Think E.T. meets Transformers with a little Goonies thrown in for good measure, and you’ve got EARTH TO ECHO — a great way to keep cool and entertain the whole family this summer!
“Are you guys brothers?”
“So which one of you does he belong to?”
“Which one of you breast feeds?”
“Can I get a mom?“
Those are just a few of the questions I’ve heard since becoming a father four and-a-half years ago — as asked by my nephew, a cashier, multiple friends, and my son, respectively. As the title of this post states, there truly are no scripts when it comes to parenting. And being a gay father of an adopted son poses even more unique challenges.
A relatively minor — but no less annoying — challenge is finding a Father’s Day card for my husband. Like many gay fathers, we go by “Daddy” and “Papa.” Finding a Father’s Day card that says “Daddy” is no problem (so yeah, he’s got it easy). And while there are usually a few cards that are addressed to “Papa,” more often than not they are either geared more to Grandpa or are entirely in Spanish.
When I was tapped by Cardstore to be part of their Father’s Day #WorldsToughestJob campaign, one of the perks was getting to design my own card. The recommendation was to create one for Grandpa/my Dad, but I thought it would be more fun (and challenging) to make one for Papa. I was pleasantly surprised to find several selections that fit the bill, but one in particular caught my critical designer’s eye…
I love me some doodles! And this one was not only super cute, but also allowed me to customize the name on the front. So I popped in a “PAPA” (I got to choose from a ton of fonts, colors, sizes, etc.) and my cover was done!
While much progress has been made in erasing the stereotype of clueless, styleless, one-dimensional dads, the old tropes seem to come back in full force each Father’s Day… Tie. Recliner. Grill. Power Tools. Yawn.
Designer Daddy is here to help you shop for the men in your life (or yourself) this Father’s Day, with something for each facet of the engaged, enlightened, well-rounded dad.
Also, YOU CAN WIN THIS ENTIRE LIST OF STUFF! Just enter the contest widget thingie at the bottom of the post (where it says “ENTER TO WIN,”) and on June 15th I’ll announce the lucky winner of…
The Designer Daddy Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway
for the Well-Rounded Dad
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THE EYES HAVE IT: Whether you’re surfing in Maui, biking cross-country or tooling around in a minivan full of munchkins, nothing says you’ve got it under control (or hides the fact that you don’t) like a good pair of shades. Hobie, long known for their surf wear, also has an extensive line of seriously slick sunglasses. Check me out sporting 3 different pair — which is your favorite? I know they all make me look fly, so how could you possibly choose? Available on Hobie’s web site or at Sports Authority. $70-$190
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: 1 pair of Hobie Polarized sunglasses, any style (winner to choose from web site or catalog).
A couple of days ago my youngest brother (B4*) became a dad. About a week before the due date, we met for lunch and I gave him this:
Yup, a diaper bag. I’m THAT awesome of a big brother.
But it wasn’t just any old bag, but a JJ Cole** diaper bag, which — until I handed it to him and told him what it was — my brother thought was my laptop bag. Mission accomplished JJ Cole, on making a diaper bag even a heterosexual/DC attorney/new dad would carry!
In addition to the awesome gift-giving, great BBQ and quality time with my baby bro, the significance of this gift was, well… pretty significant. Because his was the first diaper I ever changed.
I’m the oldest of four brothers and he’s the youngest, eleven years my junior. So I indeed had the privilege of cleaning his poopy baby butt. And as he sometimes wore cloth diapers, he got stabbed with a diaper pin at least once several times. But that wasn’t the worst (or last) bit of pain or hardship inflicted upon him by an elder sibling.
So to make up for a lifetime of torture, I’m giving B4 some unsolicited parenting advice, inspired by the tribulations he endured as the runt of the family. To clarify, these are based on real events, just not all initiated by me. I’m not saying which of his three older brothers did which deed, but mine were of the sneakier, less violent variety.
READ FULL ARTICLE >>
I still remember the first time I got flowers. It was my first serious relationship, and they were delivered to the graphic design studio where I was working—my first job in DC. It was an open air setup (with glass walls, cubicles and such) so everyone could see when they arrived. It was Valentine’s Day, and my boyfriend had sent me a huge arrangement in a vase, which sat on the shelf in my cube for about a week, attracting non-stop Oohs and Awws from my female co-workers and comments like “You must have really put out” from the men. I was a wee bit embarrassed for being on the spot, but mostly loved the attention, and especially the thoughtfulness of my guy.
Just after this past Valentine’s Day, I asked a bunch of guys if they’d ever received flowers—if they liked it or not, if it made them feel embarrassed or emasculated, etc. Here are some of my favorite answers—which of course all support my philosophy that Real Men Stop and Smell the Roses.
“Good flowers, the ones that live longer than a mayfly, are great to give and greater to get. The closest thing I have to a spouse right now is John, who sent me a vaseful when I was in the hospital last fall. It was perfect.”
Doug, former WWE wrestler, stunt double for John Cena*
A couple of months ago we took JJ to his first live theater experience, and something odd happened. A friend who works at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in DC suggested we check out a kids’ holiday show being produced by Arts on the Horizon, part of Atlas’ Theatre for the Very Young season. While JJ had gotten through his first full movie theater showing, we’d yet to expose him to any live theater. The Washington area has a wealth of options for kid-friendly programming, we just weren’t sure our little ball of energy was ready for them. Or they for him.
But the show was called Drumming With Dishes: Holiday Edition, so it sounded like it would be nice and loud and chaotic. Great to mask the likely din created by a crowd of rowdy preschoolers, but requiring earplugs and Advil for us weary parents.
The day arrived, JJ seemingly excited for this new adventure. Our drive was a good 40 minutes. We parked across the street from the theater and JJ and I went on ahead while Papa paid for parking. Yet as we started to cross, my usually outgoing son started stalling. He said he didn’t want to go, that he in fact wanted to go home. What-the-huh?
We stopped on the sidewalk a block away and I asked why. “I just not want to go!” was his pouty reply. I tried walking with him a few more steps and his fear and resistance only increased. I’m not sure if he was scared of the unknown experience or unfamiliar neighborhood, or if the planets were misaligned just so. Whatever the cause, I was determined to find a way to make this happen.
Papa caught up and I explained the situation. He and JJ stayed outside while I went in to scope things out. I made my way through the lobby, weaving through groups of kids, parents, babies and grandparents. As I picked up our tickets, I overheard an employee say they’d be leading everyone to a play area before the show began. Good thinking — they’d done this before.
I went back out and the three of us forged back in. As we got inside the door, I explained we were going to a playroom. No response. As we walked down the hall, following a herd of other families, we stopped so he could bang on a timpani drum. Meh. As we got near to the playroom, I saw a door open to where our performance would be. I asked the attendant if we could peek inside. We took a quick look into the black box theater, but I could tell my little ‘fraidy tot wasn’t interested.
The playroom was a neighboring black box, with rows of seats against the back wall and a collection of toys and baskets of books in a corner. We sat down in the front row of chairs, I got some books for JJ, then went to the bathroom. When I returned, Papa and JJ were on the back row of chairs, looking through a book, while all of the other kids ran around. This was going to be interesting, I thought.
For one reason or another, this post kept getting pushed back further and further down my “to do” list. JJ transitioned from Room v1.0 (crib) to 2.0 (big boy bed) well over a year ago, but as with most things these days, once a milestone is reached, it fades quickly into the distance as he races onto the next.
But lately it feels like he’s trying to outrun his cuddliness phase even faster than usual. I look around his room (and the rest of the house) and see signs of his little body and little mind bursting at the seams — puzzles scattered over every spare inch of floor, several pairs of shoes and stacks of shirts ready for the basement as they no longer fit, a dusty booster seat we only use for “motivation” when he can’t sit still for a meal.
So before he starts redecorating his room on his own (either with robot stickers or a framed high school diploma) I thought I’d document JJ’s Room v2.0.
Pre-transition: I snapped this photo of his last night in the crib. Clearly he’d outgrown it — and this doesn’t even show the oft-seen image of one of JJ’s feet shoved calf-deep through the bars.
Still, I was going to miss this little cage of cuteness as it represented not just a great way to contain protect him, but also a big step away from babydom.
I’ve been saving these photos fer a very special day, mateys… In case you don’t have the internet (and I’m hoping you do, so’s you can read this here post) today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day!
Here’s the whole fam, in full-ish pirate regalia.
A wee bit ago, I got my all-time oddest product review request. It was for UBBAS bath toys, which are essentially rubber cups — somewhat people-shaped — that can hold hands, hug, and pee. They come in four varieties: Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister. Did I mention the peeing part? Because Papa and Brother UBBA pee straight out, while Mama and Sister UBBA pee straight down.
Yup, a gay toy that pees. I told you it was odd.
I OF COURSE SAID YES. Who better to review a cleverly-designed toy for kids with gay parents?
UBBAS Bath Cups were created by designer Rob Spalding as a tool that offers a fun, loving representation of family for kids of same-sex parents. Each is sold separately, so I got 2 Papas and 1 Brother, natch. It’s also meant to open dialog with your kids about their bodies. You know, because of the peeing.
Now I’ve been griping since before JJ was born about the lack of books, toys, shows, etc. that portray kids with same-sex parents. It’s a large part of what motivates me to blog or do any of the advocacy I do – to make sure JJ sees other examples of families like his, so that he’s confident and well-equipped to answer questions or deal with conflicts he might face because of his unique family makeup. But I’ll admit to being a little weirded out by this toy. I’m a fairly liberal guy, but the thought of mixing same-sex parents, bath time and peeing just sounded skeevy. Not to mention a tough sell to mainstream America.
If I had to list two things I HAVE to have to get me through the day, they would be the internet and caffeine. Between being the dad of a toddler and running my own business from home, I am at high risk for being isolated and/or completely worn out. Usually simultaneously.
On the internet (as you’ve seen me mention here before) I’ve found a great community of fellow dads to combat my isolation. Some of them are also bloggers. Some are also gay dads. A rare and fabulous few are fellow GDBs* — gay dad bloggers. Many of these fellows hang out at Life of Dad, a great site for meeting and interacting with other involved/informed fathers. And these guys also like to have fun. And give stuff away. Remember the Cheetos masterpiece I created? That was for them.
So now Life of Dad is hosting a very cool contest promoting Starbucks VIA. Click on over to read all the deets on how to win Starbucks cards! And not some mamby-pamby $5 stocking stuffer. We’re talking $500, $200 & $100 of caffeinated awesomeness for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.
The main thing you have to do is create a video on Vine or Instagram showing your own daddiefied Starbucks VIA Moment. Take a look at my mini masterpiece I call “Afternoon Cup.”
(P.S. Full disclosure, I’m not much of a coffee drinker — but I’m at Starbucks regular as clockwork to pick up my daily Venti black iced tea. So I’m hoping tea is next on Starbucks’ list of VIA products. But I HAVE tried a few of their Refreshers, and the Strawberry Lemonade and Very Berry Hibiscus both lived up to their name — refreshing as all get out! So what am I gonna do with all the VIA coffee I used in my video? Well, Papa is a coffee fiend so will be enjoying these on his drive to work. Plus stocking stuffers!)
*As far as I know, I just now coined this acronym. I think I’ll make a t-shirt.
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[Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free, as well as monetary compensation for creating my video and promoting it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are mine and/or JJ’s.]