We’ve been in Pinellas County for almost three months now, and my darling girl does love the water.  Here, Maggie models the latest in UPF 50 swimwear for the whitest-white-girl-that-ever-did-white set.  Wrist-to-ankles with zinc woven into the fabric, and worth every penny since sunscreen that won’t kill you or give you other cancers costs a mint and thus it makes sense to cover 90% of her body.

Today we went to Madeira Beach for about an hour, a departure from our usual Sunset Beach on Treasure Island.  Maggie has no respect whatsoever for the water–the soaked curls in the photo are a result of her crawling off toward the water’s edge while I was unfolding a chair and nearly getting swept off to Cuba before I caught up to her.  File under “Mothers, Negligent.”

There’s no good segue here: I can’t talk about the oil spill without crying.  I’ve been coming to this area to visit family since I was the same age that Maggie is in this photograph and there is nothing about this situation that doesn’t break my heart.  Parts of the Gulf Coast are going to be ruined for the remainder of my lifetime, possibly the rest of Maggie’s too.  It’s coming this way, I hear; the Panhandle has already been hit.  She’s too young to remember this trip; she may never know how this beach was before the oil.  Unemployment here is already terrible and if tourism takes the expected hit, it will only get worse.  My sister and brother-in-law had hoped to move here within the next few years, but he’s in tourism and truly, there’s nothing for him here if the oil ruins local tourism.  I’ve done what I can, donating enormous bottles of Dawn to cleanup organizations and encouraging others to do the same, but the sick, dropped-stomach helpless feeling persists.

But in the meantime, before the landscape changes, we’re enjoying the hell out of the area.  I’ve declared the remainder of this week and next “St. Pete Appreciation Week” and we’re going to  At least, we’re going to do it up as only as semi-single mother and her demanding almost-toddler can–in moderate doses with lots of sunscreen, hydration breaks, and frequent stops to air-conditioned places.  The Dali Museum, the Sunken Gardens, the fruit winery that makes a carrot Merlot that once sent Tom away gasping and clutching his tradtionalist metaphorical pearls in disgusted disbelief.  (Maggie can be my driver.)  I signed Maggie up for private at-home swim lessons in my parents’ pool so we can get the most out of our water time here and back at home.  We’re going to go all over her daddy’s former stomping grounds (he’s a Floridian born and bred, of course) and see what he saw when he was small.

If she can’t remember how it used to be, maybe Tom and I can remember enough for her.


Viva Florida!

So I live in Florida now. Let me explain.

Wait, is too long, let me sum up: I didn’t leave Tom and we aren’t getting a divorce.
Okay, now the long version: Maggie and I are doing some extended visiting with our families. My parents and grandparents happened, in a brilliant moment of familial serendipity, to buy homes in or within five minutes of Tom’s hometown. The majority of Tom’s family still lives here. So in an effort to get our little girl more accustomed to her family and strengthen the bonds between grandparent and child and also eat a lot of Cuban sandwiches by the pool, I’m here with the baby until the end of July.
I spent my first day lying by the pool while Maggie took an extra-long nap and then read some blogs while my mother and Tom’s dad insisted on taking her for a walk. Those were possibly the most delicious 20 minutes OF MY YEAR.
I have a big photo roundup post prepared from our trip to the DC/Baltimore area, but I am bone-achingly exhausted. Just let me say this: you can prepare to travel with your child. You can prepare plans, you can make arrangements for their comfort. But you can’t fully realize how much travel will take out of your child until you arrive. It is the biggest crapshoot when traveling with a baby, one that can make your trip a delight or, to continue Princess Bride-ing you, break you on The Machine until you are more than mostly dead.
We had a good time, overall, but at the moment we are mostly dead. At least I am. Tom, being without wife or child to slow him down, is likely spending tonight drinking the beer I left in the hotel, calling room service for extra pillows, and passing out facedown in his new fluffy fort.
Maggie in particular is a red-hot mess of separation anxiety, smashed sleep schedules, and…how do I put this delicately…Belly Troubles. I feel nothing but wrenching guilt every time she cries these days, because it is almost always the pissed-off shrieks of confusion and disorientation. It will get better. I know it will. But for now…I need a Miracle Max. Or failing that, a decent night’s sleep in my childhood bed.