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homestead happenings: sing out

2013 January 23
by Rachel Turiel

Last Sunday, I did some focused homeschooling with the kids (though, if you’d peeked in the window, it might look like we were just playing games and then Col was reading me Cat in the Hat while Rose practically perched on his shoulder, in hopes of missing, well, nothing EVER), and then I passed the baton to Dan, confident that he’d step in with his own brand of homeschool. As I walked out the door, I heard:

“Okay kids, we need marbles, wooden blocks and a score sheet.”

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Who looks the most competitive here?

I return a few hours later and Rosie runs up to me. “Listen to what Daddy taught us. Okay, ready Coley?”

Col: (shrugs).

Rose: (sings) “Her name is Mommy and she dances on the sand…”

Dan nods proudly.

Rose: “How ’bout the other song, Col?”

Col: (pretends not to hear).

Rose: (sings) “Oh Mama, you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind. Hey Mama!”

And really, who am I to say that learning suspect 80’s hits doesn’t constitute learning? We may not win any academic contests, nor singing contests, but I’ll always jump up to dance with my kids, especially when all the songs are about me.

On the homestead:

:: I’ve been taking the temperature lately by walking outside and noticing if the hairs in my nostrils freeze up. Here are some extreme nostril freeze up days:

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Animas River, iced-up.hh - hunkered down22

I have this philosophy that the more brutal the winter, the more glorious spring will be, like we can earn spring through pain. I’m pretty sure that’s crazy.

:: Thank you for all your good wishes on Col’s 8th birthday. Col was lucky enough to be born with the kind of mind people meditate for years trying to develop. He just doesn’t have a lot of expectations. It’s not that he has low expectations, it’s that his mind is busy answering the question: what’s the next fun and interesting thing to discover? And of course, when you see life that way, that’s how it is.

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Rose’s card to Col: I like about you that you share things with me. She also got Col a gift certificate for 2 ice cream cones with toppings (one being for herself, naturally). She was so over the moon about this present that she pulled Dan into our bedroom to hyperventilate-whisper to him about it. “I got Col a cift gerstificate, I mean a shift gerstificate, I mean…”

We went to our favorite New Mexico canyon for Col’s actual birthday.

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Best rope swing ever.hh - hunkered down11

Mini ice-skating rink! Not to be confused with the pool covered with a thin layer of ice right around the corner from this rock that Rose broke through, sinking down to her chest. Needless to say, I got to experience the rush of Supermama-adrenaline, which really does serve a valuable purpose. 

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Rose and Nana.

And then we had a lovely party with elk-taco bar, sledding, carrot cake, hot-toddies and the dearest people.

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Do I recommend setting out raw spaghetti and mini marshmallows for kids to build with? Um, no I do not. Thanks for sweeping, dear Julia.

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Sled hill behind our house where the bucks come out to play in the night. hh - hunkered down13

Rose and Zoelle.hh - hunkered down15

Tricky Daddy moves.

This is what it looks like to have a houseful of people you love singing Happy Birthday to you!

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This is what it looks like to watch your first baby blow out his 8 birthday candles:
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:: Did you know Rose has her own homeschool co-op? Here they are making suns on winter solstice. They’re the cutest little band of kindergarteners, I mean, they’re very serious and academic…because I work so hard to teach them…when I’m not squeezing on them and marveling at their little muppet-voices.

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:: In Col’s homeschool co-op, in its 2nd year, we’re studying climate change, which, holy moly, is a little like telling kids that their best friend is very, very sick. They’re fairly pragmatic about the whole thing. Their current plan is to hit the road at 13, traveling around in a solar-powered bus to educate people about saving the earth. I’m sure there’s room for more kids, if yours are interested too.

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:: Col and I are brewing our first batch of beer. I’ve realized that I need to grow things year round, even if I’m just midwifing chemical reactions between yeast and grain. I think this keeps me one step ahead of the winter blues.

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Adding the malt. 

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Homegrown hops taking the plunge.

:: We took the kids cross-country skiing up at the golf course (free! 10 minute drive! everyone up there is older than me! they’re also passing me by in a muscled, grey-haired blur!).

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Cross-country, which is riveting, at least to your cardio-vascular system.


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Last night, Dan’s straining the thick, yellow cream off the gallon of raw milk we get every week for our coffee. And I hear him sing to the pint jar of cream: I always thought that I’d see you again. (ps: name that song, which you thought was about a girl name Suzanne, but is really about rich dairy products.)

ps: Little known fact: if you take my writing class, which starts next week, you may see me in lipstick.

pps: Lost in the Woods class almost full. Sign up asap and get your 20% discount.

ppps: Are you a huge fan of Dr. Laura Markham like I am? Yes! She will be visiting with us here next week, prepare your parenting question for her.

pppps: Anyone read Swamplandia? Holy moly. That 31 year old can write. What are you reading?

ppppps: Col’s homeschool book, The Super Candy Adventure, now available at the Durango Public Library for perusing. Propped on the EASY fiction bookcase just outside of the librarian’s office in Children’s Room.

Happy Wednesday. xo



31 Responses leave one →
  1. Caraway permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Awesome post! This started my day out on the right foot. Thank you for all the photos and good cheer! Happy Birthday to Col, my goodness what an amazing 8 years it’s been!!!

    Rachel, I still want to be your kid each time I read your posts.
    Rosie, you write so well!
    Glad to see that the whole family is having so much fun in the snow. Sending lots of hugs!

  2. Britta permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Oh, so lovely. And muppet voices! YES. That is exactly what they sound like! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Love that description.

  3. January 23, 2013

    big heart swell and even bigger tears at the picture of you looking at col blow out his candles. second in glory only to the picture before it, of your beautiful 8 year old boy.

    love to you and the fam. xoxo

  4. Rachel Kohnen permalink
    January 23, 2013

    yeah to home brews and to little ones learning the art and science of fermentation!!

  5. Andrea permalink
    January 23, 2013


  6. Andrea permalink
    January 23, 2013

    For some reason I have the worst time posting comments!

    I am a major stalker, I mean lurker, here at 6512. I have a million things to say but mostly how that pic of you watching Col. Not just you but Dan and Rose too!!! You all have such joy and admiration for him. Such a lucky kido. If only all parents looked at their children that way…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 23, 2013

      Lurkers 100% welcome here. :)

  7. Milla permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Man, your kids have the best childhood and are getting quite an education! Lucky them. Thanks for being so inspiring. And, I’ve been putting off reading my copy of Swamplandia for a year and a half now. I really want to read it, but I have such high hopes for it, that I want to be able to really focus and enjoy it. Plus it was buried in a moving box for like 9 months…

    instead I’m reading “Jitterbug Perfume” which, rocks so far.

    Happy Winter!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 23, 2013


      Swamplandia is almost in the same category as Tom Robbins: lyrical prose, fanciful plot, admirable women characters and how it turns your brain a little inside out.

  8. carrie permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Fire and Rain?

  9. Sara permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Talk more about growing hops, please. It’s on the to-do list for the next growing season.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 23, 2013


      I bought 2 hops plants and took a cutting from a 3rd in my neighborhood. I planted them all and the cutting I took has taken off, whereas the others are poking along. When I asked an employee at our local nursery about why the other 2 weren’t thriving she said, “neglect them more.” Hops are typically one of those vines that will eat your house if you let them, especially if you live somewhere where there’s some actual reliable moisture. What I’m trying to say, is they’re pretty easy. I try to pick the hops at peak ripeness, because the flowers turn brown fairly quickly.


  10. January 23, 2013

    Been a James Tayor fan since, well, forever. Saw him in Telluride in 1990. Oh, and can I be on that bus with the 13 year olds too? Happy Birthday Col! And hooray for beer!

  11. January 23, 2013

    Your homeschoolers can join my Girl Scouts, who have come up with some fantastic ideas on how to save the world – for starters, let’s use salt water where we don’t need to use drinking water, like in flushing our toilets!

    I’m reading the Pete Townsend memoir right now. It covers my love of memoirs and the music geek in me.

  12. January 23, 2013

    Jam-packed post full of love and humour and activity!

    I LOVE Dr Laura. I refer all of the parents I work with to her blog, as a way of saying “see I’m not the only one talking about this stuff, and she has a PhD in it”.

    When they actually invent one of those “beam me up” thingies that they’ve featured on Star Trek for the past 100 years, I’ll be coming to your courses!

  13. Chi-An permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Oh, my son would totally want to be on that bus. Warning: He will want to drive. He’s the most vigilant in the family when it comes to turning off unused lights and saving water and he’s completely on top of sorting castoffs into resuables, two kinds of compost, two bins of recycling, and garbage.

  14. Chi-An permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Ack! reusables. Obviously not resuables.

  15. Rachel Turiel permalink
    January 23, 2013

    He and Rose might have to arm-wrestle over driving the bus. Rose goes around the house turning off lights, sighingly, announcing “please stop wasting batteries!” And then she’ll use an acre of paper to ink wiggly lines across the page, calling it her cursive practice.

    • Chi-An permalink
      January 23, 2013

      Hm, maybe by the time they are 13 and 9 they will be closer in size? Or maybe by that time Rose will just need to bat her eyelashes? While Rose and Theo are hashing it out, no doubt Miranda will sneak into the driver’s seat. Paper is consumed by the acre over here too, unfortunately. Both kids say their projects are so important that they need the fresh paper, not scratch paper (paper with one side printed).

  16. Danny permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Dear Rachel, I loved this ride through our lives! Thanks for being the poet of our family dance! I love you! Dan

  17. January 23, 2013

    Love this, made me smile, thank you. The little scenerio as you walked out the door could have been my house, the things my little man and hubby get up to while I am out are “pretty crazy” as the little man says :)

  18. January 23, 2013

    Oh, the ice and snow!

    And yay for Dr. Laura Markham! Looking forward to her visit!

  19. January 24, 2013

    The photo of you and Dan and Rose beaming at Col makes my heart sing. Definitely a keeper.

  20. January 24, 2013

    Oh Rachel. That picture of you admiring your birthday boy brought a serious tear to my eye. Mine is 18 now navigating get-me-the-hell-outta-here college stuff and I am savoring his presence more than ever knowing he’ll soon fly the coop. What a gorgeous blog post. Thanks as always for sharing your news.

  21. Barb permalink
    January 24, 2013

    i call James Taylor “Fire and Rain” BEFORE I looked at any other comments :) That’s a lotta snow. xxoo

  22. Ania permalink
    January 25, 2013

    That picture (of you looking at Col) does say more than 1000 words! Happy 8th birthday boy!
    I just requested Swamplandia from the library – thank you for recommendation. Have you read The Yearling? It’s a classic Florida story and a beautiful book.

  23. January 25, 2013

    so the thing I want to know the most is if that is gluten free beer you are making?!?! it looked like brown rice malt/syrup……

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 25, 2013

      Tis not. That is a barley malt. I didn’t even start with actual grain which makes this perhaps the easiest beer to make ever. So, the plan is to start easy and move on up to crazy things like gluten free beer. :)

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