Tag Archives: harry potter

Mixed Signals

17 Oct

wait wait

letter This year for Halloween my son will be going as “John Williams Music”.

…not really. But this picture was so awesome I just had to share.

-Dork Dad


1,818 Pages

26 Aug

letter Take a moment to do the math.

“Sorcerer’s Stone” – 309 pages.

“Chamber of Secrets” – 341 pages.

“Prisoner of Azkaban” – 435 pages.

“Goblet of Fire” – 734 pages.

Grand total: 1,818 pages

((“Order of the Phoenix” – 870 pages.))

Yeah. I don’t think so.

One thousand, eight hundred and eighteen pages... and still 3 books to go.

One thousand, eight hundred and eighteen pages… and still 3 books to go.

At long last we made it to the end of the 4th book in the Harry Potter series; which is to say *I* made it to the end of 1,818 pages — bit by bit, night after night, reading aloud to my two older children over the better part of a year. As per our agreement we let them watch the 4th movie for Friday movie night. As excited as they are about those stories and as pumped as they were for the movie, there has been an twinge of sadness in the air since then because sadly, at least for the time being, this is where we have to stop.

In less than 12 months, with the exception of the odd guest-reader here and there, this DorkDaddy has read aloud every single one of those pages, doing all of the voices and keeping them all straight in my head. I don’t mind admitting I’m exhausted. But more importantly, this is where the subject matter really extends beyond the grasp of a 7 and 5 year old. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is where the series, much like the kids in it, matures from children’s fare to young adult material. Students at Hogwarts start to notice other boys/girls in *that* way, and the romance angle between Hermione and Ron shows its first signs of life. Thankfully at this point all those nuances are lost on my kids. This is also where Lord Voldemort legitimately comes back to life in a dark, sacrificial ritual and the larger epic life-or-death struggle between dark and light factions comes starkly into focus. A classmate of Harry’s is even killed outright. I think we can all agree that there’s no need to push a kindergartener and 2nd grader into that sort of material before they’re ready.

Finishing book 1, back in November.

Finishing book 1, back in November.

That said, my daughter being who she is, made an impassioned plea to read book 5 to herself, on her own, and keep going with the series. Here’s the thing. The rule in the house has always been that you have to read the book before you can watch the movie. That’s been a great strategy for keeping inappropriate movie material out of their reach. The next book in the series “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” is 870 pages long. In all seriousness, the way I see it if a kid is mature enough to legitimately make it through a 870 page book completely on their own, he or she should be mature enough to handle the subject matter. So when Episode IV made her case, I handed the book over to her knowing the chances were slim.

Still, Saturday night after the boys went down, Episode IV went to her room with a new Harry Potter book to read and a twinkle in her eye. This was big kid stuff. To sweeten the deal I even told her she could stay up as late as she wanted, so long as she was reading from that book. I tucked her in, kissed her on her forehead, wished her “good night and good luck” with a wink, and closed her bedroom door. UnDorkMommy went out for mom’s-night-out with her girlfriends and I settled in to dip my toe into a new video game.

Half an hour later Episode IV came out of her room and padded down the hallway to me. “Daddy,” she said sadly, a defeated look on her face. “I like it better when you read it to me.” Bless her sweet heart, she pushed through seven pages before she had to acknowledge that a book like that is just a little bit bigger than she could chew. I hugged her, told her it was OK, and took her back to her room to tuck her in again.

I know what someone's getting for Christmas.

I know what someone’s getting for Christmas.

“But Daddy,” she said. “What are we going to read now?” The flaw in my plan was revealed. For all my hand-wringing about how I was going to wean her off of the Harry Potter books I forgot to have a viable alternative ready to go. I scrambled quickly through the house for something that might be comparably dorky and appropriate for her age and stumbled across “The Hobbit”. We’ve had a false start or two on that book before when she was younger, but I’m happy to report that the tone and the style of “The Hobbit” is now perfectly suited for my precocious 2nd grader.

After our first installment reading and our 2nd good-night tucking in of the evening, Episode IV said to me “Daddy, I like the Hobbit OK and we can keep reading it, but it isn’t my favorite because there aren’t any girls in it.” Fair enough, sweetheart. Fair enough.

Although I must say I suspect, at least in my daughter’s mind, that Hermione Grainger could hold her own pretty well in a wizard’s duel against Gandalf The Gray.

Any suggestions for female-friendly, 2nd grade appropriate, fantasy-type books would be appreciated.

-Dork Dad

title pages

Butterbeer… YUM!!

6 Jun


letter Those poor, poor kids when they’re sick.

Nothing is more pathetic or heart-wrenching than a kid who just doesn’t have the energy to eat, or smile, or get up off the couch. That was us this weekend. Over the course of three days our three kids passed around a nasty bug that took each of them sequentially out of commission. The first one went down, and the other two fell shortly thereafter. Three different days, three different sick kids.

You can only sit around the house watching Harry Potter movies for so long – especially when you’ve only unlocked the first three so far (Have I mentioned that Episode IV’s passion for the “Harry Potter” series has only intensified? She’s written at least two more books since I blogged about it last.) When Sunday rolled around and it was clear we weren’t getting out of the house any time soon, I had to do something to get them out from in front of the television.


Since “Harry Potter” was the only thing Episode IV had the energy to be interested in, I wracked my brain for SOMETHING “Harry Potter” related to get them off the sofa, out of the house and into the daylight and fresh air – if only for a little while. In a moment of inspired genius I remembered a picture that flashed across my Facebook feed many months ago and did a quick google image search to find it again.


For those of you who know the “Harry Potter” franchise well, butterbeer and pumpkin juice feature regularly in the stories as beverages of choice for school-age children. There’s actually an entry for both on the Harry Potter Wiki page (butterbeer here and pumpkin juice here). JK Rowling never specified what was in the drinks, only that they were warm, sweet and delicious.

“Hey kids, I’ve got an idea,” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. “How about, for this weekend’s project, we make BUTTERBEER… just like in ‘Harry Potter’?”

That got their attention.

Still in their pajamas, but wearing shoes (a major victory) I got the two big kids in the minivan and, recipe in hand, off we went to Safeway (please pick up a grande’, extra hot, upside down, caramel macciado from Starbucks for UnDorkMommy while you’re out thankyouverymuch).

I put both kids in the shopping cart and whisked them through the aisles while we looked for the necessary ingredients.

When we made it back, Episode IV went straight back to the couch and crashed – too tired from being sick to muster the energy for one of DorkDaddy’s weekend projects. But Episode V was up to the challenge.


We had a good time learning the difference between a “tsp” and a “tbs”, how to follow a recipe (“Daddy, this is just like doing legos”) and how to be safe around the stove and knives. Ultimately the recipe turned out pretty well, and Episode IV had a nice treat waiting for her when she woke up.

Don't make fun of my 70's kitchen.

Don’t make fun of my 70’s kitchen.

Do a search for “Butterbeer recipe” or “Harry Potter pumpkin juice” and naturally you’ll find all sorts of different recipes. Given the energy level in the house this weekend I chose the easiest one. But if you’re particularly crafty around the kitchen and you’re looking for something fun to do with your little witch or wizard this weekend, here are the best recipes I came across. Have fun conjuring.

drink and enjoy

drink and enjoy



Recipe 1)
2 liter cream soda
2 tablespoons Butter extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
*drop the extracts into the 2 liter bottle, put on cap and slowly rotate until combined.

Cream topping
1 7oz container of marshmallow creme
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon rum extract
*add all items together in an electric mixer and combine until smooth.

Pour the butterbeer into a glass,  drizzle with the cream topping, and enjoy!

Recipe 2)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
24 oz of your favorite cream soda
2 tsp vanilla butter nut flavoring

Measure the heavy whipping cream into a bowl, then add powdered sugar. Whisk briskly until whipped.

Once your cream topping is ready, add your vanilla butter nut flavoring to your cream soda and stir gently so you don’t get rid of all the carbonation in the soda.

Pour the butterbeer into a glass,  drizzle with the cream topping, and enjoy!

Recipe 3)

1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.


Recipe 1)

This is probably the simplest recipe for pumpkin juice around.

5 cups apple juice
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1) Combine all in a large pitcher and stir well
2) Let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator
3) Strain it (if too thick)
4) Chill or serve iced

Recipe 2)

A pretty good version of pumpkin juice!

2 cups diced pumpkin
2 cups apple juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup pineapple juice

1) Juice the pumpkin
2) Combine the pumpkin juice to the pineapple and apple juice
3) Add honey and blend in a blender
4) Serve iced

Recipe 3)

A variation on Recipe #2 with an added spicy kick to it.

2 cups of pumpkin, chopped into chunks
2 cups of apple juice
1/2 cup of pineapple juice
1 teaspoon of honey
Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg or allspice

1) Juice the pumpkin pieces
2) Pour the pumpkin juice, apple juice, and pineapple juice into a blender
3) Add the honey to the juices and blend
4) Add your spices (to taste)
5) Chill or serve iced

Recipe 4)

This is a healthy version of pumpkin juice with all natural juices, no sweeteners.

24 ounce Pumpkin (deseeded and skinned)
3 Oranges
1 inch Root Ginger

1) Remove sections of pumpkin and scrape off seeds
2) Remove the pumpkins skin
3) Feed the pumpkin flesh through juicer
4) Peel the orange and ginger skins off
5) Juice the ginger followed by the oranges
6) Blend the pumpkin, orange, and ginger juices
7) Chill or serve iced

Recipe 5)

This is an instant variation that is a blend of four different dry ingredients. There is no pumpkin in this recipe, so it is not for Happy Potter purists!

1/2 cup regular instant iced tea mix
1 cup orange drink mix
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1) Mix 2-3 Heaping tsp mix in 1 mug of Hot water.
2) Stir well
3) Serve hot or chilled (serve with ice)

-Dork Dad

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