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10 Life Lessons from 10 Years of Marvel Films: GIF Edition

May 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel celebrates ten years amassing the money-makingest film franchise in history. They’ve also made some really great movies. And mixed in amongst the epic battles, amazing effects, and side-splitting one-liners there lies a wealth of character-building wisdom. One might even say gems of wisdom.

Just a little over a year into the MCU Decade, I became a father. Few things have given me more joy as a dad than introducing my son to these characters and these films… at age appropriate times, of course. 😉

So as a galactic-sized THANK YOU to Marvel and Disney, I’ve pulled together 10 of the great life lessons I’ve gleaned from the films. While my intention was to impart these nuggets to my kiddo, they’ve certainly taught me a thing or two, too.

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1. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
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Superheroes don’t just throw big punches, they’re also often very, very smart. Geniuses Bruce Banner, Shuri, and Tony Stark have used their knowledge of science and technology to give them an edge against that universe’s bullies. Just don’t rely too much on your smarts, or you might accidentally create a sentient robot set on destroying humanity.

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Drag Queens, Wrestlers, and the Life of a Gay Dad

March 18, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE
Drag Queens and Wrestlers

Jon meeting his first drag queen, 2013; Jon (and dads) at his first WWE match, 2018.


For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience.
The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.

Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.

Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:

“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

January 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy Best of 2017

For anyone who wasn’t a straight, white, Christian man, 2017 was a hell of a year. Yes, our Reality Star-in-Chief made a couple of appearances on the blog — how could he not? The year also saw struggles for the trans community, convos with my kid about sex, and family game night made more tolerable by booze. It wasn’t an easy year, but it certainly was eventful. These are my 10 favorite blog posts of 2017.

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The ABCs of Trump: Words My Kid Has Learned Since 45 Took Office

August 31, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

The other day my 7-year-old was chatting away about some odd thing or another — a not infrequent occurrence. But this time instead of pretending to understand words like Zombie Pigmen or Squirtle, I heard a word I recognized: egomaniac. I didn’t catch the context, but knew immediately why this had entered my son’s lexicon: Trump. This got me wondering… What other words has my kid learned since DJT became president?

As a candidate and up through his first 222 days in office (but who’s counting?), 45 has introduced the American people to new levels of divisiveness, self-involvement, and volatility. He’s also introduced Americans — and our children — to a whole lot of new words.

Some of these are words adults don’t typically teach to kids due to them being entirely inappropriate. Many are words whose definitions have been tainted by POTUS-association. And quite a few are completely made up — maniacally spewed from Cheeto-In-Chief’s raging maw.

So as it’s a brand new school year, I’ve compiled a vocabulary list — an ABCs of the unfortunate, vulgar, disturbing words my child and others have learned these recent dark months.

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THE ABCs of TRUMP

WARNING: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.

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A is for ARMAGEDDON

Armageddon was one of those films I look forward to watching with my son in a few years. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, devouring popcorn and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Now the actuality looms on the horizon, thanks to our posturing POTUS. Where’s a squad of slow-motion-walking misfits you need them?  Additional As: arrogant; alternative facts; alt-right
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ABCs of Trump
B is for BIGLY

His ego knows no bounds — so it made sense Trump would make up a word to exaggerate his exaggerations. But it turned out that a) he was maybe saying big league instead; and b) bigly is an actual word, though categorized by Dictionary.com as archaic (meaning nobody uses it anymore, so you’re weird if you do). Either way, Merriam-Webster honored bigly as one of the most-searched words in 2016. And what was the top Word of the Year for 2016? Surreal. Bonus Bs: buffoon; Breitbart; blowhard; bigot

(Aren’t you proud I made it through that without a single joke about Trump’s decidedly non-bigly hands?)
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Make Game Night Great Again: Board Games & Cocktail Pairings!

May 4, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Board games have been a favorite family pastime for nearly a century, purporting to bring parents and children together and teach valuable skills like colors and stuff. But as many families know, what they really do is drive deep, pie-shaped wedges between spouses, create world-conquering rivalries between siblings; and generally scare the bejesus out of the cat. Even on game nights not boiling over with incessant whining and arguing, there’s still the mind-numbing boredom.

And yet, it is our duty as involved parents — nay, as Americans — to subject ourselves and our progeny to these worlds overflowing with candy and ladders and murder weapons and New Jersey real estate.

I’ve found that a little libation makes any activity run more smoothly. Classy folks look to experts for pairings of alcohol with their cheeses, meals, or cigars. You can even find wine to go with Girl Scout cookies. So why not match up cocktails with board games?

board games & cocktail pairings

I polled a bunch of parents to learn their most-hated games. Then I played them all with my kid while I drank a bunch of stuff to see which combos were most fun tolerable. Here are my scientific/strategic/spirited recommendations.
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If Trump Were My Kid: 17 Bits of Fatherly Advice for the New President

January 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.

One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.

Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.

So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.

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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.


If Donald Trump Were My Kid: Fatherly Advice for the New President

What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
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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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Did You Get Dad What He Really Wanted for Father’s Day?

June 18, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Did you get Dad what he really wanted for Father's Day?

I’ll bet if someone took a poll (and I did) asking dads what they really wanted for Father’s Day, there’d be a lot of answers like these:
🙂 Do something fun with my kids
🙂 Do “something fun” with my partner
🙂 Take a nap
🙂 Eat good food, drink good drink
🙂 Health and long life

There would also be a couple of “Jimi Hendrix’s Stratocaster” and “world peace” answers in the mix, but you get the gist. What fathers really and truly want is time with family, good health, and a happy (sleep-filled) existence.
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But what does Dad actually get?

Based on another poll (& personal experience) it likely included the following:
a tie 🙁 socks 🙁 underwear 🙁 golf tees 🙁 a mug 🙁 key chain 🙁 paperweight 🙁 t-shirt 🙁 an apron 🙁 a coozie 🙁 coupon book 🙁 weird crafts 🙁 a chamois 🙁 box of half-inflated balloons

Sounds like a swag bag from the lamest convention ever.

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19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable

March 1, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Things My Kid Has Eaten - SmartyPants Vitamins

As parents, one of the most common struggles is getting our kids to eat. To eat healthy. To eat what’s set before them. To eat at all.

My son’s mealtime issues are multi-tiered — a parfait of frustration, if you will. Sitting still (or down) is a frequent battle; and as he’s gotten older, he’s become more resourceful in acquiring between-meal snacks. But the biggest hurdle has been his continuously dwindling palette, particularly when it comes to vegetables. While we do sneak them in sometimes (pureed cauliflower in pasta sauce is a favorite), the fact remains he won’t knowingly put any sort of vegetable in his mouth.

But before I go on… If you’re one of those Type A parents whose kids have eaten only well-balanced, organic, locally-grown meals since birth, you can just keep on scrolling. We have plenty of inadequacy on our plate already. And besides, don’t you have some homemade kale-quinoa-almond milk popsicles to whip up?

Okay, now that they’re gone, the rest of us can relax a bit and get down to business. As an exercise in catharsis, I’ve compiled a list for you. A ridiculously long, ridiculously gross list of 19 things my kid has eaten (or chewed, or put in his mouth) since the last time he willingly ate a vegetable.

Cringe at the carnage, be strong in the solidarity, and be sure to share your own weird, stomach-churning tidbits in the comments.

1. Boogers

I figured I might as well get this one out of the way. While one of the most common and arguably most disgusting things kids ingest, I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s the convenience of the short delivery route, or perhaps it’s a child’s first way of practicing recycling. Whatever the reason, I have no idea what the chemical make-up of boogers are, and I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not vegetables.

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My Favorite Superhero Wears Pink

December 29, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Through nearly every phase of my life, comic books and superheroes have been a source of entertainment, enlightenment, and inspiration. Yet there’s a real-life superhero that has had my back through it all — one that has gone heretofore unrecognized. Whether venturing out on my own, finding my soulmate, or settling into domesticated dad bliss, this unsung hero has never failed to protect, comfort, and heal. All while swathed in soothing shades of pink.

I’m of course talking about Pepto-Bismol.
Or as I like to call it…

Pepto Bismol — Captain Pepto to the rescue!

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