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).

Birthday Love

What a week it’s been… My Book gets the approval for publishing, my article on autism/spectrum disorder is published by an Autism National Publication, I was featured on the UK’s #1 Parent Blog Website, have had over 2,000 visitors to my blog this week alone from over 25 different countries, and yet the above  is still the best thing to happen to me all week. 

Thx little guy for #1 remembering and #2 the awesome gift. 

Dad Chair, Son Chair

See here’s the thing, there is something about being a guy that is innately passed down from father to son.  Fixing stuff, yard word, stone building… and sitting around doing nothing on your favorite chair. 

Busy, busy day today… Man stuff… Boy stuff… Dad stuff… Son stuff… (Dr Suess style right there).  

Dad raised rock walls, son sailed ships across the narrow sea… And both ended their day with a cup of the finest mead on their own iron throne.   

   

Every guy needs his own man.

 

What it Means to be a Dad


I never know his to start these things. It’s always so weird thinking that there are people out there who read my stuff other than my family and friends. I mean you don’t know me. The only thing u all have in common is you’re bored at work and looking for something to read that hasn’t blocked by your boss on the Internet. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog almost as much as I’ve enjoyed being a father the last 13+ months. It’s never boring, it’s never easy… But most of all it’s never NOT worth it.

I’ve tried to touch on some topics that everyone encounters… Fathers, mothers, families, friends of people with kids, etc. here’s the thing, I still don’t think I’ve really been able to figure out what it really means to be a father.

Having a kid is like having an insane parrot glued to your shoulder. Sometimes I think how much I love him. I look at him and think I couldn’t love any person any more right now. And sometimes… maybe even in the same minute… I think to myself maybe I’ll just leave him at the next gas station. I think that sums up fatherhood decently right… Love and Frustration.

So what else? I think being a father is about learning to focus on the things you do well and asking for support with the things that you’re not so good at and being able to share the responsibilities. A perfect example to this point: I don’t know what I would do if Stephanie didn’t take care of our monetary situation. I’m not even sure how to use an ATM. The wife knows the bank we use. I couldn’t even ball park how much money we have. Thank god I can rely on her to keep us out of the red. So I guess that’s another fatherhood descriptor… Sharing and Reliability.

I keep going back to being able to teach my son about the world… How to handle certain situations and maneuver through an ever changing society. There are so many important lessons I want to teach my son… important things, tidbits of knowledge necessary to survive. Like… How how to open a sleeve of saltines without breaking them into a million pieces when you try to get them out. I’d like to teach him how to end a conversation normally. I can’t just walk away from a conversation. Have you ever tried to walk away? I’m always trying to say something witty and funny, but it usually just comes out sounding creepy. I guess being a father means being a teacher too.

In all reality I think the biggest thing I’ve learned being a dad just to be there for my son. Through ups and downs, as long as I’m around I think we’ll be ok.

One of the greatest “dad moments” ever… “no Olympic emotional outburst is ever likely to dislodge Derek Redmond’s Olympic 400 meter dash at the 1992 Games. What made this moment special was that it brought into focus not just the near-heroic desperation of a single professional athlete but a much more universal theme: the nature of parenthood.”

After hearing his hamstring pop and realizing his Olympic Dreams were over, Redmond got up off the track and refused to be helped off. With about 120 meters still to go Jim Redmond, Derek’s father hoped the barrier and reached his son. He puts his arm around him and whispered, I’m here son. We’ll finish this together.”