Monday, June 30

We recently attempted to figure out the ethnic make up of our children as part of a school assignment. I don't have any Swedish ancestors, but I do love Swedish pancakes. And Swedish Fish. And the Swedish Chef on the Muppets is high on my list as well. My wife, on the other hand, is something like 50% Swedish. I think that makes our boys significantly Swedish, statistically speaking anyway. So today we're going to visit the Gammelgarden Museum in Scandia and celebrate their Swedicity! It is about 30 minutes north of the metro, but it's a beautiful day for a drive and I bet we'll pass an ice cream shop somewhere along the way. Admission to the Gammelgarden is free if you're under 12 and $7 for everyone else.  While we're in the neighborhood, we might head 15 minutes up the road to check out the free Franconia Sculpture Park as well. We're not at all French, so I guess we'll just celebrate art while we're there.

Engineering Marvel

Tuesday, July 1

I had the sweetest bike when I was a kid. It was a Schwinn Stingray 5-speed with ape-hanger handle bars and a gear shifter attached to the crossbar. The only time I remember decorating it in any way was when I ordered a license plate kit from the back of an Alpha-Bits cereal box. When the kit finally arrived I peeled T, I, and M off the sticker sheet and placed the letters, off-center and sloping, onto the red metal plate. I used twist ties to mount it to the back of my Stingray. Now, I can't guarantee that your bike will look as cool as mine did at that very moment, but the potential is there at Creative Kidstuff's free Fourth of July Bike Decorating event today from 10 am-noon. Even if you don't have a gear shifter on your crossbar, your bike can still ooze Stingray style.

Wednesday, July 2

The older I get, the more hair I grow on my ears. I understand why I have eyebrows and lashes. I can even see at least a theoretical purpose for having hair on one's back . . . not that I have any. But why on ears? I'm guessing this is the same kind of scientific inquiry that led University of Minnesota researchers to test two theories about why lions have manes. Do manes provide protection or are they symbols of power designed to attract mates? You, too, can solve this mystery at the Bell Museum of Natural History every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Actually, you can go as many times as you want on Sunday because it's free then. The rest of the week it's $4 for 4-17 year-olds and $6 for adults. My bet is that manes are symbols of power. Much like ear hair.

Thursday, July 3

For most of my life when I've heard someone say, "brickmania," it's meant that I'm playing basketball with my "buddies." But today it means that Brickmania Toyworks has a free open house from 5-9 pm. I guess those in the know call LEGO "bricks," and "mania" can translate to mean "a great enthusiasm." Put the two together and you have a room full of "models, dioramas, sculptures and mosaics made of LEGO bricks." They also have a train room that hosts not one, but two LEGO train clubs and a play area where kids can create their own brick house. So, for one shining evening, brickmania will have nothing to do with my ability to shoot a basketball.

Friday, July 4

Consider taking a few minutes while celebrating Independence Day to sign up for a service project. We've had a lot of fun volunteering for a couple of food distribution organizations in town. At Feed My Starving Children we packed uniform meals-in-a-bag that were then shipped internationally. Ours were sent to Haiti. At Second Harvest Heartland we repackaged large donations into single-family portions for use in this community. Both places were highly organized, very professional and we had a blast while helping out. After signing up, you might feel less guilty about eating that extra hot dog.

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