Friday, June 10, 2011

Life Lately

Wow. The past two weeks have flown by. We’ve been in Kansas for a little over two weeks now, and just today Andy is driving here (from Chicago) with our two giant dogs in tow.

What’s that? You didn’t know we were planning on moving? Neither did we. Less than a month ago Andy got an email asking if he would like to take an open spot at Ft. Leavenworth. It really is a great opportunity for him, and the fact that my mom and sister live about 45 minutes away from that base, made it something we really wanted to do.

However, we were planning on moving in September/October. NOT May/June. We were planning a relaxing summer. We were planning on having another sweet little German baby. . . . but, as is Army life, things change quickly. My first call was to my OB to see how late he would let me fly (I was already 32+ weeks). After getting the ok to fly before hitting the 34 week mark, we spent the next weeks anxiously getting all the Army paperwork sorted out and starting the process of moving all our people, things, and dogs 4,000 miles from Germany to Kansas.

I flew with Jackson by myself (something I had sworn not to do again anytime soon after our trip this spring) on the 10+ hour flight from Munich to Chicago. It wasn’t great, and it wasn’t awful, but we made it safe and sound. I was thoroughly convinced EVERYTHING would be fine, we were in the US, we spoke the language, what could possibly go wrong?

When landing in the US you have to go through passport control (did you know there is a military line at O’Hare?- military friends- use it!) and then pick up all your bags and clear customs (basically push it through the magic door to the ‘US’ and then drop it back off). But to add to the challenge- do it with a cranky toddler, and make sure you have no less than 3 large suitcases, a giant carseat, and a stroller. . .Eek.

Our plane ride to Chicago had been an extra 45 minutes due to a change in the flight route because of ash still spewing out of the volcano in Iceland- meaning, of course, that we missed our connecting flight. As I push my stroller and heavy, overloaded push cart with all of our luggage, a United (we almost always fly United) worker stopped me, told me I was going the wrong way, and that I needed to stop so she could help me. I’m a bit stubborn and almost never, ask for help. The combination of the fact that it was after midnight Germany time, 34 week pregnancy hormones, and general exhaustion of travelling with a toddler led me to break out in tears. Which actually helped (and eventually hurt) our experience over the next few hours.

Remember the day of all those tornados in KC? And all up the Midwest to Chicago? Yes, THAT was the day we were flying. Many, many flights were cancelled and it was next to impossible to get on another flight that night. Somehow the worker who offered to help me (and pull me to the side so I didn’t have to stand in the HOURS long line) got us two seats on the 8:05 flight to KC.. Relieved, we only had three hours until the flight.

I bought outrageously priced snacks and we waited for our flight. About 30 minutes before our scheduled take off our flight was cancelled. I raced to the ‘rebooking’ line to wait and see what the next step was. After watching person after person get told there was nothing they book them on tomorrow but that they could do standby or get a connecting flight somewhere else and then try to get to MCI, I approached the counter already on the verge of tears (now after 3 am Germany time) and told the lady that I could not fly stand by, and needed a direct flight. She told me they didn’t have anything the next day (Thursday), but they could get me on the Friday morning flight. I said fine, as long as I could get a hotel. She told me that wouldn’t be a problem (with hesitation in her eyes?) and gave me a number to call for discounted hotel prices that you can use when your flight is cancelled.

I think, this is good, Jackson and I both desperately need to sleep and we can just spend a day at the hotel relaxing before coming back to deal with all the craziness. Before I left the counter another worker came over and started telling people that the airport was going to set up cots in terminal C.


Terminal C?

I look doubtfully at the United lady in front of me and leave to call for a hotel. I dial the number, a recording prompts and tells me there are no discounted hotel rooms left in Chicago. What? None?

Up until this point I didn’t honestly understand the extent of the storms in the Midwest, or the fact that O’Hare had cancelled HUNDREDS of flights that day.

I’ll sum up the next bit as best I can, first of all telling you my Motorola RaZr (which my sister constantly makes fun of) I’ve had for 4 years has a pretty much dead battery. So I couldn’t use it unless it was an emergency, because the call would cut out and the battery would die pretty much right away. I was all alone in the Chicago airport with (almost) no phone, and no idea where we would be spending the night. Terminal C?

Two of my fellow passengers offered help. One man was going to drive to Kansas City and said I could ride with him. . .a lady offered her hotel room to share. Neither good options, but both were better than Terminal C, where I was guaranteed to not get much/any sleep with my big, uncomfortable belly and adventurous toddler. Eventually I got pointed to an information kiosk with local hotel ‘hotlines’ that I could use for free. Of course EVERYWHERE was booked, I finally found a hotel about 30 minutes away. I took the room, and went to get a cab.

Another great thing about cancelled flights? You don’t get your checked luggage. OR car seat if you checked it. . .

We get in the cab, who has never heard of the hotel we need to go to. Told that it would be fare and a half because it was out of his ‘area’. There is rain pouring down. I have my toddler on my lap. He repeatedly turns on the overhead light to check directions. We get (slightly) lost. Finally we arrive at the Doubletree in Wooddale, IL. The give us cookies and a room with two full beds (I was told we would get a king, but would have taken the room regardless). Jackson has a great time taking a bath (5am Germany time, 10pm Chicago time) and we quickly crash into a fitful sleep. I literally wake up EVERY hour. At 4am Jackson wakes up too. I get up and call Andy while Jack watches cartoons. Andy encourages me to call United and see if there is anything open for that day. I’m discouraged, and think, there can’t possibly be anything- they would have booked it yesterday! But I call, and wait 32 minutes to talk to someone who insists I must talk to the International line, for a flight from Chicago to Kansas City? Really. The international part is over (can you imagine all this had happened internationally? OMG, we totally would have been sleeping in Terminal C!). The lady says she can have me on the 8am flight (it’s almost 5 by now. Still in our pajamas we call for a taxi, throw our things in a bag, get to the airport and hold our breath until the flight boards, and thankfully takes off.

Jackson slept the entire flight, and making it safe and sound to MCI made me pretty much not care about anything else. It was my mom’s lunch break before she could come pick us up, but I was MORE than happy to hang out at the airport that was in the right city.

We’ve spent the past two weeks buying a sweet new ride- pictures to come. And trying to figure out the insurance/hospital/having a baby thing, which I think is finally sorted out. Andy will be here this evening and our next step is to find a house!

I’m going to go ahead and post this without pictures or proofreading, because if I tried to include either of those things, this would very likely never get posted! Just wanted you all to know we are safe and sound!