Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187 Chatter. What’s fun about this post is going with my whims of what sounds and tastes good. From salads to desserts and everything in between, many different recipes have been featured. This week I’m showcasing a dip that was brought to my house for a recent party. My dear friends brought the dip and the recipe so I am able to share it with all of you.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Recipe acquired by The Natales


2 (12.5 ounce) cans chicken breast (I used Kirkland {Costco brand} & rough chopped it)
2 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup Frank’s Buffalo Hot Sauce
½ cup (liquid measure) Marie’s Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and bake in an 8”x 8” casserole at 350 degrees until bubbly, approximately 20 minutes. Recipe can easily be doubled, simply put in larger casserole. Serve with Tostitos Scoops tortilla chips or other hearty dipper.

This dip was a huge hit at the party and looks so easy to prepare! I recommend using a good quality canned chicken breast and, if you plan to go lighter on the cream cheese, to use a low fat and not a fat free variety. For more tang, try an extra sharp cheddar cheese.

If you make this recipe, please let me know. If you have other dips to share, please feel free to do so here. If you are looking for other recipes featured on Chief 187 Chatter, please type in “Tantalizing Thursday” in the “Search” feature located in the upper left hand side of this page.

Please help me send this week and this month off with the Friday Music Blog tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Marriage isn’t easy in fact it’s tough. As the studies consistently show, half of all marriages end in divorce, and those that don’t are the marriages where the couples roll their eyes and wait for death to part them. Is marriage really so terribly miserable, difficult, and hopeless?

As a child I got a lot of my cues about life from television. My parents, happily married, certainly could wrangle up a few arguments a year, but for the most part were contentedly hitched. So television gave me other views of matrimony. From I Love Lucy to The Brady Bunch, Newhart to Family Ties, I immersed myself in TelevisionLand trying to understand the nuclear family and my place in a one-day marriage. Lucy and Desi fought, but they usually found common ground by the end of the half hour. Mike and Carol Brady were so happy to have found a mate in one another after their respective spouses died that they always seemed very appreciative of one another. They didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but marital discord was not a major theme in that show. Bob Newhart used his wickedly dry sense of humor to interact with his TV wife Joanna. And the Keatons on Family Ties were so in love that on a very rare episode when they fought or struggled, I’d get physically sick about it! As I grew up, television couples, no matter how cute they were when the show premiered, became cynical and ended their once-happy unions. As a young married woman I loved watching Mad About You and could identify with some, not all, of their trials and tribulations. I was absolutely distraught, however, to learn that the writers had the couple divorce for the series’ finale. Two people who were so in love wound up divorced albeit fictional people on television. Were there no happy endings even in TelevisionLand? Is marriage obsolete?

As I grew, I witnessed more true-life events; friends’ parents divorcing, my parent’s friends divorcing once their children became adults, and those who chose not to marry at all. It was all enlightening and at the same time quite confusing. I married young for my generation. I was twenty and my husband twenty-three when we tied the knot some eighteen and a half years ago. By then we’d been together more than six years. By all means we shouldn’t make it. We were children when we got together. Most believed we’d grow apart and divorce before our fifth year anniversary. We hit hazardous road bumps along the way. We suffered tragedies and heartbreaks, yet we still remain committed in our marriage. We have epic arguments and disagreements. We have different interests at times, but we try to maintain some that are the same; common bonds to connect us. Still, there is no fairytale ending. We work hard, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, to keep our marriage intact. And, as much as we love one another, it is vastly difficult. It is easy to see how some with less history, less commitment, and less passion simply part ways after saying “I do” because it is easier to do so than compromise, change, and work things out.

Marriage is ebb and flow, great passion and great anger, getting along and fighting, spending time together and rarely speaking. If done right these aspects can all be incorporated into a marriage without the marriage being in any danger of ending. But the work is making time to communicate. To stand up to hurt feelings and get passed them. To trust in the love and loyalty of one’s mate. Couples are, after all, two independent people who decide to share a life together, and, in some cases, raise children together. The expanded family offers even more opportunities for stress, lack of communication, and hurt feelings. For marriage to endure, priorities must be set that keep the marriage healthy and intact. Compromise, meeting halfway, and connecting are all vital for marriage to survive and indeed thrive.

I’m no expert nor do I portend to be. I am merely someone who has been in a monogamous relationship for the last quarter century. I am someone who reads a lot, listens a lot, asks a lot of questions, and values her marriage above all else, yes, including the children. That doesn’t mean they aren’t priorities, because they most certainly are in their dependent years. But I know I am raising them to leave home with the understanding that when they leave my husband and I will still have a thriving relationship. That is a relationship that is tended to throughout the children’s lives, not only once they’ve left the nest. And, like the rest of you I presume, I fall far short of the ideal. I make mistakes, usually the same ones over and over again. I take my spouse for granted. I forget to communicate, and I become unbalanced. But instead of throwing in the towel when confronted with strife, I am working toward fixing the problems, working in tandem with my spouse to get back on track. I will not be a statistic. I will not let "writers" or anyone else deny my marriage a chance to grow and endure. I am a part of a couple, a married couple, and I intend to stay that way. Others may be disillusioned by marriage, but I know I’m better as us. There aren’t many who will make their fiftieth or higher anniversary between people who marry later in life and those who simply give up. My husband and I have a great shot making those milestones as we married young and simply don’t give up on each other or the marriage. Difficult to be married? Yes. Frustrating? Absolutely. Highly rewarding and worth every downside? You betcha. I choose marriage.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys, the most popular post at Chief 187 Chatter and the most uplifting blog of any week. There are times that even I find it difficult to stay positive all of the time; I’m human. Even though I had started a list for this week’s piece, my life can be stressful, difficult, and frustrating leaving me in a pickle as to how to gear up to write this anticipated post. What helps me, though, is trying to concentrate on all of the good that has occurred since last week to snap me out of the funk. So now, without further ado, is today’s Simple Joys.

End of the School Year. It’s arguably the best day of the school year – the last! My third grader came home with a report card and a pencil box (all of his workbooks, notebooks, and artwork came home earlier in the week) and… was weepy. He earned an awesome report card and was most certainly promoted to the fourth grade, but his heart was a bit heavy. This is my child who is very sensitive and felt an attachment to his teacher who worked above and beyond her contracted day to offer guidance, assistance, drills, skills, and help to provide the most opportunities for my son to grow and succeed. She was firm, challenging, yet nurturing and kind. He, in his heart, knew that not all teachers will be as wonderful. “I’m going to miss her,” he cried as he threw himself into my arms before the bus pulled away. He moped around for about an hour, but snapped out of his funk after lunch. Still, I know we were so lucky to have had this teacher, and, quite frankly, I was a bit sad, too. Fortunately, we both resumed our excitement for the glorious summer sprawled out before us! Summer is ripe for Simple Joys!

Belt Promotion. My four-year-old son earned a belt in Karate. He tested and a few days later was awarded his belt during a special ceremony where he got to perform some basic skills as well as his Kata (choreographed fight sequence). He was so wide-eyed and excited and showed no signs of being ill-at-ease as he’s been doing this for over a year now. Seeing my son shine in something he loves to do is certainly a Simple Joy!

Time Alone with One Child. With the summer schedule in place, my husband was able to take the boys out one evening without worrying about early bedtimes, so I was left to spend some quality time with my daughter, a rare occurrence for us. She reveled in having Mommy’s undivided attention and squealed with delight while we played bubbles on the back deck. I’d blow the bubbles and she would chase and stomp them! At one point, about a half hour into our game, I put the bubbles down and tried to engage her in another activity. She climbed up on a chair, then onto the table where the bubbles were located, and handed them to me petulantly! Without speaking the child got her point across loud and clear! Finally, after a few more minutes of bubbles, she tired of the game. I pushed her on her swing, gave her a fun (bubble bath) and kissed as I placed her in her crib. It was a night filled with Simple Joys!

70th Birthday Party. My mother turned seventy at the end of last month. Since she was still in Florida we were unable to celebrate properly together. I had told her that my gift was going to be a party at my home where she could invite whomever she wanted to celebrate. This delighted my mother who enjoys a good party! At first her list was rather endless, as my mother has made friends throughout her life. But, upon closer inspection she realized that with too many people present she wouldn’t be able to talk to everyone. So, she whittled the list down to 3 couples that she enjoys immensely. Three of the friends she has known for nearly forty-five years, when they were all neighbors in a new development, raising children, playing bridge, and throwing neighborhood parties. The other friends were more recent in her life but no less important! She laughed, talked, ate homemade food (no need to cater a small affair), and cavorted for hours at my home surrounded by these dear friends. It was a beautiful thing to see friendship that has endured throughout the decades; it was comfortable and well loved with no pretense or excuses. It was also awesome to see the strength of the newer friendships, equally as potent if not as aged. Seeing my mother surrounded by her friends, taking in the day, and truly enjoying every moment offered me a very sweet and powerful Simple Joy!

Bowling Party. My boys were invited to a Bowling Birthday Party. It was their first time bowling that had nothing to do with a Wii Remote! Watching them deal with the heft of the ball and launch it noisily and clunkily down the lane was a bit painful and a heck of a lot of fun! It had been so long since I’d been to a bowling alley I didn’t realize they had lanes with bumpers, presumably for novice bowlers (kids) who don’t have to suffer gutter ball after gutter ball. My four-year-old was able to produce a strike and two spares in his first game and tied an eleven-year-old for second with a score of 96! The boys enjoyed the game so much they want me to take them back so they can “get good” at playing! You betcha!! And next time Mom is going to get to play, too! Bowling for real is a Simple Joy we all would like to explore more of in the near future!

As is usually the case I find myself stopping before my list of Simple Joys is exhausted. Even in a week where my stress levels were higher and some of my relationships were tested, I was able to find my Simple Joys. Simple Joys are powerful if you open your heart and mind to them. They are there for the finding/taking; you just need to keep searching for them. Wishing you all a day and week filled with Simple Joys!

Please join me tomorrow for a whole new topic for me to wax poetic!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back to the Monday Movie Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. Our alphabetical odyssey is winding down. Since January we have been going letter by letter naming our favorite movies. This week’s letter is “Y”. Please list any and all movies you enjoy that begin with the letter “Y’. Please list any stars of note and remember to include a brief synopsis or review.

To access any of the previous Monday Movie Blogs, simply type “Monday Movie Blog” into the “Search” box in the upper left hand corner of this page. The archived Monday Movie Blogs should all appear. Feel free to add selections to older topics. Remember to utilize this resource, as that is its intended purpose.

Please join me tomorrow for Chief 187 Chatter’s most uplifting blog of the week, Simple Joys. I thank you for spending time with me and appreciate your visit.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Charlie Rader

With eyes twinkling Charlie Rader takes you in and hypnotizes you. As sultry as a night in the bayou, Charlie Rader’s classic, hard-body good looks lull you into a superficial feeling of lustful fantasy. And then, in a flash, the twinkle vanishes and is replaced by a deadly stare, the eyes of a predator who has narrowed in on its prey. This is Charlie Rader.

Charlie Rader came to national attention during Season 13 of the popular reality series The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 on Spike cable television that concluded on June 4, 2011. During filming Charlie Rader’s life was in constant turmoil as he is embroiled in a fierce custody battle for his five-year-old son. A costly situation that dictates every move he makes in his career, it did not allow Charlie to perform at the highest level needed to take the title.
Causing the most furor were remarks made by fellow contestant and ultimate winner Tony Ferguson who, during a drunken rant, verbally abused Charlie Rader for so long that it contributed to Tony Ferguson’s unpopularity with some fans and gained Charlie even more respect for not “destroying Tony so close to the final”. Among the hurtful things Tony Ferguson said was an invalid remark that Charlie Raider does not provide child support for his son. This is false. A subsequent apology on the last day of filming followed with Dana White, one that Charlie Rader accepted, but now there is nothing Charlie would rather do than step into the cage with Tony Ferguson to prove that he belonged in the competition and he could be a worthy opponent to Ferguson. “It will never be 100% over in my heart or my mind until we can fight in the cage. For me in my heart it has to happen. “I don’t think Tony was 100% sorry. The editing on the show, had it not happened, would have made Tony look 1000% times worse. He was so drunk he kept saying I wasn’t being his friend and he tried to push me over a few times. I kept telling him I was going to show him what kind of a friend I am but not letting him ruin his chances with the finale. I was upset about my horrible performance on the show and then I was thinking if I had won the show I would have had enough money to get my son back.”

Charlie Rader was raised in Chalmette, Louisiana right outside of New Orleans since he was about 5 years old through high school and up to about age 21. According to Charlie, “Chalmette was a very small city, everybody knew everybody, which was sometimes good and sometimes had its disadvantages. Since it’s such a small place the people are born, live, and pretty much die there. A lot of people do not go on to bigger and better things. That’s not a bad thing. It’s basically a lot of people who go shrimping and fishing.” It wasn’t the easiest childhood for Charlie. It was a rough time growing up with divorced parents who, “did a bad job putting me in the middle when it came to, ‘Where do you want to live?’ They put a lot of pressure on me, which really helped me grow up fast. It made me who I am today.”

As a young man Charlie Rader struggled with anger and acting out. While in middle school the wrestling coach noticed Charlie and “pressured me into checking out a wrestling seminar”. Coach Ballentine told Charlie’s mother that wrestling would “calm him down”. That’s all it took. Charlie wrestled all through Middle School and High School.
“Wrestling kept me grounded,” Charlie Rader explained. “Chalmette was a small place with not a lot to do, which means people could get into trouble a lot. Instead of going out to the parties and drinking and drugging, I was at wrestling tournaments that kept me focused. Wrestling allowed for release (of anger) in a controlled setting.” Charlie enjoyed and was a natural at sports like baseball, football, and rugby, but the seasons for those sports were short whereas wrestling was a full time sport; it was year round.

It wasn’t until his early twenties, living in Metairie, Louisiana, Charlie Rader became introduce to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). “MMA wasn’t talked about or really popular around here,” Charlie reminisced. “ My sister and her friends were interested and got me involved. I was helping a friend train for an event in two weeks. That night of his fight was my first fight; I wasn’t training or anything.” I inquired what Charlie’s nerves were like on that fateful night he stepped into the cage for the first time. Charlie supplied, “ It’s very easy to get into the cage once because you don’t really know what to expect; it’s kinda exciting at the same time. It was actually the worst experience of my life!” Charlie suffered a broken hand that night. As the next four years unfurled, Charlie fought sporadically in the amateur rounds. “It wasn’t anything I ever planned on doing professionally. I worked in real estate and selling memberships to a gym. I really liked the rush and excitement of fighting in front of a big crowd. In 2007 I was offered a thousand dollars to turn pro. With my custody battle for my son, any chance to make money I would do.” Wanting to know how going from amateur to professional changed his routine, Charlie exclaimed, “The training aspect of it sucked!” But the determination to make a name for himself and, more importantly, to make enough money to continue to fight for custody of his son propelled Charlie Rader. “All I saw at that point was dollar signs, if I could earn an extra 1000 or 2000 dollars that was money to help me fight for my son so I would do it.”

Like with any athlete, how Charlie Rader deals with losing is just as important as how he deals with victory. Charlie relayed, “Win, lose, or draw I’d walk out of the cage asking my coach what I could have done to do better. As soon as I walk out I think about what I did wrong, what I could have done different, and what I’ll need to do in the gym to do better. Losses are immediate for me for what I can improve on.”

In an interview I conducted with TUF13 contestant Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil, O’Neil named Charlie Rader as “my brother”. Charlie had to say in return, “He was the person on the show who kept me sane. He reminded me why I was there; one of the main reasons that kept me there.” With everything going on in Charlie Rader’s personal life, especially the fight to see his son, Chuck O’Neil provided a calming influence and unwavering support for Rader. The two are still “and always will be” great friends. They even talk about opening a gym together in the future.

With so much going on in Charlie Rader’s life; obstacles to overcome, matches to prepare, disappointments to handle, I was curious to who he looked up to and relied. “I’d have to say my mentor, well, we’re very good friends, my priest Father Morrel. He is the guy I go to before I travel before I fight. I go to, say some prayers, and have a normal conversation with him. I go to him for every day problems; he’s probably the main person I look up to.” In the world of MMA, “Rampage is definitely my favorite fighter to watch on TV.” Finally Charlie Rader closed with, “If there is one person I want to live my life good for it’s God.”

Charlie Rader was exuberant when mentioning those who support him in his professional career. He mentioned, “MAL, they got behind me a year ago and do my shirts and shorts. Theo’s Pizza, my sponsor and the greatest pizza in New Orleans! And Power MMA my gym and management who work hard to get me good fights.” Charlie Rader became very serious when he reiterated, “Every day when I’m fighting or training with every second of every day I’m doing it for my son Jaden with every ounce and every breath is to get to him.” Charlie Rader is focused, hardened, and dedicated; yet he’s still a caring, generous, and sweet man. With a goal so personal and tangible, he will not be denied and will work to the end to achieve. His short-term goal is to fight Tony Ferguson in his native Louisiana come September. He wants everyone to use the power of Twitter to drive that point home to Dana White. His long-term goal is to bring his son back into his life. “You just can’t quit or you’re never going to get there,” Charlie told me at the end of our conversation. He’s right, of course. And I believe Charlie Rader will get there.

Friday Music Blog

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. This is the close of another amazing week at this site. With pageviews at an all-time high, changes happening in my personal life that I get to share on these pages, and an ever-increasing readership, I am more thankful than ever for this outlet.

This week’s music focus is songs that have “Summer” in the title. Please list any and all songs containing the word “Summer” and remember to include the artist. To broaden the topic, the word “Summer” need not only appear in the title, it may simply be in the lyrics, too.

To access past Friday Music Blog topics, please type “Friday Music Blog” in the “Search” box in the top left part of this page. All of the FMBs should appear; there are many! Feel free to peruse older topics and add to any that strike you! Return over the weekend to see what has been added to the current Friday Music Blog, read other blogs from this week you may have missed, and/or read some archived material. I will be back, as always, on Monday with another week of original blogs for your reading pleasure. Like what I’m doing? Let me know on Twitter (@Chief187s) and tell a friend! To find all that I do in a week, check out my website Thank you for your much-appreciated support!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome in to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187 Chatter. After a few weeks of sinful desserts, I’m changing direction to a fantastic side dish that pairs perfectly with beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or as its own meal. Made of pasta, rice, and bulgur wheat, this dish is commonly known as Pilaf, but is far more wonderful than any supermarket-boxed version could ever be. Try it once and you’ll be hooked!

Rice Pilaf
187 Family Recipe


4 Tablespoons butter
½ cup uncooked brown rice
½ cup cracked bulgur wheat
¾ cup or 1 ½ coils whole-wheat thin spaghetti
3 cups broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)


Sauté the uncooked rice and bulgur wheat in the butter on medium high heat in a large pan. Once the butter is melted and the mixture becomes browned, nutty and aromatic (5 minutes or so) add the spaghetti broken into approximately 2” sized pieces (by hand) and stir in while pouring broth. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer on medium heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, until broth is absorbed and the pilaf is tender.

Serves 6. Double to serve up to 12 or for leftovers.

Butter is recommended to keep the integrity of the dish; it simply gives peak flavor to the ingredients used. We use bouillon cubes reconstituted with water for our broth. It is easy to keep on hand and reasonable. Although the pilaf can be made with all of the “white” grains, the brown ones are more flavorful and healthier and add a nutty background to the dish that their white counterparts do not. We get our bulgur wheat at a health foods store and keep it in the freezer. It need not be defrosted, as it doesn’t freeze; storing it there keeps it fresh and free from critters. This side dish is truly a winner! Serve with grill food or any favorite meal and it’s a healthy, can’t go wrong accompaniment to the main course. Add a salad and dinner is done!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Son My Hero

This is the last day of school for my third grader. It’s been a long, frustrating, and, at the same time, richly rewarding year. Third grade seems to be a year of transition for my son. He started the year rather young and dependent and has finished an independent, fearless, and more confident fellow. He is growing leaps and bounds and I am noticing each move.

The year was filled with struggles; struggles to write correctly, do work faster and neater, read quicker, understand better, and process more fully. Having an August birthday leaves my son one of the youngest in his class and, although he is much taller than most belying his tender age, he certainly takes months to catch up maturity-wise to his classmates. My son, being the oldest child in the family, has to strike his own path having none to tread from non-existent older siblings like his brother and sister will be able to do if they so choose. He is, thus, young in the true sense of the word; naïve, innocent, and so very gentle. This child, like his parents, still believes in Santa Claus without question, yet does not discuss it with his peers. He relies on a “lovey” from infancy that is still his most cherished and prized possession. And yet, he has taken many of life’s harshest realities and weathered them beautifully. From the death of a beloved great-grandmother to senseless fights he’s encountered at home, hands that refuse to work like others and a body that doesn’t always obey his mind’s commands, my son works tirelessly to rise above his limitations and fears. He never complains when I bring out supplementary work during weekends, school holidays, or the entirety of summer vacations. He may cry in frustration when his handwriting is nearly illegible to himself and me but he never gives up, correcting the sentences over and over again until we can both read them.

Now third grade is behind him. The obstacles that seemed nearly insurmountable are in the past, accomplished. An endless summer to a nearly nine-year-old lies out before him with Cub Scout camp (his first sleepover night away), an inaugural year on a swim team, “Mom School”, and a treasure trove of experiences he cannot even conceive. I look to him with awe and wonder. My child, the one who made me a mother, never ceases to amaze. His enthusiasm, wherewithal, and innocence in this sometimes cold, harsh world is refreshing and endearing. The childlike wails that still accompany frustrations wrench my heart but give me resolve to model strength, fortitude, and coping mechanisms. His small steps into the world of teendom (i.e. not kissing me good-bye when the bus comes) smart a little, but are soothed by his desire to still hold my hand on the way to the bus stop, and “date” me once a month. There is still a lot of work to do; his organizational skills are still lacking, his handwriting needs constant attention, and he needs to follow directions by reading them first, but he’s destined to remember all of that eventually… right?! No matter, I’d take this kid any day of the week and twice on Saturday for the rest of my life. My son is my hero and that is what it’s all about.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187 Chatter. The Simple Joys come seemingly fast and furious to the point that I keep a pencil and pad near me at all times to record them for help in writing this post. As I’ve written many times before, the moment I opened my eyes and heart to the Simple Joys in my life, the more I found. It is an amazing feeling to not live in negativity but embrace all that is positive. I encourage you to try it! Now, without further ado, is today’s Simple Joys.

Strawberries. June is the month for strawberries in New Jersey. My family and I go annually to the Sussex Country Strawberry Farm in Andover, New Jersey to take part in their “U-Pick” offerings. We fill a basket overflowing past the brim (we’re demanded to do so by the farmers themselves) and sample along the picking route (also encouraged)! We have red, sweet, sticky strawberry juice dripping down our chins, and on our tee shirts, but we care not as the taste that emanates from these berries is ambrosia! As mentioned in last week’s Tantalizing Thursday post, we make sure to collect enough berries to make at least one (and usually two) Strawberry Rhubarb pie. But most of the berries are eaten straight out of the basket, a truly unbelievable delight unequaled by anything a supermarket berry could ever hope to be. Picking, eating, and delighting in these fresh-picked (by us) strawberries is one of June’s most prized Simple Joys!

Swim Team. Our sons have been swimming since they were quite young. This summer we felt they would enjoy using their knowledge of swimming to compete on a local swim team. They tried out on a Sunday and their father and I were a bit nervous. They both did their absolute best and both made the team! Our eight year old was not really a question for us as he is mature enough, experienced enough, and fast enough to be molded into a competitor. His little brother, four years old, was the wild card. The youngest age for competition is five, but since our son’s birthday is in September and he is an experienced swimmer, they agreed to allow him to try out. He hit the water during his turn and swam like a champion! All of the other parents watched and commented on his swimming prowess for his tender age. We were so proud of both of our boys and were elated when the coach told us they had BOTH made the team! Simple Joys abounded. Subsequently our youngest proved to be too young to have the endurance it takes to swim for as long and as strong as it takes to stay on the team. Although a tad disappointed, I am far more secretly pleased that my little boy, my baby boy, will be sitting by me and cheering his big brother on during swim meets, rather than growing up too fast to take part in the competitions himself. His time will come, but I get to hold him a little while longer before he finds himself in that world. Having him close is an added bonus of a Simple Joy associated with this whole event.

Nursery School Promotion. The very next day my four year old took part in his Nursery School closing program, his last at the school as he moves on to Kindergarten in September. He wore his collared shirt and shorts handsomely, sang his songs and performed the choreography expertly, and melted my heart completely. Proud of himself and so excited that his grandparents were able to attend the picnic that followed, my little boy obliviously crossed an invisible bridge from baby boy to independent schoolboy. His childhood, more than my other two children who cap his, has flown by at a record pace. I am dedicating this summer to concentrating on drinking in every single Simple Joy that surrounds my four year old in my life.

Summer Routine. I love routine; a system that enables me to run a home and the schedules of three very active children during the school year. Routines are comforting, helpful, and are the foundation of a complicated machine known as the family. But, like every school-aged child, and, let’s face it, teacher, at the end of the school year with an entire summer vacation looming, I cannot wait for school to end and the summer “schedule” to loom. It’s not that I don’t make my children continue learning (I do) or I allow them to stay up too late every night (I don’t), it’s just that I feel so much more comfortable relaxing the rules. Summer allows for the unexpected to reign, new experiences to be explored, and an over-abundance of fun to dictate how the days and nights will unfold. Come the beginning of September, when school begins again, I will be ready to embrace my trusty routine again, but right now I find a plethora of Simple Joys in the “non-routine” of summer!

My Husband. Recently I’ve been hit with some of the most devastating news a wife can hear; one friend lost her husband, the love of her life, to a heart attack in the overnight. She has elementary school-aged children and a gaping whole in her heart that may never be filled again. Somehow she has to find the strength and courage to keep going even though she probably (save for her children) would rather not. A mutual friend was the one who contacted me and relayed the sorrowful news. I wrote back with my deep condolences and thanks for her informing me and ended by saying that we should hug our husbands extra long that night in gratitude for still having them by our side. To my surprise and shock she wrote back that she and her husband had been separated for months and were indeed divorcing. It was a day that rocked my core, shook my foundation, and left me saddened, confused, and baffled. Mostly, however, I felt so extraordinarily blessed that the man I have loved completely for the last twenty-five years is still by my side, navigating life’s treacherous and wondrous paths, and loves me passionately and completely. His love, our relationship, and the endless Simple Joys he provides by simply being in my life every day for a quarter century humble me!

These Simple Joys are mine and are for reading. I appreciate the opportunity to share these with you weekly as it provides even greater avenues for experiencing more and greater Simple Joys. Frankly, Simple Joys beget Simple Joys! It is always my pleasure (and, yes, Simple Joys) to read your Simple Joys if you so wish to post them. Posted or not, I hope you make at least a mental list of Simple Joys that enhance your life. Thank you and have a day filled with Simple Joys!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back in to the Monday Movie Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. The alphabetical encyclopedia of favorite movies that began the first week of January is nearly finished. Throughout the months our readers have painstakingly added their favorites to the que to flesh out this resource. Now, in our last few weeks, the urgency is immediate to finish on a strong note the way the list began.

This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “X”. A most difficult letter to categorize, please do your best to list any and all movies that begin with the letter “X”. Be sure to include the stars in the cast and a brief synopsis or review of the movies. To ease the difficulty, it is fine to include movie titles that have “X” somewhere in the word(s) (i.e. Excalibur).

I look forward to reading your selections. Remember, to access this or any Monday Music Blog please type in “Monday Movie Blog” in the “Search” section located in the upper left hand section of this blog page. All of the archived articles will appear and you can scan them at your leisure. Again, this is a shared resource and each blog can be added to along the way!

Please join me tomorrow for the most uplifting and powerful post of the week, Simple Joys. Thank you for making Chief 187 Chatter a part of your day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. As summer dawns it is the perfect time to explore the idea of a summer romance, fling or tryst. If you are single it is an ideal season to engage in this type of a relationship. If you are married, engaged, betrothed, or pinned, you can still do the same with your mate! It’s all about the attitude and the decision to simply enjoy, give into the passion, and seize every opportunity that comes for unbridled desire.

This week’s focus is songs whose titles contain the word “Want”. List any and all songs that have “Want” in the title. Be sure to include the artist.

I “want” and feel compelled to thank you all, once again, for lifting me and this site up. We’ve had a record number of hits this week, broken records for all-time pageviews on a number of articles, and continue to grow daily! I am so constantly amazed that what I do, write about my life and interests, share my opinions, hopes, and dreams, and sometimes just pontificate on issues I feel strongly, resonates with so many of you. This past week, on Monday, marked the ninth month of the existence of this site and its two hundredth blog. In that short time you have embraced me and my work and have consistently provide me an audience for my posts. Our next milestone at Chief 187 Chatter is in sight; our 15,000th pageview will happen sometime in the next few days. Without advertising, giveaways, or gimmicks, you have made Chief 187 Chatter a part of your daily routine and I will be eternally grateful for your loyalty and support.

Looking forward to reading your responses to this steamy topic for the Friday Music Blog, songs that contain the word “Want”. I invite you back to Chief 187 Chatter throughout the weekend to keep up with this blog and check out previously published blogs using the archive feature. I then encourage you to return on Monday for a whole new week of posts.

Lastly, Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads who come here looking to be entertained, I honor you and want you to know how vitally important I know your roles to be in the lives of your children! Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful Dad, my terrific Dad-in-law, my awesome brother, my dear friends who are Dads, and, to my darling husband who is the best example of dedicated, engrossed, supportive, and loving fatherhood I can pinpoint in my world! I love you, Honey!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

June is the month for strawberries in my New Jersey location. We wait all spring for conditions to be ideal for strawberries to ripen in June and from the first week through the last we stream to the “U-Pick” farms to get our fill of the freshest, plumpest, and sweetest berries on the planet! Mostly my family eats the fruit straight from the box we filled, but I do try to get enough to make one pie (at least) per summer. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is the best pie I have ever eaten bar none. With the perfect mix of ingredients, succulent fruit, and flaky crust, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie needs to be made, eaten, and relished at least once a summer. Here is the simplest recipe with the most wonderful of outcome! Enjoy!!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Recipe from the Sussex County Strawberry Farm, Andover, New Jersey


1-1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups rhubarb (cut into ½ inch pieces)
2 Tbsp. Butter or margarine
9” pie pastry (for 2 crust pie)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together sugar and flour. Stir together strawberries and rhubarb. Put half strawberry/rhubarb mixture into pastry-lined pie dish. Sprinkle with half of sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining mixtures. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust, cutting a few slits for baking. Seal and flute. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover edge with a 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning (remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking). Bake 40-50 minutes – until top crust is brown or juices bubble out. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

My family always picks our berries at the Sussex Country Strawberry Farm in Andover, New Jersey. They consistently yield the best strawberries annually and the event has become a family tradition. Before we discovered the Sussex County Strawberry Farm, I used to only buy my strawberries at the grocery store year round, now I cannot wait until June to eat the most juicy, tasty, and scrumptious berries hand-picked off the vine! Find your local “U-Pick” farm and delight in the season’s best offering!

I typically use less than the recommended amount of sugar if my berries are freshly picked and super sweet. I also add a bit more than the 2 cups of berries suggested. I use butter to make it taste superb, but definitely take help from Pillsbury by using their boxed, 2 prepared crusts which bake up perfectly and are a sublime complement to this filling. Definitely serve warm with the best vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment to this pie. Save your calories elsewhere, with this dish simply enjoy June’s best offerings!

This is a fantastic dessert for a Father’s Day gathering, but be sure to make at least two!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This much talent usually doesn’t land in just one person, but don’t tell that to Prolifik, because it will be one more thing he’ll have to prove you wrong! No worries, Prolifik is used to it. He’s trying to make a name for himself in the world of Hip Hop, a white rapper from Connecticut trying to go mainstream by breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes. But a name he’s making, respect he’s earning, and working hard he is doing! Meet Prolifik.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut to an Albanian family, Prolifik’s childhood was transitory, following his mother and her love life from middle class comfort in the suburbs to hard living in the city. Prolifik internalized these extreme experiences and has been able to utilize them for his music creating a powerful sound and lyric that is universal in appeal; raw, gritty, and authentic. Prolifik explains his passionate work ethic by stating, “Nothing can motivate a person like having money and living a comfortable life and then being stripped of that. You had a taste of that for a minute, of middle class living, being comfortable, it gives you incentive like no other to strive to get that again or even more than that. That’s kinda where the motivation comes from.” When I posed the question whether Prolifik’s strong work ethic came from his Albanian roots or from his intrinsic nature he admits Albanian-Americans he’s in contact with showcase a tireless work ethic, owning businesses and working hard, but, “I think that’s anybody coming to the US, they’re coming here to make a new life and they’re going to work hard to get it/ I don’t think that’s only Albanians. But I do think that’s part of what I grew up with. I enjoy what I do and I think that is part of the process.” Working from the time he was a very young man, “not legal to work yet, but still working nonetheless”, Prolifik embarked on a path that would take him to where he is today.

A natural performer, Prolifik was drawn to the stage and the creative arts. He explored his talents, and, by the end of his high school career, was honing his craft by emceeing in the surrounding areas, building a fan base and a following. He knew that a career in Rap was an ideal way to showcase his writing talents and he was determined to make his dream come to fruition. No stranger to hard work, Prolifik set out to make himself marketable and increase his skill set. A short stint in college led to better opportunities at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Prolifik completed the program and, upon graduating, took an internship with Clear Channel of Hartford, Connecticut. That opened up a job for Prolifik as a night DJ on WKSS/Kiss 95.7.

Intrigued by his upbringing and his influences in music, I asked Prolific what he listened to growing up. He supplied, “I’ve been exposed to everything, from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana, Billy Joel to Hootie and the Blowfish. Good music is good music so I’m not opposed to anything.” Wondering if Prolifik had aspirations to leave his native Connecticut for bigger markets, he responded, “That’s the goal; not only do I love the New York City, I think it is a very inspirational city just from how it’s structured to the stuff inside the City. The opportunities are endless, especially for the field I’m in, it’s the Mecca of entertainment, there’s no other place to be.”

Prolifik’s music is interesting and catchy; the singles that have launched show a funny, vulnerable side to the artist that showcases only a fraction of the man/performer he is. “The message I have and the things I talk about are much deeper than the first offerings. I’m not just that (“Drunk Dialing”). I touch on everything because Life is everything. You’re never just happy, you’re never just sad.” He continued by explaining, “I think people don’t use Rap to its full potential. I think Rap is a genre where we are able to get a message out better than any other genre of music. Just because the structure of it, the way it’s set up. We have so many lyrics in our songs you are able to get our point across better than any other genre of music.” With passion Prolifik continued, “ I’m a writer, and I love English I love the power of words and I think Rap embodies that the most out of everything, it’s just people just don’t use it to its full power and its full capability. That’s why I appreciate it as much as I do, because it’s poetry.” I questioned Prolifik on why other genres of music have an easier time capturing an audience than Rap/Hip Hop does and he conjectured, “The edge that Rock and genres along those lines have over Hip Hop is it’s much easier to stir up an emotion; you can pull emotions out very easily b/c you have instruments and you can create a certain vibe a lot easier, even if the lyrics don’t necessarily match the emotion the instruments are stirring up, that’s where Rock has a little bit easier of a time.” Experiencing Prolifik’s music and vivid lyrics prove that he is able to stir up emotions among his countless fans.

I was curious to understand how Prolifik wielded his career in the path he forged, from intern to Disc Jockey, and now to traffic reporter on the local Fox affiliate in Connecticut. “People never really understand what I am set out to do when I initially start doing it.” Prolific explained. “You have to understand nothing is beneath you and you don’t start out on the top of anything, that’s absurd to think. I interned, I got hired in promotions which still wasn’t what I wanted to do, but all these cliché’s are true, once your foot is in the door, the opportunities are endless so I was able to bounce around. So long story short, I was able to get into programming getting my own show, through that we were affiliated with Fox in Connecticut and I was able to get my foot in over there… doing traffic, it looks great on the resume and may lead to other television opportunities.”

Wondering what his ultimate career goals are I asked Prolifik to elaborate. “I love anything in the entertainment field. When I was little I was the kid in plays and stuff like that. I enjoy all aspects of it. Music is and probably will always be number one and my passion. As far as venturing out, that’s what I’m all about, that’s what the business has come to now. I wouldn’t be surprised, and other people shouldn’t be, if in a couple of years I’m on one of these networks like MTV or Fuse or something like that.”

Curious to know his creative process, I asked Prolifik if he wrote all of his own music. With a laugh he replied, “I know my boundaries. Lyrics are definitely where I’m the strongest. So I write all my verses and I usually end up writing all the choruses if a singer is being featured on the track I’ll write that for them as well. The production of the actual beat I work with different producers. I have a closely-knit crew I work with; I’m not really bouncing around from producer to producer. I like working with people I have a bond with over just somebody who has a hot product but I don’t know on a personal level.” And that’s just another way Prolifik keeps it real.

Prolifik is constantly giving back to the community. He is first and foremost developing himself into a humanitarian and a philanthropist. I asked Prolifik if it was difficult maintaining his sense of self and refraining from obscene language in his songs to which he gave a beautiful response, “I’m always doing so many things with kids and charities and things like that I just, I don’t know, I embody that whole being a role model thing, and plus I don’t really need to swear in my songs, if it calls for it, I won’t shy away from it but there are only few moments where I really need a swear word to emphasize what I’m talking about and I scoff at people who say ‘I’m not a role model, I’m just an artist I’m just doing my art’ well then, don’t put it out there because you’re a fool to think/ that’s just part of the job. Even writing you have the power to change somebody’s life; if you have the power to change somebody outside of your music, in your extracurricular activities. Why wouldn’t you want to do that as well? I accept it and enjoy that responsibility.” It’s easy to see why Prolifik commands such respect at a young age.

Finally I inquired about the contest Prolifik was engaged through They sponsor annually lists the Top 45 DJs voted on through their site and awards $500 for the number one spot. Prolifik is vying for that number one slot, but, unlike many who would blow that money in a night of celebration, he plans to donate the money to Food Share, a program in his native Connecticut and other places across the country. Prolifik said he has a “long-standing relationship” with them. He summed up his desire to win the money by stating, “Not only would up be good for me exposure-wise, but I could take the money and do something good with it.” With logic like that, personality plus, and talent to boot, Prolifik is unstoppable!

To find out how to vote for Prolifik and propel him to the number one slot of the Top 45 Radio DJ Contest, please follow the link below:

Prolifik left me by insisting my readers knew this about he and his music, “I’m making music that really hits home with people. It’s almost so personal it’s universal. I would be honestly surprised somewhere on this next album you didn’t find at least one line that really made you say, ‘Oh crap that was me!’ I actually strive to write that way. I want people to know the kind of care I put into the music. There is a lot of love and nurturing put into it.” Curious as to the type of tracks he’s working on, Prolifik excitedly rattled off, “Hard tracks that makes you want to go out and take a boxing class, others that get you choked up a little bit, and still others that get you ready to go out to the club. There are all different sounds for all different people.”

Prolifik has lived hard and fast in his young life. He has an unstoppable work ethic, a generosity of spirit unparalleled by his peers, and the talent to forge a name for himself no matter where his career takes him. Prolifik will not be kept down, pigeonholed or held back by social stigmas; he’ll be doing his thing long after others give up. Find out more about this incredibly talented, hard-working young man by checking out the following sites:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome in to Chief 187 Chatter on Tuesday, Simple Joys day! It sometimes amazes me how this post usually writes itself. I don’t struggle to find the topics; I’m just receptive to them. Normally I have to consciously stop writing to assure a reasonably and accessible-sized article for reading consumption in this forum. It delights me each week to “pen” this piece. Now, without further ado is this week’s Simple Joys.

Daimler. The week after Memorial Day Weekend begins my husband’s summer hours at work. He goes in a half hour early and stays a half hour later and by Friday is able to knock off after a four-hour workday. This last Friday was a splendid day so my husband took his beloved Daimler, his racecar that is also street-legal, to work. He arranged with me to pick our four-year-old up from pre-school in the car as a surprise. Our son was over-the-top excited to not only see his father at the pick-up, but also to get to ride in the Daimler! Later in the day my husband was able to pick up our eight-year-old from school as well. He, too, was thrilled with the surprise visitor and cool ride! Little things like this, surprising our children and making the ordinary extraordinary, bringing Simple Joys to our children, make me fall in love with my husband all the more. That is a Simple Joy that cannot be argued!

Massage. My girlfriend bought a couple of reasonably priced gift certificates for massages from another friend who could no longer use them. We planned our excursion for the Saturday after our weekend away with our families to Hersheypark. We escaped after our children’s swim lessons, leaving them in the capable hands of their fathers. This was only my third massage in my entire life, but I can tell you, I was addicted after the first. This time alone, in a warm, soothing, calming atmosphere, being rubbed, stroked, and manipulated, is Heaven-on-Earth. I’ve written before about The Healing Power of Touch, and I do believe that wholeheartedly. At the conclusion of my one-hour session I felt relaxed, renewed, reinvigorated, a little pained, and ready to face the day! I highly recommend a massage to any one on the fence about getting one.

Surprise Party. My girlfriend who accompanied me to the massage turned a milestone birthday. Her wonderful husband planned a surprise birthday party for her and used me as the decoy to get her out of the house for a few hours and then to my house where the party was being held. The plan worked perfectly (and I got a bonus massage instead of frantically attending to last-minute details like I normally would have) and she was definitely surprised! Family and friends gathered, many from over two hours away, to celebrate her birthday. Even a consistently raining/misty day did not hamper our outdoor party. We allowed the children to play in the house, while the adults huddled under the pop up canopies my husband places over our deck furniture. We dined on delicious hamburgers and hot dogs and all of the appropriate sides, sang “Happy Birthday” as she blew out the candles on her Costco sheet cake, and laughed the day away. Genuinely surprised and deeply moved, my girlfriend, in true form, enjoyed everyone and everything around her. It was a fantastic surprise party!

After Party. After the majority of the guests left the surprise party, a small group of us, the guest of honor and her family, her college roommate/best friend, and my family, stuck around to just hangout, talk, eat dinner of the same foods, and bask in the moment. The stories were told that were familiar yet still bring tears from laugher to the eyes, were welcomed additions to the night. As terrific as the surprise party was, the after party was my favorite part of the day!

My parents. My parents arrived back in New Jersey to live in their summer cottage for the season. They hadn’t seen my family since Christmas so they remarked on how much the children had grown, how adorable they are, and how grown up they all seemed. Since they left my career as a writer has taken off. I write about them, examine our relationship, and revel in the fact that they are my parents; loving and supportive. My mother, not a writer, was sure to point out that the Simple Joys I write (and she reads) about my children is, “exactly what your father and I felt about you and your brothers”. It was a powerful statement that stopped me in my tracks. My mother may not have been able to write if for me to read, but I always knew we were all loved. And hearing her say that to me made me so plainly happy. Later in the day, the first of their arrival, my father and I were able to steal away from the rest of the group and just talk. He’s a car fanatic and had purchased two books he had sent to my house anticipating his arrival in New Jersey. Both books contained pictures of a car he owns. He was over-joyed and I was intrigued. I asked some open-ended questions that led to nearly an hour of explanation and stories on his end. It was so interesting I urged him to write it all down for others to read and learn. He thought he would. Bonding with both parents, individually on the same day, was an overwhelming Simple Joy. I am so very blessed they are both in my life.

Flag Day. June 14th is Flag Day. I am a Patriot. I love the United States of America. I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag. My family has several American Flags flying proudly around our property. We march in parades throughout the year, waving American Flags and honoring those who serve, defend, and died in service to our country. On this Flag Day, please remember how lucky, fortunate, and blessed we are to live in this great country; a country millions risk their lives to come, a country where freedoms are guaranteed. The United States of America is where we still have a voice, a vote, and a say. It’s easy to criticize, but harder to volunteer, serve, and do. I am proud to be an American. I love my country, I honor those who serve and protect it, and I fly the American Flag proudly because I can. God Bless America! Happy Flag Day!!

Thank you so much for reading my Simple Joys. I always encourage you all to make your own list and share it; but even if you don’t share it, making one of your own only adds a positive lean to your day/life. Please join me tomorrow when I wax poetic on a completely new topic on “Freestyle Wednesday”.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome in to the Monday Movie Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. The weekend goes much too quickly, especially in summer. Movies are typically something many enjoy watching over weekends so I like to tap the minds of my readers on Monday when they are fresh about what their favorite movies are. This series of Monday Movie Blogs featuring an alphabetical journey through our favorite movies began in the blustery, snowy month of January this year and is now only a month away from completion.

This week the Monday Movie Blog topic is movies that start with the letter “W”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “W”. Be sure to include a list of the actors/stars in the film as well as a brief review or synopsis of the film to provide everyone with an idea about the movie.

Please remember it is simple to access the former Monday Movie Blogs that are archived by using the Search feature on this page located in the upper left-hand corner. Type in “Monday Movie Blog” and they should all appear for you to browse. That is, of course, the whole point in doing these, easy access for retrieval when one is looking for a movie to watch!

I want to thank you all, once again, for your generous readership, loyalty, and support. We blew past the 14, 000 pageview mark in record time at the end of last week and are zooming toward the next milestone of 15,000. I cannot even imagine what the numbers will be like when we approach the one year anniversary in September, but whatever it is, I am so proud and thrilled that what we’ve achieved through today is miraculous, exciting, and humbling. Thank you all!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Introducing Quentin Fielding!

It is with great pleasure I bring you this article I did on musician, composer, pianist, scorer, and actor Quentin Fielding. In my life I've met many young people, first as a teacher and now as a mother, and Quentin is by far in a class by himself. Not only is his talent palpable, but he is kind, sincere, genuine, and one of the most positive people I have ever met. I believe that is why I was drawn to Quentin Fielding and his music; we both value the positive life and are using our talents to continue to bring positivity to this world where negativity gets more airplay. I get lost in Quentin Fielding's music, feel energized after checking out his website, and forge a connection when I interact with him on Facebook as he regularly does with his fans. Take a moment to meet Quentin Fielding.

Enormously talented, quietly unassuming, passionate and focused, Quentin Fielding is the real deal. Musician, pianist, composer, actor, and deep thinker, this young man has dedicated his life to making the music he wants to hear and others enjoy unabashedly. His “universal music”, instrumental pieces that allow the listener to tell their own stories, brings his impassioned visions to life. Welcome to the world of Quentin Fielding.

The words, “Born on a mountaintop in the small town of Hope, New Jersey” are the first that greet you when you explore the “About” section of Quentin Fielding’s website. When I questioned Quentin Fielding about whether the isolation helped or hurt his career he replied, “It was a big blessing in disguise. There was nothing really to do to get in trouble growing up, you just look outside the window and there is this beautiful view. The only thing to really do, for me, was play music on top of this mountain. It’s kinda what kept me going growing up. Yes, I did feel isolated, but it wasn’t necessarily bad. I think the nature and where I’ve lived has definitely influenced my music, just the beautiful scenery of it and peacefulness of it.”

“I had a happy childhood,“ Quentin Fielding relays. “It freaks me out how incredible both my parents were raising me. They both set a wonderful example for me for when I have children one day. I had a great childhood.” You get the sense that he was exposed to great opportunities by his family, encouraged to be an individual, and instilled with confidence to not only reach for his dreams, but to keep working, hard, until he achieves them. His happy childhood, though, was not without its struggles. “The hardest thing I’ve had to go through, still so far, was the divorce of my parents when I was nine,” he revealed. “I grew a lot right then when I got the news because I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I have to take care of my (2) brothers.’ My parents did an incredible job of raising us. We grew up between the two families and from that experience I realized everyone’s just human. Getting to hop back and forth between the two worlds allowed me to see how to communicate a lot better from it.”

Quentin Fielding admitted that his mother began his love of music “in the womb”. He explained, “My mother actually played Mozart on the outside because (she thought) it might have made me more musically inclined!” Quentin Fielding started piano lessons when he was seven because of his mother’s encouragement. In fact, “My mom, she’s extraordinary, she went out and bought a little stand up piano on my first day of my very first lesson. And when I’d want to quit, which happened a bunch of times, she’d say ‘Just go to one more lesson, if you don’t like it you can quit.’ And I’d always fall back in love with it.” When I prodded him about composing music Quentin Fielding stated, “ I didn’t know I could write music… until I was 16 years old after sitting down at the piano after two years away. I started playing and came up with a little melody and thought, ‘Hey, I would listen to that!’ I kept messing around and all of the sudden I got it; pretty quickly I got how to make a song. Once I got that this wasn’t a fluke it became my passion and it turned my world upside down.” When asked why he quit piano around aged 14 Quentin Fielding admitted he wanted to dabble with the guitar, a passion at the time, and played saxophone in the school band. He was simply “taking a break from piano”.

Quentin Fielding’s two favorite groups in Rock-n-Roll that influenced him musically were U2 and Coldplay. But his favorite type of music was and is “soundtracks”. “The Lord of the Rings soundtrack I’ve probably listened to 5,000 times. I like all kinds of music, but primarily I love scoring music, the world it can create in your heart in a second.” This connection makes it evident why Quentin Fielding now scores movies himself! In fact he acted in and scored the independent film Aiden Black and has plans to do more of the same.

A teenage heartbreak suffered in tenth grade prompted Quentin Fielding to pick up his neglected piano. As with many artists, suffering is a conduit for creation, and Quentin Fielding utilized his pain to write, “Save Us”, a piece so moving, haunting, and beautiful he still performs it today. Tapping into his hurt and his talent, Quentin Fielding approached his brother and his best friend about forming a band that added drums and guitar to his piano work. That band, now called Jenny Jump, dressed the first composition perfectly and the live performance that followed showcased Quentin Fielding’s abilities to captivate with his compositions. Jenny Jump still performs today and continues to produce new music. Jenny Jump consists of Ryan Kleindienst on guitar, Brian McShane on bass, Derek Fielding on drums, Quentin Fielding on piano/keyboards, and Chris Keller on vocals. Jenny Jump will be in the studio in July recording two new songs. This is Quentin Fielding’s outlet for his Rock-n-Roll compositions.

All the while Quentin Fielding was discovering and developing his musical soul; he was an avid martial artist studying Isshinryu Karate. “Once again it was my mother who indulged me. It was just because I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the time. I was five years old.” He explained, “Martial Arts has probably been, even more so than music, for mentally, physically, and even in a spiritual way too, it allows you to… the discipline you learn for yourself, self-respect, respect for other people, and outside of the dojo (Karate school) everything in there bleeds and seeps into every single area into your life. The mental attitude of never quitting and the coordination throughout my childhood is due to martial arts.” Quentin Fielding summed up his martial arts passion by saying, “It’s part of who I am now, I can’t take it out. It will always, always be a part of my life, until I’m really old.” His philosophy does indeed bleed into the rest of his life, as a martial arts instructor he explains “I not only teach them (his students), but inspire them to be better people and do martial arts in the highest way possible”.

Talented, graceful, and focused in this part of his life, Quentin Fielding progressed up the ranks earning his black belt at age 16 and earning the title of Deshi, a title rich with honor, dedication, and loyalty. These words only begin to define the whole man that Quentin Fielding is.

I wanted to know how Quentin Fielding got his inspiration for writing the endless supply of music he seems to compose. He answered effortlessly, “Anything that has beauty and truth and passion in life behind it I can get it from. If I can see a picture, I can almost translate the picture into energy into music, almost like a circle. That’s why I really like film scoring; I understand the connection from the vision to what it should sound like, my interpretation. I can get the inspiration from anything, from talking to someone, to a memory, from a feeling, a beautiful scenery, a painting, a story, I can get it from anything that’s got some life to it.” The world is Quentin Fielding’s oyster, and he is constantly searching for the next great song. In addition, he is constantly reaching out to his fans via his Facebook fan page and through video blogs he posts on YouTube. Quentin Fielding is accessible, genuinely interested, and open to all opportunities to connect with his audience. He engages them and poses questions that boldly ask them to share so he may “write their story” through music.

Through his music Quentin Fielding continues to search, ponder life’s questions, explore themes, and grow. His inquisitive mind, universal appeal, and embrace of nature, love, and passion allow him the freedom to express, share, and wander. In his latest release, 2009’s The Ghost Composer, Quentin Fielding takes his listeners on an epic journey through what ifs, change, and growth. Posing the concept of second chances at life, he wonders through his music how life would be altered in that second chance. What lessons would be gleaned, what love valued, what dreams met, what passions fulfilled. It is a fantastical journey of longing, yearning, hope, and redemption.

In his short life Quentin Fielding seems to have captured the minds, imaginations, and hearts of his myriad listeners. His original, kind, sweet, giving nature is palpable and makes one want to simply sit next to him and emote. Listening to Quentin Fielding’s music is the next best thing! Find out much more about Quentin Fielding’s music at

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome in to the Friday Music Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. This is a favorite post of mine and near to my heart as it has been with me the longest. It airs in different forms on three different sites with three original and different topics each week. As much as I adore writing anything and everything on my mind, I get a huge kick out of ending the week with a FMB to learn about new music, old favorites, and forgotten gems.

This week’s topic is songs containing the word “Sweet” in the title. After my family’s return from Hersheypark I’ve had Hershey on the brain with each post from Tuesday on mentioning Hershey in some way. It seemed only logical, thus, to cap the week with a Friday Music Blog highlighting the “Sweet” songs. Please remember to include the artist’s name and/or the artist who made the version you prefer. Full participation is always requested and appreciated.

I encourage you all to return regularly to this blog throughout the day/weekend as I do to see what is added to the list. In addition, please make an effort to return on Saturday for a special posting of an article I wrote about musician Quentin Fielding. He is a major talent, an empirically gorgeous man, and one of the genuinely nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I wrote about our interview on this week’s Simple Joys and am pleased to share the article that followed our talk. His music, should you be interested, is available on Amazon. If (when) you decide to purchase it, kindly use my Amazon link on the sideboard or at to access Amazon and make the transaction. It helps keep me afloat and I truly appreciate the support. This holds true for any and all purchases you make on Amazon; simply enter through my link and make the purchase and I get a tiny bit in return without if costing you anything extra. Thank you!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome back in to Tantalizing Thursday at Chief 187 Chatter. As I’ve been writing all week about our triumphant trip to Hersheypark, it only seemed fitting to feature a recipe shared by the Hershey Kitchens that is quick, easy, and oh so delectable. I am dedicating this to my husband who simply adores chocolate and peanut butter together and, more specifically, anything Reese’s.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Bark
Hershey Kitchens

Skill Level: Beginner
Prep Time: 15 minutes


2 packages (4 ounces each) Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon shortening
1-2/3 cups (10 ounce package) Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips
½ cup roasted peanuts or toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

1. Cover tray with waxed paper.
2. Place chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred.
3. Immediately place peanut butter chips and shortening in second microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred; stir in peanuts.
4. Alternately spoon above mixtures onto prepared tray; swirl with knife for marbled effect. Gently tap tray on countertop to even out thickness of mixture. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in cool, dry place. About 1 pound candy.

* To toast almonds: Heat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in thin layer in shallow baking pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown; cool.

I have had incredible luck using Hershey baking products so I hope you will try this fast, satisfying, and rich dessert. Yes, it is easy to simply buy some Hershey candy at the grocery store, but making something like this in your own kitchen will get you bonus points with your loved ones!

Drop me a comment to let me know if you tried this recipe, how you liked it, and how you may have changed it to suit your tastes. If you use Hershey products to bake, please leave your recipe below.

Hershey, Pennsylvania and Hersheypark specifically is the “Sweetest Place on Earth”. If you can’t get there, make a few Hershey recipes throughout the year to transport yourself to the wonderful smells and feelings one gets when there. Happy Eating!

Please remember to join me tomorrow for the week ending Friday Music Blog. I look forward to capping another week with you all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hersheypark Vacation 2011

My family and I returned from a fantastical weekend away to our favorite theme park, Hersheypark, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We had a tremendous time as we’ve had every year since 2006. Our annual trek always falls on the first weekend in June and has provided years of memories that keep us coming back to make more! This year I am thrilled because not only did I have the best time to date, but also I get to share it with all of you. As I mentioned yesterday, this trip incorporated so many Simple Joys that it warrants its own piece. Now, without further ado, is my trip to Hersheypark.

Weather. While packing for Hersheypark I was sweltering. A mini-heat wave had a stranglehold over my New Jersey home and left me wilted, uninspired, and unwilling to throw myself into packing, but I persevered. Once in Hershey, the temperatures were in the eighties, warm but not unbearable. We had a wonderful breeze, comfortable temps, and no threat of rain on day one. Day two was warmer, allowing giving us the desire to use the Boardwalk at the park. At the end of that time in the Atlantic City Boardwalk area the skies sprinkled on us a bit, but nothing drastic or drenching. I’ve been to Hersheypark through all types of weather; scorching hot and sticky, wickedly cool and rainy, and, no matter what the weather, we have a blast!

Rides. There are so many rides at Hersheypark it is nearly impossible to get them all ridden in the two days we dedicate to our adventure. As I’ve always brought little kids, I am so overjoyed at the amount of kiddie rides that are fun, perfectly scaled, and accessible to my young charges. And they are not just in one tight area. There are several areas that have the kiddie rides allowing for the full spectrum of experiences at the park. As my oldest keeps growing his scope of what is available to him broadens. Of course, the rides of his youth, which he still loves dearly, are out of reach due to his size. Another milestone in the race to grow up for my son occurred this weekend. His siblings and friends were all able to ride the kiddie rides, but he had to sit out on the sidelines. His father and I took turns treating him to a roller coaster ride or a bumper car sojourn, but it still smarted to him that he was young but too tall to partake in the innocent fun.

Zoo America. Those unfamiliar to Hersheypark may not know that there is a zoo accessible from within the park or from its own entrance called Zoo America. It is a zoo that has several North American species of animals and is truly lovely. Typically cooler than the park due to the natural surroundings/habitats of the animals including glorious trees and shrubbery, Zoo America offers a quieter, calmer, slower-paced part of the day. The animals are all fascinating, often easy to detect, and always pleasing to the entire family. It is a must see for us each and every year. During this visit we were treated to a most enjoyable show by Ed-Zoo-Cation, a group that taught about reducing, reusing, and recycling, the lesson we saw with juggling and other funny antics along the way. I was even the lucky audience member who got to take part in the finale! I highly recommend finding out their show times and spending some quality time watching, listening, being entertained, and schooled by Ed-Zoo-Cation!

Frontier Frenzy. Weary and tired, my family, friends, and I stopped at the Frontier area with a roof and open-air seating to rest. It was quiet and nearly deserted, when, all of a sudden, the stage exploded with six attractive, young, and energetic adults dressed up in their country best! Hershey Park, as most theme parks are, is known for some fantastic entertainment musically. This year’s cast of “Frontier Frenzy” was made up of some truly talented individuals who played their hearts out for an audience of fewer than twenty people. My family was so into it: my boys bopped around and clapped and my daughter, nearly 20 months old, shook her booty to the music like nobody’s business! The songs were great, the arrangements fun and upbeat, their energy was high voltage, and their chemistry was palpable! Yes, the script is cheesy and cornball, but it’s supposed to be! This isn’t the Royal Shakespeare Company or the London Symphony Orchestra! This is a show in Frontier World of Hershey Park and these people played their parts brilliantly. On the second day I finagled a spot in front to watch the show again. The set was just as energetic and compelling with nearly twice as many in the audience as there had been the day before. At the end of the set we got to speak and the fresh-faced, wide-eyed, and talented crew took me in. We exchanged information and I promised them they’d see their names in my article. True to my word I want to thank Nicole, Pamela, Julie, Ryan, Ben, and CJ for making our Hersheypark experience extra special and decidedly Rockin’! If you get to Hershey Park this summer, definitely make Frontier Frenzy a part of your listening/viewing pleasure!

There is so much more to love about Hersheypark. It is far more reasonable than most big name theme parks. Hershey Park is clean, has much to do, and gives a great value for the entertainment available. If it is at all possible, get yourself and the family to Hershey Park for a great mini-vacation. Chocolate World still has the tour of the “factory” and offers a sweet complimentary treat at the end. Hersheypark itself will leave you exhausted, happy, and anxious to return again soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Simple Joys

Simple Joys swirl around me all of the time now. I am utterly convinced that the more you open your heart and mind to all the positive, wonderful little things in the world, the more you are able to see and appreciate them. I am not immune to bad times, frustrations, or sadness, but more and more I can find the Simple Joys limit those dark times to a minimum. I much prefer the world of Simple Joys. Now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil. The first major interview I conducted was of The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 contestant Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil. He was a guest on the radio show “The Final Round Show” I do on Eventlevel. Multi-faceted, media-savvy, and super charismatic, Chuck O’Neil was someone I was drawn to immediately. I was absolutely fascinated by the research I did, and more so when we had the opportunity to talk. Chuck O’Neil is loyal, dedicated, driven, and educated. Whereas most people talk about their dream and later brush it off as too hard or unattainable, Chuck O’Neil sets his sights on something and doesn’t rest until it’s his! Although Chuck O’Neil did not win the title on TUF 13, he is still a winner and a recognizable name among the world of Mixed Martial Artists. His career is just starting and I’m thrilled to be part of his world telling his story! Starting my career as an interviewer was a serious Simple Joy with Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil.

Eddie Gossage. Recently I had the opportunity to interview a giant in the world of NASCAR and auto racing, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage. I simply gathered my courage, sent him a message, and found him receptive to being interviewed by me, a veritable “nobody”. We set the appointment up, I spent days researching him and preparing interview questions that would not bore the man or my readers, and I calmed the butterflies in my system. When I placed the call I found I was talking to one of the nicest people I had ever had the pleasure to speak. My nerves melted away and I relaxed as I conducted the interview. Mr. Gossage was generous, kind, fascinating, erudite, humble, and gregarious. I found him respectful, patient, and simply wonderful. He answered all of my questions with terrific answers, gave me food for thought on myriad subjects, and showed me new perspectives to subjects I thought I was adamant about my position. It was truly a pleasure and quite a Simple Joy to not only interview this great man, but to feel safe, comfortable, and valuable in his company. Thank you for the treat, Mr. Gossage!

Quentin Fielding. Today my article about Quentin Fielding, a talented, prolific, and charming young musician, composer, pianist, scorer, and actor, debuts. My first interview with a musician was magical! We totally and completely clicked as we both look at life from the most positive of angles. His music speaks to me, his passion stirs me, and he inspires me to continue to reach for my dreams and not ever give up on them! I am excited for you all to learn about Quentin Fielding and get a taste of his music, which permeates all you do if you allow it. Speaking with Quentin Fielding and listening to his music are Simple Joys to the Nth degree!

New Bathing Suits. During our trip to South Carolina in April I packed for all five of us in my family, including swimwear. My bathing suits were fine, but had lost their “oomph”. Knowing we’d be going on a mini-vacation I set out to find new ones this month. Let’s be honest, I have a to-die-for hourglass figure, but there is more sand than there used to be so I’m a bit of a larger hourglass figure! Trying my new suits on before packing my four-year-old son looked at me with wide admiring eyes and said, “Mommy, you look beautiful! I love your new suits.” And do you know what, he meant it with all of his heart. I looked in the mirror again with less critical eyes after that. My body is not model thin (emaciated) nor rock hard, but it has created three beautiful children, works hard daily, and still turns my husband on after nearly twenty-five years together. Who knew buying a bathing suit at my age and size could wind up being such a Simple Joy!

Mini-vacation. My husband and I took our children on the annual Hersheypark vacation, a tradition we stared in 2006 when we had one child and one on the way. We’ve gone every year since then and enjoy the most amazing time! From roller coasters to shows, Zoo America to the Chocolate World ride, every minute in Hersheypark is sweet. The last two years we’ve enjoyed the trip with our dear friends, which enhances the good times even more! This vacation was so much fun and richly rewarding that it will be the subject of tomorrow’s freestyle blog! My mini-vacation to Hersheypark is truly an annual escape to numerous Simple Joys!

Thank you so much for making this weekly blog your favorite for several months running. It is the top of my list of favorite pieces to write and it cheers me how warmly it is received by so many. It is evident that with the negativity that is pervasive in the world today, most people truly just want to be surrounded by positive Simple Joys. These are mine; I always look forward to reading yours every week.

Please join me tomorrow for why my mini-vacation to Hersheypark was filled with so many Simple Joys that it warranted its own blog! Wishing you all Simple Joys!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome to the first Monday Movie Blog of June. The summer movie season is underway and this resource is still growing. I urge every one of you to add your favorites to the list so it fills out even more! Whether long time reader, first time visitor, or a lurker, now is the time to contribute! To access the archived Monday Movie Blogs, simply type “Monday Movie Blog” into the search feature on the top left side of the screen and press enter. All of the MMBs should be accessible for your use at your convenience. You may certainly add your selections under “comments” for any Monday Movie Blog past or present.

This week’s topic is movies that begin with the letter “V”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “V”. Remember to include the list of stars as well as a brief review or synopsis of the plot.

I want to encourage you to return tomorrow for the most uplifting post of the week, Simple Joys. Much has happened recently and I cannot wait to share it with you all! Each day more will be revealed about how my writing and radio career continues to grow and evolve! It is most exciting for me to get to share it with you all. So, in addition to checking regularly for your “V” movie titles, I will look for you tomorrow for Simple Joys, mine and yours!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back in to the Friday Music Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. After doing this genre of blog for years at this and other sites, it does become difficult to not repeat and continually come up with fresh, new, and original topics. As I’ve written before, I welcome suggestions and topic ideas. One of my loyal readers passed the following topic on to me recently. Thank you for the super idea, Vroom Vroom!

This week’s topic is a question: What is your most recent music purchase? It can be an album, song, downloads, CD, vinyl, or whatever else you came home. No fibbing, this is true confession time! Goofy answers get bonus points! Please be sure to list the artist who performs the music in question. I look forward to reading the diverse selections we’ll undoubtedly collect from all of you! Please remember to check back frequently to see what’s been added to the FMB posts, and continue to add any new music you pick up throughout the weekend!

Please join me over the weekend to see what’s been happening on the site. We’ve set records the last several weeks with pageviews. New personalities are being discussed, great causes showcased, and my life shared with all of you. Monday we start a whole new week so I hope you can make Chief 187 Chatter a part of your daily routine. Thank you, as always, for your support!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome in to Tantalizing Thursday at Chief 187 Chatter. In recent weeks healthy fare has been on the menu; tasty offerings that are healthful, delicious, filling, and rather easy to prepare. Today we are indulging in a dessert that I made over the past weekend. It was a sinful cake that is perfect for this time of year when humid weather wreaks havoc on cakes with icing. This is a bundt cake that is so moist and rich it has no need for frosting. The cake passed the test of my husband, who adores frosting, and my children who are known to eat the icing off of cupcakes and leave the cake behind. This cake is “that good”.

Marbled Sour Cream Cake
Recipe by Sandra Lee from her Semi-Homemade Cooking cookbook
Miramax Books Hyperion New York Copyright 2002

Makes 1 large bundt cake or about 8-10 servings

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray, PAM
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels, Hershey’s
1 package (18.25 ounce) yellow cake mix, Betty Crocker Super Moist
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
¾ cup vegetable oil, Wesson
¾ cup granulated sugar, C&H
4 eggs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes
Cooling time: 30 minutes


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
Spray a 10-inch (12-cup) bundt cake pan with nonstick spray.
Microwave chocolate morsels in a medium microwave-safe bowl for 30 seconds on high. Stir to blend.
Continue to microwave until morsels are melted and smooth, about 30 seconds longer. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.
Using an electric mixer, beat until very well blended, about 2 minutes.
Spoon 2 cups of cake batter into melted chocolate, then mix thoroughly to form chocolate batter.
Spoon chocolate batter and yellow batter alternately into prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a cooling rack and cool completely, or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Invert cake onto a platter, then carefully remove pan.

Storage and leftovers: Cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

This cake was such a hit with my entire family, including me! Usually I don’t particularly enjoy cake, and I already mentioned my family’s passion for icing. But this cake is so moist, rich, and scrumptious, nobody missed the frosting!

This recipe, as stated, is from Sandra Lee, the popular Food Network chef who has several cookbooks, shows, and spots on various daytime television. She uses the name brands, but I do not all of the time. I use the store brand version of the vegetable cooking spray, sour cream (I used Lite), vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs. I did stay true to the recipe when it called for the Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix and the Hershey chocolate morsels. I was debating whether to simply use the Nestle chocolate chips I keep in the house permanently, but wanted to try the recipe the way it was intended. Am I glad I did! The Hershey chocolate morsels had a very rich, smooth, chocolaty flavor that I feel has been lacking in the Nestlé’s morsels of late. I believe the Hershey chips made the cake so perfect that I am nearly convinced to dump my stash of Nestlé’s chips and start over with Hershey’s morsels for all of my recipes!

I urge you to try this cake recipe and let me know how you like it. I already have several events I’ll be bringing it to, and would love to know how your friends and family received it. Without frosting, the cake can withstand the higher temperatures and humidity present this time of year. It’s a perfect summertime treat!

Please join me tomorrow as we bid a fond adieu to yet another workweek and embrace the coming weekend with open arms with the Friday Music Blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Kiddie Pool

Summer has to be my most favorite time of year. With sunlight shining long into evening, warmer temperatures, and days off of school, summer is just a relaxing, exciting time filled with endless wonders. Raising three children, however, has made me homebound in recent years with children who need naps, elementary school students who need summer supplemental learning (workbooks), and an economic crunch that has forced me to stay away from expensive diversions. What I found is that all I need to make an exotic afternoon is a kiddie pool, some plastic accessories, and a smile and the children are whisked away to a mini-vacation no matter how often I drag it out.

The kiddie pool we own was acquired when my oldest was the only child. Back then I was president of the local M.O.M.S. Club (Moms Offering Moms Support) and participated in a swap, an exchange of toys, household items, and clothing, early one fall. One mother was offering a brand new inflatable round kiddie pool still unopened in the box. She insisted she’d never use it, nobody wanted to store it over the long winter nor had any interest, so I snatched it up. It sat in our garage and every day that winter my son would ask, “Can we use the pool today, Mommy? “Not yet, Honey,” I’d reply. “We have to wait for the snow to melt and for it to get warmer, but we will, Sweetie, we will!” Finally winter melted into a cold, wet spring, and, finally, spring blossomed into a hot, humid, and sultry summer. We inflated the pool, blew it up, and the fun began. By the time summer arrived I was expecting my second child. It was so hot I put on my maternity swimsuit and gingerly sat in the pool enjoying the cool water lapping over my enormous belly. My son would play for hours, jumping in and out, filling different sized plastic cups, water pistols, and playing with toys that captured his imagination. I worried that the pool would last only one summer; but the following year, when my second son was not yet a year old, the pool came out for another year. The boys played well together, although my second child didn’t quite have his sea legs. He would tumble into the water and either giggle or cry depending on his mood. My oldest delighted in having a playmate, even a loud one who sucked on his fingers all of the time, showed off his talent by jumping in and out of the pool and “diving” in managing never to get his hair wet lest his face touch the water. On the verge of a major breakthrough at swim lessons, my oldest was urged to put his head in the water and swim. When I forced the issue one day in the kiddie pool, my son panicked. He cried, freaked out a bit, and nearly hyperventilated. Then, in a single move of bravery, he went under, survived, and was so pleased and proud of himself that he did it again and again and again! In fact, he became so adept at the head under the water move that his swim teachers were flabbergasted by his progress! Thank you kiddie pool.

As the years wore on the second child, who definitely found his sea legs and got his fingers out of his mouth, also discovered his talents; submerging his head earlier than his brother had, kicking furiously, and all around tomfoolery with his big brother. By the time my daughter arrived, I thought for sure the pool wouldn’t survive another day. But it got put away at the end of summer along with the myriad toys, cups, and swimming accessories amid tears and fits. This past winter my second son, now in the last months of Nursery School, asked me, “Can we set up the pool today, Mommy?” I replied, “We have to wait for the snow to melt and for it to get warmer, Sweetie, but we will!” That was enough to placate him until the next day. That pattern repeated itself all throughout the winter and spring. Until this past weekend, when the mercury soared and time permitted, I got out the pool, the bag of toys, cups, and swimming accessories, and my children, all three of them, delighted themselves for hours on end each day. The difference is, my boys now handle the filling of the pool in the morning and the cleaning up of toys at the end of the day. I realize the days with that pool are numbered for my oldest even if it does continue to live through its torture. My son, all legs, hardly fits comfortably in it anymore. He pretends not to notice, but it is difficult not to. He’ll be off with friends swimming in the nearby lake and won’t think twice about his endless summers entertained in that pool, but I will always remember.

I feel so blessed that among all of the things we own, the kiddie pool we received for free has become the best summer activity for my children. The water is soothing, refreshing, cooling, and has restorative power. Like the ocean or lakes for others, the kiddie pool offers my children an escape, a luxury, and a release that nothing else does. I try to capture these times in pictures, in memories, and in moments to relive in the future. The kiddie pool has been a true friend to all of us and will always hold a place of honor in our summer lives.