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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I’ve been teaching my son about superheroes since birth – beginning, of course, with Superman. His brightly colored costume and superhuman abilities, paired with an innate goodness and endless supply of hope, make Superman the understandable idol for even the youngest of superhero fans.
As promised from earlier this week, here are a few more movie (and TV) inspired DIY Valentines that didn’t make the initial cut. The first batch was more family-friendly — these are a little less-so, and (in my opinion) a little more fun! Please enjoy, share, make your own, get inspired and create something even more crafty and fun and lovely. But above all enjoy your Valentine’s Day, whether it’s with a person — or a movie — that you love.
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
Is shining in the sky
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight
Wishing you and yours a bright, peaceful, magical, Happy New Year.
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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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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.
I spend a lot of time worrying if I’m a good enough father. My concerns aren’t so much that my son’s being raised by two dads or that he’s adopted — though I know both of those will bring challenges along the way. Something I do worry about lately is that we’re raising an overly-entitled child.
It could be argued that it’s because Jon’s an only child. Or that we started habits of “giving in” early on. Or that he’s a 5-year-old whose only concerns are for himself. Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that very little in society works to counteract such a sense of entitlement. Reality shows, social media, selfies, (ahem) blogs — all reinforce that it’s all about ME, all the time.
So we wanted to start teaching Jon about being charitable — thinking beyond what’s in it for him. When the opportunity to work with Lee Jeans on their #LeeGoodDeed campaign came along, I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity.
AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR
Yes, this is a paid post for Lee Jeans. I’m sorry if that ruins the vibe of my story, but posts like this are what afford me the ability to keep blogging. And if you’ve followed the blog for any amount of time, some of these partnerships have resulted in some pretty incredible experiences.
TIME TO PLUG THE JEANS
If you’re like me, the last time you’d worn Lee Jeans, you were also wearing a Members Only jacket and Pony sneakers with a Velcro strap. They just weren’t on my fashion radar. Then last year, Lee was a sponsor at a conference I attended, and they fitted everyone with a new pair of jeans. Honest-to-god, they were (are) the most comfortable pair of jeans I’ve owned in many, many years. And for this partnership, they hooked me up with ANOTHER pair, equally as comfy. Tucked in the back pocket was a list of ideas for my #LeeGoodDeed assignment…
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.
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.
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.
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!
Over the last couple of days I’ve stopped and started writing several times about Ferguson and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and toy guns, race and violence. But I had to stop because my mind was a snarl of thoughts and feelings, tangled even more by the words and pictures from external sources. I just don’t know what to say. Or what to feel or to think. I just don’t know.
Late last night I was doing Jon’s lunch note, and I was at a loss as well. I couldn’t bring myself to do a superhero or a Power Ranger or Transformer or anything else that even hinted at violence. Even if the fight was for good, I just needed a break.
Jon doesn’t know what’s going on in the world, and for me right now, that’s okay. I’ve read about other parents talking to their children of similar age about race and children being killed for their skin color by police of a different skin color, and that’s all well and good for them. But not for me and mine — not just yet. My boy likes to play guns (even though he doesn’t own one) and likes to “shoot the bad guys in the face” (even though he has no idea what that really means). He also doesn’t describe people based on skin color. The closest he’s come is to say Cyborg (a Black superhero) looks like his friend Charlie from school.
So instead of writing about things I don’t know or words I don’t know how to say or am not ready to say, I will write what I do know.
I know that I’m thankful. I’m thankful for my life and my family, imperfect as it is. I’m thankful that my son has two fathers who love him with all their heart. And even though we’re getting older and grayer and slower as he’s getting faster and stronger, we’re here for him. We’re his and he’s ours.
I know I’m thankful that my son doesn’t have to grow up fearing for his life or where his next meal will come from or where he will sleep each night. But I’m thankful that his Papa and I are able to teach him that there are kids and families that do — and that hopefully it will help shape him into a loving, compassionate, generous man. And that by helping to raise a loving, compassionate, generous man, there will be fewer dead children or abused women or bullied queer kids.
Lastly, I know I’m thankful my 5-year-old is still young enough to crawl into my lap or be kissed goodnight or hugged for a good long hug. And when we do talk about how some people are treated differently because of their skin color, their gender, who they love or how they became a family, he’ll have stored up enough hugs and kisses and love so those things sink in and have an impact, but don’t crush his spirit.
Wishing everyone a happy, safe, hug-filled Thanksgiving.