Category - Uncategorized

Family Fun: Home Depot’s Kids Workshops
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
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
Twin Cities Stables: Hardwood Creek Farm

Family Fun: Home Depot’s Kids Workshops

Home Depot Kids Workshop
First Saturday of the month
9:00 am-12:00 pm

Registration is encouraged. Find the next workshop here.

Home Depot Kids WorkshopOn the bright first Saturday morning in March, Chris–the husband and daddy–packed up the girls and drove to Menards, Lowe’s, and Home Depot.  They were on a mission to buy the supplies needed to redo our bathroom.  What they ran into was the opportunity to build.  They all came home extremely excited and chitty-chatty.  Meanwhile, the boys were beside themselves with envy having to wait until the following month. Read More

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:

Read More

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 16  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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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

Twin Cities Stables: Hardwood Creek Farm

DSCF8311I am in love.  With the horses of  Hardwood Creek Farm.   Lyle and Colleen Wick of Hardwood Creek Farm run a program that is unlike any other I have come across.  It is not necessarily better than any of the others, but it is very different.  And apparently I like their horses because I drove away thinking I need to come back to these horses.  Soon.

The farm surrounded by white board fences houses 55 horses.  All are Morgans and Saddlebreds.

 Where is Hardwood Creek Farm?

Hardwood Creek Farm is located in Hugo, 30 minutes north of St. Paul Just off 35 E.  It’s easy to get to from Centerville, White Bear Lake, Lino Lakes, Forest Lake, and the surrounding areas.

The fields surrounding Hardwood Creek Farm are used to grow hay for the horses in the stables.  The Morgans and Saddlebreds at Hardwood Creek Farms are lesson horses and boarded horses. The lesson horses are owned by the farm for the purpose of learning to ride.  However, these horses can also be used to compete in schooling shows.  Competing is highly encouraged.

DSCF8310Introducing Hardwood Creek Farm

Hardwood Creek’s primary focus is the ring.  Showing horses is serious business.  They strive for an excellent program to prepare horses and riders to succeed.

To build on a foundation of proper riding techniques,  Hardwood Creek Farm gives lessons: Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, or Western Seat riding.

Training horses is another component in being a serious competitor at local, regional, and national events.

Horses are boarded by their owners at Hardwood Creek, too. These horses will be award winners.  There are no hobby horses here because each one must pull their own weight!

Hardwood Creek is also a great place to buy a Saddlebred or Morgan horse.

DSCF8304History of Hardwood Creek Farm

Lyle and Colleen Hardwick have been working with horses for over 35 years.  Lyle has his masters in Agricultural Education.  In 1983 while teaching at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, they began being serious about training and instruction.

Taken from Hardwood Creek’s Website: Colleen and Lyle have played active roles in regional and national Morgan and Saddlebred horse organizations. Lyle also serves as a judge at horse shows across the country. In 2008, Lyle and Colleen received a special award of recognition from the American Morgan Horse Association for their outstanding dedication and contributions to the Morgan horse.

Both Colleen and Lyle have been showing horses professionally for many years and have been actively competing with much success; however, with less frequency now.  Taking their student to the amateur shows around the country takes up most of their time.

Hardwood Creek Farm is a world-class facility and has been in their current location in Hugo for 15 years.


Hardwood Creek Farm Offers

Lyle and Colleen give lessons as well as Marlys Bell who successfully competed for many years.  Lessons are give in a 80×200 indoor arena or the outdoor arena in front of the farm.  Lessons are available Monday-Friday from 3:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  With flexible scheduling, lessons can occur once a week or more often.

Beginning Lessons are private 30 minute lessons starting as early as age 5.  They have group lessons for those ages 9 and older who are not beginners.  These are the most cost effective ($35/each, $190/package of 6).  However, instructors prefer private ($45/each, $245/6 lessons) or semi-private ($40/each, $220/6 lessons).

Full boarding services and proper horse training are at a high level.  I was able to observe a 5 gaited Saddlebred being worked.  It was incredible!


DSCF8306My First Impressions

  • We were warmly greeted by the family pooches and actually led to the barn by them.  The Wicks (and their family including the dogs, cat, rooster, and goat) are very kind, friendly, and welcoming. 
  • While the Wicks are very serious about training and safety, they are very at ease mixing children and horses.  I was able to observe their calm instruction to my boys enjoying them as they enjoyed the farm.  It sets a parent at ease that they don’t panic even when a children panics and darts  “into safety”  while running into the path of the horse.
  • Beautiful horses!  I am in love! (have I mentioned that?)


You don’t have to be a serious horseman to benefit from Hardwood Creek Farm.  They enjoy introducing small children to horses and the barn, and yet take training to a very serious level with both horse and rider.  You would be hard-pressed to find a facility like Hardwood Creek Farm.


DSCF8321Hardwood Creek Farm
2306 80th St E  Hugo, MN 55038
(651) 429-4900







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

© 2016 Family Fun Twin Cities LLC. All Rights Reserved. 1786 Carroll Ave, Saint Paul, MN, 55104, USA