Stages
School Age
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 include vouchers for ordering caterpillars, which can lead to additional shipping and handling charges. $24.99–$29.99 • amazon.com 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 • newharbinger.com 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 • amazon.com 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 skiandboardmn.com, 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 minnesotagrown.com 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 minnesotagrown.com 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. Urban Expedition: NigeriaThe historic Landmark Center is a picturesque place to spend a Sunday as a family, especially when free... 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 store.discovery.com or amazon.com. 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 (tinyurl.com/study-mn). 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 kidsbowlfree.com 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 kidyogamn.com. 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 (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
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 halloweencandybuyback.com 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: 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
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
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
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 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
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