Saturday, June 23, 2007

July Issue at the Printers!

The July issue was shipped to the printers yesterday. Look for it to be at your favorite locations by next weekend. Bay State Parent magazine is at more than 850 locations in Eastern & Central Massachusetts. This issue features our 8th Annual Day Trip Guide, including a review of CoCo Key Water Resort, which is where the cover shot was captured.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Landscape of the Playground

The Landscape of the Playground

Sadness in my heart…profound

Ripping, tearing, sinking, deepening

As my sweet, angelic toddler

Sits alone

Sits alone…content

Preoccupied with crushed stone

Examining, scrutinizing

Sorting and counting

Sorting and counting…stones

Her back to the others

Peers, frolicking and laughing

On jungle gyms and slides

On jungle gyms and slides…together

Save one

Each enjoying

The landscape of the playground.

Talk to Your Children About NOT Smoking!

Summertime is upon us. School is out and children are excited to get outdoors and enjoy time with their friends. With more free time comes more opportunities to be unsupervised, but with these freedoms come risks of which all parents should be aware.
Many children this summer will be approached with the opportunity to try their first cigarette. While it is unrealistic for parents to supervise their children every moment of every day this summer, your values and beliefs should be known and understood. That is why now is an ideal time for parents to talk to their children about how they feel about smoking and other negative behaviors.
Dr. Michael Popkin, author, parenting expert, and spokesman for Talk Early, Talk Often, Lorillard Tobacco Company's Youth Smoking Prevention Program, says children are trying their first cigarette as early as age 8, with the majority trying it between the ages of 12 to 14.
Most of these children are approached by a friend who they consider to be “cool” and therefore has influence on their decisions. Popkin recommends establishing clear guidelines for your child’s behavior.
“Taking the time to sit with your child and agree on clear guidelines for behavior can pay off greatly when your child has to make a choice about whether or not to try smoking,” says Popkin. “I use the term ‘problem-prevention talk’ which is a dialog between you and your child that makes your expectations of him or her very clear.”

The problem-prevention talk consists of five steps:
1. Identify potential problems and risks.
2. Share your thoughts and feelings about these problems and acknowledge your child’s thoughts and feelings.
3. Generate guidelines through brainstorming and negotiations (within limits that you can live with).
4. Decide on logical consequences for violating the guidelines (if necessary).
5. Follow up to ensure that guidelines were followed and to enforce consequences (if necessary).

Creating a written contract between you and your child that clearly lists your expectations and the logical consequences that you will apply if these expectations are not met is another suggestion made by Popkin. “Written contracts ensure there is no miscommunication about your child’s decision not to smoke,” says Popkin.
Dr. Popkin is one of the nation’s foremost experts on parenting education. His work with
Lorillard Tobacco’s Talk Early, Talk Often initiative is part of his 25 years of experience helping families communicate about tough topics like smoking. He is also founder of Active Parenting Publishers, and author of many award-winning parenting education videos and books, including the recently published Taming the Spirited Child.
Parents are encouraged to visit to prepare them for their conversations with their children. On this Web site parents will find talking tips, warning signs, age-specific advice, further parenting advice from Dr. Popkin and more. A free, practical how-to guide may also be downloaded at the Web site.

Is It Autism?

The following is a glimpse back in time, written when our family was just starting our journey into Autism --- April 2005.

Is it Autism?

“We can’t diagnose,” is the answer to the question it has taken me days, weeks, months to build up the courage to ask. The question is perhaps the most important one I have uttered in my 42 years. Certainly, it is the most important question I’ve posed in reference to one of my three children. The response to this life-altering, possibly life-shattering question is a non-answer.

Prior to the meeting, I had braced myself for what I might hear. There is so much truth in the saying about not asking a question if you are unprepared to hear the true answer. I knew that a “yes” would have indeed made me crumble within, and that a “no” would have brought with it profound relief. But, the unexpected, the non-answer, was not anything for which I was prepared, and it left me numb and afraid, alone and confused.

In no way do I intend or wish to place blame upon these Early Intervention professionals for being truthful about their inability to answer my question. They have been wonderful to my child and to me, and I understand that legally, no one who works with children can officially diagnose autism without a medical degree in hand. So when I (and I assume many other concerned parents) approach them with, “Is it Autism?” they must answer the non-answer required of them, and then help us and our children in the best way they can.

However, as the mother of a beautiful, sweet, loving two-year-old girl with white-blond hair and sparkling blue eyes, who is at the least language delayed, and perhaps communication and socially delayed, or possibly worse, I’m actually looking more for their opinions, and yes, maybe their reassurance, after eight months of observing and working with my daughter, than an actual medical diagnosis.

“What do you think?” is what I’m searching for, struggling with the fact that they can’t, even if they want to, tell me their opinions, beliefs or thoughts specific to this disorder, this possible life sentence, as it pertains to my child, my little girl. I assume, though do not know for certain, that the state or whoever mandates what can and cannot be said to parents, must fear lawsuits if employees make certain inaccurate or misconstrued utterances.

Our Concern

Thinking back, I believe that I was somewhat concerned about our daughter’s development when she was about a year old. Becky was always quieter than my other two children had been. She was somewhat listless, and content to play alone with her nesting or stacking cups. She took several months to really begin to walk “smoothly,” without appearing to be slightly off-balance. People would even comment about the “cute” way she had of toddling, months after she had taken her first steps.

Although a happy, smiling child who laughed a lot, she did not interact with people the way we expected. She didn’t respond when her name was called, though she’d react to other sounds, so we did not believe that she had a hearing problem. She did not pay attention to things that you might expect a toddler to notice like our two cats that were always around her. She ambled around them as if they were not there, whereas we were always used to cats running for the hills in fear of their very lives when approached by other children. The felines knew they had nothing to fear from Becky.

Current Services

Currently, Becky receives two home visits a week from Early Intervention providers, and she attends a morning playgroup once a week through the same program. She qualified for these services over six months ago, after I expressed concern to her pediatrician that she was not speaking or communicating in quite the way I expected she would. At eighteen months old, she regressed in her babbling and interactions from what she had been doing at one year. We no longer heard “da da” or “ba ba,” she stopped responding to her name, and games of peek-a-boo were a thing of the past.

Our pediatrician encouraged us to call the local Early Intervention Program to have Becky evaluated. Three professionals promptly visited our home, observed Becky at play in her familiar surroundings, quickly determining that she did indeed have a developmental delay. They welcomed us into their program which works with children, as deemed necessary, up to their third birthday.

We are extremely pleased with her progress thus far. Besides being delightful and funny, Becky is better able to interact with others, attend to partner or group play for a longer period of time, approximate a few words, sing along with songs, and use limited sign language.

Early Intervention Professionals work with Becky in our home environment so the she is comfortable, at ease, and, therefore willing to interact and learn. She has a lot of fun during their visits and learns through play. The visits are valuable to me, also, because, as an observer or participant, I learn ways to help my child. These Occupational and Speech Therapists have a wealth of knowledge and are available to answer questions and give advice.

The Waiting Game

At the suggestion of the Occupational Therapist, we made an appointment several months ago with a local Infant/Toddler Clinic to have Becky’s overall health evaluated. These doctors are the appropriate professionals for diagnosing Autism in very young children. But, since her appointment with this clinic is still four months away (there is a very long wait to get an appointment here) her third birthday will be just around the corner.

At three years old, the current services to which Becky would be entitled transfer from state mandate to that of our home town. If she does indeed have Autism or Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD), valuable time and services will be lost by waiting these next few months.

After the frightening non-answers to my questions about Autism, I was informed about some other evaluation options available to us. A study of very young children with Autism and its effects on their families is being conducted at Boston University. After briefly researching this Child and Family Project and contacting the sponsors, my husband and I have decided to take part. Within the next month, we’ll be interviewed at our home and fill out extensive written questionnaires pertaining to Becky’s overall development and her abilities up to this point. Becky will be observed and videotaped at play during a child visit to the university.

After we’ve completed these three aspects of the study (the parent interview, the questionnaires, and the child visit), the sponsors will evaluate the data and provide us with a preliminary diagnosis. If she is found to have Autism, we will participate in the study for the next four years to help researchers gather enough data to draw conclusions about the effect of Autism on families.

The purpose of seeking a diagnosis for Becky is two-fold. For the researchers, a diagnosis means another child for their study, of which they currently have 75, with the intention of including 300. The more children studied, the more accurate the data and conclusions, and hopefully, more knowledge and understanding of this, as yet mysterious, disorder.

For our family, a diagnosis entitles Becky to a much wider array of services to help her learn to communicate well. As I watch my bright, funny, sweet toddler at play, I know that I will do for her whatever is necessary so that she may have a happy, meaningful, successful life. The service programs through EI are intended to help children under three year’s old work toward their potential at a much earlier stage in life than most children with Autism have in the past.

This more intense “earlier intervention” is seen as a huge step in assisting young children with Autism. As I understand it, the professionals believe that early, high-quality, individualized education greatly increases a child’s chance of making significant progress toward a higher life potential.

What to Wish For

In most situations, as a parent, I would wish for the answer regarding any type of diagnosis for my child to be negative. In this case, however, I don’t actually know what to wish for. If Becky is found to be on the Autism Spectrum, I will have hope that her communication skills will improve through professional intervention, parent education programs, and lots of time and hard work (and play).

If, however, the professionals determine that she is not in these categories, we are left with the question, “What is wrong and how do we go about helping her?”

In addition, although no one has yet given a definitive diagnosis or opinion as to the cause of Becky’s delay, it is apparent to me, through what I have read, observed, been told, and been advised to do, that Autism is a strong probability. And, since the people I have come to trust, who work daily with children who are on the Autism Spectrum, appear quietly concerned about my daughter, I will continue researching and asking questions until the answers start to make sense.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This is a test

My son wakes up from his nap, crying.

I go into his room, and discover it's real crying, not the I-heard-kids-outside-playing-and-now-I-want-to-get-up-and-play-too crying, but real tears, and real anxiety.

"Joe* hit you," he says and reaches out for a hug.

He doesn't quite understand the concept of "I" yet. So, no, Joe hasn't, in fact, hit me. Joe is a 2-year-old boy in our playgroup that has, though, been hitting and pushing my son on a rather consistent basis.

My first test of confronting someone else's parenting - and I have failed miserably.

Now, Joe is two. I know this. And I also know that 2-year-old's experiment with expressing their emotions and pushing buttons and all of that. In fact, this very afternoon I have experienced it with my own son when, out to lunch at a regular hangout of ours, he knocked over their ALPHABETIZED box of frequent-buyer cards on the counter THEN swiped his entire lunch onto the floor.

The hitting isn't what necessarily bothers me. (Well, it does. But I get it.) What really gets me though is that Joe's mom, at the end of the playgroup, when everyone is leaving, smothers her son with compliments. "Joe, you did a really good job sharing today." Or "Joe, you were so good today."

Is she kidding me?

(In all fairness, she does tell him "No" when he's in the middle of handing my son a smackdown. However, his "scolding" is accompanied by snuggles and hugs and a drink of milk.)

The first time it happened, the mother approached me outside of playgroup and apologized for her son's actions. She told me that she didn't really believe in punishing her son though, because she didn't want him to associate socializing with a negative experience. I didn't really know how to react to that. So, all I said was, "Okay."

When it happened this last time, what I should have done was say something, albeit tactfully, right then and there. "You know, Kate*, Joe is being a bit aggressive. Maybe he needs to sit out for a bit."

See how easy that would have been?

But in the playgroup dynamic, it's really not. Parents, especially mothers, are not down with criticizing OPP - Other People's Parenting. A form of pint-sized political correctness, if you will. And I, apparently, am the biggest wimp of all.

My husband says he doesn't understand women. If it were him, "You bet your [you-know-what] I would have said something," he says.

And when I sit and think about it, I get just a little bit angrier each time. I should have said something, but instead, I have considered dropping out of the whole darn thing and avoiding any hint of confrontation or controversy. It's summer anyway, and there's the beach, and the boardwalk, and parks and playgrounds to tackle.

But, should I drop out?

Being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I, as well as my son, crave the social interaction playgroup provides. And, for the most part, the kids get along just fine. And, for the most part, so do the moms.

In the end, I guess I know what I have to do. I just wonder if I am man enough to do it.

*Names have been changed to protect the offender and his family.

Contest Winner: Baby Giraffe Gets a name!

The Baby Giraffe born on May 5 at the Roger Williams Park Zoo has a new name.
It is ... MTEMBEI (pronounced "mu-TEM-bay") Swahili for "one who roams."
The Wojtyszyn family of North Kingstown, Rhode Island submitted the winning name.
The name was selected by zoo officials from the more than 5,000+ entries submitted in a Giraffe Calf Naming Contest in June. The winning family will receive a family membership to the zoo, a framed photo of the calf, and a "Meet the Zookeeper" experience.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is operated and maintained by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Campout in Your Own Backyard!

Great American Backyard Campout - June 23, 2007 Connect with nature in your own backyard! It's easy when you join in National Wildlife Federation's 3rd annual Great American Backyard Campout™, Saturday, June 23. Spend time gazing at the stars, listening for the sounds of nocturnal animals, and swapping stories by the light of the lantern or campfire. And what's a night of camping without s'mores? Camping out in the yard is so easy, anyone can do it- even first-timers! Gather the kids, grandkids, neighbors and friends to join in the fun. Last year thousands across the country united for this great event. Go online to register your campsite, share information with other backyard campers and find group campouts in your area.

Inside the June issue of Bay State Parent magazine, we take an in-depth look at Nature Deficit Disorder. Read writer Jennifer Lefferts report by visiting the magazine's Web site at or pick up a copy of the magazine at more than 850 locations in Eastern & Central Massachusetts.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Then, Now and Who Knows?

"Have you ever had a weekend that was so wonderful it felt like a week, Mom?" Kaitlyn asks. She has just returned home from her very first trip away with a friend and now I am watching my daughter mature before my very eyes.
With half of a smile I answer, "Yes, dear, I have." But she isn't listening, she is too consumed with deatails... "And we stayed up talking until midnight...oh, and we went to a dance and five boys asked me to dance with them." She watches my expression. "But, I said no," she adds with a sympathetic smile that tells me she is reading my mind.
I am trying desperately to remember the baby I once held not so long ago, recalling promises I made to be the best mother ever. I had always heard that children eventually grow up, but thinking backto those early years there was no tangible evidence...she was my baby and that was how it was supposed to stay.
Fast forward some fourteen years and here we stand, in the kitchen, talking about boys and dancing. It is now that I realize, I am losing her s-l-o-w-l-y.
"We walked on the beach and ate french fries...I even tipped the waitress!" She smiles. At the very least I have taught her to be respectful.
"Kate, it's going on ten o'clock," I say, faking a yawn. Subconciously, I am trying to persuade her into feeling tired, but it is not working. She has too much to share.
"I even got my picture in the newspaper," she continues. "I was stringing beads onto this bracelet and a reporter asked me if she could take my picture with the store owner looking on..."
I manage, "Boy, you did get to see and do a whole lot."
"And, Mom?"...Well,... I missed you," her voice fades.
Suddenly I'm not so tired anymore. My eyes are stinging though, as I try to hide the tears. "Oh Sweetie," I blubber. "I missed you too...I didn't know what to do with myself...I kept going into your room, but you weren't there...I kept trying to find something to keep me busy and..."
Here is when Kaitlyn yawns. A real yawn that tells me she is beginning to feel the effects of her busy weekend.
I look at her sleepy eyes and am again reminded of the tiny baby who kept me up many nights silently conversing with me through stares and blinks. Those conversations melted my heart then, just as her new ones do now. She is growing up, I tell myself, but she is also taking me along...
"Let's go to bed, Katie," I say. Arm in arm, we head toward the staircase.
Tonight, I am sure, we both will dream of conversations about boys, beaches and frenchfries.

But He is Only 2 Years Old

Recently, a fellow mother and good friend of mine suggested that my son, just barely two, was gifted.

As proof, she cited an article she'd read on a popular parenting Web site, and over a cup of coffee, while our kids stuck a plastic potato with plastic body parts, she revealed some of the characteristics of a toddler with potentially above-average intelligence: bigger than average vocabulary; concentration almost to obsessive levels and constant outward signs of frustration, such as throwing said plastic body parts across the room - this last one because their little minds sometimes work faster than they can express.

This did sound like my son, but doesn't it sound like lots of 2-year-olds you know? Though I dismissed my friend's assertion - after all, at the varying rates at which children of this age develop, how can you determine a two-year-old is gifted? - I did so with the fervor with which one refuses a second helping of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner.

"It wouldn't surprise me, since you were," my friend said.

I'd almost forgotten. And I swear this is not a thinly-veiled attempt to reveal my own early-identified intelligence. But I did have my brief shining moment in the sun when I was chosen to participate in a "gifted and talented" program in elementary school. Now, her suggestion was making some sense.

But still, I ultimately dismissed it as pure silliness.

Later that afternoon, however, as my son napped and I attempted to work, I found myself reading from the National Association for Gifted Children Web site, clicking through pages of informal assessments to determine if a child is indeed gifted. I didn't let it last long, though, as I had a deadline to meet. Not to mention that I couldn't find any information about children my son's age.

That night, I told my husband about my friend's thoughts. He rolled his eyes. "Let him be a kid," he said.

Now, I am definitely NOT the type of parent who already has dreams of her toddler going to Harvard (although I wouldn't mind it, of course, except for the tuition bills) or thinks that the only way my child will succeed in life is by taking an entrance exam for an expensive private preschool, but still I asked, "Well, what if he is? Shouldn't we encourage it?"

I knew this was ridiculous. And as I said it, a smile spread across my lips. I've always been a big believer in not rushing things. And, he is only two. But. What if?

"Let him be a kid," my husband said again in a tone that signified, for him, the conversation about our potential Einstein was over. I didn't argue, because I agreed with him.

But it did make me think about how I will approach issues like this as my son grows older. Do I encourage the characteristics and talents I see him developing, or, let them unfold naturally, so that there is no outside pressure or expectation? A long time ago, I promised myself I would not be a pushy parent, so I think I'll choose to let whatever it is, as long as there's something, unfold, and, when it's right, when he asks or shows true passion for something appropriate, I'll step in, and help him in whatever way I can.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

More Dads Staying Home....

A new federal report says more than 155,000 dads are now stay-at-home dads.
That means the number of dads who stay home and take care of their children has tripled in the last decade.
This figure doesn't even factor in single dads, two-dads families, and those dads who now work flex-time to spend more time with their children.

We here at Bay State Parent magazine, recognized this growing trend of more dads staying home last year with our Father's Day feature article in the June 2006 issue.
Check out the article at:

Independence Day Celebrations in June

Here are a few Independence Day fireworks & celebrations that missed our June print edition:

June 23: Upton is holding a Fireworks Festival at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School on 65 Pleasant St. in Upton. Shuttles from the Center will run from 2 - 11 p.m. Enjoy food, rides, entertainment, a car show, and fireworks at dusk.

June 24: Millbury's parade will begin at 1 p.m. Fireworks will be held after dusk on July 3 & 4. Rain Date: July 5

June 29: Grafton will hold fireworks over Lake Ripple at dusk.

June 29: Westboro is celebrating from 6 - 10 p.m. with a Block Dance in front of Town Hall, featuring the band Tailspin. Enjoy hayrides, a magician, pond rides, food and more.

June 30: Auburn is holding a parade at 11 a.m. from Auburn St. to the Horgan Rink. Skydivers will be landing on Lemansky Park (opposite the rink) between 1 - 1:30 p.m. There will be games for kids, trike and bike decorating contests, and food booths. Fireworks will be at 9:30 p.m. in the park with a July 7th rain date. 508-832-3581.

For a complete listing of Independence Day celebrations, check out this blog and the magazine's web site at

Thursday, June 14, 2007

RECALL: Thomas the Train wooden toys

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of various Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys. The recall involves wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components for young children listed in the chart below. The front of the packaging has the logo "Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway" on the upper left-hand corner. A manufacturing code may be located on the bottom of the product or inside the battery cover. Toys marked with codes containing "WJ" or "AZ" are not included in this recall. Recalled Product Name Red James Engine & Red James' # 5 Coal Tender Red Lights & Sounds James Engine & Red James' #5 Lights & Sounds Coal Tender James with Team Colors Engine & James with Team Colors #5 Coal Tender Red Skarloey Engine Brown & Yellow Old Slow Coach Red Hook & Ladder Truck & Red Water Tanker Truck Red Musical Caboose Red Sodor Line Caboose Red Coal Car labeled "2006 Day Out With Thomas" on the Side Red Baggage Car Red Holiday Caboose Red "Sodor Mail" Car Red Fire Brigade Truck Red Fire Brigade Train Deluxe Sodor Fire Station Red Coal Car Yellow Box Car Red Stop Sign Yellow Railroad Crossing Sign Yellow "Sodor Cargo Company" Cargo Piece Smelting Yard Ice Cream Factory They were sold at toy stores and various retailers nationwide from January 2005 through June 2007 for between $10 and $70.
Consumers should take the recalled toys away from young children immediately and contact RC2 Corp. for a replacement toy. For additional information, contact RC2 Corp. toll-free at 866-725-4407 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Central time Monday through Thursday and between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Central time Friday, or visit

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Art Beat: The Creativity Store Opens Second Location in Franklin on June 16

ArtBeat: The Creativity Store will open its second location in the Bay State this Saturday, June 16 in Franklin. “ARTBEAT The Creativity Store is a place where inspiration and creativity intersect,” says owner Jan Whitted. “For over 11 years we have enriched family experiences around the arts in Arlington and now we offer the same opportunity to parents in the southern and MetroWest areas. Here in rooms awash in lively color you’ll find art supplies, handmade gifts, toys and project kits for children and adults as well as inspirational and how-to books that will inspire people to think creatively about their lives.”
“At ARTBEAT, we will show you how to structure fun activities and create family memories,” says Andrai Whitted, a resident of Bellingham and father of three young children. “We want families to think of us as a unique family resource where we make it easy for young and old alike to create. By the end of an art studio visit, everyone will have a treasure to take home or to give as a gift.”
Located at the corner of Summer Street and Route 140, the walk-in art studio will offer a featured art project for children 8 and older (younger if accompanied by an adult) every Saturday. ARTBEAT will be open for children and adult parties and can accommodate private parties of up to 15.

Saturday's Grand opening schedule (all events FREE):
11 a.m.: Kids’ craft project­ Fancy Flowers
Noon: Face Painting
1 p.m.: Musical entertainment and sing-along with Ben Rudnick and Friends
3 p.m.: Kids’ craft project­ Sand Magnets

ARTBEAT will be open seven days a week: Sunday and Monday from noon to 6 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit to find descriptions of upcoming events and store information.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: FirstWorksKids Festival in Providence

Providence, Rhode Island will play host to the FirstWorksKids Festival this week. The festival line-up features over 30 artists in performances and workshops, a rollicking parade, and two free shows by 2007 Grammy-winner Dan Zanes and Friends.
The 4th Annual FirstWorksKids Festival promises a cross-cultural jamboree loaded with dance, music and fun drawn from the four corners of the globe and the rich diversity of the Providence community.
The all-FREE FirstWorksKids Festival takes place from Market Square (Main & College Streets) to Benefit Street to Waterplace Park in downtown Providence, June 16th performances start at 1 p.m. and conclude with the Family Fiesta Finale beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Waterplace Park.
A “Sneak-Peek” dance demonstration by Lydia Perez and the Bombitas on Friday night, June 15 from 5-7 kicks off the festival at the Providence Children’s Museum.
Zanes will perform two high-energy shows at the RISD Auditorium at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 16. Tickets are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis at the box office, which opens at 12 noon for both shows. Limit four tickets per person. (Note: last year’s shows sold-out).
“FirstWorksKids celebrates the richness of this city’s diverse cultural landscape,” says Lynne McCormack, director of the Providence Department of Art, Culture, and Tourism. “The festival showcases local and global performing artists, truly bringing the world to our doorstep.”

FirstWorksKids 2007 Schedule
* 1:00, 4:00 pm Dan Zanes and Friends RISD Auditorium, College and Main Streets All ages. Tickets free but will go fast. Box office opens at 12 noon for both shows. Four tickets per person limit.
* 1:00, 2:30 pm Akwaaba African Drum and Dance Ensemble, College Street Stage
* 2:00, 3:30 pm Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre,
RISD Museum
* 1:30, 3:30 pm Grand Falloons, “Cirque Menagerie” Benefit Street, Frazier Terrace Stage
* 1:30, 3:15 pm Leonard FourHawks, Native American storytelling, Benefit Street, Farago Entrance to RISD Museum
* 1 – 5 pm Outdoor performances, including Opera Outside Inside Out, What Cheer? Marching Brigade, Providence Roller Derby, Nettukkusq, Native American songs, Shanti and Pavitra Muthu with traditional dances of India, and Rising Stars Showcase, talented young performers from Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts perform the cultural traditions of Brazil, Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, Greece, India, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US.
College Street Stage, Riverwalk, Market Square, and Benefit Street stages.
* 5:00 pm Join Big Nazo, What Cheer? Marching Brigade, the folk art workshop’s Chinese Lion, Roller Derby Glams, Akwaaba and others for the Pick-Up Parade to Waterplace Park to be led by Dan Zanes.
* 5:30 – 7:30 pm FirstWorksKids Family Fiesta, Waterplace Park Featuring the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of Puerto Rico’s Guarayson Ensemble with Lydia Perez and the Bombitas.
In the case of sustained rain, these performances will be moved to the RISD Auditorium.

Continuous Events
* 1 – 5 pm Big Nazo puppet-making workshop, Market Square Stage
* 1:00 – 4:45 pm Chinese Folk Art Workshops, Dough Art and other activities
Riverwalk Gazebo Presented by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of Boston
* 1 – 5 pm “Day of the African Child” Empowerment Through Art–The Strength of Creative Human Expression exhibit and virtual tour of Uganda, Illustration Studies Gallery, RISD
Presented by Plan USA and YUGA (Youth United for Global Action and Awareness)
* 1 – 5 pm R.I. Rock Gym’s Rock Climbing Wall , Benefit Street West
* 1 – 5 pm 93.3 Coast FM Kidz N’ Family, College Street Bridge, Educational…interactive…fun at Imagination Market
* 1 – 5 pm WBSR 88.1 FM, Brown Student Radio, Riverwalk Inset.
* 2 – 4 pm Vejigante Mask-Making Demonstration, Benefit Street, Frazier Terrace Demonstration Area Traditional Carnavale character masks of Puerto Rico
Note: A Red Cross first-aid station will be located at the corner of South Main and College Streets.

Dan Zanes Photo by ARTHUR ELGORT

Monday, June 11, 2007

Looking for an Activity on Father's Day?

Well, we have dozens! Inside Bay State Parent magazine's June issue is a list of venues and organizations offering free & discounted prices for dads (and granddads)! Just in case, you can't find a copy mid-month, I've pasted the list below. (Tell the zoo, museums, etc that your heard about their event from Bay State Parent!)

Saturday, June 16
*Annual Father's Fest. Institute Park, on the corner of Park Ave and Salisbury St. (near the campus of WPI), Worcester. 1-4 p.m. Fun-filled family day with popular children's characters, family activities and entertainment, resources, food, and more. Rain or shine. Free. 508-756-4646.

Sunday, June 17
Half-Price Admission. The Discovery Museums, Acton. Fathers, Step-fathers and Grandfathers enjoy half-price admission all day at both Museums. At the Children's Discovery Museum. $8pp; Both museums $12pp. 978-264-4200.
Celebrate Father's Day and Juneteenth. Children's Museum, Boston. Honor the men who are special in your life and also join us in the African American celebration of Emancipation called Juneteenth. A$10, C (2-15)$8, C (1) $2, Under 1 free. 617-426-8855.
Free Garden Admission for Dads. Tower Hill Botanical Gardens, Boylston. 508-869-6111.
Bring Your Dad(s) to DeCordova for Free. Lincoln. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Children (of any age) bring a Dad for free. Explore the 35-acre Sculpture Park. Your family dog can even come! 781-259-3628 or
Dads Free Admission. Southwicks Zoo, Mendon. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 800-258-9182.
Father's Day. Belkin Family Lookout Farm, Natick. Pick strawberries with Dad. Dad gets a free T-shirt and free admission to the Farm ($5 value). 508-653- 0653 or
Annual Father's Day Road Race/Fun Walk. The Children's Museum in Easton, North Easton. Register: 7:30 a.m. Race: 9 a.m. 5-mile race and 2- mile walk. Post race party, raffles, awards, massages, dj, moonwalk, childcare available for pre-entrants. Pre-entry: $15; Post-entry $20.508-230-3789. Dead of Night Ghost Tours Father's Day Special. Pilgrim History/ Cemetery Lantern Tour, Plymouth. 4 & 7:30 p.m. every night & weekends. Also at 9 p.m. Fri. & Sat. Father are $2 off when accompanied by family. 508-866-5111.
Free Admission. Providence Children's Museum, Providence, RI. Dads and granddads are free. Others: $6.50pp. 401-273-5437 x 126.
Day for Dads. Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI. All dads, granddads, stepdads and honorary dads are 1/2 price w/a child. 401-785-3510.
Farm Machinery Weekend. Davis Farmland, Sterling. Admission: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closes at 6 p.m. Climb on heavy-duty tractors and learn more about the equipment needed to operate a farm. Summer Admission: Ages 2 - 59 $14.95. Under 2 free. 978-422-MOOO.
Father's Play for Free. Mulligan's Golf. Rte.12, Sterling. 11 a.m.-.10.p.m. 978-422-5022.
Half-Price Admission for Dads. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. Special activities for fathers and kids. Explore the life of men and the role of fathers in early 19th-century rural New England. 800-SEE-1830.
Father's Day Canoe at Flint Pond. Tyngsborough. 1- 3:30 p.m. Paddle this flat water and scout for active fish and frogs etc. Prizes awarded. Ages 6+ w/ swimming ability. Canoes, paddles, & PFDs provided. $32 family (2 A & 2 C). Sponsored by Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-register. 508-753-6087.
Father's Day Celebration. Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester. 12 - 4 p.m. Free admission for Dad with a paid child's admission. A special knighting ceremony for fathers and grandfathers at 12:30 p.m. 508-853-6015.

June 27: Alice in Wonderland Tea

The historic Asa Waters Mansion on 123 Elm Street in Millbury is hosting an Alice in Wonderland Tea complete with tea, punch, goodies, a doll parade, and craft project on Wednesday, June 27.
The cost is $30 for 1 adult with 1 child. Each additional child is $10, adults are $20. Children must be school age. Reservations are required: 508-865-5528 or 508-735-2322.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Harry Potter Overknight at Higgins Armory July 21-22

Getting excited for the Harry Potter book release and movie? Register now to sleep in Massachusetts' own Hogwarts located right here in Worcester. Higgins Armory in Worcester is the perfect site for a one-of –a-kind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Overknight. The evening begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 20th and includes a scavenger hunt, workshop, costume contest, readings, and more. Guests sleep in the Quest gallery and receive their own copy of the 7th book at a special midnight book release. Guests also receive snacks, breakfast, and a souvenir. The experience ends on Saturday, July 21 at 9 a.m. Space is limited. Tickets are $145 per adult and child. Additional tickets are $60 each. The deadline to register is June 27.
Higgins Armory is located on 100 Barber Ave. in Worcester. The Armory can be reached at 508-853-6015 or

Harry Potter fans, be sure to pick up a copy of our July issue. Meet some of Harry Potter's biggest fans and find more exciting Harry Potter events.

Free Concerts in Lexington on Sunday, June 10

Keys for Kids will hold 2 free, public concerts on Sunday, June 10 at Pilgrim's Congregational Church, 55 Coolidge Ave. in Lexington. Concert times are 2:30 and 4:45 p.m. Each concert will feature 3 to 4 group classes performing in the keyboard orchestra ensemble style and about 30 private piano students, ages 4 to adult. The first afternoon concert also will feature two small singing groups. The second concert will have a few guitar performances.
Keys for Kids is an engaging comprehensive group music program, designed to help children discover the world of music through music games, ear training, solfege singing, rhythm activities, and keyboard playing. Courses are designed to encourage development of both the individual's and the group's musical skills. Lessons are organized in a carefully planned sequence that guarantees fun and success. Class time activities cover many aspects of musicianship while accommodating children's attention spans. Children develop a solid musical foundation, regardless of future instrument choice. Classes are taught to small groups of parent-child teams. Groups are carefully organized according to children's age, skill level, and musical goals. Parents are encouraged (and for the youngest students, required) to learn along with their children. Each semester, students receive a new, exciting, and challenging book that includes music pieces, theory, sight-reading, ear training, and technique activities. Students who progress through each level will graduate as independent musicians who can read, write, perform, love, and understand music. The graduation performances at the end of each semester and annual recitals provide opportunities for students to perform. For more information on Keys for Kids visit

Scout Day in West Boylston & Dragon Boat Festival in Pittsfield on Saturday June 9th

Scout Day on the Common and Race for Safety in West Boylston
Everyone is welcome to participate in a 5K "Race for Safety" Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. in leaving from the Middle School/High School on Rte. 140 in West Boylston.
There is also a fun-filled Scout Day planned for all to enjoy at the West Boylston Bandstand Common at the intersection of Routes 12 & 140 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Events and activities include Revolutionary Fife & Drum Corps, Knights & Ladies of the
Society of Creative Anachronis, Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band, White Thunder & friends Native American Drumming & Dancing, West Boylston Food Pantry & US Troop Care packages (Please bring items to donate!), Frontiersman camp 15th Massachusetts infantry
Civil War Soldiers, Races & Games, Live Reptiles & Amphibians, National Wild Turkey Federation, YoYo Mama & the Spinheads, NEADS "Canines for Vets" &"Canines for Kids," Silent Auction , Cake Walk, and much more!

Dragon Boat Festival-Pittsfield
The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is holding an afternoon of family fun celebrating Asian arts and culture from 1 - 4 p.m.
Make a dragon boat and race it in the Gutter Regatta
Design a Peking Opera Mask, make a carp kite, and try origami.
Have your face painted with Asian designs.
At 2 p.m. experience traditional Japanese taiko drumming with Okaido New England (ONE).
The Dragon Boat Festival is free with Berkshire Museum admission.
Tickets to the performance are available first-come, first-served, beginning at 10 a.m. Activities are first-come, first served, while supplies last.
The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street in Pittsfield.
Visit them at

Thursday, June 7, 2007

WEEKEND PICK: Attend the Art in the Park Festival in Lincoln on Sunday

The Annual Art in the Park Festival and Art Sale takes place at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 10. It will be a great day to get outside, as the meteorologists are calling for a cloudy & rainy Saturday. Paintings, ceramics, photographs, sculptures, prints, jewelry, glassworks, and more will be available for you to purchase from over 100 New England artists. There will be live children's entertainment including SteveSongs and Bonaparté, Boston's Hottest Magician plus art activities for all ages. Bring your own picnic or enjoy the food court. The event does take place rain or shine. Children ages 2-14 only $10, adults $12. For more information call 781-259-8355 or visit

Photos courtesy of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park

WEEKEND PICK: 12 Dancing Princesses in Newburyport Saturdays & Sundays in June

Newburyport is a beautiful city to explore on a sunny day. Plan a day trip to the Cape Ann area and take in a performance of A Theatre in the Open's adaptation of Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale the 12 Dancing Princesses (recently turned into a Barbie DVD -- your kids will know that version) Saturdays & Sundays this month through June 24.performances are at 2 p.m.
In the adaptation, the King must discover how 12 pairs of dancing shoes get completely worn out in one night. With 12 unique princesses, your family is sure to find a little of yourselves on stage. Are you like Princess Callie who wants to ride her horse everyday? Or you might know someone like Princess Janie who loves to follow rules. Join the princesses and Benjamin, the cobbler's son, as he tries to solve this "locked room" mystery in a production filled with color, movement, wonder and magic.
This show is a great way to introduce children to live theater, and every little girl who has ever wanted to be a princess is sure to be spellbound by the lovely dozen.
Included in the cast are many Bay State residents --- Abigail Davis of Newburyport as Sarah, Zach Bloomfield of South Hampton, NH as Benjamin, Beth Randall of Newburyport as Augusta, Alyssa Theriault of Newburyport as Janie, Rachel Harris of Newburyport as Stella, Rachel Hawkes of Amesbury as Lesley, Madeleine Moore of Newburyport as Nell, Eliza Bradley of Newbury as Marza , Allegra Larson of West Newbury as Cora, Shelby Steeves of Newburyport as Nonnie, along with others and an original score by Jessica Rybicki of Amesbury.
Where: Maudslay State Park, 76 Curzon Mill Road in Newburyport.
Parking: Park in the Maudslay State Parking lot and follow the flags to the play site. Allow for a 10 minute stroll while you follow the Theater in the Open flags.
Tickets: Children and Seniors $5.00, Adults $8.00. Children age 3 and under are free.
For information call 978-465-2572 or visit

Photo courtesy of Theatre in the Open. Pictured: (Standing: left to right - Hannah Zwickerhill, Allegra Larson, Alyssa Theriault,Beth Randall, Grace Pezella. Seated: left - right - Madison Moran, Madeleine Moore, Abigail Davis,Shelby Steeves)

WEEKEND PICK: Saturday is Family Fun Day at Chickatawbut Hill in

Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Blue Hills Trailside Museum is sponsoring a Family Fun Day at the Chickatawbut Hill Education Center in Milton.***
Join Trailside for a celebration for all ages! There will be games, crafts and live animal presentations. Cost is $5 per person or $15 per carload.
Pre-registration is not required, however, if you are thinking of coming, the center would love to know! For more information or to let us know your planning on attending, please call us at 617-333-0690 x225.
If you can't make this event -- the Mass Audubon society has scores of events every month for families. Check out its web site at
Also read Bay State Parent magazine's report on how to get children involved in nature in the June issue or go online at:

***As the meteorologists are calling for clouds & possible rain on Saturday, please call ahead to see if all activities on Saturday are still scheduled.


Congrats to the winners of Bay State Parent magazine's Happy Feet DVD giveaway. Each will receive a widescreen version of the Academy Award winning best animated film. They are:
* Amy Remillard of Groton, who picks us up at the Littleton Library.
* Maura Power of Southbridge, who picks up the magazine at Tri-Community YMCA in Southbridge
* Amy Prince of Sudbury, who picks us up at Mass Gymnastics
* Gladiola DeKing of Milford, who picks up the magazine at her local library
* Julie DiRico of Westford
* Airi Kloren of Shirley, who picks us up at her local library
* Jen Leider of Fitchburg, who picks us up at her son's preschool at Fitchburg High
* Jen Dintinosanto of Clinton, who picks up the magazine at her local library
* Patricia Jobin of Millbury, who picks us up at BabiesRus

Each will be mailed a copy of the DVD.
Thanks to everyone who entered.
Please check the print edition of the magazine, the magazine's Web site -- and this blog for exclusive contests.This month's contest is a personalized DVD, in which your child becomes Spiderman.
To enter, visit

RECALL: First Birthday Hats Due to Chocking Hazard

First Birthday Party Hats Recalled by Creative Expressions Due to Choking Hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named above, today announced a voluntary recall of the more than 43,000 first birthday party hats by Creative Expressions of Indiana. Foil fringe glued to the bottom edge of the party hats can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. No incidents or injuries have been reported. The paper party hats involved in this recall measure 6.5-inches high by 4.5-inches wide and are cone shaped. The blue paper hats have “1st” printed on the front and blue foil fringe glued to the bottom. They were sold at party and discount department stores nationwide from February 2005 through May 2007 for about $4.
Consumers should discard the hats immediately and contact Creative Expressions to receive a full refund. For additional information, contact Creative Expressions at 800-428-5017 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday, or visit

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

CONTEST WINNERS: Bob the Builder Extreme Adventure DVDs

Congrats to our 5 winners of the the Bob the Builder: Bob's X-Treme Adventures DVD (which premiered on May 15 and was part of Bay State Parent magazine's online DVD giveaway in May).
The winners are:

* Shawn Bolton of Northbridge

* Diane Cavaco of Bolyston, who picks the magazine up at Shaw's

* Denise Constable of Uxbridge, who picked up the magazine at Southwick's Zoo

* Susan Howard of Sutton, who picks the magazine up at either Chutes & Ladders in Sutton or Goretti's in Millbury.

* Gail Villani of Bolyston

Each will be mailed a copy of the DVD.

Thanks to everyone who entered.
Please check the print edition of the magazine, the magazine's Web site -- and this blog for exclusive contests.
This month's contest is a personalized DVD, in which your child becomes Spiderman.
To enter, visit

RECALL: Crib Due to Fall, Entrapment & Chocking Hazards

Simplicity Recalls 40,000 Cribs Due to Fall, Entrapment, and Choking Hazards. T
he U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania firm above, announced a voluntary recall the Nursery-in-a-Box Cribs. The assembly instructions provided with the cribs incorrectly instruct consumers how to attach the crib’s drop side. If improperly installed, the drop side can disengage from the crib, posing fall and entrapment hazards for the child. Additionally, the metal locking pins on the drop side can pop off, presenting a choking hazard. The Consumer agency is aware of an incident in which the crib’s drop side, which was installed upside down, fell from its upright position and the metal locking pins became dislodged. Simplicity received a report of wrong instructions being packaged with the crib. The recalled cribs are part of the Nursery-in-a-Box furniture set which also includes a changing table and clothing organizer. The cribs are cherry, white or natural in color. Only model numbers 8910 and 8050 with serial numbers 3005 HY through 0806 HY are included in this recall. The model and serial numbers are printed on an envelope permanently attached to the mattress support. “Simplicity,” model and serial numbers are also printed on a label on the bottom rail of the headboard.
The cribs were sold at department stores and children’s product stores from August 2005 through May 2007 for about $200.
Consumers should immediately check the crib to make sure the drop side is securely fastened and correctly installed. Contact Simplicity to receive correct assembly instructions, or consumers can download the assembly instructions at the firm’s Web site, Consumers can view a video on the firm’s Web site showing the proper assembly of the drop side. If the drop side is not properly installed, consumers should stop using the crib until it is assembled correctly.
For additional information, contact Simplicity at 800-784-1982 anytime, or visit

CONTEST: Friday Last Day To Enter To Name Baby Giraffe

Roger Williams Park Zoo is offering fathers and their families a "wild" way to celebrate Father’s Day on June 17, with "Day for Dads." The event will feature a host of father friendly activities as well as half-priced admission for all dads, grand-dads, step-dads and honorary dads (when accompanied by a child).
As part of the Father's Day event, the zoo will unveil the name chosen for one of its newest residents, a male giraffe calf born on May 5.
The name will be selected by zoo officials from the more than 5,000 entries submitted in a Giraffe Calf Naming Contest, thus far.
The deadline to enter a name is Friday, June 8 at the zoo's Web site. (
The winner, who submits the selected name, will be invited to participate in the unveiling and will also receive a family membership to the zoo, a framed photo of the calf, and a "Meet the Zookeeper" experience.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is operated and maintained by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Weekend Pick: Family Concert on June 16

Room to Grow hosts a special family concert on Saturday, June 16 -- Featuring Smithsonian Folkways Recording Artist Elizabeth Mitchell and Family & David Weinstone’s Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals

1) Elizabeth Mitchell and Family: Mitchell brings a fresh sound to cherished American folk songs and other melodies from around the world. In a peaceful yet powerful way, she reintroduces us to the songs we thought we knew so well. Featuring homespun renditions of songs by Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, Vashti Bunyan, Gillian Welch and more. (Pictured is Liz Mitchell with her husband Daniel Littleton and her daughter Storey, who will also perform with her.)
2) David Weinstone’s Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals: Music for Aardvarks is a multi-faceted world of musical adventures created by classically trained ex-punk rocker, David Weinstone. After the birth of this first child, David began Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals in reaction to the dearth of cool music available. In an exhilarating range of musical styles executed with superb musical literacy and richness of instrumentation, his songs reflect and celebrate the lives of children growing up in urban environments as well as themes universal to all children.

BENEFITS: Room to Grow ( - the proceeds of which will support their efforts to enrich the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development.

BUY TICKETS: Call Ticket Fusion at 877-548-3237 or visit for online sales.

CONCERT DETAILS: Saturday, June 16th, doors open at 10:30 a.m., at John Hancock Hall
180 Berkeley Street, in Boston

For more information, visit

Monday, June 4, 2007

Harry Potter Bus Coming to Boston

If you've ever wanted to hop aboard the Knight Bus of Harry Potter fame, you'll have your chance tomorrow, June 5 at two branches of the Boston Public Library. Wizards and Muggles alike are invited to tour the very purple triple-decker bus that was featured prominently in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Fans can record a 30-second video saying why you love the Potter books. Some video clips will be posted on Feel free to dress up like your favorite Potter character.
The bus is at the Providence Public Library, Mount Pleasant Branch today, Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. It will be at the Boston Public Library, Central Library Branch, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., & then off to the Codman Square Branch from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. This is the bus' only stop in Massachusetts. It will be in NYC the eve before the final book release in July.
Photo courtesy of Scholastic & The Today Show

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Girl Authority Concert

Last night, I attended a concert by Girl Authority for the release of the group's second CD Road Trip at Lincoln-Sudbury High. The sold out concert was a big hit with the largely girl audience of tweens & teens. The audience had a terrific time and the nine-member group stayed afterwards to sign autographs.
Below are a couple dozen of photos. More will be loaded onto the magazine's photo gallery (