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Technology
More than 40 percent of mothers choose to stay at home for a significant amount of time after having children.Reentering the workforce, however, can be a bear.In Moms For Hire: 8 Steps to Kickstart Your Next Career, L.A. film and television producer (and single mother of four) Deborah Jelin Newmyer offers encouragement and solid advice as well as creative exercises, practical worksheets and inspiring anecdotes from well-known working moms.An hour a day, the author says, is all it takes to... 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
When my best friend had her first child, she couldn’t believe how hard it was caring for a baby. She’d heard all the stories about sleepless nights, endless crying and nasty diaper blowouts.She was a longtime babysitting pro and an auntie, too. She was great with kids. She even worked with elementary school children for a living. She had all... more
Gina Matter was a kid when she fell in love with the story of Harry Potter. She discovered the books by J.K. Rowling when she was a struggling reader. Her mother started reading the stories aloud to her before bed.“The series captivated me so much, I began to pick up the books and continue on without her,” Matter said.Today Matter — who lives... more
The Midwest Fetal Care Center in Minneapolis was a marvel when it opened a year ago, offering life-saving fetal surgeries to babies in utero, including twins. Now the center has expanded its services to include open fetal surgeries with a special emphasis on treating spina bifida.Literally meaning “split spine,” the condition (which begins... 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
Kitestring calls itself “your virtual overprotective mom.”It’s a free, text-based service (not an app) invented by an MIT student who was worried about his girlfriend getting home OK.To use it, you text a time frame to Kitestring. When the time frame has passed, the service sends you a text, asking you to check in. If you don’t respond, Kitestring... more
Bring on the next MasterChef Junior! Sized just right for little hands, this 17-piece intro-to-baking box was a hit during our annual Toy Test.But this gift set isn’t just a toy. All the tools and pieces are designed for real cooking and repeat use.Though technically recommended for ages 3 and older, it seems like a good fit (with supervision) for... more
This teething ring — made from untreated Indian hardwood and finished with vegetable seed wax — features the added bonus of bunny-esque ears made of organic cotton.If you’re feeling overwhelmed by plastic, check out these “teething ears” (available in many prints and colors) — along with rest of the amazing-looking Finn & Emma collection.... more
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture different... more
As promised in last month’s issue, Dad’s Night Out (DNO) follows Mom’s Night Out (MNO).I really want to make it clear: You dads need to do this! Though it’s sometimes implied that new fathers inherently have more freedom (you don’t lease your womb to occupants, you don’t breastfeed), you, too, need to remember what it’s like to be autonomous... 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
I have no excuse for my consternation. We’ve been warned for years. All along, we’ve heard comments in response to the antics of our kids’ younger personalities, playfully pointed out as little foreshadows of what might be yet to come: Oh, you think that’s bad? Just wait ’til they’re teenagers!She’s so pretty. Better watch out: You’... 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
Stay-at-home moms — and veterans — often face huge challenges when trying to return to the workforce. Many employers mistakenly view them as unemployable or undesirable because of their so-called employment gaps. But the Minneapolis office of the IT-consulting firm York Solutions has successfully launched a new initiative — called... more
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black hole.This... more
Take a trip back in time to your childhood and think about how you loved to spend your days.Many of us can remember joyful, uninterrupted hours of play — whether it was spent building LEGO creations, constructing a fort in the woods or dreaming up imaginary worlds for our dolls. Flash forward to today’s jam-packed schedules, increased... 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
Each year, 250,000 children in the U.S. are treated for exposure to cleaning products at home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.Finding alternatives to harsh, potentially harmful cleaning agents is one way to protect children from accidental poisonings.Fortunately, non-toxic cleaning products can be just as effective and are far... 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
Squeezy bath toys are super fun! But how do you ever really get them clean?If the very thought of mold potentially growing inside your kid’s bath toys creeps you out, we suggest you check out Marcus & Marcus’ silicone squirting bath toys, which can be taken apart and easily and air dried — or even run through the dishwasher (top rack only).... more
Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?Of course it won’t. But as Amanda Bell — the #keepingitreal... more
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand. (Yes,... 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
The first Tree of Life image I saw was in a closed Facebook group of breastfeeding mamas in the Twin Cities. Ashley Vanderwerf shared a photo she edited in a post to the group. Screenshot shared with permissionThe original post Her post was simple and beautiful:"I edited this picture of my daughter nursing. If anyone wants me to make them... more
“Watching TV with your teens presents all kinds of pitfalls: out-of-the-blue raunchy sex scenes, a surprise bloodbath (Game of Thrones, anyone?) and other awkward moments you never wanted to share with your kids.”So says Common Sense Media’s TV Editor, Polly Conway, who recommends 10 teen-safe shows to bridge the gap at tinyurl.com/teen-... more
The group of parents now raising tweens is the last to grow up — basically — without the Internet. The good news is that, having received our first email addresses on dinosaur systems as college students, we DO know how the web works. We all have Facebook (well almost all of us), plus most of its cousins. We’re hooked on getting answers... more
Three years ago, I reluctantly bought my then-fifth-grade daughter her first cell phone. We were new to the state and I didn’t have the comfort of known friends/neighbors to count on if a soccer practice ended early, or if I was running late to pick her up from school.I broke with my own firm belief that no elementary schooler should need his... 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
Q: Our teenager listens to music with over-ear headphones and she CRANKS them so loud! What is her risk of noise-induced hearing loss?A: If you’ve ever been to a music concert and left experiencing ringing in your ears and difficulty hearing, you know firsthand that loud sounds can cause hearing damage. Most of the time, attending a... 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
Meddy Teddy — a “100 percent yoga-poseable” bear — isn’t the first toy to encourage kids to practice yoga.But Meddy, with his serene smile and peacefully closed eyes, may be the first to also encourage meditation, a mindfulness practice parents are finding surprisingly effective in dealing with behavior problems.One Baltimore elementary school... 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
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE our annual Toy Issue. My kiddos have participated in the official Minnesota Parent Toy Test, and I even rely on the results for holiday ideas. I’ve also genuinely loved checking out all the cool new toy favorites — old and new — with my kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews during each stage of childhood. But the... more
KoalaSafe creates a new wi-fi network in your home that’s set up just for the kids.You can restrict the hours that the Internet is on, block sites by name or category (such as “adult” or “social media”) or block specific apps (such as Snapchat).You can require YouTube SafeSearch and Google SafeSearch to restrict inappropriate search results, too.... 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
The single-serving juice box (or milk box) is the ultimate on-the-go toddler beverage — until your little one promptly squeezes the liquid right out of it, turning its straw into a terribly interesting fountain.MyDrinky — a rigid plastic, dual-handled, two-piece case — was designed to prevent such spills.Our Minnesota Parent test toddler (age 3)... more
Infant gear can be so ugly!Who’s this stuff for anyway? Babies?Enter modern-American designer Jonathan Adler, who recently partnered with Fisher-Price on a new line of contemporary items, including a chic little vibrating bouncer with a built-in mobile, featuring a signature high-contrast black-and-white fabric, plus walnut wood accents. $119... more
It’s autumn: What better time to get the kids in the kitchen?And what better tools than the Le Petit Chef set from Opinel.Minnesota Parent’s 8-year-old tester (not exactly a huge culinary-arts enthusiast) loved this stainless steel knife-peeler set.Each tool encourages proper hand positioning with strategically placed learning rings that prevent... 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
The Twin Z Pillow is the nursing pillow to try if you have multiples.It’s E-shaped and works differently than a Boppy.You put the middle part behind your back for support and then wrap the sides around your waist and click them together in front of you.Our Moe-Mama’s-Must-Haves blogger (a mother of three, including now-9-month- old twins) has... 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
I never had such an appreciation for “the little things” in life until I had a brand-new baby in the house. In other words, when you haven’t had more than two consecutive hours of sleep in the last two months, you’ll appreciate anything that makes your life even slightly easier (dry shampoo, Bite Squad gift cards) or that takes your mind... more
Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age — a 2016 documentary that explores how much screen time is too much — is now available for screenings nationwide.We here at Minnesota Parent wish someone would screen the film locally this year. Find out how at screenagersmovie.com, where parents also can find tons of resources — including “pro-social”... more
The Okee Dokee Brothers are releasing their third CD/DVD — Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album — on May 13. To celebrate, Minnesota Parent is giving away three signed copies! Enter to win by sending us a photo of your kid(s) playing outside for our June Outdoors Issue to editor@mnparent.com with a subject line of “SADDLE UP!” Please... 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 (tinyurl.com/study-mn). Among other things, I learned that kids age 8 to 12 average about six hours of “entertainment... more
I watch the news every morning with a cup of coffee in my hands — like clockwork — at 6:05 to be exact. The kids know this is the only time no one (not even dad) can ask to change the channel. No cartoons, no Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, no stage audience laughs, just the news.  My teenage son, who is up at 6 a.m. for the 7 a.m. bus, sits... more
Over the last couple years, my husband and I have taken it upon ourselves to introduce our 15-year-old to some of things we loved when we were teenagers.Call it a walk down nostalgia lane. We’ve had many a Friday night listening to music, hopping around Spotify to find our favorites. Inevitably, it always returns to the ’80s.My son, who plays... 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
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
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
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
Our daughter was about to turn 2 and we thought we were ready to have another baby. My husband and I each grew up with an older sister and we wanted our daughter to grow up with a sibling, too. Watching her play with her dolls and stuffed animals really showed the potential she has to be an amazing big sister.It wasn't long before I suspected I... more
Does your toddler love to drool on your laptop while he FaceTimes with Nana or watches YouTube Elmo videos?The Kid Lid ($29) straps easily on to 13- and 15-inch Apple and PC laptops to protect them from liquids as well as unwanted typing.We put it to the test — with a lot of kid pounding and pressing — and the keyboard was delightfully... 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
Every day a new app comes along, promising to make life better, easier or more fun. But they can’t all be that great. Luckily for us, we have Valerie Moe, Minnesota Parent’s tech-savvy mom blogger from Bloomington.She’s into apps — like really into apps — and recently she’s been sharing some of her favorites for parents and parents-to-be, too! All... more
Our children are growing up in a fast-paced world. We as parents are forging new territory with our responsibilities to monitor and screen our children’s exposure to electronic media and content.It can be a time-consuming challenge to navigate the wealth of information and resources available for our children, especially when selecting... 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
Manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development — yes, even when the kids in question are using digital apps. So goes the mantra of Tiggly, the makers of interactive toys for tablets — including Shapes for toddlers and math-focused Counts for ages 3 to 6. Minnesota Parent’s 6-year-old toy tester tried both sets with... 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 have a picture of my son excitedly holding a small box that had arrived in the mail. It was taken just weeks before he started middle school. In it, his ecstatic expression says it all: I have arrived. I am among the elite. I have a phone.A few months into the school year, he realized: As exciting as it was to pull it out and text... 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
I take a lot of photos of my daughter... and I mean a LOT. We took her to the Minnesota Zoo for the first time over the weekend, and I took over 200 photos between by phone and digital camera. We were at the zoo for about four hours. When photographing my daughter, I usually take about 10 photos at a time in hopes that I'll end up with one... more
It was official — I was pregnant. I'd suspected I could be, taken a home test and gotten confirmation from my doctor's office. What happened next?One of the first things I did after getting the results from my blood test was to go to Target and pick up a copy of the book every expectant mother should read. Of course I'm talking about What to... 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 (tinyurl.com/zips1977) 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
Being a new mom is overwhelming. Amidst the post-delivery waves of emotions, you're expected to know details about everything relating to your baby. In the hospital, the nurses ask you how many wet or dirty diapers has your newborn had today (and they're speaking in 24-hour increments since the time of birth, not calendar days), when did you last... 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
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your kids as safe as possible. But when it comes to car-seat safety, it’s often easier said than done.  Not only do the laws change when new information about best practices becomes available, sometimes we assume that the legal requirements (see resources below) are enough, when, in... 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
It’s a rule nearly every parent breaks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under two have no exposure to screens. That guideline was hard enough to follow when it applied to background TV and baby videos. Now that very young children are reaching for smartphones and tablets, most parents hand them over sooner 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
As the parent of a ninth-grader devoted to her iPod, a seventh grader who’s enamored of video games, and a fourth-grader who knows his way around YouTube, I worry about the increasing role technology plays in my children’s lives.Yes, I am an old fogey. I prefer print copies of magazines, newspapers, and books. I just bought a CD at a store instead... more