RASPBERRIES

SuperLunchNotes: Green Week!

March 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

When I saw St. Patrick’s Day was falling on a Monday, I decided to do “Green Week” leading up to the 17th, so that on the actual holiday the blog would be celebratory in its virtual verdant-ness. Now if I can just figure how to get cyber-drunk…

BTW, green is also JJ’s favorite color, so doing a Green Week is fine by him anytime.
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WEEK 31: Mar 10 – Mar 14, 2014
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Hulk: 3.10.14
hulk-smash

Papa bought JJ a Hulk action figure a while back that yelled “HULK SMASH!” and I immediately but the kaibosh on that—like he needs another excuse to hulk out. So I was a little trepidatious (hypocritical?) putting this note in his lunch, but how could I kick off “Green Week” without his favorite mossy monster? Also, Mondays often DO need to be smashed.

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Ban Bossy? A Suggested Alternative

March 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Enough has already been written about this whole “Ban Bossy” business, so I’m going to suggest an alternative:

gary busey ban bossy

However, if you’d like to read some actual commentary on the subject (which certainly seemed to stir up the interwebs a bit), please check out one of the articles below from some of my fine, fellow parent bloggers. And lordy they sure are a bossy bunch!

Donna Biroczky / Dangerous Cupcakes “Like a Boss! Not a #banbossy Fan”

Jeff Bogle / Out With The Kids “Dad Bloggers React to #BanBossy with More Words Worth Banning”

Doug French / Laid-Off Dad “Join Me to Ban ‘Lean'”

Aaron Gouveia / The Daddy Files “Why I Won’t Ban Bossy”

Joel Gratcyk / Daddy’s Grounded “Its Not Okay To Be Afraid Of A Word, I Will Not #BanBossy”

Alan Kercinik / Always Jacked “What #banbossy Says to Boys”

John Kinnear / Ask Your Dad “There Are No Bad Words… OK, There Are Some – I Don’t Know if Bossy is One”

Dave Lesser for TIME “Dad: I’m Going To Keep Calling My Daughter Bossy”

Kadi Prescott / Media Actually “My Two Cents: The #BanBossy Social Campaign”

Jessi Sanfilippo / Shuggilippo “Slap My Ass and Call Me Bossy”

David Vienna for Huffington Post “Why I Won’t Ban ‘Bossy'”

David Wallach for Chicago Parent “Chicago Dad to Sheryl Sandberg: Don’t Tell Me How to Talk to My Kids”

Jessica Watson / Four Plus An Angel “What You Can Call Me”

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Become a fan of Designer Daddy’s Facebook page, and I promise to never, ever ban you.

Utah Presses Pause on Same Sex Marriage

January 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Yesterday the Governor of Utah declared the 1,000+  same sex marriages in that state invalid. While this isn’t nearly as surprising as the federal court decision allowing the weddings, it’s certainly disheartening.

However, my brother Bryan — who lives in Utah, and who I wrote about when the ruling happened in December — wrote very poignantly about it on his Facebook page. I couldn’t have said it better, or more personally…

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“At the end of the day, after the legal atrocities and discrimination of a church with too much money and the ignorance of a state that doesn’t understand its separation from that church, I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely partner and lucky to have the love I do. I will never take that for granted and that is something that the USA, Utah, the Mormons, the Christians, the Muslims, the hicks, the ignorant, and the scared will never ever be able to take away from me. Time and history are on my side, and I truly believe this will happen in my lifetime. Karma is wonderful, love is better, and both are charging head on toward Utah. I already have both of mine, and my hope is the same for my amazing friends and second family here (many of whom I consider married even if the law doesn’t). I wish a good night to the end of an ugly day. It does and will get better. XOX”

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So if he’s hopeful, I can be hopeful. The wedding march has already begun in Utah, so I’ll just press the pause button on this one:

utah-pause

Designer Daddy’s Greatest Hits of 2013

January 1, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

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2013 was a pretty monumental year, both personally and blogally(?). So for all of the awesome, new readers I’ve met recently — as well as longtime loyalists — here’s a recap of my favorite posts from the last 12 months!

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An Open Letter to Photo Card Companies: LGBT Families Celebrate Christmas, Too

December 17, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

COLLAGE2

I want to preface by saying that I find articles titled “An open letter to…” a bit pompous and self-important. So with that, please enjoy this pompous, self-important open letter to the makers of holiday photo cards — in particular the four companies (un)fortunate enough to have me on their mailing lists.

One of my favorite and longest-running holiday traditions is designing our family’s holiday card. I first created a card for Papa and myself in 2001, and haven’t skipped a year since. With the onset of daddyhood, a requisite family photo has been incorporated into now dominates the design. However, a couple of years ago, I was forced to use <gasp!> an online photo card company. I was not a happy Designer Daddy. It’s like if Santa had to send all the presents FedEx. This was due to restrictions set by the photographer we used, yet it ended up being a relatively pleasant experience, even if I couldn’t claim it as an original DD creation.

As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two dad or two mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.

So I did a little experiment. I went back and scoured each of the catalogs I’d gotten, tallying up the families, couples and kids featured in all their glowing, photogenic glory, in order to get some concrete(ish) information. While I was at it, I also took a look at how people of color were represented.

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Tweets…

December 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

…from during the broadcast of THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE! on NBC.

Dad duties dictated I pass on an opportunity to usher (dressed as a nun, no less) at a local theater where it was being shown. From all accounts it sounded like a great time, including some impromptu sing-a-longs during sound problems. Events like this are always way more hilarious — or awful — when experienced en masse.

So I had to watch it alone at home… And yet, the world watched with me, and laid in to Carrie and company with much gusto and snark. Yes, there were plenty of positive comments about Audra McDonald, Laura Benati, the children, the ratings. But that’s not why God invented Twitter.

While most of the more scathing comments were directed at the lead’s wooden underacting, things snowballed from there as the Twitterverse barreled down the Austrian mountainside, picking up Vampire Bill, Julie Andrews, yodeling and Grumpy Cat along the way.

Without further ado, I present A Few of My Favorite Tweets…
(and yeah, the first one’s from me, after a mere one line of dialog from Maria)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So what were a few of your favorites? Leave ’em in the comments!

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For more fun and frivolity, please visit the Designer Daddy Facebook page  to make it one of your favorite things!

Retelling A Tragic Story: Couple Returns Adopted Son

November 18, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Couple Returns Adopted Son
I had seen the headlines — about a couple “returning” their adopted son after 9 years — yet had steered completely clear of reading it.

But then a friend messaged me the link to one of the articles. “Have you seen this? So awful.” was all he said. No shit. That’s why I’d been avoiding it. More sensationalist fodder to fuel the 24-hour-news-cycle hyperbole machine. Another emotional train wreck that so many somehow never grow tired of rubbernecking at.

Do you know who doesn’t stop to stare at train wrecks? People who’ve actually been in a train wreck.

As an adoptive parent, I avoided this story the same way I’d avoided the reality series The Baby Wait. This show (from the creators of Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, and Jersey Shore…yikes) followed adoptive parents during the revocation period — the time after a child is born when the birthmother can change her mind and terminate the adoption. Sure it shed some light on open adoptions (like ours is) and even featured several same-sex couples. Nonetheless, those pluses were overshadowed by the fact this was a show capitalizing on loss and rejection. Before JJ came into our lives, we had experienced such an ordeal. Why would we want to relive it in any form ever again?

So yeah, I wasn’t reading any story about adoptive parents abandoning their child. I had my own life and adopted child to worry about. And not abandon.

Then later I saw my friend had posted the article on Facebook, and realized that he had written it. With a mix of courtesy and curiosity, I gave in and read it. Here are the miserable highlights:

Cleveland and Lisa Cox adopted their son when he was three months old. Now he’s 9 years old, displaying some aggressive behavior, and is reported to have threatened other family members with a knife. The Cox’s took their son to their local Ohio children services, leaving the state to deal with him. A judge is considering charging the parents with reckless abandonment, for which they could face 6 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. The parents apparently were frustrated that the boy would not agree to get help for his behavioral issues. The couple took their 2 other children and left the area for a couple of days, then turned themselves in on Friday. The Cox’s will appear in Juvenile Court November 27 to address their request to terminate parental rights.

I’m sure there are details the public isn’t privy to. And I’m not here to pile on more judgement and vitriol (although the temptation is very strong).

So why write about it? Because by all appearances, these two were not meant to be this boy’s parents, and are — by their own admission — unfit to be so. But more importantly, now there’s a 9 year-old boy with likely behavioral problems, stuck in the foster care system. Those are not the kinds of kids that get adopted (again) quickly. Or oftentimes, at all.

My hope is that the more this story gets out — sad, dramatic details and all — the more quickly this boy will find his true and permanent home. Whether it’s a new family with the patience and strength to love and support him unconditionally; or by some miracle, the Cox’s, repentant and willing to do everything it takes to get help for themselves and their son.

As with the vast majority of any honest parents, my child has made me want to yank out my (remaining) hair many times, but I’ve never even pondered “giving him back.” What does that even mean? I don’t sit around thinking about him being adopted, even when I’m angry and frustrated and at my wit’s end. I know JJ is right where he belongs. We’re far from a perfect family, yet he’s mine & Papa’s and we’re his — a forever family. My son has brought so much life to my life, and I could never imagine returning to a time without him.

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P.S. If you don’t already “Like” Designer Daddy’s Facebook Page, but you like the blog, please come by for a visit for additional content, photos and conversation.

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Chuck the Chunk: Keep On Chuckin’

October 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Other titles considered for this post, “Slow and Steady is Boring and Slow,” “Two Steps Forward, Three Steps to the Couch,” and “I’m So Lame.”

Yes, I’m still doing this. (This being Chuck the Chunk.) To make a long sob story short, I got as low as 278, then got sick, then got crazy busy with work, then went to a conference, then got even crazier busier. Blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse. And I’m admittedly a little bummed (okay, a lot) that no sponsors have stepped up to give our ragtag band of dad bloggers a shiny prize to strive for.

Luckily I’ve not fallen completely off the wagon. I’ve yo-yo’ed between 278-284 for the past month or so, depending on how stressed I was or what time of day I weighed myself. Eating right has been relatively steady, but exercise has taken a vacation. This morning I was at 282, so that’s what I’m sticking with for the sake of this post and to get it down in writing. And to move forward.

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I don’t have anything insightful or motivational to share. Other than I’m still fat and I still need help. I am encouraged by the progress I’ve made, but know winter is my hardest time to stay active and not wallow in comfort food. So I’m always ALWAYS open to cheerleading, success stories, ass-kickings and the like.

A big shout out to my little brother Bryan for texting me a while back to see if I was still doing “that Chunk thing.”

So I will keep on Chuckin’. And I promise to check back in sooner next time.

chunkSM

Chuck the Chunk: My Love Affair with Two Men from Vermont

September 1, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED
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I will not be wearing this shirt for weigh-in photos again.

So here we are at the one-month mark of Chuck the Chunk — and I’m proud to say I’ve lost nine pounds! I’ve shed more weight in less time in the past, but I’m really trying my darndest to apply a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race technique. Drastic measures yield more dramatic results, but they rarely ever stick.

Speaking of slow and steady, I recently had a follow-up visit at a weight loss program I participated in a few years ago. While I’m certainly not near where I’d like to be, the doctor looked back on my records and informed me that it was exactly five years from when I first participated in the program, and I’d been able to keep more than half the weight off that I’d lost. He said that put me in the smallest percentile of weight-loss retention, higher even than most people who’d had bariatric surgery (e.g., gastric bypass, lap-band). So yay me!

But I had my share of bad days…days when I wanted to go back to my longstanding, self-abusing love affair with two men named Ben and Jerry.

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Last Wednesday was particularly rough, with compounded stresses both work- and JJ-related. I was so tempted to “treat” myself to some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie FroYo. But in a moment of resolve, I told Papa that under no circumstances was he to let me get any. I then hopped online and joined a group of dads on Twitter chatting about healthy eating. It was a great way to vent about my frustrations and share my successes. The day ended, and I didn’t indulge. If I want to treat myself, that’s fine — but I too often fall into using B&J (and other food) to cheer myself up or reward myself.

It’s going to be a long, slow breakup, and I hope we can one day still be friends. But for now I have to be strong. As a famous reality show host once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love somebody else?”

Can I get an AMEN up in here? See you in two weeks.

chunkSM

 

Fridge Wisdom: Wot Wot’s In A Royal Baby Name?

July 23, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Here we are, back at the fridge…

Apparently the American media is the biggest fan on the flames of Brit Babymania. And it reached its crazy crest when said tot popped from the Royal Birthing Womb. Everyone and their British Bulldog is commenting, tweeting and blogging about this silliness, so I thought I’d throw my bowler into the three rings.

To whit, a few suggestions for Prince Newborn’s Royal Baby Name, inspired by British literature and a spot of pop culture from both sides of the pond. (A blood pudding to whomever gets all the references)…

lord-flaunt

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