Who's Going to be 'Dad'?
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WHO’S GOING TO BE “DAD”? - November 26th, 2018 - STAND MAGAZINE - Full article available at https://www.stand-magazine.com/whos-going-to-be-dad/

One thing that David and I hadn’t discussed even though we talked about having children starting on our first date was, what would our children call us? One night, we were watching a documentary about a two-dad family and one of the gentleman said he was Daddy-Papa. We heard that, looked at each other, looked back at the television, looked back at each other, and both exclaimed simultaneously, “I’m gonna be dad!”

“No, I’m going to be dad!”

“What?! I want to be dad,” David said.  “I’ve always pictured myself being dad.”

I responded, “Well, that’s what I called my father and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”  I never liked pop and father is way too formal, and nothing else felt right. So, it seemed at the moment that we had a dilemma.

We now started researching it informally, asking other gay men, mostly without children, what they thought children should call each of their two dads. They pretty much suggested what we had already thought of, one could be pop, one could be dad, one could be father.  Some of our Latino friends suggested that one could be papi and one could be dad. Although I like papi as compared to pop, being that we weren’t Latino, I thought it would seem a little bit odd. So we kept checking. Still the same thing – suggestions were: dad, father, pop, pop, father, dad, not very many daddy papas, but also no clear solution.

Then we made friends with another two-dad family where one of them was dad, and one was daddy. Our immediate reaction was, “Isn’t that confusing. You both have the same name.” Then being schooled by them, they explained, no dad is actually a one-syllable word, and daddy is a two-syllable word, just like if you meet two men named Tom and Tommy, you can distinguish between the two, right?

Hmmm … They had a point, but it still felt like it was pretty much the same name and we weren’t really satisfied. I think because ultimately, we still both wanted to be, well, both, right? Aren’t dad and daddy the same thing? Doesn’t every dad and every daddy get to swap those two names if they want?  So, if we agree to this then we would never be able to use the other derivatives of dad or daddy or just both names really? So, we just kept tabling the conversation.

Fast forward to Kekoa being born and us really not knowing who’s going to be what. I started trying to execute my plan for myself and began referring to myself as dad when talking. Then I would catch David doing the same, referring to himself as Kekoa’s dad. So, Kekoa was just hearing dad quite a bit at home.  At the same time, everyone at daycare referred to male parents as daddy. So, he was also hearing daddy all the time there. They had no idea about the long conversations we’d been having for the last couple of years. So, we were both daddy at school, and both dad at home.

When Kekoa was about 1 ½ years-old he was hearing dad all the time and daddy all the time and it could be either one of us that’s being referred to. So, the poor kid had no idea what we were and how to distinguish us by name.  I’m sure he was pretty confused. Suddenly, he was speaking and he would say, “Dad”, and, like all parents, we were ecstatic that he was starting to speak and in particular referred to us by name. It was wonderful! We were dad, or daddy, and it didn’t really matter that it was us, not me, not him, but us. Paul knew we were his dads and we were happy. A couple of months go by, and we suddenly realized Paul wasn’t calling us both dad, or us both daddy.  He had made a distinction. He was mostly calling David “Daddy”, and he was mostly calling me “Dad” or “Dada”. After all this debate, discussions, and informal polling of how we would name ourselves as Kekoa’s parents, the decision ultimately didn’t fall to us. Rather, our little boy named us. And we thought it was pretty cool.

……..

David and Danny are fathers and founders of Kekoa Foods, baby food for brave babies and bold parents. Their unique recipes filled with medicinal herbs, roots, and spices help babies achieve more adventurous palates, improved digestion, and better nutrition.

Their company, currently selling pouches on Kickstarter, helps inspire conversations around inclusive parenting. Because parenting is hard enough. Why make it harder?

We'd Fly Across the World for Our Baby Boy

As two gay dads prepare to take on a new adventure–launching a baby food business–they reflect on the path that got them there.

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GWK (Gays with Kids) Staff - Nov. 14, 2018 - Full article at https://www.gayswithkids.com/gay-dads-launch-baby-food-business-2618950794.html

As we prepare to launch our next life adventure – a baby food business – we've been taking time to reflect on our journey. From softball in Chelsea, to flying 5,000 miles for the birth of our son, to turning our passion for childhood nutrition into a company, it's been nothing short of an epic fairytale.

How We Met

The two of us met playing softball on the NYC LGBTQ league 15 years ago. During tryouts (or is it auditions?) in Chelsea, David literally hit the ball out of the park -- to his surprise and everyone else's awe. Then he did what he always does when attention turns towards him, he did a high kick extending his right foot passed his head and dropped into a split across home plate. Danny, who was a manager in need of players, was more impressed by David's playfulness than his home run. He wanted David on his team.

After the season ended, we finally took our first official date. Like any normal first date, the conversation slowly turned to…children? David rattled off not only the gender of his three future children, but also their names. When Danny challenged the names and argued that he should have a say in the names since they would be his children too, David shared that one son had to be named after his brother who died of leukemia before David was born. Danny compassionately accepted, but only after ensuring they would choose the other two kids' names together! Danny would later argue that he had never promised they would have three, but rather two, children and David would always refer to "our first date" when we emphatically agreed to three kids. So, with just a few hours into a first date, we had skipped dating, a wedding, shopping for a home, and just planned our whole family!

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Fatherhood

When we began our journey to fatherhood, we researched the process, attended meetings and conferences organized by NYC's Men Having Babies and ultimately decided that gestational surrogacy was the best option for us. Without much convincing, our long-time friend offered to carry for us, which was wonderful news. Except she lived in Honolulu, HI. We lived about as far away from Hawaii as possible in New Jersey. But 5,000 miles can't stop fatherhood!

During the pregnancy, the new adventure took on a whole new meaning. Our friends and family met our excitement and threw us an overwhelmingly lovely baby shower. Their support and enthusiasm meant the world to us. After the last guests had left, we sat together hand-in-hand relaxing in front of the firepit in our suburban backyard. Now, we're prompt party cleaners, but this night we just sat still. We discussed our babymoon to Germany only a few days away before heading to Hawaii, well in advance of our child's due date, completely uninformed and unaware of how much life was about to change. Then, unexpectedly, the phone rang. It was our surrogate on the other line. "Hey Gurl!" we answered by pressing the speaker phone button, only she didn't respond. It was a doctor from Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu. "Hello, this is Dr.(incoherent), D wanted me to call you. She has preeclampsia, the baby is coming now. Come now."

Our mouths dropped. For several seconds, we. were. silent. "What did they say? Are they coming? Are they okay?" D said in the background.

"Hello, are you coming now?" The doctor said.

"Huh? What? What are you talking about?" Danny fumbled out.

"The baby! … is coming." The Dr. replied.

"How soon?" Danny asked. "Like, this week?"

"Now-wah." The doctor slowly enunciated. "She needs to deliver now to protect her and the baby. We are inducing. She must deliver now." In the background, we could hear D asking questions, "What did they say? Are they upset? Are they coming?"

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"We live in NJ." David blurted out.

"Then you need to get on a plane," the brilliant Dr. responded.

Then David jumped into action. "We got it. Can we talk to D?" he asked.

The doctor put D on the phone. "We will be there. We will be there." David reiterated as Danny froze.

D sighed. "Oh, thank you. Hurry. I'm sorry. Please hurry," she said with an air of desperation, and slight relief knowing we were going to do what we could to get there.

"We will be there," David reiterated and after saying goodbye, the call ended. We sat there staring out, not at the fire, not at anything, just staring, sitting, not moving, or even breathing.

David broke the silence. "We've got to clean the house!" While we cleaned the backyard, the house and put things away, David jumped on the phone with United Customer Service. Danny tried to keep cleaning, but mostly paced back and forth. Thankfully, we were able to catch a connecting flight to San Francisco and Honolulu and in 22 hours from the call we landed all before the baby was born!!


5,000 Miles to See Our Son

During the travel to Honolulu, we kept checking in with D, and she was updating the nurses. When they heard our story and saw how desperately D wanted us there for the birth, there for her, there for the unborn baby in her womb, not her baby as she had to keep explaining to the doctors, but our baby, the baby of these two men desperately racing across the country to witness and support this birth, they, the nurses not the doctors, reduced her Pitocin. When the nurses heard that we were leaving San Francisco, they monitored D and her Pitocin. Once we landed in Honolulu they increased it to move her closer to labor.

When we rushed to meet D at hospital she surged with confidence. She knew she could do it. So did we. As the Pitocin increased so did the contractions. D was amazing. She was emphatic that she would deliver without drugs and made us promise to support her -- even if she said otherwise when the contractions hit. We, her doula, and her nurses, witnessed her amazing strength and whispered small affirmations, like drops of an IV. As the contractions increased, the doctors began prepping for delivery. Members from the delivery unit, from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit) unit, and the AICU (Adult Intensive Care Unit) all descended on the room and doubly so because it was shift change! Nearly a dozen people were in the room discussing D and our baby. It was pretty overwhelming especially because D kept shouting, "The baby is coming! Baby's coming! I can't hold it anymore! I have to PUSHHHHHH! With each of us holding one of her hands, and the OB/GYN and nurse scrambling to get to her, D pushed our baby out! As Baby slid across the table, we watched in slow motion as the doctor struggled with a grip, nearly dropping baby. Baby was long, lean, and despite the cold and shaking hands, its arms stretched open. David snuck the first peek… a boy. David turned to Danny and our surrogate, "A boy! We have a boy! And," he paused. "He came into the world with Jazz Hands!!" he exclaimed as tears formed in his eyes.

Feeding a Preemie

The next several days were extremely intense, followed by weeks that were slightly less, but still, intense. We were learning how to care for a child, but not just any child, a preemie, who needed all the nourishment, rest and love he could get. We were up for the challenge!

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Given his fragile condition, we turned into nutritional gurus. We learned everything we could about early childhood nutrition. We were particular about everything he consumed. And believe us, it's no easy thing to determine which strategies and foods are the best for your kids. The glut of information, particularly conflicting information, especially for two dads, was frustrating.

When we learned that today's younger generations will be the first generations to live shorter than their elders because of health – namely, nutrition – we knew we had to do something different.

But as food lovers, we savored the research. We relished steaming and stewing and pureeing. We delighted sharing in this nutritional journey with our son. A new family pastime, you could say.

When other parents ask us how we nourished our son – and why he's such an adventurous eater – we reply with a few key principles:

Savory over Salty or Sugary – We hoped he would appreciate savory foods because we knew if he did, he wouldn't prefer the high-salt, high-sugar empty calories that are decreasing the health of these young generations.

Scratch = Control – After turning to the ingredients list on every baby food in the store, David realized he needed to make all of our son's food from scratch to control the sugar, salt and unidentifiable content.

Variety = Adventure – David's research led him to borrow ideas from scientific research and traditions around the world. He used herbs like tarragon, spices like cardamom, and unique root vegetables like burdock root, ginger, and turmeric.

Not only did these herbs, roots, and spices come with amazing nutritional qualities, but they expanded our son's palate. The research shows that taste preferences are formed early on.

As fathers of a fast-growing preemie, we felt like food was one of the things we could control for our son. Who knows what the world will be like when he graduates high school, but at least we know we gave him an appreciation for unique flavors. And maybe, just maybe, the antioxidants, brain-healthy fats, and gut-supportive foods will give him the resilience to make his way in the future.

The Newest Adventure - Kekoa Foods

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Our son is 5, and mealtime is still a keystone for our family. Once we realized how food shaped our fatherhood, and the health of our son, we wanted to help other parents transform how children eat. So, we've spent the last three years dialing in recipes, testing, and meeting with parents. The culmination of all that hard work is our new company, Kekoa Foods, which means "Brave Warrior" in Hawaiian, our son's middle name.

David and Danny are father and founders. Their company, Kekoa Foods, is pre-selling their bold new baby foods on Kickstarter. Backers without kids can have their rewards sent family, friends, or the Newark YMCA, which is home to over 320 families, 80 of whom are infants and would greatly benefit from healthy nutritious options like Kekoa pouches.

Learn more here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kekoafoods/kekoa-foods-herbs-roots-and-spices-in-baby-food

Even if you don't want to pre-order products, please follow their journey at www.kekoafoods.com on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kekoafoods) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kekoafoods).

In the Garden: Ginger

Expand your child’s taste buds, fight off viruses, inflammation, and unhappy tummies!

Kekoa Foods co-founder David shares his passion for all things horticultural, healing and healthy. Here he discusses some ginger he's been growing in his backyard in the northeastern US. Ginger features prominently in our product, Apples with Ginger. Read about the healing benefits of Ginger on our website at https://www.kekoafoods.com/herbs-spices/ginger-root Help us change the ways babies eat!

Tales from Two-Dad Parenting
 
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Nice to Give Mom a Break

David and I brought my mom and our then 2 ½ year-old son to Ireland.  I think because we were with my mom and, well, people say we kind of look alike (stay tuned for another tale on that), folks didn’t think we were a married couple.

One late afternoon, in the lounge of a nice hotel, we were waiting for my cousin to meet us and drive with us to his home in Waterford for the next leg of our trip.  Two women in their early sixties sat down across from us. They were from north of Dublin and in town for the weekend for a bird-watching tour with other folks their age.  We would chat amongst ourselves and then chat as a larger group with the two of them. While we were helping our son eat his food and drink from an adult glass, we overheard the ladies talking to themselves:

Lady 1: My George NEVER would have done that for me.

Lady 2: Don’ wha?

Lady 1: Give me the afternoon off and take care of the kids!

They not only didn’t think we were a two-dad family but they were shocked that men were showing interest in caring for a child.  We were “good lads” letting the moms take time off from parenting. It’s kind of funny on some level, especially when Lady 2 saw we were wearing matching wedding bands and was trying to gently kick her friend while muffling, “D’er married to eech udder!”  But overall, it’s insulting to all dads, to all parents, who are doing their best to raise their kids and want to be involved in all aspects of parenting. No one at our table was getting a break. We were both monitoring our son. He was behaving, but he could have very easily been stir crazy trying to run around the hotel, where a wedding reception was gathering.

Something that needs to change is believing it’s the mom’s job to take care of the kids all the time and that when dads are involved they are doing moms a favor.  While it’s seemingly nice that you think dads are being charitable, it’s also condescending.

 
From Picky to Adventurous: 5 Steps for Boosting Early Childhood Nutrition
 
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Nutrition is one of the most important factors in a child’s health. About one in five children are obese in the United States, and one of the biggest culprits is empty calories and processed foods.

A lot of parents don’t know what to do. How do they get a picky eater to approach green beans? What kinds of foods should their kids be eating in the first place? How much is too much food, or too little?

The importance of early childhood nutrition

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It has been said that the health of a nation depends, in part, on early childhood nutrition. Children who don’t get the right nutrients can have permanently damaged health and futures, including predispositions to illness and disease, decreased brain function, and a lower earning potential, just to name a few.

For the first time in generations, the American life expectancy is decreasing. Many doctors and scientists are looking towards preventable causes – like nutrition and physical health – as an explanation, and a solution.

The best way to support a child’s physical and mental growth is to feed them healthy, balanced diets that include protein, vitamins, iron, healthy fats, and balanced carbohydrates. Each developing area of the brain needs different fuel to grow and create connectivity and complexity. That’s why variety is imperative!

What does a healthy diet look like?

A healthy diet for children can be summarized relatively simply:

1.    Whole foods, and

2.    Wide variety.

When we think of “kids’” foods, we imagine bland, basic things – cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and a few pieces of broccoli. We often limit a child’s ability to develop an expansive palate because we don’t think it’s possible. But that simply isn’t true!

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In Vietnam, a common breakfast for kids is Pho – a noodle soup with rich broth, vegetables, and possibly an egg on top. In Tokyo, and child might eat soybeans, miso soup, grilled salmon, and pickled cucumbers for breakfast. Children in India dig into curries full of aromatic spices and herbs.

The possibilities are only limited by what you feed them!

We create picky eaters

Food preferences are almost always learned behaviors. We learn what to eat based on what’s modeled for us and what’s normalized in our households.

It’s common for children to dislike a new food. Evolutionarily, humans had to be cautious of new things until they knew something was safe to consume. Just because a child rejects something upon first try doesn’t mean they’re only going to enjoy a diet of white bread.

Varied palates are trained, and it starts young. Through repeated exposure and a normalized culture in home, you can boost your child’s nutrition while also preparing them to be adventurous eaters for the rest of their lives. Not to mention giving them their best chance at health and happiness in the process!

5 tips for boosting nutrition

1. Get your child involved

Take your child shopping and let them select the fruits and vegetables. Have them help you wash the vegetables. Share what you’re doing as you cook, and “deconstruct” the meal together. What goes in it? How do you know how much to add?

Children are naturally curious, and they love routine. If you invite them into the routine of cooking and invite them into the process, they’ll be more likely to engage with new, healthy foods rather than reject them on sight.

2. Don’t insult your food

Part of increasing the variety of foods your child eats involves changing the culture in your home. This includes a changed mentality. If your child doesn’t like a food and they insult it, it perpetuates the mindset that some foods are “yummy” and others are “gross.”

Instead, encourage your child to take small bites of something new. Celebrate their willingness to “taste test.” Don’t call them “picky” but “adventurous,” and find different ways they can describe a food they don’t like instead of calling it “gross.”

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3. Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Besides the fact that sugar inherently tastes good to our palates, if we learn emotional associates with “treats” and “rewards,” we’re more likely to want them and less likely to desire nutritious foods. Don’t make dessert a reward for eating vegetables. It’s harder for your child to have a positive relationship with vegetables, because they merely become a means to an end.

Similarly, it’s tempting to express affection through treats. This also creates an associate between our love and sugar. Instead, use praise, attention, or special experiences to express your abundant love. Leave food out of it – we have enough obstacles to overcome as it is!

4. Find creative ways to incorporate vegetables

Even most adults don’t want to eat plain pieces of broccoli, and there are so many more interesting ways to consume vegetables. Add them to sauces, creamy curries, soups, with grains, and more. Shredding them is a great way to add vegetables to meatloaf or other baked items.

Enhance the flavor of your vegetables by adding spices or herbs, or incorporating them into meals rather than consuming them alone. The more interesting the vegetable, the more likely they’ll appeal to your little one.

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5. Start them young!

The sooner your child’s palate can explore a wide range of flavors, the better! Pregnancy is also a great place to start – when your child is born, they’re more familiar with foods their mother consumed.

Remember, a great way to boost your child’s nutrition is to feed them healthy, varied foods. And the best way to get them to eat it is to raise adventurous, bold eaters!

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
Every Parent Deserves Love – Celebrating Parental Diversity
 

It’s no small thing to become a parent!

The sudden responsibility of not only keeping your little one alive, but ensuring they have the healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled life possible can seem daunting. Throw in a whirlwind of sleepless nights, tears and tantrums, and comparison to other parents, and it’s easy to feel like you’re failing before you even start.

While the world seems all too eager to tell you the. one. right. way. to parent, the truth is the world is changing. Parents now come in all shapes and sizes and genders and couplings (and non-couplings!).

In the U.S. there are over 547,000 married same-sex couples and between 2 million and 3.7 million children with an LGBTQ parent, and approximately 200,000 of them are being raised by a same-sex couple.

It’s time to celebrate inclusive parenting – and stop feeling guilty when traditional parenting advice doesn’t work for you.


Parenting styles

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to be a good parent. From sleep schedules to disciplining to disposable vs. cloth diapers, everyone has an opinion.

Because there are so many variations it’s easy for people to get defensive about their parenting decisions. Often, it’s their way of feeling secure in the choices they made.

As researcher and popular author and speaker Brené Brown said, there’s no one way to be a good parent. In fact, there are a million ways… and none of them involve shaming other parents.

One of the secret keys to being a good parent might just be supporting other parents.

Diverse parenting

Like children, families come in all shapes and sizes. There are two dad families, two mom families, single-parent families, children raised by grandparents, foster families, one dad and an aunt… the combinations are abundant, just like parenting styles.

In a culture that likes to hold measuring sticks to various aspects of our lives, it’s time we dropped the metrics and simply supported one another. After all, the energy we put towards criticizing diverse parenting styles and choices means that we have less energy to love our children and ourselves. Judging and shaming only takeaway from being the best parents we can be.

The example you set

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If you still struggle with showing your fellow parents some love, keep this in mind: the behavior you demonstrate for your child teaches them more than what you say. The best way you can teach your child to be accepting and loving of other’s isn’t telling them – it’s showing them.

Every parent wants their child to feel loved. In turn, every parent deserves love, too. The days can feel long, the years short, and the mood swings erratic, but most parents would agree: this journey is the best one yet.

Let’s embrace one another with understanding and empathy in our hearts. Everyone is truly doing the best they can, and it’s a huge weight off when we stop judging others and start loving them instead.

The role of “parenting” can feel challenging, and we all need as much support as we can get.

That, and a weekend getaway.

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
Your Child’s Brain Health and the First 1,000 Days
 

Can you relate to the dreaded battle at mealtime?: Child vs. Adult.

In this corner, weighing in at 30 pounds, hailing from the womb, Child! (crowd goes wild)

In that corner, weighing in at undisclosed, hailing from The Wrong Side of the Bed, Adult! (crowd murmurs and smiles placatingly)

OK, maybe it’s not a full on boxing match.

But broccoli is flying instead of fists.

As much as you might want to give in and avoid the impending tantrum or mess (that you will have to clean), it’s critical you persist in encouraging your child to eat healthy foods.

Science shows that their life going forward depends on it.

Nutrition and the first 1,000 days

The first 1,000 days of your child’s life – from conception to about two years old – has a profound impact on their growth, development, health, and their ability to learn and thrive into adulthood.

It sounds like a stretch, but there’s a lot of research backing up this critical period in your child’s development, and nutrition is the single greatest influence.

When a child receives good nutrition, they have a stronger immune system and are less likely to contract diseases, perform better in school, have stronger emotional health, optimize their capacity to learn, and even have a higher earning potential.

Who wouldn’t want that for their little one?

What is “good nutrition”?

The reason nutrition is so impactful is because of food’s influence on brain development. During the first 1,000 days, the brain is creating new cells, establishing connections, and rapidly increasing in complexity.

Each brain region requires a different nutritional cocktail, and those needs change over time, but some of the basics remain the same: protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B.

To achieve these nutritional building blocks, children need varied diets of whole foods, including those sometimes-dreaded vegetables.

The challenges of malnutrition

“Malnutrition” is often thought of as a lack of food, but it can also mean an unbalanced diet. “Under-nutrition” and “over-nutrition” are two common problems that face children in households without properly balanced meals, and both lead to reduced brain development.

When a child consumes cheap, more filling foods on a regular basis, the damage can be irreversible, including a predisposition to infection, disease, and obesity.

The statistics are real. In a study of children under three, children in food-insecure households (families without consistent access to healthy foods) were 90% more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to good or great, 31% more likely to spend time in the hospital, and 76% more likely to have problems with language, cognitive, and behavioral development.

It doesn’t have to be daunting

As a new parent, it can seem overwhelming to add “nutrition” to an already-full list of things to do. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be enjoyable.

Consider your food exploration a new adventure within your family. From easy recipes to new baby foods on the market that emphasize a balanced diet for your little one, see what you can uncover. Challenge your little one to try new foods and spices they may never have sampled.

And, if you have the opportunity, get them started young! As a family, you can rewrite the story of your nutrition, making health a given in your household.

In the process, you will be ensuring your child has the best opportunity at the future you hope they’ll have. And it all starts with those vegetables going from their plates to their mouths.

For tips on early childhood nutrition, see our article: From Pick to Adventurous: 5 Steps for Boosting Early Childhood Nutrition

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
"No, I'm Dad!"
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One thing that David and I hadn’t discussed even though we talked about having children starting on our first date was, what would our children call us? One night, we were watching a documentary about a two-dad family and one of the gentleman said he was Daddy-Papa. We heard that, looked at each other, looked back at the television, looked back at each other, and both exclaimed simultaneously, “I’m gonna be dad!”

“No, I’m going to be dad!”

“What?! I want to be dad.” David said.  “I’ve always pictured myself being dad.”

I responded, “Well, that’s what I called my father and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”  I never liked pop and father is way too formal, and nothing else felt right. So, it seemed at the moment that we had a dilemma.

We now started researching it informally, asking other gay men, mostly without children, what they thought children should call each of their two dads. They pretty much suggested what we had already thought of, one could be pop, one could be dad, one could be father.  Some of our Latino friends suggested that one could be papi and one could be dad. Although I like papi as compared to pop, being that we weren’t Latino, I thought it would seem a little bit odd. So we kept checking. Still the same thing – suggestions were: dad, father, pop, pop, father, dad, not very many daddy papas, but also no clear solution.

Then we made friends with another two-dad family where one of them was dad, and one was daddy. Our immediate reaction was, “Isn’t that confusing. You both have the same name.” Then being schooled by them, they explained, no dad is actually a one-syllable word, and daddy is a two-syllable word, just like if you meet two men named Tom and Tommy, you can distinguish between the two, right?

Hmmm.  They had a point, but it still felt like it was pretty much the same name and we weren’t really satisfied. I think because ultimately, we still both wanted to be, well, both, right? Aren’t dad and daddy the same thing? Doesn’t every dad and every daddy get to swap those two names if they want?  So, if we agree to this then we would never be able to use the other derivatives of dad or daddy or just both names really? So, we just kept tabling the conversation.

Fast forward to Kekoa being born and us really not knowing who’s going to be what. I started trying to execute my plan for myself and began referring to myself as dad when talking. Then I would catch David doing the same, referring to himself as Kekoa’s dad. So, Kekoa was just hearing dad quite a bit at home.  At the same time, everyone at daycare referred to male parents as daddy. So, he was also hearing daddy all the time there. They had no idea about the long conversations we’d been having for the last couple of years. So, we were both daddy at school, and both dad at home.¶

When Kekoa was about 1 ½ years-old he was hearing dad all the time and daddy all the time and it could be either one of us that’s being referred to. So, the poor kid had no idea what we were and how to distinguish us by name.  I’m sure he was pretty confused. Suddenly, he was speaking and he would say, “Dad”, and, like all parents, we were ecstatic that he was starting to speak and in particular referred to us by name. It was wonderful! We were dad, or daddy, and it didn’t really matter that it was us, not me, not him, but us. Paul knew we were his dads and we were happy. A couple of months go by, and we suddenly realized Paul wasn’t calling us both dad, or us both daddy.  He had made a distinction. He was mostly calling David “Daddy”, and he was mostly calling me “Dad” or “Dada”. After all this debate, discussions, and informal polling of how we would name ourselves as Kekoa’s parents, the decision ultimately didn’t fall to us. Rather, our little boy named us. And we thought it was pretty cool.

 
Meet David Fullner
 
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David Fullner, Co-Founder, CEO

David is currently the Vice President of Network Post Production Operations for Viacom Media Networks.  He started with Viacom over 13 years ago as a coordinator, and through his keen insight into how to migrate from analog to digital solutions and steady successes built his own department of over 20 individuals. His innovative approaches set the new standard for digital file content delivery Viacom-wide.  His primary goal and responsibility right now is ensuring that all Viacom episode and promotional content is delivered to American viewers as well as viewers worldwide via all devices.

David is a paracollege graduate from St. Olaf College where, unsatisfied with existing conventional majors, he designed his undergraduate degree titled Integration of Images and Movement. He took the areas of sociology, dance theory, photography, and editing to create a singular media unit and discipline. David successfully defended his four years of work at St. Olaf College to a committee comprised of advisors and professors.

David possesses a lifelong passion for all things food and gardening related, including cooking, pickling and fermentation. Not satisfied with the quality, taste, and combinations of the baby food available when his son was born in 2013, he decided to make his own baby food from scratch. With the use of many herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, and high quality, grass-fed meats, the result was a new and innovative combination for baby food, which his son loved. David now seeks to share his passion and his creations with you and your family.

 
Meet Daniel Auld
 
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Daniel Auld, PhD
Co-founder, President
Education & Research

Danny is currently Director of Learning Technologies & Support at John Jay College of Criminal Justice – CUNY in New York.  His career spans 18 years in higher education where he has provided professional development opportunities to faculty to enhance their teaching to better serve their students and worked directly with students to realize their post-graduate goals, develop plans to attain them while showcasing their skills and accomplishments in person and online.  He earned his PhD from Fordham University in 2014. Danny’s work examines how individuals can utilize technology to find their best way to learn. Most recently he successfully led a CUNY Strategic Investment Initiative of $650,000 to expand digital portfolio use from 300 to over 4,000 students annually. He has presented at national and international conferences on a wide array of topics.  From his academic research, he presented on how the effects of being in the state of flow, or optimal experience, impact individuals’ direct and indirect learning outcomes.  From his academic program work he demonstrated how to support student leaders utilizing technology to showcase their achievements as they support their fellow students.    

Food is integral to Danny’s world; more than just for its sustenance.  Since he was a teenager he began combing over cookbooks to find recipes to try.  Coupled with his love of food is his desire for travel. He has journeyed around North America and Europe, and honeymooned with David in Australia.  When abroad he makes sure to scope out the best eateries, try new flavors and experience food the way the locals do. This voyaging then leads to inspiration in his own kitchen.  While David has focused on culinary creations for Kekoa Foods, it’s Danny who keeps the family nourished and well fed. One of Danny’s favorite things is taking leftover ingredients and converting them into new Danny concoctions.

Finally, most important to Danny is family.  Being on this new adventure with David by his side is a dream come true.  As much of his free time is spent with David and their son. They hike often near their home bringing along their eight year-old rescue dog, Noosa.  They also often repurpose their kitchen into a learning lab for edible experimenting and tasting. Peg, Danny’s 81-year old mom, moved in with them in 2011 and is always excited to try what might be their next gastronomic masterpiece.

 
The Birth of Kekoa
 
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Choosing an egg donor seemed to be the biggest challenge we would have on our surrogacy journey.  Naming our children certainly wasn’t. We had discussed having children on our first date; David indicated that he would name a son after his brother who died of leukemia before David was born. Danny accepted that request and interjected that he would get to contribute to the naming of our children too without realizing that we had skipped dating and our wedding and moved right into full-on family! So, going through the process of getting our first-born seemed natural and another adventure on the journey that we were meant to be on.  This was especially true when a long-time friend offered to be our gestational (non-genetic carrier) surrogate. The only issue being that she lived in Honolulu, HI and we lived in New Jersey – just 5,000 miles away! The journey awakened awareness in us to things we hadn’t expected as probably happens to most parents and to anyone when embarking on something as novel as bringing a new life into the world. We were preparing, planning and getting excited about our new adventure. Then, one evening, we got a call. Our surrogate had developed preeclampsia.  To save her and our child they needed to induce her immediately, but, luckily, we were in Honolulu less than 25 hours later and still before our son was born. The two of us, each holding one of our surrogate’s hands, were both there as our son entered the world, eight weeks early, but with a will and determination to persevere! Doctors said he would be in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit) for six to eight weeks, but he, a strong fighter was out in two and a half weeks. That time in the NICU was surreal, but also a great learning opportunity for us.  We learned how to care for our delicate boy in this sterile environment and began to prepare for how to care for him when he would come home with us. We quickly recognized his fighter spirit and, true to his homeland where he was born, we named him aptly for it. His first name decided years ago on our first date was settled, but we wanted a middle name that would reflect his unique story, the land of his birth, and something that demonstrated his personality – “brave warrior” in Hawaiian, he was our “Kekoa”.

To continue to watch our warrior grow, he needed to be nourished with the highest quality of food to support his health, development, and physical growth.  However, it was hard to be sure where the baby food sold in stores was sourced and the quality of the ingredients used. Much of the food available to purchase did not indicate if the meat or dairy products were from grass fed, pasture-raised animals or if the fruits and vegetables were non-GMO (genetically modified organisms).  Further, why was it so bland and gross tasting? Where were the herbs and spices? We were so unsatisfied with what was available to purchase that David decided he would make all our baby’s food from scratch.

He approached this task in two ways, first it was important to ensure that we had the highest quality of meats, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.  Second, we wanted our baby to start his life experiencing the flavorful world of food too. So, David included herbs and spices for their nutritional and delicious savoriness as well.

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Kekoa Foods was born out of the strength shown by our son and the need to ensure he was given highest quality and nutritious food.  So, we promise that the products we make will come from high-quality, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals and non-GMO fruits and vegetables.  All recipes are based on what we used to make our son’s food, or would feed him and ourselves, because they are healthy and taste delicious from all of their individual flavors.

 
Jimmy Sellars