So I’m sitting here typing this on Sunday night. And tomorrow is the first day of school. I’ve got school supplies stacked up, a new backpack packed, and Caroline’s choice of outfit laid out on the bed. But nothing can really prepare me for the fact that my baby is going to be a fourth grader. I mean, I remember being a fourth grader. I vividly recall getting in trouble for repeatedly singing the Diet Pepsi jingle over and over again with my best friend, Jill, until our teacher suggested that maybe we should sing it in front of the entire class.
She thought we’d be mortified. However, we saw it as an opportunity to entertain the fourth grade masses. I think that teacher retired the following year.
Anyway, fourth grade it is. A whole other side of the elementary school. The big kid side.
But before I lapse into total schmaltz and a few choruses of “Cat’s In the Cradle”, I need to wrap up the summer with a recap of our last week or so.
A week ago this past Friday, I headed down to Port Aransas with five of my friends. We call ourselves Birthday Club. Last summer we spent a weekend at the beach together because my friend, Julie, and I were turning forty. And this year Gulley and our friend, Hillary, turned forty so we felt like this was a good reason to have another girls’ beach weekend.
The good news is Steph will be forty next year. Then our friend, Amy, will be forty the following year. So we have excuses for beach weekends every summer for the foreseeable future. But really the only excuse we need is that we are all mamas that work hard all year round and sometimes a girl just needs to blow off some steam and eat Fritos and bean dip on the beach and rest in the comfort of spending two whole days by the ocean without having to build one, single sandcastle.
We caravanned to the beach and arrived mid-afternoon on Friday. After a quick lunch of fried shrimp baskets (because nothing like some fried shrimp before you put on a swimsuit) we headed to our condo to unpack the cars so we could spend the rest of the day on the beach.
Good thing we packed light.
And I have to confess these photos only represent about half the stuff we brought. Antoine de St Exupery said, “He who would travel happily must travel light,” but apparently someone forgot to tell us.
We also believe there is no such thing as too many chips. (I believe Gandhi said that.)
Particularly Fritos or Julios.
(Since I know someone will ask. Julios are the most delicious tortilla chips ever made with some kind of special seasoned salt on them. I’m pretty sure you can only get them in Texas. You have my condolences.)
There was one culinary low point when Amy was eating one of the frozen empanadas that Julie bought at Costco and said, “This is delicious. Is it seafood?” And Julie replied, “No. It’s black bean and chicken.” Is there really anything more concerning than something tasting like seafood when it’s not actually seafood?
So we spent the next forty-eight hours sitting on the beach. We ate too much and laughed too loud and might have even danced to Call Me Maybe like we were fifteen years old instead of forty. It was blissful. And ended all too soon.
But my time at the beach was just beginning because P and Caroline met me on Sunday so we could spend the next few days there as a family. I packed up my stuff, which was significantly less without all the Fritos, and met them at another condo.
Naturally, Caroline wanted to get to the beach right away. I put my suit back on and spent the next few hours digging an enormous hole in the sand while she alternated between supervising (barking orders) and filling it with water so she could make a home for her fish.
And then she headed out to play in the waves with P, ordering me to make sure her fish had plenty of water because she clearly doesn’t have a good understanding of sand and the way water tends to just get absorbed and how her mother would rather read InStyle than make repeated trips to the ocean with a plastic bucket.
Over the next few days I dug more holes in the sand and we built sandcastles and she and P fished out in the surf while I tried not to think about sharks.
She also discovered the fun of digging for sand dollars.
It was the perfect way to end the summer.
We came home tired and a little sunburned and with sand on every single item we brought with us. And I spent the next couple of days shaking out suitcases and washing swimsuits and thinking about dunking my entire face in a vat of Retin A to get rid of all the sun spots I’ve acquired this summer.
But there was still more fun to be had.
P and Caroline ended up driving back down to the coast to fish with one of his friends on Thursday and Friday. Which meant I had time to get a pedicure and watch forty-two episodes of Parenthood on Netflix.
Meanwhile, Caroline got her first black drum.
And ate her first meal at The Boiling Pot.
It was a win for us all.
They got home late Friday night and Caroline was so tired I had to carry her into the house. But she mustered up enough energy to go with P to the Hunters’ Extravaganza on Saturday afternoon. Where she rode a mechanical bull for twenty-seven seconds.
And had her picture taken with a large sasquatch holding beef jerky.
It’s really everything I ever imagined for my daughter. Back when I was in fourth grade and watched Urban Cowboy too many times and thought mechanical bull-riding was an actual occupation.
And spent my spare time memorizing lyrics from Diet Pepsi commercials.