blogging

For Your Consideration, This Guy

February 17, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Field Trip to SCOTUS

If you’re in the parent blogging community, you may be familiar with the Iris Awards. If not, it’s kind of like the Oscars of parent blogging — minus the million dollar jewelry and with lots more children being told to go to bed.

Last year I was nominated in the Best Philanthropic Work category for the writing and fundraising I (and scores of others) did on behalf of Oren Miller and his family. It was an amazing and unexpected honor, particularly as Christy Turlington was also in that category. (Neither of us won, by the way. This awesome organization did.)

Now this is going to be a bit weird. It is for me, at least. But I’ve been trying to be more genuine and honest about the things I want in life — instead of defaulting to snark and passive-aggressiveness. So in the spirit of Putting Out into the Universe What I’d Like to Get Back…

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A Thank You Note to Straight People

July 6, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

The Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage couldn’t have happened without straight people — and not just the five Supreme Court justices that voted in favor of it…

Thank you Straight People, Love, A Gay Dad

Dear Straight People,

Thank you. Thank you for cheering right alongside us as we in the LGBT community celebrate a newfound, long-overdue measure of equality. Thank you for the endless sea of rainbow-colored photos. Thank you for voting. Thank you for teaching your children (and sometimes your parents) that not every family is the same, yet deserving of the same respect. Thank you for telling them that whether they grow up to love the opposite gender or their own, you will still love them. Thank you for encouraging them to be whoever they were meant to be. Thank you for trying to understand and to learn. Thank you for asking questions, even if you don’t always have the right words. Thank you for being fair and equal in your schools, your jobs, your churches, and your neighborhoods. Thank you for defending us in a fight, even when we’re not around. Especially when we’re not around.

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Dad 2.0 Summit 2015: A Community Reconvenes & Honors A Friend

March 21, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

There were several distinct differences between my first Dad 2.0 Summit and my second. I was a newbie before, now an old hand. After the previous conference, I left with heart and mind bursting at the seams with ideas and plans and inspiration; this year I was determined to come away with a more efficient focus on ways to be a better writer, a better father, a better man.

Yet the theme common to both — and to the times between and since — is community. Here are some highlights from this too-brief time communing in San Francisco with my Dad 2.0 family.
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KEYNOTES

Michael Kimmel, the opening keynote, spoke at length about what makes a good man and a good father. As a professor of sociology and gender studies, and the author of over 20 books, this was right in his wheelhouse. He talked about privilege, referencing one of his own quotes: “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” Kimmel was referring to men (particularly white men) and their inability to see their own advantage, when compared to women. In fact, the entirety of his talk revolved around men vs. women, and how the differences and comparisons determine how men are viewed (and view themselves) as fathers. Ironically, halfway through the keynote, I started to feel rather invisible. Not once did Kimmel mention gay men or gay dads. For me, being a dad has nothing to do with how I relate to women, but how I relate to my child. Afterwards I thought I might have been being overly-sensitive, yet over the course of that first day, half a dozen guys (one gay, the others straight) mentioned this same omission, wondering if I had noticed and how it had affected me. Admittedly, it threw me a bit. I was well aware the vast majority of the men at this conference were heterosexual; yet I didn’t expect to be reminded of that so prominently and so early in the conference.

Dad 2.0 Summit 2015

Silicon Valley execs talk innovations for working parents: Michael Rothman (Fatherly), Kevin McSpadden (Facebook), Tim Catlin (Change.org), Nina McQueen (LinkedIn)

The second keynote of the weekend was my favorite by far, as it featured a panel of Silicon Valley executives, talking about their respective company’s benefits, and the ways they support parents of any gender and families of any makeup. Particularly encouraging was the presence of Kevin McSpadden, the Director of Marketing at Facebook, and a fellow gay dad. Not only are these companies innovative in their technology, but in their appreciation of the balance between work and family life, regardless of what that family looks like.
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Eulogy for Oren Miller: A Blogger, A Father, A Friend

March 2, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Since my friend Oren Miller was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2014, I’ve written about him only once. Between Oren’s own devastating and inspiring words and those voiced by so many others, I’ve not felt the need to share my own. Perhaps because I was too close, too involved, or because I had the privilege of offering my support and friendship in person — my words have not found their way onto this page.

Last Wednesday I was able to share what were to be my final words and moments with my friend. Three days later, Oren passed away.

One of Oren’s greatest passions was for the words of modern fathers — regardless of the size of their audience or the strength of their voice — to be heard. His wife Beth asked me to speak at Oren’s funeral, and the flood of words finally came…

oren miller, blogger father and friend

Oren Miller at my wedding, April 26, 2014. Photo by Soo Park.

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I have the unimaginable honor today to speak about my friend Oren. And though you can’t see them, I’m standing here with more than 1,000 other men, who, like Oren and his online handle, are bloggers and fathers. We’re fathers from all across the country and around the world. We’re young and old, new and experienced fathers (and grandfathers). Fathers who work outside the home, and those that work at home, raising their children. Fathers of every ethnicity, religion and economic level. Straight, gay, bisexual, and transgendered fathers; biological, adoptive, divorced, single, step, estranged, and reunited fathers.

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Top 10 Unpublished Posts of 2014

December 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Top 10 Unpublished Blog Posts of 2014

Not long ago I was whining to my posse of dad bloggers that I had started writing several different posts, but then abandoned them in frustration and/or from a general lack of inspiration. Many of my fellow writers could relate, but my pal Zach chimed in that I should create a list of my top 10 unpublished blog posts, with a brief description of what they would have been about.

I loved the idea, but being the indecisive, lazy person that I am, took it a step further to make it into a way to avoid having to decide an interactive opportunity for you, dear reader. So… Can you pretty please help me decide which post I should finish next?

Take a moment and read through the headlines and synopses below, then tell me in the comments which one you’d most like to see finished. Or the one you hate least. Or just tell me they all suck and be done with it. The one with the most votes by midnight January 5 (EST) will be completed and published early in the New Year.

Without further ado, meet my unbirthed word babies…
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Being Present

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

I don’t know who first said it, but I heard my father weave it into countless sermons when I was growing up: “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d worked more,'”

The same struggle often plagues me when I’m busy chronicling my parental journey on this site. That’s not to say there aren’t some positive things to be gained from all the e-yammering I do. From time-to-time I’ll hear from a reader that something I’ve written resonated with them. Or an experience I shared was sweet or hilarious or inspiring. Interactions like those are precious to me, and keep me keeping at it. Yet I also know our family is as struggling and imperfect as anyone else out there not publishing sweet, hilarious, inspiring stories about their kids.

I’ve also heard more than a few times, “Your son will really appreciate reading all of this when he’s older.”

Maybe. Or he might be embarrassed and pissed off. He’ll most definitely think it’s lame — at least for a couple of years between learning to read and adulthood.

As with many (all?) modern parents, I get too wrapped up in not only chronicling, but also planning, prioritizing, scheduling, worrying about and second-guessing any and everything related to being a parent. And as with many modern parents, I risk missing out on the most important: being present.

I’m not talking about being around. I can spend 10 times the amount of hours with Jon as my husband does, but when Papa takes a few minutes to let him help water the lawn, or shows him how to play a game on the iPad, or calls Nonna with him, it can have more impact than an entire afternoon or running around doing errands or birthday parties or play dates or clothes shopping.

I’m not sure why it is — perhaps the onset of cooler weather or the start of my fifth year as a dad — but I’ve been more conscious of taking time to actually be with my son. To watch what he’s watching, to play what he’s playing, to interact and not just oversee. Starting dinner or banging out a few sentences or sketching a logo can wait a few minutes more.

One recent weekend we’d taken Jon to the movies, and after being cooped up in the dark for several hours, he ran straight to the backyard get his ya-yas out. Papa had gone out with him initially, but then I heard son and dog romping and yelping and having a good time, so I got up from the computer to watch from the kitchen door. I laughed and smiled as they chased each other and barked and hollered.

And then I stopped watching, walked through the door and got down on the ground with them. My little boy was enjoying himself with abandon, rolling around on the grass, pretending to be shot or swimming in lava or something equally perilous. He rolled my way and I saw his bright green shirt set against the still green grass, and then the sparkle of his blue eyes set something off in my heart. I was momentarily stilled with astonishment at how breathtakingly beautiful my son was. So I did exactly what the moment called for — I tickled him. This set off his eyes and his smile and the green and the blue even more. I kept tickling until I could get my phone out and snap a quick photo to capture just a sliver of the joy of the moment. Then I went back to being present and tickling and watching his eyes and his smile, and his green and his blue spin my world around and around and around.

smiling son - being present

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After you’ve spent some quality time with your kids, come hang out and like Designer Daddy’s Facebook page. No tickling, I promise!

BlogHer 2014: Proof I Was There

August 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES
BlogHer Voice Of The Year Honorees 2014

Click to enlarge (and to actually see my face)

If you’ve yet to read about my full (and inflamed) experience at BlogHer 14, go here. Otherwise, click on the photo above to see all the awesome Voices of the Year honorees, including yours truly under the giant “I WAS HERE!” scribble.

Thanks again BlogHer for a memorable conference and such wonderful, witty, talented company you put me in.

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For more me and other more interesting things, visit (and like) Designer Daddy on Facebook or follow Designer Daddy on Twitter.

I Went to a Conference for Women, and All I Got Was a Big Rash

July 30, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

JOCK ITCH. The “big rash” was actually jock itch; I just didn’t have the nerve to stick it up there in the title.

It was only midway through the first full day of BlogHer — a ginormous conference about blogging and social media, started by and primarily for women — when I realized I was miserable. I’d had more than my normal level of big-guy-thigh-chafe discomfort (AKA “Chub Rub”) from all the walking around, and I couldn’t stop scratching myself. I was, in fact, on fire.

I skipped whatever session I was planning on attending, and approached the concierge at my hotel to inquire about the closest drugstore. “There’s a Walgreen’s not too far away,” he said cheerily. He gave me quick directions and added, “It’s about a 15 minute walk.” Uh, no.

Getting desperate, I made a beeline for the taxis out front. And for whatever reason, said to the cabbie, “I hurt my foot and need to go to Walgreen’s to pick up my medicine. Can you wait for me there and bring me back?”

I’m sure I could have just asked him for a round-trip to Walgreen’s without adding my ruse. Perhaps I didn’t want to appear lazy. Or I wanted to make sure he understood I was crippled so he wouldn’t drop me off at the drugstore and abandon me. In any event, I was committed to it now, and I’m nothing if not committed.

As the cab stopped in front of the store, I told the driver I’d be about 5 minutes, then exited the car and proceeded to pull a reverse Keyser Söze, adding a slight limp to my few strides up to the drugstore’s door.

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Super Dad: Oren Miller!

June 26, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Riffing off my SuperLunchNotes, this summer I’m doodling a series of notes featuring some of my favorite dad bloggers… re-imagined as superheroes. Why? Because it’s fun. And because you should be reading these guys. And because I’ve gotten so much support from my community of blogging dad pals, I wanted to toss some good karma their way. I’m pretty super that way.
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SPECIAL EDITION
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MEET SUPER DAD OREN MILLER, A.K.A.

PROFESSOR O!

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Super Dad Oren Miller

About PROFESSOR O:
Origin:
The first time this father of two sat down to write, he spilled his coffee and a sippy cup of milk onto his laptop. As he frantically grabbed to salvage his computer, the caffeine and calcium fused into a super-technological compound, surged through his body, and immediately connected him to every other dad blogger — past, present or future!
Powers: Using only his mind, PROFESSOR O can seek out any dad blogger in the galaxy! He then connects them into a secret community where they learn how to use their own mutant blogging skills to squash stereotypes, offer support to one another, and advocate for fathers everywhere! He is also a master level blogger AND father: he can change minds and manipulate emotions through the written word, coordinate hundreds of dads with a few mouse clicks, and oversee a playdate complete with healthy snacks and an important life lesson thrown in for good measure.
Weaknesses: He gets really annoyed by exclamation points (!) and by the ever-changing Facebook group policies. Also hates Nazis.

About OREN MILLER:
Oren truly is a superhero to me and to the nearly 800 dad bloggers that belong to the Facebook group he started two years ago. Even before launching this informal group, he would search out new dads who were blogging and feature them on his site, A Blogger and a Father. This is how I first “met” him. I met him in real life a few months later, when he invited me to a meeting between several other parent bloggers and the governor of Maryland. There I was able to personally thank Governor O’Malley for all he did to pass same-sex marriage in our state — an opportunity that still boggles my mind and warms my heart.

I’ve not met anyone else in the blogging community with such a pure desire to connect and support people. His aspirations were never to appear on The Today Show or be the keynote speaker at a conference. His ambition is to find and build community, to start and continue dialog — not just about writing and social media, but about the struggles of life and the indescribable experience of being a father.

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EVEN SUPERHEROES NEED HELP
I had already planned to include Oren in this series of Super Dad notes, but this post is serving an additional, and vastly more important function…

At the end of May, Oren was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer had spread to several other organs, and he was given a prognosis of one year. Please take a moment and read his own words about this experience, as mine can’t begin to do it justice.

Shortly after his diagnosis, I started a fundraiser through GiveForward on behalf of our ragtag group of dads, with the hopes of raising $5,000 to send Oren, his wife, and two children on a family vacation. Within 12 hours it surpassed that goal, and now (less than 2 weeks later) stands to reach $30,000. The fundraiser has since pulled in many beyond his dad blogging community, with their generosity now earmarked for medical bills, education funds for the kids, as well as an unforgettable family vacation. To help attain (and surpass) this next benchmark, the extremely helpful and generous folks at GiveForward have offered to contribute $25 for each blogger who writes about Oren — up to $1000 (40 blog posts). By the time I publish this, I believe I’ll be number 40.

DON’T BE A BYSTANDER
If you have ever read and enjoyed my writing
, you have Oren Miller partly to thank. After my first year of blogging, I was considering giving it up, not having felt I’d connected with many people. Being featured on Oren’s site, joining the Facebook group, and having the privilege of calling Oren my friend have inspired me beyond measure. Not just as a writer, but as a father, a husband, and as a person on this planet.

Please consider adding your own contribution to this fund. It won’t bring a cure. It won’t buy more time. But it will extend the community of support for those Oren cares for most, connect you to something bigger than yourself, and make you — even if for a moment — a superhero.
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Oren and Brent

Oren and me at my wedding in April

Dad Blogger offspring

Future generations of parent bloggers goof around in Oren’s backyard.

 

Super Dad: Zach Rosenberg!

June 23, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Riffing off SuperLunchNotes, and inspired by requests from friends and readers of “Will you make MY lunch?!?” this summer I’m doodling a series of notes featuring some of my favorite dad bloggers… re-imagined as superheroes. Why? Because it’s fun. And because you should be reading these guys. And because I’ve gotten so much support from my community of blogging dad pals, I wanted to toss some good karma their way.

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MEET SUPER DAD ZACH ROSENBERG, A.K.A.

ZACHNEATO!

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super dad: zach rosenberg

About ZACHNEATO:
Origin:
When a bottle of Coke and a packet of Pop Rocks spilled onto a Ms. Pac-Man machine, ZACHNEATO emerged fully-formed, robed in pink, and ready to rule to world!
Powers: The ability to manipulate bits, bytes & blogs into anything he chooses. His hot pink robe and helmet make him impervious to Internet trolls and Twitter crashes.
Weaknesses: Without his fluffy pink armor, ZACHNEATO is susceptible to attack from his arch-nemesis, MR. A!

About ZACH ROSENBERG:
ZACH is the more vocal (and more pink) half of the blog 8BitDad. He and co-founder Bryan Ferguson have been making the blogosphere crackle with smarts and silliness since 2011(ish). They’ve got the comics/sci-fi/gamer beat covered, and do their fair share of reporting on all things fatherhood — particularly how it’s portrayed in the media. He is also a father and husband, and his favorite superhero really is Magneto. Or maybe Batman.

8BitDad 101:
The Ugly Truths Behind Caillou, Curious George and Max & Ruby
25 Reasons Kids Should Be Left Alone With Their Dads (I’m at #17. This list inspired my own)
Observations On Dad-Bias In 140 Commercials From 2013
BONUS: Their archive of hilarious video podcasts

 

 

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