Skip to content

homestead happenings: earnest goodwill

December 6, 2012


We’re on a family hike and Rose is walking ahead of me, turning around regularly, like the loyal family canine charged with keeping the pack together.

Rose: “Mama, can you sneak a little pinch on my butt while we walk?”

Me: “Just do it, or surprise you?”

Rose: “Surprise me. Right now.”


Meanwhile, Col seeks the projectile essence of every rock, stick, and pine cone, but grabs my hand often enough for me not be too scared of anyone turning 8 next month.


It’s a little Shakespearian around here lately. There’s the comedy of Rose asking this morning, “is Mississippi a country or actually a planet?” And then the utter tragedy of Col waking up at 5:00 am, parting the curtains to determine if it was light enough to justify legos and singing, and thusly popping out of bed to do both. Next, the tragedy (real tears!) of Col choosing to watch Inspector Gadget, when Rose wanted Curious George, even though she gave Col first pick. Later, the comedy of Col slapping hand to forehead, “oh, that was the moonlight.”

This is why children are our best teachers. They lead us to the cliff of sparkly rainbows where we sigh gratefully for this life, these babies, the whole cherry pie of motherhood. And then 10 minutes later we’re all falling down that same cliff, the one perched above the nest of poisonous snakes, snakes who won’t go to bed at night, who won’t wear a hat when it’s 2oF outside, and who invent dubious sibling poker matches: I’ll see your blood-drawing scratch and raise you a small kick in the shin.

But truly, all I ever remember by the blessed end of the day—by the time I’m ghosting through the kids’ darkened room, pulling blankets over slumbering bodies, those bodies that, sleeping, appear to be cobbled out of such earnest goodwill that I imagine them exhaling world peace in their sleep—all I remember, is the joy of parenting that, like cream, always rises to the top.


On the homestead:

:: Like probably everyone in Southwest Colorado, we’ve been surfing the limbo of eagerly anticipating the snowy hammer of winter dropping, and also rolling around in the dry grassy sun like a pack of happy dogs.

Which is to say, we’ve been hiking without jackets. And that ain’t right. But it feels so good.


The kids wanted to run all the way back to the car. We explained that if they wanted to run, we’d have to take the long route, rather than the steep, rocky short cut. “Long way,” they said and exploded down the trail.


:: Despite being the homiest of homebodies (Col recently told me his winter goal was simply to stay inside. Oy), the types who tend not to leave the comfort of our own zip code, we got a little crazy and took a day-trip to Pagosa Springs (2 zip codes away!) for Dan’s birthday. We spotted a hot air balloon landing and zrrrrrtttt turned the car around, parked, ran down a private driveway (note: Dan did not approve of this, while I’m of the mind that no one can get too ticked off about children running joyously towards an 18th century mode of flight), and arrived in time to see the entire landing.



Also, we make U-turns for wild turkeys, naturally.


The hot springs are cheapest on Tuesday, but they offer a local’s discount every day. Super sulfury and be sure to take off your silver jewelry.


There’s about 10-15 different pools, plus the agony/ecstasy of the frigid San Juan River to cool off in.

We visited the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, just a few miles past Pagosa, which is like a zoo, in the sense that the animals are captive (most born in captivity, many rescued from bad situations), but not like a zoo in that the animals have largish enclosures in their native habitat. If you go, go for the 2pm feeding time, in which a very knowledgeable person tells you interesting stories and answers all your questions while wolves devour 5 pounds of raw meat in 2 minutes without actually chewing. The kids and I loved it. Dan was much more excited about the hundreds of deer we saw on the road between Chimney Rock and Arboles.


Predator meets prey.


Big tough bull elk eating…fruit salad.


Knobby deformed antler that weighed more than my kids, who admittedly run pretty small. 


Wild-ish turkeys and feral rabbits hobnob at entrance to Wildlife Park.

:: We will survive the apocalypse with kraut and sour cabbagey breath.


:: And pumpkin granola.


Before baking:joy12

Pre bake: use your normal granola recipe and add about 1-2 cups pumpkin puree to each gallon. Mix thoroughly and bake 20 – 30 extra minutes, or until completely dry. Wait – do you all need a granola recipe? Will consider posting one if I get 3 or more hallelujahs.



:: Rose feels best when she’s really, really close to the people she loves; which is exactly how we like it.



:: Our new homeschool unit is Bookmaking, which makes my heart soar with literary happiness. Annie of Alphabet Glue has been our fairy godmother in this department.


Col’s sasquatch book.

Rose made a book for Dan, and where I’ve been known to be a little anxious about Col and his academics, with Rose I’m like: you just shine your earnest goodwill across the land and everything will take care of itself. Not sure if this is neglect or the best gift I can give her.


The illustration of Sunday morning drives with Dada.joy27


All of a sudden there’s 4 people in the car. Nope! Fooled me too. Rose has climbed in the front seat with Dan for a better view of the animals, while the car is stopped of course.joy29

Apparently Col drew the car on this page.

:: We’re reading Huckleberry Finn right now, which is an interesting bedtime book, what with the chapter titled, “The House of Death Floats By,” plus Huck’s perennially drunk dad, the school beatings from teachers, and of course the whole slave issue. The kids appear to be loving it, though Rose does ask regularly and nervously: is this fiction or non-fiction?

I am gorging on Mary Karr right now. Re-reading Lit and just got Cherry from the library. She is the master memoirist and just as Mark Twain makes being shoeless, floating down the Mississippi River sound exciting, Mary Karr does the same for growing up with knife-wielding mothers.


We bought the kids a clock and instructed that it was only safe to eject themselves from the covers if the first number on the clock was a 6. They’ve been rocketing into our room at 6:01 am. And at 6:02 this morning Rose was counting to 60, with headachy exuberance, twenty times, due to my promise to make her breakfast in 20 minutes, which sort of defeated the whole point of 20 more minutes of morning amnesty. Tragedy or comedy?

With love and gratitude,


36 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2012 7:22 am

    oh, gosh – my first inclination is to say *anything* at 6:02am is a TRAGEDY, but those nugget heads of yers split my face into a grin Every Time. loved the highlights of dan’s bday trip, and those pics of yer hike are looking gorgeous. c and i took remi to the base of hog’s back yesterday to romp around and his favorite parts were “finding a bone,” “being at this Cool Place!” and “holding yer hand for a hundred minutes, mama,” which eases my soul, too. consider this an official “Hallelujah” for the granola recipe – so grateful that you are you. xo

  2. December 6, 2012 8:04 am

    I was thinking of you and your “no threats/bribes/punishments” method of parenting when I created and instituted the “Christmas is Cancelled” check-off chart (kind of like a chore chart, only the more x’s you get, the closer you get to an empty stocking). Because it was devised in a mad fit of rage, it was not well planned-out and there are only six X boxes per child. One kid only has one box left. Tragedy. Next time, I’ll think to myself “What would Rachel do?”

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 6, 2012 10:56 am

      Andrea, I know about those mad fits of rage. That’s when I give myself a timeout so I don’t do/say something I’ll later regret (which happens too). I have a book for you. Giveaway coming soon.

  3. December 6, 2012 8:13 am

    Granola recipe please. I’m in need of inspiration.

    We are big fans of what we call ‘piles’ – sitting as close as possible (or on top of) your favorite people. I’ve realized the wee one does it because us big ones do it too. It’s incredibly space efficient.

  4. Sara permalink
    December 6, 2012 9:20 am

    I’ll second the granola request. Recipes have been popping up around me lately, but after the peach barbecue sauce (which would be awesome even if you did have the peel the peaches and is infinitely more so because you don’t) I’ll take you recipe for pretty much anything.

  5. Sabrina permalink
    December 6, 2012 9:20 am

    Have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing”? If I remember correctly, he recommends Mary Carr for her memoir writing style. Although his book focuses on how to start writing, it is actually part memoir and at several points made me laugh out loud. Who knew someone so famous for being scary could be so funny?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 6, 2012 11:02 am

      I was given that book, read it, loved it, gave it away and always remembered how King wrote: “the smooch of death.” Love that and it’s back on my reading list!

  6. December 6, 2012 9:22 am

    I too would love that recipe. Thank you for everything you share.

  7. December 6, 2012 10:02 am

    I just adore your life!

  8. Ben Hewitt permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:12 am

    Hey Rachel,

    The boys n’ me have been reading Huck, too. Keep having to take extended breaks to laugh and laugh and laugh. That book gives me the fantods, if you know what I’m sayin’. It’s pison good.

    Your story about Rose wanting you to pinch her reminds me of something that happens with my fellas all the time: They’ll ask me to do something to them (usually they want to be tackled and wrestled to the ground), and I’ll say “when you least expect it,” and then they’ll spend the next hour saying “we least expect it, we least expect it!”

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 6, 2012 11:40 am

      Well exactly. We spent the next 20 minutes of the hike with Rose asking, “are you ready to surprise me now? How ’bout now?”

      And Twain’s writing? It’s powerful good.

  9. Jennifer permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:14 am


  10. Jonni permalink
    December 6, 2012 10:27 am

    Hallelujah for the granola recipe…

  11. December 6, 2012 10:34 am

    The first part tug on my mama-heartstrings. Such beautiful writing, Rachel. These glimpses of your corner of Colorado make me want to take a road trip your way. Pagosa Springs looks like my kind of place.

  12. janie permalink
    December 6, 2012 12:01 pm

    love love love!

  13. Audrey permalink
    December 6, 2012 12:11 pm

    So impressed with Rosie’s handwriting and spelling! I’d say keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 6, 2012 12:27 pm

      She asked for help with the spelling. But she does have to remind me to homeschool her. She’ll drag out the big books of worksheets that gave Col hives and ask, “can we do a few pages of these, please?”

  14. ike permalink
    December 6, 2012 12:58 pm

    You all seem to be leading the life of Huck -out in the fields not wanting to be “civilized”.
    How great.

  15. December 6, 2012 2:01 pm

    I totally didn’t know that you could catch a sasquash with a helicopter. I’m going to try this later with the kids.

    Love this post, love all of your posts. I do a dance of joy (literally!) whenever I see a new one in my Reader.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012 10:23 am

      Not sure if works with those Ohio Sasquash. Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me.

  16. Erin Jeansonne permalink
    December 6, 2012 2:42 pm

    Next time you guys motivate to come to Pagosa, please call us! We would love to spend some time with your lovely family! The hot air balloons are EVERY DAY! It’s really neat to see every morning, with the mountains as a backdrop, as I drive to the office.
    Take care!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012 10:24 am

      Erin, thanks for the invite. Hugs to you and the boys.

  17. gretchen permalink
    December 6, 2012 3:25 pm

    Yes for granola and, please, more on parenting without threats/bribes/punishments. More on parenting in general. What about a toddler who loves to pick up chickens, and whap them with sticks? How do you teach *gentle* to a boy of 16 months?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012 10:34 am


      Thanks for the request on more parenting stuff. Duly noted. As for the chickens, I would explain to your son that those whaps hurt his chickens. And then make a show of comforting the “hurt” chicken without punishing your son (but telling him to please stop hurting the chickens). You can also ask your son if he wants to help comfort the chicken and note how the chicken likes to be cared for. When Col was 2 years old and I was fretting over his propensity to throw things, Dan explained: he’s a boy, throwing projectiles is in our DNA. That helped me tremendously. Can you give your son opportunities to whap and throw things that won’t hurt anyone? We spent lots of Col’s early years throwing rocks and sticks into the river. He was also shooting a bow by 2 years old, kicking a ball a lot. These things helped him satisfy that impulse.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012 2:02 pm

      Also, check out the website: Aha! Parenting (there is a link on my sidebar under “Blogroll.” It is a goldmine.

  18. December 6, 2012 5:43 pm

    It is so weirdly warm in Wyoming, too! I am reading Peace Like a River, which is keeping me up at nights when I should be sleeping (in preparation for the 3am baby wake-up). It is very good, glad I saw it on here, so thanks for asking for suggestions, I have new ideas! I ALSO recently made granola, and have a secret: if you put some of the oats in a food processor or chopper and make them into a “oat flour” then add that in, it makes granola chunks after baked. CHUNKS!

  19. Barb permalink
    December 6, 2012 7:25 pm

    Thank you for the snowflakes on the blog. Quite soothing. I LOVE Rose’s book. I clearly remember Sarah’s first story and “book” in kindergarten (they also did some bookmaking at her lovely elementary school). The teacher said: she’s in great shape, she really has a clue about “writing.” I said huh? Teacher said: she has a beginning, a middle, and an end to her story. Who knew!

  20. Melissa permalink
    December 6, 2012 8:09 pm

    Oh man, I really loved this post!! Ps. I remember devouring Cherry! Xoxo

  21. rose permalink
    December 6, 2012 8:36 pm

    i made a u-turn for wild turkeys just the other day. glad to know i’m not the only one. ;)

  22. Emmanuelle permalink
    December 7, 2012 1:46 pm

    I am pretty sure Col and Rose exhale world peace when they sleep… This reminds me of a poem by Rolf Jacobsen : All people are like children when they sleep. / There is no war in them then. (…) If only we could speak to one another then / when our hearts are like half-open flowers. Words like golden bees / would drift in.

    Speaking of which, Col and Rose make wonderful books – and their um, findings might be a bit difficult to handle at dawn, but it certainly sounds entertaining in your words : “Col waking up at 5:00 am, parting the curtains to determine if it was light enough to justify legos and singing, and thusly popping out of bed to do both”. Like shadymama I just have to grin Every Time :o)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 7, 2012 2:00 pm

      What a gorgeous poem. Thank you for sharing.

  23. December 7, 2012 4:52 pm

    Oh, early morning intensity makes me guzzle coffee at such a high rate. Sometimes I leave out bits of happiness on the table, like stickers and new paper so the girls can get busy while I roll around and think a little more about getting out of bed.
    Children making books makes my heart swoon, too. Nice work!

  24. December 8, 2012 12:36 am

    I do so enjoy how you capture your children’s conversations. Makes me smile. The books are terrific, wouldn’t have the slightest worry about either of their ‘academics’.

  25. December 10, 2012 11:19 am

    I found myself nodding my way through your description of motherhood and that beautiful but precarious cliff. Oh, how I hear ya. And hot springs and book-making and your joyful at 6am kids are just what I needed for a pick-me-up this slow and lethargic Monday morning.

    I really hope I get to meet you guys someday. It would be like my favorite characters in a book coming to life!

  26. 1vivigirl permalink
    December 13, 2012 3:32 pm

    smiling, expecially about the surprise butt pinch request. so precious.

  27. December 14, 2012 7:58 pm

    so funny, i had just written how quinn wanted me to still surprise him with the christmas tree lights, after he had already snuck downstairs while i was trying to make that surprise happen. then i came and read about rose wanting her butt pinched. i love them. quinn and rose also share the wanting to lay on people trait.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s