Well, we made it back to Brisbane! Twenty-seven hours of travel time, eight suitcases, three planes, three rugs (of the living room, not hair variety), two adults, two children, a "murse," and one missed flight!
Coming to Calgary, the kids had brought their Princess and Toy Story roll-on bags onto the plane filled with crayons, paper, books, and their Nintendo DS games. But - thanks to the moronic underwear bomber - Belle and Buzz were now viewed as potential instruments of terror and no longer welcome on board. That meant we either had to hope the kids could stuff everything into their pockets for the ride home, suffer 27 hours of boredom, or find Jack a "murse" (a man purse). Luckily he consented to carrying his new "murse" (with a Canadian flag on the front) onto the plane - quite proudly in fact. Maybe "man bags" will come back into fashion?
We arrived 4 hours early for the Calgary to San Francisco leg of our flight since there were so many warnings about the length of time it would take to clear security. Hey, why not add a few more hours to our journey! I think my mom was hoping to get her pat down from the cute male Mountie at Security. Unfortunately, he was only in charge of male passengers. While Mountie Mike was cheerfully joking and chatting with the men he had to frisk, we were subjected to Sour Sue. I'm sure it's not a thrilling job - feeling up strangers - but she could have put a little effort into easing the awkwardness of the moment. Instead, it was like a mini- mammogram - but without any of the calming pleasantries! Actually, Sour Sue did crack half a smile - when I couldn't stop giggling as she frisked me under my arms. (You don't want to be the one giving me a pedicure - I'm surprised someone hasn't lost a tooth!)
The plane ride from San Fran to Sydney went pretty well. The kids were really great and slept most of the time. I won't candy coat it though, for those who may come to visit, not a lot of leg room. Once you've been in a first class sleeping pod (one that folds down to a bed) it's very hard to go back!! This girl is not made to travel economy - why can't they see that!
Worried about quarantine in Australia, I had limited the amount of wood and food products I brought in, and put the few things that I did have into one bag. I thought I could minimize my time in customs if I could just open up the one suitcase. Of course they ignored that bag and had me open up Jack's suitcase in which I had stuffed my bra and P.J.'s from the night before. As my bra tumbled onto the table, Jack (who is very possessive of his belongings) shouted - "Hey - who's bra is that in MY suitcase!!"
By the time we reached Sydney we were closing in 24 hours of travel time, only to miss our connection to Brisbane because there weren't any buses available to transfer us to another terminal. Eventually they brought in some new buses and we were herded like cattle onto them and dropped off unceremoniously at the Terminal 3 ticketing counters. We struggled as we wrestled our 8 suitcases off the bus and into the next line-up.
I will admit that at this point I started feeling a bit ornery about the whole flight thing. Usually this mood is referred to in our family as "Airport Paully". Now, I love my husband, but he is not the best traveller with others. A frequent business flyer, he sometimes forgets that it isn't the same travelling with kids and a spouse. As he dashes through security and speeds to the gate, he's oblivious to the kids and I running behind trying to catch up. So, I admit, I was a little snappish and my "Airport Jenny" was rearing its ugly head. (Sorry Mom.) I certainly wasn't feeling like the perfect mother telling my Jumpin' Jack that he could not go poop until we got tickets to the next flight.
We did make it to Brisbane finally, and I was feeling much happier. I knew my husband, who was picking us up, would probably not appreciate our 8 suitcases, but I was willing to cab it, if necessary, with whatever luggage wouldn't fit in our car. You see, being the good Scot I am, I found some great deals on rugs at Homesense. The rugs I had seen in Brisbane were double or triple the cost. I knew Paul would roll his eyes, but I was determined to bring back my Homesense rugs. Hey - they were thin!
We managed to stuff 6 of the bags into the back of the SUV, one in the front on my lap, and with the flexibility of a Cirque de Soleil performer my Mom wedged herself into the back seat with the kids and and the last bag. We were home free!