SuperLunchNotes: Elsa

July 22, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Day 2 of Girl Power Week is everyone’s favorite super cool Disney Princess/Queen/chart-topper/box-office smasher/Oscar- and probably Grammy-winner… ELSA!

SuperLunchNotes Elsa Frozen

I apologize if I’ve once again given you the icy mother of all earworms, but how could I do an Elsa note without using those three magical words? Words that also happen to give a not-so-subtle lesson in sharing and moving on with your life. Or at least onto another toy.

Stay tuned every day this week for more Girl Power notes as I gear up for (and attend) BlogHer’14!

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‘Good Good Trouble’ Great Great for Kids Kids!

July 22, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Jon and I recently embarked on an exciting father/son tropical adventure — to see a brand new family play, Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island!

Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island poster - live theatre

This was only Jon’s second live theatre experience, and this one was a bit more complex than the first. So I wasn’t completely sure how it would play out.

HA! Get it? PLAY out?!?

My apologies for the silly digression, but this show was chock full of fun, color, music and loads of silliness, along with a subtle message about “making family where you find it.” And did I mention the silliness?

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SuperLunchNotes: WyldStyle

July 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

It’s gonna be ladies night lunch all week in Jon’s lunchbox. I’ve been wanting to do a Girl Power Week for a while, and I figured the days leading up to my 1st BlogHer conference would be as good as any. I’m going to be among the few males at one of the biggest and longest-running blogging shindigs in the country. This will be an estrogen booster shot via Post-it note, if you will.

SuperLunchNotes Wyldstyle

Funny story about today’s note:
I followed the boys out to the car this morning; Jon wanted to see his note so he took it out of his lunchbox and was very psyched to see Lucy (AKA Wyldstyle), leading lady of The LEGO Movie. As Papa was loading him into his car seat, I recited his favorite line from “Everything Is Awesome,” “Rocks! Clocks! And socks! They’re awesome!”

Being the master-level rhymer that he is, my clever 4-year old echoed back with his own impromptu line, “Kicks! Nicks! And dicks! They’re awesome!”

I stifled a laugh and muttered something encouraging like, “Wow you’re a great rhymer buddy.” and warned Papa (AKA Nick) to steer clear of Jon’s feet today.

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Two and a Half Men Gay Plot: A Good Laugh or Just Laughable?

July 18, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Two and a Half Men Gay Marry and Adopt

It was reported yesterday that network TV’s longest-running sitcom, Two and a Half Men, will work a “gay” marriage and adoption story into it’s final season. Why the big “gay” quote marks? According to CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler, Ashton Kutcher’s character Walden experiences a health scare that causes him to reexamine his playboy lifestyle. This results in him wanting to adopt a child. So far, not so bad.

Here’s where the quote marks come in handy… The adoption process proves too difficult for Walden as a single, straight dude, so he does the only logical thing —  propose to his hetero housemate, Alan (Jon Cryer). This way they can “gay” adopt a child together.

Two and a Half Men is hardly a critical darling — or on the Mensa required watch list — so perhaps this gimmicky plot isn’t too unexpected.

But then Tassler kept talking. When asked if the network was worried about possible backlash from the LGBT community, she replied,

“I think it’s a very positive statement that, you know what, I am going to adopt a child as a gay couple and the reality is, he can do that. And in a universe where at one point you couldn’t do that and now you can do that, I think that’s a much more positive statement that he’s making.”

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Not only is the storyline a rip-off of the poorly-conceived and -received I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, the justification of it is just plain offensive. Tassler and the shows writers and producers seem too ensconced in their Hollywood bubble to understand the reality of “gay adoption” in America. There are still 28 states where same-sex adoption is either unclearly defined or flat-out illegal. And only 16 countries in the entire world allow joint same-sex adoption — fewer than those allowing same-sex marriage.

While the number and acceptance of LGBT parents in the US continues to grow, there is still widespread prejudice towards queer parents in the US and around the world. Whether it’s questions regarding our ability to raise a child without both genders, or our agenda to influence and recruit a new generation of gays, or the ignorance that equates pedophilia with homosexuality, there is still work to be done.

Even if LGBT adoption were completely legal in all 50 states, the premise of Two and a Half Men‘s last grab for ratings is, at best, juvenile. At worst, akin to blackface. To use another Hollywood production for comparison — while some college students of color do benefit from affirmative action, it doesn’t mean it’s funny (or in good taste) to see a white guy pretend to be black in order to get into Harvard.

If Two and a Half Men show runners want to continue with this ridiculous shtick, I’m not going to waste more time and energy protesting (other than continuing to not watch) — so knock yourself out. Perhaps being exploited by a top-ranking TV show is a sign acceptance of “gay adoption” is on the rise. But don’t kid yourself that this is in any way celebrating LGBT adoption or making any kind of positive statement. Other than that it’s positively insulting.

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“He doesn’t have a mom… because she’s dead.”

July 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Mommy's Dead
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HOW IT HAPPENED

So here I was, my not-small frame perched on the teeniest of tiny wooden chairs, clad in a retina-searing-orange t-shirt emblazoned with my son’s preschool logo, waiting for the class to be corralled before we headed to the petting zoo for a field trip. All of these kids knew me as “Jon’s Daddy,” the one who picks up — as opposed to “Jon’s Papa,” the one who drops off. There are other quite noticeable differences, but I can imagine that from a 4-year old’s perspective, we’re both just gigantic, bespectacled, goateed man-parents.

Yet it still came as bit of a surprise when I overheard my son’s classmate say, “Jon, your Papa’s here!” As expected, my son quickly corrected his chum, and things seem to be right with the world.

There was a lot going on, kids hopping up and down, excited about the field trip, distracted by the several parents scattered and squatting around the room. But amidst the melee, I hear mention of “mommy” something. I turned back toward my son and his posse, and the same friend exclaimed to all who would listen, “Jon doesn’t have a mommy… because she’s dead.”

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SuperLunchNotes: SPACE WEEK!

July 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Last week was “Space Week” on SuperLunchNotes, because Jon was also learning about space at his preschool summer program. Space Dress Up Day, Build A Rocket Day, Space Moon Bounce Day… capped off on Friday with a display of a “real rocket!” I’m not sure exactly what that entailed, but he sure was excited to tell me about it!

I even snuck in an extra surprise on Build A Rocket Day…
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banana rocket

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WEEK 48: July 7 – July 11, 2014

Buzz Lightyear  |  Nova  |  Silver Surfer  |   Miss Piggy  |  Han Solo

superlunchnotes Buzz Lightyear

Serendipitously, on Wednesday I accompanied Jon’s class on a field tripand Toy Story was the in-bus film!
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LEGO-Shell Partnership Claims Another Victim

July 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Homeless polar bears. Drowning Santa. Emmet and Wyldstyle in a pit of black ooze — all tragic. Yet someone’s missing from this list…

lego-shell-aquaman
Graphic inspired by this. Which was inspired by this.

Silly Greenpeace, if you’re going to show the effects of the supposed LEGO-Shell partnership, how can you not include Aquaman? He stands to lose more than anyone in the apocalyptic oil spill depicted in your very, very sad video.

Grab a tissue and check out the doomy & gloomy (but admittedly creative) cover of “Everything Is Awesome.”

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So what say you, readers?
Are you ready to sign the petition and ban LEGO from your household until they completely disconnect from Shell? Or are you tired of all the bleeding heart propaganda getting in the way of building a life-size X-Wing Fighter? Get your rant on in the comments! 

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For more toys and superheroes and arguments and silliness visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook and follow Designer Daddy on Twitter.

Reader response: I want to be a father

July 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

I apologize if this smacks of bragging, but I wanted to share a particularly sweet note I got from a reader a bit ago. Okay, so maybe I’m bragging a little. Yet I’m also putting it up here to remind me, on days that I’m discouraged, that my words do get heard; that I’m not alone in my feelings of aloneness; and as a motivation to keep on keeping-on — as a writer and as a dad. Plus, his comment about Stepford gays was perfection.

So if you send me a particularly sweet (or sassy) note, you may very well make my day…and I might publish it. You’ve been warned.

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stepford-gays3

You don’t know me, and that isn’t the point of this message. And I promise there is a point to this message, so please just stay with me as I can get a bit long-winded.

Just recently — this past week in fact — I’ve decided that I want to be a father. This has been something I have gone back and forth on for years as a gay man. I have been filled with so much worry about this or that: Do I adopt or do I find a surrogate? Am I capable as a person to raise a child? What will I do about explaining to him about where he comes from having no personal points of reference in my own life? Did my parents screw me up too much to raise a child? All of the standard questions I would imagine plague most would-be parents. However in recent days I have focused less on the impact to me and my life and more on the positive of having a child. But still I worry [if I] will I be a good dad. Will my child know how much I love them and that no matter what happens that love will never end?

As a result of these feelings I started writing letters to my future child, as writing has always been an outlet for me. So as the afterglow of wanting to be a father started to fade, I wondered again how I would deal when my little angel is reaping my mother’s revenge upon me for one reason or another (lack of nap, saying no to a toy or candy, whatever) — and how am I going to keep my sanity? And just as these questions started to boil to the surface, I found your post “Hide-and-Seek with Mr. Moon” and I am not gonna lie: I cried just a little bit.

I found myself crying — not just for the heartbreak of a small child, but because of the line about you expending so much energy to keep from “throttling” your child.

I have read some parenting blogs, and specifically followed two over the past couple of years (more for the hilarious insights on life than the parently portion), but all of them were from the points of view of heterosexual parents. And let’s be real — as sad as it is, gay men are still not properly portrayed in media. Yes, we have moved past a good portion of the stereotypes, but there are still some there that bug me. I think we as a culture are entering the Stepford portion of our media portrayal.

So with all of this said: thank you. Thank you for granting me insight to a seemingly random moment in time that has shown me that not only is it possible to be a good parent while still making mistakes, but that life really can be normal as a gay father.

With gratitude and sincerity,
BigMac

P.S. I am totally going to steal and use the Hide-and-Seek with Mr. Moon game when I do have a kid. :)

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See? Toldya it was sweet. For more sweet and sassy and stylish conversation and long walks on the beach (except that last part), check out Designer Daddy on Facebook and follow along on Twitter.

Boys Kissing Boys

July 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Boys Kissing Boys

We were winding down from a particularly drama-filled play date. There had been sharing-related skirmishes; LEGO lay strewn about the playroom like carcasses on a battlefield; there had been tears. And after much cajoling and promises of future bounty, there had been an “I’m sowwy” from my little force of nature to his playmate and host. Jon can sometimes be like a giddy locomotive off its tracks. Full steam ahead, tooting its merry horn, nary a thought for the fact that it’s derailed and tearing through the countryside, mowing over everything and everyone in its path.

Yet while he may be full of drive and boundless energy, he’s always been very affectionate. Which, for me — his somewhat introverted and decidedly less adventurous Dad — makes it all manageable.

After we’d made our apologies and gathered our things to go, Jon approached his friend — 6 years old to Jon’s 4 and-a-half — to tell him thank you. He followed with one of his epic hugs — both arms flung out fully extended, not closing them until he’d fully enveloped the huggee. His friend seemed a little overwhelmed, but hugged back; then my son tilted his head, stretched up on his toes, and moved in to give his pal a smooch on the cheek.

The friend jerked his head away, reacting with an annoyed “WHAT THE…?!?” Jon just kind of shrugged and let go. But my heart broke a little.

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Out Of This World Movie Giveaway! #EarthToEcho

June 29, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

Earth to Echo Designer Daddy Giveaway

Think E.T. meets Transformers with a little Goonies thrown in for good measure, and you’ve got EARTH TO ECHO — a great way to keep cool and entertain the whole family this summer!

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