Disclosure: Diary of a First Time Mom is proud to partner with Denny’s as a #DennysDiners Blogger Ambassador.  Stay tuned for exclusive content and menu news. Although we’re being compensated in some form, all opinion remain our own.

Maybe it’s because I’m her mom. Maybe it’s because I love her so much. Maybe it’s because I can mentally block her out. Whatever the reason, I’m not super strict with Caitlynn when we eat at restaurants. I don’t think she behaves badly, but my family thinks she needs to tighten up in the area of etiquette. Sometimes I let her out of her seat–it’s tough sitting still at the jittery age of three. And it’s hard using an inside voice when you want to shout from the mountaintops about your delicious dinner. Sometimes people (I assume they don’t have kids or left their children at home) stare at us, wondering why I’m feeding my child after 6 or 7 p.m. I want to tell them, I work, and I have a business, but more importantly, we don’t turn in at 8 o’clock. Other times they are annoyed as they navigate around a highchair crowding the walkway. It’s so bad that I’ve even read articles online about establishments banning babies and toddlers from their tables. I don’t have to worry about Denny’s ever kicking kids out. Nope! They cater to children, even Caitlynn who blows bubbles in her milk, which is why I decided to go there to practice toddler table manners.


This month, America’s iconic family unveiled its new kids menu featuring much-loved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s award-winning film and television shows. Kicking off with Penguins of Madagascar, Puss In Boots and Turbo FAST, in addition to many popular characters such as Shrek appearing throughout the year, the colorful characters adorn Denny’s kids menu in a variety of interactive, themed puzzles and games to enjoy during mealtime.


After your kids color the DreamWorks characters on the menu, they can download the DreamWorks COLOR App on your telephone or tablet to bring their drawings to life. The characters literally jump off the menu in 3D! You can pose and take selfies with your characters, build and play in worlds they color and create. DreamWorks COLOR app encourages families to engage creatively with each other during mealtimes and provides a modern twist to a
traditional diner activity.


The menu games kept Caitlynn happy, but the menu selections put an even bigger smile on myself. The meals include Kids LiveWell verified dishes and sides, such spaghetti, steamed broccoli, Apple Dunkers, Jr. and Dippable Veggies.



I enjoyed dinner too–a savory pot roast with root vegetables. While we dined, we discussed how to act like a lady. Here’s what Caitlynn learned:

  1. Sit up straight. Good posture means good digestion.
  2. Say please and thank you to the server–something she already does, but it’s always nice to reinforce this lesson.
  3. Use utensils. If you’re not eating finger foods like French fries, pick up a fork or spoon.
  4. Practice patience. Sometimes you’ll clean your plate before everyone is ready to go.
  5. Napkins are our friends. Luckily, Caitlynn’s a pretty neat eater, even when she dips her fingers in her salad dressing.
  6. Offer to tip. When you get to an age where you’re allowed to date, the man typically picks up the tab. You can show your appreciation by offering to tip.


Hey DFTM Fam–What table manners are you teaching your little diners? Be sure to follow our culinary adventure with Denny’s all year long! We’re blogging about exciting additions to the menu and experience. And I’m sure we’ll have a few surprises along the way!


About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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