SPRING IS IN THE AIR!
Flowers are blooming! Bees are buzzing! And of course lots of excited young’uns are scurrying about, frolicking in the sunshine like kittens on Red Bull.
It’s possible your kids are just excited about spring break; but in all likelihood they’re already looking ahead to summer. Help keep those little minds focused on the last few months of school by celebrating all things spring! I’ve pulled together some of my favorite spring-themed lunch notes to help put some fresh fun in your kids’ lunch.
When it comes to ideas for springtime lunch notes, just look out the window. Plants, flowers, and trees; butterflies, bugs and other creepy-crawlies; birds, frogs, picnics — you get the picture. And don’t forget Earth Day is April 22!
There’s no shortage of springy characters to be found in comics, video games, TV and children’s books. L to R, top row: Bulbasaur (Pokémon), Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), Curious George, Clayface (DC Comics/Batman). Middle row: Wasp (Marvel comics/movies), Toad (Super Mario games), Kermit the Frog, Ant-Man* (Marvel). Bottom row: Red (Angry Birds), Spider-Man, Superman, Poison Ivy (DC Comics/Batman).
“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.
Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.
Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.
In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.
Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.
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Powerful Girl: STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy
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.
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?
Through nearly every phase of my life, comic books and superheroes have been a source of entertainment, enlightenment, and inspiration. Yet there’s a real-life superhero that has had my back through it all — one that has gone heretofore unrecognized. Whether venturing out on my own, finding my soulmate, or settling into domesticated dad bliss, this unsung hero has never failed to protect, comfort, and heal. All while swathed in soothing shades of pink.
I’m of course talking about Pepto-Bismol.
Or as I like to call it…
It’s been a banner year for same-sex parents. Marriage equality finally became the law of the land; and as marriages increased, so have the number of LGBT parents. Gay dads and lesbian moms appeared in national ads for soup, shampoo, pain reliever, and formula. And as is becoming a yearly occurrence, NPH and his family slayed with their Halloween costumes on social media.
Yet with all of this increased exposure and acceptance comes increased expectations; expectations to have THE MOST FABULOUS WEDDING, THE MOST PERFECT HOUSE, and of course THE MOST ADORABLE, WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN. On top of that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how “lucky” or “blessed” our son is to have my husband and I as his dads. That’s nice and all, but that’s a lot of pressure. And I’m pretty sure he’d beg to differ sometimes. (See #2 below)
I’ve heard it said that parenting is the great equalizer. Stop by our house sometime, and we’ll be happy to demolish every stereotype you’ve ever heard about gay men being tidy… or put together… or having the energy to stay up past 9:00 pm.
So in lieu of THE MOST LEGENDARY HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER, I’m opting for something a little more honest. Unfiltered, even. Please enjoy a glimpse into our family’s 2015 — along with a few holiday “traditions” — in this (very loose) version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Two years ago I examined how major photo card companies failed to represent LGBT families even once in their holiday photo cards. I issued a challenge to the four companies profiled, pledging to employ the services of whichever company made the change first to be inclusive of same-sex couples/parents.
The companies I profiled were Tinyprints, Shutterfly, Minted, and Snapfish. I chose these four because they all sent me catalogs, and because they all ranked among the top photo card companies, according to Top Ten Reviews. In the two years since, I’ve received three and then two catalogs, respectively, and have indicated that in the data below. As in 2013, when reviewing each company’s online offerings, I looked at the first couple of pages of Holiday and/or Christmas cards. This generally included between 150-200 cards.
The results are a mixed bag of naughty and nice…
Designer Daddy participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — one of best parts of being a dad is sharing the things I loved as a kid with my son. And with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looming on the horizon, we’ve had a blast experiencing anything and everything Star Wars-related.
And as if the awesome toys Hasbro sent us recently weren’t enough, they’ve hooked us up again — this time with a box of booty to have our very own Star Wars Family Game Night!
I loved playing board games with my family growing up. We had pretty much every word/trivia/brain-teaser game there was; and I’m sure this contributed significantly to my love of writing. Not to mention my competitive streak.
Game night was always fraught with fun and emotion, and everyone had their role to play. Mom, The Peacekeeper: making sure older brothers were more lenient with the younger; Dad, The Jokester: somehow managing to work a really bad pun into every answer he gave; Littlest Brother, The Ticking Time Bomb: always trying to keep up, rarely able to keep his cool. And then there was me, The Mastermind — masquerading as the mild-mannered big brother, but constantly plotting how to crush my younger siblings when they least expected it. (Cue maniacal laughter)
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As Jon is just 6, we’re still finding our roles when it comes to game night. But we did have a great time playing LOOPIN’ CHEWIE (his favorite of the bunch) with him and a friend. I’ll just post this photo as a review — you can’t fabricate a smile like this: