Category - Uncategorized

Free Comic Book Day – First Saturday of May
Celebrating 2 Years of Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids on Family Fun Twin Cities
Field Trip at Silverwood Park
Great MinnesotaTrain Expo
The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose
Archived: Highlights of This Weekend’s Family Day at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Wishlist for November 2 – 3, 2013
Free First Saturday at the Walker – It’s What’s Happening This Month
Disney on Ice-Specia​l Ticket Offer from the City of St. Paul
Archived: You’ll Have a Ball with Cinderella This Holiday Season

Free Comic Book Day – First Saturday of May

Free Comic Book DayThe first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day all over the country. That is May 6th in 2017. Families can find the closest participating comic book store HERE. Each year participating stores feature different free sample comic books from various publishers. I love comic books, just because I love comic books. They can also be nice lead ins to books. In the past, we have been able to find a comic book to go with our favorite books or to encourage a new book.

Local artists sometimes have their own comic books for sale during Free Comic Book Day. Just like with books, it is fun to get comic books with a local tie-in and an autograph from someone you could run into at the grocery store.

Like local bookstores, comic book stores tend to be locally-owned businesses that have to fight against the ease of internet sales. While I certainly enjoy being able to order something when I want it and have it delivered to my door, I’m also aware that shopping locally keeps a little more money in our local economy.

Free Comic Book Day divides its offerings into Gold and Silver Comics. As far as I can tell, the difference is in popularity. If you see Gold Comics that you particularly want, I would recommend showing up early. Each participating store will get a limited number of comics to offer.

Note that not all the Free Comic Book Day offerings are appropriate for children. See Below for the 2017 Free Comic Book List categorized by age rating and color coded by Gold or Silver Comics:

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Celebrating 2 Years of Exploring the Twin Cities with Kids on Family Fun Twin Cities

Anne, Joy, and I started our adventures in the Twin Cities with kids 10 years ago when our firsts were born. Slowly and surely–or extremely quickly in my family’s case–our quivers have been loaded up with arrows. With each new arrow that was added (read about Joy’s experience), we have learned how to take on the Twin Cities with  not one, not two, not three, but four children in tow.

2 years ago, we realized we had something to share with each other and with you.

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Field Trip at Silverwood Park


If you can, try to get No-Coast-Craft-O-Rama’s  Field Trip  presented together with and Three Rivers Park District on your schedule. It will be held at Silverwood Park on Saturday, September 20  from 11:00 am-5:00 pm.

It will not disappoint since there will be  no drama, just loads of fun. Read More

Great MinnesotaTrain Expo


Last year everything was falling in place to make the Great MN Train Expo the perfect outing .  I have two little boys who adore trains, Grandma and Grandpa were in town, and it was Jack’s birthday.  Of course, we had to go.  There was no way around it.  After much planning, Grandma and Mama–that’s me–decided to  make this an outing for the boys.  So early in the morning, we hopped into the van, drove down the rode, turned around because I forgot my discounted admission ticket, drove back down the rode, and got on the freeway to head to Eagan.  

When we arrived, the place was crawling.  It reminded me of an anthill.  Within the two days of the expo, 4050 little people and big people were weaving their ways in and out of cars to enter the expo.  It took us some time, but we were finally able to park about three blocks away at the nearby library.

As we parked, I announced to the boys and to Grandma and to myself, “Put your busy hats on!  This is going to be crazy!”  

We took a short hike to the Civic Arena and stood in line outside the main doors to pay.  It wasn’t a long wait, but as we waited, a man came barreling out of the door next to me with a wailing toddler, shouting, “I wouldn’t go in there.  It’s not worth it.” 

Well, maybe it wasn’t worth it for him, but I thought My youngest is now three.  I’m pretty sure we can handle this.  


After we had paid our admission fee (for Grandma and Mama), we proceeded into the arena itself.  We were greeted with

great mn train expo 2013


They were everywhere.  There was plenty of room to move around, but looking at all the layouts and displays created the illusion that there was no way to move.  Thanks to the GRVS club a total of eighteen layouts representing the scales of Z, N, HO, HOn3, S, and G were displayed.

 Choo Choo Bob had set up its store in the corner of the arena next to representatives who were there to buy and sell model train pieces. 

 And there was a small area for the Choo Choo Bob Live Show that performed a handful of times each of the days of the expo. DSCF7567 It was so small you can’t even really call it a stage.  More like a pathway big enough for them to put a drumset.  

Oh, the show.  Choo Choo Bob was accompanied by Engineer Emily and Engineer Paul and a nameless drummer.  (Why is he nameless?  Because he wasn’t Richard Kornbelt and I don’t remember how Choo Choo Bob introduced him. Sorry, nameless drummer!)  The highlight of the show we watched was that Choo Choo Bob and the gang sang Happy Birthday to Jack.  He was trying to start the show when I ran down and said, “Choo Choo Bob?  There’s a birthday.”  

Being the great friend that Choo Choo Bob is, he asked for all the vital information and then led the crowd in a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.  Jack was pretty excited!



 I was completely impressed with Choo Choo Bob.  He remembered Jack’s name (he’s real name is very unique) and how old he was.  A 1/2 hour later when we met him in the photoline, he called Jack by name and was wishing him a happy birthday. 


Super Impressed!

The train expo was full of all kinds of things for train enthusiasts to enjoy.  There were train tables for the youngest hearts, and 15 train layouts to enjoy.  




There were a couple of opportunities to run your own engine.




And a complicated puzzle to solve. 

The even received genuine certificates of completion

The even received genuine certificates of completion

Even though, concessions were offered, we decided to leave for lunch.  We wanted to be able to sit at a table and spread out a little.  When we came back at 2:00, the frenzy had died down.  There were parking spots available in the arena’s actual lot.  We were able to meander around the room and take time to enjoy each layout.

And that’s just what we did.  

By the time, we got home, Grandma and Mama were exhausted.  Utterly pooped out.  The boys? They were so excited they were bouncing off the walls and babbling on and on incoherently.  Honestly, I don’t know what that scowling dad with the wailing child was expecting.  It was everything we expected and even better.  

Maybe he hadn’t put on his busy hat.


  • The Choo Choo Bob Show is always a lot of fun especially when it’s live.  And the kids always have a great time meeting the cast.  The three that were there this time were my favorite three I think.  AND Choo Choo Bob has earned as many brownie points he can.  Don’t be afraid to approach him to say hi, but remember that he is busy with lots of responsibilities. 
  • There was so much for the kids to do.  With puzzles to solve and trains to touch and toys to use, it was a train mecca for your train lover.  And for you, too!  It is crowded, but everyone was so kind and willing to be patient.  (Well, all except for Jack at times) 
  • I love seeing the serious model trainers interact with kids.  You can tell that this is extremely important to them and they don’t want it ruined. However, it’s so good for them to be reminded of the joy they used to have as a child watching the models.  Yes, they are determined to make everything absolutely perfect, but they need to be in the midst of the crazy kid chaos as much as the kids need to be there.


  • Parking was difficult in the morning.  The easiest way to avoid that is go after lunch.  This goes against everything I have ever believed about arriving early to beat the crowds. In this case, I recommend waiting for the crowds to go home for naps! 
  • While there was an opportunity to buy hot dogs and such,  there wasn’t really a great place to sit at a table (that I saw anyway).  In a way it was good to leave, though.  We need to sit and spread out.  When we came back after lunch, we had a second wind and were able to enjoy it even more.

Bob Medcraft, the founder of Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store, knows what he is doing.  He is amazing at putting trains together with kids.  
The Great Minnesota Train Expo is totally worth the price.
 Just remember to put on your busy hat and to roll with the punches!
Head on over to the Expo as soon as you can.  You will be glad you did!



Great Minnesota Train Expo 

Eagan Civic Arena 
March 22-23, 2013
Saturday 9:00 am-5:00 pm 
Sunday 9:00 am-3:00 pm 
$5, free for those under 8

Gianna Kordatzky is a co-founder of Family Fun Twin Cities.

The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose

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Nimble Jack, a toy soldier, Nibbles the mouse, and Mother Goose herself (played by Linda Z. Andrews)

The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose
The Cowles Center

Three Performances:
Friday, December 6, 2013 7:00 pm
Saturday, December 7, 2013 11:00 am
Saturday, December 7, 2013  2:00 pm
Tickets:  $24
Performance Length:  Approximately 1 hour

Last year to celebrate Tori’s birthday, we had a girl’s day out  in Minneapolis.  We chose to go to the ballet.  And what a perfect first time “ballet” experience to have!   (I would like to formally announce that birthdays in December are wonderful.  There is so much going on.  Yes, it’s for Christmas, but it was really easy to find something fun to do because of it!)

The Zenon Dance Company’s  Nutcracker According to Mother Goose performing on December6 and 7 at The Cowles Center is a perfect family holiday treat.

PhotobucketThis year  is the 7th year of the Zenon Dance Company ‘s holiday tradition, and it’s quickly becoming a classic. The Company was founded in 1983 by Linda Z. Andrews as a modern and jazz dance troupe. So no, you aren’t taking your child to the ballet per se, but in the long run, it doesn’t really matter.

Our parking experience:  We drove into downtown Minneapolis, missed our turn onto Hennepin, found a spot to turn around, came back and continued forward.  Then, we got to the Cowles Center and drove past it, went around the block, drove past it again, went around the block, and pulled into the first parking garage we found.  It was a little bit pricey, but we were so excited that we didn’t care.



When we came out of the ramp, we were in the atrium of the Shout House. (I have never been there and only heard of it)  When we walked out of the building, to our left was the Pantages Theatre (again, never been there, just heard of it) and to our right across the street was the Cowles Center.



 photo DSCF7173.jpgWe walked into the Center, received our tickets at will call, went to the bathroom (it was beautiful and clean!), and walked into the theatre. We took an illegal picture of the simple stage and sat back to wait for the show.

The Gooddale Theatre holds 500 people.  It is very small and super intimate.  Our seats were on the Orchestra level, and we were 4 rows back.  And except for the tall man sitting in front of Tori, they were perfect seats.  We fixed that problem by having her sit on my lap.

The performance was wonderful.  The title The Nutcracker according to Mother Goose is a bit misleading.  Basically, they took nine Mother Goose stories and danced them to the music from The Nutcracker.    The Duke of York was performed to the  March of the Toy Soldiers.  Mary and her Lamb was danced to the Dance of the Shepherds.  Mary Contrary was danced to the Waltz of the Flowers.  Wee Willie Winkie was performed to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.  And so on.

We liked Little Bo Peep’s sheep when they would shake their tails.  Tori liked Tom the Piper’s Son, Kyla like the Monkey in All Around the Mulberry Bush.  And one of my favorites was Nimble Jack (who danced the Dance of the Twirling Cossacks over his candlestick).  Nimble Jack got “tired” and started dancing as a pooped-out dude and it was hilarious!

After the 45 minute show was over, Kyla said, “Mom! I would love to meet the dancers!” I told her that would be wonderful, too. Without giving it another thought, we walked out of the theatre.

And there in the lobby?   Characters from the performance.

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Afriendly sheep told us that they love to do this.  It is so much fun.  Every year is a little bit different.

And, every year, they add more glitter!  Where are they going to add it this year?

The Nutcracker According to Mother Goose is interactive, funny, entertaining, and exciting for you children.  And for mom and dad, too!  It was a joy to bring my girls to see this performance and experience dance with them.  While it’s not real ballet, it’s a perfect way to introduce the Nutcracker to your little ones (and your not so little ones).

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Archived: Highlights of This Weekend’s Family Day at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Free Third Sunday — Arts of Africa
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
2400 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Sunday, November 10 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Sunday is family day the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and this month, the MIA is celebrating the its recently redesigned African art galleries.  You and your family can celebrate the arts of Africa with activities, including:

  • Storyteller Jerry Blue Picture via

    Storyteller Jerry Blue — Picture via

    A Drumming Workshop

  • A Dance Performance by Voice of Culture
  • Stories from African Folktales by master storyteller Jerry Blue.
  • Art Projects like Mask Making and Moroccan-style Jewelry Making

Of course the galleries can be explored through Tours, a Gallery Hunt and the Art Cart.  You can find a schedule and description of all events HERE.

And, as Special Bonus.  Free on Family Day is the exhibit “The Audacious Eye: Japanese Art from the Clark Collections”.  Normally this exhibit costs $7-$14 per person.  If you are at all interested in seeing this exhibit, this is your day!!!  You can view the preview HERE.

Wishlist for November 2 – 3, 2013

Are you sensing a theme this Saturday?

Live it up because we’ve got an extra hour to sleep in Sunday morning! (Parents can dream, right?) Daylight savings kicks in Sunday, November 3. Plan accordingly in the event you’re looking for something fun to do with the family this weekend!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dia de los Muertos: Sugar and Skulls
Kroening Interpretive Center, North Mississippi Regional Park
10am – 4pm, $5 per participant
Reservations required: 763-559-6700

Celebrate the Mexican holiday “Day of the Dead” while learning about animal skulls and skeletons, then decorating your own candy skulls. Traditional crafts, mask-making and more.

Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd. St. Paul
Noon-4pm; $11/adults, $9/students, $6/children 6-17
Free ages 5 & under

Mexican cultures observe this “Day of Dead” to better connect with ancestors. The History Center will offer dancing, music, crafts, food and a traditional Ofrenda (offerings) display.

Saturday Matinees for Kids: Skeletons in the Closet
Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theatre
1500 East Lake Street, Minneapolis
Showtimes: 10am & noon; Make-and-take: 11am
Cost: $2-$4 suggested donation for show, $5 per craft & $3 per accompanying adult

This bilingual puppet show is a tale of children discovering their ancestors while learning about El Dia de lost Muertos. Stay after the show for a themed family craft workshop. Get the complete Saturday Matinee schedule here.

Saturday & Sunday, November 3, 2013

ExploraDome Show at the Bell Museum of Natural History
University Ave. & 17th Ave. SE, Minneapolis (U of M campus)

2 p.m.  Andromeda’s Treasure

3 p.m.  Zoom! From Earth to the Edge of the Universe
4 p.m.  Andromeda’s Treasure

Admission: ExploraDome tickets are sold separately from Bell Museum admission.
Show admission: $6/adults & seniors, $4 UMN students & children 3-17, free under 3.
Museum + Show package: $11/adults, $9/seniors, $7 students and children ages 3-17

Remember: The Bell Museum is free every Sunday!


Free First Saturday at the Walker – It’s What’s Happening This Month

Free First Saturday
Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Saturday, November 2, 2013; 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

It seems like the months have been going by really fast and its been awhile since we hit a Free First Saturday at the Walker.  The weekend is shaping up to be a nice one, so it may be one of our last chances to grab some sunshine in the sculpture garden.  This month’s theme is “What’s Happening”, revolving around the exhibit, Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties.  As always, gallery admission is free on the first Saturday of hte month with kid-centric activities from 10 am to 3 pm.

Performance: Saturday Morning Submarine Adventure Show, 11 am and 1 pm

I wish I would have known about this a couple months ago.  The Saturday Morning Submarine Adventure Show  just wrapped up a 10-week run at Huge Improv Theatre.   As far as I can tell, Saturday will be their last performance for awhile.  However, we are following them now, so we’ll add new performances to our calendars if they happen.  Catch this improv comedy  show — created by improviser Molly Chase and puppetmaker Andy Kraft — at 11 am and 1 pm.  Maybe your kids will get to go on stage with one of their own jokes.

Activity: HIJACK, 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, Lecture Room

Dance team HIJACK will celebrate their 20-year anniversary by leading movement exercises inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s The Store—a space filled with objects he made, including sculptures of everyday items such as food, clothing, logos, and price tags.

Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder (HIJACK) “Verbal Narratives” Research in 2011 from MANCC on Vimeo.

To learn more about Claes Oldenburg before or after your visit, you can watch the video below where you describes his work in his own words:


Disney on Ice-Specia​l Ticket Offer from the City of St. Paul

Here is another share. This one is via the City of St. Paul.

– The Xcel Energy Center is making this special ticket offer available for participants and fans of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation – Ticket reservations must be made by December 3, 2013 – If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Xcel Energy Center staff at 651.312.3486

To download a pdf of the flyer click here

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation

Archived: You’ll Have a Ball with Cinderella This Holiday Season


Photos by Dan Norman featuring Traci Allen as Cinderella

Photos by Dan Norman featuring Traci Allen as Cinderella

Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) serves a special treat to Twin Cities’ audiences for the holidays with Cinderella, a fan-favorite in the theatre’s repertory. Filled with hilarious contemporary allusions, audience participation and epic pop song numbers, this production will have audiences clutching at their sides with laughter and dancing in the aisles.


Audiences large and small, old and young can enjoy the hope and heart in this enduring fairytale.
Director Peter C. Brosius explains, “What’s so exciting about this particular production is that it is inspired by the popular English tradition of Panto, a theatre form known for its mix of theatrical worlds: from the elegant beauty of a Victorian court to the spectacle of Cinderella’s transformation to the wonderful low comedy of the stepsisters.

There’s audience participation and knockabout physical comedy; it is truly the combination of all of these things that makes this production unique. Being able to do this play with this extraordinary company will be something very special for audiences.”

The role of Cinderella will be played by new acting company member Traci Allen. Allen enthuses, “I am so thrilled to be returning to CTC for this incredible production, and even more thrilled to be making my debut as a member of the acting company. I’ve always loved and admired the work and magic that this company is able to produce. And what little girl doesn’t dream of one day being Cinderella? The girl inside me is doing cartwheels right now!”

Cinderella features all five of CTC’s Acting Company members. Uproarious duo Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund will reprise their gender-crossing roles as the particularly shameless—though very beautiful—stepsisters, Dorcas and Pearl Cramp. Autumn Ness will reprise her role as the Stepmother and Gerald Drake will play the Lord High Chamberlain.

This season’s production will mark the 14th time the play has been produced in CTC’s 48 year history, and Brosius with Composer and Music Director

Photos by Dan Norman featuring Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund

Photos by Dan Norman featuring Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund

Victor Zupanc have only upped the ante, adding an exciting mix of contemporary pop songs and classical pieces, which will be performed by a live orchestra. Original choreography by Brian Sostek will feature styles of dance from waltz to hip-hop. The beautiful set and costume design by Eduardo Sicangco in 2009 will be enhanced for incomparable splendor.

Ultimately, emphasizes Brosius, “Cinderella is a tale of hope and of transcendence that has captivated the world for hundreds of years.”

Cinderella runs November 12, 2013 – January 5, 2014 on the UnitedHealth Group Stage. As part of CTC’s commitment to programming for ages two through eighteen, Cinderella is recommended for all ages. Tickets are  on sale now.

$10 tickets will be available starting November 10. Affordable subscription packages are also available.

For more information visit us online at or call the Ticket Office at 612.874.0400.

From CTC’s Press Release

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