Lists

Designer Daddy’s 15 Favorite Children’s Books About Dads

June 12, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

15 Best Children's Books About Dads

I sat on the floor of my son’s room amidst a sea of books, surveying those he’d carefully selected yanked off the shelf for inclusion in a yard sale. Memories from the last eight years of nightly bedtime stories flooded my thoughts (and my eyes a little, too).

Few moments in parenting are as special as those spent reading with your kids. Yet it can be a challenge finding quality children’s books that include a positive — or any — portrayal of fathers.

Some progress has been made, but society still often works overtime against dads making emotional, creative or educational connections with their kids. Books that feature fathers can play an important part in bridging that divide. They help lay an early foundation for equally involved parents, regardless of gender. And for two dad families like mine, representation is crucial to helping our kids feel nurtured, included, and seen.

As I proceeded to cull, it came as no surprise that the “dad” books were making the “keep” pile rather tall. So as we near Father’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite “keepers” — my favorite children’s books about dads. Each of these father-centric books carries the official Designer Daddy (and son) seal of approval, and is guaranteed to keep dad(s) showing up for story time.

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10 Life Lessons from 10 Years of Marvel Films: GIF Edition

May 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel celebrates ten years amassing the money-makingest film franchise in history. They’ve also made some really great movies. And mixed in amongst the epic battles, amazing effects, and side-splitting one-liners there lies a wealth of character-building wisdom. One might even say gems of wisdom.

Just a little over a year into the MCU Decade, I became a father. Few things have given me more joy as a dad than introducing my son to these characters and these films… at age appropriate times, of course. 😉

So as a galactic-sized THANK YOU to Marvel and Disney, I’ve pulled together 10 of the great life lessons I’ve gleaned from the films. While my intention was to impart these nuggets to my kiddo, they’ve certainly taught me a thing or two, too.

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1. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
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Superheroes don’t just throw big punches, they’re also often very, very smart. Geniuses Bruce Banner, Shuri, and Tony Stark have used their knowledge of science and technology to give them an edge against that universe’s bullies. Just don’t rely too much on your smarts, or you might accidentally create a sentient robot set on destroying humanity.

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Designer Daddy’s Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

March 22, 2018 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

KIA Road Trip Playlist

Road trips were a big part of my childhood. As a military family, that meant lots of visits to grandparents and cousins each summer and Christmas. Most of these trips were taken in the family van (this was pre-minivan, folks). It was a glorious every-shade-of-brown, tricked out with a movable table, back seat that folded into a bed, and wall-to-ceiling velour. And as the oldest kid, I had the best seat — the captain’s chair behind the driver; feet propped up in the tinted windowsill; plugged into my Walkman as I watched the world whiz by.

College road trips consisted of driving the 787 miles from Waco to my parents in Colorado Springs. It was equal parts breathtaking and mind-numbing, but with the right music (and lots of Dr. Pepper), the trip went by in no time.

Nowadays our expeditions are usually to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Yet music is still an essential part of our travels — whether it’s to entertain a fidgeting second grader or keep Papa awake during I-95 traffic.

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Drag Queens, Wrestlers, and the Life of a Gay Dad

March 18, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE
Drag Queens and Wrestlers

Jon meeting his first drag queen, 2013; Jon (and dads) at his first WWE match, 2018.


For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience.
The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.

Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.

Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:

“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”

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Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

January 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Designer Daddy Best of 2017

For anyone who wasn’t a straight, white, Christian man, 2017 was a hell of a year. Yes, our Reality Star-in-Chief made a couple of appearances on the blog — how could he not? The year also saw struggles for the trans community, convos with my kid about sex, and family game night made more tolerable by booze. It wasn’t an easy year, but it certainly was eventful. These are my 10 favorite blog posts of 2017.

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First Day of School: Second Grade!

September 6, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

SUMMER CONFESSIONS

Papa and I certainly could have done better in keeping Jon up on his reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic this summer. Unless role-playing digital comics counts as reading, creating Roblox/Minecraft/Terraria structures out of code counts as writing, or “subtracting” swim trunks, goggles, water bottles, lunch boxes, socks, towels, and underwear during summer camp counts as math.

But what he lacked in academics, Jon made up for in feats of awesomeness. Last November, the pediatrician had tasked us with making sure our son could swim beyond doggie-paddling and ride a bike without training wheels. He now swims like a fish and rides like the wind, though both still with a healthy amount of youthful wobbliness. He also danced and dabbed his little heart out during Family Day at camp, and took on dog-walking (galloping, rather) responsibilities.

First Day of School

Click to enlarge

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

After setting the summer months with a beautiful weekend on the Bay, we are once again here — the first day of school. SECOND GRADE! We’ve been in our new house and Jon’s new school for a year now — so we can’t honestly call either of them “new,” though they still feel that way at times. Despite the occasional rookie parent mistake, we navigated the First Day like seasoned pros. We managed to get up and out the door in time, sans a drop of drama. I even made his lunch note the night before!

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The ABCs of Trump: Words My Kid Has Learned Since 45 Took Office

August 31, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

The other day my 7-year-old was chatting away about some odd thing or another — a not infrequent occurrence. But this time instead of pretending to understand words like Zombie Pigmen or Squirtle, I heard a word I recognized: egomaniac. I didn’t catch the context, but knew immediately why this had entered my son’s lexicon: Trump. This got me wondering… What other words has my kid learned since DJT became president?

As a candidate and up through his first 222 days in office (but who’s counting?), 45 has introduced the American people to new levels of divisiveness, self-involvement, and volatility. He’s also introduced Americans — and our children — to a whole lot of new words.

Some of these are words adults don’t typically teach to kids due to them being entirely inappropriate. Many are words whose definitions have been tainted by POTUS-association. And quite a few are completely made up — maniacally spewed from Cheeto-In-Chief’s raging maw.

So as it’s a brand new school year, I’ve compiled a vocabulary list — an ABCs of the unfortunate, vulgar, disturbing words my child and others have learned these recent dark months.

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THE ABCs of TRUMP

WARNING: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.

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A is for ARMAGEDDON

Armageddon was one of those films I look forward to watching with my son in a few years. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, devouring popcorn and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Now the actuality looms on the horizon, thanks to our posturing POTUS. Where’s a squad of slow-motion-walking misfits you need them?  Additional As: arrogant; alternative facts; alt-right
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ABCs of Trump
B is for BIGLY

His ego knows no bounds — so it made sense Trump would make up a word to exaggerate his exaggerations. But it turned out that a) he was maybe saying big league instead; and b) bigly is an actual word, though categorized by Dictionary.com as archaic (meaning nobody uses it anymore, so you’re weird if you do). Either way, Merriam-Webster honored bigly as one of the most-searched words in 2016. And what was the top Word of the Year for 2016? Surreal. Bonus Bs: buffoon; Breitbart; blowhard; bigot

(Aren’t you proud I made it through that without a single joke about Trump’s decidedly non-bigly hands?)
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Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)

June 20, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Father’s Day has come and gone, and probably so have your hopes for getting something you really wanted. Don’t get me wrong — handmade cards, semi-cooked/burned breakfast in bed, and extra hugs are all priceless. But admit it, you were also hoping for something that had a literal price. Something you’d actually use, wear, eat, or read.

Once again, Designer Daddy is here to help… albeit a little later than usual.

Check out this collection of self-gifting solutions, then enter to win the full slew of swag (Total giveaway value: over $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 27 I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Gift Guide & Giveaway for the Dad Who Has Everything (But Didn’t Get What He Wanted for Father’s Day)!

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Gift Guide & Giveaway for Dad

GIFT RECEIVED: Nose hair trimmer

GIFT TO GIVE YOURSELF: Stash Box grooming kit from Triumph & Disaster

While you appreciate your kids thinking of you and the random hair you have sprouting up in new places, you’d like to handle your own grooming, thankyouverymuch. And it’s a known fact that the more mature you get, the more you get to spend on yourself. Triumph & Disaster has an impressive collection of skincare products for a man’s face, hair, and body. They combine the best of science with the best of nature to create naturally derived but scientifically engineered products. The Stash Box includes Old Fashioned Shave Cream, Badger Hair Shave Brush, Gameface Moisturizer, and Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub. Available from Triumph & Disaster. $150.00
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Are We There Yet? Family Vacation Tips from Well-Traveled Dads

May 30, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

family travel tips

As peak travel season approaches, many parents may be feeling anxious about hitting the road (or skies or open seas) with the kids. Things are crazy enough at home, so you’re probably imagining how much more stressful it would be out in the great wide world — where you have even less control.

Fear not! If you’re freaking out about a looming family vacay, who better to ask for tips, hacks, and general life lessons than a bunch of travel-tested dads?

I reached out to some of my pals from all over the USofA for the very best, most comprehensive Dadvice you’ll find. And in true dad form, these nuggets of wisdom/war stories are offered up with a mixture of common sense, bad puns, and lots of heart.
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Make Game Night Great Again: Board Games & Cocktail Pairings!

May 4, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Board games have been a favorite family pastime for nearly a century, purporting to bring parents and children together and teach valuable skills like colors and stuff. But as many families know, what they really do is drive deep, pie-shaped wedges between spouses, create world-conquering rivalries between siblings; and generally scare the bejesus out of the cat. Even on game nights not boiling over with incessant whining and arguing, there’s still the mind-numbing boredom.

And yet, it is our duty as involved parents — nay, as Americans — to subject ourselves and our progeny to these worlds overflowing with candy and ladders and murder weapons and New Jersey real estate.

I’ve found that a little libation makes any activity run more smoothly. Classy folks look to experts for pairings of alcohol with their cheeses, meals, or cigars. You can even find wine to go with Girl Scout cookies. So why not match up cocktails with board games?

board games & cocktail pairings

I polled a bunch of parents to learn their most-hated games. Then I played them all with my kid while I drank a bunch of stuff to see which combos were most fun tolerable. Here are my scientific/strategic/spirited recommendations.
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