CONVERSATION COLOR CODE:
Daddy • Jon • Daddy’s Internal Narration
“Hey buddy, come show me your button guy you made at school.”
Jon runs into the kitchen and squats down beside Button “Guy,” who is magnet-ed to the fridge. He starts pointing to buttons, starting with two (a dark red and a blue) clumped in the middle…
Unless you live in a cave — and even some caves have decent Wi-Fi — your kids will very likely get hooked on video games. Just accept the fact that your phone and tablet will never, ever be smudge-free again. Here are a few new apps to educate, entertain and occupy the wee ones in your family. I’m calling these “back-to-school apps,” but they could just as easily be called “prep-for-school” or just “not-annoying-or-violent” apps.
And unless noted, none of these include in-app purchases, and all are ad-free. Also, not a single SpongeBob. Apps tested by me and and my expert panel of one 4-and-a-half-year-old.
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COOKIE MONSTER’S CHALLENGE
This deliciously fun app is the first mobile team-up between kiddie powerhouses PBS Kids and Sesame Street. It launches just in time for Sesame Street’s 45th (!) season, which premiers September 15 on PBS Kids (check your local listings).
While the graphics and interface are clean and simple (as they should be), don’t be fooled into thinking this is a simple — or short — activity. In fact it’s pretty elaborate. Epic, even. There are 10 mini games that focus on skills vital to the pre-k crowd – like memory, following directions and self control. There are 9 levels, each one ever-so-slightly more challenging to keep your little ones on their adorable toes. The final payoff is a Rube Goldberg-esque cookie-making contraption that requires completion of all 9 levels for Cookie Monster tp finally get his cookies. I’m not sure how he survives the anticipation!
But Cookie keeps his composure, as did my son… completing each level, finishing each piece of the cookie machine, and feeling pretty darn excited with each accomplishment.
C is for cookie, but we give Cookie Monster’s Challenge an A.
Preview / buy on iTunes • Ages 3-5 • iPad only • $2.99
That title’s a mouthful, ain’t it? Yet it’s certainly befitting my epic team-up with fellow Dad Blogger and Lunchtime Super Power, Lunchbox Dad! We’re serving up some fun and creative ways to prepare school lunches — plus a ginormous giveaway to help you make lunchtime awesome!
One of the unexpected perks of blogging has been all of the interesting, talented and just downright nice people I’ve met. Whether online or hanging out in real life, I’ve found support and inspiration from so many of my dad blogging bros. One whose creativity I’ve admired for a while is Beau Coffron, AKA Lunchbox Dad. Check out his web site or Instagram to see what I mean — he puts so much fun and imagination into the meals he makes for his kids. It’s a scrumptious sight to behold!
I had the pleasure of meeting Beau in person at a conference in July. While we were there, we did some brainstorming over beer and Happy Meals for ways to combine our lunch-related passions into a cool giveaway for our readers.
It had been just under a week since we returned from a cross-country trip to visit our son’s birth parents. It had been just two days since our four-and-a-half year old started in his new preschool class. Papa was out of town, so Jon and I were chatting over dinner about this-and-that: who he knew in his class, how awesome his new cubby was, how he’s decided — after a two year break — to take up napping again, because apparently that’s what one does in Room 3.
I was also thinking ahead to the logistics of letting him have some iPad time, a bath and a story all before bed, while still leaving me a pocket of waking minutes to write.
Seemingly out-of-the-blue, my son asks, “When I gonna get new parents?”
For my son’s very first class party, I made the rookie mistake of not pouncing on the snack sign-up sheet. It was for his preschool Halloween party, and by the time I got around to volunteering, all that remained was the dreaded “other” category.
But I’m always up for a creative challenge. So I retreated to my laboratory, pulled together some randomly yummy ingredients, and SPOOKY S’MORES were born! Mwaaa-ha-ha-haaaa!
But wait — aren’t s’mores supposed to be toasted? Technically, yes. But I wasn’t about to bring an open flame into a classroom full of three- and four-year olds. At least not at my very first party. Trust me — they’re plenty yummy without being heated, and certainly messy enough in this form. However, I may try them another time with pre-toasted marshmallows. That could make for some very cool melted eyes/zombie effects…
They’re super simple to make, and you can even employ the help of your kids. Just make sure they (and you) have a healthy snack beforehand, or be prepared to lose quite a few ingredients in the process of putting them together.
Real-life, actually-printed-on-paper, delivered-by-a-human-being correspondence is a rare and wonderful treat, dontchathink? But if you’ve ever had even a hint of an original thought in your head, you dread the idea of darkening the doors of your local convenience store to pick over the post-apocalyptic disarray of syrupy, clichéd, annoyingly musical greeting cards.
So why don’t you take some of these perkily porcine Pig Notecards off my hands?
These blank cards are perfect for party invitations, get wells, birth announcements, thank yous, you’re welcomes and more progressive Bar Mitzvahs. And also meat-themed baby showers. (Seriously, I once sold a set to someone for that very purpose.)
THIS LITTLE PIGGY NOTECARD SET
• 2 each of 5 different styles
• High-quality printing on uncoated, heavy card stock
• Comes with 10 envelopes in 5 matching colors
• Guaranteed to produce a squeal (or make a tummy grumble)
$15.00 + shipping/handling
To pay with Paypal, send your name, mailing address, quantity (number of boxes of 10), and PayPal email address to daddy (at) designerdaddy (dot) com. Or just hit the CONTACT button up there on the right side of this page.
Take a peek at the 5 precociously punny designs… and scroll to the bottom to get in on some free swine swag!
Before we’re all completely consumed with back-to-school madness, let’s take a moment to bask in the fading glow of summer…
My son’s preschool has a super-duper summer program. It’s similar to the regular school year, but loaded with extra helpings of sunshine, water and dirt. I continued the lunch note habit tradition all summer, and with each week of the program having its own theme, I had plenty of inspiration. Here are some highlights from SuperLunchNotes: Summer Edition.
MARTIAL ARTS WEEK: June 9 – 12, 2014
Michelangelo | Pink Ranger | Iron Fist | Nightwing
Jon attended a friend’s birthday party at a taekwondo studio, which helped kick off the start to an exciting summer.
The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon has been a great way to introduce Jon to a few more Marvel characters. Some purists don’t like the teenaged versions of heroes like Iron Fist, but I kinda dig the 21 Jump Street angle of the show. Fun Fact: the actor who does the voice of Iron Fist also does Michelangelo’s voice on the current TNMT cartoon.
Are you a Star Wars fan of galactic proportions? Think everything is awesome about LEGO? In other words, are you a dork? No need to be ashamed…but you do need to grab one of these dork-tastic tees designed by my pal Sam from Dorkdaddy.com
DORKS OF THE GALAXY UNITE!
In order for these shirts to get printed — and for an important cause to benefit — at least 10 of all 5 deigns have to be reserved. (2 reached their goal, 1 is close, 2 need help.) It’s all up to you, folks — the universe is depending on you! Go reserve yours now.
I always imagined myself as a father, but I never imagined being asked questions quite like these.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I went with queerest questions — other than the obvious alliteration and overall cleverness, that is. Because while some of the questions are offensive, some are annoying, and some are downright stupid, they’re not all offensive, annoying or stupid. But they are all queer — as in odd, strange, bizarre. Much like the entire experience of parenting.
Now, if we’re done questioning the queerness of my headline… on with the questions!
Anyone getting back-to-school sale burnout? This stellar Star Wars R2D2 lunch bag is your only hope to alleviate that — and to send your kid off to school in geeky style!
This is the droid you’re looking for… for lunch!