birthday boy

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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Big Hero 6 Review: A Big Hit with the Whole Family

November 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

To cap off a truly epic 5th birthday weekend for our little (sorry, BIG) guy, we put down the LEGO sets and headed out to see Big Hero 6 as a family. This had been in place for several months — long before we’d planned the birthday party or bought presents or spent way too much time stuffing the hero-themed goody bags.

On a previous family movie outing, we’d seen the trailer for a new film we knew nothing about called Big Hero 6. Yet by the end of the preview we were all hooked. Disney + Marvel + superheroes + martial arts + huggable robots = DUH. And then it said it was coming out November 7 — OUR SON’S BIRTHDAY. We made plans then and there to be back opening day.

Since the characters and story were new to us, I had fun doing some “research” and then “educating” Jon in preparation for the birthday viewing. We had a blast on the film’s web site, which included character profiles, video clips and a couple of cool games. I even bought a picture book to read at bedtime. Disney — ever the marketing masters — already had quite a few books (for all ages) available prior to the movie’s release.

And it probably comes as no surprise that I made lunch notes of all the characters. But okay, enough set up — what did we think of the movie?

Big Hero 6 - Hiro

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“When I’m Five Years Old…” Slow Down Edition

November 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

On the eve of my son’s birthday, this is the final installment of “When I’m Five Years Old…” I had a half dozen others I could have used, illustrating things as lofty and disparate as picking up furniture, eating tacos, befriending giant trees, racing bullets and jumping on one foot up to the ceiling. Yet I believe this doodle encompasses all his goals of things to do/be/have when he turns five rather nicely. It gives voice to his greatest desire and my greatest dread — to be grown up as quickly as is humanly possible. Or faster.

when i'm five years old - slow down

When Jon was well into toddlerhood, I started longing for the days of his infancy. Of cuddles and cooing and discovery — and perhaps most importantly, immobility. He’s well on his way to becoming too fast for me, and long ago surpassed me on overall levels of energy.

However, as my 5-year-old lunges toward the future with each uninhibited step sprint, I realize how much of this phase of his life I will miss: the forming of opinions and independent thoughts, while still clinging close to the things Daddy and Papa likes best; trying on words and phrases — sometimes clever, other times defiant, occasionally profane; and beginnings and new adventures — school, friendships, sports, sleepovers, movies, reading — all of the things he’ll never do or experience again for the first time.

I avoid pondering how old I’ll be when my son (40 years my junior) is 8, 9, 10, in high school, college, married, a father. As one who is prone to worry, this does no one any good. I want to enjoy today for today and this age for this age. Not looking ahead in angst, not reminiscing with regret, but being present and learning how to hold and lead and guide while slowly letting go, so Jon can learn to hold and lead and guide himself.

I’m in no hurry for you to grow up, son. I hold these past five years in my heart, but hold my gaze on your path — repeatedly amazed that I get to watch every step and stumble and sprint that you take.

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Be sure and read all of the “When I’m Five Years Old…” posts. To follow along on this wacky, wonderful journey, visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook.

“When I’m Five Years Old…” Underwater Edition

November 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

More than any other parental duty, bath time has changed the most in my nearly five years of dadhood. What started as a quiet time of bonding has gone through quite a few drastic evolutions. There was the move from the kitchen sink to the bathroom; from an infant bath bin to the inflatable duck, to roaming unfettered in the tub; from playing peek-a-boo to silly sing-a-longs to tidal wave-sized splashfests.

Nowadays bath time mostly involves feats of superhuman ability: trying to jump into the tub; attempting to stand on the rim; repeated leaps to grasp the towel hanging from the shower curtain rod. And most frequently, the desire to grow gills, stay underwater as long as possible, and give me tiny heart attacks every night.

Jon’s always been a bit of a fish-in-water — a daring-do of aquatic proportions — though sometimes a bit reckless. Yet thankfully there’ve been no poolside cracked heads or broken tailbone shower slips or (knock on porcelain) underwater catastrophes. Truthfully, he’s much more likely to puncture a butt check from the stew of toys he’s always swimming in.

When I'm Five Years Old - Underwater

It’s a wonder he can hold anything underwater (breath or otherwise) amongst his maritime menagerie. I made an infographic a while back about bath toys and how to decide when to clean them or throw them out. Nonetheless, our tub has become what amounts to a playroom annex. Actual bath toys are a rarity. Instead, you can find plastic drinking cups and serving utensils, magnetic letters and musical instruments, dinosaurs, action figures, matchbox cars, Happy Meal toys… and on rare occasions, even a washcloth.

I think the next time he’s under for a hundred million minutes, I’ll thin out the flotsam (or is it jetsam?) so we can both breathe (or not) a bit easier.

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Check out the other “When I’m Five Years Old…” posts. And for more splashy fun, be sure to visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook!

“When I’m Five Years Old…” LEGO Edition

October 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Let’s see… we’ve covered miraculous growth spurts, accelerated maturity, and avoidance tactics. Now we come to the I WANT EVERYTHING portion of this series.

When I'm Five Years Old - LEGO

You’ve got to hand it to LEGO. They were a pretty popular toy when I was a kid, but nothing to lose your mind over. Yet somewhere along the way, they went from being huge piles of plastic bricks you made stuff from to elaborate kits with bazillions of teeny, tiny pieces branded to every pop culture property you can imagine. Okay, there were kits back in the olden days, too — but not like they have now. And my son (and nearly every other boy I know, and quite a few girls) are ravenous for them.

We’re at a point right now where Jon’s fingers and dexterity are still not quite developed enough to put together the bazillions of teeny, tiny pieces on his own. Combine that with my too-large fingers and too-old eyes, and building LEGO sets are not my favorite father/son activity.

And never mind how OCD I get thinking about all of these kits and their bazillions of teeny, tiny pieces being assembled once, played with a few times, falling apart piece-by-piece, and eventually ending up all mixed together in the same box… never to be re-assembled the same way again. AUGH! I’m all for free-form creativity, but if we’re gonna shell out the bucks for the kit, and go through the trouble to configure these things, can’t we just dip them in hot glue, throw them on a shelf and call it a day?

Alas, no. That isn’t the way it works. And by “it,” I mean the mind of an almost-5-year-old. Or perhaps the sinister machinations of the LEGO necromancers. Either way, I don’t stand a chance.
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Check out all the other installments of “When I’m Five Years Old…” and share your own child’s aspirations in the comments.

For more fun and creativity, be sure to visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook!

“When I’m Five Years Old…” Broccoli Edition

October 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

It’s no secret that the struggle with our 4-year-old and food has been long, frustrating and fraught with many, many carbs. As with a lot of kids his age, tastes change as frequently as the Power Rangers’ uniforms. Sometimes it’s Banana Week, other times Apple Week. But it’s almost nearly never an Anything Green Week — which is surprising since green has been his favorite color since he could tell us so.

Yet as we near his fifth birthday, in addition to the personal goals, the promises are starting to pile on as well. Thanks to a book we recently read, Jon now knows that broccoli gives you gas, which elicited the expected glee (and gas). Seeing an opportunity to encourage some veggie digestion, I played up how fun it would be to eat broccoli and all the smelly farts he would have. Being my well-trained son, he of course took it to the next level, proclaiming…

When I'm Five Years Old - Brocolli

As long as he’s eating healthy, I suppose I can wear a gas mask during dinner. But I’m not holding my breath.

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Check out all the other installments of “When I’m Five Years Old…” and share your own child’s aspirations in the comments!

For more delicious fun (and the occasional fart joke), trot over to Facebook and like the Designer Daddy page!

“When I’m Five Years Old…” Movies Edition

October 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

As I mentioned in my first installment, Jon’s list of things he wants when he turns five is exhaustive and exhausting. In addition to things he wants to be (taller) and have (all manner of toys), there are things he wants to experience. Things that are well above what’s appropriate for his age. He claims he’s not afraid of anything (except for getting shots, going into a darkened room alone, biting spiders and vegetables) — and I’m proud when he’s my brave, little toaster. But I’m not ready for him to be 100% fearless yet. He’s got stuff to learn, limits to experience, dangers to fully comprehend. Like cyborg assassins from the future.

When I'm Five Years Old... Movies Edition

SPOILER ALERT! THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Stay tuned for more sequels to “When I’m five years old…”

On your way out of the theater, leave a comment telling us what movies well above their age range your little ones are clamoring to see. Or ones you saw long before you were ready.

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For more family-friendly(ish) fun… stampede, swim or crawl (because the lower half of your cybernetic body has been severed) over to Facebook and like the Designer Daddy page. I’ll bring the popcorn!

“When I’m Five Years Old…”

October 13, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

It’s hard to wrap my head around it, but in just a few weeks I will be the father of a 5-year-old. The time seems to have raced past (oftentimes knocking me on my ass), but of course for our little big boy, it can’t go fast enough. Ever since Jon understood he was a certain number and that there were other numbers higher than his, he’s longed to be higher, bigger, older, faster… and just all around more. As if that were even possible.

Yet as he’s gotten closer to his quinquennial anniversary on Earth, the plans Jon has made for when that day arrives have grown more specific, more elaborate, and good god, more frequent. So between now and his birthday, I’ll be randomly posting a sampling of the things our ambitious boy has declared he will do/be/have when he turns five years old.

When I'm Five Years Old

But wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for further installments of “When I’m five years old…”

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Don’t wait for YOUR next birthday… pop over to Facebook and like the Designer Daddy page, join in the fun and share the love!

Happy Birthday Son! Love, Your Soon-To-Be (Legally) Married Dads & the State of Maryland

November 7, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Victory Speeches, Birthday Wishes & Wedding Bells

Exhausted from a very trying week and a half, I stayed up as late as I could to watch election (and Question 6) results last night. I gave up around 11 and trudged upstairs to get ready for bed — and when I came out of the bathroom, the election had been called for Obama. I went to sleep happy about that, but stressed knowing the votes for Question 6 were uncomfortably close.

I woke up around 1am to pee, checked Facebook and started tearing up reading all the posts about the victory for marriage equality in Maryland. And not just general “Woohoo!” posts, but status updates from several friends announcing their intentions to get married in 2013, as well as many, many posts, emails and messages to me personally congratulating our family.

After my 1am nature call/sigh of relief/internal jump for joy, I updated my Facebook status:

Woke up to pee and am now tearing up after checking Facebook and seeing that same-sex marriage will finally be legal in Maryland. Can’t wait to tell Jon in the morning (on his 3rd birthday) that Daddy and Papa are gonna get married!

But at 6:30am (after a very un-fitful night of non-sleep) I was awakened by JJ turning on our light and then loudly whining because Papa couldn’t play with him because Papa had to plunge the toilet and couldn’t find said plunger, so then I had to get up and help hunt for it, as well as appease the cranky (now) 3 year-old and change a very wet diaper. Needless to say, there were no birds chirping sweetly, flitting about and putting wedding garlands in my hair.

But as I was changing JJ’s diaper, I wished him Happy Birthday and told him I had a special birthday surprise for him: Daddy and Papa were going to get married! His reaction was to stare in mild confusion and disinterest. I reminded him he had been to Uncle Baby’s and Aunt Amy’s wedding (which he was too young to remember)… still no reaction. I told him, “You get to be the ring bearer!” <Blinks>

A few minutes later when Papa came downstairs, I asked JJ to tell Papa what I’d told him. I of course had to jog his memory about the whole marriage thing, but when I asked him to tell what he (JJ) was going to do at the wedding, he declared proudly, “I”m get to ring the bell!”

We already have rings, so we don’t technically need a ring bearer. And besides, the image of JJ running around ringing a big, loud bell after his Daddy and Papa say their legal “I Do’s” and become his married dads seems just about perfect.

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Here are a few of my favorite congratulatory messages:

Congrats to Marylanders! Brent & Nick, I am so there when (and if) you decide to get married. Whether it’s a big blow-out like last time or a quiet city hall affair, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Love you both!! And your little boo-boo too!

My old friend Brent is just one of many citizens of Maryland who can finally get married to the person he loves! Let go of prejudice! Gold bless America!

My [Facebook] feed is pretty good for now. A few people have been negative nancies, but not too bad. I have one friend in Maryland who made me teary this morning because he got up to pee in the middle of the night and saw that gay marriage is now legal in his state… he was so happy that he could tell his son today, on his 3rd birthday, that his dads are going to get married. That made me happy.

HUGS!!!! Yay to your family!!!

CONGRATULATIONS my friend!!! Happy happy joy joy!!

I just found out that my brother and his partner of 15 years are now allowed to get married and have a “legal” family with their son. I love and look up to them both so much. They set such a wonderful example and inspiration not as gays but as people who love and make it work every day. They’ve taught me so much over the years and guided me out of my naiveté, to prevent heartache and prolonged drama that plague so many in our community. They deserve the best life and happiness. When I grow up, I want to be just like them.

DDQ&A: David Sopp

February 25, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS MY KID DIGS

David Sopp is the head designer- and illustrator-in-charge at Wry Baby, one of my all-time favorite baby product-making companies. David is also co-owner with copywriter wife Kelly, where they have birthed such awesome creations as The Drooly Bib, Punkifier Pacifier Case and Eeek! It’s a Monster Hooded Bath Towel, all of which Designer Daddy JJ owns and loves.


Q&A with designer dad David Sopp

How long have you been a dad? How many kids?
I’ve been a Dad to one amazing boy for 11 years.

How did you get started in design?
My first paid job was illustrating a hose-handling guide for the Orange County Fire Department. I was in Junior High and it sounded as hilariously dirty then as it does now.

Designer Daddy's rendering. Not from actual guide.

I spent 15 years as an advertising art director in San Francisco. I worked on pretty much everything from Dell and Nortel to Star Olive Oil and an IHL hockey team called the Spiders. That’s what I like most about advertising, getting really smart about all kinds of businesses in really short time frames and nailing their problems.

Tell me about how Wry Baby got started.
Our son came with a free t-shirt at the hospital. It said the hospital name and the wrong month and we thought, “How lame! Why didn’t they just put NEW! In a red starburst and call it a day?” So we made that shirt and it was the first Wry Baby product.

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