19 Amazing Things About Growing Your Family Through Adoption

June 8, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Growing your family through adoption

If you’re familiar with BuzzFeed, you may think all they do is publish annoyingly addictive celebrity listicles (list + article = listicle), and nostalgic quizzes about Saved By the Bell or Friends that you’re secretly proud of acing. While that is part of BuzzFeed’s feed, they also do the occasional feature about an awesome dad who makes lunch notes for his kid every day.

And not too long ago, they enlisted my help during “Parenting Week” to represent the voice of adoptive moms and dads. The assignment seemed fairly simple: a listicle (!) about adoption. I initially thought this would be easy-peasy, but as I started to consider all of the different kinds of families and scenarios that adoption can entail, I got a little overwhelmed. And as adoption is not always a joyous process, finding tangible positives (or “Amazing” things) proved challenging at times.

But in the end I found inspiration talking to my adoptive parent friends, an extended doodling session, and time spent reminiscing about our family’s experience. It was a great exercise in remembering all we went through, and makes celebrating Fathers’ Day in a couple of weeks all the sweeter!

Check out the full list on BuzzFeed.

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Have you visited and liked Designer Daddy on Facebook? Followed SuperLunchNotes on Instagram? Friended me on Snapchat?!? What are you waiting for? Hop to it — there’s so much fun and conversation and silly videos to be had!

Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads

June 6, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Every chance I get, I try to quash negative stereotypes associated with dads. Whether it’s helping to redefine our roles, advocating for same-sex fathers, or giving “dad bod” fashion tips, Designer Daddy is always on the job to remind the world that dads are anything but ordinary.

That applies to gift-giving, too. With Father’s Day on the horizon, I’ve put together a list of out-of-the-ordinary gifts for your extraordinary dad, dads, husband, or granddad. And Daddio, if you’re like me and (supposedly) hard to shop for, feel free to treat yourself!

Also, be sure to enter to win THIS ENTIRE GIFT LIST (valued at $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 14th I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads!

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Father's Day Gift Guide & GIveaway - Sword & Plough Rucksack

FOR THE STYLISHLY MANLY DAD: This sturdy, all-purpose rucksack is the rare combination of manly AND stylish, and has two exterior pockets and an interior laptop sleeve. From Main St. Shop, who sell only high-quality, American-made products. Check out their site for lots more gifts for dad or mom, as well as kids and pets. BONUS: Upcycled from military surplus materials. Available from Main St. Shop. $250

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What’s Mother’s Day Like for a Kid with No Mom?

May 27, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Mother's Day for a Kid With No Mom

It all began the Monday before Mother’s Day.

My son’s kindergarten teacher sent me an email to inform me that over the last few days, Jon’s behavior had been “like spring fever on steroids.” How clever.

While that subject could fill more than a few paragraphs, this is about the seemingly secondary purpose of the note. It continued,

We will be doing some Mother’s Day activities this week. Jon asked if he could do them for his Grandma – of course!!  Just wanted to check with you on this.”

I replied to both topics; for this one: “Yes, he’s done things for his Grandma (or Nonna, Nick’s mom) in the past, so that’s totally fine.”

And this was true. Both at preschool and in Sunday school at my parents’ church, my son was encouraged to make something for his Grandma or Nonna on Mother’s Day — which he always did, without issue.

The holiday came and went. We called Nonna in Italy and Grandma in Virginia. We also spent a good deal of time consoling/entertaining our pouty 6-year-old who was frustrated none of his friends could come over to play. They of course all had plans with their mothers.

Come Monday morning, once husband and son were packed up and off to work and school, I finally got around to weeding through the stack of activity sheets, flyers, and crafts that get brought home from school each week.

Amongst the pile, I found a homework assignment, an activity sheet, a craft, and a card — all about or directed toward “Mom.”

I was initially surprised, then confused; this soon morphed into concern and irritation.

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How To Make Captain America: Civil War Bento Lunches for Your Little Avengers

May 10, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Earlier this year, Babble (Disney’s parenting web site) kicked off an Instagram series called #LunchboxLove. It features fun and creative lunches from fun and creative parents. So of course I was beyond stoked when they asked me to participate — because I’m so fun and creative. 🙂

Our whole family has been looking forward to Captain America: Civil War, so I was immediately inspired to create something from Marvel’s hero-vs-hero soon-to-be blockbuster. I had initially thought I would try and represent several characters in the lunch, but that was proving to be rather complicated. So then I turned my focus on the two iconic heroes leading teams into battle. But knowing my son was a diehard fan of both Captain America AND Iron Man, how could I make him choose?

I didn’t. Avengers assemble… your ingredients!

Captain America: Civil War Bento Lunch

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

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• Bagels (I used plain, but any kind would work)
• Captain America: strawberry & blueberry fruit spread, cream cheese
• Iron Man: salami, cheddar cheese, mozzarella string cheese, condiments
• Popcorn
• Dried fruit: cranberries, blueberries, cherries
• Red & yellow snacking tomatoes
• Red & yellow bell peppers
• Ranch dressing or other veggie dip
• Cookie cutters (2″ star, 3″ circle, 4″ biscuit cutter)

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Happy Mother’s Day to the Women Who Made Me the Dad I Am Today

May 8, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Mother's Day

As a family with two dads, Mother’s Day can be challenging. It brings up questions from our son and can at times make him — and us — feel like an outsider. Yet even though he doesn’t have a mom, our son has inherited so much compassion, wisdom, and love from generations of great women.

One of these women was my maternal grandmother, Louise McCullough.

The photo above is of my grandmother, my mom, me and Jon from November 2010. Grandma Louise (or, more informally, Grandma Mac) had been in poor health, having undergone multiple stomach surgeries. She was in her mid 80’s and increasingly feeble, but continued to remain the strong, caring, opinionated matriarch she’d always been.

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Remembering Prince and How His Music Helped Save My Life

April 30, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Remembering Prince & How He Helped Save My Life

In the summer of 1984 I turned 16. I had a year of high school behind me and was living on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific. My dad was a military chaplain, and we’d moved to Okinawa, Japan the previous summer. For several months we lived in a house in Okinawa City, and the top floor consisted only of my bedroom and a wraparound balcony with a view of the ocean. Aside from the occasional gecko scurrying across the ceiling, it was a sanctuary of solitude for this eldest of four boys.

I had a pretty good first year of high school, as years of high school go. My grades were good, I made the tennis team, and had a solid group of friends. I’d even been voted “Cutest Couple” with a girl who I happened to be dating when the votes were cast, though soon after reverting to friend status.

By the summer of this story, we’d moved onto Kadena Air Force Base. Military housing is typically bland, but here was accented with island flavor: a clay tile roof, palm trees growing from the patio, poinsettia bushes along the side of the house. I hadn’t yet attained high school party-attendee status, so weekend nights were spent walking to the movies or bowling alley, days at one of the beaches scattered around the island.

At the end of that June, I bought Purple Rain at the BX. Over the course of the summer and into my sophomore year, Prince’s magnum opus was the soundtrack of our collective youth. Blasting from cars and boom boxes, on every Walkman, every track (and some B-sides) played nonstop at school dances.

Like Thriller the year before, Purple Rain crossed lines of gender, race, and genre. But it went even further, delving into and mixing sex and spirituality. This was exemplified most in the album’s two biggest hits. “When Doves Cry” dripped with sensuality, while “Let’s Go Crazy” sang of the afterlife with raucous, unpious fervor. The latter was a revelation for this preacher’s kid struggling not only with faith, but also with my sexuality… and what that meant for my own afterlife.

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Philadelphia Family Fun: Our Five Favorites

April 23, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

If you’re looking for affordable family fun, look no further than Philadelphia. Our family got to spend four days with our up-the-coast neighbor; however, the first two were just me and my 6-year-old — a challenge I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. Under normal circumstances, my adventurously independent son is a handful. Now we were sans one dad, adding a train ride, a hotel stay, and a bunch of activities in a city I knew next to nothing about. Papa and I had spent an anniversary weekend years ago, focusing mainly on art museums and antiques. I knew my kiddo was having none of that, so we were in uncharted territory.

It’s also important to note that Jon was not as over the previous week’s stomach bug as I thought.

Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia has plenty of affection for families and kids, too. We made it through the trip with lots of flying colors, great memories, and even learned a few things. And yes, there were lots and lots of trips to the bathroom.

Here are our five Philadelphia favorites — along with a score for the restrooms at each location, based on their ability to accommodate weary, middle-aged dads and a kindergartner whose bowels were constantly at DEFCON #2.

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5. THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE
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Philadelphia family fun — Franklin Institute

The initial draw of The Franklin Institute was the Art of the Brick exhibit — which did not disappoint. Yet on further exploration, the entire museum was amaze-balls, as the kids say. From the giant interactive heart, to the train factory, a planetarium, and pretty much any invention or sciencey thing you can think up — it had it all.

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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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