I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.
One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.
For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…
It’s been quite a year of evolution for our little family. Between trips overseas, moving into a new house, and starting a new school, it’s been an exciting and eventful 12 months. Yet it’s also been daunting — facing down so much that’s new, and less and less that’s known. I’ve heard similar stories of big life changes causing children (and adults) to regress. They search for something comfortable and familiar in a wide, open field of uncertainty.
We’ve definitely felt it, seen it in one another. My newly minted 7-year-old experiences this the most. In addition to officially graduating from “big boy” to “kid” — and on top of a new house, new school, and new classmates — he’s also lost multiple teeth, grown multiple inches, and reads everything in sight.
When overwhelmed or insecure, my son’s default settings range from Silly to Ignore to Meltdown — sometimes all three within the span of a few seconds. This in turn triggers my default settings of anger, frustration, helplessness. Many times it’s damn near impossible to be the bigger person. Many times I fail.
But as seems to be my parenting mantra, I keep on trying. In attempts to empathize with all the transitions my
little boy big boy kid is going through, I try to speak less; try to listen better; try to breathe more. And I try to do what he’s always needed the most from me — be there.
In organizing the new house, I culled several years’ worth of artwork and school projects. Among the mountains of crafts were these three masterpieces:
Created over the last three Thanksgivings, they are a gloriously fun study in artistic interpretation.
But they also serve as a reminder that time continues to continue; that it speeds by, leaving me stunned that I have a child who’s already been in school this long. It also shows that as each year brings new challenges, he/we keep coming out the other side slightly different, hopefully better. And with extra glitter.
This first Thanksgiving in our new surroundings brings new traditions along with it. But in the midst of the new and of change, I plan to soak up the familiar, appreciate the growing pains, and anticipate the next evolution.
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Visit and like Designer Daddy’s Facebook page for (nearly) non-stop fun & conversation. And also goofy pictures.
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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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
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.
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.
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.
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…
I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
As I’ve said many times before, one of the best parts of being a dad is getting to relive my favorite things from childhood alongside my son. It happens when I’m introducing a superhero, we’re watching a movie or playing a board game. Even an experience like the first day of kindergarten — telling him about mine, hearing about his. I get such a charge out of seeing things through his eyes.
And few things connect the generations like Play-Doh. Next to drawing, sculpting things from Play-Doh was my favorite form of creative expression as a tyke. And that seems to be pretty universal — every kid (and former kid) loves the doughy stuff, whether they end up being an artist or not.
To celebrate this universally awesome toy/craft/pastime/plaything, Hasbro has created something extra special for World Play-Doh Day on September 16. They’ll be hosting a virtual “parade” on their Facebook page, featuring sculpts showing the theme of national pride!
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!
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]
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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