All Play and No Work

While our intrepid captain has been working around the clock on the boat and at his job, I have been driving all over Florida, packing and unpacking the car, doing laundry as we go, and trying to help with cooking and cleaning in our host homes (trying not to be a parasite). It’s a lot of work to be on vacation! The kids, on the other hand, seem to be suffering from vacationitis—all play and no work is just as bad as all work and no play. I never thought we would be so excited about getting back to a “regular” schedule of school and chores.

We spent the last week or so visiting good friends in the keys. They live and work at a state park, homeschooling their three children and supplementing their diet with fruits de mer—fruit from the sea. That means, at this time of the year, lobster. We went out twice looking for “bugs”—at the beginning and end of the trip. The first day was too windy and the water was choppy with limited visibility. The day before we left, the wind had finally died down and we spent the day going from hole to hole in the Florida Bay, out beyond the traps in clear water, searching for nice-size lobster. I got in the water twice, but encumbered with a toddler, didn’t see much more than sea grass and a few small fish before I had to get back in the boat. It was a really fun day, though, and a successful one—we took home three dozen lobsters, and Eli earned dinner for our family! The other kids snorkeled, measured lobster, helped with gear, and jumped off the boat and swam around when not busy.

One of the coolest things for me was seeing how our friends work as a team: Ken or Amy drive the boat (while wearing baby Kai in an Ergo carrier), Mia (10) searches for lobster in their hidey-holes while the grownup not driving helps bag the big ones. When they come up with a specimen, Max (7) swaps the full net for an empty one, empties the lobster on deck and measures the carapace. If it’s big enough, he plops it into the live well to join the others. It’s a smooth operation, and reminds me why we love to homeschool—to be on our own schedule and live and work as a family, learning in real-world situations.

Our friends took us on other fun excursions—bridge jumping, the Dolphin Research Center, dinner at the Hurricane, Homeschool P.E. at the local city park, and walking through the state park. You’d never know that school is in session! But even school can be fun when you have a class of six buddies working together. Homeschoolers aren’t used to that kind of setting, but it seemed to work well, with everyone finished by lunchtime and back to LEGO building, knitting, drawing, frog-collecting, game-playing and all the other creative things homeschool kids think up to fill the time they aren’t on a school bus.

[flickr: 8017856520]

After a week or so of fun, we returned to the beach condo to visit Dad and recuperate from sleepless nights and get ready for yet another week on the road…more play in store for the crew of Take Two. Phew!