technology

‘Twas 10 Days Before Christmas: Playing Santa With Google Home

December 15, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.

Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!

But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.

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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.

As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

Google Home helps parents play Santa

In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”

Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Uncommonly Good Dads

November 25, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Holiday Gift Guide for Dad

I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.

One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.

For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…

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Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads

June 6, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

Every chance I get, I try to quash negative stereotypes associated with dads. Whether it’s helping to redefine our roles, advocating for same-sex fathers, or giving “dad bod” fashion tips, Designer Daddy is always on the job to remind the world that dads are anything but ordinary.

That applies to gift-giving, too. With Father’s Day on the horizon, I’ve put together a list of out-of-the-ordinary gifts for your extraordinary dad, dads, husband, or granddad. And Daddio, if you’re like me and (supposedly) hard to shop for, feel free to treat yourself!

Also, be sure to enter to win THIS ENTIRE GIFT LIST (valued at $600)! Fill out the contest widget at the end, then on June 14th I’ll announce the winner of…

Designer Daddy’s Father’s Day Gift Guide & Giveaway for Extraordinary Dads!

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Father's Day Gift Guide & GIveaway - Sword & Plough Rucksack

FOR THE STYLISHLY MANLY DAD: This sturdy, all-purpose rucksack is the rare combination of manly AND stylish, and has two exterior pockets and an interior laptop sleeve. From Main St. Shop, who sell only high-quality, American-made products. Check out their site for lots more gifts for dad or mom, as well as kids and pets. BONUS: Upcycled from military surplus materials. Available from Main St. Shop. $250

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‘Snapdad’ Creates Adorable Masterpieces While Baby Sleeps

January 12, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

One of the first things new parents learn is the art of getting baby to sleep. And by “learn,” I mean reading books, scouring the Internet, texting your friends, calling your parents… and then winging it out of panic. Whether it’s naptime, nighttime, or OMG-WHY-IS-HE-AWAKE-time, getting an infant to sleep (or back to sleep) can be a harrowing, tedious, mind-numbing experience.

Then there are new dads like Lukas Costeur, AKA SNAPDAD. Since the birth of his son Felix, Lukas has been using Snapchat (and his creativity) to capture the special moments spent lulling his wee one to sleep. With nothing but the Snapchat drawing tool — and a willing subject — Snapdad has begun a whimsical gallery of pop culture baby pics.

snapdad

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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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FREE FAMILY EVENT! Tysons Microsoft Store 10/30 #FitnessDayDC

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

Microsoft Store #FitnessDayDC

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TYSONS MICROSOFT STORE #FitnessDayDC EVENT

Thursday, October 30, 2014  12:00 PM to 6:00 PM (EST)

DETAILS

This Thursday, October 30, visit the Microsoft Store at Tysons Corner Center to jump start your health and fitness goals before the biggest candy-eating holiday of the year! It’ll be a day of fun activities — Kinect and Xbox sessions, Zumba and yoga classes, and more — all designed to keep you and your kids moving. You can also enter to win prizes, some of which will be “big-ticket” items. Which is code for “expensive.”

[Tysons Corner Microsoft Store Info]    [Tysons Corner Center Map]
The Microsoft Store is located on Level 2 of Tysons Corner Center, next to Banana Republic and across from Restoration Hardware.

Designer Daddy will be there to help host!

If you come between 1:00 – 2:00 pm, you’ll have a chance to meet me in real life! Okay, that’s not much of a draw, but I’d love to see/meet/re-meet you and snap a co-selfie (an “ussie?”) before you run off to take a Zumba class, kick butt on Xbox, or enter to win some prizes.

CAN’T MAKE THE MAGICAL HOUR I’M HOSTING?

Want to attend the event but can’t make it from 1-2pm? No worries — but please be sure to take a selfie at the event and send it to me via Twitter or Instagram (@DesignerDaddy or use the hashtag #FitnessDayDC) so I can say hello and get brownie points for getting you to the event!

WHO CAN ATTEND?

The event is open to the public so invite/bring/drag all your friends, family and kids. RSVP’s are not necessary, but it does let me know who’ll be attending so I can keep a lookout for you. RSVP to the event on Facebook.

SCHEDULE & PRIZES (UPDATED)

 10am-6pm: In-store giveaways to first 150 consumers. Other (bigger!) prizes announced throughout the day.
 10am-6pm: Product demos happening all day long!
 12-1pm: Yoga class or store-provided fitness activity
 1-5pm: In-store workouts in Xbox Fitness Area. Optional fitness tests available. Xbox Fitness workout options to include Gillian Michaels, P90X, and Insanity. Trainers in-store to help  with all workouts.
 5pm: Evening snacks provided (see!)
 6-6:45pm: Zumba class or store-provided fitness activity

I will be adding more info about prizes and class times as I receive them.

QUESTIONS ABOUT #FitnessDayDC?

Shoot me an email: Brent (at) DesignerDaddy (dot) com. Hope to see you there!

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Disclosure: I partnered with XYMedia for the #FitnessDayDC event, and was compensated for my involvement.

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 tp 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

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

DDQ&A: Evan Spiridellis

July 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!

Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
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LOGOS

Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach 🙂 READ FULL ARTICLE >>

A (not so) Brief Note

December 10, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS DAD DIGS

We’re currently trudging towards the epic milestone of bowel autonomy. JJ had one rapturous success, got derailed (understandably so) by our trip to Italy, and has yet to regain his commode momentum. We’ve employed several potty training tools, which so far have produced squat in the way of results. But I thought I’d share them with you since I think they’re fun. And who knows — hopefully they’ll work for someone else in the same, um… poodicament*.

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DC Super Friends in POTTY TIME POWER!

This book is all kinds of awesome — each page features a different DC superhero explaining some aspect of potty training (Superman blows away a giant stack of diapers! Plastic Man shows how much toilet paper is the right amount! Flash warns to give yourself enough time to get to the can!) Many of the pages have flaps for your child to reveal more fun and action, and there are 2 full pages of stickers! The book is nice and thick and well-laminated to avoid any bathroom mishaps or accidental drops in the tub/sink/commode. ($8.99 on Amazon)

And oh yeah, my man Aquaman gives a lesson (kind of) on the importance of washing up afterwards!

So far the book hasn’t “worked,” but its repeated use has helped JJ’s spelling. And the fact that it’s chock full o’ heroes makes it a wee bit more bearable for me to read over and over and over.
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Daddy’s iPad Playlist 08.05.12

August 6, 2012 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

JJ and I spent part of a rainy, Sunday afternoon in one our favorite places — snuggled up together transfixed by the soft glow of my iPad. I try not to expose him to it for too long in one sitting (especially when playing games) and never let him have it alone. I know how hard it is for ME to put it down, so I get how traumatic it is for a toddler to have his fix suddenly cut off. I also try to make every experience just the tiniest bit educational. Sometimes it’s miniscule.

08.05.12 PLAYLIST:


Some Pink Panther:
Movie remake opening credits
and “Pink Lemonade” 1978 cartoon episode

Followed by greatest hits from “The Wizard of Oz”:

plus
“Follow The Yellow Brick Road”
“A Munchkin Welcome”
(Lullaby League/Lollipop Guild)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

A little Wonder Woman tutorial:

Theme song (he’s heard it before, but it’s not memorized like Spider-Man or Batman. Gonna take a little extra work.)
How to spin (JJ had been swinging around a dog toy all day pretending it was Wonder Woman’s “wope” so I figured I’d show him how to spin like her, then watch him get dizzy and laugh. Like I said, it was raining—we were bored.)

and finally…

Super Friends: Hawaiian Ice Mystery interactive book/game
This is a relatively new interactive story book from the DC Super Friends line of characters that heavily features my main man, Aquaman! You can go through the story with narration or without, and even record your own voice to tell the story! There are also several activities to choose from including coloring pages, puzzles and a Colorforms-type sticker page. $4.99, ages 4+ (JJ’s not yet 3 but it’s still keeps him busy and entertained. And oh yeah, educated)

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