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table of contents DECEMBER 2017



How to Stop Yelling and Start Parenting Calmly



Photography by Shawna Shenette

Of Family Events


holidays, here we go! 4

The Places You’ll Go 36 Oh, December Calendar

Quest For a Timeless Teddy Bear Leads Andover Mom to a New Career

in every issue

Who Goes First? Our 2017 Tabletop Games Gift Guide


Coloring Contest: Picture-Perfect Kicks



Quest For a Timeless Teddy Bear Leads Andover Mom to a New Career

How to Stop Yelling and Start Parenting Calmly



10 Tips for Navigating Holiday Stressors and ASD

Understanding Secondary Infertility



Teaching Kindness Via The Christmas Tree

12 14 18


Add to Cart: Our Favorite December Products


Research: Playing Multiple Sports Benefits Young Athletes More Than Focusing on One


A Parent’s Guide to Healthy Holidays


Safety, Not Suggestions: The Truth Behind Toy Age Recommendations


Co-Parents Should Put Children First, Especially at Holiday Time

meet team president and publisher KIRK DAVIS

associate publisher KATHY REAL 508-749-3166 ext. 331

MCAS Results Show Income, Race Continue to Affect Student Performance


OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO: December Calendar Of Family Events REEL LIFE WITH JANE: December Movie Releases TAKE 8: Parenting Humorist Bottlerocket

ripe 16

Three Holiday-Inspired Recipes You Can Make with Your Kids


Is It Picky Eating or Something More Serious?

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How to Stop Yelling and Start Parenting Calmly BY JOAN GOODCHILD

It’s been 10 years since Hal Runkel, author and licensed family and marriage therapist, first published his book, Screamfree Parenting. While


the ideas behind creating a happier, calmer household free of yelling haven’t changed, the world has — drastically. And a lot of that has to

do with our dependence on devices, he says. “Technology has so much more presence in our lives now,” Runkel

notes. “Because it is so ubiquitous, screens are how we spend our lives. Now parents are using screens to soothe babies and toddlers, to get them to stop crying. But if we’re just throwing a mesmerizing screen in front of our kids, we are shortcutting the process of parenting. We are asking screens to parent for us.” Runkel’s Screamfree Parenting philosophy, first espoused in his 2007 book, offers advice and education on how to have more calm, cool, and respectful exchanges between family members. In it, he encourages parents to let children experience the consequences of their actions, rather than yelling at them for misbehavior. “People say to me, ‘My kids don’t listen.’ I tell them, ‘Yes, they do. They hear every word. They just don’t obey.’ We think our words should automatically change their behavior, and we get upset when they don’t,” he says. His philosophy encourages parents to turn down the volume and instead provide consequences without all the drama. That means no warnings, no second chances after bad behavior starts, just quick and simple consequences without the blow-up. “Enact logical consequences for their behavior,” he advises. “These are natural, logical, consequences,

a way of saying, ‘I’m not going to be angry at you. I’m just going to lovingly introduce you to the way the world works.’” But screens present a new challenge to this model, one that he addresses in the new 10th anniversary edition. “They undermine the need for us to grow up,” he says. “Screamfree Parenting is a growth model. Parenting is designed to be difficult because it requires us to grow up as parents. Kids test you; screens don’t allow you to be tested. But it’s our job to pass that test, by helping them walk through a difficult situation.”

Scream-filled origins In the new edition, Runkel tells a story he has never told publicly before. As a new, stay-at-home dad, one stressed-filled day he came very close to physically abusing his daughter. After handling her while she cried inconsolably for hours, Runkel became, as he describes it, “completely flooded with frustration” and roughly dropped her into her crib and told her to shut up. He was instantly filled with regret. The incident was an “a-ha” moment in his life and parenting journey. “I realized this can happen to the

best of us,” he says. “Any of us can lose our mind. It was a watershed moment where I realized I have to come up with something other than screaming and hitting.” As a graduate student working toward a degree in therapy, Runkel learned more about human behavior and the downside of yelling as a parent. He and his wife, both of whom came from childhoods that contained hitting and screaming, began creating principles about what they wanted to do differently with their family. In school, he learned about emotional reactivity, a term that describes how parents react to child-related stress. And the most common form of emotional reactivity? Screaming. “It’s self-defeating. It creates the very outcomes you were hoping to avoid in the first place. It’s a shortcut that makes the next time you deal with it even harder,” he says. And screaming, because it is a disrespectful act, ultimately leads to disrespect from children, Runkel says. “You make it incredibly unlikely that you’ll have kids that will respect you and make good decisions if all they have experienced from you is you freaking out in the name of making them behave. People say, ‘Well, that’s the only way to get their attention.’ My

response: ‘Until when?’ As kids get to be teens, will they seek you out as a guide? All they are going to do is hide themselves from you,” he adds.

Turning down the volume So, how do you create a screamfree atmosphere in your household? Runkel says it’s all about a shift in mindset. Parenting, he says, isn’t about kids — it’s about parents. Learning to focus on yourself and keeping yourself under control is Step 1. The second is that as parents, we are not responsible for our children, he notes. He contends that parents are not responsible for their children, but to their children for how we behave, regardless of their choices. “If you think your job is to get your kid to behave, good luck,” he says. “Our job is to get them to learn — themselves — to behave. That is the essential mindset shift. You have to learn to focus on your behavior and learn to ask yourselves why things aren’t working.”

stories of families who have put Screamfree Parenting into practice. For example, one family installed small mirrors around their home so they could see how they looked in the heat of tough parenting moments. It was a way for them to be mindful of the image they were conveying daily to their children, Runkel says. In the end, whether it is screaming, rolling your eyes, or giving off another stressed impression to your child, it comes down to respect, he says. Drama and freak outs won’t ultimately earn you the respect you want from your children. “You can’t force people to respect you,” he notes. “The biggest efforts to force them to respect you often don’t work. Respect needs to be earned with respect.” Joan Goodchild is a veteran writer and editor, and a mom of two living in Central Massachusetts.

Taking the drama out of every day In revisiting the book after a decade, Runkel also included

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Understanding Secondary Infertility BY NINA RESETKOVA, MD


a fertility doctor, I see many instances in which women who have been able to get pregnant in the past are unexpectedly having trouble conceiving a second (or third) time around. For some, it has been a few years since their last child was born, and they are now doing many of the same things in anticipation of another positive pregnancy test. They’re not using birth control and are properly timing sex with ovulation. Yet, this time, the results haven’t been as expected. When this occurs, it can leave individuals and couples feeling confused and full of questions. How could this happen if they’ve already had a child without issue? Did they do something to suddenly become infertile? Undoubtedly, these concerns are justified. Unpredictable situations, especially when trying to conceive, can be startling and confusing. It’s very important, however, to understand that not all hope is lost. For those who are experiencing “secondary infertility,” the path to parenthood can be full of unique twists and turns, yet the chances of a future healthy pregnancy are quite good. What is secondary infertility? Secondary infertility is when a woman is unable to get pregnant or carry another pregnancy to term after having one child. If you have previously been able to conceive, are over the age of 35, and have been trying to conceive for longer than 6 months, you may be experiencing secondary infertility. Under the age of 35, this diagnosis is reached after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. 14 DECEMBER2017

Why am I unable to get pregnant this time around? It was much easier before! Many things change as a woman ages. One of the most important aspects, in relation to female fertility, is the aging of the ovaries. Egg quantity and egg quality decreases as you get older, so getting pregnant again may take a little longer, as a higher proportion of eggs that are released may be abnormal. With advanced age also comes new medical diagnoses that may affect the function of the ovaries, so it’s

weight or obese, setting small goals, such as losing 5% of your body mass, may help get you back to a healthier weight and can also help with ovulation for women with ovulatory dysfunction. Lastly, finding time to be intimate with your partner (for the second or third attempt) can become more challenging now that there’s another member of the household. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to try and make time for just yourself and your partner.

For those who are experiencing secondary infertility, the path to parenthood can be full of unique twists and turns, yet the chances of a future healthy pregnancy are quite good. important to assess whether you may be at risk for infertility related to any new medical conditions that have emerged since your last pregnancy. How should I take care of myself while trying to get pregnant? It’s easy to make changes in the way you care for yourself since you last gave birth. Many studies tell us that stress is an important contributor to menstrual cycles and infertility, but stress and the way we perceive it can be difficult to study. If you are trying to get pregnant again, make sure you are finding strategies to keep stress at bay, either through exercise, self-care, yoga, or meditation. If you are over-

What should I do if I am experiencing infertility? For women who are having trouble conceiving, it may be time to seek an evaluation with an infertility specialist, especially if they are: • Under age 35, and trying to conceive for 1 year. • Age 35-39, trying for 6 months. • Age 40 or older. • Experiencing irregular menstrual cycles. • Experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss (miscarriage). • Diagnosed with PCOS or endometriosis. • Aware of a family history of early menopause.

A specialist will perform a basic infertility evaluation, which includes assessing the fallopian tubes, your ovarian reserve (egg supply), and a semen analysis for men. Even if some of these tests have been conducted when you were trying for your first child, or with a different partner, it’s a great idea to update testing to ensure there have been no changes that could affect your chances or future treatment options. What if my doctor can’t find anything wrong? Can I still get pregnant? If there is no clear-cut diagnosis that can be reached after testing, don’t be discouraged. Thirty percent to 40% of couples fall into the diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility, and the success rates with fertility treatments can be quite good in comparison to the general infertility population. Nina Resetkova, MD, MBA, is a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) at Boston IVF (bostonivf. com) and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. She specializes in all aspects of fertility care, including difficult cases, second opinions, LGBTQ reproductive care, recurrent miscarriage, egg freezing, and more. She treats patients at Boston IVF’s South Shore/Quincy Fertility Center.

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Three Holiday-Inspired Recipes You Can Make with The Kids BY LAUREN SHARIFI, RD LDN The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to get into the kitchen with your kids, whether they’re 1 or 18. Spending time in the kitchen cooking together creates fond memories. It is also an exciting time to introduce your kids to new foods and cooking skills. Below are three recipes to try at home with your children and tips on how to involve them.

Frozen Yogurt Bark with Cranberries and Pistachios Prep Time: 5 Minutes Total Time: 5 Minutes Ingredients: • 1 cup vanilla Greek or siggis yogurt (nonfat or full fat) • 1/3 cup dried cranberries • 1/3 cup roasted pistachios (shelled) — chop up if younger toddlers will be eating them Directions: 1. In a small bowl, add yogurt, cranberries, and pistachios. Mix to combine.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Prep Time: 15 Minutes Total Time: 15 minutes Ingredients: • 1 (14.5-ounce) can of black beans, drained • 10-12 Medjool dates • ¼ cup peanut butter • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Slow Cooker Pesto Minestrone Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 6 hours 30 minutes Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes Ingredients: • 1 cup carrots, diced (about 2-3 carrots) • 1 cup celery, diced (about 2-3 celery sticks) • 1 onion, diced • 4 garlic cloves, minced • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium diced tomatoes • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock • 2 cups water • 2 teaspoons dried basil • 1 teaspoon dried oregano • ½ teaspoon dried thyme • 1 teaspoon dried parsley • 2 bay leaves • 1 cup whole wheat shell pasta • ½ cup parmesan cheese • 1 small zucchini, diced • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans 16 DECEMBER2017

Directions: 1. Line an 8x 8 baking pan with wax paper and set aside. 2. In a food processor, add black beans. Pulse until smooth. 3. Add in dates and pulse until combined. 4. Add in cocoa powder and peanut butter, and pulse until smooth. 5. Add mixture to baking pan and press out evenly with a spatula. 6. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

2. Line a cookie or baking sheet with parchment paper. Evenly spread with yogurt mixture. 3. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. 4. Remove and break into pieces. 5. Enjoy or place in a freezer bag, and store in the freezer. This recipe makes a great snack or dessert option during the holidays. It is also an easy recipe, perfect for toddlers and kids new to cooking. Have toddlers help pour and mix ingredients. Older kids can help measure out the ingredients and practice reading the recipe.

7. Cut into 16 pieces. This recipe is a fun spin on fudge using black beans as a replacement for fat and flour, and dates for sugar. It makes a healthy snack or dessert option for any holiday celebration. This recipe is also great for all ages to prepare. Have your kids help measure and pour ingredients. They can also practice counting by counting the dates. Older kids can help by pushing the buttons on the food processor and using their hands to smooth out the fudge in the pan.

• 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas • ½ cup prepared pesto sauce • Salt/pepper to taste Directions: 1. In a slow cooker, add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, water, dried basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3-4 hours. 2. Add zucchini, whole wheat pasta, kidney beans, chickpeas. Mix to combine and continue to cook on low for another 30 minutes, or until pasta is cooked. 3. Add in parmesan cheese and pesto, and mix to combine. 4. Add salt/pepper to taste. Soup is a great winter dish that the whole family will enjoy. Have your kids help measure and pour ingredients into the slow cooker. Older kids can help chop vegetables, open cans, and drain beans. One of the most important things to remember is that cooking doesn’t need to be perfect. Have fun con-

necting with your kids, and use it as a learning experience to help them develop new skills, try new food, and create happy memories. Lauren Sharifi is a registered dietitian nutritionist and food blogger at Lauren

works in private practice in Brighton at ASF-Peak Health (asfpeakhealth. com). She specializes in wellness and family/pediatric nutrition and works with individuals and families to make healthy eating easy, enjoyable and sustainable!

Is It Picky Eating or Something More Serious? BY LAURA ROIAS

As some parents can attest, “picky eating” is extremely common among children of all ages. Some kids may love green vegetables, others don’t. Some may despise the soft texture of oatmeal. Others might only eat bread if there’s peanut butter on it. And some might prefer a diet confined to mac and cheese or chicken nuggets. In the end, every child has his or her own set of unique practices and preferences. Most children will naturally begin to expand their dietary repertoire as they grow. For others, however, picky eating might not be just a phase — it may actually represent symptoms of a more serious problem. Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a condition that results when eating habits or patterns become too extreme, leading to significant nutritional deficiencies, energy loss, or delays in weight gain. Before you go perusing the Internet thinking your child might have ARFID, here are some key distinguishers of ARFID vs. picky eating: Avoidance of food for sensory reasons. Children who


are exceptionally sensitive to temperature, taste, smell, sight, and texture are prone to more serious feeding or eating disorders. Children with ARFID will often refuse to eat food because of its smell, appearance, or texture. This commonly includes foods with a more pronounced texture or smell, such as sulfurous vegetables or grapes that are “too soft.” Fear of perceived negative consequences of eating. Individuals with feeding or eating disorders will avoid numerous foods or entire food groups based on perceived negative consequences. These fears range from bloating to vomiting, choking, stomach pain, and/or GI distress. Little interest in food or eating. In cases of ARFID, the lack of interest or desire to eat is independent of any concerns related to weight or appearance, or attributable to other medical conditions. Food and/or eating is often simply deemed to be unenjoyable.

properly nourished. Children with ARFID often present with nutritional deficits, such as weight loss or failure to gain weight expected for height, anemia, bone loss, or stunted growth. Problems with friends, school, or relationships. ARFID can also result in social deficiencies. Children who have ARFID may avoid gatherings involving food, isolate from friends, demonstrate poor concentration, or exhibit greater anxiety than peers. Again, picky eating is quite common, and most cases likely don’t require any medical intervention. But cases can involve a more serious underlying illness, such as ARFID. Understanding the distinction between normal picky eating and ARFID is essential for early intervention and treatment. Laura Roias is director of Walden Behavioral Care’s Worcester clinic. She can be reached at lroias@

Nutritional deficits. While few children will eat anything and everything, most children are

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MCAS Results Show Income, Race Continue to Affect Student Performance By Doug Page


his year’s recently released MCAS results show, with few exceptions, that children from high-income communities outperformed their less-advantaged peers, and a demographic achievement gap continues to persist. Demographically, Asian and white students performed best, according to information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which administers the test and oversees the Commonwealth’s K-12 public schools. African Americans, Latinos, students considered “economically disadvantaged,” and those with disabilities scored lower, according to DESE’s own demographic breakdowns. Historically, MCAS tests have shown a demographic achievement gap, and although this year was the debut of a new version of the annual exam, the results were similar demographically, according to the department. • Thirty percent of African-American students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in English, 26% in math. • Twenty-nine percent of Latino students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in English, 28% in math.


• Twenty-nine percent of lowincome students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in English, 27% in math. • Asian students performed the best, with 74% meeting or exceeding expectations in math, 67% in English. • Fifty-six percent of white students met or exceeded grade-level expectations in English, 55% in math. “We have these persistent gaps in achievement, and yet we continue to take the same approach and use standardized tests,” noted Lisa Guisbond, executive director of Citizens for Public Schools, a Boston-based public education advocacy group. “We’re doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s Einstein’s Theory of Insanity.” “The reality is that family dynamics and the educational background of parents, along with income and habits, are a huge part of why kids from upper-income homes do well [on standardized tests] and those from lower incomes don’t,” said Frederick Hess, an executive editor at Education Next, a journal published at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington,

DC-based think-tank. “Family and home are a big part of a child’s success on standardized tests, but we [as a country] have chosen not to think or talk about it.” Much of this is confirmed by this year’s results, which show students from Dover-Sherborn, Concord, Hopkinton, Southborough, and Carlisle — school districts with annual household incomes near or above $200,000 — performing best, while children from Holyoke, Webster, Southbridge, Orange, and Brockton, school districts with annual household incomes averaging less than $60,000, scoring worst. “[The new MCAS test] doesn’t change anything,” said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. “If you’re going to have a bell curve, the kids who are the least advantaged are going to continue to do worse overall. Individual kids will perform better, but it’s not going to change anything in terms of [which school districts are] going to be on the bottom of the barrel. [The test is] always going to give the impression that the leastresourced districts look worse. That’s not going to change.” “Education is not going to be improved by any state assessment,” added Todd Gazda, Ludlow Public

Schools superintendent. “If we transform our focus on how we’re teaching and how we’re expecting our students to learn, then we’ll see greater success. We’re preparing our students for the workforce, to become productive members of our society. Our fixation on tests and test scores is getting in the way.” “Critical thinking skills are best exhibited in assessments developed by teachers who know their students and who can develop collaborativebased projects for their students,” said Brad Jackson, Holliston Public Schools superintendent. “I don’t know how you can expect to test for creative problem-solving in a onesize-fits-all performance assessment that has to be written in such a way that 800,000 of them can be corrected in three weeks. We need to start thinking of competency, not performance-based assessments, because you can’t assess those soft skills.”

Inside the new test Just over half of the students tested failed to meet or exceed grade-level knowledge in English and math, with the majority rated as “Partially Meeting Expectations” or “Not Meeting Expectations,” new descriptions used to define student perfor-

mance. Nicknamed “MCAS 2.0,” this new version is a hybrid exam consisting of Common Core-oriented questions and those unique to the Bay State. It was administered for the first time this past spring to approximately 425,000 public school children in grades 3-8, about 40% of the state’s K-12 public school student body. For the first time, a significant majority of students — about 60% — took the test online. “One of the things that impacted scores this year was taking it on a computer,” Ludlow Public Schools Superintendent Gazda said. “If you’re doing the test on a computer, you’ve got the content to figure out, plus the platform is new.” Regardless, this year’s results may come as a shock to many parents. Two years ago, 80% of all 8th graders taking the previous version of the test scored “Proficient” or higher, and nearly 70% of all 5th graders scored the same on the math portion. “The problem with [standardized] tests is that we tend to measure them like the 100-yard dash in the Olympics,” Hess noted. “But they’re more like Olympic figure skating. There’s all this stuff behind the scenes that affects the scores: Are the questions harder? How many need to be answered correctly? Where are the cut [passing] scores set? Scores can be set higher or lower. So the

scores [kids receive] can be higher or lower, but that doesn’t mean schools are better or worse.” DESE Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson warned parents not to compare this year’s MCAS results with those of previous years. In a letter posted on the department’s website, he explained that the test “establishes high expectations to better reflect whether students are on track for the next grade level, and ultimately for college and career.” “2017 is the baseline year — the first year of a new assessment — and we expect that, over time, more students will score Meeting Expectations or above,” Wulfson wrote. He noted that when the MCAS debuted in 1998, relatively few students scored well. “When [DESE] looked at the test and the questions and raised the bar, they wanted to have this be a meaningful test built on career and college readiness,” said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. “They want fewer kids, when they graduate from high school, needing a tutorial or some kind of [academic] intervention when they go to college. Among those [rated] ‘Proficient’ on the old MCAS, there were quite a few kids who needed a remedial program [in college]. By setting an even-higher bar, they’re saying that performance will be pushed to improve.”



DESE said about 30% of the state’s high-school graduates attending a Massachusetts state-run university or college have, over the years, required remedial help in English and math. “I have yet to see the data that supports that assertion,” Holliston Public Schools Superintendent Jackson noted. “We use a very broad stroke to define problems that may or may not be statewide. Show me the data about Holliston kids.” Sandra Stotsky, a former senior associate commissioner at DESE who helped create some of the first versions of the original MCAS, worries students and teachers won’t be served well by the new version. “Teachers will be operating blind because DESE won’t release the test questions,” she said. “How is anyone to know which questions were answered correctly and which ones weren’t?” In previous years, she added, DESE shared with teachers the best answers they received from what’s called an “open-response” question, which requires students to write a short essay or paragraph to answer the question. “Built into this approach [of the MCAS test] is an assumed distrust of local education officials,” Jackson said. “Somewhere in the 1980s and 1990s, local control of education became synonymous with distrust of local education officials, and

state and federal takeover of public schools.” While Jackson says his views are not widely held, he noted: “There’s frustration among educators at all levels in Massachusetts. It’s more extensive than people think.” While state and federal laws require Massachusetts to administer the MCAS, Hess warns there’s always the possibility for a revolt against the test. “If you set high targets [for passing the test] and then they don’t get met, there’s always the potential for a huge backlash,” he said. “It happens when people feel like they’re being set up to fail — all because there are impossible targets to hit and ridiculous expectations.” Doug Page is a Medfield father of two and awardwinning writer whose newspaper career started in high school. He’s written stories, sold ads, and delivered newspapers during the morning’s wee hours. He’s covered stories as shocking as the crash of Delta flight 191 in Dallas many years ago to the recent controversy involving Common Core and standardized testing in Massachusetts.

FIRST and THIRD TUESDAY of each month 10:30-11:15 AM

“…Mary was a bookworm. Sometimes when her siblings went out to play, she’d stay at home reading. Other times when she joined them, as often as not she’d eventually slip away to a secluded spot where they’d find her later, engrossed in a book.” — From A World More Bright: The Life of Mary Baker Eddy by Isabel Ferguson and Heather Vogel Frederick

In this children’s program, young visitors will not only listen to stories but also engage in playful activities. Recommended for bookworms 5 years old and younger with adults. No registration required. 200 Massachusetts Ave., Boston MA 02115 For more information, please contact our Educational Programs Coordinator 617-450-7203 |

Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School NOW ACCEPTING LOTTERY APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR DEADLINE: FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 2018 at 3:00 pm

• Classical liberal arts K-12 public school aimed at academic excellence, musical competence and character formation • Level I school district consisting of 1,426 students • Uniform Policy for all grades • Full day Kindergarten • Middle School and High School athletics • International Baccalaureate Programme offered in High School

Enrollment Lottery will be on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm

KINDERGARTEN INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS Monday, January 8th, 10-11 am in the Elementary School Snow Day: Tuesday, January 16

Lottery applications accepted for grades K-6 OPENINGS AVAILABLE FOR KINDERGARTEN (All applicants for grades 1-6 will be placed on a waitlist.) Applications available on our website Website: / Email: • 508-854-8400, x3644 10 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA 01606 The Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or homelessness and all students have equal access to the general education program and the full range of any occupational/vocational education programs offered by the district.


Research: Playing Multiple Sports Benefits Young Athletes More Than Focusing on Just One BY DR. LYNN PANTUOSCO-HENSCH



fall sports are winding down, I am updating the colorcoded family calendar that highlights the sports commitments for each of my four children. Although I coached three of my boys’ soccer teams this fall, winter and spring will be even busier as we navigate hockey, basketball, lacrosse, and baseball. We are still a multisport family in an increasingly specialized world. My husband and I are willing to keep up the juggling act because we want our children to sample many sports before turning their attention to a select few. Our oldest is only 10, but the athletic decision-making has already begun. Friends and teammates all decided between lacrosse and baseball last spring, rather than playing both. We opted to hold off on that decision another year, giving our son a chance to grow and develop in both sports a little longer. He also started club soccer, which we know will change everything. One of our primary concerns with club soccer is the potential pressure that club sports can create to specialize early in a single sport. Why is it that clubs, coaches, or parents encourage kids to specialize at all? The premise of specialization in sport is that the increased time and dedication to a single sport will enable a player to reach his or her peak potential. In reality, however, research nor practice truly validate a specialized approach. Knowing the facts about long-term athletic development, specialization, and athletic timelines can help guide parents with athletic decision making.

Decision-making odds Researchers suggest that children are specializing in sport earlier and more frequently. The trend was recently confirmed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The youth sports culture has changed, yet the outcomes are not any different. An estimated 5% of high-school athletes go on to compete in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III. Only 1%-2% of high-

school athletes earn an athletic scholarship. These percentages have remained roughly the same over the past 15 years, even though participation has increased.

Long-term athletic development Recently, more attention has been given to the process of athletic development and talent identification. While there is no single recipe for success, governing bodies, medical professionals, and academic researchers have compiled available research from around the world. The IOC contends that “empirical evidence shows that a diversity of activities (including variations of play and practice) in early development is an indicator of continued involvement in more intense activities later in life, elite performance, and continued participation in sport.” As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children base their athletic decisions at least in part on the available research.

Sport specialization vs. multiple sports As previously noted, there is a trend toward earlier specialization in sports. In a consensus statement, the IOC calls specialization a contemporary phenomenon that has led to an increase in competitiveness and professionalism within youth sport. Among the consequences of early specialization are documented health issues, such as increases in overuse injuries, overtraining, and athletic burnout. Conversely, the IOC states that diverse exposure and sports sampling “enhance motor development and athletic capacity, reduce injury risk, and increase the opportunity for the child to discover the sport(s) that he/she will enjoy and excel at.” In addition to the findings from the IOC, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) conducted a comprehensive

review of the available literature. The AOSSM states that “youth specialization before the age of 12 years is associated with increased burnout and dropout rates, and decreased athletic development over time. More importantly, there is a lack of evidence that early specialization is necessary for adult elite performance.” Researchers suggest that high volumes of deliberate practice during childhood are not a requirement for elite performance in most sports. Instead, the AOSSM recommends a gradual transition from deliberate play to deliberate practice — while sampling a variety of sports — and then focusing on a primary sport. Specialization is not recommended until after the age of 13, when athletes have the proper motor and cognitive foundation. Among the other valuable suggestions, the AOSSM also reiterates the importance of age-appropriate strength and conditioning, neuromuscular training, and free play. As previously noted, although the trend is toward earlier and more frequent specialization, the data regarding the likelihood of playing a sport in college remains relatively constant. Research conducted by the NCAA in 2015 concluded that “student-athletes in many sports played that sport year-round growing up and participated in the sport on both club and high-school

teams. Many NCAA athletes think youth in their sport play in too many contests, and a number of them (especially men) wish they had spent more time sampling other sports when they were young.” In summary, the available research at the international, national, and collegiate levels provides similar findings and themes regarding long-term athletic development and the role of specialization. The consensus is that athletic development is a long-term process with many contributing factors, including developmental timelines.

Currently, players are being weeded out of the system before they’ve even come close to reaching their athletic potential. Often players are cut prematurely or relegated to the B team. Coaches and parents alike should be patient with the talent development process, allowing for proper growth and maturation in sport over time. The hope is for children to become life-long athletes.

Athletic timeline

Knowledge is powerful. With a better understanding of the factors that contribute to long-term success in sports, parents can better navigate their children’s athletic decision making. My hope is to empower parents to better communicate with coaches and advocate for their children.

There are many clichés about timing being everything, but in youth sports it really holds true. Despite getting an earlier start in sport, the window of opportunity is narrowing for youth sports participation. Statistically, most children drop out of organized sports between the ages of 11 and 13. The unfortunate catch here is that most athletes do not peak before high school. Any retrospective look at accomplished athletes’ careers reminds us that athletic development is a longerterm process. The IOC notes that current talent development systems often favor early bloomers, which is not the athletic population most likely to succeed at the elite level.

What can parents do?

1. Communicate with coaches Parents are encouraged to communicate effectively with coaches. Be sure you understand the coaches’ expectations, philosophy, and agenda up front. Ask questions early on to be sure your family goals and values align with the coach and organization. For example, youth sport coaches should be more concerned with player development than scores and standings. Coaches

should demonstrate habits such as equal playing time and rotating positions to give each child an opportunity to grow and develop over time. Seek out coaches who communicate comfortably and convey an approach commensurate with your priorities. 2. Maintain healthy schedules Parents should resist succumbing to the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). So often parents encourage their children’s participation in various sport experiences out of concern about missing out and falling behind. This modern-day condition leads to overscheduled children who are more susceptible to athletic burnout and overuse injuries. Interestingly, there are more regulations on how often NCAA athletes can train and compete than there are for children. The only real gatekeeper to children’s participation in sports are parents. Maintain a healthy balance of sports commitments, other extracurricular activities, and family time. While this is easier said than done, just remember it is OK to say no. When you map out your family calendar, be mindful of the athletic timeline data and think mid- to longterm! 3. Help children become wellrounded athletes It is increasingly important for children to develop as well-rounded



athletes, complete with mental, physical, and life skills. Youth sports should be an ideal venue to develop a repertoire of these skills. In particular, emphasize the importance of a strong athletic foundation with your children. Progressive development of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and flexibility are key to long-term athleticism. 4. Promote free play One of the criticisms of youth sport is how adult-driven the process has become. Somewhere along the line, youth sports went from unstructured sand lots to structured leagues. A combination of the two is key for athletic development. Through free play, children have fun, learn to be creative, and build a variety of skills. Experts suggest that free play is critical for healthy motor development, including fine motor skills, core strength, agility, balance, and coordination. Free play and pick-up games build intrinsic motivation to practice and compete, which is helpful for long-term athletic development.




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5. Develop fitness and injury prevention Children benefit from adding physical fitness to their sports training routine. Specifically, training can focus on locomotor skills that prevent injuries, such as squats, lunges, jumping, hopping, skipping, and so on. Various forms of neuromuscular training enable players to learn to use their bodies more effectively and reduce injury rates at the same time. The American College of Sports Medicine ( has guidelines for youth strength and conditioning, which parents may find helpful. Increasing fitness and injury prevention can promote healthy long-term athletic development. 6. Get an honest assessment On occasion, seek out an honest, objective assessment of your child. In this era when anyone can pay to play on a club team, it is especially important to have a realistic sense of your child’s ability and potential. Be sure to communicate with coaches when making athletic decisions. Learn more about the level and sport setting that are a best fit for your child now and in the future.

Try to find a setting that provides an optimal challenge for your child. 7. Encourage multiple sports participation There is no evidence that athletes should specialize before puberty (approximately between ages 12 13). Experts recommend sampling a variety of sports and following a step-wise progression toward a primary sport. Keep in mind there is a distinction between specialization and year-round participation. Often children balance a primary sport with other sports, not instead of other sports. Playing a primary sport intermittently throughout the year can be safe, if coaches and parents monitor for overtraining, overuse injuries, and athletic burnout. Take regular breaks from a primary sport to maintain health and motivation.

Increase the odds As I navigate my children’s athletic decision-making, I am mindful of their long-term athletic development. My hope is to help them build a strong athletic foundation with a repertoire of skills that will enable them to succeed in a variety of sports — and life! As my children approach their middle school years, the need for sound and thoughtful athletic decision-making will surely increase. We will use the research and best practices shared here to guide our decision-making and increase our children’s odds of making it in college athletics. Based on the evidence-based approaches provided, parents can all help their children become better, healthier, and happier youth athletes for the long run. Dr. Lynn PantuoscoHensch is an associate professor in the Movement Science department at Westfield State University, teaching motor development, exercise science, and other sportrelated courses. She is the mother of four boys and lives with her family in Longmeadow. She thanks Paula Welch for her editorial support.


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Who Goes First? Our 2017 Tabletop Gift Guide Word-A-Melon

Ages 6+ 2-4 players $19.99,

Cobra Paw

A combination of Memory and Bananagrams, letter tiles (called “seeds”) are placed face-down on the game tray. Players roll dice to determine how many seeds to turn over and make a word — if possible — out of those they chose. Seeds used in a word go to the player. Any unused are returned, face down, to the same spot. The more players can remember which seeds are where, the better they can construct longer words on their turn, thereby collecting more seeds. The player with the most seeds at the end of the game wins. The game is self-contained in its own carrying case, a plus for gaming on-the-go.

Ages 5+ 2-6 players $14.99, This game is simple, fast, and fun. Lay the tiles on a table, roll the dice, and be the first to find — and using your catlike reflexes, grab — a tile that matches the symbols rolled. The first player to accumulate 6 tiles wins. This is a great game for players who like action and quick game play.

Crappy Birthday Ages 8+ 4-8 players $19.99, Players take turns being the Birthday Judge. other players (the Gift Givers) each give the Birthday Judge one gift from their hand — one either he or she will like or one he or she will hate. The Birthday Judge mixes up the cards, reads them, and picks the best — and the worst — gift. Gifts might be “Bagpipe Alarm Clock,” “Taxidermy Your Pet,” “Soul-Searching Vacation,” or “Hot Air Balloon Trip.” The players who gave the best and worst gifts each score 1 point; the first player to 5 points wins. This game is laugh-inducing for all ages and a slam dunk for family conversation.

The Oregon Trail: Hunt for Food Ages 12+ 2-6 players $14.99,

This card game is based on the same-named staple of early computer gaming, where your pioneer party tried to journey from Missouri to Oregon without dying a horrible death. (Spoiler: Pretty much everyone died a horrible death.) Last year, Pressman released a card game based on the original game (“The Oregon Trail”). This year’s Hunt For Food edition focuses on what many believe is the most fun part of the original computer game: shooting wild ani-mals. The goal: Shoot enough animals/collect enough food before everyone in your wagon meets his maker. What’s great about this edition is it can be played on its own or with last year’s original card game.

Go Nuts For Donuts! Ages 8+ 2-6 players $14.99,

This “pastry-picking card game” has players trying to score the most points by collecting donuts. Each round, a series of cute, colorful donut cards (each with different point values) are up for grabs. Player secretly bid on the one they want. If you are the only person to bid on a particular donut, you get it, but if another player bids on the same donut, neither of you get it. Deciding which donuts to bid on takes a little strategy, as some are worth points on their own and others only score if they are part of a larger set. Do you want to bid on a card you think another player wants, thereby shutting you both out? Players leave their donut cards face up, so you can keep an eye on your opponents to see if they’re pursuing the same strategy. This is a fun, fast game that’s very easy for kids to learn, but also fun for adults. 24 DECEMBER2017

Think ’n Sync

Ages 12+ 3-8 players $9.99, The object: Score points by quickly shouting out the same answer as your teammate. But there’s a twist: teammates change. A player reads a question to the two players on his left: “Name an ice cream flavor,” “Name a famous princess,” or “Name a bug with wings.” The two players immediately yell out the answer they think the other person will say. If they match, they get a point. Teams get a chance to answer four questions per turn. After they’re done, play moves to the reader’s left; now that person is the reader, and the next two people to her left try to be in sync. The box says the game is for ages 12+, but we’ve played it with elementary school-aged kids and they do fine if you omit questions that may be tough, like, “Name a Republican president.” It’s a fun game that will provoke some funny answers (and mild arguments as teammates wonder why their partner didn’t shout out the “right” answer). Gameplay is quick, and the box is small, making it easy to take along on a trip or to game night.

Dr. Beaker

Ages 8+ 2-4 players $21.99, Blue Orange Games is the leader in fast-moving games that have players racing to accomplish a goal with their hands (Dr. Eureka, Dr. Microbe, Go Go Gelato). In this new title, each player has a beaker. Flip over a challenge card, and players race to be the first to, using their stirring rod, manipulate the molecules in their beaker into the order matching the card. It’s a fine-motor and dexterity workout for all players, and lots of fun for all ages.

UNO ColorADD Ages 7+ 2-10 players $5.99,

UNO is the granddaddy of family card games, but one that, until now, was inaccessible to people who cannot distinguish between certain colors. This fall, Mattel partnered with ColorADD, a colorblind accessibility and education organization, to develop UNO ColorADD. In this new version, symbols representing red, green, blue, and yellow are printed on their respective colorful cards, bringing this family classic to all. (The rules are unchanged; game play is the same as always.)

Say Anything Family Edition

Ages 8+ 3-6 players $19.99,

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle — The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion Ages 11+ 2-4 players $29.99,

The game that asks: How well do you know your family? Players rotate being the Judge, who reads a question, for example: “Which fast food chain would it be hardest to live without?” Players race to write and submit the answer they think the Judge will choose (anyone submitting an answer already provided has to write down another answer, hence the need for speed). The Judge secretly chooses his or her favorite, then the players bet on which they think the Judge picked. Players whose choice matches the Judge win points, and the person with the most points after 12 questions wins the game.

An addition to last year’s phenomenal “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle,” this cooperative deck-building game allows up to four players to band together to defeat evil, just like the original game, but this expansion adds magical creatures to the list. Your mission: Defeat or tame the creatures and secure key locations from the forces of evil. Note: You will need the original game to play this expansion, but that’s good news because the original game is fantastic. It’s also cooperative (everyone wins or loses together), not competitive, which adds a great flavor to game night, especially with kids. Just like its predecessor, the game quality and components are top-notch. A must for Potter-loving families. BAYSTATEPARENT 25

Quest For a Timeless Teddy Bear Leads Andover Mom to a New Career BY MELISSA SHAW


or most first-time moms on maternity leave, their personal goals are basic. Take a shower. Eat. Get some sleep — if you’re lucky. But Michelle Whalen’s goals, while initially unplanned, turned out to be more ambitious: She created a company on her first maternity leave and launched it on her second. If that wasn’t impressive enough on its own, Whalen completely changed careers, moving from designing buildings to creating teddy bears and books as founder of Andover Bear Company. “I’ve always been a creative person,” she says. “Growing up, I loved art and photography. My father was an engineer, so I also had this interest in buildings.” After graduating from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, Whalen earned her master’s degree in architecture and


worked in the field for nine years, designing primarily higher education buildings — laboratories, libraries, and learning spaces. “I got to the point where I wanted to do more with my skillset,” she says. “When I look back at my work, it always had this whimsical, fun feel to it. I had this idea that I wanted to start a children’s brand, but I didn’t quite know how or where to start.” The arrival of her first child, Collette, now 4, provided the inspiration. “When my oldest daughter was born I wanted to find her that classic teddy bear, something that was special and she could have as a companion,” Whalen says. “I couldn’t find anything unique at a reasonable price point. I got this idea: Maybe I could use that as a place to start to create a business. I went on maternity leave and thought, I’m going to start something.” Whalen worked on the design with a goal of developing a classic, timeless teddy bear, like mainstays Winnie the

Pooh and Corduroy. “They’re not commercial looking or what you see on most of the store shelves,” she says of her bears. “They’re all about the details, beautiful in their simplicity.” At 12 inches tall, the bears all boast the same hand-sewn eyes, nose, and subtle smile, and come in brown, grey, light grey, and amber. Soft, yet durable, they’re made of natural fabrics (70% cotton, 30% linen) and are unadorned, save for the company’s signature ABC (Andover Bear Company) embroidered on one paw. (Although hand-sewn with no parts to fall off, all bears are thirdparty tested to ensure they meet industry safety standards.) “You see a lot of plush toys have that fake fur look. I felt like the cotton fabric was more natural and simple,” she says. The bear’s simplicity was key for Whalen, not just for the aesthetic, but for its overall purpose. Each is an open-ended, blank canvas designed to

Photos by Amy Buelow Photography


inspire a child’s imagination, allowing the toy to be whatever a child wants at any time. “Stuffed animals are a great learning tool for little ones to express their imagination, that’s what I wanted to embrace,” she notes. “I feel like people want to get back to celebrating the small things. In a world where you have everything thrown at you all hours of the day, it’s nice to celebrate those simple things in life.” While creating the design and details on maternity leave, Whalen was encouraged enough to leave her career in architecture behind and work at home, caring for Collette and her burgeoning business. “When I went on maternity leave and started to put together this bear, I was, like, I think I really want to go for it. I’m one of those people, once I get something in my head, I have to get it out,” she laughs. After refining the design to her liking, she went online in search of a manufacturer, found a match that met her requirements, and

began exchanging samples “back and forth until we got exactly what we wanted. We work with a lovely group of people, really talented women [in China].” Overseas production allowed Whalen to achieve one of her main goals: “I wanted it to be unique, but also affordable and able to reach a lot of people.” (The bears currently sell for $22.50 at Whalen spent two years developing her business, and after having her second child, Margot, in 2015, she was ready to officially launch. “By the time Margot arrived, we had the website launched. Once we put the website together, people started to take notice and one opportunity led to the next,” she says. “People were, like, ‘Wait, you just had a baby and now you’re starting a business?’ But I started it two years before.” Whalen works out of her home office with her daughters, who she reports enjoy stopping by: “They’re always in here trying to grab bears,” she laughs. She credits family and friends for

their help and support in launching her endeavor while raising two little girls: “It takes a team to make something special. You need people in your life to help do that. I have a lot of help.” Whalen’s bears are available on her company site, at select boutiques, and can also be purchased via the websites of Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us. This fall, the bears are joined by a new product, personalized letter books. Each 16-page board book features one letter that corresponds with the first letter of a child’s name. The book is filled with whimsical illustrations and other words that begin with the same letter, reinforcing phonics and alliteration, and the last page features the child’s name spelled out. “My mantra in life is to make beautiful things with people that I love. When you make something, whether it’s a meal, or an article, or a piece of art, I think you get a satisfaction that comes with that. I believe it leads to happiness.”

“I feel like people want to get back to celebrating the small things. In a world where you have everything thrown at you all hours of the day, it’s nice to celebrate those simple things in life.”





he holidays are upon us, with family members, friends, and neighbors from far and wide gathering in celebration to share a meal, exchange gifts, and enjoy being together. But for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), holidays can truly be overwhelming, as they are often accompanied by sensory overload, and the routine in which they find comfort is altered. There are many different strategies that can help children and families with ASD navigate what can be a stimulus-filled time of year:

1. Keep the schedule consistent. Many families like to do things “on the fly.” This is simply not going to work, as children with ASD often do not do well with change. They need consistent structure similar to what they are accustomed to at school or through behavioral center or homebased services. 2. Set up a visual activity schedule. Picture cards representing daily events work well, as well as written lists for children who can read. Parents may put them in a list or on a calendar. Others need something a little more involved, in which the event is added to the calendar and

reviewed every day leading up to the event. For example, if grandparents are arriving for a visit on Dec. 17, post pictures of them on Dec. 17 on the calendar, along with a list of all your family’s planned activities. This gives a visual representation of what will occur when the grandparents visit. Additionally, review the calendar and corresponding pictures daily. 3. Make use of “surprise” icons. Teach your child to prepare for a surprise by using special icons, such as a question mark, on the calendar. Essentially, your child will gain the understanding that a new

event — a surprise — will happen when the “surprise” icon appears. By using this type of visual schedule and cue, holiday activities that may not yet be named, and which are not typically part of his/her day, become part of the planned routine. The “surprise” icon can also be used when a very unexpected event occurs. 4. Practice going to a place beforehand to reduce anxiety. Say, for example, the entire family is looking forward to attending a holiday concert where your niece will perform a piano solo. First, be sure to add this event to your child’s visual

We’re Here to Help Whether your loved one with special needs is an adult or a child, we can help with: • Special Needs Planning • Transition Planning & Adult Services • Advocacy • Guardianship & Alternatives Contact Frederick M. Misilo, Jr., Esq. 508.459.8059 or

Art by Filly Mastrangelo, an artistentrepreneur living with autism 28 DECEMBER2017


wards, such as playing video games when the event is over. 7. Allow extra time. Rushing is never good. A misplaced shoe or car key can throw off even the most carefully made plans. Note the amount of time it takes to get to/from a place when you practice going, and factor in plenty of extra time. 8. Bring along activities. Be sure to bring along a bin of activities so your child always has something to do in the car, at someone’s house, and so forth.


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9. Avoid holiday shopping with your child. It rarely proves successful, whether you’ve carefully planned a shopping expedition or you want to make a “quick stop” at the department store for a last-minute gift on your way home. It’s best to do your shopping when your child is otherwise occupied.

activity schedule. Next, if possible, visit the venue so your child is familiar with almost every aspect of the event — from the roads you will travel to get there to the auditorium itself. 5. Role play and rehearse. Whether the grandparents are coming for dinner or you’re attending that concert, do some role-playing and go through the motions of being there ahead of time. Practice what to say to the grandparents, and when to sit quietly and when to clap during the concert. It may also help to make a video and narrative of the process and watch it with your child prior to the event. Someone once said to me, “No one is going to know how many times you’ve practiced being there.” It’s true. The more your child and family practice being there, the smoother the event will go, the more comfortable your child will be, and the more socially skilled your child will appear. 6. Create a social story. A social story tells your child what will happen, in detail, at an event — who will be there, what to eat, what to do, and what happens after. You can follow up this social story with a contingency that says if they follow through, there is a reward after-

10. Keep holiday activities a suitable length. Estimate how long your child can be appropriate and not anxious, and plan for an amount of time that is less than that. Don’t plan for your child to do things that he/she doesn’t do at any other time of the year, for example, sitting at a table for a meal. Make sure that what you are expecting at the holiday usually happens at home on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to make exceptions, such as allowing your child to use an iPad at the table so you can sit and enjoy your meal with adult company while your child is occupied. What if you’ve anticipated all potential stressors, taken some (or all) of these steps, and things still go awry? Don’t be discouraged. It’s counterintuitive to never try again if one event goes wrong. Keep trying. Above all, keep things as predictable as possible, as this will set your child up for success. Jill McGrale Maher, M.A., BCBA, LABA, is director of Behavioral Concepts, Inc.’s Fitchburg location. BCI has two locations, Worcester and Fitchburg, and serves children with autism from communities within a one-hour radius of its Worcester location. For more information, visit

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Saturday, Dec. 16 • 2-4 pm

Come see the power of Montessori! • Watch your child work with Montessori materials • Arts & Crafts wreaths and snowmen, painting, etc. • Coffee and festive refreshments

238 Highland Avenue, Needham

FOOD & CLOTHING DRIVE Drop-off Dec. 11-16 7:30-4 pm

Please consider bringing non-perishable foods, clothing, and new gloves and hats. Donations will benefit the Needham Community Council, Dedham Food Pantry & Cradles to Crayons.


Experience the 10th Anniversary production of

A Christmas Carol December 15 - 23 Sensory-friendly performance • Sun, Dec 17 • 11AM • All tickets 50% off!

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New shows added all the time. Visit our website for current listings. 877.571.SHOW (7469)

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2 Southbridge Street • Worcester, MA • 01608 Worcester Center for Performing Arts is a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which owns and operates The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.



Teaching Kindness Via The Christmas Tree BY MICHELLE PERRAS-CHARRON

For many, December brings the arduous task of hauling boxes or plastic bins up from the basement or down from the attic. There’s decorating work to be done, outside and inside, the center of which for many families is the Christmas tree. Every family has its own way of decorating — some ornaments hung by children whose once-tiny handprints are forever painted on them, some by the couple whose marriage it celebrates. Whatever the ornament, there is likely a history behind it, as “every ornament tells a story.” Centered around that theme comes a new book and ornament set, Oliver The Ornament, which author Todd Zimmermann hopes will spread a message of kindness and become a holiday tradition ( Oliver The Ornament tells the story of The Nelson family and their ornament collection, which includes Oliver, a winking ice skater who was purchased on the Nelson parents’ first date. A family favorite, Oliver emerges from the box broken one season. He is bullied by some of his fellow ornaments, who trick him and leave him behind in the attic. His journey from the attic to the tree is fueled by his kindness and forgiveness. “The anti-bullying message is really, really important,” Zimmermann says. “But I think the stronger message is the kindness that you see exhibited by the ornaments and by Oliver.” It’s also emphasized by Zimmermann, who holds author readings coupled with “kindness-centric” activities for children at stores, schools, hospitals, and youth groups. During these events, he talks about the quality — what it means and what it looks like. “I much prefer to encourage children to do something positive, rather than scolding them,” he says, explaining why he shifts the focus to acts of kindness that occur in the book, rather than bullying. The spark of the story came in December 2013 when Zimmerman was hanging the last of nearly 200 ornaments on an already-full Christmas tree, and a friend remind-

ed him he didn’t have to hang them all. “I said, ‘What am I going to do, put him back in the attic?’ and the idea for Oliver began with that,” Zimmermann recalls. A few days later, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day, Zimmermann wrote the story in less than an hour. He self-published the book after a successful July 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which exceeded his goal of $50,000, and at the time was the top-funded Kickstarter publishing project worldwide. Surpassing the funding goal for a Christmas book in the middle of summer prompted one thought: I’m onto something. Illustrated by Teddy Lu, Oliver was initially sold in 15 Midwest stores. Last year, Zimmermann recruited Oliver ambassadors, held reading parties, and began attending trade shows nationwide. As a result, the gift set can now be found in more than 350 independent stores. “Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this is where I would be,” he says. He hopes families will enjoy Oliver together this holiday season: “I love the thought of everyone sitting down together and talking about family traditions, and telling the stories behind their ornaments.” In keeping with Oliver’s message of kindness, 5% of proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to children’s charities. Zimmermann plans to write six more books about the different ornaments on The Nelson’s tree. With each subsequent book, a higher percentage of the proceeds will be donated — up to 100% by Book 7.

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add to CART The coolest stuff we found online this month



1. Hamilpins, $12+, shop.caseybarber. com: Fans of the red-hot musical phenomenon can show their love via these enamel pins featuring representations of seven characters (available individually or in sets).



2. SackPals, $39.95, Kids can get cozy in this mini sleeping sack and attach the included four stuffed pals and other decorations to the surface for imaginative playtime. 3. Milk & Cookies and Me Time Spa Kits, $12, Mr. Bubble goes Luxe with these upscale, relaxing bath kits in classic and new scents.



4. GloLens, $24, Improve your selfie game with this 12-LEDbulb accessory that produces better lighted (and better-looking) pictures. 5. Teacher’s Pet, $16.99, teacherspet4u. com: Give your child’s teacher a holiday gift they’ll use everyday — the world’s best whiteboard eraser.


6. BlissBulb, $27.99, Available in red, green, and blue, BlissBulb screws into a lighting fixture like a traditional bulb and projects a luminous starfield inside any space, making it a fantastic nightlight for kids or cool entertainment decor. 7. CUBE, $29.90, This supercompact LED light is tiny (2”x2”x2”) but mighty, offering three brightness settings indoors or outdoors, bright white and colored mood light options, a hook for hanging, and more.

7. 32 DECEMBER2017


8. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Vol. 1 & 2, $35 (per volume) $65 (set), From Ada Lovelace and Coco Chanel to Frida Kahlo and Joan Jett, each book offers 100 bedtime stories profiling extraordinary women past and present, illustrated by 60 female artists.





The winter holidays create many of our best family memories. It’s also the time of year when long car rides, cross-country air travel, and large family gatherings disrupt our children’s normal routines, making them more susceptible to sickness and fatigue. They often overeat, sleep less — especially when staying up late and crossing time zones — and spend fewer hours outdoors where they have a chance to unwind and get some exercise. Taking preventive steps and preparing can help ensure a healthy holiday for your children and your entire family.

Motion sickness A sick child on an airplane or in the back seat of the car can make traveling unpleasant, but there are steps you can take to minimize any symptoms. Normally, your child’s brain senses movement by getting signals from the inner ear, eyes, muscles, and joints. When there is unnatural repeated movement and those signals don’t match, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and sweating can occur. Motion sickness of this kind is most likely to occur in youngsters ages 2 to 12. Prevention starts in advance with your children’s diet. Stick to light meals before and during travel, and avoid greasy, fatty foods. Smart seating choices can also make a difference. While most children need to sit in a rear seat, make sure they can see the road over or between seats. The center of the back seat or middle row of a minivan offers the best view of the front windshield. Seats over the wings of a plane

and at the front of a train provide the most stability, while the center of a ship at the waterline is the best choice for cruise ship staterooms. Books and movies are a great way to pass time when traveling, but for children prone to motion sickness, they can trigger nausea very quickly. In this case, music and books on tape are the best choice. If your child becomes nauseous

Taking preventive steps and preparing can help ensure a healthy holiday for your children and your entire family. and you are not able to stop for fresh air, open the windows and have them close their eyes and recline as much as possible. Dry crackers and ginger ale may help settle their stomach. Over-the-counter and prescription-

strength medicines are a good recommendation when your child has exhibited past issues with motion sickness. Pay attention to directions. Dramamine — available in chewable tablets — should be taken 1 hour prior to travel. Prescription patches should be applied behind the ear 4 hours in advance.

Prevent the flu A bout of the flu passing among family members will put a damper on any holiday celebration. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this year could be particularly bad based on flu activity in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere; what happens there is often a predictor for what will occur in North America. Flu shots, available for children 6 months and older, are available now from your pediatrician, pharmacy, or retail clinic locations. It’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible because it takes at least two weeks to build up immunity.

The well-stocked travel bag Preparation and packing prior to any holiday trip should include a few common medicines in the event a family member becomes ill. Smart choices include a pain reliever and multi-symptom cold medicine for children in liquid or chewable form; a child-appropriate anti diarrheal, especially since changes in travel and water are common triggers; and adhesive strips with antibacterial ointment for cuts and scrapes. Remember: You can always save a little money by buying store-brand


When you arrive at your destination When parents ask me what they can do to help keep their children healthy during holiday travel, I encourage them to build in some “healthy” activity as a way of bonding with other family members. If it’s not too cold, a morning bike ride, neighborhood walk, or hike at a nearby park are great for all generations. For large families, a flag football game or soccer match creates some friendly competition and physical activity. Proper sleep is also critical for children. Be sure to build in nap time and account for any lost hours resulting from plane travel. Restrict time with mobile devices and video games to encourage sleep. Good nutrition is more important than ever. The holidays are a time for sweets, so a fresh fruit basket is the perfect hostess gift for everyone to enjoy. Giving children smaller portions will help slow them down and prevent overeating. Lastly, don’t forget about yourself. Grandparents will be happy to see their grandchildren, so build in some mom and dad time and have fun! Melissa Willette is a mother and family nurse practitioner who works at MinuteClinic inside the CVS Pharmacy store in Raynham.


Shrewsbury Montessori School Growing Bright Minds from Age Three through Grade Six

Main Campus 55 Oak Street Shrewsbury, MA 01545

Tour and Information Sessions at 8:45am


Safety, Not Suggestions:

The Truth Behind Toy Age Recommendations BY KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN

Age 3 to Kindergarten January 23 February 13 Grades 1-3 December 5 Grades 4-6 January 9 Auburn Campus 135 Bryn Mawr Avenue Auburn, MA 01501

Worcester Campus 30 Anna Street Worcester, MA 01604

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Follow today: Conversations to Keep You Healthy and Well 34 DECEMBER2017

When shopping for children, it can be tempting to buy the latest hot gadget or toy. But depending on the age of the child, that may not always be the safest choice. According to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of The Toy Association, 82% of parents think the age label on toy packaging is “just a suggestion.” But a toy’s age-grading isn’t related to a child’s intelligence or merely a suggestion — it’s based on the developmental abilities of children at a given age and the specific features of a toy. With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the frenzy of buying gifts and overlook safety. To ensure safe play for children, it’s important to consider and follow a few smart shopping tips: 1. Pay attention to age-grading. Pay special attention to toys labeled 3+, as these toys may contain small parts that can present a choking hazard for children under 3 (or those who still mouth toys). Toys with small parts have a warning label on the packaging, so keep a careful eye out as you shop. For an extra safety step, consider purchasing a Small Parts Tester (available in the baby-proofing section of most toy stores and on Amazon) to test other small objects found around the home. 2. Shop at a retailer you know and trust. Store staff at established businesses will be knowledgeable about age-appropriate toys. Online sellers will include safety information and the toy’s age grading in product descriptions. Those selling via garage sales, secondhand stores, or temporary retailers may not know about the latest safety information and certified products — and may not be around should an issue arise later. 3. Keep older kids’ toys, which may contain small pieces, out of reach from younger siblings and their friends. Keep a separate toy chest for older children whose toys may contain small parts. Enlist their help in keeping their toys away from younger

siblings; they’ll love having the responsibility of keeping little ones safe. And, of course, always supervise children while they play. 4. Dispose of all packaging and gift wrap as soon as possible. Dispose of all unnecessary toy packaging and gift-wrap immediately. Piles of discarded gift-wrap can conceal sharp objects, and the edges of hard plastic packaging can cut small fingers. 5. Demonstrate safe play. For each new toy, read the instructions with the child and demonstrate how to safely play with it. It’s a great way to ensure children know how to use a toy or game appropriately, and best of all, it’s fun. 6. Battery safety. For toys that use batteries, ensure the batteries are securely enclosed in their compartments and are inaccessible to kids. Always keep old or extra batteries away from children. These tips are helpful to share with grandparents and other family members or gift-givers to help ensure safe play all year long. For more toy safety tips and information, visit playsafe. org, The Toy Association’s free, comprehensive resource for parents and caregivers. Kristin Morency Goldman is senior communications specialist at The Toy Association. She stays abreast of the latest economic data, safety standards, product trends, and news related to toys, play, and the youth entertainment marketplace. Her articles can be found at and in trade publications worldwide. Founded in 1916, The Toy Association, Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for children of all ages.


Co-Parents Should Put Children First, Especially at Holiday Time BY ATTY. ANDY P. MILLER The holiday season can be challenging for any family, but it is especially so for families in which parents are separated or divorced. That’s why the best gift you and your former spouse can give your children is to put their needs first. Start by being sensitive to your child’s feelings, especially if this is the first holiday season after separation or divorce. Given all the focus on family and tradition this time of year, your child may feel awkward or alone because his or her family is no longer together. Your child may also worry about changes in their holiday traditions and routines, or wonder if anything else will be the same. It’s important for both parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children about what to expect during the holidays, including explaining what will change and what will remain the same. Will they still get together with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins on Dad’s side to celebrate Hanukkah? Will Grandma and Grandpa come to Mom’s house for Christmas? It is also important to discuss parenting time, including where your child will be spending the holidays based on your parenting schedule, and/or any special holiday arrangements spelled out in your parenting agreement. This is one area in which parents should try to put their children’s needs first. Regardless of your parenting schedule, you and your child’s other parent should talk about what is best for your child. For example, if your former spouse’s family party is on “your” weekend, consider allowing your child to attend the party anyway, or switch weekends. The same is true for the holidays themselves. Given that Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are both on Sundays this year, it’s possible for the custodial parent to have the child for the weekend and for Christmas and New Year’s days. If that’s the case, consider making an exception so your child can spend Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve (or Christmas Day or New Year’s Day) with his or her other parent. Take into consideration other

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holiday events and celebrations, too. For example, if there’s a special holiday activity that Mom or Dad traditionally do with the family — such as going to Boston with Dad to see The Nutcracker or travelling to New York City with Mom to skate at Rockefeller Plaza — try to accommodate your child’s wishes to continue those traditions with that specific parent, regardless of what your parenting schedule says. Additionally, if your child has special holiday events, whether a school concert or marching in the local parade, both parents should make every attempt to attend. You don’t have to sit together, but your child will appreciate having Mom and Dad there. Make sure you and your former spouse talk about your expectations for the holidays and try to map out a schedule so everyone knows what the plans will be. But don’t cram too much into the schedule. That simply adds more stress to everyone’s hectic schedules during what should be a happy and fun-filled time of year. Remember that divorce is tough on any child, which is why it’s important for both parents to try to minimize the impact by keeping his or her interests first. It’s the greatest gift you can give your child, during the holidays and throughout the year. Attorney Andy P. Miller is the founder and managing attorney of Miller Law Group, P.C. (apmillerlawgroup. com). A father himself, Miller focuses on children and their best interests by helping guide parents through the divorce process.

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Bass, Guitar, Ukulele, Violin, Voice Kids on Keys • Intro. to Singing Private Lessons • Recitals Community Showcases Gift Certificates Available - Give the gift of music

JOIN US • ENROLL TODAY! Bringing quality music to Metro West and beyond since 2005 57 East Main Street, Suite 203, Westborough, MA 01581 • (508) 366-6000 BAYSTATEPARENT 35

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! - Dr. Seuss

Photo by Stu Rosner



Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas. Dec. 1-3. 36 NOVEMBER2017

Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Dec. 13.

Courtesy Six Flags New England

Photo by Joel Laino with permission from the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce

Courtesy The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Holiday Pops Kids Matinees. Symphony Hall, Boston, Dec. 9-10, 16-17, 23-24.

Holiday in the Park. Six Flags New England, Agawam. Weekends and select dates through Jan. 1.

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! MELTDOWN WARNING: Before you pack up the minivan, please confirm your destination. Although we’ve done our best to ensure accuracy at press time, things can and do change.

1 Friday

Photo by Michael Blanchard Photography

Morning Birds. Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Rd., Worcester. 7 a.m.-9 a.m. Enjoy a leisurely birding experience and help document the sanctuary birds over the season, as we explore different corners of our land. Register ahead. Members free; nonmembers $5. Music and Movement with Miss Bernadette. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Explore sound through singing and playing, as you move, make music, listen, learn, and get a multisensory workout with Kindermusik educator Miss Bernadette. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic. The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. Join Mickey, Minnie Mouse, and the comical duo of Donald Duck and Goofy as they step into mysterious portals throughout the Disney universe, entering the enchanted lands of more than 20 of your favorite Disney characters. $28-$63. Winter Reimagined. Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston. The annual celebration of winter’s arrival featuring glittering light displays indoors and out, decorated trees, handcrafted ornaments, children’s activities, and more. Through Jan. 7. Adults $17, children $7, under age 5 free. Blink! A Light & Sound Extravaganza. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston. Nightly performances start at 4:30 p.m. and run continuously through 9:30 p.m. Featuring the music of the Holiday Pops, this all-new show is a state-of-the-art light-and-sound outdoor extravaganza. Through Jan. 1. Free. First Friday Nights Free. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 4:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Explore the museum at night as we collect non-perishable food donations for the Acton Food Pantry and Open Table of Concord and Maynard. Free. Bright Nights. Forest Park, 200 Trafton Rd., Springfield. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Make the four-mile drive through Forest Park, illuminated with 650,000 sparkling lights. Through Jan. 1. $18 per vehicle Monday-Thursday, $21 Friday-Sunday and holidays. ZooLights. Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Get dazzled during this winter wonderland lighting up the park, including special festive decorations set up throughout the zoo featuring bald eagles, arctic foxes, and reindeer, and a special display for

The 244th Anniversary Boston Tea Party Reenactment. Old South Meeting House, Boston. Dec. 16.

our black bears Smoky and Bubba. Through December. Free with admission. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $16.95, children ages 2 to 12 $11.95, children under 2 free. Elf The Musical. Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston. 7 p.m. The musical adaptation of the holiday classic that follows Buddy the Elf, who embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. Through Dec. 10. Tickets $37.50+. Holiday Joy. Regent Theatre, 17 Medford St., Arlington. 7:30 p.m. The Dance Inn’s annual event embraces the holiday season with fanfare and zest. $15-$20.

2 Saturday New England Holiday Craft Spectacular. Event Center at The Hanover Mall, Rte. 53, Hanover. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three-day shopping bonanza with more than 250 of the nation’s finest craftsmen and artisans. Through Sunday. Adult $7, under 14 free; one admission good for all three days. Discount coupons available online. Beyond the Spectrum: Introduction to Anime. Museum of Fine Arts: Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Explore contemporary anime art, as well as Japanese art found in the MFA’s collection, before creating comics and sequential artwork that tells a story during this morning activity for children on the autism spectrum. Register ahead. $9.

Santa Saturdays. Franklin Park Zoo, 1 Franklin Park Rd., Boston. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy winter-themed arts and crafts, holidaythemed enrichment for the animals, and more festive fun as we welcome jolly old Saint Nick as he journeys from the North Pole to the Tropical Forest building. Also on Dec. 9 and 16. Free with admission. Adults $19.95, youth ages 2 to 12 $13.94, children under age 2 free. Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas Recreation. Main Street, Stockbridge. 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Music, storytelling, caroling, concerts, and more, culminating in Sunday’s recreation of Norman Rockwell’s famous “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas” with more than 50 antique cars. Also Sunday. WeeMuse: Art Lab. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Kids take a hands-on approach mixing arts and science. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $13, youths age 4 and up $6, children 3 and under free. Everyday Engineering: Straw Structures. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Engage in everyday engineering by exploring and creating shapes and structures with just straws and pipe cleaners. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. All About Snowflakes. South Shore Natural Science Center, 48 Jacobs Ln., Norwell. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn how snowflakes are made, what makes them unique, and try your hand at making your own. Members $5, nonmembers $8.

Arms + Armor Demonstrations. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. 11:30 a.m. & 2 p.m. Learn all about different kinds of arms and armor used by knights and soldiers from the Roman Empire to Medieval Europe in this fun, interactive presentation. Free until noon. Members free; nonmember adults $16, ages 4 and up $6, children 3 and under free. Families @ WAM Tour. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Explore Worcester Art Museum galleries with the family on a docent-guided discovery tour, as you enjoy stories, fun facts, and time together. Free. Holiday in the Park. Six Flags New England, 1623 Main St,, Agawam. 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Guests can enjoy the theme park in a whole new way with millions of twinkling lights, holiday treats, entertainment, and over 50 rides. Weekends and select dates through Jan. 1. sixflags. com/newengland. Winter Stroll: Meet Mrs. Claus. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Share a story with Mrs. Claus and make a snowy seasonal craft before venturing out and searching for the little green elf hiding somewhere in the library’s shelves. For ages 12 and under. Free. The Nutcracker. Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical High School, 100 Westminster St., Fitchburg. Sterling Youth Ballet, in association with Paula Meola Dance, presents the holiday classic. Adults $18, children and seniors $16. Capturing Minerals with Pencil and Paper. Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge. 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Explore the world of minerals, and try out tricks and techniques to capture them in 3D and give your crystal drawings some shine. For ages 9 to 13. Register ahead. Members $25, nonmembers $35. Cape Ann Big Band Holiday Concert. Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. 3 p.m. & 8 p.m. Enjoy the holidays with Cape Ann’s 17-piece big band performing holiday favorites, infused with a bit of jazz, swing, and rock n’ roll. $19-$36.

3 Sunday Tanglewood Marionettes Presents Cinderella. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Through the use of lavishly costumed marionettes, enjoy this presentation of the classic fairy tale following a soon-to-be-princess, her prince, and her wicked family. Recommended for ages 4 and up. Adults $13, children $10. BAYSTATEPARENT 37

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Nature and Nurture with Miss Bernadette. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Sing songs, take a nature walk, read a story, or make a craft. Designed for ages 2 to 4. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

families to look at art, followed by an age-appropriate story. Designed for children up to age 3. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $16, youth ages 4 and up $6, children 3 and under free.

25th Christmas on the Common. Bridgewater Town Common. Noon.-4 p.m. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, pony rides, holiday music, craft fair with over 90 vendors, food and hot drinks. Free. Mindful for the Holidays. Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester, 65 James St., Worcester. 1 p.m.3 p.m. Relax before the holidays as we welcome author and mindfulness instructor Whitney Stewart, as she offers an afternoon of mindful exercises. Registration recommended. Free.

Photo by Erb Photography

Reindeer Games. The Children’s Museum in Easton, 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton. 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Make an antler craft and then join Dasher, Dancer, and the rest of the herd to play some of their all-time favorite reindeer games. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $9, children under one free.

A Christmas Carol. The Hanover Theatre, Worcester. Dec. 15-23.

School during this performance of original and popular songs on keyboard, bass, drums, and vocals. Recommended for ages 6 and under. Register ahead. Free.

Especially for Me: Sensory-Friendly Afternoons. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Explore the museum at your own pace, during this time in which crowds are limited and quiet spaces are available. Register ahead. Free.

5 Tuesday

6 Wednesday

4 Monday

Tinker Tuesdays: Inventions in Motion. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Explore the possibilities of reusing what we usually throw away as we make kinetic art inventions. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

Volunteer Day at Broad Meadow Brook. Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Rd., Worcester. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Help us care for the sanctuary and enjoy a few hours of fresh air, fun, and fulfillment, from filling bird feeders to tending gardens. Wednesdays. Free.

Kids Rock Music Concert. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Join Monument Square Community Music

Backyard and Beyond: Winter Scavenger Hunt. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 2 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Venture into the woods

WAM Stroller Tours. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Enjoy a museum docent-led guide for

Full Moon Family Night Hike: Nocturnal Animals. Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Join us under the full moon for an after-hours nighttime family adventures on the Fruitlands trail. Recommended for ages 7 and up. Register ahead. Members $9, nonmembers $15, children free.

Looking for parenting support? UMass Memorial Medical Center and New England Prenatal and Family Education offer classes for expecting women, new moms, their families and support persons. Call 1-855-366-5221 or visit

Card Battle Royale. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Come to the library for a night of Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, as we share time together learning new tricks and playing our favorite games. For ages 12 and up. Free.

7 Thursday Winter Workshop: Make a Stamp and Wrapping Paper Too. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Drop in and create a stamp with your own imagination as we design endless patterns and make some homemade wrapping paper for the holiday season. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

and look for signs of winter and collect nature treasures on this short nature walk and themed hunt. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

MFA Playdates: Winter Wonderland. Museum of Fine Arts: Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 10:15 a.m.-11 a.m. Enjoy story time, looking activities in the galleries, and an art-making activity. For ages 4 and under. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $25, youth ages 7 and up $10, children 6 and under free.

Berkshire Concert Choir at the Festival of Trees. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Join the women of Pittsfield’s Berkshire Concert Choir as they perform a program of Christmas music from the early Renaissance to contemporary compositions. Free.

Family Fun Night: Full STEAM Ahead. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Blast off into outer space as we read The Sky is Full of Stars and Our Stars, before creating a straw rocket, making a telescope, and exploring constellations. For ages 3 to 7. Register ahead. Free.

Toddler & Me Yoga and Movement. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. & 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Join us for a fun-filled yoga play for active tots and preschoolers, and their caregivers, using unique yoga expressions as we nurture our creative spirits. For ages up to 3 with caregiver. Register ahead. Free. The Mitten Workshop. The Children’s Museum in Easton, 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Drop in during the workshop to craft a stamped clay mitten, as we celebrate the work of Jan Brett. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $9, children under 1 free. Upbeat Music. The Discovery Museums, 177



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OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Main St., Acton. 3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Practice rhythm by learning multicultural drumming patterns, playing a variety of instruments, and exploring movement, dance, and song. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 8 p.m. Join the Boston Pops and Conductor Keith Lockhart for their sparkling Holiday Pops concert, featuring signature Christmas and holiday classics, and seasonal favorites. $59-$129.

Holiday Ornament Making. Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St., Clinton. 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Get into the holiday spirit by making ornaments to take home or add to the Museum’s Christmas Tree. Free.

9 Saturday

8 Friday Take Aparts. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Drop in and grab a screwdriver and discover resistors, capacitors, and circuit boards as you uncover the inner workings of everyday electronics. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. The Nutcracker. Casey Theatre, Regis College, 235 Wellesley St., Weston. 7 p.m. Commonwealth Ballet presents the annual dance and music classic. Through Dec. 10. Boston Pops 2017 Holiday Pops Tour. The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts,

Middle Street Walk. Middle Street, Main Street and surrounding area, Gloucester. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Open houses, concerts, special programs and traditional decorations will be featured throughout the afternoon, focused in and around historic Middle Street. Season’s Greetings and Experimental Wrapping Paper. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Join us for this family workshop where you can experiment with papers and paint to create beautiful, and practical works of art for your presents. Register ahead. Member adult/ child pair $10.20; nonmember adults/child pair $12. Morning with Santa. Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Rd., Concord. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Enjoy a delightful visit and photo with Santa, as well as a number of engaging seasonal crafts and activities, including face painting, treasure hunts,

cookie decorating, and more. Register ahead. Member adults free, children $25; nonmember adults $30, children $10.

free (but must have free ticket, obtained at Also Dec. 10, 16, 17, 23.

Holiday Ornament Clay Sculpture Workshop. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Enjoy an afternoon of ceramic sculpture for the holidays, as you create a sculpture or ornament of your own design inspired by winter at deCordova. For ages 10 and up. Register ahead. Member adults $35, youths $25; nonmember adults $45, youths $30.

Learner’s Lab: Holiday LED Cards. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Brighten up your greeting cards in time for the holidays using LED lights. Registration requested. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $13, youths age 4 and up $6, children 3 and under free.

Rockport Christmas Stroll Weekend. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Featuring holiday fairs and shows, strolling musicians, and more. Find unique gift ideas and refreshments in the shops through downtown Rockport. Through Sunday. Stacey Peasley. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Enjoy this award-winning Boston-area family entertainer. Adults $13, children $10. Holiday Pops Kids Matinees. Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. 11 a.m. Shorter in length with no intermission, concert includes a children’s sing-along and post-concert photos with Santa. Children under 2 admitted

Make a Mess: Foamy Fun. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Drop in and have some good, clean fun, as we experiment and create unique, foamtastic works of art using shaving cream and bubbles. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Holiday Nature Crafts Open House. Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Rd., Worcester. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. View our tree decorated with handcrafted ornaments, and create your own designs. Register ahead. Member adults $4, children $2; nonmember adults $5, children $3. Kelly Girls Holiday Concert. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 2


OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! p.m.-3 p.m. Enjoy this lively and talented fourpiece all-female band, as it brings a rousing and joyful renditions of songs and tunes for the season. Free. Daddy & Me Brain Building Afternoon. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Bring your dad or caretaker for holiday stories, before building a reindeer using real hammers and nails. For ages 3 to 7. Register ahead. Free. Holiday Pops! Notes from the North Pole. Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, Memorial Hall, 83 Court Street, Plymouth. 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Actor Neil McGarry performs a mini, musical retelling of A Christmas Carol set to live orchestral music. Annual March of the Toys charity toy drive, and jolly guest from the North Pole featured. Also Sunday. Tickets start at $20. Make A 3 String Marionette. Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline. 4 p.m. Enjoy this puppeteer-led workshop exploring the world of puppets, as we put together a special marionette. Recommended for ages 7 and up. Register ahead. Member adult/child pair $15; nonmember adult/child pair $20.

10 Sunday Exploring the Animated Picture Book. Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Rd., Concord. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Author/Illustrator DB Johnson presents his new book of nursery rhymes based on passages from Thoreau’s Walden. Register ahead. Members free; nonmember adults $18, children ages 4 and up $8, children 3 and under free.






GROUPS OF 10+ CALL 617.532.1116 Boch Center is a trademark of The Wang Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.

ARTfull Explorations. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Explore Sculpture Park installations and Museum exhibitions with the whole family, as we investigate an idea or material inspired by the artists and themes on view. Recommended for ages 5 to 12. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $14, youths 12 and under free. Caroling on the Common. Historic Village Hall, 2 Oak St., Framingham. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Sing along to your favorite carols with Voices of MetroWest, see Santa Claus, and enjoy crafts, hot chocolate and treats. Free. Authors and Illustrators Day. Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Rd., Concord. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Explore the decorated Family Trees and celebrate children’s literature as you meet authors and illustrators. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $10, youths $5, children 5 and under free.

Snow Globe Making. Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Visit for an afternoon of crafting and bring the outdoor winter wonderland indoors by making your own snow globe. Register ahead. Members $5, nonmembers $10. 215th Army National Guard Holiday Concert. Springfield Symphony Hall, Springfield. 2 p.m. Free admission with tickets, available by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Spirit of Springfield, 1350 Main St., Suite 1004, Springfield, 01103. Special Storytime: Matt Tavares. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 2 p.m. Join author Matt Tavares as he invites us into the world of his Red and Lulu, as two birds make their nest in a beautiful evergreen that finds its way to New York City. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers adults $9, youths $6, ages under 1 free.

12 Tuesday Winter Workshop: Snow Globes. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. & 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Drop in as a sprinkle of snow and a dash of creativity is all you need to make and take home your own mini snow globe. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Henry Bear Playdate. Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Ave., Concord. 10:30 a.m.11:30 a.m. Hear the story of how Henry Bear built a cabin, climbed a mountain, and hiked to Fitchburg. Members free; nonmember children $10, children ages 3 and under free. Mini-Gingerbread House Workshop. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Create mini-gingerbread houses using candy, frosting, and your imagination. For ages 8 to 12. Register ahead. Free.

13 Wednesday Preschool Story Hour: Bears. Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Rd., Worcester. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Bring your favorite adult for a thematic hour of a story, an activity, and a naturalist-led walk. For ages 3 to 5. Register ahead. Through Thursday. Members $3, nonmembers $4. Backyard and Museums: Sublime Snowflakes. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Drop in and discover the science and math behind snowflakes, and create your own snowflake masterpiece, as we decipher fake from real

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! flakes. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

bring home. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

ARTfull Play. deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Fill your morning with art and play through art, stories, nature exploration, and new friends. Best for children ages 2 to 5. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $14, youths 12 and under free.

Game Day. Worcester Public Library: Great Brook Valley Branch, 89 Tacoma St., Worcester. 2 p.m.-4:45 p.m. Join your friends playing library board games from Connect 4 and Scrabble to Uno and Pictureka. Free.

Wednesday Wonderings Nature Playgroup. Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Dive into a nature theme through stories and activities to help explore the wonders of the natural world. Members free; nonmembers $5. Latkes & Lanterns. Powisset Farm, 37 Powisset St., Dover. 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Celebrate the Festival of Lights with lanterns and latkes, as we experiment with a variety of potato pancake recipes, and create lanterns for everyone to bring home. Register ahead. Member children $20, nonmember children $32. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights. Museum of Fine Arts: Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Enjoy an array of musical performances by artists, bands, and ensembles from around the region, as well as a community candle lighting with our artistmade menorah. Free. Library Craft Night: Wind-Up Penguins. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Join us as we read One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo before making a wind-up penguin that waddles. For ages 3 to 7. Register ahead. Free.

14 Thursday Doggy Days: Winter Storytime. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Drop in and join Therapy Dog Abby for a cozy, winter storytime. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Nature Adventures for Children. Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 414 Massasoit Rd., Worcester. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Join us for a hands-on nature programs designed especially for youngsters, as we use investigations, crafts, and outdoor activities to explore a new topic. For ages 5 to 7. Register ahead. Members $9, nonmembers $13. Winter Workshop: Papermaking. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Drop in and explore the science of papermaking as you sculpt and squish recycled paper pulp into new, usable paper that you can

All Aboard the Polar Express. Worcester Public Library: Frances Perkins Branch, 470 West Boylston St., Worcester. 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Join Mr. Frank for a holiday sing-a-long and storytime featuring a reading of The Polar Express, crafts, and snacks. Free. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. The Boch Center, 270 Tremont St., Boston. 7 p.m. The beloved TV classic comes to life, as Rudolph finds self-confidence through interactions with a wacky miner, Hermey the Elf, and a cast of misfit toys. Through Sunday. $38 and up.

15 Friday Haskell Tree Lighting. Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens, New Bedford. 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. Along with the evening stars, the trees will light up the night. Bring the family, taste the cocoa, twirl a candy cane, and get your picture taken with a holiday favorite from way to the North. Free. A Christmas Carol. The Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. The Hanover’s 10th anniversary performance of the Dickens holiday classic. Also Dec. 16, 17, 20, 22, 23. Sensory-friendly performance Dec. 17. Tickets $25+; children’s tickets 50% off.

16 Saturday MFA Playdates: Winter Wonderland. Museum of Fine Arts: Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. 10:15 a.m.-11 a.m. Enjoy a story time, looking activities in the galleries, and an art-making activity. For ages 4 and under. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $25, youth ages 7 and up $10, children 6 and under free. Family Holiday Hootenanny. Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington. 11 a.m. Two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Medal winner and Grammynominated artists Alastair Moock brings his friends for a barn-burner of a holiday concert for the entire family. $12. Everyday Engineering: SnowBalls and Ramps. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Drop in and design, build, and test out simple tracks and mini-rollercoasters using tubing and cardboard to build straightaways, hills, and tunnels to send some ‘snowballs’ on a wild ride. Free with admission. BAYSTATEPARENT 41

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

to the tea ships in Boston Harbor. $30. Holiday Sing-Along. Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. 7 p.m. Get in the holiday spirit and join Rockport Music’s annual holiday community sing-along, featuring the brass ensemble Some Assembly Required. Free.

Costume Character Day. Concord Museum, 200 Lexington Rd., Concord. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Meet a taco-loving dragon and see what happens next in Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel. Free with admission. Through Sunday. Members free; nonmember adults $10, youths $5, children 5 and under free.

17 Sunday Courtesy Spirit of Springfield

The Nutcracker. Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main St., Rockport. 2 p.m. Enjoy this screened performance of the Bolshoi Ballet’s take on the classic tale following a Christmas nutcracker come to life, coupled with the classic score by Tchaikovsky. Adults $22, youths $5. Songwriter Performance Circle. Worcester Public Library: Main Branch, 3 Salem Sq., Worcester. 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Enjoy this informal performance featuring teens who participated in our 6-week Songwriters in the Round workshop. Free. Happier Family Comedy Show. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Watch as creativity flourishes during this improv show designed for families to find their funny bone. Recommended for ages 5 to 12. Member adults $9, children $4.50; nonmember adults $10, children $5.

Bright Nights. Forest Park, Springfield. Through Jan. 1. Library LEGO Inventors. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 3 p.m.-4 p.m. Choose and accomplish LEGO challenges over the course of the afternoon. For grades K to 6. Register ahead. Free.

The 244th Anniversary Boston Tea Party Reenactment. Old South Meeting House, 310 Washington St., Boston. 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Join Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock for a fiery debate about the tea tax, before following the Sons of Liberty on a march

The Nutcracker. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10 a.m. Watch this presentation by the Bolshoi Ballet, performing the holiday classic of a nutcracker doll come to life, underscored by Tchaikovsky’s memorable score. $23. The Muppet Movie. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Follow Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, the Great Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and more, during this road-tripping movie showing how the Muppets got their showbiz start. Adults $9, children $7.

A Christmas Carol Sensory-Friendly Performance. The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. th 11 a.m. Enjoy this 10 production It’sanniversary winter in New Engla of A Christmas Carol created for individuals and let us help you families impacted by autism or other sensory learn

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Backyard and Beyond: Solstice ’Scapes. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Join us as we head to the Discovery Woods to celebrate the Winter Solstice and paint winter landscapes inspired by the shortest day of the year. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Winter Solstice Illumination Nights. The Old Manse, 269 Monument St., Concord. 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Light an outdoor tree, sing carols, and sip hot cider during this night of festive gathering. Member families $10, nonmember families $20.

issues, in a supportive, judgment-free environment. $14-$27.50.

20 Wednesday

Fruitlands Solstice Stroll. Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Join us as we light up the night with a Solstice Stroll, followed by a gathering around our outdoor fire pit, warm up by the fire, and enjoy hot chocolate and s’mores. Register ahead. Members $9, nonmembers $15, children free.

Boston Area Chantey & Maritime Sing. USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, Building 22, Charlestown. 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Listen, learn, and lift your voices, as you participate in your maritime heritage by joining a rousing chorus of sea chanteys at the Museum. Free.

WAM Stroller Tours. Worcester Art Museum, 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Enjoy a museum docent-led guide for families to look at art, followed by an age-appropriate story. Designed for children up to age 3. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $16, youth ages 4 and up $6, children 3 and under free.

Solstice Illumination Night. Governor Hutchinson’s Field, 196-212 Adams St., Milton. 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Come welcome the return of the sun with fire dance performances, a campfire, music, s’mores, and hot chocolate. Register ahead. Member adults $5, children $3; nonmember adults $10, children $6.

Puppet Playtime: Holiday Sing-A-Long. Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Join us for our annual holiday sing-along featuring Bella Monster, jingle-bells, and lots of snow fun, plus games, stories, and snacks. $12.

Winter Solstice PJ Party. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 6 p.m.-8 p.m. See the Eric Carle: Night exhibition on the longest night of the year, featuring night-themed art projects, storytimes, films, and an evening snack of milk and cookies. Members free; nonmembers $5.

Backyard and Beyond: Nature Journaling. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 11 a.m. Stop by as we explore the natural world through science, art, and writing. Make nature journals at 11 a.m. and venture out through the Great Hill conservation land a half-hour later to see the signs of the season. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

Winter Solstice Farm Fondue Dinner. Powisset Farm, 37 Powisset St., Dover. 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Celebrate the winter solstice on the farm with a traditional Swiss Fondue dinner, and learn about the tradition from our local Swiss food historian. Register ahead. Member adults $28, children $9; nonmember adults $35, children $15.

5th Annual Big Band Holiday Swing. O’Malley Middle School, 32 Cherry St., Gloucester. 6:30 p.m. A fleet of the best musicians from the Cape Ann Big Band present favorite festive tunes. Advance $10, day-of $15.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker. Shubert Theatre, 256 Tremont St., Boston. 7 p.m. A holiday mash-up for the entire family, this contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music features a supercharged cast of a dozen allstar dancers, DJ, and violinist. Also Friday & Saturday. Tickets $25 and up.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical. The Boch Center, Boston. Dec. 14-17.

18 Monday Creative Movement for Preschoolers. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Join us for a class with the co-founder of Moving Arts Exchange, as we have a fun and creative introduction to the foundation of dance through games, obstacle courses, and rhythmic dynamics. For ages 3 to 5. Register ahead. Free. A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan. The Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 7:30 p.m. WGBH presents this annual tradition, bringing the best Celtic performers into a show embracing the holiday season that will transport you to the British Isles. $45-$59.

19 Tuesday Backyard and Beyond: Trim a Tree for the Birds. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Design, engineer, and hang a birdfeeder of your own creation for our wonderful Discovery Woods. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free.

21 Thursday Winter Science Explorers. The Children’s Museum in Easton, 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton. 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Drop in and explore the wintry world through science during this

22 Friday Backyard and Beyond: Winter Warmth. The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St., Acton. 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Drop-in and test the insulating properties of feathers, fur, fat, and fleece, and BAYSTATEPARENT 43

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! see how leaves and dirt provide insulation for nests and burrows. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. An Old-Fashioned Christmas. William Cullen Bryant Homestead, 207 Bryant Rd., Cummington. 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Tour the house’s festively decorated historic rooms, enjoy delicious holiday treats, and peruse the holiday gift shop. Members $5, nonmembers $10.

23 Saturday Soup & Stars. Powisset Farm, 37 Powisset St., Dover. 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Join us and our local astronomer for a star party, as we have some soup simmering in the kitchen and planets, moons, and celestial bodies above our heads. Register ahead. Members $5, families $12; nonmembers $10, families $20.

24 Sunday Hansel and Gretel. Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., & 3 p.m. Join the National Marionette Theater during this delightful telling of the classic Grimm Brothers’ story. Members $10, nonmembers $15. A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington. 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. Watch this family classic following Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang as they ring in Christmas through a holiday tree competition and staging of the first story of Christmas. Throughout December. $15-$25.

25 Monday Mary Poppins Sing-A-Long. The Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington. 6 p.m. Celebrate the Christmas holiday with Julie Andrews in her Oscar-winning performance as a magical nanny tasked with bringing a family together. Through Friday. Prices vary.

26 Tuesday Holiday Electronics Camp. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Spend the holidays learning how to wire and assemble your own colorful LED decorations. For grades 3 to 6. Register ahead. Through Wednesday. Members $25, nonmembers $30. From STEM to Stern. USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown Navy Yard, Building 22, Charlestown. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn the secrets of the oldest surviving naval ship, as you examine the science, technology, and engineering 44 NOVEMBER2017

behind the USS Constitution through hands-on programs. Through December 31. Free. The Frog Prince and Other Frogs. Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Puppetry, music, and storytelling unite as frogs attempt to replace the Big Bad Wolf, go a courtin’, and entertain the entire family during this raucous show. Through Thursday. Members $10, nonmembers $15. The Fairy Circus. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston. 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Enjoy turn-of-the-century-style trick puppetry featuring over 20 handcrafted marionettes that dance, play instruments, juggle, contort, and more through the talents of Tanglewood Marionettes. Free.

27 Wednesday That’s a Wrap: Holiday Reuse Party. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Bring your wrapping paper, tissue paper, and/or boxes after the busy holiday season as we repurpose the materials through imaginative play, engineering, and collages. Register ahead. Member adult/ child pair $10.20; nonmember adult/child pair $12. Color Zoo Craft. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Drop by the Children’s Room as we create an animal based on Lois Ehlert’s book Color Zoo, and design our own animal faces or recreate one from the book. For ages 12 and under. Free. The Dragon King. Newton Cultural Center at City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton. 11 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. Join Tanglewood Marionettes as they bring to life an underwater fantasy based on Chinese folklore telling the tale of an intrepid Grandmother who journeys to the bottom of the sea to ask the elusive Dragon King why he has forsaken the world above. Advance $8, day-of $10. Warm Cookies for a Cold Day. Powisset Farm, 37 Powisset St., Dover. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Powisset Cooks bake up a variety of cookies for decorating and eating. Register ahead. Member children $24, nonmember children $30. Special Storytime: Gina Perry. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 2:30 p.m. Join author and illustrator Gina Perry as she shares the story of one little girl who feels overwhelmed by the big world around her. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers adults $9, youths $6, ages under 1 free.

28 Thursday Morningstar Access. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston. 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Enjoy this time when families can explore the Museum with less crowds and noise, as we limit the number of visitors during this time of exploration. Register ahead. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $17, children under 1 free. Velvet Crowns and More. Leominster Public Library, 30 West St., Leominster. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Drop in as we create velvet crowns and a few other surprise crafts. For ages 12 and under. Free. The Very Cozy Storytime. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 10:30 a.m.-11 a.m. Join us in the galleries where we’ll read a picture book, look at original artwork, and engage in imaginative play inspired by the Eric Carle: Night exhibition. Through Friday. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers adults $9, youths $6, ages under 1 free.

29 Friday The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, 125 West Bay Rd., Amherst. 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Join CactusHead Puppets as they bring the story of the small town of Hamelin that has a rat problem and the hero who saved the day. Members $5.50; nonmembers $6. KidsJam. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston. 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Enjoy this all-ages dance party, featuring a live DJ, dance lessons, games, and of course plenty of dancing. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $1, children under 1 free.

30 Saturday Kids Gallery Expeditions: Saint Nick. Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St., Clinton. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Drop in and make your own binoculars, then grab an expedition guide and find icons of Saint Nicholas, famed gift-giver, and learn how he is celebrated in Russian culture. Free with admission. Adults $10, youth ages 3 and up $5, children under 3 free. Gifts for the Birds. Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Rd., Harvard. 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Join Museum educators as we make pinecone birdfeeders for our feathered friends, either to decorate our trees or one in your neighborhood. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember

adults $14, youths ages 5 to 13 $6, children under age 5 free. Garden De-Light Evening Strolls & Hot Cocoa. Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, 2468 Washington St., Canton. 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Keep the joy of the holidays alive as we see snowflakes and reindeer lit brightly, feel the chill on our cheeks, and sip a cup of hot cocoa. Members $5, nonmembers $10, children free.

31 Sunday New Year’s Eve Party. The Children’s Museum in Easton, 9 Sullivan Ave., North Easton. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Welcome in the New Year with this daylong celebration, featuring crafts, games, activities, and magic shows that mean family fun for everyone. $10. Happy Noon Year. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston. 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Get ready for a festive New Year’s celebration with crazy hat making, and join us to countdown to Noon while watching the ‘crystal’ ball drop. Free with admission. Members free, nonmembers $17, children under age 1 free. bostonchildrensmuseum. org. Everybody Loves Pirates. Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. Follow Lucy and her goofy pal Little Chucky as they search for buried treasure, while confronting bumbling pirates, Lobster Boy the superhero, and more seafaring friends. Members $10, nonmembers $15. New Year’s Eve Morning Magic Show. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Ring in the New Year at the Berkshire Museum, as we are joined by Bostonbased magician David Hall, with refreshment following. Member adults $5, hildren $3; nonmember adults $15, children $8. Bessie’s New Year’s Eve Outdoor Pajama Dance Party. The Discovery Museums, 117 Main St., Acton. 11:45 a.m. Come get bundled up in your warmest pajamas and stick around for our pajama dance party at 11:45 a.m., as we dance along to a DJ in our Discovery Woods. Free with admission. Members free; nonmembers $12.50, children under 1 free. Celebrate the Zoo Year. Stone Zoo, 149 Pond St., Stoneham. 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Put on your party hats and get the whole family to celebrate Zoo Year with a reindeer parade, festive fun, snowman costumed characters, and ice sculptures. Free with admission. Members free; nonmember adults $16.95, children ages 2 to 12 $11.95, children under 2 free.


20 Restaurants. $20 Gift Cards to EACH Restaurant! A $400 VALUE!


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Bentley’s Pub British Beer Company Bull Mansion The Banner Grill Caffé Espresso Trattoria Nancy Chang deadhorse hill Dianna’s Neighborhood Bistro El Basha Finder’s Pub

Hunter’s Grille and Tap at the Grafton Inn Harvest Grille Kummerspeck Leo’s Ristorante Lock 50 O’Connor’s Restaurant Paku Paku Peppercorn’s The Post Office Pub 308 Lakeside

Gift cards are for dine-in only. Must be presented at time of purchase. Limit one Ultimate Restaurant Deal card per table, per visit.


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Star Wars: The Last Jedi • • • •

The newest Star Wars movie picks up right after 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is developing her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. Rian Johnson directs this movie, which also stars John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, and Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa, in her final role before passing away in 2016.

New movies coming to theaters this month By Jane Louise Boursaw


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

• Rating: PG for rude humor, action, and some thematic elements • In theaters: Dec. 15 • OK for kids 6+ • Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

• Rating: PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content, and some language • In theaters: Dec. 20 • OK for kids 13+ • Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels In this brand-new adventure, the tables are turned as four teenagers in detention are sucked into the world of Jumanji. When they discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting and into the bodies of their avatars, played by Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji: Jumanji plays you. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever.

Inspired by the beloved book, The Story of Ferdinand, this movie tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover. This heartwarming animated comedy features an all-star cast, including John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Anderson, and Nick Jonas.

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Jane Louise Boursaw is the editor of reellifewithjane. com and

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Not yet rated: Likely PG-13 In theaters: Dec. 15 OK for kids 13+ Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels

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KidsCon & CAMP EXPO 2nd Annual

Sat., Jan. 27 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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Big Joe

the Storyteller

Storytelling fun for Birthday Parties, Schools, Daycare Centers, Library Programs, Special Events and TV Featuring: • Original & Classic Stories • Puppets, Props and Surprises For Bookings and Info Call: 617-713-4349 E-mail: Visit me on the web at:

All Ages. Birthday Parties, Schools, Fairs, Day Care Centers, Etc.

Hostess Wanted! Host an online party and build a home library for FREE! 617-633-2832

December INDEX

Abby Kelley Foster Charter School..................... 19 Bay State Skating School................................... 38 Big Joe Productions........................................... 49 Big Y Foods, Inc................................................... 9 Boch Performing Arts Center............................. 22 Boch Performing Arts Center............................. 31 Boch Performing Arts Center............................. 40 Boston Paintball................................................ 49 CambridgeSide Place......................................... 12 Children's Development Network, Inc.................. 6 City of Worcester................................................. 2 Community VNA................................................ 48 Cornerstone Academy......................................... 5 Ecotarium......................................................... 39 Fletcher Tilton PC............................................... 28 FMC Ice Sports..................................................... 4 Hanover Theatre............................................... 30 Harrington Oil................................................... 13 Heywood Hospital............................................... 8 Karen Amlaw Music........................................... 35 Legoland Discovery Center Boston..................... 43 Mall At Whitney Field........................................ 41 Mary Baker Eddy Library (The)......................... 19 Millbury Federal Credit Union............................ 29 Needham Montessori School.............................. 29 New England Cord Blood Bank Inc..................... 47 Oak Meadow.................................................... 34 Reliant Medical Group....................................... 15 Rosalita's Puppets............................................. 49 Shrewsbury Children's Center............................ 17 Shrewsbury Montessori School........................... 35 St. Vincent Hospital............................................. 3 The Learning Zone............................................ 17 Ultimate Golf Card............................................ 23 Ultimate Obstacles............................................. 21 Ultimate Restaurant Deals................................. 45 UMass Memorial Medical Center........................ 34 UMass Memorial Medical Center........................ 38 UMass Memorial Medical Center........................ 52 Wachusett Mountain.......................................... 42 Worcester Railers HC......................................... 46


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To his two daughters he’s known as “Dad,” but online he’s known as Bottlerocket, where he shares humorous pictures, videos, memes, and observations about family life. The 42-year-old Massachusetts father and his family first went viral and found online fame on nowdefunct video-clip site Vine, but soon migrated to other platforms. Since, he’s racked up millions of views on YouTube, 30,000+ fans on Instagram, 51,000+ on Facebook, and recently started “The Father Of The Year” podcast. (While Bottlerocket shares a lot of his family life online, he asked us to keep his identity out of print to protect his family’s real-world privacy.)


How did you decide to create your Bottlerocket character, and when? Was it your first foray on social media or were you on other platforms first? The name “Bottlerocket” came from my Twitter account way back in in 2009, I believe. Twitter was my first social media platform. I struggled with a name to use online, and I had just watched Wes Anderson’s Bottlerocket. I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan, so I went with Bottlerocket. Since then, it has become my online persona everywhere, from Xbox, Vine, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Our first viral content was on Vine. That brought our family into a lot of people’s phones, and onto the news and other outlets, ultimately getting us recognized all over. I still sometimes hear “Bottlerocket!” from a passing car once in a while, although it’s mostly followed up with, “You stink!”


Is this a full-time gig, or do you do it on the side? What’s your dream goal for the character? I do all of my social media work on the side. I’m a full-time teacher, and I love my job. I have no intention of leaving. I make family friendly content when school is over, with the family, for fun. We are lucky enough to be contacted by specific brands to promote certain products once in a while, so this could be considered a part-time job as well, so to speak. I’ll always stay family friendly because I don’t want my kids to grow up and find embarrassing, inappropriate videos of Dad all over the Internet. I also want my students (and parents) to laugh.


When it comes to parenting humor online, we mostly hear from moms. Why do you think there are more moms, and fewer dads, making funny obser-


vations about their lives? I’d think dads have just as much to contribute. That’s a good question. I’m friends with tons of blogging moms and dads, so I see a split between the two. I also see a ton of dad creators, as well.


There are countless parenting humor social media channels/pages/accounts. What is it about this market — and medium — that make it such a hit with parents? I think parents need to hear that other parents are going through the same struggles. I feel each medium is different. Parents, and non-parents, go to specific platforms to feel comfortable because they know what they’re getting. I think Instagram has shifted from food and sunsets to memes. I have the most engagement on Instagram when I post a relatable meme about my family; everyone can look at it and say, “Woah, this stuff has happened to me as well!” Facebook has a little bit of everything, from long status updates (like blog posts) to memes and videos. Twitter is the wild child. It’s like social media after dark. What works on one, might not work on another. I try to vary my approach.


What does your family think of the character? Well, the character is essentially me. I’ve always been a huge Chevy Chase fan growing up, and his type of comedy is really what I began trying to portray. Obviously, I exaggerate everything, but most of the ideas come from something the family has gone through. Luckily, my wife is a good sport; she just goes with it. If I ask her to stand next to a shelf in Target and look mad, she doesn’t ask questions because she realizes I’ll pout. My kids love it. They even give me ideas on what to post.


What has surprised you the most about fatherhood? What is most challenging? The stress of keeping two people alive and safe 24/7 is the most challenging. When you step back and really think about it, these two little beings need you for food, clothing, and shelter all of the time. Providing that, on top of them knowing everything there is to know about life, is very challenging.


Tell us about starting a podcast: How did it come to be and what do you want listeners to get out of it? My podcast is my baby. Podcasts are one of the only pieces of media I consume now. I don’t watch YouTube. I have friends who are YouTubers; they send me a video to check out, but I usually forget, or I lie and say I did (sorry). I listen to podcasts everyday: on the way to work, at the gym, and at home. They are here to stay. I decided, Hey why not? Do what you love. The feedback has been great. I want it to be a family friendly podcast for parents to listen to in their car with their kids and not have to worry about the content or language being offensive. That’s one of my gripes with many podcasts, my kids can’t be in the room with me.


What is your best parenting advice for expectant parents? Do you wish you did anything differently? My advice to new parents is to document everything: not for the Internet to see, but for yourself. I wish we had video of our little ones when they first walked or when they started to crawl. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I have two totally different kids, and I couldn’t be happier. I can’t tell you how happy we are that we did indeed have two kids. We get to watch both kids love each other for one second and loathe each other the next. It’s cute!

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KidsCon & CAMP EXPO 2nd Annual

New r a e Y s i Th Mini Mom’s all M

Over 60 V plus lotendors entertai s of nment!

Saturday, January 27 • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel & Trade Center, Marlborough

Kids are FREE!

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! y a d o t h t o o b r Reserve you @baysta a in g re t a a in g e Contact R 210 or 508-865-7070 x Sponsored By #bspkidscon18 • BAYSTATEPARENT 51

Oh, Baby – Do We Deliver! Nine months is a long time to wait for your special delivery, so when the big day finally arrives, you want to be sure you and your baby have the very best care. Moms in Central Massachusetts trust UMass Memorial to deliver the greatest experience, from excellent pre- and post-natal care from our obstetricians and family medicine partners, to a wonderful birthing experience at UMass Memorial Health Care. With nearly 5,000 babies born at our hospitals each year, our team most definitely delivers! For added confidence, you have direct access to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Worcester.

Let UMass Memorial be your delivery destination. To learn more about your women’s health team and to make an appointment, call 855-UMASS-MD.

Welcoming Expecting Moms from Harrington HealthCare!

If you’re expecting, you’re in the right place. 52 DECEMBER2017