Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Part Three in our Read Aloud Series)

This blog entry will Chronicle (pun intended) a father and son’s continuation of the first time reading the Harry Potter series together. We finished Book One and Two and now will move onto Book Three: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (my personal favorite of the series). I’ll update it after each chapter so that I can capture the most memorable moments. Come back often and check in on our progress and leave us a note or some feedback!

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I know Jax and I will.

Chapter 1: Owl Post

The excitement is building and we are officially at the point where the second one book ends Jax is ready for the next book. Ollie came along for the ride of chapter one tonight too, but only made a few pages deep before he was off with visions of Cornish Pixies dancing in his head!

A short chapter (for a late night before school after a long weekend is just what Madam Pomfrey ordered. Harry finally gets to enjoy a birthday as he gets some pretty cool gifts including what Jax would describe as, “the book that wants to eat Harry!” (Care of Hagrid). Jax brings up an interesting point… Hagrid has some really cool pets (Norbert, Fang, Fluffy, Aragog and now the Monster’s Book of Monsters).

…and the answer is no Jax, we can not get a three headed dog… and we can definitely not get a dragon 🙄

Chapter 2: Aunt Marge’s Big Mistake

About to get to a phenomenal part of the book (and one of the better done parts of the movies) and Oliver is already snoring next to us. I love that he is so interested in the books, or maybe it’s just soaking up special time with his big brother and dad? Either way, Aunt Marge is about to get blown up like a hot air balloon!

I love how this chapter plays out. Harry is starting to understand the line between the Muggle World and the Wizarding World. Jax loves that Harry says a curse word! Glad this book is playing out to our maturity levels!

Chapter 3: The Knight Bus

There’s a lot to digest in this chapter, but Jax focus is on a new way for wizards to coexist unnoticed with the Muggle world—the Knight Bus, a vehicle that seamlessly navigates through Muggle traffic undetected.

Instantaneously we are both transported back to the summer when Jax met Stan Shunpike and Dre (the shrunken head).

https://youtube.com/shorts/JMIKDpntF9s?feature=share

There’s many questions left unanswered in this chapter… why does Harry keep using magic when he doesn’t mean to? (Jax makes a connection to the glass at the zoo here too). How did Sirius Black escape? Why didn’t he get in trouble for doing more magic around muggles?

Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron

We met Crookshanks and now all Jax can think about is getting a cat.

Chapter 5: The Dementor

Dad was at a Board of Education meeting so we had a guest reader for Chapter 5! Mom and her “not so great, but tries really hard” Harry Potter voices!

Jax summary of this chapter… and I quote:

“The train stopped when it was pouring rain and then, we were like, ‘what is it?’ Then we flip the page we thought it was a dead Dumbledore with no head, but we figured out what it was. It was a Dementor; they are like a ghost. What they do to you Is they kill you by trying to get all the happy feelings out of you.”

“The Dementors are like, you know sometimes when you feel really, really sad and your heart hurts a little bit? That’s like with the Dementors make you feel like. “

“We also got a new person for the Defense of the Dark Arts: Professor Lupin!”

Chapter 6: Talons and Tea Leaves

Jax considers who this dog really is and why Harry keeps seeing it after in Divination class Professor Trelawney predicts Harry’s death from the Grim. It only took a few chapters before Jax has had enough of Malfoy again.

Chapter 7: The Boggart in the Wardrobe

Two things in this chapter caught my attention in terms of Jax’ reading comprehension and I was thoroughly impressed.

1. When Harry steps up to the Boggart and Lupin immediately jumps in front of him, Jax says, “Lupin must have thought the Boggart was going to turn into Voldemort! You can’t have Voldemort just sitting in your classroom one day!!!”

2. After Lupin jumps in front of the Boggart, Jax is quick to notice the vaguely described “ball of light” (orb) that the Boggart turns into. “That’s weird, what could that be that he’s afraid of?” He asks inquisitively.

There’s nothing better than turning slowly towards him with a sly smile and telling him that he might be on to something and that he’ll find out soon enough!!!

Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady

This is a chapter that I know I’m going to regret reading. Jax knows we don’t call people names or make fun of people for any reason including looks. But of course we know have “The Fat Lady” starring in this chapter and he enjoys reading her name. 🙄

Overall though, the book begins to turn a bit dark here. Jax isn’t scared per say, but he does have a worried look on his face when he finds out Sirius Black attacked the Fat Lady!!!

Chapter 9: Grim Defeat

I always loved this chapter in both the book at the movie. The night after Black’s break-in, all the students sleep in the Great Hall, while the professors, led by Dumbledore, search the castle for Black. I always liked the closeness of the houses, being all together in the Great Hall… in the movie one of my favorite quotes:

Of course Jax focuses in on how funny Sir Cadogan is!

Chapter 10: The Marauder’s Map

This was a super confusing chapter for a young reader. There was a lot of backstory given in the present time with so many intricate details that intertwine the past and present.

It was fun to have a chapter that was a bit confusing to Jax for once. Readers need to struggle… they need to figure out how to grapple with text they don’t understand. This was one of the first times Jax was really confused and I loved listening to his questions to try to clarify his confusion! (Of course I left him hanging!!!)

Chapter 11: The Firebolt

It’s a bit early (I wish) for Jax to start considering the consequences of friendship. He’s so sharp… he is starting to consider the intricacies of the “Golden Trio’s” relationship.

Chapter 12: The Patronus

This is exactly what Jax and I picture Harry looked like in this chapter:

EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!

Chapter 13: Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw

Another complex chapter. Jax must have asked 437 questions this chapter.

  • Is Cho Harry’s girlfriend?
  • Why does Harry’s Patronus have antlers?
  • How did Sirius get into the Gryffindor Tower again?

Chapter 14: Snape’s Grudge

Jax is obsessed with the Marauder’s Map. He’s starting to understand how the Invisibility Cloak and the Map are quite the combination for a mischievous group of friends.

Chapter 15: The Quidditch Final

The face Jax makes when Hermione slaps Malfoy is a mixture of admiration, excitement and the knowledge that hitting someone in our household would lose you your iPad for at least two days!

Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney’s Prediction

“Dad, I’m telling you, something is up with this rat!!!!”

Chapter 17: Cat, Rat, and Dog

SPOILER ALERT…
When you find out Scabbers has been Peter Pettigrew all along:

Chapter 18: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

Jax: “Wait a minute!!!! So Mooney?!?? You know who that must be… is it Lupin?!?? The moon? Mooney! It’s not an orb he’s scared of from the Boggart!!!! It’s the moon because he’s a werewolf?!!”

Chapter 19: The Servant of Lord Voldemort

“Wait… no way!!! Did Hermione just kill Snape!!! Well she definitely believes that Scabbers was really Peter Pettigrew.”

What a comment from Jax. For Hermione to perform a spell on a teacher is very, very out of character for her. It goes to show how Jax really gets her character arc.

Chapter 20: The Dementors’ Kiss

This is “low key” one of my favorite chapters in the book. So many things have to unfold just right and it’s incredible how carefully planned this book is compared to the first two of the series. So much had to be meticulously planned in order for the events of this chapter to make sense and for the big reveal of this book to work.

There’s a ton here to unpack… One of the most heart-wrenching moments is watching Jax think that Harry is going to get to live with his godfather and finally get away from those “jerks” the Dursleys. He was so excited (at one point jax even thinks it would be funny if Sirius bits Harry as a dog and they get to live as a dog family).

That’s what these books do to you though. As a reader who is really processing so much information (ie: character traits, and how other characters influence them and the world around them), he is beginning to make emotional connections to some of the characters in the story.

Chapter 21: Hermione’s Secret

From a teacher’s perspective this chapter looks at two main plot points that literally effect the entire series:

  • Snape’s existential crisis
  • Dumbledore’s rebellious streak

To Jax it was another HP/Tattoo Connection:

“OMG DAD… that’s a time turner on your arm!!!”

I loved this chapter for how well JK writes the time travel bit. Time Travel can be an albatross to a reader, both confusing and arduous to follow, because it’s one of the toughest literary techniques to pull off well. Time and time again (pun intended) it’s not done well, but she does just enough to help a young reader like Jax make connections to the foreshadowing that takes place throughout this book while keeping the time-space continuum (Back to the Future reference) stable enough for the readers to believe what is happening.

Jax finally realizes the Time Turner is how Hermione kept popping up in/ disappearing from random places and why she was always so tired. He also realizes who actually casts the Patronus Charm to save Harry and Sirius. There’s almost nothing better than how JK foreshadows in this series, the only thing better, watching Jackson figure it out!

Jax is also starting to see how powerful of a wizard Harry is becoming. We were impressed with how hard he worked with professor Lupin to learn the Patronus Charm and how most “fully grown” wizards can’t do it! (The movie does this scene PERFECTLY).

Chapter 22: Owl Post Again

Besides time traveling, freeing Sirius and Buckbeak, not getting caught, Harry getting back both the Maunders Map and his Invisibility Cloak this chapter was uneventful!

The questions begin pouring in… where is Sirius, is Lupin going to be OK? Can Harry use the Time Turner to go back and kill Voldemort before he kills his parents!!??

Then the question I’ve been waiting three books for: “Dad, do we have to wait until tomorrow to start the next book?!??!”

And just like his dad after reading the third book, Jax is absolutely hooked!

POSTSCRIPT: Also, click here for our other alouds:

Sorcerer’s Stone: Chapter by Chapter Read Aloud: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2021/07/01/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-our-first-read-aloud/

Chamber of Secrets: Chapter by Chapter Read Aloud: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2021/09/24/harry-potter-and-the-chamber-of-secrets-part-two-in-our-read-aloud/

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Part Two in our Read Aloud Series)

This blog entry will Chronicle (pun intended) a father and son’s continuation of the first time reading the Harry Potter series together. We finished book one and now will move onto Book two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I’ll update it after each chapter so that I can capture the most memorable moments. Come back often and check in on our progress and leave us a note or some feedback!

I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I know Jax and I will.

Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday

We start the book with so much excitement, as we begin with Harry returning to the Dursley’s for the summer, and things are hardly going well. On Harry’s birthday, Harry is screamed at and berated by Uncle Vernon. Jax recognizes this and asks me to stop, while he thinks. He calmly asks, dad, whet book is he going to get a new family? We’re barely into Book 2 and Jax already dislikes The Dursleys and is asking why he needs to stay with his aunt and uncle.

I move slowly closing the book at saying, “great question, you’ll find out more clues to help you answer that soon!”

Chapter 2: Dobby’s Warning

This chapter was a fan favorite!

  • Dobby’s tennis ball sized eyes and his funny voice (watch out Jim Dale and Stephen Fry this dad does a mean Dobby voice)
  • Aunt Petunia’s pudding
  • Harry getting locked in his room with bars on the windows
  • The FLYING car!!!

Dobby finally told Harry why he was there – he had a warning: according to Jax, “Harry shouldn’t go back to Hogwarts because Dobby is trying to tell him that Voldemort is coming back to get him! “ this was followed up by one of the most insightful questions I’ve heard as a dad and educator… “Dad, can we hurry to the end of the book, that’s when Voldemort will try to fight Harry again, it always happens at the end!” This kid is a very, very thoughtful reader, with lots of tools to help him comprehend!

  • Sequencing ✅
  • Inferencing ✅
  • Drawing conclusions ✅
  • Problem-solving ✅
  • Relating background knowledge ✅

Chapter 3: The Burrow

We read this chapter excited mostly about how incredible it was That a flying car picked Harry up from his bedroom. The entire scene was so suspenseful, the sneaking out, getting his trunk, uncle Vernon trying to grab Harry as he barely gets away as Fred and George slam on the gas and free Harry from the Dursley’s. A pattern that Jax is beginning to pick up on!

Best scene as a dad of boys who tinker w/ everything

I talked a little with Jax about how often times the author leaves you clues (JKs MO) about what they want you to figure out on your own. We talked about how the Weasley’s house is described and how Ron says, “It’s not much, but it’s home.” The deep thinking that is occurring as he processes so much information in these chapters is impressive. Most of the time he processes out loud, other times, he does it internally and sometimes I have to prompt him.

I asked Jax what he thought of the burrow and how that was similar or different to Ron’s opinion of his own house. Hearing his description of how Ron thought he was “poor” and that he was “embarrassed” by the above line was rewarding for a dad/educator trying to get their little reader to think deeply about the text!

Chapter 4: At Flourish and Blotts

A LONG CHAPTER that took three separate nights to compete (part Jax tired and part… mostly… dad exhausted).

We covered a lot in this chapter including (with Jax’ commentary in quotes):

-Why might Harry be embarrassed of his money. “Do you think he’ll share it with the Weasleys?

-The Weasley vs the Malfoy rivalry. “The Malfoys are the worst.

-The famous and over zealous Gilderoy Lockhart. “He thinks he’s the best wizard and he only likes Harry because he’s famous.

As we ended the chapter I caught him sneaking a peak at the last chapter… I love that he’s wanting more!!!

Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow

It’s been a busy few days, but hearing Jax (and Oliver) ask about Harry Potter read aloud time is a welcomed addition to my day.

Both boys were excited to read together (I struggle with letting Ollie listen in, because I’d like it to be a unique experience for him like it has been for Jax, but for now intermittent participation in our read alouds will be permitted!)

The Whomping Willow and a flying Ford Anglia dominate this chapter. But it was Ron and Harry smashing into the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4 that had the boys hysterical.

There’s something about watching (or in the case picturing) someone falling over that seems to always bring out a chuckle (think America’s Funniest Home Videos). Of course both boys needed to stand up and act this scene out… with multiple takes.

Interestingly enough their door might be less forgiving than the brick wall in King’s Cross Station between Platforms 9 and 10 because I’m confident one or both of them had a concussion after their physical comedy. It was like watching a Chris Farley do a Harry Potter skit on SNL

As the chapter came to a close we saw our favorite mean professor yell at Harry, leaving Jax to say, “I’m glad he’s not my teacher!!!”

Chapter 6: Gilderoy Lockhart

The best part of this chapter is the two references to real life events that Jax makes quick connections too as we read. We being in the greenhouse, where Professor Sprout is explaining that the lesson of the day will involve repotting Mandrakes, which Hermoine explains are a are plants that look like pale green babies with leaves growing out of their heads and produce a cry that is fatal to anyone who hears it, so the entire class has to put on earmuffs to handle them. Which reminds Jax of his brothers newborn photo shoot from four years ago!

Jackson’s Reference Exhibit 1:

Who’s scream is more fatal?
A mandrake or a newborn?

The single most annoying character in this series comes into play next. He’s the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart. I loathe this character (and this chapter in general). Jax describes him as a liar and says he definitely thinks he’s good at “stuff, but he definitely isn’t.”

As an elementary school principal Lockhart’s instructional ineptitude drives me crazy. As a teacher in his own class, he has no idea what he’s doing and he can’t even fake it well. The pixies he releases destroy the classroom, hanging students from the ceiling and tossing wands out the window. Lockhart is unable to stop them or to recapture them so he walks out and leaves the job to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, which leads Jax to agree that Lockhart is a, “really bad teacher!!”

Then again the Cornish Pixies bring us to our second favorite part of this chapter… The first time we visited the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Stephanie and I were walking out after a long hot day and as we pass a shelf loaded with stuffed animals and other HP merchandise, Jax starts pointing and laughing uncontrollably. He was pointing at the blue Cornish Pixie hanging on the shelf… so of course we bought it for him. He still has it to this day… so I got his Pixie on my inner arm.

Jackson’s Reference Exhibit 2:

Tattoo inspired by a $45 stuffed animal

Check back soon for the review and updates of our next chapter read aloud

Chapter 7: Mudbloods and Murmurs

An interesting chapter as we start to see how “mean” other people can be and how others could and should respond to those when they are mean.

The highlight of this chapter read:

Jax asks, “How many Harry Potter books are there?”

Me, “Seven.”

Jax response, “What if Voldemort has seven lives and Harry has to fight one in each of the books?”

Chapter 8: The Deathday Party

It’s been a while, so I needed to check in to see if Jax remembers how to pay attention to a read aloud and utilize his oral comprehension skills.

– Why was Nearly Headless Nick not allowed to join the Headless Hunt?

“Remember, his head was not totally chopped off. It was, like, hanging off. I think someone tried to saw it, but the saw wasn’t working all the way.”

What are Squibs

“A kind of Octopus.”

What did Harry, Ron and Hermione find when they followed the voice that Harry heard?

“He keeps hearing voices. Nobody else can hear them so they think he’s crazy. Even his friends are thinking he’s a little crazy. Then they find Filtch’s cat hanging upside down because I think it saw Voldemort trying to open the Chamber of Secrets.

Chapter 9: The Writing on the Wall

Jax’ summary of this chapter… so everyone thinks Harry is the Heir of Slytherin?!??? that makes no sense, because he already beat Voldemort!

He’s also now obsessed with the Polyjuice Potion and want to know if he can use it to turn Oliver into a rat like Scabbers!!!! (so much for using your magic for good).

Chapter 10: The Rogue Bludger

I asked Jax to summarize this chapter in the fastest way possible as it was about 9:45 at night!

  • Lockhart thinks everyone loves him.
  • Dobby sends a rogue Bludger at Harry, and Harry breaks his arm.
  • Lockhart messes up again!!! He says he can fix Harry’s arm but all his bones disappear and his arm turns into a rubber band!!!
  • Then Colin and Nearly Headless Nick gets Petrified.
  • IT HAS TO MEAN VOLDEMORT IS BACK!!!

Chapter 11: The Dueling Club

At this point Jax realizes that Gilderoy is a fake. Harry can talk to snakes as (people think he doesn’t) protect Justin from the cobra that comes from Draco’s wand. Jax quickly remembers the boa constrictor from the first book that Harry sets free from the zoo.

Chapter 12: The Polyjuice Potion

I love watching Jax’ reaction to surprises as he develops as a reader! Harry and Ron now know that someone other than Draco is the Heir of Slytherin. When Draco admits he’s not sure who did it, he gave his patented, “Eek!”

Chapter 13: The Very Secret Diary

Oliver is reading the wrong book, but then again reading is reading!.

This is the chapter of the very secret summary. I’m not going to lie. Both Jackson and I were half asleep for this one. I’m not sure I remember his reaction. I do know that before I officially fell asleep I observed this:

Chapter 14: Cornelius Fudge

Tonight (for the first time) there was a guest reader! With dad at a board of education meeting… a text was sent, “This is from Jackson, ‘can I read Harry Potter with mom.’”

The next text that came through was from mom, “These chapters are long 😂.”

Jax summary of this chapter, “I liked reading with mom, but she doesn’t do good Harry Potter voices!”

Chapter 15: Aragog

Jackson’s Exact Chapter 15 summary:

“ This chapter is called Aragog and in this chapter Harry and Ron went into the forest and left their invisible cloak on Hagrid’s table. Then they went out in the woods to follow the spiders. They have to follow the spiders to a big, big, big Spider called Aragog. Harry could hear and talk to Aragon even though he’s a human and not a spider. Oh, wait and we found out that he [Hagrid] didn’t open the Chamber of Secrets!!!”

Chapter 16: The Chamber of Secrets

Jax’ suspicions throughout the book so far have been proven true. We now know that Lockhart is a fake. Jax says, “TOLD YOU!!!!!!!”

We see the picture of the giant snake skin and he very dramatically says… “The Basssssssssstaaaaalickkk!” (As he pronounces it!).

Chapter 17: The Heir Of Slytherin

This chapter has so much in it… but the only thing I remember (and I will remember forever, is the look on Jax’ face when he figured out who Tom Riddle really is. even before he officially reveals it to the readers with his wand… Jax figures it out and sits up from the bed and yells (loud enough for mom to hear down the hall way), “Riddle is VOLDEMORT!!!!!!!”

His face was priceless. It is the point I know he’ll look back on as the moment he fell in love w the series!!!!”

Chapter 18: Dobby’s Reward

Dinner out when you only have one chapter left in the book!

We spent our regular Friday night dinner out listening as Jax read the last chapter as quickly as he could! There was nothing that was going to prevent him from getting through this chapter so he could watch the movie that night! He was very excited to learn that Dobby was free and has clearly identified Lucious Malloy as a “jerk!”

In the end this read aloud took a while, as it did when I read it myself for the first time. However, there’s no doubt Jax is no hooked on Harry and can not wait for the next book.

PS: the MinaLima books are outstanding. I wish the rest were out already!!

Also, click here for our Sorcerer’s Stone Chapter by Chapter read aloud: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2021/07/01/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-our-first-read-aloud/

#BackToHogwarts2021

Continuing with tradition (for the seventh year in a row) I tweeted at JK Rowling for advice in dropping the boys off at Platform 9 3/4.

I’m sure by now you know that September 1 is a sacred day for witches and wizards everywhere! Back to Hogwarts day is when the Wizarding World boards the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross Station heading to Hogwarts.

And just like that tradition, another year has gone by with no acknowledgement from Mrs. Rowling. I thought this being year seven, with seven being such an important number in the series, she’d have responded:

Seven was the most powerful magical number, based on centuries of mythology, science, and mathematics, and therefore had a very important role in the wizarding world. Arithmancer Bridget Wenlock was the first to note this through a theorem which exposed the magical properties of the number seven.

I guess we’ll have to try for lucky number eight next year.

Back to Hogwarts

September 1st has a significant meaning and evokes deep “feels” for all those who follow the Wizarding World Calendar. September 1 is day the Hogwarts students return for a new term by boarding the Hogwarts Express (or occasional a flying a Ford Anglia).

While schools across the United States prepare to go back to school virtually, or in some sort of hybrid model, as J.K. Rowling has said, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

So in keeping with tradition, for the 6th year in a row I tweeted @jkrowling to get some advice for parents dropping off their children at Platform 9 3/4. Every year September 1st rolls around, I tweet the same thing to JK Rowling “Dear @jk_rowling any advice for parents sending their little ones to #Hogwarts for the first time?!?? #BackToHogwarts”.

I never get a response or any advice from her, but maybe this year will be the year! So for now, Stephanie and I have to do our best as Muggles to figure out how this whole Platform 9 3/4 thing works.

Happy 14th Anniversary

Dear Stephanie, for our 14th Anniversary I was supposed to buy you ivory. However, I would never want to harm an elephant or narwhal. So instead I hired a few elephants to come to the neighborhood and allow you to see and touch the real Ivory on these magnificent creatures. I planned have our children ride in on the elephants for an extra surprise.

The problem however is that the elephants became scared by that ridiculous Jeep that speeds down our road playing loud techno music everyday. The elephants went crazy and tore down trees, power lines and wires. The town is a mess, no one has power or running water. This has become a disaster of massive proportions and it’s all my fault.

The thing is… it’s only due to the enormous amount of love I have for you and our IVORY ANNIVERSARY! Do me a favor though, let’s keep this between us and we can just tell everyone I bought you a bar of IVORY Soap for our anniversary.

PS: No elephant or child was harmed in the marking of this blog post!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

In all seriousness… Happy anniversary to a mom and wife who has successfully navigated work, marriage, parenting, and even more difficult… the apocalypse that has been 2020! We may be celebrating in the dark today, but they say candlelight is romantic, amirite?

Coronavirus: The Fourth Month (July)

Day 106: July 1:

Virtual learning hasn’t stopped an amazing teacher from making sure her students are OK in person, even after the school year is done. Teachers are the hardest working and most underappreciated people in the world! (I won’t reveal who this teacher is)… but know that I would want my sons in her class every year!

Day 107: July 2:

My favorite part of summer is when my kids ask for the sprinkler and then I turn on the sprinkler and then they cry hysterically if they get wet from the sprinkler and then they yell at me to turn the sprinkler back on after I turn it off.

Day 108: July 3:

It may just last the night, or maybe only an hour, but for now brothers are best friends and they’re both so excited for a slumber party!

#Brothers

Day 109: July 4:

We spent the Fourth super low-key and it was perfect! We are so lucky to have amazing neighbors! Best part is they actually put up with us and even better, their kids like our kids

Day 110: July 5:

What do you do after spending an entire day with your neighbors? You wake up and spend the entire next day with them on their water slide! My kids would choose this water slide over anything!

Day 111: July 6:

Last night I tucked my Oliver in, kissed him goodnight and he hugged me and said “goodbye daddy.” So, I guess I won’t be sleeping until he moves out.

Day 112: July 7:

Things I have tried during Covid Quarantine to ensure better sleep:

-bribery

begging

negotiating

rewards

dark curtains

threats to call Santa

earlier bed time

later bed time

fewer snacks

more snacks

threats of violence against stuffed animals

Times either of my children have slept through the night as a result:

[ZERO]

Day 113: July 8:

He thought I wouldn’t dunk on him… let alone actually dunk HIM!

Day 114: July 9:

We made it to Cape Cod. I have not taken a REAL vacation in years. This was the first time I actually tried to shut down from work in ages (granted I didn’t do so well considering I conducted virtual teacher interviews from the beach and also called hundreds of families about our distance learning survey), but that’s me… I love what I do… and I don’t ever take a break from it!

Day 115: July 10:

This is what family vacation is all about. Forget Corona, forget quarantine and hand sanitizer. Family vacations are all about getting a KING SIZE BED for mom and dad and having the kids sleep in it. Relinquishing an amazingly comfortable mattress and 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets for a pull out sofa bed is parenting at its finest!

Day 116: July 11

The family… sans masks… sans tears… just happy to be out of the GD house!

Day 117: July 12:

Screw you CORONA! We still livin’ our best life!

Puffy said it best:

Don’t push us, cause we’re close to the, edge
We’re tryin’, not to lose our heads, a-hah hah hah hah…

get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder
Why you wanna take us under
Why you wanna take us under

I get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder
Why you wanna take us under
Why you wanna take us under

Can’t nobody take my pride
Uh-uh, uh-uh
Can’t nobody hold me down, ohh no
I got to keep on movin’…”

Day 118: July 13:

If there is a picture that represents our lives in 2020 this is it! All dressed up for a family photo with designer masks! #CapeCodCorona2020

Day 119: July 14:

We are home from the Cape and we spent some time just relaxing today. This quarantine thing has been stressful, scary, unpredictable, calm, insane, all of the above… but most of all, it has been a time to just reconnect with each other. Today we did just that. The boys and I took Buster and Max for a walk. No electronics, no phones, just us. It was as close to perfect as you can get… we were just missing mom.

Day 120: July 15:

Parenting books never prepared me for how much time I’d spend arguing for my kids to get into and then out of the bathtub.

Day 121: July 16:

15 years ago she (Stephanie) said “Yes.” Then we quickly got in line on the Wildwood boardwalk for the Half Blood Prince midnight book release. I read the book all night in the hotel lobby and finished it in the morning on the beach! Such a memorable day… and still… After All This Time, I’m Sirius-ly happy to still be Making Magic with you Stephanie, You’re a Keeper and there is no one else in the world I’d rather be quarantined with than you!

Day 121: July 17:

We’ve been in quarantine for 121 days and my six year old has been talking nonstop for 150 of them!

Day 122: July 18

We’ve tried everything as parents to keep our boys engaged in educational activities, but it’s mid July now… we put together a schedule for the boys to give them some structure during the summer quarantine and I think other parents might find it helpful:

7am-7pm: Unsupervised screentime, with periodic snack time.

Day 123: July 19:

Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to grasp what’s happening right now. I’ve discussed the pandemic and social distancing with both boys. I figured Jax would get it and for the most part he does, but I was surprised how informed Oliver was. He really gets it. He’s now decided to speak 3 inches from my face instead of the normal 1 inch.

Day 124: July 20:

Today while we were out practicing some mask wearing to build up tolerance for Oliver a women with no mask on her or her children screamed at us to take off our masks because were falling for the “hoax.” I won’t put my response here in writing… but WTF?!???

I just don’t get it. The people who refuse to wear a mask they’re almost like those last couple of leaves on the tree right before winter hits. They are so proud of themselves. They must be so excited sitting on the tree thinking we’re definitely gonna make it, we’re gonna make it. That is until all your friends are gone and you’re the last one hanging on for dear life.

Day 125: July 21:

Today while listening to our secretary of education speak about re-opening schools full-time in person, I realized that she has a bookshelf with no books on it. Listening to this woman speak about re-opening schools is like listening to my three-year-old try to explain how to play chess… in Latin. 🙄

Day 126: July 22:

You would think with two dogs and two toddlers one of them would be the first to ruin the new patio…

If you put your money on that you definitely lost. In the category of 2020 just keeps getting worse… I spilled an entire canister of melted citronella wax all over the patio today.

Day 127: July 23:

Today we, painted pictures, went in the pool, completed two puzzles, cooked dinner together and watched a movie. Or, as the boys described it to mommy when she got home from work:

“Buster and Max peed on the floor and dad yelled at us two times.” 

Day 128: July 24

The boys are so used to staying in the house that they think pants are just optional at this point. God forbid I tell them we need to actually wear said pants when it’s time to go out…

Day 129: July 25:

Just heard from downstairs:

Jax: “Oliver USE YOUR FORCEFIELD…”

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Oliver: “ OWWWWWWWWWWWW!” Followed by screaming…

Day 130: July 26:

Today, I decided to take the filter and pump apart to clean it, since the water was a bit cloudy the past week.

After dissembling the filter… I am pretty sure I discovered where Coronavirus started.

Day 131: July 27:

Today while playing with his stuffed animals Jax told me he wants to be a dad one day.

My response: “Have you seen the shit I put up with?!!??”

Day 132: July 28:

Jackson complained this morning because his breakfast was not ready fr him when he came downstairs. I told him to be sure to leave his negative review on Yelp! and also, I don’t care!

Day 133: July 29:

My legs are in the best shape since I was running track in college. I think I have an idea for an exercise video for parents where all the lunges are just going around the house picking up juice box straws and wrappers.

Day July 30:

Steph is at work and I had a two hour meeting this afternoon that was extremely important about reopening the schools. Jackson and Oliver had to fend for themselves the entire time and they didn’t fight once in the playroom.

I heard them talking and giggling I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. They didn’t pick up their iPads or put the TV on once. When I was done they told me to come out of my office bc they had a surprise for me.

And when your two kids ask you to sit for a tea part (with wine glasses for the adult) you sit together the tea party.

Day: July 31:

… the end of the fourth month brings us right back where we were four-plus months ago, the same place almost every parent is in… what do we do with our kids… our children… our babies…

Oliver X

Oliver X

It wasn’t the first time I’d barely ducked out of the way of a two-foot-tall tyrant, but it’s still surprising every time. I’ve been to the toddler rodeo before. So, normally I’m not surprised. This time though, I took things way to lightly: I paused and took notice of my internal reaction. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it seriously tick me off? Yes. Did my child intend to hurt me? Certainly not. Then again, does this three year old have super powers… possibly.

However, this kid, Oliver Peter… he’s special. Is it because he’s the second? Is it because he’s a boy? Is it because we’re so tired and we just gave up?!?? Obviously the answer is no to all of those questions. However, he is still a beast.

Our first was relatively easy. There were times where we considered the possibility that’s he was part ware wolf. Yet, with time it was obvious he was just a normal toddler. But, I’m telling you… this one.. the second one… he’s part wolf, or bear, or tin man… something. I guarantee you Professor X is going to be knocking at our door sooner rather than later looking for the most recent mutant toddler (AKA Oliver-X).

CoronaVirus: The Second Month (May)

Day 45: Friday, May 1:

Everyone’s snuggling in bed after a long day watching a movie. I finally go to lay down, but Buster is in my spot. Oliver says, “no, Buster stay.”

I moved Buster, lay down and Oliver started kicking me off the bed and says, “No, go back and do work.”

Insert eye roll here

Day 46: Saturday, May 2:

“The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.”David Whytetq

Oliver today, “dad can I poop on the grass like Buster and Max?” 🙄

Day 47: Sunday, May 3:

There has to be a time where we can just go do stuff, right? like there’s no way people can just sit inside all day, seven days a week. It’s Sunday, so we should all be gathering as a family around the kitchen table or out by the pool with friends.

Day 48: Monday, May 4:

A friend sent this to me today, “I get a scratchy throat sometimes and think, ‘crap! I’m getting the virus!’ Then I remember it’s scratchy because I was just screaming at my kids with everything I have, because they are driving me crazy.”

That’s what this virus is doing to everyone. Parents can’t even tell if they’ve been infected or been yelling too much at their kids! And no I won’t admit who made the above statement (snitches get stitches).

Day 49: Tuesday, May 5

Me: Quarantine is going well right?

Wife:

Day 50: Wednesday, May 6

Fifty days of quarantine, of distance learning and homeschooling and these two are closer than ever. Today I found them sitting together and Jax was teaching Oliver about number bonds on his math program.

… and by night they wanted to sleep in the same bed.

Tomorrow they will probably be slap fighting and pushing each other down the stairs, but for now they are best friends.

Day 51: Thursday, May 7:

One of the beat parts of a global pandemic is how everyone is a little more lax with their dress code. Case in point… you can wear your six month old Third Birthday Blaze TShirt for the eighteenth day in a row, or just go as the Naked Cowboy from Time Square.

Day 52: Friday, May 8:

My six year old used the phrase “a long time ago today” to describe the morning and it’s probably the most accurate description I’ve ever heard.

Day 53: Saturday, May 9:

We ventured out a bit today. Just being able to drive down the road to go to the beach was a blessing. The boys were so happy, their eyes were wide and they had giant smiles on their faces. They built sandcastles, filled buckets with sand and threw shells and rocks into the water. It was nice to “get out” for a bit.

Day 54: Sunday, May 10:

This quarantine nonsense is effecting every aspect of life. At bedtime both of my children turn into dehydrated philosophers who need a hug.

Day 55: Monday, May 11:

Today was like no other day. I know I’ve touched on it before, but that was when we had Jackson only. To accomplish what we accomplished today is reminiscent of the “Jordan Shrug” Game. Everything we did hit today, every shot we took, every attempt we put out there… all of them hit.

Everyone’s work was completed without complaining, no one fought viscously over the remote control, lunches and dinners were eaten including fruits and veggies. Baths were taken and every body part was washed without any begging Just like MJ against the Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals , we couldn’t miss.

Day 56: Tuesday May 13:

Finally got Oliver under the clippers! I couldn’t take the Lloyd Christmas look anymore! (PS, my bad on trying to cut his bangs the day before!)

Day 57: Wednesday May 13:

Jax and Oliver want to know when they don’t have to wash their hands every time they come inside after playing. These kids apparently think that general hygiene will be a thing of the past once the pandemic is over. Even when this coronavirus nonsense is over we are going to have to reiterate that those things aren’t optional.

Day 58: Thursday May 14:

I had to get out of the house. While I appreciate having so much time with my family (even the tough times are still time spent with them), I had to get some fresh air! After all the zoom meetings and the last Google Meet of the day… the golf course, on a late sunny afternoon provided just that.

Day 59: Friday May 15:

Today I had a few very important PPTs to chair and Stephanie was sorting through budget cuts and balancing a school district account during the unprecedented Covid-19 shutdown.

We asked the boys to sit calmly and be quiet. What our children heard: “Battle Royal. Everyman for himself. Run, fight, scream!!!!”

Day 60: Saturday May 16:

It’s always great when you get a surprise visit from family! Today, the newest little family member came to say hello! Mima also surprised us with an appearance!

Day 61: Sunday, May 17:

Now that we’ve all been cooped up in our houses for days, or weeks, or months, the days just seem to…blend together. Weekdays and weekends no longer have any separation. After all, where are we going to go?

“Is today Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?!??”

…. “Yes.”

Day 62: Monday, May 18:

Oliver and I got up early as we usually do. It was 5:30am, my coffee was hot and Oliver’s apple juice was cold. We both settled in for a calm and quiet morning and all of a sudden Oliver starts cheering. Like, yelling, whooping and was just so excited. I had no idea why, but I just joined in. It was marvelous!

Day 63: Tuesday, May 19:

Netflix needs to get it together and stop asking us if we’re “still watching”. Of COURSE we’re still watching! It’s a pandemic home lockdown! Just keep it rolling the shows out there.

Day 64: Wednesday, May 20:

So today the shark IQ robot special was on TV… Jackson had been waiting for this day like it was Christmas morning. He had it ready to DVR and was hoping to stay up all night to watch it. It’s a three hour long show… He binged watch it like it was a special on Netflix. By the time everyone reads this I guarantee you he’s probably seen it 15 times.

If anybody needs to know the specs of the shark IQ robot… Or even just how its sensors keep it from toppling down the stairs just let us know and we will have Jackson give you a call.

Day 65: Thursday, May 21:

Jax just ripped the door off the hinges again I fixed it it took me an hour and as he was trying to close it because the keys scared bugs are going to come in the house he literally ripped off the hinges

Day 66: Friday, May 22:

Social distancing in the mind of children:

Day 67: Saturday, May 23:

Rain, rain??? We haven’t seen a cloud in weeks. I forgot how insane children are when they are stuck in the house on a rainy day paired with CoronaQuarantine.

There’s only so many crayons, construction paper and Disney movies one family can go through in one day. Is there a Guinness Book of World Record for that? Someone look it up. I’m pretty sure we’ve got that one locked up.

Day 68: Sunday, May 24:

Happy birthday to the best Mima in the world…

Day 69: Monday, May 25:

Today begins “Quarantine Homeschool Spirit Week!” See below for the weekly schedule. Join in, we’d love to have you!

Monday: Pajama Day!
Tuesday: Pajama Day!
Wednesday: Pajama Day!
Thursday: Pajama Day!
Friday: Pajama Day!

Day 70: Tuesday, May 26:

Day 71: Wednesday, May 27:

I’ve had it. This house is a prison. It’s like we are living in a small shed and the walls keep closing in on us. No matter how much I clean up… No matter how many times I asked the kids to clean up after themselves… No matter how much organizing I do… There’s still stuff everywhere.

Recently I’ve been binge watching Hell on Wheels, a story of the building of the Trans-Continental Railroad that connected the United States following the Civil War. The show centers on the men and women who helped forge those tracks. Black, White, Asian, or Native, the people who lived in the mobile town of Hell on Wheels came from around the globe to be a part of history.

Things around here have been mimicking what we watch. Meet the main character of Hell on Wheels:

Day 72: Thursday, May 28:

Today I clamped a 2×4 to my weight bench in my basement and used an extension cord I found in the ceiling to power my circular saw. I’m not sure why I though this was a good idea, but then again… COVID don’t care.

By the way, it worked and I still have all my fingers and limbs.

Day 73: Friday, May 29:

Today I watched my boys get along. I heard Jax tell Oliver he was his best friend. I heard Oliver tell Jax he was his best friend. I watched them share.

Day 74: Saturday, May 30:

Today was the perfect day to sit by the fire.

Day 75: Sunday, May 31:

We had a nice little surprise visit today from the family. I finally got to hold my nephew!!!

Another month of Coronavirus Quarantine has passed… bring on June!

Happy Mother’s Day 2020

Dear Mom,

When you brought us into this world, I’m sure you weren’t prepared for what kind of damage and destruction we had in store for you. After all, being a good parent doesn’t come with instructions (or safety gear), but nothing kept you from loving and protecting us.

No one ever knows what life has in store for them and yet look at us. We made it! You were able to raise us and keep us safe (and let’s face it, dad is basically a toddler too, so essentially you’re raising three boys!!!) Even in a house of all guys, we all are growing up strong, happy, and caring.

Being a mom means being patient when your little boys want to run around and put stuff in the shopping cart when you just want to get the groceries and get out of Big Y. Being a mother means answering every dumb question we ask when you just want relax. Being a mother means watching “Trolls World Tour” over and over and over again even though your DVR is overloaded with Beverly Hills of Something shows. Being a mother means being able to take good care of your kids, (and dad, and Busty and Max), while still working 700 hours a week. Lastly, being a mother means being the never ending source of love and support for your kids.

You are the best mom anyone could ever ask for! Thank you for loving us and letting us grow up and learn how to be a good person from you. We love you very much!

Love Always,

Jackson and Oliver

And Buster and Max