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

Baby Cheeks and Uncle Peep

It finally happened. I finally have a child in the family that I can have fun with, rile up, teach to make farting noises and then send home… no further responsibilities, no worrying if he is going to tell his teachers where he learned to burp the alphabet from. I am now the cool uncle.  That’s a huge responsibility.

I remember my “cool uncle”.  He taught me to play Techmo Bowl and took me to the arcade is his silver Camero that would cause even most avid motor heads jealousy.  Going for a ride in a four door Honda sedan might not be as cool as speeding through toll booths in an Iroc Z… and there may not be any arcades left around, but I know I can figure something out.

With that being said… here are some pieces of advice I got when I asked Twitter for help on being a cool uncle:

  • Back off. Defer to the parents always.
  • Make it clear you want to spend time with all of them, but be cautious about inviting yourself over.
  • The parents are in charge, and your opinion doesn’t matter.
  • If the parents say, “Peter, please don’t do that with our baby,” then obey them.
  • spoil him rotten and ensure that he likes your favorite football (Go Pack Go) and baseball teams (Pinstripe Pride).
  • With your decent, disposable income open a savings account for emergencies and/or higher education.
  • give frequent small gifts, like a cool new flashlight.

All great advice for a new uncle… a new COOL uncle. Although I’m not sure who’s more excited over the new family member… me or Jax, who apparently after hearing someone exclaim they wanted to “pinch baby Dominic’s cute little cheeks,” has given his new cousin his official nickname: Baby Cheeks. Well I guess if Baby Cheeks is now officially part of the family that makes me officiant Uncle Pete. Or as Jax would say, Uncle Peep… or as I would say… Cool Uncle Peep!

Introducing my first Nephew: (I really hope I can afford a cool enough flashlight for him)

Hogwarts Honor Student

He’s either a Hogwarts Honor Student or is going to grow up to be one of the most evil dark wizards of all-time… 

⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️

 Really though… Is my son Grindelwald???? Is he one of the most evil dark-wizards of all time? Stay tuned to find out… same #Wizard-Time same #Wizard-Channel! #ThatHairLineThough #HarryPotter #JohnnyDepp
PS: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2014/05/03/little-wizard-on-board/

Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC. 

‘Well, now – Let me see.’ He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. ‘Which is your wand arm?’‘Er – well, I’m right-handed,’ said Oliver.

‘Hold out your arm. That’s it.’ He measured Oliver from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured, he said, ‘Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard’s wand.’

Oliver suddenly realised that the tape measure, which was measuring between his nostrils, was doing this on its own. Mr Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.

Oliver took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls. Mr Ollivander cried, ‘Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good.


Oliver’s Tattoo 

When I decided it was time to get a tattoo honoring my newest little man it was obvious it would be something related to his name, Oliver, and also had to have some connection to Harry Potter. The olive branch has a very symbolic meaning which made it the perfect choice both references. The Olive Branch symbolizes a beginning of a new life. It was also written that the Olive Branch was the first thing that the dove brought to Noah as a sign of a new life in the land.

The Olive Branch also has long since symbolized victory and honor is currently still used as the symbol of Olympic victory in tribute to the early Olympian athletes who were crowned with Olive Branches. In Greek mythology it was attributed to the goddess Athena, and remains a symbol of peace and security. Athena, the Greek goddess of peace, war, arts, and wisdom, was said to have given the olive to humans.

In the Harry Potter story, Oliver Wood is the first Quidditch player we meet, keeper and captain of the Gryffindor team. Garrick Ollivander is the surname of the greatest wandmaker of his time. Ollivander is of Mediterranean origin meaning “he who owns an olive wand.”

The tattoo it surrounds is dedicated to Jackson and is a representation of a father and son taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the short story The Tale of the Three Brothers).  For more on that click here: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2015/12/07/jax-tattoo/