Hooray - we landed in Israel. The kids clapped (actually everyone clapped - do people do that on landing in other places?). We waited to get off the plane last (we still had a bunch of bags and 3 little kids). Eli was really helpful in carrying a back pack and wheeling a carryon luggage piece throughout all our transfers and airport treks. He only complained a bit at the end that he was tired - and I do not blame him at all - he still helped like a trooper. We made it through passport control smoothly as well (hooray for getting student visas in NY in advance... oooh - more successful advanced planning!) although while we were on line Yonah and Tamar started to get silly and run around in circles clearly annoying the half of the crowd that were not distracted by how adorable they were or how appropriate that reaction to being cooped up for hours and sleep deprived should be... fortunately - the clerk at the passport stand was in the group that was impressed with the adorable factor (also surprised that we were Masorti and not reform.... hmmm).
Since we were the last off the plane - spotting our luggage was easy and even though we have never travelled with this much luggage before - we got it faster than ever. OK - another adventure begins... at Newark - an attendant came to curbside with a big wagon and packed up ALL our bags while we took the kids, AND Ian's parents were with us. Here - we had to get out of the luggage area and find our driver (my mom arranged a car service with a giant van that could take us all and all the luggage) on our own, with only the tiny airport carts to help. OK - we managed to get it all into 4 carts... but only 2 grownups! Eli took one cart - he was so cute! The luggage was piled up higher than him so he really could not see where he was going and it was heavy so difficult to steer - but manage to do it he did. (Each time he almost crashed into a little old lady or a baby I felt compelled to yell at him to look where he was going - but that was more my nerves being shot than him being irresponsible. When did he turn into such a little man? (cue the Fiddler music?) ... OK so Eli took one, and then Yonah and Tamar tried the next cart - but Yonah just wanted to run with it and Tamar wanted to zig zag or have a ride... at first Ian and I tried to corral them by sandwiching their wagon between each of our own trying to steer for them - while Eli went ahead on his own (I also had to keep yelling to prevent him from getting too far ahead). Then Ian and I started bikeriung about how to manage Yonah and Tamar - who were quite out of control with the wagon - so that I ended up carrying Tamar and pushing my wagon with one hand - and Ian somehow got between the 2 remaining wagons and navigated with both of them while also getting Yonah to take a ride on the back... so we get out of the luggage area and find the guy with our name - actually we pushed the carts right passed him until Eli said something like "hey - that man has a sign that says 'Chefir-Teran', that sounds a lot like our name - but its different"... so we turned all 4 wagons around and made our way back to the spelling challenged driver (with all kids in tow) and he took one look at us and said (in Hebrew) "all that luggage? I hope it will fit!" and we said "we do too". He said - follow me, and took off (with one wagon) at high speeds across the arrivals hall to an elevator. so now Ian only had one wagon and Yonah, but we took another 10 or 15 minutes to dodge all the people and catch up to the driver.... It was a scene that the videographer should have captured for comic relief - but alas, it was not to be. (He did make me promise to take lots of video pics, but my hands were not free!)
We all fit easily into the van (amazing how much extra room there is when the driver neglects to bring car seats or booster seats!) and we were off to Jerusalem. Some intra-child bickering in the car... ok some intra-adult bickering too, but as we reached higher altitudes and entered the mountains around Jerusalem - the van quieted down and I suspect we each drifted into our own thoughts (or exhaustion).