We caught only a few hours of sleep as we readied for our departure this morning. Suitcases were packed and everything readied.
Niko arrived promptly at 4:00am to gather our luggage and all of us. It was still bitter cold (-20C/-4F) outside but the skies were dark and clear. With the girls and us all bundled up, we headed out for the airport to catch the 6:30am flight to Munich, Germany.
|Check In line|
|Just in from the cold, bundled to our noses!|
As we were about to check in, Lee realized his wedding band was missing. Talk about your stomach suddenly feeling sick. He had gotten a rash under his ring, so he wasn't wearing it. We thought it was probably on the bathroom shelf back in the apartment. At this point, we had already returned our in-country phone so we couldn't call. I didn't have phone numbers to even use our costly US phones. It was FB and email... that's it.
I posted a note that we had lost the ring, and a couple of folks jumped in to help and pray. Phone calls were made to Niko and we had people looking for it in a matter of an hour. In the meantime, we were boarding our plane and hoping to hear something when we got to Munich.
By this time, the girls were getting hungry, so we broke out the bananas to feed them. Poor Lindsay (now Hannah) has a big challenge with food. She must eat and she must eat NOW. We had to interrupt her breakfast so we could board the bus to take us to the plane. Poor thing began a loud meltdown right in the middle of the line and all the way to our seats. I felt sorry for all the other passengers as I could read their faces.... many wondering if they were going to have to ride next to that screaming child the entire time.
I was glad that I didn't ditch the coats and pack them at the check-in counter. We had to go outside, catch a bus, and ride out to our airplane. Then we had to stand out in the cold while we waited our turn to go up the steps. Once we finally made it to our seats, we were able to finish feeding the girls and Lindsay finally settled down with a full tummy - two bananas and one cinnamon danish later. She was quiet and calm for the rest of the trip.
Once everyone was situated and ready to leave, the pilot announced that it was too cold outside for the effective rating of the de-icer liquid. We would have to wait until sunrise and see if the temperature rose at least 2 degrees so we could take off. We had to wait about 45 minutes to an hour before we could leave.
Finally, about an hour after we had boarded, we were cleared for takeoff. And away we went. We had a three-hour layover in Munich, so our late departure wasn't too big a deal. We still had wiggle room in the schedule. The first flight went remarkably well, considering our rambunctious beginning.
Just before we were about to descend into Munich, Lee suddenly realized that he DID have his wedding ring. He had put his ring into his money pouch for safe keeping, but with the stress and being tired, he didn't remember it. What a huge relief! (Once we got to Dulles, we were able to get online and let the folks back in Kiev know that we found the ring.)
We had time to grab some lunch at the airport and some coffee for me. While we were finishing up, we heard our names called to report to our gate. That threw us off since we still had at least an hour before departure and we were fairly close to our gate. We hustled over to the gate and had to go through a passport and security check. That took quite a bit longer than everyone else did since we had two little ones who were traveling with us and they had Ukrainian passports with a entry visas. By the time that was all done, we still had to get seat assignments at another counter. The lady at the counter was super-helpful and got our seat assignments. We has requested bulkhead seating since we had little ones, but there weren't seats available. She said the flight wasn't booked so she gave us seats in two rows with a seat between. What we didn't know was that we had been bumped up to the better version of Economy class! We had bigger seats, more leg room, and a seat to share! It was so nice! Hannah was a happy camper since there was more than enough food to go around.
The girls did fantastic on the long transatlantic flight. They were so quiet. Other kids in behind us made more noise than they did. They slept a little, but not very much. The crew was fantastic and kept checking on us. They even gave the girls their first little airline wings pins!
|Hannah - One tired girl. (See my Wings pin?)|
|Naomi - Always smiling! (I got Wings, too!)|
We arrived on-time into the US at Washington DC. It really seemed rather poetic that the girls would be receiving their official entry stamp for American citizenship right in our nation's capital city. We navigated the airport to our next gate and found that our flight would be delayed about an hour. No big deal. We were Stateside and it didn't really matter anymore at that point. We could finally use our cell phones again and call whomever we wanted.
We finally boarded our last flight and buckled in. Only 3 hours and 20 minutes to our final destination! We were all exhausted and running on fumes. The plane took off and I don't think we cleared the ground anymore than about 5 minutes before all 4 of us fell fast asleep. We awoke when the pilot announced that we would begin our initial descent into Austin. Holy cow! We all slept for 3 solid hours!
Since we were sitting in the last row of seats, we were the last ones off the plane. We ventured our way down to baggage claim to meet our family and friends that were waiting for us. I was tearing up at the thought of having all our kids together again. We passed the escalator and we could see everyone waiting for us downstairs. We could hear our kids screaming with glee when they saw us! The gentleman at the kiosk there commented, "Sounds like someone down there's excited to see you!" If he only knew half the story, he'd know there were no truer words spoken!
We came down the elevator and when the doors finally opened we were rushed by our little ones! My goodness they'd grown while we were gone! And, oh! The hugs were amazing and the kisses were even sweeter! Sarah kept saying, " I misted you so much!" And yes... she said "misted". Nathan was really happy to see Daddy and I thought Joseph was going to tackle us to the ground with his huge hugs!
|Elevator opens and the hugs and tears commence!|
A dear lady named Whitney who has a heart for orphans and adopting families had volunteered to take the homecoming pictures for us. And she did an absolutely fantastic job! If you are on Facebook, you can see her pictures of our family at The Archibald Project - Eubanks Homecoming . You can read more about their mission and at The Archibald Project.