Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to travel. I day dream pretty often about places I want to see, and experiences I want my family and I to have. We haven’t been anywhere as a family (other than our family cabin), because I have been nervous to travel with 3 little guys. Can they withstand a long car ride? How will we keep 3 kids quiet on an airplane? Will we all be able to sleep in the same hotel room? What if we forget….(fill in the blank)?? I’ve seen people do it, and I’ve heard success stories and tips for traveling with young ones, but I wasn’t sure how my kids would travel. 

Traveling can be very stressful for an adult, add in 3 kids under 5 and you might as well forget it! Well this year, we had motivation to try out the traveling with kids thing. My husband’s brother and his family are living in Pittsburgh for the next 6 months while he finishes up seminary ( I may have mentioned this before), and well seeing as how they are also some our best friends, we couldn’t go that long without seeing them. So we drove out to spend thanksgiving with them. And hey, might as well make a few extra stops along the way, right? Our first vacation as a family had us making stops in 4 states to visit with friends and family, as well as sneaking in some sights. My husband clocked our traveling at 9 days, 47 1/2 hours in the car and just over 3000 miles driven. Holy moly!!! Oh and I also took a little over 400 pictures. Yes, we had a great vacation. 

One thing that worked amazing for us was doing most of our driving thru the night, so the kids were asleep most of the car ride. Can I tell you how often I’m in the car with 3 kids and it is quiet?? Yes, we were tired after driving all night, but nothing a nap couldn’t cure once we reached our destination. We cut our drive to Pittsburgh into 2-11 hour car rides, making our first stop to see a dear friend of mine that I met in treatment and her beautiful family in Macon, MO.

 


My friend has a boy Noah’s age (5) and a sweet baby girl Liam’s age (1) so the kids got along great. They live on a farm, very different from Parker, CO! The kids played on farm equipment, pet cows and Noah even rode in a combine…he was reluctant at first, but in the end he was glad he rode it. He will tell you that he saw the combine pick up soy beans. We went out for pizza one night and they cooked steaks for us the next night, before we had to leave. I also stopped off at the winery in Macon, West Winery (amazing, amazing wine) for my first souvenir of the trip. 




After staying one night and 2 full days in MO, we were set for another 11 hour car ride to Pittsburgh, PA. The skyline after you get out of the tunnel as you arrive into the city of Pittsburgh is amazing!! So beautiful. And of course, we didn’t take pics. Oops. At that point, we were just anxious to get to Levi’s brother’s home. The neighborhood they live in is called Squirell Hill and is home to so many old homes, with so much history and character. And the parks…oh the parks! Lots of fun places for kids to roam, climb and play, while enjoying the views of so many historic homes and buildings. The kids played a lot at Frick Park, which was walking distance from the house. Another part of Pittsburgh I enjoyed was, being back on one way streets. Yes, I know, I need help 🙂 


My sister in law and I were able to sneak away, twice! For shopping, lunch and a “chocolate” break.  On our first outing, she took me to “downtown” Squirell Hill, where we tried French Pastries from a place called Gabi Et Jules, and then ventured to a coffee shop where we visited and caught up with each other’s lives. It was so nice!! I did buy a red coffee cup from the French Bakery, my second souvenir of the trip. From the bakery, I tried a vegan pumpkin pie tart-thingy, yes that was the official term for it, with candied ginger on top. It was phenomenal And we brought our husbands home some chocolate. Drooooooollllll.



On our second outing, we went to lunch at a little vegetarian cafe hugged between shops, and was hidden in the middle of the neighborhood. It really reminded me of the neighborhood behind our condo in Denver, CO. We each had grilled mushroom sandwiches with soup, and our special guest (her daughter, my niece) had a black bean and sweet potato quesadilla. Yum!! 



The kids played and played. Nerf gun wars, Christmas movies, Legos and doll play for 4 days straight. There was also a trip to the children’s museum in downtown Pittsburgh to celebrate a sweet little girl turning 5. 


Last, but not least, thanksgiving! My sister in law made the  juciest turkey and all the preparations were made for a dinner that lasted about 20 minutes….isn’t that how it always is!! This was one of my favorite Thanksgivings that I’ve ever had. Nothing fancy, just great company and tasty food. 


We were very sad to leave, but really enjoyed our time with these special people!! 


We left Pittsburgh the morning after Thanksgiving en route to see my cousin and his wife and children in Burlington, KY which was about 5 hours south west of Pittsburgh. More cousins to play with! It was a quick stop though, only a few hours with them, but we were able to share a meal together. My cousin is a pilot and stationed in Cincinnati, OH. He just made captain, so it was good to see him and catch up. 

The last stop on our road trip, was a stop we decided to make on a whim….Chicago, IL! I’ve never been to Chicago, neither had Levi, and being only 4 hours away from it while in KY, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least see the Windy City. And yes, it was windy…the whole time we were there! But we were able to “do” Chicago in one day, with three kids. We were so glad we stopped, as we didn’t know when we were ever going to be in that part of the country again. We got in to Chicago late Friday evening and stayed at the Marriot on Mag Mile. Super fancy!! We had a great view of the city from the 17th floor. The kids had never stayed in a hotel before, so this whole experience was new to them, and exciting! After grabbing yogurt, granola and coffee from the hotel coffee shop, we left the hotel a little before 9 am Saturday morning and never looked back.  


We walked all over Chicago, from Mag Mile, to Millenium park. The kids played at Maggie Daily Park and had a blast! We also saw the big Christmas tree in Millenium Park, as well as the huge marble. 




We tucked ourselves in the shops on State Street to keep warm while kids napped in strollers, and I even got my little brown bag from Bloomingdales, my last souvenir  of the trip. We also saw this crazy shop called Eataly, and it was just levels of gourmet foods and small cook ware shops. I could totally have spent hours in that place. Tables were set up in each part of the store and you could order food from that section, sit, chat and soak in all that’s around you! 


For lunch, we ate a place called Burrito Beach, and we had gourmet burritos and the kids had rice and beans. Leave it to the Friedly’s to find rice and beans in Chicago! My burrito was so delicious, with black beans, goat cheese and grilled kale and squash (their idea of grilled veggies). They actually pressed your burrito in their burrito warmer after they made it. Soooooooo good! Their salsas were pretty unique too. Need to let chipotle know they need to add goat cheese and kale to their menus back home 😉🤗



We saw a lot of  old buildings and history, well as much as we could anyway!! We visited the fire station, and took a tour of a fire truck. The kids were a little shy with the firemen! 




On our way out of the city we stopped for pizza to go! We grabbed few slices for the car ride home. We couldn’t leave Chicago without trying some pizza. We left Chicago around 5:00 in the evening and drove through the night. The kids slept the whole night, as we made it back home to Colorado about 8:00 Sunday morning. 


I told levi I wanted to head back one day, to see more of the city and do more of the things you can’t do with 3 kids, like eat at a restaurant right on the river! Or see a show, and go dancing. I love love the city, and I called Noah my city kid because he did so well!! He helped push strollers and just really took it all in. I hope we make it back someday soon. 



Until next time…

Have a fabulous day! 

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