Thursday, January 29, 2009

10 Ways to Have Big Fun on a Small Budget

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

We're hearing about it a lot these days. The economy is spiraling down while costs are rising up. People are tightening their belts, staying close to home, and clamping down on extra spending. But does that mean that we have to hang up our fun clothes and wait for time to pass? No way!

Yes, we all know about the old inexpensive pastimes. Read a book. Ride your bike. Go to the park. But it's clear that families are looking for more variety these days. They don't mind passing on costly vacations if they can still have a good time close to home. A parent contacted me through my parenting blog the other day and said, "Dr. Robyn, we're all 'parked out!' What else can we do that doesn't cost a lot of money but is still loads of fun?"

Here are 10 ways to have big fun on a small budget:

1. Have an inside picnic: Make fried chicken and all the fix'ns, if you'd like! Spread out the blanket, play games, and let your imagination go wild. Sometimes simply doing something ordinary, like having a meal together, in a different way, can make the time spent extra fun and enjoyable for everyone.

2. Throw a costume party: Why do all costumes have to go back in the closet after Halloween? Invite your favorite families from around the neighborhood and ask them to dress up. Make it thematic! Be your favorite character from a book! Come as your favorite sports star! Have an "out of this world party" where everyone dresses up as a creature that only exists in their imagination! To keep costs down, make it a potluck and ask every family to bring a yummy dish and their favorite game.

3. Arrange a Family Slumber Party: You might be surprised by how excited your children get when you propose a family sleepover party! Drag in the sleeping bags, soft blankets, and air mattresses and huddle up by the fire. Make popcorn, play games and watch movies. You might even entertain staying up a little later than usual? Yes, you might feel a little stiff in the neck the next morning but when you look back on the day you’ll surely only remember the good times!

4. Build a fort: Another way to get close and have fun is to build a fort in the living room or basement. Such an operation encourages closeness and cooperation. Push together some of your couches and chairs and drape blankets to create a cozy space. Pretend it’s a cave and “explore.” Make up stories and play word games. My brothers and I used to love building and “living in” our basement fort and I still have the fondest memories of that time. I remember that one time, Mom and Dad even let us drag in a little TV inside the fort and watch LoveBoat and Fantasy Island—during which I quickly fell asleep.

5. Connect with a PenPal: The world is so small now with so much technology that it’s easier and easier to connect with others across the world. And remember—there are only 7 degrees of separation between you and many others! Ask your children the type of person they’d like to meet. Then, ask your friends, teachers and neighbors if they have connections with people in that area or in the specified age group. Encourage your children to write letters, ask questions, and send photos. My sister-in-law still has her German pen pal from 5th grade. What an amazing experience for little to no cost at all!

6. Plan a scavenger hunt: Invite the neighbors over to find the treasure in one of your backyards or at a neighborhood family-friendly store! Separate children into teams (each with an adult supervisor) and have each team wear a certain color for easy identification. Write clues that lead the teams around the neighborhood looking for the "treasure." Each neighbor can contribute something to the "pot" (or you can all go into it together) such as baked goods, a cool t-shirt, beaded necklaces or art supplies, a gift card, or whatever other low cost fun item that comes to mind.

7. Volunteer: What a wonderful way to contribute to your community and have fun at the same time! Donate time to the local animal shelter. Teach the children to sing or dance for the women and men at the nursing home in town. Allow the children to help out with after classes that cater to children with special needs. Volunteering gets children out of the house, doing something helpful, and having a great time.

8. Create your own power outage: When the power is out, the family tends to come together. Shut off the lights, the computer and the TV. Spread out a blanket on the floor or huddle up in bed, tell stories, play flashlight or word games, and have a special "power outage picnic."

9. Decorate old clothes: Get out the old jeans and t-shirts and decorate! Use acrylic paints, fabric remnants, stamps, dye, patches and rhinestones. These kinds of projects can breed new interest in forgotten clothes and can offer a different art medium besides paper.

10. Get outside and enjoy! It might be starting to cool down but that doesn't mean we have to stay inside. Go sledding! Have a snowball fight! Create snow sculptures and snow angels. And who can forget the hot cocoa that is a must after rolling around in the cold?

These ideas may not cost a lot of money but they are certainly big on fun. Some might say that these low cost ideas can be even more enjoyable than the expensive trips, costly games, and nights eating out. The important thing is that you are all together and creating memories. Don't forget the camera! Participation in these budget-friendly activities are certain to bring on smiles that should be saved forever in your family scrapbook!

Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child development specialist, success coach, and parenting expert who has won several awards for her tips-based articles. She speaks at conferences and businesses worldwide discussing topics such as creating positive limits for children, raising kids with character, and bringing out your child's inner leader. She also works with individuals and families on making their lives meaningful, successful, and powerful. For more information, please visit , for coaching go to or to take part in her Powerful Parenting Blog, visit Dr. Robyn lives in Weymouth with her family.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bonus Calendar Events for Fri., Feb. 6 - Sun., Feb. 8

Check back for bonus school vacation ideas next week!

FREE. Friday, Feb. 6th, Boston Interfaith Youth Mural: Project Joins Jewish, Christian and Muslim Teens. Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, 60 Highland Street, West Newton, MA. 7 p.m. The first public exhibit of the 2009 Boston Interfaith Youth Mural will take place Friday, February 6, 2009 at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, 60 Highland St., West Newton. A musical Friday evening prayer service will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. followed by a discussion with members of Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups involved in the Mural Project. Free. 617 965-0330 or

Feb. 7: Winter Concert and Festival. Newton Cultural Center, Newtonville. 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Get the family dancing at the 4th Annual Winter Concert & Festival featuring Vanessa Trien! Live music, activities, crafts, bake sale, raffle and a door prize from Exxcel Gymnastics ($300. value) $8 in advance, $10 at the door (children under 1 free) or 617.467.5562. All proceeds to benefit Burr Cooperative Nursery School, a non-profit organization.

Franklin Park Winter Snow Festival Boston – Saturday, February 7th, 1 -4 p.m. Come out and enjoy Franklin Park's winter wonderland! Join Franklin Park Coalition and REI for an afternoon of fun in the snow. We'll have snowshoes and sleds to borrow or bring your own cross-country skis for a tour of the park. Kids can enter the snowperson building contest. Learn to find and identify animal tracks. Warm up in the Golf Clubhouse with hot chocolate and soup. FREE FUN FOR ALL AGES. Meet at the Franklin Park Golf Clubhouse, One Franklin Park Road, Boston. To register or for more information call 617-442-4141 or

Sat., Feb. 7: Student Art Show. 44 Depot Street
Uxbridge, MA. 6 - 9 p.m. Located @ The Kensho Ryu Kenpo. Free.
508-278-7193 or

Saturdays, Feb. 7 and 28: Fireproof movie at the Charlton Baptist Church
50 Hammond Hill Road, Charlton. 6 - 8 p.m. Free showing of the recently released movie, "Fireproof." Free child care also provided for infant to 12 year olds. Call ahead at 508.248.4488.

Feb. 7 - 22. The House at Pooh Corner is directed by Molly Martin. Boston Children's Theatreat the Grand Lodge of Mason, 186 Tremont St., Boston. 2 p.m. 12 young actors from the greater Boston area portray Christopher Robin and all his friends: Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Owl, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Winnie the Pooh as they do their best to build Eeyore a house before Christopher Robin is taken away to Education!Ticket prices are $18,and $20.
617-424-6634, email, or

Smell the Flowers in Winter! Feb. 5 - 8

FYI: Might be fun for a date or night out with the girls!
Here's a press release from Tower Hill Botanical Gardens and the Worcester Art Musuem.

Thursday, February 5th through Sunday, February 8th
Tower Hill Botanic Garden
The Worcester Art Museum

BOYLSTON and WORCESTER, Mass.-In the clutch of winter, two Central Massachusetts cultural institutions collaborate on an exhibition of fresh floral arrangements and artistic masterworks that conjure the sights and scents of a warmer climate.

Flora in Winter, on view Thursday through Sunday, February 5-8,features fresh floral arrangements interpreting works of art at the Worcester Art Museum (55 Salisbury St, Worcester) and "Romantic Celebrations of the World" at Tower Hill Botanic Garden (11 French Drive, Boylston). Garden club members and floral designers from throughout Central New England have volunteered to create the arrangements. Visitors can admire gorgeous arrangements in the Worcester Art Museum's galleries and in the Education & Visitors Center at Tower Hill, as well as floral displays sponsored by area florists to adorn public spaces. Guided tours at each location will be offered several times daily. Special events celebrating Flora in Winter will be held at each institution throughout the period.

At Tower Hill Botanic Garden, celebrate "Romantic Celebrations of the World" as the inspiration for arrangements displayed in Tower Hill's Main Entry, Alice Milton Gallery and Fern Gallery, adjacent to the lush subtropical blooms and greenery in the Orangerie. Enjoy stunning floral interpretations of international destinations and events renowned for their romantic connections. Flora in Winter will be a celebration of life through art, music, and the creative expression of love through the artistry of flowers. Romance may be interpreted as an intense feeling for a person, place, or time, in literature or music, from anywhere around the world. Talented floral designers will reach the heights of artistic expression in this one-of-a-kind show.

Tower Hill enhances the mood and atmosphere of Flora in Winter with a Candlelight Concert featuring the heart-warming music of Stephen Sondheim at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 6, with performers from the Boston Conservatory of Music. Tickets are $30 nonmembers and $25 for members of either Tower Hill or the Worcester Art Museum. Twigs Café will provide complimentary hors d'oeuvre. Call Tower Hill at 508.869.6111 ext. 135 for reservations.

Opening Hours for Flora in Winter:
Tower Hill Botanic Garden:
10am-5pm daily, reopening at 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening for the Sondheim Concert

Worcester Art Museum:
Thursday, February 5: 11am-5pm, The Museum reopens from 5:30-8pm for Flora Euphoria
Friday, February 6: 11am-8pm
Saturday, February 7: 10am-8pm*
Sunday, February 8: 11am-5pm
*There will be no free admission at the Worcester Art Museum Saturday morning, February 7, except for Worcester Art Museum Members. Free Saturday mornings from 10am-noon will resume following Flora in Winter.

Regular admission fees apply at each institution. Admission is free to members of that institution. For others, Worcester Art Museum admission is $10 adults, $8 senior citizens and full-time students with ID, and free for youth 17 and under. Tower Hill admission is $10 adults, $7 seniors ages 65 and older, $5 for youth ages 6-18. Admission is free for children under 6.

Public tours will also be held at Tower Hill at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday & Sunday, at 1 and 3 p.m. each day. Tours are included with the price of admission.

For private tours for groups of 10 or more, please call for more information: Worcester Art Museum 508.799.4406 ext. 3130; Tower Hill Botanic Garden 508.869.6111 ext. 125.

Bonus Calendar Events for Sat., Jan. 31st

The following family fun events are not listed in our January print issue but are available to you on our blog as a bonus! Keep in mind: All listings are posted as they were sent to baystateparent. They are not edited. Please contact each event directly before attending and to confirm details.

Have fun!

Saturday, January 31st – Winter Volunteer Day in Franklin Park – 10 a.m. – Noon. This is a great time of year to clear invasive plants that are smothering young native trees in Franklin Park’s forest. Dress warmly (layers is best, you will warm up), shiny, nylon coats can get caught on branches, heavy cotton, fleece, or wool won’t be damaged. We’ll have old leather palm work gloves and clippers, but bring some if you have them at home. There’ll be hot chocolate and good cheer in abundance, all ages and abilities welcome. Meet at Valley Gates Parking Lot midway along the main Franklin Park Road. For more info and directions: or 617-442-4141.

Sat., Jan. 31: Tropical Forest. Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Rd., Boston. 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Escape the winter chill and bring your little ones down to the always-balmy Tropical Forest for family entertainment provided by our professionalchildren’s entertainer during our Saturday Sing-a-Longs! Wildly popular children’s entertainer, Su Eaton, will perform every Saturday in January and March. These events will be held in the Hippo Theater at Franklin Park Zoo and are free with general Zoo admission. Saturday Sing-a-Longs will be held January 31 and March 7, 14, 21 and 28. 617-541-5466 or

Sat., Jan. 31: Copicut Woods, Indian Town Rd., Fall River. 9 - 11 a.m. While a few animals do head south or hibernate away the winter months, most remian in New England and are active all year. Join the Trustees of Reservations along with Bill Sampson, senior keeper at the Buttinwood Park Zoo, to learn the art of tracking animals in winter. Free. 508-679-2115x11, email, or visit

Sat., Jan. 31: A “Curious George” Party. South Shore Natural Science Center, Norwell. 10 - 11:30 a.m. Ages 3+. Celebrate the many adventures of Curious George – without getting into too much mischief. After stories, crafts and games we’ll enjoy a snack and just “monkey around”! Pre-registration and payment requested. $10 Member per parent/child pair with a maximum of $20 per family$13 Non- member per parent/ child pair with a maximum of $26 per family. The Center also has ongoing Drop- In Programs (Free with paid admission) such as: Feed the Animals: Saturdays and Monday Holidays at 10 a.m.; Meet an Animal: Saturdays and Monday Holidays at 2 p.m.; Tales from the Wild: Every Friday 10:30 -11 a.m.; and Join the naturalist for nature stories and tales. Please call to register.781-659-2559 x 203 or email

Good Deeds at NEADS in Princeton

While this isn't a family fun event, NEADS in Princeton is a great place to bring kids who love dogs!

Sat., Jan. 31: The Worcester County NEADS Lions has teamed up with the American Red Cross to sponsor a Blood Drive on Saturday, January 31, 2009. It will take place at the NEADS offices at 305 Redemption Rock Trail South (Rt. 140), Princeton, MA, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will be open to the public. The Lion’s Sightmobile will also be available for visiting at the NEADS facility. All blood donors will receive a FREE Pound of Dunkin Donuts Coffee! Anyone age 17 or older, who is in good health, who weighs 110 pounds or more, and who has not given blood in the last 56 days is eligible to donate. Please be prepared to show photo identification to a Red Cross volunteer.For more information about this event -- or to make an appointment for any Red Cross blood drive -- please call 1-800 GIVE LIFE (800-448-3543). Walk-in donors are also welcome.

Rashes from Carter's "Tag-less" Labels

CPSC Hotline: (800) 638-2772

CPSC and Carter's Advise Parents of Rashes Associated with Heat Transferred, or "Tag-less," Labels

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Carter's, Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, are advising parents and caregivers that they have received reports that a small percentage of babies and infants have developed rashes on the upper back after wearing Carter's clothing with heat-transferred, or "tag-less," labels.

This advisory applies to Carter's Fall 2007 product line. The Fall 2007 line utilizes a label on the inside back of the garment that has a raised surface with a solid, rather than a stenciled, background. This advisory does not apply to previous and current product lines, which utilize labels with stenciled backgrounds.

The garments, which were made in various countries, were sold at Carter's own retail stores and at department and national chain stores.

If your child develops a rash on the upper back after wearing garments that have a "tag-less" label with a solid background, you should stop using these garments. If the rash persists or worsens, you should contact your pediatrician. For additional information, visit Carter's website at, contact Carter's toll free at 1-888-282-4674 or by email at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2009 Cover Contest Winners!

Our 2009 Cover Contest Winners will be announced in our upcoming February issue. Be sure to pick up a copy next week to see the finalists.
Thank you to everyone who entered, and enjoy your beautiful kids!
Carrie Wattu

Meet John Owen and His Family

Tony & Jen Dumm sent me this letter from North Royalton , Ohio. Initially, I read it because I was curious to see if they were Massachusetts' parents. I read on because they had that gift where you feel as if you know the family.

I fell in love with the Dumms. I so could relate when Jen talked about lying down in bed with the kids at night. And I could relate when she talked about the innocence of her son and the terror that she feels (not because I have a special needs child but because I can only imagine what she goes through).

Their Web site is just as special. They are real, and I get it. I think you will too.

While we don't usually do stories on families outside of Massachusetts, I just had to share this with you.
Check out their Web site. They have the gift!

On being John Owen’s Mom
by Jen Dumm

Ok so my day is most likely like yours – actually, our days start the night before, right? Pack lunches, set the coffee, lay out the kids cloths, double check the homework – then go through the whole AM thing to getting the kids in bed by 8 or 9 pm . I call it crazy mom nuts. But a good crazy mom nuts, ya know?

We have three boys, Rutger (7), John Owen (5) (Owen) and Wade (2), 2 dogs and a very busy life. Usually, when I hear one of the boys ask, as I pass by their room well after bedtime, “Mom, sleep with me please.” Internally, I sigh and think of laundry or dishes – but occasionally, I remember that all that can wait. So tonight it is Owen or J, O, John, J bug, Owen, John Owen, buttercup, many pet names any time of day, he prefers Owen. He is 5. Looking at Owen you see the innocence in his face, the same look you’ve seen in your kids. The look back at you as they run to play, the tears of disappointment, the laughter at a funny joke, the joy of a new puppy, you see that innocence so easily in his face. As I stare at that tonight I cannot believe his little muscles, since birth, have been wasting away inside him. You see, Owen has the most fatal genetic disorder out there, Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Laying there looking at our son, I cannot grasp what his future holds. Today, he is a typical 5 year old; you would see him on the playground with his friends and think nothing of his tad sluggish gate. You would never know that statistics have him wheelchair bound in 5 to 7 years. Everyday tasks for him will be a thing of the past, brushing his teeth, holding a telephone, eating, heck even breathing. Things that he can do now without a thought will be stripped away from him before most of us got our first job!

Owen’s body does not make dystrophin; in short his muscles will not continue to function without it. It is a progressive disease that will slow every muscle in his body to a halt. Laying here looking at his innocent face, he has no clue what challenges are ahead for him. Lucky for Owen, there are many amazing people in the world working hard to find a cure; Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (, The MDA (, Charley’s Fund ( and more. Lucky for us we have Owen and we have the power of hope and faith.

Shortly after his diagnosis at age 4, we began John Owen’s Adventure, Inc. Our non-profit raises awareness of DMD and other childhood illnesses. We live John Owen’s Adventure every day with him; one click of your mouse to will let you experience his journey! You will see that familiar look of innocence and we will hope that, together, Owen will not lose his before his time.

How much does a baby in Massachusetts really cost?

Freelancer, Donna Roberson, is working on an article for baystateparent on the cost of having a child in the first year for our March baby issue.

We are so interested in what you have to say about the costs of baby from everything to feeding, diapers, and daycare to clothing, furniture, and the extras.

- How expensive was it? Was it more than you really planned for?
- What came up that you didn't expect?
- What was your greatest expense?
- Did you have a baby shower or previous children that helped cut down on expenses?
- Did you buy a lot of things for the first child that you didn't really need?
- Anything else in your mind that stands out from that first year.

If you respond, the article may include a quote from you with your name, number of children (and their gender and ages) and the town you live in (so please let us know!)

Thank you!

Donna Roberson, freelancer, and Carrie Wattu, editor

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dating my Husband

By Judith Doherty
Twelve years and two children into marriage I observe a disconnect among men and women who professed love to each other and lost the spark along the way of parenting. Women seem to connect more readily with each other than with their husbands when the children are small. Anecdotes about breastfeeding and discipline styles get traded with recipes, but the men seem to be outside of the circle.
How can couples keep a dating mentality during the childrearing years?
Certain months I am flooded with old love feelings that gush from me and make me nostalgic for new romance with the same partner who has been right next to me in bed all these years. Those days are harmonious, even more special than a new romance can be because the love is rooted in so much depth from the whole life shared. But if the truth be told, even in so-called “good marriages” romance feels fleeting. One night we might reconnect by the fireside. The next morning we are launched back into routines of alarm clocks, school buses and crying kids.
One challenge, as I see it, is the “roommate” issue. Contrast friends who visit each other periodically and share the best of themselves with husbands and wives who are apt to witness the worst of each other in daily strife. Just as with college roommates or siblings growing up, close proximity can lead to friction in married life.
To make matters even harder, parenting presents obstacles to romance and at the same time more pressures that extinguish the fire of passion. Our two-year-old, for instance, has greater stamina than I do. That night owl is a darling, but she can outlast me. I continue to rise and shine with our school aged girl, so I’m wiped out by 9PM, when the two-year-old continues to giggle and play with daddy until 10PM. So alone time is a commodity we find hard to come by.
Some solutions:
Now that we have explored the obstacles to romance, let’s look at what might provide spark this winter. My sister and her husband used to feed the kids early and get them to bed. Then once a week they had a gourmet dinner by candlelight. It seemed like a lot of work to me but to them it was a luscious tradition. For some couples it could be as simple as order out Chinese food on a picnic blanket in the living room.
Spending money for a babysitter so you can really get away from the chores and routines of the home can change the conversation. My parents dated each other on Saturday nights for many years. That example sticks with me and even if I don’t achieve it as often as I’d like when we do get out it is refreshing to the marriage.
Set aside time to talk, when the children aren’t listening in. We call it “15 minutes of cuddling” which sometimes leads to more. The close contact helps us to feel united.
Consider hiring outside help for housecleaning, if the frustration around household chores is eating away at the little time you have together. I had never believed in hiring people to clean, but when I realized that the fights I had with me husband were most often about the messy house I acknowledged that paying for assistance might relieve that pressure, I went for it.
What excites a woman changes after the children come and demand so much of her energy. I remember that hearing my husband running the vacuum cleaner was the best turn on in the toddler years.
Exercise together - It’s fun to play with your partner. Even if the children are in the sport with you the body play can be an outlet and a joy that releases tension and creates fun memories.
Some couples manage to get away to a hotel. Friends of ours actually hire a sitter and go to a hotel in the same area where they live just for the thrill of escaping their responsibilities and relaxing together.
Laughter can help renew romance. Often cuddling for a late night sitcom can rekindle our connection.
Love letters might seem a stretch but John Grey, who wrote the famous book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus has a technique for clearing the air in cases where couples have lost a connection.

For each couple the points of connection will be different but as my husband said when we were dating, ”Love ought to be like kids in a playground, exploring and having fun.” So carving out time and space, however you can do it, to sneak away from the kids and toward each other seems worth the investment. And in these economic times it will provide greater dividends than most investments.

Judith Doherty is a Central MA mom of two young daughters as well as freelance writer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

See you on Facebook

Thought a lot of you parents could relate to Amy Rodriguez of Belmont who wrote the following story about her Facebook experience.

Facing My Problem

I ended up on Facebook by accident. I was here, I was there, and next thing I knew I was on it. I was genuinely confused as to what had happened. Like everybody else, I had received daily pop-us from and, like everybody else I had ignored them. Who are these people? Who has time for this? Why would I care? Then they sent the notification, “Amy, three people have signed your guestbook.” My guest book? Who? I clicked to see who, and that is where it all began. “Amy, you must be a gold member to see your guestbook.” I hesitated for a second, but they had me hooked. I paid for a trial period and signed in. I did not have three long-lost friends. I had three names that I had never heard of.
But within weeks, I received another notification. “Kevin Conboy has sent you a message.” I have not talked to Kevin since high school, but until then, we had shared a long history since second grade. He was Conboy. I was Cooper. We were paired alphabetically for thirteen years of lab reports, gym relays, and reading circles. I spent a lot of time looking at the back of his head, since he always sat in front of me. Our sophomore biology teacher had told me to let Kevin copy my lab reports, so he could do better. When Kevin sent an email asking “for help on a lab report,” of course I had to answer. After all, I never knew that he understood the ridiculousness of the situation. Apparently, he did. When Kevin said that I should look on Facebook to see the weight he had gained since his days as a gangly Triton Viking, my curiosity got the best of me. I was once again a sucker.
I went to Facebook to find out how much weight he had gained, but when I clicked on Kevin’s little tiny profile picture, it told me, “You cannot see Kevin’s profile unless you are his friend.” Oh, I am his friend. His new friend. Click-click. That did not count. Facebook told me I had to join Facebook to be his friend, but all I needed was an email address and password. Done. So easy. Click on Kevin. Look at Kevin’s wife, mom, child. His yard. Hello, Kiddy Pool. Hello, Big Dog. I like his couch. And that was it. My first puff, sip, drag. I was addicted.
It then asked me, “Do you want to know which of your friends are on Facebook?” Why yes, of course! Almost immediately, I received emails from people I barely recognized. I did not know how this happened, but it had contacted everyone in my directory who was already on Facebook. These included old teachers, friends of friends, friends of my husband, and mothers whom I have never met from a local list serve.
I thought I wouldn’t care about these people, but I do. I have tried to explain my obsession to my husband, since much of it is actually reading about his friends and family members. I rarely post or send a message. I am obsessed, however, about reading what others have to say. It can be any others. It does not have to be a friend. I am especially fascinated by the people whom I hardly know. My friend’s husband is conservative. Who knew! Does that mean she is, too? Rob is sad and, more importantly, posting this information with an emoticon? I thought I knew him. My college roommate, the wildest one of the bunch, has a profile of her cat and posts notes on her wall “hoping to snuggle with my Boo.” What is happening here? And why has Miss Katie, my daughter’s favorite pre-K teacher from last year, posted a new album entitled “Moist Pussy?” Who is that man pouring champagne over her head, and when does she have to report to school, her pre-K school? These are the things that I must know and, until I figure them out, I will have to say, “My name is Amy, and I am on Facebook.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Acting and Vocal Lessons

Hi Parents,
We received this press release about a new studio opening in Worcester
The Actors' Loft. Just thought I'd pass along the press release for anyone
Carrie Wattu, editor

Announcing the GRAND OPENING of the NEW Actors' Loft in Worcester's Canal District!

Worcester, MA - On Saturday January 24, 2009 Central Mass Dance Academy will be opening the doors to the BRAND NEW Actors Loft, a full scale acting school and vocal training facility located in the heart of Worcester's ever popular Canal District. The loft, located at 65 Water St, is being billed as Worcester's acting alternative. Often time’s students from across Central Massachusetts, as well as the surrounding areas, have had to go a long distance to get formal acting training, taking classes in Boston, Providence or New York. But the Actors' Loft will soon be changing all of that as it will be offering Worcester, and the entire Central Massachusetts area, a full schedule of various acting courses, every semester, year round!

The classes being offered for the lofts inaugural semester are Acting for Beginners, Beginners Vocal, Advanced Vocal, Scene Study, Cold Read, Commercial & Monologue, Acting for Teens, Acting for Kids, Film Acting I & Film Acting II (a class in which the students will actually star in their very own short film that will be shot in and around the city!) With all of these choices the Actors' Loft is determined to become the home for professional formal acting and vocal training in Central Massachusetts.

At the helm of the Loft will be Worcester's own Anthony Vorres. Anthony is an experienced actor, whose background is not only routed in acting, but in writing, directing and producing as well. Anthony has served as the writer, director and producer for four very successful plays, he has starred in numerous independent films and TV shows and next year he will resume work on his directorial film debut in 'One Cruel Day', a film in which he also serves as a producer, writer and lead star. In addition to all of that Anthony also worked as the Development Coordinator and House Manager for The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts during its 2008 inaugural season, and more recently as an instructor for the IMTA (International Model Talent Association). The IMTA is a nationwide competition that takes place every year in Los Angeles and NYC, it is a forum where actors from all across the nation can go to perform for some of the biggest agents and casting directors in the world. Last week, Anthony’s group of students returned from Los Angeles, where they beat out every other group in the country and swept the awards! Including one student that walked away with the prestigious ACTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD!

*The Actors Loft is located at 65 Water St Worcester, MA and is a division of Central Mass Dance Academy. CMDA is a successful Massachusetts dance academy that has been providing the Central Massachusetts area with extensive training in jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop and progressive dance. The Actors Loft and CMDA are located in the heart of Worcester's ever popular Canal District, which is home to the city's top restaurants, shopping and entertainment complexes. For more information on course descriptions, class schedules, rates and special discounts please contact The Actors' Loft 65 Water St. Worcester, MA (508) 754-2700.


Anthony Vorres

The Actors' Loft at CMDA
(508) 754-2700

Do your Kids Love Animals?

We did something so memorable for my girls' 5th birthday. We went to Animal
Adventures on Sugar Road in Bolton (right off 495).
It was pricey ($17 per person), but we took an hour and a half personal,
hands-on tour. Stacey, our guide, was so great! My girls got to hold and pet so
many creatures, both furry and rough, and because it was just our family, they didn't have to take turns with a huge group of kids or raise their hands to ask questions.
My girls played with a hedgehog (so cute!), gave a chinchilla a dust bath, cuddled a
skunk, fed crickets to a huge toad, kissed a snake (I know...germs!), and so much
more. You've got to meet Hagrid and Louigi. Very cute!
We really felt that the $85 was worth it because Stacey opened all of the cages
and gave us one-on-one attention.
If you're interested, vist They offer formal birthday
parties, nocturnal nights out, school programs, and birthday parties in your

Monday, January 12, 2009

Congratulations to our Horton Hears a Who DVD winners!

Lily Mae Rice, Oakham
Jillian Lang, Worcester
Liam McCarron, Millbury
Max Miller, Wrentham
Sarah Carney, Oxford

Pick up our February issue for more coloring contests and keep checking our Web site for more giveaways!

Thank you!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CCo Key Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our CoCo Key Fitchburg Online Treasure Hunt!

Grand Prize: Two Night Stay at CoCo Key Water Resort, Fitchburg-
Barbara Andrews-Carlson of Shrewsbury

2nd Prize: A family four-pack to CoCo Key Water Resort, Fitchburg-

Jen Leider of Fitchburg

3rd Prize: Two tickets to CoCo Key Water Resort, Fitchburg-

Elena Haschig of Westminster

Thank you for reading baystateparent!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Our January Issue

We did some housekeeping in our January issue. Our updated look is organized loosely around the theme of "home".

In every issue you will find:

Take Good Care: health topics
Moms who Rock: profiles of fab moms
Under my Roof: monthly column by award-winning writer/editor,Jim Keogh
Let's Roll: places to go/things to do with the family
JunkDrawers: a little of this/A little of that...highlights people, products, and places of Massachusetts
Finally Forever: building families through adoption
Oh, the Places You'll Go: award-winning calendar of events

Plus there will be something special, feature stories, each month.

Looking forward to 2009. Thanks for reading