Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Well Needed Break

Spring Break. Oh how the resonation of those words still have the ability to bring about a sense of calmness in my life.

Last week was incredible. Just the opportunity to not think about school was exactly what I needed. (Ok. I wasn't able to go the entire time without thinking of school, but for the most part I was successful.) The trip began Saturday night after work with Ray and I taking off to Chicago.

We arrived about 11:30ish to Lansing at the Sleep Inn hotel. (Ray's family is moving, so there isn't much room to crash amongst the boxes.) This was about halfway between the old house in Calumet and his new house in Chicago Heights. We spent most of the trip shuffling between the two.

Sunday morning we headed to his new house to pick up his little brother and take him to their Grandma Lorraine's house, nicknamed Mydear. (Pronounced My-Dear, so I am assuming it's spelled that way... We'll go with that.) Here I met his Aunt Tara, three of his little cousins, and his cousin Wayne. We visited for a while, then headed onto other adventures.

The next stop included hanging out with his high school best friend, Justin, Justin's fiancé, Bobbi Jo, and Ray's cousin Karl. Here I got to hear lots and LOTS of stories about Ray's high school days and watch him light up over the good times. Needless to say, my heart melted.
Meet some of the groomsmen! 
Later that night we drove up to the west side of Chicago to visit the infamous Malcolm. He is Ray's oldest brother, and I have been heavily warned about him and his quick wit. Luckily for me though, Malcolm got married last year, and thanks to his wonderful wife Mariah, and his daughter Mattison, he's much, much more easy going than Anthony led me to believe. (Anthony- Ray's brother who goes to SIU and who lives with him. AKA, the pest who tried to scare me out of meeting the family.) It was amazing spending time with them because I got to see a glimpse of what life will be like for Ray and I in the future. I'm not saying Ray is exactly like Malcolm, but there are some major, major, similarities in personalities. Mariah kept beaming and saying, "See what you've got to look forward to!"

It was that comment that changed my outlook for the trip entirely. What I have to look forward to, that I was getting to really see what my future was going to be like. I was spending time with the people who will be my new family, who are my new family. I was getting to know the people who will be in my life forever. And I realized at that moment that I wanted to soak up every minute of this trip.

Monday was our day to go to downtown Chicago. We took the L in from Malcolm's, walked around the city, went to Navy Pier, ate at Bubba Gump's, saw Grant Mitchell (a friend from down in the So Ill who happened to be at Navy Pier at the same time we were), rode the Farris wheel, and took in the beautiful weather around us. We then went back Malcolm's town and stopped in a Mexican ice cream shop and a bakery, which was an adventure all on it's own. The day was wonderful.

You'll have to ask me about the ice-cream trip.
It was quite an adventure.
Tuesday we didn't do much at all. Can you say fantastic? We spent the whole day just hanging out in the hotel, went to eat some tasty food, and went back to doing nothing. (Speaking of food, we did nothing but eat the most delicious and wonderful food the entire week. My midsection is paying for it now...) With both of our busy schedules, we never get days to do absolutely nothing, so we soaked up every minute of it. We then went and picked up his youngest brother Lelan. He is the one sibling Anthony had nothing to warn me about. In fact, he told me that he would be my favorite. After just a brief weekend with him, I can honestly say that I love this kid. He is funny, sweet, talented, smart, everything you could ever want in a little brother. Not that Anthony isn't any of those, he is. But if I start being nice to Ant now, then I am stuck doing it forever. (Can you tell just how much I love my in-laws?)

Me and Lee!
Later Tuesday night by meeting up with Ray's second-oldest brother, Lyiel. As long as things go according to plan, he will be the one officiating our ceremony. Family really means a lot to us, and I am excited to incorporate more of his family into our special day. (Also, Lyiel will hopefully be making a trip south very soon to baptize Ray. Yaaaay!)
Ray and Lyiel- Can you tell they are brothers?
We closed the evening by going back to his grandma's house. It turned out to be one of the highlights to the trip. Ray abandoned me in the kitchen as he went out to the garage. Thanks, baby, for being a typical man. This left me, his mom, his aunt, and his grandma. Nooooo pressure.

It was a blast. The laughing. The stories. The jabs at the new girl. (Thanks to Tara!) By the time Ray came back in, I honestly felt like I was part of the family.
Ray, Renae, Me, Tara, and Tiff
Wednesday our trip was dwindling down. We went to see his old house with his mom, and I got to take a trip down memory lane as all the stories Ray told about "home" came to life as we walked room to room. I was also given a huge bag of pictures to look at on our way to Mydear's house to say goodbye. This brought our trip to a bittersweet end as we gave hugs and prepared to leave.

Mom-in-Law, Me, and Ray
Another reason why visiting the in-laws is great
:) Isn't he adorable!!!
On the way home I was still processing everything. I can't believe how blessed I am with the family that I am joining. They are some of the most open, loving people I have ever met, and I enjoy the ease of being around them. They are people I know will take both me, and my mom, into their lives. (I look forward to toting my mom up north for holidays with both sides of the family. I mean what's going to be better than having both grandmas at the same time?)

Once we arrived back in Carbondale, I readied myself to head to the reading conference in Springfield. That deserves it's own post, so I will fast-forward to the return on Saturday night. Not wanting Spring Break to end, we immediately headed to Paducah as soon as I got back into Marion. (I have an insane love of Paducah, and if Ray happened to get a job there and want to move there, I would say yes in a heartbeat.) We stopped along the way in Metropolis to view Community Christian Church. I personally love this church, and even Ray said it was the first place where he could see us getting married. That, however, is a decision still yet to be made. We then went to a local coffee shop in Paducah, walked to the river, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We spent a few hours just walking around as we waited to eat at a restaurant down one of the alleys. It was an absolutely perfect night and the best way to end our week.
Down by the river in Paducah
This break was so great for Ray and I. As most of you are aware, things have not been the smoothest on my end of the family. And some recent events have made it even more difficult. Being able to just spend time with Ray without life's daily distractions was exactly what I needed. I was able to just focus on him and the reasons why I am so incredibly in love with him. And I could stand knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the man with whom I want to spend the rest of my life. This week solidified the fact that in a little over a year (424 days), Ray is going to be my husband. He is going to be the father to our babies. He is going to be the old man I sit on a porch with. He is going to be the love of my life forever. And that, ladies and gentlemen, made this Spring Break the most incredible week it could have been.


  1. Did you go to the historic district in Paducah with the brick streets? We have done several photo shoots there. I love that area?

  2. What a wonderful read! I felt your happiness!