Laura Malm
Feature
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 almost two hours.The concept of putting a baby in a box may sound odd to most people, but this isn’t just any box — this is a baby box designed specifically 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 BabyNameWizard.com 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
Two new indoor play places
Imagine sitting at a cozy corner table, sipping on a latte and eating fresh crepes and fruit. You’re happy. You’re relaxed. You’ve got free high-speed Internet. Now imagine your kids are there with you. Hold up. The fantasy isn’t ruined! You’re still in your happy place. That’s because your kids are occupied.They’re using their... 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
Unplug
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!Adventure Peak in Edinborough Park, EdinaAirMaxx, Eden PrairieBig Thrill Factory, MinnetonkaBrickmania Toyworks, MinneapolisBrown Family Adventure Park, Ham LakeEagle's Nest, New BrightonGood Times Park, EaganInnerActive, Minnetonka – NEW!... more
Twin Cities toy stores!
Check out the wide variety of local toy stores we are blessed with in the Twin Cities! ABC Toy Zone, Burnsville, Chanhassen and RochesterAir Traffic Kites and Games, six Twin Cities locations, including MOAAutism Shop (This store is now online only.)BuyBuy Baby, WoodburyChoo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. PaulCreative Kidstuff,... 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
10 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 sounds.skiphop.com $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
15 top splash pads!
Need to cool off this summer? Take a tour of the area's top splash pads!Andrews Park Splash PadChamplin New in 2014, 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, too.tinyurl.com/champlin-... 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 minnesotagrown.com 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
Zootopia
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. Urban Expedition: NigeriaThe historic Landmark Center is a picturesque place to spend a Sunday as a family, especially when free... 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 exploreminnesota.com.Dodge 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 editor@mnparent.com 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 halloweencandybuyback.com 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
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
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
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
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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