Play Kitchen

My daughter KP recently celebrated her 2nd birthday, and Mel and I decided to make her a play kitchen. We thought about buying one and spent a few minutes perusing various options online. We both agreed that it would be easier and quicker to just buy one online and financially it would be about a wash. We are both regular readers of Ana White’s great DIY blog, and recalled seeing her plan set for a play kitchen from 2009.  It looked like something we could tackle, though we even agreed that whatever we came up with probably wouldn’t end up being as durable or well-rounded as something manufactured. So despite there being perfectly acceptable options available for purchase online, we felt like making it ourselves anyway.  Gluttons for punishment or something like that, right?

We used Ana White’s base plan set, though we added a set of doors to the front of the sink rather than using a curtain. Here’s what we came up with:

DIY Play Kitchen
DIY Play Kitchen
DIY Play Kitchen
DIY Play Kitchen

We wanted it to be bright and colorful, so we decided to go with the bright red and white colors. We used standard aerosol spray paints. Part of the reason this wasn’t a totally cost effective project is because we ended up buying a real faucet, which ran us about $30 at the big box store. We looked around for play faucets to use, but turns out they all come attached to full play kitchens. We thought about buying a full play kitchen to cannibalize things like a play faucet and a play sink, but that would be dumb. So KP gets a real faucet and a meat-loaf pan.

By the way, this is the nicest faucet in our house. Our actual sinks still have leaky, drippy ancient faucets we’ve been meaning to replace but haven’t had the time.

The stove burners are painted. We painted the whole top of the stove black, then applied some adhesive vinyl rings, painted it red, then peeled off the vinyl to reveal the black beneath. I think it turned out pretty well.

Mel stocked the thing with a bunch of toy plates, pots, and silverware, and KP’s aunt bought her some wooden food stuffs (not shown).

Mel also sewed KP a totally adorable apron, but KP has no idea what it is or what she’s supposed to do with it since she’s probably never seen anyone anywhere wearing an apron (she certainly has never seen either of us wearing one).

Full Spread
A full spread
well stocked DIY Play Kitchen
Well stocked DIY Play Kitchen.
DIY Play Oven
Putting stuff in the DIY Play Oven

Anyway, time got away from us, so we haven’t had a chance to build the companion fridge that goes with the set, though it’s still on our list of things to do. So far, KP has played with it a few times and really has a good time with it. I hope she gets some good use out of it.

Afton State Park

Happy late 4th of July. Oh jeez, it was hot as balls outside on the 4th.

It being independence day and all, Mel and I really wanted to do the most American thing we could think of. But sitting around in our cool air-conditioned living room watching MASH re-runs on MeTV and eating pizza just seemed a bit wasteful of a day off, so we decided to go to the beach instead. We wanted to go someplace we’d never been before, so we just started googling around and found Afton State Park, which offers a “swimming beach” according to the website.

We drove out to the park, and found it to be beautiful and pleasant.

Beautiful Trails.

Except for this:

Sad Trombone.

Nothing says state park like a high-voltage transmission line.

At any rate, we discovered that after you park the car, the beach is about a half-mile walk down some trails.

Fat Lips won’t stop us.

The beach wasn’t what we were expecting, but it turned out to be pretty perfect for us. The beach is actually more of a small sandbar along the river with trees growing all over it. If you were expecting a wide expanse of sand, or great tanning conditions, you’d be disappointed.


But anyone with a toddler knows that direct sun isn’t always the best thing in the world because we don’t want to accidentally burn our daughter and end up like Tanning Mom.

Shady Beach.

So we enjoyed the shady beach, went swimming in the river, and had plenty of time to play in the sand.

St. Croix River
fun stuff happened

All in all, the beach at Afton State Park turned out to be a pretty family-friendly place to hang out, and great for kids with all the shade (although, the river can be awfully turbulent – keep a close eye out for those kids near the water). The $5 state park entrance fee and 1/2 mile walk kept it uncrowded (even on this hot as balls 4th of July holiday.

How about you, readers? Ever been to Afton State Park? What did you think?

Canoeing with KP

Guess what? This afternoon, Mel and I went on our first canoe ride since KP was born a year ago. We decided to check out Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake. KP loved going under the bridges and through the culverts.

Canoe Ride

KP liked to hang out up front, which turned out to be the best place for her since the canoe sidewalls are a bit higher there.

No standing in the boat, please.
She smacked her face once and cried.
KP Hamming it up.

How about you? Do anything fun this weekend?

KP’s First Camping Trip

OK, ready for another riveting weekend adventure update? We took KP on her first camping trip ever. We didn’t really know how well it was going to work out, so we chose some pretty cushy accommodations and set our expectations low. We chose the Cannon River Wilderness Area, part of the Rice County Park System.

Cannon River Wilderness Area

We didn’t get there until about 6:30 PM friday night, and spirits were high.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

The camping sites here are walk-in style, but it’s only about 1/8 mile or so. Mel carried all the gear and KP, and I carried the camera so that I could blog about it later.

KP is a bit of a freeloader.

The Cannon River looked pretty good.

Cannon River.
Cannon River.

Unfortunately for us, the two closest campsites were already taken. These are first-come-first-serve, and we were too late. But we’d come this far, so we weren’t about to quit so easily. I took a few more photos of Mel carrying the gear and KP back to the parking lot area, and we just decided to camp near the pavilion in the grassy park area. This is against the rules, but we’re such risk-taking rebels that we did it anyway, Rice County Park Rules be damned. Also, we didn’t know how sleeping with KP in a tent was going to work out and we were half expecting to give up around Midnight and go home anyway.


We didn’t set up the tent until right before we were ready to sleep, just in case one of the dastardly Rice County Park Police came to kick the scrubs out of the park.

Playing in grass.

After eating our tin-foil dinner, we decided to go on a night-hike.

Up waaaaay past bedtime, and loving it.

We were a little worried that KP wouldn’t sleep very well in the tent, but she proved us wrong. She curled herself up into a little ball and slept all night.

Experts be damned, KP sleeps how she wants.

Also, KP got totally eaten alive by mosquitos, and now looks like she has small pox or something. The next morning, we awoke sharply at 5:00 AM, and snoozed, for another hour. We packed up and were home by 8:00 AM sharp.

Good Morning!

Even though our camping trip was a maximum of 14 hours, including travel time and sleeping, it was still a great first-time camping experience with KP.

How about you? Ever gone camping with an infant? How did it go? Any tips you’ve learned along the way you’d like to share?

Joe Bike Box Bike: Phase II

Today was a big day for KP, my 11-month-old daughter. She got to ride facing forward in the box bike for the first time. Previously, she would always ride in her car seat, facing backwards, like this:

KP in Box Bike
KP in Box Bike

But today, check out this big kid:

KP Looks to the Future

No car seat, forward facing. Neat, huh?

Turns out, the view from the handlebars isn’t quite as great. I used to be able to directly see her face. Now, I just see the top of her head.

KP's Wind-blown hair.

But now I get to see her turning her head back and forth, checking out the world. I get to watch her hair dancing in the wind. I get to watch her hang her elbow out over the edge of the box, looking casual.

Yes, there will be much evening cycling this summer.

Do You Like Pie

Huzzah! a couple of new questions in the inbox! Both of these were submitted anonymously, probably not by the same person. Here’s the first one:



I really liked your post about parenting guilt. How are you doing with that? Any hints for other new parents?

Sigh, I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m glad you liked the post. I haven’t made much progress here. I still worry about whether I’m giving her enough time, food, love, effort, etc. I’m positive I don’t read to her enough. I never brush her teeth (either of them). I worry that I’m rattling her brains in the box bike. Despite all this, I know that feeling guilty about any of this is not useful or productive, but it’s hard to not feel like I should be doing more.

She looks happy, though, right?

If I knew how to do an ASCII heart, I'd do it here.

As far as advice for other parents, try dangling them upside down. Kids love that.

dangling toddler

Any More Questions?
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