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!!


  1. Hey there Chief! ;-)

    This is another great post and your comments about strawberries gave me a wonderful flash-back to my childhood days. My Mom just told me yesterday she went strawberry picking. As a kid I remember the wonderful days of strawberry picking as a family.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Dr. Rus

  2. Just eaten a very nice Braeburn Apple, heading to the fields to find strawberries next :-)

  3. Congrats on hitting 15k page views Chief :-)

  4. Thank you so much Dr. Rus and Art! I appreciate your support, readership, and friendship!!

  5. WOW... 15k page views. That's amazing. Good for you! Congrats and keep up the good work.