Radical Homemaking

March is a busy month for us. The sap is running, and the first batch of chicks arrives. But most significantly, it is my youngest daughter’s birthday month.  Ula turned eight this month, and she likes to make the most of her birthday. She usually starts outlining her plans at Christmas. She is particularly fond of surprise parties, and for the third year in a row, she requested one. This year, she changed the menu. Usually I prepare her favorite meal: A couple of grass-fed beef steaks from our farm, paired with homemade local and organic skillet potatoes, and maybe some kale from the farm down the road, marinated in sea salt, organic olive oil, and some garlic from our garden.  But Ula was turning eight. She wanted pizza. And she didn’t want me to make it. She wanted us to take her out for pizza.  The day before Ula’s birthday, my oldest daughter Saoirse baked her a cake. I secretly emailed our friends and asked them to come over and hide in the house while we took Ula out for pizza, and then we drove to town. We went to a restaurant where our neighbor, Joe Mule, was making the pizza. His sauce is fantastic, and there’s love in every pizza he makes. (Joe was making the best pizza when I turned eight years old. I rode the school bus with his son when he turned eight years old.) We had a great time, then we drove back up the mountain for Ula’s surprise party. And for the third year in a row, we managed to surprise her. Now when you get a group of parents with school-aged children together at a birthday party, you inevitably start discussing the education system. So while kids ran wild around the house, we sat around the kitchen table with a couple bottles of wine and beer, and the cake (it’s a surprisingly good combination), and began to talk about school—about the new common core, educational standards, testing, college preparedness, career preparedness. Parent stuff. But as I listened, I recognized that the fundamental
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