A Shark in Minnesota? Bartz Snow Sculpture 2013
Wood From the Hood, Locally Made Gifts
The Great Santa Chase – A Kordatsky Adventure

A Shark in Minnesota? Bartz Snow Sculpture 2013

Less than a mile from my house is the biggest snow sculpture I have ever seen.  It literally covers an entire front yard. 

And it’s a shark.

Bartz Snow Sculpture 2013

A 16 foot high shark.

Built by 19 year old Austin, 15 year old Connor, and 18 year old Trevor the massive shark is their 2013 labor of snow love.  This isn’t their first endeavor.  In the winter of 2011, the Bartz boys (then 17, 13, and 16) debuted their first work of art — a giant puffer fish — in their front yard.  Last year, they built a 15 foot walrus. And this year their 16 foot shark.

They determined that creating this sculpture has taken them at least 95 hours, and they have been working on it for the past month hauling snow in their sleds from their neighbors’ yards.  Those 95 hours do not include the planning time. They usually  look online for their inspiration.  The guys want something that takes a lot of creativity and is distinguished so as you drive past, you can easily see what it is.  And each year they get bigger.

Bartz Snow Sculpture 2013

Along with building the shark, the Bartz brothers have also created a viewing area for the public, and they welcome the public to come check it out. They love to make people happy, and if there is one thing this shark does is make people happy.

Even my sister-in-law visiting from North Carolina ventured into the subzero temperatures, the shark luring her out of the van and into the elements to get a closer look.

They have been featured on the local news stations and even on the Today Show. 

Bartz Snow Sculpture 20135

Plans are already in the works for next year.    These guys are proof that kids still like to play outside!

Thanks, Austin, Trevor, and Connor for the innocent, creative, and exciting family fun you bring to the Twin Cities

Just take a look at how their Snow Shark Progression Video.


If you want to check out the Bartz’s Giant Snow Shark in person, you can find it on the 2700 block of 16th Street NW in New Brighton, just west of Silver Lake Road.

If you want to see their past creations, you can check out these WCCO Interviews.

The Puffer Fish

The Walrus



Wood From the Hood, Locally Made Gifts

Here’s another unique idea for Christmas that you may want to consider. While it’s doesn’t have many kid-friendly products, your family is not solely children and you would be hard-pressed to find something this unique. Let me introduce you to Wood From the Hood.

Wood From the Hood

Rick and Cindy Siewart began Wood From the Hood in 2008 with their partner Jon Buck when an Ash tree was taken down from their yard. They didn’t want to lose it to a landfill, so instead they chose to repurpose it.  They had 25 years in the commercial cabinetry business and had an idea to save the trees in the metro.  Save them in an unconventional way.

Wood From the Hood

Trees from the neighborhood may need to be removed, but they can be reclaimed and used for high-quality wood products.

  • Custom-made tables,
  • flooring,
  • picture frames,
  • cribbage boards,
  • cutting boards,
  • growth charts,
  • Minnesota ornaments
  • and more.

Wood From the HoodOne of their best sellers is the growth chart. Since they can use almost any type of wood, the growth charts are all unique, and the customer can choose the style they like best.  They measure from 18 inches to six feet, four inches.  They are  six inches wide at the base, made of natural wood, and are available finished and unfinished.  All the mounting hardware comes with your purchase.  These growth charts are a simple and yet beautiful addition to a bedroom or a family gathering room.

Cindy explains how they came up with the idea for the growth charts. “When we bought our house, the previous owners had measured their children on the door jam(like so many people do). We told them we where remodeling and they where welcome to take the door jam with all the memories of their children’s height. They didn’t remove it so we took it off and stuck it outside. It stuck up along the fence for awhile so we looked out at it often. Then one day our idea was born.”

It was difficult for Cindy to choose a favorite product, but after some hemming and hawing, she finally settled on their cutting boards. She chose them because they get used the most frequently and they are so unique and similar all at the same time.

The one thing that sets Wood From the Hood apart from other companies is that they take each of their products from the log all the way through manufacturing.  And their stuff is high-end quality.

You can purchase their products from Wood From the Hood’s website store or a variety of retailers around the twin cities including

images are courtesy of Wood From the Hood, used with permission


The Great Santa Chase – A Kordatsky Adventure

We don’t always get everything right here at Family Fun Twin Cities. We try to be accurate as possible, but when we have 12 children, a full-time job outside the home, Christmas preparations, and other daily activities, we sometimes get things wrong. And for that, I sincerely apologize. But sometimes even the mistakes can be a lot of fun. Case in point–our weekend adventure. I call it The Great Santa Chase.

I was postive the Twinkle Parade in Stillwater was rescheduled for Saturday.  Joy posted the reschedule date for Sunday, Anne had posted the reschedule date for Sunday, and I–Gianna–went on KTIS and said it was Saturday.  I was so convinced it was Saturday that I bundled 3 of my 4 children into their snow gear, dropped the fourth at her friend’s house, and drove out to Stillwater.

After I parked the car, woke up my three year old snoozer, and loaded my backpack onto my back, the four of us trekked across the snow-covered parking lot, snowpants swishing with each step.

The meeting location looked a little too desolate for a parade, but we continued until we reached the restaurant.  That’s when I saw the sign.

“Twinkle Parade has be rescheduled for Sunday, December 15 at 4:00.”

“Aww!  Really!?”  I felt the defenses of a mom who just drove 30  miles to give her children a fun and unique Christmas experience rise to the surface. “Okay, guys.  I guess it’s tomorrow.  That’s a bummer.”

A chorus of disappointed sighs followed me as we turned on our heels, but for once, no one complained.  They dutifully followed me back to our vehicle.  Then, I heard a little voice, “so we don’t get to see Santa?”

Let me just be honest right now.  My children do not believe in Santa Claus.  We think it’s a very fun story and  like the make believe of it, but my children know it’s a tale.  In fact, my three year old has told me multiple times that the real Santa is dead  (I just go along with it since St. Nicholas IS dead).  But even so, the Twinkle Parade followed by a visit from Santa Claus is just too exciting to not be a part of.

I tucked everyone back into their seats, and we drove out of the Stillwater parking lot.  I was not exactly sure what I was going to do to make it up to my little ones.  As we pulled to a stop at one of the intersections of downtown, I saw Santa in front me.  Just walking across the street!  He was waving at every car and pedestrian and calling out, “Merry Christmas!”

The Great Santa Chase“Jack!  Jack!  Do you see Santa?”  I asked.

“Where?”  Jack was frantic.  He couldn’t see the jolly old elf.

It was then I made my decision.  We were going to get to Santa!  My kids would get a special visit from him.  No matter what it took.

I pulled out of the intersection and around the block hoping to cut him off before he got too far away.  We were 20 yards away when we thought we had him cornered, and suddenly he disappeared out of sight.  I thought he had gone into a building.  We drove through another parking lot to turn around when Tori, who is seven, yelled.

The Great Santa Chase“I saw him!”

“Where is he?”

“He’s back there!” Tori said.

“Back where?” I asked.

“Back there!”

“Tori, I have no idea what back there means!”

“He’s back where we were, Mom!” she exclaimed, angry at me for not believing her.

I whipped around a corner and Dash shouted, “I see him!”


“He’s right over there.  I saw a big blob of red! Really!  I did, Mom!”

By this point I had given up hope. My children were delusional.  They wanted to see Santa so badly that they were just seeing things.

“I believe you, Buddy.  But I think it’s too late. I don’t know if I can find him anymore.”  I resigned myself to the fact that it was a lost cause.

I started to head out of Stillwater passing yet another parking lot when I glanced over my shoulder and something red caught my eye.

‘There he is!”  I skidded into the parking lot and drove straight at Santa.

My van crunched to a stop on the packed snow, and I hopped out. “Can my kids say hi?”

“Certainly!”  Santa said as he strolled forward to our van.  The parking lot was empty except for a few cars.

It was just us and Santa.

The Great Santa Chase

I opened the door for him and he was assaulted with giddy smiles.

“What do you want for Christmas?”  he asked.

One by one he was given the answer “An IPad.”  Really?  When did my children become so worldly?

Santa looked at me and said, “Looks like its IPads all around, Mom!”

After taking the time to listen to each one of my kids, he was on his way. The Christmas magic had settled into our hearts, and we drove in peace for a couple minutes.

The spell was soon broken when I heard, “Mom!  I have to go to the bathroom.”

Merry Christmas, Santa!

The Great Santa Chase

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