Back to the White House: Discussing Gender Stereotypes in Media & Toys

April 12, 2016 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

For the second time in less than a month, I found myself an invited guest of the White House. (I don’t think I’ve ever written a more unfathomably awesome sentence.) While hearing the First Lady speak about nutrition and fitness a few weeks prior was certainly amazing, the topic of the second event was much more in my wheelhouse.

gender stereotypes in toys and media

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SuperBunnyEggFriends Easter Craft to the Rescue!

March 27, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Superhero Easter Craft

If the new film Batman v Superman is too dark for your littlest superhero fan, here’s a nifty Springtime/Easter craft I whipped up. I had a lot of fun recreating my favorite childhood heroes in bunny/egg form, and then putting them in silly scenarios. After I was done playing with them, they made eggceptional prize eggs for an epic backyard egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Enjoy the goofy Easter vignettes, then scroll to the end of the post to learn how to make them yourself.

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Batman v Superman: Pick a Side to Win $200 in Fandango Gift Cards!

March 24, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Batman v Superman SuperLunchNotes

My son’s a little young yet to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he’s been witness to this epic battle his whole life. Between TV shows and movies, t-shirts and Halloween costumes, and of course multiple action figures of each — my 6-year-old has grown up amidst this greatest of superhero struggles.

Yet nowhere has this played out more frequently than in his lunch box. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are not only the two most iconic superheroes on earth, but they’ve also made more appearances as SuperLunchNotes than another other character. Between the two of them, they’ve accompanied his PBJ and Pirate’s Booty on nearly 25 occasions. And that’s not even counting notes featuring sidekicks, pets, or rogues galleries.

So to commemorate the premiere of the big screen skirmish, I thought I’d feature some of my favorite notes from each titan, then let you weigh in on who should be declared the winner of Batman v Superman: SuperLunchNotes… And your pick could win one of two $100 movie gift cards from Fandango.com!

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‘American Girl’ Amaya Receives Family Equality Council Impact Award

March 22, 2016 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

The “fallout” from the boycott of American Girl just keeps getting sweeter. In November, right-wing fringe group One Million Moms called for a boycott against the American Girl company for featuring an 11-year-old girl with two fathers in their magazine. As Amaya and her dads are friends of our family, it frustrated and saddened me to see them attacked. However, the controversy gave the family an amazing platform to share their story and the amazing work they do through their charity, Comfort Cases. In an ironic twist, the flurry of media coverage resulted in a banner year for Comfort Cases, with a 65% increase in goods delivered to children in the foster care system, and a 300% increase in donations.

So how could it get any sweeter than that?

Dads Rob and Reece, Amaya, and her three brothers were recently honored at Family Equality Council’s 2016 Impact Awards! The family was flown cross country to LA, where they got to walk the red carpet, hob-knob with celebs, and be recognized for their advocacy, their generosity, and for being such an inspiration to us all.

For both Rob and Reece, the most memorable part of the evening were the two standing ovations the family received from the crowd of over 500 celebrities, corporate sponsors, and activist. They were the only ovations of the night!

Family Equality Council Impact Awards
(L) Amaya, Reece, Greyson, (R) Tristan, Makai, and Rob on the red carpet at the 2016 Impact Awards. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

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Designer Daddy Goes to the White House

March 21, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I was invited to the White House recently, and initially I had no idea why. That’s not to say I wasn’t thrilled to receive the invitation. I’ve lived in DC for 20 years, and while I’ve toured the West Wing and attended the Easter Egg Roll, I’d never been to an official event there. I’d never been inside – not really.

And this was about as “inside” as you could get. The invitation read: First Lady Michelle Obama invites you to a conversation about the health of our nation’s kids…

This was part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. You know, the one trying to get kids to eat healthier and exercise more. Now obviously I want my kid (and all kids) to be healthy, but had they not read my recent post, 19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable? Had they not seen photos of me? They had clearly slacked off in their vetting process.

So there I was, the overweight dad of an under-vegetabled kid, summoned to 1600 Penn to talk about fitness and nutrition. Not one to look a gift house in the portico, I excitedly RSVPed in the affirmative — all the while questioning my inclusion in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

White House Let's Move Event

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SuperLunchNotes: Now I Eat My ABC’s

March 18, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

As the old year rebooted to a new one, I kicked it off with SuperLunchNotes A-to-Z in my son’s lunch box. I was bored at the idea of just doing a character that starts with each letter, so I decided to include a word describing or associated with the subject. A word he could figure out on his own — either in context or using his ever-increasing reading skills. If he wasn’t always going to eat well, at least he could learn something.

I initially thought I’d also choose words that could apply to Jon, either in reality or aspirationally. But you’ll see I quickly hit a snag with “E” and broke that rule.

In any case, grab your lunch salad and a water (or goldfish crackers and a juicebox — I won’t judge), sit back and enjoy an alphabetized study in scrumptious superheroics!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1.4 Aquaman  |  1.5 Brave’s Merida   |  1.6 Catwoman

superlunchnotes a-to-z

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Reader Response: Growing up with Gay Dads

March 11, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

I wanted to share a particularly sweet note I received from a reader recently. I’ve only done this once or twice before, but this message made me feel extra warm and tingly, as it speaks to the “mission” of my blog, and my life as a dad in general.

It comes from a woman who was raised by two fathers in the 1980s — an extremely rare occurrence at that time. She lost one of her dads to AIDS when she was just a teenager, and sent this message (and awesome photo) to me on the 20th anniversary of his death.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Growing up with gay dads, 80s style

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“This is a picture of my dad (right) and his partner back in the 80’s (note the awesome handlebar mustache).

We lost Paul 20 years ago today due to an AIDS-related illness. I wanted to post here and say that growing up with gay dads was so amazing, but back then it wasn’t easy.

I wanted to thank you for your blog and for your openness in sharing your story. I wish that I had known even one other family with gay dads, because there were times I felt very alone. It’s amazing how far we’ve come but there’s still work to do.

And when people like you continue to normalize gay families, it goes a long way.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next time someone asks me why it’s important if there’s a gay character in Star Wars, or why I need to label myself a “gay dad,” or whether advocating for more laws protecting LGBT parents and their families really matter, I’ll point them to this.

“Normalize” doesn’t mean trying to become “normal,” or trying to mimic or be accepted by the status quo. It means living our lives and sharing our story in whatever form that takes — whether it’s writing a blog, joining the PTA, or befriending a neighbor. It means being out and proud in the everyday, in the difficult and painful, as well as the bright and joyful. And it means doing all we can to ensure none of us ever feels alone.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So if you send me a particularly sweet (or sassy) note, you may very well make my day…and I might publish it. You’ve been warned.

Be sure to visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook.

19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable

March 1, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Things My Kid Has Eaten - SmartyPants Vitamins

As parents, one of the most common struggles is getting our kids to eat. To eat healthy. To eat what’s set before them. To eat at all.

My son’s mealtime issues are multi-tiered — a parfait of frustration, if you will. Sitting still (or down) is a frequent battle; and as he’s gotten older, he’s become more resourceful in acquiring between-meal snacks. But the biggest hurdle has been his continuously dwindling palette, particularly when it comes to vegetables. While we do sneak them in sometimes (pureed cauliflower in pasta sauce is a favorite), the fact remains he won’t knowingly put any sort of vegetable in his mouth.

But before I go on… If you’re one of those Type A parents whose kids have eaten only well-balanced, organic, locally-grown meals since birth, you can just keep on scrolling. We have plenty of inadequacy on our plate already. And besides, don’t you have some homemade kale-quinoa-almond milk popsicles to whip up?

Okay, now that they’re gone, the rest of us can relax a bit and get down to business. As an exercise in catharsis, I’ve compiled a list for you. A ridiculously long, ridiculously gross list of 19 things my kid has eaten (or chewed, or put in his mouth) since the last time he willingly ate a vegetable.

Cringe at the carnage, be strong in the solidarity, and be sure to share your own weird, stomach-churning tidbits in the comments.

1. Boogers

I figured I might as well get this one out of the way. While one of the most common and arguably most disgusting things kids ingest, I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s the convenience of the short delivery route, or perhaps it’s a child’s first way of practicing recycling. Whatever the reason, I have no idea what the chemical make-up of boogers are, and I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not vegetables.

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A Year of Loss, a Year of Life, Stepping Forward

February 28, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Oren Miller Hadrian's Wall

One year ago today I lost my friend Oren Miller, and the absence of his voice and his friendship is still as profound.

I think of him often, particularly of his “Cancer” post, which not only announced the diagnosis of the disease that would eventually take his life, but also recalled a moment years earlier when he chose to step back into life and be present.

If you’ve never read it, please take a few minutes and do so, now. If you have read it before, read it again.

I think of him often, particularly when I’m feeling out of my element, unengaged, not taking life in as it comes to me. Oren’s epiphany of choosing to be involved in his own life resonated so deeply, and has continued its echo throughout the 365 days since his last.

Think for a moment about the last year of your life. Scroll back through your mental calendar, and consider the holidays, the birthdays, the everyday. Where you were, what you experienced, who you were with. The times you beamed with pride, fell in love all over again, cuddled during story time. And the times you shouted too loudly, held grudges too closely, cursed your job or the lack of one. Think about the losses you’ve suffered and the things you’ve gained.

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For Your Consideration, This Guy

February 17, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Field Trip to SCOTUS

If you’re in the parent blogging community, you may be familiar with the Iris Awards. If not, it’s kind of like the Oscars of parent blogging — minus the million dollar jewelry and with lots more children being told to go to bed.

Last year I was nominated in the Best Philanthropic Work category for the writing and fundraising I (and scores of others) did on behalf of Oren Miller and his family. It was an amazing and unexpected honor, particularly as Christy Turlington was also in that category. (Neither of us won, by the way. This awesome organization did.)

Now this is going to be a bit weird. It is for me, at least. But I’ve been trying to be more genuine and honest about the things I want in life — instead of defaulting to snark and passive-aggressiveness. So in the spirit of Putting Out into the Universe What I’d Like to Get Back…

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