Monday, February 26, 2007

March Issue Preview

The March issue went to the printers this past weekend. You should be able to find it at your favorite location beginning Thursday! If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you will not want to miss this issue.
Inside is our 7th Annual Pregnancy & Baby Guide. There are 10 great articles in the guide. They include:
* A report on how Massachusetts is one of the worst states in the union to support and protect a women's right to breastfeed
* The beginning of our two-part series The Truth About Miscarriage and Life After Miscarriage.
* Discover the reasons behind the increase in C-sections in the Bay State.
* Changes you can expect to see in your baby during his first three months
* Trends in naming newborns and the top 10 names for boys & girls in Massachusetts
* Should I hire an au pair?
* Finding & making time for mom after baby's arrival
* The smallest sweets perfect for a baby shower
* 12 marvelous maternity shops
* 7 essentials for every new mom & baby

But if you are not having a baby, then you'll still can't afford not to pick up this month's issue to read our Special Report: Tackling the Childhood Obesity Problem.
Freelance Writer Rosemary Cafasso researched and wrote a multi-article report on how organizations and families are putting muscle into the fight against obesity.
The package also contains a look at the soon-to-be released book Ending the Food Fight by a physician at Children’s Hospital in Boston and an interview with children's author & illustrator Marc Brown, of Arthur fame, who teamed up with Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby) to collaborate on The Gulps, a children's book, to be released in April, which tackles the childhood obesity issue and the need for families to solve the problem together.

Also inside March, read a:
* Adoption Insights: Preview of the 34th Annual New England Adoption Conference
* Special Needs Parenting: Understanding Children with Asperger's Syndrome
* Ask the Teacher: How to Prepare Your Fourth Grader for the MCAS
* Tween to Teen Department: New Commonwealth Driving Rules for Teens, effective March 31

Hope you enjoy this issue as much as we do!
Drop me a line with your thoughts at
P.S. Stop by our booth at the American Baby Faire in Boston on March 10-11. We'll be raffling for FREE a few of our essential items for moms and babies featured in this month's issue!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Greetings from (C)old Cape Cod

It's February vacation, and we're cozily holed up on the Cape. Some people think it's a little odd to be here in "the gray (or brown, depending on locale) season", when there's no easy beachin', no open ice cream stands or clam shacks, and despite the relative lack of snow this season, no decent biking or mini-golf opportunities.

Summer is playtime on the Cape, fall is breathtaking, spring is inspiring, and winter - the quiet season - is the time to really get to know it.

Winter is the time to wander leisurely through the stores that are jam-packed with tourists during the summer and find out who the hearty souls are who hang in there even when business is slow. We had a delightful chat the other day with the man who owns Brewster Sweets, a candy store in Lemon Tree Village that offers delicacies from key-lime chocolate truffles to (real!) seasoned larvae. We stuck with the chocolate.

It's the time to try out the hot restaurants without having to wait for a table. Most restaurants, even the tonier one, welcome children during this less hectic time and may offer them special kid-friendly meals even if they don't have a children's menu.

When the temperature hovers above freezing and the wind is calm, it's a great time to explore the shore. You can travel hither and yon without a beach sticker or parking fee. The Mass. Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay sanctuary and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster have family programs in the winter that are also worth checking out.

Ice skating is an obvious winter activity, and although the ponds aren't always sufficiently frozen for the outdoor variety, the Cape is blessed with what I would wager is the highest skating arena per population ratio in the country. There's a rink in almost every other town, and they have regular public skating times. Sure, the rinks are open year-round, but who thinks of donning leggings and gloves when it's a beautiful beach day?

If you can't live without summer-type fun, there's always the indoor playgrounds such as Bonkerz in Yarmouth and Willy's World in Eastham, or the wave pool available to registered guests at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis.

Winter might be the Cape's best-kept secret. And there's almost no traffic.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

RECALL: Easy Bake Ovens

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Easy-Bake, a division of Hasbro Inc. in Rhode Island, is recalling 985,000 Easy-Bake Ovens for repair due to entrapment and burn hazards. The company has received 29 reports of children getting their hands or fingers caught in the oven’s opening, including five reports of burns. The oven is a purple and pink plastic oven that resembles a kitchen range with four burners on top and a front-loading oven. “Easy Bake” is printed on the front of the oven. Model number 65805 and “Hasbro” are stamped into the plastic on the back of the oven. The Easy Bake Oven is an electric toy.
Ovens sold before May 2006 are not included in this recall. The ovens in question were sold at Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart, Target, KB Toys and other retailers nationwide from May 2006 through February 2007 for about $25.
Consumers should contact Easy-Bake between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to receive a free retrofit kit with consumer warning. Caregivers should keep the Easy Bake Oven away from children under eight years of age. For additional information, contact Easy-Bake at 800-601-8418, or visit

RECALL: Fisher Price Bunny Toy

Fisher-Price is recalling about 500,000 "Laugh and Learn" bunny toys sold in the United States due to a choking hazard. The bunny's pink pompom nose can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. The recall involves the Laugh and Learn Learning Bunny that measures about 10-inches tall. The yellow bunny with one green and one orange ear has musical and counting sound effects. The words, "Laugh and Learn" are printed on the bunny's shirt.
Product numbers involved in the recall are: K0468, K2960, K2961, K2962, K2963, K2964, K2965, K3440, K6898, K7884, L0327, and K5862. The product numbers are located on the fabric tag sewn to the body of the bunny. Only bunnies with three dimensional pompom noses are included in this recall. Bunnies with flat or embroidered noses are not subject to this recall.
The bunnies were sold at discount department stores and toy stores nationwide May 2006 through December 2006 for about $15.
Consumers should immediately take these recalled toys away from children and contact Fisher-Price to arrange for the return of the bunny to receive a voucher for a replacement toy of the customer's choice. Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Fisher-Price at 866- 447-5003 anytime, or visit the firm's Web site at The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Skating Party

It was cold, but it was great!
The frigid temperatures surely kept many folks away from our 10th Birthday Party at Boston Common's Frog Pond last night, but those who came had a terrific time.
In addition to beautiful scenery and a fresh sheet of ice, our skaters enjoyed samples from Madhouse Munchies, Cabot cheese, and Tribe All Natural Hummus,
You can check out photos at our photo gallery. The link is on this page under favorite sites.

Our yearlong celebration of Bay State Parent's 10th Birthday benefits Smiling Kids, Inc. and we're very pleased to pass along several new toys and a $210 cash donation from last night's event.
Our thanks to the Boston Park & Rec Dept., our sponsors iParty and Karon Shea Model Management, and Kathleen Reale.
Keep checking here or your print edition of Bay State Parent for details on our next family fun event.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Warm Words Storytelling Festival

Kick off School vacation week by taking in the Fourth Annual Warm Words Storytelling Festival.
When: Feb. 17, 18, & 19
Where: Concord Museum in Concord.
What: Nationally-renowned storyteller Steve Wood returns portraying the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, along with Sharon Wood, who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln. New to the Warm Words Festival is the critically-acclaimed Li Min Mo, who performs stories that celebrate the Chinese New Year and transport the audience to the East. These accomplished storytellers weave their magic in programs for every age group. Concord Museum admission is included with all Warm Words Storytelling Festival reservations. For a complete schedule of storytellers, visit www.
Cost: $15 for an adult/child pair; each additional person is $7.
More info: Call 978-369-9763.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Skate for Charity & Celebrate Our 10th Birthday!

Monday, join Bay State Parent magazine for an ice skating party at Frog Pond on Boston Common from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
The event is in celebration of Bay State Parent's 10th year publishing. To honor this milestone, we have been hosting 10 birthday parties at family-friendly venues across Eastern & Central Massachusetts since May 2006.
The skating party is also a fundraiser for Smiling Kids Inc. The Southborough-based charity provides birthday gifts for needy Massachusetts children, throughout the year. Visit the organization's Web site at to learn more.

Admission to our Monday night party is FREE, if you bring a new & unwrapped toy for the charity. The party is limited to the first 500 skaters. Cash donations also will be accepted. iParty is supplying goodie bags for our party guests.

If you don't own skates, rentals are available on a first come, first serve basis at $5 for children and $7 for adults. Locker may also be rented for $1.

This is a great family event. Don't worry about the time -- it is school vacation week. No school on Tuesday!!!

While a handful of our sponsors are providing free tastings, the Frog Pond snack bar will be open too. Parking, for an additional fee, is available at the Boston Common Garage, located under the Common, with an entrance on Charles Street.
So spend an evening skating under the stars in Boston and help a worthwhile charity, too!

*** BAD WEATHER ADVISORY: The skating rink may be impacted by inclement weather. If it becomes necessary to cancel an event, a decision will be made by 5 p.m. by the city's Parks & Recreation Department. Please call 617-635-2120, if the weather is questionable.
*** Party guests skate at their own risk. All guests will voluntarily agree to assume all risk of injury that may result.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bay State Parent Wins 8 New England Press Association Awards!

Bay State Parent magazine was named one of the best monthly publications in New England last night at the annual New England Press Association Convention at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston.
For the second year in a row, the magazine earned second place for General Excellence in the monthly division.
The American Press Institute judges wrote: "Bay State Parent looks and has lots of content that's of interest to parents. It provides a good forum for the exchange of ideas and the calendar is handy and clear. A good all around effort."
Submitted in this category was the August 2005 and May 2006 issues.
The magazine captured top honors in the Advertising General Excellence category.
The judges wrote: "The newspaper has a very clean, friendly look. Even though the newspaper is a tab, it does not seem cluttered or compact. The colorful, large and cropped photos give the paper a modern and inviting look. Most of the ads are well organized and appealing. Modular ad size organizes the pages well."
Submitted in this category was the March & May 2006 issues.
In all, we won 8 New England Press Association awards, more than any other monthly publication in New England.
The magazine took home 3 first place, 2 second place, and 3 third place awards.
* Freelance writer Stacy Juba's special report on How Safe is Your Child on the School Bus? won first place for General News Story in the monthly division.
The judges wrote: "This exhaustively reported special report explores the important issue of school bus safety and efforts in the Massachusetts Legislature to address the issue. The vast array of facts makes a compelling argument for improvements."
Stacy's report appeared in the August 2005 issue. Read it at this link:
* Bay State Parent magazine swept the local, color advertisement category with three house ads, all conceptualized and designed by Creative Director Paula Monette Ethier, with ad copy by the editor.
The first place ad promoted the magazine's 29 awards won last spring. The judges wrote: "Good use of white space and dominate graphics. Excellent photography and cropping made this ad stand out."
The second place ad announced the magazine's first cover model search contest. The judges wrote: "This ad does a good job of creating a compelling reason for the reader to take action. I liked the arrangement of past magazine covers to illustrate the benefit of participating in the model search. This ad did what well-written ads should."
The third place ad promoted the magazine's camp guides. The judges wrote: "Very good house ad: compelling, dominant graphic, well-written benefit statements and a clear call to action."
* The magazine took third place for Personality Photo for its November 2005 cover. The photographer was Portrait Simple studios. The judges wrote: "Too often, overly controlled situations - perfect lighting, posing and props - produce slick commercial images. But in this case, the personality of the subject breaks through the staging and connects with the camera." Take a peek at the award-winning photograph at this link:
* Ad designer Stephanie Renaud took third place honors for a full-page, local black & white ad she designed for a Central Massachusetts gymnastics academy. The judges wrote: "Great ad for cheer and dance tryouts! The photography shows this activity to be fun, challenging, and rewarding. The layout uses white space well (no overuse of type or photos), the reverse stars for the offerings and then the non-reverse stars for the business name. This helps overall readership. Nice job!"
Finally, our sister publication The Landmark newspaper won two NEPA awards. Reporter Alicia Bessette took third place for a spot news story on an animal barn fire and Jim Keogh won second place for human interest article about a teenage suicide.
This year's NEPA Contest featured more than 6,000 entries submitted by daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers published between July 2005 and July 2006.
The New England Press Association has more than 525 member newspapers with a total circulation of 5.9 million and 9.8 million readers in the six-state region. The annual convention in Boston draws more than 1,000 newspaper professionals.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Village connections

As the mother of a 3-year-old active boy, I feel like things have moved pretty fast since I became a parent. It feels like just yesterday that Thomas was a little baby and now he’s growing leaps and bounds every day. Sometimes I think about how my life has changed and how I’ve gotten through those changes during the last three years, and I think it comes down to the connections I’ve made and kept through this journey of parenting.

As parents we work so hard to make a connection that will last with our child, but the connections we make to the outside world through friends, family and even strangers help keep us sane in our journey through helping shape our child’s life.

We went to the emergency room for the first time this week. Thomas has never had to go before, so we’ve been lucky, but I was surprised at how emotionally unprepared I was for the visit. He has had a chronic cough for months, but has otherwise been healthy. Finally, his pediatrician decided a chest x-ray was necessary to rule out any serious problems, and thank goodness the doctor at the emergency room found nothing wrong.

As I was walking out the door to bring my son to the emergency room, one of my oldest friends called me – we’ve known each other since college and she has been a great friend throughout the years. I hesitated to pick up the phone because I was so emotional, but then I remembered that she has been to lots of doctors and even ER trips with her two boys, so I knew she’d get me through the next few minutes.

She helped calm me down, and I valued her kind words and advice, even though she wouldn’t go to the ER in my place with my son and husband. Though we met in college, we’ve grown closer through the years because now as mothers we have an amazing understanding of each other and who we are. That is an old connection that through the years I’ve valued and have been glad many more times than I can count that she is there for me.

But through the years, I have made other connections that have been more fleeting and less meaningful, but surprisingly helpful to me. When I stand behind another mother at the grocery store in line, I usually strike up a conversation about their child’s behavior (either good or bad), not because I enjoy commenting on other parents, but because I like to feel connected to any mother or parent.

It makes me laugh if I see another child beg their mother for candy or a balloon or whatever prize is in their eye because I know my son has done that countless other times. And it makes me feel good to say something encouraging or jokingly to another mother to help her get through the day. It makes me laugh even harder when a child sits quietly while passing the eye-catching candy or treats in the store. I usually say that I wish my son was that good (though he usually is), though it makes me feel good to compliment another mother’s parenting.

I do remember trips to the supermarket with Thomas when he was under a year old and would scream his head off two seconds before we were ready to leave and I had no idea what to do. I usually made a comment like, “I know honey, don’t be mad that the prices are too high – it’s not your fault.” But it was that special person in the store who would make a nice comment about remembering those days with their child, or saying something like “don’t worry – you’ll get through it,” that helped encourage me.

Even the other day, while I was standing in the locker room at the YMCA with another mother, I realized that everyone tries to make connections – either locally or globally. She told me about this woman she knew in Indiana who was due in May (the same month as her), but had just had her baby prematurely. The woman was struggling through a heartbreaking experience of not knowing if her child, now about 1 pound, 3 ounces, would make it through the day, week or month, but was sharing daily updates on a message board that my friend visits.

When she was telling me the story, I thought my friend knew the mother personally, but then I realized it was a woman she has never met and probably would never meet in her life. Though I have not found comfort in the online message boards and have only lurked here and there, my friend has really made some great connections with people all over the world.

Begrudgingly, I have to admit that Hillary Clinton was right – it does take a village to raise a child, but maybe it’s more complicated than that. Maybe everyone’s village is different and while mine is made up of local people or people I know personally, others can make and find connections in a global village online.

Through this journey of motherhood, I feel like instead of focusing on the differences of how we raise our children and being critical, it is important for me to remember that though others may try different avenues, we all have the same goal - getting through each day with our children and hopefully making each day better.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Weekend Picks

Saturday: Looking for outdoor activities for the family? Pearl Hill State Park in West Townsend is hosting a winter carnival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event boasts nature walks, cross-country skiing, snowshoe treks, winter survival and ice fishing demonstrations, children's games and more. Children can meet Smokey Bear and enjoy stories around the campfire with goodies. For more information or directions call 978-597-3553 or e-mail

Sunday: Do you have a child who yearns to be a paleontologist? Take in a performance at the Puppet Showcase Theatre in Brookline today at 1 or 3 p.m. In this puppet production, children find out what life was like millions of years ago as a dinosaur scientist. The show's hero is O.C. Marsh, who is searching for Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus, and other dinosaurs. Recommended for children ages 4 to 8, tickets are $9.50 each.
While tickets are sold at the door, the show's theatre is small and typically holds about 100 people, so reservations are strongly recommended. For more information visit For reservations, call 617-731-6400; they are not available via Internet.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Should the State Mandate Another Vaccine?

That's the battle about to take place at the State House sometime this spring. State Senator Richard T. Moore, a Democrat from Uxbridge, has filed legislation, that if passed into law, would require all Massachusetts sixth grade girls to be vaccinated for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually-transmitted virus that is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 11,000 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed this year. Annually, close to 4,000 women die from cervival cancer. Last year, drug company Merck received FDA approval for Gardasil, the first anti-cancer vaccine in the United States. Gardasil claims to prevent cervival cancer by targeting two of the major strains of HPV. The controversy is that for the vaccine to be effective it must be administered to girls before they become sexually-active, thus the state proposal for sixth graders to be vaccinated.
Earlier this month, the governor of Texas signed into law a bill that would require girls in his state to be vaccinated. At least a half dozen other states are considering similiar laws, so the Bay State is not alone in pondering this health issue.
While the proposed legislation wouldl allow parents to opt their daughter out of the vaccine for religious reasons, some of the opponents to the legislation feel girls, ages 9-13, are just too young to have a conversation regarding sex and sexually-transmitted diseases.
In the January issue of Bay State Parent, local doctor Karen Sadler, outlined the pros and cons of this new vaccine for parents. You can read her analysis at:
In the December 2006 issue of Bay State Parent, Worcester-based doctor Mark Vining summarized all the new pre-teen vaccines now available, including this one. Read his report at:

Please read both our reports carefully, ponder how it would affect your daughter, call your pediatrician if you have more questions, & then let your state representative & senator know your thoughts.
Parents, not government, should have the final say on this vaccine.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Big Game is Tonight!

This is not a mistake. The big game really is tonight! (In fact, the first two Mondays every February.) Forget the Superbowl, tonight is the opening round in the 55th Annual Beanpot.
My alma mater takes on Harvard in the nightcap at 8 p.m. In the opening game, Northeastern hopefully will beat Boston University. (If you are a Boston College grad, you just can't root on B.U. It would be like a Red Sox Fan cheering on the Yankees.)
My daughter Bella is taking skating lessons this year. I was thrilled when she told me she wanted hockey skates. In fact, the first thing she said after trying on the skates was, "Where's my stick?"
Well, first things first, she needed to learn to get up and down without a toe pick and stand for at least 10 seconds without falling - which she learned to do on Saturday. Now, we are onto actually skating around the rink without falling.
Okay, it's far too early --- but I'm hopeful for a hockey scholarship - anywhere but Boston University. Womens athletics have come a long way since the 1970s, girls hockey included.
The latest numbers nationally show that close to 50,000 girls nationwide now play hockey and the most remarkable growth in girls hockey can be found with the 10-and-under level, which has added nearly 3,000 players since 2000.
Today in Massachusetts, more than 6,700 girls (age 18 and under) play hockey, including more than 1,330 girls age 6 and under. That makes the Bay State one of the top two states for girls hockey.
Thirty-five years ago when I was Bella's age, few girls played hockey.
Today, the numbers show a different story.
Yesterday, while watching the Super Bowl, Bella asked, "Do girls play football?"
I said, "They could, if they wanted to; but not in this game or at this level right now." Perhaps 35 years from now, they will.
By the way if you are interested, the women's Beanpot tournament begins tomorrow night at Conte Form in Chestnut Hill.
#9 ranked Boston College (who are ranked higher nationally than their male counterparts this year) take on Harvard University at 8 p.m.

Sunday Afternoon at the Ballet

Yesterday, we attended a performance of Peter and the Wolf presented by The Youth Ballet of Worcester.
The show was a great opportunity to introduce theatrical ballet to a child. The performance was short - about 30 minutes - and was easy for a child to follow. Each character of the Russian folk tale was portrayed by a young, local dancer and by a musical instrument. The choreography, which included dancing on the stage and through the aisles, entertained the audience, especially the little ones.
"I loved it," said my daughter, 5. "The wolf wasn't scary. He was the french horn, my favorite instrument. I liked all of it. The duck was funny and the bird's costume was beautiful."
The Youth Ballet of Worcester Company is the resident youth company of Ballet Arts Worcester and is comprised of students between the ages of 12-19. Performers in yesterday's show, presented by Music Worcester Inc., included: Marissa Martin, Rebecca Leach, Lara Underkoffler, Christine Hickman, Andrew Vayo-Keefe, Anika Blodgett, Meghan Foley, Emily Glick, Shela Murphy, and Pavla Ovtchinnikova.
If you are trying to decide if your child is mature enough to attend a professional performance of The Nutcracker or Swan Lake, consider a show by The Youth Ballet of Worcester Company. You and your child won't be disappointed. Check out the company and its upcoming performance schedule at

Friday, February 2, 2007

Weekend Picks

Looking for something fun to do with the family this weekend?
Saturday: Take in a performance by musician Maria Sangiolo at the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 3)

Maria has been enchanting audiences with her warm stage presence and pure voice for more than 15 years. Her concerts for young children include "great participation, creative energy and a voice we wish we all had," says Carolyn Otto, teacher. Her song choices invite participation as she engages her young audiences with voice, sound, and movement - children chime in or sing along, play simple percussion instruments, and move in all kinds of ways.
The center is located at 55 Nicholas Road in Framingham.

Sunday: Enjoy the ballet with your child. Ballet Arts Worcester is presenting Peter and the Wolf at 3 p.m. at Worcester Vocational High.

Sergei Prokofiev created a symphonic fairy tale to introduce young people to the musical instruments of the orchestra. Through its staging of this charming Russian folk tale, the Ballet Arts Worcester company brings life to the exuberant Peter and the animal friends who help him triumph over the danger in his own backyard.
Tickets are $10 for children and $15 for adults and are available by calling 508-754-3231.
The high school is located at 1 Skyline Drive in Worcester.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Picture Perfect Capture

Congrats to Katie Heffernan!

This photograph of her son's first day of kindergarten earned the Grafton resident the grand prize in our 4th Annual Amateur Photo Contest.

She won a 4-day, 3-night vacation for four at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts.

To see the other prize winners this year, click on this link:

Thanks to everyone who entered!!!

We'll announce rules for our fifth contest this fall.