indoor fun for cold weather months

When children are trapped indoors by cold temperatures, the walls of your home rapidly begin to close in. Youthful exuberance and energy simply cannot be expelled by playing quiet indoor games, but the typical horseplay that would take place out of doors usually is not conducive to the survival of your furniture, walls, fragile knick knacks, or anything else breakable in your home. 

Parent loves the Pocket Disc. A crocheted flying disc, the Pocket Disc can be used to play hundreds of games like Ceiling Fan 500, Pocket Disc Bowling, Duck Hunting, and many others, all of which won’t result in bumped and bruised crying children or a trashed home. The disc’s soft cotton construction eliminates the possibility for most injury and home damage while still retaining its ability to fly and entertain for hours. Our only issue? Keeping it away from the dog.



snooz’n sleep aid

We were intrigued with Snooz’n, a purported “natural sleep aid” to combat stress, energy drinks, and general sleeplessness. Directions told us to drink the 2.5 oz. bottle (certainly not daunting) and then in about 30 minutes, it would take effect. With natural ingredients like Valerian root (a non-toxic herb that is known to reduce headaches and support natural sleep patterns) and L-Tryptophan (which in substantial quantities is a natural sedative), we were hopeful.

The “Berry-Berry Tired” flavor had a lively but faux fruit flavor according to one tester (another said it was “berry, berry bad”) but the end result was one tester was already tired when she drank the elixir and thinks she would have conked out anyway; the other said it made no difference in his sleep pattern; he laid awake for hours after drinking it. So, the jury is out.

mourning the demise of cribsheet

We had to mention the departure of the Star Tribune’s Cribsheet on January 30th, shut down when the duo of May Chen and Kay Krhin announced: “The simple fact is, we are no longer new parents. Changing diapers is a distant memory. The pediatrician is no longer on speed dial. We no longer type one-handed. And (sometimes) we sleep through the night.” But Chen and her family moved and the duo decided to go out when they were on top.

We will miss their insightful words and will leave you with the final thought, spoken by Kay’s son, Ben.

The other night, Kay’s Ben whispered from his pillow:

Ben: In Charlotte’s Web the spider said: ‘With the right words you can change the world.’”

Kay: Oh? What do you think those words are? 

Ben: I think they are please and thank you. 

So, thank you Cribsheet. You will be missed.



QR codes — what are they?

QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are similar to barcodes found on products in supermarkets and drugstores. Instead of providing the price of an item, however, QR codes take the scanning device to a website, YouTube video, or other online location. These two-dimensional codes are scanned using the camera on an iPhone or Android-equipped phone with a downloaded QR code reader app, such as NeoReader. Once scanned, the code automatically sends the phone’s Internet browser to the website connected to the individual code. QR codes are new, but have already shown up in magazines and advertisements as the number of smartphone users increase. And if you are wondering about that confusing Chino Latino billboard near Hennepin & Lake (the eyeball with the white and black square in the center) — yep — that’s a QR code, which will transmit ads, deals (such as a recent freebie for an order of Habanero Hell Poppers), and allow you to watch “cheeky” video.— Alyson Cummings



cowles conservatory in the minneapolis sculpture garden

Well, cheap date day, actually, but this one is hard to pass up. You have to check out crystalline Cowles Conservatory, open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Entering the Conservatory, the rich scent of dirt and warm green smell of spring will envelop you. Permanent and seasonal displays of native, tropical and exotic plants, orchids, palms, and other fragrant and beautiful plant species occupy this all glass building. And the crowning glory is Frank Gehry’s Standing Glass Fish, a beloved icon set amongst a fantastic lily pond among the Mexican fan palms and calamondin orange trees. Ah, spring is here, at least inside this small but lovely glass enclosure. Admission is always FREE; you will find the Conservatory north of the Walker Art Center, almost directly across from the public parking ramp. 726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis.

steps to stop cyberbullying

There are some easy steps you can follow if your child is being cyberbullied. Let them know to come to you first, and then assess the level of severity and type of bully. If the cyberbullying is at a high level of severity — threatening physical harm to your child, their family and friends, etc. — it may be appropriate to contact the local police department, especially if the cyberbully is anonymous. If you or your child knows the cyberbully, it would appropriate to contact school administration and have them handle approaching the bully’s parents. Engaging with the cyberbully directly can escalate the situation, so make sure your child does not respond to or delete messages from a cyberbully. This evidence can be kept as a record of the malicious behavior, while disengaging helps prevent additional negative material from surfacing. Cyberbullying is easier to prevent than to fix, so change any account information and have your child turn off the computer. By walking away, they become less accessible to bullying and harassment, and are affected less by the situation. Assure them that life goes on without a Facebook profile! — Ryan Moreau, Internet safety expert and panelist with Kiwi Commons (

carle books for health & education

Through the end of April, Kohl’s has made the beloved books of Eric Carle, plus an accompanying plush toy, available for $5.00 per set with 100% of the net profits donated to support kids’ health and education initiatives nationwide. The plush toys are very well constructed and completely loveable and we all know how much children throughout the years have loved the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Foolish Tortoise and other characters. Visit for more information or to order. This isn’t just a great deal on a hardcover book plus toy; these are also quality products that fund a good cause. 

instant cookie gratification nearing end

If you haven’t used your Cookie Booth Locator app on your mobile device to find the nearest Girl Scout cookies yet, time is running out. The Cookie Program, which launched February 5 with Cookie Go Day, ends March 20. You can also find your cookies online at 

On a diet? You can still buy cookies for others to enjoy through the Cookie Care & Share program, which has delivered 200,000 boxes of cookies to 501c3 charitable organizations by accepting donations from cookie customers. 

With over 40,000 girls throughout the program, hitting the streets and armed with Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Dulce de Leche, Lemon Chalet Cremes, 

and Thank U Berry Munches — what are you waiting for?