It's summer in the Twin Cities!  If you're like me, that means that you've got lots of extra time to spend with your little buddies.  But these endless summer days can seem a little daunting when you're on Daddy or Mommy Duty 24/7 with nothing to do.

So here's the scoop:  I'm going to list my planned "Daily Adventures" for the week here.  You could do exactly what we're doing when we do it.  We might even end up having our own flash mob if we work on our dance moves a bit.  But, more likely, you can check back here when you're not sure what to do and your children are using the phone cable as a zip line.

Similar to a wine pairing provided on the menu of fine dining establishments, this week's adventures all come with a suggested hat pairing.  Enjoy!  

Monday, July 2 - Safari Hat

It might help if you read the next few sentences in Grampa Simpson's (or some other grandpa's) voice.  "I remember when I was a kid.  My toys didn't blink or beep.  I was happy if I had a STICK to play with."  Now this is not totally true.  I had a ColecoVision video game system that blinked and beeped.  But it's also true that I used to wander around the stream by my house and poke sticks in the mud.  For hours.  The Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Township hopes this type of play makes a comeback.  To this end, they have opened the "Nature Play Area and Discovery Garden."  You won't find typical play structures here.  What you will find is a stream in which kids can float sticks, build dams, and dip their toes to cool off.  There are also kid-friendly climbing cliffs and five miles of trails open for hiking.  It's free in 2012 so bring your lunch and some dry clothes and show your kids that, unlike the State Fair, an Xbox ain't got nothin' on a stick.



Tuesday, July 3 - Kentucky Derby Hat

I'm not much of a gambler so I never really thought too much about going to Canterbury Park, but today is a special day at the races.  For starters, the gates pop at 4 rather than 7 pm.  Then, on the back stretch, live music is provided by Brat Pack Radio (they've got to be kid friendly with a name like that, right?). For the home stretch there will be fireworks when the sun goes down.  Your family will cheer as you cross the finish line and head home.  I tried to use my extensive knowledge of race terms in some metaphors.  Did it work?  Admission to anyone under 18 is free.  The rest of us get in for $5 each so as long as you don't bet the farm on a can't-miss, it could be a pretty cheap date.

Wednesday, July 4 - Uncle Sam Hat

John Adams, speaking on the independence of America, proclaimed that "it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.  . . .  solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."  He was right.  Sort of.  Mr. Adams thought we'd shoot bottle rockets at each other on July 2nd, when the motion to separate from England passed in congress.  But, as you know, we celebrate on the 4th when the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress.  Apparently John Hancock didn't put his, uh, signature on it until August 2.  Anyway, Minneapolis hosts the Red, White and Boom Festival yesterday and today if you'd like to venture downtown.  For those who would rather stay closer to home you can search for fireworks with this firework finder.



Thursday, July 5 - Polo Helmet

I don't know about you, but the only Polo I've ever seen is on the rack at Marshall's.  But that's about to change!  The Twin Cities have a polo club called, of course, the Twin City Polo Club.  It's in Maple Plain, well outside of the 694/494 loop, but your only expense will be gas.  Before you go, brush up on your polo vocabulary.  Then grab a lawn chair, some lemonade, and an air horn (horses love these!) and hit the road.  Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm, and there are games Friday through Sunday - all free to attend.  Check their Facebook page for schedule updates or call the hotline at 763-392-5373 to make sure it's game-on.

Friday, July 6 - Sailor's Hat

Minneapolis is home to a National Scenic Byway System called Grand Rounds, composed of seven districts offering different flavors of Minnesota's largest city.  Thirteen miles of this 50-mile system meander through the Chain of Lakes in south Minneapolis.  This postcard-ready area can be explored for free on foot, bicycles, or Rollerblades.  Today, however, five passengers are setting sail from an urban port aboard some tiny ships.  OK, the tiny ships are canoes that we're renting for $17 from Wheel Fun Rentals at Lake Calhoun, and the college buddies with whom we're going will total more than five, but you catch my drift.  Pun intended.  Sorry.  I'm not yet sure if $17 buys us a three-hour tour, but I hope to get stranded on the deserted isles for which Lake of the Isles is named.  OK, I'll stop with the Gilligan's Island references now.

Saturday, July 7 - Thinking Cap

Take advantage of the free admission and family activities the Walker Art Museum during their Free First Saturdays program.  This month the theme is Kids' Democracy.  You can tackle a literal maze of red tape at capitol HILL on your way to the Department of Mustachery, or dance to some Bomba - the traditional folk music of Puerto Rico.  While you're there, check out their newest exhibition, "This Will Have Been Art: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980's."  Maybe it will inspire you to roll your pant legs and tease your bangs again.  Maybe not. 

See you next week!

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Tim Kennedy's Daily Adventures July 9-15