jolly holiday

#TBE (Throwback Easter)

April 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | QUICKPIC, SCRAPBOOKING

With wedding plans having taken up so much time lately, Easter has been relegated to an afterthought. Having grown up the son of a preacher man, Easter was a pretty big deal. I’ve always wondered what families that celebrate just the bunnies and egg hunts and craploads of candy get out of Easter. But now we’re kind of one of those families, so when I realized we weren’t going to my parents’ house for the Big E, I felt, I don’t know…nostalgic. Perhaps homesick? Maybe even the tiniest bit guilty.

I’m thinking maybe my mom’s super psychic mom-powers are enhanced during Holy Week, because now she and my dad are driving the almost 2 hours to visit us. It’s more likely they want to smooch on their favorite grandson, seen here in a Throwback Easter pic from two years ago…
.

throwback easter bunny

Yes, he’s going to hate me for this someday. I don’t care.

.
So while having my parents around will ease some of the glumness I felt last week, it won’t keep me from being nostalgic about this little bunny boy who continues to grow and grow by leaps and bounds, and who no longer allows me to dress him up in such adorable humiliating get-ups.

Sigh. I could stare at this all day…but I gotta go hide some eggs. Happy Easter everybody!

Hide-and-Seek with Mr. Moon, or How I Broke My Son’s Heart on Valentine’s Day

February 20, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LEARNING CURVES

hide-and-seek

During the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, Papa and I had both been away at conferences, overlapping by only a few hours at home, tagging in to take the next multi-day shift of solo parenting. A few days later Papa had to leave again for a business trip, during which time yet another snow storm dumped all over the East Coast, leaving him stranded in Chicago and me and JJ stranded indoors at home. Luckily we never lost power, though the snow was certainly deep enough and the wind windy enough. We did our best to entertain ourselves with movies, dinosaur puzzles, epic Ninja Turtle battles and cupcake-making. Yet a couple of times I felt cabin fever taking hold—so when the all clear came for the boy to go back to school, there was great rejoicing and sighing with relief.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

How I Met Your Father

February 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MY 2 DADS, SCRAPBOOKING

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
.

brentnick1997

Daddy & Papa, circa 1997

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Stage Fright: My Child’s First Time at the Theater

February 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, LEARNING CURVES

A couple of months ago we took JJ to his first live theater experience, and something odd happened. A friend who works at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in DC suggested we check out a kids’ holiday show being produced by Arts on the Horizon, part of Atlas’ Theatre for the Very Young season. While JJ had gotten through his first full movie theater showing, we’d yet to expose him to any live theater. The Washington area has a wealth of options for kid-friendly programming, we just weren’t sure our little ball of energy was ready for them. Or they for him.

But the show was called Drumming With Dishes: Holiday Edition, so it sounded like it would be nice and loud and chaotic. Great to mask the likely din created by a crowd of rowdy preschoolers, but requiring earplugs and Advil for us weary parents.

The day arrived, JJ seemingly excited for this new adventure. Our drive was a good 40 minutes. We parked across the street from the theater and JJ and I went on ahead while Papa paid for parking. Yet as we started to cross, my usually outgoing son started stalling. He said he didn’t want to go, that he in fact wanted to go home. What-the-huh?

We stopped on the sidewalk a block away and I asked why. “I just not want to go!” was his pouty reply. I tried walking with him a few more steps and his fear and resistance only increased. I’m not sure if he was scared of the unknown experience or unfamiliar neighborhood, or if the planets were misaligned just so. Whatever the cause, I was determined to find a way to make this happen.

Papa caught up and I explained the situation. He and JJ stayed outside while I went in to scope things out. I made my way through the lobby, weaving through groups of kids, parents, babies and grandparents. As I picked up our tickets, I overheard an employee say they’d be leading everyone to a play area before the show began. Good thinking — they’d done this before.

I went back out and the three of us forged back in. As we got inside the door, I explained we were going to a playroom. No response. As we walked down the hall, following a herd of other families, we stopped so he could bang on a timpani drum. Meh. As we got near to the playroom, I saw a door open to where our performance would be. I asked the attendant if we could peek inside. We took a quick look into the black box theater, but I could tell my little ‘fraidy tot wasn’t interested.

The playroom was a neighboring black box, with rows of seats against the back wall and a collection of toys and baskets of books in a corner. We sat down in the front row of chairs, I got some books for JJ, then went to the bathroom. When I returned, Papa and JJ were on the back row of chairs, looking through a book, while all of the other kids ran around. This was going to be interesting, I thought.

lap

A first-time theater-goer timidly watches from afar.

. READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Designer Daddy’s Greatest Hits of 2013

January 1, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, LEARNING CURVES, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

collage-1

2013 was a pretty monumental year, both personally and blogally(?). So for all of the awesome, new readers I’ve met recently — as well as longtime loyalists — here’s a recap of my favorite posts from the last 12 months!

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

An Open Letter to Photo Card Companies: LGBT Families Celebrate Christmas, Too

December 17, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY 2 DADS, RASPBERRIES, SCRAPBOOKING

COLLAGE2

I want to preface by saying that I find articles titled “An open letter to…” a bit pompous and self-important. So with that, please enjoy this pompous, self-important open letter to the makers of holiday photo cards — in particular the four companies (un)fortunate enough to have me on their mailing lists.

One of my favorite and longest-running holiday traditions is designing our family’s holiday card. I first created a card for Papa and myself in 2001, and haven’t skipped a year since. With the onset of daddyhood, a requisite family photo has been incorporated into now dominates the design. However, a couple of years ago, I was forced to use <gasp!> an online photo card company. I was not a happy Designer Daddy. It’s like if Santa had to send all the presents FedEx. This was due to restrictions set by the photographer we used, yet it ended up being a relatively pleasant experience, even if I couldn’t claim it as an original DD creation.

As this year has had an above-normal level of stress, it crossed my mind to save some time and sanity and browse the photo card catalogs we’d received. Whenever I came across a layout I liked, I tried to picture our goofy mugs in place of the picture perfect families smiling back at me. But as I turned page after page after page, I found myself growing disheartened, searching in vain for a photo of a two dad or two mom family. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, considering very few companies of any kind feature same-sex couples or LGBT parents in their marketing or advertising. Even the ones that are historically inclusive rarely show gays or lesbians outside of LGBT publications or broadcasts.

So I did a little experiment. I went back and scoured each of the catalogs I’d gotten, tallying up the families, couples and kids featured in all their glowing, photogenic glory, in order to get some concrete(ish) information. While I was at it, I also took a look at how people of color were represented.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Holiday Decorating Ideas: Christmas Terrarium

December 12, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA

Last year about this time I was suffering from my usual Holidays Over-commitment Burnout Lethargy (or HOBL), but was determined to muster some of that elusive Xmas Spirit and do at least one creative thing. I discovered my muse in the form of a Christmas Terrarium (yes, I realize how gay that sounds) made from all sorts of “found objects” and a bit of late-night Christmas Eve gumption.

To me, the best craft/art projects are simple and straightforward, especially when it comes to Holiday decorating ideas. If I have to learn to use a soldering gun or wear protective gear or mix any kind of potion, I haven’t got the patience. The fun for me comes from the spontaneity of pulling together unrelated items, creating something new and hopefully bringing a smile to someone’s face…even if it’s just mine.

So here’s what I used (with links of where to purchase, if available)…

  • Cake pedestal: Received as a gift ages ago — we’ve used it for actual cake maybe 2 times. But it’s gorgeous as hell and was the perfect base for my Christmassy masterpiece. I couldn’t find the same one, but Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel have some nice options.
  • Miniature trees: I’ve been collecting Christmas trees for the last 15 years, but was short on the super shorties. So I hit the baking shop (cookie cutter) and toy store (model train set pine tree) to fill out my forest.
  • Paper Easter grass. Regular Easter grass was too shimmery for my taste.
  • Miniature LED lights. I snatched these up at our local hardware store even before I knew what I’d use them for. I used white, but they come in pretty much any color full-size Christmas lights do.
  • Small glass ornaments. I toyed with using white felt or something to make snow, but it just looked goofy. These kind of imply snow…or just a bunch of shiny balls. Either way, I thought it looked purty.

I know it probably looks like I just laid all this stuff on a platter and called it a day, but it did take a bit of trail-and-error (and a rum & coke or two) to get it looking magical and not monsoon-ical.

The trees are kinda flimsy, so put down lights and grass first, covering the bottom of the platter evenly. The lights come with a little battery pack, which you can hide under grass or let hang out the back. Keep the lights on while you’re arranging everything, so you don’t cover too many up. Wiggle your trees in place, pushing aside the grass and lights so they’re resting directly on the pedestal, then place the balls around to fill in the gaps. Gently put on the cover, trim off any extra grass, and voila! A Winter Wonderland Under Glass!

Helpful Hint: Wash the pedestal and cover before beginning. If you forget and get it all together, smudges will only look worse when backlit. TRUST ME, I KNOW.

tererium1

Serve covered…

tererium2

…or uncovered.

.
And for the craft-averse who thinks this is WAAAYYY too precious for your cynical sensibilities, I whipped up something silly and snarky just for you…

nativity2

Okay, maybe it’s a little sacrilegious, too. Click to view detail — you know you want to.

For my Nerd Nativity™ I used a small cheese platter (again, it’s had cheese on it maybe ONCE). It didn’t work with the cover, so I hot glued a star-shaped cookie cutter to the top and put it on a red salad plate to make an even mini-er tree terrarium.

trees2

trees3

This is a great activity to do with the kids, either for putting it together or having them run all over the house looking for things to include (JJ loved dumping every last figure out of his toy box). Put them on the kitchen counter, as a Christmas dinner centerpiece or in the kids’ room as the coolest nightlight ever.

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

If you try one, be sure and send me a pic and I’ll share it on the Designer Daddy Facebook Page!

Happy Crafting and Happy Holidays!

 

Oh Christmas Tees! Oh Christmas Tees!

November 26, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY

A couple of years ago I had a momentary lapse of seasonal sense and embarked on producing a daily blog post/doodle for the first 25 days of December. While I was proud of the final result, it was way too much during a time of year already known for a whole lot of way too much.

However, I’ve re-purposed a couple of my favorites of those doodles into tee shirts that are now available in the Designer Daddy Store! Please buy lots and lots (or one) of them. Great for white elephant gifts, stocking stuffers, baby showers and long winter’s naps. The 3XLs also make nice tree skirts.

Click on each image below to be taken directly to that page in the store.

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

turtledoves-sample
TWO TURTLE DOVES:
comes in infant onesie, kids’ long-sleeve tees, and short- and long-sleeve adult tees (up to 5XL in some colors); various colors available.

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

falala-gay
.
.
FA-LA-LA-ABULOUS: comes in short- and long-sleeve adults tees (up to 5XL in some colors); various colors available. Infant onesie and long-sleeve kids’ tee (minus the agenda-pushing “gay apparel” slogan) also available.

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

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
HANUKKAH BONUS! (kind of) I sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and one of the songs we’re performing in our Holiday show this year is the Spanish-flavored Hanukkah song “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight Little Candles). But from week one of rehearsal, all I could hear when we sang it was…

ocho-condoleezzas
OCHO CONDOLEEZZAS
:
comes in short- and long-sleeve Hanes adult tees, and 2 different styles of American Apparel tees; various colors available.

As you can see, whether your ideal Holiday is precious, fabulous or slightly off-kilter, Designer Daddy has got you covered. ACT NOW! Operators are (not) standing by!

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

Love this blog but not yet a fan of the Designer Daddy Facebook page? Well let’s get that fixed, shall we? You don’t want to miss out on all the extra fun and fabulosity, now would you?

Halloween Highlights: Creepy & Creative

November 8, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, MY INNER MARTHA, SCRAPBOOKING

Halloween is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. All the decorating, crafts, food and fun of Christmas crammed into a shorter period of time and without having to log all that extra church time. PLUS COSTUMES!

We had multiple events, all of which were an opportunity to put on my Designer Daddy hat (or horn, as it were) and we had a blast! Here are a few Halloween highlights…

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

The first event was the Saturday before Halloween – a fundraiser/fair at JJ’s preschool, the “TODDLER BOOOOGIE!” For this occasion, JJ went as Batman. Yes, there were multiple costumes. You were expecting different from a super-hero obsessed toddler with two gay dads?
.

batman

Batman’s still figuring out the fit of his new costume.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Caption The Batman!

October 31, 2013 | By Brent Almond | QUICKPIC, SCRAPBOOKING

A big Bat-Thanks to everyone who submitted a caption! Here’s my favorite, from Andy Miller, co-founder of The Handsome Father and dad to a similarly-aged son. He pretty much wins for being the most accurate.

batman

May your Halloween Day be filled with joy and laughter and your Halloween Night be free of sugar-induced meltdowns!

{Hugs} + #Hashtags,
Designer Daddy