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Has bullying become our new normal?Many parents and educators have anecdotal evidence that bullying has been on the rise, and experts point to disturbing statistics: More than one out of every five students say they’ve been bullied, according to 2016 data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. But here’s a ray of light: Five out of five students can become “upstanders,” kids who take action when they see bullying happening. Most parents want to raise kids who would never... more
People who follow Minnesota writer Bao Phi on Facebook know that his feed is like a live memoir. His anecdotes about parenting, and his musings on writing, life and the world can be a joy to follow. In fact, one of his Facebook posts — a poignant story about going shopping with his 8-year-old daughter, Sông, and losing her in the store —... more
The chatter is everywhere: A gap year — once considered a questionable, even risky path reserved for unsure seniors — is now a viable, respectable alternative to starting university course work.In fact, a gap year seems to be an increasingly legitimate part of the American post-grad experience.And yet, I never thought it would be something I’d... more
Ahhhh! Today is officially the first day of fall. This is me embracing autumn: Give me all the pumpkins, sweaters, hayrides and leaves. And throw in a fox or two for good measure. (If you can knit them into a fair-isle sweater, so much the better.) This season gives me all the feels, and it makes me want to squeeze out every... more
Is your kid ready to go beyond sight words?Encouraging interactive wordplay and early storytelling is the goal of My First Magnetic Story Board, featuring 100 word and punctuation magnets that help kids create simple sentences and even basic stories!$29.99 • lakeshorelearning.com more
     Quick, punchy, easy-to-jump-into chapters — penned by Erin Leyba, a family counselor, parenting blogger and mother of three — are the draw for Joy Fixes for Weary Parent: 101 Quick, Research-Based Ideas for Overcoming Stress and Building a Life You Love.“Joy fixes are not about chasing happiness — a temporary pleasure,” Leyba... more
Throwing a gathering any time soon? This crowd-pleasing recipe — courtesy of our Nana & Mama writers — is easy to double, and it’s kid friendly, too.Nana’s Homemade Mac and CheeseIngredients ½ pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained6 tablespoons butter, divided3 tablespoons flour1 tablespoon dry mustard3 cups milk½ cup yellow... more
Teenagers need family. They may not say it. In fact, their outward actions seem to defy this. Their eyes are always on their phones. They hide in their rooms, binge-watching Netflix, while still texting in five group chats at once. Sometimes, I think I’m really having a good conversation with them and I realize they didn’t hear my last verbal... more
Summer is fading into a collage of memories. Looking back, I’m truly grateful for the special moments I was able to create and for the experiences I had with my family. Though my kids are older now (6, 8, 10 and 12), it seems like just yesterday I was trudging through the thickness of my early years of parenting. (Leaving behind the days of... more
Oh, how we love The Bazillions!The Minneapolis-based kindie-rock band has been getting families’ toes tapping since 2010 with guitar-driven tunes and pitch-perfect harmonies with a touch of twang. (Do they remind anyone else of the Barenaked Ladies?) And now they’ve put out their fourth studio album, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook, just in time to get... more
So, just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to change anything about how you live your life, right?I mean, all the stuff you used to do just needs to be done in a way that includes your little cherubs, who — by definition — do nothing but broaden and enrich the experiences you already enjoy.This is especially true in restaurants: You can... more
We took the kids to Schulze Lake in Eagan, stood at the water’s edge and experienced a magical summer evening opening up before us.  It was one of those nights when you notice the cast of the light and the warmth of the breeze, when you sink your toes into the sand and time slows, when the kids can just be kids…and so can the adults.It felt... more
Is there anything better than a fluffy friend? Pets can teach valuable lessons to kids, like the importance of kindness, sharing, responsibilities and even loss. They’re also darn cute. Crack these books open to explore not just the wacky adventures of adorable creatures, but also how kids should act around animals.The Best Days Are Dog DaysA day... more
Q: The AAP now says parents and infants should sleep in the same room through age 1. But I can’t sleep because I wake up with every false cry my baby makes! Can I break this rule?A: In October 2016, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) officially recommended that in order to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies... more
Ew, ew, eeeeeeew. If your kid doesn’t have lice, you don’t have to think about it. But having a bit of knowledge — if the little black sesame-seed-sized bugs do creep into your life — isn’t a bad idea.In honor of back-to-school season, here’s the latest on head lice treatments for that fateful day when the... more
When we asked Minneapolis mamas, “Do you bribe your kids for certain behaviors?” — the confessions flowed like red wine on a Mama’s Night Out. The answer was a resounding yes! with all sorts of bribery booty involved, ranging from single M&Ms — given out one at time — to straight-up cash. You’ll find no judgment here. We’ve all... more
A frequent lament of my Motherhood & Words students is the challenge of carving out time to write. There’s the tower of laundry on the sofa in the living room, the dinner that needs to be made, the sick child home from school, the co-worker calling to find out why you haven’t emailed the report that was due two minutes ago. With all... more
“Practical solutions grounded in neuroscience” are at the heart of this revered book by Colleen O’Grady, a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than 25 years’ experience and a mother to a once-teenage daughter of her own.Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter explores the teen brain, the... more
Junior year for my first born is finally done. Honestly, I think they should’ve given us parents a ceremony, something with certificates of completion and small speeches. I realize that, in generations past, a boy of 16 would practically be an adult. Sixteen-year-olds of yore had to prove their manhood/womanhood in dramatic ways. They... more
Nalgene’s new Lunch Box Buddy is sturdy, simple, easy to clean and offers plenty of room for your own reusable containers.Our 9-year-old test kid loved it and so did Mama, thanks to its light weight, easy-on neoprene case and a cool ice pack that can be used to divide its spacious storage cavity three different ways.The box (which features a flip-... more
The start of the school year is creeping up on the calendar. As a teacher mama, the flip of the calendar to August always brings forward a plethora of mixed feelings. August is truly a month to enjoy summer in Minnesota, so I try to spend most of the month on or near a lake. Indeed, I savor the last month of my summer break. But I also... more
Wondering which backpack to get for your kid’s preschool or kindergarten debut? We recommend you skip the Minions and Princess Poppy rucksacks — and opt for one of these awesome options, chosen for their long-term durability, comfort/ergonomics and enduring designs (guaranteed to outlast your child’s latest cartoon-character obsession). ... more
Do you ever wonder how preschool teachers get 18 children (or more) from their classrooms to the playground, when you struggle to get your one child out the door in the morning? Wonder no more: Local teachers-turned-authors Deb Ellsworth and Tina Charney are letting you in on the tricks of the trade.Their new book, Your Amazing Preschooler:... more
It’s zucchini season! Also known as summer squash, these green or yellow fruits are available at farmers markets now. Celebrate the season by turning them, skin and all, into kid-friendly tots — a great side for breakfast or dinner.Zucchini totsIngredientsOil or cooking spray1 1/2 zucchini 1 large egg, beaten1/4 medium onion, minced1/4 cup... more
In preparation for writing this month’s column, I spent considerable time skimming articles online about the benefits of preschool.  And the prevailing wisdom seems to be that preschool probably has the biggest positive impact on kids who don’t have the advantage of super-engaged parents. Preschool for those kids is crucial.But for kids with... more
Try-on-at-home clothing services seem to be taking over the world. Adults have Stitch Fix and Prime Wardrobe (and many others). Kids have Runchkins, Kidbox and Rockets of Awesome (truly awesome, in our experience), to name a few. And now a local mama of three girls — professional stylist Wendy Witherspoon of Edina — is getting in on the... more
If your kids are little and your budget is tight, the idea of traveling may seem like a joke: How can your family afford Disney World when you can barely scrape together enough to cover daycare and a holiday trip to visit your in-laws? And what’s so romantic about taking kids in diapers on the road, anyway?I feel you.But travel is important — not... more
Getting kids to play outside should be easy. But sometimes — in this age of nature-deficit disorder/screen-time and a strictly enforced culture of helicopter parenting — it seems like it’s never been more difficult.However, I’m here to tell you: Our kids really, really want it — water, dirt, air and mud, lots of mud — yes, even the... more
Welcome to our Special Needs Issue!I’m so excited to be bringing you a magazine with this new, important theme.Although we try to address special needs in every issue of Minnesota Parent — typically in our On Behavior department as well as throughout the magazine — I felt we needed to step up our game. And, boy, did we learn a lot in putting... more
I cannot read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to my son without welling up with huge, mama-bear tears. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.Except when you don’t.Because, sometimes, you won’t.I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-upsand Hang-ups can happen to... more
Q: When do kids need to start seeing an orthodontist?A: Although most kids aren’t ready for orthodontics until middle school, it’s a good idea to have children evaluated early. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all kids receive a check-up with an orthodontic specialist by no later than age 7. By this age, most kids... more
Summer is here! And that means (we hope) you’ll have a little extra time for reading with the kids — at home, at the cabin or in the car.Get started with three, new super-engaging books for babies and toddlers, plus six highly visual books to keep school-aged kids busy with critical-thinking challenges and creative play! Out of the BoxPuppet... more
Photo by Tracy WalshSplish splashThe Twin Cities has become Splash Pad Central in recent years, including small neighborhood haunts as well as bigger spaces such as the 1-acre splash pad at Valleyfair’s Soak City waterpark in Shakopee.We especially love the Central Park Interactive Fountain in Maple Grove (pictured above) and the Burnsville Lions... more
When it comes to adding another child to your family — and perhaps taking the plunge to go beyond two kids — how do parents decide? Even more important, how do parents make their bigger families work? Forty-eight percent of Americans believe two children is the ideal number of children to have, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center... more
Balsamic vinaigrette is a go-to recipe for many home cooks, but sometimes it can be overpowering and even a bit sour.This five-minute recipe solves that little issue with two secret ingredients (maple syrup and Dijon mustard), dramatically reinventing this go-to dressing for just about any summer salad.Maple-Balsamic VinaigretteIngredients3/4 cup... more
Invented by a Nashville schoolteacher to help parents and kids connect more (ideally 30 minutes a day), this Gnome on the Roam set includes a storybook, a journal, a magical-looking stick pen, a miniature suitcase and a 6-inch-tall, ready-to-decorate PVC gnome.A companion app is designed to inspire exploration — and photo taking — for a modern... more
Parents will often go to great lengths to ensure the safety, security, health and wellbeing of their children. But there’s one part of protecting kids that parents often overlook (or simply find unthinkable): “What if something happens to us?” Parents give of themselves — financially, physically, emotionally — to ensure the best for... more
We live in an age where we’re always on the move. And that societal rhythm affects the heightened pace we keep as a family. As a mom, I know I’m the metronome in setting the tempo for our kids — maybe even more so than their dad is. And as you may have heard me mention before, I prefer a normal walking speed as opposed to that... more
Justin was really excited to be enrolled in a summer day camp. And his mom, Sophie, was happy that he was taking part in a quality parks and rec program in their community. Then came the phone call from the program director: Justin’s behavior at camp was unacceptable.It had begun on the playground on the second day of camp with bullying of... more
Is the term “work-life balance” the ultimate oxymoron of our times? Many of us struggle with the challenge of remaining fully engaged in the all-important work of raising one (or more) decent human beings, while also being a fully dedicated and productive worker. And for those who work from home (which is, face it, all of us at one time... more
Whether by birth or adoption, your transition from non-parent to parent covers about two years and change — two years of monumental, unparalleled, bonkers, worrisome, heartbreaking, heart-healing change. My daughter, my firstborn, changed me in about 5 billion ways. From the foods I ate, to the medical choices I made, to what I did with my... more
“So, honey, do you want to go to the park now?” Wait: Let’s pause for a moment. Toddlers tend to enjoy going to parks, right? In fact, your toddler (let’s call him Max) this very morning demanded a visit to the park. Of course, you didn’t appreciate his whiny tone, and you reminded him that polite requests can get you far in life. ... more
Tim Webert of Plymouth was at his son’s hockey game in 2014 when he witnessed the tragedy of a seemingly healthy young boy dying because of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. “We immediately wondered if our kids had healthy hearts,” Webert said. “As I sought options to have their hearts checked, I was told there are no readily... more
Most kids love juice boxes. But if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, they’re not a great choice. Fortunately, mothers Laurie Ambrose from Chanhassen and Lisa Amundson (a dentist from Woodbury) — sisters who collectively have six kids! — have come up with a cool alternative that’s perfect for families.Their new kidsWATER drink boxes... more
Robbinsdale really is the new, hot place to be.It’s where you can find two of the Twin Cities’ trendiest restaurants — Pig Ate My Pizza and Travail Kitchen & Amusements (not to mention Victory 44, just a stone’s throw to the east in North Minneapolis). In the heart of Birdtown — on a single two-block stretch — you’ll find the... 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
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... 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
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
Jennifer, a mom of two, was standing at the kitchen counter, slicing an apple for her son, Michael, when she heard a horrendous banging noise coming from the other side of the room. She immediately turned around to see her son smashing the door of the refrigerator with a baseball bat.“Stop! Stop!” she screamed as she wrestled the bat away... 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
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
“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
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
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
Parents are unwittingly putting children in increased danger because of common car seat mistakes. Here's how to keep your favorite tiny passengers safe.Installation rules, manufacturer regulations, confusing gadgetry and ever-evolving laws that vary by age — trying to understand car seat safety can feel like falling blindly into a black hole.This... more
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
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
We survived!In fact, the big day went as well as I possibly could've hoped.All year, Nov. 26 loomed large on our calendar. It would be the biggest day of our year, the wedding of my husband's younger brother. Much as I looked forward to this occasion, I also took a deep inhale: We're talking an out-of-state wedding where my husband would be... 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
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
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
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
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
Date night, anyone? Girls’ night? Guys’ night? How about just a little “you” time?Drop N’ Shop — an entertainment center for children — is now open at the Mall of America and offering drop-in childcare for ages 6 weeks to 12 years.Located on Level 3 at Sears Court, the facility offers activities such as Zumba and yoga for kids, arts and crafts,... more
Heads up: The Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul will be closed from Sept. 6 to 9 and Sept. 12 to 16 for annual maintenance.Technicians will use the time to tune up the exhibit galleries and the Omnitheater for the fall and winter seasons.Upcoming events at the museum include: Playdates: Every Tuesday between 10 a.m. and noon, the museum... 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
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
We're in the middle of a heat wave in Minnesota, and that means hot cars. Hot cars also mean hot car seats. Today I'd like to share a trick I figured out to help keep your little one's car seat (especially the buckles) from getting too hot. The idea came to me a couple weeks ago, and in the heat this past Wednesday I finally tested it out.... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
When I think about traveling with small children, I’m often reminded of the title of a David Foster Wallace book — A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Travel with kids can be tough. It can be frustrating. It can also be fun and entertaining if you approach the trip with the right mindset: “I’m open to change and I can see the humor in... 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
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
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: I’m pregnant. What can I do to protect myself against the Zika virus?A: Zika virus disease has become an international health concern because of the multiple countries currently affected by the virus. Mexico, Central America and the northern two-thirds of South America are countries where the virus currently is causing infections.... more
Q: Help! My baby despises her car seat and cries during every ride. A: This is a very challenging situation and a very good question. Being unhappy in a car seat can be related to a number of different causes: She may be tired and a car seat position may be one in which she can’t fall asleep. Some infants are sensitive to... 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
Q: Do we need a car seat for our 1-year-old on an airplane?A: Airline travel with young children is no easy task. The planning checklist often includes items needed to ensure adequate entertainment, food, diapering and clothing changes and comfort or transitional objects. But the most fundamental planning must start when purchasing... more
“Of course I’m going home for the holidays!” said my friend with a look of disbelief. Not travel back east to visit her parents and extended family? Never! How could I even imply such a thing? Hats off to her for being so committed to the traditions of her family. However, I wondered if she’d factored in the reality of traveling with her... 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
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
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
Southwest Bloomington isn’t exactly a hotbed for independent gourmet coffee. But the newly established Mugshots Coffee Co. — at 10518 France Ave. S. — is a definite exception to that rule, serving locally roasted Dogwood Coffee (including espresso drinks as well as Chemex and Clever Dripper pour overs), local pastries and dairy products... 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
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
What a strange time of year this is for us Minnesota parents: We’re reluctant to let go of our cherished last gasps of true warmth — and all the fun that summer brings.And yet, school-supply lists have been out for weeks (or longer). This year my son starts school on Aug. 31, which just makes it feel particularly early.Fortunately, our August... 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
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
I was 21 years old the first time I travelled abroad. My final destination was a semester-long study program in Cheltenham, England. My plane from the West Coast landed in Boston along with a terrible snowstorm that cancelled my flight to New York City, where I was supposed to meet the college group I’d be travelling with to the UK.... 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
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
Created for kids up to 3 years old, the ciao! baby portable high chair is freestanding, lightweight (8 pounds) and unfolds easily, ideal for picnics, camping or even dining out. It includes a clear vinyl top tray that easily wipes clean, a built-in cup holder and a lap belt. It’s also tested and approved to meet high-chair standards set by the... 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
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
The Quick Change Clothes bag from Free Like Birdie helps you keep clean clothes organized. One zippered side is for clean items and the other is for dirty laundry. It’s waterproof to keep odors and moisture from escaping, ideal for day trips, daycare and more. It’s 8x9.5x3 inches, so you can nest it easily in another bag. $30 •... 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
Parents and grandparents around the world have been wearing infants for centuries, using a variety of slings, wraps and other contraptions. Though the practice is only just becoming a mainstream habit in modern Western culture, companies are offering a dizzying array of devices that allow parents to easily carry children from the newborn... 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
Q: At what age is it safe to take our baby on an airplane?A: The best thing you can do is discuss this with your baby’s doctor. In general, healthy newborns may be able to handle airplane travel without any issues. However, there are certain health conditions or other factors you may want to consider. These might include if your baby was born... more
Sarah Wells’ breast-pump bags allow moms to operate pumps without having to set up and break down equipment.The leather Annie features cooler compartments, plus a main compartment large enough to hold a laptop and other items. The bags fit portable pumps, including Medela Pump in Style and Freestyle, Hygeia, Freemie,... more
Before I had kids, I had fantasies about what it would be like to travel with them. I saw myself in a stylish-yet-durable wrap dress, my weightless baby perched on a hip as we gazed out over some gorgeous vista in the American Southwest. I used to seek out blogs written by parents who were traveling the world with their young ones for... 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
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
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
As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to keep your kids as safe as possible. But when it comes to car-seat safety, it’s often easier said than done.  Not only do the laws change when new information about best practices becomes available, sometimes we assume that the legal requirements (see resources below) are enough, when, in... more
Many car conversations this frigid winter have centered on Disney World. “How warm is it there?” my 5-year-old would ask. “How long would it take to walk there from Minnesota? Do you remember my favorite rides, Mom?”  Last fall, my family went to Disney World with “Meemaw” and “Peepaw.” It turns out, this type of multi-generational trip... 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
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
The world seems a little smaller and friendlier these days following the two successful cultural exchanges our family had this past summer. We befriended two Japanese law students who were studying American culture at a local college, and we opened our home to a French high school student interested in living with an American family and perfecting... more