"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

USA Pans

A few of my friends told me about the USA pan about a year ago and I'm so glad they did!
These pans are made with aluminized steel and have a thin coating of silicone on top.
You never use cooking spray and hardly anything sticks to them.

Just turn the pan over and the baked good usually just slides right out. I made cupcakes in my USA muffin pan without muffin liners and not one of them stuck and all I had to do was wipe a few crumbs out of the pan afterwards.  (The photos below are of the pan before washing it.)

I don't have a picture of any of my bread loaves but I have the one pound and two pound loaf pans
(one of my friends very generously got me two for a present last year ;) and I use them all the time.
No sticking, and hardly any clean up. (On the pans, that is... the counter top and floor are another matter.)

So if you want to invest in something that will make your baking life a whole lot easier 
(and they are an investment, somewhere around $20 a pan) these would be worth considering.  
Or just hint to someone to get you a couple for your next birthday!

Okay, so I bake a lot.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Is It

As a young woman I would daydream from time to time of what my married life with children would be like someday.  I did not yet know who my husband would be or what my future children would look like, but vague visions of them occasionally filled my mind. I would see myself reading stories to happy children while we sat in a circle on a sunshine strewn living room floor, or perhaps, an adorable dirty cheeked little boy, a football set down on the chair beside him, reading his schoolbook aloud to me while I kneaded the bread for dinner, or maybe we'd be taking a walk together on a crisp autumn afternoon, or singing together at the piano, or even cleaning the house together. But there would be laughter, appreciation, discipline, joy, wonder, and love.

It seemed realistic. I'd witnessed bits and pieces of those things happening in families I admired.  I had good examples of Christian women, wives, and mothers around me. I knew they worked hard (although I could never have known then just how hard), yet they loved and were loved. I looked forward to being like my idea of them. My future life was like a distant rainbow, just on the other side of the meadow.  Sometime, in the years to come I would reach it, I hoped.

Fast Forward.

Now here I am, just having passed my seventeenth wedding anniversary, with seven children.

A few months ago I was doing what I do every morning after having sent the older children to school and finishing the continuously interrupted breakfast clean up.  I was giving my youngest three children (we'll just call them numbers 1, 2, and 3) their morning bath. It went something like this. Undress children, 1, 2, 3. Place children in tub, 1, 2, 3. Dump in toys. Wet down hair, 1, 2, 3. Wash hair, 1, 2, 3. Wash faces. Wash noses. Let's get on with it. Tell children to put toys back in bin.  Grab towels. Lift children out, 1, 2, 3. Dry....  and on as usual.

But this time, as I watched my children laughing and splashing, pouring cup into cup, and rolling out their washcloths with make believe rolling pins, it struck me.

This is it.
This is your life, your real married life, with your real children. Now.

That future life you imagined all those years ago? It's been here for a while now.  That rainbow you saw across the meadow of coming years? Those storytimes, bathtimes, laughtertimes, lovetimes? That's now. You're in it. You're under it. The sunshine and the rain that fall on you in so many ways each day that make that rainbow.  This moment with these innocent, lively, trusting children is the pot of gold.  If you don't see it now, you never will.  Because this is it.

So if you find yourself like I do at times, being driven forward through your day's routine and shuffling your children along in your strife to "get this done" so you can move onto the next thing and then "get that done" so you can move onto the next, then hopefully, by the grace of God, you can be stopped dead in your tracks. Dead enough to see those bright little eyes right in front of you, and gaze at them in wonder, and realize, "this is it." There's no next thing.  There's nothing better in this life than this.  This moment, this bathtime, is made for you and for them. This is, as they say, the stuff life is made of. It's to enjoy, not get through. These are sons and daughters of God growing up before your very eyes, unique and incomparable gifts, made in His image, and also miraculously procreatively made in the image of your husband, the man God has given you to care for in this life, and yourself.

Yes, there is suffering and there is joy. There is rain and there is sunshine. And when they come together in just the right way, then is made visible the seven vibrant colors that were in the light all along.  Sometimes we just don't see it... because we're in it.