Saturday, March 31, 2007

Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston: Great for Kids!

This morning, my family went to the brand-new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (ICA) for its Family Play Date. Play Dates are offered the last Saturday of every month for families. Best of all, the performances, activities, and tours are FREE!
We knew my 6-year-old daughter, Margot, would love exploring the unique artworks but wondered how our 3-year-old twin girls would do.
We were so surprised how family-friendly and fun ICA was for our whole family. It is in a gorgeous spot overlooking Boston Harbor and offers a wonderful, bright space for kids to be in awe.
You can read more about my family's experience at ICA in the Day Trip Destination feature inside the May issue of Bay State Parent.
In the meantime, if you would like to visit ICA's next Play Date, mark your calendars for Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. - noon. This Play Date introduces children to drawing from live models, a tour of the Museum, and a special performance using dance and video by choreographer Cathy Weis.
There are also special children's offerings planned for April school vacation.
Visit for more information.

Photo by: Peter Vanderwarker

CONTEST WINNERS: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Game

Congrats to the winners of our December magazine contest.
Each will receive a copy of Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam Game:
* Joshua Arons of Newton Hills
* Joseph & Emilie Dick of Spencer
* Delaney Lawson of Framingham
* Aidan McGirr of Holden
* David Russo of Worcester

Friday, March 30, 2007


March comes in like a Lion and goes out like a Lamb... while the weather is nice, why not spend a day learning about sheep with your child(ren). Two options tomorrow are Woolapalooza at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln OR the Sheep Shearing Open House at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton.

Where: Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: Tickets & preregistration required. $12, non-member adults & $10 non-member children. Children under age 3 are free.
What: It's a day to to celebrate sheep! Come for the fiber, food, lambs, activities, and the sheep who make them possible. Visit the sheep-to-sweater interpretive trail, including traditional hand shearing, washing, carding, spinning, and dyeing. Border collies will be demonstrating their uncanny herding sensibilities. Event is rain or shine.
Your ticket price provides critical support for our education and conservation programs.
Registration: Call Drumlin Farm and register by phone with a credit card at 781-259-2200.

Where: Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton from noon to 4 p.m.
Cost: $10 for non-member adults
What: Sheep grazing led to the development of the many meadow habitats of the sanctuary. Meet Rubus, Hope, and Taggley and learn how sheep are sheared, how wool is made into warm sweaters, and how the team of munchers is being used experimentally to manage open meadows as wildlife See wool demonstrations including spinning, weaving, felting, and knitting.
Info: Call 978-464-2712.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NEW Massachusetts Teen Driving Laws Go Into Effect Saturday - March 31

For Shrewsbury High freshman Kate Dupuis, 15 1/2, her sweet 16 birthday will bring with it the excitement of knowing she's now eligible to apply for her learner driver's permit.
That's good news to people like Westborough High freshman Brianna Gross, who last fall emailed Massachusetts legislators expressing her disapproval of a plan to raise the state's legal driving age from 16-1/2 to 17-1/2.
But, although Kate will not have to wait any longer to get her license, it will take her longer to get it, thanks to a bill signed into law by outgoing governor Mitt Romney, the day before he left office.
Under the new law teens will need to spend 40 hours driving with a parent or guardian (30 hours if an advanced driver's education course is completed), a significant jump from the 12 hours currently required, and six extra hours behind the wheel with a qualified instructor. Those provisions take effect Sept. 1, nine days before Kate's 16th birthday.
"It's a lot more," she said, "but I kind of like it better. I notice even when I'm out with my mother, a lot of people do stupid things."
Parental Responsibility
Parents also will have to spend two hours in driver's ed. with their teens; a requirement Kate's mom Kelly Dupuis thinks will be "a pain in the neck," but also a good refresher course for adults who might have acquired bad habits throughout years of driving.
A separate provision, effective March 31, greatly increases penalties for teens, who speed, drag race, drive with passengers other than a parent or guardian during the first six months, or violate the rule against driving after midnight.
Violators of these rules, who have junior operator licenses or learner permits, will face longer suspensions - up to one year in several cases - and they (or their parents) will have to pay higher fines.

Bay State Parent freelance writer Jane Mackay's report on the new teen driver law can be read completely inside the March issue or can be viewed online at

RECALL: Balls with Lead Paint

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Regent Products Corporation of Illinois today announced a voluntary recall of more than 7,000 Stuffed Fun Falls. The stuffed balls contain lead paint, which is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects. There were no reported incidents or injuries prior to the recall. The Fun Ball is an orange stuffed ball toy, measuring 4 inches in diameter and designed to look like a basketball. The ball is printed with colored numbers, letters and “Reg. #PA-10623(HK).” They were sold at dollar stores and other discount stores nationwide from June 2006 through March, 2007 for $1. Consumers should take these balls away from young children immediately and return the toy to the store where purchased for a refund. For additional information, contact Regent Products at 800-940-4869 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit or e-mail the firm at

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

SPECIAL REPORT: Ending the Food Fight & Tackling Childhood Obesity

In April, Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Children's Hospital in Boston, hopes to get his warning about childhood obesity to a greater audience with the publication of his first book, Ending The Food Fight: Guide Your Child To a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World.
The book, co-written with Suzanne Rostler, is a guide for parents that provides an easy-to-read explanation of why so many children are overweight. The book offers strategies to help families develop healthy lifestyles and includes a detailed 9-week plan for families to follow. Also, it discusses strategies and coping techniques and even offers a number of recipes for healthy snacks and meals.
In a recent interview with Bay State Parent magazine contributing writer Rosemary Cafasso, Dr. Ludwig discussed his new book and shared his thoughts on the childhood obesity crisis.
"We take 2 steps forward and 1.9 steps back. Progress is slow,'' said Dr. Ludwig. "Obesity rates don't need to go up. We could level off and we would still be set for an unprecedented disaster. If the rates stay the same, we are looking at heart attack, stroke and kidney disease becoming conditions of young adulthood.''
Dr. Ludwig has been focused on childhood obesity since the early 1990s. He was named one of our nation's "Obesity Warriors'' in a 2004 Time magazine special report that focused on America's obesity crisis. He is outspoken in calling attention to this epidemic. When asked how families can get healthy when they are often so busy, Dr. Ludwig said, "It can be inconvenient until people realize how much better they feel - and guess what? Type 2 diabetes is a lot more inconvenient."
An endocrinologist and associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, he co-founded the Clinic in 1995. The clinic has treated more than 3,500 families.
Based on his years of research and patient treatment, Dr. Ludwig has determined certain factors must be in place for overweight children to lose weight and get healthy.
To read specific ways your family can make positive changes, pick up a copy of the March issue or read more of Rosemary's interview online at:

* Rosemary's interview with Dr. David Ludwig, is just one part of the magazine's Special Report: Tackling the Childhood Obesity Problem inside the March issue.
To read more of the Special Report check out the following links:
* Interview with Arthur-famed author & illustrator Marc Brown on his new project The Gulps --

RECALL: Radio-Controlled Airplanes

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced a voluntary recall of Radio Control Model Airplanes (Models 4153 and 4161) with Lithium Polymer Batteries. More than 65,000 of the planes manufactured by Estes-Cox Corp., of Colorado were sold. The airplanes can overheat while recharging the battery, posing a fire hazard. Estes-Cox received nine reports of overheating, including one report of a plane catching fire and resulting in a minor burn injury. This recall involves Sky Squadron Model 4153 (sold atRadioShack) and Sky Rangers Model 4161 (sold at Wal-Mart) radiocontrolled airplanes with rechargeable lithium batteries. The airplaneshave a wingspan of about 18- to 20-inches and a polystyrene foamfuselage. Model 4153 is a blue Corsair single engine airplane with aNumber 15 decal and a black and blue transmitter/charger. Model 4161 isa red twin engine plane with an all-black transmitter/charger. The model numbers are on the box and instructions.

RadioShack stores nationwide sold the Sky Squadron Airplane from December 2006 through February 2007 for about $35. Wal-Mart stores nationwide sold the Sky Ranger Airplane from January through February 2007 for about $30.
Consumers with the recalled airplanes should stop using them immediately and contact Estes-Cox for instructions on returning the airplane for a replacement product. For additional information, contact Estes-Cox at 800-576-5811 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (mountain time) Monday through Friday, or visit

RECALL: Baby Trend Back Pack Carrier

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation Baby Trend Inc. of California, today agreed to voluntary recall of the Baby Trend Back Pack Carriers. About 4,000 units were sold. The stitching on the strap of the carrier can loosen or detach, causing the carrier to shift, posing a fall hazard to young children. Baby Trend received a single report of a child who bruised their forehead after falling out of the carrier. Baby Trend also received 17 reports of shoulder straps loosening from the body of the carrier.
Only carriers withstyle number 2512 and 2592LX are included in the recall. Style numbers are printed on the metal frame of the product. The carrier has a 5-pointsafety harness, padded shoulder and hip straps, padded leg openings andheat support. The carrier also has a top canopy and large diaper bag which attaches to the frame. "Baby Trend" is printed on the back of the seat of the carrier. The backpack folds into its own diaper bag for storage and travel.
These carriers were sold nationwide at discount department and juvenile products stores between March 2002 and November 2006 for about $50.
Consumers should contact Baby Trend for return instructions and a free replacement carrier. For additional information, call Baby Trend at 800-328-7363 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Pacific time) Monday through Friday or visit the firm's Web site at

Monday, March 26, 2007

Overlook Farm in Rutland: Worth a Trip!

Last Tuesday, I was itching to do something different with my 3-year-old twins and 6-year-old kindergartener when I received an e-mail from a friend that Heifer International's Overlook Farm in Rutland was having an open house. An afternoon on a farm full of baby animals? Homemade cookies and milk? It's free? How could we resist!
Our Heifer volunteer, Anna, introduced us to the resident animals which include sheep, cows, dogs, chickens, llamas, a camel, goats, and a donkey. We learned interesting details such as why animals chew their cud and why sheep tails get "docked." We saw the site of the barn that was tragically destroyed by a fire last year and felt sorry for the animals who could not be saved. We hoped the animals would get a new barn soon. Our hearts also went out to a baby pig we named "Wilbur." Sadly, he was struggling since being abandoned at the Farm. We looked for Charlotte.
We warmed up in the gift shop full of unique items from around the world as we enjoyed our homemade cookies and milk.
Then, we were treated to a surprise. There was a book signing for the New York Times bestselling children's book, Beatrice's Goat. And guess who was signing the book? Beatrice herself!
That's when the connections started happening for my 6-year-old. She listened to Beatrice, who is now a young woman in college, talk about her childhood full of poverty in Uganda. Her family was only able to send her to school and build a new house after they received a goat from Heifer International.
My daughter realized that the little goats she had petted were actually going to be sent to needy families across the globe. The goats, and other animals, would save families from hunger and poverty by providing milk, labor, offspring, and more.
We went home and read Beatrice's Goat (it's wonderful) and went online to to see how we could help. We were surprised that buying a goat for a deserving family would cost us only $120. We thought we could save our change.
It was such an uplifting, educational, and fun outing! When it's warmer, we will return to visit the animals and to explore the Global Village which shows what actual homes look like around the world.
On a nice day, pack a picnic and take a drive to the farm, but before you go, be sure to read Beatrice's Goat.
Overlook is FREE to the public and open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors to take self-guided tours, watch a video, visit the gift shop, picnic, etc. They recommend you call ahead or stop by the office first. For more information, visit (Click "Learning Centers" under "Learn") or call 508-886-2221.
An International Fair ideal for families is planned for June 23 & 24.

MCAS Test Prep & Sample Questions

Bay State Parent contributing writer Amy Benoit, who also is a teacher within the Worcester Public School system, put together an article in this month's March issue full of ways to help you child succeed with this spring's MCAS testing.
Right now, students in grades 3 through 10 are experiencing MCAS testing. MCAS stands for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Program. The program measures student achievement in specific subjects, and high school students must pass the tests to receive a diploma.
Students will complete a battery of open-ended, multiple choice, and short answer questions. In addition, grade four students will complete a two-part writing session.

* For specific test prep help & test-taking tips, pick up a copy of the March issue of Bay State Parent or read Amy's online report at:

* For sample tests from the Massachusetts Department of Education, visit

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bay State Parent Magazine's Cover Model Search Winner!

Congratulations to Fitchburg's Lyanny Pinales, who is the winner of Bay State Parent magazine's inaugural Cover Model Search. She graces the cover of our April issue, which went to the printers today.
Finalists for the magazine’s 2006 Cover Model Search showed off their smiles and personality at a photo shoot in late February, featuring stylish, spring clothing provided by Talbots Kids, headquartered in Hingham. ( -- a special shout out to the Natick store for styling the finalists.)
In our first cover model search, the magazine's judges selected two finalists in each of five, age categories (6-23 months, 24-47 months, 4-7 years, 8-10 years, and 11-13 years). Those finalists were announced in the January 2007 issue. (
After the February fashion shoot, the judges narrowed the 10 finalists to three individuals, who could possibly be the face of our April cover. Those three were (alphabetically): Jackie Cremin, Lyanny Pinales, and Micaiah Williamson.
Congrats to all 10 finalists!
Look for rules and entry forms for our 2nd Annual Cover Model Search to be announced soon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Weekend Picks: Animals or Flowers on Saturday

SATURDAY, consider...
Visiting: The Children's Discovery Museum in Acton
When: 10 a.m.
Animal magnetism: Turn your child into a growling tiger, a roaring lion, or a trumpeting elephant with safari face painting.
Cost: $8 per person
Visiting: New England Spring Flower Show at the Bayside Expo Center, 200 Mount Vernon St. in Boston.
Smell the flowers: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cost: $20 adults, $12 grandparents, and children age 4-12 $10

Making Time For The New Mom

For some new moms, getting out to socialize, for downtime or to reestablish pre-baby hobbies or interests gets put on the backburner after baby arrives and takes precedent.
The effects of that could be detrimental. Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine, professor of teacher education and family studies at Becker College in Leicester/Worcester, said a new mom must be willing to care for herself and maintain her identity as a woman, and if she's feeling overtired, depressed, or isolated, she cannot feel overjoyed about being with the baby 24- hours a day, seven days a week.
"Many women/mothers tend to put others' needs before their own and, as a result, become stressed and sometimes even resentful," she said. "Babies need moms who are not tired all the time or wishing they could have some free time."
There needs to be a healthy balance between baby play dates and what moms want to do, she advised.
Bay State Parent magazine contributing writer Robin Burke delves into this issue and offers new moms ways to find time for themselves in the magazine's Mom's Play Date department inside the March issue.
Pick up a copy of the issue, which contains our 7th Annual Pregnancy & Baby Guide, or read Robin's report online at:

*And check out the magazine's tips for finding adult-only play dates:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Go Diego Go Live! at the Opera House This Weekend!

Go, Diego, Go Live! The Great Jaguar Rescue roared into The Opera House in Boston tonight. I saw the show with my daughter, 5. She and the more than 1,000 children were throughly entertained for the 90-minute show. The new, live-action stage show follows Diego, his sister Alicia, and famed-cousin Dora on an action-packed, mission to get Baby Jaguar’s growl back from the Bobo Brothers, a pair of mischievous spider monkeys. During the two-act show, Diego, Alicia, Dora, & Baby Jaguar enlist the audience's help to rescue animals, navigate through the rainforest, and pass a giant waterfall to get to the Animal Carnivale.
"My favorite part of the show was the animals in the rainforest," said my daughter Bella. "And, I liked when I got to jump over the coconuts with the dancing coconut trees."
While the show features familiar tunes and characters from the Go Diego Go, a Nick Jr. television show, I was not as impressed with this show as with Dora the Explorer Live!, which sold close to three million tickets during its domestic run and wrapped up its third touring season.
But my opinion probably doesn't matter. You would be hard pressed not to find a child in the audience under age 8 (which also happens to be how old Diego is) who was not singing, laughing, dancing, and having a fabulous time. Diego & Alicia encourage little ones to stand up and to dance & sing along with them. All children received free Jaguar masks, which they used throughout the show to help Diego and his anaimal pals. The show features live performers and puppets. Toddlers may find the pyramid scene slightly scary, as the theatre does go black.
There are still some tickets available for the rest of the show's run in Boston. Show schedule is Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 & 5 p.m.
Tickets ($21-$53.50) for Go, Diego, Go Live! The Great Jaguar Rescue are available by visiting and directly at The Opera House Box Office, 539 Washington Street in Boston.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Children's Entertainer Arrested by FBI

Yesterday, the FBI arrested a Charlton man charging him with possession of child pornography.
The man is a popular entertainer in the Greater Worcester area and a party-page advertiser with this magazine.
For more details: read the Worcester Telegram & Gazette's --
As a service to our readers, Bay State Parent magazine has pulled the online ad for Toby The Balloon Guy and also pulled March calendar listings online at for all events featuring Toby at Worcester-area book and furniture stores.
Earlier today, Rotman's Furniture called to say they are cancelling its Family Fun Day in April, as the man accused was scheduled to appear.
The April issue of Bay State Parent heads to the printers Friday, but today we pulled a dozen calendar listings from that issue, featuring Toby and his business Kids Time to Go, as the lead entertainment at events in Worcester, Shrewbury, & Marlboro.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Meet Patriots Legend Steve Grogan & Help Families Affected by Cerebral Palsy & Cystic Fibrosis

This Saturday, you can meet Patriots legend Steve Grogan at a charity event from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at The Skybox Restaurant in Tewksbury on Route 38. KBK Sports is hosting a Fans Press Conference with New England Patriots Legend Steve Grogan. Tickets are $15, with $5 of every ticket going to C2 Mission ( The ticket price includes an 8x10 colored glossy photo, autograph opportunity, photo opportunity, and a chance to participate in a special Q&A with Steve Grogan. Tickets are limited to 200.
A true warrior and a fan favorite, Grogan played 16 seasons (1975-90) with the New England Patriots setting numerous passing records, passing yardage (26, 886 yards), completions (1,879) and touchdown passes (182).
C2 Mission is a Foundation benefitting children and families affected by Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis. Run and operated by Jon & Lauren Goode, C2 Mission was started because Alison Thomas (niece of Jon & Lauren Goode) suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and Jon overcame Cerebral Palsy. A native of Natick, Jon is the Director of Corporate Communications for the Lowell Spinners, Class A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
If you can not attend Saturday's event but still want to help C2 Mission, autographed 8x10 photos of Grogan ($15) or an autographed NE Patriots mini-helmet (old logo) ($25) can be ordered. (Add $5 for shipping, if you cannot pick up the item in person in Lowell)
For information or to order tickets please call Jon at 978-805-5106 or e-mail him at

Friday, March 16, 2007

10th Birthday Party at EcoTarium CANCELLED

Bay State Parent's 10th birthday celebration at the EcoTarium has been CANCELLED due to the snow storm.
We are looking to reschedule the event and the special discounted rate for a day in May.
Check back here and in our magazine for details.
Thanks for your understanding.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

RECALL: Children's Necklaces Sold Exclusively at Claire's Stores

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the Claire's Boutiques, Inc., today announced a voluntary recall of about 58,000 children's necklaces. The recalled necklaces contain high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects. There has been no report of incidents or injuries.
The recalled children’s necklaces have metal pendants shaped as monkeys, dolphins, and frogs holding colored marbles, a fleur de lis painted in various colors, a silver and black fairy, silver-colored letters “BFF” with rhinestones, and tiny handcuffs painted in various colors. The pendants hang from silver-colored chains. “Claire’s” or “Claire’s best friends forever” is printed on the packaging. The necklaces were sold exclusively at Claire’s between Dec. 2005 and Dec. 2006 for $5 and $11.
Parents should immediately take this recalled jewelry away from children. Consumers should return the recalled jewelry to any Claire’s store for a full refund or a free replacement product.
For additional information, call Claire’s Boutiques Inc. toll-free at 866- 859-9281 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

You're Invited to OUR 10th Birthday Party - Saturday, March 17

You’re invited to Bay State Parent magazine's 10th Birthday Party. Like any 10-year-old, we're thrilled to be turning double-digits. To celebrate, we've hosted a party every month at local family attractions. This Saturday, March 17, we hope you'll join us at the EcoTarium on Harrington Way in Worcester where your family can check out their new planetarium and the Attack of the Bloodsuckers! exhibit from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please bring a new and unwrapped toy to be donated to Smiling Kids, Inc. ( to receive a special buy one admission get one free admission. Regular admission to the EcoTarium is $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 3 to 18, and free for children under 3. For more information, visit

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Baby Faire Winners!

Thanks to everone, who stopped by the Bay State Parent magazine booth at the American Baby Faire in Boston this past weekend. The winners of our raffle are:
1) Chicco's 0.6 Comfort Travel Stroller - Carol Contilli of Gloucester.
2) Chicco's Jungle Activity Mat - Jessica Silvia of East Falmouth.
3) Primo's EuroBath filled with a rubber duckie and bath essentials - Deanna Greenstein of Quincy.
We raffled off three of my seven picks for best new products for mom and baby. To read the article, visit
Congrats to the winners!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Skating with Olympian Sasha Cohen

Olympic figure skater & 2006 U.S. National Champion Sasha Cohen observed local figure skaters associated with Bay State Blades' programs throughout Massachusetts at a special event at the Simoni Arena in Cambridge this afternoon.
The petite, Olympic silver medalist also was in Massachusetts to promote the Champions on Ice show, of which she is one of the stars. The show is coming to the TD BankNorth Garden Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. (See ticket information below.)
Bay State Blades, an advertiser with Bay State Parent magazine, by special invitation only selected three skaters per club to be critiqued by Cohen ala American Idol. The 22-year old was more like Paula Abdul than Simon Cowell with her opinions. Each skater performed one or two elements.
Sasha had planned to skate with those invitation-only skaters and another 60 Bay State Blades program skaters in a public skate after the critiques; but due to an airline mishap, Sasha was without her figure skates.
The Bruins, in particular Dennis Wideman, lent her a pair of hockey skates and a Bruins shirt to skate a few spins around the rink. Wideman even doned figure skates and did a few twirls & spins for the crowd.
Afterwards, Sasha posed for a few photographs and signed autographs, including a few pairs of skates, for the hopeful Olympians.
Bay State Blades runs more than 20 skating programs throughout the Commonwealth. Girls and boys, as young as age 3, can join the organization's skating clubs in Natick, Gardner, Greenfield, Everett, Marlboro, Taunton, etc. For more information visit
Please visit Bay State Parent magazine's photo gallery (link on the rightside of this page) for more photos from today's event.
Sasha is one of a dozen of skating's biggest stars performing in the 29th Champions on Ice coming to Boston on April 22. Others include Reigning World Champion* Kimmie Meissner, Three-time U.S. Champion Johnny Weir, Two-time World Bronze Medalist Evan Lysacek, Olympic gold medalists Shizuka Arakawa and Evgeni Plushenko, Two-time Olympic medalist Irina Slutskaya, Olympic and World medalists Viktor Petrenko, Rudy Galindo, and Surya Bonaly, and the fan favorite specialty acts performed by Irina Gregorian. Tickets ($27.50, $52.50, $77.50, $97.50, & $152.50) are still available by visiting the TD Banknorth Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 617-931-2000.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Webkinz Obsession

Today is a day I knew would come - but longed never would arrive. My daughter is now obsessed with a toy. Sure, she loved Little People and wanted to collect everyone while in preschool. And, yes we have gone through a Disney Princess and Barbie phase. But, yesterday she received her first Webkinz. (
If you don't know what a Webkinz is -- you must not have a child in elementary school. (For those with older children -- think Beanie Baby Version 2.0). Webkinz look like the Beanie Babies children craved in the 1990s and are just as hard to find. The big difference between Beanie Babies and Webkinz is that the later have their own virtual world. Manufactured by a Canadian toy company, each animal (dog, cat, tiger, frog, unicorn, etc) comes with a secret code that once activated introduces the child into Webkinz World.
Your child, once she owns a Webkinz, will want your computer; hence my problem.
(I had given my daughter my old computer, with no Internet access, to play educational games like JumpStart Animal Adventures. Now, she wants (and needs) my computer to play Webkinz.)
Once a child enters the secret code - she can name her pet, furnish its room, connect with other friends who own Webkinz online, play arcade games, and lots more.
Bella is obsessed with her new pug dog- she named shark. The pug needed a bed; so she selected a hockey-themed one (See previous post on ballet & hockey pasttimes.). She has played arcade games, searched for hidden jewels, answered trivia questions (okay, there is some educational value here), and now wants to e-mail her other WebKinz buddies - her cousins Jillian & Allie. Soon, she'll add her school friends, dance pals, and Daisy scout friends, who have a Webkinz, to her online "World."
I have limited Bella's time in Webkinz World to 30 minutes a day; but fear I'll soon hear those famous words -- "xxxxxx lets her daughter play for 60 minutes." Or "xxxxxx gets to play when she gets home from school until dinnertime."
Already, she has begun compiling a list of which Webkinz she needs to get. AGHHH!
I guess this is better than the next phases to come - cell phones, makeup, boys, dating, etc...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

American Baby Faire in Boston - Day 1

Hello to all the future moms & new moms I met today at the American Baby Faire in Boston. Thanks for stopping by our booth. (If you are pregnant, you should mark your calendar to attend the faire at the Bay Side Expo Center tomorrow (March 11) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Stop by the Bay State Parent magazine booth to enter our free raffle featuring three of my seven picks for best new products for mom & baby. We are raffling off a lime green Comfort Travel Stroller from Chicco ($65 value), a jungle-themed play mat for babies ($35 value), or a Primo EuroBath filled with goodies ($35 value.)
Winners will be called next week and announced to all on this blog.
I'd love to hear from those of you who attended the faire -- on your favorite new product discovered or best giveaway you brought home. Drop me an e-mail at

Thursday, March 8, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Mardi Gras Fundraiser

Take a fanciful stroll down Bourbon Street to celebrate Mardi Gras Madness and support two worthy causes - The Children's Museum of Easton and the Brockton Day Nursery.
When: Saturday, March 10, starting at 7 p.m.
Where: The Shaw's Conference Center in Brockton
What: The event features Cajun food stations, music, entertainment, raffles,auctions, beads, dancing and more. Attire is casual and creative, and neither rain, nor snow, nor cold will stop this party.
Cost: Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by contacting the museum.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


If you are pregnant or just had a baby, you will not want to miss attending the American Baby Faire in Boston this weekend at the Bay Side Expo. (Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Stroll and stop at more than 100 exhibitor's booths, inlcuding Bay State Parent magazine's booth. You'll find the newest products for infants and toddlers, as well as lots of free product samples and coupons.
Stop by the Bay State Parent magazine booth to enter our FREE raffle for the chance to win either a lime green Comfort Travel Stroller from Chicco ($65 value), a jungle-themed play mat for babies ($35 value), or a Primo EuroBath filled with goodies.
This educational day for adults also is a fun adventure for little ones, who will be treated to continuous live children's entertainment, a bounce house, a 24- foot Old Woman in the Shoe slide, a super spiral bouncer, and an Action Center filled with toys.
The American Baby Faire is sponsored by Babies "R" Us. Admission is $8 for adults, and free for children under 12 and grandparents. $3 discount admission coupons are available at your local Babies "R" Us. Parking is $12.
I'll be there on Saturday morning. Stop by and say hello!

P.S. Types of exhibitors to expect include:
Baby & Toddler Apparel
Baby Bottle Manufacturers
Beauty and Cosmetics
Birth Announcements & Invitations
Cellular Phone Sales
Drug Stores
Educational Toys and Videos
Financial Services & Insurance
Formula & Food Companies
Furniture & Bedding
Health & Fitness Centers
Home Security Companies
Hospitals & Birthing Centers
Infant & Toddler Books & Toys
Maternity Apparel
Personalized Gifts & Accessories
Scrapbooking & Crafts
Stroller & Car Seat Manufacturers

Top Secret Personal Beeswax: Junie B. Jones Show!

BOSTON - My 5-year-old daughter is obsessed with Junie B Jones. She discovered the chapter books in November and read her first one in just three hours. (She's a bookworm, like her mom is a news junkie.) So when, I heard that there was a traveling theatre company producing a one-hour Junie show, I had to get tickets. It didn't hurt that Bay State Parent magazine also produces a fabulous Field Trip Guide for teachers & PTOs. (Visit for more school field trip ideas.)
So today, at showtime I wasn't sure what to expect ... The 60-minute production is fantastic. (If you can get tickets to the March 19 Worcester show, get them! -- In the show, Junie B. (The B stands for Beatrice, and she doesn't like it, so she goes by B.) is now entering first-grade. She finds that her two "bestest" friends (Lucille & Grace) from kindergarten have new friends. Now, Junie B. needs to make new friends, cope with getting glasses (purple ones), survive a stint as an assistant to the lunchlady, who makes fabulous sugar cookies; and standout during the kick-ball tournament after hurting her toe kicking a watering can.
The 10 a.m. show today at the Berklee Perfomance Center was packed with school children (Tewksbury, Revere, etc). Most of the TheatreworksUSA shows cater to field trips - few families attend as performances are typically during school hours.
That's too bad as this show is wonderfully staged, filled with fun, laughter, and toe-tapping music. (My daughter has been singing Top-Secret Personal Beeswax the rest of the day.) The small cast does a terrific job with multiple roles.
The New York-based TheatreworksUSA did an enjoyable job of bringing Barbara Park's famous bus-riding first grader to life.
This show (and the rest of the company's schedule) is unquestionably family-friendly and VERY cost affordable at just $10 a ticket ($7 for groups 15+).
Most of the theatrical performances are ideal for elementary-aged children, but a couple are great for middle schoolers, including The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and The Color of Justice.
There are shows in Boston at Berklee Performance Center, in Worcester at Mechanics Hall, and in Providence, R.I. at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center. (So almost anywhere in Eastern or Central Massachusetts, there is a show about 30 miles away.) Other productions include Charlotte's Web, Seussical, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and several others.
Again, I just wish TheatreworksUSA offered family-friendly shows in Massachusetts on weeknights and weekends, so that everyone could enjoy the fun!
For now, you can either pull your child out of school, like I did today, or encourage (and help) your child's teacher to plan a field trip.
- Susan

Fisher-Price Fined $975,000 For Little People Animal Sounds Farms

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced this month that Fisher-Price Inc., of N.Y., has agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty. The penalty, which the Commission has provisionally accepted, settles allegations that the company failed to report to the government that a nail fastener in the Little People® Animal Sounds Farm could separate from the toy and pose a serious choking or aspiration hazard to young children.
About 67,000 Little People® Animal Sounds Farms were sold nationwide by Fisher-Price from June & July 2002. In September 2002, the company received its first report of a nail fastener coming loose from one of the toy barn’s stall doors. Over the next two months, Fisher-Price received nine additional reports, including one case of a child placing the nail fastener in her mouth.
By February 2003, Fisher-Price had received two reports of parents concerned that this problem posed a choking hazard to children and a report of a December 30, 2002 incident in which a 14-month old child aspirated a nail fastener into his lung. The child was taken to the hospital and underwent an emergency surgical procedure to have the metal nail fastener removed.
It was not until March 2003 that the company reported the safety hazard with the Little People® Animal Farm to the Commission. By that time, Fisher-Price was aware of at least 33 reports in which the nail fastener came loose from the stall doors. These included four reports of children who put the metal nail fastener in their mouths and the one case of the child who aspirated the nail fastener.
Federal law requires firms to report to CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) after obtaining information reasonably supporting the conclusion that a product contains a defect which could create a substantial risk of injury to the public, presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, or violates a federal safety standard.
In April 2003, CPSC and Fisher-Price announced the recall of the Little People® Animal Sounds Farms and recommended that consumers take the toy away from young children immediately and contact the company to receive a free repair kit. Consumers can still call Fisher-Price at (866) 259-7873 or order the repair kit online at
In agreeing to settle the matter, Fisher-Price Inc. denies CPSC’s allegations that the company knowingly violated the law.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Honored with 20 National Awards!

Bay State Parent magazine won 20 awards at the national Parenting Publications of America (PPA) Conference this past weekend in Nashville, Tenn.
Thus far this year, the magazine has won 28 awards. In fact, Bay State Parent has won 74 awards since changing our name to Bay State Parent from Today's Parent three years ago. We truly are Massachusetts' Premier Magazine for Families.
As always I am thrilled that we were honored by our peers, but what is most important is how loved we are by our readers, who passionately call, e-mail, and write to me often. Thanks so much for your input.
I'm most proud of our first place awards for overall reporting and investigative reporting, since I come from a newspaper background. The judges wrote: "From special reports to annual guides, The Bay State Parent offers superior coverage of its community along with a wide mix of timely articles. It represents the best kind of work a medium-size monthly can offer."
We swept the special section category with gold, silver, and bronze awards (Last year, we took gold and silver in the same category.) We must be doing something right with our guides & special reports!
Our March 2006 & November 2006 covers took first and second place respectively.
We compete in the medium circulation division - 30,001 to 50,000.

Below is a rundown of our 20 awards & what the judges had to say (I'd apologize for the length of this blog entry, but I'm NOT sorry we did so well.)
I'm very proud to be editor of Bay State Parent and extremely proud of our entire staff and all the freelance writers & photographers (including Portrait Simple Studios, who won three awards for us) of the work they do to produce a high-quality publication month in and month out!

Front Cover: Newsprint with Original Photo:
Gold: March 2006 issue - Puddle Jumpers (Photographer: Portrait Simple Studios)(
Judges comments: Terrific color coordination makes this cover pop. Cute subject and popsicle colors blend perfectly. And the type works well without obscuring the image.
Silver: November 2006 - 4th Annual Adoption Guide (Photographer: Steven King)
: This endearing portrait doesn’t need any adornment to draw readers into the cover. The subtle lighting and colors focus attention on the subject.

Interior Illustration
Silver: Camp illustration by Steve Haske
Judges: Haske visually tells the story of camp burnout with a creative illustration that has camp activities weighing on a young camper’s brain. The expression of the camper emphasizes the idea of the story and helps entice the reader.

Original Interior Photography
Silver: Puddle Jumpers - March 2006 (Photographers: Portrait Simple & Nancy MacDonald)
The photographer, designer and editors invested space, wit, style and, most importantly, a sense of fun, all of which are on display by both the young models and the generous layout. In this world, rain equals joy, not gloom. A great example of taking a standard fashion assignment and turning it on its head.
Gold: Rebuilding Families after 9/11 - September 2006 (Photographer: Portrait Simple Studios)
Judges: These pictures speak volumes of a mother’s ability to pull together and move forward a family that faced unbearable tragedy. Those faces and the joy they now share overshadow the horror described in the accompanying story. Instead, the pictures and full story offer inspiration to all.

Feature Layout - Black & White
Silver: Designed by Paula Monette Ethier - Coping With the Baby Blues.
Judges: This layout works thanks to its simplicity and grace. The designer very artfully conveys the content with a portrait and only minimal display type, but what a portrait it is. The entire story is conveyed through emotion, and the type works just enough to help make the connection.

Best Special Section - Design
Silver: Designer Paula Monette Ethier - Baby Guide - March 2006
Judges: The strength of this section lies in the photography. Stock images are played well – they illustrate the point, they're not just there to break up the grey. The cutouts on the fashion spread give the pages a real 3-D feel, and the generous use of images with the feature on the Pampers model really drive home why this one little girl was selected. Overall, a great example of how to make the most of your photography.

Cover Lines
Bronze: Submitted was June & October 2006 covers written by editor Susan Scully Petroni
Judges: Bay State Parent cover-line writers manage to fill lots of information in a little space. These lines also promote stories that we see every year in a refreshing way.

Family Matters Column
Bronze: Family Health columns written by doctors Robert Lindeman & Mark Vining
Judges: Informative, yet entertaining. A strong voice throughout helps carry the reader through the piece.

Family Fun Column
Gold: Day Trip Destination columns written by Stacy Juba and Susan Spencer
Judges: Each of the writers excels at combining a good topic, lots of "how to do it" info and a conversational style. Great anecdotes and structure easily lead the reader through the adventure – and, indeed, these pieces do capture that sense of excitement.

Humor Column
Silver: Pondering Parenting columns by Kerri Augusto
Judges: These columns aren't just funny and well written, they contain parenting advice from a licensed clinical psychologist. The combination is appealing and make for good value to readers.

Travel Feature
Silver: Camping with six children on Cape Cod written by James Lang and Matt Robert
Judges: The title becomes even more intriguing when the opening paragraph reveals that this adventure is fathers and kids only. The combination of humanity and utility makes this feature both enjoyable and helpful.

Silver: "Rebuilding Families After 9/11" written by Kate M. Jackson
Judges: Excellent attention to detail and good use of quotes make this profile of two 9/11 widows worthy of note. The story is a good read, from the scene-setting lead to the conclusion that revisits it. A focus on how these women have moved forward make this story relevant to all readers, not just those who lost someone on 9/11.

Investigative Reporting
Gold: Special Report: Protecting Our Children (October 2006) written by Sarah MacDonald, Marguerite Paolino & Susan Scully Petroni
Judges: This package of articles offers an exhaustive look at troubles with sex offenders and online predators. The stories are filled with rich detail about local incidents that will no doubt strike a nerve with readers.

Service Feature
Silver: Embracing Your Child's Culture written by Rosemary Cafasso
Judges: This article about celebrating an adopted child's cultural heritage presented a topic not often seen, and it did so in an interesting and informative way. The writer made good use of regional experts but also found a local family to use as an example for the recommendations offered by the experts. An 8-point sidebar of how-to’s gave specific recommendations.

Feature Writing
Gold: Rebuilding Families After 9/11 written by Kate M. Jackson
Judges: A story of surviving a horrible tragedy that doesn't stoop to being maudlin. Instead this is a tale of widows reaching out to other widows of terrorism in Afghanistan. It's an absorbing read with a window of hope.

Special Sections
**Gold: 4th Annual Adoption Guide - Nov. 2006
Judges: This comprehensive guide for adoption does not shy away from the tough issues. You'll find not only local stories about traditional parents but also stories about single people wanting to adopt and others about same-sex couples. A courageous undertaking.
Writers were: Marguerite Paolino, Amy Rodgers-Dryfoos, Peter Gibbs, Carrie Wattu, Barbara Ford, Sarah MacDonald, & Susan Scully Petroni
**Silver: Special Report: Protecting Our Children - Oct. 2006
Judges: In this Internet age, what parent isn't worried about online predators? Strong reporting and writing about local communities help this section stand out. Excellent.
Writers were: Sarah MacDonald, Marguerite Paolino, & Susan Scully Petroni
**Bronze: 7th Annual Day Trips & Weekend Getaway Guide - July 2006
Judges: Family vacations for Massachusetts folks don't have to break the bank when they can take fun and adventurous day trips and one-night sleepovers. This guide tells you where to go and what to see if you're on a budget. It's full of great information.
Writers were: James Lang, Matt Robert, Sarah MacDonald, Carrie Wattu, Amy Benoit, & Susan Scully Petroni

Overall Reporting
Gold: Judges: From special reports to annual guides, The Bay State Parent offers superior coverage of its community along with a wide mix of timely articles. It represents the best kind of work a medium-size monthly can offer.
Writers for the submitted issues of August, October & November 2006 included: Carrie Wattu, Kerri Augusto, Amy Benoit, Elizabeth Eidlitz, Peter Gibbs, Heidi Hynes, Robert Lindeman, Sue Lovejoy, Sarah MacDonald, Marguerite Paolino, Amy Rodgers-Dryfoos, Roderick Robinson, Robyn Silverman, Susan Spencer, Debbie Swanson, Donna White, Joanna Zarkadas & Susan Scully Petroni

Parenting Publications of America (PPA) gave out more than 350 Editorial and Design Competition awards to 80 parenting publications. PPA's Editorial and Design Awards Competition recognizes excellence in journalism, photography and design achieved by publishers, editors, writers and designers at member publications. Prof. Daryl Moen of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism coordinated the annual contest. A panel of judges reviewed 1,184 entries this year (up from last year) to choose the winners in each category. All judges have had significant professional experience.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Morning from Music City

Nashville - Good Morning from Music City. I'm at the Annual Parenting Publications of America Convention. (I would have been posting throughout the convention but my computer has been with the tech guys in Massachusetts while I've been here. Very IRONIC, since I was talking about the benefits of the Web and blogging on panels and throughout the convention AND I was without the most important blogging tool the entire trip. Hello to all the fellow publishers & editors I spoke to here ... who may be visiting our site.)
Last night, the magazine won 20 awards!!! I will be posting details about our awards tomorrow.
***Saturday night we spent the evening at the Frist Center for the Arts and attending the Grand Old Opry. While I'm not a country music fan, I am a huge American Idol fan, and Carrie Underwood was the final performer of the night. Thanks to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau for planning such a fun night for PPA members.