First Day of School: Fifth Grade!

September 1, 2020 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

So… FIFTH GRADE. Even under normal circumstances, that phrase brings a mixture of shock, awe, gratefulness and stress. So let’s throw in a global pandemic and some at-home, online learning for added effect, shall we?

Needless to say, the last few months of fourth grade were not what we (or anyone else) had planned. I’m sure there are some kids out there who thrive at distance learning. My child is not one of them. His ADHD, combined with a penchant for non-stop, action-packed video games, made for some very frustrating attempts at on-screen classes. We made it out the other side alive, which I consider a win.

Also needless to say, Jon and I both enjoyed the hell out of our class-less summer. But now here we are again — the excitement of a new school year mixed with the stressful virtuality of it all.

First Day of School: Fifth Grade

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Parenting During A Pandemic: Toasting the Last Days of Summer

August 27, 2020 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Last Days of Summer - header

It’s been a hell of a summer, hasn’t it? Between ongoing quarantine and COVID scares, missed friends and canceled plans, social unrest and political nonsense, it’s been a hot mess of struggle and stress for a whole lot of folks. Typically, the last days of summer meant the excitement (for kids) and relief (for parents) of back to school. Again, with the challenges and disappointment!

With all of these factors — combined with the unknowns of the new school year AND an increase in socially distant socializing — there are more and more occasions to enjoy a cocktail. Or two.

I’ll admit it’s been a struggle for me not to stress drink. Or drink out of boredom. Or just reward myself for making it through another day. Serendipitously, I’ve had the privilege of working with Responsibility.org this year. They’ve been a great resource when it comes to enjoying alcohol, well, responsibly.

Here are a few tips from Responsibility.org to help you toast the last days of summer — whether enjoying cocktails at home, hosting outdoor gatherings, or venturing out to restaurants.

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Amazing Videos About Sex… For Kids!

July 17, 2020 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Talking to Kids About Sex and Sexuality

As a gay dad of a 10 year-old boy, it’s important that I raise my son to be both educated and open-minded about sex, sexuality and gender. One resource that has helped me out with this is Amaze.

Amaze.org is a terrific place for parents and kids to learn about sex and relationships in an honest, positive way. Their videos are funny without being too silly; smart without being too clinical. They address the “mechanics” (like puberty), as well as more complex topics like gender identity, coming out, consent, etc.

Below are my top five most amazing Amaze videos. It was hard to narrow it down — they have so much great content!

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#DadsCare: How To Get Crafty With Your Kids

July 8, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

I’ve partnered with Dove Men+Care as part of their #DadsCare campaign to share some easy and creative ways to get crafty with your kids. Check out the short video I made with my son, as well as the descriptions of the steps in the text below.

How To Get Crafty With Your Kids

During quarantine — or anytime, really — it can be easy to plop the kids in front of a screen and call it a day. Coming up with non-screen activities can be stressful.

Crafts are a tried-and-true way for kids to flex their creativity and stimulate their brains. It can also be a great bonding time with your kids. And let’s be honest, it’s also a nice distraction while you try to get some work done!

While I’ve been a graphic designer and illustrator for over 20 years, I sometimes feel like I’m still getting the hang of being a dad. But I know from experience that coming up with ideas for crafts and pulling all the supplies together can be overwhelming. So I’ve put together five tips to hopefully make it easier for you to get your kids crafting.

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Parenting During a Pandemic: Addressing (Not Avoiding) Summertime Blues

June 25, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Summertime Blues

Transitioning from school year to summertime can be a pretty challenging process. Throw in a global pandemic with ever-changing levels of quarantine, and it can be downright traumatic. So, what’s a parent to do?

Even under typical circumstances, families are dealing with a looser schedule and fewer restrictions. While kids might think that’s an amazing set of problems to have, the truth is we could all probably use some guidance.

I recently sat in on a conversation with 2019’s School Counselor of the Year, Brian Coleman, hosted by the helpful folks at Responsibility.org. Brian had a lot of great tips for parents and caregivers for navigating this exceptionally uncharted journey. Below are some of the tips he shared as we embark on a summer with so many unknowns.

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Father’s Days of the Last 10 Years

June 21, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The start of the new decade also marks 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 throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Top 10 Father's Days

I was hoping to have a couple more Top 10 lists posted by the middle of 2020, but COVID-19 had others plans. As Father’s Day rolled around and I realized we’d be spending yet another holiday in quarantine. So I got nostalgic and started rummaging through photos of Dad’s Days past. I got excited about documenting our first ten years of Father’s Days — until I did the math and realized that while our son was 10 years old, we were celebrating our 11th Father’s Day. New math is hard.

As I’ve written many times on this blog, Father’s Day is not a day of rest and relaxation for two-dad families. Yet we’ve somehow managed to always be together, and get some manner of family photo. While they haven’t always been exciting Father’s Days — or even all that happy — it’s nice to look back and see what ten (eleven?!?) years of celebrating family looks like.

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Black Lives Matter and Chatting With My Son About Racism

June 11, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Black Lives Matter - family

When we told our 10-year-old we wanted to attend a local Black Lives Matter protest, his initial reaction was one of anxiety and fear. His questions and concerns were numerous: “Will the police be there?” “Will they use rubber bullets?” “Can you die from teargas?”

Like many other families, we’d already been having discussions about the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent, worldwide reaction to it. So I was honestly a bit surprised by my son’s response to attending the protest. He’s always been such an eager activist, whether related to racism, the environment or LGBTQ rights.

Maybe we’d had the news on too often, or allowed him too much YouTube time. Questions and concerns came to my own mind: Was it okay that our child had heard about police firing rubber bullets point blank at protestors? Or that he’d learned of kids being teargassed? Or seen a man his Grandpa’s age being pushed to the ground, bleeding from the head, as dozens of cops passed him by?

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Quarantine, Obesity, and the Voices in Your Head

May 27, 2020 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I’m excited to once again work with Med-IQ to help raise awareness about obesity and the misconceptions surrounding it. After reading my post, please take a few minutes to complete the survey linked at the end. I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Novo Nordisk to write about the realities of obesity as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own. 

quarantine, obesity and the voices in your head

When it comes to managing weight, the most difficult obstacles can be internal. Self-conversations. Inner dialogue. The voices in your head. Whatever you call them, if you’ve spent years (or a lifetime) dealing with overweight or obesity, you’re familiar with how powerful the messages we tell ourselves — both positive and negative — can be.

Now add to this a months-long quarantine due to a worldwide pandemic. Between an increase in stress and anxiety, separation from friends and other support, and limited access to fitness and nutrition routines, it’s a recipe for a misstep on your weight loss journey.

I’ll admit it’s all been overwhelming at times. Yet similar to the last time I blogged about obesity, writing this post has given me the chance to reflect: on how far I’ve come, where I’m at now, and what things I can do to ensure I stay on a healthy path.

A lot of my success comes from the things I tell myself and the external input I subject myself to. I got some excellent input recently when I participated in a conversation with a couple of experts on obesity and weight management. Between their insight and the things I’ve learned on my own, I’ve come up with a few conversation starters to interject some truth into those internal chats about weight.

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Parenting During a Pandemic: A How (& How Not) To

April 23, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

I rarely give parenting advice. I’d much rather doodle a superhero or share cute pics of my kid than try to tell another parent how to do their job. But hey, it’s a pandemic, and I figure us parents can use all the help we can get. So I thought I’d share some extremely helpful information from the folks at Responsibility.org, with whom I recently partnered.

Parenting During A Pandemic

We’re about a month (or is it two?) into quarantine, and I’m sure we all have stories to tell — both humorous and harrowing — about how all this has affected our families. Early on I found my son sorting through his stuffed animals, putting some into a separate pile for quarantine. And while parents of multiple kids have my undying respect, having an only child has its challenges as well — the primary one being no one to play with. And the issues my ADHD son and I have had with “distance learning” are too numerous to list.

So how in the world do we as parents respond to our kids’ struggles, questions and emotions in the midst of something none of us were even remotely prepared to deal with? Below are a few helpful parental do’s and a don’ts that might come in handy.

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10 Awesome Picture Books About Girls

April 1, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

NOTE: I started this early in March for Women’s History Month, and then Coronavirus happened. Yet girls still need to be celebrated and kids still need to read, so better late than never!

Picture Books About Girls

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ve pulled together 10 of my favorite recent picture books about girls. You’ll notice I didn’t say these books were for girls. Because while girls were likely the primary audience — and there really can’t be enough kids’ books celebrating girls — boys need these books just as much… if not more.

While Papa and I have always tried to raise our son to value and appreciate girls as much as boys, it’s still an uphill battle. For every Wonder Woman movie, Serena Williams victory or Elizabeth Warren speech there are dozens (hundreds?) more male superheroes, athletes and politicians being given the spotlight. Teaching equality and respect takes work, and one of the best ways we’ve found to communicate these values is through time spent reading to and with our child.

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