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NOVEMBER

VOLUME 34 /// ISSUE 11

TOYS W E T E ST E D A LL THE

Kid tested!

We’ve got the inside scoop on all the best toys for the holidays this year.

31

Bontu, 2, of St. Paul inspects the Kitty Camper Van, one of the top toys in our annual toy test.

Games Spend time together getting to know these new games that engage, entertain — and definitely challenge — all ages.

6

November 2019 • mnparent.com

46

Stocking stuffers Inexpensive, but super-fun, these gifts get you a big bang for your holiday bucks.

50


8 FROM THE EDITOR

16 SCHOOL DAYS

24 ON BEHAVIOR

You owe it to yourself to visit the toy experts at Twin Cities shops.

Here’s how to take charge of your health this time of year.

Our little terrorist made progress with this simple discipline trick.

10 CHATTER

18 WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM

Our little magpie

26 IN THE KITCHEN

Tiny things, found in the wild, were my daughter’s first toys.

Our editor shares her family’s super-secret holiday recipe.

20 #ADULTING

28 BOOKSHELF

Preemie news

How a professional organizer and a Roomba saved my sanity.

Better outcomes for early arrivals are on the way.

These keepsakes are destined to become beloved favorites.

22 ASK THE PEDIATRICIAN

58 FROM OUR READERS

Before offering meds, make sure these four factors are in check.

These kids don’t fear winter. In fact, they seem to love it!

Shop local!

Heartbreak These grief care packages can help when you just don’t know what to say or do. 12 BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY

14 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Tantrum triage

Step 1: Realize you’re not the cause of misbehavior.

CORRECTIONS In our September issue, the Out & About calendar item about Sever’s Fall Festival & Corn Maze listed its old location of Canterbury Park. It has moved to 3121 W 150th St., Shakopee, about 10 miles to the southwest.

Sick season

‘1-2-3 Magic’

Sugar cookies

I, robot

Gifts for readers

Is it ADHD?

ALSO INSIDE

Snow good

Out & About 54 52 Holiday CA L EN DA R CA L E N DA R

In our October issue, the In the Kitchen recipe had an incorrect byline. Olivia Volkman-Johnson wrote and developed the recipe for homemade hot pockets.

About our cover kid Name: Hunter City: Edina Age: 21/2 Parents: Rachael and Derek Sadowsky Siblings: Sister, Hudson, 4 Personality: Mellow and a jokester Favorite Toys: Anything Elmo! Favorite book: Elmo & Friends by Dicicco Studios Favorite Activities: Hunter loves hiding in closets and then scaring people. Favorite Foods: Raspberries and cheese pizza Photos by Tracy Walsh Photography / tracywalshphoto.com

mnparent.com • November 2019

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FROM THE EDITOR

Shop local! W

mnparent.com

PUBLISHER

Janis Hall • jhall@mnparent.com

SALES MANAGER AND CO-PUBLISHER

Terry Gahan • tgahan@mnparent.com

GENERAL MANAGER

Zoe Gahan • zgahan@mnparent.com

EDITOR

Sarah Jackson • editor@mnparent.com

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr. Gigi Chawla, Megan Devine, Katie Dohman, Ed Dykhuizen, Shannon Keough, Tina Mortimer, Tracy Walsh, Amanda Williams, Jen Wittes

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Valerie Moe • vmoe@mnparent.com

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Dani Cunningham

OFFICE MANAGER AND AD COORDINATOR

Amy Rash • arash@mnparent.com

CIRCULATION

Marlo Johnson 612-436-4388 • distribution@mnparent.com

ADVERTISING

612-436-4360 • sales@mnparent.com 40,000 copies of Minnesota Parent are printed monthly, available at 1,100 locations: mnparent.com/racks Go to mnparent.com/subscribe 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.

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November 2019 • mnparent.com

elcome, parents, to our annual Toy Issue, our official holiday gift guide, our map to all the things, sorted by age from baby to tween. This year, we’ve got quite a crop of gift ideas for you, a whopping 49 toys, 12 games and 6 stocking stuffers, all tested and approved by kids, parents and even a few grandparents — as part of our 10th-annual Toy Test. As we do every year, we hit up local and national toy stores. But this year, when it came time to talk to local toy vendors, we were even more aggressive than usual. Earlier this year — when all seven of the Creative Kidstuff stores closed — we worried it was the beginning of the end of local toy shopping. But as we talked to toy store owners, we learned that quite the opposite is true: Our metro area has dramatically rebounded in a matter of months with three new Legacy Toys stores, plus new stores in Wayzata (The Owl and the Octopus) and Minneapolis (Pinwheels and Play Toys). And that’s not counting all the other established stores — see Page 45 — that are going strong. We asked our local stores for their best ideas, their ultimate advice and, most important, their toy samples. And boy did they deliver: We tested a record-breaking 150 toys this year! So I want to encourage you to visit a local store this year for holiday shopping. I know it can be tempting to take our amazing (ahem) guide and use it as an online shopping list. But don’t do that. You’ll miss out on all the incredible expertise the staff at your neighborhood toy stores can provide. At local stores, you can ask questions face to face and try store floor models and hands-on samples, including ride-ons, textural toys and games, too. You can even bring the kids and see how they react. After all, our toy guide includes just a sampling of what’s available. Local store owners know their stuff and they care about kids. “We love what we do,” said Legacy Toys’ co-founder/co-owner Brad Ruoho, who is opening an enormous store at the MOA this month. “It’s where our heart is at. We want kids to socially interact with each other.” Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Saturday, Nov. 9 and many stores are featuring activities for families and special deals. So get out there. And, don’t forget to watch for coverage of our toy test on KARE 11 TV, which hosted — and filmed — our toy test this year. (Thank you, KARE 11.) Watch for stories between 6–7 a.m. Nov. 4–12 on KARE 11 Sunrise to see interviews with parents and kids and some of the testing action, too. Happy shopping! Sarah Jackson, Editor


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Sarah Jackson

CHATTER

Grief care packages When a loved one is grieving, finding the right thing to say or do can be stressful and frustrating. It can leave you feeling helpless, riddled with guilt or both. Fortunately, Catherine Hinz — a St. Paul mom who’s been through heartbreak of her own — has come up with a comforting and beautiful solution: Her new business, Beyond Words Co., offers multi-sensory mail-order care packages. Each box caters to a different essence and grief focus — such as rest and calm for someone in a state of shock, numbness or denial; anti-anxiety and stress relief for those experiencing disorientation and yearning; and renewal and peacefulness for individuals who are in a state of reorganization and

Photo by Tylt

starting a new life. Contents include healing bath, body and

Hinz (right), a longtime safety advocate

beauty products; healthy snacks and teas;

Expectations.” Another features themed

and self-reflection tools. One box, for

“You Are Brave: Burn Bright” matches and

and now the executive director for the

example, contains a gold foil-stamped

flying wish papers, which can be symboli-

Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety, has

notebook that says: “My List of Reasonable

cally lit and released.

a background uniquely suited to caring.

A Koo Koo giveaway! In celebration of the latest single releases

a party pages coloring book and a gold lamé

from Koo Koo Kanga Roo — Glitter, a

fanny pack.

hilarious anthem about the controversial

Though bandmates Bryan Atchison and

craft staple, and Hot Sauce, a funky little

Neil Olstad (right) are based in Hopkins and

hip-hop ditty — we’re giving away four

Minneapolis, respectively, their smart-goofy,

tickets (a $72 value) to an all-ages Koo Koo

educational kid songs have made them

show at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Cedar Cultural

world-famous, including their “brain breaks”

Center in Minneapolis.

on the GoNoodle YouTube channel, which

Our grand prize winner — plus three runners-up — will also receive a Koo

is used in local schools. Enter to win by emailing a photo of your

Koo-themed swag package (valued at $51),

kid listening to live music to editor@

including a kids’ T-shirt, pencils, stickers, two

mnparent.com. Be sure to use the subject

free song downloads (Glitter and Hot Sauce),

line #kookoo and include your child’s first

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November 2019 • mnparent.com


FAMILY ESTATE PLANNING It’s never too early to start planning for the future. Let’s head into 2020 with a plan and peace of mind.

Portrait by Jessica Mealy

On her company bio page, she said:

Call today to schedule a free consultation.

“Whatever the source of grief, my hope is that you are lifted higher from those depths,

AREAS OF PRACTICE

find a moment of comfort you need and

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discover the courage you have within to get through each hard day.”

An estate plan from Schromen Law will provide you and your family immeasurable peace of mind.

Find boxes, which cost $54–$98, at beyondwordsco.com, where you’ll also find a list of things to say in times of despair, organized by grief category.

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name, age, city and the live band’s name. Deadline: 5 p.m. Friday, Nov 22. If you don’t win, you can of course still go to the concert on Nov. 29 (tickets $15–$18). Adult fans can also catch a 21-and-older concert at The Turf Club in St. Paul on Nov. 30 (tickets $17), also featuring the The4onthefloor and The Shackletons. Watch for the Hot Sauce video debut on Minnesota Parent’s Facebook page this month. Listen to the latest from Koo Koo Kanga Roo at kookookangaroo.com. mnparent.com • November 2019

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Jen Wittes

BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY

Good news for preemies

I

t’s one of the “scary thoughts” that plagues expectant parents the most: “What if my baby comes early? What if my baby comes really early?” About 500,000 preterm infants are born each year in the U.S. That’s about 10% of all births. The number is steadily increasing, in part due to the increased prevalence of fertility treatments, resulting in more multiples. The increase in preemies is also due to resuscitating even smaller babies than in the past and improving success rates. That’s something to ease those fears! More early arrivals are surviving. Breathing issues are the most common complications faced by preemies. Almost all humans born at fewer than 28 weeks will need some breathing support. And guess what? Some of the most cuttingedge breathing-support technology for preterm babies is being developed and implemented right here in Minnesota.

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November 2019 • mnparent.com

Dr. Kari Roberts is a neonatologist serving the NICU at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. She’s devoted much of the past several years of her life to researching and developing ways to minimize stress and pain for babies undergoing airway procedures in the NICU. Less stress leads to healthier babies and better outcomes. Roberts said she chose her field of study because, “NICU is an incredibly unique opportunity to have both intense moments of making big medical decisions and the slow quiet process of watching babies learn to feed and grow. It’s an environment where I get to spend time with the families, walking through the highs and lows. I spend months with them — bonding with the parents and caring for the babies. It’s a very intense experience for parents and it’s fulfilling to walk them through this time,” Roberts said.

Breathing issues are the most common complications faced by preemies. Almost all humans born at fewer than 28 weeks will need some breathing support. Her current project focuses on minimizing — with the goal of eventually eliminating — the need for intubation, which can be invasive, stressful and painful for babies while also rendering babies dependent on a machine for respiration. This is a hot topic in the medical community as many neonatologists are moving away from intubation. Roberts and several others in her field are


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BABY STUFF

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turning to a Laryngeal Mask Airway, or LMA — a simple device that’s easier to place than intubation equipment. The LMA delivers surfactant, the greasy lining for the lungs’ air sacks, which is precisely what premature babies are missing. Inability to produce surfactant at birth is the reason preemies need respiratory support. “The problem now is that the LMA (equipment) on the market is too big for babies less than 28 weeks’ gestation,” Roberts said. “We are missing that age group between 25 and 28 weeks.” Roberts is currently in the final stages of producing a specialized LMA designed to fit those younger preemies. Again, her focus is on making the experience better and more effective for the baby, which results in a better experience for the whole family. Roberts presents her methods and research at conferences around the world. When asked if she has any advice for parents of preemies, Roberts — who has been with the University of Minnesota since 2006 — said: “Just know that it’s going to be a long, emotional journey and that the people providing care for your baby are going to walk through it hand-in-hand with you.” Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two living in St. Paul.

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mnparent.com • November 2019

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Shannon Keough

THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

You: Not in control T

his column was going to be about tantrums — why they happen, how to avoid them and what to do when they inevitably occur. I read a bunch of articles and consulted my favorite parenting books. I Googled “Paula Bomer and tantrums” to see if Bomer (one of my favorite writers) had any enlightening thoughts on the subject. I couldn’t find anything pithy and quotable, but she has so much parenting- and life-related wisdom to offer in the form of her fiction. (Please read Baby and Other Stories, Nine Months and Inside Madeleine — if you dare.) Anyway, tantrums. One hard parenting truth that’s driven home every time your toddler hurls himself onto the floor in some crowded public venue, screaming and flailing around for reasons unknown, is this: You are not in control. You are not in control now, you never were and you never will be. This can be a tough pill to swallow when, not so very long ago, you seemed to have all the control in the relationship. That is, when your child was still a baby. Babies are helpless; they depend on us for their survival. We define their world. Then your baby starts to talk and walk and exercise his own free will. He transforms into a toddler — a frustrated toddler with “big feelings” that he’s happy to unleash on the other diners at George and the Dragon. (Thoughts: Don’t we all continue to have “big feelings” for the rest of our lives? We just learn to repress them or hopefully “process” them in a healthy way — or maybe we don’t do either and turn into Donald Trump.) If we’re truly honest with ourselves, one of the big lessons we can take away from

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November 2019 • mnparent.com

tantrums is this: This is not about you. It’s tempting to engage in masochistic narcissism when you have a young child. (Seriously, what else is there to do?) As your child melts down spectacularly in the Hy-Vee bread aisle, you might ask yourself: What did I do to cause this tantrum? What can I do to stop it? What is wrong with my child? The short answer? Nothing. When searching for ways to “handle” tantrums (or other troubling childhood behaviors) what we’re often really searching for is a way to control the narrative. Maybe if we do everything “right” it will all be OK. Our children will be happy and well adjusted, our marriages will thrive, our futures will include sunny beach vacations and graduations from good colleges and peaceful old-age deaths surrounded by family and friends. And maybe, for the lucky few, it will be

this way. But for anyone who has lost a child or a spouse or dealt with other unforeseen tragedies, life is clearly, terribly out of our control. And no amount of “positive parenting” or mindfulness training or non-GMO cereal is going to change that. So as far as I can tell, considering the sword of Damocles that hangs above us all, the only thing we can really do for our kids is love them. (You can also read the sidebar, at right.) Of course, figuring out what that means in your day-to-day life — for example, during a glass-shattering tantrum — is one of the defining struggles of parenthood. Godspeed. Shannon Keough lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com.


TODDLER STUFF

Reusable art toy

So many art kits are “one and done.” But this one — Crayola’s Scribble Scrubbie Pets Beauty Salon — comes with two pets you can color and then clean with a little bathtub, spray bottle and brush. And then you can do it all again! $14.99 • target.com

DEALING WITH TANTRUMS

December 13–15, 2019 | Ames Center | ON SALE NOW

Sleepless in America: If you’re like me and suspect that the majority of society’s ills can be directly linked to lack of sleep, author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is your guru. She makes a persuasive argument that tantrums (as well as other childhood “misbehaviors”) are directly linked to insufficient sleep, and offers strategies for helping your entire family get the sleep it needs. The book’s subtitle asks: Is Your Child Misbehaving … or Missing Sleep?

“One of the 12 Essential Holiday Season Events”

Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: Billed as a guide to strategies for the first five years, this book is a great resource for all your toddlerrelated questions. Laura Davis and Janis Keyser — in their supportive, nonjudgmental style — present everything you need to know about tantrums, including why they happen, strategies for preventing them and how to respond when they inevitably occur.

— MPR

Come see this beloved holiday classic with a Minnesota twist!

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Ballet Royale MN MNP 1119 H4.indd 1

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Janetlansbury.com: “Tantrums are not the enemy. They are actually the cure,” says Janet Lansbury in an episode of her popular podcast (tinyurl.com/janet-tantrums). She explains how tantrums can actually be a positive thing, that they’re essential for allowing children to “blow off steam” (my words, not hers) and stresses that children’s tantrums are not deliberately manipulative. mnparent.com • November 2019

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Staying healthy this season he holidays are fast approaching. As a working mom with four busy kids, I’m certainly a work in progress when it comes to navigating this time of year with grace. The onset of winter — with its increased darkness and lower temperatures combined with the increased obligations associated with holiday festivities (spending and traveling to name a few) — can certainly put stress on our minds and bodies, especially our immune systems. But it’s not too early to be proactive when it comes to maintaining, or maybe even developing, habits that will contribute to your family’s well-being throughout the fullness of the holiday season. Join me in my efforts to stay healthy and grounded with these recommendations: Wash your hands. It may sound like a no-brainer, but in family life sometimes you need to hold each other (both kids and grown-ups) accountable. Washing your hands with regular soap and running water is a highly effective way to stop the spread of germs and bacteria. It helps you stay healthy, but it also helps others, especially those with weakened or

Photo courtesy of Simply Recipes

T

compromised immune systems who may come in contact with germs YOU may be spreading if you don’t wash them off. Keep sanitizer (ideally with at least 60% alcohol) available for when you’re on the go. Pack a small bottle in your purse, in the car and stash some in your child’s backpack. And be sure to also wash your hands when you eventually gain access to soap and water. Stay hydrated. My athlete daughter is my role model for this one. I’m better at drinking coffee. I also have a bad, but often necessary, habit of limiting my fluid intake due to limited opportunities for bathroom

breaks in my profession as a kindergarten teacher. But I’m trying to make drinking water more of a priority for my personal health. Staying hydrated helps our bodies naturally eliminate toxins and waste materials. Drinking water also helps our immune systems fight infection. Get enough sleep. This can be difficult with busy schedules, sporting events, programs and holiday parties. Dr. Eric J. Olson, an M.D. from the Mayo Clinic, points out that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast

SCHOOL-AGE STUFF

Book-making site

If your kids’ art is cluttering up your house, you can digitize it and publish it as a keepsake using a variety of cool apps such as ArtKive, Canvsly or Keepy. But we recently stumbled on a cheaper path: Bookemon! It’s a website (not an app) — and the interface isn’t swish — but you can put together photo books (and more) for far less. One mom who tried it told us her book (pictured) cost $54.38 (including taxes and shipping) while the same book with Artkive would have cost her $173 (and still would have required editing). $6.99 and up • bookemon.com

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November 2019 • mnparent.com


you recover if you do get sick. The optimal amount of sleep recommended by the Mayo Clinic is 7–8 hours for most adults, 9–10 hours for teenagers and 10 or more hours for school-aged children. Eat fruits and vegetables. The holiday season often provides much temptation and opportunity to overindulge on rich or carbohydrate-loaded treats. Make a point to incorporate colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet to boost your immunity with nature-made nutrients. Discover a variety of seasonal produce ideas for November at tinyurl.com/novseasonalproduce. Exercise. Find something that gets every individual in your family moving, ideally for a total of 60 minutes each day. It could be a structured activity like sports or a fitness class or something as simple as taking the dog for a walk or playing outside. Physical activity is crucially important for your family’s health and wellness. Find more winter-survival tips at minnesotaparent.com/thrive.

Tracy Walsh Photography MNP 0419 H6.indd 1

3/7/19 4:29 PM

Have realistic expectations. Chances are slim that we’re all going to experience Hallmark-quality holidays. During the holidays, there’s always the potential for family drama and tension, stomach bugs and sniffles, stress and disappointment. If you set the bar too high, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and you might miss out on the joy associated with the season. Keep your expectations in line with reality and control what you can control. A great place to start is to take proactive measures with your family’s physical and mental health. This can help you feel your best so you can enjoy your holiday experiences and make the positive memories that we all desire. 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 megdevine.com. mnparent.com • November 2019

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Katie Dohman

WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM

A collection of tiny things I

remember how, and roughly when, it started because of what she wore: an adorable double-breasted coral-and-whitestriped coat (pictured), a gift from my best friend, that I would put her in as often as possible. Ruby was 18 months old. She loved her little wooden push-cart, and we would push it up and down our sidewalk each afternoon. Eventually, the only aim of these trips was hunting for little objects that caught her eye: a pretty leaf, an oblong rock with a stripe across its middle, flotsam left behind by the big kids, like bubble-gum wrappers. (I know, ew. But there was no gum.) Over time, the collection grew. It was eclectic. A marble. A hyper-miniature shoe for a very small fairy doll — she didn’t care much for the doll, but the one shoe made the cut. A penny. A seashell. A tie-dye superball. This tiny traveling museum of fascinations really fascinated me. My little magpie daughter was the curator of a collection of “tiny things,” which is what she called them — so that’s what my husband, William, and I called them, too. It wouldn’t be far off to say it resembled a Minnesota kitchen junk drawer, but it was treasure to her. Meanwhile, expensive toys procured by grandparents and friends languished in the corners of our house, unloved. It was also around this time that I realized she could start to entertain herself on her own for a few minutes at a time — a blessed relief and milestone for parents — which she did regularly with her tiny things: lining them up, naming them, re-categorizing them. Sometimes there was some kind of imaginative game, conducted in the vein of how I played with Barbies.

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November 2019 • mnparent.com

I would find her lying on the rug in her bedroom, talking or singing quietly, rearranging them on the floor. She was always on the lookout for the right carrying case — a little vintage kiss-lock tapestry cigarette case, a free-gift Clinique makeup bag and even a camoprinted insulated lunch bag, which came from my dad. All to hopefully never leave a single one behind at a restaurant, in the car or at her Mema and Papa’s house. Soon my brain became the catalog of — and

GPS for — which tiny things we had, where they might all be, anticipating their next “lost” location. Then I realized Shopkins and their ilk existed. I knew she’d go crazy for them, but I also remember feeling a moment’s hesitation before suggesting them for a birthday gift or showing them to her myself. In a real Gen X move, I thought her pure, ragtag collection of tiny things would be commodified and corrupted by the Toy Industrial Complex.


MOM STUFF

Local lip balm

Twin Cities-based Kind Lips is on a mission to make the world a better place with its 100% natural, gluten-free, cruelty-free, organic lip balm — available in tasty flavors like Georgia Peach, Sweet Mint and others, plus unscented. In addition to its mantra to #saysomethingkind, the brand is spreading goodwill by donating 20% of its proceeds to anti-bullying organizations. $15 for a three-pack kindlips.com

Suffice it to say, William built her some custom shelves to hold all her tiny things as Retail Tiny Things came into view. The collection became too unwieldy to go everywhere, but it remained a favorite pastime, and she still decorates her little dollhouse with her tiny things. To me, this era will always be this very special part of her childhood, locked away in the baby bubble where she was incorruptible, safe, free to be just herself. I will always remember the first time I realized she was playing alone, entranced on her bedroom rug. That was back when we played restaurant, pretending to make lemonade from the tiny lemon on a weekend afternoon; when nearly her whole toddlerhood was ahead of us; when it was just William and her and me, before her brothers. We would take our time ranking our favorite new tiny things at bedtime, and she would run her little fingers over each one before lining them up on the edge of her lofted bed, and cuddling with me to fall asleep. 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 instagram.com/dohmicile. US Dept of Health MNP 2012 NR2 Filler V2.indd 1

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Amanda Williams

#ADULTING

Winning at housework H

ousekeeping’s never been my jam. But I finally realized, after eight years of trying to maintain my own home, that I needed to outsource some of the work. With three boys, a dog, two cats and all the hair I seemed to be shedding, my home had become a minefield of cereal, crumbs, dirt and more — daily. I could sweep and pick up all day and still fall behind the epic mess-making of our gang. I wanted to deep clean, too. But how was I going to do that without ever conquering the daily dish mountain? Laundry day is all week. My children do more wardrobe changes than the hosts at the Oscars. And so I say this without melodrama: Steve and Tammy saved my sanity. Who are they? Let me explain:

STEVE On Black Friday, I gifted myself an iRobot Roomba 670 — $194.99 after getting $100 off. It was a bargain and I was done with having 1,800 square feet of hard floors to keep clean. Upon opening the packaging, I read that the machine came with a partial charge, so I pushed the circular button blinking the word “Clean.” Steve — that’s what I named “him” — sprang musically to life. And 43 minutes later, he beep-booped back to his charging station having completed his first “job.” It was love. At first, life with Steve was a bit like having a new child in the home. He got tangled in cords and started picking up Nerf darts and biting off the foam ends. Like a preschooler, Steve was always

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underfoot when I was cooking supper and doing dishes. Before I learned to schedule cleanings when I was away, I’d find myself hopping nimbly over him, as not to interrupt his path of intended vacuuming. But we’ve adapted well to each other. My kids enjoy taunting him: “Steve, come and get me!” And feeding him: “Mom! Steve loves eating Nerds!” Steve does require some attention — I once received a message of imminent import: “Steve is stuck on a cliff!” I immediately began thinking where he could wander into such circumstances in my single-level home. A short search for my beloved Steve led me to find him perched precariously on ... our plush bath mat. It was a close call, I’m not sure how that ½-inch fall would have affected him. While I still need to clean corners — Steve, a basic model, doesn’t do about a

Steve — that’s what I named ‘him’ — sprang musically to life. And 43 minutes later, he beep-booped back to his charging station having completed his first ‘job.’ It was love. 2-inch diagonal in corners — he destroys hair and dust. He cleans under the bed and has eradicated an entire colony of dust bunnies. (You can find way fancier models that do clean corners for up to $1,099.99 at irobot.com.) With Steve, I can schedule cleanings while I’m away: After all, he is still a vacuum and does make some noise. He also requires us to robot-proof the house,


Tammy made me more self-aware of my needless keeping of junk — and I felt empowered to toss items feverishly.

Spreading Hope to Families of Micro-Preemie Babies, One Potato at a Time. thepotatoheadproject.org

The Potato Head Project MNP 2017 Filler 12.indd 1

which equates to modest pickup patrol — removing socks from the hallway, sweeping LEGO bricks from the floor and trying to save Nerf darts before they’re gobbled up. A tip for saving money: Don’t buy virtual walls. Just roll up a towel or place a basket in the robot’s path (totally effective and free). Despite all of this, Steve is, hands-down, the best leg-up in housekeeping I’ve had since I paid my friend $50 to clean for me. (Which I also recommend if you have those rare friends who enjoy cleaning and run mostly on Caribou and smiles.)

TAMMY My second gift to my sanity was Tammy, a CPO — “certified professional organizer” — with her own company, We Love Messes! She came in with a bubbly hello and a tool belt and we got to work organizing my office. Wielding her Sharpie, she Post-it posted and pile-sorted while I made cutthroat decisions about which of the 900 magazines I would read or not. I hauled out a bag of garbage and donated piles of books. Tammy made me more self-aware of my needless keeping of junk — and I felt empowered to toss items feverishly. Ultimately, it felt like a friend was there, but with the added advantage of not

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having to subject any of my comrades to the mundane and dusty task of sifting through my stuff. Tammy is akin to a personal trainer, but instead of getting your booty in shape, it’s your home that will benefit from the hard work! Alas, even after three hours of clutterclearing in my office, I still couldn’t do yoga in there, which was a goal. Though I could now access my desk and the closet, and had twice as much usable space, there was still work to be done. So Tammy created a to-do list for me — and, my apologies if you’re reading this, Tammy — it’s still not done. I need to make a second appointment and I’m excited to invest in making my home more relaxing and efficient. Tammy, whose three-hour session for me cost $200, has clients in California and elsewhere, so if you’re reading this in the Twin Cities, you might be in her area of operations. If you want to find a certified organizer based in the Twin Cities, go to napominnesota.com/housekeeping. I know it seems like something a “real” adult should be able to tackle alone. But sometimes you need training wheels — and a helping hand — because adulting is hard. Amanda Williams lives in rural Minnesota with her two energetic sons. mnparent.com • November 2019

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Dr. Gigi Chawla

Help: My child has anxiety! My son, 6, is often severely anxious. How do I give him a sense of safety? At what age could he start meds? Just like adults, kids can experience anxiety with change. When there are bigger changes happening in a family’s life, kids sense that and can unduly worry. News and media can also play a major role in building anxiety throughout childhood. The constant stream of news about natural disasters, school shootings and other tragedies can impact our kids more than we know. As kids develop, so does their thinking. Initially, kids think quite concretely. Gradually, however, they develop more abstract reasoning. And their inability to be in control of certain situations can make them feel powerless to mitigate their concerns. Parents should be particularly

My daughter’s teacher has noticed a pattern of inattentiveness and has mentioned ADHD. What should I do? There are four things to consider when you first notice inattentive behavior — vision, hearing, sleep and nutrition. Kids who can’t hear or see well will be distracted by the things that they’re able to hear or see better. A hearing check and vision check are the first priorities. Additionally, parents

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conscious of anxiety levels when kids are elementary school age. There are many techniques you can implement to help your child. If current events appear to be causing

issues, start by minimizing exposure to TV, radio or online news. Parents can present newsworthy items to their children, instead of letting them be exposed to constant negative images through outside

should pay close attention to their child’s sleep patterns. Both the quantity and quality matter. A clinician will often begin by asking about your child’s sleep. If you hear your child snoring frequently at night, that may be an indicator that he or she isn’t sleeping well. Kids who don’t sleep well might be hyperactive in an attempt to keep their bodies more focused, or they may present with lethargy. Your clinician will recommend next steps which may include a more thorough sleep study or a visit to an otolaryngologist (ENT). There may also be a possibility that your child needs her tonsils or adenoids

removed. Other ailments can sometimes also mimic attention deficiency. Anemia is one possible culprit. Low iron levels are correlated with restless leg syndrome as well as low energy levels, both of which could look like ADHD or ADD, respectively. So, your clinician may consider a hemoglobin or iron test. After your child’s vision, hearing, sleep and nutrition are considered and/ or assessed with your pediatrician, your provider may then do an evaluation to see if your child meets the criteria for ADD/ADHD. If your child receives a diagnosis, medica-


sources. Provide news in the right context to ease fears. Ask your kids how they feel about what you’ve said — and ensure they know that parents and other grown-ups (teachers, grandparents and others) are there to keep them safe. Other coping techniques include apps for kids that are designed to help with deep breathing and relaxation. You can also foster a home environment of mindfulness to de-escalate day-to-day concerns by concentrating on things that are important to your child. Speak with your clinician if you try these techniques and notice that your child is still impacted by anxiety in a way that hinders daily life. For example, a continued pattern of tantrums before school or the same worries expressed repeatedly before bedtime. Your clinician will begin with similarly conservative methods, working with you to apply integrative behavioral health strategies or partner you with a psychologist. If anxiety continues to build, your clinician may recommend anti-anxiety medication. Anxiety medications are safe for pediatric patients under the right circumstances when a medical professional deems them necessary. Partner with your clinician to better understand how you can best help your child.

HELP US BRING JOY TO ISOLATED SENIORS WITH YOUR GIFT!

Gifts for Seniors provides donated gifts and life-affirming personal contact during the winter holidays and year round to isolated seniors in the Twin Cities metro area with the critical support of volunteers, donors, and community partners — people like you.

HOW TO HELP

Host a Gift Barrel | Organize a Gift Drive Find us on AmazonSmile | Individual Shopping

GIFT IDEAS

CLOTHING: cardigans, slacks, shirts, blouses, sweats, fleece, nightwear, robes, socks, no-skid slippers, hats, scarves, mittens LINENS: towel sets, sheet sets, blankets, pillows

tion can also help in the process, but isn’t a sufficient solution alone for most patients. Behavioral therapy to teach kids how to focus is critical. The latest guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasize the importance of combined therapy and medication, and even parent training. You can also work with your child’s school to create an individualized plan to help reduce distractions. Just know that there are many paths to success for kids with ADD or ADHD. Dr. Gigi Chawla is a board-certified pediatrician and the chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota.

ENTERTAINMENT: CD or DVD players, books, music, movies, puzzles HOUSEWARES: dishes, flatware, small appliances, clocks with big numbers AND MORE: personal care sets, grocery gift cards, cash donations

Feel free to use this list for ideas!

We only accept new, unwrapped gift items.

giftsforseniors.org | 612-379-3205 info@giftsforseniors.org Gifts for Seniors GA 2019 2-3page.indd 1

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23


Tina Mortimer

ON BEHAVIOR

Don’t plead. Count to 3! M

y 5-year-old daughter, Gwen, is like an adorably playful, but naughty puppy, who wants desperately to play nice, but can’t stop nipping. Because the puppy is so darn sweet, and you’re so weak, you keep letting it get away with things it shouldn’t get away with — because in the short term it’s easier to deal with a few nips than confine your puppy to its kennel and listen to it howl all night. You go on like this for a while, and things are OK ... until your puppy bites a neighbor. That’s when you realize you have a problem. Your puppy is out of control and you probably had no business having a puppy in the first place. OK. Enough of the puppy analogy. My little girl is so wonderful in so many ways. She has a great sense of humor. She loves animals. She’s smart. She can also be a bit of a bully. I was just cleaning up breakfast when I got the text that I figured would someday come. It was from another mom in the neighborhood. Hey, do you have a minute to talk about something that happened between the girls yesterday? My stomach flip-flopped. I told myself to calm down, not to overreact. Sure. I’ll meet you outside. As I approached my lovely neighbor, I tried to read her face. Did she look like a woman who was up all night washing marker out of her daughter’s hair or explaining to her why she shouldn’t strip in public and scream: Shake your booty! No, she did not. I breathed a sigh of relief. My neighbor wasn’t mad. She just wanted me to be aware of what happened

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I sat Gwen down and tried to reason with her. This was my first mistake. because “if it were her daughter,” she’d want to know. (I didn’t tell her I was fine with blissful ignorance.) What happened was this: The day before, while playing outside with some of the neighborhood kids, Gwen snatched her friend’s doll and refused to give it back even as her friend begged and pleaded. After holding the doll “hostage” for a few more minutes, Gwen hurled it by its long, blonde hair across her friend’s front yard where it landed in a pile of mulch. Here’s where it got even messier: When Gwen’s older brother came home from baseball practice, Gwen took off to greet him in her usual, inappropriate way — by punching him in his crotch. Gwen knows her brother wears a cup, so she knows she’s not hurting him, but he feigns injury

nonetheless and, to the horror of her friend, he collapsed to the ground convulsing in fake pain. While the girl’s mom, a sweet woman whom I’ve known for years and consider a friend, didn’t witness any of this as it happened, she got a play-by-play account from her daughter that included Gwen using her term of endearment — “big little wiener” — to greet her brother just before she punched him in his privates.  I tried not to laugh at that last part. Instead, I apologized and thanked her for bringing the behavior to my attention. This was serious after all. We were not a family that condoned this kind of behavior in our house and certainly (especially) not in our front yard where everyone can see it.  That night, I sat Gwen down and tried to reason with her. This was my first mistake. She nodded her head as I explained to her why she shouldn’t take her friend’s toy without permission and why she shouldn’t punch her brother even though he lets her at home. As expected, she was sort-of contrite.


But I knew nothing I said was sticking. A few days later, I mentioned the issues I was having with Gwen to my therapist. To my surprise, she didn’t offer me parenting advice or personal anecdotes. Instead, she suggested I rent a DVD called 1-2-3 Magic. (It’s also a book, but the DVD is faster to absorb: See 123magic. com/1-2-3-magic-dvds.)  She said it pretty much saved her from killing her kids. My husband and I watched the video the next night. It was super cheesy, but literally everything this doctor said resonated, especially this: All this time, we’d been treating Gwen like a little adult, always bargaining and pleading for her to stop or start a behavior.  And she is not a little adult. She is a child. And just like you can’t negotiate with terrorists, you can’t negotiate with an unreasonable kid. I won’t go into the whole method here, except to say that it will probably sound familiar to you and works like this: Whenever your child has a tantrum or displays unacceptable behavior you stop talking, take a step back and offer the child two chances to correct herself. 1 … 2 … if you get to 3 and she hasn’t stopped the bad behavior, she gets a timeout.  It sounds ridiculously simple, I know. But it’s not easy. The hard part, at least for me, is shutting up. For my husband, it’s not giving in to her negotiations. (He tends to fall for her puppy dog eyes.) We’ve only just begun using the method, but so far, it works. Gwen hasn’t nipped or growled in more than a week! I’m pretty sure that’s a record. Also, my husband and I aren’t yelling quite as much as we used to. It’s about progress, not perfection, right?  For now, I’m going to enjoy my wellbehaved little terrorist. Tina Mortimer is an essayist and a contributing writer for many local publications. She lives in White Bear Lake with her husband and two children. Follow her work at tinatwotimes.com.

Kare11 MNP 1119 H4.indd 1

10/23/19 10:19 AM

Kids love toys! Toys are great for their imagination and creativity, kids also need SEL! SEL (Social & Emotional Learning) has been at the foundation of The Little Gym’s curriculum for over 40 years!

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Sarah Jackson

IN THE KITCHEN

Cookies for life Making rollout cookies takes a bit of extra work. But these gems, which I bake with my son every December, are so worth it. With the double whammy of vanilla and almond flavoring — in the dough and in the icing — they’re so good: I swear you’ll want to make them every year.

Aunt Marilyn’s Sugar Thins COOKIES

FROSTING

DIRECTIONS

½ cup butter, softened

2½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup sugar

¼ cup butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth; then mix in the egg, vanilla and almond extract.

1 teaspoon almond extract

¼ cup milk  

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl.

2 cups flour

Sprinkles and decorating sugars such as Wilton’s white sparkling sugar

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches.

½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder

Shape the dough into two balls, adding a few drops of water if the dough is too crumbly. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thick, making sure to keep the rolling pin constantly wellfloured to prevent sticking. Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Bake for 5–7 minutes or until the bottoms just start to turn a light golden brown. (Do not overbake. If anything, underbake.) Remove cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooking rack after 1 minute. Cool completely. Mix the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and milk in a small bowl. Add more milk or powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency. Frost cookies and dip into sugars and sprinkles. Eat or freeze within a week. Sarah Jackson is editor of Minnesota Parent. Her beloved Aunt Marilyn gave her this recipe in 2010 and she’s made it every year since.

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Ed Dykhuizen

BOOKSHELF

The gift of books

Some children’s books feel like true works of art, the kind that belong in a museum or — more important for the conscientious gift-giver — the type that kids won’t grow out of and give away in a few years. These treasures, which cover various age ranges, definitely have the power to last.

Every page of this large-format book looks like it should be hanging in the Walker or maybe in a few of the rooms at Mia. Its stunningly bright neon colors and rich, complex scenes pull in eyeballs, which is apropos, since it’s a “seek and find” book. If you (or the grandparents) have the money, you could create a B.B. Cronin gift set to include the others in the series — The Lost House, The Lost Picnic and even The Lost Christmas. Ages 3–7 • $19.99

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Minneapolis resident Eliza Wheeler, whose Miss Maple’s Seeds was a huge hit, took seven painstaking years to produce a story of her grandmother’s childhood in the woods of Wisconsin. The result captures the joys and struggles unique to a particular time and place, all in a manner reminiscent of a great novel.

Appropriately, every page of Corrina Luyken’s book goes straight to the heart. With just a few words — and images consisting only of black, white and yellow — she conveys and celebrates a wide range of emotions, each on an epic scale. Ages 4–8 • $17.99

Ages 5–8 • $17.99

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


Shop local this holiday season for the best toys, service & magic!

Mention this ad for a special offer at each independent toy store. Photo courtesy Custom Obscura Photography/Ashley Marana

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1023 Mainstreet, Hopkins 952-926-7871 • kiddywampus.com

1135 E Wayzata Blvd (Colonial Square), Wayzata 952-473-1727 • owlandoctopustoys.com

860 W 78th St, Chanhassen 952-474-4366 • abctoyzone.com

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4313 S Upton Ave, Minneapolis 612-208-1867


TOYS! ALL THE

We tested a record 150 toys and games — from more than 20 vendors — with 28 kids and 17 parents/grandparents. Here are our top picks! BY SARAH JACKSON

WE’RE ON TV!

Frida, 3, of Hastings Photo by Tracy Walsh

This year KARE 11 hosted — and filmed! — our 2019 toy test at the TV station’s Golden Valley studios. Be sure to tune in to KARE 11 Sunrise with Gia Vang from 6–7 a.m. Nov. 4–12 to see interviews with parents and kids and tons of testing action, too! mnparent.com • November 2019

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BABU STACKER

$24.95 • 6 months and up

TOYS! A LL T HE

Why we love it: Moms and dads in our toy test loved the look and feel of Babu’s wooden stacking tower. Unlike typical stacking towers, this one features angled pieces for an extra challenge — and a variety of different build options. Kids also loved the matching rainbow rocker. Where to buy: MindWare.com

POKE-A-DOT BOOKS OOMBEEBALL

$24.99 • 6 months and up Why we love it: Parents and kids alike were drawn to this colorful, soft-surface nesting toy. It includes four balls with different textures, all connected by sturdy, short tethers — so you’ll never have to go looking for missing pieces. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys

$15.99 • 1 and up

Why we love it: These super-sturdy themed board books were a slam-dunk hit at our toy test thanks to raised buttons on every page that make a satisfying “pop” when you push them. It’s all the fun of bubble wrap, but with a much better sound and endless popping. Parents said: “Super fun!” “Good price.” “Captured baby’s attention and held it.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys

MAGICUBE

$149.99 • 1 and up

Bontu and Bonstu, 2, of St. Paul Photo by Tracy Walsh

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Why we love it: Unlike any other magnetic building toy on the market, each of these cubes magnetically connects to every other cube on ANY side without repelling from any other side. So kids can build to their hearts’ content without guessing which side will connect. Our testers loved this set of 64, of course, but parents were universally bummed by the price. We recommend calling in the grandparents on this one — or start the kids out on the 24- or 8-block sets to see if they love them first. Where to buy: Legacy Toys


PRIMO SCOOTER $149.99 • Ages 1–5

Why we love it: When we picked up this Vespa-esque rider from Ambosstoys, we were skeptical. Would it be all form and no function? Quite the opposite! This baby offered a smooth ride and cornered like a champ even in the busy, tight spaces of our toy test. It was by far the most popular ride-on toy and parents didn’t blink at the price. Good to know: It comes in orange, pink, blue, yellow and mint green colors. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Legacy Toys

WHIRLY SQUIGZ $21.99 • 1 and up

Why we love it: It’s a set of fidget silicone spinners — for the baby and toddler set — complete with suction cups, so you can pop one of these in front of Baby on her highchair tray while you’re finishing up dinner prep. Stick the other ones to a car window, the side of the bathtub, the floor — you name it. Bonus: They’re approved as safe to use as teethers, too! Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys

KITTY CAMPER VAN $39.99 • 1 and up

Why we love it: Our kids couldn’t keep their hands off this self-propelled, push-and-go motor van. This set includes two figures, two suitcases (that go in a roof rack) and a dog. (There are no kitties, just FYI.) Kids loved opening all the storage compartments and the roof, which flips open to reveal a furnished interior and a play area. Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus, Kiddywampus

Frida, 3, of Hastings Photo by Tracy Walsh

MY FIRST ANIMAL TRAIN $36.99 • 11/2 and up

Why we love it: This 22-piece SmartMax set, which is part of a series, includes a conductor, an elephant and a lion, along with magnetic bars and spheres to help kids build their own moving train. Our kid testers found it easy to use, while parents liked the imaginative, open-ended building possibilities. Where to buy: Hub Hobby, The Owl and the Octopus, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys

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mnparent.com • November 2019

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TOYS! A LL T HE

SCOOT AND RIDE HIGHWAYKICK 1 $120 • Ages 1–5

Why we love it: Want easy adaptability? This 2-in-1 kickboard can be modified — in a few seconds with no tools — to be a rider with a seat or as a stand-up traditional scooter. It also allows parents to set the wheels to pivot and turn or to stay straight when kids are first learning to roll. Our test kids, including ages 1 to 5, loved it; and parents found converting it to be simple and intuitive. Win! Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus

SLIDE & SPLASH SEALS $19.99 • 2 and up

Why we love it: These beyond-adorable seals on wheels stole our hearts. And our kids couldn’t get enough of them either — inside the tub and out, thanks to strong suction cups that stuck easily to other household surfaces and even the original box. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

WOODLAND FRIENDS $12.99 • Age 11/2 and up

Why we love it: Cabbage Patch Kids are back! And our testers especially loved them, including a new collectible line called Woodland Friends, featuring baby/critters that are just 9 inches tall — and only $12.99 each — including a deer, mouse, bunny, chipmunk, frog and fox. Where to buy: Walmart

TIMBER TOTS TREEHOUSE $50 • 2 and up

Why we love it: Press the button at the top of the tree and — pop! — this classic toy opens up to reveal a cozy little home, complete with furniture, fold-down stairs, an elevator in the tree trunk, a shrub with a secret hiding spot, a swing and adorable little woodland creatures. There’s even a little red car that seats two. If you grew up with this one, you’ll love it as much as your kids.

Sanyi, 3, St. Paul

Bellisio Foods MNP 1119 15.875x1_2.indd 1

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Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys, The Owl and the Octopus


LIFT & LOAD WAREHOUSE $99.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Kids. Love. Trains. And they were drawn like moths to a flame by this 32-piece Brio set, which includes a four-level elevator, stackable bridges, high-speed curves, a rail worker and a forklift. Good to know: Most kids needed more than a little help from their parents to get the tracks to fit together. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, The Owl and the Octopus

INFLATABLE TENTS $19.97–$49.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: We tested the AirFort ($49.99, above) and Discovery Kids’ Inflatable Play Tent ($19.97, left) — and they were both huge hits. Both inflated in 30 seconds with the aid of a standard 20-inch box fan (not included). Genius! And they each pack down into a small sack. Good to know: Neither tent has a door — which would interfere with consistent inflation — but the AirFort has a window. The AirFort seemed a bit sturdier and stayed level with the ground, while the play tent version floated a few inches off the ground in some places. Parents said: “It’s amazing!” “It’s like a parachute at home.” “Easy set up and take down. Fun.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys (AirFort) and Walmart (Inflatable Play Tent)

Hunter, 2½, of Edina Photo by Tracy Walsh

DINO ADVENT CALENDAR $34.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: It’s a toy-based advent calendar. What a healthy alternative from the beloved figurine company Schleich. Instead of candy, it includes a variety of cool dinosaur toys for every day of December leading up to Christmas. When a dino-loving kid found this box during the toy test, he promptly opened all 24 paper doors to unearth a scene of prehistoric proportions. Bonus: Schleich’s other calendar themes include Farm World and Horse Club. Playmobil, meanwhile, offers Christmas Post Office and Santa’s Workshop advent calendars, too. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

BUGZZLE

$19.99 • 3 and up Why we love it: Like tangrams, but cuter and curvier, this 18-piece set lets kids pick one of 40 challenge cards and then arrange, flip and position the semi-circular double-sided puzzle pieces into the bug-shaped tray to match the picture, laying the groundwork for learning colors, fractions and even early math. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone

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mnparent.com • November 2019

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TOYS! A LL T HE

BALANCE BOARD $39.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: The Double Maze Board from Playzone Fit requires children (up to 150 pounds) to balance first and then tilt and wobble the board to move a little ball through mazes at their feet. An attachment adds height for kids who want an extra challenge. Parents said: “This would be fun to play with in the driveway.” “Loved the challenge! Fun.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone

ROCK ‘N’ GEM SURPRISE $19.99 • 3 and up

OEKAKI MAGIC DRAWING BOARD $70 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Lovers of rocks and geodes will adore this set of faceted, plain brown stones, which crack open to reveal colorful matching gems. Parents gave thumbs up to the no-mess, reusable “experiment” this set allows, complete with a chisel and hammer to encourage handeye coordination. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

Why we love it: This heirloomquality magnetic drawing set includes a wooden pen and stamps that let kids create on a background that really does feel like magic when it reveals four different colors. Our test kids couldn’t get enough of the drawing and erasing action, made possible by a little black cat slider. Parents marveled at the quality of the woodwork and the convenient storage bag. Where to buy: Kinoko Kids

SLACKLINE

$249.99 • 3 and up Why we love it: Our kids loved walking along Playzone Fit’s Quad Box Slackline System, which was well-made and stable. We set up just one of the four sides, but it could be set up in a variety configurations. Unlike a tree-totree slackline system, kids don’t have to wait their turn thanks to this system’s four corner blocks. Good to know: Set up takes time, strength and focus. Don’t start this one at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

Nico, 4½, of Minneapolis Photo by Tracy Walsh

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BEAR COLORS WOODEN CLOCK $22 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Encourage independent time telling — plus color matching and counting — with this eco-friendly clock, which can be hung on a wall with a small bracket on the reverse. Where to buy: Pacifier

COUNTING CHAMELEON $26.50 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Made of sustainably harvested wood, this whimsical gem is bilingual and double-sided, featuring written-out numbers on one side and numerals on the other. Bonus: Its tray is nice for storage, travel or even display. Where to buy: Pacifier, The Owl and the Octopus

MAD MATTR QUANTUM TOOLBOX $29.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: If you haven’t tried Mad Mattr dough, you can give it a try at most local toy stores, which have samples out on display. Its granular texture reminded us of Kinetic Sand, but its moldability and smooth feel brought back memories of PlayDoh. This kit helped kids shape the material into bricks and shapes to build structures.

DINOSAUR FLOOR PUZZLE $15.95 • 3 and up

Why we love it: This 3-foot-long, 51-piece puzzle is shaped like a T-rex and some of the pieces are shaped like other dinosaurs, including a pterodactyl and a stegosaurus, which engaged our kids as much as the puzzle itself. Where to buy: Legacy Toys

Kids said: “It’s feels good!” “It’s super satisfying.” Where to buy: Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

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TURBO TWISTER

TOYS! A LL T HE

$24.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Our kids loved the action of this durable remotecontrol car. It never got stuck, thanks to its intuitive controls, small stature and 360-degree axel flips. Parents loved the price and battery life. Kids liked the bright LED lights and its default speed: Fast! Where to buy: Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

LIGHT-UP ICE HOOP $19.99 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Kids of all ages gave this movementactivated LED hoop tons of attention during our test. It comes in straight pieces and assembles easily. Where to buy: Party City

SPARKLE MARBLE RUN $34.95 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Every kid at the test seemed into this toy, which came with 20 green cat’s-eye marbles. Really, you can’t go wrong with any 100-plus-piece marble track for inspiring strategic thinking and problem solving. We liked this one’s extras, including starting chutes and a catch basin that actually holds more than few marbles. Where to buy: MindWare.com

PRECIOUS PONIES PLAYSET $39.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Horses are hot, thanks to the Spirit Riding Free series on Netflix. Our kids were drawn to the ponies in this set, designed for make-believe play with horse stalls, a feeding trough, fencing and more. Where to buy: Lakeshore Learning

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HUBELINO

$54.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: These DUPLO-compatible blocks blew our minds. Why hasn’t anyone come up with this before? Brick-style pieces that include marble-track components for endless creativity? Yes, please!

CHRISTMAS BAKERY $49.99 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Playmobil: The Movie sets will abound this season after the summer release of the film. But this cute and quaint set is timeless. It would be just the thing to break out once a year as part of a toy-rotation plan. It even includes miniature working cookie cutters.

Good to know: Engineering a marble run this way takes planning and lots of trial and error. Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus

Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

CRYSTAL PALACE $139.99 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Our test kids flocked to this Frozen-inspired ice castle from Playmobil, which includes LED lights to illuminate the palace from below and tons of cute details, including a staircase with ice steps, furniture for every room, different outfits for the characters and more. Bonus: Our testers also loved the less expensive items from this Magic series, including a Crystal Diamond Hideout ($64.99) and a friendly Yeti set ($24.99). Good to know: Assembly on this one isn’t for the faint of heart — or for wine-buzzed parents. Plan to spend about an hour on it. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

Z AX

$9.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: “Bring the excitement of axe throwing home in a fun and safe way!” urged the makers of the Zing Air Hyperstrike Z Ax. And sure enough, this soft foam creation threw just like a real axe (with a little practice) — and stuck easily to picture windows and walls, thanks to foam suction cups. Thunk! Where to buy: Legacy Toys

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BOTZEES

TOYS! A LL T HE

$99.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: Yes, it’s another build-yourown robot. But this one relies on an AR (augmented reality) app to do the controlling. We liked the DUPLO-style building blocks (130 pieces) and the USB charging option, too. Our 11-year-old tester liked the app’s 30 interactive AR challenges involving sequencing, looping and conditional coding. Where to buy: Target

GEAR-BOT

$49.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: Our home tester, age 11, spent over an hour with this remote-control buddy. First he assembled it with a variety of working gears, then when it didn’t work quite right, he did some troubleshooting. Finally, he drove it around and found it to be sturdy and responsive. Parents said: “So cool! It’s extremely easy to drive because you can see which side’s wheels are moving — because that side’s gears spin. When both wheels are rolling, all the gears spin at the same time. Endlessly creative, organically instructive. Good for multiple ages for sure.” Where to buy: Lakeshore Learning

SHIMMER STARS $19.99 • 4 and up

Why we love it: It’s hard to innovate in the realm of plush toys, but these creatures were winners — and lots of kids wanted to take them home — thanks to special wands that allow kids to attach sparkly “shimmers” to the animals’ fur as well as their own hair. Shimmers, which stayed in place best in hair that was tied back, attached easily and combed right out. Where to buy: Target

WONDERHOOD GRAND HOTEL $49.95 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Three of our home testers, ages 4 to 6, kept coming back to this creative building set, which includes 24 glossy plastic building panels (5 inches square, washable and double-sided), plus a three-story elevator, two figurines and design challenges. Parents said: “There are different types of panels — walls, floors/ceilings and doorways/ windows. Kids get to decide where everything should go, so the conversations about where to put the bathroom or the hotel pool, for example, were pretty interesting.” Good to know: Operating the elevator is a bit a clunky and can shake whole hotel. On the other hand, the structure is lightweight and therefore easy to disassemble. Where to buy: Legacy Toys (Galleria Edina Only)

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NASCAR CRASH RACERS $29.97 • 5 and up

Why we love it: Remember Micro Chargers — the awesome, quick-charge mini race cars that disappeared from the market a few years back? These are the next generation. This set comes with two cars, two quick-charge charging bases, 9 feet of track and tons of obstacles. Simply hold the car to the charger for a few seconds and it’s powered up and ready to drive — on or off the track. Good to know: Cars fly off the track and crash easily, but that’s kind of the point. Also, the track set-up is a bit flimsy, so it’s recommended that you tape it down. Parents said: “So fast. Fun to play with! Great price.” Where to buy: Walmart

COZY DOZY

$29.99 • 5 and up Why we love it: Cozy Dozy Little Live Pets come in cardboard baby carrier packaging and act like real live babies, including 25 different sounds and reactions. This little guy giggled when he was tickled on his tummy, and even closed his eyes and went to sleep when he was swaddled and tucked in with a paci. Where to buy: Target

GEOSMART MOON LANDER $55.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: Beautifully made, colorful pieces make up this remote-control toy, which was a magnet for our younger test kids, who found it easy to build and operate, despite the chaos of the toy test. It can be made into myriad designs and includes “all-terrain” tracks instead of wheels. Kids said: “Awesome and really creative.” Parents said: “I love that it can go even before being fully built!” Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus

FOAM ALIVE ‘ICE CREAM’ $19.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: Highly sensory and super addictive, Foam Alive should be on every holiday gift list this year. Due to its constantly moving, “melting” nature, this bizarre material worked perfectly in the new Make ‘N’ Melt Ice Cream Kit, which allows kids to shape the living foam into cones and then watch it melt off the sides like real ice cream. Don’t want the kit? You can get the foam — which doesn’t dry out and vacuums up easily — for $4.99–$9.99. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, The Owl and the Octopus, Legacy Toys

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RC T-REX

TOYS! A LL T HE

$24.99 • 3 and up Why we love it: All ages of toy testers were all over this simple remote-control creature, which comes with a walk button and a roar button. Bonus: Through the dino walks only in a straight line, a stealthy silent mode made it fun for kids to “sneak up on” parents before it let out a surprise roar with open jaws. Where to buy: Walmart

POGO TRICK BOARD $29.99 • 6 and up

Why we love it: Kids in our test loved using this contraption. They were quickly able to gain their balance, jump and even do tricks. Parents loved that it inflated in just a minute with the included hand pump. Parents said: “Super fun and challenging.” Where to buy: Hub Hobby, Legacy Toys

MARS SPACE STATION $79.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: This Playmobil set stole the show among ages 4 to 6 during our test. Kids loved the two astronauts, the robot and the functioning double-laser shooter as well as various light and sound effects, plus tons of other space gear. Parents liked that it could be easily transported without being destroyed. One kid said: “It love all of it. It opens. It’s cool. I want it.” Parents said: “So many features!” “It’s perfect for learning.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

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DOMINOES MAZE $29.99 • 8 and up

Why we love it: Setting up dominoes on a plain surface is dead to us now that we have this cool game that provides slots for each domino, plus pivots, blockers and even a second level with two staircases. Most kids had fun with it before even realizing there were 60 challenge cards. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

FORTNITE BATTLE BUS $39.99 • 8 and up

Why we love it: If your kid is obsessed with the video game, this 13-inch tall icon is a gift you can bestow without giving a weapon or a llama. And it includes two collectable Battle Royale figures, too. Where to buy: Target

POP AND WEAVE BASKET $17.99 • 8 and up

Why we love it: Our testers chose this cool new item as their favorite craft option. First you snap together a frame, then you weave in the yarn and twine and, finally, you add cute accessories to create a pink bunny basket to use as a gift or storage item. Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus

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TOYS! A LL T HE

TUMBLING HEDGEHOG $39.95 • 10 and up

Why we love it: “This is amazing!” said our 11-year-old home tester, who spent about two hours building this robotic creature, which responded dutifully to claps, by rolling on its back, getting back up and then doing more tricks. Parents said: “A great project for younger kids, too — with guidance.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent and a six-time toy test orchestrator and home tester with her son, Sam, age 11.

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UGEARS MECHANICAL MODELS $36 • 14 and up

Why we love it: This steam-punk-inspired 3D assembly kit does it all: It’s a puzzle; it’s art; it’s an educational toy. One of many models from Ugears, this bike features a rubber band motor that makes the motorcycle ride as far as 10 feet in one winding. Where to buy: Science Museum of Minnesota’s Explore Store


SHOP LOCAL!

This year, rather than listing just one store as a source for each specific toy, we decided to include as many independent toy stores as possible. The goal was to help readers find toys at stores in their neighborhoods. Of course, there’s a strong chance we probably didn’t get them all. So be sure to contact your neighborhood store to check or confirm availability and pricing. And remember: Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Saturday, Nov. 9, when many Twin Cities stores offer familyfriendly activities, in-store specials and holiday gift ideas. ABC & Toy Zone, Chanhassen and Rochester, abctoyzone.com Air Traffic Kites and Games, MOA, Roseville and Minnetonka, airtrafficonline.com BuyBuy Baby, Woodbury, buybuybaby.com Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, St. Paul, choochoobobs.com/store Doodletown Toys, Big Lake, online and craft shows only, doodletowntoys.com Electric Fetus, Minneapolis, electricfetus.com Games by James, five Twin Cities locations, including MOA, gamesbyjames.com Hub Hobby, Richfield and Little Canada, hubhobby.com Kiddywampus, Hopkins, kiddywampus.com Kinoko, Minneapolis, kinokokids.com Lakeshore Learning Store, St. Louis Park and Maplewood, lakeshorelearning.com Lark Toys, Kellogg, larktoys.com Legacy Toys, MOA, Minnetonka, Edina, legacytoys.com Mall of America, Bloomington: The LEGO Store, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Nickelodeon Universe Store, Disney Store and JM Cremp’s Adventure Store Mischief Toys & Gifts, St. Paul, mischieftoy.com Moss Envy, Minneapolis, mossenvy.com The Owl and the Octopus, Wayzata, owlandoctopustoys.com Pacifier, four Twin Cities locations, pacifier.me Party City, 10 locations in the Twin Cities, partycity.com

Earlier this year Ely-based Legacy Toys opened new stores in Edina (pictured, at Galleria) and Minnetonka (Ridgedale Center), both in former Creative KidStuff spaces. Legacy Toys is also set to open a super-size store at the Mall of America this month in Bloomington.

Pinwheels and Play Toys, Minneapolis, facebook.com/ pinwheelsandplaytoys Science Museum of Minnesota Explore Store, St. Paul, smm.org Something Safari, Excelsior, tinyurl.com/something-safari Teeny Bee Boutique, St. Paul, shopteenybee.com Don’t see your favorite local store here? Write us at editor@mnparent.com with the hashtag #toystores.

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SNAIL SPRINT

$29.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: Ready to graduate from Candy Land? This is a best bet, thanks to magnetic snails and an innovative game path that goes up and over a metal storage tin. Players draw a race card to determine which snail colors they’ll move along the board. Then they roll a set of color-coded dice to help their snails crawl up and over each other to the three winner’s podiums. Where to buy: Games by James, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

NHL FASTRACK

$24.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: This miniature hockey rink includes not one, but 10 pucks. The goal is to get all the pucks on the other side before your opponent can, using springy little strings and a tiny hole in the middle. Good luck, hockey fans! Where to buy: Legacy Toys

PICWITS

$24.95 • 5 and up

Revolt against screen time and learn something new as a family — as you spend quality time together — with these game-night gems. BY SARAH JACKSON

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Why we love it: Two families took this game home for testing and they each gave it two thumbs up. It’s basically a picture-based version of Apples to Apples: Everyone gets hand of photo cards, and when a word/phrase card is played (such as “cuddly” or “let’s be friends”), players (ideally 4 or more) have to play the picture in their hand that best suits the word/phrase. Then hilarity — and debate — ensues! Parents said: “The kids wanted to play it every night over the weekend with my husband and me. We had to slightly adjust the rules to accommodate our 3-year-old, but it was really easy to pick up and we had so many laughs.” “One of the best parts about that game is the wide variety of photos — and the number you get. Amazing!” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys


DINOSAURS: MYSTIC ISLANDS

$19.99 • 6 and up

Why we love it: This shape-matching game challenges players to separate the plant-eating dinosaurs from the carnivores. Kids can complete each of the 80 challenges by placing the islands as shown, but they have to make sure the three friendly dinosaurs are separated from their T-rex counterparts. Parents said: “So fun! I even love it. It’s like a puzzle.” Where to buy: The Owl and the Octopus, Legacy Toys

PAIRZI

$20 • 6 and up Why we love it: The makers of dice-driven Tenzi have taken things to the next level by mixing double-sided cards and six sets of dice in this exciting, pair-grabbing game. Our players loved the adorable little monsters and the option of an easy set (with three colors) and a hard set (all yellow). Where to buy: Games by James, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys

SKY MAGIC

$25 • 6 and up

Why we love it: Our kids were drawn to the cool creatures — and the awesome interlocking game board with movable parts. Game play kept them engaged, including “wind flip” cards and storm cloud covers, that completely changed the board, sometimes sending creatures back to the start. But unlike a big long slog after a down chute in Chutes & Ladders, recovery is collaborative: Everyone works throughout the game together to get all the creatures to their final destinations — before the magic-spell cards run out. Win! Where to buy: Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys

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SLIDE QUEST

$24.99 • 7 and up

Why we love it: Also called “The Video Game Board Game,” this awesome invention for one to four players takes place inside the box with help from four levers that move the game board up and down to help the players collaboratively slide little figures through obstacle courses. Twenty different boards — all featuring holes that the characters fall through when you make a mistake — keep the game increasingly challenging, like levels in a video game. Good to know: To keep the game functioning well, you’ll need to protect the box from getting squished. Where to buy: Games by James, Legacy Toys

OTRIO DELUXE

$47.99 • 8 and up

KANOODLE GRAVITY

$19.99 • 7 and up

Why we love it: This compact game, a sort of real-world Tetris meets Connect 4, requires spacial reasoning and logic skills. Kids liked that it could be a solo or two-player game. Parents liked that it closes up for easy storage and travel. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

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Why we love it: This is tic-tac-toe on steroids — an awesome reinvention of a tired old game with an attractive wooden play board. It starts out seeming too simple, but get ready: It’s not so easy once you get three sizes of pieces going — and four ways for every player to win. We loved it with two players, but four would be even more interesting. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys


SQUADRO

$34.99 • 8 and up

Why we love it: Mixing in elements of chess, checkers and Chinese checkers, this pretty wooden game requires strategic thinking. The object is to be the first player to make a trip across the board — and back — with four of your five pieces. You’ll have to sacrifice a piece along the way to get it done. But which one? Good to know: FYI: The board is black/brown, not white as pictured on the box. Bonus: This is one of many abstract strategy games — with the same handmade look — from Gigamic Games. Where to buy: Games by James

TREKKING THE NATIONAL PARKS

$49.99 • 10 and up

Why we love it: If you like Ticket to Ride, you’ll enjoy this beautifully designed and well-made game, now in its second edition. It’s fun to play, educational (thanks to fun facts printed on the park cards) and challenging enough to encourage repeat play. (We were surprised how few national parks we knew well!) Up to six players can visit the country’s majestic parks by gathering “trek” cards that allow players to move across the map to claim valuable park cards. If a player is the first to visit a national park, he or she collects that park’s stone, which awards bonus points at the end of the game. To win, players must jockey for position and make tactical decisions, too. Good to know: We recommend watching the video tutorial before playing in addition to reading the rule book. Where to buy: Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys

BOSK

$44.99 • 12 and up Why we love it: This gorgeous new game — from Golden Valley-based Floodgate Games, the makers of Sagrada and Legacy: Gears of Time — goes like this: Players “grow” their trees in the “spring” (the first phase of the game) and score points for having the most majestic trees along each trail in the game’s virtual summer. In the autumn, the wind blows and players cover the ground in leaves. When the metaphorical winter comes, players score points for having the most coverage in each region. The highest-scoring player at the end of the year is the winner. Our 11-year-old home tester loved it all — the extremely complex rules, the elaborate scoring system, the many 3D trees and leaf tiles, the little wooden leaf tokens, the squirrels and the special side board that controls the wind. If you love high-concept games, this one is for you! Good to know: Before buying, check out a video on how to play at tinyurl.com/bosk-game. Where to buy: Games by James, Legacy Toys

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Stocking stuffers $10-AND-UNDER TOYS! These small but mighty gifts will delight and amaze parents and kids alike. Promise. By Sarah Jackson

SCHYLLING SNOW BALL $3.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Squeeze this super-flexible, totally durable ball and you’ll gasp in wonder at how reminiscent it is of real crunchy snow. Our kids loved it. We think it also would make a fun holiday gift for relatives in warmer climes. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Hub Hobby, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

PLAYFOAM 8-PACK $9.99 • 3 and up

Why we love it: Yes, it’s yet another textural toy. But our kids couldn’t get enough of these shapeable little clumps of microspheres. They reminded the grownups of Dippin’ Dots. But instead of melting, they stuck together for endless hours of molding fun. This 8-pack package is too big for a stocking, but it’s worth wrapping it up for the fun packaging and colors. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys, Mischief Toys

MOZI FLOW RING $12.99 • 5 and up

Why we love it: OK, so it’s not under $10, but this thing is a steal. Kids were transfixed and adults oooohed and aahhhhed over this marvelous set of 13 interconnected steel coil rings that move along your arm like a wearable, living Slinky. This literally delightful toy, which moved best on bare skin, was tough, too, even among the toddler set who accidentally squished it a few times. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Mischief Toys, Kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, The Owl and the Octopus

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TIC–TAC SURPRISE! $6.95 • 5 and up

Why we love it: Aww, it’s a card game of tic-tac-toe donuts — chocolate versus vanilla — in which the donuts with the sprinkles can be played anywhere, even over other donuts! D'oh! Kids said: “Super fun!” “I’d buy it.” Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

JIXELZ

$9.99 • 6 and up Why we love it: During the toy test, after our test and during home testing, these miniature plastic jigsaw pieces received hours of play from multiple kids, who loved both free building and using the included patterns. These are a positively addictive must-have item for 2019. Good to know: They stay together really well, so you have to break them down piece by piece if you want to build something new. Where to buy: ABC & Toy Zone, Legacy Toys

L.L.A.M.A. CARD GAME $10 • 8 and up

Why we love it: Think UNO, but with different rules. Cards include numbers 1–6 and llamas, which can be played only on 6s or other llamas. When one opponent runs out of cards, he or she “quits” the round. Then all the cards the other players weren’t able to play are added up and counted against them as points, which are tallied using little black and white tokens — 1 point for white, 10 points for black. (This is good for math practice!) Play ends when one opponent loses by collecting 40 or more points. Kids said: “I want to play again!” Parents said: “Way more fun than it sounds.” Where to buy: Kiddywampus

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Out & About HOLIDAY

mnparent.com/calendar

NOV. 22–DEC. 28

Photo by Fischeye Films

Elf the Musical, Jr. ⊲ This adaptation of the beloved film is appropriate for all ages. When: Nov. 22–Dec. 28 Where: Stages Theatre Company, Hopkins Cost: $21–$33 Info: stagestheatre.org

NOV. 2–FEB. 29

Night Trains

⊲ See the make-believe railroad town of Matlin blanketed with snow and decorated with miniature Christmas decorations and lights. When: Saturdays Nov. 2–Feb. 29 Where: Twin City Model Railroad Museum, St. Paul Cost: $15 for individuals, special family rates Info: tcmrm.org

NOV. 12–DEC. 29

A Christmas Carol ⊲ Charles Dickens’ timeless tale continues to be a perennial favorite and a Minneapolis holiday tradition. When: Nov. 12–Dec. 29 Where: Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $29. Info: guthrietheater.org

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NOV. 21

NOV. 23–JAN. 5

⊲ Staff will serve hot cocoa and cookies and unveil the arboretum’s 25-foot poinsettia tree to kick off the opening of Winter Lights.

⊲ Find familiar buildings and landmarks, both contemporary and historical, created by everyone from professional bakers to first-time gingerbread enthusiasts. You can contribute your own creation regardless of your skill level. Free gingerbread kits will be available starting Nov. 1 (while supplies last). Stop by or call 612-871-2211.

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: Nov. 21 Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska Cost: $25 for adults, $5 for ages 15 and younger Info: arbwinter.umn.edu

NOV. 22–JAN. 5

Winter Lights ⊲ Stroll through the arboretum’s gardens on a self-guided tour of botanically themed winter light displays. When: Nov. 22–Jan. 5 Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska Cost: $15 for ages 16 and up, free for ages 15 and younger Info: arbwinter.umn.edu

Gingerbread Wonderland

When: Nov. 23–Jan. 5 except Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Where: Norway House, Minneapolis Cost: $5, free for ages 12 and younger Info: norwayhouse.org

NOV. 23

Minnesota Sinfonia ⊲ Celebrate the holidays with a lighterside concert featuring a variety of carols, waltzes, show tunes and familiar classics, including Dmitry Kabalevsky’s Concerto in C Major.


When: Nov. 23 Where: Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis (2 p.m.), and First Covenant Church, St. Paul (7 p.m.) Cost: FREE Info: mnsinfonia.org

Thanksgiving: Myth, Memory, and Food ⊲⊲Take an in-depth look at the origins of the holiday and how it’s changed over time. Sample select foods in the museum’s baking lab and participate in a family activity about gratitude. When: Nov. 23 Where: Mill City Museum, Minneapolis Cost: Included with museum admission of $6–12 Info: mnhs.org/event/7440

Green Gifts Fair ⊲⊲More than 80 eco-friendly vendors will be selling holiday gifts. Complete a passport for prizes and enjoy music, live stage demonstrations and a family exploration space. When: Nov. 23 Where: Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis

Cost: Donations of $1 per person will be accepted at the door. Info: doitgreen.org

NOV. 29–DEC. 22

Holidazzle

⊲⊲Visit Santa, see fireworks and take part in holiday shopping, games and a kids’ zone, featuring a climbing wall, slides, a maze, a tunnel, hay bales and more. When: Thursdays through Sundays Nov. 29–Dec. 22 Where: Loring Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: holidazzle.com

DEC. 2–24

Santa’s Wonderland ⊲⊲All Cabela’s locations are offering free 4x6 photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including crafts and games in Christmas cabins alongside holiday characters and live elves. When: Santa photos are offered daily Dec. 2–24. Where: Cabela’s in Woodbury, Rogers and Owatonna Cost: FREE Info: cabelas.com/santa

NOV. 23–DEC. 22

Santa & Albert ⊲⊲Celebrate the season with a new holiday play, The Snowflake Dance. Following the performance, which lasts about 20 minutes, Santa and Albert will lead a sing-along of carols and take pictures with guests. Seating is first come, first serve. Bring your own camera to have your picture taken with Santa. When: Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 23–Dec. 22. Saturday show times are 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday show times are 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Santa will arrive on a reindeer-drawn sleigh at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 23. Santa & Albert PhotosOnly Nights will be from 6–7 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9. Where: Bachman’s Floral, Gift & Garden, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: bachmans.com

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

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Metro Locations Locations 1010Metro Mostinsurance insurance accepted most accepted mnparent.com • November 2019

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6/13/19 1:34 PM


Out & About NOVEMBER

mnparent.com/calendar

Cinderella ⊲ Originally created by CTC, this pantostyle musical merges the story of Cinderella with a Victorian Christmas party, including lavish costumes, grandiose sets and holiday carols. When: Nov. 3–Jan. 5 Where: Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $15. Info: childrenstheatre.org

NOV. 8, 11, 22

Kinder Konzerts in the Hall ⊲ Preschoolers are invited to listen to a narrated story with live music performed by a Minnesota Orchestra ensemble. Kids can also learn simple music concepts and try out orchestral instruments. When: Nov. 8, 11, 22 Where: Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis Cost: $6 Info: friendsofminnesotaorchestra.org

NOV. 8–10 Photos by Kaitlin Randolph

NOV. 2

Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo ⊲ Since 2009, this event has been bringing together expert speakers, educational information and exhibitors offering healthy and empowering services and products. When: Nov. 2 Where: Capitol Hill magnet school, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: twincitiesbirthandbaby.com

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November 2019 • mnparent.com

Salsa del Soul ⊲ This Twin Cities-based, nine-piece orchestra performs various styles of dance music from the Spanishspeaking regions of the Caribbean. All proceeds will go toward a mission trip to Puerto Rico to assist in rebuilding after Hurricane Maria. When: Nov. 2 Where: Hamline Church, St. Paul Cost: $12 for adults, $5 for ages 6–12, free for ages 5 and younger Info: hamlinechurch.org

Minneapolis Holiday Boutique ⊲ More than 300 exhibitors will present the latest styles, trends, jewelry, gifts, children’s items and gourmet foods to an estimated 28,000 shoppers. When: Nov. 8–10 Where: U.S. Bank Stadium Cost: $10 online, $12 at the door; free for ages 12 and younger; $8 for ages 55 and older on Nov. 8 only (box office only) Info: minneapolisholidayboutique.com


GalaxyCon ⊲⊲This celebration of superheroes, anime, fantasy, science fiction, video games and pop culture will feature appearances by William Shatner, John Cusack, George Takei and others. When: Nov. 8–10 Where: Minneapolis Convention Center Cost: Ticket start at $20. Info: minneapolis.galaxycon.com

NOV. 8–11

Statewide Star Party ⊲⊲Thousands of Minnesotans at sites across the state will observe the moon and engage in hands-on astronomy activities in this inaugural event. When: Nov. 8–11 Where: Minnesota Cost: FREE Info: bellmuseum.umn.edu

NOV. 9

Girls, Science and Technology ⊲⊲Join Fox 9 and local female engineers and scientists for hands-on demonstrations and activities. When: Nov. 9 Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: Included with admission of $19.95 for adults and $8.95 for ages 4–12 Info: smm.org

Falls and the Minneapolis riverfront milling district during a family day that celebrates this new exhibit. When: Nov. 9 Where: Mill City Museum, Minneapolis Cost: FREE; water lab activities require museum admission of $6–$12 (free for ages 4 and younger). Info: mnhs.org/event/7435

NOV. 10

Minnesota Philharmonic ⊲⊲This annual free children’s concert features activities for kids related to the themes and experiences illustrated in works by Dvorak, Sibelius and Coleridge-Taylor. When: Nov. 10 Where: Lake Nokomis Community School, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: mnphil.org

Loy Krathong: Festival of Lights

⊲⊲In tandem with their book release, the gals behind the #MomTruths Live tour will share never-before-told stories about the stress, guilt and joy of being a mom.

⊲⊲Dancers from the NBC television show hit the stage for a riveting performance.

⊲⊲Using natural and found materials, make your own images of St. Anthony

All participants are seen by a board certified Dermatologist. No cost for study related evaluations. Qualified participants may be reimbursed for time and travel. Consent of one parent or legal guardian is required for all participants under the age of 18.

For more information, please call 763-502-2941

Minnesota

Clinical Study Center

Steven Kempers, M.D. Minnesota Clinical Study Center 7205 University Avenue NE, Fridley, MN 55432

1

10/7/19 10:21 PM

When: Nov. 10 Where: Ordway Center for Performing Arts, St. Paul Cost: $11–$27 Info: ordway.org

NOV. 16

My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall’s Story

Healthy volunteers 12 years of age and older are wanted for an investigational study that will evaluate a topical study medication for facial acne.

⊲⊲Experience traditional Thai culture MN Clinical Study Center MNP 1119 V6.indd through performances of classical songs, a parade and a fashion show. Performers will showcase the distinct characteristics of Thailand’s four regions with unique instruments, dances and more.

Cat & Nat

When: Nov. 9 Where: Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $43.50. Info: hennepintheatretrust.org

DO YOU OR YOUR CHILD HAVE ACNE?

World of Dance Live! When: Nov. 16 Where: State Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $41–$85 Info: hennepintheatretrust.org

Shannon Messenger ⊲⊲The New York Times bestselling author of the middle-grade hit series, Keeper of the Lost Cities, comes to town for

mnparent.com • November 2019

55


Okee Dokee Brothers

Out & About

an evening of stories and big reveals organized by the Red Balloon Bookshop. Cosplay is strongly encouraged. When: Nov. 16 Where: SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul Cost: $27 Info: redballoonbookshop.com

⊲ The Grammy-winning duo writes songs to encourage kids and families to get outside and get creative. When: Nov. 17 Where: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul Cost: $19–$27 Info: ordway.org

NOV. 23–DEC. 22

Annie Jr.

⊲ Little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. When: Nov. 23–Dec. 22 Where: SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul Cost: $14–$18 Info: steppingstonetheatre.org

NOV. 24

A Landmark Hoedown ⊲ Celebrate National Square Dance Day with square dancing, contra dancing, circle dances as well as other forms of social dancing. Beginners are highly encouraged to attend. When: Nov. 24

NOV. 29

Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: landmarkcenter.org

Nature’s Black Friday Fun

NOV. 29–DEC. 1

Brickmania First Ave ⊲ View a scale model of First Avenue built of LEGOs by Brickmania and then help assemble LEGO portraits of legendary First Ave performers. When: Nov. 29–Dec. 1 Where: Minnesota History Center, St. Paul Cost: Included with museum admission of $6–12 Info: mnhs.org/event/7460

⊲ Park staff will offer naturalist programming and self-guided natureexploration activities all day. Hike the park, build a fort, go on a scavenger hunt, play games and join in the coloring contest. When: Nov. 29 Where: North Mississippi Regional Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info: minneapolisparks.org

CHILDCARE/EDUCATION

Mis Amigos Spanish Immersion Now offering infant child care in Hopkins!

Bring Growing With Music to your child care program or playgroup!

www.growingwithmusic.com ~ info@growingwithmusic.com 56

November 2019 • mnparent.com

Growing With Music MNP 0119 3cx2.2.indd 1

Call 952-935-5588 and schedule a tour! www.misamigosimmersion.com

Locations in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and St. Paul

12/13/18 12:01 Mis Amigos PM MNP 0118 2cx2.2.indd 1

10/18/17 9:38 AM


CHILDCARE/EDUCATION

PARTY PAGES

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Magical Themes your Child will Love

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Kids Birthday

Free Music, Spanish, Yoga, and Karate!

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Great times for all ages at 1/22/19 Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

Free Preview Classes

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FIND MORE PARTY RESOURCES ONLINE mnparent.com

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6/28/19 1:50 PM

1 hour of bowling Party table 3 menu choices Soda 1 used Tavern bowling pin for the group to sign.

Parents — hide away in your own area while the kids party!

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MISCELLANEOUS

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Register for the

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December 7th & 8th or February 8th & 9th

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mnparent.com • November 2019

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FROM OUR READERS

Snow way!

Dreading winter? Don’t. These shots of your kids prove just how much fun eight months of cold can be!

↑ Vinnie, 7 months, of Eagan

↑ Dezserai 11, Derricka 4, of Apple Valley

↑ Kelsie, 7, of International Falls

↑ Nora and Ella, 15, of Lakeville at Banning State Park

↑ Lucy, 7, Ryan, 4, and Addie, 9, of Savage on a snow day

↑ Shelby, 7, and Paden, 5, of Woodbury, during the blizzard of April 14, 2018

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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November 2019 • mnparent.com


Profile for Minnesota Parent

November 2019  

November 2019  

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