the surveyors' house

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society of De Smet has done a wonderful job preserving the buildings and grounds where Laura and her family once lived.

In her book, On the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura and her family moved to De Smet, SD, in 1879 and spent their first winter living in the railroad surveryors' house. We were able to go inside and tour this house which Laura considered a "two-story mansion." No one on the tour is allowed to take pictures, but if you've read her books, I'm sure you can imagine it just as Laura saw it, because she's such a descriptive writer. In fact, every place we visited last week was exactly how I imagined it to be. When we drove through this little town back in January, I didn't even need a map to find my way around. I felt as though I had been there before.

On this same site are 2 other buildings. One of the buildings is a replica of the Brewster School, in which Laura took her first teaching job. The other building (which you can see in the left hand corner of the picture above) is the public school that Laura and Carrie attended.

The school building had been turned into a family residence. When the historical society bought this building, they removed several layers of wallpaper from the walls and found the original blackboards beneath.

 Outside the Brewster School

  Sticks of hay, just like Laura and Pa made in their lean-to during the Long Winter.

 Right across the street from the Surveyors' House is the Ingalls-Wilder Park. I loved that the picnic tables have red and white-checked tablecloths on them--just like Ma's. 


a little dream come true

Last month, Phil planned a little trip to take me to visit the Ingalls' Homestead out in DeSmet, SD, and to see Laura's dugout site in Walnut Grove, MN.
Phil is so good to me. Remember my first prairie homestead experience and how we got stuck in the snowbank? He's such a good sport to drive me all the way back out here!

So, if you're not a big Laura fan, I apologize. You might want to check back in a few weeks, because I have LOTS of pictures to post! Seriously, this was a dream come true for me. The entire time we were away, I kept saying to myself, "I can't believe I'm walking where she walked!"

The first day we arrived, we checked into a bed and breakfast on the main street in town that used to be the old bank. It was right across the street from the site of Pa's building and store in The Long Winter.
 That evening we drove out to the homestead to attend the annual pageant. This year they performed Little Town on the Prairie.

We went on a wagon ride before the play and I took this picture of the 5 cottonwood trees that Pa planted--one for each member of his family. I'm a little obsessed with these trees. I couldn't stop taking pictures of them or talking about them for that matter. I'll probably mention them in every post. You've been warned.
A little snow cone break during intermission

More to come...much, much more. :)


 Last month our family flew to California to spend 3 glorious weeks with our extended families. Phil and I are very blessed to have both sets of parents living just minutes away from each other.

The first week we were there, the kids attended VBS at Gramma's church and Phil and I took off and headed to the coast for 4 days. We rented bikes and rode around town to lunch, the farmer's market and dinner.

Our final week was spent enjoying our annual Cousin Camp! We order Cousin Camp t-shirts and the cousins get together for a week of fun at Gramma's house.

This year they enjoyed a giant water slide, a bounce house, movie nights, a trip to the California Coast, go-cart and tractor races, roasting marshmallows, a scavenger hunt, a talent show, and putting together a care package for a cousin who is serving overseas in Afghanistan.

We love the ocean! We've been blessed this year to be able to say that we've seen both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans this year.

We made really cool tie dye t-shirts with sharpie permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. You can find a tutorial here.

The Annual Talent Show
Go-cart races!


summer days

We just got home from a 3-week long family vacation in Sunny California. I have a ton of pictures to sort through and several to post, but for tonight, I'm just saying "hello, and happy summer!"

We're enjoying lazy summer days around here while trying to get back into a routine and adjust to Central Time. 

Here are a few things that made me smile today:
Sunflowers on my kitchen window sill
Lily's outdoor painting station
Gracie speeding along with the vacuum cleaner--look at her go!