Category Archives: brother bears

Photo Friday

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

I think Garth Williams made that covered wagon look bigger than what it was…


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Filed under brother bears, little minivan on the prairie, Minnesota Nice

Little House in the Big Woods

A week ago, my minivan was loaded up with three adults, three children and one infant and we headed east into Wisconsin. Our destination was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthplace near Pepin, Wisconsin. It’s nice to start at the beginning of a story.

Our drive to Wisconsin took us along the shore of Lake Pepin which is referenced in Little House in the Big Woods. In my mind there was Lake Pepin and then further west was the Mississippi River which the Ingall’s crossed at the very last moment ack! before the spring thaw to go to Kansas in Little House on the Prairie. Turns out that it’s both Lake Pepin AND the Mississippi River. (Or technically it is only a lake and the Mississippi is both its inflow and outflow, but whatev. It’s the Mississippi River too.)

Along the way we stopped at several historial markers, one of the first was the one for Maiden Rock, which I began reading aloud to the kids before realizing it was about a Dakota girl who threw herself off a cliff after being forced into an arranged marriage. Thank goodness for convoluted historial descriptions like “Nothing could be found of her until morning, when they discovered her at the foot of this precipice, down which she probably precipitated herself.” Precipitated. I want to work that word into a sentence every day.

We arrived in the town of Pepin and pulled up to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum there to check it out and get directions to the Little House Wayside site.

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

It looks a little hokey but it’s fine. They have a small display of period furnishings, a gift shop and a nice lady who will give you directions to the log cabin as well as a recomendation for lunch. Which you should definitely get at Two Old Guys directly across the street.

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

They have great BLT sandwiches of thick bacon on freshly made bread, decent homebrew beer and award-winning ice cream. The ‘Two Old Guys’ who served us was really nice. We complimented the beer and he brought all of the adults very generous samples of the three other kinds of beer they brew. After he served our food, he looked down at Henry and said, “All you need it ketchup!”

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

After lunch we drove about seven miles east of town up a long curving hill to the site where the Ingalls once lived. There is a replica of their log cabin. A trip to this Laura Ingalls Wilder site is mostly about getting an idea of the lay of the land. Driving up to the property you can imagine what a trek it would be to drive a wagon to and from town – especially going uphill on the return. The book describes the area as being heavily wooded though today it is mostly cleared and surrounded by corn fields.

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

My boys are 5 , 4 and 7-months; still a little young for the Little House books though John and I read part of Big Woods and all of Farmer Boy this spring. Still they enjoyed examining how the cabin fit together “like Lincoln Logs” and we talked about everything that wasn’t in the cabin like running water and bathrooms. John was trying to piece together how long ago it was that Laura lived – “Are Laura and Farmer Boy dead?” – so this is really a trip better suited to kids who have studied a bit of American history and can understand things like timelines, etc.

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

But, let’s be honest, this trip was about the grown ups and the kids were just along for the ride. I still have my hardback copy of Little House in the Big Woods. It was given to me at my 4th birthday party by a family from our church in western Kentucky. Some of my favorite childhood memories include reading it at bedtime with my mom.

From Laura Ingalls Wilder Pilgrimage

If you missed the rest of the pilgrimage:

The Wilder Life

Walnut Grove

On the Banks of Plum Creek


Filed under brother bears, little minivan on the prairie, stuff i read

To My Mother

Dear Mama,

I think of you often as I go about my day with John, James and Henry. When I tell them little jokes I remember how you used to tell us “What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming over the hill? ‘Oh look. Here come the elephants over the hill!'” When I drive over the back county roads here in Minnesota, I remember how you used to drive a little faster over the back roads near the Farm just so we could get that thrilling little roller coaster feel when we went over a hill. Sometimes the boys will ask me for treats at the store, and every fifth time I’ll say yes and think about how you used to let Tim and I split a package of Little Debby chocolate cupcakes with the white cream filling when we were out shopping with you.

John and I have been reading Farmer Boy together before bed, and I remember at our house on Michael Avenue when you would read Little House in the Big Woods to me before bed – Chapter 8, The Dance at Grandpa’s is still my favorite. James told me he wanted to get a dog and a kitty cat the other day, and I told him we would when we move to the country.

I realize that so many of the things you taught me – to work hard, to not complain, to be cheerful in the tasks God has placed before me – are all lessons I find myself working to instill in the boys every day.

So you see, you are very much part of who I am and, no doubt, who John, James and Henry will one day be.

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Filed under family matters, one for the grandparents


One of the fun things about our 5-year-old son John being able to read is he’s also able to text. My sister Rachel is in Swaziland this month on a clinical rotation for her Physicians Assistant program, and John has been sending her messages though iMessenger. Here’s an example of his messages without spelling assistance (though I did help him with “Swaziland”):

Love John I. Love you rachel haw is your.         Day John Swaziland from john I  love you Rachel love John hav a grat      Day Rachel love Ed  I  love    You Rachel  hav a  graet  day Rachel love John I  love you Rachel hav a graet day

Don’t you just want to hug him?


Filed under one for the grandparents, stuff i read

Cold Lunch

John is on the National School Lunch Program at his elementary school and he qualifies to have free hot lunches at school. Given the new baby any everything, it’s been nice not having an additional thing to remember to do every evening. But starting last month John and I would go over the next month’s lunch menu and he would request certain days to bring a cold lunch if they weren’t serving something he was interested in eating.

Last Thursday was a cold lunch day and I packed a cute little no-trash lunch for him with all five food groups and a note in the bottom of his sandwich box with a joke that I personally found hilarious when I was around his age.

What’s grey on the inside and plastic on the outside??? An elephant inside a plastic bag! 

(When I was six it was funny.)

John forgot to bring his lunch box home last week and finally brought it home today.

Hey! Guess what’s red on the outside and squirmy on the inside??? John’s lunch box!

Ants. Ants. Ants. ANTS. ANTS. ANTS.


I just drowned them all in the sink but it still feels like they are crawling all over me.


Filed under adventures in parenthood, beer please, brother bears

Photo Friday

Puppy and Tuck-tuck – From December 2011

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Merry Christmas

From December 2011

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Filed under brother bears, holidays, milestones