Glorious Spring has Sprung!

The birds are making nests in every nook and cranny in our house;the chimney with it’s lousy bird cage (that they can still squeeze into…), the beams under the porch, the gutter elbows of the down spouts. Get lost birdies!

My peonies and daisies have peaked their heads through the thick clay of my yard (miracle!), my hostas have shoved past the rocks in the front flower bed and sprouted, my hydrangea, azalea and roses are all showing signs of life. New this year are some giant allium in purple and white and about 150/200 yellow and red fluffy petal tulips! It’s a reminder to myself that I should really invest in fall bulbs, even though at the time it’s so blah to think of planting them. The spring payoff is totally worth it. Now if only my back flower bed would show some signs of life…I’m a little worried about it.

The Nevil Crew is in serious work mode around here lately. We have a few big projects underway right now in the yard. Specifically speaking, we had a giant truck load of top soil brought in a few weeks ago. We are filling in and grading the back yard where there was once an above-ground pool. It’s grueling work loading the dirt one wheel-barrow at a time and dumping it in the back, then repeating. Our kind new neighbors lent us their wheelbarrow so that I could at least get a faster assembly line going. I filled them full of dirt and Jeremy rolled them and dumped them in the back while I filled the next load. SHEW! All this rain we’ve had in St. Louis has put a big damper on our work. We are hoping for a few dry weekends so we can get it all down and off the driveway! Then it can rain and feed the grass seed we’ll have down.

Additionally, we are taking bids for finally painting the house. That’s even more exciting (for me) than the yard renovation! We are pouring some serious blood, sweat, tears and cash into this house. If it wasn’t so much fun I’d just buy a perfect house. But it’s seriously fun. Our goal is to be “done” with the major projects within the next year or two so that we can just enjoy it for a while. Who knows after that!

I’ve been very busy lately with my little munchkins and managing things at home. I’m grateful everyday for the opportunity to be here and challenged by how much it takes to not just be physically present with your family but mentally and emotionally present as well. Too many times I’m looking down at my phone, answering text messages and emails when my family is right there needing me.

Jeremy and I have declared 2014 as the year of the Active Nevil Family. (Not that we weren’t active before.) We’ve decided to be highly intentional about going out into nature and enjoying it as a family. This weekend Jeremy is scouting out a big sale at the Alpine Shop to see if he can snag a good deal on bikes for us. We are so close to the Katy Trail that it seems like such a shame not to take advantage of it. (click that link to learn more about the Katy Trail in MO!) With the addition of our crazy dog we’ve also felt the need to be more active so that he gets the exercise that he needs too.

This fall, Jeremy will be running a marathon! He signed up for the Rock n Roll marathon going on in October. I’m so proud of him for signing up for this big commitment and I tell him all the time that I would have nightmares about a task so daunting. He is either really great about hiding it or really confidant! (We’ll go with confidant) In June, Jeremy will finally have his long-worked for BS in Business! It has been a long journey getting to this point. He is very happy at his new job and we are all very happy with how close he is to home. I’ve said many times that it has revolutionized our family life and already brought us a lot of joy. There’s not much better than seeing your husband happy at his job and good at it!

There are only about 6 weeks of the school year left and both the kids and me are really happy about this mile marker. For one, Chase is finally old enough to go to VBS with Cooper. The promise of him going to Kindergarten in the fall is really exciting too. The staff at the school have been so excited for 2 whole years as they’ve waited for Chase to join the ranks of Sammy the Sting Ray proud kiddos. He is totally pumped about going to school with his big brother. Cecelia and I are excited for whatever that means for us too, though we don’t even know what we’ll do with each other all day long. (I mean, other than have lots of fun!)

2014 is such a big year. We are excited for all that is ahead and we are putting ourselves in some new positions that are stretching us physically, emotionally and spiritually. I’m so grateful for all that has happened in just the 4 short months we’ve had so far. The last few years have been hard work. The peace that we feel is gratefully received.

Chase

Piggy time

Tiff gardening

dump truck 2

dump truck

floating shelves

quiet boy time

pooped pooch

beauty

Cooper stick carving

faithful dog

 

And Then We Got a Dog…

Jeremy and I have been married for 12 years this July (HOLY SMOKES PEOPLE!). We haven’t owned a pet together in about 7/8 years.  (We had a cat early on in our marriage, but that’s another, less pleasant story.) Jeremy has been longing for a dog for pretty much all 12 years of our marriage. What’s the hold up you ask? That would be me.

Hi.

I could give you 20 reasons at any given moment not to own a dog. I’m fairly certain that once a year (at least) that list needed to be recited to my dog-loving man. Isn’t that a sad little story? A wife keeping a man from his dream of a dog? Horrid stuff. (wink)

But then, 3 years ago, we settled back “home”. We put down roots for an infinite amount of time, bought a major “fixer-upper” house that we are still fixin’ up three years later-and probably still will be fixing for at least 5 more years…

Did I mention we also have a minivan, we live in the suburbs, I’m a stay at home mom and we have three kids?

People. Clearly this picture is incomplete. <sarcasm>

Do I at least get a pat on the back for holding out for 12 whole years?

Here’s how it all started. The height of Jeremy’s doggy love peaked the Christmas of ’12. We had a baby girl and two boys and he wanted SO. BADLY. to surprise all the kids with a puppy on Christmas morning. When I say “so badly” what I mean is that the man would sit and watch a half hour of nothing but YouTube videos of people surprising their families with puppies for Christmas. CONSTANTLY. For weeks on end. It was a serious puppy epidemic.

Then the big kid started asking when we would get a dog. Because let’s face it, they started watching the videos over Jeremy’s shoulder too.

I made a few stipulations to this request by the Nevil men:
-backyard must be fixed
-baby must be older (like 2)
-don’t want to get a puppy in winter-more like summer time

I got 1/3.

But I blame the steal of a deal advertised at our local shelter! They were doing $14 adoptions and it spurred us to “just look” at their website. Everyone fell in love with this darling little German Shepherd mix named Rosedale (whose name we would definitely change to Rosie!). We seriously were getting ready to hop in the car, go down to the shelter and adopt her when we called them just to make sure she really was still there.

Nope. Adopted.

All the men were crushed. (I was awesome.)

So in order to cheer them up, we went to the Humane Society here in town. I didn’t like any of the dogs we saw. I was being picky because I knew that this was going to fall on me day-in and day-out to take care of the dog. (Plus we have people over to the house all the time and I didn’t want to be embarrassed about my dog.) I didn’t want a dog that I wasn’t seriously in love with. Because frankly, another mouth to feed and mess to clean up after is not so fun if there isn’t some love there.

We left empty handed. (I was still awesome.)

All the men were still crushed.

The next day, I was taking my usual Sunday nap when Jeremy found a dog at the Humane Society right next to his office. It was a cute Redbone Coonhound named “Arnie”. He fell in love and called to make sure he was still there and adoptable. Yup and  yup.

So he dashed (in the snow) to visit the dog all by himself. He knew my requirement list (*see note at end of this post). He came home convinced that this was the dog for our family. He even put a deposit/hold on the dog. The next day I took all the kids to visit Arnie after school. We all fell in love very quickly. He clearly met all my criterion and I really liked him! We waited a few more days to get all the paraphernalia we would need for him and then brought him home on Wednesday, February 12.

We did so much research about adopting a dog and I’m glad we did. The first few days were rough. Truly, I feel like he is still coming out of his shell and really showing his true colors. He is an A-Mazing dog. We just adore him!

Arnie 2014

Arnie 2014-2

Arnie and Jeremy Feb 2014

And clearly, the man who had puppy-i-tus the worst is the one who might love the dog the most! I think that is how it should be.  In fact, we’ve all agreed that Arnie gets to be in our family pictures in the next round.

Tiffany’s Requirements for a Pooch:

1.) No yippy little dogs
2.) Interested in the kids (meaning will look at them, smell/investigate them and maybe even wag it’s tail at them. Definitely not be afraid/too afraid of them)
3.) Not hyper. Chill. Mellow. Nothing that goes wild with excitement.
4.) Potty trained/house broken
5.) knows some basic commands and maybe even has some decent doggie manners

How Arnie met and exceeded each Requirement:

1.) He does bark but seldom and not without a great reason.
2.) He loves the kids. The baby, well he tolerates her exceedingly well and I can’t say I blame him for not loving her yet. I’ve yet to hear him growl at her or warn her he is unhappy in any way. He usually just walks away from her or looks at us with eyes that say “make her stop please”. She pokes him (we correct her), she lays on him when he is sleeping (we correct her), she walks around saying “hug, hug, hug” and wraps her arms around his neck. She adores him and she is kind of annoying. But the boys are perfect for him. They want nothing more than to go out in the back yard to run and play with him. He loves to play fetch with balls, sticks, toys etc. And man can that dog run! He looks like a reindeer!
3.) He is not hyper at all. He is mellow and chill. He does get excited but it is very short lived and even that is very much within reason. The first few days he peed when we walked into the room because he was so happy. Thankfully, that stopped by day 3.
4.) Ok, he needed help with this one. The biggest issue is his separation anxiety he has. He flips out when we are gone and we have him in his kennel. He is Harry Houdini of kennel escapes too. We’ve finally figured out how to keep him in there. If he breaks out, he pees and usually poops in the unfinished part of the basement where we have him. I’m not a fan of that. But now that he can’t get out of his kennel (insert maniacal laugh), he isn’t doing that anymore. And seriously, I’m not gone for more than 3 hours any given day anyway! He’s getting over it. We only had 3 “official” accidents on the carpet. Miscommunications between us and him every time.
5.) He knows, sit, come, down/off, and no. And he has some interesting doggie manners. He only does his business outside on the perimeter of the fence in the back yard. He has yet to relieve himself anywhere in the middle of the yard. I love this with the kids running all around back there! He also is a champ at walking on a leash and loves treats. (Especially cheese sticks and cheezits.)

We still think he could use some obedience training and we are working with him on some things we want him to do that he doesn’t know yet. I’m learning a lot about life with a dog-it is definitely a different thing than I am used to. But it has been so great! We are very happy with our new buddy. I think I’ll put a bow on him this Christmas just to remind my hubby of his special gift.