RASPBERRIES

Stuff baby (or daddy) doesn’t like

The Redemptive Power of Story Time

April 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

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I’ve been going through quite a lot of shit lately. I won’t bore you with the details because we’ve all got details and they’re equally uninteresting to others yet end-of-the-world urgent and/or life-altering to us. And for any of us who are parents, our children are often the primary recipients of said shit run-off. And for any of us who are parents, our children have gained valuable insight (regardless of their age) as to how and where and when to push all our buttons. However I’ve read official research that age 4-1/2 is the worst. True fact.

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A Gay Man’s Tribute to Fred Phelps

March 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

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My original idea for this illustration included a rough line drawing of an oft-seen photo of Fred Phelps. The intent was to depict the sheer evil of the man in pen and ink, superimposed over a collage of the disparate groups of people his hatred targeted. I scanned my drawing and began layering in images on the computer: Matthew Shepard and the iconic fence he was tied to; a scene from a production of The Laramie Project; the casket of an Iraq War veteran, draped in the American flag; paper angels representing the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the interlocked bikers that protected their funerals; symbols representing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons and Catholics.

As I fine-tuned the design, I hid the layer that included Phelps’ face. I looked at all of these otherwise unconnected people and realized I’d been going about this all wrong.

Phelps is gone…and what is left behind?

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SuperLunchNotes: Green Week!

March 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, RASPBERRIES, SUPERLUNCHNOTES

When I saw St. Patrick’s Day was falling on a Monday, I decided to do “Green Week” leading up to the 17th, so that on the actual holiday the blog would be celebratory in its virtual verdant-ness. Now if I can just figure how to get cyber-drunk…

BTW, green is also JJ’s favorite color, so doing a Green Week is fine by him anytime.
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WEEK 31: Mar 10 – Mar 14, 2014
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Hulk: 3.10.14
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Papa bought JJ a Hulk action figure a while back that yelled “HULK SMASH!” and I immediately but the kaibosh on that—like he needs another excuse to hulk out. So I was a little trepidatious (hypocritical?) putting this note in his lunch, but how could I kick off “Green Week” without his favorite mossy monster? Also, Mondays often DO need to be smashed.

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Ban Bossy? A Suggested Alternative

March 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | QUICKPIC, RASPBERRIES

Enough has already been written about this whole “Ban Bossy” business, so I’m going to suggest an alternative:

gary busey ban bossy

However, if you’d like to read some actual commentary on the subject (which certainly seemed to stir up the interwebs a bit), please check out one of the articles below from some of my fine, fellow parent bloggers. And lordy they sure are a bossy bunch!

Donna Biroczky / Dangerous Cupcakes “Like a Boss! Not a #banbossy Fan”

Jeff Bogle / Out With The Kids “Dad Bloggers React to #BanBossy with More Words Worth Banning”

Doug French / Laid-Off Dad “Join Me to Ban ‘Lean’”

Aaron Gouveia / The Daddy Files “Why I Won’t Ban Bossy”

Joel Gratcyk / Daddy’s Grounded “Its Not Okay To Be Afraid Of A Word, I Will Not #BanBossy”

Alan Kercinik / Always Jacked “What #banbossy Says to Boys”

John Kinnear / Ask Your Dad “There Are No Bad Words… OK, There Are Some – I Don’t Know if Bossy is One”

Dave Lesser for TIME “Dad: I’m Going To Keep Calling My Daughter Bossy”

Kadi Prescott / Media Actually “My Two Cents: The #BanBossy Social Campaign”

Jessi Sanfilippo / Shuggilippo “Slap My Ass and Call Me Bossy”

David Vienna for Huffington Post “Why I Won’t Ban ‘Bossy’”

David Wallach for Chicago Parent “Chicago Dad to Sheryl Sandberg: Don’t Tell Me How to Talk to My Kids”

Jessica Watson / Four Plus An Angel “What You Can Call Me”

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Become a fan of Designer Daddy’s Facebook page, and I promise to never, ever ban you.

Utah Presses Pause on Same Sex Marriage

January 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

Yesterday the Governor of Utah declared the 1,000+  same sex marriages in that state invalid. While this isn’t nearly as surprising as the federal court decision allowing the weddings, it’s certainly disheartening.

However, my brother Bryan — who lives in Utah, and who I wrote about when the ruling happened in December — wrote very poignantly about it on his Facebook page. I couldn’t have said it better, or more personally…

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“At the end of the day, after the legal atrocities and discrimination of a church with too much money and the ignorance of a state that doesn’t understand its separation from that church, I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely partner and lucky to have the love I do. I will never take that for granted and that is something that the USA, Utah, the Mormons, the Christians, the Muslims, the hicks, the ignorant, and the scared will never ever be able to take away from me. Time and history are on my side, and I truly believe this will happen in my lifetime. Karma is wonderful, love is better, and both are charging head on toward Utah. I already have both of mine, and my hope is the same for my amazing friends and second family here (many of whom I consider married even if the law doesn’t). I wish a good night to the end of an ugly day. It does and will get better. XOX”

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So if he’s hopeful, I can be hopeful. The wedding march has already begun in Utah, so I’ll just press the pause button on this one:

utah-pause

Designer Daddy’s Greatest Hits of 2013

January 1, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

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2013 was a pretty monumental year, both personally and blogally(?). So for all of the awesome, new readers I’ve met recently — as well as longtime loyalists — here’s a recap of my favorite posts from the last 12 months!

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An Open Letter to Photo Card Companies: LGBT Families Celebrate Christmas, Too

December 17, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY 2 DADS, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

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I want to preface by saying that I find articles titled “An open letter to…” a bit pompous and self-important. So with that, please enjoy this pompous, self-important open letter to the makers of holiday photo cards — in particular the four companies (un)fortunate enough to have me on their mailing lists.

One of my favorite and longest-running holiday traditions is designing our family’s holiday card. I first created a card for Papa and myself in 2001, and haven’t skipped a year since. With the onset of daddyhood, a requisite family photo has been incorporated into now dominates the design. However, a couple of years ago, I was forced to use <gasp!> an online photo card company. I was not a happy Designer Daddy. It’s like if Santa had to send all the presents FedEx. This was due to restrictions set by the photographer we used, yet it ended up being a relatively pleasant experience, even if I couldn’t claim it as an original DD creation.

As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two dad or two mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.

So I did a little experiment. I went back and scoured each of the catalogs I’d gotten, tallying up the families, couples and kids featured in all their glowing, photogenic glory, in order to get some concrete(ish) information. While I was at it, I also took a look at how people of color were represented.

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These are a few of my favorite tweets…

December 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | RASPBERRIES

…from during the broadcast of THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE! on NBC.

Dad duties dictated I pass on an opportunity to usher (dressed as a nun, no less) at a local theater where it was being shown. From all accounts it sounded like a great time, including some impromptu sing-a-longs during sound problems. Events like this are always way more hilarious — or awful — when experienced en masse.

So I had to watch it alone at home… And yet, the world watched with me, and laid in to Carrie and company with much gusto and snark. Yes, there were plenty of positive comments about Audra McDonald, Laura Benati, the children, the ratings. But that’s not why God invented Twitter.

While most of the more scathing comments were directed at the lead’s wooden underacting, things snowballed from there as the Twitterverse barreled down the Austrian mountainside, picking up Vampire Bill, Julie Andrews, yodeling and Grumpy Cat along the way.

Without further ado, I present A Few of My Favorite Tweets…
(and yeah, the first one’s from me, after a mere one line of dialog from Maria)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So what were a few of your favorites? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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For more fun and frivolity, please visit the Designer Daddy Facebook page  to make it one of your favorite things!

Retelling A Tragic Story

November 18, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

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I had seen the headlines — about a couple “returning” their adopted son after 9 years — yet had steered completely clear of reading it.

But then a friend messaged me the link to one of the articles. “Have you seen this? So awful.” was all he said. No shit. That’s why I’d been avoiding it. More sensationalist fodder to fuel the 24-hour-news-cycle hyperbole machine. Another emotional train wreck that so many somehow never grow tired of rubbernecking at.

Do you know who doesn’t stop to stare at train wrecks? People who’ve actually been in a train wreck.

As an adoptive parent, I avoided this story the same way I’d avoided the reality series The Baby Wait. This show (from the creators of Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, and Jersey Shore…yikes) followed adoptive parents during the revocation period — the time after a child is born when the birthmother can change her mind and terminate the adoption. Sure it shed some light on open adoptions (like ours is) and even featured several same-sex couples. Nonetheless, those pluses were overshadowed by the fact this was a show capitalizing on loss and rejection. Before JJ came into our lives, we had experienced such an ordeal. Why would we want to relive it in any form ever again?

So yeah, I wasn’t reading any story about adoptive parents abandoning their child. I had my own life and adopted child to worry about. And not abandon.

Then later I saw my friend had posted the article on Facebook, and realized that he had written it. With a mix of courtesy and curiosity, I gave in and read it. Here are the miserable highlights:

Cleveland and Lisa Cox adopted their son when he was three months old. Now he’s 9 years old, displaying some aggressive behavior, and is reported to have threatened other family members with a knife. The Cox’s took their son to their local Ohio children services, leaving the state to deal with him. A judge is considering charging the parents with reckless abandonment, for which they could face 6 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. The parents apparently were frustrated that the boy would not agree to get help for his behavioral issues. The couple took their 2 other children and left the area for a couple of days, then turned themselves in on Friday. The Cox’s will appear in Juvenile Court November 27 to address their request to terminate parental rights.

I’m sure there are details the public isn’t privy to. And I’m not here to pile on more judgement and vitriol (although the temptation is very strong).

So why write about it? Because by all appearances, these two were not meant to be this boy’s parents, and are — by their own admission — unfit to be so. But more importantly, now there’s a 9 year-old boy with likely behavioral problems, stuck in the foster care system. Those are not the kinds of kids that get adopted (again) quickly. Or oftentimes, at all.

My hope is that the more this story gets out — sad, dramatic details and all — the more quickly this boy will find his true and permanent home. Whether it’s a new family with the patience and strength to love and support him unconditionally; or by some miracle, the Cox’s, repentant and willing to do everything it takes to get help for themselves and their son.

As with the vast majority of any honest parents, my child has made me want to yank out my (remaining) hair many times, but I’ve never even pondered “giving him back.” What does that even mean? I don’t sit around thinking about him being adopted, even when I’m angry and frustrated and at my wit’s end. I know JJ is right where he belongs. We’re far from a perfect family, yet he’s mine & Papa’s and we’re his — a forever family. My son has brought so much life to my life, and I could never imagine returning to a time without him.

Thank you to David Wallach (from Dad All Day) for sending me your article.

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P.S. If you don’t already “Like” Designer Daddy’s Facebook Page, but you like the blog, please come by for a visit for additional content, photos and conversation.

Chuck the Chunk: Keep On Chuckin’

October 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES

Other titles considered for this post, “Slow and Steady is Boring and Slow,” “Two Steps Forward, Three Steps to the Couch,” and “I’m So Lame.”

Yes, I’m still doing this. (This being Chuck the Chunk.) To make a long sob story short, I got as low as 278, then got sick, then got crazy busy with work, then went to a conference, then got even crazier busier. Blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse. And I’m admittedly a little bummed (okay, a lot) that no sponsors have stepped up to give our ragtag band of dad bloggers a shiny prize to strive for.

Luckily I’ve not fallen completely off the wagon. I’ve yo-yo’ed between 278-284 for the past month or so, depending on how stressed I was or what time of day I weighed myself. Eating right has been relatively steady, but exercise has taken a vacation. This morning I was at 282, so that’s what I’m sticking with for the sake of this post and to get it down in writing. And to move forward.

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I don’t have anything insightful or motivational to share. Other than I’m still fat and I still need help. I am encouraged by the progress I’ve made, but know winter is my hardest time to stay active and not wallow in comfort food. So I’m always ALWAYS open to cheerleading, success stories, ass-kickings and the like.

A big shout out to my little brother Bryan for texting me a while back to see if I was still doing “that Chunk thing.”

So I will keep on Chuckin’. And I promise to check back in sooner next time.

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