Chasing After Batman: An Introverted Parent Raising An Extroverted Child

November 11, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED


Recently I found myself, yet again, frantically trailing after my son as he ran on ahead of me, weaving in and out and through the crowd like a pint-sized quarterback. This time we were at his preschool, attending a Halloween-themed fair, where each classroom offered a different adventure in which JJ would embark and then move on to the next as quick as he’d gotten the requisite prize. His little black cape swooped around with an extra amount of drama — the Velcro closure was itchy around his neck, so he wore his cowl unfastened and scooted up on top of his head so he could plow ahead, unencumbered.

He — being 4 years old and nimble, and me— about a parent-and-a-half in size, made this chase an exercise in futility. So I followed close enough to appear somewhat in control to concerned onlookers, and where he could hear my voice without me having to shout. But I allowed a bit of distance because otherwise we’d be butting heads all night, or I’d be plowing half the hallway down. Or both.

I perpetually cringed as he barely missed bumping into a child in a wheelchair or tripping the teacher carrying a large box of cupcakes, bobbing and weaving with such disregard and joyous abandon. The only way I was able to keep up at all was because every few seconds he would stop, plant himself in front of someone and declare,“I’m Batman!” Then off he dashed to vanquish the next foe and add another trinket or treat to his plastic pumpkin.

And I found myself, yet again, thinking “Is this normal? Is he okay? Am I being too uptight? Am I doing this right? Will he ever slow down?”

You see, I’m an introvert raising an extroverted child, and I’m way out of my depth.


My Starbucks VIA Moment: Afternoon Cup

August 14, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

If I had to list two things I HAVE to have to get me through the day, they would be the internet and caffeine. Between being the dad of a toddler and running my own business from home, I am at high risk for being isolated and/or completely worn out. Usually simultaneously.

On the internet (as you’ve seen me mention here before) I’ve found a great community of fellow dads to combat my isolation. Some of them are also bloggers. Some are also gay dads. A rare and fabulous few are fellow GDBs* — gay dad bloggers. Many of these fellows hang out at Life of Dad, a great site for meeting and interacting with other involved/informed fathers. And these guys also like to have fun. And give stuff away. Remember the Cheetos masterpiece I created? That was for them.

So now Life of Dad is hosting a very cool contest promoting Starbucks VIA. Click on over to read all the deets on how to win Starbucks cards! And not some mamby-pamby $5 stocking stuffer. We’re talking $500, $200 & $100 of caffeinated awesomeness for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

The main thing you have to do is create a video on Vine or Instagram showing your own daddiefied Starbucks VIA Moment. Take a look at my mini masterpiece I call “Afternoon Cup.”


(P.S. Full disclosure, I’m not much of a coffee drinker — but I’m at Starbucks regular as clockwork to pick up my daily Venti black iced tea. So I’m hoping tea is next on Starbucks’ list of VIA products. But I HAVE tried a few of their Refreshers, and the Strawberry Lemonade and Very Berry Hibiscus both lived up to their name — refreshing as all get out! So what am I gonna do with all the VIA coffee I used in my video? Well, Papa is a coffee fiend so will be enjoying these on his drive to work. Plus stocking stuffers!)

*As far as I know, I just now coined this acronym. I think I’ll make a t-shirt.

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[Disclaimer: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free, as well as monetary compensation for creating my video and promoting it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are mine and/or JJ’s.]

Feeding a Toddler is One Big Game

July 15, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Okay, so maybe that title isn’t the most revelatory ever. But once in a blue moon I have a moment of true parental creativity. I want to savor those moments, as they are few and far between. So this is me savoring…

Like any average toddler, JJ is a picky eater. I don’t even know why you would qualify a toddler’s eating habits as “picky” — it’s just understood. Sure, there’s the occasional hippie/hipster-type who’s little lamb has been vegan/organic/locally-fed from the womb. Don’t you just wanna slap those parents with a cold fish stick?

One of JJ’s favorite snacks are gummies. For a long time he ate only the Gerber ones, which seemed all fruit-filled and healthy. Then he got seduced by the Dark Side, and now joneses for Spider-Man, Batman, or <shudder> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-flavored gummies. I can only imagine what manor of chemical imbalance is found in them. But I’ve all but convinced myself they’re still fruit-adjacent, and certainly better than soda, hard candy or Doritos. (Hands off, those are Daddy’s)

We were in Connecticut visiting family over the July 4th holiday, and I ran into a Whole Foods to look for the snooty dog food we forgot to bring (for the dog, just to be clear), and I saw these beauties at the register, looking very natural and juicy and non-turtle shaped:


Where in heaven can I find some more?!?

They were labeled with a small white sticker, “Juju Stars.” I snapped them up and then promptly forgot about them.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, and the nightly battle over dinner is in progress. Unless his afternoon snack is timed just right, JJ won’t be hungry at a normal dinner time. It might also have something to do with the tides or cicada migration or something. Who knows? Furthermore, we’re not only arguing that it’s time to eat, but also what to eat, how much to eat, and of course STAY. IN. YOUR. CHAIR.

Then I notice the Juju Stars sparkling on the counter in their little generic plastic cup. Bells, whistles and the Dora theme go off in my head…

“Hey buddy! Do you want to play a game?”

Miraculously, he stops whining.

“How about I give you one of these MAGIC DORA STARS* for every bite of food you eat? How many stars do you think you can win?!?” My voice was probably sounding a bit crazed at this point as I tried to amp up his excitement.

“YAY! I want to win FIVE!”

So the game began. And he ate a fish stick. Then another. Then his spinach patty. Then drank his fruit smoothie. “DUDE! You won ALL FIVE STARS!”

And yes (THANK GOD IN HEAVEN) he liked them.

The game has now been played (and won) for the last three feedings. Woohoo! Daddy wins, too!

But now we’re out of stars. And I Googled the hell out of them, and only found a couple of old photos from 2010. Looks like Daddy will be playing Find the Juju Stars all day tomorrow.

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*If you’ve watched much Dora the Explorer, you know there are occasional episodes that feature these annoying stars she has to collect on her adventures. Because the show wasn’t already enough like a video game. One morning JJ and I stumbled across this video on YouTube, while having “VIDEOS TIME!” on Daddy’s computer. It’s a video of a video game. So each time JJ begs to watch it, he tries to click on the big green PLAY button, and it pauses the video. DUDE. It’s not going to work. Let’s move on, PLEASE. How about I give you a gummy star?!?

Fridge Wisdom: Baby on Borg

May 16, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE


I’ve had this one in the queue for a long time. Because it keeps being true. But there’s a new Star Trek movie coming out, so I figure now’s as good a time as any to drop this bit of Fridge Wisdom.

TODDLERS ARE LIKE THE BORG. Whatever you throw at them, they adapt, reconfigure their circuitry, then come at you full strength with a whole new arsenal. READ FULL ARTICLE >>

That Can Do Spirit

April 15, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Being a parent of a toddler is hard work — no one who’s ever seen, heard or smelled a toddler would argue with that. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we modern parents tend to make it. Respite can come from an unexpected place…the toddlers themselves.

Looking to lessen my own stress and find some solutions, I recently completed a Parenting Preschoolers class, taught by the fine folks at PEP. In this class (and the many others offered), instructors champion a philosophy that expands how most of us view a child’s role in everyday life. And it doesn’t include a remote or an iPad.

Nowhere is this more apparent than PEP’s CAN DO KIDS FAIR. This annual event (for children 3-10) showcases PEP’s ideas on parenting, putting them into live, kid-operated action. This year’s Fair took place just a couple of weeks after I completed my class, so it was a great opportunity to practice all these new Daddy skills… and hopefully spend a Saturday afternoon getting JJ good and tired.

I’ll admit it was overwhelming at first. Held in a nearby church’s education building, every room on every floor was packed with parents, kids, instructors and volunteers busily trying or explaining a different activity.

We headed to the first of three floors, and not surprisingly I led us to the painting station. I was a little shocked to find it wasn’t full of easels and finger paints. I was even more shocked to watch my three year-old not only roller paint, but also drill a hole in drywall and then spackle over it. Yes, I used the words “3 year-old” and “drill a hole” in the same sentence. It was pretty amazing — and a little frightening — but he was flanked by a PEP volunteer and Papa, and was being given simple, clear instructions. And he was, of course, loving it.


Drill, baby, drill!


Bedtime Battle: A Sleepless Saga in 31 Rounds

March 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED


It was 8:49 p.m. on a Monday.
Jon had already been put back in bed 4 times.

The following is taken directly from Twitter, on a recent evening when I attempted to apply a technique discussed in the Parenting Preschoolers class I’ve been taking. The process (dubbed “Cold Turkey” by my instructor) involves calmly and silently leading your child back to bed, without making eye contact or conveying any emotion or negative body language whatsoever. Repeat as necessary until stationery toddler is achieved. The point is to communicate that the appropriate behavior is to stay in bed, without giving the attention (negative or positive) they are trying to weasel out of you.

I decided to tweet my ordeal. Partly to entertain myself, and partly to hold myself accountable. If I knew people were “watching” I’d be less likely to lose my mind cool. Because it’s a lot f’ing harder than it sounds.

The players:

@DesignerDaddy (all tweets are by me, unless otherwise identified)
@PEPParent (organization teaching the class and the putting-to-bed technique being applied)
@BloggerFather (fellow dad blogger, who makes a cameo appearance)
Papa (silent, supporting — but essential — role)
Jon (the star of this saga)


Revenge Fantasy: If Someone Slapped MY Child…

February 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

This story was zooming around the internet the last couple of days, shocking everyone in its drunken, racist, baby-slappin’ wake. I didn’t see it until late in the day, when a Facebook friend tagged me with the question, “I wonder what Brent would do?”

While we’ve been on our share of flights with JJ, the closest we’ve had to a run-in with another passenger was pretty tame. As we settled in, the woman in front of us complained out loud that she “always gets seated in front of the kids.” As luck would have it, the flight attendant was gay and gave us all his attention, essentially ignoring her. Karma’s a bitch, and is sitting right behind you.

Yet I’ve been a non-parent much longer than I’ve been a parent, so I understand the frustration of Babes on a Plane. However I always felt sorry for the weary caregivers struggling to simultaneously soothe their child while fending off a jet full of judgmental glares.

So what WOULD I do?
For one thing, I doubt anyone would dare slap JJ while sitting on MY less-than-dainty lap. But if I let myself fantasize about the situation, where some drunken old man slaps my 19 month-old baby and tells me to “Shut that faggot* baby up!” it would probably go one of two ways:

A) I would hand JJ to Papa (he’s got a law career to worry about) and then beat the living shit out of this guy.


B) I would take the high road, grab Jon like a protective Daddy Grizzly, and allow the airline attendants to strap this a-hole down until we land. I’d then stalk him to the airport men’s room, where he would emerge with a poop-filled diaper stuffed in one orifice and a sippy cup stuffed in the other.

How about you? What would YOU do?

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*In case you haven’t read the story, the child in question was black, sitting on the lap of his white, adoptive mom. Joe Rickey Hundley, who was drunk, slapped 19 month-old Jonah Bennett, and told the mother to “Shut that nigger baby up!” I only changed to word to fit my own worst-case scenario.

Trip to Italy: Daddy Album

September 24, 2012 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

As promised, here’s the Daddy Album. And this one was even more difficult to winnow down than the Designer Album. Again I went for the ones that told the best stories from the trip, as well as some variety. But I cheated a little and included 12 instead of 10 photos. My loophole is that two of these weren’t taken by me, so YAY, bonus pics!

Perhaps as a surprise to no one, the majority of these are of JJ. So WARNING: if you don’t think you’ll like photos of my adorable tyke charming the entire country of Italy, you’ve come to the wrong place…

Spider-Man and his Nonna strolling through the Bari airport, beginning their week-long adventure together.


The Adventures of Anger Log!

August 30, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Click to see Anger Log up close + extra scary

Geez Louise, it’s been a while since my last bloggering. I’ve been busy prepping for a whopper of a trip (more on that later) and all I can come up with is to share this little doodle I did the other day. Introducing Anger Log!

Anger Log’s origin story is pretty mundane. I was taking a parenting class and one of the homework assignments was to do keep a journal documenting a week’s worth of situations that pushed my buttons, got my goat, or anything veering close. As soon as I wrote down the words “anger log,” he sprang to life in my head, hand, and then page.

“A parenting what?” you may be asking… Yes, a parenting class. I’m sure you’ve heard new parents (or everyone, really) joke about raising kids, exclaiming, “I wish there was a manual!” But there is. It’s called a bazillion dollar book/TV/magazine/website industry, all focused on helping you rear a young’un. Yet I learn best with some face-to-face interaction, where I can ask questions, bounce ideas off others, compare battle scars. And PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) was a great experience for me. Look them up… I highly recommend.

Back to my story…  Anger Log was an exercise in recognizing what kinds of scenarios, times of day, and states of mind I was more likely to be impatient with JJ, Papa, Cordi… and in being more cognizant of that, take steps to essentially cut myself off at the pass. I found early evening was a big trigger for me. Take a long, sweltering walk with a stroller-full of wiggling boy and an extra-pully dog, add my lack of creativity in the kitchen, throw in a little residual stress from the workday, serve steaming hot with a dash of impatience…and viola! A perfect Grumpy Dad Stew.

Yet I’ve already found Anger Log to be quite helpful, despite his disconcerting appearance (yes, that’s a frightened worm coming out of his mouth). Being AWARE is the first — and very effective — step in managing anger. And impatience, insecurity, and… well, you gotta take the class yourself.

The class (and Anger Log) came along just in time. Because in three days we go on the aforementioned trip. With a toddler. Across the ocean. To see in-laws. For two weeks. Log, give me strength.

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So whaddaya think of Anger Log? Saturday morning material? Who would do his voice? What flavor would his inevitable cereal be?

Wine + Dandy

July 29, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

I’d like to start posting more stuff here first — photos, videos, witty asides — instead of only Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. My goal is to make this your one-stop-shop for all things Designer Daddy! I will of course be forwarding/Tweeting/posting out from this all-important hub, so don’t worry — I’ll still be annoying you on multiple platforms at all times. 🙂

Anyhoo, thought a photo of me and JJ in a liquor store would be as good a way as any to start…

Click to biggefy

Here I’m teaching JJ the rules of selecting a good wine: pick the pretty label. And I’m carrying him because, well… he’s 2-1/2 and we’re in a giant box of glass and booze.

Hope everyone’s weekend was rich and spirited!

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