1. The Lists
--I immediately began writing lists for packing. I like to categorize things into smaller lists to insure that I am not overwhelmed, and that we forget less. My categories: girls, Joel, twins, dad and mom, swim stuff, toiletries, food, electronics, and misc. Once I had it all written out, I put it on the dining table so that David or I could add to it if the need were to arise. I always, ALWAYS pack each thing first before I mark it off the list. A few times in the past I have marked something off while on my way to go get it, got sidetracked, and never actually ended up packing it.
2. The Bags
--Something different that we tried this time was packing according to our stops. Normally the girls' would have shared a bag, Joel and the twins would have shared...you get the point. For this trip, we packed a bag for each hotel stop that included all the clothes, pajamas, shoes and diapers that everyone needed for that particular stop. That way, we wouldn't have to unpack ALL of our luggage at EVERY stop. It worked out great, and even helped with space because when we were finished with a particular bag, it became the dirty clothes bag for that stop. We packed the twins their own duffle bag that would be brought in every time. So basically, at each hotel stop we only had to unpack the twins duffle, crib, family bag for that particular stop, toiletries bag, nursing pillow, and the kids' pillows and blankets. Also, David did not have to reload ALL the luggage every time. Just those things we took in. It worked really well for us.
--The night before we left, when we were doing our packing frenzy, we realized that we needed to get some things from Wal-mart. We enlisted the help of our good friend to sit at the house after the children went to bed so that David and I could run our errand. Bonus: She did some packing and cleaning while we were out! We are so thankful for good friends. What a blessing!
--David made some copies of car games that he found which included Car Battleship, Vacation BINGO, and Tic-Tac-Toe. We also bought a portable DVD player with double screens to help stave off the boredom. The children each chose a certain number of movies, and we transferred them to a CD case that could easily fit in a pocket in the back of one of the seats. We brought minimal books, toys, and crayons as well. We chose things that would be easy to have in the vehicle.
--David came up with the idea of rearranging the carseats in the Yukon. He made sure that each baby had a big girl in the seat beside them in order to help with pacifiers, blankets, and entertaining. It worked out pretty well except for when the big girls were watching a movie when the babies needed something. Then they didn't want to stop watching their movie, and just got frustrated with the babies. They did, however, learn a lot about entertaining a baby on a long trip.
--One particular thing that I did was make sure that the dresses that the girls and I chose for the memorial were fabrics that would not have to be ironed. That way they could just be packed right in the bag, and hung up when we got to the hotel in Mesa. I was so glad when the time came to get everyone ready!! Only had to iron the boys' shirts.
--We let Rachel or Miriam have the camera a few times. They were entertained by taking pictures of their siblings, and got some great pictures from their own perspective.
--We saved soooo much money by taking sandwich stuff for lunches and our own snacks! It also gave us the opportunity to stop at some nice parks and let the kids run off some energy.
--It was important for us to be a little less strict about things such as how many movies they were watching, yet a little more strict about certain behaviors such as little ones holding a grown up's hand at all times in certain places. Also, explaining what we were going to do, and what behaviors we expected before going into any building or site.
It was definitely an adventure. David and I both agreed that we never would have planned a trip like this on our own with our children the ages that they are (10, 7, 5, 2, 4 months, 4 months). However, we are thankful that we took the time to go, as we were able to see family that we haven't seen in a long time, as well as be there for David's grandfather as he mourned the loss of his loving wife. We are so thankful to have been able to take part in that. We had a blessed time and we will remember it forever!