Half Pint & Ma: How Laura Ingalls Wilder Influenced My Life

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

As a young girl, whenever I had to do chores in the garden my mom would be “Ma” and I would be “Half Pint” or “Laura.” It was my favorite game and I enthusiastically asked my mom to put me to work in the garden. I didn’t think it was work. I was just playing. Pretending to be my favorite book character.

Ma and Half Pint picking milkweed

But I was also learning how to take care of the garden. How to plant, how to weed, how to water, how to fertilize…it was all covered while Ma and Half Pint played in the garden.

I can’t count the number of times I read and re-read the Little House books growing up. The stories captivated me in a way that few books truly have. I’m an avid reader, sure, but to be so wrapped up in a series that I reread it over and over, memorizing every detail, is rare.


When I wasn’t able to play outside and be Laura myself, I was playing with the Little House paper dolls, reenacting scenes from the books.

Of course I still have them and yes, I played with them a little as I was setting up the image that was the top image for this post…

On today, February 7th, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday, I find myself reflecting on her influence on my life. She shaped my childhood, yes, but in many ways I feel that she shaped my adulthood much more.


The life I crave and the life I am creating is a simple life. Where at the end of the day I know I have put in a hard days work. I crave self-sufficiency where I grow what I eat and preserve foods. The beginning of Little House in the Big Woods where Laura talks about how they prepared everything for winter, enjoying some of it fresh but salting down the meat or preserving the vegetables so they can eat well all winter is homesteading at it’s core. They used every bit of that pig they butchered. They used every part of the deer that Pa shot. Nothing was wasted and it enabled them to eat well and hunker down for the winter.

A woman at a flea market gave me this bonnet after we had a conversation about Laura. I enjoy connecting with people over something I love.

At the time I just thought it was a great story. But what it really did was ingrain in me the sense that I am supposed to be living seasonally. That I should be learning skills to be as self-sufficient as possible. That I LOVE to garden. That I NEED to work.

Laura’s writing about the childhood she lived inspired me before I even understood what it was inspiring me to do. As I pare my life down to make it more simple and intentional, I see the true mark those books left on my life.

I have all the Little House books plus every supplemental book that I can find. In honor of me chasing my homestead dream, I am going to re-read them all!

Thank you Laura. Thank you for leading me to my true bliss, even though it took me many years of trying to fit into the mold of Corporate America for me to answer the call that was deep inside me.

The call to be Half Pint once again.



6 thoughts on “Half Pint & Ma: How Laura Ingalls Wilder Influenced My Life

  1. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. I, too, loved Laura and still do. After finding some old photos of myself in my Laura dress up outfit that my mom had made for me I decided to reread the books (currently I’m in the middle of By the Shores of Silver Lake) and I finally got the annotated Pioneer Girl. What a a shame the American Library Assoc. stripped her of her award. It doesn’t stop me though. Those lessons I learned from the books as a child continue to ring true. I’m curious what your thoughts are reading them as an adult. I once thought about writing a children’s book, but dismissed it. However, Laura seems to be inspiring all over again years later. Great post!


    1. As an adult they are honestly reinforcing my decisions to slow down and really be in the moment with each task. Her descriptions about how everything was done are so vivid – she truly relished every moment. I just love that. I have actually worked on a children’s book but based on my dog as a main character!


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