BABY LIKE

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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.

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

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Wry Baby Super Sale & Super-er Giveaway

December 5, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DADDY LIKE, DESIGNER BABY

Early on during my dad-dom, one of my favorite places to find cute/cool/clever stuff for the kiddo was Wry Baby. I even got to interview their head creative honcho and fellow designer daddy, David Sapp. The only downside is that JJ has outgrown all of their super fly get-ups — but that doesn’t mean I can’t share the wonderfulness of Wry Baby with the rest of the world!

So just in time for holiday shopping, Designer Daddy is hooking you up with info on a SUPER SALE and an even SUPER-ER GIVEAWAY! Deets on both below…

THE SUPER SNAPSUIT™ SALE!.

wrybaby_one_day_sale

ALL of Wry Baby’s snappy Snapsuits* are half off, so hurry and snap up a sackful!
Great for:
baby showers
stocking stuffers
dressing babies

One Day Only 50% OFF All Snapsuits  |  December 6, 2013  |  wrybaby.com

Begins December 6 at 12:01 am, ends December 6 at 11:59pm. Offer good for in-stock Snapsuits and Super Snapsuits only. Sorry, no rain checks or backorders.

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THE SUPER-ER SWAG GIVEAWAY!
Bypass the over-crowded, non-cool baby superstores this year… Designer Daddy is giving away a pile of FREE AWESOME STUFF! This Wry Baby Swag-A-Palooza prize package includes the following primo items:
A: Born to Be Prom King Snapsuit
B: Born to Be Prom Queen Snapsuit
C: Attack of the 50ft. Baby Stacking Blocks (baby not included)
D: Mysterio Predicts Your Child’s Future T-shirt
E: Bathe Like A Pirate Washcloth Set
Total prize package value in excess of 100 smackeroos!

wrybaby-combo-1

Do the little Rafflecopter thingie below for your chance(s) to win ALL THE STUFF and make your kiddo the hippest/happiest on the block — nay, the world! Contest runs December 5-9, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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*In case you’re wondering, Snapsuits™ are indeed similar to Onesies.® The difference? Onesies® are a registered trademark of Gerber®. So good for Wry Baby — because nobody wants their baby getting sued.

Saving the Day with Superhero Lunch Notes

November 14, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DESIGNER DADDY, SUPERLUNCHNOTES
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click to super-size!

My son started preschool this year, and I wanted to do something special for his first day. I’m no master chef (and he’s a notoriously picky eater) so a super fancy/fun/creative lunch was out of the question. And he already had his Spider-Man backpack and Superman lunch bag and Batman t-shirt — so he was set accessory-wise. Yet I wanted to do something truly, uniquely* Designer Daddy-ish to celebrate this milestone.

That first morning was pretty hectic, as it was a new schedule for all of us. Between making breakfast and getting JJ dressed and brushed and toothbrushed and backpacked, all I ended up having time to do was write “Daddy Hearts U,” on a Post-It note, added a quick doodle of The Flash and snuck it into his lunch bag. I pictured him discovering it at school, being reminded of his dear, old Dad, and bragging to all his new toddler pals how cool I am. Or more likely how cool The Flash is.

the first note

the first note

He loved it. And so the next day I did another, thinking I would do one each day of his first week and leave it at that. However, if you’ve ever had a preschooler, you know how THAT turned out. Toddlers are not known for their flexibility with a routine.

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So here we are… 68 or so days later, and I’m still getting up a few minutes early each day to make JJ a note. But I gotta admit, I’m having a blast. It’s a great way for me to hone both my doodling and pun-making skills. It’s also been pretty cool having JJ’s teachers tell me how thoughtful and creative I am. But really — and not to get too heavy here — it’s all about my legacy. I’m never going to be my son’s sports idol. I don’t have vast carpentry or mechanical or bronco-busting skills to pass down to him. What I have is my love of superheroes and my talent for doodling. This is my way to instill in him a love of those things, and to keep being his superhero for as long as possible. Or until all my Sharpies run out.

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You can view all 68 (and counting) superhero lunch notes on Instagram. I’ll also be mixing them in on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure and let me know where you see them, and which are your favorites!

*While I haven’t found anyone else doing this particular thing, I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to David Laferriere, whose awesome series of sandwich bag doodles definitely inspired me.

Frightful Family Fun at Kings Dominion

October 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DADDY LIKE

The last time I was at Kings Dominion was about a dozen years ago. I recall the faded Hanna-Barbera characters on the parking lot signs, a Nickelodeon play area for the kiddies, and a whole section devoted to the “Wayne’s World” movies. Having not been a parent then (and never a “Wayne’s World” fan) I assumed that was my final visit.

But then I got an offer for the whole family to check out King’s Dominion’s Planet Spooky Halloween shindig, and decided it was time to give it another try.

We met up with blogger pal Oren and his family and jumped right in to experience as much Planet Spooky as we could cram into a day.

SPOILER ALERT: Planet Spooky is really Planet Snoopy tarted up with all manner of Halloween goodies. In addition to the 18 rides normally found in the “world’s largest Planet Snoopy play area,” (There’s more than one? Who knew?) it features a pumpkin painting patch, petting zoo, foam pit, pedal tractors, a hay maze, live shows and more. We either participated in or passed by every one of those  except the “and more”… Unless the “and more” was winning a stuffed Rasta monkey while playing whack-a-mole. In which case we did do it all.

Here are the highlights, in pictures (and a few more words).

woodstock

Spinnin’ and smilin’

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Arrrgh! Pirate Day is Herrrre!

September 19, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, QUICKPIC

I’ve been saving these photos fer a very special day, mateys… In case you don’t have the internet (and I’m hoping you do, so’s you can read this here post) today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Here’s the whole fam, in full-ish pirate regalia.

jon-pirate

piratebrent

cordi

papa-pirate

Yup, that there’s Papa, getting in on the pirate action at a friend’s birthday (aboard the highly cheesy, but recommended Urban Pirates!). His appearances here on the blog are too infrequent, so he’s getting another shout out in the form of one of JJ’s favorite books, and a rare Papa-centric tome…

 

PiratePapaCover

I Love My Pirate Papa, by Laura Leuck
Amazon, $12.09 harcover, $6.29 softcover, ages 4-8

JJ loves this book because it’s about pirates, and talks about adventures and treasure and burping. I love it because of the awesome and whimsical illustrations by Kyle M. Stone. But Papa loves this book because it’s all about a little boy and his loving Papa.

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burp

Enjoy yer day, ye scallywags!

 

 

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

August 23, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, LEARNING CURVES, MY 2 DADS

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?

3pp

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

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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.

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Of Butterflies, Toddlers & Backyard Safaris

August 7, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, LEARNING CURVES

BUTTERFLIES IN THE WILD

On a recent rainy day, JJ and I took a field trip to one of our favorite spots in the whole Metro DC area — Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. Set inside Wheaton Regional Park, this hidden treasure was, well, hidden to us up until just a couple of years ago — even though we’ve lived in the next town over for almost a decade.

Fluttering atop the Gardens’ many charms is the Wings of Fancy Butterfly Exhibit, which has run from May to September every year since 1997. Luckily it wasn’t too crowded, so we and the butterflies were able to give each other plenty of room, while still getting some great close-up observation and photo ops.

A few highlights from our visit…
Left: JJ inspects a butterfly wing up close; Right: The disgustingly awesome rotting fruit café

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Evil beware! It’s… Butterman? Batterfly?

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Feeding a Toddler is One Big Game

July 15, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, LEARNING CURVES

Okay, so maybe that title isn’t the most revelatory ever. But once in a blue moon I have a moment of true parental creativity. I want to savor those moments, as they are few and far between. So this is me savoring…

Like any average toddler, JJ is a picky eater. I don’t even know why you would qualify a toddler’s eating habits as “picky” — it’s just understood. Sure, there’s the occasional hippie/hipster-type who’s little lamb has been vegan/organic/locally-fed from the womb. Don’t you just wanna slap those parents with a cold fish stick?

One of JJ’s favorite snacks are gummies. For a long time he ate only the Gerber ones, which seemed all fruit-filled and healthy. Then he got seduced by the Dark Side, and now joneses for Spider-Man, Batman, or <shudder> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-flavored gummies. I can only imagine what manor of chemical imbalance is found in them. But I’ve all but convinced myself they’re still fruit-adjacent, and certainly better than soda, hard candy or Doritos. (Hands off, those are Daddy’s)

We were in Connecticut visiting family over the July 4th holiday, and I ran into a Whole Foods to look for the snooty dog food we forgot to bring (for the dog, just to be clear), and I saw these beauties at the register, looking very natural and juicy and non-turtle shaped:

jujustars

Where in heaven can I find some more?!?

They were labeled with a small white sticker, “Juju Stars.” I snapped them up and then promptly forgot about them.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, and the nightly battle over dinner is in progress. Unless his afternoon snack is timed just right, JJ won’t be hungry at a normal dinner time. It might also have something to do with the tides or cicada migration or something. Who knows. Furthermore, we’re not only arguing that it’s time to eat, but also what to eat, how much to eat, and of course STAY. IN. YOUR. CHAIR.

Then I notice the Juju Stars sparkling on the counter in their little generic plastic cup. Bells, whistles and the Dora theme go off in my head…

“Hey buddy! Do you want to play a game?”

Miraculously, he stops whining.

“How about I give you one of these MAGIC DORA STARS* for every bite of food you eat? How many stars do you think you can win?!?” My voice was probably sounding a bit crazed at this point as I tried to amp up his excitement.

“YAY! I want to win FIVE!”

So the game began. And he ate a fish stick. Then another. Then his spinach patty. Then drank his fruit smoothie. “DUDE! You won ALL FIVE STARS!”

And yes (THANK GOD IN HEAVEN) he liked them.

The game has now been played (and won) for the last three nights. Woohoo! Daddy wins, too!

But now we’re out of stars. And I Googled the hell out of them, and only found a couple of old photos from 2010. Looks like Daddy will be playing Find the Juju Stars all day tomorrow.

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DORASTARS

*If you’ve watched much Dora the Explorer, you know there are occasional episodes that feature these annoying stars she has to collect on her adventures. Because the show wasn’t already enough like a video game. One morning JJ and I stumbled across this video on YouTube, while having “VIDEOS TIME!” on Daddy’s computer. It’s a video of a video game. So each time JJ begs to watch it, he tries to click on the big green PLAY button, and it pauses the video. DUDE. It’s not going to work. Let’s move on, PLEASE. How about I give you a gummy star?!?
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My Baby’s First…

May 5, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DESIGNER DADDY, LEARNING CURVES

If you’re a normal parent (or just otherwise normal) you probably finished this post’s title with the word “word.” Or if you’re the motivated type, the word “step.” Perhaps “tooth,” for the orally fixated. But it takes a special breed of parent to remember their child’s first logo.

I’ve met a lot of other dads in recent months, thanks largely in part to a Facebook group of Dad Bloggers. Among them are several sports nuts, a battalion of Star Wars fanatics, a few Lego freaks — all of which are hoping to pass their passions on to their offspring. While there’s definitely some overlap with many of the other dads, my love and appreciation of design — and where it mashes up with marketing and pop culture — is tops on my list.

From the onset of JJ’s visual development, I’ve kept a mental list (oh alright, an actual list) of the logos and brands he’s recognized on his own. Had he the memory capacity or verbal skills at the time, he might recall differently… but I’m pretty sure THIS is the first brand my kiddo knew:
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starbucks-coffee-logo

If I have to explain the significance of the above logo and the role it’s played in my life these last three or so years, you’ve clearly never been or met a new parent.

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Happy Earth Day: Let’s B Global!

April 22, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DADDY DJ, DADDY LIKE

I recently checked in with B, toys, my favorite toy creators on the planet, and they asked me to try out their brand new-ish Global Glowball. Being the clever person I am, I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day!

globe

Looking at the Global Glowball (Their toys just have the most awesome names, don’t they?) online, I was immediately intrigued. B. toys always has top-notch playthings: colorful but not garish; creative, never predictable; exciting without being over-the-top-in-your-face. And of course all their packaging is recyclable or recycled [BONUS EARTH DAY POINTS].

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