Archive - 2015

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities
Fun with Dad Christmas Edition
Read Aloud Wednesday: Christmas Stories
Introducing My Kids to The Sound of Music
Twin Cities Free Family Events for December 11-13, 2015
‘The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe’ at Open Window Theatre is Breathtakingly Beautiful and Intensely Enchanting
Crafty Wednesday – Trees, Ornaments and Crafting
Looking for Santa? We Can Help!
Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Winter Capsule Wardrobe Project 2015

10 Free Things To Do In January in the Twin Cities

We’re kicking off 2016 by offering up 10 FREE things to do in January. Happy New Year from FFTC!

Minnesota Landscape ArboretumFree Admission all January @ Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska

When: Now through January 31, 2016
Details: Explore the winter season at the Arboretum free of charge! Play outside, or warm up indoors with storytime for preschoolers in the library from 10:30-11am (ongoing Thursdays), take a stroll through the “please touch” greenhouse, and play with the kid-friendly exhibits in the Marion Andrus Learning Center. Drop into the Plant-Maker Studio weekends between noon and 4pm.

tm como lil explorersLil Explorer Thursdays @ Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul

When: Ongoing Thursdays through April 28, 2016
Details: The hall between the Visitor Center and the Conservatory is filled with hands-on activities, manipulatives, art projects and games perfect for the 4 & under set. Explore a different theme each week through April 2016. Donations appreciated.

Urban Expedition @ Landmark Center
75 5th St, St. Paul

When: Sundays, January 10 & 24 • 1-3pm
Details: The 12th year of Urban Expeditions at Landmark kicks off in January with tours of Sweden and Haiti! Explore music, crafts, dance, food and more without leaving St. Paul.


Target Free Family Music: Start the Music! A Brass Family Bash @ St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
Historic Hamm Building, 408 St Peter St, St. Paul

When: Saturday, January 16 • concerts at 10am & 11:15am, pre-concert activities begin 45 min. prior.
Ages: Designed for kids ages 3-6
Details: This program is a wonderful way to introduce young children to classical music. I brought my three girls (then ages 3, 5, & 7) last winter and they enjoyed the short classical pieces, “meeting” the stringed instruments, and a classic children’s story set to music. Don’t miss out on the games and crafts available only before the concert. Secure your free tickets here (starting Jan. 4), then pick them up at will call.

Image Courtesy Minneapolis ParksLake Harriet Winter Kite Festival @ Lake Harriet Park
4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy

When: Saturday, January 16 • 12-4pm
Details: The 14th annual festival will feature a multitude of kites flying over Lake Harriet as well as experts demonstrating their flying skills, ice fishing, wagon rides snowshoeing, a medallion hunt for kids and a marshmallow roast. Bring your own kite or purchase one there.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration @ Powderhorn Park
3400 15th Ave S, Minneapolis

When: Monday, January 18 • 11am-2pm
Details: The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration builds community by honoring the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s leadership. Lunch is prepared by Youth Farm & Market and entertainment featuring Aztec dancers, a youth choir, West African drumming, and hip-hop.  Special youth activities include a civil rights internet scavenger hunt and West African drum lessons.

Snowman-making contest & Roe Family Singers @ Silverwood Park
2500 County Rd E St. Anthony

When: Monday, January 18 • contest begins at 1pm, awards at 3:30pm, concert to follow.
Details: Bring your materials, props and creativity to construct an award-winning snow creation. Afterwards, enjoy a marshmallow roast and an indoor concert.

Art Sled Rally @ Powderhorn Park
3400 15th Ave S, Minneapolis

When: Saturday, January 30 • 2-4pm
Details: Come watch outrageously creative “art sleds” take to the sledding hill in Powderhorn Park at the 9th Annual Art Sled Rally.


Vulcan Fun Day in the Snow @ Minnesota State Fairgrounds
1265 Snelling Ave, Falcon Heights

When: Sunday, January 31 • 11am-3pm
Details: The Winter Carnival Snow Park at the Fair hosts a giant snow sculpting competition Jan. 29-31 that concludes on Vulcan Fun Day complete with prizes, firetruck rides, a mini-medallion hunt for kids and the thrilling snow slide! All activities are free with the exception of the slide – $2 per ride or $5 for 3, sleds provided. The slide is open Jan. 30-Feb. 7. Read more about a trip to the Snow Park here.

tm vulcan snow park 2

Cozy Up & Play at these 7 Twin Cities Coffee Shops/Cafes

This is an updated list of seven coffee joints around the Twin Cities that feature free play areas for children — from entire separate rooms to cozy little nooks. Get out and try a new one when the temps plummet yet you need to get out of the house!

Coffee Shop Collage

Fun with Dad Christmas Edition

Family Fun With Dad

We’ve scoured the internet looking for meaningful ways that other dads celebrate Christmas.  We have included links at the bottom of this article to other suggestions.

“How much longer till Christmas!?!” Read More

Read Aloud Wednesday: Christmas Stories

Family Fun at Home

At our house, we love reading Christmas stories.  We suspend any reading we are already doing and open up our Christmas books. I’m just asking you to consider reading some great Christmas tales with your family. Maybe you can enjoy snuggling with your kids by the Christmas tree while reading these stories.

And if snuggling looks more like wrestling, more power to you. Be careful. Don’t knock over the Christmas tree.

Here are some Christmas reads from local authors.

Read More

Introducing My Kids to The Sound of Music

Sound of Music

“Mom, What’s the Sound of Music?”

“Like the musical?”

“Yeah, no one in my class knew what it was, and Mr. G told us to ask our parents.”

This was the conversation that led me to the realization that I had never introduced my kids to the Sound of Music. Musical theater is just something we share in our household. I love Broadway and its often kid-friendly. But I’d forgotten the Sound of Music! It’s not like I shared it when they were too young and they had just forgotten it.  I never thought of it when I was making lists of family friendly musicals! Read More

Twin Cities Free Family Events for December 11-13, 2015

Greet a holiday train, take an old-fashioned carriage ride, or craft gifts with Santa – all FREE this weekend! And that’s just the beginning. Be sure to check our Family Fun Calendar for more ideas on how to get out on a budget this weekend and beyond.


St. paul union depot

Courtesy Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
@ Union Depot
214 4th St E, St. Paul

When: Event begins at 6:30pm, train arrives 6:45
Details: Bundle up and head down to Union Depot to catch the arrival of the brilliantly-lit holiday train. Tickets to ride have sold out, but there’s no charge to watch the train pull in or the holiday musical performance that follows. There’s lots more going on at this holiday hub; Gianna details it for us here, including Holiday Movie Night and a bake sale.


Raptor Center Free Tours
@ Gabbert Raptor Center
1920 Fitch Ave, St. Paul

When: Friday, Dec. 11 & Saturday, Dec. 12 • 10:30am-3:30pm Fri., 12:30-3:30pm Sat.
Details: Bring kids of any age for a fun and educational visit to the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center. Check out their remodeled raptor habitats, and get up close to bald eagles, kestrels, owls and falcons. The Raptor Center treats about 800 injured birds a year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild. Read more about taking kids to the Raptor Center here.




Holidazzle: Movie Night, Skating, Carriage Rides
@ Loring Park (map here)

Time: Carriage rides run 6:30-8:30pm, movie begins at 5pm
Details: Hop a carriage ride through Loring Park and bundle up for the holiday classic Home Alone shown outdoors. Arrive early or stay late for free skating on the outdoor rink — just bring your skates!

Family Day: Foodie Fun
@ Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 Third Ave S, Minneapolis

Time: Activities run 11am-5pm
Details: It’s all about food this month at the MIA. Create sandwich art, play restaurant, design desserts, feast your eyes on food art throughout the galleries, and much more.

Santas_Workshop_Photo1smSundays at Landmark: Santa’s Workshop
@ Landmark Center
75 W 5th Street, St. Paul

Time: 1-3pm
Details: Kids can craft holiday gift items, meet Santa and his reindeer and enjoy storytelling and festive music. Complimentary hot cider & cookies will be available. All activities take place inside the center Cortile. Bring your skates to take a free spin around the Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink outside of historic Landmark Center.

‘The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe’ at Open Window Theatre is Breathtakingly Beautiful and Intensely Enchanting


My date

When FFTC was invited to preview The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at Open Window Theatre, I jumped at the chance.  I was extremely curious to see how a small black box theatre was going to pull off a large-scale production. My date was my almost 9 year old daughter (for a birthday outing) who  was also concerned about how they would give a man an animal’s body but keep his head and torso and yet still give him horns.

When we arrived early for the preview’s special reception of milk and cookies, we discussed this particular concern with our friend Joy Donley, the director of the production.

She smiled and said, “Well, you’ll have to see if you liked how we did it.  I think you will be pleased.”

She was right; we were not disappointed.

Read More

Crafty Wednesday – Trees, Ornaments and Crafting

Fun at Home

I’m not certain we are getting a Christmas tree this year.  I swear I’m not a Scrooge, but Christmas Trees take up so much space, they drop needles, and they tip over. Maybe Christmas trees are just for Grandmas — not parents with toddlers and German Shepherds.

And those ornaments…

Read More

Looking for Santa? We Can Help!

TheGreatSantaChaseFather Christmas, Kris Kringle, Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas, Santa Claus.

Call him what you will, but tis the season for sitting your baby on this guy’s lap for a picture.

There is plenty of Santa to go around.  Here’s where you can find him.

Read More

Sights and Sounds of Christmas

ChristmastimeintheCitiesOne way to feel especially  in the holiday spirit is to listen the sounds of the season or see the beauty of the season.  One of my favorite ways to accomplish this is  by attending a Christmas-y performance.

The Twin Cities has a bevy of performances to enjoy and it can get very confusing. We’ve narrowed down the selections for those that are especially family friendly. Read More

Winter Capsule Wardrobe Project 2015

Thrift StoreIt’s that time again: Switching our capsules.
To be honest, the boys didn’t need many new items, a couple more sweatshirts (replacing t-shirts) and St. Paulanother pair of warm athletic pants. They were done.

The girls and mom on the other hand?  We had a few more holes to fill in.  FFTC partnered with Arc’s Value Village to bring you a real-life look at thrift shopping for your capsule wardrobe.  In doing this, Arc’s Value Village provided us a 20% discount for our purchases.  No other compensation was exchanged, and boy, do I have things to share with you!

This is going to be fun.

Read More

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