Getting A Handle On the Teenage Years

I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.  ~J.D. Salinger

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Uncle George, Gram & (not sure) 1980s

Evey time I catch myself huffing and puffing over Kyle’s behavior, or worse his attitude, everyone tells me he’s a typical teenager.  I guess so, but does that mean I have to tolerate it?  Perhaps I expect too much from him, maybe more than I should.  I just want Kyle to be a respectful, hardworking (non-lazy) young man who’s moral compass points North.  I’m not asking a lot.  (I’m quietly laughing to myself.)

Monday was a bit of a rough day with the focus being Gram’s funeral.  It’s true, Kyle didn’t fight me on his attire.  He wore dress slacks, nice brown shoes and his navy woven top with clusters of anchors.  The very same outfit he sported on his cruise.  He looked nice and appropriate, and he didn’t argue when it was time to get ready.  He was off to a good start.

However, during the visitation, Kyle sat in a corner and wouldn’t get up to acknowledged the visitors and accept condolences.  Okay, maybe that was asking way too much from a thirteen year old, soon to be fourteen.  Personally, I found it rude, especially when others made it a point to talk to Kyle and include him in the conversation.  Kyle’s response?  He did smile occasionally but barely look up from his seat.  I addressed that immediately.  “Get your butt up when someone is talking to you and shake his or her hand.”  I guess that’s also a maturity thing, as well as learned behavior.  Everything considered, Kyle was pretty good.

On a side note, there was no casket, which I didn’t understand.  I asked Kyle to walk around and find Gram because “The guest of honor has to be here somewhere.” as I so plainly stated.  Kyle snickered at first, and then gave me a horrifying look.  Feeling a bit awkward with my request, Kyle tried to ignore me and continued starring at the floor while sitting in his seat, playing his video game periodically.  Letting Kyle off the hook for my unusual request, I went seeking the answer myself.   What I didn’t know, was Gram chose to be cremated and then buried by my Pap.  A bit of information that would have gone a long way with me before walking into the funeral home.  That took me completely off guard, and the fact that we weren’t going to the cemetery, which is very unlike Piper funerals, really threw me for a loop.

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Dad & Uncle Sonny building Gram & Pap’s house on the ridge. c. 1953

Then, while at the brunch after the funeral services, Kyle sat on his iPhone and played video games.  At one point he left the American Legion, which is where we met in Latrobe, to sit on the Legion’s front steps to either text, play video games or whatever he was doing on his iPhone.  I was so embarrassed.  Seriously?  Good friend’s of the family, and relatives wanted to talk to Kyle and try and get to know this mystery man they never get to see.  Kyle was quiet and almost distant.  What was his problem?  Again, I knew it was a rough day of funeral services, but still.

On Saturday, two days before the funeral, I stopped down to mom and dad’s house.  I pulled in the driveway to find my dad, who is in his sixties, outside in the dead of the heat, splitting and stacking wood, by himself.  Upon entering the house, I found my sister and nephew playing a board game sitting in the air-conditioning.  I think it was great Kyle was off his video games and spending time with my sister, but come on, help an old man out!  Naturally, my sister yelled at me and very tactfully stated they were playing a game and I was to “Shut Up!” as my sister so respectfully demands.  Now that doesn’t help Kyle’s attitude or his unwillingness to do actual work and get off his phone.  I was floored.  That’s no way to teach a young man to respect his family, very poor example, but moving on.

This past Tuesday, Kyle actually agreed to help me and dad build the chicken run.  Really?  He did!  He was almost enthused about it.  That is until we started working.

We needed an area for the chickens to run around outside, while being safely enclosed, so critters don’t have an opportunity to eat chicken for dinner.  Sure, it wasn’t easy digging holes to set the posts, hammering boards together for the door, and tacking the chicken wire fence in place, etc.  It was a beautiful day, but very sunny and HOT.  We worked from 9:30 am till about 7:00 pm.

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Gram, Aunt Kaye, her husband John, Uncle George, his wife Rhea. 1990s

I’ll give Kyle kudos, he was trying, but I could also tell he’s out of shape and was having a tough time.  Then, the attitude made its appearance.  What’s better is when dad or myself calls Kyle out on it.  Kyle will actually challenge us with a stare down and blatantly deny his attitude and insists, “What?  What did I do?  I didn’t do anything!” (And repeat that over and over again even after we told him what he did)  When we all know, including Kyle about his attitude.  He wasn’t terrible on Tuesday, but that snotty behavior is working my nerves big time.  He treats me like I’m his parent, which is funny because I’ve always played that role with him.  Maybe I should take it as a compliment.

About midway during the day, when we were about halfway done with the project, we decided to stop and refuel before continuing.  While eating lunch, I heard the shower running.  What?

Me:  “Kyle, why do I hear the shower?”
Kyle:  “Because I’m going to take a shower and go home.”
Me:  “What?  No you’re not.  You purposely work as slowly as you could this morning, to stretch out the work, and you think you’re going to abandon us?  Without saying a word?  Then, you think I’m going to stop what I’m doing to take you to your mom’s house?  Seriously?”
Kyle:  crickets…
Me:  “No, you said you’d help.  You need to finish what you started.”
Kyle:  Huffs as he walks away and turns off the shower.

He did help us, and as soon as we gave him an easy project, tacking the wire fence to the door, Kyle’s mood changed.  I could tell he was proud of the work he put into the chicken run and felt a sense of accomplishment.  Granted, Kyle didn’t stick around to help clean up, but I did ask him to pick up two quarts jars and a pint jar (used for drinking water) laying in the grass.  What did Kyle grab?  One quart jar and one pint jar.  Did I let him get away with that?  Nope!  This kid needs to be held accountable for his behavior and learn to follow direction, even for something as simple as collecting the jars.  Again, I addressed this with Kyle and he headed back up to the yard to retrieve the other jar, while rolling his eyes slightly and pouting along the way.

Please note, it’s not like we ask Kyle to do much.  In fact, he does very little around the house.  We’re always offering to take him fishing, and we build fires and make mountain pies and s’mores.  Supposedly, we’re going fishing this weekend, I hope Kyle doesn’t blow us off again.  It really upsets my dad, and after loosing his mother last week, dad needs a good day of fishing without an attitude.

On another side note, the quote above cracked me up, thinking about the Catcher In the Rye!  I loved that book!

Below is a screen shot from Gram’s obituary.

Grams Obituary Aunt Heather Piper

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Farming & Planting,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Video Games & Games and have No Comments

Signs of Growing Up

One day at a time—this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. ~ Ida Scott Taylor

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Uncle Sonny & dad bathing at gram & paps. 3/1958

With each day, time passes, that’s inevitable.  Even though I am aware of this part of life, it still takes me by surprise when a lot of hours, days, months and even years add up to create a single moment.  I’m not talking about something as significant as a graduation or an anniversary.  Nope, I’m talking about the silent surprises that appear out of nowhere that have a huge impact.

What pray-tell am I talking about?  Kyle’s jeans!  Yes that very common piece of clothing worn by men, women and children all over the world, or at least that’s my assumption.  Jeans, that rugged leg covering that can be dressed up or down.

This past weekend Kyle and I were helping dad stack and split firewood, getting ready for winter.  Naturally, Kyle didn’t come prepared with pants of any kind, only shorts.  Pants, that piece of clothing usually doesn’t make its appearance until snow flies, even then Kyle will argue about wearing pants as opposed to shorts.  Anyway, since we were running the log splitter and dad was using the chainsaw and there have been sightings of copperhead snakes around, dad wanted Kyle’s legs to be protected with jeans.  Good thinking!  Well, not according to Kyle, but that’s a separate issue.

Of course the house is always stocked up with items for Kyle, since he’s always lived with us part-time.  But recently, he’s grown out of his weekend staples.  Upon getting ready, I really wasn’t paying much attention until Kyle came out wearing a pair of nice jeans.  I mean that.  They fit him around the waist and even the length wasn’t too long.  “Kyle where did you get those jeans?” I asked only because they looked familiar.  With a big smirk Kyle replied, “I don’t know.”, knowing very well he took an extra pair of my jeans I had at mom and dad’s.  Then, it hit, “Those are MY jeans!”  Kyle shrugged his shoulders as if he was too cool for the conversation, yet couldn’t quite suppress that ornery grin.

Personally, I could care less Kyle wears my cloths and he knows it.  Seriously.   Unless he started wearing my skirts and dresses, I might not be too comfortable with that, but no matter what, I love Kyle with all my heart.  Still, Kyle wearing my jeans, that fit him pretty good, took me by surprise.

When did that happen?  I mean Kyle’s been wearing my t-shirts for years, claiming they fit him.  I never cared because they’re just t-shirts and can be worn baggy, but my jeans?  Really?  Kyle and I have had the same size shoes for a year or two now.  His foot is now starting to grow again, but for some reason that never hit me hard, probably because I’ve always had small feet, so it was never a big deal.  But jeans?  That’s a whole other topic.

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Kyle running around as a bee at Uncle Sonny’s. He was a little over 2 years old. 10/2003

I remember the days when Kyle would flop around in my shoes and would be silly just for the heck of it.  Now Kyle can’t get his chubby foot in my shoes and is becoming too cool for such goofiness.

There was a time when Kyle and I would draw mustaches on post-it notes and stick them to our upper lip.  Then, we would walk around like bow legged cowboys holstering pistols.  Yes, it’s true!  It was hilarious.  Kyle would exaggerate his steps toward me with his hands in position over imaginary handguns on either side of his hips.  Keep in mind Kyle, as with myself, was sporting a yellow post-it note on our faces with a drawn mustache.  It was too funny!  I used to die!  Later on, to help Kyle with his scissor skills, we would cut the paper into fringes and the shape of a mustache, only using a pen to accent the lines.  Now-a-days, Kyle has a real, subtle mind you, mustache.  My dad calls it the caterpillar.

When Kyle is acting up or in trouble, dad will say, “Don’t make the caterpillar mad” or “Look at the caterpillar quiver!”  Even Kyle can’t keep a straight face for that one!

It wasn’t that long ago, I guess about ten years or so when Kyle was two, maybe three and he yelled for me to come into the bathroom where he was showering.  First of all, that doesn’t happen anymore.  Kyle does not run around naked like he used to, which I am thankful for.  Secondly, he doesn’t need me to be right by his side as he showers.  He used to love the company while showering.  Although, I will admit, we had a lot of great conversations during this time.  I guess because he had my undivided attention, Kyle’s favorite kind.  Nope.  Those days are long gone.  But one time in particular, when Kyle yelled for me to come and see something, I was totally taken off guard.  Thinking it was a bug or something trivial, I pulled back the shower curtain in a very blasé manner, almost annoyed, to be faced with Kyle’s armpit.  What?  Yes, he had his arm stretched to the ceiling exposing the under skin.

I had no idea what I was suppose to be looking at.  He just pushed the armpit closer to my eyes, which my eyesight has always been and still is stellar.
Me:  “What Kyle?”
Kyle:  “Loot, Aiya”
Me:  “Loot at what Narrow?”
Kyle:  “Loot, I have a hair!”

I died!  He thought he saw a hair under his arm and he swears it was attached.  I was almost in tears laughing so hard.  He had no idea what was so funny, which made the situation even more comical.  Trying to regain my composure to get the kid to finish his shower and get out, I wiped the area with my hand to show him there was no hair.

Me:  “Kyle I don’t see anything.”
Kyle:  “Ya, ha, it was there Aiya.”
Me:  Trying to let him down nicely, but never lying to the kid, “Honey, maybe it was one of my hairs that attached to your armpit?”
Kyle:  “No Aiya, it was attached.  Maybe I washed it off?”
Me:  “Maybe, but you don’t have armpit hair yet.”
Kyle:  “Ya I do!”
Me:  “No, look honey, nope, no hair and I have perfect vision.”
Kyle:  “Ahh”

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Pappy walking Kyle (bee) into Uncle Sonny’s kitchen, Uncle Sonny in the background. Whiskey (RIP) in the foreground. 10/2003

At that moment, I was taught by Kyle not to take anything for granted and never get annoyed with the young man’s requests, even as silly as they might be, they could be a story to tell later on and laugh about.

Presently, Kyle does have a few sprigs of hair growing under his armpit region.  He is becoming quite the man.  Soon he will surpass me in height and weight.  Although, like I’ve always told Kyle, I will ALWAYS be able to take him down!  Our little man is growing up and I’m very proud of him!  He’s still as much today as he was as a two year old.  I hope he always remains silly.

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

Hard Work in Strawberry Fields

If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.  ~Conan O’Brien

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Kyle’s not smiling because of all the delicious fresh sweet strawberries we get to eat. Nope! He’s happy he’s done picking! Pollock’s Strawberry Farm Bush Valley 6/28/14

Saturday morning, we got up early to head out to Pollock’s family farm in Brush Valley to pick, none other than fresh strawberries!  It was about a half an hour to forty-five minute journey to our sun ripened destination.

Why?  Well, besides having seriously fresh strawberries, it was a unique activity for Kyle to partake in.  Not many kids ever get to see strawberry fields, let alone sit among the rows of sweet goodness to pick them ripe off of the vine.  It was a good experience.

At first it was fun and exciting.  We got up there early to avoid sitting in the hot sun, which none of us are fans.  Then, the merriment really began when we got our baskets and were led to a strawberry row, followed by instructions.  What kind of instructions?  We were to start at the top of the row, work our way down and pick half of the row on either side.  When finished, no matter if the entire line was harvested or not, we were to move our flag to the completion of our efforts.  Pretty easy.  Kyle looked on with anticipation, at least at first.

Kyle was sandwiched between mom and me.  Naturally, he was in the row beside me, while Mike was on my other side, surrounding me by those I knew.  Even better!

I’m guessing about five small strawberry plants down, Kyle informs me that I needed to pick his entire row because he was focusing on one.  The one him and his Gigi shared.  Ok buddy, whatever works for you.  This I was expecting to be honest.  No worries, I still picked half of my row by Mike and the entire row closest to Kyle.  Sitting on my knees, I scooted down with every pass getting into a rhythm.

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Mom & Kyle picking fresh strawberries at Pollock’s Strawberry Farm. Mom gave up early…I made Kyle help me. 6/28/14

Before long, my basket was full and I had Kyle run to get me another so I could finish my section.  By then, mom had long since ditched us.  Her knees were bothering her and I’m sure the direct sun overhead didn’t help my sun sensitive mother either.

By the time I was on my second basket, Kyle was simply going through the motions, not really working.  In fact, I watched him as he picked a berry or two, waited for me to push my basket down the row, then followed suit.  He was keeping up with me, just not the way I expected him to.  I can’t really tell you how many times I heard, “Aunt Heather, it’s really hot out here.” or “Aunt Heather, I’m sweating.  I don’t like to sweat.”  Anyone who knows me, knows I too am not a fan of direct sunlight, nor heat and humidity, which all accompanied us on our trip.  I shared my logic with Kyle and that was ‘The faster we work, the quicker we’ll be done and leave.’  Kyle still didn’t hold that goal near and dear to his heart, he was just plain done.

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The beginning of fresh strawberry snacks… Pollock’s Strawberry Farm, Bush Valley, Pa. 6/28/14

Soon I told Kyle, once he filled up his basket, he was done.  I even started to throw some of the red berries I picked into his basket to help him out.  What did Kyle do?  Well, he certainly didn’t step it up.  O NO!  He started to look into my basket and criticize the berries I picked, mentioning if they weren’t fully ripe or too small etc.  Yep, it took everything I had not to loose it on this pre-teen who should be able to match my energy and work efforts second for second.  At the very least strawberry pound for strawberry pound.

Once we were done, we weighed our strawberries, paid and left.  As we were standing at the car talking, down in the lower field was a coyote running at full speed.  Then, it got me thinking, I wondered how the farmers were able to keep rabbits, deer and such out of the strawberry fields?  I didn’t see any fence or natural obstruction.  I never did ask, but now I’m even more curious than ever.

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We took a detour after picking strawberries to stop at Riddle’s Bait Shop. Stocking up for fishing on Sunday on the Loyalhanna Lake. 6/28/14

We did manage to take a detour to the local bait shop before going home, to pick up some bait for a Sunday fishing expedition on Loyalhanna Lake.  It’s never a full weekend without the fishing poles making their appearance.

On a side note, while fishing on Sunday, dad snapped his fishing pole.  He purchased it with his own hard earned money at nine years old.  It was heartbreaking to see this fifty-five year old pole in pieces.  It held a lot of memories and experience.

After we came home and settled in to our cozy air-conditioned environment, mom brought up a good point.  She mentioned to Kyle how some people earn their living by doing the very same thing we did for forty-five minutes, all day long at least five to six times a week, for months at a time.  They don’t pick for the luxury of fresh strawberries, but for minimum wage, to simply provide for their families.  That’s hard work.  Those are the people who appreciate their efforts the most.

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Pollock’s Strawberry Farm in Brush Valley, Pa. Picking our own fresh sweet goodness! 6/28/14

I don’t believe anyone really knows what others go through unless the path is walked for them.  I knew Kyle didn’t quite get the point, but then again there was a small part of me that knew he did.  It’s not only good to have an appreciation for where your food source comes from, but also how it’s awarded.  Buying groceries in the store certainly looses the origin and the hard effort it takes to deliver food to the table.  Yes, it’s nice, but every once in a while, getting back to our roots is the way to maintain a sense of reality and appreciation for God’s land and people.  At least that’s what I hope Kyle gained from this experience.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Farming & Planting,Hiking & Outdoors,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Go Fly a Kite

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

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Kyle with a goat at the auction in Maryland. 2014

Last Saturday dad asked for assistance in getting the garden ready to plant.  What needed done?  He wanted to add sand to loosen the soil, peat moss and yes manure.  Cow manure to be exact.  Our garden isn’t exactly a small rinky dinky plot of land and yet it’s not an acre large area either.  It’s a relatively nice size roughly twenty-five feet by fifty feet garden.

Naturally, we expected Kyle to help gather the material required for good soil and spread the ingredients on the ground before my cousin Jim plowed it to mix it all together.

Was my almost thirteen year old excited to participate?  Nope!  Was my little man helpful?  Kind of!  Does Kyle need the exercise and the work ethic?  You bet!

Lately, Kyle has been a bit “lippy” with us and sporting an attitude.  Yes, I am well aware he is nearly in his teenage years, but it’s still not right.  Especially for Kyle to give his pappy such a hard time.  He does so much for that kid, going above and beyond.  Come on, it’s not like we were asking him to run a marathon.  We just wanted a little bit of good old fashion hard work and nice family time together.  Win win in my opinion.

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Great fall day on the ridge. Uncle Walter’s field to the right. 2013

After the feet dragging and moaning to get dressed and out the door, we started to have a nice time running around to the different lawn care stores, picking up things here and there.  Dad has a one ton dump truck we road around in, squeezed in the front seat.  It was never a dull moment and I thought we might just have a nice time finishing up our tasks.  I was wrong.

On a side note, while getting the sand at the Kingston Supply Company, dad spotted this little forklift for sale.  It reminded me of Guido and Luigi from the movie Cars.  “I’d like to have that!” dad blurts out.  Kyle and me bust out laughing picturing dad driving that little forklift around for no reason.

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Kyle asked me to stop so he could get a picture of the sun shining through the trees. I took the opportunity to snap a picture of him getting a picture. 2012

Once we got back to the house and started to unload everything, Kyle started his whining and complaining.  Just like he does before our hikes.  You have to fight with him and push him in a direction before he comes around.  Personally, I hate arguing with the kid, but insisting he gets some exercise by doing real work and spending quality time with the family and learning how to farm are all good enough reasons to push back when he starts his crap.  That’s how much I truly care for Kyle, I’m willing to get a headache for his own good.

What did he do?  The usual.  He didn’t want to walk the few yards to the garden.  He didn’t want to help shovel the sand.  He didn’t want to help spread the peat moss.  Then, when he did help with the peat moss, he spread the material in the most inefficient and slowest moving method known to man.  That’s Kyle’s way of being difficult.  He knows very well it drives me crazy and ticks me off.  Yet, I tried to hold my cool, well after I had to yell a number of times for him to do something.  It just isn’t right, here is my nephew who is three months shy from turning thirteen, having my dad who is in his sixties do most of the work and the heavy lifting.  Not to mention me, who is also out performing the kid.  Not right!  He needs to step it up.  His dad, Ryan was not like that at all!  He was a really hard worker, from at least the age of nine, he was working in the sawmill.  I guess that’s another story.

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Perfect fall day at mom & dad’s. 2013

On another side note, that Sunday we stopped out to a friend of dad’s.  He owns a farm.  The perfect place to load up the truck with fresh wet ripe cow manure for the garden.  We got into talking to Dwayne and offered Kyle’s services for any work needed on the farm, free of charge of course.  Dad and I both agree Kyle needs to learn to work, or he’ll never appreciate anything.  Dwayne couldn’t have agreed more.

Believe it or not, once we worked Kyle a little, just enough to get his blood pumping, his attitude changed.  Then he even surprised me.  Once finished, we both headed back down to the house.  Kyle actually grabbed his kite mom got him for Easter and began to put it together to take outside.  What?  He didn’t just jump on his computer and play games or flop himself down on the couch in front of the television?  Nope!  It was a beautiful sunny day and Kyle must have felt good and wanted to fly his kite.

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Seven & Scooby running free in the field… enjoying the fall day. 2013

On the third side note, when Kyle was a little tyke of about three or four, I took him out in my parent’s front yard to fly a kite he received for Easter.  Always carrying on the family traditions!  At the time, we had Jake’s (Ryan’s beagle) wire run strung up across the yard.  The kite slipped out of my hands and was captured by the wire run to loosely remain there with the wind whipping around it.  Quickly, I grabbed a chair to give me some height so I could retrieve our entertainment.  Kyle was so stressed out, he ran in the house, woke up my dad who was napping, to blurt out, “Pappy, quick!  It’s Aiya.  Quick pappy she needs help!”  Poor dad probably thought something happened to me.  Just then pap surfaced on the front porch to see me reaching for the kite.  Kyle was below my feet, trying to push me up.  It was so stinking cute!  He was trying to lift me up by my ankles.  Dad and I got a kick out of him!

For this past Easter, Mom got Kyle two kites.  So I joined him in the kite flying fun.  We all stayed outside in the perfect sunny mild temperature day and watched the multicolored birds (that’s what the pictures were on the plastic kites) sore through the air.  We were out for hours.  In fact, I had to go inside before getting a sunburn and Kyle continued guiding his kite to the sky.  That is until it landed in a tree and broke free from Kyle’s string.  Who cares.  The kid was having a blast being outside and enjoying nature and spending time with the family without distractions and the toxins of electronics clouding his brain.  His muscles were moving and I’m guessing releasing endorphins.

He was so mild tempered when he eventually came inside, he was the good kid I knew he could be.  In fact, Kyle reached for his Guardians of Ga’Hoole books and began reading!  It’s true, he loves to read, but he actually gave up playing Minecraft to read on a Saturday afternoon with me saying a word.  I was so happy for him!

So when in doubt.  Go fly a kite!  It will make your day.

 

 

 

 

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

It’s Called Hard Work for a Reason

It isn’t ever delicate to live.  ~Kay Ryan

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Kyle crashed… 6/9/12

Two weekends ago, well actually that entire week, I was working in my yard.  Yes, the very same yard work I should have done in the spring, or even the summer and yet here I am, trying to get it done before winter sets in and hunting season starts.  Luckily, we’ve had a pretty mild fall.  We’ve even been blessed with nice temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s and overcast with some sun.  Perfect for outside work.

I’m glad I got my work done because as of today,  the snow rolled in.  Only a few inches but still a pleasant sight.  I love snow!

You see spring always seems to sneak up on me and then I miss the boat with respect to tending to the lawn.  Then summer rolls around and I don’t handle the heat and the sun too well.  Literally!  Being outside in the sun makes me sick to my stomach.  I get really bad headaches and let’s not forget about my sun sensitive skin.  I have to be pretty well covered and protected from the harmful rays at all hours of the day, especially in the summer.  And those summer months, I am usually busy with Thrill of the Hunt events.  So there you have it, back to fall work in the yard.

What needed done?  The usual, mowing and weeding and trimming, which I have elected to do about once a month now-a-days.  I’m sure my neighbors love that sight.  Actually, they should be thankful, for I make their lawns look perfect!

Last Thursday night, early Friday morning we had one heck of a windstorm roll through.  It resulted in a tree branch taking down a power-line, right down the road from my parents.  Guess what?  I couldn’t work on my company stuff nor my freelancing work, since my “office” is in the corner of their kitchen with my desktop and my external drives.  Don’t worry, I always have something to do.  No free day for me!

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This was the beginning of my backyard steps… 2011

On a side note, I purposely set up my “office” in my parents house, as opposed to my house, to get me out, dressed and moving.  I want to make sure I never get lazy, especially with The Piper Corporation.  So I force myself to travel to my work station.  It’s perfect actually, I have a great view of my Uncle’s farm and a view of Saint Vincent College out looking through the picture window in the kitchen.  The best office space ever!  Plus my office companions aren’t too bad either, Scooby, Seven and Storm.

I recruited Kyle to assist me on Saturday at my house, since my parents were still without electricity.  I took this as a sign from God, telling me to get in the yard and finish it up.  After all I couldn’t work on the computer.

Starting my day as soon as the sun rises, around 6:00 am, Kyle and I went to work.  Yes it was not light duty chores.  It was hauling mulch and river rock, pulling weeds and walking up and down my back steps around my landscaping.  Truly hard work even for a professional landscaper.  So how did Kyle fare?

Well, at first it was a big argument.  He didn’t want to do the mulch and was seriously exaggerating his motions in such a way, I made him carry the river rocks while I took over the mulch job.  I knew I could get it done faster, making better progress than Kyle.  Then, I caught him trying to do the job half way, cutting corners that sort of thing.  I was livid!  There are few things I really truly can’t stand and detest, beside smoking, and that’s laziness.  I just can’t understand making that choice to wimp out, especially on something that is benefiting oneself such as my house.

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My backyard while we were just getting started… before the steps. c. 2009

After about an hour of me loosing my patience, yelling and Kyle dropping his attitude and getting acclimated to the job of the day, he really began to work.  And I mean he worked!  That kid was on fire!  Really after, we got moving and he started to get into a rhythm and saw progress, he was such a hard little worker.  He was even proud of himself saying, “Wow Aunt Heather I think I’m getting stronger with each rock!  Soon I’ll be even better in the weight room!”  What a cutie!  I had to concur with his reasoning, because he was right.  The more work he did, the stronger he was getting.

You see, for the next few weeks Kyle is in the weight room at school for gym class.  They are teaching him how to lift and such.  He seems to really like it.  Kyle even asked me, “Hey Aunt Heather, how much can you do on the leg press?”  Truly not remembering I said, “Probably around 100 pounds or so.  Why how much can you do?”  With a victorious and ornery grin, Kyle responded proudly with “I can leg press 240 pounds!”  Wow!  Holy smokes buddy!  That’s great!  I really was proud of him.  He is a strong little compact bugger!  He said only one other kid did more than him and he did 260 pounds.  Still all very impressive.

With the weight room talk, it gave Kyle another incentive to keep on truck’in.  He was great!  All the way up until it started to rain on us.  I was almost done with the mulch, when I turned around to see my little man with his hoodie up, soaking wet carrying buckets of river rock and looking defeated.  We had to leave soon anyway.  Kyle was serving mass at 6:00 pm that night.  After seeing the look on his face, I said, “Go jump in the shower, we’re done for today.”  Shear joy fell over him.  Not to mention a sense of accomplishment.  Kyle did remark, “Wow Aunt Heather it’s actually looking nice.  We got a lot done!”  Yes we did buddy, especially with all his hard work.

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My backyard while in the progress of landscaping… ton of brush! c. 2009

As it turns out Kyle wasn’t done working, not by a long shot.  You see he had off of school on Monday for an in-service day.  So I took advantage of that fact and asked him to assist me again to try and finish the work once and for all.  Surprisingly, he was enthused to help me wrap up the yard.  That morning, we first helped my dad by stacking some wood before making our way to my dreaded lawn.

On another side note, sometime on Saturday I must have weeded out poison ivy and proceeded to scratch my face and my eye.  Yes my eye!  By Sunday, my face was all swollen, itchy and my eye looked like a big marshmallow.  Not believing in doing actual work on Sundays, I try to honor the Sabbath Day as much as possible, I took a few Benadryl pills and fell into a sleep coma.  By Monday, my eye was even worse and we had to make a pit stop at Med Express to get me on steroids again.  I really hate those things!

Yes, I worked like that with basically one eye since I could only see out of it with a sliver.  I figured, I would rather get in contact with the poison ivy again, now that I was on medication, rather than later when I was healed and had to go through this again.  Plus, I wanted to stay away from people with all my ugliness.  I even avoided the gym in the mornings.  But lucky for Kyle, I had no qualms about hanging around him.  I would even tease my little man by leaning in with my bulging eye and saying, “Go ahead and touch it.  Feel how squishy it is!”  He was grossed out and would squirm around me.  Eventually, we made a joke out of it saying “Don’t make me give you the stink eye.”  And then I would point my eye in his direction.  That cracked us both up! If you can’t laugh at yourself, then what’s the point in living.

While we were talking and working Kyle mentioned again about getting an apartment and buying land to build his house and huge fish tank on.  I said, “O buddy between me and your Aunt Nikki, we will probably have enough rental properties for you to live in so you don’t have to worry about it.”  Kyle took that as a sign that he will take my house.  It’s yours buddy, you earned it through sweat equity!

While wrapping up some of the work on Monday afternoon, Kyle started to comment about hard work and how hard our activity was.  Then, he started to get a bit sarcastic and threw out the attitude again.  He said, “This is suppose to be my day off from school and I’m not suppose to be doing work.”  Really?  Says who.  I retorted with, “What do you think most people do Kyle?  They work all week and do yard work in the evenings and weekends.  Welcome to reality.”  He had nothing to say on that note.

I get it, he was tired and not used to working that hard for that many days in a row.  I completely understood.  But I still won’t tolerate an attitude.

After that came the fury of Aunt Heather.  I asked Kyle to dump a couple of buckets of dirt up by my back fence in a mulch pile of leaves and branches.  Not wanting to walk up the hill, we both kind of laughed at the thought of making another trip there.  Finally, Kyle did what I asked and made the first trip, promising I’ll make the second.

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No this was not in my yard! Me & the boys saw this while on one of our walks… I LOVE IT!!

When I made my trip, to help him out and show he is not doing all the hard work, I noticed he dumped the dirt right in the yard, not even coming close to the pile!  Fiery anger shot out of me and resulted in a lecture on laziness.  I wanted him to understand that he has to train himself now, NOT to be lazy and to NOT take shortcuts, for it will always bite him in the butt in the long run, especially in a professional environment.  I went off explaining how I trusted him to do a job and I expected it to be done right and not to have to redo it.  Then, I went into a tangent about how he doesn’t want the reputation of being a lazy kid.  And so on and so forth.

When teaching a child to NOT be lazy, you’re actually teaching them more than hard work, you’re teaching a sense of worth and self-accomplishment, good foundation structures that I fully believe in to create a solid character.

Okay, granted I was tired too and it was a long few days, plus with all the poison ivy irritating my skin, I’m sure my nerves where just a little bit sensitive.  He felt horrible and kicked it up a notch until he was out of steam.  Seriously, I haven’t seen a kid his age work that hard in forever!  I was really proud of him, and maybe I was a little too hard on my man.  But I wanted to make a point, that it’s not just about my yard.  I am training his character, the man he will hopefully grow to be.  The one I hope him to be, minus any laziness.  And you know what?  I believe he will get there.  It was only at that moment, he was being a kid and a tired human.

Thanks buddy for all your hard work!  You earned every muscle you worked out and you earned both movies and popcorn.

This past weekend I took Kyle to see Thor 2: The Dark World and I believe the second movie of his choice is The Hunger Games – Catching Fire.  I even told him he earned popcorn, which he gave me a victorious smile.  I love paying this kid in movies.  It makes for a well deserved date night.

I never thought to get finished pictures of the yard, so once the snow disappears I will take pictures and do a comparison.

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

Lego Obsessive or Driven

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

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Kyle & mom at Gutchess working 6/2/12

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

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

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

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Kyle counting his money for the new iPod Touch 64 GB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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