family activities

Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

June 11, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

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.

Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

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9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families

May 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.

While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.

How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”

Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.

netflix titles for non-traditional families

One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.

Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.

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Dad Brag: The Eye of the Tiny Tiger

March 22, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Though I don’t dump much of it here, a lot of what I feel and think about my parenting lately tends to be whiny, worrisome and negative. In an effort to counteract that — both in myself and in my attitudes toward my son — I’m making a concerted effort to focus on the positive, particularly what makes me proud.

My inaugural Dad Brag is about Jon’s adventures in Taekwondo. About a year ago we attended a classmate’s birthday party at a local martial arts studio, and it should have come as no surprise that our energetic then 4-year-old took to it like a duck to Kung Fu.

We enrolled him in the Tiny Tigers class a few months later, and have since watched him flourish under the unimaginably patient tutelage of the instructors. You can feel the energy pouring off of him as he runs laps at the start of class, a telltale sparkle in his eye. And nothing warms my heart more than him completing a task successfully, turning back towards me and giving me a thumbs up, awaiting my reciprocation.

dad brag taekwondo

I take him on Thursday nights, Papa takes him on Saturday mornings, and at the end of January he graduated to Little Dragons — now sporting a cool cammo-patterned white belt as he learns alongside a group mostly older than him. And yet he already longs to advance further, admiring the older kids’ skills as he waits for his class to begin.

dad brag taekwondo

dad brag taekwondo

One Saturday morning, the mom of the other “John” in the class asked Papa if our Jon had older brothers. Answering no, Papa asked why. She replied that he looks like he’s having so much fun all the time — that surely he must have a houseful of older brothers where there is never a dull moment. Papa told her that what he did have was two fathers, to which she smiled and responded, “Well that must be why!”

I don’t know that Jon’s oftentimes tired, old dads can take much credit for his boundless enthusiasm, but in the right setting and mixed with some focus and padded floors, it’s a sight to behold.
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Feel free to brag about your own kids (or yourself) in the comments!

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Fostering Good Will

December 19, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

I spend a lot of time worrying if I’m a good enough father. My concerns aren’t so much that my son’s being raised by two dads or that he’s adopted — though I know both of those will bring challenges along the way. Something I do worry about lately is that we’re raising an overly-entitled child.

It could be argued that it’s because Jon’s an only child. Or that we started habits of “giving in” early on. Or that he’s a 5-year-old whose only concerns are for himself. Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that very little in society works to counteract such a sense of entitlement. Reality shows, social media, selfies, (ahem) blogs — all reinforce that it’s all about ME, all the time.

So we wanted to start teaching Jon about being charitable — thinking beyond what’s in it for him. When the opportunity to work with Lee Jeans on their #LeeGoodDeed campaign came along, I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity.

AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR

Yes, this is a paid post for Lee Jeans. I’m sorry if that ruins the vibe of my story, but posts like this are what afford me the ability to keep blogging. And if you’ve followed the blog for any amount of time, some of these partnerships have resulted in some pretty incredible experiences.

TIME TO PLUG THE JEANS
If you’re like me, the last time you’d worn Lee Jeans, you were also wearing a Members Only jacket and Pony sneakers with a Velcro strap. They just weren’t on my fashion radar. Then last year, Lee was a sponsor at a conference I attended, and they fitted everyone with a new pair of jeans. Honest-to-god, they were (are) the most comfortable pair of jeans I’ve owned in many, many years. And for this partnership, they hooked me up with ANOTHER pair, equally as comfy. Tucked in the back pocket was a list of ideas for my #LeeGoodDeed assignment…

Lee Jeans Good Will

Woot! @LeeJeans sent me some spiffy new jeans. Wonder what my #LeeGoodDeed is gonna be…

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid Ticket Giveaway!

December 17, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Disney's Little Mermaid Olney Theatre

Disney’s The Little Mermaid has been doing gangbusters during its current run at Olney Theatre Center — so much so they’ve extended their run by 2 weeks! Here are some of the great reviews the show has been getting:

“…a solid bet for the family”The Washington Post

“a delightfully rich, spectacular production”DC Metro Theater Arts

“[a] colorful and expertly crafted delight”DC Theatre Scene

“Daddy, those fish are wearing roller skates!”Jon, age 5  [Read my — and Jon’s — full review.]
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BONUS: I’ve got 4 tickets to give away!

Enter the contest widget below before the giveaway period closes at midnight Sunday, Dec. 21. The winner will get to choose 4 tickets from performances between December 30 – January 11.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t wait and just want to buy tickets now?

Tickets range from $32.50 to $65 and can be purchased through the Olney Theatre Center Box Office at 301.924.3400 or by visiting www.olneytheatre.org.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens…and so Do My Memories

November 29, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Conversations With My Son: Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer

I resisted the pull of The Dark Side, not watching the new Star Wars teaser trailer online. I was determined we would see it on the big screen first, so Friday afternoon we went as a family to the one theater in our area showing the 88 second preview before all its films. We were nearing the tail end of Black Friday, so the throngs were out in full, clogging the freeway, the parking garage, the mall — all to near capacity.

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I’d spent some time the day before talking to my 5-year-old about the new movie and the Star Wars canon in general. It was a confusing and disheartening conversation…

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid: Not Just for Girls

November 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES

It’s difficult to fathom that 25 years have passed since The Little Mermaid ushered in the “Disney Renaissance” — with no signs of the Mouse House’s dominance of popular culture waning anytime soon. Debuting in movie theaters November 17, 1989, the film and its music went on to win two Oscars, two Golden Globes, two Grammies, and has earned over $200 million worldwide. In 2007, an adaptation of the film made its way to Broadway, bringing to life the tale of the headstrong princess and all the magic and music found under the sea.

Ariel and company have swam their way across the country and around the world, finding themselves currently on the main stage at the Olney Theatre Center in Olney, Maryland.

Disney's Little Mermaid

The serendipity of the film’s anniversary allowed our family to re-watch it on The Disney Channel just a day prior to attending the live show. However, over the last year, gender stereotypes had begun to sink their claws into my 5-year-old son, so I was worried he might not be too excited to see the play.

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Big Hero 6 Review: A Big Hit with the Whole Family

November 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

To cap off a truly epic 5th birthday weekend for our little (sorry, BIG) guy, we put down the LEGO sets and headed out to see Big Hero 6 as a family. This had been in place for several months — long before we’d planned the birthday party or bought presents or spent way too much time stuffing the hero-themed goody bags.

On a previous family movie outing, we’d seen the trailer for a new film we knew nothing about called Big Hero 6. Yet by the end of the preview we were all hooked. Disney + Marvel + superheroes + martial arts + huggable robots = DUH. And then it said it was coming out November 7 — OUR SON’S BIRTHDAY. We made plans then and there to be back opening day.

Since the characters and story were new to us, I had fun doing some “research” and then “educating” Jon in preparation for the birthday viewing. We had a blast on the film’s web site, which included character profiles, video clips and a couple of cool games. I even bought a picture book to read at bedtime. Disney — ever the marketing masters — already had quite a few books (for all ages) available prior to the movie’s release.

And it probably comes as no surprise that I made lunch notes of all the characters. But okay, enough set up — what did we think of the movie?

Big Hero 6 - Hiro

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FREE FAMILY EVENT! Tysons Microsoft Store 10/30 #FitnessDayDC

October 29, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

Microsoft Store #FitnessDayDC

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TYSONS MICROSOFT STORE #FitnessDayDC EVENT

Thursday, October 30, 2014  12:00 PM to 6:00 PM (EST)

DETAILS

This Thursday, October 30, visit the Microsoft Store at Tysons Corner Center to jump start your health and fitness goals before the biggest candy-eating holiday of the year! It’ll be a day of fun activities — Kinect and Xbox sessions, Zumba and yoga classes, and more — all designed to keep you and your kids moving. You can also enter to win prizes, some of which will be “big-ticket” items. Which is code for “expensive.”

[Tysons Corner Microsoft Store Info]    [Tysons Corner Center Map]
The Microsoft Store is located on Level 2 of Tysons Corner Center, next to Banana Republic and across from Restoration Hardware.

Designer Daddy will be there to help host!

If you come between 1:00 – 2:00 pm, you’ll have a chance to meet me in real life! Okay, that’s not much of a draw, but I’d love to see/meet/re-meet you and snap a co-selfie (an “ussie?”) before you run off to take a Zumba class, kick butt on Xbox, or enter to win some prizes.

CAN’T MAKE THE MAGICAL HOUR I’M HOSTING?

Want to attend the event but can’t make it from 1-2pm? No worries — but please be sure to take a selfie at the event and send it to me via Twitter or Instagram (@DesignerDaddy or use the hashtag #FitnessDayDC) so I can say hello and get brownie points for getting you to the event!

WHO CAN ATTEND?

The event is open to the public so invite/bring/drag all your friends, family and kids. RSVP’s are not necessary, but it does let me know who’ll be attending so I can keep a lookout for you. RSVP to the event on Facebook.

SCHEDULE & PRIZES (UPDATED)

 10am-6pm: In-store giveaways to first 150 consumers. Other (bigger!) prizes announced throughout the day.
 10am-6pm: Product demos happening all day long!
 12-1pm: Yoga class or store-provided fitness activity
 1-5pm: In-store workouts in Xbox Fitness Area. Optional fitness tests available. Xbox Fitness workout options to include Gillian Michaels, P90X, and Insanity. Trainers in-store to help  with all workouts.
 5pm: Evening snacks provided (see!)
 6-6:45pm: Zumba class or store-provided fitness activity

I will be adding more info about prizes and class times as I receive them.

QUESTIONS ABOUT #FitnessDayDC?

Shoot me an email: Brent (at) DesignerDaddy (dot) com. Hope to see you there!

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Disclosure: I partnered with XYMedia for the #FitnessDayDC event, and was compensated for my involvement.

Halloween Treats: Spooky S’mores

September 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

For my son’s very first class party, I made the rookie mistake of not pouncing on the snack sign-up sheet. It was for his preschool Halloween party, and by the time I got around to volunteering, all that remained was the dreaded “other” category.

But I’m always up for a creative challenge. So I retreated to my laboratory, pulled together some randomly yummy ingredients, and SPOOKY S’MORES were born! Mwaaa-ha-ha-haaaa!

Halloween Treat: Spooky S'mores

I got weird & wacky with the snacks for my very first class party

But wait — aren’t s’mores supposed to be toasted? Technically, yes. But I wasn’t about to bring an open flame into a classroom full of three- and four-year olds. At least not at my very first party. Trust me — they’re plenty yummy without being heated, and certainly messy enough in this form. However, I may try them another time with pre-toasted marshmallows. That could make for some very cool melted eyes/zombie effects…

They’re super simple to make, and you can even employ the help of your kids. Just make sure they (and you) have a healthy snack beforehand, or be prepared to lose quite a few ingredients in the process of putting them together.

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