Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

December 12, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

In an attempt to discourage JJ from yanking ornaments off our tree, I gave him a Christmas tree of his very own. I pulled out my collection of superhero ornaments and together we put them on this nifty little tree. I even set it up outside his room on a piece of white foam paper — it looks like snow and keeps the table from getting scratched. How smart and crafty of me!

I went in the kitchen to fix dinner, leaving him to undecorate/redecorate to his heart’s content. A few minutes later I heard a telltale “Uh-oh”...

…and went to check and this (below) had happened. I realized I should have told him that these weren’t like his other superheroes, and that the arms and legs didn’t move. So I did, put poor Iron Man with the other toys in the “to be fixed” pile, and went back to making dinner.


DooDad of the Day: Number Tree Growth Chart

October 19, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

I haven’t done a DooDad in awhile — there’s such an onslaught of cool/cute stuff out there, I sometimes don’t know what to focus on — although I have started throwing some stuff up on Pinterest. But this one comes from someone I actually know, so wanted to give it a special shout out.

Growing Tree growth chart & detail

Designing a growth chart for JJ has been on my (much too ambitious) to-do list, and he’ll probably be 6 feet tall before I get around to it — so I might just have to buy one of these awesome charts from Mixt Studio, owned by Californian designer/mom Marcie Carson. We met a few years ago in Louisville, KY where we were judging a design competition. She was also blogging at the time and hers was one that inspired me to start Designer Daddy, so I’ve kept up with her ever since.

I really dig these because they’re smartly designed and fun, but not over-the-top kiddie-looking. Plus it’s nice to see a kid’s product that’s not tied into a TV show, movie, or — dare I say it — superhero. Marcie gave me a little extra info on the growth charts… and a deal on FREE SHIPPING!

Do they come with any stickers or ways to mark a child’s height?
They are made of canvas, so you can write directly on them with a pen. A Sharpie is best, but even a ballpoint will do.

What inspired the designs?
Most of my inspiration comes from my two children… what they (and their friends) like to play with. I also pay close attention to decorating trends in children’s rooms. All of our designs are playful without being too cutesy.

Do you have any new products coming up soon?
We just added several new growth chart designs, including some cool new themes like 70s beach, retro skateboard, and Guatemalan stripes. Please offer a FREE SHIPPING CODE to your readers: “GoodKarma”

Check out all the styles… and take some time to poke around all the other cool products while you’re there. And be sure and tell Marcie I sent ya.

Sit Happens: Potty Training

February 8, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

We’re not in full-on toilet training mode just yet, but it’s just around the corner. Every time Papa or I go to the bathroom, JJ runs in after us shouting “PEEPEEPOOPOO! PEEPEEPOOPOO!” He then sits on his own ‘lil training seat (below), hops up in a few seconds, then pulls its lever to “flush.” Isn’t that just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Yes, I realize I may change my mind once it has actual urine and feces in it…

JJ’s other potty duty dooty is flushing the toilet for us, and then waving “Bye bye pee pee!”, closing the lid*, and then washing his hands. So far all of his bathroom experiences have been pretty non-traumatic (other than trying to flush a full roll of paper) which I hear is key in a successful transition to big-boy pants.

So you can imagine my alarm when my Mom sent me this photo, asking if we wanted it for JJ.

This monstrosity is my Dad’s training toilet, unearthed while my parents were going through my recently deceased Grandmother’s things. Last used during the Truman administration, it looks to be made entirely of dark wood, with a faded Dick & Jane-type illustration on the back. While I’m all about vintage furnishings, I couldn’t see us using this for anything except maybe an outdoor planter. Or perhaps if we lived in the American Horror Story house.

I mean seriously — faced with the daunting task of pooping on your own for the first time, which would you prefer? The bright-and-shiny, super-smiley “Cheer for Me! Potty? Or the miniature electric chair? I don’t know how anyone survived childhood before Fisher-Price…

*We also recently purchased these awesome toilet seats (I know, I’m getting excited about toilet seats…) that close slowly so as not to smash baby’s fingers. We even got one that’s called “Next Step” and has a smaller training seat magnetically attached to the lid that can come down to aid in potty training. Ain’t technology grand?

Getting Crafty with Christmas Cards

December 22, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I’ll admit right up front that I don’t know if I came up with this idea or if I got it from Martha. But I’ve been doing it for the last seven or eight years, so let’s just say I invented it… cool?

The problem: how to display your Holiday cards in a fun and festive manner that doesn’t clutter up your already immaculately decorated (or overly-tchotchkied) home. Most design magazines and sites offer solutions for this, but they only look good if you get about 5 cards.

The solution: Door Decor!

Quick & easy way to display Christmas cards!

Supplies needed:
– 2″ wide ribbon, 25-28 feet long
– thumbtacks or staple gun
– jingle bells or non-breakable ornaments (4)
– paper clips

1. To measure how much you’ll need, roll the ribbon up one side and down the other of the door you plan to use. Allow for a few extra inches at each end to attach the bell or ornament.
2. Tie bell or ornament to each end of the ribbon — this helps weigh the ribbon down until it’s covered in cards.
3. Drape ribbon over the door and tack or staple on top of door.
4. Attach cards to ribbon with paper clips. There are a huge variety of paper clips these days: round, star shaped, colored. But plain old silver works just fine, too.

Quick & easy way to display Christmas cards!

I used to put bells at the bottom, which made for a nice jingle every time we opened or closed the door. But with a sleeping baby toddler nearby we replaced them with quieter (but more sparkly!) snowflake ornaments.

Quick & easy way to display Christmas cards!

I’d recommend a door that doesn’t get a ton of use (so not the front door). We used the one to our upstairs, which stays closed when JJ’s awake and open when he’s in bed. So we put the cards with photos of kids and animals on the side he sees more often.

Quick & easy way to display Christmas cards!

Feel free to share in the comments any card-displaying ideas you’ve found helpful.

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For lots more craftiness & cheer, visit and like Designer Daddy on Facebook!

Advent In An Hour: Dec 7

December 7, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

This Christmas has been particularly fun because JJ is now old enough to get that something special is going on. We say “Night, night tree!” before bed each evening, he loves repeating his new favorite word “snowman,” and enjoys calling out all the colored lights. Which, in case you’re wondering, are wed, gween, bwoo, wite, peek, and aye-oh (that’s yellow).

It’s also been a bit of a learning curve… for all of us. A lesson Papa and I learned? Don’t put breakable ornaments where JJ can reach them. What JJ learned? Yes, it’s a ball. No, it doesn’t bounce.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 4

December 5, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Yesterday we went and picked out our tree at a church up the street, same as we’ve done for many years past. But this year Christmas with JJ (his third!) is beginning to be really fun, since he’s old enough to start enjoying all the traditions that are such a big part of the season. In all honesty I’ve grown weary of some of it over the last few years — mainly because we’ve just amassed so much stuff! (Thank God we have a big basement…) But it’s important for me to try to see things through JJ’s perspective: all the colors, sounds, textures, smells, and flavors of Christmas. It will certainly make it more enjoyable — and memorable — for both of us!

Of course he wants the one in the middle of the stack...

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.


The Mural Project: Coming down to the line…

October 26, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

…and the dot and the swirl and the squiggle.

My goal (well, my latest goal — there have been several) was to have Jon’s mural done by his second birthday. Or more importantly, his second birthday party. Which is exactly 10 days away. Zoinks.

I have made some progress, which is posted below. Let me know what you think, and please continue to cheer me on. The end is in sight! Let’s just hope I don’t go crazy and — as I’m prone to do — overdo it. No “undo” command on this bad boy.

Before dots, my go-to design element was the "swirl." It was all the rage in the 90s.

Look, the dots have grown stems!

A wider shot — Jon was quite excited about all the new "gween."

Lord willing (and the creek don’t rise), I’ll be back here in 10 days, posting pics of the final product!

The Mural Project: Meanwhile…


Okay, so it’s been embarrassingly forever since I’ve either posted about or worked on the mural for JJ’s wall. I had shot photos of the room, taken down what was hanging on the wall, and even purchased paint. But several weeks later I realized I was never, EVER going to get anything done on the weekend because JJ’s either a) asleep in his room or b) running around needing to be corralled. I was ready to throw in the brush and declare myself an unfit Designer Daddy…

But then Papa had the idea to let JJ nap upstairs in his pack-n-play. And there ya go, I had the time to get some painting done. Take a gander at a few photos of my “progress.”

You can never go wrong with a few colored polka dots

If you’ve seen this blog (which you have) or the site for my day job, or quite a few other things I’ve worked on, you can tell I like me some dots. Polka dots seem to cycle in and out of vogue, but I’ve been a fan from way back. Comic books, pop art, TV screens — some of my favorite things at their root are made up of polka dots.

By the way, I gotta give Martha props on her awesome Specialty Sponges. Great for all your polka-dotting needs.

The changing table doubles as a handy paint-mixing station.

And it’s more than kind of intentional that I’m using JJ’s three favorite colors: “bwoo”, “gwee”, and “puh-pah.” Is there anything in this world cuter than toddler-speak? Pwobawy not.

Can you tell I'm making this up on the fly? There is a (loose) plan, I swear.

And what did JJ think of his room now that it’s covered in what looks like Candy Pox? His exact words were “WOOOOWWWW. Bubbles!” I’d say that was about the most rewarding critique I’ve ever gotten.

More to come…

The Mural Project

February 6, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Since before JJ was born, I’ve had grand fantasies of introducing him to all kinds of art and culture at an early age. One of the more ambitious dreams was to paint a mural on his nursery wall. I have a maniacally crafty friend who had painted a cloud fresco on her son’s ceiling, as well as various fantastical creatures on the walls and even the furniture (photos to come) — so I had that inspiring/intimidating me. And of course there’s this wondrous monstrosity:

Yet here we are 15 months later, and nary a brush stroke has been made. So I thought I’d share the process with everyone here for two reasons: 1) So that others could learn from and be entertained by my mistakes, and 2) To hold myself accountable to actually getting it done.


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