Ezra,  Family,  Little Brother,  Special Needs Parenting

Eating out with a special needs kid (it’s kind of a big deal!)

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The last time you could have found our family eating out at a sit-down restaurant was right before we moved from Kentucky, when Ezra was two-and-a-half years old. Since then, if it doesn’t have a play place, we just don’t go. Active boys, preschool boys, special needs boys – well, let’s just say that they mix with eating out as well as fire and gasoline.

But over the last year, the combination of the right medication and a bit of maturity has done WONDERS for Ezra’s behavior, and we have been finding out that we are capable of doing a lot of things as a family recently that we have been completely unable to do for the last few years. With complete behavioral success! And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating!

When I learned I had the opportunity to partner with Pizza Hut and Fruit Shoot to write a sponsored post about family adventures, I felt that this would be a great fit for our little family and my little corner of the internet!

Growing up, I was an avid reader, and the Christian schools I attended always participated in Pizza Hut’s Book It! Program. Pizza Hut, for me, bring backs memories of being crammed into red-vinyl colored booths on dark, cold, Ohio nights with my three brothers. For us, it was “Personal Pan Pizzas,” cola that came in a pitcher, and purple pins with glitter stars that poked me more times than I can count. We would laugh with our mom as crazy music came over the speakers, like “I Shot the Sheriff.” Good times, good times…

Pizza Hut has continued with the Book It! Program, but recently they have expanded their literacy efforts by creating a more expansive program called The Literacy Project.

Literacy is instrumental to reaching one’s full potential, yet nearly one billion people in this world cannot read this sentence. NEARLY. ONE. BILLION. That’s why Pizza Hut®, which has been fostering a love of reading for more than 30 years through the BOOK IT!® literacy program, has set a goal of transforming more than 100 million lives worldwide through its largest social impact program ever called Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project.

Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project represents an expanded global commitment to literacy and reading. While one in five Americans have participated in the BOOK IT! literacy program, there are communities locally in the U.S. and all over the world that still need help. As a result, Pizza Hut has partnered with First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise organization representing the largest network of educators serving kids in need, to implement a year-round fundraising effort. The fundraising and awareness campaign is designed to enable access to reading, empower teachers with greater resources and inspire a lifelong love of reading, helping those who need it most reach their full potential.

To date, First Book has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.


It gets even better!

Fruit Shoot, a kids’ beverage company, has joined forces with Pizza Hut and First Book. Every time a Fruit Shoot product is purchased at Pizza Hut from November 10, 2016 until April 30, 2017, five cents will be donated per bottle to First Book!

We decided to use this opportunity to visit our local Pizza Hut as a Family Adventure! As I mentioned above, this was a REALLY BIG DEAL for us!

Eating out with a special needs kid (it’s kind of a big deal!)

Preparing our special needs kid for eating out:

First, we let Ezra know ahead of time where we would be going, and that it would be a different experience than he was used to. He was adorable, because he ran upstairs to change out of his sweatpants and robot shirt into a pair of jeans and nicer shirt WITH a white t-shirt underneath. It was totally unprompted, but it inspired me to, ahem, change out of my own sweats and put on a pair of jeans myself!

The biggest thing we needed to prepare him for eating out was the element of waiting for his food to arrive while sitting down and being a “responsible boy.” He was very excited about the prospect.

It was a day that really worked out for him medicine-wise. He had woken  up at 5:30 AM (UGH), so had his morning medicine right at 6 AM (which is the earliest I will give it to him without really screwing up the rest of his day). Earlier in the day we had taken him to an inflatables place, so his morning medicine wore off a little faster than normal. That meant he got his 2 PM dose about 1PM. Knowing we had the Daylight Savings “fall-back” change coming up and that I wanted him to stay up a little later than normal, I gave him another dose of med at 5PM instead of his normal 6PM, and gave him a full dose instead of his normal half. That’s a bunch of really complicated special needs speech to basically tell you that he was medicated right in time for us to have a nice dinner at 5:30 PM. 


Our family adventure eating out:

First order of business was to order our pizzas and Fruit Shoot. Unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed to find out that our Pizza Hut did not carry Fruit Shoot. SADNESS! I guess that is what adventure is all about, isn’t it! Embracing the unexpected. We ordered our pizzas for the boys (salad bar for mom), and began the tedious process of waiting:


Which involved trying to keep Little Brother occupied with random stuff off the salad bar, Goldfish, a menu, and a straw:



Surprisingly, Little Brother was the handful, and Ezra was an angel! (Welcome to toddlerhood, Mama!)


Waiting is hard, isn’t it!! But he did so well. Thankfully, the restaurant was completely empty! We had the whole place to ourselves, which helped me rest at ease knowing that, should anything happen behaviorally, we wouldn’t have an audience. #winning

I also gave Ezra the camera to help pass the time. This was the result:


Finally, Ezra’s VERY FIRST PERSONAL PAN PIZZA (with ham, bacon, and pineapple) arrived!



By this point, Little Brother was quite restless and began throwing chicken on the floor. So we wolfed down our pizza and skedaddled.

Celebrating our eating out adventure success:

I told Russ that we needed to check the grocery store to see if they had Fruit Shoot. Sure enough, our favorite local grocery store came through!


While Daddy ordered a latte at the grocery store coffee bar, me and the boys wandered around the store drinking Fruit Shoot. Little Brother stole mine – one sip and he was HOOKED on his new purple “ba-ba.” Yes, this is the wine section. Photographic pun totally NOT intended.


It was fun keeping the boys out late for Daylight Savings preparation, enjoying a wonderful family adventure together, and CELEBRATE that we have ARRIVED at that beautiful place of being able to survive successfully eating out with our favorite special needs kiddo.


If you have the time, please check out the First Book website to learn more about how you can participate in the Literacy Project, and visit Fruit Shoot on Facebook!

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