Magical Dad Constructs Hidden Diagon Alley Behind Daughter’s Wardrobe

Daigon Alley Closet
(SUPPLIED)

The global pandemic has forced all of us to make changes in the name of health, safety, schooling, and more. It hasn’t been easy, and we’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. But there’s one thing it has given us more of, and that’s time. Time with our kids and families, time to learn new skills, and time to kill without much of the entertainment options we might otherwise have.

One amazing dad tackled all three of those things at once. His name is Dylan, and he lives in London where he shares custody of his daughter. He had a trip to Disneyland planned, but thanks to COVID, that had to be scrapped, so Dylan found another way to give his daughter Ella an amazing memory.

“I had to cancel our holiday to Disneyland and seeing Ella work so hard on her school work with me working (I have Ella with me half the time) was good, but gutting to not be able to give her all my time, I wanted to do something special,” he told The Dad.

 

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Building one of the shops, lots of late nights and early mornings!!

A post shared by Ella’s Dad (@ellasecretstreet) on

He remembered the two of them bonding over the first Harry Potter movie, and it gave him an idea for her birthday.

“One day I was standing in part of my house and I thought ‘it’s a bit like a mini street…’ I remembered the first day I watched the first Harry Potter film with Ella and thought wow how amazing would it be to put Diagon Alley in.”

He says it so matter-of-factly – “to put Diagon Alley in,” as if that were somehow possible. Well, for this handy, dedicated dad, it was. My man did it, spending months planning and designing the alley, making sure to customize the various shop fronts for his daughter’s interests, and another month to build it, making sure to do the work when his daughter was with her mom.

Not only did Dylan recreate JK Rowling’s famous street, he hid it behind his daughter’s wardrobe, calling to mind another beloved fantasy series.

“I kept having new ideas like the wardrobe as a way in, as she likes Narnia too.”

 

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Finding a secret street in a wardrobe durning lockdown!

A post shared by Ella’s Dad (@ellasecretstreet) on

“Ella’s reaction was stunned silence,” Dylan said,” and then her assertiveness kicked in and she said ‘can we keep this here forever!’ The rest of the day was spent exploring it and opening a few presents I had put in the shops. I also dressed up as Hagrid which was hilarious for us both as I had a rubbish accent and acting skills but it was fun all the same. We went as Hagrid and Ella back through the wardrobe and took her dad’s cushions for her reading nook.”

THERE’S A READING NOOK!

To recap: He spent months designing a secret Harry Potter-themed street, spent a month building it in secret, hid it behind his daughter’s wardrobe, stocked the different shops with gifts, and then he dressed in costume to explore it alongside her.

I think the Dad of the Year contest is over. We all lose.

Dylan’s handiwork has gotten a lot of attention over the past few days – both via his Instagram account and his YouTube channel, where he details the project and preps for his next one (a new toy shop just in time for Christmas) – but he didn’t do it for clicks, he did it for his daughter.

“The main inspiration for it was Ella,” he explained. “She has an amazing imagination as do most kids and it’s hard to keep up! Building it I was constantly excited when I finished something new she would discover so I’m going to keep going, adding bits and new games to play.”

He’s going to keep adding to it? Can we move in?

Follow Dylan via Ella’s Secret Street accounts on IG and YouTube, and check out the making-of video and Photos below.

There’s a Dark ‘The Hardy Boys’ Series Coming and Here’s the Trailer

Hardy Boys Trailer
(YouTube/Hulu)

When I was a kid, I read a whole bunch of Hardy Boys books. They were easy-to-read adventures and mysteries that served as a nice bridge between the Bunnicula and Judy Blume books I read in elementary school and the Anne Rice and Stephen King books I read in high school.

They were fun and simple and I was a kid with brothers too. I also loved to pretend I was a detective and that something sinister was always afoot in my boring Connecticut suburb. It was kind of a more realistic Scooby-Doo, and I suspect a lot of guys my age read them, just as girls my age read Nancy Drew.

Well, now our kids can find out about the Hardy Boys, in a much darker and sexier way! Hulu is hopping on the teen soap strain, picking up the baton from the CW’s Riverdale and bringing the sibling detectives to the small screen.

Based on books created in 1926, the TV series follows Hardy brothers Frank, 16, and Joe, 12, as they move from NYC to Bridgeport, CT (I was right!) and quickly become suspicious that there’s a conspiracy in town – and that their parents may be involved.

Check out the trailer for the show, which hits Hulu on December 2nd:

Tributes Pour in for The Undertaker Who Is Now Retired in Peace

Undertaker Retires
(WWE)

After 30 years of greatness, the Undertaker can finally Rest in Peace (from the professional wrestling world). The iconic WWE superstar made his official final appearance as a wrestler at Sunday’s Survivor Series and got a hero’s send-off as he enters retirement. rid

It’s easy to love the ridiculousness of pro wrasslin’, especially if you grew up in the 80s or 90s. And there’s a reason it was deemed an essential business during the dark early days of the pandemic. But the sad truth behind professional wrestling is very few of its stars get a proper send-off into retirement. There are far more tragic early deaths and bittersweet controversies than proper salutes to legends, which is why Undertaker’s final show was so great.

You know a wrestler has impacted the pop culture fabric like few others when even SportsCenter gives a nod to your retirement. The Undertaker, Mark Calaway’s character he’s embodied for three decades of ups and downs, gave one last heartfelt farewell speech, saying:

“For 30 long years, I’ve made that slow walk to this ring and have laid people to rest time and time again. And now my time has come. My time has come to let The Undertaker rest in peace.”

In an extremely touching twist, the WWE used a hologram of the late Paul Bearer, Undertaker’s longtime manager, recreating their old pose.

It was a fitting end to a career that started 30 years ago at a much different Survivor Series show, but his character impacted pro wrestling like few before or after. And many greats of the wrestling world were quick to highlight that, as The Rock quickly fired off a touching tribute.

Vince McMahon summed up Taker’s impact fittingly: “The measuring stick. The locker room leader. The Phenom. Three decades ago today, Undertaker changed the landscape of sports-entertainment. His legacy is incomparable, his impact immeasurable, ” he wrote on Twitter.

Soon, the #ThankYouTaker hashtag took off, letting other WWE stars chime in with the impact he had, with praise from John Cena, Shawn Michaels (they had some classic matches together), Triple H, Ric Flair, and more.

A truly legendary career, and a retirement tribute fitting of one.

Dad Has Sewn Over 200 Dresses for His Daughter To Bond Through Creativity

Dad sews over 200 dresses for daughter
(Instagram/daddydressedmebymg)

For many of us, getting our kids dressed in the morning is little more than a necessary chore to fit into our already hectic days. But for one dad named Michael Gardner, his daughter’s wardrobe became something that helped the pair bond throughout the years. Helping his 9-year-old daughter Ava get dressed doesn’t mean laying out an outfit the night before – for this crafty dad, it means starting from scratch. In fact, Gardner has started from scratch over 200 times, and he has no plans to slow down.

“I decided to start sewing for Ava to teach her to be confident, have high self-esteem, and to believe in herself,” Gardner told The Dad. “I have been creative since I was a kid, I was in search of a new creative challenge and sewing became the catalyst to achieve my mission. My goal was to bond with her through my creativity, which is the most impactful way that I express myself.”

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

When Ava was younger, her dad took creative control. Gardner started sewing dresses for Ava when she was just 3 years old, but as she’s gotten older, Ava has become an essential piece of the creative puzzle. She helps choose styles, fabrics, and once her masterpieces are complete, she helps choose locations for photoshoots.

“Ava and I have been inseparable since she was born,” Gardner explained. “The journey of me sewing and her modeling strengthened our bond. It is truly a collaboration on all levels. We share ideas, inspiration and encourage each other throughout the process. It has also allowed us to have in depth conversations and simply have fun together.”

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

Gardner is self-taught when it comes to sewing, and if he can do it, he truly believes that anyone can. Gardner learned to sew through YouTube videos and Pinterest, and last summer, he was named a brand ambassador for Janome Sewing Machines. This talented dad even started Daddy Dressed Me by Michael Gardner, a fashion brand and social media campaign. Through sharing the creations he and Ava have brought to life on social media, the creative duo has received support from around the world.

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

“Every time I am thanked for bringing joy, happiness and complimented for being a positive light in what’s been a challenging year I am truly amazed,” Gardner said. “Hearing that I am an inspiration as a creative and parent means so much to me.”

The bond between Gardner and Ava is immediately evident through their photos and videos, and since Gardner’s relationship with his own dad was less than ideal, being a great dad to Ava was especially important.

 

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A post shared by Michael Gardner (@daddydressedmebymg)

“I want people to know that it is absolutely possible to be the parent you choose to be, regardless of the circumstances in your childhood,” Gardner expressed. “I am blessed to have an amazing relationship with Ava, it’s a totally different experience than I had with my parents. I put in the work, time and love into providing Ava with all the things I wish I had as a kid, I broke the cycle and for that I am proud.”

Netflix Creates Bizarre Christmas-Themed Witcher Promo

Netflix The Witcher Christmas Promo
(Twitter/Netflix)

I’m not entirely sure that I would associate swordplay and dragons and monsters and Henry Cavill with Christmas, but I don’t work at Netflix.

Cavill stars as The Witcher in Netflix’s popular adaption of the videogame, and about the only thing he has in common with Santa Claus is the white hair. And maybe the enormous arms, I’ve never seen St. Nick with his shirt off. But that didn’t stop the streaming service’s social media people, who cobbled together a bunch of Witcher scenes and made a little holiday video out of it.

So far, Netflix has only aired one season of the show, and a making-of documentary and season 2’s production has been delayed by COVID, like everything else. So they don’t have a lot of new footage to work with, but they did their best, layering a Christmas song over clips from the show in a strange effort to connect it to the holiday season. They’ve even added Christmas lights and presents and more, for some reason!

Not sure how seeing a bunch of people get stabbed in the throat is the reason for the season, but gotta respect the effort!

Check it out:

‘The Last of Us’ TV Series Coming to HBO From Writer Behind ‘Chernobyl’ Series

The Last of Us
(HBO)

I don’t like starting every paragraph about a Hollywood project by bemoaning the constant remakes and reboots and hijacking of existing intellectual property, but you play the hand you’re dealt!

This time we’re talking about an adaptation of a video game, and for once it’s not another version of Resident Evil. This time, it’s The Last of Us, a beloved zombie game whose devotees swear is one of the best stories, videogame or otherwise, out there.

HBO must agree because they’ve just announced a plan to bring the popular game to their network in the form of a series.

If you’ve never played the game, Variety describes it as taking place twenty years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. (Spoiler alert: there are zombies GALORE!)

It sounds pretty bleak, which may explain why HBO has hired Craig Mazin, who created the network’s devastating Chernobyl miniseries, to write and direct. Mazin will work alongside Neil Druckmann, who created the game.

“Craig and Neil are visionaries in a league of their own,” said Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming. “With them at the helm alongside the incomparable Carolyn Strauss, this series is sure to resonate with both die-hard fans of ‘The Last of Us’ games and newcomers to this genre-defining saga. We’re delighted to partner with Naughty Dog, Word Games, Sony and PlayStation to adapt this epic, powerfully immersive story.”

The Last of Us was released in 2013, to acclaim and blockbuster sales, and last summer the sequel came out. We’ll see if that one eventually makes its way to HBO too.

Hibernate Through the Winter in Pizza Hut’s Weighted Pizza Blanket

Pizza Blanket
(Twitter/PizzaHut)

For all it’s faults, 2020 is coming to an end. And with it, 2021 brings the promise of vaccines and a much more normal world (without pepperoni shortages.) But, we still need to get through the winter, with many still stuck (mostly) at home. So if you’re going to be hibernating more than usual this winter, you gotta do it in style, like with a giant pan pizza weighted blanket. Pizza Hut is making the chill game even tastier with its new creation, part of a collab with the popular Gravity Blanket company.

The new Original Pan Weighted Blanket is modeled after the same exact pizza you remember wolfing down at birthday parties as a kid. It’s also the type of nonsensical brand product you just learn to accept these days. Giant pizza blanket? Sure. Waffle House Bacon Beer? Absolutely. And, to be fair, Pizza Hut has already earned our trust, especially after bringing back the Book-It program.

In a press release from the pizza maker, a spokesman said there was ‘no better way to close out 2020 than eating a Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza while wrapped in the warmth and comfort of the Original Pan Weighted Blanket.’

Honestly, I can think of worse ways to end this year, so yeah, sign me up for eating pizza and wrapped in the giant Pizza Blanket. The blanket is supposed to be a 15-pound weighted blanket (I’m not a Gravity Blankets guy, but their rep seems to hold up) and the blanket sells for cheaper than their normal products. It’s 72-inches in diameter and has a “luxurious” feel to it.

Weighted blanket people swear by them, so if you’re looking for that final touch to your Hibernation 2020 game, you can do worse than a giant pizza.

Father Figures: Selfless

“My husband Tim Parrish (@timatreez) has not only been an amazing dad to our boys but has shown me a level of selflessness I didn’t know was possible.

After I went back to work when our first son was two months old, he changed his entire work schedule to ensure he could be home with our son during the day. He gave up so much to be a full-time dad – and then work a night shift.

When we had our second (rainbow boy) he once again shifted his schedule to ensure our family had him when we needed him most so I could go back to work and focus on my career.

When Covid hit, he didn’t get to stay home. He had to work – often around people without masks – and had to come home to an exhausted wife, newborn, and toddler. He never flinched. He jumped right into wrestling, running, jumping, baseball, and baby wearing.

When I eventually lost my job, he told me to take time off and focus on me for a while.

He’s by far the most selfless, loving, and dialed-in dad and husband and we are so lucky to have him. He deserves recognition more than anyone I know because he refuses to accept that he’s gone above and beyond!”

– Meg Parrish

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney Bought a Soccer Team Together

Reynolds and McElhenney Buy Soccer Team
(Twitter/WrexhamAFC)

“The Gang Buys A Welsh Football Club.” It’s the Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode you never knew you needed, now that actor (and Sunny co-creator) Rob McElhenney and movie star Ryan Reynolds have teamed up to buy a Welsh soccer team. It’s one of those stories that only make sense in 2020.

Reynolds, aka Deadpool and home school gin connoisseur, can seemingly do no wrong, so we’ll get to see if his magic touch can extend to Wrexham AFC, one of the oldest professional soccer teams and one that’s currently entrenched in the fifth tier of English soccer. But the two are serious about turning the team around and plan to make it a “global force” around the soccer universe.

“This is really happening,” Reynolds said in a video released by the team. The club is fan-owned and approved the takeover by the two celebrities. Apparently, the duo did a lot of research after deciding they wanted to buy a soccer team and thought Wrexham AFC had the most potential.

Reynolds said he and McElhenney want to be at as many games as possible (once fans are allowed, post-pandemic) and ‘want to have a pint with the fans.’ They also plan to be ‘great ambassadors for the club’ and want to introduce them to the world.

The Wrexham Supporters Trust Board voted overwhelmingly to sell to the two celebs, as they have serious plans for community engagement and plans to improve their standing in the soccer world. Chief among them is a behind-the-scenes documentary to help bring more fans into the fold.

“You may never have heard of Wrexham, but you will. So to the Wrexham Supporters Trust, thank you for your faith and trust in us,” McElhenney said.

Reynolds added: “We are humbled and we are already getting to work.”

So now that two of our coolest and funniest celebrities have bought a soccer team, we all have a Cinderella squad to root for as Wrexham AFC works its way out of the cellar of the soccer world.

Thank a Teacher for Their Help in 2020 With a Free Card From Hallmark

Hallmark Teacher Giveaway
(Twitter/Hallmark)

Parents certainly understand the strain the pandemic has caused. Forget the professional costs (of which there are many), the added stress it’s caused for families as they navigate new school restrictions, and, in many places, remote learning has been intense. But we know that. One group feeling the other end of that strain this year? Teachers and school staff across the country.

Hallmark is honoring that group by giving away 1 million greeting cards to educators for the role they’ve played during the pandemic. We know how hard it is to get a kid to sit still for a Zoom class, imagine being the person responsible for actually teaching to 20+ kids via Zoom. And going just as hard in the paint as parents, teachers are going above and beyond to help kids through this weird time.

“For many parents, navigating their children’s education amidst a pandemic has been a difficult challenge,” a Hallmark spokesman told People Magazine.

“We’ve all seen so many teachers and school staff members rise to the challenge, working long hours and using their imaginations to deliver the best education possible from a remote, hybrid, or in-person learning environment. Despite these changes, one thing remains the same: the sincere connection between teachers and their students.”

Teachers, like parents, have had to get creative to connect and engage with little learners, and while the results may not always be pretty, WE ARE DOING IT. And it’s important to recognize everyone doing what they can to be as good to our kids as they can. If you’ve made your kid sit through a Zoom class, you know how much it sucks, and the endless patience required of teachers to completely re-learn how they teach and structure a classroom.

Is a Hallmark card (or, in this case, three) enough? Probably not, no. But it’s something you can do (for free!), by going through the Hallmark website, and sending some goodwill out to the educators and school staff helping us all through a schoolyear we would love to forget.