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

In Difficult Times

As Jax begins a tough week (tougher for me then for him probably) I hope he knows that life isn’t always fair… But as Dumblefore once said, “It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Our entire lives we are lead to believe there is a reason that things happen the way they do, or that someone else is pulling the strings. That fate holds our lives close and dangles, what we think we want in front of us, only to pull it away like its a whimsical children’s game to be played when we are bored.  

The problem with fate is that if we believe we are being controlled by an outside force then we are conceding that we are actually not in control of our own destiny. I refuse to believe that we do not have a say in how our lives turn out. Saying that something happens for a reason or that “it is what it is” is a cop out for the weak of heart and for those who underestimate the value and worth of what ever it was they are chasing. It is the characteristic of the strong man that he can bring momentous issues to the forefront and make a decision about them. The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves.

Nothing in life is perfect, and nothing in life is ever going to follow the path that was cut by thoughts and ideas, but the things that are meaningful are worth working for, no matter what other say or the obstacles that stand in the way. The obstacles, that like an iceberg at the surface, seem simple to navigate, but are much deeper and can sink even the most sturdy ship. 

But it’s the destination that makes every icy ocean, every complicated situation worth it in the end. They say all those who wonder are not lost… But then it can also be said not all those who are lost wonder. Once what you have is worth fighting for then it’s not about how you get to the point you want to be at… It’s about making sure that you do get there that matters. 

Sometimes you have to take the harder path to make it to safety, and sometimes the path of least resistance is not always the best way to travel.   

✌🏼️

😘

My Son is a Parseltongue

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So I have been so hesitant to write anything about what’s been bothering me lately.  Like really bothering me.  I know I pretty much write about anything and everything on here because that’s what this blog is about… The real stuff… The good, the bad and the ugly… Clint Eastwood style.   But I also want to make sure that later in life Jax doesn’t have a complex… (Or at least too much of a complex).

But I’m starting to worry.  So this blog entry is less about me telling a story and more about me being able to get something off my chest.  Something that is worrying me.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows I’m an educator.  I’ve been a teacher and administrator for 15 years now.  Maybe I have some sort of hypochondria or a super heightened sense of attention to detail when it comes to child development, but I feel like I’m starting to stress out.

So he’s almost 17 months old… He’s done a lot over the past year and a half.  He’s hitting milestones left and right… But he’s still not taking. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to defend the… “Everyone develops at their own pace” philosophy.  But when it’s my own kid it’s stressful. Don’t forget… This is the type of literature I read on a daily basis:

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Try reading that as a parent and not losing your mind.  Try reading and article that says by 15 months your child should be able to order Lo Mein in Chinese and be able to use chopsticks to eat it. I’m struggling to balance my professional career as someone who diagnosis students’ reading problems and has to decide if a students behavior issues are developmental, environmental or learned… I’m struggling to balance that with my professional career as a dad who worries about everything.

I mean, we do have the basic “mama” and “dada”… and for whatever weird reason there’s also “nene” (bottle).  But other than that he has the language skills of Animal from the Muppet Babies.

We talk to him (I mean… I could talk for hours… its my favorite pasttime).  Grammy, literally gives him literacy and vocabulary lessons all day… half of his toys talk to him… and we read to him every night.  And all we get in return is something that sounds like Parseltongue.  I mean, maybe I’m looking into this to deeply… but he sure fits the bill of a Parselmouth

“Parseltongue is, when spoken, a hissing sound, similar to that of a snake; as such, normal people cannot understand it (one known exception being Dumbledore). Apart from merely communicating with serpentine lifeforms, Parselmouths also seem able to influence the will of serpents to a certain extent. Aside from serpent-based creatures, Parselmouths can communicate with each other with the language, as Harry understood Tom Riddle’s commands to the Basilisk and the House of Gauntcommunicate with each other almost exclusively in Parseltongue. While inherited, Parseltongue usually requires the speaker to face a snake-based creature or object shaped like a snake (e.g. a carving); more proficient speakers may be able to speak it at will.” -HarryPotter Wiki

So maybe I should be less worried about the fact that he isn’t really talking or more worried that my son may be a Dark Wizard?