We are home!!  22 travel hours, lots of time spent standing in security lines, much boredom later we made it back to St. Louis.  It feels so good to be home.

8:00 am Thursday morning in Australia, so Wednesday night in the US, we headed out the door on our way to the airport.  Unfortunately, Quantas, for such a large airline, did not have adequate representatives checking people in so the line was very long.  We made it through faster than I thought we would and headed towards security.  But, before we got to security we had to say goodbye to Lorne.  It was tough saying goodbye knowing it was going to be a whole month before he would be coming home.  Maya did really well saying goodbye, which was helpful.  I didn’t have time to be sad since I had security to get through. Security was quick and easy at the Brisbane airport (can I just say how friendly and helpful the security people in Australia are, so refreshing) and in a flash we were on our way to our gate.

Once we boarded the aircraft I quickly realized that the seats we had chosen, thanks to a seatguru.com recommendation, were horrible.  We opted for seats towards the back of the plane because it meant we would get a row to ourselves.  Maya’s seat, the window seat, was pretty good.  She had a bunch of space between her and the window where she could stand up and look out the window while stretching her legs.  My seat, however, was horrible.  There was a huge box under the seat in front of me which meant I had no where to put my feet or my carry on bag.  Not to mention the fact that a very large man sat in the seat in front of me and reclined his seat for the whole flight.  And, because of his size he pushed his seat practically into my lap.  His seat was pressed, painfully, against my knees for the whole flight.  Being near the back was good in that we were close to the potty for my frequent need to use it.  But, it is also a popular gathering spot for those walking the cabin to stretch their legs, which meant that it was loud, the whole flight.  It made sleeping a bit tough for me.  But, we suffered through and made it to LA in one piece and without any major meltdowns.

Arriving in LA had always been the part of the travel that I was most nervous and anxious about.  I knew that in LA I would have to go through customs, gather my luggage, go through security, recheck my bags and then go through security again to enter the domestic terminal.  It had the potential to be very difficult and stress inducing.  Customs was a breeze.  I hadn’t expected it to be a problem since I had all our paperwork and there was nothing unusual about our trip or what we were bringing home with us.  Gathering our bags was a bit time consuming.  Even after being one of the last people off the plane, stopping for a potty break and going through customs it still took another 20 minutes for our bags to show up.  Luckily, they did have luggage carts available. I had been really worried about that since I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage all our stuff on my own without one.  After we finally got our bags, carseat and stroller we headed through security.  The line was long but moved quickly.  We made it through without having to stop to have our bags searched, which was nice.  After rechecking our bags to be loaded on our flight to St. Louis we headed to the domestic terminal.  As soon as I walked up the stairs towards the security check point I knew the easy part was over.  There was a sea of people for as far as I could see.  The line to get through security was ridiculously long.  It ended up taking us an hour and a half to finally make our way to the front of the line.  The TSA agents were extremely unhelpful. Very different from my experience in Australia.  After at first waving me through a very bitchy TSA agent decided to call me back and put me in the infamous glass booth.  I stood in the glass booth with Maya for about 5 minutes when another, much friendlier TSA agent, came over and said he just had to swab my shoes.  A couple of minutes later he returned with my shoes and told me I was free to go.  Still not sure why I ended up in there, if an alarm went off, or if I was just unlucky number whatever who required further screening, but at least it was over quickly.

The nice part about it all taking so long was that we only had 3 hours to kill until our next flight instead of 5. Maya did really well through all the hold ups, well as good as can be expected from a 3 year old.  She got antsy but managed to entertain herself, and those around us, with some singing and dancing :)  We killed the 3 hours in LA walking around the terminal, eating some lunch and watching movies (Maya) and playing on the internet (me).  Before we knew it, it was time to board our flight to St. Louis.

The flight to St. Louis felt so short compared with the 13 hour flight from Australia.  By the time we took off, got our complimentary beverage and took a little nap it was time to get ready for landing.  Arriving in St. Louis felt so good. It was nice to know we were finally home and had made it all in one piece.

The flight home, in many ways, was easier than the flight to Australia.  I knew what to expect, and so did Maya, so we were able to suffer through a little better this time around.  I learned a few things on the flight over that I was able to use to make this flight easier.  I knew not to look at my watch very often because doing so would only make the time go by slower, or at least feel like it was.  I knew what to pack in our carry on to keep us both entertained, the things that worked best the last time around.  I knew the best thing to do when Maya’s attitude started to go downhill was to make her sleep (it worked every time!).  All of which made the day, although still extremely long, not so horrible.

Maya was so happy when we walked through the door of our house.  She walked around all evening and all the next day saying “Mommy, I love home!” and getting super excited about every single one of her toys.  The kitties have been much loved since our return.  They try to make it seem like they could care less, but since they are always hanging out in whatever room Maya is in, I know they secretly love it.  We’ve been settling in nicely and haven’t suffered too much from jet lag.

Home Sweet Home.  There is just something so nice about being home.  No matter how much fun we had on our little adventure and how wonderful Australia was ,there truly is no place like home.

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