Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.
I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.
A Family of Super Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!
I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.
On Valentine’s Day, I shared my not-so-scientific gay/straight Relationship Comparison Study. It illustrated some of the ways gay and straight parents differ, many of the funny ways we’re alike, and how all our relationships need a little help sometimes — the message behind Plum Organics’ fun Do Your Part(ner) campaign
I also mentioned that my husband and I took Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) Pledge, making a commitment to try some new ways to rekindle and reconnect. I’m here to report back on our successes and failures, as well as to give away a bunch of nifty Do Your Part(ner) kits from Plum I’ve unofficially named BOX OF BOW-CHICKA-BOW-WOW.
Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.
Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.
< record scratch noise >
Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?
The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.
So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.
You guys. YOU GUYS! Check it out — my son’s first ever lunch note! < beams with fatherly pride >
A little context
I’m writing this on a plane to San Diego for the Dad 2.0 Summit, where I’ll be for the next four days. I left at the butt crack of dawn, so didn’t have time to do a proper lunch note. “Proper” meaning the notes I make for my 7-year-old on the daily since he first set foot in school; meaning the Red Turbo Power Ranger he had requested I make for his best friend.
As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.
One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.
Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.
So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.
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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.
What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
For seven days in July, I and eleven other dads hiked 90+ miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. We walked to fund a camp for kids whose parents had been touched by cancer. We walked to honor our friend Oren Miller, who had died of cancer the year prior – and for whom the camp would be named. We walked for those in our own lives impacted by the disease, including several in our group. But we also walked for ourselves.
The experience was exhilarating and exhausting, thrilling and tedious; breathtaking — both literally and figuratively. It was the undisputed apex of my year, and near the top of any other.
Until now, I’d only shared about the walk on social media. Life and all its complications — and my perfectionist tendencies — kept me from documenting it properly here.
But in light of the announcement that the University of Maryland Camp Kesem will officially come to be this fall, I thought it high time I collected my thoughts, memories, and images from that life-changing week in a more permanent fashion.
I still haven’t decided if this can be done in one post or seven (or something in between), so bear with me as I return to the rolling hills of Northern England and allow this epic outing to re-unfold.
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As with many of my ideas, this one started bright but with very little planning — certainly not enough to allow for the predictable unpredictableness of the holidays.
“I SHOULD DO A ’12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS’ SUPERLUNCHNOTES! I’M SO NIFTY & CREATIVE! AND I’M SURE I CAN THINK OF ALL TWELVE, SO THERE’S NO NEED TO PLAN THIS OUT VERY FAR IN ADVANCE!”
I was zipping along doing a note a day to culminate on Christmas Eve. But then my 7 year-old got sick. Then some work crises sprung up. Then I traveled to Texas for a friend’s funeral. Mix in all the seasonal insanity of shopping, decorating, planning — and for the first time in our new house — hosting, and that puts me here, on January 2nd, posting about Christmas. Right on schedule.
In my defense, my (after-the-fact) research shows that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is in fact about the days following December 25th, not those preceding it. Ergo, this post is actually a little ahead of schedule. Gold star for me. ⭐
Blah, blah, blah — here are the notes, along with a few notes on the notes.
Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.
Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!
But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.
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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.
As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”
Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?
Here we are at the end of 2016, and Holy Haircut, Batman! — it’s been a roller coaster of a year. I can’t recall a recent 12 months that contained as many highs and lows. Between the election and all the ugliness it exposed, the numerous police shootings of black men, and the Orlando nightclub massacre, it’s been an especially harrowing year for women, people of color, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and the LGBTQ community.
Yet through it all, there have been constants to keep me grounded: my family, feeding said family, and my love of superheroes. So the lunch notes were pretty constant, too.
Since starting this adventure three (!) years ago, I’ve tried to include a good mix of characters: DC and Marvel; comics and non-comics; human, animal, and whatever the hell Pokémon are. But this year in particular both inspired and challenged me to step up the diversity being represented in my son’s lunch notes.
Dude, they’re lunch notes. With cartoon characters on them. GET OVER YOUR ARTSY-FARTSY, DRAMA QUEEN, HOLIER-THAN-THOU SELF.
I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.
One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.
For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…