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may 2012

Be safe! ChildProofiNG 101

What you need to know to make your home a safer place {Page 15}

The overreactor in all of us

GreAt SAfety ProdUCtS {Page 34}

{Page 12}

end of the school year gifts for teacher {Page 26}

IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT GETTING A TRAMPOLINE, READ THIS FIRST! {Page 10}


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Fe a

28

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Scary bugs?! Bugs in your backyard By Kelly Jo McDonnell

15 Home’s hidden hazards Simple steps to make home safer By Claire Walling

26 A+ teacher gifts No more coffee mugs! We know what your educator wants By Julie Kendrick

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departments 8 groWs on trees Investing 9 cHatter 10 tWeen scene Trampoline safety 12 figHt Less, LoVe more Do you overreact? 32 it’s mY PartY Fifteen ideas for a great celebration

34 Hot stUff Safe stuff 35 BooK sHeLf Know your ABCs 38 reaL Life Real Grampa Tony Jaksa

calendar 20 oUt & aBoUt

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from the editor

Square pegs I spoke to Peter Kerin of Foresight Childproofing about a year ago when I was working on last year’s Minnesota Parent safety issue. An enthusiastic guy, very passionate about home safety, I remember he said, “we’ve been adults far longer than we’ve been parents, and the adult world is built around convenience.” Meaning, kids are the square pegs trying to muscle into our adult round holes. There is so much about our grown up world that we take for granted, not even realizing the harm that a convenience like an electrical socket or the cord on a window treatment could cause. His goal, he told me, is to assist and educate parents in creating a safe home environment, so that kids can explore without constantly having to be told, “no.” How great is that? This year we are touching on a number of concerns, from trampoline safety in a tight and informative article by Joy Riggs, our award-winning Tween Scene columnist, to a fun, educational piece about backyard bugs. Which ones are harmless? Which are not? Writer Kelly Jo McDonnell will give you the scoop. Best, my terrific intern, Claire Walling, checked in with Peter Kerin again when putting together her article, “Childproofing 101.” In it, he

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and a couple of other home safety experts talk about the steps you can take on your own to make your home better suited for those crawlers, toddlers, and young explorers who seem to want to yank on, dip their toe in, or climb up just about anything in the house. We also have a product showcase devoted to a few safety gadgets we tested, and finally will wrap up the issue with a devoted grandpa, Tony Jaksa Sr., who built a career responding to and analyzing accidents. These days, he is using this lifetime of knowledge to teach his grandchildren how to be safe. Ever heard of three points of contact? Turn to page 38 to learn more. Have a terrific spring and always please remember that I love to hear from you! Email kstoehr@mnpubs.com or check out our Facebook/MNparent.

Kathleen Stoehr, Editor


Vol. 27, Issue 5 Co-Publishers Janis Hall jhall@mnpubs.com Terry Gahan tgahan@mnpubs.com General Manager Chris Damlo 612-436-4376 • cdamlo@mnpubs.com Editor Kathleen Stoehr kstoehr@mnpubs.com Contributing Writers/Photographers Kara Ferraro Julie Kendrick Kelly Jo McDonnell Kara McGuire Laurie Puhn Joy Riggs Production Manager Dana Croatt dcroatt@mnpubs.com Senior Graphic Designer Valerie Moe Graphic Designer Amanda Wadeson Sales Manager Melissa Ungerman Levy 612-436-4382 • mungermanlevy@mnpubs.com Sales Administrator Kate Manson 612-436-5085 • kmanson@mnpubs.com Circulation Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • distribution@mnpubs.com Intern Claire Walling Classified Advertising 612-825-9205 • sales@mnpubs.com Printing Brown Printing

52,500 copies of Minnesota Parent printed monthly, available at news stands statewide. Get Minnesota Parent mailed to your home for just $12 a year. Call 612-825-9205 for more information. Minnesota Parent (ISSN 0740 3437) is published monthly by Minnesota Premier Publications. POSTMASTER send address changes to: MINNESOTA PARENT, 1115 Hennepin Avenue S. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2012 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.

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to heirs or to donate to charity? Ask yourself what this money is for, instead of focusing on how much you want your investments to earn each year. 2) Can you sleep at night? In other

Your investment statement Getting your values about money on paper

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By Kara McGuire

ast year, the stock market felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, with its dramatic ups and downs. Yet at the end of the year, U.S. stocks pretty much ended up right where they started. For much of 2012, the market has largely taken a chill pill, giving nervous investors the confidence to start investing in stocks again.

That’s good, right? Not really. Individual investors consistently underperform the stock market because they tend to sell low—at the nadir of a crisis—and buy them back when everything’s rosy and prices have rebounded. An oft-cited annual study from Dalbar, a financial services research firm, showed that in 2011, the average stock investor underperformed the Standard and Poor’s 500 by nearly eight percentage points, a result of emotionally driven, inconsistent decision making. It’s tough not to react to daily market moves in an always-on world, with CNBC anchors and Twitter users chirping about intra-day market swings in great detail. So how can you ensure that the next time it gets tough on Wall Street you won’t go running? It’s time to create an investment policy statement. The document is a favorite in the fee-only financial planning world. You

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don’t need an adviser to write your own, although if it seems too daunting to create solo, there are advisers out there who will meet with you on an hourly basis. The idea for such a statement started in the foundation, endowment, and pension plan communities. Simply put, it’s a road map for your investments. Follow it when times get tough and you’ll have a far better chance of getting where you intend to go than if you throw your map out the window and make a U-Turn.

words, how much risk can you take? Your answer may be different now that we’ve recently experienced a scary stock market spell, and keep in mind that investing in bonds carries risks too. Many investment companies have online quizzes that help assess your risk tolerance. Robert Laura, co-founder of retirementproject.org, suggests investors consider other aspects of their personality and lifestyle such as mood, mental health, and physical health, when thinking about their comfort level with risk. 3) When do you need the money? Many

parents learned the hard way that investing in stocks within a 529 college savings plan can burn teens nearing college, because there wasn’t enough time for stocks to recover before the tuition bills came in. If it’s short term money, don’t invest in stocks. If you have a decade or more until retirement or college, stocks are okay. 4) How much money will you need tomorrow? Many advisers suggest keeping two years of living expenses out of the stock market, so you don’t have to tap your stock investments in the midst of a downturn. And whatever you do, don’t put your emergency savings or car downpayment into the market. 5) What are your money values? Do you

Questions to ask yourself Your statement can be a couple sentences long or a treatise. The advisors I’ve spoken to over the years generally suggest it answer the following questions: 1) Why are you saving? Is your goal to fund a modest retirement? To have your money grow as much as possible to leave

want to avoid investing in oil and tobacco companies? What are your thoughts about helping to pay for college, or giving money away to charity? An investment policy statement provides a good opportunity for you to get your values about money on paper. It’s also a great time to share those values with a partner or spouse.


In brief It’s Minnesota Museums Month! Minnesota has approximately 600 museums— one for every 9,000 residents, which is twice as many as the national average. Every county in the state has at least one museum—55 in Minneapolis-St. Paul alone. During the month of May, special events and programs will take place at museums across Minnesota, including: • The Bakken Museum’s “Mothers of Invention,” a day-long celebration of women in science, featuring a live performance of a play about Mary Shelley plus talks by women scientists (May 12, thebakken.org) • Woodland pottery workshops at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post (May 12 and 19, www.mnhs.org/ places/sites/mlim/) • Walker Art Center’s “Lifelike,” a international and multi-generational exhibition featuring artworks that are startlingly realistic and sometimes surreal (through May 27, walkerart.org) In addition, the Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA) will offer a special promotion during Minnesota Museums Month. Each day in May, MELSA will award a free membership at a selected Minnesota museum to a member of the public, drawn at random. The public can enter the drawing by visiting MELSA’s website at melsa.org.; Eden Prairie mom Leslie Anderson has opened her online business, Portrait Gift Bags, hand-crafted and personalized gift bags for every occasion, Pick your product, email your photo and wording, proceed to check out! Visit portraitgiftbags.com; Como Town at the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul opened for the season last weekend with more than 18 rides and attractions. New for 2012 is the Como Town Pirate Ship. On Memorial Day, the nearby Splash Zone will debut an Aqua Dunk water play component.

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“The rules are to try to help children be safe— not to eliminate fun and exercise—and to make parents aware.”

Rethinking trampoline mania

W By Joy Riggs

hen I was a kid, I would spend my summers engaged in a variety of outdoor recreational activities with my family and friends. We’d swim, bike, golf, play kickball, jump rope, climb on rocks, and do just about everything under the sun—except bounce on trampolines. I’m sure they were invented by then, but it was rare to see one in the wild.

Fast forward to my life as a parent, when everyone and their neighbor seems to have a backyard trampoline. Everyone, it seems, except us—much to the dismay of our three children. This is one unpopular parental decision that I could easily blame on my husband, the family practice doctor who’s seen plenty of trampoline injuries in the clinic. But I’m happy to play the bad guy, too. Although I occasionally allow the kids to jump on trampolines at friends’ houses, I hold my breath every time and brace myself for an injury report. So far, we’ve been lucky. I’d prefer not to tempt fate, though, and the more I read about the dangers of trampolines, the more convinced I am of the wisdom in keeping our backyard trampoline-free.

Injuries have increased The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that more than 180,000

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kids are injured on trampolines every year. Most injuries occur to kids between the ages of five and 14 and include broken bones, concussions, head, neck and spinal cord injuries, sprains, and bruises. These injuries can occur when kids fall off the trampoline, land wrong while jumping or attempting stunts, or collide with someone else on the trampoline. The number of these injuries has been increasing. A study published in the Academic Emergency Medicine journal in 2007 noted that emergency department visits for trampoline-related injuries totaled 88,563 from 2000 to 2005, compared with 41,600 from 1990 to 1995—a 113 percent increase. Since 1990, at least six children under age 15 have died from a trampoline injury. Despite the number of injuries, trampoline sales remain robust; more than 500,000 backyard trampolines are sold in the United States every year, according to the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Walter J. Cook

Dr. Walter J. Cook, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, says national medical organizations have responded to the increasing number of injuries, some of which are lifechanging, by developing rules and regulations regarding trampoline use. “The rules are to try to help children be safe—not to eliminate fun and exercise— and to make parents aware,” he says. Noting that parental supervision and protective netting can’t adequately prevent these injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes a hard line against trampoline use: it recommends that children never use them at home, a friend’s house, the playground, or in a regular gym class. It recommends that older children use trampolines only in training programs for sports like gymnastics, and only under the supervision of professionals trained in trampoline safety.

Precautions No parent wants to spend eight to 12 hours in an emergency room with a hurt child, Cook says. To reduce the risk of injuries, parents who allow their children to jump on trampolines should consider safety tips like these from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: • Always supervise children who use a trampoline. • Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time. • No child under six should use a full-size trampoline. • Do not attempt or allow somersaults because landing on the head or neck can


cause paralysis. • Do not use the trampoline without shock-absorbing pads that completely cover its springs, hooks, and frame. • Place the trampoline away from structures, trees, and other play areas. • Do not use a ladder with the trampoline because it provides unsupervised access by small children. • Trampoline net enclosures can prevent falls off trampolines (but also can create a false sense of security). Cook says it’s easy to understand the allure, for busy and stressed out parents, of spending $300 to $500 on a trampoline for the backyard. It keeps the kids happy, it gives them some exercise, and it gives parents a chance to pursue their own activities. But in the long run, he says, having a trampoline is not going to make a child healthier. “What’s probably more helpful for children is if you pack a picnic lunch, go to a state park, hike, explore, talk with your kids about all kinds of things, and spend time together as a family,” he says. “I think that’s far more beneficial for things like preventing obesity—and for teaching your kids about nature, and about life.”

Resources American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Trampolines and Trampoline Safety www.aaos.org/about/papers/ position/1135.asp American Academy of Pediatrics Trampoline injuries www2.aap.org/audio/mfk/071009.mp3 Mayo Clinic.com Trampoline jumping: Safe for Kids? www.mayoclinic.com/health/ trampoline-exercise/AN01570 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Trampoline Safety Alert www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/085.pdf Pediatrics Now Backyard trampolines and water slides www.pediatricsnow.com/2011/06/ safety-issues-with-backyardtrampolines-and-water-slides/

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The overreactor in all of us

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By Laurie Puhn

kay, so you think you’re a perfectly reasonable and logical person. But sometimes, when your mate says or does something that makes you feel criticized, ignored, or disrespected, you shout out your defense and soon find yourself in a full-blown war of words. You know the situation is out of control, but you don’t know what else to say to get your (totally reasonable!) point across.

For instance, a friend of mine was playing with her four-year old daughter in her bedroom while her husband was watching television in the living room. My friend was having a nice time playing with their daughter until saw her husband shutting the bedroom door. Annoyed, she got up, pushed the door open, walked straight to the living room, and yelled loudly enough for her daughter to hear, “You’re so rude!” Her husband replied, “Well, I didn’t want to hear the noise you two were making on the toy piano.” “Noise?” she countered. “The sound of your daughter playing is noise to you? If you cared about your daughter you’d shut off the TV and come play with us!” My friend’s anger was understandable, but yelling at her husband for such a small thing, and within earshot of her daughter? That’s inappropriate. And connecting his shutting the door to the notion that he might not care about his daughter? Overreaction.

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The red flag moment It’s easy for me to look from afar and declare my friend in the wrong, but I’ve walked in her shoes and I know it’s a lot harder to bite your tongue in the moment. What I’ve learned, and taught others, is that an overreaction can actually be a good thing. It can serve as a red flag that something is missing.


Resources Laurie Puhn is a lawyer, couples mediator, relationship expert, and bestselling author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In. You can find her online at fightlesslovemore.com.

As a general rule, overreactions happen when there is a gap between how we feel and what we say. In the example, my friend didn’t explain to her husband that she felt their daughter was missing out on special family time. She wasn’t upset about the door, but rather about that fact that even on the weekends when her husband was home, she was still saddled with the full responsibility of finding activities for their daughter. She was frustrated and jealous because she felt that her husband used free time to escape from family time, and she wanted to have some escape time herself. All of these points were reasonable, but they weren’t articulated in the heat of the moment. And even a pretty good husband and father is not going to be a mind reader.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say When we overreact and then push the issue under the rug, the storm of the battle passes quickly, but the hangover leaves its mark. Rather than being embarrassed by our overreactions or continuing to justify them, we should apologize and use them to jumpstart deeper thought about the gap between what we are thinking and saying. Once you’ve filled in the blank in your own head, go to your mate, ask him/her to sit down with you a few minutes so you can apologize and explain what you really meant. That kind of talk leads to solutions. Happy couples do fight, and they also know how to make up.

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isks in s There are r simple step t u b , m o o r every home safer r u o y e k a can m

S ’ e m o h N e d hid S d r A Z hA alling By Claire W

d roll for p, drop, an to S . w o e gr n as they you cross th our childre ays before h w ac th te o b e , k w o ay ings ger. Lo Every d l sorts of th stranger dan staggering. ’t There are al en there is atistics are h st w e ll th te e. “You don d t— yell, an ds and ye r own hom ki ei r th u o d n y fires. Run, u b o g the or ar t things fing, servin nal injury in do the righ t Childproo unintentio street. We gh si an re m o at o F th f fr o ve , owner a to pro ildren die Peter Kerin ave the dat about 20 ch h ys e w sa t] ,’” u ts [B rary. rm ‘acciden hey’re arbit hear the te d.” ncil aul areas. “T P t. S ictable tren d Safety Cou d an re s Minnesota nct and p e ti is Minneapoli th d r ne fo ry s ve es a dren ag o y Program injuries are ls puts chil amily Safet il F sk f childhood o g r in o p o fo at the list r ly devel n, coordin cidents top ty and rapid si ac o Erin Peterse ar ri C cu .” se ry ten oys are at a tional inju e risks. “In us injury. B o us uninten ri o ri se f pinpoints th se o r se fo sk ing cau e greatest ri are the lead to four at th while falls , p u o gr e this ag fatalities in

May 2012 15


greater risk than girls as well. “At first blush people think childproofing is about adding a gate or a latch. There’s so much more to the discussion than that; it’s not just two-dimensional.” Kerin says. “Our adult world is designed around convenience, but the fact of the matter is that children aren’t convenient. So how do we work to make the home a safer place but maintain as much function and enjoyment to the parents as possible?” Kerin had a trial by fire when it came to childproofing his own home, and says he wishes there had been someone who had been through the process before to help him. Kerin recalls, “I was in a big store looking at a wall of products thinking ‘okay, I’ll try this.’ I had done my research beforehand but when I got home, guess what, it didn’t work with our home.” Now, he provides the support he wished for to other new parents. Children are unpredictable, so it’s important to think ahead. “It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of that baby of today; but when you wake up in the morning, you’re not going to receive a notice that today is the first day your child is going to take steps, or that today is the day your child is going to figure out the dishwasher. He’s never touched it before, but by gosh, today that two-year-old wants to know,” Kerin says, stressing that childproofing is an ongoing process. “Be prepared for where their skills are going to develop, otherwise you are always going to play catch-up.” Despite the scary statistics there’s good news: a few simple steps can transform your home from a minefield for young explorers to a safe haven for hands-on learning. Check out the following pages to learn how to eliminate hidden hazards in your home.

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Family room Hidden hazard: Fascinating flat screens; swallowing remote batteries “A lion’s share of the child’s awake time is spent in the family room,” Kerin says, which is why the family room is a two-for-one with hidden hazards. That “big kid’s toy” seems so thin and light, it couldn’t possibly topple and hurt a child, right? Think again. “Because flat screen TVs are top-heavy and have small bases, they can be very unstable,” says Brian Eble, vice-president of brand development for Peerless-AV. Eble recommends mounting a television so that its center point is about five feet off the ground—tall enough so it’s out of a child’s reach but is still at eye level from the couch. If that’s not feasible, several companies make safety kits that securely attach the television to an approved stand or wall. As for batteries, a dropped and popped open remote will yield interesting looking, shiny, and kid-sized batteries. If swallowed, Petersen says, button batteries can burn through a child’s esophagus. Keep remotes in a drawer and away from children.

Tips • Install a fireplace gate, keep matches and lighters up and away • Keep recliners in a closed position

Kitchen Hidden hazard: The kitchen as a playroom “You want to make the kitchen the most boring place because you don’t want a child to be underfoot or around a cooking area.” Kerin says. Matches, knives, and cleaning agents, among other common kitchen items can all be dangerous if they end up in young, curious hands.

Tips • Snug up coffee pot and other appliance cords so they are less apt to be yanked on when in use. When not in use, unplug them. • Turn pot handles in toward the wall when cooking • Use a highchair harness


NUrSery/Bedroom Hidden hazard: Window cord strangulation Parents may know not to put a crib or other potentially climbable furniture by a window because of the strangulation hazard posed by window blind cords, but Nat Khalil, spokesperson for the Window Covering Safety Council, suggests going a step further. “If you have children in the house, all your window coverings should be cordless.” If you can’t swap out your old blinds for cordless blinds, the Window Covering Safety Council offers a free retrofit kit (see the Resources area of this article for information on where you can request one). tips • Use closet door locks to avoid pinched fingers • Never leave a child unattended on a bed (could roll off) • Secure breakables

Safety shouldn’t end when your kids run out the door. We offer some safety tips for the backyard and the road.

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BAthroom Hidden hazard: Standing water, medicines, cleaning supplies The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for kids—standing water (children have fallen into and drowned in the toilet), medicines, and cleaning supplies are all in one place. Always ask your pharmacist to place medication in childproof containers, and keep them locked in a cabinet at all times. Additionally, cleaning agents should never be kept where a child could potentially gain access, and install a toilet lid lock.

tips • Lower your water heater temperature to avoid scalding • Always check tub water temperature first before placing your child in • Cabinet locks!

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vehicle safety Car seats “The right car seat can make the difference between your child leaving a crash with zero injuries and a much less favorable outcome,” says David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s why a car seat appropriate for your child’s height and weight is critical.

Tips • Once your child is a year old periodically check the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements, but don’t be in a rush to put your child in a forwardfacing seat because rear-facing models are still the safest option. • In Minnesota, it’s the law that all children under eight or 4'9"—whichever comes first—must be buckled in the back in a booster seat.

Buckle up

Ride on the right, walk on the left

Whether it’s a seat belt or a bike helmet, buckling up is important. “Kids are relentlessly truthful and make the best safety ambassadors for us, to have that voice piping up from the back seat,” Strickland says, adding, “Today’s kids are tomorrow’s drivers” emphasizing that kids learn about driving long before they get behind the wheel.

This is just one rule of the road that children need to know by heart. Kids also need to understand that just because they see a car does not mean that its driver sees them. Safety is as much their responsibility as it is for the drivers they are sharing the road with.

Have your kids take the pledge! Join the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its “Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!” campaign by taking the traffic safety pledge. chuggington.com/safety/pledge/

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Backyard Hidden hazard: Backyard pools Minnesota doesn’t have statewide regulations for backyard pool fencing, and most municipality laws are aimed at keeping neighboring children out. Kerin recommends a four foot-high non-climbable fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Devices like the Safety Turtle (see Hot stuff p.34) can provide an additional layer of protection, but no gadget is a replacement for supervision.

Tips • Place decals on glass patio doors at toddler’s eye level • Make sure deck rails are no more than three inches apart (head could get stuck)

resources Window Covering Safety Council windowcoverings.org Foresight Childproofing childproofhome.com Minnesota Safety Council minnesotasafetycouncil.org

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Out About

Okee Dokee Brothers CD Release ÎÎJoe Mailander and Justin Lansing, also known as The Okee Dokee Brothers, canoed down the mighty Mississippi last June and wrote their album for kids and families while on the river. The duo will be at Father Hennepin Park for their “Can You Canoe” FREE concert celebration and CD release! When: May 19 at 11:00 a.m. Where: Father Hennepin Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: okeedokee.org

Ongoing Watch for our annual Family Directory, available soon, highlighting all sorts of fun places to go, see and do in every month of the year all across the state of Minnesota!

Pippi Longstocking ÎÎPippi Longstocking lives a kid’s dream life, answering to no one and doing as she pleases as mistress of Villa Villekulla. Bending iron bars as easily as she bends rules, Pippi rallies friends Tommy and Annika into tormenting civilized adults and teaching less-civilized ones a lesson or two.

Juggle Jam ÎÎJuggle Jam is the pinnacle performance for JUGHEADS Youth Juggling Company and is the only show that features the entire cast of over 140

When: Through June 10 Where: Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Varies depending upon seat and performance Info: childrenstheatre.org or 612-874-0400

JUGHEADS jugglers! The energy and talent of these child performers from elementary school up to high school senior will leave your family inspired and amazed. Juggle Jam routines will showcase the entire company, each weekly club, and small group and solo acts. When: May 18 and 19 at 7:00 p.m. Where: Hopkins High School, Minnetonka Cost: $8 to $15, depending upon age and seat Info: jugheads.com or 952-926-0896

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Baseball: America’s Game Exhibit ÎÎThis exhibit comprises works from the contributions of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Major League baseball Productions, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and more. When: Through June 15, during library hours


mischievous Duck. For all ages. When: Through May 13 Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins cost: Prices vary depending upon performance and seat info: stagestheatre.org or 952-979-1111

tUeSdAy, mAy 1 transitioning to Kindergarten seminar

Where: Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Central, Cargill Hall cost: FREE info: hclib.org or 612-543-8000

Grossology Î Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body tackles all the sticky sources of children’s curiosity. This interactive exhibit’s goal is to harness kids’ natural curiosity about themselves and their bodies by teaching them about how the fascinating human body functions. When: Through May 13 Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul cost: $8.95 for ages 1 to 101 info: mcm.org or 651-225-6000

Giggle, Giggle, Quack Î World Premiere! When Farmer Brown takes a vacation, his brother Bob comes in to watch the farm. “I wrote everything down for you. Just follow my instructions,” Bob is told. Guess who finds a pencil and begins writing his own notes for brother Bob to find and follow? A very literate and

Î For a child with disabilities, being ready for Kindergarten often requires some intentional preparation. This workshop will help parents plan for this transition and learn strategies to help their child be successful and make that first school experience a good one. When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Where: Pacer Center, Bloomington cost: FREE info: pacer.org/workshops or 952-838-9000

Preschool Playdate Î Each Tuesday, the Science Museum offers preschool appropriate activities. A ticket includes admission to the exhibit galleries, take-home science experiment, Science Live performances and science demonstrations, and various discounts. When: 10:00 a.m. to noon Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul cost: Under five, FREE; $13 for adults info: smm.org/playdates or 651-221-9444

WedNeSdAy, mAy 2 Wee Wednesdays Î Wee Wednesdays have plenty to see and do for toddlers and their families. Free, educational programming geared toward children five and under; also features hands-on activities and more. When: Every Wednesday beginning at 10:30 a.m.

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Out About Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: midtownglobalmarket.org or 612-872-4041

will showcase the latest in green and sustainable living within the 4-H, Education, and Progress Center buildings. FREE copies of Chinook Book will be given to the first 200 attendees each day. When: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Where: State Fairgrounds, northeast corner Cost: $3 online or $5 at the door; 18 and under FREE Info: livinggreenexpo.mn

Friday, May 4 Minnesota Dance Festival ÎÎBallet Minnesota will present a triple bill during its 24th annual festival, including Les Sylphides with music by Chopin, Handel’s Messiah Ballet and The Ballet School, a children’s work. All are short in length to provide a great sampler for the novice ballet audience member. When: 7:30 p.m. Where: Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul Cost: $10 to $25 Info: balletminnesota.org or 651-290-1221

100 Mile Garage Sale ÎÎResidents and stores clean out their attics, garages and basements to create the “Most Spectacular Garage Sale” through various cities along the Mississippi River. A trail of colored ribbons identify those participating from Wisconsin and beginning in Minnesota at Red Wing; south on Hwy. 61 through Frontenac, Lake City, Camp LaCupolis, Reads Landing, Wabasha, Kellogg and Winona. When: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Where: 100 miles through two states

About the Calendar Minnesota Parent welcomes information about events for families throughout the state of Minnesota. Calendar listings are FREE and can be submitted online at mnpubs.com; click on Events > Submit an event. You can submit a listing at any time, but the deadline for possible inclusion in the print publication is six weeks prior to the month of publication. (For example, June 15 for the August issue.) All events are subject to change. Be certain to check with the event sponsor either by visiting the website or calling, to ensure the featured event is still viable. Events taking place for more than one weekend in length will be listed in our “Ongoing” area, space permitting.

24 May 2012

Walk for Animals

Cost: FREE Info: 507-452-0735

Saturday, May 5 Minnesota Dance Festival

ÎÎEnjoy delicious food, a multitude of vendors, family friendly entertainment, and games for children of all species! Walk begins at 10:00 a.m. When: 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: Animal Humane Society, Golden Valley Cost: Fundraise or suggested donation of $25 Info: animalhumanesociety.org/walk or

ÎÎSee description, Friday, May 4 When: 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Free 1st Saturdays: Made You Look ÎÎNot everything is what it seems. Explore the idea of reality vs. fiction inspired by the exhibition Lifelike with gallery activities and hands-on art-making. When: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (family activities until 3:00) Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: walkerart.org or 612-375-7600

Japanese Taiko ÎÎWatch an exciting performance of a Japanese art form that goes back nearly 1,000 years. Learn about its historical and cultural background. You will have a chance to try simple taiko rhythms after the performance. When: 1:30 p.m. Where: Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis Central Cost: FREE Info: hclib.org or 612-543-8595

Living Green Expo ÎÎA combination of more than 300 exhibitors, workshops, and demos

Sunday, May 6 Buckthorn & Birds ÎÎParticipants in this program will learn about bird courtship and nesting from our naturalists while they enjoy a short bird hike, watch a live bird banding demonstration and give back by pulling one of the most invasive plants in our forests, buckthorn. When: 9:00 a.m. to noon Where: Warner Nature Center, Marine on St. Croix Cost: $3 per person or FREE with Science Museum of Minnesota membership Info: 651-433-2427

Living Green Expo ÎÎSee description, Saturday, May 5 When: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 8 Arty Pants ÎÎYour Tuesday Playdate features activities for adults and their youngsters ages three to five. Art projects, films, gallery activities, and story time.


Out About When: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Where: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Cost: FREE with gallery admission; Walker members and kids ages 12 and under are always free. Info: walkerart.org or 612-375-7600

Saturday, May 12 Hmong Tiger Tales ÎÎFour short plays based on Hmong folk stories about tigers, which incorporate the character of the tiger and its symbolism in Hmong culture. For grades 1–6. When: 1:00 p.m. Where: Hennepin County Library, North Regional, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: hclib.org or 612-543-8595

Family Leadership Summit ÎÎThis one-day training is free for parents of young children with developmental delays or disabilities. Parents will enhance their communication and leadership skills. When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Where: Pacer Center, Bloomington Cost: FREE Info: pacer.org/workshops or 952-8389000

Spring Whimsy at Gibbs Museum ÎÎA celebration of spring! Dance around a Maypole and weave a May basket; make a head wreath with real flowers; sample sugar cookies, coffee, and root beer floats in the red barn and much more. In honor of Mother’s Day, moms are free when accompanied by their child. When: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Where: Gibbs Museum, ST. Paul Cost: $10 adults, $9 seniors, $7 chldren. Ramsey County Historical Society members receive a 10% discount. Info: rchs.com or 651-646-8629

Wednesday, May 16 Mother’s Morning Out Open House ÎÎFind out more about the MMO program, with its mission to give parents one

morning a week to run their errands while their children are under its care playing, making friends, and having fun. Puppet show, crafts and snacks will be available. When: 9:30 a.m. to noon Where: Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: mothersmorningout.webs.com

Friday, May 18 Art-a-Whirl ÎÎThe largest open studio and gallery tour in the U.S. offers more than 500 artists including potters, painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, printmakers and more. Whew. Trolleys move through the central area, should you need a lift between galleries. When: 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Where: Over 50 locations throughout northeast Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: Nemaa.org or 612-788-1679

Preston Trout Days ÎÎAdult fishing contest, kids fishing contest, chicken bar-b-que, city-wide garage sales, Lions Club pancake breakfast, Grand Parade, street dance, firemen’s beer tent, car show, family-fun activities, golf tournament, food vendors. When: Friday evening through Sunday evening, no set times available Where: Downtown Preston, MN Cost: FREE Info: prestonmnchamber.com or 507765-2153

Saturday, May 19 Okee Dokee Brothers CD Release ÎÎJoe and Justin, the Okee Dokee Brothers, will be at Father Hennepin Park for their “Can You Canoe” FREE concert celebration and CD release party. When: 11:00 a.m. Where: Father Hennepin Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: okeedokee.org

Golden Valley Days Art & Music Festival ÎÎEnjoy a pancake breakfast; parade; juried fine art festival, games for children, music, food vendors; vintage car show, farmers market; street dance; and fireworks display. When: 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Where: Brookfield Park, Golden Valley Cost: Festival is FREE with a nonperishable food item (b’fast add’l) Info: gvcfoundation.org or 763-521-2604

TC Kids Cross Country Fun Run ÎÎTwo miles, one mile, and half mile races, medal and t-shirt for participants, Radio Disney Prize Patrol, FREE picnic lunch. Parents are welcome to run with their children, for a charge. When: 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. Where: Como Park, St. Paul Cost: $10 in advance (through May 11); $16 day of race Info: tcmevents.org or 651-289-7709

Art-a-Whirl ÎÎSee description, Friday, May 18 When: Noon to 8:00 p.m.

Preston Trout Days ÎÎSee description, Friday, May 18 When: Saturday day through Sunday evening, dawn to dusk

Sunday, May 20 Art-a-Whirl ÎÎSee description, Friday, May 18 When: Noon to 5:00 p.m.

Preston Trout Days ÎÎSee description, Friday, May 18 When: Through Sunday evening, no set times available •

May 2012 25


At this step in the process, the kids take over to decorate—and hopefully not make too big of a mess! Photo by Julie Kendrick

A+ teacher gifts Low cost, low fuss—we promise!

26 May 2012

By Julie Kendrick

Gift cards are great, but …

In some teachers’ closets, there are boxes of perfume and body lotion with strange and aromatic combinations (prickly pear and guava, really?). In some, there are heaps of “World’s Best Teacher” coffee mugs—enough to keep every teacher in America on an endless java jag. “I drink one cup of tea a day,” one exasperated educator told me. “What could I possibly do with all of these?”

Several area schools, aware of this dilemma, are instituting a more orderly system of giving, with every family pitching in for a group present, usually a gift card. But some families find this system too costly, or too impersonal. And while they certainly appreciate a generous gift card, many teachers will also confess that the presents they remember best are those that were homemade.


I still have the quilted wreath that a girl in freshman English sewed my first year of teaching, and I vividly remember the platter of authentic Italian cookies that another student’s granny made that year (it killed me to flunk that kid; her granny’s cookies were that good). A friend of mine who teaches at the college level told me that she rarely receives gifts. “But

I do have one favorite that a student from Zimbabwe gave me. Her name was Memory, and to commemorate her graduation, her mother made me a blue batik cloth with images of leopards and other animals. I keep it in my office at school, and I love to look at it,” she says. If the prospect of making homemade teacher gifts with your kids seems

impossible, never fear. These two recipes offer a chance to make a gift they can proudly take into the classroom, with a minimum of headaches for you. And because these presents don’t take up much space (they are intended to be consumed), they’ll never spend any time in the Closet of Awful Gifts.

Two great gift ideas Candied Citrus Peels This is the ultimate “green” gift, since it starts with something that’s usually thrown away or composted. You can gather the peels bit by bit, and toss them into a sealable bag in the freezer, or go all-out and buy a five-pound sack of fruit when it’s on sale. Keep the peels for this recipe and put the sliced fruit in the refrigerator. You’ll have a week’s worth of healthful breakfast-on-the-run options, and a great start on those teacher gifts.

Ingredients • Six thick-skinned oranges or three grapefruits • 4½ cups sugar, plus extra for rolling • 1½ cups water

Directions These steps need to be completed ahead of time by an adult: Wash whole fruits and peel, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Reserve fruit for another use. Blanch the peels to remove any bitter flavor by placing them in a large saucepan, filling with water to cover and bringing them to a boil. As soon as water boils, drain peels and repeat the process two more times, for a total of three boil cycles. Remove peels from pan, set aside to cool, and dry inside of pan with a clean towel. Next, make the syrup: Whisk sugar into water in the pan and bring to boil; simmer for about 10 minutes. (It helps to have a candy thermometer for this part; syrup should reach soft thread stage, 230 to 240 degrees F.) While the syrup is cooking, cut cooled peels into strips about .25 inches wide and four inches long. When the syrup

Terrific Teacher Tub Soak is clear and golden, add the peels and reduce heat. Simmer gently for about an hour, until peels are tender and translucent. At this point, you can drain the peels or let the whole pan sit overnight in the refrigerator to get some extra flavor. Either way, when you’re ready to drain, reserve the syrup in a container for use in hot or iced tea, or with cocktails that call for simple syrup. Place the drained peels on a wire rack set over a baking sheet covered in wax paper, and let them dry. This is the part where kids can help! Fill a big bowl with sugar and ask the kids to take the peels for a swim in the pool. Roll them, wiggle them, and pretend they’re crazy orange outlaw worms, running from the sheriff. Shake off excess sugar and place the peels on a wire rack to dry. At this point, the peels are ready. If you’d like to make them even fancier, melt some chocolate flavored almond bark or candy according to package directions, dipping half of each sugared peel into the melted mixture, and placing them on a wax paper-covered sheet for drying. For an even fancier touch, flick the chocolate-covered peels with a bit of melted white chocolate. Let dry. Place peels in decorative gift boxes or cellophane bags, and add gift labels. Makes five to 10 containers, depending on how many you put in each gift bag.

Note: The two types of fruit end up tasting about the same when you’re done, but the grapefruits, being larger, might be easier to peel. Also, no matter what color your fruit is to start, it will look beautifully orange-colored when you are finished.

What teacher doesn’t deserve a relaxing soak in a hot tub? This gift is easy to make with even the smallest or most rambunctious kids involved. No hot ovens or precise measurements are required—just a large container, a big spoon, and some kid-powered stirring energy.

Ingredients • 4 cups Epsom salts (first aid section of drug and grocery stores) • 2 cups sea salt (in bulk section of co-op or natural foods section of grocery store) • 1 box baking powder (16 oz.) Optional: • Blue or green food coloring in powder form (craft or cooking supply stores), or a few drops liquid food coloring • Scent or essential oils (soap making section of craft stores, or cosmetics section of health food stores)

Directions Find a big mixing container and a place where you won’t mind a few spills, such as the back porch or kitchen. Allow your child to toss in all the ingredients. Provide a big spoon and let everyone mix, mix, mix. Pretend you’re a witch with a cauldron. Draw a design in the mixture and let the kids erase it. Add some food color and/or scent, if desired. Pour finished tub soak into decorative jars or cellophane bags and add gift labels. Makes about five containers.

May 2012 27


Creepy Crawlies! By Kelly Jo McDonnell

At any time, it is estimated that there are

some 10 quintillion (that’s a one followed by 19 zeros) individual bugs alive. Eeeek! It’s no wonder that some freak folks out—especially kids. “They are so different from us,” explains Dr. Bruce Giebink, entomologist. ”When you look at them close up, they truly look like creatures from outer space.” Dr. Giebink should know. Also known as Dr. Bruce, the “Bug” Guy, he has built a successful business creating educational shows for kids that include hands-on, live bugs. There are a lot of different kinds of bugs: in fact, the word “bug” is more an umbrella term to cover the many different types, including arthropods, insects, myriapods and more. So what’s the deal with bugs? Dr. Bruce rates a few on a 1 to 10 scale of size, scariness, and your likelihood to encounter them in your own backyard.

The Earwig Tick be gone Want to learn how to remove a tick? Have questions about Lyme disease? Visit the American Lyme Disease Foundation’s website at aldf.com or scan this QR code.

28 May 2012

The fearsome looking earwig is about a half- to three-quarters of an inch long with scary looking pinchers on the tip of its abdomen. “You would think, just because of the name, that they have something to do with ears,” says Bruce. “Long ago, folks believed [the bug] would crawl into ears and cause lots of problems. Not true.” Bruce explained that 10 to 12 years ago, they were not common west of Michigan. But higher humidity levels in Minnesota have encouraged the earwig to expand westward. Do they bite? “They can pinch,” says Bruce. “It’s not anything that amounts to much. It’s a defensive maneuver. They’ll pinch if they need to protect themselves.”


Want to see some bugs up close and personal? Beginning May 19, XTREME BUGS are taking over Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo—a summer-long temporary exhibit featuring extra-large animatronic bugs, extra-small live insect displays, and bug-themed entertainment and activities. For more information, visit brookfieldzoo.org.

end Weekway ta ge

The Dragonfly Dr. Bruce puts the dragonfly as number one on his list as a creepy looking bug that’s misunderstood. If you look at one closely, it appears intimidating. If you pick one up, it’ll thrash around—and possibly nip, although Bruce says the bite will seldom break the skin. Even if it did, it contains no venom. “More than anything, it will startle you,” explains Bruce. “They are territorial, and if you walk into their territory, they will strafe you.” He said the next time you see a dragonfly buzzing around the yard, keep in mind that it’s a very beneficial insect, which most scary-looking predators are, Bruce points out. They eat a lot of pesky insects, including mosquitoes and biting gnats. If you live around ponds, streams, and rivers where the water quality is good, you are going to have your share of dragonflies.

May 2012 29


Horse Flies and Deer Flies If you are around a swampy area on a hot summer day, these bugs will downright drive you crazy. “They can be extremely annoying,” admits Bruce, “and they have no finesse. Their mouthpart is like a little dagger—and they don’t wiggle it in, like a mosquito—they jam it in. And they like to land right on the head. Some might think they have a dangerous bite, but they don’t.” He further explained that horse flies and deer flies aren’t shy about the fact that they’re after a meal: if there’s not a deer or other blood source around, people will do just fine.

Fishing Spider Number one scary on most lists, spiders— and in particular fishing spiders—are one of Minnesota’s largest arachnids. They have fairly long legs, and a number of them have a striped pattern. They can vary quite a bit in color, ranging from a light grey to black. Bruce says most Minnesotans are sharing their boats with these little creatures. “You’re bound to find them in and around water, quite often right when you hop into your boat,” he said. How big? “Well, the body isn’t that big, but when you factor in the leg length, they can be around three inches long. And they can move fast.” Do they bite? Says Bruce, “Any spider that has fangs that are sharp enough to bite and long enough to penetrate can give you a good nip. We all have such individual variations in our immune systems—some of us don’t react at all [to a bite], while some will puff up quite a bit.”

30 May 2012


Bad bug: Wood Tick, Deer Tick “There’s only a handful of bad bugs that kind of spoil it for all the rest,” says Bruce, explaining you want to minimize your exposure to them. Bruce says in 2011 ticks weren’t quite as bad, but a few years ago they started showing up by late March, early April. He says the wood tick (or American dog tick) is the bigger of the two, around the size of a little fingernail. These are the ticks Fido picks up in the backyard. The even smaller deer tick is the one to be concerned about, as this is the tick that carries Lyme disease. When you send the kids outdoors, take some precautions. If you are walking through the woods, try to stay on the path where the grass is short and tuck your pant legs into your socks. “You’ll look like a dork but you’ll be better protected,” he says, “and if you wear light pants or khakis you can see them better and flick them off before they get to you.” He also added that DEET is a very effective repellant, but it is not recommend that you spray it directly on your child’s skin. He recommends spraying it only on clothing, especially pants. Mainly, Dr. Bruce says to remember that most of the time bugs get a bad rap. “I want to educate kids and adults alike,” he says. “As a society it’s kind of us against the bugs. People need to learn to tolerate and co-exist with creatures in the natural world, insects included.”

May 2012 31


The author’s “birthday box”

Birthday traditions 15 ways to create magical moments By Kara Ferraro

A child’s birthday is one of the most anticipated days of the year. If your son or daughter is like most, as soon as the party is over they are already talking about what they want to do or get for their next birthday—364 days away! I know every parent wants their child’s birthday to be spectacular, and each year, as your child gets older and their wants become greater, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of trying to out do the previous year’s birthday. Growing up with three siblings, my parents tried their best to make our birthdays special. Each year on our birthday we would arrive home from school and there would be balloons, gifts, and handmade cards around the “Birthday Chair.” The birthday child was directed to sit in this special chair and open up gifts. It was a magical moment for which I waited all year. On my 10th birthday I received a blue three-speed bike. Aside from that, the only other gift I remember receiving was a small wooden trinket box my mother had polyurethaned with some random magazine pictures and a cool photo of me, along with the birth date inside the box. That was

32 May 2012

36 years ago—and I still have my trinket box today. What children want more than anything on their birthday is to feel like it is their own special day, so celebrate well! Here are 15 ways you can start your own birthday traditions to create some magical moments that your children will remember for years to come. 1. The night before your child’s birthday, decorate the house or their room with balloons, confetti, flowers, or a homemade banner. 2. Wake up your child by singing the Happy Birthday song. 3. Start out the day by making a special birthday breakfast. 4. Pull out some baby pictures or other birthday pictures from the years past and decorate the house with them. 5. Stick a special birthday snack or note in your child’s lunch box. 6. Have lunch with your child at school and bring cupcakes. Okay, they may not like this when they get older, but during the elementary years you and that box of cupcakes will be more popular than Taylor Swift, i-Carly, or BeyBlades! 7. Have your child help make their own birthday cake. It’s more fun for them to


decorate the cake and get sugared up on eating the extra batter, frosting, and sprinkles than it is actually eating the cake, regardless of their age. 8. Plan a family outing that you will do each year: a trip to the beach, a picnic in the park, or even a trip to your favorite pizza place. 9. Start a scrapbook each year on your child’s birthday and decorate the cover with a picture that was taken on their birthday. 10. Take a picture each year of your child at the exact time they were born or as soon as they wake up. 11. Let your child pick out all of the meals that day. If they want spaghetti for breakfast or pancakes for dinner—go for it—it’s their day! 12. Give gifts that reflect the same number as your child’s birthday. For example, if your child is five, how about five markers, five coloring books, five lollipops, five pairs of socks, etc. 13. Make something for your child each year. A special pillow, frame, jewelry box, or toy chest. She may not appreciate it now, but in years to come those handmade mementos are going to be the gifts she cherishes. 14. Create a time capsule. Each year on your child’s birthday put a photo of your child, a newspaper, perhaps a drawing your child made, and a note of all that is going on in your lives. File away for the next year or for years to come. 15. The Birthday Chair. Go on ahead, it’s been a tradition in my family for years, and to this day I still get to sit in the birthday chair complete with balloons and handmade cards—and now, so do my lucky kids!

Regardless of your child’s age or interests, birthdays are a special day for them. Even if their birthday falls on a school day or they have extracurricular activities, the key to making them feel special is that you remember the whole day is their birthday—so celebrate and let them enjoy it. By taking some time out to create your own family birthday traditions, you will be giving your child something to look forward to all throughout the year and perhaps for a lifetime.

May 2012 33


Pool pals There’s a reason that the first place parents are instructed to look for a lost child is the backyard pool (or other body of water), children can drown in a matter of seconds. The Safety Turtle kit includes a bracelet-style sensor that securely attaches to the child’s wrist and transmits a signal to a base system. If the sensor becomes wet, a shrill alarm is set off, similar to a smoke detector. Can be used on a boat or lakeshore, too.

safe stuff

safetyturtle.com;

Products and gadgets that will ease your worries and keep your kids safer.

about $282

By Kathleen Stoehr

Burning bright Relax and let the candles “burn” without the hazard of an open flame. Offering a realistic flickering effect coupled with a warm glow, Energizer Flameless candles have a four-hour automatic timer and will run up to 300 hours on three AA batteries. LED never needs replacing. energizer.com/lighting; about $20 to 30 depending upon style

No falling flat Flat screen televisions are top-heavy, and therefore crash-prone (especially around kids and pets)! The solution: with Anti-Tip Flat Screen TV Safety Straps, you can anchor your flat screen to your TV stand or wall. Works with all televisions (multiple attachment screws included), and the straps adjust from two- to 30-inches in length to fit your particular space. onestepahead.com; about $12

34 May 2012

Back up plan We don’t all have new cars with built in monitors to view what’s behind us when we back up. According to kidsandcars.org, a nonprofit group that works to improve child safety around cars, at least 50 children are backed over every week in the U.S. LCD monitor is attached to the windshield; a water-resistant camera mounts to your license plate. A wireless transmitter allows the two devices to connect with each other, both of which turn on any time the car is in reverse. peakauto.com to find a local retailer; about $99 to $249


Alphabet Books From A to Z there’s a lot to learn! By Claire Walling

Backseat A-B-See By Maria

minnesota’s hidden Alphabet Photographs by Joe Rossi, Text by David LaRochelle Minnesota Historical Society Press, $16.95

van Lieshout Chronicle Kids, $14.99

Whether on a quick trip across town or a long haul across the country, little ones see (and learn) a lot from the back seat. This book uses familiar road signs to take kids on a journey through the alphabet. Buckle up for the reading fun ahead!

Learn about the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” one letter at a time! Joe Rossi’s up-close photos reveal nature at its finest, and each letter of the alphabet is cleverly incorporated into the photograph.

James Balog’s Animals A to Z By James Balog Chronicle Kids, $7.95

This sturdy board book has vivid pictures of animals from all around the world—one for each letter—prompting young readers to wonder what they eat, where they live, and what their lives are like.

May 2012 35


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May 2012 37


“If we start teaching children early about safe behaviors, things might turn out differently for them.”

doing this all my life with adults. But kids? It’s a horrible, deep feeling to see an injured child. Sometimes hugs and bandages won’t fix the problem. Made me want to do something about it. So now you have a mission.

Yes. I’ve been trying to stop injuries from occurring for many years and I’ve come to the realization that changing a 40-year-old’s behavior might be more akin to a transplant than a change. Take the 40-year-old millwright. He has one finger missing and there’s still nothing he can do wrong, in his opinion. But kids, if we start teaching them early about safe behaviors, things might turn out differently. How have your grandchildren taken to your safety talks?

reaL gramPa

Tony Jaksa Sr. Tony Jaksa Sr. was in the business of emergency response his whole working life, including investigating industrial accidents, working as an EMT, on a HazMat team, on a confined space rescue team—you name it, he has probably seen or investigated unsafe behaviors that have led to accidents. But when it came to taking care of his two young grandchildren, Jaksa realized that safe habits begin as soon as children are taught them. He’s currently working on a series of picture books he hopes will give youngsters a beginner’s course in safe behaviors. — Kathleen Stoehr

38 May 2012

Q&a When did you realize you wanted to go further with your knowledge and teach it to your grandchildren?

I always had a response for whatever the problem or emergency was. I’ve interviewed workers on the kind of injuries they encountered and what they were doing right before it happened, and then explained what they needed to do to be more aware the next time. But I was never more unprepared than when my grandkid was hurt—you know, scraped elbows and the like. I’ve been

I’m so impressed with my grandkids. My granddaughter likes questions like, “Do you know what eyes on the path means?” My grandson is working on three points of contact as he ventures up trees, ladders, and anything that stands vertically. They’re right there, they’re digging right into it, and they grasp it matter-of-factly. That’s what impressed me. They are so eager and once they grab onto something and learn—it’s there. It’s either going to be them seeing what we do at risk, or what they have learned to do safely. What’s the most important thing a parent can do to start moving in the direction of being more safety-minded?

To me, the most important thing for a parent to do is to understand if they themselves are giving examples of “at risk” behaviors—because we are being watched by our children, 100 percent. They don’t miss a thing, so to me that’s the ultimate: if we don’t get it right in our heads, they’re not going to get it right in their heads. Learning safety can be and should be part of growing up and not a rule, a law, or a speech they hear when they are hurting from an injury. All little kids can learn safe action and it’s easier for them to learn it, if it comes first in the learning curve.


May 2012  
May 2012