Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.
For seven days, I and eleven other dads hiked more than 90 miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. Complications of life (and perfectionist tendencies) kept me from writing about it at the time. Here, now, are some thoughts and images from that life-changing week.
07.10.16, DAY 1: Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle – 17 miles
Today it’s actually happening. I’m trying to figure out the pay-by-the-minute shower, packing up all my gear, guzzling some caffeine to make up for a restless night’s sleep. As someone who’s inherently aware of their shortcomings — especially when it comes to anything physical — I double and triple check what I’ve stuffed into my backpack, trying to imagine every scenario possible. I will come to learn along the way what I need more of (water, foot bandages), and of what I need less (pretty much everything else); but this first day I was flying blind.
Last night at the lone pub in town, we chatted over dinner and beers with a grandfather and grandson who had just completed the walk. Having traveled from the opposite direction, they advised wearing long pants for the several patches of nettles, and to be prepared for lots of diversions.
“Diversion” is British for “detour” — a word with which we would become intimately, frequently acquainted.
Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)
Father’s Day has come and gone, and probably so have your hopes for getting something you really wanted. Don’t get me wrong — handmade cards, semi-cooked/burned breakfast in bed, and extra hugs are all priceless. But admit it, you were also hoping for something that had a literal price. Something you’d actually use, wear, eat, or read.
Once again, Designer Daddy is here to help… albeit a little later than usual.
Check out this collection of self-gifting solutions, then enter to win the full slew of swag (Total giveaway value: over $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 27 I’ll announce the winner of…
Designer Daddy’s Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)!
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GIFT RECEIVED: Nose hair trimmer
GIFT TO GIVE YOURSELF: Stash Box grooming kit from Triumph & Disaster
While you appreciate your kids thinking of you and the random hair you have sprouting up in new places, you’d like to handle your own grooming, thankyouverymuch. And it’s a known fact that the more mature you get, the more you get to spend on yourself. Triumph & Disaster has an impressive collection of skincare products for a man’s face, hair, and body. They combine the best of science with the best of nature to create naturally derived but scientifically engineered products. The Stash Box includes Old Fashioned Shave Cream, Badger Hair Shave Brush, Gameface Moisturizer, and Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub. Available from Triumph & Disaster. $150.00
Not nearly long enough ago, our 7-year-old shared a conversation he’d had with a friend… about sex. It was retold with a mixture of curiosity, amazement, and giggling. And was alarmingly detailed.
I have to admit it took me off guard. I thought we had a little longer before all this! I’d done my duty as a progressive, gay dad to teach my son to be proud of his “different” family, not to tease or exclude anyone for how they look or who they were, and that Donald Trump is a horrible example of humanity.
But now it was time to step up and have “The Talk.” Or more accurately, “The Ongoing Conversation.” We’ve had lots of practice sharing the important stuff at the appropriate age regarding Jon’s adoption, so this should be easy, right?
“Their story is one of the reasons I love my job.”
A couple of my favorite gay dads (and favorite people in general) recently appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about one of my favorite charities, Comfort Cases. I got some behind-the-scenes scoop on the experience from this amazing family I’m privileged to call friends.
The latest adventures of Rob and Reece Scheer & family found them being contacted by Ellen’s people back in February. They had seen the video produced by Upworthy, which at that point had over 11 million views. (It currently has over 83 million.) Inspired by the Scheer’s story and Comfort Cases mission, Ellen asked them to be on her show.
The interview happened back in March, but Ellen was so moved by the Scheers, that she decided to produce an original video segment to accompany their appearance on her show. If you haven’t watched the video yet, scroll up and do it now to avoid any spoilers! 🙂
As peak travel season approaches, many parents may be feeling anxious about hitting the road (or skies or open seas) with the kids. Things are crazy enough at home, so you’re probably imagining how much more stressful it would be out in the great wide world — where you have even less control.
Fear not! If you’re freaking out about a looming family vacay, who better to ask for tips, hacks, and general life lessons than a bunch of travel-tested dads?
I reached out to some of my pals from all over the USofA for the very best, most comprehensive Dadvice you’ll find. And in true dad form, these nuggets of wisdom/war stories are offered up with a mixture of common sense, bad puns, and lots of heart.
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.
“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.
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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