A Little Girl named Lisa

I just finished The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. I really enjoyed it to say the least.

I have always had an fascination obsession with the Little House books and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The little details of pioneer life enthralled me. McClure really captured that fascination perfectly. As she did, I wanted to gather woodchips, roast pig’s tails and eat them on a stick, churn butter and color it with grated carrot in the winter, make maple syrup snow candy, stitch samplers, make johnny cakes, put hot potatoes in my coat pocket to warm my hands, sleep in a trundle bed and a million other pioneer-y things. I absolutely loved the Christmases in the book. Every year (even into my high school years and beyond), I would get out Little House in the Big Woods, The Long Winter and On The Banks of Plum Creek and reread the Christmas chapters.

I wanted to *be* Laura. I truly think being molded by the books at such a young age helped to fuel the domesticity-homesteading drive I seem to be having in my early 30s. I still want to do all those things and now I CAN. I realized as I read The Wilder Life, that I have been doing them. I’m baking bread. Last year I even tried my hand at making my own sourdough starter without store-bought yeast, something Ma did all the time. I didn’t have stellar results, but it’s on my list to try again. We’ve tried our hand at tapping our maple trees and making syrup. I knit and dabble in sewing, make candles and soap and try to cook nearly all of our family’s meals. We garden and “put up” for the winter. Sure, we do things on a much smaller scale, but I still feel a connection to Laura’s pioneer life.

I didn’t realize the magic in that yellow-covered nine book set ordered from the scholastic book club until I cracked the covers and began. “Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin in a little gray house made of logs.” And so it began.

Eleanore has already become enchanted by the Laura stories with the introduction of the My First Little House books. She loves studying the gorgeous illustrations, hearing about Laura’s adventures and quotes the books all the time. We’ve also already read Little House in the Big Woods as a chapter bedtime story and are almost finished with Little House on the Prairie. I’m finding I need to edit a tad occasionally while I read (she is only three after all), but they are making a great bedtime routine for us. I can’t wait for Adelaide to be old enough to participate, too, and there are so many crafts, recipes and lesson plans online for a huge homeschool unit someday. I hope they connect with Laura’s spunk and spirit as much as I did.

After all, we all have brown hair, just like our Pa’s.

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