Page 1

Bethae t heat!

July 2017



Our survival guide Page 28

Secret-ingredient salad dressing Page 26

Why you need an estate plan Page 18

OH, BABY: Should you have a third? Page 34

Edwin, 2 Minneapolis





Beat the heat! Cool off — and have fun — at these indoor and outdoor escapes we know you’ll love!




More than two kids?

Babies at work

Should you expand your family beyond the supposedly ideal number of two kids? Three local families explain how they’re making life work with three, four and five children!

Can you work from home — and successfully parent your little ones — without losing your mind? Yes, if you’re willing to be flexible and creative, local moms say.

July 2017 • mnparent.com


Growing up again

Becoming a parent ushers in a new phase of adulthood. 8 CHATTER

Boxed H2O Skip the juice boxes and try this flavored water designed for kids. 10 BABY ON BOARD

Humble expert


& About 44 Out Calendar

Your first will If you and your spouse pass on, what will happen to your kids? 22 ON BEHAVIOR


What to do when your child’s behavior is out of control.

You’ll look forward to salad with this new twist on vinaigrette.



Keep kids entertained with these new action-packed books.

Look at these adorable local papas and their cute kids.

Going too far

Dress up

Too fun!

Oh, Dad!

I loved the baby stage so much, I became a postpartum doula. 12 TODDLER TIME

No questions Don’t ask toddlers what’s up. Make a decision and tell them. 14 SCHOOL DAYS

Book list

If you can find a little reading time, try these mama-friendly tomes. 16 TEENS AND TWEENS



Bracing for braces?

Experts recommend an orthodontist evaluation by no later than age 7!

Sometimes it takes an outside influence to help us slow down.

About our cover kid Name: Edwin (Eddy)

Age: 2

Parents: Matt and Sarah Karnas

City: Minneapolis Sibling: Leo, 5

Personality: Sweet, funny, determined Favorite toys: Spray bottle Favorite book: Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest Favorite activities: Watching for trucks, washing his hands (playing in the sink), and demanding all of Mom’s attention Favorite foods: Apples and pizza Photos by Sarah Karnas / sarahkarnas.com Want to see your kid on the cover? Find out how at mnparent.com/coverkid.

mnparent.com • July 2017


FROM THE EDITOR mnparent.com

PUBLISHER Janis Hall jhall@mnparent.com SALES MANAGER AND CO-PUBLISHER Terry Gahan tgahan@mnparent.com EDITOR Sarah Jackson 612-436-4385 • editor@mnparent.com CONTRIBUTORS Dr. Trudy Bonvino, Jamie Crowson Megan Devine, Julie Kendrick Shannon Keough, PACER Center Laura Ramsborg, Rachel Schromen Kaitlin Ungs, Jen Wittes, Jennifer Wizbowski CREATIVE DIRECTOR Valerie Moe vmoe@mnparent.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Dani Cunningham Kaitlin Ungs CONTRIBUTING DESIGNER Sarah Karnas CLIENT SERVICES Delaney Patterson 612-436-5070 • dpatterson@mnpubs.com CIRCULATION Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • distribution@mnparent.com mnparent.com/find-a-copy ADVERTISING 612-436-4360 • sales@mnparent.com 50,000 copies of Minnesota Parent are 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 Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2017 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.


July 2017 • mnparent.com

Growing up again I cannot read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to my son without welling up with huge, mamabear 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-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. That passage gets me every time. I choke back the tears and clear my throat, hoping my kid won’t notice. (I can’t be the only one who does this, right?) Photo by Tracy Walsh / tracywalshphoto.com It kills me to think about my kid being on his own in a place where I won’t even have the illusion of protecting him from life’s hang ups, and where he’ll have to face hard realities without Mom or Dad. His innocence will gradually erode away — alas, like mine has — and he’ll have to manage the Great Balancing Act Seuss describes. Why does this hurt so much? I think it’s because we’re all on this journey of growing up. And, the truth is, growing up is even hard for us grownups. Parenting, however, forces our hand: Someone is counting on us. So we have to go to bed early (lest we not sleep much at all), stop drinking so much (so we can deal with colic and night feedings), start saving for our kids’ college (while paying off our own) and eat right/visit the doctor and/or the gym (or get a spouse to do so). We even have to think about death: Yes, we have to write our wills. Indeed, it is from this very mindset that I’ve decided to add a new department to the magazine called #adulting. A rotating cast of local parents and experts will author #adulting in an effort to address common challenges. This month’s #adulting kickoff is about estate planning. Seriously, it’s time to ask yourself: What is the plan if you and your spouse leave this world? In this issue, you’ll also find that our baby and toddler columnist have switched places — and they’ve renamed the columns, too: Jen Wittes, a mother of two and postpartum doula, will write Bump, Birth & Baby, and Shannon Keough, currently wrestling with two little rascals, will author The Uncensored Toddler. Eric Braun — who has guided us in family finances with Grows on Trees for three years — will retire his monthly column. But he’ll still write for us periodically as part of #adulting, because money is a huge issue for families! I hope you enjoy the changes. Will they succeed? It’s “98 and ¾ percent guaranteed!” Sarah Jackson, Editor

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On-the-go water for kids! 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

Their new kidsWATER drink boxes contain

from Woodbury) — sisters who collectively

purified, naturally flavored water, packaged in

have six kids! — have come up with a cool

the same fun style of drink boxes kids love.

alternative that’s perfect for families.

They contain no dye, no sweeteners, no preservatives, just natural fruit essences derived from plants. “If you put a slice of lemon in your water, the essence of the lemon would flavor your water,” Ambrose said. “We just decided to make it easy and put it in a drink box.” Our youngest testers loved these concoctions, including lemon and fruit punch flavors. (A berry flavor is coming later this year.) Our older testers — who were accustomed to full-sugar juice boxes — weren’t so sure. Our advice? Start them on these when they’re young. Eight-packs cost $3.99 to $4.99 (or you can buy 32-packs online for $23.99). Look for them at Kowalski’s Markets, select

Sisters Lisa Amundson of Woodbury and Laurie Ambrose of Chanhassen created kidsWATER as an alternative to juice boxes.

Target and Hyvee locations, from Coborns Delivers or at drinkkidswater.com.

A $99 heart screening Tim Webert of Plymouth was at his son’s

“We immediately wondered if our kids had

And so Webert left a high-powered

hockey game in 2014 when he witnessed

healthy hearts,” Webert said. “As I sought

career in marketing and product develop-

the tragedy of a seemingly healthy young

options to have their hearts checked, I was

ment to create a new corporation dedicated

boy dying because of an undiagnosed

told there are no readily accessible tests that

to this task, called PraeVeni (pronounced

congenital heart condition.

are both accurate and affordable.”



July 2017 • mnparent.com

The result is a low-cost, state-of-the-art youth heart-screening center in Eden Prairie, offering tests that cost about $99 (far less than the alternative battery of tests, which typically costs more than $1,000). Webert said the screenings — which take about 15 minutes — can rule out 95 percent of known sudden cardiac death (SCD) risk associations. Dr. James Seward, a professor emeritus of adult and pediatric cardiology at Mayo Clinic, developed the test, which focuses on heart and blood vessel features associated with SCD. Most heart problems in young people are present at birth and become unstable over time, but they show no outward signs or symptoms, silently evolving for years. “The goal of the test is to affirm that key heart and blood vessel features are normal, and if they can’t be affirmed normal, to help identify the emerging risk features as early as possible,” Webert said. Roughly 1 out of 10 children are born with a congenital heart condition, of which 30 percent will have moderate to severe lifelong heart risk. So far PraeVeni has screened more than 1,700 young people and has ruled out abnormalities for all but 2 percent of participants, a ratio consistent with that of the general population. Participants identified with a possible abnormality are referred to a physician for follow-up consultations. Learn more at youthheartcheck.com or call 952-222-9655.

Jen Wittes


The doula is in W

hether 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 free time. Of course, she changed how I understand life and love. She made me a mom. Her brother followed two years and five months later and he also changed me. He taught me that his sister was not, in fact, the center of the universe. Nor was she the only kind of baby. Nor was she the most perfect baby ever. There were other babies, equally lovely in different ways. Pregnancy, birth, postpartum and infant parenting were not exactly easy for me — but these phases and transitions did

come naturally to me. I understood babies, felt “in my skin” during pregnancy and fanatically (freakishly?) loved childbirth.

And then … As my two babies became toddlers, I felt hesitant to leave the intensely simple yet crazy immediate and vital world of the mom-baby bubble. So … I trained to become a postpartum doula. I read all the assigned books and then some, sucking down knowledge and science and anecdotes — information pertinent to a branch of anthropology I was absolutely in love with. Biology, intuition, folklore, psychology, lullaby. How to swaddle. How to recognize mastitis. How to treat thrush. How to know the difference between postpartum OCD and postpartum psychosis. Why so many cultures consider soup the tradi-

← I loved the baby stage so much that I decided to become a postpartum doula when it ended.

tional post-birth recovery meal. How to prepare a sitz bath. I worked in the field for about seven years — meeting so many wonderful families and learning that there are so many different babies and different styles of parenting. I worked with twins, triplets, babies with apnea monitors, preemies. I helped mamas through postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, emergent cardio myopathy, Cesarean recovery, apocalyptic stomach bugs, husbands in rehab, domestic abuse, working-mom guilt, second-child guilt — guilt and guilt and guilt. A school principal, a theology professor, a personal trainer, doctors, lawyers, a rabbi, a hairdresser, a 9/11 survivor. I worked with all these individuals and found that we are ALL so basic and good and scared and real in these two years — with a baby on the way, in the womb, in the house. I eventually took my pregnancy, birth and postpartum knowledge and merged it with my other passion and profession — writing. I’ve explored many infant/new parent topics — what to put on the registry, colic and infant sleep to name just a few.

Humility and expertise

I wholeheartedly believe that YOU are the EXPERT on your own baby. You and only you. 10

July 2017 • mnparent.com

I’m telling you all this, in part, so you understand that I come from a place of deep knowledge and interest. I’m giving you my resume, in a way. I’m also telling you this to share with you how happy I am to be here! Babies are my jam. Lest I seem like a know-it-all — I assure you that I’m a humble “expert.” When I don’t have the latest information, I know

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Trumpet teether

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This Japanese-made, two-way trumpet from Mochi relies on babies’ natural sucking and teething motions. Infants simply have to breathe in or out into the instrument to make sound. Made of rice (51 percent) and polypropylene plastic, it’s geared toward ages 3 months and up. Cute (if noisy)! $24.99 • peopletoy.co

where to look. I know the right people to ask. I’m not afraid to lean on my resources. And my most important resource is you. Now that you’ve read my resume, please hear that I wholeheartedly believe that YOU are the EXPERT on your own baby. You and only you. The one universal truth that emerged from my years as a doula is that the wisdom of parenthood is powerful — and unique to each parent. I’ll bring you some goods, some tricks of the trade, some hard science — but it’s the science of YOUR parental instinct that reigns supreme; and it is my hope that I may — like a doula — merely provide a little support along the way.

If you are interested in an art residency for your school or organization, visit hobt.org or call 612.721.2535 for more information. In the Heart of the Beast MNP 2016 H4 filler.indd 1

7/6/16 10:21 AM

Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Learn more about her work at jenwittes.com. Send questions or comments to jwittes@mnparent.com. Stages Theatre MNP 0717 H4.indd 1

6/16/17 2:28 PM

mnparent.com • July 2017


Shannon Keough


You’re the Decider “S

o, 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. You might as well have been addressing a stone wall. But what else are you going to do today — watch 12 more episodes of Daniel Tiger? You tell Max you’ll go the park as soon as he picks up the junk strewn all over the floor. And, what do you know, he actually picks up the junk! Then he starts acting cute and sweet instead of petulant and sociopathic, and you think, “Man, this kid is the greatest.” Overcome with feelings of affection and generosity, you decide Max has really earned his visit to the park today. So, is he ready to go now? Well, what do you think?

Toddlers and etiquette One thing about toddlers is they haven’t internalized all the day-to-day etiquette conventions that underpin polite society.


Toddlers are all about making waves. Their desires are front and center, and they’re more than willing to share their ‘big feelings.’

↑ Shannon Keough glamorusly keeps her wits about her while both her toddlers lose their cool on a sidewalk in Uptown.

Can you blame them? Think about it — after all, these are humans who, in some cases, are still measuring their age in months, not years. One of the conventions I’m talking about is the command-as-question

Adventure kit

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 sort of Flat-Stanley-meets-traveling-gnome kind of experience, geared toward ages 3 to 12. $29.97 • mygnomeontheroam.com


July 2017 • mnparent.com

politesse. For example, imagine you’re at work, zoning out while you scroll through your emails. Your manager suddenly appears, breaking the spell. “Hey,” she says, “Ready to head down to the conference room for that two-hour compliance meeting?” Could you ever really be “ready” for that? But since you’re a full-fledged adult, you say, “Yes! Let’s go.” Toddlers do not yet understand that they’re supposed to be agreeable and not make waves. As anyone who’s spent some time with them will know, toddlers are all about making waves. Their desires are front and center, and they’re more than willing to share their “big feelings.” Of course, Max doesn’t want to go to the

↑↑Attempting a headstand outside of a Foss Swim School seemed like a good idea at the time. #toddlers

park. The park desire has been replaced by some new, more absorbing desire — the desire to decorate the headboard of your bed with Justice League stickers, perhaps. Whatever the reason (as much as “reason” plays a part in the toddler world), Max says no — he does NOT want to go to the park. And now you’re in a position of weakness. Either you press on, grimly stating, “Well, we’re going anyway,” while he wails and moans as if you’ve just informed him that you’re going to an injection-skills clinic for nurses in training. Or else you might start pleading with him: “C’mon, Max, let’s go. You said you wanted to,” as you struggle to keep a subtle whine from creeping into your own voice.

Navigating chaos One of the first things we parents learn as we lurch into the toddler phase is that there are new power dynamics to be navigated. You’re still the nurturer, the provider, the giver of unconditional love, but now you’re also, to quote George W. Bush, “The Decider.” And so I present my No. 1 toddler tip: “Statements, not questions.” As in, “Let’s go to the park now.”

↑↑Toddler dress-up time ensues.

If commands make you nervous, keep in mind that you can always make them sunny: “Time to go to the park!” But are you asking a question, as if your child has a choice in the matter? Absolutely not. I’m not saying you won’t get any pushback to your commands, but you’ll maintain your position of power. And at this point you can start allowing your toddler to make unimportant (to you) decisions — like whether his snack will involve cherry or blueberry yogurt. Will you struggle to embrace this new, despotic manner? Perhaps. But I encourage you to be strong, and think less in terms of “manipulation” and more in terms of “guidance and frameworks.” The tyranny of choice is real, man: Set your kids up for success. Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com. mnparent.com • July 2017

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6/16/17 2:18 PM

On Mama’s bookshelf L

ife as a mom of four kids is always busy. But now that my children have all passed through the infant and toddler years — and are all school age — I seem to have a little more room in my mama brain for things that require more mental capacity. I feel as a mother of kids age 5, 7, 10 and 12, I’ve regained the privilege of reading for pleasure!

I enjoy reading and, as a teachermama, I read to children all the time. I love sharing stories with children and the genre of children’s literature overall, but I’m also drawn to literature that’s written specifically to grownups. I particularly appreciate illustrated cookbooks and other inspirational project books when I’m looking for new recipes and

ideas. I also like to revel in a good novel, travel essay or personal memoir that can give me a little escape from my day-to-day life, even if it is in my imagination. Summer can be an opportune time to pick up a book and catch up on some reading. Here are some books I’ve recently enjoyed that you may want to put on your book list this summer:

Present Over Perfect:

At Home in the World:



After a particularly long and hard week, I was drawn to the title of this book at our local library. Niequist offers her personal experiences, plus practical advice and sound reminders for living a life that’s grounded and connected to the people and values that really matter in our lives. Reading this book encouraged me to simplify, slow down and nurture connections with my loved ones; and I was also inspired to foster my spiritual connections. In one chapter, Niequist describes her experiences in “fake resting” and how we as mothers need to make time to do some real resting to avoid burnout. I would recommend this book to anyone whose life feels too fast paced or disconnected.

This personal memoir takes you on an adventure across four continents with the author, her husband and their three young children. This was a quick and engaging read that allowed me to travel vicariously to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Germany and England. I enjoyed Oxenreider’s personal stories shared, glimpses into the different cultures and her perspective traveling with children, including the challenge of balancing her yearning for travel/wanderlust and contentment.

Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living


July 2017 • mnparent.com

Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe

A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors BY ASHLEY ENGLISH

When I needed inspiration for my backyard homesteading adventures, I discovered several books in English’s Homemade Living series at my local library, including Canning and Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Keeping Bees and Home Dairy. I was drawn to the style and content of this new book. A Year of Picnics isn’t about homesteading, nor a typical cookbook. It’s photo heavy and offers inspiration for 20 location-specific, themed picnics, complete with recipes, a “sip and savor” section for all of the foods as well as descriptions and tutorials for the games, crafts and activities found in the “to make and do” and “to behold and explore” sections within each chapter. Some of the summer-themed picnics I’m hoping to try include Breakfast Picnic, Waterside Picnic, Children’s Picnic and maybe even Movie Night Picnic.

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5/17/17 1:12 PM

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.

mnparent.com • July 2017


Keeping time W

e 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 uncomfortable, walkingbut-trying-not-to-run speed we regularly try to keep. If I’m feeling frustrated, it’s usually from this speed of life we keep. How I wish we could slow it all down!

Affrettando Italian is the language of musical terms. Composers will often use one-word descriptors above the few first few measures of a piece, so the director or


July 2017 • mnparent.com

conductor and musicians understand the pace that was originally intended. Affrettando means hurried; in music, it’s a “rushed, nervous accelerando” or “to hastily increase the tempo in an impatient manner.” It’s not that I don’t love my kids’ involvement with sports, music lessons and choirs. It’s just that all of the practice schedules, games and concerts seem to conflict with my idea of having some unscheduled time. Time unscheduled means time to roll with it. Time to make a decision and do what I want to do — even if it’s a bit of work or pulling weeds in my yard. But isn’t there something amazing about those days you can stay in your jammie pants an extra hour or take a longer walk on the trail, just because you knew you didn’t have to be anywhere? I want my kids to have that, too.

My role as Mom becomes being a constant reminder bell of when things start — and how much time they have before they must get ready to go. What ends up happening is that my role as Mom becomes being a constant reminder bell of when things start — and how much time they have before they must get ready to go. On top of that, I talk myself out of doing some of these extras because I don’t feel I have the energy to squeeze it in between our many activities.


Adolescence survival guide

From the author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind, comes a new book to help parents and kids thrive during the teens years: Crazy Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter and the Science of Resilience. Drawing on neuroscience, psychology and “real-life stories from the teen battle trenches,” this book — written by a father of two teens — outlines contemporary how-to strategies for today’s parents. $17.95 • amazon.com

Legato Legato describes a smoothness; in music, it’s a “flowing manner, without breaks between notes.” When we aren’t being constantly pressed by life’s demands, I sometimes get the chance to really talk to my teens — and to sit and listen to them. And the tick-tock — of the few years of high school left on the clock — beats less loudly. My 14-year-old daughter takes piano. She has a wonderful, energetic, loving piano teacher she meets with once a week for lessons. Over the course of three years, her teacher’s outgoing spirit has nurtured the inward expressions of my daughter’s heart with rhythms, finger placements and chords. She introduces art or other songs that connect to my daughter’s interests or help explain a new piece she’s learning. I’d like to say their personalities make great music together. They are the right and left hand, playing in sync. Did I mention they’re about 60 years apart? Isn’t it fascinating that when a soul

connects to another, it doesn’t matter that shell of its carrier is a different age or from a different background?

Andante She’s taught my daughter to keep that tempo that I long for (and that I’d hope to teach her) — andante, “a moderately slow tempo.” It’s like the burden of sharing that lesson has been shared with me; and the result is a multi-faceted gift of acceptance, honesty and self-expression. She also has my girl name the flowers growing outside of her door; and my daughter brings them to me to display in a small vase I keep out just for them. Sometimes she just walks alongside her as she walks to the bus stop and reminds her of all the beauty around her. She teaches my girl, and reminds me that andante, walking speed, is a pace I can keep. Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and their teenage daughter and son. Send comments, questions and story ideas to jwizbowski@mnparent.com. mnparent.com • July 2017


Rachel Schromen


Why you need an estate plan P

arents 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 their children. It stands to reason then, that they need to plan for the continued protection of their children if they’re no longer there to personally watch their children grow into adulthood. The way to ensure the continuation of what’s best for their children is for parents to establish an estate plan. An estate plan commonly includes a will and/or trust, health-care directives and power of attorney. An estate plan also allows parents to name a guardian, or guardians, should they pass away while their children are still minors.

A question of guardianship Many times, kids are concerned about what will happen to them if their mom and dad are no longer alive. This issue almost always comes up when there’s been a death in the family. Recently, a friend’s 6-year-old asked his mom, “Who do I live with if you and Daddy die?” The mother was able to respond with clarity and certainty about who would care for him because she and her husband had recently completed a will. Without a will in place, there’s no guarantee your children will go to the guardian you know is best suited to raise them. Rather, a guardianship proceeding


July 2017 • mnparent.com

must be opened in court — an oftentimes costly and lengthy process. In a guardianship proceeding, a judge ultimately determines what’s in the children’s best interest, based on what’s presented in the hearing by those who wish to have guardianship. The best way to ensure your children will be raised by who you want (in the event something happens to you) is by having an estate plan in place.

Distribution of assets An estate plan allows parents to ensure their children are beneficiaries of their estate — something that also isn’t necessarily guaranteed, particularly in blended-family situations. Parents can also plan for when distributions will be made — and what assets are to be used — by setting up trusts for their children. I recently had the privilege of working with a husband and wife to complete their estate plan. The couple was young, with a daughter who had just turned 2 before they came to meet with me. Like many

couples I work with who have children, they explained that it was the birth of their daughter that led them to want to set up their estate plan. They brought their daughter with them when we signed their documents. After signing their wills, health-care directives and powers of attorney, the husband, holding the stack of documents in front of his daughter, said, “This is all for you.” Parents need to contact their attorney for the sake of their children, and schedule a meeting to talk about their fears and concerns, and learn what preventative measures can be taken. Factoring in the cost of estate planning to the family budget can help parents avoid potential worst-case scenarios and can help ensure the safety and security of their children. Rachel Schromen of Schromen Law is an estate-planning and elder law attorney in St. Paul. She works primarily with parents of young children, establishing estate plans. She was named Solo Practitioner of the Month by Attorney at Law Magazine in October 2016.

mnparent.com • July 2017


Dr. Trudy Bonvino


Bracing for braces? When do kids need to start seeing an orthodontist? 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 have enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to spot developing problems. A screening exam allows parents to gain an overview of the current orthodontic situation and insight into what, if any, treatment may be ahead. This allows for peace of mind that a serious problem hasn’t been missed, and allows the family to plan for timing and financial implications of treatment. Most orthodontists offer screening

exams for new patients free of charge, without a referral from a dentist. Families should definitely take advantage of this complimentary service, since for many, evaluation by age 7 allows the orthodontist to use phases of growth to a child’s advantage, providing the shortest and most efficient treatment possible. In some cases, early identification and timely treatment allow for results to be achieved that may not be possible once growth of the face and jaws is complete. X

that pose additional hygiene challenges, the importance of flossing is magnified. The American Dental Association recommends that kids begin flossing their teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch together. This typically occurs with the eruption of the first permanent molars, around 6 years of age.

Flossing can be a bit tricky for young kids, and takes time and practice to master, so parents definitely play an important role. By working with a child’s dentist and hygienist to teach and develop good hygiene techniques early on, parents can help kids build the skills necessary for a healthy, strong smile. X

How important is flossing for kids? Brushing and flossing have been the mainstay of personal dental care for as long as many parents can remember. It therefore came as a surprise to many when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently dropped its recommendation for flossing from its guidelines. This change — coupled with a recent flurry of articles on the subject of flossing — has left many parents confused regarding if and when their young children should begin flossing. If you ask dental professionals (who works in kids’ mouths every day), they agree that flossing is a critical step in preventing cavities and keeping gums healthy. This is because flossing removes plaque and food debris from the areas between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. For kids undergoing orthodontic treatment involving brackets and wires


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What’s the benefit of braces for kids whose teeth look OK and appear to work fine? It’s not always obvious when a child has an orthodontic problem. Teeth that look straight and appear to function well may be hiding subtle orthodontic issues that can negatively impact oral health later in life. Breathing through the mouth, unbalanced facial appearance, biting the cheek or roof of the mouth and snoring are all warning signs that point to an underlying problem that may warrant treatment. Teeth that are straight and fit together well are easier to clean, contribute to proper chewing and speech and stand up to wear over time. This minimizes the potential for costly restorative work later on. Proper alignment also encourages the restorative, refreshing sleep that’s so important to a child’s development and well-being. Thanks to today’s smaller and more efficient braces and the development of new orthodontic therapies — such as Invisalign Teen, a removable aligner system developed specifically for teenagers — parents have more choices than ever to help their children develop healthy smiles. X Dr. Trudy Bonvino is an orthodontist and the owner of Cosmopolitan Orthodontics in Lakeville and Prior Lake, offering Damon and Invisalign braces systems and complementary evaluations for all ages. Learn more at cosmoortho.com.

Thank you to our sponsors and participants for your support in the 2017 Minnesota Parent Kid Fest event! Sponsored by:





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PACER Center

When your child’s behavior goes too far J

ustin 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 other children and foul language directed at a camp counselor. The next day, during arts and crafts, the 8-year-old had snatched another child’s artwork out of her hands, declared it to be “stupid,” and had torn it into tiny pieces. On Day 4, Justin’s group went swimming and he pushed a girl on the pool deck causing her to slip and fall. The program director had seen enough. “We have given Justin time outs, we have talked to him numerous times about his behavior, and we have done our best to manage him, but he is making camp unsafe for the other children,” the director told Sophie. “Enough is enough. Justin is not

Other children kept their distance — often at the instruction of their parents — and Justin was no longer invited to birthday parties or on play dates. 22

July 2017 • mnparent.com

welcome in this program any longer.” The news was devastating to Sophie, but hardly surprising. Justin had always been a difficult child: He was highly explosive, easy to anger and very unpredictable. He frustrated easily and was overly sensitive to criticism. Other children kept their distance — often at the instruction of their parents — and Justin was no longer invited to birthday parties or on play dates. Sophie had tried everything she knew to help Justin with his behavioral challenges, but it wasn’t working. She also knew that Justin needed more help than she alone could give, and had to figure out a way to effectively advocate for him before it was too late. Here are five steps parents can take to effectively advocate for children with emotional or behavioral issues:

1. Don’t wait. Act now. Even though parents feel they’re responsible for their child’s well-being, they’re often unsure of what to do when serious behavioral issues arise. As a result, they wait to seek help and the child’s behavior gets worse, often resulting in negative, long-term consequences. Talking to supportive family, friends, teachers and other adults can be a good first step to getting a plan in place.

2. Talk to your pediatrician. Frequent emotional outbursts and volatile, disruptive behavior aren’t typical and may be a sign that something else is going on. Make an appointment with your pediatrician and discuss whether it might be appropriate to consider having an evaluation done. Understanding the symptoms and

potential medical causes can be a positive step toward helping your child.

3. Learn the language. Your son or daughter may have frequent emotional and behavioral challenges, but these shouldn’t define your child. Despite the stigma often attached to mental health issues and emotional and behavioral challenges, consider what help your child needs. Speak up for your child. Learn what his triggers are as well as his strengths. Understand the treatments and medication options that might be suggested. Most importantly, help others understand these challenges, including teachers, neighbors and your own family.

4. Enlist allies. You aren’t in this alone; others will help if you ask. Sophie did the right thing when she enlisted her friend Allison to help. Allison brought her son, Matt, over to Sophie’s house where the two boys could play and their moms could closely supervise the activities. There was a minor disagreement over a toy — nothing out of the ordinary for two boys entering the third grade. The dispute was resolved with Sophie’s help, and the play date went well. Sophie had stepped out of her comfort zone, asked for help, and effectively advocated for her son.

ATTENTION WOMEN 21-33: Would You Consider Being an Egg Donor?

The Center for Reproductive Medicine is seeking women between 21 and 33 years of age to donate eggs for couples who cannot otherwise achieve pregnancy. You will be compensated for your time and dedication.

5. Take care of yourself! Raising a child with emotional and behavioral challenges can drag you down if you let it. Join a parent support group. Contact PACER for resources. Turn to your friends for help, even if it’s only a listening ear. Your child needs you now more than ever, and you need to be physically and emotionally healthy to be his or her most effective advocate. © Disney. Reprinted with permission from Disney Online. All Rights Reserved. This article originally appeared on Babble.com and was published in partnership with PACER Center, a nonprofit organization based in the Twin Cities that helps families with children with disabilities and also runs the National Bullying Prevention Center. Learn more at pacer.org.

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mnparent.com • July 2017



Action-packed pages! By Kaitlin Ungs 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 Box Puppet dragons, penguin families, butterflies and more could be yours with a little work, creativity and cardboard, thanks to this gorgeous, inspiring activity book (144 pages), featuring 25 cardboard engineering projects for little makers. Disclaimer: Most of the projects require adult supervision. Ages 7–10 • $19.99

Teddy Bear Doctor Does your little one dream of being a vet? This activity book allows kiddos to create an entire world of creative play around the ins and outs of taking care of stuffed animals, including exam checklists, appointment reminders and patient check-in cards. Tons of stickers and cardstock cutouts can be used to create even more props and projects, including cardboard cages, a miniature wheelchair and a collar cone, too. Ages 3–8 • $10.95


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100 First Words Vivid images and vibrant colors splash across all 14 pages of this large-format board book, which is positively packed with illustrations and photos that fall into various categories, such as my toys, mealtime, pets and more. 6 months and up • $9.99

I’m Silly! Tizzy the Tornado doesn’t know just how silly is too silly. This My First Comics board book demonstrates what can happen when Tizzy’s friends, Sunny and Cloud, are overwhelmed by her overly playful tornado antics — the perfect metaphor for a toddler gone wild, don’t you think? Kids will love this book’s delightfully descriptive words (rich with onomatopoeia), including “Zoom!” “Whoosh!” and “Wheeeeeee!” Ages 2–3 • $7.99

My First Baby Signs

How to Be a Scientist

This sweet, sturdy, chunky little pull-tab book could help bridge communication gaps between parents and babies. Simply pull the tabs to make the characters’ hands act out the “eight essential” signs for eat, milk, more, all done, help, thank you, bath and bed.

This mix of classic and unusual science anecdotes and experiments is just the thing for budding STEM/STEAM fans, including tips for learning how to think and act like a scientist with fun activities and simple scientific explanations of biology, anatomy, physics, astronomy, chemistry and more. Learn why black ink isn’t really black, how to create a plastic bag puzzle and where to look for signs of nearly microscopic life.

6 months and up • $15.95

Ages 7–9 • $19.99

Where’s Waldo He’s one of our absolute favorites and he’s celebrating a major milestone this year: He’s turning 30! Celebrate and get searching with a large-format anniversary edition of the original book, plus a travel collection (with foldouts on each page, including checklists) and a coloring collection (with a bonus poster to color), just the thing for road trips or downtime this summer! Ages 5–9 • $7.99–$14.99 mnparent.com • July 2017




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. — Sarah Jackson

SERVING SUGGESTIONS We like this dressing tossed with spinach or mixed greens, topped with cherry tomatoes, Amablu cheese crumbles from Faribault (now sold at some Target stores), Fisher glazed pecans (from Costco or Menards — life changingly


July 2017 • mnparent.com

good) and grilled chicken, shrimp or portabella mushroom slices. You can also drizzle it over summer berries. WHY MAKE YOUR OWN? Most salad dressings (yes, even the fancy ones) are made with

canola oil. Even the “olive oil” dressings list the olive oil after canola. They also contain preservatives and stabilizers, necessary to keep them from separating and for longer shelf life. Vinaigrettes are cheaper to make at home and they taste much better, too!

Our fav orite secret ingredi ent!

MAPLE-BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less to taste) 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup 1 clove garlic finely minced or pressed (optional, but delicious) Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS Shake together all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid (or whisk in a bowl) until well combined. Pour over mixed greens or spinach and toss gently. Serve immediately. Store in the refrigerator. Source: Adapted from Steve Lehman of St. Paul. He and his family produce maple syrup every year at Samara Sugar Bush in northern New York state.



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mnparent.com • July 2017



Work life balancing act


s the term “work-life balance” the ultimate oxymoron of our times? Many of us struggle with the challenge of remaining fully engaged in the allimportant 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 or another — we’re looking at you, BBC dad), these two important missions are happening at the same time. Here are some real-life stories from local families immersed in the work-from-home trenches. They paint an of-the-minute portrait of how work-life balance shifts, teeters and (sometimes) ends up in perfect alignment.

Imperfect parenting Nora McInerny, 34, is a Golden Valley freelance writer and author of the memoir It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) and the host of the American Public Media podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking. A few years ago, in the span of a few weeks, she faced the loss of her second child (by miscarriage), lost her father to cancer and then lost her husband, Aaron Purmort, who died from a brain tumor.


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Today, McInerny is the mother of two boys, ages 4 and 7 months, and is a soon-tobe-stepmom to an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old. As someone who’s often doing creative work in the company of a baby, she’s learned: “Babies aren’t quiet, especially when you’re trying to record a podcast around them. I’ve realized people probably don’t want to hear a podcast of my baby crying, farting or even babbling.” So McInerny’s created her own math formula for estimating how much time it

will take to get a project done while working from home with kids, which she describes this way: “Multiply the number of children you have in the house by the number of hours it would take you to get the work done alone and then add 10,000 interruptions of 30 seconds or longer.” McInerny keeps herself going by keeping expectations low: “I’m the proud torch bearer for half-ass parenting, which is the quaint and reasonable notion that we don’t have to be perfect or ever attempt a Pinterest project.”


Her advice to other work-from-homers? “Don’t lose sight of the long game,” McInerny said. “Your career goals still matter, even when a tiny human depends on you. It’s not easy. But, in the end, your children will remember a mother who was capable and hard-working.”


Four times the fun For many of us, the idea of simply moving through the day as a working mother of four sounds incredibly daunting. Indeed, managing that — including keeping a career as a print and screen-based user experience designer — might seem downright impossible. But for Nicole Celichowski, 42, of St. Paul, it’s all in a day’s (and night’s) work. By day, she’s the mother of four kids, ages 11, 9, 7 and 2. By night — after a quick power nap while her husband, Matt, handles the dinner-bath-bed go round — she’s a nationally known designer whose clients include Disney, Corbis and Intuit. “It helps that I have a lot of West Coast clients,” she admitted, acknowledging that once, while powering through a major project, she told a client at 2 a.m., “If I don’t go to bed now, I won’t be able to drive anyone anywhere tomorrow.” While her work is creative, engaging and interesting, it’s also not the main source of her family’s income. The Celichowskis have made some conscious choices that allow her to freelance — or not. “We opted for a smaller mortgage (in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood) to lighten financial pressure, so we could have someone at home with a little less stress,” she said. “Even as the family has grown, we’ve kept the small house, and I’ve managed to keep my career alive.” She recommends early training for kids on how to behave around a working parent. “The kids know not to come upstairs when Mom is working,” she said. “Fortunately, on the rare occasion I’ve had someone sneak up behind me on a Skype

call, it’s not on national/international news. And I can turn off the screen share if I’m in a meeting.” Her advice to other parents: Be careful of those pictures in your head. “When I first imagined doing this, I pictured a baby in an exersaucer, playing happily, while I created brilliant work. It doesn’t play out like that, or at least it didn’t for me, but it’s still a great adventure, just about all the time,” she said.

Juggling act Anna Serpette, 34, is a self-employed bookkeeper in the Twin Cities. After her son, Aidan, was born two years ago, she tried to work from home and care for him at the same time. “Once he got active, it just wasn’t possible,” she said. “I had thought it would get easier when he got older, but I was deluding myself.” These days, she relies on a patchwork schedule that blends where she works and who cares for her son.

“Every day is different, but I do try to stick to being in the same place each day of the week,” she said. Sometimes she’ll go to a client’s office to work (while her sister comes to her house to care for him). Sometimes she heads to her husband’s office to do the books for his landscaping business (while her mom watches Aidan at her house). “Fridays are my dedicated day off, and we do some kind of activity together,” she said. If Serpette receives an urgent message from a client, she lets the person know she’ll get back to them on Monday. “I try to just be with Aidan,” she said. Her advice to other work-from-home parents? “Don’t tell yourself: ‘They’ll nap for eight hours a day and I can do all my work then!’ As soon as you say that, they won’t be good sleepers. You need to be flexible in terms of expectations for yourself and your child. It might not be perfect, but you have to figure it out as you go,” Serpette said. mnparent.com • July 2017


YOU GOT THIS! Successfully working from home doesn’t just happen. Check out these five tips from a marriage and family therapist, Paula Frisk, the senior program director of the 0–5 homevisiting programs at St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development in Minnetonka.


Work life balancing act


Have realistic expectations and be gentle on yourself and your children when things don’t go as planned.


Set a tentative schedule. Share this with your partner and family supporters. Having structure in your day can help you as well as your children.


Take advantage of naptimes and bedtimes to get work done, if possible. But don’t depend on this time. It could be disrupted or shorter than you planned. It could also be that you’re so exhausted by the end of the day that it’s very difficult to focus on your work.

Babies at work? As the clock was running out on her maternity leave, Meghan McInerny (Nora McInerny’s sister) knew she had a problem. The chief operating officer of the Minneapolis-based marketing and technology agency Clockwork just wasn’t quite ready to, as she put it, “jump into the deep end of work” after 12 weeks’ leave. Then she read an article about the Parenting in the Workplace Institute and its Babies@Work program, which provides resources for workplace programs that allow parents to bring their children to work and care for them while doing their jobs.


Prioritize and divide your work into chunks, knowing that you may need to take frequent breaks to connect with your children and address any needs.


When you need uninterrupted time, make sure you have supports in place — perhaps a friend, partner or babysitter. Be clear how comfortable you are with interruptions, and make sure your children understand when you’ll be back.


July 2017 • mnparent.com


McInerny approached her company’s owners, who greenlighted her as the “pilot.” When her leave was up, she brought her son, Theo, to the office, first for three days a week, then two, then one. After about two months in the program, he transitioned to full-time daycare and McInerny was more than ready to dive fully back into work. “The presence of a baby had a lovely effect on people around the office and sent a strong message that this was a supportive environment for people who were parents or thinking about becoming parents,” she said. At Clockwork, manager approval is required to participate in Babies@Work, and two colleagues must be willing to provide backup care when a parent is in a meeting. Those with babies are placed in offices with doors, and co-workers can anonymously request to be seated far away from the baby. The program ends when the baby reaches 6 months or begins crawling. Another common-sense rule: “If the baby is having a bad day and would be disruptive, we ask the parent to work from home,” McInerny said.

A co-working mom collective

She looked for a co-working space that offered on-site child care, and when she couldn’t find one, the Apple Valley mom founded Twin Cities’ Work Play Grow: A Co-Working Collective for Moms. “It’s a way for parents to come together, switch off child-care duties and get work accomplished,” Weaver said. “We match up groups of at least three parents, who rotate co-working sessions at each other’s houses. One person takes a shift of child care while the other parents work.” The concept has been gaining traction, and Weaver reports she now has about 30 moms signed up via a Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/workplaygrow). “There’s no charge,” she said. “I just felt this was a resource we needed in our community, so I’m hoping to fill the gap.” Even with regular co-working sessions, last-minute work still pops up. When Weaver is slamming on deadlines, her go-to solution is a late-night session at the Perkins in Apple Valley. “I have dinner ready when my husband gets home, and he handles evening duties,” she said. “I order a bottomless carafe of coffee and get some serious work done.”

After freelance copywriter Alaura Weaver moved from Ohio to the Twin Cities, she found herself struggling to get work done while caring for her two sons, ages 3 and 5.

Julie Kendrick is a contributing writer for many local and national publications. She lives in Minneapolis. Follow her on Twitter @KendrickWorks.


Power couple Meet Emily Rodvold, 35, a freelance graphic designer. Her husband, Zach, 37, is the “serial entrepreneur” behind Rising Tide Renovations (focused on buying, renovating and selling homes in South Minneapolis and Richfield) and AssistTheResistance.com, which sells T-shirts, yard signs and cards with slogans and images (that Emily designs). Their son, Waylon, entered the picture a year ago. What’s the productivity secret for this work-from-home duo? “It’s the post-bedtime crunch that gets us through,” Emily Rodvold said. “Once he’s asleep, we have dinner, pull out the computers and work on projects together.” What’s important for this Powderhorn Park couple is holding close to the philosophy that drove them to be solopreneur parents in the first place. “It’s fun to take him out of daycare early on a sunny day and play outside. If you don’t enjoy those perks, you might as well get a regular job,” Emily Rodvold said. Emily Rodvold admits to holding onto some longer-term aspirations, too: “In my

home office, I built a separate, lower desk, and I imagine that someday in the future I’ll be working and he’ll be at his desk with crayons and paper … and not drawing on the wall.”





by La u org ra Ramsb

S H O U L D YO U H AV E E V E N M O R E K I D S ? Here’s what local moms have to say about life with 3, 4 and 5 children!


hen 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


July 2017 • mnparent.com

to have, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study; 25 percent said the magic number is three; and 13 percent voted for four or more. Yet, it’s not uncommon to know several families with three, four or five children. How did these larger families form and how are they making it work? To find out, we talked with three local

mothers who each have more than the “ideal” number of kids — Karen Gabler, a mother of three of Edina; Jennifer Malecha, a mother of four of Bloomington; and Heidi Tellers, a mother of five of Mayer. Through candid interviews, they shared how their families grew, what surprised them most about having a bigger family and advice for making it all work.

TAKING THE PLUNGE From the very beginning, some couples know exactly how many children they’d like to have in their families. But for others, every addition to the family may be a separate decision. Each person’s family experiences definitely play a role: Those from big families may be used to being part of a larger clan and may have always envisioned having many children of their own. Kids from two-child families may want to duplicate their experience. Both Karen Gabler and her husband came from families of three, so the three-kid dynamic was what they knew and were familiar with growing up. However, for Heidi Tellers, it took time to go beyond two. In the Tellers family, there’s nearly a seven-year difference between the second and third child. Sixteen months after her third baby was born, Tellers was surprised to be pregnant again and even more surprised to learn she was having twins!

Although Tellers admitted to being nervous and worried about meeting the needs of five children, now she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Evenings are very chaotic, but overflowing with love,” she said.

BIGGEST SURPRISES For many parents-to-be, anxiety can set in as they envision what their growing families will be like — and try to anticipate what’s coming. “Once I knew I was going to have five kids, I worried about everything.” Tellers said. “How would I find the time for each of my five kids individually? How would we afford everything that goes along with raising five kids? How would I find the time needed for our marriage? How would we manage the day-to-day tasks for a household with seven people?” Tellers’ biggest surprise was that it’s all working wonderfully: “Although the worries still creep into my mind every now and then, I truly believe that things

THE REALITIES OF HAVING MORE KIDS After you have two children, adding more kids to your family isn’t that big of a deal. Or is it? Here’s what local moms had to say: “In our family, going from 1 to 2 was brutal — 2 to 3 was much easier! I think it is related to an established understanding that your brother/sister will also need Mom and Dad’s attention. Also, as parents, you are more aware that kids are resilient and adapt to change.” — Jen M., mother of three, from Plymouth “I thought I was a rock star after my first. She was easy and everything I tried worked. Then No. 2 came along and I realized I knew nothing. They are so different! No. 3 is easier, but my situation is very different. Plus, I’m older and wiser now.” — Alecia S., mother of three, from Edina “Having an older child makes it easier because big sister/brother can make sure you can go to the bathroom ALONE — and maybe take a shower.” — Patti W., mother of three, from Bloomington “Everything depends on the temperament of your child, your family situation, the temperament of you as a parent. Each kid has their personalities, their needs, their gifts, their quirks. They are a totally unique person who brings a lot to the family as a whole. Having time to honor each one as an individual adds to it.” — Karen G., mother of three, from Edina “Although making room for one more in the house or adding another meal to the table isn’t a lot of work, each individual child needs specific love and attention and I like to make a big deal out of that.” — Heidi T., mother of five, from Mayer

Karen and Peter Gabler of Edina pose with their kids, Meredith, 4, Elizabeth, 6, and Patrick, 8.

“After having 4, still going from 0 to 1 was the biggest challenge of my life. It’s such a game changer and I had to become a totally different person. Even though I was a nanny, oldest of 4, and a babysitter, the parents always came home. With your own kid, you are on all the time.” — Jennifer M., mother of four, from Bloomington

mnparent.com • July 2017





always have a way of working themselves out somehow.” Both Tellers and her husband have full-time careers. But Tellers finds the most rewarding part of her day is returning home in the evening and being greeted by her children. Jennifer Malecha, meanwhile, was surprised to discover the truth of the old parenting adage: “It doesn’t get easier, it gets different.” New phases and different trials mean being dynamic and flexible as a parent — from the early years of coordinating naptimes and entertaining everyone over summer vacation, to now navigating school friendships and multiple activities. Malecha said there’s another dynamic at work, however, that makes things a bit easier: Big families aren’t formed overnight. “People say to me all the time, ‘I don’t know how you do it with four kids!’ But we didn’t have four kids all at once. We added to our family over time and adjusted to the new normal,” she said. “Now it’s not unusual for us to go in four different directions on a Saturday morning.”

Among the moms we interviewed, one of the greatest joys they found in parenting numerous children was watching them all grow into one-of-a-kind individuals. “Seeing the unique personality of each child as they grow is one of my favorite things,” Tellers said. Gabler agreed: “It blows my mind how different our three kids are. They are genetically the same, but so different. One is empathetic and wears his heart on his sleeve; one is 100 miles a minute, never slowing down; and another is the family comedian.” Another source of joy the moms have found is the strong bonds that can form among siblings. “Although their relationships are tumultuous at times, it’s awesome watching

how they seek each other out for play, advice and company,” Malecha said. Tellers added: “I love that my children will forever have a friend in each other during both childhood and as adults.” The tumultuous times between siblings can actually count as a joy as well. Children in larger families often learn to share and compromise from an early age. Older children may more readily gain independence, responsibility and self-confidence. For Gabler’s two older children, the birth of their younger sister meant more responsibility. “They had to be a little more independent by doing things for themselves,” she said. “They had to rise to the occasion when the baby came along.”

SUBLIME DELIGHT Undoubtedly, parenting comes with numerous joys as well as challenges. There may be more of one than the other, depending upon where you’re at in your parenting journey.


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Doug and Jennifer Malecha’s children include Sam, 13, Betsy, 8, Abby, 17, and Alex, 11.

TIME AND TOUGH CHOICES One of the biggest challenges reported by the women we spoke to was universal — finding time — time for each child, time for partners and time to get it all done. Malecha said scheduling is definitely a challenge. It’s difficult for both parents to be at one child’s event together. “You are pulled in many directions,” Malecha said. “You can’t see everyone’s soccer/hockey/softball game. You need to make choices and compromises.” Gabler agreed: “There’s a constant feeling of being behind on everything, or not doing enough. With three different people and three different schedules, something has to give — personal things, sleep, time with your spouse. You can’t expect to do it all.”

Adam and Heidi Tellers of Mayer gather with their children Beau, 2.5, Evie, 9, Lily, 11, and Mason and Nicolas, both 8 months.

Laura Ramsborg lives in Bloomington and is the mother of two daughters. She’s excited to welcome her third child late this summer.

WORDS OF WISDOM Among the women we interviewed, there are 12 children and 35 combined years of parenting experience. That’s a lot of available wisdom to tap into! Here’s their best advice for growing a happy, healthy family:


When you’re more than party of four — heck, even when you’re not — you have to make tough choices every day. Parents, it’s up to you to consciously prioritize what’s meaningful for you and your family and then make choices around those priorities. “Don’t feel bad if there are things you have to let go — relationships with people who don’t have kids, your house, planting flowers. I spend my time with my kids, making sure they are happy,” said Jennifer Malecha, a mother of four from Bloomington.


Your sense of humor, that is. It’s important to laugh about things, and be able to see the humor in some of the parental chaos. Some days are all sparkles and rainbows, but most days aren’t. Embrace those moments anyway and try to laugh about it.

“Try to find the beauty in the mess, even if there are days that you feel like you are ripping your hair out,” said Karen Gabler, a mother of three from Edina.


Form your village, or parental support system, and don’t be afraid to accept help. Parenting is demanding, and anyone who is a parent can truly empathize. “No one has it all figured out,” Gabler said. “It is really hard. We’re all in the same boat. And as moms, we need to be each other’s cheerleaders.”


Take a little bit of extra time to strategize and set up for daily tasks. Being proactive, instead of reactive, can make a huge difference. Though it does take a bit more work on the front end, it can save you time and limit your stress load overall later. “Even a quick 15 minutes of preparing in the evening for the next morning makes getting out the door so much easier.” said Heidi Tellers, a mother of five from Mayer. Decide what will help your family the most

— picking out clothes the night before, packing lunches ahead of time, planning and shopping for meals on the weekends or strategizing with your partner on Sunday night to tackle the demands of the week ahead.


This time, although hectic and crazy, will pass — much too quickly. The older women in the grocery store who warn you to “enjoy this” (as your preschooler, toddler and newborn are melting down in the checkout line) aren’t trying to test your last ounce of sanity. They’re warning you against wishing time away, and they know from experience. Malecha said: “Everything is a phase. The phases will come and go. Some you will like; some will be really challenging. There’s always another one around the corner. Eventually they will sleep and use the bathroom.” When pondering the idea of adding to your family, instead of listing all of the reasons not to (sleepless nights, diapers, potty training), think about your family and how many faces you’d like to see around the dinner table in 10, 15, 20 years. Then let your heart guide you — the rest will take care of itself.

mnparent.com • July 2017


Splish splash

The 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) and the Burnsville Lions Splash Pad at Cliff Fen Park because they both offer awesome adjacent playgrounds, too. Check out all our top picks at mnparent.com/splash-pads. 38

July 2017 • mnparent.com


Wade it out

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board operates 62 wading pools in neighborhoods throughout the city. Many are small and intimate, just right for half a dozen families at a time, such as the one at Brackett Field Park in Longfellow. Others — such as the one at North Mississippi Regional Park (left), featuring rock walls and waterfalls — are more elaborate and spacious. And they’re free! See them sorted by neighborhood at tinyurl.com/wading-mnp.

Slip and slide

Lazy rivers, wave pools, waterslides and diving boards! Water parks are a good fit when you’re entertaining a variety of ages and you can find both indoor and outdoor options — so you can avoid the sun altogether if you wish. St. Louis Park’s Outdoor Aquatic Center is a local favorite that’s in full sun, while the Tropics Indoor Water Park in Shoreview is entirely enclosed. Don’t forget your essentials: Grab our indispensable printable list for swim outings at mnparent.com/swim. See our list of 20 top water parks at mnparent.com/directory.

Frolic in foam

Como Town in St. Paul is now offering free foam parties three times a day (12:30, 2:30 4:30 p.m.), featuring safe, non-toxic foam. Bring a towel for cleanup afterward and/or cool off at Como Town’s splash pad. Though the foam parties are free, Como’s splash pad entry is included with the purchase of a kids’ unlimited ride wristband ($21.95), or can be purchased separately. When you’re done, pop over to Conny’s Creamy Cone (only two miles away) for some soft serve. See comotown.com.

Jump among the roos

See Australia’s red kangaroos (plus wallabies and emus) daily through Labor Day as part of the Minnesota Zoo’s walk-through Kangaroo Crossing exhibit in Apple Valley. And check out the Jump Squad — humans dressed as giant, muscular roos — appearing weekly at the zoo and around town. Afterward, cool off at the zoo’s spacious splash pad (bring your flip-flops, swim suits and towels). It’s all included with zoo admission of $12 for ages 3–12 and 65 and older, $18 for ages 13–64. Go to mnzoo.org.


July 2017 • mnparent.com

Play inside

Avoid the sun, but keep the kids active by visiting an indoor playground. Options abound in the Twin Cities, including some spaces reserved for ages 6 and younger — such as The Wishing Tree Play Cafe in White Bear Township and Pinwheel Play in Chanhassen (at right). Many offer activities for school-age kids such as laser tag, bowling and arcades games, including our new fave, Big Thrill Factory with locations in Minnetonka, Oakdale and Shakopee. See our list of two dozen indoor play spaces at mnparent.com/directory.

Visit a museum

We often think of museums as dead-of-winter or rainy-day destinations, but museums are often less crowded in the summer and they’re delightfully cool, too, so they can help you escape from the heat. This summer, why not try a museum you’ve never seen before? Our Family Directory (mnparent.com/directory) lists 30 museums, including lesser-known gems such as Firefighters Hall and Museum in Minneapolis (ride on a real fire truck) and the Schubert Club Museum of Musical Instruments in St. Paul. Plus, for the first summer in three years, the newly restored Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul is open for tours. Two other free options for families include the Walker Art Center (pictured) on the first Saturday of each month (see the newly revamped Minneapolis Sculpture Garden while you’re at it) and Family Days at Mia on the second Sunday of every month, both in Minneapolis. See mnparent. com/directory for a list of museums.

Expore the new MCM

The Minnesota Children’s Museum’s flagship location in St. Paul — temporarily closed since December — recently reopened in June. And it’s a breath of fresh (conditioned) air! Check out the $30 million expansion and renovation, including 10 new exhibits and 35 percent more space for visitors. Don’t miss The Scramble (a four-story vertical adventure with climbing towers, a spiral slide and a netted catwalk); Sprouts (an area of discovery for babies and toddlers, above); and The Studio (where kids can tinker and create with real tools and authentic materials). There’s also a new cafe with a coffee bar! Regular museum admission is now $12.95 (formerly $9.95) for ages 1 to 101. Go for free on Target Free 3rd Sundays. (Aug. 20 is the next one.) See mcm.org.

mnparent.com • July 2017


Get Smaaashed

Need a cool place to take the older cousins visiting from out of state? The new indoor Mall of America amusement park known as SMAAASH features a multi-level indoor racetrack for electric go-karts — no fumes! While you wait for your turn to race, you can check out an insanely good array of VR (virtual reality) games, plus an arcade, restaurant and bar (specializing in beers). Sky Kart riders must be at least 50 inches tall. Karting costs $25 for six minutes. Find all prices at smaaashusa.com. Younger kids? Check out the Crayola Experience and Nickelodeon Universe (including Toddler Tuesdays every week) at MOA. See mallofamerica.com.

Need more ideas? Pick up our Family Directory at select rack sites for more than 200 Minnesota attractions for families, or browse our online version at mnparent.com/directory.

Fly Over America

Go on a small-plane ride across America (and now Canada!) at this theater-style ride at the MOA. Riders sit suspended in ski-lift-like chairs with their legs dangling 10 to 40 feet off the ground, as they move (wearing seatbelts) seemingly through a 15-minute film, projected on a wrap-around giant screen. Music and special effects — such as mist, wind, sounds and scents — make you feel like you’re truly flying through the scenes displayed before your eyes. Riders must be at least 40 inches tall. Tickets are $12.95/$16.95 for one film or $19/$25 for two. See flyover-america.com for more details. 42

July 2017 • mnparent.com

Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent.

Out & About




Puppetry Festival ⊲ The National Puppetry Festival attracts more than 400 puppet artists. On July 22, enjoy a free family day with puppet shows, music, puppet exhibits and a puppet store as part of this event (July 17 to 22), featuring many award-winning puppet performances that are open to the public. When: Noon–5 p.m. July 22: Kids and kids-at-heart are encouraged to bring their favorite puppets for a puppet parade at 4 p.m. on the campus quad. Where: Concordia University, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: nationalpuppetryfest.org


Science of Pixar ⊲ Get an unparalleled look at Pixar’s filmmaking process for beloved animated films such as Toy Story, The Incredibles, Inside Out, Monsters, Inc. and WALL-E. When: Through Sept. 4 Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: Admission to both the museum and this exhibit cost $28.95 for adults and $22.95 for ages 4 to 12 and seniors age 65 and older. Visitors are asked to choose a date for their visit and a specific entry time. Info: smm.org


July 2017 • mnparent.com

Photo courtesy of National Marionette Theater

Blooming Butterflies ⊲ Hundreds of butterflies from Africa, Asia and the Americas will be flying freely in an indoor garden environment filled with tropical plants. When: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. through Sept. 4 Where: Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: comozooconservatory.org

Jack and the Beanstalk ⊲ In this new adaptation of a classic tale, Jack’s son embarks on a familiar adventure to save the family farm. When: Through Aug. 11 Where: The Old Log Theatre, Excelsior Cost: $14–$16 Info: oldlog.com

Music & Movies in the Parks ⊲ Both St. Paul and Minneapolis offer family-friendly outdoor summer concert and film series at local parks. When: Ongoing Where: Minneapolis and St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: stpaul.gov/musicintheparks and tinyurl.com/music-movies-2017

JULY 2–AUG. 27

Ice Cream Sundays ⊲ Enjoy ice cream made the oldfashioned way, meet farm animals and take tours at this farm, featuring handson programming by the Ramsey County Historical Society.

When: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. July 2, 16 and 30 and Aug. 13 and 27 Where: Gibbs Farm, St. Paul Cost: Free ice cream is included with farm admission of $8 for adults, $7 for ages 62 and older and $5 ages 3–16. Info: rchs.com/gibbs-farm


Red, White and Boom ⊲ Celebrate Independence Day on the downtown Minneapolis riverfront with morning races, live music, food, familyfriendly activities (jugglers, magicians, face painting, caricature artists and balloon artists) and a grand finale of fireworks. When: July 4 with family activities from 6–10 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m. Where: Father Hennepin Bluff Park, Mill Ruins Park and Boom Island, Minneapolis

Cost: FREE Info: mplsredwhiteboom.com


Okee Dokee Brothers ⊲ This Grammy award-winning, familyfriendly, bluegrass duo will make multiple stops in the Twin Cities this summer.

When: July 6–9 with a special family matinee at 1 p.m. July 8 Where: Corcoran Lions Park, west of Maple Grove Cost: $9–$18. Family Day (July 8) matinee tickets are $10. Info: hamelrodeo.org

JULY 6–AUG. 17

Summer Faire

When: July 5 in Plymouth, July 9 in Warroad, July 15 in St. Paul and Aug. 5 in Minneapolis Where: Various Cost: Various Info: okeedokee.org

⊲ Grab a lawn chair and enjoy sounds from Aimee & Boyd Lee, Keri Noble, Shane Martin, Ryan Liestman’s Reggae Revival Duo, Martin Zellar, American Bootleg and GB Leighton.

JULY 6–9

Hamel Rodeo ⊲ Watch professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls compete in this 37thannual event.

Where: Arbor Park courtyard, The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, Maple Grove When: 6–8 p.m. Thursdays July 6– Aug. 17 Cost: FREE Info: shoppesatarborlakes.com



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Out & About JULY 8–9

Dragon Festival ⊲⊲Racing teams paddle in ornately designed boats representing the mythical creatures of Chinese folklore. Other activities include martial arts demonstrations, bouncy-house castles (tickets required), vendors and a performance stage showcasing the arts of Asia with colorful costumes, traditional dances and music. When: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. July 8–9 Where: Lake Phalen Park, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: dragonfestival.org

JULY 8–16

Hopkins Raspberry Festival ⊲⊲Going on its 83rd year, this nine-day event kicks off with a first-ever Running of the Bulls race on July 8. Family Day on July 15 includes an arts and crafts fair, a soapbox derby, Big Wheel races, kids’ activities and fireworks. On July 16, see the Grande Day Parade at 1 p.m. on Mainstreet. When: July 8–16 Where: Hopkins Cost: Most events are FREE Info: See a complete list of activities at raspberrycapital.com.


Choo Choo Soul ⊲⊲This year’s Music in the Zoo lineup includes this preschooler-friendly show, featuring Genevieve, a soulful singing train conductor, and DC, a beatboxing, breakdancing engineer from Disney Junior. When: 7 p.m. July 9


July 2017 • mnparent.com

Where: Weesner Family Amphitheater, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley Cost: $22 (free for ages 1 and younger), includes free zoo admission after 2 p.m. Info: suemclean.com

JULY 11–15

Rondo Days ⊲⊲Celebrate the best and brightest of Minnesota’s African-American histories, achievements and culture with live music, a senior dinner, a 5K walk/run, a grand parade, a family-friendly festival (July 15) and more. When: July 11–15 Where: Venues throughout St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: rondoavenueinc.org

JULY 14–16

Highland Fest ⊲⊲Join in a wide variety family-friendly activities, including live music and art, a petting zoo, wiener-dog races, inflatables, games, a beer tent and food and beverage vendors, plus a community picnic, Zumba in the park, wine tastings, a movie in the park and more. When: July 14–16 Where: Highland Park neighborhood, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: highlandfest.com


Bluegrass Festival ⊲⊲See the Okee Dokee Brothers, The OK Factor, The Roe Family Singers and

AUG. 4–13: Day Out with Thomas

⊲⊲Thomas the Tank Engine returns with Percy for a day of rides and activities for kids, including appearances by Sir Topsham Hatt. When: Aug. 4–6 and Aug. 11–13 with hourly rides from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Where: North Shore Scenic Railroad, Duluth Cost: Tickets, required for ages 2 and up, are $20. Info: duluthtrains.com

The Sawtooth Brothers at this Minnesota Waldorf School festival, also offering food trucks, beers on tap, children’s activities and vendors. When: 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. July 15 Where: Minnesota Waldorf School, St. Paul Cost: $18 for adults, $10 for kids in advance; otherwise $15–$25 at the door Info: mwsbluegrassfestival.org

JULY 19–AUG. 16

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Rhythm on the Rails ⊲ This new, free summer concert series will feature live music, family fun, food/ brew vendors and more. Acts include Church of Cash, a Johnny Cash tribute band (July 19), The Outer Vibe (July 26), Chris Hawkey (Aug. 2), Lost Highway (Aug. 9) and Martin Zellar (Aug. 16).

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When: 6–10 p.m. Wednesdays July 19–Aug. 16 Where: Lewis Street, downtown Shakopee Cost: FREE Info: downtownshakopee.org


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AUG. 4–19


Mini Golf

⊲ Being a different color doesn’t stop Swimmy from teaching his fellow fish to think outside the box. In fact, his uniqueness is just the thing to inspire his school to work together to ward off impending danger in this Theatre for the Very Young production, a beautiful tale based on the Caldecott-honored book by Leo Lionni. When: Aug. 4–19 Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins Cost: $10 for all ages; lap passes are free for infants less than 1 year old. Info: stagestheatre.org

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Out & About AUG. 11–13

Irish Fair of Minnesota ⊲ Celebrate all things Irish with multiple stages dedicated to dance and music performances and kid-friendly activities, including face painting, arts and crafts, dance lessons, games, races and visits from native dogs.

Twin Cities Polish Festival


⊲ Learn about Polish culture and traditions at this family-friendly event, featuring folk-dance exhibitions, live music, food, beverages, arts and crafts, cultural exhibits and a petting area filled with cuddly Polish sheepdogs.  

⊲ Naturalists make spending time outdoors interesting for preschoolers by providing new themes and sensory experiences each month. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Nature Play Dates

When: Aug. 11–13 Where: Old Main Street in northeast Minneapolis, across from St. Anthony Main Cost: FREE Info: tcpolishfestival.org

When: Aug. 11–13 Where: Harriet Island, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: irishfair.com

When: 10–11:15 a.m. Fridays July 21 and Aug. 4 Where: Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul Cost: $7 per child; pre-registration is required. Info: dodgenaturecenter.org


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Keep your child safe.

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More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Always put every medicine and vitamin up and away every time you use it. Also, program your poison control center’s number in your phone: 800.222.1222.

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mnparent.com • July 2017



Oh, Dad! ↑↑Matt Lorenz with his son, Leo, 3 months, of Chaska

↑↑Ahren Grunow with his son, Ethan, 1, of Richfield

↑↑Chris Zimmerman with his son, Max, 11 months, of Waconia

↑↑Dan Cartwright with his son, Gavin, 8, of Shakopee

↑↑Charlie Guan with his daughter, Aria, 10 months, of Minneapolis

↑↑Andy Chrest with his daughter, Caitlyn, 3, of Otsego

Want to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s first name, age and city to editor@mnparent.com.


July 2017 • mnparent.com

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