family traditions

A Thank You Note to Straight People

July 6, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage couldn’t have happened without straight people — and not just the five Supreme Court justices that voted in favor of it…

Thank you Straight People, Love, A Gay Dad

Dear Straight People,

Thank you. Thank you for cheering right alongside us as we in the LGBT community celebrate a newfound, long-overdue measure of equality. Thank you for the endless sea of rainbow-colored photos. Thank you for voting. Thank you for teaching your children (and sometimes your parents) that not every family is the same, yet deserving of the same respect. Thank you for telling them that whether they grow up to love the opposite gender or their own, you will still love them. Thank you for encouraging them to be whoever they were meant to be. Thank you for trying to understand and to learn. Thank you for asking questions, even if you don’t always have the right words. Thank you for being fair and equal in your schools, your jobs, your churches, and your neighborhoods. Thank you for defending us in a fight, even when we’re not around. Especially when we’re not around.

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New Ads from Hillary, Dove, Tylenol Show Gay & Lesbian Families. Does It Still Matter?

June 25, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

new ads with gay and lesbian families

As the months and days have counted down to the presumed legalization of same-sex marriage, more companies (and politicians) continue to produce ads with gay and lesbian families and couples. But do they still make an impact? What do they say about the companies airing them? Do they still even matter? READ FULL ARTICLE >>

28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 18, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Marriage equality currently sits on the Supreme Court’s docket, awaiting a final ruling. Though not assured, all signs point to same-sex marriage finally being legalized in the entire United States by month’s end.

I’ve put a lot of words on this site about same-sex marriage — about mine and others'; about the depiction, support and condemnation of gay marriage in the media and politics; and about its slow progression to acceptance…one ponderous magnet at a time.

Waiting with hopeful anticipation, I’m (nearly) at a loss for words. But many others are not — men who have shared their stories and their families with me over the last few years. Many who have become friends in this herky-jerky journey of being a gay man and a father. I’ve pulled together a fraction of the tales that have paved the long, bumpy road to equality — and the reasons these dads love (or look forward to) being married.

So as we await SCOTUS’ decision, please join me in wishing these dads and their children a long-overdue, exceptionally, abundantly awesome (and legally married), Happy Fathers’ Day!

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1. Your Love Knows No Bounds…or Boundaries

Brian & Ferd, married 6/10/13, Toronto; moving back to New York City in July. [Photo courtesy of Brian Rosenberg]

28 Reasons Being Legally Married Gay Dads Is Awesome!

Brian and Ferd were married on their 20th anniversary as a couple. Several years earlier they had moved to Toronto from New York, as Ferd was coming on the end of his legal status in the US (he’s Dutch). Six days after their wedding in Canada, SCOTUS ruled that they could now get married in the US and both be eligible for federal benefits of marriage. Brian can now sponsor his husband for permanent residency, and the couple is moving back to New York next month. Welcome back, guys!
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Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

June 11, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Let me drop some Jedi Master-level parenting knowledge on you: Just because you grow up an epic Star Wars fan, then became a dad and go into hyperdrive raising your child in the ways of The Force, things might not turn out exactly as you’d imagined. With the passing of time and the expansion of Mr. Lucas’ universe, stark differences have emerged between generations of Star Wars enthusiasts…

  • When I was a kid, Darth Vader scared the bejeezus out of me — as was intended. Upon his first viewing of Episode IV, my then 4-year-old son squealed with glee at Vader’s debut.
  • When I was a kid, we called it STAR WARS, not A New Hope. Not Episode IV.
  • When I was a kid, you could easily find t-shirts with Luke, Han or the droids on them. Nowadays, the majority of Star Wars clothing for kids is adorned by the Dark Side — Vader, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, etc.
  • When I was a kid, we collected action figures. Today? After six films and multiple animated series, there are hordes of figures in every size, not to mention headphones, watches, bike helmets, lingerie, pet costumes, snowboards, wedding rings, toilet seat covers, bathrobes, chopsticks, sleeping bags, and oh yeah, LEGO. SO. MANY. LEGO.
  • When I was a kid, there was no Jar Jar Binks.

Despite all these differences, there are two things that bind my son and I together like The Force: We both love a good light saber battle, and we both love to eat popcorn when we’re watching the Star Wars films. So when I signed on to help promote the #PopWars Video Contest for Pop Secret’s Pre-popped Popcorn, I knew my video had to include copious amounts of popcorn AND an epic light saber battle.

Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

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DMK Releases First Original Song, ‘Pale Blue Dot’

May 22, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

DMK — the incredibly talented (and adorable) Depeche Mode cover band from Bogotá, Colombia — has written and recorded their first original song, “Pale Blue Dot.”

Dicken Schrader, daughter Milah (11), and son Korben (8) have been performing as DMK for the last 5 years, putting their creative touch on “Enjoy the Silence,” “Black Celebration” and half a dozen others Depeche Mode classics. They’ve gotten to perform live for crowds all over the world, and even ventured beyond the kids’ bedroom into more creative video productions.

Their latest is an all-new, original family project, with Dad on keyboard and kazoo, Milah playing the ukulele and recorder, and Korben tackling the xylophone and accordion. “Pale Blue Dot” was inspired by Carl Sagan’s book of the same name, and is a simple, sweet song about being connected on this “pale blue dot” we all call home.

A more detailed (and bittersweet) explanation of the song, from the band’s YouTube page:

It was written by Dicken and dedicated to Milah and Korben — who will soon move outside the country to live with their mother — to remind them that our planet is just a tiny speck of dust in the vastness of space and so it doesn’t matter how far away we go, we will always be together.

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Remembering Robin Williams: A Mini Film Fest with My Son

January 15, 2015 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

The Oscar nominations have now been announced, and while many are making lists of films they need to see, planning Oscar parties, or predicting winners, I’m left wondering what kind of tribute will be given to Robin Williams during the ceremony. As a winner for Good Will Hunting, a 3-time nominee, and a co-host in 1986, I’m hoping his work gets the attention it deserves. When you stop and look at the span of his career, you understand why so many felt personally impacted by his tragic death in August of last year.

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One of my greatest joys as a parent has been sharing favorite films with my son. As he’s still quite young, I’m watching most of these family-friendly movies for the first time in decades. Add to that the thrill of seeing them through my 5-year-old’s eyes, and it’s always an amazing experience.

Until recently, I was going through my mental list of favorite movies when choosing ones to show my son. Then in August, Robin Williams passed away, and I decided I needed to introduce my son to this beloved actor’s work.

To my memory, the world hadn’t lost a movie star who was as popular – and still active – in quite some time. I’d wager any movie-lover’s list of favorites includes at least one of Williams’ films. My library includes five of them.

Robin Williams left behind a body of work that included more than 60 films, four of which had yet to premiere. One of these was Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third installment of the wildly popular series. Excited at the idea of taking my son to see one of Williams’ movies in the theater led us to embark on a mini Robin Williams film fest over the couple of months following Williams’ death.
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ROBIN WILLIAMS - ALADDIN

© 1992 Walt Disney Productions. IMDB.com

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Happy New Year from Designer Daddy, Depeche Mode & DMK

December 31, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Early on in Designer Daddy’s existence, I learned about DMK — a Depeche Mode cover band from Bogatá, Columbia. If you’ve never heard of them, do yourself a favor and check out my Q&A from a couple of years ago with lead singer/video producer/dad extraordinaire, Dicken Schrader. He and his kids Milah & Korben (the “D,” “M,” and “K”) have added another Depeche Mode classic to their growing catalog, a whimsical cover of “But Not Tonight.”

The production and special effects are certainly more involved than their early, simpler videos. However, it still maintains the innocence and joy this family still seems to have performing together.

I thought the lyrics of “But Not Tonight” and DMK’s accompanying video were a fitting soundtrack as we reflect on the end of one year and the dawn of the next.

The stars in the sky
Bring tears to my eyes
They’re lighting my way tonight
And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon
Is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight

Wishing you and yours a bright, peaceful, magical, Happy New Year.

Much love,
Brent
Designer Daddy

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Be sure to check out Designer Daddy on Facebook & Twitter for lots of exciting/silly/sappy stuff in the coming year!

Considering Christmas

December 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

Christmas is often idealized as a time of reflection, to pause and consider life, family, world peace — lightweight stuff like that. But I can’t remember the last time the days between Halloween and New Years resembled anything remotely meditative or peaceful.

I could blame consumerism, box stores and maga-malls; the colder, shorter days; my rambunctious 5-year-old; Obama. But if I’m being honest, it’s all my own doing. If there’s going to be any inner dialog, it’s on me to stop and listen. So one recent evening I sat in view of our tree* and took it all in. Glowing lights in our dimly lit dining room, twinkling and reflecting off the orbs and odd shapes adorning a sweet-smelling fir. I let my eyes wander from ornament to ornament, remembering where and when they were purchased, what was happening in my life. It was like spending time with old friends — you may not see one another very often, but your history is deep and your reconnection easy.

In taking these moments, in making these observations, I came to realize some of these baubles were among my oldest possessions. Outlasting furniture, clothes, photographs, albums, books. Tokens from nearly every year of my life hung from this tree. It was a feeling both comforting and weighty — but it had given me the space and peace of mind I’d been seeking.

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designer daddy - christmas ornament

Mouse, circa 1976
I’ve owned this mouse made of felt and yarn longer than anything else in my possession. I don’t know exactly where or when it was purchased, but I’ve always known it as being from my brother. The photo may not show, but it’s yellowed and frayed in spots. Yet I’ll hold onto it as long as I can, clutching close the memory of our childhood, our innocence and friendship, before dogma and condition and uncomfortable silence took its place. And I’ll hold a little hope that some of the former will return.

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Tylenol Recreates Norman Rockwell Painting with Lesbian Moms

December 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new campaign from Tylenol brings an iconic Norman Rockwell painting to life with more diverse depictions of family – including an Asian family, an African American family, and a family with lesbian mothers.

Tylenol Norman Rockwell Lesbian Moms

Few would associate the word “modern” with Norman Rockwell. Many of his most recognized paintings are full of sentiment and nostalgia, rendered in an ultra realistic style — none of which earned him the respect of art critics. Yet as a young artist, I was fascinated not only by the detail of Rockwell’s work, but also how he portrayed America in the 40s and 50s. This was the world of my parents and grandparents, so I always felt a connection – as if I was looking through an old family photo album.

“Freedom From Want” is arguably Rockwell’s most well-known work. Part of a series for The Saturday Evening Post originally intended to promote patriotism, it has since become synonymous with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; epitomizing The American Family. Yet, like most of Rockwell’s early work, it focuses only on white (and straight) America — something that causes a decided disconnection for many today.

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Rudolph’s Magical Holiday Giveaway

December 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

One of my favorite childhood memories was watching TV specials during the holidays. This was long before streaming video, DVR, or even DVDs. You had to (OMG!) wait for the holidays to roll around and (WTF?) watch them at the time they aired. Sounds horrendous, right? Yet being able to see them only once a year made it that much more special.. Unlike now, where my 5-year-old can watch Frosty on a loop until Easter. And while I loved Peanuts, The Grinch and all the others, my favorites were always the Rankin/Bass specials — particularly Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The creativity of the stop-motion animation, the catchy songs, and of course the wonderful characters — all added up to something truly magical.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Holiday Giveaway

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, and thier pals on the Island of Misfit Toys. That’s right, FIFTY YEARS. While the animation looks rudimentary compared to today’s CGI blockbusters, the obvious hand-craftedness of the Rankin/Bass shows are what make them both charming and mesmerizing. When I showed Rudolph to Jon for the first time a couple of years ago, he was transfixed…and still is. And so am I.

So to celebrate, commemorate and (once again) collaborate, Lunchbox Dad and I have pooled our creativity and pulled together some nifty Rudolph-themed prizes. Check out all the awesomeness, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

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