holidays

How a Mother’s Day Card Made This Gay Dad Proud

May 23, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF

Mother's Day Card

Before I got deep into the mechanics of actual parenting, what gave me the most agita was this whole open adoption thing. The stress was there from the beginning — like the weirdest arranged marriage you could imagine, with a baby thrown in for good measure. It evolved into a whole different kind of anxiety when we were actually paired with birthparents, growing incrementally as the due date crept closer.

After our son was born, the distance increased and contact lessened. Yet the relationship with birthmom and dad was still there, looming off in the horizon like some celestial monkey wrench, a constant (perceived) threat to our familial peace and harmony.

Our son has been told his story from the get-go, as we continually remind ourselves this transparency is for the best. But there’s always the fear of the unknown, be it far off or soon. Fear that our son will be teased for being adopted; that he’ll learn something disappointing about his biological parents; that he’ll throw the “You’re not my real dad!” grenade in the midst of an argument.

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And Just Like That… 20 Years

April 29, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

20 year anniversary

This morning started like any other Monday. Rushing and scurrying and reminding and reminding and reminding. Breakfasts and showers and dressing and packing up, all culminating in a mad dance between kitchen and front door. Stashing a note in a lunchbox, a library book in a backpack; shooing the dog away lest she get stampeded.

But from across the room, our 7-year-old — in great anticipation of becoming 8 very soon — asked if today’s date was the 30th.

Putting down a paring knife and checking the calendar on the fridge door, I corrected him, “No, it’s the 23rd” I said loudly over the din of the TV, followed quickly by, “Are your shoes on yet?”

I glanced over at Papa, who had taken my knife to cut up some fruit for his on-the-road breakfast. I gave him a questioning look. “Is it today? Or the 26th?”

He questioned back, “I thought it was the 21st.”

I checked my phone’s calendar and confirmed it was today. I started to explain to my inquisitive kid what was special about today, but then it was time for he and Papa to scurry out the door, and me on with my day.

Like any other day, but 20 years to the day that Nick and I went on our first date. It was also the day we started our family. For a long, long time, that was the only anniversary we had — so it wasn’t something we had to jog our over-40-parent-aged memories to recall.

And as a gay couple 20 years ago, this was the only anniversary we thought we’d ever have. Several years later, we had a commitment ceremony. It was close to our original anniversary date, so we didn’t add a new one. And we never imagined we’d end up adding yet another anniversary to mark our legal marriage to one another. But we did, many more years later, but in April. So now we had a couple three anniversary dates. After our son was born (the first week of November) and we had managed to barely survive a two week period that included our anniversary, Halloween, and his birthday, we decided to instead celebrate on our legal wedding day (in April) giving late October/early November some room to breathe.

So on this ordinary Monday in the midst of our extraordinary life that includes two decades of love, a son about to turn eight, and a life I never imagined, I say to my husband, Happy Anniversary.

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Epilogue: I wrote this is in October around our original (dating) anniversary. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it then, but it’s a safe bet it was because of the aforementioned stress around that time of year. First date, commitment ceremony, wedding. October 23, November 3, April 26 — they’re all just days. But they’re also places to pause and remember, cherish, and recommit along the 7,300+ day journey we’ve travelled together so far. Here’s to many, many more. Smu, B

December SuperLunchNotes: Making Mealtime Merry!

January 8, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

December flew by like an icy, winter wind, scattering wrapping paper, dried up pine needles, and a smattering of holiday-themed lunch notes. So before I get too mired in the new year, here are December’s SuperLunchNotes!

I didn’t try to force themes onto each week, mainly because there were very few full weeks in December due to regular recurrences of holidays, bad weather, and sickness. Yet each note did have a bit of Christmas flair… or Hanukkah pizzaz in one case.

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12.1 Star Butterfly

December SuperLunchNotes Star vs the Forces of Evil

Star Butterfly is the lead character in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, one of the new batch of weird and wacky cartoons Jon has been watching lately. Though odd, I dig that Star is a powerful princess who takes no guff AND has a super sparkly wand! And several head-only Unicorns as pets. Like I said… odd.

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Give Your Kids the Gift of Teaching Them About Racism

November 27, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED
Safety Pin Box - Racism

© Safety Pin Box LLC

For a long time, I prided myself on being a good dad when it came to teaching my son about race. But I’ve fallen short; and in all likelihood, so have most white parents.

I think back to when Jon was little, and how we didn’t use the words “Black” or “white” when referring to race; instead using “brown” and “peach” to indicate skin color. And whenever he would tell me about a new friend or teacher, I’d do this uptight, liberal, word-twist thing where I’d ask him to describe the person using everything but their skin color. And I’ll admit to still feeling a bit of pride every time my eight-year-old makes a non-white friend.

All of these may seem good-hearted or complimentary, but all they accomplish is centering me and my white child; not really teaching either of us anything about racism. I thought that if I avoided the terms “Black” and “white,” I’d somehow avoid exposing my child to the scariness of racism. Yet all I’ve done is dilute its true impact on people of color.

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Have a Crafty Halloween with Amazon Prime!

October 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amazon, as part of my participation in the Mom It Forward Influencer Network; the content and opinions are my own.

Since my son’s very first Halloween, I’ve had a blast channeling my creativity into our family’s costumes. I love the challenge of trying to pull together something unique, fun, and not too difficult — all while placating the kid and not embarrassing the husband (too much).

This year I’m kicking the challenge up a notch in a partnership with Amazon… our costumes will include repurposed Amazon Smile boxes! The official term is “BOXTUME,” by the way.

GET STARTED!

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After you’ve read through my step-by-step directions, go grab all the Amazon Smile boxes you can find, get to brainstorming, and come up with your own boxtume masterpiece! If you don’t have any boxes, take the opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping, or empty out your own wish list! Amazon Prime has pretty much anything you need (including everything used to make these costumes!) and has the fastest — and free-est — delivery around!

Then snap a photo of your cardboard creations and share it on social media using the hashtag #Boxtumes.

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OUR COSTUMES

First of all, I didn’t want to make anything too literally boxy. Who wants to walk around a party or crowded sidewalk in a giant box? That’s a spilled bag of candy waiting to happen!

So to keep things relatively easy, these start with a toga base. Why togas? Togas are comfy, simple to make, and can be easily layered with long johns or sweats if it’s chilly on trick-or-treat night. Also because I came up with some awesome visual puns around everyone’s favorite toga-wearer, Caesar!

LIL’ CAESAR

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

Click for extra-sized adorableness!

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DDQ&A: Andy Alexander, The Grim Wreather

October 17, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

A couple of months ago, Andy Alexander reached out to me about helping promote his line of custom Halloween wreaths. I get a lot of requests like this, but they rarely meet my two requirements of A) being related to kids/family/pop culture, and B) looking cool as hell. Not only did Andy’s work fit the bill, but he’s also a fellow gay dad! So instead of just sharing a blurb on Facebook, I wanted to dust off the old DDQ&A questionnaire so you can all get to know Andy, his family, and his work.

BONUS: Scroll down after the interview and enter to win one of Andy’s Grim Wreather creations just in time for Halloween!

Q&A with designer dad Andy Alexander

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Walk me through the highlights of your design career .
I got my MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; I studied fine art at UCLA as well. I took my first design classes at Art Center knowing that I’d eventually need a “real” job. After college I worked for Belkin doing interface design for gaming hardware, then for Geoff McFetridge (who I consider a mentor), and then at Napster from 2004-2010. There I started as a designer, working my way up to Creative Director, managing the internal design group. I was laid off during the 2010 recession and decided to carve my own path in both the art and design world. And here I am!

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Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)

June 20, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Father’s Day has come and gone, and probably so have your hopes for getting something you really wanted. Don’t get me wrong — handmade cards, semi-cooked/burned breakfast in bed, and extra hugs are all priceless. But admit it, you were also hoping for something that had a literal price. Something you’d actually use, wear, eat, or read.

Once again, Designer Daddy is here to help… albeit a little later than usual.

Check out this collection of self-gifting solutions, then enter to win the full slew of swag (Total giveaway value: over $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 27 I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)!

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Gift Guide & Giveaway for Dad

GIFT RECEIVED: Nose hair trimmer

GIFT TO GIVE YOURSELF: Stash Box grooming kit from Triumph & Disaster

While you appreciate your kids thinking of you and the random hair you have sprouting up in new places, you’d like to handle your own grooming, thankyouverymuch. And it’s a known fact that the more mature you get, the more you get to spend on yourself. Triumph & Disaster has an impressive collection of skincare products for a man’s face, hair, and body. They combine the best of science with the best of nature to create naturally derived but scientifically engineered products. The Stash Box includes Old Fashioned Shave Cream, Badger Hair Shave Brush, Gameface Moisturizer, and Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub. Available from Triumph & Disaster. $150.00
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12 Days of Christmas Lunch Notes

January 2, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

12 days of christmas superlunchnotes

As with many of my ideas, this one started bright but with very little planning — certainly not enough to allow for the predictable unpredictableness of the holidays.

“I SHOULD DO A ’12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS’ SUPERLUNCHNOTES! I’M SO NIFTY & CREATIVE! AND I’M SURE I CAN THINK OF ALL TWELVE, SO THERE’S NO NEED TO PLAN THIS OUT VERY FAR IN ADVANCE!”

I was zipping along doing a note a day to culminate on Christmas Eve. But then my 7 year-old got sick. Then some work crises sprung up. Then I traveled to Texas for a friend’s funeral. Mix in all the seasonal insanity of shopping, decorating, planning — and for the first time in our new house — hosting, and that puts me here, on January 2nd, posting about Christmas. Right on schedule.

In my defense, my (after-the-fact) research shows that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is in fact about the days following December 25th, not those preceding it. Ergo, this post is actually a little ahead of schedule. Gold star for me. ⭐

Blah, blah, blah — here are the notes, along with a few notes on the notes.

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‘Twas 10 Days Before Christmas: Playing Santa With Google Home

December 15, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.

Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!

But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.

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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.

As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

Google Home helps parents play Santa

In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”

Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Uncommonly Good Dads

November 25, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Holiday Gift Guide for Dad

I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.

One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.

For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…

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