star wars

Designer Daddy’s Top 10 Movies of the Last 10 Years

February 6, 2020 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

The start of this new decade also marks a couple of major personal milestones. Inconceivably, I am now the father of a ten-year-old. And as this site debuted on my son’s first birthday, I’m also starting my tenth year as a blogger. So to commemorate my ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’ll be sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.

Top 10 Movies of the Last 10 Years

First up, movies.

Taking my kid to the movies was one of those things I dreamed about before becoming a dad. And since becoming a parent, going to the movies has been one of the few shared activities that (almost) never ends in a meltdown. Even the crappy movies give us things to talk and laugh about — and the great films are made even more magical by experiencing them together.

Note: these are not necessarily the films my son would say are his favorites, as he declares each and every cinematic experience THE BEST EVER. This is my list, consisting of our grandest father-son movie going adventures.

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SuperLunchNotes: Black Superheroes Edition

February 20, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

There are lots of ways to teach children about diversity… and not just during Black History Month. Certainly it’s important to introduce your kids to African-American culture through leaders like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Dr. King. But I’ve found some of the most effective lessons are those integrated into everyday life.

As a family of gay fathers and an adopted son, it’s vital our child feels visible, included and loved. Beyond surrounding ourselves with other queer and adoptive families, we also make racial diversity a priority. This has informed all aspects of our lives — from where we chose to live, to the friends we make, to the school our son attends. It also factors into the books, TV shows and movies we expose our son to. And of course that includes superheroes.

black superheroes

For those new to the blog, I’ve been creating superhero lunch notes for my son since preschool. They’ve been a great way not only to send him a bit of encouragement (or remind him to flush), but also a fun tool to introduce him to a wide array of heroes. And since this is Black History Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the awesome black characters I’ve doodled for my kid over the years.

I’ve listed family-friendly sources under each note so you and your kids can learn/watch/read more about these heroes. Feel free to copy or print the notes for your family’s lunches — be sure to send me a photo if you make your own!

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BLACK PANTHER

Black Superheroes

This is the black superhero everyone now knows, thanks to the record-breaking, history-making Black Panther film. WAKANDA FOREVER! GOOD LUCK AT THE OSCARS!

FUN FACT: Black Panther was originally conceived by artist Jack Kirby as a character named “Coal Tiger.”
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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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Life & Lunch Notes: Mystery, Wrestling, and Gay Penguins

February 25, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.

So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.

Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…

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1.2 Unikitty

January SuperLunchNotes: Unikitty

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December SuperLunchNotes: Making Mealtime Merry!

January 8, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

December flew by like an icy, winter wind, scattering wrapping paper, dried up pine needles, and a smattering of holiday-themed lunch notes. So before I get too mired in the new year, here are December’s SuperLunchNotes!

I didn’t try to force themes onto each week, mainly because there were very few full weeks in December due to regular recurrences of holidays, bad weather, and sickness. Yet each note did have a bit of Christmas flair… or Hanukkah pizzaz in one case.

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12.1 Star Butterfly

December SuperLunchNotes Star vs the Forces of Evil

Star Butterfly is the lead character in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, one of the new batch of weird and wacky cartoons Jon has been watching lately. Though odd, I dig that Star is a powerful princess who takes no guff AND has a super sparkly wand! And several head-only Unicorns as pets. Like I said… odd.

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November SuperLunchNotes: Hero Flicks & Birthdays!

December 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

The last couple months of the year are a downhill avalanche of festivities for our little fam. Halloween quickly gives way to Jon’s birthday week, which then steamrolls into Thanksgiving, and then it’s just all-holidays all-the-time until January 2nd. Mixed in with the holidays and birthdays was a lot of movie-going — all of which provided some great lunchtime inspiration. So grab some popcorn, a turkey leg, and a slice of birthday cake — here comes November’s SuperLunchNotes!

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11.1 Thor  |  11.2 Hulk  |  11.3 Hela

November superlunchnotes

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October SuperLunchNotes: A Month of Villains!

November 1, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Admit it — villains are more fun sometimes. They get all the good lines, they have the coolest gadgets and flashiest costumes, and they always go out with a bang. So in honor of Halloween and all things villainous, October SuperLunchNotes were ALL BAD GUYS ALL THE TIME. So sit back in your high-backed chair, stroke your white cat or twirl your mustache, and enjoy these devious doodles.

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10.2 Cruella de Vil

October SuperLunchNotes

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September SuperLunchNotes: 1st Month of 2nd Grade!

October 2, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

Another school year is well underway (that would be second grade, folks), and I’ve already got a month’s worth of SuperLunchNotes to share. I’m gonna give it a go of posting notes a month at a time, but am always open to feedback, other ideas, and of course heaps and heaps of praise.

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9.5 Woody & Buzz Lightyear  |  9.6 LEGO Batman & Robin  |  9.7 Phineas & Ferb

The night before the first day of school we watched Toy Story 2, so I thought it fitting to kick off 2nd grade with the playful stars of the franchise, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. That spawned the idea to do a duo-themed week, which in turned spawned two of Jon’s current favorite pairs, Phineas & Ferb and LEGO Batman & Robin. Fun fact: Man-of-few-words Ferb is voiced by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, also known for the role of Newt in the Maze Runner series and Jojen Reed in seasons 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones.

9.8 The Wonder Twins (Zan and Jayna)

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Girl Power for Boys: 10 Action-Packed Shows Featuring Powerful Girls

March 28, 2017 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.

Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.

In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.

Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.

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Powerful Girl:
STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy

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girl power for boys - skylanders

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If Trump Were My Kid: 17 Bits of Fatherly Advice for the New President

January 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.

One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.

Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.

So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.

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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.


If Donald Trump Were My Kid: Fatherly Advice for the New President

What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
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