School Age
Yep. Here we are with another issue of Minnesota Parent, still kicking, still humming right along, in fact, despite “all that’s been going on.”Though our issues have become bi-monthly — that’s every other month — due to the economic environment caused by COVID-19, we’re delighted to present to you our latest work.Despite the fact that I accepted another job back in May, I’ve stuck around as interim editor because I just can’t quit this wonderful gig — not when I... more
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is  a remarkable destination for adventure seekers of all ages.Known for its rich beauty — a mixture of forests, glacial lakes, rivers and streams — and wildlife, including fish, loons, deer, black bears, beavers, otters, coyotes and wolves, it’s one of the most visited protected wilderness... more
During my many outdoor experiences with my kids, I’ve found the fondest memories are made when everyone’s had a good night of sleep and the right clothing, footwear and gear to protect them from the elements.Though I’m no “glamper,” I’ve learned over the years to invest in high-quality gear. You typically just need to buy it once and it can... more
When the Okee Dokee Brothers created their fifth album, they didn’t know COVID-19 was coming. And George Floyd wasn’t a household name.And yet many of the songs on their magnificent new double-CD set — Songs for Singin’ — seem fully aware that not everything is okee dokee in America.For the first time ever since winning a Grammy for... more
It’s a familiar and challenging question I face when opening a book to read to my 4-year-old granddaughter, Charlie.Where are the books that offer a glimpse into her world, and reflect who she is as a little Black child?Picture books are vessels that provide children an important introduction to the world and play a significant role in informing a... more
Made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch (polyvinyl alcohol), The Chilly Pad — one of many brands of cooling towels — is heaven when placed on the back of your neck on a scorching day. And they’re safe for kids and never mildew. Just get it wet — the cooler the water, the better — wring it out,... more
Are you running out of stay-at-home breakfast fodder? These nutrient-packed strawberry breakfast cookies can be eaten whole or broken up into pieces and served with milk, just like homemade granola!STRAWBERRY BREAKFAST COOKIESINGREDIENTS1 cup pitted dates (about 5 ounces)1 large ripe banana, peeled and sliced3/4 cup applesauce1/4 cup coconut oil,... more
Q: I’m worried about my kids and the long-term effects of this global health crisis. It’s not so much the fear of the virus itself, but all the upheaval in life, family, school. Am I right to worry?A: To say this is a stressful time is an understatement.COVID-19 is changing our lives in so many ways. For kids, it’s... more
Who knew planners could be this fun, this beautiful? Even if your schedule is a bit up in the air, you’ll find serenity and joy in these gorgeous works of art, including options for kids and adults — and teacher lesson planners, too.$30 and up • more
Oh, what a world we’re living in! And who knows what this next school year will bring?As an elementary educator, at this point in the summer, I would typically be starting to gear up for the next school year by hitting the reset and refresh button in my classroom, so to speak.I would be polishing up tried-and-true learning resources and materials... more
The curtain has fallen away, and the ugly truth has been revealed once again. Minnesota has a race problem.I can’t get the image of Derek Chauvin with his knee pressed into the neck of George Floyd out of my head. A murder in broad daylight, as three additional Minneapolis police officers stood by and did nothing. And all the while, Chauvin, in... more
Leslie Pitt’s life changed forever on her first day of summer vacation when she was 6 years old.After playing with her best friend, she hopped onto her bike for a short ride. But on the way home, she was struck by a dump truck. The impact completely crushed her left leg, forcing it to be amputated.Instead of looking back on that day with anger or... more
Mask-wearing is likely to be a way of life for a long time, so you may as well stock up on the reusable kind, right?We’re loving the 100% cotton Leopard Print Mix & Match eight-pack ($35) from Petunia Pickle Bottom, with sizes for adults, plus smaller ones designed for ages 3 and older. Known for its beloved diaper bags and baby goods,... more
Quarantine? No problem! These kids are having a ball, keeping busy at home.Nathan, 7, and Ari, 5, of PlymouthCallie, 3, and Linnea, 5, of AnokaFiona, 3, of Maple GroveEli, 7, of PlymouthItisha, 5, of Eden PrairieFelicity, 9, Julianna, 6, and Laylah, 3, of MinneapolisClaire, 3, of MinneapolisLiam, 4, and Myles, 5, of Champlin with their dog,... more
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... more
In a time of isolation and mandatory distancing, it’s important to remember and celebrate all kinds of relationships. These stories illustrate the surprising bonds that can emerge when you bring a child-like open-mindedness to friendship!Set at a seaside bed-and-breakfast called the Mermaid Hotel, this whimsical book celebrates the friendship of... more
Students won’t be returning to school. While many parents knew in the back of their minds that this was likely to happen, it still came as a shock or huge disappointment.Most had hoped that their children would miraculously return to school and that they could work — even if it was from home.To say that the last few weeks have been difficult for... more
I still have a great wardrobe — even if I can’t leave my house. Some friends and I started @DistanceinDisDress on Insta to see each other’s faces and dress in our most ridiculous — and cute — clothes for inspiration and a moment’s silliness. Everyone’s welcome — no dress required! DM your photo to join the feed or just follow along.instagram.... more
Got a kid who hates bath time?A Minnesota mom is offering handmade bubble bath bombs — with toys inside — to entice kids or just make bath time extra special with her growing business, Two Sisters Spa.Amanda Royer, who lives in Eden Prairie with her husband and two daughters, founded the company in 2013 after her homemade bath bombs... more
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 from the... more
Alas, the time has come: After six years of serving as editor of Minnesota Parent, I’m heading to a new job at an amazing local company.When I started in this role, my son was just 5 years old, halfway through his kindergarten year.Now, he’s set to enter junior high — seventh-grade! — this fall. As he moves onto a new school... more
Whew. Well. So here we are. Seemingly overnight, everything’s changed. Like many working families, we’re now mostly sequestered at home, fending off cabin fever, and trying to work from home — something I’ve done for a long time, but never like this — and also supporting our children’s heroic teachers by trying to corral our three-ring circuses in... more
This past January, I turned 40 years old. Once upon a time in my life, 40 sounded so old.But this transition to my fifth decade has been certainly much smoother than I would have anticipated.For you younger-than-40 readers, I want you to know that growing older doesn’t have to signal your demise! Growing older is what you make of it.For me “... more
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 bonus... more
Q: COVID-19 is all over the news, but there’s not much being reported about kids. What happens to kids who get COVID-19 — and should I still bring my child in for regular check-ups during this time?A: You might not be hearing much about COVID-19 in children, but they are getting it. Any age can get COVID-19. Fewer children than adults are showing... more
Sheletta Brundidge — a Cottage Grove mother of four children, including three on the autism spectrum — has been a tireless advocate for families facing special needs over the years.And now Brundidge, a Twin Cities comedian and Emmy-winning broadcaster, has written a new children’s book.Cameron Goes to School, inspired by her daughter’s autism... more
Who was it that posted that very first school’s-closed-here’s-what-to-do-at-home schedule? You know, the one that had you getting up at 6 a.m., followed by 7 a.m. breakfast, 8 a.m. dressing, teeth-brushing and chores and one hour of reading at 9 a.m. and on and on it went with enrichment in every aspect of academic and social life.Are you kidding... more
Welcome to Minnesota Parent’s first-ever coloring contest! I’m so excited to share this original coloring sheet I created for all of you on behalf of Minnesota Parent. You might be wondering where this came from since I typically write about different products I’ve used with my kiddos. It’s simple really. With a majority... more
A groundbreaking study out of San Diego State University in California showed that adolescents who spent more time on new media, including both social media websites and smartphones, were at a greater risk of mental health issues, including depression.Hardly the first of its kind, research has consistently shown negative outcomes associated with... more
Inspirational and motivational cozy-knit tops abound on the Etsy store created by Southeast Minnesota mother of two and elementary-school counselor Katie Jeseritz.Her T-shirt offerings ($21.50) include social- emotional learning catchphrases about kindness and self-belief as well as delightfully cheeky counselor themes like: “You down with I.... more
London-born Twin Cities songbird Katy Vernon wields a big voice and a tiny instrument — the ukulele.I caught the sweet mother-daughter video for the dance-worthy, trumpet-laden In Your Shoes (For Daisy) and dissolved in a puddle of tears. The good •  more
Big news, parents: We’re doing a “boredom busters” giveaway — with a super-fabulous prize pack of toys (a retail value of $130), to keep your cooped-up kids active and engaged!To enter, email us a photo of your kid(s) keeping busy at home (playing, doing homework, reading for fun — anything other than screen time) to with the... more
I know a lot of us are starting #DistanceLearning with our kiddos this week and that can cause some stress or anxiety as we learn to balance working at home with helping our children with their assignments. As a mom of a first-grader as well as 4-year-old twins, needing to come up with my own activities and lessons for Jacob and Seraphina is... more
Just look at these emerging local ballet stars! We’re biased, but we think they’re tutu cute.Cloe, 7, of Vadnais HeightsLouisa, 3, of St. PaulAila, 3, of EdinaHarriet, 4, of MinneapolisWant to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s first name, age and city to more
You need only four ingredients for this recipe, which means it can be made on your busiest days. Need a simple holiday meal for Easter? Done! Let your slow cooker do the work — while you tidy the house.Slow-Cooker Ham and Sweet Potatoes1 boneless ham, about 2 pounds3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered4 tablespoons salted butter,... more
Q: How long can my kids bathe together?A: For the most part, it’s up to them!The key with nudity and privacy isn’t the age of the children, but rather the family culture around nudity and privacy. If your kids like taking baths together, let them!Our kids will tell us when they’re ready for more privacy. Some kids will simply state that they... more
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 this is... more
It felt like manna from heaven to log into Disney+ and discover Frozen 2. My daughters squealed.  In their infinite mercy, the folks at Disney decided to release the beloved sequel three months ahead of schedule to entertain kids stuck at home (and help their working-at-home parents!).We are so grateful.  As we enter "Into The... more
As I hide in my basement for three hours of uninterrupted work time, my wife is upstairs managing an endless series of Zoom check-ins for my fifth-grader whose schoolwork has just picked up again after a three-week hiatus.To boot, our youngest is in his final year of pre-school and so we’re also managing bi-weekly Zoom meetings for his class that... more
I'm thrilled to announce the publication of a new book by the supremely talented, award-winning Kayla Harren, an in-demand illustrator who lives near St. Paul. Released today by B&H Publishing and written by Christian recording artist Ellie Holcomb, "Don't Forget To Remember" illuminates the many signs of God's love in a child's life... more
There is no manual for parenting. But sometimes you can find little pointers to direct you, breadcrumbs to lead you along the path. Discovering this book felt like one of those times.   I spotted it on a Saturday morning in the Little Free Library at The Grove Aquatic Center. The plastic book jacket lent it a vintage-... more
Music is a universal language that brings together people of all cultures and ages. Our littlest ones have an instinctive receptivity to simple tunes, and older children can explore their feelings and express their souls through songs. These stories capture some of the power of music for kids.In these divided times, there’s one thing we can all... more
You may be familiar with tahini (sesame seed butter) as a hummus ingredient (and it is). But did you know tahini can also help you make great cookies? It adds a delicious nuttiness and creates a lovely texture, too. And the best part? Tahini is a great source of antioxidants, healthy fats, calcium and vitamin B6.Double Chocolate Tahini... more
Who knows what really works in the world of supplements, but we’ve been loving these SmartyPants multivitamins with fish oil, probiotics and methylfolate. They taste great, you can spread them out across the day (the dose is six gummies per day) and you can get them on Subscribe & Save from Amazon (at pricing similar to Costco). And there are... more
I had a moment of realization that I was truly growing up while watching Friday Night Lights (for the first time) a few years back. Coach Twinkle-Eyes was my pick, not the long-haired hunk Tim Riggins. Look, the rebel with a heart of gold who also happens to be smolderingly handsome — I really get it. But I was so far from scoring a date... more
Take your family on an exotic trip with more than 200 stunning, colorful photographs of India’s architecture, markets, cuisine, art and everyday life in Christine Chitnis’s new book: Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan. A photographer, wife and mother of three, Chitnis weaves historical and culture-... more
At this moment, I’m sitting at my laptop on the far edge of our dining room table, digging deep in my brain for an insightful message to share, something you can relate to that could perhaps help you on your parenting journey.But how can I inspire you when I’m sitting here shortly after losing my temper with one of my sons (due to frustration... more
My son’s father recently suggested that our boy, age 11, fly to Washington, D.C., to see his grandmother on a solo trip this summer.After all, my son’s dad had flown alone as a child — starting at age 5! — to visit his relatives. And my son’s grandmother had sent her sons off to fly as minors as well. It’s actually not that uncommon and... more
When it comes to Anna, Elsa and Olaf, there’s just no way these kids are going to let it go! Ana, 6, of ShoreviewGabi, 5, of Prior LakeMackenzie, 3½, of NewportHenry, 3, and Charley, 1, of NorthfieldLily, 5, of LakevilleAubrey and Lilah, both 5, and Luke, 2½, of South St. PaulWant to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s... more
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, which... more
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” can take on... more
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.“Yeah,... more
Is your child’s car seat installed correctly? Is your kid big enough to be using the type of seat he’s in right now? How much protection can child seats really provide in a serious crash?These are questions you might be asking yourself if you read the article last month about child booster seats by ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that... more
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 30... more
As a kindergarten teacher, I used to have frequent conversations with parents regarding the importance of bedtime routines. Although it’s no secret that sleep is vital for kids’ health, I discovered that many parents were unaware of how crucial the moments leading up to bedtime were. Creating a nightly routine that includes sufficient time... more
Craft-Tastic has done it again with another cool new art kit: The Empower Poster for ages 8 and up gets kids to design, create and display a one-of-a-kind inspirational piece — custom-made to highlight their identities, strengths and self-worth.$19.99 • more
This time of year, if you happen to take a walk through a Target, you may feel an overwhelming urge to purchase seasonal cupcake liners, a heart-shaped throw pillow, a spatula adorned with cupids and a bag of individually wrapped dark chocolate hearts to supplement the five necessities on your shopping list. Valentine’s Day, just like any... more
Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Self-doubt. Exhaustion.Why are these so often the badges of modern parenting? It’s because we care so much. Oh my god, we love them so much. Wearing these badges doesn’t feel like a choice to me. And I’m a relatively seasoned parent to an 11-year-old son.Yes, even now, when I drop him off at school, I can still... more
There are a lot of die-hard Koo Koo Kanga Roo fans out there! When we gave away tickets to see the Twin Cities-based kindie-rock duo, we asked for your photos. Here are just a few!  George and Samuel, age 5, with their Papa and one of their favorite guys at the Fulton Block PartyAnthony, 13, of LakevilleLilly, 7, and Lucy, 5, of White... more
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 kids.“... more
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 appeared... more
Whether at home or visiting Disneyland or Disney World, your kids are keeping the magic of Mickey Mouse alive.Cora, 3, of St. FrancisPiper, 4, of Eden PrairieSamuel, 4, of St. FrancisSantiago, 5, Sofia, 7, and Christian, 12, of Edina Theodore, 6, Gabrielle, 12, and Josiah, 8, of OronoWant to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your... more
There’s long been a shortage of children’s books with kids of color at the center of the narratives. Publishers, fortunately, are starting to change this with stories like these, some of which address cultural differences head-on and others of which simply tell stories occurring in non-white communities. All are fun for anyone and everyone!Called... more
There’s nothing quite like a hearty bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup in the wintertime. This delicious and easy recipe features a melange of simple, comforting flavors, plus egg noodles and tender veggies to get the kids on board, too! Easy Chicken Noodle SoupINGREDIENTS8 cups chicken broth3 cups cooked shredded chicken (equivalentof one... more
Q: How can I prevent my kids from getting sick?A: The most important factor in avoiding illness is hygiene. Kids seem to love putting things in their mouth and then touching their eyes and noses, which can directly introduce viruses to their system. A few tips for good hygiene:Teach kids about washing their hands well and often with warm water and... more
After finding birthday money scattered in various locations that were not our kids’ piggy banks — the trunk of a toy Corvette, a glasses case and an abandoned pencil pouch — it became clear our daughters didn’t understand the value of money. We needed to do something. A brief Google search led me to Ron Lieber’s 2015 book, The Opposite... more
Just like there’s no crying in baseball, is there no crying in motherhood? I had retreated to the bathroom, as bidden by my husband, after I threw an adult-size temper tantrum about … everything. I ran the bath extra hot, poured in coconut oil Epsom salts and swished it with my hand. I picked out some music on my phone. I tried my... more
Plan, shop, cook, eat, clean up, repeat: These are the responsibilities that come with feeding a family. As a working mom with four busy, growing and hungry kids, I get frustrated at times, and sometimes overwhelmed, with this ongoing chore. It’s not easy to deal with the daily challenge of timing and coordinating food for SIX of us... more
Planning an Instagram-worthy birthday party — even when we're not in the age of social distancing — isn't easy. Enter Sprinkles & Confetti, the brainchild of Minnesota mama Jackie Walter, whose online party supply business is now offering right-sized Party in Place Boxes; custom banners and yard signs for various occasions... more
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 remembers... more
Stressed by all those holiday to-dos?I’m here to help!This not-obnoxious, LOL Surprise Doll-free gift guide can cover everyone on your list. It’s based on reviews, recommendations and personal experience. It includes some really good deals (hello, $4 Amazon Prime wool socks!).It’s designed to deliver comfort and convenience for the adults you love... more
Everyone thinks they can write a good children’s book, especially celebrities. And some of them are right! Here's a wide range of great books penned by a diverse group of famous folk. A few tackle some of the biggest issues of our time. Others bring a much-needed dose of humor. All of them would make fun holiday gifts!We worry about our kids... more
As parents we’re quick to curb the amount of screen time our children get daily. But who’s keeping an eye on us? This question never crossed my mind until one day when my 2-year-old was talking to me as I mindlessly scrolled, putting items I never intended to buy into a virtual shopping basket. Frustrated with my lack of interest and eye... more
My husband died in 2018. Colin (pictured) was a bicycle commuter and was on his way home from work on April 10 when he was killed instantly in an accident, just blocks from home. We were 16 days shy of our 15th wedding anniversary.I’ll spare you the details, but I knew something was wrong when Colin was late for dinner. Taco fixings sat on the... more
I'm talking about the trophy. The stiff-arm pose of the man ON the trophy — in your face.It happened to me recently. I woke up, just after falling asleep, with a searing pain in my chest. In my stupor, I thought it was indigestion — I had eaten a big pizza and drank a cider with dinner — so I took antacids and tried to go back to sleep.... more
It’s a puzzle that actually drives! This new 3D jigsaw — one of many 3D options from Ravensburger — is a 1:18 scale model of the Porsche 911 R. Geared toward ages 10 and up — but suitable for younger kids with help — it comes together, 108 pieces in all, in numerical order on a sturdy base with working wheels. Cool!$29.99 •  more
Some days being a working mom of four kids kicks my butt.I admit, I really didn’t know what I was getting into when our household expanded from just my husband and me to a family with one child, then two, then three, then four children (not to mention the addition of 20-plus chickens, a cat and a German shepherd). Parenting my four children (... more
This flavor-packed puree isn’t just good for you: It’s based on a recipe from the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where writers of the 1920s hung out at their famed round table, trading quips. When you make the soup a little thicker, it doubles as a gourmet first food for babies — and a healthy lunch for you and yours. Algonquin Squash... more
The Bakken Museum on the shores of Bde Maka Ska is planning a six-month construction project to bring in new science exhibits — and a lakefront entrance (artist rendering pictured) — to its 44-year-old campus.Renovations will also add modernized classroom space and improved accessibility to the museum, established in 1975 by Medtronic co-founder... more
There’s just something about the holidays that brings out our kids’ cuteness, don’t you think? Luka, 7, and Mateo, 3 months, of Chanhassen with SantaLandyn, 1, cousin Birdie, 2, and Shea, 5, of St. Paul and RobbinsdaleLinnea, 3, and Callie, 1, of AnokaItisha, 3, of Eden PrairieLuke and Grace of WoodburyFinn, 8, Theo, 6, and Molly, 4, with... more
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 fresh trees... more
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 same way... more
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 about it... more
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 were hard... more
I was standing in my kitchen on a Saturday with 1,000 things to do and just a few hours to go before I had to leave on a three-day trip. I was feeling overwhelmed, torn as always, about what to choose and what to let fall way.I had a head full of things I wanted to do, things I had to do and things I dreamed of doing — and they all felt... more
Some children’s books feel like true works of art, the kind that belong in a museum or — more important for the conscientious gift-giver — the type that kids won’t grow out of and give away in a few years. These treasures, which cover various age ranges, definitely have the power to last.Every page of this large-format book looks like it should be... more
Making rollout cookies takes a bit of extra work. But these gems, which I bake with my son every December, are so worth it. With the double whammy of vanilla and almond flavoring — in the dough and in the icing — they’re so good: I swear you’ll want to make them every year.Aunt Marilyn’s Sugar ThinsCOOKIES½ cup butter, softened1 cup sugar1... more
Q: My son, 6, is often severely anxious. How do I give him a sense of safety? At what age could he start meds?A: Just like adults, kids can experience anxiety with change. When there are bigger changes happening in a family’s life, kids sense that and can unduly worry. News and media can also play a major role in building anxiety throughout... more
If your kids’ art is cluttering up your house, you can digitize it and publish it as a keepsake using a variety of cool apps such as ArtKive, Canvsly or Keepy. But we recently stumbled on a cheaper path: Bookemon! It’s a website (not an app) — and the interface isn’t swish — but you can put together photo books (and more) for far less. One mom who... more
The holidays are fast approaching. As a working mom with four busy kids, I’m certainly a work in progress when it comes to navigating this time of year with grace.The onset of winter — with its increased darkness and lower temperatures combined with the increased obligations associated with holiday festivities (spending and traveling to name a few... more
So many art kits are “one and done.” But this one — Crayola’s Scribble Scrubbie Pets Beauty Salon — comes with two pets you can color and then clean with a little bathtub, spray bottle and brush.  And then you can do it all again!$14.99 • more
Welcome, parents, to our annual Toy Issue, our official holiday gift guide, our map to all the things, sorted by age from baby to tween.This year, we’ve got quite a crop of gift ideas for you, a whopping 49 toys, 12 games and 6 stocking stuffers, all tested and approved by kids, parents and even a few grandparents — as part of our 10th-annual Toy... more
Dreading winter? Don’t. These shots of your kids prove just how much fun eight months of cold can be! Vinnie, 7 months, of EaganNora and Ella, 15, of Lakeville at Banning State ParkLucy, 7, Ryan, 4, and Addie, 9, of Savage on a snow dayDezserai, 11, and Derricka, 4, of Apple ValleyKelsie, 7, of International FallsShelby, 7, and Paden, 5, of... more
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 relatives in... more
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 a race... more
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 stuffers? (Here... more
In celebration of the latest single releases from Koo Koo Kanga Roo — Glitter, a hilarious anthem about the controversial craft staple, and Hot Sauce, a funky little hip-hop ditty — we’re giving away four tickets (a $72 value) to an all-ages Koo Koo show at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.Our grand prize winner — plus... more
Some books explicitly try to create little bibliophiles by fostering a love of reading and/or teaching basic literacy concepts. These entertaining reads — some of the best we’ve ever seen — do just that in five dramatically different and innovative ways.There’s no shortage of alphabet books, in which A is for apple or some other word starting with... more
Grab-and-go breakfasts are easy to find in the freezer section at the store, but what if you could make your own — without all those added ingredients? You can! In fact, the kids can help roll out this easy homemade crust and then choose their favorite veggies for the filling, too.INGREDIENTSCrust1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened1... more
Q: At what age can my child sit in the front seat? I’ve heard it’s not just about height or weight, but also about bone development.A: The transitions out of a booster seat to a regular seat, and from a rear seat to a front seat can be confusing because there are differing state laws as well as various recommendations from national health... more
Like Jessie Spano of Saved by the Bell memorably sobbed: “There’s never any time!”There isn’t. I’m constantly fighting the clock. Get kids up, fed, dressed, packed for the day, out the door so I can work, so I can pick them up on time, dinner, nighttime routine forevermore, amen. They don’t even do any scheduled activities yet! (Another thing... more
If your kids love puzzles, be sure to check out PuzzleTwist, offering many jigsaws with Minnesota-specific art —such as local city skylines, Paisley Park, the waterfront in Duluth, Babe the Blue Ox and even the Boundary Waters, to name a few. Bonus: Many of the puzzles come “with a twist,” in which the puzzle in the box is different from the... more
You are your child’s most important teacher.I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but I’m going to take this opportunity to shout out from my writer-teacher-mama soapbox to reiterate and emphasize this truth. I’ve been an educator in the public school system for the past 19 years. I’m on the front lines, so to speak, stepping into a classroom... more
Parenting is hard. Really hard. But when you have a child with a disability or complex health-care needs, your family will face challenges that not everyone can understand.Thanks to Family Voices of Minnesota, however, help is on the way.This local nonprofit organization operates CONNECTED, a free, state-wide parent-to-parent peer-support... more
We like wrapping paper and cookie dough from our kids’ fundraisers as much as the next person. But you know what would be more fun? Some cool, local products!Fortunately, this fundraising overhaul is already underway in Minnesota, thanks to two local moms — A.J. Zimmer and Gina Moore (pictured) of Maple Grove and Apple Valley, respectively —... more
Have you seen the billboards? The ones that say: “Minnesota schools are worst in the nation for our children of color”? As I write this Education Issue opening note, I can’t stop thinking about those signs.In fact, I was about to chime cheerily about the incredible amount of school choices we have in our fair state — as seen in two school... more
Thank you to the hundreds of families who entered our Minnesota State Fair giveaway by submitting photos of your kids #doingMinnesota! Here’s a look at just a few of the awesome pix you shared. Don’t see your kid here? Check out this page in future issues for a chance to spy your child!Ben, 2, Charlie, 8, Mason, 9, with their parents at Minnesota'... more
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 a few... more
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 critical to... more
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 balloons... more
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 school with a... more
I was introduced to the meaning behind the term “woke” in the fall of 2018, about one year after it was officially added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. I was teaching a literacy course at St. Catherine University, and one of my students created a project focused on the topic of being woke. The term “woke,” which originates from... more
We have been reading SO MANY books lately, and I don't know who enjoys it more: the kids or me! Lately I've been admiring the ones with a riveting opening line, the kind that immediately hooks a young reader. They thrust you into the center of the action. They introduce a compelling protagonist or an intriguing problem. They conjure a sense... more
Can’t get the kids to eat broccoli? Try this crunchy-noodle slaw! Let them bash the noodles and then watch them devour the final dish. Double this recipe for a party and you’ll be a hero.Crunchy broccoli slaw1 package Oriental-flavored ramen noodle soup (3 ounces; other flavors work, too)2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such... more
Rest assured: Transitions can be difficult for all children. You’re not alone if you have children who react strongly when it’s time to change what they’re doing. As a parent, I can relate to thinking, “Why in the world is my child responding SO BIG when I just asked her to… [have dinner, run an errand, leave for school]?” As adults, we... more
A year ago, we moved from a home I thought we’d live in forever to the dream we almost didn’t even know we had until the opportunity presented itself — a 1921 French Revival home that needed a total renovation. At the time, we had three kids aged 5 to 1. And my husband and I are both self-employed. What could go wrong? Here, I’... more
My four kids are no longer babies: My eldest is 14 and my youngest is 8; the other two are 10 and 12. Although I’m not new to the parenting adventure, the journey is proving to be fun, interesting and, of course, sometimes challenging, as my kids’ individual personalities are becoming more developed.Recently, I’ve done some reading on birth-... more
The Bug Bite Thing, a new suction tool created by a Florida mom, is getting rave reviews for its ability to relieve itching and swelling by drawing out venom and other irritants. We found it works best immediately after a bite, but can be effective days later, too. Even if it’s not a silver bullet for your kid, you’ll certainly have an amazing... more
During the spring of 2010, the staff at Sheridan Elementary in Northeast Minneapolis discovered a problem: Students were hoarding food from the cafeteria on Fridays. Why?At the time, more than 90 percent of students at Sheridan were receiving free or reduced-price lunches, and it turned out that many students were taking extra... more
Don’t you just love these gals? They all have their own sense of style and a touch of attitude, too!Davey, 2½, of Brooklyn Park with her Nana and Papa, Deb and LesPaige, 5, of Anoka outside her grandmother’s houseStephania, 17 months, in her yard in MinnetonkaWant to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s first name, age and... more
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 surrounded... more
My kids' favorite way to spend a summer day -- and mine too -- is at the beach. It helps that we found the perfect beach for young kids and pre-swimmers. The beach at Lake Elmo Park Reserve is a hybrid of a pool and a pond, a man-made 2-acre body of water that is filtered and chlorinated -- free of fish, algae and germs -- but covered with... more
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is the perfect place to spark kids’ imaginations and bring their fairy tales to life. They’ll feel as if they’re stepping into an enchanted European village — think Belle’s opening song in Beauty and the Beast — with sunlight streaming through towering oaks, pennant flags and cottage-like storefronts. ... more
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 nervous, get to... more
The transition to kindergarten is a big deal — whether you’re preparing your first child, the last in your brood or your cherished only. The biggest question on your mind is likely, “Is she ready?” Especially now, when it seems like kindergarten readiness is about more than being able to sit for story time and play nicely with other kids... more
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 convenience.... more
COZY AUTUMN VIBESIt’s easy to get in the back-to-school/fall spirit with copper hues and woodland critters. Target’s Cat & Jack brand includes a mustard-colored owl-print dress for toddler girls ($8) and an olive-green girls jumpsuit ($17.99). Meanwhile Boden is trotting out an embroidered fox shirt to match those fall pumpkins ($30).L’Amour... more
Even though school is just around the corner, these kids show how much fun it is to get out there and explore and play! Roman, 3, of New Brighton, at Al Flynn Park in Coon RapidsAdhira, 7, of Eagan, at Summer Fest in MinnetonkaNora, 4, of St. Paul, at Taylors Falls State ParkAddison, 5, and Alexis, 7, of Plymouth, at the Minnesota State... more
In the life of a kid, few things bring on such a strong range of feelings — from terror-tinged dread to excited anticipation and everything in between! Check out these stories to help your little ones emotionally prepare for the big day.The title character is an absolute charmer, a hero who’s bursting with confidence and excitement about starting... more
This naturally sweetened, baked oatmeal recipe features blueberries, wholesome oats, nuts and warming spices. And it makes big batch — just the thing to get you ready for those busy back-to-school days.Baked Blueberry OatmealOATMEAL2 cups old-fashioned oats2/3 cup roughly chopped pecans1/2 teaspoon salt2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1 teaspoon... more
A new school year is about to start. And that means some parents might be getting a little nervous about letting their children go into the halls of the unknown: Will my child fit in? Make friends? Be nice to others?No one ever wants to think of their child as the bully. While bullying is commonly defined as seeking to “harm, intimidate... more
I’ve always been a little … shall we say … existential? Even as a small child, I asked my mom about when the sun would blow up. She’d always tell me that it was so far into the future, it wasn’t even something we had to worry about. I worried about children 10,000 generations in the future anyway. What would happen to them? Turns... more
Daisy Finds Her Pack is the perfect back-to-school book for early elementary kids (or even preschoolers) because it 1) features adorable dogs; 2) celebrates the subtle art of making friends and gaining social skills; 3) it’s a project by not one, but two Minnesota Parent sales reps, author Kathie Smith and illustrator Michele Gillman. Bonus: It’s... more
It’s August! It’s time to enjoy the peak of the summer season. But it’s also time to start thinking about transitioning back to school.Very soon I’ll be back in my classroom, preparing for a new set of students and embarking on my 19th year as an educator! Throughout my teaching tenure, through both a combination of continuing education and... more
Is summer drawing to a close?If the State Fair is nearly here and Target has been selling Crayola products for weeks, I guess it is. I ask you, as I do every year, where did it all go? How did it go by so fast?And isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for parenting?And then there’s the way that summer ends — a too-soon-in-coming back-to-... more
Head injuries are a real issue in the pool, especially in competitive swimming. Fortunately, a Twin Cities company is working to change that locally — and around the world — with its revolutionary Hammer Head Swim Caps, which have recently received a slew of endorsements, including a nod from the American Swimming Coaches Association.... more
Do you remember how vast and infinite summer felt as a child? I wish the same for my children: the sense that they have an endless string of free days stretching out before them.Unstructured playtime.Staying up late, sleeping in.Getting to be a kid.We've kept outside commitments to a minimum. A week of VBS. T-ball (just an hour a week). And... more
One of the most special gifts we received after Kate’s birth was the board book Who Sang The First Song? along with an accompanying CD called “Sing: Creation Songs” by Ellie Holcomb.The illustrations blew me away.The lighting. The composition. The details.I was delighted to discover that the illustrator, Kayla Harren, lives near St. Paul. The... more
Oh, July! How we love your warmth and special brand of joy. These kids? They get it — always living life to the fullest!Felicity, 7, and Julianna, 5, in their Minneapolis backyard with a turtle they found in the alleyMiriam, 7, and Adeline, 4, of Maple Grove fishing near Exeland, WisconsinSovi and Kaius, both age 1, of Bloomington at Oak Hill Park... more
‘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 front of our... more
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 bar — or... more
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 and... more
Who doesn’t love food? Well, some kids, as it turns out. Or at least, they love a handful of bland meals and treat the rest like bowls of battery acid. The following books can teach a thing or two to picky eaters while also regaling that rare, heaven-sent specimen — the pint-sized food lover!In this age of and food... more
Lazy summer days call for easy, picnic-friendly snacks like these gluten-free muffins, which include walnuts, nut butter and even nut flour. They’re so filling you can even serve them for a quick breakfast!Paleo Banana Nut Muffins3 large eggs2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium)1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter... more
In 2004, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guaranteeing assistance to each public school child who receives special education and related services in the form of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). To be eligible for an IEP, a child must have one or more of the 13 disabilities listed in IDEA that... more
We were driving to pick up Remy and Eero at daycare when it came lilting on the radio. One, two, three, four …Tell me that you love me more.Ruby piped up from the back seat: “Hey, uh … don’t I know this song?”It took me a beat. I looked into the rearview mirror. I saw a young girl looking back at me. Not a baby. A wrecking ball to... more
For those of you who are regular readers of my column, you may have come to realize that I’m not an urban city dweller. Although these pages are published in the metro area, my monthly contribution to Minnesota Parent magazine originates several hours away from the hustle and bustle of big-city life. From my own little corner of the... more
Summer can be a tough time for food-insecure children. In fact, nearly half a million children, ages birth to 18, are at risk of hunger in Minnesota.Fortunately, Summer Eats Minnesota, a free mobile app, is in its third summer of operation, helping kids find free meals at neighborhood sites, offering breakfast, lunch, snacks and/or dinners... more
Where can you beat the heat with little ones this summer? Answer: The MiniSota Play Cafe in Champlin, founded by a local mother of two!  Here parents can sip cups of bottomless Peace Coffee ($3) while the kids explore “Minnesota in miniature,” including the City of Mini Grove — complete with a grocery store, hardware shop, hair salon,... more
We did it, guys: We published our first-ever Local Eats issue of Minnesota Parent! We’re so delighted to bring you this fun little romp through the Twin Cities food scene. Of course, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available in our local culinary mecca, which has been basking in James Beard awards and national-media accolades... more
I was ready to pile the kids into the van and head to Des Moines when I first heard about Lemon and Lace Studios' upcoming "Glitter and Glam Fairy Sessions."My daughters' love of fairies is matched only by their love of unicorns, and this one-of-a-kind photo shoot combines the two. Girls arrive and get transformed into fairies, choosing from... more
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have long been stereotyped as nerdy and, even worse, as a world only for boys. Here are some books that can help change those perceptions by celebrating the fun of STEM learning for all!Sometimes STEM-focused kids learn better through pictures and schematics than through narratives. This book... more
We love lavender lemonade! This refreshingly floral spin on a classic summer drink tastes lovely, looks pretty and — because this recipe doesn’t overdo the lavender — it’s kid-friendly, too! Find culinary lavender at Penzeys Spices in Minneapolis, St. Paul or Lakeville (in stores only) or at from... more
I knew I was officially a mom-dater when, sitting on the couch after the kids were asleep, I squealed after hearing the ding on my cell phone, alerting me that my new — dare I say friend? — had texted me back. We had met earlier that day at my daughter’s softball practice. She was the coach and, I was sure, the one who could be my new... more
I always thought the witching hour was just for brand-new babies. Maybe because when I was reading about it, I was trying to quell a squalling infant at 5 p.m. every day and had no space to think of anything else at all. But my kids are 6, 4 and 2, and the witch still visits. Walking in the door from school/daycare, making and putting... more
My first memories of camping are from when I was a young child in the early ’80s with my mom, dad and brother in our Volkswagen Westfalia Pop-Up Campervan. During my childhood summers, we took a couple of longer campervan trips — one traveling east and another west — and many shorter camping trips to Minnesota state parks. As my brother... more
Minnesota is home to many moms’ groups, both virtual and in real life.Groups just for dads, however, are in shorter supply. And yet fathers today, according to 2016 data from the Pew Research Center, are spending triple the amount of time parenting compared to the dads of the 1960s. (Mothers have seen a profound increase in their parenting time,... more
Welcome to our annual Outdoors Issue! As I write this, we’re in the middle of a fairly wet and cold spring in Minnesota. But fear not! This month’s magazine is designed to inspire you to jump into summer and the Great Outdoors with everything you’ve got. We’ve got parks for picnics and playdates; three Minnesota road trips; a cool, under... more
June is here! So it's finally time to say Happy Father's Day! But this year we're also honoring grandfathers, who play a special role in our kids' lives! Jack, 2, with his father and grandfather (Bobby and Mike) in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area WildernessFelix, 6, with his Grandpa Dave in BrainerdDreyson, 1, of New London, with his Great-... more
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 early 19th... more
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 entirely. “... more
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 lesser-known... more
We had a blast at The Big Bounce America today! To quote my 4-year-old, who recently lost her beloved pet turtle, Lula: "I had so much fun I forgot about Lula!"She declared it the "best day ever" as made our way back to the van, ice-cream treat in hand.  The set-up at Aquila Park in St. Louis Park is amazing. This is not a bounce... more
Need a quick and easy dessert that’s gluten free, but still super tasty? Check out the fastest, sweetest cobbler you’ll ever make, which we adapted using liveGfree cake mix (made with rice flour) available for less than $3 at Aldi.Peach Cobbler2 (15.25-ounce) cans sliced peaches in light syrup1 package yellow gluten-free or regular cake mix1/... more
I knew in my gut something was wrong, even though my son’s school was telling me he would catch up. I asked questions. I asked for help. Finally, in second grade, we had him tested; he was diagnosed with dyslexia, and our journey began.Our story is all too familiar for families across the country; one in five children has a learning... more
In honor of May, we’re celebrating not just moms on Mother’s Day, but also grandmothers, who bring our kids so much joy.Baur, 8, of Minnetonka, with his Grandma Po-PoAbel, 2 1/2, and Millie, 6 1/2, enjoy face painting with their Grandma Deborah in Minneapolis.Lamin, 3, of Savage goes fishing with his Grandma Laurie.Londyn, 3 months, of Rochester,... more
For more information on the asthma program at Children’s Minnesota, funded by a generous grant from Kohl's Cares, go to My son has asthma. What can we do to keep his symptoms under control during spring allergy season?A: Asthma affects 1 out of every 14 children in Minnesota. This inflammatory process causes airways in the... more
Did you know that reading — good old-fashioned reading — can help reduce stress and anxiety? According to a 2009 research study by the University of Sussex, people who read for only six minutes had lowered stress levels, including reduced heart rates and decreased levels of muscle tension. Six minutes! Even busy parents can find that... more
'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 spectrum. Nico’s... more
If you’re tired of checkers and chess, check out Chickapig, geared toward ages 8 and up.Its laser-cut birch plywood pieces — chicken-pigs, hay bales and a pooping cow — make for a refreshing change of pace in a market filled with plastic.This challenging but fun strategy game — apparently endorsed by musician Dave Matthews — requires two-... more
It’s May! If you’re a teacher, like me, you know this month absolutely flies by with special events, field trips, programs and activities. And I know we all feel it as parents, too! Our children (and those of us whose careers revolve around the school calendar) are certainly looking forward to the change of pace that accompanies summer break... more
It’s healthy for parents to take breaks from child rearing, especially when the parents involved have children with special needs. However, simply jumping on a babysitter app or care site doesn’t work for families who require specialized, on-demand care.Fortunately, two Minnesota moms have created a first-of-its-kind disability care-booking... more
Dolly Lowery couldn’t take it anymore. The Excelsior mom had spent 10 years taking her son to more than 1,200 appointments to treat his severe dyslexia — and nothing was really working.So she made it her mission to find her own solution. During her research, she met a Florida-based physician, Dr. Nelson Mane, who specializes in treating... more
Kids love to learn and explore; in fact, that’s their most important job! But some parents unwittingly discourage their children’s curiosity by telling them to ignore the differences they notice in others. That approach can rob children (who can’t simply turn off their observations) of the chance to understand and appreciate the fascinating... more
Welcome, parents and all, to our third-annual Special Needs Issue! I’m so glad you’re here. And I’m delighted that, three years ago, we decided to build an issue around this theme. Although not every story in this month’s magazine touches on special needs, our focus on this topic has been an amazing learning experience for our writers and... more
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 difficult... more
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 parents... more
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 nine-week... more
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 is when a... more
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 Minneapolis... more
Instagram is teeming with curated Easter baskets -- the kind that are color coordinated and costly. But if you ask me, you only need two elements for a winsome basket: a book and a bunny. I've been playing around with this combo as Easter nears. Check out these darling duos. Richard Scarry and Teagan White (who is local!) are two of... more
The runaway success of Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted has ushered in a golden age of children’s books about inspiring real-life women. No matter what your kid’s interests are, you can find a relevant story with a female role model. The magic of this biography has to be experienced to be believed. It reads like the Pulitzer-winning poet’s own... more
If your family is into crafting, you might consider the Craft-tastic Make Together “Who We Are” Poster Kit from Ann Williams. Families choose from three different designs, cut out the words that describe their family and decoupage them however they choose on the poster. $19.99 • more
Years ago, I was a member of a strategic planning committee that was revamping our school district’s mission statement. The process was empowering and thoughtful and helped our district faculty and staff clarify the commitments we wanted to make to our students. I was impressed by one of my colleagues, who took the process home and... more
When you’re a parent — and you’re away from your kid a lot — it’s not easy to turn off your phone. What if there’s an emergency and your child really needs you?On the other hand, research shows that an always-on mentality isn’t healthy.Will you really gain all the benefits of that massage, yoga class or date night if you’ve got one eye turned... more
In the midst of the full and crazy life of being a busy parent, it’s easy to get bogged down by negative experiences. I’m totally guilty of this in those moments when I find myself dwelling on …The one bit of critical feedback I’ve received, instead of many positive ones.The batch of burnt cookies I made, instead of all of the other... more
Some toys start with your kids in toddlerhood and continue to be engaging for a surprising number of years. Alpha-Bots, which transform from letters into chunky beady-eyed robots, fit that bill for our resident toy tester, who loved them as a tot and still enjoys them at age 10½! • $29.99 more
Brain tumors, malignant or benign, can strike anyone at any age without reason, and there are really no precautions people can take to prevent them.That’s the strange and frustrating thing about brain tumors, said Stacy Zwerdling of Lakeville who was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor (when her son was 10 months old) and miraculously survived.... more
Girls on the Run Twin Cities started seven years ago with just 24 girls, six coaches and two sites. Today — due to high demand for physical-activity-based youth development for girls — GOTR has grown to more than 3,000 girls at 200 Minnesota sites.And that means the program is in need of more volunteer coaches — 850 to be exact.GOTR’s 10... more
Getting down with a heaping helping of saucy, tasty, slurpable pasta: It’s a rite of passage!Reese, 9 months, of St. Louis ParkLaksh, 3, of New BrightonAdrian, 8, of MinneapolisSophia, 11, of EdinaGrace, 10 months, of Maple PlainWe have a winner! Congrats to Rachel Duclos of St. Louis Park, who won a $100 gift card to the Broders’ family of... more
Children’s books can be wonderful tools for teaching all sorts of important lessons — or they can just be funny. Here are a few that will send your little ones (and maybe even you!) into hysterics. Underwear will always be hilarious to kids — sometimes you just have to lean into it. The little furry guy in this book expresses his strong... more
If you love the chocolatey, powdered-sugar-coated snack known as Muddy Buddies, then you need to try these moist and flavorful brownies, topped with a thick, peanut butter layer that’s filled with crushed graham crackers and dusted with powdered sugar. Brownie Layer1 cup unsalted butter2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1 cup sugar1 cup brown... more
As I write this, the Twin Cities is yet again under siege — the snowy kind — with an inch or more falling per hour. Roads are only just passable. Schools, of course, are cancelled. My son is parked in front of his device, playing Fortnite with his other school friends, who are (thank goodness for me) doing the same. Right now, it... 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 to the... more
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 commit or... more
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 featured... more
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 connect with... more
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 the screen.... more
In February, even the hardiest of Minnesotans sometimes need reminders that snow and cold can be fun. The following books, most of which were written by Minnesotans, celebrate the season our state is famous for!Written by Cloquet-based author Katherine Johnson, this simple story about a dance-loving bear captures the feeling of... more
Let’s face it: While mac and cheese is a classic, it isn’t always the healthiest option for dinner. Luckily, the addition of butternut squash (a great source of vitamin A) blends beautifully with the rich, creamy cheese of your choice to make this nutty adaptation a new family favorite. Butternut Squash Mac &... more
The world of youth sports can be a wild one if you allow it. Demanding schedules and first-time challenges for kids — and parents — can create a rollercoaster of emotions. There will be joy, but also sometimes feelings of defeat and even loneliness among parents. I’ve experienced this world from all sides. I’m a sports parent. After retiring... more
I was one of more than 10,000 pediatricians in attendance at the 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference in November.We spent our days discussing research and new recommendations. This year, I noticed digital media and screen time was a prominent topic.Here are some of the most important messages from the conference:Q ... more
I'm vain, and haven’t slept in years, so I’m constantly trying to preserve what unlined skin I have left — without needles or lasers. My new fave is Little Barn Apothecary’s Calendula + Lycopene Hydration Mask and Mild Exfoliant — one of the few I can tolerate with dry, sensitive skin. I’m noticeably glowier after 20 minutes with no... more
Self-help guru Gretchen Rubin — in Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness, coming out March 5 — shares the tale of her year spent searching for satisfaction and then translates her findings into more than 150 short, clutter-clearing ideas you can use a la carte to conquer concrete challenges... more
I want to begin this column by expressing my gratitude for the richness and fullness of my life. I have so many blessings — four healthy children, a comfortable home, a secure job, a loving husband and strong network of great friends. Compared to so many others in this world, I live an abundant and privileged life. But, as good as I... more
Did you have children solely because it would get you back into LEGOs and other connecting blocks? OK, maybe not. But isn’t it fun to watch kids get creative? Check out these budding snapologists!Kieran, 6, of BlaineMaddy, 10, and Jordan, 12, of HugoSebastian, 5, and Tatiana, 8, of MinneapolisLogan, 10, and Lillian, 6, of WaconiaRoman, 3... more
When you’re a parent, it’s hard to avoid the copious amounts of plastic that come into your life, especially during holidays.This year for Easter, however, we’ve found a way to help you green things up a bit.Meet Eco Eggs! These reusable eggs are made from 100 percent renewable plant-based ingredients — not petroleum, like traditional plastics. Of... more
Music education has been proven to be beneficial for child development. Plus, it’s fun!And now, adding to the wide array of classes available locally, three different music-learning centers in the Twin Cities are offering two new programs — Canta y Baila Conmigo (a Spanish-immersion music class for ages birth to 5) and Rhythm ... more
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 leave you... more
When it comes to outings with kids, it’s hard to beat taking your little creatures to see all the wild things at the zoo. Just look at these big fans of zoos around the state!Charlotte, 3, of St. PaulAmelia, 3, of WoodburyMalina, 5, of KassonMila, 2, and Blake, 4, of LakevilleHannah, 8, of VictoriaEzra, 1, of Hastings more
One of the toughest tasks of childhood is learning to deal with feelings. We come into the world screaming at the top of our lungs, and then spend years learning to express ourselves in less, shall we say, vociferous ways. Here are few books that can help kids gain control.Although kids’ main job is to learn, some feel like they have to be perfect... more
Tiffany King’s new book, Eat at Home Tonight, is perfect for busy families. Check out the meal-planning guru’s pizza-inspired sloppy joe, made with a ton of veggies — and sausage and pepperoni instead of beef — plucked from her Everyone’s on a Different Schedule Tonight chapter. Royal Feast Pizza Sloppy Joes1/2 cup diced onion1/2 cup... more
My son isn’t a picky eater. At home, he’ll eat anything — sushi, salmon, whole wheat spaghetti. He likes spinach. And quinoa. Even Brussels sprouts. About the only thing he won’t eat is his mom’s turkey meatloaf. But to be fair, his father won’t either. It’s not very good. I’m aware how lucky we are that we’ve never had to beg... more
Q: We all have colds (again). How can we keep our household from being constantly ill?A: Viral upper respiratory illnesses (colds) are par for the course here in Minnesota. Your child starts to sniffle, and before you know it, the whole family is sick. Most “colds” start with nasal congestion and a sore throat and then move into a cough that... more
One of my faults is my firecracker temper. Meditate With Me: A Step-By-Step Mindfulness Journey, geared toward ages 4 to 8, has been awesome for my children — and me — because its 40 instructive pages help us all practice mindfulness.$17.99 • more
Shadows in the Forest, according to one of our toy-testing mamas, is a board game winner! “It says ages 8 and up, but Kira is 5, and she was able to roll the (glow-in-the-dark) dice and count the spaces to move. The rest of us were shadows — the strategic part.” You simply work as a team to hide adorable “shadowling” figures in the game-board... more
Over the past year, there have been too many headlines featuring tragedies, destruction and disaster. When I’ve heard reports of tragic news — like I’m sure many of you have — I experienced sadness, stress, fear and worry. With reports of mass shootings, corruption and disaster, it can feel like our world is falling apart.I know there’s a lot of... more
This game of living — for months on end in an ice box — is just getting going, folks. Check out these parent-penned survival strategies for fixing cabin fever and embracing your own personal polar vortex. Brooklyn Park Meghan Joy Yancy (above with daughter Makkedah)INFLUENCER, meghanjoyyancy.comMom to: Makkedah, 9; Samaria, 8;... more
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 way to... more
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Oh, how true, how true! As a Type A gal, this is one of the most challenging parts of parenting for me: Here’s this amazing little guy who I love so dearly, and I can’t and shouldn’t protect him (the very... 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? Except for... more
What a thrill the girls had tonight! Anja Breiehagen and her parents came to town for a book signing at Gertens. And let me tell you, this 14-year-old from South Minneapolis -- the star of the bestselling Wish book series I recently blogged about -- is such a gem. She was absolutely wonderful with the girls, who dressed as Anja... more
Happy holidays from all of us at Minnesota Parent — and from these families who shared their favorite seasonal snapshots. Adorbs! Carson, 7, and Ethan, 9, of WoodburyRoya, 1 1/2, and Ty, 3 of Prior LakeGavin, 5, and Silas, 3 — and their pooch, Oscar — of Spring Lake ParkEli, 3, and Lydia 1 1/2, of LakevilleQuinn, 6, and Cora, 2, of New Prague more
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 of five (... more
I’m always on the lookout for flavorful, nutrient-dense food to fuel my growing children. These delicious homemade meatballs have become a staple in my rotation along with several other recipes from the bestselling cookbook Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow: Quick Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes. Turkey Trot MeatballsINGREDIENTS1 tablespoon olive... more
With the tragic increase in gun violence in schools, many children feel anxious about the safety of their environments — home, school, community, the world. Caregivers are called to both reassure and protect their children, and also provide honest information about the dangers of our world. When a child says he’s too scared to go to school... more
Q: Help! I think my child is seriously constipated!A: Constipation is more frequent in kids than most of us think, and it comes in many forms — infrequent hard stools, but also large stools, intermittent abdominal pain and even urination and bedwetting problems. If you’re not sure if your child is suffering from constipation, check out the... more
Want to ratchet a parent’s blood pressure up about 30 points? Ask if they relish the idea of boarding a plane with tiny, sticky humans who consider themselves conscientious objectors to sitting down, inside voices and not kicking seatbacks. Things I have feared — besides my very own mortality, but perhaps with the same heightened... more
It’s booked — three nights at a vacation rental on the North Shore of Lake Superior for me and three of my great friends. Whoo-hoo!!!!This will be our third-annual Northwoods “girls weekend” getaway. Why is this such a big deal?Well, as a mother of four, I spent a long time in the thick of the baby years.During that incredible but long... more
The European Christmas Market in St. Paul opens this Friday (Nov. 30)! It is SUCH a charming holiday gathering. If you're looking for a taste of Germany right in the Twin Cities -- or a #Christmasgoals snap for Instagram -- this is for you. This free event is based on the traditional open-air Christkindlmarkts that pop up across... more
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. But the... more
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 vacation is... more
Spirituality can be one of the toughest things to discuss with kids because so much of faith comes from the heart. These selections — though they don’t represent the intricacies of the world’s many religions — are a good place to start. “Grandma, does God live in the city?” a boy asks one morning at breakfast. “Yes,” the matriarch explains. “... more
When it comes to helping little kids learn about money management, a good place to start is by using three jars for spend, save and give. But doling out that money, week after week, year after year (especially for multiple kids) just becomes another thing to do.That is, unless you automate it with an app. Right now, we’re loving the free... more
A Minnesota couple’s mission to embrace winter has led to a bestselling book series, a global movement – and a happy, well-adjusted teen in South Minneapolis. The trio is traveling across the Twin Cities this holiday season to promote the new addition to their series – book No. 6, The Polar Bear Wish, published by Random House and touted as “... more
There’s something about matching family Christmas pajamas that captures my heart. It would land right in the center of a Venn diagram comprised of the circles “family bonding,” “memory making” and “holiday fun.”For me, that’s a sweet spot.A few companies are well established in this area (and have their own hashtagged nicknames to prove it), but I... more
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 really cool-... more
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 player,... more
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. Special “... more
Savor the flavors of autumn with this delicious recipe. You can even use a slow cooker to make it easy! Bonus: As the cider mulls, your house will smell fantastic — just the thing for a weekend treat or a tasty contribution to any holiday gathering.Super-easy spiced ciderIngredients1 gallon apple cider4 whole cinnamon sticks½ teaspoon ground... more
“You aren’t from Minnesota, are you?” This was the first question my kind, well-intentioned instructor asked after I hobbled across the ice for my first adult skating lesson. I was born in Wisconsin, which may explain why I’m 40 years old and only just now learning to ice skate — or you might say — learning how to fall. On my... more
The Happy Light Lucent LED by Verilux delivers the recommended 10,000 lux units for helping ease symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. We like that it looks like an iPad and not a medical apparatus. Learn more about light therapy at$39.95–$49.95 • more
It’s November, parenting comrades! Bring on the increased darkness, the snow and the cold and the onset of the holiday craziness.It’s time for everything to get … HARDER! Yee-hah!I wish I were kidding. But I’m not. These are just some of the challenges that come with this hectic time of year and the seasonal shift to winter in Minnesota.It is what... more
“Mom, watch me!”“MOM! Come here.”“Watch me! Watch me!”“Mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM.”When I hear this — as many of us parents so often do — I sometimes want to scream: “WHAAAAAT!?”It always seems to happen the second I’ve just started something or when I’m just about done with something (but not quite) or when I’m just TIRED.This is why it’s so... more
The Minnesota Ski Areas Association is again offering a statewide passport program that provides every fourth grader the opportunity to ski for free.  A $24.95 fee covers printing and shipping of the photo ID and entitles fourth graders to a minimum of two free lift tickets at 18 Minnesota ski resorts (that’s a minimum of 36 tickets),... more
Right now in Minnesota there’s a critical shortage of foster parents and adoptive parents. On any given day, there are more than 10,000 Minnesota children in foster care, and, as of this printing, 820 kids are waiting to be adopted. “Families who adopt through foster care are meeting a direct, urgent need in our community... more
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 to a... more
We all, adults and children, have big emotions. The only difference is children have no filter when it comes to determining the best way to express what they’re feeling in the moment, which may result in unwanted behavior. Our culture often teaches children to “get over it” or “suck it up.” These adult responses to kids’ emotions often... more
We’ve found the paw-fect way to entertain your little animal lovers, including some of the cutest books of the year, plus two stories by local authors and a cat-lover classic to boot.Little Fox has all the best dance moves, so Big Cat tries to be exactly like Little Fox before the big dance party. But it simply doesn’t work, even when Big Cat... more
Lay a solid foundation of protein in your kids’ tummies — before trick-or-treating — with these whimsical mummies. They take time, of course (about 45 minutes). But at least they don’t require Pinterest-worthy pastry-chef skills.INGREDIENTS1 8-ounce can refrigerated crescent dinner roll dough 2½ slices American cheese, cut into 10 strips (... more
My childhood bedroom windows faced south and east, and in the spring, our lilac bushes bloomed and the apple tree blossomed. The breeze would blow, carrying a heady, sweet-spicy smell through my window and over my blue-and-white gingham comforter. I laid my freshly washed, braided hair across my flannelly Care Bears pillowcase. I was nestled into... more
I highly recommend this new book by Patty Palmer, the founder of the Deep Space Sparkle site and the creator of The Sparkle Club, an online community of teachers around the world. Draw, Paint, Sparkle: Creative Projects from an Elementary Art Teacher features 25 kid-tested lessons in drawing and painting, all geared toward ages 5 to... more
As a kindergarten teacher and mother of four school-age children, I often find myself capitalizing on natural learning opportunities and teachable moments outside of school. There are many simple, yet important ways we, as parents, can cultivate enriching pockets of time with our children — at home, in the outdoors or on-the-go — to promote... more
Fans of the Okee Dokee Brothers, rejoice! Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander are back with a new album after a two-year hiatus — following the third release in their Adventure Album Series, Saddle Up, which followed Can You Canoe? and Through the Woods.What’s the theme? Winter!No, this album isn’t based on an epic adventure to a specific region... more
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 day for... more
What parent or guardian, at some point, hasn’t doubted his or her ability to parent well? Add a family crisis or a child’s behavioral health challenges, and that doubt can morph into debilitating shame. Worse yet, is fear of seeking help.   As a licensed professional clinic counselor who works with children and teens, I often encounter... more
Nix the nippers and use the finer, nuanced blades of cuticle scissors for trimming kids’ nails. See better and cut more accurately. No boo-boos, owies or bandages, just salon-worthy mani/pedis.  $6.29 • more
We love this line of Little Feminist products, including board books, playing cards and, perhaps best of all, a 500-piece puzzle featuring illustrated portraits of real women who have made history.$14 • more
When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember a colleague approaching me and saying she thought I was going to be a “boy mom.” My husband and I didn’t know what we were having, and I didn’t have any real strong intuition that the child I was carrying was a boy or a girl. Truthfully, at that time, I had a hard time adjusting to the... more
Caprese salad is a go-to side this time of year when tomatoes and basil are in season. But what about substituting peaches for a pop of orange — and a touch of sweetness — to lure in the kids? PEACH CAPRESE1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil2 white peaches, chilled2 yellow peaches, chilledTwo 4-ounce fresh... more
The No. 7 book on Amazon’s bestseller list right now, trailing shortly behind Omarosa’s Manigault Newman’s White House tell-all “Unhinged,” is a children’s book called “First Day Jitters” about a girl embarking on the first day at her new school.When her dad wakes her that morning, she slumps beneath her blanket and declares that she hates school... more
Traveling with kids isn’t always easy — whether you head to the cabin, visit the Badger State or even take a staycation, like these local families. But it’s worth it for the memories (and photos, too)! more
“Whether you think you can — or you think you can’t — you’re right.”This beloved self-help adage makes sense to me. They’re words to live by for sure. But could we extend that saying to how we treat our kids? Whether you think your kids can or can’t (do something), you’re right!As we move into back-to-school season, that time of year... more
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! That... more
Going to class can be intimidating and scary for kiddos. We’ve pulled these books together to provide emotionally savvy, mindful and even whimsical ways to talk about school.When cautious “little landlubbers” get on the pirate’s bus, he doesn’t accept their fear of the first day of school: “There’ll be no blubberin’ on me bus. Pirates don’t get... more
One thing that almost always grows well in a Minnesota garden is zucchini. This recipe, one of my childhood favorites, is a creative and delicious way to enjoy the harvest of summer squash, green or yellow. You can just pretend it’s healthy! Nana’s Zucchini Chocolate Cake INGREDIENTS2 1/2 cups flour4 tablespoons cocoa powder1/2... more
Last winter I lied to my math class for four whole weeks. Let me explain: In fourth grade we have our students take a pretest, and then, using the results, we group them by how much they already know about the concepts. Last winter, I taught the “high” group. I loved moving at a fast pace and throwing out puzzle challenges. My... more
I remember a few things about my first day of kindergarten. My pleated, plaid wool skirt itched. My mom made me pin my bus schedule to my pink sweater vest. My teacher was Mrs. Seath, whom I immediately loved because she had long, curly black hair that she could whip into a braid, lightning fast, secured with a bright scrunchie. Even though I... more
Believe it or not, the start of the school year is fast approaching, with the familiar promise of sharp pencils, clean classrooms and new educational experiences! For me, this year brings the startling realization that my four children will be entering first, third, fifth and eighth grades. They’re growing up so quickly. And I’ll be... more
Fraser — Minnesota’s largest provider of autism and early childhood mental health services — has opened its seventh clinic in the Twin Cities. Billed as the first of its kind in the nation, the 27,000-square-foot clinic in Woodbury features spaces designed to accommodate the sensitivities of children and adults on the autism spectrum with... more
Have you heard of Ebooks Minnesota?This online collection of 4,000-and-counting digital fiction and non-fiction books can be accessed through any browser on any device by simply clicking “Read This.” You don’t need to sign in, create a membership or pay attention to any due dates. You can — but don’t have to — create a profile to help... more
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 glitter... more
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
Minnesota Parent’s fifth-annual summer kick-off party at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis was a blast — despite the on-and-off rain. Just look at these troupers! See you next year. Learn more at more
Is anyone else having trouble staying focused lately?I don’t know about you, but this year I’ve had the WORST case of spring fever! All I want to do is be outside — just soaking it all in. Gardening, going on walks, hitting the trails, the beach, the pool, the soccer field, the tennis court, lakes, breweries, ice cream parlors. All of it... more
What does your family do to stay occupied when it’s blazing hot outside? Sometimes, the best option is to stay inside and create. Let this list inspire you and the kids to make something new! What do nunchucks, banjoes and cowboy spurs have in common? You can make them all using this ingenious book. We love its wild, unique ideas — air... more
Ice Cream Scoop PopsHaving cake and ice cream this summer? Don’t waste valuable party time by scooping tableside. Instead make these delightful grab-and-go treats ahead of time. Or better yet, skip the cake — like we did — and just make these for fun with the kids. All you need, besides ice cream and toppings, is little wooden tasting spoons.... more
When a child falls off a bike and breaks an arm, parents know what to do.But when a child’s pain and distress are on the inside, it can be hard to know when to reach out for help.As a psychologist who specializes in working with children and families, I’ve heard many parents ask, “Is this behavior normal? Or is this just a phase?”It’s an... more
How long can you go without using your phone? After declaring “device-free dinners” at our house, I decided to conduct a monthlong iPhone experiment: For an entire month, I would limit the use of my phone and see what happened.Initially, I planned to restrict my phone use to its intended purpose — making phone calls. However, after realizing... 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
We planned on living in our current house forever. It’s midcentury modern, and has the elusive fourth bedroom. It’s in a great location — we can walk to a small grocery store when we’re out of coffee (a true emergency if there ever was one) — and there’s a splash pad across the street. Most notably, it was here that I started to invest in... more
Lightweight, water-repellant and designed to keep a parent’s hands free, this mega-size hamper bag (22 inches tall and 14 inches around when expanded) attaches easily to any stroller — or you can use the shoulder straps to carry it like a backpack. Bonus: It’s machine washable. (Regularly $38, these were on sale at press time for $18.99.)... more
If your child goes to daycare, it can be hard to be apart all day long. Why not stay connected with a special token of your love — a locket!We’re in love with these little gems from The Locket Sisters, two local moms (and actual sibs), Amy and Allyssa, who handcraft lockets for kids as well as adults at their art studio in Northeast... more
Looking for fun summer activities with low price tags? Then check out the many free camps offered by The Sanneh Foundation, the St. Paul-based nonprofit youth-development organization founded by former World Cup soccer star, Tony Sanneh.Most of the camps — offered in the morning or afternoon and even some evenings — last 2.5 hours and... more
July is here! It’s high time to experience all that summer has to offer in Minnesota in this short, but amazing season — ball games, picnics, time near the water, camping in the woods and going on day hikes. The challenge, especially in our fair state, is to repel those uninvited guests that frequently make themselves present during our time... more
I know life is messy.In fact, becoming a parent has been a crash course in learning that life is really messy, figuratively and literally.But why oh, why, tell me, did my car have to die in rush-hour traffic in downtown Minneapolis in 90-degree heat, 75 minutes before my son was due to take the stage with 100 other kids at his choir concert in the... more
Pets have a way of bringing out the best in kids, don’t you think? (Above: Charlie, 1, of Maple Grove, with Vince)Bernadette, 3 months, of South St. Paul, with VElla, 6, of Farmington, with Burn-ELily, 5, and Henry, 2, of Lakeville, with ButtersLink, 6, of Woodbury, with Rocket Booster Fire FaceNoah, 4, and Natalee, 10 months, of Shakopee,... more
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 lives had... more
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” groans at bay.... more
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. And... more
June is a great month to pack up and find somewhere outside to hang out and play. But don’t forget to bring a book for down time and summer reading!We’ve fallen completely in love with this simply illustrated and hilarious adventure-tracker from Wee Society. Included are stickers, postcards, maps, drawing pages and even a fantastic adventure... more
Tomato and Couscous Salad4 large tomatoes2/3 cup tomato juice2/3 cup couscous2/3 cup boiling water1/3 cup raisinsHandful of basil leaves, choppedHandful of flat-leaf parsley, torn (optional)Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides.Put the seeds and the flesh into a small bowl with the tomato juice and stir.Place the couscous in a... more
As I write this, spring is in full swing and my house and yard are a mess. With all of us running in and out of the house, it’s even more chaotic and debris-filled than the winter months when we were holed up with books, screens and baking projects.Now — with our entire yard being used as part of our living space — I keep thinking I should... more
Well, our winter in Minnesota was certainly relentless. But we survived! “Spring” didn’t exactly start on cue in March, but I’m not looking back. When I flip my calendar to the month of June, I’m in summer mode — if the weather cooperates or not!Summertime is precious to me. Because I’m an educator, every June I experience a metaphorical... more
Discover, invent and build with the latest book from science educator Jack Challoner — Maker Lab Outdoors: 25 Super Cool Projects — focusing on projects for school-age kids that can be done outside and/or that emphasize the earth and environment. Heads up: Two more books in the series — Junior Maker and Star Wars Maker Lab — are coming out in July... more
LaToya Lewis, a St. Paul mother of two, has created a brand new stylish clothing line — Uniquely Regal — to help meet the sensory needs of children and teens who have autism, anxiety, ADHD, Down syndrome and sensory processing disorders.Her signature items include super-cute weighted polo shirts, darling compression dresses and... more
Aww, just look at your little horticulture fans! Now who’s ready for actual spring? (Above: Sam, 8, Minnetonka)Dominik, 2, Minneapolis Photo by Anna Ligocki PhotographyAmelia, 2, Woodbury Leo, 4, Spring Park Chloe, 2, Minneapolis Photo by Kari Tribble of Avari BeautyWesley, 4, Robbinsdale more
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 favorite part... more
Ensuring the financial future of a child with special needs is an important task. An effectively designed plan can provide the support and maintenance needed to help your child live a full and happy life. Many children who have a special need or disability will at some point qualify for and receive public assistance — such as SSI (... more
Mother’s Day has been a national holiday in the United States for over a century. It was founded by Anna Jarvis, who organized the first informal observance of Mother’s Day in 1908 in honor of her mother’s wish to start a day to memorialize and honor mothers for their work and service to others.Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis (often called... more
SPARK, the largest genetic study of autism ever in the U.S., is seeking DNA from individuals with autism and their family members to expand the understanding of the genetic aspects of the disorder.Enrollment is simple, non-invasive (a saliva sample) and can be done from home.The University of Minnesota is one of 25 ... more
Nature is the ideal classroom.That’s the thinking behind Tinkergarten, a new outdoor-based, play-focused program for ages 18 months to 8 years, now being offered at select locations in the Twin Cities.Classes, organized by local leaders who are trained online, typically run for eight weeks and cost participants $17.50 to $... more
When our son was in preschool, he didn’t seem to see race.His dad and I were always so proud when he would describe a black person as “the purple guy” because of his purple shirt. His best friend was, in fact, black, and a girl.What a wonderful world, I thought. Our son, who attended a school far more diverse than I ever... more
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 of what to... more
Looking for a quick, easy and satisfying weeknight meal for your family?  We tried the make-ahead version of this recipe and loved it!SHEET-PAN CHICKEN FAJITAS8 small flour tortillas2 bell peppers 1 small onion1 cup cherry tomatoes2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 3 tablespoons oil1 teaspoon chili powder1 teaspoon ground cumin1... more
Does your kid burn through shoes in a matter of weeks? Then EasyKicks, featuring Nike and Converse styles, might be just the thing. With a $20-per-month subscription, you’re entitled to unlimited, swap-out ordering of sizes 4C–7Y (for ages 2–10). You can keep one pair of a shoes at a time, but you can reorder as often as you want for brand-new... more
As a working mom with four busy elementary school-age kids, I know what a challenge it can be to orchestrate regular family meals — with freshly prepared food. In my household, I’m the executive meal planner, grocery-getter and cook. On top of these responsibilities, comes the challenge of timing, coordinating and making a meal for... more
Need a new place to frolic this spring? Check out these two stops in Golden Valley:Brookview Backyard, an awesome indoor playground, is now open seven days a week in the city’s brand-new community center.It includes a main area designed for ages 2 to 12, plus a separate spot for 2- to 5-year-olds. Admission is $4–$5 (free for kids younger than 2).... more
Wow! Your kids love their books — including reading with you, dear parents and grandparents, to themselves and even (awww) to each other! (Above: Cooper, 11 months, of Fridley)Eli, 3, and Rory, 5, of Blue EarthJagger, 2, of EaganStephanie of Monticello with her sons, Rowan, 3, Spencer, 2, and Dexter, 5Tatiana, 4, with Sebastian and Amelia, both 4... more
“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 not packed... more
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 Summer at... more
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, white... more
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, including in... more
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
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 and zip... more
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 a black... more
Just when we think we’ve seen it all in the world of children’s lit, we’re surprised yet again by fresh new story lines — and incredible illustrations — that we just can’t resist! Check out these enchanting tales for some entirely new ways to look at the world.The Word CollectorLots of people like to gather things — for Jerome, it’s words, big and... more
It seems like the pace of life is increasing every day. While some of us may greet life in the fast lane with open arms, others are left struggling to acclimate quickly. Children with executive functioning problems (or other disorders, such as anxiety or ADHD) can face special challenges, particularly at school. Here’... more
Chances are, you’re distracted while reading this. You’re running on a constant underlying level of anxiety while scanning through the never-ending to-do list in your head. I see women of all ages with a variety of life responsibilities every day in the office, and I’ve noted a common theme — we’re all stretched thin and stressed out. ... more
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 of the... more
CRISPY ROASTED CHICKPEAS2 15-ounce cans chickpeas2 tablespoons olive oil3/4 teaspoon salt2 to 4 teaspoons spices or finely chopped fresh herbs, such as chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, cumin, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme — or other favorite spices and herbs (see seasoning ideas below)INSTRUCTIONSHeat... more
In a few weeks, it will be 12 years since my husband and I stood in front of a Bahamian minister — in what was generously described by our travel agent as a “garden,” next to the swim-up bar at an all-inclusive resort — and said our “I do’s.” It’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years since either of us made out with a stranger in a club,... more
If you’ve got a kid who likes creative writing — or if you’re a teacher of storytelling at any level — The Creativity Project: No Rules. Anything Goes. Awesometastic Storybuilding is for you. A whopping 44 authors and children’s book creators were asked to respond to two different writing “prompts” (challenges) and were then required to submit two... more
Early on in my parenting journey, between diaper changes and feedings, I found my way to the mama-blog sector of the world wide web. After reading a magazine article that highlighted a crafty, hobby-farming mama (Amanda Blake Soule) and her blog, I took to the Internet and found that — from behind a screen in my own little corner of the... more
Looking to spice things up in the music department with your kids?Go global with Siama Matuzungidi, an acclaimed Minneapolis-based musician originally from Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with his musical and life partner Dallas M. Johnson.On March 23, the couple — “Papa Siama” and “Auntie Dallas” (above) — will release of The Land of... more
I'm a big fan of the phenomenon of “camp.”Camp, as I’ve known it so far with my son, doesn’t look anything like the camps I knew as a kid — involving two weeks spent away in the woods in rustic cabins with counselors, swim buddies and campfire songs.To me, modern-day camp is day camp — a glorious (if somewhat costly) invention created to help... more
Got a curious kid? Curious Jane: Science + Design + Engineering for Inquisitive Girls is a cabin-fever cure-all for ages 6 to 11 with exciting activities such as making bath bombs, constructing a strand of DNA (with jelly beans and licorice) and dusting for fingerprints.$16.95 •  more
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, bundling... more
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 same... more
It’s late afternoon and your children come home from school exhausted, weighed down like turtles by school bags full of homework.What do you do? Insist they do their homework? Of course!The best available evidence shows that the more conscientious children are about doing their homework, the better they do ... more
Q: I recently read that sleep problems can be related to ADHD. Should we be looking into sleep therapy for our son, who has an ADHD diagnosis?A: Sleep deprivation can sometimes be confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. But ADHD on its own can also cause sleep problems, which... more
As parents, we have our work cut out for us. We give of ourselves in so many ways, caring for our children and nurturing relationships with those we love, all while keeping up with our responsibilities of work and home.Indeed, parenthood is a service of giving and caring.To sustain this type of lifestyle — that’s... more
Do you have a fourth-grader?If so, this is your year to get outside, starting this winter and continuing through summer.First: Thanks to a new program by the Minnesota Ski Areas Association, fourth-graders can ski for free at member ski areas during the 2017-18 season.Simply sign up for the 4th Grade Passport Program.... more
We asked for photos of your young girls being silly, fearless, wild, stubborn, proud and strong. Oh, wow, you delivered. Rock on! (Above: Jenna, 4, of Carver, photo by Nicole LaCoste Photgraphy)Araliya, 5, and Amaya, 3, of Brooklyn ParkAria, 3, of Ham LakeAudrey, 3, of BlaineCaitlyn, 3, of OtsegoEva, 8, Lila, 6, and Tess, 4, of ShakopeeSelma, 3,... more
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 smell a... more
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 with an... more
We love making mini pizzas with the kids! And we’ve recently found a way to make them a bit healthier by using whole wheat flatbread. We like Flatout Light wraps, which have 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 14 carbs and only 90 calories per Flatout.Traditional white-dough pizza crust has just 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 24 carbs and... more
Women have faced big challenges throughout history, including, of course, right now. But females — of all ages — have also achieved amazing things throughout the centuries. Why not explore those stories, not just with your daughters, but also your sons? These awesome books will make it easy!Strong Is the New PrettyGirls from 4 to 19 years old... more
When my son was in second grade, it became clear that he was struggling to read. Despite the fact that he was curious, loved to learn and seemed truly interested in reading, he appeared to be in need of special education. So he ended up in a special reading room. Unfortunately, after several months, his reading skills did not... more
Q: Are stevia sweeteners safe for kids?A: Stevia, also known as stevia leaf extract, is an increasingly popular sweetener in the food and beverage market. Often billed as an alternative to other sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda), stevia is derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia, is one of... more
Q: What cures toddler halitosis? His teeth are clean!A: Bad breath can be caused by a few factors — diet, dental hygiene, certain respiratory tract infections or, more rarely, systemic illnessesDietary factors include foods, such as onions or garlic; and on the adult side (but also possibly teenagers) — coffee, cigarettes or chewing tobacco. ... more
Once upon a time, I was a young, fit and competitive athlete. As a grownup in my early 20s, I continued to exercise, running 5Ks, half-marathons and assisting the high school track team, which kept me healthy and active during the first few years of my marriage and teaching career.Then, in my mid-20s, my body started running a different kind of a... more
All hair is good hair. That’s the motto of Melissa Taylor, a local mama, professional stylist and the owner of The Beauty Lounge salon in Northeast Minneapolis.Her mission — in addition to running a full-service hair and makeup salon — is to help Twin Cities’ kids embrace their curly or textured hair, especially biracial or multiracial... more
For parents, the most wonderful time of the year can quickly become the most frenzied.The season designed to renew us can leave us feeling depleted, watching our to-do list swell along with the kids’ wish list. (I am amazed how few seconds it takes from the start of a Nick Jr. commercial to the moment one of my girls cries out, “I want that!”)This... more
This game rocks. You get four blue ping pong balls, four plastic green buttons, a 10-foot measuring tape, a rubber ring and a cool-looking die. Players bet how many points they’ll win if they can complete various challenges, such as tossing a ping pong ball and catching it in the box, balancing a button one’s head or guestimate one’s “wing span.”... more
If you have a child with physical and/or cognitive disabilities, that doesn’t mean he or she can’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding this winter.  Thanks to a partnership between Padraig’s Place, an Apple Valley-based nonprofit, and Buck Hill Ski and Snowboard School in Burnsville, kids and adults of all abilities can experience winter fun in... more
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500)! This prize package includes two nights lodging, lift tickets and ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring magic shows, art projects, face painting, a pizza party,... more
How do you teach a child to be compassionate in a world of walls, bullying and blame? You live as an example, surround yourself with kind people and talk to your kid about feelings. Another way to weave kindness into everyday life is with books — fun stories with interesting characters, cute animals and relatable kids facing common struggles.... more
During the coldest winter months in Minnesota, it can be tempting — and maybe just a little bit easier — to spend the free time of our days hunkered down in front of some kind of screen. Indeed, I value the time spent with my kids on a family movie night and with my husband each week watching the new episode of This Is Us.We all need a break... more
Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned some hard truths about traveling with children. For example, air travel is brutal. It’s bad enough if you’re traveling alone or with a friend or partner — the absurdity of wedging 3-ounce bottles of conditioner into a small plastic bag, the indignity of being ordered to remove one’s shoes in the security... more
You can play outside — in the cold — for only so many hours this fall, winter and spring. What else are you going to do? Check out Kiwi Co., offering monthly STEAM-themed crates focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math. Different lines cater to various age brackets — 0–2 (Cricket), 3–4 (Koala); 4–8 (Kiwi); and 9–16-plus (... more
Dads are often overlooked in children’s story books. So this month, we’re focusing on dads — their loving nature, how they can make it all better and how they share their wisdom in their own special ways.  Daddy Honk Honk!A fox finds an abandoned goose egg in a field … and the egg soon turns into a baby! The baby calls him Daddy right... more
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 projectile motion... more
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 | 6 and... more
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 based on the... more
A couple of days ago, I made a successful batch of lavender-honey-oatmeal soap.And it turned out great. I’m not writing this to boast; instead I’m telling you this because I’m actually pretty amazed. I make soap. I’m a soap-maker. I’m also a mother, kindergarten teacher, assistant cross-country coach, beekeeper, gardener, writer and,... more
Are you flipping out over this amazing weather? And how perfectly it coincides with MEA?!?Ahhhh! A couple neighbor kids swung by to return a pumpkin of ours that had rolled down into their yard and they were positively triumphant, reporting on a newly renovated park nearby and their plans to see the Lego Ninjago movie and how often they feed... more
It is with heartfelt thanks that I would like to express my gratitude to J.K. Rowling for writing the Harry Potter series of books. With her writing, she’s given me a wonderful excuse to spend hours snuggled up next to my children, reading and connecting with them in an almost magical way.When the Harry Potter book series first came out, I... more
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 can parents... more
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 ground.As soon... more
Q: Can we skip the HPV vaccine?A: Many parents find HPV vaccination to be a particularly challenging topic as they struggle with the idea of thier child receiving an injection related to sexual health.But the vaccine — which is given during elementary school — is recommended to prevent multiple types of cancer in adulthood for both males and... more
So your kids don’t like beans — a protein source that’s also rich with iron? No problem! Just sneak them into these rich, tasty, flourless treats, which contain four times the protein and 10 times the fiber of boxed brownies. And they’re made with less than half the oil. Win! Black Bean BrowniesIngredients1 15-ounce can of black beans3... more
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 bike by... more
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 light:... more
Ruby was a bubbly 6-year-old who usually bounced out of bed in the morning, excited for a day at school with friends and Ms. Martinez, her cherished teacher. Ruby had attended a mind-boggling number of birthday parties since the beginning of the school year, and also had playdates with several friends from kindergarten who were now in her... more
Is your kid ready to go beyond sight words?Encouraging interactive wordplay and early storytelling is the goal of My First Magnetic Story Board, featuring 100 word and punctuation magnets that help kids create simple sentences and even basic stories!$29.99 • more
Summer is fading into a collage of memories. Looking back, I’m truly grateful for the special moments I was able to create and for the experiences I had with my family. Though my kids are older now (6, 8, 10 and 12), it seems like just yesterday I was trudging through the thickness of my early years of parenting. (Leaving behind the days of... more
Few parents escape the occasional hassle of having to nudge a sleepy child or irritable teen out of bed for school. But some kids flat-out stonewall, missing days or even weeks of essential education. As a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents, I hear many parents ask, “What’s wrong with my child?” or “What... more
Ew, ew, eeeeeeew. If your kid doesn’t have lice, you don’t have to think about it. But having a bit of knowledge — if the little black sesame-seed-sized bugs do creep into your life — isn’t a bad idea.In honor of back-to-school season, here’s the latest on head lice treatments for that fateful day when the... more
The start of the school year is creeping up on the calendar. As a teacher mama, the flip of the calendar to August always brings forward a plethora of mixed feelings. August is truly a month to enjoy summer in Minnesota, so I try to spend most of the month on or near a lake. Indeed, I savor the last month of my summer break. But I also... more
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 obsession). ... more
I cannot read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to my son without welling up with huge, mama-bear tears. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.Except when you don’t.Because, sometimes, you won’t.I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-upsand Hang-ups can happen to... more
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, most kids... more
Justin was really excited to be enrolled in a summer day camp. And his mom, Sophie, was happy that he was taking part in a quality parks and rec program in their community. Then came the phone call from the program director: Justin’s behavior at camp was unacceptable.It had begun on the playground on the second day of camp with bullying of... more
Life as a mom of four kids is always busy.  But now that my children have all passed through the infant and toddler years — and are all school age — I seem to have a little more room in my mama brain for things that require more mental capacity. I feel as a mother of kids age 5, 7, 10 and 12, I’ve regained the privilege of reading for... more
Tim Webert of Plymouth was at his son’s hockey game in 2014 when he witnessed the tragedy of a seemingly healthy young boy dying because of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. “We immediately wondered if our kids had healthy hearts,” Webert said. “As I sought options to have their hearts checked, I was told there are no readily... more
Grow your own butterflies with this delightful kit by Insect Lore, which includes a reusable, 11.5-inch-tall, pop-up-mesh habitat, plus a feeding pipette and care instructions.We tried it — and the kids LOVED it!Live caterpillars ship separately. To get the best deal, order a kit and the caterpillars at the same time online, versus kits that... more
Soon the school year will be ending, and we’ll be enjoying the warmer weather and the longer days that accompany the approach of the summer solstice. It’s the ideal time to start spending more time outdoors — and to let our children capitalize on their core strength as kids: Playing!I’m a firm believer that all children need to experience a... more
The Minnesota Children's Museum's St. Paul campus (closed since December) will celebrate a $30 million expansion and renovation — including 10 new exhibits and 35 percent more space for visitors — with a free block party on June 17 (advance tickets required for free museum admittance). A Target Free 3rd Sunday on June 18 will... more
Freezer jam is — hands down — the easiest and prettiest jam you can make.Traditionally canned jams involve first boiling the jam and the jam jars (in a water bath), effectively twice-cooking the berries. Blasphemy!With freezer jam, you can skip all that while also capturing the berries’ super-fruity, crazy-fresh flavors and bright, red color... more
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’t right... more
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 volunteer... more
In Raising an Entrepreneur: 10 Rules for Nurturing Risk Takers, Problem Solvers and Change Makers, a mother of two thriving entrepreneurs shares stories from moms of more than 50 of today’s most successful innovators and — based on her findings — provides rules for raising confident, fearless, self-made men and women.$18.95 • more
Parents and children can create funny, lovable stuffed creatures with this Monster Sewing Workshop craft kit, using a variety of provided printed fabrics, felt, thread and stuffing.A full-color manual explains the basic techniques of hand sewing. #lifeskills$24.95 • more
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas!This year we’re celebrated on May 14. That means, if we’re lucky, on this day we’ll be honored with handmade cards and gifts from our little ones.We might even receive special recognition from the father of our children or others who are supporting us in our mothering experience.Mother’s Day can be a trigger for mixed... more
Minneapolis author Eric Dregni remembers being sent to camp at age 6, kicking and screaming.Now a father of three, a college professor and the dean of the Italian Concordia Language Village, Lago del Bosco, in Hackensack, Dregni has published a humorous memoir about the challenges and rewards of overnight camp. You’re Sending Me Where? Dispatches... more
I recently helped organize a casual baby shower at a workplace gathering for a colleague. Thanks to a small group of creative teachers, we were able to pull off a Pinterest-worthy, Welcome Bébé-themed baby shower for our French-teacher mama-to-be. We shared pink cupcakes and offered words of advice over lunch with more than 100... more
Paul and Kristen Abdo (pictured above) of Edina were on their way home from a night out — trying to figure out how long they’d been away and if they had enough cash to pay their sitter — when they realized: There must be an easier way to not only pay the baby sitter, but also to book sitters.So the parents, who have three kids, created their very... more
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
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. His... more
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 concepts aren’t... more
“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 surfing... more
Not all reading time must be filled with traditional, narrative stories.Each of these books tells its own kind of tale, ideal for parents and kids who like a challenge and time spent poring over beautiful printed pages. The Lost HouseThis is one of the hardest search-and-find books we’ve ever seen!Even after you’ve found everything hidden in... more
Q: Our daughter recently got over strep and a mom at school told us to watch out for ‘PANDAS?’ What’s she talking about?A: PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. It’s a relatively newly known syndrome, first described in the late 1990s. Revised diagnostic criteria and guidelines... more
On a recent Minneapolis Mamas Facebook thread, a mother lamented her 4-year-old’s terrible behavior.A clear chorus came back from mothers in praise of one particularly successful tactic — cutting back on screen time.Need a guide? Check out the much-praised Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social... more
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 boys... more
Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry,... more
For parents of a child with a disability, it can be a challenge to find a summer camp that’s fun, rewarding and welcoming. “It’s so hard to find activities, especially for girls on the autism spectrum,” one mom told The PACER Center.PACER is out to change that. Every August for the past 14 years, PACER, located in Bloomington, has run its... more
Parents face many factors when deciding whether — and where — to send a kid to summer camp. Do the dates work with your family’s travel plans for the summer? Will your child miss out on a lot of sports or other activities at home? Will she make friends at camp?Will you choose a camp that focuses on sports, religion, outdoor activities,... more
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 Park, a... more
Virtually everyone loves a warm chocolate chip cookie. But hauling out the electric mixer, cleaning messy bowls and dealing with baking sheet after baking sheet of cookies? I can do without that part. Hence this miracle — a chocolate chip cookie mixed in a coffee mug and cooked in the microwave. Even the youngest kids can make one by... more
Need a french fry fix? Hold up (and hold the fast food potatoes) and go healthy with this crazy-tasty recipe by foodie author Chungah Rhee, featuring the soon-to-be in season delight that is asparagus.Baked asparagus friesIngredients1 cup panko bread crumbs1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheeseKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste1... more
Parents face many factors when deciding whether — and where — to send a kid to summer camp.Do the dates work with your family’s travel plans for the summer? Will your child miss out on a lot of sports or other activities at home? Will she make friends at camp?Will you choose a camp that focuses on sports, religion, outdoor activities, academics or... more
Winter is a great time of year to get kids hooked on reading at home. When we’re stuck indoors on cold Minnesota days, get cozy and read!But, when your child is not excited about reading, fostering these habits can be a struggle. Consider these simple strategies to get your child on track:Visit your local library frequently. We try to visit our... more
What if you could peer into the mirror and see your future self peering back? It’s you, but you have wrinkles, bags under your eyes, gray hair. How startling would it be? More important, how would this sight change you?This isn’t speculative fiction. It’s something a team of researchers cooked up as a way to help young people make better decisions... more
Citrus, when you live in Minnesota,  is winter’s solace, a blast of sunshine in January.Clementines, satsumas, mandarins, Halos, Cuties, whatever you want to call them, they’re all in season now.Heavily marketed to parents and kids (usually in 5-pound bags or larger) they’re super sweet, mostly seedless, easily portable and usually easy to... more
It’s not always easy to have a sister or brother with a disability.But there are profound benefits: Siblings of children with disabilities are often more empathetic than other children.Loving someone with physical, mental or emotional challenges can lead children to learn kindness and caring. Siblings in this situation also may become more mature... more
Here’s a fun rainy-day / frigid-day activity: Take photos, artwork, invitations and more and turn them into small puzzles!Attach images to the kit’s adhesive 4-by-6-inch foam boards, then slide them through the Make Your Own Puzzles puzzlemaker to safely create perfect jigsaw pieces.Note: This toy was popular with all ages at the annual Minnesota... more
On the holiday photo card I recently sent out to my friends and family, there’s a photograph of me, my husband and our four young children (above) — a snapshot frozen in time of all of us at our best.Below the image we shared a sincere greeting: “Oh so very blessed: Wishing you a holiday season full of joy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... more
Years ago -- before I had become a mom -- I spotted a full-page magazine ad featuring a bundled-up brown-haired girl behind a hot cocoa stand, and I tore it out. I can't recall what the ad was for -- maybe an insurance company? But I remember feeling utterly charmed by the scene and wanting to file it away to try out one day as a mom.A... more
When our two sons, who are now 15 and 13, were getting old enough to start thinking seriously about money (a few years ago), they asked some really interesting questions.They ran the gamut from careers (could they get rich as writers?), advertising (young kids have a hard time telling the difference between ads and entertainment), product... more
Do you have a kid who engages in potentially harmful, subconscious behaviors such as excessive nail biting, skin picking or hair pulling?You’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer significantly from these issues, including many children.But now there may be a solution for such Body Focused... more
Growing up, I was a huge fan of the American Girls -- particularly the book series. My favorite from the Kirsten collection was "Kirsten's Surprise," which tells of the Swedish family's first winter in Minnesota -- 1854 -- and their struggle to preserve Christmas traditions from home in a foreign place. Thirty-something moms, does this book... more
Your kid wants LEGOs for the holidays: Again. Had enough?We highly recommend the latest iteration of building toys from Lauri as an alternative.Lauri’s new Action-Stackers Big Builder Set includes new joint connectors that allow children to build out (instead of just up).New spinning connectors can be used to create wheels and other features with... more
Minnesota Parent is giving away a FREE Winter Family Fun vacation for a family of four at Lutsen Mountains (valued at more than $500).This prize package includes 2 nights lodging, 2 days of lift tickets and 2 days of ski rentals for a family of four, all coinciding with the Family Fun Nights at the Summit Chalet, featuring magic... more
Trying to get kids to eat broccoli has long been a parenting cliché. But not anymore.Today’s foodie parents don’t boil or steam veggies into oblivion. They know the power of roasting veggies quickly at high temperatures to bring out their sweetness.Not in the Candied Broccoli Club yet? Try this recipe.If you’re already a veggie-roasting pro (and... more
I’ve often referred to the time between after-school pickup and dinner as “the witching hour.”Especially with my youngest children, the time between 4 and 5 p.m. is often the most difficult time of the day. After a long day, my young children crave my attention — and I want to relax and spend time with them.But our reality is that dinner needs to... more
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 a stash... 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 possible.... more
What’s that heavy weight you’re carrying over your shoulder? A big bag of gifts — or your holiday stress?Wow, it’s heavy this year. And why not? There’s plenty to stress about: Who will get mad if you don’t split up your family visiting time just perfectly? Will everything ship in time? Should you let Grandpa give the kids more video games?... more
Williams-Sonoma is famous for its holiday peppermint bark. But if you don’t have $30 to spend on a pound of the stuff, why not make your own?In multiple at-home tests, this recipe turned out beautifully for us — and you can even let the kids help bash the candies, spread the chocolate, sprinkle the peppermints and break the bark into pieces, too!... more
Winter is coming. Are you curling up into a fetal position with your favorite Slanket yet?Well, maybe you could skip the cabin fever this year. What if you could embrace winter by getting into skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing as a family? Check out more than a dozen winter-fun destinations in Minnesota at, which... more
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 maybe it’s a... more
Having a child with a food allergy can cause great anxiety for parents, especially when it comes to sending their children out into the world.These fun, customizable stamps — which feature popular characters such as Minions, Pooh, Darth Vader, Anna and Elsa — can help families keep everyone informed quickly, easily and playfully. $45 •... more
When you have kids, you can’t help but be proud of them.Even the littlest things can make you swell up with almost unbearable pride — those first baby smiles, those early toddler dancing skills, those kindergarteners who can read before the start of school!We just can’t help it. They’re so impressive, we just have to tell our friends who have... more
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 uses 4D... more
My poor children! They were born into a family where their mother and father aren’t afraid to say no — and to mean it. At times, they might think it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but I know that it’s often for their own good.Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of times that my husband and I do say yes, and cave in to requests. But, in our... more
It’s time for back to school!Oh, wait. Are you just starting school?I feel you. I remember my son’s first days of kindergarten (a big topic in this issue, as you will see). It all started the winter before his 5th birthday. His school hosted a Kindergarten Round Up, an afternoon event at which preschoolers and their parents were promptly... more
Yep, it’s fall, the perfect time to break out the slow cooker for easy school-night eats.This recipe, despite requiring only about 20 minutes of prep time and just five key ingredients, delivers a surprising amount of flavor.Serve the chicken over cauliflower “rice” and sauteed zucchini or a simple salad. Slow-cooker chicken... more
Jennifer, a busy mom of three, wondered if something was wrong when her middle child, Ava, abruptly stopped talking about school.Ava, a first-grader, usually bubbled over with enthusiastic chatter about her friends and her adored teacher, Miss Garcia. Ava had started complaining about feeling sick just before it was time to go to school.One... more
Q: My daughter has started playing hockey. What do I need to know to keep her from ending up in the ER?A: In the State of Hockey, it almost seems as if some children are born with hockey sticks in their hands and skates on their feet. Fortunately, organized youth hockey programs have made safety a priority and have taken a number of steps to... more
Want to give your kids a jump start on their financial future?Check out Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing and the Stock Market.This lively and engaging book — filled with 165 cartoon illustrations — tackles many facets of personal and corporate finance that schools simply aren’t covering.David Bianchi... more
Most of us want our kids to be generous and thoughtful, and we want them to have a broad view of the world. So why not encourage them to donate some of their money or allowance to a worthy cause?Figuring out how much to give — and who to give it to — is good practice for kids learning to be smart and deliberate with money.The problem is,... more
When it comes to food-storage/lunch-box options, there are so many choices!Most, however, are plastic. And plastics stain easily, wear out quickly and can even leach chemicals.When Twin Cities mama Juhi Gupta went looking for alternatives, she didn’t like what she found, so she invented her own.Available in 2- and 4-cup sizes, her Frego containers... more
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.Jacob’s... more
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 tutoring,... more
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, penmanship... more
I consider myself a lifelong learner. This is reflected in my vocation (I’m an educator at a public school) and in my hobbies, which include fiber art, cooking, soap-making, photography and blogging, to name a few. My hobbies are creative outlets that are not only enriching and fun, but also good for my own well being.They help me to... more
There is no way I could ever repay my parents for all they have done for my children. Yet every time Ted and I drop the kids off and head out, they make it seem as if we are doing them the favor.Honestly, I’m behind by about 1.3 million thank-yous. Life just keeps rolling, and I try to file them all away in my mind to properly address one day –... more
Today brings exciting news for Beatrix Potter fans: Penguin Random House has released a never-before-published book discovered a century after it was written. Brought to life with illustrations by Quentin Blake, famous for his drawings in the Roald Dahl books, "The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots" is an instant bestseller sure to delight longtime fans... more
Few phrases excite me more than "city-wide garage sale."And tomorrow is the opening day of Inver Grove Heights' three-day city-wide sales, which run from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Saturday, Aug. 27.Neon signs are starting to crop up at intersections, and my heart is aflutter. I picked up the $1 directory outlining the 47 participating sales -- a... more
Q: At what age do girls begin puberty? We’ve heard as young as 8! A: You’re correct that girls can begin puberty as young as 8 years old. And, in fact, that’s still considered within the range of normal. Girls typically start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13.Boys start between age 9 and 14. Keep in mind, however,... more
The New York Times headline said, “Apps That Make Saving as Effortless as Spending.”So, of course, even though I don’t consider myself a very big spender, I couldn’t resist clicking. What’s not to like about effortless saving? On my journey of chasing the click bait, I learned a few things about both saving and spending.  ... more
Drawing inspiration from martial arts, ballet, gymnastics, other sports and even animal behaviors, the authors of this 2011 book ($14.95) — gastroenterologist Anthony DeBenedet (a father of three girls) and Lawrence Cohen, a psychologist and family therapist — present dozens of illustrated rough-and-tumble activities for children and... more
Right now, my three boys (ages 5, 7 and 9) are in our upstairs loft wrestling.Sitting at my computer at the kitchen table, I can hear a lot of clomping around and the persistent thumping of feet and arms, all punctuated by the occasional scream and the sound of my upstairs furniture shifting.These are loud and happy wrestling sounds.  I admit... more
Q: How many grams of sugar a day is OK for a kindergartener?A: Appropriate sugar intake is an important topic for kids, teens and grown-ups.Americans are, by far, some of the most obese and unhealthiest people in the world, despite our amazing health-care systems.Excessive sugar intake puts kids on a path to struggle with high blood... more
 The Lockdown Drill School children today don’t just take part in fire drills.Because of numerous attacks on schools in recent years, kids as young as preschool-age are required to participate in lockdown drills that involve preparing for intruders, typically by hiding.And that can be scary.That’s why Tennessee native Becky ... more
With all the heavy textbooks kids carry — along with tablets and laptops and more — isn’t it time someone came up with a backpack that actually helped them get organized and stay comfortable?We think IVAR’s backpacks come pretty darn close with strategically placed, sewn-in dividers that distribute weight more evenly and reduce lower-back strain.... more
We love this recipe for a few reasons.It's an easy and surprisingly delicious back-to-school snack (or breakfast).It helps you incorporate veggies (zucchini), fruit (blueberries) and whole wheat flour into your kid’s diet.Local and organic blueberries and zucchini are easy to find in Minnesota this time of year.And the batter looks a bit like... more
Students at the University of Minnesota have designed the “world’s first sensory-friendly backpack.”The Nesel Pack (a play on the word “nestle”) is a backpack for kids with sensory-processing issues, including children on the autism spectrum.It features specially designed straps with chest clips that create the feeling of a hug, plus hooks for... more
One Posh Closet, a Minnesota boutique featuring new and previously worn designer women’s clothing, is now offering children’s clothes.Founded by Nicole Jennings — wife of Super Bowl Champion NFL wide receiver Greg Jennings (see family photo above) — the Minnesota-based business started online in 2013, built around high-end pieces contributed by... more
My daughter, Grace, came into the world as a micro preemie 11 years ago. Born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 6.2 ounces, Grace had a 66 to 80 percent chance of survival.She faced many medical challenges (as many preemies do), and she had lot of catching up to do. Our family faced some tough times, to say the least. It was hard on... more
Happy summer, Minnesota families!If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place!This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer bucket-list... more
A couple of years ago I created a bit of an over-the-top Pinterest-inspired summer bucket list with my children.In June, we made a big, colorful poster with lots of ideas of different things to do and put it on our fridge, thinking we would check off each experience as summer went on.We started right away with some practical and classic summer... more
I am a Minnesota parent.I have, for the most part, raised my children here. And, on top of that, I'm lucky enough to have a voice as a columnist and features writer at the magazine that represents our parenting community.But I did not grow up here.I grew up in a predominantly white, sheltered community in Southern California, proximal to Long... more
 Chewbeads — 100 percent silicone jewelry for babies to chomp on (instead of their mother’s real jewelry) — have become popular among modern mamas.Now the parent-founded company is expanding its line with Juniorbeads kids’ necklaces, including cute color combos geared toward girls and groovy shark tooth, robot and dog-tag pendants for boys.We... more
It's June!It’s time to spend every minute we can outside, right? But how? Check out our Outdoors Issue (June 2016) for starters. It's on racks now.Then please consider my advice for making the most of these summer months ahead: Pull back on screen time. I know, I know: I’ve read suggestions like these many times and I’ve said to... more
Strawberries and cream parfaitIngredients1 cup chopped strawberries4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided5 ounces Greek yogurt¼ cup cream cheese1 tablespoon milk, half-and-half or heavy cream1/4 teaspoon vanilla extractPinch salt1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs DirectionsPlace the strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons... more
June is peak strawberry season in Minnesota — and this no-bake pie really shows off those red orbs’ freshness and bright flavors. Check local grocers or see for a list of local farmers markets and strawberry farms.Fresh strawberry pie Ingredients3/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons cornstarchDash of salt1 cup water3 tablespoons... more
Kids need nature play and outdoor activities. But when there are 1,000 free cool games on the iPad, you’re facing an uphill battle, even in summer — unless you get creative and get excited to try new things.Here are just a few of the latest outdoors books perfectly tailored to families in need of inspiration and motivation:M Is for... more
Summer in Minnesota is synonymous with frequent trips to the cabin up, vacations up North, day hikes and camping for many local families. But all that warm-weather outdoor fun can cause some major skin issues. Fortunately, most rashes, spots and bumps are easily treatable. Here are some of the most common summertime conditions I see in... more
The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money isn’t just rich with useful tips for teaching kids about finances — including parent best practices for the tooth fairy, birthdays, chores, mobile phones and beyond — it’s also relatable guide to combating materialism with gratitude and charity and many other... more
Saving money as a family fun activity? It sounds suspicious, I know.After all, “saving” isn’t the first thing you think of when you’re looking for fun things to do with your offspring. But you can have a good time together while also getting the whole gang on board with cutting costs. Try any of these as a family project. With older kids, you... more
As a busy mother, teacher and writer, I sometimes find it hard to balance my online time — social media, texting, emails — with my offline time.I find it necessary and valuable to make virtual connections, but I also yearn for and benefit from screen-free time on my own and with others who I love and care for. There are times that I’ve been... more
July and August are the busiest months of the year at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the heaviest due to business commuters.Here are some amenities that might ease your pain: Quick Ride Ramp: Located a mile from Terminal 1 off Highway 5 at the Post Road exit, this ramp offers parking for $14 a day,... more
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 of farms... more
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 prepping for... more
Wisconsin Dells — the self-proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World (and a popular destination for Twin Cities families) — has announced what’s new in town for the upcoming summer travel season. Here’s a sampling:Slideboarding: This new ride at Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort relies on a slideboard, which looks a bit like a short surfboard... more
In anticipation of the summer travel season, we’re taking a look at five backseat books to keep the kids from whining the whole trip to Grand View Lodge, Grand Marais, Chicago, Milwaukee, Mount Rushmore, Wisconsin Dells, the cabin or wherever it is you’re going this year. Each of them is entertaining — and educational — in its own way.Get Ready... 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 may... more
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 every week... more
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, marching not... more
May is an ideal time to start thinking about getting some dates for summer family adventures on the calendar.Though it can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, the reality is that traveling as a family takes some work in terms of forethought and planning: When will you take time off from work? What do you want to do? Where will the... more
To Brits, Toad in the Hole is a traditional sausage and Yorkshire pudding dish. To a Yankee, it could best be described as hot dogs combined with popovers. The resulting dish sort of tastes like a corndog hot dish! The tangy onion “gravy” elevates the flavor, but this is an all-around favorite for the whole family. Toad in the Hole with Onion... more
Got an aspiring builder on your hands?Brackitz ($59.95 for a 100-piece set) — small wooden planks that connect to clear plastic brackets — allow for a multitude of creations that won’t sag or tip over as easily as some other sets.Find sets at or more
Grit can be defined in a couple ways: 1) small, loose particles of stone or sand. 2) courage and resolve; strength of character.When we’re talking about raising children, pieces of dirt and sand are part of the package.But raising a child with courage, resolve and strength of character? That takes a little more effort and support on our part.Well-... more
Target’s new kid-centric decorating line — playfully named Pillowfort — is out now and we have to admit: It’s pretty adorable. Created by Target’s internal product design and development team, the line is crafted to appeal to parents and their kids, including a variety of themes that aren’t overly boyish or girly. Prices for items in the... more
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 would spend... more
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 camp in... more
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 the end,... more
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, six kids... more
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 Pillsbury... more
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) are... more
INGREDIENTS3 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan⅓ cup packed brown sugar¼ cup honey1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats¼ cup chocolate chipsMakes 12 bars DIRECTIONSButter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Whisk... more
As a working mom with four growing children, getting healthy  meals on the table is a daily challenge. My children have the kind of appetites that provoke “I cannot believe how much ______ eats!” comments from anyone who shares a meal with them. And they have such high metabolisms, it’s a necessity for us to buy pants that come with... more
Ever think about the sheer volume of marketing our kids are  exposed to? Me neither, most of the time. But the other day, I stumbled across (OK, I was on Twitter) a comprehensive study of media use by young people ( Among other things, I learned that kids age 8 to 12 average about six hours of “entertainment... more
Which would you rather have your kids learn — where food comes from (and how to cook and eat it) or the habits of dinosaurs?This pointed question comes from Jill Colella, the St. Paul founder of not one but two gorgeous bimonthly magazines for kids that encourage food savvy as well as early reading: Ingredient is for ages 6–12 and, new in 2015,... more
Have you picked up our Camp Issue (or perhaps paged through our e-edition) yet?It's a whopper.Yep: March is our biggest issue of the year for Minnesota Parent.Why? Summer camps — whether you’re looking for a half-day camp for your preschooler or an overnight camp for your teen — have become a tremendously important part of growing up in the Twin... more
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
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
Celebrity yoga-instructor Alanna Zabel has created the world’s first yoga doll collection — known as AZIAM Girlz.Each doll ($29.95) features articulated joints that allow for a full range of motion. In fact, they’re flexible enough to do all common yoga poses. Asana, the first in the series of dolls, comes with doll-size fitness accessories,... more
INGREDIENTS1 28-ounce can diced tomatoesWater1 tablespoon olive oil1 onion, chopped fineSalt and pepper3 garlic cloves, minced1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes1 pound meatloaf mix10 curly edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths1 8-ounce can tomato sauce1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus 2 tablespoons, grated1 cup (8... more
Parenting in the modern age — let’s face it — is complicated. To use the words of Jen Hatmaker in her viral essay for Today: We don’t just drink “a case of Tab” and send our kids outside for the day like parents of yore.No, we try to manage everything into a state of perfection. And things today are so not perfect.So, in our February issue (... more
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 former... more
With four kids under age 10 in our household, we’re exposed to our fair share of sibling squabbles, as you might imagine. My children have the typical arguments over toys, food, clothes, seats in the car and chairs at the table. We also experience over-the-top disputes, where I find myself mediating conflicts over a gummy bear. During these... more
Like most parents, sometimes I get to feeling anxious about money.And sometimes this anxiety gets tangled up with angst about my career choice. I mean, sure, I like what I do. But writer/editor isn’t the most lucrative of careers. Would I be happier if I were making tons of money as a podiatrist or a high-powered corporate lawyer? Or some sort of... more
Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, publishers are catering to adults like never before with a bevy of adult coloring books released in the past year. The Doctor Who Coloring Book? Yep, that’s a thing. There’s also an Indie Rock Coloring Book (featuring pages dedicated to bands like Bon Iver and Iron & Wine) and The Tattoo Coloring... more
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 calendar for... more
Pillow-fort season is upon us! Keep cabin fever at bay with a Discovery Kids 77-piece build-and-play construction set ($19.99). We recommend you buy two sets (or supplement your fort-making endeavors with your own furniture) if you want to create a roomy playhouse. Retailers include JC Penney, Kohl's, TJ Maxx, Toys R Us and Walmart. more
On a bulletin board mounted to the wall above my computer I’ve hung a large desk calendar that acts as our family command center, perpetually organizing our fast-paced life with four young children.The oversized squares that encapsulate each date are chock-full with activities, meetings, schedules and reminders. Indeed, our family schedule is... more
Did you know dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months?It’s not because the bristles wear out. Alas. It’s because the average toothbrush contains more than 10 million bacteria, often including E. coli and staph. Ew. Hint: Flush your toilet with the lid down to reduce airborne bacteria that can collect on your toothbrush and... more
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, refusing to... more
We had that nice, long, warm fall. Remember? Shorts and T-shirts in November! So it feels a bit, well, complainy, to complain about the cold now. But it is cold! I don’t like it. When that jerk Jack Frost is out prowling the neighborhood, many of us feel tempted to set up camp in front of the TV or on the sofa with a book. But, deep down, all... more
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.Winter... more
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. Even... more
The responsibilities and choices that come with parenting a child with a severe disability or developmental delay are intense, immediate and pressing. Saving for your young child’s future may seem like one thing you can put off for now. Unfortunately, it isn’t something you should ignore: Someday your child with special needs is going to... more
My 15-year-old son, like most modern American teenagers, spends a good deal of time on his phone. It’s easy to be one of two things as a parent: I can be tired of keeping up — and just forget trying to understand what Snapchat is — or I can try to keep up. I admit I’ve done a little of both. The first option is much easier.You need... more
How do these deals sound to you? • Take $2 off each admission ticket at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.• Get $5 off a purchase of $25 or more at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America.• Enjoy two-for-one admission at any of the four Pump It Up locations in the Twin Cities.These are just a few of the local discounts members of... more
Q: What do you recommend for vitamins for kids? Gummies? Flintstones? And at what age should we start?A: For children older than 1, in general, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend vitamin supplements. It’s thought that if otherwise healthy children are eating a normal, well-balanced diet, they’re receiving what they need of... more
OK, it’s time your kid took some responsibility for making his own bed. Get him started on the Operation Tidy Kid with a ZippySack ($29.99 for twin, $39.99 for full). This seen-on-TV zippered fleece blanket, available in a variety of styles, fits snuggly over a mattress (just like a fitted sheet). It includes a storage pocket for must-have... more
As a mom of four school-age kids I’m finding it necessary to put some  thought into how I manage and store the abundance of kid-made goodness that is starting to accumulate in our life. My husband and I encourage creativity at home and so our children’s art table is often overflowing, and our kids come home from school daily with unique... more
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 productive... more
St. Paul author Geoffrey Saign has hit the jackpot with his 2014 book, WhipEye.Not only are teachers, kids and Amazon reviewers raving about his middle-grade urban fantasy thriller (the first in a series), it’s also received two pretty big literary honors this year — first place in children’s fiction from the 2015 International Book Awards and a... more
How could it possibly be December?Minnesota’s weather has been so dreamy — so delightfully mild — this fall! There’s no possible way I’m going to be prepared for the holidays in time (not that I ever am).And, yet, I have no regrets: When you get a chance to pick apples in late October, take bike rides in November and skip wearing hats and... more
Turn meatloaf night into a treat with kid-sized servings, filled with chopped veggies under a layer of ketchup and mashed-cauliflower “frosting.” This recipe’s combined prep and cook time comes to about 50 minutes. Ingredients1 teaspoon coconut oil½ cup minced yellow onion2 medium carrots, finely chopped1 clove garlic, minced1 pound ground... more
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 cute,... more
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, moved to... more
Christmas can truly be a magical time for our kids. As parents, we get to relive the wonder of it all, while also imparting — and often inventing — family traditions. One of the rituals in my family is reading holiday books together. I don’t keep holiday books in rotation during the rest of the year, however. They get put away with the tree and... more
Early childhood experts are always talking about how kids don’t need special toys: Just give a kid a cup, bowl or stick and let his imagination do the rest. This, they say, is how children learn — organic, creative, unplugged, self-directed play.And, for the most part, I believe this is true, especially for babies. (Check out the Baby on... more
Parents, you know that moment when your kid zonks out in the car: Finally, you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet!But then you hit a bump, turn a corner or go around a sharp curve, and your kid slumps awkwardly into a cringe-worthy head-bob position. The Cardiff travel headrest ($49.99) — ideal for kids in backless booster seats — provides some... more
Books make awesome holiday presents, don’t you think? These new gems are ideal for families looking for something fresh, entirely unexpected and, we think, delightful (any time of year). Enjoy! LEGO Awesome IdeasLooking to get your kids to actually reuse their LEGOs for creative free building — rather than just buying new sets?... more
Q: Our 5-year-old son’s teacher is hinting that he has ADHD because he can’t sit still in class. And yet, his grades are nearly perfect. We think he’s just being a normal kindergartener. How should we proceed?A: There’s a wide range of activity and attention levels in 5-year-old children. If your son is doing well academically, then... more
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’s all the... more
Recently, one of the young girls on my block  rang my doorbell. She was selling homemade cupcakes. The price was reasonable, the treats looked delightful and my neighbor was beaming with obvious pride. Of course, I bought a few.Half an hour later, her sister rang the doorbell. She was selling homemade dog treats. These things looked... more
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 teens.... more
Soon we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving — a national day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the past year. In our society today, Thanksgiving is typically celebrated with a gathering and feast. But, often, the thankfulness aspect of the holiday seems to be overshadowed by the emphasis on the commercialism on the day after... more
We all know Facebook isn’t famous for filling our lives with intelligent ideas. So imagine my surprise and delight the other day when I came across an FB advertisement for a device called the Bluapple that promised to save me $640 per year on groceries. Finally! All those hours spent on Facebook — liking family photos of people I hadn’t... more
When that first baby tooth starts to wiggle, you know your child is about to hit a major milestone or, rather, a series of milestones: From the age of about 5 to 12, the average child loses 20 baby teeth. That’s a lot of visits from the tooth fairy! These fun books and keepsakes will help you revel in the excitement, stimulate your child... more
This past summer I had the opportunity to travel out of state to attend an amazing professional development training. I put a lot of effort into finding adequate funding so I could attend and eventually bring some important information back to my school, my colleagues and the students in my classroom. I registered for the conference,... more
If you just came back from a Minnesota apple orchard with a 10-pound bag of apples (what a steal!) — and you’re not quite sure what to do with them all — try this recipe from the new cookbook: Little Bites: 100 Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks. Once you’ve made it, this recipe should be easy to remember: Bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees — and it... more
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 should you do... more
Q: Lice is on the loose at school! What’s the best way to see if our kid has it?A: Anyone can get head lice. Every year, millions of school-aged children will become infected with head lice, most commonly preschool and elementary-aged children. Though it’s not a pleasant condition, it doesn’t cause any serious health issues or... more
The BubbleBum ($29.99) is an inflatable, portable car booster seat that’s ideal for those times when you don’t have access to your kid’s regular booster. Think vacations, rental cars, taxis or carpooling with friends. We tried it and loved how easy it was to deflate and pack down into a bag about the size of a small loaf of bread (definitely... more
You’ve got a backseat packed with three kids. They each need their seat belts buckled. But two of the buckle slots butt right up against each other — and flop around so the kids end up putting buckles in the wrong slots. Meanwhile, all the kids have varying levels of buckling skills and patience. MyBuckleMate (now available in bright red, $14... more
Reading to our children is fun — and can bring us hours of enjoyment and quality time together (especially if bedtime goes well)! But what happens when it’s time to get the kids to read to themselves?Fortunately, there are oodles of resources out there to foster a lifelong love of reading.  The newly published list — 50 Best Books for 5... more
The Saint Paul Public Library is the first library in the state to offer a new — free — children’s book-recommendation service called Beanstack for ages infant to 12. Families anywhere can sign up for book-recommendation emails based on their children’s reading skills, age and interests such as “Ninjas, Pirates and Warriors,” “Diverse Main... more
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 target... more
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 responsibility to... more
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 of them... more
Tom Weber, a host for Minneapolis Public Radio, is out with a new book encouraging local exploration — 100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die.“A lot of times people hear about cool things and make that mental note, ‘I should do that some day,’” he said. “When it comes time to think of things to do, they forget. I hope this is a way to... more
Recently, my friend Jennifer was talking with her 7-year-old son, Jackson, about his allowance. She was introducing the spend-some, save-some, donate-some system, and he was excited about this step toward being a more responsible big kid. Jennifer said the conversation was breezy yet earnest as they talked about what he liked to use his... more
INGREDIENTS2 cups frozen peas (one 10-ounce bag)1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (see sidebar)2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oilCoarse salt and ground pepper12 ounces pasta DIRECTIONSCook 1 cup peas according to package... more
Traveling around Minneapolis-St. Paul just got a lot more fun! Kid Around Town, a new free app by Twin Cities app designer and mama Aneela Kumar, is a family-friendly travel guide to top destinations around the Cities, featuring virtual scavenger hunts, trivia questions, photo challenges and a variety of other city “missions.”Developed for ages 6... more
Aija Mayrock was bullied throughout middle school and high school. Through it all, however, she learned a lot — and, at the age of 16, she wrote a lively, fun book to help kids age 10 and older not just survive, but thrive in the face of bullying. The Survival Guide to Bullying ($9.99) features tips, personal stories and quick quizzes... more
When Renee Piersa of Bloomington and Erica Myking of Burnsville became parents they quickly discovered the vast array of family friendly activities available in the Twin Cities.It didn’t take long before the longtime best friends — both Apple Valley natives, both moms to two girls, both working full-time — had a list of favorites they wanted... more
Princess-themed parties have been around for a long time, but the sensation of Anna and Elsa has given the trend a dramatic boost.Tiny Diva Princess Party offers a variety party options with characters from Frozen, including a single princess for $175, two characters for $300 (Anna and Elsa or Anna and Kristoff) or a cast of four (Anna, Elsa,... more
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.”That was all... more
 Shoe shopping with a toddler can be a total pain.And, yet, you need your little one along with you to get just the right size — or do you? With a Squatchi ($19.99), parents can measure tiny feet at home. Made of durable polystyrene, the Squatchi can be a keepsake, too, if you write you kid’s size on it every year before the start of school.... more
SUPER-QUICK LAMB CHOPSIngredients4 large garlic cloves, crushed1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves2 teaspoons fresh thyme leavesPinch cayenne pepperKosher salt, to taste¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil8 lamb chops, 1 inch thickVegetable oil for grilling InstructionsPulse the garlic, rosemary, thyme, cayenne and salt in a food processor.Pour olive... more
Is your kid getting ready to go back to school (or maybe to school for the first time)? Ease into it either way with these delightful books that inspire confidence, imagination and, best of all, kindness to others.Ally-saurus & the First Day of SchoolWhen Ally roars off to her first day of classes, she hopes to meet lots of other... more
The start of a new school year is fast approaching! This time of year can be a very exciting and joyful time for some, but it can also trigger some feelings of nervousness or apprehension (for both kids and parents).This year will mark my 15th year as an educator, and now, as a parent, I also have a house full of school-aged children — this year... more
As a young tween, my daughter participated in a Destination Imagination tournament — an academic, kid-focused, think-outside-the-box program in which teams create and participate in challenges. Its goals are admirable: Encouraging kids to work together as a team, trust one another’s different gifts and ideas, and improve their critical-... more
Q: Our kids’ backpacks get heavier every year. How much weight can a child safely carry? A: This is an excellent question. Planning for what to put in a child’s backpack is an ideal opportunity to work with your child on effective school and homework planning. A number of health groups recommend that a child shouldn’t carry more... more
Q: I’ve heard that kids with asthma should start their medications before school starts in anticipation of cold season. What do you advise?A: Any child with a diagnosis of asthma, especially if the child has frequent or persistent symptoms, should have an asthma action plan. Some children are especially susceptible to wheezing when they catch... more
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 Minnesota.Our... more
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 — Matthew Larkey,... more
My boys are 13 and 11, which means I’ve thrown roughly two dozen birthday parties over the past decade or so (no wonder I’m so tired). I’ve never been a skilled party-giver, but nor am I a fool. In those years of experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about birthday parties. And so, if some cruel twist of fate were to subject me to... more
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 to get out... more
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 — a 10-... more
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 between two... more
Objective: Bounce your balls onto the grid to create the required patternsAges: 7 and older, but younger kids can play tooPlayers: 2 to 4Cost: $17.99Why you’ll love it: This game is addictive, fast paced and quick to play. It makes a great birthday party game, or even an interesting way to decide who dries the dishes or picks up the toys... more
Minnesota has so many amazing attractions for families, it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, Christie Gove-Berg, a Minnesota native, Forest Lake resident and mother of three, has created a handy glossy paperback guidebook: Minnesota Must-See for Families: An A-to-Z List ($12.95), including tourist attractions both natural and urban... more
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 lot of... more
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 television show... more
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 body or... more
WATERMELON-MINT POPS3½ cups seeded, cubed fresh watermelon¼ cup cold water1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice6-8 mint leavesPinch of sugar (optional) Place ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm (about 8 hours or overnight). LEMON-LIME BASIL POPS½ cup lemon juice (... more
These books are thoughtful, helpful and delightful most of the time, but sisters can be tricky, too, especially if you’re trying to welcome a baby sister home (and become a Big Brother) or if you’re trying to become a Big Sister (to your new baby brother).  Even not having a sister can be hard, especially when you have triplet brothers! ... more
Believe me, I know how it happens. You’re in a hurry. You’re only going to be in the sun for a little while, no big deal. Besides, you’ve exposed your precious hide to the elements before, and nothing bad happened. It’s hard to get worked up about consequences that might be waiting in the future. (And of course as soon as you go swimming... more
We have an abundance of beauty and nature in Minnesota. Why not share that with your children by taking them for a hike?I know: Hiking with young children can be a challenge, to say the least.But it offers so many rich benefits. In my own experiences, there have been many not-so-enjoyable “trails of tears” with my own little ones getting... more
 I used to exercise all the time. I loved the gym! OK, liked is more accurate. But it felt good to work out. I especially liked the challenge of the escalator stair machine. Hot yoga, kick boxing and hiking were my other favorites.Then I had my son. And, boy, did I get lazy with working out. I was tired. I had... more
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 couldn't be... more
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.” She faces... more
This year marks the Teddy Bear Band’s 30th anniversary. To celebrate, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the state of Minnesota have proclaimed June 28 Teddy Bear Band Day in honor of the group’s decades of early childhood music education for young kids, including 8,000 concerts to date! You can stomp and clap with the band with a free... more
Not every summer day is sunny. Thunderstorms often chase us indoors. But you don’t have to stay cooped up at home, thanks to nearly 30 Minnesota bowling alleys offering FREE bowling for kids, all summer long.See for details.   more
When friends visit from out of state during the winter and complain about the weather, I don’t try to convince them they’re wrong. Minnesotans know winter here can be more than tolerable if you embrace it by getting outside and skiing, running or even fat-tire biking. But it’s a rare outsider who can be convinced of that while staring... more
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, they can... more
This baked French dessert (kla-foo-TEE) features fruit, traditionally black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick, flan-like batter.Ingredients1 tablespoon unsalted butter2 eggs2 egg yolks½ cup all-purpose flour4 tablespoons sugar½ teaspoon kosher salt1 ½ cups heavy cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract8 ounces cherries, pitted... more
Inspired by the grilled pineapple side dish served at Brazilian steakhouses, these tasty spears pair well with grilled chicken or steak. You could also serve them with cinnamon-sugar-sprinkled vanilla ice cream and call it dessert. Going camping? Pineapple travels well. Before you go, place the dry ingredients in a large plastic bag, prep the... more
Squeez’Ems (reusable screw-top food pouches) and Pack’Ems (reusable snack bags, pictured below) help you cut back on disposable packaging.We like the pouches because they allow you to serve homemade applesauce (and other gooey foods) on the go.The snack bags, which feature Velcro closures, can be folded down flat when empty (unlike... more
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day. Despite that advice, screens time is second only to sleep as the thing our kids spend the most time doing, according to a study conducted by the National Institute on... more
Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see a full... more
 Little Owl’s DayIn this sequel to Little Owl’s Night, our wide-eyed little friend wakes up in broad daylight and discovers a forest he’s never seen, full of sunlight and daytime activities. He sees backward-flying dragonflies, wolf pups and his first rainbow. Then it’s his turn to show off. He keeps Bear up late, just long enough to see a... more
When I was pregnant, my husband and I talked a lot about how we’d take our baby hiking.Living in Seattle at the time, we were big into outdoorsy stuff — backcountry camping, epic day hikes and 40-mile bike rides.Maybe we’ll get one of those bike trailer things, we thought. And we’d definitely need a backpack baby carrier.Well, it turned out that... more
Looking for a fresh way to bring science to life? Brains On! — a new podcast for kids — answers a variety of listener questions. Each episode is about 25 minutes long and is hosted by a different kid. Find out: How and why do jellyfish sting?What makes paint stick? How do volcanoes erupt? Does video game music affect you?In a world in which STEM... more
Two local stay-at-home moms — Nikki Anderson of Plymouth and Bethany Wilde of Minneapolis — have started a new service that delivers boxes full of simple, nature-inspired crafts to your doorstep.Blossom Box Kids’ subscription options include three months of boxes for $55, 6 months for $100 and a year for $200. Or you can... more
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 here. That... more
Map Your Travels, a St. Louis Park-based mall business, has just the thing to inspire travel planning — a 50 States, 50 Places map with the top U.S. sites for families (easy to check off with the enclosed stickers) and a Ballparks of Major League Baseball map, which shows 60 stadiums (past and present).Both posters are 19... more
Our family is gearing up for a much-anticipated family trip out of state. This experience has been in the works for several months now, and I’m so happy to see the date creeping closer on our calendar.Both my husband and I have fond memories of family trips growing up and we’re doing our best to set aside the time, the money, (and the energy!) to... more
IngredientsZest of 1 large lemon2 ¼ cups almond flour or meal¾ cup granulated sugar1 egg white1 teaspoon almond extract1 teaspoon vanilla extract½ cup powdered sugarMakes 2 dozen cookiesGluten freeInstructionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Whisk together lemon zest, sugar and almond flour in a... more
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 Marais, billed... more
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. You’... more
Name of the game: Rock Me ArchimedesObjective: Move your marbles from the center of the teetering platform to your end without letting either end to touch the ground.Ages: 8 and upPlayers: 2Cost: $34.99Why you’ll love it: This game not only helps kids (and even us adults) develop their strategizing and estimation skills, but it also... more
Name of the game: Sock Puppet CharadesObjective: Act out what’s on your card using sock puppets and a series of provided props.Ages: 8 and upPlayers: 3 to 6Cost: $24.99 Why you’ll love it: What could be more whimsical than a game of charades with the kids? Charades with sock puppets! And these sock puppets are adorkable as well as adorable... more
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, twisting... more
Name of the game: Suspend and Suspend Jr.Objective: Hang all your pieces, suspended only by other pieces, without causing the whole structure to fall down.Ages: Ages 8 and older (kids as young as 4 can play the junior edition, pictured above)Players: 1 to 4Cost: $16.99–$19.99Why you’ll love it: This game is simple enough for anyone with... more
My kids pull weeds. I should say, my husband and I make our kids pull weeds. Torture?Maybe, for us. We started this when we lived in Austin, Texas. It’s hot there, like really hot. So the weed pulling thing didn’t have a lot of initial appeal for them. To be honest, it didn’t have much appeal for me either.Our yard started out like those found on... more
Q: My 7-year-old’s loose tooth won’t fall out. Is it safe to do the string-to-door technique?A: No, I wouldn’t recommend the string-to-door technique to remove a stubborn baby tooth. If your child wants to try to remove a tooth on her own, she could try that. For this method, it is recommended to firmly grasp the loose tooth with a... more
Picture this: You call your 7-year-old for dinner, and she comes running into the dining room, even though she knows your house rule is no running inside — and drops your iPhone on the floor. Boom, cracked screen. Or how about this: While emptying the dishwasher, your 10-year-old gets a little hyper and puts all his weight on the open silverware... more
I’ve recently developed a strong interest in researching and applying mindfulness strategies in both my personal life and in my teaching profession. There’s strong evidence that mindfulness practices can help children and adults build emotional resilience. Mindfulness can also be an empowering method of developing daily self-regulation and stress-... more
If you’re looking to avoid chemical dyes for egg-coloring this Easter (April 5) — but shudder at the thought of making your own with beets and turmeric — we have good news.Glob Colors has done the work for you by creating its Natural Easter Egg Coloring Kit ($14) — vibrant dyes made from radish, cabbage and annatto extracts.And if... more
We were skeptical of the stainless steel lunch boxes from PlanetBox.But then we tried The Rover ($59.95 with necessary accessories), designed for kids (or even adults) who like a wide variety of foods in smaller not-touching portions.Yes, it’s heavy — 2.5 pounds empty, including the must-have carry bag.But we loved packing... more
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 spring and... more
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 projects... more
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 makes this... more
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. The central... more
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.” Camp... more
Wash, dry, fold, cook, clean, vacuum, sweep, REPEAT. Oh, the joys of home life. If you’re like me, the repetition and monotony of performing the mundane tasks of keeping a home can make you feel frustrated and maybe even a bit trapped. It’s an endless cycle, necessary, but with short-lasting rewards: There’s always something to be... more
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. Numerous YMCA day... more
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
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 to apply... more
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 repel the... more
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, hoping she’... more
Reading to your child, listening to your child read or simply reading alongside your child are simple ways we, as parents, can support literacy development and healthy reading habits at home — and build a foundation for lifelong academic success. Our biggest challenge in making reading at home a routine of family life, is simply devoting time... more
Are you sick of bedtime battles and — when you do finally get your kid in bed — the same old picture books?Well, maybe we parents ought to change things up a bit.John Olive, a Minneapolis father, author and playwright, has a suggestion: Put the books aside once in a while. Instead, dim the lights, lie down and make up your own stories. How? ... more
Good news! The Minnesota Children’s Museum has announced a $28 million building expansion to provide 34 percent more space for visitors.All the museum’s galleries will be reinvented to focus on the important skills kids develop through free play. Other new additions will include a four-story climbing tower, a cafe with a seating area, a skyway-... more
Talking to kids about health, safety and sometimes even sports doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents. Thank goodness for creative writers! This month, we’ll help you cover some tricky topics, including personal safety and strategies for starting — and even struggling with — sports (from a precocious little girl’s perspective). Miles... more
Hello, Minnesota!Let me introduce myself: My name is Megan Devine. I live with my husband, daughter (age 9) and three sons (ages 7, 5 and 3) in Northeastern Minnesota. I’m delighted to be joining the team at Minnesota Parent — to share my perspective as a mother and an educator — as the publication’s new School Days columnist. I live on... more
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 address... more
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 whatever... more
You know how New Year’s budget-tightening advice goes. You hear you should make coffee at home instead of stopping at the coffee shop — the one where the barista greets you with your very own personalized joke-of-the-day — and you can save about $3,700 a year. But of course you miss your daily joke, and it’s a scramble to make your own coffee... more
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 — that... more
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, fun and... more
I was recently asked: What gifts do teachers really want for the holidays?I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some ideas based on my insights as both a primary schoolteacher and frugal mother of four who’s working to make sure gifts I purchase during this holiday season have both meaning and purpose.First of all, I must say:... more
<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 18 percent... more
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 recommended... more
One of the biggest sources of holiday stress, at least for me, is gift giving — especially when it comes to kids. As parents, we want to make our children happy, but we don’t want to spend a million dollars doing it. Many of us are also wary of overindulging our budding consumers. Shouldn’t our kids experience a healthy dose of disappointment... more
I’m on this road, but I do not travel it alone.My ever-growing, three-egg-a-day-eating teenage boy and my spunky, determined tween daughter — who goes through her day in a constant hum — join me.It’s strange that these two who I watched oh-so-carefully as they grew in and out of car seats and into booster seats — and quietly awed at their... more
’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 Minnesota... more
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 salt bricks... more
Kid Yoga Minnesota and Sunshine Morning Care recently opened at 2836 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. You’ll find kids’ yoga classes, of course, but also flexible morning child care, yoga camps, yoga training for classroom teachers and custom yoga classes for special needs individuals. Learn more at more
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 rated by the... more
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 stimulate... more
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 (but only... more
In 1977, when I was in first grade, all I wanted for Christmas was a pair of Zips tennis shoes. The commercial that ran during Saturday-morning cartoons ( was brilliant. It opened with a boy lacing up a pair of bright orange Zips on his front steps and an announcer saying in a weighty voice, “When you put on a pair of... more
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 Abercrombie... more
Educational choice is just one of the reasons Minnesota is a great place to raise our kids. Though traditional public schools in our state are some of the best, many Minnesota parents often take advantage of other avenues to education such as open enrollment in a school outside their home district, plus charter schools, magnet schools,... more
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 per pound... more
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 them... more
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 dissipates... more
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 Guidance at... more
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 speak so... more
What happens when you start to think of sending your little one off to college? If you’re like most parents I know, your thoughts quickly flit from Pomp and Circumstance — and I can’t wait to see where she ends up! — to a sick, empty feeling in your stomach that comes from thinking about the cost.Paying for college. The mere idea can make a... more
Q: How can I get my kids to better embrace their fall sleep schedules? A: Sleep issues are common for infants, children and teenagers. It’s rare for families not to have to deal with this issue after summer breaks, especially. The best advice is patience and age-appropriate expectations. One of the biggest obstacles to a good... more
Need a FREE activity this Saturday? Join us at Minnesota Parent’s 9th-annual Education Fair at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory! Check out a variety of vendors offering ed opportunities in the classroom and beyond. And let the kids take part in a host of cool attractions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all free:• Photo-booth sessions by Venture... more
This year, I went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the first time.Everyone I knew (across all age groups and walks of life) had raved about it. Arguments for the awesomeness of this so-called “Ren Fest” included:* Turkey legs!* Mead!* Jousting!* Unlike some festivals that throw up and tear down tents and exhibits in parking lots and open... more
My son starts school on Tuesday.First grade!I thought this year would be easier.But today I woke at 3:30 a.m., worried.Anxiety: He’s taking the bus home from school for the first time this year and I still haven’t heard back from the bus folks to make sure he's on the schedule. (I filled out the form a tad late.)Will the teacher know to put him on... more
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 audience members... more
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 sticks.But it’... more
I sit here in this early morning hour, while my own four young children are asleep, with a knot in my stomach and tension in my neck and a large mug of coffee.I’m an educator and a mother, trying to stay present in these last few days before I head back to work as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve already spent full summer days working,... more
The other night, my 13-year-old came up to me while I was working at the computer. “I have done the math,” he said. “And you owe me $92.”Whoa, what? He was right. Last week I’d borrowed $40 when I needed cash. The other $52 was because my wife and I had forgotten to pay his allowance of $13 for four weeks running. Sure, it’s a... more
Q:  What can I do to help my child get ready for kindergarten?A: Transitioning to school can be a big deal for many 5-year-olds — most of the time in a very positive way. Reinforcing the notion of this being such a “big boy” thing to do — and how great it is that he’ll be starting kindergarten this fall — will ease the... more
Parenting is full of unexpected phenomena.One of the craziest, if you ask me, is insanity that ensues when a young child opens his or her birthday presents at a big, public party.It started for our family during the preschool years when we began having bouncy-house birthday parties for our son.After jumping around like crazy animals for an hour,... more
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 Beyond the Tent... more
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 refusal to... more
$2.97. I felt a swell of satisfaction as I cut the price tag off the superhero T-shirt. What a steal. But the feeling was short-lived. After my most recent hauls from the clearance racks were outright rejected by my kids, I figured this shirt would never see a chocolate ice cream dribble or muddy sleeve.Keeping kids clothed with the cash you... more
Five years ago, when my daughter Louisa was finishing seventh grade, her English teacher gave the class one last assignment: Write a letter to your future, high school senior self. Include a description of your current likes, dislikes and accomplishments; write down some reminders of what you want to do as a senior; and make some predictions.The... more
“If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they'd think we were insane.”That’s how Bunmi Laditan, the Quebec-based author of wildly popular “Honest Toddler” book and blog opened her post, “I’m Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.”“Ah, yes,” I thought. “This is just what I need, something... more
Q: My 10-year-old daughter is highly allergic to bee stings and has been prescribed an Epi-Pen to use if she ever gets stung. How can I help her overcome her fear of having to use this shot?A: Practice, practice, practice. If it’s been a while since you received this prescription for your child, you may want to check with the office that... more
“I always imagine good parents teaching their children Spanish, or how to play the flute as soon as little Bri or Megan can sit up. I’ve taught mine how to consume pasta without silverware and zone out in front of the tube.” — Jerry Stahl, “Bad Moments in Parenting,” therumpus.netI wasn’t prepared for the guilt.Even though I’d heard of “mother’s... more
Parenting philosophies abound. But one aspect of parenting we can all agree on is that protecting our kids is a big job. A hot stove, the neighborhood bully, crossing the street — parents are forever looking out for things in life that could hurt our precious kiddos.For this mom, the unseen threats are even more frightening, which is why... more
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 drawers are... more
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 not just... more
I learned the hard way, when my kids were little, how quickly fun in the water can turn to danger.My father-in-law and I were seated at the poolside entertaining Elias, then a toddler, while my two older kids took a quick swim before lunch.As 7-year-old Louisa and 5-year-old Sebastian laughed and splashed in the shallow end, joyously demonstrating... more
Q: How can I protect my kids from ticks and Lyme disease this summer?A: Think small. The kind of tick bites you should be most concerned about come from deer ticks, which are smaller than the larger and more common wood ticks, also known as dog ticks.Many parents mistakenly think wood ticks can transmit Lyme disease. They can’t. (Be aware, though... more
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 my father,... more
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 health and... more
April is Financial Literacy Month, but as parents, we know teaching money matters is a year-round affair. Each trip to the store. When a child asks us about how much the house is worth. After handing over allowance. There are plenty of opportunities to talk about money. The problem is, money conversations can be uncomfortable and overwhelming... more
One of the best coaches I ever had as a kid was my older brother, Pete. He spent hours with me on our front lawn in the summer, patiently instructing me on how to position my glove to catch grounders, and how to keep my eye on the ball as I went after his pop-ups. On other occasions he taught me how to throw a football with a spiral, and he helped... more
Q: My kids love sports, but I’m concerned with overloading their schedules. How much is too much? A: Participation in sports can be very good for children and teens. It can promote positive socialization and help them develop skills for working through disputes and disagreements. It also helps them stay busy in positive activities... more
A: Cancer is an extremely challenging topic. And children have a limited ability to understand concepts like this. To help them understand, you will have to say repeated, short messages in very concrete and specific ways. It is important to tell them the truth. This can be very difficult for you personally because of the likely upcoming loss... more
A: The good news is that gone are the days when children were basically forced to do everything right handed — even if they preferred their left hand. Your daughter will likely learn a variety of techniques to help her adjust to many right-handed activities. If you know someone who is left-handed — like your husband — they will be able to... more
Tax time. If you’re like many Americans, you want to rush through them, or outsource them and be done. That is, until next year. But rushing through your taxes or failing to plan can mean costly mistakes, added hassle, or tax breaks left on the table. For parents with kids at home or in college, there are provisions in the tax code just... more
My kids generally enjoy school, but there are times — Monday mornings, for instance — when they complain that school takes up too much of their lives. I can understand the sentiment, even though I don’t believe it’s true. If you account for holidays, breaks and weekends, the total number of hours they spend in a classroom is much smaller per year... more
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 later, things... more
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 some... more
An oft-expressed regret of adults is the missed opportunity to learn a second language in those precious and fleeting years when language acquisition is a joyful task of exploration and acceptance for young minds, not the daunting undertaking many older language-learners encounter. Beyond the practical benefits for living and working in a hyper-... more
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 just like... more
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 hundreds of... more
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 that hid a... more
If you have a tween, you’ve been parenting long enough to have navigated a number of safety issues regarding your offspring, whether it’s seat belts, sunscreen, or secondhand smoke. But if you’re like me, you may have overlooked a concern that’s been right under your nose all along—or, more accurately, on either side of your head: hearing loss.... more
I should always bring Kleenex to parent-teacher conferences. Every October, it never fails: something a teacher says about one of my three children will cause a lump to form in my throat and tears to materialize. Parental pride mixes with gratitude as I think to myself, “This teacher really gets my kid!”Last fall, it was a conversation with my son... more
I’m not fond of waking up my 17-year-old daughter on school mornings. It can be downright dangerous. Even in a half-awake state, with her head buried under a twisted pile of blankets, Louisa can convey her anti-morning attitude with a powerful kick aimed in my direction.I try not to take it personally. That’s why I found it reassuring to read in a... more
The transition between summer vacation and the start of the school year reminds me of New Year’s Eve. It’s an opportune time to shed unhealthy habits and initiate positive ones that will lead to a more balanced life. And like New Year’s resolutions, school year resolutions are most successful when you realize that good intentions alone don’t get... more
When I read stories of children who start charitable foundations at age nine, or donate their birthday gifts to homeless kids, I can’t help but wonder what makes these givers so different from my seemingly selfish brood. My kids seem to possess little interest in helping others, focused more on how to increase their collection of LEGOs and stuffed... more
 Ripped from the headlines, the horror stories are many. Why would any parent allow their child to come home to—and stay in—an empty house when the world is so unpredictable?But there will come a time that your child will ask for more independence—like being allowed to return home after school versus going to an organized afterschool group or... more
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 your kids’... more
Hopefully your family hasn't personally experienced a job loss or pay cut in this gloomy economy, but chances are you know someone who has. Even if you feel relatively removed from this recession, saving money is on most everyone's mind, thanks to the dismal headlines. But there comes a point when you feel you can't cut anymore. If you've reached... more