DAD STUFF

Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.

Have a Crafty Halloween with Amazon Prime!

October 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amazon, as part of my participation in the Mom It Forward Influencer Network; the content and opinions are my own.

Since my son’s very first Halloween, I’ve had a blast channeling my creativity into our family’s costumes. I love the challenge of trying to pull together something unique, fun, and not too difficult — all while placating the kid and not embarrassing the husband (too much).

This year I’m kicking the challenge up a notch in a partnership with Amazon… our costumes will include repurposed Amazon Smile boxes! The official term is “BOXTUME,” by the way.

GET STARTED!

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After you’ve read through my step-by-step directions, go grab all the Amazon Smile boxes you can find, get to brainstorming, and come up with your own boxtume masterpiece! If you don’t have any boxes, take the opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping, or empty out your own wish list! Amazon Prime has pretty much anything you need (including everything used to make these costumes!) and has the fastest — and free-est — delivery around!

Then snap a photo of your cardboard creations and share it on social media using the hashtag #Boxtumes.

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OUR COSTUMES

First of all, I didn’t want to make anything too literally boxy. Who wants to walk around a party or crowded sidewalk in a giant box? That’s a spilled bag of candy waiting to happen!

So to keep things relatively easy, these start with a toga base. Why togas? Togas are comfy, simple to make, and can be easily layered with long johns or sweats if it’s chilly on trick-or-treat night. Also because I came up with some awesome visual puns around everyone’s favorite toga-wearer, Caesar!

LIL’ CAESAR

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

Click for extra-sized adorableness!

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DDQ&A: Andy Alexander, The Grim Wreather

October 17, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

A couple of months ago, Andy Alexander reached out to me about helping promote his line of custom Halloween wreaths. I get a lot of requests like this, but they rarely meet my two requirements of A) being related to kids/family/pop culture, and B) looking cool as hell. Not only did Andy’s work fit the bill, but he’s also a fellow gay dad! So instead of just sharing a blurb on Facebook, I wanted to dust off the old DDQ&A questionnaire so you can all get to know Andy, his family, and his work.

BONUS: Scroll down after the interview and enter to win one of Andy’s Grim Wreather creations just in time for Halloween!

Q&A with designer dad Andy Alexander

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Walk me through the highlights of your design career .
I got my MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; I studied fine art at UCLA as well. I took my first design classes at Art Center knowing that I’d eventually need a “real” job. After college I worked for Belkin doing interface design for gaming hardware, then for Geoff McFetridge (who I consider a mentor), and then at Napster from 2004-2010. There I started as a designer, working my way up to Creative Director, managing the internal design group. I was laid off during the 2010 recession and decided to carve my own path in both the art and design world. And here I am!

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Monstrously Delicious Back-to-School Meals with Barilla

October 3, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Monstrously Delicious Back-to-School Meals with Barilla

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Barilla; the content and opinions are my own.

Jumping back into a school year schedule can be scary. Trying to serve school night meals that are quick, simple, healthy, and delicious can be downright terrifying.

Adding to the terror is the fact that I’m not much of a chef. What I am is a crafty mad scientist. I don’t so much mix ingredients as I do assemble supplies. Hence my most successful creations end up looking more like experimental DIY projects than respectable meals prepared by an adult.

And yet, all that playing with food and making things more fun than they need to be works well with being the dad of a picky eater. And I’m not talking prefers-blanched-asparagus-over-steamed picky. I’m talking eats-roughly-the-same-number-of-things-as-he-is-years-old picky.

Luckily, my persnickety seven-year-old loves pretty much every variety of pasta. Also lucky? Barilla has 38 different pastas and 14 different sauces with which to satisfy my hungry, finicky beast.

In addition to their endless meal combinations, Barilla products fulfill that whole quick, simple, healthy, and delicious list I mentioned earlier. It’s not surprising they’re the #1 pasta brand in both the United States and Italy… as well as the preferred brand of my first generation Italian husband!

While our family certainly enjoys tried-and-true meals like spaghetti with meat sauce, lasagna, and baked ziti, I like to get creative from time-to-time to hold my son’s interest. Who am I kidding? It’s just as much fun for me! Here’s one of my favorites… MONSTER PASTA!
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September SuperLunchNotes: 1st Month of 2nd Grade!

October 2, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Another school year is well underway (that would be second grade, folks), and I’ve already got a month’s worth of SuperLunchNotes to share. I’m gonna give it a go of posting notes a month at a time, but am always open to feedback, other ideas, and of course heaps and heaps of praise.

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9.5 Woody & Buzz Lightyear  |  9.6 LEGO Batman & Robin  |  9.7 Phineas & Ferb

The night before the first day of school we watched Toy Story 2, so I thought it fitting to kick off 2nd grade with the playful stars of the franchise, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. That spawned the idea to do a duo-themed week, which in turned spawned two of Jon’s current favorite pairs, Phineas & Ferb and LEGO Batman & Robin. Fun fact: Man-of-few-words Ferb is voiced by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, also known for the role of Newt in the Maze Runner series and Jojen Reed in seasons 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones.

9.8 The Wonder Twins (Zan and Jayna)

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First Day of School: Second Grade!

September 6, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

SUMMER CONFESSIONS

Papa and I certainly could have done better in keeping Jon up on his reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic this summer. Unless role-playing digital comics counts as reading, creating Roblox/Minecraft/Terraria structures out of code counts as writing, or “subtracting” swim trunks, goggles, water bottles, lunch boxes, socks, towels, and underwear during summer camp counts as math.

But what he lacked in academics, Jon made up for in feats of awesomeness. Last November, the pediatrician had tasked us with making sure our son could swim beyond doggie-paddling and ride a bike without training wheels. He now swims like a fish and rides like the wind, though both still with a healthy amount of youthful wobbliness. He also danced and dabbed his little heart out during Family Day at camp, and took on dog-walking (galloping, rather) responsibilities.

First Day of School

Click to enlarge

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

After setting the summer months with a beautiful weekend on the Bay, we are once again here — the first day of school. SECOND GRADE! We’ve been in our new house and Jon’s new school for a year now — so we can’t honestly call either of them “new,” though they still feel that way at times. Despite the occasional rookie parent mistake, we navigated the First Day like seasoned pros. We managed to get up and out the door in time, sans a drop of drama. I even made his lunch note the night before!

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The ABCs of Trump: Words My Kid Has Learned Since 45 Took Office

August 31, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

The other day my 7-year-old was chatting away about some odd thing or another — a not infrequent occurrence. But this time instead of pretending to understand words like Zombie Pigmen or Squirtle, I heard a word I recognized: egomaniac. I didn’t catch the context, but knew immediately why this had entered my son’s lexicon: Trump. This got me wondering… What other words has my kid learned since DJT became president?

As a candidate and up through his first 222 days in office (but who’s counting?), 45 has introduced the American people to new levels of divisiveness, self-involvement, and volatility. He’s also introduced Americans — and our children — to a whole lot of new words.

Some of these are words adults don’t typically teach to kids due to them being entirely inappropriate. Many are words whose definitions have been tainted by POTUS-association. And quite a few are completely made up — maniacally spewed from Cheeto-In-Chief’s raging maw.

So as it’s a brand new school year, I’ve compiled a vocabulary list — an ABCs of the unfortunate, vulgar, disturbing words my child and others have learned these recent dark months.

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THE ABCs of TRUMP

WARNING: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.

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A is for ARMAGEDDON

Armageddon was one of those films I look forward to watching with my son in a few years. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, devouring popcorn and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Now the actuality looms on the horizon, thanks to our posturing POTUS. Where’s a squad of slow-motion-walking misfits you need them?  Additional As: arrogant; alternative facts; alt-right
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ABCs of Trump
B is for BIGLY

His ego knows no bounds — so it made sense Trump would make up a word to exaggerate his exaggerations. But it turned out that a) he was maybe saying big league instead; and b) bigly is an actual word, though categorized by Dictionary.com as archaic (meaning nobody uses it anymore, so you’re weird if you do). Either way, Merriam-Webster honored bigly as one of the most-searched words in 2016. And what was the top Word of the Year for 2016? Surreal. Bonus Bs: buffoon; Breitbart; blowhard; bigot

(Aren’t you proud I made it through that without a single joke about Trump’s decidedly non-bigly hands?)
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So Long, Summer

August 29, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The original plans for our long-planned, one-and-only summer vacation fell through at the last minute due to bad weather at our destination. It would have been a long-planned but oft-postponed visit with Jon’s birthparents. We’ll make the trip up later this year, wildfires permitting. While it was a disappointment for our son (and a pain in the ass for the hubby and me), perhaps the universe needed us to get away — just our family — just one weekend near the end of the swiftly-passing summer.

Not wanting to brave the masses at an amusement park or one of those water park/hotel behemoths, I remembered a friend recommending the small town of Cambridge, Maryland. It sits on the Choptank River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It was a two-hour drive, but felt worlds away from work, housework, and the looming schoolyear. Thanks, universe.

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To give you a taste of our weekend, a conversation between my husband and son, while looking out over the balcony of our hotel room.

Jon: Papa, what is that?
Papa: It’s an Indian wedding.
J: Why are they having it here?
P: Well they rented the area and it’s a pretty place for a wedding.
J: Cool! Can we rent it?
P: For what?
J: (thinks) … for a hug party! 

so long, summer

This gives my heart all the smiles. 🙂 Also, who wants to come?!?

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Dads4Kesem Day 1: Beginning

July 11, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

For seven days, I and eleven other dads hiked more than 90 miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. Complications of life (and perfectionist tendencies) kept me from writing about it at the time. Here, now, are some thoughts and images from that life-changing week.

Dads4Kesem Day 1: Beginning

07.10.16, DAY 1: Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle – 17 miles

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Today it’s actually happening.
I’m trying to figure out the pay-by-the-minute shower, packing up all my gear, guzzling some caffeine to make up for a restless night’s sleep. As someone who’s inherently aware of their shortcomings — especially when it comes to anything physical — I double and triple check what I’ve stuffed into my backpack, trying to imagine every scenario possible. I will come to learn along the way what I need more of (water, foot bandages), and of what I need less (pretty much everything else); but this first day I was flying blind.

Last night at the lone pub in town, we chatted over dinner and beers with a grandfather and grandson who had just completed the walk. Having traveled from the opposite direction, they advised wearing long pants for the several patches of nettles, and to be prepared for lots of diversions.

“Diversion” is British for “detour” — a word with which we would become intimately, frequently acquainted.

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Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)

June 20, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Father’s Day has come and gone, and probably so have your hopes for getting something you really wanted. Don’t get me wrong — handmade cards, semi-cooked/burned breakfast in bed, and extra hugs are all priceless. But admit it, you were also hoping for something that had a literal price. Something you’d actually use, wear, eat, or read.

Once again, Designer Daddy is here to help… albeit a little later than usual.

Check out this collection of self-gifting solutions, then enter to win the full slew of swag (Total giveaway value: over $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 27 I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)!

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Gift Guide & Giveaway for Dad

GIFT RECEIVED: Nose hair trimmer

GIFT TO GIVE YOURSELF: Stash Box grooming kit from Triumph & Disaster

While you appreciate your kids thinking of you and the random hair you have sprouting up in new places, you’d like to handle your own grooming, thankyouverymuch. And it’s a known fact that the more mature you get, the more you get to spend on yourself. Triumph & Disaster has an impressive collection of skincare products for a man’s face, hair, and body. They combine the best of science with the best of nature to create naturally derived but scientifically engineered products. The Stash Box includes Old Fashioned Shave Cream, Badger Hair Shave Brush, Gameface Moisturizer, and Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub. Available from Triumph & Disaster. $150.00
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5 Things I Won’t Tell My Kid About Sex

June 9, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

5 Things I Won't Tell My Kid About Sex

Not nearly long enough ago, our 7-year-old shared a conversation he’d had with a friend… about sex. It was retold with a mixture of curiosity, amazement, and giggling. And was alarmingly detailed.

I have to admit it took me off guard. I thought we had a little longer before all this! I’d done my duty as a progressive, gay dad to teach my son to be proud of his “different” family, not to tease or exclude anyone for how they look or who they were, and that Donald Trump is a horrible example of humanity.

But now it was time to step up and have “The Talk.” Or more accurately, “The Ongoing Conversation.” We’ve had lots of practice sharing the important stuff at the appropriate age regarding Jon’s adoption, so this should be easy, right?

RIGHT?!?

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