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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pioneer Farms

We spent this past Saturday volunteering at the Pioneer Farms in Austin. I was so excited to have this family day out in the sunshine, away from phones and computers.

The site we hosted today was a one-room homesteading cabin in a clearing of the woods. It's removed from the village and the other farms, so it's very quiet and relatively isolated.  I really enjoyed learning the history behind the structure and the details of daily life.

Unluckily, my camera was left behind in the van, so all I have from the day are mental snapshots. I tried to soak up the images and create memories of my favorite moments. Here are some of the things I took away from the day:

Sarah was very eager to show visitors how to wash clothing on a washboard in a metal tub of water using homemade soap. She did such a great job teaching the children how to do it. She'd run inside the cabin and fetch more clothing to clean whenever she spied visitors coming down the dirt road. She also fetched the cast-iron iron from the back of the cabin and showed them how to press the clothing. This is such a difference from her usually introverted personality. It was fun to watch her blossom!

Daniel observed Sarah washing the clothes and tried (very eagerly) to apply what he learned. He ran in the cabin and fetched a dirty tin plate. He excitedly rubbed it with soap and dutifully began rubbing the plate against the washboard! We all had a hearty laugh. This snapshot I hope to always remember.

Matthew really loved carding cotton. We had a basket full of cotton pods and we'd pluck out the seeds and comb the cotton. Matthew kept one of his carded sheets of cotton to add to his 'nature' collection at home.

I loved watching Matthew and Daniel play marbles on the wooden cabin floor.

I loved watching Matthew and Daniel play with wooden blocks on the cabin porch, spelling words and building walls.

Sarah loved playing with the wooden plates, tin cups, crockery jugs, and cast iron pots to make pretend food out of water, leaves, and fireplace ashes. She also  loved washing the dishes when I explained the ashes and water are caustic when they are mixed, and shouldn't be placed in wooden containers.

I enjoyed walking through the quiet woods behind the cabin with our children, listening to the birds above us and the wind in the trees. We did a hunt for different blossoms and enjoyed looking at God's beautiful creations.

Daniel loves playing with sticks, so he was very excited to find a ready supply of sticks on the ground anywhere he went. He performed enthusiastic sword fights with the support beams that held up the porch roof. He was winning until Daddy intervened and launched the wooden sword to the woodpile.

We had no running water on our homestead site, so the boys carried a large metal pot with me as we walked through the woods to the Tonkawa Indian camp, where there was running water in a supplies shed. We filled the pot and carried it back, discussing the blessing we have of sinks and showers in our real modern-day  home. It was a blessing to be reminded of the things that bless our daily lives.

Nathan gathered the children under a grove of trees and taught them how to whittle. The children all scoured the woods for perfect sticks to whittle.  I loved the image of them sitting in a circle on the grass learning something new together. I could hear them laughing and talking from my perch in the rocking chair on the porch. This was one of my favorite mental snapshots. Matthew kept his whittled stick to add to his treasures at home.

I loved watching our children run along the dirt roads, Sarah's braids dancing in the air and  the boys laughing as they raced each other.

I love period clothing, so just the image of everyone wearing old fashioned clothes made my heart sing. I think men are immeasurably more attractive when they look like a real gentleman. Nathan looked great in his costume. It was also so fun to see Sarah in a 1860's dress with pantaloons, apron, bonnet, and black boots. I loved it!

On our way out of the village, we stopped at the store and let the children have 50 cents to spend. The boys picked candy sticks and Sarah picked a collection of pretty marbles.

Next Saturday Nathan is working as an apprentice in the blacksmith shop, and we're excited about that. I am determined to remember my camera so I can capture these moments better. We are hoping to go to the farm every Saturday. We'll see how this new adventure goes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nathan's poetry-Visitors


An awkward acquaintance and poor host is Time;
our alliance not quite apropos.
Interim guests in an unwelcome clime,
we drift in its river-like flow.
Forgetting- as salmon, defying the stream,
obsessed with its urgent commotion-
that we exist not for this dark, death-bound dream
but a tranquil and unending ocean.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Holi part 2

Another picture of the HOli festival. Nathan is giving children a ride on the rickshaw. This wouldn't load earlier, so it's a late post.

This one I couldn't figure out how to rotate, so just tilt your head to the left. This is Matthew after he tried to wipe of the dye. What a comparatively squeaky-clean face!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Holi!

We celebrated the Indian holiday of Holi this month. Some of our friends have lived in India, whether for work or missions, and they organized a Holi festival. It was so much fun!

One of the families imported a rickshaw when they moved back to the USA, so it was a highlight of the evening. A rickshaw is a bicycle with an attached metal carriage. It's used like a taxi in India. The children loved piling into the carriage and riding up and down the residential streets. Each of the husbands took turns serving as the fuel source. The rickshaw was very heavy and had only one gear, so it was a bit tricky to drive.

We enjoyed a wonderful Indian feast, which is the highlight for me. I love Indian food very much, so I relish any opportunities to enjoy it! It's very fun when there are several varieties of dishes so I can try lots of new things. YUM! Whenever we go out to eat (which isn't very often) I pick Indian restaurants. On my birthday I prefer Indian desserts over the traditional birthday cake.

The culminating event was the dye-fight. Holi is a day when Indians buy powdered dyes and throw them at each other, completely covering your clothing and skin. Our hostess had made several bags of dye in red and yellow, so the guests all chased each other and dusted them with color. It was so much fun! I've always wanted to particpate in Holi festivities, so this was very memorable. Matthew really got into the spirit of things and dyed everyone with gusto. Sarah hid in the house because she didn't want to ruin her pretty shirt. Daniel had been run over by the rickshaw right before the dye fight, so he only came out at the very end and was given the last bag of dye to play with. Nathan had stayed inside to comfort Daniel and only came out at the end. Luckily Dan's ankle didn't suffer lasting damage from the intimacy with the rickshaw wheel, so he perked up and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Nathan's poetry #2

(This next one he wrote about an experience when he tried to swallow a
pill and it became lodged in his's pretty funny! It makes me think of Shel Silverstein's style of writing)

The daring young pharmaceutical...

"He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,That daring young
man on the flying trapeze."
--George Leybourne

   So feral and free,
   a grand sight to see,
a laugh ever found on his lips.
   With ease,
   he deftly commands the trapeze
as he somersaults, tumbles, and flips.

   No care on earth
   can hamper his mirth
as he dances, unfettered by all.
   Nor thought
   of the spot
he would make in his wake peradventure that he should fall.

   Freedom and speed
   are the hour's only need;
he mocks you- those bound to the ground.
   You hear him sneer
   as he flies past too near;
his cape makes a WOOSHING sound.

   Oh! But what's that?
   What appeared o'er the brat?
Water! It pours from the sky!
   Not rain, but a torrent,
   a Niagara-like current,
gushing from endless supply.

   Suddenly solemn
   'fore the mighty wet column,
our trapezist appraises his plight,
   Yawning beneath-
   a chasm with teeth
it seems. No circus in sight.

   Half drowned in the surge,
   but resisting the urge
to concede and so plunge down the maw.
   He dangles in dread
   as he hangs by a thread
in a cavern resembling a jaw.

   I choke and I gag,
   feel my uvula wag,
try to chug down the obstinate pill.
   Gulping a liter,
   a novice drug eater
perhaps; but I'll finish him still.

   Though nasty and bitter
   I'll not be a quitter,
determined to swallow my foe.
   Oh! My bad luck!
   How he ever got stuck
I'm sure I never will know.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nathan's poetry

 Nathan has been gifting me with poetry lately. I absolutely love poetry, and these have been dear to me. I have always admired Nathan's innate gift with writing. He is so eloquent that it makes my heart melt.  I wanted to post a few poems here, over time. This is the latest work:


Jump up, move, ascend in haste.
The work exceeds the day.
Awake, arise, hear, breathe, feel, taste,
Morn pulls its urgent way.

The sailors pause; their lines go slack,
The Captain shouts to stop their ear,
The siren's lyric lures them back,
The wrecking rocks loom near.

Fight, soldier muscles. Fight!
Forbid this war end here.
We've slept already through the night,
Will we sleep on through the year?

An argument, my mind to sway-
An angel by my side.
Her sleep-flushed cheek a rose bouquet.
My temptress and my bride.

An ivory arm embraces 'round,
Her head rests on my chest.
Her breath, that soft, endearing sound,
Calls me back to rest.

The army settles into bed,
The general sinks down deep.
I compromise, recline my head,
Again I fall asleep.

Enjoy the morn; Think not of the cost,
Sweet seconds to be tasted.
Was ever a battle more happily lost
Or an hour so well wasted?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Joke Journal entry

 This is Daniel's version of the classic Primary song. He takes big artistic liberties, but this is the way he sings it every time:

Book of Mormon stories that my teacher bought for me.
Long ago the Lamanites came walking across the sea.
Given this land, this old land, Righteously!

A rather large Update

 (Note: Pictures are coming soon. The website was having problems and wouldn't let me upload them. Check back again later!)

Some big news in our neighborhood is this: Matthew lost his first tooth. This event has been eagerly anticipated for at least two years (ever since Matthew observed Sarah's first visit from the tooth fairy). He ran through the entire house, eagerly squealing his news to any animate object. He scrubbed his tooth really well before he put it under his pillow, and he included a note to the TF asking for $2 instead of $1 since his tooth was so clean. It's obviously more valuable than 'other' teeth.

Sarah sewed all by herself on my sewing machine for the first time. She has been begging me to teach her how to use it, so on Sunday we sat together to sew a hankerchief. I taught her the safety rules and the basic functions. She used the pedal herself and knows how to lock stitch, sew a straight line, make a basic turned hem, and turn the fabric while sewing. She was immensely pleased and promptly took her trophy to Dad to show off her budding skills as a seamstress. She has been asking me each afternoon since then if we can sew another project. I think it would be fun to let her sew her own pillowcase. Once again, it's a simple project with nothing tricky (darts, tucks, curvy contours, etc.) to mess up. I wonder what fabric she would pick if I let her have her choice at the store. 

Recently we decided to pop popcorn without the lid on. We laid a clean sheet on the living room floor and sat in a circle around the machine. The air popper blew the popped kernels into the air and the children would catch it and pretend it was snow. It was so much fun! Speaking of snow....

We've been blessed with a snowy day in central Texas, so the children really enjoyed staying home from school and playing outside. Alas, stores generally don't carry mittens, gloves, and other snow essentials, so we froze pretty quickly. Sarah was inventive and layered 4 socks on her feet and used Dad's socks for mittens when her token pair of mittens because too water-logged and cold. She made a teeny snowman on the trampoline, and made a friend to go with it. Matthew was so excited to make a snow angel on the trampoline, and he also enjoyed jumping on the trampoline to watch the snow bounce around.  Matthew and Daniel really enjoyed pelting me with snowballs, then coming inside for hot cocoa (prepared by Dad, complete with whipped cream and hazelnut syrup) by a crackling fire. Luckily Texan store DO sell firewood, mostly for creating a winter ambiance in the home.

I have finished sewing Sarah's pioneer dress, and she loves it. She can't wait to wear it to the pioneer farm in Austin.  We are applying to be historical reenactors at this farm. I've been very interested in living history museums and historical reenacting lately, and we hope to do this as a family vacation this fall in Arizona, at one of the largest American Heritage festivals in the USA, and again in Virginia, at a Civil War reenactment that lasts 9 days. The biggest draw to me are the balls. Doesn't every little girl dream of being at a REAL ball? I know I sure did, and still do. It's one of those wishes that I very much hoped to see fulfilled, but never really expected to see happen. (A few of the others on that list include swimming with dolphins, having an art piece on public display(check), writing a book, doing an art/cultural history tour of Italy, attending REAL operas and ballets (double check), and exploring ancient Mayan ruins.) I found out that most historical reenactment societies host a few balls each year, and everyone comes in period clothing and dances the same dances tht would have been performed for that time period. How fun!! I am bent on attending one of these balls, and I'm planning my ball gown now so I have plenty of time to get the fabric on sale. The hardest part of the ball costuming is finding patterns for male evening wear. I am trying to put together a formal suit for Nathan, but those patterns are demmed elusive, and the finished products at costume shops are ridiculously expensive: $200 for just the suit coat! I am irrevocably attracted to the smart cut and snug fit of the clothing of an early 1800's gentleman of England. Think of Mr Darcy. No wonder he's a classic romance in literature: he wears such nice clothes! We'll see what I can come up with for my own gentleman's attire.