DAD STUFF

Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.

The Long Road to Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland

August 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

It was one week, more than three years in the making. At long last, Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland was a reality.

The campsite was set on a tiny peninsula in southern Maryland, where the Potomac feeds into the Chesapeake. It looked like any other summer camp — bunk houses surrounded picnic tables beneath a giant oak; paddles and canoes stacked alongside a murky, green river; a swimming pool, a mess hall, a fire pit. But this camp was unique. It had a history; a tragic yet inspiring origin story. Created by the literal blood, sweat, and tears of a family, a community, and a university.

To tell the full tale would require more words than a single blog post warrants. However, if you’ve known me or this site for any length of time, you’re probably familiar. All you really need to know is that a loving father named Oren lost his life to cancer; this inspired 12 other fathers to hike across Northern England to raise money for a camp in his honor. This is that camp.

As with every Kesem chapter, the campers are kids whose parents have been touched by cancer — whether a survivor, in treatment, or victim. Yet much more than “cancer camp,” I’ve attempted to do it justice with a few pictures and a smattering of words.
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CAMP KESEM, IN PICTURES
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Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland

The day before camp, I attended the staff’s final training session to share about Oren, Dads4Kesem, and the ways this camp is special to so many. They cheered when I told them Oren’s children would be attending.

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Gay Dads (Us!) Featured in ACLU Voter Video

August 16, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

aclu voter video

Our family is featured in a new spot for the ACLU! We were excited and honored to share our story with an organization we’ve long admired for their commitment to social justice. Along with Jon, Papa and I, the two-minute ACLU Voter video highlights several other families … and several examples of why it’s more important than ever to make our voices heard through voting.

Check it out…

Racial justice, travel bans, disability rights, reproductive freedom, immigration, LGBTQ rights — all of these issues have been through an upheaval under the Trump administration. And as mid-term elections loom across the country, they are in further danger .

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Designer Daddy’s 15 Favorite Children’s Books About Dads

June 12, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

15 Best Children's Books About Dads

I sat on the floor of my son’s room amidst a sea of books, surveying those he’d carefully selected yanked off the shelf for inclusion in a yard sale. Memories from the last eight years of nightly bedtime stories flooded my thoughts (and my eyes a little, too).

Few moments in parenting are as special as those spent reading with your kids. Yet it can be a challenge finding quality children’s books that include a positive — or any — portrayal of fathers.

Some progress has been made, but society still often works overtime against dads making emotional, creative or educational connections with their kids. Books that feature fathers can play an important part in bridging that divide. They help lay an early foundation for equally involved parents, regardless of gender. And for two dad families like mine, representation is crucial to helping our kids feel nurtured, included, and seen.

As I proceeded to cull, it came as no surprise that the “dad” books were making the “keep” pile rather tall. So as we near Father’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite “keepers” — my favorite children’s books about dads. Each of these father-centric books carries the official Designer Daddy (and son) seal of approval, and is guaranteed to keep dad(s) showing up for story time.

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My Warrior Kid

March 14, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

warrior kid thor ragnarok

Having taught my son about superheroes since birth, it’s no surprise that he values a warrior’s strength and power. Whether it’s an over-the-top wrestler, nonsensical ball-encased creature, transforming car/alien/robot thing — or hammer-wielding demigod — nothing gets my kiddo more pumped than good triumphing over evil.

While my 8-year-old’s heroic ambitions are clearly evident in how much time he spends leaping from and jumping on our living room furniture, he also embodies the warrior spirit in other ways. Pardon me while I brag.

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Life & Lunch Notes: Mystery, Wrestling, and Gay Penguins

February 25, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.

So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.

Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…

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1.2 Unikitty

January SuperLunchNotes: Unikitty

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

January 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy Best of 2017

For anyone who wasn’t a straight, white, Christian man, 2017 was a hell of a year. Yes, our Reality Star-in-Chief made a couple of appearances on the blog — how could he not? The year also saw struggles for the trans community, convos with my kid about sex, and family game night made more tolerable by booze. It wasn’t an easy year, but it certainly was eventful. These are my 10 favorite blog posts of 2017.

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New Year, New Children’s Books, New Giveaway!

January 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS MY KID DIGS

New Year Children's Book Giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

During the coldest, darkest part of winter, is there anything more satisfying than cuddling up with your youngster for a bedtime book? Regardless of the season, story time has always been one of my favorite parts of parenting… and of childhood. From Dr. Seuss to The Chronicles of Narnia and everything in between, the books I grew up on helped shape who I am. Similarly, I hope the books I read to my son will fill his childhood with happy memories and fill his mind with hopes, dreams, and maybe even a little wisdom.

I want to share my love of reading with you and your kids, so I’m giving away a bunch of new children’s books! Two winners will win three books each (see below for more details), all of which are sure to become classics in their own right!

HOW TO WIN:

Just leave a comment naming your favorite children’s book of all time. It can be your own favorite or that of your child. One entry per person, please.

BONUS WAYS TO WIN:

Visit SuperLunchNotes on Instagram. I’ll be featuring a different character from children’s books every day this week. You can leave a comment each and every day for additional chances to win. Tag a friend in your comment to receive an additional entry!

Contest ends Friday, Jan 19 at midnight. Two (2) winners will be chosen at random and notified by email.

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Give Your Kids the Gift of Teaching Them About Racism

November 27, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED
Safety Pin Box - Racism

© Safety Pin Box LLC

For a long time, I prided myself on being a good dad when it came to teaching my son about race. But I’ve fallen short; and in all likelihood, so have most white parents.

I think back to when Jon was little, and how we didn’t use the words “Black” or “white” when referring to race; instead using “brown” and “peach” to indicate skin color. And whenever he would tell me about a new friend or teacher, I’d do this uptight, liberal, word-twist thing where I’d ask him to describe the person using everything but their skin color. And I’ll admit to still feeling a bit of pride every time my eight-year-old makes a non-white friend.

All of these may seem good-hearted or complimentary, but all they accomplish is centering me and my white child; not really teaching either of us anything about racism. I thought that if I avoided the terms “Black” and “white,” I’d somehow avoid exposing my child to the scariness of racism. Yet all I’ve done is dilute its true impact on people of color.

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Are You Depressed? You Owe It to Your Family to Find Out

November 15, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Depression

I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression awareness. All opinions are my own.

My Depression Story

My husband and I had talked about wanting kids very early in our relationship — like two weeks in early. Fast-forward 10 years, two apartments, a house and a dog later, and it looked like we were finally going to take the plunge into fatherhood.

Yet as we got closer to each decision and milestone, uncertainty started to creep in. The pressure of when and how to take these first, definitive steps; wondering how it would affect our relationship; the question of how we would go about forming our family; the potential challenges of being a two-dad adoptive family. All of these things stressed me out, overwhelmed me, and eventually shut me down.

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Have a Crafty Halloween with Amazon Prime!

October 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amazon, as part of my participation in the Mom It Forward Influencer Network; the content and opinions are my own.

Since my son’s very first Halloween, I’ve had a blast channeling my creativity into our family’s costumes. I love the challenge of trying to pull together something unique, fun, and not too difficult — all while placating the kid and not embarrassing the husband (too much).

This year I’m kicking the challenge up a notch in a partnership with Amazon… our costumes will include repurposed Amazon Smile boxes! The official term is “BOXTUME,” by the way.

GET STARTED!

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After you’ve read through my step-by-step directions, go grab all the Amazon Smile boxes you can find, get to brainstorming, and come up with your own boxtume masterpiece! If you don’t have any boxes, take the opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping, or empty out your own wish list! Amazon Prime has pretty much anything you need (including everything used to make these costumes!) and has the fastest — and free-est — delivery around!

Then snap a photo of your cardboard creations and share it on social media using the hashtag #Boxtumes.

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OUR COSTUMES

First of all, I didn’t want to make anything too literally boxy. Who wants to walk around a party or crowded sidewalk in a giant box? That’s a spilled bag of candy waiting to happen!

So to keep things relatively easy, these start with a toga base. Why togas? Togas are comfy, simple to make, and can be easily layered with long johns or sweats if it’s chilly on trick-or-treat night. Also because I came up with some awesome visual puns around everyone’s favorite toga-wearer, Caesar!

LIL’ CAESAR

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

Click for extra-sized adorableness!

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