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homestead happenings: teeming with wonder, generosity and joy

October 24, 2012

I’m driving the kids and their friend Mathew to Junction Creek to sail the boat Dan and Col made earlier. (From the nautical diagram Col thrust at me an hour before Dan was scheduled to leave for hunting, causing me to contract with high-school academic anxiety. Figured I’d study the instructions after kids were sleeping, but Dan took Col outside and they built it in 20 minutes. Whew).

Bathtub test-run.

Cleared for wild waters. The winding and then releasing of the rubber band activates the propeller. Physics!

Driving to the creek, Mathew tells Col and Rose how his family’s recent trip to Denver included a long stop at Children’s Hospital. When my kids ask why, Mathew sighs at their daftness. “Because of my brother – because of how he’s changing from a girl to a boy.”

Mathew and Rose

This is true. Mathew’s teenage sister is becoming his teenage brother. Mathew understands this transformation at face value, without judgment or fear.

“Is he getting a penis?” Rose asks.

“Rosie,” says Mathew with another sigh, “it’s not polite to talk about that.”

I marvel at these kids, how trusting they are. Their minds are these expansive places, like acres of fertile soil waiting for seeds to drift down and take root. Or maybe it’s more like making sauerkraut – how all the bacteria needed are already on the cabbage, you just provide the right environment for them to proliferate; I can almost picture my children (and yours too) teeming with wonder, generosity and joy like a knobby old carrot crawling with lactobacilli.

On the Homestead:

:: Espeerments continue.

It’s interesting living with a creative, engineer-type kid for whom process trumps product. Hello, squirrely piles of flotsamy forgotten project in every corner.

:: Playing with blocks when you’re seven is predictive of teenage drug and alcohol abstinence, right?

:: We just wrapped up a 4-week homeschool co-op unit on Earth Science. I taught the kids about weather, meaning, as usual, first I taught myself. Here in the Southwest, we have copious cirrus clouds (very high, wispy), which are least likely to bring precipitation, wouldn’t you know. In the summer, we get more cumulonimbus (thunderheads). It’s very rare to see stratus clouds (those thick “bedsheet-type” clouds). What kind of clouds do you see most in your region?

Col’s cloud poster.

The Homeschool Co-op Homies.

How is Rain Made Experiment:

Also, for our weather class, my dad did a really cool, easily replicable experiment with the kids to show the cycle of rain. Put a plate in the freezer for 2 hours. After 2 hours, heat up water in a tea kettle. Place cold plate above rising steam. Watch plate form water droplets and rain down. Wow. Water evaporates off oceans and rising, hits very cold clouds, condenses and rains down.

:: My homeschooling trust muscle is strengthening and I’m feeling less twitchy about everything. The less preconceived notions I have about what Col and Rose’s education should look like, the more the kids lead me to what is valuable, interesting and appropriate for them right now. For instance, today Rose drew a picture of herself, her Baba, and her Nana. “Now, how do you spell: whoever this is for?” Rose asks me, “because I’m going to roll this picture up, put it in a bag and leave it outside, for whoever it’s for.” Okay, writing, spelling, art. Check.

Col’s been drawing these elaborately detailed ships lately. Rose is always after him to include, along with giant octopuses caressing the ship, practical things like bathrooms and beds.

The fun part is getting Col to describe what he’s drawn, if you have an extra hour or so.

Occasionally, I can get him excited about labeling the parts of his drawings.

Bone eskalators: all the rage at archeological digs.

:: Today Col and Rose skyped with my parents for the first time. It was so cool. My parents were just like their in-person selves, so good-heartedly fond of the kids.

Listening to my parents read Ivy and Bean over Skype while I pretended I had a babysitter over. I used to think being a grown up meant having matching bedding. Somehow that ship hasn’t come in for us yet.

:: Nice trap for the bear who’s been visiting our compost, but, whoops, sort of prohibitive for the 8 humans who use this walkway daily.

Bears! Seriously, we have so many black bears in our town this year. One afternoon the kids played with friends all afternoon at a neighborhood park while a bear cub slept above them in a cottonwood tree.

:: Our guest room! Actually, this is Col’s old room, where he used to sleep before moving in with Rose. Apparently this is now the lego room, which could use a little feng shui.

The lego peace sign that the kids made for me, before, incidentally, spending a 1/2 hour arguing over whether it was time to reuse the pieces yet. Symbolism?

:: The freezer is a cheerful place this time of year.

:: Backyard salads improving with frost (but beware drowsy yellow jackets deep down in lettuce folds).

:: Coldframe, mostly planted.

Winter squash curing…AKA, too busy to shuttle them inside. Can you over “cure” them? How long do you cure yours?

Today, Rose shows me the two-seater on her lego car. “It’s a 2-person chair,” she explains, “for 2 husbands.”

Me: “Two husbands?”

Rose: “Yup. One sits here, and the other sits next to him.”

Me: “Okay.”

Col: “Can you even have two husbands?”

Me: “Well, right now in some states it’s legal for two men or two women to get married…blah blah blah political rhetoric and social commentary…and someday the president will say it’s okay for two men or two women in any state to get married.”

Rose: “Someday, I’d like to marry two men.”



25 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    October 25, 2012 7:03 am

    Rachel, Wow, you all have been busy lately! Loved this post! It was great to catch up with what’s been going on with you, and wow…when did Col get so big?

  2. October 25, 2012 9:57 am

    love the image of my children (and myself) as cabbage teeming with bacterial potential.

  3. October 25, 2012 10:48 am

    It’s awesome that your kids were so interested in the gender change of Matthew’s brother in a totally non-judgmental way. That is so cool and hopeful to me.
    I also love that you’re giving your kids freedom to do so much experiential learning, and it seems like they are truly LOVING learning in the process – what could be better?
    Keep up the good work!

  4. janie permalink
    October 25, 2012 11:26 am

    I needed that today. Rachel, you are such an inspiration. Don’t worry, your kids are way ahead of the game. Seriously. Rosie, you rock! But I think I need a husband and a wife. ;)

  5. October 25, 2012 11:36 am

    not to be a know-it-all, but i coulda totally called rosie being into polyamory – just sayin.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 25, 2012 8:37 pm

      It’s so lovely to be known.

  6. October 25, 2012 11:48 am


  7. October 25, 2012 12:55 pm

    As a gay woman I could totally use a couple of husbands around here!

    Found your blog when googling some info on butchering. Found you at a good time I guess!

  8. October 25, 2012 1:06 pm

    This post – especially the conversation between Col, Rose, and Matthew – makes me feel hopeful, like the little shoots of lettuce that are returning to the garden after the blazing heat of the summer chased them off.

    Rosie for president! (I’d love it if she broke the gender glass ceiling, and then brought not one, but two First Husbands with her.)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 25, 2012 8:40 pm

      *laughing at that image*

  9. Kathy permalink
    October 25, 2012 2:02 pm

    Yep, this is home education… questions and answers, expeerments and Titanics (oh, bathrooms and beds too). And they teach us, just as you have always known. And they still teach, even when they have kids of their own, and ask questions too, like “Mom, I need your chili recipe.” So glad you are sharing life with your children!!! It won’t be long until Col is bringing home his own buck with his own bow. Or maybe Rose instead!

  10. Melissa permalink
    October 25, 2012 4:04 pm

    Oh Rose. You are so awesome!

    Avi was asking me the other day about how babies are made. I explained just a little about sperm and egg meeting up and eventually settling down in that cozy little uterus and waited for more questions. Silence. Utter silence.

    PS. I had a friend/colleague over today and I was telling you about your parenting article and she said she had heard of it via twitter (!!) and that it was “getting a lot of attention” (!!) out there in the internet world. She is far savvier than me so she would know. xo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 25, 2012 8:43 pm

      Twitter? Wow, that is cool to hear, Melissa. I had the same egg and sperm conversation with Rose at 4 yrs old which ended, THANK THE UNIVERSE, in similar satisfied silence.

  11. Melissa permalink
    October 25, 2012 4:05 pm

    oops, I was telling her about your parenting article. Typos!

  12. October 25, 2012 4:09 pm

    I saw the movie “Normal” recently and it depicts a girl adjusting to her dad’s transition in much the way you describe. The girl herself is mostly dressing like a boy :) I am hugely impressed with the kids’ schoolwork, seriously. I hope you counted the bear trap for Engineering 101 credit. Perhaps for a writing assignment Col could describe what would happen once the bear is trapped. I’d read that story.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 25, 2012 8:46 pm

      Thanks for saying so, Molly. It’s easy to ride on the doubt-train when you’re responsible for your kids’ education. Yesterday I took the kids out to breakfast and then to Trimble Hot Springs, and kept looking over my shoulder to see if the homeschool police were onto us. xo

  13. Susanna Rossen permalink
    October 25, 2012 8:17 pm

    I think I love your children….and your entertaining prose!

  14. October 25, 2012 8:40 pm

    Your pictures always show your kids perpetually learning and doing something in or around nature that I feel inspired to do the same with my own. You are so very awesome.

  15. October 25, 2012 9:49 pm

    Can Col and Dan come over and build me a bone escalator in about 20 minutes? If rubber bands are needed, I have those in bulk.

  16. Chi-An permalink
    October 25, 2012 11:23 pm

    Miranda went through a period of about 3 months when she had imaginary husbands. Two of them, named Matt (a girl) and Marshmallow (a boy). She gave us daily updates on their activities, and then they sort of went away.

    Recently Miranda told us that a boy in her class has announced he’s going to marry her. A week or two later I asked how that was going and Miranda gave me a slightly exasperated look. “Mommy, T wants to marry me… I don’t want to marry him.”

    I love how children can be so non-judgmental and matter-of-fact in their acceptance of diversity. Makes me wonder how and when we lose that love.

    And lastly, honestly I’m not sure I’d want to deal with another husband… but The Husband and I have often agreed that we could definitely use a wife…

    Much love to you & your tribe.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      October 29, 2012 10:24 am


      Yes, when do we lose that acceptance of diversity? I love it when one husband can be a girl and the other named after dubious foodstuff. I don’t really want another husband either, but a couple of imaginary husbands might be the ticket.

      xo, Rachel

  17. October 26, 2012 9:42 am

    My favorite post yet Rachel. I can’t wait to see how Dan’s craftsmanship and Col’s enginuity (like my new word?) synergize. When Col develops a free energy system let’s keep it on the down low ok?

  18. October 26, 2012 4:13 pm

    hahahahahahaha. yes.

  19. October 29, 2012 8:31 am

    I brought home matching bedding once. My husband declared that he married me because I am not the sort of person to have anything matching. After using it all together exactly once, I realized that indeed, he’s right. Matching everything gives me a headache.

  20. November 4, 2012 12:01 am

    Sometimes I love (in a somewhat exasperated way) how easily kids accept or understand or don’t even think about things that we mull over for so long trying to find just the right words to use to explain whatever it is to our kids.

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