In the ever increasing rush we face everyday, time fleets by. Bills get paid. Children grow older. Dear ones depart. World politics blur into one another. Ever so often, when we remember to, we marvel at the speed of it all.
Time together with the family is reserved for weekends for the lucky ones, holidays for the extra busy or extra wealthy depending on your situation. Sometimes one feels a desperate need to break the monotony. The ideal family moment – breakfasts together, storytelling at bedtime and barbeque picnics seem more elusive than ever. With the time-sharing scenario becoming more common among the increasing number of divorced families, the intent to spend quality time together can be quite daunting.
I finally faced reality. If I do not break the pattern, I will suddenly discover that my girls are old enough to go out with friends and refuse to be seen with me. They will be stepping out the door for a night out as I walk in.
So, time out!
First things first – a family that eats together, grows together. And yet it is almost impossible for us to schedule meals together on a regimented basis. So, I decided that our meals would be over memorable dishes that are super quick and easy to prepare, albeit not very regular.
My favourite menu starts with freshly squeezed oranges. Just cut oranges into two, ask Kak Ngah to squeeze them over the juicer. Voila! Ready made pancakes – what’s spectacular about that? Sprinkle Mc Cormicks cinnamon sugar over your pancakes and they steal the thunder from any major five star hotel breakfast any day. Make French toast which are shaped as stars, crescents or clouds served on a dark blue plate. Note - Save the extra bread pieces, blend them with milk, custard and vanilla essence, thrown in glorious raisins and bake the best bread and butter pudding for tea.
A one-of-a-kind marvelous, super duper breakfast is ready to be served.
For lunch, marinate chicken with tumeric, salt – pretty normal, and generously sprinkle Five Spices Chinese Herbs. Grill for 25 minutes. Throw in onions and tomatoes. Grill for another 15 minutes. Wow!
We also have this great looking cheese salad. Use toothpicks to stick cubes of cheddar cheese, apples, pickles and grapes all over an orange standing in a pretty saucer. Your salad is done Speaking of grapes, frozen ones make the best dessert – beats lemon sorbet any day.
You already have your tea pudding worked out. Nevertheless, once in a while, bake a cake or cookies with Kak Long and the rest. It can be fun or funny, depending on what comes out from the oven. Tell all your friends at the office your little girls made the chocolate lemon cake and her sister made the cookies – the budding chefs will remember that for a long time. Forever, infact.
During holidays, in addition to snapping family photos to fill albums back home, encourage children to draw. Bring along a sketchbook, one for each and everyone. Draw anything. Birds. Sea shells. Drift wood. A leaf. Your bedroom. A unique piece of furniture. Cute bath soaps. A waterfall.
Time slows down when you draw.
And while photographs are picture perfect, you can actually preserve the development of your children’s thoughts, skills and images that made an impact on them over the years.
Even the things you take for granted can be a fun point during the week. Avoid doing groceries on weekends. Everywhere is packed with people. Tempers flare up easily when you are waiting in line and there are too many people about. Do the grocery list together and head out on a Thursday. Save the weekend for the movies or picnics.
Get the children involved in everything from planning your open house menu to deciding on what furniture to buy for their room. I waited two years to buy a really good sofabed the girls wanted for their room so that they can use their own room for ‘entertaining’ during the day and sleeping at night.
Like everything else today, plan for memories. The more practice you have, the more spontaneous life will be.
By and by, build a lifetime of moments.
p/s ninotaziz is certainly no chef, can’t even be called a regular cook, she is merely a kitchen apprentice at best. And she is so-so at drawing.
If I could turn back the clock
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