishing polls in his office.  Brilliant!  To make it Thrill of the Hunt challenging, I made up riddles for each item.  Jenny Singer, my Thrill of the Hunt Team Member, who graciously helped me out all day (including setting up the tent and our table of stuff and tearing down) read the riddles to the kids and they had to first figure out the answer and then they had to fish for the item.  What did they win?  A Thrill of the Hunt stamp on their hand.  It was a hit!  Not only were the little kids lining up to join the fun, but the young-ins around Kyle’s age wanted to play too!  I was flabbergasted and excited!

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Jenny Singer working the Thrill of the Hunt’s tent at Steelerfest 2013, Saint Vincent College, Latrobe Pa. 8/2/13

On a side note, Jenny was such a tremendous help!  Sincerely, with her hard work and suggestions, the day went off without a hitch.  She is a hard worker!  Never once did I hear her complain, speak negatively about anything, heck she didn’t even take a lunch break.  She was in it with me for the long haul.  Such a great little girl.  Jenny is already a success in life and over time she it’s only going to intensify.  I know it!

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Jenny Singer giving the kids at Steelerfest clues to figure out for the fishing game. Steelerfest 2013 Saint Vincent College, Latrobe Pa. 8/2/13

On another side note, I missed my Kyle terribly.  He is always at my side helping me with functions such as this one.  Kyle is, and will always be my inspiration.  He is also a busy little man with a lot going on, maybe next year!  Although we do have the Banana Split Fest coming up in Latrobe!  I’m sure I can count on his assistance.

Thinking about it, maybe entrepreneurship is in my blood.  After all my pappy started his own business, Walter Piper & Sons Lumber, his own sawmill, like many of the Piper’s before and after him.  Pap was not scholastically smart, only finishing out the fifth grade due to a lack of opportunity and support.  I mean he could barely write his own name, yet he had something, something not a lot of people have.  I’m not sure if it was vision, natural business skills, or a guardian angel.  Maybe it was all the above.  I will say, my pap was great at math!  I mean quick!  He could add and subtract simple math, figure out decimals and add and subtract fractions like he was a calculator.  That doesn’t surprise me.  He adapted to his surroundings, and working with wood in the wood industry, you need to learn measurements and to do them without thought, with one hundred percent accuracy.  I’m guessing similar to carpenters and construction workers.  I bet if pap had the opportunity he would have been able to do higher level math.

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Me & Jenny Singer at Steelerfest 2013. Sporting our Thrill of the Hunt Tees. Saint Vincent College, Latrobe Pa. 8/2/13

On the opposite, pap had certain qualities, which were not very business smart.  He was too nice.  I know what sounds mean, but he was!  He would take people on their word to pay him, or he would shake on a deal and trust that was enough.  Pap came from the old time when those practices were honored and upheld.  The world was changing around him and pap remained the same.  My brother was a lot like pap.  They both possessed the same business sense, yet their hearts were two sizes too big and they wholeheartedly trusted everyone’s word.  I can admit that I am guilty of the same, even to this day, but I’ve learned some cruel lessons over the years to not be so blind.

The sawmill sustained for quite a few years after pap’s death, the timber industry is a tough one to thrive in, let alone keep your head above the water with obstacles in the way.  But my pappy did the best he could with the resources he had.  I can only speculate what kind of businessman pap would have been if he had a formal education.  He naturally had a marketing mind.  How do I know?  Just from simple things he did without anyone telling him what to do, like giving out baseball caps and pens sporting the company name.

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Steelerfest 2013 at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe Pa. Thrill of the Hunt was part of the vendors & had a kids fishing game! 8/2/13

Working for oneself certainly has its benefits, equal to its challenges.  Let’s start off with my day.  I love making my own hours and not having my schedule dictated by others, at least not entirely.  I wake up around 5:00 am, go to the gym come back and get started by 6:30 am or 7:00 am.  Since I am the workforce, all design, writing, PR, advertising, social marketing, website updates, scavenger hunt planning, business development and such are up to me!  I love every minute of it!  Granted sometimes it’s hard working solo, but I do have my sister and friends to kick around ideas.

The biggest perk of being an entrepreneur?  No it’s not working for myself, and that’s not a good enough reason, nor is it wanting to be the boss making me the top dog or the leader.  Putting yourself in a position of leadership, doesn’t make a leader.  The way I look at it, my customers are my bosses and a good leader can lead in any situation.  No, it’s knowing I’m filling a niche, something new, something never been done before.  It’s giving people adventure while embarking on my own adventure.  It’s falling and getting back up and learning from my mistakes.  It’s also knowing I can indirectly help small businesses and local communities by bringing awareness to these areas.

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Steelerfest 2013 at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. Thrill of the Hunt was part of the vendors! 8/2/13

How do I do this?  Simply, when I bring a Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt Event to an area, I create my game to crisscross around the neighborhood, bringing unknown nooks and crannies of the community to light.  I also use the small businesses as part of my scavenger hunts, driving traffic directly into their doorsteps.  My heart and soul is in local merchants and quaint little towns, couple that with my love of adventure and you have Thrill of the Hunt!

Yes, there is also the negative side of being an entrepreneur, but I would prefer to stick with the positives.  Stop by the website and peruse the Events and Packages or Suggest An Event.  I’d love to hear from you!

Remember, everyone needs to …. Experience the Game!

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

Happy Birthday Kyle – Marking his 12th Year Journey!

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say  ~J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring

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Gigi & Kyle on his 1st Birthday! What a journey it has been… 7/30/02

I was there the minute Kyle was born, ready to help him on his journey and now he is a pre-teenager, hitting the twelve year mark!  Our little man will be in the junior high this year, the big seventh grade.  He has reached another mile marker on the road of life.  I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for Kyle, but I think he had another great birthday.  His usual month long celebration turned into a month-and-a-half long jubilee.  Only Kyle!

Giving Kyle his fist birthday gift of the year, I sent him to Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College for a week, Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise!.  That was at the end of June, then not long after, Nicole took Kyle for a week long road trip throughout the New England states during the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  That Saturday they got back, two Saturday’s ago on July twentieth, we celebrated Kyle’s twelfth birthday.  From what Nicole told me, Kyle laid out his cloths the night before and instructed my sister to be up by 5:00 am so they could get on the road.  He woke up that morning extremely energetic and wanted to get a move on the day to get back.  My guess, he knew he was getting more Legos and he was keeping his eye on the prize.

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Kyle’s 8th Birthday at Chef Dato’s (RIP) at the Tin Lizzy. They had a cooking party of making pizza & pretzels. 2008

Kyle is certainly a leader and a visionary, even on his birthday.  He knew how he wanted it to unfold and he was not shy about giving instructions.  Example, he told my mom that he wanted each of the dogs and my cat to be wearing a balloon.  He wanted balloons at the end of the driveway and he wanted the living-room to be filled with balloons.  He got that idea from me last year.  For his Lego birthday party, besides making a Lego cake, I filled the living-room with balloons so when he woke up that morning, he was walking into an explosion of celebration.  We didn’t quite make it that far this year, but we did strategically place balloons all around the house and on the property.

Last year, I was specifically instructed to make the cake and it was to be a Lego theme, however this year he didn’t seem to be that concerned over the cake.  Instead of going to extremes, everyone agreed on a classic, ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen, since we haven’t had one in a while.  Always a favorite during the summer heat (heck I’d eat ice-cream cake all year long).

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Kyle’s 9th Birthday. I got him flying lessons. Yes he actually flew the Piper plane! 7/2010

When Nicole and Kyle were heading home, he called so many times we lost track.  He wanted to follow-up on the birthday decorating and to ensure the gifts were ready for him when he walked in the door.  He was also giving us his ETA.  What a stinker, always managing and overlooking even the smallest details!

Once they made it to Derry, Kyle called and said, in the most distraught voice, “We’re in Derry!  Oooh,  I think we have another hour to go!”  I think my sister was teasing him a bit, because Derry is only about fifteen minutes away.  Although I will admit when Kyle has his mind set on a goal within his reach, he is one focused bugger!

It was a fun day, he didn’t want to do anything except build his Legos.  Naturally, since he’s on his The Lord of the Rings kick, he got The Lord of the Rings The Tower of Orthanc, which stands a couple of feet tall; and he got The Lord of the Rings The Council of Elrond; and to top it off for a little variety he got the Galaxy Squad Galactic Titan.  I should say he was all set!  Mom had the gifts wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper.  She asked me if she should get birthday themed paper and I said, “Na, he doesn’t care, as long as they’re wrapped.”  Yes, Kyle has even told us that all gifts must be wrapped!  Once I asked him, “Don’t you think you are getting too old for that?”  His response, “Umm No!”  Point taken, enough said.

After we did the traditional lighting of the birthday candles, and belted out the birthday song, we did force Kyle to give us the condensed version of his road trip with his Aunt Nikki before we lost him to the Legos.  Seeing Kyle so happy, truly makes us all happy!  He had a great trip and came back to a perfect birthday, hanging with the family and building Legos!

Happy Birthday Kyle!  I hope your day is filled with birthday fun and you have another great journey all year!

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Nicole & Kyle leaving to embark on their journey of ‘Aunt Nikki & Kyle’s Week of Fun!’ 7/13/2013

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

Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise

You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.  ~Brigham Young

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Kyle’s 2nd day of Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College – Bricks 4 Kidz Program 6/25/13

Most people celebrate their birthday the day of their actual birth, or sometime close.  Others take a week or so in preparation and to celebrate the anniversary of their birth.  I really do neither, I’ve never been much of a birthday person.  Seriously, I could care less about my birthday, except it also happens to be my parents wedding anniversary (I was born six years after they were hitched).  Going out to eat, or birthday cakes and such never appealed to me.  Well, cake certainly peeks my interest, but not the celebration.  Yes, as a child I loved to get presents, but it wasn’t like it is today.  Even back then, I remember asking mom to stop the birthday parties.  Just not a big fan.

Kyle on the other hand is a big supporter of birthday celebrations, specifically his own.  Literally, from December 26th up until his day of birth, July 30th, he is preparing, scheming and throwing hints left and right.  Keep in mind, Easter falls between this time and he gets more gifts, not to mention his report card money that tends to go toward more Legos.  But his birthday, day, opens his eyes and fills his head with possibilities like no other.

Keeping with tradition, I never get Kyle toys or video games, basically what he asks for.  Nope!  I get him unconventional gifts.  They are items that I believe give him skills, introduces him to thinking differently, gives him life long knowledge or interests and helps him to grow as a person.  Others, mostly my parents and my sister get him the items that make his childhood bucket list of desirables.  (Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!, Flying Back to Kyle’s Ninth Birthday, Family Time Through an ipod Touch, Happy Birthday Kyle- 10 Years Old!)  I’ve mentioned it in the past about buying him piano lessons, swimming lessons, flying lessons, books etc.  So what to do for his twelfth birthday?

Starting to mill around ideas in my head back in May, which is when Kyle started to throw out hints, I really had no clue.  I’ve been known to give him a saving bond, again another practical gift to force him to save for the near future, but I really wasn’t sure.  Then, thanks to a family friend, Lori Planinsek Rodgers, she gave me the perfect idea!  Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp!

She mentioned it while we were at the 24th Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby, Gone Fishing!.  At the time I just thought it might be something fun Kyle would enjoy, so I mentioned it to him.  Naturally, anything with Legos causes the kid to jump out of his skin.  Well, that is until he found out he doesn’t get to keep the Legos he builds.  Too bad!  Looking online into the programs, the light came on in my head and bingo, his birthday present was established.

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Yes, another Lego even while at Lego camp – Bricks 4 Kidz at Saint Vincent College. That was his report card money courtesy of his Aunt Nikki 6/27/13

This gift accomplished more than just his gift.  Kyle always loved going to daycare (Come and Play) every summer.  He truly looked forward to hanging out with his friends and playing.  The kids not only played, but the daycare ladies  would make them bring books to read and they would have to go outside and run around and do some schoolwork.  Kyle’s days were very planned, very organized and very structured.  All the qualities that make for an enjoyable day for Kyle, truly!  Well, this summer Kyle didn’t go to daycare.  He was seriously bummed and bored!  I wish he was sent at least a couple of days a week, but nope, his summer consisted of hanging by himself at home.  That’s when I thought to send him to camp.  Granted the kid takes more vacations then any other child I know, but it still stinks to sit at home by yourself, not being mentally or physically challenged and being socially deprived.

Originally, I was going to sign him up for the third week in July, bringing it closer to his birthday, but alas that week was the ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’.  No good!  So I had to work backwards deciding on the week of June 24th through June 28th, last week.

Signing Kyle up for Animal Grossology in the am session (8:30-11:30) and Space Adventure – Star Wars for the afternoon session (1:00-4:00) at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, all I could think of was how excited he was going to be.

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Kyle received 2 certificates for finishing his Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College. Animal Grossology & Space Adventure- Star Wars 6/28/13

Keeping the Lego camp a secret, I alerted the rest of the family and I made arrangements for us both to stay at my parents house all week, which made my parents really happy.  They were looking forward to his Lego camp too for two reasons.  One, to spend the week with Kyle and two, to share in his excitement, knowing how much he loves to build Legos and being challenged.

Leading up to the birthday present surprise, I started to prod Kyle a bit, although he never really took the bait.  Probably because he knew his gift from me wasn’t exactly what he wanted.  I did tell him he was getting his gift early and it involved animals and space.  That sparked one of our dashboard silly conversations Laughing About Nothing…Dog in Space.  Throughout Kyle’s short life, you would think he would learn to trust me.  Our activities are never items he’s thought about or thinks are fun, but he can never deny he loves the gifts I get him.

One of the hints I slipped him, was that he was going to college and it was an educational gift.  He politely smiled and gave me a grunt.  Then he said, “I can’t go to college, I’m not old enough.”  Love that kid!  I told him he’s going and he better pay attention!  I could tell he didn’t know whether to take me seriously or not.  Sometimes I can be such an instigator.

Sunday night, the eve before Kyle was going to partake in his Lego camp adventure, I told him where he was going.  His eyes lit up and excitement shot over his entire body, leaving his mouth ALL night!  To be honest, I was trilled at his enthusiasm but it was getting late and I was tired.  He kept speculating on  what he was going build and what he was going to do.  He commented, how much he loved animals and told me how much he knows about animals.  Then he went into his dissertation on space and Star Wars.  It was a long night until the sandman knocked Kyle out.

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Kyle his a great little guy! Check him out helping another, at the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College! 6/24/13

The next morning and all week he was up early, got himself his breakfast and got dressed, all without incident.  The first day was a bit rough, especially at lunch.  I packed us a lunch and thought we could picnic at Saint Vincent College and then walk around a bit.  I wanted to share with Kyle, some of what I remembered Father Alred teaching us about the buildings and the history when I was in the sixth grade at Sacred Heart.  (I found out that I remember very little and need to research the college again to bring back what I knew.)  Kyle was very quiet and almost blasé about his morning and kind of complained about his lunch.  Then, he didn’t want to walk around, didn’t want to sit, didn’t really care to go back.  I was in complete shock and let’s face it, irritated.  Only because I thought Kyle didn’t appreciate this opportunity.  Keep in mind it was pretty hot and humid out.

I dropped Kyle off for his afternoon class and then picked him up at 4:00.  Same attitude, same almost lethargic demeanor.  At this point, I thought Kyle was getting sick or maybe he was tried from getting to bed so late and waking up pretty early.  That is until the next day brought me my answers.

As I dropped him off for his morning session, I spoke to the one teacher to see how Kyle was doing.  She informed me that the room was really hot and evidently since it was an old building, putting the air conditioning on cool meant they were turning on the heater!  Yikes!  Kyle was sitting in not only a hot room, but it was being heated too!  No wonder he was so miserable.  The kid HATES being hot.  Not that I can blame him.

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Kyle loved the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College! 6/26/13

By the time I picked Kyle up for lunch on Tuesday, it was like he did a one eighty!  He was ecstatic, energetic and completely excited to tell me about his day and what he built!  I was so happy I didn’t make a mistake with the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp.  I did not!  It was a hit, now that the temperature in the room was bearable.

What a great week!  Everyday, Kyle and I ate breakfast together; then I dropped him off for his morning class; picked him up for lunch, which we made and ate together; dropped him off for his afternoon session and then picked him up when his day was done.  Actually, everyday except Friday, mom picked him up for me since I was getting the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt ready for the following day.  (For my company Thrill of the Hunt)  That was the start of the Dog Gone Irony!

Kyle had a GREAT time!  He not only got to feed his addiction of  building Legos, but he fed the brain too with animal knowledge and space talk.  As much as Kyle won’t admit to it, he loves to learn and discover new things and experiences, much like the rest of my family.  Lori, who introduced me to the Bricks 4 Kidz Program, messaged me this:

I see you’ve been busy dog hunting the past couple days, but I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to see any of the videos posted for Bricks 4 Kidz! Looks like Kyle loved the programs! His teacher brought their entire class (5 or 6 kids) up to our class to show us how Kyle put a motor on the kangaroo (which wasn’t in the plans) and made it move – WHAT A GENIUS! I was proud of him and he’s not even mine!

Kyle surprises me all the time and makes me proud too!  He is a bright young man, that will no doubt shine in his future endeavors, whatever they may be.

He was an absolute jewel the entire week!  Seriously, the happiest and most non-argumentative child.  Everyday he came home and practiced his piano and read in his book.  Then he would watch some of his Lord of the Rings movies, watched a little TV or played with one of his many Legos.  He never complained about dinner and ate some of his veggies.  He even showered every night with little resistance and brushed his teeth without being asked, morning and night.  He was in a routine of structure, family, and good eating habits.  Believe it or not, it made the world of difference on his attitude.

I highly recommend the Bricks 4 Kidz Lego camp or any of the offered classes!  The teachers are really great to deal with, they have such a positive attitude and the benefits the children receive are priceless.  I’m not just talking about learning to build, but the socialization, the structure, the added knowledge and the attention are so good for the kids.  Kyle was looking into other Lego classes and wants me to sign him up for more.  If he can fit it into his busy schedule, I totally will!

Thanks Lori!  You saved my birthday gift dilemma and brought so much more to one little boy than you can imagine!  You really are a true teacher through and through.

Below is a video I took of Kyle.  I creeped into the classroom, while he was still playing with his creation of the day.  The kid was in complete glory!

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