Looking for Construction Sites

Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.  ~Ian Fleming


Nicole’s 1st Holy Communion. Front: Casey, Ryan, Me. Back: Tim, Jeremy, Chad & Nicole. In the back, to the right is were our huge sandbox was placed. looks like it was in the works. c. 1983

When most people see a construction zone they try to avoid it, or they begin spouting off feelings of frustration or even anger.  I don’t like the headache of  roadwork or construction areas either, the waiting to take a turn to proceed or the smell of tar, or the loud disrupting noises or worse, having to drive in slow motion for miles.  Nope, those aren’t my ideas of an enjoyable ride.

However, to this day, when I’m in close proximity to a building construction site, those that require the large trucks to move dirt or flatten an area, it brings a smile to my face.  Not from the idea of progress or the anticipation of something new, but simply from the memory of one little enthused child and how he was just like his dad.

Before Kyle could speak, he loved trucks and large vehicles, just like Ryan.  I can’t say this interest has sustained over the years, but there was a time when Bob the Builder was his main man.

On a side note, I bought Kyle a pair of Bob the Builder boots and he LOVED them!  He strutted around in those things everywhere.  Even when the snow cleared, he wore them for as long as his little piggies would fit comfortably.

What made me thing of this?  I was in Latrobe the other day prepping for the Latrobe Doggie in Disguise Scavenger Hunt and there’s a section of town under construction for the new Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) branch.  They have the orange cones out to direct traffic away from potential debris and the caution tape up.  I didn’t see any giant real-life Tonka trucks, but I’m sure they were there at one point.  Taking a moment, I stood to watch the activity, which cracks me up and takes me back a few years.


Kyle’s 1st sandbox, yes he actually had 2! If you look closely among all the toys, you’ll see a bee to the right, that’s Kyle! He was a bee for Halloween & he decided to take a break & play. 2003

When Kyle was just a little tyke, still riding around in his car seat in the backseat of my car, he would become mesmerized by construction vehicles.  I mean that, he LOVED watching them!  I would drive extra slow past development activity and he would point and giggle and watch with wide eyes.  It was quite funny.  Sometimes he would say, “Slow Aiya.”  All I could say was, “Ok, buddy!”  What’s really ironic, Kyle has proven to NOT be the blue collar type, yet there was a time when he was all about construction work.

Seriously!  Many times when we weren’t in any particular hurry, I would intentionally go out of my way to drive Kyle past a work zone.  Lucky for us we live in Western Pennsylvania where there is no shortage of roadwork.  I would slowly creep along letting him take in as much as he could.  Allowing him to get the full effect, I would wind down the windows, yes even in the dead of winter, so he could smell the air and really hear the sounds.  He LOVED it!

Kyle didn’t even need to be in a car.  He would act the same while standing there observing the workers in the distance.  I know I’ve talked about the Seton Hill University construction site previously Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?.

Kyle was so excited about these little adventures, he couldn’t wait to tell his gigi and pappy and Aunt “Nitti” (Nikki).  Personally, I had a blast watching the enthusiasm erupting from the kid.  Usually, after the stories of all the construction vehicles were told, he would get out his own CAT or Tonka trucks and hang out in his sandbox or build in the living-room.  He would drive those realistic looking toys around and mimic the sounds of the trucks and the engines roaring to life.  He was so stinking cute!  I just wanted to gobble him up!


Kyle’s 3rd birthday… check out the trucks on the cake & his t-shirt! He LOVED trucks! 7/2004

On a side note, Kyle’s sandbox wasn’t one of those small plastic structures purchased at Toys R Us.  O no!  He had a custom deal, similar to the one we had as kids, dad made sure of it.  Both sandboxes, even though they were about twenty years apart were very similar, both built from boards and both required a dump truck full of sand to fill up the space.  Kyle’s was smaller, for there was only one of him and three of us, measured to about a four or five foot square.  Ours, unlike Kyle’s which was placed front and center in the front yard, resided on the side of the house, but was somewhat shaded by the trees.  It measured about four or five feet by eight feet or so.  Dad even made us little seats at the corners.  Dad’s logic?  He felt it gave us enough room to move around and really play, which we did as did Kyle.  The sandbox was the best idea ever!  Nicole, Ryan and myself played hard in our sandbox for years.  I joined Kyle in his too.  He also loved his designated play space.  To be honest, and I know Kyle would agree with this, the best part was building and preparing the sandbox for the sand and then to have the big dump truck back into position and dump all that sand.  It was intense!  I loved it as a kid and it was equally as exciting watching Kyle get a kick over it.

During those years Kyle really reminded me of Ryan.  Kyle’s dad was the same way, except he never EVER outgrew his love of trucks and cars.  Perhaps it was an environmental thing, Ryan was always around dad, especially when they had the sawmill and they worked together in the garage, building and tinkering around.  Kyle was never exposed to any of that.  Poor guy, he didn’t really get to hang with his dad much before Ryan moved on, only three months.  Then Kyle was stuck with me to help out.  It’s true my dad was always around, almost never leaving Kyle’s side, but not like he was when Ryan was little, and certainly not the same before Ryan passed away.  I guess time changes us all in different ways.

Regardless, Kyle was all his dad for those few shorts years and I’m glad I was there to witness it and to help him enjoy the simpler things in life.  I hope he never looses that spirit and always remembers his roots!


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

Shopping Spree, Kyle Asks for Prayers

And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, saying: Ask what you will that I should give you.  ~1 Kings 3:5  /  2 Chronicles 1:7


While Kyle was texting me, I took a picture of this display in Barnes & Noble & sent it to him. 4/22/12

This story was too cute to pass up and I had to share it.  About a month ago my sister was home and we were watching TV, one of Kyle’s shows.  Just then a commercial came on regarding a Toys-R-Us shopping spree.  Kyle’s face instantly shined while ‘Alleluia’ played in his head. Immediately, he went to the computer to look it up and to get the details.  Nicole helped him search high and low and behold, there it was, Kyle’s dream contest.  Naturally, he had Nicole enter him right away.  Now the Toys-R-Us shopping spree remained the topic of all of his conversations for the remainder of the weekend.

Nicole and I were working on the details for a Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt for a client in Austin, Texas.  We really needed to be focused, yet Kyle kept interrupting us with ideas and dreams of what he was going to get.  Not what he had the opportunity of winning, but what he was sure he was going to receive.  Kyle immediately believed he was going to win this contest, hands down.  I’ll give him credit, when he wants something he puts his whole heart into it and believes it with all of his being.

As we sat around the kitchen table, every topic out of his mouth was Lego related.  Not unlike most days, but this one was intense.  He had it mapped out of what he was going to add to his cart first.  He said, “I’ll start off with the really big Legos and then I’ll hit the Skylanders and if I have time I’ll get some other stuff.”  What a stinker!  Now, me being the realist and personally I was sick of hearing about this contest already, turned to Kyle saying, “Don’t you think you need to first worry about winning?  It’s a long shot Kyle.”  Then mom chimed in saying, “Yes Kyle and I don’t want you walking around pouting if you don’t win.  And getting upset over something you don’t need.”  Kyle not wanting to argue because he was so full of enthusiasm and excitement tried to put us at ease by saying, “Yes I know, but I could have a chance at winning.  And I know I may not win, I understand.”

So now I’m going to take this opportunity to help instill goodness in Kyle, trying to shut out the constant desire to always want stuff and to stop a possible tendency for greed.  Don’t get me wrong, Kyle is not a greedy person, at all!  He does have issues with always wanting and wanting more, but my concern is to avoid him walking down a greedy path.  Reiterating what everyone knows to be true, I said, “Kyle you don’t need any more toys.   You have rooms full of them!”  It’s like he could read me and was preparing for this conversation because he said, “I know Aunt Heather but I don’t have ALL the Lego’s and you know how I like to build.”  Continuing on trying to set an example, I retorted “You know what would be nice?  If you won the contest and you donate it to some kid that has nothing.”  Looking mortified, Kyle said, “Yes Aunt Heather but I really want to do the shopping spree.  I know I can do it.”  Meeting him halfway I responded, “Ok, but what if you donated all your toys to the kids that have lost everything during Hurricane Sandy.”  Being a quick thinker, who wants his own way, Kyle said, “Umm ok, how about his.  I’m sure I’ll get some of the same Lego’s, ’cause you know I do have a lot.  I can donate those toys that I already have and keep the ones I don’t.”  What a stinker!  Kyle almost got the point.  I was trying to have him think of others before himself and make a small sacrifice.  It’s not a sacrifice if your heart isn’t into it and if you still benefit.  I’m going to continue trying on that topic.

Nickelodeon & Toys R Us Sweepstakes Aunt Heather Piper

Then to really kick my efforts to the side, Nicole said, “Ok Kyle if you win and donate the toys, I’ll match that amount and give you the $1,000 to do your own shopping spree.”  Kyle instantly corrected Nicole, “Aunt Nikki it’s up to $5,000.  It’s a 10 minute shopping spree in the Toys-R-Us store in New York, up to $5,000 of toys.”  The reality hit and Nicole said, “Ya no, I’m not giving you that.”  Mom again jumped into the conversation saying, “Kyle!  You don’t need anymore toys, you have plenty.  You have more than most kids.  Be happy with what you have.”

Kyle seemed to hear us, but I don’t think he was really listening.  There was a wall of ‘Shopping Spree’ and ‘Lego’s’ blocking anything else from entering his thoughts.  Needless to say he continued on this idea, ALL weekend.  At one point I heard him talking to my dad and dad commented, “Well, someone has to win it.”  As if he needed more fuel to that fire.  We all yelled at dad and he defended himself saying, “Well someone does have to win!  I hope it is Kyle!”  Every one of us would be happy for Kyle if Kyle did indeed win, but dad was missing the point that Kyle has too much and he needs to stop obsessing over toys, specifically Lego’s.

At one point, I stepped into a conversation already long on its way and I heard Kyle stress about getting his toys home.  Really?  Keep in mind he didn’t win the shopping spree.  Dad said, “Don’t worry buddy, if we have to rent a truck, I’ll get your toys home.”  Am I hearing this correctly?  Yep!  Seriously what could I say that I  haven’t already.  So, to instigate a little further I said, “We’re going to have to add on another wing to the house.”  Dad jumped in my by saying, “I’ll do that for Kyle if we have to.”  Kyle just stood there nodding his head with a look of ‘Pappy’s got my back’.  Are you kidding me?  He really does believe that!  In a way, I believe dad meant it too!  Are these guys loosing their minds?

As if not satisfied with the truck to bring all the toys back and the new wing added onto the house, Kyle turned to me and said, “Can you get Mikey to make me a large wooden table to display all my Legos?”  I actually was completely stunned!  He was planning that far in advance.  All I could do is smile and say, “Yes Kyle, if you beat out all the nation’s children who also entered the sweepstake, and you get too many Lego’s to be supported in this house, when pappy builds your new wing I will have a table made for you.” Unbelievable, and this was just on Saturday.

All Saturday night while I took him around trick-or-treating Halloween Takes A Turn! he kept bringing up his winnings.   His fictitious booty.  Maybe there’s something I don’t know.

You would have thought his mindset would change by Sunday.  Nope!  I had to threaten him, letting him know if I heard one word of this contest during church he would be grounded.  He knew I meant business.  Church is no place for self-indulgence and to act self-centered, it’s a place of reverence, reflectance and a chance to be humble.  I’ll give him credit, he did good.  I mean it probably killed him that he couldn’t mention the shopping spree, but he certainly made up for it the minute we walked out of church and the rest of the day on Sunday.

Kyle and I went to early mass and then to CCD.  Mom and Nicole went to the later mass.  So to help mom out Kyle and I went to our weekly run of Giant Eagle, picking up a few needed items for dinner.  Then we started cooking, trying to get it ready for noon when mom and Nicole would be arriving.  The entire way through the food prep and food assembly, Kyle just stood there beside me in front of the stove chattering on about all his potential winnings.  Finally I turned to him and said, “Kyle the only person who can guarantee you winning this contest is God.  And that’s only if He wants you to have it.  So I’d better start praying really hard if I were you.”  He looked at me thinking intently and said, “Ok Aunt Heather I’m going to pray everyday really hard for me to win!  Would you say a prayer for me too?”  What could I say to that?  I smiled and said, “You got it buddy.  But I will also be praying for a deserving kid to win.”

Nicole's Facebook  Screenshot Aunt Heather Piper

Aunt Nikki’s Facebook post

As Kyle was suppose to be helping me cook, he ditched me for a new mission.  All of a sudden I heard Kyle say to my dad, “Pap pap, I know you don’t go to church, but would you do me a favor and say a prayer for me so I win this contest.”  That was too cute and sincere on Kyle’s part!  Dad, without missing beat said, “Yes I know I don’t go to church, but I always pray for you buddy, and yes I will say a prayer that you win this contest.”  As I was standing there stirring the chili, I couldn’t help but wear the biggest smile.

Kyle was sporting the same smile when he walked back in the kitchen with a look of, ‘Mission Accomplished.’  Too funny!  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I guess Kyle cornered mom and Nicole for the same prayers.  Gotta love his spirit!

Later on that day, I heard Kyle start to plan out who was going with him on the trip.  Initially he said that me, Nicole and dad would go with him, because there would be a lot of walking so his Gigi couldn’t do it.  Relieving some of his unnecessary stress I said, “We will pay for Gigi to go too and we’ll take care of getting her around.”  He actually seemed relieved with my declaration.  Then, he started looking into the hotel that was to accompany the winner.  He commented that it was really expensive.  Again, to put his mind at ease I said, “Don’t worry buddy, we’ll pick up all extra expenses so we can all go.”  He nodded and agreed with excitement.

He must have re-read the package deal and saw that the child has to be accompanied by a parent.  He said, “O no Aunt Heather I have to take my mom, so then who are we going to use the other two tickets for?  I guess you and Aunt Nikki!”  Without waiting on a response he went in the living-room, with his head hanging low like he has to share some bad news and said, “Pappy, you and Gigi will have to stay at home.  I don’t have enough tickets.”  Keep in mind, there is no winnings at this point!  Dad simply said, “That’s ok buddy, whatever you want to do.”  You have to admit was have nothing but love for our little man!

His thoroughness didn’t just stop at prayers and outlining the itinerary.  O no!  He seriously covered all bases, even going as far as asking my dad if he would give him WD40 to grease up the wheels so he would wiz through the store faster.  To get a reaction out of Kyle I asked, “If you win can I train you?”  Immediately he said, “Yep, Aunt Heather I will listen to you and you can train me, I don’t care.”  He continued by saying, “Can we maybe practice in our Toys-R-Us?”  I was dying!  He really was thinking of EVERYTHING!  I encouraged him by saying, “Yes Kyle, I will make you, your very own simulated store and prepare you.  Don’t worry, I can get you ready, but you need to listen to me.”  Encouragingly he said, “I will, for this I’ll even run!”  After that conversation I told my sister and my parents what just unfolded.  Kyle just stood there radiating an confirmation smile.

Sunday night Kyle had his youth group meeting.  While we were in the car he said to me, “Ok Aunt Heather, my emails go to your email right?”  It’s true, Kyle has his own email account but I have it forwarded to my account just to monitor his iTunes purchases and any activity.  He’s too young to be set free in the land of the world wide web and encounter others that are not looking out for his well-being.  The conversation never deviated off of this shopping spree.  He even went as far as to lean in to me, to capture my fullest attention, looking me straight in the eye while I was driving, allowing me to glanced over to hear him say “I’m in it to win it!”  Classic!  I have no doubt about that!

God Speed Kyle!  I hope the Nickelodeon & Toys R Us Great Big Toy Run Sweepstakes in Times Square is all yours!

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

Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old!

You know times flies by so quickly you tend to forget what you’ve learned and where you came from in relation to where you’re at now… the so called present.  ~Heather Piper


I love surprising Kyle at daycare. 7/26/12

Our little man is 11 years old today!  I can’t believe it!  He’s going into the sixth grade this year!  As with every year, it has been a long learning lesson of patience, humility and understanding, just to name a few.  Not only for Kyle but for me as well.

This year Kyle’s celebration started at the beginning of the month.  We knew there was a lot going on and to make it more convenient for my sister, since she was driving back and forth, we decided to surprise Kyle with an early birthday.  My sister was coming home to pick Kyle up for ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun’ the first weekend of July.  She was also coming home to bring him back the following weekend, since that Sunday was the Piper reunion.  Instead of making Nicole drive home for a third weekend in a row we chose to throw Kyle off of his game and celebrate his birthday on July seventh.  Normally we try to get it as close to his birthday as possible, but he was going to be away.

What I loved about our last minute plans was the fact that we were throwing a monkey wrench in Kyle’s itinerary.  He pretty much maps out and outlines events such as this one and we are expected to follow according to his plans.  I think it’s good to ‘move his cheese’ every once in a while, keeping life real.

Prior to this decision, Kyle approached me and asked me to make his birthday cake.  What? Really?  I was so excited!  I’ve been waiting for this request since he was a baby.  When I was younger my Aunt Irene, who is also my godmother used to make my cakes and I loved them!  Keeping with Kyle’s personality he dictated what he wanted on the cake.  Take a guess?  Yep, a Lego theme.  He told me he wanted to get a Lego man and put it on top of the cake, but “Not one that I already have.  I want a different one.”  Too much!  He was ensuring through his instructions that he would end up a Lego man richer.  Again, smart little man.


Kyle's Lego Cake, I really enjoyed the challenge of making it.

Well, I decided to take his challenge and do it Piper style.  Instead of making a Lego scene, I made a Lego cake.  By using bread pans, I made the cake and stacked them on top of one another.  In order to get the interlocking tops of the blocks, I stacked Oreo cookies, before draping bright colored fondant.  Admittingly, I’ve never made fondant before in my life.  In theory, I’ve seen it done on TV.  No matter, I was totally up for the challenge.  Luckily, I was able to prep everything, including the fondant and the icing on the 4th of July.  Due to time constraints, I chose to use box cake mixes, allowing me more time to spend on the decorations.  As for Kyle’s name, I wanted it to look like the Lego logo.

Aside from the requested themed cake, Kyle really didn’t care about the flavor of the cake or the icing.  However, it seemed that, that wasn’t the case with my sister and dad.  Nicole gave me specific instructions that she would not eat chocolate cake.  She said, “I won’t even eat the cake if it touches chocolate cake.”  Ok, Kyle loves chocolate cake, as does everyone else in the family.  I guess, I was going to make chocolate and white cake.  No biggie, since I was making different ‘building blocks’ to make the cake I could do chocolate and white.  While I was prepping for this big project, dad instructed me that he wanted ‘hard icing’.  What the heck is hard icing?  Naturally he had no idea he just knew it to taste it.  So I began to Google search various icings and I started to make a few different kind, allowing dad to taste test them.  The one icing we made was called seven minute icing.  It was good but it reminded me of marshmallow fluff.  Finally, I decided to make butter cream icing, which is one of my favorites.


Happy 11th Birthday Kyle. 7/7/12

After work on Thursday, I rushed home to get started on the baking and assembly.  It took me a few hours to bake and roll out the fondant and assemble all the pieces together.  While I was focusing, Storm must have felt left out of the action, because she walked around the house meowing.  She even tried to get on top of the counter, which is not allowed in my house.  I felt bad, but I had a mission to accomplish.

The plan was for Nicole to come home Friday night.  I was to bring the cake down and hide it in the refrigerator in the garage.  I also stopped at the store and purchased a helium tank, balloons and decorations to embellish the living-room, enhancing the celebration.  Did you know we are in a helium shortage?  That’s what I was told when I called the Dollar store.  Most of the stores were out of helium or it was too expansive.  Interesting. Anyway, right after Kyle went to bed that night, I blew up about thirty balloons and let them float about.  The next morning we made sure we were up before Kyle, with the candles a blaze ready to serenaded him with Happy Birthday as he walked into the living-room.  Kyle gave us a sleepy smile and seemed pleased with the change in plans.

The entire day was his, to call the shots as he wanted.  And you know what he was happy doing?  Yep, building the Lego’s Nicole got him.  Although she did tease him a bit with the gift.  She got him a girl type of Lego set.  Nicole asked if he liked it and Kyle replied, “Not really.  This is a horrible Lego”.  We were cracking up.  He exchanged the gag gift later and when the lady at Toys-R-Us asked him if anything was wrong with the package, Kyle said, “Not really”.


Kyle's Lego cake, I tried to make his name look like the Lego logo

I know we spoil Kyle, but birthdays give us the freedom to do so without an excuse.  In keeping with tradition, I also stopped by Kyle’s daycare in the middle of the day this past Thursday, with five dozen cupcakes, a small cake and a balloon to celebrate his birthday with his friends.  I always get a kick out of walking around the corner of the room, holding a cake and lit candles and having all the kids sing to him.  I love it!  I’ve been doing that since he started going to daycare, about eight years now.  Every year I choose a different treat, but this year I recycled the cupcake idea from last year.  Regardless, it was still not expected.  I always ask Kyle, “Where you surprised?” and he always says with complete honesty, “Ya”.

I hope Kyle has a great day and I also hope that this year is kind to him and he learns a lot.  Ahh, I guess I have another year to plan and out do myself from the previous years.  Kyle means so much to us and I hope he knows what an important member of the family he is.  I still remember when he was born, on July 30th, holding him and telling my brother that I am going to be the coolest aunt.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m happy to continue to celebrate Kyle’s special day with him every year.


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

Are Professions Born or Taught? Part 3

Leadership:  The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower


Kyle at the Medieval Times Tournament & Dinner with his Aunt Nikki in Maryland

I’ve been posing the question, “Are Professions taught or born?” for a while now.  As Kyle matures, I see glimpses of his future self, his true nature shinning through and I tend to wonder if a chosen profession is a part of the person from birth, or is it just simple education and environment.  Not that I want Kyle to grow up too fast, but he has shown serious signs of being an engineer and/or a businessman.  This hasn’t just happened recently, this behavior has been peeking through Kyle’s personality since he was a baby.  Yes I said baby!  While observing Kyle over the years, it really gets me thinking.

About two months ago, during one of our hikes through the woods with the dogs, Kyle went off on a tangent – Lego Obsessive or Driven?.  Listening to him ramble, posing specific questions  and coming to his own conclusions, he really made me stop and listen to him.  His observations and speculations where spot on.  He has a very business like mind and way of thinking.

Kyle was saving up and earning money that weekend to purchase a new Lego, which apparently just came out in May, and he had to have it for the last day of school that Monday.  Not only did Kyle repetitively detail the Lego and describe his excitement over the anticipated purchase, but he also deviated slightly to understand marketing and different business models of retail stores, specifically Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us.  Kyle began talking about Wal-Mart, how they have toys but not the entire selection that’s offered in the marketplace, along with groceries and other things.  Then he did an immediate comparison to Toys-R-Us stating they only offer toys, “but nothing really for adults”. He said,

“And Aunt Heather, Wal-Mart always seems to be cheaper, but they don’t always carry everything, so you have to go to Toys-R-Us anyway.  They may cost a little more but they have more of a selection.  It seems like, Wal-Mart is cheaper and there are more of them, but they don’t have everything, but Toys-R-Us is more expensive but they carry all toys, even rare ones, and ones that just came out.  Wal-Mart has a little bit of everything even for adults, and Toys-R-Us doesn’t really have anything for adults, well I guess they do.  Some things like video games ’cause adults like those too.  And Wal-Mart is open 24 hours, well most Wal-Marts, some aren’t open all night and Toys-R-Us is only open during the day.  They close early on Sunday’s.”

Text Conversation Aunt Heather PiperYep, this one sided store comparison went on for the duration of our return trip through the woods.  He kept reiterating his dissertation, almost as if he was really organizing his thoughts to truly make sense of the business models.  Do all kids think in these terms?  I was actually quite intrigued with his thinking and I made no effort to sway him one way or another.  I just kept listening, wanting to hear his conclusion.  Then I did say, “Wow you have it all figured out.” with him responding, “Yep Aunt Heather that’s the way it is.”  Laughing at his candure I said, “Well buddy, you just did a comparison of two different business models.”  With a  blasé “Ya” he dismissed my thoughts before I could even get them out and continued talking about the new Lego he wanted.

While on vacation, “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun” my sister texted me saying…

They just saw a commercial for used cars.  It said that you shouldn’t buy used cars from strangers and then it said to basically buys used cars from them.  Kyle said, “They just said not to buy used cars and they are selling used cars.  That’s just poor business.”

When I got that texted message, I about fell over laughing because I could totally hear Kyle saying that!  He is an observant little bugger and a thinker.  Nothing gets past him.  If it doesn’t make rational sense, then he will call it out and discuss it.  When Kyle was younger, if we told him not to do something he didn’t care.  But if we exclaimed the consequence or the outcome if he did what he was instructed not to do, he would listen, maybe ask a few questions, remember that conversation, later abide by the rules, and decide to take on the role of rule enforcer.  Example, I told Kyle that he was not allowed to ride around in a car without his seat belt.  He used to argue, that is until he knew it was illegal and I could get a ticket, not to mention it was more dangerous.  Ever since then that seat belt is on immediately and he has questioned my parents, who aren’t such sticklers.  It made sense to him that we weren’t just dictating orders, we were following established laws.

Journey-2-The-Mysterious-Island-Aunt Heather PiperBeing business-like minded  isn’t the only skill that Kyle has demonstrated.  He is always thinking about building or the logistics of structures.  While watching Journey 2 The Mysterious Island, the entire island was about to go under and Kyle began to think about the structure of the land.  He said, “Ya but how is the island going to go under water and still be the same with all the big cracks in the land?  It wont be the same when the lava fills in the cracks.  And how is the city going to stand?  It will fall over when ocean covers it.”  As I sat there with my family watching the movie, I will admit at first I shushed Kyle.  I wanted to see what was going to happen in the movie, then it dawned on me where he was coming from.  He didn’t seem to care everyone else was not wondering the same thing and that I asked him to be quiet, because he went off saying, “It doesn’t make any sense, the island is breaking up.”  Then finally my stern voice bellowed, “Kyle it’s a movie!  Just watch it.”  Then I realized,  in a way, I was dampening Kyle’s curiosity and his way of thinking.  So I gave him a wink, patted the top of his head and said, “O my little engineer.  Kyle you are a thinker!” trying to encourage this behavior, well maybe not talking through movies, which he does all the time, but allowing him to think differently.

Journey to the center Aunt Heather PiperAfter that, I’m guessing Kyle took my little words of encouragement to heart because he went off on a another tangent.  You see, he is also concerned with time management and technical details.  Now the next logical train of thought included doing a comparison between Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2 The Mysterious Island.  He started to come to his own conclusions, which movie was easier to make and which one took longer.  Can you believe it?  This is Kyle’s thought process.  He is amazing!  He began to site specific scenes in each movie and give his explanation why they would be difficult scenes to shoot and which movie was more complex. Please keep in mind, Kyle does not know the slightest thing about making movies, especially on green screen.  Now that I’ve said that, I could stand corrected.  Kyle’s pretty intuitive and he may have watched some behind the scenes episode of making movies that I am not aware of.  There is no doubt, he knows more than I realize.

Now, let me entertain my way of thinking.  Since Pittsburgh has become the new hot spot for Hollywood, I wonder if Kyle should get into the film making industry?  I’m not saying acting, although with some training and coaching he might be good at it, he is dramatic and animated.  But there is so much more behind the scenes, technically speaking, that he might really enjoy.  Note to self: explore options locally to introduce Kyle to the movies.

in magazine Aunt Heather PiperWith the posed question, Are Professions Born or Taught? and Part 2.  I read this story a while ago and I wanted to share it.  I agree with both gentlemen to a degree, but I tend to sway toward Michael Carson’s theory.  There isn’t one secret concoction for making a great leader, but there are specific qualities that one is born with.  I also believe those qualities are shown at a young age, but I do believe as Christopher Early stated, they can be honed in on and developed more.  I feel, being a natural leader is a part of a person’s DNA.  Kyle for example has shown to be a leader. In fact, we do joke around calling him the supervisor or the consultant.  But it’s true, he does posses  “(1) self-awareness, (2) personal conviction, (3) courage, (4) creativity, (5) curiosity, (6) ability to inspire, (7) ability to listen, (8) ability to innovate, (9 & 10) eagerness to experience and willingness to reflect.”  But it’s not to say that some of these attributes need coaching and to need to be matured, such as Kyle’s ability to listen.  I do believe that comes over time.  He shows that he listens now, but only when it suits his argument.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in our personalities, and we should identify them, if for nothing else, just to be a better person.  But I don’t believe that a person can practice and practice at a trait and develop it out of nowhere.  If a person is not charismatic, then, in my opinion with some coaching you can become an eloquent speaker, but never truly be charismatic.  Of course, this is my opinion and by no means do I have facts to back up my theory.  Being a leader seems to be in Kyle’s blood, although I would be happy if he was a follower, a worker bee.  But I don’t see that in his future.  Like I’ve always told Kyle, in order to become a good leader, you need to be a great follower and know when to step up to the plate.  I guess time will tell what Kyle’s future holds.


From Beginning Until Now…

Are Professions Born or Taught?
Are Professions Born or Taught? Part 2

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Lego Obsessive or Driven

One essential to success is that your desire be an all-obsessing one, your thoughts and aim be coordinated, and your energy be concentrated and applied without letup.  ~Claude M. Bristol


Kyle & mom at Gutchess working 6/2/12

Last weekend Kyle decided he wanted this new Lego. Of course, he is all things Lego and forbid if he didn’t have ALL the Lego’s.  I picked Kyle up after school on Friday and from the minute he walked out the door and got into the car, he started talking about this Lego he wanted, apparently it just came out in May.  Now I will give Kyle credit, as we were in route, my mom called and said a tornado just touched down in Ligonier, not far from where we would be intersecting.  Leaning on the side of cautious, I wanted to be prepared in case a wind cyclone decided to explore the Greater Latrobe area.  Actually, our drive was kind of eerie, there was no wind at all.  Usually with light rain and the warning of a tornado, I would think there would be some wind.  Nope, I was even examining the tree tops, nothing.  No swaying or motion of any kind.  It almost felt like the car was moving faster than reality, or like everything around us was in slow motion.  Now, if there were no cars on the road I would have been a little geeked out, but since there was traffic I felt safer in the numbers.  At one point I thought about deviating to my house, which was closer, to wait out the tornado warning, but eventually chose to maintain our course of action.

Kyle was a trooper, being a worry wart that he is, he kept his cool.  He would toggle between talking about Lego’s and building with his friends and watching the sky for a twister.  What cracks me up, between everything going on in Kyle’s mind, he would randomly manage to say, “Ok Aunt Heather the speed limit is 45, I think we should go 40.”  I wasn’t speeding or coming close, but he wanted to call it out.  Then he started asking me about hydroplaning.  Deviating from the Lego conversation long enough, we talked about driving in snow and rain and uncontrollable dangers.  I told him, “Wait till you start driving, I’ll teach you to drive in the snow and ice like Gigi taught me.  She took me to the mall late at night when the weather wasn’t great and let me speed through the parking lot and slam on my breaks and slide around till I gained control.”  He gave me a shocked looked.  I said, “Doing that taught me how the car feels when sliding and how to counter act the steering wheel.  There wasn’t anyone in close proximity and we had the space to slide around without getting hurt or doing damage.  That was the best lesson I’ve had on driving.”  Then I probably went into too many details, cause I mentioned “You will have to react in a car situation, whether it be sliding on ice, snow or hydroplaning and I want you to be as prepared as possible to react without freaking out.  It’s unavoidable, it will happen to you a least once.”  He looked like a deer in headlights.  So maybe that’s why every time we turned onto another road, he informed me of the speed limit.  At one point, there was no designated sign and he said, “O no Aunt Heather I’m just not sure what speed we should be at?”  I smiled and told him “Sometimes you just have to use common sense.  I think since it’s raining, the roads are slick and there is a possibility of a twister, let’s be safe and take it slower.”  He concurred.

Once we made it home safe and sound, and he was ensured his Gigi and Pappy were safe, Kyle started again over the Lego’s.  It went on ALL night.  In fact, at one point he started pouting because he couldn’t see how he could possibly raise enough money over the weekend to pay for this $100 Lego that he had to have on Monday, for the last day of school.  Now me being me, and not a sensitive person, especially talking about a kid who has way too much, I kind of ignored him and reiterated that most kids don’t have as much as he has, not to mention the amount of Lego’s he’s acquired over the years.  In fact, I yelled at him to stop pouting. Ya right, I don’t know what good that did, it’s like asking a kid to sit still, it will never happen.  Well, it didn’t, Kyle continued to mope and sit in his own self pity, which really struck a cord with me.


Kyle counting his money for the new iPod Touch 64 GB

However, by the next morning Kyle must have had an epiphany, because he was on a mission to find or earn that money, no matter what.  He was driven, starting at 6:00 in morning.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, we are morning risers, so I was up around 5:00 am or so and his early morning rise is not shock me.  Actually, he usually asks me to get him up as soon as I get up, knowing I don’t let my head stay on the pillow for too long after the sun rises.  From the minute we turned on the lights and made our way to the couch, he stared plotting and planing out his mission.  He began to fulfill his quest by outlining the work he wanted to do and by digging up money, from everywhere.  Even the good old pig got a shaking, where he found another $30.  My sister asked me how can that be, and to be honest I have no idea.  I thought he wiped out the pig when the iPod Touch…Mission Accomplished! was purchased, but I guess he kept some money in reserves.  If only our government could learn a lesson from my ten year old nephew, so when the money is needed the pig isn’t drained dry and earning the money through good old work isn’t out of the question.

Kyle approached my mom and dad regarding work to earn enough resources for the Lego.  Ironically, mom was going into work on Saturday to get caught up and she had a ton of filing that needed addressed.  Perfect job for Kyle, learn the workings of an office, spend some time with his Gigi and get my mom organized!  On a side note, I have no idea why there is so much filing, I guess they never heard of digital files and servers verses paperwork, but whatever.  He even learned what an adding machine was, although I’m not sure who still uses those.

Throughout the day, Kyle did dishes, dusting, sweeping, and he even offered to stack wood.  In the rain no doubt!  That I had to speak up and say no, not while it was raining.  But I’ll tell ya what?  He did it!  Between earning and finding the money he had enough for his Lego.  Now starts the true obsessing.  First of all, ALL day long on Saturday that’s ALL I heard about and moving into Sunday.  Kyle went with me to take the dogs for our weekly hike through the woods.  For three miles that’s all I heard about, the Lego he wanted, and how he planned to bring it to the last day of school on Monday, for him and his friend Jacob to build.  I’m glad he was excited, but come on Kyle!  He seriously couldn’t focus on anything else. Nothing!  So for an hour and a half of our hike, plus the remainder of the day Kyle talked about this Lego and all it’s parts and how much money he had and how much he needed.  I was getting tired of it.  I’m not saying that I don’t get excited about things but even mom had to agree, that as kids we were never this obsessed.


Kyle's Lego ice-cream cake when he turned 10 7/2011

Finally by Sunday morning, I started to loose it.  I said, “Kyle we are not a family that is revolved around money and I don’t want to hear it any more.  You have enough Lego’s and you’re lucky I’m entertaining the idea of you spending the money for this toy!”  He instantly said, “Ya I know Aunt Heather but I just really want to build it and show Jacob my new Lego.”  He mentioned that Jacob got a new Lego too, but he couldn’t imagine how he got the money for the purchase, he said, “He must have earned the money some how, but I don’t how.”  Really?  Was that his concern?  I don’t think so, it was the idea of a new Lego.  Again, I’m happy for his happiness but give it a rest already.

Kyle even planned out when I was going to take him to the store on Sunday.  This was my last straw.  Except, I stood corrected when mom and I were waiting for Kyle in the car after church, he had to serve.  She mentioned that if he was good, she would run him over to the store to see if they had the Lego.  So now I was forced to fulfill mom’s promise to encourage her grandson’s fixation.  Using church to prove my point is not the right thing to do, but I wanted to prove a point.  Once Kyle got in the car I asked him “What was the reading about?”.  I’ll be darned, he told me about the Gospel, in detail, paraphrasing of course.  I was truly impress, assuming his one-tracked mind was focused on all things Lego during the entire mass.  I must admit I was very impressed, and proud of him!  Kyle was able to focus when the opportunity arose, either that or he was in cohorts with God to prove me wrong.

Once we walked the isles of the store looking for THE Lego, Kyle’s face turned into one big frown.  They didn’t have it.  But did that stop Kyle? No!  Once we got home he began to do his investigation and found which stores locally had the toy.  Not only did he get the skinny on the whereabouts of this coveted piece of plastic pieces, but he also started to check prices and print coupons.  O my goodness, nothing was going to stop him and he was going to save money while he was at it!

We’ll needless to say my mom did eventually take him to the store and alas to his disappointment,


Logan, Kyle & Seth first day of school - 5th grade 8/2011

Toys-R-Us didn’t have it.  Mom had to place an order and have it mailed to the house.  So when they got back, Kyle started to worry if it would rain on the day the box arrived, in case no one was home to receive it.  He said, “The directions would get all wet and would be ruined.  Then I won’t be able to put the blocks together as per the instructions.”  O my!  I rolled my eyes, sighed and walked away, all patience spent for a year.

I wonder if Kyle is just driven or is he obsessed?  He most certainly has drive to him, that much I will admit but he seems to go overboard.  Of course, driven and successful people seem to have this quality when they are passionate about something.  Now I have to figure out a way to hone all this energy and drive that Kyle exudes, and put it towards good.  Maybe he is in training to work for Lego someday.

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