Eight going on EIGHTEEN! Seriously, when I woke up this morning I feel like you had a full beard and were reading the Wall Street Journal. It’s insane to me how much you have grown. You are such an exceptionally hard worker, a fierce, fierce friend and most importantly a loving big brother.
Eight years after you were born and we (mom and I) are still amazed by you every single day. Yes, you drive us crazy, there is a lot more talking back and many, many more “No’s” than all those years ago, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Covid has put a damper on so much of your childhood, but you continue to persist. Masks, virtual learning, vaccinations and social distancing are as much part of your birthday as cake and balloons. Yet, here you are… eight years old and still making the best of everything.
I’ve watched you pick up your brother when he falls, then push him back down five minutes later, then pick him back up again! I’ve watched Oliver have a meltdown and you try to calm him, then laugh. (Always with him, never at him… just like a big brother should do and I would know!)
You have become such a leader in your school and among your friends. You know right from wrong and always make sure to advocate for anyone that needs help.
Mom and I want nothing more than you to be happy, healthy and grow into a caring, kind and respectful young man… and if the past eight years are any indication… then you’re already there!
Happy Birthday, Jackson. We all love you very much!
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore
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).
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. (Thanks Bammy)!!!
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!”
We’re at the point in parenting children (in terms of a nighttime routine) where it’s not just dealing with diapers and trying to get them to sleep w out crying. Those infant stage all-nighters are expected when you have babies. They poop themselves and they want to eat that’s what babies do. But now we have older kids… no more babies. They are supposed to read a book and fall asleep peacefully.
Therefore, taking care of two children who are almost eight and five years old we expect nighttime cooperation. Unfortunately, these damn kids are at the age where they have learned that they have some power in the world, and they’ve decided to seize any opportunity to use it. We’re not surprised by our mini-negotiators saying anything to stall their bedtime—even if they’re about to fall asleep mid-sentence. That’s not an issue. I can deal with that.
But, this is different. This is every night at 1am… 2:30am… every night. They seek us out. They are just there. I don’t know how they get in our bed. I don’t understand the science behind being able to climb over us get under the blankets and not wake anyone up. They just do it. It’s magic, it’s sorcery. Somehow they just appear. Every. Goddamn. Night.
I wake up with either a foot jammed up my____, or with someone crying about a monster that might be in the closet, or bathroom, or on the roof. Listen, I respect that. I had my fair share of nightmares a kid. But, I’m starting to wonder if these stories are just made up. Legit, made up dreams to make mom and I just give in and let them stay in bed with us.
Case in point:
Last week… It was the middle of the night, and we were sound asleep (Steph had already abandoned ship after being up for hours trying to calm a miserable four year old who wanted to stay up and watch tv/ have a drink of water/ have a snack/ read one more book/ etc, etc, etc). I thought I had finally gotten a night of sleep only wake up at 3:30 to the sound of someone having a full on conversation in the bed. It took me a minute to realize it was Oliver talking to someone. I looked around to see who the hell he was talking too. “Steph?,” I whispered. That’s when I realized we were alone.
I jumped out of bed and did whatever a guy needs to do when he believes his home is being invaded, (or his son is possessed), I screamed like a 14 year old girl seeing Harry Styles for the first time in concert. “Ok, everything is fine,” I said to myself. No one is here. No poltergeist or anything like that, right? But then I heard more mumbling… “Gyro [our neighbors dog] is barking! His face is right there, but it’s square?!!!”
My first thought: WTF?!? My second thought: Is my kid hallucinating?!!
That’s our life now… waking up to children in our bed at 2am talking about our neighbor’s dog. (And we thought the baby night time stage was hard). It’s exhausting, but the good news is I’ve read some advice from a parenting blog (clearly one that takes themselves way more serious than #ChroniclesOfANewDad. Their advise was:
“Carry your midnight wanderer back to their room every time they bust into yours. If you let them crash with you, you’re setting the stage for a never-ending bedtime battle. Consider hanging bells on your doorknob so you can hear your toddler coming; that way, you can walk them back to their room before they climb into your bed and make themselves comfy.”
“Walk them back, tell them to stay in their own rooms, carry them back yourself”… it’s not working here (there’s no way it’s happening anywhere). Everyone has advise, everyone has ideas until they wake up with a foot in their butt-crack and a four year old talking to the next door neighbor’s dog!
About a month ago, it was a normal weekday afternoon as I walked down the driveway to the mailbox. Nothing pressing was on my mind other than how many Amazon Prime packages I might find. Today however, instead of finding boxes, bills or ads for extended car warrantees, I found a letter from almost 1,000 miles away (and no it wasn’t my acceptance letter from Hogwarts… although you have to admit that would be life changing too).
The envelopes were emblazoned with the Green Bay Packers logo stamped on both. I had tears in my eyes because I knew immediately what was inside, but would have to conceal both my excitement and the documents that were now in my hands.
People ask me all the time, (as I know they will both boys), how in the world did I become a Packers fan. Whenever I’m asked this question my head begins swimming with reasons…would it be Sterling Sharpe, who was Calvin Johnson before Calvin Johnson was even born and also happens to be the reason why I wore number 84 in my high school football days… Al Bundy reference). How about Brett Favre, the “Gunslinger of the North,” who kept us in every game? Or what about Charles Woodson, who displayed the heart of a lion and tried to play through a broken collarbone in order to bring the Lombardi Trophy home? Those are all obvious choices of why I became a packers fan. There are hundreds to choose from; I mean, come on! We’re the most legendary franchise in the NFL, right?
Then again, there is more to the Green Bay Packers than the legendary figures who once and still do roam The Frozen Tundra. To me, there is something else that makes our fan base a “real living, breathing thing.” Family… Vince Lombardi said it, my parents said it… heck, I’m saying it now… family is what makes being a Packers fan so special.
My boys were born seven and four years ago respectively and the joys of parenthood sometimes gets lost in dirty diapers, school events and sleepless nights… when the thoughts of Rodgers to Adams are far, far away. Yet, it’s that quick thought of ARod lofting a touchdown pass on a perfectly thrown back shoulder pass… even if for just a fleeting second, that gets me so excited. The thought of sharing the Green Bay Packers with my sons, the thought of Sundays with them in my lap, the thought of bringing them to Lambeau for the first time… that’s what it’s all about. It is the thought of something that is bigger than me, bigger than them… because the Packers make it about “US.”
Now that my family has grown, I have the opportunity to share something that is more than a game with my boys. And although there is no doubt there will be stories about that Gunslinger of the North, and the guy they called The Golden Boy, it will be more about the experiences father and sons share together. Besides, Coach Lombardi couldn’t have been wrong… he added it in his Top 3… God, FAMILY and THE GREEN BAY PACKERS
You see the Green Bay Packers are more than a team. These documents I was holding are about passing on a legacy. Now, both my boys can join me by saying they are more than fans… they are now the proud Owners of the Green Bay Packers.
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!
Drawing conclusions ✅
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!
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:
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:
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?”
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
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
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!!
Another one bites the dust 🦷. To bad he put all the Tooth Fairy’s money in the band’s tip jar at dinner tonight.
What do you do when it’s 9:45pm and you kid loses a tooth and you have no cash? We are literally repurposing birthday and Christmas money over here. Big shout out to Steph for leaving her purse unattended tonight at dinner which allowed Jackson to request at least seven songs in a row from the live band at dinner.
PS: Jax I want you to know how much I hate teeth. When you read this one day… just know how grossed out I was, but I kept a straight face and held strong like the brave and heroic dad that I am.
There’s nothing in the world as a parent that’s worse than waking up in the morning to a list of things that need to happen… Four-year-old’s birthday party… play date at the playground on the other side of town… Or meeting some new people from your child’s class.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a parent we’ve met that I haven’t enjoyed hanging out with. We’ve met some of our best friends through the boys, but at what point do parents of young kids get a break. It never ends. Baseball, soccer, swim lessons… play dates…
First, of all any attempt to label the word play as “session” annoys me. Why is everything timed now a days… “hey boys, your play will commence now. You will have fun for the one hour that has been allotted for this activity.” Why do we need to formalize the word play? A session should be used for scheduled visits with your personal trainer or therapist (although I’m not sure which one I need more after this pandemic shutdown!)
But, I digress… I woke up this morning to this email. (It was the greatest email of my life):
I needed a day of this. Both parents needed a day like this. We just need to normalize not having anything to do.
PS: We I wound up inviting multiple people over to swim in the pool this morning… so much for relaxing!
We’re still riding out a pandemic of epic proportions and yet there’s some hope for normalcy around the corner. I’m fully vaccinated. Stef is waiting for her second dose… the kids wear their masks like they would wear a pair of gloves in the winter. They wash their hands and use sanitizer like it’s their job. It’s no big deal to them anymore.
So today we ventured out as a family. Still masked up, sanitizer and Clorox wipes at the ready, but we decided to (god help us) go to the mall. I mean the grocery store, or a gas station during this pandemic is one thing, but the mall? It was a stretch, but we needed to get out of the house and to pick up a few things for the upcoming baseball season for the boys.
Oliver has never been to the mall, Jax has been maybe twice when he was in a stroller. This was like releasing to sharks into blood infested waters. I feel like I’d have more control over two monkeys released in a banana favorite (are banana factories real). If was insanity, but we survived. All children were accounted for upon our exit from the depths of hell and mom and dad are still talking to each other.
It was a successful day if you ask me.
The three stages of mall shopping:
1. In awe of the sheer size of the place you are in. The entire scene seems like a surreal version of supermarket sweep.
2. Enjoying perusing the many stores and exciting events. It’s like a carnival and a zoo had a baby. You see something you like, give the workers a plastic card and it’s yours!
3. All of the days hard work cumulates in being driven home snug in your car seat while dreaming of your next trip to shopping heaven (or as dad calls it… hell)!