First day of school pics have become ubiquitous in the world of social media. Whatever did we do before pre-printed grade signs and frantic, front porch photo sessions? Me — being me — I like to add a list of superlatives to further document this moment each year. It’s my version of the annoying holiday newsletter.
But lest you think I’m only showing the best, brightest and Photoshoppyest version of my so-called parenting life, here’s a little back story on this year’s more-chaotic-than-usual first day of school photo.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
I love a good before and after photo as much as the next person, but seeing my own is a whole extra level of amazing. When I look at these images, I not only see a slimmer, healthier version of me, I see the months and months of hard work and lifestyle changes that went into it.
But now that I’m a year out, what motivates me to keep going?
Around this time last year, I was feeling weighed down by both my age and my weight. The strain of my mental and physical health was taking a toll, and I was becoming increasingly less social. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, I half-heartedly suggested a trip. I was in no mood for a big party, to be the center of attention, to spend hours around other people pretending to be upbeat and happy.
Then somewhere along the way, I took some much-needed steps to resetting my life. As these steps grew into leaps and bounds, I gained confidence, got excited about life again, and determined that I did, in fact, want a party. Inspired by a friend’s 90s-themed birthday, I decided to show these Millennials how it’s done and throw the most bodacious 80s-themed party ever!
If I’ve learned anything these past nine years of fatherhood, it’s that pampering yourself, partying with friends and blowing off steam are VITAL to being an effective, happy and sane parent. Having also been in a creative slump, this birthday party became a great outlet for me to flex my design muscles in fab, fun ways.
If you were there, thanks for celebrating with me! If not, here’s a taste of how much fun I had turning 50… and here’s to 50 more!
[click all pics to enlarge]
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WANNA’ BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’
The invitation was going to se the tone — and hopefully get folks excited to come — so the pressure was on for it to be beyond tubular. A few selfies, a little retro font hunting and a bit of Photoshop later, and voilà!
As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.
Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.
Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.
A little over two years ago, I wrote about the rash of violent crimes being committed against the most vulnerable people in the LGBTQ community, trans women of color. The problem has not gone away, and was in fact recently labeled an epidemic by an official from the American Medical Association. In 2018, 24 trans people were murdered in the United States. In 2019, there have already been 10 trans lives taken. Two of those — including the most recent death — are from the DC area.
Earlier today, I received this email from Ruby Corado, founder of the DC LGBTQ community center, Casa Ruby.
Last week we lost one of our own Casa Ruby youth to a senseless act of violence and hate. 23 year old Zoe was shot to death in cold blood.
Zoe wanted to be a lawyer, and help Trans people like herself. But like many Trans women of color, she found herself in the margins of a society that didn’t provide the opportunity for gainful employment.
We really want to thank you for your support through these times. The messages, cards and calls we received give us hope that people care.
Not only does Casa Ruby provide services, we advocate. And we want you to advocate too. Please help us make people aware of the employment disparities Trans people have, and if you know of an employment opportunity let us know. Awareness is just one thing you can do, to help curb the rash of hate crimes in DC, that are growing in DC.
I do wish I could write you in better times, but I do want to thank you. Just making us visible and worthy can save a life.
Join us, and the community, for a vigil against violence, on Friday, June 21. We’ll be meeting at Dupont Circle at 7pm.
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If you can’t attend the vigil (and even if you can), please take a moment to learn more about Casa Ruby. These women need us, and you can help in a meaningful way.
Casa Ruby is a multicultural community center that provides life-saving services for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community: transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming GLB people. Created and directed by activist Ruby Corado, services include support groups, housing referrals, hot meals, clothing exchange, case management and legal counseling.
Ah, summer! Is there a three-month period more fraught with dissenting objectives between kids and parents? Moms and dads of course want their children to have fun, be outside, and all that other wonderful summertime stuff. But we also want to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge, motivation, and discipline they gained during the school year.
The go-to solution for many parents is summer reading. But unless you have one of those magical make-believe children who LOVES to read every minute of every day, getting our kids to crack a book during summer break can be a challenge. And as the dad of a 9-year-old with ADHD and serious addictions to swimming, video games, scootering, and anything that’s not sitting still with a book, it can be downright excruciating.
In an effort to make story time more engaging — and less of a chore — this summer we’re trying out a new app called NOVEL EFFECT.
Pride this year didn’t go quite like I’d hoped.
When you’re a parent, things don’t always hardly ever work out as planned. You’d think after almost 10 years I would have figured that out, but I guess hope springs eternal. Especially when it comes to parades full of rainbows and glitter.
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — the event widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. So Pride is a big deal this year. And as always, DC’s pride celebration fell on the weekend closest to my birthday… which this year also marked the 50th anniversary of ME!
But alas the universe had other ideas.
There are three things you can always count on from Designer Daddy: I try to defy stereotypes, especially as they relate to fatherhood. I’m always happy to judge help other dads be a bit more stylish. My giveaways are pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
This year I’ve combined all three tenets of my blog into a Megazord of fatherly freebies, to bring you the most epic Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway ever!
So please scroll through this awesome list of goodies (from some awesomely generous companies), get some Father’s Day shopping inspiration, and then enter to win the whole shebang!
Designer Daddy’s 2019 Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway
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Men’s Accessories from SprezzaBox
Giveaway prize: one SprezzaBox, value $100
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the stylish man in your life (or for those you’d like to be more stylish), SprezzaBox has got you covered. A SprezzaBox subscription delivers 5-6 quality accessories each month for only $28. Each box is curated by in-house stylists and includes ties, socks, watches, sunglasses and more for a retail value starting at $100.
Special Father’s Day promo: 30% off first box or 30% off entire store purchase. Use code DAD2019. Ends Sunday, June 16, 2019.
I previously worked with Med-IQ on their campaign about depression. I was excited to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity (and obesity support) and to share my own story. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. This is a sponsored post — I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
Over the course of the last six months I’ve lost more than 85 pounds, and it’s been truly, literally life-changing. I achieved this through gastric sleeve surgery, radical changes to my diet, and regular exercise.
But I couldn’t have done any of this on my own.
A while back I wrote about my obesity journey — the ups and downs of my life and how that affected my weight and health in general. Now I want to focus specifically on how support from others helped me along the way — to where I am today. And where is that? Happier and healthier than I’ve been in… well, longer than I can remember.
Again, the details of all the words can be rather cumbersome and tedious, so I’m employing my doodling skills once more to share my experiences and drop some knowledge. See whimsical graph thingies (and important data) below.
Support = Science = Success
Studies at the Mayo Clinic show that identifying and connecting with supportive and understanding relationships improves long-term success with weight management.
This graphic shows some of the different ways I’ve found support for my own health and well-being.
Ask nearly any parent, and they’ll tell you the most important item in their wardrobe is a comfortable pair of shoes. Chasing kids around the house/mall/supermarket/park can put a lot of wear and tear on mom or dad’s feet, so comfy kicks are a must. Unfortunately, fashion often takes a backseat to function… particularly with a lot of dads.