Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Making the Most of It

I had about 4 weeks (now 3 weeks) in between summer and fall classes, so I decided to make the most of it. Here is a photo diary of our first week together. Starting on Wednesday of last week, my last day of classes, we decided to have a pizza picnic on the living room floor (daddy had to work late so it was just me and kiddos).

Walter enjoying his slice of pie.

On Thursday of last week we went to a different park than our usual ones.

Trying to get some shade in a shelter house. Snacks and cool water.

On Friday I ventured to the neighborhood pool with the three kids. Somehow, for most of the 2 hours we were there, we had the pool to ourselves. Very fun.

Later that same day, Friday, at nap time. When I woke up, these two cuddle bugs were lying on each side of me. I love these moments.

Friday crafts after nap I had saved their McDonald's chocolate milk cartons and we decorated them with stickers and markers.

Sunday, after church, yet another park.

I took the older two grocery shopping with me on Sunday too. While I was putting away the fridge and freezer items, Gus and Hazel built a castle with the pantry items.

 Take two.

Monday I made two treasure hunts, per Gus' request, around the house.

X marks the spot.

Monday night breakfast for supper.

Just an adorable little lady. I didn't get pics, but shortly after this Josh and I played dress up and Chutes and Ladders with the older two.

Tuesday, earlier today, a scavenger hunt in the backyard.

Finding items to mark off the list.

I'm running out of ideas- message me some of your best, and affordable, activities to entertain these three over the next two weeks!!! Alright, gotta get a screaming child out of time out. Maybe I should snap a photo of that? ;)

Color Storm 5K

This past weekend I ran my second official 5K, the Color Storm. It was a pretty fun race (even though it actually only ended up being 2.7 miles instead of 3.1 which was frustrating for those of us runners who were trying to beat previous times). In the words of my running Rockford friends, I Crushed It. I am really proud of myself (above picture is at the start of the race, me in the pink headband). 

During the run.

Being drenched with color mid-race. There were 4 phases of color (and blasts of water) throughout the run.

Me crossing the finish line. I ran as fast as I could this race (totally didn't work on my form, just on time, as my knees for two days after the race could attest!). But I really did improve tremendously from my first 5K in May. If you recall in May I ran the EF5K in Parkersburg, IA and my time according to posted results, although I feel this time was off by about 10-15 seconds on the heavy side, was 29:22.

The Color Storm results are published but I averaged 8:09 per mile, with a time of 21:10 (remember though it wasn't quite a true 5K) and placed 7th of 562 female (all ages) registrants. I realize this wasn't a very serious race, lots of families and groups of friends just having fun, but it still felt pretty awesome- and still does.

Here is a pick of my friend Amy that ran the race with me. She placed 2nd overall in the female category- she is very very very fast. But also a big supporter.

So now I am wondering when I can officially call myself a runner... 

I have not been a runner -ever- in my life before now. I was talking with my mom last night and she reminded me that I quit 7th grade track about 3 weeks in because the coach didn't know my name and knew everyone else's names (and I must remind you that I went to a teeny tiny school, where really, he should have attempted to know). Oh, and I suppose I should mention that I was really slow (or so I thought!). But, I definitely couldn't call myself a runner. 

Then I didn't run again for about 20 years. It wasn't until I saw friends running who really enjoyed it, as well as the lack of free time I now had for my hour and half walks, that I considered trying it out. You can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time with running versus walking.

Now I have been running 10-15 miles per week for the last 6 months, I have ran two official 5K races, I just shelled out real money for a pair of running shoes, and I absolutely love going outside, running with the sun on my face, blasting Pandora, feeling that feeling of being so tired but then the sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing on. 

Some running friends are coming to KC in the fall and we are hoping to do a race together. I am definitely enjoying my new found sport, and feel great. This morning I ran 7 miles, currently my longest distance. Like I said, not sure I am a Runner yet, but I do have to be getting close :)

Spies, Spaghetti and Miss Shelby

"Spies" attacking me. These two goofballs came downstairs in matching black clothes the other day. I love when they get along (but don't let them fool you, it only happens about half the time!).

Spaghetti face.

Real Glasses :)

On her last day, Miss Shelby, our summer nanny, brought the kids presents. She was such a sweetheart and the kids really did enjoy her. Today, just a few days in to her not coming anymore, both Gus and Hazel told me that they miss her.

Shelby and the kids.

And I can't forget the New Kids on the Block concert tickets that Josh got me for my birthday. This past Sunday night we attended the concert, and it did not disappoint. 

Josh especially enjoyed Boyz to Men, although he might not admit to it :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Pick Your Own Moral of the Story (Sorry no pics, just thoughts)

Yesterday, as I was in my office submitting grades for the summer session, a young woman knocked on my door and asked if she could hang a flyer on my bulletin board. I glanced at it briefly, saw that it had KCKCCs approval stamp (literally), said sure, and looked up at her unexpectedly familiar face. This young woman was a student of mine several years ago. I could not remember her name, she had to remind me, but she quickly said, "Mrs. Dillavou?!" while she shone a humongous smile at me, and even though I just wanted to get out of my office and start my very very (did I say very?) much needed remaining 4 week vacation, we ended up chatting for several important minutes.

Long story short, she has had so much happen to her over the last several years (I was her teacher in 2007, back when I was an adjunct and childless), from her quitting school, to her economically struggling, to her losing her job, and to her, as of last year, finding Christ and letting Him completely, no questions asked, lead her life. The flyer she was distributing was in fact advertising a Christian concert on KCKCCs campus this coming weekend, sponsored by a community outreach organization that she volunteers for. 

Well, as we wrapped up our very humbling conversation, this student asked me, that if I didn't mind her asking, she wanted to know if I had any prayer requests for my own life. She said she that wanted to pray for me in regards to anything that I needed. She was so very sincere, and kind, and I stopped to think for a moment, feeling like I should say something, but I couldn't think of anything to say. If she had asked me an hour before, I am sure I could have rattled off several items that have been seemingly overwhelming my brain lately, but they now all seemed so frivolous, so surface, so small.

Guiltily, all I could think of was that I was so very blessed, in comparison. After hearing her true struggles, especially now knowing that she has been trying fearlessly to find a job but has remained unemployed (yet somehow smiling and positive) since last year, I just could not selfishly ask her to pray for anything that I "needed." I felt badly not saying anything just for the sake of saying something, but I just couldn't do it. My perspective had been readjusted. And her and I parted ways, with me telling her to please email me and keep me updated on her progress.

This is where we start to work on the moral of this story. 

My "needs" are so different from hers.  I think we too often confuse needs with wants. I, it feels daily, remind my oldest child of of this difference. Those of you that remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from a dreaded sociology, psychology, or yes, even a public speaking class, try to think bottom tier needs vs upper or middle tier needs. 

What do I struggle with? Well I suppose that I struggle with wants, more than needs. I want children that behave (but I have three healthy children). I want to be able to buy more things and save more money (but I have a job, that provides financial security). I want to be able to take a breath and sit down and relax for 5 minutes without having to *selflessly* help my children (but I am able to spend a lot of time with my children). I want more time for dates with my husband (but I have a loving, caring husband). I want to find more time to run (but I am healthy enough to run). I want to have time to watch television programs I like, or to read the several books on my e-reader that are only a few chapters in (but I own these luxuries). I want to avoid making supper, or cleaning the house (but I have food and a home).

I teach reframing in my interpersonal communication classes, which is the skill of looking at a situation differently, putting a positive spin on events that might at first seem negative. Reframing, among other things, is a self-worth building tool. But now I am left wondering: How can I teach this stuff and not even regularly practice it in my own life?

I talk to many students about their lives. So many students, each and every semester it seems, that have incredible (think climbing enormous mountains and crossing arid deserts sized) obstacles to overcome that I only see on those television programs I love to watch or read about in those novels I miss delving into. Struggles that would make every single person reading this want to open their checkbooks, offer supportive prayers and would probably invoke tears in even the most emotionless of people.

Now, don't be misled with this message. I do not have a perfect life, not even a half-way perfect life. Yes, of course I have needs and wants that aren't met. Like any person I struggle. I cry. I get very, very (did I say very?) angry at people sometimes. I want more. I need to use less. I am tired.  I am drained from the trials of caring for my young family. I need to nurture important relationships more. I say ugly, hurtful things about people sometimes, almost always releasing an immediate flood of guilt and sorrow.

So what am I saying with all of this (this is one of those posts that Josh will say, "Umm... I read the blog today... Kinda deep, don't you think?)? Well... I'm not sure what I'm saying. I had A Moment yesterday, a realization, and I don't want to forget it. 

I'm honestly torn on what the moral of this story should be. Should it be that we all reevaluate our needs? Should it be we pray more? To pray for others more, and not just ourselves? Should we give more? Should we be more kind to each other? Listen better? Forgive? Believe in Him more? I think in the end, all of those things are probably great messages. It seems hard to narrow this story down to just one. I'd say, in my case, in addition to all of those morals above, I need to be more thankful and appreciate for this very, very (did I say very?) good life that I have been given.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dillavou News

Well this has been a really fast, super crazy, incredibly busy, but splendidly wonderful summer so far. I have just one more week of summer classes left (3 days actually), and then about 4 weeks off until I report back in mid August. It has been great being home with the kids, as I only leave the house a few hours, four days each week to teach one summer 6-week class (my other one this summer is online). And although I have enjoyed it immensely, it has been a little difficult keeping up with the kids while still trying to work some. Lately it seems I only have time to post pictures with brief captions on here, so I wanted to offer a written update on what we have up to to.

Gus has had a fun summer so far. He played T-ball on a team of mostly neighborhood boys and girls in May and June, some of them he'll be going to kindergarten with this fall. I am trying to teach him how swim. He wants to learn, because most the kids his age don't wear life jackets anymore it seems, but he just isn't quite brave enough. Gus must be growing because he eats more than Josh does most nights. Sometimes 2, 3, or even 4 servings of food! He is super silly, a little loud, has such a kind, soft heart, enjoys singing and dancing around the house, loves drawing, and is getting better and better with his numbers and letters. We are thinking he will try karate in the fall, and maybe a session of a traditional sport too. His eyes seem the same, but he has a 6 month exam in two weeks. No change is good, in all honestly, I've pretty much given up on better news. Nearly every exam in the last 3 years has resulted in a slightly worse prescription each time. Glasses aren't a huge deal in the big picture of life, although we will probably crack down and thin his lenses this time so that school kids aren't as apt to notice how thick his bifocals are.

Hazel. She is so awesome. I have to constantly remind myself that she has only been three a few months. She seems so much older. She is a good mommy to Walter (and her countless babies and stuffed animals). Hazel loves to snuggle but likes her space at times too. She is a little addicted to me, but like I said, I've been home with the kids a lot this summer so that is to be expected I suppose. She is finishing up her second month of gymnastics and is so skilled at it! I don't love the gym she is at, I don't think she is challenged enough- and she starts to get bored. I'm not saying she is a super star or anything, but with an older brother at home that she intellectually keeps up with most moments, she is more mature than some of her classmates and when they need extra, she gets bored. We'll probably have her try soccer this fall, and maybe try gymnastics again this winter with a new gym. I am also teaching her to swim, but she is such a fish she'll probably teach herself soon. Hazel is pretty tough, which isn't surprising with her having two brothers. She plays so well with Gus and with Walter both, and plays really well by herself too.

Walter. What can I say, he is perfect. He's almost 18 months old. Unbelievable. Sometimes he seems so cute and little, but mostly he seems older than he is. He says some words, repeats almost everything you ask him to say, and is literally (okay figuratively) half monkey. He climbs on tables, on chairs, on his high chair tray, on the kitchen island, on plant stands, on the piano, basically anywhere he can climb he will. He loves baths, loves his siblings, loves eating about anything (calamari tonight!), and loves giving high fives and knuckles. I love him so much. He melts my heart every single day. But I'll give a more detailed update on him in a few weeks after his 18 month well check.

Josh and I are as busy as ever. Summers are a little slower for Josh for work, but our list of home improvement chores grows by the day and keeps him very busy. He starts up soon with fall sport preparation  so that will be taking over his free time before we know it. I have been teaching a little, but mostly am a stay at home mommy, and I picked up running about 6 months ago. I am running another 5k next weekend. We went to Vegas a few weeks ago, but don't really have any plans to travel anywhere else other than Iowa this year. We have been trying to go to the pool, the zoo, a few Royals games, the park, and other little activities with the kids, but no major family vacations planned for this year.

Well, that's about it for now. As usual I'll try to keep the blog updated as much as I can. It's hard to believe I have been blogging since 2008- since right before Gus joined the family. I am really glad I decided to blog. It is so much fun to be able to go back and look at different posts, to see pictures of the kids, compare the kids as they grow and develop, and just to have an online scrap book of our life over the last 5 years. If you haven't started one, you should. What an enjoyable experience.

Well have an amazing rest of your day, week, month, summer... and enjoy your life as much as you can.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fourth Fun

On July 3 we had a little Christmas in July, or it seemed. Hail, but not enough to do any claimable damage (darn the paint on the house could use a new coat!).

On the 4th we stayed in KC for the first time; we usually travel back to Clear Lake for the holiday weekend. Since we had just got back from Vegas a few days earlier, traveling again just did not seem like fun. Although we missed seeing family and friends, we had a nice time. Rarely do we all get such a large chunk of time where we are off from work together. Here is a picture of Walter when the kids participated in a neighborhood parade on the morning of the 4th.

Gus and Garret, a neighbor boy a few houses down in our cul-de-sac who is one grade older than Gus.

Ms. Liberty

Hazel and Kourtney, a girl a few months younger than Hazel that also lives just a few houses down from us. Hazel calls her her best friend.

All the kids that participated.

Me and my baby man.

The neighborhood all grilled and hung out together later in the day, and the kids all played. Here is Hazel wearing her 'skaters' as she called them, AKA standing on little piles of chalk that she made. Guess she wants some roller skates, huh?

Love this picture. Daddy and Hazel having a little heart to heart.

The Varner family stayed in KC for the holiday as well, so they came over for a little outside fun.

Almost like brothers and sisters... :)

We had a little 'parade' where the adults walked around the back yard and threw candy at the kids. Cheesy, very cheesy, but they loved it.

After the Varner crew went home we hung out with the neighbors and went to watch fireworks a few miles away.