Monday, May 19, 2014

Kristen: Coupon for my Shop!

It's been a stormy spring, to say the least. I'll check the weather several times a day, and southeast Michigan might experience a severe thunderstorm, flash flood, and bubonic plague. I promise there's a coupon in this post, be patient!
 (Hint: $5 off a box/basket/purse. The code is BOXES5)
https://www.etsy.com/shop/VictorianNeedle?ref=si_shop
Vintage costumes included!
With that said, I've had quite a bit of time to play indoor soccer and sew. Since you probably don't read this blog to hear of my utter success as a soccer player (seriously, I'm actually scoring goals!) I'm going to include a bit about my baskets. They have been my latest obsession.
Whenever I have a bit of spare time, I find myself pouring through Godey's, Arthur's, or Peterson's. I've noticed that every one includes descriptions of some basket or another, all using the same technique. So I went a little crazy! It's nice to have research to back up my work, but this is kind of getting out of control...

Since I only need one of these little sewing baskets, I thought they would be a great addition to my shop. With that, I'd like to reward my dear readers who endure my incessant rambling...with a coupon! I'd like to free up some space in my house, so please enjoy this $5 off any purse/basket and buy one of these boxes before I become a hoarder. The code is BOXES5. Or the sale ends. The code is BOXES5.This is a responsibility for the entire reenacting community.
Consider this my cry for help

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

~Kristen

***If you purchase during May 23-26, I will be at the Greenfield Village reenactment and thus unable to access technology. Orders will be sent out that Wednesday.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Kristen: Some 19th Century Thoughts on Mothering...

Let me begin this post by saying that I do not have children. While I have spent numerous hours babysitting younger siblings/cousins, changing diapers, and chasing around said hooligans, my experience as a mother is...non-existent. Sometimes my students accidentally call me "Mom," but that's about it.
What did you call me?

With that said, my recent travels into the 19th century ladies' magazine universe has unearthed a wealth of knowledge that must be saved. In honor of Mother's Day, I will share this research!

Godey's Ladies' Book/Leslie's magazine are a wealth of knowledge, especially for mothers. I could imagine being a young mother then, awash with the good intentions of family and expectations of nurturing a healthy child. The text validates those fears, soothing with stories of successful mothers and the fruits of their labor. Death seems to loom at the edge of the pages, with an emphasis on learning to deal with the loss of a child.
Leslie's, December 1862 

THE MOTHER'S FIRST GRIEF. She sits beside the cradle And her tears are streaming fast, For she sees the present only, While she thinks of all the past— Of the days so full of gladness, When her firstborn's answering kiss Thrilled her soul with such a rapture That it knew no other bliss. O those happy, happy moments, They but deepen her despair; For she bends above the cradle, And her baby is not there. 

There are words of comfort spoken, And the leaden-clouds of grief Wear the smiling bow of promise, And she feels a sad relief; But her wavering thoughts will wander, Till they settle on the scene Of the dark and silent chamber, And of all that might have been; For a little vacant garment, Or a shining tress of hair, Tells her heart, in tones of anguish, That her baby is not there. 

She sits beside the cradle, But her tears no longer flow; For she sees a blessed vision,    And forgets all earthly woe. Saintly eyes look down upon her, And the Voice that hushed the sea Stills her spirit with the whisper, “Suffer them to come to Me.” And while her soul is lifted On the soaring wings of prayer, Heaven's crystal gates swing inward, And she sees her baby there.
If I was a young mother, I could imagine mixed emotions from such words. And yet, how many women lost children? It must have been a small comfort to read them if a woman had experienced the loss, that she is not alone in her grief. Thus is one of the great perils of Motherhood! Yet Godey's does offer more than sadness and fear in terms of children.

Yes, the Nursery Department offers all the beauteous little bits of clothing and novelty to decorate any child! The time it must have taken for such little endeavors; the work of these women never ceases to amaze me. Having watched Becky stitch up a similar baptismal gown, I can only imagine the hours spent on each piece! Godey's remains sentimental on such matters of clothing, offering a poem to an article that even I gush about for children:
Godey's, April 1859
BABY'S SHOES, BY W C BENNT.

     
      OH, those little, those little blue shoes!
      Those shoes that no little feet use!
     Oh, the price were high
      That those shoes would buy,
     Those little blue unused shoes!
     
      For they hold the small shape of feet
      That no more their mother's eyes meet,
     That, by God's good will,
      Years since grew still,
     And ceased from their totter so sweet!
     
      And oh, since that baby slept,
      So hush'd, how the mother has kept,
     With a tearful pleasure,
      That little dear treasure,
     And o'er them thought and wept!
     
      For they mind her, forevermore,
      Of a patter along the floor,
     And blue eyes she sees
      Look up from her knees,
     With the look that in life they wore,
     
      As they lie before her there,
      There babbles from chair to chair
     A little sweet face,
      That's a gleam in the place,
     With its little gold curls of hair.
     
      Then, oh, wonder not that her heart
      From all else would rather part
     Than those tiny blue shoes,
      That no little feet us
And whose sight makes such fond tears start.

I imagine that one of the greatest triumphs as a mother is for the child to grow healthy and happy out of those little baby shoes. But what after that? Godey's addresses her fears, sympathizing with the empty-nesters. 

                                                                    Godey's, May 1864

   THE MARRIAGE OF THE FIRST-BORN. BY AVIS OCULUS. 

      On of the greatest trials In a mother's life Is to give up her first-born to the caresses of another; the parting with one over whom she has watched with such anxiety and solicitude from the day he first nestled in her bosom. How that fond mother's heart swells with emotion as she witnesses her son, her almost idol take the vows that bind him to another; no more her own, and hers only! Is it any wonder that her heart burns with sorrow, when she knows that another must share with him his smiles and his tears; that another must be his confidante; that another must take the first place in that heart where she, before, reigned supreme?
     
      We cannot blame her that she weeps and mourns, and that she has misgivings as to her idol's future; she knows that there is adversity as well as prosperity; that her son has taken upon himself a great responsibility; yet she tries hard to make herself believe that all will surely be well, and smiles through her tears as she kisses her son and new-made daughter. Thus wavers that fond, loving heart between hope and fear as to the future happiness of her first-born, in this, his most important step in life.
     
      The congratulations are over; the mother, as in some strange, sad dream, has bidden them both— her darling and his bride- “good-by,” and the carriage containing them rattles away to convey them to the cars, in which they are to commence their wedding tour. A mother's blessing goes with them. She returns, sorrowful and dejected, to her now desolate home, where his cheery voice and his elastic footstep will be no longer heard, except when, at long intervals, he visits his childhood's home. She prays for their happiness, and— these are a mother's prayers.


Even today mothers cry about these moments, suffering a happy loss. I'm told that dropping a child off at college creates hours of tears, and I've seen so many mothers tear up at a wedding. Though I do think daughters and sons leave their parents differently. A daughter seeks her mother for so much after she leaves home, though possibly not for fashion advice!

After my bits of research, I have discovered...that I still know very little about mothering. I have gained more respect for the trials and triumphs of mothers, in a context I had not yet imagined. While my time in that high office has not yet occurred, I look forward to all the joys that it will one day bring. Happy Mother's Day to all of you toiling ladies, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, whatever. Your nourishing role is a sacred one!

And by the way, I totally love it when my students accidentally call me Mom...

~Kristen

Monday, May 5, 2014

Kristen: Cynthia's Christening and a Family Heirloom

So this past Sunday I had the opportunity to share a blessed day with little Cynthia Rose and her delighted parents (the recently engaged Becky and Andrew). As a new Godmother, I take my responsibilities very seriously...which of course include gushing about the whole thing...

The baptism is a powerful moment in our faith, one that I truly cherished sharing with all present! It was wonderful to feel a spiritual connection with the family, as well as assisting Becky and Andrew to help Cynthia on her journey. My own Godmother is something special (and crazy, but you won't be reading this, will you Auntie Sonia?) and my Godfather's passion for history helped to spark my reenacting career. I can only hope to be as awesome as them for little Cynthia!

You may have noted the amazing white gown that she wore for the ceremony. I watched this little dress come together. How many people can say their own mother made their christening gown? It was a labor of love, culminating on that beautiful day when everyone admired its craftsmanship. Someone even asked if it was a family heirloom, to which I replied: "It is now..." Each little stitch represented her love for Cynthia! I'm just getting gushy...

Did I mention that Cynthia smiled while she was baptized? I'm not even kidding, or trying to brag about her. She totally did it, and I will tell her that when she gets older. Though I apologize now, I will be doing some bragging in the future...

I love these little reminders that there is a much bigger plan at work, that we are here for a greater purpose. While the baptism was perfect, I look forward to being a mentor, friend, and most of all Godmother. My family keeps growing, with laughter and love!

~Kristen

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