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Homestead Happenings: lucky

2011 February 2
by Rachel Turiel

My hospitalized friend is doing slowly better, transferred out of ICU today with an impressive assortment of tubes snaking off her IV pole.

I should mention that she’s a particularly strong chica. At the beginning of her second trimester she climbed a 14,000 foot mountain (because she wanted to fit that in before the baby came). Towards the end of her 3rd trimester she was still riding her bike, hauling her 4-year old daughter in the bike trailer with bags of groceries swinging from the trailer’s frame. So she’s tough and a little nutty (in just the right way).

The mobilization of the community has been like a beautifully conducted orchestra. Everyone is jumping in with their particular instrument, adding to the spontaneous love jam.

Various mamas have been coming by to nurse the baby (who is staying with auntie and uncle) so wee one doesn’t lose her breastfeeding skills (Wet nurse: it’s not just for 18th century royalty!).

Other Mamas—some who’ve never even met my friend—are pumping for her baby. Mamas without breast pumps are hand-expressing milk. Bags and bottles of the precious stuff are being ferried around town to this 7-day old baby, who is so unbelievably gorgeous, so blameless and new and molded from everything that’s good in this world. It’s virtually impossible to imagine that a crabby toddler utterance will ever escape her lips. (My mom used to look into Col’s depthless newborn eyes and say: “you’re so wise, but soon you’ll forget everything and become very silly.”)

The non-lactating are offering meals, housecleaning and childcare for the two older siblings; everyone wants to help. It’s a barn raising, a love-spangled symphony. Or simply a reminder of how it takes a village to heal a family, and how love-in-action is a powerful force, and also how ovulating women should be very careful around newborn babies. Dan and I will be sleeping in different rooms for the next week.

So. We talked about relaxing around parenthood last week, right? Just in time for me to have a little freak out.

Col celebrating his birthday (Montessori style) at school.

Picking up Col at school last week, one of his classmates came running up to me with the news that Col is the smallest person in the kindergarten class. “Did you know that?” Col’s friend asked. He then instructed Col to stand next to him, demonstrating how my boy’s head landed somewhere in the vicinity of his buddy’s chest. “See!” his classmate said, “he’s really small.”

“Does it matter?” I asked, baring my teeth in the kind of smile the fox gives the hen before pouncing, because I’m five years old too.

My friend Melanie, who is way more relaxed than me, suggested that next time I could say something like, “and who’s the tallest in your class? And who has the longest hair? The darkest eyes? The loudest laugh?”

Col’s never earned a black dot on the growth charts. He’s only a smidge talller than his 3 1/2 year old sister (who is not tall), and I frequently get asked if they’re twins. And mostly I don’t see it anymore. Mostly I see a vibrant child who is full of joy and curiosity. But sometimes I see my son as a full grown man who’s only 5 feet fall and panic rushes into my chest like a tsunami. When I confessed this to a friend, she said “do you think it would really matter, if Col only grew to 5 feet?” I do. I wish it didn’t but I think it does.

“He was a preemie,” I say by way of explanation, when people comment on Col’s size. And I’m not even sure anymore if that explains anything. I just know it can be painful to be different, and Mamas aren’t very good at relaxing when their children are in pain.

But, it is handy that I can still tote Col around on my back at six years old.

::On the homestead::

Col and Rose were given a huge assortment of legos from our 19-year old neighbor who was Col’s age when we moved into this house, which makes me feel about 89 years old. Col constructed rockets and submarines for 5 hours straight one day.

Rose can’t resist sneaking bites of dry oats when we make granola together. I think it’s the sneaking that’s appealing.

We’re still rocking the local salads;  this cabbage was harvested in October.

Everyday there is art-making.

We had the downstairs neighbors up for dinner last weekend. They were so cute (is it okay to call 25-year olds cute?) and happy about being served the latest roadkill and sauerkraut. We marinated the elk backstraps so long that they got insanely tender. Dan said “they’re like pats of butter masquerading as meat.” Col spent the whole time hunched over legos, while Rose tried on every leotard she owned and draped herself across various laps. Apparently the downstairs crew was charmed, or broke, because there were several offers to babysit. So I left the kids with Caroline today so I could visit my friend in the hospital.

My friend seemed a little like she was coming down off a bad trip as she recounted the previous week for me. She said, “the good thing about almost dying is when you start to feel better you remember how good it feels to eat food, or walk on the Colorado Trail, or hear music, and you feel so grateful.” She’s very practical, that one. And lucky too. And of course so is Col.

So enjoy your eating this week, your walks and your music, so lucky we are.



37 Responses leave one →
  1. February 2, 2011

    Yeah-hoo! I am so glad to hear she is okay…. I’ve been thinking of her…. and her babe….. ’cause you know that whole mama to mama thing just makes you get all teary eyed. Even if it isn’t someone you know…. you still know….
    Lovin’ all the homestead news & photos too… and I recently referred to a 22 year old woman as a “sweet girl” which both made me feel old and ridiculous so I quickly corrected it to woman… but the phrase “sweet woman” sounded all wrong. Oh well :)

  2. February 2, 2011

    Oh Rachael- Your friend is so blessed to have so many mammas helping her out! This sickest I have ever been is when I developed an infection a few days after Claire’s birth. I remember very little because my fever hit 106-. What I also remember was how hard and stressful that time was for Scott and I. We were so isolated and alone and we had nobody close by to help in significant ways. I know if we were living in Durango at that time I would have had the love and support you all are giving your friend. It is wonderful!!! I think it is a truly amazing aspect of this community- the proactive help people give those in crisis.

    As for Cole being short—we all have our painful doubts and fears about our kids. Occasionally they just get all up in our thoughts clouding the truth we know about them- that they are exactly who they are meant to be. My Kathryn, is the tallest kid in her class. She is quite possibly the heaviest too. She was 10lbs 11 oz when she was born and I react in the same way when I hear people tell me how tall she is. They act surprised she is only 8. I know its innocent on their part, but for me it is hard and brings up so many concerns about her being “too big” – outside of what our society views as beautiful.

    Yet, what I really know is that she is perfect and that she will be okay and that her being different teaches me things I need to know.

  3. February 2, 2011

    What a great post! So full of life-affirming warmth! I am brought to tears by the coming together of your community. Whenever I hear of groups of people pulling together for common good, it gets me every time! I remember a time in our little community, just AFTER I stopped lactating that a man needed milk for his newborn, whose mother had died just days after giving birth. It killed me that I couldn’t help feed that baby! And the snippets of your life are really sweet! I love that you stay true to local food in the midst of winter! Col’s size does matter. I get what you mean about that. But in my opinion, it’s nothing to lose tooth enamel over… He is who he is – and is a huge miracle, no matter how tall he is!

  4. February 2, 2011

    Great post! I am so glad to hear that your friend is improving. All of the “wet nurse” Mama’s truly touch my heart- what an awesome community you live in! Your Col is perfectly “different” :) He seems like such a bright six-year-old (and I’m sure you have A LOT to do with that)! I’m sure he will thrive in life no matter how tall he grows to be. If you don’t mind my asking, what is your “recipe” for granola? We usually use one that Amanda Soule posted on her blog awhile back, but sometimes get creative and add our own touches. I love seeing the different ways people adapt it for their own family.

    I don’t comment often, but sure love reading your blog from Texas :)


    • 6512 and growing permalink
      February 2, 2011

      Brittany, Thanks for your comment. I don’t use a recipe for my granola. But I use: oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, honey, molasses, butter and raisins, and somehow it always turns out delicious (I think it’s the butter that makes it extra good). I think even if I created a recipe it would be hard to follow because I always have different amounts of ingredients around.

      Growing children at 6512 feet:

      • Brittany permalink
        February 3, 2011

        Yum, that sounds great! Sometimes it’s hard to find brown rice syrup in our local grocery store, so we use molasses often as well. The coconut sounds extra special to me! Thanks for replying with your ingredients :)

  5. Sheryl permalink
    February 2, 2011

    Thanks Rachel, you are so good at wrapping it all up into a beautiful package- full of life. Tears run down my cheeks as I read this feeling how lucky we are to live here, in this amazing community and how lucky the community is to have you…..and a healthy Tara.

  6. February 2, 2011

    I can really relate to this. River has always been little too (exactly that much smaller than friends his age and also tracking along off the growth chart), and I’ve mumbled that same thing about him being premature to teachers or incredulous parents. I’ve heard those same types of comments from little kids (delightful little creatures; on one occasion one even cheerily asked me if I “wasn’t a little too old for a Mommy?”; um, yeah, I was 34 when I had him and let’s just blame it on the light that day). Seriously, little kids pick up on perceived differences that are much more apparent and these days I figure the most important thing is to do just what you said, to remind him of all the differences we all have and all of the ones that are his gifts, as well. (Others may be bigger, but he’s quick; others may love to read while he’s great at math). We take him to a couple of great local community groups for gymnastics and karate so he”ll feel great in his body and encourage him when it makes him feel strong and like he can “run really fast!”. I figure, as wonderful as these kids will grow up to be, that this is a chance for them to know that everyone has something they might not like about themselves, but there are many many more things to love and appreciate.

  7. February 2, 2011

    P.S. SO glad to hear that your friend is doing better and that such a beautiful community is supporting her family and new babe in the meantime!

  8. February 2, 2011

    I am so happy to hear your friend is doing better. I have been thinking about and prayer for her. Thank you for letting us know. She is lucky to have a friend like you!

  9. February 2, 2011

    I bet your friend could use a few leotards from Rose’s collection to cheer her up even more. And maybe some of that butter-soft elk meat. Sounds like she’ll be scaling mountains again in short order, thank heavens. I’ve been thinking about her, and you.

  10. Molly permalink
    February 2, 2011

    So very very glad to hear about your friend, who I have met once (we have another friend in common).

    Re: size. My daughter has at least one friend who is very into size and maturity comparisons. My daughter didn’t toilet train early, and the other girl would gleefully point out that my girl was still a baby, and was therefore not big. I’ve been talking with my girl about “perfect sizes” and how everyone is the perfect perfect size. She finds this comfortable, so far, and I no longer have to attack the other child to defend my own (who is actually quite tall).

  11. February 2, 2011

    What a very touching story…and outcome. I’ve been thinking about her every day. Does Col go to a Montessori school? I love the birthday celebrations.

  12. Audrey permalink
    February 2, 2011

    Heartbroken not to be there in person to help. So glad Tara is feeling better. Will be very interested to see how this affects her family. Please give her my love.

  13. February 2, 2011

    love reading you!

  14. Melissa permalink
    February 2, 2011

    Amen, sister.

  15. Em. permalink
    February 2, 2011

    As a five-foot-tall woman, I would love to have a five-foot-tall man as my partner, if that helps! No more sore necks. Ha!

    Glad to hear your friend is doing better. I’m also a little jealous that you live in such a wonderful commmunity.

  16. February 2, 2011

    I love your fox smile. I love how you talk about it. It helps me feel so real and normal and part of the mother club. And, I hear ya. Col and your friend are eating, and (almost) hiking and living. And there is much to be grateful for. Even at those moments when some kid wants to compare heights.

  17. February 2, 2011

    I love, love, LOVE hearing about the outpouring of support for your friend, and find it so heartwarming that all the lactating moms are sharing their “liquid gold” (that’s what my NICU nurses called it). What a wonderful way to start life – by being embraced and nourished by the community!

    I’ve started on a post simply titled “Rachel”, and would like to ask your permission to quote some of your writing and link to your posts – especially the Hand Holding one.


  18. February 2, 2011

    I just want to show you my eyes, listening to you.


  19. February 2, 2011

    Whew! What an amazing community you have there. And so glad to hear about your fried. Just think of the opportunities in life that will open up for Cole–he could be a jockey or a Macy’s elf or a circus star or someone who crawls around in confined spaces (chimney sweep or energy auditor?). We’re having a non-stop Lego fest around here, and I’ve just started buying food–kale, spinach, cilantro, green onions–from “away.” It feels bad but tastes good. Your salad looks yummy, though, and I finally put the sprouting jar into operation in anticipation of some bean sprouts for eggrolls this weekend.

    • February 2, 2011

      My husband is an energy auditor and before that was a freelance handyman. He is about 5’8 and skinny and often comments on how much easier it is for him to slink around attics and crawl spaces, or bushwhack through the thick brambles, because he’s small.

  20. February 2, 2011

    oh rachel!!! what a wonderful update!!!!!!!

  21. February 2, 2011

    Our grandson is the smallest in his class as well. Being part Japanese will do that to you, but I ‘d be willing to bet he has the biggest spirit…your boy too. That salad looks delicious…I’ve got to get into sprouting.

    “Care I for the limb, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man! Give me the spirit.” ~William Shakespeare

  22. February 3, 2011

    Oh, your village. And yeah! for wet-nurses. How wonderful will it be for that baby to grow up around all those women who held her to their own breasts?

  23. February 3, 2011

    Weeping over modern wet nurses, over hope and love.

    I hope your friend heals quickly and can be with her baby soon.

  24. February 3, 2011

    I once had a relationship with a man who is barely over 5′ tall. It was irrelevant to me. (Though sadly, it wasn’t his height that was lacking, it was his personality at the time). He makes a very successful living as an artist, is now married with children. I see your concern, however I raise you this anecdote. ;)

  25. February 3, 2011

    Love your honesty and love in this one, Rachel. So grateful your friend is healing and yo, for your community of lactating mamas and non-lactating pals. Amazing. People are so good.

    Margot sneaks to sneak too. Baking powder? It’s so delicious mama! as she exhales a puff of white.

  26. February 3, 2011

    Love this post for so many reasons… the wet nursing (how awesome is that!), to the “Mamas aren’t very good at relaxing when their children are in pain”, to the food, to the art-making, etc., etc.. Your blog is like a 5 course meal every time I stop by.

  27. February 4, 2011

    I really love how you speak. I am not brilliant in the comment area – always lost for words.. but you make me laugh and cry and go -me to! I would bear my teeth… and um have.
    I always love what you have to say. Always. You just know how to put it.

  28. February 4, 2011

    It’s so very heartwarming to hear of a community coming together like this :) Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

  29. February 6, 2011

    colden likes being ‘a sneaker’ too.

    let the milk flow! best wishes to your friend and family!

  30. February 8, 2011

    A little teary-eyed reading this one, Rachel.

    xox to your friend, to your family, to you!

  31. February 8, 2011

    Oh joy! Such good news all around. Comments were closed to the news of her illness, and I kind of held my breath…

    As for your son, I’ve a little girl, far smaller than any of her friends, like a full head smaller. Some of those friends are a year or more younger than her. At ten, she’s annoyed and asks “…but when is my growth spurt coming?” However. She is the best skier in her class, she just gave a two hour presentation on Vietnam including photos, food and other props to a group of thirty who asked loads of questions, and she nicely holds her own at the piano. I believe, I hope her competencies make her stand taller.

    There is a perceived difference between short men and short women in our society, and I can empathize with your mother-worry, but I personally find nothing wrong in the shortness of a man. He is a lovely boy, and will no doubt grow to be a beautiful man.

  32. January 10, 2014

    Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much.

    I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

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