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homestead happenings: passionate

November 28, 2011

We’ve been studying the solar system ’round here, and last Sunday when I was snuggled up with Col on my friend Melanie’s couch watching a NOVA special on the Universe, I felt so grown up, or at least like my baby was so grown up.

~making solar system models at homeschool co-op~

My heart still caves in on itself when I reminisce about chasing 2-year old Col around Open Gym every Friday while Rosie slurped milk from her pouch on my chest. Wasn’t everything so uncomplicated and straightforward then? I’d chat with other moms trailing similarly fast toddlers with similarly exposed, milk-packed breasts, our orbits intersecting for brief moments by the trampoline. We’d discuss nap schedules as if they were the most confounding thing motherhood would ever throw at us.

~circa 2007~

Luckily, the scrim of nostalgia is too thick to recall the morning after the all-night nursing rager, or the way boredom circled my head like a flock of hungry vultures as I read the very hungry caterpillar for the 314th time.

Which is to say, despite how I loooove babies, I love this growing up too.    How—while I’m wringing my mind over missed naps—the kids shed cocoon after cocoon, becoming these long-legged people gawking over the 4 moons of Jupiter, strung like pearls around the glowing pendant of our largest planet.

It’s so exciting, this sharing of interests with the kids; knowing the kids look forward to camping trips as much as we do; or that we all trust that books bring happiness. Yesterday Col was right by my side helping me dig jerusalem artichokes out of the cold November mud (Rosie was supervising in impractical shoes), all of us marveling at the dozens of knobby roots emerging from the soil like clowns from the proverbial clown car.

Somehow it seems more important than ever—now that the kids are old enough to take notice—that Dan and I follow our passions, that we show our kids what we love, even if just to model the worthiness of falling head over heels in love with something. Even if it’s turning kitchen scraps into compost or spying a herd of elk in a secret valley. Perhaps especially those pursuits in which doing them is its own reward, unconnected to money or notoriety.

When we’re all outside under the black bowl of night watching stars pulse through unfathomable miles, I don’t know if the kids feel like they’ve leapt inside the cliche: awed and humbled by the enormity of it all, as I have; but I think they like the togetherness, all of us craning our necks to the sky, exhaling over the first glimpse of Venus.
On the homestead:

:: Dan has resurrected Sunday morning winter drives with Daddy, which entails packing the kids up at 6am, stopping for a muffin and driving quiet highways and country roads looking for wildlife. Nobody minds hustling out of the house at dawn, perhaps because Dan always operates under the premise that there is something exciting out there.

~This Sunday’s tally~ 

:: We went to the woods this weekend to celebrate the conifers and cut boughs from the 10 native species for our nerdy version of a Christmas tree/garland/wreath thingy.

~white fir~

~ into the snow for subalpine fir~

~Ponderosa pine, photo shot by Col~

:: Dan and Col skinned two roadkill bull snakes to apply to the back of Dan’s newest bow (for waterproofing). Rose opted out of the project, though had the skins been slated for fashion, she may have felt differently.

:: Meanwhile, in the gender divisions that can happen ’round here, Rose and I retreated upstairs to make salves (arnica and pinyon).

::  Col and his buddy Mathew have been hunting snakes in the soapwort patch near our house. They’re pretty confident that a battery will lure one out of its hole. (For the record, they did see a garter snake in the soapwort, summer 2010).

They’re pretty good about conceding failure.

:: There is little more exciting than tossing kitchen scraps in a pile, and then forking out sweet-smelling, friable compost a year later.

:: Slipping compost into the greenhouse bed.

:: Studying the solar system along with the kids has been amazing, even if my head has exploded several times in the process. And as much as I love understanding seasons as the Earth’s little bellydance around the sun, tilting her hips this way and that, I can’t help but wonder what shape the world would be in if women were given the trillions of dollars allocated to space research. Two year paid maternity leave? Kick-ass public schools? World Peace?

~solar system class, guest taught by my parents!~

I love seeing how our kids orbit the large worlds of their parents, as I once wrote about here. Ultimately they’ll find their own galaxies to explore, but perhaps seeing your parents engaged and enthralled is best modeling we can do.

From Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne:

“In most things, the exceptional is not what we truly want for our children anyways. What we want for our children, truly, is engagement.”

What have you and your family been loving (together or separately) lately?

*ps: thanks for your words on chores and allowance. I always love hearing from you.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    November 30, 2011 1:39 pm

    It is as I hoped for you, is it not? You’re learning more than ever imagined. Wait ’til high school. ;) You’ll learn that enigmatic trigonometry (or whatever mysterious subject you chose not to learn in school) taught by Col or Rose. We still talk about homeschooling, how it impacted our family and our learning. Wish we could do it over again. I’d be so much better at learning!
    I am so glad for you and your orbiting snake-hunting (we did that too!)children.

  2. November 30, 2011 2:33 pm

    awesome, as always. and I’m totally envying the snow!

  3. Tammy permalink
    November 30, 2011 4:12 pm

    Beautiful entry – love hearing about their ages and stages and it feels like yesterday that mine were dissecting squid and earthworms on our kitchen tables with their friends, each getting out of it exactly what was right for them at that particular age…loved homeschooling my kiddoes.

  4. ike permalink
    November 30, 2011 4:19 pm

    Loved your writing and pictures too however, I need to correct your idea of the NASA budget-it is about 19 billion dollars for FY 2012. Not chopped liver but not trillions. I was taking a walk this morning with my friend Bill and he brought up the same issue -should we not use that money that is going to the latest Mars mission for helping the homeless here on Earth. I do not think it should be an either/or decision. We can do both if we were to change our priorities away from huge “defense” budgets. Additionally, engaging in space exploration helps to satisfy our natural curiosity about the larger world we experience. We are part of the solar system and our Milky Way Galaxy. Hubble telescope photos promote a sense of awe of how small we are in a vast universe. Enough

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 1, 2011 10:59 am

      To clarify, I meant trillions over decades.

  5. November 30, 2011 7:21 pm

    My daughter is really into astronomy right now too. :) Mostly things concerning the moon and the moons of other planets. I’ve been learning so much about it myself just by reading the books she picks out about it to her, the universe is a crazy place, consider my mind similarly blown.

  6. December 1, 2011 2:41 am

    I haven’t been here in a bit! Love catching up, Rachel. I adore reading about your experiences with your kids, like a little light shined on my life in a year or two. Reading, writing, snake hunting, solar systems. A very beautiful, charming and admirable life you live, friend.

    Also, I love your hippie tree. We did something similar for a few years and I so missed a tree. I talked about it way too much. Way too much. Eventually our friends who own 40 acres of dense forest that they want thinned asked us to come get a tree. I practically ran out the door without shoes. Anyway, hope you’ll post pics of your conifer celebration. I imagine you aren’t as ridiculously twitchy about a tree. xo

  7. December 1, 2011 4:22 pm

    “Somehow it seems more important than ever—now that the kids are old enough to take notice—that Dan and I follow our passions, that we show our kids what we love, even if just to model the worthiness of falling head over heels in love with something.”

    exactly. xoxo
    (yes i’m just using the comment space to quote you! haha.)

  8. December 1, 2011 8:18 pm

    totally with you on the space thing. someone once told me that all the space research paid off in benefits back home, and when I asked what, he suggested, “Teflon.” um. no.

  9. December 1, 2011 10:08 pm

    “The scrim of nostalgia…” I am in it deep here too. What great imagery!

    Lovely post, as always.


  10. December 2, 2011 7:08 am

    That is by far the most awesome tree/wreath idea I think I have ever heard. Like someone else said already, I’d love to see photos!

    I love your thoughts on the sharing of passions. You are forever helping me look forward to the next stages in my parenting, hopefully while keeping both feet firmly planted in the present.

  11. December 2, 2011 2:36 pm

    Oh goodlordinheavenabove. I want to wrap this post in a blankie and snuggle with it. I could not possibly love this more: “How—while I’m wringing my mind over missed naps—the kids shed cocoon after cocoon, becoming these long-legged people gawking over the 4 moons of Jupiter, strung like pearls around the glowing pendant of our largest planet.” I know I always say it, but chops! You’ve got some writin’ chops.

    In other news, Col is quite the photographer, and Rose’s sense of style is divine. That scarf on her head is priceless.

  12. December 4, 2011 7:01 pm

    Ha! I am totally in the chasing-a-two-year-old-with-an-infant-attached-to-my-breast camp, but it’s so fun to catch a glimpse of the road ahead! I wish my husband would read a blog, he would love yours…especially the details of what Dan does with the kids.

    Is your nerdy wreath thingy an exercise in tree identification or an effort to avoid cutting down a whole tree? We just got our tree the other day (well, I stayed home and nursed a hungry newborn). We don’t have a problem cutting down small conifers, particularly when they reside in an aspen stand…aspen re-gen, baby!

    And sharing your passions with your kids…a subject that hits my heart, hard. It’s difficult with young, young children for me to remember what my passions *are*. Sometimes I feel the pressure to move to a bigger town where my kids can socialize more and play hockey and go to children’s museums…but then I remember why we live here and remind myself to have patience. Pretty soon, we’ll get to do so much more.

    And space research? My vote is: give the money to the women.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 5, 2011 3:05 pm


      1) Tree garland thingy is to celebrate our local conifers and mix it up and save floor space in our 800 sf abode. (lots of small “weedy” white firs that I have no prob cutting down. Also, yes on the aspen re-gen!).

      2) Huge blessings on your new journey with a baby and a toddler. That is hard stuff and full of a very special sweetness, too. Until my kids were 2 and 4, I could barely remember what my passions were either. I remember a distinct (though small) exploration back into my old self at that point.

      3) Tell your husband that there are men that read my blog, about 7, as far as I know. :)

      4) Your children will get tastes of that big, city world here and there. Museums are cool and all, but not nearly as cool as the real, hands-on world right outside your back door.

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