To St. Helena 4

Another gorgeous day on the boat.  The longer we’re on a passage, the faster the days start to go.  Part of this might be because we’re always heading east and we don’t change our clocks until we arrive at a destination.  Our bodies continue to adjust to the sun, so there’s a weird feeling that the kids shouldn’t be going to sleep while it’s full daylight out even though it’s 9 pm.  It feels like summer nights, except in January.

We had school today but I diverged a bit from our typical writing plans to do something that I thought would be fun.  Usually I’m the only one having fun but today, everyone eventually got into it.  I had saved a few in-flight magazines from our trip to Zimbabwe and we all went through them and cut out pictures that inspired us and put them together to make a story.  Even Gemma got into it and made a beautiful story about a man searching for his identity (he found his true calling but not a sense of style).

Cobin told me he didn’t want to participate because then he would “just have something else to clutter up my room.”  Apparently, he was trying the appeal-to-the-parent-by-using-something-they-always-complain-about technique but it fell a bit flat when it was a 5” x 8” book we were talking about.  Still, it was an admirable effort on his part and I almost let him out of it, then decided it wouldn’t kill him to join us.  Despite his initial reluctance, Cobin eventually disappeared into his room for about 45 minutes and made a clever, Cobin-like story about a duckosaur, a lemonade stand, and a freeze blaster ray gun. 

Marin recreated the first chapters of Eragon in three pages but, when questioned about her inspiration by her brother, claimed that the idea just came to her.  Still, for a child that strenuously objects to writing more than three sentences, writing multiple pages (albeit small) was a big success.  Tully dictated about twenty pages to me of “The Ocean’s Christmas,” involving at least fifteen characters, including a family of mermaids, all of whom were attending an underwater Christmas celebration.  She crammed in as many magazine pictures of beautiful women wearing jewels as she could while still maintaining a semblance of a story line (with perhaps a bit of help from her mother).

I wrote an extremely short “demonstration story book” about a dog and a box that was 4 sentences long.  Somehow, I am far less verbose when I have to illustrate my stories by literally cutting and pasting things.  Joe opted out of creating a book but did attend the reading of our stories.

Later, we planted even more radish sprouts!  It’s a 4-week radish sprout project and we are continually planting new sprouts to do experiments with.  If anyone else out there wants science projects with a purpose, check out TOPS Science.  I finally read one of the many resource books I bought to help me with home schooling which is where I read about TOPS.  I have had success with other science programs but find it difficult to get good, hands-on science units that appeal to the range of ages that we have on board.  TOPS is great for this and also is just right for boat life because the authors have taught in developing countries so they are very good at using resources that are easy to find. 

This unit is pitched at 3rd to 8th graders so it’s a bit challenging for Tully to answer all the questions but she can do most of the activities and is certainly learning about plants.  We just transplanted most of our sprouts into a self-watering greenhouse made of a milk box and plastic wrap, with paper towels soaking up water from a jar of water underneath.  We will move these sprouts into baby food jars later and learn about photo, geo, and hydrotropism.  Other sprouts will get exposed to vinegar and salt and we will see the effect of environmental challenges on plants.  Cool stuff!  As you can see from Tully’s work with making planters, even without giant waves, we seem to find ways to get dirt all over the boat.

The big highlight of the day was swimming!  Since our chances of making the pig roast are very slight due to the light winds, we decided to enjoy what we had and take advantage of the light winds to jump off the boat.  Joe dropped the main, we turned off the engines, tossed out a floating line and took turns jumping in.  Joe reminded us not to jump or splash too much so we wouldn’t create vibrations that might attract sharks but, since our fishing line hadn’t even twitched all day, we figured this wasn’t exactly rich hunting ground for predators.  Just in case, we went in two at a time.  That way, if we lost a couple of people, we would still have a crew of four!

It was over 15,000 feet deep but that didn’t stop anyone.  All of us jumped in and the water was fabulous!  This bodes very well for our swimming plans for St. Helena – I was worried that it might be too cold but it’s not.

After the swim, Gemma did that most difficult of things – she convinced everyone in our photo-hating crew to pose for a family photo AND got everyone looking and smiling.  She’s 2 for 2 – one photo in the desert and now one on Charm’s stern.  One more and it may be Guinness World Record time . . .

The last bit of news today is mixed.  On the good side, our newly teenaged son allowed me a brief hug this evening.  The bad side is that, in the process of hugging, I noticed that he had grown even taller.  After turning back to back, Joe confirmed that Cobin is AT LEAST my height, if not taller!  It’s a terrible, joyful day when your tiny baby boy passes you up in height.  I saw the smile of delight on his face at the news but it just means that I will have to work even harder for my hugs while I have the chance.

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