The Pioneer Museum of Flagstaff, AZ

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When we found out Margot’s first day of school was August 1st, we scrambled to scrape together a family vacation at the last minute. We like to keep our plans loose, avoiding reservations and expectations in order to flow with the weather, and our moods while traveling. It’s an art form, really.

Our plan was to take the pop-up camper out for almost a week; staying at Apache Lake near Phoenix, and camping and hiking in Sedona. Well, Apache Lake was sweltering. I went for a run at the Burnt Corral campground where we stayed at a shoreside site and the temperature held steady at 104 at 7pm. I got zero sleep that night, and felt like I was suffocating in 97 degree weather at midnight. The kids were fine, and Isaac seemed okay, but I definitely was going to have a bad time camping in weather like that; and if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I think that’s how the saying goes.

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So north we traveled, hoping that the weather would cool the further we went toward Flagstaff. Sedona was still above 100, so we traveled onward to Flagstaff.

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Camping at the county fairgrounds was wonderful. Quiet, cheap, centrally located. We had at least two activities a day that we achieved; visiting the Arboretum, a Mansion, trails in the mountains, kayaking at Lake Mary and — my favorite — checking out the Pioneer Museum!

095A4665095A4675The Pioneer Barn, separate from the main building, contains loads of artifacts of yesteryear – I especially enjoyed spotting a large floor loom. It was warped with a project on it. I wish I were able to identify all the features of various looms on the spot. I need to crack open a few more books and click around a few more websites before I can do that.095A4681095A4671095A4669095A4610

I’m still neck deep in Pioneer culture right now. As some of you may know, I tend to latch onto a topic and immerse myself in it for a year or so until my interests are swayed into another direction. We’re reading the Little House on the Prairie series and chipping away at lessons in the Playful Pioneers curriculum at the moment, so this museum was exactly the type of place we had to visit.

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A lumber train staged in the front of the museum was open for us to trot through. From there we followed the foot path to a historic cabin.  I love imagining how life would have been in the late 1800s. We went to the museum after a trail run, and I wasn’t feeling as hygienically civilized as I would like to be, so I think I had a pretty good idea of how it felt to live intimately with the seasons and the elements. That is certainly part of the joy to camping; reconnecting with nature and learning to appreciate the modern conveniences we all have. And resetting the internal clock to coincide with the natural circadian rhythm — totally necessary!

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I will tell you the best part of the Pioneer Museum, by far. Their Children’s Room, full of wooden toys, period costumes, school desks and books. 095A4619

We had to loop around to the Children’s room twice so the kids could continue to play with the Jacob’s ladders, hobby horses and oversized dollhouse. Engaging children in museum settings is difficult, so I commend the Historical Society of Arizona on curating such a magnetic place for kids to explore. 095A4591095A4586095A4582095A4575

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Among the many activities we did in Flagstaff, the Pioneer Museum was top of the list for me; although it was tough choice between trail running, s’mores making, and kayaking. I will definitely revisit this place, and I doubt I’ll have trouble dragging my family along again.

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The Playful Pioneers

This summer we’re embarking on new territory!

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I gifted Margot the box set to the Little House on the Prairie for her 5th birthday back in March. We read our way through the Little House in the Big Woods, and have gone through half of the Little House on the Prairie. Then I caught wind of a school age curriculum based around the Little House Series called the Playful Pioneers from the Peaceful Press; it expands on the books by using worksheets, crafts, recipes, and bible studies. The concepts from the Little House lifestyle are emphasized with supplemental book recommendations, practical art skills (weaving, natural dyeing etc.) and rounded out with theology lessons.

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The curriculum is for early elementary students, and since Margot only begins Kindergarten this fall, we have plenty of time to work through the concepts in the next couple of years. For now, I read the stories aloud and help reinforce the ideas throughout the week.

It’s a loose approach to keeping my kids busy during the day, and to prepare Margot for the upcoming school year. And what a great way to bring scripture into our daily lives!

And for those who love the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I highly recommend Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller. It’s a wonderful take on the Little House migration from Caroline’s perspective. Historical fiction at its finest! I uniquely felt the highs and lows of the Pioneer experience while camping at the lake earlier this summer (hello hot days and cold nights). I checked it out from the library, but it’s worth the purchase!

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I should also mention our family foray into fiber arts this year. As per my last post, needle felting has become a favorite way to pass the time. We’ve now caught the weave fever. Margot loves working on her mini lap loom, and I’ve gotten around to warping and weaving on my second hand rigid heddle loom.

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Eventually I’ll join the Bisbee Fiber Arts Guild so I can work on their giant floor looms, I’ll need to get some more practice in before hand. I’ve also been kept busy with crochet projects. I’ve made a couple of hexa-cardis (see Margot modeling hers above), a Cal Poly Pomona themed afghan for my sister Kelli (she starts school there this fall), and a reading blanket for Margot (below).

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Woody is waiting patiently to be the recipient of a fiber arts project by me; so I’ve begun a reading blanket for him using a gradient yarn in the Cupcake line from Lion Brand.

I’ll have to share my sewing projects as well! My Creative Bug subscription has kept me busy; I love the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns and tutorials. Most of that content has already been shared on my instagram page. Check that out for more details: Shirt No. 1 – @thatyeayealife

Happy Solstice, folks, I’ll be sharing more craft projects soon!

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch

Welp, I’m down the rabbit hole in fiber arts. It’s a good thing!

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea PhotographyThunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea PhotographyI have been needle felting for a short time now and I really really enjoy it! For those who are unfamiliar with the craft, here is how it goes: using roving wool, you felt shapes using a serrated needle which pulls the fibers together, tangling them so to speak. Doing this repetitively, shapes the wool and makes it dense. You can make three dimensional sculptures, or two dimensional art. Lots of ladies needle felt to make applique for sewing projects. I had no idea there were so many uses for wool outside of yarn and garment making. I’ve been working from the book Little Felted Animals by Marie-Noelle Horvath. Margot loves the little critters and often runs off with them.

At the Farmers Market I happened to come across a booth for the Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch. They sell the roving I need for felting, and they source it themselves. They often bring their alpacas out into the community for meets and greets. I learned they offer tours of their ranch, and jumped at the opportunity. I brought along my family and friends for the visit.

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea PhotographyThunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography We fed the animals and learned a lot about raising alpacas and chickens. I had lots of questions about wool processing, and made sure to stock up on roving. Of course I’m now committed to having my own alpaca ranch. I’m not sure how I’m going to juggle that with my Alaska plans, Olympia dreams and world-traveling ideas. But the allure of living off my own garden, and earning revenue from chickens and alpaca wool sounds so appealing and rewarding.  Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Adding to the appeal of ranching in high desert Arizona: my grandpa Don used to have his own Emu ranch about an hour away from where we live now. He lives here in Sierra Vista, and I’ve had the opportunity to ask him questions about his ranching over dinner. Entrepreneurs are so interesting to break bread with! Emus were trendy right after my Grandpa invested in them, and the revenue from egg and chick sales supported him for a long time. He also served in the Army at Ft. Huachuca. It’s like this place is calling to us to stay and raise livestock!

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch - Sierra Vista, AZ | Yea Yea Pueblo - Yea Yea Photography

We recently visited Tubac, AZ and chatted with the owner of a wool shop. She told us she raises Alpacas in  Minnesota and boards them during the winter when she snowbirds in Arixona. So of course I’m researching, and studying, and dreaming up the ways I can have my cake and eat it too. With alpacas.