Easter 2019: Ohio is Always Home

Now as a Penn State graduate, I always have had torn when it comes to being from the Buckeye state. Going to Ohio this past weekend proved to be most interesting of weekends. I had the chance to visit my grandma and take my family along for an amazing road trip.

The last time I was in Ohio my older two kids were 1 and 3. I highly doubt they remember everything about that previous trip. Seeing that they are now 7 and almost 10 and my youngest is 5, this trip had more of a meaning. They also have a great relationship with my grandma that is fostered by her several trips to Pennsylvania and weekly phone calls, and letters.

So how do you take 3 kids, your husband and pray that no one gets bored?


I have a master list for my kids clothes for when I pack. This helps me to focus for how long I will be away from home. I tailor it accordingly. It seems extra but it works for me. With that master list I can pack and make sure nothing is left. From medication to charging cords being organized helps me to calmly meet everyone’s needs. I tend to pack no matter what it’s for, days ahead. I had my kids all packed up at least 2 days ahead for this trip. This allowed me to calmly know things were in order without having that rushed feeling.

Now that my kids are getting older I am able to have them involved in the packing. Yes it’s easier to pack it myself but it’s even better when they can get their own items and bring it to me to place in the suitcase. Also I can teach them and make it fun. We put on music and made it into a freeze race at the same time. Each child raced until the music stopped and the child with the clothes packed the most efficient won. Now I gave the perimeters but in order to win they had to listen.  It was fun to see who listened and who just wanted to be fast. If you know my kids you know who did what.

Before they knew they were packed and ready to go and got the chance to get that extra energy out. They slept like babies that night.

I swear by them but packing cubes are my favorites.

This is the one I bought from


What’s a road trip without food and drinks?! I got the kids 2 snacks I knew they liked. One snack for the adults and an assortment of water, flavored and regular and juice boxes. Now as I planned this trip life was still going on. Being under deadlines often I decided not to be martyr. Thanks to Target online shopping and pick up I was able to cut the time of gathering not only snacks but my last-minute needs into a one stop shop! I spent maybe 10 minutes online and we all know if I would have went into the store that I would have come out with things I didn’t need.

The day before I made sure to take a few bottled waters and place them in the freezer. I put the remainder drinks in the fridge. The drinks that were frozen were placed throughout in the cooler eliminating the need to buy packs of ice. I packed the snack bags up the night before, leaving only the beverages to grab and go the day of the trip! Plus the one thing I don’t want to do is spend my coin on rest stop snacks. The way my kids eat I have to be prepared at all times!


We rented a SUV to ensure between two suitcases, blow up beds, snacks, and growing kids it would be the best solution. It was the best idea. Not only did it allow us to test drive something we are thinking about getting in the future, it also allowed everyone to be comfortable. We didn’t want the kids to go stir crazy for the 5.5-6 hour ride. Eliminating as much tension as possible worked in everyone’s favor. No one was getting into the dreaded sibling spats.


There’s no way you can take kids anywhere and not have activities. I had the kids take their pillow pet pillows and they packed their own book bag filled with their favorite toy. I take pics of them with their bag and it’s contents so I can use that pic to compare to ensure the items come back. I find this works for everyone and no toys were left!! 5.5 hours is a long drive and it would be a lot to have my grandma mail things back! Also we also packed their kindles too. They didn’t use them as often as we thought and that was fine with us.

We also made playlists that were kid approved. Having great music on deck was helpful to pass the time as well as provide distractions along the way. The SUV also had Sirius. Between Pandora and Tidal, we were set!

Grandma Time

The remainder of the weekend we spent with grandma.  We enjoyed her company and went out to eat, and played. It was good for the kids and my husband and I to have that time. I did this as a birthday present to her. We celebrated her special day during the Easter weekend. We all had an amazing time hearing stories of how I was as a baby along with my twin and the stories of my mom and aunt as well.  My grandma has literally all of my baby pictures but with technology I took pics of my the pics and plan to duplicate them. I want to be able to look at them and they show how far I have come. I also was able to meet a few family members from my biological father’s side too. More to come on that at a later time.

All in all although we didn’t do church, or wear traditional dressy clothes, we were able to have an amazing Easter weekend. The Easter bunny still knew where the kids were so they enjoyed their Easter baskets! On the way back we even stopped at my husband and I’s college, Penn State. I mean it wasn’t out-of-the-way. I needed to get a new alumni window decal.  I would say it was definitely worth a stop and we even walked a bit on campus. We Are!

Regardless of anything I am super proud to be from Youngstown, Ohio! I am happy my mom made the decision to move when we were younger! It’s crazy how a lot of the older generation is slowly transitioning. It saddens me when I go to Ohio and the grandmas, uncles, and aunts I have grown up with are no longer home. I know life is short and I pray that we all take that into consideration and not waste our moments on things that do not matter.

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