Sunday, October 3, 2010


I recently reread Little House in the Big Woods which, you may know, is the first book in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. Of course I've read all of the Little House books at least once before and I'm pretty sure that I've seen every episode of the TV series at least twice, but once I picked up that tattered copy of Big Woods I just couldn't put it down. I mean, c'mon, the blizzard! Ma accidentally slapping the bear! The fiddle dance party and Grandma outjigging wild Uncle William! The action and adventure just doesn't stop with that Ingalls family.

Have I mentioned before the most amazingly awesome job perk ever? My school has thirty minutes of silent reading three times a week built into our master schedule. The entire school essentially shuts down so everybody can read. Yes, I am getting paid to read Little House books!

Which is why I am refreshed enough to haul the kids out for an afternoon run with the stroller. And some beautiful fall weather. And a praying mantis.

MaryAnne and I are running a 5K on Sunday. It's Race for the Cure- you should join us.

So, back to those Little House books. Man, life was hard back then, what with the panther attacks and the snowstorms and the isolation. That first book takes place before the family came west and had the luxury of shopping at Olsen's Mercantile (Nelly!) and they pretty much lived out in the middle of nowhere and only went into town once a year to trade Pa's furs and buy calico fabrics. I remember when I was a kid and reading these books I felt so sorry for Laura. She's pretty easy to sympathize with because she has that perfect older sister who can do no wrong and Mary has golden hair while Laura's is just "plain brown". Plus she has like a bazillion chores to do and practically no toys at all. Oh, and didn't your heart just break when the apples fell out of her dress in front of the entire school! OMG! Most painful-to-watch episode ever!

But now that I'm rereading the series I think Laura is kind of a brat and really the person to feel sorry for here is Ma. Damn that lady had to work. Churning the butter, darning the socks, cooking in what I can only imagine was a prehistoric kitchen, scrubbing the clothes on a washboard, the list goes on... Three kids and a husband! That's a lot of food and laundry. And then Mary goes blind? WTF? Poor Ma. She never had a book club to go to and sip wine while complaining about her husband. She never got a pedicure. Ma never stormed out of the house for some retail therapy. Ma was a martyr.

But did Ma ever get PMS? Didn't she ever get mad at Pa for playing that stupid fiddle all the time? Didn't Baby Carrie ever throw a temper tantrum? And just how do you live in a "little house" with three girls and a husband who works the fields all day long and only takes a bath on Saturday night? Ma is my new hero.


Ma has given me perspective.

My life is pretty easy.

See? My kids have actual pots and pans to play with. Poor Laura had to dress up a corncob and call it a doll. I guess I can still feel sorry for her, too.

(Jack is refusing a haircut. I just might have to do it while he's sleeping.)

In the spirit of Ma, I sallied forth with my food preservation obsession this weekend and cooked down veggies into broth for the freezer, baked and pureed pumpkin for cookies and pies, and let Brent tackle a mountain of corn. He can help. It's not like he was busy hunting bears or threshing a field or anything.

And then we went to a birthday party at Roaring Rapids Pizza and the kids got all cracked out on birthday cake and rode a carousel. I'll be sure to remind these kids that they live in the lap of luxury when I read the Little House books to them.

Sawyer's carousel face was... well, I'm really not sure what was happening here. Was he laughing? Was he crying? We couldn't really tell. But he seemed to want to ride it over and over again so we'll just assume he was having fun. Hard to say, am I right?

Friday night I got all fancied up with Amberlee (she brought me a dress from Spain!) and we went out for a swanky dinner, just the two of us. I ate pickled watermelon in a salad that literally exploded in my mouth (in a good way) and then we drank countless glasses of wine. Countless, I tell you, although I am pretty sure that I did not need that last one.

But that's okay, I was drinking one for Ma. Cheers.

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