LESSONS LEARNED

Things I’ve learned as a parent, or want others to learn.

My Plan to Be 50 & Fabulous

March 22, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

50 and Fabulous

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2019 is a fabulous year to turn 50.

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The list of things, events and people hitting the half-century mark this year is staggeringly impressive — but not in a commemorative “remember when they were cool” kind of way. Five decades in, and they’re still making an impact, affecting change, and knocking our socks off.

For example… Sesame Street continues to gently teach children us all to understand and include everyone, regardless of gender, race, disability, or fur color.  In the spirit of the original “Peace, Love & Music” festival, Woodstock 50 boasts a lineup of talented, activist artists partnering with charities dedicated to the environment, gun violence, and vulnerable youth populations. The Stonewall Riots kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement — which is still going strong, and still very much needed.

Famous folks turning 50: J Lo just got engaged to A-Rod, and hosts nearly every reality show competition. Gwen Stefani hosts the rest of them. Jay-Z gets to stay married to Beyoncé. Peter Dinklage is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning star on the most epic TV show of all time, which is gearing up for its final, most epic season of all time. Paul Rudd is a freaking Avenger.

A few honorable mentions go to the Moon Landing (let’s see how this Space Force stuff plays out), The Internet, Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Tic-Tacs.

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SuperLunchNotes: Black Superheroes Edition

February 20, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.

As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it was vital to ensure our child felt visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also made racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we made, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course it includes superheroes.

black superheroes

For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since pre-school. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.

I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!

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BLACK PANTHER

Black Superheroes

This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!

FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”
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My Obesity Journey: There & Back Again & There & Back Again & There & Back Again…

February 13, 2019 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I previously worked with Med-IQ* on their campaign educating people about depression. I jumped at the chance to work with them again, this time to 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. 

Obesity

On October 22 of last year, I had 75% of my stomach removed. After struggling with my weight for nearly three decades, I decided to undergo laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery. This decision was neither easy nor quick, but it was the best one for me.

My journey with obesity and weight loss is long, bumpy, and full of (literal) gut-wrenching twists and turns. I initially had written a whole bunch of words chronicling the ups and downs, progress and regress, complete with years and weights and BMIs and such. But I realized that didn’t tell the full story — at least not a story others could relate to and that would make the points I want to make. So instead I doodled this whimsically twisty timeline/infographic thingie…

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Guest Post: A Legacy of Voting

November 6, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

As an English teacher and writer, my mother has been a huge influence on my own love of words. She and I have also enjoyed a lifetime of spirited political discussions. We’re not always 100% on the same side, yet there’s always a willingness to listen and an attempt to understand one another. 

One of the first things I remember reading of my mother’s was a story about my great-grandfather (her maternal grandfather). While she describes him as a staunch Republican, both the GOP and Democratic party have evolved considerably since the 1960s and 70s. The takeaway is the importance he placed on voting, another value I proudly inherited from my mother… who obviously had a strong influence of her own.

Grandpa and Grandma Keylon - a legacy of voting

My great-grandparents, Lewis & Elizabeth Keylon. Union, AR, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of Beverly Almond

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A Frank Note About Voting in the Midterm Election, Part 2

October 31, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

There’s nothing scarier than not being heard. And yet so many in this country still aren’t voting. This Halloween, as the November 6 midterms are looming, watch this silly/spooky/filled with pun(kins) video, then COMMIT TO VOTE.

If you’ve watched my previous video, then you’re already registered and rearing to go. But in case it’s still unclear where you vote, here’s a handy tool to help you find out your polling place — whether you’re voting on election day or voting early. Keep in mind, depending on which day you vote, your polling place may be different!

Stay tuned for part 3 of this epic video series, wherein I hound  you to the ends of the Earth to VOTE VOTE VOTE! Just kidding… sorta.

 

A Quick Note About Voting in the Midterm Election, Part 1

October 17, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Voting in the November 6 midterm election has never been more important… or easier! Watch this short instructional video I whipped up, then REGISTER TO VOTE! You can also check your registration status here.

MIDTERMS, SCHMIDTERMS!

I used to have that attitude about those annoying in-between presidential elections, too. But that was before our country elected the most unqualified, immoral, and dangerous POTUS in its history. So every election — even these weird ones nobody cares about — matter. A lot.

BUT WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THE MIDTERMS?

These are a few of the things that motivate me. If these don’t do it for you, find what it is that lights a fire under your butt.

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How a Mother’s Day Card Made This Gay Dad Proud

May 23, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Mother's Day Card

Before I got deep into the mechanics of actual parenting, what gave me the most agita was this whole open adoption thing. The stress was there from the beginning — like the weirdest arranged marriage you could imagine, with a baby thrown in for good measure. It evolved into a whole different kind of anxiety when we were actually paired with birthparents, growing incrementally as the due date crept closer.

After our son was born, the distance increased and contact lessened. Yet the relationship with birthmom and dad was still there, looming off in the horizon like some celestial monkey wrench, a constant (perceived) threat to our familial peace and harmony.

Our son has been told his story from the get-go, as we continually remind ourselves this transparency is for the best. But there’s always the fear of the unknown, be it far off or soon. Fear that our son will be teased for being adopted; that he’ll learn something disappointing about his biological parents; that he’ll throw the “You’re not my real dad!” grenade in the midst of an argument.

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10 Life Lessons from 10 Years of Marvel Films: GIF Edition

May 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel celebrates ten years amassing the money-makingest film franchise in history. They’ve also made some really great movies. And mixed in amongst the epic battles, amazing effects, and side-splitting one-liners there lies a wealth of character-building wisdom. One might even say gems of wisdom.

Just a little over a year into the MCU Decade, I became a father. Few things have given me more joy as a dad than introducing my son to these characters and these films… at age appropriate times, of course. 😉

So as a galactic-sized THANK YOU to Marvel and Disney, I’ve pulled together 10 of the great life lessons I’ve gleaned from the films. While my intention was to impart these nuggets to my kiddo, they’ve certainly taught me a thing or two, too.

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1. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
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Superheroes don’t just throw big punches, they’re also often very, very smart. Geniuses Bruce Banner, Shuri, and Tony Stark have used their knowledge of science and technology to give them an edge against that universe’s bullies. Just don’t rely too much on your smarts, or you might accidentally create a sentient robot set on destroying humanity.

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Amplifying the Young Voices of March for Our Lives

March 29, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

and On March 24, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people attended March for Our Lives — a protest and call to action held in hundreds of cities in every state across the U.S. Yet even more amazing than the massive crowds were the many young speakers raising their voices in frustration, fear, anger, and mourning.

They voiced their frustration at the lack of any real change to America’s gun laws in the last decade. They voiced the fear they experienced at school or in their neighborhoods as they were terrorized at gunpoint. They voiced their anger at the NRA and its influence over Congress, local legislators, and gun owners in general. And they voiced their sorrow — mourning siblings, cousins, classmates, teachers, friends and neighbors whose lives were — and continue to be — cut short by a culture of unfettered gun violence.

Yet with all of this against them, they spoke out — bravely, with purpose, and with hope.

On February 14, 2018, the latest (at this writing) mass shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, fourteen of them students. As there’s not much new I can add to the conversation, I thought the best way to honor the silenced students was to amplify the same number of young voices from March for Our Lives.

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EMMA GONZÁLEZ – 17, Parkland FL
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Students rally for gun control at March for Our Lives

Watch Emma’s entire speech to get the full effect of her message. And then please (PLEASE) leave a positive comment on YouTube to counter the avalanche of hatred she’s enduring.


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Depression Survey: You’re Not Alone

March 13, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

depression survey

I was compensated by Med-IQ through a grant from Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression awareness. All my opinions are my own. 

Touched By Depression

Just before Thanksgiving, I shared about my struggle with depression, and what I did to find help. If you missed that, you can read about it here.

I also encouraged readers to take a survey by Med-IQ, an accredited company that provides continuing education courses for healthcare professionals. The questionnaire served as a tool to determine whether someone might be suffering from depression and what treatment options are available.

Thank you to all who took the survey! The number of responses far surpassed our goals, and I wanted to share the results gleaned from the almost 4,000 completed.

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