Fathers and Sons

June 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Father's Day - Grandpa - Dad

On June 1st my father preached his last sermon. To clarify, I’m sure he will continue to preach as long as he has breath — but this was his final sermon as pastor of the small Baptist church in Virginia where he’d been for the last 15 years. Prior to that he was a Chaplain in the US Air Force for over 20 years, and before that he pastored at churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Illinois.

His father was also a minister. Dad preached his first sermon when he was 18 at his father’s small Baptist church in Arkansas. I know very little about my dad’s dad. I know in addition to preaching he also repaired air conditioners and other electronics. I know he was 6’8″ tall (Dad is 6’5″). I know he neither showed little affection nor talked very much to his son, thus raising Dad to do likewise. I know he held a lot of things in, some that were devastating when unearthed later. I know he died of cancer two years before I was born. I know Grandma remarried to the man I called “Pappaw;” her first husband I’ve only ever called “Russell.”

I don’t say these things to disparage my biological grandfather or to drudge up any of the pain Dad still carries regarding this relationship. I say them because Russell Almond was such a stark contrast to who Johnny Almond, my father, has become.

I know he has shown me affection every day of my life, hugging and kissing me even through the most awkward of my teen years. I know he loves to talk (when given the chance by his 4 verbose sons), and has taught me everything I know about crafting the perfect groan-inducing pun. I know he was always patient with me, even at my most impatient and distant and resentful. I know that he tried to play ball with me and take me golfing and other father-son activities that I hated and told him so, and yet he still showed me patience and kindness and love. I know that after each time he punished me, he always returned to remind me how much he loved me. I know he instilled in me the importance of being compassionate — not by telling me so, but by being the most compassionate man I’ve ever met. I know that he loves and respects my husband, and has said publicly that he is “the kindest man I’ve ever met.” I know he loves and cherishes my son as much as he’s ever loved any of his children or grandchildren, and that my son dearly loves his Grandpa.

During the four and-a-half years that I’ve been a father, I have come to understand the unending joy and deep heartache I must have brought to my dad over the years. I have come to appreciate his commitment to love me, even when I exhibited impatience or embarrassment or hatred towards him; even when I was religiously overzealous and thought his beliefs not strident enough; even when I blamed him for contributing to my being gay; even when I embraced my homosexuality, and he struggled to reconcile this with his lifelong beliefs.

I don’t say these things to embarrass him or to highlight the struggles of our relationship. I say them because my father has done so much to overcome the deficits in his own father/son relationship. I say them so he knows how much I love and appreciate him, though for much of my youth my actions said otherwise. I say them to celebrate what a loving patriarch he has become to his four sons, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law (and another eventual one), three grandsons and two granddaughters. I say them to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are sinful, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:11-13

Father's Day - Dad - Me

Top photo: Russell Almond, behind the pulpit at his church in Arkansas.

I’ve always attributed my drawing skills to the many years I spent doodling on the back of the church bulletin during my father’s sermons. The above sketch was done during his final sermon as a full-time minister. And don’t worry, Dad — I was also listening.

Bottom photo: Dad, Mom & me, November 1970 / Me, Papa & Jon, April 2014

25 Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!

June 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

As we approach Father’s Day, there have been some pretty cool lists about dads floating around the Internet. So of course I had to make a list of my own, ensuring families with double daddies (or one great gay dad) are represented.

I originally intended to intro my list with lots of statistics showing how more and more Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage and adoption. Or how same-sex couples will be counted as families by the U.S. Census for the first time. Or that gay dads have turned up in all manner of commercials and top-ranked TV shows. Or how I belong to a Facebook group of over 3,000 gay fathers.*

But instead let’s just celebrate what makes gay dads unique, as well as what makes them as equally awesome as all the other active, engaged and loving fathers out there.

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1. You’re raised to be caring & compassionate
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father's day - gay dads - compassion

And you learn how to put your compassion into action… and be all cute and matchy-matchy while doing it. [Photo courtesy of Andy Miller]
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SuperLunchNotes: The Power Of Dad…and Oral Hygiene

June 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Some of my favorite moments as a dad are ones I don’t even see. Like my son’s face when he finds the note I put in his lunch every day. I make them either the night prior or before he gets up the next morning; I then sneak them into his lunch bag, and send him off to preschool with Papa. I’ve heard plenty of compliments about them — from Jon’s teachers, his classmates, his classmates’ parents. And every afternoon when I pick him up, I ask Jon if he liked his note — you know, as a way to strengthen his memory recall and attention to detail…

So even though I don’t observe my son’s daily discovery, or get to see his friends huddled in anticipation of each new character, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been doing this for nearly a year now, and while it’s sometimes a chore to keep coming up with new ideas, it also forces me to think of something positive to say as I send him out into the world each day. It’s my little way of staying connected. A way to pass down my vast and vital knowledge of superheroes and pop culture. And it’s a way to use my powers as a Dad for good!

For this Father’s Day, I was included in a campaign for Oral-B called Power of Dad. One of the components was to post photos illustrating my paternal powers or other special fathering moments. I decided instead to dedicate a week’s worth of SuperLunchNotes to the campaign, while offering some much-needed reminders to my son regarding oral hygiene. I’m setting my #PowerOfDad to stealth mode.

Below are the notes, each captioned with a feature of Oral-B’s newest toothbrush, the Oral-B 7000 Black…and also a plug for their awesome floss.

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WEEK 43: June 2 – June 6, 2014 (Oral Hygiene Week)

Hulk  |  The Count  |  Wonder Woman  |   Venom  |  Princess Leia

hulk
Indicator® bristles remind you to replace your brush head every 3 months (sooner, if you’re a Hulk), or once they’ve faded halfway (or turned green, if you’re a Hulk).
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Being A Gay Dad is Full of Unscripted Moments

June 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

“Are you guys brothers?”

 “So which one of you does he belong to?”

“Which one of you breast feeds?”

“Can I get a mom?

Those are just a few of the questions I’ve heard since becoming a father four and-a-half years ago — as asked by my nephew, a cashier, multiple friends, and my son, respectively. As the title of this post states, there truly are no scripts when it comes to parenting. And being a gay father of an adopted son poses even more unique challenges.

A relatively minor — but no less annoying — challenge is finding a Father’s Day card for my husband. Like many gay fathers, we go by “Daddy” and “Papa.” Finding a Father’s Day card that says “Daddy” is no problem (so yeah, he’s got it easy). And while there are usually a few cards that are addressed to “Papa,” more often than not they are either geared more to Grandpa or are entirely in Spanish.

When I was tapped by Cardstore to be part of their Father’s Day #WorldsToughestJob campaign, one of the perks was getting to design my own card. The recommendation was to create one for Grandpa/my Dad, but I thought it would be more fun (and challenging) to make one for Papa. I was pleasantly surprised to find several selections that fit the bill, but one in particular caught my critical designer’s eye…

I love me some doodles! And this one was not only super cute, but also allowed me to customize the name on the front. So I popped in a “PAPA” (I got to choose from a ton of fonts, colors, sizes, etc.) and my cover was done!

Cardstore - #worldstoughestjob - papa 1

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R.I.P. M.A.

May 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

RIP-MA Rest In Peace Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1928-2014  Rest In Peace

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I initially published this drawing without words. How is it possible to honor someone so eloquent with any language of my own? But as I thought about Maya Angelou, I recalled a special memory I wanted to share.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published the year I was born, and from my earliest memories it sat on my parents’ vast bookshelves amongst my minister Father’s religious books, my English professor Mother’s literature, the World Book Encyclopedias. Long before I read Caged Bird, I remember asking my Mother about it, as the title (and cover) intrigued my young mind. She painted only the broadest strokes of the plot, but in the process I received my first lesson about racism.

The book is set in Arkansas, birthplace of Ms. Angelou, as well as both my parents, and home to nearly all my relatives. I lived there between the ages of 2 and 7, and one of my frequent playground pals was Felicia, a black girl. Racism was confusing when my Mother explained it then, and I dread the confused look on my son’s face when I explain it to him.

I’m thankful to Maya Angelou for finding beauty in the midst of horrible humanity, and for teaching generations (and generations to come) what it means to have hope.

Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Well-Rounded Dad

May 27, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

While much progress has been made in erasing the stereotype of clueless, styleless, one-dimensional dads, the old tropes seem to come back in full force each Father’s Day… Tie. Recliner. Grill. Power Tools. Yawn.

Designer Daddy is here to help you shop for the men in your life (or yourself) this Father’s Day, with something for each facet of the engaged, enlightened, well-rounded dad.

Also, YOU CAN WIN THIS ENTIRE LIST OF STUFF! Just enter the contest widget thingie at the bottom of the post (where it says “ENTER TO WIN,”) and on June 15th I’ll announce the lucky winner of…

The Designer Daddy
Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway
for the Well-Rounded Dad

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Father's Day Gift Guide & GIveaway - Hobie Polarized Sunglasses

THE EYES HAVE IT: Whether you’re surfing in Maui, biking cross-country or tooling around in a minivan full of munchkins, nothing says you’ve got it under control (or hides the fact that you don’t) like a good pair of shades. Hobie, long known for their surf wear, also has an extensive line of seriously slick sunglasses. Check me out sporting 3 different pair — which is your favorite? I know they all make me look fly, so how could you possibly choose? Available on Hobie’s web site or at Sports Authority. $70-$190

Father's Day Gift Guide & Giveaway - Hobie Polarized Sunglasses

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: 1 pair of Hobie Polarized sunglasses, any style (winner to choose from web site or catalog).

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Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Pennsylvania

May 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Same-sex marriage legal in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania:
Same-sex marriage legalized May 20, 2014. Marriages to commence posthaste!

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And then there were 19. Only a day after Oregon joined Team Gay (see infographic below), a Pennsylvania judge struck down the Keystone State’s marriage ban. If this were a game of Risk, the gays would have just overtaken Asia.

In addition to being the 18th state (plus DC) to legalize same-sex marriage, Pennsylvania is also the 10th state where a federal judge has struck down a marriage ban since SCOTUS overturned Prop8 and DOMA.

I’d been meaning to create a graphic mapping the progress of same-sex marriage in the US, but was busy getting married myself. As the states continue to join the cool kids’ table, I’ll update the map along with posting another magnet.
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN THE UNITED STATES

as of 5.20.14

same-sex marriage in the united states

Click to biggefy. Source: Wikipedia

Although I have plenty I could write about Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and Colorado (all places I’ve lived), I’m holding off celebrating until marriage equality is a 100% done deal in those states. If you want to know the specific statuses and legislative nuances of all the yellow states, click the Wikipedia link above. It’s convoluted, complicated political crap — but hey, it’s progress!

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or that of a reader. Take a look at some of the previous magnet posts!
For more fun and conversation, stop by the Designer Daddy Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter!

 


 

Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon.

Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Oregon!

May 19, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

same-sex marriage legal in Oregon

Oregon: Same-sex marriage legalized May 19, 2014. Weddings commenced immediately!

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In addition to keeping George W. Bush in office, the 2004 U.S. election brought about an avalanche of same-sex marriage bans, in the form of amendments to 13 state constitutions. While overall depressing, most of these were not shocking, as they were in predominantly conservative Southern and Midwestern states.

However, one marriage ban took most by surprise — Oregon. Long considered on par with neighboring Washington’s live-and-let-live liberalism, this defeat sat atop a mountain of disappointment as the rottenest cherry on the worst dessert ever.

Fast-forward 10 years (on the tenth anniversary of the first same-sex weddings performed in the U.S., to be exact) and a federal judge has struck down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban! With apparently no pending appeals or stays on the horizon, marriage licenses began being issued immediately following the announcement.

I grew up a nomadic military brat, never really having a solid answer to the question “Where are you from?” And while I may not remember being born or living in Illinois for the first year and-a-half of my life, I was deeply moved and even proud when my “home state” legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

My son may have even fewer ties to the state of his birth, as he only “lived” in Oregon for 2 weeks before we brought him home. Yet I am glad to be able to tell him that daddies and papas (and mommies and mamas) can now get married in “Portyand,” just like his Daddy and Papa just did in Maryland! Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon

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Every time a country or US state legalizes same-sex marriage, I post a photo of a magnet from either my fridge or that of a reader. Take a look at some of the previous magnet posts!

Same-sex marriage legal in Oregon.

SuperLunchNotes: April 7 – May 9

May 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

With everything going on, I haven’t had the chance to post any SuperLunchNotes in a long while (uh, five weeks it seems). I’ve also been pondering ways to better incorporate them into the blog without boring you/me to tears. What say you, readers? Would you like a daily dose of SLNs? Or are you fine just seeing them every couple of weeks? Other ideas?

While you ponder that, let’s catch up a bit, shall we?
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WEEK 35: Apr 7 – Apr 11, 2014

Bane  |  Black Widow  |  Captain America  |   Minions  |  Daniel Tiger

superlunchnotes - bane blackwidow superlunchnotes - captain america minions

I was growing weary of the theme weeks, so I just did a week’s worth that were top of mind. Bane was on an episode of a Batman cartoon we were watching — plus he’s one of the few Imaginext figures not to have been featured on a SuperLunchNote yet. Cap and Natasha were in the commercials for Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which Jon saw several times), and also in the movie — which Papa and I saw on a too rare date night. And the Minions popped up repeatedly on the DVD of Despicable Me 2, on heavy rotation in our house.

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Beware the Blark-Blark!

May 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Somehow I was able to convince Jon not to play outside after preschool yesterday. Both our allergies were killing us, and given the chance, he’d keep rolling around in the pollen-covered grass until his eyes swelled shut. I instead agreed to play Power Rangers upstairs after dinner. When we finished eating, I hauled my tired butt upstairs to our bedroom (AKA, Jon’s Playroom Annex), and fell to with the Power Rangers play.

I’m admittedly a longtime hater of Power Rangers, whether they’re Mighty Morphin’, Mega Forcin’, or Samurai Warriorin’. But if you’re going to play make-believe, the Rangers and their enemies make for some great inspiration. String together any number of nonsensical words, and you’ve got yourself a weapon, costume upgrade or villain that will fit seamlessly into the established vernacular of the never-ending series.

Case in point, meet Blark-Blark! A creature I made up on the fly, accessorized only by a pair of oven mitts. I’m not really sure of his origin, but his powers include stomping around yelling “BLARK-BLARK!”, shooting Blark missiles at random times/angles and of course, tickling.

blark blark - power rangers - dad

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And here’s Baby Blark-Blark. While his stomping may not be as loud or his tickling as effective, his Blark missiles are infinitely more deadly than his father’s, as they are infinitely more random in their aim and trajectory. Sometimes they don’t even come off, yet are still delivered with a forceful Baby Blark-Blark hand inside it.

blark blark - power rangers - jon

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What’s your child’s favorite form of make-believe play? Feel free to share your own creative ideas, as I’m always looking for more!

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