art + illustration

Designer Daddy’s 15 Favorite Children’s Books About Dads

June 12, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

15 Best Children's Books About Dads

I sat on the floor of my son’s room amidst a sea of books, surveying those he’d carefully selected yanked off the shelf for inclusion in a yard sale. Memories from the last eight years of nightly bedtime stories flooded my thoughts (and my eyes a little, too).

Few moments in parenting are as special as those spent reading with your kids. Yet it can be a challenge finding quality children’s books that include a positive — or any — portrayal of fathers.

Some progress has been made, but society still often works overtime against dads making emotional, creative or educational connections with their kids. Books that feature fathers can play an important part in bridging that divide. They help lay an early foundation for equally involved parents, regardless of gender. And for two dad families like mine, representation is crucial to helping our kids feel nurtured, included, and seen.

As I proceeded to cull, it came as no surprise that the “dad” books were making the “keep” pile rather tall. So as we near Father’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite “keepers” — my favorite children’s books about dads. Each of these father-centric books carries the official Designer Daddy (and son) seal of approval, and is guaranteed to keep dad(s) showing up for story time.

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My Warrior Kid

March 14, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

warrior kid thor ragnarok

Having taught my son about superheroes since birth, it’s no surprise that he values a warrior’s strength and power. Whether it’s an over-the-top wrestler, nonsensical ball-encased creature, transforming car/alien/robot thing — or hammer-wielding demigod — nothing gets my kiddo more pumped than good triumphing over evil.

While my 8-year-old’s heroic ambitions are clearly evident in how much time he spends leaping from and jumping on our living room furniture, he also embodies the warrior spirit in other ways. Pardon me while I brag.

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Life & Lunch Notes: Mystery, Wrestling, and Gay Penguins

February 25, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.

So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.

Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…

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1.2 Unikitty

January SuperLunchNotes: Unikitty

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November SuperLunchNotes: Hero Flicks & Birthdays!

December 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

The last couple months of the year are a downhill avalanche of festivities for our little fam. Halloween quickly gives way to Jon’s birthday week, which then steamrolls into Thanksgiving, and then it’s just all-holidays all-the-time until January 2nd. Mixed in with the holidays and birthdays was a lot of movie-going — all of which provided some great lunchtime inspiration. So grab some popcorn, a turkey leg, and a slice of birthday cake — here comes November’s SuperLunchNotes!

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11.1 Thor  |  11.2 Hulk  |  11.3 Hela

November superlunchnotes

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October SuperLunchNotes: A Month of Villains!

November 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Admit it — villains are more fun sometimes. They get all the good lines, they have the coolest gadgets and flashiest costumes, and they always go out with a bang. So in honor of Halloween and all things villainous, October SuperLunchNotes were ALL BAD GUYS ALL THE TIME. So sit back in your high-backed chair, stroke your white cat or twirl your mustache, and enjoy these devious doodles.

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10.2 Cruella de Vil

October SuperLunchNotes

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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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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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All New SuperLunchNotes for Back to School!

August 21, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Just in time for back-to-school — a whole buncha new SuperLunchNotes in the Designer Daddy Shop!

After many requests (from you) and much procrastination (from me), I’ve added two new sets of lunch notes to my Etsy shop — one of which you can get for FREE! As with previous note sets, they include a high-res digital download of full-color notes, as well as a couple of sizes of coloring pages for you or the kids to customize.

new superlunchnotes

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How (and Where, and When, and What…) Do You Netflix?

July 24, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

How do you Netflix?

Remember (it wasn’t that long ago) when you had to watch your favorite TV shows at a specific time every week, and only then? When there was no DVRing? No pausing or rewinding? No watching it anywhere other than on an actual TV?!? *SHUDDER*

Thanks the TV gods for technological advancements…. and for whoever first used “Netflix” as a verb. [note: I’m not talking about Netflix and Chill, though that certainly has it’s merits.] NETFLIXING is watching what you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want. A Mad Lib of entertainment, if you will. As a parent, this is especially helpful; finding time to watch my “grown-up” shows can be challenging, to say the least.

For an example, fill in the sentence below, with either your favorites or something completely random:

I just watched ___________ (number)  episodes of ___________ (show)  at ___________ (time)  while ___________ (setting / situation)  on my ___________ (mode of delivery).

A recent afternoon of Netflixing for me included the following components: 2; Wet Hot American Summer; 3:30pm, waiting at my 7-year-old’s summer camp pickup; phone. The possibilities are endless, and I’m sure most of you have way more awesome/hilarious/interesting outcomes than mine. Share them in the comments, and I’ll repost some of my favorites!

In the meantime, I’ve created some silly, pun-filled scenarios to help inspire you on how, where, when, and what to Netflix.

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Scenario: watching your ferociously cute toddler twin nieces

Show: GLOW
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How do you Netflix?

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SuperLunchNotes for Spring

April 10, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

SPRING IS IN THE AIR!

Flowers are blooming! Bees are buzzing! And of course lots of excited young’uns are scurrying about, frolicking in the sunshine like kittens on Red Bull.

It’s possible your kids are just excited about spring break; but in all likelihood they’re already looking ahead to summer. Help keep those little minds focused on the last few months of school by celebrating all things spring! I’ve pulled together some of my favorite spring-themed lunch notes to help put some fresh fun in your kids’ lunch.

THINK GREEN

When it comes to ideas for springtime lunch notes, just look out the window. Plants, flowers, and trees; butterflies, bugs and other creepy-crawlies; birds, frogs, picnics — you get the picture. And don’t forget Earth Day is April 22!

superlunchnotes lunch notes for spring

There’s no shortage of springy characters to be found in comics, video games, TV and children’s books. L to R, top row: Bulbasaur (Pokémon), Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), Curious George, Clayface (DC Comics/Batman). Middle row: Wasp (Marvel comics/movies), Toad (Super Mario games), Kermit the FrogAnt-Man* (Marvel). Bottom row: Red (Angry Birds), Spider-Man, Superman, Poison Ivy (DC Comics/Batman).

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