A Rainbow of Refreshing Summer Cocktails

June 14, 2021 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Summer Cocktails

June is without a doubt my favorite month. In addition to kicking off summer, June contains my birthday, Father’s Day and Pride. Seriously, can this month get any more fun? Yes! In honor of this most fabulous of months, I’ve stirred up a rainbow of delicious summer cocktails — one for each color of the LGBTQ Pride flag.

To keep the festivities fun and safe, here are a few pointers courtesy of Responsibility.org:

  • Measure your drinks and cocktail ingredients. Familiarize yourself with the go-to bar measuring tool, a jigger. You can also use this handy Virtual Bar to help manage your alcohol intake.
  • Have water and non-alcoholic drinks available. I’ve included a couple of mocktail recipes in the list below!
  • Provide food to guests, and make sure you snack as you imbibe/host.
  • Check to make sure your guests have safe rides home.
  • Take some time to talk to your kids about alcohol and underage drinking, especially if they’re going to present at your get-together.

Feel free to click and print individual recipes, or share on social media. Scroll down to the end for even more tips on making and enjoying these colorful cocktails!

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12 Ways to Be An Ally to LGBTQ Parents & Families

June 8, 2021 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

How to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families

I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!

However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.

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Designer Daddy’s Favorite LGBTQ Children’s Books for EVERY Family

May 31, 2021 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

LGBTQ Children's Books

As a gay dad, it should come as no surprise that I read LGBTQ children’s books to my son. But what about all of you awesome straight parents out there? How many kid’s books with LGBTQ characters or stories have you read to your children?

I asked this question in a Facebook group of 1,200+ parents, and was disappointed that the most common answer was none. Even more surprising was that many hadn’t even considered it. Further, the majority polled didn’t know what LGTBQ children’s books were available… or if they even existed at all.

Luckily, Designer Daddy is here to help!

The list below contains books that are about same-sex parents or LGBTQ people; others address gender expression or identity. Some simply include queer characters as part of the story, without directly focusing on them. All are valuable stories to help normalize LGBTQ people and to teach children (and parents!) empathy and acceptance. It also sends the message that should your child ever identify as LGBTQ, you will be there to celebrate and support them.

There are certainly more exhaustive lists to be found, but this one is unique in that it’s DESIGNER DADDY APPROVED™ — meaning the stories are great, but the pictures are also pretty fabulous. Happy reading!

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A Year of Pandemic Parenting, In Pictures

April 30, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been pandemic parenting for over a year now… and it’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Compared to so many that were medically or financially devastated by Covid, our family got off fairly easy. Yet I imagine everyone looks forward to putting this behind us, allowing it to fade into a surreal, scary, traumatic, lonely, stressful, depressing — and oh so monotonous — memory.

Between the isolation, health scares, lost work and the flaming dumpster fire that was virtual learning, I had to do something to keep my sanity, fill the time, and lift the spirits of my housebound family.

While distance learning was (and is) a largely futile endeavor for my ADHD kiddo, his school interjected some fun as best it could. Spirit Week was always one of my favorite events growing up, so I was pleasantly surprised when Jon’s school added a couple of extra themed weeks to the calendar.

As it’s no secret Dad loves any excuse to play dress up, I wasn’t letting my son have all the fun. I got us all involved — picked out props, took pics, and occasionally had some Photoshop fun before sharing on social media. It was such a hoot, I added a few themed Spirit Days of my own. If I’m being honest, sometimes I was probably the only one truly enjoying it — but kudos to Jon and Papa for letting me force convince them to play along!

So, as we surpass the year mark on quarantine life, I wanted to commemorate all of the wacky, weird and spirited photos from the weary months we’ve made it through.

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HOPPY EASTER! 👯‍♂️🦄 Not an official Spirit Day photo, but officially adorbs. Trying to find some fun hidden in our son’s first Easter not spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

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Talking to My Kid About Alcohol

April 14, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. And as a parent, making our children aware of alcohol and responsible drinking should happen early, appropriately and repeatedly.

But first let me drop a bit of awareness on you

Talking to My Kid About Alcohol

In 1991, 80% of American teens had consumed alcohol at least once. By 2020, that number had dropped to 44%. Some credit this decrease, in part, to an increase in parents talking to their children openly and honestly about alcohol.

This past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with Responsibility.org, whose mission is to facilitate these lifelong conversations between parents and kids. I’ve learned a ton from my interactions with the organization and strive to impart some of that knowledge to my readers… and of course, to my son.

So, in honor of Alcohol Responsibility Month, I thought I’d do just that — have a conversation with my 11-year-old about alcohol.

As I was coming up with questions, I realized I hadn’t had much in the way of father-son chats about alcohol. I knew he’d seen me and his Papa drink — and probably more often during quarantine. But what did he really know? What had he actually observed? How worried should I be?

Below is our enlightening (and entertaining) discussion.

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Songs of the Last 10 Years

March 14, 2021 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

This past year marked a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m sharing a series of Top 10 lists. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Top 10 Songs

Sharing my passions with my son is one of the best parts of being a dad. And before I was able to introduce him to my favorite comic books, TV shows or movies, there was music. Whether I was lulling a newborn to sleep, distracting a fussy baby on a long car ride, or teaching a toddler the basics of superhero themes, music has been an integral part of my parenting experience.

I grew up in a musical home, my parents and siblings displaying mastery of the piano, guitar, opera and more. My skill set veered more towards music appreciation (though I do sing), but I pride myself on having the largest music collection in the family. So, it was a no brainer that my kiddo was going to be raised on radio (or iTunes, YouTube and Spotify, rather).

Limiting this list to ten was near impossible. There’s quite a bit of overlap from my TV and movies lists — my parenting journey has definitely had a soundtrack. In any event, here are the top 10 (or so) songs from my first ten years of fatherhood. Release dates are listed next to each title, but the songs appear in the order I introduced them to my son.

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I’ll Take the 3-Piece Parenting Advice Meal, Please. Hold the Anxiety.

February 28, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

You can’t swing a mismatched sock without hitting someone giving you parenting advice. Talk shows and books, blogs and social media, teachers, therapists, other parents, your parents — it’s everywhere and it’s constant. And as we’re a year into a pandemic, lord knows we need all the advice we can get. But I also know I’m not always ready to digest it.

Parenting Advice

Speaking of parenting advice, I recently sat in on a conversation with Jessica Lahey. Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, is a New York Times bestseller. She’s also a teacher and a mom, and chock full of delicious parenting know-how.

Jessica crammed a lot of wisdom, feedback and advice into our hour-long chat, sponsored by Responsibility.org. And while a lot of what she shared rang true, I found myself terribly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with good and helpful information, but overwhelmed, nonetheless.

Quarantine life has been taking its toll on me lately, and most days I feel like I’m just getting by. I was tempted to give in to my anxiety, chuck all this info out the window, and hope for the best (a common defense mechanism for me). But this time I took a different approach.

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It’s Still Flu Season! Preventing and Treating the Flu

January 26, 2021 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

For I’m excited to once again partner with Med-IQ to educate parents and caregivers about flu season. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end of my post. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech to write about the symptoms and treatments for pediatric influenza. All opinions are my own.

Pandemic numbers continue to rise. Kids continue to learn virtually. Cold weather is pushing us further into quarantine. And if there wasn’t already enough to worry about, flu season is still in full swing. Peak flu season generally lasts from December to February. Every year, millions of children contract the flu — resulting in thousands hospitalized and many dead.

A while back I shared about the symptoms of pediatric flu — in particular how they compare to COVID-19 and the common cold. This time I’m focusing on treatment options, specifically antiviral medications.

First of all, I want to reiterate that getting yourself and your family vaccinated is the best way to prevent contracting the flu. CDC reports show that a vaccine reduces the risk of getting flu to between 40% and 60%, depending on the year and strains of flu going around. That’s great, but still leaves an average 50-50 chance of contracting the flu. So how do you best treat it?

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The ABCs of Trump, Part 2: Even More Words My Kid Learned from 45

January 18, 2021 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

Partway through Trump’s first year in office, I wrote the predecessor to this post. As we near the end of his term rampage, who would have thought I’d be able to create an entirely new list of 26 horrifying words associated with our 45th president? Anyone who’s ever heard him speak (or Tweet), that’s who.

Over the last four years, I, like so many others, have thought “Surely this can’t get any worse” more times than I can count. Each time I was proven wrong, as Trump’s ego, ineptitude and callousness one-upped itself on a near daily basis.

As a parent, I’ve also had more difficult conversations with my son than I can count. In the last 12 months alone, we’ve discussed enough terrible topics to fill a lifetime. How in the hell were we supposed to be prepared for all this? The chapters on global pandemics, police brutality, psychotic leaders and domestic terrorism were missing from my parenting handbook.

So sit back, raise a glass (or two) and help me toast an alphabet we hope to never repeat. Again.

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THE ABCs of TRUMP, Part 2

Warning: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.

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A is for ALTERNATIVE FACTS

When a kid exaggerates out of embarrassment or self-centeredness, it’s a fib. When it’s Kellyanne Conway defending false claims about the overblown attendance of Trump’s inauguration, it’s a bald-faced lie. The moment we began to realize the amount of fucked-up fiction we were in for. Alternative As: Antifa, asinine
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B is for BULLY

Trump is the quintessential bully, in that he finds pleasure in cruelty, equates intimidation with power and has no sense of remorse. He also likely doesn’t know what “quintessential” means.
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ABCs of Trump, Part 2

C is for CONSPIRACY THEORY

If there’s a conspiracy floating around, you can bet Trump either started or promoted it. A suspicious sampling: anti-vax/vaccines cause autism, Biden/Ukraine connection, climate change denial, COVID-19 conspiracies (of which there are legion), “deep state,” Epstein didn’t commit suicide, Hurricane Maria death toll, Obama “birther” conspiracy, QAnon, Russia investigation counterclaims, Stop the Steal/voter fraud and impersonation, Trump Tower wiretapping, wind turbines cause cancer.

For the full list, check out THE ENTIRE WIKIPEDIA PAGE dedicated to Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories. Extra Cs: Charlottesville, China, coronavirus, coup

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Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

January 12, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

As parents, we’ve had to have a lifetime of difficult conversations with our kids, all within the last 12 months. Few of these are talks we’d ever expected to have, much less in such a short time span. Luckily, kids can be amazingly resilient.

Yet this resiliency doesn’t happen on its own. It comes from having those hard discussion with authenticity. It comes from creating a safe space for children to express and experience their emotions, and then helping them find their way past.

If you’re like me, you’re making things up as you go — extreme on-the-job training. Yet modeling authenticity is vital to both ourselves and our kids. Whether it’s peer pressure to drink or watching a rage-filled mob overrun the US Capitol, teaching our children how to respond to life — regardless of what it throws at us — is one of the most important jobs we have.

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