Monday, May 25, 2020

Meet Max and Molly

Because why not!!

Everyone needs 2 kittens in a quarantine!



Everyone needs a good chuckle...



And the two newest members of our family have definitely added the chuckle!

MEET MAX 



AND MOLLY


Brother and sister


They make great lap warmers!


And provide a great excuse for taking a nap... I'm babysitting the babies!!



They keep a certain little girl entertained...


They are purrrrfect for us in this season of isolation


And stress...


In terms of business - Conventions are canceled or moved to later dates... This has created a massive amount of juggling and adjusting.

We are in a huge learning curve as we are forced to join on-line conventions and record speaking sessions and design ads and figure out social media and on and on. 

Can I just say that speaking in front of a filled auditorium causes me little stress - I truly enjoy it, but stick a mike and camera in my face and I freeze.



It just is not the same!!

Teaching through ZOOM was close to the same stress.

I LOVE teaching.

I love engaging with my students.

But sitting in front of a computer screen and trying to engage a screenful of faces is a challenge that wore me out each week. I am glad that our last ZOOM classes ended this past week. But ending was bitter-sweet. Saying goodbye to a screenful of kids just broke my heart. I have 6 classes filled with kids and I had to ZOOM them away. Hitting the 'end session' each time felt so wrong.

And Mary...

Little girl has taken another turn for the worse.

She had been doing so much better but in the last few weeks she has deteriorated and we are struggling to understand why. Nothing changed. But something changed. Scary. Frustrating.


We are waiting on bloodwork results and anticipating next steps. We have paperwork in to the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP). Our neuro wanted us to get a 2nd opinion so we are heading there when we get the word. 

Between now and then we have to figure out what to do about her tanking.

Through it all we are hanging in...


Enjoying our newest members...


Keeping busy working, homeschooling, gardening and playing!


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Our Silver Lining


He's the big brother who teases relentlessly, steals their stuff, eats their candy and hides their toys. 



He pokes and tickles and locks them out of the house and does everything that big brothers do to little brothers and sisters.

He plays hide and go seek and laser tag. He takes them for rides. He destroys them in their video games.  Makes them popcorn. Watches movies with them. 





He's big and strong and fun and they adore him.

He is their silver lining in this social distancing.

He lives and works in Charlottesville and normally we see him only on weekends. 



When the world shut down, his full-time work went on-line and his second job at the gym closed. 

Being home alone in an apartment was too quiet and lonely. Since he was working on-line - it didn't matter where he lived. We had work-out equipment here. So he packed his bags and came home.

To hang with us. 

To share our meals, laughter, conversation, fun.



To work out. To teach them how to work out.

To wake them up early on mornings they get to sleep in.

To take part in family activities like hiding their Easter Eggs so hard it takes hours to find them all.

He's our silver lining.



Not just for the littles.

Mine too.

And Rob's.

Having him home has been such a joy and blessing.

He makes me laugh. He drives me crazy. He teases and jokes and steals my phone and eats all the leftovers. 



He's stubborn and fussy and keeps me on my toes.

I can't boss him around. He's too big and doesn't listen to a thing I say.

But he has been second and third and fourth hands with Mary and the boys. He runs errands and goes shopping and helps with packages and cooking.

He loves to chat. 

He loves to listen.

He loves his brothers and his little sister.

He is kind and generous and we love him to pieces.

He's been the best part in this time of isolation.

I am trying not to think about when he will pack his bags again.



We will sorely miss our Silver Lining.

Without his teasing, talking, bossy self our house will be a lot quieter!!




Friday, April 17, 2020

Social Distancing John and Aaron Style


What do you do when you are Aaron and John and school is closed and you can't see your friends and you are stuck at home for weeks and weeks and weeks on end...


You watch Papa till up the garden....

You dream big dreams...

You wait for your turn to drive the tractor....


You do math with Papa because Mama refuses to let you lay around all day...

Ugh!


You discover that the desk Granddad got you a few months before works perfect for homeschooling...


You homeschool because of Mama...


You oversee Papa at work on his projects....



You get put to work ….



and more work....


Because Papa is having a blast planting trees and grapevines and getting the ground ready for a garden and mulching and weeding and building sheds and doing all kinds of other projects to keep bored boys occupied...

You enjoy watching movies with little sister...


You ride bikes...

Stay up later than normal...

Read books ...

Take walks...

Dig in the dirt...

Build Legos ...

Play on Xbox One...

Help Mama cook...

Help Mama clean...

Eat and eat and eat Mama's food...

Jump on the trampoline...

Jump on your brother on the trampoline...

Land smack on your brother's knee while jumping on the trampoline...

Break your arm on your brother's  VERY SORE knee while jumping on the trampoline!!!!




Yes. That really happened.

One sore knee and one broken arm all in one hard collision!!

When your son has arthrogryposis and he breaks his arm... showing up at the local ER is not really the best option. 

He needs HIS doctors...

He needs their eyes on the break...

But in the middle of social distancing and a pandemic....

The very LAST thing we want to do is drive 6 hours to see his doctors at Shriners in Philly....

So you call... His doctors... who are the best in the world at what they do... 

And they do what is rare and impossible in the normal world of insurance-run hospitals...

They call in an X-Ray prescription to an outpatient clinic HERE that happens to be empty of people when we arrive.

They instruct us to take pictures of the X-rays and e-mail them up there...

So they can read them... and decide...

And then... after reading them... they personally call a local colleague, who happens to be a close friend of theirs, who happens to be an arm and hand surgeon, and they work out the details for our kamikaze, trampoline slamming, arm-breaking son to get treated by that close friend of theirs.

And when we arrive at his office... it is EMPTY of people...

And they cast his arm exactly like the doctors at Shriners instructed and even take pictures to send...

And we go on our merry way... 

Without traveling...

Without being in contact with the masses...

With a long, miserable cast and a rather exhausted boy but a relieved Mama and Papa!

No surgery. No hospital. God is good.

Except for broken arms and sore knees....

Social distancing has not been that hard for the little boys.

They see their friends on Zoom....

They have youth group on Zoom...

They attend chapel on Zoom...

They do drama practice on Zoom....

They do speech therapy on Zoom...

They do classes on Zoom...

They visit with family members on Zoom....

They Zoom and Zoom and Zoom...

We didn't even know what Zoom was 6 weeks ago!!

What a Zooming new world we live in! 



We are keeping them busy...

Working on outside projects...

Spending quality family time together...

Trying to keep them from killing each other...

Or breaking their arms...

And that is social distancing John and Aaron style....

----------------------------------

P.S. - In case you missed seeing Mary's YouTube video... 







Monday, April 13, 2020

Be Warned - Tissue Alert!

I've always been a bit protective about my three littles being in video. I can count on my hand how many times since Aaron came to us that we have posted a video of them on this blog or on Facebook. I guard their privacy carefully.


But... sometimes... you have to break your own rules.

My niece, Meagan, graduated a few years ago with a degree in film and video. She does documentary filmmaking and lives in New York City. She's gifted. She has created quite a number of amazing documentaries over the years and is fantastic at capturing moments in time. I have a daughter with a condition that baffles doctors, and capturing some of her seizures on film might help them figure out how to help her.

She agreed to come follow our little whirling dervish around last Thanksgiving to provide us with some footage we can use for medical purposes. She showed up with a massive camera - it weighed almost as much as Mary!! For the camera geeks out there, it was an Arri Alexa Mini with a 30-76 Angenieux zoom lens. For the non-geeks, it's the kind of camera they use to make major motion pictures. 


Meagan spent the day following Mary around. She was a bit worried she would not get enough good footage (seizures) but I didn't have that same fear. Mary rarely has 'good' days so I figured she would 'perform' well. In reality - she had a rather awful day. We had to rescue her three times that day. It made for great filming. It allowed her to capture Mary in all her different seizure types and how the meds affect her. It provided us with a lot of good footage we can use for medical visits.

But Meagan didn't just take film of Mary to give to us. She also put together a short documentary. It took her 3 months to put it together.

Putting Mary's seizures out in public is not something I take lightly. I never want to post something that will embarrass her or hurt her down the road. Some of Mary's seizures are hard to watch and some I would never post. Ever.

But I trusted my niece and knew she would do an amazing job.

I was not wrong. I cried when I watched it. It is precious. So tastefully done.


It captures some of Mary's struggle but also captures her personality and love for life. 

It is a great film about the toughest little girl I know who faces down the beast every single day of her life and yet continues to smile and find joy in the midst.

I'm sharing it here for you to watch.

I've been told by someone who has seen it that I need to give a tissue alert.

So be warned.

Mary Quite Contrary - A Story About Epilepsy and Doose Syndrome


--------------------------------------

P.S. - To see more of Meagan's work: www.meaganarnold.myportfolio.com



Monday, March 23, 2020

Social Distancing Mary Style

What do you do when the world has gone a bit off kilter and you are stuck at home all day???


Get up early... just because...

Bounce like Tigger off the walls...

Make messes everywhere you go...

Go outside. Then inside. Then outside. Then... you get it...

Practice letters and numbers...

Throw a fit or two... or three...

Play dress up...



"Read" books...

Paint...

Color...

WATCH TV...

Help with the cooking...

Play car racing with the brothers...

Follow Mama around wherever she goes...

Ride your bike...

Dance around the house....

Pretend you are a cat... Pretend you are a dog... pretend you are...

Jump on the trampoline...

Ask when you are going to school....

Ask when you are going to church...

Ask when you are....

Make messes.... oh I said that...

Play with playdough...

Listen to music... 

Build puzzles....

And that's all before lunch!!!

Social distancing sounds like a nice quiet time... unless you have a Mary in your house!!

We are hanging in here in our little house on the hill.

All our Homeschool Conventions are canceled through the end of May. 

You would think that would mean more time on our hands but with three littles home... having to completely adjust how we are going to market our material... figuring out how to keep teaching my co-op classes... etc. etc. etc... we are shocked at how much busier we are at the moment!!


But we are grateful that we are together and no one is sick.

We are grateful that Mary's seizures are at a 'normal' pace right now. Her seizure alarm went off last night scaring us both to death. We had to rescue her and I spent the rest of the night trying to calm down from the panic. She's still seizing a lot each day with status episodes once or twice a week but despite the midnight alarms and the day seizing, she is better than she was two months ago.  We will take better!

We are trusting the Lord through this time. Praying for our family, our friends, our country, our government, the world. It's a strange season but God is still on His throne and in that we take comfort.

Stay safe. Stay home. 

If you are looking for homeschooling material to do with your kiddos... check out our website. BIBLIOPLAN. Our history is easy to do and you can do it with the entire family!!





Thursday, March 12, 2020

Insanity!!

ANCIENT DAYS IS DONE!!


We have the book in our ever so tired hands.


It's been one of our most challenging adventures in the BiblioPlan world.


When we started writing Ancient Days almost two years ago, we realized that the old Ancients scope and sequence was not good enough. So we changed it.

That meant that EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PRODUCT THAT LINKS TO ANCIENTS HAD TO BE REDONE!!

INSANITY!!!


Remember... it is just the two of us. 

We have one very dear person who helps us 10 hours a week. 

Otherwise Rob and I carry the entire load.

All the writing, shipping, conventioning (if that's a word), selling, paying, answering - everything is shared between the two of us.

With three kids at home who kind of need us to be their Mama and Papa... and one of them who has some pretty intense needs... it has taken us a lot longer than we anticipated.

But one day at a time... day in and day out... plugging and working...

A HUGE mountain was just climbed.

Our newest book is DONE. 

And so are a bunch of the products that go with it!!

The Ancient Family Guide is finished. Oh my gracious it doubled in size and is amazing.  So many extra features. 



And just because we are completely nuts, we also upgraded the Medieval Family Guide, the Early Modern Family Guide and the Modern Family Guide... all with amazing features!! All within the last 9 months.  

The Ancient Timeline is finished! Woo Hoo… another amazing upgrade! More pictures. Better labels. 


The Ancient Hands on Maps for Middles is finished.... the maps are all new - better quality! 


The Ancient Cool History for Littles and Ancient Cool History Middles are also finished. Again - Upgraded and wonderful!!

All the Notebooking has been revamped.

The Ancient Coloring Book is finished (although not back from the printers yet). And again, because we are nuts - we also upgraded the Medieval Coloring Book and the Modern Coloring book in the last year. 


Elijah helped us with these books!! His new coloring pages are amazing!



And in the midst of all the writing we have been doing ...

(WITH THE HELP OF OUR DEAR FRIEND, LU at Poppies Blooming).....


Talk about a learning curve. 

It's incredible and sleek and has a brand new 'special-needs' section for all the families out there who have struggling learners, gifted kiddos and more... Our material is adaptable for all ages and learning types!!

It also has its own blog and Rob wrote one of the first blogposts. CLICK HERE to read.

We even have a new Logo (Thank's LU!!)



We are not finished yet.

There is no rest for the exceptionally weary...


The Ancient Craft Book is going to take another 9 months or so. But it is getting a brand new revamp that will make the wait so worth it! 

The Ancient Companion for 7-12th graders is going to get a HUGE Revamp. We are just beginning that project but hope to finish it by summer 2021. With that revamp we will have a new Ancient Discussion Guide, Ancient Hands on Maps Advanced, Ancient Cool History Upper Middles and Ancient Cool History Advanced.

So we are not finished yet.

But we are taking a pause to share what we do have done.

And rejoice in this moment.

Because our newest book and the products that go with it are fantastic.

If you haven't used BiblioPlan before... now is the time to consider changing over.

Ancient History is where to start.

So check us out.

Enjoy the new website. 


As for me... I am on my way to the Great Homeschool Convention in Texas.

I'm flying. 

Rob's holding down the fort with all three littles for three days.


Insanity Doubled!!