We just got back from a three day stay in Pittsburgh. I could write a lovely travel post about all of the fun, family-friendly activities we did – Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Point State Park, PNC Park for a Pirates game, and a river boat ride!
Or, I could write about how despite our fun-filled itinerary, the kids complained their way through most of the Steel City, and by the third night I was done being patient and did a lot of yelling.
And, if you ask the kids what their favorite part of the trip was? They would surely respond, “The hotel pool!”
Nope. Won’t write about any of that. Instead, I am going to write about the insane amount of fried chicken tenders my children ate during our trip.
There is nothing like three days of traveling from hotel to hotel and restaurant to restaurant to make you realize just how picky your kids are. Due to their extreme pickiness, my children ordered chicken tenders at every restaurant we visited. My daughter even ate cold, left-over chicken tenders for breakfast one morning!
My husband and I love to dine out and try new places to eat, especially when traveling. When the children were little, we did this rather frequently. Then toddlerhood hit and the food throwing, screaming, and temper tantrums severely limited our choices of restaurants. We mostly did takeout or went to loud, diner-like places with floors that could be easily wiped up.
Now, that the kids are 4 and 6, it is a little easier to dine out. We tend to pick places that are on the louder side, and we always try to go before the dinner rush. I come prepared with stickers and coloring books, which sometimes distract them from bickering or jumping on the booth seats. The only problem is that my children are so picky that finding a meal they will actually eat proves quite challenging.
My son often ends up eating only bread and then will whine throughout the entire meal because we won’t order him a lobster!
My daughter is usually a little better with her food choices, but would rather tear off the paper from each crayon and scatter the tiny scraps all over the floor and table than actually eat her food.
Here is what I learned, along with some general observations, after three days of eating out with my children for every meal. (And why I’m actually glad to be home making meals in my own kitchen again. Something I thought I would NEVER say):
• Do NOT let your child pound a lemonade when you are only halfway to your destination. Yes, this is obvious. Yes, I just wanted to make him happy at the moment, and yes, I regretted it. This lemonade drinking resulted in multiple “emergency” stops along deserted roads, so my son could pee in a field.
• We mistakenly let my son bring his new dinosaur chomper into the restaurant after we visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Havoc ensued. Water glasses were almost knocked down, his sister screamed every time he put it near her, and several patrons were the victim of the T-Rex as he walked through the narrow aisles. The dinosaur was confiscated, which then resulted in loud complaining. Note to self: No dinosaur toys in restaurants!
• Why do children find the dirty floor underneath the restaurant table so fascinating? Seriously! Sit in your seat already! And, I don’t even know how many pieces of silverware ended up on the floor.
• The dot game! You know, the one where there is a grid of about 100 dots or so and you take turns drawing lines from dot to dot to see who can complete the most squares. I had forgotten about this game until we discovered it on one of the children’s menus on night two of our excursion.
My son loved it. He played it with me the entire twenty minutes it took for our food. Win! The next night at dinner, I drew one on a scrap of paper I found in my purse. Again, it was like magic! The beauty of this game is that you can create it on anything – an old receipt, a napkin, or your arm if you need to.
• My son has become so picky, that he no longer eats French fries! What!? He also recently started picking off the breading of his chicken tenders. I don’t even know where we go from here!
• The free continental breakfast at the hotel is inevitably the kids’ favorite meal. My kids wake up and demand food immediately. It is so easy to drag them down to the lobby and not deal with waiting at a restaurant or paying for a meal they don’t eat, so obviously this is a win for everybody. My kids were perfectly content with their carb loaded breakfast of Fruit Loops, waffles, and a muffin! I was happy that for one meal they were not eating chicken tenders, and I even managed to sneak in some fruit.
• I was actually excited that my daughter ate a hot dog at the baseball game we attended just because it was something different than chicken tenders. If this isn’t a mom fail, I don’t know what one is!
So, if you are curious about where we ate, here are two places that we really enjoyed in the city: Union Grill & The Yard. Both were relatively kid-friendly (loud with a kid’s menu and crayons) while having unique atmospheres with good food. And beer. We definitely needed a beer after a day of sightseeing with two kids.
And, of course, my children would highly recommend the chicken tenders at both of these establishments.