The Cupboard Under the Stairs

There was something about this house that stood out the first time I walked inside… it wasn’t the normal things that people might notice like a kitchen, bathroom or storage space… it was The Cupboard Under the Stairs that stood out for me.   Immediately I knew I would have some pretty big plans to carry out. As an elementary school principal and former teacher I know how important it is for children to have a space of their own to read and do school work, and a space where they feel comfortable.  Clearly I took my inspiration from the famous cupboard where Harry Potter spent most of his childhood.

The project took about two weeks total to complete (as I was doing a little bit of work each night after Jackson and Oliver went to bed).  The first and most difficult part was the actual planning of the project.  With so many amazing Harry Potter related ideas floating around in my head it was hard to narrow it down to a few so that the boys could actually fit in there.  The before was a blank canvas… just a bare, cold storage space that was not very inviting:

I wanted to give the room a warm feeling, especially since these cold winter months here in CT are a great time to get comfortable and read your favorite book.  I chose to go with Harry’s school colors: Gryffindor maroon and gold. The Harry Potter series provided us with so many amazing quotes, so I wanted to have some of my favorite visible each time you walk into the cupboard.  They are a good reminder for the boys… “have fun, work hard, and stay true and honest.”

The walls had a few scribbles from the previous owners, but were otherwise bare and white. What better way to get to know some of the most beloved characters in the series than to have them represented collage style? The Daily Prophet front pages provided a perfect way to feel the ups and downs of the seven books… from Harry Potter winning the Tri-Wizard Tournament to The Dark Lord Returning… these front page newspaper headlines did just that!  (I used Mod Podge to seal the walls in case sticky little toddler fingers sneak in a snack at some point!)

Completing the walls and with the Daily Prophet headlines, brought us to a big decsion… did Jackson (as the oldest he had final decision making powers) want a window in his newly created Cupboard Under the Stairs????  Of course the answer was a resounding, “YES!” and why not… its not like his dad lacks any type of real wood working skills… (just kidding, I had no idea what I was doing!)  But, honestly it wasn’t that hard… I found a really cool looking picture frame that utilized a window shutter design and just installed that on the existing wall and presto (magical pun intended!):

… add in some faux brick to give it a, “your about to enter Diagon Alley look” and the cupboard was complete with a working window:

The ceiling was full of nails and staples from the hard wood above… and if my sons inherited any of the “clumsy gene” from their father, it would not be long before we were bandaging children’s heads… so with some work from a hammer and a great second hand find, (Harry Potter Quidditch sheets), the ceiling seemed safe enough while also providing a great view of the Golden Snitch about to be caught! (I covered the header beams with parts of the Marauder’s Map in case the boys needed to see what was going on at Hogwarts as well.)

Of course no reading room can have a hard wood floor… you need a plush carpet to curl up and read on… if you take out the face that the guy at Home Depot needed three hours to figure out how to work the carpet cutter… this part was pretty easy to do.

Lastly, no Harry Potter themed room is complete without its very own Hedwig, and as Prof. Lockhart would say, a troublesome Cornish Pixie. Add in a few pillows and a Marauders’ Map blanket and Jackson and Oliver will be off reading about Harry Potter and friends in no time!!!

Now we could just get the kids to dress like this all the time we’d be all set! LOL

PS: why does the Harry Potter series resinate with me so much… read about that here:

https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2016/07/26/visiting-with-an-old-friend-harry-potter/

Visiting an Old Friend: Harry Potter

My Kids > OCD (Only on December 26th)

Every toy has been unwrapped, opened, put together, had batteries installed and played with. Now to shove them in a corner so the boys can play with the toys Jackson got for his first birthday three years ago. Matching outfits are packed away never to be seen again until the above picture comes out at some holiday get together 20 years from now.

Elfie has returned to the North Pole… (thank god)!!! Santa has come and gone and in his wake is enough cardboard and wrapping paper to pollute the Mississippi River (I still can’t spell without that little tune we learned in third grade). Only one wine glass was broken yet somehow 30 more boxes of decorations than we owned last year seem to have made their way into the attic.

I’ve written about this before, but I still contend that the day after Christmas (especially for someone with OCD) is the worst “day after holiday” of the year. Yea, I know what I’m saying… I was up all night and celebrated a Packers Super Bowl win just a few years ago and had to get up early the next day for work, but that was a joyous wake up… my team won the Super Bowl, so who cares about that day after… I get it… but for me the day after XMAS has always been a disaster.

However, this year… I tried to let it go as best as I could. I let stuff stay out, I didn’t pack up ornaments or the garland on the mantle. the leftovers weren’t nearly packed in separate Tupperware (yup… that’s right, I just covered them with tinfoil). I allows my children to play with their toys and didn’t even make them put one away before playing with another. I sat comfortably while a fire burned warmly in the fireplace, and enjoyed watching my two little boys play together with all the new toys Santa left them the day before.

This Christmas was about them… not me… not anyone… just them… and I enjoyed that much more than a day of OCD controlled cleaning and organizing like I usually do on December 26th… (at least for today).

Eight Months

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it feels like just yesterday that this little chunk was born. A lot can happen in eight months… when you take a step back and think about that amount of time in a vacuum it seems like forever, but in this case eight months have flown by. 

  • Weight: large watermelon 
  • Length: second notch on his walker-car
  • Eating pasta, pizza crust, apples and bread
  • Crawling 
  • First Haircut
  • Loves playing w his colored cup-stackers 
  • Enjoys watching the dogs run and around and play
  • Stops crying when Jackson sings “Rock-A-Bye Baby” to him
  • Watched his first regular season Green Bay Packers game (9.10.17- SEA 9 – GB 17)
  • Became a cousin for the first time (to baby Dominic)
  • Loves to laugh

National Sibling’s Day: Top 5 List of Hilarious Brother Interactions (so far)

National Sibling day? I mean I guess it’s better than national footling hotdog day or national pineapple pizza day. For the past three years Jax celebrated this fake holiday with Buster and Max… however he now has to share this holiday with a miniature version of himself. A human sibling is a blessing and a curse… (I know I have two of them). 
It’s only been two months but I thought I’d celebrate this Siblings Day by highlighting the top five interactions between Jackson and Oliver’s short life together so far. 

5. Jackson decides to Baby Ollie by pushing him “gently” in his swing to help Rick him to sleep. This was a bad idea from the start mainly because Oliver was already sleeping and literally was snoozing hard. Not the dogs barking, doorbell ringing nor a blaring TV could wake him. It was one of the very few times we were able to get this kid to sleep with little to no fuss. That is until Jackson decided to push him into orbit. The swing hit its max flight capacity so quickly that it nearly jolted Oliver out the front window. Needless to say Oliver was awake for the next 22 straight hours.  

4. Early on in our sibling story Jackson, the eternal patron saint of feeding the starving, shoves a few goldfish down the gullet of a -“as he describes it “very hungry” six day old Oliver prompting and Immediate finger sweep of his esophagus. This was one of those times where you are very thankful for first aid/CPR training.

3. That time Jax felt the need to help a crying Baby Ollie by jamming his pacifier down his throat. I mean I get it. Those high pitches screams just get to be a little too much sometimes. And if he won’t keep the pacifier in his mouth then someone has to do it for him. Insert big brother…insert pacifier… forcefully. 

2. Close your eyes and picture one of those Strongman competitions where the Hercules looking chaps pick up those gigantic boulders and then place them ohh so carefully on top of a stone pillar. Now take away the pillar and replace the boulder with a newborn. That’s close enough to what it was like watching Jax decide he didn’t want to hold Oliver any longer. It was done with love and care… just a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a quick mumble of something that sounded like, “No more hold Baby Ollie.” That and then letting him roll slowly off his lap.  

1. It’s about time Little Baby Ollie made an appearance on the countdown. And what an appearance it was. Oliver coming in hot at #1 with a move that you just can’t come back from. The ultimate power move. It’s like talking cup says in Beauty and the Beast… Tale as old as time. Once your toes hit the water… bath or shower the seal is broken, and the floodgates are open. Oliver just turned on the fire hose and caught Jax with a powerful stream of pee-pee. It could have happened to anyone and I’m sure it has, but in our story it’s nice to see the underdog catch a break and win one for once.

And there you have it. Jackson dominating the most of the list, just as he older brother should. But Oliver coming in with a savage brother move lands him at #1 on the Sibling’s Day Top 5 Hilarious Interaction List. 

Let’s just hope they are always this peaceful

All four siblings calm… for the first and last time:

Oliver Potter and the Staci Miller Newborn Photos

I’m not sure if i have a writing style… if you had to narrow it down I know a few people might say my style is “grammatically horrible,” or “not really funny”… something like that. First Person Narrative… I guess that’s the closest you can get to narrowing down the writing. I mean the blog is titled Chronicles of a New Dad… I’d like to think I’ve Chronicled my perspective on having kids in a unique way.

But, today… I’ve decide to change it up a bit… I needed to tell someone thanks. Thanks for quite a bit actually. So I’m changing things up a little bit and am going writing letter style.

Dear Staci Miller (Photography),

It’s been almost three years since you came into our life… expensive Nikon camera, gorgeous props and the patience of a saint. Yes, early on in our relationship you had a different name… Pink Elephant… different but still amazing. And that’s just it… i needed to thank you for bringing amazing to life.

Not many people can take the thoughts that swim around in this weird brain of mine… take those abstract ideas and make them concrete. You’ve successfully, in essence, painting the pictures of my mind and put them on canvas. You’re an artist with a flash and lost of fluorescent lighting.

The thing is, that’s not even what makes these pictures a masterpiece. It’s the fact that you have to deal with me… a hyper… anxiety riddled parent who is obsessed with details. I’m the Jack Nicholson (As Good As It Gets Nicholson) of parenting during new born photos. OCD to the max.

You’ve taken photos of a wizards hat and wand… you successfully posed an infant on a giant piece of cheese and most impressive of all captured numerous shots while getting peed on. It’s impressive to say the least.

There was the time at the barn where Jackson got bit by a rooster, the time where we got you caught up in a beach wedding with Miller Highlife cans in the background, the session where I made you take pictures of my sons butt and the time my pants were too tight to help hold Oliver’s head up. I admit to ruining quite the few “perfect shots.”

You took pictures while my son puked on your floor, peed on your brand new background and shattered glass Christmas ornaments (ok the ornaments were my fault… and I may have eaten a few cheese sticks out of your fridge, but you catch my drift… we’re not easy subjects to photograph.

But that all pales in comparison to the latest sitcom-like experience. You know the one where I made you snap photos of my son inside a flower pot while he was screaming (purposefully making him cry, because that’s what Mandrakes do in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… (which by the way is my least favorite book and movie).

You did it all with a smile on your face and 85mm – 135mm lens in your hand (is that a real thing I know nothing about cameras?). You always welcomed us in your home, or your studio or some random farm, which if I were you I’d suggest every time since then Jackson can’t eat all your cookies and string cheese.

And for some reason you keep having us back and the pictures get better each time we do. For that… I thank you… from the bottom of my Harry Potter loving heart.


And then the unprofessional, I should have been helping instead of sneaking pictures w my iPhone, pictures:

 

Here is the link to Jackson’s newborn photos: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2014/05/10/5-10-14-newborn-photos/