First, our Visa's didn't go through by the time we needed them to. We had bought plane tickets for the 30th of August, but the 29th came around and they still weren't here. Then, that morning we got an e-mail from the British Consulate telling us that they had just opened our application and it would take approximately 8 business days to process. Well, we were frustrated, but grateful we finally heard something.
This ended up making us push back our flight date to the 13th of September, just to be safe, and we were in San Diego for another 2 weeks. We were lucky and were able to request an address change from the Consulate so we didn't have to wait in Cedar City on people's couches while we waited. We were also very lucky to have parents who helped us out with planes and a place to stay. We couldn't have done it without either one of them!!
We finally got word that our Visa went through on Wednesday, so we had almost a whole week of relaxing before we were off! Oh, our last night in the U.S. we also had Mexican food. It's Steven and my favorite and we just don't know how good its going to be here, so we needed to get our fix in. =)
Packing for the trip was a little rough. I had originally gotten everything we were taking into 4 big suitcases and 5 carry-ons. But, when I called the airline to find out how many bags we would each get, I was told we'd each get 1 and it would be $55 to check an additional bag and it would be $55 if it was over 55 pounds. We were also told we would only get 1 carry on a piece and a personal item, but that a personal item was a laptop or purse. Since we had backpacks I wasn't sure they counted as a personal or a carry-on. We also weighed all 4 bags, and ALL but one were over 50. We figured it would be better to pay $55 once for an extra bag, then $55 three times for the three overweight. So, my parents gave us one of their extra suitcases and we put one of the 5 carry-ons we were going to carry in that suitcase. We got it all to fit just fine, but when we weighed them, 4 of them were under (well one was barely over 50, but it was fine) and one was 69 pounds. How that happened, I'll never know. But, anyway, we still figured one overweight extra bag was cheaper then 3. So, Tuesday morning when we got to the Airport they told us that it was $70 to check an extra bag, and $200 if its over 50. We were shocked! I told them that when I called, they didn't say that, but they don't know what happened. Luckily, the guy checking us in was SO nice and told us to go buy a cheap carry-on bag at the gift shop and we could get 19 pounds out of it and just carry it on the plane. When I told him I didn't think we could carry an extra carry on he told us he'd count one of the boys backpacks as a personal item and it would be okay. But, as I was buying the suitcase he ran back to tell me that when Steven opened the suitcase they found our huge DVD case and we could just carry that on as a carry on and not to buy the suitcase and save our money. So, we didn't have to buy an extra suitcase and we only had to pay to check the one extra bag. He was just SO nice and it makes me happy that there are great people in the world.
We also found out that we needed to take out our Playstation and Wii from the small carry-on suitcase they were in every time we went through security. We were stopped the first time we went through, but we were able to get a system for the next two. (Yes, we had to go through security at all three airports. It was a PAIN!)
The boys were AMAZING! They would get antsy and a little loud in the airport, but as soon as we'd get on the plane they would be little angels. Gavin sat next to me and Rhys was next to Steven on the way to Chicago. I don't know what Rhys and Steven did, but Gavin pretty much just sat next to me and held my hand. They played Pirates of the Caribbean 4 on the plane, but that was of no interest to Gavin.
When we got to Chicago we had to take the train to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 5. It took FOREVER and then adding on the Security check we had about 2 minutes before they started boarding. I literally changed Gavin's diaper and then we were boarding. We had to get in line twice, since we didn't get our passport checked before trying to get on the plane (they didn't tell us we needed to do that) but people were nice and let us cut in front of them since we had kids. Its a good thing we had to change flight plans, because last time we only had 45 minutes to change planes and I just don't think we would have made it. We had an hour and a half this time and we were still cutting it close. We were also lucky and had a plane with a screen. Both Rhys and Gavin loved it. Gavin watched Toy Story 3 twice while he waited for dinner. He wouldn't wear the head phones but it didn't seem to bother him that he couldn't hear the movie. Rhys watched Kung Fu Panda 2 and then just played games. We actually had to force him to stop playing so he could sleep. He wasn't happy about that, but he fell asleep really fast.
The boys LOVED their airplane dinner. They got some chicken strips, tater tots, a roll, cheese, crackers, and a brownie. I was worried Gavin wouldn't eat, but he ended up eating almost everything. I was SO proud of him. After he ate, I changed his diaper on the plane (there was surprisingly a good amount of room to do so on the plane) and then he fell right to sleep. He looked really comfortable with his pillow and blanket.
Steven and I weren't as lucky about sleeping. We couldn't get comfortable. Steven slept longer then me, but only about an hour. I just kept going in and out of sleep for a little bit. I probably got about 30 minutes total. I was the only one awake when they gave us breakfast, but they gave me 3 plates for the boys for when they woke up. That flight ended up only being 6 and a half hours, so it really wasn't bad.
We landed in Dublin 30 minutes early, which was good because we had to go through customs before we could board our next plane. We ended up having about 15 minutes before we boarded. This plane was small and we actually took a bus from the gate to the plane. Rhys actually loved the bus and made lots of friends with the adults he was standing by. (He wanted to hold onto the pole.) The last flight was really short and since we had already gone through customs we just got to leave. The baggage claim area was inside security so we had to get our luggage ourselves, but we were lucky and they had the little luggage carts that we were able to get. Steven and I both had to push one, so I was really glad for the leash that we had Gavin on so he couldn't run away. I felt a little bad about it, but in the end it was worth having.
I think the hardest part of the whole trip was having 2 of our carry-ons break while we were traveling. The handle of our DVD case broke in Chicago and we actually had to throw it away because it had its nails hanging out of it and it wouldn't have gotten through security like that. So, we had to just carry it in our hands. And that thing is HEAVY! We did lean it on the little suitcase that rolled, but you had to hold on to it while you were rolling it, which hurt your hands. It was a pain. Then one of the boys backpacks had the zipper bust off when we were in Dublin. It was an older backpack, so it wasn't a total loss, but we ended up having to hold it closed while we carried it. So, Steven would have the rolling suitcase with the DVD case, the lap top holder, the Iron Man backpack and his jacket. I had my backpack with the other DVD case and our important file folder that has all the important paperwork we have in it, and my purse, Gavin's Precious, and Gavin in my arms. We tried having him walk, but he couldn't walk fast enough and he kept wanting to walk away from us. So, by the end of the trip both Steven and my arms felt like they were going to fall off. But, it was worth it to get all of our stuff over here. Hopefully on the way back Rhys and Gavin will both be big enough to walk and carry their own carry-ons. =)
Our friends Ben and Olivia came and picked us up from the airport, along with Olivia's Sister Larissa since we have so much stuff. They were able to get some car seats from a friend so Gavin and Rhys were safe. We went back to their place while Steven and Ben went to go get the contract signed and keys for the flat. Then it was time to see it.
We LOVE the flat. Its in a nice neighborhood with tons of kids. We saw a lot of them walking home from school and a lot were playing in this little play area we have right outside. Rhys really wanted to go play too, I was just way too tired to watch him properly, so he'll have to go another time. We have 3 locks on our door, so I will feel extra safe when Steven is studying in London for the month of January. It also has a T.V. and DVD player. We can't use the DVD player for our movies, but they have some at the library we'll be able to check out and watch. We did bring our playstation so we'll still be able to watch ours and its nice that we won't have to rent a T.V. to have to use.
The most interesting thing was us trying to figure out all the electric stuff. All of the outlets have switches next to them and so they don't work if you don't flip the switch. We also have an all electric flat, so even our Water heater is electric. I had wanted to take a shower last night, but we forgot to turn the heater on when we first got there, and there was no hot water when we tried. But, we were able to figure it out long enough for me to have a quick (extremely quick) bath. We both kind of laughed at ourselves. We're still figuring out the heaters, but its not too cold yet, so we've got a little bit of time. We might have to have Ben and Olivia come over and try and help us figure it out. =)
So, we were able to keep Rhys and Gavin from sleeping until a little after 7. They normally go to bed at 7:30 so we thought 7:15 was pretty good. Gavin was already asleep when I left the room and Rhys was quick to follow. Steven and I had planned on staying awake until at least 10, but we both were so tired we ended up going to sleep around 8:30. We set the alarm for 8 the next morning, but Steven kept hitting snooze. It was a little after 9 when we finally woke up. We ended up waking the boys up too. It was nice getting about 13 hours of sleep and much needed. Its amazing how tired I still am. I'm fine while we're doing things, but as soon as we sit down I have the desire to close my eyes. Hopefully that goes away soon.
I think we probably would have slept longer, but we had plans to have breakfast with Ben and Olivia. Then they've been helping us today to get things set up. Its been a little frustrating because we tried to set up a bank account, but they need us to bring in a Bill to prove that we live there. Then we tried to get internet, but they can't set up internet without a bank account because they only do direct pay. Then we tried to get phones, but we can't get a phone plan because we don't have any credit in the UK and there's a 95% chance we'd fail the credit check, which would then make our Credit look worse. So, we ended up getting some cheap Pay as you Go plans because we need to be able to call each other. Steven went out for dinner last night and it took him an hour. I was a little panicked knowing there was no way for me to get in contact with anyone if something had happened, so I really need a phone. Even if I don't use it. We figure that we can try for a plan in a few months if we decide we need something more. But who knows, maybe the pay as you go will be fine.
We had to buy our own sheets, pillows, and towels, but other then that everything we would need was already in the flat. That was a huge blessing! Oh, I do have a huge need to clean the flat before we really start to unpack things, but everything is in excellent condition. I just need to know that everything is good. It is a strange feeling going through all stuff in our flat because I keep feeling like someones going to walk in on me and get mad. I can't wait until the flat feels like ours and I'm not just going through strangers things. =)
I'm really excited about our new adventure. Its so crazy and fun and I hope that we can get everything figured out soon so that we can feel like we're getting our life back to normal.
I love you all and I hope that my LONG shpeel didn't bore you all to death. I'll keep you all up to date with the happenings of what's going on and hopefully I'll be posting pictures soon. =)