art + illustration

SuperLunchNotes: LGBTQ Superheroes Edition

June 25, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

LGBTQ Superheroes

As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.

Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.

Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.

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How to Get Your Kids Excited About Summer Reading

June 17, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Ah, summer! Is there a three-month period more fraught with dissenting objectives between kids and parents? Moms and dads of course want their children to have fun, be outside, and all that other wonderful summertime stuff. But we also want to make sure they don’t lose every bit of knowledge, motivation, and discipline they gained during the school year.

The go-to solution for many parents is summer reading. But unless you have one of those magical make-believe children who LOVES to read every minute of every day, getting our kids to crack a book during summer break can be a challenge. And as the dad of a 9-year-old with ADHD and serious addictions to swimming, video games, scootering, and anything that’s not sitting still with a book, it can be downright excruciating.

In an effort to make story time more engaging — and less of a chore — this summer we’re trying out a new app called NOVEL EFFECT.

summer reading - Novel Effect

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How Important Is Support for People With Obesity?

May 6, 2019 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I previously worked with Med-IQ on their campaign about depression. I was excited to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity (and obesity support) and to share my own story. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. This is a sponsored post — I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

Over the course of the last six months I’ve lost more than 85 pounds, and it’s been truly, literally life-changing. I achieved this through gastric sleeve surgery, radical changes to my diet, and regular exercise.

But I couldn’t have done any of this on my own.

A while back I wrote about my obesity journey — the ups and downs of my life and how that affected my weight and health in general. Now I want to focus specifically on how support from others helped me along the way — to where I am today. And where is that? Happier and healthier than I’ve been in… well, longer than I can remember.

Again, the details of all the words can be rather cumbersome and tedious, so I’m employing my doodling skills once more to share my experiences and drop some knowledge. See whimsical graph thingies (and important data) below.

Support = Science = Success

Studies at the Mayo Clinic show that identifying and connecting with supportive and understanding relationships improves long-term success with weight management.

This graphic shows some of the different ways I’ve found support for my own health and well-being.

Obesity Survey

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SuperLunchNotes: Black Superheroes Edition

February 20, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.

As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it was vital to ensure our child felt visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also made racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we made, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course it includes superheroes.

black superheroes

For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since pre-school. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.

I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!

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BLACK PANTHER

Black Superheroes

This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!

FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”
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My Obesity Journey: There & Back Again & There & Back Again & There & Back Again…

February 13, 2019 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I previously worked with Med-IQ* on their campaign educating people about depression. I jumped at the chance to work with them again, this time to raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

Obesity

On October 22 of last year, I had 75% of my stomach removed. After struggling with my weight for nearly three decades, I decided to undergo laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery. This decision was neither easy nor quick, but it was the best one for me.

My journey with obesity and weight loss is long, bumpy, and full of (literal) gut-wrenching twists and turns. I initially had written a whole bunch of words chronicling the ups and downs, progress and regress, complete with years and weights and BMIs and such. But I realized that didn’t tell the full story — at least not a story others could relate to and that would make the points I want to make. So instead I doodled this whimsically twisty timeline/infographic thingie…

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SuperLunchNotes: Polar Vortex Edition

January 31, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

POLAR VORTEX! SNOW SQUALL!! THUNDER SNOW!!! As much of the country is plunged into the coldest winter in recent history, I thought it would help pass the stay-indoors-at-all-costs time to share some of my favorite chilly-themed lunch notes.

Living in the northeast, we get more than our fair share of snow days. We’ve even had a couple of school closings due to extreme cold and/or wind (like this week). But mostly we still cart our kids off to school a) so that they don’t end up attending classes until the fourth of July, and b) so the teachers can get on with enjoying their all-too-brief summers.

I’ve pulled together some of the lunch notes I’ve done for my son over the years — on days when he needs to bundle up a little tighter and hopefully not lose his thirteenth pair of gloves.

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MR. FREEZE
Yo, VIP! Let’s kick it off with a Vanilla Ice pun!

polar vortex lunch notes

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Sh*t My Kid Lost at Summer Camp

September 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

What did you do on your summer vacation? Before we’re all too entrenched in the new school year, allow me to regale you with a harrowing tale. A tale of childhood. A tale of fun. A tale of absentmindedness and excuses and going commando. And a tale of a very, very frustrated dad.

Last summer my son attended a daytime summer camp and had an amazing time. I’ve never been much of a summer (or any type of) camper. I was/am too uptight to deal with nature or filth or a lack of personal space for long periods of time. But my kid is almost exactly the opposite. Which meant he squeezed the fun out of every moment of camp, but tended to not sweat many any of the details. Which also meant day-after-day-after-day of his shit being left behind at camp.

It boggled my mind, pushed all my Angry Dad buttons, and eventually became comically surreal. Nearly every parent I told said their kid was exactly the same, so I swore that the next summer I would document it somehow. There was some cathartic, empathetic humor to be mined.

Sh*t My Kid Lost at Summer Camp

Yet as this past school year wound down and quickly burst into summer, I found myself rushing around preparing for camp and completely forgot about my idea. It wasn’t until the first afternoon of pick-up that I remembered; when I opened my son’s backpack to put away his wet clothes and found none. On. Day. One.

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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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