Ummm... to say I am exhausted is an understatement! LOL! Let's go back a bit & catch ya'll up.
So, we got to the airport in the capitol at just before 4am. The driver seemed to gouge me on the drive to the airport, but I paid the man and didn't argue, even though the guy who picked us up from the airport the first night in the capitol charged a fraction of what this driver charged. He said ti was a standard fare and I was too tired to fight with him.
Anyway, Griffin was being great! I went through border control... this lady that I had to deal with looked like she was an Olympic weightlifter in the past, and she knew one phrase, "Give me your adoption documents!" At first she was reaching for the seal on the packages that the embassy said don't let anyone open. I point to where it was written in Russian that they could only be opened by US personnel, so this was the exchange:
Her: "Give me your adoption documents."
Me: "Which documents would you like to see, ma'am."
Her: "Yes, give me your adoption documents."
Me: "I understand you need to see my documents, which documents do you need?"
Her: "Yes, give me your adoption documents."
Me: "Listen ma'am, I have 5000 documents here, which ones would you like to look at?"
Her: "Yes, give me your adoption documents."
Me: "Obviously you've had a lobotomy, right? Here are ALL of my documents."
(No, I did not ask her if she had a lobotomy... that was a given after our conversation... or lack there of)
She read every single page. The court decree, the birth certificate, the medical papers, she looked at the x-ray (like she really knew what she was looking at), she read (or at least played like she was reading) our home study & apostilled documents that I brought. She compared the original & certified copy of the the court decree... she was VERY interested. Finally, she stamped our passports, pushed the now less than neatly stacked pile of papers back through the tiny opening in the window & motioned us to security.
Okay, I need to stop and complain here for a second. A couple of things really got me about security in the airports I had to travel. First, if the stroller gets x-rayed at the first airport, and I would totally understand having to get it scanned again if we left the "sterile" environment of the airport, but if we remain under the watchful eye of Big Brother the entire time, only getting on and off the plane, why does the stroller need to be scanned again? I mean, come on? At what point could I have disassembled the stroller & packed it with explosives... when it was under the plane from the gate check? Seems odd to me. Next, military guys travel with a lot of gear. Plus if we are in uniform (like the Army is all the time) getting in and out of the pieces of the uniform is a pain. Why would an airport place a USO (military oasis in airports around the world) outside security? This seems counter productive to making the serviceman's life easier during travel. Chicago has a USO, and we were going to use it, had it not been on the outside of the security machines. No way was I going through that again... not to mention, the lines for security at Chicago O'Hare are ASTRONOMICAL!
Okay, anyway, we were at the gate in the capitol and I figured I needed to get Griffin's juice set up and ready. So, I walk in to Costa Coffee. I grab a juice & a water, all the while my backpack is grabbing the candy bar rack! Yup... bickity-bam... down goes the candy rack! I tried to catch it & one other guy tried to help too, but hey, my backpack gave his daughter's something to do! LOL! he had them pick up all the candy & reorganize it. They seemed more than happy to do it, and Costa Coffee gave them each a candy bar for doing it! That was nice of them. I was going to buy them one for helping me out, but since the store gave them one, I felt that was plenty. We got on the plane and an English speaking lady sat beside me, Griffin was by the window. She grabbed the flight attendant as she passed in under her breath she said, "I think I need another seat, he looks like he might be loud." She had to have known that I could hear this. Anyway, the plane was full & she had to stay sitting there. I almost wished Griffin would have been loud on this flight, but he was a perfect angel! She commented on how good he was as we taxied to the gate at Munich. I said thank you. wanting to say that the flight would have been better if she'd have moved though, but I refrained.
We get to Munich, and I go back through security... yeah. I get to the other side & have to go to the United counter since they capitol airport could only issue my tickets from there to Munich. The lady at the counter told me I'd get my tickets at the gate. So, I walk to my gate. We have like a 4 hour layover here, so we grab some breakfast & make our way down to the gate. The Indian girl was barely comprehensible due to her accent & my sleepy ears, but I answered all her questions & go through ANOTHER security checkpoint, complete with x-rays & throwing away of the orange juice & apple juice I just bought! Grrrr! We get though this one & go to the gate counter. The ladies there were in love with Griffin immediately & gave us an upgrade to Economy+... more leg room & only 2 people to a 3 seat row. Score! We wait around & call Maria and such. When it was time to board, we got questioned if the stroller we have was a Lufthansa stroller... I guess because the colors they though it belonged to the airline. I assured them it was mine & we got on the plane. While everyone was filing in, I fed Griffin his parsnips! He still loved them. As soon as he was done eating, I gave him juice that I talked the flight attendant in to bringing him, and he was done! He crashed out & I didn't hear from him till about 2 hours from landing. He woke up refreshed & ready to play, but unfortunately, there is only so much you can do on a plane. When he would get frustrated, he'd let out one loud scream, then he'd calm back down. There were maybe 4-5 of those screams during the last 2 hours.
We got to Chicago, we went through customs and here's where I thought I'd have a problem. US Customs & Immigration Service. We have what is called an IR-3 VISA for Griffin, meaning that he was pre-approved to be a US citizen upon landing in the US. I thought this process would be difficult, but the guys there in Chicago that I dealt with were awesome, knew their job, and were more than willing to help. The guy at the counter walked me past the entire line that everyone has to wait in after they claim their checked baggage. He said if I couldn't find a skycap to take my luggage for me when I was done, to have the agent call station 14 & he'd come drag my suitcase for me! What a guy! Anyway, I breezed through this, they opened his paperwork and did what they had to do. less than 15 minutes after landing at Chicago, our son was a US Citizen... we got the stamp to prove it!
After the USCIS stuff, we made our way through security AGAIN, and found or gate. We had a 7 hour layover here. Ugh! I went to the United counter to see if they could get us on anything earlier, but they could not. The girl who took care of us at the counter was of the same nationality as Griffin, so she talked to him in Russian a bit & gave us $40 in food vouchers since she couldn't reroute us. Stinks that we had to wait, but free dinner was awesome! I tried to get Griffin a couple scrambled eggs at Johnny Rocket's, but the grill guy didn't know how to cook eggs??? Yet folks are supposed to trust that you know how to cook a burger? Uh... right. I fed him some soup from Wolfgang Puck, but he wouldn't touch my salad. Don't blame him... it was kind of bland.
Our gate was used for gate reassignment all afternoon, so there was always someone coming over yelling about how badly they had it cause they had to move from C20 down to C24. Uh, get over it guy! We watched about 8 planes process through, and everyone of them had people with bad attitudes, cussing the workers and such. What a thankless job. Like that person at the gate can control the planes, or the weather, or the myriad of reasons the planes were delayed. Griffin didn't like it either and couldn't rest well. He crashed when we finally got on our plane... about 30 minutes delayed too. We got to New Orleans, got our bag, got our rental car & took off for a hotel just outside of New Orleans toward Slidell, but still on the South Shore of Pontchartrain. We got checked in at about 2:30am, and of course, Griffin was wired for sound! I, on the other hand, was beat! I had to get up and give him a bath to try to calm him down. Finally, I just threw my arm over him and listened to him clapping while I drifted off to sleep. He did finally fall asleep sometime, but I don't know exactly when.
See ya'll tomorrow!