Sarah Jackson
See frolicking farm babies: Lift your spirits for real with videos of adorable baby animals set to cheerful music, courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo. Your kids will love the time-lapse videos, including a chick hatching, and animal story times, especially the hilarious goat one.Work out for free: The YMCA is offering free-for-all workout videos (yes, even for non-members), including yoga, bootcamp, barre, cycling, Pilates, dance, tai chi, kickboxing, weightlifting and youth sports, plus... more
Dogs to the rescue!
Trying to get a 70-pound Labrador to pose for a photo is no easy task. The Labrador, Gregg, only wants to look at his companion, Brea Vandergon, not at the camera.Brea’s father, Cedar Vandergon (attempts to get the 2-year-old service dog to rest his head on his daughter’s lap. As soon as he removes the portable, speech-generating device... more
Coloring contest winners!
Congrats to our #coloringathome contest WINNERS (who won our grand prizes)!FIRST PLACE: Scarlet, 9, of Arden HillsSECOND PLACE: Carter, 10, of WoodburyTHIRD PLACE: Brianna, 10, of CentervilleAND ... congrats to our #coloringathome contest's HONORABLE MENTIONS, featuring some of our youngest entrants (who won some neat... more
Grow your own food and flowers!
There’s something magical about spring, especially in Minnesota when bitterly cold winters keep us cooped up for long stretches.And then there's that OTHER reason we've been cooped up. We're not even going to go there, except to say that COVID-19 — with its grocery shortages and stay-home restrictions — might inspire a bit of a return to... more
Where to find us during COVID-19!
During normal times, you can find Minnesota Parent at more than 1,000 free rack sites in the Twin Cities. Unlike newsstand magazines, our copies are always free — unless you want them mailed to your home every month. (That costs $18 a year.)During the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, we’re actually still delivering copies at... more
When sleep won't come
I suppose it was sometime after 2 a.m. when I found myself curled up in the corner of my bedroom closet, clutching my phone as I contemplated driving to the ER.Six hours had passed since I locked myself in the bedroom. Exiled from my husband, preschooler and 5-day-old newborn, my mission was simple: Sleep.But sleep ... it would not come.... more
A new normal
Our children will never know their mother with two legs,” I said behind suppressed tears.I could tell my husband’s eyes were red from crying, and yet this comment brought a most sincere smile to his face.“This will be one of the greatest gifts you ever give our children,” he said.We were less than 48 hours into a terrifying new reality,... more
Stay home, stay safe
Minnesota schools are closed and summer's coming.How can parents balance work, parenting and e-learning and keep their sanity while cooped up?Here are a few options, including educational screen-based activities and some unplugged activities for kids as well as whole families, now spending way more time together.Keep this guide: When all... more
Playing with fire
Coat hooks, fire pokers and a campfire pie iron: No, this isn’t a list of items found at a local rummage sale. It’s just a sampling of the items campers have designed and made during the summer programming at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center in Minneapolis. Creativity and problem solving go hand-in-hand at the summer camps,... more
Heart and soul
Finding the right summer camp for your kids can feel like a monumental task. It needs to work with your schedule, but it also must fit your children’s unique interests, keep them busy and offer a safe place to learn, explore and grow. And when you’re the parent of a child with heart disease, your definition of a “safe place”... more
Such great heights
Surrounded by aqua-blue walls dotted with colorful climb holds, half a dozen children between the ages of 5 and 7 sit together intently focused on the wall in front of them. Above them, a small boy places a hand on a hold and lifts himself up the wall, which stands only about 15 feet high, but seems impossibly tall compared to the boy.“... more
All that jazz
Performing live on five different instruments with only three weeks to prepare may seem daunting to even the most seasoned musician — and all but impossible for beginner students — but that’s exactly what campers do at Walker West Music Academy’s Summer Music Camp in St. Paul. The three-week day camp runs in July and is open to... more
Grand designs
If you’re considering grandparent childcare, you’re not alone. In the U.S., almost 25% of children younger than 5 are cared for by grandparents regularly while their parents work or attend school. Avni Novotny of Brooklyn Center, a mother of 3-year-old twins, Raina and Bodhi, is grateful that her family is willing to help watch her... more
Out of sync
When my twins first arrived, I was hell-bent on keeping them on the same schedule. After all, that was the sage advice everyone with multiples gave me — one up, both up; one down, both down. So I tried. Believe me when I tell you how very hard I tried. I desperately wanted this to work, not just because I’m an advice- and... more
Bouncing back
Teen tryouts are more stressful than watching any youth tournament. At a recent tryout event for a Junior Olympic volleyball club, I saw elated faces and relief hugs among teens and parents. This was after the first of four teams of girls were dismissed from the courts. I also saw the anguish of parents still waiting. Some... more
Get dirty
You always boil Baby’s bottles between uses. You wipe down the play area each evening and you scrub those pacifiers with soap every time they touch the ground. Right? No? Well, then, good news is in store for you. Recent medical research shows that ingesting some dirt — and a few germs and allergens — may not be such a bad... more
Fitting in fitness
At the age of 39 (and a half), Jess Helle-Morrissey had never exercised. She didn’t play sports as a kid, had no desire to hit the gym and looked and felt pretty healthy. So why start now?As her 40th birthday loomed, the St. Paul mom of three was going on a lot of walks with her baby, who would sleep only in her carrier. But as the... more
Facing cancer together
My daughter, Audrey, had just completed first grade. She was “7, going on 17,” as they say. It’s just the two of us, so she keeps me on my toes. Her inquisitive and logical nature makes for some rather interesting conversations and questions, which I do my best to field in age-appropriate ways. Time will tell what she... more
A fresh-cut Christmas
If you’ve ever gone berry picking, pumpkin patching or apple harvesting, you know how fun it can be to visit a local farm in spring, summer and fall. But did you know you could venture out to local farms even in winter? Yep! Minnesota boasts numerous U-cut tree farms for families who want to choose and cut their very own... more
Winter joy!
Parenting, in many ways, is a bit of a surrender. Resistance is futile. There’s no turning back, no matter how hard it gets. But once you give in, well, that’s when the fun starts. You learn to embrace the journey, the chaos, the humor of child-rearing. Winter, once you’ve chosen to make Minnesota your home, is kind of the... more
Greener together
There’s no shortage of scary statistics about how much trash Americans produce (over 4 pounds per person, per day), how big our carbon footprint is (more than triple the world average) or how little of our plastic actually gets recycled (9% — yikes).If you’re like me, these stats make you feel two things — a strong desire to do something... more
Keeping the peace
I was in the middle of a kiddo-less week. That meant my 1-year-old son, Lance, and my 4-year-old daughter, April, were spending an entire seven days not only with their dad, but also with his new girlfriend, Tina. I was still trying to adjust to the entire situation, attempting to see the silver linings. At this point, though, they... more
Twin Cities toy stores!
Sure, you can find a lot of the toys on our list online, but supporting local stores — and discovering the true wealth of toy options in person — is well worth it!  ABC & Toy Zone, Chanhassen and RochesterAir Traffic Kites and Games, MOA, Roseville and MinnetonkaBuyBuy Baby, WoodburyChoo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St.... more
Stocking stuffers!
These small but mighty gifts will delight and amaze parents and kids alike. Promise.Schylling Snow Ball  $3.99 • 3 and upWhy we love it: Squeeze this super-flexible, totally durable ball and you’ll gasp in wonder at how reminiscent it is of real crunchy snow. Our kids loved it. We think it also would make a fun holiday gift for... more
Games for kids (and adults)!
Revolt against screen time and learn something new as a family — as you spend quality time together — with these game-night gems.Snail Sprint$29.99 • 5 and upWhy we love it: Ready to graduate from Candy Land? This is a best bet, thanks to magnetic snails and an innovative game path that goes up and over a metal storage tin. Players draw... more
All the toys!
We’re on TV! This year KARE 11 hosted — and filmed! — our 2019 toy test at the TV station’s Golden Valley studios. Be sure to tune in to KARE 11 Sunrise with Gia Vang from 6–7 a.m. Nov. 4–12 to see interviews with parents and kids and tons of testing action, too!Looking for our top-rated board games? (They're here!) Stocking... more
Finding the perfect patch
Looking for fall fun? In Minnesota, you can find it pretty much anywhere in autumn with oodles of fall festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. But where should you go this year? This was the question posed by Minnesota mama-blogger-Realtor Mary Beth Burgstahler.The California native moved to Minnesota in 2013 and had visited... more
Toning down tech
This fall, my 8-year-old daughter started third grade. She also received a Chromebook, provided by the school to support her education. And we embarked on a new challenge as a family — how to help our child balance technology use. Technology is a part of our lives — for both parents and kids. And learning tech skills is... more
Free to learn
On an expansive 8-acre campus tucked away in Roseville, sits the Minnesota Waldorf School, a private K-8 school serving families across the Twin Cities. A couple of chickens roam freely next to a coop near the school. Nearby, an eighth-grade class spreads across a giant grassy field where several massive, black, hotdog-shaped... more
Ag in the city
Do you know where your salad comes from? Or what’s in the pesticide you’re about to spray on your lawn? Or how to tell whether that weird thing your dog is doing requires a trip to the vet? These are only a few of the questions students might investigate at the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture (AFSA) — a public K–12 charter... more
Fall into family fun
My husband and I sit at Big River Kombucha’s taproom sipping cans of fermented tea. I like Paddleboat Peach; he prefers Driftless Ginger Lime. Our three kids dance and play nearby to the music of the Sawtooth Brothers, part of a free concert series. Time seems to stand still. Just 60 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, we’re... more
Open to love
Like many proud mothers, Cassidy Stumm has a social media profile that’s full of “aw”-inducing photos of the 27-year-old cuddling her baby girl. Amidst images of her daughter’s baptism and first birthday party, a picture of Cassidy — lifting up the laughing baby — is superimposed with the words: “I am touched by adoption.” ... more
A birth story
Rebecca and Laurel Luxenberg of Minneapolis always knew they wanted children. Immediately after their wedding in October 2013, they began planning their family. “On our honeymoon, we watched The Business of Being Born,” Laurel said. “That’s how serious we were.”Knowing they would need medical help to conceive as a same-sex... more
How to do the state fair
The buzz is building! Happy State Fair month, Minnesota parents! To prepare you for the bittersweet end-of-summer fun fest, we’ve created a guide to getting the best out of the fair with your kids — at any age.Infants (0–12 months)If the combination of huge crowds and your baby (and her accompanying gear and stroller) make you... more
3 backpacks we love!
Bioworld’s Little & Big Girls Minnie Mouse Backpack features, of course, adorable shiny ears, a cute polka dot bow, a signature from Minnie herself and even a fuzz-ball zipper pull with its own little fur ears and another red bow. $40, macys.comThe Charlie Backpack by Perry Mackin mixes messenger-bag style with backpack... more
Fighting in front of the kids
‘Babe, no!’ “No! No, babe!” my toddler shouted, waving his pudgy pointer finger. My heart sank as the guilt crept in. My son had heard my husband and me arguing the other day and was now mimicking the words and gestures from that suppertime spat. Like so many parents, we had vowed to never let arguments escalate in... more
Happy hours for parents
Your schedule is clear. The sitter is booked. You finally have a night set aside for a date. Yay for couple time! But who has the energy to come up with a cool place to go that won’t cost an arm and leg? We do!Don’t pressure yourself to find the perfect restaurant. Instead opt for a happy hour!  Skip the table and sit at the... more
The 10 best pizza places in the Twin Cities
Thin crust, deep dish, hand-tossed, wood-fired, square cut. Sicilian, Neapolitan, New York style. Extra sauce, extra cheese — you know — obscenely gooey, please! Pizza. What’s not to love? Arguably the most perfect food in the world, it’s a complete meal, the ultimate comfort food, a crowd pleaser, a treat — worthy of worship... more
Best-kept secret
Did you know Minnesota is home to a national park? On the Canadian border, just west of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, sits one of Minnesota’s best-kept secrets — the vast and beautiful Voyageurs National Park! Its name comes from the French-Canadian fur voyageurs who came to our state in the late 18th and... more
3 epic road trips
Before we had kids, my husband and I loved a good, long road trip. No real plans in hand, we’d set off with overnight bags and spend the weekend meandering through historic towns, discovering new restaurants and perusing antique shops. Fast-forward a few years and a couple kids, and now our family road trips are a different beast... more
A waterfront retreat
If you’ve lived in Minnesota long enough, you’ve probably heard of or been to the Brainerd Lakes area. This summer hotspot two hours north of the Twin Cities is known for its many family-friendly resorts such as Madden’s, Cragun’s and Grandview Lodge, all on Gull Lake. We just discovered another destination that’s... more
A new life
Will it be worth it?This is the thought that I secretly played through my mind during the past several years in my thinking about motherhood. Our journey to becoming parents was more complicated than most, including the pain of infertility and miscarriage. Even after becoming pregnant again, I felt anxiety when people would joke: “... more
Sensory city!
'It's too scary, Mom!'That’s how my son, Nico, explains his reluctance to go to the zoo, the museum or for a walk. Nico is 5. He’s sweet, funny, curious, smart, silly — and he is autistic.Any parent of a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will tell you that, like anything, there are positives and negatives of life on the... more
A sibling's view of special needs
We are twin sisters. And while many people may think that’s what makes us special, that word — special — has an entirely different meaning for us. Our older brother, Josh, had special needs, including developmental disabilities, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury due to recurring brain cancer.Though that might sound extremely... more
Beyond shy
I’ve always been a fan of organized activities. As a kid, I participated in sports and dance classes, and went on to join things like student council and my college newspaper. Today, I’m involved in moms’ groups and the PTA. If there’s a schedule and a coordinating T-shirt, I’m there. So as soon as our first son was old... more
Tools to unlock the imagination
Leonardo’s Basement has hot glue guns, saws, hammers and drills, but what they don’t have is a whole lot of tool instruction when kids and teens walk through the door.“We start with an assumption that kids don’t want to hurt themselves,” said Executive Director Steve Jevning, who founded the organization over 20 years ago with a group of... more
A personal best every day
Anthony Taylor doesn’t like the idea of just “exposing” a child to a new outdoor activity.“If you expose a kid to roller-skiing just once, it’s a huge mistake, because they already know they don’t know how to do it,” Taylor said.The key, said Taylor, who as adventures director for the Loppet Foundation runs the Minneapolis nonprofit’s... more
New inventions every summer
On the western shore of Bde Maka Ska, one summer camp has it down to a science.For 20 years, The Bakken Museum has hosted Camp Innovation for several weeks during the summer. The camp challenges children to come up with their own inventions and guides them through the process of bringing their ideas to life.“My favorite part of the week... more
Minneapolis summer offerings for all
Starting June 17, hundreds of kids will head to Southwest High School four days a week for activities ranging from ice cream making to fort building and songwriting.Meanwhile, dozens more will head to Justice Page Middle School for activities such as biking, basketball and building “Star Wars”-themed robots. More yet will head to other... more
Finding a path to family
As I walked into work, I held the door for two different coworkers sporting different progressions of baby bumps. I smiled wide and simultaneously winced as my work bag swung against my backside — sore from rounds of painful progesterone shots. Sitting down at my desk in my classroom, I sipped my decaf herbal tea and opened my email... more
Home birth 101
Photo above by Danica Donnelly: Holly Palkowitsch of Eagan gave birth to her daughter, Wilhelmina, with her partner, Chris, by her side, as well as two midwives. Read her home birth story at the end of this article.*It wasn’t so long ago that birthing at home was the norm, with the first maternal hospital opening in 1914... more
“We’re up at Tanadoona — the camp of our dreams where the water just ripples and sparkles and gleams.”This was the song that echoed in the Tanadoona forest nearly 100 years ago when the camp was started — and the tradition still continues to this day.Beginning in 1924, Tanadoona was gifted to the Camp Fire Girls — a program similar... more
Ballet for all
Ballet should be made available to anyone who wants to try it. That’s the philosophy of the St. Paul Ballet school, a nonprofit organization with a mission to reduce barriers to the art of ballet.“There can be a financial commitment to train in ballet year-round, and initially parents aren’t sure if their child wants to... more
Art smart!
When Lara Olson realized the limited amount of art education her son was getting in school, she felt she had to do something about it. So the Minnesota mother started looking for art classes, hoping to find a studio designed just for kids that offered quality art education in a fun environment.But she couldn’t find anything that... more
Heading north
While many of her friends back in her hometown of Edina, Minnesota, are busy with sports or other summer activities, Erin Duggan, 13, is unplugged — without her cell phone or Internet access — for four weeks at Camp Lake Hubert near Nisswa, Minnesota.No cell phones, no screens, no problem for Duggan.“Without your phone, you really... more
Nature time
Determined, Ben, a 17-year-old camper, hit two pieces of flint and steel together. Drowning out the sound of other campers, it was just him, the woods and the rhythm of rock hitting metal.On his fifth hit, he barely missed the steel rod, landing the flint on his finger and cutting a small slit. He calmly wiped away a spot of blood... more
The new ninjas
As the final day closed on his Game Builders’ Club camp, Desi, a 7-year-old Code Ninjas camper, quickly added one more graphic to his Cat in the City game.He raised his hand, ready to share what he had been working on all week. When he presented his game to the other campers, they oohed and aahed in excitement as the cat moved on... more
Twins are a blessing. Double the joy. Twice the love.That’s what everyone says, anyhow. But let me be honest: It took me a while to get to that point.Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mom. I even daydreamed about the possibility of having twins one day (Ashleigh and Alyssa). My mom used to say, “Twins don’t run in our... more
Local date-night steals!
Kids can take a toll on a marriage. And that makes time to really connect — and be away from the kids — extremely important.But is Valentine’s Day the best time to do that? We think … not. Restaurants are busy (if not booked) and menus are often fixed price / prix fixe — and pricier.We recommend you check out these date nights that won’t... more
Childcare: Connected
“Hi, buddy! Mommy’s back!”I say to my 4-month-old as I scoop him up from the playmat at daycare. It’s been a solid eight hours since I kissed his rosy cheeks goodbye, but I already know so much about his day: I know he pooped at 10:35 a.m. (whew!), drained three 6-ounce bottles (growing boy!) and took two naps (9:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.... more
A toxic mix for kids
Ever since it was discovered that salt could prevent meat from spoiling, humans have worked to create new methods of preserving, packaging and even transforming food. As a result, the foods we consume today contain a dizzying array of additives — from the artificial dyes and flavorings used to make food look and taste a certain... more
Usually the dread that comes from your kid having strep throat is the extra-long Q-Tip swirl around the throat and tonsils — and its inevitable gag (and subsequent tears). But if the culture pops up positive, you get a quick antibiotics prescription and your child is good as new in a matter of days. Case closed, right? ... more
Hats on!
A hat that’s fun and functional can do more than keep your kid warm: It can encourage a spirit of playfulness! There’s something about a knit cap topped with a big pom that conveys the whimsy and delight of a romp through the snow, beckoning you to “frolic and play the Eskimo way.” Here are five of my faves, all tested by our family... more
A mom's guide to Disney
It’s happening. You’ve made the declaration and (you think) you’re ready: Kids, we’re going to Disney World!Then it hits you: After the euphoria of the Disney announcement subsides, the daunting task of planning looms ahead. When it comes to Disney, there’s no shortage of information, friendly advice and must-do recommendations.... more
Swim city!
If Hawaii, Disney and even Minnesota’s North Shore are out of the question for you budget-wise, why not scale back a bit — but still have serious kid fun — with a Twin Cities water park staycation?You’ll spend less on travel. And we’ve found some pretty sweet rates on local winter rooms!After all, sometimes the best part of... more
Project: Fun!
Help your kids discover their inner maker with these crafty gifts — just the thing for icy-cold snow days!Dodoland Dragon Kit$9.99 | 6 and upWhy we love it: A lot of the cardboard crafts on the market leave you with less-than-sturdy items that could go directly into the recycle bin. This little guy, named Eugy, is part of a series of... more
Play on!
We tested so many amazing new games this year! These were the kids’ top picks, but keep an eye out in our future issues for the many runners-up.Tumball$24.95 | 5 and upWhy we love it: It’s like Jenga, but more colorful and spherical — and less catastrophic. You start with a bundle of colorful balls suspended by multiple hooks. Then each... more
Santa’s little helpers
Tell Santa to skip some of the bags of candy this year and consider these little gems as stocking stuffers!Beaker Creatures $9.99 | 5 and upWhy we love it: Our home testers loved this pseudo-science line of collectibles that lets kids unearth creatures from “reactor pods” using water, which triggers a colorful bubbling reaction.... more
The best new toys!
Call off the search for holiday gifts for the kids! It's time for our annual round-up of the best new toys, curated as part of our annual Toy Test.This year we brought in 125 of the hottest new playthings — and painstakingly narrowed our final list down to 60 gift ideas for ages infant and up, including special categories for games,... more
Language lessons
“Look at the firemen!” a father says to his son, pointing toward a parking lot, where our local fire station is having an open house. Sirens blare and children squeal as they climb colossal trucks and hoist heavy turnout gear onto their tiny bodies.The man’s son, maybe 4 years old, leaps into the air.“I wanna see the firemen!”... more
A road map for reading
Many parents believe that learning to read is a natural process, as inherently human as learning to talk.If you simply read to your child daily from birth to pre-K, teach your child her letters and expose her to oodles of books, she’ll pick up enough reading readiness for kindergarten.Unfortunately, science begs to differ. According... more
Creating community
Choosing child care is an important decision for many families. Parents want to know their children will be well taken care of by qualified people in a safe environment, ideally in close proximity to home or work. These days, they’re also looking for top-quality early childhood education programming. After all, experts say the years... more
MEA day camps and events for 2018
Every year, MEA Days sneak up on parents. October comes and they scramble to find something for their kids to do. Plan ahead this year! There are plenty of Minnesota institutions offering fun stuff for kids. Here is a sample:Full-day campsApple Valley Minnesota Zoo Grades: 1–3 and 4–6Cost: $55 per day for non-members, $45 per... more
A new NICU app
For expecting parents, the months leading up to the birth of a child provide time to plan and prepare. But when all that planning and preparation is thrown off course unexpectedly, parents can be left in a world that’s difficult to navigate.Denise Zahui Gboignon knows that world well.At just 24 weeks pregnant, Gboignon went into... more
Affording adoption
By the time she reached her sophomore year of college, Anna Guntlisbergen knew she was destined to one day become an adoptive parent.While volunteering in Uganda, she fell in love with the country as well as its orphaned children, most recently estimated at 2.5 million, including 1 million orphaned by AIDS. In fact, she formed... more
The IUD is back (and better)
In 1960, a prescription drug designed to suppress ovulation and inhibit conception — widely known and universally referred to as The Pill — liberated a generation of women, allowing them to take control of their sexual health for the very first time in history. If you came of age in the ’80s or ’90s, your provider likely floated The... more
A life within a life
In 1955, my grandma found herself pregnant for the third time. She was a 26-year-old redhead, chasing two young boys and, unbeknownst to her, expecting her first daughter — my mom. What blows my mind is this: I too started my life inside my grandma. The egg that eventually became me was originally contained inside my mother’s... more
The gift of failure
WHAT IF J.K. ROWLING HAD GIVEN UP AFTER HER 10TH TRY? Imagine a world without Harry Potter’s magic. And yet it took more than a dozen publisher rejections, or “failures,” before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published. Years later, the Potter franchise has raked in more than $7.7 billion dollars. Some failure!... more
There's no place like cone
What’s happening to the local ice cream scene?It’s positively exploding with color, creativity, innovation, multi-cultural influences and increasing indulgence, too.Today in the Twin Cities you can find ice cream that’s rolled (Thai style), scooped into a house-made tie-dye cone, presented in flights, sprinkled with edible... more
Top taprooms!
Until recently, Twin Cities parents had a choice: Hire a babysitter and go out for a drink or grab a six-pack and head home.Dragging the kids along to the corner bar was seldom seen as a good decision.But with the recent explosion of spacious, family-friendly breweries and taprooms, parents suddenly have an... more
In the age of apps, call me a brontosaurus. I can’t live without my planner. I make All the Lists with monthly/weekly views, note pages and stickers. My inner 8-year-old: Thrilled. Adult self: Organized. August–to–August formats are for sale now. — Katie Dohman$20–$32 • more
Beyond 'the talk'
It was my husband’s turn to drive. We were on our way back from mountain biking in Duluth, and our two sons were conked out in the backseat. As quiet settled over the car, I flicked on my phone to The New York Times, pinging out the headline Mothers Defend Sons Accused of Sexual Assault. The mothers had sons whose... more
The thrill of the hunt
Summer is finally here! With the sun shining and my three boys eager for outdoor excitement, my family is gearing up for our new favorite activity — geocaching! While we love to visit waterparks and day camps in summer, I’m a mama who’s determined to maintain the family budget while also keeping the inevitable “I’m bored”... more
You pick!
Spring is finally here! And summer is days away. And that means it’s time for U-pick strawberry season! Last year, we went to Afton Apple Orchard in Hastings, where we usually pick apples in the fall. Maria, our oldest, proved to be an industrious little picker and was quite proud of her basket. Jane was obsessed with the goats... more
Peer insights
Lindsey Gorski’s shopping trips are frequently interrupted by middle schoolers coming up to say hi to her 14-year-old daughter, Kiley. “She has more friends than I do, and I’ve lived here my whole life,” the Edina mom said. It’s a scene you’d expect for a lovable, social eighth-grader like Kiley — except that she is non-... more
Diagnosis: Gifted
Elliott Tanner looks like your average 9-year-old kid. He’s tall and gangly, with long brown hair and wide brown eyes. He smiles easily and loves talking to people. If you met him on the street, you might be struck by how easily he can carry on a conversation, but you might not guess he attends a local community college. “My... more
Embracing different
It’s a situation that happens almost inevitably in every family, including mine:You’re at the grocery store with your 3-year-old when, with a fully outstretched arm, he points his finger at the man picking up milk across the aisle and says (at top volume), “That guy is in a wheelchair!”It’s embarrassing. And you have absolutely no idea... more
Dog, meet baby
For onlookers and people passing by, it may have been an awkward sight. But for Anna Berowski and Meghan Davitt, it was all part of their plan.In the months before their twin girls were born, the couple would walk their dog, Avery, along the sidewalks of their Minneapolis neighborhood while also pushing a stroller — an empty... more
Ready for reflux
When expectant parents envision feeding their newborn child, they likely picture cozy moments of bonding with a sleepy, content infant. Nowhere in their minds is a picture of a scarlet-faced baby, screaming in agony, who refuses to eat. And yet this can be the brutal reality for parents of a baby with reflux. Whether you’re a... more
Doula decision
Only a decade ago, many new parents still asked, “What’s a doula?” Today, the decision to hire a doula (or not) is as commonplace as the decision to register for a floor gym, a bouncy seat, a Mobi wrap or an Ergo carrier. The thing is, you can’t just pick up a doula at Babies R Us!Where do you find a doula? And — more... more
Packing for camp!
“Mom. You forgot to pack extra socks,” my 10-year-old son said accusingly after we picked him up from a weeklong overnight camp.Socks, I mused, mentally searching through the gear I’d packed over a week ago.I remembered making an extra trip to the store for the hiking socks requested on the camp list. Had I... more
Open to all
The Blake School — a private, nonsectarian school — serves about 1,400 pre-K through 12th-grade students across its campuses in Minneapolis, Hopkins and Wayzata during the school year.But did you know that the school is open to all — not just Blake students — for special camp programming known as ... more
Clutch power
On an unusually cool August morning at Northeast Middle School, Room B114 was buzzing with excitement as Snapology campers prepared for another day of LEGO stop-motion filming.Fourteen-year-old Anya and 9-year-old Presley pulled out a large jungle-scene backdrop filled with vibrant trees and fluffy... more
Immersed in Spanish
Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in the United States, and educators are taking note.Studies have shown that learning a second language is easier for children ages 5 and younger, and Spanish-immersion primary schools — as well as preschools — have been sprouting up all over the country,... more
Bump, set, spike!
The expansive volleyball gym at Bethel University in St. Paul has four courts, track space around the perimeter for warming up and plenty of trolleys overflowing with gold and blue volleyballs — the perfect place to play volleyball and strengthen a relationship with God, according to Bethel volleyball camp... more
Great heights
At Camp of Champs — seven miles north of Park Rapids, Minn. — campers are challenged to break out of their comfort zones.And for many kids here, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than standing on a platform 35 feet off the ground.Indeed, trying out the camp’s challenge course (an impressive high and low ropes course... more
Stage right
A jaunty piano accompaniment played as a group of student performers emphatically sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game.Kids’ voices flooded the room and infectious laughter spilled out of their classmates, who wiggled in their seats with anticipation.Choreographer Johanna Gorman-Baer guided the kids around... more
Animal camp!
The Animal Humane Society has opened its doors to animals in need since 2007, when three Minnesota shelters merged to create the nonprofit, independent organization.In 2017, the Animal Humane Society’s five locations — Coon Rapids, Golden Valley, St. Paul, Woodbury and Buffalo (which closed in November) — successfully placed 96 percent... more
How to enjoy winter
This is the sixth year I’ve been a mother in the dead of winter — and the first year that I am not going to let it ruin me.As I reflect on my childhood, I don’t remember disliking winter, but rather enjoying each season as it came and went. Experiences and traditions, the warmth of the indoors, cookies baking, hearty, filling breakfasts... more
A look inside Great Wolf Lodge
Many Twin Cities parents are wondering: What’s the difference between the old Water Park of America and the new Great Wolf Lodge resort that took its place in Bloomington across the way from the Mall of America?Waterpark: Well, when it comes to the bones of the 75,000-square-foot waterpark, it’s actually very similar with pretty much the... more
Choosing childcare
Finding childcare is just plain hard.There’s so much to consider: What type of childcare setting do you want — a daycare center, a nanny or in-home childcare provider? Then there’s how much you can spend, the location, the caregiver-to-kid ratio, the ages of the kids, how well your child will fit in to the... more
Should you hire a nanny?
Dawn Janes-Bartley never planned on hiring a nanny for her son, Alex.Having his grandmothers take turns with childcare was working out just fine — until both planned to escape to warmer weather for the same two-month period.So she hired a nanny named Leah to cover the gap. And it worked out so well that... more
Healing power
On a cloudy November day, Kristenza Nelson drops bergamot and lavender essential oils into a diffuser, filling her East St. Paul home with a citrusy floral fragrance. “In Minnesota you spend so much time indoors, without the freshness of outside or a garden to dig in,” she said. “When you haven’t seen the sun for days, if you... more
Why bone health matters
For oral health, you bring your children to the dentist twice a year. For vision health, you see the eye doctor annually. For general health and growth progress reports, you schedule annual physicals and other checkups with the pediatrician. But have you ever thought about your kids’ bone health?If you’re like most parents, you... more
Ever present
It’s 11:55 on a Tuesday morning and Jennifer Gervais sits at the front of a class of second- and third-graders at Valley Crossing Elementary School in Woodbury. “When I say focus, you say focus,” she says.“Focus!” the group responds eagerly.“I have citrus this week,” she tells students while holding a small brown spray bottle filled... more
Flying with tots
Few things can cause more frustration and stress than flying with kids. The sheer logistics alone can drive any new parent batty. If you’re planning to travel this winter or spring, rejoice: Here are answers to the top questions surrounding air travel with babies and toddlers. Do we need to buy my child a ticket?If your child is... more
Destination: Africa!
There was no way that I could spend thousands of dollars entirely on myself, abandon my family and jet off to Africa to trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. Who does that? Me? Absolutely not. I mean, my husband, Kelly, and I work very hard and have some disposable cash, yes. But everything extra goes into two college savings accounts that we... more
Get crafty
Marbleocity Mini Skate Park$29.95 | 9 and upWhy we love it: It’s not every day you find a model-building toy that includes laser-cut birch wood parts, metal marbles and axles AND a graphic novel to guide you through assembly. Our 9-year-old tester was excited and engaged for the entire two-hour assembly, which included lessons in... more
Stocking stuffers!
Baby’s First Phone$9.99 | 18 months and upWhy we love it: We can’t promise Baby won’t still want to hold your phone, but this wooden creation from HABA includes a jingle bell, three push buttons and a screen that rotates — with a cute bear face on one side and a mirror on the other. #babyselfies  Where to buy: HABAusa.comCoggy$14.95... more
Get your game on!
Leaps and Ledges $29.95 | 8 and upWhy we love it: Setting up this game — a nearly 3-foot-tall tower of 15 colorful pieces — was almost as fun as playing it. Game play was basically Trouble without a popper. And instead of moving your pawns around in a circle, you race to the top of the tower (and can send players back down... more
The best new toys!
Gymotion Robo Playland$74.95 | birth and upWhy we love it: Lots of floor gyms for babies are supposed to fold up and store easily. But this one actually does — with no twisting or acrobatics on the parents’ part. We liked the totally mod color scheme and patterns as well as the high-quality, drool-resistant toys with crinkle-fabric... more
Which lip color is best?
For me, lipstick has always been so fun. I love trying different colors and brands – it’s such an easy way to completely change your mood and look for the day. The only thing I don’t like about lip color is how it transfers onto other things — your food, your loved ones, the rest of your face. In a totally selfless act, I’ve decided... more
What’s your role?
When it comes to education in the U.S., teachers lead the way in molding young minds.But it’s a huge job. One might argue it’s actually too much for teachers to do alone. After all, learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings. And support at home can make a big difference in a child’s educational experience. How exactly... more
Life with more recess
We’re five minutes late for recess. It’s pretty typical. My lesson ran over because there’s always just one more student to check in with: One was struggling; one was bored because he finished early. During school days, I often feel like a carnival man, spinning plates on every part of my body, hoping none of them crash to the... more
The art of urban idyll
Looking for places in town that feel a bit removed from the crowds of the metro area, but are well within city limits? When you’ve hit your limit on trips to apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, check out these local gems.Go off road at Cedar Lake If you’ve walked the paved paths around Cedar Lake — or created a loop... more
How to be an upstander
Has bullying become our new normal? Many parents and educators have anecdotal evidence that bullying has been on the rise, and experts point to disturbing statistics: More than one out of every five students say they’ve been bullied, according to 2016 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. But here’s a ray of... more
B-Buddies bring comfort after loss
Have you or someone you know experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth or lost a newborn infant? Chances are you know someone who has endured this heartbreaking experience.1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage (loss before 20 weeks gestation) and 1 in 160 end in stillbirth(loss after 20 weeks gestation). Our son Bryson was our fourth... more
A moment in time
We go to great lengths to photograph life’s big moments — those first smiles and steps, all the birthdays, the start of each school year, graduation day, wedding vows. So why wouldn’t we capture the very first one, the beginning of it all? Yes, birth photography may seem like an act of exhibitionism to some — a cruel-and-... more
A rainbow of hope
Meghan Marrinan Feliciano was due to give birth to her third child, a daughter named Sybil, in July 2016. The pregnancy went smoothly, the baby reached full term and the hospital bags were packed. She and her husband, Garrett, thought the early stages of labor had begun, but instead they received the devastating news that their baby... more
Think outside the crib
Amanda Lindquist can see that her 2-month-old son, Jacob, is getting tired — yawning, fluttering his eyelids, rubbing his eyes. After he falls asleep her arms, she doesn’t move him to a crib. Rather, she reaches for a box tucked beside the couch. She lays him down inside its four cozy cardboard walls where he rests soundly for... more
Bribe or bust?
When we asked Minneapolis mamas, “Do you bribe your kids for certain behaviors?” — the confessions flowed like red wine on a Mama’s Night Out. The answer was a resounding yes! with all sorts of bribery booty involved, ranging from single M&Ms — given out one at time — to straight-up cash. You’ll find no judgment here. We’ve... more
Best in class
Wondering which backpack to get for your kid’s preschool or kindergarten debut? We recommend you skip the Minions and Princess Poppy rucksacks — and opt for one of these awesome options, chosen for their long-term durability, comfort/ergonomics and enduring designs (guaranteed to outlast your child’s latest cartoon-character... more
Your amazing preschooler
Do you ever wonder how preschool teachers get 18 children (or more) from their classrooms to the playground, when you struggle to get your one child out the door in the morning? Wonder no more: Local teachers-turned-authors Deb Ellsworth and Tina Charney are letting you in on the tricks of the trade.Their new book, Your Amazing... more
Bracing for braces?
Q: When do kids need to start seeing an orthodontist?A: Although most kids aren’t ready for orthodontics until middle school, it’s a good idea to have children evaluated early. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all kids receive a check-up with an orthodontic specialist by no later than age 7. By this age,... more
Beat the heat!
Photo by Tracy WalshSplish splashThe Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the... more
Beyond 2
When it comes to adding another child to your family — and perhaps taking the plunge to go beyond two kids — how do parents decide? Even more important, how do parents make their bigger families work? Forty-eight percent of Americans believe two children is the ideal number of children to have, according to a 2013 Pew Research... more
Work–life balancing act
Is the term “work-life balance” the ultimate oxymoron of our times? Many of us struggle with the challenge of remaining fully engaged in the all-important work of raising one (or more) decent human beings, while also being a fully dedicated and productive worker. And for those who work from home (which is, face it, all of us at... more
Ready, set, wet!
Often when we think of rainy days, we picture time spent indoors — reading, building pillow forts and watching movies — desperately concocting ways to ward off boredom and help our kids expel astronomical levels of energy (without entirely wearing us out). But why miss out on all that wet, muddy fun? Rainy days are ripe with... more
Born to explore
It seems like everyone has the travel bug lately. Even parents — a more traditionally tied-down crowd — are doing round-the-world travel. And they’re even bringing their kids, if their many Facebook photos are to be believed.But — as exciting as Iceland sounds and as enticing as Jamaica may be — large-scale travel isn... more
Confessions of a coach-mom
Some of us end up coaching youth sports because we have a passion for the sport of choice. Some of us think it sounds like a really cool way to spend more time with our kid — or we get roped in by a fellow parent. And many us naively check the box that comes up during online registration that says, “Feel free to contact me about... more
A different kind of parenting journey
Wendell Sherman-Strand, 5, of Minneapolis — who vacationed out West with his family of five this past summer — has an extremely rare genetic condition.Wendell was born in 2011 as a healthy baby. After his two-month checkup, his parents Katie Sherman and John Strand headed to northern Minnesota with their toddler, Bjorn, and infant... more
We can do better
During my daughter’s last hospital stay, I received a tube, a bottle and a few jars of luxury hand cream — lavender-, grapefruit- and musk-scented emollients, in fancy, flowery packaging. It’s a thing. When people want to be supportive during a difficult time, they give you something that smells pretty. I knew about the casseroles,... more
Jack’s Basket
First there was the emergency C-section, a sudden and traumatic experience on its own. Then they found out their son was born, much to their surprise, with Down syndrome. They were filled with many different emotions at first, including shock, not knowing how to process the diagnosis. But life went on. And they fell in... more
Easier than you'd think
Wondering about your child’s development is an everyday part of parenting. Is your daughter talking as much as other children her age? Is your son walking or moving around like his friends?It’s common for parents to compare their children to others. But it can be difficult to understand what might be a developmental concern and what... more
Pure magic
Gina Matter was a kid when she fell in love with the story of Harry Potter. She discovered the books by J.K. Rowling when she was a struggling reader. Her mother started reading the stories aloud to her before bed.“The series captivated me so much, I began to pick up the books and continue on without her,” Matter said.Today Matter... more
Cozy up!
Looking down at my newborn boy, whose slow, rhythmic sucking matched the metronome of my heartbeat, I felt tears forming at the corner of my eye. But these weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of pain. My neck, my back, my shoulders — everything — felt stiff, sore and tense. As much as I wanted to relax, I simply couldn’t.... more
Baby name game
Here I am, 37 weeks pregnant, asking to generate sister names for Maria and Jane, my two daughters. Three come up on the lists for both girls: Elizabeth, Anna and Sarah. For a moment, I feel something loosen in me, a surrender: OK, we’ll just use one of these. We’ll let the experts decide for us. Only... more
Getting social
Social skills can be hard to master for anyone, and the unwritten rules that prescribe them in our fast-paced culture can be all too easy to miss for some children. Where should I sit in the cafeteria? What do I do when I get into a fight with one of my friends? What happens when no one seems to be interested in the same things I am... more
House of art
Sometimes art is all about the hype.Seven-year-old Cameron seemed to agree as he half-jokingly said, “I’m so scared, I’m so scared,” as he prepared to roll up a flat slab of clay to complete the main structure of his fairy house. After the two edges made contact, he beamed a relieved, triumphant smile. “I did it!” he exclaimed... more
Making it work
When it comes to engaging kids in STEM concepts, ping pong balls — flying through the air at unpredictable speeds — can be an excellent place to start.That appears to be the case, at least, at The Works Museum in Bloomington, which offers a diverse array of educational summer day camps for ages 4 to 12.Here engineering and design... more
Day trip!
“It’s a ’60s party from a ’60s movie!” yelled a group of YMCA Day Camp Manitou counselors. “See the surfers on their surfboards? Da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, da-na-na-na-na-na-na-na!” Hundreds of day campers — from the “wee backpackers” at age 4 to high schoolers volunteering as junior counselors — echoed back the tune, mimicking a... more
Set sail for summer
Sailing instructor Madison Hobbs had a clear view of all her beginning sailors, working in teams of three to balance and maneuver their 8-foot training vessels, powered only by the steady winds coming off Lake Calhoun.In one boat, kids chatted excitedly, working to angle their sail just right, trying not to tip over. In another, two... more
Clickin' kids
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture... more
Little Day Camp on the Prairie
For my best friend and me, growing up in the ’90s, it wasn’t enough for us to just read about Kirsten Larson, the American Girl, and Little House on the Prairie books. We wanted to live it! So, in the summers, we dressed up in calico dresses and checkered sunbonnets sewn by our mothers and headed to camp at Minnesota Pioneer... more
Precious cargo
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black... more
The power of play
Take a trip back in time to your childhood and think about how you loved to spend your days.Many of us can remember joyful, uninterrupted hours of play — whether it was spent building LEGO creations, constructing a fort in the woods or dreaming up imaginary worlds for our dolls. Flash forward to today’s jam-packed schedules,... more
The art of the daycare drop-off
Early mornings, sleep-deprived parents, a time crunch and, of course, emotional youngsters, desperate for their parents’ attention. It’s the perfect storm for catastrophe. And yet, that’s when one of the toughest parts of the day looms — the dreaded daycare drop-off. Day after day, we peel away our sobbing offspring and we’re... more
Detox your cleaning routine
Each year, 250,000 children in the U.S. are treated for exposure to cleaning products at home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.Finding alternatives to harsh, potentially harmful cleaning agents is one way to protect children from accidental poisonings.Fortunately, non-toxic cleaning products can be just as effective and... more
Spin this!
Are you looking for some children’s music that won’t drive you crazy? Check out the latest albums from an array of children’s artists who all offer — in their own ways — silliness to attract and engage kids, but also enough wry humor and up-tempo beats to charm their parents. Puns, jokes-so-bad-they’re-good, energetic rhythms... more
25 winter activities for toddlers
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand... more
Coping with anxiety
Last spring, just a few months shy of his 9th birthday, my otherwise healthy, active child began complaining of stomachaches. The first time he complained, I kept him home from school and fed him popsicles and crackers until lunchtime, by which point he had made a miraculous recovery. The week progressed as usual until Friday when... more
Don't let tech safety slip
The group of parents now raising tweens is the last to grow up — basically — without the Internet. The good news is that, having received our first email addresses on dinosaur systems as college students, we DO know how the web works. We all have Facebook (well almost all of us), plus most of its cousins. We’re hooked on... more
5 reasons to play board games with your kids
My parents taught my brother and me to play Monopoly and then spent the next five years finding excuses not to play the game. After all, it takes a lot of time and patience to play board games with children. They forget the rules, they may cry when they lose and sometimes they try to cheat. My brother was famous for hiding... more
Turn off the TV/tablet/phone/LeapFrog and play face to face with these 12 awesome, family-friendly games.Zoo on the LooseObjective: Lead five cuddly animal escapees on a playful adventure by following the directions on the cards. When the zookeeper card pops up, players must get the animals back in place as quickly as... more
The It Toy
Sometimes the toys children want the most are the very ones that cause parents uncertainty — not just about our budgets, but also our values. Items that top a kid’s wish list can present parents with a multitude of toy-buying dilemmas.It could be a doll that each of your child’s friends has, but comes with a hefty price tag. Or... more
Indoor play spaces in the Twin Cities!
Great places to bring your kids when the weather is cold and the wiggles need to get out!North Metro Alpine Factory, Arden HillsBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGrand Slam Family Fan Center, Coon RapidsMinisota Play Cafe, ChamplinMonkey House, White Bear LakeTropical Adventure, ... more
Kid-tested toys!
Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash Track Set$44.99 | ages 4 and upFew kids in our toy test could resist this mesmerizing set — a new-and-improved version of an older model from Hot Wheels. Even the veteran parents in the group agreed this toy would definitely be worth the space commitment — and the price. A single central booster (which... more
Jacob’s Hope
Editor’s note: Minnesota Parent asked Alison Feigh, program manager at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (and a former classmate of Jacob’s), to answer the question: “What can parents tell their kids in light of the recent news?” Here’s what she wrote.I would tell children that I wish I could have changed the ending of this story... more
How to grow a reader
“Lila is already reading!”“Jayden started reading when he was 3 years old.”“Jesse has been reading chapter books since kindergarten.”As a licensed reading specialist and the parent of a kindergartner, I can’t help but notice the push for children to start reading before kindergarten.What once was rare — and only for children who were... more
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month
Groves AcademyThis private St. Louis Park school, founded in 1972, offers specialized services for students in grades 1-12 diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or attention disorders.Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year ranges from $27,120 to $28,160. The Learning Center at Groves is open to the public and offers fee-based... more
Deciphering dyslexia
For young children with dyslexia, just opening a book can cause anxiety and a drop in self-esteem. The letters might jumble into a code nearly impossible to decipher, making reading slower and more demanding than it is for their classmates. And it’s not just reading and writing.Kids with dyslexia often struggle with spelling,... more
9 great pumpkin patches!
When it comes to fall family fun, it’s hard to beat a local pumpkin patch on a crisp, clear October day in Minnesota. Not only are our local farms glorious in autumn — with beautiful fields of U-pick pumpkins and golden mazes of rustling corn stalks — they’re also packed with other kid-friendly attractions, including hayrides,... more
Life with multiples!
Photo by Agape Moments Photography"Above all else, keep the babies on the SAME routine; once that’s accomplished, life is that much easier! And finally, ENJOY the small moments — the cuddles, smiles and first giggles."– Karen Kartman of Lino Lakes, mother of twins Aubrey and Lyla, pictured with big brother, Colby, 4, and Dad, Paul... more
MoMs tell all!
You aren’t imagining things. Twins are becoming more common — and have been for decades.In 2009, 1 in every 30 babies born in the United States was a twin, compared with 1 in every 53 babies in 1980, according to the CDC.Put another way, that’s more than 1 million more twins who wouldn’t have existed before the increase. ... more
Sleep savers for babies
Skip Hop Moonlight & Melodies Nightlight SootherThis adorable owl emits a warm glow from its belly while projecting a calming constellation of a moon and stars.Lull your little one to sleep with eight different melodies and nature $39.99Solly Baby WrapKeep baby cool and comfortable with this lightweight, super... more
The Golden Hour
Most women prepare for childbirth fervently. The Birth Plan has been en vogue for over a decade now and might include — among other things — the doula’s name, preferred interventions (if any), which Grandmas are allowed on the scene (if any) and where, precisely, the partner will be positioned (ahem) as the baby is crowning. ... more
5 tricky sleep habits
Newborns and young infants are supposed to sleep all the time. Right? (Cue the eye roll.)At least that’s what many parents-to-be are led to believe. However, many new moms and dads quickly learn that the adorable adage “sleeping like a baby” is highly misleading. Newborns and infants can be loud, wiggly, finicky little snoozers... more
Climb, build, crawl, splash, grow!
Do your kids like to play in the dirt? Build tree forts? Climb cliffs and careen through tunnels?If you’re nodding your head YES right now, you need to plan a trip to the newly updated Tamarack Nature Center, about 20 minutes north of St. Paul.Operated by Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, the center is located in a 320-acre preserve... more
Hitting the ground running
Adoption is a wonderful way to welcome a child into a family, rich with a unique set of joys and challenges.Though not initiated by pregnancy, labor and birth, the start of the parent-child relationship is a birth of sorts — the birth of a new life together.Toddler adoption is an entirely different situation — also filled with specific... more
The K question
 My son entered this world with his own agenda. It was Oct. 31, 2014, and I was just barely 34 weeks pregnant.I was at work at St. David’s Center, going about the regular busyness of my day as an education coordinator in our early childhood education program, when I went into labor.Being a natural life planner, I’d done... more
A food allergy? Now what?
Shortly after my oldest daughter turned 1, a friend reminded me that this particular milestone meant I could now let her eat peanut butter (the recommendation at the time).What a wonderful idea, I thought. And so one day I whipped up a PB&J for her lunch, she ate it and then she settled down for a nap.When she woke up about an hour... more
Twin Cities splash pads!
Need to cool off this summer? Take a tour of the area's top splash pads!NORTH METROAndrews Park Splash PadChamplin This splash pad features boat motifs (including sprayer masts), rings, water-table-like attractions for early walkers, flower showers, a sunshade and numerous benches and picnic tables, more
Summer rediscovered
It's hard not to hang on to traditions. Some traditions deserve to stick around — like having as much milk as you can handle at the dairy booth during The Great Minnesota Get Together.Others might need a change of pace.In fact, it’s easy to get into a parenting rut: If something is successful and fun, common sense keeps you going back.... more
Tiny little life
Take a walk through any craft or garden store and you’ll see them — miniature houses, teeny-tiny plants and dollhouse-sized outdoor furniture for making the newest craze in gardening: Fairy gardens!Children’s imaginations are well suited to this crafty activity. A pile of small rocks and pebbles becomes a walkway. A few sticks make... more
Off the beaten path
 The Twin Cities is home to a vast array of green spaces, including a fantastic mix of small neighborhood parks, many phenomenal regional parks and even a variety of educational farms nestled into urban areas. With so many choices, it’s easy to miss some of the metro’s lesser-known natural areas. If you’re looking for a... more
Pick your own!
There are more than 60 U-pick or pick-your-own farms in the greater Twin Cities area — and that includes farms with fresh berries!Minnesota strawberry season usually begins in early to mid-June, followed by raspberries and blueberries — beloved fruits for kids of all ages — in July and August. (See for a complete list... more
Carry on, hiking warrior
What exactly is a baby-carrying backpack?Well, it’s basically a framed hiking backpack with a built-in area — called the “cockpit” — to hold your baby or toddler.Backpack carriers are a great way for the whole family to experience adventures together — both on hiking trails in the woods as well as around town (at the zoo, farmer’s market... more
Selling with kids?
Prepping and maintaining your home for sale, especially when you have kids, can be an extremely stressful and seemingly impossible task.Every day is a battle to keep the house tidy — and days with scheduled showings are the most difficult. I recently sold my house with two kids (ages 2 and 4), so I can attest to the difficulty of... more
Involving kids in patriotism
When most of us think of the 4th of July (Independence Day) and Memorial Day, the common ideas that spring to mind include — days off work, family camping, parades, BBQs and fireworks.Ideally, though, the first idea we should think of is our nation’s freedoms and the people who work to protect those freedoms and us.Teaching your children... more
Man’s best friend. A house is not a home without a cat. Honk if you love ferrets. Pet enthusiasts consider their furry and scaly friends to be part of the family. Of course, there are also humans who prefer household members be limited to those on two 10-toed feet. But, as parents, both the animal lovers and the animal shy, we all... more
Go global at home!
Even if you have no budget, vacation time or even patience for international travel with your little ones, you can enjoy a rich array of multicultural experiences right here in Minnesota — often for free.Wee Wednesdays For little ones age 5 and younger accompanied by their caregivers, Midtown Global Market offers educational events... more
Oh, the places you'll go!
Our family vacation was off to a pretty good start. We were chanting:Seuss is on the loose! Seuss is on the loose! Seuss is on the loose! All before we received our requisite tropical sunburns, island braids and Ron Jon T-shirts, we joined in this mantra with an enthusiastic group of fellow Carnival Cruise passengers,... more
Mocktails for mamas-to-be
Non-alcoholic beer Saying that any wine or beer is non-alcoholic is a bit of a misnomer, since both can sometimes contain trace amounts of alcohol. Beers typically contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) in the U.S., which means you’d have to drink nine O’Doul’s to equal even one regular beer. German-brewed... more
The long road home
Jennifer Schwertfeger, a Mankato mother of three daughters, knows the trauma of NICU — and beyond — all too well.Her second daughter, Grace, was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces. Early on in her pregnancy, Schwertfeger faced complications, including a torn placenta in her sixth week and a large blood clot attached to... more
Letters from the NICU
Feb. 8, 2009Hi Thomas. I’m your dad, Colin. Your mom, Rachel, and I are sitting with you in the NICU. You were born Feb. 5, 2009, at 7:07 p.m. Things have been hectic the last few days. You see, we weren’t expecting you for five more weeks. Unfortunately, your mom suddenly starting having some health issues that could have endangered... more
Labor of love
In many ways, our notion of pain during labor comes from cultural expectation, including basically every birth depicted in scripted TV. Mothers scream and sometimes become cartoonishly violent toward their spouses. It’s high drama.But for a growing number of women, even in the U.S., childbirth is viewed as an intense, but not... more
Minnesota unplugged
As she drove away from Star Lake Wilderness Camp for the first time, Michelle Hargrave worried she’d made a huge mistake. She’d dropped her son, Zane Coyle, then 10, off in the middle of the woods, under a tarp in the rain — about 2½ hours north of their Twin Cities home — at a primitive campground in northern Minnesota. Zane... more
Why a camp on a college campus?
Vonda White — a longtime insurance broker and now the founder of Camp Pillsbury — came to Minnesota in 2014.Her journey started about six years ago when she was living in Florida and looking for summer activities for her three kids. She wanted something to further their interests in the arts. Her administrative assistant suggested a... more
Facing cancer together
One of the very first activities at Camp Angel involves getting all of the campers to stand in a line.Campers are then asked to step forward when a leader calls out a characteristic that speaks to them. When prompted by their favorite foods, colors or animals, kids gradually start stepping forward in small groups.But it’s not until... more
Circus camp!
A girl who looks no more than 9 years old spins gracefully — 25 feet in the air — her small hands gripping strips of bright blue silk, hanging from the ceiling.A young boy leaps on a large trampoline, flying ever higher with each bounce.Another girl whizzes past on a unicycle, leaning into a turn with an arm out for balance. Nearby... more
Mix and match
Camp Pillsbury is not your typical woodsy, lakeside summer camp. It’s not remote, secluded or even a little bit rustic. Instead of cabins, Camp Pillsbury lodging is comprised of dormitories on a beautiful 20-acre campus in the city of Owatonna, population 25,000, 65 miles south of the Twin Cities. Held at the former... more
Family camp
Nestled along the wooded shores of Turtle River Lake, about 12 miles northeast of Bemidji, Concordia Language Villages is a tranquil setting for a Minnesota camp. But as soon as visitors arrive at the 875-acre property, they quickly find they’re no longer in Minnesota. At Concordia Language Villages, villagers (not campers... more
This camp is hands on!
When you open the catchall junk drawer in your home, what do you see?A mess? Clutter? Trash?How about the makings of an amazing art project, a super-cool robot or all the necessary ingredients for a never-seen-before science experiment?Kids in Leonardo’s Basement summer classes are encouraged to see the latter. They’re urged to use their... more
Sports sampler
Many parents know all too well the answer they’ll get if they ask their child what he or she did on any given day: “Nothing.” But after a day at a Revolutionary Sports summer camp, that answer might get a bit more interesting.It might go something like: “Soccer, basketball, cricket, Frisbee, lacrosse, handball AND tennis!” At... more
Switching up
You’ve moved across country — or even just across town — or changed jobs, and now the childcare program your kid’s been enjoying (practically since birth) has become inconvenient or just plain impossible. Maybe you’re just not happy with the care your child’s getting, and it’s time to make a change. No matter why you’re making... more
The D word
Divorce is like a death, in a sense. The death of your — however misguided — picture-book fantasy, the death of living under one roof — always — with your intact family, the death of “’til death do us part.”When you’re a parent, the grieving process is open-ended. You can’t walk away. You can’t say goodbye. You and your... more
9 sensory-friendly outings
Pump It Up The Plymouth and Eden Prairie locations of this popular chain of indoor bouncy-house warehouses offer sensory-friendly open-jump sessions every month. During this time, lights are dimmed and the music is turned off.When: 6–7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in Plymouth and 6–8 p.m. Feb. 16 in Eden Prairie. Call ahead or check each location’s... more
Facing the mental-health monster
Without hesitation, you’d take your child to the emergency room for a broken arm, the dentist for a cavity, the pediatrician for a sore throat.But what do you do when your child suffers the death of a loved one, bullying at school or low self-esteem? What happens when you learn that your child is hurting other kids at day care,... more
Autism: Don't wait and see
Gabriel is a bright, adorable 5-year-old. He runs around the park, playing on the equipment, occasionally checking in with his mom, even trying, when urged, to include his 3-year-old sister, Cecilia, in the park’s cool climbing structure. “It’s his favorite,” said his mom, Tara Baker of Eagan.Things weren’t always this carefree for... more
Cold, snow and ice — oh, my!
There are few things as magical as experiencing falling snow through a child’s eyes — and Minnesota winters (usually) give us many opportunities to enjoy plenty of snowflakes. And that’s a good thing: It’s important for families to get outside and remain active during winter months. The more active kids are, the healthier they’ll be... more
Inspired giving
When it comes to cultivating good kid habits — reading every day, saying please (and thank you) and cleaning up your own messes — it’s really never too young to get started. Now add to that list the habit of kindness: Researchers have found that caring and compassion skills can be practiced and, like a muscle, get stronger with use... more
Apps for families
Many parents today have made a habit of feeling guilty about the hours of screen time their kids are exposed to every day.But it’s not just entertainment that our electronics are providing.In fact, devices — an average of more than five per household in the U.S., according to a report from Ericsson — are increasingly being used for... more
5 cool games for kids
Today’s games and puzzles are so well-designed — and in tune with kids’ and parents’ needs — they seem to play more like toys! And that’s making more and more of our playtime downright educational. Check out these awesome games (including a local favorite) for stocking stuffers and more!  Cat StaxWhy we love it: This game’s... more
Larger than life
If you’re looking for something extra-special for your kid’s room, we have just the thing: Local woodworker Gary Moore is making toy boxes that look like LEGO bricks (sold as OGEL toy boxes) as well as shelving-storage units designed to look like giant Etch A Sketches (sold as Stretch-A-Sketches).Moore, who hails from Cardiff, Wales... more
Getting off the toy-go-round
In the closet, on the shelf, under the bed, even underfoot … there are toys. They’re everywhere! The stuff kids’ dreams are made of are the same objects that create endless nightmares for parents — picking up, cleaning, sorting, finding missing pieces. Toy curation in a multi-child household is a never-ending story. Then there’... more
Toys we love!
What do you get when you put 20 kids — age 1 to 10 — in a room full of brand-new toys? Our curious and cute testers, all Minnesota kids, found 30 great toy picks for holiday gift giving.Read on to find the full results to our annual Toy Test, including options for all ages, starting with toys for infants and on up to top picks for... more
Art games
You have one minute to engage your kids: It’s a Monday, you have to get the kids to school, and you’re only on your first cup of coffee. What can you do that will help them think better and not annoy you? Do an art activity. What, you may ask, is an “art activity?”It’s something that exposes kids to art. Why... more
Bilingual learning keeps growing
Mandarin. Hmong. Spanish. French. German. Korean. Ojibwe: No, these aren’t ethnic dining options — they’re Minnesota elementary-school language-immersion programs, and one of them may be the perfect choice for your soon-to-be kindergartener.Immersion education — in which all or most academic subjects are taught in a non-English... more
College-prep crash course
For so many parents, time is a hot commodity: You hurry home from work to pick up the kids at after-school care or sports, rush home to make dinner, then eat on the run while driving to another activity. Homework gets done on the fly and everyone goes to bed exhausted, only to repeat the routine again the next day. Life is busy... more
Theater for kids!
As a longtime educator, I know first-hand just how important literacy is to early childhood development. But when I became a mother, I felt overwhelming anxiety over how to weave these skills into our daughter’s life when she was little. When Ella was born, we read to her from day one, of course. But I still felt a... more
It's apple season!
Minnesota's apples are ripe and ready!And with more than 125 apple orchards open to the public across the state — including more than 20 near the metro area — that’s a beautiful thing.Local orchards cater to families with farms tours, petting zoos, hayrides, gift shops, apple-picking opportunities and apple treats of all sorts.And many... more
Losing Chloe
For the last five years I’ve struggled to find a label for myself. I like definitions for things. Labels are comforting and secure. I often feel if I could just find a word that describes the person I’ve become since losing my daughter I would somehow be able to own that title and act the way a whatever-the-word-is acts.... more
Minnesota nature centers
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl... more
Grandparents and you!
Who doesn’t love a room full of new toys? Parents. That’s who.Whether you’re an expecting parent, a new parent or are already knee-deep in diapers and Disney-princess dresses, there’s a surprising challenge that can sometimes arise: Grandparents.In most cases, Nana and Pop just want to share a little extra love with their... more
Blessed with love
“This is my favorite, favorite thing to do,” said doula Sarah Longacre, owner of Blooma, as she invited Minneapolis mom-to-be Mia Como to take the center seat in the circle of women gathered for her Mother Blessing. “It’s different than anything else we do at Blooma — and different than anything we do in the United States — to... more
Newborn photo safety
A newborn baby. Tiny fingers, perfect little nose, itty-bitty feet, fuzzy little hairs and that delicate, oh-so-soft skin. A newborn photography session truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to document all those tiny details. It’s the very beginning of your child’s story, and she’ll never look the way she does right now, during... more
Milk sharing in Minneapolis
When Betsy Batista found out she had cancer in 2014, the diagnosis was especially difficult as it meant she had to stop breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter so that she could undergo chemotherapy. “I was devastated,” the St. Louis Park mom said. That’s when Batista’s doula told her about the possibility of donated milk:... more
Test stress
Aimee Jackson of St. Louis Park remembers exactly when school stopped being fun for her son. “It was right around third grade when he started getting testing anxiety,” she said. “He had taken standardized tests earlier, but it seemed like in third grade the teachers started emphasizing test prep and test day directly to the kids.”... more
Cinema under the stars
Summer’s slipping away. Instead of pool noodles, coolers and grilling gear filling the seasonal aisles at Target, it’s back-to-school supplies everywhere you turn.Bleah.But, wait: Once you’ve stocked up on Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils, there’s still time to savor this unbelievably beautiful (and precious) season we call summer in... more
Party on, Twin Cities!
AMUSEMENTSRainbow Play Systems showroom, Bloomington — Sarah Fejfar, Mendota HeightsGrand Slam, Burnsville — Kelly Marsh, Prior LakePump It Up — Jenny MacCourt, PlymouthBrunswick Zone. Very organized and I just sat back. Everything was taken care of! — Shauna Coble, Saint FrancisMemory Lanes, Minneapolis —... more
The family meal
IT WAS A DARK, COLD, MINNESOTA NIGHT. My mom was visiting from Wisconsin, and we were working in the kitchen, preparing supper. Looking at the clock, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten about my 4-year-old’s dance class, which was about to start. My heart rate jumped as I zipped around getting her bag ready and telling her we needed... more
Digging in
If you’re looking for something cool (really cool) to do for your kid’s birthday party this year — and if your kid’s really into trucks and other big vehicles, then you might take a look at the new venture that is Extreme Sandbox.This family-run business in Hastings takes the touch-a-truck experience to a whole new level.Extreme Sandbox... more
Minion madness
Need to throw a Minions-themed party on a budget? No problem. Check out these games and crafts. You just need a little planning (and some time to buy supplies) and you'll be on your way! flying minionDecorate a yellow Solo cup with a minion face. Make a hole in the bottom of the cup and place it on a string hung horizontally... more
Running after having babies
Running has always been therapeutic for me. I’ve been a runner for more than 20 years — and the lead therapist for the Health Partners Regions Hospital Running Program for the past eight.So when I became pregnant for the first time, I wanted to be able to continue running as much as my body allowed.After a successful delivery, I was... more
Summer safety 101
Summer activities in Minnesota are terrific for helping children enjoy exercise as well as develop social skills. As with any physical activity, however, there’s a risk of injuries. Ever year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for playground injuries. As an orthopedic surgeon in Minnesota, I see a... more
Work out as a family
Before I had kids, people warned me that “they” watch everything you do. I didn’t quite believe it until I had my two girls. Fast forward nine years later and I have two sets of feet following me everywhere — in the bathroom, when I’m in the shower, when I’m on the phone and, of course, while I’m watching my favorite... more
Six sweet scoops
Is there anything better than sitting outside with an ice cream cone on a hot summer day? This ritual gives us a moment to pause, to stop and smell the lady slippers, to perhaps reclaim some unplugged family time, to look back on our own good old days of summer.We don’t go out for ice cream to sustain the... more
All about birds
As soon as the school day lets out, 14 students at Burroughs Community School in Southwest Minneapolis run from their classrooms to the schoolyard and collectively drop their backpacks.After a quick snack, they rush to strap on their binoculars and start looking outward and upward. "Bird! Look there's a bird!" they shout.One parent... more
Tell Me a Story in the Dark
It’s bedtime plus 30 minutes, and the Essence of Sweetness, the Center of the Known Universe — for now, let’s call her Natalie — is drawing a line in the proverbial sand:“I’m not tired. It isn’t even dark. I can hear kids playing outside. No fair!”“Natalie, you should have been in bed a half hour ago.”“I’m not going to bed.” ... more
25 great get-outside ideas
You look outside. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Sunlight is pouring into the house. But your kids don’t like the sunlight, they say: It’s causing screen glare and interrupting their cartoon videos, their Clash of Clans, their Monster Legends, their Minecraft.This is your cue.Send them outside. (No, you won’t be playing with them. No... more
Top 10 date nights
Sometimes, in order to put our best parenting foot forward, we need to engage in a little self-care. Care for the romantic relationship, in particular, is often overlooked and goes a long way in terms of refreshing parental energy and creating a family environment that’s both happy and connected.Here are 10 Twin Cities date-night... more
Single moms by choice
In American culture — and beyond — there’s an expectation that marriage comes before motherhood.There’s also a stereotype that single mothers are the result of unwanted or unintended pregnancies or the product of absent fathers.But a fast-growing group of women are shattering both long-held expectations and stereotypes by becoming SMCs... more
For shore!
It starts in early spring when the snow’s still falling: We dream of weekends filled with warm breezes, walks in the woods, wildflowers, cool lakes and babbling brooks rushing with life (instead of ice chunks).We wish for family camping trips. Well, it’s time for the wishful thinking to be over — because it’s finally... more
Baby carriers 101
Parents and grandparents around the world have been wearing infants for centuries, using a variety of slings, wraps and other contraptions. Though the practice is only just becoming a mainstream habit in modern Western culture, companies are offering a dizzying array of devices that allow parents to easily carry children from the... more
All the way to Grand Marais
Lake Superior’s North Shore is one of the most popular destinations in the state with hot spots like Duluth, Two Harbors and Lutsen at the top of the list for many Twin Cities families. Fewer folks go the 17 miles past Lutsen to make their final destination the far-flung Lake Superior harbor village of Grand Marais. Grand... more
See the world!
Travel is often thought of as a leisurely activity, a luxury that doesn’t fit easily into family life. When you’re caught up in the challenges of parenting, a run to Target may feel like the most ambitious trip you can manage. But if you want travel to be a part of your children’s lives, you can’t leave it to chance.... more
Free-range kids?
We’ve all seen those Facebook posts and chain emails that recall a simpler childhood — free of cell phones and full of outdoor adventures with boundaries in the form of a neighbor’s corner lot and the end of play time determined by the street lamps flickering on at dusk. We look back fondly on biking to school and epic games of tag... more
Until Gwen
The display flashed "Great workout!"and a sense of dread dug its claws deep in my belly.I stepped off the treadmill feeling like I was still moving, my heart doing that flutter thing again. I waited for the sensation to pass. It always passed, I told myself. Always. Hadn’t the doctor said staying active would help improve my mood? If it... more
Choosing the breast pump for you
Ah, the joy of preparing for a new baby! Stockpiling tiny sleepers, making lists of names, picking out adorable crib sheets and … researching breast pumps! OK, so maybe contemplating breast pumps isn’t at the top of your list of fun things to do during your third trimester. Maybe you don’t know if you really need one. Maybe you’re... more
Nursery detox 101
One of the most exciting times of a woman’s pregnancy is decorating her baby’s nursery. Like so many new mothers-to-be, I spent hours researching the safest car seats, cribs and toys. I baby-proofed everything in the house. When it came time to convert our spare bedroom into a nursery for our soon-to-be-born daughter, I knew not to... more
Breaking down the baby registry
Setting up your baby registry? Here’s what to splurge on, what to skip, plus a few outside-the-box ideas.You might not need it, but you'll love it. Blooming BathThis soft, colorful flower-shaped pad ($40) turns your kitchen sink into a baby bath. It later serves as a bathtub cushion for bigger babies — a simple solution to the... more
Where should you give birth?
The Twin Cities supports a uniquely vibrant birthing community. There are dozens of seasoned home-birth midwives, a handful of free-standing birth centers in the metro and surrounding areas and several hospitals striving to be more mom-baby friendly every day.Add to that an unusually concentrated pocket of maternity and postpartum... more
Inspiring STEM stars
Summer camps that focus on STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — aren’t exactly new.But this year, Twin Cities families will have even more choices for kids interested in STEM activities.Engineering for Kids opened up its first Minnesota franchise in Minneapolis in December and will be offering its first day camps this... more
Feats of clay
What’s the best part of a summer camp at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis?If you ask the Keefe kids — who’ve been going to camp there for nearly a decade — the best part of camp actually occurs after the weeklong program ends.The Bloomington siblings, ages 8, 11 and 18, all said their favorite part is returning to camp after their... more
Overnight success at Camp Oz
Kids cooling off with a swim in a lake, testing their knowledge of nature on an afternoon hike, scoring a goal during an intense game of soccer, talking with new friends around a bonfire and riding a horse for the first time: This is what Camp Oz is all about — traditional camp experiences kids will remember into adulthood. So what... more
Cool, Christian camp
With a snap of the bat, the wiffleball is … gone! … straight over the boards at Target Field and into the woods of central Minnesota. Wait, what?At Trout Lake Camps — in the Brainerd Lakes area about 3 hours north of the Twin Cities — anything is possible, including a grand-slam home run at a Major League Baseball park. ... more
Giddy up!
Every summer, campers at Sunnyside Stables Horse Camp get lots of opportunities to ride horses. Thanks to indoor and outdoor riding arenas — as well as horseback riding trails on 75 rolling acres in rural Rosemount — kids ride every day, rain or shine. But they also get horse experience that goes far beyond “giddy up.”... more
Starting small
Many of us fondly remember our summer-camp experiences: Days of hiking, swimming and kickball. Nights of s’mores, sleeping bags and spooky stories around the campfire.You can’t wait for your kids to make the same kinds of memories, right?But what if your child isn’t quite ready for an overnight camp?You might consider a day camp.... more
Right kid, right camp
Is your child ready?Children are ready for new experiences at different stages. Parents know their children best and these questions can help gauge if this is the summer your child should start camp:•What’s your child’s age, and what’s your perception of his or her readiness level? Children younger than 7 who haven’t had other overnight... more
7 ways to make summer camp affordable
Minnesota has hundreds of summer camps to offer families. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to send their kids to camp.However, there are many options available to help families to reduce costs and make camp a reality for their children. Financial assistanceFinancial assistance is available at numerous Minnesota camps, you just have... more
Cardboard crazy!
Drums pound in the distance. A trumpet signals a charge. Suddenly a hoard of warriors — decked out with helms and axes — charges toward the castle, attempting to break down the gates. The defenders inside, whose armor all shares a symbol of a boar upon it, ready their swords and shields and quietly reaffirm their planned strategy to... more
Child care web sites
College Nannies and TutorsThis site was founded in Minnesota by Joseph Keeley, a business-school student who took a job as a nanny — or “manny” — caring for children in Edina in the summer of 2000. This popular site has grown into a large organization offering on-call child-care, nanny-placement services and more to families across ... more
Why I send my teen to camp
My oldest daughter was a reluctant camper. Every year, she went because we told her she had to and that she might (one day!) enjoy it. We started trying various overnight camps in first grade. She always packed at the last minute and routinely copped an attitude when we’d near the grounds. Each year we’d hold our breath,... more
Booty camp
You know you’re having a tough time with potty training when an emergency trip to Chicago starts to seem like a good idea. That was the case for Julie Bixby, a Dellwood mother of two. Desperate to get her 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Isabella, potty trained, Bixby became intrigued when she read about a woman in the Windy City who... more
The heart of adoption
Fewer than 24 hours after her son was born, Megan Braun worried she was destined for heartbreak once again. Megan and her husband, Doug, had traveled 1,600 miles from their Brooklyn Park home to meet their newborn son in Tacoma, Wash. And the birth mother seemed to be changing her mind overnight. The carefully arranged adoption agreement... more
Choosing a child-care path
Whether you’re considering hiring a neighborhood babysitter for the occasional date night or a full-time daycare center for your return to work, finding the right child-care provider is an overwhelming endeavor — and likely one of the most important parenting decisions you’ll face.After all, this is your child! Of course you want to... more
Surviving the unthinkable
As parents, you expect to raise your child through many bumps and bruises, nightmares, broken curfews and broken hearts, triumphs and aspirations.These expectations begin during pregnancy. Excitedly you begin to stockpile teeny-tiny onesies, board books, even middle names.Loss of a child — whether in miscarriage, stillbirth, infancy,... more
Food dye fears?
Sonia Walters knew something needed to change. Her two daughters, ages 4 and 7, were experiencing a range of health problems, including cyclic vomiting syndrome (known as CVS), skin rashes, chronic stomachaches and hypoglycemia symptoms, not to mention mood swings and irritability. After several unsuccessful visits to the doctor to... more
Om with me, baby
If yoga  brings balance, confidence, strength and — most important — calm to the whirling lives of busy adults, could it cool down fighting siblings? Squelch toddler tantrums? Smooth the tempestuous moods of teens and adolescents? Miraculously … yes!Moving and breathing mindfully, connecting body and brain, can indeed help with... more
BoomBoom Prints
Are you an artist? Are you getting ready to decorate your baby’s nursery or your kid’s room? If so (and maybe even if not) you need to know about BoomBoom Prints! This Minneapolis-based startup, billed as “Etsy meets Pottery Barn Kids,” is an online marketplace of unique nursery decor and apparel designs. Artists, who get to use the site... more
Embrace these apps!
Every day a new app comes along, promising to make life better, easier or more fun. But they can’t all be that great. Luckily for us, we have Valerie Moe, Minnesota Parent’s tech-savvy mom blogger from Bloomington.She’s into apps — like really into apps — and recently she’s been sharing some of her favorites for parents and parents-to-be... more
Raising a giver in a ‘gimme’ world
As most parents do, I often think about my children and wonder what kind of adults they’ll be when they grow up.I hope they will become altruistic individuals, giving more than they take from the world.But my children are constantly bombarded by messages from billboard ads, celebrity figures and TV commercials that scream the opposite —... more
Best board games for families!
Playing games is a fun way to unplug from our many electronic devices — and build a sense of connection as a family. Board games, stacking games and card games also provide educational opportunities for children to practice important social skills such as taking turns, self-control, communication and perseverance. Check out these quick,... more
No more boys club
<p>Close</p> your eyes for a few seconds and picture a computer programmer or coder. Odds are high you just pictured a man in the role, maybe even a loner or a geek.And it isn’t just adults who share in this preconceived notion. Children do, too, including young girls, which only feeds the stereotype.Women make up only... more
Goodbye, stained, smelly containers
Some things — thermoses, travel mugs and even some water bottles — just don’t get clean in the dishwasher (or even in the sink with scrubbing). Bottle Bright tablets can clean even the nastiest of containers in minutes with amazing results, thanks to a bleach-free, certified-natural formula. You can even use them to clean caps lids... more
Guilt-free cookies
It’s inevitable. Christmas cookies, candies and other desserts are about to infiltrate your child’s diet — or try very hard to! But no matter how far off the deep end of indulgence you and your little ones fall this holiday season, you eventually have to get back to “normal” — and dial back the sugar. But instead of switching to carrot... more
Tiggly apps
Manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development — yes, even when the kids in question are using digital apps. So goes the mantra of Tiggly, the makers of interactive toys for tablets — including Shapes for toddlers and math-focused Counts for ages 3 to 6. Minnesota Parent’s 6-year-old toy tester tried both sets... more
A balance bike for winter
FirstBIKE, like any good balance bike, helps kids develop balance and eventually transition to a pedal bike. But this super-sturdy bike also features a rear-drum brake, a steering limiter, mud guards, sealed bearings and — perhaps most interestingly — a MonoSki attachment, allowing kids to transition “seamlessly from sun to snow.” It’s... more
LEGOs you can let go
Do you shudder a little when you buy your LEGO-loving kid yet-another set? Sure, they’re absolutely worth the cost, but they (and the cost) pile up fast. Solution: Rent LEGOs! Pley — a new monthly subscription service — is the Netflix of LEGOs (or Netbricks, you might say). You choose a set; they ship it; you build it, break it apart and... more
Italian striped lemon Christmas cookies
Ingredients12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened¾ cup sugar2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour¼ teaspoon salt1st batch: no food coloring* 2nd batch: ½ teaspoon red food coloring*3rd batch: ½ teaspoon green food coloring* 1 large egg1 tablespoon lemon zest1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract1 teaspoon lemon extract 1 egg, beaten with... more
Parenting in the age of indulgence
’Tis is the season for excess and overindulgence. This time of year, we realize, isn’t quite normal. But, when you look at your family and consider the big picture, you might wonder: Are you giving your kids too much? Parents who are worried about overindulgence — and want simple strategies for what to do — are in luck: The University of... more
To the Salt Cave!
The Salt Cave — which opened last year in southwest Minneapolis — has expanded by adding a second cave in the basement of its location at 4811 Nicollet Ave. And this cave, loaded with 12,000 pounds of Himalayan rock salt, is tailor-made for kids.Toys and books are provided to engage children while they experience the health benefits of... more
Must-read holiday video game guide
Black Friday is just around the corner, and — if you’re a parent to a kid who’s into video games — that means it’s time to study up.November and December bring about most of the biggest and most highly anticipated video game releases of the year. But which games are right for your kid and his or her maturity level?Yes, video games are... more
The best new toys!
Yep, we did it again.We packed a bunch of kids (including our own), age 6 months to 9 years, into a room filled with play things for our annual toy test. Look what they found! Note: Though we list specific local retailers — who helped make this toy test possible with donations and loaner toys — many other local retailers and online... more
Imagination is the best toy
Walk into your average toy store, and the thing you notice almost immediately is the noise. There are toys that talk. Toys that sing. Toys that beep and chirp and make all sorts of other indescribable sounds. And many of these toys will bring joy to the children who receive them.But how long will that joy last? And will these toys help... more
Fan faves!
OK, Minnesota parents, it’s your turn! Yep, this month you’re taking over our Bookshelf department, sharing your favorite books. Don’t see your top picks here? Tell us: What’s your favorite children’s book of all time (or this week)? Send the title, your first and last name and your city of residence to and... more
Gotta-have-it gear
Babies and toddlers don’t, technically, need a lot of gear. But certain basics are essential (and it’s best to buy them new, not second hand): We’re talking pacifiers, teethers and sippy cups. Have a kid or two, and you’ll go through quite a few. Here are some of our favorites — old and new. Bonus: Want to learn how not to go crazy with... more
Lunch box inspiration
Is making a school lunch for your kid every day already feeling like an unbearable chore? We feel you! It’s time to get inspired: Minneapolis chef-mama Molly Herrmann doesn’t let the job get her down, even though her 9-year-old son, AJ, has peanut, tree-nut and shellfish allergies, plus a “bizarre aversion” to sandwiches (... more
Kale, apple and date salad
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1/4 teaspoon salt1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves very thinly sliced1 apple (Honeycrisp is ideal.)1/4 cup dates, cut into thin slivers1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted1/4 cup pecorino or Parmesan cheese, gratedSalt and pepper, to tasteServes 4 Whisk together... more
Roasted chicken thighs with Delicata squash
½ lemon, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, sliced into wedges, seeds removed4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 ½ pounds)1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage1 ½ teaspoon coriander seed1 teaspoon black pepper1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt1 Delicata squash (about 1 ¼ pounds)¼ cup maple syrup3... more
Two new boutiques
OK, fashion-minded moms, we’ve got news for you: Two new clothing shops are now open in the Twin Cities!You’ll find NTY Kids just west of the Ridgedale shopping center in Minnetonka. Bright and cheerful, the shop is a pilot location for a new national chain of children’s resale stores. Among the store’s 50 featured brands you’ll find... more
A meal and cooking lesson in one
Imagine this: Family dinner is planned, the groceries are bought and all of the seasonings are measured and at your fingertips. But you didn’t have to do the leg work: All you have to do is turn up the heat in your kitchen.If you like to cook, but you dread answering the question: “What’s for dinner?”, check out Minneapolis-based... more
Fall fun on the farm!
Ah, autumn. It’s the perfect time to get out and explore Minnesota’s family farms. Here are a couple Minnesota Parent picks to get you inspired and motivated! (Hint: Bring cash or check. Not all farms take credit!)Pumpkin Patch PickOne of the ultimate destinations for fall family fun in the Twin Cities is Sever’s Corn Maze &... more
Sex after Baby
Gulp! Your doctor has given you the "all clear" to resume sexual activity after birthing your baby. Now you just need the libido, energy and a good night's sleep to go with it and maybe sex will sound remotely interesting again. To alleviate some worries you may have about sex after pregnancy, here are 10 no-pressure, back-to-sex... more
Too much candy?
Is there such a thing? Kids on Halloween night will say, “No way!” But, parents, you know how easy it is to end up buried in sugary treats. What can you do? Check out the national Halloween Candy Buy Back program: Enter your ZIP at to quickly find numerous Twin Cities dentists and orthodontists willing to pay $1... more
Explaining cancer
Imagine finding out you have breast cancer at age 39. Then picture trying to tell your sons, age 3 and 6.That’s what Katy Tessman Stanoch of Minnetonka had to do, along with explaining her surgery (a double mastectomy) and chemo treatments. Immediately, she and her husband tried to find a book they could read to their boys to help... more
Get personal!
I See Me! My Farm Friends from I See Me! — a cool Plymouth-based publishing company — is all about introducing adorable farm animals to kids. This hardcover book comes customized with your child’s name and photo on nearly every page. Its interior pages are glossy and sturdy, not quite board-book quality, but tough and super cute.... more
Sleep, baby, please!
To a new parent, nothing sounds better than a little extra sleep! But how can you get it? The Amma Parenting Center Book of Sleep ($12.95) by the Edina-based parenting center’s founder, registered nurse and midwife Sara Pearce, offers advice. New this year, the book offers an alternative to a cry-it-out sleep training. Amma’s trademarked... more
Where do you fit into your child’s education?
Sending your child off to school can be a traumatic experience.During a child’s earlier years, parents often have — for better or for worse — complete control over every day.But when you drop your child off at that first day of preschool or watch him or her drive away to high school on their own, you’re reminded that a lot of control... more
The power of early childhood music education
Shakespeare called it “the food of love.” It can calm nerves, ignite passions and sooth a broken heart. It’s a part of nearly every celebration and ceremony. Some might call it the common language of our world. What would your favorite movie be without it? What would life be without it?We’re talking, of course, about music.And it’s... more
School-choice counselors: Your guide through the education system
Melissa Pederson, a Minneapolis mother of two, knew there was a problem when her very bright daughter stopped liking school. Teachers were frustrated with her work, despite the girl’s high standardized test scores and expansive vocabulary. What was happening? Pederson contacted Loran Meccia, director of the Center for K-12... more
The growing demand for language immersion
When Melissa Navratil and her family hosted a woman from Colombia as part of an international exchange program, she expected her two oldest daughters, in fourth and sixth grade, to be able to chat at least a bit using the Spanish they’d learned at their immersion school.But she didn’t expect her son — a first-grader at the time — to... more
All dressed up!
From left to right: Ella Greene, 8 months, Farmington; Charlie and Julia Hanson, ages 4 and 10 months, Rogers; Ian Gabriel Chacon, 6 months, Apple ValleyClockwise from top left: Cole Helgeson, 3, Waconia; Olivia Moe, 9 months, Bloomington; Sophia Liu, 2, Eden Prairie; Elijah Daniels-Kriz, 7 months, BurnsvilleSam and Max... more
Moving in together
Michele Knife Sterner knew the questions and comments she’d hear before her family had even finished unpacking their boxes.“You’re moving in with your parents? Why?”“I could never do that. You’re crazy.”“Your poor parents. They just can’t get rid of you.”The chorus of naysayers, however, couldn’t prevent Sterner and her family —... more
Baker's joy!
Every mama needs a creative outlet. For Ashley Stentz — who lives in Brooklyn Park and works (as director) at the Laurel Village New Horizon Academy in downtown Minneapolis — it’s making cakes for her friends and family, including her sons, Aiden, 5, and Connor, 1. Stentz learned to bake by watching her Finnish grandmother when... more
Baby makes one more
When you’re 3 years old and the only child in the house, change can be difficult to handle. You’ve been pampered, perhaps, your entire life and, presumably, have had things fall in your favor more often than not.Then mom and dad decided to make the family a quartet.Oh. Well, that’s different. That’s a huge adjustment.Luckily... more
Surviving colic
Your baby cries. That’s normal, of course. But what if your baby really cries? A lot. And you begin to hear repeatedly — when in the presence of grandmothers, opinionated observers and even your pediatrician — the word “colic.”The Mayo Clinic defines colic as predicable periods of distress in an otherwise healthy... more
Back to school without bullying?
When Sumi Mukherjee travels to schools throughout Minnesota to talk about his experience with years of childhood bullying growing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he starts the conversation the same way each time.“How many of you have been bullied?” he asks.The Plymouth-based writer and speaker then sees about half of his young... more
10 tips for getting out the door on time
When summer unofficially ends — egad! — in just a few weeks, it’ll be time for many Minnesota parents to get into a different kind of groove: Back to school! We’ll stock up on supplies and maybe even update our kids’ wardrobes. It’s goodbye flip-flops and hello new gym shoes! And so long Slip ’N Slide and nice to meet you, glue... more
Dino Might
Jessica Flannigan of Maple Grove — author of the Live the Fancy Life blog — knows how to throw gorgeous parties. Her oldest son Bodhi’s third birthday party this past spring was no  exception, even though she was starting her third trimester of pregnancy during the planning.She simply went store-bought (... more
Birthday party bliss
A child’s birthday celebration seems to bring — to the parent — a unique mix of excitement and dread. You pitch, you plan, you budget. You try to reconcile your preconceived notions of “special occasion” and “spoiled rotten.” You deal with the child’s changing mind and ever-changing moods. You struggle to create a day to remember,... more
Tummy time made easy
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics started encouraging parents to lay healthy infants younger than 1 on their backs for sleep rather than on their side or stomach. In 1994, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development joined in the public education effort with its “Back to Sleep” campaign. The goal was to reduce... more
Five family-friendly campgrounds
Camping with children can be difficult at times, sure, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, peaceful even! If you’re just getting started, however, it’s hard to know where to begin your adventures. To provide answers, we’ve found the ultimate expert — Kelly Cunningham, author of the Muddy Flowers mom blog and co-founder of... more
Soak it up: Your best bets for summer fun!
Ah, to be a Minnesota parent. We white-knuckle it through some of the longest, hardest winters in the country, daydreaming of long days outdoors without fear of frostbite — green spaces galore, bicycle rides with the kids, bucking the confines of our four walls, thick boots and oh-so-many layers. Then we hit July. With stubborn... more
Car seat conundrums
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your kids as safe as possible. But when it comes to car-seat safety, it’s often easier said than done.  Not only do the laws change when new information about best practices becomes available, sometimes we assume that the legal requirements (see resources below) are enough... more
Age-perfect parks
Finding an age-appropriate playground for your child can be difficult. You don’t want big kids trampling your little kid — or little kids always in the way of your big kid. And sometimes it can seem impossible to find the right mix of adventure and age-appropriateness all in one place.But that shouldn’t keep you from getting out — far... more
Go chasing waterfalls
Minnesota may be known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the North Star State is also home to several stunning waterfalls that are roaring right now, thanks to the big spring melt made all the more powerful by an especially snowy winter. Plus, waterfalls provide a key ingredient for family-friendly outings — a final destination with... more
Is your child a hoarder?
Moss-covered rocks. Dusty LEGO sets. Countless sticks, crammed into a corner. These are the “treasures” of my 11-year-old’s room.I’m well aware of his love for stuff. It’s a fun ritual when he’ll show me his collection of rocks, cards or erasers. But I’m starting to wonder if his little collections are getting out of control. Desk... more
Get gardening (with kids)!
There’s something magical about spring, especially in Minnesota when bitterly cold winters keep us cooped up for long stretches. If you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy doing outdoors this year, here are four container gardening projects we promise your kids will love. They’ll be delighted to find they can grow... more
Good coach / bad coach
I grew up a coach’s kid. Our family activities revolved around sports. The majority of my time was spent at a small Iowa gym, and having to shoot 10 free throws in a row before I could come in the house to eat dinner was standard protocol. Even the families we hung out with included other coaches. It was the norm.  It wasn’t until... more
Chris test story
The Concussion Discussion
It's spring, and that means (finally!) it’s time to get outside and play! And with all the excitement — and often fast and furious play — kids can get hurt. Bumps and bruises are common, of course, but what should you do when your little one suffers a head injury? Should you be looking for signs of a concussion?Experts in pediatric... more
A typical summer camp
When Jay and Penny Olson dropped their nine-year-old daughter Autumn off at Camp Kesem two summers ago, she was withdrawn — not her usual bright and bubbly self. Autumn shut down when her mom was diagnosed with cancer earlier that year. “It was like we had lost our little girl,” Jay Olson said.When they picked her up a week... more
Sleepaway Camp — is your child ready?
When it comes to deciding whether or not a child is ready for a sleepaway camp this summer, many parents rely on the successful completion of some major life events, including getting through most nights without wetting the bed, or happily managing an overnight sleepover at a friend’s house.While those are excellent indicators, there are... more
Small stage, big creativity
A long traditionToy theater, as In The Heart of the Beast’s Education Director Bart Buch explains, is a unique and intimate combination of art and performance that allows artists complete control of the production. Originally sold as kits of popular plays in the 19th century, a typical toy theater sits about a foot or two tall and looks... more
'That Conservation Ethic'
On a 6,300-acre wildlife preserve, summer campers hunt, fish, hike and swim throughout a diverse northern Minnesota landscape of forest, lakes, rivers and bogs. Founded in 1973, the Deep Portage Learning Center in Hackensack is a nature preserve and conservation education center that opens its expansive grounds every summer to... more
Brainstorm at The Bakken
The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” very well could have been said about the Summer Science Day Camps at The Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, where kids are challenged to dream up inventions of their own and bring them to life. At a recent camp session, 8-year-old camper Shifa was hard at work on a light-up jewelry box... more
Beyond Pink and Blue
Samantha Hedwall’s toddler, A.J., knows what she wants.The Mankato mom tried putting her in pink, but the two-year-old denied her. “She did not want bows in her hair and she did not want to wear a dress,” Hedwall says. A.J. wanted a tool set like her dad’s and only wears her “princess shirts” when she feels like it. It was... more
Double Wow
Seeing double? You’re not alone. Today, 1 in 30 newborns is a twin. So, it’s common—sort of. I saw a woman walk out of the ultrasound room after learning that there was an actual gathering of babies in her womb. She looked—at once—both enchanted and also stricken, so clearly thinking, “Wow. Wow, wow, wow. This is going to be hard.”... more
Is technology rewiring your baby's brain?
It’s a rule nearly every parent breaks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two have no exposure to screens. That guideline was hard enough to follow when it applied to background TV and baby videos. Now that very young children are reaching for smartphones and tablets, most parents hand them over... more
Super Stretching
There’s adult yoga and there’s kid yoga, and they are very, very different sorts of animals—as far apart, say, as downward dog and a crazy, multi-colored cartoon canine. Adult yoga usually involves dim lighting, soft music, and lots of time to de-stress from the pressures of, well, everything that comes along with being a parent.... more
High-tech mischief
You receive a text from the mother of your daughter’s friend, asking if she can sleep over at her family’s house that night.You come home from work one day to find a message on your home answering message, from a man who sounds like your son’s physics teacher, requesting that the boy stay after school next week for extra help.You check... more
The mind of an ADHD child
It was a beautiful song. All the orchestral instruments were playing as one, the music swelling at just the right moments. But as the song progressed, I noticed some weren’t quite in sync. I could hear certain instruments lagging behind the tempo, and others racing along, ahead of the conductor. I’m not sitting in an audience,... more
ECFE expands and evolves
Parents chat about potty training, eating quirks, and sleep issues. Kids learn to take turns, get to play with a bunch of neat toys, sing songs, and do finger plays. That's (ECFE), right?Yes and no. While it's still a great resource for new parents, today's (ECFE) looks very different than it did when it began in 1974 as a pilot program... more
The very best thing
"We wish to include every child," she explained, "who might benefit from this class." There was money on hand to help, she said, when families couldn't afford the fee.I have noticed Minnesota's love for its youngest citizens: the political emphasis on education, benefits hosted by friends and churches for sick children, parks especially... more