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30 Cool off!

The Twin Cities metro area is home to a wide variety of FREE splash pads. Check out our top picks — 14 in all — to help your kids beat the heat this summer!



No vacation

A better bucket list

End bedtime drama

Summer is an expensive burden for families with two working parents.

Keep summer simple and fun with inspired, yet realistic expectations.

Simple changes can make a big difference in calming a child before bed.



Reluctantly 13


Slumber party

Kids of all abilities can play at two new places in Woodbury and Minnetonka.

My carefree girl isn’t in a hurry to dress older now that she’s a teenager.

Guide your little ones to dreamland with these sleep-adventure stories.




Inclusive playgrounds

Shady escapes

Just give him a box

Energy balls

Avoid sunburn — and overheating — at these Twin Cities havens for families.

You really can save money during the toddler years. Here’s how!

Forget trail mix. These on-the-go snacks are easy to make and delightful to eat!




Attention parents: Here’s your guide to a spectacular Minnesota summer.

Allergic reactions to insect stings are uncommon among kids.

See how local families are chilling out at destinations near and far.

100 things to do



July 2016 •

Bee-sting fears

Wet and wild


JULY 2016

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Summer swap Take a break from the typical with these dramatically different day trips.

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41 Now what? Your kid has a food allergy. Here’s how to cope.

44 Out & About About our cover kid Name: Elsie Age: 4 City: Hanover Parents: Jenny and Jason Poser Sibling: Reid, 6 Personality: Silly, energetic, loveable Favorite activities: Dance, playing outside and swimming Favorite foods: Strawberries and raspberries Favorite book: Are You My Mother? Photos by Tracy Walsh / • July 2016



PUBLISHER Janis Hall SALES MANAGER AND CO-PUBLISHER Terry Gahan EDITOR Sarah Jackson 612-436-4385 • CONTRIBUTORS Eric Braun, Cathy Broberg, Jamie Crowson, Dr. Peter Dehnel, Megan Devine, Shannon Keough, The PACER Center, Tracy Walsh, Amanda Williams, Jen Wittes, Jennifer Wizbowski CREATIVE DIRECTOR Dana Croatt SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Valerie Moe GRAPHIC DESIGNER Amanda Wadeson CLIENT SERVICES Zoe Gahan 612-436-4375 • Delaney Patterson 612-436-5070 • CIRCULATION Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • ADVERTISING 612-436-4360 • 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 2016 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.

Summer’s flipside H

appy summer, Minnesota families! If you’re looking for things to do with your kids in the Twin Cities, you’ve come to the right place! This month’s issue — our annual Beat the Heat edition — includes 2 inclusive parks designed for all abilities, 4 family day trips reinvented, 13 shady places for babies, 14 fun splash pads, 19 summer bucket-list ideas, and — for the truly ambitious — 100 things to do this summer. Plus, check out our Out & About calendar. Wait. Are you not exactly freewheeling this summer? Are you working a full-time job and, therefore, need to send your kid to daycare or to back-to-back camps at a cost of roughly $200 a week? Photo by Tracy Walsh / You’re not alone. A recent New York Times article — The Families That Can’t Afford Summer — tackled the topic of those 10 to 12 weeks of the year that can cost families thousands. “Summer is the moment that really epitomizes the child-care crisis,” says Julie Kashen, policy director for the advocacy group Make It Work. “Our system doesn’t take into account that most parents are working. Summer is when it really hits home.” Oh, how I wish we all had 12 paid weeks off a year — or even six! But of course, we don’t. My son, like many kids his age, is attending 12 weeks straight weeks of camp this summer — at quite a significant cost. Yes, I realize it’s a luxury that his father and I can afford camp for him at all. (That article made me feel pretty darn grateful for that, actually.) And I realize we’ve made choices — careers, vacations and more — that demand summer camp. And, I know the summer camps he’s attending are educational and enriching. He will be learning and playing a lot! But this time of year, I get wistful. I long deeply for my own childhood, spent riding my bike around my small South Dakota town, usually to the public pool and back. My son may never know that freedom — the real blissful boredom of an unscheduled, small-town summer. But here’s the flipside: The Twin Cities metro area is truly amazing when it comes to living the good life with kids. So, I’m going to count my blessings (including the luxury of camp), take advantage of the ridiculous wealth of fun activities our cities and suburbs have to offer and enjoy all the time I do have with my son. Because it’s not just summer that goes way too fast.

Sarah Jackson, Editor


July 2016 •

CHATTER Aaron Nelson plays Simba in the touring Broadway version of Disney’s The Lion King, showing July 5–Aug. 7 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Photo by Matthew Murphy

SHOW US YOUR PRIDE! Broadway is joining the sensory-friendly scene with a special performance of Disney’s The Lion King at 2 p.m. Saturday July 30 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. This one-time performance — geared toward people with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families — is the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a touring Broadway show for Minnesota, according to organizers. To celebrate, Minnesota Parent is giving away tickets — two family four-packs — to the sensory-friendly performance only.


July 2016 •

To enter to win, send a photo of your kid/family (your pride) celebrating an event (such as a birthday) to editor@mnparent. com for possible inclusion on the From Our Readers page in the back of the magazine. Include your child’s first and last name, age in the photo, city of residence and the story behind the photo. Use the subject line: LION KING. Our deadline is Sunday, July 10. Winners will be contacted by email and announced on Monday, July 11. Special accommodations at the July 30 performance will include lower sound

levels; house lights on at a low level throughout the performance; standing and movement accommodated in spaces throughout the theater; designated quiet areas; trained volunteers and professionals on hand during the performance; and sensory supports such as fidgets, earplugs and noise-cancelling earmuffs. Traditional performances will be offered July 5 to Aug. 7. Learn more at sensoryfriendly or call 866-276-4884



Madison’s Place playground opened on June 4 in Woodbury.

Suspended equipment in St. David’s new Super Gym will help with specialized therapy.

St. David’s new playground in Minnetonka was designed for kids of all abilities.

The Twin Cities is home to an increasing number of playgrounds designed for kids of all abilities. St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development is hosting a grand opening on July 20 to celebrate the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion project at its Minnetonka campus. Among the features is a new inclusive playground with equipment designed for ages 3 to 10 and all stages of motor, cognitive and social development. The fenced play area includes equipment that encourages collaborative play (side-by-side slides and extra-large musical instruments), plus features that provide multisensory experiences (such as a rumbleroller slide). Open to the public from 6–9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.–9 p.m. on weekends, the playground also offers kids ample opportunities to frolic in nature, including a dry creek bed, a mud kitchen and an adjacent DNRcertified forest. St. David’s new Pediatric Therapy Clinic also now includes five new therapy gyms, including a 1,500-square-foot Super Gym with 19-foot ceilings with suspended equipment for specialized therapy. Learn more about the grand opening at Across town, another new inclusive playground opened on June 4: Madison’s Place in Woodbury was designed so that no disability could prevent a child from playing within its many features. The 16,000-square-foot play space — south of the Bielenberg Sports Center field house near Radio Drive and Hargis Parkway — includes sensory-friendly and adaptive play equipment, ramps for wheelchair access, rubberized surfaces and accessible restrooms. Named in honor of the founding local family’s late daughter, who died of spinal muscular atrophy at age 2, the playground cost more than $800,000 to build. It sits next to the city’s new accessible Bielenberg Splash Pad. Read about the Madison’s Place — and the family that made it happen over the course of six years — at or see Check out a list of inclusive Twin Cities playgrounds (and a local mom’s review of the Wabun inclusive play area) at • July 2016


Everybody wants a shady lane S

ummer in the Twin Cities is generally pretty glorious. After nine months of wool socks and Seasonal Affective Disorder, we see the sun emerge and suddenly forget the lengthy punishment we endured to get to this season of no coats. But there can be too much of a good thing, and yes, that even includes the summer sun. Whether we're motivated by a need to cool off, a medical condition, an effort to protect a newborn’s skin or simply a personal desire to minimize sunburn risk, most of us would like to find a little shade during our outdoor excursions — so we’ve compiled a list of family-friendly places that offer some much-needed sun protection.

⊲⊲Kenwood Park My husband and I refer to this as “the shady park,” and it gets quite a bit of business from us during the hottest weeks in summer. While many Minneapolis parks appear to be the victims of overzealous clear cutting, this one just northwest of Lake of the Isles features a low-key playground with a cute, climbable train and a zipline.

⊲⊲Surly Brewing This beloved beer-lover’s spot in Minneapolis is also a kid-friendly delight.

MORE PLACES FOR SHADE ⊲⊲Minnehaha Regional Park and Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis ⊲⊲Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, Minneapolis ⊲⊲North 4th Avenue Playground, North Loop, Minneapolis ⊲⊲The Loring Greenway, Minneapolis ⊲⊲Augsburg Park, 7100 Nicollet Ave. S., Richfield ⊲⊲Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Township ⊲⊲Cherokee Regional Park, West St. Paul ⊲⊲Caponi Art Park, Eagan


July 2016 •

Last summer, I met a group of friends for food and drinks on the spacious Surly patio. While we lounged on the sidelines, our kids (age 18 months to nine years) capered around the adjacent courtyard and grassy areas, which become fully shaded in the afternoon. If you get tired of the crowds, you can always go wander around nearby Prospect Park, a paradise of trees surrounding the beloved Witch’s Hat Water Tower.

⊲⊲Como Regional Park With a lake, a zoo, shady wooded areas, gardens, live music, a restaurant (Como Dockside) and more in summer, this 450-acre public park has it all. When I polled a Facebook parenting group about the best shady places in town, all things Como came up more than anything else.

⊲⊲MLK Jr. Park There’s a cool, newly rebuilt playground in the Kingfield neighborhood — at 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis — that spotlights black heritage with story panels about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

↑↑Como Regional Park in St. Paul is a favorite among Twin Cities families for pockets of shade and respite from the sunshine.


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.

Clever ideas! ⊲⊲Mother of two Asha Dornfest started her blog in 2005. Her recent book of the same name features 134 whimsically illustrated ingenious ideas for simplifying life with kids, such as: Strap your baby into a forward-facing carrier when you trim his or her fingernails. Put the ketchup under the hot dog to minimize mess. At the beach? Stash your wallet in a disposable diaper: Who would ever steal a potentially soiled Pamper? $12.95 •

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the Civil Rights Movement, AfricanAmerican history and African-American inventors. (Attend a grand opening party from 1–4 p.m. Aug. 20.) It’s also home to an awesome wading pool that boasts afternoon shade.

⊲⊲Lake Rebecca Park Reserve This wooded Three Rivers park features hiking and biking trails, a trumpeter swan restoration program and a lake for non-motorized recreation. But what makes it especially worth the drive to Rockford — about 30 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis — is its natureinspired Big Woods Play Area, featuring slides designed to look like giant logs and wooden children’s play cabins. Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to • July 2016


Summer-tots to-do list 1. Cut a watermelon in y l e t ia d e m im t a e d n a f l ha with spoons.

28. Free family flicks at the MOA. 29. Dinner on the patio at Longfellow Grill.

30. Make your kiddo try FIVE new foods … at the State Fair, Aug. 25–Sept. 5. 31. Lemonade stand! Use the proceeds to bring pet toys to the Humane Society. 32. Finger painting. 33. APPLE VALLEY

AQUATIC CENTER. 34. The beach at Snail Lake, Shoreview. 35. Paddleboats at Como Lake followed by food and music at the pavilion.

36. Wild Rumpus bookstore. 2. Master somersaults. 3. Have a teddy bear picnic at Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater. 4. Take in a matinee with real butter popcorn at the Riverview Theater. 5. Make your own popsicles.

6. Pajama day, all day.


7. Make your own play dough. 8. Lewis Park Splash Pad, St. Paul. 10. Conny’s Creamy Cone, St. Paul. 11. Backyard campout. 9. Highland Fest, July 15–17, St. Paul.

12. Make up a cookie recipe using toddler suggestions. 13. Neighborhood parade. 15. Root beer floats for dinner. 16. Cook over an open fire. Carefully. 17. Cloud shape contest. 18. Bike and trike around Lake Calhoun.


19. Hike Minnehaha Falls and eat lunch at Sea Salt.

20. Fly kites at Lake Harriet. 21. Mia with your kid leading the way the whole time. 22. Catch a Puppet Wagon! 23. Rainy day? Child o’ mine, meet The Flintstones.

24. Dance in the rain!

25. Bathing suit bubble bath in the outdoor kiddie pool.

26. Brunch at Tilia.

27. Make your own sock puppets.


July 2016 •


40. A Twins game. 41. A Saints game!

42. Plant flowers. 43. Decorate your bikes and trikes.

44. Animal spotting at Lebanon Hills: How many can you count?

46. Oak Hill Splash Pad, St. Louis Park. 45. Lake Hiawatha Wading Pool.

47. Cascade Bay, Eagan. 48. Nicollet Commons, Burnsville. 49. Kelley Park, Apple Valley. 50. Chutes and Ladders, Bloomington.

51. Como Pool 52. Big Woods Playground, Lake Rebecca.

53. Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, Jordan. 54. Gibbs Farm, St. Paul. 55. St. Anthony Park Library and a leisurely lunch with books on the lawn. 56. Run through the sprinkler.

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59. Catch the Okee Dokee Brothers on July 17 in Minneapolis. 60. Caponi Art Park, Eagan. 61. Sampling at Great Harvest Bread Company. 62. Pump It Up! 63. Day trip or overnight to Duluth. 64. Brunch at Hell’s Kitchen. 66. Dinner at yum! kitchen and bakery. 67. Richfield Farmer’s Market at Veterans Memorial Park. 68. Gale Woods Farm, Minnetrista. 69. Cookies at Wuollet followed by Creative Kidstuff, Grand Avenue, St. Paul. 70. Fake moustaches. 71. Water wading and a nature walk at Hidden Falls, St. Paul.

72. Lake Minnetonka Swimming Pond.

65. DUPLO at Brickmania

73. Popcorn party on the porch. 74. Como Zoo carousel. 75. Square Lake, Stillwater.

76. Mini golf on the roof of the Walker Art Center.

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77. Firefighters Hall and Museum. 78. Dragon Festival, July 9–10, Lake Phalen, St. Paul. 79. Skip across the Stone Arch Bridge. 80. Freezy pops, barefoot in the grass.

81. Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer.

86. Macaroni art.

82. Colvill Park, Red Wing. 83. Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul. 84. Summer-long project: Map the Peanuts characters. 85. Poppies, popcorn and playground, Pahl’s Market, Apple Valley. 87. Fishing at Lake Nokomis Pier. 88. Pick your own raspberries or blueberries. 90. Create a backyard scavenger hunt. 91. Make your own pizza together. 92. Mud pies. 93. Pick a country to learn about. 94. Active game night with Duck, Duck, Goose and musical chairs. 95. Heat-wave crazy?

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The Golf is Mini, the Fun is Big!

89. Grow the ingredients for and make your own salsa

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Roseville Ice Arena for winter in July.

96. Catch an IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo. 97. Rooftop milkshakes at Annie’s Parlour in Dinkytown. 98. Build your own sandbox. 99. Bug terrarium, fireflies recommended.

100. Print out all three months of pictures and look through them together. Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Learn more about her work at Send questions or comments to

(612)861-9348 6335 Portland Ave S. Richfield, MN • July 2016

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Building a better bucket list A

couple of years ago I created a bit of an over-the-top Pinterest-inspired summer bucket list with my children. In June, we made a big, colorful poster with lots of ideas of different things to do and put it on our fridge, thinking we would check off each experience as summer went on.

We started right away with some practical and classic summer activities, such as swimming, picnicking and setting up a lemonade stand. But then we lost our momentum: We got held up on some of the bigger ideas, such as going on an impromptu road trip, hosting an outdoor movie night and creating a nature-inspired photo book, to name a few. Some of the things we didn’t check off our list looked practical and fun on paper, but didn’t happen because they ended up being cost prohibitive or more work than fun to complete. The interesting thing I’ve noticed when reflecting back upon that particular summer bucket list, is that I remember mostly the things we didn’t do from the list. As it turns out, there’s actually a scientific name for this — the Zeigarnik effect, which is: "the psychological tendency to remember an uncompleted task rather than a completed one." Well, the Zeigarnik effect was kind of a killjoy for our well-intentioned family project. I think we set the bar a little too high. In fact, we haven’t done another list like it since — and my children don’t even remember putting it together. Fortunately, we went on to enjoy all our summers anyway, of course. So let’s give it another shot, this time making a summer bucket list that’s both attainable and fun — one that includes experiences I want my kids to have nearly every summer, as they grow up in Minnesota.


Chewable jewelry ⊲⊲Chewbeads — 100 percent silicone jewelry for babies to chomp on (instead of their mother’s real jewelry) — have become popular among modern mamas. Now the parent-founded company is expanding its line with Juniorbeads kids’ necklaces, including cute color combos geared toward girls and groovy shark tooth, robot and dog-tag pendants for boys. We like these — because loving to chew on things goes on past toddlerhood. $14.50–$23.50 •


July 2016 •

 EEP-IT-SIMPLE K SUMMER BUCKET LIST ⊲⊲Make homemade lemonade and set up a lemonade stand. ⊲⊲Pick berries and make homemade jam. ⊲⊲Swim in a lake. ⊲⊲Unplug. Go screen free for (at least) one full day ⊲⊲Sleep in a tent. ⊲⊲Run through the sprinkler. ⊲⊲Visit a Minnesota State Park. ⊲⊲Have a picnic. ⊲⊲Go fishing. ⊲⊲Read a chapter book as a family. ⊲⊲Throw a rock in Lake Superior.

Odds of a child becoming a top fashion designer: 1 in 7,000 Odds of a child being diagnosed with autism: 1 in 110

⊲⊲Make popsicles. (See /in-the-kitchen/cool-pops.) ⊲⊲Visit a farmer’s market. ⊲⊲Watch a baseball game. ⊲⊲Light sparklers and watch fireworks. ⊲⊲Make pickles. ⊲⊲Build a campfire and roast marshmallows for s’mores

Some signs to look for: No big smiles or other joyful expressions by 6 months.

No babbling by 12 months.

No words by 16 months.

To learn more of the signs of autism, visit © 2010 Autism Speaks Inc. “Autism Speaks” and “It’s time to listen” & design are trademarks owned by Autism Speaks Inc. All rights reserved. The person depicted is a model and is used for illustrative purposes only. Ad Council - Autism MNP 2011 NR4 Filler S3.indd 1

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⊲⊲Enjoy some live music. ⊲⊲Go stargazing.

My hope is that this list will serve as inspiration, not obligation, for being intentional with our family time this summer! As we approach the midway point of summer in Minnesota, I encourage you to move forward with intention and work to share simple, yet meaningful experiences with your child. Remember: Some of our most precious — and fun — memories can come from the simplest experiences. Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her on Instagram @megtdevine. Write her at • July 2016


Reluctantly 13 I’m pretty sure when I was at this stage I had a fullsize picture of Kirk Cameron next to my bed, posing with his leather jacket, collar turned up.


hirty and Flirty and Thriving is the phrase Jennifer Garner’s 13-year-old version of herself says over and over to break free of her young teen stage in the film 13 Going on 30. The Razzle-eating teenager desperately wants to move past her awkward phase and into adulthood. I’ve read it’s kind of a thing for moms to show this flick at their daughters’ 13th slumber parties — with plenty of packages of Razzles, of course. My youngest just celebrated her 13th birthday. Yep, she’s now a teenager. There weren’t exactly sparks and pops ushering her from one stage of girlhood to the next. But I have watched the gradual changes leading up to this year.

own world anyway: He’s in and out with his activities or simply in his room with the door closed. There are exceptions: He still likes to hoist her on his back, and he rarely fails to stop for a wild game of lawn tennis when asked. It’s in these moments, she forgets he’s a boy — and he’s just back to being her brother who plays with her.

⊲⊲Let’s not rush into things


I suppose there are those kids who just can’t wait to get to the next step. They want to be big. They want more freedom, more recognition of their impending adulthood, clothes that come from the teenager shops. That's not my daughter. She has reluctantly turned 13.

Isn’t that what mothers and daughters do? These days, I think she’s more focused on being an athlete, partly because there’s no in-between place to go once you’ve left behind the little-girl sequins of Justice. What’s next is unfortunately a smattering of shops with one-word names that smell strongly of cologne and perfume, play their music loudly and offer myriad stringy tank tops and short cut-off jeans. I’ve dragged her into a few of these shops in the past year. I walk around and look and she follows with her arms tight at her sides. She steps suspiciously, as if she might get the contagion — and get turned into a playful, beachy teen — just by touching the fabric. I turn around and get the evil eye and a firm “No” with the shake of her head.

⊲⊲Beyond boys She’s carefree. She still sings to herself and spends lots of time flipping on her trampoline. She has pictures of her friends, books and flowers in her room. In contrast, I’m pretty sure when I was at this stage I had a full-size picture of Kirk Cameron next to my bed, posing with his leather jacket, collar turned up. I’m also pretty sure I’d give him a peck on the cheek now and then when I came home. Meanwhile, there are no pictures of boys in my daughter’s room. Even her brother, whom she totally adores, has suffered a slide in ranking: She addresses him as “butt.” (Seriously, this is how she starts all her texts to him.) Yeah, I know, it’s affectionate. And the glitter is back in her eyes when he sees her frustration. Her once built-in playmate option is in his


July 2016 •

⊲⊲Special teenage looks These aren’t reserved for Mom trying to get her to go shopping. Sometimes those intense furrowed-browed frowns just happen.


Mindfulness therapy ⊲⊲Parenting teenagers can be intense. Adolescents’ huge ups and down can drive you and the rest of the family crazy! Eline Snel — author of Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) and founder of the Academy for Mindful Teaching in Leusden, Netherlands — offers tips for calming down in her 135-page book. Breathe Through This: Mindfulness for Parents of Teenagers — supplemented with an audio download of guided meditation for parents, plus another for teens — helps families control their emotions when things get heated.


We have moved to 668 Transfer Road, Suite 8, St. Paul, Minnesota, just north of University Avenue. Open weekends through the summer: Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5 • 651-647-9628 Follow us: Twin Cities Model Railroad Museum MNP 0716 H6.indd 1

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$15.95 •

Instead of getting upset, I admit I chuckle a bit inside. I know it’s hard to grow up. It’s scary. The world is spinning so fast, making it harder to reconcile her state of in-between. I also remember how hard it is to talk through all of that.

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⊲⊲My chosen remedies On one of her grumpy days, I might make her lunch for her when she normally does it on her own. I send her texts with really bad selfies for her to laugh at on the bus. I tuck her in bed and rub her back — just like I used to when my hand was the size of her back. She won’t be in-between forever. I couldn’t resist when I spotted a package of Razzles in the store the other day. I think we’ll share them on the couch tonight and cuddle. Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and daughter and son, ages 13 and 15. Send comments, questions and story ideas to Stages Theatre MNP 0716 H4.indd 1

6/16/16 5:28 PM • July 2016


Don’t let toddlerhood break your piggybank N

ow that I’m a few years out of the woods, it’s pretty easy to wax nostalgic about the toddler years. I even get a little jealous when I hear about someone’s early morning toddler dance parties (even if they occur at 5 a.m. sharp) or when I see a heavy-lidded dad pushing a stroller to the park on a Sunday morning when any reasonable person would be relaxing with the paper. I remember my family’s toddler years well — blissful days of bonding with my boys, feeling super well-rested (as compared to the infant era) and savoring every idyllic moment. Just kidding! I barely remember that hectic time at all. I know it was great (sometimes!). I know the boys were adorable (I have the photos!). And I know I was sick of ABC books (even the super-clever ones). Other “highlights” include lots of big, colorful, plastic toys — and preschool tuition.

⊲⊲For whatever reason It’s true that our children’s toddler years contain some of life’s most magical moments. But it’s also true that they can drive us to the brink — emotionally, physically and, sometimes, financially. Whether you’re facing extra medical expenses, childcare bills or just inflated household costs, it can feel hard to take charge of your spending when you’re in the midst of toddlerhood. But looking back with some clear-eyed distance, I know there were ways to cut back that I didn’t take advantage of at the time. Since everybody’s values, budgets, tolerances and priorities are different, everybody’s list of what they could do without is going to look different. With that in mind, here are some simple ideas you can try as-is or adapt for your own situation.


July 2016 •

They may save you money — and possibly even a small degree of sanity — during the toddler years.

⊲⊲Just go for the box It’s true about the box. You know what I’m talking about because you hear it at every 1-year-old’s birthday party: “I could have skipped the present and just given her the box.” We’ve all seen the hard evidence: Toddlers often prefer playing with the wrapping more than the present. Well, what if you really did it? For your 1-year-old or 2-year-old’s next holiday, what if you skipped the present and literally gave your child a collection of recycled boxes, perhaps nested inside each other and all wrapped up in colorful paper? Throw in a box of crayons so your kid can color the new “toys,” too. Want to really see your kids’ eyes light up? Get down on your hands and knees and color, stack and pretend right along with them. Keep your eye out for opportunities, and you can take this idea of “free substitutes” further. For example, we bought one of our sons a plastic toy drum set, but he was just as happy banging on bowls with wooden spoons and spatulas. Mix in a plastic bowl, a wooden bowl and a metal bowl or two and you get different sounds going. Now that’s good, free fun.

MOMMY-AND-ME DIY Here’s another way to substitute free for fees: Create your own toddler-time extracurriculars. Whether your toddler’s in childcare or not, chances are you spend at least some money on enrichment programs • Lights or power out • Fuse to circuit breaker like mommy-and-me music appreciation or panel upgrades art for your wee one. • Troubleshooting • Bath exhaust fan But here’s a secret you probably already • Storm damage installations & servicing know: These toddler-time activities don’t • Emergency service necessarily make parents and kids grow closer or kids grow smarter. What they 763-544-3300 • do for sure is give adults and munchkins invaluable time for socializing. So why pay tuition to experts when youHarrison Electric MNP 0115 12.indd 1 11/24/14 9:10 AM can meet everyone’s needs with a selfcreated “class”? If you don’t already belong to an online community neighborhood like, see if there’s one in your neighborhood. They’re great for arranging playground meet-ups, art- or music-themed gatherings and good old-fashioned “mommy-and-me” play dates. You and your new friends will have just Starting a family means big financial as much fun as you would at a toddler’s changes. Contact me for a free budget music academy (maybe more fun), and you planning session and let me help you can all save on the tuition expenses! (952) 806-9606 • enjoy life’s best moments — worry free.



⊲⊲Bribe with experiences What about those store-bought treats we give for good behavior or to keep kids calm while we’re doing errands? Of course we all know we shouldn’t be using cookies and toys as rewards, but if we’re honest, most of us do it. Instead of junk food, try treats made of something else toddlers love — your attention. “When we’re done at the grocery store, we’ll sing Wheels on the Bus the whole way home!” Or: “When we get home, we’ll read all of your ABC books — twice!” If you’re like me, your memory of these years will be frosted in nostalgia no matter what. But if you put the money you save into a savings or college account, you’ll have a tangible reminder of your wisdom.

Mark E. Skubic | Financial Representative ©2016 Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI (life and disability insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), a subsidiary of NM, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, and member of FINRA and SIPC. Mark Edward Skubic, Insurance Agent(s) of NM. Mark Edward Skubic, Registered Representative(s) of NMIS.

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Eric Braun of Minneapolis is a co-author of the forthcoming book for young readers, The Survival Guide for Money Smarts: Earn, Save, Spend, Give. Send comments to

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Dr. Peter Dehnel

Can tubes stop ear infections? My daughter gets so many ear infections. How do we know if she should get tubes?

Thank you for this question! Frequent ear infections are common for many families. This is a problem that involves persistent fluid and/ or infection in what is called the middle-ear cavity — normally a very small, air-filled space behind the eardrum (tympanic membrane). When a young child, especially under age 2, suffers from recurring ear infections, families will often start looking for alternatives to the constant need for antibiotics. One alternative that’s commonly used is the placement of pressure-equalizing or ventilation tubes in the eardrum to drain the fluid from the middle-ear cavity — and prevent it from coming back. Tubes can be very effective for many children, who typically hear better and suffer less from the wakefulness and pain that go along with ear infections. One rule of thumb for younger children is if they continue to have fluid and/or infections for six months or more, a family will likely be referred to ENT specialist. Children with persistent bad infections that can’t be cleared by antibiotics will likely get referred earlier. Children who present certain risk factors — such as large adenoids or a cleft palate, for example — may be referred earlier as well. Tubes aren’t a cure-all for ear infections — a child with tubes can still get ear infections — but you’ll likely see drainage from the ear alerting you to the possibility of an infection. There can also be some other complications of ventilating tubes, like scarring of the eardrum. Overall, however, children who need tubes usually do better with them than without. Learn more at

Our son was stung on his finger by a bee and his whole hand became swollen. Will his next sting be worse or cause an allergic reaction? Local reactions to bee stings — redness, swelling, pain and itching — are very common in children. The good news is that previously stung kids aren’t likely to have worse reactions the next time. Though the severity of a reaction can depend a bit on what kind of bee or wasp sting occurred, severe, life-threat-


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ening reactions are still uncommon in most children. If a child is stung suffers multiple stings, the reaction can be more extensive, but such a situation is still unlikely to cause anaphylaxis, an overwhelming, body-wide reaction that is a medical emergency.

What's the best way to treat a toddler’s sunburn? Ouch! Sunburns are especially unpleasant for toddlers because they don’t understand the cause of the pain. Prevention, of course, is really the most important step to take. Sun blocks with an SPF of 30 or higher are important to use frequently, even on cloudy days if your child is going to be outside. If your toddler does suffer a sunburn, the care required really depends on the severity. Mildly pink skin, accompanied by very few symptoms, shouldn’t require treatment. When the skin turns a deeper red, however, use of an aloe product may be soothing and helpful, along with ibuprofen or acetaminophen to dull the pain, which is typically worse the day after sun exposure. Any product that contains a topical anesthetic should be avoided due to the possibility of a sensitivity to that product going forward. A cool bath or a gentle cool water spray may be helpful as well. A second-degree sunburn — one in which blisters form on the exposed skin — is a more serious medical condition. This should result in a visit — at least a call — to your child’s clinic. The level of pain can be very high and there’s a risk of a secondary infection. In any situation, keeping a sunburned toddler out of the sun for the next few days will help to keep him or her more comfortable. Learn more about sunscreens at Dr. Peter Dehnel is a board-certified pediatrician and medical director with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Send questions to This column is intended to provide general information only and not medical advice. Contact your health care provider with questions about your child.

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Getting past bedtime battles J

ohanna felt like she’d been having bedtime battles with her 7-year-old son, Sam, for … just about forever. When her other children were younger, Johanna had looked forward to their bedtime routines — a story, some one-on-one time and then a warm goodnight hug. But Sam’s routine has been a struggle ever since he was a toddler, and nothing seemed to help him settle down. First, it was the procrastinating. Sam would stall for time in the bathtub and then refuse to put on his pajamas. Then it was the glass of water followed by the inevitable trips to the bathroom. Screaming and refusing to go to sleep had become the norm, and the battle seemed to go on for hours. Johanna knew something needed to be done. After another sleepless night of her own, she called Sam’s pediatrician. “I don’t get it,” she told the doctor. “Sam can’t relax or sit still, and he overreacts to every little thing. Why can’t he just fall asleep like a normal child? Is there something wrong with him?” The pediatrician suggested that Johanna bring Sam in for a screening. He also offered a number of suggestions to help ease the situation. While most parents have dealt with the occasional bedtime battle, there are extreme cases that can leave parents quite literally exhausted. So what can parents do? Here are a few suggestions:

⊲⊲1. Find out if your child is sleeping enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation, preschoolers typically need 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night while school-aged children need 9 to 11 hours. Sleep helps our brains regenerate. It’s as necessary as food and water. Once your child does settle down for the night, how many hours does he or she sleep? If your child is moody or hyperactive or is


July 2016 •

irritable and easily provoked, chances are he isn’t getting enough sleep. Sleep loss can cause a range of problems can affect concentration and impulse control.

⊲⊲2. Track your child’s sleep patterns. Keep a journal for a few weeks. Does your child often wake up in the middle of the night? Do you have trouble getting him out of bed in the morning? Is there a connection between the activities your child does before bed and the quality of his or her sleep? Once you have a better handle on your child’s sleep patterns, you can share this information with your pediatrician so that he or she can screen your child for any possible health conditions.

⊲⊲3. Look at your child’s schedule. Most adults are guilty of trying to cram too many activities into a single day. The same may be true of your kids as they rush home from school just in time to leave for swimming lessons or dance class or soccer practice. Then there’s homework and play dates and who knows what other activities may be on the agenda. Sometimes it’s a little bit much, and all of this rushing can have a negative impact on a child’s ability to settle down at the end of the day.

⊲⊲4. Close the kitchen; turn off the tablet. Don’t let your child eat less than an hour before bedtime. Food activates the brain and sends signals to the digestive system that it needs to get to work. And that isn’t going to help your child sleep. Even more important, eliminate screen time in that last hour, too. Video games, as well as movies and TV shows, stimulate the brain and, consequently, your child.

⊲⊲5. Help your child prepare for bed. Establish a bedtime routine that includes transitions of 10 to 15 minutes each. First, she could take a bath

Don’t let your child eat less than an hour before bedtime. Food activates the brain and sends signals to the digestive system that it needs to get to work.

and brush her teeth. Next, she could change into her pajamas and lay out clothes for the next day. Third, set aside some quiet time for reading books, telling bedtime stories and saying goodnight. Some parents find it helpful to set a timer for each step of the routine and provide encouragement throughout the process to help reinforce positive behaviors.

⊲⊲6. Establish a good sleep environment.

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Most adults sleep better when they’re in a comfortable space, and the same holds true for most children. For some children, a night light can be helpful. The temperature of the room may also be a factor. A special blanket or toy can make a difference. Perhaps a very small glass of water on the night stand may be comforting for your child. Anything you can do to put your child at ease might make the bedtime routine go more smoothly. After following the guidelines suggested by her pediatrician, such as those suggested above, Johanna is making progress with Sam’s bedtime routine. She’s been turning off the electronic gadgets an hour before bedtime. She put a nightlight in his room and now lets him pick out three books to read with her before lights out. By spending a little more time helping Sam prepare for bedtime, Johanna is spending a lot less time on the nightly struggle. Sam seems happier and more relaxed and both he and Johanna are sleeping better as a result.

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if you are a fan of determination, then you are already a fan of Special Olympics. volunteer, support, coach or compete.

© Disney. Reprinted with permission from Disney Online. All Rights Reserved. This article originally appeared on and was published in partnership with The 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

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Sleepless in summer By Sarah Jackson

Summer on the North Coast brings with it that mixed blessing of longer days for parents: Yes, it means more daylight for outdoor fun, but it also means putting the kids to bed well before the sun goes down. Perhaps you can lull your little one to sleep — or at least while away the hours — with one of these new-in-2016 sleep-adventure stories. They’re packed with excitement, and they all conclude with pictures of blissfully sleeping younglings, too.

Playtime? Rock-a-Bye Romp What kind of family puts their kid to bed “in the treetops” anyway? If you’ve ever been perplexed by the classic Rock-a-Bye Baby nursery rhyme/lullaby, then this story of a twilight odyssey is for you. Baby starts out in a tree, but ultimately ends up exactly where Baby belongs. Ages 1–3 $16.99

In this story (a companion to Jack Mack’s LOOK!), a mischievous gorilla plays the part of a toddler — and a toddler plays the role of the parent (wearing footie pajamas, of course). Wide awake and actively resisting bedtime, the gorilla can’t stop playing with his toys … until the boy comes up with a perfectly reasonable solution. Age 3–5 $16.99

A Recipe for Bedtime Parents may love this book even more than their kids with its sweet culinary metaphors and adorable illustrations, featuring animals going through the steps of a classic bedtime routine/recipe, including tickle time: “Add raspberries to tum and feet. Check for giggles. Then repeat.” Ages 0–2 $16.99


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Little Sleepyhead This tender, sweet board book celebrates diversity and the act of winding down after a big day for Baby with a variety of caregivers.

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Get rolling! By Sarah Jackson

Trail mix is out. And energy balls are in! And you can make them easily at home with this highly adaptable recipe, printed with permission from Maggie Brereton’s Smashed Peas and Carrots blog. Too busy? Check out the new local line of mixes, including energy balls that enhance lactation! NO-BAKE ENERGY BITES Makes about 20 bites




1 cup oatmeal ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter) ⅓ cup honey 1 cup coconut flakes ½ cup ground flaxseed ½ cup mini chocolate chips 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl.

This recipe is extremely flexible. If you don’t like coconut or flaxseed, you can substitute crushed cereal, wheat germ or other dry ingredients. If you want to omit the chocolate chips, try substituting raisins, cranberries, goji berries or crushed almonds, cashews or walnuts.


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Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll into balls and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

DIY Energy Ball Mixes Founded by three Minnesota moms — including Lakeville acupuncturist Christine Keller, who specializes in fertility and women’s health — a new business called Eat Super Simple is offering six different dry mixes for no-bake energy balls. The FUEL line is all about energy and includes moringa, mulberry and whey/goji mixes that go for $10.99 per bag. The MILK line, which boosts energy and enhances lactation in already-nursing moms, includes mixes built around flax, goji and moringa for $13.99 per bag. (We tried the flax and moringa mixes and loved them!) To make the balls, you simply empty the mix into a medium-sized bowl and stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/3 cup honey and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You roll the mixture into the balls and chill them for about 20 minutes. Each bag typically makes about 25 balls. The only bad news: A serving size is just two balls — and you’ll want to eat way more than that because they taste like cookies with ingredients such as chocolate chips, coconut, oats, dried fruit and nuts. Buy them at Pacifier boutiques in the Twin Cities, Baby on Grand in St. Paul or at

ANDREWS PARK SPLASH PAD New in 2014, this splash pad features boat motifs (including sprayer masts), rings, water-table-like attractions for early walkers, flower showers, a sunshade and numerous benches and picnic tables, too. Champlin

Photo by Tracy Walsh

r e t a W rld o w P SPLASH O T ’S A E R A E H R OF T








you’re parenting an infant, toddler or non-swimmer, “relaxing by the pool” as a family may not come so easy. Kids need especially focused supervision around water and slippery surfaces. Splash pads, meanwhile, have been popping up all over the Twin Cities in recent years. And while splash pads won’t let you entirely off the safety hook, at least the kids can get wet without the risk of full immersion. And some of the newer ones are equipped with rubberized surfaces, so slipping isn’t always a threat. What a great way to spend a hot, sunny Minnesota afternoon with kids! And, bonus of all bonuses, all of the dozen-plus splash pads we found (with one exception) are FREE!

Tip 1: Bring swim diapers if your child isn’t potty trained. Tip 2: Keep in mind that most of the new splash pads are designed to conserve water when not in use, so you’ll have to activate them — sometimes every five minutes or so — to keep them going. Look for restart buttons hidden in flowers, stop signs and more! It’s all part of the fun. Tip 3: Most splash pads are situated next to playgrounds and/or green spaces, so you can extend your outing if you plan ahead with dry clothes, snacks and sun protection. • July 2016


Warteldr wo Photo by Tracy Walsh

BURNSVILLE LIONS PLAYGROUND New in 2015, this 2,000-square-foot splash pad is at Cliff Fen Park next to a huge playground (new in 2013) with more than 87 play pieces that can accommodate up to 265 kids. This site also offers access the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. Burnsville

CONWAY PARK Similar to the Maple Grove interactive fountain, this splash pad features sprays and splashes that emerge from a concrete plaza, conveniently sited next to a new-in-2013 playground with features geared toward ages 2–5 and 5– 12, plus ample benches and shade trees. St. Paul


CENTRAL PARK IN MAPLE GROVE This popular new park’s interactive fountain encompasses a 2,100-square-foot plaza with 49 jet sprays and 18 arching sprays. LED lights turn the fountain into a light show once the sun goes down. The adjacent playground features a 120-foot-long climbing wall, a 24-foottall climbing tower, a great lawn, trails, a garden with a labyrinth, and a new building with a concession stand, restrooms and a large lounge area. Maple Grove

Cottage Grove shut down its expensive-to-run, 50-year-old public pool in 2011 and, in 2012, replaced it with a new splash pad with numerous overhead and waist-level sprayers. And it’s been a hit! Seating is limited, however, so parents should bring lawn chairs. Nearby, you’ll find open grasslands, paved trails, baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, and picnicking near a pretty pond. Cottage Grove

LEWIS PARK This is another plaza-style splash pad with simple sprays and jets that shoot out of a concrete plaza. Nearby you’ll find newer playground equipment — built in 2008 with soft, synthetic surfacing — including a tot lot for younger kids. St. Paul


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BIELENBERG SPLASH PAD Runoff from this eco-friendly splash pad is used to water the nearby fields of the Bielenberg Sports Center. Bubblers and water buckets spray and splash runs only when activated by a button on a special flower. Every four minutes, kids get to restart the show. There’s a larger platform with dumping buckets, nozzles and flower showers, plus a smaller, separate platform for toddlers. Bonus: Also on site is a brand-new all-inclusive playground for all abilities called Madison’s Place. Read a story about the playground Woodbury Photo by Elandra Mikkelson

MILLER PARK This playful splash pad — with sprayers high and low — blends seamlessly into the Miller Park Barrier-Free Playground, which boasts accessible pathways and surface structures that give children and adults of all mobilities the opportunity to reach all levels of the play structure. Mike and Jenny Garvin came up with the idea for the playground in hopes that their daughter, Ashley, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, could play alongside other children her age. Check out a list of inclusive Twin Cities playgrounds designed for all abilities at Eden Prairie

NICOLLET COMMONS PARK Here you’ll find a grand, meandering waterfall that slow falls over beautiful rocks and clear water, surrounded by various plants and trees — and usually filled with kids splish-splashing in the water. A regular, timed sprinkler display in the heart of the square adds a thrill of anticipation — a joyful place to spend a hot summer day. You’ll find grassy hills near the action for picnicking and relaxation. You’ll also find oodles of summer concerts plus Friday­ night movies at the commons, which includes a 250-seat amphitheater. Burnsville • July 2016


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KELLEY PARK SPLASH PAD Kids can’t resist running through the sequence of huge blue rings that spray and mist here, creating a virtual tunnel of fun. There’s also a gazebo decked out with picnic tables, plus a beautiful, rubber-matted playground. No wood chips here! Apple Valley

Large and dotted with spinning sprayers, this northwest-metro splash pad sits next to a playground (including swing sets), a sunshade, picnic tables and a 40-acre park with baseball fields and disc golf course. Waite Park

This well-known interactive destination is ideal for no-plunge fun, complete with sprayers, sprinklers, tip buckets and more. It’s located in Louisiana Oaks Park of Highway 7, featuring sprawling lawns, beautiful trees and a playground. It’s free for residents and $1 for non-residents. St. Louis Park

Photo courtesy of Kjersti Manty



ROSEMOUNT SPLASH PAD AT CENTRAL PARK New in July 2014, this water spot is perfect for toddlers with its 3,700 square feet of ground nozzles that spray water up out of the splash pad’s rain deck, plus a moving water feature — the Water Journey — that allows smaller children to direct water as it flows through a maze. There’s plenty of seating for parents and a covered shelter with picnic tables, too.

ROUND LAKE PARK Adjacent to a lake, a beach and a playground, this is Eden Prairie’s other splash pad, built in 2013, featuring palm tree sprayers and a soft rubber matting surface for slip-free fun. Eden Prairie

Rosemount Amanda Williams lives in rural Minnesota with her two energetic sons and husband. She is a family travel writer and considers every day an opportunity for a grand adventure — after a good cup (or two) of coffee, of course! Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent. You can reach her at


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TC Farm in Montrose is open to the public for the Eat Local Farm Tour on July 16. Learn more at


July 2016 •

Summer rediscovered Break free from boredom during the dog days with these dramatically different day trips! By Amanda Williams It's hard not to hang on to traditions. Some traditions deserve to stick around — like having as much milk as you can handle at the dairy booth during The Great Minnesota Get Together. Others might need a change of pace. In fact, it’s easy to get into a parenting rut: If something is successful and fun, common sense keeps you going back. But not me. After a few weeks of summer vacation, I start to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, stuck in an endless loop of the same kid-friendly attractions and parks. There comes a time and a need to deviate from the norm to keep things from becoming a grind. Fortunately, we live in the land of 10,000 activities, so we have no excuse for repetition or boredom. Check out these fresh alternatives to your favorite Twin Cities destinations next time you’re feeling up for a decidedly different adventure!

Summer rediscovered


Mill City Museum The Mill City Museum on the Minneapolis riverfront is an icon in the downtown district, with the Gold Medal Flour sign — towering over the beautiful brick ruins of the old mill, calling inquisitive visitors to learn how the city got started. You’ll find a rich historical perspective about grain milling. As neat as it is, especially for a history buff, you’ll want an alternative place to do a little learning and exploring this summer when the appeal of wheat and barley wear off.


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Farm Visits

In an age when we’re placing so much emphasis on where our food comes from and embracing the influence of earlier days, after you’ve had your fill of the Mill, jump on or check out the annual Eat Local Farm Tour on July 16. (See for a free guide.) Yes, channel your inner Laura Ingalls and go to an ACTUAL farm to see things like milk cows or taste hand-turned butter. My kids love to gather eggs, still warm from under the feathered breast of a hen! Try artisan cheeses (gouda!) at Eichten’s Cheese & Bison near Center City (about 40 miles northeast of downtown St. Paul) and literally watch the buffalo roam on nativegrass pastures at a family farm. (Combine your visit with a trip to Franconia Sculpture Park five minutes down the road.) Pick your own strawberries and raspberries in the summer at Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake, followed in the fall by apples and pumpkins. During the Eat Local Farm Tour, see where local eggs and bacon come from — and what sustainable, pasture-based, organic animal farming looks like — at TC Farm in Montrose (pictured above), about 35 miles west of Minneapolis (formerly known as True Cost Farm). We enjoy farms so much that we make a point to visit more than one each year. Pull on your mud boots and get ready for life on the farm! If you want to combine your visit with a picnic dinner, check out lists of local pizza farms at and If you want to go really in depth, browse a list of special behind-the-scenes farm tours available across Minnesota at


Como Zoo We all ADORE St. Paul’s Como Zoo for mid-winter. When it’s blustery outdoors, you can walk around Como and see parents with their piping hot coffees, trying to keep a tentative grasp on their sanity whilst their children play in the polar kids cave or toddle amongst tropical plants under birds and a random three-toed sloth. Let me say it again: We love Como. However, if you’re like me, you’ve watched the Sparky the Sea Lion show enough times to do the tricks yourself — maybe you, too, are ready for a little change of venue.



Short for Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo, this rad destination in Owatonna (about 65 miles south of downtown Minneapolis) features one of the world’s largest reptile and amphibian displays, including snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, toads, frogs and salamanders — more than 150 kinds of animals from all over the world, including Big Al, a 12-foot-long alligator and Bella, a 14-foot-long python. My kids love this interactive destination. We have a son who’s channeling the energy of the late and great Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, I swear. Getting the kids petting pythons and canoodling with crocs — while also learning about the Everglades ecosystem and other interesting beasts and creepy crawlies — means I can enjoy watching them smile and explore, without having to deal with the parking mayhem at the “free zoo.” Exhibits and critters are just as awesome as those at the zoo, but the crowds are virtually non-existent. An afternoon of something a little different is guaranteed here. See


Minnesota History Center History buffs get excited about the traveling exhibits offered at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul — my family included. We’re all for whatever gets the kids thinking about our rich past and the events and people that shaped Minnesota as we know it today. I particularly enjoyed a recent chocolate-focused exhibit myself! Truth be told, I love the many of the 25-plus sites that the Minnesota Historical Society manages across the state. (See for a complete list.) Most are better for the older set, but they always try to have kid-friendly offerings, too. But sometimes …


American Swedish Institute … you need a little fika. The term, which means “daily break” in Swedish is a familiar one at American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis — a sweet respite from the hamster wheel of play dates and library story times. Mixed in with stunning permanent and touring collections of glass, fine art, textiles and other items from Sweden, are many special activities for children, including summer day camps, third Friday play dates known as Kids at the Castle and Svenska Skolan (a Saturday morning language and culture program for ages 4–13), plus season events throughout the year. The museum is also home to a renowned Nordic-themed cafe, FIKA. We have a collection of handicrafts in our home thanks to the hands-on fun for kids here. Your kids will love exploring a real castle — the museum’s home is the 1908 Turnblad Mansion — and parents will enjoy the break from routine museum outings. See • July 2016


Summer rediscovered


Waterpark of America This is a beloved winter getaway, no doubt. It’s fun to take a weekend and thaw your nose and toes in the hot tub or simply float on the lazy river. We love the Wave Rider, which even challenges Dad! And in summer, this Bloomington park offers respite from the heat, too! (And, new this year, there’s even a Dairy Queen on site.) But day visits here don’t come cheap. And sometimes you need to save a buck and mix up your beat-the-heat routine, especially in summer when there are so many outdoor get-wet opportunities!


Splash Pads and Wading Pools

The Twin Cities is home to numerous — FREE! — water-fun destinations. And they’re particularly suited to toddlers, who can end up feeling a bit left out at waterparks, which stringently enforce height restrictions. In Minneapolis alone, you’ll find 60 wading pools, including some with splash-pad-like bells and whistles. The Lake Hiawatha Park Wading Pool, for example, features bubblers of all sorts that make it a next-level destination. The Wabun Picnic Area wading pool at Minnehaha Regional Park boasts an Arch de Triumph-esque arch that sprays water in all directions. North Mississippi Regional Park (pictured above) offers rock formations and waterfalls. Check out our list of top splash pads in this issue — starting on Page 30 — because being out in the open air with the sun shining on your face, during these precious few warm months, is what a Minnesota summer is all about! And with so many options, you won’t have to worry about summer ennui.

Amanda Williams lives on her small hobby farm in Greater Minnesota with her two energetic sons and husband. She is a family travel writer and considers every day an opportunity for a grand adventure — after a good cup (or two) of coffee, of course!


July 2016 •



hortly after my oldest daughter turned 1, a friend reminded me that this particular milestone meant I could now let her eat peanut butter (the recommendation at the time). What a wonderful idea, I thought. And so one day I whipped up a PB&J for her lunch, she ate it and then she settled down for a nap. When she woke up about an hour later, I was alarmed to see huge red hives covering her legs. Although Benadryl cleared up her hives that day, we followed up with the doctor and received a diagnosis that unexpectedly rocked our carefree world: Our toddler was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts — an allergy that had the potential to be deadly! Flash-forward to the present: My daughter is 17 and is, by all accounts, thriving. Still, it took time for our whole family to adjust. And food allergies remain an everyday concern. Unfortunately, parents receive this scary diagnosis every day: The Food Allergy Research and Education organization estimates that 1 of every 13 children in the U.S. now has a food allergy. That’s about two kids in every elementary school classroom. • July 2016


NOW WHAT? More and more people are beginning to understand what it means to keep someone with a food allergy safe: Strict avoidance is currently the only treatment; there is no cure. But many parents and other caregivers are understandably baffled about what it means to be allergic to a common food. What should you do if your child’s pediatrician or allergist delivers this news? And how can you help your child stay safe at home and when you send him or her out into the world?

GET EDUCATED First: Start studying. It can be overwhelming, so begin with the basics. When someone eats — or sometimes even touches or smells — a food he or she is allergic to, the immune system reacts. Reactions can be minor or severe. Dr. Doug McMahon, an allergist at Allergy and Asthma Center of Minnesota who also sees patients at the University of Minnesota, cautions: “There is no way to predict how severe a reaction will be. Having a mild reaction one time does not mean the reaction will not be severe the next time.” A severe reaction is called anaphylaxis and, if not treated promptly, can be fatal. That’s why parents of young children with food allergies always need to carry an auto-injector of epinephrine/adrenaline, such as an EpiPen, a medication that stops or reduces the dangerous effects of an anaphylactic reaction, such as throat swelling or reduced blood pressure. Parents need to know how to use epinephrine — and be prepared to do so. McMahon said: “Know that a reaction is probably

When is peanut butter OK for kids? Most allergists now recommend introducing highly allergenic foods, such as peanut butter, eggs and dairy, to babies early on — often as young as 6 months — rather than delaying those foods. However, if you have a history of food allergies in your family, your doctor/allergist may want to do a food allergy test, such as skin testing, before you feed those foods to your child. Read about the latest peanut butter recommendations at


July 2016 •

going to happen at some point in your life, so be prepared.”


The big 8 While more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies, U.S. law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods, which account for 90 percent of food allergy reactions. The following eight foods (and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them) are designated as major food allergens by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Learn more at

You can, of course, start by avoiding the allergen in your child’s diet. But avoiding a single ingredient might not be enough to keep your child safe. Cross-contamination, which can happen through manufacturing or packaging ⊲⊲Milk processes — or even from ⊲⊲Eggs using utensils or prep areas ⊲⊲Fish that contain trace amounts ⊲⊲Crustacean shellfish of the allergens — can ⊲⊲Tree nuts expose your child to risk. ⊲⊲Peanuts ⊲⊲Wheat Allergens are also often ⊲⊲Soybeans present in foods that parents might not even think about checking: Pretzels, jellybeans and pizza can sometimes contain nuts, for example. Under U.S. law, companies that make processed food must plainly list eight major allergens that pose risk to consumers. (See the sidebar above.) Many also voluntarily include advisory warnings on products that may include an allergen even though it isn’t an actual ingredient, including phrases such as “may contain tree nuts,” “manufactured on equipment that processes products containing peanuts” or “processed in a facility that uses milk.” Parents must thoroughly read all food labels — and use extreme caution when it comes to homemade or restaurant foods that simply don’t come with labels.

SPREAD THE WORD Parents should make sure their child’s caregivers understand food allergies, can recognize signs of a reaction and are trained in using epinephrine. Work with your child’s allergist to develop an action plan. This will spell out how to handle to different reactions, when to call 911 and who else to contact in an emergency.

←←Parents of children with severe food allergies always need to carry an auto-injector of epinephrine, such as an EpiPen.

“Now I wear it as a badge,” she said. “Early on, I didn’t want to upset the apple cart. “The school nurse used to say to us: ‘You are his advocate. Your child deserves to be safe.’”


Give a copy to your child’s caregiver and school — and review it annually McMahon stressed the importance of making sure people understand the difference between a food allergy and an intolerance. Most food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, affect the digestive system only and are generally not life threatening. An allergic reaction is an immune system response that affects the entire body and can lead to severe or even deadly reactions (anaphylaxis). Celiac disease is sometimes mistakenly confused with a wheat allergy. Celiac disease is not an allergy, but rather an autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten damages the small intestine. Gluten, which is present in a variety of grains such as wheat, doesn’t trigger life-threatening reactions the way a severe wheat allergy can. Celiac disease is serious in other ways, however, and can cause intestinal tissue damage and other complications if the condition is not addressed.

INVOLVE THE KIDS Another part of staying safe is educating children who have allergies — and their friends and their families — early and often. Ana Hawkins of Woodbury, whose 3-year-old daughter, Juliana, has food allergies, said: “We try to teach her she has peanut, tree nut and egg allergies. She knows that we don’t share food.” Tara Fellman of Shoreview, whose son, Spencer, has a food allergy, didn’t want to become a “crazy nut parent” when she was first adjusting to the news. But that’s changed.

Along with the rise in food allergies in the U.S. has come more research — and reason to hope. Children often outgrow certain food allergies (especially to milk and eggs) and those who don’t may benefit from new treatment options such as oral immunotherapy/desensitization. Promising studies on a peanut patch, among others, are also under way. Some restaurants now have allergy-accommodating menus. Disney World is known — among allergy families — as a haven for eating out with less worry. Throughout the country, daycare centers and schools — from preschool through college — are responding to what some are calling an allergy epidemic and learning to address the needs of a growing number of young people with food allergies. Changing laws that recognize this “invisible disability” are aiding in this process. Indeed, many children with food allergies qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means they can’t be discriminated against based on their disability/allergy. And some kids have 504 Plans at their schools, which outline how the school will accommodate a child’s specific needs so he or she can fully participate in all aspects of school. Another silver lining: Though food allergies can be overwhelming and sometimes lifelong, they can also result in healthier diets and even, some parents say, greater empathy for others. With my daughter, I’ve learned that kids with food allergies gradually gain the tools and confidence they need to take over for their worried parents. They learn to become their own advocates, develop their own strategies for staying safe and then go about living their lives. Cathy Broberg is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Lino Lakes with her husband and two teenage daughters. She blogs about food allergies at • July 2016


Out & About



Annie Jr. ⊲⊲Join Annie on a fun-filled, all-ages adventure as she finds a new home with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his secretary, Grace, and a loveable mutt named Sandy. It may be a Hard Knock Life but Annie will never stop believing in Tomorrow. When: June 24–July 31 / Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins Cost: $12–$16 / Info: Photo by Amy Rondeau Photography


Jungle Book

Music & Movies in the Parks

⊲⊲This new adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling story offers messages of sharing, community, trust and responsibility through the tale of a young boy lost in the jungles of India. Recommended for ages 5 and older.

⊲⊲St. Paul and Minneapolis offer familyfriendly outdoor summer concert and film series at local parks. (Many other cities offer similar events, so be sure to check with your local parks department.) When: Ongoing Where: Minneapolis and St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: and


July 2016 •

When: Through Aug. 12 Where: Old Log Theatre, Excelsior Cost: $10–$16 Info:

Savage Gardens & Big Bugs ⊲⊲This new exhibit — Savage Gardens: The Real and Imaginary World of Carnivorous Plants — features live plant specimens, giant sculptures and interactive displays for kids that show how different carnivorous plants lure their prey. Highlights include a 9-foottall Venus flytrap with controls that allow visitors to open and close the its traps. An insect-themed exhibit — David Rogers’ Big Bugs — will be open at the same time, featuring a 1,200-pound

praying mantis, a 7-foot-high bee with a hive and a butterfly with a 5½-foot wingspan, all created by a Long Island artist who specializes in natural materials. When: Through Sept. 18 for Savage Gardens, through September for Big Bugs Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska Cost: Included with gate admission ($12 for ages 13 and older) Info:

Crayola Experience ⊲⊲This new Mall of America family destination — the third of its kind in the U.S. — brings the magic of Crayola to life.


Red, White and Boom ⊲⊲Celebrate Independence Day on the downtown Minneapolis riverfront with a 5K, half marathon and relay races, plus a movie, live music, food, familyfriendly activities and a grand finale of fireworks. When: July 4 with families activities from 6–10 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m. Where: Downtown and Northeast Minneapolis Cost: FREE. Race registration fees apply. Info:

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily Where: Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: $24.99. Look online for discounts. Info:

JULY 2–3

Hmong International Freedom Celebration ⊲⊲Thousands of spectators come to see tournaments, including soccer, volleyball, flag football and the Southeast Asian sport of kick-volleyball, known as sepak takraw. When: July 2–3 Where: McMurray Field in Como Regional Park, St. Paul Cost: $5 Info:


Gibbs Farm Ice Cream Sundays ⊲⊲Enjoy ice cream made the oldfashioned way, meet farm animals and take farm tours. Hands-on programming is offered in spring, summer and fall by the Ramsey County Historical Society. When: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. July 3 and Aug. 14 Where: St. Paul Cost: Free ice cream is included with farm admission of $8 for adults and $5 for ages 3–16. Info:


Groovin’ in the Garden ⊲⊲This concert series lets grownups rock out with some of the Twin Cities’ best bands while the kids are entertained by a climbing wall, a bouncy house and lawn games, all outdoors, all free. When: Remaining dates are June 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27 and Aug. 3. Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

JULY 7–10

Hamel Rodeo & Bull Ridin’ Bonanza ⊲⊲Watch professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls compete in this 36thannual event.

When: July 7–10 with a special family matinee at 1 p.m. July 9 Where: Corcoran Lions Park, west of Maple Grove Cost: Matinee tickets are $9. Info: • July 2016

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Out & About JULY 9–10

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, vendors and a performance stage showcasing the arts of Asia with colorful costumes, traditional dances and live music. When: July 9–10 Where: Lake Phalen Park, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

JULY 12–16

Rondo Days ⊲⊲This 33nd-annual event celebrates the best and brightest of Minnesota’s African-American stories, achievements and culture with live music, a senior dinner, a dance crew competition, a drum and drill team competition, a 5K walk/run, a grand parade, a family-friendly festival on July 16 and more. When: July 12–16 Where: Venues throughout St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:


The Willis Clan ⊲⊲This 14-person musical family — named the Today show’s Sound of Music Family in 2013 — presents and allages show of meaningful songs, striking harmonies, driving rhythms and soaring anthems as part of the Music in the Zoo summer concert series. When: 7:30 p.m. July 15 Where: Weesner Family Amphitheater, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley Cost: $38, plus fees Info:


July 2016 •

Photo by Dan Norman

JULY 15–AUG. 14

Pinocchio ⊲⊲Geared toward grades kindergarten and older, this new spin on the classic tale requires only four actors, a stage full of construction materials and a splash of imagination. Pinocchio dreams of being a real boy, but will the all-too-tempting delights of puppet shows and Playland be too much? When: July 15–Aug. 14 Where: Children Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $10. Info:


Eat Local Farm Tour ⊲⊲Tour more than 30 farms in and outside of the Twin Cities, offering educational activities, tours, live music, products for sale, samples and demonstrations. When: 10 a.m.–4 p.m. July 16 Where: Four farms, including an indoor culinary mushroom farm, are in the urban core, while the others are a bit further afield, including a butter creamery in Hope, an organic veggie farm in Stillwater, a goat farm in Scandia

and many others within an hour’s drive of the Twin Cities. Cost: FREE Info: coop

JULY 15–17

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 15–17 Where: Highland Park neighborhood, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:


Okee Dokee Brothers ⊲⊲Grammy-award winning artists and longtime friends Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing perform their familyfriendly music with a goal of inspiring children and their parents to get outside and experience nature. When: 4 p.m. with kids activities starting at 3 p.m. July 17 Where: Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis Cost: $10 plus fees Info:

JULY 20–23

Minneapolis Aquatennial ⊲⊲Entering its 77th year, this multi-day festival — the official civic celebration of the City of Minneapolis — features a wide variety of events, including a torchlight parade on July 20 and fireworks on July 23.

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Supporting organizations that provide all aspects of support, resources, opportunities and outreach programs to children and families.

When: July 20–23 Where: Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info:


95% of all proceeds go to charities we support

Laurie Berkner ⊲⊲Check out the hugely popular, familyfriendly Laurie Berkner Band, with music geared toward ages 10 and younger as part of the Music in the Zoo summer concert series. When: 7 p.m. July 31 Where: Weesner Family Amphitheater, Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley

Join us at our annual events:

Vintage Vegas Casino Night – February Golf Event – August We are proud to support Children’s Cancer Research Fund®

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10/24/13 11:45 AM • July 2016



Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion

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Celebrating Over 40 Musical Years in Minnesota!

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FAMILY FUN that puts the MOVE in MUSIC!!

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Beat the heat!

↑↑Addie Wood, 4, of Blaine frolics at a splash pad at Disney World. ↑↑Ella Sixkiller, 2½, of Minneapolis plays in Lake Nokomis. ←←Anthony Dyakin, 9, of Lakeville cools off at Kelley Park in Apple Valley.

↑↑Alice and Louisa Verbrugge, ages 7 and 4½, brave the oh-so-cold waters of Lake Bemidji. ←←Eighteenmonth-old twins Penny (left, in pink) and Olivia Luker (right, in purple) of Edina explore the beach in Singer Island, Fla.

↑↑Brody Anderson, 3, splish splashes in his front yard in New Brighton. Want to see your kid on this page? Send photos with your child’s first/last name, age and city to


July 2016 •

July 2016  
July 2016