Give to the Max Day 2019

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Give to The Max Day is a day set aside to give to a specific cause near and dear to your heart or to find a new cause you want to support! On Thursday, November 14th, join our team and people across Minnesota to give easily and quickly to these wonderful organizations that continue to do incredible things statewide. Here are some organizations that work directly with women, children, and families locally! To find out more about how Give to the Max Day started click here.


Featured Causes

We support all of the organizations included and these featured are organizations that we’ve partnered with directly through our events, bringing them near and dear to our hearts as we’ve gotten to know the people behind each organization.

Emerge Mothers Academy (Shoreview)Emerge Mothers Academy was founded in 2011 and officially recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2012.  Since then we have come alongside many Twin Cities families, headed up by single mothers, to serve them in many facets of their lives. We value:  Personal Development, Health & Wellness, Constructive Parenting, and Financial Independence. Each of our programs point back to these values, and serve the mothers in their deepest needs (emotional, mental, spiritual and tangible) as they strive to emerge from the depths of abandonment, divorce, separation, death or betrayal.  One of the greatest ways we are serving these women is with our Work-Preparation and MicroLoan grant program.  In both cases we are making leaders of these women, helping them see their great capacity for change and building back their confidence.  We also have a 94% job-placement rate!  WOW! We are grateful for your support, your donations are used to help make a lasting difference in these precious Minnesotan lives.

Kids in Need Foundation (Roseville) | The Kids In Need Foundation’s mission is to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed in the classroom by providing free school supplies nationally to students most in need. For the 15 million kids who come from families struggling with extreme poverty, getting school supplies can make all the difference in the world to their future success. Last year, the Kids In Need Foundation helped nearly 200,000 teachers and more than 6 million students in some of the most challenged communities across the country.

Dress for Success Twin Cities (St. Paul) | The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. They offer high touch, high impact career and workplace skills development programs for low income women to help them achieve career advancement, career stability and economic sustainability.


Women

Missing Grace Foundation (Rogers) | National nonprofit providing support, education and resources for families experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, infertility or adoption.

Second Stork (St. Paul) | Second Stork gives women the basics to care for a newborn during the first crucial months of life. Second Stork is dedicated to serving a very distinct and typically under-served group of women — new mothers who find themselves in desperate need of practical, immediate support. They focus on direct and urgent material aid — diapers, portable cribs, and other essential care items. Their goal, through the partnership of hospital social workers, is to provide assistance as soon as a mother’s need becomes evident, with no red tape, no paperwork … just immediate help.  They currently serve over 60 Minnesota hospitals and will help 2,000 newborns in crisis this year.

Women Venture (Minneapolis) | Women Venture is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women start and grow small businesses in the Twin Cities. For more than three decades, WomenVenture has provided women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to achieve economic success through small business ownership.


Children & Families

360 Communities (Burnsville) | 360 provides hope and support to about 18,000 individuals each year with services in over 40 locations, including a network of five food shelves, two resource centers, two domestic and sexual violence shelters (Lewis House), and two programs that support school success from birth through high school graduation.

Amherst H. Wilder Foundation (St. Paul)  A nonprofit community organization that helps children, families and older adults in the greater East Metro area of Saint Paul through direct service programs, research, leadership development, and community building. Wilder serves thousands of children and families each year through mental health, education, housing, social adjustment, early childhood, and aging programs.

Andrew’s Bravery Box | Andrew’s Bravery Box currently serves Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota by providing toys and rewards for some of the bravest people in the world.  Each and every day, patients at Children’s show courage as they push through tough situations in their battle against illnesses, congenital heart defects, cancer, and many other conditions that require hospitalization.  By providing small rewards in the form of toys, activities, and other fun items for families and nurses to give to patients, Andrew’s Bravery Box seeks to make the hardest parts about a hospital stay a little easier to endure.  Whether a patient has a fear of IV’s, an aversion to taking medications, or is just needs some encouragement, we want to reward their courage and provide the tools for families and staff to be able to do so in every situation.

Arc Greater Twin Cities (St. Paul) | Creating a good life starts with making choices about personal relationships, where to live, attending school and work, and how to spend leisure time. Support The Arc GTC by using your voice to create powerful change in your community through the choice of giving.

Boys and Girls Club of the Twin Cities (St. Paul) | The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities is to enable all young people, especially those who need it most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Cookie Cart (Minneapolis) | Cookie Cart gives teens the skills they need to build better futures. Our unique “earn as you learn” program empowers young people with a paycheck, prepares them for work with foundational job skills and tools, and exposes them to opportunities that broaden their views of what’s possible.

Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (Twin Cities)| That is the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota’s mission as they offer parent groups, resources, support, medical and educational outreach, conferences and events for individuals with Down syndrome and their families/caregivers throughout the state.

Faith’s Lodge | A safe landing space for parents grieving the loss of a child and/or a child with a terminal illness. Faith’s Lodge provides support to parents in a calming environment to “reflect on the past, renew strength for the present, and build hope for the future.”

Girls on the Run Twin Cities (Minneapolis) | Inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run Twin Cities, Inc. is a transformational youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade. We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games.

Greater United Way (Twin Cities) | United Way partners with non-profits, businesses, government, and social services agencies to help with the greatest needs in the community. United Way focuses on two areas: Safety Net (basic needs) and Education/Job training. One of their programs, Women United, is comprised of strong and like-minded women whose goal is to fund innovative programs to help women find financial stability and early childhood education.

HandsOn Twin Cities (Minneapolis) | Established in 1919 as America’s first volunteer center, HandsOn Twin Cities is the Twin Cities only full-service volunteer center that both promotes and facilitates volunteerism while improving the community’s ability to create more impact with the time generously given by volunteers.  They work with all types of volunteers, companies and nonprofit affiliates to ensure that every hour spent in the community is valuable.

HopeKids (Twin Cities) | HopeKids provides ongoing events and activities and a powerful, unique support community for families who have a child with cancer or some other life-threatening medical condition.  They surround these remarkable children and their families with the message that hope can be a powerful medicine.

Lifetrack (St. Paul) | Kids arrive at Lifetrack’s Families Together Therapeutic Preschool, each with a different set of strengths, and each burdened with a unique set of life challenges. Poverty, homelessness, disability, instability at home are some of the challenges our preschool kids face. They come to Lifetrack to learn and grow and discover healthy ways to overcome the stress in their lives.

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (Minneapolis) | A non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping Minnesota veterans since 1990. They have many unique programs that help Minnesota veterans and their families.

Marie Sandvik Center (Minneapolis)Their mission is to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of homeless men, women, and children.

My Very Own Bed | My Very Own Bed’s mission is to provide new beds and linens to children of families that have recently secured stable housing. My Very Own Bed was created to help families get one step closer to thriving in their new homes. By providing beds and linens to kids who need them, we’re making those new homes more livable and restful. By making sure the beds and linens are new, we’re giving kids and families something all their own — not a hand-me-down.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Upper Midwest (Various Twin Cities locations) | When a child’s health is at risk, a family’s world can feel like it’s falling apart. Their mission is to provide those families with a loving and sympathetic community – as well as meals, lodging, and family-friendly activities – when they need it most. They serve more than 4,000 families each year at our four Twin Cities locations: The Ronald McDonald House on Oak Street, near the University of Minnesota, The Ronald McDonald House inside the Hospital, Children’s, Minneapolis, The Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, St. Paul, and The Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Children’s, St. Paul.

Safe Families For Children (Minneapolis) | Safe Families for Children is a national movement of compassion that gives hope to families in crisis. Safe, loving homes are provided where parents may voluntarily have their children cared for while parents seek to restore stability in their lives. Our dedication to family support, stabilization, and child abuse prevention is driven by responsibility for the well-being of children in our communities.

SOURCE MN (Minneapolis) | Through urban outreach and anti-trafficking efforts, SOURCE empowers the at-risk and unreached to make a break from the past and build foundations for the future.

Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation (South Minneapolis) | Our programs and social enterprises work holistically to serve the whole family, creating sustainable jobs, developing youth and enhancing K-12+ education, strengthening relationships within families and increasing access to healthy food.


Health & Wellness

Feed My Starving Children (Minneapolis) | FMSC tackles world hunger by sending volunteer-packed, nutritious meals to nearly 70 countries each year, where they’re used to operate orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs to break the cycle of poverty.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz (Eden Prairie) | Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K) wants every child to have this experience no matter their family circumstance or socio-economic background. FB4K exists to give low-income families and children bikes by collecting, refurbishing and distributing used bikes to kids in need. We give kids a reason to exercise and improve their physical and mental health while experiencing that slice of childhood joy and freedom.

Loaves and Fishes Too (Minneapolis) | Loaves and Fishes serves a basic need by providing free, nutritious meals to anyone in need. A no-questions-asked approach helps provide a welcoming, hospitable environment that protects the dignity of their guests.

MATTER (St. Louis Park) | Here in the Twin Cities, Matter has launched a new MATTERbox program, a healthy food box designed in partnership with the Hennepin County Medical Center dietitians and approved by the American Diabetes Association as a way of fighting diabetes and obesity in the lives of those living in scarcity. These boxes are distributed by schools, hospitals, police officers, and through a variety of other nontraditional partners.

PTEN Foundation | 1 in every 200,000 people have PTEN Harmartoma Tumor Syndrome (PHTS) is a rare genetic condition that causes increased risk for certain cancers, benign growths, and neurodevelopmental conditions. The PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome Foundation was founded to find treatments or therapies for PTEN Syndromes by funding research, providing PHTS education, supporting patients, and by raising awareness. PHTS includes Cowden syndrome (CS), Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome (BRRS), PTEN-related Proteus syndrome (PS), and Proteus-like syndrome.

Second Harvest Heartland (St. Paul) | 1 in 10 households in Minnesota are affected by hunger and with your support on Give to the Max Day, the Thanksgiving season can look a little brighter for Minnesota families in need. Over the next three months, Second Harvest Heartland must provide more than 20 million meals for the one in 10 Minnesotans who otherwise might not be able to put food on the table this Thanksgiving season.

The Sheridan Story (Minneapolis) | Over 200,000 children in the state of Minnesota live in food insecurity and do not always know if they will receive their next meal. The Sheridan Story’s purpose is to respond to this need by closing the weekend food gap between Friday and Monday, when children are not able to participate in the free or reduced meal programs at school.


Hospitals & Clinics

Fairview Health Services (Twin Cities) | With you by our side, we can meet community needs, invest in the latest technology and find new ways to keep people healthy from the start. Together, we can keep our care teams ready to spring into action, ease the pain of hospice patients, give patients access to life-saving medications they otherwise could not afford and so much more.

Park Nicollet (Twin Cities) | Park Nicollet Foundation is fortunate to have kind hearts, like yours, among our supporters. For more than 40 years, we have used philanthropy to enhance the patient and family experience, promote innovation and research, and respond to the health care needs of our community. We partner with schools, nonprofits, community agencies, and local government to develop innovative solutions to complex community health issues and have a powerful and immediate impact on the well-being of our entire community.


Animals

Secondhand Hounds (Minnetonka) | A non-profit animal rescue providing safe shelter, quality veterinarian care while placing animals into loving homes. They rescue dogs from kill shelters around the Midwest and cats from local shelters.

Spot’s Last Stop (Twin Cities) | A non-profit canine rescue that matches animals with a forever home while also financially supporting other rescue partners. They have a quick and easy adoption process to try and decrease the number of dogs who are euthanized.


This is just a small list of a few great causes that benefit women, children, and families in our community. For a full list of your favorite organizations, visit the Give to the Max website!

Passing Kindness Through Generations

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Passing Kindness Through Generations | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveMy grandma was one of those people who I think would be best described as small but mighty. Not mighty in an overbearing way, but driven and persistent and determined to make the world a better place. One of the ways she lived this out was to do something nice for someone every week. On occasion that “something nice” would be writing a note of encouragement to the local high school basketball team if they had a particularly good game. How cute is that?!

She was my mom’s mom, and I see her passion for caring for and encouraging others living itself out in my mom as well. She quietly, often behind the scenes, pours her heart into caring for others and the world around her. I’m sure I don’t even know the half of what she’s done in the name of kindness.

Having these women as examples in my life normalized kindness for me. It was never a decision to be kind to others, it was an expectation. Not like an explicit expectation, hammered into us, but a trait that was as familiar and necessary as breathing.

Having children of my own now, I wonder how they see kindness expressed in my life. Will it impact them enough that they will live a life guided by kindness?

Today marks World Kindness Day – an opportunity to join with others around the globe to focus on and participate in acts of kindness. What can you do with your children to exhibit kindness today? Going further, how can you stretch your kindness muscles to incorporate more regular acts of kindness into your family life?

Take heart if life is feeling full right now, and the idea of adding a single thing is overwhelming – kindness doesn’t require a huge, colossal effort. There are big and small ways to show kindness. It can be something that takes time and effort, like volunteering as a family at a soup kitchen, or it can be something as simple as picking up a few pieces of trash at the park while you’re playing there with your kids.

Below you’ll find a few ideas you can do by yourself or with kids to show kindness. Please add your ideas in the comments, or tell us what you did to celebrate World Kindness Day today!

  1. Purchase a coffee shop gift card and write an encouraging message on the back, like “You’ve got this!” Hand it to a mom with a young child you see out and about in the community.
  2. Help your kids bake cookies for a neighbor.
  3. Paint smiley faces on rocks with your kids and hide them around the park to make others smile.
  4. Write a letter of encouragement to someone.
  5. Make eye contact and smile at others you see in the community, especially those often marginalized.
  6. Have your kids draw pictures, and bring them with you when you’re in the community. Give the pictures to someone who may not receive a lot of kid artwork in their daily life.
  7. Reach out to a friend going through a tough time.
  8. Pre-load candy machines in public spaces with quarters, then watch from a distance as people discover the surprise.
  9. Call a relative you haven’t talked to in awhile.
  10. Write a note to your child and tell them all the things you love about them.

Together, through simple and deliberate acts, we can start ripples of kindness that continue for generations.

Love Thyself

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Love Thyself | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveThe other night after our bedtime thanksgiving my oldest son asked, “Mom, do you love me?” My response was exactly as he expected and had heard a million times before, “of course!” He went on to ask if I loved every other member of our extended family. Once he had exhausted the list, he broke from the routine and asked, “Mom, do you love yourself?” His eyes gleaming with pride over his clever question.

My answer surprised him almost as much as it surprised me as it was an immediate, “Yes, I love myself very much!” His eyes widened as these words hung in the air and I continued, “And it’s important that you love yourself too.”

To clarify, I’ve never loathed myself, or even disliked myself. However, over the last several years, I was operating in an overall state of being somewhat indifferent towards myself. As soon as the words “I love myself” rolled off my tongue with such confidence and conviction I began to wonder, how did I get here? It wasn’t as if one day, I thought, “You should work on loving yourself more, your kids are watching.”

That night as I lay awake after my own bedtime thanksgiving, I realized, loving myself was in fact a form of self-care. As a mother of two young boys, I take self-care very seriously. After the kids are in bed, it is my “me time,” when I have the opportunity to recharge. For a long time, night after night I would indulge in a glass (or 3) of wine, or a hunk of sea salt dark chocolate, or on the exceptionally tough days…both. All in the name of self-care. This often led to waking up to the sound of their stomping footsteps in the hall feeling tired, groggy and unmotivated.

A little over a year ago I realized this definition of self-care was actually self-destructive and self-defeating. My nightly routine was hindering my growth and my goals. With my 40th birthday looming, I wanted to approach this milestone with confidence. My goals were to be in the best physical shape of my adult life and to be a published writer. However, my outward actions were grossly misaligned. This imbalance conjured a lot of negative self-talk, which only perpetuated the cycle. So I traded my wine for kale, carrot and vinegar smoothies (it’s an acquired taste) and my chocolate for running and yoga, as well as changing up my “me time” from after bedtime to before the kids wake.

These small but mighty changes ignited positivity into every other facet of my life and I’m thriving on the momentum. Not only am I healthier than I’ve been in over a decade, but I’ve started a new career as a writer and was hired by Summit Hill Living magazine (as well as twincitiesmomcollective.com) and I not only trained for, but successfully completed the 2019 Twin Cities marathon.

My new definition of “self-care” includes any positive action that leads to self-improvement and self love. I want my boys to love themselves, and the best way to teach our children to love themselves is to show them that we love ourselves. If my boys see their mother taking time to prioritize her needs, accomplishing her goals, making healthy choices with food and fitness, and just overall trying to be the best me I can be, I can only hope their observations are encouraging a growth mindset for them to model. Actions always speak louder than words.

Are Dental X-Rays Really That Important?

Our partners at Camp Smile Pediatric Dentistry want you to know all the facts about dental x-rays for your children. Read below for some insight on why they are important for your children's health.

 

If you could have any super power, what would it be? 

A Marist Poll of United States residents conducted in 2010 revealed the ability to read people’s minds and the ability to time travel as the most desired super powers, while invisibility, the ability to fly, and the ability to teleport were among the other contenders for preferred powers.(1) While there is no widely circulated poll for top super powers among dentists, one may argue that “x-ray vision” would be both practical and just plain cool for a dentist to boast. Although your dentist may strive to reach “superhero status” on a daily basis, it is unlikely that he or she possesses the x-ray vision of Superman. 

As a result, dentists must rely on dental radiographs, or x-rays, to complete a thorough evaluation and oral health assessment. Patients and parents often ask if radiographs are a necessary part of the dental visit. While radiographs typically are not necessary at every visit (or even every other visit), they are an imperative part of monitoring your health and are necessary to complete a thorough evaluation. As the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) explains in its guidelines for prescribing dental radiographs, “Radiographs should be taken only when there is an expectation that the diagnostic yield will affect patient care.” (2) You still may be wondering exactly what this statement means and how it will affect your child’s next dental visit. To understand why radiographs are prescribed, it is important to consider their diagnostic yield (simply put, the information they provide). 

Are Dental X-Rays Really That Important? | Twin Cities Mom Collective

First, have you ever looked in the back of your child’s mouth (or even your own!) and noticed how closely the teeth fit together? While it is possible to detect cavities on the biting surfaces of teeth without x-rays, x-rays are necessary to check accurately for cavities between teeth that can go unnoticed and progress without intervention. The same crevices in the oral cavity that harbor food between tight molar contacts are the same crevices susceptible to developing cavities. Without x-rays, it would be nearly impossible to detect early signs of cavities. Just as radiographs assist in identifying fractured bones after a fall at gymnastics or another sporting event, dental radiographs assist in maintaining healthy smiles through the identification of cavities and other dental pathology, including fractured roots and teeth, cysts, and tumors. If you knew x-rays could help you see where you needed to work on brushing and flossing to prevent the need for dental treatment, why would you not consider the benefits of x-rays? One of the reasons we may order bitewing, or posterior, x-rays in children more frequently than in adults is that cavities progress more quickly in primary, or “baby,” teeth than they do in “adult” teeth. 

Second, have you ever wondered if your child needs or will need braces? Without radiographs, we are unable to check for a full complement of teeth or detect poorly positioned or ectopic teeth. Radiographs provide critical information regarding bone health, root development, and appropriate timing for orthodontics. With a panoramic radiograph, we also can detect third molars (wisdom teeth) earlier and help plan for the future. 

Finally, did you know that radiographs may provide the first information relevant to both localized and systemic pathology or disease? For example, a radiograph revealing early bone loss may provide another piece of the puzzle in identifying an underlying systemic disease. As you know, early identification of disease and illness aids in improved prognoses and management. Several diseases, syndromes, and pathologic entities, including Gorlin-Goltz syndrome, Langerhans’ cell histiocytosis, Gardner syndrome, neurofibromatosis, and hypophosphatemia, possess unique radiographic findings that may be noted prior to these entities being diagnosed in an individual. 

As with any technology or medical device, it is important for healthcare providers to be good stewards of radiology and use it only when its diagnostic yield will impact patient care.2 At Camp Smile Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care for our patients. This commitment includes implementing the principle of ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) and utilizing appropriate protective barriers.3 By judiciously obtaining x-rays, we safely can make the most accurate diagnoses and ultimately provide the best treatment and outcomes for our patients and families.  

Furthermore, it is helpful to understand that we all encounter several sources of ionizing radiation on a daily basis and may not fully realize it. The effective dose from a diagnostic x-ray examination composed of posterior bitewing x-rays is reported to be 5.0 μSv, while its equivalent background exposure measured in days is 0.6.(3) Background exposure may vary for individuals in different places. Due to Denver’s lower atmospheric protection and increased elevation, an individual living in the Mile High City receives greater effective dose from cosmic radiation than someone living at an elevation closer to the average of the United States.(3) Certainly, it is interesting and relative to our discussion regarding dental radiology when we consider that there are additional sources of radiation which we may not otherwise consider. You can appreciate the benefits of dental x-rays in the early detection and identification of disease when used conscientiously and appropriately. 

We invite you to visit our website at www.campsmile.com, contact us at (763) 383-1788, or stop by one of our three locations to learn more about dental radiology, its safety and efficacy, and pediatric dentistry for your little ones. 


References 

  1. http://maristpoll.marist.edu/28-holy-super-powers-batman-mind-reading-and-time-travel-top-list/#sthash.xyKWq3G8.dpbs
  2. Council on Clinical Affairs. Prescribing dental radiographs for infants, children, adolescents, and individuals with special health care needs. Pediatr Dent 2018;(40)6:213-15. 
  3. White SC, Pharoah MJ. Oral radiology: Principles and interpretation. 6th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier; 2009.

My Season Opener

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The leaves crunch beneath my feet as I navigate the trail with my headlamp. A flash of bright pink on a small tree gives me my bearings. There is only the sound of the wind and my light footsteps as I walk. The forest is completely silent, not a bird or chipmunk to be heard. My breath fogs my face as I walk, holding my gear so as not to startle any slumbering animals nearby. I see my tree and carefully climb, as delicately as I can with layer after layer on of clothing, until I get to the top and turn around to sit. It’s still dark, just the faintest light lets me know the sun will soon be on the rise.

I sit and I wait. I move my scarf up around my nose, I wiggle my fingers in my gloves, gently pump my toes up and down on the foot warmer tucked tightly in my boot.

I sit and wait as the sun slowly starts to climb. The horizon widens, embracing everything it touches with light. A scatter of noise lets me know the chipmunk is awake, the song of a bird is released, and the woodpecker starts his morning work on the tree next to me.

I sit and I wait, taking it all in as the sun starts to warm my body with its rays. The shimmering dew on the leaves and tall grass, the bright pink ribbon marking my way home, the distant sound of gunshots cascade out, boom after boom.

I am a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, neighbor and woman – I am also a hunter. Like the generations before me, being in the woods is my passion and the very essence of my family. It is where I can feel immediately connected to my heavenly Father, where I feel the most peace, where I know I belong. A few years ago, at the age of 84, my grandparents had their last hunt at our rustic family hunting cabin. My grandpa passed away last summer and yet his presence is very much alive when we all gather together around a warm pot of soup and tell stories from our day in the woods. We play Slapjack, lay our clothes out to dry, and get the coffee ready to percolate the next morning before the sun is up. We reminisce about the early days when all of us cousins, mere babies, were learning the ropes of the forest. My parents, both my mom and dad, teaching me how to read a compass (and the sun) while hiking in the woods, how to properly stoke a fire, always find important landmarks on your journey, and always to be safe. Safety first. I have vivid memories of long drives with my uncle and cousins, whittling a walking stick with my grandpa, my brother helping me drag my deer out of the woods… And later, my sister and I there with swollen bellies and our future hunting babies tucked safely inside.

The hunting cabin is a sacred space for our family. It isn’t just about the hunt, although that is a huge part of the fun. We eat venison all year round in my family, and my kids thank God for the gift of being able to eat something we know has been grazing in the woods for its lifetime. The circle of life is a beautiful thing to appreciate and we certainly do. But the memories made there, the life skills taught, and the deep appreciation for being outside, surrounded by the beauty God has masterfully crafted, is what I most appreciate.

From the moment I park my car and hop on the 4-wheeler, making the long drive down to our little piece of Heaven, I am smiling. There are huge water holes to maneuver around, and rocks to avoid, but you’re on a wheeler and not in a car and there is great fun to be had. As I make my way closer to the cabin, I can see and smell woodsmoke – a welcome sense that immediately brings my heart comfort for the family waiting inside.  I love that I know the two trumpeter swans will be on the lake and the bald eagle will swoop down over the water sometime during the weekend. I love everyone’s rosy red cheeks as we come in for lunch, taking layers off to warm up and dry off. I appreciate the warm lasagna my mom makes, or the blueberry pie she sneaks in (did I mention we have no electricity and only a propane tank and generator? The woman is amazing!).

Later that night, as the stories start to wind down and the playing cards are put away, I start to anticipate the way my head will fall on the pillow. Asleep in a matter of minutes after a full day outside in the fresh air, grateful for the early morning alarm to start another memorable hunt in the woods.

The Season Opener | Twin Cities Mom Collective

For further reading on gun safety in the house click here!

The Life-Changing Magic of Showering

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Bathing is something we think about surprisingly often as mothers. Sponging kids down after each diaper explosion, spaghetti dinner, and marker incident. Wondering if playing in the pool for five consecutive hours counts as a bath for the day (the answer: yes). Doing the math to calculate the last time we showered ourselves (during the newborn days: don’t ask).

I think my youngest holds the record for most sponge-baths in a day: six. Four days is the longest I ever went without showering. I remember my youngest screaming from the pack and play in my master bedroom as I rushed to rinse the shampoo out of my hair but at that point I was all, “You can either have a grumpy mom with stringy, greasy hair right now or a happy mom in five minutes if you just chill and wait for this conditioner to do its work.”

Lately, I’ve been thinking about bathing even more than usual because:

1. I recently went back to showering at night.

And

2. my kids have replaced baths with showers.

They say you should write what you’re thinking about, and people, THIS is what I’ve been thinking about. Welcome to being thirty-two-years-old with three kids five and under and YES it is always this glamorous. So let’s get to it.

Night Showers

I am not a morning person. Have not, am not, never will be. So anything I can get done in the evenings to free up the morning is genius territory. I want to sleep until the last possible second and roll out of bed only to wash my face, brush my teeth, change my clothes, and run a straightener through my hair.

I’ve been a night shower kind of person for most of my life. All throughout high school and college and even during my early working days, it made so much sense for me to shower at the end of the day. I’m not sure when or why I stopped. But recently I realized that getting up thirty extra minutes just to shower and do my hair in the morning was annoying. I’ve heard that some people like to take showers in the morning because it helps wake them up. Not me. A warm shower makes me want to do nothing more than crawl back into bed. And then all that business about having to get ready. It’s too much, too early.

Showering in the evening after the kids are in bed is glorious. It’s magical. Mamas, there is NO ONE to interrupt you for a snack or ask where their favorite toy is or to ask you personal questions like “where’s your penis mama?” It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. To step into a hot shower at the end of the day is like a mini-vacation. I have time to do a face mask. And then I dry my hair and go to bed (clean!) and in the morning I wake up and I’m pretty much good to go. Life. Changing.

Showering Kids

Two things I will never miss about itty-bitty kids: 1. Diapers and 2. Bath time. I know, I look back at the photos, too, and ooo and ahhh over how cute they all were sitting in the tub with the bubbles and the toys and the naked bums. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Showering | Twin Cities Mom Collective

But there was always all the splashing. And the aftermath where it felt like there had been dolphins doing tricks in my bathroom instead of just a couple of toddlers. Also, they got bigger. And while my kids aren’t all that big — twin five-year-olds and (an admittedly larger-than-average) three-year-old — that’s a lot of kids in the tub together. And sure, we tried bathing them each individually, but then bath time just d-r-a-g-g-e-d on. For an hour. Or more. It was a whole thing.

One night I suggested to my daughter that she could try showering in my bathroom as a special treat. To my immense surprise, she said yes. Then my boys overheard (because of course they did) and said they wanted to shower, too. And…we haven’t looked back.

I never thought we’d be done with bath time this early in the parenting game but I am HERE for it. No more splashing. No more waterlogged bathrooms. No more bath toys cluttering up the tub all day every day (because you know we never got around to picking all that -ish up). No more fights over who sits where in the tub, who gets to play with what toy, and screaming over who gets their hair washed first.

That all vanished. Literally overnight. And it’s the best.

So there you have it. We’re a household of shower-ers at some time of day or other. We’re here. And we’re clean.

Caring Beyond The Classroom

Our partners at New Horizon Academy are helping children flourish by teaching them how to get involved and give back to their community. Read more below on a program in their curriculum that helps teach children gratitude.

 

While many of us teach our children to use “please” and “thank you” before they can even talk, it takes time and effort for true appreciation and gratitude to flourish in a child. As the holiday season quickly approaches, adults often stop and reflect on the things we are truly grateful for – but how do we teach our children to do the same? Here are five tips to help raise a grateful child:

Get Involved & Give Back

Getting involved and giving back to your community is a great way to teach children to be grateful. When we teach children about helping those who are less fortunate, it helps them to be grateful for what they have. At New Horizon Academy, we incorporate a program called Caring Beyond the Classroom into our curriculum. Caring Beyond the Classroom cultivates a lifelong commitment to service and encourages collaboration and problem-solving, while promoting social responsibility, positive citizenship, empathy, kindness, and compassion. On November 12th, each school will participate in a company-wide Caring Beyond the Classroom event that will give back to Meals on Wheels, Color-A-Smile, the Linus Project, and other local organizations. 

Caring Beyond The Classroom | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveModel Your Grateful Behavior

Set a good example for the kids when they do something that you appreciate. “I’m so happy to see you cleaned up all of your toys,” or “Thank you for helping your brother put his shoes on!” By using phrases like this in your day-to-day routine, you will be surprised how quickly your children pick up on it and start saying similar things.

Make “Daily Gratitude” a Part of Your Routine

Each day at dinner or bedtime, for example, take turns listing some of the things that you and your family are thankful for. When doing this, try to encourage your children to think beyond “things.”

Caring Beyond The Classroom | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveLet Your Children Help Out

By giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities around the home, this helps them learn that tasks require some effort and gives them satisfaction knowing that they are contributing to the family. It is important for children to learn the gratification of earning what they have, and this is a great way to start instilling that.

Help Children Understand the Thoughtfulness in Gift Giving

“It’s the thought that counts” is an old, but true, saying that we all know and use. When children receive a gift, whether big or small, or whether they like it or dislike it, help them to understand and focus on the thought behind the gift. Saying things like “That was so sweet of grandma to give you a book; she knows how much you like to read,” can add some meaning to the act of giving.

Tell the Scary Stories Too

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Tell the Scary Stories Too | Twin Cities Mom Collective“Mommy, tell me a story.”

It’s the latest bedtime stall tactic in our house. My body wants to say no, wants to claw my way out of this room, away from their needs, and clock out of this day job before I must report for duty too early the next morning – at least as long as everyone sleeps through the night.

But I am a writer and writers need to hone their skills. So even though I’m tired at the end of a long day, I see his challenge as a creative practice for me.

Lately he has asked for scary stories. I don’t like scary. As a peacemaker at heart I like happy and cozy and harmony all wrapped up in a pretty watercolor backdrop. But my boy is different than me; he always has been. He came into my world with an intensity I still find unfamiliar. His immense curiosity leaves him wanting to know about all parts of the world, but especially the ones that baffle the mind of a four year old. Because it’s the unknown that can be the most frightening.

I recognize viewing the world through the lens of a story makes a child’s fears smaller, distant, more manageable. Accessing emotions like fear and sadness and anger is much easier when set in a story. The monsters come alive in our fairy tales but then go away just as quickly at the story’s conclusion. It’s tempting for me to share visions of an ideal world where everyone is jolly, but children need stories that grip the mind and heart, even if the story doesn’t end happily ever after. My children need sad. They need a bit of scary. They need stories in which things don’t work out. Stories of tragedy, struggle, and foolish characters all have a place in a child’s world to help them understand life.

In fact, I think they need a place in my world too. He isn’t the only one I tell scary stories to. Sometimes, I tell these stories to myself. Stories about failure, about weak protagonists, about not being enough. In these stories, I am the one failing, the one who makes mistakes with her children because they make the world a bit more confusing and uncertain.

Here is one that comes to mind:

“Once upon a time there was a mother bear. She had three little cubs she loved so dearly. But her cubs were busy. While they loved to run and play, they also needed their mama bear very much. They needed her to find them food and clean their fur. They wanted answers to their questions – like why bugs are crunchy and why the water is blue. She had to convince them to sleep when they wanted to watch the stars instead, or stay close when they wanted to run. She wanted them to be free and happy but sometimes it was a lot of work for a mama bear in a big forest.

One day Mama bear got mad. She couldn’t handle any more questions and she couldn’t find them one more grub to eat and she was so tired of pulling them off of the tree so they could move on to the stream to do the fishing for the day. In her frustration, she roared a very loud roar. It was all her bear body knew what to do. But the roar was so big and her bear cubs so small, they got scared. They got so scared that they ran far, far away from their mama bear to hide.

She felt sad.

The End.”

This isn’t a story I have shared yet, not with him anyway. Yet it is one that haunts me sometimes at night. Not being enough for them. Losing my patience. Scaring them away with my big emotions.

But then sometimes I imagine what he might say if I told him that story. Would it scare him too?

“Mommy that’s not how that ends,” he might say.

“It’s not?”

“No.” he would say with a smile. “The baby cubs wouldn’t run away from their mama!”

“They wouldn’t? But she roared so loudly. Weren’t they scared?”

“Well yeah, they were. At first. But they loved her so much. They knew she was just doing what Mama bears are supposed to do. Bears roar. It’s how she talks to her cubs. Besides, her cubs need to learn how to roar too.”

“They do?”

“Yes. Bears should be loud. That’s how they show how strong they are.”

He is a good storyteller, this strong, brave, fear seeking little boy. I like his version much better than my own.

Perhaps this is why we tell ourselves the scary stories – we need an ending with more hope than fear. What we label as faults in our stories might just be lessons for ourselves and for our children. Days can be hard, emotions big, and fears real. Maybe we need to tell ourselves these scary stories to realize that the thoughts we have aren’t to be felt in shame but told in bravery and hope. Fear and shame and defeat have a very real, unavoidable place in this world. But so does redemption, forgiveness, and love.

I still love a happy ending. I always will. But he reminds me to not be so afraid to tell the scary stories too. After all, I am a Mama Bear, and bears should be loud.

A Bittersweet End to the Tooth Fairy

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A Bittersweet End to the Tooth Fairy | Twin Cities Mom Collective

There comes a time in each child’s life when they learn the hard facts about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the myriad of other white lies and half-truths we as parents perpetuate upon our children with the best of intentions.  In the interest of letting my kids experience childhood to the fullest, I’ve wistfully tried to hold on to the last bit of innocence as long as possible until I could deflect and avoid questions no longer.

I can’t say I’ve enjoyed lying to them.  But the sparkle in their eyes as we read Twas the night before Christmas on Christmas Eve and their joyful scurry into my bedroom to show me their money the morning after a freshly lost tooth was tucked under their pillow, kept me hanging on.  I’ve always intentionally had the bigger Christmas presents be from us parents vs. Santa – because hey, he’s imaginary, I want credit for the good stuff!  I’ve also lamented about our overworked Tooth Fairy when she forgot to take a tooth or even left an IOU because she clearly ran out money with all the houses she stops at on a nightly basis!

My older daughter and I had been playing a bit of a cat and mouse game for some time regarding the Tooth Fairy.  She had gotten clever and inquisitive and was making a pretty solid case for the Tooth Fairy not being real.  She claimed one night when she left a tooth under her pillow that she was only pretending to be asleep and was really awake when I came in and left money under her pillow.  I had been fervently denying the claim, telling her that she must have been dreaming.  Did she really think that I would spend my time sneaking into her room when I could be sleeping?  Did she think I was growing quarters on trees?  I was the Mom who never had any cash or change since I always used my debit card.  Why would I want her teeth anyway?  She pondered my answers and smirked knowingly.  But I refused to break.  I insisted I was not the Tooth Fairy!

I had already reluctantly confessed the truth about Santa Claus to her.  She was 10 and I knew her days of believing were numbered.  She was asking a lot of pointed investigative questions about the ‘how’ of Santa.  If she didn’t hear about Santa Claus not being real on the school bus, she was bound to figure it out for herself soon enough.  I took the approach of asking her to join the Santa Claus cause and help keep the magic alive for her younger sister.  She happily accepted the job of helping with presents, nibbling on carrots left out for the reindeer, filling stockings, and continued to pretend to believe so she would still receive.  I swore her to secrecy for the sake of her sister, her school friends who still believed, and the younger neighborhood kids.

But the truth about Santa had given her a boost of confidence to continue to question the Tooth Fairy.  How could the Tooth Fairy possibly fly?  How did she get in the house?  My daughter even talked of building a trap to catch the Tooth Fairy in action.

One day, she was in my bedroom grabbing something to bring downstairs to me.  For some reason she looked in my nightstand drawer and discovered about 15 tiny teeth!  She came running downstairs and said, “I know you’re the Tooth Fairy!  I just found teeth in your nightstand.”  I like to think as a Mom I’m pretty good at thinking on my toes when it comes to kid questions.  But I was at an utter loss of how to explain away the teeth!  I quickly ran through some potential answers in my head.  1) I killed someone and kept their teeth (yikes!)  2) They’re not teeth – they’re fossils from a science kit.  3) They’re not teeth – they’re small rocks?  Yeah, she wasn’t going to buy any of these!  I knew I was a goner.  I admitted I was the Tooth Fairy and she danced in glee that she had been right all along and had finally caught me!

Why didn’t I hide the teeth better all this time?!  All these years of tooth-losing, in my sleepiness I had gently swapped money for teeth and groggily stumbled back to my bed, sticking the teeth in the nearest spot which happened to be an unlocked and easily accessible nightstand drawer.  Why was I so reluctant to let the Tooth Fairy go?  Well, because once Santa goes and the Tooth Fairy goes, we start losing the beautiful naiveté of being a kid and start to broach some of the bigger, deeper, tougher topics of growing up.  Can’t we just snuggle in the twinkling Christmas lights and magic of Santa a little longer?  Let’s carefully count and stack your coins received from the Tooth Fairy while you show me which tooth you think will be the next one to come out and tell me what you plan to buy with your riches.

Later, I walked upstairs and opened the nightstand drawer to touch the tiny teeth.  I had no reason to keep them except sentimentality.  I closed the drawer and with it, closed a chapter, carefully removing my invisible Tooth Fairy crown and relinquishing one of my many Mom Roles.  It was bittersweet, but my Tooth Fairy work for this daughter was done.

A Kind Heart

A Kind Heart | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveAccording to Elizabeth Stone, parenting is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Like most moms, I’m probably a bit overprotective. I want my children to experience all the good in life. To know kindness and happiness, to be strong and smart, to put good into the world and receive it right back.

Last year, my oldest daughter started school. Kindergarten was a bit of a dream. We had the best teacher, she made lots of friends, I found my group of moms and I generally felt that it was the perfect start to our elementary school experience. Now, she is in first grade and cue the drama. Perhaps I’m overreacting a bit, but things got real – fast. Unfortunately, with the start of first grade came a bit of bullying and the need to manage friends feeling left out.

As a parent, this presents an interesting dilemma – when do you let them work things out on their own and when do you step in because they can’t do it by themselves?

Raising school-aged children is a struggle. You ask about their day and what they did. The response… “Nothing.” You want to help when things go wrong but you also want them to learn to work through conflict on their own. Here are a few ideas to help you know what is happening in your child’s life, identify existing conflict, coach how they can address a hard situation and when they should ask for help.

1. Ask questions. A fellow mom noted that the key to soliciting information from her daughter is to ask the right question. The problem? The right question changes by the day. So it is incredibly important to ask questions and then ask more questions. Some days, I hear very little about what happened at school. But eventually, the information starts flowing and I get more details than I even thought to ask for. Suggested questions include: what was your favorite part of the day, what was the hardest part of your day, did you see or play with [INSERT NAME OF FRIEND] and what did you do in [CLASS]. In first grade, the teacher shares a recap of the week each Friday so I always make a point to ask about specific things she mentions. Specificity is key to eliciting information from my first grader.

2. Listen. Perhaps this is more common among girls, but my daughter talks a lot. And often times, when I really listen, I hear something subtle that she clearly wants me to know or ask about, but doesn’t want to make a big deal of. By giving her ample opportunity to share and really listening to what she has to say, I’m better able to identify when there might be an issue and help her work through it or encourage her to try to address on her own.

I make a point of doing the same thing with her friends. I love to ask about the activities they are involved in, how they like their teacher and class, and how their family is. I then make a point of listening because I think every child wants to know that someone is listening and really hears them. The more people in their lives who care, the better.

3. Talk it through. Like adults, children don’t know what they don’t know. When you identify a situation that requires action, it’s helpful to talk through the situation. This helps your child understand what the issue is, why it’s an issue, how they address the situation and the desired outcome. Conflict, whether good or bad, is always best to deal with in real time. By talking through the situation and how to work through it, you help your child learn necessary life skills while also showing you care.

4. When the situation is too big. In today’s world, bullying is a huge issue and no parent wants their child to be the victim. While I do think it is important for children to learn to work through conflict on their own, sometimes you just need to step in. That might mean talking to another child’s parents or reaching out to the school. Whatever the situation, it’s often about following your gut. In my experience, these situations tend to resolve themselves quickly but in the rare case that it is bigger than any one child, taking action is key to setting a positive example for your child.

While first grade has brought with it more drama than we experienced in kindergarten, I find myself being grateful for the opportunity to talk through these situations with my daughter. I appreciate fellow moms who are open to working together instead of fueling the fire with more drama.

To my oldest daughter… May you know the importance of a kind heart, of being inclusive and leading by example. No one wants to be left out or singled out. The sooner she learns these important lessons, the sooner she is able to share them with others and show other people the value of kindness. I want her to be the nice girl forever.

6th Annual Bloom Event for New and Expecting Moms

We are so excited for our 6th Annual Bloom Event coming up in April 2020!

We are busy planning our upcoming Bloom event and will update this page with more information as we get a bit closer to the event. Be sure to save the date!

Saturday, April 18, 2020 from 10:00am – 1:00pm at Breck School in Golden Valley!

Are you a business that is interested in being involved in this event? Please fill out our form below and we will be in touch shortly.

Forced to Figure It Out

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My husband’s vacation time was up and he returned to work when our daughter was three weeks old. I could see no feasible way to do anything besides take care of her and maybe microwave some leftovers for lunch. Maybe. Shower? Errands? Chores? Self-care? Ha! (and not the funny kind of “haha” ). All naps had to be either on me or laying next to me for her to sleep more than thirty minutes. I breastfeed and bottles were touchy up to about three months when she stopped taking one for good. When her dad got home I’d have just enough time to shower and possibly get one task done before she needed me again. There was no rest and no end in sight. As all moms know, it was hard. It still is, but it did get better.

This is where I’m supposed to tell you I sucked up my pride and asked for help. As if help is just something there to be tapped into for everyone. It’s just not. My family is a nine hour drive away. My husband’s family is split between the two coasts. We have a plethora of supportive friends in the Twin Cities, but we run with an active bunch. They seem to all fit into one of the following categories:

  • Running a business with a new baby of their own.
  • Care-taking for a loved one while working a few other jobs.
  • Working one or two jobs while in grad school.
  • Working full-time while parenting one/two/three/four/nine active and engaged kids.
  • Some combination of work, life, caregiving, and distance.

I don’t blame a single one of them in the least for not being able to neglect other obligations or their own health to come hangout with their new mom friend in the middle of the day. It just means that if you want to see me roll my eyes so hard it hurts, tell me to just drop the baby off at Grandma’s or have a friend come over for a few hours.

Now you’re probably thinking, why not hire someone to help? We are very fortunate that I could leave college and my career when I got pregnant. Still, going down to one income when you’re used to two while also picking up a student loan payment is no joke. It took years to prepare for it and we’re still figuring out how to make sacrifices to maintain me being home, which is important to us. Paying someone to watch our baby so I could bathe, cook, clean, or relax would be wonderful, but childcare is not cheap, as we all know. Not to mention that wherever I went, so did my baby’s only source of nutrition. Therefore, me taking even a few hours away had to wait until she could drink water and eat snacks. We’ve hired a sitter a total of three times in twenty-one months, and you better believe I didn’t stay home and do the dishes on those rare special occasions.

As with any difficult situation, at a certain point the ice gets too thin and you’re forced to act. First, I made sure that the other parent and person responsible for our daughter and our home, regardless of his work schedule, knew my struggle. Getting used to being a stay at home parent came with shame around not being able to do it all myself, something our individualistic culture ingrains in us. In dealing with my unwarranted shame, I could let my husband know what I needed. Then he was able to look for more things he could take on. Like all the grocery shopping on his way home from work and adding a few more dinner recipes to his repertoire (though cooking is a passion of mine, so I was not willing to give that over completely).

Next, I got creative. Necessity is the mother of invention (a phrase that I love even more now) and I NEEDED to be able to take a shower without waiting for my husband to get home. I also needed to get back some of the things I love to do. One of my favorite outlets to express my art and love for people is food. Cooking, baking, canning, dinner parties, and cakes for every celebration fill my bucket. I also needed to be able to get some chores done while my daughter was awake since I was booby trapped for naps.

I’m sharing my solutions not to tell anyone what to do. If any of the advice I had read online worked perfectly for me I’d just link you to it, but we all know how unique every one of our lives and babies are, so it rarely works that way. How it did work for me though was listening to what worked for someone else and that got my gears turning.

Showers

For me, nothing felt more like a loss of independence than having to arrange time with my family to bathe myself. Fitting my shower into someone else’s schedule, two other people’s schedules actually, just plain got me down. I had to find a way to hop in whenever I wanted to, which was usually in the morning after my husband left for work.

It dawned on me after listening to another parent talk about how they brought their baby’s changing pad into the living room because it was the one place they’d allow themselves to be laid down without screaming. My daughter also loved her changing pad for some reason. After a diaper change she’d just lay there contently to coo and play for as long as I’d stand there. I brought her changing pad into our tiny bathroom where it just fit, handed her a toy, closed only the clear liner, and voila. Shower City. Population: me.

Forced to Figure It Out | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Once she could pull herself up I switched to her bathtub, which was perfect for keeping toys within her reach. When that couldn’t contain her I just kept the door shut with her in the room with me. The room was already baby proofed and she could access her bath toys in the cabinet. Throwing those into the tub while I showered proved entertaining enough for her for quite a while.

Now that she’s almost two sometimes she takes a shower with me. While I will always prefer a solo shower, it’s a pretty great two-birds-with-one-stone situation. She grows and changes fast, so my solutions have to keep up. Conquering this challenge gave me the confidence to tackle others.

Cooking

I know I’m not alone with the trouble of trying to cook when you have a baby or toddler in the house. I think my daughter senses my joy in the kitchen. She always wants to be right there with me and doing all the same things. The only thing that ever lets me get anything done is getting her involved.

Forced to Figure It Out | Twin Cities Mom Collective

One of her first words was “mix”. A turn or two stirring the pot or batter and she’s content. Yes, it takes twice as long, but it means I get to cook more often. Now I’ve found lots of ways for her to help. Dropping measured ingredients in, pressing buttons on appliances, and rolling out dough to name a few.

If I’m on a time crunch (Thanksgiving), making something delicate (wedding cake), or especially hot (caramel), I set up her own mixing station. My go-to includes: one small bowl of oats, one small bowl of flour, a shaker that barely lets anything out (a novelty pepper shaker is great or some herbs way past their prime), a couple measuring spoons, a whisk, and a larger bowl. She measures and mixes and makes this cook’s heart soar. The mess can be epic, but oats and flour sweep up fast. It’s worth it to have almost an hour of uninterrupted cooking time and she still gets to be included.

Chores

Here is a list of the other chores my daughter “helps” with, allowing me to actually get them done.

  • Dusting. It’s usually pretty random what she dusts, but sometimes it’s actually something that needed it!
  • Dishes. Hands us clean dishes from the dishwasher. (She refuses to let us put dirty things in after, so that’s a work in progress.)
  • Sweeping with the hand broom and brushing dirt into the dustpan. Or around it.
  • Gardening. Water for her is always a hit and she loves making sure everything gets thoroughly soaked. I left a few pots empty which she can move dirt in and out of for an hour. I then get to weed without fear that she’ll pull up a strawberry plant.
  • Laundry. Puts clothes in the washer and dryer. Pouring the soap in is very exciting. Now has the courage to press start on the dryer. Pretty great now at carrying folded clothes from the living room to dresser drawers.
  • Anything I can use the word “help” with. Making helping a thing to get excited about just seems like a good idea. It’s even turned a couple tantrums around, so I’m sticking with it.
    Forced to Figure It Out | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I don’t support our culture of individualism, especially now that I’m a parent. I think we truly need one another if we want to be the happiest and healthiest we can be. Unfortunately, vocalizing that view isn’t going to change my situation. I was raised by a hard-working single mother and I’m not naive to the privileges I enjoy. I know that it could be much harder. If help is out there for you, I hope you’ll let go of any false notions that you can’t tap into it. If it’s not, I hope your creativity will be the thing you tap into. Then share it. You never know who might need to hear it. 

Let’s Be Mom Friends | Moms Night Out 2019

Twin Cities Mom Collective was founded with a primary purpose to connect moms. Connect them with each other, with resources, and with all that our area has to offer. We had such an incredible night at our Moms Night Out event at Minnehaha Academy! The night was filled with friendship, amazing food and drinks, pampering, shopping, other fun activities, fabulous giveaways and a hilarious improv comedy show featuring Leeann & Michelle!

We hope all who attended had an amazing time and we so hope to see you at upcoming events. Our next event for Moms only (no kids!) is already on the books for a morning in February, and we can’t wait to share more details with you! In the meantime, take a peek below to see all the fun that our October event held, and get excited to join us in the future!

{A heartfelt thank you to Ashley Elwill Photography and Katilin Mackenzie Photography for taking the photos found in this post!}

Title & Premier Sponsors

A special thank you to our Title Sponsors, Minnehaha Academy and Comprehensive Research Group for helping us make this event happen!

Minnehaha Academy: We see the light that shines in each child. Our calling is to cultivate curiosity and build confidence in each child so his or her light can shine bright in the world. From the moment you arrive on campus you are part of a welcoming community that values academics, personal passions, and faith.We encourage students to explore their gifts and talents as we support their development to become next generation thought leaders and change makers.Find out how how your child will shine at Minnehaha Academy! 

Comprehensive Research Group: Comprehensive Research Group, Inc. is a local Minnesota business conducting clinical research for the world’s largest manufacturers of personal, beauty and baby care products. For more than 25 years, CRG has been testing the topical care products you use in your daily life – shampoos, hair color, deodorants, anti-aging moisturizers, body cleansers, shaving cream, diaper and wipes and virtually every high-end cosmetic you can imagine. We committed to providing quality data to our sponsoring companies, while ensuring the highest levels of subject safety. We cannot succeed without willing test participants. It is people like you that help us put the manufacturer’s products “to the test,” so they can make honest claims about their products.  Each year, CRG provides more than $1 million in compensation to its test participants. We welcome you to join our database of willing participants.

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Thank you to our Premier Sponsor, The Minnesota Wild for bringing a fun plinko board, prizes and cookies!

Table Vendors

Our table vendors brought pampering, shopping and other fun activities for all attendees and made us feel spoiled!

Food Sponsors

We’re so thankful to have these incredible partners providing their food, drinks and treats for our attendees!

Giveaway Sponsors

One thing we truly LOVE to do is spoil other mamas! We had some amazing giveaways thanks to our awesome giveaway sponsors!

VIP Swag Sponsors

Attendees had an option of purchasing a VIP Experience ticket for this event! This ticket included extra giveaway tickets, a VIP swag bag, front row seats for the show and a meet and greet with Leeann & Michelle!

Swag Sponsors

Every guest at Moms Night Out walked away with a great swag bag full of products from the sponsors listed below!

Event Detail Sponsors

We have such amazing partners that helped make this event so special. From a custom photo booth to floral arrangements to table cloths, we’re so grateful for our event detail sponsors.

Photography Sponsors

Two fabulous local photographers captured all the fun at this event! A huge thank you to Ashley Elwill Photography and Kaitlin Mackenzie Photography!

To see all the photos from this event, visit our Facebook photo albums at the links below.

Ashley Elwill Photography photo album HERE

Kaitlin Mackenzie Photography photo album HERE 

Leeann & Michelle

A special shout out to Leeann and Michelle for making us laugh until we cried. They are incredibly talented and were just what we needed on our night out!

Be sure not to miss information on our next event! Subscribe to our VIP Event List for event specific updates!

A Twin Cities Mom’s Guide to November 2019

Fall in the Twin Cities is something special, and there’s always something fun to do! We wanted to make it easy for you and your family to find something to do, so we brought all of November’s activities together in this guide. Enjoy!

November 2: Gobbler Games | 10:00am-12:00pm Join the Lino Lakes Parks & Recreation Department for the 22nd Annual Gobbler Games! This FREE, fun-filled family event is the perfect beginning to the holiday season. The event consists of low-key competition in a variety of athletic events. Teams consist of one adult and one child (ages 4 – 14 years). An adult may bring more than one child. All participants will be eligible to win prizes that will help make their holiday festivities complete (winners need not be present to win). Enjoy complimentary treats and refreshments! Events Include: Baseball Throw, Bean Bag Toss, Basketball Free Throw, Floor Hockey Shoot, Football Throw, and Frisbee Toss. Special Attractions include: Bounce Castle, Temporary Tattoos, Turkey Coloring Sheet, Turkey Photo station, and Refreshments. NO REGISTRATION NECESSARY. FREE EVENT!

November 2: Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo | 9:30am-3:00pm Sorting through all your options for pregnancy, birth, and parenting can be a big challenge! That’s why, since 2009, the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo has been bringing together under one roof expert speakers, educational events, and plenty of exhibitors that offer healthy and empowering services and products every year. Join us to explore, learn, and celebrate the transformative experience of growing your family! The Expo is packed with speakers, presentations, classes and other special events, making it more like a conference while still  having the same number of high-quality exhibitors. Special events will be scheduled to run all day long so no matter when you come, you are bound to learn something new!

November 2-3: Mother-Daughter Event: Loving Me Loving You Loving Us Retreat | Our Mother-Daughter events strive to strengthen the relationship and bond between a mother and daughter because we believe that this relationship is vital to the development of our girls into healthy and confident young women. This event for anyone – mother, father, grandparent, guardian – with a special young lady in their lives. This event is an overnight retreat that offers a variety of activities that include personal reflection, skill-building, wellness, and relaxation.

November 2-3: The Great Train Show | 10:00am-4:00pm The Great Train Show is the nation’s only coast-to-coast model train show. The show is designed for the general public, modelers, hobbyists, families, and the just plain curious. Each show features hundreds of tables of trains and accessories for sale, huge operating exhibits, activities for kids, and more. All aboard!

November 8: Statewide Star Party | 6:00-9:00pm Participate in the first Statewide Star Party to unite thousands of Minnesotans at sites across the state observing the Moon and engaging in hands-on astronomy activities all at the same time. Help us continue celebrating the Apollo 50th anniversary, the Moon, and beyond! This event will be held in the White Oak Classroom, the building opposite the Visitor’s Center at the back of the parking lot.

November 9: Second Saturdays at TPT | 11:00am Join us in celebrating the Fall Harvest at TPT with Curious George! Please consider bringing in clothing and supplies for Every Third Saturday, a Veterans organization that provides assistance to veterans who are in need.

November 9: Santa’s Arrival at Burnsville Center | 10:00-11:00am Line the mall corridor as we welcome Santa to his workshop at Burnsville Center in grand fashion!

November 9&10: Holiday Harvest Wine & Food Festival | 10:00am-5:00pm There is nothing like the fall season along the Mississippi, it’s just breathtaking. Why not make it even better with wine tasting? Hop on the Great River Road Wine Trail and fit all, one or several of the 12 fantastic wineries that make up the trail on a fun and relaxing weekend adventure. Buy your tickets online today OR you can pick up your tickets at any of the Great River Road Wine Trail wineries! Online ticket sales end at noon Tuesday November 5, 2019 or when sold out, so buy soon and save $10.

November 10: The Puppet Adventures of Ned the Naturalist | 1:00-3:00pm Follow Ned the Nerdy Naturalist as he saves nature from Trasher the Trash Can. This month, The sculpture Bio Scenic Travel Machine has some alien visitors trying to take samples of life on Earth. Trasher isn’t sure if he should be happy about them or not. Try a take-home art activity after the show based on the sculpture. Also, go on a scavenger hunt in the art gallery. Puppet show begins promptly at 1PM and is performed by youth volunteers. After the show, join walk with a naturalist. Free!

November 10: MIA Family Day: Dance to the Rhythm | 11:00am Enjoy this free monthly event for families, kids, and the young at heart. On the second Sunday of every month, the museum is filled with hands-on art activities, live music, dance performances, artist demonstrations, family tours and more — all inspired by Mia’s incredible collection. Shake-shake-shake! Let art and music move your body to dances from around the world!

November 14: Stillwater Ladies Night Out | 2:00-8:30pm Spend the day and evening with your friends, shopping and dining your way around historic downtown Stillwater! Win prizes! Visit stores and restaurants and collect stamps on your passport. Bring your passport to the finale and win prizes! You can start shopping at 2pm! Pick up passports and swag bag (50 while supplies last) anytime after 2pm Cooks of Crocus Hill. Collect stamps or punches at participating businesses as you explore downtown. You can bring your passport to the Finale location Ziggy’s Restaurant at 8:30 for the chance to our grand prizes. Not able to join us for the finale, no worries! Drop your stamped passport back to the start Cooks of Crocus Hill or the other 2nd chance locations noted on the passport. You don’t have to be present to win our 2nd chance prize.

November 15&16: Kids At The Castle: Thankful Hearts | 9:00am This month’s morning playdate at the Castle is inspired by Thanksgiving, where we’ll explore themes related to gratitude. Mark your calendars for the third Friday and Saturday of every month for this action-packed, kids and family creative playtime. Enjoy circle time, storytelling, crafts, visual play, music and movement in the Turnblad Mansion. Suggested for ages 2-5. Adults must accompany children. $8 per family; no registration required.

November 16: Movies in the Outfield | 6:30pm Visit Savage Sports Center for a FREE indoor movie night. Bring your lawn chair and blankets, grab a treat from the on-site food truck and enjoy an evening with friends, family, and the community. The movie shown this time will be Aladdin [PG] at 7:00pm.

November 17: The Okee Dokee Brothers | Times Vary Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander have been exploring the outdoors together since they were kids. Now, as the Grammy-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, they write songs to encourage kids and families to get outside and get creative. Their brand new album Winterland is a tribute to the season of coziness, family time, and outdoor fun! This cold-weather project is the follow-up to their wildly popular Adventure Album trilogy which was inspired by their extended canoe trip down the Mississippi River (Can You Canoe?), their month-long trek along the Appalachian Trail (Through The Woods), and a joyous horseback adventure through the American West (Saddle Up).

November 17: MN Christmas Market | 10:00am-5:00pm Held at Nicollet Island Pavilion, The MN Christmas Market is an annual pop-up holiday shopping event that showcases homegrown brands and makers, with a charitable twist. All vendors will donate 7% of sales from the event to a local charity that is fighting for kids in the Twin Cities.

November 22-24: Christmas at the Courthouse | Times Vary  Experience the splendor of the holiday season with the 27th Annual Christmas at the Historic Courthouse! This 3-day event is full of holiday spirit and merry memories. All proceeds raised from this event benefit the Historic Courthouse Restoration Fund and help preserve this historic landmark. Whether you’re looking for a special date night or fun the whole family can enjoy, Christmas at the Historic Courthouse has memorable experiences for all!

November 22-December 28: Elf the Musical Jr. | Times Vary Join us this holiday season as we follow Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. After being raised as a would-be elf at the North Pole, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities causes him to embark on a new beginning to discover who he really is. Through his heart-felt determination to win over his new family, Buddy helps us all remember the true meaning of Christmas. Based on the beloved holiday film from New Line Cinema, this hilarious musical is filled with memorable music and lots of laughs for the whole family to enjoy.

November 23: A Yankee Thanksgiving Tour | Times and dates vary In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. Experience what preparations for a Thanksgiving celebration were like 150 years ago. On a 90-minute guided tour, visitors will hike along the wooded trails to the historic Kelley Farm, meet farm animals, and visit the historic house filled with the sights and smells of a harvest celebration. Following the tour, pie and refreshments will be served in the visitor center.

November 23: Crafting with Santa | 12:00-3:00pm This family fun event includes: cookies and cocoa with Santa, free digital photo download, make and take holiday craft, and a Toys for Tots Drive.

November 23-December 22: Santa and Albert’s Holiday Play “The Snowflake Dance” at Bachman’s | 9:00am-3:00pm Kick off your holiday season at Bachman’s! Albert the Elf has been invited to the hottest dance at the North Pole, but there’s just one problem: He’s worried he can’t dance. Santa is ready and willing to dish out helpful tips on how to boogie, but Albert’s not sure he can trust his old friend for advice on the dance floor. Will Albert gather the courage he needs to bust a move with his best elves, or will his wavering confidence keep him from enjoying the most exciting event of the season? For more than 30 years, it has been a beloved Bachman’s tradition to host an annual holiday play. All ages are welcome. Following the play, guests are invited to participate in a sing-along of holiday carols and take their picture with Santa and Albert. (Bring your own camera. Play lasts approximately 20 minutes. Seating is first come, first serve.)

November 26&27: Rudolph the Musical  | Times Vary The beloved TV classic RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they come to life in RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL. It’s an adventure that teaches us that what makes you different can be what makes you special.

November 29-December 22: Holidazzle | Times Vary You and yours are invited to join in the festivities! Holidazzle is a special tradition that brings people from all over the region together to celebrate in a Winter Wonderland here in Downtown Minneapolis. It’s about stories of people, products and places that unite for a spectacular holiday event. Join us Thursdays through Sundays from November 29 through December 22, 2019!

November 29: Opt Outside: Gnomes Who Roam | 10:00am-4:00pm Stop in anytime for ongoing outside (and a few inside) activities throughout the day: Go on a superhero scavenger hunt (find items hidden along a trail in the park). Complete the hunt and receive a prize. Trail distance is a half-mile and is stroller friendly. All ages (especially fun for ages 0-6). Crack the code on a heroic geocaching mission and search for specially hidden treasures for a prize. All ages, especially fun for ages 5 and older. Solve clever riddles in our famous medallion hunt to find the greatest superhero of them all hidden somewhere in the park. All ages, especially for ages 10 and older. Riddles posted on Dakota County Parks – forever wild’s Facebook page at noon on Nov. 27, 28 and Nov. 29. The Lebanon Hills Visitor Center will be open with a crackling fire and cozy chairs. There will be themed puzzles and games, a book nook, coloring corner, and photo booth. Superhero attire encouraged.

November 29-December 1: Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt | Times Vary At Excelsior Christkindlsmarkt, there is a little bit of fun for everyone! KinderWorld is a main attraction for the children, where they can enjoy story-telling, face painting, parades and more! Adults can keep the fun going even after the events end at the Biergarten.

November 29-December 1: Disney and Pixar’s Up in Concert | Times Vary Get your tickets for balloon-powered fun, and fly away with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Disney Pixar hit Up for a live movie and music performance. Stylish, vibrant and laugh-out-loud funny, Up is the story of widower Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) as he makes new friends and gains new wisdom when he uses balloons to fly his house to South America. Performing Michael Giacchino’s Oscar®-winning score in full, the Minnesota Orchestra, led by Sarah Hicks, brings this perfectly-crafted buddy movie to life.

November 29-December 1: The Stillwater Nutcracker | Times Vary The Stillwater Nutcracker, now in its 29th year, is a family-friendly version, choreographed to the music of Tchaikovsky, and follows the traditional story line of the young girl named Clara and her Christmas dream. Our version includes a live narration and the exuberant dancing of children from the age of five through professional level dancers who grace the show with beauty and spirit.Performed by the dancers of Stillwater’s own, St. Croix Ballet.

Every Saturday in November: Eagan Parkrun | 9:00am This free weekly timed 5K event takes place at Thomas Lake Park.

November 2: Chocoholic Frolic Run | Times Vary Love chocolate? This run is for you! The Chocoholic Frolic 5k &10k races are chip timed runs that reward you with chocolate at the finish line. Just want to take your sweet time? Run, jog, or walk your way through these courses and enjoy a chocolate stop along the way! At the finish line you will be greeted with chocolate and treats for dipping in chocolate. Kids can join in the chocolate fun with their very own KidsK!  Every KidsK participant will receive a participant t-shirt and a medal. Held in Saint Paul.

November 2: Jingle Bell Run Twin Cities | Times Vary The Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run is the original festive race for charity. It’s where you can strut your stuff in your favorite holiday costume and FEEL GOOD about DOING GOOD. Together, we’ll jingle all the way to a cure – and have a fantastic time every step we take! Bring a team of friends, family and co-workers to run or walk. Get your jingle on and spread the Spirit of Yes: Yes to having fun and celebrating what you love. Yes to living life to the fullest. Yes to conquering arthritis for good. 100% of your registration fee and fundraising go to a great cause! Held in Saint Paul at the MN State Fairgrounds.

November 9: Chaska Turkey Trot | 8:15am Join us for a fun family event on the second Saturday in November at the Chaska Turkey Trot 5k Race.  Runners, walkers, and local residents gather at the Chaska High School to raise money for two worthy organizations.

November 10: Girls on the Run 5K | 7:30am Join Girls on the Run-Twin Cities at their bi-annual 5k held at the Mall of America; a fun, community-based event that is open to the public. Come + take advantage of this awesome opportunity to learn about GOTR – a curriculum-based, youth development program intended to develop + enhance girls’ physical, mental, social + emotional competencies to positively navigate life experiences – and be part of a movement to empower young girls in our community.

November 28: Walk to End Hunger | 7:00am The Walk to End Hunger is a family-friendly 5K fun walk presented by The Mosaic Company. Held on Thanksgiving morning in the Mall of America, it’s a great way to start your holiday off right – giving back before you give thanks!

November 28: Drumstick Dash | 7:30am The Drumstick Dash 10K course laps twice around Lake Harriet. The race is chip timed by MTEC, is USATF certified, and all participants receive a technical shirt. Course is moderately hilly on north and south ends, flat on east and west sides. Also there is a Cranberry Cruise One Mile, Cranberry Kids Half Mile, and a Pi Run.

November 28: Giving Thanks 5K | 8:00am Run or walk around Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, MN on USATF certified 5k course with family & friends then return to Claddagh Irish Pub & Restaurant for breakfast sandwiches, beer, cold and hot light beverages.

November 28: Turkey Day 5K | 6:30am Since 1989, the Turkey Day 5K has brought family and friends together to start the day in a healthy way. Join runners, joggers and walkers for Minneapolis’ Thanksgiving day – turkey trot – tradition.

November 28: Turkey Trot St Paul | 7:30am Get out on Thanksgiving morning and burn some calories in before you feast with family and friends! Run with thousands of others in St. Paul. The Turkey Trot Saint Paul is now in its 7th year. Each year they have partnered with the Open Door – Food Shelf to deliver food to those in need across the south metro area. Help with their goal of raising $12,000 in 2019 and supplying approximately 8,622 meals.

November 30: Moustache Run | 8:30am From the custom knit pom stocking caps to the moustache medals, the Moustache Run is simply the most fun run of the year in Minneapolis / St. Paul. Join us to create awareness and raise funds to fight prostate and other men’s cancers.

November 15-17: Just Between Friends NE Metro Sale | Times Vary They provide a marketplace for you to buy and sell new and gently used childrens items! JBF anticipates 450+ families participating and thousands of shoppers finding bargains during the 4 day event.

November 21-24: Just Between Friends Coon Rapids Sale |Times Vary They provide a marketplace for you to buy and sell new and gently used childrens items! JBF anticipates 450+ families participating and thousands of shoppers finding bargains during the 4 day event.

Autism Friendly Early Entry November 10&13 | 9:00-10:00am Head to the Como Zoo during the listed dates for an inclusive experience at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory. Spend time exploring exhibits, and activities designed for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Use the “social narrative” and the “create your own visual schedule” to help prepare you for your Autism Friendly Early Entry day.

Sensory Friendly Play at Urban Air Adventure Park  | Select days, see event calendar An event specifically designed for children with Autism and special needs to enjoy time at the park without loud music, flashing lights and to have a lot of fun! See calendar for timing and details.

Sensory Jump Night @ Pump It Up Third Tuesday of Every Month | During this evening event, the play areas are reserved for kids on the autism spectrum and their families. Kids have a great time meeting new friends. Jump, slide and play with sensory-friendly games in a safe and controlled atmosphere.

Sensory-Friendly Story Time Second Thursday of Every Month | 9:30am Story Time will take place before the store opens to the general public. No music until after the store opens…except for the songs we’ll sing together! Small fidget objects will be available for children to hold if they choose. There will be a clear schedule for story time with visual cues. As with all of our storytimes, this is a no judgment zone! We all have unique needs and ways of expressing ourselves, and we at Wild Rumpus welcome and celebrate those differences.

TPT Second Saturdays Sensory-Friendly Hour Each month TPT opens up our studios in Lowertown St. Paul for a morning of PBS Kids cartoons on the big screen, meet & greets with PBS Kids characters like Daniel Tiger, Sid the Science Kid, and Buddy the Dinosaur, and fun activities like instrument making and carnival games. If that weren’t enough, the SciGirls squad are always on hand with all sorts of STEM-related games and activities to educate your child.

Sensory-Friendly AMC Movies Second and Fourth Saturday of Every Month | Times Vary AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.

Sensory-Friendly Movies at Marcus Theatre November 2,9,& 23 | 10:30am We understand that sometimes it is difficult or uncomfortable for families with special needs children to attend movies together. Marcus Theatre’s Reel Movies for Reel Needs is a specially designed program to serve families with special needs such as autism or other challenges, who seldom attend movies. Reel Movies for Real Needs creates a welcoming and comfortable environment – lower sound, lights up – where families with children who need accommodations will be able to share the experience of seeing family-friendly films at a theatre. A select first run movie is featured one Saturday each month at a convenient 10:30 AM showtime.

Elf the Musical Jr. Accessible Performances November 30 | 10:00am Join us for a SENSORY FRIENDLY PUBLIC PERFORMANCE this holiday season as we follow Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. After being raised as a would-be elf at the North Pole, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities causes him to embark on a new beginning to discover who he really is. Through his heart-felt determination to win over his new family, Buddy helps us all remember the true meaning of Christmas. Based on the beloved holiday film from New Line Cinema, this hilarious musical is filled with memorable music and lots of laughs for the whole family to enjoy.

Cinderella November 3-January 5 | Times Vary You’re invited to a beautiful Victorian Holiday party—but be prepared to check your coat, and all sense of tradition, at the door! Join us for this high-spectacle, glamorously shameless comedy where anything can happen. We’re really not supposed to say, but there may be… A kiss cam? Cake? T-shirt cannons? Jokes ripped straight from the headlines? Absolutely yes! With a track list filled with modern pop hits and an updated script that spins stunning elegance into madcap, sidesplitting comedy at high speed, this is one party you won’t want to miss!

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Ending Nov 3 | Times Vary An enchanted forest, nestled in the heart of the Zoo, plays host to this strolling exhibit. The trail features over 5,000 illuminated pumpkins of all different sizes, shapes, and faces creatively carved and displayed from ground to tree-top. A variety of musical vignettes and fog make the perfect backdrop for a special date night or family-friendly fall outing.

Pre K Program at The Works Museum Select Mondays October-May| 9:00am-12:00pm Pre K Mondays feature special activities just for kids ages 3 to 5 and their adult companions. Kids are natural engineers – experience the amazing fun of hands-on engineering together! Encourage your Pre K student to explore his or her curiosity and design, build, and create.

Toddler Tuesdays at MOA Tuesdays | 10:00am-12:00pm Toddler Tuesdays is a program that provides events, free entertainment, and discounts, especially for toddlers. Events include special character appearances, arts and crafts, story time and much more! FREE.

Storytime with Engineer Paul at Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store Tuesdays | 10:00am Engineer Paul hosts a storytime full of songs and smiles. Afterward, enjoy the morning exploring and playing with the various train sets and tables at this fun train store. FREE.

Wee Wednesdays at Midtown Global Market Wednesdays | 10:30am Wee Wednesdays showcase free educational programming, fun crafts, and great meal deals each Wednesday morning at Midtown Global Market!
 Dance with them, experience live puppet theater, learn to cook fun items together in the kitchen, and even pet live animals from the Como Zoo. FREE.

Tots & Trains at Minnesota Transportation Museum 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month | 10am-12pm Explore the Jackson Street Roundhouse & Museum with your little one. Check out their open play area full of train tables. Create a themed craft to take home. Cuddle up and listen to a train-themed story read by one of the museum’s passionate volunteers. Snacks for the kids and coffee for the parents are provided.

Kids at the Castle: Third Friday Playdates (American Swedish Institute) | 9:00 Mark your calendars for the third Friday (and selected Saturdays) of every month for this action-packed kids and family creative playtime. Join us for circle time, storytelling, crafts, visual play, music and movement in the Turnblad Mansion. Suggested for ages 2-5. Adults must accompany children.

Free First Saturdays at Walker Art Center 1st Saturday of every month | 10:00am-3:00pm Free First Saturdays feature free gallery admission on the first Saturday of every month, plus performances, games, art-making, and kid’s films from 10 am to 3 pm. Family friendly food options are available or bring something from home to snack on in the lounge or in the garden.

Free Crafts for Kids at Lakeshore Learning Saturdays | 11:00am-3:00pm Ages 3 and up. No reservations necessary.

MIA Family Day 2nd Sunday of every month | Times Vary On the second Sunday of every month, you’ll have a blast making art, going on artful adventures, meeting local musicians, dancers, and storytellers, and more at the Minnesota Institute of Art! FREE.

Three Rivers Park District: FREE Family Fun Days Sundays | 1-3pm Explore through hands-on activities that everyone can enjoy at their own pace. Drop in anytime. Held at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park.

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An Introvert’s Holiday Survival Guide

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I slumped into the rocking chair, settled my four month old into nursing, and then began to cry. I was so exhausted, in all...
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