First grade has been very, very good to her

In the midst of trying to get us ready to leave on our vacation to Florida and pondering why the manufacturers of children’s toothpaste insist on making it out of impermeable blue gel that can wreck a freshly cleaned bathroom countertop in 2.3 seconds, I forgot to mention that I am now the mama of a second grader.

Second grade.

Which is truly a remarkable accomplishment considering she was just born three days ago.

I have a vivid memory of rocking her in the middle of the night when she was about four months old and worrying about how I would ever have the strength to send her off to the dog-eat-dog world of Kindergarten. I told myself that it was silly to worry about something so far away. And then I blinked and it was time for her to start school.

Someone once told me that the years go by quickly once your kids start school, but I wasn’t really prepared that it would seem like a runaway freight train all hopped up on speed with a side of adrenaline.

I also wasn’t prepared that she would attend her last day of first grade dressed like Cyndi Lauper circa 1984.

Friday without any fashion

Caroline and I caught a 7:25 a.m. flight home from Birmingham yesterday. Which means that we had to be up at 6:00 a.m. and that’s an hour that I consider to be obscene.

On the plus side, we were back home by 11:45 a.m.

On the negative side, Caroline decided she wanted to eat Chinese food in the Houston Hobby airport at 9:00 a.m. while we were waiting for our next flight.

Listen, I love her but that is just sixteen kinds of wrong.

And then we spent the afternoon at the pool because apparently one of us still had energy to burn. I wasn’t that person.

So now I am exhausted and plan to sleep for the next thirty-seven hours to recover from our relaxing vacation.

But I’ll leave you with a few quick things.

1. I am absolutely obsessed with all the buzz about all the athletic conference shakeups and whether Texas A&M will end up in the Big 10 or the Pac 16 or (please, God) the SEC. I’m sure that Bill Byrne has been waiting for my opinion on the matter so I’m just going to go ahead and say I’m hoping for the SEC. The thought of all that good college football makes me ten shades of happy.

And I realize this means nothing to so, so many of you, but it’s my way of saying that I am spending all my free time on ESPN.com and the Texas Aggie message boards.

2. Several of you asked about Caroline’s polka dot swimsuit. It’s from Target and I wish it came in my size.

3. There is a line in The Patriot where Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, says, “I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel about the amount of cream cheese I’ve eaten in the past week and resuming my Shred workouts with Jillian Michaels.

4. Here are a few more pictures from the beach.

5. Y’all have a great Friday.

The day the Gulf Coast died

On Sunday we spent hours in the ocean. We jumped and floated in the waves until we barely had enough energy left to walk back to the condo and fix ourselves a delicious dinner of chips and queso. Of course we made turkey sandwiches for the kids because we felt that it was important for them to eat something with a little more nutritional value. Plus, more queso for us.

Later that night, after the kids were in bed, Sophie and I watched the local news. Basically the entire news report revolved around the oil spill and featured several experts discussing the conditions in the Gulf. They said that when they fly over the water there is a definite oily sheen covering the surface and that people may be swimming in oil and not even realize it.

Well, needless to say, total and complete paranoia set in. Sophie began to wonder if the residue she felt on her skin earlier in the day was actually oil as opposed to the fifty-six layers of Coppertone Sport SPF 50 she originally thought. I began to search our swimsuits for signs of tar. We said ugly things about BP and the all around ship of fools that appear to be running this operation.

The next morning we walked out on the balcony and began to scope out the water for signs of the reported oil sheen, but discovered that when the sun is rising over the ocean it makes everything look shiny. The water actually looked beautiful so we decided to head down for another morning at the beach.

Most people were swimming out on the first sandbar and Alex and Caroline begged us to take them out there. And even though I normally have very strong feelings about the first sandbar and how it relates to being part of the oceanic food chain, we agreed to swim out there even though it meant we had to swim in water that was over our head.

To make matters worse, we underestimated the distance and arrived at the sandbar feeling like we might be picked up for trying to illegally immigrate to The Bahamas. Technically, I don’t even know if you can illegally immigrate to The Bahamas but I assume it wouldn’t be a bad place to live unless you are the kind of person who tires of delicious fruity cocktails served up while you lounge on the beach.

But we made it safely to the sandbar and spent the rest of the time cautioning the children to not stand too close to the edge because “that’s where the sharks hang out”. I feel certain that our fellow swimmers on the sandbar were delighted by our paranoid presence.

Eventually we swam the eight miles back to shore and built sandcastles before collapsing poolside for the remainder of the day.

That evening we drove into town to pick up some groceries and began to see signs of impending doom.

Heavy equipment.

Sandbags.

Barriers.

And an ominous crane foretelling doom.

Actually, it was just a crane holding a fish in its mouth and I took a picture of it.

So the next day we spent a lot of time doing this.

At one point Caroline and I decided to go back down to the beach to look for shells and build a sandcastle. As we walked up and down the shoreline we began to see more and more pieces of tar floating in the water and washing up on the sand. By the time we got back to our starting point our feet had tar all over them. Nothing like a refreshing walk on the beach topped off with a good scrubbing with Dawn liquid soap to cut the grease. Thanks, BP.

By Tuesday there were cleanup crews walking up and down the beach with shovels and trash bags. The red flag was out on the beach to let people know that it wasn’t advisable to get in the water. So we took Alex and Caroline into town for a morning of putt putt golf fun in the 192% humidity.

It was there that I discovered Alex has the gift of encouragement. I have never felt so secure in my putt putt playing abilities as he continually called out, “GREAT SHOT MISS MELANIE! GREAT SHOT!” By the time it was over I felt I was on my way to becoming some sort of miniature golfing legend and I don’t think it was a coincidence that I played the game of my life.

In spite of the oil and tar, we had the best time. We ate too much, we laughed until we cried, we swam to The Bahamas, we enjoyed the Florida sunshine, and we watched The Bachelorette. In other words, it was perfection.

Just like the Florida sunset.

And the white sand.

And these kids.

When they’re not asking how much longer until we get there.