papa

So Long, Summer

August 29, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The original plans for our long-planned, one-and-only summer vacation fell through at the last minute due to bad weather at our destination. It would have been a long-planned but oft-postponed visit with Jon’s birthparents. We’ll make the trip up later this year, wildfires permitting. While it was a disappointment for our son (and a pain in the ass for the hubby and me), perhaps the universe needed us to get away — just our family — just one weekend near the end of the swiftly-passing summer.

Not wanting to brave the masses at an amusement park or one of those water park/hotel behemoths, I remembered a friend recommending the small town of Cambridge, Maryland. It sits on the Choptank River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It was a two-hour drive, but felt worlds away from work, housework, and the looming schoolyear. Thanks, universe.

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To give you a taste of our weekend, a conversation between my husband and son, while looking out over the balcony of our hotel room.

Jon: Papa, what is that?
Papa: It’s an Indian wedding.
J: Why are they having it here?
P: Well they rented the area and it’s a pretty place for a wedding.
J: Cool! Can we rent it?
P: For what?
J: (thinks) … for a hug party! 

so long, summer

This gives my heart all the smiles. 🙂 Also, who wants to come?!?

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To My Husband, On His Birthday

March 10, 2017 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

Lately I’ve been eyeing 50 as the age when I for sure have to start acting like an adult. And as graphic design and parent blogging are mostly a young person’s game, I dread my half-century birthday (which is still a couple years away, thank you) on multiple levels.

My husband, however, has never looked or felt better in this, his 50th year. He’s kicking ass at work, lost a bunch of weight, and has some great friends he gets to watch Caps games with. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of him… while also grumbling jealously at his non-thinning hair and endless energy. 😠

We celebrated Nick’s 50th birthday recently, with a big shindig at our new digs, complete with catered BBQ, tons of booze, and a wonderful representation of friends and colleagues from across his five decades. And as this was a big milestone, I pulled out all the creative husband stops. First, with a custom coaster I designed, playing off his love of bourbon:

To My Husband, On His Birthday

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Date Night, Naughty Notes, and a Big, Sexy Giveaway

February 28, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Date Night, Naughty Notes & a Giveaway from Plum Organics

On Valentine’s Day, I shared my not-so-scientific gay/straight Relationship Comparison Study. It illustrated some of the ways gay and straight parents differ, many of the funny ways we’re alike, and how all our relationships need a little help sometimes — the message behind Plum Organics’ fun Do Your Part(ner) campaign

I also mentioned that my husband and I took Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) Pledge, making a commitment to try some new ways to rekindle and reconnect. I’m here to report back on our successes and failures, as well as to give away a bunch of nifty Do Your Part(ner) kits from Plum I’ve unofficially named BOX OF BOW-CHICKA-BOW-WOW.

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Straight Parents vs. Gay Parents: A Relationship Comparison Study

February 15, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.

Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.

Gay Parents vs. Straight Parents

< record scratch noise >

Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?

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The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.

So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.

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Considering Christmas

December 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

Christmas is often idealized as a time of reflection, to pause and consider life, family, world peace — lightweight stuff like that. But I can’t remember the last time the days between Halloween and New Years resembled anything remotely meditative or peaceful.

I could blame consumerism, box stores and maga-malls; the colder, shorter days; my rambunctious 5-year-old; Obama. But if I’m being honest, it’s all my own doing. If there’s going to be any inner dialog, it’s on me to stop and listen. So one recent evening I sat in view of our tree* and took it all in. Glowing lights in our dimly lit dining room, twinkling and reflecting off the orbs and odd shapes adorning a sweet-smelling fir. I let my eyes wander from ornament to ornament, remembering where and when they were purchased, what was happening in my life. It was like spending time with old friends — you may not see one another very often, but your history is deep and your reconnection easy.

In taking these moments, in making these observations, I came to realize some of these baubles were among my oldest possessions. Outlasting furniture, clothes, photographs, albums, books. Tokens from nearly every year of my life hung from this tree. It was a feeling both comforting and weighty — but it had given me the space and peace of mind I’d been seeking.

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designer daddy - christmas ornament

Mouse, circa 1976
I’ve owned this mouse made of felt and yarn longer than anything else in my possession. I don’t know exactly where or when it was purchased, but I’ve always known it as being from my brother. The photo may not show, but it’s yellowed and frayed in spots. Yet I’ll hold onto it as long as I can, clutching close the memory of our childhood, our innocence and friendship, before dogma and condition and uncomfortable silence took its place. And I’ll hold a little hope that some of the former will return.

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Being A Gay Dad is Full of Unscripted Moments

June 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

“Are you guys brothers?”

 “So which one of you does he belong to?”

“Which one of you breast feeds?”

“Can I get a mom?

Those are just a few of the questions I’ve heard since becoming a father four and-a-half years ago — as asked by my nephew, a cashier, multiple friends, and my son, respectively. As the title of this post states, there truly are no scripts when it comes to parenting. And being a gay father of an adopted son poses even more unique challenges.

A relatively minor — but no less annoying — challenge is finding a Father’s Day card for my husband. Like many gay fathers, we go by “Daddy” and “Papa.” Finding a Father’s Day card that says “Daddy” is no problem (so yeah, he’s got it easy). And while there are usually a few cards that are addressed to “Papa,” more often than not they are either geared more to Grandpa or are entirely in Spanish.

When I was tapped by Cardstore to be part of their Father’s Day #WorldsToughestJob campaign, one of the perks was getting to design my own card. The recommendation was to create one for Grandpa/my Dad, but I thought it would be more fun (and challenging) to make one for Papa. I was pleasantly surprised to find several selections that fit the bill, but one in particular caught my critical designer’s eye…

I love me some doodles! And this one was not only super cute, but also allowed me to customize the name on the front. So I popped in a “PAPA” (I got to choose from a ton of fonts, colors, sizes, etc.) and my cover was done!

Cardstore - #worldstoughestjob - papa 1

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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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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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So, I’m Engaged… Again

March 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

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…
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wedding-std-front2

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.

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How I Met Your Father

February 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

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
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brentnick1997

Daddy & Papa, circa 1997

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