Archive for the 'Snowboarding' Category

From February Till Now, A Summary of Kyle

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.  ~J.D. Salinger

Planinsek Fishing Derby Kyle & a hug Aunt Heather Piper 5-13-17

I love my little man, who is now as tall as me! Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I released a blog post.  The end of January.  Yikes!  I’ve thought about it, then got sidetracked or ran out of time.  Where have I been?  Bombarded with work, that’s where.  Marketing has kept me a pretty busy lady.  But the bigger question is, what’s Kyle been up to?

Let me give a monthly recap.


I really don’t remember what went on in February.  At least nothing so monumental that it warrants a call out.  We didn’t have much of a winter.  When snow did fall, I asked Kyle to go snowboarding, but my invitation was quickly declined.  He had other plans.  (Probably nothing)  He stated that he still likes snowboarding but wasn’t interested when asked.

Originally, I wanted to take Kyle and a few of his friends to Seven Springs.  However, the way the snow landed, or lack there of, I wasn’t given much notice to plan a trip to the slopes.  Personally, I want to see if Kyle remembers how to snowboard.  I also want him to feel comfortable again on the mountain without fear of him hurting himself.  I guess there’s always next year.  Maybe I’ll plan a trip out west. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden any real mountains and Kyle’s never had the chance.  Making a mental note.


First Day of Fishing Kingston Kyle 4-16-17 Aunt Heather Piper

First Day of FISHING! Kingston 4/16/2017

Again, another month without the steady presence of Kyle.  I do miss my little man.  This is in such contrast to when Kyle was a youngster.  He was around all the time.  I could count on him to answer my calls, my text messages and even Facetime me, talk and hang out.  He never passed up an opportunity to do something fun together.  Actually, it didn’t need to be fun, he was game to do anything as long as I was there doing it with him. (Yes that included cleaning)

It just goes to show, appreciate what you have when you have it.  I guess fifteen is the rejection age.  Although, this has been going on for about a year and a half since he was thirteen – fourteen.  Now I want to know when will it end and I get my buddy back?  Of course, I wouldn’t want to hang around a family that yells and argues all the time either.  I know he gets enough of that at home.


Kyle Derek Logan Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle, Derek & Logan watching the other band performances. Lookin’ good guys! 5/2/2017

Holidays are always a great excuse to see friends and family.  Kyle can’t escape hanging with his aunt for Easter.

A Saturday in either March or April
I got a call that Kyle wanted picked up.  Great!  Did I mind it was last minute and I had to change my plans to accommodate him?  Never.  I was excited to see my guy.

As recent history dictated, Kyle was quite on the ride.  When I asked him questions, he either shrugged his shoulders or gave his typical answers, “Good”, “No”, “Fine” or “I don’t know.”  Good talk buddy!

As we were driving to my parents house to visit, I got a great idea.  Knowing Kyle would be turning sixteen in July, I thought I’d surprise him with a little driving lesson.  For a change, we weren’t in a hurry and it was a lovely day.  Why not?

I pulled into the cemetery near my parent’s without informing Kyle of my plan.  I put the car in park and got out and walked around to the passenger side.  Kyle began to freak out like he was in trouble.  I definitely sported a snicker.  I opened the passenger door to find Kyle getting defensive and not willing to leave his seat.  I told him my plans and his response?  “But I’m not sixteen yet, I’m not allowed to drive.”  Kyle was always like that, never willing to break the rules, no matter.  My reply?  “Do you think you should wake up on your sixteenth birthday and be allowed to get behind the wheel on the highway without a little practice?  Besides, I’ve already had you driving since you were little.”

Kyle at Fishing Derby 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle waiting for the big one at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

Believe it or not, Kyle argued with me.  What kid does that?  Most teens would be all too excited to take the wheel, especially with me, who’s not going to freak out if he hits something.  I did mention, “This is where I learned to drive, of course I drove a stick on the hill.  But it’s a good place, no one’s around and everyone’s already dead.”  He gave me an uneasy look.  “The most I’ll have to do is owe someone a new headstone, so try and stick to the road.”  I was graced with a smirk for my candor.

After a little attitude, I got Kyle to drive.  I enforced using his turn signal (good habit) and showed him other basic car features.

He was pretty steady, although, Kyle did give me a fright when he approached a turn, that if not addressed properly would have resulted in us flying down over an embankment.  He was going to make the left turn but he was moving a bit too fast (not that he reached 10 miles an hour, but it was still too fast for the situation, especially a first time driver).  I grabbed the oh S#@$ handles and used my imaginary break.  My actions received me a full blown smile from my young driver.  Let it be known I never yelled.

Kyle by fire at Fishing Derby 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle playing games by the fire at the Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

As we began our decent down the grade, after he made the bend without launching us over the side of a cliff (large gully), it resulted in another sharp left turn.  This one I wasn’t so worried about.  The most Kyle could do was run into the grass.  As we approached the turn, it went something like this:

Me:  Better go slower.
Kyle:  I got it.
Me:  Left turn signal and you better slow down.  Cut your wheel sharp at the bottom.
Kyle:  (He used his turn signal) I know.
Me:  Kyle, you’re going to run off the road if you don’t go even slower and tighten your turn.
Kyle:  I’m good.
Me:  We’re going off the road.
Kyle ran off the road mid turn into the grass.  No damage but I did give him a look of listen next time.
Kyle: Oh, I guess we’re off the road.
Me:  Umm (I wasn’t mad in the slightest, infact I started to laugh at his funny expression)
Kyle chuckled and did as I instructed to give a little gas as to not dig up the grass.  He got back on the road and continued.

We ended up doing a couple loops around the cemetery.  The second, he clearly showed more confidence and skill.  He did a great job.  I even had him pull onto the road and drive into my parents driveway.  More to come regarding Kyle driving.

Friday, April 15, 2017 – Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fishing Derby Prizes 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle hanging out with cousins at the Planinsek Fishing Derby, waiting for the prizes. 5/13/2017

Easter weekend.  We actually got Kyle on Friday, which was a nice surprise.  Me, Dad and Kyle caught up on our Fast & Furious movies, watching the marathon on television.  True to Kyle, he turned out all the lights to create the optimum movie watching environment.  It was a nice relaxing evening.  My sister came in late Friday night with Acorn.  The house was alive with activity.

On Saturday, we got up early for the first day of fishing.  Me, Dad and Kyle went to Kingston to fish our limit in trout.  We caught a few rainbows but mostly brook trout.  I was stuck cleaning a majority of the fish.  Kyle did lend a delicate hand, but he’s still not a fan of guts and blood and reluctantly assisted.  Dad sat there and critiqued my fish gutting abilities.  Although, I’ll give Dad credit, he did scale the rainbow.

Fishing was a blast, I saw Kyle smile and enjoy himself on a number of occasions.  He even put his phone away to focus.

Planinsek Fishing Derby Kyle Fishing 5-13-17 Aunt Heather Piper

My fisherman! My job was to catch the fish & bait the hook. Planinsek Fishing Derby 5/13/2017

Funny story.  Dad caught this HUGE trout, I mean BIG.  I’m surprised it didn’t break his pole.  We added the fish to our cooler of ice along with the other catches.

Kyle happened to be standing by the cooler when all of a sudden the monster sized fish, that was on ice for at least fifteen minutes, tried to make its escape.  The fish jumped out of the cooler.  (Yes the lid was closed and it still was able to project itself out) Kyle jumped.  He thought I threw something at the cooler, I was startled, thinking Kyle knocked the cooler over.  Dad focused on his fishing and only gave us a curious glance.  When Kyle looked down to see the behemoth fish flopping around, the truth dawned on us.  We looked at each other in shock and began laughing.  Kyle’s hands were full, I believe he was reeling in another trout, so I scooped up the slimy vertebrate and placed it back in the cooler.  It was a great fishing day!  (Secret: I’m still the worst fisherman in the family.  Dad remains at number one and Kyle is a close second.  I’m by far last, even after Nicole.)

Later, after we cleaned up and ate, Nicole, me and Kyle went to the movies to continue where we left off the night before with The Fate of the Furious, the most recent movie.

Earlier, I cornered Nicole to suggest we leave early and head to the cemetery for a little more practice in a different vehicle.  I said, “Just pull into the cemetery and don’t say anthing.”  Nicole giggled and was excited to join in on this milestone.

Once Nicole put the car in park, Kyle smiled knowing what she had in mind.  Without insidence Kyle changed seats with his Aunt.  I was in the backseat like Driving Miss Daisy.  In fact, Kyle seemed exctied to be practicing.  He did better than before and Nicole’s SUV is a lot bigger than mine.  Great practice.

We had a good time at the movies.  Hearing Kyle laugh out loud totally cracked me up.  His humor lights up my world even in the middle of a dark movie theater.  Those moments are most precious to me.  He has a great laugh.  It reminds me of his Dad’s.  Even the way he rolls his eyes, or grins, I see Ryan.

Kyle Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle at his spring concert sporting a tuxedo! Handsome guy. 5/2/2017

Would you believe Kyle ordered his usual, the Miss Piggy sandwich?  It’s nice to see some things never change.  He is definitely a creature of habit.  Now I have to get him out of the habit of ignoring us and we’re all set.

Once Sunday rolled around we went to church and came home to grub up.  Kyle stayed for most of the day before asking to leave.  I took him home.

While heading out to the driveway, I ran past him and darted for the passenger side.  Kyle stood there stunned.  He said, “I can’t drive all the way home.”  Oh, goodness no.  I told him I wasn’t suicidal.  I wanted him to practice backing out of the driveway.  If he can master mom and dad’s driveway and then my Uncle Walter’s, he was good to go in reverse.

While backing out, he snaked the straight path slightly, but overall did a great job.  On the one side of the driveway is the front yard, no big deal.  However, on the other side, it slopes down into my Uncle’s field.  To reassure Kyle in case of a lapse in reverse judgement, I said, “Don’t worry, if you go down over the bank, you won’t be the first, Pappy did it with the Honda once.”  That cracked me up and Kyle seemed relieved.  He tried to use the turnaround at the bottom of the driveway, but I wouldn’t let him.  I wanted him to get a feel for looking both ways, pulling out onto the road and not running into the ditch.  He drove us partially off the ridge back to the cemetery where we changed roles.

On our ride home I busted out laughing.  Curious, he asked, what?  I said, “You back up better than your Aunt Nikki.”  He found humor in that very true statement.  My sister backs out of the driveway live she’s trying to purposly miss the road, and she’s been practicing since before she was sixteen.  I guess she’s pretty consistent too.

Another true to form, Kyle fell asleep in the car.  He did that as a young tyke and is taking up the habit again.  I don’t mind.  I’m still hanging out with him, even if he is unconscience.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kyle smiling at band concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle trying not to smile Spring Band Concert. Great job buddy! 5/2/2017

About mid-day, I get a call from mom telling me Kyle called and he had a band concert that evening at school, which is over an hour away.  A little inconvenient, but I was excited he called to inform us, knowing I’d be upset if I missed it.

I shut down work early, canceled my evening plans and got ready.

Kyle was first tuba chair!  What a pleasant surprise.  AND he was wearing a tuxedo!  He looked so handsome, I just wanted to squeeze him and never let go.  (That would have been when hell froze over, the day Kyle would let me do that, especially in front of all his friends and their parents.)

I enjoyed the evening of music and special honors for the seniors.  I came home with a permanent smile on my face.  Seeing Kyle simply made me happy.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

First Day of Fishing Kyle & Dad Aunt Heather Piper 4-16-17

Kingston fishing for the first day, Dad & Kyle leading the way. 4/16/2017

Mother’s Day, which also marks the weekend of the Annual Planinsek Fishing Derby.  The kids are permitted to fish from sixteen years and younger.  Kyle has one more year.

He didn’t want to stop up for the bonfire on Friday night but requested we be there for 7:00 am breakfast.  I believe we made it by 7:30 am since Kyle had a hard time getting up.  He is certainly going through a growth spirt and he needs to learn to go to bed earlier.

He had a nice time fishing and playing dodge ball with the kids.  I enjoyed socializing and relaxing.

At the end, they fill picnic tables of toys and stuff for the kids.  I wasn’t sure if Kyle wanted me to purchase him tickets or not, so I did.  The first couple of times Kyle’s name was called, he took a variety of items, then he began to give away his turns to his cousins, Grant, Olivia, Piper, Owen, Lilia, Hailie, Mattox, Caleia and Kelsey.  That was nice seeing Kyle think of them.  Not only that, he also walked each child up to the table to help them pick out a prize.  Kyle’s a good kid.

Another funny story.  Kyle insisted he wasn’t going to be cold, even though it was chilly in the morning and the ridge is always colder.  Just in case, I packed an extra hoodie, socks and a change of cloths for Kyle.  Next thing I know, I saw Kyle zipping up the extra hoodie, that is until the sun peaked around noon.  When it comes to dressing and preparing for the weather, he never listens.

Monday, May 29, 2017
Memorial’s Day.  I was asked to chaperon the parade in Vandergrift for Kiski Marching Band.  Looking forward to seeing Kyle, everyone was asking me where he was.  I honestly had no idea.  I texted him and surprisingly he anwered me back.  He was sick.  I felt bad and offered to bring him ice-cream.  He declined.  I missed him terrribly.


June 25, 2017 – June 29, 2017

Kyle Playing in Band Concert 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle playing the tuba at his spring band concert. Lead chair! 5/2/2017

This was Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun trip.  Where to?  Iceland.  Kyle seemed pretty excited, or at least as excited as he gets.  Nicole said they had a great time but it was cold.

Another funny story.  Kyle is notorious for not being prepared for the weather, specifically the cold, as mentioned above.  Before he left I asked him, “Are you good with packing?  Did you need me to get you anything?  Did you pack a pair of jeans and hoodie?”  Kyle’s entire response, “I’m good.”  Of course you are…

Nicole said when they got there it was around 40 degrees and the wind made it colder.  She said it was at that moment Kyle, who was obviously shivering (although he would never admit to it) informed her that he didn’t bring pants, only shorts.  Are you kidding me buddy?  You were going to ICELAND.  I’m guessing the irony had no effect on him. Nicole took our frozen package shopping and spent a lot of money to keep him comfortable.  I guess we’ll forever have a funny story.

When they got back, Nicole told us about the unplanned shopping trip.  I looked at Kyle half joking and said, “You suck at packing and being prepared.”  Kyle shrugged his shoulders.  He didn’t care.  I suppose I’m okay with him not sweating the small stuff and I guess shopping for jeans was minor.

Over the course of the weekend, Nicole and Kyle shared stories about their adventures.  I’ve always been happy to see Kyle explore the world and enjoy life.  He definitely has the Piper travel bug.  A good quality to have.


Spring Concert Band Booklet 5-2-2017 Aunt Heather PiperNow my rough timeline brings me up to last week.  Kyle, my Mr. Traveler, was at Northwestern University.  Yes, the college on the other side of Chicago.  Why was he there when he’s going to be junior in high school?  He’s smart.

Proudly, Kyle was informed that he was selected to represent Kiski at the National Student Leadership Council.  Way to go buddy!  Because of his interest in engineering, they outlined a select number of schools with that focus to include: Northwestern, UCLA, California at Berkley, Harvard Medical (biotechnology), Yale, Georgia Tech, Rice, American, Georgetown.

Kyle chose Northwestern.  Why?  I have no idea.  The last I heard he was thinking about Georgetown.  I would have chosen Yale or Harvard.  Why not?

Kyle got to spend a week on campus touring the facilities and studying his chosen specialty.  At the end he was to recieve a certificate of achievement and a letter of recommendation.  How cool is that?

I tried calling him to see how it went.  Nothing.  Crickets.  I hope he had a wonderful time.  What a great experience.

Well, those are some of the highlights for the first half of the year.  I also did some traveling to Salt Lake City, but only for work, nothing too exciting.  This week begins Kyle’s week long celebration for his birthday.  I hope I get to spend some good quality time with him. He’s a good egg and I love him to pieces.

Spring Concert Band Cover Booket 5-2-17 Aunt Heather Piper






















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

Another Chapter to Face … Growing Up, Him Not Me!

Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.  ~Molière


Me & Kyle at Idlewild Park for the Gutchess Picnic.  He always loved horses! c. 2002

“You knew this day was coming.”  My mom gravely reminds me.  What day is that?  The day I am no longer the coolest person to hang out with, the day Kyle doesn’t really want to plan his activities with me, the day when I find myself replaced.  Yes that day has happened, at least it’s on the verge.  My own person Apocalypse.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, not in the slightest.  I’m more than thrilled Kyle has friends and he’s learned to build a relationship with someone other than me, his Gigi, pappy and Aunt Nikki.  Good sign Kyle is on his way to being a normal teenager.  We hope!

The issue doesn’t reside with Kyle but with me.  I personally need to adjust to this new standard and new way of being.  Kyle has always been by my side, for everything.  It’s pretty commonplace to find us together, no matter what we were doing, the movies, roller skating, snowboarding, cooking, grocery shopping, Christmas shopping…. you get the point.  Even going to picnics and parties at my friends’ houses, Kyle was always invited and he would tag along, mostly for the food or the idea of playing with other kids.


Me & Kyle screwing around at bedtime, taking selfies & texting them to Aunt Nikki. c. 2009

Why this sudden reminiscing about the good old days?  Because they are slowly slipping away and becoming a thing of the past.  Kyle is not wanting to hang out with his Aunt Heather as much.  Who am I kidding, soon it will turn into, ‘Not At All!’

The other day I mentioned to Kyle, “Buddy we still need to hit the slopes, before winter is over.”  His response, “Umm we’ll see.”  What is he the adult regulating my activities?  I added, “Why don’t you see if Duncan skis or snowboards and I’ll take you both up to the slopes.”  His comment, “Ok!  I’ll ask him, that would be fun!”  Yep!  I thought that was going to be his response.


Me & Kyle at the Planinsek’s Pavilion, playing on the swings. c. 2002

It wasn’t just the snowboarding, although that’s always been our thing together, but it was the movies too!  Same story, I’d ask him if he wanted to go to the movies and the same blasé response, until I mentioned he should ask his friend to go, then it turns into a big deal and it’s exciting.  Again, I will reiterate, I am ecstatic that Kyle has friends and he has fun with them, but come on, throw the aunt a bone.

I knew this was going to happen, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing.  I should have seen it from that single moment when I dropped Kyle off at school and he wouldn’t let me walk him to his classroom in first grade.  That was the beginning of the this uncontrollable, unpredictable avalanche.  Yep, even as recent as this past June in the sixth grade, not even a year ago, he wouldn’t dance with me for his Folk Festival at school.  Denied!  No Dance For You!

Yes, I remember it wasn’t that long ago when Kyle was at daycare, one of his favorite places to hang might I add, and even though he had friends, when I walked in the door he was excited to see me!  He would come home and tell me all about his friend Luke.  He would say, “Aiya, my sviend (friend) Lutty (Luke).”  I remember when he first started talking about his friend Luke.  It was Luke this and Luke that.  Ironically, I did get to meet Luke and his parents and get to know his mom over the years.  I still talk to Sue Lander, the mom on Facebook from time to time.

Unfortunately, Luke was a grade younger than Kyle, so I’m sure they see each other, but aren’t glued at the hip like they once were.  Plus Luke is a lot like his mom, into running, not Kyle’s cup of tea.  He prefers his video games.  Different interests build distances between old friendships, I guess it happens.

His newest gang?  That would be Mr. Duncan, Kyle’s Very Own Big Bang Theory.  I’m happy he has friends he enjoys, and Duncan seems to enjoy hanging out with Kyle.


Kyle at the Latrobe Roller Rink, roller skating. Look how flushed he is, working hard, skating like his dad! c. 2009

Kyle and I still have our interests, reading books and discussing them, church, sled riding and cooking.  All good activities to do together.  My favorite is our exchange of books.  Yes we swop books that we read and enjoyed (age appropriate).  We discuss the characters and the storyline and we use these new worlds for our own person inside jokes and funnies.  Example, this past weekend, yesterday morning as a matter of fact, Kyle and I took the dogs for a hike up through the woods, not Kyle’s suggestion might I add.  When we were walking back, Kyle was trying to uproot smaller trees.   Why?  No clue, but who cares, he’s a boy and he was having fun.  I said, “You better watch it, you might upset Treebeard!”  We both laughed at that one, for only someone who read the Lord of the Rings books would understand, I’m not just talking about watching the movies.

Yep, me and Kyle are two of a kind.  I only hope and pray we will always remain this tight.  He is my little man and I am his Aiya.

Here are some old videos of Kyle roller skating, he really worked hard at it.  Enjoy!

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

Warmth of Winter

Tell me a story of deep delight.  ~Robert Penn Warren


Seven making his way through the snow on a hike. c. 2012

Being a Pennsylvanian gal, I do appreciate all weather and I love cycling through the four seasons.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine skipping a winter, summer, fall or spring.  It’s true I do have my favorites, winter and fall being the top two but again, I love all seasons.

I also like all weather.  Whether it be rainy days or brisk chilly evenings, just like the seasons, there’s always something to do in any weather condition.  Even a snow storm?

You bet!  The snow may have continuously fell all weekend, and it wasn’t what I would call a snow storm, but it was nice and cozy.  In anticipation of the horrible road conditions, Nicole came home on Friday night to visit.  We were all going to go out to eat for my dad’s birthday, belated.  The only place we ended up going was to church, for not wanting to chance it on the snow covered roads.


One place we sled ride, my cousin’s field. This is the view. 2014

Was I upset or disappointed?  Nope!  Not in the slightest.  There’s nothing like warming up in front of the fireplace when the snow is falling outside, drinking hot chocolate, and getting cozy with the family and dogs alike.  Sure I would have also enjoyed being on the slopes getting a few miles on my snowboard, but I wouldn’t change a thing all weekend.

A few board games made the list of activities, Kyle and I played a mean game of Battleship and Nicole and Kyle played Kyle’s beloved Summoner Wars.  (Not really my cup of tea, but I’m sure one day I’ll have to learn to play.)  We watched movies, took naps and Kyle played his video games for probably too long, but we all did our own thing, and loved it.  I even took the time to work on some freelance work and write.  Did we take advantage of the snow?

You bet we did!  We even went sled riding at night!  I haven’t done that since I was a kid.  For some reason shooting down over the hill in the darkness, with only my parents spotlights on the side of the house to light our way is exciting.  Nicole even joined us and rode down the hill a few times.  That made Kyle’s night!   He really wanted to sled ride with his Aunt Nikki and he got his wish.  Me on the other hand, Kyle knows I love playing in the snow so it wasn’t a big deal but expected.


Scooby checking out the snow on a hike … wonder what he spots? c. 2012

We let gravity drag us through all the powered to the bottom of the hill and then we fought that same gravity to walk back up.  We did this so many times I lost track, at least I did.  The dogs got their exercise too.  For they chased me down the hill and ran back to the top to start again or find another poor soul to chase.  My sister’s dog Avery (a.k.a. Acorn) had a headlight on her collar that Nicole turned on.  For some reason that really cracked us up.  We played outside until the cold soaked us through and we agreed it was time to warm up.

Nicole and Avery left mid-day Sunday so they could take their time, in case the roads were still bad.  All-in-all it was a nice relaxing, lazy-day weekend.  I don’t care what anyone says, there’s nothing like being warm and toasty in the cold of winter.  Getting out and playing in the fun that winter brings is nice too!

posted by auntheather in Church,Education & Learning,Family,Hiking & Outdoors,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Pets,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Gamers Start Small & Grow

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Need a Coat, It’s Not Cold

Give the children love, more love and still more love – and the common sense will come by itself.  ~Astrid Lindgren


Kyle in his sled, about 2 years old. c. 2003

Sometimes I wonder if the common sense is present in any kid today?

Now that the temperatures have plummeted into the negative degrees, I keep thinking of Kyle and his aversion to winter coats and long sleeves.  Yes even long sleeve T-shirts!  Seriously, it drives me crazy when he whines, “Why do I need a coat?  I’m not cold, I’m hot.”  Come on back to reality, buddy.  Even when the temperatures reach the teens, we all know that statement could not possibly be true!  But he’ll swear to it and put up a fight like his life depended on it.

Getting Kyle to wear a coat has been an onward struggle for years.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time he wore a coat, except for hunting season.  What really worries me, is Kyle’s not the only child acting like this.  There are other children who argue about the same thing.  So you mean to tell me,  this new generation has some super human heat source radiating from the core of their bodies?  They are the walking sun?  Because that’s what they act like.


My bundled up little man! Miss those days when I knew he was completely cover & seemingly warm. Christmas Story?  c.2003

Kyle informed me yesterday when I talked to him that school was already canceled.  First of all, I don’t completely agree with that.  What do the children who experience these frigid temperatures as a norm do?  They don’t stop their life.  Granted, those kids are used to the cold and that’s a big difference.  Regardless, when he told me about the cancellation, I was kind of upset yet glad.  I instantly had a vision of Kyle, exposed, out in the cold, waiting for the bus with his hoodie on, no hat, no gloves, no scarf getting frost bite.  Not a pretty picture!

Not that I want this to happen, not in the slightest, but it would be something for Kyle to experience the results of his poor choices.  Now don’t get me wrong, I would do everything in my power to ensure that child is always kept physically, mentally and spiritually sound, but I sure do wish I could prove my point without it permanently damaging him.

As I discuss this phenomenon with my parents, I came to a pretty sound conclusion for this behavior.  Now I’m going to sound like an old timer, so bear with me for a moment and indulge me if you will.  Kids today have never really experienced winter.  I mean the brutal cold, the feet of snow, the constant snow storms and ice storms, the results of being stranded and snowed in.  I’m talking about true survival instincts taking over.  At least not in my part of the world, these kids I’m referring to.  Nope, this generation of kids arrived when winters started to become milder, and not as sever.  Plus, road crews seem to be more frequent, as opposed to the days when they would just shut down roads and wait till the weather passed before attempting to clear the way.  That’s one point, and another point would include coddling.


Me & Kyle sled riding in my cousin’s field. Yes I wear my snowboarding goggles .. I don’t like the sun or wind in my eyes. 1/4/14

To no fault of their own, kids now-a-days are well taken care of, at least in some ways, in others there’s a big gap.  I guess that’s an entirely different conversation so I’ll just stick to the cold issue.  Kids don’t walk to school (I did from first grade to sixth grade, almost a mile one way), kids don’t even walk to the bus stop anymore.  Nope, either the buses go out of there way to add stops or the parents drive them.  Again, to catch the bus in high school, we had to walk about seven tenths of a mile, one way.  (Kyle knows this route, for I have made him walk it with me to stretch our legs)  Then, instead of standing and waiting for the bus, the kids sit in the warm car.  This generation, generally speaking, goes from a warm house, into a heated garage, into a warmed up car with heated seats, into a heated bus and into a heated school building, to only repeat the process in reverse.  No wonder they think they’re hot!

They don’t know what it’s really like to have to bundle up or freeze to death.  The little bit of cold they experience is quickly removed from a contained heat wave within shelter.  They don’t get that things could happen, like a freak snow storm leaving one stranded alongside a roadway, power outage, lasting for more than a few hours or any combination of these instances.  Mom always did teach us to be prepared and I guess I’m trying to teach Kyle the same.


Close-up of our view as we sled ride in my cousin’s field. Perfect day! 1/4/14

I remember when I first started driving, mom always had us pack a blanket among other provisions in the car, just in case.  For the longest time, I would keep a pair of winter boots, they usually were my snowboarding boots but regardless, in the car JUST IN CASE.  If I ever got stranded with Kyle now, what would I do?  Granted, everyone has cell phones and there always seem to be road crews out and about, but things could happen very quickly.

How can I get this through Kyle’s head?  Wear at least a winter jacket and hat!  The kid continues to get ear infections, one would think it would be second nature to wear a hat.  After all, we’ve engrained it in him since he was little, but I guess if it’s not reinforced by all parties, then it will not become habit.  I miss the days of old when I could bundle him up as I saw fit, and he didn’t have an opinion one way or the other.  I get it, kids are pretty resilient, yet they do have limitations.

Are all kids in the late and preteen age like this?  Is it just Western Pennsylvania?  In a way I truly hope kids are just warmer naturally, and no child is out freezing in the cold.  In a way, I kind of feel ashamed for Kyle, for he has warm clothing to his disposal and he snubs his nose at it, when there are kids without that luxury.  I wish he would at least appreciate what he has more and not take it for granted.

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

Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Heather?

She isn’t my mother.
She isn’t my sister.
She’s one of the family
Who’s more like a friend.
She has fun with me,
laughs with me,
listens to me, encourages me.
She spends time with me,
believes in me,
shares with me, cheers for me.
She understands me like a mother.
She’s there for me like a sister.
And perhaps best of all –
she loves me like a friend. ~Kimberly Rinchart


Me & Kyle at Idlewild for the Gutchess Picnic

My little man, what else can I say? I’ve reviewed how Kyle resembles my brother – his dad, my sister – his Aunt Nikki, my dad – his pappy, and my mom – his Gigi. There are a lot of cross over similarities and yet there are some traits that are distinctly a particular person.

Does Kyle resemble me at all? He sure does! Yes it’s true, Kyle is more of the engineering mind, but he is also a rare bread, complete with innovation, a strong personality, social skills and a  business visionary.

Obviously, Kyle’s physical traits don’t really resemble mine much. I will admit we do have the same type of skin, at least at this point in his life.  Also our noses.  We both have the perfect button noses.  A trait I’ve claimed as ours.  As for all other physical traits, you can’t even tell he’s related to me, our body types are different.  We don’t stand the same, or walk the same, and our outward presentations are not similar, not in the slightest.  If we talk about personality traits, now we’re getting somewhere!

As a baby just learning to walk, Kyle was always very structured.  What I mean is that everything had to be perfectly aligned.  Perfectly!  Kyle loved his Matchbox Cars, literally having hundreds of them. He would take the cars out one-by-one, examine them, and then line them up on the coffee table in rows. Every car was facing the same direction, front bumper to back, in perfect lines, until the entire coffee table was covered in Matchbox Cars.  That’s all he would do until it was time to put them away. Well, except if I was being ornery.

Kyle-in-Aunt-Heather-Piper-sunglasses-laughing 11-18-03

Me & Kyle screwing around with my sunglasses 11/18/03

Once when Kyle was nearly finished placing the cars, I waited for the perfect time for him to look away to retrieve another car.  I took my foot and pushed the coffee table over so the cars slid off and all landed on the floor. I know it sounds mean, but the look on his face was hilarious!  He was first in complete shock like he just witnessed an earthquake for his cars.  Then, as he noticed my foot still on the evidence, a complete realization of what just happened settled in.  His nose crinkled, his face soured, and he came over to me and begin to push my foot off the side of the table saying “No Aiya! No!”  Making it very clear that this was no acceptable behavior.  He looked like my sister when she gets angry with me!  I know, it’s not nice to tease, but it’s good to shake things up with these engineers.  Keeps it real.

Kyle not only aligned his cars but also his juice boxes in the refrigerator.  They had to be right side-up, facing front in a perfect line on the shelf. Let me tell you about convenience stores. If I would extract a bottle of water from inside the cooler, Kyle would realign the bottles making sure all the labels were facing out.  If the second bottle didn’t slide down to the front, then Kyle would help it along.  Bystanders that have actually witnessed this behavior, smiled at the precious narcissistic little boy.  I will admit, I tend to have the same disposition, everything orderly, tidy and aligned.  I do notice details, as does Kyle, and sometimes the smallest things drive me crazy.  Although, Kyle tends to be very selective with his details and neatness.  He is not always consistent but the natural tendencies are certainly there.

Granted as Kyle grows and as he is presented with different situations, he shows traits from all of us, including his business mind. Not everyone has the ability to be structured and think out of the box and use forward thinking.  My brother had a business mind, as does my dad and both equally have the work ethic to accompany such talents.  I do believe I possess these traits as well, similar to Kyle.  He has this unique thinking of setting and accomplishing goals and the ability to understand the idea of profit while maintaining the integrity of business.  A regular businessman.  How do I know?  I’m not just making a broad statement.  He has proved it through the interaction and assistance of my company The Piper Corporation (Thrill of the Hunt, SpyRing).  Yes with the little involvement he has had, he has shown me all these traits.  He is also a natural leader and he knows how to (and does without any quorums) delegate.  Once I teach him to properly follow up and address everyone with respect, and learn how to really utilize resources, he will be a force to reckon with.  I just hope I am able to instill a good work ethic and appropriate business practices with good moral intentions.


Me & Kyle at Idlewild… he is always a lot of fun at every age!  I love his perfectly round head!

Kyle’s people skills are pretty impressive!  He knows how to use his manners and speak directly to others.  Granted, sometimes he is a bit too direct, but like me, I love the candor and tend to steer in that direction.  Again as he matures, I can see his social skills tightening up and sharpening.  He already knows how to work a crowd to get their attention and to get what he wants, similar to his Aunt Heather.

As much as Kyle thinks, and he is a thinker, he forgets to think equally as much.  This behavior tends to get us both in sticky situations.

We both love to fish and I will admit, like Kyle, if I’m doing something I like, I want to perfect it and practice beforehand. Story time! Once when I was in elementary school, probably a little younger than Kyle is now, I decided to go outside and take advantage of the nice day and practice casting my fishing pole.  At the time mom had a dogwood tree in the middle of the yard.  Why is this relevant?  Because as I repeatedly cast my pole, I would caught a branch and have to pull my line out.  One would think that I would have just moved away from the tree, after all I had an entire yard.  But nope, I stood my ground until I cast my line in the top of the tree and couldn’t pull it out.   Yikes!  I didn’t know what to do.  Naturally the smart thing to do would have to cut the line.  Not me!  Instead I decreased the slack on the line and pulled the entire pole toward the top of the tree.  Yes, I let the fishing pole hang there in the dogwood tree.  Later that day, when dad came home from work, he noticed it instantly and asked no one in particular, in a very even toned voice, “Why is there a fishing pole in the tree?” I said, “I was practicing my casting and it got stuck.”  Nonchalantly dad replied, “Well don’t you think you better get it out?”  I knew I should, but for the life of me I didn’t realize at the time, breaking the line was an option, that is until weeks later when dad did just that.


Me & Kyle rocking the night away at Chad’s Wedding

Sometimes Kyle goes on his one track-mind and doesn’t bother to open his eyes to those around him.  I’m sure this will change as he grows, after all he is a sincere caring kid.  He is not malicious in anyway.  Although, I do the same, but it’s only because my mind is usually focused on other things, probably similar to Kyle’s.  At this point in his life, I would put my life on it, that it’s Legos!  Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many people would say they saw me, and I NEVER saw them.  Even if I walked right past them.  This happens a lot when I’m driving.  Hopefully, I’m concentrating on road, although I’m guessing my mind is wondering elsewhere, but not towards Legos.

Kyle’s a dreamer too.  Not just uses his imagination, which he totally does, but he is a visionary.  He always creates these grandiose ideas of how something should be, or how it will be or how it’s going to unfold.  I tend to be that dreamer too.  But I do believe that’s a great quality to have, especially being an entrepreneur.  Dreaming big is never a bad thing, just failure to act on it is.

There are so many more comparisons including the love of snow!  We both enjoy sled-riding, snowboarding and the crisp cool days.  Neither one of us like to be hot and we certainly don’t enjoy sweating, even though he does more than me.

We both love to cook and to experiment with ingredients.  Maybe more me than Kyle, but we love to try new foods and learn and understand different culture.

And like the rest of the family, there is one trait we all posses besides believing in God.  I don’t mean to omit the big Guy because to me that’s a standard, however I’m learning it’s not the case with most people.  But this time I’m talking about TRAVELING!  We are all equally intrigued by the rest of the world, new sights and the sense of adventure.  None of us has ever been afraid to explore and my parents have always encouraged this behavior.  Which speaking of, this week is ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun!’  They are doing a road trip tour of the New England States.  How fun!  Next trip, I’m going to sneak my way in on the action!

I guess Kyle is a little bit of each of us, making him the perfect mix!  He’s a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.  (That’s for mom’s benefit!)

Read the complete list of comparisons

Who Does Kyle Favor More, His Dad?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Pappy?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Aunt Nikki?
Who Does Kyle Favor More, Gigi?

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,LEGO's,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Random Fun Facts,Reminiscing,Snowboarding,Travels and have No Comments

What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  ~1 Corinthians 12:17


The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group got together at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center to participate in the ropes course 4/27/13

This past Saturday Kyle’s youth group had a fun activity, the ropes course!  What is a ropes course?  I had no idea at first.  Before the day began, all I knew was that Kyle signed me up to join him and the rest of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia youth group on their chosen outing.

Sometimes, I am just amazed how God works, even blessing us and our outing with such a pretty sunny day.  Enjoying the cool bright morning drive, we headed out to Ligonier, making our way up a secluded side road just outside the town.  The ropes course was held at the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center.  Great!  I was never there, and what are we doing again?


Mikaela Milko showing how to wear a babushka at the Ropes Course in Ligonier 4/27/13

After meeting our counselors, Marty and Jeb, they led our group about a quarter of a mile up a hill towards the woods.  Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, our real journey was about to begin.

We started off with the standard, ‘get in a circle and introduce yourself’.  However, they added a fun twist.  We were to introduce ourselves and tell everyone what our super power would be.  I chose flying, while others chose super strength, invisibility, mind reading and such.  Ok, neat idea to get everyone thinking and listening to our neighbor.  Where’s the ropes course?

Next, we completed a serious of individual and small group exercises.  We did the listening game of Shlaw and a fun sword game.  Comical as it may seem, and it was, we ran around with one arm acting as a sword and the other hand positioned in the middle of our backs, acting as our week point to be struck with an opposing sword.  Yes, we ran around in a large yard that was marked off, trying to strike each other down.  This is what really cracked me up.  When a person was slain, they were not permitted to just kneel down and be out of the game.  O no!  We had to act out a dramatic death scene, dropping to our knees.  That was just getting us warmed up.  There’s more!


The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group participating in the Ropes Course 4/27/13

Let’s not forget when we teamed up in groups of four and acted as a dragon, trying to get the other dragons tails, a.k.a. the handkerchief.  Then, there were the teams of two.  Only one person could see to guide the other.  Toward what you may ask?  To pick up stuffed animals and propel the soft ammunition at our opponents of course.  At first, we were allowed to speak to our temporarily blinded partner in crime.  That was just for practice.  The second time we played, there was no talking, only reading body language.  For me, I had Mikaela who is about Kyle’s age.  So I basically drug her around the large grassy area and used her arms as extensions of mine.


Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group figuring our the Ropes Course in Ligonier 4/27/13

When do the ropes course come into play?  That’s what I was wondering!  Not that I wasn’t having fun and learning the hidden lessons with each of these games.  But I wanted to swing like Tarzan.

Then came our first group activity!  Marty and Jeb borrowed a water bottle and gave us instructions to move the water bottle of its current position on the ground to Marty’s hand.  Everyone was to use at least a pointer finger and a pinky finger to move the bottle together as a group.  Yes all at once, all eighteen of us around a small water bottle.   That certainly took teamwork, and everyone following the called out instructions from those with strategic insight.  Did we do it?  Yes!


Me assisting Kyle on the Ropes Course in Ligonier. A fun activity with his Youth Group! 4/27/13

Seriously, the entire time that we were working on this challenge The Wonder Pets song was playing in my head.  Kyle loved that cartoon and he used to sing the theme song all the time.  Indulge me for a moment…
Linny: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Ming-Ming: “The phone, we’ll be right there!”
Tuck: “The phone, the phone is ringing!”
Linny: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Ming-Ming: “There’s an animal in trouble…”
Tuck: “There’s an animal in trouble somewhere!”
Tuck: “A baby [animal]
Ming-Ming: “This is se-rious!”
Tuck: “We have to help him/her”
Linny: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All then All: “Let’s save the [animal]!”
Linny: “Linny,”
Tuck: “Tuck,”
Ming-Ming: “And Ming-Ming, too!”
All: “We’re Wonder Pets and we’ll help you!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
Linny: “What’s gonna work?”
Tuck and Ming-Ming or All: “Teamwork!”
All: “Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets! We’re on our way
To help a baby [animal] and save the day!”
Ming-Ming: “We’re not too big,”
Tuck: “And we’re not too tough,”
All: “But when we work together we’ve got the right stuff!
Go, Wonder Pets! Yay!


Part of the team building exercises including using your blind partner as a bomber 4/27/13

Naturally, at the time I couldn’t remember the entire song, but regardless, it seemed to fit our situation.  Anyway, once we accomplished the first water bottle challenge, we were given the same activity only with another twist.  We needed to have someone place their nose, two people add their elbows and two pinkies (I believe) on the bottle.  All while EVERYONE, was touching the bottle in some way.  We needed to lift our object off the ground with a nose, two elbows, two pinkies and thirteen fingers on the bottle, at the same time.  Then move as a group toward our goal, Marty, to deliver the object of focus.  It was a bit awkward, but we did it!

Now the ropes course?  Not quite yet.  We had to sit in a circle among the trees and discuss the lessons we learned with all the previously executed exercises, including the themes of strategy and teamwork.  This was a way to encourage everyone to speak up and continue to be an integral part of the team.  Not to mention ensuring everyone was learning the lessons taught.


The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group working out a strategy to the Rope Course 4/27/13

We started moving toward the theme of the ropes course when Marty and Jeb were talking about safety, teamwork and strategy.  Something along those lines.  I was too excited for the long anticipated “ropes course”.  I had already built up this grandiose idea of what we were going to do.  Better yet, how I was going to fly among the trees and jump from one set of ropes to the other hundreds of feet in the air.  Or climb a rope with one hand that was over fifty feet high.  All of which did not happen, it was much harder than that.


We’re just getting started on the day. Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

After I was forced out of my dream state, I realized the time was at hand.  Our team cheer was the youth group motto, Helping Hands.  On the count of three we broke and headed toward our next destination.

Now the ropes course!  Eighteen of us lined up standing on a log.  We needed to shimmy around a bit to get our group to fit, but we managed.  Then, we needed to split into two groups to tackle the course from each end.  Simple enough.  No!  No one, not from either side was allowed to touch the ground and the adults were not allowed to talk.  If we touched the ground, then everyone would have to go back to the beginning and start all over again.  Did that happen?  O many many times.  I was the reason we started over once, jumping into the side of a tree as I lost my balance.  Kyle fell at least once, not to mention all the other participants who followed our lead to the ground.


Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

The ropes course was a serious of balance type of obstacles we needed to cross, working our way back to the starting line, the log.  No one was allowed to touch the ground, and everyone had to make it back.


Team building exercises before the Ropes Course at the Ligonier Camp & Conference Center 4/27/13

Along the way we realized the strengths and weaknesses of our team members.  With every start, we learned more and more and realized how to adjust to make our plan work.  From the very beginning, I knew I could help Kyle.  It was just like we were snowboarding and I was helping him with his balance.  Although, I will admit Kyle started to do pretty good on his own with each pass.  In fact, at the one intersection where we had one rope to walk on and one rope to hold on to, I lost my balance and went backward, holding on for dear life.  Please keep in mind we were only about four or five inches off the ground but it was the fear of touching the ground and making everyone start over.  No one wants to let the team down.  Kyle held his position, whereas I could have completely thrown him off balance.  He used his body to project us forward allowing both us a steady passage to the tree.  Nicely done buddy!

There was a lot of teamwork and “helping hands” along the way.  Ultimately, since one big challenge was crossing paths with the second half of our team, we sent the shortest of the group through first, while helpers were posted along the way.

Without my help, but with the assistance and guidance of others, Kyle, along with the rest of our vertically challenged kids made it to the end.  Great job guys!  We nearly got everyone through, then we biffed it again and unfortunately ran out of time.  I spent the majority of the exercise on the double ropes, which I think I mastered.  Although the cramping in my feet and the burning in my thighs might argue the opposite.

We ended the day with another recap and a prayer before tackling our lunch.  By that time everyone was mentally and physically exhausted, but in an good way.  What a great idea!  Asking who presented this activity to the group, Isaak raised his hand.  This was a perfect way to really get to know your group and allow everyone to make a contribution to the team!  I would love to do it again.

We left there feeling pretty good about ourselves.  It was the teamwork and the ability to lend a helping held and accept assistance from others.  God made us all differently so we will rely on one another.  Simple as it may seem, that’s exactly what we did!  As Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.”

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

Snow Tubing Anyone?

The frolic architecture of the snow.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aunt Heather Piper & Kyle Snow Tubing 1-27-13

Me & Kyle taking a break of snow tubing at Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Two Saturday’s ago, Kyle went snow tubing with his youth group.   Not being able to resist in playing in the snow, I too went.  Did I mention Kyle really wanted me to?  Yep!  And that alone made my day.  Not to mention God gave us the most beautiful day!  It was sunny, not too cold, almost no wind and the slopes were fast.

At Hidden Valley, their snow tubing area is off the beaten path, isolated from the rest of the  lodging and skiing area.   It was actually kind of nice, we didn’t have to fight traffic and the congestion with the rest of the ski resort.

It’s been years since I was snow tubing, let alone at Hidden Valley.  Mom’s work, Gutchess Hardwood’s used to go every year with their employees and their families.  In fact, if my memory is not misleading me, the one year we went, dad participated in the snow tubing excitement, right beside me and Kyle, while mom sat inside and watched us.  Kyle asked dad to go this year, but all dad said was, “What? You want me to break a leg?  I can’t do that anymore.”   I beg to differ.  If dad would get his body back into a little bit of a better shape, I think he could have gone.  It doesn’t matter he’s sixty-two, he’s actually pretty healthy, considering.  I truly hope, when I hit my sixties, I am still able to snowboard, snow tube, snow shoe, run, walk, roller skate, ice skate, hike, and the list goes on and on.  At least that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

Anyway, we had a great time!  Kyle was able to bond with some of the  kids, who all knew each other from going to Latrobe school.  Kyle only gets to hang with his fellow youth group members when he’s at CCD class, during his monthly youth group meetings and sometimes when he serves mass.  For all of these, it is a limited amount of time and he is there to serve a specific purpose and not to just hang out and socialize, especially in church.  So the snow tubing activity was a fun way to get the kids together to just hang out, which they did!

On a side note, everyone involved from the parents to the members including Mrs. Milko, the fearless leader of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, are really good people.  I mean down to earth sincere individuals, who want to help the community through serving others, spreading the word of God, setting an example, all while strengthening their faith.  Pretty impressive!

Snow Tubing Sacred Heart Saint Cecilia Youth Group 1-27-13 Aunt Heather Piper

The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group snow tubers. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

At first Kyle was glued to my side, not really socializing with the others.  He seemed a little reserved, very unlike Kyle, but I was there to give support and help him have a nice time.  Actually, spending an afternoon with Kyle and playing in the snow was like heaven to me.  I couldn’t have been happier!  I’ll say it again, it was a great day!

Sometimes we went down the slopes together, holding onto the opposing tube; sometimes we pulled a Superman and went down head first with our arms stretched out; sometimes we raced each other; and sometimes we did a combination of two.  Personally, I will admit, some of the fun involved tormenting Kyle.  Yes, I can’t deny it, I was instigating my fellow rider a bit and it was amusing!  He always gets so bossy and sometimes he is too structured.  Did I mention we were there to have a good time and not work the coal mines?  So to throw a monkey wrench in his plans, I would change them up a bit and do what I wanted.  Example.  Kyle would say, “Ok Aunt Heather, I’ll sit in my tube and you run and jump on yours to push me.  I’ll hang on to your tube and then I’ll let go when I want to.”  Ya, his plan worked for about five seconds until he realized I got a hold of his rope attached to his tube and I wouldn’t let go.  To really be silly and let’s face it, to push his buttons further, I would yell out, “I won’t let go Jack, I won’t let go!”  I swear, even through the snow flying in my face I could see Kyle rolling his eyes at me.   The best was when gravity took hold of us racing toward the bottom of the hill and Kyle was gloating like he was ahead of me.  Then, in the middle of the run, I would spin our tubes around so I was in the lead and I would yell out, “Eat my dust!” Kyle would grit his teeth and grunt at me saying, “No fair Aunt Heather!  You are suppose to be behind me!”  Then to show me up, he would race me, but wait till I was ready.  All I heard from the tube with the slight lead, “Hey Aunt Heather, eat my dust!”  Too much!  It was all in good fun.

Aunt Heather Piper Snow Tubing Conga Line 1-27-13

Snow Tubing Conga Line. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Eventually, the kids spread out and started teaming up to race each other and combining tubes to go down in groups.  Kyle and I joined in, which really was a blast!  At first we had about twenty some bodies, each in a tube connected for a roller coaster ride.  It was the perfect amount of people.  We really did picked up speed and road the hill till the very end, which is usually the safe overrun no one ever reaches.  We did!  From that point on, Kyle wanted to keep joining the group.  Wherever Kyle went, I followed, that is until they tried to break the world record.

It seemed like everyone who came with the youth group decided to join together to make one massive tubing conga line.  It was unbelievable.  At that moment, I decided to hang on the side lines and take pictures of this never ending line of excited riders.  At the top of the run, there wasn’t enough room to line the participants up, so the passengers had to climb the hill behind them to form a long line of bulging tubes.  Originally, they tried to organize the tube train along the top flat part, but that created a bend in their tubing creation, which broke off when they attempted to straighten out to race down the hill.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was going to participate in the over sized serpentine line of tubes of people whether I wanted to or not.  As the riders started out, they immediately lost control and jumped the line.  I was trying to shoot a video of this event and was suddenly taken down by the line that went a rye. (see the video below)  Luckily, I still have some spring to my step and I bounced back pretty quickly!

Never-the-less, snow tubing was a success!  Thank you so much for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group for choosing this event and to Mrs. Milko and the other parents for setting it up!  It was a great time for the kids and adults alike!

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

Snowboarding – the Beginning…

We all started snowboarding in the beginning as a family just to be closer together, go on trips.  It was our soccer, but instead of dad yelling at me from the sideline he is there riding with me and hitting the jumps even before I am hitting them.  ~Shaun White


Me, Casey & Kyle taking a break from snowboarding. The Foggy Goggle fireplace is the best! 7 Springs 2009

Snowboarding has become something of our thing between me and Kyle, starting him when he was three years old.  One snowy day at my parents house, I decided to strapped my snowboard on and ride it down my uncle’s field.  Kyle was fascinated by the sport.  S0 I placed his little feet between my binding on the board, held his hands and rode him down through the powder.  Kyle just loved it!  Now I wasn’t going fast, or doing anything special.  We just rode the one side of the board and fell over into piles of snow when we felt like the run was done.  He seriously had a blast!  We both walked up and down the hill and I strapped myself in and out of my bindings countless times that day.  On a side note, I was beat!  My legs and arms got a workout!   We rode past sunset and all the way into night.  Kyle didn’t want to stop, he wouldn’t admit he was getting cold and wet, but I knew better.  Since we started in my parents yard and passed over the driveway before heading down the field, sometimes I would get stuck on the driveway.  Dad joined in on the unplanned fun and assisted us by giving me little pushes to get us going.  That one random fun day started Kyle’s love of snowboarding.  In fact, at one point Kyle looked up at me and said, “Aiya I’m a snowboarder!”  With a huge proud grin spanning my face, I encouragingly said, “Yes you are buddy!”


Kyle throws me a smile while riding the chairlift at Snowshoe WV… snowboarding fun! 2010

A bit small and young to be riding, I decided to try Kyle out anyway.  I figured he was low to the ground and pretty patted so what could it hurt?  Kyle really enjoyed snowboarding or at least the idea of it.  When he was four years old, I took him up on the slopes to officially ride his first run.  He was fearless and loved it!  Since I never taught a youngster to ride before, I thought it might be better to get him an instructor.  That was his Christmas gift, I purchased him instructor lessons and his jacket, bibs and gloves.

His first lesson was at Hidden Valley.  As soon as he reached the top of the Bunny Slope, we strapped him in and helped Kyle to his feet.  Instantly, he stretched one arm out in front and one behind himself, like he was giving us a yoga pose.  He turned to the instructor and said, “Let me go!”  A very puzzled and shocked instructor looked at me, I shrugged and gave the nod.  Kyle went down the run and even did a little jump, only maybe a inch from the ground, but never lost composure.  When he eventually crashed in a pile of snow, he gave me the biggest grin from his tiny little round head.  I knew he was hooked!


Kyle ready to get on the chairlift at 7 Springs 2009

A year later when Kyle turned five I took him back up to the slopes.  Since he was a little man, I’ve always and still do, rent his boots and board.  Trying to keep up with repurchasing his gear year-over-year to coinside with his growth spurts just seemed silly.  Plus, I never knew if he was going to change his mind and decide he didn’t want to be a boarding dude anymore.  So far so good, he still loved snowboarding and was having a blast.

One trip to Seven Springs had me in stitches.  Kyle was riding down the bottom of Fawn, and every time he would crash I helped to his feet, so to speak.  Kyle’s swimming instructor, who also happened to be a ski instructor was there with us.  She was along for the ride, and I’m sure for the pure humor of the day.  It only takes an instant for something to happen.  In this case it was one of the funniest sights ever seen on the mountain.

As Kyle rolled into the powder, I helped him up and literally helped him right out of his boot, which were incidentally strapped into the bindings, attached to the snowboard.  Again, Kyle was pretty young and little to be snowboarding, which means his boots didn’t quite fit him.   We had to settle for the smallest boots and board they had, but even with thick socks the boots were still too big.  So needless to say, the gravity and the slick snow did their job and allowed the board to continue on its course of action, without Kyle.  It was hilarious!  The boots were still perfectly strapped onto the board as it ran away from us.  Just then, Kyle in his bright blue winter socks and wearing his helmet that looked like a planet sitting on his tiny shoulders, were running down the slope after the escaped.  It was the funniest sight!  This little guy of about three feet, wearing Smurf blue socks, a noggin that was too big for his frame (his head was always large and round) and his little limbs sticking out from his sides like he was Ralphie in the Christmas Story, was working his way toward the runaway snowboard.  I was dying!  Not being able to assist Kyle, as the onlookers saw, I was laying in the middle of the trail laughing so hard, tears fell from my eyes.  I will say it again, that was one of the funniest sights!  I wasn’t the only one who found humor in the event that unfolded in front of me, so did my companions and those directly above us on the chairlift.

Eventually, someone further down the path saw the possessed snowboard and stopped it.  Kyle ran to claim his board and waited for me to gain composure and ride down to him to start it all over.  Kyle didn’t seemed phased by what happened.  Probably because he didn’t know, that wasn’t suppose to happen.  At least he wasn’t afraid of it happening again.

To this day, I still can see that story unfold right before my eyes, as if I was watching a rerun on TV.  When Kyle and I were riding this past weekend, I brought that story up again.  He kind of remembered it, but still loved hearing the story retold, as it has been every year since.

For the next couple of years, Kyle’s Christmas gift included a season pass to Seven Springs.  He always seemed pleased with that gesture.  Ever since that faithful day, with the use of my parents yard and my uncle’s field, Kyle always wanted to snowboard with me.  I will admit, secretly I wanted him to enjoy snowboarding as much as I do.  I couldn’t be happier!  He’s the coolest!

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

Starting With a Snowboarding Bang!

I totally forget about snowboarding in the summertime.  ~Shaun White


Me & Kyle snowboarding… our 1st run of the season 7 Springs 1/5/13

On Saturday, I took Kyle snowboarding at Seven Springs.  It was sincerely a perfect day.  The sun came out to expose a brilliant blue sky and white fluffy clouds, the temperature remained in the twenties, the windchill was low and it wasn’t too crowded.  Saturday was the first time we were able to get out this season.  Unfortunately, last year I didn’t get my board out, not even once, due to a lack of a real winter.  But this season I decided to take advantage of the winter conditions early.

Once the snow falls, Kyle always reminds me about snowboarding, that and sled riding.  Two of his favorite winter pastimes.  This year, I saw in Kyle’s expression and heard in his voice, the sounds of disappointment and accusation from skipping a snowboarding season.  He reminded me all summer that we didn’t go out once and he continued to reiterate the same over Christmas.  If I could help it, history was not going to repeat itself and Saturday was a testament to that.


Me, Casey & Kyle taking a break from snowboarding. The Foggy Goggle fireplace is the best! 7 Springs 2009

We had a great day!  After we ate lunch we stopped into the Foggy Goggle to sit by the fireplace.  I know it’s a bar, but that fireplace is always blazing and no one is ever hanging around it because they’re at the bar.  That’s my secret location to sit and relax and warm up before heading back out.  I have been taking Kyle there when he started snowboarding at four years old.  In fact, while we sat on the bench in front of the fire waiting for our cloths to warm up a bit, Kyle nearly fell asleep.  He never does that, so I know he must have already had a good workout during our morning runs.   I leaned over to Kyle and commented “You know buddy, you’ve fallen asleep in here many times before.  When you were really little, I would lay my coat on the floor, in front of the fireplace and you would take a nap until our cloths were dry.  Then we would head back onto the slopes.”  Kyle smiled at me and said, “I did?  How big was I?”  He is too funny!  I showed him about how much space on the floor he consumed and where I placed him safely out of the way.  Everyone would walk past this cute little blond haired boy, peacefully sleeping and smile.  He really was way too cute!


Me & Kyle ready to board the chairlift at 7 Springs 1/5/13

Funny story.  The Foggy Goggle had a larger than life statue of the Captain Morgan pirate in the one entrances.  The first time I had Kyle in there to sit by the fire, we had to pass this monster statue that no doubt caught his eye.  All of a sudden Kyle tugs on my arm and says “Look Aiya, Captain Jack Sparrow!”  What do you say to that?  After I was done laughing, I said, “Ya buddy, looks like him doesn’t it?”  Kyle was so happy about recognizing what he thought was the Pirates of the Caribbean character, I didn’t said a word.

Though, he did bring it up to my parents and I had to pull mom aside and explain what he was talking about.  Mom just rolled her eyes and asked if he was allowed in there.  It’s not like I plant him at the bar and order him shots.  We just take advantage of the emptiness surrounding grand old fireplace and the warm heat radiating from it.

When I hit the slopes, I like to go early.  One, because I like getting a head start on the day and it’s usually not too crowded, making it easier with Kyle.  I’m not a big fan of crowds, particularly the swarms of them who all seem to have just started skiing and are zipping past my little guy with uncontrollable movements.  Also, let’s face it, I’m not the most patient with waiting in line to ride the chair lift either.  Hence why I like to get on the slopes early.  If they would allow riders on the run at 7:00 am, I would be there waiting to partake.

Once we got past the fitting of the snowboarding boots, we were golden.  Yes, let’s discuss the boots.  Kyle has this thing about his cloths,  particularly his shoes, touching his skin.  He doesn’t like anything to be fitted, I’m not talking tight, I’m talking fitted perfectly to his body.  Nope, not for Kyle.  If his shoes and cloths are not hanging off of him, he thinks they are too tight and throws a big fit.  Did I mention snowboarding boots are suppose to fit?  They need to be snug, not tight, but not loose.  They need to be able to respond to the rider when he/she turns to carve.  And to do that, the boots need to be fitted, not hanging off his feet.  I will admit it does take a bit to get used to wearing snowboarding boots, especially early in the season, until you’re body is warmed up and loose.  Listening to Kyle complain about the boots most of the day, drove me crazy, to be honest.  But he wasn’t too bad I guess, nothing I didn’t expect.

My goal of the day, besides improving Kyle’s riding, was for him to become independent on the mountain.  Not that I was planning on abandoning him, never ever!  I’m talking about managing his own board.  Kyle never really buckled his own bindings before and I always helped him up whenever he fell.  I don’t generally baby Kyle, but he started snowboarding so young, I really had to assist him and then it became a habit for both of us.  A habit I wanted to stop this year, after all he is eleven.  I tried to be as hands off as I possibly could, forcing him to do for himself.  Did I also mention the kid has NO flexibility?

By the time we rounded out the day, Kyle was gaining a little bit of flexibility and doing pretty good with pulling himself up and bending over to strap on his own bindings.  Along the way, Kyle did receive some assistance from kind on lookers.  Much like myself when I first started snowboarding.  I guess we both either have that look of being purely pathetic or being too cute to pass up.  I vote for the later, but I have a feeling reality lies in the first.


Kyle took a picture of my raccoon hat wearing goggles… snowboarding at 7 Springs 1/5/13

Kyle was even managing to get on the chair lift by himself, of course the few extra inches he’s grown over the years helped in that department.

Our runs on Saturday was a testament that Kyle didn’t miss a beat from two winter’s ago.  He is not the strongest rider, or the most daring but he can hold his own.  He just needs practice.  There were a few times when someone was going to run into Kyle and he reacted pretty quickly to avoid a collision.  I was quite impressed, thinking I was going to have to peel him off of the run!  But nope he maintained control when the other party didn’t.  Good job buddy!

Kyle is also a considerate rider, always looking over his shoulder and beside him for others that are sharing the mountain.  He never pushes or cuts people off either.  He will wait patiently for others to get out of his way and he never wants to hurt anyone.  That’s my Kyle, still wearing his big heart on the slopes.

Throughout the day, we couldn’t help but getting silly.  It wouldn’t be a typical day for us if we didn’t.  Every time I put my goggles on top of my head, which is wear my raccoon hat was resting, Kyle would start laughing.  He said it looked like the raccoon was wearing the goggles.  And it did!

Speaking of raccoon hat.  There was someone there wearing a HUGE raccoon skin cap, complete with a tail.  It was ridiculous!  It was so big and obnoxious  on the person’s head that it looked like an actual raccoon was hanging on for dear life.  Every time we saw it, we busted out laughing!  You couldn’t miss it.  I thought we were on Wild Kingdom.

Hopefully this year brings us more of those days.  I’m not necessarily talking about the conditions, but the time spent together.  We had a blast and I really cherish my one-on-one time with Kyle.

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

Seeing the World Through Goggles

Cherish those precious moments because their will come a day and time when the children are challenging and unruly, but it is always worth being patient and getting through those harder days.  ~Unknown


I posed Kyle in my snowboarding goggles when he was 6 months old. 1/2002

Now that we are approaching snowboarding season, hopefully, since last year we didn’t have much of a winter, I thought of this adorable story.  It always brings a smile to my face.  Every now and again a memory from my mental diary surfaces, and this one was too cute to pass up.

It starts with Kyle, maybe three years old or there about, I’m going back roughly eight years.  I met a friend of mine, her sister-in-law and her son at the Olive Garden for soup and salad.  Naturally, I had Kyle with me because more than not, he’s attached to my hip.  Of course I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Us Piper’s never leave our little man behind.

Being a little tyke, Kyle’s car seat was in the backseat strategically placed in the center so I could see him in the rear-view mirror.  Not to mention, I always thought it was safer in case there was an accident, then he would be protected by the surrounded space.


Me in Breckenridge Colorado… love those mountains! c. 2009

Surprisingly (sarcasm), my snowboard was in the car along with my gear.  I fold down the back of one seat and slide the board through the trunk to rest on the now constructed flat surface.  That’s were it resides most of the winter.  Never know when I need to hit the slopes for an emergency snowboard ride!  Well, for whatever reason I had my goggles in the house and Kyle felt the need to put them on.  He didn’t just put them on, he placed the goggles over his eyes and kept them there even as we left the house.  Yep, we departed to start our journey to meet up with Holsters and her sister-in-law, and Kyle’s accessory of choice was a pair of snowboarding goggles.  To be honest, I thought he liked them because it kept the cold air off of his face and the sun out of his eyes.  I usually wear tinted goggles.  My eyes are really sensitive to the sun, especially reflecting off of bright snow.


Kyle’s 6 month old photo shoot… I knew he was going to love snowboarding! 1/2002

As we drove to the restaurant, Kyle just sat in the backseat sporting the goggles like it was normal.  I fully expected him to remove the protective eye wear when we got inside.  Nope.  He kept the goggles on his face like they were his reading glasses.  He went along his business eating and hanging out, all while wearing the goggles!  Holsters looked at me like ‘What is up with the goggles?” and my only response was, “I have no idea, but he seems to like them.  I’m excited!  Snowboarding here we come!”  In my eyes, his positivity toward goggles meant he likes to snowboard.  I know that’s silly, but that’s how I spun the situation.  At this point, I don’t I took Kyle snowboarding yet and he never saw me ride.  But you know, I think he associated those goggles with me.

Kyle was really too cute!  Our server couldn’t even help but giggle and smile at this little bleach blond haired boy, wearing snowboarding goggles while eating!  You should have seen all the looks as we walked in the restaurant and lets not forget when we exited the joint.  Kyle didn’t seem to mind.  He didn’t relish in the attention but he didn’t shy away from it either.  It’s as though he didn’t notice anyone staring.  Kyle certainly turned a lot of heads, this time for a good positive reason.  I must say I was proud to walk beside this content young man, who was so enchanting, I even fell under his spell.  To this day, I wish I would taken a picture of video of the event.  But alas that memory is mine, and those that witnessed it.

You know it’s those unplanned precious moments that stick with us forever!

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

Snowboarding? Not Yet!

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!  ~ Anonymous

Kyle sitting on ski lift in Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Waiting for another run. Snowshoe, West Virginia c. 2010

You know, I am definitely more of a cool weather girl.  I tend to favor fall and winter over the heat and humidity.  You know what?  I think Kyle is the same. He hates being overheated and sweaty, he tends to be a salt water covered kid, all year round.  Sometimes perspiration  just pours from his head.  Even when he was a tiny little baby, I used to walk around with him in a papoose type of baby carrier.  I would place him in this backwards type of book bag, hanging off of my chest.  I loved it, he was safe and my hands were free.  Man, did Kyle make me hot!  It wasn’t too bad in the winter, he was like my space heater, but in the summer it was rough.  I’m not really a sweaty person, which doesn’t do me any good when I run, but having Kyle lay on me and radiate heat, makes my body start to sweat.

Snowshoe WV Aunt Heather Piper

Stacey, me, Kyle and Casey (cousins) Snowshoe, WV 2011

Off of that tangent and onto another… Lately we’ve had unseasonable weather.  It’s been in the 50’s and rainy, except this week, which is just cold with a hint of snow.  I will admit, during the dog days of summer, I do wish for winter.  I enjoy all seasons, but I love snow!  I don’t know if it’s from me or not, but Kyle always wishes for the snow to fall too.  He loves to sled ride and be my little snowboarder buddy.  I started Kyle out on a board when he was three years old.  Taking him on my snowboard in front of my parents house, which is on a slight down hill that opens up into my uncle’s field, that was the easiest way to start him out.  I had Kyle stand in the middle of the board while I was strapped in, holding his hands.  We would go down the hill and eventually fall over into the fluffy snow.  We had a blast!!  Sometimes, during our trek across the driveway, before getting any momentum, we would get stuck and dad would stand there to give my shoulder a push and get us going again.

Going down hill wasn’t so bad, not that that’s a surprise.  But it was tough unstrapping my bindings and carrying my board up the hill while holding Kyle’s hand.  He had a hard time walking in the deep snow.  Those little legs where just long enough to get up over the snow, let along make them move up a hill covered in snow.  It was all totally worth it!  We must have made at least 20 runs before calling it day.  In fact, we kept it up in the dark.  Dad turned on the spotlights along side the house so we could see.  We rode until I realized Kyle’s gloves were pretty wet and his hands were getting cold.  He didn’t want to go in, but I told him I would make us hot chocolate and we would warm up.  Reluctantly he agreed.  Even though my body felt like I ran a marathon, not that I know what that feels like, but I can only imagine.

Kyle snowboarding at Hidden Valley Aunt Heather Piper

Taking a break from snowboarding at Hidden Valley. c. 2010

Now back to the present day, last Wednesday to be exact.  As Kyle and I watched the news, showing a brief clip about the town in Alaska that was dumped with 18 feet of  snow, (Yep, not inches, we’re talking feet)  it was funny, I could see Kyle’s brain trying to comprehend what he heard, making sure he understood what the news anchor reported.  I said, “Did you hear that?  They have 18 to 20 feet of snow.  Not inches, FEET!”  Putting a real emphasis on FEET.  His eyes were in shock and then he turned his head toward the front door, threw up his hands and gave a ‘Where’s our snow?’ gesture.  Meanwhile, it was raining pretty hard outside.  I said, “I guess it’s all in Alaska.”  I knew what his response was all about.  You see, Kyle looks forward to hanging with me on the mountain, as do I.  It’s hard enough to maintain patience for myself when I’m waiting on the snow, but trying to be patient with Kyle is an almost unrealistic task.

Recently we did start receiving snow, which I knew would eventually come and currently go.  But I must say, those 18 feet seem like more fun than our couple of inches and light dusting.  I’m really blessed and happy that Kyle and I have our hobby together.  Maybe that’s why I look forward to winter.  I get to hang with my Narrow in God’s country.

Check out the Cordova Alaska snow situation.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Being a Friend

Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things.  ~Author Unknown

Spending time with a friend at Idlewild Park 2004 Aunt Heather Piper

Kyle found a friend at Idlewild Park. 2004

As I walked into Santa’s Workshop at Kyle’s school, I recognized some familiar faces.  Even though I forget names, not my strongest attribute, I remember the faces from over the years at the occasional school activity, play, Halloween parade, etc.  These very active group of parents are too sweet, all calling me Aunt Heather.  LOVE that!  The school and those children are really lucky to have them!  They are a real asset.  As I was getting situated and ready for the first group of kids to shop, a mother approached me confirming who I was.  She said, “You’re Kyle’s Aunt, right?”  I said, “Yes,” and she proceeded to tell me her son’s name and what grade her son was in.

Then she got really serious and I could tell she had something important to say.  She proceeded to tell me that Kyle and her son are friends and they play at recess.  I didn’t think anything of it until she further explained what this meant to her and her son.  She told me that she is having a difficult time with her son and the other kids. She said, “I won’t trouble you with the details but I don’t know what to do.  I’ve tried everything, looked into different schools, but I don’t know.”  My heart was breaking for this obviously upset mother and her son. She had tears in her eyes and I really just wanted to give this woman a big hug.

She never did tell me the details of her son’s problems with the other students but she did go into detail about Kyle’s actions.  She told me that her son’s teacher introduced him to Kyle one day, and Kyle befriended this little boy.  You see, they both love playing Lego’s and so Kyle would bring his stockpile of Lego’s for the boys to share and play with during recess.  They seemed to bond instantly.  As I mentioned, the boys are in different grades, but that doesn’t mean anything to Kyle.  He doesn’t care if a kid is younger or older than him, Kyle just sees a kid and likes being a kid.  As far as I can tell, he’s not a ‘clicky’ kid or judgmental.  He’s just Kyle and I love him for that!

Ryan at Sacred Heart fieldtrip - Aunt Heather Piper

Ryan with his class at Sacred Heart - field-trip

The mom elaborated on how much Kyle befriending her son meant to them both.  This small action helped her son cope with his school situation.  This mother was so sincere and endearing.  The praise she was giving Kyle made my eyes a little moist and gave me the need to give Kyle a big hug.  I just wanted to tell him how proud I was of him.

When Kyle finally got to the classroom, I pulled him aside and asked him about his friend.  He said, “Ya, I play with him sometimes at recess.  We play Legos.”  I tried to quickly explain how much this meant to the boy and his mom, but I could see Kyle didn’t really get it.  He wasn’t being a friend to get his brownie points, he was doing it to be friendly.  I did tell him how proud I was of him.  Then, to make my heart completely melt, he asked if he could buy his new friend something and give it to him for Christmas.  Wow!!  I said, “Yes, I think that would be a nice gesture.”  Of course Kyle picked the green slime as a gift.  So maybe that put me on the naughty list with the mother, but I couldn’t deny Kyle his gift choice.  It took him a while to pick it out and he was really excited about the gift.  He said, “I know he would really like this.”

Markelle and Aunt Heather Piper share a smile

Me and Markelle share a smile.

Well needless to say, before I left, we exchanged numbers so I could call and get the boys together on the weekends.  I even mentioned about going snowboarding.  The mom seemed so happy and almost slightly relieved like this was the break she’d been waiting for.  This was the holiday spirit!  Showing kindness to strangers and reaching out to help.  At that moment I realized that I was part of a Christmas blessing, all because of one little boy, my Kyle.  I have said it and I’ll say it again, Kyle continues to teach me about life.

During Santa’s Workshop, I was talking to the parents and my birthday came up, that it was around the corner.  You know what?  I received a text message from the mom wishing me a Happy Birthday!  She said she couldn’t remember when it was but how totally sweet!!  Yep, there IS more good in the world than bad.

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Snowboarding and have No Comments

True Penn State Role Model

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. ~John F. Kennedy

Lisa with her dad, Dr. Arbuckle - Aunt Heather Piper

Lisa with her dad, Dr. Robert Arbuckle

Unfortunately the world is not perfect, but I believe there is more good than the opposite. Good deeds and hard work are done by many without the desire for recognition and public attention.

To those of you who have made a positive impact on those around you, it’s the small deeds that sometimes mean the most and have the greatest impact.  Those of you who stood a few extra minutes to hold the door open, those of you who gave change to the person who was short at the checkout line, and those of you who simply walked past and gave a heart warming smile. It’s those actions that mean the world to the recipient.  To me, those people are the real leaders, they make the changes in the world, however slight, are for the betterment of mankind.

My sister is a Penn State Alumni, as well as many of my family members and friends.  I am not trying to under play the severity of the recent acts of some Penn State authority figures, not in the slightest. But I do want to recognize greatness that have come from Penn State.

I have been blessed throughout my life to meet many great people, including a true role model, Dr. Arbuckle.  I’ve know Dr. Arbuckle and his family for years now.  From the time I met the family, they have always welcomed me as a part of their own.

Every year the Arbuckle family gets together to rent a house in the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a fun time of snowmobile riding, skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing.  A few years ago, I was invited to spend the weekend with my adopted family.  During an uneventful afternoon, I had the privilege of sitting with Dr. Arbuckle to shoot the breeze.  At the time, I was reading Winston Churchhill’s History of the English Speaking People.  Starting out his career as a history professor, Dr. Arbuckle was probably the only person who didn’t roll his eyes or look at me with the look of ‘Why’ when he saw my reading selection.  You see, I too have always loved history, particularly art history.

Penn State Logo - Aunt Heather Piper As I sat there and talked with Dr. Arbuckle, I realize that he was a real humanitarian and a truly inspirational person.  I always knew he was very intelligent and successful, that goes without saying, but my eyes were really opened to the virtually unknown man sitting before me.  Without an audience, no one taking notes, no one recording the conversation (I wish I did) we talked casually.  First about history, specifically Churchill, until the conversation grew to cover many more topics.

When he told me about his efforts to rid the world of polio through the Rotary Club, I couldn’t help but be drawn into his  passion for the topic.  His passion to help these children, nationally and abroad.  Yep, he told me that there are still outbreaks of polio in the United States.  I had no idea!  Speaking to him on the subject really reinforced my admiration for him on many different levels.  I’ve always had a respect for Dr. Arbuckle for what he’s accomplished in life, but at that point I saw so much more to the quiet gentleman sitting across from me.  There is so much I got out of our conversation.  I could go on and on about what a great father and grandfather he is and a true leader in the community, but my words would never do him justice.

Please take a moment to review this news release on Dr. Arbuckle.  It barely touches on the impact he has made to many, including being an inspiration to his family and his adopted family… me.


Naming of Arbuckle Building honors former New Kensington CEO

Friday, November 11, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Board of Trustees today (Nov. 11) approved the naming of the Robert D. Arbuckle Technology Building at Penn State New Kensington, in recognition of former campus executive officer.

“Dr. Arbuckle has been a vital part of Penn State New Kensington’s growth for more than 40 years,” said Kevin Snider, campus chancellor. “His unending energy, humor and devotion to his profession, served not only the campus, but the community as well.”

Arbuckle, who holds a master’s and a doctoral degrees from Penn State, began his career in 1968 as a professor of history at the University Park campus. Six years later, he was appointed chief academic officer at the New Kensington campus. In 1977, he was named campus executive officer and remained at Penn State New Kensington for 15 years. Arbuckle assumed the presidency of Lake Superior State University in Michigan in 1992. He retired in 2002.

Under Arbuckle’s leadership, the New Kensington campus expanded both academically and physically. Three degree programs — a bachelor’s degree in electro-mechanical engineering technology, associate degree in radiology sciences and an associate degree in biomedical engineering technology — were added in the 1980s. Arbuckle also envisioned a new building complex that would serve the needs of students and businesses in the region. He wanted the campus to become more interactive with business and industry in the area and he wanted local companies “to use our computers.”

Coalescing community leaders, he spearheaded a capital campaign for the construction of the two-building Science and Technology Center, which opened in 1990. That building, now being named for Arbuckle, is home to many specialized engineering laboratories that enable students to pursue innovative programs in technology.

Although phase two took another 10 years to complete, Arbuckle’s campus/business collaboration became a reality in 2000 with the dedication of the multi-purpose Conference Center and Classroom Building. By partnering with industry in the region, the University increased its presence in the Alle-Kiski Valley. Last year, more than 60 regional organizations used the facilities for meetings, training classes, seminars and workshops.

After moving on to Lake Superior, Arbuckle continued his role as a visionary. He was instrumental in expanding that college’s student center; in renovating several facilities and in breaking ground for a fine arts center. He was awarded the title of president emeritus and the school’s student activities building has been named in his honor.

In retirement, Arbuckle returned to Washington Township in western Pennsylvania and resumed his bond with the New Kensington campus. In 2004, he was named an Alumni Fellow.

Arbuckle has served as president and chair of several local community boards including Rotary, YMCA, United Way, chambers of commerce, and hospitals. He has received numerous awards including the University’s John E. Wilkerson Award for Administrative Excellence and Rotary International’s Legacy to Children award for his work in polio eradication.


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