The call to serve

AGMA isn’t sure I’ll be around to post after today.

I don’t mean to upset you, but I feel like I need to prepare you for the worst possible scenario.

Just in case.

No, I don’t have COVID or another illness that is about to take me out. Yet.

No, I haven’t decided to give up blogging. AGMA is one of my “touchpoints of sanity” in the totally insane world that is 2020.

No, I’m not going into exile to escape what is sure to be a very rough time in the US over the next 4 months. Although I’m sorely tempted.

Son#1 and DIL will be going away by themselves for a well deserved long weekend to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Soooooo – AGMA and Hubs will be babysitting our 3 young grandchildren (ages 5, 3 and 14 months) for 3 days and nights by ourselves.

BY OURSELVES!!!!

(Did I just shout?)

Well, that’s not entirely true. My DIL has a lovely young lady come over during the day Monday through Friday to help her with the kiddos. The kids adore their nanny and she loves them so it’s really a great arrangement.

Super nanny will be around to help us on Thursday and Friday into the early evening. But we’re going to be solo at night and on Saturday and part of the day on Sunday.

Oh the humanity!

I’m not entirely sure I’ll survive.

Please don’t get me wrong… AGMA loves my 3 grandchildren dearly.

We sold our house, put most of our earthly possessions in storage, and moved over 700 miles away to be closer to them. During a global pandemic. And (of course) brought lots of toys with us.

And the 3 grandchildren I have now are it. There are no additions on the horizon nor will there be.

Zip. Nada, Zilch.

Son#2 is more than happy being a life long bachelor and having to only care for 2 cats.

Son#1, the kiddo’s father, saw to it, surgically, that there will be no additional rug rats added to the brood soon after #3 came along last year. If you catch my drift…

So these 3 precious children are it. They are the legacy that AGMA will be leaving to world when the sand runs out of my hour glass. My chance to achieve immortality of sorts. The future of my DNA.

Plus they are just a cute and adorable and personable as they can be.

I love them more than words can say.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m looking forward to spending a whole weekend with them. Alone. I mean, seriously?

There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. AGMA isn’t as spritely as I used to be (which wasn’t all that great to start with!) I get tired (translation = exhausted) trying to keep up with them.
  2. Hubs has a neurological condition that impairs his balance and mobility so this means that I will be doing all the “stair running” (they have 3 floors) and carrying of anybody or anything that may need carrying.
  3. We like to sleep at night. The kids don’t. The older ones often pile into their parent’s bed in the middle of the night. This is the very same bed that we will be sleeping in this weekend. It could be difficult to sleep with a foot in my stomach and an arm across my face or a squirmy 3 year old at my head.
  4. After 3 nights of interrupted sleep piled onto exhausting, stair running days, AGMA will not be somebody that anybody will want to be around for any length of time. Just sayin’…
  5. Most importantly, we like to be the “good guys” to the kids. We don’t want to have to discipline them or order them to pick up their toys or tell them they aren’t allowed to have that extra snack. You know – stuff parents normally do. But we might have to do all that this weekend. And that’s just no fun.

But we knew there would be assignments like this when we moved up to Chicago. We were aware of the risks.

We are the brave, the strong. We are grandparents. And we will serve despite the risks. That’s what grandparents do when called to action.

Even if we have a nasty case of bone spurs.

Please remember AGMA fondly just in case I don’t come out on the other side of the weekend…

Have curriculum, will coordinate

We’ve been apart for what feels like forever.

AGMA found out that WordPress has a new editor! I’m giving it a try so who knows what this post is going to look like. Where the heck is the word count?

And Andrew at Andrews View of the Week moved from California to Nevada.

What other big changes have gone on out there while I was in hibernation?

Despite crazies like AGMA and Andrew who decide to sell their homes and move in the midst of a pandemic, I think that most folks are like Marty over at Snakes in the Grass and have pretty much been staying home. He complained that there’s just not much to blog about when there’s a wild virus raging outside your door. He volunteered to move to Chicago to help us grandparent TMWGITW. I told him that the children (5, 3 and 1) would indeed provide the needed inspiration for amusing blogging.

The 5 year old, my Boo, keeps himself entertained by asking Echo (at his house) and Alexa (at our apartment) to do fart sounds. There are even fart songs.

Who knew?

Evidently Boo knew….

We are closing on 4 weeks in Chicago.

Other than a horrific pandemic that has basically gone unchecked in the US due to totally incompetent leadership leading to close to 5,000,000 total infections, and, tragically and totally unnecessary, nearly 160,000 deaths, things are going pretty well for AGMA.

After living in a different city and state from our son and DIL since they were a “thing” and had kids, wondering how all of this togetherness was going to play out was sort of natural.

Comedy, tragedy, melodrama, tragicomedy, theater of the absurd…??

Adding to the concern was that our relationship has had it rocky patches over the years. Some very rocky patches. Like Rocky Mountain rocky patches!

If I was a betting woman (which I am!) I have a sneakin’ suspicion that son and DIL had the same concerns.

But due to AGMA’s diplomatic skills, charm, and easy going (WTF???) personality, not to mention the fact that the kids think Nana is the bomb because she risks her life in their bounce house, things have been going swimmingly.

My Boo will be in kindergarten this year. Thankfully Chicago Public Schools just recently announced that, for the first quarter at least, all learning will be virtual. No instruction in the human Petri dish called a school classroom.

It’s cute how some school districts (and businesses, restaurants, airlines, theme parks, etc) act like everything is okey dokey, back to normal, and have rolled out the red carpet for all comers.

Just adorable. If you’re the coronavirus.

Because Boo will be doing online learning, my DIL asked if I would be one of his curriculum coordinators.

Huh??

AGMA said yes, but I have no idea what that entails. I guess I’ll find out. Should I be worried?

But it will actually give me something to do. In between visits to TMWGCITW, activities in the AGMA Hobbit hole are few and far between. TV, social media, some reading. And it’s small and dark in there. And I’m together with Hubs almost 24/7.

Oh, the humanity!

So yes – I’d be HAPPY to be Boo’s “curriculum coordinator” if it gets me out of the cave!

One bright spot in a year full of huge spiders and venomous snakes is that professional cycling is back!!

OMG, there IS a God…

Those of you who’ve been reading AGMA for a spell know how much I LOVE men’s professional road cycling.

About 10 years ago, I found that the Tour de France was the “gateway race” to a late in life, absolute obsession with young men in spandex climbing mountains on bicycles with skinny wheels. And since it’s 2020, COVID sucks and I live in a “garden apartment”, AGMA’s gone all in with watching races on TV and online. I have subscriptions to 2 different streaming services that will be streaming different races.

AGMA was supposed to go to France last month to follow the last week of the Tour. Clearly that didn’t happen for multiple reasons. The Tour ended up not being cancelled, but postponed until 8/20. But since Americans aren’t allowed to basically travel anywhere in the WORLD because of the Orange Covidiot throwing up his tiny hands and saying “It is what it is.”, I’ll be staying in my Hobbit hole during the Tour. So AGMA figures that paying for a couple of subscriptions for streaming services is the least that I can do for myself!

‘Cause it’s really all about me…

AGMA hopes all of you are treating yourselves to some special things during this surreal apocalyptic year of 2020. Hopefully that doesn’t involve any controlled narcotic substances. Or alcohol.

Okay – maybe some alcohol.

Maybe more than some.

Stay safe my friends!

P.S. Did I say it’s sooooo good to be back??

Bill, James and the Tot

grace

Last week was crazy.

AGMA had to work all week (the horror!!) and then we went to visit the Grands on Friday.

Between those two things, and the fact that tRump is indeed President and that it was NOT a bad dream, I was exhausted.

But visiting the Grands is always fun even if visiting with their parents is less than fun.  Long story that you don’t want to hear…

AGMA’s hoping time will bring them around.  Again.

Things weren’t too good before and after B, the oldest, was born.  We didn’t feel very welcomed when we would visit and got served a lot of cold shoulder.  With no sauce.

But after V was born nearly 3 years ago, things got much, much better.  The reason why is a mystery, but we were encouraged to visit often.  And when we were there, we felt very loved and welcomed.

After years of being emotionally distanced by them, it felt like a fairy tale ending where everybody lives happily ever after.

But, how does that old saying go…nothing lasts forever?

Dammit.

I noticed the change starting when DIL was 6 months along with their 3rd.  The distance started creeping back in.

Then we were told that we could not be there for the birth or even afterwards for the foreseeable future to meet our new grandchild.

WTF??

“Ah oh,” AGMA thought,  “they be going crazy again just like they did after B was born.”

And yes indeed.  They have.

They did invite us up to meet TT two weeks after he was born, but the notice was so last minute that airfares were quite high.  So Hubs decided to stay home.  I was NOT going to miss meeting my new grandson so I pulled out the credit card, swallowed my pride and bought the $400 ticket.

Thought a miscommunication, we also booked a trip for both Hubs and I to come up this past weekend.  I don’t think our son or DIL wanted us there, but the tickets were bought…

And Hubs finally got to meet TT (8 weeks old now.)  He was TOTALLY smitten.  I mean, he’s even crustier than AGMA, and he was complete jelly around the little guy.  He must have taken 200 pictures of him.

I now believe in love at first sight.

Who knows how long he would have had to have waited before we got “approval” for a visit?

Our welcome was cool, but at this point, AGMA didn’t care.  I was over their cray cray.  I just wanted to see my grandkids.  And to make sure they know they are loved by their Nana and Bumpa.

During our visit, as I was lying on a couch with TT sleeping peacefully on my chest (OMG – does it get any better than that???),  I started praying for him.  I prayed that he would grow up to be a man like my recently departed friends, Bill and James.

Bill was a Deacon at my church.  I got to know him through volunteering for 2 years with our morning sandwich ministry.  AGMA’s church is in downtown Atlanta which has a massive homeless population.  Every Monday through Friday, we hand out bag lunches, bottles of water and cups of coffee to homeless men and women until 9:30 or until we run out.  I volunteered on Mondays.

Bill was in charge of this ministry and also the food pantry that gave out groceries to people in need.

Bill retired about 5 years ago.  What I didn’t know at the time was that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers.  He continued to attend church and try to sing in the choir until about 2 years ago.

He was a gentle man of great faith, and devotion to both God and his family.  He also had great compassion for “the least of these.”

He saw God in the needy and destitute rejected by society.

He passed away on August 9th at 70 due to complications from Alzheimers.

James really wasn’t a friend, but I felt like he was.  He was a monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, just outside of Atlanta.  He’d been a priest for 20 years before he decided to enter the Monastery in 1994.

AGMA started going to retreats at the Monastery in the mid-2000’s.  It’s in a beautiful setting and I loved interacting with the monks.  They are witty, intelligent, engaging individuals who have lots of outside interests.  I spoke with Fr. James a few times and loved his humor and down to earth attitude.

James was a photographer and a writer.  He published 6 books, two of which contain his photographs of scenes around the Monastery along with inspirational writings.  He also wrote for various publications like the Georgia Bulletin, the Living Faith devotional and the local newspaper to name a few.

AGMA knew that he was a man of great gentleness, humility, and faith though his photographs and his words.  He had the ability to turn something very ordinary into something sacred and extraordinary.

He saw God in the simple, commonplace things around him.

He passed away on August 15 at 71 due to complications from a lung biopsy.

And so I prayed for that tiny precious little boy sleeping peacefully on me, lulled by my heartbeat.  I prayed that Bill and James would intervene somehow to help him grow into a man who, like them, would be compassionate, loving, faithful and able to see the sacred and holy in the ordinary.  That he could see the divine in those marginalized by society.  That he would have a heart capable of great love, great kindness and great forgiveness.

And my resentment of the cray cray of his parents dissolved into prayers for their marriage, and their physical, mental and emotional health as they try to navigate life in these uncertain times with 3 little children.

Thanks Bill and James, for not only watching over my sweet TaterTot but for giving AGMA a much needed attitude adjustment.

I’m sure I’ll be talking to ya’ll again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Three year old wandering around in aisle 7”

Tantrum

AGMA had been home from her European mis-adventures for a whole two weeks.  So, it was time to go somewhere again last week.

Honestly, I can only stay put for so long…

This time it was Chicago where TMAGITW (the most adorable grandchildren in the world) live. We left 70 something degree Altanta to go to 30 something degree Chicago.

It’s true love.

But I was thinking of amending my acronym to TMAGITWAACTYO (the most adorable granddaughter in the world and a cute three year old) after the first part of our visit.

Our grandson is nothing but pure energy with some thin flesh coating. He just turned 3 in December so he’s still got some lingering ‘terrible 2’ issues. He’s got a strong personality/will, and more often than not, some tears, some screaming and a fit usually gets him what he wants from his parents.

I have nicknamed him Little Napoleon (LN.)

And it seemed like LN was not getting what he wanted quite a bit while we were there. Lots of crying and screaming and temper tantrums.

AGMA was clearly concerned about this behavior and it’s future ramifications.

More immediately, AGMA was concerned (read that, terrified) because Hubs and I were going to be the chief cooks and bottle washers for 24 hours while Son#1 and DIL did an mini-vacation downtown.

But I think my son started rethinking leaving the kids with us after I lost LN in Whole Foods the second day our our visit.

Yes – I lost my grandson in Whole Foods. In the middle of Chicago.

You may judge me.

I won’t go into detail, but there was a full 5 minutes when his whereabouts were unknown to all but the Creator.

AGMA was scared sh*tless.

So there I was running down the main aisle of WF screaming his name.

I found him on the far side of the store (or course) with some really nice store employees who kept telling me, “He’s fine, he’s fine. Everything’s okay.”

My heart started beating again.

There was also a woman around my age with a cart who was shooting daggers from her eyes at me like I was Bette Davis beating LN with a hanger. I think she was the one who found him wandering around. I tried thanking her, but she just glared at me.

She was definitely judging me.

On a positive note, the little guy managed to score a box of cookies during his wanderings. So of course I bought them for him.

And wouldn’t you know it, the first thing LN tells his mom when we get home is, “I got lost in Whole Foods.”

Dammit.

AGMA wanted to gradually introduce the subject. Perhaps in explaining the source of the cookies?

But my DIL was not too terribly upset (perhaps because he returned home with us and was not purloined away), and used what happened as a lesson for him as to what to do in the future if he wanders away.

AGMA was impressed by her lack of hysteria.

But later that night when Son#1 came home from work, oh boy…

I casually mentioned losing LN for a few minutes in WF. Son#1 seemed to have heard that LN was stolen by white slavers who were going to ship him off to an Ivanka Trump sweatshop to put zippers in dresses, and we barely wrestled him away from them.

Son#1 was furious. But in a quiet, seething, scary way. He really couldn’t say much when I willingly admitted my wrong, profusely apologized and assured him I would NEVER take my eyes off LN again. And I meant it all.

But the fury continued on slow simmer from him for the rest of the night.

Awkward…

BUT, he was not angry enough to cancel their stay-cation plans. Hmmm…

Now pressure was on. AGMA couldn’t screw up again or else…(???)

LN’s old enough to understand the concept of his parents going on a date, so when they left at 11 on Saturday morning he was okay with it.

My 16 month old granddaughter, just starting to talk, emitted a constant stream of, “Ma ma? Da da?” At which point LN gently and sweetly assured her that they were on a date and would return soon.

Yeah. Sure. Like in 23 hours.

But the truth is that we all had a wonderful time together!

There was very little crying and no fits or tantrums. From any of us.

LN and his sister didn’t fight over toys or take random whacks at each other. We played and we ate and we napped and we played some more.

It was like a frat party for toddlers.

Every time Son#1 texted, “How’s it going?” I had to text back, “Great!”

At some point that evening, we told LN that some dates are overnight dates, and that Mommy and Daddy would be back around lunchtime the next day. He was way cool with it. And amazingly well behaved.

Little V just kept saying, “Ma ma? Da da?” But she continued to play the heck out of those little flower stickers.

They both had moments when they freaked out a bit, but they were very short lived. And we all slept really well that night.

Thank God!

Overall, AGMA Nana and Bumpa did a stellar job. Other than the Whole Foods debacle.

I’m never going to live that one down.

Obviously, the kids were overjoyed when their parents came home on Sunday. But within 10 minutes there was crying, screaming and tantrum throwing. Which continued for the next hour. Both of them.

The kids that is.

Hmmm….

Who knows?

Maybe Hubs and AGMA are child whisperers. Maybe our lifetime experience in child rearing gives us an upper hand over relatively new parents. Or maybe somehow we managed to communicate firm but loving boundaries for the kids to operate in and they liked it.

Or all three?

And the good news is that we saw our grandson transform from LN back to TMAGITW.

Nice.

Blessed exhaustion

Tired

Yeah – that’s what I’m in store for this coming week.

As I write this, I’m, once again, partaking in one of AGMA’s favorite activities.

Not.

I’m flying the ‘friendly’ skies. More like flying the ‘you should feel humbled that we let your natty butt on this airplane at a ridiculous price for no service’ skies. As anybody who has flown in the past few years knows, it ain’t what it used to be.  But it’s a means to an end, so AGMA will put up with the poking, prodding, starving and herding.

Moo.

Destination – Chicago and the cutest grandchildren in the world (TCGITW).

A year ago, this journey was relatively inexpensive. With several discount carriers having recently entering the Atlanta market, we could fly round trip for around $125 per person. AGMA’s all time fabulous fare was $56 RT with no bags, no food, no drinks and a randomly assigned seat. Those were the good old days…

Then something happened.

I’m not sure what or exactly when it happened. But fares soared to $200+ RT. Even on the no service airlines, the cheapest fare you can get if you go on an odd numbered Tuesday in a month starting with ‘A’ in an even year is $176.

WTF?

For this trip AGMA used sky miles. Our next trip coming up in August is BOGO, but that still averaged out to $160+ a person. At this rate, I’m going to have to start using getting bumped from flights as a discount airfare strategy. Sadly, there were no calls for volunteers today.

AGMA is bracing herself for the week to come.

Just between you and I, I’m not sure I’ll survive.

Normally, a 3 day visit to TCGITW leaves me as tired as Donald Trump when he has to read words.  Any words.

Between going to bed late to spend some quiet time with my son and DIL, getting up early with my grandson so said son and DIL can sleep in, being a bucking bronco for said grandson, walking my granddaughter around to try to get her to sleep and lack of food because I’m too busy to eat, AGMA comes home exhausted.

Because Hubs had his mobility and balance issue, he can’t do any of the heavy lifting (literally) with TCGITW. But he can provide entertainment and a lap for reading and give a bottle. But even with his help, I still get pooped.

This trip will be 6 days. By myself. Because they are moving.

As James Brown said, “Have mercy!”

Hubs and I moved twice when our kids were tiny – 22 and 4 months and then again when they were 4 and 2.. And we had a dog and two cats. We fixed up/cleaned up our houses by ourselves to sell them. And kept them clean with the two munchkins causing the normal munchkin havoc until we sold them. When we moved, we did everything by ourselves – packing, moving the boxes, unpacking – other than moving the big pieces of furniture. I actually think some old neighbors helped us move our piano both times (which nobody really played…) in a UHaul because it was too expensive to have the movers do it. Money was tight. Money was always tight.

With no family in town or willing to come in to help, it was a two person show.

I honestly have no idea how we managed.

When my son & DIL put their condo up for sale, our DIL took TCGITW to her parents house for a week so the place would stay clean for showings. Cheaters. The Chicago real estate market is hot right now so they were counting on a quick sale. They were right. 3 offers for above asking price.

Crazy.

Now we come to moving week.

Thankfully, they have hired packers to pack their ‘stuff’. AGMA’s a master packer, but I’ll gladly abdicate that responsibility. But I still forsee early mornings and late nights, and nothing but kick ass busy in between. Probably with a few bronco rides thrown in.

Can I run a marathon instead? 26.2 miles is nothing compared to what the next 6 days will be like.

But I’m happy (maybe) to help them and so glad (sort of) that they took me up on my offer. “I’ll be glad to come up and help when it’s time to move.” I said.

Seriously?

AGMA was actually thinking of how wonderful it would have been to have family support for our young family. At any point in our lives when our kids were young, not just when we moved.  But it never happened. And while we managed okay, sometimes I wonder how different it might have been…

So I AM happy I can fly the mediocre skies to help them. And I’m very happy that my DIL’s family is a 3 hour car drive away. It makes for two sets of Nanas and Bumpas who, like good Baby Boomers, can’t do enough for their grandchildren and are delighted to help out.

This is all to say, if you don’t hear from AGMA for a few weeks, don’t get alarmed.

I’m just suffering from blessed exhaustion.

ZZZZzzzz….

UPDATE: It’s Tuesday now. As usual, when I got to TCGITW’s home, AGMA got caught up in the whirlwind. It’s been 48 hours since I wrote this post on the plane and this is the first time I’ve had 10 minutes to myself. Other than sleeping. And that’s a survival necessity, so I sleep as much and as often as I can. All is well, but AGMA can read the handwriting on the wall.

It’s gonna be one wild ride.

I repeat…

ZZZZzzzz….

V

big-apple

American Boomers, do you remember the old television show That Was The Week That Was? A 1960‘s precursor to the Saturday Night Live news segment, the show would take the news from the previous week and put a satirical, humorous spin on it. And back in the 60’s, there was a lot going on.

Like now.

But aside from the insanity, drama, joy and tragedy of our crazy world that has dominated the headlines in the past week, each one of us has our own personal story of the week’s insanity, drama, joy and tragedy.

At least that’s true for AGMA.

And for me, it’s been mostly joy. Immense joy.

I HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER!!

My strong, future President of a granddaughter, V, made her appearance 8 days early on October 30th – much to the delight of her mother who was pretty much over feeling like a whale… Weighing in at a decent 7 lbs 7 ozs, she is a carbon copy of her 22 month old brother when he was a newborn. This bodes well for her because he’s a cutie patootie.

But then AGAM’s hardly unbiased in these things.

And for all you Cubs fans – a World Series observation…

My little V was born last Sunday in Chicago to a household 10 blocks away from Wrigley Field. On that very day, the Cubs got a desperately needed win over the Indians to stay alive in the Series. On Tuesday, the Cubs won again to even the Series. And of course, we all know what happened on Wednesday…

Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win!

Coincidence that the Cubs did nothing but win after V was born? AGMA doesn’t think so…

You can thank me later Cubs fans.

I get to meet V on Monday.  I can’t wait to make her acquaintance! And see her big brother again who charms the socks off of me.

In the meantime, AGMA has just a little task to accomplish between now and Monday.

I’m at 12,000 feet right now as I write this, winging my way to the city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. The jewel of the Empire State.  Home of Jerry Seinfeld.

New York City.

It’s been 17 years since I’ve been to New York City, and that was a quick 24 hour in and out to take my son, V’s daddy, on a college visit. The last time I spent more than a day in NYC was in 1976.

I’m betting things have changed since then.

But AGMA’s going to do it up right this time and visit all 5 Burroughs. The hard way.

God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 49,999 of my closest friends and I will be running in the New York City Marathon on Sunday.

Pray for me…

Because I’m slow and in the last corral to take off, and we set our clocks back on Saturday night, if I finish, it will be 5:30 PMish and dark. The first wave of runners will have already finished, showered and had a meal even before I even start running.

WTF?

But that’s okay. I think it’s going to be one huge party, and AGMA’s always loved a party! And because I’m slow, I just get to enjoy it longer.

And on Monday morning, I’ll hobble onto a plane to meet the first of the next generation of strong women in my family, my sweet V.

And when history is made the next day, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, and a woman is elected President of the already great United States of America, you’ll ask, “Coincidence?”

I don’t think so…