Chili Tastes Better with Joy

Part of my Operation Recipe Swap experiment is to try to emulate the spirit with which each dish was intended/taught to me.  If my friend is teaching me about the joy she has in preparing a meal, I want it to learn about that joy as much as I want to learn about the meal; they’re part and parcel.

Remember how Kim said she learned the Silly Greek Chili recipe from a friend who first received it as a gift when she had her baby?  Guess what!  My sister-in-law JUST had a baby!  This was quite convenient!  I would get the chance to replicate the circumstances with which Silly Greek Chili is meant to be cooked and eaten. Obviously, my sister-in-law did that just for me!

Meet my doll-faced niece, Vivien. Continue reading

Highlight Reel – Daddy Love

I had time this weekend to tackle a job I’ve been wanting to do for ages.  I have two Rubbermaids full of photographs, which have acted as the dumping ground for all the loose, miscellaneous photos, from back in ye olde days when we used to print our pictures.  I’m going to organize them.

It’s the kind of job you can never justify because life is super-busy.  If you had the time, you would probably clean your bathtub, clip your toenails or, if you hate organizing, run your fingernails along a chalkboard.  But it’s also a job that you have to MAKE time for or it will in no way, un-unh, never ever get done.

Even if you make time it may never ever get done because after a whole day of doing this, I just got started. The livingroom has photos strewn about in various piles.  Sorry family, the couch, chair, ottoman, credenza and floor are sorting stations indefinitely.  Plus, inevitably, it triggers memories.  One photo can captivate you for minutes while you recall the events surrounding it, the people who were there, wonder where they are now, and gosh that was a hideous outfit.

I keep hearing Come on, Mom! when my daughters find their naked baby ones, which I can’t decide to file under blackmail or wedding slideshow.

While there are definitely some terrible photos in the lot – poor lighting, awkward stages, close-ups – all the pictures here represent a highlight reel.  J-M and I have our separate photos from before we met, and then a conjoining of our pictures around 1996.  We added little people a while later.  We see friends come and go and return in this highlight reel.  It is a celebration of moments.

Of course, the photos don’t necessarily represent the Every Day Cockrams.  We don’t document all  of our moods, weather-patterns, mundane chores, petty arguments, house-cleaning, boredom, technology use, phone calls, grocery shopping, quiet conversations, book-reading, loneliness, naps… The day-to-day does not get featured.  This is a highlight reel and to look at these pictures is to celebrate what’s special in life, like milestones, friendship, events, and laughter.  While I do have a couple Rubbermaids full, these celebrations are few and far between.  Plus, we used to develop in doubles.

Anyway, since this blog IS about documenting Every Day Cockrams – what, you didn’t know? – I thought I’d share some of the pictures that gave me pause and the moment surrounding them.  These ones are all about Daddy Love – that special bond between daughters and Daddies – captured in small but impressionable ways.

Mallory is 3 months old in this picture.  John-Mark, not much older.  This is in his Hanson phase.  He’s always played guitar at home and, over the years, singing to the girls has become a way to soothe them, calm them down, or put them to sleep.  The habit may have started in this moment.  I had been out that evening, but left Mallory, who was unwell, with John-Mark.  I came home to see Mallory propped up and content, John-Mark’s miniature audience.

Daddy is drawing an exact likeness of Pooh Bear, with Mallory micro-managing.  We got rid of Pooh Bear soon after – he had a creepy talking voice that scared Mallory when he incessantly asked for “more hugs, if you please.”  The picture, though, is a keepsake.

Daddy might not be in this picture, but he’s in this picture.  This is before we were good at picture-taking and posing our “candid” moments with a perfect background by clearing out extraneous items.  That would mean we’d have moved Sophia’s sandals, which she kicked off in order to see what it was like to walk a baby mile in Daddy’s flip flops.

I flashed this picture at the girls and said, Quick, give me four words in two seconds to describe this photo.  Ball in the Hall! they shouted.  For the few years we lived in this old house, the hall was a sacred play area to roll a rubber ball aggressively back and forth to Daddy with nothing and no one getting hurt, kind of like a padded room.  It was the girls’ favourite.  After looking at the picture longer, Sophia also gave me 7 more words, “I remember that wallpaper!  It was peeling.”

Mallory was a flower girl at a family wedding.  She had food poisoning from a meal the day before, but was a total trooper and didn’t complain all day. She behaved worthy of the tiara on her head.  She just took frequent breaks to be held by Daddy, which meant, bonus for me, he got the task of running her to the bathroom.

How come even doing chores with Daddy is fun?

Who will go on Blast Off with his toddlers, too scared to try it otherwise, now thrilled cause he’s there?  Daddy, that’s who!  Check out the girl to the right of Sophia.  She’s not having it.

Gosh, it was hard to choose which photos to put up.  I left out toe-nail clipping, and some snuggling on the couch sequences, among many others. Now that the girls are older, the Daddy Love looks a lot more like playing games around the table, sharing a joke, going for a bike ride, making fun of Mommy.  Moments become a little harder to capture as we all mature.  But the love is no less special.