15 Minutes of Fame

What a few weeks. Your neighborhood Dad Blogger became the newest viral sensation. I was a Kardashian (minus 40 billion dollars). I was Barstool Sports when they hit it big. I was everywhere you turned… no, but really.. it was fun while it lasted:

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The number of online articles, magazines, newspapers and news outlets that picked up the story was amazing.  Some wanted interviews and others just a few quotes about the project, but it was a lot of fun feeling famous for a few minutes! (and let’s face it nothing beats being the #1 best blog on “Stairs”).

Besides having a bunch of great articles written about the project, there were just as many amazing comments on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest:

Going viral isn’t always a good thing… just look at whats happening with… well anyone who does something stupid on Facebook Live or Twitter… but in this case… going viral was pretty cool… it definitely provided me with a way to connect with people all over the world that I would otherwise not have been able to.  New Harry Potter fans and a lot of new readers on the blog are a direct result of this project… which is pretty cool!

Some of the Facebook posts had literally hundreds of thousands of interactions:

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The “Love What Matters” post and article has had over 10,000 unique interactions

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My original post on my Facebook account (where all the hoopla started) has had over 3,000 likes and shares.

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After the Parents Magazine article, they posted the video review of the project which has had over 120,000 views.

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People from everywhere were commenting on the project.  The world was my oyster for about two weeks…

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The shaded areas show where Chronicles of a New Dad was viewed in the few days after the Cupboard Under the Stairs blog was published. (Darker the color the more views there were
Here are links to some of the better articles and interviews that were written:
  1. https://www.fatherly.com/play/father-builds-replica-cupboard-under-stairs-harry-potter/
  2. https://www.popsugar.com/moms/Dad-Re-creates-Harry-Potter-Cupboard-Under-Stairs-44489977
  3. https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/everything-kids/dad-recreated-the-cupboard-under-the-stairs-from-harry-potter/
  4. http://www.scarymommy.com/harry-potter-cupboard-under-stairs-reading-nook/
  5. https://www.babble.com/parenting/peter-fragola-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs/
  6. https://www.purewow.com/news/dad-recreates-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs
  7. http://www.yuryz.com/youve-got-to-see-this-dads-harry-potter-inspired-cupboard-under-the-stairs/
  8. https://www.simplemost.com/dad-remakes-harry-potter-cupboard-under-stairs/
  9. https://www.beano.com/posts/someones-dad-has-given-their-cupboard-under-the-stairs-a-harry-potter-makeover
  10. https://www.thebump.com/news/dad-builds-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs
  11. http://www.cluebees.com/more/just-in/this-father-recreated-the-Harry-Potters-room
  12. http://diply.com/dad-creates-harry-potter-cupboard?publisher=different-solutions&config=21
  13. http://helenair.com/lifestyles/simplemost/dad-recreated-harry-potter-s-cupboard-under-the-stairs-for/article_2de9793e-d097-5a08-b5e8-5c9811c4dac1.html
  14. http://www.morefm.co.nz/home/trending/2018/01/dad-builds-sons-the-perfect-harry-potter-reading-corner-under-th.html
  15. https://vipleyo.com/america/baby/2018/01/11/this-dads-harry-potter-cupboard-under-the-stairs-is-all-sorts-of-amazing/
  16. https://www.magicmum.com/dads-recreation-of-harry-potters-room-is-what-dreams-are-made-of/http://www.morefm.co.nz/home/trending/2018/01/dad-builds-sons-the-perfect-harry-potter-reading-corner-under-th.html
  17. http://harrypotter.trendolizer.com/2018/01/dad-recreated-the-cupboard-under-the-stairs-from-harry-potter-for-his-sons.html
  18. http://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/dads/dad-builds-a-potteresque-cupboard-under-the-stairs-and-we-want-one/news-story/d5feb87822f3f27eb077b51b46425c93

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

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 Potter and the Staci Miller Newborn Photos

I’m not sure if i have a writing style… if you had to narrow it down I know a few people might say my style is “grammatically horrible,” or “not really funny”… something like that. First Person Narrative… I guess that’s the closest you can get to narrowing down the writing. I mean the blog is titled Chronicles of a New Dad… I’d like to think I’ve Chronicled my perspective on having kids in a unique way.

But, today… I’ve decide to change it up a bit… I needed to tell someone thanks. Thanks for quite a bit actually. So I’m changing things up a little bit and am going writing letter style.

Dear Staci Miller (Photography),

It’s been almost three years since you came into our life… expensive Nikon camera, gorgeous props and the patience of a saint. Yes, early on in our relationship you had a different name… Pink Elephant… different but still amazing. And that’s just it… i needed to thank you for bringing amazing to life.

Not many people can take the thoughts that swim around in this weird brain of mine… take those abstract ideas and make them concrete. You’ve successfully, in essence, painting the pictures of my mind and put them on canvas. You’re an artist with a flash and lost of fluorescent lighting.

The thing is, that’s not even what makes these pictures a masterpiece. It’s the fact that you have to deal with me… a hyper… anxiety riddled parent who is obsessed with details. I’m the Jack Nicholson (As Good As It Gets Nicholson) of parenting during new born photos. OCD to the max.

You’ve taken photos of a wizards hat and wand… you successfully posed an infant on a giant piece of cheese and most impressive of all captured numerous shots while getting peed on. It’s impressive to say the least.

There was the time at the barn where Jackson got bit by a rooster, the time where we got you caught up in a beach wedding with Miller Highlife cans in the background, the session where I made you take pictures of my sons butt and the time my pants were too tight to help hold Oliver’s head up. I admit to ruining quite the few “perfect shots.”

You took pictures while my son puked on your floor, peed on your brand new background and shattered glass Christmas ornaments (ok the ornaments were my fault… and I may have eaten a few cheese sticks out of your fridge, but you catch my drift… we’re not easy subjects to photograph.

But that all pales in comparison to the latest sitcom-like experience. You know the one where I made you snap photos of my son inside a flower pot while he was screaming (purposefully making him cry, because that’s what Mandrakes do in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… (which by the way is my least favorite book and movie).

You did it all with a smile on your face and 85mm – 135mm lens in your hand (is that a real thing I know nothing about cameras?). You always welcomed us in your home, or your studio or some random farm, which if I were you I’d suggest every time since then Jackson can’t eat all your cookies and string cheese.

And for some reason you keep having us back and the pictures get better each time we do. For that… I thank you… from the bottom of my Harry Potter loving heart.


And then the unprofessional, I should have been helping instead of sneaking pictures w my iPhone, pictures:

 

Here is the link to Jackson’s newborn photos: https://chroniclesofanewdad.com/2014/05/10/5-10-14-newborn-photos/

Visiting  with an Old Friend: Harry Potter


“There’s no way I’m reading this book.” I think I tried at least half a dozen times before finally giving up and looking for an Internet summary for a young-adult lit class in college. You see I was a “track star” and didn’t have the time for a story about witches and trolls or whatever these books were all about. It wasn’t until months later, during a dull summer afternoon I gave the Boy Wizard and his Lightening Bolt Scar another shot.

Fifteen-ish years… and seven books, eight movies, two trips to the Harry Potter thee park in Orlando and half an armfull of Harry Potter tattoos later, I’m on the verge of attending a midnight release of another Harry Potter book.

I am 37 years old and just became an elementary school principal and I now have a son who turned three this past spring and another who is five months old. Like most of us who are now in our 30s, we grew up alongside the amazing world of Harry Potter, and the impact it has made on our life is hard to quantify. For my generation, although I joined the wizarding world a little later than most of my peers, Harry Potter is a close friend and trusted companion. We came of age with the the a young boy who came of age after leaving the cupboard under the stairs and have taken him into adulthood with us. I can’t imagine a childhood without him, and I’m so glad he’s stuck around as I’ve grown older.

The books came to me at a time when reading was a chore… an assignment or research needed for a paper. I was in college and hadn’t been really interested in a book since The Catcher in the Rye or A Separate Peace which I read early on in high school. I was interested in my practice schedule and where my next track meet was. I didn’t have time for “reading for fun.” Plus I was never really a fan of the fantasy genre. I never really got into Star Wars and at the time had only read one book in the Chronicles of Narnia series (The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, of course for an assignment). 

All that until I met a young wizard when I was in my early twenties. I was immediately… pardon the pun… enchanted by J.K. Rowling’s… pardon the pun… magical way of spinning a tale. Harry, Ron and Hermione felt like old friends and Hogwarts felt like home. I had never interacted with text the way I did with these books. I had heard of “page-turners” before, but never held one myself. That was until that dull summer day all those years ago.  

I tore through the first book in a few weeks, the second in about the same. Then came the Prisoner of Azkaban, my favorite of the series, which I devoured in three days on a trip to Boston. Book four, the longest of the series, took me about a week and was the first book I reread multiple times. The Order of the Phoenix was the first book I bought the day it was released and got through it in a few days. Then came book six, The Half Blood Prince. My first midnight release party. I asked Stephanie to marry me, gave her a ring and sprinted to the small Indy bookstore on the Wildwood boardwalk to wait in line with hundreds of other people. I celebrated my engagement by reading in the hotel lobby until five in the morning and had the book finished on the beach the next day. The final book was a sad and excited day for me. The last time I’d travel to Hogwarts with my friends, but also finally a chance to see our story to the finish line. I picked my preordered copy up at 8:00am and read 36 chapters and one epilogue (759 pages) in 17 hours. I stopped to eat and shower (I read in during bathroom breaks too). 

The Potter fandom has created a life-line for the stories years after the books and movies came to an end. The stories centralized themes of friendship and leadership helped me be more self-reflective and inspired others to create charities like the Harry Potter Alliance. A recent study led by top professors across the world states the “people who grew up reading Harry Potter are more politically engaged and develop keener social perception and increased empathy.”  


It’s been years since I picked up a new Potter book, but my time in the Wizarding World has still been busy. From Mugglenet.com and MuggleCast, to Pottermore online, movies, plays… and now as an educator and father introducing a new generation to my old friends and Professor Dumbledore’s wise words. My sons newborn photos were done with a Harry Potter theme, which I’m sure he will love me sharing when he’s in his teens. That’s what this series is all about… learning to love reading, whether it’s for the first time or like me learning to love reading again later in life. 

I’m excited to bring my sons to Hogwarts for the first time and introduce them to my old friends. I’m interested to see if they’ll be sorted into Slytherin like his father… although based on Jackson’s adventurous, brave and quite daring side… I have a feeling he might be a Gryffindor… just like that Boy Wizard with the Lightening Bolt Scar. Either way, I think we’ll all be awaiting our Hogwarts letters together

Here are some other Harry Potter related blogs I’ve written: 

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/florida-trip-told-through-harry-potter-quotes/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/jax-tattoo/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/my-son-is-a-parseltongue/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/backtohogwarts/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/jackson-and-the-deathly-hallows/

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/for-in-dreams/