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:

Visiting an Old Friend: Harry Potter

Five Fingers are Better Than Four

I know I keep harping on this fireworks thing.  I know I described my feelings on fireworks before.  But, let me be clear: I have no real issue with firecrackers or bottle rockets.  As a kid it was part of your initiation with the neighborhood kids. Those are pretty awesome when you’re eight*. 

I can live with out the large firework displays that require 14 people to light them off.  Maybe it’s because I’m not actually lighting them off?  Maybe that’s why I prefer your run of the mill ladyfingers to the mortar shells you see from outer space.  (Did we just have a therapy-breakthrough?). Interesting!

Anyway… Tonight’s post has seemed to get away from me… Point was going to be that the fireworks were more about sitting around with family.  Not having to do anything but relax and enjoy each other’s company!


*PS: you would think that if an eight year old has the sense to be careful around fireworks than a grown man (who makes enough money to pay 500 people to light off fireworks for him) would have enough sense to not blow off their own hand lighting fireworks off. 

Way to go JPP


With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

There is this certain sort of pride you feel every time you look at your own child…

But a few days ago… There was a feeling more than pride… I walked into a building and realized that my son has THE family gene. You know the one that drives the girls crazy… the one that hooked his mom as well. It’s something that all the girls wish they could resist and all the guys wish they had. It’s not something that can be explained, put in writing or even realistically pinpointed. It’s just there.

(Now remember that this is being written by someone who possesses THAT family gene. If it was being written by an outsider THAT gene may be described differently that above. It would probably describe it as being responsible for over dramatic responses to minor situations, grossly exaggerated stories and acid reflux, or the big nose/ bushy eyebrow gene… Hell my sisters eyebrows look like two caterpillars running away from her nose! But this is my story so I can make it say what ever I want!)

When I got there to pick up Jackson at mommy’s nail salon women ages 20 to grandma were swooning over his slate blue eyes, his blonde hair and that smile that could make even Medusa fall in love. It was like an amusement park, the line of people to hold, hug and talk to Jackson had to be three miles long.

(If I didn’t know any better I would say they were advertising on their Facebook page that he was there in order to drum up business and draw in customers. Everyone knows the key to a successful advertising campaign consists of two things… Cute babies, and/or puppies. All they needed was a little chocolate lab and that place woulda been buzzing! Like all those people literally needed manicures, pedicures and their hair done at 6 o’clock at night on a Tuesday).

Let’s face it Jackson is a crowd pleaser… He’s nice to look at… And he brings people joy by being in their presence. This thing I’m explaining… it’s a blessing and a curse. Just ask my father, my grandfather or my brother. It’s something we’ve had to learn to live with. We understand with great power comes great responsibility.

(I almost kept a straight face writing that! I’m not sure anyone could read that last paragraph without laughing out loud).

This is something that I will begin to teach Jackson immediately. I didn’t think that the powers of seduction he wields would become so evident this early in life. But I guess this one holds special powers… He will have to learn how to contain them and how to use them for good… He’ll have to resist the urge to use them for evil. I understand the difficult struggle he has in front of him… I know… I struggle with the same thing.

(Ok let’s be honest here… either you know I’m being completely sarcastic or you want to punch me in the eye socket… Although I’d be surprised if this is the first time you wanted to punch me in the eye socket, but I digress…)

Bottom line, Realizing that you’re a beautiful person isn’t as easy as it seems. I just really hope that Jackson is able to harness his power and use it to help people.

Our Christmas Blessing

“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny freaking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of A-holes this side of the nuthouse.”

Not a chance Christmas went bye without some incredible stories.  Doesn’t matter if it was Jax’ first christmas or his 15th.  Today was filled with love, laughter and lunacy.  The amount of toys that santa brought for this little dude was insane.  There is not a chance in hell that he could even comprehend the amount of STUFF that he unwrapped today.  All I know, all we know, all he knows (I think he knows) is he is so lucky to have such an amazing cast of family members who treat him like he is king of the Seven Kingdoms.  Santa spent a little extra time here last night and this morning dropping off some awesome toys.

There was the chair that looks like a toilet. (I need one of these for football Sundays).


Then there was the basket that was supposed to be for Auntie Tricia’s spa supplies.

Grammy’s buttons on her Christmas Shirt were a source of entertainment for all ages (especially 8 month olds).


The Wrapping paper gift was a favorite as well.  It tasted yummy.


He also loved the Jackson sized replica of the Empire State building that he could climb and pretend to be King Kong on!


Then there was the incredibly inspiring story of Walter the Farting Dog who shares in Jax’ favorite past time… farting.


Jax was amazed by the generosity of everyone; Santa went above and beyond!!!!


Jax knows Christmas is about giving not just getting presents… he spent his allowance on his brothers XMAS gift.


… but most of all Jackson loved all the attention from the most important people in his life… his family.



Family traditions and family craziness aside… Stephanie and I want to take a second to thank everyone who has been there to support this journey of ours through parenthood.  Most of all our parents and family and especially our friends who have answered our desperate phone calls at 2 and 3 AM when Jax was sniffling or had a fever.  There really is a magic to the holiday season, it’s a magic that exists all year, one that is always there, but often is not tapped into.  The magic of the people around you who care about you for who you are.  The people who are there for you when you need a laugh or a cry… or you need a someone to change a dirty diaper.  Those are the real reasons that the holiday exists.

Jackson, you are the greatest gift I have ever been given.  I am proud to be your father… I am happy to be part of your life and most importantly… I love you more than any present, autograph, fitted suit jacket or skinny tie in the world!



PS: You know when your Christmas ends like this:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/63b/79650087/files/2014/12/img_0636.jpg…it was a great one!

Thankgiving Thanks


I’m a huge fan of any day where you can eat, drink and watch football all day without getting yelled at. Last year we did our first “out to dinner” Thanksgiving and although I was disappointed at first since we wouldn’t be home, it turned out to be a great day (and I was even able to watch the entire packers game).

This year however with Jackson, I felt we had to do Thanksgiving at the house. All of a sudden Stef and I find out we have 90 some cousins and relatives that are friends of relatives that are six generations removed… And everyone wanted to come meet Jax for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure when it happened, but I am no longer the most popular Fragola. Actually I do know when it happened… April 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM.

Regardless of popularity issues, as everyone began arriving at the house… I was happy that so many family members were getting to see Jax. The kid was passed around like a plate of mashed potatoes. But he was loving every second of it. Take that and the fact that Aunt Sandy and Uncle Jon literally brought Thanksgiving with them, gave me a whole day to relax and put my feet up…

… Until we attempted to deep fry the turkey… Which was too big to fit in the pot. The gigantic chicken we shoved in there came out perfect… What was left over would lead you to believe we kept vultures as pets.

So in the spirit of the holiday… I am unbelievably thankful for my family,
Both immediate and extended as well as my hilarious friends. But most of all for the family that makes our house a home… I am thankful for my amazing wife, my little bundle of Joy (and tears and pee and poop) and for the two little crazy dogs that I could t love without!



The Brown Tidal Wave

Over an hour to get ready.  Mommy showered, daddy showered (surprisingly)… everyone got changed.  Don’t forget that getting changed for a six and a half month old means a diaper change, 17 layers of clothes… fitting a tight pair of jeans on over his butt, fitting a onesie, shirt and sweater over his massive head… etc, etc.

As he is about to get comfortable in the car seat… the tsunami hit.  The dreaded poo up the back on the arms and tummy… and through EVERY.LAYER.OF.CLOTHING.  To the point where he needed a full out bath.

Three hours later… literally three hours after we began getting ready, we we are all set to go… again.