Page 1


VOLUME 34 /// ISSUE 12

Embrace winter

Get your winter on!



Top priorities

What matters to you most? Say it out loud. Focus on that. 10 CHATTER

Jam out These cute pajamas help raise money for cancer research. 12 BUMP, BIRTH AND BABY

Not so bad

I’m a December baby. And guess what? I love it. 14 THE UNCENSORED TODDLER

Drive to a tree farm to cut your own tree and celebrate the season.

Fly solo

You should take a trip alone and leave all the guilt behind. 16 SCHOOL DAYS

Growing into it Older kids will challenge you in all sorts of new ways. 18 WORLD’S OKAYEST MOM



Discover realistic tips and tricks to make going green feel possible amid the challenges of family life.

Dire straits

You can only opt out of self-care for so long. 20 #ADULTING

Show up

Here’s what to do when someone you love is grieving. 22 ON BEHAVIOR


Unplug by going tech-free on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 24 IN THE KITCHEN

Soup’s on!

In it together


This highfunctioning mom/stepmom co-parenting friendship will blow your mind and warm your heart.

If you like butternut squash and curry, this recipe is for you. 26 BOOKSHELF

Famously good These celeb-penned stories will be a hit with your kids. 50 FROM OUR READERS

Holiday joy

Check out an adorable collection of our fans’ best kid photos. CORRECTION In the November issue of Minnesota Parent, an incorrect vendor source was listed for the Botzees augmented-reality robot. It’s available at Walmart.


December 2019 •

About our cover kid Name: Andrew (AJ) City: Maple Grove Age: 5 Parents: Adam and Paula Schmidt Siblings: Luciana, 8 Personality: Sweet, funny, shy and curious Favorite toys: LEGOs and Playmobil Favorite book: Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems and Curious George Favorite activities: Playing outside, hockey, soccer, being with cousins/friends and building LEGOs Favorite foods: Bananas and pizza Photos taken at Hansen Tree Farm by Tracy Walsh Photography


& About 44 Out CAL EN DAR

& About 48 Out A L L TH IN G S N UTC R AC K ER • December 2019



Top priorities I


Janis Hall •



Zoe Gahan •


Sarah Jackson •


Rachel Brougham, Megan Devine, Katie Dohman, Ed Dykhuizen, Erin Gipford, Shannon Keough, Jen Wittes, Danielle Venticinque, Erica Wacker, Tracy Walsh


Valerie Moe •

ART DIRECTOR Dani Cunningham


Amy Rash •


612-436-4388 •


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

Minnesota Parent (ISSN 0740 3437) is published monthly by Minnesota Premier Publications. POSTMASTER send address changes to: MINNESOTA PARENT, 1115 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55403. Minnesota Parent is copyright 2019 by Minnesota Premier Publications. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Address all material to address above.


December 2019 •

was standing in my kitchen on a Saturday with 1,000 things to do and just a few hours to go before I had to leave on a three-day trip. I was feeling overwhelmed, torn as always, about what to choose and what to let fall way. I had a head full of things I wanted to do, things I had to do and things I dreamed of doing — and they all felt equally important. When I’m in this state, no amount of list-making or Post-It notes can help me because those things can’t give me what I truly want — which is more time, and to do it all. I imagine many parents walk around in this state of Photo by Tracy Walsh / mind virtually all the time. I know I do. But on this day, I was feeling it acutely — and for the umpteenth time. It felt like real anxiety, and I’d had enough. I finally stopped myself from fretting and just said, out loud: “OK, stop. What really matters?” And in that moment, I realized the answer was my people — my relationships. What on my list had to do with caring for my son, my friends and my family? That was my list. The end. Those things. What fell away? Oh, EVERYTHING else. Yes, I’ll try to get to the rest, if not most of it, eventually, bit by bit. But stopping to really think like that put my priorities in place. In this issue, you’re going to find a lot of articles about cool things you can do — including oodles of inspiring green-living practices, super-fun family outings and even a life-changing soup recipe. But if you’re going to add anything to your already-full to-do list, I’d ask you to read the two most human-centered stories in this issue. One is about how to help when someone you know is grieving. It’s written by a local mother who lost her husband last year. It may help you someday, maybe even during the holidays, which are tough times for people dealing with grief, which doesn’t go away. The second one is a story about one family’s life after divorce; God knows, the holidays aren’t easy for families going through divorce. But this family — which involves a dad, a mom, a stepmom and five kids from three relationships — will warm your heart. I promise. The mothers in the story do something special — something that becomes incredibly hard to do when it comes to divorce: Despite being wounded, heartbroken, vulnerable and raw, they put their egos aside and worked to truly put their kids first, to not suck them into conflict, which is too easy to do after a separation. They got their minds right and their priorities straight. And now they’ve written a book to tell the tale of their 13-year co-parenting run from their different perspectives. As we enter this season of gifts and giving, that type of human kindness and love is truly something to celebrate. Sarah Jackson, Editor

Building Stable Homes, Strong Futures and Vibrant Communities Since 1971.






BRANDES PLACE 763-574-2187, Fridley GRANADA LAKES 651-770-1700, Oakdale LAKE SHORE TOWNHOMES 763-416-3971, Maple Grove SUNWOOD VILLAGE 763-251-3000, Ramsey TRAILS EDGE TOWNHOMES 651-330-1666, Maplewood VALLEY SQUARE COMMONS 763-544-1855, Golden Valley VICKSBURG COMMONS 763-559-0970, Plymouth VIEWS AT CITY WALK 651-262-5700, Woodbury


BLOOMINGTON TOWNHOMES 952-920-6113, Bloomington CROWN RIDGE 952-546-8600, Minnetonka WAYZATA VILLAGE HOMES 763-559-0970, Wayzata WHITNEY GROVE TOWNHOMES 952-432-4644, Apple Valley YORKDALE TOWNHOMES 952-835-1998, Edina


DUBLIN CROSSING 651-290-6228, Mankato FALLS MEADOWRIDGE 320-632-2576, Little Falls HOWARD LAKE APARTMENTS 320-274-5871, Howard Lake GREENVALE PLACE 507-645-4146, Northfield MAPLE HILLS 651-388-2821, Red Wing NORTHPOINT TOWNHOMES 218-927-3521, Aitkin SUNRISE MANOR 507-794-9631, Sleepy Eye


CATHEDRAL HILL TOWNHOMES • (651) 227-3966 280 Dayton Avenue St. Paul, MN 55102 • Rent is 30% of Monthly Income for Qualified Households • Individually controlled heat • On-Site Laundry

• Community Room • On a Bus Line


SEE WHAT MAPLE HILLS HAS TO OFFER … MAPLE HILLS • (651) 388-2821 521 Maple Street (Bldg G) Red Wing, MN 55066

• Qualified residents pay 30% of their adjusted gross income for household size for monthly rent • Off-street Parking • On-Site Laundry

• Community Room • Computer Lab



Sarah Jackson


Snuggle up for a cause These pajamas aren’t just adorable and created by a local mother. They’re also jammies for a good cause. Leela Rao founded Pajamas with Love in memory of her daughter, Priyanka, who lost her battle with childhood leukemia at age 8 after four years in and out of the hospital. “While she was going through years of treatment, she insisted on bringing her own pajamas to the hospital to remind her of home, where she felt happy, safe, comfortable,” Rao

cotton, the pajamas come in crocodile,

said. “Wearing them gave her a sense of hope

giraffe, fish, butterfly and house-brand

go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

that she could soon go back home.”

designs, including regular and footed styles

to support pediatric cancer research.

in sizes 3M to 4T (all $24.99 each).

Learn more at

Made with 100% ribbed, chemical-free

The Bakken will take a sabbatical The Bakken Museum on the shores of Bde Maka Ska is planning a six-month construction project to bring in new science exhibits — and a lakefront entrance (artist rendering pictured) — to its 44-year-old campus. Renovations will also add modernized classroom space and improved accessibility to the museum, established in 1975 by Medtronic co-founder Earl Bakken to showcase his collection of historic artifacts relating to science and technology.


December 2019 •

A whopping 50% of the brand’s profits will

Now taking applications for Fall 2020 COLLEGE PREP REDEFINED Serving a Diverse Student Body

Though the original West Winds mansion, home to the Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party

6th–12th Grades

exhibit, will be open for reduced weekend hours, the museum’s modern wing will close

To register for shadow days and school tours visit

in January until its grand reopening, new and improved, in July 2020. On Dec. 7, families are invited to the museum from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. for an all-ages Discovery Days event with activities focused on coding. Kids will be invited to use code to control robotic creatures, program a light show and create music. Community partners will include Code Kitty, Code Ninjas, Market Science, Oscar the Robot, Prime Academy and Sylvan Learning. Tickets, available in person and online, cost $5–$10 for ages 4 and up (free for ages 3 and younger). Learn more at

WHERE ALL STUDENTS ARE COLLEGE KIDS! Over 15 advanced placement, college in schools and honors classes & ACT preparation assessments and courses Competitive athletics program Focus on community service and social justice...and much more! Twin Cities Academy MNP 1219 S3.indd 1

11/19/19 2:41 PM • December 2019


Jen Wittes


The joy of holiday birthdays


ild concern among parents about a child born in December is normal, I suppose. There’s the competition with holiday festivities, two-in-one gifts from relatives, budgets stretched a little thin for dreammaking celebrations at the American Girl doll cafe or the ever-loving institution that is Chuck E. Cheese. But the December baby anxiety seems to be worse these days. I blame this on two things. First, the holiday season starts in like September and it’s bigger, louder, longer and flashier than ever before, culminating in a collective nervous breakdown in the 12th month. Second, today’s parents — me included — tend to over-perfect the art of childhood. We drink the “good old days” Kool-Aid and embrace


December 2019 •

a “play ‘til the street lights come on” mentality. But, in reality, we struggle to maintain that level of chill. Folks, I’m here to put your minds at ease and increase your chill factor by a thousand. I am a December baby. And I love it. Did I get combo Christmas, Hanukkah and birthday presents? I did. From anyone other than very distant relatives who were a surprise to hear from anyway? Not really. Did I feel overshadowed by the holidays? Not at all. In fact, I still love that my birthday month is basically one big party. Everyone is up for fun. Nobody is doing the Whole 30. The world is a fairy tale of fresh white snow, choirs, glitter and lights. In December, people are family-forward, reflective, spiritual, decorative and celebratory. They reach out, they invite

you places, they bake, pop bubbly, throw an extra log on the fire and sing. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, for crying out loud. As a child, I used to ask to do something seasonally festive on my birthday — trim the tree, bake the cookies, throw together a gingerbread house, tune in to Rudolph. Speaking of those corny holiday specials, recent research informed me that A Year Without a Santa Claus debuted just as I was coming into the world. I thrill at the thought of my mom pushing to the sounds of Heat Miser and Snow Miser singing their classic battling duet on a crackling old hospital TV: “I’m too much!” I mean … come on! The perks of being a December baby are endless. Truth be told, the only way in which my

Did I feel overshadowed by the holidays? Not at all. In fact, I still love that my birthday month is basically one big party. December birthday has caused conflict is as a merry-making mom. Parents so often forget to take care of themselves, giving all the free time — and even the biggest piece of cake — to the offspring. In the budgetstretching, carb-loading, calendar-filling whirlwind of the season, I occasionally find myself thinking, “Meh. We don’t really need to do anything for my birthday this year.”

Maple Grove Commuinty Center MNP 1219 H2.indd 1

And then I snap out of it. It’s a part of the season. It’s another year of life! My parents never let the holiday hubbub steal my thunder. And that’s just it: You can worry about the December birthday. But if that’s when your child is born, you really have no choice but to embrace it — with a tree, with a menorah or a 100% jingle-bell-free Pinkalicious party. Pin the Tail on the Donkey or roast chestnuts? Your kid will let you know which he prefers. Either way, people show up to December ready to party. There’s magic in the air, fudge and fondue, that little boy running through the airport in Love Actually with his heart ready to burst. It’s a beautiful time to be born. Jen Wittes is a marketing director, writer, certified postpartum doula and mom of two who lives in St. Paul.


Singing books

Cali’s Singing Board Books, geared toward ages 6 and up, is now offering seasonal titles. Jingle Bells features samples of six holiday songs (including I Had a Little Dreidel), while The Nutcracker features six samples from Tchaikovsky. Both offer impressive sound quality — and vaguely British accents! $14.99 •

11/19/19 3:24 PM • December 2019


Shannon Keough


Go somewhere? Alone? “S

o, I just heard that Steve Almond is teaching a class in Maine this summer,” I said to Nick, my husband. Almond is a favorite author of mine. Maine just happens to be where we travel every summer to visit Nick’s parents. “Oh yeah?” said Nick. “You should totally go.” “Really?” I said. This was, of course, exactly what I wanted to hear — there was no way I was going to give myself permission to do such a self-indulgent, impractical thing. Of course, I tried to talk him out of it. “I don’t think it’s such a good idea,” I argued. “I totally can’t afford it. Plus, who am I kidding? A creative writing class? I should just stay home and take a webinar about how to rebrand myself as a social media marketer or something.” “Come on, Shannon,” said Nick. “Just sign up for the class.”

Never alone The truth is, I love traveling solo. Many of my favorite traveling memories are from trips when I was all alone. But now that I have kids, traveling alone not only seems self-indulgent: It also seems … almost wrong. Because traveling with the kids is great! There’s no denying that our trips to the Boundary Waters, the National Mustard Museum and the site of Laura Ingalls’ dugout home on the banks of Plum Creek were better because Lydia and Felix were along. And I also love traveling with Nick. Before we had kids, we traveled as much as we could — Vietnam, Micronesia, a bike trip down Highway 1 in California and more. Ever since the kids were born, our just-the-two-of-us


December 2019 •

When one is accustomed to suffering the indignities of air travel with young children in tow, heading to the airport alone is like a vacation in itself. trips have become more modest in scale. But they’re no less important. Torn, I tried to remember the last time I’d been truly alone. I recalled a two-day business trip I took back when I was pregnant with Felix. That was it. That was six years ago. I signed up for the class.

Luxurious solitude When one is accustomed to suffering the indignities of air travel with young children in tow, heading to the airport alone is like a vacation in itself. The morning of my flight, my family dropped me off painfully early at Terminal 1. Of course, it was a Kafkaesque nightmare in there. The Soviet-style line to the one open checkpoint extended across at least half the terminal. I suffered mild anxiety — if I missed my flight to Boston, I’d miss the bus to Maine and probably the first day of class — but the situation didn’t

have the “end of the world” feeling that comes when you’ve got exhausted, squirming children in tow. Once on the plane, I luxuriated in the uncomplicated reality of it all. Which of my four books would I read first? Should I put my phone on airplane mode now or wait a few minutes? Some eight hours later, I finally made it to Rockport, a picturesque town on the coast and home to the Maine Media Workshops, where I’d be taking the class for the next five days. I met my classmates that evening — all women, incidentally, ranging in age from just-out-of-college to well-intoretirement. After the initial introductions, I realized that apart from the instructor — a mother of three young children —  I was the only student with kids at home. Either they didn’t have them yet, weren’t ever going to or the kids were grown. It made me kind of sad: Where were


Prank pillow

Finally, a self-inflating Whoopee Cushion! Its auto-inflation isn’t just convenient, it’s also a way for your kids to NOT spread germs while greatly appreciating realistic, but fake flatulence. Stocking stuffer? $5.99 • The Owl and the Octopus, Wayzata

my contemporaries? My fellow motherwriters making an investment in their creative development? Then I remembered that it had been six years since I’d done anything alone and on my own terms.

Just do it — really I guess what I want to say to my fellow mothers is this: Whatever it is you’ve been wanting to do — visiting your friend in London, perhaps, or going to Costa Rica to do lots of yoga, say, or maybe just renting a hotel room on 494 and watching YouTube for a night or two — please, consider just doing it. It might seem like you don’t have the time or money. However, I can almost guarantee that something unpleasant will come along soon enough (a medical catastrophe? a plumbing nightmare?) for which you also won’t have the time or money. The least you can do is “waste” your time and money right now on something you actually enjoy.

Swedish Motors

Our Motto: Do it right or not at all!

The Twin Cities’ premiere independent Volvo Sales and Repair Shop Exceptional Customer Service Keen Attention to Detail Stop by and meet our newest team member, Willow!

612-803-5661 | Swedish Motors MNP 1219 H4.indd 1

11/18/19 6:33 PM

Shannon Keough lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to • December 2019


Loud, busy, messy, rich and full S

ome days being a working mom of four kids kicks my butt. I admit, I really didn’t know what I was getting into when our household expanded from just my husband and me to a family with one child, then two, then three, then four children (not to mention the addition of 20-plus chickens, a cat and a German shepherd). Parenting my four children (ages 8, 10, 12 and 14) along with all of my other responsibilities of work and home isn’t exactly easy.

A new phase In our family, as our kids are getting bigger, they’re getting busier. The pace of our family life has accelerated as our children are becoming more involved in sports, competitions and other extracurricular activities. We’re in that age pocket with our children where their independence is growing, but they’re still very much dependent on us — especially when it comes to encouraging them to make good choices, feeding them, paying for things and driving them places. The energy it takes to keep up with this pace of family life creates a different kind


of exhaustion than that of the baby years when we had the respite of pacifiers, midday nap times and 7 p.m. bedtimes. The challenges we need to handle as

Porsche puzzle

It’s a puzzle that actually drives! This new 3D jigsaw — one of many 3D options from Ravensburger — is a 1:18 scale model of the Porsche 911 R. Geared toward ages 10 and up — but suitable for younger kids with help — it comes together, 108 pieces in all, in numerical order on a sturdy base with working wheels. Cool! $29.99 •


December 2019 •

parents at this stage are far more complicated than the challenges of when they were younger. We need to set and enforce boundaries with the Internet and social

The challenges we need to handle as parents at this stage of our children’s development are far more complicated compared to when they were younger.

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

Finding support media, and drugs and alcohol. We need to help our children handle peer pressure, challenging friendships and their emotional and physical health. Our job as parents isn’t only to care for and love them, but also to give them positive guidance and direction as they navigate adolescence.

Taking it day by day There’s no doubt that parenting is exhausting and challenging, but it’s a blessing that can bring much fulfilment and joy. When I get caught up in the fullness of it all, sometimes I forget that I wouldn’t have it any other way: I absolutely love being a mom of four kids and I’m grateful that I have a fulfilling career. I don’t necessarily love the sibling squabbles or massive amounts of laundry, not always knowing the right way to solve issues or problems or the unknowns that can cause worry. I especially do not love my moments of burnout when I’ve run out of patience and my capacity for resilience has dwindled. But I do love this loud, busy, messy, rich and full life of mine. Parenting is hard and each stage of our children’s development has its own set of challenges. We have to accept that no parent or child will be perfect and there will be challenging times every single day of parenting.

There will be overflowing laundry, daily messes, arguments, tears, bumps, bruises and scars all along the way. But approaching our children, ourselves and others with gentleness and kindness is important. When times get tough, we can encourage each other to stay on course. We can tap into our support systems and support others whenever possible. When I’m worn out, a positive boost in the form of verbal praise or accolades canThe Potato Head Project MNP 2017 Filler V6.indd help me overcome that hurdle and give me pause enough to reframe my situation so that I can put it in perspective. So here’s to you, to me, to us:


1/8/18 1:14 PM

Look at you, raising these kids the best you can with everything else going on in your life! Keep at it, take it day by day, Find moments to share your love with them each and every day. Be gentle on yourself. Stay on course. Encourage others. Surrender to the experience. Enjoy the journey. Megan Devine is a kindergarten teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines — at • December 2019


Katie Dohman


When life gives you the Heisman I

'm talking about the trophy. The stiff-arm pose of the man ON the trophy — in your face. It happened to me recently. I woke up, just after falling asleep, with a searing pain in my chest. In my stupor, I thought it was indigestion — I had eaten a big pizza and drank a cider with dinner — so I took antacids and tried to go back to sleep. This was after several days of my youngest child waking every 45 minutes. So as the minutes ticked by, I became too frantic to sleep: I’m already so overtired, and I know he’ll be waking any moment; my GOD will I ever sleep again? Problem was, the pain was coming in waves. I thought: Am I imagining it or is it getting more intense? Do I go to the ER? I was pretty sure I wasn’t dying, so I thought I’d better wait. Then at 4 a.m., after not sleeping a wink for six straight hours, I mentally slapped myself: Katie. This is not normal. Would you please take care of yourself? Long story short, by 6:30 a.m. I knew that I had a major gall bladder problem and I was probably having surgery that day. Literally my first two thoughts were: 1: Is there any way to put this surgery off until January because this will probably clear both my deductible AND my out-ofpocket max and it’s almost October? 2: Oh god, I hope there are clean socks for the boys in the laundry basket, and that William has school and daycare drop-offs handled. Also, who is going to do all of the things while I’m in surgery and recovering? Answers were 1:. No, and 2: Of course, he had it handled; and of course it all got figured out. I cried when the anesthesiologist came


December 2019 •

I don’t know why, but it is so hard to accept help, even when life sticks out its Heisman hand and knocks you flat on your butt. to explain everything to me. By then, my brain had turned into a big blinking red light, worrying about whether my kids were worrying and worrying about me worrying about, you know, complications. I’m still in the midst of recovery as I write this from my couch. I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the love and care my little family was shown while we were caught in

the tempest. A tray full of yummy desserts, soup deliveries, drop-offs and pickups and babysitting, funny texts, grocery deliveries, ready-made dinners, extra free medical advice, all of it. We got so many offers of help that we didn’t even need it all. Even the kids pitched in, being good sports by rolling with the changes, fetching me things, being more willing to pick up around the house. I don’t know why, but it’s so hard to accept help, even when life sticks out its Heisman hand and knocks you flat on your butt. But I’ll tell you it was really an exercise in reflecting on how much I do every day, especially when I’ve been battling nagging failing feelings.

Located in Minnetonka, MN French Academie MNP 1219 H6.indd 1 (952) 944-1930 11/20/19 3:01 PM


Relaxy pants

Thanks to my sister — who delivered these softest-soft joggers to me for my recovery — I discovered Hello Mello loungewear. You'll never want to take off these Carefree Threads Black Jogger Pants.

Tracy Walsh Photography MNP 0419 H6.indd 1

3/7/19 4:29 PM

$25 •

At no other time has it come into such sharp relief as when I asked for, or accepted, all of that help. I’m not a religious person, but Anne Lamott, my patron saint of writing, says there are three essential words to prayer: Help. Thanks. Wow. Reading those words, distilled down so simply, it almost overwhelms me with gratitude. To all of you who help me do what I do every day, and did what I couldn’t every day for the past three weeks, I’ll add one word since I hope I’m done asking for help: Love. Thanks. Wow. Katie Dohman is currently living in the midst of a full-house renovation in West St. Paul with her three kids, two pets and one husband. Follow her adventures at • December 2019


Rachel Brougham


A guide to help those grieving M

y husband died in 2018. Colin (pictured) was a bicycle commuter and was on his way home from work on April 10 when he was killed instantly in an accident, just blocks from home. We were 16 days shy of our 15th wedding anniversary. I’ll spare you the details, but I knew something was wrong when Colin was late for dinner. Taco fixings sat on the dinner table, waiting to be eaten. Our 9-year-old son, Thom, played video games while

asking about every five minutes, “When is Daddy going to be home? I’m hungry.” In the months that have followed, Thom and I have learned to navigate as a family of two. We’re still trying to find what people love to call our “new normal,” whatever that may be. We’ll never move on from what happened; we just move forward. Grief never goes away. I’ve learned a lot this past year.

I’ve learned the difference between sadness and empathy. I’ve learned you can feel happiness and despair at the same time. I’ve learned there’s beauty even during the lowest of times. And I’ve learned many people don’t know what to do when someone they love is grieving. We don’t talk about death enough, so our only references are those unrealistic Hallmark movies. If you know someone dealing with loss — whether with the loss of a partner, a parent, a child or a friend — you need to show up. When dealing with grief, you learn who your real supporters are, and it will surprise you. Show up: And continue to show up. Everyone shows up right away. But when the funeral is over and family members and friends have headed home — that’s when things get hard. Bring that hot dish over on week one, but bring one over a month later, six months later, a year later. Show up and continue showing up. Even if it’s just a quick text that says, “Thinking about you.” Think before you speak: People say horrible things when they don’t mean to. At Colin’s funeral, someone hugged me and said, “You’re young and beautiful, you will find someone else,” like that was on my mind. People love to say things like, “Everything happens for a reason,” “God has a plan,” or “He’s in a better place.” I always want to say, “Well what reason is that?” or “Well, death wasn’t part of our plan!” or “Lucky him, because Thom and I are in a real horrible place.”


December 2019 •

Never say, “I know what you’re going through,” if it’s followed by A) “I lost my pet last year,” or B) “I’ve gone through a divorce.” Neither are comparable to the death of a loved one. If you don’t know what to say, “I’m sorry, I have no words,” is perfectly acceptable. However, saying nothing is never acceptable — it’s worse than saying the wrong thing. Offer specific help: Saying, “Let me know how I can help,” is not helpful. People grieving don’t always know what they need, nor do they want to ask people to help. Instead, offer up what you’re willing to do. Can you do yard work or shovel snow? Say so. Willing to watch the kids one evening a week? Do it! Will you clean their home or get groceries once a month? Put it on their calendar. Don’t judge: Grieving people will make decisions you may not agree with, but it’s not your life. I started dating someone four months after Colin died. People love to say things like, “It’s too soon,” as if there’s some magical acceptable time to start dating again. We all grieve in different ways. For me, it been living my life to the fullest extent as possible, even when there are times I feel like crying my eyes out in the shower — or screaming, “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!” in my car at the top of my lungs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating grief. But when it comes to supporting those we love going through the worst of times, being an A-plus supporter doesn’t have to be as difficult as we often make it out to be. Rachel Brougham is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Minneapolis. She enjoys crying in Target aisles, often makes people uncomfortable during conversations and has the best support team imaginable. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @rachbrougham.


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.


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


CLOTHING: cardigans, slacks, shirts, blouses, sweats, fleece, nightwear, robes, socks, no-skid slippers, hats, scarves, mittens LINENS: towel sets, sheet sets, blankets, pillows 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. | 612-379-3205 Gifts for Seniors GA 2019 2-3page.indd 1

10/24/19 4:12 PM • December 2019


Danielle Venticinque


When a device becomes your vice A

s parents we’re quick to curb the amount of screen time our children get daily. But who’s keeping an eye on us? This question never crossed my mind until one day when my 2-year-old was talking to me as I mindlessly scrolled, putting items I never intended to buy into a virtual shopping basket. Frustrated with my lack of interest and eye contact, he began yelling, “Wake up, Mom! Wake up!” In that moment, I realized my device had become my vice. I was disconnected and allowing a gadget to come between me and my own flesh and blood. My phone had become an extension of me, always with me. When I said, “Look at mommy,” my kids were conditioned to look at my photosnapping phone instead of at me. In my child’s wise-beyond-his-years, 2-year-old mind, I needed to “wake up.” Following this wake-up call moment, my husband and I have adopted several guidelines that have helped us put down our devices. Keeping them out of reach: We have a docking station/charging area, where our devices live while we’re at home. This has helped us minimize mindless use, since they’re not always in our pockets or next to us. I also know exactly where to find my fully charged phone in an emergency or if I need to call poison control, again. Without a landline in our house, I feel this is essential. Focusing on family time: We have “tech-free” Tuesdays and Thursdays (the alliteration is a convenient reminder) when everything connected to wi-fi is off limits, including our TV. In milder months, we filled these hours with outdoor activities.


December 2019 •

However, now that it’s colder, we cozy up to our fireplace and engage in good, old-fashioned family time and bonding over books and board games. Treating it like a reward: That wise 2-year-old is now 4 and his little brother is 3. They earn screen time by picking up their toys or reading a book. We’ve applied the rule to us as parents, too, and now use screen time as a reward for completing housework and other tasks. We’ve found it’s a great way to use our time more wisely and to show our kids that we’re walking the talk. If they have to earn their screen time, so do we. Doing social media on “our time”: We’re allowed on social media only while multitasking — and this doesn’t mean #regramming while drinking coffee. It means scrolling while on the elliptical, waiting on the kids at daycare or (let’s be honest) on the toilet.

I was disconnected and allowing a gadget to come between me and my own flesh and blood. In my child’s wise-beyondhis-years, 2-year-old mind, I needed to ‘wake up.’ In other words, never around our children. If we’re less engaged on social media, we hope to lay the groundwork to make our children’s desire for a good math grade greater than their need for “likes.” Making it mindful: Awareness about when and how much we’re using certain types of screen time helps us better understand and regulate our usage.

Learn more

Get guidance about screen time best practices, tools for managing kids’ usage and ratings for all types of media, including video games and apps, at

Apps on certain devices (such as iPhone’s built-in Screen Time) report the time spent on specific apps and websites. Screen Time also lets you schedule downtime, set app limits and other restrictions and even spot trends in usage. Built-in whole-house wi-fi tools, such as Xfinity’s xFi app, can help you keep track of and set limits on device use, too. Other tools to check out include Circle, Zift, unGlue, Qustodio and Norton Family. Strategic phone organization: We’ve also moved social media apps to the final screens of our devices so they’re less apt to be habitual destinations when the phones are unlocked. You can also turn off notifications, such as banners that light up your phone when it’s locked, or badge notifications that leave little red circles reflecting unread items. Living IRL: Our devices have made communication easier. However, we’ve never been more disconnected. Our kids are watching and mimicking our every move right now. I would rather they observe us reading books or engaging in conversation than seeing our faces buried in our screens. These guidelines have not only encouraged my husband and I to be better role models for our children, but they’ve also helped our family reconnect — and get the housework done, too! Danielle Venticinque lives in St. Paul with her husband, Don, their two boys and a 75-pound mutt. She writes for Twin Cities Moms Collective and moonlights as an actress. Visit her blog at  and follow her on Instagram at daniellexxv. • December 2019



Eat clean!

Sarah Jackson is editor of Minnesota Parent. Her former newspaper boss, the late, great food and features editor Melanie Munk, gave her the recipe.


December 2019 •

This flavor-packed puree isn’t just good for you: It’s based on a recipe from the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where writers of the 1920s hung out at their famed round table, trading quips. When you make the soup a little thicker, it doubles as a gourmet first food for babies — and a healthy lunch for you and yours.

ALGONQUIN SQUASH SOUP 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 pear or apple, peeled, cored and chopped 1 stalk celery, diced 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth 3 cups butternut squash, cubed 1 russet potato, cut in pieces 1 head cauliflower, roughly cut into florets 2 teaspoons (or more) sweet curry powder Sour cream and parsley for garnish (optional) Saute onion, celery and chopped pear/ apple in the olive oil over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add curry powder and stir for 1 minute. Pour in 6 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add squash, potato and cauliflower. Bring back to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Puree while hot with a hand-held immersion blender (preferred) or cool slightly and puree in batches in a blender. Reheat. Thin if desired with more broth, up to 2 cups. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with sour cream and parsley.

NOTES • You can buy bags of cut butternut squash at Trader Joe’s in the fresh produce section. • You can roast both the squash and the cauliflower in the oven at 400 degrees until soft for a slightly sweeter flavor, but that’s not required. • Don’t be afraid to be liberal with the curry powder. If you want more spice, you can also add cayenne. • Experiment with other winter squash. This soup is a rich pumpkin color; other squashes may result in different hues. • This recipe doubles easily if you have a big enough soup pot. • December 2019


Ed Dykhuizen


Glitterati literati

Everyone thinks they can write a good children’s book, especially celebrities. And some of them are right! Here's a wide range of great books penned by a diverse group of famous folk. A few tackle some of the biggest issues of our time. Others bring a much-needed dose of humor. All of them would make fun holiday gifts!

We worry about our kids’ screen time, and then we spend much of our family time glued to our phones. In this book, Tiffani Theissen, best known as Kelly from Saved by the Bell, makes a strong case to parents to put away their devices and join their children in enjoying the wonders of the real world. Ages 3–5 • $17.99

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had so much fun writing her own entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series that she followed it up with this inspirational book. After opening up about her diabetes, she tells the stories of kids with all sorts of other challenges — asthma, blindness, autism and more — and encourages children to embrace, and empathize with, such differences.

Who would be more fun as a grandpa than Paul McCartney? Judging from how his Grandude character pulls kids through wild adventures — like an only slightly less anarchic Cat in the Hat — he wouldn’t even need to pull out a guitar to leave ’em wanting more. Ages 4–6 • $17.99

Ages 4–8 • $17.99 Ed Dykhuizen is an associate editor at Minnesota Parent and father of three, who lives in St. Paul.


December 2019 •

Prolific rocker Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s is apparently bursting with rhymes! Here he compiles 23 silly poems designed to hit kids in their humor sweet spots; titles like Disco Bath Party and 3:00 a.m. Pee should give you an idea of what you’re in for.

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. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

Ages 4–8 • $17.99


• Wills • Trusts • Health Care Directives

• Powers of Attorney • Special Needs Trusts • Supplemental Needs Trusts

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

SCHROMEN LAW • 651-571-2515 • SCHROMENLAW.COM Schromen Law MNP 1119 H4.indd 1

10/9/19 11:17 AM


The title character in this heartrending book by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o is ridiculed for her dark skin and thinks she needs to be lighter to have friends. Then, at night, a magical shooting star appears and tells her an African legend that shows her how beautiful she, and her skin, truly are.



Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years, The Big Game, Birthdays, Graduations, Weddings Eco-friendly tableware & supplies ∙ 30 colors of matching plates, napkins & cutlery

Ages 4–8 • $17.99 Litins Party Value MNP 1219 H4.indd 1

11/20/19 12:04 PM • December 2019


Hansen Tree Farm in Ramsey, about 30 minutes from the Twin Cities, features U-cut Christmas tree fields, wagon rides, wood-carving and blacksmithing demonstrations (on weekends), carolers (on select dates), a gift shop and refreshments. Photos courtesy of Hansen Tree Farm

A fresh-cut Christmas Start a family tradition of visiting a local farm to choose and cut your own tree. BY SARAH JACKSON


December 2019 •


f you’ve ever gone berry picking, pumpkin patching or apple harvesting, you know how fun it can be to visit a local farm in spring, summer and fall. But did you know you could venture out to local farms even in winter? Yep! Minnesota boasts numerous U-cut tree farms for families who want to choose and cut their very own fresh trees. Most farms also offer fresh pre-cut trees, too, or their staff can help you cut down a tree of your choice. Sure, some of these destinations will require a drive of 30 minutes or more, but all of them offer a wide range of extras to make it worth your time, including Santa visits and photo ops, games and activities, wagon rides through evergreen forests, demonstrations, live animals, gift shops, refreshments such as hot cider, campfires and even live musical performances. Many also sell custom-made wreaths, garlands and spruce tips for fresh decorations to get you in the spirit of the season. Tree farms give families a chance to learn up close about one of Minnesota’s iconic evergreen crops — and get some fresh air in the process. Can you tell a Fraser fir from a Norway pine? Can the kids pick out a blue spruce? What type of tree says “Christmas” to you? According to Minnesota Grown, the Minnesota Department of Ag’s farm guide for consumers, the average Christmas tree farm absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 in its lifetime. At Minnesota’s 60-plus Christmas tree farms, farmers typically replant one to three trees for every tree that’s cut down. And at the end of the holiday season, 93% of real trees are mulched or composted in Minnesota. But you don’t have to go to a local farm to get a local tree: You can find an interactive map of Twin Cities tree lots stocked with pre-cut trees at If you’re up for more of an adventure, here’s a list of U-cut farms to explore. Go early for the best U-cut selection. Before you head out, check with your location of choice to confirm hours and availability.

Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent.

U-CUT TREE FARMS NORTH • Our Farm Christmas Trees, Oak Grove, • Pinestead Tree Farms, Isanti, • Rum River Tree Farm, Oak Grove, • Stacy Tree Farm, Stacy, • Wolcyn Tree Farms & Nursery, Cambridge,

NORTHWEST • Goldenman Christmas Trees, Zimmerman, • B&J Evergreen, Princeton and Clear Lake, • Hansen Tree Farm, Ramsey, • Jan’s Christmas Trees, Clear Lake,

SOUTH • Gifford’s Bobcat & Tree Farm, New Market, • Revak Nursery, Elko New Market and Lakeville, • Log Cabin Pines, Elko, • Nelson’s Apple Farm, Webster, • Hampton Hills Tree Farm, Randolph,

EAST • Blackwoods Farm, Stillwater, • Countryside Christmas Trees, Lake Elmo, • Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm, Lake Elmo, • Newell Christmas Tree Farm, Scandia, • St. Croix Valley Trees, Sommerset, Wisconsin,

NORTHEAST • Covered Bridge Farm, Forest Lake, • Halleys Tree Farm, Forest Lake,

WEST • Crow River Nursery, Howard Lake,

Winter joy!



December 2019 •

Tube, dude Downhill skiing and snowboarding are amazingly fun, even with kids. Hello, ski lifts! But the work it takes to get your gang fully outfitted and on the slopes — with skis and snowboards attached, never mind the learning curve — is an experience reserved for those who are truly determined. You’ll get there. But until then, find a tubing hill. Most are near skiing activities, so you’ll get preview of what’s available before you dive in.

• Buck Hill, Burnsville, • Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area, Maple Grove, • Green Acres Recreation, Lake Elmo, • Wild Mountain, Taylors Falls, • Wirth Winter Recreation Area, Minneapolis, Find 11 more Minnesota tubing hills that are a bit further afield at

Photo courtesy of Afton Alps


arenting, in many ways, is a bit of a surrender. Resistance is futile. There’s no turning back, no matter how hard it gets. But once you give in, well, that’s when the fun starts. You learn to embrace the journey, the chaos, the humor of child-rearing. Winter, once you’ve chosen to make Minnesota your home, is kind of the same way. It’s just too long to wait it out and stay indoors. Throw on some warm clothes, grab some handwarmers and get ready to breathe in some fresh, cool air and the majesty that is a Minnesota winter. Here's how:

Start skiing When you’re ready to ski or snowboard, start with a day trip. We recommend the following three hills for families who are just getting into it. They’re all relatively close to the Twin Cities (90 minutes or less) and offer lots of easy runs for kids, but with plenty of room to grow into tougher stuff once your kids get confident. Pro tips: Getting outfitted takes about an hour, so head out as early in the day as possible. Skiing with little kids is easier when teenagers are still home sleeping, instead of shooting all over the ski hills. If you want quieter afternoon times, ski or snowboard during Minnesota Vikings games, especially during the playoffs. • Afton Alps, Hastings, • Wild Mountain, Taylors Falls, • Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Area, Welch, If you have a fourth-grader, sign up now to get the Minnesota Ski Areas Association’s 4th Grade Passport Program pass because it can take a few weeks for it to arrive. Pass holders have to rent their gear if they don’t have any, but they’re entitled to a minimum of two free lift tickets at every participating Minnesota ski area, which is most of them. Once you fall in love with skiing, you’ll notice something remarkable: You, oddly, won’t want winter to end.

Hit the North Shore While all your friends are vacationing to warmer climes, don’t fall into a hatescrolling hole.

Instead, schedule your own local trip (sans airfare) up the North Shore, which is incredible in high winter with nature-made icicle sculptures, shifting sheets of ice and snow near the shores of Gitche Gumee and even icebreaker tug boats. • Duluth: This city is always magical, and we’ve recently fallen in love with the Pier B Resort Hotel, which is family and dog friendly and includes a restaurant and bar on site. It also affords unique views of the Aerial Lift Bridge from its harborside location a few blocks from the Great Lakes Aquarium. • Lutsen: You don’t have to love skiing to visit this town, thanks to a consistent live-music lineup at Lutsen Mountains, including — to name a few — Yam Haus (Jan. 4); a Ski Party Music & Ski Festival (Jan. 10–11), featuring Dead Man Winter, Charlie Parr, the Cactus Blossoms, the BlackEyed Snakes, Portal III and Humbird; and, on Feb. 8, Cloud Cult. Learn more about concert packages at • Grand Marais: Let’s just get this out right now: World’s Best Donuts of Grand Marais is not open in winter. And some of your other favorite seasonal haunts may be closed as well. But that doesn’t mean nothing’s going on up here in winter. Check out these cool happenings: → Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race: This spectator-friendly event (Jan. 10–11) starts and finishes on the Gunflint Trail and includes a 12-dog, 110-mile race and an eightdog, 70-mile race.

→ Hygge Festival: Throughout Cook County, take part in events (Feb. 7–16) that celebrate the art of feeling relaxed, cozy and surrounded by the warmth of family, friends, community and fire. Throughout February, you can also go on a selfguided Fireplace Tour, including historic and interesting hearths at locations all around the region. → Pincushion Ski Festival: Just north of Grand Marais, check out this Loppet of the north, going on Feb. 15–16. Organized by the North Superior Ski and Run Club, the event includes skiing events for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers in classical, freestyle and skijoring competitions — all open to adults and children with some fees as low as $5. If you bring your dog, you can to try skijoring — cross-country skiing while being pulled by your dog, ideally across a frozen lake. Our family lodging suggestion is East Bay Suites in Grand Marais, complete with in-room kitchens and located right on the lake next to a co-op and an outdoors store. Learn more about events and other lodging ideas at Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Parent. • December 2019



December 2019 •

These days, going green doesn’t have to be about fitting a year’s worth of trash into a Mason jar. It’s about becoming a more conscious consumer in ways that work for you and your family. BY ERICA WACKER

here’s no shortage of scary statistics about how much trash Americans produce (over 4 pounds per person, per day), how big our carbon footprint is (more than triple the world average) or how little of our plastic actually gets recycled (9% — yikes). If you’re like me, these stats make you feel two things — a strong desire to do something about it and an overwhelming fear of having no idea where to start. Changing your family’s routine to “go green” seems even more daunting when you’re a parent. Shuttling kids to and from school, activities and grandma’s house is most efficient in a car — a big one, at that. Feeding them on the go is easiest via yogurt tubes and squeeze pouches. And don’t get me started on food waste — no matter what I put on my kids’ dinner plates, only a fraction of it will be eaten before I hear the inevitable: “Am I done yet?” So what’s a modern family to do? Change nothing, because it won’t matter anyway? Or go full-bore and build a tiny house on an island in the Mississippi? The answer, luckily, falls somewhere in the middle. Today’s zero-waste movement isn’t about fitting a year’s worth of trash into a Mason jar. It’s about taking small steps to become a more conscious consumer in ways that work for you and your family. “Do what you can within your budget and let go of what you can’t,” said Kristina Mattson, a registered nurse, mom of three and co-founder of the Zero Waste Saint Paul advocacy group. “If you get hung up on the ‘cant’s,’ it can get really overwhelming. Pick two or three things and build upon that.” A helpful tool for reframing your thinking around zero waste is the “5 Rs.” In addition to the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra we all grew up with, zero waste adds two more: Refuse (resist our culture’s call to buy newly manufactured things) and Rot (compost).

With that in mind, here are some realistic and impactful tips from local zero-waste experts on how to make your life — and our planet — a little greener. Who knows? You may instill habits and values in your kids to last a lifetime.

Sustainable shopping Kate Marnach, a former clinical engineer living in Maple Grove, became interested in zero waste when she started having kids. Frustrated by how hard it was to find plastic-free items locally, she and friend Amber Haukedahl, a conservation biologist, took matters into their own hands and opened Tare Market in Minneapolis this past spring. Minnesota’s first zero-waste market, pictured below, Tare is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to live more sustainably. The store sells bulk foods, cleaning and bath products, including many items that can’t be found elsewhere. “We’ve done the work for you to find products that are as close to zero waste as possible,” said Marnach, whose kids are now 7, 4 and 2. If you’re new to this type of shopping, don’t feel intimidated: “We’re here to help and walk you through the process.”

The store also hosts regular classes on topics such as composting, mending and transitioning your home to zero waste. Co-ops, such as the Wedge in Minneapolis or Mississippi Markets in St. Paul, also make sustainable shopping easier by sourcing local and organic products, and offering a wide variety of foods in bulk. Contrary to popular belief, co-ops aren’t always more expensive: Bulk foods often cost less than packaged ones; members get additional discounts and coupons; and many accept SNAP and WIC, making them accessible to low-income families. If you don’t have a co-op nearby, Marnach recommends Fresh Thyme and Whole Foods for their bulk sections. And, if you’re being mindful of the products you’re buying — and the packaging — Mattson said traditional grocery stores such as Cub, Lunds & Byerlys and Kowalski’s, which all have bulk sections, can be good options, too. Even Target, she said, has recycling programs and a sustainability mission: “They’re really moving toward being mindful of waste through the whole supply chain.”

Do what you can within your budget and let go of what you can’t. If you get hung up on the ‘cant’s,’ it can get really overwhelming. Pick two or three things and build upon that. — Kristina Mattson, a registered nurse, mom of three and co-founder of Zero Waste Saint Paul


December 2019 •

Secondhand channels Beyond groceries, shopping secondhand is an awesome way to cut down on waste. You won’t be requiring a manufacturing plant to create and ship something new from overseas — and you’ll skip the plastics/bags/ties, Styrofoam and cardboard boxes used not just for the basic packaging and display, but also for the copious amounts of packing and shipping needed if you order online.

Mattson recommends social media marketplaces such as local buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook, thrift stores and hand-me-downs from friends. Keep the driving to a minimum when buying or selling by using NextDoor, which can be limited to your immediate neighborhood. Add to that baby-gear resale events, more than a dozen locations of Once Upon a Child in Minnesota and Little Free Libraries everywhere you turn — plus actual libraries. In Richfield, the Minneapolis Toy Library rents out toys for an annual fee. You may start to wonder why you ever bought anything brand new. Whether you’re shopping at Tare or Target, always remember to bring your own bags. Opting for paper over plastic won’t do much good: It actually takes more resources to produce a paper bag than a plastic one. Get in the habit of keeping your bags by the back door or in your car so you never leave home without them.

Eco-conscious eating A lot of zero waste is about packaging, yes. And the trend of reusable straws and water bottles — and those amazing refill fountains at schools and airports — have helped. But what we eat and drink has a much larger impact than what it comes in. According to the research journal Science, our global food system accounts for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, with food packaging making up only 5% of that total. Animal products, especially beef, lamb, farmed crustaceans and cheese, have the biggest footprint, followed by pork, farmed fish, poultry and eggs. If you’re not ready to go vegan or vegetarian, that’s OK. Cutting out red meat, even once or twice a week, can make a big difference. Trade cheeseburgers for well-seasoned turkey or wild rice patties, and you might not even miss the beef and cheddar; or you might check out plantbased Impossible Burgers and Beyond Burgers/Beyond Sausage options sold in grocery stores and at Burger King, White Castle, Carls Jr., Dunkin’ and more. Eating local is another beneficial and — thanks to the abundance of local farms and eco-conscious restaurants in Minnesota — easy choice to make. Many local restaurants — such as Birchwood Cafe, Brasa, French Meadow,

Keg and Case Market, Kieran’s Kitchen, Wise Acre Eatery and dozens of others — pride themselves on sourcing local and organic ingredients, even growing their own food on rooftops and nearby farms. Being a locavore can be a way to connect to local farmers, too: In summer, you can bring the whole family to one of Birchwood’s “Crop Mobs” for a day of real farm work at Riverbend Farm in Delano (pictured at left). Every July, you can tour local farms as part of the annual, self-guided Co-op Farm Tour, too. Many local farms open to the public to offer everything from strawberries in the spring to apples in the fall. Farmers markets are also plentiful in Minnesota, with more than 75 in the metro area alone. The selection changes every week based on what’s in season, so you can be sure it’s fresh, local and virtually packaging-free. In July and August, check out Tiny Diner’s farmers market on Thursday nights, with kid-friendly themes including baby goat day and chicken poop bingo. If you like to cook, you can take it a step further and sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share, which creates a direct connection between your family and the farmers who grow the food you’ll get to enjoy all season long. Growing your own veggies is another fun way to teach your kids where food comes from — and it doesn’t get more local than your own backyard! Kids are more apt to eat food they grow, too. (They love ripping the veggies right off the plants.) Winter is an ideal time to plan a garden, too, thanks to colorful, dreamy seed catalogs that go out in January — just the thing for winter-weary souls. Check out four perfect projects for kids (including three edibles) at

10 quick tips

Once you make one or two of these changes, you’ll start to see how easy it is to change habits you never even thought about before. And it won’t be long before others — ahem, even your kids — start following your lead. (Now if anyone has tips on how to get my kids to finish their vegetables, I’m all ears!) • Do a trash audit to determine what you throw out that could be composted, recycled or replaced with reusable alternatives; learn how at • When in doubt, throw it out: Trying to recycle items that aren’t recyclable can cause more harm than good. • Opt into wind-sourced energy through your energy company for a few extra dollars a month. • Replace paper towels with cloth rags. You can even cut up old receiving blankets. • Swap plastic baggies and plastic wrap for reusable options; check out items from Cardinal Craftworks (below) for cute styles handmade by a local mom. • Put older food in the front of your fridge/cupboards so you don’t forget to eat it. • Trust your senses on expiration dates. “Sell by” and “Best by” do not mean expired. • Go meatless one day a week. • Skip your commute and work from home if/when you can. • Ask family members to give your kids experiences as gifts rather than more “stuff.”

Disposing of it all If you want to make a huge difference with a small amount of effort, Mattson has the answer: Start composting. • December 2019


Most metro-area counties offer free dropoff sites, compost bins and bags, and even curbside pickup in some cities. In addition to food scraps, you can compost literally hundreds of things this way, including paper towels, tissues, greasy pizza boxes, pet hair and so much more. Composting in your backyard — or even indoors with red wriggler worms! — is another option.

You may have read that China stopped taking recyclables from other countries last year, forcing some American cities to cut back on or even discontinue their recycling services. Lucky for us, Minnesota sorts most of its recycling locally, which means that as long as you’re recycling correctly, your paper, plastic, glass and aluminum shouldn’t end up in a landfill. Many local businesses, in fact, use some of the state’s recyclables for their manufacturing, such as By the Yard furniture in Jordan (HDPE plastic), Spectro Alloys in Rosemount (aluminum) and Rock Tenn in St. Paul (paper and cardboard), among others. The U.S. has dealt with the 2018 changes in China by stockpiling valuable recyclables and by turning to other countries that are accepting imported materials. But quality matters more than ever, making contamination a bigger issue. And that’s where American households come into play. Some common recycling mistakes people make are putting plastic bags in their curbside recycling bins (take those to


December 2019 •

your grocery store drop-off) and trying to recycle black plastic, Styrofoam and other items that have recycling symbols, but aren’t accepted by your local hauler. Take 10 minutes to review what’s accepted on your county or city’s website; most have handy guides you can print out and hang on the fridge for the whole family to reference. A lot of other packaging, including food wrappers and personal care and cleaning product bottles, can be recycled through TerraCycle, which offers free recycling for a variety of mainstream brands: Find local drop-off sites on the company’s website or ship your items — such as GoGo squeeZ apple sauce pouches and Febreez cans — for free. Loop — a new e-commerce platform — is offering zero-waste packaging options for popular products from P&G, Unilever, Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca Cola and many others. It’s not available in the Twin Cities yet, but it allows consumers to get products ranging from Haagen Dazs ice cream to Pantene shampoo in durable, reusable containers that can be returned for cleaning and refill.  (You can sign up for the global waiting list at When it comes to bigger things like electronics, furniture, clothes, toys and more, look for city- and county-sponsored recycling events and other special collections, like Target’s semiannual car seat trade-in.

Greener ways to get around Nearly 60% of car trips in America are 5 miles or fewer, and transportation is now Minnesota’s biggest source of carbon emissions. If you don’t have access to public transit, driving may be the only way to get where you need to go. But just like rethinking your shopping and eating habits, changing how you get around can be approached one step at a time. Think about everywhere you go in a typical week — work, school, the grocery

GREEN-LIVING RESOURCES → Do It Green! Minnesota, sustainability tips and community events, → How2Recycle, sustainable packaging initiative providing recycling tips, → Minnesota Grown, searchable directory of local farmers markets, farms and CSAs, → Recycling Association of Minnesota, nonprofit providing recycling resources and events, → ReUSE Minnesota, online network of local reuse, repair and rental companies, → Save the Food, recipes, food storage and more for reducing food waste, → TerraCycle, recycling services and resources for otherwise nonrecyclable items, → Zeroish, sustainable living blog by three local moms, including Tare Market’s Kate Marnach,

store, church, the gym, other errands. Use Google Maps to see if any of those trips could be done on foot, bike or public transportation. If not, try combining multiple errands into one trip or carpooling with a friend or coworker to cut down on your daily mileage. While adults tend to focus on getting from point A to point B in the fastest way possible, Julia Curran, who lives car free in Minneapolis, encourages people to remember how fun it was to walk, bike or ride the train as a kid. If your kids are anything like mine, the light rail ride to Target Field is often more fun than the game itself. Erica Wacker lives in St. Paul with her husband and two boys. Her household is celebrating its one-year compostiversary. Follow her journey in eco-friendly living at


The holidays are the happiest time of year for many, but they’re also the most wasteful. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), all of that food, packaging, gift wrap and shopping bags add up to an additional 1 million tons of waste every week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Ask for experiences: While it may be an awkward conversation to start, it’s important to let your friends and family know your preferences around gifts. Ask for experiences and edible gifts in place of physical ones. Tell people with older kids that you would happily accept their hand-me-downs versus new toys and clothes. The MPCA has some family-friendly green gift ideas, including Minnesota State Park permits, ski passes, museum memberships and homemade items. See Also, remember that every November, Do It Green! Minnesota puts on a Green Gifts Fair. Learn more at Rethink gift wrap: Wrapping paper is problematic. Paper covered in glitter and foil — or mixed up with ribbons, bows and tissue paper — isn’t recyclable. Purchase wrapping paper that’s labeled as recyclable; reuse gift bags as many times as you can; and wrap things in newspaper, cloth or one of your extra reusable shopping bags. Decorate smart: For decorations, use festive and natural elements such as pinecones, dried fruit and evergreen branches. For lights, opt for LED, which use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent ones. If they do burn out, many local cities host recycling events after the holidays, along with recycling for live trees and wreaths. Learn more: Find ideas for eco-friendly holidays all year long at


WHEN SCHOOL IS OUT THE Y IS IN! Full day programs during vacation break for kids in grades K-12.


Grades K – 6 Enjoy friends, fun & field trips

DAY CAMP ADVENTURES (5 locations) Grades K – 6 Get outside, into nature & explore.



Parents Night Out is Saturday, December 14. Drop off kids ages 2 – 10 for a night of food, fun and games. Registration is required.

YMCA MNP 1219 H2.indd 1

For more details go to or call 612-230-9622. Membership not required to enroll.


Engage in the ultimate winter camp experience. • Camp Menogyn – Ages 12-18 • Camp Warren – Ages 7-16

11/14/19 11:05 AM • December 2019




My kids’ stepmom was heaven sent — kind, thoughtful and caring. All I had to do was accept her. BY ERIN GIPFORD

I Tina Gipford (left) married Erin Gipford’s ex-husband, Shawn. In their recent book, Tina and Erin take turns sharing how they managed to not just survive but thrive with five kids involved in two households. Photo courtesy of Michael Marren Photography

was in the middle of a kiddo-less week. That meant my 1-year-old son, Lance, and my 4-year-old daughter, April, were spending an entire seven days not only with their dad, but also with his new girlfriend, Tina. I was still trying to adjust to the entire situation, attempting to see the silver linings. At this point, though, they were hard to find. We’d been officially divorced for only a few months, and we were all still adjusting to our new separate lives. I always tried to keep myself busy when the kids were at their dad’s place, but for some reason, this particular week was feeling harder and lonelier than usual. Pity party, table for one, please! My ex had started dating already. His girlfriend was still a person of mystery. I knew she existed because April talked about her all the time. Still, I hadn’t yet seen her in physical form. This was completely OK with me. I wasn’t ready to paste on a fake smile and try to pretend that I was happy to meet my ex-husband’s girlfriend. I didn’t know if I ever would be. I mean, how awkward. I could only imagine our introduction going something like, “Hi. I’m glad you like my ex-husband. Please be nice to my kids. Oh, and did you know that he [insert all his bad traits here].” • December 2019


Yes, that would’ve been beyond weird. Funny, inappropriate and possibly a bit soothing for my soul, but weird nonetheless. Nope, I wasn’t ready for any of that. Apparently, however, God had his own plan.

Meeting Tina My phone rang and a number that I didn’t recognize appeared on my screen. Normally, I don’t even answer phone calls when I don’t recognize the number. I figure if it’s important, they’ll leave a message. But for some reason, probably out of complete boredom from not having to be a parent that week, I answered. “Hello? Erin?” I heard a soft, quiet female voice ask on the other end of the line. “Yes? This is Erin.” I responded, with a little hesitation. “Hi Erin. This is Tina. I have April here next to me, and she has some exciting news that she wants to share with you.

Here she is.” “Hi, Mom!” April shouted into the phone. “Hey, sweetheart, how are you? What is the big news?” I asked, trying to sound excited even though I had a hundred other emotions and questions rising up inside of me. “Guess what? I lost my first tooth!” April screamed. “Oh, wow! That’s awesome!” April continued to fill me in on all the tiny details pertaining to the loss of her first tooth, and I was overflowing with mommy joy. It had been a long, lonely week by myself and talking to April was just the antidote I needed. My mommy heart had been recharged once again.

A pivotal moment Wow, I thought after I hung up the phone, just wow. I was stunned, to say the least. It was very considerate of Tina to help April

make that phone call. Never in a million years would I have ever expected my ex-husband’s girlfriend of four months to initiate and help my child contact me to ensure I was involved in the celebration of losing her first tooth. That must have taken a lot of courage on her part. If I had been in her shoes, I probably would have forced Shawn to make the phone call out of complete fear. But, in hindsight, I was so glad it was Tina who called me that day. It allowed me to see a small, yet very important, glimpse of her character — exactly when I needed to see it. What’s funny is that, even to this day, neither Tina nor I can remember when we met face to face. We both came to the conclusion that it must not have been a traumatic experience if neither one of us could even remember it. I’ll always remember the monumental interaction I had with my children’s

The Gipfords — clockwise starting top left — include Sam, 18, Shawn, Lance, 14, April, 18, Erin, Kenzie, 10, Tina, and Kacey, 12. Photo courtesy of Pam Dusbabek / Heart of Life Photography

If both of us hadn’t been focused on the same goal — happy kids — this relationship could have quickly turned sour and affected my two innocent children for a lifetime. future stepmom on the phone that day. It really was a pivotal point in our newly budding relationship. Tina could have chosen fear that day and not called me, and I could have chosen resentment. It was definitely a test of strength, faith and commitment on both of our parts. If both of us hadn't been focused on the same goal — happy kids — this relationship could have quickly turned sour and affected my two innocent children for a lifetime.

Working together Over the course of the following 10 years, there were many more of these key moments between the two of us. For instance, a year or so into Shawn and Tina’s relationship, Tina decided to open an in-home daycare. It just made sense that my kids would stay there during the day. So many people within my inner circle gasped at the news when I told them. But I wasn’t about to let anyone else decide what was, or was not good, for my family. I decided to trust my instinct and allow Tina to care for my children. Soon Tina — who had a daughter of her own from a previous relationship —

became my go-to contact for any childrelated questions. It was simply faster and more accurate to ask Tina instead of my ex-husband. This was a gigantic step in the right direction for our relationship. Soon, the kids were all school age, which meant we were all attending various sporting events together. Seeing each other on a daily basis for daycare made sporting events and other school functions a breeze for our blended family. By this point, we had no problems sitting together as a family to cheer on our favorite athletes. It was never awkward or uncomfortable. I knew this lady was going to be sticking around and that she would be playing a very important role in my children’s lives whether I liked it or not. Thankfully, I made the choice to like it.

Writing it all down

Serving people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, HOBT collaborates with SCHOOLS and COMMUNITIES on unique, interactive ART RESIDENCIES that nurture the creative spirit and encourage a sense of joy and wonder. Visit or call 612.721.2535

I knew for a long time that my next for more information. contribution to the world was going to be in the form of a book. Since becoming self-employed, I had No N1ew 7/6/16 10:36 AM In the Heart of the Beast MNP 2016 V6 filler.indd rth O found so much pleasure in soaking up & ffice Ea st Ms in other people’s knowledge and experietr o! ences. I was inspired to write, to create, to share knowledge. At first, however, I had no clear idea what form or subject matter this book would take. What unique experiences could I We offer: possibly offer anyone in this great, big Individual & Couples Therapy world? What was I passionate about? What Emotional Coping Skills Groups was I most proud of thus far? What had I struggled with — but ultimately overcome Pregnancy • Birthing Issues Postpartum Attachment • Trauma — in my 38 years on this earth? Parenting (0–30yrs) • Infertility I quickly realized these questions all had Changing Roles • Work-Family Balance the same answer: Co-parenting! Pregnancy & Infant Loss I was an expert. But when I first decided to write this book, nothing flowed. Nothing came out right. All the words were being held captive and I didn’t know Counseling Center how to open the floodgates. Over the next three months, I sat down Metro Locations Locations and tried to write more times than I care 1010Metro Most insurance accepted most insurance accepted to admit. Each attempt ultimately

Hey Mama, You Matter!

Postpartum • December 2019

Postpartum Counseling Center MNP 0719 V6.indd 1


6/13/19 1:34 PM

I knew this lady was going to be sticking around and that she would be playing a very important role in my children’s lives whether I liked it or not. Thankfully, I made the choice to like it. Photo courtesy of Pam Dusbabek / Heart of Life Photography

ended with “Select All” and “Delete.” By Mother’s Day morning in 2018, I had rewritten three chapters and, out of complete frustration, deleted every single word. Something wasn’t right.

It shouldn’t be this difficult. I knew I was missing something. But what? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that almost all of my proudest co-parenting moments involved Tina. My heart started racing. Maybe Tina and I should write this book together? How cool would it be to share our stories and struggles from both the mom and stepmom perspectives? But would she even consider it?

Partnering up

(Step)Mom: A Dual Memoir: How We Navigated Divorce, Remarriage & Co-Parenting With the Same Goal — Happy Children came out in May 2019. Request a free excerpt at


December 2019 •

I could hardly believe that I was driving up my ex-husband’s driveway in hopes of talking his wife into co-authoring a book with me. I must be crazy. My emotions were on a rollercoaster. I was excited, but nervous, scared, but ready to face rejection. It was a beautiful, warm Mother’s Day afternoon, so we decided to sit outside and soak up the sun while we chatted. I pitched her the book idea and, without any bribery or arm-twisting, she willingly hopped on board. We proceeded to share stories and reflect on the past 13 years. It was the perfect ending to the best Mother’s Day ever.

In May 2019, we independently published our short-form story — available in paperback and on Kindle: (Step)Mom: A Dual Memoir: How We Navigated Divorce, Remarriage & Co-Parenting With the Same Goal — Happy Children. Rather than writing another “how-to” parenting book, we wanted to do something more authentic and entertaining. We took turns sharing stories, from the unique vantage points of a mom and a stepmom, on the trials and tribulations of raising kids between two families. Before the book, Tina and I had always gotten along. But I wouldn’t say we were BFFs by any means. We kept our social lives separate and we just didn’t speak as openly and honestly as we do now, post-book. Now, over a year later, my relationship with Shawn and Tina has grown even stronger. Writing the book is still at the top of my “best things I’ve ever done” list. Erin Gipford, a graphic designer and photographer, and Tina Gipford, a stay-athome mom and daycare operator, live in rural Wisconsin. Learn more about their book at

Out & About DECEMBER

Rudolph: The Musical ⊲ The beloved TV classic leaps off the screen and onto the stage, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph. When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27 Where: Ames Center, Burnsville Cost: $38–$58 Info:


NOV. 29–DEC. 22

NOV. 29–DEC. 8

⊲ Stroll through the arboretum’s gardens on a self-guided tour of botanically themed light displays.

⊲ Visit Santa, see fireworks and take part in holiday shopping, games and a kid zone, featuring a climbing wall, slides, a maze, a tunnel, hay bales and more.

⊲ This screening of the classic musical is complete with subtitles so the whole audience can sing along.

Winter Lights

When: Through Jan. 5 Where: Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska Cost: $15 for ages 16 and up, free for ages 15 and younger Info:

Sever’s Holiday Lights ⊲ Enjoy the sights and sounds of a half-mile course located at Sever’s new home, featuring more than 1 million lights set to classic holiday music. When: Through Jan. 5 Where: Sever’s Fall Festival grounds, 3121 W. 150th St., Shakopee Cost: $5 per person, $20 per vehicle Info:


December 2019 •


When: Thursdays–Sundays Nov. 29–Dec. 22 Where: Loring Park, Minneapolis Cost: FREE Info:

NOV. 29–DEC. 28


⊲ On Friday and Saturday evenings, see the science museum transformed by colored lighting and large-scale interactive art installations. When: Nov. 29–Dec. 28 Where: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul Cost: $8.95–$19.95 for ages 4 and older Info:

Sound of Music Sing-a-long

When: Nov. 29–Dec. 8 Where: Riverview Theater, Minneapolis Cost: $7.50–$12 Info:

NOV. 30, DEC. 1, 7, 8

Holly Trolley

⊲ Take a streetcar ride with Santa, then toast a marshmallow and warm up by a friendly fire. Each ride is about 20 minutes; no advance tickets or reservations are required. When: Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7, 8 Where: Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, Minneapolis Cost: $4 per passenger Info:

NOV. 30, DEC. 1, 27, 28

DEC. 3–4

⊲ Families can enjoy songs, stories and games at this annual holiday performance hosted by popular performer Ross Sutter.

⊲ Ages 5–12 are invited to experience traditional African instruments, learn African songs, play rhythms together and listen to stories from the rural homeland of local Congolese performer Siama.

Julgladje Concert

When: Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 27, 28 Where: American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis Cost: $5–$12 for ages 6 and up, free for ages 5 and younger Info:

DEC. 1–20

Annie Jr. ⊲ Little orphan Annie charms everyone’s hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. When: Dec. 1–20 Where: SteppingStone Theatre, St. Paul Cost: $14–$18 Info:

DEC. 2–7

Laser Week ⊲ There will be multiple laser shows each night; typical themes will include The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and tales from mythology. When: Dec. 2–7 Where: Como Planetarium, St. Paul Cost: $5 Info:

DEC. 2–24

Santa’s Wonderland ⊲ All Cabela’s locations are offering free 4x6 studio-quality 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:



When: Dec. 3–4 Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: $5 per child Info:


DEC. 4–5

Listen To Your Mother Alumni Holiday Show

Tubman Center MNP filler 12.indd 1

1/25/19 10:48 AM

⊲ Each LTYM show gives voice to motherhood in the form of original readings, performed live on-stage by their authors. When: Dec. 4–5 Where: Riverview Theater, Minneapolis Cost: $20, online only Info:

DEC. 6

Holiday Tree Lighting and Movie Night ⊲ Enjoy a live music performance, the ceremonial lighting of the Union Depot Holiday Tree, fireworks and a screening of Elf, followed by The Polar Express. When: Dec. 6 Where: Union Depot, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

DEC. 6–22

European Christmas Market ⊲ Based on the traditional open-air Christkindlmarkts of Germany, Austria and other countries during the Advent season, this event features live entertainment, shopping and holiday refreshments. When: Fridays–Sundays Dec. 6–22 Where: Union Depot, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info: • December 2019


Out & About DEC. 6–22

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells ⊲ In this all-ages show, the famous firstgrader Junie B. Jones is super-excited about the upcoming holiday sing-along. When: Dec. 6–22 Where: Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, Minneapolis Cost: $7–$15 Info:

DEC. 7

Grand Meander ⊲ Choose a pre-cut Christmas tree, have breakfast with Santa, hear carolers as they meander from store to store and hop on a classic trolley. When: Dec. 7 Where: Grand Avenue, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest Winners ⊲ Taste samples of the winning recipes and vote for your favorite cookie to help select a winner for the visitors’ choice award. When: Dec. 7 Where: Mill City Museum, Minneapolis Cost: Included with museum admission of $6–12 Info:

DEC. 8

Say It! Sing It! Play It! ⊲ Cherokee tribal member and Z Puppets performer Chris Griffith leads songs in Cherokee and tells stories about language reclamation for ages 3 and older. When: Dec. 8 Where: Z Puppets Rosenschnoz, Minneapolis Cost: $5–$15 suggested donation, free for all tribal members Info:

DEC. 10–11

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train ⊲ See a real train decked out for the holidays at a variety of quick stops with musical performances by Meghan Patrick, Tanika Charles and Kelly Prescott.

Photo courtesy of A.J. Mellor

Ice Castles ⊲ Built using thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists, this outdoor event features LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and more. When: Past opening dates have ranged from December to midJanuary, weather depending. Where: Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton Cost: TBD. Past prices ranged from $7.95–$20 per person. Info:

When: Dec. 10 (Cottage Grove and St. Paul) and Dec. 11 (Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis) Where: Various Cost: FREE Info:

DEC. 14, FEB. 15

Monster Jam

⊲ This motorsports extravaganza features a mix of high-flying action and four-wheel excitement. When: Dec. 14, Feb. 15 Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis Cost: Tickets start at $15. Info:

DEC. 15, 22

Hanukkah Lights in the Big Sky ⊲ When a brick is thrown at a menorah set in a child’s window for Hanukkah, community leaders of all faiths come together in this play based on true events that occurred in 1993 in Billings, Montana. When: Dec. 15, 22 Where: Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, St. Paul Cost: $20 Info:

DEC. 15

Santa’s Workshop ⊲ Play games, join activities and take a free photo with Santa in the main atrium. Then experience Romanian holiday traditions for kids. When: Dec. 15 Where: Landmark Center, St. Paul Cost: FREE Info:

DEC. 26–29

Winter Weekend ⊲ Create cool light patterns with a make-and-take CD snowflake activity and try some scientific illustrations in Collections Cove at this Family Discovery Days event. When: Dec. 26–29 Where: Bell Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9–$12 for ages 3 and up Info:

DEC. 31

New Year’s Noon ⊲ Create your own spin drum craft, experiment with prisms and join a special countdown at noon. When: Dec. 31 Where: Bell Museum, St. Paul Cost: $9–$12 for ages 3 and up Info: • December 2019


Out & About

The Nutcracker ⊲ This is the Twin Cities’ only fulllength classic production with a full live orchestra performing the complete Tchaikovsky score. When: Dec. 13–15 Where: Lindbergh Center Auditorium, Minnetonka Cost: $44–$59 Info:

Photo courtesy of the Moscow Ballet

The Great Russian Nutcracker ⊲ This Moscow Ballet production features world-class artists, over 200 costumes, hand-painted sets, towering puppets and more. When: Dec. 6–7 Cost: Tickets start at $33.

Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy ⊲ More than 150 dancers, artists and production professionals collaborate in this annual production from the Minnesota Dance Theatre. When: Dec. 13–23 Where: State Theatre, Minneapolis Cost: $30–$75 Info:

⊲ Ballet Minnesota’s 32nd-annual performance returns to the campus of St. Catherine’s University. When: Dec. 13–15 Where: The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul Cost: $21–$46 Info:

Where: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis Info:

DEC. 13–23

The Classic Nutcracker

DEC. 13–15

DEC. 21

⊲ This Russian classical version of The Nutcracker is faithful to the original Marius Petipa choreography.

⊲ T. Mychael Rambo hosts — and the James Sewell Ballet dances — in this 85-minute performance with one intermission.

A Nutcracker Story

The Nutcracker

When: Dec. 13–15 Where: Eden Prairie Performing Arts Center Cost: $20–$35; $15 for Girl Scouts on Friday and Saturday Info:

When: Dec. 21 Where: The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul Cost: $22–$44 Info:


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

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

Call 952-935-5588 and schedule a tour!

Locations in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and St. Paul

MNP 1219 Marketplace_Dani.indd 1


December 2019 •

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

11/20/19 12:25 PM 12/13/18 12:01 Mis Amigos PM MNP 0118 2cx2.2.indd 1

10/18/17 9:38 AM



Learning Center & Day Care | 6 Wks - School Age Family Owned, Family Run Since 1985

Portrait Parties


Magical Themes your Child will Love

8736 Nicollet Ave S, Bloomington

Your child is a natural...

Rainbow Montessori MNP 0119 2cx1.indd 1


12/4/18 Ginger 4:23 PM Sprouts MNP 0419 1cx1.indd 3/18/191 12:52 Party PM Resources MNP 2013 2cx1 filler.indd 1



Ages 3–Adult


Choose band size &/or Panda! • Music for all ages available! • Special rates for flexible scheduling

CHILDREN’S YAMAHA MUSIC SCHOOL Celebrating Over 40 Musical Years in Minnesota! • 612-339-2255 Schools in Edina & Roseville

Creative Kids Academy Learn


Reserve your fun! 651.487.8272 or visit

6/22/17 Como 2:51 PM Zoo MNP 0518 1cx2.indd 4/17/18 1 2:43 PM

Kids Birthday

Free Music, Spanish, Yoga, and Karate!

Package includes

Anoka * Apple Valley * Centerville * Lexington * Maple Grove Minnetonka * Mounds View * Orono NOW OPEN — Elk River! 763-777-9100 844-ckakids email:

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

$13.95 per person + tax & service fee.

Nationally accredited and Parent Aware 4 star rated


7 themes to choose from For children ages 1+



Creative Kids Academy MNP 0819 2cx2.2.indd 1

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

Bowling Party

Early Education * 6 Weeks–12 Years H

1:09 PM (612) 861-3570

5/15/15 10:45 TeddyAM Bear Band MNP 0717 2cx2.2.indd 1

Imagine the Possibilities... Create

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

Free Preview Classes

Children's Yamaha MNP 0615 2cx2.2.indd 1


6/28/19 1:50 PM

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


3401 Louisiana Ave. South St. Louis Park, MN


Park Tavern MNP 0119 3cx3.indd 1



12/12/18 10:50 AM


12/14, 1/11, 2/8

$12 per family • $6 individuals plus: “pay what you can” option

Tapestry Folkdance Center • 3748 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis • 612-722-2914 •

MNP 1219 Marketplace_Dani.indd 2 Education Resources MNP 2014 2cx2.6 filler.indd 1

Fun for all ages Simple & easy to learn Live music • Dancing

11/20/19 12:26 PM

9/19/19 Tapestry 4:17 PM Folkdance Center MNP 1219 3cx1.indd 1 • December 2019


11/18/19 10:43 PM


Good cheer!

There’s just something about the holidays that brings out our kids’ cuteness, don’t you think?

↑ Tanner, 2, Blake, 9 months, and Grayson, 3, of East Bethel

↑ Landyn, 1, cousin Birdie, 2, and Shea, 5, of St. Paul and Robbinsdale

↑ Luka, 7, and Mateo, 3 months, of Chanhassen with Santa

↑ Linnea, 3, and Callie, 1, of Anoka

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


December 2019 •

Profile for Minnesota Parent

December 2019  

December 2019