Sunday, June 7, 2009

Old State Capitol Living History, Springfield, IL

This post will probably be a bit boring, since I am absolutely exhausted from chasing a certain two-year-old around yesterday and more than anything I want to just lie upon the couch and feel the cool breeze coming in from the open door, smell the smell of flowery buds and blooms wafted upon said breeze, watch the young ones playing on the floor (or to be more accurate, the two Eldest fighting over the same box of raisens, although they both have their own individually, with Malachi wide-eyed and excited, his wee heart throbbing in his bosom at the sight and thought of Food, gaze fastened upon the exact same box of said Raisens with every muscle and fibre of his being straining to be able to reach them to insert them into his mouth) - since, in short, I wish to be Lazy.

It is work to take a two and a half year old, a one and a half year old, and a four and a half month old to a Civil War event and to decently watch them. It was so much easier last year when Judah was not yet walking. It was so much easier the year before that when David was our only baby and he was not yet walking, or crawling either. I look to the future of next year with a certain sense of dread as I know by then Malachi will also be walking. Three little boys to guide and train in obedience and who, for reasons known best to themselves, decide to defy us and test us while we are in public. Except for Malachi. He is almost always good and sweet and is content for the most part to be passed round or to lie upon his wee quilt and chew on his hands or his feet.

The First Thing That Tempted the Boys:

The Fence.
We arrived at the beautiful Old State Capitol yesterday morning. The event went from the 5th-7th, but David decided a day trip on Saturday would be the best thing for us and the boys. We had beautiful weather and went to the medical encampment upon our arrival. The grounds of the Old State Capitol are enclosed within a tall iron fence. This caused both David and Judah much interest and curiosity. Even Big David seemed interested in the fence. I wonder if little David will be as tall as his daddy someday?Once the excitement of sticking ones head through the spaces in the fence wore off, Judah wandered about the medical encampment and was for the most part, for the time, good. Little David excellently presumed that since there was a fence, there must be a gate or an opening somewhere, and set off in earnest pursuit of it. For, of course, the outside of a fence must be very much more attractive than the inside. I pursued him as he ran . . .and ran. . .and ran. . . Reason #1 why I am tired today. I ran too. I think the mingling Public and other reenactors saw more than their share of my drawers and stockings. Oh horrors.
The Second Thing That Tempted The Boys:

The steps of the Old State Capitol.

A very great set of steps led to the doors of the Old State Capitol. Once little David discovered these, I thought I could find relief from my perpetual motion. Alas, I was most wrongly mistaken. Up and down my Eldest Son climbed. But he was not content to stay in the same area and climb up and down while I sat on the steps and watched. He had a certain ability to blend in with the Public and tried to go into the capitol building when I was not looking. There was also a deep "ditch" around the capitol building that led into the lower story. This ditch began at each side of the steps and little David continually tried to lower himself into it. This caused great alarm on my part and contributed to the reason I am tired today.

Here you can just see the hem edge of David's tunic as he climbs on the steps, in front of the man in the blue sack coat.
A real-life photograph (I had no idea my husband, back in camp, was taking these pictures!) of a concerned Mama stooping to grasp her son before he ran in front of the photographer and caused a certain boy-shaped blur on the tintype that was being taken. A brief period of relative peace was enjoyed as we looked for a place to have lunch. We each received a $10 meal coupon so we walked around, trying to decide where we would like to eat. We walked quite a ways before settling on a little restaurant called Robbie's, just south of the Old State Capitol. Inside it was cool, and dark. The boys were very good and although they did not eat their lunch they enjoyed the cold lemonade they got and the crackers the waitress brought to them. It was a bit of a treat for us to have a meal "out", all together. We do not go out to eat very often and almost never with all of our children. This was the first time that all five of us went "out".

When we went back to camp in the afternoon Malachi was soundly asleep and the two older ones were very tired. I spread Malachi's little quilt on the grass and he woke up for a little while when I moved him to it.
Judah laid his weary little body down next to his "beebee".
Little David went back to the steps. So I did, too.

When the two littlest became active again we took all three of them down into the "ditch". We thought that since the ditch was U-shaped, ending in a dead-end at the front and back steps of the building, it would be a good place for the boys to run since there was only one set of steps leading down into it and we could sit upon those. It worked quite well, for a little while.

Here is Malachi and I in front of one of the doors, just at the bottom of the steps. I will need to do a post on my dress and corset here pretty soon. I finished my new corset enough so that it was wearable (still need to put on the binding) and after finding out that none of my old dresses would close at the bust line this dress was emergently produced on Friday and finished up very early Saturday morning so that I could be decently attired. I am pretty happy with how the corset and dress came out. I used 5 panels of 45" fabric in the skirt rather than the usual 4. I think the extra fabric helps my skirts look better. In this picture, my skirt almost appears too large, but I think it is because it is being pushed out by the wall I am leaning against. I had a black bow for it, but Malachi pulled it off. I had a black belt too but I decided to not wear it yesterday since I was afraid I'd look too "matchy".
And David, testing out his new cigar. Cigars are reenacting-ish things for David. He only gets them when he goes to a reenactment since he does not have a period correct pipe anymore. (he lost the very nice one he had when little David was born, in the hospital). The boys roamed the ditch, discovered a dead pigeon, and stomped upon a grate that led into a three-story hole. We went inside a bit later. A BEAUTIFUL display of many original dresses, shoes, bonnets and accessories, courtesy of K. Krewer, was set up. I was absolutely enthralled. A costumers dream! I had Malachi over one arm and was holding Judah's hand with the other. . .and he kept pretending he could not walk and lifted his feet off the ground. When I would let go of his hand and try to get him to stand up, he'd dart beneath a rope into a sectioned off area. Big David took little David to see a display of original guns. I at last settled onto a bench and put Malachi next to me and held Judah. Judah was happy but Malachi was not. He did not like the fact that Judah was sitting in my lap while he was merely propped up against my side.
We could not stay in the building very long due the boys desire to run off into the roped off areas.

Here is the one picture I took of the inside. The governors office. Who wouldn't love to go to work if it meant working in an office like this? Beautiful!
Back outside again the two littlest went to sleep. David was almost hysterical since he wanted to go back inside. At last he fell asleep while I held him and rocked him. He gets hysterical when he is very tired. During this time I got to meet a lovely lady from the Sewing Academy and later, when David had waken up again, I went back in with the Lady from the Sewing Academy to look more at the originals. That was the incredible highlight of my whole day. At this time, I got to see Mrs. K. Krewer and met some more ladies from the Sewing Academy. A bit later I even got to meet Carolann Schmitt from Genteel Arts Academy. I never dreamed I would meet her anytime soon and was so honored and so thrilled to meet her - and a bit nervous! She is such an expert in the clothing of the 1860's! And I was so terribly embarassed when Little David ran across the front of the room as she began her evening presentation!

After the presentation we came home as the boys were just too tired and hungry and cranky to enjoy staying anymore. They slept until 9:00 this morning and took two hour naps this afternoon. I think at last they are starting to get back to "normal"! Hopefully our next event will go a bit better. We could always leave the boys with a sitter but that makes reenacting not worthwhile for me, since David and I desire this to be a family event and a time when we can bond with each other. Anyone with little ones in the hobby have any experienced advice to share? :) I think we will set up the tent and beds in the yard over the next week or so and get the boys used to sleeping in it. That will hopefully help next time we are out!


(a very tired)


  1. Judah and Malachai look so sweet in that photo together...I just want to squish their little limbs. :)
    xoxo Caroline

  2. After running after (only one) very active one-and-a-half year-old all afternoon at our church's picnic ("borrowed" from his mother, who I think was glad of the respite!), I have such great respect for you, Sarah! I think you do very well with your little ones - and they look so sweet in the clothes you make them. I hope you get a chance to rest!

  3. Also, I love the photo of "Big David" and "Little David" standing next to each other by the fence :) And your new gown looks lovely!

  4. Your post was anything but boring, I loved it! And I love your babies, all your hard work you've done on your clothing, and that quilt if fabulous!

  5. Oh Sarah,

    I feel for you! Though we do not do re-enacting :( I can relate with tired, cranky, and wound-up boys.

    My DD and I spent the day together yesterday. We went to a market at a historic mansion and then to a parade. We decided to go to an 8:15 showing of Night of the Museum with the littles. By then, of course, it was their bedtime, and if we could have left the baby, we would have, but alas—not sitter.

    In each parking lot we got out at, the store and the theater, little 2-year-old Adrien vehemently contested having his hand held. So, he picked his feet up. Oh, how frustrating that gets combined with the wining and tears. Needless to say, we wondered why we were even going to the movies! In the store, Julian was being wild, and Adrien was picking up candy bars, sticking them in his mouth, and pretending to eat them.

    We sat for about 15 minutes in the movie, and Chanielle ended up missing the rest due to the baby being fussy. She ended up taking him out to the car so that he would fall asleep.

    I don’t think that there is any advice, only endurance, which we adults seem to run out of while the little people have endurance beyond imagination!

  6. Love all of the photos!! The only thing I can recommend (not that I did reenactments) is to try and enjoy now when they are so small and in a few years, they will be enthralled with it all. My boys are 8 and 6 right now, have always been information sponges, but at this age, the whole world is theirs. 'Let's look at rocks, and the Capitol, and graveyards, and science fairs, and planetariums, and orchards...' I'm trying to inhale and remember every second:).

  7. I loved your post because I could totally relate to it. I only have the two (twin two-year-olds) and can't imagine what it is like with three little ones!

    I have found that I really have adjust my expectations for reenactments I do with them. My focus has to be them and chasing them around. Anything else I get to do is a bonus. One thing I find that I miss is having a complete converstation with other adults. I feel so distracted and preoccupied by where they are and what they are getting into. It helps to remind myself that this is a completely authenic state of mind and that 19th century mothers faced the same challenges. So, chasing after little ones is one of the most authentic scenarios you can be doing at an event! Plus, they had a million other things to get done and worry about that we can thank the modern world that we don't have to do.

    At our last reenactment I just told myself to stop and enjoy the little things. I loved watching them discover catepillars, tickling them with tall grass, and participating in the ever-so-entertaining game of pouring water into a basin. It's great when you can just take that time to enjoy the kids and not feel like you have to clean the house, make dinner, and do a million other things at the same time.

    I hope you get some rest today!

  8. What a lovely event. I love the 1860's style on you. YOu are so beautiful :-) God Bless!

  9. Dear Sarah,
    I completely agree with Jessica Craig. Currently I do not reenact, but do chase our twin boys around. Just having turned 2, they would find the ditch, the dead pigeon, the three-story hole and the straw the lunchtime drink came in entirely enthralling. The museum too, but that only for a little while. So, just as Jessica and others have written, now is the time to see from their eyes more than your own, and revel in it, while you bless the fact that today there are no dishes, no cleanup, no laundry, that today you are all in all and only a family at a place they enjoy. That's what I try to do. Am I always successful? No, but but then I am human :}

    Hugs and endurance to you,

    Natalie in Kentucky

  10. I completely empathize! I do spend most of my time chasing the boys around our events, and like Jessica I have just come to expect it.

    We don't camp either (for the same reasons you mentioned and to be honest I can't imagine cooking over a fire and keeping both boys out of it at the same time.) What has worked best for us is to invest in some quality period toys and just let them run around playing! I've had to take a deep breath, step back and enjoy just BEING a family. That is the impression that most people want to see anyway.

    My boys favorite toys are pop-guns, ninepins and graces. They also get a kick out of wood blocks. Packing our own food helps too, so I can feed them whenever necessary. We just have busy boys and for me at least I have to find something period to keep them busy, so they can just play being little boys. I hope this helps and I hope you get some rest Mama!

  11. Thank you everyone for the great advice and for helping me get my priorities straight. It's hard for me to realize I cannot do all the things I used to do or want to do at events. Jessica, thank you for pointing out that this is also what mothers back then would have done! I feel like I'm letting the people in my reenacting group down by not actively participating in their impression, but hey, this is *my* impression and its awesome that my babies can be such a big part of it! :)

    I also appreciate the reminder to look at things through their eyes. Wow. I wish I had remembered that several times on Saturday. I would have had a much nicer time if I had, instead of trying to force the boys into a mold that I think they should fit.

    I feel much better now. You are all such dear ladies! I'm sure my boys appreciate this too!

  12. I know it is very tiring to watch the boys now but one day you will look back and wish for those days again! They look adorable and your dress looks nice too!

    Faith G.

  13. Sarah, your post is lovely! Not boring in the least!

    Your family is beautiful and precious! And I understand the tired feeling, for I have four grandchildren. All of them are 2 years and younger. All with minds and wills of their own.

    It looks like you had a nice, memorable time, even with the challenges. Thank you for sharing it.

    Many blesings as you rest up.

    In Christ's Love,


  14. Not at all boring, Sarah! I loved reading about our day of reenacting. Your dress is positively lovely, by the way!

  15. Considering all, you held up beautifully. Your family is lovely!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!