family activities

Dad-Friendly, Earth-Friendly Shoes

April 22, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Nisolo shoes

Ask nearly any parent, and they’ll tell you the most important item in their wardrobe is a comfortable pair of shoes. Chasing kids around the house/mall/supermarket/park can put a lot of wear and tear on mom or dad’s feet, so comfy kicks are a must. Unfortunately, fashion often takes a backseat to function… particularly with a lot of dads.

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SuperLunchNotes: Polar Vortex Edition

January 31, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

POLAR VORTEX! SNOW SQUALL!! THUNDER SNOW!!! As much of the country is plunged into the coldest winter in recent history, I thought it would help pass the stay-indoors-at-all-costs time to share some of my favorite chilly-themed lunch notes.

Living in the northeast, we get more than our fair share of snow days. We’ve even had a couple of school closings due to extreme cold and/or wind (like this week). But mostly we still cart our kids off to school a) so that they don’t end up attending classes until the fourth of July, and b) so the teachers can get on with enjoying their all-too-brief summers.

I’ve pulled together some of the lunch notes I’ve done for my son over the years — on days when he needs to bundle up a little tighter and hopefully not lose his thirteenth pair of gloves.

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MR. FREEZE
Yo, VIP! Let’s kick it off with a Vanilla Ice pun!

polar vortex lunch notes

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Giveaway: Have a Rockin’ New Year with ‘School of Rock!’

December 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

School of Rock

I still remember showing the School of Rock movie to my son a couple of years ago… and that he then proceeded to watch it multiple times over the next few days. The story of the wacky, kid-at-heart substitute transforming his students into rock stars is any kid’s (and former kid’s) dream come true!

So I’m SUPER STOKED to be giving away two tickets to School of Rock: The Musical to one of you awesome readers! 🤘

GIVEAWAY DEETS:

  Winner will receive a pair of tickets (2) to School of Rock
  Performance Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 🎸 7:30pm
  Location: The National Theatre 🥁 1321 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC 20004
•  Prepare to have your minds blown and your sock rocked off.

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Movie Review: ‘Aquaman’ Makes a Spectacular, Big Screen Splash

December 23, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS

Aquaman Movie review

Movie: Aquaman (PG-13, 2 hours, 23 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy, Jon (9)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★★

Plot Snapshot: Aquaman is the quintessential — and literal — fish-out-of-water story. As the son of forbidden love between a lighthouse keeper and the queen of Atlantis, Arthur Curry must weigh his life on the surface world against his responsibilities to the undersea kingdom… and prevent an aquatic apocalypse in the process!

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Stan Lee Made a True Believer of Me

November 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

To say that Stan Lee and Marvel have had an impact on my life as a parent and my relationship with my son would be a galactic understatement. And while most may know me as a big comic book nerd enthusiast, I didn’t grow up a Marvel fan.

R.I.P. Stan Lee

“WERE YOU A DC KID OR A MARVEL KID?”

That’s the ultimate question when it comes to classifying comic book fans. You have two choices and you can’t be both, lest it throw the multiverse out of balance or something. This battle between the superhero companies has raged on for decades, though it’s now spilled into the mainstream and involves multi-billion dollar movie and TV franchises.

I was an unapologetic DC kid. Maybe it was my age or the lack of older siblings or just the alignment of the planets, but my love for superheroes was sparked by a trio of campy TV shows featuring DC Comics characters: Batman, Super Friends, and Wonder Woman. Along the way, Aquaman became my all-time favorite character. The Superman and Batman films of the 70s and 80s were life-changing experiences. By the end of college, I’d amassed many, many boxes of comic books, 100% of which were DC.

While I’d been exposed to characters like Spider-Man and Hulk, Marvel’s roster as a whole seemed so strange and underground and anti-hero-y to me. That all changed when I became a dad.

My son’s birth coincided closely with the release of the first Iron Man movie, which inspired me to declare myself an equal opportunity comic book dad. I was determined to buck the system —my son would be both a DC and a Marvel kid. But why would I make this seemingly impossible parenting goal?

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BOOYAH! It’s a ‘Teen Titans Go! To the Movies’ Combo Pack Giveaway!

October 20, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies ranks along with another superhero saga as our family’s favorite animated movie of 2018 so far. And if you’ve got a superhero-loving kid between the ages of 3 and 10, you’re likely the same.

My son and I were shouting “BOOYAH!” when we got to attend an early screening this summer, and have been counting the days until the home entertainment release. Well, the day has finally arrived… and you can score your own FREE copy right here!

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Theatre Review: ‘Head Over Heels’ in Love with The Go-Go’s Musical

October 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Head Over Heels

What do obscure Elizabethan poetry, a superstar drag queen, and the music of The Go-Go’s have in common? At first glance, not a damn thing. Yet when these elements are combined in the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels, the result is a wacky, heartwarming explosion of fun.

A BIT OF BACK STORY

My connection to this musical is multi-layered, and probably not very fascinating to anyone but me — but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. I was attending Dad 2.0 Summit (as I do every year), where I met that rarest and most fabulous of creatures, a fellow gay dad blogger. I thought I knew them all, so was excited to make the acquaintance of Mr. Gavin Lodge. In addition to being a father, a husband and a blogger, Gavin mentioned that he was an actor and that he’d been cast as a standby in a new Broadway musical. My interest was peaked.

He described the show’s story as taken from an obscure, Elizabethan text, and would be performed largely in iambic pentameter. (!) He told me it was called Head Over Heels, and would feature the music of The Go-Go’s. (!!) He said it would also include the first trans actor to originate a role on Broadway. (!!!) I texted Papa about the show and that it would be in previews in New York starting in June and that we were going to get tickets. It was not a question.

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Have a Crafty Halloween with Amazon Prime!

October 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amazon, as part of my participation in the Mom It Forward Influencer Network; the content and opinions are my own.

Since my son’s very first Halloween, I’ve had a blast channeling my creativity into our family’s costumes. I love the challenge of trying to pull together something unique, fun, and not too difficult — all while placating the kid and not embarrassing the husband (too much).

This year I’m kicking the challenge up a notch in a partnership with Amazon… our costumes will include repurposed Amazon Smile boxes! The official term is “BOXTUME,” by the way.

GET STARTED!

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After you’ve read through my step-by-step directions, go grab all the Amazon Smile boxes you can find, get to brainstorming, and come up with your own boxtume masterpiece! If you don’t have any boxes, take the opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping, or empty out your own wish list! Amazon Prime has pretty much anything you need (including everything used to make these costumes!) and has the fastest — and free-est — delivery around!

Then snap a photo of your cardboard creations and share it on social media using the hashtag #Boxtumes.

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OUR COSTUMES

First of all, I didn’t want to make anything too literally boxy. Who wants to walk around a party or crowded sidewalk in a giant box? That’s a spilled bag of candy waiting to happen!

So to keep things relatively easy, these start with a toga base. Why togas? Togas are comfy, simple to make, and can be easily layered with long johns or sweats if it’s chilly on trick-or-treat night. Also because I came up with some awesome visual puns around everyone’s favorite toga-wearer, Caesar!

LIL’ CAESAR

Amazon Prime Halloween #Boxtumes

Click for extra-sized adorableness!

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Monstrously Delicious Back-to-School Meals with Barilla

October 3, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Monstrously Delicious Back-to-School Meals with Barilla

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Barilla; the content and opinions are my own.

Jumping back into a school year schedule can be scary. Trying to serve school night meals that are quick, simple, healthy, and delicious can be downright terrifying.

Adding to the terror is the fact that I’m not much of a chef. What I am is a crafty mad scientist. I don’t so much mix ingredients as I do assemble supplies. Hence my most successful creations end up looking more like experimental DIY projects than respectable meals prepared by an adult.

And yet, all that playing with food and making things more fun than they need to be works well with being the dad of a picky eater. And I’m not talking prefers-blanched-asparagus-over-steamed picky. I’m talking eats-roughly-the-same-number-of-things-as-he-is-years-old picky.

Luckily, my persnickety seven-year-old loves pretty much every variety of pasta. Also lucky? Barilla has 38 different pastas and 14 different sauces with which to satisfy my hungry, finicky beast.

In addition to their endless meal combinations, Barilla products fulfill that whole quick, simple, healthy, and delicious list I mentioned earlier. It’s not surprising they’re the #1 pasta brand in both the United States and Italy… as well as the preferred brand of my first generation Italian husband!

While our family certainly enjoys tried-and-true meals like spaghetti with meat sauce, lasagna, and baked ziti, I like to get creative from time-to-time to hold my son’s interest. Who am I kidding? It’s just as much fun for me! Here’s one of my favorites… MONSTER PASTA!
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So Long, Summer

August 29, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

The original plans for our long-planned, one-and-only summer vacation fell through at the last minute due to bad weather at our destination. It would have been a long-planned but oft-postponed visit with Jon’s birthparents. We’ll make the trip up later this year, wildfires permitting. While it was a disappointment for our son (and a pain in the ass for the hubby and me), perhaps the universe needed us to get away — just our family — just one weekend near the end of the swiftly-passing summer.

Not wanting to brave the masses at an amusement park or one of those water park/hotel behemoths, I remembered a friend recommending the small town of Cambridge, Maryland. It sits on the Choptank River that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It was a two-hour drive, but felt worlds away from work, housework, and the looming schoolyear. Thanks, universe.

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To give you a taste of our weekend, a conversation between my husband and son, while looking out over the balcony of our hotel room.

Jon: Papa, what is that?
Papa: It’s an Indian wedding.
J: Why are they having it here?
P: Well they rented the area and it’s a pretty place for a wedding.
J: Cool! Can we rent it?
P: For what?
J: (thinks) … for a hug party! 

so long, summer

This gives my heart all the smiles. 🙂 Also, who wants to come?!?

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