What About Those Missing Years?

Shores of Silver Lake

 

As soon as we  cracked open the new Little House book, we had a few surprises. (click on links below to find sites to validate times, places and events)

 

Laura is now a teenager.  There are three missing years, since the Ingalls family only lived in their Plum Creek dugout from 1874-1876.

 

Between reading Shores on Silver Lake and doing research, we discovered some pain in those three years.

1. Ingalls family moved to Iowa and back. While there Pa helped run the Masters Hotel.  (See amazing  photos here. Really amazing photos.)

2. They had a son named Frederick who died. 

3. The family faced Scarlet Fever and Mary lost her sight.

4. Ma and Pa disagreed over moving west for several years.

 

As a wife and mom, my heart ached for Ma. Losing a child would be pain enough, but add in illness and poverty and I can only imagine how Ma was able to keep waking each morning. Some people air their pain like laundry on a clothesline, others hide it away.  But, it never goes away.  In one place I read, Ma was known to have claimed things would have turned out differently if only Frederick had lived. Laura loses a son, as does her daughter, Rose.  The family chooses to say very little about their pain, but we know it goes deep.

 

As a very young mom, I met a dear older woman who was visiting our fellowship and I asked if she had children.  The tears began flowing. She struggled for words to tell me about the death of one of her children.  Even though the death had occurred over 50 years ago, and she wasn’t bitter or angry at the Lord, she still missed that child.

 

My imagination and my experience in life fills in the blanks about these missing years.

 

 

I feel a little annoyed each time Pa decides to move them again, I long for them to settle.  This is the first time you get the idea that Ma actually put her foot down and kept it there for two years.

p. 3  “Pa did not like a country so old and worn out that the hunting was poor.  He wanted to go west.  For two years he had wanted to go west and take a homestead, but Ma did not want to leave the settled country. And there was no money.”

 

 

When a relative showed up offering him a job, Pa made a quick decision to pack the wagon and move to Dakota Territory.

p. 4 “Ma still did not want to go west.”

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Docie had driven her wagon 196 miles to offer Pa a mouth-drooling salary of $50 a month to run her husband’s store. They have another 111 miles to go fro Minnesota to Dakota Territory.

Pa sold his entire farmstead for $200.  He has a chance to make $600 a year, enough to buy three farmsteads.  No wonder he didn’t wait very long to answer. 

p. 6 “I hope it’s for the best, Charles,” Ma replied, “But how –“

“Wait till I tell you!  I’ve got it all figured out,” Pa told her.  I’ll go on with Docia tomorrow morning.  You and the girls stay here till Mary gets well and strong, say a couple of months…you’ll all come out on the train.”

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Ma lifted her foot and Pa left her alone with two small children, one teenager and a newly blind teenager. 

 

 

p. 7  “I am sure we will manage nicely with Laura and Carrie to help me.”

 

With amazing strength of spirit, Ma accepts more change,  loneliness and having to start over again.

 

Four Generations of Button Savers

On the Banks of Plum Creek
Chapter 13

Our assignment in the Prairie Primer was to make a button string.

 

“That afternoon, when Carrie was asleep, Ma beckoned Mary and Laura.  Her face was shining with a secret.  They put their heads close to hers, and she told them, They could make a button-string for Carrie’s Christmas! (p.90)

 

Beka and I decided to make the button string for the Carrie doll in our Ingalls family dollhouse. We had to pick out the tiniest buttons from my collection.

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It’s way more enticing to sort my family’s buttons on a Jadeite Jane Ray desert plate. I have some from my Grandma Geneva, from my Mom and I’ve been adding to the collection for years. Rebekah has started collecting buttons, so we have four generations of button saving in our sewing cabinet. Like the women before me, I never cut a shirt into rags before cutting off all the buttons. I used to shove shirts in the “All You Can Fit in a Bag for $1 Sale” at the thrift store just for the buttons. 

Beka and I love fingering through the buttons, sorting and imagining. We can feel the history and the thrill of creation that has passed through the generations.

 

Ma had saved buttons since she was smaller than Laura, and she had buttons her mother had saved when her mother was a little girl. (p. 90)

Mary had one end of the string and Laura had the other.  They picked out the buttons they wanted and strung them on the string.  They held the string out and looked at it, and took off some buttons and put on others.

One day Ma told them that this was the day before Christmas.  They must finish the button-string that day.” (p.91)

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Then quickly, quickly, Laura and Mary finished the button-string. Ma tied the ends together for them. It was a beautiful button-string. (p. 92)

 

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Carrie’s eyes and her mouth were perfectly round when she saw it.  Then she squealed, and grabbed it and squealed again.  She sat on Pa’s knee, looking at her candy and her button-string and wriggling and laughing with joy. (p. 94)

 

For the fire in our fireplace we use a battery operated tea light.  We cut all the extra plastic off and stacked pieces of wood around it.  It keeps the dolls warm on a winter day.  Even though the Ingalls family didn’t have one, we added a small Nativity scene to the mantle to celebrate Christmas.

We love reliving the stories of Laura Ingalls through our dolls. It’s been an amazing way to add the thrill of discovery and creation to our homeschool life. When Beka has a hard time knowing what’s school and what’s play, I know something is going right in our home…..or would that be school?

Even the Dutch Love Little House

The first thing I saw when I turned on the TV in our Amsterdam hotel
a few weeks ago was
Little House on the Prairie reruns.

One channel has voiced over in Dutch with English subtitles
and another was in English with Dutch subtitles.

They wanna’ make sure everyone can watch Laura and her Pa.

I also think they had to have ONE channel that wasn’t inappropriate.

Of course, I haven’t watched American TV for years,
we only use our TV for videos, but it was pretty ….
well, it wasn’t Christian.

Thanks to the BING translator, I was able to translate for you.

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“Please, Pa.”

“Thank you.”

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“Tasty.”

When I translated tasty in English to Dutch, this word didn’t come up.

I think a better translation, according to my scant research, would be
“It’s a good thing.”

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“Not as sip. There are more rounds.“

“You’re going to win.”

(OK, the translator doesn’t always work,
but it still has been a great tool to use.)

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“The winner of the second round,
Charles Ingalls.”

Either the Dutch  think Michael Landon is good looking
or they wanted to learn to chop firewood.

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“But he is a lot older than me. And then you become tired much earlier.”

As usual, Pa is giving advice and Laura is listening.

Maybe this is why adults like this series,
we can pretend that is really us and our children are hanging onto every word.
In fact, maybe some day our children will write a whole bunch of books
on how great their upbringing was and how wise and beautiful their parents were.

Hey, parents in many countries  can dream!

Bladder Up!

It never fails.

We’ll be sitting at a baseball game,
like an All American family,
and my hubby will embarrass me.

He never yells,
”Batter up!”

He has to yell,
”Bladder up!”

After 26 years of marriage,
I am still madly in love with this guy,
but still don’t think this is funny.
Nor is the fact that he only has about three jokes,
and none of them make me laugh.

Good thing he’s so stinkin’ cute.

The Ingalls girls were so hard up for toys,
they were thrilled to play with a blown up pig’s bladder
after helping their Ma and Pa butcher.

 

SERIOUSLY DUDE?
THAT IS TOTALLY GROSS!
That’s what this generation would say.

 

EEWW!
Was anybody else totally disgusted by this?
My daughter, Beka, and I tried to talk through this.
We discussed how they had almost NO toys.
They had almost no friends.
Work was a daily part of their life.
Surely, if we were in their shoes,
we’d be thrilled with a bladder balloon, too?
Right?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I dunno.
Maybe Laura didn’t understand anatomy at her age,
and that her toy used to have urine in it.

No matter how much I love Little House,
I wasn’t going to buy a pig’s bladder.

Instead of visiting the butcher, we went to a party store.

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I pondered for awhile,
then asked Beka what color looked the most like a pig’s bladder,
silk white, silk ivory or milky white.

With slight pre-teen annoyance she answered,
”I don’t know, Mom, I’ve never seen a pig’s bladder before.”

Yea, DUH, I knew that.

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We opted for Silk Ivory.

 

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My adorable granddaughter, Brookelyn, joined us for this educational activity.

 

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So did her our neighbor, Norah,  the daughter of Kelly-Across-the-Street
featured occasionally in my
Momma Mindy’s Moments blog.

 

It makes it extra fun to come to Gwamma’s house AND
have a best friend across the street.

 

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Plus, it adds life to our Gifted and Talented Class with only one student.

 

 

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We popped a few and lost a few over the fence.

 

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Volleyball didn’t quite work out and neither did catch.

It  wasn’t a long-lasting thrill.

Maybe our kids have too many toys to be thrilled by a balloon.

Maybe a balloon isn’t that fun.

Maybe Laura made it seem so fun so butchers for the next 100 years
would be selling bladders.

Maybe if you’d never owned a ball in your life,
it would have been a blast.

It’s really, really hard to walk a mile in Laura’s shoes,
and be thankful for the bladder entertainment,
so it makes her writings even more special.

But maybe our activity wasn’t that special because we didn’t have Dad yelling,

 

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“Bladder up!”