Photo Card Companies & LGBT Families: Happy Holidays or Bah Humbug?

November 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Where are LGBT families in Holiday photo card catalogs?

Two years ago I examined how major photo card companies failed to represent LGBT families even once in their holiday photo cards. I issued a challenge to the four companies profiled, pledging to employ the services of whichever company made the change first to be inclusive of same-sex couples/parents.

The companies I profiled were Tinyprints, Shutterfly, Minted, and Snapfish. I chose these four because they all sent me catalogs, and because they all ranked among the top photo card companies, according to Top Ten Reviews. In the two years since, I’ve received three and then two catalogs, respectively, and have indicated that in the data below. As in 2013, when reviewing each company’s online offerings, I looked at the first couple of pages of Holiday and/or Christmas cards. This generally included between 150-200 cards.

The results are a mixed bag of naughty and nice…


Thousands of Foster Kids to Benefit From Boycott of American Girl

November 27, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF
American Girl boycott benefits foster kids

Amaya signs copies of American Girl magazine and meets new fans at Comfort Cases packing parties.

Earlier this month I shared the story of 11-year-old Amaya, featured in the most recent issue of American Girl magazine, chosen from among thousands of submissions because of her inspiring story. Part of her story is that she and her brothers were adopted from the foster care system by two loving parents, both of whom are men.

This ruffled the right-wing feathers of One Million Moms, who called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and parent company Mattel over this supposed furthering of the Gay Agenda. From One Million Moms’ web site:

“The magazine… could have chosen another child to write about and remained neutral in the culture war.”

Yet One Million Moms were fighting a one-sided war, as their boycott all but backfired. Due to the group’s homophobia, the story gained momentum and went viral. Amaya, her family, and American Girl were discussed, interviewed, and featured in an endless number of publications and news outlets, among them local Fox and NBC affiliates, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, ABC News, Good Housekeeping, Upworthy, Slate, Perez Hilton, and The View. Even Ellen DeGeneres posted in support of the family on her show’s Facebook page.


Ellen shows her support for Amaya and her family, temporarily crashing the Comfort Cases web site!

The other part of Amaya’s story is Comfort Cases — the charity co-founded by one of her dads — and its work supporting foster kids. As a result of the boycott and the related coverage, Comfort Cases is ending 2015 on a very, very good note.


Comfort Cases held its annual Holiday Packing Party on November 21, assembling 500 more cases than the previous year, a 70% increase.

The total number of cases collected and distributed in 2015 topped 10,000 — 4,000 more than 2014, and an increase of 65%.

With contributions coming in from all over the world, monetary donations to Comfort Cases will triple what they were in 2014. That’s 300%, folks.

American Girl boycott benefits foster kids

Hundreds of cases filled with PJs, toiletries & personal items, ready for distribution to area foster kids.

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As National Adoption Month comes to a close and we enter the holiday season, please consider making a contribution to Comfort Cases or a similar organization in your area. Let’s keep showing those that boycott, fear or hate, that family, respect and love always win.

  Donate to Comfort Cases

Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night: Which Character Are You?

November 16, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — one of best parts of being a dad is sharing the things I loved as a kid with my son. And with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looming on the horizon, we’ve had a blast experiencing anything and everything Star Wars-related.

And as if the awesome toys Hasbro sent us recently weren’t enough, they’ve hooked us up again — this time with a box of booty to have our very own Star Wars Family Game Night!

I loved playing board games with my family growing up. We had pretty much every word/trivia/brain-teaser game there was; and I’m sure this contributed significantly to my love of writing. Not to mention my competitive streak.

Game night was always fraught with fun and emotion, and everyone had their role to play. Mom, The Peacekeeper: making sure older brothers were more lenient with the younger; Dad, The Jokester: somehow managing to work a really bad pun into every answer he gave; Littlest Brother, The Ticking Time Bomb: always trying to keep up, rarely able to keep his cool. And then there was me, The Mastermind — masquerading as the mild-mannered big brother, but constantly plotting how to crush my younger siblings when they least expected it. (Cue maniacal laughter)

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As Jon is just 6, we’re still finding our roles when it comes to game night. But we did have a great time playing LOOPIN’ CHEWIE (his favorite of the bunch) with him and a friend. I’ll just post this photo as a review — you can’t fabricate a smile like this:

Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night Giveaway


Turning Hatred into Love: One American Girl & Her Forever Family

November 5, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

American Girl Amaya protested by One Million Moms

Five years ago today, a young girl named Amaya was legally adopted by her foster parents.

Two weeks ago, Amaya was featured in American Girl magazine. In her own words she shared the story of coming from the foster care system, becoming part of her permanent family, as well as the charity work she and her parents do in support of other foster kids.

Not long after the magazine was published, right-wing watchdogs One Million Moms called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and their magazine, warning parents against exposing their daughters to such a family.

And such a family it is.


Stellar New ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Character Posters Revealed

November 4, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

I know, I know — another freakin’ Star Wars thing. I was beginning to tire of the never-ending hype machine, too. But with these new character posters for The Force Awakens released today, I got all giddy again. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a kick-ass poster series.

While the “official” Star Wars posters are some of the most iconic in cinematic history, they tend to get a bit busy. Even the new one — overflowing with detail and daring dissection/interpretation — is a mite a lot overcrowded.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Character Posters collage

Click to enlarge/download this nifty collage for use as a Facebook cover photo. You’re welcome!

That’s why I love these new posters so much. Star Wars is about the big picture, for sure. But at its heart are the individual people/creatures/droids we’ve come to know and love, root for and hate. It’s what sets the Star Wars universe apart from so many other sci-fi stories — character.

And while these may not be as hip as this series from The Matrix Reloaded, or as action-packed as this set from the final Harry Potter film, they are singularly striking and powerful. Weapons drawn, staring us down… simultaneously allowing us a glimpse into their souls (or lack thereof).

Okay, I’m rambling. Enjoy the posters.


What If ‘The Peanuts Movie’ Starred Real, Live Actors?

October 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

As a lifelong fan of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang, I’m more than a little excited about The Peanuts Movie. However, other than the holiday specials, the 65-year-old brainchildren of Charles Schulz have lost a lot of their cultural impact. My 5-year-old knows who Snoopy and Charlie Brown are, but just barely. I can’t wait to fully introduce him to these beloved characters in their big screen debut.

And yet, I can’t help but worry that some of the depth and nuance — the humanity — of the Peanuts gang will be lost in this glossy, animated translation. The comic strips always had a subtle, adult sensibility to their humor that I fear may get dumbed-down by Hollywood. I could be wrong, but just in case…

how AWESOME would it be if there was a version starring real, live, adult actors? I’m sure the kids doing the voice acting in the film will do a swell job, but having adult embodiments of the characters would definitely make them more interesting for this older-than-G-Rated-fan.

With that in mind, below is my fantasy cast. I doctored the actors’ headshots a bit to help sell the match-ups… in case that wasn’t clear. (Warning: not all links are family friendly or SFW.)

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The Peanuts Movie Starring Real Actors: Louis CK as Charlie Brown

Who better to portray the film’s loser of a leading man than comedian Louis C.K.? A master of self-deprecation — and similarly doughy and balding — C.K. is the perfect grown-up (and slightly more bitter) C.B.

The 50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time: #11-20

October 22, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time

We’re getting so close I can taste it — and it tastes like…spinach?!? It’s the penultimate chunk of the 50 GREATEST SUPERHERO TV THEME SONGS OF ALL TIME!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about creating paradoxes and busting stereotypes. A blonde high school girl (with a very blonde name) who hunts vampires, demons & every other beastly thing…in a town called Sunnydale. Secondary to the core Girl Power message are her posse of nerdy (and mostly super-powered) sidekicks, and her doomed love affair with a soulfull vampire

The same paradoxes exist in the Buffy theme song, composed and performed by the nerdtastically-named Nerf Herder. It starts off with an old school monster movie organ, then kicks into indie rock high gear, all driving guitars and manic drumming, ending with a cymbal crash into a heap of spooky, hormonal fun.

Toy Box Life Lessons



My son’s transition to kindergarten has been more difficult than I’d anticipated. He finished preschool a confident, friendly, and bright young boy. I figured he’d just stroll into kinder (as the cool kids call it), turn on the charm, and settle right in.

Yet the first couple of months have been a roller coaster of emotions, for both of us. There are certainly plenty of good days, but also more bad than I’d hoped. The days — both good and bad — are long, a strain on his young mind and body.

My first inclination at pickup is to ask about his day…and if I sense something is amiss, to dig deeper, set it right, and dole out a life lesson on the spot. But often these attempts are met with blank stares from the weary 5-year-old in my back seat.

So when — and how — do I do my digging, setting, and doling? How do I discover what’s going on inside his scruffy little head, so I can then fill it back up with all the good stuff I want to share with him?


Branch Out with This DIY Groot Halloween Costume

October 13, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

DIY Groot Halloween Costume

For most, 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was their introduction to one of comicdom’s lesser-known super teams. Marvel’s gamble paid off, with millions becoming fast fans of Star Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and of course, Groot.

This majestic, trisyllabic creature is both powerful and compassionate, frightening and kind. And he steals every scene with a wooden smile and only three words: “I. Am. Groot.” Naturally, when my son requested begged to be Groot for Halloween, I said yes. Then I immediately panicked, having no idea how I was going to pull this off.


Are You Tough Enough to Tutu?

October 12, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts is sponsoring a campaign to raise both awareness and funds for breast cancer research. And to see how many of you are tough enough to wear a tutu.

breast cancer awareness month

Courtesy of Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC. Photo by Ward Morrison.

As you can see, this challenge is not a huge stretch for me. However, as a tutu-wearing advocate, I want to encourage as many of you as possible to participate in this fun way to give a little — a way that doesn’t involve getting doused in a bucket of ice water.

And when you think about it, wearing a tutu (or doing a walk or giving money) involves very little bravery when compared to those living with and fighting breast cancer. I’ll wager there are very few people who read this who haven’t been affected by breast cancer, whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or yourself.


1. Take a photo of yourself in a tutu.

Don’t have one lying around? Head to your closest A.C. Moore, where they sell a tutu-making kit, just for this occasion! For you crafty types, you can make your own using this short tutorial from A.C. Moore’s web site.

2. Share the photo on social media with #‎Not2Tough2Tutu‬.

And if you knew my late friend Oren, add a #Dads4Oren to it, too. While Oren didn’t have breast cancer,  he had it pretty much everywhere else — and his life and death continue to motivate me to get more involved, to give back, and to live life to the fullest.

3. Tag 3 friends to join the challenge.

Call them out. Triple-dog-dare them. Throw down the frilly, tulle gauntlet. It can be anyone — man, woman or child. Big, hairy dudes are of course the funniest, but please don’t limit yourself to that.


In addition to putting a smile (or a giggle) on everyone’s face who sees it, for every post on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the AC Moore Foundation will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society.

As an added bonus, I’m matching that by donating an additional $1 for every social media post that also tags me. (DesignerDaddy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) If you don’t have the time or inclination to don a tutu, please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society anyway.

Got questions? Shoot me a message, leave a comment, or check out the official press release from A.C. Moore. It also explains their inspiration and motivation for the #Not2Tough2Tutu campaign.

And finally, here’s the original challenge video, from A.C. Moore’s CEO (and fellow fat, hairy dude), Pepe Piperno:

#Not2Tough2TutuOur CEO Pepe Piperno is #Not2Tough2Tutu, are you? A.C. Moore will donate $1, up to $25,000, to American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer for every picture we see. So put on the tutu, post a pic, use the hashtag, and prove you aren’t too tough to tutu!

Posted by A.C. Moore on Thursday, October 1, 2015

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To learn more about the American Cancer Society, or to make a donation directly, visit

To see me in (yet another) pink tutu (minus the makeup and wig, sorry), follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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