On Saturday I flew with the kids to Denver. The Ball & Chain had taken off the day before, for two days of peace and quiet, I mean, for the two day drive. The car was so packed when he left that we had grave doubts about fitting the four of us in when he picked us up at Denver airport. But I'm ahead of myself.
All went well in that everyone was ready by 10am on Saturday. I only had to yell for about half an hour to get them out of Pjs and into civvies. (Mind you, I sometimes can't tell when they're dressed as it all looks like "lounge clothing" to me.) I had put all the plants in bowls and various watering containers the previous night, which is just as well, since the bowl I placed on the dining table had a bit of a crack in it. Ten minutes later my new-ish dining table was awash. If I had not discovered that, the table top would have probably looked somewhat "rustic" on our return.
Got to the airport with time to spare, (where were those long security lines/queues?), and sat down for the wait. We were travelling South West Airlines, if that means anything. They are a "no frills" airline, and win many awards for service, on-time arrivals etc, but I always find it a tad stressful as the seating isn't assigned. In former years, it was purely first come first served, so to stand a chance of sitting next to another family member, you had to turn up about three hours before the flight, queue for a number, which then gave you a place in the boarding queue. The problem was that, if your number was past about 50, and you didn't have a child under 4 that gave you priority boarding, the chances of you sitting next to anyone you were travelling with was slim to none. These days, you can check in online 24 hours in advance - and not a second sooner 'coz I've tried it. My particular problem on Friday was that my three kids seemed to be on one confirmation number, and I had my own. This meant that I had to open two internet windows and try to check in simultaneously to get all of us the same kind of number. (I was looking for a number in the A section, as this usually means I can at least sit next to my 5 year old.) As soon as my computer clocked clicked over to noon, I clicked on one box, closed the window then clicked on the second box. Yes - better than winning a raffle prize (which I never do). We were all given numbers in the A section, although my kids were 37-40 and I was number 42. I was looking forward to meeting the quick-fingered person who'd snagged number 41.
So there we were, sitting at the gate, eating the sandwiches and other rubbish I'd brought. The two hour flight was at noon and my kids would have starved to death you understand, if food wasn't readily available. The oldest son (a big chappie) told me he was going to get something to eat, my puny ham sandwiches not being up to par. Crediting him with far too much common sense, I imagined he'd go to the nearest sandwich kiosk since it was almost time to board. When will I learn? He went to the farthest end of the terminal and stood in the longest burger queue/line on the planet.
It was at about the same time that they started to annouce boarding - in the ticket number order you were allocated at check-in. Great - where was he? We were going to lose our hard won seat-choosing status. Aagghh! I dashed about the place, muttering murderous threats and generally making myself look like an insane airport terminal woman. Finally I had the tannoy lady annouce throughout the airport that he had to meet his mother at Gate 8. I knew that would destroy his street cred and have him rushing back in a fit of indignation, but it's no more than he deserved. Alas, he had his bloody I-pod headphones in so didn't even hear the annoucement.
I instructed the Queenager to board with the little one and try to save us two seats somewhere close. They don't like you saving seats but if she just said "My mother's lost my brother" it might evoke some sympathy. On the other hand, they were just as likely to boot the two of them off the flight to wait for me. They do that in restaurants here. If your whole "party" isn't there when you want to sit down, they make you wait until everyone has arrived. Anyway, just as they were beginning to allow the "B" group to board, the prodigal son sauntered up, straight into the worst tongue-lashing he's had in a while. I'm sure I was over-reacting, but like I said, the SouthWest boarding procedure has me tense anyway. Flashing our "A" boarding passes, I rushed to the front of the queue, dragging him like a 10 year old instead of the 5'10" teenager he is.
We did manage to get three seats together, with the errant son choosing to sit by himself and pretend he didn't have to travel with his mother and siblings. Whatever.
Unfortunately, we still didn't take off on time, as there appeared to be one passenger too many. They checked throughout the plane to make sure there weren't any "lap babies" actually sitting in a seat. (Since they travel free, they have to sit on a parent's lap, with no seatbelt. Nice.) They made another few calls for various passengers who didn't materialize, then we taxied off. The queenager was a bit nervous at tht blatant security breach, but I reasoned with her that the chances of terrorists being interested in a small group of Chicago skiers headed for Denver was minimal. Having said that, Chicago politicians are in the news at the moment, so I could have been woefully naive there.
Anyway, we are all now safe and sound. It's very high up here (more than 9,000 feet) so the two boys presented me with very nose-bloodied pillows this morning, the kids had incorrect ski passes handed out, so we had to wait about fifteen hours to get that corrected (slight exaggeration), and the two older kids didn't bring a single pair of gloves with them despite me pointing to a pile on the hall floor and telling them to pick out the ones they wanted to wear.
And we haven't even been here 24 hours!!!