MAKING MEMORIES

stories, photos, graphics chronicling my journey as a dad

Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Halloween Costumes of the Last 10 Years

October 3, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

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.

Halloween Costumes

As a dad with a creative/crafty streak, few things have brought me more joy than dressing up my kid in Halloween costumes. It doesn’t hurt that I also like to play dress up from time-to-time — but that’s another list for another time.

This is quite the spooky scrapbook, documenting my son’s favorite heroes and characters over the last 10 years. You may notice that some years are represented more than once. Typically, each year included a school party/costume parade as well as trick-or-treating, so some years I overzealously made two different costumes. This exhausting practice has since been retired.

Enjoy these magically monstrous moments, including tips on how to make/where to buy the costumes. And oh yeah, Happy Halloween!

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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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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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