A Coming of Age Tale

A tale as old as time…

It’s a typical coming of age story… part of a genre and film that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to… well in this case… from youth to youth. The typical coming-of-age story tends to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, but in this here… in Oliver’s case… the kid is like barely one year old. Let’s not focus on the dialogue or lack there of and just look at the fact that this little boy is about to become a menace to society. He’s mobile and not just rolling over, or crawling around on all fours.

The subjects of coming-of-age stories are typically teenagers, which makes sense considering you need some years behind you in order to actually “come of age.” But not in this case, Oliver is walking… he’s a danger to not only himself but everyone around him! I’ve seen this far too many times (just once really- Jackson), but I know what’s going to happen. We’re going to wind up with a few falls at the very least… and to be honest, I predict numerous black and blues and at least one hospital visit in the very near future.

Keep your fingers crossed this kid is more coordinated than his bother and his father.

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:

independant record

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

Quality vs Quantity

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, “is more time.”

I used to think playing a sport at the Collegiate  Division 1 level was one of the most time- consuming things in my life. Then I got a job as an elementary school teacher and and realized balancing my career with every day life was just as hard… And then I had a child; while I was an administrator in an elementary school and realized I had it all wrong, because this was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done…

…Fast forward four years, I now take on the role as a principal and added an extra 35 minutes to my drive, talk about time-consuming. After reflecting on my first few weeks… I’ve come to realize every new role you take on in life always becomes the next toughest thing you face. (Honestly though when I say toughest thing to face, I’m not talking about being able to handle the workload, or stress level, or anything of the sort. Those type of things come naturally to me and never have been much of an issue). Honestly, I don’t feel stress and pressure is not something that phases me. 

I will however, admit it’s tough spending time away from my little guy. My new role as a school principal takes up the majority of my day. When I’m awake… I’m think about being a principal, when I’m about to fall asleep… I’m thinking about being a principal, when I do fall asleep… I wake up and write down things that I thought about in terms of being a principal that I dreamt of while I was sleeping.  That has nothing to do with being stressed, or overworked, or anything of the sort. That has to do with being me. I’m detail oriented, dedicated and committed to what I do. I love what I do.  

Yet, now as I get home some nights at 7 o’clock… a quick hug, a kiss and a bedtime book is about all I get with Jackson. I know I’ve written about this before. This is not something new to me, or to any 21st century parent. Time is something that we all want more of… yet we will never get. There is always the quality vs quantity debate. But to be honest I’m not sure what to make of that when it comes to spending time with my son. Is there anyway I can get quantity AND quality time… at the same time… all the time? 

For now I have to accept the fact that I am doing what I love during the times I am not with him, and know that he is spending time with the people that also love him as much as i do when I am at work. Whether it’s mom, or Grammy, Mima or Auntie… I’m happy knowing he’s happy. 

After working a long day… Coming home to that hug and kiss goodnight means just a little bit more these days.  Just don’t be surprised if I read an extra book or two with him before bedtime… I’ll take quantity AND quality tonight please.

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/lost-time-is-never-found-again-benjamin-franklin/

Jax’ Tattoo Part II

  
“If anything should happen to me, the love for my son should never go unsaid.”
I loved this quote the first time I saw it… It’s one of those timeless sayings that means so much in such few words. 

 
   

PS: Rib tattoos are horrible, intensely painful works of art. Jax better appreciate the fact that I endured enough pain to qualify for FMLA.  Next time I think about getting a tattoo on my ribs… I’ll settle for freehand sharpie work by Jax himself.