And we’re in…Chicago?

Yes, we’re at one of the beautiful Holiday Inns by O’Hare airport.  Yes, we should be in Dublin by now.  Actually, we should have been in Dublin on Friday, but weather changed our plans.  And now weather has us stalled out again.

We left with more than three hours to spare to get to the airport, since we were bringing our traveling circus plus a bag of medicine to get through security.  As we were leaving, it began to snow.  By the time we hit the highway, it was practically a white-out.  At one point, Josh said “I know there’s a van in front of me, I just can’t see it.”  Amazingly, there were no accidents on they way to the airport – no one on the road felt it was worth it to drive fast.  We get there, unpile the loads of luggage, and check in.

Here’s an important little factoid – we were booked on two different airlines. So we couldn’t get our boarding passes for the Dublin flight in Detroit.

But we checked in,got compliments for how little luggage we were bringing by the women at the counter considering we were moving to Ireland, herded the kids towards security, lined up, and were ready to make TSA’s day in the security line.  Which lucky for everyone, was non-existent until we got there.  So we have two adults, four kids, five carry ons, six backpacks, four laptops, one iPad, and a big bag full of Maura’s meds.

For all the TSA horror stories we’ve heard, we actually got a nice woman who talked to Maura about what would happen, helped herd the kids (though I’m not thrilled Collin was herded through the body scanner…fyi, Detroit now has tons of body scanners and the old metal detectors are roped off.)  They wanted to x-ray Maura’s meds, which I wasn’t thrilled by, so the very nice TSA agent agreed to hand-check it – and smiled the entire time.  Maura kept getting asked to take off her shoes, and we kept having to explain she had ankle braces, which got us lots of apologies…but they are not that noticeable at first glance, honest mistake.  And just when I was going to have to be balky about the rest of us having to be body scanned, the one agent opened up the metal detector and waved Miriam to go through.  I herded the rest of the kids through and then the older three started gathering our stuff up as Josh stood there watching the one woman check all the meds while I hung out with Maura as she had her ankle braces swabbed and tested.  Maura didn’t mind – she had her new shoes on and has been showing them off.  I went over to where the kids were, and the nice TSA lady was finishing up, we’re trying to pack up, and the supervisor comes along to harrass the nice agent about how she needs to make sure we don’t hold up the line.  Um…lady, we ARE the line!  Not to mention, this woman was wonderful and got us through there a lot faster than we had imagined.

But we made it through without incident.  We got to our gate and waited.  Watched it snow some more.  Waited more.  Josh noticed there was a flight an hour before ours and asked if we could get on that one.  Sure – for $50 a person.  So we waited.  Listened to flights get delayed.  Watched planes get covered in snow.  Listen to another flight get canceled.  And just when it seems like we’re doomed – the weather breaks.  Suddenly no one is waiting anymore.  We’re all getting on planes…including the one that was supposed to have left an hour before us.

Of course, we get on the plane and wait.  And wait.  An hour to be de-iced.  It’s okay, we can wait for it.  The problem is, there’s two parents and a 3-4 year old girl behind us.  The parents decided to sit the girl in the aisle across from them…and then ignored her as she asked the same things over and over….like “Are were flying yet?  Are we flying yet?  I want to be flying?  Are we flying?” and “I have to go to the bafroom!  I have to go to the bafroom!”  Meanwhile, my three older children are quiet as churchmice, faces in Nintendos, and Maura’s happily playing with penguins.

Finally, we’re de-iced and take off.  Maura insisted on having the window open.  I fear her reaction.  But luckily, she got enough of the concept of flying that seeing the ground leave didn’t freak her out.  Instead, she said “Woohoo!  We’re FLYING!”  Which is what most of us were thinking.

The bad thing was, we thought we had enough time to make our connecting flight.  We really thought we had a chance. But when we landed, there was no open gate – so we had to wait.  And we realize that where we’ll be pulling up and where we have to be is a tram ride and terminal away.  Plus, we have no boarding passes, which means we have to leave security, go to the ticket counter, and get them.  And then go through security again.

So we decide not to run, but not to dawdle either.  We start making our way, not sure where we’re going, and hit one point in the airport that had those automatic revolving doors.  Josh and Maura get through them, Collin enters one, Sean tries to enter with him, Mim goes into the one behind them.  But Sean’s luggage gets caught and wham!  Collin faceplants into the door, which suddenly stops.  And now, my three kids are trapped in the revolving doors.  I tell Sean to move his bag.  He does.  Which somehow makes the whole thing go backwards a foot.

I couldn’t help it.  I started laughing.  The security guard and Josh are on one side, trying to get them to stop touching stuff, and I’m laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes.  Because somehow, my kids got themselves trapped in the revolving door.  And we’ve missed our flight.  But we get it all moving again, I get through it, still giggling, and then we find the tram to take us to the terminal with the ticket counters.

Needless to say, by the time we got to the ticket counter, no one was there.  The kids sit down and whip out Nintendos.  Josh goes to the ticket counter and says “Hello?  Anyone there?”  No one answers, so he starts to walk away.  Suddenly a woman appears and said “Holmes?”

She quickly arranges a new flight and hotel for us.  We now herd kids to the hotel shuttle area, bypassing a large crowd at another ticket counter, and into the elevator with other travelers.  The elevator doors open, and Maura says with delight “M!”  Yep, there’s a McDonald’s right in front of us, and she’s running happily towards it.  We pull off to the side to decide if we’re going to M and Collin says “My DS is gone!”


So the two of us retrace our steps.  It’s not there.  We start asking people.  Absolutely no help.  The TSA guy gave me the best answer – “We don’t pick up stuff laying around.”  Um…isn’t that your job?  Then it was “Try the officer at the desk over there.” You mean the one over there that’s unmanned?  Then there was the “I know the airport has a Lost and Found, I just don’t know where.”  sigh.  Then there was a lot of “Ma’am, if someone picked it up off the floor, it probably went in their pocket.”  Okay, I know that.

So, at 8 o’clock at night, instead of being on a flight to Dublin being fed bad airline food, we had one unhappy teen who probably had his DS helped out of his pocket, a happy 7 yr  old with a Happy Meal, and Josh outside waiting for the correct shuttle…which took almost an hour to get to us.  Eventually we got to the hotel, Josh decided to rent a car. and we all crashed out for the night.  Now Josh is out with Collin, replacing the DS and some of the games we just bought him.

At least it’s stopped snowing in Chicago for now.  Hopefully, at 7:15 tonight, we’ll finally be on our way to Dublin.

I wonder where our luggage is?