As time goes by


“So would I do it again?  Probably.”

That’s how I ended my post “How I spent my summer vacation” in August 2015.

If you didn’t read it or don’t remember it, I’ll summarize…. Our vacation at the beach was 30% good and 70% sucky. Like a lot of family vacations.

But AGMA was right. I did do it again. Last week.

Crazy right?

Miraculously, it was 90% good this year. And everybody knows that 10% is certainly within the acceptable limits for sucky.

AGMA meant to post last week while I was lounging by the pool with a Mai Tai (which actually didn’t happen…)  I was in a beach house basically by myself for the first 3 days. Plenty of time to cobble together a few words.

One would think…

But, as happens so often, time got away from AGMA. And was MIA. One minute it was Sunday evening and the next it was Wednesday morning. Then my kin all descended on me and there was no time to do anything “elective” for the rest of the week.

But AGMA was ready for them.  This year, I was ready for them.

The Pack n Play was all set up for Adorable Grandson. He’s nearly 2. His toy box was ready and waiting, as was his high chair. His stroller and wagon were in the garage as were all of the beach chairs and umbrellas.

Thank God for the trusty AGMA-mobile… My 2008 Prius with 110,000 miles.

After three trips to the grocery store (one in Altanta and two at the beach), the pantry and fridge were fully stocked.

There was really nothing that anybody could want for. And they didn’t.

It helped immensely that Adorable Grandson was a year older. He is walking and talking (“no” and “more” and “mama” and “dada” are some of his favorite words) and understanding well.

It also helped that we were a minute’s walk to my niece’s beach house instead of a car ride like last year. My brother and SIL were there for a week as were my two nieces, their husbands and their kids (5 of them, ages from 4 to 11)

The niece’s house was the house of insanity, activity and craziness. Unless the kids were on their iPads. Then you could hear a pin drop.

But Adorable Grandson loved, loved, loved his second cousins and joined in the fray as much as he could. Between running around with the older kids and running around on the beach, the little critter was exhausted every evening. He went to bed each night with nary a whimper.

My younger son, who can be a bit inflexible at times, was pretty mellow and loved being the “crazy uncle” to Adorable Grandson.

My husband spent the whole time grinning after Adorable Grandson christened him “Bump-pa”. AGMA still has no name other than “nana” but I think Adorable Grandson was referring to an actual banana and not me.

My stressed out, over worked older son and pregnant DIL got some much needed R&R, and were much nicer to all of us this year.

So, I did it.

I feel like Clark Griswold at the end of Christmas Vacation. After many dismal failures, AGMA finally orchestrated a family event that everybody enjoyed.

I’m still dizzy with the feeling of success. Or maybe just dizzy from my new meds – not sure which…

So the question is…will there be a repeat in 2017?  Probably not…  Families, like life, are always in a constant state of change and evolution.

There will be a new addition to our family. Adorable Grandson will be joined by Adorable Granddaugther in November. And my older niece told me her family was planning on going somewhere else next year on vacation to expand their kid’s horizons. So my brother and SIL, and my other niece and her family probably won’t come either.

My sister and BIL couldn’t make it this year because of illness. They probably won’t come next year if my brother isn’t there.

It’s like dominos falling.

But no matter what happens, or where people go or don’t go, AGMA will always have the memory of last week. The week when I saw everybody in my family actually smile and get along and enjoy each other’s company.

We will always have the Isle of Palms 2016.

Play it once Sam. For old times’ sake

Play it Sam.

How I spent my summer vacation


There have been numerous requests, nay demands, that I provide a follow-up post to my last AGMA “I’m going to the beach” post.

The postmortem, as I call it.

To those of you who really couldn’t give a rat’s ass, stop now and tune into another fun, isn’t-a-world-with-Donald-Trump-in-it-strange post next week.  To those of you who asked, be careful what you wish for.  Here goes…

Overall, I will say that it was no worse than I expected.  This is actually kind of a sort of a lie because I believe in miracles.  I always hold out this Pollyanna hope somewhere in my cold, frozen heart that everybody in my family will realize how precious everybody else in our family is and change their cranky ways.  But it didn’t happen.


Did I mention that I had a 20 mile training run the morning I left?  Yup.  After the run, I had to hurry home, shower, finish packing and get all the baby crap together, get the house semi-together and get everything down to the garage to wait for my son to pick me up.  I live in a four story townhouse.  It’s two flights of stairs from our garage up to the master BR.  You can guess how I felt when finally I crawled into my son’s car after two hours of running up and down the stairs.


It’s a five hour drive to the beach.  For probably two hours, we listened to DeadMau5. Okay, maybe it was only for thirty minutes but it seemed like two hours.  It actually seemed like a lifetime.  If you aren’t familiar with DM5’s incredibly rich musical sounds (I’m literally choking as I write this…) check it out here.  It felt like somebody was driving hot rivets into my head.

My apologies to you DeadMau5 fans out there of which I’m sure AGMA has many…

My husband had left Atlanta early to pick up my son, DIL and the cutest grandson in the world from the airport near the beach.  I received the message that all went well with the pick-up.  1st hurdle successfully navigated.

1 down, 340 left.

My younger son and I arrived at the beach around 6 PM.  I was hungry, exhaused from my 2:30 AM wake-up and 20 mile run, with my head split open from the Mau5Man music.  And everybody was waiting for me to go shopping and cook dinner.  I went to the grocery store and bought a frozen pizza.

The 2nd hurdle didn’t go so well.  I got the stink eye.

Only 339 hurdles left.

Now that I think back on it, without going into detail, it’s amazing how there can be so much drama over nothing in only a three days.  And, sadly, as expected, the drama all originated from my son and DIL.  In all fairness, my DIL was sick.  But then it seems as if my DIL is always sick when we’re around.  Cause and effect perhaps?


My grandson didn’t sleep well at all the first night.  And he was up bright and early the next morning.  Both my son and DIL were dog tired for a good part of the trip.  But it didn’t help that they drank so much at night and stayed up late.  Duh.

I know nothing; I see nothing.

On the positive side, the rest of my family was great!  My younger son was fun and good company.  My nieces and their husbands were wonderful, and it was great to see and hang out with their kids.  My brother and I only had very superficial conversations so it was pleasant.  He was on his good behavior.  My SIL was as expected.  I asked her all of the “how have you been, what have you been doing, how’s your sister?” questions and she asked zero about my husband or myself.  But it worked for me.  She didn’t give me the stink eye once.  That I saw.

My sister was also on her good behavior too.  She drank, but evidently not so much that she got fall down drunk.  We usually left the “party” fairly early in the evening when she was still drinking, but it appears as if she maintained control.  Relief doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.

And my family loved, loved, loved my grandson.  But seriously, what’s not to love? He’s cute and smiley and chubby and, gosh darn it, just all around adorable.  But I’m not biased…

All he had to do was smile at me when I walked into whatever room he was in and blinding sunshine instantly cut through the clouds generated by my son and DIL.  My heart melted and I was a babbling pool of mush for the next 15 minutes.

And for those of you wondering, I did drink.  The first night.  I had to because of the frozen pizza dinner fiasco and the stink eye.  I had a pomegranate vodka martini and two beers.  Guess I must have still been dehydrated from my 20 mile run – I had sweated like Jackie Gleason trying to keep up with the June Taylor Dancers. (That’s a reference only those of a certain age will “get”.)  I had a pounding headache in the morning and was not on top of the the AGMA game.  That was a tough day.

I didn’t drink again for the next two days.  My Australian nephew-in-law thought I was crazy that I opted out of adult beverages.  Gotta love the Aussies!

My husband and I spent two nights in Charleston, SC after my kids left and we checked out of the condo.  I’m sad to say that I only started to relax and felt like I could be myself when we checked into our hotel.  I didn’t realize how tense I was until I wasn’t tense anymore.  Does that make sense?

So would I do it again?  Probably.  If I weigh the pro’s and con’s, it was worth all of the hard work and money spent and headaches (literally!) and heartaches to spend time with my wonderful grandson, my younger son and my nieces and their families. Plus, as much as they are ambivalent about my family and myself, it was good to see my brother and SIL after 2 years.

I know – there is something seriously wrong with me.

But, for the love of God, please, please don’t make me listen to DeadMau5 again!  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive a second encounter.

Thump, thump, thump…

We put the FUN in dysFUNction


Danger Will Robinson…this is an extra long post.  And it’s my second post this week.  What?  Has AGMA lost her mind?  Kind of…

Just think of it as a little extra to chew on because you’ll probably hear crickets from me next week.  I’m pretty sure I’ll need to go back into therapy.  And I’ll be busy trying to dry out, and jump back on the wagon after an anticipated hard fall off this weekend. Let me explain…

AGMA’s going to the beach tomorrow!

Most people would be really psyched for a trip to the beach .  Yeah – not so much.

It’s really my fault.  A few months ago I Sherlocked that my brother & family – kids and grandkids – were going to rent a house in August at a beach location only a five hour drive away from me.  Perfect!  Since it’s normally a semi-expensive flight and a rental car to go visit part of that crew, I seized the opportunity to see them so “close” to home.  So far so good.

But then I got the brilliant idea to invite my kids along.

And that’s when the trouble started…

I invited my son and DIL to join us and bring my adorable, cute, chubby, happy eight month old grandson along so the rest of the family could meet him.  It will probably be the only time they see him other than at his wedding maybe.  Maybe.  Or my funeral.

Yeah – we’re a wedding/funeral family (WFF).

You know – the kind that never gets together unless somebody get’s married.  Or dies.  Hopefully not simultaneously.

Maintaining relationships with my small, long-distance family has always been a priority for me.  I visited them as often as I could in years past.  I traveled to both of my niece’s graduations, weddings, and baby showers.  Saw each of their babies as soon as I could after they were born – there are five of them – and visit yearly.  I’m known to my great niece and great nephews as “crazy Auntie AGMA”!  I like that.

Sadly, this effort hasn’t reciprocated by that side of the family toward my sons.


So I figured if I wanted them to meet and fuss over my totally wonderful grandson, it would be up to me to bring them together.  And they say they can’t wait to meet him.  As long as they don’t have to make much of an effort that is…

Did I just say that out loud?

Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely adore my nieces and their families.  Really.  They are truly the most “normal” people who share genetic material with me.  I love spending time with them and they act like they enjoy spending time with me.  I don’t get the stink eye from them like I do from my sons and they don’t whisper into their cell phones when I’m in the same room like my DIL.  I honestly think they actually like me.

But a relationship with my family where one actually has to make an effort to connect wasn’t high on the priority list with my brother and SIL, so it just sort of transferred to them through osmosis.


Anyway, in what can only be deemed a miracle, my son (or rather my DIL who pretty much makes all the decisions) gave the thumbs up to joining us at the beach.  The Second Coming has to be close…  Our younger son managed to wrangle some time off of work so he’ll be there too.  And the plot thickens.

So I’ve spent to slew of $$, and invested lots and lots of time coordinating this for my relatively high-maintenance family.  I rented a condo (it’s a very high rent beach area!), bought gently used baby “stuff” for the little guy, and cleaned and disinfected it all.  I’ve also had to deal with my son and DIL, being tightly wound, first time parents, obsessing over every aspect of the trip to make sure the baby’s every need and desire is handled. It’ll be his very first airplane ride so there’s high drama afoot.  And of course there’s the stink eye and whispering to look forward to for the next three days.

This is going to be so much fun.  Like going to the dentist.

Then, the icing on the cake, my sister and my BIL decided they were going to join the party.  Literally.  The last two times (2007 & 2010) my sister has been around my brother and SIL with me present, she has gotten very, very drunk.  And it wasn’t pretty.  ‘Nuff said.

Oh my – the prospects for the weekend just keep getting better and better.

So here’s the skinny on what I’ve got to look forward to (and why I write an anonymous blog…)

My BIL doesn’t like my SIL.  My SIL doesn’t really like anybody in our family.  Or my BIL. My DIL doesn’t care for us very much.  She’d much rather be whispering on her cell.  My older son loves us in his own distant way, but doesn’t really like to spend time with us. My younger son is going through a difficult time and blaming us for part of it, so he’s being distant and judgmental.  My Libertarian brother doesn’t like anybody in my family because we’re all Progressives (although he’s not sure about the baby’s political leanings, so the little guy might get a pass for a few years.)  My nieces have a slightly troubled relationship with my emotionally distant brother – their dad – because he is so incredibly conservative and intolerant that he’s a bit crazy about it.  Their mom, my SIL, just flat out says crazy ass *hit sometimes and has serious control issues.

And my sister lives in a fantasy world where she thinks we’re all one big happy family. Duh.  But remember, she’s usually drinking when we’re all together.

Maybe the drinking thing isn’t such a bad idea and it’s time to fall off the wagon. Starting tomorrow.

OMG – shoot me now.

But as a friend of my said this week, you can “unfriend” friends, but you can’t “unfamily” family.  You only have one family.  There’s wisdom in that…  Somewhere.

So I’m rolling the dice and praying that, in some miraculous way, we might all be brought a little closer this weekend.  That maybe we won’t be a WFF in the future. That the good ju-ju of those of us who do get along and like each other will rub off on the rest.

Call me a crazy and idealistic kid.

But I only have one family.  And I really do kind of love them, warts and all.

Is there a diagnosis for that?

I guess I’ll find out when I get back…