One for the record books

Do you remember when air travel was easy, fun, even exciting? Probably sometime before 9/11 for most of us.
After twelve weeks, five flight changes, and two missed connections, we finally arrived at our house in Brazil on Tuesday.
Are you ready for the tale? Hope you have your coffee (or other choice beverage) in hand...
*Pics of ordeal not available. See inserted inspiration images for monologue relief*

Saturday, the 24th was my birthday. We had finally received Isla's visa after a twelve week ordeal of government bureaucracy, and we were scheduled to fly home. The girls and I had been in Texas, while Ben worked both in Brazil, and The States, so it was actually a great gift to finally have my family together. The plan was for me to fly with the girls from Houston to Atlanta, where I'd meet up with Ben for the overnight direct flight to Brasilia.
A garden I need - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

When I checked in in Houston - six bags and two kids in tow - I asked the "kind" lady at the counter if she could give a birthday girl some decent seats. Instead I got, "Well, I can give you some bad news on your birthday - your flight has been delayed - you'll get in thirty minutes before your flight to Brazil departs."
I took a deep breath, and just prayed we'd make it - maybe Ben could tell the gate keepers in Atlanta our situation, and they'd wait. I must not have much pull with my prayers, because very shortly thereafter, the flight was further delayed, making it impossible to make our connection.
The direct flights are only offered three times a week, so I knew the earliest we could catch the next flight was Monday, and the agents said there weren't any seats available, anyway. Tears. Restless and tired kids in an airport is not a happy place.
My make-believe Parisian pied à terre

Fast forward to Atlanta. My flight arrived about ten minutes before the Brazil flight was set to take off, so I grabbed the girls, and started to haul it, but Ben met us, and said our seats had been given to standbys. We had to go to the re-booking counter, a train ride three concourses down.

When we got to the counter, I realized I didn't have my carry-on, which I had gate checked. The carry on that contained my $$$ camera/lenses, laptop, iPod, prescription meds, jewelry, oh, and all of Isla's new social security and birth certificate cards. It was a flippin' goldmine for someone with sticky fingers, and I was beside myself. Picture a frantic woman with baby in Bjorn running down the concourse back to the gate - that was me. At the gate - no dice - no one had seen it. Had I left it? I don't know - I was in a serious hurry. It wasn't with the stroller and car seat I had also checked. Again, tears.
Bookshelf goodness

Two hours later - about midnight - the international desk found us seats to fly Monday night, but they weren't direct - we'd have to route through Rio. OK, fine - we just needed sleep. Both girls were still awake - and totally, totally out of their minds tired.

We were told our bags were in a holding area, one we couldn't get to since it was so late. So they sent us on our way to a meager hotel, with a "care kit" that contained a t shirt, a toothbrush, and that's about it. But, before we left, I made a claim for my missing bag.

It was after 2 am Sunday when we all crashed. Happy Birthday to me.
Despite the trendiness, I still love this type of art - for the sheer thundering movement of it

Monday, we were back at the airport, trying to get our bags - for the diapers, changes of clothes we so desperately needed. Good news: bags arrived AND my carry on had shown up in Oklahoma City, and could be sent back later that afternoon. Good thing I got that file started the night before! Major happy dance ensued.

We took a long afternoon nap, and Ben retrieved my carry on that evening - everything intact. Dear God, I know these are not the important things in life, but I owe you one.
Settee and ottoman prettiness

Monday, refreshed with a full-night's rest, we took the girls on the MARTA downtown to the Children's Museum, where Avery had a blast. Took naps and showers, and got ready for our flight.

Before we took the shuttle, I asked Ben to check our flight status (our luck, you know) He got quiet - not good - then said, "Business."
Me: "Hmm?"
Ben: "Business - we got bumped to business - all of us."
Suh-WEEET!
With new spring in our step, we headed to ATL with plenty of time to spare.
Get out of my way, I'm jumping in first!

Then, watched out the windows as the Heavens opened up, and released an enormous deluge. We nervously watched the flight status - it stayed On Time.

We boarded, settled, and began smugly sipping champagne, when the Captain came on the overhead saying we were missing about 70 passengers who were delayed by weather - we would wait for them - for two hours. (Kinda wish they'd offered US that courtesy) Oh well - we were comfy, so it didn't smart as much.

But, it did make us miss our connection in Rio. Ugh, and freakin' ugh BUT with the help of a gracious airline valet - we were rebooked for the next flight, which boarded immediately.
My dream house would most likely have a similar courtyard

It's a short flight - Rio to Brasilia - less than two hours, but we and our kids were toast. Too little sleep. Too much confinement, and our now oh-so-refined rear ends felt especially punished by the coach seats.

We walked in the door of Casa Giese around 3:30 on Tuesday, beat to a pulp, but together, and home.
Avery 3 years, Isla 3 months