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.