August 2019

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August 2019

Parent-tested tips for crushing Ren Fest and the State Fair! Page 34








Inari, 8, of St. Paul, at Highland Park Elementary School




Ren Fest success The Minnesota Renaissance Festival can be a blast for kids, but there are some things you need to know.


More is more

Except when it isn’t. Finding balance is the art of summer. 8 CHATTER

Jump in!

A new Eagan company is renting soft-play equipment for parties. 10 BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY

The placenta!

This incredible organ offers benefits for moms and babies. 12 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Spider web

Try this ingenious activity at your tot’s birthday party.



Bedtime tips

Now is the time to transition to a back-to-school sleep schedule. 16 WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM

Apocalypse now

How do I talk to my daughter about the problems facing us all? 18 ON BEHAVIOR

Under the radar

Some forms of bullying can go unnoticed by parents and teachers. 20 IN THE KITCHEN

Insider tips


Get your child ready for kindergarten with strategies from Twin Cities experts.


Fair play


August 2019 •

This low-sugar, flour-free recipe was a hit in our test kitchen. 22 BOOKSHELF

A state-fair veteran mom shares tips for fair-going, sorted by ages and stages.

The big day

Put first-day-of-school jitters to rest with these sweet stories. 50 FROM OUR READERS

Get schooled We’ve got the scoop on backto-school fashion trends from a mother of four, plus three cool backpacks to check out for fall.

Baked oatmeal


Jane and Maria Ries, ages 4 and 6, of Inver Grove Heights model backto-school clothes with their cousin, Joseph Capecchi, 5, of Woodbury.

Pro players

See your kids fishing, swinging and even eating cotton candy!


& About 45 Out CA L E N DA R

About our cover kid Name: Inari City: St. Paul Age: 8 Parents: Fayine Wako and Shamsi Saida Siblings: Sabona, 10, Sanyi, 3, Bontu and Bonstu, 2 Personality: Friendly and caring Favorite book: Little Miss Miss Favorite activities: Coloring, dancing and swimming Favorite foods: Takis chips, cupcakes and pasta Photos by Tracy Walsh /






SEPT 22 2019 7/23/19 5:00 PM • August 2019



Less is more I


Janis Hall •



Zoe Gahan •


Sarah Jackson •


Megan Devine, Katie Dohman, Ed Dykhuizen Shannon Keough, Laura Ramsborg Wyayn Rasmussen, Christina Ries, Brenda Taylor Tracy Walsh, Jen Wittes


Valerie Moe •




Amy Rash •


Hannah Dittberner 612-436-4389 •


Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 •


612-436-4360 • 40,000 copies of Minnesota Parent are printed monthly, available at 1,100 locations: Go to to get this magazine mailed to your home for $18 a year.

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 2019 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.


August 2019 •

s summer drawing to a close? If the State Fair is nearly here and Target has been selling Crayola products for weeks, I guess it is. I ask you, as I do every year, where did it all go? How did it go by so fast? And isn’t that just the perfect metaphor for parenting? And then there’s the way that summer ends — a too-soon-in-coming back-to-school season that only reminds us how short the years are. I can’t believe I have a … preschooler! Kindergartener! Middle schooler! Teen! High school senior! Every summer, I feel pressure to pack it all in before I lose another year, to make the memories while I can in our limited warmth. The festivals. The zoos. The fair. Sports practices and lessons. Playdates. Berry picking. Boating. Camping. Sprinkler time! In a way, that’s kind of what this month’s magazine is all about: We’ve got back-toschool stories, including one about clothes to swoon over for your kids (they’ll let you dress them only for so long, if ever—trust me), but we’ve also got parent tips for the State Fair and Ren Fest (and even more summer fun in the calendar). We’ve even got birthday party ideas! Indeed, this issue is positively PACKED with goodness for parents. It’s definitely pushing a more-is-more vibe, and that’s no accident. But I think, as parents, we also need to balance our last-gasp-of-summer, do-it-all, bucket-list mindset this time of year with a less-is-more mentality. Earlier this summer, I was determined to get out on a bike ride with my son. (My thought was: We HAVE TO go on a bike ride. It’s summer! We can’t go all summer with no bike ride!) But just as we were mobilizing to get going, a group of girlfriends invited me to go sit by the outdoor pool at the gym with them. “Just bring your son,” they said. So we dropped everything and went. My son didn’t have a friend to play with, so I jumped in the water with him and I swam my heart out. We played catch, did handstands, mastered somersaults and raced. (He did cannonballs.) We were just … together. We splurged on food from the cafe. I talked with my friends a bit while my son played on my phone. He and I were in and out of the pool for the better part of four hours. It was magical. It was the best part of my summer. It was spontaneous and fun. And it wasn’t even on my summer bucket list! Sarah Jackson, Editor

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Sarah Jackson


Pop-up parties! Stuck trying to think of a fun birthday party plan for your tot? Then check out Tyke Invite, a new pop-up play service founded by Minnesota mom Angel Carroll. Based in Eagan, Tyke Invite rents soft-play equipment geared toward infants, toddlers and preschoolers up to age 5. We’re talking tike-sized play modules, foam flooring, rocking horses and ball pools (which can be customized to specific color palettes) — all set up for you, outside or indoors. Rental fees — $250–$500, plus delivery fees of $20–$50 — include three hours of playtime and timely setup and breakdown of play structures, which are sanitized between events with non-toxic products. Learn more at For more party ideas, see page 42 of this issue.

↑ Photos courtesy of Tyke Invite Photos courtesy of Hammer Head Swim Caps →


August 2019 •

A safer swim cap Head injuries are a real issue in the pool, especially in competitive swimming. Fortunately, a Twin Cities company is working to change that locally — and around the world — with its revolutionary Hammer Head Swim Caps, which have recently received a slew of endorsements, including a nod from the American Swimming Coaches Association. Hammer Head’s co-founders — business partners David Burns of Edina and Theresa Finn of Plymouth — have been working to bring the caps to market since they witnessed two head injuries in a single swim practice in 2013. “My daughter — 8 at the time — was one of 40 kids at our practice when she smacked her head into the wall doing the backstroke and, at that moment, I wasn’t a coach; I was instantly turned into father mode,” Burns said. As Burns was trying to console his daughter, another girl, 14, hit her head and suffered a mild concussion. Burns said later to his swim team: “What do I have to do for you guys to do the backstroke right? Get you a helmet?” His daughter, Madeline, replied, “Yes, please.” He said: “There’s no such thing.” And that’s when the idea was born. Lined with a layer of honeycomb chambers — invisible from the exterior — the compression-molded silicone caps can absorb and dissipate the shock from accidental head strikes with the pool wall or even other swimmers. Available in three sizes for ages 2 to adult (all $34.95), the caps have no seams or wrinkles. Learn more at

Jen Wittes


The incredible placenta L

et’s cut to the chase. The placenta is freaking amazing. It is the only organ that is spontaneously created … and then involuntarily disposed of. It gives your baby nutrients, oxygen and an umbilical cord. It removes waste from Baby’s blood and filters out toxins. Your hormones tell you to make this thing simply because you are pregnant. Completely amazing. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about, or even thinking about, the placenta. That makes sense. With a baby on the way, it’s more fun to pick nursery colors, fold teeny tiny onesies and overanalyze a list of possible middle names. A baby is cute. A placenta looks like a lumpy, veiny oversized raw steak. But it’s really cool! Let’s talk about it.

When there’s a problem. In most cases, your placenta will work beautifully. It will attach properly to the upper wall of your uterus, grow, pulse and give your budding fetus everything it needs to thrive. Occasionally, a placenta can cause problems — the most common of which is placenta previa. This is when the new


August 2019 •

organ attaches so low down that it covers all or part of the cervix (the opening of the uterus to the vagina). If the placenta grows over the entire opening, a Cesarean section is an inevitability. If it only partially obstructs the cervix, it may move out of the way in time for a vaginal birth. Placenta previa can be diagnosed with an ultrasound. If placenta previa is detected, your care provider will help you make a plan. Placenta abruption, or a partial detachment of the placenta from the uterus, is as common as placenta previa: Both occur in about 1% of pregnancies. However, placenta abruption is much more dangerous and is the leading cause of death in unborn babies. This is because the amount of oxygen delivered to the fetus is reduced. Placenta accreta is somewhat the opposite of placenta abruption. It is when the placenta grows too deeply into the wall of the uterus. It’s more common in mothers who have scar tissue from previous surgeries. The main risk of this condition is excessive bleeding after the birth. The placenta, and in extreme cases the uterus, may have to be removed

Because you can’t dress your placenta wound or slather it in Neosporin, your only line of defense is good rest, good food and plenty of water. surgically to stop the bleeding. If you have continuous, premature contractions or vaginal bleeding, you may have a placenta issue and should contact your care provider immediately.

Wound care = self-care Again: The placenta is a spontaneously generated organ. It attaches to the uterus. It is disposed of, delivered, really, shortly after the birth. The place where it has attached and then detached leaves a wound. Because you can’t dress your placenta wound or slather it with Neosporin, your only line of defense is good rest, good food and plenty of water. The bleeding and discharge you experience after birth doesn’t come from the baby’s wild ride through your birth canal, but rather from that placenta wound. This is why Cesarean moms bleed just as much as those who birth vaginally. If your discharge consistently gets lighter in both flow and color after the birth — but then goes back to bright red — you may have reopened your placenta wound. You’ve done too much, too soon and you need to go back to bed. Take the time to heal. If you bleed through more than two pads in one hour, call your care provider.


EXERCISE PREGNANCY STUDY The University of Minnesota is seeking women who are currently less than 20 weeks pregnant to participate in a research study examining the effect of exercise and wellness on mood following childbirth.

• Program delivered to you via the mail and phone

• Programa ejecutado vía correo o teléfono

• Must be 18 years of age or older

• Debe ser mayor o igual a 18 años de edad

• Must not currently exercise regularly

• No debe hacer ejercicio regularmente

• Must not take antidepressants

• No debe tomar antidepresivos

• You will receive $100 & a FitBit for your time (you will be allowed to keep the FitBit after the study is over)

• Usted recibirá $100 y un FitBit por su tiempo (será permitido quedarse con el FitBit después de la culminación del estudio)

• Program can be delivered in English or Spanish

• Debe considerarse de bajos ingresos, lo cual se define como:

• Must be considered low-income, defined as: - Enrollment in any government assisted program (e.g., WIC, SNAP)

↑↑The proposed benefits of taking placenta capsules include lower incidents of postpartum mood disorders.

Just … eat it? No exploration of the (totally amazing) placenta would be complete without a little talk of eating your afterbirth — a fairly common practice among wild mammals that is growing in popularity with modern, evolved humans. I’ve known mamas who have eaten a bite raw, immediately after giving birth. I’ve heard tales of placenta smoothies. You can Google a recipe for placenta lasagna. The most common way to ingest your placenta today, thankfully, is by capsule — like a vitamin. There are many placenta encapsulation services in the Twin Cities. They will pick up your placenta and will dry, powder and encapsulate it in a sterile environment. The proposed benefits of taking placenta capsules include higher levels of oxytocin (love hormone), lower stress hormones, faster involution (shrinkage of the uterus to pre-pregnancy size), better moods and lower incidents of postpartum mood disorders. Some women freeze half of their capsules to use as hormone therapy during menopause. Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two living in St. Paul.

La Universidad de Minnesota está buscando mujeres con menos de 20 semanas de embarazo para participar en el estudio de investigación que examina los efectos del ejercicio y la salud del estado de ánimo posterior al parto

AND/OR - Annual income that is considered low (less than $45,510 for a family of four, less than $30,044 for a family of two, and less than $22,311 if single). English: Call or TEXT to 612-345-0325 or to see if you qualify for this research study.

- Inscripta en cualquier programa asistencial del gobierno (por ejemplo, WIC, SNAP) Y/O - Ingresos anuales considerados como bajos (menos de $ 45,510 para una familia de cuatro, menos de $ 30,044 para una familia de dos y menos de $ 22,311 si es soltera). Español: Llamada o TEXTO 612-237-1004 o para ver si califica para éste estudio.

U of M - Kinesiology Dept MNP 0318 S3.indd 2

2/14/18 11:13 AM



Where young animal lovers get involved. Rescue Readers, service projects, day camps, and more. For information and registration visit • August 2019


Shannon Keough


Tips for easier toddler parties! I

t happens every year, without fail — your little ray of sunshine’s birthday! It’s a momentous occasion, and it needs to be commemorated. But how? In the baby/early toddler years, I would argue that your child’s birthday celebrations can be more focused on you, the parent. After all, they’re tiny — it’s not like they’re going to remember that painstakingly planned Paw Patrol theme party or the elaborate rainbow-layered unicorn cake you spent an entire day assembling. Therefore, I urge you to be a little selfish when it comes to planning birthday parties for very small children. Are you an introverted sort? A cozy celebration at home with immediate family is perfectly sufficient. Miss your pre-baby social life? Reserve a corner table on the patio at the Black Forest Inn and invite all those friends you haven’t seen in two years.

Timing Of course, planning a party for a child forces you to consider factors that were probably never an issue in your preparenthood life. For example, inopportune nap times most likely didn’t prevent any of your friends from attending your


August 2019 •

dinner parties in your child-free years. Now, you might be surprised just how many parents decline your invites due to sleep-schedule complexities. But first: How long should a toddler party last? What day of the week is best? What time of day is “safest?” A toddler party doesn’t need to be long; maybe two hours, tops. It probably has to happen on a weekend, because no parent in their right mind is going to haul their antsy 3-year-old to a late-afternoon party on a Tuesday. And as for the time of day, that’s up for debate. I’m a fan of 1–3 p.m. — it gives you time to prepare, it’s after lunch and it doesn’t bleed into the early evening time of toddler insanity. However, it’s also prime nap time for many little kids. So you might try 10 a.m.– noon, depending on your guests. Push it any later, and you’re going to feel the pressure to provide something resembling lunch.

Location Home-based parties are ideal for the toddler set. It’s fairly easy to keep them contained in the living room/fenced-in yard/basement playroom, giving the parents a bit of a break. The downside (at least for people like me) is that you have to clean your house. Off-site locations like parks or neighborhood rec centers are other low-key options. A playground provides the necessary entertainment; add some snacks and cake and you’re done. Or for a small-ish fee, you can rent space in a rec center, an arrangement that often includes some kid-friendly activities or gym space for running your squad of manic toddlers. “Destination” parties (trampoline parks, museums and other major-attraction venues) can be amazing for the right kids, but they’re generally wasted on the toddler demographic. At their worst, they impose greatly on the parents: With kids too young to be left to their own devices, the

parents must follow them around a loud, crowded space and then drag them away screaming at a preordained time to sit in a windowless room to eat pizza that tastes like cardboard. Also, you’ll probably get roped into plenty of destination parties as your children get older, so you might as well avoid them while you can.

Entertainment Want to keep your toddlers occupied and also create some good photo ops? Try a yarn “spider web.” If you have six kids, get six different colors of yarn. Find some prizes (perhaps irritating slide whistles?), tie them to the end of each piece of yarn and hide them somewhere in your chosen room. Then take the yarn and weave it around the room (twist around door knobs, chair legs) and perhaps attach a plastic spider to the other end of the yarn. Repeat with all the other colors, creating a “spider web.” When the kids arrive, assign each of them a color. Then explain that their goal is to untangle their piece of the web to find their prize. Trust me, this can keep them occupied for a long time. In the meantime, take this opportunity to offer your adult guests a cup of coffee or a bloody Mary and talk about all the preposterous kid parties you’re not hosting.

If your baby was or will be born between August 1 and November 30, 2019 we invite you to join a clinical study. The study requires 5 visits over 2 weeks and babies must weigh less than 14 lbs. Receive up to $700, PLUS diapers and wipes at no cost during the study.

Shannon Keough lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to Comprehensive Research Group MNP 0819 V2.indd 1

6/4/19 4:30 PM • August 2019


The power of good sleep I

t’s August! It’s time to enjoy the peak of the summer season. But it’s also time to start thinking about transitioning back to school. Very soon I’ll be back in my classroom, preparing for a new set of students and embarking on my 19th year as an educator! Throughout my teaching tenure, through both a combination of continuing education and first-hand experience, I’ve learned a lot about child development. One thing I know for sure is how important sleep is to our children’s school success. The National Sleep Foundation puts it this way: “To thrive academically, kids need to have energy and the ability to focus, concentrate, retain information and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires kids to control impulses and manage emotions and behavior to keep on track. All of these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.” Individual sleep needs vary, but according to the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, school-age children need about 10 hours of sleep a day. Ensuring your children get the sleep they need is one of the most crucial things

you can do as a parent to help them thrive in school. This can certainly be a challenge, especially this time of year when the weather is warm and daylight extends into the evening hours. Here are some tips to create an environment conducive to good sleep — geared toward school-age children — from Dr. Craig Canapari, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center and author of It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Train: The LowStress Way to High-Quality Sleep for Babies, Kids and Parents. Good bedrooms, according to Canapari, are: Dark: If your child’s room is bright enough to read in, it’s too bright to sleep in. This isn’t a problem for us in Minnesota between October and April, but between May and September when we have more light, it’s a big challenge. Canapari recommends blackout shades or even bed tents, which can eliminate or at least reduce light to help your child sleep. sells inexpensive blackout curtains (starting at $5 per panel), which also provide some insulation. IKEA sells a Kura bed tent for $20.


If your child’s room is bright enough to read in, it’s too bright to sleep in. Quiet: Sounds, which are often out of our control, can be a major cause of nighttime or early morning awakenings, which can negatively affect sleep. Canapari recommends sound masking — the process of adding background sound to reduce noise distractions — for children’s bedrooms. At our house, running a fan has helped; you could also use a white noise machine such as the Marpac Dohm Classic, which creates sound using a fan-based system that doesn’t move any air. Unplugged: This is huge. Establishing and modeling a screen-free bedtime routine is extremely important in helping our kids develop healthy sleep habits. In the early 2000s, research focused on the negative effects associated with televisions in children’s bedrooms, including sleep problems and childhood obesity. Current research is exposing how smartphones, tablets and computers are even more corrosive to sleep than TVs.

A new local book

Daisy Finds Her Pack is the perfect back-to-school book for early elementary kids (or even preschoolers) because it 1) features adorable dogs; 2) celebrates the subtle art of making friends and gaining social skills; 3) it’s a project by not one, but two Minnesota Parent sales reps, author Kathie Smith and illustrator Michele Gillman. Bonus: It’s the first book in a children’s series designed by Smith — who spent 20 years as an educator — to help kids, including those on the autism spectrum. Meet the creators during a signing from 1–3 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Calhoun Village Barnes & Noble, Minneapolis. $18.95 •


August 2019 •

Find more bedtime solutions for families in Dr. Craig Canapari’s new book, It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Train: The Low-Stress Way to High-Quality Sleep for Babies, Kids and Parents. $15.99 •

Canapari recommends these rules for devices and media around sleep: • No television, electronics or electronic media for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to bedtime. • No electronics in children’s bedrooms during sleep hours, period. • Set a good example. Grown-ups should follow these rules, too, to encourage buy-in from their kids. Despite the lingering warmth of the season, now is the time to reflect on your child’s sleep environment and work to make proactive transitions to set up your child for school success. Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines — at MacPhail Center for Music MNP 0619 2-3.indd 1

5/14/19 11:53 AM • August 2019


Katie Dohman


Existential parenting I

’ve always been a little … shall we say … existential? Even as a small child, I asked my mom about when the sun would blow up. She’d always tell me that it was so far into the future, it wasn’t even something we had to worry about. I worried about children 10,000 generations in the future anyway. What would happen to them? Turns out, the sun wasn’t really the thing I should have been worrying about. Recently, I’ve seen some headlines that I — me, Queen of Apocalyptica and Good Cheer — hadn’t imagined I’d see in my lifetime. Polar ice sheets melting at record rates. Untold numbers of species dying within our lifetimes. Chemicals from plastic giving toddlers speech delays. Glyphosate in Cheerios. Happy summer, everyone! The End Times publishing schedule seems to be careening toward terminal velocity, so it’s everywhere. I know these aren’t pleasant topics to think or talk about, and by writing this, I know I’m adding to the cacophony. But the truth is, I’ve been thinking about writing this column for a year — the fact that these are indeed really strange times to be a parent. Alongside the daily juggle of making sure I attend to all the paper-signings and bag-packings and appointment-makings — that reminds me, I never re-scheduled my son’s 4-year checkup! Cool! I’m on it! I never miss a detail! — I’m also evaluating, at least for my oldest, who is 6, what the age-appropriate “need to know” basis is for the stuff she might overhear on the radio or at school or floating through the air (in digital particles we’ll later find out humans were never meant to live near).


August 2019 •

Two of the Dohmans’ three kids stopped to wonder what their parents were thinking buying a fixer-upper in the Twin Cities.

I won’t lie to her, but I don’t think it serves any of us to be overly detailed. Problem is, I’m not always sure where that boundary lies. The Common Sense Media article How to Talk to Kids About Difficult Subjects (tinyurl. com/mnp-subjects) provides some guidance. But such tips aren’t always easy to recall in the moment. After the election, my panic was such that I couldn’t even tell her who won. When she finally asked me if Hillary won when I was putting her to bed one night, I burst into tears. I’ve talked to her about race relations, abortion, whether God exists. But I can’t tell her about the babies at the border. I will. I just can’t right now. We’ve had so many conversations in which she asks the perfectly logical question: “But why would people do that?” And I have no answer.

In this world of back-to-back panic attacks, my husband, William, joined the Arbor Day Foundation and planted several trees in our yard. My heart grew when I realized what he’d done. We plant trees, never knowing if we’ll see them to maturity. They’re an investment in the future. We’re listening to The Lorax. I’m re-watching Mad Men right now, which reminded me how falling-apart and chaotic the world felt in the 1960s, too. But still they planted trees, ones that are mature now, providing shade for our house. Speaking of our house, last year we bought our dream home, which happens to be in really-not-dreamy shape. We’re down to the studs in many of the rooms, knowing this will be a lifelong labor of love.


International School of MN MNP 0818 H6.indd 1

7/12/18 2:25 PM

Tracy Walsh Photography MNP 0419 H6.indd 1

3/7/19 4:29 PM

Keys/phone locator! Oh, the stress and time I have saved with a Tile. I hit a button on my phone or my keys, which then beeps the phone or keys, so I can find them — fast. $25 •

It would have been easier to stay in our former home. But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to shine it up — to show our children the reward that comes from taking care of something and making it your own. They don’t fully understand why we would have moved into such a dump when we had a perfectly fine house and a custom-made playhouse in the backyard. Like Maggie Smith writes in her poem, Good Bones: I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real shithole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful. Whenever my squirrel brain starts scampering too far into the future, I think: We have to plant our trees today. We have to fortify good bones. That’s what we can do. Katie Dohman is currently living in the midst of a full-house renovation with her three kids, two pets and one husband. Follow her adventures at • August 2019


Wyayn Rasmussen


Beware of passive bullying A

new school year is about to start. And that means some parents might be getting a little nervous about letting their children go into the halls of the unknown: Will my child fit in? Make friends? Be nice to others? No one ever wants to think of their child as the bully. While bullying is commonly defined as seeking to “harm, intimidate or coerce someone perceived as vulnerable,” there’s another, less-talked-about form of bullying, and it can be just as damaging — passive bullying. Passive bullying is the purposeful ignoring of someone perceived as vulnerable. It’s walking past an individual in the hallway and not making eye contact or saying hello. It’s not sitting with a fellow student in the cafeteria, or sitting at the table with them, but not including them in the conversation. It’s not choosing a child to be a partner when the teacher says, “Get in groups of three.” It’s not inviting someone to your child’s birthday party because they’re different. To be fair, most parents don’t know who the “different” children at school are. Their own children don’t mention them, so how could they know? This oversight has led to the phenomenon of passive bullying. Passive bullying can be hard to spot. A child with a social or academic disability might not be aware they’re being left out, but it can take a toll on their self-esteem and mental health. Passive bullying can lead to anxiety, depression, absenteeism and ultimately failure to thrive in the very environment designed to prepare kids for success. So what can you do as a parent of a more typical child?


August 2019 •

There are many ways to identify and prevent passive bullying, and it’s critical to do so for the mental health of all students as well as the long-term health of our society.

PARENTS ⊲ Seek opportunities for your child to be in an inclusive environment. ⊲ Ask your child’s teacher for a class roster and purposefully invite the child who otherwise would get left out to your child’s birthday party. ⊲ Invite a child with an academic or social difference over for a playdate with your child, and don’t forget their parents. Parents of children with disabilities are just as left out as their children. It can be a lonely world. Have the first play date be short so it can be successful, maybe 30 minutes in total. Ask the parents about any special interests and design an activity around this interest.

⊲ Join a Unified Sports team. These Special Olympics-inspired teams join people with and without disabilities on the same team. The idea is this: Training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. At the Academy of Whole Learning in Minnetonka — a K–12 private school for kids with autism and related learning differences — we partner with Breck High School students on our unified flag football team. And we’ve been state champions for three of the past four years!

TEACHERS ⊲ Encourage your school to form a Unified Sports Special Olympics team. Or better yet, take the lead and form one yourself. ⊲ Become aware of passive bullying. Include passive bullying as a form of bullying when you teach about bullying prevention.

⊲ Use creative ways to get your students into groups, such as by birthday, height order or alphabetically by middle name. Never ask students to choose their own groups. ⊲ Highlight the strengths of your students with learning differences. Is one an incredible drummer? Is another highly knowledgeable in sports statistics? Or maybe a child in your class holds the highest score on a popular video game? Ask the parents. Every student has strengths,

but maybe not among the traditional academic strengths we typically measure and esteem. ⊲ Ensure different and diverse students are fully included in student government, performances and on the sports field. ⊲ Share this article with your students’ parents. As parents, we can be the spark to change our children’s learning environment and the society in which we all learn. Inclusion

will never occur organically; it must be purposefully designed. Respect and understanding grow when students of diverse abilities and backgrounds play, socialize and learn together. Take the leap and include all children and their parents. We will all be the better for it. Wyayn Rasmussen is the executive director of the Academy of Whole Learning in Minnetonka, Minnesota’s only K–12 private school for children with autism and related learning differences. Learn more at • August 2019


Brenda Taylor



BAKED BLUEBERRY OATMEAL OATMEAL 2 cups old-fashioned oats ⅔ cup roughly chopped pecans ½ teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ cup packed brown sugar 1¾ cups milk (almond, coconut and oat milks work, too) ⅓ cup maple syrup or honey 2 large eggs or egg substitute such as flax eggs 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil, divided 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 12 ounces or 1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries 2 teaspoons sugar CRUNCH TOPPING 2 tablespoons butter 1⁄4 cup packed brown sugar 1⁄2 cup old-fashioned oats (pulsed a few times in a food processor) 1⁄4 cup almond meal or whole wheat flour 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 pinch of salt 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans


August 2019 •

PREHEAT the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9-inch-square baking dish. WHISK together the oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg and brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl. COMBINE the milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and half of the butter in another bowl and whisk until blended. RESERVE about 1⁄4 cup of the berries for topping; then arrange the remaining berries evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the fruit with the dry oat mixture; then drizzle the wet ingredients over the oats. JIGGLE the baking dish to make sure the milk mixture moves down through the oats, then gently pat down any dry oats resting on top. Let this rest while making the crunch topping. MIX butter, brown sugar, oats, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, salt and chopped pecans until a crumbly mixture forms. CRUMBLE topping over the oatmeal mixture in the baking dish; then scatter the remaining berries across the top. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top for some extra sweetness and crunch. BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden. LET COOL and drizzle with remaining melted butter, before serving with yogurt, whipped cream or additional fresh fruit. It rewarms easily in the microwave or you can serve it chilled.

Brenda Taylor is a graphic designer for Minnesota Parent. She adapted this recipe from the Cookie & Kate blog. Find gluten-free, vegan and nutfree variations at cookieandkate. com/baked-oatmeal-recipe.

Ed Dykhuizen


First day of school! In the life of a kid, few things bring on such a strong range of feelings — from terror-tinged dread to excited anticipation and everything in between! Check out these stories to help your little ones emotionally prepare for the big day.

The title character is an absolute charmer, a hero who’s bursting with confidence and excitement about starting kindergarten. His positive spin on each event of the day provides a great example for kids who might be nervous or unsure of what to expect.

Little Rosie has been looking forward to starting kindergarten, but the night before the big day, her stomach starts hurting. Her mom tells her it’s butterflies. Throughout the day the butterflies leave as Rosie tackles each challenge and she eventually starts helping other kids with their butterflies.

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Ed Dykhuizen is an associate editor at Minnesota Parent and father of three, who lives in St. Paul.


August 2019 • • August 2019


Too cool Embrace the back-to-school season — and fall fun, too — with these playful clothing lines for kids! By Christina Ries

Photo courtesy of Macy's


August 2019 •



It’s easy to get in the back-to-school/fall spirit with copper hues and woodland critters. Target’s Cat & Jack brand includes a mustard-colored owl-print dress for toddler girls ($8) and an olive-green girls jumpsuit ($17.99). Meanwhile Boden is trotting out an embroidered fox shirt to match those fall pumpkins ($30).


L’Amour Shoes reinforces that color palette (above) with its Ollie Stitch Down Leather Mary Janes in a trio of warm seasonal hues — red, brown and rose gold ($48); Oscar Nubuck Leather Double Velcro Sneakers in navy ($52); Joy Vintage Inspired Stitch Down T-Strap Mary Janes in mustard ($52); and Tyler Stitch Down Leather Lace Up Shoes in navy ($48). Rich textures also conjure a traditional autumn feel, with lots of knits and corduroys, including JoJo Maman Bebe’s corduroy pants (below) in mustard, navy, raspberry and seaspray blue ($34), plus embroidery and fluffy appliques like the British brand’s woolymammoth shirt ($29).

Another seasonal element making a big splash this month — farm scenes! Mini Boden’s farmyard sweater presents tractors, cows and sheep in a charming Fair Isle design ($60). Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s Closet, a Chicago-based boutique, is selling show-stopping twirl dresses sized from infant to age 12 ($49–$69) with farm patterns (above) that will inspire you to hit the nearest orchard to snap swoon-worthy pictures for Instagram. But the animal themes on children’s clothing this fall don’t stop at the barn. Back-to-school shoppers will encounter a veritable smorgasbord (to quote Templeton the rat). Mini Boden’s Awesome Animal shirts feature a frog, a snail or (at right) a stunning frill-necked lizard ($30). Dinosaurs will have a strong presence too, including a dino-print camp shirt ($30) from Macy’s Epic Threads line (opposite page). Meanwhile, Joules’ Peter Rabbit collection offers a softer look for toddlers, with an applique top-and-pants set among other outfits ($44.95).

That leads to another springtime favorite hitting the shelves this season — florals! Joules’ signature florals take on a fresh back-to-school flair when paired with navies and mustards, such as its new Harbour Print jersey top (above), available for ages 3–12 ($24.95). JoJo Maman Bebe’s long-sleeved shirts with embroidered Peter Pan collars ($24) — which have been modeled by Princess Charlotte — range in size from 6 months–6 years and also feature botanical motifs.

This is where you see the color palette dip into the neon and embrace the pastels we associate with spring, including a surprising showing of sage green in a charming floral suspender skirt by Elizabeth’s Closet ($42, above).


Rainbow and unicorn lovers won’t be disappointed this fall. Boden’s magenta jersey dress ($45) features two unicorns connected by a rainbow, while Cat & Jack’s navy bomber ($24.99) is covered in rainbows and topped off with brightly striped collar and cuffs — the kind of jacket that will delight young, starry-eyed rainbow gazers while pleasing parents with its throwback vibe. • August 2019


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And that’s only the beginning of a heavy dose of retro! Janie & Jack’s boys line includes many varsity-style tops and hats, many in navy and maroon, one featuring a bulldog ($54, at right). Macy’s is offering a reversible Epic

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Threads bomber jacket for girls ($56, above). Meanwhile, Mini-Boden’s gender-neutral knit sweater ($60) — with chevron stripes in a muted red, blue and cream — also feels delightfully retro. Christina Ries lives with her husband and fourth children in Inver Grove Heights. Check out her blog at charmed, where you can view photos of all the items mentioned here.

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Ready for


August 2019 •

Stressed about your kid’s first year of school? Check out these tips from teachers who know all about the big, wide world of kindergarten!

By Laura Ramsborg


he transition to kindergarten is a big deal — whether you’re preparing your first child, the last in your brood or your cherished only. The biggest question on your mind is likely, “Is she ready?” Especially now, when it seems like kindergarten readiness is about more than being able to sit for story time and play nicely with other kids (although that’s definitely important). In addition to social skills, kids must learn school procedures and routines, how to interact with diverse peers and tackle academics. Yes, you read that right: Academics. Increased academic expectations are now a part of kindergarten. (See gov/MDE/dse/stds for details.) With all of these elements to consider, we picked the brains of three expert educators from Bloomington Public Schools to compile the best insider tips for preparing your kiddo for kinder, including Erin Hanson, an 18-year veteran of kindergarten teaching; Emily Ostern, an experienced kindergarten teacher turned district literacy coach; and Jeanna Miller, the

district’s director of early earning services. When it comes to defining kindergarten readiness, the Minnesota Department of Education requirements are sparse: A child must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 and immunized. However, the state does provide standards for specific milestones children should reach throughout early childhood, which are called Early Childhood Indicators of Progress. Miller and her team work to add specifics to the state’s definitions. She highlights the importance of preliteracy skills as well as social-emotional skills such as independence, self-help and problem-solving. “Children who understand how to learn are more ready for school than those who know rote knowledge, such as recognizing letters,” she said. “Both are optimal.”

Foster a love of reading Preliteracy skills include oral language development and motivation to read. These skills can be cultivated by talking to your kids as much as possible, beyond • August 2019


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directives such as, “Clean up your toys. Put on your shoes.” Ostern recommends taking your child to places like the post office, grocery store or car wash, and using the time together to have a conversation. Ask open-ended questions, notice things around you, say silly rhymes (like the Name Game; see and play games like I Spy or 20 Questions. As much as possible, use regular vocabulary with your kids; try not to water down your language with unique or cutesy phrases. 10:03 AM During a child’s early literacy years, motivation to read is largely based on positive reading experiences. Cuddle up with your kiddo and a good book you both enjoy. Sharing a great story together — as well as the individual attention and closeness reading provides — helps build positive feelings and attitudes about reading. Ostern suggests talking about the book and asking questions, such as “What do you think might happen next?” or “Why do you think the main character did that? What do you think she should have done?” Visit the local library to check out books and also purchase books for your child, if possible. Spending time and money on reading conveys that it’s worthwhile and valuable.

Experts recommend practicing using scissors and holding a pencil at home before starting kindergarten.


August 2019 •

Build some skills Beyond developing some preliteracy skills, there are things parents and kids can work on before kindergarten. These are the top items, according to our experts: ⊲ Building oral language skills/talking ⊲ Exposure to rhyming (Dr. Seuss-type books, songs) ⊲ Recognizing and writing her/his name in upper and lowercase letters ⊲ Some experience with letters (knowing at least half of the letter names), letter sounds and numbers ⊲ Counting ⊲ Ability to cut using scissors ⊲ Ability to hold a pencil ⊲ Fine motor skills: Ostern recommends Play-Doh, slime, hole punchers, lacing games and working on the floor — tummies down and elbows up — to strengthen fine-motor muscles.

Encourage independence Independence is one of the most important traits you can help your child develop prior to starting school. “The shift from being one of one/two/ three (however many children are at home) to one of 24 children, all vying for help and attention, can be significant,”


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Hanson said. “Encouraging them to do as much for themselves as possible is important for building their sense of pride and self-reliance.” When your child asks you to do something for her, figure out if it’s a request she could take care of on her own. If you’re not sure, encourage her to try herself before asking for help (as long as it’s safe) and to think about how she can solve a potential problem. Also work with your kiddo to make sure he can put on and take off his own shoes, jacket, sweatshirt and winter gear. Practice zipping, packing and unpacking a backpack and even opening and closing food packaging. Make sure your child is proficient with bathroom wiping and hygiene. (Bonus: Successful handwashing can reduce your exposure to all the nasty bugs that sweep through the school.)

Develop social skills In addition to building independence, build your child’s social-emotional skills. Peer interaction encompasses a large portion of these skills, such as taking turns, sharing and waiting. Being able to sit and focus for a short period of time (5 to 10 minutes) is helpful as well as the ability to follow single-step instructions. Playing card or board games with your child can help immensely with building

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Practicing fine-motor skills can help kids prepare for school.

social-emotional skills as well as teaching and modeling good sportsmanship. When you play games together, try to win! “If your child is accustomed to winning because that is what happens when they play with their loving adults, it is very difficult when they play with classmates and do not always win,” Hanson said. Finally, allow your kids to be bored sometimes. Although it can be tempting (hey, we’ve all been there), try to avoid supplying the easy distraction a device offers. Ostern emphasizes the importance of imaginative play and time outdoors in fostering a variety of skills in kids, including social-emotional skills and a fascination with learning. “If kids are able to come into school with these skills, are able to interact with their peers and be independent, they will take off academically,” Ostern said.

Prepare for exhaustion As your child adjusts to attending school every day, she may be completely exhausted. At school, children are taking so much in, learning a ton and interacting with others all day long. It’s not uncommon for kids to fall asleep hours earlier than normal, especially at the beginning of the year. To help your kinder


August 2019 •

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transition to a full day at school, nighttime routines are critical. Ostern said, “A consistent bedtime is huge.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 6–12 years require 9–12 hours of sleep for optimal health. For a new kindergartener, aim on the high end of this requirement. Consider what time your kindergartener needs to wake up each morning and count backward to ensure he is getting enough sleep. Allow enough time for bedtime routines (as well as bedtime procrastination) and limit screen time in the evening hours.

Be ready for emotions Hanson said it’s OK to cry — both for you and your kiddo — during the massive milestone that is kindergarten. “It could be the first time a child is spending this much time away from home (sometimes more waking hours at school than at home),” she said. “Having mixed emotions about it is OK.” You may also notice changes in your child’s behavior at home. School requires a lot from kids — focusing attention, following directions, interacting with peers and a great deal of learning. Your child is working hard to stay engaged for many hours at a time. It’s completely normal for

a kid to crash or “lose it” once she returns to the comforting normalcy of home. “Kids try so hard to hold it together at school all day,” Hanson said. “Sometimes that means school gets their ‘best,’ and at home, they don’t have anything left to give.” Big feelings and a lot of emotion aren’t just normal; they’re to be expected. When kids are experiencing a lot of emotions, and perhaps acting out in response, it can be helpful to know they’re not intending to give you a hard time — they’re having a hard time. Plan on providing some extra attention, a listening ear and big hugs to reassure and comfort your kid.

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Trust the teacher Teachers want to collaborate with all families, and they work hard to ensure open communication is a priority. “Parents and caregivers are critical partners in our efforts to ensure all children are ready for the next step in their school journey,” Miller said. “Our team works tirelessly to meet each child where she or he is, and to help him or her grow as much as possible.” Hanson added: “Always feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher. No question or concern is a silly question or concern.” If a practice or protocol seems confusing or unclear to you or your student, your teacher wants to know how you feel — and can talk you through it. Teachers are very intentional with the classroom procedures they create and there’s usually a purpose behind their decisions, especially when it comes to navigating a classroom of 20 or more 5- and 6-year-olds. The most important thing parents need to know before sending their children off to kindergarten, Hanson said, is this: “Your child’s kindergarten teacher will teach them, encourage them and care for them: They will love your child like their own.” Laura Ramsborg is a literacy coach, writer and mother of three daughters. She lives and works in Bloomington. Follow her on Twitter at @Ms.RamsborgReads.

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How to do the



August 2019 •

• Go back a second time as grownups. Leave Baby with Grandma. Make this a ritual so you can continue to “do you” at the fair through the upcoming parenting years.

TODDLERS (1–5 YEARS) This is a super-fun age for fair-going. The fair is wonderful, but also presents prime conditions for a Level 4 meltdown. An early start is good, depending on your kiddo. (The Kemps Little Farm Hands attraction opens at 8 a.m., followed by the Kidway rides at 9 a.m.)

INFANTS (0–12 MONTHS) If the combination of huge crowds and your baby (and her accompanying gear and stroller) make you nervous, get to the fair early. Really early. Gates open at 6 a.m. You can move freely before the temperatures rise, settle in and strategize in the calm. Most attractions open at 9 a.m., but the Food Building, select barns and other sites open at 8 a.m. Some food vendors open even earlier. If you’re a chill parent (maybe this is Baby No. 3) with a comfy baby carrier and a go-with-the flow infant, go at the time of the day that works best for your family. Remember, fair admission is free for ages 4 and younger.

Do, see, eat

The buzz is building! Happy State Fair month, Minnesota parents! To prepare you for the bittersweet end-of-summer fun fest, we’ve created a guide to getting the best out of the fair with your kids — at any age.

Photo by Sarah Jackson

Do, see, eat • Little Farm Hands. The toddler years are perfect for this fair favorite. Your tot will love “working” the farm and trading in earnings for something yummy at the General Store. • The Family Fair at Baldwin Park brings you the Alpha Bet Forest, Math-on-aStick, crafts, Fair Hair and a big, shaded stage featuring dance, magic, juggling and music from kid-friendly artists such as the Okee Dokee Brothers. It’s a kid party, away from the fray. Perfect for both the toddler who loves to boogie and the toddler who just needs to chill out. • Tractor-made ice cream (close to the Family Fair) is a lesson in physics, agriculture and yum. Pizza on a stick by the Mighty Midway is also a best bet for cheese-loving tods.

• Tiny babies will enjoy looking around at the art and the agriculture buildings — mellow, cool, with lots of colors and shapes. • Older infants will love the baby animals, especially early in the morning before the crowds arrive. • Apple cider freezies (Agriculture Building) and fresh fruit smoothies are basically frozen baby food and don’t require teeth!

Pro tips • This is your chance to start a tradition with an “every year” picture in front of a fair landmark. The Super Slide? Fairborne or Fairchild mascot statue? You pick.

Pro tips • The State Fair Parade begins at 2 p.m. each day and travels by the Kidway. Hoist your cutie onto your shoulders and enjoy a slice of Americana. This is a nice way to end the toddler day. • August 2019


SCHOOL KIDS (6–10) This is an important time, fair-going Minnesota parents. You are raising proud State Fair enthusiasts! This is the age to push the limits of stamina and begin training for full morning-to-midnight trips to the fair. Go until you can’t go anymore and then refuel with a Pronto Pup and go more! Go more than one day!

Do, see, eat • The Miracle of Birth Center is in-yourface education. Wow! Gross! Awwww, how cute! Inspire all of these emotions and more as you watch cows, pigs and sheep give birth. If you’re lucky enough to catch a live birth, your family might get the honor of naming the newborn! • Midway games. This is as good a time as any to spend $50 on a $2 Pikachu plush. It’s for the fun of it, right? The best games for enjoyment-to-frequent-win ratio include the Alien Blasters (Ghost Busters) ballshooting game and the roll-the-ball horse game. High-frustration-high-reward (big animal) games include the ring toss and anything involving a baseball or a softball.

attention. Sharing is caring. Time to drink the Kool Aid ice cold milk ($2 all-you-candrink at the dairy booth on the corner of Judson and Clough). Bring a gallon Ziploc bag to stash the insane overflow of cookies so you can put the lid on the pail!

Pro tips • The laser light show at the North gate is right near the giant Ferris wheel, which is spectacular at night. Plan to do those back to back. • Kids Days and Library Card Days make multiple trips to the fair more affordable. Find all the discount days at

TWEENS AND TEENS (11–18) A lot will depend on your child’s level of maturity. This group loves tradition, adventure and independence. Keep your routine, slightly boring perusal of the DNR fish. But try new things, too. Expect that they’ll want to go on rides that make you sick. Tolerate their desire to meet up with friends along the way.

Do, see, eat • This is a great age group for the International Bazaar — live music, eclectic and affordable shopping, daring foods. • Eat everything. Pork Chop on a Stick, Pickle Dog, of course cheese curds and — a classic teen favorite — fries.

Pro tips • Need to budget? Let your older, in-theknow kid pick one food, one ride and one Midway game. There’s plenty to see that’s free, so set simple limits on the rest. • If you’re not ready to let your tween or teen attend the fair solo, let them have some freedom within semi-close proximity. Establish check-in points every hour or so while they explore the fairgrounds with friends or siblings. The payoff? You’ll get to grab yourself a wine slushie and catch up with an old friend or peruse the fine arts exhibit at your leisure. Jen Wittes is a mom of two, who lives near the fairgrounds in St. Paul, so she goes to the fair — a lot. Read her award-winning story about the founder of Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Martha Rossini Olson, at

BUYING TICKETS: The Minnesota State Fair will be Aug. 22–Sept. 2 at the fairgrounds in St. Paul (officially Falcon Heights). Gate admission will be $15 for ages 13–64, $13 for age 65 and older and ages 5–12 and free for ages 4 and younger. But you can buy $12 tickets — through Aug. 21 — at and select stores, such as Cub. • If you’ve avoided our dear Sweet Martha through the toddler years, it’s time to give in. Cookie pails in happy, chocolatestained hands are a brilliant marketing scheme that will certainly catch your kid’s


August 2019 •

Photo by Jen Wittes

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Simp ly Ren Fest with the kids? Yep. Follow these momtested planning tips for exploring the grounds with your littles! By Christina Ries



ic a l

he Minnesota Renaissance Festival is the perfect place to spark kids’ imaginations and bring their fairy tales to life. They’ll feel as if they’re stepping into an enchanted European village — think Belle’s opening song in Beauty and the Beast — with sunlight streaming through towering oaks, pennant flags and cottage-like storefronts. They can see mermaids, fairies, princesses and a unicorn. As they wander, they’ll encounter a range of less-classifiable mystical creatures — some with horns, body paint and accents — scattered throughout the sprawling, sun-speckled village, popping out behind trees, singing and dancing at random and greeting children with great enthusiasm. The entire scene bursts with wonder. • August 2019


But there are some things parents need to know to navigate this local tradition now in its 49th year in Shakopee, running weekends Aug. 17–Sept. 29. (In 2021, the festival will move — due to a lease expiration — possibly to a site in nearby Jordan.) Here are our top tips for bringing young children to the largest Renaissance festival in the U.S. (with an annual attendance of 300,000!): Buy tickets in advance. At the gate, adult tickets are $24.95 and admission for kids (considered ages 5–12) is $15.95. Purchased online in advance, they’re about $3 off ($21.95/$13.50). Ages 4 and younger can attend for free. Having your tickets in hand will also help you avoid the lines that can form at the ticket booths. Prepare for a slow entrance. There’s usually a long line to enter the grounds. Pack books, toys or games to occupy the kids. This is the hardest part for us, as our drive itself is long enough and the long line extends our outing time. Getting there right when it opens can help, especially if you have tickets in hand. Wear sturdy shoes. The grounds are clean, but dusty. The parking lot is an unpaved, ungraded field

with tall grasses. Stable shoes — that you don’t mind getting dirty — are a must for parents and kids. Choose a theme weekend. PetFest is Sept. 14–15 this year. We’ve attended this weekend before, and our kids loved seeing all the dogs. This year the theme for the opening weekend (Aug. 17–18) is the Bold North Vikings Invasion, which includes a longbow competition, a hot-dish-eating contest, a tug-of-war and a tattoo competition. Wear costumes! Anything goes. Repurpose old Halloween costumes, whip together a pirate outfit, dig out a princess dress or fairy wings and/or cobble together a makeshift flower crown, so you can avoid buying one there. Grab a crown or cape or toy sword. Over the years, we’ve dressed three different kids in a Peter Pan costume, which doubles as Robin Hood when riding around the village on Dad’s shoulders. I’ve also tried my hand at face painting to add to the fun. Ditch the stroller. The grounds are bumpy and crowded. If you can swing it, it’ll be much easier to put the baby in a carrier. Some areas, such as the Fairy Wing Forest, don’t allow strollers anyway.

Make parking easier. There are buses throughout the parking area. Instead of walking all the way to the entrance, you can wait at a bus flag and get a ride. (Just don’t forget where you parked!) If you’re arriving in the afternoon, you can try driving up to the entrance to see if a few spots opened after early visitors left. Sign up for hair braiding. If this would be fun for your little one (and you don’t mind paying the fee), get on the list right away; it fills up fast. There are two vendors on site who braid hair. Head to the Mermaid Cove. Located by the Queen’s Pub, this is always our first stop. It’s a must for any mermaidbelieving child. The line can be long, but it moves relatively quickly. It’s free, and each young visitor gets a gemstone from the mermaid near the exit. Learn to juggle! Right outside the Mermaid Cove is a juggling-school booth where kids can try their hand and get some pointers. Explore the Fairy Wing Forest. Attentive kids will spot clues that show fairies are present throughout this vast, understated grove near the Mermaid Cove. There are games, a yarn art project and complimentary apples. Toward the end, you’ll encounter a few fairies. Meet the Princess Court. They’re based in the newly redesigned Palace Gardens. Admire their gowns and jewels and stay for story time at the new Fairytale Story Corner.


August 2019 •

Watch the jousting. This is performed throughout the day at the jousting track near Shepherd’s Green, with full-armored jousting at 1 and 3 p.m. Cheer on your favorite knight! Find the french fries. Ren Fest may be famous for turkey legs, but you can also find chicken fingers and fries at multiple locations. If you don’t want to buy food there, pack a cooler and leave it in your car for a midday break. (Just remember to get hand stamps on your way out.) Bringing sippy cups or small snacks in a diaper bag won’t be an issue. (When we’ve gone with very young kids, we’ve avoided food altogether, keeping our visit on the shorter side. The entire scene can be tiring. Short and sweet works best for toddlers!) Visit the petting zoo. Near Shepherd’s Green, you can hug a kangaroo, hand-feed a grape to a ringtail lemur or pet a porcupine. There are also reptiles nearby, including snakes, turtles and alligators. Also, you can ride an elephant (for a fee). Toddlers must ride with a paying adult. See a show. Take in a kid-friendly act such as The Danger Committee (performing all day on

Bakery Stage), Tuey the Juggler (on the Tree Top Stage) or the Wacky Chickens, who perform throughout the grounds. Do a little project. Head across the grounds to the Children’s Realm to hang out for a while. Skip the animal-balloon booth (which costs $2–$4) and take advantage of the free Kid Craft Corner to make your own fairy wand or pirate hat. There’s also a play space with a rope swing and slide — a good spot to change a diaper. Meet Magic the Unicorn! Located right by the Children’s Realm, you can touch this mellow pony (shown above) and take your picture.

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

What: Explore a faux 16th-century European village featuring 16 stages of live entertainment, more than 250 marketplace artisans, kid-friendly rides and games, a petting zoo, artist demonstrations, roaming characters and live armored jousting, plus beer, wine and food vendors. When: Saturdays and Sundays Aug. 17–Sept. 29 rain or shine, Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2) and Friday, Sept. 27. Where: Shakopee Cost: $24.95 for adults, $15.95 for ages 5–12 and free for ages 4 and younger; advance tickets cost $21.95/$13.50. Info:

Leave early. The grounds, open 9 a.m.–7 p.m., get rowdier as the day goes on. There’s also a longer traffic jam at night when many people leave at once. In fact, if you hear the official day-end cannon boom, you’re in for a long wait to extract yourself from the grounds; so use the bathroom, change the diapers and dig out the emergency snacks.

Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and four children age 6 and younger in Inver Grove Heights. Read her blog at • August 2019



Bunker Park Stables Your GO TO modern and clean horse facility for the safest and most fun horse and pony parties. Available for all ages. Hay and sleigh rides available. Make your event unforgettable! Andover • 763-757-9445

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Have a birthday bash to remember at Como! We offer seven unique party themes for kids ages 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. St. Paul • 651-487-8272

Eagles Nest Indoor Playground We make hosting a birthday party a piece of cake. Featuring over 285 school age elements and an exclusive preschool play area. Reservations are now available online! New Brighton • 651-638-2130

Firefighters Hall & Museum Our mission is to preserve the history of firefighting and promote home and fire safety education. Our museum contains


August 2019 •

many historical items going back to the 1860’s, as well as hands on exhibits for patrons to see and touch. Minneapolis • 612-623-3817

Ginger Sprouts Portrait Parties Come ready for the best, and Ginger Sprouts does the rest! Ginger Sprouts takes the hassle out of party planning and offers a themed venue, professional photos, and engaging activities. Minneapolis • 612-845-9461

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, slime, and many more. Ask about our FREE GIFT BAG OFFER! Eden Prairie • 952-974-3438 Savage • 952-226-2200 Woodbury • 651-735-0880

Showers, Birthdays, Graduations, Weddings and School/Nonprofit events. Including a huge selection of foodservice, decorations, and the best balloons in town! Minneapolis • 612-343-4300

Minnesota Children’s Museum 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. St. Paul • 651-225-6000

Monkey House 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. White Bear Lake • 651-348-8233

Litin's Party Value

Park Tavern

We’ve MOVED! Come shop our bright new store with FREE PARKING. Family owned since 1967, Litin’s is the #1 choice for celebration/party supplies: Baby & Bridal

Park Tavern has been THE spot for food and fun in the Twin Cities for over 50 years. Whether you're looking for casual dining, entertaining guests, or watching the big

game, Park Tavern is right up your alley. St. Louis Park • 952-929-6810

Playworks There is no place to party like Playworks! Book your next party and enjoy all that the Atrium has to offer; an accommodating event space and great food options. If you’re looking to host an event, celebrate your child’s birthday, or attend a seasonal party, Playworks is the place for family entertainment! Prior Lake • 952-445-PLAY (7529)

Pump It Up 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! Eden Prairie • 952-943-0052 Plymouth • 763-553-0340

Science Museum of Minnesota 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. St. Paul • 651-221-9444

The Works Museum Explore engineering and design at The Works Museum. Enjoy hands-on activities in our experience gallery, check out our 115,000 piece K'NEX Ball Machine, and learn why parents love our camps and birthday parties. Free parking and an easyto-supervise layout. A small museum with big impact. Bloomington • 952-888-4262

Veterans Memorial Community Center (VMCC) The VMCC is the place to host your next special event, including birthday parties, family gatherings and business events! The VMCC offers an indoor water park, two ice arenas, a gymnasium that can hold up to 300 people, and several other community rooms! Make it a memorable party with the VMCC! Inver Grove Heights • 651-450-2480 • August 2019


Out & About AUGUST

Club Kiddo PLAY ⊲ A new Minneapolis-based kid apparel and art company, Club Kiddo, is launching with a pop-up interactive art event designed for kids and their families. When: Aug. 10–25 Where: CO Exhibitions, 1101 NE Stinson Blvd., Minneapolis Cost: Half-hour timeslots cost $5 for ages 12 and younger and $10 for ages 13 and older. Info:

AUG. 1–4

AUG. 2–4

⊲ See skateboarding, BMX and Moto X competitions at U.S. Bank Stadium, plus live musical performances at the Armory.

⊲ Experience — and even purchase — the work of 350 artists from around the country at this juried, 56th-annual event attended by 380,000 people every year.

X Games

Canadian Days

Uptown Art Fair

When: Aug. 1–4 Where: Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $15. Info:,

When: Aug. 2–4 Where: Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info:

When: Aug. 2–4 Where: Spooner Park, Little Canada Cost: All entertainment is FREE. The corn feed and pancake breakfast are free with the purchase of a $3 event button. Info:

Bike Rentals

Find Your spot

⊲ Little Canada’s festival celebrates its sister-city relationship with Thunder Bay, Ontario with a pancake breakfast, classic car show, 5k walk/run, parades, inflatables, a playland, fireworks and more.

Learning To Grow Academy

Como Lake: 651-487-8046 Minnehaha Falls: 612-729-2660 Lake Nokomis: 612-729-1127

Now offering infant, toddler and preschooler childcare!

Water Rentals

Como Lake: 651-487-8046 Lake Nokomis: 612-729-1127 Lake Harriet: 612-922-9226 Lake Calhoun: 612-823-5765




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Call 612-379-3105 to schedule a tour!

6716 Gleason Road, Edina 7/18/19 4:28 PM • August 2019

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AUG 4–12

Out & About AUG. 2–4

Legally Blonde (Abridged) ⊲⊲This musical production, based on the 2001 film, is a culmination of three weeks of intense work by students from the Northside and surrounding metro area. Ranging from ages 8–17, the students have studied ballet, tap, hip hop, voice and acting in preparation of their performances. When: Aug. 2–4 Where: Lundstrum Performing Arts, Minneapolis Cost: $12 Info:

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August 2019 •

New Brighton Stockyard Days ⊲⊲This year’s event will feature golf and softball tournaments, a medallion hunt, parades, street dances, a car show, swap meet, karaoke contest, food/craft vendors and the end of the 120-mile Antique Car Run. When: Aug. 4–12 Where: Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton Cost: FREE Info:

AUG. 7–25

Leo Lionni’s Inch by Inch ⊲⊲This Theatre for the Very Young performance lets energetic, chatty toddlers interact with an inchworm who can measure anything under the sun. Run time is about 40 minutes with no intermission. When: Aug. 7–25 Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins

Cost: $12 for ages 2 to adult Info:

AUG. 8

Cat Video Festival ⊲⊲Gather at St. Paul’s baseball field for music, fireworks, food, beer and 2019’s Cat Video Reel. When: Aug. 8; doors open at 6 p.m. Videos start at 8:30 p.m. Where: CHS Field, St. Paul Cost: $10; ages 5 and younger can attend for free. Info:

AUG. 9–11

Irish Fair of Minnesota ⊲⊲Listen to music, see dance performances and watch demonstrations at this annual festival celebrating all things Eire. When: Aug. 9–11 Where: Harriet Island, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

6/27/19 4:24 PM

Twin Cities Polish Festival

No New rth O & ffice Ea st Ms in etr o!

⊲ This annual event features two stages — a polka stage and a cultural stage — to showcase Polish music, dance and more, alongside food and beverage vendors and a variety of children’s activities, including a chance to pet a cuddly dog.

Hey Mama, You Matter! We offer: Individual & Couples Therapy Emotional Coping Skills Groups

When: Aug. 9–11 Where: 43 SE Main St., on the Mississippi Riverfront in Northeast Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info:

AUG. 10

IndiaFest ⊲ Experience performances by internationally acclaimed Minnesotabased Asian Indian dance groups, Indian cuisine from local restaurants, live Bollywood music, exhibits, cultural displays and an Indian bazaar. When: Aug. 10 Where: State Capitol Grounds, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

AUG. 15

Creative Happy Hour ⊲ Groove to live Afro-Latin music, learn some new dance moves and visit food trucks (the Habanero Tacos Grill and MN Nice Cream). There will also be a cash bar, a community art project, crafting stations, yard games and pop-up temporary murals by Rock Martinez. When: Aug. 15 Where: Bloomington Central Station Park Cost: FREE Info:

AUG. 17–18

Vadnais Heights Heritage Days ⊲ Check out live bands, a parade, a booya feed (a slow-cooked chicken, beef and vegetable stew), a bean bag

Pregnancy • Birthing Issues Postpartum Attachment • Trauma Parenting (0–30yrs) • Infertility Changing Roles • Work-Family Balance Pregnancy & Infant Loss

tournament, a pig roast, bingo, children’s entertainment, a kiddie parade, a car show, inflatables, food and merchandise vendors, fireworks, a senior picnic, softball tournaments and more. When: Aug. 17–18 Where: Community Park, Vadnais Heights Cost: FREE Info:

Postpartum Counseling Center

Metro Locations Locations 1010Metro Mostinsurance insurance accepted most accepted


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St. Paul Food Truck Festival ⊲ More than 40 food trucks will present their newest gastronomic offerings, craft beers and non-alcoholic beverages, alongside games and live music. When: Aug. 17 Where: Mears Park, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:


Mini Golf Bike rental

AUG. 18

Japanese Obon Festival

SurreY rental


⊲ Bonsai, martial arts, singing, dancing, drumming, food and a host of other cultural exhibits and demonstrations will line the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. When: Aug. 18 Where: Como Park, St. Paul Cost: $3–$5, free for ages 2 and younger Info:

6/13/19 1:34 PM

ice cream

(612) 861-9348 6335 Portland Ave S. Richfield, MN • August 2019

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Where: The Bakken Museum, Minneapolis Cost: $8–$10, free for ages 17 and younger Info:

Out & About

items and canned goods. When: Aug. 24–25 Where: Oliver Kelley Farm, Elk River Cost: Included with museum admission of $6–$12 Info:

AUG. 24–25

AUG. 20

Farm to Fair Weekend

The Science of Me

⊲ Explore the historic farmstead’s Machinery Hill and sample winning recipes from the 1860s. Then test your judging skills by evaluating entries, including fresh vegetables, baked

⊲ Meet leading scientists and engineers in fields related to the human body on this Family Fun Night. When: Aug. 20

MORE ONLINE! Find more events on the Minnesota Parent website at


Creative Kids Academy

Catalina’s Preschool Spanish Southwest Mpls/Linden Hills

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Ages 3–Adult



Free Preview Classes

Free Music, Spanish, Yoga, and Karate!

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Anoka * Apple Valley * Centerville * Lexington * Maple Grove Minnetonka * Mounds View * Orono NOW OPEN — Elk River! 763-777-9100

CHILDREN’S YAMAHA MUSIC SCHOOL 844-ckakids email: • 612-339-2255

Nationally accredited and Parent Aware 4 star rated

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Join us for: Lessons, Classes, Peformances The love of music!

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OPEN HOUSE: 5/15/15 10:45 AM OCT. 23, 4:30-7pm Tour the music studios

1524 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 651.224.2205 | |

8736 Nicollet Ave S, Bloomington

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Celebrating Over 40 Musical Years in Minnesota!

12/4/18 4:23 PM

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August 2019 •

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Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion

Great times for all ages at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

The largest selection of professional artists and performers in Minnesota!

Now offering infant child care in Hopkins!

Week-long camps June–August Behind-the-scenes experiences • Meet zookeepers and gardeners

Call 952-935-5588 and schedule a tour!

Locations in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and St. Paul PARTY PAGES

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7 themes to choose from For children ages 1+

Parties. Educational Programs. Corporate Events. Weddings. • 612-220-9962

Reserve your fun! 651.487.8272 or visit

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Portrait Parties

2/18/19 11:25 AM


Magical Themes your Child will Love

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7/14/17 4:09 PM


Choose band size &/or Panda! • Music for all ages available! • Special rates for flexible scheduling • (612) 861-3570

NEW Saturday morning classes! Music for K - 2 • Choirs for Grades 2 - 5 | 952-563-8572

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7/25/19 11:35 AM

6/22/17 Angelica 2:51 PM Cantani Youth Choir MNP 0819 3cx2.indd 1 • August 2019


7/17/19 2:30 PM


Kids about town Even though school is just around the corner, these kids show how much fun it is to get out there and explore and play!

WE HAVE A WINNER! Thanks to everyone who entered the Quarterdeck Resort giveaway from our June issue. Congrats to Rachel Tan of Savage, who won the two-night stay in a lakefront beach house on Gull Lake! Look for more chances to win family prizes at MNParentMag. ↑ Roman, 3, of New Brighton, at Al Flynn Park in Coon Rapids

↑ Nora, 4, of St. Paul, at Taylors Falls State Park

↑ Adhira, 7, of Eagan, at Summer Fest in Minnetonka

↑ Addison, 5, and Alexis, 7, of Plymouth, at the Minnesota State Fair

↑ Saswin, 4, of Eagan, at Thompson County Park in West St. Paul

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


August 2019 •

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