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During my daughter’s last hospital stay, I received a tube, a bottle and a few jars of luxury hand cream — lavender-, grapefruit- and musk-scented emollients, in fancy, flowery packaging. It’s a thing. When people want to be supportive during a difficult time, they give you something that smells pretty. I knew about the casseroles, the lasagnas and the rotisserie chickens. But this part was a surprise.I appreciated the gesture, certainly. So many people have been kind to our family in... more
One of the coolest things about toddler parenting is the constant newness — new milestones, new friends, new foods, new experiences. Particularly satisfying is finding a wonderful new place to explore. If you haven’t already, take a trip to Jensen Lake in Eagan. For the sake of discussing the toddler-friendly nature of this location... 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
Q: Who should parents call if they suspect abuse at daycare?A: If you ever have any concerns that your child has been abused or neglected by a caregiver, contact your child’s doctor right away for advice on what to do next. This may involve an immediate office visit. If the issue is something that goes beyond what a doctor’s office can handle —... 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
You’ve finally arrived. You’re the parent of teenagers. You’ve made it through the sleepless nights of babyhood, the tedious making of multiple lunches and snacks every morning. You share your home with somewhat independent creatures that may not keep a tidy bathroom, but show glimmers of their own future adultness. It’s hard not to make... 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
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
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
“You don’t have to play the guitar, you know,” the photographer said to 15-year-old Donovan Mack.Sitting on a tall white box, Mack dangled his feet idly as he plucked notes from the instrument. “I like to,” he said, and the soft melody continued as Will Swanson, also 15, moved around him, snapping his camera, trying to capture different... more
As promised in last month’s issue, Dad’s Night Out (DNO) follows Mom’s Night Out (MNO).I really want to make it clear: You dads need to do this! Though it’s sometimes implied that new fathers inherently have more freedom (you don’t lease your womb to occupants, you don’t breastfeed), you, too, need to remember what it’s like to be autonomous... more
Mothers have a reputation of living their lives for other people. Indeed, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that for me, as a kindergarten teacher-mother of four, I could spend every waking hour doing something productive that involves some sort of service to others, whether that’s cooking family meals, doing laundry,... more
I have no excuse for my consternation. We’ve been warned for years. All along, we’ve heard comments in response to the antics of our kids’ younger personalities, playfully pointed out as little foreshadows of what might be yet to come: Oh, you think that’s bad? Just wait ’til they’re teenagers!She’s so pretty. Better watch out: You’... more
For parents of a child with a disability, it can be a challenge to find a summer camp that’s fun, rewarding and welcoming. “It’s so hard to find activities, especially for girls on the autism spectrum,” one mom told The PACER Center.PACER is out to change that. Every August for the past 14 years, PACER, located in Bloomington, has run its... more
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
The Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul, rather than reopening in mid-April as planned, will welcome visitors in June, due to a logistical delay in its multi-million-dollar renovations.The contractor hired to fabricate the parts of The Scramble — the museum’s new four-story climbing adventure, featuring two towers, a spiral slide and a netted... more
It's not too soon to start searching for the perfect Easter dress for your little girl! In a crowded market, these are the stand-outs.For more than a century, Feltman Brothers has delivered the most exquisite classic children's clothing. Theirs are the heirloom pieces you hand down generation to generation. And Feltman's new bouquet... more
Take a trip back in time to your childhood and think about how you loved to spend your days.Many of us can remember joyful, uninterrupted hours of play — whether it was spent building LEGO creations, constructing a fort in the woods or dreaming up imaginary worlds for our dolls. Flash forward to today’s jam-packed schedules, increased... more
Toddler Mom, the time has come to get out of the house. Wait. Let’s reorganize that thought: Out of the house, without child, showered and off to a destination other than Target, the gym, the indoor playground or work. Though you may have previously dabbled in the tradition of a good old Mom’s Night Out — MNO, as the increasingly acronym... more
Q: My 3-year-old has insanely smelly feet. Help! A: Ah, one of the unforgettable aromas of childhood.Yes, kids have sweaty feet — and sweaty bodies — for a good part of the day. They’re constantly in motion, frequently breaking into sprints or suddenly wrestling with friends, often exercising on and off all day long. From a... more
Sure, spring is technically “around the corner,” but in Minnesota, our reprieve from the cold usually comes not in March or April, but as late as June!Fortunately, we’ve got the scoop on indoor play spaces for kids in the Twin Cities — including more than two dozen venues — at mnparent.com/indoor.Two new additions to our list include... more
I remember, when I was a new mother, looking desperately to my mama friends for advice.I had one friend who — skipping the fake war stories and humblebrags I’d become accustomed to — bluntly said: “I just want a damn shower.” Please pardon the not-family-friendly language, but the inflection/anger is important here.Indeed, just wanting... more
Happy New Year, Minnesota parents!Will 2017 be a no-yell year for you? Will this be the year you finally take care of your marriage/partner/self (and not just your kiddos)? Will this be the year you become perfect and balanced and start going to the gym three times a week again?Of course it won’t. But as Amanda Bell — the #keepingitreal... more
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
It’s tempting to hibernate during a frigid Minnesota winter, but your tots have just as much energy to burn now as ever.Making the most of the season, however, requires a bit of creative thinking — not to mention a lot of winter wear. I was reminded of this recently when I helped my young daughters run their very own hot cocoa stand. (Yes,... more
There's something about Christmas that invites nostalgia -- tales of years past, faded photographs and images that remain timeless. The idea of an old-school Christmas feels refreshing as we become increasingly high-tech. If you're looking to visually counter our screen-addiction this holiday season, opt for the vintage -- and let your... 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
You’ve heard of The Elf on the Shelf. The 2004 children’s book and doll set has become a beloved, playful tradition among many families. It’s also caused backlash from parents who dislike the concept of a nanny-state elf who spies on kids and evaluates their behavior for gift worthiness.Well, what if you could have the playfulness of an annual... more
I recently took a walk around Como Lake in opposition of typical traffic flow.Not only did I see the knockout fall colors from another angle, but I also looked upon more faces. Intrigued, I actually made an effort to smile and nod — maybe say hello — to each and every person (and dog) I passed.Even if I felt shy, even if the passerby looked... more
Grab your aspiring astronomer and head outside: There's a supermoon! Because the moon's orbit has an elliptical shape, sometimes it is closer to Earth than other times. Astronomers call the closest-to-Earth moment the perigee. And what makes Nov. 14 special is that the moon "becomes full within about two hours of perigee -- arguably making it... 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
Parenting can be infinitely frustrating. It’s a grind that can suck the life out of even the most playful of parents.How can you bring back some of that magic?The answer, according to two Minneapolis moms, may be improv parentings classes, play days and camps. Improv Parenting is the brainchild of mother-of-three Keren Gudeman, an educator... 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
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
Like me, you may think of the car-buying process as something like grocery shopping at a box store on a Sunday afternoon, only worse. You know it’s going to be painful, but you grit your teeth and get it over with. Sure, you go home with what you need afterwards, but they didn’t have everything you wanted, and you probably spent more than you... more
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE our annual Toy Issue. My kiddos have participated in the official Minnesota Parent Toy Test, and I even rely on the results for holiday ideas. I’ve also genuinely loved checking out all the cool new toy favorites — old and new — with my kids, neighbors, nieces and nephews during each stage of childhood. But the... more
I’ve combed lookbooks and mined the web. It’s time to present my favorite fall fashion for little ones!We’re talking fair-isle foxes, mouse mittens and pleated pinafores! Whether you’re heading to the pumpkin patch or snapping a photo for the Christmas card, there’s no better season to don your beautiful children in beautiful clothes. This fall it... more
Summer may be considered prime picnic season, but Minnesotans know that autumn offers the most glorious opportunity to eat al fresco. If you're looking to make a meaningful memory as a family (and snag a gorgeous photo) without much fuss, now is the time to grab a blanket, fill a basket and search for a bright maple. They're at their peak... 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
Lil’ Kickers — a year-round children’s soccer program focused on child development — has come to the Twin Cities.Founded in Seattle in 1999, Lil’ Kickers has grown into national franchise with more than 100 locations in 28 states.It’s been popular in Chicago for more than 10 years and is now expanding north with two Minneapolis locations —... more
When it comes to fall family fun, it’s hard to beat a local pumpkin patch on a crisp, clear October day in Minnesota. Not only are our local farms glorious in autumn — with beautiful fields of U-pick pumpkins and golden mazes of rustling corn stalks — they’re also packed with other kid-friendly attractions, including hayrides, bouncy houses,... more
I've been on pumpkin look-out for several weeks now, and we happened to be at our local Cub the day the pumpkins arrived out front. I couldn't resist. I don't know why pumpkins make me so happy, but they do. I let Maria make a selection. She quickly zeroed in on a big pumpkin covered in warts. The only one with warts.In a sea of... 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
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
We just returned from the Dakota County Fair in Farmington, which has become a tradition for our family -- just as it was for my parents, who took my siblings and me every year when we were young. The beauty of the county-fair scene is the ease and access -- simpler parking, smaller crowds, plenty of furry friends and fried foods. The 4-H... more
The email arrived in all caps: "YOU NEED THIS FOR MARIA." And then, simply, this link.My fashionable friend Mollie is always scouring the interwebs for the best of the best, and she is kind enough to include toddler apparel on my behalf. When I spotted the darling suit, I couldn't resist its charms. Maria was even more delighted. I... more
Some days you have to stop and let the kids play in the rain. For us, this morning was one of those days. Maria showed Jane the ropes. She studied Big Sister's technique. Reached for Big Sister's hand. And soon was off to the races! Then we met up with Cousin and Grandma for more rainy fun. (Grandma never let a little rain... more
Do your kids like to play in the dirt? Build tree forts? Climb cliffs and careen through tunnels?If you’re nodding your head YES right now, you need to plan a trip to the newly updated Tamarack Nature Center, about 20 minutes north of St. Paul.Operated by Ramsey County Parks and Recreation, the center is located in a 320-acre preserve within Bald... more
Mosquito bites are the worst!Fortunately, we’ve found a new way to ease kids’ irritation and discomfort: Oilogic’s Bug Bites & Itches Essential Oil Roll-On is made with a blend of lavender, tea tree, lemon, citronella, spearmint and chamomile oils.It’s fragrant, soothing and safe for... more
Flower crowns are having a moment.Suri Cruise, the 10-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, recently appeared in her mom's Instagram feed sporting a dainty purple-and-yellow flower crown.Tiffani Thiessen (better known as Kelly Kapowski) decked out her 5-year-old daughter and a group of frocked friends in flower crowns this spring for a... more
I’ve become that mom who cannot stop talking about her kids. It’s gotten so obnoxious I’ve even begun meetings and presentations by whipping out photos. They’re just so important to me, so central to who I am. If you don’t know about them, you don’t really know me.I am passionate about my career as a writer. But becoming a mom has fulfilled... 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
Q: Our son was stung on his finger by a bee and his whole hand became swollen. Will his next sting be worse or cause an allergic reaction?A: Local reactions to bee stings — redness, swelling, pain and itching — are very common in children.The good news is that previously stung kids aren’t likely to have worse reactions the next time... more
1. Cut a watermelon in half and eat immediately with spoons. 2. Master somersaults.3. Have a teddy bear picnic at Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater.4. Take in a matinee with real butter popcorn at the Riverview Theater. Or hit the cheap seats in Hopkins.5. Make your own popsicles.6. Pajama day, all day.7. Make your own play dough.8. Lewis... more
Need to cool off this summer? Take a tour of the area's top splash pads!If you’re parenting an infant, toddler or non-swimmer, “relaxing by the pool” as a family may not come so easy.Kids need especially focused supervision around water and slippery surfaces.Splash pads, meanwhile, have been popping up all over the Twin Cities in... more
Summer in the Twin Cities is generally pretty glorious. After nine months of wool socks and Seasonal Affective Disorder, we see the sun emerge and suddenly forget the lengthy punishment we endured to get to this season of no coats.But there can be too much of a good thing, and yes, that even includes the summer sun.Whether we're motivated by a... more
The Twin Cities is home to an increasing number of playgrounds designed for kids of all abilities.St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development is hosting a grand opening on July 20 to celebrate the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion project at its Minnetonka campus.Among the features is a new inclusive... more
It's hard not to hang on to traditions. Some traditions deserve to stick around — like having as much milk as you can handle at the dairy booth during The Great Minnesota Get Together.Others might need a change of pace.In fact, it’s easy to get into a parenting rut: If something is successful and fun, common sense keeps you going back. But not me... 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
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
Take a walk through any craft or garden store and you’ll see them — miniature houses, teeny-tiny plants and dollhouse-sized outdoor furniture for making the newest craze in gardening: Fairy gardens!Children’s imaginations are well suited to this crafty activity. A pile of small rocks and pebbles becomes a walkway. A few sticks make a little... more
 The Twin Cities is home to a vast array of green spaces, including a fantastic mix of small neighborhood parks, many phenomenal regional parks and even a variety of educational farms nestled into urban areas. With so many choices, it’s easy to miss some of the metro’s lesser-known natural areas. If you’re looking for a new ... 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
What exactly is a baby-carrying backpack?Well, it’s basically a framed hiking backpack with a built-in area — called the “cockpit” — to hold your baby or toddler.Backpack carriers are a great way for the whole family to experience adventures together — both on hiking trails in the woods as well as around town (at the zoo, farmer’s market or even... 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
Under the federal law, all public pools and spas must have a variety of anti-entrapment systems installed.But not every pool or hot tub is public and not every pool is compliant with the law, which was named after a young girl who drowned after she was trapped under water by the suction from a hot-tub drain.Here’s what you need to know, courtesy... more
In Minnesota, we do a great job of making the most of winter, but we absolutely live for the immense relief at the end of our signature lengthy deep freeze. For parents of littles, there’s extra joy in the shift from bouncing off the walls to running barefoot and carefree through the fresh-cut grass. You’ve spent the winter months holed up,... more
The Okee Dokee Brothers are releasing their third CD/DVD — Saddle Up: A Western Adventure Album — on May 13. To celebrate, Minnesota Parent is giving away three signed copies! Enter to win by sending us a photo of your kid(s) playing outside for our June Outdoors Issue to editor@mnparent.com with a subject line of “SADDLE UP!” Please... more
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
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
When expecting our first child, we knew we were going to need a high chair, but we didn't know which one to choose. Our kitchen is pretty small, so we definitely didn't have space for a freestanding high chair — they seemed too big to me anyway. We agreed getting a high chair that straps onto a regular chair made the most sense. When... more
Q: Your advice in the November issue — recommending that parents generally avoid multivitamins for their kids (mnparent.com/vita-mn) — prompted me to write. I believe the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the recommendation of a daily supplement of vitamin D. I didn’t see this mentioned in your article. Do you happen to know what... 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
I remember when my kids were young and our evenings were spent with them playing with the neighbors’ kids in the street. While they rode bikes or rollerskated, I chatted with the other parents of the neighborhood and went in and out as I got dinner ready. I usually had a glass of white wine on the counter that I’d sip between... more
I wrote about childcare in a previous column — when to start looking for it (ideally about five years before you get pregnant or adopt your child), why you need it (so you can get work done) and how you should feel about it (not guilty).What strikes me now is how utilitarian this view is. And I don’t think it’s just me; when I talk to other... 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
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
Parenting has changed. No, I’m not referring to the changes one sees from generation to generation, I’m talking about what it was like to parent a mere 10 years ago.You know what we didn’t have then? Smartphones. Tablets. Phablets. Screen time.Today many of us sleep with our smart phones at the ready (if not under our pillows). And we’re... 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
Minnesota is home to a stunning selection of nature centers that offer programming for even the youngest of kids — as well as older explorers and would-be naturalists. Below are some highlights. Find more at exploreminnesota.com.Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul, dodgenaturecenter.orgEastman Nature Center, Dayton, tinyurl.com/... 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
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
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
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
Running has always been therapeutic for me. I’ve been a runner for more than 20 years — and the lead therapist for the Health Partners Regions Hospital Running Program for the past eight.So when I became pregnant for the first time, I wanted to be able to continue running as much as my body allowed.After a successful delivery, I was ready to... more
As a lifelong Minneapolis resident, I’m a big fan of summer in the Twin Cities. When I was growing up, summer meant long days at the Richfield pool, bike rides around Lake Nokomis and visits to Dairy Queen after my soccer games at Pearl Park. And when I eventually reached adulthood, summers took on new significance — the best time to... 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
The Roarin’ Shark Shade Pool ($34.99) from Intex is 80 inches wide and holds 32 gallons of water. Its partial sunshade and inflatable floor make it a good fit for the toddler set.It’s recommended for ages 2 and older. 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
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
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
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
My in-laws live in rural Maine, and this means ample opportunities for outdoor fun when we visit. One time, when my daughter was about 2½ and my son was around 8 months old, we decided to take them on a hike. We read about a relatively easy trail that meandered through a forest before ending with the great reveal of a magnificent... 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
Are you a free-range parent? Or do you, like me, fall into the “reluctant helicopter” camp?Do you let your children play unsupervised, running around your neighborhood for entire afternoons without knowing their exact whereabouts? Would you let your kids walk home from the park even if it were a mile away and crossed a six-lane highway... 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
Babiators ($20-$30) — designed for ages 6 months and older — look stylin’, yes. But what’s more? They’re nearly unbreakable and, if you do break or even lose them within a year of purchase, the company will send you a free replacement pair, as long as you register your pair within 30 days of purchase (shipping isn’t covered). 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
New this spring from high-quality helmet-maker Nutcase, is The Baby Nutty helmet ($44.99) for ages 12 months and older (for heads 47 to 50 centimeters in diameter) — because “Even babies wanna bike.”With the popularity of balance bikes among toddlers soaring, it makes sense to start them young on head protection. Styles so far include Petal... 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
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
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
Q: Can you please explain the risks associated with frigid weather so we can get our teenager to dress sensibly this winter?A: Winter weather presents two big risks for anyone, regardless of age: Frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is a condition in which skin tissue will get cold enough to freeze. It’s most commonly seen when skin is... more
Ah, autumn. It’s the perfect time to get out and explore Minnesota’s family farms. Here are a couple Minnesota Parent picks to get you inspired and motivated! (Hint: Bring cash or check. Not all farms take credit!)Pumpkin Patch PickOne of the ultimate destinations for fall family fun in the Twin Cities is Sever’s Corn Maze & Fall Festival... 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
Making baby food at home is a great way to save money. It also cuts down on the amount of garbage and recycling you produce compared to buying prepackaged baby food. Another crucial product I used when making baby food for my daughter was my DYMO LetraTag Personal Label Maker. It's really easy to use, and you can switch label cartridges in a... more
I’m afraid of snakes. Irrationally, terribly afraid. So when I saw one in my yard — MY yard — last week, I did not take it lightly. A true monster, this garter was fully grown — upwards of 20 inches.It slid away as I moved a bag of grass clippings along my garage. Faster than I would have thought possible, right into a row of thick bushes. ... more
Q: My daughter seems to react strongly when sunscreen is applied near her eyes, nose and mouth, and now she refuses to let us put it on. What can we do?A: In many ways, sunscreen lotions have great success preventing sunburns — and also reducing long-term cancer risks. And, in recent years sunscreen lotions have been made to be... more
Q: My son refuses to wear a life vest each time we go out on a boat. What can I do?A: Life vests, especially for younger children and toddlers, are an essential safety need, so this really can’t be optional. If you meet significant resistance, here are some things you can try:• If possible, have your child... more
Kipton got his first “big boy” bike for Christmas this year. It’s a blue Huffy with training wheels. And of course it had the one feature he insisted on — the world’s loudest horn. Naturally, he grew more and more restless to try his bike as the winter dragged on. When it was finally warm enough for him to give it a try outside, he pedaled... 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
“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
Finding an age-appropriate playground for your child can be difficult. You don’t want big kids trampling your little kid — or little kids always in the way of your big kid. And sometimes it can seem impossible to find the right mix of adventure and age-appropriateness all in one place.But that shouldn’t keep you from getting out — far from it.... more
Minnesota may be known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the North Star State is also home to several stunning waterfalls that are roaring right now, thanks to the big spring melt made all the more powerful by an especially snowy winter. Plus, waterfalls provide a key ingredient for family-friendly outings — a final destination with a special... 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
Well, time will only tell just when spring will arrive for good. But, when it does, you’ll be ready with our May issue of Minnesota Parent magazine!We're taking you to five different waterfalls across the state — perfect outings with young kids who really need a goal, such as a gorgeous destination, to get motivated. Then we’ll help you get busy... 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
Q: We’re past the stage of baby-and-me swimming classes. When is a good time to enroll my twin sons in swimming lessons?A: Helping children be safe and comfortable in and near the water can start at a very young age, as you’ve already learned. Once a child is about 3 years old, families can usually find places in their community that hold... 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
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
With Earth Day approaching, you might be wondering how to involve your toddler in the ecological discussion. They are old enough now to enjoy some Earth Day events, participate in eco-friendly habits such as recycling, and even start to see that their world goes beyond your finished basement.“Now wait, Jen,” some of you might say, “we already... 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
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
My mom took up running when I was in high school. Although she’d never considered herself an athlete—she grew up in the pre-Title IX era, before it was OK for girls to sweat—she got caught up in the running craze of the 1980s, and she tried to recruit me, too.It was not an easy sell. I was a basketball player best known for my free-throw shot;... more