Sundays are work days for us, so Mondays are our days off. It’s sprinkling a little this morning, but not too hard; the windows are open and the birds are singing. The neighbor’s cows are mooing (in fact they sound like they’re in the back yard–I’m going to go check as soon as I post).

Dan and Emily built a beautiful block city.

Christopher discovered that Emily fits inside my giant library bag.

Everyone is enjoying nature on this beautiful spring morning.

Well, OK, not quite. But I’m going to chase them all outside in a minute to do their chores.

It’s the last week of April, which means that I start travelling again at the end of the week. Off to New York for a conference, and then into Manhattan for a couple of days to have lunch with my agent and do a bit of research at the NYPL.

I scheduled my summer speaking engagements back in the days when I thought that I might actually have the History of the Medieval World finished by the deadline of May 1. Now my deadline is the end of August, and to meet THAT I’m going to have to work about three times as hard as I’ve ever worked before. (Which is scary.) While still travelling. And without destroying the rest of my life: I refuse to give up home schooling, or cooking fancy dinners for fun, or horseback riding, or working on the farm. So I’ve got to manage to be more efficient within my current working hours.

I reached this conclusion yesterday, after working out a detailed plan for finishing the book. Then I launched my new rigorous plan by sleeping right through my alarm this morning (I was going to do my 4 AM wakeup call…). And I was going to get to work on the Plague of Justinian, too. Here’s where I finished up work on Saturday…

The fighting had not gone well for the Byzantine army, but a blacker enemy hovered. In 542, just as Khosru was crossing over the Euphrates for yet another assault on the Byzantine frontier, a ship docked at the Golden Horn. It brought much-needed grain from the mouth of the Nile; the cold dark summers of the previous years had already reduced food supplies, and the population of the eastern Empire was already hungrier and weaker than normal. But not long after the ship threw down its anchor, a sickness began to spread along the waterfront. It was an illness known to the ancients, but new to the people of Constantinople: sudden fever, swellings in the groin and armpit, black pustules and bloody vomit, delirium and coma.
Physicians, dissecting the bodies of the dead in an effort to find the cause, found strange abscesses filled with pus and dead tissue at the center of the swellings. They were at a loss: nothing seemed to stop the spread of the disease. At first, the deaths from the illness were no worse than from any other epidemic making its way through the crowded suburbs of Constantinople. But within days the mortalities had doubled and then doubled again.
This was no mere epidemic. It had become a catastrophe without parallel: a pestilence, writes Procopius, “by which the whole human race came near to being annihilated.”

Cool, huh? I love disasters. Well, I’ll get back to it tomorrow. Assuming I can roll out of bed when the alarm goes off.

Pictures from the NY conference coming at the end of the week…

Showing 9 comments
  • JFS in IL

    You need to clone yourself (there is a home school science project for the kids! Replicate Mom!) 🙂

  • Lori

    Yow. Reading stuff like that just gives me the heebie jeebies. (I still read it though.)

    I loved the picture of your children “enjoying the spring morning”. Looks like my crew. I’m out planting the garden and trying to keep the twins in the back yard with me and the other ones are crowded around their technology. Children!

  • sharon

    …a house full of Macs and you still get the “red eye” on your photos….


  • Lorna

    We are very proud of our daughter’s huge vocabulary gained by reading so many books (and not listening to her parents). The down side is that she has an incredible knack of creating vivid, unwelcome images in one’s mind.
    You have this talent 😉

  • Melora in NC

    I noticed that there was a very favorable review of your History of the World in Christianity Today!

    Those big library bags are good for hauling all sorts of things! I have also found children (one at a time!) in mine.

  • Emmy

    Love the pics of your family – especially all the laptops at the kitchen table, thats perfect! I am jealous you are going to NY….somehow your homeschool mom life seems wildly more glamorous than mine. 🙂

  • Michaela

    Yet another wonderful and inspiring blog. I had to comment to let you know that you aren’t the only inspiration in your family…. My 5 year old son thinks that Emily and Christopher’s beautiful block city is ‘awesome’, and has just emptied his bag of blocks next to me on the kitchen floor.
    PS Thanks to your Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading , our 5 and 4 year olds are already reading at 2nd and 1st grade levels respectively. We are loving the First Language Lessons and Story of the World too. Our elder two daughters (16 and 15) read your blog (and books) regularly too.
    I’ll turn 40 this year too, so know exactly what sleeping through the alarm feels like just lately. Your schedule makes me tired just thinking about it. Keep up the great work!

  • Jared Croft

    4 AM? As you must already know, insufficient sleep weakens cognitive functioning. As far as I know, this is true even for geniuses on lattes…The side effects are cumalative, so maybe get a good nights sleep at least every now and then?

  • Plumfield

    It is hard to explain to someone why, when things get really hectic, you don’t just “give up” homeschooling or eat take out more often, but I find it is these things that make me feel the most fulfilled! A while back you posted Christopher’s schedule for highschool with the promise of letting us all know what you had up your sleeve for the rest of the kids. Any chance of that happening?

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