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So let's talk about the romanticizing of Ma Ingalls.


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I have profound respect for Ma Ingalls. I am willing to admit that I am soft, spoiled, and inept by comparison. I do not have any faith that if our very survival depended on my abilities as a farm wife of 1867, that our family would make it! Nope, not happening. Especially, the "they'd be naked if I didn't sew their clothing" part!

 

First of all, despite our efforts to become more self-sufficient and I am still committed to this process, we have not been able to get the garden to produce.....stupid plants. So, I've been buying produce from a local Amish organic farmer. Food production, ARGH! Oh, well there is the complication of the ground hog that took up residence under the neighbor's shed, had babies, and then fed them in my garden, absolutely decimating what little of it that was producing, all in one day of ground hog escapades.

 

The purchased food has to be preserved so I've been canning and dehydrating while doing this homeschool thing and trying to keep the housework chaos under control. I have a pressure canner that can process 7 quarts or 14 pints or 21 jelly jars at one time, a washer and dryer, boys that are required to help, etc. I'm still behind.

 

I've canned 28 pints of salsa, 7 quarts and 4 pints of spaghetti sauce, 52 pints of green beans, and dehydrated three quarts worth of red peppers, one quart of grape tomatoes, one jelly jar of celery, one pint jar of leeks, and one pint of mushrooms. I STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO!

 

I'm tired of it already....grrrr....

 

We are making great progress on the school work but mount laundry is about to have a volcanic eruption and spew hot-molten lava of clothing all over the house threatening to destroy our home. I can't leave the room to do anything about it however, because the 13 year old is feeling quite needy about his algebra assignment and cannot concentrate if he gets more than 36 inches away from me.

 

HMMMMM.....my life as a professional pianist was not this difficult.

 

Hats off to you Ma Ingalls!

 

Faith

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Any ideass I hd of ever becoming Ma Ingaa flew out the door when:

 

a) I moved to the prarie and hated it.

 

b) A snake entered my house more than once and I completely lost it.

 

c) My chickens were eaten by some critter and I balled like a big fat baby.

 

d) I heard coyotes howling nearby.

 

e) We were stuck in our house for 6 days this winter due to snow drifts and all I wanted to do was disappear into the frozen tundra. That, and I kep visualizing scenes from "The Shining."

 

Ma Ingalls rocked, but I am no Ma Ingalls. I accept that.

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I have faith that if I had lived during those times I would still have been a teacher and would have been teaching at that little one room schoolhouse! I have a husband and 3 boys to work the farm. I can cook but sewing little girl's outfits.....no way. I would have bartered sewing for tutoring. :D

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I agree... but there is some trade off. Like laundry. If I was sewing everyone's clothes, then we would not have more than two outfits each. And certainly reducing each child to a single doll would give me back the hours of my life that I spend picking up Lego pieces....

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While she was sewing, preserving, gardening, and surviving, Caroline Ingalls didn't have to:

shave her legs

wear make-up

worry about wrinkles

go get her hair cut

take her kids to the orthodontist

drive her kids to football

shop at stores bigger than a football field

buy her kids more than one pair of shoes a year

manage family photo albums

make phone calls

travel long distances by car for family obligations

monitor her kids screen time

drive her kids to gymnastics

Call repair men and wait for them to arrive

sell coupon books for the basketball team

organize toys

(these are just things that have occurred in the past week around here)

 

I'm in NO WAY saying her life was easier, but it was more simple. She had time to do the things you are doing without the stresses of modern life on top of it.

Edited by Leanna
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Ma Ingalls had her own modern concerns. Like a bear being where a cow should have been, and wolves at the back door. To say nothing of being part of a wave of folks who were killing off, and pissing off the native population, so the repercussions of that were always a worry.

 

The Long Winter would have done me in.

Edited by LibraryLover
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Last night my husband and I were discussing her. The kids were watching a movie where a woman was churning butter, and it made me think of Ma. She must have been one tough woman, churning butter, scrubbing the floor on hands and knees, manually scrubbing laundry. Imagine the upper body workout she got just by living. Ma Ingalls could definitely kick my butt in a fight.

 

As for the housework, I don't know how she got it all done. Then again, she didn't have Well Trained Mind forums and email to distract her.

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While she was sewing, preserving, gardening, and surviving, Caroline Ingalls didn't have to:

shave her legs

wear make-up

worry about wrinkles

go get her hair cut

take her kids to the orthodontist

drive her kids to football

shop at stores bigger than a football field

buy her kids more than one pair of shoes a year

manage family photo albums

make phone calls

travel long distances by car for family obligations

monitor her kids screen time

drive her kids to gymnastics

Call repair men and wait for them to arrive

sell coupon books for the basketball team

organize toys

(these are just things that have occurred in the past week around here)

 

I'm in NO WAY saying her life was easier, but is was more simple. She had time to do the things you are doing without the stresses of modern life on top of it.

 

Most of the above activities are voluntary. We could easily do away with them and create our own "more simple" lives. Perhaps that is what the lure of Ma Ingalls is all about. The simplicity. We all need hard work in our lives in order to be happy (my opinion). We just have a choice now as to what kind of hard work we want.

Edited by Daisy
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I recently read that whole "Little House" series and was, on the one hand, truly inspired by the tenacity of the pioneers but, on the other hand, totally unable to relate to the lifestyle. Endless days of get up, cook breakfast, do chores, cook dinner...laundry on Monday, mending on Tuesday, bread baking on Wednesday, clean the fireplace on Thursday, stuff the matresses with fresh hay on Friday, canning on Saturday, rest on Sunday. Oh, the monotony of it all!

 

Now that I think about it...maybe that IS my life - same monotony, different era. :)

 

As much as I like to romanticize those days, I really love my discount department stores, fully loaded grocery aisles, SUV, internet, a pile of good books to read and my automatic washer and dryer!

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Most of the above activities are voluntary. We could easily do away with them and create our own "more simple" lives. Perhaps that is what the lure of Ma Ingalls is all about. The simplicity. We all need hard work in our lives in order to be happy (my opinion). It is just a matter of LOchoosing simple hard work or complicated rat race hard work.

 

:iagree: The hard part is cutting things out when everyone else isn't. I know it probably shouldn't be hard, but human nature being what it is, it's easier when everyone is doing what you're doing. (That's why we're on a homeschool support board.;))

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:lol: I give credit to anyone for even trying to come close!!!

 

I agree with LibraryLover - the long winter would have done me in for sure! It's painful to even read or think about how they survived day to day. It's time to read the series again - it's wonderful for putting life's difficulties into perspective and getting some gratitude. :)

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:lol: I give credit to anyone for even trying to come close!!!

 

I agree with LibraryLover - the long winter would have done me in for sure! It's painful to even read or think about how they survived day to day. It's time to read the series again - it's wonderful for putting life's difficulties into perspective and getting some gratitude. :)

 

How about that winter they survived on twisted hay for heat and nearly starved? Nope, not romatic at all.

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Keep in mind too that these books actually ARE a romanticized version of Ma Ingalls. They were written during the Great Depression to sell as stories for children and were meant as an income source for the family. No one wants to read about how horrible pioneer life was ;)! They are completely sanitized and should not be considered journals or historical accounts. I'm sure Ma Ingalls had her moments and they were probably more "real" than we will ever know!

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Hm... I hate living on a farm (been there, done that). I have insane allergies. Seriously, nature hates me and wants me DEAD. I have a black thumb of death- I tend to kill plants pretty thoroughly (so I guess the feeling is mutual). I don't sew or knit, and rarely finish a crocheting project. I do like to cook, but sometimes burn things and sometimes get a little too experimental. My housekeeping skills are also pretty sad.

 

In other words, my family would die very quickly if we were transported to the prairie in the 1800s. To be fair, my husband isn't exactly a lumberjack or anything. He's an indoorsey computer programmer who whines about mowing the lawn. :p

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Guest ME-Mommy
Most of the above activities are voluntary. We could easily do away with them and create our own "more simple" lives. Perhaps that is what the lure of Ma Ingalls is all about. The simplicity. We all need hard work in our lives in order to be happy (my opinion). We just have a choice now as to what kind of hard work we want.

 

So true... :) Thanks for the inspiration, Daisy!!

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I have profound respect for Ma Ingalls. I am willing to admit that I am soft, spoiled, and inept by comparison. I do not have any faith that if our very survival depended on my abilities as a farm wife of 1867, that our family would make it! Nope, not happening. Especially, the "they'd be naked if I didn't sew their clothing" part!

 

First of all, despite our efforts to become more self-sufficient and I am still committed to this process, we have not been able to get the garden to produce.....stupid plants. So, I've been buying produce from a local Amish organic farmer. Food production, ARGH! Oh, well there is the complication of the ground hog that took up residence under the neighbor's shed, had babies, and then fed them in my garden, absolutely decimating what little of it that was producing, all in one day of ground hog escapades.

 

The purchased food has to be preserved so I've been canning and dehydrating while doing this homeschool thing and trying to keep the housework chaos under control. I have a pressure canner that can process 7 quarts or 14 pints or 21 jelly jars at one time, a washer and dryer, boys that are required to help, etc. I'm still behind.

 

I've canned 28 pints of salsa, 7 quarts and 4 pints of spaghetti sauce, 52 pints of green beans, and dehydrated three quarts worth of red peppers, one quart of grape tomatoes, one jelly jar of celery, one pint jar of leeks, and one pint of mushrooms. I STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO!

 

I'm tired of it already....grrrr....

 

We are making great progress on the school work but mount laundry is about to have a volcanic eruption and spew hot-molten lava of clothing all over the house threatening to destroy our home. I can't leave the room to do anything about it however, because the 13 year old is feeling quite needy about his algebra assignment and cannot concentrate if he gets more than 36 inches away from me.

 

HMMMMM.....my life as a professional pianist was not this difficult.

 

Hats off to you Ma Ingalls!

 

Faith

 

 

I wouldn't want to do it. I can cook, can and sew, but I don't want to spend all of my time doing it. I help dh with the farming chores, but I don't want to do it sans tractor and combine, and neither does he! :lol:

 

Not to mention the smell. I like daily baths... for everyone... thankyouverymuch!

 

There are diaries in this house from when dh's great-grandfather and family first settled this land in 1879. I've read several of them. It was not happy-happy funtime fiddling 'round the fire. THAT'S for sure!

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The way I figure it, given a choice, Ma Ingalls would have shopped at Safeway and only canned when she wanted to.

 

Ma Ingalls did not have a choice. If the garden did not produce, the family went hungry. Failure to preserve enough food also meant lean times.

 

She did not homeschool, she did not have time. The children would have been kept home from school when their hands were needed. The housework was allowed to slip during planting and harvest times. Spring and fall cleaning would follow.

 

The family wore dirty clothes. They bathed once a week, and in the winter probably not at all. They had to entertain themselves - no tv, no radio, no Internet. Going to town was a big deal.

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While she was sewing, preserving, gardening, and surviving, Caroline Ingalls didn't have to:

shave her legs

wear make-up

worry about wrinkles

go get her hair cut

take her kids to the orthodontist

drive her kids to football

shop at stores bigger than a football field

buy her kids more than one pair of shoes a year

manage family photo albums

make phone calls

travel long distances by car for family obligations

monitor her kids screen time

drive her kids to gymnastics

Call repair men and wait for them to arrive

sell coupon books for the basketball team

organize toys

(these are just things that have occurred in the past week around here)

 

I'm in NO WAY saying her life was easier, but it was more simple. She had time to do the things you are doing without the stresses of modern life on top of it.

 

Ma Ingalls had her own modern concerns. Like a bear being where a cow should have been, and wolves at the back door. To say nothing of being part of a wave of folks who were killing off, and pissing off the native population, so the repercussions of that were always a worry.

 

The Long Winter would have done me in.

 

:iagree:

 

When you read books (others have written) about the Ingalls family, it really puts their lives into perspective. None of the girls were able to successfully bear children except Laura, and she lost one child. Rose, Laura's daughter had one child that died and then Rose had a hysterectomy. There's speculation the long winter contributed to the further health problems of the girls, and it passed to the next generation. I think it was Grace that died of diabetes eventually.

 

Ma didn't homeschool the girls either, even though she was a teacher at one time. That's where we see the advent of public school. The churches created school for the farm kids, as a charity of sorts.

 

My youngest and I are reading "Farmer Boy," and it is SHOCKING! I haven't read it in years. It doesn't feel romanticized AT ALL. School children KILLING a teacher and no one is able to do anything about it. Almanzo's Dad getting up in the middle of the night to wake the cows so they won't freeze to death. YIKES!

 

Give me my indoor bathroom, my morning cup of joe (at 9:00 am) and my romance novels please! I would rather live in this era!

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We went to De Smet a couple of weeks ago, pictures here and honestly, I would have really, honestly, hated living there as a pioneer. The claim shanty was teeny tiny and just plywood against SD winds, snow and temps. There were NO.TREES.AT.ALL to protect from the great plains HIGH.WINDS. (think blazing heat if it's from the south, and freezing cold from the north) The weather alone would have been brutal, and SD is where the Ingalls' finally "got ahead in life" (to quote a docent).

I looked around at one point and said to the docent, "pioneers were lunatics." Yep, that's my summation.

Yankton, SD (home of the state mental institution) was first started for the pioneer wives who cracked.up. And I don't hesitate for a moment to think I could have done the word required, though it would have been hard. It's just the constant, never-ending grind of living on the edge. My grandparents farmed in IN and from the 1930's to the 80's and my grandma would tell stories of hardship from then that just made me stand in awe.

I do think that Ma homeschooled about as much as the girls were in school. She was constantly having them memorize and do their math.

 

Yes, I LOVE the modern age, complete with running water, flush toilets, the internet and Carmel Dolce Lattes :001_smile: But with all that being said, I don't consider myself a wimp, either. I can and do work hard.

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One thing to also keep in mind is that Ma didn't know any different...it was the norm for her...whereas, we are looking at her life and comparing it to ours...I think that makes a big difference in how we see her.

 

Did anyone see that PBS mini-sereis that was done maybe 10 years ago where they took several families and some single people too, and transported them back to the pioneer times. They went through a series of "classes" to learn about how life would have been like, they were striped of all of their modern conviences (including female needs), they were forced to use bare equipment for planting and harvesting, cooking and baking, etc....if my memory serves me correctly, they lived through 2-3 seasons (so it wasn't a 2 week expereince)...they dealt with bitter cold and lots of snow as well as hot weather. I thought the whole thing was interesting. Once again, if my memory serves me right, when the whole thing was done, the people were interviewed and many of them who were very materialistic, choose to downsize some of their stuff and live a more simple life. I would like to see if I can watch that again sometime.

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Yankton, SD (home of the state mental institution) was first started for the pioneer wives who cracked.up.

 

I always remember when Laura was teaching & staying w/a family. She woke up one night to the wife standing over her bed w/ a KNIFE!! The isolation, possibly postpartum, and general harshness of life wasn't working for her. :eek:

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Last night my husband and I were discussing her. The kids were watching a movie where a woman was churning butter, and it made me think of Ma. She must have been one tough woman, churning butter, scrubbing the floor on hands and knees, manually scrubbing laundry. Imagine the upper body workout she got just by living. Ma Ingalls could definitely kick my butt in a fight.

 

As for the housework, I don't know how she got it all done. Then again, she didn't have Well Trained Mind forums and email to distract her.

 

Her house was TINY. Cleaning might have been more complicated but the whole house probably could have fit in my living room. And those kids WORKED from the time they were tiny.

 

Ma Ingalls did not have a choice. If the garden did not produce, the family went hungry. Failure to preserve enough food also meant lean times.

 

She did not homeschool, she did not have time. The children would have been kept home from school when their hands were needed. The housework was allowed to slip during planting and harvest times. Spring and fall cleaning would follow.

 

The family wore dirty clothes. They bathed once a week, and in the winter probably not at all. They had to entertain themselves - no tv, no radio, no Internet. Going to town was a big deal.

 

I'd miss a daily shower.

 

We went to De Smet a couple of weeks ago, pictures here and honestly, I would have really, honestly, hated living there as a pioneer. The claim shanty was teeny tiny and just plywood against SD winds, snow and temps. There were NO.TREES.AT.ALL to protect from the great plains HIGH.WINDS. (think blazing heat if it's from the south, and freezing cold from the north) The weather alone would have been brutal, and SD is where the Ingalls' finally "got ahead in life" (to quote a docent).

I looked around at one point and said to the docent, "pioneers were lunatics." Yep, that's my summation.

Yankton, SD (home of the state mental institution) was first started for the pioneer wives who cracked.up. And I don't hesitate for a moment to think I could have done the word required, though it would have been hard. It's just the constant, never-ending grind of living on the edge. My grandparents farmed in IN and from the 1930's to the 80's and my grandma would tell stories of hardship from then that just made me stand in awe.

I do think that Ma homeschooled about as much as the girls were in school. She was constantly having them memorize and do their math.

 

Yes, I LOVE the modern age, complete with running water, flush toilets, the internet and Carmel Dolce Lattes :001_smile: But with all that being said, I don't consider myself a wimp, either. I can and do work hard.

 

My dh and I live in Tennessee. We have a barn that is unheated and every winter when I go out there I wonder how in the world any one ever survived in S.Dakota before insulation was invented.

 

One thing to also keep in mind is that Ma didn't know any different...it was the norm for her...whereas, we are looking at her life and comparing it to ours...I think that makes a big difference in how we see her.

 

Did anyone see that PBS mini-sereis that was done maybe 10 years ago where they took several families and some single people too, and transported them back to the pioneer times. They went through a series of "classes" to learn about how life would have been like, they were striped of all of their modern conviences (including female needs), they were forced to use bare equipment for planting and harvesting, cooking and baking, etc....if my memory serves me correctly, they lived through 2-3 seasons (so it wasn't a 2 week expereince)...they dealt with bitter cold and lots of snow as well as hot weather. I thought the whole thing was interesting. Once again, if my memory serves me right, when the whole thing was done, the people were interviewed and many of them who were very materialistic, choose to downsize some of their stuff and live a more simple life. I would like to see if I can watch that again sometime.

 

I know one of the people who was on this show. It was called Frontier House. The families involved were SO STRESSED, it seemed to me. They spent like 3 months there I think. The historical people assessed the families in the fall and said that it was very unlikely that ANY of them would have survived the winter.

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I agree that people have a very romantic picture of that life. The other thing people don't seem to be taking into account? The amount of child labor. According to my mom's family (both sides farmers until my grandfather and his brother-in-law sold their farms and moved to the city, some of them still farm/ranch) kids did a *lot* of work.

 

When my grandfather was around 5 it was his job to watch the baby in the shade of the wagon while the family was working in the fields. One day he was digging in his mom's basket and found a bottle of cough syrup. It tasted like strawberry soda so they drank it. His mom made him pick 100 pounds of cotton to pay for it.

 

My grandmother says there were water jugs buried every other row in the fields. They were allowed to get a drink only when they reached the jug (or had picked 2 rows). This was Oklahoma, in August.

 

Churning butter? That was a kid job, not a grown-up job. The grown-ups did more of the jobs that required heavy lifting.

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I wonder how my daughters would write about me? Laura knew how hard it had been. She conveys it every once in a while when she has Ma speak sharply or put her foot down against further moves or bite her lips together.

 

Ma was clear about the things that were important to her. She knew that she must work hard, but she determined to make things as 'nice' as she could, and to teach her girls well.

 

Losing her baby boy, alone in a strange place, must have been the lowest time. Pa could have used the help of a son, and it was a heavy blow at a time when they really couldn't even make ends meet. Laura sanitised Freddy's death out of the story entirely. That shows me what a trauma it was.

 

So Laura romanticised Ma herself. Did she think the bare truth was too hrad for kids? Or had Ma taught her so well... least said soonest mended?

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I know one of the people who was on this show. It was called Frontier House. The families involved were SO STRESSED, it seemed to me. They spent like 3 months there I think. The historical people assessed the families in the fall and said that it was very unlikely that ANY of them would have survived the winter.

 

Oh wow....so you could tell what the expereince for them was REALLY like...I am curious...which one of the people did you know? I doubt I would have made it that long...

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I know one of the people who was on this show. It was called Frontier House. The families involved were SO STRESSED, it seemed to me. They spent like 3 months there I think. The historical people assessed the families in the fall and said that it was very unlikely that ANY of them would have survived the winter.

 

Oh wow....so you could tell what the expereince for them was REALLY like...I am curious...which one of the people did you know? I doubt I would have made it that long...

 

 

I won't say which family I know...but I will say that the producers did not portray ANY of the families accurately, focusing on the drama rather than the day to day living that they all had to deal with.

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I won't say which family I know...but I will say that the producers did not portray ANY of the families accurately, focusing on the drama rather than the day to day living that they all had to deal with.

 

 

Sure..but there was the day-to-day stuff they just didn't really know how to do going into it, either. If they had been brought up with the knowledge of those things, it would have been much easier for them to acclimate to what had to be done. Many of them were learning on the fly, which made it all much harder.

 

Man, I loved those shows. I wish PBS would do more of them. The 1940's house was great, too.

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Frontier House was an awesome show. It was a big culture shock, more for some families than others. Some got caught smuggling in things they weren't supposed to have. The teenage girls tended to want to run around in the fields in their underthings because all the clothes they were supposed to wear were too hot. And it was universally a wake-up call for the adult women--they all had way too much work, more than any of them had ever had to do in their lives.

 

I always think of the hardest I've ever worked in my life (when my ship was in drydock and we were doing hours of work with pneumatic power tools in the heat), contemplate rolling it with the roughest living conditions I've ever experienced for more than 2 days at a stretch (i.e., camping in winter, but minus the coolers, modern sleeping bags, portapotties, and shower truck), and having every entertainment I value simply gone, from computers to new books to read. Then add some general danger, take away most of the variety and at least half the quantity of food I'm accustomed to...

 

I'd probably crack up.

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So Laura romanticised Ma herself. Did she think the bare truth was too hrad for kids? Or had Ma taught her so well... least said soonest mended?

 

This is a really good question. You know, both my mom and my older sister have passed away and I find myself remembering the good things, the touching moments, who they were at thier best. When I talk to my kids or dh or friends about them, I tell them about thier victories rather than thier defeats and about their many strengths rather than their glaring weaknesses. I think it's because those positive contributions have left a void in my life now that they are gone. And I know, for me, the love and life we shared is what's been most important now that they are gone, not their flaws or weaknesses (or mine- which are many).

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Did anyone see that PBS mini-sereis that was done maybe 10 years ago where they took several families and some single people too, and transported them back to the pioneer times. They went through a series of "classes" to learn about how life would have been like, they were striped of all of their modern conviences (including female needs), they were forced to use bare equipment for planting and harvesting, cooking and baking, etc....if my memory serves me correctly, they lived through 2-3 seasons (so it wasn't a 2 week expereince)...they dealt with bitter cold and lots of snow as well as hot weather. I thought the whole thing was interesting. Once again, if my memory serves me right, when the whole thing was done, the people were interviewed and many of them who were very materialistic, choose to downsize some of their stuff and live a more simple life. I would like to see if I can watch that again sometime.

 

YES!! What was the name of that PBS Mini-Series??? I've been trying to find it on Nexflix but can't remember the name...HELP!

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Frontier House

1940's House

1900's House

Colonial House

and one in ancient times that I can't remember the name of (might not have been done by PBS)

 

Oh!

Texas Ranch House

Manor House I'd forgotten about these two.

 

Does anybody here know where one can see these...I would love see the ones I haven't seen.

 

Kathy

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My guilty little secret is that I don't really like Ma (but don't tell my kids!). It was a big deal to Laura when Ma laughed or smiled, and she discouraged any laughing or joking among her own children. Plus, while I realize that this was more typical for her time, the whole family recognized the unreasonableness of her strong hatred of Indians.

 

Of course, if I led the kind of life Ma did I might turn out just like her or, God forbid, worse. I love those books, and I don't think they sugarcoat life much at all. Everything is delivered in such a simple, matter-of-fact way, that if you aren't paying attention you miss the drama of what's happening in the story.

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Oh wow....so you could tell what the expereince for them was REALLY like...I am curious...which one of the people did you know? I doubt I would have made it that long...

 

 

I won't say which family I know...but I will say that the producers did not portray ANY of the families accurately, focusing on the drama rather than the day to day living that they all had to deal with.

 

is that the way all of those "reality" type shows are...I think this we made when reality tv was just starting.

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My youngest and I are reading "Farmer Boy," and it is SHOCKING! I haven't read it in years. It doesn't feel romanticized AT ALL. School children KILLING a teacher and no one is able to do anything about it. Almanzo's Dad getting up in the middle of the night to wake the cows so they won't freeze to death. YIKES!

But I love the story when the parents go out of town for a week and leave the kids alone and they eat ice cream the whole time. An interesting story on many levels.

 

I too liked the Pioneer House (and the others).

 

I have seen what it's like to live without electricity and so on, and people do tend to get carried away, although there are certainly nice things about that lifestyle, it's a hard life.

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