I have been spending all of my blog time lately reading Enbrethiliel's posts on Far From the Madding Crowd. Good book! Even better conversation going on in the comments.
I hope at least some of you have read my last post about the death of the small family farm. I think it's really important to clear up a few misconceptions that most people seem to hold -- specifically, that the death of the small family farm is due to increased technology and therefore is unavoidable. Considering the same shift from small farms to massive farms happened in ancient Rome and several other times throughout history, it's not about tractors. It's about division of wealth. You don't hear people say, "I know your dream is to start a business, but there just aren't any more small businesses nowadays. Give up."
If they say that about farms, they're wrong. There are some political reasons why large farms have prospered lately (can't believe I forgot to mention over-regulation and an industrial food system that takes a cut of everything farmers make!) but even those haven't made it impossible to succeed on a small farm.
Lately I've been working on baking the perfect loaf of sourdough bread. It's harder than it sounds, but on the other hand even the funny-looking loaves are delicious.
The first loaf I made, I was set to bake on August 15th. (It takes three days.) Only I decided to go to the 8 am Mass because it's a Holy Day of Obligation and the noon Mass is during naptime. I have to walk, because John has the car. So I put the bread in the oven, got ready, took it out, wrapped it in a towel, and stuck it in the stroller basket.
The church was crowded and I was a little late, so I parked the double stroller in the back, kept the kids buckled, and was sort of able to pay some degree of attention. But the whole time that cooling bread smelled so amazing. First time in a long time that fasting before communion was remotely difficult for me.
Then we walked from there to the park and I was starving by the time we got there. It was a beautiful, clear day, a little cool. From that park you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains and there is always a bit of a breeze. I unwrapped that bread, cut it up, spread butter on each slice (score one for preparedness!) and we just sat eating that delicious bread on an absolutely perfect day.
I would like to put that moment in a bottle and keep it forever.
On that note, the weather lately! Oh my goodness! I always love August in Virginia, where the intense heat of July starts to dissipate, but this August has been extra special. It feels like Seattle. It feels like September. Only with cicadas and long days and haymaking in the fields on the way to church.
Every time the weather gets like this, I get nostalgic for everything. First for my childhood and all the perfect days I remember experiencing in my life. And second, if it's possible, for all the things I would like to happen in the future. I can imagine making hay in my own fields, baking bread, milking my cow, picking apples. I want a homestead badly at all times, but especially in August.
Marko refuses to answer to his name anymore. He is Martha, from Martha Speaks. Sometimes this a bad thing, like when he refuses dinner because he is a dog and only eats dog food. Sometimes it can be worked in our favor, when we tell him that dogs love meat and Martha always finishes hers.
Remember how I've been complaining about Marko and his awful behavior? I've been thinking of Dr. Sears's phrase that when a child feels right, he acts right. Generally I think, "Well, that's nice, but I can't always insure my kids will feel right." And yet I did notice a pattern was emerging. He'd be super picky about food, or just forget to ask for food, and I'd forget to give him any, thinking he would ask if he's hungry. Then suddenly he'd be starving, but only for one specific thing, always something unavailable. (If he accidentally picked something I would say yes to, he immediately changed his mind!) Then he'd start to get crabby from hunger and get even more rebellious and picky and refuse to eat dinner either. Then he'd sleep badly and be up for the day at five a.m., whining and crabbing because he was starving ... and refuse to eat anything because it's not what he wanted.
Infuriating, but a little extra attention helped him eat better, which resulted in better sleep, which resulted in better moods. We haven't had many awful days in several weeks. It helps to have a pretty reliable schedule for meals and snacks, which I always try to do, but sometimes get careless about. As long as he has food offered to him before he's absolutely famished, he's much less picky about it. It also helps that we've finally got him reliably going to bed on his own. I train him into it every time John is gone, but then John comes back and Marko just has different expectations for when Daddy is around. Finally he seemed to get the idea that once he goes into his room at night, that's where he'll be till morning. He doesn't have to sleep, he just has to lie in bed. He could think about dragons! Or Frog and Toad! Or Martha Speaks!
He's asleep in about 20 minutes, I am pretty sure.
I started signing with Michael recently because he talks so little and so badly. And it's helped a lot! Not only does he do the signs, but he also has started using more words. At this point he reliably says more, nurse, water, eat, dog, cat, ball, and quite a few others. I'm trying not to compare -- Marko used at least 100 words by this age and was making two-word sentences -- because I know this is perfectly normal. Also, Michael has a skill that Marko didn't pick up till almost three: he can give hugs and kisses, not just receive them. If you asked Marko to hug a teddy bear, he would sort of lean on it. Michael knows to give a big squeeze. I wonder if that's because he's watched his big brother more, or he just is better at translating other people's actions into his own.
This post is so late I don't think I'm going to bother linking it up. I'm not sure if anyone clicks through all 200-some posts each week, but I know I don't. You all know the way to Conversion Diary, though, if you want more quick takes. Might I recommend just clicking on the ones that look interesting rather than starting at the beginning? Because the same people always end up at the beginning because they're disgustingly prompt.