Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back to a celebratory Friday Music Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. This week saw Chief 187 Chatter reach and surpass 11, 000 pageviews and is already on its way to the next milestone. With a nod to popular opinion, this week’s music topic is the “best albums of all time”. Purely subjective but surely promising to show the commonality of taste, this topic begs to be answered by all who read and adore music.

It is short and sweet today, my last day of vacation with my family. The topic, however, should provide ample opportunity for you to leave your selections and return to leave even more! Thank you for your continued support, your interest, and your readership! Have a great weekend, please continue to check in with this FMB, and I’ll see you back here on Monday! Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday: Recipe for a Happy Marriage

Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday at Chief 187 Chatter. Today’s feature will not include recipes for food, although a recipe will indeed be the focus of the piece. Tomorrow, April 29, 2011, the wedding of Prince William and his longtime love Kate Middleton will occur. With the press having a field day with covering the minutia associated with a Royal wedding (or any wedding for that matter), my thoughts have turned to what I, a lowly commoner from the States, could offer the young, beautiful couple as a wedding gift. Since materially there is nothing for me to present they themselves cannot get, I realized my greatest gift is my imparted knowledge. Thus, for Tantalizing Thursday: The Royal Wedding Edition, I am serving up a Recipe for a Happy Marriage.
I consider myself a good chef when it comes to creating this recipe. I was trained by my husband’s and my family who have one hundred and sixty years of marriage between three couples. My own relationship with my husband has lasted through eighteen years of marriage (nearly 25 years together total) and I am thirty-eight years old! I’ve gathered my best advice for the newlyweds (and any couple) and compiled them here. Now, without further ado, and in no particular order, is the Recipe for a Happy Marriage.

1. Be honest about all the important stuff. Whether it’s who you want to spend the holidays with or what is really annoying you, it’s vital to own up to how you feel with honesty.
2. Don’t take each other for granted. Keep your spouse a priority in your life and show him/her how much they mean to you regularly.
3. When your spouse does take you for granted, take it as a compliment that your spouse thinks of you as a “given”, someone who will always be around.
4. Be romantic. It’s important to keep reminding each other why you fell in love and how you enjoy that part of your life together.
5. Be silly and laugh together. Laughter can get you through the roughest crisis, is great exercise, and just makes you feel good. If you can laugh together you can weather any storm.
6. Communicate. Really be present for your conversations. Listen and hear all that is being said to you. Talk about everything: your hopes and dreams, the parent/teacher conference debriefing, a work situation, and your needs. This is your partner, treat him/her as such.
7. Do things together. Make sure you cultivate the friendship in the marriage and try to have things to do you both enjoy doing together.
8. Do things apart. Make time to do things separately. It brings a new element to your marriage, gives you things to talk about, and adds an air of mystery to your relationship.
9. See each other as members of the same team working together. Stop thinking of yourselves as “he and I” or “she and I” but simply as “we”. You are separate entities, true, but when you are a family you must think of yourselves as one to make the best decisions for the union.
10. Have reasonable expectations. You’re not perfect and neither is he/she. Dream big but understand that small steps toward a large goal are fabulous just as small milestones are HUGE!
11. Tell each other what you’d like giftwise. Your partner is NOT a mind reader.
12. Prioritize regularly. People and situations change. Be sure to check in with what’s important for each of you periodically.
13. Love your children unconditionally, but always put your marriage first; it is the best gift you can give them and each other.
14. Flirt. Show your spouse how sexy, interesting, alluring, and fabulous you think he or she is. Keep the pilot light lit in your marriage.
15. Accept. We are all flawed. We chose our spouse for a reason, so accept the good with the bad.
16. Strive to grow, together. When we stop learning we stagnate and eventually die. Keep learning, growing, moving, and challenging yourself and the marriage. If one person in the marriage grows and the other partner doesn’t, the marriage could very well be doomed.
17. Make love even when you think you don’t want to. The more you do the more connected you feel, the happier you are, and the more you want to! Sex is not the most important thing in a marriage, but, if it is missing, it is a huge problem.
18. Kiss/hold hands/hug all of the time to maintain physical intimacy outside of the bedroom.
19. Do nice things just because. Start her car in the middle of winter to warm it up, make him a cup of coffee and bring it to him, clean the bathroom when it is not your turn, fill the car with gas so the other person doesn’t have to. So much to do to just be nice.
20. Really listen to one another – good, bad, scary, dreamy. Part of communication is the ability to listen.
21. Support one another’s dreams, hobbies, aspirations, and work.
22. Remember how you felt when you were infatuated with him/her.
23. Don’t criticize your spouse about how they do the laundry, drive the car, make the dinner, and/or care for the children.
24. Friend each other on Facebook and follow each other on Twitter.
25. Praise, cheer, and congratulate one another.
26. Hug, console, and let your spouse vent when need be. Don’t pass judgment or offer advice unless you’re asked.
27. Take pictures together. Be sweet, loving, and connected in the pictures then decorate your living space or at least your bedroom with these happy pictures of you as a couple. Update them often.
28. Cuddle – on the bed, couch, car, wherever and whenever the mood strikes.
29. Play games together. Don’t worry about who wins or who is better, simply enjoy the time spent together.
30. Keep the “spark” that ignited your passion for one another!

These thirty bits of advice are part of a subjective recipe for a Happy Marriage. As any good cook would do, take the parts you like, add a few ‘ingredients’ of your own, and keep these as guidelines. I wish William and Kate the best of luck as they embark on married life together. I hope these notions will be the best wedding gifts they have ever received!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Creature of Habit

We are creatures of habit. Sometimes, no matter the intentions, we fall back into old behaviors that leave us in a spot we thought or hoped we had evolved. Feeling proud and progressive one moment can leave us feeling frustrated and hopeless the next. But if we remember we are constantly changing, and that change can be one step forward and several steps back, we can learn to cling to our victories, however small, and accept our setbacks.
On vacation in Paradise, USA with my husband’s family has been wonderful so far. I can only assume and plan for it to continue to be. We are enjoying all the things I wrote about in the Simple Joys blog from Tuesday plus a whole lot more. From family meals to excursions into the city of Charleston for sightseeing and experiencing all the place has to offer, we are filling up the week with tons of activities and memories. All well and good, but things are never “perfect”. If you read me, know me, or understand my personality, you know I don’t believe in the negative. At one point in my life I did, but it never served me well. Since I’ve embraced the positive in life, life has improved exponentially. In short, I’ve changed so things around me have gotten better. Still, being human I have triggers that can pull me down to my “old ways” and get me into trouble. If you’ve vacationed with extended family (his, yours, hers, theirs, ours) then you know that as much joy as there can be, there is also a bit of angst as well. Everyone has opinions, someone is Alpha and that tees off the other Alphas. I just knew that I wanted to advocate for my family so that on our vacation, a rare part of our life now, we did exactly what we wanted to do, and my husband and I didn’t have to fight. Yes, as wonderful as we both are and as much as we love and adore each other, we argue. Fight, really. It seems to happen the most when we are around either person’s extended family. We nearly made it a whole twenty-four hours with the group without a fight. We were even complimenting each other about our nearly twenty-four hours without a fight when, of course, a fight broke out. It was something stupid. I think it was where to hang our five wet bathing suits. Passionate stuff! We bickered, it turned ugly for a few minutes, and there was a storm off. But, the “new me”, the one who is positive and has experienced personal growth, refused to give in to the habits of old, the ones that would have kept us angry for hours if not days. No, this would not do so I found my husband and worked it out quickly. Peace reigned. We had a great day yesterday (they’ve all been pretty great). We spent all day doing what we wanted in the city of Charleston. Gone for hours we had to rush to get home to allow me to get prepared to go on air with “Around the Cooler”, the radio show I do at WhooBazoo. We are sharing my husband’s laptop computer while we are away as I don’t have one. When we retrieved it to set up for the show the battery was nearly dead. My husband’s old behavior surfaced with accusations and rash anger. I listened to the words instead of the tone and saw it was actually concern for me that triggered the outburst, not any ill feelings toward me. He tried to egg me on to get me to fight with him. I refused and stayed neutral instead of reactionary. He calmed down, we talked about the situation, and we moved on quickly. But enacting the “new me” this vacation has stamped out two potential threats to our vacation happiness. And it’s not just the new me, but the new him, too! We’ve both worked hard on inner change. We both stumble, but find our way back on track in record time, now. Arguing… no, fighting will likely always be a part of our relationship. How we handle the fights, however, is vital. The habitual reaction of old is now starting to be replaced with healthier, calmer ones. We’re not perfect, enlightened, or preachy. We simply try, hard, to do better each day. That’s a habit we’re both proud to have.
This is the best family vacation I can ever remember. We are finally learning, after nearly 25 years together, how to maximize the opportunities we have to enjoy each minute on vacation and not squander it on petty, ridiculous arguments. I’m not belittling communication. Outbursts are the partner’s way to tell what is wrong and ignoring that is detrimental to the relationship; but listening, without judgment and defense, is the only way to clear up the situation before it escalates to an unmanageable level. We are indeed creatures of habit, but those habits can be altered if they aren’t healthy ones. I’m living proof!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simple Joys

It’s Tuesday which means Simple Joys here at Chief 187 Chatter. This week’s Simple Joys were not difficult to pinpoint; my family is on vacation and that equals Simple Joys abundance!

Road Trip. My in-laws live outside of Charleston, South Carolina at a gorgeous resort, in a lovely house, on a world-class golf course, and a stone’s throw from one of the Atlantic’s most family-friendly beaches. To reach their home from ours requires an approximate fourteen hour car trip. I have three children so an eight-hour trip is excruciatingly long; fourteen in one day is out of the question! Doing the trip with more manageable two day segments gave us much relief.

Going Home Again. So, we picked our former hometown of Salem, Virginia to stay. We met up with an old, dear friend and her son for dinner at the town’s most famous restaurant, Mac & Bob’s. Though it had been well over a decade since we’d last seen one another, it was like no time had passed at all. We settled into our familiar pattern of banter, fired questions at one another, and laughed easily with each other. Afterwards my husband took the children and me to our former home and grocery store! Memories surfaced, we reminisced which prompted my husband to look at me and say, “We’re old fuddy duddies”, but he smiled appreciatively when he said it! Seeing the place we lived where we were newly married and embarked on our life together happily endeared us to one another yet again. Those Simple Joys are strengthening.

Shrimp. I won’t beat around the bush, I enjoy shrimp. In the lowcountry of South Carolina shrimp are plentiful, sweet, and ever present. I’ve been eating shrimp every day in myriad ways. From buffalo shrimp tacos to peel and eat shrimp to shrimp on top of my tossed salad and shrimp and grits, I’ve been a very happy camper.

Generations. We are lucky enough to have my husband’s grandfather, both of his parents, his aunt and uncle, his cousin and her family, and our entire family together for a family reunion of sorts over the Easter weekend. Each time we plan another holiday, vacation, or event we feel so blessed to have the family assembled. Nobody knows how long anybody has, but jumping at every possible opportunity to get together for good reasons is worth the effort. Seeing my son talk to his great-grandpa, play with his cousins, and regale his grandparents with humorous stories provides a plethora of Simple Joys.

Beach. From building sand castles to frolicking in the Atlantic, from shelling to playing games, hanging out on the beach is always fun. I am a water person. Lakes may be my body of water of choice, but oceans with beaches provide a calm, enjoyment, and immense dose of Simple Joys whenever I get the opportunity to visit one.

Break in Routine. No matter where a vacation takes you (or staycation breaks the monotony of your schedule) it’s just a pleasure to do something different than normal. The daily grind gets halted, time slows down, and memories get made. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to get away, see beloved people, and simply change my pace of life and relax. Those are the Simple Joys I am gathering as I type. And, to stay in the throes of these Simple Joys, I am going to end this so I can continue to enjoy!

Looking forward to reading the Simple Joys that made your week all the better.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back in to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. During this holiday weekend perhaps you had ample opportunity to take a break to watch a movie. Whether it was in the theater or at home on the comfort of your couch, easy chair or bed, I hope the movie you decided on entertained and will make it on the appropriate spot on the Monday Movie Blog!
This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “P”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “P’. Remember to include a brief synopsis or review of the film as well as list any stars. As an additional topic, name any philharmonic that performed the score to one of your favorite movies.
Chief 187 Chatter has enjoyed a considerable boost in readership and pageviews in the past few weeks. As we recently celebrated the grand milestone of 10,000 pageviews, we are now on the cusp of 11,000 (and mine do not get recorded!). It is my sincere desire to continue to grow in readership so these blogs can reach an ever-growing population. I value all of you who tune in each day to see what Chief 187 Chatter has to offer. I continue to put my heart and soul into each entry as they are completely personal, yet, it seems, totally universal. With sincere appreciation, complete awe, and an on-going commitment to you all and this blog site, I salute you for your indispensible part of Chief 187 Chatter. Without your feedback, support, interest, and resonance with my words, this project may just have folded long ago.
I look forward to reading your responses, as I do daily, to this blog. Tomorrow I hope you will be able to return for Simple Joys, the weekly blog that showcases the small things that occur throughout my week that make me smile, give me pleasure, and carry me through the bad times we all experience. The more I open myself to the Simple Joys all around, the more of them I seem to experience. I wish this for all of you! See you tomorrow!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome in to Friday and the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. Offering original, fun, and mind-bending topics to lure you in and make you think about all of your favorite music, the Friday Music Blog is here to stay. It’s a terrific diversion!

This week’s focus, with a tip of the hat to spring, Easter, renewal, and the plethora of baby animals around, is songs with animals in the title. List any and all songs that have an animal mentioned in the title. Whether by species’ name or pet name, if a song is about an animal and denotes an animal in the title, include it on your list. I am so looking forward to all of the creative songs you all are bound to dig up for this topic!

This week I filed my eightieth (80th) blog of the year (2011), which is as many as I wrote in 2010 because I started in mid-September and wrote daily (minus weekends) through New Year’s Eve day. The winter, typically a time of inactivity and isolation, passed inordinately quickly and left me productive, invigorated, and networking like crazy! I couldn’t believe I’d matched the number of blogs as last year already, but realized we are nearly at the end of April with time flying at a record pace! I’ve been committed to putting out this blog faithfully, daily, and with strong, personal convictions, observations, and emotion. I reiterate that commitment and continue to honor it. I hope you will continue to join me on this wondrous journey that is LIFE and share laugher, Simple Joys, Tantalizing Thursdays, Monday Movie Blogs, and Friday Music Blogs alike. I’ll be here, won’t you keep returning?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome back in to Tantalizing Thursday at Chief 187 Chatter. Today is the second of a two-part Easter edition. Last week the ever-popular deviled egg was featured. Today the focus will be on the main meal. As I’ve revealed before, I am far better a meal planner than executor so I’ll be offering menus. The recipes and preparation methods can be found in your home recipe books or online at any of the myriad sites that are available. Sometimes the hardest part of entertaining is deciding what to make. Hopefully these suggestions will help.

Traditionally a large meal served at either mid-day or early evening marks many Easter celebrations. The easiest is to serve a large main dish with a few special side dishes and an ordinary meal becomes holiday-worthy.

Ham is a fantastic Easter dinner. Ham is relatively easy to prepare, feeds many, is usually liked by children, and is versatile when leftovers populate the fridge. I recommend serving ham, prepared according to package for heating/glazing instructions. Side dishes should vary from what you might have served at Christmastime. Asparagus is a great spring vegetable. Served steamed or smothered in Hollandaise sauce, asparagus heralds the beginning of spring. And even though swimsuit season is upon us, a cheesy potato side dish is divine with this meal. Want to cut some of the starch but keep the cheesy integrity? Substitute a head of steamed cauliflower for the potatoes and add cheese! Once again forgoing calorie-counting, pick up some biscuits or make your own and have those to serve with the ham; perfect leftovers for ham biscuits the next morning! Rethink salad and make fabulous coleslaw. Buy bagged slaw mix, a refrigerated jarred dressing, add blue cheese (or feta) crumbles and toss with a shake of celery seed. The secret is to not make the slaw too wet.

Lamb is another fine main meal to make for Easter supper. Find a simple yet pleasing recipe and make according to directions. Roasts are ideal, but if you are having a smaller gathering lamb chops are wonderful on the grill. Make sure the lamb is not overcooked so the meat is juicy. Serve mashed potatoes and carrots, mixed together, as a scrumptious side dish. Once again consider using fresh asparagus spears as a side as well. Perhaps baked tomatoes stuffed with cheese and topped with breadcrumbs and broiled would accompany this meal fittingly.

Turkey or chicken is another great choice for a holiday meal. Sweet potato casserole is fantastic or mixing the mashed potato and carrots is a good option here. String beans, steamed, are wonderful to green up the plate. Recreating Thanksgiving is not the goal with this meal; lighten up the amount of side dishes and take help with fresh ingredients whenever possible. Spring is about freshness. If fresh berries are readily available, sprinkle some in a whole berry cranberry sauce and mix. The cranberries look homemade with the addition of fresh fruit and even those who tend not to like cranberry sauce love this relish!

For you lucky people who have Italian food for each holiday, you certainly don’t need my advice. I just envy you all your pasta courses, seafood spreads, and bottomless glass of wine! Cheers to you all!

Whatever you make for Easter, I wish you all the most glorious of times spent with loved ones. The meal, of course, is not what gets remembered so much as the laughter, sweet faces, and good feelings that prevailed. Here’s hoping your weather is mild, sunny, and welcoming, your food is tantalizingly scrumptious and full of fresh, colorful ingredients, and your conversation lively and invigorating.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pack Rat, Hoarder, or Just Mom?

I’m admitting something today that I’m not pleased about. I save stuff. I don’t mean the regular stuff like my credit card receipts until the end of the month; I mean a lot of stuff. And I don’t know what to do with it anymore. It’s not that I want to have all of this stuff, but I keep thinking I’ll need it, or my kids will, or I’ll get rid of something and three months later my husband will ask me for it. Irrational? Yes. But that’s what goes through my mind. There are several categories so bear with me.

School papers. Starting with Nursery School a ream of paper seems to come home each week in the little book bag the little one carries. These are construction paper behemoths that contain cotton ball clouds or toothpick-formed letters. Maybe a few chicken scratch lines are etched on the page, but more accurately it’s the teacher’s neat handwriting that labeled the page for my child. But it’s my child’s. How can I throw it out, especially when he is as pleased as punch to have accomplished such amazing projects? With my oldest, anytime I tried to throw something away after the appropriate amount of time praising the piece and my child, tears would flood his eyes. Not easily manipulated, I took digital pictures of each work of art and showed him the file he could access “forever” so I could unload some of the lesser works into the circular file (read garbage can). But somehow I lost momentum and the pile of “need to be dealt with” papers has become the highest peak in my state of New Jersey! Especially with the addition of my second son’s papers the peak is now the highest in the East Coast! So, I ask the parents and the organizers who might offer some suggestions, how do I wrestle the papers away so I can reclaim the once-spacious place that is my home? It’s not that I am callous to my children’s feelings, but I know my now four-year-old will not care about his Nursery School papers when he is in sixth grade, high school, college, or on his Honeymoon! On the other hand, it physically hurts for me to throw some of these papers out: odd-looking Santa Clauses, snowmen, leprechauns, Jack-o-lanterns, etc. all hold a tiny piece of my heart as I know that the years will continue to march on and I’ll lose the innocence, wonder, and goofiness that is my four-year-old. As if by keeping the work I can capture his essence, smell, little body, and glorious honesty (“Mommy, you’re beautiful!”) that endears him to me daily. This tangible evidence that my child is learning, exists, and creates should be showcased on walls, put in a vault, or, at the very least, given it’s own shelf, But with three children and a home that does not expand at will, space is finite. I need to learn to stop equating the work with the child. Perhaps exploring the digital camera again is the answer. But pictures will never fully replace the tactile joy and memory-inducing thrill that is my children’s creations.

Personal items. My sentimentality knows no bounds. As is probably no surprise, I cling to artifacts from my own life as well. Cards from my late grandmother, letters from my husband from when we were courting all the way through every moment of our marriage, old photos that were so bad they never made it into albums but I cannot seem to throw away because the image of someone I love is on them. I’ve tried scrapbooking, but have gotten away from it in recent years simply because of the time factor and having the two younger children in the house who are demolition crews. But I save things like old drivers’ licenses, school Ids, and programs of shows I’ve seen. They tell a personal history that I feel will help spur the memories that age may one day rob me. I realize they are only important to me, and, one day, when I’m gone, my children will have to go through these items and do away with them, but I just can’t seem to do the job myself.

Magazines. Yes, I do. I save magazines. Sometimes it’s for a recipe, although I do know how to clip those out and file them, but usually it’s because of the pictures, advertisements, and feel they give me when I see them. Do I reread old magazines? Well, I used to, but now that I get so many, have three kids, and write around the clock, I really don’t see that happening, but, once again, it’s difficult for me to let them go. They are the unofficial textbooks of the era they represent. The styles, recipes, and celebrities tell the history of the date on the cover. As a historian I love going back to see the evolution of things as well as delight in the tradition that holds over year after year.

Baby clothes. If keeping my children’s schoolwork is important, keeping some of their baby clothes is, too. I have been good about giving away the clothes my babies have outgrown knowing I will not expand my family anymore, but there are still some outfits that I have an emotional attachment. I realize this is a bit crazy; attachments should be to people, not things. And intellectually I understand and wholeheartedly agree, but then I’ll hold one of my son’s favorite pajamas, an adorable sweatshirt, or one of my daughter’s dresses and I become an emotional mess. Knowing that other children will benefit from these clothes, like I have from hand-me-downs for my children, cheers me. I do donate items, share them with friends, and the like, but some items have yet to find their way out of my basement.

I know a majority of these things must leave my house before there is no room for my family and me. I realize it’s the people and memories that are important and not the things. I understand that by clearing out the clutter I’ll enjoy my living space all the more. I crave for my children to follow my lead with their toys if I model the proper mindset with my things, but I’m not quite there yet. I waited thirty years to start my family. The stuff has only been around a relatively short amount of time. I know I will summon up the courage to evict these things eventually, but, until then, I’m going to revel in the ownership of it all!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Simple Joys

Tuesdays are Simple Joys days. That doesn’t mean I only have Simple Joys on Tuesday, but it is the day to showcase all of them weekly. My life, crazy, hectic, busy, a bit out-of-control, and hard, is still full of Simple Joys. I believe it’s because I now am keenly aware of them that I find them much more readily. Last week I showcased an entire Simple Joys piece about my oldest child. That was a “special edition”. This week I return to the mold that encompasses all Simple Joys in my life across the board. I hope you will join me in not only reading my Simple Joys, but also writing or at least thinking of your very own. Like anything, finding your Simple Joys simply takes practice. The more you do it, the more attuned your become to it! Without further ramblings, here is this week’s Simple Joys.

The Zoo. Recently my family and I planned a day outing to a local zoo with our dear friends. A mild spring day was forecasted for this Saturday and we all played hooky from our children’s scheduled swim lesson to enjoy a day at the zoo. We had an amazingly fun, relaxing, and spirited good time. Walking the zoo gave us plenty of exercise, the children (and parents) delighted in the animals, displays, and information, and the reasonable rates made the day seem like a mini-vacation! Finding a few hours of great escapism in your own region is a wonderful Simple Joy.

Date Night. Finding time to date one’s spouse is very important. It keeps the focus on one another and not the children, the bills, work, or the house. Getting dressed like you did when you were dating, talking about your interests and getting consumed with one another without distractions is the goal. My husband and I had a date night this week. It had been too long since the last one. The whole day was filled with intense anticipation for our time away from our children and with each other. We actually had a double date with one of our favorite couples and it was a great way to just hang out and be “us”, not just “moms and dads”. We ate at a fine restaurant (not a prerequisite for date night as being together is the key, not how much you spend), laughed hard, and held hands. If you have lost track of your mate, plan a date night. Beg, borrow, trade for a baby-sitter, plan the day/night, and fall in love again with each other. It works, truly it does! And hey, falling in love with your own spouse again and again is, quite frankly, one of the grandest Simple Joys there is!

Karate. Although I am currently on a hiatus from Karate to care for my children at night, I still have a Karate family I care for deeply. This week four of these people went for their black belt. The test is private, arduous, sleep depriving, and hard and culminates in a line fight for each against a line of black belts. That portion of the test people are allowed and encouraged to attend to cheer on the candidates. It is a test of determination, wherewithal, and stamina. Giving up is not an option if one wants to earn their black belt. But the fighting is hard when a line of freshly rested, strong, and confident black belts literally beats on each candidate. My family and I go to cheer, encourage, cajole, and urge the candidates to keep going, not to give up, and to TAKE their black belts that they so richly deserve. Since my family joined the dojo in 2007, we’ve attended every line fight for black belt testing. We arrange our schedule to show our support, offer much needed encouragement, and expose our children to both the intensity of the test but also the compassion of those around. One day our children, and perhaps even my husband and I, will be taking the test to earn our respective black belts. It will give me immense pleasure to have the support from our dojo family. In the meantime, attending the black belt line fights is a Simple Joy.

Laughing. I love to laugh. Seriously, it’s a favorite pastime of mine! Finding people who can make me laugh, consistently, draws me to them and solidifies my friendship with them. My friends, the ones who we attended the zoo and shared date night, fit the bill brilliantly. When we are together I know I will wind up laughing so hard that tears spring from my eyes! I’ve had to give up my regular mascara for waterproof, as “raccoon” is simply not a good look for me. Funny individually, this couple, together, is comedic genius! Finding friends to surround yourself who are strong and supportive when need be, and make you laugh until your sides split and your mouth hurts from the act, that is one of life’s most special Simple Joys.

Dressing. I have two little boys and a little girl. I am passionate about all three of my children. I’ve delighted in making them dressed well over the years, finding handsome clothes for my boys designed in blues, greens, reds, khaki, and a rainbow of other colors. I found racecar shirts, puppies, trains, monster trucks, and a host of other novelty motifs that are so cute, cool, and fun. My boys like to be comfortable, look good, and have taken a great attitude about clothing, never eschewing a gift of clothing for Christmas or a birthday. But my world did change when my daughter arrived. Dressing a little girl is, for this woman, a very special treat. Pink, frills, ruffles, bows, details, and smocking are all part of my vocabulary and her wardrobe. Dresses, skirts, tutus, tights and Mary Janes (the classic shoe) populate her wardrobe and not only give me pleasure, but my eighteen-month-old daughter as well! She adores looking at, touching, and wearing clothes! She loves to put on beaded necklaces, Mommy’s bangle bracelets, and comb her (still) non-existent hair. Her favorite accessory is her winter coat. She wears it everywhere, including in the house! She whimpers and cries until it is put on her. She sashays around the house happily once it is safely around her, zippered up and buttoned! As spring temperatures (theoretically) begin to warm our region, I can’t help but wonder what she will do when the winter coat goes into storage?! I’ll have to introduce her to cardigan sweaters for her little dresses! The bottom line is, dressing my daughter has been an infinite supply of Simple Joys.

It saddens me for a moment to realize it is time to end the week’s edition of Simple Joys as I am so blessed to have an endless supply of them to write! But I quickly remember that there is always next week and that I get an equal amount of joy sending the article out to the public for consumption as well as reading about your Simple Joys. Have a wonderful week and please join me tomorrow as I send up another topic that I feel necessary to wax poetic.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome in to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. We continue on the alphabetical journey today by exploring movies that begin with the letter “O”. Please list any and all movies you enjoy that begin with the letter “O”. Be sure to give a brief synopsis or review of the film as well as list any of the major stars.

In addition to movies that begin with “O”, also include any “outrageous” summer blockbusters that you recall seeing. As next month heralds the start of summer blockbuster season, it is fun to recall the movies from summers’ past that were highly anticipated. Did the ones you saw measure up to the hype or fall flatter than my pancakes?

Please remember to return tomorrow for Simple Joys. It is an uplifting post that reminds us to constantly be aware of all of the good that surrounds us so we can be receptive to it. I urge you to read mine, but, more importantly, to create your own. Either post it or simply think it; whichever you chose will certainly give you pleasure remembering all of the things that added up to your Simple Joys for the week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. This week’s focus is about the songs you know by heart. The songs that, whether you love them or not, received so much airtime in their heyday (and beyond) that you can’t help but know all of the lyrics. These songs are probably decent or even great songs, but because they are overplayed they are not sought out much (by you) anymore, but when you hear them you cannot stop singing the song’s lyrics verbatim. Unlike last week’s topic, these songs are not the ones that have you leaving the room, changing the station, or gagging, but mindlessly humming, singing, and pantomiming the video you recall accompanying the hit.

Please list the song and the artist who made the selection famous. This topic is purely subjective and begs individual answers that fit; there are no right or wrong posts. The more responses the more entertaining this blog becomes. Feel free to leave your choices whether you’ve been answering them every week from the beginning of Chief 187 Chatter (Racer, Jules, and Art) or you are relatively new (Katy) or you just stumbled upon this blog today. Remember to tune back into this blog throughout the weekend and over the days/weeks to come as new entries appear all of the time!

I want to welcome and thank the influx of new readers and the interest of all of the Chief 187 Chatter readers of late. It appears new life has come to this little blog and infuses it with a burst of energy! If you like what you read, tell friends, recommend it to those you feel would benefit from what goes on in these pages. There are original postings five days a week every week at this site. I urge you to return each day to see what is happening here. Please follow me on Twitter; I am @Chief187s.

Looking forward to reading the responses to this Friday Music Blog topic and to meeting you all back here again as we embark on another new week of topics on Chief 187 Chatter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome in to Tantalizing Thursday, the first of two Easter editions. With the spring holiday upon us, a bevy of fresh produce, spring foods, and healthy options available, this post is meant to ease you into the Easter entertaining mindset. As with any time you entertain the appetizer sets the tone of the event. Today’s focus will be on a classic Easter or any time of year starter, Deviled Eggs. Whether on a formal Easter spread or taken to the neighborhood block party, deviled eggs always impress and quickly disappear. Perhaps you love them and do not have a recipe. Here is just one version. Feel free to post your own, offer tricks and tips to make the deviled eggs “perfect”, or simply take this one as your own!

Deviled Eggs
With directions attributed to the New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book 12th Edition copyright 2002 and
Chief 187’s own touches.

First, start with hard-cooked eggs.

Hard-Cooked Eggs

4 eggs
Cold Water

1. Place eggs in a single layer in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to just cover the eggs. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat (water will have large rapidly breaking bubbles). Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes; drain.
2. To try to avoid the greenish ring around the yolk that sometimes appears (and is harmless), place the eggs in ice water until cool enough to handle; drain.
3. Dye eggs once cool enough to handle following directions for the egg dye you’re using. Set out for Easter And/Or when ready…
4. To peel eggs, gently tap each egg on the countertop. Roll the egg between the palms of your hands. Peel off eggshell, starting at the large end.

Deviled Eggs

6 Hard-Cooked Eggs
½ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon vinegar (white)
Dash of dill pickle juice (to taste)
¼ cup finely diced dill pickles (optional)
Paprika or parsley sprigs (optional)

1. Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise and remove yolks. Set whites aside. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, pickle juice, and/or diced pickles; mix well. If desired, season with salt and black pepper. Stuff egg halves with yolk mixture. If desired, garnish with paprika or parsley sprigs.

Deviled Eggs can be served on a bed of lettuce on a dinner plate or on an “egg plate” with indentations for each egg white, but they are going to be gone so quickly it doesn’t matter how you serve them!

For variations, play with the yolk fillings or the garnishes. Use salad dressings, cheeses, olives, caviar, roe, asparagus tips, and any other ingredient that appeals to your taste buds to change up this go to staple.

Deviled Eggs are a great solution for what to do with all of the dyed eggs the Easter Bunny may have left at your home. Don’t save this recipe just for Easter. Keep it on hand for picnics, tailgates, tapas parties, fall/winter holiday dinners, and any time you want a treat.

Wishing you all a Happy Spring and, whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, a blessed one!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stay the Course

Sometimes, even with the best intentions, if is difficult to do the next right thing. There are temptations, diversions, and procrastination techniques that threaten to derail our goals. Whether weight loss, organization, or self-improvement of any kind, it is a daily or even hourly challenge to keep on the right track. We tend to fall victim to our regular patterns of behavior; the very ones we are trying to change. It can become a vicious cycle that leaves us tired, worn out, and, at times, hopeless. But with a renewed vigor, a strong sense of self, and a dedication to betterment, change can occur.

Over the years I have tried to improve myself. Some things stuck, many didn’t. But not until I decided to finally make myself a priority in my own life did the changes actually stick and evolution began. As with any metamorphous, change takes time, but the changes do occur and that leads to more incentive to stay the course. Taking time for oneself, however, is a hugely difficult thing to do, especially if you have a family. All else and everyone else seem to find a spot higher on the list than you. But if you are not fulfilled, healthy, or revered, then nobody else will be. I’ve tried to be a martyr; I failed. It did nobody in the family any good, I was miserable and that led to a miserable family life. By honoring myself, my needs, my health, and my aspirations I’ve been able to bring my best self forward to my family and to myself.

For me evolution began when I decided to exercise in the morning before other time pulls harkened. I wake early (something my husband taught me) and try to start my day working out, and then I write. These things do not always happen daily; too many times exercise has been put by the wayside so I can keep up with my burgeoning career, but I can feel my mood deteriorate if I neglect myself. What is different nowadays is I am conscious of the need to continue exercising, even if I’ve had a day or several off, so I can continue to improve. My writing is also a priority. I now write in dedicated times so I can keep up with the newer demands on my professional times. I am unwilling, at this point, to give up any of my writing commitments or my radio gigs. I will simply utilize my time in ever more efficient ways to keep up with everything. There are times I feel overwhelmed, but not by my career! I just want to make sure I continue to strike a balance between my family/home life and my work life. Fortunately I have a supportive family behind me!

I don’t have answers nor am I the best to offer advice. I just wanted to offer one woman’s perspective on the difficulties of self-improvement and the possibilities that abound when one dedicates themself to betterment. If you are struggling in your goals, try to stay the course. With time change will come. You’re worth it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Simple Joys

Tuesdays are now synonymous with Simple Joys at Chief 187 Chatter. A blog that started as a one off so moved my husband and inspired record pageviews as well as heartfelt responses has now morphed into a weekly mainstay. Simple Joys is, of course, utterly personal. Mine are on display for all to read. Yours are welcomed at this site, but even if you simply think of them because of this blog, I’m happy. That adds yet another Simple Joy to my life. Now, without another moment’s hesitation, is this week’s Simple Joys. In the interest of truth, it is important to note that all of the following events actually happened all in one day. Truly. I can’t fabricate this stuff. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Report Card. Ever since my son entered second grade he has been earning letter grades on his report card. And each marking period ‘report card day’ since the very first in this system has been a tense day. I have questioned my worth as a mother and a teacher when his grades fell short of the desired “straight A’s” that so many of his peers seemingly achieved effortlessly. Punishments were enacted when grades plummeted. The classroom teacher always prescribed extra work for home, something I was doing anyway. My son, always a people pleaser, especially for his mother, and who genuinely tried and wanted to do well, never complained about the extra work and was so disappointed and even shocked when his grades were less than stellar. My son earns very good grades; mostly B’s, a smattering of A’s and an occasional C. His handwriting, however, is atrocious. His hand muscles have always been week and his penmanship skills have always left a lot ot be desired. This affects his grades in Spelling, for example. He knows how to spell all of the words, but his letters are sometimes formed so poorly that the teacher is unable to give him credit for the word. This is frustrating for all involved:  child, teacher, and parent. We work together as a team to foster the best program for my son to succeed. Grades, we both understand, are not nearly as important as learning, yet a stigma is still attached to lower grades. Still, he and I both persevered to his needing supplemental help at home and I needing to be more accepting of his handicap. I continue to learn and accept that I’m not judged by how well my son performs at school and he continues to work hard each and every day, never giving up on himself. This week report cards were handed out citing the end of the third of four marking periods. Typically a time when grades are up for my son, I was concerned that his had fallen. I braced myself for whatever was to be written on the card. To my delight my son had worked consistently, improved in several areas, and had finally wrangled his weak hand enough to get decent handwriting more regularly. It was a very good report card.

Big Brother Responsibility. My oldest son is truly a delightful child. Although not without faults, he is the type of person I would seek out to be friends. As his mother I am often touched by his enormous capacity to love, his sensitivity to his familial role, and his desire to pitch in and help his father and I. After a relaxing period of play in the backyard with the neighbor children, it was time for the little children of our house to come in, as it is still cold in my neck of the woods. My son dutifully, without being asked, sent the two younger children in the house with the promise to clean up the outside toys and return them to the shed. Most eight-year-olds I know would never think to take on that responsibility themselves and would actually balk at having to do it while the other children came back to the house. My son thinks differently. We’ve raised him to help, but even I must admit that the child is intrinsically thoughtful, caring, and unselfishly helpful. He neither gets an allowance nor any other monetary/material reward for the chores he does around the house or with his siblings. He does them because he wants to be helpful. Later in the evening my oldest, after the many wonderful things he did to help me during the day, requested the next Simple Joy of my week.

Bedtime Stories. Among the struggles my son experienced from Kindergarten on was reading. He could do it, but he lacked confidence and struggled with the whole process at times. Like with handwriting, he never gave up and we’ve worked tirelessly reading. He reads to me, I read endlessly to him. He’s become a good reader. On that same night this week my son asked if he could read his baby sister her bedtime stories. I, of course, delightedly said yes. He sat in the glider in the nursery; the same chair I sat up and nursed all three of my babies. She sat in his lap, lovey in one hand, a toy in the other, and snuggled into his bony, gangly yet loving body. He read the first story, Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton, just like his father, in a funny voice that makes us all laugh and smile. The next book called Good Night, Charleston by Mark Jasper and Cooper Kelly, he read calmly and matter-of-factly, trying to keep his tone peppy and interesting. Lastly he finished with Time for Bed by Mem Fox, and read that in the most soothing, loving voice. He’d, of course, heard his father and I read these books countless times to himself, his little brother, and his little sister. His grown-up manner, attention to detail, and gentle, loving ways completely over-whelmed me. My baby was now taking his place as a caregiver, even if it was for only a few minutes here and there, he was able to assert himself into the role beautifully. It gave me a glimpse of the man he is to become and the wonderful father I hope and pray he will one day be able to be.

Laundry. On the same night, after reading to his sister and helping his little brother get ready for bed, this boy helped me sort the freshly dried laundry. His brother and sister help me with this chore normally, as he had once did as a younger child, but now he’s usually gone when the task is at hand. This night he wanted to help sort the socks. He did a great job! Among the socks was one of his father’s handkerchiefs. Identifying with his father he asked to have it. I one-upped that request. I presented the boy with a box of his very own white handkerchiefs to keep with him; enough to carry a new one each day of the week. He was as thrilled as if I had given him a new toy! He’s sweet on a young lady whose parents we see socially often. Thinking of all of the ways he could utilize the handkerchief as a “gentleman” kept his eyes gleaming and my heart swelling.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the child has his detractors. His temper can flare, he’s talkative, and unable to stay focused at times. He can be argumentative and often resides in a bit of a strange fantasy world. Still, he is, without a doubt, the nicest child I have ever met and owns a special spot in my heart as the boy who made me a mommy. Watching his growing pains coupled with the elegant man trying to emerge over time is a daily Simple Joy.

I cannot apologize for a blog solely about my oldest child. He is a source of infinite Simple Joys. Other joys filled my week and they will get mentions at a later date, but a night like this, a perfect pearl of a day with a boy I adore, was worthy of the entire blog.

Watching TV with light saber in hand

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Monday is here heralding the return of the Monday Movie Blog. If you are like me you are told by friends and family about movies you should rent, can’t miss, and are crazy for not having seen yet. I try to keep a notebook, scrap of paper, or napkin available for times when these movie titles are unsolicitedly heaped on me, but I invariably end up losing that “master list”. By creating this resource on Chief 187 Chatter, I am organizing all movie suggestions into one convenient location. To access it my friends, family, and you kind readers, need only come here to these Monday Movie Blogs that create an undeniably valuable resource of the best movies in alphabetical order.

This week the Monday Movie Blog is up to letter “N”. Please list any and all of your favorite movies that begin with the letter “N”. Include the stars who appear and a small synopsis or review. The more information given, the better the resource becomes.

I urge you to check back to this blog throughout the day and any of the Monday Movie Blogs for when you are stymied about which movie to rent/watch. Using the search feature at the top right-hand corner of this page, simply type in “Monday Music Blog” and the blogs should be available in one easy glance.

I invite you all to join me tomorrow for Simple Joys. By far the most moving, up lifting, and enjoyable of my week of blogging topics, Simple Joys is garnering a following all of its own. Read mine, create your own, share them all, and revel in all that is good in the world.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back in to Chief 187 Chatter and the Friday Music Blog. I love this feature, as it is the doorway to the weekend. The weekends offer times to unwind, see friends, relax, and do things we want to do, not always the things we have to do during the school/work week. Wishing you a weekend filled with all of your favorite pursuits. Now, on to today’s Friday Music Blog focus.

Music is a unifier, a relaxing tool, an agent to inspire pep, and myriad other things, but music can also wreak havoc with your brain. There are those songs that no matter where you are, what you are doing, the song irritates like nothing else can! These songs seep into your consciousness and rattle your otherwise calm demeanor and insight violence! The music goes up your spine, hurts your ears, and brings the onset of a killer headache. Whether bubblegum pop anthem, hard rock/metal ‘noise’, or Broadway gems, some songs just rub people the wrong way. What are the songs that annoy, irritate, nauseate, and otherwise burn you up? The songs that make you change the station, leave the room, or go on the rampage? Like the proverbial fingernails on the chalkboard, what songs can you simply not tolerate?

I want to welcome and thank all of the Chief 187 Chatter readers for their support. We gained more new readers and reached a tremendous milestone:  10,000 pageviews! It is a gratifying and glorious feeling to know that the ideas, topics, and subjects that are important to me, resonate with you. I look forward to watching the rest of the year unfold and the pageviews rise. I also want to offer my Twitter ID for you all to feel free to follow my Tweets:  @Chief187s (please note the final “s”). Start following my Tweets now!

I encourage you all to visit the site over the weekend to catch up on topics you may have missed, look at the archives, find a movie title, try a new recipe, or simply enjoy a quick read. I hope to see you all back here on Monday as we begin a fresh new week of blog topics here at Chief 187 Chatter. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Thursday is one of my favorite days because it butts up to the weekend and gives us all hope that there is light at the end of the workweek tunnel. My mood is elevated, my hopes are lifted, and the expanse that is weekend is laid out for me to see and anticipate. I particularly enjoy the unhurried pace of the weekend when more homey dinners can be prepared, friends have time to break bread with you, or “traditional” meals are replaced by fun noshes that break the monotony of weekday life. Tantalizing Thursday has offered both main meals and the fun foods. This week’s will focus on bringing fast food favorites into the home kitchen offering a satisfying fix with healthier and more reasonable benefits.

Not so much recipes but tips that mimic the kids (and your) must-have fast food staples.

Fan of Ronald’s Big Burger Special Sauce? Open a bottle of Thousand Island Salad Dressing. Not gourmet enough? Mix mayonnaise, ketchup, and dill pickle relish until desired thickness/taste. Serve on your favorite sized burger and bun. Add shredded lettuce to make the burger more authentic.

Craving French Fries?
Prepare frozen French fries according to package directions. Season with salt, garlic salt, seasoned salt, or taco seasoning to give them life once they are hot!

Enjoy Kentucky-Style Chicken for frying?

Coating Mix

3 cups self-rising flour
2 (1-serving) envelopes instant tomato soup mix
2 (1 ½ ounce) pkgs. Italian salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag; shake to mix. Use as needed.

6 chicken pieces
½ cup Coating Mix
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse chicken pieces with cold water.
Coat with Kentucky-Style Coating Mix. Coat twice for crispy chicken.
Place in baking pan. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Brush with mixture of oil and water several times during baking.

Serve with mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw, and biscuits!

Super Thick Shake your passion?

4 scoops of your favorite ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry work great)
2 tablespoons chocolate or strawberry syrup
¼ cup milk

Blend on high until desired consistency (thick, creamy). Have straws with wide openings on hand and tall frosty glasses in which to serve these luscious shakes.

Fast food can be done easily at home with ingredients you typically have on hand. It’s a nice break from ‘regular fare’ and still more economical and healthier than eating out.

I hope you enjoy these tips! Let me know what your results were like!

Join me tomorrow for the Friday Music Blog when we rock our way into the weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Circle of Life: Turnings

I had a completely different topic ready to run today, but I shelved it because I found this to be a far more pressing topic. A dear friend of mine lost his father this week. The man had led a long and happy life. His children and wife were around him and he had gotten to know his grandchildren who are now adults. Whereas I don’t mourn for the life that is lost as he is now free from pain and finally at rest, I do feel saddened for the many lives he left behind. No matter how old one is, how complicated a relationship may be, losing a parent, I can only guess, is heart-wrenchingly sad.

I am inordinately close with my parents. We speak several times a week, I share my accomplishments and my fears with them, and I rely on them for support. In recent years I have filled the role of keeper of the hearth; I host Christmas, birthday parties, and dinners at my home because they no longer live in the area. Now I am the mother, homemaker, and hostess. Sometime, when I wasn’t really paying attention, I have usurped my mother’s role and she is reaping the rewards of just showing up! My father and I speak even more often. He has embraced technology including cell phone use, email, and Facebook as well as following my many writing sites via my website They are both proud of me but also relieved that my life is sorted out; I am fulfilling my destiny and my place in the Circle of Life. As devastated as I know I will be when I will one day lose my parents, I am bracing myself. I am in somewhat of a dress rehearsal; by raising my family, taking on the duties of the hearth, and taking on the more dynamic starring role in my life, I am conscious that my job will consist of having to move on to be there for my children. Before I had children I thought losing my parents would destroy me. No one likes to think about these situations, but they do exist. Now I know that by having my children, and, frankly, growing up, I am certain that as horrendously sad as it will be, I will be strong.

Familial relationships are complicated, entangled, and frustrating. We did not choose our family, we just are. So, no matter that siblings were raised by the same parents, personalities, beliefs, and values are many times completely polar opposite of one another. What losing a loved one does, however, especially a parent, is put into perspective the pettiness that can drive us apart. We may never agree so we must agree to disagree. We may have past hurts, but to keep us apart without talking only hurts us and solves nothing. We cannot change people but we can change how we react to people. Many show outpouring of regret when a loved one passes, but I suggest not waiting until death reunites. Fix what’s wrong. Move on. Be better equipped to handle. And be thankful there is someone to whom you are related in this world. Parent or sibling, these relationships are paramount to creating healthy relationships outside of the family.

Two summers ago my husband’s grandmother turned ninety. I was pregnant with my daughter and we were suffering financial difficulties. Taking time off and affording the trip to Iowa (where she lived) seemed astronomical and unnecessary. When my husband and I discussed the matters we took the following approach. We realized that we’d rather put the time, money, and effort to see Grandma at this joyous, celebratory time, than to have to do so for a funeral and have regrets about not seeing her during happy times. We went. Three months later, a couple of days after our daughter was born, Grandma passed. We were saddened, but, like my friend I wrote about above, she had led a full, happy life. She’d met her grandchildren and even four of her seven great-grandchildren (she saw pictures of my daughter for several days before she succumbed). Her death was sad. The family gathered sans my children and me, as I couldn’t travel to Iowa with a newborn. I was so very grateful we had gone to celebrate during the summer and my last memories of Grandma were of an ecstatically happy woman.

No one knows how much time they have. These two senior citizens I’ve written about were blessed to have led such long, wonderful lives. The ideas I take away are to take every opportunity to spend time together, don’t let disagreements run rampant and define the relationship, and make time for the celebrations; they make the sadness more bearable when you are left to go through it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simple Joys

Tuesdays have become my unofficial favorite day of the week. Simple Joys, the post I write every Tuesday, is the reason why. Each week I list the most important joys I experienced since the last week. Sometimes they are as silly as food I’ve enjoyed (pizza to sushi, chocolate to Chinese food) to as strongly sentimental as time spent with my children. No matter what the topics and how unique they are to me; the point is to find the Simple Joys that surround us and be receptive to them. There is much negativity in the world and it is far too easy to succumb to it; I choose instead to rise above and look for the best the world offers me daily. It has made a world of difference in my general outlook as well as my health. Without further ado, here is this week’s Simple Joys.

Planetarium. Last week my eldest child and I went on a “date” to the planetarium with the Cub Scout Pack we belong. I am his Den Leader and he is a Bear Scout (3rd Grade). The planetarium is located in the local community college and is quite spectacular. My son had been studying the solar system in science recently so this was a highly anticipated field trip. Recently renovated, the planetarium now features full, three-dimensional views of the universe as well as virtual space travel – they can fly to any planet or star in the Milky Way and see what our universe looks like from their surfaces.  From identifying constellations to exploring each of the individual planets, we were treated to a fantastic journey through space. The astronomer who directed our “tour” was charismatic, funny, and able to captivate his young audience. The woman who assisted by running the program via computer was phenomenal as well, hitting her marks expertly every time. It was the best date my son, who insisted on sitting with his mom on one side, and I had been on in a long time!

Radio. In February I started a stint on Internet radio at one of my sites where I blog, I had never worked in radio before so it was truly trial by fire. I work with three men (Young men? Boys? – Curtis, Bill, and Eric) who talk about sports, many sports, in a program called “Around the Cooler”. I was asked to join them so I could share my knowledge of NASCAR. I was tickled and found I truly enjoyed the work. Recently our tech guru who works at each of the sister stations heard me. He recommended our show’s cast join the cast of another site’s sports show. We are scheduled to be on that show this week! Working on Internet radio is such a joy; working on two programs will hopefully multiply that joy exponentially!

On-line Friends. Several days ago I made some new friends through a fan site on Facebook. I was researching a story for the NASCAR site I write at It was about Richard Marx singing the National Anthem at the Fontana race in California. I met some lovely people at Richard Marx’ fan site and have quickly found some wonderful new friends! I wasn’t expecting this so I feel the windfall all the more! I’ve also been accumulating new friends through Twitter and Facebook! Off line friends are still and always will be valuable and vital to me in my life, but many of my on-line friends become off line ones! And, even though there are many on-line friends I have never met, we are still so very close! I adore my on-line friends! Cheers to all of them and their importance in my life!

#Winning. A colleague and friend (currently only on-line, but that will change one day) posted a link on her Facebook page to a site called Custom Jewelry by Tammy. The link stated that if a person were to “like” the page and leave a comment, they would be entered to win a NASCAR necklace, a beaded beauty that was done up in NASCAR racecar driver Kevin Harvick’s colors (red, black, white) and sporting a “29”! Being a jewelry and NASCAR fanatic I jumped at the chance to enter! Only a few days later I was informed the necklace was mine; I had won! I am beside myself as I have never been overly lucky in gambling/winning items. My luck turned around considerably as not only did I win an awesome necklace, I made a contact with a business I believe in! Custom Jewelry by Tammy will now be featured on my sideboard under the “What I Love Online” headline.

Alarm Clock. For Valentine’s Day my husband treated me to an iHome for my iPod; I can use the iPod as an alarm clock now! From the beginning my husband unknowingly to me would choose the song I would be awakened. It never dawned on me that he was programming the individual songs and I would marvel that “I Don’t Like Monday” by the Boomtown Rats would play to start my week. Eventually the song choices were too uncanny and I questioned him. He laughed heartily and admitted he was the mastermind. He still takes time each night while I’m readying myself for bed (I take far longer than he) to handpick a song for me. That, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the small but meaningful ways he shows me the depth of his love for me. That Simple Joy is priceless.

Thank you for reading about my Simple Joys. It is my sincere hope that by reading about my Simple Joys you will be more attuned to the Simple Joys around you. It is always my pleasure to read the Simple Joys you have collected this week. Please feel free to leave them below.

Please join me tomorrow when I wax poetic about the topic du jour! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome to a new week and the Monday Movie Blog! We are at the halfway point of our alphabetical odyssey through the best movies we have seen. As we continue to list our favorite movies, the resource has grown providing a terrific bank of titles to choose. It is fascinating to read about classic movies, silly comedies, futuristic dramas, romantic turns, and sports genres. There is literally something for every movie lover on the ever-growing queue and will only improve with the more who participate!

This week’s letter is “M”. Please list any and all movies you have seen and enjoyed that’s title begins with the letter “M”. Remember to include a short list of the stars and a brief synopsis or review of the picture as the more information the better.

As an added topic, please include any and all of your favorite “M”usicals to the list; please make sure they are movie musicals. They can be from any year as long as they are musicals and are movies. So, to reiterate, list movies that begin with the letter “M” as well as your favorite movie musicals.

Please check back to this and all of the previous Monday Movie Blogs to use as a handy reference when you are at a loss at what to watch. This resource is to be used and appreciated! Please feel free to leave your selections whether you have commented at Chief 187 Chatter before or not. All well-meaning posts are welcomed and appreciated as long as they are on topic.

I hope you can join me again tomorrow for my favorite post of the week, Simple Joys. Wishing you a good start to your week. Thank you for joining me and making Chief 187 Chatter a part of your day!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back in to the Friday Music Blog! Like the Monday Movie Blog, this feature has two purposes; to entertain and to create a resource of the best music we collectively enjoy from every genre imaginable. I urge and encourage you, whether you have ever replied to one of my blogs here at Chief 187 Chatter or not, to think of your favorite music selections to this week’s topic and post them as a comment below!

Today’s focus for the Friday Music Blog is songs that were ahead of their time, misunderstood by the society and thus under appreciated for their greatness. Completely subjective, any song can be argued as long as you leave those arguments. Mozart and his “too many notes”, The Beatles, Frank Zappa? You list the artist and his/her work and give a small ‘case’ for why their music was not received correctly because they were more advanced than their audience. Educate us on these acts that were so revolutionary, talented, and sidestepped because they didn’t fit the mainstream.

I want to thank the influx of readers who have been joining me this past week. It is a pleasure to see the numbers swell. I welcome each and every one of you who takes a moment of your day to check in with Chief 187 Chatter. I would write this for me alone, as I’ve often stated, but having a readership, especially as kind and supportive as you all, makes this experience all the more joyful.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, a Happy April Fool’s Day, a warmer month ahead, and more chances to interact here at this site. I’ll look forward, as always, to reading your responses to this prompt, and invite you to check back throughout the weekend to this blog or any of the blogs you may have missed this week or in the past. I then remind you to join me back here on Monday to begin a whole new week at Chief 187 Chatter! Cheers!