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A New Year. A New Reality.

GrandmaAfter the Chrismukkah decorations have been packed away, the long-distance relatives have come and gone, and the New Year has begun, I like getting back to a routine and some normalcy. But this year, my normal routine has shifted dramatically.

Some of it’s wonderful, like the evolving routine I have established with “E”, my nearly 3 month old baby boy. And some of it’s bad. My 93 year old grandma passed away suddenly on December 5th. Due to her worsening eyesight over the years, we had a monthly routine where I would help her with errands, pay her bills, and read letters out loud from her many friends and family. For nearly 4 years, I looked forward to those visits where it was just the two of us and the Monkey, who would run around her house and inspect relics such her 8-track tape player and bubble-gum pink rotary phone. My grandma and I would chat about her childhood growing up on a farm, the 5th of 13 children. She would talk about how, after she trained to become a nurse, she left her homestead in North Dakota and took a train to California for work. She joined the military to nurse injured soldiers back to health during World War II and became a 2nd Lieutenant. She worked until she was 70 years old, all the while supporting her three kids after my grandfather had a stroke. Her story was fascinating to me and she was a huge influence and inspiration for my own path in life.  Despite her old age, her death was a shock. Only 2 weeks earlier I was with her in her small yellow kitchen as she helped my Aunt and Mom prepare vegetable soup and cornbread.

I started 2011 without my paternal grandparents since both of them died in 2010.  And now I start this year without any of my grandparents.  I know I’m very lucky to have had such positive and incredible grandparents in my life for 34-35 years. My new reality begins without them, but they will always be seared in my heart and remain in my wistful memories.

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Becoming a Dog Person



We had a few dogs growing up but they weren’t really mine. They belonged to my mom. One dog died when I was very little and two others came into our lives when I was a teenager and rarely home long enough to spend much time with them. I have no memory of cleaning up after them, feeding them, or taking them to the vet. That was all on my mom. While I was away at college, my mom had to give up her dog because she was moving. Although I felt sad for her, it didn’t really faze me at all.

When I met the Dude, he often talked about his family dogs. He treated all of his dogs like they were his siblings and, whenever a dog passed away, it was devastating for the entire family. I was moved by their dog stories, but I didn’t really get it. However,  the Dude and his family loved their dogs and I knew that to be married into this family meant having a dog of our own one day.  It took me a while to get used to that idea.

I really did like dogs, but I didn’t necessarily like the idea of one living with me. They shed, they bark, they drool, they chew and, in general, they’re a big responsibility. Plus, we were living in a San Francisco apartment and I didn’t want a dog living in such a cramped space without a backyard. Then we had our Monkey and there was no way I was going to take on a new dog with an infant in the apartment.

By the time the Monkey turned 2 and we had already moved into a house, I finally came around to the idea that a dog would be a good idea. I had no doubt that a dog to grow up with would be an incredible experience for our kid. But when a few rescue agencies did their home inspection and informed us that it would take a long time to place a dog with us because of our toddler, I began to lose interest again. Yet, over the course of the next year, it became more and more evident that the Monkey loved dogs. He was fascinated by them. I could no longer refuse my kid the opportunity to grow up with his own dog. (continues…)

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Our New Addition

It’s been a busy week and a half at the House of AYMB – our family adopted an 8 week old Portuguese Water Dog!

As I wrote in a post back in June, we’ve been wanting a dog for a long time but needed to find the right breed for our family. We found him.

Our new dog is named Noah and the Dude and I fell in love with him right away. He is cute, cuddly, sweet, intelligent, and has a great temperament. He also doesn’t shed, which is a huge bonus. However, as fun and playful and sweet Noah is, it’s been a big adjustment for all of us.  Noah is every inch a puppy – he likes to chew, jump up on people, isn’t totally housebroken, wakes up in the middle of the night, and doesn’t understand commands. We’re watching a lot of the “Dog Whisperer” these days.

Bringing a puppy home is challenging. People told me that it would be difficult but, just like parenthood, you don’t fully understand the demands until you actually live it. Like parenthood, puppyhood has tested me in every way. But what I’ve quickly learned is that, just like parenthood, it’s an awesome way to live and worth every challenge.

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Goodbye Fall, Hello “Winter”

Winter is almost here.

OK, let’s be honest. It doesn’t actually get *wintry* in my area of SoCal. Sure, many leaves have fallen and some trees will soon be bare. But the palm trees will still sway in all their glory, although they may be lit up with holiday lights. The days will be a lot cooler but the sun will mostly be shining. Some people will even hit the beach on Christmas Day and frozen yogurt shops will still be bustling through the next few months. A winter wonderland, it is not.

I sometimes wish for snow this time of year, although I’m sure people in the Midwest and East Coast are telling me to watch what I wish for right about now. We have to travel to find snow, which is the plan this winter for the Monkey’s first ski trip. The Monkey has only seen snow once, if you count a winter trip to Yosemite at 4 months old. I’m counting down the days until he will play in the snow for the first time, an experience I’m sure he will enjoy. And after a few days of building snowpeople in the brisk cold, trying to ski (that would be me), and numbing of our fingers, noses, and toes, we’ll return to the sunny SoCal *winter* where people put on a coat and scarf when it reaches 60 degrees.

So, goodbye Fall (whatever that means here in SoCal). Here’s one last leaf to remember you by.


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Happy, Merry Chrismukkah!

IMG_0052As a Cashew, I grew up with Christmas and Hanukkah, otherwise known as Chrismukkah. Yes, I was one of those lucky brats that was extra spoiled come December. Needless to say, it was also confusing about what exactly I was supposed to be celebrating. But I always knew that presents and good food were involved which was, and still is, good enough reason for me.

These days, I only celebrate Hanukkah but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Christmas. I love the lights, the scent of fresh pine, and the music. The Charlie Brown/Vince Gauraldi Christmas album does it for me every time. I decorate our home with blue, white, and silver but I like to throw a dash of Christmas in there to honor my Christmas past. We don’t get a tree, but I love having a fresh pine garland nestled on the mantle under the menorah. And of, course, we have to have our Hanukkah stockings hanging above the fireplace.  On Christmas Day, I fill them with little presents. Santa might not come to our house, but Hanukkah Harry pays a visit!

The Monkey will know Christmas since half of my family celebrates the holiday.  He will go to his grandma’s house on the 25th and open presents and sing carols. We will drive around to see the holiday lights and make a gingerbread house and Christmas cookies. Maybe we’ll even leave a few out for Harry. It’s the little things that I loved as a child during Christmas that I plan to incorporate into our own holiday traditions. Hanukkah, sprinkled with a touch of Christmas, will be something that I hope he looks forward to every December. Just like I do.

How do you celebrate the holidays? What type of traditions do you plan to pass on to your kids? Would love to hear from you.

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