Today, We Are Home...

...and I am SO tired. We arrived at Heathrow with plenty of time. In fact, Terminal Four was almost empty. We sat around with Trevor, Linda, and Steve (who showed up to surprise us) to have coffee for a bit. Steve gave Keven his Christmas present, a set of two black-and-white, framed photos of the girls he took back in 2004 when we last visited. Because the guy Steve had hired to frame the pics had gone on holiday, Keven took an IOU on Christmas Day. Luckily, good timing meant we received the photos just in time for departure.

Saying good-bye to Linda and Trevor always chokes me up. Airport farewells just crumble any attempt at British reserve. I am glad to be home, yes, and I'm glad for our great holiday together. But those good-byes are just nasty.

Through the feather light, four-minute security queue, we sat around for another two hours. No rushing around, this trip! The girls got their fill of watching airplanes and riding on moving sidewalks. We ate a bit, using up the last of our pounds -- or so we thought. Keven found £20 in his bag pocket once we were on the plane.

Boarding went smoothly. The ride went smoothly. When I get around to it, I'll review The Departed, which I watched on my mini TV. Landing did my ears in; they didn't pop back to normal until somewhere on the Illinois Tollway. However, upon reaching O'Hare, we received a note that our car seats did not make it on the plane. At Heathrow, the BA people had us load them on a separate conveyor for oddly-shaped checked luggage, and about 30 other people on the plane received similar messages.

Through customs, I sat with our stuff and the girls -- who alternated between near-unconsciousness and loopy-loop fatigue giggles -- while Keven talked to BA. We couldn't travel home without our car seats, and we thought they might comp us a hotel room until the seats arrived. However, according to US law (dude!) the airlines must compensate folks with lost child restraints, so they handed Keven two brand new seats! We needed to buy a booster eventually for Ilsa, so that will come in handy if they ever get around to mailing us the lost ones (which they're supposed to), and I guess I'll give the spare to Jenn.

So after taking a shuttle to the car rental kiosk, Keven loaded luggage while I unpacked, assembled, and learned about our new car seats. Luckily, they seemed similar to -- if newer, cleaner, and better than -- our old ones, but the delay still got us on the road more than two hours after landing. Keven wisely upgraded to a mid-size for an additional $5, which meant our TON of luggage fit comfortably into the trunk of a Monte Carlo, a most excellent motorized waterbed. We finally arrived home a little after 11:30 -- or, by our England body clocks, 5:30 in the morning. Those last 20 miles were a killer for me, driving.

This morning, the girls woke up at 5am -- again, by English time that's a nice, 11am, lie-in sort of morning. I do not relish the thought of today. Keven is already at American Family to work. I have to unpack, bathe the kids and wash their hair, pick up the mail, Tulip & my plants, do bills, shower, take Juliette to get ballet shoes (today is the only day we can do so through the school program -- much cheaper than a specialty dance store), return the rental car, and wrap presents for our Indiana Christmas, all the while knowing the kids will run out of steam sometime early this afternoon. We leave for my parents' house tomorrow.

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