Category Archives: Life

Summertime Shenanigans

Long time, no updates from me. Sorry. But I’ve been busy. I mean really busy.

As I mentioned in my last post (which, yikes!, was over a year ago), The Boy and I bought a house together in 2015. In addition to settling in, we’ve kept ourselves busy painting all but one room and the upstairs hallway, building a storage shelf in the garage, replacing an exterior door, installing a storm door, and having the most decorated holiday house/yard on the street. You’d think we take the summer to relax and enjoy some free time. But no. Instead we took on more than we probably should have. Way more.

On March 27 (count ‘em, that’s nearly eight months ago), we started our backyard transformation by cleaning up a part of the yard where I originally intended to put my garden. Long story short, that’s not where my garden ended up because of sunlight, but the area needed cleaned up—and so began our never-ending battle with rock.

initial-garden-area

 

Due to my schedule and the weather, we didn’t actually install my garden until mid-April. We used a temporary fence until my schedule freed up more and we could build and install a custom fence for the garden. Doesn’t it just look so cute? (Please note that between the bottom two pictures the aforementioned rock has been added between the garden bed and the fence.)

Andrea's garden

 

After the garden, we turned our attention (1) expanding our pond, (2) improving and expanding our patio, and (3) cleaning up and dealing with all the river rock used in the existing landscaping, which much to our disdain and almost demise, turned out to be very poorly installed. Now don’t let me lead you astray. We fully intended to do the pond expansion this summer because the pond had really become a hobby of The Boy’s and the existing pond left something to be desired. (Though let me tell you, I likely wouldn’t have agreed to such a project if I could have conceptualized what The Boy had in mind…) The patio project, however, was a bit of an afterthought. At first we thought we were going to do a deck, but the existing concrete really threw a wrench in our plans. So, on a last minute whim (and by that I mean there was a both a major sale and an 11% sale at Menards), we designed our patio and placed a gigantic order.

On July 12, our order was delivered to our house. All 18 pallets of it. For better or for worse, it was officially too late to turn back…

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On November 12 (count ‘em, that’s four months since the delivery), I was able to take decent after photos of the pond and patio.

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As much as it pains me to say it, neither of these projects are 100% done. Rather they are “done enough,” in that we can’t do the finishing touches with winter right around the corner. The pond needs edge treatments, like plants and landscaping, and we need to work on the transition between the patio and yard. Comparatively, these finishing touches are small tasks, but nevertheless require us to revisit our projects in the spring.

Additionally, (because why wouldn’t there be more?), after the garden but before the pond and patio, I applied for and received a sustainable landscapes grant from the City of Lincoln. Through the grant, homeowners receive a 50% cost-share to incorporate sustainable landscaping into their properties. I chose to do rain barrels and a rain garden. We installed the rain barrel system ourselves, but worked with Finke Gardens for the design and installation of the rain garden. Any other year, I might have been tempted to install the rain garden myself, but by the time we had the rain garden installed the first week in October, I had already had my fair share of dirt for the summer. Plus, as easy as it might seem to install a rain garden, this summer’s work taught me that all landscaping tasks are harder and take longer than you think. Needless to say, coming home to a finished project that I didn’t have to do was a much welcome feeling.

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rain-garden-2016

So there you have it: a garden, cleanup of existing landscaping, a pond, a patio, a rain barrel system, and a rain garden. All in 230 days.

In hindsight, it might have been a better idea to do the pond this year and the patio next year, but we managed to pull it off—thanks to some awesome help (namely The Boy’s dad), fantastically warm fall weather, and lots of painkillers and patience. As you might imagine, there were many times in the midst of these projects we wanted to quit. (In fact, there was even one day that I really lost my cool and threw a rubber mallet across the yard—it wasn’t pretty but I should get some bonus points for consciously avoiding the fence.) Thankfully, though, the few bad days that each of us had never fell on the same day, so one of us was able to pull the other one along so we could make progress.

Now that I’m safely in the done or very-close-to-done stage of these projects, I can honestly say it was worth the time, effort, and money. We really do have a whole new backyard. I can’t wait until next summer when we can actually enjoy it.

P.S. I promise to follow up with more photos details about the garden, pond, and patio.

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My new adventure

Six months ago I embarked on a new adventure: I started a new marketing job with an engineering firm.

This company appealed to me from the beginning. Its website was creative and, as much as I hate to say this, “hip” for the industry. And, the company boasted a reputation of valuing people, employees and clients alike.

The interview process also intrigued me. After submitting my application, I was asked for a coffee meeting with the man who would soon become my supervisor. During the coffee meeting,  I learned more about the position and the company, and my soon-to-be supervisor learned more about me. At the end of the meeting, I’m pretty sure both of us knew that this job would soon be mine.

A couple weeks later, I was formally interviewed. For three hours. By seven people, including the firm’s CEO. I was also given a “homework” writing assignment.

Despite not knowing how to prepare for a three-hour interview, I wasn’t nervous. I was curious to see if the people interviewing me would live up to the good things my soon-to-be supervisor said about them during our coffee. And they did.

I was smiling when I drove home from my interview — I never would have imagined an interview would be that enjoyable. Everything about this company was unique and genuine. As I reflected on my interview, I was certain this company was too good to be true; but if it was true, I definitely wanted to be part of it.

The next day, just a few short hours after submitting my writing assignment, I received a job offer — an offer I was anxious to accept.

I am not entirely certain I even knew about this firm before seeing the job listing, but as soon as I started sharing my new-job news, people came out of the woodwork. It seemed everyone had a connection to the firm, and still, people only had positive words to say about the firm and it people.

welcome packageOn my first day, I received a welcome package. The package included some goodies for me, like Dr. Pepper and gummy worms; but more importantly, the package included some goodies for Miss Mocha Jo. This small gesture further solidified my decision to work for this company.

Six months into my job, I’m comfortably settled in, but I am still in awe. I still feel like the company is too good to be true; it is as if I have yet to discover the closet full of dirty laundry. While I have found a few dirty socks along the way, I am starting to accept that this closet doesn’t exist.

Above all, the people at this company are fantastic. I’ve always been lucky enough to have great coworkers, but since that first coffee meeting through my six-month anniversary with the firm, I’m confident I found “my people.”

Six months ago was my first day at this company, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be.

Furever Family Day

Today is an extra special day for The Boy and I: it’s Mocha Jo’s Furever Family Day.

One year ago, we adopted our little Mocha Jo, and all three of our lives were forever changed. To celebrate, we had a party, complete with a made-for-dogs peanut butter cake.

cake

We also had party hats, which Mocha Jo wasn’t exactly a fan of.

party girl

At least not until her dad showed her that cool kids wear party hats.

mocha and her dad

But more importantly, there was cake and ice cream, which Mocha Jo was a fan of.

cake and ice cream

Mocha eating

It’s hard to believe it has been a whole year since we brought her home, but it’s been a great year. The Boy and I really couldn’t have adopted a better dog. She is the sweetest and most humble dog you’ll ever meet.

It makes my heart happy that The Boy and I could give this once stray dog a better life. Between her parents (who are clearly wrapped around her paw) and her ever-doting aunts and uncles, two sets of grandparents , and all her friends (seriously, she has more of a social calendar than I do…), Mocha Jo’s life is now full of love.

She’s certainly gotten the happily ever after she deserves.

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The end of a season

For the past two weeks, I have been jazzed to give my 14-year-old volleyball girls their end-of-the-season gift. It is common for me to be excited about unveiling my end-of-the-season gift, simply because I give my team pretty unique gifts, but this year I was more excited than usual.

Last year, I was pretty ding-dang-dong impressed with my gift from last year (which I just now realized I never blogged about…), but this year, I outdid myself.

This year, I used my graphic design skills to create a 12×36” team poster for my team.

illusion

And I tell you what, the looks on the girls’ and their parents’ faces were priceless. Their reactions made the time and effort I put into this project totally worth it.

Because of how awesome my gift was, I went to my volleyball club’s award night this past weekend convinced I would win the “best coaches gift” award (a completely non-existent award I was going to award to myself after I confirmed I did in fact have the best team gift). While I am still certain I would have won this award, should it actually exist, my club awarded me something better: coach of the year.

While I am excited and honored to be named coach of the year by my club, the award took me by complete surprise. Since I was so wrapped up in a make-believe award that I was going to award myself later, I completely forgot my club even named a coach of the year. So, as the director was leading into the award, I started trying to guess who of the coaches I know would win it.

Then the club director said “Andrea” –  to which my mind immediately jumped to the other Andrea who coaches for our club.

But then, the director said “Gebhart” – to which my immediate response was “oh?!” (Seriously, you can even ask the girls that were sitting next to me.)

As 400-some people started clapping for me and looking in my general direction, it dawned on me that I won an award, an award that was not a figment of my own imaginative yet somewhat narcissistic imagination. I made my way up to the front and as the director said some nice things about me, I stood there, looked at all the familiar faces in the crowd, and thought how lucky I am to be part of such a great club.

I have coached for Nebraska ONE for five seasons (I think?!?), and I cannot even begin to imagine coaching elsewhere. The players are fantastic, the players’ families are amazing, the other coaches are incredible, and the directors are supportive. This club is also a continual reminder of the reason I love volleyball: the family that comes with it. Nebraska ONE truly has become part of my Nebraska family.

So, while I went to our awards night ready to give myself my own make-believe award, I left humbled and grateful.

After having a successful season, designing an epic team gift, and being named coach of the year, I’d have to say it was a dang good season!

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Mocha Jo Rescue Day

Today is a special day in my house.

Today is Miss Mocha Jo’s Rescue Day.

One year ago today, during a bout of particularly cold winter weather, Kathy from K9 Coach Learning Center opened both her home and her heart to our little Mocha Jo.

Mocha Jo rescue

Like last year, today is a winter weathery kind of day. A few inches of snow have already fallen, the wind chill is in the negatives, schools and offices are closed, and we’re expected to get several more inches of snow over the next 24 hours.

While Mocha and I did venture out in the winter weather for a quick trip to the dog park, it made my heart happy knowing that she is comfortably on the other side of the winter weather this year. Actually, she’s very comfortable this time around…

mocha jo cozy

In addition to a trip to the dog park, Mocha Jo also got a special rescue day treat.

rescue day treat

As I mentioned before, The Boy and I don’t know all the details of Miss Mocha Jo before Kathy brought her in (and maybe it’s best we don’t know), but it’s a bit of a sore spot that we don’t know her actual birthday. However, between The Boy’s and my early February birthdays, it’s only appropriate that Mocha’s rescue anniversary allows her to have an early February celebration, too.

Meet Mocha Jo

I’ve only known her for two weeks and I have only spent a few days with her, but I have a new best friend: Mocha Jo.

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Mocha is a shelter dog—a stray rescued during the dead of winter. I first heard about her back in February. My friend told me about her because she knew (1) my planned moved at the end of May was going to allow me to get a dog (finally!), and (2) I had my heart set on either a St. Bernard or a chocolate lab. Casually mentioning that a shelter in her hometown had recently rescued a chocolate lab, my friend showed me photos of said dog. I immediately swooned over her; but my heart broke because it was only February and I had to wait three months before I could seriously start looking for a dog.

Throughout the next few months, my friend kept me posted on the status of the rescued chocolate lab. Despite her amiable demeanor and gorgeous puppy-dog face, no one had adopted her. How could this be? Who could say no to a dog like her? Even though I wanted this dog to have a good home, I was secretly glad she was still available for adoption because then I had a chance with her.

Finally, the middle of May arrived. With my move date rapidly approaching, my friend (who knows the shelter owner) helped set up a time to for me and The Boy to meet the chocolate lab.

When my friend called the shelter, she found out that the chocolate lab had been adopted a couple days before. My heart broke again. I was about fourteen days from being able to claim her as mine and she was snatched right out from under me. But, my friend had good news for me. There was a good possibility that the chocolate lab was going to be surrendered back to the shelter because the couple that adopted her wasn’t on the same page in what kind of dog (if any) they wanted. Thankfully for me (and eventually the chocolate lab), the adoption did fall through. A couple of days later, The Boy and I journeyed to York, Nebraska to meet the chocolate lab.

IMG_20130524_185157_950_croppedThe second I saw her, I knew she would be mine. Given that I grew up with an incredibly large chocolate lab, she was a lot smaller than I expected—but I knew she would fit right in with my family’s dogs, who are both also on the smaller side of their respective breeds. It also helped that the chocolate lab was playing with a small puppy during our visit. The two of them were so cute together. In fact, I kind of wanted to bring both of them home.

Then I heard the chocolate lab’s story. Having been rescued near Champion Homes, the chocolate lab’s name was Champ. In February, a woman called the shelter about a stray dog. This woman expressed great concern for the dog because February was a particularly cold month this past winter. Sharing this woman’s concern, the shelter immediately began trying to catch the stray. However, the stray chocolate lab was pretty sly and evaded several attempts. The shelter eventually caught her, having resorted to a strategy involving a large trap cage and fried chicken. From the chocolate lab’s condition, it looked as though she’d been on her own for a while or someone had treated her pretty badly (I did not like the thought of either scenario!). She had several injuries, including a pretty bad tear on her ear; but with some loving care provided by the shelter and its partnering vet, the chocolate lab named Champ recovered nicely.

Her story made my heart sad, but I knew I could give her the happy ending she deserved.

So, there I was head over heels for this chocolate lab. My friend was also sold on me adopting the chocolate lab. But, then there was The Boy. Even though he knew he didn’t have much say in the matter, I mean, um … because it was a joint decision, he knew I was looking for his approval. He knew the chocolate lab was going home with us, but he wanted to milk the few minutes I anxiously waited for his answer. After tormenting me for a few minutes, he came to his senses and agreed this chocolate lab was “the one.”

Unfortunately, I was still about ten days from being able to take her home with me. I was a little concerned that the shelter would not want to hold her for a couple more weeks (mostly because she’d already been there for nearly three months), but the shelter was not only willing to hold her, the owner also arranged for the chocolate lab to be spayed during that time so we would have one less “new dog task” to deal with.

The next two weeks seemed to take forever. Not only was I in the process of moving, I was eagerly waiting for the day I could give this dog a real home.

Last Thursday, finally, The Boy and I journeyed back to York to bring our chocolate lab home. We decided to rename her Mocha Jo because although she is a chocolate lab mutt, she looks like a black lab in certain light—she is a dark chocolate lab, if you will. And to top it off, the white patch on her chest is like a little bit of whipped topping (pun intended).

The Boy and I weren’t sure how she would handle the forty five minute drive home, but Mocha was phenomenal. She snoozed the whole way.

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We have had Mocha for three days now and we are convinced could not have found a more perfect dog. No accidents. No random chewed up objects. No excessive barking. In fact, it is almost unsettling how perfect Mocha is—not many new dog owners can say the first 72 hours were a breeze. Rather than pushing her limits and testing our patience, Mocha is proving to be a sweet and calm dog that appreciates a good home—a home in which she’s making herself quite comfortable.

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I must admit that a large part of our new dog success (i.e. no accidents) is due to Kathy, the owner of K9 Coach Learning Center in York, Nebraska. In the three months Mocha was at the shelter, Kathy and her staff trained Mocha. Among other things, Mocha knows how to sit, lie down, shake, heel, fetch and walk on a loose leash. Kathy also kennel trained and house trained Mocha.

I barely know Kathy, but I am forever indebted to her. Not only did she rescue my Mocha from the freezing cold, she also gave us the perfect dog by taking the time to care for, train and love a stray dog.

The Boy and I absolutely love Mocha, and based on the hugs (a trick nurtured by Kathy) and kisses we get, Mocha loves us too. We may only be three days into our relationship, but I’m thinking Mocha’s story will end with a happily ever after.

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