Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The first week has been good, tiring, stressful, fun, overwhelming and a whole lot of other emotions.  Which is probably a good indication of how the rest of our time in China will be.

We flew out of Peoria on Sunday, July 17th.  Our flight to Chicago was at 5:45 a.m. which meant a very early wake-up time.

EBean & LBean snoozing away.  Even the blow dryer couldn't wake them up.
We had 11 checked bags, 2 car seats, 2 roller carry-ons, a backpack, 2 kids backpacks and one stroller to get to the airport.  Jamie and I worked well together to get everything up to the ticket counter, but it was a bit of a challenge because there were no luggage carts.  Thankfully we had checked in the day before online.  Up until that point there was no promise that the little commuter plane could handle all of our luggage.

One of the baggage handlers was called up to help at the ticket counter and we were very lucky!  They were in such a hurry to get all of our bags tagged and on the plane that they didn't weigh any of them.  That was great news for me!  I tried very hard to distribute everything evenly and stay under the 50 lb limit, but I was very close on a few of them.  (Imagine me hopping off and on a bathroom scale holding every piece of luggage.)  I really though I might have to open up some of the bags and shift around the large jars of PB, 5 lbs of coffee, books and other heavy cargo we'd stashed in our luggage.

LBean in front of all of our luggage.

A quick potty stop and we were the last ones to walk onto the plane.  The flight to Chicago is always a quick, get up in the air and then get ready to land trip.  On the way to the next terminal Jamie looked over and saw Gene Simmons from the band Kiss in the elevator across the hall.  That was a fun way to start the trip and then we decided on a place to grab breakfast.

Well, guess who was in front of us in line to eat?  Our new friend Gene.  He was polite and asked Jamie if he had cut in line (he had not) and then when I passed by with the girls Gene said that he also had two (kids) of his own...that he knew of.  If I had been quick-witted I would have said, "yeah me too"!

After walking down to our gate, we were very fortunate to start making friends.  We noticed a little girl about LBean's age playing by our gate.  I went and introduced myself and LBean to the little girl and her mother.  Come to find out, they also live in Suzhou and not too far (relatively speaking) from our new apartment.  Wonderful!  LBean joined in some games with her new friend and another little girl.  There were three little girls running around playing hide 'n seek (behind the trash can was the best spot), hot potato (really hot dolphin because that's what we had) and duck, duck goose.  I was so glad to have an opportunity to speak to another ex-pat mom and grateful to exchange contact info with her.

Playing "hot dolphin" (hot potato) and burning off some energy.
The plane ride from Chicago to Shanghai was long, about 13 hours, but pretty uneventful.  We took up residence in four of the five seats in our row and the girls got special "kids meals" to munch on.  They watched lots of movies on the iPad because the movie selection in the airplane was pretty poor.

We have traveled by plane with the girls before and so I know to bring snacks and an assortment of un-used McDonald's toys with us to pull out at any given moment.  I really didn't need to use my toys because not only did Grandma DiDi pack a bag on the plane for each girl, they also had busy bags from their friends Emmalee & Olivia, and wrapped presents from Miss Joyce.  It was great!  Both girls slept on the plane, but it took LBean 10 hours into the flight to fall asleep (and she had been up since 4 a.m.)

After we landed we had to go through immigration and because we had small children we got to go through the priority line and step to the front of the line.  We grabbed all of luggage (yes, they all made it!), picked up a baggage form at customs to authorize the delivery of our sea shipment, and met our driver.

Before we left the States we had just the right amount of room in the rental van for the four of us and all of our luggage.  It got a bit more complicated when we arrived in Shanghai because we now had a driver and we lost some of our extra space.  Jamie and the driver literally packed our duffle bags around me in the backseat and the girls had some of our smaller bags at their feet, but it worked.  We all cuddled up to a piece of luggage and snoozed our way to Suzhou.

We made it!

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