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5 Tips for Twin Cities must visit Can Can Wonderland

On Friday night, we went to Can Can Wonderland for the first time. I’ve been wanting to check it out since it opened. Can Can Wonderland is a must visit in the Twin Cities. Here are a few tips:

1.Mini-Golf

An indoor, artist designed, 18 hole mini-golf course. The holes were very cool and the course was a lot of fun. If you bring kids, pay for them to Mini-golf and you can chaperone for free. We didn’t do this and it got pretty expensive. $10/per kid 14/per adult

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2. Get the pizza

I was so excited that they offered something I could eat (health reasons make it so I can’t eat dairy or gluten). I was able to order a gluten free/vegan pizza. It was delicious. My kids got a cheese pizza. My husband eats everything and said both were good (although, he preferred the gluten free/dairy free over cheese).  We also got the kids some mini donuts. I almost sprung for the Loaded Mini-donuts, but we had already ordered pizzas. A few more fun food options, include: Cotton Candy, Popcorn, and Nachos.

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3. Adult Beverages

They have a huge variety of beverages at a 36-self-serving tap wall. I only saw one cider on tap, but was happy they had one. You get a card, fill your own glass, then pay when you’re done having beverages. They also have a full bar, including Boozy Malts and Themed drinks.

4. Arcade Games

There are tons of old arcade games. From what I understood, the games are quarter games right now, and have a card slot (like Dave and Busters), but I wasn’t sure where or how to get the cards. We only played a few games because we had very few quarters that I found in my wallet and no cash. We plan to return to try out more games.

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5. Karaoke

On Friday evenings, they offer all ages Karaoke. My kids had a ton of fun watching this, and my daughter wanted to go on stage so bad. Unfortunately for my very extroverted daughter, my husband and I are both pretty introverted. She wants to be in the spotlight. She loves the stage. My five year old daughter walked up to another little girl (whom she never met before) and asked if she could go on the stage with her. This little girl, we learned, is a regular at All ages Karaoke. My daughter can’t read yet, but she was very willing to get up with a microphone and pretend she knew what she was doing. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE WATCHING HER.Image-1(13)

We had a ton of fun at Can Can Wonderland, and my kids now want to become regulars at Friday night Karaoke. We plan to return to check out more of what they have to offer. Maybe we’ll see you there!

 

A Warm Day in September may be the Best Time to go to Valley Fair!

When I was 19, I lived in Virginia Beach, VA. My friend, Carlos, and I both loved theme parks, so we both bought a season pass to Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Water Country USA. The day I got my pass (I had the day off work, he didn’t) we were having so much fun he decided to call into our work sick. The bad news was… our BOSS was also at Busch Gardens. Oops… Well, 14 years later we are still friends, and when he came to Minneapolis, this past weekend, we both decided to get new theme park passes. I purchased 3 GOLD passes, which includes unlimited admission for the rest of the 2018 season and ALL of the 2019 season. The pass also gives you FREE parking, and FREE admission to ValleySCARE, Dinosaurs Alive, and Soak City. In addition, I was able to sign my daughter up for the Pre-k pass, a FREE pass for kids 3-5. My friend, who is visiting, signed up for the Cedar fair Amusement parks Platinum Pass; this pass allows him entry into 13 parks around the country; his lifestyle allows for him to travel frequently, so this pass was perfect for him.

Our day at Valley Fair was not preplanned, at all. We literally decided at 10am to go and were there with preregistered passes at roughly 11:30am.

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We immediately stopped at Dinosaurs Alive. My 5 year old is fascinated with dinosaurs and currently wants to be a paleontologist or a professional skateboarder when she grows up. I had zero expectations of anything we were doing, and I hadn’t been to Valley Fair in over 3 years so everything was new and fun. The moving dinosaurs were a bit of a surprise. The kids and I pretended we were in Jurassic Park. I personally liked all the dinosaur signs through-out the exhibit.

 

We made our way through Planet Snoopy, and were sure to get my daughter on as many rides as she was tall enough. She is a daredevil. So she was pretty bummed her brother got to go on bigger roller-coasters, but she wasn’t tall enough. 48in seemed to be the height requirement for most of the rides (outside of Planet Snoopy). Luckily, for my daughter, she is roughly 45 inches and is growing like a weed (we are giants in our family). I told her she may be tall enough by next summer. My son was only brave enough to try the High Roller roller-coaster; he did it twice.

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Unlike my daughter, I am a chicken and have a serious fear of heights, but lately I have been working on going on higher things. I made it on the High Roller, Renagade, and even the North Star Swing. There are a lot of rides at Valley fair that can continue to scare the crap out of me. Honestly, getting on the rides was almost scarier to me than the actual rides themselves. As my friend and I walked to get on the North Star, we both were wondering what kind of crazy things we were doing in our 30s. My husband was bummed he missed watching how scared I was getting on (he was with the kids on another ride). Chains, a metal-bar and a seat-belt were the only things holding you on this swing which took you 230 feet into the air. It went way faster than I anticipated, 40mph is what I’ve now learned.

The Great Pumpkin Fest was an awesome surprise to me. I have only been to Valley Fair 3 times before (once when I was 13, 23, and 30). So deciding to go the weekend Halloween festivities started, on a 75 degree day, with barely any lines anywhere was AMAZING. Our family LOVES Halloween! The Great Pumpkin Fest was a huge hit for both of my kids. While my daughter was singing and dancing on stage with Sally Brown, my husband had allowed my son to enter Pigpen’s People Washer. Once my son was out…. I asked him what his plans were with his very wet everything. Our friend took him to the bathroom to stand under a hand dryer. I was very thankful for the warm weather because he dried out pretty quickly. The rest of the Great Pumpkin Fest had mazes, games, and trick or treating (many of the kids wore costumes).

 

Seriously, going to Valley Fair on a weekend in September was an awesome choice. If you plan to go more than 1x in the year, I absolutely recommend getting a season pass, but make sure you sign up on line before you go so you aren’t charged $17 in parking.

 

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: How I Became a Runner.

It was a clear and sunny morning, Saturday, September 19, 2015, roughly 8:00am. I was stopped at a stop light. There were many people at the bus stop waiting for their morning bus, to the right of where I was stopped. The next thing I knew, I was launched fully across a normally VERY busy intersection in Minneapolis. I don’t remember my car stopping on the other side of the intersection. The back of my head was in excruciating pain. A man came running at me telling me all the people at the bus stop saw everything. The people behind me never even attempted to stop. They ran into my stopped car going roughly 35-40mph.

I was placed in one ambulance. Then, I was taken out and told to get into another ambulance. The woman of the other vehicle was screaming at the police and ambulance drivers, and with how irate she was they didn’t want her near me. I later found out (due to me googling her and finding a newspaper article) she had previously been arrested for heroin and flooding her apartment while she was passed out in her bathtub. This was after I learned she was an uninsured driver. I do not know if she was impaired at the time of my accident. That isn’t what this story is about.

After arriving at the hospital, I had an X-ray and was prescribed some medication. I had been diagnosed with a badly sprained neck. I went home. I know my mom flew in and I was in a lot of pain. This is where it starts to get blurry. I had a follow-up doctor appointment just a few days later, and was told I couldn’t return to work for a few weeks. This continued to happen for a LONG time. My list of doctors began to grow: General Practitioner, Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Neurologist, and a Neuro-Opthamologist. In addition to my sprained neck, I had whiplash and a concussion. My concussion was then diagnosed as Post-Concussion Syndrome.

I wasn’t capable of working. I wasn’t capable of taking care of my kids. My husband would wake up in the morning, take our kids the opposite direction of his work to childcare, go to work, then return to pick up the kids. I wasn’t supposed to drive. In addition to my brain injury, I had extreme anxiety that every car was going to hit me. I had just gotten new glasses before the accident, my eyes were blurry; letters and objects would go missing from my vision although to everyone else they were still there. The anger you experience with mild traumatic brain injury/brain injury can be insane. These bursts of anger come out of nowhere for NO REASON. Bless my family for sticking by my side. My taste-buds changed; I went from not really caring for spicy food to wanting hot sauce on ALL of my food. I couldn’t handle loud noises or any smells, which made life with two small children very challenging. Lights made me sick; our house was mostly made dark. I was instructed to sleep. My brain needed to rest. I wasn’t supposed to read, go on the computer, or watch TV. My doctor’s said I could listen to podcasts, but the best thing for me was to sleep. I became very depressed. I had 2 very small children and I wasn’t physically or mentally able to care for them. My life had been taken away from me, as I knew it.

BUT because of my 2 children, I fought. I was going to try anything to be there for them. Most of what I tell you, I had either journaled or have seen in doctor notes. I don’t remember almost 1.5 years of my life, post-accident. Things I previously took for granted became very difficult. I had just turned 30, but my fine motor skills scored me in my late 50s. I had to wear sunglasses in any light, including inside (per doctor orders). After every doctor appointment, I had to sleep. I was so physically exhausted, I was asked a few times if I needed to lie down during my appointments. I got special prisms for my glasses because my eyes no longer focused together. I decided to cut off the rest of my hair because the weight of my hair was too heavy on my neck. I had lidocaine injections in my shoulder, neck, and occipital (lower quadrant of skull). Once, my childcare fell through and my kids had to come with me for my injections. I thought they would be terrified of seeing mom with needles being injected into her skull. Boy was I wrong. I had to stay as still as possible as my children ran around the doctor’s office.

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This is the day I almost passed out getting out of the MRI.

A few times, I left a grocery cart full of items and ran out of the store crying because I couldn’t handle everything going on. Have you ever really realized how many different things go on in a grocery store? SOUNDS, SMELLS, LIGHTS, PEOPLE…. It was too much for my brain to handle. I didn’t try again for a long time. In addition, I couldn’t lift my kids. Because of my sprained neck, I wasn’t physically able to pick up my children for a long time. My daughter had just had her 2nd birthday a month before my accident and I couldn’t pick her up. I felt like I was failing as a mom.

However, my MANY doctors collectively worked to get me better. I had many exercises I had to do to retrain my brain. I also had many exercises I had to do to strengthen my neck. Physical Therapy had me start walking on a treadmill (this was one of the things I had to do to help retrain my brain); the goal was to walk 5 minutes each time I went (generally a few times per week). The first couple of weeks my heart rate got too high, too fast, so I would only last about a minute. Mind you, I was walking at like the slowest pace possible, and my heart rate would spike into the 200s. Slowly, I walked more. I rested more too. Any walking made my brain very, very tired.

Then, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to aim for a 5k if I ever got better. I tried and tried and tried. And I signed up for my 5k, and then I got sicker. See, with mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) there is not a timeline of when you will get better or how your symptoms will change. Feeling like I moved 1 step forward would then take me 5 steps back. I wasn’t able to participate in the first 5k I had wanted to do, but a year after my accident, I was able to complete my first 5k (with a mixture of walking/running). I was so proud of myself, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I was still having symptoms from PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome), migraines I still had daily, and my short-term memory still wasn’t back. My heart rate was also very troublesome and made me incredibly dizzy. I tried to look at any improvement as a milestone. I bought a new running watch, a Garmin Forerunner 235, to keep track of my heart rate. I was on many medications for a long time (all which came with their own side effects); I was on painkillers, muscle relaxers and nerve pain meds. The medications made it tricky, so I would run when I felt good, and if I didn’t… I wouldn’t. I tried not to get too worked up about how fast I would run. I’ve had a bad foot my whole life, so running as an adult was a surprise in itself (for that reason alone).

After my 5k, I was super intrigued by the running community, and I decided to volunteer for the Twin Cities Marathon and 10 mile race. I woke up before 5am to go watch people I didn’t know run. THEN, I did the unthinkable… I decided I would set my next goal at a ½ marathon. I ran a 10k then a 10 mile race, and roughly 9 months after my first 5k I ran my first ½ marathon. My foot didn’t hold up very well in the ½ marathon, but I had finally been taken off of medication and I wasn’t getting as sick.

This past year, I took some time off of running to get some varicose veins removed (much longer recovery than I was initially told). Then, this summer, I decided with my love of lotteries to put my name in the drawing for the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 mile race (of course since I hadn’t been training AT ALL). Both my husband and I got in. We run in 2.5 weeks…almost exactly 3 years after my car accident. I decided to share this story with you because I felt ready to release a VERY difficult part of my life. Invisible illnesses are horrific for everyone. I KNEW I WASN’T MYSELF. Others can TELL you aren’t yourself, but… it’s hard for everyone to adapt or accept the changes. I hope me sharing my story helps people acknowledge how serious concussions truly can be. My car accident caused my 4th KNOWN concussion, possibly why it turned into Post-Concussion Syndrome. Getting rear-ended made it so I don’t really remember 1.5 years of my life. BUT I am a success story. My motor skills are back. I can be in bright lights, and my prisms help my eyes focus. I use hot sauce still, but not a bottle a week. I don’t freak out over the tiniest things (I mean, no more than a normal person and definitely NOT at the level I once was). My headaches …. OMG…the daily migraines are gone. AND NOW….. I can call myself a runner!

 

Enterovirus D68: How Mother’s Intuition (and Medical Doctors) Saved My Son’s Life.

As parents gear up to send their kids back to school, I find it important to share this story. The absolute scariest time of my life (and there have been a lot of scary times).

I remember it like it was yesterday. Tuesday, September 2, 2014. My son, Caleb, was completely healthy. He was a very busy 3 year-old. We had gone to the park with his friend: they were laughing, climbing, and playing.

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Caleb had only been to the doctor, aside from his routine check-ups, 1x and it was for eczema when he was 14 weeks old. He has always been very independent. At 12 weeks old, he started sleeping through the night. He didn’t like to sleep near us. He liked HIS room, HIS bed, and HE chose his bedtime of 7:00pm.

On Wednesday, September 3, 2014, Caleb started his first day of preschool. He was very excited! However, when he got home from school, at 2pm, he had a cough. I didn’t think much about it at first because he was still acting like himself. Then he just kept getting worse. By the time his dad got home, around 6:30pm he was ready for bed, so we put him in our bed to be near him, and he was okay with that. At first, we thought he might have bronchitis. We decided I would take him in first thing in the morning if he wasn’t feeling any better.

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I LISTED TO MY MOTHER’S INTUITION

I kept a close eye on him. As I lay with him, I started googling his symptoms. I was reading through pages and pages of articles, and I came upon this small news article from Kansas City, on the 3rd page of results, talking about something called Enterovirus D68. I believed Caleb was showing similar symptoms: coughing a lot then later a wheezing sound started. Caleb has what is called Pectus Excavatum, and his chest normally dips really far in, but I was noticing his chest pull in deeper. At 11pm, I called ask a nurse through our insurance because I was starting to feel uneasy, and my mom gut was telling me this was serious. On the phone with the nurse, she had me count his breaths. She told me I should call the On Call Doctor at our Clinic, and if the doctor didn’t return our call within 4 hours to call her back. I DID NOT LIKE THIS ANSWER.

I called the On Call Doctor and left a message. I then decided to call Amplatz Children’s Hospital (now named University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital) because I believed I needed to go to the Emergency Room.  I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overreacting before I took him in. I told the nurse the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse had me count his breaths, he was at 61 breaths per minute. The nurse calmly told me, “ma’am, I don’t want you to freak out, but you need to hang up the phone and dial 911. Your child’s breaths are double the maximum they should be for a resting heart rate.”

My son was awake and I told him we were going to the hospital. He agreed to go but only if I allowed him to get dressed and not wear his pajamas. I decided to drive him since we were close to the hospital, and it was late so there would be no traffic. My husband called the hospital to tell them we were coming in. I pulled up and my son wanted to walk in, not be carried. At this point, I thought maybe he was having an asthma attack (my husband and his sister are both asthmatic). I thought we’d get a nebulizer and go home.

WE WERE GETTING TRANSFERRED TO THE PICU

They brought us into a room and started getting all of his stats. They immediately hooked him up to a nebulizer. The nurses told me how good it was that I trusted my gut and didn’t listen to the Insurance Ask-a-Nurse. I was told he would’ve been dead if we had waited 4 hours. I mentioned how I read this article on Enterovirus D68 from Kansas City. They had no idea what I was talking about and I think brushed it off due to me being another mom playing Dr. WebMD. THEN…. At 3am… the nurses came in and told me, “WE ARE MOVING YOU TO THE ICU.” I was not prepared for this. I thought after his series of nebulizers we would go home. My husband was at home with our 1 year old daughter. I thought we’d be home before my husband would go to work in the morning. I left my husband a voicemail and texted him telling him we were being transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit.

I called my dad, a nurse who at the time worked overnights. He started asking me what all of Caleb’s numbers were. I remember him asking what the blood oxygen level was. The nurse told me 76 (I now know how to check all of these numbers). My dad told me if it got any lower to call him and he’d be on a plane. At that point, I didn’t know you want a blood oxygen level of 97-100% saturation, and anything below 90% is considered low. I texted my sisters and my in-laws; I called my mom, she had the stomach flu. My mother-in-law sent me a text, “I can be there in 8 hours, do you want me to come?” I took a deep breath, started to cry, and responded that we needed her there. She told my husband and me that she’d leave immediately. She had 500 mile drive ahead of her.  My sister, her sister-in-law, and my son’s godfather took shifts watching our daughter that day so my husband could be at the hospital with Caleb and me.

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DOCTORS IN HAZMAT SUITS

Doctors and nurses entered our room in the pediatric intensive care unit in hazmat suits. NO ONE knew what Caleb had, but he was very sick. He was hooked up to so many cords. I mentioned a few other times to the doctors about the Enterovirus D68. Again, they disregarded my Dr. Google status. Caleb’s blood work came back. Negative for everything, but he tested positive for rhinovirus, the common cold. THAT’S IT! My 3 year old was on 8L of oxygen due to the common cold.

 

For 36 hours, Caleb was on 8L of oxygen. As he started showing progress, they started to lower the oxygen. I posted on Facebook how Caleb had been sick. I started getting tons of private messages about Enterovirus D68 because it had hit mainstream news, the same thing I had been telling the doctors about the entire time, including the Pulmonologist who saw Caleb in the PICU. Caleb was eventually transferred to a regular hospital room and off of oxygen. Saturday, September 6, we were discharged from the hospital. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life. When we left the hospital, Enterovirus D68 was the number 1 article on CNN. At least 4 children died of Enterovirus D68, more than Ebola… the disease most of the country was freaking out about.  On September 9, 2014, I had a message from Caleb’s pediatrician (she had also personally called me while we were in the PICU). In the message she quoted the pulmonologist saying, “I don’t think we are currently checking for Enterovirus D68, but I wonder if we might start.”

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HE DID HAVE ENTEROVIRUS D68

2 months after Caleb was in the hospital, I was at the doctor with my daughter for pink eye. Their pediatrician told me the doctors had decided to recheck Caleb’s blood work and it was INDEED Enterovirus D68. Apparently Rhinovirus and Enterovirus D68 looked similar under the microscope. Caleb was apparently one of the first cases (if not the first case) of Enterovirus D68 in Minnesota, and that is why no one knew what it was. Since Caleb was so sick at the hospital, they diagnosed him with asthma. We proceeded to meet with the pulmonologist, we saw in the PICU, for over a year. We also had him see an asthma/allergy specialist. His allergy panel came back with him having MANY environmental allergies. It was determined by his allergist/pulmonologist/pediatrician he had experienced the perfect trifecta… Ragweed season + asthma + Enterovirus D68 = PICU.

My son is now in 2nd grade. He has allergy and viral induced cough variant asthma. He takes daily allergy medication. We carry a rescue inhaler and spacer with us. We have a nebulizer and prescribed meds to help keep him out of the hospital. So far, he hasn’t had another hospital stay and we hope to keep it that way.

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I will leave you with this: MOM GUT IS REAL. Trust your instincts!

Minnesota on a Stick: Surviving the MN State Fair With Kids

We braved our annual trip to the Minnesota State fair, on a Saturday, this year. My son was very concerned about getting there before it was crazy busy and wanted to be to the bus by 8:00am. I am glad we went early. The attendance record was broken for the 1st Saturday of the fair at 222,194 people (you can see all the attendance records at mnstatefair.org). We didn’t get home until 7pm and we logged 17,000 steps according to my husband’s apple watch. We were smarter this year and brought our collapsible wagon. Last year, my kids entered the gate and complained immediately they were tired and we sprung for a fair rental stroller. I was amazed of how many different types of wagons there were. Weird things you start noticing when you are a parent… when you get jealous of the parent who has a push wagon instead of a pull wagon.

Here are 15 recommendations from our experience:

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15. Take the bus. Avoid Parking.

We parked at the Dunwoody/Parade parking lot, and paid $5/person (round trip) to ride the express bus, as we normally do, instead of looking for parking. The express bus drops you off at the gate entrance and picks you up in the spot. It truly is the easiest way to get to the fair.

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14. Buy Tickets Early and Save

I was smart this year and bought discounted tickets at Cub foods. We pre-purchased gate admission tickets, ride tickets, and a $5 coupon book (which offered a $5 cub coupon in it so that pays for itself). With pre-purchasing, we were able to bypass the ticketing counter.

13. Kids Identification Tags

Our first stop was the Information Booth. I find it very important to put one of the identification wrist bands they provide on my kids. My kids know my phone number, but if they are lost… I don’t want them to get scared and forget. I love that this is an option at the MNSF and I suggest to all parents/grandparents/guardians to make a brief stop and put one on your kid. That or just tattoo your number on your kid.

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12. News and Price is Right Wheel

A stop at the WCCO booth, we managed to be briefly seen on TV while they were taping; I was excited to see Mike Augustyniak in person, a local weather man. That’s when you know you lead an exciting life, when you are excited to see the weather man in person! The Price is Right wheel was also at the WCCO booth, for the first weekend of the fair. We did get in line, but after not moving for the first 10 minutes in line and discovering the prize you got for hitting 1.00 was a tote bag and entered into a drawing, we took a photo and skipped waiting hours in line.

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11. Minnesota Twins

The Twins batting area was a highlight because both of our kids tried batting. My 7 year old son has been too scared to play t-ball or baseball because he has been afraid to bat. However, getting to do it with Twins baseball logos all over gave him the courage to try it. And he hit the ball. They both hit the ball. Every time my daughter hit the ball, the crowd cheered. Something about seeing a 5 year old do anything makes random people always cheer for her.

10. AARP and Music Trivia

The AARP was surprisingly fun. The kids love stopping to spin the wheel … EVERY SINGLE wheel they see they want to stop at. While there my husband and I both tried our knowledge at music trivia. I got on the leading score board, in 3rd, but was probably quick to get booted off. However, I beat my husband so that’s all that matters, right?

9. More Minnesota Sports

One of our favorite stops is always the MN Sports tents. Again, the kids like to play the games and spin the wheel with the MN United. My daughter won a free ticket to the MN United 50K to Midway game, October 21, against the LA Galaxy. We’ve been planning to go to a game anyway, so we decided to buy three more and head to our first professional soccer game, this fall. (Good marketing on their part.) We also stopped by the MN Vikings tent and got this super awesome 3-D photo.

8. Kemp’s Little Farm Hands

The kids had a blast in the Little Farm Hands exhibit. Here they got to collect [play] eggs, milk a cow, and pick vegetables along the way. I think they had the most fun riding the little tractors.

7. MN National Guard and Cub Scouts

The MN National Guard Booth was definitely worth a stop. Not only did I chat with one of the members about my dad’s military background, when he asked if I was interested in joining, but my husband talked me into this punching game. Although, I woke up with a sore arm, I would seriously consider a punching bag in my house.

Near the MN National Guard Booth was the Cub Scouts exhibit. Our kids waited in a really long line to do a ropes course. My poor son is afraid of heights, but completed every challenge (with the help of volunteers). My daughter was a little small and decided the obstacle courses weren’t something she wanted to try, so she just bypassed to the pole. They both said they had fun.

6. Pet Pavilion

We had to stop by the pet pavilion. My son is a diehard dog lover. We picked up a few treats for our dog, and stopped to watch the Minnesota Disc Dog Club do their tricks.

5. Adult Beverages

Both my husband and I are fans of ciders. We were stoked to find $5 cans of Sociable Cider Werks at the The Hangar. I’ve since learned there are 7 different locations with their local ciders, including the MN Craft Brewers Guild.

4. CHS Miracle of Birth Center

This is my husband’s least favorite because it is always so crazy busy, so I braved it with my daughter. She was only able to pet a bunny, which was exciting for her. I felt bad for the mama pigs, laying there on display waiting to have babies in front of a bunch of people…. I could only imagine myself pregnant, as an exhibit, waiting to give birth. My 5 year old says to me as we are leaving the Farm Babies building, “So where do you think all the daddies are? At work? I wonder what they do for jobs?”

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3. The Rides

Of course, the kids had to ride rides. We pre-purchased 3 sheets of tickets and told the kids once they were done, we weren’t buying anymore. Our kids are still little enough to stay in the little kids area of rides, so we didn’t [have to] venture to the bigger rides. Make sure to check the coupon book, it has a few coupons for rides.

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2. Parade

I was not expecting the parade to be one of my highlights of the fair, and honestly probably the funniest part of my day. We happened to be walking around Math on a Stick when the parade was beginning so we grabbed a spot to watch. Roughly the 3rd “float” to go by was a bunch of horses. And they all pooped. For the rest of the time, the whole crowd was waiting to see who would step in that poop. The roller skaters missed it. The many marching bands, missed. The clowns, pom poms, people getting thrown into the air… all missed. Dancers, missed. Every single time a new group would come up or almost step in the poop, the whole crowd would laugh, hold their breath, and you would often hear the entire crowd groan at each near miss. A mom, standing next me, and I were the commentators during the entire parade, guessing which person or vehicle would meet the poop. I swear, I was tempted to put a missed connection in craigslist telling the mom how I wish we could be friends because our back and forth commentary seemed so natural; we parted in our separate ways like it was completely normal commenting about horse manure with a complete stranger for 10 minutes. (So if you were this mom, please message me.)

1. Everything on a Stick

We ate our way through the MN State Fair, like most people there. I was impressed with the people who brought their own coolers and strapped them to a stroller, instead of using it for a kid, probably saved them a fortune. We, instead, began our morning letting our kids eat deep fried cookie dough on a stick and bacon on a stick. The coupon book was extremely helpful, for me who for health reasons am gluten and dairy free; I was able to find places I could eat, and use a coupon to save money. Win, win! Pronto Pups, Turkey legs, Bacon Ice Cream, Burritos, Taco Salad. And of course… my kids needed their dad to push his way through the RIDICULOUSLY long line to get their Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We were bummed to miss one of our favorite events, 3rd Lair Skateboarding and BMX Biking, but we showed up as it ended, and we weren’t braving the crowd to make it back to that side of the fair again.

My least favorite part of the fair was when my husband was getting cookies on our way out of the fair, my phone died. I seriously was starting to think he got on the bus and went home without me, it was taking that long. My daughter and I waited and waited and waited (roughly an hour). THEN I did the unthinkable. I approached a stranger and asked if I could borrow her phone. She looked at me like I was a scammer. I was like, “look, I’ll show you my phone, it’s really dead.” Luckily, my husband and son showed up and we were able to go home without me continuing to creep out strangers. Who would think human interactions would be so hard. Maybe a phone booth or charging station by the exit would be helpful!

We will definitely return again next year, as our family tradition. Every year we try different things. Hopefully next year we can make it to a concert!

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Checking Off Our MNHS List: City Kids Visit the Farm

Growing up in north central North Dakota, it was super common to know someone who lived on a farm. My great-grandparents had a farm and 16 kids to help with that farm. I have cousins who are farmers. I had friends who milked cows before school. It was common to go to the Ag Expo, the Midwest’s largest Agriculture Expo at the All Seasons Arena, as a school field trip.  My kids do not have these same experiences. My children have visited petting zoos. My son went on a field trip to a farm in Kindergarten. We have visited the Farm Babies exhibit at the MN Zoo. We frequent farmers markets. That about sums it up.

This summer, we purchased a MN History Pass. I am a lover of History, and I wanted to take my myself family to see all of the Historical places in our state. There are 26 Historical sites in the state of Minnesota. Today, we visited our 3rd place: Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, MN. We arrived at the farm shortly after their 10:00am opening. We checked in and received our Member stickers. We were given a map and a brief overview of what to do. We started off in the kitchen where the kids learned to make corn bread. While it baked, we crossed the hall and watched a 10 minute video on the history of farming at Oliver Kelley Farm. We returned to the kitchen and the kids got to try the cornbread with cucumber mint jelly (both the corn and cucumber were grown at the farm).

 

We took a quick lunch break. We typically bring a lunch while we explore to save on costs; you’ll need to bring your own food if you visit Oliver Kelley Farm because they do not sell food there.

 

After lunch, we made our way to the main house. While in the house, my 7 year old got to clean the butter; a lot different than just buying butter from the local co-op or supermarket. The kids got to try pumping water at a well. We got to visit the farm animals and go through the barn. My son almost got peed on by a pig. They also enjoyed freely playing with sticks and logs in a wooded area. Before we left, the kids gave it a go at trying to build their own windmills.

 

The three of us all had a great time. It’s worth a drive from the metro to check out. They are open Memorial Day – Labor Day, from 10am to 5pm; however, they are closed on Mondays. I recommend getting a MN History Society Pass because our pass has already paid for itself.

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We still have a LOT to Visit:

Split Rock Lighthouse – Duluth
Fort Snelling – St Paul
Oliver Kelley Farm – Elk River
Folsom House – Taylors Falls
For Ridgely – Fort Ridgely State Park
Alexander Ramsey House – St. Paul
Harkin Store – New Ulm
Forest History Center – Grand Rapids
James J. Hill House – St. Paul
Mill City Museum – Minneapolis
Minnehaha Depot – Minneapolis
Minnesota History Center – St. Paul
Minnesota State Capital – St. Paul
Sibley Historic Site – Mendota
Birch Coulee Battlefield – Morton
Charles Lindbergh House and Museum – Little Falls
Comstock House – Moorhead
Historic Forestville – Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
Jeffers Petrogylphs – Comfrey
Lac qui Parle Mission – Montevideo
Lower Sioux Agency – Morton
Marine Mill – Marine on St. Croix
Snake River Fur Post – Pine City
Traverse des Sioux – St. Peter
W.W. Mayo House – La Sueur
Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post – Onamia

Making Memories: How Entering a Facebook Contest Allowed for My Daughter to See Her Favorite Band.

Do you ever wonder if anyone ever wins the contests on Facebook? I tend to like, follow, share because I love the thrill of entering contests, and I believe if I win it is meant to be. One contest I recently entered was by a local event promoter, Carrie the Moment Sales + Events. The contest was to say something funny or cute that your child says wrong, for a chance to win 2 Okee Dokee Brothers tickets at the Minnesota Zoo. My daughter had recently danced to “Roll on River” by the Okee Dokee Brothers at her Pre-k graduation and really enjoyed their music. I knew immediately I had to enter my favorite thing my daughter says, “cheek butts instead of butt cheeks.” SHE WON!!!! We were so excited!

Carrie was so great to work with, and she was very quick to mail me the tickets. It was going to be such a treat for my daughter and me to have a mother/daughter date night. As we pulled up to the parking lot, my 5 year old daughter exclaims to me, “Mama, I’m so nervous, this is my first concert; I don’t know what to expect!” As we made our way through the gates of the zoo to the amphitheater, there were princesses and face paint. We wanted to get to our seats, so we only had time to meet the princesses, but she was in heaven. My daughter told me, “I know those are just people dressed up as princesses, but that was AMAZING.”

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We took our seats just in time for the Grammy Award Winning, Okee Dokee Brothers to take the stage. The show was amazing. The songs are super fun for both adults and kids. The band was extremely interactive with the crowd, and with the lack of breakdowns by the children (or adults) in attendance you would have had no idea the concert was taking place during most of these children’s bedtimes. I promised my daughter a CD at the end of the show, and she b-lined it to the merch table after her favorite song, “Roll on River” was played during the encore. After we got her CD, she wanted to wait in line to get it signed. As we walked to the car, my daughter was on cloud nine. She clenched her new, signed CD, bouncing up and down to the car proclaiming, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited!”

Everything about the night was so fun. It was also very bittersweet because I drop my daughter off at Kindergarten, next week, so it was extra special to have this time with her. I am so glad I entered the contest because I will forever have the memories of the entire experience. So, if you also wonder if anyone ever really wins those contests, THEY DO! It could be you next. I absolutely recommend following Carrie the Moment Sales + Events on Facebook. She always has tons of discounts for fun events to do with your kids, and often she is having giveaways, just like we won. I also absolutely say to check out the Okee Dokee Brothers, especially if you have kids or grand-kids. My daughter has already listened to the CD and watched the DVD, which came with her CD, and she wants to get the rest of the CDs. She has also asked if we could go to another one of their concerts. In addition, Music in the Zoo at the Minnesota Zoo was amazing. There is seriously not a bad seat, and it is a very intimate concert setting.

Remember to Like, Share, Comment when you see a contest and YOU could be the next winner!

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