Gamers Start Small & Grow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Pokemon Twitter Converstation Aunt Heather Piper 10-2012

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

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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Heather?

Aunt
She isn’t my mother.
She isn’t my sister.
She’s one of the family
Who’s more like a friend.
Aunt
She has fun with me,
laughs with me,
listens to me, encourages me.
Aunt
She spends time with me,
believes in me,
shares with me, cheers for me.
Aunt
She understands me like a mother.
She’s there for me like a sister.
And perhaps best of all –
she loves me like a friend. ~Kimberly Rinchart

Kyle-&-Aunt-Heather-Piper-on-Merry-Go-Round-Idlewild

Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Picnic

My little man, what else can I say? I’ve reviewed how Kyle resembles my brother – his dad, my sister – his Aunt Nikki, my dad – his pappy, and my mom – his Gigi. There are a lot of cross over similarities and yet there are some traits that are distinctly a particular person.

Does Kyle resemble me at all? He sure does! Yes it’s true, Kyle is more of the engineering mind, but he is also a rare bread, complete with innovation, a strong personality, social skills and a  business visionary.

Obviously, Kyle’s physical traits don’t really resemble mine much. I will admit we do have the same type of skin, at least at this point in his life.  Also our noses.  We both have the perfect button noses.  A trait I’ve claimed as ours.  As for all other physical traits, you can’t even tell he’s related to me, our body types are different.  We don’t stand the same, or walk the same, and our outward presentations are not similar, not in the slightest.  If we talk about personality traits, now we’re getting somewhere!

As a baby just learning to walk, Kyle was always very structured.  What I mean is that everything had to be perfectly aligned.  Perfectly!  Kyle loved his Matchbox Cars, literally having hundreds of them. He would take the cars out one-by-one, examine them, and then line them up on the coffee table in rows. Every car was facing the same direction, front bumper to back, in perfect lines, until the entire coffee table was covered in Matchbox Cars.  That’s all he would do until it was time to put them away. Well, except if I was being ornery.

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Me & Kyle screwing around with my sunglasses 11/18/03

Once when Kyle was nearly finished placing the cars, I waited for the perfect time for him to look away to retrieve another car.  I took my foot and pushed the coffee table over so the cars slid off and all landed on the floor. I know it sounds mean, but the look on his face was hilarious!  He was first in complete shock like he just witnessed an earthquake for his cars.  Then, as he noticed my foot still on the evidence, a complete realization of what just happened settled in.  His nose crinkled, his face soured, and he came over to me and begin to push my foot off the side of the table saying “No Aiya! No!”  Making it very clear that this was no acceptable behavior.  He looked like my sister when she gets angry with me!  I know, it’s not nice to tease, but it’s good to shake things up with these engineers.  Keeps it real.

Kyle not only aligned his cars but also his juice boxes in the refrigerator.  They had to be right side-up, facing front in a perfect line on the shelf. Let me tell you about convenience stores. If I would extract a bottle of water from inside the cooler, Kyle would realign the bottles making sure all the labels were facing out.  If the second bottle didn’t slide down to the front, then Kyle would help it along.  Bystanders that have actually witnessed this behavior, smiled at the precious narcissistic little boy.  I will admit, I tend to have the same disposition, everything orderly, tidy and aligned.  I do notice details, as does Kyle, and sometimes the smallest things drive me crazy.  Although, Kyle tends to be very selective with his details and neatness.  He is not always consistent but the natural tendencies are certainly there.

Granted as Kyle grows and as he is presented with different situations, he shows traits from all of us, including his business mind. Not everyone has the ability to be structured and think out of the box and use forward thinking.  My brother had a business mind, as does my dad and both equally have the work ethic to accompany such talents.  I do believe I possess these traits as well, similar to Kyle.  He has this unique thinking of setting and accomplishing goals and the ability to understand the idea of profit while maintaining the integrity of business.  A regular businessman.  How do I know?  I’m not just making a broad statement.  He has proved it through the interaction and assistance of my company The Piper Corporation (Thrill of the Hunt, SpyRing).  Yes with the little involvement he has had, he has shown me all these traits.  He is also a natural leader and he knows how to (and does without any quorums) delegate.  Once I teach him to properly follow up and address everyone with respect, and learn how to really utilize resources, he will be a force to reckon with.  I just hope I am able to instill a good work ethic and appropriate business practices with good moral intentions.

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Me & Kyle at Idlewild… he is always a lot of fun at every age!  I love his perfectly round head!

Kyle’s people skills are pretty impressive!  He knows how to use his manners and speak directly to others.  Granted, sometimes he is a bit too direct, but like me, I love the candor and tend to steer in that direction.  Again as he matures, I can see his social skills tightening up and sharpening.  He already knows how to work a crowd to get their attention and to get what he wants, similar to his Aunt Heather.

As much as Kyle thinks, and he is a thinker, he forgets to think equally as much.  This behavior tends to get us both in sticky situations.

We both love to fish and I will admit, like Kyle, if I’m doing something I like, I want to perfect it and practice beforehand. Story time! Once when I was in elementary school, probably a little younger than Kyle is now, I decided to go outside and take advantage of the nice day and practice casting my fishing pole.  At the time mom had a dogwood tree in the middle of the yard.  Why is this relevant?  Because as I repeatedly cast my pole, I would caught a branch and have to pull my line out.  One would think that I would have just moved away from the tree, after all I had an entire yard.  But nope, I stood my ground until I cast my line in the top of the tree and couldn’t pull it out.   Yikes!  I didn’t know what to do.  Naturally the smart thing to do would have to cut the line.  Not me!  Instead I decreased the slack on the line and pulled the entire pole toward the top of the tree.  Yes, I let the fishing pole hang there in the dogwood tree.  Later that day, when dad came home from work, he noticed it instantly and asked no one in particular, in a very even toned voice, “Why is there a fishing pole in the tree?” I said, “I was practicing my casting and it got stuck.”  Nonchalantly dad replied, “Well don’t you think you better get it out?”  I knew I should, but for the life of me I didn’t realize at the time, breaking the line was an option, that is until weeks later when dad did just that.

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Me & Kyle rocking the night away at Chad’s Wedding

Sometimes Kyle goes on his one track-mind and doesn’t bother to open his eyes to those around him.  I’m sure this will change as he grows, after all he is a sincere caring kid.  He is not malicious in anyway.  Although, I do the same, but it’s only because my mind is usually focused on other things, probably similar to Kyle’s.  At this point in his life, I would put my life on it, that it’s Legos!  Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many people would say they saw me, and I NEVER saw them.  Even if I walked right past them.  This happens a lot when I’m driving.  Hopefully, I’m concentrating on road, although I’m guessing my mind is wondering elsewhere, but not towards Legos.

Kyle’s a dreamer too.  Not just uses his imagination, which he totally does, but he is a visionary.  He always creates these grandiose ideas of how something should be, or how it will be or how it’s going to unfold.  I tend to be that dreamer too.  But I do believe that’s a great quality to have, especially being an entrepreneur.  Dreaming big is never a bad thing, just failure to act on it is.

There are so many more comparisons including the love of snow!  We both enjoy sled-riding, snowboarding and the crisp cool days.  Neither one of us like to be hot and we certainly don’t enjoy sweating, even though he does more than me.

We both love to cook and to experiment with ingredients.  Maybe more me than Kyle, but we love to try new foods and learn and understand different culture.

And like the rest of the family, there is one trait we all posses besides believing in God.  I don’t mean to omit the big Guy because to me that’s a standard, however I’m learning it’s not the case with most people.  But this time I’m talking about TRAVELING!  We are all equally intrigued by the rest of the world, new sights and the sense of adventure.  None of us has ever been afraid to explore and my parents have always encouraged this behavior.  Which speaking of, this week is ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  They are doing a road trip tour of the New England States.  How fun!  Next trip, I’m going to sneak my way in on the action!

I guess Kyle is a little bit of each of us, making him the perfect mix!  He’s a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.  (That’s for mom’s benefit!)

Read the complete list of comparisons

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Gigi?

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Travels and have No Comments

Checkmate – Game of Chess

You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps.  Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it.  But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.  ~Stanley Kubrick

Aunt Heather Piper

Aunt Heather & Kyle Piper playing a game of chess at Fort Ligonier Days. 2009

Kyle has been really back on a chess kick lately.  I’m the same way, sometimes I just want to play the game and sometimes I forget all about it.  When Kyle was three years old, I remember sitting down with him and teaching him to play chess.  I never had any reservations about this young man learning the game.  At that point in his life, he already mastered Candy Land, Chutes n’ Ladders, and Monopoly Junior.  Pushing for Excellence  He was also working on puzzles with at least a thousand pieces and he knew his addition flashcards.  Again, going back to my same theory, “What’s it going to hurt?” SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

I remember the day, very distinctly when I introduced Kyle, to what will be his longtime love of Chess.  I asked Kyle if he wanted to play a game with me and naturally he was all for it.  He went through his list of standard games trying to figure out which one was on my mind.  Mentioning the game as I passed him to retrieve the box, he gave me a look of ‘What is chess?’ before asking me about the game.  I sat down without saying much only “You’ll see” and I gave him a smile and a wink.  I went straight to work, placing the pieces on the board.  His eyes were wide and curious while examining this intriguing game that he’s never seen before.  I will admit that my mysteriousness was making this new experience more dramatic and exciting.  Even I was falling prey to it, becoming more excited to play.

Kyle was squirming in his seat with anticipation when I started the role call, introducing him to each of the pieces.  First, I unveiled each figure by name and then I followed up with the maneuverability instructions for each piece.  Kyle sincerely got it!  I even remember letting him go first, which has become an unspoken rule with Kyle over the years.  As we moved around the board I would reiterate the moves of some of the pieces, but overall he seemed to understand how to play.  Now the strategy behind the game came a little later, but the love of chess was immediate.

Grandpap Chester's table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester made this table c. 1937  Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

In fact, my cousin Casey who is Kyle’s godfather, called and asked me what Kyle wanted for Christmas.  I usually try and give him different options and one was a chess game.  That Christmas, Kyle received his first chess set and he was excited!  I think I played more games of chess than I ever did in my entire life during that time. Casey certainly got his money’s worth.

Now the love of the game never disappeared, it was just stored away for a rainy day.  Every once in a while, we would pull out the game and play but Kyle’s video games started to take priority.  Then a month ago, while we waited to pick up our take-out dinner, Kyle took my iphone to play a game.  This is standard behavior when he thinks he’s “bored” for the whole five minutes of waiting.  I asked him, “What are you playing bud?” followed by his response of “Chess.”  I said, “Wow Kyle, we haven’t played a game of chess in a long time.”  As he remained focused on his game he lifted his head to give me a smile and a head nod.

After dinner, Kyle decided he didn’t want to play against the computer anymore, he wanted to play a game with me on my phone.  Now I was a little rusty, but graciously the game highlighted options for my potential moves.  That was helpful at first, but then slowly started to irritate me.  I will need to look into turning off that feature.  It was nice reengaging myself in the game and I really enjoy seeing Kyle using his cranium cavity for more than sending a stick person down a hill in a shopping cart.  (Shopping Cart Wars).

Grandpap Chester's Table 2 Aunt Heather Piper

Side view of Grandpap Chester’s checker table. c. 1937 Refurbished by Mike Olczak (cousin)

Recently, chess has become Kyle’s game of choice.  That’s all he wants to play, no video games, no ipod, no Nitendo DS, it’s all about the game of chess.  Last weekend my sister was home for her class reunion, Go Wildcats!, and he made her play against him too.  Would you believe that more than not, Kyle won against us?  Friday night, I played him a game, and I will admit that I was only half paying attention, clearly not taking my opponent seriously.  Yep, that bit me in the butt when he crushed me!  He didn’t just win, instead of finishing the game when he had me in checkmate, he decided to continue the game to capture as many of my pieces as he could.  He displayed his killings proudly, even telling my dad, “Look pap pap, it’s my trophy room.”  What a stinker!

When we did a rematch, I reminded Kyle of the dangers of arrogance and cockiness.  I could feel it leak through his pores, and I don’t like that at all!  He needs to remain respectful and composed.  I’ve even explained to him that those traits destroy people and causes them to fail, in everything they do in life.  Sometimes I like to take opportunities presented, even a simple situation, and use it as a life lesson.  This one was the best example.  As we continued with our game, I played like a champ; no more under estimating Kyle, no more distractions and absolutely no mercy!  Finally I won!  He smiled like a good sport and understood that I knocked him down a peg or two.  You know what?  Kyle didn’t care.  He didn’t get mad, he didn’t make excuses, in fact he commented on how he could improve his game next time.  Very impressive!

Every game we played, Kyle was definitely getting better and better.  He would even sacrifice certain pieces and set me up for traps to devastate my army.  An example, which was flawlessly executed, involved me taking Kyle’s pawn with my queen.  It looked like a no brainer, but after his move, I learned it was a set up!  Again I under estimated that child, he was learning strategy before my eyes.  I wasn’t paying attention to his knight, that is until he rode the horse in to capture my queen. What?  Very clever!  Great move!

Grandpap Chester table Aunt Heather Piper

Grandpap Chester signed the inside drawer of the checker table. Made in 1937 Mikey found this when he was sanding.

On Monday night after school, while we were eating Kyle set up the chess game again.  We started to play before his piano lessons, until we ran out of time.  Unfortunately, when I got back to the house, I came to the conclusion that Storm wanted to play too.  All the pieces were scattered all over the table, which she is not allowed on, and some pieces were on the floor.  As I gathered up the crime scene, I noticed I was eight pieces shy.  After I cleaned the house on Wednesday, I found four of the eight missing pieces, which leaves four chess pieces MIA.  Where could they have gone?  Maybe they are with the mouse and sticky pad? Of Mice and Me…Part 3  Kyle is not going to be happy about this!  I’m actually upset for him and kind of nervous to break the news.  Maybe it’s time for a new set!

 

Check out Mikey’s other furniture creations on his Facebook.  He is a true artist with wood!  He doesn’t do refurbished wood projects, although he made an exception for me, since it was my grandpap Chester’s table, Mikey’s uncle.

Send Mikey a message…  http://www.facebook.com/mike.olczak

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

Scavenger Hunt – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt! … Continued

There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.  ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-Team-9-22-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Rachel Berger-Gregg, Aaron Fish, Sarah Rosenbaum, Alaina Fisher 9/22/12

This past Saturday was the SpyRing Scavenger Hunt, hosted by Thrill of the Hunt in Latrobe Pennsylvania.  Not only were the proceeds donated to help rebuild Playland, but the event was to give the local children a fun activity through the reinforcement of scholastic subjects.

I am no stranger to working with munchkins on educational advancement, well really just Kyle.  Over the years I’ve helped to be an integral part of his learning process and I’ve helped to push him towards excellence.  Not to say he didn’t do a lot on his own, and let’s face it he’s a smart little man, but I’ve had to nudge him a time or two.

In addition to expecting good grades, I’ve also tried to reinforce the importance of community service.  Giving back to make a difference is a great and admirable quality.  Thinking of others and their well-being, especially if the recipients are children, is vital to oneself and our fellow neighbor. It’s a great feeling.  This type of volunteer involvement comes in all shapes and sizes, from money donations, to property or items, to giving time and even intellectual contributions. No matter how small or large the donation or how it came to be, it’s always appreciated and worth it.

Kids--Thrill-of-the-Hunt-9-22-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

The kids had a great time! SpyRing Scavenger Hunt presented by Thrill of the Hunt 9/22/12

My sister and I started the company Thrill of the Hunt based on this type thinking and behavior.  Please note we are a profit based business, not a not-for-profit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of our situation and help out when the opportunity arises.  Also being apart of something potentially bigger, from its infancy stages is exciting.  Not only that, but also making the most of it and doing the best job or task given at hand.  Being apart of the something to help make a difference all while being apart of a new business, it’s a win, win.

Now, let me discuss the Thrill of the Hunt Team.  They were stellar!  I mean, a great group of kids!  Building the company on these values of having fun and community involvement are all qualities exemplified naturally by my team.  They truly care for children and the support of family.  I am excited to have them on board and look for good things to come from each of these young adults.  They were not only very attentive to the kids during the event, but they were very helpful and supportive.  This is my sincerest shout out to Alaina Fisher, Rachel Berger-Gregg, Aaron Fish, and Sarah Rosenbaum.  What a great group, whom I want to employ moving forward with all my scavenger hunt events!  You know, I also want to help them out however I can, either for networking, work experience, as a reference or just to help them out with a job.  They are all intelligent, good, honest kids.

Thrill-of-the-Hunt-crowd-9-22-12-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Lovely day for a SpyRing Scavenger Hunt – presented by Thrill of the Hunt 9/22/12

Since Kyle couldn’t attend the event, due to his hunter’s safety class, he managed to call and check in.  He wanted to know how things were going at the time.  It’s funny talking to him makes me feel like I need to justify my actions, like he was my boss.  Kyle always seems to step into businessman mode, asking ‘How much money was made?’, ‘How many kids showed up?’, ‘Was everyone having fun?’.  My Kyle, there’s the reason we made him the consultant.  I will give him credit, no matter how pre-occupied or busy he is, he can still separate himself and go into business mode.

Success can be defined in a number of ways.  The SpyRing Scavenger Hunt was a success in terms of going through the process of putting it together and setting up the event.  That in and of itself, is a big task and knowing what to do the next time is invaluable.  Also getting the feedback from parents and the children who participated is extremely important to me.  With respect to the parents I really want to know if these events are favorable with them, if they agree with the layout and the focus of the scavenger hunts, to reinforce education and to get the kids out and moving around.  During the event, I was able to hear what the youngsters had to say about the challenges, and the game in general.  I went through the typical questions, ‘Are the questions too easy, too hard?’, ‘Was the game too short or too long?’, ‘Was it more fun to go through the game individually or as a team?’ and the list went on.  I made my notes and I’m ready for the next scavenger hunt, making it even better and exciting.

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Rachel Berger-Gregg, me, Alaina Fisher, Sarah Rosenbaum, Aaron Fish, Nicole Piper… Thrill of the Hunt 9/22/12

As the day unfolded we were able to brainstorm with parents.  At this time, we tried to think of the next big event,  Halloween of course.  Nicole and I decided to look into this theme for the next scavenger hunt event.  So again please check back for this event and get your kids involved.  I am always open to suggestions and ideas.  After all, I want the kids to benefit.

 

 

 

www.ThrillScavengerHunt.com

Scavenger Hunt – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt!

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

Scavenger Hunts – It’s the Thrill of the Hunt!

If you didn’t smell so appallingly luscious, he might not have bothered. But when I defended you… well, that made it a lot worse. He’s not used to being thwarted, no matter how insignificant the object. He thinks of himself as a hunter and nothing else. His existence is consumed with tracking, and a challenge is all he asks of life. Suddenly we’ve presented him with a beautiful challenge — a large clan of strong fighters all bent on protecting the one vulnerable element. You wouldn’t believe how euphoric he is now. It’s his favorite game, and we’ve just made it his most exciting game ever.  ~Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 19, p.397

Twilight-cover Aunt Heather PiperAbout a year ago, right before Breaking Dawn part 1 was to be released in theaters, I thought it might be fun to participate in a Twilight themed scavenger hunt.  I did what most of us do,  I headed straight for Google to get my answer, without success.  I found there were no such scavenger hunts offered.  Really?  At least there wasn’t anything around my area.  Then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be so much fun to have a Twilight themed scavenger hunt for fans?’  So, what do I do when I have a great idea?  I called my sister of course.  Dumping all my thoughts into words, I told Nicole about my idea.  She heard me out, and LOVED it!

Needless to say, my mind started to work into overdrive and do what I do best, plan.  I had so many great ideas for this scavenger hunt, I couldn’t contain myself, I was jumping out of my skin with excitement.  Ok so first things first, I wanted to do this the right.  Where do I start?  Copyright privileges!  Now, that’s not such an easy task.  It’s not like the movies are sitting around waiting on my phone call.  Searching high and low for a contact became a big challenge.  Eventually, I found an old online trail and followed it to success.  Kind of.  Believe it or not, I was able to get in touch with Summit Entertainment who owned the rights to the movies, the soundtrack and the photography.  Yes, I finally got a hold of someone internally in the copyright department!  We played phone tag and spoke on the phone a few nights, as well as corresponded through email.  Unfortunately, they did not give me permission to proceed using any of their copyrighted items.  Not that I blame them really.  Seriously, it’s not like I had any credentials or solid numbers to back up my abstract plans, it was just that, an idea.  And here I was talking to a major motion picture, a franchise worth billions of dollars, about my silly little concept with a bunch of unknown variables.  I will say they were very responsive and super nice!  And frankly, I’m surprised they entertained my free thinking dreams as long as they did.  I was crushed, but not ready to give up.

Next, I decided to contact the publisher, since I knew they owned the rights to the books and the covers.  It took me some time of reaching out to different publishers and several different companies, but finally I struck it rich, in the figurative sense.  I was able to get a hold of the right person, Stephanie Meyer’s agent.  Yep, I reached the top of the chain, second in line to Stephanie Myers herself.  I was so excited just to be conversing with this behind the scenes celebrity and sharing my ideas, again I thought I was going to explode with excitement.  We went back and forth via emails, playing phone tag, and voicemail tag, for a few weeks.  She loved my ideas, at least that’s what she claimed, even the details I shared with her about the scavenger hunt (which I will not divulge at this time, until I am able to execute my Twilight themed scavenger hunt).  Naturally, Nicole and I were declined copyright permission.  Again rightfully so, I really can’t blame Summit and the publisher; here we are two strange people with an idea, no business model, no concrete numbers, or solid plan of action and then asking a major franchise for copyright privileges.  Still it was a neat experience to go through.

*Please note with all of my correspondence between Summit Entertainment and the publishers, I chose to omit names out of respect.

Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt logo - Aunt Heather Piper

Some may say, I was crazy but I still knew in my heart this was a fun idea and I could make it successful, I still do.  Personally I still really appreciate both parties for entertaining my request and taking the time out of their busy do to do so.  Getting a hold of Summit Entertainment and the publishers, was not an easy task, let me tell you.  Not that it should be, because if it were, then everyone under the sun would be bothering them.  God was on my side and guided me in the right direction through my entire investigation.  Please take my broad stroke statements and be aware, trying to get contact information for the decision makers of these major companies, when I had nothing to go off of, took persistence and a blessing from above.

Thanks to my sister, the idea of scavenger hunts was not a dead dog.  Nicole called me one evening and said, “You know what I think we should do?  I think we should start a company, which focuses on scavenger hunts.  We could do ones for businesses that are team builders or leadership scavenger hunts.” I never really thought about that angel, I stopped short on my idea of Twilight and never looked past it.  So, me being in marketing, I started to scope the potential competition.  I discovered no one was doing themed scavenger hunts, at least not on a large consistent scale.  Now this, I can work with and take somewhere.  Conversing with Nicole over the phone, we discussed the ideas of themed scavenger hunts, ones focusing on movies, books, singers, history events, pop culture etc.  Nicole loved the direction and so Thrill of the Hunt was born.

Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt - Aunt Heather Piper

In order to get started we decided to hold a SpyRing themed scavenger hunt, which will be taking place this weekend at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Click her for all the details.  Thrill of the Hunt was created not only to be educational and provide fun themed scavenger hunts for adults and children of all ages, but it was established on the foundation of community involvement and participation.  I want these events to not only hit major cities, but small towns as well.  At the SpyRing scavenger hunt, a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to help rebuild Playland.

Read a few articles below for more on the devastation of Playland.

This play area was really the best outdoor facility I’ve ever seen for children.  It was in a great location under trees at Legion Keener Park, entertaining kids of all ages.  It was really a project that involved the entire community.  I want to see it shine again and I want children to have the opportunity to have a safe place to play.

I usually don’t promote much on my blog, but I will give myself a little call out this time.  Please help support Thrill of the Hunt (Facebook / Twitter) and SpyRing (Facebook / Twitter), follow each company on Facebook and Twitter.  We are small town girls who want to set our dreams in motion through reinforcement of education for children and through the development of fun outlets such as a scavenger hunts, fun for the entire family.  Look for new scavenger hunt events near you or tell me where you want us to show up.  Thrill of the Hunt is a subsidiary of The Piper Corporation.

 

Latrobe TV Aunt Heather Piper
posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.  ~Aristotle

Kyle-Piper-smile-SpyRing Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle sporting his SpyRing Gear c. 2011

Kyle, my nephew has always had good grades for the most part, specifically having a fascination and an attachment for math. When he was a little tike, around three years old, I bought him addition and subtraction flash cards. My thinking was, “What’s the harm? So he might learn something”. He did! Kyle loved those flash cards and he loved to learn.  He wanted to push his knowledge and show it off. Subtraction was a little more challenging but he certainly enjoyed the attention he was receiving from me and the idea of learning. What a little a sponge! I know I’m probably being bias, but Kyle was always pretty bright. He’s a logical thinker, which I still see to this day.

When Kyle was in second grade, his report card grades dropped across the board one quarter. I knew he was smarter than that, and I was not going to stand back and let this situation become his new standard, nor was I going to idly stand-by while his future education was being compromised.  Really?  Did anyone think I was going to accept his grades as they stood?  Did Kyle really think he could fool me when he said he was “Trying his hardest?”  Nope, nope and heck no!  I knew better and I believed in Kyle! Unfortunately, being Kyle’s aunt I don’t have complete privilege to his teachers or daily homework, only once a week and on the weekends.  Roadblock!

To be honest, I was utterly sick over the situation. It was that bad! Not to mention I had no idea why. There had to be a reason for such a sudden change. I asked Kyle if things were good in school, or if there was bullying going on, or anything. He really had no idea what I was talking about.  He felt bad that I was really upset over his grades but he was also basically saying “O well, I tried my hardest.”  That is until I grounded him.  Boy did he change his tone.  It’s amazing what taking away video games and TV time will do to an attitude.  I never did find the reason for the sudden downward spike in grades, but we did get past it.

Aunt Heather Piper SpyRing Trade Show CA

Me at the CA Baby & Kids Expo, LA CA 1/21/12

Granted I know the days of Kyle learning for fun were over, or wore they?  Now me being me, I decided to take this upon myself and help this child out. I’ve always purchased workbooks for Kyle and helped him uncover the knowledge in the pages.  He used to love them, but the times-were-a-changing, he was giving me resistance with workbooks and flash cards. Yikes! It started to build up fights between us, unnecessary ones.  The last thing I wanted was for Kyle to really hate school and learning.  I also didn’t want there to be constant struggles with our time together, which was a huge concern of my mom’s.  Mom was the one who kept saying, “You need to make it more fun for him.”

Since Kyle is a logical thinker, usually explaining things to him helps to turn on his light bulb.  Not this time.  I explained why I was requiring him to do the extra work.  I even threatened him saying the school was going to hold him back if his grades didn’t improve by the next quarter. And to be honest, if his grades kept up in that direction, it could have happened, especially since he was the youngest in his grade.  For the school, that would have been a logical step.  Nope!  Not on my watch. He was bright and he certainly could do the work without much effort.  I will admit Kyle was lazy when it comes to school work, only doing what is needed and going through it half way. I’m guessing he’s not alone in that manner, but I’m not responsible for other children, or so I thought initially.

SpyRing-CA-Baby-&-Kids-Expo-1-21-12 Aunt Heather Piper

Nicole at the CA Baby & Kids Expo LA, CA 1/21/12

During this time, we went to visit my sister, who lives in the D.C. Metro area. Like every visit, we always do something new in Washington, D.C. This time we decided to go into the Spy Museum. Wow, that was cool! I really enjoyed reading about the spies and seeing the spy “tools” or what I like to call them, spy toys. My sister, dad and my mom walked through, reading and taking in the knowledge displayed everywhere, while Kyle and I acted like spies ourselves. The museum had an air-duct type of display, allowing visitors to climb in and spy on the people below.  We had a field day!  When possible, I would read the information displayed on the walls.  Sometimes Kyle would stand still long enough for me to read to him and explain the story at hand.  I must say Kyle made the museum more exciting.

Well, needless to say that visit sparked an idea, unbeknownst to me at the time, that would turn into something a lot bigger.  From that moment on, the wheels were in motion for the birth of SpyRing.

SpyRing was originally created as a scavenger hunt for Kyle.  I designed it to reinforce school subjects in a fun and interactive way.  Kyle and I would take Scooby up in the woods, (Seven was not apart of the family yet) and we packed our book bags with the spy essentials and headed out on our missions.  We would make our way through the woods and track our progress by creating a map of our travels.  Along the way, I made up questions that led to other questions.  Kyle answered the trivia and occasionally he would pull out his binoculars or something he brought along to really play out the spy story.  We both had a blast!  The scavenger hunt not only reinforced what was being taught in school, but it also got Kyle off his backside to stretch his legs.  This relatively simple action with a little effort, not only helped  to create the SpyRing scavenger hunt, but it helped to build our bond.  I was no more, ‘Mean Aunt Heather making me do all this extra work’.  I was ‘Fun Aunt Heather who loved hanging out and learning was something fun’.

Ethan-Kyle-Piper-enjoy-SpyRing Aunt Heather Piper

Ethan & Kyle playing with the SpyRing cards 2011

It wasn’t until my cousin Casey and I took Kyle snowboarding that the idea to take SpyRing to the marketplace really became a serious thought.  I remember distinctly Casey saying, “Why don’t you sell the game?” At that point it was a custom scavenger hunt made specifically for Kyle. I knew I needed to develop it into a game for all kids no matter where they lived. My goal was to allow other kids to reap in the benefits of learning in a fun and interactive way.  During this time, it was interesting to run into other parents and listen to them discuss their child’s struggles and challenges in school.  This is when I knew I could help.

Suddenly it hit me like a ton bricks! I woke up one morning and I knew how to make the game assessable for all children with a reasonably low cost investment. God must have been working overtime to plant these ideas in my head.  Knowing initially it was going to be a card game, I went to work on actually developing the structure, build the contents and establish the design.  Kyle worked with me on the development of the game, even helping to create some of the questions.  Throughout the process I tested Kyle’s skills on ALL the information.  Pretty amazing, I set out to help Kyle with his schoolwork and we were doing just that, intensified.  I must say it was a fun process.  Kyle was apart of something bigger.  He knew it and he loved it every step of the way.  This is when Kyle’s business side of the brain was revealed.

By the next report card, Kyle’s grades had jumped.  Some grades where back to where they began and others were slowing moving up.  Kyle was proud of himself and now understood what needed to be done and how to do it.  Or least what I expected from him.  I believe without setting expectations, children will not know what to strive for and the right direction they need to move towards.  You see I believe parents are like coaches.  They know how to push their players to get them to strive for excellence.  That is their job as coach, to never settle for average or ‘just ok’.  They need to know the limitations of their players, but also know how to overcome them.  However, coaches also know how to work with their players and set them up for success.  It certainly takes effort from both parties to make this happen but when the game has been won, everyone benefits.  Children should be respected and shown they are important and smart.  They should also be given the opportunity to learn, excel and shine in this world.

SpyRing logo w BP Aunt Heather Piper

Sometime during the developmental stage of SpyRing, I was discussing the game with my sister.  She instantly loved the idea and believed in the goal, to help reinforce education for children. She went to work and started The Piper Corporation with the flagship product being SpyRing. As of now SpyRing is an interactive card game of questions and answers, however we are now developing the SpyRing scavenger hunt, as it was originally created.  Thrill of the Hunt, another division of The Piper Corporation will be hosting a SpyRing scavenger hunt called Your Passport to Education this Saturday at Legion Keener Park in Latrobe, PA.  A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to help rebuild Playland!  Stop by!

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

GoDaddy Down & Up

The response was overwhelming.  I like to share what I have learned with others about everyday happenings as well as issues that make a difference in the world of business.  ~Bob Parsons

This past Monday, in the middle of the day, I noticed all my websites were down.  Yep, that means good old AuntHeather.com was down.  At first I thought it was something I did while making updates the night prior.  In disbelief over this outage, I turned to Facebook to see if others were experiencing issues.  I first saw the breaking news on Mashable – GoDaddy’s DNS Servers Go Down, Along With Thousands of Sites.   Evidently, anyone who had web hosting and domain names pointed from GoDaddy, were all down due to a hacker issue.

Monday night I had Kyle for his piano lessons.  During dinner I flipped on Channel 4 news, a bad habit while eating, and among other stories, I caught the one about GoDaddy going down.  As I was listening to the news, Kyle was half paying attention, strumming his guitar and playing with Storm.  I did make a comment on the GoDaddy situation, but again it didn’t seem to mean anything to Kyle and I didn’t think much of it until later that evening.

As Kyle and I were heading to his music lesson, a friend of mine was texting me, letting me know GoDaddy was back up again.  Naturally, Kyle checked my text messages while I was driving and read me the contents.  All of a sudden, he got this look on his face of complete fear and disbelief.  He asked me, “Aunt Heather does that mean our sites are down?  Even SpyRing?”  I said, “Yep, but Kelly said her sites are back up, which means ours should be too.  I’m going to look when we get inside.”  Spoken like a true business man, he said, “So how does anybody know about our stuff, if they don’t see it on our websites?”  Answering him, I said, “They won’t, that’s why it’s such a big deal, everyone associated with GoDaddy is down.”  Still in business mode, Kyle requested that I check our sites immediately when we get in the building.  He makes me laugh out loud!  I was planning on it, but it’s funny to see that Kyle feels the need to manage and direct me.

Upon conclusion of his piano lesson, he immediately went back into businessman mode and asked me about our sites.  “Aunt Heather, how’s SpyRing? and Thrill of the Hunt?”  I said, “All looks good, Piper Corporation and Aunt Heather are all back up.”  Naturally he didn’t care about my blog but it was neat to see his understanding for the value and importance of the company websites and his sense of urgency.

The next morning I read a story from CNN Tech – Hacker claims responsibility for GoDaddy outage.  The article claimed

“A person affiliated with the hacking collective Anonymous — named @AnonymousOwn3r on Twitter — claimed responsibility for the outage.”

Really?  Was that necessary?  If hackers need something to do, then I have a laundry list to put them to work.  There is no doubt, these hackers are a brilliant bunch and very intelligent, but they claimed to want to check the security of GoDaddy.  Really?  Was there act so selfless?  If that was the case, then don’t take down the company who in turn effects a large part of the population and their businesses, and not certainly for a better part of the day.  But then again, I’m no hacker, so what do I know.  Putting a positive spin on the situation, maybe GoDaddy has beefed up their security.

I can honestly say, I am a customer of GoDaddy’s and this situation has not changed my view of the company.  In fact, I thought they did a pretty good job returning things to their original state.  Personally I think GoDaddy is reasonably priced and they have GREAT customer service.  In the years that I’ve been a patron of GoDaddy, I’ve never had an issue.  I know I’m not the only one in this camp.  GoDaddy!

Also, thank you GoDaddy for the credit I received today because of the mishap.  That really helped to strengthen my view of your customer service.  I know you value and appreciate my patronage.

Techtalk Aunt Heather Piper- GoDaddy

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

My Turn to Strike Out!

Temper is a funny thing; it spoils children, ruins adults, and strengthens steel.  ~Unknown

Kyle at Chad's Wedding 8-31-02 Aunt Heather Piper

Me & Kyle at Chad's wedding. I dressed him in a suit. 8/31/02

Well, usually when Kyle acts up and I have to get mad, he straightens up.  But then again, not always.  I will say, Kyle has not been feeling well, with the ear infections and his allergies kick’in out of control, but that’s no excuse for being difficult.  But when I am in the wrong, I will call it out and show that Kyle’s Whining, Stubborn, Difficult – Strike Out! is not the only one who can strike out.  Two weekends ago Kyle continued where he left off from that Wednesday.  Well, to be fair to him, not entirely, but it was I who was still simmering.  My fuse had already been partially burned.  Kyle was pretty good, he even walked to the local store with me on Friday night and he took a walk with me and the dogs on Saturday morning.  Now I’m not saying he started off walking with speed and gusto, but he did make the effort.  We went through the usual complaining about the socks, and then he complained about his boots, and he didn’t want to wear his hoodie, even though it was in the 40s -50s on Saturday.  This is all pretty standard, but when my fuse is already almost non-existent, it doesn’t take much.  I will say I did make a resounding observation during our journey.  Across the board, during our expeditions, especially the longer the walk, Kyle’s attitude straightens up.  Maybe it’s the endorphins or maybe the quality time, or just being around nature.  Whatever the reason is, I love it and it makes for a more enjoyable walk.

When we got back to the house, we made lunch for everyone including roasted vegetables.  Kyle volunteered to help, he was a peeling machine.  The rest of the day went pretty straight forward, we watched the Green Lantern, ran to the store to pick up a birthday gift for Kyle’s friend, he worked in his workbooks when I asked, and later in the evening Kyle went to the grocery story with dad to help him out. Kyle and I even had the opportunity to start the next Harry Potter book, The Half-Blood Prince book.  Now was Kyle the perfect child, no, but when asked by my mom to load and unload the dishwasher he ignored her and he didn’t practice his instruments.  However, in the scope of things, he really impressed me.

Now moving into Sunday and how I completely struck out.  Since mom was not feeling well, actually most of the weekend, Kyle and I went to early mass, followed by CCD class.  He was really good in church.  Before hand, we did have an issue with buttoning of one of the buttons, which by no means was even close to his neck.  Then there was the standard argument about wearing his hoodie, which he always drags along beside him as if he’s so completely tortured by the piece of clothing.  This time Kyle didn’t serve mass and he was very attentive and the most reverend child sitting in the pew.  He participated in the hymns and when I asked him what the reading was about, I was surprised by Kyle’s attentiveness to some of the details recited in the literary.  Impressed!

Kyles-First-Holy-Communion-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle's First Holy Communion. He was allowed to pick out his tie, but he had to wear a suit.

As lunchtime crepted upon us, I knew we had to leave around 1:00ish so I could drive Kyle to his friends birthday party, a good 45 minutes away.  Not that I mind, not at all, but when Kyle doesn’t appreciate and expect things, it sometimes wears on me.  He was getting ready to leave and the one thing that really bugs me is Kyle’s appearance.  It has drove me crazy for years now.  He always looks so sloppy and unkempt.  He can wear a variety of cloths and still not look so sloppy.  Not to mention, there are appropriate cloths needed for different occasions.  Now I was the one who was insisting on him wearing nice slacks.  Ok, I was going overboard since I already knew Kyle doesn’t like buttons and zippers on pants and this was a birthday party for boys who were planning on playing outside.  Well, he just had a complete melt down by my mention of the slacks.  I told him I would take him to the store to get new, “nice” pants and a matching shirt for his birthday party, but he just sobbed.  Later, I found out that he thought I was going to make him wear church cloths.  I mean the absolute horror of the thought. (sarcasm)

Once we got to the store I was still completely ticked.  In fact, I told him, you’re on your own, you find your own cloths.  He was excited and nervous by the gesture and now the time was flying past us and he didn’t want to miss any part of the party.  Not that I blame him, considering the boys were planing on having a Nerf war in the birthday boy’s backyard.  As I was acting like him, and walking extremely slowly I realized, ‘Now who is acting like a spoiled kid.’  Yes, I’m embarrassed to say I was acting like Kyle just to show him how it feels.  As he was trying to make small talk with me, I was just saying “Ya, No, I don’t know.” etc. just like Kyle does.  I was kind of being mean, certainly not one of my finer moments.  He was even being considerate and went to the sell rack, he said “Aunt Heather this way if I get dirt on them it really doesn’t matter.”  Now what a sweet kid, which you would think would melt my stone cold heart, but nope not yet.

Then as we drove to our final destination, I started going below the speed limit, which anyone who really knows me is aware of my led foot.  But then I realized Kyle might be late, and that bothered me more than making a point.  You see, I had being late even if it’s not for me.  I can’t stand tardiness, no matter what.  Then I noticed the excitement in Kyle’s eyes, knowing he has been waiting for this party for a few weeks now and it was a beautiful day.  Not to mention the patience Kyle was exemplifying.  Yikes!  How could I be so mean?  Well, I got him to the party just on the money and gave the house mom my cell phone number  just in case they needed to get a hold of me.  I left and found a local park, since I lived about an hour away and the party was only two and a half hours long, I decided to do laps, making the most out of the beautiful day.  When I picked up Kyle, I heard he was polite and well behaved, but he clearly didn’t want to leave, as he slowly worked his way to my car.

Scooby-found-a-bone-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle watching Scooby as he found a bone c. 2012

Kyle was such a happy boy the rest of the day and I apparently was not.  We usually leave my parents house around 8:00 or so on Sunday evenings to go back to my house.  This particular Sunday I was working on SpyRing and Kyle came to me bugging me to leave, I said, “It’s only 6:00?” and then I went into a rant saying “O I have to leave when Kyle says so, everything is revolved around Kyle and when he wants to do things, without taking others into consideration” and so on and so forth.  What I didn’t realize Kyle just wanted to spend some time with me and he wanted me to sit and read with him.  Ok, totally my turn to strike out!  After I collected my thoughts and started thinking like a rational person, we left.  In the car I apologized for my behavior.  To lighten the mood and not make him feel so bad, I found a few fun songs on the radio, turned them up really loud, and sang along in the worse tone imaginable, while I threw up my hands around and poked Kyle in the side.  He just sat there and laughed, probably thinking, ‘There’s something wrong with my Aunt Heather.’

The minute we walked in the house, Kyle quickly grabbed the book and directed me to the chair to commence reading.  He sat along the side of the chair, partially leaning on me and reading along as he always does.  I’m glad he suggested the reading, it gave us much needed peace and time together.  When we read like that the TV is never turned on, we get completely engrossed in the story.  After all Reading Brings Generations Together.  That’s the joy of a family, after all is said and done, a little quality times makes everything perfect again and all is forgotten and forgiven.

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

Harry Potter Made Me Do It!

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.  ~Dr. Seuss

Kyle reading Harry Potter 12-7-11

Kyle reading Harry Potter. 12/7/11

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry I HATE READING!, it took some creative effort and encouragement to get Kyle to enjoy reading.   I am happy to announce that those days of negativity have passed.  His imagination has really sprouted and opened up in the world he reads.  In fact, while I was reading the Hunger Games trilogy, he asked me what it was about.  He was truly curious and interested.  He was no longer intimidated by the number of books, absence of images, or the volume count.  He said he thought about reading them, but then he said to me, “Well, I was actually thinking about reading the Lord of the Ring books, and then maybe I’ll read those books.”   I told him to say the word and we’ll go to the book store and he can pick whatever book we wanted or if he wanted to borrow any one of my books.  I even have a series of Star Wars books that I read years ago and I decided to give him.

Kyle is still currently on the Harry Potter books, I believe he is almost done with Goblet of Fire.  What is funny is Kyle’s enthusiasm for me to catch up to him in the Harry Potter books.  I showed him my backlog of books and he said, “Wow, Aunt Heather, you have a lot of reading to do before you can get to the Harry Potter books, so you better keep reading!”  He cracks me up!  I said, “Yes sir, I do.”  Periodically, he would ask me how many more books are in front of the Harry Potter books and I have to give him the count.

I don’t think I ever really explained Kyle’s love for the Harry Potter books. You see the deal was, I would read him the books.  And when I mean read, I meant with my best British accent and character impersonation I could muster along with the rhythm of excitement and emphasis at the right moments.  He became so into the first book, The Sorcerer’s Stone,  he would grab the book in the middle of day, omitting to watch TV and ask me to read to him.  To really get into the story, without distractions, we would go back to his room and cuddle on the bed while I read.  After about three or four chapters of reading I would need a drink and a break but Kyle would plead with me to keep reading.  We both got into it!  He would squirm and squeal during scary or exciting parts, which made me more involved in the story and made me laugh.  I tried to make the characters come to life, as per the movies, since he was a big fan.  Once, I forgot to add my version of a British accent and Kyle stopped me immediately and said, “No, Aunt Heather, the real way you read! The other way.”  O my goodness, yes the accent did help make the story more cultural, even though my sister didn’t appreciate it.

Are We Alone book - Aunt Heather Piper

A book Kyle was reading last year. Sometimes he is his Aunt Nikki! c. 2010

When my sister was home for a weekend, I told Kyle why doesn’t he invite his Aunt Nikki to join our reading time.  We all piled on the bed, including Pudd’in.  As I proceeded to read, Nicole started to snicker and said, “Yes Aunt Heather, just like when we were in London.”  I told her I was a quarter British and I was doing just fine!  She couldn’t help but laugh over that comment.

I must say I LOVED our time together reading.  Then came the dreaded day when he wanted to start taking the books to school to read.  Now I was in shock!  I asked him, “I thought you wanted me to read to you?”  He said, “I do, but I also want to read them on my own in school.”  What could I say, I was between shock and pride thinking about those years of pushing and bribing and arguing.  After all, that’s the moment I’ve been waiting for.  And I must admit I was sad, only because I so enjoyed reading with Kyle and watching the expressions on his face and the tension in his body from being completely consumed by the story.

Now, getting to the original point of the story.  A little while back, Kyle had his school musical.  That’s when I found out that Kyle got in trouble for reading in class.  Now that didn’t seem like Kyle.  He is very adamant about obeying the rules.  The story seemed a bit exaggerated.  Later that day, I picked Kyle up from the bus to go to Light Up Night.  I wasn’t mad but more curious over the situation. I said, “Kyle I’m not mad but I do want to know why the teacher took your book from you.”  He put his head down with the slight smile. “I was reading my Harry Potter book in class.”  I said, “That doesn’t sound like you.  What did the teacher say?  Did you get your book back? Did she really throw it out in the hall?”

“No, Aunt Heather, she just said to pay attention to the kids at the chalkboard.  Then, after I she caught me reading again, she took my book from me.  She didn’t throw it, well maybe on the desk, but I got it back at the end of class.”

“Why would you not listen to your teacher?” Still in disbelief.

“I was waiting for them [the students] to finish their problems and then I would pay attention.”

Kyle was utilizing his time management skills!  While all the other students were staring out into space, Kyle wanted to read in his book!  I busted out loud laughing!  I immediately said, “Well, I’ll give you credit for making the most of your time and I’m happy you’re enjoying the book.”  He was happy to hear that and I think was relieved he wasn’t in trouble with me.  After all, how could I get mad over a desire to read!  I did tell him to respect authority and left it at that.  I smiled with excitement the entire way to Pittsburgh for Kyle’s love of reading.

Read the prequel I HATE READING!

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

I HATE READING!

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Kyle and Aunt Heather Piper reading 11-18-03

Me & Kyle reading the dinosaur book. He was mimicking me with my own sunglasses. 11/18/03

There was a time when getting Kyle to realize the true adventure and the worlds of fun contained in books was like climbing Mount Fuji, it was a struggle.  Not to mention getting him to understand the importance of reading and the education that comes through books was an even bigger challenge.  I will admit I tried and I tried and I tried.

From the time Kyle was a tiny infant till about the age of five or six, he loved having someone read him stories.  My mom and I would read him poems, books, magazine articles, you name it.  We would sit on the rocking chair, cuddle and read.  He loved it!  He would get a book and bring it to one of us to read to him.  In fact, that’s how I found out that I can no longer read while riding in a car. I once tried to read Kyle his dinosaur book in the backseat and almost lost my weeks lunches, dinners, breakfasts and snacks.  I think you get my drift.  I remember when I was putting myself through college and I worked two jobs, one was the midnight shift at UPS.  By the time I would get to my parents house, it was around five in the morning and I was dead to the world.  The minute Kyle would wake up, he made a bee line to my bed.  Sometimes he would crawl in bed with me (with a little sleepy nudge from my hand to get him in bed).  He was usually dragging one of his music books with him.  He would flip through the book and pretend to read to me.  I wish I was more awake, but getting three hours of sleep a night sometimes would catch up with me.  Yep, the love for books and reading was instilled in him at a young age.

That is, until he was old enough to read.  Then Kyle decided he HATED reading.  Yep, he would say it day in and day out.  I must say those words really upset me.  Well, me being me, I decided to get creative to help develop a love for reading and the ability of getting lost in books.  When he had a book he had to bring home from the school library, I would pull it out and get really excited about his book selection, even when it was about bats, spiders, or the time he brought home a book on the most poisonous snakes.  Gross!  But regardless, I would try.  Sometimes I would just sit there reading a few pages until he asked me what I was doing.  Then I would just blurt out saying, “Wow, that’s incredible!” or “Holy smokes, I didn’t know it could do that!”  Yep, anything to get his attention.  Sometimes that would spark his interest enough to sit with me and at least entertain me.

Kyle with his Lego Book from Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle with his Lego book I got him. I tried to get him interested in any type of literature.

I even went as far as to make a deal with Kyle, when he was reading the Goosebumps stories, which did not contain pictures and were his first chapter books.  To Kyle those books were his Mount Fuji.  I told him I would take turns with him reading.  He would read a page and then I would read a page.  At the end of two pages I would act out the scene.  I noticed at this time Kyle was not really comprehending what he was reading.  He was just saying the words out loud, not really computing what was going on.  I thought me acting would help to bring the book to life.  We had a blast!  Once he was done with a page, he would stop, even in mid sentence and say, “Ok Aunt Heather now it’s your turn to read.”  Then I would read my page and sometimes I would forget and turn the page.  Kyle would stop me saying, “No Aunt Heather, go ahead and act it out.”  As he sat there in anticipation, I jumped around the living room and creeped up from behind the couch.  Kyle would really get into the book.  He would sit and squeal with every motion as if he was in the story.  Sometimes I couldn’t help but laugh at his reactions.  That method worked for a while.  But Kyle would not sit and read a book by himself.

Every Easter has always been a tradition for my mom to get us books, hence became my tradition with Kyle.  I tried the Warrior books and other books.  Nothing.  Finally I got him the Wimpy Kid books.  He begrudgingly would read them to me, and examine the illustrations.  He didn’t really get into those books until his daycare made a mandatory reading time for the kids.  They had to bring in a book of their choice and read for a half an hour every day.  Once they completed a book, they received a coupon for something free at McDonald’s.  I’m not a fast food fan, but if this was getting Kyle to read, I was all for it.  Not to mention it helped that other kids in his class had already read the books, and I found out, in their own way, were encouraging Kyle by getting him excited for the adventures.

Aunt Heather Piper and Kyle at Christmas 2003

Me & Kyle playing with one of his puzzles. Christmas 2003

Kyle has never had the most perfect grades when it came to reading and language.  Now if we were talking about math, science and even music that was a different ball of wax.  I really wanted to help him out.  Now I’ve used other ploys such as bribing him, threatening him, and even ignoring him.  I even developed SpyRing (www.SpyRing.com) to assist in reading and reading comprehension as well as all school subjects.  This helped Kyle in terms of practice for reading and getting into the spy theme.  He loved the challenge of the questions and the interaction with another person.  Great!  But since SpyRing was not a book, YET, I needed to try another method that was successful at least in terms of getting him excited about reading books.

At this point, I decided to go back to the basics.  I always wanted to read the Harry Potter books, but I never got around to them.  So I purchased the entire seven book set for Kyle’s tenth birthday.  When he opened up the gift I was shot a look of, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’.  I told him the deal was that I would read them to him.  That was it.  Kyle loved the movies so I thought, what the heck, at least I’ll be able to hang with Kyle and finally read the books.  Kyle also knew that when I said I would read to him, he knew I would do it with total enthusiasm,  expression, complete emotion, excitement and all the pizazz I could muster.  Now that appealed to him and so the stories started to unfold and I loved every minute of it.

Never give up! Just as books expand and occupy the mind, explore your mind to gain access to the books.  When you’re doing what’s right, you are never wrong.  Happy Reading!

 

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Pushing for Excellence

Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts

What is the limit for pushing someone? When is too much, too much? When you care for someone, is there a limit? Should there be a limit? I guess these are very broad questions that should be narrowed down slightly.

Aunt Heather Piper with Kyle Piper in the hospital

My little man had pneumonia but still loved his flash cards

I love Kyle very very very much, pure and simple!  There will never be a time in which that will ever change. Absolutely, never! So getting that out of the way… Do I push Kyle too much? Knowing that Kyle is a smart, bright and outgoing little man who craves attention and has a ton of potential, is it so wrong to push him to excellence and set his standards high?

Kyle Piper and Nicole Piper at Air and Space Museum

Kyle with his Aunt Nikki at the Air & Space Museum 6/27/09

I don’t think so. When Kyle was two years old, I bought him flash cards containing words, colors, numbers, letters and such. He Rocked at them! Not only did he pick up on the basic information, but he really enjoyed playing flash cards with me. Then, by the time Kyle was three years old, I decided to pick up addition and subtraction flash cards. I mean, why not? What’s it going to hurt? I showed him how to add using his matchbox cars as an example and all I can say is WOW! He picked up on the addition so fast, or at least better than I expected, keeping in mind that I’m no expert at raising a kid. But, in my mind, Kyle was doing really well. And more importantly, he enjoyed the flash cards and being challenged. Subtraction was a bit more difficult, but he still seemed to want to learn. Then, by the time he was four years old, I decided to start purchasing workbooks. I intentionally purchased workbooks that were targeted for ages five and up in all subjects. He loved them! The more challenging the books, the more I would see him think and figure out the problems. His little gears were grinding. Being able to participate in such a learning process was truly amazing and a blessing.

Looking back on it now, it seems like such a long time ago.  Kyle is no longer enthused about workbooks, flashcards or even taking a walk with me, which he really enjoyed until a few years ago. I know he is growing up and tastes change, but I believe there are some things that should remain consistent, like education.  Of course that’s where SpyRing comes into play, literally.  It’s an educational card game for children that focuses on reading and reading comprehension coupled with all school subjects.  I can get that later.

Kyle Piper and his piano recital 5-17-09

Kyle's piano recital 5/17/09

In going through Kyle’s workbooks this weekend, I realized that he doesn’t like to do them, but it does help to sit and work along side him.  He started enjoying them and showing off what he remembered from last year, even though it took me a little over an hour to get him to sit down and do my assigned work.  I kept hearing, “Why, Aunt Heather? Why do I have to do extra work?” and, “I already did my school work, so why do I have to do more?”  Imagine that, in the most annoying whine possible coming from a ten year old.  Of course, every time he said something, I tried to explain that I’m only helping him out and it’s good practice.  But that seemed to give him permission to start the whine recital all over again.  I try to explain that it’s not a punishment, it’s a reward to learn.  Of course, he’s a ten year old that just sees… work.

Well, like I tell Kyle time and time again, “I invented stubborn and I’m not giving up on you.”  I guess that’s part of my job.  Am I the only one who give additional work?  Does anyone else have a child that likes to whine?

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