I’m continuously amazed at the evolution of Oren Miller’s legacy. Last summer’s walk along Hadrian’s Wall (to open a camp in Oren’s name) recently received recognition at the 2017 Iris Awards. Winning in the Philanthropic Work of the Year category, now even more people are aware of Oren, Camp Kesem, and the cause to support families touched by cancer.
The Iris Awards are given out at a swanky ceremony held in conjunction with the Mom 2.0 Summit. Nominees and voters are from within the parent blogging community, so it’s particularly meaningful to receive kudos from dear friends and respected colleagues.
But it was also pretty amazing being honored alongside the 12 men I now consider my brothers. Being able to celebrate with them only amplified my excitement, as well as my pride in our achievement of walking nearly 100 miles and raising over $40,000.
Check out the video of our award being announced (and of me speaking), beginning at the 24-minute mark.
And the story has chapters yet to be written. The Camp Kesem started in Oren’s name at the University of Maryland is training counselors this fall, and will hold its first summer camp next year. You can bet I will be there, cutting a ribbon or rowing a kayak or whatever I can to celebrate my friend, his life, and the hope and strength for kids affected by their parents’ cancer.
Board games have been a favorite family pastime for nearly a century, purporting to bring parents and children together and teach valuable skills like colors and stuff. But as many families know, what they really do is drive deep, pie-shaped wedges between spouses, create world-conquering rivalries between siblings; and generally scare the bejesus out of the cat. Even on game nights not boiling over with incessant whining and arguing, there’s still the mind-numbing boredom.
And yet, it is our duty as involved parents — nay, as Americans — to subject ourselves and our progeny to these worlds overflowing with candy and ladders and murder weapons and New Jersey real estate.
I’ve found that a little libation makes any activity run more smoothly. Classy folks look to experts for pairings of alcohol with their cheeses, meals, or cigars. You can even find wine to go with Girl Scout cookies. So why not match up cocktails with board games?
I polled a bunch of parents to learn their most-hated games. Then I played them all with my kid while I drank a bunch of stuff to see which combos were most fun tolerable. Here are my scientific/strategic/spirited recommendations.
When my son turned seven earlier this year, I had a couple of simultaneous epiphanies. First, I realized Jon was now the age I was when I experienced two of the most significant milestones of my life. Second, he’s going to remember a lot more from here on out, so I’d better get my shit together.
ME AT SEVEN
Not long after my seventh birthday, I did what every good preacher’s kid does around that age — I got “saved.” Accepted Jesus into my heart. In non-Baptist layman’s terms: I officially became a Christian. My father baptized me shortly afterwards.
My motivations were probably typical for a seven-year-old; a mix of peer pressure, avoiding Hell, and a sense of inevitability. Having been taught about salvation since birth, there was never any doubt I’d end up born again. And fear of eternal damnation aside, there was some comfort in knowing I was fulfilling my duty as a Good Son.
In thinking about this from my own fatherly perspective, it’s more meaningful to me than it has been for quite a while. Notwithstanding my spiritual path from that point until now, I can only imagine how special it was for my father to have that moment of bonding, when he baptized me in front of his congregation. I aspire to such moments with my own son.
The other milestone from that year was on a much less public scale, but equally significant. I had my first dream about a boy.
I don’t recall the dream being overly romantic or sexual; it was the intimacy that struck me. A faceless, nameless boy and me, both naked, sitting side-by-side on the floor by my bed. I don’t remember how I felt immediately following the dream; yet after coming out as gay nearly 20 years later, it was the point I looked back to and said, “This was the first time I knew.”
While I have memories from as early as two-and-a-half (hello, little brother … goodbye, only childhood), seven certainly sticks out at as a watershed year.
SPRING IS IN THE AIR!
Flowers are blooming! Bees are buzzing! And of course lots of excited young’uns are scurrying about, frolicking in the sunshine like kittens on Red Bull.
It’s possible your kids are just excited about spring break; but in all likelihood they’re already looking ahead to summer. Help keep those little minds focused on the last few months of school by celebrating all things spring! I’ve pulled together some of my favorite spring-themed lunch notes to help put some fresh fun in your kids’ lunch.
When it comes to ideas for springtime lunch notes, just look out the window. Plants, flowers, and trees; butterflies, bugs and other creepy-crawlies; birds, frogs, picnics — you get the picture. And don’t forget Earth Day is April 22!
There’s no shortage of springy characters to be found in comics, video games, TV and children’s books. L to R, top row: Bulbasaur (Pokémon), Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), Curious George, Clayface (DC Comics/Batman). Middle row: Wasp (Marvel comics/movies), Toad (Super Mario games), Kermit the Frog, Ant-Man* (Marvel). Bottom row: Red (Angry Birds), Spider-Man, Superman, Poison Ivy (DC Comics/Batman).
“Big, stylish dad” isn’t a phrase you hear a lot. Dads in general get a bad rap for being devoid of any fashion sense beyond cargo shorts and sports gear. And if you’re size XXL or above, you’re hard pressed to find clothes or shoes that aren’t bland or tacky.
Nevertheless, I persist in incorporating my designer style into my plus-sized dad wardrobe. It takes a good deal of creativity, and more than a little luck.
Recently I was lucky enough try out some shoes from Jambu. I’d not heard of them before, but liked what I saw of their men’s collection. Looking ahead to warmer weather, I decided on their Zion sneakers.
I don’t do a lot of memes, and I dole out parenting advice even less frequently. But this is a message I’ve had drilled into my head by therapist, friend, and husband alike, so I thought if I made it into a pretty graphic I might believe it more. And that it might help some other parent believe it, too.
Also, feel free to totally ignore this “advice” about being a “good enough parent” — because, you know, it’s on the internet.
Stay strong, be well, talk soon.
Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.
Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.
In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.
Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.
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Powerful Girl: STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy
So I did some work with Marvel Comics (I ❤️️ typing that!), where I talked about everyday heroes. I nominated my friends the Scheers for Marvel’s #WhoIsYourHero campaign. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that.
As part of the gig, Marvel sent me some cool superhero merch so our family could play dress up, mug for the camera, and display the true essence of our own superheroics. Not content to just pose and shoot, I called upon my mutant design powers (and my family’s patience) and spent some time tinkering in Photoshop and Procreate.
Presenting, my family — as our Marvel Superhero selves.
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Adventurous & headstrong; loves to make a racket and swing hammers around the house. 🔨 JON is… THE MIGHTY THOR!
Lately I’ve been eyeing 50 as the age when I for sure have to start acting like an adult. And as graphic design and parent blogging are mostly a young person’s game, I dread my half-century birthday (which is still a couple years away, thank you) on multiple levels.
My husband, however, has never looked or felt better in this, his 50th year. He’s kicking ass at work, lost a bunch of weight, and has some great friends he gets to watch Caps games with. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of him… while also grumbling jealously at his non-thinning hair and endless energy. 😠
We celebrated Nick’s 50th birthday recently, with a big shindig at our new digs, complete with catered BBQ, tons of booze, and a wonderful representation of friends and colleagues from across his five decades. And as this was a big milestone, I pulled out all the creative husband stops. First, with a custom coaster I designed, playing off his love of bourbon:
I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.
A Family of Super Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!
I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.