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I don’t know how this works

2013 February 27
by Rachel Turiel

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I don’t know how this works. Some days Col begs for a little alone time, in which his sister’s watchful eyes are not orbiting the planet of his own lego-constructing hands. Some days Rose communicates the “thumbs down” of her mental sibling scoreboard by pinching her brother on his nearest available flesh. Other times they decide to jump rope—tandem style—eyes locked fiercely while they fly in synch.

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I don’t know how this works. Last year when I was only homeschooling Col, I discovered that placing a worksheet and a pen in front of him triggered a narcoleptic stupor. The cheerful 2-dimensional bunnies on the page who invited him to do a word search! or fill in the blanks with the missing words! were transformed by Col’s pen into fanged, carnivorous animals; no “blanks” got filled in. I promptly abandoned worksheets. And now, one year later, with 2 homeschoolers at the kitchen table, I tried printing a few worksheets off the orgiastic website of worksheets: Now, the kids wait at the foot of the printer for their particular bundle of worksheets like kids on Christmas morning. “I got bubblegum math!” Rose exclaims. “What’d you get Coley?”

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I don’t know how this works. Even after everyone in the 4-piece band of our family wields an instrument of cleaning and de-cluttering, our smidgen of an 800 sf house Never Stays Clean.

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Underground in the root cellar!

I don’t know how this works. A few years ago, when my head first started sprouting a few random grey hairs, I bought some henna, certain that I would dye my hair, well, soon. The henna sat in the medicine cabinet while the grey hairs banded together in solidarity of the masses. Now, I am 40 and there are new grey soldiers daily, and yet none of them seem so offensive as to need escorting off the premises.

Some days my mantra is I know nothing, I know nothing, I know nothing. And it’s okay.

* I had the honor of guest posting on Kelle Hampton’s lovely blog, Enjoying the Small Things, while she soaks up time with her baby son. And it’s true that while I was sitting on my friend Melanie’s couch on Monday afternoon, my blog broke from all the traffic from Kelle’s readers. And it’s also true that while I was sitting on Mel’s couch not answering a call from my web-hosting company informing me of this, my assistant (how cool and funny is it that I have a blog assistant) Marybeth, who lives off the grid in Oregon with no internet service, happened to be at the library on the internet and actually understood what was happening and how to fix it. Which is just to say, angels, total angels.

So, go here to read the guest post on Kelle’s blog called The Grace of Now. And here to investigate Marybeth’s mad technology skills (specifically wordpress stuffs) or here for her gorgeous cloth diaper business.

And you? What do you know that you know that you don’t know?

36 Responses leave one →
  1. February 27, 2013

    I am one of those hoppers-over from KH’s blog, and I just want to tell you: I love everything I’ve found here and I subscribed immediately. Thanks for sharing!

  2. February 27, 2013

    What is this clean house you speak of? And how do you get everyone that lives there to help in trying to clean? That’s what I definitely don’t know.

    I adored your post on Kelle’s blog btw.

  3. Diane H permalink
    February 27, 2013

    “Needing to know” is such a crutch, isn’t it? I don’t know how I’m going to come from love every day – with my family, at work, in relationships. Just have to see what shows up.

  4. February 27, 2013

    I also heard about you over at KH’s blog, but what’s really weird, is that I saw you commented on Ben and Birdy’s blog as well! Fate was telling me to check you out :) I’ve now subscribed!

  5. Michele permalink
    February 27, 2013

    I know that we are all visitors on this marvelous earth, but it still baffles me that awful sickness can strike children. My sister’s 8 year old nephew was just diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on his brain stem. EIGHT years old. Unless we can get the miracle, he has less than a year. Logically I can understand that these things happen. Every fiber of my Mama soul in in anguish.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 27, 2013

      That is the unthinkable that I will never understand either. I am so sorry. Hoping that a miracle finds him quick. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ania permalink
      February 27, 2013

      Michele, as a mama of a 7 year old who just relapsed with leukemia (against the statistics – late relapse like his happens rarely), I will tell you that you just can’t know what will happen next. I personally know a boy who was learning to walk on hospital corridors at 10 months old and was not supposed to live till his second birthday. He just turned 5 this February and is still fighting his brain tumors. This is not the kind of life that you would want for any child, but kids are so incredibly resilient and until he is alive, there is hope that something unexpected might happen.

  6. Marlene permalink
    February 27, 2013

    I know that all the parenting books I sometimes lurch towards in desperation are all two-dimensional, and that my life, my kids, my fears, my joys are all 3 dimensional (at least), and that my instinct and love, though sometimes hard to hear above the shouting and the roar of doubt, are infinite and essentially right. I know that, yet, there are so many moments when I forget I know that and I look at these two little bundles of magic and moods with their vastly different and sometimes seemingly incompatible temperaments, that I forget, and I look up, down, everywhere but inside for the answer.
    I also know that full moon skiing is heaven, and I don’t know why some months I fail to get out there for a slice of that heaven.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 27, 2013

      Yes. Breathing in instinct and love.

  7. February 27, 2013

    I love Kelles blog but had already found you recently! Loving your blog x

  8. February 27, 2013

    I don’t know anything, it turns out, except that the reason my house isn’t clean despite abundant cleaning is that happy fact that it is occupied by living beings, all engaged in the messes caused by said life, and also happily, none of us seem to be afflicted with OCD, which I hear can help keep things spick and span at all times. You win some, you lose some!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 27, 2013

      I am posting this comment on my vaccuum. LOVE it, Kyce.

  9. February 27, 2013

    Hi! I’m a new follower from Kelle’s blog, too. I know that sometimes, I am astounded by how much I don’t know…there are so many amazing things to learn about, everyday is a learning experience.

  10. Melissa permalink
    February 27, 2013

    I know that I don’t know anything about plans. Like, I didn’t plan on getting pregnant with a third baby yet here I am, pleasantly surprised and riding the wave and feeling confident things will just work out. And that it’s okay. I don’t think I believe in plans anymore. Riding the wave and being present feels better.

    How fun that you are going viral! It was only a matter of time, m’dear! xoxo (PS, guess what else is changing?? woot!)

  11. Ellie permalink
    February 27, 2013


    I’ve spent a few hours now pondering your question: “What do you know that you know that you don’t know?” Such a brilliant question.
    In between thinking how to answer, I’ve taught two classes on Macbeth to sixteen-year olds who, it seems, always have just a little less humility than they should about what it means to be a human being. For the most part, they don’t know what they don’t know, and it is my job as a teacher to suggest to them–if not directly point out, when my patience begins to peter out–that there is, indeed, much that we don’t know. As long as we approach our lack of (self-)knowledge humbly, we’re all, more or less, alright. It’s when we think we know much (or everything) that a whole host of self-destructive problems arise. Thank you for an inspirational post, as always.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 28, 2013

      Teenagers are the best at not knowing what they don’t know. You are brave to point this out to them.

  12. February 27, 2013

    I found you via Kelle: I love your writing style and enjoy drifting off in the hazy sunshine of your words.

    I dont know what kind of mum ill be, or if my son will survive my broken sick body. But I know he is a miracle and I am learning that the love I already have for him is beyond anything I imagined it would be. I know who I am now, and wonder who I will be when this little man comes into my life and how he will humble and change me for the better.

  13. February 27, 2013

    wow, i feel like it’s my birthday! you are being quite generous with your compliments (i’m not quite off the grid, for example, though the no internet part is true and we do enjoy spring water), but i am glad there was a moment of serendipity with me and the library yesterday. the smartass in me wants to say i don’t know how wordpress works, which is actually more true than not, but it’s probably not the right time to downplay my skilz, right? thanks so much for the linky love, rachel. xoxo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 28, 2013

      But see, anything you didn’t know about wordpress, you’ve followed the proper channels to figure out. THAT is what makes a kickass assistant.

  14. February 27, 2013

    Siblings can be so weird. Awesome, but weird. My older sister used to drive me crazy, because we’d have the biggest fights and five minutes later she would act like nothing had ever happened. I would just want to scream, “I’m still mad at you! Why are you being so nice!?” These days, it’s one of the things I admire most about her – she’s so forgiving it’s absurd.

    I love that picture of you in the root cellar! Also, I think grey hairs make a person look wiser and lovelier in so many ways, and my house never stays clean either. I’m not sure it has ever *been* clean, actually!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 28, 2013

      Col is like that. And Dan too. Grudge-less. It’s a wonderful way to be. Or for the rest of us, a wonderful person to have on our team.

  15. Chris permalink
    February 27, 2013

    The antlers in the root cellar are gorgeous! I know that’s not the question you posed, but I so enjoyed following the construction project over the last year, tickled to see how beautiful it turned out (in addition to functional, of course). Kudos to Dan, Col & company!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      February 28, 2013

      Yes! Thank you!

      • Ed Oak permalink
        February 28, 2013

        Yes, I know that I don’t know what it feels like to be in the root cellar, thanks for the peek at its awesomeness!

  16. February 27, 2013

    Hot DAWG! That must be the single most beautiful root cellar in the history of urban homesteading. Or rural, for that matter.

    And, Kelle had her baby? I should pop over for a visit.

  17. Andrea permalink
    February 28, 2013

    When I don’t know what I don’t know I just assume I am not supposed to. I mean, what kind of ride would it be if we knew it all. What would there be to learn? If we really knew we might not have the strength to carry on.

    I adore the way the love cave, I mean root cellar, turned out. Totally swank!

    Only a matter of time before you blew up the net. Don’t forget us when your are famous.

  18. February 28, 2013

    Ha, I just posted about fumbling forward while not knowing:

    I’m planning to let myself go gray. Not sure what to do if I change my mind, because I’m probably too lazy for henna and anything else freaks me out.

    The root cellar is gorgeous. So are you.

  19. February 28, 2013

    Pictures of your kids doing sibling type things and your root cellar just gave me the biggest smile. There’re just all sorts of awesome in this post.

  20. Molly permalink
    February 28, 2013

    I don’t know how sleeping works, for my girl. We have a routine, and I was fine with it, but then I heard that some five year olds sleep in their own rooms alone in a bed by themselves. I wasn’t sure how to bring it up with my girl, and then she brought it up. She said I could say good night after our cuddles and tickles, and go in my own room. I said I’d check on her in five minutes. When I came back she was staring mournfully at her doll’s face, seemingly on the verge of quite tears. We might try again a different day.

  21. Emily permalink
    March 1, 2013

    Truthfully, today I don’t know how time passes. Monday was yesterday, I’m sure. Tomorrow can not be Saturday! These deadlines for work can not be here already! My children can not be this tall! sigh.

    Also, don’t know how anyone could think of worrying about gray hairs with such a beautiful smile. I mean really.

  22. Emily (another!) permalink
    March 3, 2013

    “I know nothing” has been a mantra Jojo and I have shared since our first trip together, learned from a wise old banjo picker at a bluegrass festival that Jojo won tickets to. The guy was clueless!! Legendary banjo dude picked like he knew it all but any questions asked by his the guy sharing stage with him was answered with “I dunnou”. We giggled and made “I know nothing” a part of our lives.
    Have fun in Costa Rica!!!! We await the stories : )

  23. March 10, 2013

    absolutely. i know nothing. and less each day. but i’m willing to try most anything! awesome pictures of the kids – and thanks for the good ideas. my col-den is the distractable getting ready type and i think the chart might be at least a diversion if not a solution…

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