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SuperLunchNotes: I Know What You Doodled Last Summer

August 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Before we’re all completely consumed with back-to-school madness, let’s take a moment to bask in the fading glow of summer…

My son’s preschool has a super-duper summer program. It’s similar to the regular school year, but loaded with extra helpings of sunshine, water and dirt. I continued the lunch note habit tradition all summer, and with each week of the program having its own theme, I had plenty of inspiration. Here are some highlights from SuperLunchNotes: Summer Edition.
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MARTIAL ARTS WEEK: June 9 – 12, 2014

Michelangelo  |  Pink Ranger  |  Iron Fist  |  Nightwing

SuperLunchNotes TNMT & MMPR - Designer DaddySuperLunchNotes Iron Fist & Nightwing - Designer Daddy

Jon attended a friend’s birthday party at a taekwondo studio, which helped kick off the start to an exciting summer.

The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon has been a great way to introduce Jon to a few more Marvel characters. Some purists don’t like the teenaged versions of heroes like Iron Fist, but I kinda dig the 21 Jump Street angle of the show. Fun Fact: the actor who does the voice of Iron Fist also does Michelangelo’s voice on the current TNMT cartoon.

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A Family Walk In The Woods

April 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been taking family walks in the woods since our only child was four-legged. Actually a bike path near the local dog park, it’s always been a great place to let Cordi sniff and poop and run around off-leash. (Not fond of dog parks, our baby girl’s more fond of her people.) The path also offers a quiet escape, a shady respite from the summer/spring/autumn heat. And it’s the perfect place to find rocks for Papa to border the landscaping in our yard.

So this past weekend we set off on a family walk/rock hunting expedition, so Papa could get some rocks and check off an item on his pre-wedding to-do list. We loaded up the four-legged kid, the two-legged kid and the wagon, which was for hauling rocks, and ultimately, a tired two-legged kid.

A Walk In The Woods Papa and JJ

As evidenced by the hat and shirt, JJ had been to a friend’s birthday party earlier that day at the neighborhood fire station. It was Papa’s turn to take him (I took him to a party last weekend), but it was Papa’s second fire station party. I think I need to plan better next time, or just claim dibs on the next party featuring firemen. Just sayin’…

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SuperLunchNotes: Week 3

March 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

My only regret about these early weeks of SuperLunchNotes was the bad lighting and soft focus filter I put on them. What is this, Prince of Tides?
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WEEK 3: Aug 26 – Aug 30, 2013
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Krypto: 8.26.13
krypto

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Same-Sex Marriage: What We’re Really Fighting For

April 2, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

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While last week was a monumental one for marriage equality and its supporters, it was also quite eventful for our little family. A quick recap:

I was coming off a “theater high,” having performed the weekend prior in Xanadu with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. However, re-entry into real life was rather bumpy. I hadn’t been around for JJ’s nightly routine in almost a week, and he acquired a few new tricks in my absence: finding new (and unending) reasons to get of bed, coloring on walls, and a higher register in his screaming voice chief among them.

Our family dog baby girl was recovering from her third surgery in as many months — and she’s still not out of the woods.

Papa and I had our first date night in months. It was about as romantic as you’d expect between toddler parents (i.e. sharing stresses, trying to stay awake, drinking). Yet the real high point was me kneeling over the toilet at 4am, and then either parked on top of it or in bed for the next three days.

It wasn’t all screaming and sickness. An interview we’d done with NPR (not about gay marriage, but remote controls) aired on Morning Edition. While they used very little of what we recorded, and apparently I wasn’t miked well enough so can only be heard muttering in the background, it was great to hear Papa and JJ get some airtime!

Add to all that, ongoing struggles with money, work, eating/exercise habits, potty training, pacifier addiction, too much TV, not enough family time… It’s not surprising the Supreme Court hearings about Proposition 8 and DOMA snuck up on me.

I’m sure I’d gotten a dozen emails from various organizations I follow, and had even seen some chatter about it online. But with everything going on in my life, I was in a bit of a bubble… and not the cool Glinda the Good Witch kind.

So I was genuinely shocked when I logged onto Facebook late Tuesday morning and saw a sea of red — dozens and dozens of friends had replaced their profile photos with equal signs to show their support of same-sex marriage.

I was also genuinely moved. I not only felt accepted, but advocated for. And I felt a sense of community I’d never experienced on Facebook before. And it wasn’t just my LGBT friends — but a number of my heterosexual friends. It was having so many of them mixed in that made it feel more real, like more of a change had taken place.

As the day progressed, the numbers of red avatars grew. People (yours truly included) started creating their own versions, which ranged from the politically clever to the absurdly silly. Several  friends who’d made it to the rallies started posting photos of the crowds. Various news sites and blogs started uploading recordings from the hearings. And by the second day of hearings, there were already stories about the profile photo phenomenon happening on Facebook. All told, nearly 3 million people changed their profile pics to some variation of the red and pink equal sign.

I want to acknowledge all those straight friends in particular: I felt and appreciated the love. It didn’t just make me feel equal, it made me feel like I was being carried around on your shoulders at the end of Rudy.

Now before I get too sappy (too late?), I need to answer the question posed in the title.

What are we really fighting for?

While the show of virtual support was wonderful, and indicates in a small way how things have shifted, that’s not enough in itself. And the court battles are not just so we can get married. Gays have been creating their own weddings (commitment ceremonies, civil unions, beach parties) for decades. The same goes for building our own families, whether it’s through biology, adoption, surrogacy or circumstance. We’ve also learned ways to circumvent the walls blocking us from healthcare benefits, visitation rights, inheritance issues and parenting restrictions, so that we can protect these self-made families the best we can. We’re an industrious bunch.

But being a family is hard, regardless of who has what parts. And legal marriage makes all the stuff I’ve described — both the personal stories and the general issues — a little bit easier to manage. So to answer my question: We’re fighting for all of it. For marriage, for equality, for our families, for our lives.

Because when one week finds you dealing with food poisoning, dog surgeries, remote controls, temper tantrums and crayon graffiti, you’ll take all the legal/societal/spiritual/financial/emotional help you can get.

An abridged version of this article also appears on The Good Men Project.

QuickPic: My Monkeys

February 5, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

Monkey See…

…Monkey Do.

QuickPic: Puppy Love

January 11, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

I sometimes worry that introducing a baby into our dog’s life when she’s middle aged (she’s 7) has been stressful for her. (Hell, it has been for her middle-aged fathers!) This captures a moment when I think she’s not minding too much.

The 12 Days of Christmas Past: Day 5

December 24, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The kiddo’s settled down for a long winter’s nap, so I’ll crank out one more Card of Xmas Past…

We were at my parents’ house this weekend for Christmas I, which included opening presents with my brother and his wife, a couple of way-too-large meals, and Sunday morning service at my Dad’s church. Christmas II will be at our house. Grandma & Grandpa are coming up here for another round of presents and a ginormous lasagna.

As we were leaving my parents’ house Sunday night — all a-flurry and a-scurry to make sure we got all our loot (presents), crap (non-present stuff), and JJ’s everything — my brother asked, “Do you want to take your little girl home, too?”

Yup, we almost forgot the dog.

As many other parents of both dogs and humans will tell you, our dog (Cordi, short for Cordelia*) truly was our “first baby” —  a test run of sorts. She’s a 7 year-old “pre-Obama” Portuguese Water Dog, and is the sweetest, smartest and most adorable dog of all time. Don’t believe me? Check out her headshots after this 2006 Holiday card featuring a be-spotted buttshot. Another well-loved card, many of which I sold to local pet and gift stores. Several years later I was out walking Cordi, and someone stopped to admire/pet her. This person mentioned how much she looked like a dog on a Christmas card she received once. She’s not Bo famous, but it’s a start.

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Fridge Wisdom: Regarding the dog’s butt

April 5, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I’ve found this phrase pretty useless in teaching my toddler just about anything. Yet it’s one of the top 10 (if not the #1) default commands parents use when trying to bring their wee ones in line. I know I’ve certainly spouted it at JJ in desperate situations, and always to no avail.

What was lacking? Specifics.
“Don’t poke the dog in the butt.”
“Bite your food, not your hand.”
“Those are Daddy’s toys. Please don’t remove them from their original packaging or they lose their value.”
“Buddy, no rocking the extremely large, expensive TV back and forth.”
“Stop touching that. It’s got poop on it.”

Niceness (like sharing) is nebulous and subjective. The dog’s butt is not.

Polka Dotty Doggy

October 23, 2011 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

I came across this cute little web site while strolling the interwebs… or maybe it was the Twitterverse, I can’t remember. But you’ll notice it’s pretty darn girly. Not that I have anything against that, it’s just that I’m the oldest of four brothers, married to another man, and the father of a son. So just not a lot of frilly, princessy stuff in my world.

But I wanted to give a shout out to the site and its creator — author/illustrator Wendy Grimm — due to our shared love of polka dots! The site is based around her book, Little Lilly’s Polka Dot World… but it’s a whole lot more than that. The fun and well-designed site is chock full of color and (simple, not annoying) animation, and features an interactive ABCs game (which JJ loved), pages to print out and color, as well as an online version of the book — which can be viewed with or without narration. But I think my favorite part is how the curtain opens and closes between each section of the site. Random, I know, but I love me some polka dots!

My only complaint is that JJ I wanted to stay and play longer, but ran out of stuff to do too soon. I’m looking forward to more games and stories from Ms. Grimm and Little Lilly. Go check it out!

Toddler Career Planning

August 31, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

When JJ was a much tinier tot than he is now, one of his favorite things to do was to shove his hand into either of his Fathers’ mouths and explore our teeth, cheeks, tongue, etc. We thought it was cute and joked about how he was going to be a dentist when he grew up.

Months later JJ discovered the joys of taking all of his balls (be they rubber, plastic or plush) and one-by-one transferring them from the toy box to the trash can. We thought it was adorable and kidded about how he was going to be a basketball player.

JJ’s latest obsession is to latch the straps of his booster seat. And then whine for us to unlatch them. And then re-latch them. And then whine some more. To infinity and beyond. We’re not sure what career this little activity might lead to. And it’s more than a little annoying.

As you can tell, even Cordi is a little concerned about JJ’s new hobby compulsion. That, and she’s not getting to eat the scraps out of his seat anymore.

So dear readers, any thoughts as to what JJ’s incessant clicking of his high chair seat belt might foretell? Your wisdom and humor is welcome and appreciated.

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