In a nutshell: we made it.
The last week is kind of a blur. The day before we left seemed to just run itself; I got up, the kids got up, Asnat came over, Ada came over, I packed and cleaned and packed, Yehudis and her sister came to help, and then in the afternoon the friend who was driving the U-haul with all our stuff turned up and MHH and I loaded that. We have some cute pictures of the kids clambering around inside the empty U-haul, and then of the truck packed with our stuff.
The morning we left was a little surreal. Barak woke up at 6:10 and was next to my bed, where I was half-awake and nursing the baby, saying, "Imma, are we going to Israel this day?" I told him we were but not quite yet. I remember thinking that I should have asked Asnat to come earlier than 9, since we were leaving at 10:30, but it was fine; the kids all got baths, got dressed except for the matching tie-dyes I bought them for the trip, and ate: I think they all had oatmeal for breakfast. I broke down the pack and plays and shoved them along with our bedding into the last piece of luggage. The friend driving the U-Haul turned up, the friend driving us came, and all of a sudden it was really time to leave; I went out the front with the kids and got them into their carseats, then went back to check on my husband who was going with the Uhaul--and realized as I walked through the house that he was about to leave with both carryons still sitting on the couch and the bag with the pack and plays on the bedroom floor. Let him know to load them, went back out the front, into the car, and we headed off to the airport.
The unloading and checking-in of the half-ton of luggage went amazingly well. The guy at the counter complimented me on my baggage: "Wow, every single thing is 49.5 pounds!" Except for the one piece I knew would be overweight, which I had expected to have to pay for and did. It was quite a production, but we did it and then headed off through security and to the play area we'd told the kids we'd get a crack at. Then off to gate F19. Then onto the plane to Philadelphia. Two hours, easy flight. Four-hour layover in Philadelphia, spent mostly in the play area, eating crackers and the kids playing with the new Playmobil they'd opened on the first flight. I scouted out the gate to the flight to Israel, easily spotted by the extra security screen and the obvious bunch of Jews sitting around. At around 7:30 we headed that way, went through the second round of security, and got on the plane with a minimum of headache; eleven hours later, we'd eaten all our snacks, everyone had slept at least a little (Barak didn't fall asleep until we were over Greece, watching Ratatouille and Finding Nemo over and over instead) and we were in Tel Aviv. I am pleased to report a trip completely free of vomit or other disasters; everyone except the baby made it in the same clothes. (She peed all over herself and me during a living-dangerously diaper change on my lap. Oh well.)
We landed, we got off, we got down the long ramp at the airport and found the phone to call Misrad Ha'pnim, and were met by a lady with very high laced-up sandals who kept deciding to push my jogging stroller and then walking away from it without locking the brakes. They told us all to get on a bus to the old airport, and it was us, a family from Montreal, and a single guy with big payos. In the old terminal, up some stairs, into the arrivals lounge or whatever they call it, and then processing with a very nice Misrad Ha'pnim rep who spent half her time talking to me and half smiling at the baby. I did the paperwork while MHH fielded the kids, Barak asleep in the stroller and the other two boys happily demolishing the bags of candy handed them by staff. (Seriously. Bags of candy for the kids. BIG bags.) Back to the main airport, by the same bus; got two guys with trolleys and all 23 pieces of luggage (including carseats); through the exit to find OneTiredEma and family smiling, waving, and holding a Welcome Home sign. When OTE offered to meet us at the airport I just thought it would be nice to have a welcoming committee; as it turned out it made all the difference between what would otherwise have been total misery and an arrival that was about as smooth as it could possibly have been. Taxman dealt with the taxi/luggage guys for us in Hebrew, OTE held the baby for me while I put in the carseats, and when Taxman realized that there was no one there at the other end to help us with our mountain of luggage, they all followed us in their car to help unload--and then supplied us all with pizza and popsicles. Amazing. As MHH said, "Wait. Who are they? You've never MET these people?" "She's a blog friend." He shook his head. "You and your blog friends. Wow."
Made the beds, put the kids in them, unpacked, took a shower; sat on the couch, ate more now-cold pizza, looked at my husband, and we both grinned. We made it. We're home.