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


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


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).


The Redemptive Power of Story Time

April 2, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED


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.


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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Have you visited and liked Designer Daddy’s Facebook page? If not, get your booty on over and say “Ahoy!”


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)…



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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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…


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.

A (not so) Brief Note

December 10, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS DAD DIGS

We’re currently trudging towards the epic milestone of bowel autonomy. JJ had one rapturous success, got derailed (understandably so) by our trip to Italy, and has yet to regain his commode momentum. We’ve employed several potty training tools, which so far have produced squat in the way of results. But I thought I’d share them with you since I think they’re fun. And who knows — hopefully they’ll work for someone else in the same, um… poodicament*.


DC Super Friends in POTTY TIME POWER!

This book is all kinds of awesome — each page features a different DC superhero explaining some aspect of potty training (Superman blows away a giant stack of diapers! Plastic Man shows how much toilet paper is the right amount! Flash warns to give yourself enough time to get to the can!) Many of the pages have flaps for your child to reveal more fun and action, and there are 2 full pages of stickers! The book is nice and thick and well-laminated to avoid any bathroom mishaps or accidental drops in the tub/sink/commode. ($8.99 on Amazon)

And oh yeah, my man Aquaman gives a lesson (kind of) on the importance of washing up afterwards!

So far the book hasn’t “worked,” but its repeated use has helped JJ’s spelling. And the fact that it’s chock full o’ heroes makes it a wee bit more bearable for me to read over and over and over.

Storybook Beginning


Ye-gods it’s been so long since I’ve done a proper post, I’m overwhelmed as to what to write. Thus I’m opting for something that doesn’t require any research, design or photography. Also known as a Brain Dump.

Since our return from Italy (Oh, did you not see the pictures? Or perhaps these?) we’ve hit the ground running with work, family activities, and planning for stressing about the Holidays. Between now and 2013 we have the following: roadtrip to CT for a nephew’s confirmation, Daddy & Papa’s 15th Anniversary, Halloween (you can bet there’ll be superheroes involved), Daddy’s chorus retreat, JJ’s third birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas (and all that the season entails), as well as birthdays for 2 brothers, 1 Grandpa, 2 nephews and several close friends.

Somewhere along the way I gave myself a deadline of finishing JJ’s “story” book by his 3rd birthday. “His what?” you ask… The Story of JJ (working title) is a book I’m writing, designing and collecting photos for that will explain to JJ how he came to be, and subsequently how he came to be with us. With more and more adoptions having greater levels of openness, adoptive parents are encouraged to tell their children’s stories to them, pretty much from the get-go. Granted, certain details are saved for later stages of a child’s development, but the main goal is to make sure your kiddo grows up knowing where they came from (just like every child does), how they got to where they are, and that they are infinitely loved. It also helps minimize stigma attached to adoption and make it generally less scary. We’ve really enjoyed showing JJ mine and Papa’s Family Album, so I think this one will be a big hit (and a helpful tool) as well!

Thus far I’ve written the text, gotten Papa’s input/edits, and even ran it by a local adoption social worker who’s been a great resource/sounding board. I’ve also pulled together a bunch of initial photos. Headway is definitely being made.

But the daunting task of actually laying the thing out lies ahead, and I’ve got just over a month — an extremely busy month — to do it. So I’m writing about it (as I did with JJ’s wall mural) to hold myself publicly accountable it gets done. However, unlike the mural, JJ’s story is too personal to blog about, but I did want to share some of the process of my first ever children’s book (so to speak) with my awesome readers!

I’ll keep you posted, sharing what progress (both visual and written) that I can, in the hope that the final product will be wrapped up (and wrapped up) for JJ’s big #3!

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Okay, I know I said no photos, but in looking through what I’d collected, I was all overcome with nostalgia for those first few days of Daddydom. Here’s a favorite I’ve not posted before…

If you look closely, you can see 2 week-old JJ lying amongst the mountain of goodies that awaited us upon our return home with him. Our wonderful friends stocked us up good!

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