snacks

19 Things My Kid Has Eaten Since He Last Had a Vegetable

March 1, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Things My Kid Has Eaten - SmartyPants Vitamins

As parents, one of the most common struggles is getting our kids to eat. To eat healthy. To eat what’s set before them. To eat at all.

My son’s mealtime issues are multi-tiered — a parfait of frustration, if you will. Sitting still (or down) is a frequent battle; and as he’s gotten older, he’s become more resourceful in acquiring between-meal snacks. But the biggest hurdle has been his continuously dwindling palette, particularly when it comes to vegetables. While we do sneak them in sometimes (pureed cauliflower in pasta sauce is a favorite), the fact remains he won’t knowingly put any sort of vegetable in his mouth.

But before I go on… If you’re one of those Type A parents whose kids have eaten only well-balanced, organic, locally-grown meals since birth, you can just keep on scrolling. We have plenty of inadequacy on our plate already. And besides, don’t you have some homemade kale-quinoa-almond milk popsicles to whip up?

Okay, now that they’re gone, the rest of us can relax a bit and get down to business. As an exercise in catharsis, I’ve compiled a list for you. A ridiculously long, ridiculously gross list of 19 things my kid has eaten (or chewed, or put in his mouth) since the last time he willingly ate a vegetable.

Cringe at the carnage, be strong in the solidarity, and be sure to share your own weird, stomach-churning tidbits in the comments.

1. Boogers

I figured I might as well get this one out of the way. While one of the most common and arguably most disgusting things kids ingest, I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s the convenience of the short delivery route, or perhaps it’s a child’s first way of practicing recycling. Whatever the reason, I have no idea what the chemical make-up of boogers are, and I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure it’s not vegetables.

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Brains, Schmains: How About Some Zombie S’mores!

February 10, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Zombie S'mores!

S’mores are just about the most perfect snack. First, there’s the simplicity of them: chocolate + marshmallows + graham crackers; heat, eat, repeat.

They’re also super easy to customize, personalize, and accessorize. Maybe you like yours with peanut butter, or Nutella instead of chocolate; or maybe once in college you experimented with s’mores made from Pop Tarts and have always fantasized about trying that again.

And finally, s’mores are always in season: they taste just as gooey and delicious whether you’re huddled around a campfire telling ghost stories or huddled on the couch binge-watching The Walking Dead.

Speaking of zombies…
A while back I made some spooky monster s’mores for my son’s class Halloween party. They were such fun to make (and a big hit with the kids), that I thought I’d revisit this snack-craft and see what other monstrosity I could come up with. Then it hit me — ZOMBIE S’MORES. What could be more fitting than a gooey, melty, drippy snack made to look like a gooey, melty, drippy reanimated corpse?!

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My Favorite Superhero Wears Pink

December 29, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, MAKING MEMORIES

Through nearly every phase of my life, comic books and superheroes have been a source of entertainment, enlightenment, and inspiration. Yet there’s a real-life superhero that has had my back through it all — one that has gone heretofore unrecognized. Whether venturing out on my own, finding my soulmate, or settling into domesticated dad bliss, this unsung hero has never failed to protect, comfort, and heal. All while swathed in soothing shades of pink.

I’m of course talking about Pepto-Bismol.
Or as I like to call it…

Pepto Bismol — Captain Pepto to the rescue!

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The In-Between Boy

September 17, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

In-between boy

Last night I sat and watched as my son played out an allegory for his life at this moment in time. Having eaten his dinner, my five-and-three-quarters-year-old requested ice cream. I got one of his “baby bowls” from the cabinet, after a second or two of consideration as I skimmed through the options in my well-oiled (though oft -addled) dad-brain:

“Though he does fine with the plates, his clumsiness rules out a ceramic bowl. The plastic ones Papa and I use for ice cream are rather deep — he’s still a bit short to reach inside… Plus a smaller bowl would do better for a smaller portion. Baby bowl it is.”

I placed the ice cream in front of him at the table, then ever-so-carefully scattered out sprinkles until he’d declared there were enough. He then jumped up, scrambled to the cutlery drawer, and came back wielding a large, red-handled spoon. He explained he needed a grown-up spoon because “my mouth is so big.” Truer words.

As I finished my salad, we talked about school and who his new friends were and the song about elephants he learned in music class that day. And he ate his ice cream. Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, in a too-small baby bowl, with a spoon too big for his talkative mouth. He would pick off the tiniest of bites with his giant spoon, careful to get a couple of sprinkles in each nibble, placing some atop the ice cream if the spoon failed to snatch some. Perhaps his micro-bites were an attempt to avoid brain freeze or him wanting it to last longer or trying to avoid catapulting the entire scoop out of his bowl.

Whatever the reason, I continued to soak in the image of my newly-minted kindergartner with his tiny bowl and huge spoon, reflecting on recent weeks and the growing pains it had brought us. His final morning with preschool classmates and teachers closely preceding the afternoon he met his kindergarten teacher; his first day of class a mere two days later. I worried it was too quick; too abrupt a transition, but he took it in stride. No tears, only excitement tinged with nervousness.

On that transition day, after seeing his classroom and chatting with his Mrs. Kelly, we roamed the halls of the new school as a family, dodging teachers and parents, kids of various sizes and speeds, exploring the cafeteria, the library, the gym. As we maneuvered these large, crowded, foreign halls, my in-between boy would absentmindedly reach up for my hand, feel it was there, then drop his back to his side. Never looking up, never taking hold, always moving forward. My hope, that it was with the knowledge I was by his side, had his back, and was ready to take hold when he needed it. And to let go when he needed that, too.

It was a bittersweet moment, and a portend of the weeks ahead, between then and the ice cream. Weeks that have seen a straining to grow more, to catch up, to chase after the big kids, to be his own person. And the fall-out from falling short or trying to go too far, too soon. Meltdowns and tantrums. Defiance and anger. But with moments of joy and triumph, laughter and maturity in-between.

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8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

August 10, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

It’s T-Minus three weeks until my son starts kindergarten, but I’m not stressed at all. I know there are a lot of other parents out there just like me, who will be sending their baby out into the big, bad world of crafts-making and rule-following and bells ringing…and them being away from you all day, and you not knowing what the hell is going on and why can’t I give him a cell phone so he can text me if he needs me but his spelling is still pretty terrible…oh no he’s already behind and it’s my fault plus he’d only use a phone to play Minecraft and won’t learn anything and flunk out of school on his first day thus ruining his chance of any happiness in life!!!

Nope, not stressed one bit.

Preparing your kid (and by “your kid,” I mean you) for their first day of REAL SCHOOL is easier than you think. Just follow these few simple suggestions and everything will be absolutely, positively, one hundred percent perfect.
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1. GET THE LAY OF THE LAND

Obtain schematics for the school, including drop off/pick up spots, location of the nurse’s office, routes to bathrooms, and all fire exits. Make a recording describing these layouts in detail, then play them while your child sleeps so they’re subliminally committed to his or her memory. Conducting middle-of-the-night fire/disaster/poop drills are also beneficial. Air horns recommended.
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2. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…

Do background checks on all the kids in your child’s classroom, as well as their parents. Find out which have a record of pulling hair, spitting or biting (applies to kids or parents), and make flash cards so your child can familiarize him or herself with this “Bad Seed” list.

Additionally, hack the school’s computer and maneuver your child so he’s seated next to that super genius musical prodigy with the millionaire parents.

8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

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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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Quik, Make Me a Superhero!

April 27, 2015 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Even if you’re a die-hard superhero fan, you’re probably sick of seeing Cap, Iron Man, Hulk & company plastered on everything from soda cartons to car commercials to to every talk show on every network ever. I love me some Avengers, but enough already — I just want to see the movie!

The only person possibly more excited than me is my 5-year-old. While he won’t be seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron until Daddy and Papa have had a chance to screen it, he knows he’ll get to eventually, and is certainly enjoying watching the trailers, as well as incorporating his favorite super team more frequently into make-believe play.

Speaking of make-believe play, Nesquik is one of the few products that’s making their Avengers promotion fun and interactive — not just slapping a photo of Thor on some chocolate milk — though that does seem to make it taste yummier…

nestle avengers

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Avengers Fans: Assemble to Win a $100 Fandango Gift Card!

April 20, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Avengers Fandango Giveaway

Designer Daddy and Lunchbox Dad are teaming up again to bring you our mightiest collaboration yet!

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In honor of the soon-to-be-in-theaters Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Beau and I combined our superpowers, partnered with Fandango Family, and put together some awesome lunchtime ideas to help you and your kids get excited about the super-sized sequel!

I created SuperLunchNotes featuring three of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Lunchbox Dad crafted a dynamically delicious Avengers-themed bento lunch box. And Fandango Family is giving away two $100 movie gift cards, with chances for you to win both!

Avengers Fandango Giveaway

STEP 1: Visit Fandango Family to see the full reveal of my Avengers lunch notes, as well as Beau’s bento lunch box.

STEP 2: Ever wanted to make your own SuperLunchNotes? You’re in luck! While you’re on Fandango’s site, download printable sheets of the lunch notes for you or your child to color in, or print and trace the hero and add your own message. Full-color versions also available!

STEP 3: Enter the giveaway in the contest widget below!
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Contest ends at 11:59 EST this Saturday, April 25. Multiple ways to enter!
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to win more? Head over to Lunchbox Dad and enter to win another $100 Fandango gift card — and tell him Designer Daddy sent you!

Avengers Fandango Giveaway

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Check out all my SuperLunchNotes on Instagram!

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[Disclaimer: Giveaways made possible by Fandango Family. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.]

Six Silly/Spooky Candy Corn Crafts

October 5, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Candy Corn Crafts for Halloween

Gun control, gay marriage, abortion…candy corn?!? Who knew Halloween’s perennial kernel-shaped snack could be so divisive?

I took a poll to find out how folks felt about candy corn, and the results were quite polarizing. None of the replies were of the “I can take it or leave it” variety. Certainly some sang its praises, and a few rode the fence with a love/hate relationship. But the most entertaining and creative answers came from the haters.

“I would rather write an essay on a blackboard using nothing but a fork.”

“My teeth hurt just reading this.”

“Insipid confections spawned from hell.”  

“Rather eat corn in sh*t.” 

“I would like to feed All of It to Dick Cheney, staple him to Donald Rumsfeld and launch the whole lot into the sun.”

“HAAAAAAATE”

Alrighty, then. There seems to be some seriously deep-seated loathing of this defenseless little sweet. Yet according to the National Confectioners Association, 25 million pounds (9,000+ metric tons) of candy corn are sold annually. I imagine there must be more than a few metric tons lying around somewhere, uneaten and unloved, serving no purpose but to populate our landfills and choke our dolphins.

So for all you candy corn abhorrers — and for the admirers that also love super silly crafts — here are some ways to put that bumper crop of corn to good(ish) use.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Power Lunch Back-to-School Giveaway

September 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

That title’s a mouthful, ain’t it? Yet it’s certainly befitting my epic team-up with fellow Dad Blogger and Lunchtime Super Power, Lunchbox Dad! We’re serving up some fun and creative ways to prepare school lunches — plus a ginormous giveaway to help you make lunchtime awesome!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Back-to-school Giveaway

One of the unexpected perks of blogging has been all of the interesting, talented and just downright nice people I’ve met. Whether online or hanging out in real life, I’ve found support and inspiration from so many of my dad blogging bros. One whose creativity I’ve admired for a while is Beau Coffron, AKA Lunchbox Dad. Check out his web site or Instagram to see what I mean — he puts so much fun and imagination into the meals he makes for his kids. It’s a scrumptious sight to behold!

I had the pleasure of meeting Beau in person at a conference in July. While we were there, we did some brainstorming over beer and Happy Meals for ways to combine our lunch-related passions into a cool giveaway for our readers.

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