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PARTY RESOURCES PAGE 56 August 2017

YOUR AMAZING PRE-K KID ‘I’M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL’ 26

SENIOR YEAR IS REALLY HERE 20

32

HELP: MY SON IS NEEDLE PHOBIC! 24

WHAT TYPE OF SCHOOL IS BEST? 16

BACK TO SCHOOL Vihaan, 5, Maple Grove


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VOLUME 32

ISSUE 8

32

Super stars You need these tips from local preschool teachers for engaging – and expanding – your child’s special strengths.

42

Classic packs These timeless, ergonomic choices will remain steadfast even after your child’s tastes change.

About our cover kid Name: Vihaan

Age: 5

City: Maple Grove

Parents: Malaya Maithani and Khushboo Chokhani Siblings: Yuvaan Maithani, 23 months

44

Incentives? Tweaking your parenting style might help you avoid some of your child’s challenging behaviors.

Personality: Polite, social, creative Favorite toy: LEGOs and cars Favorite book: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Favorite activities: Biking, reading, and arts and crafts Favorite foods: Pasta and pizza Photos by K’s Imaginarium Photography / kimaginarium.com

Want to see your kid on the cover? Find out how at mnparent.com/coverkid.

6

August 2017 • mnparent.com

50

Fairy party A mom shares her tips for a fairy tale-themed birthday bash.


10 FROM THE EDITOR

24 ASK THE PEDIATRICIAN

Expect good behavior instead of gifting your way through challenging moments.

Lower SIDS risk by co-rooming, not co-sleeping.

Side by side

Rewards vs. bribes 12 CHATTER

Shop at home

26 ON BEHAVIOR

School avoidance

A new locally based children’s clothing service makes buying tween/teen girls’ clothes easier.

What to do when it’s more than just a sick day or two.

14 BUMP, BIRTH & BABY

What’s a bleb? How to spot and overcome breastfeeding-related issues. 16 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Choosing a preschool Kid not potty trained yet? Don’t panic. Ask questions and weigh your options. 18 SCHOOL DAYS

28 BOOKSHELF

Anticipation and hope

Animal attraction

A teacher shares her mental preparations for the coming school year.

Dive into five cool animal stories your kids will love.

20 TEENS AND TWEENS

Grand finale

30 IN THE KITCHEN

For our son, the shift to adulthood began during junior year. Senior year is a new beginning. 22 #ADULTING

Writing as work Make writing time a priority in your busy life. Hint: Don’t wait until the kids go to bed.

Tasty tots

Zucchini is the star in these oven-baked morsels. 66 FROM OUR READERS

Summer fun!

Check out your local kids — basking in the sun.

56 PARTY RESOURCES & About 60 Out Calendar 8

August 2017 • mnparent.com

Gleasons Gymnastics MNP 0717 V3.indd 1

6/16/17 2:18 PM


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. Gigi Chawla, Jamie Crowson Megan Devine, Maura Dunst, Rachel Guyah Kate Hopper, Dr. Shalene Kennedy Shannon Keough, Laura Ramsborg Christina Ries, Kaitlin Ungs, Jen Wittes Jennifer Wizbowski CREATIVE DIRECTOR Valerie Moe vmoe@mnparent.com GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Dani Cunningham Kaitlin Ungs 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.

Bribery for behavior O

ne morning, when I asked my kid to get himself dressed for school, he immediately asked if he would receive an early birthday present in exchange for this great service. I said no, of course, thinking: Wait, what? After thinking for a second, he retorted sincerely: “But I’m not motivated. How am I supposed to get motivated?” Oh, dear. Do you think I had fallen maybe a bit too far down the slippery slope of bribes and rewards? And then, wouldn’t you know it, I ended up editing a story for this very issue about the dangers of Photo by Tracy Walsh / tracywalshphoto.com constantly rewarding kids for desired behavior (versus just expecting it) or — worse — bribing children to prevent negative behaviors. My problem is it always feels like a grey area when I’m in the heat of the moment. I just want to get through parenting challenges — quickly and at all costs. But that’s not a good mentality, said Betsy Cadel, who was quoted in the article: “A surprise trip to the gift shop for good behavior before you leave a museum is a reward. An unplanned stop at the gift shop to put an end to moping or whining is a bribe.” As we move into back-to-school season — and we’re faced with even more pressure to get out the door on time (with or without bribes) — I think it’s important to remember it’s OK to expect more of our kids (perhaps in my case way more). We do some things just because we do them. And they are mundane. And that’s life, kiddo. Dr. Carol Carlson, a pediatrician, mother of four and medical director at Southdale Pediatrics in Edina says parents should be wary of creating a give-me-this-for-that culture. “Bribery doesn’t change the original behavior,” she said. “It just fosters how to get more out of their parents. And they continue to not cooperate.”   And we don’t want that now, do we? These lessons are much easier to learn, it would seem, among preschool teachers, who have an uncanny way of bringing out the best in our kids in a group setting. I mean how do they get so many kids to listen and behave all at once? In this issue, thanks to a new book by two teachers (called Your Amazing Preschooler), we have the tricks for getting “the same capable, confident and cooperative child at home that teachers have at school.” Check out their cool tips. I hope you find, like I did, some really great ideas to help take your amazing kid successfully back to school!

Sarah Jackson, Editor

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August 2017 • mnparent.com


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CHATTER

Threads for teens and tweens Each box includes an assortment of five to

Try-on-at-home clothing services seem to be

six items with prices ranging from $18 to

taking over the world.

$60, including brands such as bebe girls,

Adults have Stitch Fix and Prime Wardrobe

Tractr and Vintage Havana.

(and many others). Kids have Runchkins,

Customers have five days to keep what

Kidbox and Rockets of Awesome (truly

they love and send back what they don’t.

awesome, in our experience), to name a few.

Shipping and returns are free.

And now a local mama of three girls —

“One big difference in Prink’s concept is

professional stylist Wendy Witherspoon of Edina — is getting in on the game with a

that we are not a subscription service. You

specialty service for tween/teen girls called

can order a Prink box as often as you want. No

Prink Style.

commitment, no requirements, no hassle,” Witherspoon said.

Parents and their girls (ages 7 to 15) fill out

Learn more at prinkstyle.com.

an online questionnaire, and Witherspoon and her team select outfits and ship them to

←←Prink Style founder Wendy Witherspoon of Edina poses with her daughters in Prink clothing.

the families.

A heat treatment for lice Ew, ew, eeeeeeew.  If your kid doesn’t have lice, you don’t have to think about it. But having a bit of knowledge — if the little black sesameseed-sized bugs do creep into your life — isn’t a bad idea. In honor of back-to-school season, here’s the latest on head lice treatments for that fateful day when the teacher sends home an email about lice in the classroom: Children ages 3 to 11 who are in preschool and elementary school are most likely to get lice, which crawl from head to head (they can’t fly) and lay little brown strawberryseed-sized nits on hair shafts near the scalp. Word on the street these days is that you

↑↑The latest method for killing lice involves a hairdryer-like device called AirAlle.

can’t use over-the-counter products to fully kill lice anymore because the bugs have

As a result, many Twin Cities families are

offering professional lice-removal treatments. Removal techniques vary, but most involve

become resistant to pesticides. (The CDC

taking their kids to a host of bustling, cutely

and NIH haven’t wholeheartedly endorsed

named lice centers — the Minnesota Lice

some type of thorough combing out

this view yet.)

Lady, Nitpickerz, Simply Nitty and others —

with special lice/nit-removal combs.

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August 2017 • mnparent.com


↑ Rachel Knutson and Lisa Rudquist, founders of LadiBugs Hair Care.

As with any industry, however, lice removal technology is evolving. LadiBugs Hair Care of Hopkins is now offering a treatment that involves a hairdryerlike device called AirAlle (formerly called the LouseBuster). LadiBugs founders Rachel Knutson and Lisa Rudquist — both mothers and both registered nurses — say the medical-grade device delivers heated air to dehydrate and eliminate nits and bugs at a rate of 99.2 percent. On average, the AirAlle treatment takes about 30 minutes, followed by a 30-minute traditional comb out. It costs a flat fee of $229. Yes, that’s more than the price of the average comb-out treatment. But for kids with long hair or a lot of hair, heated air can be a real time (and budget) saver. That price also includes a free recheck, a lice comb to take home, specialty hair products and access to a lice hot line, definitely something to consider in your quest for a lice-free kid. Knutson and Rudquist founded LadiBugs after both of their daughters acquired head lice through a school outbreak. They also offer their own DIY lice-removal products, which are sold around the country. Learn more about LadiBugs and AirAlle at ladibugsinc.com.


Jen Wittes

BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY

Bleb and beyond B

efore we get into all the fun things that can happen to your boobs while breastfeeding, I want to make something clear: I support all feeding choices. Next month, I plan to focus on bottle-feeding. It is my belief, having worked with many different families during their postpartum period, that some moms love breastfeeding and some don’t. Many fall in between. If you really hate it, don’t do it. That’s not good for you or your baby. And that decision doesn’t make you imperfect. It makes you sane and wise and intuitive. Only you know what’s right for your family. If you’re breastfeeding (or even if you’re not planning to, but are waiting for your milk to dry up), there are lumps and bumps and even something called a bleb to look forward to. Here’s a mini-reference guide to a few of the things you should watch out for — and ameliorate — sooner rather than later.

Bleb The aforementioned bleb is also known as a milk blister. It’s a clogged nipple pore (not to be confused with a clogged milk duct) which has sealed over with a thin layer of skin. It can appear white, yellow or clear and may be raised. It might be painful. To treat: Epsom salt baths and a warm compress can help soften and expand the skin, thus opening the pore. Nursing on

the bleb side first while Baby is alert and vigorous will help. If it’s still plugged, try rubbing it (after warming) with a rough washcloth, scraping it open with a clean finger nail or lancing it with a sterile needle. Bleb is common and nothing to worry about; though if left untreated, a milk blister can lead to further complications such as a clogged milk duct, mastitis or thrush.

Thrush Speak of the devil! This is a yeast infection passed back and forth between your breast and Baby’s mouth. It can make nursing uncomfortable for both of you. Try to prevent thrush by allowing your nipples to air dry after nursing sessions and by generally keeping the area clean. To treat: Mild thrush can sometimes be relieved with breastmilk itself, rubbed on the affected area. You might need something stronger — either a prescription antifungal or a natural alternative such as vinegar, plain yogurt, probiotic powder or virgin coconut oil. Mom should avoid eating sugars and starches while afflicted, as they both contribute to yeast growth.

Clogged milk duct Pregnancy and breastfeeding both change our breasts in many ways. A clogged milk duct will often present as a significantly

BABY STUFF

hardened area of the breast. You can usually feel the milk trying to struggle through it as Baby nurses. Treatment is important so as to avoid mastitis. To treat: Warm compress like crazy. Hand-express milk from the very top of the breast (up by your arm pit) down. Feed Baby often and in different positions. I often recommend laying Baby on his back while Mom leans over him and nurses at every angle, moving her own body “around the clock” a little bit each time. Eventually, you’ll find that one spot that enables your little nursling to free the plug.

Mastitis This is something you REALLY don’t want. Take care of all of these other little issues and your overall health to avoid this breast infection. You’ll know you have it when

New mattress

The SafeSleep Breathe-Through Crib Mattress — invented by three professionals who all lost a loved one to SIDS — creates a bed of air layered between the mattress and a crib base, which allows baby to breathe even if in a face-down position. It also discourages overheating, thanks to increased airflow. $299–$399 • securebeginnings.com

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August 2017 • mnparent.com


Breastfeeding? Here’s a minireference guide to a few of the things you should watch out for — and ameliorate — sooner rather than later. flu-like symptoms (fever and feeling like you were hit by a truck) come on suddenly and a hot, red, firm area is present on the breast. To treat: If caught super early, mastitis can be cured with a warm compress, rest, hand expression, frequent nursing and pumping. It isn’t dangerous to nurse Baby with this infection. It’s actually important to do so! While trying to relieve the infection, make an appointment with the doctor, just in case. He or she can prescribe an antibiotic if the infection isn’t cleared within 24 hours. The second mastitis leaves your body, you’ll feel immediate relief. It’s often said that mastitis is our cue to take it easy, slow down, nap and be with Baby. Don’t worry: There are many happy conditions associated with breastfeeding as well! Intimacy with baby, the superpower that is making FOOD, that oxytocin rush (love hormones!) and a little extra calorie burn. Ward off the pitfalls with knowledge and self-care, so that you may enjoy the benefits!

Keep your child safe.

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.

To learn more, visit UpandAway.org In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Up and Away MNP 2012 Filler H6.indd 1

3/27/12 4:52 PM

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Jen Wittes is a certified postpartum doula and writer who now works in marketing and communications. She lives in St. Paul with her two kids, her two cats and her husband. Send questions or comments to jwittes@mnparent.com. mnparent.com • August 2017

15


Shannon Keough

THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Let’s talk about preschool I

n preparation for writing this month’s column, I spent considerable time skimming articles online about the benefits of preschool. And the prevailing wisdom seems to be that preschool probably has the biggest positive impact on kids who don’t have the advantage of super-engaged parents. Preschool for those kids is crucial. But for kids with more “stimulating” homes during early childhood — filled with books, puzzles, positive reinforcement — preschool is less of a factor in their overall schooling success. Of course, one of the great paradoxes about this wacky American life is that those who (allegedly) need preschool “the least” are the ones who have the most access (and by access I mean money). So let’s talk about preschool — the options, the schedules, and of course, the bathroom dramas.

The ‘style’ When I went to preschool (then referred to as “nursery school”) I’m pretty sure the prevalent “style” was “let’s give this kid’s stay-at-home mother a break.”

I vaguely recall horsing around in a play room, eating snacks (including a disgusting mini-cheeseburger that haunts me to this day) and learning letters and numbers in a group setting. These days you may be presented with options such as Montessori, Waldorf and “play-based.” For me, when it comes down to it, I just want my kids to go outside sometimes, get some exercise, have some “free play” with other kids and have caretakers who are kind and fun. My advice: Tour the places that interest you and see what feels right.

The schedules Perhaps your child has been attending a daycare that operates on a straightforward schedule —Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — for example. If so, you may be in for a surprise. Most preschools have very complex schedules, including half days (mornings or afternoons), full days and full days plus before and/or after school care. Some schools are strictly half-day operations, which presupposes the existence of a stay-at-home parent. Some require that you send a lunch. For working parents, this can all add up

TODDLER STUFF

Lunch box

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August 2017 • mnparent.com


Does your child really need to be fully toilet trained before the first day of class? to a lot of money and extra effort. Always read the fine print.

‘Must be toilet trained’ There is probably no phrase that inspires as much parental anxiety as this ­­— except, perhaps, “Before and after ‘school’ care will be an extra $50 a day”. It is these strict potty-training requirements that drive some parents to stay at home for days on end prior to the first day of preschool, following their pants-less child around the house, wheedling him to give the old toilet a try. I would urge you to hold off on such extreme interventions and take a step back. Talk to the director of the school: Does your child really need to be fully toilet trained before the first day of class? If the answer is an emphatic yes, take a look at the price tag and give this decision a second thought. Talk to your pediatrician — is it really appropriate to force the toilet training issue to meet a preschool requirement? Remember, you’re the parent — not the director of the preschool. In my case, our preschool was flexible about the issue. Our daughter was “promoted” from the toddler room to the “preschool” room before she was fully out of diapers, and no one was worse for the wear. In fact, many children will “catch on” to the whole bathroom thing when they see their peers doing it. Of course, you might be one of those #blessed parents with one of those kids who was potty trained before she could walk. If that’s the case, hats off to you! But I don’t want to hear a word about it. Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com. MacPhail Center for Music MNP 0817 2-3page.indd 1

6/30/17 8:44 AM

mnparent.com • August 2017

17


The promise of a new year T

he start of the school year is creeping up on the calendar. As a teacher mama, the flip of the calendar to August always brings forward a plethora of mixed feelings. August is truly a month to enjoy summer in Minnesota, so I try to spend most of the month on or near a lake. Indeed, I savor the last month of my summer break. But I also feel a calling back to my profession as an educator. My reality is that, during the month of August, I spend portions of each day, in either my thoughts or actions, preparing for the school year ahead. September will mark the beginning of my 17th year of teaching, and I continue to approach each new beginning with anticipation and hope. One of the very first things I like to do when I approach the start of a new school year is to reflect upon my professional mission statement: In partnership with home and community, I will work to educate my students in an environment of safety, respect and trust in an effort to inspire a love of learning and mastery of foundational kindergarten skills by planning and implementing purposeful, intentional and developmentally appropriate learning experiences while working to meet the needs of each individual learner. I wrote this statement to guide my instructional practices, and to help me to stay grounded in my beliefs and values about best practices in the education of young children. At the beginning of the school year, I share this with all of the parents of my students, so that they can both be partners and also hold me accountable.

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August 2017 • mnparent.com

I also display it in a prominent area on the wall near my desk as a visual daily reminder. One of my biggest goals and challenges as an educator is to put these ideals into action each day. Here’s some insight from my perspective, as just one of the many educators getting ready to welcome new students into classrooms this month:

Safety, respect and trust I will work to create a safe and comfortable classroom for my learners by intentionally organizing our classroom environment. I will be a guide as my students explore and learn about their classroom and school, teaching routines and modeling appropriate use of supplies, materials and facilities. I will develop rules and logical consequences with my students in an effort to maintain a safe and respectful learning environment and also to hold children accountable for their actions. I will work to create a joyful learning

environment by facilitating classroom community-building activities to create an authentic sense of belonging, significance and fun.

Inspiring a love of learning I will work to create and facilitate intentional, hands-on, developmentally appropriate learning experiences and activities for my kindergarten students. I will take keen observations of the learning of my students and will use these formative assessments to guide my instruction. I will make use of extra support to create smaller learning groups (support staff, student teachers and parent/ community volunteers) so that I can teach to small groups in an effort to reach my students more at an individual level, helping them grow and learn at their different stages of readiness. I will work to make learning active, fun and appropriately challenging, sharing my own interests and experiences while


BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIPS Here are my recommendations regarding how you can be a partner in your kids’ education to help them thrive during the first few weeks of school: ⊲⊲Send your child to school fed and well-rested. Arrive on time with school supplies, such as a backpack, a folder and a healthy snack. ⊲⊲Check your child’s backpack and folders after school to stay connected to his or her learning progress. Read through school newsletters, note important dates and stay informed about your child’s learning activities. ⊲⊲Read to your child and listen to your child read. ⊲⊲Keep lines of communication open from home to school, so you can stay on top of issues or changes, logistical or emotional.

tapping into the interests, experiences and strengths of my students. We will both learn and play. I am ready for this challenge. Are you? Always remember, you are your child’s most important teacher, and with a positive home-to-school partnership, we can make the biggest difference. Cheers to the start of a new school year! Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.

RESOURCE FOR TEACHERS Many of my classroom strategies are inspired by the Responsive Classroom. This evidence-based approach to elementaryand middle-school teaching focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning. Learn more at responsiveclassroom.org. mnparent.com • August 2017

19


Senior Year: The Beginning J

unior year for my first born is finally done. Honestly, I think they should’ve given us parents a ceremony, something with certificates of completion and small speeches. I realize that, in generations past, a boy of 16 would practically be an adult. Sixteen-year-olds of yore had to prove their manhood/womanhood in dramatic ways. They might’ve gone to war, wrestled a wolf, been married or even run a farm. I cannot fathom my son doing any of those things.

Transition Junior year for American high school teens today, however, presents its own sort of challenges leading up to adulthood. I think, in our day, it comes primarily in the form of social pressures. Can you imagine your every move being recorded and evaluated by your peers? How would you respond? Would you live your life more guarded, poised for the next picture or “like?” The pressure is also tied to their choices — athletics, extracurricular and academics. There’s a felt urgency to make class

choices that result in positioning themselves to be competitive; then they’re tested for those choices with IB or AP — plus ACT and/or — SAT exams. For many, junior year means driving. A junior might be responsible for his or her first vehicle, borrowed or gifted. This translates into being responsible for managing time and getting places. And for some, this time of life may bring about a first dating relationship.

Trilogy I titled this article The Beginning, because like a good trilogy, our son’s high school experience is running a somewhat predictable process to what we hope results in the positive end. Freshman and sophomore year arrive as a bright, hopeful start (Book 1); junior year would be what Book 2 always is, a little dark and tiresome; and now we have Book 3, senior year — the finale. The beginning of Book 3 causes us to look back at the hardship of our situation, when it feels like the odds were stacked against us; but — through the tiredness — we’ve come to see that light at the end

Freshman and sophomore year arrive as a bright, hopeful start (Book 1); junior year would be what Book 2 always is, a little dark and tiresome; and now we have Book 3, senior year — the finale. of the tunnel, finally. Junior year officially ended for my son when I received a text from him at 10:23 a.m. last June that read: “Junior year is done.” He had completed his last final. It wore him out — the work of that entire year. It overwhelmed him at times. Heck, it overwhelmed us as his parents. I think if you were to ask him, in that moment, he would have said he intended to let the dust fall off his sandals and walk away, never looking back. During the week that followed, he slept and did a lot of nothing. I let him be a full-on teenager and didn’t ask much of him beyond feeding the dogs. He spent lots of time with his guitar or napping, moving from his bed to the couch, back to bed, and back to the couch again — with a trip to the refrigerator now and then.

Truth After a few days of that, he checked his grades and the outcome of his finals in the grading system. Some things went well, others were disappointing. After getting


TEEN STUFF

Book for parents

“Practical solutions grounded in neuroscience” are at the heart of this revered book by Colleen O’Grady, a licensed marriage and family therapist with more than 25 years’ experience and a mother to a onceteenage daughter of her own. Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter explores the teen brain, the challenges of transitioning to adulthood and steps parents can take to build bonds instead of battles. $16.95 • amazon.com

upset about them, he was ready to process with us about his year. He communicated about what he could’ve done better. Other choices he could’ve made. How he could have worked with a consistent pace instead of all go or stop. He was in a place of honesty with himself, and he let his dad and I talk to him about really knowing his strengths and weaknesses. We talked to him about understanding both sides, that we all have them. And no one is perfect. Normally, with the start of a new school year coming, I might encourage my kids to look ahead at their year, give them a special verse or saying to stand on. But this year, on his own, my now High School Senior is beginning to do this himself. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the most reassuring part of that is, he can, too.

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Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and daughter and son, ages 14 and 16. Send comments, questions and story ideas to jwizbowski@mnparent.com. mnparent.com • August 2017

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Kate Hopper

#ADULTING

The value of non-paid work A

frequent lament of my Motherhood & Words students is the challenge of carving out time to write. There’s the tower of laundry on the sofa in the living room, the dinner that needs to be made, the sick child home from school, the co-worker calling to find out why you haven’t emailed the report that was due two minutes ago. With all of the work/home/family responsibilities spread before you, how could you take an hour (or even 20 minutes) to sit down in front of the computer and write? In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s wonderful essay 5 A.M.: Writing as Ritual, Ortiz Cofer describes how she began her habit of writing for two hours every morning. She had the urge to write, but couldn’t find the time until she began getting up before her family was awake. “If I waited until I had the time, I would still be waiting to write my novel,” she wrote. Ortiz Cofer goes on to say that the “initial sense of urgency to create can easily be dissipated because it entails making the one choice that many people, especially women, in our society (with its emphasis on the ‘acceptable’ priorities) feel selfish about making — taking the time to create, stealing it from yourself if that’s the only way.” Sadly, the jobs for which people earn the most respect are usually those that earn the most money. The work that has been historically women’s work — keeping a home, raising children, feeding a family — is still often not valued as “real” work. Similarly, writing is often unpaid, which sometimes makes it seem less valuable, less important. But if you don’t value your writing or

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writing time, it’s easy to allow that precious time to be the first thing to go when your life becomes too busy. (And when aren’t you too busy?) If you want to make writing a priority in your life, you may need to change how you think about it.

Writing as work If you’re committed to writing and want to make sure it doesn’t become “the thing you want to do but never do,” you need to ensure that you (and your family members) value both your writing and the time you spend writing. One way to do this is to start thinking about your writing as work. If you were starting a career in business administration, it wouldn’t be unusual to have one or two (or more) internships before you landed your first “real” job. These months, though often unpaid, are invaluable, helping you learn the ropes of the business world. The same goes for your writing. You need time and space — and many months — to make headway with your writing, to learn the craft of your trade. If you’re not making money from your writing yet, think of it as a long-term unpaid internship. Once you reframe your writing as work

— whether you’re working on a paid freelance article or a short story that’s unlikely to ever make you a cent — you’ll be more likely to treat it as work. Set a schedule that’s realistic, and on those days, show up for work and log in your hours. This may be only once a week or even once every two weeks. (Don’t set yourself up for failure by planning to write every day if that’s not feasible.)

Stick to your schedule With the best intentions, sometimes things (a sick child, a dying dog) land in our laps and make writing for a week or two impossible. Have faith that you will eventually get back to your work. Make sure you’re really valuing your writing time and not letting other tasks and responsibilities infringe upon it. You wouldn’t skip a meeting or church or your grandmother’s 100th birthday party because your sofa was covered with laundry and the kitchen floor was filthy, would you? Probably not. So don’t skip your writing time because of those things either. Because I work at home, I’ve developed a high tolerance for household mess. As soon as I get my daughters onto the bus, I head home and go straight to my office and


If you want to make writing a priority in your life, you may need to change how you think about it.

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open my laptop. I don’t stop on the way to www.LoveThisSchool.org | (507) 248- 3101 unload the dishwasher or clean the clutter from the dining room table. Edvisions Off Campus MNP 0817 12.indd 1 7/6/17 If you have time at home when there are no children underfoot, don’t spend it with APPLE ORCHARD housework. Go directly to your computer. Folding laundry and making dinner are activities that can be done with the help of little hands. But crafting a sentence is much more difficult with someone tugging on your pant leg.

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Communicate your mission Unless you have the support of your family, the obstacles between you and finishing that essay might become insurmountable. If you have a partner, talk to him or her about what writing means in your life and work out a schedule. If you’re home with kids during the day, maybe Saturday mornings become your writing time. Or maybe your partner takes the kids to the park and gets them ready for bed one evening a week, so you can head to the library to write. Writing is hard work, but when you’ve decided it’s part of who you are, you have to find a way to fit it into your life. Doing this begins when you give it the value and time in your life that it deserves. Kate Hopper is the author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers and Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood. Her latest book is Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism (co-authored with Robyn Schneider). Learn more at katehopper.com and motherhoodandwords.com. A version of this piece originally appeared in Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing.

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mnparent.com • August 2017

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Dr. Gigi Chawla

No sleep for a year? The AAP now says parents and infants should sleep in the same room through age 1. But I can’t sleep because I wake up with every false cry my baby makes! Can I break this rule? In October 2016, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) officially recommended that in order to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in their parents’ bedroom for at least the first six months and optimally for a full year. Sleeping in the same room as your baby can be lifesaving; it reduces the risk of SIDS by 50 percent by allowing parents to be aware of and quickly respond to every environmental nuance. No baby monitor

My young toddler is needle phobic. Help! Vaccines are incredibly important for all children. They prevent life-threatening or debilitating infections; decrease illness and comorbid conditions; and challenge our immune systems to weather disease exposure throughout life, regardless of where we might travel. Most vaccines do require an injection, however. Many children and grownups are concerned about the pain of the injection with vaccines or are even needle phobic. Unfortunately, some let this fear get in the way of receiving these precious vaccines.

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will ever equal being in the same room as your baby — experiencing first-hand the sounds, temperature, air quality and other influential elements of your baby’s sleeping environment. It’s very important that your baby should have his or her own separate sleeping location in your room. The AAP recommends that babies should sleep on their backs — on a tightly fitted sheet — in a crib or bassinet. Your baby’s sleeping space should be bare. Blankets, pillows and toys that seem comfy can pose a serious risk of suffocation and strangulation to babies. But perhaps the most significant reason for babies to have a separate sleeping space in their parents’ room is the danger of the parents’ bed. The parents’ bed and parents themselves can be a source of inadvertent suffocation for babies. Large pillows, heavy blankets, gaps between the mattress and a

Lidocaine 4% — an over-the-counter local anesthetic — can help decrease pain caused by injections or needle sticks. It numbs the skin from the surface to a few millimeters below. In order to be effective at numbing the skin, lidocaine must be applied in a relatively thick layer, about a quarter to half-dollar in size, for 30 minutes before the injection. Unless parents know exactly where the vaccines will be administered, it shouldn’t be applied before arriving for a clinic visit. Often parents don’t know if vaccines will be given in arms or legs, what spot on the arms or legs, and are unaware that some vaccines are given

wall, and big, cuddling parents’ bodies can obstruct little nasal passages. When parents inevitably have to feed their baby in the middle of the night, having a safe sleeping space nearby — instead of a separate room down the hall — can help reduce the inclination among parents to bring a baby into their own bed. Of course, a year can seem like a very long time when your baby sleeps restlessly. Making sure your baby has a cool, smoke-free sleeping environment and offering a pacifier at bedtime can help assuage restlessness (and will also reduce the risk of SIDS). While the one-year rule is more of a guideline, it really is a lifesaving guideline. Plus, as a parent, you’ve got at least 18 years of poor sleep ahead of you — you can totally handle one year! •


in different extremities from one another. Lidocaine must also not be accidentally eaten or brushed into eyes by the child, both of which are difficult for an adult to prevent, especially if toddlers are in the backseat of the car while parents drive to appointments. Though placement of lidocaine during the clinic visit may extend the length of the clinic appointment (by 30 minutes or more), it’s the safest and most effective way to use it. It’s important to recognize that lidocaine will not take all discomfort away since vaccines are typically delivered into the muscle. Although the skin may have less pain with the injection, your child will still experience some discomfort when the vaccine is delivered. Other modalities, such as distraction, are pivotal in decreasing both the child’s and parent’s anxiety — and subsequently pain — associated with injections. If parents are visibly anxious while their child is about to receive a vaccine, children pick up on that, and the pain of the injection is heightened. Distraction is a wonderful way for both parents and their children to focus on something other than the injection itself. For example, parents can distract toddlers by cuddling them, reading with them or blowing bubbles together during the injections. •

LEARN MORE

For more on more proven techniques to decrease the pain associated with needle sticks and injections, please see tinyurl.com/vax-comfort.

Dr. Gigi Chawla is a board-certified pediatrician and the senior medical director of primary care at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Send questions to gchawla@mnparent.com.


Dr. Shalene Kennedy

ON BEHAVIOR

‘I’m NOT going to school today!’ F

ew parents escape the occasional hassle of having to nudge a sleepy child or irritable teen out of bed for school. But some kids flat-out stonewall, missing days or even weeks of essential education. As a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents, I hear many parents ask, “What’s wrong with my child?” or “What more can I do?” School avoidance is common and treatable, but it may require professional support.

Why kids refuse school No matter what you call it — school phobia, avoidance or refusal — it’s a growing problem and almost always associated with one or more psychiatric conditions. Nearly 75 percent of my patients struggle with some degree of school avoidance, often as a symptom of underlying depression or anxiety. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports the most common reasons kids or teens avoid school is concern about grades, homework and relationships with teachers; anxieties over social pressure (including conflicts on social media); or legitimate fears of teasing, bullying or violence. Younger kids may also have worries about using a public bathroom. No matter the age, stress can manifest physically as headaches, stomachaches, hyperventilating, nausea or dizziness.

When to seek help Parents, though well intentioned, can intensify things. Some avoid the emotional battleground entirely, while others escalate the conflict with pleading and

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arguing. Other parents might over-identify as being their child’s buddy, and be quick to change schools or try online school. I advise parents to begin “first-level” interventions after a child or teen has three school absences not caused by valid illness or a significant medical condition. That means seeking weekly guidance from an outpatient mental health professional (therapist), which can help most children boost their confidence. Most parents can tell if their child needs even greater support. For example, the school may be threatening to file truancy charges against the parents, and no one is sure what to try next. By then, the stress is affecting the entire family. That’s when I tell parents it’s time to have their child evaluated for next-level care. That may include a structured weekday program, also known as an intensive

outpatient program, at a mental health clinic. Such treatment is meant for kids struggling with emotional and behavioral health issues that cause significant difficulties in their families, schools and/or communities. In my experience, kids typically transition back to their regular school environment in about eight weeks.

Resilient kids, empowered parents Without question, the longer a child or teen stays home from school, the more difficult his or her eventual return will be. But a methodical plan can help kids of all ages and abilities return to regular attendance. My approach is to teach kids resiliency skills and empower their parents to follow through on limits and rewards. It’s also about simultaneously addressing underlying problems in the family that could


Nearly 75 percent of my patients struggle with some degree of school avoidance, often as a symptom of underlying depression or anxiety. exacerbate school avoidance. Parents often need a green light to parent. I see a lot of parents who are paralyzed in setting and enforcing limits. They generally have a good internal compass and know how to parent, but they need coaching to establish consistent rules, consequences and rewards. Keep in mind, therapy will not make school avoidance magically vanish. But it will equip kids and parents with new, healthier strategies toward a shared goal.

Transitioning back to school Returning to school full-time after a lengthy absence isn’t easy for a lot of kids. It can be academically overwhelming and socially awkward: Where have you been? A therapist or school social worker can help create a plan for home and school — and coach kids on how to respond to questions. With the right support, we can help kids and teens feel confident about school again! Shalene Kennedy is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in treating children and adolescents. She’s the founder of Aris Clinic, a pediatric behavioral health center that treats kids and teens throughout the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Learn more at aris-clinic.com.

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BOOKSHELF

Woof! Bounce! Meow! By Kaitlin Ungs Is there anything better than a fluffy friend? Pets can teach valuable lessons to kids, like the importance of kindness, sharing, responsibilities and even loss. They’re also darn cute. Crack these books open to explore not just the wacky adventures of adorable creatures, but also how kids should act around animals.

The Best Days Are Dog Days A day in the life never looked so fun. This captivating picture book draws darling parallels between a sweet French bulldog and its little girl owner throughout the day. Both need to eat, play, bathe and stretch. Bonus: Gouache watercolor illustrations give this book a hipster-y, handmade feel. Ages 3–5 • $16.99

A Greyhound, A Groundhog The playful watercolor illustrations are the main reason for this book’s inclusion in this Bookshelf; they’re absolutely beautiful. The story is a total tongue twister about the two animals, and will introduce your kid to wordplay and rhyming with phrases like “a round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog.” Ages 3–7 • $17.99

Black Belt Bunny This karate-chopping, salad-making cottontail is mischievous with a capital M. He bounces around, pouts, kicks and experiments throughout the pages — all to get out of eating his veggies. Ages 3–5 • $16.99

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Found Dogs Let your kid practice counting skills and descriptive words by looking at a cast of adorable, adoptable dogs — all at the pound. You’ll also find many opportunities for fun sound effects and actions with words like whimpery, snuggly and wagging. Watch out: This story might even make you want to head to the shelter to see if your perfect match is there! Ages 2–5 • $16.99

Marigold Bakes a Cake He’s a sweet, silly, particular cat. He likes his fur to always be groomed and his calendar is sorted in advance. Find out what happens when birds ruin his perfect cake. Ages 3–7 • $17.99

mnparent.com • August 2017

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TOTS FOR TOTS

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It’s zucchini season! Also known as summer squash, these green or yellow fruits are available at farmers markets now. Celebrate the season by turning them, skin and all, into kid-friendly tots — a great side for breakfast or dinner.


ZUCCHINI TOTS Oil or cooking spray 1 1/2 zucchini 1 large egg, beaten 1/4 medium onion, minced 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese 1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt Black pepper to taste Makes about 16 tots

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or oil a baking sheet or a mini-muffin tin pan. If using a muffin pan, be sure to grease the depressions thoroughly to prevent sticking. Grate the zucchini onto a clean dish towel or paper towels until you have one packed cup.  Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Scoop 1-tablespoon of the mixture in your hands and shape them into small ovals and place them on the baking sheet about an inch apart. If using mini-muffin tins, fill each muffin section to the top, pushing down on the filling with a spoon to make sure it’s compacted.  Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden. If you’re using the baking sheet, turn the tots halfway through cooking. Source: Adapted from The Two Bite Club and Skinny Taste blogs. Find more recipes that use fresh zucchini at skinnytaste.com and thetwobiteclub.com.


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mnparent.com • August 2017

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Your g Amazin ooler Presch

↑ Preschoolers are capable of practicing basic social skills — such as making friends, resolving conflicts and taking personal responsibility — at home as well as at school.

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D

o you ever wonder how preschool teachers get 18 children (or more) from their classrooms to the playground, when you struggle to get your one child out the door in the morning? Wonder no more: Local teachers-turned-authors Deb Ellsworth and Tina Charney are letting you in on the tricks of the trade. Their new book, Your Amazing Preschooler: How You Can Have the Same Capable, Confident and Cooperative Child at Home That Teachers Have at School, offers tips and tools to bring out the best in your amazing preschooler. Ellsworth and Charney, offering a combined 40 years of training and expertise, focus on building child competencies in five developmental areas — emotional, social, behavioral, cognitive and creative. Unlike many parenting books, which focus on changing unwanted behaviors in children, Your Amazing Preschooler concentrates on the many positive strengths a young child has, and builds on those.


Only S tr

ide Rite loc This shift in attitude and perspective ati open in on the is crucial, according to the authors, who Twin C ities explain tried-and-true techniques taken from the preschool classroom — and show parents how to use them at home. How old is a typical preschooler? Though most child-care centers define OPEN IN ROSEDALE MALL MON–SAT 10AM–9PM • SUN 11AM–6PM the age range as 3 to 5, keep in mind that children mature at different rates — and not evenly in all developmental areas Closest parking: upper level between Macy’s & JCPenney • 651-633-6821 — so Your Amazing Preschooler could be used by parents of kids who are 2 to 6 or even 7 years old. Stride Rite - Rosedale MNP 0817 12.indd 1 7/20/17 12:51 CenterPM for Irish Music MNP 0816 12.indd Here’s a quick look at some of the tips Ellsworth and Charney offer in the book:

Use school tools

Children — being primarily hands-on, visual and auditory learners — respond well to these kinds of cues at home as well school. Pictures, for example, can help children identify activities, jobs and even transitions. Take photos of your children accomplishing different tasks, such as eating breakfast or brushing their teeth. Post the pictures where children can check them. Displaying images of your child doing his or her bedtime routine, morning routine or even daily chores — perhaps in a desired order — can also be effective. Advance auditory signals combined with visual warnings can help with transitions, too, such as a five-minute verbal announcement followed by lights out or the sound of a bell. Songs, rhythms and sounds that are associated with specific transitions or times of day are also beneficial. Come up with a silly song or chant that signals to your child it’s time for departure or dinner. If you have a train whistle, for example, you can tell your child it’s time to “get on board” with a quick toot-toot before you leave the house.

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Your g Amazin ooler Presch

One mother with a child at St. David’s preschool tried that very trick and later told the teachers, “You saved my life!”

Focus on the positive

Ninety percent of what teachers or parents say to children should be positive, conversational and relationship-building, instead of directions or corrections, according to Ellsworth and Charney. Pay attention to what you say to your child. For example, instead of directing your child in how much and what to eat at dinner, engage in pleasant conversation. Do you lead with positivity? Instead of focusing on their many inherent weakness, help children build on their strengths. Meet them on their level, not yours. Rather than trying to correct problems,

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try to understand and work with — not against — the child.

Inspire emotional competence

Express your own emotions verbally. Use your words. Remember, managing the emotion doesn’t mean bottling it up: Teach your children how to “name it, claim it and tame it” when it comes to their many strong feelings. (You can model this technique when your own emotions threaten to take over, too.) Name it: Identify an emotion — “I’m feeling frustrated,” or “I’m feeling sad.” Use puppets — another teacher tool — to demonstrate how to express feelings appropriately. Make a “feelings wheel” with pictures of different feelings: This can help children


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THE BOOK Check out Deb Ellsworth and Tina Charney’s book — Your Amazing Preschooler: How You Can Have the Same Capable, Confident and Cooperative Child at Home That Teachers Have at School — at amazon.com. mnparent.com • August 2017

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Your g Amazin ooler Presch name their emotions when they can’t articulate them. (Download a simple feelings wheel at youramazingpreschooler.com.) Remember, it’s OK for your child to have unhappy emotions, and to need space, Ellsworth and Charney said. Children need to feel sad, angry, worried and frustrated in order to learn how to get themselves into a happier state. Speak in a calm voice, and use imagery to help children label what your child might be feeling, such as volcano that’s about to explode or very fast car engine that’s out of control. Claim it: Express the emotion in an appropriate way. It can help to use stuffed animals or puppets to act out feelings. Keep in mind that yelling is counterproductive: It scares kids, and teaches them to express frustration through anger directed at others. Tame it: Find healthy ways to feel better. If your child is angry, for example, try these activities with him or her: Take slow, deep breaths; hold your child’s hands while your child jumps up and down; or count out loud.

Encourage behavioral independence

Eating, dressing, conflict resolution and cleaning up — find ways for your children to accomplish these tasks on their own. Model positive expressions about food, expose them to many different kinds of food and assume they’ll eat what’s in front of them. Let them eat what and how much they want, in whatever order they like. Make sure their clothes are easy to put on and take off (think elastic waistbands instead of zippers and buttons), and encourage them to choose what they’re going to wear. Teach them the “dip and flip” technique for putting on jackets. (See pictures of the technique at tinyurl.com/dip-flip.) Let kids find their own resolutions to problems. Parents don’t have to be “judge and jury” for every conflict between siblings. Children often think of compromises or ways to

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↑ Kids in preschool at St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development in Minnetonka are encouraged to take on age-appropriate tasks, such as cleaning up, which can help them develop confidence and behavioral independence.

deal with problems that wouldn’t necessarily occur to grown-ups, but that they find satisfying. Ellsworth and Charney tell the story of two children who were fighting about who could put in the last piece of the puzzle they were doing. On their own, they decided to first have one child put it in, then take it out and have the other child put it in. Give your child jobs, such as spraying and wiping down the table or sorting and putting away silverware. These household chores not only encourage behavioral independence, they also help develop fine and gross motor skills.

Foster creativity

Preschools typically provide numerous opportunities for children to play pretend — and parents can do the same at home without much effort or expense, according to Ellsworth and Charney. Wondering what to do with old phones, dishes, briefcases, purses, cameras? Instead of sending them to the landfill, add them to your child’s “imagination box.” Give your child open-ended toys and materials


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Your g Amazin ooler Presch

“ 40

Wondering what to do with old phones, dishes, briefcases, purses, cameras? Instead of sending them to the landfill, add them to your child’s ‘imagination box.’

August 2017 • mnparent.com

↑ Creative and imaginative play isn’t just fun for kids, it fosters social, emotional, cognitive and physical learning.


Curious Minds LLC Your leader in STEAM Education ages 16 mos – 12 yrs

such as boxes, cardboard tubes, blocks, stuffed animals, dolls, dress-up clothes and even rocks. Toys that do only one thing will be discarded quickly, but open-ended toys contain endless variations and possibilities. Encourage your child to answers questions themselves, rather than looking to you for the answer. Play brainstorming games: What could this be? How many different ways could you climb a mountain? Play fluency games: How many animals can you think of that live in water? Play games in the car: Can you spot something out the window that’s smaller than a doughnut or softer than a feather? Creative play may seem like pure and simple fun, but it also enhances life skills in key developmental areas — social, emotional, cognitive, physical, problemsolving and more.

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Nurture learning pathways

Remember, children learn through play, imitation, observation and action. As teachers do at school, parents can do at home, giving children the opportunities and means to become more competent, and to enhance true selfconfidence to help them eventually become successful adults — parents, spouses, workers and citizens. Remember to appreciate your amazing preschooler, amidst all the hectic-ness of everyday living. Share with your child the joy of discovery of the whole world, and the thrill of increasing mastery. Maura Dunst is the communications coordinator at St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development in Minnetonka, which includes a preschool, a children’s mental health clinic, an autism center and a pediatric therapy clinic. Learn more at stdavidscenter.org.

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Best in class

Wondering which backpack to get for your kid’s preschool or kindergarten debut? We recommend you skip the Minions and Princess Poppy rucksacks — and opt for one of these awesome options, chosen for their long-term durability, comfort/ergonomics and enduring designs (guaranteed to outlast your child’s latest cartoon-character obsession). BY RACHEL GUYAH

The Carry All

The Hiker

The Cutie

Popular for its many pockets and storage

If your kid likes to hit the trails as well as the

Durable, comfy and cute to boot, this baby is

capacity — plus its ability to endure a lot of

books, this posture-friendly pack from REI is

built to withstand the wear and tear of

mileage over multiple years — this pack is

worth trying on for sure. The chest strap and

kindergarten (and beyond). The outer fabric

also equipped for after-school adventures,

hip belt help redistribute the bag’s weight

has a water-repellent finish to combat spills

thanks to its durable, weatherproof exterior.

away from the shoulders, while the back

from the sky (or juice box), while the sturdy,

In addition to a spacious main compartment,

panel’s airflow channel helps keep your kid

thick base keeps the pack upright when it’s

it boasts a front-zip pocket with pencil slots

cool during those hotter spells during the

set down. Padded shoulder straps and an

and a key clip, a front stuff pocket for

school year (or summer travels).

adjustable chest strap keep the fit comfort-

L.L.BEAN EXPLORER

sweatshirts or other items, and two side mesh pockets for beverage bottles. Did we mention it has a lot of pockets?

Downside: It’s a bit larger, so it may not be ideal for shorter or more petite kindergarteners. Where to buy: Llbean.com or L.L.Bean retail stores Ages: 6 and up Cost: $39.95

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REI CO-OP TARN 12

Bonus: An exterior front stretch pocket is perfect for stashing a light jacket or sweatshirt. Downside: Kids have only a few solid colors to choose from (no patterns or designs). Where to buy: Rei.com or REI retail stores Ages: 5–8 Cost: $34.95

LANDS’ END CLASSMATE

able and secure on your wiggle worm’s body. And it comes in a variety of fun designs as well as solid colors.

Bonus: Custom monogramming and embroidery are available online. Downside: It’s low on pockets and zippers. Ages: 4–7 (size small) Where to buy: Landsend.com or Lands’ End retail stores Cost: $34 ($12.99 on sale)


The Eco-Hipster ERGOBAG

Combining the ergonomic design of a hiking backpack with the everyday needs of a school bag, this award-winning backpack from a German startup is loaded with savvy features. The wide, padded hip belt moves the bag’s weight from your kid’s shoulders to the much stronger pelvic area, while the breathable back panel molds to the curve of the spine. Nearly everything is ultra-adjustable, ensuring a custom fit as your child grows.

Bonus: Reflective material in the fabric — made with 100 percent recycled PET plastic bottles — helps keep your kid visible. Downside: It’s got the highest price tag of all the bags listed here; and in the U.S. it’s available only at select online retailers. Where to buy: sportique.com Ages: 3–5 (Mini), 5–9 (Prime) Cost: $54.95 (Mini), $129.95 (Prime)

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The Lightweight THE NORTH FACE YOUTH RECON SQUASH

Weighing in at less than a pound (14.46 ounces to be precise), this ultralight pack boasts a trifecta of durability, comfort and purposeful storage. In addition to the main compartment, it features a zippered outer pocket to secure smaller items, plus two side mesh pockets for water bottles. The chest strap takes some of the weight off your kiddo’s shoulders, while the padded back panel cushions the spine.

Downside: You won’t find a lot of interior pockets. Larger kids may outgrow the bag’s narrow profile. Ages: 6–10 Where to buy: thenorthface.com or authorized dealers such as The North Face, Macy’s, Dicks Sporting Goods and REI Cost: $50

Rachel Guyah is a Twin Cities-based writer, editor, and mother to an adorably dimpled energizer bunny (cleverly disguised as a preschooler). Learn more about her work at rachelguyah.com mnparent.com • August 2017

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Bribe BUST?

How rewards and other incentives can help — or hurt — parenting success ­By Laura Ramsborg

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W

hen we asked Minneapolis mamas, “Do you bribe your kids for certain behaviors?” — the confessions flowed like red wine on a Mama’s Night Out. The answer was a resounding yes with all sorts of bribery booty involved, ranging from single M&Ms — given out one at time — to straight-up cash. You’ll find no judgment here. We’ve all resorted to bribes from time to time. Desperate times (toddlerhood, for one) call for desperate measures (bribes of any kind). Among local moms, the most popular bribes were marshmallows, chocolate chips, trips to the park, stickers, marbles in a jar (to earn a reward), screen time, ice cream and, yes, cash. But how effective are bribes? How are they different from rewards? And how well do either of them work in the long run? Seeking definitive answers, we dug into the most recent research and talked with Dr. Carol Carlson, a pediatrician, mother of four and medical director at Southdale Pediatrics in Edina.

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Bribe BUST?

↑ Behavior experts say parents should avoid using food as a reward because it can encourage unhealthy attitudes about food and even kickstart bad eating habits.

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Bribes versus rewards

The key difference between a bribe and a reward is timing. A bribe is offered in advance to influence behavior, while a reward is given afterward to recognize achievement. Betsy Cadel, writing on the Alpha Mom blog, wrote: “A surprise trip to the gift shop for good behavior before you leave a museum is a reward. An unplanned stop at the gift shop to put an end to moping or whining is a bribe.” In other words, the circumstances and behaviors involved do matter. As Cadel put it: “Regardless of the size of the incentive (from an ice cream cone to an iPod) if it’s offered to encourage behavior that you’d like to see as part of your child’s character, like studying hard, or being a good pet owner, those are rewards. If the same offer is made for not doing certain things, like not throwing a tantrum or not being rude to a grandparent, then it is a bribe.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) describes rewards as “a good way to help children learn concepts or accomplish tasks” — as long as they bring out the best in the children involved. But it’s a fine line for parents to navigate minute to minute. Psychology Today suggests that how we word our requests makes a difference. For example, when we say, “If you get your shoes and coat on, I’ll let you watch a video on my phone,” we are offering a bribe because the word “if” implies that it might be optional. To reframe this statement, we could say, “As soon as you get your shoes and coat on, you can watch a video on my phone,” which indicates a reward.

Charting your course

Reward charts for ongoing positive behaviors work well for kids who are taking on new challenges or learning positive habits. Once a behavior is mastered, the chart can go away and the new skill is just part of life. Then it’s onto the next skill. Though every child is different, a good age to begin trying reward charts is 4 or 5 years old, when the relationship between cause and effect is more clear for kids, Carlson said. For younger kids, such as ages 2 and 3, parents can skip the progressive charts and instead consistently award a single sticker or hand stamp after positive behaviors, such as after each tooth-brushing success. For older kids, Carlson recommends starting out with attainable, short-term goals on reward charts. Though weekly goals are commonly used on magnetic chore charts — marketed to parents of kids as young as preschoolers — that can be far too long for kids who are still learning the days of the week. “Going seven days is a long time for some kids,” Carlson said. “Start with smaller, achievable goals and then spread it out from there.” Reward needn’t be extravagant, but should be geared toward your child’s interests and/or applicable to the task, Carlson said. If you’re using stickers and a reward chart for brushing teeth, make the reward a new toothbrush for achieving the goal, not sweets. “Make your reward healthy or beneficial,” Carlson said.

5 TIPS FOR GIVING POSITIVE REWARDS 1 Set up for success: Make sure your reward system is age-appropriate. Most kids aren’t developmentally ready to understand and succeed with a progressive reward chart until ages 4 or 5.

2 Make awards attainable: For some kids, working on a single goal for seven days in a row can feel nearly impossible. Start out with smaller, more attainable goals to build your child’s confidence and progress to longer stretches of time.

3 Keep it simple: Focus on one to three goals at a time and keep them as simple as possible. The more we add, the less kids retain; too many details can become a distraction.

4 Stay positive: Make sure to phrase your goals and praise positively. Instead of “Don’t be late,” try “Be ready on time.” Instead of, “Today you didn’t take so long to eat your breakfast,” try, “I like how you focused on eating your breakfast so we could leave on time.”

5 Remain flexible: The type of rewards that motivate your kids will change from day to day. Be willing to make adjustments as you go, and remember that a reward doesn’t have to be material. It could be as simple as choosing the movie to watch, or picking which game to play on family game night. Sources: The American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Carol Carlson, Southdale Pediatrics mnparent.com • August 2017

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Bribe BUST?

Alternative rewards Parents can offer many other rewards not related to food to reinforce good behavior: • Trip to the library, zoo, museum, pool or other favorite outing • New art supplies or coloring books • Pencils, stickers or other supplies • Special bath toy • Listening to their favorite music as a family

Bribes and rewards may be the salt and pepper of parenting, perhaps best used in moderation.

• Extra reading time before bed • Play date or sleepover with a friend • Playing a favorite game with a parent. Source: University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia

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Parents should avoid using food as a reward in general, according to doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center, because it can encourage unhealthy attitudes about food and even kickstart bad eating habits. “Giving sweets, chips or soda as a reward often leads to children overeating foods that are high in sugar, fat and empty calories. Worse, it interferes with kids’ natural ability to regulate their eating. It also encourages them to eat when they’re not hungry to reward themselves,” said an article from URMC, titled Why Parents Shouldn’t Use Food as Reward or Punishment. “They may also start associating unhealthy foods with certain moods — when you feel good about yourself, for instance, it’s OK to reach for a sweet.”

Setting expectations

Bribes and rewards may be the salt and pepper of parenting, perhaps best used in moderation. Dumping either of them on can result in a bad taste in your mouth or leave you exhausted — or both. Carlson agrees that rewards can be effective — if used for the right reasons and at the right time. She stressed that rewarding positive behavior is better than punishing unwanted behavior. But rewarding children for every little good behavior can have a negative effect, too. “Sometimes parents give kids rewards for acting the way they are supposed to, instead of expecting kids to act appropriately,” she said. With constant incentives, over-rewarded kids can struggle to find motivation to simply execute their basic daily responsibilities without compensation. They also miss a chance to learn coping skills for life’s most banal tasks, leading to what Empowering Parents coach Erin Schlicher describes as a false sense of entitlement. “It happens quickly, when all you want is to change your child’s behavior on the spot, so you offer him something that you had no previous intention of offering,” Schlicher wrote. “It is a form of negotiating — and remember, over-negotiating puts the child in the driver’s seat.” Carlson agrees that bribery can backfire in the long run. “Bribery doesn’t change the original behavior,” she said. “It just fosters how to get more out of their parents. And they continue to not cooperate.”  

Avoiding dire situations

But what about those desperate times — those the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, running-late mornings? Carlson understands there are situations in which we all resort to bribery. The key, she said, is to keep bribes to a minimum. And, even

more important, plan ahead to set yourself up for success — without needing bribes. How? Remember where your kids are developmentally and set realistic goals. With toddlers, plan to run one errand rather than three. Know that trying to do anything when your kids are tired, hungry or not feeling well is a mission destined to fail or lead to a sucker/iPad/new-toy bribe. Bring along reinforcements on your Target run, such as a toy to entertain your kiddo in the cart (versus a new toy), or a healthy snack brought from home (versus Oreos from the store shelves).

Now what?

What if you want to avoid bribes/rewards all together? Carlson recommends a relaxed approach whenever possible. “From any age, when you start worrying about behaviors, an attitude of indifference always seems to work best,” she said. This sly strategy can end a power struggle promptly, and kids become more likely to cooperate with our requests. If your 3-year-old refuses to put on her coat on a chilly December morning, Carlson recommends the following talking points: “You don’t want to wear your coat? That’s too bad. I love my coat; it keeps me nice and warm. It’s really cold outside today. OK, let’s go.” Then turn your head and walk away. Bring your child’s coat with you in the car — it’s very likely that after just a few minutes in 10-degree weather, she’ll be clamoring to put on her coat and you’ll have won the battle. In other words, natural consequences can be the best antidote for unwanted behaviors.

Pick your battles

Ultimately, when it comes to child behavior, it’s the job of the parents to decide ahead of time what matters most and what’s unacceptable. Often kids don’t understand why the things we ask them to do are important to us — wearing the cute, matching pantsand-sweater outfit from Grandma to the family reunion instead of the favorite, food-stained, monster truck T-shirt. By taking the time in advance to think about how we want our children to act, we can prioritize which behaviors need correcting and which ones we can let go. “Figure out what’s important to you and what’s important to your child,” Carlson said. “Everything else just doesn’t matter that much. This is true at any age.” Laura Ramsborg is a freelance writer and mother of two (soon to be three!) children who needs to banish the M&M bribe jar from her kitchen.

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GIVE THEM W


WINGS STORY AND PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA RIES

How do you throw a fairy party? All you need, to quote Peter Pan, is a little faith, trust and pixie dust. Or, in the case of my daughter’s 4th birthday party — tutus, wings and face painting.

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GIVE THEM WINGS THE PLACE We rented a shelter at South Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights ($60 for a five-hour block) for the big day, and the setting alone — a playground in the woods — lent the party a freeflowing, fairy vibe. A park party takes the pressure off parents of toddlers; you don’t have to worry if your little one will behave or sit still. There’s ample space to roam and less expectation to dial in at certain moments. It also takes pressure off the parents to clean the house. It’s just a matter of remembering everything you need to haul to the park. The outdoor shelter included picnic tables plus an indoor space with restrooms, a solid Plan B in case of inclement weather. But we lucked out with a sunny Saturday in early spring.

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Shop Small & Local in Beautiful Downtown

THE FAVORS Every girl received as her party favor a fairy costume — a flower crown, a wand, a tutu and matching fairy wings. I’d scoured Etsy and found the best tutus from a shop called The Bow Betties. The tutus are super fluffy and reasonably priced (about $15 each). I found a steal on enchanting fairy wings — just $3.50 a pair from Lola Saturdays. Lola’s wings come in eight colors. They’re the perfect size for toddlers and preschoolers, easy to pop on, and they keep their form. The simple wands came from Dollar Tree, while the exquisite flower crowns ($5 each from GigisFunStuff) provided a finishing touch. Dainty yet secure, the crowns were perfectly sized for little ones. Combined — wings, wand, tutu and flower crown — the effect was enchanting. The girls felt like real fairies — and pranced around the playground accordingly.

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DiscoverStillwater.com

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StillwaterOakHeights Convention Visitors Bureau MNP 0817 7/11/17 V3.indd12:39 1 PM


GIVE THEM WINGS

THE ENTERTAINMENT The main event was the arrival of Tracie VanKeulen from Face Painting by Tracie of Rosemount. She made the party! If you’re looking for a single, simple step to add a ton of fun to your child’s birthday, consider face painting. I had never done it before, but expect to do so again. Tracie (whose rates I found to be competitive) said to call for pricing details. Tracie was phenomenal — great with kids (and adults), versatile and speedy. She was able to tailor her painting to create any desired look or theme asked of her, including an oscillating fan commissioned by one young guest. Tracie started her craft back in 2008 when her daughter was 3 and has refined her style over the years was able to calm even the birthday girl’s shy 2-year-old little sister.

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NEED MORE PARTY IDEAS? Check out the vendors listed in the back of this issue or visit mnparent.com/directory and click on Party Resources.

Serving people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, HOBT collaborates with SCHOOLS and COMMUNITIES on unique, interactive ART RESIDENCIES that nurture the creative spirit and encourage a sense of joy and wonder. 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 S3 filler.indd 1

THE REST We enjoyed an informal barbeque and an amazing castle cake that Nana made using a Wilton kit.  All in all, it was such a fun day! Sometimes I try to squeeze too much into a party and feel like I’m racing the clock. But the park really set the tone and made the entire party feel airy and playful, free of any agenda. As it should be. Happy girls, happy mama.

7/6/16 10:25 AM

FAM MIL LY Y

Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Check out her daughters’ mermaid- and Peppa Pig-themed parties at mnparent.com/charmed. Special thanks to GigisFunStuff, LolaSaturdays, TheBowBetties for supplying complimentary samples for review and photography. mnparent.com • August 2017

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PARTY RESOURCES ADVERTISER LISTINGS

Party

AirMaxx Trampoline Park & Fun Center The most exciting birthday celebration in Minneapolis/St Paul! Your birthday child will love playing laser tag or jumping with their friends while we celebrate them on their special day. We provide setup, clean up, and will serve the food. 7000 Washington Ave S Eden Prairie 952-232-0096 airmaxxtrampolinepark.com

Brookview Backyard Opening December 2017, this multilevel indoor playground for ages 2–5 and 5–12 features 3,000 square feet of fun with slides, crawl tubes, cargo climbs, bumper balls, log rollers, cave crawls, and more. Now booking birthday parties in the Clubhouse and Hideout. 316 Brookview Pkwy S Golden Valley 763-512-2345 brookviewbackyard.com

Bunker Park Stables Your GO-TO horse facility for the safest and most fun horse parties. Available for all ages! Make your event unforgettable! 550 Bunker Lake Blvd NW Andover 763-757-9445 bunkerparkstable.com

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Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Eagles Nest Indoor Playground

Have a Birthday Bash to Remember at Como! We offer seven unique party themes for kids age 1 and up. We can even provide pizza and cake. Join us for a party so exciting kids won’t notice how much they’re learning!

We make hosting a birthday party a piece of cake! A brand new play structure is coming in the Fall of 2017. The Eagles Nest will be closed September 4th through October for construction.

1225 Estabrook Dr St. Paul 651-487-8272 comozooconservatory.org

New Brighton Community Center 400 10th St NW New Brighton 651-638-2130 newbrightonmn.gov

Como Town

Edina Art Center

Plan a FUNtastic birthday party at Como Town Amusement Park! Easy, simple, and fast! Plus, earn a FREE Unlimited Ride Wristband just for registering your party online! Party package options are available to book online and include everything you need.

Arty Party! Let creativity and fun be the theme of your child’s next birthday party. The Art Center offers 90-minute art activities for ages 5 and older in drawing, painting and pottery. Celebrate with cake in our wonderful Tea Room after the activity.

1301 Midway Pkwy St. Paul 651-487-2121 comotown.com

Davanni’s Pizza & Hot Hoagies Locally and family-owned Davanni’s Pizza & Hot Hoagies has been serving the Twin Cities since 1975! Every shop, except Uptown, has FREE (with minimum purchase) one to two party and meeting rooms, which comfortably hold between 10 and 60 people. 21 locations in the Metro area davannis.com

4701 W 64th St Edina 952-903-5780 edinaartcenter.com

Firefighters Hall & Museum Our mission is to preserve the history of firefighting and promote home and fire safety education. Our museum contains many historical items going back to the 1860’s, as well as hands on exhibits for patrons to see and touch. 664 22nd Ave NE Minneapolis 612-623-3817 firehallmuseum.org


mnparent.com/directory GameTruck of Twin Cities

Minnesota Children’s Museum

Monkey House

Twin Cities Premier Mobile video game arcade. With 5 large screen televisions, 200plus video game titles and all of the current gaming systems, 16-20 gamers can play at once. A GameTruck party is truly the easiest party you can host. We Deliver Excitement!

Book a birthday party at Minnesota Children’s Museum! All parties include admission for you and all your guests to play and explore, exclusive t-shirt for the birthday child, downloadable party invitations, and free coat and gift storage.

The ultimate kids party and play place. Huge 5,000 square foot indoor play center. Giant inflatable bounce houses, obstacle course, 18 foot slide, climbers, foam pit, and more! You get an entire play arena and party room exclusively for your group.

Mobile – we come to you! 612-345-8381 gametruck.com

Gleason’s Gymnastic School Looking for a unique and memorable way to celebrate a birthday? Try Gleason’s Gymnastic Birthday parties! You provide the refreshments... WE PROVIDE THE REST! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the CELEBRATION! Call the office to schedule your party today! 2015 Silver Bell Rd Eagan 651-454-6203 9775 85th Ave N, Ste 500 Maple Grove 763-493-2526 gleasons.com

10 W 7th St St. Paul 651-225-6000 mcm.org

1815 Buerkle Rd White Bear Lake 651-348-8233 monkeyhousemn.com

Minnetonka Orchards

Phancy Faces

Come enjoy the fun of picking apples, petting the farm animals, climbing a hay mountain and walking the corn maze or just listen to music while eating some warm apple donuts. Open Late August thru October 31, 2017.

We provide fun entertainment for all ages and events/parties throughout the Twin Cities. Some of our services are Face Painting, Balloon Art/Animals, Bounce Houses, Henna, Caricatures, Airbrushed Temporary Tattoos, Custom T-Shirts, Hats, and Helmets. Also check out our Fun Foods Rental Items.

6530 Country Rd 26 Minnetrista 763-479-6530 minnetonkaorchards.com

215 Northtown Drive NE Minneapolis 612-310-8292 phancyfaces.com

Kidcreate Studio Kidcreate’s birthday parties combine fun art projects with lots of giggles and grins. We have 100’s of party projects to choose from including clay mosaics, painting on canvas, Frozen, Pokémon and more. Ask about our FREE GIFT BAG OFFER! 7918 Mitchell Rd Eden Prairie 952-974-3438 1785 Radio Drive, Ste F Woodbury 651-735-0880 kidcreatestudio.com

Kiddywampus A kiddywampus birthday party is one to remember! From throwing paint against the wall to popular themes like princesses, Jedi Knights and even toddlers, we’ve got an epic party for every child! 1023 Mainstreet Hopkins 952-926-7871 kiddywampus.com

Litin’s Party Value Litin’s Party Value is your downtown party store! Find supplies for every occasion: Tableware, Decorations, Balloons, Gift Wrap Supplies, Birthdays, Weddings, Baby Showers, Food Service, and Catering Supplies. Shop our 17,000 sq. ft. warehouse open to the public with free parking. Family owned since 1967. 434 Lakeside Ave Minneapolis 612-343-4300 partyvalue.com

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PARTY RESOURCES ADVERTISER LISTINGS Pinwheel Play

Pump It Up

Science Museum of Minnesota

Kids (ages 0–6) will enjoy our art room, wood playsets, obstacle course, sport court, play grocery store, stage, digital playground, and more! Parents love our modern, beautiful space - small enough to keep the kids contained, large enough to keep them entertained for hours!

At Pump It Up we love entertaining kids! Our kids’ birthday parties are 100% private, indoors, and the best in the inflatable industry. Let us take all the stress out of fulfilling your child’s dream of inviting the whole class for some amazing jumping fun!

Birthday parties at the museum are a blast for your kids, and hassle-free for you. Your party at the Science Museum includes private birthday room, hands-on activities, and admission to exhibit halls for all guests! Our hands-on fun experts will make your child’s party unforgettable.

1256 Park Rd Chanhassen 952-300-8070 pinwheelplay.com

Playworks PARTY HERE! There’s no place to PARTY like Playworks. Whether you’re looking to host an event, your child’s birthday party, or a seasonal party, Playworks is the place for family entertainment. 2200 Trail of Dreams Prior Lake 952-445-PLAY (7529) playworksfun.com

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7406 Washington Ave S Eden Prairie 952-943-0052; 3500 Holly Ln N Ste 65 Plymouth 763-553-0340 pumpitupparty.com

Rockin’ Jump Trampoline & Indoor Recreation Park Rockin’ Jump’s parties are easy for parents and offer exhilarating fun for all ages. Our 1 hour 45 minute parties include pizza, drinks, socks, a private host, private party room, private game/lane, arcade play card & awesome memories. 2015 Silver Bell Rd #195 Eagan 651-419-9020 eagan.rockinjump.com

120 W Kellogg Blvd St. Paul 651-221-9444 smm.org

Sunnyside Stables Birthday Parties, Lessons, Kids Horse Camp, and Trail Riding! 15400 Emery Ave E Rosemount 651-226-2027 sunnysidestables.org


mnparent.com/directory YOUR DOWNTOWN PARTY STORE

434 Lakeside Ave, Minneapolis Just 2 doors north of the MPLS Farmers Market

612.343.4300 | PartyValue.com Tableware & Serveware

Party Decorations

Themes

Gift Wrap & Packaging

& so much more! FREE Parking Litins Party Value MNP 0817 V6.indd 1

USA Inflatables USA Inflatables offers the largest selection of inflatables, moonwalks, bouncehouses, waterslides, obstacle courses, rockwall, euro bungee, concessions, interactives, dunk tanks and more for any occasion. Free delivery and pickup. Free Delivery in Metro 763-506-0400 usainflatables.com

The Works Museum At The Works Museum, kids and families use hands-on activities, building tools, and everyday materials to explore engineering and design. Parents love our easy and fun birthday parties, make-your-own favors, free parking, and easy-to-supervise layout. Kids just love us, period. 9740 Grand Ave S Bloomington 952-888-4262 theworks.org

7/12/17 2:13 PM

Zero Gravity Trampoline Park & Laser Tag Looking for a new place for your child’s birthday party? Check out Zero Gravity. Shoot hoops, flip into a foam pit, play dodgeball — all on trampolines. We have Laser Tag, an arcade, aerial net course, and climbing wall. 2292 Woodale Dr Mounds View 763-231-3033 zerogravitymn.com

Volunteer with Junior Achievement. You can empower young people to succeed in the global economy.

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Out & About AUGUST

AUG. 24–SEPT. 4

mnparent.com/calendar

Minnesota State Fair

⊲ The Great Minnesota Get-Together showcases Minnesota’s finest agriculture, horticulture, art and industry, plus carnival rides (including a Kidway for tots), games, live music and food vendors aplenty. This year’s newest feature is a Great Big Wheel — a 156-foot-tall Ferris wheel with 36 enclosed gondolas each carrying six people. When: Aug. 24–Sept. 4 Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul Cost: Advanced tickets start at $11. Gate admission is $14

ONGOING

Foam Parties ⊲ Como Town in St. Paul is now offering free foam parties, featuring safe, nontoxic foam. Bring a towel for cleanup afterward and/or cool off at Como Town’s splash pad. When: 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 4 (Labor Day) Where: Como Town, St. Paul Cost: FREE. Though the foam parties are free, Como’s splash pad entry is included with the purchase of a kids’ unlimited ride wristband ($21.95),

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for ages 13–64; $12 for ages 5–12 and 65 and older; and free for ages 4 and younger. Info: mnstatefair.org

or can be purchased separately for about $5. Info: comotown.com

Explore the new MCM ⊲ The Minnesota Children’s Museum flagship St. Paul location, temporarily closed since December, reopened in June — and it’s a breath of fresh air. Check out the $30 million expansion and renovation — including 10 new exhibits and 35 percent more space for visitors. When: Summer hours are 9 a.m–5 p.m. Sunday–Thursday and 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Friday–Saturday.

Where: Minnesota Children’s Museum, St. Paul Cost: Regular 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.) Info: mcm.org

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. When: 10 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Monday– Saturday, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Sundays Where: Mall of America, Bloomington Cost: Tickets are $12.95–$16.95 for one film or $19–$25 for two. Info: flyover-america.com

JULY 28–AUG. 13

Nordrsaga

⊲ St. Paul’s own Circus Juventas, the largest performing arts youth circus school in the U.S., presents its summer show — a story steeped in little-known Norse mythology, adventure and magic.

Note: The performance runs three hours long with a 20-minute intermission. When: July 28–Aug. 13 Where: Circus Juventas, St. Paul Cost: Tickets start at $18.50. Info: circusjuventas.org

AUG. 3–13

Minnesota Fringe Festival ⊲ The Midwest’s largest performingarts festival will host hundreds of performances, including a variety of kid-friendly productions.

AUG. 2–16

Rhythm on the Rails ⊲ This new, free summer concert series will feature live music, family fun, food booths, brew vendors and more. When: 6–10 p.m. Wednesdays Aug. 2–16, featuring Chris Hawkey on Aug. 2, Lost Highway on Aug. 9 and Martin Zellar on Aug. 16. Where: Lewis Street, Shakopee Cost: FREE Info: downtownshakopee.org

When: Aug. 3–13 Where: Venues in Minneapolis Cost: Day passes cost $16 on the weekdays, $22 on the weekends and $5 for ages 11 and younger. Info: fringefestival.org

AUG. 4

Nature Play Dates ⊲ Naturalists make spending time outdoors interesting for preschoolers by providing new themes and sensory

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Out & About

experiences each month. Ages 2 and younger are also welcome. All children must be accompanied by an adult. When: 10–11:15 a.m. Aug. 4 Where: Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul Cost: $7 per child; pre-registration is required. Info: dodgenaturecenter.org

AUG. 4–6

Uptown Art Fair ⊲ See the work of professional and youth artists, and check out live music and dance performances, family-friendly activities and festival-style food and beverages. When: Aug. 4–6 Where: Uptown Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: uptownartfair.com

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

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

s $14 forWhen: ages Aug. 11–13 admission pricesHarriet for Where: Island, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: irishfair.com

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AUG. 4–19

Swimmy

⊲ 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 beloved 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

AUG. 11–13

Capitol Grand Opening ⊲ Celebrate of the newly restored 112-year-old Minnesota State Capitol with special events, tours with guides from the Minnesota Historical Society, plus a kids’ activities all weekend long. When: Aug. 11–13, including a Prince dance party Aug. 11 and fireworks on Aug. 12 Where: St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: mn.gov/admin/capitol-grandopening

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 meet-and-greets with cuddly Polish sheepdogs.   When: Aug. 11–13 Where: Old Main Street in northeast

Host an Exchange Student Today!

Minneapolis, across from St. Anthony Main Cost: FREE Info: tcpolishfestival.org

(for 3, 5 or 10 months) Make a lifelong friend from abroad

Enrich your family with another culture. Now you can host a high school exchange student (girl or boy) from France, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Italy or other countries. Single parents, as well as couples with or without children, may host. Contact us ASAP for more information or to select your student.

AUG. 13 AND 27

Gibbs Farm Ice Cream Sundays

Victoria from Australia, 17 yrs.

Enjoys spending time with her family and younger siblings. Victoria plays volleyball and is excited to learn new sports while in America.

⊲ 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. 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 for ages 3–16. Info: rchs.com/gibbs-farm

Giorgio from Italy, 16 yrs.

Loves to play baseball and spend time with his dogs. Giorgio also plays the guitar, and his dream is to join a drama club at his American high school.

TAMMY 715-497-6696 AMY 1-800-736-1760 (Toll Free) host.asse.com or email info@asse.com

Founded in 1976 ASSE International Student Exchange Program is a Public Benefit, Non-Profit Organization. For privacy reasons, photos above are not photos of actual students

AUG. 19–20

MINI GOLF & BIG FUN

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Greek Summer Festival ⊲ Take a weekend getaway to Greece without leaving Minnesota with Greek food, kids’ games and activities, plus live music and dancing with the Greek Dancers of Minnesota and free hourly tours of the church sanctuary.

Mini Golf

When: Aug. 19–20 Where: Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, St. Paul Cost: FREE; food tickets can be purchased in advance online for $10. Info: stgeorgegoc.org

AUG. 19–OCT. 1

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Renaissance Festival ⊲ King Henry and his court invite one and all to his immersive 16th-century European village, featuring 12 stages of musicians,

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local stores to save money and avoid lines at the event. Info: renaissancefest.com

Out & About magicians, jugglers and mimes, including more than 500 engaging memorable characters. More than 250 artisans fill the festival marketplace.

for ages 3–12. Info: comozooconservatory.org

CONTINUING

AUG. 20

Japanese Oban Festival

⊲ Both St. Paul and Minneapolis offer family-friendly outdoor summer concert and film series at local parks.

⊲ Bonsai, martial arts, singing, dancing, drumming, food and other aspects of Japanese culture are at the heart of this annual family-friendly event, which includes a traditional lantern-lighting ceremony at dusk.

When: 9 a.m.–7 p.m. weekends Aug. 19–Oct. 1, plus Monday, Sept. 4 (Labor Day) and Sept. 29 (Festival Friday); go early in the day for a kid-friendly atmosphere and easier parking. Where: Rural Shakopee Cost: $14.95 for ages 5 to 12, $21.95 for ages 62 and older and $23.95 for adults. Buy tickets online or at

Music & Movies in the Parks

When: Through Labor Day Where: Minneapolis and St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: stpaul.gov/musicintheparks and tinyurl.com/music-movies-2017

When: Aug. 20 Where: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul Cost: In years’ past, admission was $5 for ages 13 and older, $3

CHILDCARE/EDUCATION

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FROM OUR READERS

Summer fun! ↑↑Jaelon, 2, of Burnsville

↑↑Evan, 1, of Otsego

↑↑Jacob, 5, of New Brighton

↑↑Eddie and Cal, age 4 and 2, of Stillwater

↑↑Amelia and Jacob, age 1 and 3, of Minnetonka

↑↑Callie, 8 months, of Anoka

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

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