Warmachine Tournament

May the odds be ever in your favor!  ~Suzanne Collins

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Kyle preparing for his 1st Warmachine tournament. He was beyond excited! 8/9/14

What the heck is Warmachine?  Believe it or not I can answer that one!  Warmachine is a model game whereas people put together these figures like any model.  Yes, just like model cars or trains or planes.  For the most part, they are glued and painted and tended to with such care as if they were the Crown Jewels.  However, Warmachine takes the hobby a step further.  The figurines are played on a four foot by four foot battlefield against others of the same interest.

According to Wikipedia Warmachine is a tabletop steampunk wargame produced by Privateer Press.

This game is fairly new in the gaming world, from what I’ve been told.  It’s been around for over ten years.  In that time, established tournaments and practices all over the world have had been set-up and competed in.  There are even championship type of games.  Yes, this happens in plain view without knowledge of it, only to someone like me who has no interest in such games, but those who do are well aware.

Interesting tidbit, I heard there is a big tournament in Poland this year and the United States is allowed to send two teams for our representation.  That’s actually pretty cool, if I understood correctly.  I was also informed that this game is very competitive in Korea.  Apparently, they’ve taken the game to another level of intensity.

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Kyle’s Khador army …. prepping his troops for the Warmachine tournament. 8/9/14

Again how am I now privy to such information and inside scoop for being an outsider?  I have a man on the inside, Kyle!  Since his birthday a couple of weeks ago A Teenager! Happy Birthday Kyle! Gift of Music – The Final Piano Lesson, I’ve mentioned everything has changed, for us all.  Once Kyle found out we have a comic book store in Latrobe, he’s been wanting to stop in and check out the scene.  My sister took him and somehow he got hooked on Warmachine, purchasing his first starter set just after his birthday.

Ever since then, he’s been begging us to drop him off at the comic book store to hang out, trying for a chance encounter with another Warmachine player for an epic battle.  We have, but not without constant communication and for short periods of time.  In those “freedom” sessions, Kyle has battled the locals in Warmachine.  He’s loving every waking minute of it.  He even tried to take me to the dark side by teaching me the game, fat chance.  Although, I do believe he has my sister’s interest peeked.  She’ll be next on the list to drink the Warmachine cool-aide.

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Warmachine battle taking place, check out the pink figurines! Yep, chicks love this too. 8/9/14

This past Saturday, there was a Warmachine tournament.  Yes, Kyle was psyched about it since he heard the news. Literally, he was painting his figurines and reading up on the game all week, like he was cramming for a big exam.  Kyle’s faction he plays is Khador.  From what Kyle has told me, they come from the north.   Awesome, I can dig that!

There was a lot going on, but I changed my plans to spend the day with Kyle.  Personally, I thought it might take a couple hours, until I was informed to plan on a seven hour day, if I was fortunate.  The length depends on the number of participants.  Lucky me, there was only about ten participants, five matches playing at a clip with a total of three rounds.

Kyle lost his first two matches, but from what I was told he did so with humility and grace.  The one gentleman came up to me and said, “If that was my son I would be so proud.”  I had no idea what he was talking about.  To be honest, I was going to simply thank him, thinking he was talking about a kid who finds this type of gaming fun.  I found out I was wrong when he continued, “He listened to everything his opponent said, and didn’t argue and lost without incidence.”  Kyle was showing good sportsmanship and humility.  That man was right, I should be proud and I most certainly was!

His first match was against a man I’m guessing was in his late forties.  He also happened to be a referee, or whatever they call it when a person monitors matches.  For this game he was a participant, but a very knowledgeable one at that.

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Warmachine tournament at the comic book store. Yes, that’s Kyle at one of the battles! 8/9/14

Kyle’s second match was against the first gentleman’s niece.  Yes, it’s a family gig!  And yes chicks dig this too!  She, Aerial was a lovely gal of seventeen years.  She also goes to different tournaments in New York and such and competes against younger children of single digits.  Can you believe it?   I give this young lady credit, she loves the game and doesn’t seem intimidated by a predominately male presence.  Her game pieces are even mostly pink in color scheme, further bringing a touch of femininity to Warmachine.  She informed me she started playing when she was ten, but also in current years she’s been too busy to really stay in tuned with all things Warmachine.

For Kyle’s third match he battled Aerial’s brother Shawn, being three weeks shy from thirteen.  Finally!  Someone closer to Kyle’s age.  To be honest, this is what bothered me the most, the adult men Kyle was playing against.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I did feel a bit uneasy with Kyle playing with adults, strangers no doubt.  Perhaps it was my ignorance over the game or my fears from the ugliness of reality, or both that swept me away.  However I will admit, I was put at ease with Kyle’s opponent who was closer to his age.

Everyone else in the room?  Yep, I would say just taking a guess, mid to late thirties plus, mostly married.  (Where are their wives and what do they feel about this hobby?  I guess it’s no different than fantasy football.)  Everyone there was very nice and patient and encouraging with Kyle.  I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of people for him to hang out with for the day.

The mediator or referee or whatever his official title was, happened to be a very articulate and kind man.  He entertained my thousands of questions and tried to explain this world and the interest others have in it, as best he could.  Naturally, he too had a passion for Warmachine.  Kudos to him for doing what he loves.

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Kyle heavy in Warmachine battle… his opponent was very helpful to Kyle. 8/9/14

Now I can’t claim that I would ever get into this game, which Kyle will be disappointed to hear, but I can also come to the realization that eventually I will know more about this game than most.  I support Kyle in whatever he does and whatever hobby peeks his interests or his future interests, as long as he keeps them in check and they don’t rule his life.

The local comic book store is full of very nice people. I mean that, exceptionally nice and sincere.  Every time I’ve been in there, they’ve treated Kyle and myself as a special guest.  Not out of brown nosing or to butter us up to spend more or anything negative of the such, but simply to be nice.  They all enjoy their jobs and love the games they sell.  It’s definitely a job of passion.  I’m impressed!

In fact, upon Kyle’s registration for the tournament, we were told there are different required army points to play.  Kyle was shy by about twelve points, being a newbie and all.  Meaning he didn’t have enough figures to total the needed points.   The comic book store employee called someone to see if Kyle could borrow a few figurines for the tournament to get him eligible.  It was approved and Kyle was in business.  I was very grateful, as was Kyle.

One another side note, I totally can get into the painting of these figurines.  I asked Kyle if I could paint one.  He told me no.  I was kind of bummed, but whatever.

Yes, Kyle lost all three battles, but I believe he had a blast and learned a lot.  Of course, experience is a big part of life and learning.  He is now on his way to being a Warmachine maniac, within reason of course.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

A Teenager! Happy Birthday Kyle!

When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.  ~Louise Erdrich

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Kyle & his beloved pappy… there’s a team! Kyle’s 1st birthday 7/30/02 (I was in Korea)

I can’t believe it, our little man is now officially a teenager!  Kyle is a thirteen year old, even though he’s been displaying a teenage attitude for about a year now.  Not constant, but every once in a while the attitude has slipped out of his mouth or through his body language.  I guess that’s typical growing pains.

Kyle is a great kid, he really is.  Yes he has his quarks and Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) tendencies, but overall, Kyle is a good person.  I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow up and more importantly I really enjoy being an integral part of his life and influence.  He is my best bud!  We’ve always been a team.  Even though he is finding different interests and venturing out on his own with his friends, we are still as thick as thieves, at least for now.

In honor of such a milestone birthday, below are a few key funny moments in Kyle’s life we all remember and love and some are still in effect today.  I hope these instances are as bad and as stressful as Kyle’s life will ever get!   

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Kyle & Gigi for Kyle’s 1st birthday! 7/30/02

As a baby, Kyle was always strong willed.  ALWAYS!  I would never have it any other way.  But his attitude would change in a blink of an eye.  My sister called it the 2.2.  He would go from happy little baby to upset child in 2.2 seconds.  I hate to admit it, but it was kind of funny, especially when we would laugh at him and say 2.2.  He didn’t find it humorous in the slightest, not when he was an infant nor later in life.

Kyle was never shy about sharing his feelings or his grievances with us, at any given moment.  I remember clearly one day, Kyle got made at me, I’m guessing I was instigating the little package, and he showed me.  He walked out on the porch and chucked his beloved bottle over the bannister into the front yard.  The snarly look he gave me was way too cute!  Me being me, I found complete humor in the situation.  Mom witnessing the entire thing, yelled at me to stop picking on the kid.  He was adorable, even when angered.  At least at that age.

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Kyle working hard in the strawberry fields. Pollock’s Strawberry Farm Bush Valley 6/28/14

I always did love observing Kyle with his activities.  He would spend hours upon hours lining up his matchbox cars.  Thanks to my sister he owned hundreds of them (no joke).  They always had to be perfectly in line, front to back, front to back, covering the floor or coffee table.  He would concentrate so hard, he blocked out the world around him.  Did I mention his focus included his tongue sticking out like my Uncle Sonny?  I always did find him fascinating, wondering what was going on in his little head.

When Kyle was around two and three years old, and a banana was requested, we had to peel it for him.  The banana had to be stripped down all the way.  Yes, we had to hand him a naked banana and if it broke, well, that was the end of the world.  He would throw a fit and not accept the fruit to eat and demand another.  I’m guessing he felt he couldn’t eat a broken banana or it wouldn’t taste the same or something.  It was a complete tragedy!  Usually I ate the broken pieces, which ticked him off even more.  I never gave in on this one.  He had to learn not to waste food and he wasn’t going to always get his own way.

For a few short years, Kyle would walk around the house with his Scooby-Doo slippers, which were initially three sizes too big.  He loved those things, asking to wear them every waking minute.   Surprisingly, he made his way around the house with minimal trip-age.  After he outgrew those slippers, wearing them until they were too tight, mom and I decided to take him to the store to get another pair.  He picked out ones that looked like a car, even with stuffed wheels on the side.  Letting him try them on to ensure we had a proper fit, Kyle’s mind surprised us again.  After placing the plush cars to his feet, Kyle stiffened up.  He held himself so still and hung onto my arm with all seriousness.  Why?  He thought the wheels were going to shoot him across the floor like roller skates and he was going to roll away!  Mom and I died!  We were laughing so hard, we couldn’t help the panicked kid.  He had no idea what was so funny.  Needless to say, we bought the slippers.

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Kyle’s cakeface for his 1st birthday! Pappy was under that hat … He always did love his sweets! 7/30/02

For years, Kyle believed that the sock manufacturers were making uncomfortable socks with a large seam at the toe just to irritate him.  He believed he was the center of everyone’s attention, even the sock manufacturer and they were out to make his life miserable!  Solution?  We learned that if you turn the sock inside out, the bulky seam was on the outside and didn’t really bother his little piggies.  Believe it or not, there were plenty of other sock issues, including touching his ankle, and the heel of the sock not matching up EXACTLY with his heel etc.  Unfortunately, even though these problems have toned down a notch or two, only because he wears flip flops in the summer, it’s still an argument.   He also believes socks and shoes make his whole body sweat and makes him too hot to wear cloths.

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Kyle lining up his Legos for the ultimate battle! c. 2013

When Kyle first started to wear walking shoes, getting them on with assistance, he would tell us the shoe didn’t fit if his big toe wasn’t able to be lifted comfortably in the confined space.  Yes!  He wanted his big toe to stand up in the shoe, all the way!  To this day, he won’t properly tie his tennis shoes and his hunting boots are about two sizes too big.  Although he is getting better, letting his pap lace up his boots for hunting so he doesn’t trip in the woods.  His tennis shoes still hang off of his feet, making it appear that he will walk out of them at any given moment.

While we’re on the topic of cloths, let’s discuss jeans.  Yes that basic article of clothing that everyone posses, at least a single pair.  Yes, that item that can be dressed up or down and is accepted at most venues.  Kyle HATED jeans.  From the time he was able to give his own opinion on his wardrobe, first grade or so, till he hit the junior high in seventh grade, Kyle never wore a pair of jeans.  EVER!  What did he wear?  Sweatpants or shorts.  Sometimes his sweatpants were the cotton kind and sometimes the shiny pants (which he still wears to this day)  For church, he was and still is never ever permitted to wear sweatpants.  Clothing of choice?  He has to wear dress slacks and in the summer, nice dress shorts.  At the time they had to have the elastic waistband.  Kidding?  Nope!  That always about killed him, but we worked through it, kind of.  He still hates cloths, and getting dressed for church sometimes poses a problem.

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Kyle being held by the Hulk at Legofest 2012 … Kyle’s humor!  Yes that’s made entirely out of Legos!

Switching gears a bit, train gears that is, let’s move onto toys.  No matter who played Thomas the Tank Engine, as instructed by Kyle, they had to be Diesel.  Kyle never did like Diesel, I really don’t know why?  I decided early on, this rule did not pertain to me.  I wouldn’t have a three year old tell me what I was playing with, which always resulted in little temper tantrum, sometimes a big blow up.  He would also dictate how I was to play, which direction to move and what I was doing.  Again, nope!  Kyle had to learn early on that he didn’t always get his own way and others had the freedom of choice.  I reinforced the ideas of compromise and sharing.  It was a struggle, but one learned, kind of.

Around two years and up, Kyle LOVED puzzles.  By the time he was walking till about three years, he was putting together some thousand piece puzzle sets!  Did I mention I hate puzzles?  However, I would turn over the pieces so they were facing up and sit with him while he matched piece after piece to create the picture represented on the box.  He said, “Loot pappy, I’m puzzle boy!”

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Chad Piper (cousin) & Kyle at Gutchess Picnic, Idlewild. c. 2003

Then, after the puzzles came the Legos!  Lego Love Kyle’s Lego Dream @LegoFest 2012 Bricks 4 Kidz, Kyle’s Lego Camp Birthday Surprise Another Lego Christmas  Happy Lego Birthday Kyle – 11 Years Old! Lego Obsessive or Driven Going Retro With Star Wars Legos etc. That phase lasted the longest thus far.  Once he discovered Legos there was no going back.  When Kyle was five, we made a bet at his peewee football ceremony and naturally he won.  The prize?  He wanted a Bionicle man, which needed to be assembled, for ages seven and up, I believe.  Kyle always loved a challenge and began putting those pieces together and eventually graduating to a thousand plus piece Lego sets, with movable parts.  I never let the suggested age restrict him.  EVER!  I always encouraged Kyle, especially when it was a challenge!  He knew it and was always proud of himself and his accomplishments.  So was I!  Did I mention he called himself Lego Man? Yes!

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Kyle’s Lego army about to do battle! c. 2011

One last walk down memory lane.  One that we are all grateful he grew out of and did a complete one eighty, reading!  I HATE READING! Reading Brings Generations Together Reading Brings Generations Together…Or Not? Harry Potter Made Me Do It! etc.  Kyle started off loving books.  He would always drag a book to our lap and have us read and rock him in the rocking chair.  LOVE IT!  Then, came the time he had to do the reading, which didn’t go over so well.  In fact, it pushed him to hate reading, which saddened me beyond imagination.  Though, I tried many tactics to change his perception of reading, my sister remembered one method, bribery!  Yes, for a very brief stent, we would pay Kyle in cold hard cash to read to us.  Judge us if you will, but it worked and the benefits of him reading outweighed the idea of bribery.  Of course, I tried may avenues including yelling, grounding, sharing the reading, acting out the story while he read etc.  In the end the most effective was reading to Kyle, Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets, with the most gusto and the best British accent I could muster.  After that book, Kyle chose on his own to continue reading the rest of the series.  I was very proud of him.  Since then I kept up his interest in reading by buying him books anytime he needed one, getting them for him with every holiday and special occasion and sometimes reading the same books so the lines of communication were open.  Yep, that was a struggle but again one well worth it!

In addition to reading, Kyle still loves to hunt, shoot his .22 and his 243 (his dad would be proud), fish, sled ride and snowboard, build (anything), and he loves his dog Scooby (plus Seven, Avery and Storm a.k.a. Lady Fluffington).  Over the years his interest in movies have grown, being a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings (movies and books) the Avengers (all superheros), video games (mostly Minecraft) and now he’s taken an interest in fantasy games such as Summoner Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, and WarMachine.

One of Kyle’s piano lesson songs happen to be Happy Birthday. I thought it be appropriate to record it for all to share on his birthday!

Happy Birthday Kyle!  I hope you have a blessed and exciting journey!

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Playing As Kids – Building Forts & Making Gold

All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.  ~Pope Paul VI

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Our cousins, Casey holding Marla, Joel in the back, Michael & Elizabeth. Stacy has yet to come. c. 1986

Trying to teach Kyle that you don’t need money or the latest and greatest video games to have fun, is surprisingly a really hard lesson to teach.  At least with my little stubborn man.  I can’t say it enough, he is a good kid, a truly good hearted person, but he only sees playing and having fun as an activity that has been dictated by his generation of video games.  He is not accustomed to good old fashion playing outside, unless I demonstrate and participate of course.

This past weekend, Kyle wanted to play a game with me.  Great!  I suggested a game of chess.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Battle Ship.  Denied!  I suggested a game of Trouble (love that mindless game.  We used it to reach Kyle how to count when he was wee little.)  Denied!  He wanted to play a few games with me on the Wii.  Ok, I’ll give him that since we haven’t busted out the Wii for a while.  His compromise was to play the hunting games and the Wii Sports Resort (Swordplay, Fruit Ninja, Wakeboarding).  I wanted to dance to Micheal Jackson, denied!   I gave in and we played, having a pretty good time.  But after so long, I didn’t have the patience to sit in front of the television and play games anymore.  I would rather get up and move around.  Not Kyle, he wanted to continue for hours upon hours.  Denied!

I pretty much have to force Kyle to undertake any activity before he realizes he’s actually having fun or enjoying himself.  Time and time again this has happened.  Perfect example would include his perceived dreaded hikes with the dogs, which he does enjoy while on the hike.  Even after we come back from having a nice time, he still won’t admit to it.  I guess it’s not cool.

As kids we made up some pretty crazy games and undertook some unusual activities to keep ourselves entertained.  One of the stories I’ve shared with Kyle was the fort building.

Let me step back to state, I grew up with my brother and sister and my cousins around.  So there was never a shortage of kids to play with.  For Kyle, not so much.  I know that has a lot to do with the way he plays and his interests, but I do try as best I can.

Anyway, when we were kids, we used to chop down trees, yes with a hatchet, smaller trees, probably about six inches in diameter and stack them on top of each other to form a fort.  Yes, a real fort with four sides, nestled back in the woods.  We would play in and around this fort all day.

Near this location were these large vines that hung over a small creek.  We would take turns swinging back and forth on the natural ropes like Tarzan and Jane.  It was so much fun.  We did all this with our dog Jill hanging around, without parental supervision, while everyone was getting along and getting dirty and exercise.

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Cousins playing at Twin Lakes for Lisa’s birthday. L to R Nicole, Tim, Lisa, Ryan, Casey, me, Elizabeth & Mikey behind trying to claim a spot on the swings. c. 1986

Let’s be realistic, I don’t really have a desire to build another fort anymore.  However, if Kyle really wanted to, I would, but since manual labor is not at the top of his list, we never relived those good old days.

Instead, dad decided he wants to raise chickens.  Apparently, I’m going to construct a chicken coop, correction, Kyle and me are going to build a chicken coop soon.  I guess that’s close enough to a fort.  At least he’s doing something productive, in real life.  I Need To Build My House – Video Games.

As far as the whole experience including the vine swinging goes, I’ve actually taken Kyle in the woods and we have done just that!  He even enjoyed himself!  Although for me it seemed more fun as a kid, but for Kyle, who is still a youngster, it was a new experience.  There is something about swinging past trees that is so relaxing and fun.

Now onto the gold.   Another quick story of how we used our imagination and every day items to create our own pastimes.

One day Ryan was tinkering around in the garage, yes I believe we were still in elementary school. He was always in that garage.  Anyway, he came running out yelling, “I’ve found gold!  I’ve found gold!” as he darted down the driveway toward my cousin Casey and Joel’s house.  What on earth?

Ryan found a can of gold spray paint and took some rocks and spray painted them.  They did look like nuggets of gold.  Yes we added that to the items we played with as kids, simple rocks.  We even fought over the rights to the “gold nuggets” and made up war games with the “gold” as the booty.

Really it shouldn’t take much to have an imagination and to be entertained.  At least not with us as kids.  We found fun in everyday life, with every day things, even rocks!

Read other related blogs

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling
Playing As Kids – Chasing Cars

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

Playing As Kids – Tire Rolling

You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole–like the world, or the person you loved.  ~Stewart O’Nan

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. Check out the game of pushing the wheel. 7/2002

The other day at the gym, the topic of playing as kids and the things we did came up.  It’s so very true how different I had it growing up compare to Kyle, and I’m sure my mom could say the same and so on and so forth.  Although, mom’s childhood was not entirely different from mine, no surprise considering we both grew up with our slew of cousins as neighbors, on the same hillside, on my uncle’s farm and in the same house my mom lived.  How about that for family stability, which is almost unheard of now-a-days!

Sure, we had Atari and Pong and we did have one of the first apple computers that could have been programed to dance multicolored lines across the screen.  However, those electronics were never the focus of our entertainment. Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man and Gamers Start Small & Grow

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My Aunt Emily Olczak, sister to my Uncle Walter. Love the Babushka! c. 1980s

What did we do exactly?  Well, first I’d like to say, my brother, sister, cousins and myself were all a bit odd in our merriment.  We made due with what we had around us.  Honestly, we enjoyed life and had a great childhood without all the frills!

There are so many strange activities we discovered, as they come to mind, I’ll be sure to record them in my blog, so Kyle can read about our crazy pastimes.

Please note, not all of our stupid entertainment happened when we were young, some but not all.  Sometimes we were well into our teens, heck twenties, humoring ourselves.  Now on with the tire rolling…

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Our beloved Jill sitting in the front yard, over looking my Uncle Walter’s field & house.

Once after school, roughly  junior high age, I stepped outside to see what Ryan was up to.  I’m still not sure where it from came or from what, but Ryan was rolling this tire around in the yard.  It was about half the diameter of a bicycle tire, but it was wider.  I remember Ryan was pushing it to get it rolling and then running up to wheel and catching it.  Seriously?  Yes!  Naturally, I wanted to join in, so we started taking turns.  We were pushing a tire to get it rolling and then running beside it to stop it.  Did we loose our minds?  Perhaps, but we were having a good time!

Our initial challenge was to get this tire to travel a far distance before falling over.  Then, one of us got the brilliant idea to push our limits by rolling the tire down the hill into my Uncle Walter’s field, below my parent’s house.

We pushed the tire, down a hill, into a field, and ran beside it.  Once we wrapped our hands around the rogue tire, we would march it back up the hill and start all over, taking turns of course.  Sometimes gravity chose to join in on the fun by pulling us to the ground tripping us up and creating a good face plant before reaching the tire.  Sometimes the tire would just fall over from hitting divots in the ground and not get very far.

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“Traditional” Korean hotel/house. We slept on wooden floors under mosquito nets. 7/2002

Did I mention we had a blast?  That is until mom pulled up the driveway and saw what we were up to.  One would think, ‘Who cares, the kids were having harmless fun’.  Well we were, but what you didn’t know and as kids we never considered, my Aunt Mary’s green house sat at the bottom of the hill.  A greenhouse made entirely of glass held together by metal cross sections.  If that tire would have picked up more steam and stayed on course, it could have made a direct impact for the glasshouse.  Let’s face it, that wouldn’t have been so fun.

Where was my sister during all this?  Inside watching television ignoring us.  There was no way Nicole would have thought chasing a tire, set in motion by oneself, as enjoyment, not in the slightest.  Ryan and me on the other hand, thought it was the most entertaining activity to date!  Seriously, I can’t even remember how many passes we made, but I do now they reached the double digits.  We were exhausted, yet it was a good time.  I’m sure I slept well that night.

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Over looking the front yard into Uncle Walter’s field & house. The greenhouse was on the other side of the pine trees.

Many, many years later when I traveled to South Korea (The Republic of South Korea) in 2002, I stayed at this “traditional hotel”, that’s what I called it since we had to sleep on the wood floor, under mosquito tents, in the middle of no where.  I guess it was kind of like a bed and breakfast, since the family lived there and fed us our meals.  We only stayed one night, and that evening we hung out in the center court.

It was a dirt area in the center of the buildings separating the sides of rooms.  The one side housed the guys and the other side the ladies and the dining room and kitchen areas.  The center court area was not roof covered and I believe both sides of the building were independent from each other if my memory serves me correct.  It was really a very nice but very rugged establishment, a traditional house without showers and other modern enmities.

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Korean boy showing us how to play the game with the wheel & stick. 7/2002

That evening the little boy of the house came out to entertain us, or check out the foreigners in his house, or both.  He had this wheel without the center.  He used a stick to push it around and control the round object.  Instantly, when I saw this activity, I was reminded of Ryan and me with our own wheel game.  No joke, it was about the same size and as I watched the child use a stick to push his wheel.  Instantly what came to mind is ‘We never considered that!’.  For a moment, the worlds intertwined, my youth and my adulthood, North America and South Korea, and I realized our game of chase the tire was not so uncommon.  Pretty cool!

It was a random weekday, after school in the spring air.  It only took one tire, one hillside and two hyperactive kids that made our own semi-harmless fun.  An activity I was reminded of years later, half a world away and still to this day!  Did I mention it was great exercise too, which was never even a thought at the time?

I have many more silly stories much like this one.  As they come to mind, I’ll write a blog entry about each.

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

Lessons From a Cell Phone

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.  ~Steven Spielberg

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Me as Iron Man in Toys R Us. Kyle snapped my picture on my phone. We sent it to Aunt Nikki! 1/11/2014

Kyle’s had a cell phone for a little over a year now.  It’s nothing fancy, no smartphone but it works to send and receive calls and text messages, perfect for a twelve-year old.

However, Kyle loves my iPhone!  He has for as long as I’ve had one, and he’s been itching to get his hands on one too.  Right before I got the iPhone 5, Kyle looked at me with wide eyes suggesting that I should give him my old one and I get the new one.  Great thinking kid, but NO!  At the time Kyle was eleven.  To be honest I thought about it, putting the extra cost aside, which was a big factor considering I knew how much data time Kyle would use; and putting aside the security I would need to put on the phone similar to his iPod to try and remove inappropriate content from reaching Kyle’s eyes and permanently taking up space in his mind; I was stopped at the idea of Kyle getting everything he wants and having too much.

Yes, the later really weighed in on me.  It’s not that I don’t want Kyle to have everything and every opportunity in the world, because I do and yet I don’t.  I want him to appreciate what he has and work toward better, like life should be.  It shouldn’t just be a hand out, especially for no reason.  That’s a huge lesson in itself that even adults have a hard time accepting.  I want Kyle to be better, to be a better person.

Aunt Heather Piper as Iron Man Kyle texting Aunt Nikki 1-11-2014

Kyle texting his Aunt Nikki 1/11/2014

At the time of my phone purchase, it wasn’t his birthday or a special occasion and Kyle hasn’t impressed me with all his volunteer work (meaning none, except being an alter boy at church) nor has he gone out of his way to be an exceptional child.  Not that he’s a bad kid, absolutely not!  He’s a great kid, but again I want him to learn these lessons now to be an even better adult.  Nope, all reasons for my decision not to give him his own iPhone.

Granted, I know other children, probably younger than Kyle have smartphones.  Great!  That’s none of my business nor do I care.  I’m sure the parents have their reasons, like I have mine and I’m happy for the child.  However, in my particular case, it was not going to happen, at least not yet.  Did Kyle did mention about his friends who have iPhones?   You bet that stinker did, and he tried to sell me on the idea that he already knows how to work one.  Yes, it’s true not the reasoning, as I tried to explain.  Honestly, that single comment about his friends brought a smile to my face, not because I’m a cynical person, which sometimes I am, but because it helped and continues to help me teach Kyle.

What are these lessons?  Simply humility, Kyle doesn’t have to have the best and flaunt it (not that he really does); patience, good things come to those who wait; appreciation, so he never takes what he has for granted, which he does like most kids, so I feel this is a much needed lesson; adaptability, learning to use what you have at ground level, if you can do that you can work with anything; minimalism, I didn’t want to clutter Kyle with too many electronics, even though it’s too late.  The list goes on and on.  I want to give Kyle an opportunity to live life and enjoy it for what it is, not through the eyes of electronics.  I don’t want him to be the person who is only focusing on his or her smartphone that they don’t pay attention to their children crying for their attention or the world around them and truly missing life, or the man who literally walked into a bear while texting.  (Yes it was caught on camera somewhere.  A bear was running a muck in a neighborhood and they needed to tranquilize it and the guy was so focused on texting he ran into it then quickly ran away.)

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Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group 1st meeting of the year. They participated in a Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunt Meet & Greet. 9/2013

Please don’t mistake my opinions and dissertation for a hatred toward mobile devices, because it’s not.  I love my phone and I use it probably too often.  I also love being able to call or text Kyle and reach him whenever, except when it’s not charged or when he’s playing video games.  However, if he wants something he will call and call and call and text and text and text till he reaches me.

Then, there are those cases when the phone gets Kyle in trouble.  Yes, this one is really not Kyle’s fault.  This one comes straight from Kyle’s mold, his Aunt Nikki.  A few weeks ago, trusty old Aunt Nikki decided to call Kyle in the middle of the day, thinking he was home from school due to the snow.  Guess what?  He wasn’t, he was sitting in the middle of class when his phone rang.  I asked Kyle why he didn’t have it turned off and he confessed, “I thought I did, I must have sat on it and it turned on.”  I totally believe the kid because nothings worse to him than getting in serious trouble with authority figures, especially being sent to the principal’s office.  He did the dreaded walk down the hall into the unknown trouble, giving that kid the worst anxiety.  Kyle said, “We were just about done with class when the phone rang and I knew it was Aunt Nikki!”

Kyle's youth group meeting text Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle’s youth group meeting text message to me.. cracked me up! 2014

What did Aunt Nikki have to say?  She laughed and called me to tell me she got Kyle in trouble.  It’s true, I did giggle along with her, knowing how devastated Kyle was over the situation and knowing he doesn’t like to break rules and get in trouble, but it was all in good fun.  Nicole said the next time this happens, Kyle gets detention.  Boy that will just kill him!  Sorry bud, but that was funny!

Now for a positive note regarding Kyle’s cell phone.  Keep in mind most of my pictures and video of me and Kyle, as well as records of his daily life are streamed from my phone keeping friends and family updated on the package.  Good thing!  There are also so many, many more great reasons for Kyle to have a cell phone, especially in his particular case.  I won’t get into all that but I would like to share a funny story that had me cracking up!

About a month ago, Kyle had a youth group meeting at Sacred Heart School for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group.  They asked the parents and guardians to be there because they were discussing major events that involved all parties.  As they were throwing around ideas and discussing them, they were asking for volunteers to spearhead specific items.  I did volunteer to for a specific job.  After it was discussed and agreed upon, I heard my phone beep with a text message.  Knowing it could be anyone for Thrill of the Hunt, my clients or my family, I looked down to see one Mr. Kyle Piper’s name across the screen.  Sitting across the room from me was that little critter smiling while holding onto his phone.  The text read, “That means u.”

While the meeting was going on, I busted out laughing and looked right at Kyle.  He gave me an ornery look with this cute little mischievous grin.  I was smiling from ear to ear, now not paying attention to the meeting and getting sucked into his silliness.  Naturally, I began to text him back.  It was seriously so much fun and worth the distraction.  It was our own inside joke that humored both of us equally.  Love that little man!  Sometimes his communication skills scare me and sometimes he has the best personality and is so quick witted.

I guess with everything there is good and bad, all depending on the user and the intent.  Everything in moderation, taking away extremes helps to create a full and balanced life.  Like it or not, cells phones are here to stay.

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

Riding In a Car Gives Me a Headache

I’ve helped people get rid of headaches by placing my hand on their forehead, and backaches by placing my hand on their back. It’s a powerful example of love that really works.  ~Shelley Long

Young-Kyle-in-glasses-c.-2009-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle sporting his new glasses. Love his smile! c. 2009

For the last several years, Kyle has complained about getting headaches.  They only seem to occur during car rides.  It’s always just as we head out, he’ll say, “My head hurts” or “I have a headache.”   Last week Kyle said, “I can’t wait till it’s nice out and I can put down my window when I get a headache, it makes me feel better”.

What’s really funny about that statement is I can’t ride with just one window down, I have to have a least two or more to cut the pressure in the car or that kills me!

Yesterday, heading to church for our Ashes (Ash Wednesday, signifying the first day of Lent in preparation for Easter.) Kyle made the same remark, “My head hurts.”  My response?  “Really buddy?  We just left.”  Literally, I just pulled out of the driveway and couldn’t have been more than two hundred yards before he spoke up.

What is going on with this kid?  I would be on red alert if this ailment was continuous, inside and outside the car, but it’s not, it’s only when riding in the car, at least that’s what he tells me.

It seemed to start years ago when Kyle first got his glasses.  Granted, he was pretty young when he started wearing them so I can’t really speak of the time of pre-glasses.  It’s not like the little tyke was able to say, “Excuse me Aunt Heather my head hurts.”, while safely strapped into a car seat sucking on a Binky.  However, I don’t think he got headaches.

Originally, Kyle was only suppose to wear his glasses when watching television or reading, but then he started wearing them all the time.  Thinking the cause of his head thumping was the magnified pieces of glass suspended by wire frames resting directly in front of his eyes, I use to tell Kyle to take his glasses off when riding in the car.  It seemed to help until he developed a common childhood obsession for video games.  He would play his Nintendo DS and later his iPod, both glued to his fingers.  Yes, he would play video games till his head was pounding!  He learned quickly to minimize his online activity while riding along.  Now he waits for a red light before fighting off stick people.

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Kyle riding the Merry-Go-Round at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, Pa. Rides don’t seem to make Kyle sick but cars do. 2012

As this issue continues, my thoughts try to factor in all variables and take into account my car.  Either the way it rides or sits, that sort of thing.  I even considered the very slim chance, it was the driver of the vehicle, a.k.a. me.  I asked Kyle once if his headaches only happened in my car.  His response, “No every time I get in a car.”  I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, because I don’t think it’s EVERY time, just often.  However, yesterday I asked him the same question.  His response, “Yes, I think it’s just your car Aunt Heather.”  Wonder if that’s true or not or if he was teasing me?  Again, that’s hard to tell since I am usually the one picking him up and driving him around, not really a fair assessment.

Could it be me, personally, triggering his headaches?  If that was true then one would think he would always have them, since I’m with him so much.

Over the years I’ve blamed this problem on lack of water, eating too much junk food and playing too many hours of video games, but I have nothing to base my hypothesis on.  Kyle claims these are not the reasoning, but again he has no proof for his argument either.

My biggest fear is it could be something more serious showing itself before it really does.  Between my friend Markelle and her aneurysm bursting More In Her Head Than An Aneurysm and loosing several cousins to brain tumors, I can’t help but think of the worst.  Granted, I don’t dwell on those thoughts but they do come to mind from time to time. (no pun intended)

Honestly, as a kid and into my adulthood, I very rarely got or get headaches.  When I do, believe it or not it’s simply because my neck needs adjusted.  The more I go to the gym, the less that happens, the less I get headaches.  This crazy cycle only really started later on in life when I got a job sitting at a desk, typing into a computer.  Prior to that, my headaches were far and few between.  Then, Bam!  Neckache and headache!  Although I’m not immune to migraines either, having only a handful in my entire life, thankfully I don’t have a chronic issue like some unfortunate souls.

I’m going to throw this truly outlandish idea out there; an observation I’ve made over the years and I do believe it, although I absolutely have no proof; but when I get headaches, they’re usually during hurricane season.  Yes!  When the air pressure takes giant leaps, especially right before a storm, my head will ache terribly.  But once the storm passes, suddenly my pain is relieved.  Sounds crazy I know, but I’m telling you, I can’t deny it!  It also seems to get worse the older I get.  Can I be that sensitive to air pressure?

Markelle-VA-trip-Aunt-Heather-Piper

My good friend Markelle showing off her picture perfect face on one of our trips… Virginia.

So what is the problem with Kyle and his throbbing head?  I guess the better question is how do I fix it for the poor kid?  He’s been on many, many road trips with us, especially his Aunt Nikki.  Sometimes riding in the car for long distances can effect me as well, but Kyle’s problem seems to stem from quick rides back and forth to the movies, the store, or to piano lessons, not major distances.  I would like to alleviate his pain or at the very least pinpoint the problem to address it, if possible.

The fresh air seems to help Kyle.  Could it just be a case of plain old car sickness?  He usually doesn’t get nauseous, but that has accompanied the headaches on occasion.  And like me, we can’t read in the car or we do get a little vertigo.  I know my Uncle Walter used to get horrible car sickness, but no one in my immediate family does, not even Ryan did.  Kyle can also ride any ride at an amusement park without issue.  So what is it about a car?

On a side note, the overly cautiousness in me wants to get a CAT scan for my nephew’s melon, just to rule out anything serious.  Not reasonable I know, but always a thought in my head…

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

I Need To Build My House! – Video Games

This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’  ~Jack White

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Kyle with his cousins, Olivia & Grant at Twin Lakes for a picture day. Kids should get back to nature & hang out with each other more often  8/2012

I know I’ve talked about video games, Gamers Start Small & Grow & Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man, and the issues and arguments that seem to accompany them, No Video Games? Running?  Why Do I Have To?.  So it should be no surprise to me that Kyle’s video games are not falling by the wayside, in fact they are advancing at a rapid rate!

Again, I’d like to reiterate, I have no qualms with video games, I do like to play a game or two, but I do have a problem with video games consuming your entire life.  If I’d let Kyle, he would play his Minecraft or whatever game he’s on, ALL day.  No joke!  Not taking a break, not getting tired, not thinking about anything else, not even getting distracted.  Maybe I should be giving him kudos for his dedication to this discipline.

However, I can’t get past the detox I have to go through every time I ask Kyle to wrap it up to do something else, or when he has to stop because he exceeded his video playing limit.  (Yes for the record I do try and monitor and reasonably limit how much time he plays video games on his computer – the only thing he uses it for.  No schoolwork!)

Yes the detox.  Telling Kyle he has “five minutes left” or “wrap it up buddy, your done for the day” or “take an hour break” is almost devastating to his ears.  He’ll give me a look, like I’m talking Chinese, as if he doesn’t comprehend what I said to him.  Or even better, he instantly starts to whine and grumble like a tiny child.  But the absolute best, the one action that really gets my goat, is when he doesn’t even lift his eyes to look at me when I’m talking to him, and he continues playing as if I’m not even in the room, then to appease me with an “Ok”.  I know he may think my instructions are negotiable, but I have news for him.  Nope!  That laptop is closed, permanently.

Sometimes it feels like I’m peeling that electronic device from his fingers.  I imagine this is what it would be like to pull drugs from a user.  He really does get addicted to these games, like many other kids his age.

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Kyle sitting with his pappy sporting a rifle at my cousins, Connie & Skip’s house. Uncle Ray (RIP) is in the background. 7/2011

Fortunately, Kyle knows when I mean business, I mean it and there’s no messing around.  Granted, I do give him his time to play and allow him the chance to save whatever he’s on before shutting down his operation, but the minute the attitude comes and the arguments surface, I loose it. Especially when I hear, “Why do I have to?” and “Why can’t I play a little longer.” and my favorite, “Why do I have to take a break?”; that’s when the computer is completely taken away, to not make its appearance until the following day.

This week while walking with a friend of mine, Holsters, the very same topic came up.  Her nephew has the same demeanor, and he’s two or three years younger than Kyle.  She’s beside herself.  Plus she doesn’t have the same authority I do, to enforce what’s right.  These kids just want to be slugs and sit around with their head in fantasy land, not facing reality.  Young people are not going to be able to cope with real life if they don’t start taking baby steps toward it now. (I’m not even going to get into the diet that accompanies the hour long stents of video game madness.)  No wonder they are whiny and miserable and tired all the time.

Seriously, I wish more parents would stop using video games as a babysitter and get involved with their kids.  And I’m not talking about joining them on the controls, although in moderation, that could be a good bonding experience.  I’m talking about building a cabin or a chicken shed, or dig up the earth looking for dinosaurs.  I know I’m going to extremes and being silly, kinda, but there is so much to do!  Do it.  And get creative, it will entertain all parties.

Kyle-reading-Hunger-Games-at-IHOP-2012-Aunt-Heather-Piper

At least reading is another one of Kyle’s addictions, besides the video games. He does love to read, even at the IHOP – Hunger Games! c. 2012

Video games are a bit of an enigma with me.  Last weekend Kyle made a comment that he had a lot to do.  “Really what do you have planned for today?”  Silly me, he had to finish building his house in Minecraft.  What?  I said, “Kyle building an imaginary house in a video game is not considered work, nor should it ever be a priority.”  He gave me the “whatever” grin.  I believe he even rolled his eyes at me!

This was my time to sound like an old timer.  I told Kyle, “Now if you go out and build an actual house, that someone could live in or a play area, now that’s considered work and worth your time.  I would also help you build it, but not a digital house that doesn’t benefit anyone.”  His response?  “My people need somewhere to live!”  Yikes!   I should have stopped there, but I didn’t and I began to explain how we built a fort (yes we took small trees chopped them down and build ourselves a fort to play in, in the woods) and a cabin.  Seriously, we did this when we were in elementary school.   I didn’t mention that we were unusual kids for our day, I didn’t find it a need when I was trying to make my case.

Not taking the hint Kyle didn’t seem to care or really comprehend what I was saying, I continued, “Look, your dad and Casey and Joel (cousins) build the party shack just to hang out in when they were in high school and not to play video games.”  Again, I didn’t get into what they did up there, nor do I even want to know, but that’s not relevant to my argument.

Kyle knows the cabin very well.  We sometimes hunt around there and when Kyle was younger, Casey would come home and take him for a walk up to the permanent structure, remembering Ryan,  The cabin is equipped with a wood burner, windows, a porch and a shingled roof.  Definitely no dive.

Quick story.  I don’t know how many times this happened, but I do know it was at least once.  The guys, Ryan, Casey and Joel, plus whoever else was hanging around, called to have a pizza delivered.  They actually gave directions to the edge of the woods and told the driver to wait there, someone will meet them.  To me that’s the funniest story.  First of all this took place late at night and secondly, no delivery driver would even do that today for fear of being jumped.  Lastly, who just orders a pizza to have it delivered to the woods?  I would have walked to my parents house to wait for it and then carried the pie back up.  Not those guys.  They got hungry and ordered a pizza to be delivered in the woods with no real address.  Too funny!

Now back to my video game rant.  On Monday Kyle text me asking for an apple pie recipe we recently made.  I had mom type it up and email it to him.  I text him back letting him know it was on the way to check his emails, no response.  Again, I reached out to him via text message to ensure he did indeed receive the requested information, no response.   I tried calling, to only be put into his voicemail.  Fine, it must not be that important, even though I believed he needed it for school.

Kyle & my text he needs work on his spelling- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle texted me for an apple pie recipe, obviously he needs work on his spelling

The next day I got a text saying “Got it”.  Ok a day late but whatever.  Then yesterday, just after he got home from school, he CALLED  me, not texted or emailed me but he picked up the phone to make the call, asking for his password on Minecraft.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from Kyle, no matter the reason, but seriously?  Evidently, he updated the game and it logged him out, therefore his password was not saved.  Crisis! He wanted me to jump up immediately to access our password list to give him his login information.  Fat chance kid!  I told him I’ll get to it later, after asking if he had homework and if he practiced his piano.

I guess it doesn’t feel so good to be blown off, because the next thing I knew, I saw an email come through resetting the password. (Yes I have all his emails copied to me so I can monitor his activity.)  That kid is something else!  Instead of waiting for the info, he had to have it right then and there, immediately.  So he reset the password to play his game.  Funny thing, he never gave me the updated password.  I see another issue in the near future.

Not to be all negative about Kyle and those stupid video games because he sometimes does pretty good with playing in moderation, sort of.  Granted, I do need to tell him to log off when the hours have been racking up.  By no means does he usually volunteer to be released from the video game addition, but once he’s off, he’ll play other board games, go to the movies, sled ride, cook, or my favorites, play the piano and reading.   He just needs to be guided toward other activities. I’ve noticed he really doesn’t pay attention to the hours spent on the computer.  I suppose that’s my job.  I’m very thankful he does have other interests, even though they tend to take a backseat to the video games.

I’m hoping this is still a faze, but maybe I’m the one living in the imaginary world.

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

Gamers Start Small & Grow

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

Heather-&-Holly-Turkey-Trot-11-28-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle-playing-video-games-in-car-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man

I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.  Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games.  The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets.  ~Ronald Reagan

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Nicole, Mom & Ryan hanging at grams house 1984

This past Christmas Kyle got a PlayStation 3 (PS3), not that he needed an additional means to play more video games.  But just as expected, he was ecstatic over the purchase.  What really cracks me up, is he has the Wii with a boatload of video games and Wii Fitness, which he barely plays anymore.  Let’s not forget all the games he’s purchased on his iPod Touch, the computer and he still plays with his Nintendo DS.  I guess he has a game for any occasion and any location.

With the availability of this new console, my sister decided to encourage his already obsessive behavior by purchasing him his very own Burnout Paradise and a few other games.  Kyle LOVES that game.  Every year since the establishment of ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’ Kyle has practically mastered the game and dreams about playing that game every year before vacationing at Nicole’s house.  In fact, if he hears Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses, he’ll get in this almost nostalgic state and have a yearning to visit my sister to play.  No joke!  He’s actually said to me, “Aunt Heather now I really want to go to Aunt Nikki’s to play Burnout Paradise.”  Now Nicole and Kyle can play Burnout Paradise with each other in the evenings.  Since my sister is four hours away, this is kind of a neat way to hang out, through a video game.  I guess any excuse to spend time with each other is a good excuse.

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Kyle playing his Nintendo DS.  T-shirt courtesy of Aunt Nikki c. 2009

Sometimes I wonder if the desire to play video games is an inherited behavior.  Ryan wasn’t really that into video games, he would rather be outside hunting and fishing or working on cars.  Playing every once in a while, I can say I’m not really big into video games myself.  I would rather be reading, snowboarding, running or hiking.  My sister, although I would never constitute her as a gamer, does like to play video games more than any of us.  My dad, forget it.  He’s never touched a computer and the only Wii game he’s ever played was Cabela’s Hunting.  Probably because we have a plastic gun type of accessory to house the Wii remote control, giving it that kind of hunting feel.  Mom will sit and play a Wii game if Kyle pleads with her to do so.  She tries, but the games are a lot more complex than they used to be and her eyesight isn’t all that great.  Let’s not forget her reflexes aren’t what they used to be either.  How do I know?  Mom had the potential to be a modern day gamer.

Way long time ago, in the 1980’s, when Atari came out, my parents purchased us the console and a few games.  Prior to, we had a very basic game called Pong.  Not too exciting but was enough to stimulate us for a while.  Now, when the Atari arrived, it did catch our attention, at least initially.  We had Frogger, always one of my favorites and still is.  As a matter of fact, I downloaded it to our Wii console but the desire to play it isn’t there anymore.  On a side note, Seinfeld did an episode on Frogger.  It was great!

Another game which logged a lot of hours was Combat.  This one required two players and dad owned it!  Within Combat, there were different games such as tanks or airplanes.  Basically you shot each other up until someone was out of ammo.  That was up dad’s alley, not really my bag.  Ryan on the other hand loved Pole Position!  This was his cup of tea.  It was a racing game whereas you viewed the screen as if you were really driving the car.  You needed to avoid other drivers, maneuver around curves and avoid crashing.   It was fun picking the different courses.

PacMan Aunt Heather Piper

I can’t remember Nicole having a favorite game, but I’m sure she did.  A few other videos we owned included Q-Bert, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Missile Command and Donkey Kong.  There were many more games to purchase, but we didn’t get new ones just because we wanted them, only for special occasions, unlike kids of today.

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This is what our Atari console looked like! Love the 80’s!

Intentionally, I left one game out of the list because it is the spotlight of my rant.  The one the only, the original Pac-Man!  I look at Pac-Man as the Angry Birds of our present day.  Coming as part of the Atari console package, along with Combat, Pac-Man was the game!  There was even a cartoon made to continue the phenomenon.  Being a relatively simple game, your yellow Pac-Man guy had to eat these dots or pills in the maze without being attacked from Blinky (Red), Inky (light blue), Pinky (Pink) and Clyde (Orange), the ghosts.  Naturally there were opportunities to power up and gain additional points.  Each level became faster and faster and the mazes changed slightly, becoming increasingly difficult.

Back in the day, mom was our master Pac-Man master.  She really was, without question.  Presently, we relive this tale of how the most unassuming member of the family, who stood on the sidelines watching everyone take their shot at the title, turned into a Pac-Man powerhouse behind closed doors.  Yes mom, kicked all of our butts!  I’ll never forget the day we realized mom rained supreme with this simple Atari game.

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Mom doesn’t look like she’s having a nice day… 1980’s

It happened on the most ordinary of days.  Upon filing into the house after coming home from school, we naturally ran to the Atari console to challenge each other to a game, letting our hair down and relaxing before homework.  One of us, either me, Ryan or Nicole plugged in the Pac-Man game.  The high score glowed throughout the room, blinding our eyes and taunted us like a cruel joke.  We seriously didn’t say anything at first and just kind of stared at each other wondering who accomplished this feet without everyone knowing, and when?  Just then, mom walked into the living-room sporting a huge grin on her face, as if proud of herself for kicking her very own flesh and blood’s scores to the curb, in a single day!  Mom’s master craftsmanship of game playing was done in one day, while we were at school and dad at work.

Remaining stunned and in complete shock, we challenged mom to a game of Pac-Man, but alas it was a futile attempt at reclaiming our place, ever.  For the duration of the Atari gaming system in our household, mom was undefeated.  We sincerely tried, all of us.  We also had our cousins up, but alas the damage had been done.

PacMan Game Aunt Heather PiperMom played Pac-Man so much her wrists would even flare up and bother her, but she would push through the discomfort for the thrill of the game.  Sometimes we would have mom play just so we could watch her and learn the next levels in case one day we would make it that far.  Mom was seriously fast with her ninja-like reflexes.  It’s almost like she was using The Force to guide her through the mazes.

What was mom’s top score?  Seriously, I don’t even remember and neither does she, but I do remember it was always better than any score I’ve ever seen on any free standing Pac-Man machines found in the arcades and any friends Atari console.  Mom doesn’t really play anymore but she still lives the memories of her gaming days through this story.  Kyle doesn’t really understand, even though he knows what Pac-Man is, we had a Plug & Play containing old Atari games.  But I can tell he really can’t visualize what I’ve witnessed and what we lived to tell the tale.

Looks like mom was the Piper family’s original gamer!  Look out Kyle if you ever decide to challenge Gigi to a game of Pac-Man, you will be rudely awakened!

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