Books

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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This post is an edit of the original, written in 2017. 

Little House on the Prarie (and I know I’m not alone when I say this) is one of my most favorite series.

Sure, it’s a kid’s book and sure, the events took place a long time ago. But like all good books, there are parallels between daily life that transcend time.

Ma (or Caroline) Ingalls is something of a superhero. I have no doubt that she had her faults, as we all do. But in reading through the series, her character as told by her daughter Laura has helped me realize some things.

First of all, that my house is incredibly messy and could stand to be cleaned more often. But secondly, each of the following four themes gradually developed in my mind as I mulled over the series: words, bravery, creativity and self-care.

Join me as I take a look at a well-loved series and a character that has inspired me for quite some time.

 

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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Strong Women Speak Softly

All throughout the books, Ma almost never raised her voice. And her family heard her better that way. There was strength in her quiet word, although there were times when she did raise her voice and for a good reason.

(Such as in Little House on the Prarie, chapter 2…when the girls needed to be quiet and still when the family was crossing a rushing river in a covered wagon.)

I try to remember this when I struggle to keep my voice even out of frustration. Soft words will come through loudly because of their power. A person has power, or control over themselves when they speak softly. And those they are speaking to have to listen carefully.

 

Fear Nothing…Slap the Bear

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Ok so I’m not advocating for literally going out and pressing your luck by hitting a real live bear. However, if you happen to do so…you can pretty much declare that you have no fear in life.

“Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I’ve slapped a bear!”.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 6, Two Big Bears, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Hard Work and Creativity Will Get You Far

One thing about Ma (or Caroline) that always inspired me was her incredible work ethic. She was such a hard worker. Most of this was probably due to the sink or swim mentality that pioneers by nature had to posess.

Pioneers had to constantly be thinking of ways to reuse things. Ways to get or make what they needed from raw materials. Trash was almost unheard of, because they used everything. Oh for simple days like those!

We have more options and resources at our disposal nowadays. But the fact remains the same: We can do little with much if we put on our thinking caps.

One example from Little House in the Big Woods is when Pa Ingalls makes a grater for Ma out of an old pie tin. She uses this to grate carrots, so she can add a bit of color to her homemade butter!

 

Be Pretty, Even When You Work

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Caroline is often decribed by Laura as wearing a pretty calico dress, which she never got messy thanks to her trusty apron.

“Then [Ma] rolled the sleeves of her flowered calico dress above her elbows, and she knelt by the tubs… Ma looked pretty…while she scrubbed and rubbed the corn in clear water. She never splashed one drop of water on her pretty dress.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 12, The Wonderful Machine, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

And it makes me think. Isn’t life, even life spent within my own home just a whole lot better when I make the effort to look nice?

Please understand that I’m not against pajamas. Because life happens, and we sometimes need a break.

But I think self-esteem, and consequently what others think of us is tied to how prepared we are for the day. When I take just a little effort and get showered, dressed and fix my hair just a bit before the kids wake up…I feel so much better. A little bit of self-love goes a long way 😊

 

Just a little bit of Little House to brighten your day ☺ Stay warm out there!

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Books

Summer Reading Goals {what I’m reading right now}

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Hey everyone!

Summer. Sweet summer. When I think of summer I think of books.

Oh yes. Books.

Give me all the books. Let me go out and get more books. Let me sit in the a.c. and read all those books.

Mountains of books!

Ahem.

Worked myself into a book frenzy. Anyways.

I have this habit of starting so many books and then not finishing them for some reason or another. 

To help resolve this issue, I decided to narrow down my list to 5 books I want to work on finishing. I am more or less actively reading these books. And lets face it, I probably won’t finish them all by August but this is a start.

 

My Current Reads This Summer

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1. Fountain Creek Chronicles, by Tamera Alexander

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 689.

  • book #1: Rekindled
  • #2: Revealed
  • #3: Remembered

Why I love it:

This particular series is set in Colorodo Territory (western US) in the mid- to late 1800s. I enjoy this particular time period and westerns have piqued my interest lately.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what I love about these books. Maybe its the fact that the characters are so real, so genuine in their struggles. They are committed to their faith.

The author walks a fine line here with providing just the right amount of detail to make the story flow. I also like her gutsiness to write about topics that not every Christian writer would. And she does it with eloquence and grace.

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2. The Magnolia Story, by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Genre: Biography.

Pages: 184.

Why I love it:

Most people are familiar with the dynamic duo that is Chip and Joanna Gains through their show, Fixer Upper. One of my friends (who is a fan) loaned me this book.

Chip and Joanna have a cute story. Joanna is so…Joanna and Chip is so crazy! I’ve enjoyed reading about the “ages and stages” of their lives…and how they got to be famous!

 

3. The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman

Genre: History/ World War I

Pages: 368.

Why I love it:

This one. This one is very deep and quite detailed. I’ve found I cannot do this book justice by reading it quickly. So, just like the classics I’ve been reading this novel slowly.

The book is based on the true story of Jan and Antonia Żabiński, a Polish couple who manage the Warsaw zoo during the Holocaust. What is so special about them? The synopsis says that “..[they] managed to save over 300 people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages”. Although I haven’t yet reached that point in the story.

I can tell that this book will be heartbreaking and beautiful. It is full of rich detail and I know that it will touch my heart.

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4. The Cranford Novellas, (Girlebooks) by Elizabeth Gaskell

  • Cranford-16 chapters.
  • Mr. Harrison’s Confession-31 chapters.
  • My Lady Ludlow-14 chapters.

 

Genre: Novel

Pages: 134 pages.

Why I love it:

Earlier this year I finished Gaskell’s North and South and I liked it (for the most part).

My thoughts on Gaskell’s works are hard to explain. I like her books, but they can be slow and the characters not as easy to like as say…Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet.

When I read that Cranford was supposed to be her best work, and saw a preview for the BBC series I decided to read it. The show came out in 2007 but apparently I missed the boat haha.

I am currently having some difficulty following the storyline and need to find some sort of spark notes to help me.

I did really enjoy the beginning of the novel. I found it to be quite humerous and entertaining. This book seems much more…easygoing? than other novels of hers.

 

5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Genre: Fantasy.

Pages: 306.

Why I love it:

It’s J.R.R. Tolkien. Need I say more? His writing style is beyond amazing. And it’s no wonder, when he devoted such a large portion of his life to the series.

I don’t read much fantasy at all but I can definitely make time for a little Tolkien ☺

 

Any books on your summer reading list? Now’s the time to knock them out! Stay cool out there! ❄☀🌻🌺

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Travel

5 Favorite Things {on our FL vacation}

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1. The beach, of course!

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We did a beach day yesterday and everyone absolutely loved it. How could we not? Sure there was sand everywhere and we all got a little burnt. But what is that compared to nature’s loveliness?

Something about the beach soothes my soul in a deep way. Beautiful, beautiful beach. We will miss you!

 

2. Knitting squares.

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In my last post I mentioned that I was just learning to knit. For our vacation I decided to bring my knitting supplies so that I could knit on the long drive. I do have some traveling anxiety and this has been awesome to help with that. Knitting is very therapeutic 😊

 

3. A favorite read.

I’ve been reading quite a few different books on vacation but one of my most favorites has been Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

It is absolutely wonderful the way she combines the beachscape and different kinds of shells with just life and motherhood. It sounds like a simple concept and it is. I just really fell in love with her soothing, yet relevant writing style.

 

4. Local flora.

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Some of you know I love looking at plants and studying them. This one seems to be very common in Florida. It is a weed but I still think it’s lovely.

After a quick bit of research I believe this is Bidens alba, also known as Spanish needles. Wikipedia says that the leaves are edible but I didn’t test that one out.

 

5. This salad.

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This salad was 100% wonderful. We walked down to a produce stand where I bought beet greens and Florida strawberries and oranges, among quite a few other things. So good and way better than anything up north where I live.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the aloe vera leaf (for our sunburns) I bought before I cut it up. It was as long as my arm…and only 90¢!

Wishing you all warm and happy thoughts!

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