If you’re looking for affordable family fun, look no further than Philadelphia. Our family got to spend four days with our up-the-coast neighbor; however, the first two were just me and my 6-year-old — a challenge I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. Under normal circumstances, my adventurously independent son is a handful. Now we were sans one dad, adding a train ride, a hotel stay, and a bunch of activities in a city I knew next to nothing about. Papa and I had spent an anniversary weekend years ago, focusing mainly on art museums and antiques. I knew my kiddo was having none of that, so we were in uncharted territory.
It’s also important to note that Jon was not as over the previous week’s stomach bug as I thought.
Known as the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia has plenty of affection for families and kids, too. We made it through the trip with lots of flying colors, great memories, and even learned a few things. And yes, there were lots and lots of trips to the bathroom.
Here are our five Philadelphia favorites — along with a score for the restrooms at each location, based on their ability to accommodate weary, middle-aged dads and a kindergartner whose bowels were constantly at DEFCON #2.
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5. THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE
The initial draw of The Franklin Institute was the Art of the Brick exhibit — which did not disappoint. Yet on further exploration, the entire museum was amaze-balls, as the kids say. From the giant interactive heart, to the train factory, a planetarium, and pretty much any invention or sciencey thing you can think up — it had it all.
S’mores are just about the most perfect snack. First, there’s the simplicity of them: chocolate + marshmallows + graham crackers; heat, eat, repeat.
They’re also super easy to customize, personalize, and accessorize. Maybe you like yours with peanut butter, or Nutella instead of chocolate; or maybe once in college you experimented with s’mores made from Pop Tarts and have always fantasized about trying that again.
And finally, s’mores are always in season: they taste just as gooey and delicious whether you’re huddled around a campfire telling ghost stories or huddled on the couch binge-watching The Walking Dead.
Speaking of zombies…
A while back I made some spooky monster s’mores for my son’s class Halloween party. They were such fun to make (and a big hit with the kids), that I thought I’d revisit this snack-craft and see what other monstrosity I could come up with. Then it hit me — ZOMBIE S’MORES. What could be more fitting than a gooey, melty, drippy snack made to look like a gooey, melty, drippy reanimated corpse?!
Let me drop some Jedi Master-level parenting knowledge on you: Just because you grow up an epic Star Wars fan, then became a dad and go into hyperdrive raising your child in the ways of The Force, things might not turn out exactly as you’d imagined. With the passing of time and the expansion of Mr. Lucas’ universe, stark differences have emerged between generations of Star Wars enthusiasts…
- When I was a kid, Darth Vader scared the bejeezus out of me — as was intended. Upon his first viewing of Episode IV, my then 4-year-old son squealed with glee at Vader’s debut.
- When I was a kid, we called it STAR WARS, not A New Hope. Not Episode IV.
- When I was a kid, you could easily find t-shirts with Luke, Han or the droids on them. Nowadays, the majority of Star Wars clothing for kids is adorned by the Dark Side — Vader, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, etc.
- When I was a kid, we collected action figures. Today? After six films and multiple animated series, there are hordes of figures in every size, not to mention headphones, watches, bike helmets, lingerie, pet costumes, snowboards, wedding rings, toilet seat covers, bathrobes, chopsticks, sleeping bags, and oh yeah, LEGO. SO. MANY. LEGO.
- When I was a kid, there was no Jar Jar Binks.
Despite all these differences, there are two things that bind my son and I together like The Force: We both love a good light saber battle, and we both love to eat popcorn when we’re watching the Star Wars films. So when I signed on to help promote the #PopWars Video Contest for Pop Secret’s Pre-popped Popcorn, I knew my video had to include copious amounts of popcorn AND an epic light saber battle.
I’ve been teaching my son about superheroes since birth – beginning, of course, with Superman. His brightly colored costume and superhuman abilities, paired with an innate goodness and endless supply of hope, make Superman the understandable idol for even the youngest of superhero fans.
DMK — the incredibly talented (and adorable) Depeche Mode cover band from Bogotá, Colombia — has written and recorded their first original song, “Pale Blue Dot.”
Dicken Schrader, daughter Milah (11), and son Korben (8) have been performing as DMK for the last 5 years, putting their creative touch on “Enjoy the Silence,” “Black Celebration” and half a dozen others Depeche Mode classics. They’ve gotten to perform live for crowds all over the world, and even ventured beyond the kids’ bedroom into more creative video productions.
Their latest is an all-new, original family project, with Dad on keyboard and kazoo, Milah playing the ukulele and recorder, and Korben tackling the xylophone and accordion. “Pale Blue Dot” was inspired by Carl Sagan’s book of the same name, and is a simple, sweet song about being connected on this “pale blue dot” we all call home.
A more detailed (and bittersweet) explanation of the song, from the band’s YouTube page:
It was written by Dicken and dedicated to Milah and Korben — who will soon move outside the country to live with their mother — to remind them that our planet is just a tiny speck of dust in the vastness of space and so it doesn’t matter how far away we go, we will always be together.
It’s not often that my professional work inspires me to be a better parent – if, in fact, it ever has. That changed while working on a recent design project. The assignment was to turn a popular blog post — “100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child” — into a poster.
The article had been made into a poster before, but the author was looking for something more than just a pretty list. The goal was to capture (and keep) the viewer’s attention, not overwhelm them with the onslaught of text, and still give equal attention to all 100 Ways. Not an easy task, but one I was excited to take on.
Early on in Designer Daddy’s existence, I learned about DMK — a Depeche Mode cover band from Bogatá, Columbia. If you’ve never heard of them, do yourself a favor and check out my Q&A from a couple of years ago with lead singer/video producer/dad extraordinaire, Dicken Schrader. He and his kids Milah & Korben (the “D,” “M,” and “K”) have added another Depeche Mode classic to their growing catalog, a whimsical cover of “But Not Tonight.”
The production and special effects are certainly more involved than their early, simpler videos. However, it still maintains the innocence and joy this family still seems to have performing together.
I thought the lyrics of “But Not Tonight” and DMK’s accompanying video were a fitting soundtrack as we reflect on the end of one year and the dawn of the next.
The stars in the sky
Bring tears to my eyes
They’re lighting my way tonight
And I haven’t felt so alive
Is shining in the sky
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight
Wishing you and yours a bright, peaceful, magical, Happy New Year.
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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.
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!
Father’s Day has come and gone, and yet those of us who are dads are still dads, and still have dad stuff to do. One of the most important is instilling self-confidence and a sense of achievement in our children. Stereotypes dictate fathers only appreciate the physical accomplishments of their children — especially for their sons. But the best dads appreciate the artistic as well as the athletic — and man have I found a great bunch of art-loving dads for this year’s (POST) FATHER’S DAY PROUD PAPA GALLERY OF GREATNESS!
Welcome to our virtual fridge, take your time, and please visit the gift shop on your way out.
Please note that many of the images can be enlarged if clicked on. So click and enjoy!
Artwork credits key:
Title of work
Artist name, age
Father of artist (links to their website/blog)
Artist’s (or artist’s dad’s) description
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tissue paper, construction paper
markers on paper
Based on the Water Lilies series.