music

Happy New Year from Designer Daddy, Depeche Mode & DMK

December 31, 2014 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

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
In years

The moon
Is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight

Wishing you and yours a bright, peaceful, magical, Happy New Year.

Much love,
Brent
Designer Daddy

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Be sure to check out Designer Daddy on Facebook & Twitter for lots of exciting/silly/sappy stuff in the coming year!

Best of 2014 Kindie Music Giveaway

December 18, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Stuff your stockings and your ears with five awesome albums from some of the hottest names in kids’ music. If you’re not familiar with “kindie” music, that’s a mash-up of “indie” and “kiddie.” It’s way less annoying than it sounds — in fact, some of it is quite good. And unlike those hideous Kidz Bop albums, these are all real musicians, playing real songs, written for real kids. And they come in every flavor/sound/color you can imagine. Check out some of my favorites from last year and a couple of soon-to-be-released/soon-to-be-favorites.

Then jump down and enter to win the whole kit and kaboodle!

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Recess Monkey 2014 Kindie Music

RECESS MONKEY – Wired

The latest release from Seattle-based Recess Monkey celebrates invention, exploration and other joys of a growing mind. As both teachers and former indie rockers, this trio continues to crank out music that appeals to kids’ imaginations, ears AND feet! And if you’re in the DC area, come experience Recess Monkey live, Sunday, January 25 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA. Shows are at 11am and 2pm. Click on times for more info and to buy tickets.

Standout tracks: Braces, Car Wash, Brick by Brick
Listen / Purchase on Amazon

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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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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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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

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

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Perfect First Concert: The Laurie Berkner Band

August 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Jon and I met up with Grandma and Grandpa last week for what turned out to be the perfect first concert for my almost five-year old.

I knew a little about The Laurie Berkner Band already, as they had a couple of videos in rotation on Nick, Jr back when Jon was a wee bit wee-er. But I’d resisted delving into the world of kindie music too deeply, and consequently didn’t know much beyond those songs. So when Grandma alerted me to Laurie’s show and asked if we wanted to go, I figured I might as well check it out. I hit up THE dad blogger to know for kindie music hook-ups (Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids), and he indeed hooked us up. VIP passes, meet the band, floor seats, the works. Juice boxes on me, Jeff!

We set out on the road (it was about an hour drive) and popped in the band’s Best Of CD, and Jon seemed to get into it right away. Lots of fun, folk and country-tinged, kid-friendly tunes about putting animals on your head and eating rutabaga and fish brushing their teeth. It really helped make the horrendous traffic a bit more bearable, and we got there just in time for a quick chat with Laurie and her band backstage!

Laurie Berkner Band - Designer Daddy

We’re with the band.

Laurie, Susie, Brady and Bobby were very gracious. Jon warmed up to them pretty quickly and in no time was talking Animal with Bobby the drummer. We chatted for about 10 minutes, during which I talked to Laurie about one of their videos we’d seen a lot on Nick Jr., and how much it meant to our family. “My Family” is a sweet, simple tune about how families are made up of all kinds of people, and “when you’re in my heart, you’re in my family.” The video alternates footage of the band with clips of families of all colors, ages and numbers. And tucked in with all the others is a two dad family, kids hoisted on their shoulders, dancing and holding hands. I remember being touched and encouraged every time I saw it, enjoying seeing our family represented and hopeful for our son’s future in his ever-evolving world. And it was such a pleasure to tell Laurie so in person.

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SuperLunchNotes: WyldStyle

July 21, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

It’s gonna be ladies night lunch all week in Jon’s lunchbox. I’ve been wanting to do a Girl Power Week for a while, and I figured the days leading up to my 1st BlogHer conference would be as good as any. I’m going to be among the few males at one of the biggest and longest-running blogging shindigs in the country. This will be an estrogen booster shot via Post-it note, if you will.

SuperLunchNotes Wyldstyle

Funny story about today’s note:
I followed the boys out to the car this morning; Jon wanted to see his note so he took it out of his lunchbox and was very psyched to see Lucy (AKA Wyldstyle), leading lady of The LEGO Movie. As Papa was loading him into his car seat, I recited his favorite line from “Everything Is Awesome,” “Rocks! Clocks! And socks! They’re awesome!”

Being the master-level rhymer that he is, my clever 4-year old echoed back with his own impromptu line, “Kicks! Nicks! And dicks! They’re awesome!”

I stifled a laugh and muttered something encouraging like, “Wow you’re a great rhymer buddy.” and warned Papa (AKA Nick) to steer clear of Jon’s feet today.

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Stick with me and you’ll go far! Like Designer Daddy on Facebook, and follow SuperLunchNotes on Instagram!

Which Kids’ Movie Song From The Last 12 Months Is The Best?

June 17, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

With the release of The LEGO Movie on DVD/Blu-Ray, it’s got me reflecting on all the great music to come from kids’ movies in the last year. Three songs in particular have delighted children and adults alike… that is, until they bored holes into our brains from repetition. I’m of course talking about “Everything is Awesome,” “Let It Go,” and “Happy.”

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During the Disney renaissance of the late-80s/90s, songs from the Mouse House’s animated films were all over the radio and the charts. “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Whole New World,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” all cracked Billboard’s top 10; and between 1989-1999, 15 songs from Disney films either won or were nominated for Oscars. Yet since that heyday, I don’t recall a time when songs written specifically for kids’ movies have had such an audible impact as the three in question.

So… between “Everything Is Awesome,” “Let It Go,” and “Happy,” which one is the best? Or perhaps a better question, the least annoying? I decided to break it down scientifically to give you an objective, definitive and 100% fact-based answer. I took into account several factors, then gave points for each category to reach my accurate, foolproof, final results.

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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).

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What’s Got Designer Daddy Dancing? Baby Loves Disco!

September 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

03.10.13-Le-Poisson-Rouge-12-low

TRUE STORY: Several months ago I was daydreaming about how awesome it would be to have a club geared towards gay parents. A place where Daddy & Papa, Mommy & Mama and their broods could meet friends, drink (responsibly, of course) and swap recipes for organic mac & cheese. There’d be a rec area for the kids to stack Legos, watch their stories or generally just tumble about. It would have a chill room to feed, change or put youngsters down for a nap. And of course there would be DANCING.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend texted me a link to something called Baby Loves Disco. My head just about exploded. A dance party? In a club? That we can take our kids to?!? Somebody read my mind and invented The World’s First Club for Gay Dads: Baby Loves Disco! I quickly banged around the internet, contacted BLD, and scored an interview… and a giveaway! (see below)

To clarify, Baby Loves Disco isn’t really (or at all) just for gay dads. In fact it’s been around since 2004, and for a long while was primarily populated by moms and their kids. But still, the best kid-friendly thing to come along in a long while, I’d wager.

I know Papa and I grow weary trying to think of fun, creative — and most importantly — energy-burning activities for JJ. I’ll admit a lot of weekends we’re exhausted, out of ideas and default to the same worn-out options as a lot of parents. Playground… museum… zoo… mall… SNORE. So yeah, we’ve got tickets for our first Baby Loves Disco party locked down. Did I mention a giveaway? (see below)
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BABY LOVES DISCO 101:

  • The “Original Family Dance Party” for parents and kids ages 6 months to 7 years
  • Held at top-notch nightclubs in six cities: New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philly and back in DC after a 3-year hiatus!
  • REAL DJs, REAL music* – from classic disco to modern Top 40 and dance music. No Barney, no Kidz Bop, no <shudder> Wiggles.
  • Not just dancing. There’s also dance contests, crafts, kid-friendly spa services, goody bags, healthy snacks and juice boxes for the kids, and a cash bar for the adults.
  • Chilled-out “crawl area” where the non-walkers can relax away from the all the dancing feet.
  • And of course, changing stations

Check out the NYC party in action:

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Designer Daddy is here to HOOK. YOU. UP. I’m giving away a Family Pack of 4 Baby Loves Disco tickets, valued at $55! The tickets are good for any BLD party in any of the six cities listed above, for any remaining show in 2013. Visit BLD’s web site for dates and locations.

Date and location must be specified at time of winning notification. Contest ends Saturday, September 14 at midnight. NOTE: the first shows of the season are in DC and NYC on Sunday, September 15! But don’t worry, there are multiple shows in all cities. Now enter the Rafflecopter thingamajig below and dust off those boogie shoes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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