To Russia, With Friendship

February 5, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Me and “Viktor” on Lake Baikal, Siberia, July 4, 1993

I spent the summer of 1993 in southern Siberia.
The Berlin Wall had had been down for less than three years, and as with other Communist nations, Russia was opening up in ways unimaginable to the world less than a decade prior. The country celebrated Russia Day for the first time that summer on the 12th of June. This holiday marked Russia’s sovereignty from the USSR. It was also my 24th birthday.

This trip abroad was the “final exam” of the missionary training school I attended my first year out of college. Missionary training what now?!? That’s a story for another time… I’m here to talk about my friend “Viktor.”


We’ve Got Your Back: Impressions of Dad 2.0 Summit

February 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

I’m ending my long weekend the way I began it — hanging out in an airport for 4+ hours. Different airports — Baltimore on Thursday, New Orleans on Sunday — but they both have the same unsettling mixture of being simultaneously busy, anxious and lonely. Or maybe that was just me. I’ll spare you the details of my traveling travails, but between the Polar Vortex and my own absentmindedness, it was a wonder I got anywhere I was trying to. And I’m not even on my plane home yet.

I had considered waiting until I’d had a chance to “decompress,” catch up on work, and generally give myself a chance to create something more brilliant and insightful. But I’m taking this time in limbo to journal my impressions of Dad 2.0 Summit while they’re still fresh.

As my arrival in New Orleans was 6 hours later than planned, I missed the conference’s opening party. I had to force myself not to imagine all the hugging and backslapping and toasting going on as my network of dad blogging pals reconnected or (as in many cases) met in person for the first time. My tireless and generous friend Don left said party to pick me up from the airport (it was his fourth trip of the day) and as I trudged wearily into the lobby of the hotel, several of the men I’d become closest to came bounding out of the bar to greet me with all that hugging and backslapping I’d not been dwelling on. As I made my way through the lobby and up to my room, I was met with cheers of “Brent!” from even more of my until-then virtual friends. I felt like a rock star. Or at least Norm. It was already shaping up to be a pretty stupendous time.


After a very late dinner of bourbon and beer (and more meeting and backslapping and hugging), I called it an early night.


SalonLGBTQ: Reconnecting, Simplifying & Loving the Ladies

October 30, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Lately I’ve been lacking the time and energy to be an effective dad or a productive designer, much less a Designer Daddy of any measure. And I’ve got no one to blame but myself. But a recent trip to Atlanta brought about some much needed refocusing.

A couple of weeks ago I attended SalonLGBTQ, the first social media conference of its kind – for and about the LGBTQ community. My work schedule had slowly been reaching capacity, and culminated with several projects being due in conjunction with the conference. Amongst the professional stress was the ongoing struggle with our feisty almost-four year-old and his increasing use of falling on the floor and cry-whining as a means of communication. Add to that the pressures of preparing for this trip —where I’d also be making my debut as an “expert” blogger as part of a panel discussing parent blogging, social media and all things homosexual.

Despite all that, I managed to make it to the conference in one piece, though soaked to the bone from my walk across the street 2.5 blocks in the rain from the subway to the hotel. After cramming in some work and drying my socks, I went downstairs and enjoyed the hell out of the opening reception. It was Spirit Day, so everyone was wearing purple…except me. You know, the graphic designer who’s super keen on color and stuff. But it was a thrill meeting all manner of wonderful folk, including my longtime internet hero, Sarah/Nerdy Apple, and my new-found hero, Amelia. These two awesome moms have sons who don’t fit the normal norms, and they spend their time celebrating and championing them every chance they get. Plus these ladies both like to party. We were fast friends.


Here’s my #SpiritDay purple, drying out from my trek through the rain.


Flanked by some of my new favorite gals: Sarah “Smut,” Sarah “Nerdy” & Amelia “Blogger.” ©


Taking Up Residence on Twitter: Talking About LGBT Family Travel

October 29, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

If you’re an LGBT parent, you are statistically more likely to travel with your children than your straight counterparts. Okay, that statistic is based on no actual data, but on my well-traveled stint as one of two fathers of an adopted son. Yet even if your kids aren’t adopted, we gays LOVE to travel. Think having kids will slow us down? Are you kidding — and pass up a chance to sport matching outfits at Disneyworld, win over hearts and minds at a family reunion, or show our younguns the world in style?

So mark your calendars: Join me Wednesday, November 6 at 9pm EST, as I’ll be a panelist for a Twitter party all about LGBT family travel!

We’ll be chatting up these topics:

  • Legal/practical aspects of travel, both interstate and internationally
  • General tips for traveling with kids
  • Extended stays out-of-state or internationally during the adoption process
  • Hilarious and harrowing tales of tot-travel

Please come join the fun with all your questions and/or ideas to share!

Register early at TravelingMom to win
one of two signed copies of Iron Chef/lesbian mom Cat Cora’s cookbook, Classics with a Twist: Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes.
Grand Prize: a $250 Residence Inn gift card

This shindig is sponsored by Residence Inn, along with partners TravelingMom, Family Equality Council and Mombian.


Travel Itenerary:
Party time: 9pm – 10pm EST • Wednesday, November 6, 2013
How to join: Follow hashtags #TMOM and #RIFamily
To be eligible for prizes: RSVP at TravelingMom’s party page


Bringing JJ home – our first family trip.

Personal note: Okay, who in the world gets sentimental about being asked to participate in a Twitter party? This gay dad, that’s who. Residence Inn has played an important role in our family’s history. We flew cross-country in order to be there the night JJ was born; we spent two nights in the hospital with him, then were released into the wild. Yet we had to remain in Oregon until our ICPC cleared and we could cross state lines with our cute little contraband. So our first two weeks together as a family were spent in the Residence Inn Portland Downtown/RiverPlace.

It was also where the photos used on JJ’s birth announcement were taken, which were featured in Designer Daddy’s very first post.

And we stayed in the same hotel during our most recent, memorable trip back to visit JJ’s birthparents. So to Residence Inn, here is my sincere, personal note…


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[Disclaimer: I am being compensated by Residence Inn for this post and participation in the Twitter party. 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.]

Cottonelle & Designer Daddy Have That Can-Doo Spirit

October 14, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Greetings Dear Readers! It’s me, your bums-talking Brand Ambassador, bringing you another message from the fine folks at Cottonelle!

I and the other BA’s have been on a roll reading (and judging) all the wipe-related haikus you’ve been Tweeting out the wazoo. We’ve already given away $200 Amazon gift cards to 3 potty-mouthed poets. Check out their cheeky, winning work*:

Week 1 winner: @dad_strangeland
Did you wipe? I ask / My four year old shakes her head / Pants already raised.

Week 2 winner: @jesteram
Cottonelle sheets, wipes— / like yin and yang for your butt: / Two forces, one whole.

Week 3 winner: @DeadTurkeyBlog
Please try Cottenelle. / Like wiping with a pillow. / Without the divorce.

These lucky lads are now in the running to win the Grandest of Prizes: an all-expenses paid trip to Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans! And we have 4 more winners to choose over the next few weeks, so you still have lots of chances to score a gift card and a seat at Dad 2.0!

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While scrutinizing all these haiku hijinks has been hilarious, it’s also caused me to wax nostalgic. All the poop-talk got me reminiscing about the times in my life I could have really used some Cottonelle TP and Cleansing Cloths. Please indulge me as I over-share one such occasion…


I spent the summer after college in Siberia on a mission trip with a group from my church. We were in Irkutsk, a city of nearly a million people — yet we often found ourselves in rather sub-standard plumbing predicaments. One afternoon we were giving a presentation at a high school, when my lunch of dried fish, pork-filled dumplings and mysterious cabbage concoction decided to take the Trans-Siberian Express out of my body. I raced down the halls to the bathroom and scurried into one of the stalls. Not only did the stall not have a door, the bowl (which was common) didn’t have a seat. And to my horror – nor the toilet paper dispenser, toilet paper. Starting to panic, I hobbled around and check the other stalls. Nyet, nyet, nyet. No doors, no seats, no paper.

While this is not the toilet in the story, it was the one in our flat. That we used every day for 3 months.

While this isn’t the toilet in my story, it WAS the one in my Siberian flat… that I used every day for 3 months.

Lunch had now taken its leave, yet here I sat on my seatless bowl, not sure what to do next. I rifled through my pockets and found two very disconcerting options. Option 1: a small religious pamphlet illustrated in comic-book form. Option 2: my Bible.

The pamphlet was slick and varnished, with rather sharp corners. My Bible, on the other hand, had soft, tissue-like pages. It was my Sophie’s Choice of sanitation.

Luckily I remembered my Bible had several blank pages in the back for taking notes. My choice was made, desecration was avoided, my ass was saved! However some Cottonelle toilet paper and wipes sure would have been a god-send.

Okay, now it’s your turn to confess.
What’s your scariest scatalogical situation? Please post in the comments. My favorite will get a shout-out on Facebook (anonymous, if you like) and my deepest admiration and sympathy.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Late to the poop party and have no idea what I’m talking about? Take a second and go read this. I’ll wait… Okay, all caught up? Great! Now get to Tweeting haikus about Cottonelle and bums and wipes and poop, and maybe I’ll see you in NOLA!

*To read all eligible haikus as well as full contest details, visit the Haiku Challenge web page.

[Disclaimer: I am being compensated by Kimberly-Clark for my participation in my role as a Brand Ambassador. 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.]

A Journey to Family

August 5, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

I haven’t written much about JJ’s open adoption or his birthparents up to this point. We’ve always felt it best not to share too much of his story beyond what we’ve told him. However, several developments during our most recent visit moved me to venture into some of this undocumented territory.

open adoption

Leading up to the trip, life was even more frenzied that usual. In a “normal” June, the middle of the month delivers the 1-2-3 punch of Pride, my birthday and Father’s Day; this year each was only four days apart. Our regularly packed work schedules were even more loaded down with pre-vacation deadlines and coordinating handoffs. We were scurrying to find a preschool for JJ, overwhelmed by the options. Two days before Father’s Day, my first article for The Huffington Post was published — a nice stress to have, but stress nonetheless. The following day, an interview Papa and I did for went live. The article, while itself wonderful, quickly racked up large numbers of vile comments of the homophobic/hateful/crazy variety. I had to stop reading, distressed and fearful I’d put my family too far out there. For nearly 12 hours, I was really thrown off track. But Papa and my more experienced blogging buddies consoled and rallied behind me, respectively, and I got back to enjoying my Father’s Day and packing for our cross-country jaunt… which was the next morning.


Fridge Wisdom: God Save the Queen (or Two)

July 18, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Another update to my magnetic commemoration of states and countries that have legalized same-sex marriage.

Long Live the Queen! Long Love the Queens!
God Save the Queen for Saving the Queens!

Piccadilly Circus! Fish & Chips! Bangers & Mash!

Okay, that’s enough of that.

Congratulations to our friends across the pond for their fabulously progressive monarch. Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal “Yo go, girl!” to legalizing same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom.

So I scoured my mammoth magnet collection, and this was the closest I had to something  British…


While I love me some Wallace (and Gromit), this occasion warranted something more monumental. I put out a call, and my readers came through in spades! Here are my three favorites… READ FULL ARTICLE >>

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.

JJ’s Top 10 of 2012

January 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

As with any toddler, JJ’s moods tastes shift like the wind. Make that a whirlwind. But these ten things stood out in 2012 as being particularly popular with our breezy little boy…


Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Buon Natale!


Now that I’ve trotted out several Christmas cards from years past, I wanted to share this year’s…

Since becoming a Dad, I’ve struggled with designing a Holiday card that would appeal to both my clients AND satisfy family and friends that wanted baby pictures. Prior to parenthood, I’ve done just one card for both purposes — but that was before we had such a good-looking kiddo to show off! Yet I wondered if sending a more personal-looking card to clients would come across as unprofessional.

As usual, time and money ended up being the determining factors. I didn’t have the energy or hours to generate a fabulous/unique/award-winning “business” card, and a second one for friends and family featuring an adorable portrait of JJ and a “form letter” describing all the awesome things we’d done this past year. So I decided to pick one event — our trip to Italy — and threw in a whole mess of photos. I collaged them onto three panels: one of predominantly green hues, one in whites, one in reds. The colors of Christmas… and also the Italian flag. Aren’t I clever? 😉

Front of card: click to biggefy

Back of card: click to biggefy

I concluded that the design and quality of the photography would showcase my talents, and the pictures of happy toddlers eating giant bowls of pasta would melt hearts. And if someone decided not to hire me because they didn’t like my warm and fuzzy Christmas card, bah humbug on them.

Turns out I shouldn’t have been too worried about how the card would be received. So far I’ve gotten 42 emails complimenting the card — 14 from family or friends, 28 from clients or colleagues — by far the largest number of personal notes I’ve received about a Holiday card in 10+ years. Let’s hear it for pics of babies and food!

On a final note, I’d like to once again thank all my family, friends, clients, colleagues and other folks who’ve read, shared and commented on the blog. Every bit of your interaction and support means the world to me. All the best to you and yours for a spectacular 2013!

(PS: Click here to view an interactive version of the card — complete with captions and larger views of the photos!)

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