family traditions

Barilla Wants to Share the Table, Even with Same-Sex Parents

April 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Barilla, but opinions are my own.

In September of last year, the chairman of Barilla made the following statements in a radio interview:

“I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect
but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays
a fundamental role. … If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.” 1

“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who
is not able to choose.” 2

Like many others, I found Guido Barilla’s comments ignorant, insulting and infuriating. Our family is made up of two gay dads (one of whom is Italian) and an adopted son, all of us consumers of large amounts of pasta. I’m not sure there were any ways left to offend us. So like many others, our family made a conscious decision not to buy their products again.

While I’d heard of efforts on the part of Barilla to make amends, I paid them little mind. I was skeptical they could do anything to salvage a relationship with the LGBT community and our allies.

But then I was asked to take part in Barilla’s Share the Table campaign. And I was approached specifically because I’m a gay father. I learned they’d also enlisted other LGBT bloggers, including fellow parents Polly Pagenhart and Vikki Reich.

According to the materials I was given and my own research, Barilla has been making changes ever since the interview and subsequent boycott. They met with and received counsel from GLAAD; established a Diversity & Inclusion Board and appointed a Chief Diversity Officer; participated in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index; and as evidenced by this post, they want to partner with influencers in the LGBT community as part of Share the Table, to ensure families of all kinds are included.

We’ve all heard plenty of corporate apologies, yet this invitation resonated because it was made directly to me. And as I read more about Barilla’s inclusiveness in regards to the importance of family meal time, I was immediately reminded of our trip to Italy two years ago.

Barilla #ShareTheTable Italy family dinner

One of many long and wonderful meals around Nonna’s table


11 Ways Not to Treat Your Kid Like a Kid Brother

April 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

A couple of days ago my youngest brother (B4*) became a dad. About a week before the due date, we met for lunch and I gave him this:

jj cole

Yup, a diaper bag. I’m THAT awesome of a big brother.

But it wasn’t just any old bag, but a JJ Cole** diaper bag, which — until I handed it to him and told him what it was — my brother thought was my laptop bag. Mission accomplished JJ Cole, on making a diaper bag even a heterosexual/DC attorney/new dad would carry!

In addition to the awesome gift-giving, great BBQ and quality time with my baby bro, the significance of this gift was, well… pretty significant. Because his was the first diaper I ever changed.

I’m the oldest of four brothers and he’s the youngest, eleven years my junior. So I indeed had the privilege of cleaning his poopy baby butt. And as he sometimes wore cloth diapers, he got stabbed with a diaper pin at least once several times. But that wasn’t the worst (or last) bit of pain or hardship inflicted upon him by an elder sibling.

So to make up for a lifetime of torture, I’m giving B4 some unsolicited parenting advice, inspired by the tribulations he endured as the runt of the family. To clarify, these are based on real events, just not all initiated by me. I’m not saying which of his three older brothers did which deed, but mine were of the sneakier, less violent variety.

Do You Have That ICK Factor?

April 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE


Designer Daddy, in conjunction with Life of Dad, in conjunction with How To Be A Dad & Mom Spark, in conjunction with Clorox, is hosting an EP-ICK event on Twitter this Wednesday! It’s the CLOROX ICK AWARDS! But what’s with all the conjunctioning, and what makes this so EP-ICK? (Sorry, that was too clever not to repeat)


So, I’m Engaged… Again

March 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MY 2 DADS, SCRAPBOOKING

Our nuptials are swiftly approaching. In fact, the invitation has become something of an epic endeavor (this should come as a shock to no one who knows me well) so I probably shouldn’t even be talking to you until it’s done. However, I did happen to squeeze out a save the date…


The photo is from a failed attempt at a family Christmas photo, but was just too wackadoo not to use. Plus this is how we actually look most of the time.

So about the “engaged again” bit.


Fridge Wisdom: Same-Sex Marriage in Scotland? Aye!

March 4, 2014 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES

With the recent barrage of news concerning LGBTQ rights, you may have missed (as I did) the latest addition to the list of nations legalizing same-sex marriage.

Somewhere between Michael Sam and Sochi, amidst a swirling stew of good news and bad, from all corners of the United States and around the globe, same-sex marriage became legal in Scotland.

scotlandScotland, legislation passed by Scottish Parliament February 2014; currently awaits Royal Assent. Same-sex marriages expected to begin Autumn 2014. McFabulous.


Real Men Stop and Smell the Roses

February 27, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, WHAT ABOUT DAD?

The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

I still remember the first time I got flowers. It was my first serious relationship, and they were delivered to the graphic design studio where I was working—my first job in DC. It was an open air setup (with glass walls, cubicles and such) so everyone could see when they arrived. It was Valentine’s Day, and my boyfriend had sent me a huge arrangement in a vase, which sat on the shelf in my cube for about a week, attracting non-stop Oohs and Awws from my female co-workers and comments like “You must have really put out” from the men. I was a wee bit embarrassed for being on the spot, but mostly loved the attention, and especially the thoughtfulness of my guy.

Just after this past Valentine’s Day, I asked a bunch of guys if they’d ever received flowers—if they liked it or not, if it made them feel embarrassed or emasculated, etc. Here are some of my favorite answers—which of course all support my philosophy that Real Men Stop and Smell the Roses.

“Good flowers, the ones that live longer than a mayfly, are great to give and greater to get. The closest thing I have to a spouse right now is John, who sent me a vaseful when I was in the hospital last fall. It was perfect.”
Doug, former WWE wrestler, stunt double for John Cena*


How I Met Your Father

February 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MY 2 DADS, SCRAPBOOKING

A couple of days ago, The Huffington Post published a call for submissions — they were looking for stories of how parents met their significant other, but as if told to their children (a la How I Met Your Mother).

And since they only wanted a paragraph, you lucked out. Us old timers can get a bit long-winded. So my dearest JJ, below is The Story of How I Met Your Father


Daddy & Papa, circa 1997


Utah Presses Pause on Same Sex Marriage


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:


Fridge Wisdom: Utah Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

December 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | FRIDGE WISDOM, LEARNING CURVES


Utah: same-sex marriage legalized/first marriages performed, December 20, 2013 (Magnet courtesy of Bryan Almond & Jonathan Bailey. Fridge courtesy of Johnny & Beverly Almond)

Hot on the heels of New Mexico (which was hot on the heels of Hawaii), one of the bastions of conservatism in the United States has out-of-nowhere legalized same-sex marriage. I’m sure my post from a couple of weeks ago on Hawaii had something to do with it, where I (not really) predicted this outcome:

Yet same-sex marriage is becoming such a common occurrence that many media outlets don’t deem it sensational enough to cover. Perhaps they’re holding out for Utah or a Carolina or the Grand Wizard of all conservative states (that would be Texas, y’all) to change its right-wing ways before making marriage equality front page news again.*

Much has already been written about what Utah’s district court decision means for the rest of the states, for the country as a whole, for those opposed to marriage equality, who’s happy about it, who’s not happy, who’s surprised by it, who’s not… well, probably not that last one. Of course I was shocked, too. And for about a minute I considered a snarky headline like “Big Gay Love” or “Hasa Diga Homophobes”.

Yet this has a more personal connection for me. In addition to being the Mormon Mecca, it’s the adopted home of my younger (and also gay) brother. While he’s shared with me some of the ways having an older gay brother has been helpful, I know it’s also been a hindrance at times. He had to go through his own struggle and discovery, all within the shadow of a brother who was already in a long-term, committed relationship. Every relationship he had would be compared to Papa (already well-entrenched in the family); every decision, every step out of the closet compared to mine. While not entirely true, that’s how it felt to him a lot of the time.

And my journey — while over 10 years long — began in Texas and ended when I moved to DC, Bryan’s has taken him all over the country and the world, always hoping to find a place to call his own. And when he ended up in Salt Lake City, I was skeptical of how it would turn out. I worried that it could only mean more struggles and more disappointment. But it’s grown on him, and he, it. He loves many things about his new city and state, has a great new job, and has made many friends who accept him for who he is. And he’s been dating a really nice guy (Big Brother Approved!); they plan to move in together in the spring.**


So this post is dedicated to my little brother Bryan, as well as all of the LGBT Utahans, their loved ones and supporters. Thank you for sticking it out, staying true to yourselves, and for giving us all such a wonderful Christmas surprise.

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*Texas and the Carolinas, we’re coming for you!

**I’ve already warned him I’d kill him if he got married now. A) He hasn’t been with his boyfriend all that long, and B) there’s no way in hell he’s getting legally married before me!

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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 from that of a reader. Why a fridge magnet? Good question — I’ll think about that one and get back to you. In the mean time, take a look at the previous magnet posts.


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



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.