At IHOP Kids Eat Free Every Day (thru 9/25)

It’s IHOP for an easy meal where kids eat free until September 25.

Sure I could’ve made this for him at home for 99 cents. But he won’t eat it there.

We’re lucky enough to have plenty of places to go out to eat in and around Agoura Hills. But while many families will bring their kids to any restaurant (I once saw a family with multiple children at The Charthouse), there are a few places that are more obviously suited to children. One of those is IHOP.

Our International House of Pancakes is on Kanan, south of the 101, all the way around the back of the plaza but facing the freeway. It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt to find it while significant construction is happening in that area, seemingly forever. But if you make it there, IHOP is a great place to take your kids for a cheap and satisfying, if not very quick meal.

Back to School Convenience

For a limited time, kids eat free. This is a great time for it, actually, with people running around getting the kids ready to go back to school. There’s soccer practice, doctor appointments, back-to-school shopping, and if you’re like me, lots of purging and reorganizing our stuff. My kids grow 2 inches a year on average, so I like to wait until the last minute to buy them new clothes for the school year. This means we’re doing that while everyone else is out getting school supplies and new clothes too. It can be pretty hectic.

The last thing I want to do after all that is make and serve dinner. My husband is a great cook, so he’ll do dinner, too, but he’s easily talked into going out when there’s an opportunity.

kids eat free funny face

Photo evidence that my husband was there too. My boys make nice family photos hard to get!

As guests of IHOP, we visited the Agoura Hills location to check out the new menu offerings and test the kids eat free promotion. As we’ve experienced before, dinner during the week isn’t the most popular shift. One very nice manager served us, and he seemed to be the only wait staff on the floor, so when several other families came in, service slowed down quite a bit.

kids eat free chicken sandwich

And while I wanted to try the new chicken ranch avocado club, he ordered and brought me the spicy chicken ranch sandwich instead, so I accidentally indulged in a cheesy, fried sandwich vs. a vegetable-heavy, grilled one. Since the wrong sandwich was still delicious, I ate it anyway. I mention this though because getting a dish or drink we didn’t order is another thing that seems to happen at this IHOP every time we go.

Kids Eat Free

The kids eat free promotion lasts through September 25. You get one free kid’s entree (ordered off the kids’ menu, drinks not included) with each adult entree ordered from the regular menu, from 4pm to 10pm every day. Dessert not included either.  For kids 12 and under.


In the end, it was still a $40 meal. Since soft drinks were about $3 for adults and $2 for the kids’ lemonade, it added up quickly.

Still, I would recommend IHOP during this busy time, especially if you like breakfast, because even with the slow service and the potential for getting the wrong order, it’s a great place to get a plate of pancakes in the evening without messing up your kitchen or lifting a finger.

5031 Kanan Rd,
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

Command Center: a Useful Back to School Project

A new command center to catch the family’s piles of stuff when they enter your house has been my most effective Back to School organization project so far.


This unassuming shelf holds everything.

A command center is a must-have for a family with school-aged kids. I have two boys, one starting middle school, and one in elementary school. For the past several years, they have come in the front door after school and dumped their backpacks, jackets, shoes, and socks right inside the door. Because stuff attracts more stuff, their father does it too. Not all of these all the time, and not necessarily in that order, and sometimes including extra projects or stuff they acquired on the way home from school.

This is what that area was supposed to look like:


I love the Pier 1 bookshelf and my pretty gardening books and photos of the boys. It even had room to temporarily store things that were on the way out of the house to be returned to their lenders (which explains the pile of plates and cloth napkins).

But this is what it usually looked like:


Let’s put all the things here! On the floor!


Not pictured: backpacks and jackets, which spread to the kitchen table/floor/stairwell

It drove me crazy to trip over my kids’ and husband’s stuff all the time and have to see that mess when I came and went. My mission was to hide all of that stuff and create a command center! So I grabbed a kid and headed to Ikea. Naturally.

The challenge: create a family command center that holds keys, wallets, shoes, and backpacks.

command center ikea desk

He loves coming to Ikea with me. Obvs.

command center ikea meatballs

Okay maybe it’s just for the meatballs.

Originally I envisioned a mirror with hooks on the wall for hanging jackets and backpacks, with a storage unit/bench to hold shoes and serve as a seat for putting on and taking those shoes off. But Brady wanted a “cubby,” and since he and his brother would be the ones using it, I relented and got the 4-unit Kallax shelf. He wanted all 4 cubes to have doors, but I put my foot down on that one—mostly because those doors were a giant PITA to put in, but also because backpacks are bulky and tend to hang over the edge of the shelf.


A peach Smirnoff Ice went well with this DIY project.

One afternoon of cursing and sweating was all it took to create this command center. I banished all shoes to their proper closets, unless it’s boys’ everyday shoes. Those go in the bottom cubby behind closed doors. Backpacks go in the top cubby. Husband’s wallet and keys go in the basket on the top shelf. Jackets are hung in the front hall closet on the other side of the hallway. (What? That’s not for random junk?)



Look how nice and neat it is now! 


This only works if everyone does what they’re supposed to. (Isn’t that a line from “Bad Moms?”) For example, even though they have a shiny new cubby, the boys will literally come into that door, dump their backpacks on the floor, and take off their shoes and leave them there.

Ten…nine…eight… (that’s me gritting my teeth and counting so I don’t lose my ever-loving mind).

It doesn’t happen often. Anymore. After a few too many times of losing privileges when The Cubby was not respected, the boys got on board and put their belongings in their respective places.

So, see? You too can have something as awesome and organized as this. If your family cooperates.

Kallax shelf unit – $35.99 plus rock star cursing, a Smirnoff Ice, and lots of sweating too

Kallax insert with door x 4 – $80, plus kicking yourself because you only used 2 so you just wasted $40 because you’ll never go back to Ikea in time to get your money back

So technically this setup cost a total of $75.99 plus tax and pain and suffering. You’re welcome.

This post was not sponsored by Ikea in any way. We just love it there.

create command center

Mabel’s Labels to Mark Your Stuff [Giveaway!]

mabel's labels back to school combo

Photo from Mabel’s Labels Facebook page

I prefer Mabel’s Labels to any other way of labeling my kids’ stuff for school, sleepovers, camp, or whatever they attend where their stuff can get left behind. I like them better than any other brand, better than permanent marker, better than a label-maker. Why?

Mabel’s Labels are cute, and they don’t come off. The end.


You can stick Mabel’s Labels in shoes, on fabric, lunch boxes made of fabric, pencil cases, notebooks, you name it. They just won’t come off, not even in the wash!

There are many different designs you can choose from. I love the cute little rocket logos and smiley faces, and the pretty color palettes. I have boys, so I stick with boy-type colors, and now that they are getting a little older (middle school here we come!), this time I chose a muted color scheme with no cute little-kid logo. I have left over rockets and skull and bones, though.

mabels labels back to school

And bonus for me, my initials are the same as one of my sons, so I can use the initial logos we bought a few years ago, along with these new last-name-only ones that Mabel just sent to me, for my own stuff or my husband’s stuff. Great for luggage and sports equipment for the whole family.


This year’s selection is the Middle School Label Pack. It includes (in photo above, clockwise from top right) 40 mini name stickers, 2 teeny tags, 50 tag mates, and 16 shoe labels (round). The labels come in a nice, compact folio that you can stick in your family command center (aka the junk drawer) and it takes up barely any room, but it’s at the ready every time something threatens to go out the door unlabeled. I have been known to chase down a child with a label in my hand, eager to slap it on and mark his possession.

mabel's labels pencils


Mabel’s Labels is running a sweepstakes. You can enter now through September 30 to win 1 of 20 Grand Prizes of $500 towards your child’s education! Plus, weekly prizes of Mabel’s Back to School Label Packs to get ready for the start of the school year.

Mabel’s Labels usually has a great deal running on their site, and especially at Back to School time. Visit them to shop and customize your design. And right here I’m giving away a back to school pack of your choice! Just leave a comment on this post by 11:59 PM on Thursday, August 18, 2016. I’ll pick a winner at random from qualifying entries (1 per person please) and you’ll be label-crazy just like me!

mabels labels