Pack the toys, make sure they are by the seats. If they are not, someone is going to scream. Scream for the entire drive, scream past Witchita, scream through Texas. Put the toys in a box, the same box that will somehow catch spilled coke and juice. Pack trash bags. Pack baby wipes.
One, two, three suitcases Enough for 6 days plus any unforeseen nuclear apocalypse. "I didn't over pack," they will say. Unpack suitcase, take out winter coats, explain the beach doesn't need coats. Repack suitcase.
Pack the blue foldable wagon, the one from Costco. Pack the chairs, pack the umbrella, pack it all on top of the suitcases. Pack like I'm playing Tetris in the back of the van. Sit back and admire my handiwork. I am a packing God, the deity worshiped by all fathers going on a summer vacation. Wife comes out: "I forgot to put something in the suitcase." she'll say. "The suitcase at the bottom?" I say. She will smile, shrug her shoulders. Unpack the chairs, the umbrella, the blue folded wagon. Take out suitcase, unpack suitcase. Pack suitcase for the third time. Play Tetris, round 2--expert level.
Pack the cooler, the small soft sided one. Put water bottles in first, juice boxes second. Turn back and child will pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in there when I'm not looking. Unwrapped, underneath the water so it's nice and hidden from Dad. Add ice. Sandwhich will now be slimy and gross, mushed pieces clinging to the plasitc bottles, jelly floating like mines for my fingers. I will discover this mushed up sandwhich at our first bathroom stop, 1 hour into 8. Pack patience and mercy.
Pack the books, put them next to the seats. Put cargo carrier on top of van. Pack it with blankets, pillows, more toys but not toilet paper. Leave toilet paper on kitchen counter. Curse when you get to rental house and there is no toilet paper. Attempt to close cargo carrier. Fail. Get on ladder, rearrage, close again. Hold hands up in victory pose when successful. Wait for kids to take pictures of my awesomeness. Remember to pack kids.
Start car, smile at wife. Pull out of driveway, find some tunes. Turn around at first stopsign. Head back to house. Grab the phone chargers that are on the counter, next to the toilet paper. Pack chargers, go out to car.
Drive 15 minutes the wrong direction to pick up mother in law. Unpack back of van, find room for one more suitcase by sacrificing chicken and the blue wagon. Leave wagon by mother in laws front door. Get back in van, sigh, check time to insure we are an hour late from my scheduled start time for trip. Mother in Law asks where the kids are.
Head back to the house. Pack the kids.