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Friday, April 18, 2014

Our Spring Break Adventures

After spending a few uneventful days around the house at the beginning of spring break, we finally took off on a little adventure on Thursday morning to Schaumburg, IL.  We had decided to follow another family up from our church and spend two days packing meals with an organization called "Feed My Starving Children".  We have done some mobile packing events when they have come down here near our area, but we thought it would be fun to go pack in their warehouse and see if the operation was any different at their homesite.  We had also made reservations at a hotel that had an indoor swimming pool (and near IKEA) so we knew we would have time for a little swimming and shopping as well.
 
As always, the kiddos did great on the drive up, even if they did act a little silly...
 

 
We checked into our hotel room about an hour before we needed to pack the meals, so we took advantage of the extra time and did the necessary "jumping on the bed" routine that we do whenever we visit hotels!  We also took the mandatory silly family pictures to prove that we were really there together!  LOL


 
 


 

 
Noel was down at the front desk getting directions to the train station so he missed out on all the fun.  Since Nolan didn't sleep on the drive up, he was getting fussy so I took him on a walk around the hotel.  As you can see, he was looking pretty tired and grouchy.  (Believe it or not, he didn't ever fall asleep all that Thursday...not until almost 11:00 P.M.!!  There was just way too much to see)
 
 
We were set to pack at 2:30 so Noel dropped us all off at the warehouse while he entertained Nolan and walked around the area mall.  Before we could get started, we had to sit and watch a couple of short videos and find out more about where our meals were headed.  Don't we all look fascinated?

 
We found out that both of our packing days would be supplying meals for children in Haiti.

 
And then it was time to pick our spots and get to work.  All of us circulated around as the kids wanted to try each spot for a period of time and the three adults jumped in to help out wherever we were needed.  It was fun watching the kids get into their jobs and to see how many packages / boxes we could get filled.



 
Hair nets!!  Oh how we love thee!!

 
Since it was a Thursday afternoon, the packing group was rather small.  In addition to the 8 people in our group, there may have been another 9 or 10 people there at another table and all together our small group packed 5,832 meals or enough food to feed 16 children for an entire year!


 
Friday's set-up was much of the same but they had a large group volunteer from a local college so it was a full house that day.  On Friday, Noel packed with the girls while I stayed with Nolan.  I cannot remember how many meals they packed on Friday, but it broke down to another 71 children having meals for a year so it was obviously a lot more!!
 
Helping children around the world have food and possibly hear about Jesus for the first time is a HUGE reason to run, cheer, and celebrate!!  Not to mention that after two hours of standing still, they definitely needed to get some extra energy out!!

 
As I mentioned earlier, Noel had got a train station and schedule while we were packing.  As soon as we were finished with the meals on Thursday, we drove to an area train station and took the metro downtown Chicago to grab some pizza.  This was the first time for all the kids to ride the train and they were definitely excited about that!!  As soon as they found out that the train had a second level, you can bet where we ended up sitting!!

 
This was also our girls' first experience in a city with skyscrapers.  Most of the cities we have gone to up to this point had buildings with 25 or 30 floors, but nothing like the Chicago skyline.  When we came up out of Union Station, you should have seen the look on their faces.  Melayna said, "Mom!  The buildings look like they go all the way to touch the sky!"  I think she was also the most fascinated with the loud noises, bright lights, and busyness of the city life.  She said that when she grew up, she wanted to live in Chicago and eat at a different restaurant every week. 
 
Speaking of eating, the Giordana's pizza was once again, amazing!!
 
I know that no one from the train reads this blog, but I must send out my apologies to any of the passengers on the Metro coming home.  By this point, it was 9:40 our time and Nolan still had not slept for the day.  We didn't pack his blanket on the train ride so he was refusing to cuddle or lay still.  He cried almost the entire one hour trip home and as we were leaving the train car at our stop, we realized that we had mistakenly gotten on the "quiet" car.  So much for commuters having peace on quiet on their ride home.  Oops. 
 
 
Needless to say, we all went back to the hotel ready for bed and a good night's sleep.  Nolan got his blanket as soon as we got to our van and fell asleep within seconds of leaving the train station.  By the time we got back to the hotel, we was sleeping so soundly that we could turn on all the lights, change his diaper, and switch him into his pj's and he never even stirred.  He slept quietly all through the night and was seemingly refreshed by the time it was morning.
 
Since we were able to get a late check-out from the hotel, we had plenty of time to swim, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. 
 

 
While Noel and the girls were packing meals, I took Nolan into a few stores in an area shopping center.  I had never been into the "Container Store" before so I had to document just a small section of the store showing all of the containers.  (Just envision this part of the store about 200 more times and you get the idea of the size of this store!!)  It was definitely an example of contrast knowing that I was inside a store with every possible shape and size of container to store all of our 1st world excess while 5 miles away, the rest of our families were putting rice and beans into sealable baggies to ship to a 3rd world country to make sure that a family eats one nutritious meal a day with no hope of leftovers or extras.  It definitely challenges you and makes you think about our many blessings!
 
 
 
We had planned in advance to leave as soon as we done packing on Friday afternoon, but about 20 minutes into the trip, we realized that maybe we should have waited to head out until after rush hour traffice had passed.  Next time we'll know better, right?
 
Good bye Chicago!  Thank you for a great trip and wonderful memories!

 
Part of our plan was to stop at Perry & LaDawn's on the way home to spend Friday night and part of Saturday with them.  Because of the traffic, we arrived an hour later than we had originally planned, but we still arrived in time for their weekly "Pizza & a Movie Night" and to play with their cousins for a bit.

 
We ended our spring break adventure by riding the gator out around the field where two heifers had delivered their first babies. The one baby was a few hours old, but the second baby was still wet from being newly delivered. The mother was pretty nervous and upset and Perry and Jay had to stick around and help the mother settle down and help her baby eat. Thankfully it all ended well and was a good educational experience for the girls.
Apparently it was also a very tiring experience for Nolan.  He fell asleep while riding back to the house and finished off his nap on their couch.

 
While it was a great spring break experience, I admit that I was happy for school to start back up on Monday and the predictability that schedule provides.
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday

My husband is celebrating his 37th birthday tomorrow so I have chosen to honor him for this edition of "Throwback Thursday".
 

 

World Compassion Hunger Run

Morgan and I signed up to run the World Compassion Hunger Run together again this year.  If you remember, last year we did it together for the first time.  Neither of us had ever participated in a 5K and didn't know what to expect.  Morgan did much better than I did as she finished last year with a 2nd place finish while I finished 9 minutes after her at just over 40 minutes.  I definitely was not satisfied with that and couldn't wait to redeem myself this year!!
 
This time around we knew what to expect and both of us have been running more on our own and felt much more prepared.  Unfortunately, we woke up on race day to snow on the ground, a rain/snow mix coming down, and a temp of 29 degrees.  Yuck!  But neither of us were about to miss it, so we dressed warm and headed out.  (We were excited that several other couples/families from our church were also participating, along with my mother-in-law and nephew Luke).
 
Ironically, on the way there, Morgan and I agreed to a plan of action.  IF Morgan were to run faster than me, than I would just let her go and do her best and we would meet up at the finish line.  IF I were to run faster than her (and I was pretty sure that I would this year...), than I would slow down and finish it with her, no matter of the time.  (I was hoping for under 30 minutes, but figured it was more important to finish it with her).  Once again, I underestimated her running abilities.  THAT girl can run.  Once again, she ended up beating me but at least it was only by about one minute this time around.
 
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Morgan & I trying to stay warm inside while waiting for the race to begin:
 
 
Morgan & I trying to stay warm outside after the race while waiting for the awards.
You cannot really tell how wet we are but we're soaking wet by this point.
 
 
Luke ended up finishing 1st in his age division and 5th overall.
Way to go!

 
Morgan ended up finishing 1st in her age division this year with a time just over 28 minutes.  As I said, she was moving!!  I was never able to keep up with her from the beginning, but I never lost sight of her either.  She was always just about 100 yards in front of me.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never quite catch up with her.  Chasing after her did help me run a good time though and I ended up finishing 6th in my age division.  (6th out of 42 woman).  The fun part is that once we came around the bend towards the finish line, I saw Noel and Marissa standing alongside the road cheering for us.  Noel told me that I was running just over 30 minutes.  I was slightly disappointed that I hadn't reached my goal, but then I saw Laynie jumping up and down in the front of the van as she joyfully waved at me, and suddenly my time didn't matter anymore.  I was just excited to be finishing strong and to have them all there watching us.  Much to my surprise though, as I rounded the curve and saw the finish line, the time clock only said 29 minutes!!
 
I was able to finish at 29 minutes and 48 seconds.  Yea!  I did beat my goal afterall!!
 
Lovin' that first place smile!!
 
 
'Want to do it again together next year, Morgan?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nolan's Wellness Visit

Nolan went in for his 15 month wellness visit today.  The doctor says that he is on the small size for his age, but right on track to where he should be considering his "genetics".  LOL  He may be a little behind in the language department but our doctor says he is not concerned since he obviously understands directions and comprehends what we are saying to him.  The speaking will come along soon enough.  (Can one really expect him to talk when he has three sisters catering to his every need?) 

At 15 months of age:
  • he weighs 21.2 pds and is in the 4% on the growth charts
  • he is 29.5 inches tall and in the 14% on the charts
  • his head is 19 inches around putting him in the 85% for head size
  • he is wearing 12 months pants but 18 month shirts and pj's
  • he is wearing size 3 diapers
  • he walks all over and is also beginning to climb
  • he still doesn't have any words to speak of
  • he can sign two or three words
  • he is going to bed around 7 at night and sleeping until 7 in the morning
  • he is taking two naps a day.  Usually one nap is around 90 minutes and the second nap is 45

iPod Dump

I am finally getting around to cleaning off the pictures on my iPod from the last few weeks.  So, here they are in no particular order:
 
1 - This picture was taken the day I completed my first four mile run.  I had originally planned to run three miles as training for the upcoming 5K and when I came to the three mile mark, I guess I just kept running.  Luckily, I survived!  LOL
 
 
 
 
2 - Luke came over a week or so ago and asked to ride the go-cart.  It took a while to get it tuned up enough to get it started, but Noel was able to also take the kids for rides.  Even Nolan got in on the action and he really seemed to enjoy it.
 
 
3.  Our silly girl 

 
4 - I love these two!!  Poor Nolan looks like he wiped out and scraped his chin but it's actually just where he kept licking his lips and the wetness chapped his chin.

 
5 - We finally got the chance to go to the library all together over spring break.  Morgan LOVES our library!

 
6 - Daddy & son share some quality time reading the new board books that our cousins passed down to us.

 
7 - Nolan's favorite past time.... just sitting and watching his trains go around and around and around

 
8.  Morgan continues to work on her upcoming 4h projects.
This time it is sewing.

Errors of Hide n Seek Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Nolan was trying to hide from me in plain sight.  Apparently, his sisters aren't too much better playing hide n seek than he is.  Marissa & Melayna tried playing hide n seek last week using walkie talkies.  The only rule that they came up with was that you had to leave your walkie talkie on at all times, even while hiding.  Melayna didn't catch on to the reasoning behind this right away so she willingly and joyfully took hers with her as she tried to hide all around the house.  No matter how well she was hidden, Marissa quickly found her b/c each time Marissa counted, she would keep hitting the "call" button so that Laynie's walkie talkie would make noise and then Marissa would follow the noise until she found Laynie.  After a couple of rounds of this, I convinced Laynie to hide in a different place than the walkie talkie so Marissa wouldn't find her.  As soon as Marissa found out what had happened (and that I had thought of it), she said it was "unfair" and quit playing.

Oh well, at least I found it humerous!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Melayna's Spring Pictures

We just got Melayna's spring pictures back this morning.  I thought this top one turned out really good.  The second pose is cute too, just a little out of character...
 
 
Her response when she saw this picture was, "Mom!  I NEVER look like this!  Why would they think I wanted to buy this picture?"

 
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In other "Laynie-isms"...
  • I was wearing my bright yellow running shoes the other day in addition to a neon orange shirt.  (It seemed like a good choice when I was out running on the road)  Apparently, Melayna disagreed with my wardwobe selection.  As soon as she got into the van after school, she took one look at me and said, "MOM!  You didn't wear that out in public, did you?  You are just way too bright for normal people!"
  • The other day I served sugar cookies to the girls - except that I had let Morgan decorate the first batches with frosting so the few that were leftover didn't even have sugar on them.  Melayna saw them and said, "Sugar cookies without sugar are...well... just cookies"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Awana Grand Prix 2014

On Friday the 4th, the Awana club where the girls attend hosted their annual Grand Prix.  This Awana group is much smaller than where we've attended previous years and they only allowed the TNT groups to use the wooden kits.  The younger kids had to use a matchbox car.  This meant that although Marissa had raced a wooden car last year, she had to race a matchbox car instead.  Overall, I think Marissa and Melayna were good sports about it and had fun anyway.
 
They all had to check their cars in and then wait for the races to begin.

 
Morgan designed and painted her own car once again this year.  Can you guess which one is hers?  If you picked the white one on the far left with all of the hearts on it, you would be correct.

 
Nolan was definitely getting ready to cheer for them.  I'm just sure of it!!

 
Okay, so even if he didn't cheer, their friends certainly did!

 
After several close races, Marissa ended up getting second place in the lower division.
Her friend Keira ended up beating Laynie for third place.

 
Morgan didn't place in her races, but she still enjoyed herself.



 
At the end of the night, there were plenty of smiles to go around and I think that is the most important part!!