“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.

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

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!

A gay toy that pees. You know, for kids!

August 23, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

A wee bit ago, I got my all-time oddest product review request. It was for UBBAS bath toys, which are essentially rubber cups — somewhat people-shaped — that can hold hands, hug, and pee. They come in four varieties: Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister. Did I mention the peeing part? Because Papa and Brother UBBA pee straight out, while Mama and Sister UBBA pee straight down.

Yup, a gay toy that pees. I told you it was odd.

I OF COURSE SAID YES. Who better to review a cleverly-designed toy for kids with gay parents?


The family that pees together, um… I got nothin.

UBBAS Bath Cups
were created by designer Rob Spalding as a tool that offers a fun, loving representation of family for kids of same-sex parents. Each is sold separately, so I got 2 Papas and 1 Brother, natch. It’s also meant to open dialog with your kids about their bodies. You know, because of the peeing.

Now I’ve been griping since before JJ was born about the lack of books, toys, shows, etc. that portray kids with same-sex parents. It’s a large part of what motivates me to blog or do any of the advocacy I do – to make sure JJ sees other examples of families like his, so that he’s confident and well-equipped to answer questions or deal with conflicts he might face because of his unique family makeup. But I’ll admit to being a little weirded out by this toy. I’m a fairly liberal guy, but the thought of mixing same-sex parents, bath time and peeing just sounded skeevy. Not to mention a tough sell to mainstream America.


Bath Toys: When to Keep, When to Trash

August 12, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, JJ has been watching bits of TNMT and Power Rangers, which induces lots of karate-chopping craziness, and which I do not love. So I convinced him we should scroll down the cool Netflix “By Character” menu, and JJ re-discovered one of his (and my) early favorites, RubbaDubbers.

Inspired by this welcome regression, your old(ish) pal Designer Daddy has whipped up this handy chart to help you cull that tidal wave of crap bath toys amassing in the tub.

Be sure and click on it to enjoy all its squeaky clean wonderfulness. And because teeny, tiny type.

bath toys when to keep, when to trash


Some of you may be thinking, “But what if I want to CLEAN the bath toys instead of just throwing them out?”

I have a couple of suggestions for you:
A) Ain’t nobody got time for that!
B) My pal over at The Daddy Doctrines did a post recently on cleaning nasty bath toys.

Happy scrubbing, everybubbly!

QuickPic: The Thrills of Summer

July 24, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

I’m sorting through my thoughts about our recent trip to visit JJ’s birthparents. It’s taking me longer than I’d planned… In the meantime, please enjoy this montage of JJ performing what appears to be a one-man “Thriller” flash mob at a fountain in downtown Salt Lake City.

Ah, the thrills of summer!




[It was hard to fit so much cuteness and hilarity on the page, so please click each row to enlarge.]

Making Waves! or How I Got a Major Toy Company to Do My Bidding


I’ve been buying the Fisher-Price Imaginext DC action figures for JJ for a while now. I will be the first to admit I get as big a kick (or bigger) out of them as he does. Although he DOES love them — he carts them around in a little bee lunch bag thing, takes them out and lines them up, has them fight each other, forms alliances and families, etc. And as with all things Fisher-Price, they’re super sturdy and cute as hell. (I’m a FP fan from waaaaayyy back.)

But my gripe with these toys is that they didn’t include an Aquaman figure. And anyone who knows me well realizes what a big gripe this would be. To add insult to injury, Marvel has an equally adorable (and similarly-sized) line of action figures, many of which I’ve bought for JJ as well. I grew up almost exclusively on DC Comics, but I’ve bitten the bullet for an opportunity to teach my son diplomacy and bi-partisanship. And did I mention the cuteness?

DC and Marvel in peaceful co-existence

I did find an Aquaman (and Wonder Woman) that are almost the same size. However they’re not as posable and can barely stand. JJ repeatedly gets frustrated and either asks yells at me to help or just chucks them on the floor.

JJ demonstrating how easily this Aquaman figure falls down on the job

Wonder Woman should consider more sensible footwear.

So in my frustration obsession I poked around and discovered you can suggest toys to Fisher-Price — and I was pleasantly surprised to find I wasn’t the first to complain about the lack of Aqua-presence (or Wonder Woman/general female presence) in this particular line. So I went ahead and created an official “My FP Ideas” page for both an Aquaman and Wonder Woman figure, then rallied my friends over at The Aquaman Shrine. They in turn encouraged quite a few others to add to my request in hopes that our voices would be heard. I felt satisfied I’d done all I could, but wasn’t particularly hopeful.

Fast-forward a couple of months… The other night I went on the Fisher-Price site to use a coupon for some early birthday shopping for JJ, and Atlantis be Praised!there was the Aquaman figure, all shiny and cute and orange/green/gold*… and for sale! JJ will have to wait a couple more months to play with the Bat Cave I bought him, but he’ll be kicking bad guy butt with his new Aquaman in 5-8 business days! And yes, so will Daddy.

If you’ve read this far, you must either be a fellow Aquaman fan, or are intrigued by my level of geekiness. Either way, I do feel proud — if not a bit delusional — in having contributed to this figure being produced, and thus my son (and me) having a super cute Aquaman to battle alongside Supes and Spidey. Someday when JJ’s a rebellious teenager, complaining how I never did anything for him, I’ll just direct him to this post.

*So my only complaint about the new figure (and I have to complain, it’s what us comics fans do) is that Aquaman has YELLOW boots. He’s never had yellow boots. Ever. And Aquaman has had his fair share of costume changes over the years (black briefs/green tights, no briefs/green tights, long hair/beard/no hand, hook for a hand, water for a hand, blue costume, even yellow GLOVES) so I’m not sure where this came from. I do, however, like the nifty Robo Shark. The caption on the site says, “Press fin down for chomping action!” I kinda like that he comes with a shark — it’s more badass than Aquaman’s previous fishy sidekicks, which included Topo the Octopus and Storm the Seahorse.

Daddy’s iPad Playlist 08.05.12


JJ and I spent part of a rainy, Sunday afternoon in one our favorite places — snuggled up together transfixed by the soft glow of my iPad. I try not to expose him to it for too long in one sitting (especially when playing games) and never let him have it alone. I know how hard it is for ME to put it down, so I get how traumatic it is for a toddler to have his fix suddenly cut off. I also try to make every experience just the tiniest bit educational. Sometimes it’s miniscule.

08.05.12 PLAYLIST:

Some Pink Panther:
Movie remake opening credits
and “Pink Lemonade” 1978 cartoon episode

Followed by greatest hits from “The Wizard of Oz”:

“Follow The Yellow Brick Road”
“A Munchkin Welcome”
(Lullaby League/Lollipop Guild)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

A little Wonder Woman tutorial:

Theme song (he’s heard it before, but it’s not memorized like Spider-Man or Batman. Gonna take a little extra work.)
How to spin (JJ had been swinging around a dog toy all day pretending it was Wonder Woman’s “wope” so I figured I’d show him how to spin like her, then watch him get dizzy and laugh. Like I said, it was raining—we were bored.)

and finally…

Super Friends: Hawaiian Ice Mystery interactive book/game
This is a relatively new interactive story book from the DC Super Friends line of characters that heavily features my main man, Aquaman! You can go through the story with narration or without, and even record your own voice to tell the story! There are also several activities to choose from including coloring pages, puzzles and a Colorforms-type sticker page. $4.99, ages 4+ (JJ’s not yet 3 but it’s still keeps him busy and entertained. And oh yeah, educated)

Go The F–k To Sleep, The Sequel

June 10, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

It’s been exactly a year since a perfect storm of children’s literature, profanity and the Internet produced Go The Fuck To Sleep. In my previous post on this phenomenon, I surmised the author was already thinking sequels and offered some ideas of my own. Unfortunately, author Adam Mansbach did NOT take my advice, and went with the very lame, backpedaling follow-up Seriously, Just Go To Sleep. Yawn.

Well, it’s been a year and my sometimes hard-to-get-to-sleep 1-1/2 year old is now a never-still-for-a-minute 2-1/2 year old. So, based on my seasoned, expert experience, I’m again offering — free of charge* — a proposed sequel title:

*Unless he actually uses it. Then this is totally trademarked. © 2012 Designer Daddy

Eggceptional Easter Craftiness

April 12, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

I had originally planned to make a more traditional Easter bunny for JJ using a real, blown-out egg. I’ve done these in the past, and while not as fancy as Martha’s, still turned out pretty nice. Yet on further thought, I decided putting a hollowed out eggshell in the hands of a 2 year old would just be a craft disaster waiting to happen.

But then I saw some over-sized plastic eggs, thought of JJ’s obsession with love of superheroes, and a new idea was hatched. I had intended to make something from all six eggs in the set I bought, but alas only finished one. Still, I’m proud to present… Aquabunny Egg!

Aquabunny chats tubside with the other plastic creatures of the deep.

I was really happy with how it turned out, but upon even further thought, decided to wait and give it to JJ next year, as it’s still pretty delicate for his grabby hands. Plus it looks awfully cool on the shelf with the rest of my Aquaman stuff. Or maybe I’ll mass produce them and sell them on Etsy… any takers?

Aquabunny keeps watch from his perch atop the soap dish.

And in case you’re curious…
plastic egg (I paired a green bottom with an orange top)
foam sheets cut out to create the ears, feet and “A” symbol
pompoms for the nose and tail
googly eyes (for the eyes, duh)
dental floss for the whiskers.

After trying Elmer’s and Krazy, found hot glue to be the most effective in holding all these disparate textures together.

If you make your own, feel free to hop on over and post it to the Designer Daddy Facebook page, or email a pic to me via the blog.

JJ’s Top 10 of 2011

December 30, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

I can’t believe another year has zoomed past, and with that a toddler that’s learned to zoom quite a bit on his own! To recap, here are a few of JJ’s favorite things from 2011…


The Mural Project: Mission Accomplished!

November 9, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Here it is, the finished mural on JJ’s bedroom wall! And not only did I finish painting, but I also hung everything back on the wall (including a couple of new things), put together a mobile, and hung that and a few other mobile-y type things from the ceiling. Needless to say, my back was not in top form during JJ’s party the next day. But that’s why God made Advil, rum, and husbands.

It’s hard to get a great panoramic view of the room (it’s pretty small) but the mural is mostly in one corner, with a bit spilling onto the ceiling and above the windows on either side.


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