I’m no professional chef (some might say I’m not even an amateur one), but there’s one meal I’ve gotten pretty good at making for the kids — pancakes. Just about every weekend the three of us whip up pancakes together, and Annie and James help out by cracking eggs, dumping flour into the bowl, and stirring it all up. Things get pretty messy (Heather stays away to keep her blood pressure down), but I clean it up afterward and we all have a blast.

Since pancakes are kind of our thing, I was excited to hear that Tuesday was the International House of Pancake’s National Pancake Day! This is an event they’ve been putting on since 2006 to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals where every customer receives three free buttermilk pancakes (btw this isn’t sponsored, I just really like the charity angle!). So, when Annie got home from school on Tuesday I blew her mind by telling her we were not only going to go get pancakes for dinner, but that they were going to be free! Heather is out of town, so I thought it would be a great way to distract the kids from missing their mom.

We arrived at IHOP a little after five to see it was swamped with people. I had a feeling it would be busy on account of the free pancakes, but I didn’t expect it to be THIS packed. We parked and threaded our way through the crowd to the host who told us it would be about a 45 minute wait. Yikes. We all had our hearts set on free pancakes, though, so we decided to wait it out. Thankfully, there was a jungle gym out front:

Okay, it was sign post and not a jungle gym, but it kept them entertained.

While we waited I was reminded of last year when our local Sprinkles Cupcakes gave away free cupcakes. We waited in a crazy line for an hour to save like $10. It’s funny — I would never stand in line for an hour, holding a squirmy toddler, for ten bucks, but the equivalent of ten bucks worth of cupcakes? You bet! This was a better deal at IHOP, though — we were talking about $18 worth of pancakes.

Eventually it was our turn to be seated — yay! We settled into our booth and I ordered a plate of bacon and eggs to go with our free pancakes as James and Annie examined all of the different syrups at the table. They had no idea there were syrups other than regular ol’ syrup (which I’m sure they’ll bring up next time we’re buying syrup at the store).

When the food came the kids went at it:

Oh yeah… we ordered some red velvet pancakes too. We went a little pancake crazy.

James was all business:


Annie, at the end of meal, was very full but triumphant:

Nice work, Annie! #ProudDad

James and I were equally full, and when final bill came it was just ten bucks. Not bad! (This wasn’t counting our donation to the charity, of course.)

As we left people were still flowing in and the IHOP staff was turning people away at the door saying that — even though the promotion was going on for another hour — they had such a long waiting list they wouldn’t make the cut off. I have to say, I was very impressed with how politely and quickly the IHOP staff turned everything over.

Back at home Annie said she would like to go back sometime, but that she preferred eating the pancakes we make at home because she didn’t have to wait so long for them.

“But they’re not free,” I told her.

“They’re free for me!” Annie said.

Fair enough, kid.