books

Rudolph’s Magical Holiday Giveaway

December 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

One of my favorite childhood memories was watching TV specials during the holidays. This was long before streaming video, DVR, or even DVDs. You had to (OMG!) wait for the holidays to roll around and (WTF?) watch them at the time they aired. Sounds horrendous, right? Yet being able to see them only once a year made it that much more special.. Unlike now, where my 5-year-old can watch Frosty on a loop until Easter. And while I loved Peanuts, The Grinch and all the others, my favorites were always the Rankin/Bass specials — particularly Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The creativity of the stop-motion animation, the catchy songs, and of course the wonderful characters — all added up to something truly magical.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Holiday Giveaway

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, and thier pals on the Island of Misfit Toys. That’s right, FIFTY YEARS. While the animation looks rudimentary compared to today’s CGI blockbusters, the obvious hand-craftedness of the Rankin/Bass shows are what make them both charming and mesmerizing. When I showed Rudolph to Jon for the first time a couple of years ago, he was transfixed…and still is. And so am I.

So to celebrate, commemorate and (once again) collaborate, Lunchbox Dad and I have pooled our creativity and pulled together some nifty Rudolph-themed prizes. Check out all the awesomeness, then enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

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Author Judith Viorst Talks Alexander, Movies & the Benefit of Bad Days

November 12, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

A couple of months ago my husband mentioned that he had a client whose mother was a children’s book author, and that a movie was being made of one of her books. He couldn’t remember the mother’s name, so I asked him his client’s name: it was Alex Viorst.

“You mean like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Alex?!?” I asked excitedly.

It was indeed the same Alex. And his mother — and the author of the book (and many others) — was Judith Viorst.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, was published in 1972, has sold over 2 million copies and won a myriad of awards. It spawned three sequels, the most recent published in September of this year. In 1998, Viorst worked with the Kennedy Center to turn the book into a musical production. On October 10, 2014, Disney released a film version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.

Judith Viorst - Alexander and the Terrible book

Like many kids who started reading in the 1970s, Alexander was a perennial favorite. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled to talk with an author from my childhood. Many thanks to Nick and Alex for arranging this wonderful opportunity for me to chat with Judith about her books, the movie, her family, and the importance of bad days.

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Designer Daddy: I know you were involved in the creation of the musical of Alexander at the Kennedy Center. How much were you involved in the creation of the movie?
Judith Viorst: Zero. There’s a different set of principles between what authors do in the theatre and what they do in the movies. In the theatre, they really cannot change an and or a the without consulting you. So I wrote the script for the musical, I wrote the lyrics, and I worked with a friend of mine, Shelly [Markham], who wrote the music, and I was at every rehearsal. If they needed something, I wrote it. Nobody else did. And of course there was a huge amount of brilliant input from the director. But with the movie, they buy the book, they give you money, and that may be the last time you have anything to do with each other. They did arrange for a weekly fee for the 12 weeks they were making the film, if they felt the need to consult me. But they never felt the need to consult me. The musical was my take on the book, and the movie was Disney’s take on the book.

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DooDad of the Day: 4 New Back-to-School Apps

September 14, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

4 new apps for kids - Designer Daddy

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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Designer Daddy apps - Cookie Monster's Challenge

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 to 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

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Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Well-Rounded Dad

May 27, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

While much progress has been made in erasing the stereotype of clueless, styleless, one-dimensional dads, the old tropes seem to come back in full force each Father’s Day… Tie. Recliner. Grill. Power Tools. Yawn.

Designer Daddy is here to help you shop for the men in your life (or yourself) this Father’s Day, with something for each facet of the engaged, enlightened, well-rounded dad.

Also, YOU CAN WIN THIS ENTIRE LIST OF STUFF! Just enter the contest widget thingie at the bottom of the post (where it says “ENTER TO WIN,”) and on June 15th I’ll announce the lucky winner of…

The Designer Daddy Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway
for the Well-Rounded Dad

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Father's Day Gift Guide & GIveaway - Hobie Polarized Sunglasses

THE EYES HAVE IT: Whether you’re surfing in Maui, biking cross-country or tooling around in a minivan full of munchkins, nothing says you’ve got it under control (or hides the fact that you don’t) like a good pair of shades. Hobie, long known for their surf wear, also has an extensive line of seriously slick sunglasses. Check me out sporting 3 different pair — which is your favorite? I know they all make me look fly, so how could you possibly choose? Available on Hobie’s web site or at Sports Authority. $70-$190

Father's Day Gift Guide & Giveaway - Hobie Polarized Sunglasses

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: 1 pair of Hobie Polarized sunglasses, any style (winner to choose from web site or catalog).

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The Redemptive Power of Story Time

April 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

story-time

I’ve been going through quite a lot of shit lately. I won’t bore you with the details because we’ve all got details and they’re equally uninteresting to others yet end-of-the-world urgent and/or life-altering to us. And for any of us who are parents, our children are often the primary recipients of said shit run-off. And for any of us who are parents, our children have gained valuable insight (regardless of their age) as to how and where and when to push all our buttons. However I’ve read official research that age 4-1/2 is the worst. True fact.

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Arrrgh! Pirate Day is Herrrre!

September 19, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

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.

Pirate Day

Pirate Day

Pirate Day

Pirate Day

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 Jon’s favorite books, and a rare Papa-centric tome…

 

Pirate Day - I Love My Pirate Papa

I Love My Pirate Papa, by Laura Leuck
32 pages, ages 4-8

Jon 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. But Papa loves this book because it’s all about a little boy and his loving Papa.

Pirate Day

Pirate Day

Enjoy yer day, ye scallywags!

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Fridge Wisdom: Wot Wot’s In A Royal Baby Name?

July 23, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Here we are, back at the fridge…

Apparently the American media is the biggest fan on the flames of Brit Babymania. And it reached its crazy crest when said tot popped from the Royal Birthing Womb. Everyone and their British Bulldog is commenting, tweeting and blogging about this silliness, so I thought I’d throw my bowler into the three rings.

To whit, a few suggestions for Prince Newborn’s Royal Baby Name, inspired by British literature and a spot of pop culture from both sides of the pond. (A blood pudding to whomever gets all the references)…

lord-flaunt

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Creative Father’s Day Gifts for the Creative (and not-so-creative) Dad

June 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Still at a loss about what to get Dear Old Dad for Father’s Day? Yes it’s the thought that counts, but Dad can recognize a cliched gift when he sees one — especially if he’s the creative or handy type. So forget the grill, take back the tie, hide the hammock… here are three great books to get your favorite father’s creative juices flowing. Or at the very least something to read on the can.

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AWESOME

FOR THE CRAFTY DAD READ FULL ARTICLE >>

JJ’s Top 10 of 2012

January 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

As with any toddler, JJ’s moods tastes shift like the wind. Make that a whirlwind. But these ten things stood out in 2012 as being particularly popular with our breezy little boy…

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On the Night You Were Born (In Remembrance)

December 15, 2012 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

We received this book (as many do) when JJ was born, but I don’t think we’ve ever read it all the way through — he’s either been too distracted to finish the full reading of it, or we passed it over in favor of something with superheroes or dinosaurs.

As usual, it was an ordeal getting from bath to PJs to story time, and I pulled this book quickly from the shelf without giving it much thought. But as I read it to JJ, I began thinking about the 20 sets of parents who’d never get to read to their kids again, and my heart ached. It ached for their loss. It ached for those who survived and the scars they must have. And it ached for how much I love my child — trying as he may be at times — and how devastated I’d be… but I didn’t let my mind travel further down that road. All I can do is hug him and be patient with him and protect him as best I can. And be thankful for every day I have with him.

“On the Night You Were Born”

by Nancy Tillman

On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered,
“Life will never be the same.”

Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.

So enchanted whit you were the wind and the rain
that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name.

The sound of your name is a magical one.
Let’s say it out loud before we go on.

It sailed through the farmland high on the breeze… Over the ocean… And through the trees…

Until everyone heard it and everyone knew
of the one and only ever you.

Not once had there been such eyes, such a nose, such silly, wiggly, wonderful toes.
In fact, I think I’ll count to three so you can wiggle your toes for me.

When the polar bears heard, they danced until dawn.
From faraway places, the geese flew home.
The moon stayed up until morning next day.
And none of the ladybugs flew away.

So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for the geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)

Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)

Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

If the moon stays up until morning one day,
or a ladybug lands and decides to stay,
or a little bird sits at your window awhile,
it’s because they’re all hoping to see you smile…

For never before in story or rhyme
(not even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.

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