We're back! And our return wasn't too bad. It all started with what we affectionately refer to as the "Orange Crayon Incident of 2010." Or maybe before that... Yes, now I remember, the whole week was bad because everyone felt sick. We had the whole nine yards of stomach flu starting Sunday and Ella and I were the only eluders. Most of my prayers throughout the whole week included pleas for no one vomiting on the airplane on Friday. The last few days were filled with last minute "must do before we leave" items and Wednesday night we stayed up late packing. Thursday morning we woke up early to start cleaning everything out. At noon we took some extra things over to a friend's house and were invited to lunch at the Tanguy's -- a nice family from church who had us over about four times -- so nice!! They had the usual French spread and it was delicious and my kitchen could stay clean. It was a win win, for us and us anyway. So my next step was to take all of the towels and bed linens, along with any other dirty clothes, to the laundromat so that we could get all of that done quickly. I left a couple of girls sitting with the laundry while I went home to scrub, scrub, scrub. I came back and saw that they had transferred everything to the dryer. Wonderful. I sat with them to wait. The buzzer went off and everything was still damp so I divided the load in half to use two dryers. As I started pulling things out I noticed there was orange crayon -- on everything! The day before I had seen Phin stuffing his pockets with random objects, but I had failed to empty them before washing and this was the result -- every single towel, sheet, duvet cover, and pillow case in the entire house now had some orange on it and it, of course, was never somewhere discreet. I just had to shrug my shoulders and be grateful that all of it was old and tattered in the first place. We will have to see what the owner says. I was disappointed because I was so excited to be leaving it in better condition than we found it. Not anymore. The girls took some of my leftover change to get in some more pastries while I wallowed in self-pity. Matthew took the girls and I to the train station in Toulon around 7:00 and we agreed to meet at the hotel near the airport in Nice. We arrived in Nice at 10, but then couldn't find a bus until 11:30. There was very little written information anywhere in the station and the decidedly UN-helpful information lady simply gestured with her hand saying, "Juste la." What exactly does she think her job description includes? Fortunately there was a kind portuguese lady who helped us find our way and a little after midnight we limped up to the hotel where Matthew was waiting anxiously in the lobby to let us in the door. Next morning we arose early to get ready, transport everything to the airport, turn in the car, and check in. Surprisingly it all went smoothly and we soon found ourselves once again pooling all of our leftover euros for the absolutely last french pastries. Mmmm. They were all successful choices. The flight to London was fine, and at Heathrow we all found something acceptable for lunch, with Lucy and I heading to a restaurant for fish and chips. The dreaded nine hour journey wasn't too bad. Phin did have a few screaming bouts which were unbearable for everyone within 300 feet, but eventually he took a little nap and was okay the rest of the time. Next was the three hour wait in Chicago for the bus with the girls sacked out on benches, Charles and Matthew watching Larry King, and Phin busily pushing luggage carts around in circles. Several passersby mentioned he was making them tired just watching him. It was late enough in Illinois for it to be funny (almost 10 p.m.) but the fact that it was nearly 4 a.m. where we had been made it even more bizarre. We arrived in Normal around 1 a.m. and our wonderful friend Chad met us at the bus with our van. Whew! Traveling always seems so grueling, but I suppose it isn't as bad John Adams three month journey across the ocean with huge storms and pirates with which to contend.
Now we're home, yea! And thinking our house is actually quite lovely and the shower downright decadent. And Happy Birthday to our baby! We slid right into the finish with the lap child thing.