family traditions

A Year of Pandemic Parenting, In Pictures

April 30, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

We’ve been pandemic parenting for over a year now… and it’s been a hell of a year, hasn’t it? Compared to so many that were medically or financially devastated by Covid, our family got off fairly easy. Yet I imagine everyone looks forward to putting this behind us, allowing it to fade into a surreal, scary, traumatic, lonely, stressful, depressing — and oh so monotonous — memory.

Between the isolation, health scares, lost work and the flaming dumpster fire that was virtual learning, I had to do something to keep my sanity, fill the time, and lift the spirits of my housebound family.

While distance learning was (and is) a largely futile endeavor for my ADHD kiddo, his school interjected some fun as best it could. Spirit Week was always one of my favorite events growing up, so I was pleasantly surprised when Jon’s school added a couple of extra themed weeks to the calendar.

As it’s no secret Dad loves any excuse to play dress up, I wasn’t letting my son have all the fun. I got us all involved — picked out props, took pics, and occasionally had some Photoshop fun before sharing on social media. It was such a hoot, I added a few themed Spirit Days of my own. If I’m being honest, sometimes I was probably the only one truly enjoying it — but kudos to Jon and Papa for letting me force convince them to play along!

So, as we surpass the year mark on quarantine life, I wanted to commemorate all of the wacky, weird and spirited photos from the weary months we’ve made it through.

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HOPPY EASTER! 👯‍♂️🦄 Not an official Spirit Day photo, but officially adorbs. Trying to find some fun hidden in our son’s first Easter not spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

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Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

January 12, 2021 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Toxic Positivity and the Christmas Card Conundrum

As parents, we’ve had to have a lifetime of difficult conversations with our kids, all within the last 12 months. Few of these are talks we’d ever expected to have, much less in such a short time span. Luckily, kids can be amazingly resilient.

Yet this resiliency doesn’t happen on its own. It comes from having those hard discussion with authenticity. It comes from creating a safe space for children to express and experience their emotions, and then helping them find their way past.

If you’re like me, you’re making things up as you go — extreme on-the-job training. Yet modeling authenticity is vital to both ourselves and our kids. Whether it’s peer pressure to drink or watching a rage-filled mob overrun the US Capitol, teaching our children how to respond to life — regardless of what it throws at us — is one of the most important jobs we have.

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Halloween Costumes of the Last 10 Years

October 3, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

The start of the new decade also marks a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Halloween Costumes

As a dad with a creative/crafty streak, few things have brought me more joy than dressing up my kid in Halloween costumes. It doesn’t hurt that I also like to play dress up from time-to-time — but that’s another list for another time.

This is quite the spooky scrapbook, documenting my son’s favorite heroes and characters over the last 10 years. You may notice that some years are represented more than once. Typically, each year included a school party/costume parade as well as trick-or-treating, so some years I overzealously made two different costumes. This exhausting practice has since been retired.

Enjoy these magically monstrous moments, including tips on how to make/where to buy the costumes. And oh yeah, Happy Halloween!

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Father’s Days of the Last 10 Years

June 21, 2020 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The start of the new decade also marks a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Top 10 Father's Days

I was hoping to have a couple more Top 10 lists posted by the middle of 2020, but COVID-19 had others plans. As Father’s Day rolled around and I realized we’d be spending yet another holiday in quarantine. So I got nostalgic and started rummaging through photos of Dad’s Days past. I got excited about documenting our first ten years of Father’s Days — until I did the math and realized that while our son was 10 years old, we were celebrating our 11th Father’s Day. New math is hard.

As I’ve written many times on this blog, Father’s Day is not a day of rest and relaxation for two-dad families. Yet we’ve somehow managed to always be together, and get some manner of family photo. While they haven’t always been exciting Father’s Days — or even all that happy — it’s nice to look back and see what ten (eleven?!?) years of celebrating family looks like.

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A Totally Awesome Birthday Party 50 Years in the Making

July 30, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Around this time last year, I was feeling weighed down by both my age and my weight. The strain of my mental and physical health was taking a toll, and I was becoming increasingly less social. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, I half-heartedly suggested a trip. I was in no mood for a big party, to be the center of attention, to spend hours around other people pretending to be upbeat and happy.

Then somewhere along the way, I took some much-needed steps to resetting my life. As these steps grew into leaps and bounds, I gained confidence, got excited about life again, and determined that I did, in fact, want a party. Inspired by a friend’s 90s-themed birthday, I decided to show these Millennials how it’s done and throw the most bodacious 80s-themed party ever!

Birthday Party

If I’ve learned anything these past nine years of fatherhood, it’s that pampering yourself, partying with friends and blowing off steam are VITAL to being an effective, happy and sane parent. Having also been in a creative slump, this birthday party became a great outlet for me to flex my design muscles in fab, fun ways.

If you were there, thanks for celebrating with me! If not, here’s a taste of how much fun I had turning 50… and here’s to 50 more!

[click all pics to enlarge]

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WANNA’ BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’

The invitation was going to se the tone — and hopefully get folks excited to come — so the pressure was on for it to be beyond tubular. A few selfies, a little retro font hunting and a bit of Photoshop later, and voilà!

50th Birthday Party Invitation

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Pride 2019: All Dressed Up and No Place To Go

June 11, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Pride 2019

Pride this year didn’t go quite like I’d hoped.

When you’re a parent, things don’t always hardly ever work out as planned. You’d think after almost 10 years I would have figured that out, but I guess hope springs eternal. Especially when it comes to parades full of rainbows and glitter.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots — the event widely regarded as the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. So Pride is a big deal this year. And as always, DC’s pride celebration fell on the weekend closest to my birthday… which this year also marked the 50th anniversary of ME!

But alas the universe had other ideas.

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Stan Lee Made a True Believer of Me

November 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

To say that Stan Lee and Marvel have had an impact on my life as a parent and my relationship with my son would be a galactic understatement. And while most may know me as a big comic book nerd enthusiast, I didn’t grow up a Marvel fan.

R.I.P. Stan Lee

“WERE YOU A DC KID OR A MARVEL KID?”

That’s the ultimate question when it comes to classifying comic book fans. You have two choices and you can’t be both, lest it throw the multiverse out of balance or something. This battle between the superhero companies has raged on for decades, though it’s now spilled into the mainstream and involves multi-billion dollar movie and TV franchises.

I was an unapologetic DC kid. Maybe it was my age or the lack of older siblings or just the alignment of the planets, but my love for superheroes was sparked by a trio of campy TV shows featuring DC Comics characters: Batman, Super Friends, and Wonder Woman. Along the way, Aquaman became my all-time favorite character. The Superman and Batman films of the 70s and 80s were life-changing experiences. By the end of college, I’d amassed many, many boxes of comic books, 100% of which were DC.

While I’d been exposed to characters like Spider-Man and Hulk, Marvel’s roster as a whole seemed so strange and underground and anti-hero-y to me. That all changed when I became a dad.

My son’s birth coincided closely with the release of the first Iron Man movie, which inspired me to declare myself an equal opportunity comic book dad. I was determined to buck the system —my son would be both a DC and a Marvel kid. But why would I make this seemingly impossible parenting goal?

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Guest Post: A Legacy of Voting

November 6, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

As an English teacher and writer, my mother has been a huge influence on my own love of words. She and I have also enjoyed a lifetime of spirited political discussions. We’re not always 100% on the same side, yet there’s always a willingness to listen and an attempt to understand one another. 

One of the first things I remember reading of my mother’s was a story about my great-grandfather (her maternal grandfather). While she describes him as a staunch Republican, both the GOP and Democratic party have evolved considerably since the 1960s and 70s. The takeaway is the importance he placed on voting, another value I proudly inherited from my mother… who obviously had a strong influence of her own.

Grandpa and Grandma Keylon - a legacy of voting

My great-grandparents, Lewis & Elizabeth Keylon. Union, AR, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of Beverly Almond

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DDQ&A: Andy Alexander, The Grim Wreather

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

The Grim Wreather

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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R.I.P. R2-D2

August 14, 2016 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

RIP R2-D2

Kenny Baker 1934-2016 Rest In Peace

While the character of R2-D2 will be around for a long, long time, I wanted to pay respect to the actor who played him in the first six Star Wars films. Special effects aside, Kenny Baker was the one who brought everyone’s favorite droid to life.

In October 1977 I was eight years old, and my dad took me and my younger brother to see Star Wars. There were so many moments in that first viewing that have stayed with me ever since. Certainly the adventure and fantasy are incredible, but the characters are what make the films more than just a thrill ride. Luke was the everyman I related to most; Chewbacca, the furry bodyguard I wished I had; and R2-D2 was the loyal friend — filling the screen with mischief and humor, all without a face or uttering a word.

Not long after seeing the movie (maybe the same day?), we got our first Star Wars t-shirts. My brother got the one with Sand People; I chose R2-D2, and I never really stopped…
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