December–Holiday Fun and Family Resources

Can you believe that it’s December all ready?  The holiday season is upon us!  There’s so much fun stuff to do this time of year that it can be hard to pack it all in!   We hope to see you all at our annual Holiday Program on December 15th! Watch for signs at the center with more information.   Here are a few other family-friendly events going on this month that are worth checking out:

Rice Park Holiday Display: Downtown St. Paul’s Rice Park is all decked out for the holidays.  Come see the beautiful, GIANT tree covered in lights.  Runs November 19th through January 1st. Located at 109 W. 4th Street, St. Paul.   Cost: FREE!

Winter Skate: While you’re downtown checking out the lights, why not go skating?  Landmark Plaza/Rice Park has an ice skating rink where you practice your triple axel, or make slow, unsteady circles around the rink. Bring your own skates or rent some on site.  Open now through Feb. 5th.  Cost: No cost to use the rink.  Free skate rental with each WellsFargo  credit or debit card you have on you, otherwise, $4 per skate rental.  Check out their website for hours and other information.

Dinner with Santa: Meet Santa and eat some spaghetti!  December 6th, 6-7:30.  Located at: Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center, 800 Conway St., St. Paul.  Cost: FREE to registered families Check out the website to register.

Santa’s Workshop: If you would like to give your child the opportunity to give presents as well as get presents, take them to Santa’s Workshop.  Children will be able to shop for their friends and family.  All gifts will be under $2, with each child able to spend up to $10 dollars.  Gifts will be purchased and wrapped without parents being able to see, so make sure your child has a list!  A fun, affordable way for your child to experience the pleasure of giving.  December 13th, 6pm-8pm.  Call (651) 298-5709 for more information.  Located at Hazel Park Recreation Center, 945 Hazel Street N, St. Paul.

Or Emet Pre-Hanukkah Party: Enjoy a potluck meal, candle-lighting, dreidels, music and special entertainment.  December 17th, 5pm-6pm.  Located at: Wellstone Center at Neighborhood House, 179 Robie St E, St. Paul.  Cost: FREE, but register in advance by emailing

Winter Beach Party: Get out of the cold and enjoy some live music from the Teddy Bear Band and Sons of the Beach, meet Santa, eat some goodies and enjoy some fun pool activities.  This event is free, but open swim is $2.   Call 651-642-0650 for more information and schedule.  December 17th, 1pm-5pm.  Located at Oxford Recreation Center, 270 Lexington Pkwy N, St. Paul 

Global Games Youth Holiday Event: Give your kids ages 5-12 an opportunity to experience toys from other cultures.  Children will hear stories, learn a little history and get to try each toy they have learned about.  December 21st, 6pm-7:30pm.  Located at West Minnehaha Recreation Center, 685 W Minnehaha Ave, St. Paul. Cost: FREE!

Kwanzaa Celebration: Enjoy light refreshments at this Kwanzaa celebration.  December 30th, 1pm-3pm.  Located at Martin Luther King Recreation Center, 271 Mackubin St, St. Paul. Call (651)290-8695 for more information.


Family Assistance

If you or someone you know could use a little help this holiday season, the following resources might be useful:

The Salvation Army offers year-round as well as seasonal assistance.  Some local chapters include:

Minneapolis E. Lake Street

St. Paul, Payne Avenue

Downtown Minneapolis

Toy Shop Registrations (ENDS DECEMBER 2ND at 4:00pm!)

Toys for Tots distributes toys to children every Christmas. Check out their website for local centers.

Neighbors, Inc. offers toys and clothing for children and seniors. Registration information on their website.


We hope your holiday season is a wonderful one!



November Family Night: A Grateful Family and Community Resources

Thanksgiving is a wonderful, delicious holiday.  There is no pressure of gift-giving, just a time set aside to eat a little too much, be with our loved ones and reflect on what we are thankful for.  Taking time to consider the good things that we have in our lives can give us that warm fuzzy feeling inside.   That feeling can (and should!) last all year long.  If your family doesn’t practice gratitude regularly, Thanksgiving can be a great time to kick-off making an attitude of gratitude part of your everyday life.

There is a lot of science behind the idea that expressing gratitude is good for you.  It can . . .

Strengthen your relationship with your partner

Help you feel better about yourself

Improve your physical and mental health

It’s good for your heart!

It’s worth-while to make gratitude a part of our family life and to teach it to children.  Studies show that while we can teach younger children children (under 7) to say “thank you”,  older children (over 7) are better able to make connections between gratitude and happiness.  This doesn’t mean that we should not work to raise grateful children.  It reinforces good manners and lays a framework for better understanding, appreciating, and reaping the benefits of gratitude as they get older.

Take time this November to say thanks and make practicing gratitude a part of your ever-day life!


Thanksgiving Resources In the Community:

Volunteering can be a great way to give back to your community and can teach children a lot about empathy and thankfulness.  Click here to see a volunteer opportunities in the Twin Cities to donate your time.


If you or someone you know needs a little help with Thanksgiving this year, the following resources are available.

The Union Gospel Mission of the Twin Cities helps those looking for assistance. 

The Marie Sandvik Center offers annual sit-down Thanksgiving meals

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church offers a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11:00-2:30.

Cherokee Tavern Annual Thanksgiving Dinner


Central Baptist Church offers a community Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday, November 23, 2016, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

The Heights Church is offering a community Thanksgiving Feast on November 20th at 5:00 pm.  RSVP by contacting the church office.

The Fellowship Church is offering a community Thanksgiving dinner from 3:00-6:00 on Thanksgiving Day.  Register here at the website.

Happy Halloween!


It’s getting to be that spooky time of year again!  The kids are all talking about what they are going to be for Halloween and getting very excited.  Here are some tips for having a safe and fun Halloween!


  • Choose costumes that fit your child properly to prevent tripping
  • If their costume is darkly colored, add reflective tape to it to make them more visible to drivers
  • Be sure they can see well through masks and use face paint if possible
  • If you don’t want to spend money on a generic store-bought costume, consider a DIY costume!


  • Children should be accompanied by an adult when trick-or-treating
  • Help young children remember to say “please” and “thank you”.  You can practice at home by having your child pretend to trick-or-treat at your own door
  • People handing out poison candy is not a thingHowever, there have been a few rare cases of terrible people putting pins or needles in candyIt’s best to look through your child’s goodies at the end of the night to make sure nothing has been tampered with
  • Be sure to use sidewalks and crosswalks
  • Carry flashlights and/or glow sticks to make yourself more visible
  • If you are driving, remember there are lots of kiddos running around!  Drive slowly and be extra alert

There are lots of fun games and activities to really get in the Halloween spirit!  Here’s a link to some simple and fun ideas to share with your child.

The Midway YMCA will be hosting their Spooktacular party for our October Family Night.

Friday, October 28th from 5:30-8:00 pm at the Branch.

There will be Family “Thriller ” Zumba at 7:00 and a costume parade at 7:15.

There will also be:

  • Games and Bingo
  • Face Painting
  • Bounce House
  • Haunted kitchen
  • Crafts and prizes
  • Snacks

This event is FREE and open to the public, so bring your friends!  A photo ID is required to enter the Y.

Have a safe and spoooooooky Halloween!



September 2016 Family Night-Picky Eaters


We hope you and your family enjoyed this month’s family night!  Here are some more ideas for dealing with those picky eaters at your table:

New Foods Sticker Chart

If your child is motivated by stickers, this printable sticker chart could be a fun way to encourage your kiddo to try new foods.   They could even use the sticker that comes on fruits and vegetables.

Age Appropriate Kitchen Activities

Being involved in the process of buying food and helping with meals can make children feel more invested in the food being served and more likely to try it.  The USDA has lots of information on their website about the health and nutritional needs of children.  Here are lots of ideas to keep kiddos of various ages busy in the kitchen.


Talk specifically about how food is good for us

Many children have a vague idea that food (especially fruits and vegetables) help them grow, but being more specific can get them more interested. “Did you know that carrots have vitamin A in them and that gives us healthy, strong eyes?”  “Broccoli has lots of fiber in it!  Fiber helps our tummies work well and makes our blood healthy!”

Use kid pop culture

Make Paw Patrol and Disney work for you.  Everyone wants to be like their heroes.  “Oh man, the Hulk is so strong!  He has to eat a lot of vegetables to be big and strong like that!”  “What do you think the Flash eats to be so fast?”


In our meals and snacks here at the Midway, we get celery from our caterer in two ways: sticks and “smiles”.  The smiles are celery stalks chopped width-wise, resulting in small curved “smile” shapes.  The kids are way more likely to try the celery smiles as opposed to the more intimidating stalks.  Try cutting foods in different ways or serving them in different ways.  You child might not like a baked sweet potato, but maybe they would like sweet potato fries.  Or mashed sweet potatoesOr maybe sweet potato quesadillas.  And keep in mind that pretty much any vegetable tastes better when it’s been roasted.

Read books about food and picky eating with your child

There are tons of books on picky eating out there (An Alligator Class favorite is I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat at Tomato).  Kids can relate to characters in stories and might even be inspired to follow in their footsteps.  Here is a list of some other books that you and your child might enjoy.