As Mom and I drove to IL a couple weeks ago, I reflected in my mind without sharing with my Mom. I thought I would keep those reflections to myself; but when you see the blessings of God in your life, why keep them to yourself? So I would like to share about our road trip to IL!
I can clearly remember the anticipation driving to IL throughout the years and being so excited to see my Grandparents. I can remember the smell of Exclamation perfume as I walked into their house in Karnak. I can remember the "little room" that had a fridge with Diet Rite and a freezer with pumpkin rolls (usually only in the Fall). I can remember visiting my Grandparents' neighbors and how Ms Donna gave me shoes when I was younger (and had much smaller feet than now) and Ms Charlene giving me yogurt covered raisins. I am so thankful to say that I have amazing Grandparents - they created so many wonderful memories for me growing up...and I am even more thankful to say that Rayleigh has amazing Great-Grandparents. (Okay, enough sappy stuff!)
My grandma, Patsy, had some medical issues in the past several months - many prayed and they were definitely answered. Mom and I felt that after her recent back surgery, we would go to Energy, IL and help my Grandma and Grandpa with household chores, cooking, take their minds off of so much that has gone on recently...and what better way than to bring the funniest one year old I know, Rayleigh Joy! We started our journey to IL on a Sunday afternoon. Rayleigh had never been on a trip longer than 2 hours and this would be almost 11. We loaded the car with snacks, toys, DVDs, music, blankets, luggage and more. Rayleigh was a CHAMP! She sang along to music, waved at Mom and I every time we would look back to check on her, play with her babies, and when we stopped at the first gas station you would have thought she was in heaven. She loved walking around and pulling chips and snacks of the shelves as Mom and I took turns going to the restroom. In the 11 hours we drove, she slept about 2 and never had a meltdown. Bless her heart :)
We arrived in Energy late Sunday evening and crashed! It was so nice to be at my Grandparents house - I had moments when I would reflect back to the times I mentioned above and my Grandma was extra loving this trip, so with each hug, I would embrace the moment and then smile at my Mom. It was great to be there, 4 generations together again. My Grandma, my Mom, Me, and Rayleigh.
We sat on their back porch and enjoyed the hummingbirds and deer. Rayleigh enjoyed playing in Grandpa's rocks. Side note: when I was her age, I can remember Grandma and Grandpa both getting in to me for playing in their rocks and gravel but of course Rayleigh plays with them and Grandma smiled and thought it was cute....typical Grandparents :) Here are some pics...
We were able to go to a Doctor's appointment with my Grandma and received great news that she is recovering very well, "better than most of my patients" in the words of the Doctor. I then got to experience Culvers for the first time....Oh my word - the burger was great, onion rings amazing, but my favorite was the lemon ice with fresh strawberries. We don't have Culvers in the South but boy oh boy, I wish we did! Yummo!
While we were at the Doctors' offices in Missouri, we left Rayleigh with Melissa at her daycare. She had a blast, other than the mini melt down she had during lunchtime according to Melissa - here are a couple pics of her there playing with the other kiddos.
Each evening we would go to the local Energy park so that Grandma could walk around the track - Rayleigh would swing with Grandpa or me. We also discovered the amazingly beautiful acorns there, so Grandpa filled two coffee cans full for Mom and I to bring home for Fall decor.
On Thursday, we all went to a public pool area with a kiddie pool and mini splash pad - we brought Brandyn along because he was still out of school. Grandma and Grandpa enjoyed the shade while Mom, myself, Rayleigh, and Brandyn swam. Brandyn talked me into even jumping off the big diving board and going down the water slide! The things I will do to make my cousins smile ;)
Friday morning we loaded up in the car and went to 11 yard sales - we had no intentions of loading the car with wonderful goodies but it just happened. We actually would have gotten A LOT more but we quickly realized we had to drive it 11 hours home and fit it in with all the other stuff we had brought from home. What is it about being out of town, you find amazing things? And then you have no room to haul it...but at home, you find nothing? A true dilemma for passionate yard sale goers like my Mom and myself. After the yard sales, Grandpa treated Rayleigh to some hot cakes :)
Friday we went to lunch with some family and friends to celebrate my Grandpa's birthday. We went to a BBQ restaurant, ate some cake, and then visited a peach orchard (but we couldn't get any because they were cash only). Seriously, who carries cash these days?
We left Saturday morning and decided to stop at Graceland - by excuse was so that we can tell Rayleigh she went there on her first big road trip but really, I wanted to see it again (it was my third time!) We didn't have time to take a tour of the mansion and didn't have a stroller for Rayleigh. For those who know Rayleigh Joy knows that she would have probably escaped our arms and run into Elvis' living room and jump on his couch before we could even catch her. She's a wild one. So we explored the gift shops instead and did our own small tour by driving around the surrounding neighborhoods, stopped at a yard sale (yes, we did), and then we found Vernon's house (Elvis' dad). That lead to about an hour of me reading to Mom while she drove all the facts and history of Vernon's house. Never a dull moment.
Rayleigh did wonderful on the way home - she was a little more aggravated on the way home but we knew she had a LONG week and just needed to be home, in her own bed. She still did amazing for her first big road trip. I enjoyed every moment with my Mom, we make memories every time we are together - we laughed a lot. We also made a stop at Boomland in Missouri - we got some ice cream, snacks, and a crossword to keep us busy while we traveled.
Overall, the trip was a success. Excited for Rayleigh's next big road trip even though I don't know where or when - I'm sure it will be an adventure :)