Sunday, April 29, 2007

Parent Time

A few recent news items have me thinking about parenting. The working- mother blame game was heightened, naturally, by the release of the National Institute on Child Development study on long-term effects of time spent in child care. While the study is nuanced and complex, the short version was blared in headlines as “young children who spend a lot of time in group child care may be more verbal but have a slightly higher likelihood of behavior problems in 5th and 6th grade.” Oh, the guilt.

Never mind that I still credit the YMCA child care center for raising my kids. My children attended the center full-time since they were three months old, and instead of shedding tears when I dropped my babies off, I thought to myself, “Thank God they’re with someone who actually knows what they’re doing.” Now in grades 4 and 7, they are healthy, well-adjusted, thriving young people.

Your mileage may vary.

Then, a newspaper column reflected on the value of parental time with children, and how it has changed over the past 40 years. Ironically, while mothers in the 1960s spent more time with their children than now, they weren’t necessarily focused on them. In those halcyon days of June Cleaver, I recall the freedom of roaming the neighborhood as a child, supervised only by a slightly older sibling or friends, while our mothers were in the kitchen (or so we assumed).

No “play dates.” No lessons and structured activities. Most team sports didn’t start till 5th grade, and even then parents rarely showed up for games. Parental child-focused time has actually increased in the past decade or two.

But can there be too much of a good thing with child-focused time?

A National Public Radio commentator discussed the big event taking place in the homes of 17- and 18-year-olds: the arrival of college admission letters. High school seniors are applying to more schools, with more pressure and demographic competition than ever before. And many of them are facing rejection for the first time in their lives.

In all parents’ best intentions, in our attempts to help our children find the best way in life, we forget that life isn’t always rosy. How will a child cope with not getting accepted into the college of his or her choice if we have fought every battle and structured every experience for them? Perhaps a little less intensive parenting, allowing children to find their own way and discover their resilience when things don’t go as planned, is the best gift we can give our children.

Meanwhile, I’ll watch my 4th grader for signs of behavioral problems in the next year or two.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tomorrow is Webkinz Day & Monday is Last Day to Enter Our Contest!

Tomorrow is Webkinz Day, as the company that makes the little critters is celebrating its
2nd birthday. Those who visit can spin the Super Wheel for a special prize.

To enter our contest, you must be a Massachusetts resident and fill out a brief survey. One lucky Bay State parent will win this Webkinz monkey for their child. Winner will be announced on this blog next week!

To enter visit:
Good luck!

FYI: Today, we had more than 1,000 visitors to this site!

Friday, April 27, 2007

May 14: Chess Club for Kids

The Children's Department at Northborough Free Library on Main Street has a meeting of its Chess Club Monday, May 14 from 7 to 8 p.m. for children ages 8 and older.
Kids can learn to play chess or challenge a new opponent. The library is requesting, kids try to bring a chess set.
Registration is required. To register, call the children's room at 508-393-5025.

Music in Motion Class in Northborough

The Children’s Department at the Northborough Free Library on Main Street is holding a Music in Motion class on Tuesday, May 15 from 10 to 10:30 a.m. for children ages 12-24 months with an adult. The class features dance and rhythms with Lisa. Registration is required to attend. To register call, 508-393-5025.

Baby Sign Language Class in Northborough

The Children's Department of the Northborough Free Library on main Street is holding a Baby Sign Language Class on Saturday, May 19 from 10 to 10L:45 a.m. for babies 6-12 months old with an adult. Registration is required to attend the event. To register, call 508-393-5025.

ZOO CONTEST: Tapir Named Seamus & Everyone With That Name Gets Free Admission on May 5&6

Zoo New England announced yesterday that its baby Baird’s tapir has recovered from its bout with pneumonia and is back on exhibit at Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest.
The Zoo also announced that the baby has been named Seamus (pronounced “Shay – mus”).

To celebrate Seamus’ birth and speedy recovery, Franklin Park Zoo is inviting anyone who shares the baby’s name to visit the Zoo for free on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6. Simply show proof of identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, passport) at the Zoo’s gates for free admission.

Following a two week long Zoo-sponsored baby naming contest, which garnered more than 1,200 entries from throughout the Commonwealth and even a few from overseas, the name was to be announced on April 18 but was delayed due to the veterinary team’s discovery of the baby’s illness. Pneumonia is one of the most common concerns with newborn hoofstock, but following aggressive treatment with antibiotic therapy, the Zoo veterinary team gave the baby a clean bill of health.
Among the responses to the naming contest, there were nine entries for the name Seamus.
The winning selection, made by the Tropical Forest’s 16 staff members, was chosen in part because the baby was born on March 16 to Milton, a 16-year-old male, and Abby, a 3-year-old female, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.
The 9 winning entries will each receive a coveted “Behind-the-Scenes” tour of Franklin Park Zoo and a one-year Zoodoption of this species.
For more information about Zoo New England visit


Sharon Cumberbatch of Natick is the winner of the $1,000 gift certificate to LaFeminna Modeling School.
Cumberbatch entered the free raffle, while attending Bay State Parent magazine's 10th birthday party at Garden in the Woods in Framingham last Saturday, April 21.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Massachusetts Is One of the Worst States in Protecting A Mother's Right To Breastfeed

Last week, a Hingham mom, who also happens to be a practicing cardiologist in Brockton, was told to stop breastfeeding her 2-month old infant, by the manager of an iParty store in South Weymouth.
While corporate iParty has informed all of its stores that women have the right to breatsfeed in public, the incident highlights the fact that Massachusetts is one of the worst states in America in protecting a women's right to breastfeed.
A point not lost with us here at Bay State Parent magazine.
In fact, we highlighted this lack of support for moms in our 7th Annual Pregnancy & Baby Issue in March. Freelance Writer Jennifer Lefferts researched and wrote the report.
You can read the entire special report online at:
Additional articles include:
* Massachusetts is one of the worst:
* Benefits of Breastfeeding:
* Resources:

To read more about the iParty incident, visit

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

May Issue, Featuring Mother's Day - Family Dining Guide - Adoption Guide, Is Off to the Printers

We shipped the May issue to the printers this afternoon.
Inside the issue is our inaugural Family Dining Guide. More than 75 restaurants are included in the kid-friendly dining guide chart. Freelance writer Leslie Castillo called local and chain restaurants and compiled 6-pages worth of information for families -- which restaurant has a kid's only menu, which offers free or discounted meal nights, which provide entertainment for children, which give free drinks or desserts, which have birthday or kids clubs?
Consider the chart a work in progress. I'm sure there is a restaurant that is a favorite of your family that may not be on it. Feel free to e-mail me at with additions or tell me about eating establishments that you didn't think were family-friendly.
Also inside our first Family Dining Guide, freelance writer Marguerite Paolino explores why families are trying to revive the tradition of eating dinner together and a second report on how to teach your toddler through teenager basic table manners.
Finally, our May issue would not be complete without a few Mother's Day articles.
Being a mom comes with a lot of titles. One title that always gets a reaction - be it positive or negative - is Soccer Mom. Freelance writer Michelle Xiarhos Curran, in her first article for Bay State Parent magazine, talked to moms who are proud of the title, and reported on the debate surrounding Soccer Moms and the stereotypes attached to the title.
Also inside the issue is a report on the trend of helicopter parenting and an interview with I Love You Like Crazy Cakes author Rose A Lewis. Lewis, a Needham resident, in a Q&A with me talks about adopting her daughter from China, motherhood, and her latest book Every Year on Your Birthday.
The issue should be at your favorite location in Eastern & Central Massachusetts next week.

WEEKEND PICKS: Two Ideas for Saturday, April 28

Here are two BONUS Calendar events happening this Saturday, April 28 -- not in our print edition!!!

1. It’s Spring! What child doesn’t love exploring ponds to find the prize: salamanders and frogs? Bring the kids to a Vernal Pool Exploration at the Mass Central Rail Trail in Rutland at 10 a.m. Your family will learn that a vernal pool can be a mere puddle or a huge body of water. The important thing is that it’s where frogs and salamanders go to lay their eggs. Meet in the parking on the state park entrance road. Call Robin Peters 508-886-6541 with questions and to register. Wear boots or old sneakers - you may get wet. For more information visit (FYI - This is the postponed event from Saturday, April 7 at 10 a.m.)

2. A Family Fun Fair for families with children under the age of 5 will be held at the Kane Elementary School, 520 Farm Road in Marlborough from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Families will meet childcare providers, preschool centers, local businesses, community resources, family-focused organizations, and children’s entertainers. There will be many free prizes and giveaways. Puppet-making with the Arts Alliance and entertainment by musicians and storytellers will ensure plenty of fun, free activities for children and their families. There is ample parking for this FREE event. The Fair is wheelchair-accessible. For additional information call 508-485-0085. The Fair is sponsored by the Community Partnerships for Children and the Assabet Valley Family Network, a non-profit organization that provides education and support to families with children aged pre-birth through 3 years, who reside in Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough and Westborough and is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

***Attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to area food pantries

Monday, April 23, 2007

America's Largest Adoption Conference is Saturday in Milford

There is still time to register for the largest adoption conference in the United States. The 34th Annual New England Adoption Conference is Saturday, April 28 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Milford High. Bay State Parent magazine will have a booth in the exhibit hall.
Regular registration has closed, but late registration, including the morning of the conference, is being accepted on a space available basis at a $140 non-member fee.
The conference offers more than 100 seminars for individuals considering adoption, those who have adopted, or those touched by adoption. This year, there is a new track devoted to children with special needs.
To register, contact The New England Adoption Community, Inc. at 508-429-4260.
To view the seminars offers, visit

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunny Day in The Garden!

Thanks to everyone who attended our 10th birthday party at Garden in the Woods in Framingham. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. The children had a fabulous time searching for the nature-themed items on the scavenger hunt and the adults were some of the first to visit the nursery, full of fresh flowers ready for planting.
Walking through the pond area, the kids could hear woodpeckers. Along, the brook and pond, children found turtles, ducks, and salamanders.
The event benefitted Smiling Kids, a Southborough-based charity -
The winners of the raffles will be posted here, later this week.
You can view ALL the photos from the event at the magazine's photo gallery. (click on the link located on the rightside of this page.)

FYI -- The magazine's final 10th birthday party is scheduled for Saturday, May 12 at the EcoTarium in Worcester.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Our 10th Birthday Party at Garden in the Woods Saturday

Saturday, help celebrate our (Bay State Parent magazine's) 10th year of publishing by attending a birthday party at Garden in the Woods in Framingham, beginning at 11 a.m. To honor our 10th birthday, we have been hosting 10 birthday parties at family-friendly venues across Eastern & Central Massachusetts since May 2006.
Saturday, take advantage of a special admission rate for your entire visit at the Garden, when you bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to along with the coupon pictured here. With the coupon, family members pay for one admission and get one admission free with a toy donation.
While at the beautiful site, enjoy a scavenger hunt, and enter a raffle to win a free birthday party at Garden in the Woods, and pick up a goodie bag provided by iParty.

RECALL: 4 Million-plus Magnetix building sets

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has expanded its recall of the Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets due to additional serious injuries to children reported following the March 31, 2006 recall announcement.
In excess of 4 million units are involved. The recall includes all sets, except newer Magnetix sets sold since March 31, 2006, that are age-labeled 6+ and sets that contain the following caution label: “CAUTION: Do not ingest or inhale magnets.Attraction of magnets in the body may cause serious injury and require immediate medical care.” Mega Brands advises that sets currently at retail better retain magnets due to improved quality control, material and design changes. These products are not included in the recall.
To date, CPSC and Mega Brands are aware of one death, one aspiration, and 27 intestinal injuries. Emergency surgical intervention was needed in all but one case. At least 1,500 incidents of magnets separating from the building pieces have been reported. Although the hazard was initially thought to be a problem primarily for children younger than age 6, it has since been learned that at least 10 injuries involved children between the ages of 6 and 11 years old.
If a child swallows more than one tiny powerful magnet detached from the plastic building pieces or one such magnet and a metallic object, the objects can attract to each other inside the intestines and cause perforations and/or blockage, which can be fatal, if not treated immediately.
“CPSC is deeply concerned about the dangers that small, powerful magnets can pose to children if swallowed,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “In order for any product recall to be effective in protecting consumers, we must significantly reduce incidents and injuries from occurring after the recall is announced.”
Mega Brands has been cooperative in this expanded recall.
These older sets, which were manufactured in China, contain up to 250 plastic building pieces and 1/2-inch diameter steel balls. The building pieces include 1 1/2-inch squares, 1-inch triangles, cylinder rods, flexors, connectors, x-tenders, and curves and come in an assortment of colors such as metallic, primary, translucent, and glow in the dark.
Mass merchants and other toy and arts and crafts stores sold the sets nationwide for between $20 and $60, depending on the size of the set.
Consumers should stop using the recalled magnetic sets immediately and contact Mega Brands for a comparable replacement toy. If consumers are uncertain as to whether their product is being recalled, they can contact Mega Brands at 800-779-7122 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit
The CPSC is urging consumers to immediately report any incidents of loose magnets to the CPSC Hotline at 800-638-2772 or to the CPSC Web site at

SCHOOL VACATION PICK: Celebrate Sunny Skies & Earth Day with 1/2 Price Admission at the EcoTarium

In honor of Earth Day, the EcoTarium in Worcester, in conjunction with the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts and Bay State Parent magazine is offering free admission tomorrow (Friday, April 20) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adults are $5. Children ages 3-18 and senior citizens are $4.
At the EcoTarium, Explore living things to the things we leave behind!
Meet live bats from around the world with the Organization for Bat Conservation, track trash with kids author Loree Griffin Burns, enjoy hands-on art & science activities, music and more!
Drop by exhibitor tables for ideas on how you can do your part for the planet.
For more information, visit

FRIDAY is HOOD Milk Bottle Day in Boston --- Ice Cream at 11 a.m.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the giant Hood Milk Bottle's "Great Bottle Sail"-- a journey by barge across Boston Harbor to its final destination at the Boston Children's Museum has declared tomorrow (Friday, April 20) Hood Milk Bottle Day.
At 11 a.m., there will be a small ceremony attended by Hood Vice President Jeffrey J. Kaneb, Lou Casagrande, president of the Children's Museum, the mayor, and the "Hoodsie Twins" mascots, who will handout ice cream to the children who attend the public gathering.
The bottle had disappeared from its popular spot during the renovations for the museum this past winter. The museum re-opened to the public last Saturday and will welcome the milk bottle back as its neighbor tomorrow.

For those driving in please note the Congress St. Bridge is currently closed to traffic. For driving directions and parking information available

RECALL: Infant Bouncer Seat

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in conjunction with the manufacturer, Oeuf LLC of New York, yesterday voluntarily recalled about 1,400 infant bouncer seats due to frame failure.The tubular metal frame can break, posing a fall hazard to infants in the seat.
Oeuf LLC has received six reports of frames breaking. No injuries have been reported.
This recall involves Oeuf infant bouncer seats with padded canvas supported by a tubular steel frame. The canvas seat is brown with white, blue or pink stripes. A three-point safety belt is attached to the canvas. Model number 2005 is printed on the label.
The seat was sold at specialty stores and Web retailers nationwide from September 2006 through March 2007 for about $100.
Consumers should stop using the infant seat immediately and contact Oeuf LLC to receive a repair kit. For additional information, contact Oeuf at 800-691-8810 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Find Out How to VOLUNTEER Your Time To Help Worthy Causes

Has your family ever wanted to volunteer, but never have the time to do the research?
Visit The Shops at Prudential Center's and The Improper Bostonian's 2nd Annual Volunteer Expo in the Huntington and Belvidere Arcades tomorrow night (Thursday, April 19) from 5:30 to 7:30. This special evening will allow families to be introduced to more than 50 volunteer organizations, including several that help families in need.
Participating organizations include:
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts
American Red Cross
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
Benefit for Kids
Best Buddies
Big Brothers of Massachusetts Bay
Big Sister Association of Greater Boston
Birthday Wishes
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
Boston Cares
Boston Digital Bridge Foundation
Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce
Boston Partners in Education
Bread & Jams, Inc
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
City Year
Community Servings
Cradles to Crayons
Dress for Success
Earth Works
East End House
Ellis Memorial and Eldregde House
Franciscan Hospital for Children
Generations Incorporated
Habitat for Humanity
Girl Scouts Patriots' Trail Council
The Greater Boston Food Bank
Horizons for Homeless Children
The Home for Little Wanderers
Horizons for Homeless Children
Italian Home for Children
The Jimmy Fund
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts
Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Massachusetts Association for the Blind
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership
The Miracle Providers of NorthEast
On Your Feet Project
Outdoor Explorations
Parents Helping Parents
Pine Street Inn
Project Bread
Project Joy
Room To Grow
Single Volunteers of Boston Properties
StandUp for Kids
Starlight Starbright Foundation of New England
Susan G. Komen For the Cure
Teen Empowerment
The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Volunteer Family (

The United Way of Massachusetts Bay
ZOO New England


Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain yet, again. That means 5 days in a row with the kids home from school and not able to go outside and play. Looking for indoor adventures?
Below are 5 picks for Thursday, April 19 (Please call to confirm event):

1. Comic Book Workshop at the Hudson Public Library, 3 Washington Street from 3 to 4 p.m. Local comic book artist Paul Ryan will teach kids how a comic is produced, what makes a good story structure, then show you the basics of drawing, perspective and visual storytelling. Pre-registration is suggested at the adult circulation desk by calling 978-568-9645.

2. Attend a Stevesongs Children's Concert at the Children's Cooperative Nursery School, Hyde Community Center 90 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands at 10a .m. Tickets are $10 at the door.

3. See a Butterflies Slide Show Presentation at the Northborough Free Library, 34 Main St., Northborough at 1 p.m. Presentation on butterflies by Jerry Schneider and then children can do a T-shirt craft.T-shirts can be purchased for $4 or bring your own. Pre-registration is suggested at 508-393-5025.

4. Watch Circus School in session at the Providence Children's Museum, Providence, RI. at 1 & 2 p.m. See the 3-ring show by kids and for kids. Watch amazing juggling feats, balancing acts and performing acrobats. Kids join in the fun and try out tricks for themselves! Admission to the museum is $6.50 per person. Show is free.

5. Have Victorian Tea with Miss Columbia at the Wenham Museum, Main St., Wenham at 2 p.m. Perfect for children ages 4 and up, tea and story hour is with Miss Columbia's owner Elizabeth Horton. She tells tales of her adventures as a young Victorian girl, shares dolls and toys from the museum's collections and reads a story or two from the Around the World with Miss Columbia exhibit. Cost for the event is $6 per person. It is above the museum admission price of $6.50 for adults, $4.40 for children ages 2-16. For more information call 978-468-2377 or visit

Check back tomorrow on this blog for weekend picks (Friday, Saturday & Sunday events). The good news --- the forecasters are predicting a sunny weekend with temperatures in the 60s. Perhaps, spring may finally arrive?

ZOO CONTEST: Tapir Diagnosed with Pneumonia; Tapir Naming Contest Delayed

Zoo New England announced today (April 18) that its baby Baird’s tapir has been diagnosed with pneumonia and is being aggressively treated with antibiotics. Pneumonia is one of the most common concerns with newborn hoofstock.
“While this is a very serious illness, we are aggressively treating the baby with antibiotic therapy and hope to see improvement within the next three to four days,” said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Associate Veterinarian, Zoo New England.
The baby was born March 16, to Milton, a 16-year-old male, and Abby, a 3-year-old female.
More than 1,200 entries were received in a Zoo-sponsored contest to name the baby, which was also posted on this blog.
The name was scheduled to be announced today, but has been delayed given the circumstances.
“We are very excited about this birth, but are concerned about the illness. He is receiving top-notch medical care from our staff but, just as in the wild, there are heightened risks with young animals,” said John Linehan, President and CEO, Zoo New England. “Abby has proven to be a great mother, but neo-natal mortality is always a concern.”
Baird’s tapirs are considered endangered in the wild. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development. Tapirs are the largest land mammals found in Latin America.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Talking To Tweens and Teens About the Virginia Tech Shooting Tragedy

In the wake of the recent shootings of at least 32 students on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, mental health experts at Bradley Hospital (, the nation’s first psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents, recognize that one of the most difficult tasks a parent has to face is that of talking about tragedy with their children.
This can range from the death of a pet through the death of a family member, all the way to local or national tragedies they see or read about in the news.

“Kids gain mastery through repetition - they may ask repeatedly about the incident to gain understanding--parents and caregivers need to be prepared to answer the same questions over and over and using simple, honest, and age appropriate answers,” says Kelly Chasse, PhD, with the Bradley School in East Providence, RI.
She also suggests that parents stay away from using euphemisms when talking about death.
“Statements such as “resting in peace;” “passed on to another life;" “we lost her;” “she is no longer with us” are not helpful to children and are confusing.
Using the words death or died, although difficult for adults, will be more helpful to kids,” says Chasse.

1. Remember to consider the developmental level of your child: Teenagers understand the concept of death. It is important to provide honest and factual information when talking with teenagers about death. Couch these facts in as warm and supportive a framework as you can; for instance, with reassurances that you are going to be there for them. With teenagers, it is appropriate to give more information than you would a younger child.
2. Invite questions: Even if your teenager seem to understand what happened, remind them that they can ask you questions any time. Many times, teenagers take some time to process tragic events, and will not ask about them until later. Remind them that questions are okay.
3. Expect regression: In the wake of loss or tragic events, many teenagers will regress to earlier behaviors, particularly ones that are associated with comfort, such as seeking favorite toys, or wanting to sleep in the same room with their parents. These behaviors are normal coping mechanisms in the face of tragedy, and are no cause for alarm. Most teens will return to more age appropriate behaviors in 1 - 2 months after the event, and often much more rapidly. However, if these behaviors continue beyond this general time frame, consult your pediatrician. Particular attention should be paid to regressive behaviors that interfere with your teen’s functioning, such as excessive school refusal and sleep or appetite disturbance.
4. Teenagers express grief differently than adults: Teenagers are on their way to becoming adults, but it is important to remember that they are not yet adults. As teens try to make sense out of what has happened and they experience their grief, you may see anger, disobedience, and acting out behaviors. If you see this happening, it helps to sit down with your teenager and talk with them. Give them permission to experience their feelings and encourage them to express their feelings. Let them know that the intensity of feelings they are experiencing will not last forever.
5. Structure helps: One of the things that most help teenagers through tragic loss is a continuity of family structure and tradition. If at all possible, continue to do the things your family usually does - whether these are mealtimes, special games, or involvement in religious or cultural groups. While teens need to have the tragedy acknowledged, they also need to know that the world will go on.
6. Remember your own grief: Often, parents will try to repress their own feelings in order to stay strong for their teenagers. While it may not be helpful to grieve extensively in front of your child, it is very important to take care of yourself, and your own feelings of loss. Teenagers can easily sense when a parent is tense or anxious, and it is important to acknowledge your own pain and loss, and to get whatever help you need.

Finally, remember that tragedy is a part of every life - the job of parents is not to shield their teenagers from tragedy, but to help their teens become resilient enough to survive it. This is not often a job that anyone can do alone, and if you need help, ask for it, from friends, family, clergy, or helping professionals.

Chasse says that parents and caregivers should not be afraid of not having all of the answers.
“It’s okay to say “I don't know:” You are helping your children by letting them talk about their feelings and listening to them.”

Founded in 1931, Bradley Hospital ( was the nation’s first psychiatric hospital operating exclusively for children. Today, it remains a premier medical institution devoted to the research and treatment of childhood psychiatric illnesses.

RECALL: Disney Sleepers

The Disney Store is recalling aboout 200 children's footed pajamas due to a potential burn hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm the company above, today announced a voluntary recall of the Baby Einstein Caterpillar Sleepwear and Baby Einstein Duck Sleepwear. The Disney Stores North America, of California, which is owned, and under a licensing agreement operated, by a subsidiary of The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. of Secaucus, N.J.said there were no reported injuries or incidents. The sleepwear fails to meet the children’s flammability standard, posing a risk of burn injury to children.
The recall involves footed pajamas made of 100 percent cotton. The sleepwear was sold in two styles including green with blue sleeves which has a caterpillar design on the front, and yellow with orange sleeves which has a duck design and “Quack! Quack!” printed on the front and duck beaks on the feet. “Baby Einstein” is printed on the back of the sleepwear. “Disney Store” is printed on a tag inside the pajamas. Only sleepwear in sizes 12 months and 18 months is included in this recall. Sleepwear sold in sizes 3, 6, and 9 months is not included in this recall. The sleepers were sold exclusively at Disney Stores nationwide from April 2006 through May 2006 for about $20.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled sleepwear and return it to any Disney Store for a full refund. For additional information, call toll-free at 866-902-2798 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday.

RECALL: Life is good sweatshirts

Life is good® Children’s Sweatshirts are voluntarily recalled by The sweatshirts have drawstrings that pose strangulation hazards. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the company named above, today announced a voluntary recall about 1,200 sweatshirts. There have been no reports of injuries. The recalled sweatshirts have “LIFE IS GOOD” written on the front in sewn-on letters. They were sold in children sizes small (6-8), medium (10) and large (12) with drawstrings through the hood. Sweatshirt colors include dark and light blue. They were sold at from March 2006 through March 2007 for about $35. Consumers should immediately remove the drawstrings from the sweatshirts to eliminate the hazard. Consumers can get information about returning the sweatshirts for a full refund by contacting RedEnvelope Inc. For additional information, call RedEnvelope Inc. toll-free at 877-733-3683 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at


Well, the weather doesn't seem to be improving, so here are 7 INDOOR ideas for things to do with the kids tomorrow (Wednesday, April 18):

* Preschool guided storytime, crafts activities and live animals at the EcoTarium at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester beginning at 10:30 a.m. Kids play and parents relax. Free coffee, cocoa and snacks courtesy of Starbucks. This storyhour is free with Museum admission. Admission is $10 adults, $8 children ages 3-18. For more information visit

* Invention Convention at the Children's Discovery Museums in Acton starting at 10 a.m. Children can design their own invention prototype with recycled materials. Admission is $8 per person. For more information, visit

* Diane Kordas Romper Rhythm and Puppets show at the Hudson Public Library, 3 Washington Street, in Hudson at 2 p.m. The show features Sir George and the Dragon. It is a fun and exciting medieval tale with Diane's trademark humor and audience participation. For more information call 978-568-9645 or visit

* Fairy Houses, Fairy Moon performance at Providence Children's Museum at Providence, RI at 1 and 2 p.m. Artist Maria Sangiolo combines literature, music, song, and play into an inspiring and imaginative performance for children. Maria's songs enhance "Fairy House" by Tracy Kane, a story of a girl's adventure as she travels to Maine and takes part in the tradition of building fairy houses. Children, ages 3-11, can build their own fairy houses using natural materials, inspiring creativity and imagination. $Admission to the museum is $6.50 per person. For more information, call 401-273-KIDS or visit

* Miniature Kite Building Workshop at the Wenham Museum on main Street in Wenham at 3 p.m. The workshop features Glenn Davison, master kite designer, builder, author and Director of Kites Over New England Kite Club. Admission is $6.50 adults, $4.50 children ages 2-16. Preregistration may be required. Please call, 978-468-2377 or visit for more information.

* Scott Kepnes Family Concert at St. Mark's Episcopal Church at 75 Cold Spring Road in Westford at 10 a.m. A fun, funky folk-rock concert with this favorite storyteller & songwriter for children of all age. The artist encourages audience participation. Tickets at the door are $9. For more information, call 978-692-4544.

* The Stupendous Mr. Magichead performance at Congregation B'nai Shalom at 117 East Main Street in Westorough at 10 a.m. This magic show is appropriate for children ages 3+. All proceeds to benefit the non-profit JFS of Worcester. Tickets at the door are $5 each. For more information, call 508-755-3101.

Check this blog tomorrow for Thursday picks!

Monday, April 16, 2007


Okay, it appears it just won't stop raining this week. So if you have the kids home from school, consider heading to Boston and spending time at the Museum of Fine Arts's Cogan Family Foundation Vacation Week Adventures. The museum has several special activities planned daily plus ongoing activities throughout the week.
On Tuesday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Calderwood Courtyard (but most likely indoors at the Lower Rotunda) children can create a nature collage. First families are encouraged to explore the African and Oceanic galleries to see how artists have used natural materials in their artwork; and then learn techniques of collage and then use materials from nature to design a work of art of your own.
Other daily events scheduled:
* Art InterACTions with the Underground Railway Theater: Join the Underground Railway Theater for an interactive performance exploring nature in art. Audience participation is encouraged! The event takes place at the 17th century Dutch Gallery on the second floor at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

* Children’s Story Hour with Laura Ziman Enjoy a variety of children's stories about nature in the African Arts Gallery on the first floor at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

*Clare Walker Leslie Drawing Workshop. Join renowned nature artist Clare Walker Leslie for a drop-in drawing activity sketching objects from nature. Visit for more info.

If the museum is not your child's idea of fun & adventure, try these 3 ideas for Tuesday:

1) What's the Buzz? Bee & Butterfly Gardens at the Children's Discovery Museums in Acton at 10 a.m. Find out why bees and butterflies like certain kinds of flowers, and plant your own bee and butterfly starter-garden to take home. Admission is $8 per person. Call 978-264-4200 or visit for more info

2) Cooking with Kevin at Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road in Concord starting at 3 p.m. Chef Kevin Carey teaches a hands-on cooking class featuring a Tex-Mex menu for children in grades one-three. Pre-registration is required. $15 per child. Call 978-369-4494 or visit to register. Chef Kevin will offer a cooking class for students in grades 4-6 on Thursday, April 19.

3) Game Day at the National Heritage Museum at 33 Marrett Road in Lexington from noon to 4 p.m. Challenge family and friends to a board game and see other toys and games throughout the Museum. This event is free. For more information visit

Check back tomorrow (Tuesday) for picks for Wednesday fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Doodlebops Dance & Sing into the Bay State for First Concert

The Doodlebops, straight from their hit TV show on Playhouse Disney, performed two shows at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium this afternoon. The crowd (of which, a majority was 2-6 year olds, most at their first-ever rock concert) danced and bopped for the 90-minute concert. Deedee, Rooney, and Moe Doodle got on a bus (Yes, one did drive onto the stage with Bus Driver Bob,) sang, and danced for the crowd, which included many Deedee and other Doodle look-a-likes.
During the concert, Moe pulled the roped, Deedee was a Queen for a Day, and Rooney rocked on his guitar. The trio performed many of the songs from their popular television show and bestselling DVDs and CDs, including: I Can Dance, Hold Your Horses, Let's Get Loud (of which the audience did), Wobbly Woopsie, The Bird Song 2006, Get On The Bus, and Together Forever.

If you have never seen the PlayhouseDisney show, produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment in Canada, the Doodlebops are a trio of siblings, whom just happened to be rock stars. Their songs are engaging and even you will find yourself humming them, even if you don't want too. During the show Rooney tried to engage the adult audience members. First, he commented on a man in the second row being a brave soul for wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap in Red Sox country. And then later, when the bus screeched onto stage, and someone asked what that noise was? Rooney suggested "Sanjaya" from American Idol.

This is the Doodlebops first tour. They were travelling to 80 cities and Lynn was their only Massachusetts stop.

Photos from the Doodlebops first Bay State concert are posted at the magazine's photo gallery. Click on the gallery link on the right of this page to view and order photos or click on this link:


Since the Marathon will likely be a wash & most of the historic activities have been cancelled, here are three INDOOR picks for Monday:

* Make Your Own Pop-Up Book at the Barnes & Noble in Bellingham at 10:30 a.m. For more information call, 508-966-7600.

* Performance of the Last Dragon on Earth Crabgrass Puppets at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston at 10:30 a.m. Beautiful puppets, creative scenery, and witty dialogue and humor, evoke a timeless story of tolerance and friendship that will delight audiences of all ages. Visit for admission prices and more.

* Delve into space at the new Planetarium at the EcoTarium in Worcester from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After much anticipation, the Alden Digital Planetarium is open with exciting, entertaining and educational lineups of multimedia planetarium shows produced by museums and renowned space centers from around the globe. Admission is $10 adults, children under age 18 $8 and children under age 3, free for more information, visit www.

Check back Monday for picks for Tuesday.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

WEEKEND PICKS: 6 Ideas for the 3-day Weekend

Tomorrow starts the long weekend and for many families, the beginning of the spring school vacation week. Below are 6 picks for the long weekend. As bad weather is predicted for some of the weekend, please call ahead.

1. Sat. April 14 - Sat. April 21: It's Patriots' Day in Historic Concord. Experience what life was like as you witness British and Colonial re-enactors bring the Revolutionary War to life in Concord and surrounding towns. Tours, parades, battles, memorials, and more provide living history lessons as well as a memorable outing. We've listed scores of events in this month's calendar listings, but you will also find information at the Concord Museum (978-369-9763, and the Old Manse (978-369-3909). Also visit, and

2. Friday, April 13: Kick off your school vacation week with a Family Fun Night at the Discovery Museums in Acton. Enjoy a special after-hours opening from 5:30 - 8 p.m. with Earth Day activities. Admission is $5 per person with a $20 family maximum. For more information, contact 978-264-4200 or visit

3. Saturday, April 14: 14th Annual Teddy Bear Clinic. This very popular FREE event sponsored by UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center takes place at the Greendale Mall, 7 Neponset St. in Worcester from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Center's doctors, nurses, and staff volunteer their time and expertise to promote health and safety. Learn about health, safety, visiting the doctor, having surgery and injury prevention. Bring a teddy bear or toy for the doctor to examine. For more information, call 508-856-1650.

4. Saturday, April 14: Soccer Revolution. The New England Revolution's home opener is a double header with the United States Women's National Team taking the field against Mexico at 5 p.m. and the Revolution taking on Major League Soccer (MLS) newcomer Toronto at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32, $42, & $50. For more information visit

5. Sunday, April 15: Take in a concert by Manguito: Rumba, Bomba, Plena, Merengue, presented by Music Worcester and sponsored by Bay State Parent magazine at Bancroft School in Worcester at 3 p.m. Specifically for elementary-age children, the concert features five internationally-known Latin American musicians, who will take families on a musical tour of the Caribbean as they play the rhythms of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. For additional information visit

6. Monday, April 16: There's no school today, so gather along the route of the 111th Boston Marathon. Starting at Hopkinton Center and ending 26.2 miles away on Boylston Street in Boston, more than a half million spectators are expected to watch 20,000 runners, including some of the best in the world, compete in the oldest marathon. In terms of media coverage, the Boston Marathon is the second biggest single-day sporting event in the U.S., just behind the Super Bowl. For spectator tips, visit

CONTEST: 5-Day Jamaican Vacation

Bay State Parent magazine is participating in a national survey of parenting magazines sponsored by the Parenting Publications of America.
Please take a few minutes to answer the questions at this link:
The questions are specific to Bay State Parent magazine. One winner, nationally, will win a 5-day, 4-night Jamaican vacation plus $500 in cash. The deadline to enter is July 1, 2007.

RECALL: Company Pulls Plaque-Detecting Rinse

McNEIL-PPC, Inc. has announced a voluntary nationwide consumer recall of all lots of the GLACIER MINT™ and BUBBLE BLAST™ flavors of LISTERINE® AGENT COOL BLUE™ Plaque-Detecting Rinse after the Company determined that the preservative system is not adequate against certain microorganisms. McNEIL-PPC, Inc. has been in full communication with the Federal Drug Administration regarding this issue and the decision to implement a voluntary recall.
What parents needs to know:

1. How can I tell if I have purchased affected product? All lots of AGENT COOL BLUE™ Plaque-Detecting Rinse are being recalled. Consumers can readily distinguish this product by the cartoon character on the front of the bottle.

2. What should I do with the product I purchased? Consumers should discontinue using any bottle of AGENT COOL BLUE™ Plaque-Detecting Rinse & properly dispose of the product.

3. How do I get a refund? Consumers may obtain a full refund through calling the toll free consumer line at McNEIL-PPC, Inc., 1-888-222-0249, or visit the web site to print the form necessary to mail-in to secure a refund.

4. My child has been using this product. Should I be concerned? McNEIL-PPC, Inc. conducted a thorough assessment and concluded that the risk of illness in healthy individuals following use of this product is very low. However, there could be a significant health risk to individuals with weakened or suppressed immune systems. To date, there have been no consumer adverse health events reported that are related to this issue. If you have further concerns, please consult your healthcare professional.

If you have additional questions please call the toll free consumer line at McNEIL-PPC, Inc., 1-888-222-0249.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Robbery at the Pump - Gas Up 50 Cents in 2 Months

This morning, I filled my gas tank at $2.75 a gallon. Amazing! Ridiculous! Suburban moms chauffeuring their kids to school, dance, gymnastics, music lessons, and so on, can surely understand my plight. According to a report in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald this week, gasoline prices rose an average of a nickel per gallon in Massachusetts over the past week. This was the ninth consecutive weekly increase. Gas prices are up 53 cents per gallon from early February, but Massachusetts gas prices unbelievably remain below the national average. The latest Lundberg Survey of 7,000 US gas stations pegged the average price at $2.78.
It's hard to believe that the first week in November, just before the presidential election; I filled up my SUV at $1.97 a gallon.

Last June, Congressman Marty Meehan prepared a report on the Impact of Increased Gasoline Prices on Family Budgets in Massachusetts.
The 2006 report concluded: Higher gas prices will affect summer vacations. The
Consumer Board, a leading private research firm, found that this year will mark a 28-year
low in travel, and a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll found that one-third of Americans said they were changing their summer vacation plans because of higher gas prices. Of those, 37 percent said they would reduce the number of trips they normally take, 26 percent said they’re canceling plans or simply can’t afford to take a trip and 23 percent said they will take
shorter trips.
Beyond disrupting travel, increasing gas prices are affecting all areas of family
budgets. A Quinnipiac University Poll found that 72 percent of people said that
the rising price of gasoline has been either a "very serious problem" or "a somewhat
serious problem" for their family.

Will the rising cost of gasoline change your summer vacation plans?

Will you travel less? take fewer day trips?

Will you stay in the Bay State? New England? Or venture elsewhere?

E-mail me and let me know if and how the price of gasoline may change your summer vacation plans at

And don't forget to look for the July issue of Bay State Parent magazine, featuring our 8th Annual Day Trip and Weekend Getaway Guide. Last year's guide won a national Parenting Publication of American (PPA) award. This year's guide will be jammed packed with ideas, that you'll want to keep the issue all summer.

CONTEST: Win A Webkinz!

Click on the link below to enter the April contest:

RECALL: Wooden Puzzles Are A Choking Hazard

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Small World Toys of California, today announced a voluntary recall of more than 75,000 “Sounds on the Farm” and “Sounds on the Go” puzzles. The knobs on the recalled puzzle pieces can come off, posing a choking hazard to young children. Small World Toys has received 42 reports of the knobs detaching from the puzzle pieces. No injuries have been reported. The recalled involves two separate wooden-knobbed puzzles that make sounds. “Sounds on the Farm” and “Sounds on the Go” puzzles were sold under the Puzzibilities and Ryan’s Room brands. The wooden puzzles have four pieces in farm animal or vehicle shapes that make animal or motor sounds when the pieces are lifted by their knobs from the puzzle boards. “Sounds on the Farm” or “Sounds on the Go” is printed on the top left of the puzzle boards. “©2003 Small World Toys®” and the number 24101 or 24102 are printed at the bottom of the puzzles boards. Puzzibilities puzzles were sold at toy stores and various retailers nationwide and by catalogs from June 2003 through February 2007. Ryan’s Room puzzles were sold at Target Stores nationwide from January 2006 through February 2007. Both puzzles sold for about $16.
Consumers should immediately take this toy away from children and contact Small World Toys to obtain a free replacement toy. For additional information, contact Small World Toys at 800-421-4153 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Time Monday through Friday or visit Parents may also e-mail the firm at

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In Search of a Camp for Your Child This Summer?

Is your child outgoing? Does your child like sports? The arts? Could your child handle an overnight stay? Whatever interests your child has, there is a camp out there for them to enjoy during the summer, whether it's a day camp for a few weeks or a residential camp for the whole summer. But with so many choices for camps these days, choosing a camp may be a daunting task. Camp directors agree that talking with your child about their expectations is a good place to start when choosing a camp. "Parents and children may have different goals in mind when it comes to their camp experience," said Lucy Norvell, director of public information for the American Camp Association in Lexington. "There may have to be some compromises and then parents can compare their family's wants to the camps out there."
For example, Norvell said, a child may excel in a sport so parents may want to send them to a sports camp all summer. But the child might not want to go to a sports camp all summer - they might want to go to a traditional camp, with a variety of programs that a friend went to the summer before.
"That's why we suggest parents have a conversation about camp with their child to see what options are out there," Norvell said. "Cost and geography may limit options, but at least having the conversation is a start."
With numerous camp options that include co-ed camps, residential camps, and day camps, parents may not be sure their child would be ready for those experiences. But camp directors agree that children can be more ready for residential camps than their parents' may think.
To read more of freelance writer Jennifer Luccarelli's report on finding the perfect camp for your child, click on this link:

That is just one of a handful of articles inside the 11th Annual Camp Guide in the April issue. To read all the camp articles, pick up a copy of the magazine at more than 850 locations in Eastern & Central Massachusetts or read the articles online at
Also check out the list of Camp advertisers inside the April issue at:


Monday, April 9, 2007

We've Expanded our Sales Team!!!

Bay State Parent continues to grow and we're thrilled to announce the addition of four new advertising sales representatives to assist clients throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts, that want to be included in the state's Premier Magazine for Families.

The magazine now has seven advertising sales representative serving Eastern & Central Massachusetts.

The new team members include:
* Christina Walton is a Lowell resident and mother of one young daughter. She worked for several years at Community Newspaper Company focusing on a territory northwest of Boston.
For Bay State Parent, Christina will handle clients from Arlington, Belmont, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Westford, Lowell, Medford, Winchester, Woburn and communities further north.

*Mark Steina is the former owner of Ovations Model and Talent, and familiar with Bay State Parent as an advertiser and reader. He is by his own words "One of Bay State Parent's Biggest Fans!" Mark lives in Oxford (along with an extended family that includes an 8-year-old granddaughter) and has an extensive background in sales and fund-raising including efforts for the United Way, Worcester Chamber of Commerce, and UMASS Memorial Hospital. He is also a former teacher in Central Mass. Mark will focus on Worcester and the South County region. Mark's e-mail is

* Julie Barrett comes to us following nearly four years selling advertising for Quilting Arts magazine in Stow. Prior to that Julie held design and sales positions at Ethan Allen and Helen Herold Interiors. Julie lives in Marlboro with her husband and two sons (ages 4 and 2) and will focus on the following territory: Ayer, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Concord, Groton, Hudson, Lancaster, Littleton, Marlboro, Maynard, Northboro, Shirley, Stow, & Sudbury.

* Laura Lepard lives in Auburn with her husband and two young children, and is another self-proclaimed "huge fan" of the magazine having read it cover-to-cover for years. Her professional experience includes children's instruction at the YMCA of Greater Worcester, marketing assistant at TJX companies, and account executive for Chancellor Outdoor (billboards) Advertising in Ohio. Laura also ran her own wedding and bridal accessories shop from her home for more than five years. Laura will focus on clients in Shrewsbury, Millbury, Sutton, Bellingham, Franklin, Wrentham, Blackstone, Uxbridge, Hopedale, Milford, Whitinsville, Upton, Northbridge, Mendon, Plainville, Attleboro, and North Attleboro.
Laura's e-mail is

These four join:
* Susan Beaudry, who covers Worcester and Northern Worcester County, including Fitchburg, Leominster, & Gardner. Sue's e-mail is

* Terry Dayhoff, who covers MetroWest, including Framingham, Newton, & Needham, as well as Boston, and other Eastern Massachusetts communities south of the Massachusetts Pike. Terry's e-mail is

* Deb Pillsbury, who covers Southern Worcester County from Auburn through Sturbridge and intro Western Massachusetts. Deb's e-mail is

For more information on advertising with Bay State Parent magazine, visit:

Elmo Helps Kids Cope With Deployed Parents

Over half a million children under the age of 5 are waiting for their active duty, Guard or Reserve, mother or father to come home - the most since World War II. The producers of Sesame Street, along with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, have responded with a television special geared to address the challenges military families face with deployment. This primetime special, hosted by Cuba Gooding, Jr. captures the extraordinary courage and touching vulnerability of both parents and children. In recognition of April as the “Month of the Military Child,” PBS will air a special encore presentation of When Parents are Deployed tonight (April 9).
If you miss the special airing tonight or want to watch it a a more convenient time with your child, the entire program can be viewed online at

The special builds upon Sesame Workshop's recent educational outreach program produced in partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment.
Compelling research illustrates how Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, has been successful in helping children cope with the challenges of military deployment.
In July 2006, Sesame Workshop launched Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment, a bilingual, multi-media outreach kit developed to provide tools and ideas to parents and caregivers on how to help children cope with the process of deployment.
Findings from the survey including a national sample of 367 spouses of active duty, National Guard and Reserves personnel from all five branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard), indicated that after four weeks of exposure to the kit:
* More than 80 percent of families rated the kit as highly appealing, effective, and comprehensible for adults and children.
* Families expressed increased comfort levels in helping children cope with current and future deployments by utilizing suggestions and strategies from the materials.
* Parents reported feeling less depressed and hopeless.
* Families reported that their children exhibited fewer negative behaviors and an increase in constructive family interactions about deployment.
“The evaluation data strongly supports that parents appreciate and want resources on how to support their young children during deployments. I am so pleased that Sesame Workshop undertook this effort to support military parents of young children, and I am especially pleased that careful evaluation was part of the effort from the very beginning,” stated Shelley MacDermid, Ph.D., co-Director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. “The thoughtfulness with which the developers sought guidance from researchers and other experts as the materials were constructed was instrumental to their success, and today’s findings speak for themselves.”
The Talk, Listen, Connect materials include a DVD for children and adults featuring the Muppets from Sesame Street; a poster for children; and a magazine for children, parents and caregivers that addresses the challenges and concerns experienced during various phases of deployment (pre-deployment, deployment and homecoming).

The kits were distributed to military families by The Department of Defense through Military OneSource various outlets at no cost.
In just the first two weeks of distribution, more than 100,000 requests for kits were received and interest continues each day.
The Talk, Listen, Connect kits are also available online at, where streaming video is being provided by The Department of Defense Quality of Life Information Technology Center.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Laurie's Got a Pig On Her Head!

Noggin-TV famed singer & bestselling children's recording artist Laurie Berkner and her band performed two sold out shows today at The Opera House in Boston. Children were wearing silly hats and animals on their heads the entire hour-long show --- Whaddaya Think of That? Following both performances, The Laurie Berkner Band did 15-20 minute encores, including the song I Really Love to Dance, which got most of the audience under age 10 up and on their feet in the aisles. The band took the stage and jumped right into the best-selling repertoire with a fun rendition of Victor Vito. Next, they performed Bumble Bee, a song from one of their platinum albums Buzz, Buzz. (CD & DVDs are available at the band's Web site at :

Berkner, who said she hasn't been in Boston performing since she gave birth to her daughter Lucy, 2.5 years ago, was energetic and engaging with the family-friendly audience. The hip mama, dressed in stylish duds, stomped like a dinosaur, pretended to sleep on the stage, and sang all of her favorite songs, including those featured on Noggin-TV show Jack's Big Music, which is now in its second season. The popular series is releasing its first CD of music Tuesday, April 10. It is available at Amazon ( Laurie sang I'm Gonna Catch You and I'm Not Perfect from the TV series.

More than 5, 000 people attended the two shows on Saturday from several New England states. One woman waiting for the doors to open with us, came down from Kennebunkport, Maine.

Friday, April 6, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Laurie Berkner Concert Tickets Available

We've just learned that there are a few tickets available for tomorrow's 11 a.m. concert featuring The Laurie Berkner Band at The Opera House in Boston Saturday, April 7. The two shows sold out months ago, but yesterday a few tickets were released to the public. Calendar Editor Carrie Wattu interviewed the "preschoolers' rock star" on her music, being a mom, and juggling career and family inside the April issue of Bay State Parent. (You can read Carrie's interview at:

Carrie & I will both be attending the second of two shows on Saturday.
We'll be taking photos for the magazine's photo gallery and blogging about the concerts.
Ushers will be distributing copies of our April issue, which features the Berkner interview, at both the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. shows

Tickets for the one-hour show are $25-$35 and can be purchased by going to:

photo by michelle pedone

Fantastic Day in Boston Sports Today

Okay, I'm not a huge baseball fan, but who in Boston didn't want to see Dice-K win his first game in a Red Sox uniform. This afternoon, he struck out 10 batters in 7 innings, as the team went on to win 4-1 over the Kansas City Royals. Perhaps, Daisuke Matsuzaka is truly worth the $100+ million the Red Sox paid for him.

And tonight, Boston College's men's hockey team outscored North Dakota 6-4, to advance to the NCAA Championship game Saturday night. After two periods, the two teams, who have met several times at the Frozen Four in the past five years were tied 2-2. With seven minutes to go, Boston College and North Dakota scored 6 goals - three goals in the final minute. (Even, non-hockey fans love that type of shoot out.)
BC will face off against Michigan State for the right to be #1.

Sports are a terrific activity for children.
Not only do they teach children lessons on teamwork, winning & losing, and self-esteem; sports can help children to manage time and support a healthy lifestyle.
Considering the alarming statistics on childhood obesity (Check out Bay State Parent's special report:, sports is an ideal way to get children off the couch, away from video games, and actually exercising.

One of the most popular sports for boys & girls in Massachusetts, under the age of 13, is not baseball nor hockey, but soccer.
According to the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association (, more than 185,000 children in Massachusetts play youth soccer annually. Many community soccer programs will begin its spring season this month.
To learn more about soccer's popularity in Massachusetts, check out the magazine's report last fall:

In the meantime, here's hoping for the Red Sox to win another World Series and for my alma mater to win another national hockey title. Go BC!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

ZOO CONTEST: Name the Baby Tapir at The Franklin Park Zoo

Help The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston name the new male baby Baird’s tapir. The winning entry will receive a coveted behind-the-scenes tour of Franklin Park Zoo, including a chance to see where the baby spends its nights, and a one year “Zoodoption” of this species. The baby was born to Milton, a 16-year-old male, and Abby, a 3-year-old female. There are four species of tapir in the world. The species exhibited at Franklin Park Zoo is called the Baird’s tapir, named after the American naturalist who observed the animals in the mid 1800s. Baird’s tapirs are the second largest tapir in the world, second only to the Asian variety, and they are the largest land mammal found in the wild from Mexico to South America. Tapirs are considered endangered in the wild. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development.

Entries will be accepted through Sunday, April 15.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday, April 18, 2007
To enter the baby naming contest, please send an e-mail to with your name suggestion and contact information.

Please visit for more information or to plan a trip.

RECALL: Disney Princess Easter Baskets From Wal-Mart

Gemmy Industries Corp. Recalls Disney Plush Easter Baskets Sold at Wal-Mart Due to Choking Hazard. In cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Texas company recalled about 8,500 Disney Princesses Easter Baskets. Silver beads and ribbons attached to the basket can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. There were no reported injuries or incidents. The product is a pink and purple plush Easter basket decorated with silver beads and ribbons. “Disney Princesses” is written on top of the basket. Pictures of the princesses are on the front of the basket. The basket measures about 10-inches high by 8-inches wide. They were sold at Wal-Mart stores nationwide from February through March 2007 for about $10.
Consumers should take the Easter basket away from young children immediately and remove the beads and ribbons to prevent the choking hazard. Consumers also can return the item to the nearest Wal-Mart store for a full refund.
For additional information, please contact Gemmy Industries at 800- 231-6879 between 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Web site at

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Easter Egg Hunt at Belkin Family Lookout Farm

WHAT: The Easter Bunny will make a special stop at Belkin Family Lookout Farm Saturday to hide Easter eggs for kids and pose for pictures. Children can also partake in crafts and face painting. There will be special prizes for Moms and Dads too!
WHEN: Saturday, April 7th from 10 a.m. to noon (Photos are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
WHERE: Belkin Family Lookout Farm, The Farm Market & Garden Center, 89 Pleasant St. in South Natick
COST: Egg hunt & crafts are FREE. Photos with Easter Bunny are $5 each.
Belkin Family Lookout Farm has been in operation since 1651, and is one of the oldest continuously working farms in the United States. Lookout Farm grows a variety of fruit and organic vegetables, creating the most nutritious and tasty produce possible. Joan and Steve Belkin purchased the 180-acre farm in 2005, and their family is dedicated to continuing 350 years of farm tradition for future generations

Check out what's inside the April issue of Bay State Parent magazine at:

RECALL: Target Recalls Activity Cart Due to Chocking Hazard

Target voluntarily recalled about 18,500 Little Tree Wood Acativity Cart Toys The following product safety recall was voluntarily conducted by the firm in cooperation with the Consumer Protection Safety Commission today Consumers should stop using the product made by Hong Kong Toy Centre immediately unless otherwise instructed. The orange hubcaps on the wheel of the cart can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. Target has reported seven incidents of the hubcaps detaching. No injuries have been reported.
The recall involves Little Tree wooden activity cart toys. This is a multi-colored cart with an orange seat and a wooden tray. The cart has apple trees, a blue fence, and red, blue and green flowers painted on one side. The cart also has a wooden sheep, dog and horse affixed to that same side. The other side of the cart contains a board with multi-colored wooden magnets.
The carts were sold at Target stores nationwide from July 2006 through March 2007 and on from October 2006 through February 2007 for about $20.
Consumers should take the toy away from children and return the item to any Target store for a full refund. For additional information, please contact Target at 800-440-0680 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday, or visit the Web site at

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April Hail? April Sleet? I Think I'd Prefer Snow!

Okay, I hate the rain!
I have never been a fan of it.
But this morning's weather was worse than rain.
I had just dropped my daughter off at school this morning, when it started hailing & then sleeting ice.
I know it's April, but I'll take a couple of inches of the white fluffy snow rather than this cold icy rain hitting me and my car this morning.
Better yet, I'm sure it won't be long before I encounter one of those hot, hazy, humid 90 degree-plus days.
Because as most Bay Staters know ...
It's not April Showers Bring May Flowers but rather ...
long, cold winters, followed by long, cold rain storms, and then unbearable heat.
Spring, TYPICALLY, rarely makes an appearance here in Massachusetts.
It must be why Autumn is my favorite season!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Kids Take Webkinz Rumors to Heart

When I picked my fourth-grade son up after school last week, he had news for his little sisters. They hurried along to keep up with their long-legged brother – his words came as fast as his stride. Webkinz World was under attack, he said. A virus was spreading through the website that could kill their Webkinz. Forever. Yes, he was sure. No, they wouldn’t be able to reactivate the pets. Everyone was talking about it. Kids who really knew what they were talking about when it comes to Webkinz, he said.

Naturally, my daughters (ages 4 and 6) were visibly traumatized to think that something could happen to their special “pets.” In just a few months, they have gotten attached to their Webkinz. Having that link with the virtual pets on Webkinz World – feeding them, taking them to the vet, setting up rooms for them – has increased their attachment to the Webkinz stuffed animals they carry around with them. Taking care of the pets in the virtual world makes them seem just a little more real than the other stuffies that fill their room. (

So hearing that something was out to destroy their pets was upsetting, to say the least.

They cornered my husband as soon as he walked in the door that night. They knew he’d get to the bottom of it quickly, and it didn’t take much digging on his part. Right there on the Webkinz World homepage, there is a corner called “Webkinz Bulletinz.” Apparently, the tall tale didn’t start in our small town’s elementary schools after all.

The website assures users that Webkinz World is “a safe, happy and fun place to play” and that the stories are just rumors.

“Many people have been writing in, asking about a rumor that is going around,” the message states. “The rumor is about something in Webkinz World hurting Webkinz pets. The most important thing to know is that this rumor is not true at all. Nothing in Webkinz World would ever hurt your Webkinz pets.”

My husband was the hero of the day when he gave them the straight story.

But it’s hard for young children to truly understand the difference between the virtual world and the real one. They know their Webkinz will get sick if they don’t feed them every few days and put them to bed before they log off the site. That’s part of the system. The kids play games to earn money to take care of their pets. If they don’t take care of them, they don’t stay healthy and happy. If they get sick, according to the logic of my daughters, then why can’t they die? The fact that it’s all make-believe doesn’t factor into their thought process. They needed it explained. A couple of times.

The part that was hard for them to understand? Why anyone would want to scare them like that.

And that’s one question I had no good answer for.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Arthur-Famed Author/Illustrator Takes on Childhood Obesity

Famed childhood authors Rosemary Wells (Max & Ruby) and Marc Brown (Arthur) have teamed up to tackle the family obesity problem in this country through a new children's book The Gulps. About 60 million Americans, or 30% of the adult population, are considered obese by the U.S. government. Since 1980, overweight rates have doubles with children and triples with teens, according to the Center for Disease Control. Statistically, 45 out of every 100 elementary-aged children are overweight or obese. Created over dinner on the Vineyard, the book is written by Wells, a Connecticut resident and self-proclaimed vegetable addict. In fact, one of her daughters is a chef and the other is an organic farmer. Illustrated by Brown, the book tells a tale of an overweight family off for a roadtrip. The plump, sedentary family, with the exception of the youngest daughter, packs the car with cartons of junk food and even stops at a drive-thru fast food restaurant for a snack. The Gulps adventure hits a roadblock when the car refuses to go. The youngest child declares the family is just to fat to roll. A friendly farmer family invites the Gulps to stay at their home and have dinner - vegetable fare. The family is horrified but through a series of more mishaps in the farm and at a country fair, the Gulps learn that exercise and healthy foods make for more family fun. The book is an innovative way to tackle nutrition and obesity with children in preschool & kindergarten.
The hardcover book will hit bookstores this week, (Little Brown Young Readers, $16.99). The book can be ordered online at or

I posed questions to Brown about his new book with Wells, his beloved Arthur character, and his love of Massachusetts inside the March issue of Bay State Parent magazine.

Parent: How do you think The Gulps can help to combat this country's childhood obesity problem?
Marc: "We hope that by reaching young children, perhaps it will help them think early on about the choices they are making."
Parent: Truthfully, what is your junk food of pleasure?

To find our Marc's answer and to read more of the interview visit: