Archive - March 2014

Free List
Peapods Spring Festival
Festival of Nations 2014 — 3 Day Pass Called World Pass available NOW
Expired: Balloonacy Opens Friday 2014
Newsletter Double Take
Sing-A-Long-A at the Ordway — Sound of Music This Weekend & Grease This Summer
Family Fun & Fitness Fridays at Great River Water Park
The Scarecrow and His Servant at Children’s Theatre Company

Free List

Music for a Grand Space
Image Credit: University of MinnesotaImage Credit: University of Minnesota
Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, MN
Sunday, March 30, 2014; 2:30 PM

If you are looking for free concerts, try the University of Minnesota’s Music Department.  There are so many free shows, I can’t even get them all onto our calendars.  Instead, I’m trying to pick some of the best performances to highlight.  This week, the University Singers, Campus Singers, and Men’s and Women’s Choruses will join together to put on their annual Recital at the Cathedral of St. Paul.  This is a great chance to introduce the choral arts and beautiful architecture at the same time.  I’ve had pretty good luck with small children at these things.  The music seems to soothe them.  However, I would recommend sitting towards the back on an aisle.  It’s just easier to escape if you don’t have to climb over 10 people while trying to make sure they don’t get kicked in the face. There is limited parking available across from the Cathedral on Selby Avenue — you might want to arrive early and take a walk.  It is supposed to be in the 50s on Sunday.  It’s less than a mile to walk from the Cathedral to the Capitol (which has free 45-minute tours starting at 1:00 p.m. on Sundays).

Image Credit: Highpoint Center for Printmaking

Before the Mirror, 1975. © Image Credit: Highpoint Center for Printmaking via Estate of Roy Lichtenstein Contemporary prints from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation

Pop Art and Beyond
Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN  55408
Saturday, March 29, 2014; Noon–4:00 PM

Saturday is the last day to see Contemporary prints from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation at Highpoint Center for Printmaking.  This exhibition has 26 prints the collection of Jordan Schnitzer. Get up close with Andy Warhol and his contemproaries.  The print to the right is by Roy Lichtenstein.  The Center has off street parking spaces available off of Colfax Ave for members and visitors, and ample on-street parking in the surrounding area.

Join millions of people across the world who will switch lights off for an hour on 29 March at 8:30 pm  - to raise awareness for the planet.

Join millions of people across the world who will switch lights off for an hour on 29 March at 8:30 pm – to raise awareness for the planet.

Family Blackout as part of Earth Hour
Your Home (along with hundreds of millions of other people)
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The World Wildlife Foundation has invited all of us to join with the world in an hour on solidarity for the planet.  They are asking us to turn out our lights for one hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  The Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul will be among the participants in the Earth Hour.

For a lot of you, your kids will be in bed by then, and you could use this opportunity for a candlelight conversation with the love of your life.  If, like me, you expect your kids to be up, GE Generator Systems has some ideas for 8 Fun Power Outage Games to Play in the Dark.  My favorite from my childhood is Number 6 – Hide and Go Seek in the Dark.  Number 8 — stargazing — may be a little impractical in Minnesota in March.  P.S.  Technically the WWF is only asking us to turn off our lights, but to make it more fun, we’ll turn off our computers and televisions, too.

Collecting Threads: Hmong Embroidery Exhibit: The exhibit honors the skills, imagination, and innovation of Hmong women’s thread and needles that have created embroidery, or flower cloth (paj ntaub) over the centuries.

Collecting Threads: Hmong Embroidery Exhibit: The exhibit honors the skills, imagination, and innovation of Hmong women’s thread and needles that have created embroidery, or flower cloth (paj ntaub) over the centuries.

Collecting Threads Exhibit
Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102; First Floor – North Gallery
Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12 pm – 2 pm and Sunday March 30, 2014,  12:30 pm – 3:30 pm
and ongoing until May 4, 2014

There are actually five galleries with free exhibits currently open at the Landmark Center right now.  I chose Collecting Threads, A  showcase of Hmong paj ntaub embroidery.  I picked this exhibit as a great family outing, because it is the type of art that can engage a small child.  You could play I spy or tell stories.  Exhibit hours vary.  For more information and hours hours click here.


Peapods Spring Festival

 Is everyone ready for spring to really begin?  To celebrate the coming of spring, Peapods is having their first ever annual

peapods spring fesitvalSpring Festival  

Saturday, April 12, 2014
11:00 am-4:00 pm

Let me tell you what you can expect. 

  • Face painting– because what is a festival without face painting? 
  • Crafts–all centered around spring.  Being a person who grew up with her mom’s ever present crafts, I may be going out on a limb here, but I want to warn you to look out for Easter grass.  Although Peapods is all about sustainable toys and green things, there will be Easter grass–even if it’s paper Easter grass.  (let me know if I’m wrong)
  • Prizes–And their stuff is awesome so you can expect great prizes
  • Baby Chicks–this is my favorite thing.  Egg|Plant Urban Farm store will provide a very springlike atmosphere with their baby chicks, so no matter the weather outside, it will be spring inside Peapods!

Peapods is located at  2290 Como Ave.  in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Phone 651-695-5559

Hours:  Monday-Saturday 10:00 am-6:00 pm, Thursdays, 10:00 am-8:00 pm, Closed on Sundays



Festival of Nations 2014 — 3 Day Pass Called World Pass available NOW

It’s been over a month since we’ve returned from Thailand, and I’m ready to experience another culture again. 
Cue Festival of Nations during the beginning of May. It’s open to the public Friday, May 2-Sunday, May 4, 2014.  

What can you experience at the Festival of Nations?
The festival brings together people from over 90 ethnic groups around the world through exhibits, food, music, dance, and shopping.  

Ticket Information:  A World Pass, good for admission all days of the Festival, is a great value at $18 for adults and $12 for youth. NOTE: The World Pass is only available in advance at the International Institute of Minnesota March 21 through April 30.

Advance tickets are $11 for adults, $8 for youth 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under, and are available between March 21 and April 30 at the International Institute of Minnesota and at Byerly’s Food Stores. During the event, tickets are available at the RiverCentre Box Office for $13.50 for adults, $8 for youth 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under.  


  • ENTERTAINMENT – Over 100 dancers and musicians perform on three stages throughout the Festival. On Friday, May 2, the Ticket to Brasil will perform a special concert from 7 to 10 p.m. on the Café Stage, free with festival admission.
  • CULTURAL EXHIBITS – Community members will showcase their distinctive cultures through 52 special exhibits. Festival visitors can pick up a Festival of Nations Passport to be stamped at each stop.
  • ETHNIC CAFÉS – From Palestinian falafel to Colombian tamales to Tibetan mo-mos and Norwegian lefse, enjoy fare served around the world at 32 ethnic food cafés. Proceeds from each café benefit local non-profit organizations.
  • ETHNIC DEMONSTRATIONS – Community members will showcase their distinctive cultures through interactive exhibits. This is a fun and interactive activity for the whole family! Many folk artisans practicing crafts passed down through generations and interactive, educational demonstrations will be featured in over 26 different booths.
  • INTERNATIONAL BAZAAR – Shopping from around the globe with booths representing 68 countries, with imported gifts including clothing, jewelry and artifacts from many cultures.
  • INTERNATIONAL BEER EXPERIENCE – Last year’s inaugural event was such a hit that it’s coming back for another year. Patrons 21+ can enjoy beers from around the world and visit with Festival of Nations beer experts.
  • NATURALIZATION CEREMONY – On Friday evening, in the Bazaar Courtyard, Festival of Nations visitors can watch as 15 people become U.S. citizens. The ceremony begins at 6:00 p.m.
  • ART SLAM – Saturday features the festival’s first Art Slam, where six first-generation American artists will go head-to-head, creating artwork inspired by the festival’s theme, Peace Among the People.


    General Public Hours:

                                                Friday, May 2 – 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

                                                Saturday, May 3 – 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

                                                Sunday, May 4 – 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.


taken  from the Festival of Nations Press Release, images used with permission


Expired: Balloonacy Opens Friday 2014

Balloonacy1Children’s Theatre Company welcomes Robert Dorfman, celebrated actor of stage, film and television, to the Cargill Stage in the world premiere of Balloonacy by award-winning playwright Barry Kornhauser. 

A withdrawn Old Man (Dorfman) is steadfast in his solitary routine until a Balloon drifts in through his Parisian apartment window insisting on becoming his friend. The Old Man desperately tries to rid himself of the annoying red Balloon who magically emerges out of the most unlikely of places. Despite the Old Man’s struggle to remain alone, the Balloon’s efforts lead to a joyful afternoon of games, dancing and surprises, ultimately teaching the Old Man to how to play again.

Balloonacy combines the gleeful art of physical humor with a heartfelt story of the importance of friendship floating intoyour life when you need it most.

Dorfman’s co-star is a red balloon, which creates its own set of challenges. The director, Peter Brosius, explains, “One of the wildest things about this is literally breathing life into a balloon. Once you animate it, you have a sacred responsibility to keep its life from fading away.”

Balloonacy was commissioned and developed especially for preschoolers by Barry Kornhauser, the most acclaimed writer of theatre for young audiences in the nation. Kornhauser has been honored multiple times for his writing, receiving the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play among other prestigious honors. Balloonacy was the winner of the American Association of Theatre in Education Distinguished Play Award, and audiences will see it first at CTC. Balloonacy and other plays created through CTC’s Early Childhood Initiative introduce the transformative power of live theatre to our community’s youngestpatrons, most of whom will be seeing live theatre for the first time.

Robert Dorfman describes the completely non-verbal Balloonacy as one of the most extraordinary things he’s done in his career. He explains, “I think parents, and really, any adult will love this. Not only because it’s good storytelling and wonderful writing, but also because I think the enthusiasm for theater will be reborn as they see this play through the eyes of the young people.”

Balloonacy-Sidebar-260x85Balloonacy by Barry Kornhauser will run weekends on the Cargill Stage March 25 – May 4.
Balloonacy is recommended for toddlers up to age five.

Balloonacy uses only latex-free balloons.
The run time is half an hour, with no intermission.
Tickets are on sale now for $16-$21: 612.874.0400 or go online.



Balloonacy Features Distinguished Actor Robert Dorfman in a World Premiere Comedy for Preschoolers

images by Dan Norman, used with permission
taken from CTC’s press release  



This weekend is a quiet weekend for free activities, but I found a few gems.  You can find more on our Free Calendar. Other free ideas: head over to your local library to check out a book by our featured local author, Dara Dokas or sample a Music Together class.  Oh! Or you could just go to a park and play outside!!  I’m so happy to see signs of spring!


Image Credit: Red Balloon Bookshop

Image Credit: Red Balloon Bookshop

Minnesota Book Award-Young People’s Literature Readings
Red Balloon Bookshop, 891 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105
Friday, March 21, 2014; 7:00 pm

The Red Balloon is hosting four local authors — all Minnesota Book Awards Finalists in the category of Young People’s Literature.  The authors will be reading from their book and talking to the audience.  Light refreshments will be served.  This would be the perfect outing for book groupies.  The Four authors are:

WAM@20: Paper Now - July 6, 2014

WAM@20: Paper
Now – July 6, 2014


WAM@20: Paper
Weisman Art Museum, 333 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455
Now through July 6, 2014; Saturday and Sunday Hours: 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Admission is always free at the Weisman Art Museum, so its easy to overlook.  This quiet weekend would be a great weekend to pull this one out of our back pockets. On Saturdays and Sundays, the “Weisguides” lead free public tours at 1:00 p.m.  The Weisman is celebrating its 20th birthday in its current location.  Now through July 6th, they are featuring the exhibit WAM@20: PAPER, which highlights the various artistic mediums that use paper.

Photo Credit: Cultural Society of Cultural Society of Filipino Americans (CSFA)

Photo Credit: Cultural Society of Cultural Society of Filipino Americans (CSFA)


Phillipine Day
Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth  Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102.
Sunday, March 23, 2014; Noon to 4:00 p.m.

Technically, Phillipine Day is NOT part of the Landmark Center’s Urban Expedition Program, but if you are enjoying that series, this is another chance to learn about another culture.  Join the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans for this celebration of their heritage.  As with the Urban Expedition program, your family can get a little taste of the Phillipine culture through dance, activities and food.

Let's Get stARTedLet’s Get Started: Spring Bloom: Watercolor Leaf Prints
Silverwood Park, 2500 County Rd. E,  St. Anthony, MN 55421
Sunday, March 23, 2014; 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

This is another activity that I really enjoy, but tend to set on the backburner.  Show up at Silverwood Park and try your hand at the art activity of the month.  This month make Watercolor Leaf Prints.  This is a fun activity for the whole family, because you’re given the tools and any encouragement that you would like, but the final product is up to you.  A two-year-old may end up fingerpainting his chest while a grade school age child could make something you want to frame.  Mom and dad can create alongside the kids, too.  During the same time, there is an artist led tour of the Silverwood grounds or you can strike out on your own or just sit in the coffee shop and sip lattes while the kids play with the open-ended toys provided.  I love this for a lazy Sunday afternoon with no rules or structure or expectations.  Just family.

Joy Peters is a co-creator and writer for


Spring at Target Field -- Look!!! See Green Grass.  I know there is snow too, but GREEN GRASS!!

Spring at Target Field — Look!!!  Green Grass. I know there is snow, too; but GREEN GRASS!!

Newsletter Double Take

April is a very special time for Family Fun Twin Cities.

It’s the beginning of spring in Minnesota (Oh, please let it be the beginning of spring).

We get to celebrate Easter outside (Oh, please let us be able to celebrate Easter outside).


It’s our birthday.

We are turning the big number 1.

We have a lot of activities lined up and to be able to get you all that information, we will be sending out a Birthday Newsletter.

We will also be sending out an April newsletter the next week.  This is the one time we will send 2 newsletters  in one month because we don’t want to clutter your inbox.  But if you don’t want to miss out on what is happening for our birthday, I would say sign up for the newsletter ASAP.


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Sing-A-Long-A at the Ordway — Sound of Music This Weekend & Grease This Summer

Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music
Saturday, March 22, 2014; 11:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $17/Standing; $27 seated
Sing-A-Long-A Grease
Wednesday, July 30, 2014; 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 31, 2014; 7:00 p.m.
On Sale June 23rd – Unless you buy as a Package with Sound of Music.
Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 345 Washington Street, St. Paul, MN

This weekend, The Ordway is playing two screenings of The Sound of Music for a “sing-a-long-a”.  Tickets are still available for this event.  This kind of falls under Wish List category for me.  Although I think it sounds like amazing fun in theory, the price is a little too high for me and my family and I don’t think my children would have as much fun as me – especially since we would probably opt for the standing room only tickets.  Maybe we could consider a babysitter for Grease.  As part of the experince, there will be sing-along subtitles and a vocal warm up exercise.  Plus, guests receive a complimentary party pack as part of their ticket price.  You’ll have props to use during the show.  You are encouraged to dress as your favorite characater and participate in a costume contest with a chance to win tickets to future shows.  Doors open a half hour early.

Images Credit: Ordway Center for Performing Arts

Joy Peters is a co-creator and writer for

Family Fun & Fitness Fridays at Great River Water Park

great river water park st paulFamily Fun & Fitness Fridays
Great River Water Park (Oxford Community Center)
3rd Friday of each month (upcoming: March 21, 2014)
$2 per person during Open Swim hours

Need another tool in your box to push through the last few weeks of chilly Minnesota temps? Give the (indoor!) Great River Water Park in St. Paul a try. And make sure – if you’re able – to hit it up on the third Friday of the month (this March 21st!) to take advantage of their Family Fun & Fitness Fridays deal. Every body – swimmers and non-swimming chaperones alike – pays just $2 admission. Friday Open Swim hours for the water  park are generally from 10:30am – 12:30pm and from 4 – 8:30pm. I’d recommend checking the website for the most current schedule.

great river water park

Now, don’t get Water Park of America visions in your head. The children’s activity pool at Great River is equipped with a medium-sized water play structure, small slides, bubblers and a few interactive touches. But this is what makes the junior water park such a relief to those parenting multiple little ones! The zero-depth entry maxes out at 18 inches deep. Vigilant lifeguards pace the perimeter. The tot’s pool is also kept in a separate room to cut down on cross-traffic from older kids. (Just a note: I found this pool a little cool for my liking, but my little ones didn’t complain.)

great river water park

Speaking of those older kids – if you’ve got them – they’ll appreciate the two enclosed-tube waterslides that snake outside the building and back, and the larger swimming pool.

It’s no substitution for summer, but a day at the Great River Water Park might make bearing the end of winter just a little easier.

Great River Water Park at the 
Oxford Community Center
270 N. Lexington Parkway

Saint Paul, MN 55104

The Scarecrow and His Servant at Children’s Theatre Company

My third-grade daughter and I were lucky enough to get to see the Children’s Theatre Opening of The Scarecrow and His Servant. This play is based on the children’s chapter book by Philip Pullman of the same name.  (The book is available at The Red Balloon Bookshop for $7.99).  Both the play and book are recommended for ages 8 and up.  I believe this is an accurate recommendation for both.  If you do choose to take a younger child, they will certainly enjoy the physical comedy.  Other parts may be kind of scary.

Scarecrow Dean Holt demonstrating his stilt ability with Brandon Brooks as Jack Photo by Dan Norman

Scarecrow Dean Holt demonstrating his stilt ability with Brandon Brooks as Jack
Photo by Dan Norman

As always, Children’s Theatre has created a production worthy of the most discerning adult theatre patron. Dean Holt – who played Scarecrow said that the moment he started as the scarecrow, he wore stilts. He has to constantly adjust his weight to keep his balance. When you see it, you will realize what an amazing feat this is, because he’s always moving — always doing more than one thing at a time. Throughout the play, he loses and replaces limbs, so the bottoms of his stilts change sizes several times. His stilts are hinged and flexible so his ankles can pivot up and down.

The cast interacting with the audience at the preview.

The cast interacting with the audience at the preview.

The supporting characters all play multiple roles, but I’m not sure I would have noticed this had I not noticed that they all wore the same red under-suit (and read the playbill).

I found this play more sophisticated and challenging than any play I’ve seen at the Children’s Theatre in the past.  Some parts of this play were a little disturbing and I left wondering why Jack couldn’t have just eaten the coconut.  On the drive home, I answered a lot of questions about war and peace and doing the right thing.  Despite the fact that it dealt with subjects of war and environment and social responsibility, in general, I felt the play was done in a very non-preachy manner.  It’s the kind of play that a child might walk out of without realizing there were lessons, but reflect upon later.

The play dealt with mature subjects like war, the environment social responsibility in a fun non-preach manner. Photo by Dan Norman

The play dealt with mature subjects like war, the environment and social responsibility in a fun non-preachy manner.  Photo by Dan Norman

The Children’s Theatre has always seemed a little outside of our budget, but right now they are offering the best deal of the year for the coming season.  A six play package for my family of 5 would cost about the same as we pay for six months of our cable television.  If we actually used cable, maybe that wouldn’t be such a great deal, but we only watch Netflix anyways.  Everyone has their own entertainment priorities and I’m not suggesting this would be a good move for everyone, but I mention this because before looking at the numbers, I never would have believed we could afford season tickets.

The Scarecrow and His Servant Teaser from Children’s Theatre Company on Vimeo.

Gianna enjoying the Scarecrow preview with her younger audience member.

Gianna enjoying the Scarecrow preview with her younger audience member.

The Scarecrow and His Servant

Children’s Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Now through April 6, 2014

Children’s Theatre Company donated the tickets for this review, but opinions are my own.

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