Government Shut Down? … Continued

We have the best government that money can buy.   ~Mark Twain

Finishing where I left off… Government Shut Down? Not Completely

As I was typing this up last night, the news announced that there was a vote by Congress to reopen our government and raise the debt ceiling, signed by Obama.  I’m guessing they came to an agreement.  This, by no means is a long-term solution, I bet the politicians are playing their ever so perfected game of staling and refocusing our attention on other things, done with precision during voting season.  I’m still not sure why they took a voluntary break in August, knowing there were deadlines?  But I’ll continue on my initial train of thought from the other day.

Nicole-Kyle-at-Washington-Monument-Washington-DC-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Nicole hanging with our little man in our Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C. in front of the Washington Monument c. 2003

Recently, I read an article commenting on a Federal Prison in North Texas that had me flabbergasted.  The inmates, yes those individuals who have done wrong and have taken rights away from others, yes those not so moral humans are getting a paycheck, while the ones that serve and protect will not!  What?  Kidding me right?  Apparently, the Federal Reserve that pays those correctional officers, yes that trust fund is not affected by Washington D.C., therefore it is not an issue of public safety.  Seriously?  Yet, the president and all other members of our Congress, etc. are getting their pay.  And to do what?  Nothing?  They are not serving this country and they are most certainly not leading this country to a better future.  If I didn’t do my job, I would get fired!

Apparently, as of last night’s news announcement, government workers who were effected by the shut down, will now receive back pay.  Why didn’t they just get it in the first place, paid for by our very own politicians?  Someone’s way of proving a point!

Maybe I better stop reading and watching the news.  It only gets me fired up!  Unfortunately, so much is brought to my attention, from all kinds of sources that I can’t keep track.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just saying it makes it difficult to site my sources.  I suppose I’m not that concerned with it, because I could just Google the topics, but I’m not a reporter, nor am I an official on all things news, just a plain everyday chic with an exploding opinion.

Somewhere I saw or read a remark that rang true and made complete sense.  I truly don’t remember where I saw it, it wasn’t necessarily Fox News because I also take sneak peeks at other news channels to see what’s being said.  But the gist of the comment was to take money out of politics.  I agree!  Totally agree!  These politicians were voted by the common people to serve, to serve the common people and our country.  They have an obligation to make decisions on behalf of the general population, in the general population’s best interest.  They are to SERVE this country for the BETTERMENT of the country, not to run it into the ground and use it as a stage for personal power and gain.  We have a republic, not a dictatorship or a socialist country.  Again, the politicians are voted into office to make decisions on behalf of the general population for our betterment, NOT for self serving needs and interests.  NO!  Those in the government, all levels of government and decision making authorities, should make laws and choices to place the American people first and themselves second.  None of which I am seeing.  So maybe money needs to be taken out of the equation?  Not that I feel this is a cure all, because when you have humans who all have free will and are in a position of power and decision making, who’s voices and votes ultimately become law, there will always be error and selfishness and pride.  However, there is also a chance for self sacrifice and a moral compass pointing north, which I believe is out there, somewhere, being overshadowed.

Kyle-Dad-in-front-of-Lincoln-Monument-Washington-DC-Aunt-Heather-Piper-c.-2003

Dad & Kyle in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. c.2003

I also thought we were a country of the first Amendment, Freedom of Religion.  I mean the Muslims get to do their march in Washington D.C. during the anniversary of September 11th, which is a slap in the face.  Then on an opposite note, Catholics are being harassed and judged in our very own military?

Yes, I just saw that on the news the other morning.  There is an increase of negative sentiment against Christianity, specifically Catholicism, to those who serve and protect this country.  Yes, the ones who are literally PROTECTING this country, those who are trained to put themselves in harms way when threatened, when our Commander-in-Chief, a.k.a. our president commands it, they have to deal with religious issues?  Kidding?  Nope!  It is reported, with true facts and figures that this problem has increased dramatically since Obama took power.  Surprising?  Not really.  I mean it’s also a fact that he has made anti-American comments and his actions seem to follow suit.  After all, everyone is following perfectly form from our leader.

I’m not saying only Catholics have been persecuted, but it was not highlighted and brought to center stage.  If it was any other religion or issue, it would have been blasted in the media.  Ultimately, let’s face it, all prejudice is wrong and no one wins.

This reminds me of a book I read years ago called AA1025: Memoirs of the Communist Infiltration Into the Church.  It’s a very short read but such an eye opener.  It told the story of a man who wanted to take down the Catholic church.  What is the best way to do this?  Yep, you guessed it, from the inside out.  With relentless trying, he was finally accepted to train to be a priest, not just anyone who applies is permitted to become a man of the cloth, nor is everyone who is trained ends up being a priest.  Priesthood is not a career move, it is a calling, a calling from God, to serve God.  After several refusals, this man was accepted and completed the Sacrament of Priesthood.  He then planned to start to change the religion and was guided to do so from an anonymous source.  The goal was to modify the teachings, the practices, the morals to shake the foundation of the church.  This mission was to be done so subtly at first, to create an almost snowball effect to eventually make huge changes within the church and its teachings.  After all, if you are off by an inch at the beginning when building your foundation, when it’s completed you will be off by feet.  Then, it doesn’t line up making for a weak foundation.  How do we know all this?  His letters and diary were found by a nurse upon his death.  It wasn’t just one man, it was a communist organization of many, he was number 1025!  So if this can happen and in deed did so, I would guess that’s the best course to action when taking down such a great nation as ours.  I mean Hitler did it, he easily brainwashed not only the Germans but also the Jews.  He had the Jews wear the Star of David to show their pride, until he used this symbol to gather them up for his own agenda.  I’m not pointing fingers and the devil can show himself in many forms anywhere, but people need to open their eyes to reality.  Help what’s right and not encourage wrong.

When it comes down to it, the government shut down is not just that, it is a much bigger problem.  Until that is fixed and we build up a strong foundation again, we will never be a stable country, a stable people.  Truly, first I believe it starts with us, everyone, all individuals, the family.  A strong family can not be shaken.  If there were strong families lead by good solid morals, than more respectful decisions would be made on everyone’s behalf.  A little idealistic?  Maybe, but can certainly be done, and done easily.

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

Government Shut Down? Not Completely

At times, you must act on principle and not ask what cost, what are the chances of success.  ~New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce

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Michael Port,  Jen Laflam, Melanie Spring, Ray Hennessey (moderator) at the Entrepreneur Magazine Thought Leaders Live conference in Arlington, VA 10/10/13

It’s no secret our government missed deadlines to come to a compromise regarding the budget and more importantly the National Healthcare Plan, a.k.a. Obamacare.  So what happens when no decisions are reached and gridlock happens?  I guess Congress calls for a shut down.  Did I really care?  Not really, not until I completely understood what that meant.  After all, the last time this happened to a large extent was in 1994 during the Clinton administration.  I believe we are going on the fourteenth day, but who’s counting.

Do I believe in a shut down, kinda.  I mean if the right decision is being overlooked or cannot be made, why rush into something just to do it?  Like Obamacare.  Come on, it is already proving to not be financially secure or stable.  They can’t even get a website to work correctly, and they expect me to have faith in the extremely large and overly complicated plan?  The majority of the people don’t want it and personally, spending any of my money on medical issues and decisions like abortion is completely against my religion and against everything I believe.  So why should I be forced to support such actions?  My theory?

Obama is on this power trip to get something passed in his name for the sake of his own ego, not for what’s best for the people it’s affecting.  I mean, when he passes a loophole in the law exempting the executive branch and our party leaders from using the very thing he is pushing on all the American people, that’s a red flag to me!

Last Wednesday, I happen to be in the area of all the contrasty, Arlington, Virginia.  Yes I was within a stones throw from the Pentagon building.  On a side note, Kyle commented recently on the design of the Pentagon building saying, “They are stupid, they are wasting so much space with the hole in the middle of the building that they could use!”  That’s my practical buddy.  He is not about design, but about function.

Panel-Entrepreneur-Live-Conference-Arlington-Virginia-10-10-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Jen Laflam, Melanie Spring, Ray Hennessey (moderator) at the Entrepreneur Magazine Thought Leaders Live conference in Arlington, VA 10/10/13

I was attending the Entrepreneur Magazine Thought Leaders Live conference.  It was a really great morning of learning from other successful business leaders and networking.  I made some really good contacts and gained a better insight on how to be a better leader and business owner.  On another side note, maybe the entire government should have attended as well.

Much of what was discussed, was already in my practice, but it’s still a good reminder.  Author and speaker Micheal Port was there and gave a very powerful and insightful speech on booking clients.  Not just getting them, but actually booking them.  I love Entrepreneur Magazine and they always bring credible resources and information to the forefront, especially for young start-ups like myself.  But as I sat there, I wondered what these business leaders thought of all this crap in our Nation’s Capital.

Getting down to the Washington D.C. area, especially in the rain, was a little bit of a challenge, nothing that my GPS couldn’t handle.  Although at one point, I missed my exit, not so clearly directed by the GPS and I drove upon a closed road, going toward Arlington Cemetery.  Yep, I was not allowed to cross in.  There were even guards reinforcing this order, no doubt given by the president himself.  So why?  It’s a cemetery, a public place where others have loved ones buried there.  To me that was insane!  I’ve never heard of a public cemetery being closed down, let alone guards stationed there.  Probably paid workers.  (Which I’m happy they have work and are getting paid to do a job!  I do have issues with those that get paid without working.  Big issues!)

So let me get this straight, the government is closed down and most hard working employees are not getting paid, but the government picks and chooses some individuals to get paid, to guard against the public visiting public sights that tax payers invested in over the years?  And let’s not forget, our government officials are still getting paid.  For what?  To argue? To make these horrible decisions?

My mom told me about a story she heard on the news.  I guess this family goes overseas every year to France (don’t quote me on the country) to visit family buried there.  What a great sentiment!  Anyway, who would have thought that a burial sight or monument was shut down too!  They traveled all that way to visit a public place to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers who were ordered to go to war and give their lives defending our freedom, and they couldn’t get in?  This is all becoming very unnerving.  Is there no respect?  I guess, it seems like the American people are not being respected, so I guess how can I expect those making the decisions to give the dead any respect.  Shame!

Michael-Port-Entrepreneur-Live-Conference-Arlington-Virginia-10-10-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Michael Port (Author, Actor, Speaker) at the Entrepreneur Magazine’s Thought Leaders Live conference in Arlington, VA 10/10/13

Basically, the executives, a.k.a. the president and his constituents seem like he and they are just proving a point and flaunting their power with these stupid declarations.  I know, everyone will say it’s the Republicans who shut down the government, yet someone is proving their own point with these shut down choices and difficulties.  Maybe for a personal agenda?  To prove a point like a spoiled child?  Maybe if the president really cares about his bill, take a stand for it!  Show us your passion and dedication to it.  Use Obamacare for your entire family, be treated like any other person, maybe show your concern for those not getting paid because of the shut down and give up your very own pay to them!  Or is he not that dedicated to this country?  To the people?

Why can’t veterans, who have served their country and those who lost family and friends who honorably and graciously served our country, visit the dead?  Why are they banned from entering memorials erected to honor this service?  I understand about not having the public roaming around inside buildings for safety sake and to protect the integrity of the area, but outside in public sites?

Another true story.  A gentlemen took it upon himself, without being told, without pay, to mow our lawns around our National Monuments in the Washington D.C. area.  He didn’t want to be embarrassed by such disgrace.  He was showing true pride and patriotism in our country!  That is the American way!  Get off your butts and do something without expecting anything in return.  Stop with the hand outs!  I believe no one is too good or too high on their pedestal to get their hands dirty.  I do it personally!  And I am proud to be a hard worker!

Then I heard of a bunch of runners running in a “closed” area and each of them getting a hundred dollar fine.  Really?  Come on!  This is just nitpicking and again proving a point.  Spend the money for these officials to capture bad guys, not people who are trying to maintain good heath, so they don’t have to use Obamacare.  Or is this a conspiracy for more government control over our health?  Sounds silly, but is it?

Entrepreneur-Live-Conference-Arlington-Virginia-10-10-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Michael Port, Jen Laflam, Melanie Spring, Ray Hennessey (moderator)  at the Entrepreneur Magazine Thought Leaders Live conference in Arlington,  VA 10/10/13

In a way, it sounds like a way to point fingers and blame others.  After all, the truth is, this wouldn’t happen without a good leader, or if it did, it would find a resolution sooner than later.  Plus why are these government officials still getting paid!?

I was lucky, after the conference, I was able to leave the immediate area and head back to my sister’s pad, where I had a puppy named Avery waiting for me to take her for a walk.  I love taking our dogs Seven and Scooby for a walk, just not on a leash.  I also never have to clean up their waste that exists their rear ends.  No it’s true, I take my boys to the woods where they can run free, up to eye shot from me and do their business by other wild animals’ businesses on the forest floor.  So this was a bit gross and new for me, but I semi-managed.  Nicole called me while on our return trip back to ask if Avery was alright.  Seriously?  I’m walking the dog in the rain, and cleaning up her waste.  She should have asked if I was alright!

Ironic I’m reverting back to talking about crap, and the one who is cleaning up the crap.  Me!  The little person on the totem pole.  The similarities are amazing to how the American people are being treated.

I don’t mind road trips, in fact I love them.  This was a small adventure that opened my eyes. In stead of focusing on my own piece of the world, I saw things without the veil.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope eventually the information I heard and the contacts I made at the conference will help Thrill of the Hunt, but I believe there is no hope for my start-up company if we don’t have a rock solid country to work in.

Recently, I read an article commenting on… To Be Continued!

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

Hurricane Sandy!

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?  ~Matthew 8:23-27

hurricane-sandy alert Aunt Heather PiperWatching tropical storm Sandy, turning into hurricane Sandy has been exciting, especially since Sandy shot up the coastline and made a direct hit for New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington D.C. areas.  Technically speaking it ultimately covered a third of the nation.  In fact, the news reported that they closed down the transit system in New York and the tunnels so no one was allowed in our out, including the stock market.   Now I am not a cynical person and I don’t like to see damage and destruction happen to anyone, but this has been exciting!  Just tracking the storm and watching it as it slowly crept upward and moved toward our area was something to experience.  I don’t ever remember being the red section on the weather channel map before, at least not for a hurricane.  I guess this is our first hurricane since the 1930’s and before that it happened a century earlier.  Over the years we’ve experienced the backlashes and the after effects of such destructive storms, but nothing like this.  Sandy moved up the through the water and made a left hand turn to enter the land over our area.  What an historical event!

Hurricane Sandy World View Aunt Heather Piper Actually, I found out how historic the weather has turned out to be.  Besides being humorously coined Frankenstorm or Superstorm, Sandy is also being called the perfect storm.  What?  Yep!  So now my question is, ‘What makes it a perfect storm?’.  From my understanding the last perfect storm we had was in October of 1991 off of Massachusetts.  It’s the trifecta of bad maxed out storm conditions, basically the combination of the hurricane (high pressure and low pressure), along with the nor’easter coming form the west.  I guess it was puzzling meteorologists because no one has ever seen anything like this.  The winds and rain certainly qualified as a hurricane but no hurricane has ever produced a blizzard before, they are usually warm weather storms.

Speaking of a storm a brewing, Kyle wasn’t feeling very well last night.  He said his tummy was upset and hurting.  He didn’t even turn on the TV as we sat in my living-room, he just asked me to read to him before his piano lessons.  He didn’t even want anything to eat.  I felt so bad for my little man, Kyle really wasn’t himself.  He said he felt sick as soon as he got home from school.  Hopefully it will pass with minimal damage, just like Sandy.  I know Kyle was excited for the two hour delay this morning.  He even flashed me an ornery grin when the comment was made.  Although his class was suppose to have their field trip to the symphony today, maybe it will be rescheduled.

hurricane sandy illustration Aunt Heather PiperDuring, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Casey called and was checking in on the “deer slayer”.  Living in West Virginia near Snowshoe, Casey was getting hit with snow, hard!  I heard they received a couple of feet of fresh, white snow in some places.  After Kyle got off the phone with Casey he said, “When are we getting snow?”  I said, “Hopefully soon!”  Kyle really started thinking and said, “Why are they getting all the snow and we aren’t?”  That’s funny, Kyle wasn’t worried about the hurricane, he wanted to be hit with a blizzard.  Can’t say that I blame him after the lack of snow from last season.

While driving home after Kyle’s lessons the reality of the storm was evident.  Wow!  The wind and the rain were crazy scary!  I’ll admit I didn’t see any trees down but there were electrical lines hanging along the road.  As far as I know, we were only touched by the outermost parts of the hurricane if any at all.  Just seeing the indirect damage Sandy caused really hit home and made me truly appreciate the power of God.  I can’t imagine those poor souls feeling the direct effects of a hurricane.

hurricane-sandy-NC-MA-OH- Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle doesn’t handle bad weather well.  As we were driving he mentioned a few times, “Ok Aunt Heather let’s go a lot slower since there’s so much rain.”  I know an eleven year old is telling me how to drive, but I don’t care.  He was just being concerned and safe.  All I could respond was, “You’re right buddy. We’ll take it easy, we don’t want to drive through a swimming pool sized puddle.”  Through our travels, Kyle started picking my brain for my limited knowledge about hurricanes.  He was asking me about Sandy and where it’s going to hit.  During the day as we were tracking the storm’s whereabouts, it hadn’t hit land yet. Even though the coastline along the Carolina’s showed major damage from the winds, rain and waves.

Kyle grabbed my phone and looked up Fox news for the Breaking News alerts.  He sat there and scrolled down through the stories and gave me little highlights.  At one point he turned to me and said, “It hit land!”  Just to keep Kyle from additional worry, I said in a very blasé tone, “O ya? Wonder how your Aunt Nikki is doing?”  Kyle turned to me and said “Umm she’s good, remember I talked to her earlier.  She sounded good.”  That almost make me take a second glance because in crisis situations Kyle’s the first one reaching out to family, ensuring all is well in his world.  As to not start a panic, I replied, “Ya your probably right.”  Well, I got him home safe and did the same for myself before retiring for the night.

This morning, the status of hurricane Sandy turned back into a tropical storm.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been effected by the hurricane.  God Speed.

hurricane-sandy aunt heather piper

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

SpyRing is Born – Education Unlocked!

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

Kyle-Piper-smile-SpyRing Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle sporting his SpyRing Gear c. 2011

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

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

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

Aunt Heather Piper SpyRing Trade Show CA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ethan & Kyle playing with the SpyRing cards 2011

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

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

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

SpyRing logo w BP Aunt Heather Piper

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

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

Simply Respect – Remembering 9/11

Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.  ~Clint Eastwood

Respect is something earned and should be expected at the sames time.  I’ve always taught Kyle to respect others, that includes their property and how he addresses them.  Not only elders and authority figures, but also other children, pets, nature etc.  However, I have also taught Kyle that respect is a two way street.  Both parties need to walk down that street, it’s not just one sided.  As with everything I expect from Kyle,  I try to set by example.

Kyle really impresses me sometimes.  This weekend we were back at Giant Eagle and Kyle started to help bag the groceries for the cashier.  When our cashier would hand Kyle a bag of groceries to add to our cart (I Don’t Like to Push a Shopping Cart!), Kyle would look at the young man and say, “Thank you!”  He said it with such confidence and almost second nature that it really made me open my eyes. Is this my little man?  You know what?  It is!  He uses his manners, especially ‘Excuse Me’, when he passes someone or a group of people, ‘Yes Please’ when responding to a question, and naturally the ‘Thank You’.  I’m not saying Kyle’s perfect, I do have to reinforce these with him periodically, but for the most part, he is a good little man!

In remembrance of September 11th, I wanted to share a cute little story about the tomb of the unknown soldier.  For years now, since my sister moved into the D.C. Metro area, we have been going back and worth to Washington D.C. to visit her and to visit our nation’s capital.  I know I’ve mentioned with every trip to Washington D.C., we manage to discover something new to explore, not taking in all the sights at once.  On one of our trips, we toured Arlington Cemetery and witnessed the changing of the guards.  Kyle was around four or five, so he was just a little tyke.  Before we went to the tomb of the unknown soldier, we told Kyle that he needs to be quite and respectful.  I remember thinking, ‘If Kyle was disturbing the crowd, then I would take him out of the area and we would go for a walk’.  I also thought, ‘He would be so grounded for acting up in such an honorable place’.  As a family, we discussed Kyle going to the ceremony and we believed it was an experience that he should be apart of, he just needed to be taught the correct way to behave.  You know what?  Kyle was an absolute perfect angel during the entire demonstration.  He stood and watched the guards attentively.  He was such a respectful little man, who made us all proud!

In honor of those how have survived, the families of the fallen and those who have perished during the tragedies of 9/11, may peace be with you.  And to our soldiers who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom over the years, THANK YOU!  You have my utmost respect and prayers.  God Speed!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Aunt Heather Piper

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

Cooking with Kyle – Aunt Nikki’s Hors d’oeuvres

“If you knew how to cook, maybe I would eat,” Jace muttered.  Isabelle froze, her spoon poised dangerously. “What did you say?”  Jace edged toward the fridge. “I said I’m going to look for a snack to eat.”  That’s what I thought you said.” Isabelle turned her attention to the soup.”  ~Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d bring out another one of my lost archive videos that Kyle and I made.  A Cooking with Kyle episode.  It’s a fun little snack that I hope everyone has the chance to make, or modify to personal taste.

Every year since Kyle was about five or six, he would go and spend a week in the summer with my sister.  It has now been dubbed “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun.”  It’s their chance to hang out with one another, just the two of them.  Kyle loves his Aunt Nikki very much and looks forward to going every year.  Usually Nicole surprises him with a different adventure.  She has taken him to downtown Washington, DC, which has been visited many many many times by the entire family over the years since there is so much to see and do.  One of our favorite destinations!  They have gone to National Aquarium in Maryland.  One year Nicole tried to plan for Kyle to swim with the dolphins, but that didn’t work out.  They go to the movies, they go shopping, swimming, you name it.  Not to mention my sister allows him to play his video games day and night, which is not permitted any other time.  But when he’s on vacation, he’s on vacation!

Last year was the big trip, New York City.  Nicole arranged for them to take a bus from the DC Metro Area to New York City for the week.  The trip was actually a surprise, until Kyle read the ticket and found out his final destination.  They did all the touristy stuff, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Central Park.  Nicole took him to Serendipity and other key places to eat.  Even though it was New York and Kyle never was in that city, there was another reason to visit the Big Apple, yep Lego’s!  Ever since Kyle saw the Lego’s store in the background while watching Dick Clark’s Rock’in Eve on TV one New Year’s Eve, he has been obsessed with the idea of a huge store dedicated to Lego’s.  That year we were looking for my sister on TV.  She was in New York City ringing in the New Year with her friends.  That’s when Kyle spotted the Lego store.  I will elaborate on the “Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s week of fun” another time.  Let’s get back to the subject at hand. Aunt Nikki’s Hors d’oeuvres.

It was during one of these ‘weeks of fun’ that Kyle and Nicole were grocery shopping and Kyle spotted the sample lady.  From my understanding, Kyle loved the snacks and had my sister buy all the ingredients to make them later.  After he came home, would you believe he told us all about his new favorite snack?  He had me get the ingredients because he wanted to show me how to make them.  Ever since then, he tells everyone about his healthy snack.

I hope you like them as much as Kyle does!

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

Forks or Bust! – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 1

Good luck tended to avoid me.  ~Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 1, p.11

Please be warned, this blog entry contains a lot of references to the Twilight books and movies.  If you are not fan you might get lost in Forks.

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Nicole & me at Beth's Cafe on our way to tour the Boeing Plant

My flight leaving Pittsburgh was slightly late and so was my changing flight leaving Denver, but by the time I made it to Seattle I was only about 10 minutes behind.  The best part was when I was making my way to the baggage pick-up, I saw my bright red suitcase drop onto the carousel.  That never happens!  I was on time and ready to start my vacation except I was short one sister.

This trip was mostly contingent on Nicole and not me for once.  You see she had a direct flight from Dulles to Seattle, which never happens to me, and they had mechanical trouble.  I guess the plane went to take off and Nicole said she heard a loud ‘thud’ noise before they made an emergency landing.  Then they made the passengers sit on the plane and wait to tell them they couldn’t fix the issue and proceeded to board them onto another plane.  Later they realized, before taking off thank God, that it had a fuel leak.  I couldn’t believe my sister’s luck!  I did know about the delays when I was in Pittsburgh and Denver, so as I was in flight, I was hoping she was too.

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Beth's Cafe as seen on Man vs. Food -Seattle 3/17/12

As I stood in Seattle’s airport, waiting for my vampire hunter companion to join me, I decided to get our rental car and get checked in at our sleeping quarters.  I texted Nicole, telling her to call me when she landed, hoping she was in the air and on her way.  Now I wasn’t prepared to take control of the itinerary, since my sister loves that job, but I did.  Got the rental? Check!  Got the room? Check!  Made myself comfy in my raccoon pant pj’s in front of the TV? Check!  Fell asleep while watching Man vs. Food Seattle? Check!  Didn’t hear my sister’s text messages at 2:00 am Seattle time (5:00 am PA time)? Check!  Was awoken by her call asking where I was? Check!

Finally my sister made it!  We where both in Seattle and ready to begin the last leg of the trip.  The next morning we made our way to the Boeing plant for a tour.  For breakfast, I wanted to stop at a restaurant called Beth’s Cafe.  I saw it on Man vs. Food the night before.  They are known for their omelets, and ironically it was on our way to the Boeing plant.  We had one of the best breakfast’s ever!  Their specialty was this Amish bread, which was incredible!  It was a fun place that gave you paper and crayons to draw pictures.  All self professed artists hung their artwork on the walls, scattered throughout the tiny restaurant.  Naturally, I had to make a picture of me and Nicole for Kyle.  Nicole hung it up somewhere before departing.  This place was a tiny little dive in a really cute neighborhood.  As we drove in and out of the area I instantly fell in love with it.  That place is on the list of ‘must go backs’.

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Nicole in front of Beth's Cafe.. best omelet! Try the Amish bread!! 5/17/12

Getting to the Boeing plant wasn’t too far and was on a nice stretch of highway overlooking what was going to be a perfect day.  Entering onto the Boeing property was awe inspiring.  Just to see the planes parked, and the sheer size of the buildings!  Too cool!  Our tour lasted nearly two hours and we covered quite a bit of distance, between riding and walking around.  Being in the Boeing plant was much like looking across the Grand Canyon.  You really don’t comprehend the size of the space and it’s hard to get a perspective, until you find a tiny person way down on the floor and make a direct comparison.  On a side note, that tour was amazing!  I highly recommend it to anyone making their way to Seattle.  Now some fun facts I learned on the tour:

  • The plant employs around 35,000 people
  • They have three shifts
  • The only employees who can park around the perimeter of the building, must have worked there for at least 20 years.
  • The plant has 11 cafeterias
  • Boeing supplies 2,000 bicycles for the employees to use and get around
  • The color pigment used to paint the planes weights more than the white color paint
  • On the side of the Boeing building resides the world’s largest digital print graphic, making it’s way to the Guinness Book of World Records
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Me & Nicole at the Boeing Plant in Seattle, WA 5/17/12

After our tour and taking in all the displays and information, we decided to head out and set our GPS for Forks.  It was going to take us about four hours.  It was such a pretty day and we were totally stoked that the ride was no big deal.

What I didn’t realize, was that we needed to cross on a ferryboat.  Another first for both of us!  I imagined we looked like such tourists, when I try to drive up on the ferry without a ticket.  I still have no idea how the guy new I needed a ticket, but he did and he directed us down the road.  It was neat sitting in the loading zone, engines turned off.  Of course, we were getting out and taking pictures, just like tourists.  I will admit I was Four Squaring, Twittering, and Facebooking throughout the trip.  I’m guessing we had a few eyes roll our way from the locals, but that doesn’t bother me.  Once the ferry arrived all engines began to turn on.  That was my cue, showtime!  Cautiously, I drove our rental car onto the ferryboat for a 20 minute ride.  Not being able to control my thoughts, I said, “How would I explain it to the insurance agency that I drove my car into the water?”  Nicole, quickly laughed and said, “Yes Aunt Heather that would not be good.”

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Boeing Plant - Seattle Washington 5/17/12

As the car was parked, Nicole and I jumped out to walk around and to go up on the deck to take in the sights.  It was chilly no doubt, but worth the experience.  We could even see the city of Seattle peaking over the coastline.  Projecting a little humor, I even played my Titanic part at the front of the boat.  It was all fun until the seagulls started to fly around us.  Nicole said, “That would be funny if they pooped on you!”  Well, first I’d like to say, that would not have been funny and secondly if it would happen to anyone, it was going to be me.  I kept trying to throw up my hands and arms around to scare them away, but they just continued circling above our heads.  Needless to say, I abandon my post admitting defeat.

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Me on the ferryboat...heading to Forks. Titanic pose 5/17/12

Soon we made our way back to the parked car in the front of the line on our side.  Again, my thoughts started to pour out of my mouth by saying, “This would be my luck, the boat goes to dock, hits the side of the boat hard and shoves all the cars directly into ours.  I would have to tell the insurance agency that I wasn’t even in the car during the time of the accident  The car wasn’t even on.”  We both laughed reluctantly because if something this unexpected and off the wall was going to happen, again it was with me.  Nicole just chuckled and said, “Yes Aunt Heather.”  I could tell she couldn’t even handle a situation like that at the moment, especially with the rest of our trip clearly ahead of us.  Riding the ferryboat was a really neat experience.  Now, if I had to do it everyday for work, maybe not so much, but for a first timer.  Yep, totally worth it!

During our journey towards Forks we had to pass through Port Angeles.  Stopping the car to look around and stretched our legs, we hit up a couple of stores.  I found this pretty purple dress in a second hand store for only $5!  That made my day even better!  We scoped out the Italian restaurant, made famous by Twilight, that Nicole wanted to eventually sit down for dinner sometime on our trip.  It was starting to get late, even though it was still very light outside, when we continued another 57 miles toward our final destination of Forks.

It was a beautiful ride the entire way.  The same consistent weather all day, a little cold but sunny and perfect blue skies.  Driving along a cliff/rain forest and a sea of water was a bit intimidating but very majestic.  All along the way at specific times, we saw waterfalls between the trees.  Of course this sparked more intense thoughts like, ‘Wonder what they do with a heavy snowfall?’ ‘Wonder if there’s another way in and out of this area?’ ‘Wonder what happens if the roads are icy?’  We were just thankful to have never found out the answers to any of those questions making it to Forks by 8:00 pm Thursday night.

My first impression of Forks?  Deserted dive town!  It is a depressed city located in the middle of nowhere!  There really wasn’t any glamor to it.  One red light, one grocery store, and every place we saw seemed to be a dive.  I’ll tell you more about Forks later.  But first let’s discuss our living quarters.  As the GPS guided us in, I didn’t know how to react.  It was more than a dump, it was a scene for a murder story.  I looked at Nicole and she just laughed saying, “Let’s just take a look at it, it might not be that bad.”  Yikes!  Really?  You are still that positive?  We had a great day and all our luck was soon to come to an end.

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Front of our motel in Forks, WA...can you say Bates Motel? 5/17/12

As we pulled up to our door, I said, “Nicole I think I saw an episode just like this on Criminal Minds!  We are literally staying at the Bates Motel!”  She laughed and encouraged me again.  Our room was on the end and I noticed there was a sort of make shift room attached to the side.  I didn’t care, I saw that episode of Criminal Minds where someone was watching this couple from a secret door in the wall.  I went on telling Nicole and going into detail as I went to inspect the cubbyhole.  While Nicole did not object, and normally she w0uld have, she didn’t join me either.  She was just as curious, but was satisfied that I looked around.  Seemed safe enough.

As we opened the door, I did notice the carpet looked new.  I was semi at ease until I walked into the bathroom.  Part of the shower was separated from the wall and I just got the chills.  The only thing that didn’t have me packing was the new, very clean toilet.  I turned to Nicole and she started to laugh and I said, “Ok I guess this is just like camping.”  Both laughing she said, “Ya, just like camping.  Plus there really wasn’t many options for hotels around here.”  I said, “Ok but help put me at ease so I don’t catch some sort of fungus in the shower and let’s go to the store for bleach.”  Nicole laughed and agreed.  Once we saw the stark white towels hanging and clean white sheets under the old bedspread, we both agreed and headed back out the door for munchies and bleach.

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Side view of our 'motel'...with or without the flowers it was equally as creepy... 5/17/12

We chose, what looked like a dinner to eat along the main strip.  The waiter there was very nice and so was the rest of the people.  At this point, I really wanted a big salad.  I love a good crunch, veggie filled salad, in fact I crave them.  I was in luck, they had a salad bar!  Upon closer inspection of the feast laid out before us, I noticed all the lettuce on my plate was slimy and brown.  Even Nicole commented.  I slid all that lettuce back off and took inventory of the selection.  Minimal at best.  We started to laugh, because it was kind of funny.  Our waiter was very nice and accommodating, the kitchen even made me a large plate of grilled vegetables, which were done just like mom does.  At this point, we noticed the Twilight theme has crept into every crevice of this town.  It was pretty neat and exciting, especially in the grocery store.

Once we got back, I realized we have been riding in a car for hours, and the day before I was on the plane all day.  My legs were tight and sore.  They needed to be stretched out, so I decided to strap on my Brooks and head out for a run.  Nicole, alarmed said, “Where are you going? How long are you going to be gone?”  I agreed to just go to the edge of town, a straight shot and back again.  I figured I’d get in about three miles.  In the meantime, I made Nicole spray down that bathroom with bleach so when I got back I could take a safe shower.

During my run, I noticed it was a bit colder than earlier in the day and my legs where really tight.  I headed straight for the other side of town till I got to the edge and noticed I didn’t even hit a mile!  Really?  The town isn’t even a mile long?  My Run Keeper said I was at 7/10 of a mile.  So I weaved in and out of the side streets trying to gain a little more mileage, which was pointless because I already lost my focus and my legs were still stiff.  Whatever, it was getting late anyway.  I decided to head back to another adventure…the shower.

To Be Continued…

Pre-flight – Twilight Pilgrimage Prequal

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