reviews

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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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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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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DooDad of the Day: R2D2 Lunch Bag

August 18, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Anyone getting back-to-school sale burnout? This stellar Star Wars R2D2 lunch bag is your only hope to alleviate that — and to send your kid off to school in geeky style!

STAR WARS R2D2 LUNCH BAG WITH LIGHTS & SOUND

This is the droid you’re looking for… for lunch!

Designer Daddy - DooDad of the Day - R2D2 Lunchbox

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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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‘Good Good Trouble’ Great Great for Kids Kids!

July 22, 2014 | By Brent Almond | THINGS MY KID DIGS

Jon and I recently embarked on an exciting father/son tropical adventure — to see a brand new family play, Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island!

Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island poster - live theatre

This was only Jon’s second live theatre experience, and this one was a bit more complex than the first. So I wasn’t completely sure how it would play out.

HA! Get it? PLAY out?!?

My apologies for the silly digression, but this show was chock full of fun, color, music and loads of silliness, along with a subtle message about “making family where you find it.” And did I mention the silliness?

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Out Of This World Movie Giveaway! #EarthToEcho

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

Earth to Echo Designer Daddy Giveaway

Think E.T. meets Transformers with a little Goonies thrown in for good measure, and you’ve got EARTH TO ECHO — a great way to keep cool and entertain the whole family this summer!

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Being A Gay Dad is Full of Unscripted Moments

June 6, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

“Are you guys brothers?”

 “So which one of you does he belong to?”

“Which one of you breast feeds?”

“Can I get a mom?

Those are just a few of the questions I’ve heard since becoming a father four and-a-half years ago — as asked by my nephew, a cashier, multiple friends, and my son, respectively. As the title of this post states, there truly are no scripts when it comes to parenting. And being a gay father of an adopted son poses even more unique challenges.

A relatively minor — but no less annoying — challenge is finding a Father’s Day card for my husband. Like many gay fathers, we go by “Daddy” and “Papa.” Finding a Father’s Day card that says “Daddy” is no problem (so yeah, he’s got it easy). And while there are usually a few cards that are addressed to “Papa,” more often than not they are either geared more to Grandpa or are entirely in Spanish.

When I was tapped by Cardstore to be part of their Father’s Day #WorldsToughestJob campaign, one of the perks was getting to design my own card. The recommendation was to create one for Grandpa/my Dad, but I thought it would be more fun (and challenging) to make one for Papa. I was pleasantly surprised to find several selections that fit the bill, but one in particular caught my critical designer’s eye…

I love me some doodles! And this one was not only super cute, but also allowed me to customize the name on the front. So I popped in a “PAPA” (I got to choose from a ton of fonts, colors, sizes, etc.) and my cover was done!

Cardstore - #worldstoughestjob - papa 1

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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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