Aiya! Kyle’s Name of Endearment

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  ~William Shakespeare


Me, Kyle & Nicole at the Gutchess Picnic at Idlewild 8/2004

I don’t know how most people are, but our family is big on nicknames or childhood names continued throughout life.  When Kyle was just able to speak he would call me Aiya, pronounced \ī-yuha/.  I’m guessing it was a combination of Aunt and Heather.  No matter, it was Kyle’s word for me and I loved it.  ‘Heather’ is a bit difficult for children to say and then to throw in the ‘Aunt’ can cause a little difficulty.  Not to mention for the first few years of Kyle’s life, he was hard of hearing due to all of his ear infections, respiratory problems, tonsillitis, phenomena and such.  Kyle created Aiya, I understood it to refer to me, I answered to it, and that was my name!

When Kyle was three months old, my sister and I started calling him Narrow.  Evidently, the name ‘Kyle’ comes from the Gaelic origin, meaning a place-name referring to the narrows.  When Kyle was a little tyke he was nothing but narrow.  He had a wide neck, wide feet and legs and a big head, yet he was compact and short in length.  To humor ourselves, we used to say “Our little Narrow” because he was the opposite of slim and narrow.  Then, the name just stuck.  That was nearly twelve years ago.  When talking to Kyle, I usually refer to him as Narrow, but when writing about him, it’s easier to write Kyle.  I love both names and intermix them equally, after all the name Kyle, which I love, was given to him by his dad.  Now his Aunt Nikki and I gave him another name of endearment.  Similar to all his other nicknames I’ve used such as:  ‘Stinker’, ‘Turkey’, ‘Turkey Jerky’, ‘Little Man’, and my favorite, ‘The Package’.

I used to ask Kyle, “What do I call you?” and he would reply “Narrow.”  Then I would ask “What is your name?” by which he would reply “Kyle”.  Then I would continue our interrogation by asking  him “Why do I call you Narrow?” At first he would get this confused look on  his face and sincerely say, “I don’t know”, with which I would reply, “‘Cause I love you!”  He would simply smile and know I was speaking the truth.


Aunt Irene, who is really my cousin & godmother, yet I call her Aunt Irene. She’s holding a little Kyle & her daughter Katie is peeking over her shoulder. c. 2002

Over the years as Kyle’s speech improved, once we got him into speak therapy classes to get him caught up to children of his age, he learned to say my name.  I remember the first time he really tried it out and enunciated it with complete perfection.  It brought tears to my eyes.  As I was sitting there, Kyle walked up to me, held my face in his hands to get my complete attention, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Look I can say Aunt Heather!”  He said it very slowly and deliberately, to catch every syllable.   He was so proud of himself, and as was I.  All I could say was “Wow buddy!  That’s really good!  You’ve been practicing!  But what do you call me?”  Instantly he smiled and said “Aiya!”  As much as I loved hearing my name release from his lips with crystal clear precision, I will admit I loved my little nickname.

While Kyle continued saying my name appropriately and eventually abandoned Aiya, I continued to call him my Narrow.  It’s funny, when people mistaken Kyle for my son and call me mom, Kyle will correct them with pride and say, “That’s my Aunt Heather!”  Love my little man!

Every once in a while we share or re-share Kyle’s childhood stories with him.  Stories he really fancies.  Not long ago I brought up the time when he used to call me Aiya and when he started calling me Aunt Heather.  Not remembering that far back, keep in mind it was only a few years ago, I told Kyle the evaluation of my name through his eyes.

Then the strangest thing happened.  He has now reverted back to calling me Aiya.  Keep in mind it’s more of a conscience effort, but I can tell he still wants to use it.  It’s almost as if he likes the name, or more our tight bond we have, and he wants to display it out loud.

Do I care?  Nope!  Not one bit!  I am his Aunt Heather or his Aiya or whatever he chooses to regard me with his love and affection.  After all, my mom has been named Gigi by Kyle and that has stuck ever since.  He only references mom as ‘Grammy’ when he is speaking to other people so they understand.  In fact, we all use Gigi to refer to my mom, trying to keep a piece of Kyle with us at all times!  Love my Narrow!


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

2.2 – Temper Tantrum

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.  ~Bruce Lee


Casey, holding Kyle & Nicole at Kyle’s Baptism 10/28/01

When Kyle was just a baby, he would throw the typical child temper tantrum.  Nicole used to say “2.2” every time this happened.  Meaning, Kyle’s attitude would change from pleasant little boy to screaming little demon in about 2.2 seconds, literally.  It was actually hilarious.  Kyle would be a happy baby one minute, then he would get this wrinkle between the eyebrows just before the tears flowed.  2.2!  This behavior didn’t last very long, usually, nor did it happen frequently.  But enough to notice the signs and recognize the storm brewing.  Of course, it was a very short window of detection, if at all.  Then again, sometimes I provoked the winds to start brewing.

Certainly, once the tantrums started, I couldn’t help but antagonize the clearly upset child.  Not so much when he was an infant, but definitely by the time he was able to walk.  Then, there were those other occasions, when I would nudge his behavior just to get a rise out of him.  Not to be mean.  No!  I was teaching Kyle valuable life lessons, early.  Sort of.

Example time!  I know, I’ve talked about this before, but it warrants another pass.  Kyle loved his matchbox cars.  Yes, he would drive them around but mostly he would line them up on the coffee table, very precisely bumper to bumper, trunk to hood.  He did this in long perfect, well thought out rows, until the entire coffee table was covered in cars.  It was quite amazing watching him spend all that time creating a used car parking lot.  Every now and again, just to throw him off his game, I wait for him to turn around to retrieve another car to add, and my foot would happen to tip the coffee table over so all the cars rolled off.  Now it’s not as bad as it sounds.  Yes it was hilarious, especially the first time when he was in utter shock and didn’t understand what had happened.  Then he got wise to me.  2.2!

On a side note, what was the life lesson for tormenting the child?  I wanted him to get used to things disrupting his perfection, his obsessive compulsive behavior.  I wanted him to be able to handle things not going his way, and throwing a monkey wrench in his system so he would learn to adjust.  Did it work?  Yes and no.  I’ll talk about that one day.


Nicole holding our bottle lover while I took a picture at Chad’s wedding

It would be completely inaccurate to say that most tantrums were not caused by me, or involved me to some degree.  But I will admit, they were not all started because of my antagonistic personality.  Kyle played a role and lent a helping hand to bring on the 2.2.  But then again, I may have prolonged the fit of rage, a bit.  Especially when the tantrum involved his bottle!

You see, Kyle loved his bottle, much like myself when I was a baby.  When he would get mad, to show his disdain, he would get up, walk out the front door onto the porch and toss that bottle as hard as he could into the yard.  This was done with a permanent scowl look on his face.  We would all laugh, just because he was too comical.  Seriously!  I would say, “I guess he’s mad” and then Nicole would turn to me and say, “2.2”.  Usually that was my cue to torment a little.  He was way too adorable to pass up and hilarious.  I couldn’t resist!  Always retrieving the discarded milk vessel, I made sure it eventually made its way back to Kyle.  If he was really upset or angry, he would show me, with a glare that could have melted ice, while going back whence he came, and tossing the bottle off the porch returning it to the grassy plain.

What caused such behavior?  Usually, it was due to a misunderstanding between me and Kyle when we were playing.  He wanted me to play a specific way and he misunderstood me for someone to follow his orders.  Hence, I wouldn’t play the way he wanted me to, usually with his cars or Thomas the Tank.  In not bowing down to his direct orders, I was teaching him to play with others, learning to take turns and share in the fun and not being such a bossy little boy.  Actually, let’s get to the heart of the matter.  I was not going to have a two year old tell me how to play cars, I didn’t care where he threw that bottle.

If  there was a second demonstration of his attitude, I would again retrieve the bottle out of the yard and put it up on the mantle where he could see it.  That ticked him off even more, especially when I would act like I was drinking from it.  Ok, that’s a bit of teasing but he needs to learn to deal with all kinds of people and situations throughout life.  I was giving him a head start.  More than not, this action ended with mom and dad yelling at me to stop teasing the baby.  Who was the child and who was the adult?

It was all in good fun and he was just so stinking cute, I couldn’t stop myself.


Kyle wasn’t happy at his Baptism 10/28/01

Luckily, we have gotten past the bottle throwing demonstration and moved into the most annoying, not even slightly cute, world of whining and back talking.  If this was a kingdom, Kyle would rule over it.  Don’t get me wrong, Kyle is a great kid!  He truly and genuinely is, except for that part of him.  It’s a minor part, but it will devour us all if left untreated.

After we participated in the Ropes Course at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center for Kyle’s youth group, last weekend, dad said he needed our help.  I will admit I was tied too, after all we were there from 9:00 am till around 12:30 pm.  But when there’s chores to be done, we need to get them tackled.  My motto, dive in and get it over with as quickly as we can.  Kyle’s motto?  Whine about it and complain the entire time, and let’s not forget move as slowly as humanly possible.  It was a long morning and the afternoon was going to get longer.

Dad wanted to chop some firewood and stack it.  Ok, not an easy task for Kyle on a normal day, not to mention he was physically tired before we even started.  But he just wouldn’t stop with the attitude and the back talking.  All you hear is “Why do I have to do that?” Whhhhyyyyy?”

Let’s also get this straight, I have no issues with Kyle asking questions and understanding what is being asked of him and why.  But what I can’t handle, is when you give him an answer and he continues asking the same question over and over.  Plus you add in the whining, only for the sole purpose of being irritating.  Now that I can not deal with!  He only asks and asks again because he doesn’t like the answer.  Tough!  Sometimes I believe Kyle thinks he’s going to get his own way if he continues on the same course.  Nope!  Not on my watch.  I’ve always told him ‘I invented stubborn.’


Joel holding Kyle at the Planinsek Pavilion

For part of the day, Kyle was a real treat, especially on the ears.  I truly hate it when he doesn’t appreciate what he has and what he gets.  Would you believe, during his whining and back talking, he had the audacity to ask me to take him to the store to get some of his playing cards?  Seriously?  I don’t know what person in their right mind would do such a thing after his behavior, except Kyle!

Helping to raise Kyle since he was just three months old, I know for a fact, that I, nor my family have ever tolerated such acts, completely spoiled.  Does he genuinely think this tactic is going to work?  Loving Kyle with my whole heart, I can not in good faith allow this to happen.  Yes, that’s my way of saying he got in big trouble. No video games, no computer, nadda and he still had to continue with the work, no matter how slow he was moving.

It’s weird, sometimes, not all of the time, this happens on Friday and Saturday, but by the time Sunday rolls around again, he is back to being a normal child.  Manageable.  Odd. I’ve actually noted this for some time now.

Kyle has been whinnying for years now, and I am at a loss of how to stop it.  Even mom said that none of us have ever whined.  We would have most certainly gotten the belt.  Plus, it really was not in our nature to act like that.  Back talking?  Yes.  I will admit I did participate in that activity when I was younger, but certainly not at Kyle’s age and not to the persistence that he does.  Even then, mom would literally wash my mouth out with soap.  Maybe I should try the bubble method?  Although softy pap pap would probably stop me.

I’m going to have to get crafty and come up with a new method to conquer his madness, before I go mad.  Hopefully this weekend brings a new attitude with our little man.  After all, Iron Man 3 came out today and we both really want to see it.  Plus, we’re ordering Jioio’s Pizza, bonus!!

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


Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.  ~Abraham Lincoln

My blog was created as a way to record Kyle’s life, his learning experiences, interaction between family and friends, and funny things he’s said and done.  It’s a way for everyone to stay-up-to-date with all things Kyle and whatever else is going on in the land of Piper’s.  It’s weird, but this blog has also become a therapeutic outlet for me.  I’ve found that I enjoy writing and going through old photos and scanning them in the computer, cleaning them up and uploading the digital memories for all to share.  Not to mention, I do enjoy rehashing stories from the past and recording these tales so that they can be relived and discovered by others.

Since starting my blog, I’ve learned that other family members have faced similar situations that we have encountered with raising Kyle.  Some of my viewers have reached out to me offering their experience, advice, encouragement, support and guidance.  With all the feedback, privately or publicly, I sincerely appreciate it!  I get so engrossed in my digital world of all things Kyle, I forget this is public information and I am not alone with helping to raise a little one!  It is a great relief to have outside eyes encouraging me and reinforcing the efforts that me and my family have done throughout Kyle’s life.  I guess I look at it like it’s a confirmation that we are not screwing him up and we are raising him in the best way we know how.  It’s a very real and scary situation, but one worth it!

OMGmother Aunt Heather Piper

Now it is my turn to give advice and a heartfelt suggestion.  Before starting this blog I didn’t realize there is another way to maintain communication between me and my family and my nephew, besides starting up a blog.  The answer is  OMGmother!  I have been following them on Twitter (@OMGmother) but never really explored their efforts until they opened up the lines of communication.   Recently, the good people from OMGmother reached out to me to guest write a couple of blog posts.  Throughout our interactions, I’ve found I too share their passion for family.  They are sincerely wonderful and supportive people!

While telling the story of how I became such an integral part of Kyle’s life is difficult to put into words, I felt very honored to be included in their efforts of bringing godparents, aunts and uncles together with their godchildren, their family.  Everything I do for Kyle is for his benefit and that’s exactly the purpose of OMGmother.  Let’s face it, everyone benefits when a child knows how much they are loved.  It’s a blessing to watch that child succeed in life and be so happy.  To be apart of that process is priceless.

I want to give a big shout out to OMGmother for acknowledging those that make a difference in the lives of children and helping to maintain that bond and interaction between the little ones and their family members and influential figures, all for the benefit of the youngsters.  This group of people are great to deal with and are making wonderful strides with their efforts.  Great work and keep it up!

Please take the time to review the OMGmother Blog.  I admire their direction and their passionate efforts, all for the betterment of children!

Read my blog posts written specifically for OMGmother.
Becoming a True OMGmother in the Face of Tragedy. 
OMGmother Heather Piper Helps Children Play to Win

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing 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…

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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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

Healthy Smoothie Sunday

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.  ~ John W. Gardner


Kyle & friends made pizzas for his 8th birthday at with Chef Dato

Taking the opportunity to make something healthy is an art in and of itself, especially something liked by a ten year old.  Kyle has been sick for the last few weeks.  He’s been battling this ear infection for nearly a month, being on his second dose of antibiotics.  Along with the ear infection, Kyle seemed to picked up the flu.  This past Saturday night, Kyle crawled in bed with me and to my surprise, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I just entered Dante’s Inferno.  Kyle really had a fever!  His body ached and he was miserable, to the point that around 3:00 am he wanted to get up and go to lay on the couch.  As I rolled out of bed, half awake, we made our way out to the living-room and plopped ourselves down in front of the TV to catch a little Phineas and Ferb.

By Saturday Kyle was feeling a little better, but not quite right.  Since Kyle has been on antibiotics for so long, I wanted to get a little yogurt action into his system.  Naturally, (pardon the pun) I don’t like him to eat the yogurt with high fructose corn syrup, aspartame and such in it.  I usually buy all natural yogurt only containing cultured grade A milk.  Bland?  Yes, but if you mix it properly with other ingredients it’s a great nutritious snack.  So I told Kyle we would make yogurt smoothies.  I figured it was a different treat, which would sooth his sore throat and accomplish my original intent, to get yogurt into his system.


Kyle fishing with his pappy on his birthday. 7/30/05

We made our Tropical Fruit Yogurt Smoothies.  Basically about a half a cup of plain yogurt, a cut or so of crushed ice, and tropical fruit in 100% natural juices.  Blend and serve.  It’s not an overly sweet treat, so Kyle decided to doctor it up a bit by adding a little honey.  Through Little Acts of Kindness I have talked about Kyle’s love for honey.  He drank the Yogurt Smoothie since I asked him to, and he knew the yogurt was good for him, but he wasn’t a huge fan.  He never said anything, well that is until dad opened his mouth and said, “Next time make mine without the yogurt.  I don’t like it.”  Agg, dad sometimes should not be allowed to have an opinion or speak!


Kyle hanging in the backyard. On the weekends, during summer we cook on the bonfire- steaks, pork loins, corn on the cob & mountain pies! 6/11/05

Well now, Kyle, who really does like to cook and experiment in the kitchen, which I completely encourage decided he wanted to continue making different types of smoothies.  On Sunday right after church, Kyle said he wanted to make a smoothie without yogurt.  Thanks dad!  Kyle said, “I’m going to make a healthy fruit smoothie, Aunt Heather!”  How could I object, plus it seemed like Kyle was starting to feel better.  He asked me what he should put in it and I responded by telling him to start experimenting and thinking of what would go good together.  Next thing I knew, he was adding blueberries, which are one of his favorite foods, a banana, tropical fruit, and yes the honey made its appearance.  I did suggest to him to add a little milk just to loosen everything up.  He really had a lot of fun adding the fruit then test tasting his concoction.  He made sure he made enough for everyone and he served us all our own smoothie.  It was really tasty!

Apparently, Kyle must have been really feeling better and really enjoying his smoothie Sunday, because later in the day, Kyle mentioned he wanted to try another type of smoothie.  He asked me, “Aunt Heather can you make a smoothie out of apples?”  I told him it might taste good if he cooked down the apples and added cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, lemon juice and maybe a little sugar.  Next thing I know, Kyle was peeling the apples and preparing to cook them down.  This smoothie contained cooked down apples, spices, milk, ice, and the honey made its appearance again.  It was really pretty good! It would be a great fall smoothie made with apple cider, but regardless, very tasty.  And keeping with Kyle’s style made enough for all of us.  Now it looks like my plan to get natural yogurt into Kyle was pushed aside, but he was feeling better and really enjoying himself, all while learning.

It’s amazing how an introduction to making something new can turn into a passion and peek a child’s interest.  So what is your smoothie?

See other cooking episodes Egg Sandwich Spectacular, Cooking With Kyle – Kitchen Safety, Cooking With Kyle – Introduction, Puppy Problem Called Seven!

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

Cooking With Kyle- Introduction

This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun! ~Julia Child

Please have fun watching our introduction video to our soon to be launched cooking episodes.  These shows are my way of recording Kyle’s progression in growing, keeping family recipes and cooking techniques alive, and teaching Kyle to cook these recipes.  We are not chefs, but I do enjoy cooking and I love to Cook with Kyle. Enjoy!


posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning and have Comment (1)

Letting a Child Step Up to the Stove

If I learn how to do it once, I certainly can d0 it again. ~Kyle Piper 10/1/11

Kyle Piper at Chef Dato for his

Kyle's 8th Birthday Party with Chef Dato 7/2009

This past Saturday was a rainy, dreary day.  Most people would say  the weather was crappy and a total waste, but I say it was a perfect day to stay inside and do other activities.  Personally, I love cold, rainy days to catch up on books, cleaning, watching movies, and the list goes on and on.  Plus, if you look closely, you become presented with different opportunities that may not come into fruition if the scene was set for a different type of day.

On Saturday, Kyle decided he wanted eggs for breakfast.  Now, at our house we DO breakfast.  On the weekends, we have eggs, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, fish sandwiches, and sometimes a combination of an assortment.  Yes, I did say fish sandwiches.  My dad loves fish sandwiches for breakfast and it has become a staple in our household.  In fact, when I lived in Pittsburgh, I really missed fish sandwiches for breakfast with the fish caught from the old man himself.

Kyle eating with Aunt Heather Piper

Me and my buddy eating a sandwich, relaxing in front of the TV

So back to Kyle’s eggs.  He wanted his Egg Sandwich Spectacular, something my mom thought up to get veggies into Kyle’s diet.  But alas, we didn’t have the ingredients to add to Kyle’s inspired dish, desperately in need of groceries.  So I told him, “Let’s just make an egg sandwich.”  Simply, it’s fried eggs with the yoke broken (not scrambled) and placed on slightly buttered bread or toast. I put ketchup on mine.  Narrow agreed and I told him to get the skillet and spatula ready.  Then I turned to Kyle and said, “Why don’t you make your own eggs?” He said, “But what if I ruin the eggs? I don’t want to waste them.” I said, “How else are you ever going to learn?  You can only learn so much from watching us, besides, I’ll eat the eggs you won’t eat.”  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Umm ok, if I learn how to do it once, I certainly can do it again.  But will you help me?”  I smiled and said, “You got it!”

Kyle did a great job!  He started asking everyone in the house if they wanted eggs.  He was on a roll and was enjoying his new found knowledge. Of course, Kyle always did cook with me and mom, so it wasn’t a foreign concept.  But he knew this time he was on his own, so to speak.  I was in the kitchen watching him, but I didn’t stand over his shoulder at the stove.  I sat in front of the computer in the corner of the kitchen, knowing he’d be fine.   When he needed my help he came and asked me.  Over the years, I’ve always reinforced the rules of the kitchen with Kyle and he takes rules very seriously.  It’s against his nature to intentionally break the rules.  In fact, Kyle washed his hands before beginning. I didn’t have to say a word.

Aunt Nikki Piper with Kyle

Aunt Nikki holding our hungry little man at Chad's wedding 2002

Kyle was so excited about his egg making abilities, he told us he would make us eggs before church the following day.  And you know what?  He did just as he promised.  Then, speaking of fish earlier, mom was going to make fish for lunch. Kyle ran to his Gigi and asked if he could help.  My mom walked him through her process of making my dad’s fish.  He did ask if pappy caught these fish and I said, “Ya, he caught the fish in the frozen food isle of the grocery store.”  Narrow really knows my humor.  He gave me a half-cocked smile and went back to work.  I heard him say to my dad, “Pappy, I’m making the fish!”  My dad said, “That’s great buddy, and next I’ll show you how to make deer steaks.”  Boy was Kyle excited!

On a side note, Kyle told me on Sunday about his weekend accomplishments.  He said he learned to make eggs and fish, he finished reading his Harry Potter book (The Chamber of Secrets), and he downloaded and played Lego Universe, evidently he made it to space ranger and he has two dogs, a cat, and a bunny in Lego form on the game.

What seemed like a wasted day, I think, turned out to be a life long lesson for Kyle.  It’s amazing what a little guidance and freedom can do for a child.  It was kinda tough for me to step back and let Kyle take over, but it was a good lesson for us both!  Kyle’s right, now that he’s done it once, he can certainly do it again!

posted by auntheather in Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have Comments (2)

Teaching with Patience

If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns
-Rita Dunn

As with any child, sometimes they can really truly impress you… and sometime not… and sometimes both.

Kyle was great this past weekend, except for the usual sock argument (no sock fits him perfectly to his liking) before we went hiking through the woods. He read a chapter in his Bionicle book, he completed two pages in his grammar workbook, practiced his piano and guitar and annihilated his multiplication flash cards. I took him roller skating and we watched a couple movies, Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and Alvin & the Chipmunks the Squeakquel. Kyle even let me work with minimal interruptions while I built a website. Sounds like a nice relaxing weekend with my little man- well it was!

However, more my fault than his, Kyle did mention that he had a little bit of studying to do for Social Studies. To be honest, he told me on Friday night and I totally forgot. So I didn’t think to get his book bag out on Saturday while we were doing his other homework assigned by me. Well, lo and behold, Sunday came, Kyle had CCD class and we went to church. Then, mid-way through the day, I asked him to get out his book bag, thinking that his homework was a quick review. I was wrong! He had 12 states and their capitals to memorize along with worksheet questions. Normally Kyle is ahead of the game and when he says he has a little bit of studying, it means a quick review. Well, note to self, that’s not always the case…

I started to quiz him on the states and capitals, and nothing! He really had no idea, like he’d never heard of the capitals before. Well, considering it was 5:30ish on Sunday afternoon and we had to leave by 7:30ish to get him back, plus he needed to take his nightly shower, I started to stress and get frustrated. Yep, PANIC, which I usually don’t do because I believe children can pick up on it and I don’t think it’s healthy. I was stressed because I didn’t want him to do poorly on his test and it was my fault for not being more proactive. What made the situation more frustrating was Kyle’s lack of focus and screwing around and not paying attention. Yikes! I know I’m not one to talk about being focused, but it wasn’t my grade that was on the line. There are some traits and habits that I have influenced Kyle with, which make me proud. Then, there are those bad habits or personality traits he possesses and I wish I could hit the delete key on his DNA file. Focusing is one of them.

I started to go through the list asking him the states and expecting to get the capitals as a response – nope. I had him continue to repeat after me, but then he was mumbling under his breath, which was making me mad. Then I decided to change it up and I started to ask him the capitals, expecting to get the states – nope. He was just huffing his breath and being a bit of a smarty-pants, cocky child, which made me even more mad. Then he would look around and be distracted with something he picked up, etc. This happened until my dad yelled. Then Kyle was like, “What? I don’t know what the answer is pap pap.” Dad was getting mad too. But Kyle was in the mood to be difficult. Granted, it was late on Sunday and he was ready to retire for the day, not worry about capitals.

Then I started to choose the first three states and kept quizzing him on those three, back and forth, state, capital, capital, state. He started to get better, but I could see it was not clicking. I made him stand there and give me the answers. I have found in the past that when Kyle is having difficulty concentrating, standing gets the blood moving to the cranium cavity and makes him more alert. Did it work? NOPE! I was at my wits end. I realized there had to be another way to get through to this child to help him out, without the yelling, without taking away privileges, to accomplish what’s important, educating Kyle.

Then God must have felt my pain, because I got the idea to write down the states and capitals as flash cards. You see, I don’t just quiz Kyle on the states and have him answer me on the capitals; I make him know it both ways. I’ve always been like that with his homework to ensure he really understands the material. Well, as soon as we went through the flash cards once, he was on fire! In Kyle’s true fashion, he likes a little bit of competition. I had my mom sit there to yell out the answers too and I told Kyle I wanted to see who was going to have to do the dishes… Gigi or him. He was so focused and on it!

Sometimes, it’s not just the child, or their focus or their intelligence, but the teacher. And it is my job as the “teacher” to help him the best way that benefits him. I am thankful that I didn’t completely lose my patience or give up on him. In fact, while he was being difficult, I would reiterate that I loved him very much and I want him to succeed. I also said that this was very uncharacteristic of him, he usually gets his homework on the first try. I told him I knew he was more than smart enough to memorize the capitals and their corresponding states.

I must say, through this exercise, Kyle cracked me up. Every time he would say South Dakota’s capital, Pierre, he would say Perrier, like the sparkling water…LOL and even better every time he would say Iowa’s capital, Des Moines he would say Des Money, Des Moinmoneys etc. I couldn’t help myself, he was just too cute. I would politely correct him and then an even better version of the capital would come from his mouth. But he was being serious and wanted to do well.

I did call Kyle on Monday, usually we have swimming lessons after school but it was snowing pretty hard and the roads were slick. I asked him how he did. He said, “I may have missed one, but except for that, it was perfect.” I told him how proud I was of him and that I would pass the word along to Gigi, Pappy, and Aunt Nikki. He then said, “Ya and I got 3 A’s on my reading too!” I said, “Wow, you had a great day!” He was proud of himself, he was also thinking he should be expecting some sort of toy or game from the family for his efforts… I know how that child operates. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Milestone,Patience and have No Comments
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