MAKING MEMORIES

stories, photos, graphics chronicling my journey as a dad

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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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 TV Shows of the Last 10 Years

March 8, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

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 TV Shows of the last 10 years

Hey kids, it’s TV time!

As with movies, I knew TV was going to play a big part in the experiences I shared with my child. Regardless of where we’ve watched them – from the couch, on my phone, in the car — these shows have made the biggest impact and produced the fondest memories for this TV-junkie dad and his screengazing offspring.

Note: like my movie list, these aren’t necessarily the top 10 TV shows my son would come up with (he would denounce ever liking anything as baby-ish as Wonder Pets!) These 10 are the programs I regularly watched with my kid, represent benchmarks, or were just plain fun.

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

February 6, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

The start of this new decade also marks a couple of major personal milestones. Inconceivably, I am now the father of a ten-year-old. And as this site debuted on my son’s first birthday, I’m also starting my tenth year as a blogger. So to commemorate my ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’ll be 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 Movies of the Last 10 Years

First up, movies.

Taking my kid to the movies was one of those things I dreamed about before becoming a dad. And since becoming a parent, going to the movies has been one of the few shared activities that (almost) never ends in a meltdown. Even the crappy movies give us things to talk and laugh about — and the great films are made even more magical by experiencing them together.

Note: these are not necessarily the films my son would say are his favorites, as he declares each and every cinematic experience THE BEST EVER. This is my list, consisting of our grandest father-son movie going adventures.

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First Day of School: Fourth Grade!

September 4, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

First day of school pics have become ubiquitous in the world of social media. Whatever did we do before pre-printed grade signs and frantic, front porch photo sessions? Me — being me — I like to add a list of superlatives to further document this moment each year. It’s my version of the annoying holiday newsletter.

But lest you think I’m only showing the best, brightest and Photoshoppyest version of my so-called parenting life, here’s a little back story on this year’s more-chaotic-than-usual first day of school photo.

First Day of Fourth Grade

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A Totally Awesome Birthday Party 50 Years in the Making

July 30, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Around this time last year, I was feeling weighed down by both my age and my weight. The strain of my mental and physical health was taking a toll, and I was becoming increasingly less social. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, I half-heartedly suggested a trip. I was in no mood for a big party, to be the center of attention, to spend hours around other people pretending to be upbeat and happy.

Then somewhere along the way, I took some much-needed steps to resetting my life. As these steps grew into leaps and bounds, I gained confidence, got excited about life again, and determined that I did, in fact, want a party. Inspired by a friend’s 90s-themed birthday, I decided to show these Millennials how it’s done and throw the most bodacious 80s-themed party ever!

Birthday Party

If I’ve learned anything these past nine years of fatherhood, it’s that pampering yourself, partying with friends and blowing off steam are VITAL to being an effective, happy and sane parent. Having also been in a creative slump, this birthday party became a great outlet for me to flex my design muscles in fab, fun ways.

If you were there, thanks for celebrating with me! If not, here’s a taste of how much fun I had turning 50… and here’s to 50 more!

[click all pics to enlarge]

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WANNA’ BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’

The invitation was going to se the tone — and hopefully get folks excited to come — so the pressure was on for it to be beyond tubular. A few selfies, a little retro font hunting and a bit of Photoshop later, and voilà!

50th Birthday Party Invitation

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Pride 2019: All Dressed Up and No Place To Go

June 11, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Pride 2019

Pride this year didn’t go quite like I’d hoped.

When you’re a parent, things don’t always hardly ever work out as planned. You’d think after almost 10 years I would have figured that out, but I guess hope springs eternal. Especially when it comes to parades full of rainbows and glitter.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — the event widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. So Pride is a big deal this year. And as always, DC’s pride celebration fell on the weekend closest to my birthday… which this year also marked the 50th anniversary of ME!

But alas the universe had other ideas.

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First Day of School: Third Grade!

September 5, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. For example, how many parents can say their kids are excited to go back to school? Okay, so I loved going back to school as a kid — but all my favorite activities involved air conditioning. My kid LIVES for summer, but he’s hyped for back-to-school as well.

Maybe he’s excited because he’s an only child and misses being around other kids. Or perhaps it’s that his classroom is in a newly-built wing. Or he’s just pumped to use his new Black Panther backpack.

It’s likely all those things. But it’s also a genuine love of learning. And as a parent, I can’t imagine how I could be more lucky.

First Day of School: Third Grade

Click to enlarge

Setting Goals

A couple of weeks ago, Jon initiated this conversation.

“Daddy, this year at school I have some goals,” he began.

“Oh yeah? Like what?” I asked.

He begins to list them. “I want to be a better listener in class. I want to not talk in class unless I raise my hand or it’s my turn. I want to be a better helper. I want to stand up to bullies…”

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Sh*t My Kid Lost at Summer Camp

September 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

What did you do on your summer vacation? Before we’re all too entrenched in the new school year, allow me to regale you with a harrowing tale. A tale of childhood. A tale of fun. A tale of absentmindedness and excuses and going commando. And a tale of a very, very frustrated dad.

Last summer my son attended a daytime summer camp and had an amazing time. I’ve never been much of a summer (or any type of) camper. I was/am too uptight to deal with nature or filth or a lack of personal space for long periods of time. But my kid is almost exactly the opposite. Which meant he squeezed the fun out of every moment of camp, but tended to not sweat many any of the details. Which also meant day-after-day-after-day of his shit being left behind at camp.

It boggled my mind, pushed all my Angry Dad buttons, and eventually became comically surreal. Nearly every parent I told said their kid was exactly the same, so I swore that the next summer I would document it somehow. There was some cathartic, empathetic humor to be mined.

Sh*t My Kid Lost at Summer Camp

Yet as this past school year wound down and quickly burst into summer, I found myself rushing around preparing for camp and completely forgot about my idea. It wasn’t until the first afternoon of pick-up that I remembered; when I opened my son’s backpack to put away his wet clothes and found none. On. Day. One.

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The Long Road to Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland

August 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

It was one week, more than three years in the making. At long last, Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland was a reality.

The campsite was set on a tiny peninsula in southern Maryland, where the Potomac feeds into the Chesapeake. It looked like any other summer camp — bunk houses surrounded picnic tables beneath a giant oak; paddles and canoes stacked alongside a murky, green river; a swimming pool, a mess hall, a fire pit. But this camp was unique. It had a history; a tragic yet inspiring origin story. Created by the literal blood, sweat, and tears of a family, a community, and a university.

To tell the full tale would require more words than a single blog post warrants. However, if you’ve known me or this site for any length of time, you’re probably familiar. All you really need to know is that a loving father named Oren lost his life to cancer; this inspired 12 other fathers to hike across Northern England to raise money for a camp in his honor. This is that camp.

As with every Kesem chapter, the campers are kids whose parents have been touched by cancer — whether a survivor, in treatment, or victim. Yet much more than “cancer camp,” I’ve attempted to do it justice with a few pictures and a smattering of words.
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CAMP KESEM, IN PICTURES
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Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland

The day before camp, I attended the staff’s final training session to share about Oren, Dads4Kesem, and the ways this camp is special to so many. They cheered when I told them Oren’s children would be attending.

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Designer Daddy’s 15 Favorite Children’s Books About Dads

June 12, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

15 Best Children's Books About Dads

I sat on the floor of my son’s room amidst a sea of books, surveying those he’d carefully selected yanked off the shelf for inclusion in a yard sale. Memories from the last eight years of nightly bedtime stories flooded my thoughts (and my eyes a little, too).

Few moments in parenting are as special as those spent reading with your kids. Yet it can be a challenge finding quality children’s books that include a positive — or any — portrayal of fathers.

Some progress has been made, but society still often works overtime against dads making emotional, creative or educational connections with their kids. Books that feature fathers can play an important part in bridging that divide. They help lay an early foundation for equally involved parents, regardless of gender. And for two dad families like mine, representation is crucial to helping our kids feel nurtured, included, and seen.

As I proceeded to cull, it came as no surprise that the “dad” books were making the “keep” pile rather tall. So as we near Father’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite “keepers” — my favorite children’s books about dads. Each of these father-centric books carries the official Designer Daddy (and son) seal of approval, and is guaranteed to keep dad(s) showing up for story time.

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