family traditions

Proud Papa Gallery of Greatness 2014

June 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS

Father’s Day has come and gone, and yet those of us who are dads are still dads, and still have dad stuff to do. One of the most important is instilling self-confidence and a sense of achievement in our children. Stereotypes dictate fathers only appreciate the physical accomplishments of their children — especially for their sons. But the best dads appreciate the artistic as well as the athletic — and man have I found a great bunch of art-loving dads for this year’s (POST) FATHER’S DAY PROUD PAPA GALLERY OF GREATNESS!

Welcome to our virtual fridge, take your time, and please visit the gift shop on your way out.

Please note that many of the images can be enlarged if clicked on. So click and enjoy!

Artwork credits key:
Title of work

medium
Artist name, age
Father of artist (links to their website/blog)
Artist’s (or artist’s dad’s) description

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THE CLASSICS

 

GADDIS-MONET
Monet

tissue paper, construction paper
markers on paper
Chris, 5
Carter Gaddis
Based on the Water Lilies series.
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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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Do Gay Dads Celebrate Mother’s Day?

May 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

do gay dads celebrate mothers day

Gay men have always had complicated relationships with women. Whether it’s the first girl’s heart we break, the best friend’s boyfriend we steal, or the mothers we disappoint — even without the complexities of a physical relationship (although those do happen from time-to-time), our interaction with the fairer sex can be rather difficult to navigate.

This is particularly true when it comes to gay dads on Mother’s Day.

As one of two fathers of an adopted son, my thoughts about Mother’s Day — and my son’s lack of Mom — have ranged over the years from gut wrenching to indifferent and everything in between. When our infant would make the sound “mama,” we would quickly and (half) jokingly correct him, “No… it’s ‘O-bama!’” Wasn’t there a way we could keep him from ever learning “the M word?”

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I was part of a panel discussion on HuffPost Live about how and why Mother’s Day is difficult for some gay dads. Click below to watch the full segment.

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Our son came to us through an open adoption, which meant our son would be raised knowing who his birthmother was. It also meant it fell to his Papa and I to communicate with the birthmom several times a year, and even plan annual family visits.

The first couple of visits were some of the most difficult days of my life. Every bit of my insecurity was on the surface, watching and waiting for this woman to do or say something I would take as a sign she hadn’t let go. Or worse yet, that she was somehow planting seeds that would someday cause my son to want her back.

By loving my son and simply being his Dad on a daily/weekly/yearly basis, those fears have dissipated. And while I’m sure there are challenges ahead (my son’s not yet 5), I now stand secure in the fact that I am his parent and nothing can change that. This confidence and security has allowed me to help him know of and celebrate his birthmother in new and ever-evolving ways.

So while she is certainly his biological mother — and we are eternally grateful to her for choosing us as his parents — she is not our son’s “Mother.”

So do we celebrate Mother’s Day? Do any gay fathers celebrate Mother’s Day?

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My Big Gay Wedding, Part 2: The Daddy Album

May 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I rarely use the word “perfect,” but our wedding day — long in the planning and exponentially longer in the legalizing — was about as near perfection as it gets. And since I’ve been yammering on and on about it for so long, I wanted to share some (more*) of the highlights of this truly blessed event.

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gay wedding - ceremony

gay wedding - scripture reading

Nick’s sister Rosella read from I Corinthians about love and all it entails, the same passage his other sister Dana had read at our commitment ceremony..

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My Big Gay Wedding, Part 1: The Designer Album

May 7, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Narrowing down the photos I wanted to share from our big gay wedding was a daunting task — too many wonderful images and memories to choose from! So I’ve divided them into two albums representing my Gemini-esque personae: Designer and Daddy.

This one — the Designer Album — features details, graphics, colors and all the minutia I obsessed over to make our special day a little special-er. You can see the Daddy Album here. And thanks for your patience — I had to wait nearly 17 years to legally marry the man I love, so I figured folks could wait a few days to see more pics of my adorable kid.

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GAY WEDDING - INVITATION

YOU’RE INVITED. From early in the planning stages, it was obvious to Papa and I that a marriage between two people that had been together for 16+ years should get some props for longevity. There weren’t going to be doves descending from the heavens and whisking us away to a magical happily ever after. This was about commitment and family and roots and the journey it took to get here.

So I came up with a stylized brick motif. Bricks may not conjure romantic imagery, but they are vitally important in that they build roads for life’s travels and the foundation for a home. They fit and work together to guide, protect and stabilize.

GAY WEDDING - INVITATION OPEN

The front of the invitation unfolds to reveal a “road” leading us home.* I wanted to not only communicate the ceremony would be at our house, but also emphasize the importance of home to our relationship and our family. It also set the tone for the celebration — warm, informal and all about the love.
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So let’s get to the photos of the actual day, shall we? By the way, the fabulous Piper Watson shot all of the wedding day photos. Please hire her — she is a sweet photographer and an even sweeter spirit.

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A Family Walk In The Woods

April 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been taking family walks in the woods since our only child was four-legged. Actually a bike path near the local dog park, it’s always been a great place to let Cordi sniff and poop and run around off-leash. (Not fond of dog parks, our baby girl’s more fond of her people.) The path also offers a quiet escape, a shady respite from the summer/spring/autumn heat. And it’s the perfect place to find rocks for Papa to border the landscaping in our yard.

So this past weekend we set off on a family walk/rock hunting expedition, so Papa could get some rocks and check off an item on his pre-wedding to-do list. We loaded up the four-legged kid, the two-legged kid and the wagon, which was for hauling rocks, and ultimately, a tired two-legged kid.

A Walk In The Woods Papa and JJ

As evidenced by the hat and shirt, JJ had been to a friend’s birthday party earlier that day at the neighborhood fire station. It was Papa’s turn to take him (I took him to a party last weekend), but it was Papa’s second fire station party. I think I need to plan better next time, or just claim dibs on the next party featuring firemen. Just sayin’…

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#TBE (Throwback Easter)

April 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

With wedding plans having taken up so much time lately, Easter has been relegated to an afterthought. Having grown up the son of a preacher man, Easter was a pretty big deal. I’ve always wondered what families that celebrate just the bunnies and egg hunts and craploads of candy get out of Easter. But now we’re kind of one of those families, so when I realized we weren’t going to my parents’ house for the Big E, I felt, I don’t know…nostalgic. Perhaps homesick? Maybe even the tiniest bit guilty.

I’m thinking maybe my mom’s super psychic mom-powers are enhanced during Holy Week, because now she and my dad are driving the almost 2 hours to visit us. It’s more likely they want to smooch on one of their favorite grandsons, seen here in a Throwback Easter pic from two years ago…
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throwback easter bunny

Yes, he’s going to hate me for this someday. I don’t care.

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So while having my parents around will ease some of the glumness I felt last week, it won’t keep me from being nostalgic about this little bunny boy who continues to grow and grow by leaps and bounds, and who no longer allows me to dress him up in such adorable humiliating get-ups.

Sigh. I could stare at this all day…but I gotta go hide some eggs. Happy Easter everybody!

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

April 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

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

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11 Ways Not to Treat Your Kid Like a Kid Brother

April 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

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.
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