Fostering Good Will

December 19, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

I spend a lot of time worrying if I’m a good enough father. My concerns aren’t so much that my son’s being raised by two dads or that he’s adopted — though I know both of those will bring challenges along the way. Something I do worry about lately is that we’re raising an overly-entitled child.

It could be argued that it’s because Jon’s an only child. Or that we started habits of “giving in” early on. Or that he’s a 5-year-old whose only concerns are for himself. Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that very little in society works to counteract such a sense of entitlement. Reality shows, social media, selfies, (ahem) blogs — all reinforce that it’s all about ME, all the time.

So we wanted to start teaching Jon about being charitable — thinking beyond what’s in it for him. When the opportunity to work with Lee Jeans on their #LeeGoodDeed campaign came along, I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity.

AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR

Yes, this is a paid post for Lee Jeans. I’m sorry if that ruins the vibe of my story, but posts like this are what afford me the ability to keep blogging. And if you’ve followed the blog for any amount of time, some of these partnerships have resulted in some pretty incredible experiences.

TIME TO PLUG THE JEANS
If you’re like me, the last time you’d worn Lee Jeans, you were also wearing a Members Only jacket and Pony sneakers with a Velcro strap. They just weren’t on my fashion radar. Then last year, Lee was a sponsor at a conference I attended, and they fitted everyone with a new pair of jeans. Honest-to-god, they were (are) the most comfortable pair of jeans I’ve owned in many, many years. And for this partnership, they hooked me up with ANOTHER pair, equally as comfy. Tucked in the back pocket was a list of ideas for my #LeeGoodDeed assignment…

Woot! @LeeJeans sent me some spiffy new jeans. Wonder what my #LeeGoodDeed is gonna be… Stay tuned!

A photo posted by Brent Almond (@designerdaddy) on

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Best of 2014 Kindie Music Giveaway

December 18, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Stuff your stockings and your ears with five awesome albums from some of the hottest names in kids’ music. If you’re not familiar with “kindie” music, that’s a mash-up of “indie” and “kiddie.” It’s way less annoying than it sounds — in fact, some of it is quite good. And unlike those hideous Kidz Bop albums, these are all real musicians, playing real songs, written for real kids. And they come in every flavor/sound/color you can imagine. Check out some of my favorites from last year and a couple of soon-to-be-released/soon-to-be-favorites.

Then jump down and enter to win the whole kit and kaboodle!

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Recess Monkey 2014 Kindie Music

RECESS MONKEY – Wired

The latest release from Seattle-based Recess Monkey celebrates invention, exploration and other joys of a growing mind. As both teachers and former indie rockers, this trio continues to crank out music that appeals to kids’ imaginations, ears AND feet! And if you’re in the DC area, come experience Recess Monkey live, Sunday, January 25 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA. Shows are at 11am and 2pm. Click on times for more info and to buy tickets.

Standout tracks: Braces, Car Wash, Brick by Brick
Listen / Purchase on Amazon

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid Ticket Giveaway!

December 17, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Disney's Little Mermaid Olney Theatre

Disney’s The Little Mermaid has been doing gangbusters during its current run at Olney Theatre Center — so much so they’ve extended their run by 2 weeks! Here are some of the great reviews the show has been getting:

“…a solid bet for the family”The Washington Post

“a delightfully rich, spectacular production”DC Metro Theater Arts

“[a] colorful and expertly crafted delight”DC Theatre Scene

“Daddy, those fish are wearing roller skates!”Jon, age 5  [Read my — and Jon’s — full review.]
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BONUS: I’ve got 4 tickets to give away!

Enter the contest widget below before the giveaway period closes at midnight Sunday, Dec. 21. The winner will get to choose 4 tickets from performances between December 30 – January 11.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t wait and just want to buy tickets now?

Tickets range from $32.50 to $65 and can be purchased through the Olney Theatre Center Box Office at 301.924.3400 or by visiting www.olneytheatre.org.

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Tylenol Recreates Norman Rockwell Painting with Lesbian Moms

December 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new campaign from Tylenol brings an iconic Norman Rockwell painting to life with more diverse depictions of family – including an Asian family, an African American family, and a family with lesbian mothers.

Tylenol Norman Rockwell Lesbian Moms

Few would associate the word “modern” with Norman Rockwell. Many of his most recognized paintings are full of sentiment and nostalgia, rendered in an ultra realistic style — none of which earned him the respect of art critics. Yet as a young artist, I was fascinated not only by the detail of Rockwell’s work, but also how he portrayed America in the 40s and 50s. This was the world of my parents and grandparents, so I always felt a connection – as if I was looking through an old family photo album.

“Freedom From Want” is arguably Rockwell’s most well-known work. Part of a series for The Saturday Evening Post originally intended to promote patriotism, it has since become synonymous with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; epitomizing The American Family. Yet, like most of Rockwell’s early work, it focuses only on white (and straight) America — something that causes a decided disconnection for many today.

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Old Spice and the Horrors of Adolescence

December 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

I grew up the son and grandson of Baptist ministers — men not historically well-versed in the art of scented body sprays. While I learned many valuable lessons from my father, his knowledge of man fragrances was not something he passed down to me. I recall in 9th grade wondering why my dad’s new aftershave smelled so familiar. Upon investigating his medicine cabinet, I discovered he was slathering himself with Charlie every morning. The smell was familiar because my most recent (and much more experienced) girlfriend had worn it. I was horrified. Disgusted. Confused. Now I understood why every time my dad walked by I had flashbacks of being cornered in the church kitchen during Vacation Bible School. The combined memories of her ample bosom and the cloying amounts of perfume she wore still causes me to gasp for air.

Thus, I was left to learn how to “Scent Responsibly” on my own, experimenting with all manner of colognes and deodorants, with varying degrees of success. But my son will never have to endure what I went through. Nor will any other young man, ever. Thanks to Old Spice and their line of Re-Fresh Body Sprays.

Originally launched in January with the viral video “Mom Song,” Old Spice introduces new scents and products via the fatherly response, “Dad Song.” Check out this new masterpiece below…

As you can see, “Dad Song” illustrates in song (weird, weird song) the contrast between the long-held notions that moms want their boys to never leave home, while dads can’t wait for them to grow up and get out. I was the oldest of 4 boys, yet I found the portrayals in the ad did not mirror my experience. While both my parents were understandably forlorn when their eldest (and best) flew the coop, the couldn’t wait for the other three to pack it up and move on with their lives. I guess I’m just special that way.

In any event, your dear old Designer Daddy and his new best friends at Old Spice have got a mountain of manly merch to stuff the stocking of every man in your life. Poor phrasing aside, every man needs to smell good and this is some seriously bounteous booty.

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Rudolph’s Magical Holiday Giveaway

December 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

One of my favorite childhood memories was watching TV specials during the holidays. This was long before streaming video, DVR, or even DVDs. You had to (OMG!) wait for the holidays to roll around and (WTF?) watch them at the time they aired. Sounds horrendous, right? Yet being able to see them only once a year made it that much more special.. Unlike now, where my 5-year-old can watch Frosty on a loop until Easter. And while I loved Peanuts, The Grinch and all the others, my favorites were always the Rankin/Bass specials — particularly Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The creativity of the stop-motion animation, the catchy songs, and of course the wonderful characters — all added up to something truly magical.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Holiday Giveaway

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, and thier pals on the Island of Misfit Toys. That’s right, FIFTY YEARS. While the animation looks rudimentary compared to today’s CGI blockbusters, the obvious hand-craftedness of the Rankin/Bass shows are what make them both charming and mesmerizing. When I showed Rudolph to Jon for the first time a couple of years ago, he was transfixed…and still is. And so am I.

So to celebrate, commemorate and (once again) collaborate, Lunchbox Dad and I have pooled our creativity and pulled together some nifty Rudolph-themed prizes. Check out all the awesomeness, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

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A Gay Dad’s Letter to His Younger Self

December 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Dear Younger Gay Self
Dear Younger Me,

Well, it looks like same-sex marriage is about to be legal in the entire U.S. And although it seems like it’s taken an eternity for all 50 states to come around, it’s pretty amazing when I stop and think about it. But you probably have no idea what I’m even talking about, do you? That’s why I’m writing you — to let you know how things will be when you’re an adult, so you can be encouraged and have hope and just hang in there. I’m also writing to remind myself how lucky I am and how far I’ve come.

Remember when you were about seven years old, and you started having thoughts that made you think you were different, not quite right, broken? And how you inherently knew you were doing something wrong, even though you weren’t doing anything but being yourself? And then you started looking in the index of every Bible you ever came across for mention of the word “homosexual” — hoping above all hope for an answer to what was going on inside your head and heart. I’m sorry you had to go through all that.

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PBS KIDS Makes It a Wonderful Day in Our Neighborhood

December 1, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Earlier this year, our family had a uniquely awesome experience — we starred in a TV promo for PBS KIDS! Ours was one of several testimonials featuring parents of real-life PBS KIDS viewers, and the only one featuring same-sex parents. It was filmed and produced by a wonderful crew of folks who descended upon our home, made us up a bit and filmed us doing stuff like making cupcakes, playing in the backyard and watching TV. It was really hard work.

I heard the promos had finally been made available to the individual PBS affiliates, but as each station makes its own programming schedule, there would be no way to know when and where they would air.* However, the production company kindly provided a download of our (very) mini epic, and gave me the go-ahead to share it.

Grab some popcorn, but you’d better make it a small…

Trouble viewing the video? Go HERE.

 

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens…and so Do My Memories

November 29, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Conversations With My Son: Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer

I resisted the pull of The Dark Side, not watching the new Star Wars teaser trailer online. I was determined we would see it on the big screen first, so Friday afternoon we went as a family to the one theater in our area showing the 88 second preview before all its films. We were nearing the tail end of Black Friday, so the throngs were out in full, clogging the freeway, the parking garage, the mall — all to near capacity.

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I’d spent some time the day before talking to my 5-year-old about the new movie and the Star Wars canon in general. It was a confusing and disheartening conversation…

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What I Know This Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Over the last couple of days I’ve stopped and started writing several times about Ferguson and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and toy guns, race and violence. But I had to stop because my mind was a snarl of thoughts and feelings, tangled even more by the words and pictures from external sources. I just don’t know what to say. Or what to feel or to think. I just don’t know.

Late last night I was doing Jon’s lunch note, and I was at a loss as well. I couldn’t bring myself to do a superhero or a Power Ranger or Transformer or anything else that even hinted at violence. Even if the fight was for good, I just needed a break.

Jon doesn’t know what’s going on in the world, and for me right now, that’s okay. I’ve read about other parents talking to their children of similar age about race and children being killed for their skin color by police of a different skin color, and that’s all well and good for them. But not for me and mine — not just yet. My boy likes to play guns (even though he doesn’t own one) and likes to “shoot the bad guys in the face” (even though he has no idea what that really means). He also doesn’t describe people based on skin color. The closest he’s come is to say Cyborg (a Black superhero) looks like his friend Charlie from school.

So instead of writing about things I don’t know or words I don’t know how to say or am not ready to say, I will write what I do know.

I know that I’m thankful. I’m thankful for my life and my family, imperfect as it is. I’m thankful that my son has two fathers who love him with all their heart. And even though we’re getting older and grayer and slower as he’s getting faster and stronger, we’re here for him. We’re his and he’s ours.

I know I’m thankful that my son doesn’t have to grow up fearing for his life or where his next meal will come from or where he will sleep each night. But I’m thankful that his Papa and I are able to teach him that there are kids and families that do — and that hopefully it will help shape him into a loving, compassionate, generous man. And that by helping to raise a loving, compassionate, generous man, there will be fewer dead children or abused women or bullied queer kids.

A photo posted by Brent Almond (@superlunchnotes) on

Lastly, I know I’m thankful my 5-year-old is still young enough to crawl into my lap or be kissed goodnight or hugged for a good long hug. And when we do talk about how some people are treated differently because of their skin color, their gender, who they love or how they became a family, he’ll have stored up enough hugs and kisses and love so those things sink in and have an impact, but don’t crush his spirit.

Wishing everyone a happy, safe, hug-filled Thanksgiving.

Much love,
Brent

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