One Christmas I received a super deluxe, 3-story, fully tiled, carpeted and roofed Barbie house made by my Dad using scraps from our new home.
Best. gift. ever.
I loved that thing to death--until nearing high school when I realized it was clearly not cool having a huge Barbie house sitting in the middle of my bedroom. At that point, I decided to pass the love onto some favorite neighborhood girls. My only regret was that I didn't later get it back although I comfort myself by the belief that they passed in onto another sweet family.
Meet my dad, Barbie house builder extraordinaire and my kids' P-Pa.
Hunter and Emerson adore him.
(Emerson giving one of her signature wet kisses)
P-Pa's cool factor goes up because he has an iphone unlike the parents.
(Keeping KiKi up to date since she couldn't be here.)
Hunter kept giving P-Pa his shyish boy grin when he first arrived this most recent visit.
And then he got excited because he knew a lot of F.U.N. was in store.
P-Pa wasted no time getting a ball game going.
He learned very quickly why we like to have two of everything in our house.
(A full-on fight over the ball went down.)
(All ended well and, yup, this photo only took one take.)
My dad is a great storyteller. I have fond memories of him telling us ghost stories during the long car rides to see our grandparents. To ensure he had the right environment, he would wait until it was pitch black outside to tell the story. (I still get the chills when I remember him telling us "The Shining" and saying, "redrum, redrum" over and over.)
Because he is a great storyteller I love when he reads to my kids.
(I love capturing hands. They tell stories of wisdom, hard work and youth.)
Although Hunter loves a good story it isn't long before he needs to get some pent up energy out so it was back to the ball.
...and a little wrestling.
And just when we thought it couldn't get any more fun, Daddy showed up.
I love my Dad. He is my father and my friend. Although we don't always agree on things (yes Dad, I can go the rest of my life without owning a microwave), he has opened my eyes to many things in the world around me including a fondness for building something with my own hands.
(Dad and I having our signature Chocolate Martinis.
We were just missing one thing. Josh?)
When I set out in search of a play kitchen for Emerson's birthday, I couldn't find one that I was truly crazy about. Most of them were not what I believed to be gender neutral which was important considering I have a boy too. Not to mention the majority of reviews on the kitchens made you feel as if you were about to cough up $200 for a piece of crap from China.
During my search I came across DIY play kitchens. My first impression was "that's too hard for me" until I ran across this woman and fell head-over-heels with her DIY play kitchen ideas. (She also donates the proceeds of her kitchens to charity which is where I got the idea to donate a kitchen to Hunter's school).
Since you have seen what the past few weeks at our house has looked like, I'll share the final results.
The woman I had hired to sew the curtains for the window and storage area unexpectedly became sick so Grammy came to the rescue. She did an amazing job making these curtains with less than an 8 hour notice. She also used her tutu-making skills to create the beautiful storage area curtain.
(Adorable kid-sized kitchen tools from Ikea.)
The sink is painted with speckled paint and covered with lots of gloss to give it a granite look. The faucet is simply a wooden letter "L" turned upside down and painted with stainless steel paint.
(My right hand woman Kathleen. I couldn't have done this without her. She is a hole-drilling, jigsaw-cutting,
wood-gluing, wood-painting rock star!)
A red framed chalkboard provides an area to write a grocery list or weekly menu. The frame was purchased at the dollar store and spray painted red and chalkboard paint was applied directly to the side of the kitchen.
The curtains made by Grammy which open up to a scene of our town beach.
This kitchen was truly a labor of love.
It warmed my heart when I saw that they had labeled our kitchen as "priceless" at the school's silent auction. It went to a very good home and I was able to meet the recipients this week. Their parents and nanny told me that the youngest child plays with it non-stop. THAT makes it all worth it.
And now for my baby girl's super deluxe kitchen.....Tah Dah!!!!
Big brother was smitten from the word go.
The glass knobs turn like real stove knobs which Hunter loves. The appliances are state-of-the-art stainless steel (well, thanks to that cool paint) and the refrigerator has a light that comes on when it is opened (thank you Pop Pop).
The oven has a plexi-glass window so the kids can watch their food cook and includes two levels of racks just like a real oven! (Thanks to two stacking metal cookie racks.) My next project is to add some LED lights so the oven really turns "on" too.
Hunter's first project was to cook some of Gordon Ramsey's scrambled eggs for us.
(I didn't even have to prompt him to use the pot holder.)
The eggs were delicious of course!
I am grateful that my parents instilled a love of creativity within me. If it were not for them and memories of Barbie houses and Halloween costumes that their hands crafted for me over the years, I don't believe that I would have been driven to take on such a huge project for my own kids. Aside from marrying my hubby and laboring two kids, the kitchens are my greatest accomplishments to date.
Who knows where this kitchen will end up after Emerson has outgrown it but, one thing I do know for sure. They don't make one-of-a-kind play kitchens made with nothing but love in China...
...just like you can't find a heart-full, creative jack-of-all-trades, special P-Pa anywhere but Atlanta, Georgia. And although the cost gets high to have the real deal with plane tickets for one and supplies for another, the investment is well worth it. (I love you Dad!)