February 2011 Baystate Parent Magazine

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baystateparent Massachusetts’

Premier Magazine For Families

HOOT AND HOLLER At Laughter Yoga Plus Meet One Of The Funniest Moms In America


TAMING YOURS! PARTYING WITH THE UNDER 3 CROWD 5 GIFTS WITH HEART STUCK ON YOU Celebrating Long-Time Couples Voted Best Parenting Publication in North America 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008

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Bringing a New Puppy Home BY


ringing a new puppy home is an exciting and apprehensive time for any family! What a puppy learns during the first four months of life plays a large role in how he interacts with the family; and how he will respond to circumstances and situations encountered over the course of his life. Here’s some Do’s and Don’ts when bringing home a new puppy:

Do: Do set up an appointment with a local veterinarian and have your puppy examined and vaccinated (if he has not already been) as soon as you get him. Not only will this ensure that your pup is healthy, but this early interaction at the vet’s office can help him be calmer and more relaxed for future visits.

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Don’t coddle a scared puppy. Make sure that the puppy is safe and secure, but coddling when scared can be perceived by the puppy as praise for being afraid and can turn a good dog into a “fearful” or “shy” dog. Simply redirect his thoughts with upbeat and excited play to quickly put the puppy back in the right frame of mind. Don’t allow the new puppy to be unsupervised with other pets or children – EVER. The puppy can quickly become overwhelmed and create a “doggie disaster.” These simple Do’s and Don’ts should help you develop a happy, confident, reliable puppy who is not only well behaved, but a great family member as well.

Do purchase a leash and collar and use it consistently. A leash and collar provide the communication link between you and your puppy and provides safety and restraint for your puppy while he is exploring his new world. Do work with your puppy on being handled, touched and examined. Rub his ears, touch his paws, roll him over and rub his tummy – he will love it! Do make him at home within your home. Dogs have a strong desire to den and crates satisfy this need and provide you with a safe place for your puppy. It is recommended that the puppy be crated whenever he can’t be supervised. This will keep him safe from “doggy disasters.” Do decide on the best solution for containing your puppy and consider all the options. From traditional fences to Invisible Fence® Brand systems there are many ways to contain your pet and keep them safe and secure. Be sure to choose the right method and find an experienced company to properly install or train your pet for maximum effectiveness. Giving your pet the freedom to play safely at home is essential part of his well-being.

Don’t: Don’t allow your puppy to do what he wants just because he’s cute! Jumping, mounting, biting, nipping, growling, etc. are not acceptable behaviors at any age. If you begin to see any of these behaviors learn to stop them now – you’ll be happier and so will your puppy! Don’t correct your puppy in anger or frustration or in a “baby” voice. Speak to your puppy in your normal tone and deliver commands concisely and properly to gain your puppy’s respect. Changing your tone or emotional can cause confusion and frustration for your pup.


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Tvnnfs!ZPVUI!Joufotjwf bu!Uif!Dibsmftupxo!Xpsljoh!Uifbufs A 3-week dynamic youth intensive dyouth intensive that culminates in a 75-minute production of Othello directed by Jason Bowen. With a focus on language, movement, and voice, ASP company members will work with youth to explore and express the powerful, rich language and heartbreaking story of Othello. There will also be specialty workshops in stage combat. This intensive is suited to all all teens, regardless of experience of with Shakespeare. Suited for ages 14-17. Begins Tuesday, July 5th at 9:00AM Runs Mondays – Friday, 9:00AM – 4:00PM Culminates in a performance of Othello on Monday, July 25th Cost: $1200. (some scholarships available) Please complete application from our website by April 4, 2011 and send to programs@actorsshakespeareproject.org If you have any questions please contact Lori at 617-776-2200 x224

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our special guest Grayson Reece, age 4 1/2, of Bridgewater captured by Stephanie Piscitelli Bellini Portaits, Boston, Cape Cod and Beyond www.bellinipics.com





Christine Hurley, one of Nick at Nite’s funniest moms in America, invites you inside her Plymouth home where she dishes on her husband of 23 years and her five kids, ranging in age from 9 to 19.


Does your child turn into a different person on his or her birthday? We can relate! Check out bsp’s party tips for keeping party animals of the worst kind tamed.



If you have a child with food allergies, you’ve got a lot on your plate, especially when it comes to choosing a safe summer camp, as it involves much more that matching a child with a favorite sport or interest.

the of the home


in every issue 8 9 12 13 13 14 16 25


26 MOMS ROCK: Christine Hurley, Plymouth 50 TAKE GOOD CARE: Miscarriage- Still Hiding in the Shadows Many of our regular features appear in our Party Planner special section this month.

party planner 29 GIFTS WITH HEART

30 PARTY ANIMALS 32 34 35 42


advertising directories 36 52 58


CAPTURED: It’s My Party! PARTYING WITH THE UNDER 3 CROWD DIRTY LAUNDRY: Taking the Special out of Special Occasions

43 ON MY PLATE: Our Cake-Crazed World

something special 10 CHANGING FAMILIES: From Traditional to Whatever Works?

46 SUMMER CAMP COUNTDOWN: Camps that Cater to Food Allergies 53 MOMS INSPIRE BEAUTY INSIDE AND OUT 54 LAUGHING MATTERS: The Power of Laughter Yoga

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Massachusetts’ Premier Magazine For Families

e m o c l e W Let’s get the party started in our February Celebrations issue where we share party tips for the under 3 crowd and really cool gifts with heart (for all ages). We’re also discussing what kind of party animal dwells in your family zoo. Now that eight years have passed, and my family’s birthday disaster has turned into a funny memory, I can finally tell you about my party animal. Since my oldest daughter’s birthday is around Halloween, we had big familyand-friend parties for the first several years of her life. It was a pretty picture: cute kids in costumes, cornstalks, mums, pumpkins... That was when we were new to parenting and throwing birthday parties, so we would go all-out. The first year we

were in our home, our daughter was turning 2, and we invited 65 people to celebrate. 65 people. We had never hosted a party before, never fed that many people, never tested out how many people our house could comfortably hold. We were proud first homeowners and even prouder parents of our adorable 2-year-old girl. We wanted to share it with all the people we loved...and then some. We encouraged everyone to wear costumes. Our daughter, a fairy princess, greeted her guests, an assortment of baby bumble bees, princesses and pooh bears. Even some of the adults dressed up, but I said “No Way” to my grandfather’s idea of coming as a clown. A clown would be too scary! My good judgment had kept all the kids safe... for the moment. That is until a 180-pound costumed gorilla stormed our toddler’s birthday. A g.o.r.i.l.l.a. At our toddler’s birthday. A six-foot tall, hairy, jumpingaround, pounding-his-chest gorilla. The gorilla had been hiding out in a basement closet, sweating his butt off, waiting to scare one of the other dads. Caught up in the moment, he chased the dad up the cellar stairs right into a crowd of toddlers, who clutched their parents in fear. I cannot tell you what went through me as I heard the grunting of the primate and the screaming of the children. I ran forward, trying to reason with him, but it was useless. He could not see or hear a thing

behind the thick rubber gorilla mask, conveniently blind and deaf to the kids’ crying, parents pleading and his wife going totally bananas (that would be me). Now, just because our 2-year-old got a kick out of Daddy in the gorilla suit does not mean that all 2-yearolds (or any child for that matter) find this entertaining. We got a few emails after that regarding kids up all night with nightmares, and I told them they should wake my husband up and send him over to deal with it, to which they replied, “No thanks.” The kids are all 10 now and have pretty much recovered. As it turns out, the gorilla turned into a tradition at the Wattu birthdays (but a more controlled and supervised version). The kids who didn’t want to see the ape went into a separate room while the other kids, who caught on that this was just another crazy, hairy dad, chased him with silly string around the yard. They all looked forward to our daughter’s birthday to jump on the gorilla’s back and throw bananas at him. The running of the gorilla stopped as the kids got too big (and strong) and my husband got too tired. Through the years, and two more children, we became seasoned at throwing parties, as you will too. Happy Birthdays everyone!

baystateparent publisher GARETH CHARTER 508-749-3166 x153 gcharter@holdenlandmark.com editor CARRIE WATTU 413-265-1202 editor@baystateparent.com

creative director PAULA MONETTE ETHIER 508-865-7070 baystateparent@holdenlandmark.com

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sales & business development manager STEPHANIE PEARL 774-364-0296 stephaniep@baystateparent.com account executive STACI LaTURNO 774-364-5073 stacil@baystateparent.com account executive EMILY RETTIG 774-364-4178 emilyr@baystateparent.com


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account executive JORDAN FOWLER 508-423-3749 jordanf@baystateparent.com contributing writers TRISHA BLANCHET BRITTANY DURGIN MELANIE MCCARTHY



presidents KIRK and LAURIE DAVIS

Carrie Wattu, editor editor@baystateparent.com

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Grayson Reece

baystateparent Inc. is published monthly with a main office at 117 Elm Street, Millbury, 01527 508-865-7070 Fax 508-865-7979 It is distributed free of charge throughout Massachusetts. www.baystateparent.com • info@baystateparent.com

of Bridgewater, age 4 1/2

Valentine’s Day is about love. Tell us about some of the things you love. I love Ava and Anthony [family friends], Mommy and Madden and Daddy and Grandma and Nana. Who will be your Valentine this year? Mommy! 8 FEBRUARY2011

How do you show your little brother love? Well, I play with his toys with him. I give him hearts. I teach him how to climb the stairs and be right behind him. You look like you play a “mean” accordian. What song were you playing when this picture was taken? I was playing ‘Do do doooo, do do doooo, do-dha-dodee-do, do dah doooo...’ [to the tune of the Spiderman theme song].

Massachusetts' premier magazine for families has earned more than 100 national and regional awards since 2004, including 24 in 2009: stephanie piscitelli

You are on the cover of a magazine! What do you think about that? Well, it’s awesome but I don’t know why I am on the cover of a box! Editor’s Note: A cereal box could very well be in Grayson’s future, but he’s getting his start on baystateparent Magazine.

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your December edition, you featured a resource called, “56 Wishes – ways to donate and volunteer with your family this season.� I’d love to see future opportunities publicized in the months to come. The need is always there, not just during the holidays. Laurie Rivard, Sterling Editor’s Note: Great point Laura! In honor of this month’s Celebrations issue, readers can check out Birthday Wishes, headquartered in Newton, a nonprofit organization specializing in birthday parties for homeless children. For more information on how to help make a birthday special for a child in need, see “Junkdrawers� on page 14.


enjoy reading baystateparent as it is extremely informative and always keeps you in the ‘know!’ baystateparent has allowed me to have great adventures with my two young boys and has made me more aware of the issues that affect families both rewarding and challenging. Maureen Remington, North Oxford

I think it’s wonderful that we can share all these helpful tips with each other. Don’t forget grandparents read your magazine too! Ruth Ann Hastings, Natick

I liked the article about the bodybuilder mom [Nancy Andrews Broderick, Moms Rock, January 2011]. I’m always trying to work out in the morning before getting the kids ready for school, and seeing that someone else is able to do it just got me motivated to try it again this week. Dania Nova, West Roxbury

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You budget and save for an entire year to take your kids to a Red Sox or Patriots game! - Julie Grady, Clinton To send an idea for “You know you’re a baystateparent when..,� email editor@baystateparent.com. Winners will be sent a prize. Julie and her family won a four-pack to the Worcester Sharks.

Winners baystateparent giveaways are announced at baystateparent under “Giveaways� as well as on our Facebook page (Join our page today by searching “baystateparent Magazine.� We’re a friendly and resourceful group of 1,500 parents and growing strong). Some of our recent prizes and winners include: $75 iParty Gift Card Cristin Murphy, Worcester $20 Gift Card to Treat Cupcake Bar, Needham Ruth Ann Hastings, Natick A Christmas Carol DVD Pam Koskovich, Natick Last Airbender DVD Dana Cohen, Holliston Patricia Emery E. Allston All letters will be edited for clarity and length. Please include your full name and town for publication. BAYSTATEPARENT 9

changing fami



doug page, angela stork illustrator

there a married couple out there that would ever guess that the day they bring home that bundle of joy from the hospital that they’re a minority? Probably not. But that’s exactly the case. It turns out, according to the latest information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that only about 20 percent of all American adults, just over 48 million, are married, living with their spouse, and, together, bringing up a child or children to which they both have a biological connection. The remaining adults – just under 200 million – are married with children but only one parent might have a biological connection to the youngsters, possibly due to a divorce. Other adults are single parents, possibly by choice, or they’re divorced, widowed, living with a partner or a roommate or just living by themselves. The myriad of living situations any adult can be in is countless. But one thing is for sure – the traditional household, where a married mom and dad live together and are bringing up kids they conceived, is falling. Back in 2000, when the last census of the American population was completed, there were about 49.6 10 FEBRUARY2011

million married adults bringing up their children together, meaning the ranks of traditional households slipped by more than one million in the last 10 years. Part of this is due to divorce. Ten years ago, there were about 21.5 million divorced adults. The latest Census numbers show that the number of divorced adults increased to about 25 million.

More than 1.5 million unmarried women in the United States, the Census Bureau reports, gave birth in 2009, an increase from about 1.3 million in 2006. In Massachusetts, during the same time frame, nearly 25,000 unwed mothers gave birth in 2009, up from 21,890 in 2006. About 23 million children, almost a

As the number of traditional households decline, child rearing is no longer the exclusive preserve of traditional couples. As the number of traditional households decline, child rearing is no longer the exclusive preserve of traditional couples.

third of all kids in the United States, are growing up with a single parent. And about 3 million of these children, reports the Census Bureau, live not only

with a single parent but also with their parent’s partner. In the Bay State, about 400,000 children, which is more than 25 percent of all kids in the Commonwealth, are growing up with a single parent; about 77,000 of them live not only with their single parent but also their parent’s partner. In addition, it’s estimated, from various media outlets, that between 1 – 9 million children are raised by gay couples in the United States. But alternative lifestyles don’t stop with gay parents. It’s estimated that about 40,000 Americans live in polygamist families and, in what might be considered the last social barrier to be crossed, polyamorists, adults who carry more than one, open romantic relationship at a time, are bringing up children, too, even in Massachusetts. So it’s no surprise that there’s a debate – in the media and among politicians – about the future of family and the best way to bring up children. “The family structure has been changing rapidly,” says Andrea Press, a sociologist at the University of Virginia. “There are so many unorthodox-looking families compared to 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. “The blended family is common. The single parent family is common because



America have a cultural blind spot. We see plural marriage through the lens of sexuality,” he says. “Every question that’s asked about polygyny can also be asked about monogamy. There are lots of shelters for battered women from monogamous households,” Professor Kilbride adds. “If the idea is to get fathers back into the lives of their children, plural marriage might be one way to it,” he says. Professor Kilbride also thinks that polygny might be the antidote for divorce. “Once divorce became legal, the divorce rate shot up to 50 percent,” says Kilbride. “We have, in a way, an informal polygyny in our culture because people divorce and remarry. “Divorce is not good for children. One option is that instead of getting divorced, add another spouse. The children in plural marriages are no worse off than in monogamous marriages,” he says. Then there’s polyandry, a wife with multiple husbands. Professor Kilbride says there were Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest that practiced polyandry and it might be an option for today. “There are some very powerful woman today who can’t have children with their husband but still want them and want to be responsible about it. For them, polyandry would be an option.”

the LAST social frontier?

of divorce. Unmarried people are having children or adopting children. More and more parents are gay, so you have an increasing proportion of parents and children that look nothing like traditional nuclear family,” she adds. These statistics and changing lifestyles lead to the question of what families will look like in the future. Will Americans come to accept more family arrangements, even ones that challenge preconceived notions of what passes for normal? It’s hard to say.

the FIRST alternative lifestyle? Before gay couples came along, the country’s first alternative lifestyle was likely polygyny, or plural marriage involving a husband with more than one wife, which was ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court back in the 19th century. It had been allowed and promoted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but the Church stopped allowing the practice in 1890. Still, this hasn’t stopped the lifestyle. Fundamentalist sects within the

Mormon faith continue to practice polygyny. And as two experts on the subject say, there are some very good reasons to allow the practice. “Suppose you’re a woman alone with children. You’re a Mormon. Then you find a Mormon family with the same beliefs as you, and these women (the wives) are great,” says Janet Bennion, an anthropologist at Lyndon State College in Vermont, who lived with polygynists for four years and authored a book, Women of Principle: Female Networking in Contemporary Mormon Polygny. “And by working with them, you can create this amazing female-to- female network. There’s childcare and you have a chance to foster a very close relationship with these amazing ladies. “The female-to-female network is very attractive,” she adds. Professor Bennion says polygyny should be decriminalized because it will force it out in the open to be “examined by other people against monogamous marriages and other blended families.” “Plural marriage is marriage, it’s not plural sexuality,” says Philip Kilbride, an anthropologist at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and author of Plural Marriage for our Times: A Reinvented Option? “It’s marriage and the family, but we in

It’s hard to define the typical polyamorous union because it can involve few or many adults living together or apart, sometimes married, sometimes not. “A lot of people outside of the polyamory community think these relationships are all about sex. It’s not. It’s about family,” says Robyn Trask, managing director of Loving More, a polyamorous educational group in Loveland, Colorado, who estimates that between 150,000 – 200,000 Americans live in polyamorous relationships. “One of the advantages of polyamorous families is that you can have two incomes while one parent stays home with the children,” Trask says. “The extended sense of family is one of the things that attracts people to polyamorous families,” she says. “It’s more hands to help. It is shared resources. “The nuclear family isolates people, and when you think about this economy, it’s hard to survive, especially if you have two parents working and the kids are in daycare,” Trask says. In addition, says Trask, it’s difficult for any one wife or husband to meet all of their spouse’s needs. “It’s a little naïve to think that one person can fill all of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs,” she says. In Massachusetts, there are at least three polyamorous groups with an online membership of nearly 1,000 people, says Tara Shakti-Ma, who’s

active in the polyamory community. In a Boston suburb, Victoria, who requested anonymity, cares full-time for her two children, both under 10 years old, while the other two adults in the polyamorous family, which includes the children’s other mother and their father, work. She’s known the couple for 16 years, lived with them for 14, and says family life is no different than anyone else’s. “We take out the garbage, do the recycling and review the kids’ homework,” Victoria says. The adult relationships are about “egalitarianism, full disclosure and informed consent.” “You don’t practice this lifestyle under any false sense of gender entitlement,” she added. “We’d like people to know it (polyamory) is an ethical option,” Victoria says. “It’s a valid choice for relationships. “It’s not crazy or perverted. It’s a responsible option for people who don’t feel they can be monogamous. We’re not swingers and we don’t cheat,” she adds.

historical and LEGAL perspective While polygyny isn’t likely to be declared legal anytime soon, and polyamorous unions aren’t becoming the norm tomorrow, there are examples of U.S. citizens crossing political boundaries long before the government and the majority of citizens ever did, such as with abolition, woman’s suffrage and, more recently, gay rights, especially gay marriage. Will plural marriage and polyamorous unions receive legal recognition? One expert doesn’t think so. “The story of the expansion of civil rights is that it’s a recognition of individual rights and is resistant to group rights,” says Boston University history professor Bruce Professor Schulman “Black civil rights and women’s suffrage is based on individual rights. They are rights-bearing individuals. Groups don’t have rights,” he adds. But another expert offers up this assessment of Massachusetts’s marriage law, especially in light of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruling, providing legal recognition of gay marriage. “The exclusive purpose of marriage was procreation and family law had a channeling function because it changed people into responsible parents,” says Boston University Law School Professor Linda McClain. “Given the evolution of Massachusetts laws, it’s a little hard to argue that marriage law still has that channeling function.” What’s next for the American family? Likely more change. Doug Page is a freelance writer living in a traditional family in Mendon with his wife and two sons.



Haiti to Home: photos courtesy of the budd family


bonnie j. toomey


the Budd’s yard there is a red ribbon of hope tied into a bow around the trunk of a tall pine growing beside their driveway. A basketball hoop stands nearby in front of their three bedroom house. It’s the hub where the Budd teens do their homework, have meals with their parents and on Sundays pile into the family car to go to church. It’s a place where Christmas lights twinkle in December and sprinklers dance on the lawn in July. Now imagine a place where mothers turn to feeding their children mud pies made from salt, shortening and dirt to fend off hunger, a place where crime is a part of everyday life and clean water and electricity are not. Just 700 miles from Miami is the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This is the place where 12-year-old Roselande lives. With infant mortality statistics of one in ten, a 60% illiteracy rate and a ravaged environment from weather and poor infrastructure, many children struggle to survive in Haiti. Extended families live in makeshift houses of tarps, blankets and corrugated metal where there is barely room enough for one bed. Clean water is a luxury, costing more than six dollars a bucket, and the average daily income is only two dollars. Some Haitians have even risked injury trying to catch sloshing water in unsanitary pails when the water truck pulls away. They call it tent city. “There are thousands upon thousands of tents,” says Sue Budd, referring to the crude dwellings she saw during her first trip to Haiti in November 2010 with her daughter, Clarissa, under the umbrella of Grace Community Church. Nothing here in the states prepared her for the living conditions she witnessed the day they stepped foot onto Haitian soil. Shockingly, this was part of everyday life for Roselande until she was 6. Her mother left in 2004, and out of desperation, her father found his way to Wayom Timoun Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, also known 12 FEBRUARY2011

as Kids Kingdom. He prayed that Pastor Antoine Jean Rigaud would be able to give his daughter shelter and food. Roseland was one of the lucky ones. Many children from the poorest neighborhood like La Saline, are living along streets running with raw sewerage amidst dangers of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera and HIV. Roselande came to live at the orphanage with Pastor Rigaud and over 30 children who were in his care. A year later and over two thousand miles away along a quiet wooded street in the small suburban town of Acton, Massachusetts, the Budd family go ready to go to church one January Sunday. They listened from their church pew as president of Servants for Haiti, Laurae Richards, asked members of the congregation to consider becoming foster families for children from Kids Kingdom in Haiti. There were over 20 children at the orphanage who were in need of basic food, school and medical assistance. After the service, the Budds were compelled to help. Drawn to a table with photos of orphaned and abandoned children, Clarissa gently lifted up a snapshot of a smiling little girl in a red dress. Clarissa had always hoped to have a little sister. When the Budds held the picture of young Roselande in their hands, they agreed they would become her sponsor family. The tiny seeds of a new relationship across countries and cultures started to take root. After Fred and Sue signed the sponsorship forms, Roselande’s photo was carefully carried home and placed on the desk in the Budd’s living room, where a donation payment book and a simple Haitian-Creole to English translation book were placed in the same desk drawer for easy access. While children in the United States are wondering what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows or planning ahead for birthday parties and school field trips, Roselande would look forward to any

messages or packages mailed from the Budd family. The Budds began sending Roselande clothes, toys and snacks. As time went on they learned their sponsor child was bright and very helpful at the orphanage, loved to sing and dance and that her all-time favorite color was red. Roselande soon learned her letters and in her own handwriting wrote one of her first notes to the Budds which they kept and treasured with each letter, photo and drawing to follow. “Thank you for all you do,” she wrote in Haitian-Creole in blue pen, drawing a simple picture of a person in a house with giant holiday candles lit. Because of the Budd’s 25 dollar monthly donation, Roselande walks to school in a pale orange uniform through the close quarters of the city taking one step closer to a formal education. She says her prayers every night with the children in the orphanage, sleeping with pictures of the Budds safely under her pillow. Clarissa had subtly been asking her parents if they would ever consider adopting, but it was not something the Budds were ready for. They had three children; the economy wasn’t the greatest and Sue was a stay-athome mom. “Adoption was the furthest thing from my mind at the time,” says Sue. But all that changed when the earthquake shook the country with a devastating 7.0 magnitude of destruction Jan 12, 2010, leaving the Budd family reeling in the dark days ahead to find new hope for their foster daughter. Follow the Budd’s journey each month in baystateparent! Freelance writer Bonnie J. Toomey is the mom of four interesting children and grandmother to two more. She lives with her child-groom of 30 years, and their dog, Molly, in North Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit Bonnie’s blog at parentforward.blogspot.com

Life in Haiti • 76% live on less than $2 a day • 54% live on less than $1 dollar a day • 81% don’t get the minimum daily ration of food as defined by the World Health Organization. • 66% have no access to electricity • 52% have no access to clean water, basic sanitation, health, and education HIV/AIDS deaths estimated at 7,200 in 2007 • 3 million were in need of emergency aid after the earthquake • Population of Haiti is 10 million • Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere source: The Congressional Research Service



Editor’s Note: Visit AdoptionCommunityofNE.org for an assortment of workshops for the pre-adoptive and waiting family.

Highlights of February’s Adoption-Related Events

Multicultural Adoption Party: Sun., Feb., 13, 3- 5:30 p.m. Held at the Boys & Girls Club, 15 Talbot Ave. Dorchester. This event focuses on finding permanent families for children of color. All families are welcome. Learn about the process of adopting a child from foster care, and meet waiting children and their social workers. Join youngsters in activities such as arts and crafts, basketball and table games (dress casually). To RSVP, call MARE at 617-54-ADOPT (542-3678).

A Look at Adoption: Sat., Feb. 26, 2 – 5:30 p.m. This seminar for prospective adopters covers all of the beginning information you need to make educated decisions about adoption. Learn about the types of adoption available in the U.S. and around the world. Held at the Adoption Community of New England, Inc. (ACONE), 45 Lyman St., #2, Westborough. $30ppNM. 508-366-6812, AdoptionCommunityofNE.org.

Portraits of Children and Teens in State Foster Care. Ends Feb. 14. The Arsenal Mall in Chestnut Hill hosts the Heart Gallery Photography Exhibit, featuring 24 portraits of youth in state foster care in need of adoption. Volunteer photographers create portraits of the children and teens, ages 6-16, who are awaiting adoption. For more info, contact MARE at 617-54-ADOPT or visit MAREinc.org. Editor’s Note: For information on the ongoing Heart Gallery Exhibit, visit mareinc.org and click “Events.” Please submit March’s adoption-related events by Friday, February 4th at baystateparent.com, Calendar, “Submit an Event.”


baby-licious Mini-Dance Camps Ages 3-7


508-865-7070 DANIEL Daniel is a 12-year-old boy of Caucasian descent whose whole face lights up when he smiles. Legally free for adoption, Daniel longs for a family of his own. Reserved by nature, Daniel enjoys building things such as Legos & Kinex. He tends to prefer independent play such as video games and arts & crafts projects. He gets along well with others, especially adults. He likes to ride bikes but is not particularly interested in sports. Daniel has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and does well in a separate classroom; although, he struggles with the homework piece. He needs assistance with organization and school work. When Daniel gets frustrated he can become defiant, but it is relatively low-key. Daniel has made huge gains over the past year in a residential program and recently successfully transitioned to a specialized foster home. Previously matched with an adoptive family, Daniel says of that brief experience that “they didn’t really give me a chance.” Ready to try again, Daniel would need a long transition to feel comfortable that his new family would, in fact, be his forever family. He would do well with a two-parent family that could provide him with a structured environment where he could reach his full potential. If you are interested in learning more about Daniel or adoption in general, please contact Department of Children & Families Adoption Supervisor Eileen Griffin at 978-353-3629.

TLC Christian Preschool A Ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church


Limited Openings Fall enrollment begins February 1 • Qualified, nurturing staff • Hands-on, age appropriate curriculum • Christian environment • 2.9-5 years old Call 508-753-2989 ext. 17 for additional information and to schedule a facility tour. Conveniently located across from the Worcester Art Museum

73 Lancaster Street Worcester, MA 01609 www.trinityworc.org/preschool BAYSTATEPARENT 13




Who wouldn’t like to take a silly photo with your bff (or even Grandma) sticking your tongues out at the camera? Priceless! “Instant memories, instant fun!” is the motto of Austin and Marissa Sweazy, the Salem couple who own Photo Fun Box, LLC, delivering hours of spontaneous photo booth fun to your birthday party, bar mitzvah or any special event all over New England. photofunbox.com.


wynne mintz photography


courtesy langham hotels

Spend a Saturday afternoon indulging your sweeter side at The Langham, Boston’s most unique Chocolate Bar. Sample chocolate in its five elements, salty, sweet, savory, bitter, sour, in this all-you-can-enjoy buffet. Free for children under 4! Visit opentable.com for more information.


Moms who have cavities can transmit this risk to their infants. Cavity-causing bacteria can be passed through saliva, so pre-tasting, pre-chewing and utensil sharing with children is not recommended. -Michelle Dalal MD FAAP, Mass Chapter Oral Health Advocate

GRANT BIRTHDAY WISHES: Imagine never having a birthday

courtesy birthdaywishes.org

Chelmsford mom Trish Blanchet is just like you. Her dishwasher works “harder than a roller coaster in July,” and she still can’t find a clean spoon. She’s also worn two different shoes to the party. She knows that when you’re busy trying to get through every day with little kids, the last thing you need is more advice. Her latest book, The Cow Crashed into the Moon: Messing up Motherhood in 7 Easy Steps ( Sleepy Owl Press, November 2010), is a very funny read about life with little ones. The best part is that it’s a book you can pick up and put down, whenever, wherever. No pressure. You’ll find yourself saying, “ Hey, our couch looks like that too!” and “My kid holds his breath when he’s mad!” A great gift for any mom of little ones (available at amazon.com).

Mom, did you know your cavities can do this?

party? Hundreds of Massachusetts children living in homeless shelters do not. Find out how you can help throw a party on each of their birthdays by attending “Worcester’s Biggest Birthday Party” on Saturday, March 19, 1 – 4 p.m. Join Birthday Wishes, a Bostonbased nonprofit celebrating its 9th year throwing birthday parties for needy children, at Coral Seafood, Shrewsbury St., Worcester for a free afternoon filled with crafts, games and entertainment. Please bring a donation of juice boxes. 774-267-9133, birthdaywishes.org.

Junkdrawers strives to highlight the products, people and places of Massachusetts. Have an idea? E-mail editor@baystateparent.com.

Foster Parents Wanted 688 Main St. Holden, MA Toll Free...


www.devereuxma.org (click on Intensive Foster Care)

Find us on Facebook


SAVE THE DATE Come visit our Open House on February 16th 2011 • 2pm-4pm Seeking families throughout central Mass who are interested in improving a child's life Call now to learn about our $1000 sign-on bonus!


Low Teacher to Child Ratios Terry Wentworth, Director

132 Holden Street, Worcester 508-459-1261 w w w. ro o m 2 b l o o m . o rg Offering flexible schedules for today’s busy families. Conveniently located with easy access to I-190 and I-290

Exceptional Child Care & Education in a Creative Nurturing Environment Where Children Acquire Independence, Respect & School Readiness Full & Half Day Programs Available for Infants through Pre-Kindergarten OPEN FROM 7AM-6PM

IMMEDIATE OPENINGS AVAILABLE Call for more info. about our older toddler program!

84Âş and Sunny Year Round!

Š Disney/Pixar. Š Mattel, Inc. Š Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. SlinkyÂŽDog™.

Chase away the winter blues with a day trip to CoCo Key Water Resort!

4HEÂŹ&UNÂŹ"EGINSÂŹATÂŹ ÂŹFORÂŹ Opening Night Tickets!* &%" ÂŹ 18 - 27

Fri. FEB. 18

7:00 PM* Wed. FEB. 23 1:00 PM

Thu. FEB. 24 10:00 AM 2:00 PM

Fri. FEB. 25 1:00 PM 7:00 PM

Sat. FEB. 19 11:00 AM 3:00 PM 7:00 PM

Sun. FEB. 20 12 NOON 4:00 PM

Sat. FEB. 26 11:00 AM 3:00 PM 7:00 PM

Sun. FEB. 27

Mon. FEB. 21 11:00 AM 3:00 PM

12 NOON 4:00 PM

*(Excludes Front Row, VIP Floor and VIP seats. No double discounts. Additional fees may apply.)


150 Royal Plaza Drive Fitchburg, MA 01420

CoCoKeyWaterResort.com/Fitchburg BAYSTATEPARENT 15


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

©Disney/CML. Photo by Joan Marcus


GO WHEELS: Catch the biggest performers on four wheels at Worcester’s family-friendly Monster Jam, Feb. 18 - 20. dcucenter.com. 16 FEBRUARY2011

Steve Wood as Abraham Lincoln. Photo by Carol Boughrum.

kindra clineff/mott 2004-2011

Photo courtesy of Feld Motorsports

GO CHIM CHIM CHER-EE: The Mary Poppins musical comes to the Boston Opera House, Feb. 17 - March 20. broadwayacrossamerica.com/boston.

GO RIBBET! Did you know you can have your birthday party at the Frog Pond, Boston? For details, and to check out public skating hours, visit bostonfrogpond.com.

GO HONEST ABE: Enjoy a Presidents’ Day visit with Abraham Lincoln on Mon., Feb. 21, at the Concord Museum. concordmuseum.org.

MELTDOWN WARNING: Before you pack up the mini-van, please confirm your destination. Although we’ve done our best to assure accuracy at press time, things can and do change… A Adult C Child Y Youth M Member NM Non-Member PP Per Person

1TUESDAY FREE Infant Story Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 9:45 a.m. This half hour story time will include finger plays, songs and puppets as well as some great Barefoot books! (Older siblings are invited to read, play or color in Barefoot’s back room during the story time.) Ages 0-12 months with caretakers. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. Baby Gorilla Naming Contest. Franklin Park Zoo, Zoo New England, Boston. Feb. 1 – 25. Submit name entries for the baby gorilla inside the Tropical Forest. A winner will be selected in a very special public presentation on Feb. 25. The winner will receive a family membership to the Zoo as well as a behind-the-scenes tour for up to 6 people. The baby, born Nov. 3, inside Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest, is the third girl for Kiki and Kitombe (Kit), who are also parents to Kira, age 11, and Kimani, age 6. Franklin Park Zoo is home to eight western lowland gorillas, including the new baby. A$14, C (2-12)$8, C Under 2 free. 617-541-LION (5466), franklinparkzoo.org Sea Squirts: Programs for Toddlers and Preschoolers. New England Aquarium, Boston. Tuesdays, Feb. 1, 8, 15 & March 1; and Fridays, Feb. 4, 11, 18 & March 4. 9:30 & 11 a.m. For more details, including admission, call 617-973-5206 or visit neaq.org. The Lion King. Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI. Feb. 1- 20. Tuesdays, 7 p.m.; Wednesdays - Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m,.; Saturdays, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. $28 $133. 401-421-2787, ppacri.org.

2WEDNESDAY Small Wonders Activity Program. Concord Free Public Library, 10 a.m. For a parent and her 18-24 month-old child. concordlibrary.org. FREE Parent Support Group. Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL), Community Healthlink (CHL), 100 Erdman Way, Leominster. 5 – 6:30 p.m. This is a free and confidential Parent Support Group, where you can meet other parents and caregivers that understand the struggles and victories of raising challenging kids who may have emotional, behavioral or mental health needs. 508-7679725, ppal.net. Children’s 2 ½ Year-Old Storytime. Cary Memorial Library, Lexington.10:30 – 11 a.m. Just drop in for stories, rhymes and songs. carylibrary.org. Groundhog Day. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Will there be six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Find out when Ms. G delivers her official forecast at 9:30 am (free to attend the forecast). Then learn about hibernation, winter wildlife and how to identify animal tracks in the snow. Call for admission fees: 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org/drumlin.

3THURSDAY FREE How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci. The Discovery Museums, Acton. 7 – 9 p.m. Science Discovery.

Adults and teens participate in a book discussion about How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci by Michael Gelb. No fee, but pre-registration is required. 978-264-4200, discoverymuseums.org. Explore Collections. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 10:30 a.m – 12:30 p.m. Wear white gloves and explore the Museum’s treasures. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Also Feb. 17. FREE Take a Look Morning. Applewild School, 120 Prospect St., Fitchburg. 9 – 11 a.m. This independent school for grades K through 8 is hosting an Open House on the first Thursday of each month for prospective parents. No RSVP necessary. 978-342-6053, x110 or applewild.org. Children’s Storytimes. Cary Memorial Library, Lexington. Laptime, ages 0-15 months, 9:30 – 10 a.m.; Toddlers age 16 – 24 months, 10:30 – 11 a.m.; Toddler ages 25 – 30 months, 11:15 – 11:45 a.m. Just drop in. carylibrary.org. Budding Scientists - Shadow Play. EcoTarium, 222 Harrington Way, Worcester. 10:15 – 10:45 a.m., 11 11:30 a.m. Experience fun, hands-on (and safe) science experiments designed especially for children ages 4-6 and their parents. This month, Budding Scientists figure out how and why the groundhog sees his shadow. This is active and interactive science, so come prepared to participate. For more information, e-mail info@ecotarium.org. 508929-2700, ecotarium.org.

4FRIDAY School Readiness Friday Night. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 6 – 8 p.m. Practice skills that will get you ready for kindergarten. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. FREE Parent Support Group. Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL). Milford Public Library, 80 Spruce St., Milford. 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Meet other parents and caregivers that understand the struggles and victories of raising challenging kids who may have emotional, behavioral or mental health needs. 508-767-9725, ppal.net. FREE Scout Sabbath. Beth Tikvah Synagogue, 45 Oak St., Westborough. 7:30 - 9 p.m. All current Scouts, or adults who were Scouts as youth, are urged to join in this special service. BethTikvahSynagogue.org. FREE Children’s Story Time - Theme: Snow. Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St., Worcester. 11 a.m. Story time for children, ages 3 - 8, at local community bookstore. Read picture books all about snow. Pre-register: 508-796-5613.

5SATURDAY SteveSongs Concert in Acton. The Acton Children’s School, Parker Damon Building, 11 Charter Rd., Acton. 10:30 a.m. Presented by children’s entertainer, recording artist and PBS Kids co-host “Mr. Steve” Roslonek of SteveSongs. actonchildrensschool.org/stevesong.html. Tickets: 800-937-3397 or stevesongs.com. Tickets may also be purchased at Learning Express, Roche Brothers and Buttons and Bows in Acton. The concert benefits the Acton Children’s School. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. YMCA Greater Boston, 316 Huntington Ave., Boston. 2 p.m. Kevin Henkes’s delightful Lilly is a mouse with a little bit of attitude and a whole lotta heart!Kevin Kling wove together three of Kevin Henkes’ books to create this delightful show. Recommended for ages 3+. A/C $20. 617-536-7800, ymcaboston.org. FREE Families Connect at the BCA. Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston. 1-2:30 p.m. or 3-4:30 p.m. Parents and children are invited to explore the Mills Gallery’s exhibit, “This Must Be The Place,” with fun, interactive workshops. How do artists get their ideas? What steps do they take to finish their work? Learn more about the artistic process and create your own art! Preregistration is required: bcaonline.org.

joy marzolf


Who gives a hoot about owls? We do! Visit the Owl Festival in Natick on Sat., Feb. 5 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary. massaudubon.org Roots and Shoots Saturdays. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 11 a.m – 1 p.m. Explore your environment. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Art Meets Music VIII. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 10 a.m – 5 p.m. Live classical, opera, blues and jazz inspire artmaking throughout the Museum. See web site for list of performers. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-4266500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Also Feb. 6. FREE Kids’ Book Club & Tea at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 10 a.m. Features lively discussions on Barefoot’s award-winning books. Also enjoy crosswords, word-plays, and other fun language activities, over a cup of warm tea. Pre-registration required. Ages 7-10 years. Space is limited. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. FREE X-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Open House. Finnish Center at Saima Park, 67 Scott Rd., Fitchburg. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (off Ashby State Road, Route 31). Open house every Sat. in Feb. Bring your skis or snowshoes and enjoy the wooded terrain. 978-602-2014 or email lloydhannula@aol.com. Visit saima-park.org Also Feb. 12, 19 & 26. Evening Chores. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 3 – 4:30 p.m. Ages 4+. Help with the farm’s evening chores. $15NM. Pre-register: 781-2592206, massaudubon.org/drumlin. Girl Scout Cookies! Sold in Marlborough by Girl Scouts at EMS, 753 Donald Lynch Blvd., Chex Bella and Stevie’s. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. $4 a box. 508-736-8100, girlscoutsofeasternmass.com. Owl Festival Live Owl Show. Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, 280 Eliot St. (Rt.16), Natick. 3 – 4 p.m. Enjoy an up-close and personal view of some local owl species, including the great horned and screech owl. Pre-registration required. A$18, C$10NM. 508-655-2296, massaudubon.org. Sleeping Beauty: National Marionette Theatre. Rogers Center for the Arts, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover. 2 p.m. The award-winning company tells this story beautifully and artfully. All ages. A/C $12. 978-8375355, merrimack.edu/rogers.

FREE Lakeshore Learning Crafts, Newton and Saugus. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Held every Saturday for kids ages 3 and up. lakeshorelearning.com. Antique Sleigh Rally. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. 9:30 a.m – 4 p.m. New for 2011 - A genuine New England Sleigh Rally in the fields of the Freeman Farm. See horse-drawn sleighs in action, including cutters and bobsleighs, as they compete for awards. A $20, C (3-17) $7. 800-733-1830, osv.org. Open House 11 year Anniversary Celebration. Central Mass Yoga And Wellness, Inc. 45 Sterling St., West Boylston. 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Raffles, free classes, chair massages, samples and more. centralmassyoga.com.

6SUNDAY Film: The Muppet Movie. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Recommended for ages 5+. A $7, C $5. 617-734-2500, coolidge.org/kids. FREE Chinese New Year Dance & Story Hour at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 2 – 3 p.m. Hear the story of the Chinese New Year, and learn about the beautiful, ancient art of Chinese dance by an experience dance student! Children ages 3 - 10 years are welcome to watch and learn, or even try a few dance moves. Promises to be a fun, interesting way to usher in the Chinese New Year. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. FREE Annual Summer Camp Fair. Sudbury Loring Elementary School PTO at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High Scool, 390 Lincoln Rd., Sudbury. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. 80+ camps offering information on day, overnight and travel programs for students in grades K-12. sudburycampfair.org

7MONDAY FREE For Parents The Dance of Interaction. Pearle L. Crawford Memorial Library, Dudley. 6 – 8 p.m. Jeanine K. Fitzgerald presents her book, The Dance of Interaction, giving you creative solutions to handles the challenges of raising children.508-949-8021. Take A Walk Winter Outdoor Activity. Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham. Through March 31st. Mon. - Fri., BAYSTATEPARENT 17




10 a.m - 3 p.m.; Sat., 12 to 3 p.m. With activity backpacks (appropriate for ages 3-9) children and accompanying adults explore the 45-acre estate and farm. $5 rental per backpack. Snowshoes also available in adult and child sizes, rental $5. Complimentary hot cocoa served. $5 per snowshoes rental or backpack. 781-894-2798, goreplace.org.

La Leche League Meeting. Cary Memorial Library, Lexington. 10 a.m. - Noon. A mother-to-mother support group for breastfeeding mothers and others interested in breastfeeding. The group is facilitated by accredited leaders. carylibrary.org.


Owl Always Be Your Valentine. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 3:30 – 5 p.m. Ages 3+. Meet one of Drumlin Farm’s resident owls up close. Then make your own owl valentine! $12 NM. Preregistration required. 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org/ drumlin.

FREE Infant Story Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 9:45 a.m. This half hour story time will include finger plays, songs and puppets as well as some great Barefoot books! (Older siblings are invited to read, play or color in our back room during the story time.) Ages 0-12 months with caretakers.978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com.

FREE Workshop “Telling Your Story.� Parent/ Professional Advocacy League (PAL). Millbury Public Library, 128 Elm St., Millbury. 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Help families who have children and youth with different diagnosis and challenges find effective ways to get their message across to service providers, policy makers and community members in order to bring about positive changes. Share your experience, your story and learn how to make a difference. 508-767-9725, ppal.net.

FREE The Seven Core Issues of Adoption. First Connections’ Adoption Learn & Play Group, 111 ORNAC Community Agencies Bldg., #1009, Concord. 9:30 – 11 a.m. Discussion led by Mary Rowlinson, R.N. Childcare provided during discussion. For parents of adopted children age 0-8. 978-287-0221, firstconnections.org. For more adoption-related events, see baystateparent’s Circle of Friends Adoption Calendar in every issue.

Storytime. Goodnow Public Library, Sudbury. 10:30 a.m. Ages 2 ½ +. Ends Feb. 25. Just drop in.sudbury. ma.us/departments/library/ FREE Children’s Story Time - Theme: Snow. Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St., Worcester. 11 a.m. Ages 3 – 8. Pre-register: 508-796-5613.

Crystal Singing Bowl Journel Meditation. Wachusett Music Series. First Church of Christ Unitarian, 725 Main St., Lancaster. 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Through the beautiful sounds of the quartz crystal singing bowls, rattles, bells, rain sticks and other harmonious percussion instruments Bindy leads you on a soul journey. $15pp. 978-365-2043, wachusettmusic.com.

susan wilson

Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Expo. DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 10 – 13. See Feb. 10 listing for details.

Winter Scavenger Hunt. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 3:30 – 5 p.m. ages 4+. $10NM. Pre-registration required: 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org/drumlin.

Curious how colonial kids in Boston spent their vacations? Drop in to the Old South Meeting House any day during school vacation week for special activities. osmh.org.

9WEDNESDAY A Cow in the Kitchen. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 1 – 2:30 p.m. Visit the gentle cows in the big red barn. Try your hand at milking the cow. Share a tasty dairy snack.$12NM. All ages. Pre-register: 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org/drumlin. FREE Ready for School Night. UMass Memorial Child Care Program/Bright Horizons Family Solutions. Memorial Child Care Center, 38 Oak Ave., Worcester. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Parents of toddler and preschool age children are invited to come learn about how this preschool program prepares children for school. Meet teachers and learn about Bright Horizons curriculum. 774-455-5437, brighthorizons.com.

10THURSDAY Meet–Play–Learn! Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 10 – 11:30 a.m. Discover the joy of learning.

Recommended for ages 5 and under. A/C $12NM.. 617426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Sunfish. Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St., Stoneham. Feb. 10 – 27. (7:30 p.m.), Fri. (8 p.m.), Sat. (4 & 8 p.m.), Sun. (2 p.m.) When offered a miraculous cure to restore her father’s sight, a poor young girl sacrifices everything she knows and is swept up in an adventure that takes her from her small village to a fantastic undersea world. Based on a traditional Korean folk-tale, Sunfish combines the energy of Wicked with the magic of The Little Mermaid. A $38-$44, C$20. 781-279-2200, stonehamtheatre.org. Story/Craft. Goodnow Library, Sudbury. 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. Ages 2- 6 years. Every Thursday year round. Just drop in. sudbury.ma.us/departments/library/ Adventures in Toileting. Mothers and Company, West Boylston. 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. This workshop is designed to offer moms and dads advice, support, strategies and tools

to help facilitate toileting. $25 per family (meaning two parents in one family). Babies in arms welcome. mothersandcompany.com. Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Expo. DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 10 – 13. Thurs. & Fri., 12:30 – 9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Hundreds of exhibitors represent the entire world of fishing & hunting. A$12, C (5-11) $3. sportshows.com, 508-755-6800 and dcucenter.com. FREE Parent Support Group. Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL), 51 Union St., 3rd Floor/Suite 308, Worcester. 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This is a free and confidential Parent Support Group, where you can meet other parents and caregivers that understand the struggles and victories of raising challenging kids who may have emotional, behavioral or mental health needs. 508-7679725, ppal.net.

12SATURDAY FREE Fun For Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum. Especially for Me! The Discovery Museums, Acton. 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Supported by Autism Alliance of MetroWest. Please contact Amy Spencer at aspencer@discoverymuseums. org or 978-264-4200 x 28 for more information or to register for the event. Discoverymuseums.org. Kitchen Science: Wiggling Water. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 11:30 a.m – 1:30 p.m. Explore the unusual properties of water and color. A/C $12. 617-4266500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Kamishibai - Japanese Storytelling. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. 11 a.m, 12 & 1 p.m. “Buying Mittens, � a story of a mother fox and her child. A/C $12. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Alexander, King of Jesters. Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Enter the world of the Wise Fool, and take an inspiring journey to Medieval times. A Coolidge regular, Alex the Jester has performed his physical comedy on Showtime, America’s Got Talent, Off-Broadway in NY, and at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. Recommended for ages 3+. A $9.75, C $7.75. 617-7342500, coolidge.org/kids.

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FREE Drop In Storytime for Ages 3+. Goodnow Public Library, Sudbury. Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Ends Feb. 22. sudbury.ma.us/departments/library/

A Presidents’ Day Visit with Abraham Lincoln. Concord Museum, Cambridge Turnpike at Lexington Rd., Concord. 1 – 2 p.m. Matching Lincoln’s height and beard, performer Steve Wood bears enough of a resemblance to our 16th president to make heads turn. His first-person historical interpretation, “A Visit with Abraham Lincoln,” includes stories of Lincoln’s early life, campaign debates with Stephen Douglas, the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and concludes with a stirring reading of the Gettysburg Address. All ages. By reservation only. A$10, C$5. 978-369-9763, concordmuseum.org.

Family Fun Night. Piccadilly Pub, 480 Shrewsbury St., Worcester. Every Tuesday, 5 – 7 p.m. Enjoy tableside magic with Steve Charette. Kids Eat Free with adult entrée Purchase. 508- 755-1808

16WEDNESDAY Wild Things. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 1 – 2:30 p.m. All ages.Who wanders through the snow on cold winter nights? Meet a captive Drumlin Farm wild animal, then go exploring for signs of native wild things. $12NM. Pre-register: 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org.

Drop in Storytime for Ages 3 and Older. Concord Free Public Library, 10 a.m. concordlibrary.org. FREE 1st Annual Teddy Bear Be Mine Party. Crafts,Crafters and Creations, 507 Electric Ave., Parkhill Plaza, Fitchburg. 1 – 3 p.m. Bring your Teddy or other critter. Decorate a cookie, make valentines - these are free but there are discounted crafts for purchase. 978-4007555, craftscrafterscreations.com.

Track Tales. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 10 – 11:30 a.m. Ages 5+. Search for animal stories in the fields and forests. Our experienced tracker will help you discover the world of native animals in winter. $15NM. Pre-registration: 781-259-2206, massaudbon.org/drumlin. Owls at Night. Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 5:30- 8 p.m. Ages 7 – 11. Hike through the woods in search of owls- great-horned, barred and screech. Afterwards warm up with hot cocoa. $30 NM. Preregistration required: 781-259-2206, massaudubon. org/drumlin. Animal Tracking and Signs. Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, 280 Eliot St. (Rt.16), Natick. 1 – 2:30 p.m. Wonder what animal made those tracks? Who is traveling on the trails or through your yard? Come find out how to solve these mysteries! Pre-registration required. A$12, C$8NM. 508-655-2296, massaudbon.org. FREE Lakeshore Learning Crafts, Newton and Saugus. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Held every Saturday for kids ages 3 and up. lakeshorelearning.com FREE Merrimack River Eagle Festival. Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport. Headquarters open 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Eagle hot spots 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Eagle tours every half hour, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Family activities 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Celebrate the return of the Bald Eagles. Tours require reservations: 978-462-9998 to reserve seats. For a complete schedule of events, visit: massaudubon.org/ eaglefestival.

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FREE X-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Open House. Finnish Center at Saima Park, 67 Scott Rd., Fitchburg. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (off Ashby State Road, Route 31). Open house every Sat. in Feb. Bring your skis or snowshoes and enjoy the wooded terrain. 978-602-2014 or email lloydhannula@aol.com. Visit saima-park.org.


Kiki and Kitombe need a name for their new baby girl. Help to name her Feb. 1 - 25 at the Franklin Park Zoo, and you could win a family membership and a behind-the-scenes tour. franklinparkzoo.org. Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. See antique Valentines and learn about their history; learn about the processing of chocolate -- from bean to beverage. A $20, C (3-17) $7, Under 3 Free. 800-733-1830, osv.org. Also Feb. 13. Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Expo.DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 10 – 13. See Feb. 10 listing for details.

Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. See Feb. 12 listing for details. Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Expo.DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 10 – 13. See Feb. 10 listing for details


13SUNDAY Chinese New Year Celebration. Boston Children’s Museum. 308 Congress St., Boston. 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Welcome the Year of the Rabbit! Celebrate the most important Chinese holiday of the year! A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Family Mardi Gras Celebration. Children’s Museum of NH, 6 Washington St., Dover NH. 12 – 5 p.m. Live Cajun music performances by the Fiddling Thomsons, Mardi Gras maskmaking, New Orleans treats to sample, and other activities. $A8, Sr.$7, C$8 603-742-2002, childrens-museum.org. Terrific Teeth. Providence Children’s Museum 100 South St., Providence, RI. Noon – 3 p.m. In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, kids meet dental hygienists and hop in a dental chair to brush up on tooth care. Ages 3 – 11. $8.50pp,Under 1 free. 401273-5437, childrenmuseum.org.

As Featured on “Chronicle” Up Sign ! Now


FREE Valentine’s Day Arts & Crafts at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St.,Concord. 2 to 4 p.m. Little ones can unleash their inner artist by joining in some fun arts & crafts in Barefoot’s beautiful, whimsical Studio! Parents can join in, share a book, a cup of cocoa, or just chat. 978-3691770, barefootbooks.com.

15TUESDAY FREE Infant Story Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 9:45 a.m. This half-hour story time will include finger plays, songs and puppets as well as some great Barefoot books! Designed to be a fun, gentle introduction to reading, this is also a valuable opportunity for caregivers to network. (Older siblings are invited to read, play or color in our back room during the story time.) Free. Ages 0-12 months with caretakers. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com.

Fetch! Copper Cleanup. The Discovery Museums, Acton. Drop in to the Science Discovery Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. Pennies become dull when their surface is exposed to oxygen. See if you can make a penny sparkle with ketchup, baking soda or cola. Explore whether acids or bases work better at restoring a penny’s shine. A/C$10.50pp. 978264-4200, discoverymuseums.org. Explore Collections. Boston Children’s Museum, Boston. See Feb. 3 for details. Mary Poppins the Musical. Boston Opera House. Feb. 17 – March 20th. Tickets starting at $28. broadwayacrossamerica.com/boston or 800-982-2787. Preschool Sing-Along - Ages 0-6. Cary Memorial Library, Lexington. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. A low-key program for children from birth to age 6 and their caregivers. Come sing old favorites; you might even learn a new song or two. Just drop in. carylibrary.org. FREE Ready for School Night. University Campus Child Care Center/Bright Horizons Family Solutions, 419 Belmont St., UMass Medical School/Shaw Building Worcester. 6 – 7:30 p.m. Parents of toddler and preschool age children are invited to learn about how the Bright Horizons program prepares children for school. 774-455-5437, brighthorizons.com. Breastfeeding Basics. Mothers and Company, Route 140, West Boylston. 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Knowing what to expect after birth includes both parents learning about breastfeeding. Dads/partners, grandparents or friends who attend with you are given special instructions on supporting the breastfeeding relationship. $45 per couple/family. mothersandcompany.com.

18FRIDAY FREE MOMS Club of Hubbardston Area Open Playgroup. Location TBA, 10 a.m. - Noon. Serves the towns of Barre, Hubbardston, Princeton and Templeton and meets every 3rd Friday of the month. Email Joanne at momsclubofhubbardston@yahoo.com for details. momsofhubb.freehostia.com.

Brookline/Larz Anderson Brookline/Cleveland Circle Cambridge Hyde Park/Dedham Medford Newton/Brighton Quincy Somerville South Boston Waltham West Roxbury Weymouth



Massachusetts Family Voice for Children’s Mental Health of Central Massachusetts. This workshop will help families who have children and youth with different diagnosis and challenges find effective ways to get their message across to service providers, policy makers and community members in order to bring about positive changes. Sharing experiences or “telling your story� with other families, service providers, policymakers and community members is one way we can accomplish this. 508-767-9725, ppal.net. Full Moon Owl Prowl for All Ages. Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, (Rt.16), Natick. 7 – 8:30 p.m. Ever wondered why we don’t we hear owls when they fly? Come with the whole family to learn about owls and listen for frequent evening visitors, the screech and great horned owl, as you prowl under the moonlight. Preregistration required. A$12, C$8NM. 508-655-2296.

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Sunfish. Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St., Stoneham. Feb. 10 – 27. See Feb. 10 listing for details.

Sew much fun! Learn to sew over February school vacation in North Grafton (ages 7+). readysetsew.org. Chiicken and Egg-cellent Snacks! Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln. 3:30 – 5 p.m. All ages. Why did the chicken cross her pen? To lay an egg, or take a bath, or to eat some great? Feed and care for the chickens. Bring along your favorite chicken joke!

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 18 – 20. Fri., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. This incredible family-friendly experience stars the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks. These twelve-feet-tall, tenthousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over - OR smash through. Monster Jam provides a massive night’s entertainment tailored perfectly for your family’s budget, and these colorful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old. A $20.75 and up, C $10.75 and up. Tickets: 800-745-3000 and ticketmaster.com. 508-755-6800, dcucenter.com. FREE Children’s Story Time about Machines. Annie’s Book Stop, 65 James St., Worcester. Ages 3 -8. Preregister and call for time: 508-796-5613.


Pre-register: $12NM. 781-259-2206, massaudubon.org/ drumlin. FREE “Telling Your Story� Workshop. Parent/ Professional Advocacy League (PAL). Milford Public Library, 80 Spruce St., Milford. 10:30 a.m. - Noon. (PPAL) is the

FREE For Moms of Multiples Developmental Red Flags & School Placement for Ages 5 & Under. First

Connections and the Moms of Multiples Group at the Acton Memorial Library, 486 Main St., Acton. 10-11:30 a.m. Parenting seminar by Alexis Kovacs, Psy.D. includes: early signs of developmental disorders, what constitutes the need for a full neuropsychological evaluation, school placement of multiples at differing developmental stages. 978-2870221, firstconnections.org. Fetch! Potion Commotion. The Discovery Museums, Acton. Drop in between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Science Discovery. Water and oil don’t mix. But watch what happens when you add the fizz factor! Double, double, toil and trouble. A/C$10.50. 978-264-4200, discoverymuseums.org. Critter Day: Rainforest Reptile Shows. Boston Children’s Museum. 308 Congress St., Boston. 11:15 a.m, 12:15 p.m, & 2:00 p.m. Are snakes slimy? Do turtles have ears? Come find out! A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Back to the Beach. Boston Children’s Museum. 308 Congress St., Boston. 10:00 a.m – 5:00 p.m. Come in out of the cold and explore sand and water. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Feb. 19 – 25. FREE Great Backyard Bird Count. Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge. Drop in between 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Recognize the Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 18-21) with a variety of handson activities that aid children with bird identification. Then, take these skills home and look for birds in your own backyard. Families that submit their own bird count results to the Great Backyard Bird Count will provide valuable information for scientists. 617-547-7105 x 850, mountauburn.org. FREE X-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Open House. Finnish Center at Saima Park, 67 Scott Rd., Fitchburg. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (off Ashby State Road, Route 31). Open house every Sat. in Feb. Bring your skis or snowshoes and enjoy the wooded terrain. 978-602-2014 or email lloydhannula@aol.com. Visit saima-park.org.


$AY AND 2ESIDENTIAL 0ROGRAMS 3UMMER *ULY !UGUST (Choose as many weekly sessions as you want)

for Ages 8 - 16 years old


They also enjoy activities like: Rollercoasters, Bubble Bubble, Rockets, Hot Air Ballons, Ultimate Frisbee, Geodome and Grossology - to name a few!





Physical Science • Natural Science Performing Arts • Sports Robotics • Fine Arts Adventure Challenge



Children choose any one of the following CORE programs:

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OH,THEPLACESYOU’LLGO FREE Winter Family Safari. Houghton’s Pond, 840 Hillside St., Milton. 1 p.m. Take a discovery hike around Houghton’s Pond and end with a warm winter surprise. Meet at the Houghton’s Pond main parking lot. 617-333-7404. Be An Engineer at Providence Children’s Museum. Providence, RI. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Kids investigate the world of engineering at five fun-filled activity stations. Program a human robot, build towers, experiment with electrical conductivity, make oobleck and more. Ages 5 – 11. $8.50pp admission fee. 401-273-5437, childrenmuseum.org. Presidents Day Weekend. Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. Feb. 19 – 21, 9:30 a .m. - 4:30 p.m. Embrace the joys of an old fashioned winter with ice skating, sledding on vintage 1830s sleds, and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Indoor hands-on crafts, activities and entertainment for children are also provided. A$20, C(3 – 17)$7, Under 3 free. Admission includes a free second daytime visit within 10 days with receipt validation. 800-733-1830, osv.org. Grease. Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2 Southbridge St., Worcester. 2 – 4 p.m. and 8 – 10 p.m. Cost: $35-$65. thehanovertheatre.org. Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 18 – 20. See Feb. 18 listing for details.

20SUNDAY The Cat’s Pajamas. Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. 10:30 a.m. The Cats put on more than a concert—they plunge the audience into a wild, wonderful world of stories, puppets and props, backed by a band making great music that just happens to be for kids. Recommended for ages 3+. A $9.75, C $7.75. 617-7342500, coolidge.org/kids. Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam. DCU Center, Worcester. Feb. 18 – 20. See Feb. 18 listing for details.

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School Vacation! Geodesic Domes. Discovery Museums. 177 Main St., Acton. Drop in between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Science Discovery. Discover how math, geometry, structure and engineering come together as you help construct a 6-foot dome! Learn about Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, and see pictures of geodesic structures from sports stadiums and houses, to buckyballs, carbon nanotubes, diatoms and viruses! Find out how to use everyday materials to create your own small dome at home. A/C $10.50. 978-264-4200, discoverymuseums.org. Quill Pen Writing. Old South Meeting House, a Museum and National Historic Landmark on Boston’s “Freedom Trail,� 310 Washington St., at the intersection of Milk St., Boston. 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Try your hand at writing with a feather! Learn to write as colonial kids did, with ink and a quill pen. Using an old style alphabet as your guide, compose a letter, poem or practice your own John Hancock. A$6, C(6- 18) $1, Under 6 free. 617-482-6439, osmh.org. FREE Pirate Adventure Story & Craft Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 10 a.m. Noon. Costumes welcome (eye patches optional)! 978-3691770, barefootbooks.com. SteveSongs Pajama Party Concerts. Temple Emunah Preschool, 9 Piper Rd., Lexington. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Come clad in your most stylin’ jammies and dancing slippers ready to move and groove to the family friendly music of acclaimed SteveSongs. Concerts feature Steve along with his rockin’ band and the Sensational Sillies singers. Yummy breakfast treats available throughout the concert. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Under 1 free. Tickets: stevesongs.com or at Michelson’s Shoes in Lexington. Concerts sell out. For more information, call Laura at 978-223-5734 or Audrey at 617-291-6689. FREE February School Vacation Events. The Mall at Whitney Field, Leominster. Feb. 21 – 25. 11 a.m. - 1

p.m. daily. Magic and more all week long in the Food Court. 978-537-7500, themallatwhitneyfield. February Vacation Learn to Sew Classes. Ready Set Sew, 40 North Main St., North Grafton. 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Feb. 21 – 25. Sewing 101 is a 3-hour introductory sewing class - offered each day for children ages 7+, teens and adults. Additional classes available each day - check the Website for more information. $40. 508-839-7800, readysetsew.org. Cardboard Construction Exhibit. Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield. Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun. 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Ends March 27. The artist, Henry Klimowicz, transforms common cardboard into intricately realized, large-scale pieces that must be seen to be believed. This exhibition includes two cite-specific installations, including a massive piece suspended from the ceiling of the stately Ellen Crane Memorial Room, as well as a generous sampling of recent work prepared for this major show. A$12, C (3- 18) $6, Under 3 free. 413-443-7171, berkshiremuseum.org. Keith Munslow Singer and Storyteller. Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. 11:30 a.m., 1 & 2 p.m. Keith’s lively performance is packed with tinkling piano tunes, tongue-twisting poems and audience participation. Ages 3 – 11. Program free with $8.50 admission; under 12 months free. 401-273-5437, childrenmuseum.org.

22TUESDAY Colonial Samplers. Old South Meeting House, a Museum and National Historic Landmark on Boston’s Freedom Trail, 310 Washington St., at the intersection of Milk Street, Boston. Drop in from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children in centuries past practiced embroidery stitches on samplers, creating designs, alphabets and verses. Colonial kids learned their ABCs at home on linen samplers instead of school room blackboards. Learn how to embroider on linen to duplicate the antique look ‌and take home a “sampleâ€? of your work! A$6, C (6 – 18) $1, Under 6 free. 617-482-6439, osmh.org.


Let Worms Eat your Garbage. Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Dr., Boylston. 11 a.m. - 12 p.m Don’t throw away your kitchen scraps, mushy fruit and stale bread! Take advantage of nature’s recyclers to turn your waste into food for your houseplants or garden. You don’t need a backyard compost pile - just a bit space under the sink or in the basement - to take advantage of vermicomposting. Observe worms in action and take home your very own mini “worm farm.� $10NM. Register: registrar@ towerhillbg.org or 508-869-6111 x124. towerhillbg.org. FREE Infant Story Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 9:45 a.m. This half-hour story time will include finger plays, songs and puppets as well as some great Barefoot books! Designed to be a fun, gentle introduction to reading, this is also a valuable opportunity for caregivers to network. (Older siblings are invited to read, play or color in our back room during the story time.) Free. Ages 0-12 months with caretakers. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. The Art of Icon Painting for Ages 12 +. Museum of Russian Icons, 203 Union St., Clinton. Feb. 22 – 25, 11 a.m. to closing (various Tues., - Fri.). The 4-day hands-on studio workshop for students interested in learning how to create traditional Russian icons will feature individual attention and step-by-step instruction from renowned Russian artist Marina Forbes. .Call for fees: 978-598-5000 x17, museumofrussianicons.org. FREE Rhythm Kids Drumming Adventure Class. Barefoot Books, 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 2 to 2:45 p.m. Enjoy the high energy, musically-engaging stylings of popular Rhythm Kids’ instructors Tom Foote and Greg Nikitas. Children ages 3-8 are invited on a drumming adventure where they will learn traditional African rhythms and feel the power of making music together with a group. Pre-register: 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. FREE Tales from African Traditions. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Dorchester. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. International storyteller Valerie Tutson shares tales adapted from African myths

Occupational and Speech Therapy

can be found in Worcester at

SEVEN HILLS CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOL Seven Hills Charter Public School is a highly successful, free independent public school that offers challenging academic programs for children in grades K through 8.

OTHER IMPORTANT FEATURES ARE: s #OMMITMENT TO &AMILY Involvement s #ERTIFIED 4EACHERS s !N ENRICHED CURRiculum including character education, and integrated arts and technology s Emphasis on math and reading

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2011-2012 SCHOOL YEAR! Applications are available on line @ www.sevenhillscharter.org Application Deadline: February 18, 2011 Lottery: March 3, 2011

Seven Hills Charter Public School 51 Gage Street, Worcester, MA 01605

Employment opportunities for certified teachers. The Seven Hills Charter School is a tuition - free public school serving Worcester's children grades K-8. With no admission test, the school serves a student body that is representative of Worcester's diversity. Seven Hills Charter Public School does not discriminate based on gender, race, religion, cultural heritage, linguistic background, political beliefs, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin. In the event that there are more applicants than seats, a lottery will be used to select students.

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We are a Sensory Based Clinic that offers a full range of Occupational and Speech Therapy programs that address developmental problems in children, including those with Sensory Processing Dysfunction, ADHD, Nonverbal Learning Disability, Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. We offer a Client Centered Approach that works directly with families.

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ABCs of Tracking Animals - All Ages Program! Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston. 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Hike the gardens and trails to see who lives at Tower Hill in the winter. Dress in warm layers and boots. 508-869-6111 x 124, towerhillbg.org.

OH,THEPLACESYOU’LLGO and songs, and African-American history. 617-514-1644, jfklibrary.org. To make a reservation, call 617-514-1644 or register online at jfklibrary.org. Large groups should register at least a week in advance. Late seating is permitted until 10:40 a.m.

Tea for Two: An Adult/Child Tea. Concord Museum, Concord. See Feb. 25th for listing details.

Winter Detectives. Garden in the Woods, Framingham. 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Use all your senses to investigate life above, in, and under the snow. Inside the classroom after warm snacks, instructor Bonnie Drexler conducts experiments with you with snow and ice to learn more clues about winter survival. For Children in Grades K-2. $14NM. Registrar: 508-877-7630, x 3303, newfs.org.

Wingmasters. Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Families learn about majestic birds of prey with licensed raptor rehabilitator Julie Collier. Meet a glorious golden eagle, a tiny owl, a red-tailed hawk, a falcon and other magnificent raptors. Ages 3 – 11. $8.50 admission, Under 12 months free. 401-273-5437, childrenmuseum.org. Toymakers Workshop - Vacation Week Activities. EcoTarium, Worcester. Feb. 22 – 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From old favorites like erector sets to today’s electronic toys, part of the fun of play is to make it ourselves. Learn how to build a circuit and a simple LED light, use levers and cams, and discover how to create toys from paper, wood and even dried peas! Try your hand at making a toy or two, visit the “slime station” to make your own slimy silly putty to take home and more. Come on-- let’s play! A $12, C $8, under 2 free. 508-929-2700, ecotarium.org.

23WEDNESDAY Whirligigs. Old South Meeting House, a Museum and National Historic Landmark on Boston’s Freedom Trail, 310 Washington St., at the intersection of Milk St., Boston. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Colonial children didn’t buy their toys – they made their own! Come learn how to make this most popular, and easy-to-make whirligig. A$6, C (6-18)$1, Under 6 free. 617-482-6439, osmh.org. Handel and Hayden Society. Boston Children’s Museum. 308 Congress St., Boston. 1 – 2 p.m. Live music by a vocal quartet. A/C $12 NM. 617-426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. FREE Animal Kingdom Time at Barefoot Books. 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 10 a.m. - Noon. Dust off your child’s favorite animal costume for animal stories, songs and great arts & crafts projects. Recommended for ages 2-5 years. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. Block Builders. Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Kids experiment with building challenges and engineer giant block towers! Ages 3 – 11. $8.50pp. 401-273-5437, childrenmuseum.org.

24THURSDAY Puppetry Day. Children’s Museum of NH, Dover, NH. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Visitors of all ages are invited to experience the art and science of puppetry with the museum’s Director of Visitor Services, Doug Tilton, who was a professional puppeteer for many years. Families can view a fascinating collection of puppets on display, including an Indonesian Shadow Puppet. In the Project Area, children can create their own take-home shadow puppet and test it out in the museum’s puppet theatre, experimenting with light and shadows. A/C $8pp. 603-742-2002, childrens-museum.org. 22 FEBRUARY2011

Family Tap. Natick Community Organic Farm, 117 Eliot St., Natick. 10 - 11 a.m. Let’s tap a tree with the whole family. Learn how to identify a sugar maple, and how the weather plays its part in maple sugaring. Then tap the tree, hang the bucket and if the weather is right watch the sap drip. $11pp. 508-655-7666, natickfarm.org. coutesy of ncof

Nature Programs (K-5). Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, 280 Eliot St. (Rt.16), Natick. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Four days of fun and exploration to search tracks and signs of Broadmoor’s many winter creatures. Learn how animals survive the winter, play games in the snow, drink hot chocolate, and much more! Sign up for single sessions or all four! Pre-registration required. $70NM single day. 508655-2296, massaudubon.org.

FREE X-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Open House. Finnish Center at Saima Park, Fitchburg. See Feb. _ for details.

February 26th is Family Tap Time in Natick! Tap a tree for yourself and hopefully, watch the sap drip. natickfarm.org. A Yo-Yo show performance. Temple Beth Sholom, 50 Pamela Rd., Framingham. 10:30-11:30 a.m.A hilarious performance from the yo-yo people. Great for toddlers thru school age kids! A$5,C $6 advance/ $8 at the door. 508877-2540 x 204, yoyoshow.com. FREE Family Crafts - everyone welcome. Cary Memorial Library, Lexington. 2:30 – 4 p.m. Children of all ages and abilities and their caregivers are invited to get crafty. Just drop in! carylibrary.org. The Hoopoe Show. Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. 11:30 a.m. and 1 & 2 p.m. Hilarious mime Chris Yerlig gets the audience into the act and dazzles them with his silent pantomime comedy, magic tricks and balloon wizardry in this funny, imaginative show. Ages 3 – 11. $8.50pp. 401- 273-5437 x 221,childrenmuseum.org. FREE The Milc Room. The First Baptist Church, 11 Park Ave., Worcester. 3 – 5 p.m. The milc room is a free weekly community based breastfeeding support drop-in center for all pregnant and breastfeeding moms in the Greater Worcester area. It is facilitated by experienced board certified lactation consultants and co-run by other experienced breastfeeding helpers and moms. Come meet and share with other breastfeeding moms over a cup of tea. E-mail rjrcnm@gmail.com. FREE Parent Support Group. Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL), 51 Union St., 3rd Floor/Suite 308, Worcester. 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This is a free and confidential parent support group, where you can meet other parents and caregivers that understand the struggles and victories of raising challenging kids who may have emotional, behavioral or mental health needs. 508-767-9725, ppal.net.

25FRIDAY Bedtime Stories Pajama Party. Hotel Commonwealth, Boston. 7 – 8:30 p.m. Experience a night of storytelling where kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas while listening to professional performers and storytellers from ReadBoston. Afterwards, kids enjoy a make-your-own hot chocolate bar featuring various types of hot cocoa and toppings, while parents shop a library of ReadBoston children’s books from local authors. $10 suggested donation per family. 617-532-5017, hotelcommonwealth.com. FREE Fairy Adventures. Barefoot Books, 89 Thoreau St., Concord. 10 a.m. - Noon. Spend a winter morning listening to delightful tales of fairy adventures and then let your inner artist go wild with some fun arts & crafts. Costumes encouraged, fairy dust optional. 978-369-1770, barefootbooks.com. Toddler Singalong with Ed Morgan. Concord Free P ublic Library, Concord. 3 p.m. concordlibrary.org

Tea for Two: An Adult/Child Tea. Concord Museum, Concord. Seatings at 2 & 3 p.m. Delight your child or grandchild with an afternoon just for the two of you in elegant Brooke Hall at the Concord Museum! Make the day a special outing by sipping cocoa and tea while enjoying delights from Concord Teacakes - all served on tea accessories from Tea Forte of Concord. Meet invited guest Louisa May Alcott, portrayed by Jan Turnquist, and then visit the colorful quilt exhibition, “A little scrap for recollection’s sake,” which includes a dozen quilts from the Concord Museum’s collection and two from Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. Recommended for ages 7 and up. By advance reservation only; reserve early as space is limited. A$15, C$10. 978-369-9763, concordmuseum.org. Also Feb. 26. Animal Tracking, Garden in the Woods, Framingham. 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. For children in grades 2-5. Instructor Bonnie Drexler will help you learn to identify clues that animals leave behind as they hunt for food or escape their predators. Make a track finder to use and take home. Enjoy cocoa and treats after our exploration. $14NM. Pre-registration is necessary. Contact the registrar at 508-877-7630, x 3303. newfs.org. FREE Parent Support Group. Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL). Millbury Public Library, 128 Elm St., Millbury. 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. This is a free and confidential Parent Support Group, where you can meet other parents and caregivers that understand the struggles and victories of raising challenging kids who may have emotional, behavioral or mental health needs. 508-7679725, ppal.net. Young Engineers. Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI. 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Meet civil engineers and try challenges to learn how they plan roads, buildings and bridges. Ages 5 – 11. $8.50pp. 401-273-5437, childrenmuseum.org. Sunfish. Stoneham Theatre, 395 Main St., Stoneham. Feb. 10 – 27. See Feb. 10 listing for details.

26SATURDAY Celebrate Engineering. Boston Children’s Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston. 11 a.m – 4 p.m. Build, design, construct and problem-solve! With special thanks to the MIT Society of Women Engineers. A/C $12, A/C M free. 617426-6500, bostonchildrensmuseum.org. Blue Discoveries Family Day: Lobsters! New England Aquarium Central Wharf, Boston. Drop in between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. Learn more about the blue planet through art, science and storytelling. February’s Blue Discoveries Day is all about Lobsters! Admission fees apply. 617-973-5207, neaq.org.

Saturday Snowshoes. Brooks Woodland Preserve, Petersham. Saturdays, 10 a.m. - Noon. Strap on snowshoes to explore special places in Central and Western Massachusetts. Please call 413-532-1631 x13 the day before for more information and to confirm. thetrustees.org.

27SUNDAY Smart Gals: Mrs.Junkbox. The Discovery Museums. Acton. Drop-in from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Science Discovery. Join Emily Piper, aka Mrs. Junkbox, of Rumphius Creativity Unhinged and learn about the energy we save by recycling. Come and create your very own Junkbox rod puppet by repurposing household junk into an imaginative creature. Admission fees apply. 978-264-4200, discoverymuseums.org. Magic by Scott Jameson. Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline. 10:30 a.m. Join this magician and r an extraordinary performance that will have you laughing out loud and perched on the very edge of your seat. Umbrellas will be plucked from thin air, a drawing will come to life, basketballs will be spun and juggled, and a member of the audience will unlock telekinetic abilities. Recommended for ages 3+. A $9.75, C $7.75. 617-734-2500, coolidge.org/kids. For the Birds. Garden in the Woods, Framingham. 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Learn how some birds survive the cold and ways we help them. How do bird beaks, feet and feathers work to keep these little bundles of energy alive? How do they find food, water and shelter when the temperatures fall so low? Instructor Tracy Phipps shows how to build several kinds of bird feeders and make a mini field guide to help identify the birds that might pay you a call. $11NM. Pre-registration is necessary. Contact the registrar at 508877-7630, x 3303. newfs.org. Cinderella by Tanglewood Marionettes. Aidekman Arts Center, 40 Talbot Ave., Medford. 1 and 3 p.m. Set in the 18th century and featuring a dozen lavishly costumed 30” marionettes, this production of ‘Cinderella’ is a Tanglewood Marionettes showpiece. For all ages! A/C $6 in advance, A/C $8 at door. 617-627-3434, ase.tufts.edu/epcs

28MONDAY MC Escher: Seeing the Unseen. Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield. Ends May 22. Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sun., 12 to 5 p.m. This world-premiere exhibition show the ways Escher was inspired by the natural world to create his unforgettable cityscapes and interlocking lizards, fish and birds. It includes interactive stations encouraging visitors of all ages to explore Escher’s vision in a personal way, and also steps back to look at fun ephemera reflecting Escher’s impact on popular culture. A$13, C$6. 413-443-7171, berkshiremuseum.org. Take A Walk Winter Outdoor Activity. Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham. Through March 31st. Mon. - Fri., 10 a.m - 3 p.m.; Sat., 12 to 3 p.m. With activity backpacks (appropriate for ages 3-9) children and accompanying adults explore the 45-acre estate and farm. $5 rental per backpack. Snowshoes also available in adult and child sizes, rental $5. Complimentary hot cocoa served. $5 per snowshoes rental or backpack. 781-894-2798, goreplace.org.


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a new place for mom and dad to unwind while kids play BY

amanda roberge, michelle vergari photography

Like most parents, Sean and Olga Doucette place high value on the quiet moments, those rare occasions where they can enjoy uninterrupted conversation or divine silence while drinking a great cup of coffee. Thanks to their latest labor of love, known in North Central Massachusetts as The Great Escape Play Café, those moments just

got a whole lot easier to come by. The newly opened Leominster landmark is a hybrid hangout – an exotic cross between a high-end café and a supremely awesome indoor playground. According to Olga, they have been busy since the very minute they opened, owing to the wordof-mouth nature indigenous to modern moms. “We tried to have a soft-opening in early


November,” she says, adding that they sent out an informal email to their limited listing on a Sunday night while there was still work to be done. She and Sean figured they would have a few kids running around while they tied up loose ends. Instead, they experienced the first of many busy, hectic days and they haven’t slowed down since. As it turns out, when moms get a hold of a good thing they can’t stop talking about it with their friends. The café, which features high-quality coffee, espresso, lattes and loose-leaf tea in addition to sandwiches, baked goods and other family-friendly fare, is a safe haven for parents who enjoy masquerading as real grownups while their children play, in eyeshot through a large window display. Beyond the glass is an abundance of kid-friendly climbing structures, imaginative play stations and developmentally-appropriate learning toys for kids age 10 and younger. But most importantly, the play area is continually staffed by a monitor, whose job entails building social bridges while maintaining cleanliness and order. As longtime self-described “coffee addicts,” Olga and Sean were dismayed, once becoming parents, to lose the ability to have the time and space to hang out with friends, and each other. Because of course, by that time, they had a new focus: making sure their daughter Sofia, now 4 years old, was happy and satisfied as well. “We wanted to do things we’d always done and we were always wishing there was a place where we could have fun and where Sofia would have fun,” Olga says from a cozy corner of the thriving café, “and there just didn’t seem to be such a place.” The Great Escape is a mysteriously rare breed. With no other known cafes for comparison, Sean and Olga had to use their imaginations and common sense to design the layout, which is strikingly simple and modern and yet very inviting and comfortable. And yet even though there is no place quite like it, the Doucettes could easily cover

the rent if they had a dollar for every time they heard someone say “This was my idea!” But actually, says Olga, the concept of a divided space for parents and children is quite popular in some parts of Europe. “The general idea is to cater to families in a way that you don’t disturb the parents’ downtime.” And while customers hail from of all walks of life, Olga is most appreciative of one particular demographic – the one nearest to her heart. It’s the mother who can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to get everything done. Whether they are quietly toiling on their laptops, addressing birthday party invitations or having a heartfelt chat with an old friend, daytime at The Great Escape is a popular time for moms to have a few uninterrupted hours to themselves. “It’s difficult to explain to people – you have to experience it to understand,” Olga says. “It’s not just a coffee house and it’s not just a playground.” Even though there seem to be regulars who visit the café two or three times a week (largely because of a popular “membership” option that is available), the experience is one worth traveling for. According to Olga, patrons visit from all over Worcester County and even parts of surrounding counties to partake in the neighborhood atmosphere. “We make an effort to get to know everyone by name,” Olga says. “We want people to feel like stopping in whenever they are in the area.” She adds, “We want them to feel like they can come here…to escape.” Amanda Roberge is a freelance writer living in Leominster with her family. For more information on upcoming events at the café, like coffee-tastings, book club meetings and storytimes, visit tgeplaycafe.com. The café is located at 21 Sack Boulevard in Leominster, conveniently off of Route 2. It is also adjacent to the Whitney Field Mall, Toys R Us, Old Navy and a host of other stores (which is great for running errands).

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Christine Hurley OF PLYMOUTH Age: 46 Occupation: Mom, Stand-up Comedian, Speaker Nick at Nite’s “Funniest Mom in America” Runner Up Married to: Jimmy Hurley, 23 years Mom of Five: Colleen,19; Elizabeth (Libby), 14; Ryan, 12; Joseph, 11; Brendan, 9 BY

carrie wattu, michelle carr photography

When “stuff” happens in the Hurley household, Christine Hurley goes to “work,” scribbling notes on scraps of paper. The things her five kids and husband say (and do) on a daily basis offer plenty of comedic material for Christine’s stand-up act. “This is a gift!” she thinks, “Keep talking.” And Christine will tell you anything, absolutely anything, about them. Including the time, after giving birth to her fourth child, Christine’s mother called and made a vasectomy appointment for Christine’s husband. She even drove him to the doctor’s herself! Imagine your husband getting a vasectomy with his mother-in-law! “Only it didn’t work,” Christine sniggers. “Brendan is my surprise baby, post-vasectomy. I think it was more of a shock for my mother, ‘miss control freak,’ that it didn’t work.” Nothing is off limits in her act, which is based mostly on her husband of 23 years, the man she’s been with since age 16, Jimmy Hurley. It’s pretty much the “you-wouldn’tbelieve-what-Jimmy-Hurley-did” show. However, before you start wondering what kind of wife would get on stage and “trash” her husband every Friday and Saturday night throughout New England, Christine tells us that when Jimmy pulls in the driveway after his shift as a captain on the Randolph Fire Station, she actually gets butterflies (She really said that). “I hear his voice, and it’s like high school,” she says but quickly clarifies, “Oh, I don’t want him to touch me or 26 FEBRUARY2011

anything. I am just crazy about him. He’s my best friend.” Furthermore, this whole comedian thing was Jimmy’s idea. Six years ago, Jimmy saw that Nick at Nite was looking for the “Funniest Mom in America.” Christine, a busy mom and waitress at the time, was not a comedian and did not want to do it. “This is our thing,” said Jimmy, and off they drove, in a blizzard mind you, to audition at the Laugh Factory in New York City. To prepare, Christine jotted stuff down about Jimmy and the kids on a piece of paper on the way to New York. “I had no idea. None. Zero,” she says. Her very first time performing in front of a live audience, Christine won runner up and was featured with five other women on Nick at Nite. Since then, Christine is booked at comedy clubs every weekend, with Jimmy driving her to and from each show. “He’s very unselfish, and everything, everything, everything is about me and the kids. Not in a nauseating way. He’s just a kind person, very self-deprecating. He laughs at everything I’ve done.” And the kids? “The kids have lived with this for years,” says Christine, “It’s not like this happened overnight. They know who I am and who we are. They know they are in the act.” The Hurley children are accustomed to a lot of laughing in their house but Christine and Jimmy are also strict parents. “We are not their buddies,” stresses Christine. The Hurleys live in a cute neighborhood in Plymouth (“but none of that Wysteria

Lane crap,” says Christine), a house with a décor of Post-it notes and index cards as Christine uses every opportunity and space to jot down her “material.” Their house is like the TV show The Middle. “I will sit here and look at Jimmy and know what Patricia Heaton is going to say. That’s like our house,” says Christine. Jimmy wishes he grew up in a house just like this. Is everyone always so happy at the Hurleys? Pretty much. Except when Jimmy is “bitchy or PMS-ing” (“and there are days when I want to stab him or run him over,” says Christine.) During these times, Christine and Jimmy think, “We know there are serious things in this world. We know we are broke and trying to juggle, so we focus on our health and each other.” And the couple does not take anything for granted. “We like each other. The bottom line is all we do is laugh.” To read Christine Hurley’s complete bio and to find out where you can catch one of

her shows (update your Web site Christine, please!) visit funnierthanfiction.com.

Take 15 with Christine 1. Three words to describe my family: Love, love, love. 2. Best part of my day: When the last of the big yellow buses pulls away… 3. We love going to: Anywhere they have Keno. The kids love those little pencils. 4. What makes me a better mom: Boxed wine. Amen. 5. Current family obsessions: “Hoarders” on A & E 6. Best thing about our town: I know all the cops. 7. What I hope my children will remember about me when they get

older: I never left the house without my lipstick on. 8. Winter in New England is: Well, no one here really ventures outside too much‌so just picture 7 people trying to get along in 1400, very tiny, very space-challenged, square feet of heaven, day after day, after day‌.. 9. I am the type of mom that: is fun, fun, fun but when that’s enough, they know that’s enough. My kids have recently told me that they are more afraid of me as a disciplinarian than Daddy. Ahh yes..small victories! 10. A typical day: Up early, lots of coffee, check everyone’s homework, complete 9-year-old’s homework for him (daily) - Can you see my white flag? - a little cleaning, a little cooking (very little), 2 to 3 straight hours of taxiing, a lovely dinner, (everyone gets to choose their favorite McNugget sauce. I mean, can we really spoil them too much?), and finally, off to bed (or should I say, couch. Jimmy Hurley is a chronic snorer. Sexy!). 11. What’s the laundry like at the Hurley house? Uggghh! 12. I always tell my children: “Honey, move out of the way. I can’t see Oprah.â€? 13. How do you fit romance in such a busy life? No, thank you.

14. What do you hope to do this Valentine’s Day with your hubby? Dinner, martinis, a romantic movie‌..Then when I get home, I’ll be sure to ask him how his night was.


! A perfect piece of musical theater.



15. Do you do anything special with your children on Valentine’s Day? Hmmmm‌.well, there was last year’s heart-shaped meatloaf (not on purpose mind you).

Moms Rock is an award-winning monthly feature that celebrates the good that all moms do. Do you know a mom who just rocks? E-mail editor@baystateparent.com.

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heart BY

carrie wattu, steven king photography


A truly thoughtful gift will tell a story, and at the heart of the following five gifts are sweet stories. While these gifts are not expensive to give, they rate high in sentimental value, humor, and of course, heart.

1. 1. From My Shelf to Yours

Peruse your bookshelf and choose a book that reminds you of the recipient. Write a special message about why one of your books, a piece of you, is being passed along to her and what you hope the book will bring to her life. And if you don’t want to write on the book itself, slip in a piece of paper or a card. This would be nice for a baby shower or graduation.


2. Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

Buttons are really cool. Why not use the buttons from your mother, grandmother or a favorite aunt to make something unique for someone special. If you’re not crafty, ask someone crafty to help. This stretchy button bracelet was made by sewing black and white vintage buttons onto a simple black elastic. It’s not only a conversation piece but a piece of your family history.


3. Framed

You can frame pretty much anything and get a spectacular gift. Imagine how touched someone would be to receive a game that you always played together framed in such a thoughtful way. Or take a piece of clothing from your childhood out of storage, such as this sweater made by a great aunt, and display for all to enjoy. Frame tickets from a memorable outing, baby’s first outfit, a swatch from a school uniform, an engraved fork from that engagement dinner... magic!

4. See You Next Year

Found the perfect card? It can come back every Valentine’s Day, birthday or anniversary in a unique way. Simply inscribe a new message and date and keep on giving it (to the same person, of course). Why not? Yes, it’s a

little funny, but it’s also sweet as you will have a keepsake of special occasions all on one card. This would be a nice tradition to start on a child’s first birthday (as long as you don’t forget where you put that card!). BAYSTATEPARENT 29


Party Animals


carrie wattu steven king photography

Does your child change personality on his or her birthday? Is your normally-social boy suddenly quiet as a mouse (He won’t say “squeak” to his friends and hides from the action) or hyper as a monkey (This kid is bouncing off the walls). The last thing a parent wants to do on her child’s special day is threaten her child to have fun or dole out a punishment but with “Little Miss Bossy” or “Mr. Clingy” trying to run the show, you just may have to. “Children may behave unusually on their birthdays because this is an intense day with a lot of attention, anticipation and emotion,” says Dr. Jamie Rishikof, who practices mother-and-family psychology in Wellesley, “Some children get anxious in reaction to all of this. Others will have lower frustration tolerance. And others will become uncharacteristically rude and even mean.” And parents, he reminds us, are also observing children more intensely on their birthday than other times of year


and are more likely to notice behaviors and exaggerate their implications. “My son hated his birthday,” says Denise Hampson of Western Mass about her now 25-year-old son. “The guests would sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and he would lash out. We had to put him in his room one time, and he called out of his window for his friends to go home.” It all started on her son’s first birthday when he put his head on his arm and cried during the birthday song. “It went downhill every year after,” Denise says, recalling the worst party ever: his 7th birthday. “After every present he opened, he said ‘I don’t like this.’”

And there was more trouble in the swimming pool with his friends as the birthday boy misbehaved and disobeyed his parents. His father jumped into the water in his 3-piece suit and dragged him out. “That was it. We realized parties were not for him,” says Denise. From then on, her son could invite one friend to a small family party. “That worked much better,” she recalls. But three years later, Denise thought maybe she’d try again. “On his 10th birthday, as the guests were about to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, he ran outside and hid on the side of the house.”

“I was embarrassed at all of my birthday parties,” says the birthday boy now, “and could not handle having too many friends in one spot. On my 10th birthday, my friends blew out my candles before I could and I had had enough.” As it’s not uncommon for your little party animal to turn into someone you don’t recognize, here are some tips to understand and hopefully tame even the bossiest lion or most clingy koala. Why do children cry at Happy Birthday? “Young children do not know this moment is coming, and do not realize that it is supposed to be fun,” says Dr. Jamie,

some idea of what to expect. They need time to acclimate to the idea so that by the time the party comes they are ready for it. However, going over and over in detail will likely not help. A brief conversation is best,” says Dr. Jamie. Rather than answer questions or try to reassure, Dr. Jamies says to simply acknowledge that they are nervous, that it is natural and understandable and OK to feel that way, and let them know you will sit with them quietly until the feeling passes. However this offers only short-term relief, says Dr. Jamie. “What children need is to be able to feel the anxiety until it passes. They need to learn that the anxiety does not mean that the situation is actually bad, that anxiety is not insurmountable, and does not have to be avoided. Instead they learn that if you don’t try to avoid it or fight it, anxiety will eventually fade. “Similarly, if they are anxious the day of the party, you can sit quietly and wait for the feeling to pass (rather than trying to reassure them or push through the feeling).”

“All of the sudden there is a hush, the lights go out, everyone is looking at them, there are flames... it is an alien moment for a child. “Some older children may not like being the center of attention. They may feel the weight of attention and expectation and react poorly. They may feel that they may say or do the wrong thing (as irrational as that might seem).” How can parents prepare their child for being the center of attention at the birthday party? “I would recommend talking about it ahead of time briefly, and giving them

How should parents handle the situation if the birthday girl/boy needs to be disciplined? “The best course of action is prevention,” says Dr. Jamie, “By taking breaks before their reaction becomes a problem, you may avoid having to discipline reactively.” If it is “too late” and the child’s behavior crosses the line, Dr. Jamie suggests the following: • Take the child aside and explain that the behavior is unacceptable and there will be consequences later. (This gives you time to decide on appropriate consequences as opposed to devising them on the spot while you may be upset) • The child needs a few minutes to ‘cool down.’ • When you both agree that he/she is ready to return to the party, and that the behavior will not be tolerated the child can return, with the understanding that if the behavior occurs again you will remove him from the party and he will not be able to return (and the consequences will of course increase.) Families may also want to work on a plan where a code word is devised between parent and child to alert one another when anxiety is mounting during the party. Dr. Jamie recommends offering the

Take your v Sweetheart out for Valentine’s Day!


child a reward for using /responding to the code word to reinforce and increase the likelihood that they take the break and avoid escalating. Natasha Edelhaus, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Stoughton, also has tips for parents to lower the risk of their child having a meltdown at his birthday party, especially children with sensory needs. Limit the Sensory Input: For the children who tend to become overstimulated in noisy situations, you may want to limit the sensory input at the party. In other words, consider keeping the party simple and short. You may want to consider a crafts party as opposed to a lazer zone party. Limit party time to no more than two hours. One and a half hours may even be ideal if your child tends to become overstimulated. Limit the number of kids whom your child invites as well. Try to average no more than six to eight children. Plan with Children: Because children with sensory needs often feel out of control inside their bodies, it is important to give them as much control and predictability over situations as we feasibly can. When planning a party, you can involve them in the process by deciding what game(s) the children will play together. Plan activities which involve the children (but again, they can be calm activities). Rehearse and Role-Play: Anxious children may find that once their guests arrive, they forget how to greet them. With enough practice, the greeting process may become easier. Thus, it is important to role-play appropriate greetings (including facial expressions and body language) with your child. Do this in a fun, kind way and not a critical way. Children want to do the right thing, but sometimes certain children need a little extra reminder. You can even have a secret reminder code for the day of the party. Just as role-playing greetings is important, it is also important to talk about and possibly role-play the activities (maybe even do the activity together). For instance, if you are making signs for your craft project, have your child prepare one in advance, so that he or she knows exactly what they will be doing once their friends arrive. It is ok for them to work

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on something different on the actual party day, but at least they will have the comfort of knowing what to expect. Put Toys Away: If the birthday party will take place at home, make sure that your child puts any toys away that he or she does not want the other kids to touch. Sometimes, meltdowns occur when guests touch certain unexpected items. However, let your child know that the toys that are not put away will be available for the guests to play with. If the party will take place outside of the home, then this will certainly not be an issue. Plan for Presents: Children who tend to become easily overstimulated may not benefit from opening all of the presents in front of their friends. This may be an unnecessary source of anxiety. In fact, these children should probably open gifts on a later day and be allowed to play with one thing at a time. For these types of children, this is not a punishment, but rather it provides them with a sense of containment which they so desperately need. Adults in Charge: “If you know that your child tends to become overstimulated, make sure that you have enough adults helping you out,” says Natasha, “Someone may need to stand by your child and help her through every step of this process. “It is important to try to do everything we can to help the child have a successful birthday party. However, if things do not go as planned (and incidents occur), please do not despair,” she says, “Children are very resilient and forget easily. Let it go and know that you did the best you could. Every party is a learning experience as we can never quite know what to expect.” Lastly, if your child is acting unexpectedly bossy, entitled or selfish on her birthday, reconsider why you are having a party in the first place. “Being bossy, entitled and selfish are symptoms of anxiety and children trying to control themselves and others, “ says Elizabeth Wagele, an author specializing in personality analysis, “Sometimes it seems as though parents are thinking about how they create excitement for themselves on their child’s birthday, and that’s when the real selfishness comes in...” Carrie Wattu is editor of baystateparent.

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hy en king photogrp carrie wattu, stev

While Valentine’s Day is typically the time when couples think about doing something special alone, long-time happy couples, the Conners, McNamaras and Smiths, won’t be among them. Sure, they may send a card to each other or partake in some other sweet gesture, but the three pairs tell baystateparent the key to sticking together is doing things...alone...all year round. Yes, even when the kids are little, even when funds are low, even when your weekends consist of taxiing children to numerous sporting events, even if family is not nearby to help...

Linda and Fred Conners ages 67 and 70, Holden Together 48 ½ years 32 FEBRUARY2011

Fred and Linda Conners

Celebrating 47 years of marriage Children: Sheri, age 43, and Scott, age 40 Grandchildren: Nicolas, 3, and Samantha, 1 Blind dates and blizzards sound like omens of disaster, but on one New Year’s Eve over 48 years ago, they bestowed a very happy life onto Linda and Fred Conners. When Fred picked up 18-year-old Linda for a blind date at her Rochester, New York home to spend the weekend with their mutual friends in Buffalo, Linda recalls, “It strikes me strange now that my parents let me go forward in a blizzard with a stranger for a weekend, but my dad later said he knew when he saw Fred that he was the one for me. “Yet all he did was walk in and say hello!” laughs Linda. After a year and a half of dating, the couple married and moved away from family (as Fred was in the service) to Petersburg, Virginia. “It was one of the best things when I moved away at just barely 20,” says Linda, “We had to make it on our own. Having no money and being away from home really strengthens you.” The couple received no financial help from their parents, but say, “We appreciated everything this way and were probably the happiest when we were poor.” One of their fond memories involves a sixpack of beer shared with their new friends

in Virginia. “We all chipped in for it,” says Linda, “and we were so appreciative.” The couple lived for six months without a phone and only had one car for many years. As they welcomed two children into their lives, Fred worked 10 to 12 hours a day and went to school at night. “He didn’t get his degree until our oldest daughter, Sheri, was 9 years old,” explains Linda, “It was hard with little kids.” Fred adds, “But you get married to go through the ups and downs together.” Though they didn’t have money or family to help with the children, the couple says they always found a way to spend time together alone once a week. “We just fell into bowling with another couple and did it religiously. The kids knew that one night a week were ours and weekends were for the kids,” says Linda. “You need to do things together,” Fred stresses, “but don’t always have the kids with you and don’t just go out to eat. Do something fun!” Linda reminds us, “The kids grow up and leave eventually. You really need to make time.” Today, the recently-retired Linda and the semi-retired Fred (he works three part-time jobs for fun) spend their days volunteering at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester (section 1C!) where they are regularly “teased” for their hand-holding. They also love spending time with their

two grandchildren and traveling. “I hope we’ll live many years to see where our kids and grandkids’ lives go,” says Linda, “We’d like to keep our good friends and travel.” A cruise to Alaska and trip to Hawaii are at the top of their list. When asked if marriage turned out as they had hoped, Fred smiles proudly, “We overachieved.”

Maryrose and John McNamara ages 53 and 55, Clinton Together 40 years Celebrating 34 years of marriage Children: Tom, 30; Sean, 28; Mikey, 25; CJ, 23 Maryrose and John McNamara were used to juggling their four boys’ eight hockey

games every weekend. In fact, it was such a part of their lives that once their boys were grown and on their own, the couple would still head to the rink to watch strangers’ kids play. But because the pair had always made time for each other while raising their children, they were able to transition from the hockey rink to their present life filled with snowshoeing, throwing large family parties, country line dancing, helping others, road tripping, relaxing in their hot tub, geo-caching, kayaking, throwing another family party... The “Macs� met in grade school at the Holy Rosary in Clinton and started dating in 7th grade. Maryrose remembers looking out her window and waiting for John to ride his 10-speed by her house. In high school, John would pick up Maryrose in a Cogan Furniture Co. truck (where he worked) and take her out to McDonalds. They went to eight high school dances together and met their best friends today, a couple that inspires them, Betsy and “Gibby� Gibson. The “Macs� got engaged on the way to the Thanksgiving football game and married at age 19 and 20, Thanksgiving weekend the following year. They’ve been thankful for each other every since. Raising four active, “mischievous� boys, Maryrose and John learned to always put up a single front in front of them. “Sure, we’d have a discussion about what the front was away from them,� says John, “but even if we disagreed, we still united.� Winters were filled with backyard hockey rinks and fires, and summers were about their pool, camping and the beach. And, of course, there was always hockey.

Maryrose and John McNamara Looking back, perhaps they would have spent a little less time in organized sports and more doing family activities such as fishing, hiking, biking, etc. as they tell us that the kids are grown before you realize that the years have flown by. They recommend “Always have cookies in the cookie jar, let the laundry wait, learn to let some things go and make time as a couple.� Just don’t tell the Macs that you don’t have money to go on a date as they’ll

respond, “Hold hands and take a walk, help someone out, try something new� (and they’re just the type of people who will arrive on your doorstep with dinner for the kids and a bag of games and crafts and will kick you out to spend some time together). Having been through the ups and downs of four kids, breast cancer, unemployment and more, the couple says, “It all works out, and it does get easier. Just never forget the things that you have in common.� The Macs look forward to grandchildren, travel and retirement knowing that they’ve put in the work (and a happy marriage does take work they say) to remain best friends.

Carla and Lance Smith ages 33 and 34, Northbridge Together 18 years Celebrating 9 years of Marriage Parents of twins: Caleb and Sofia When Carla and Lance Smith look at their 3-year-old twins, they remember that their children are almost the age they were when they met each other at their Medway nursery school. Of course, there were grade school and middle school years of friendship, teasing and joking before the couple officially began dating at age 15 and 16. They attended all of their high school dances together, went on dates in the Firebird that Lance shared with his twin brother, traveled the Mass Pike to visit each other in college and married at ages 23 and 24 (even buying their first house at that age). Carla says, “At age 33 years old now, I can honestly say that I haven’t dated anyone other than my husband since I was 15 years old. All of our friends and family tease us quite a bit!� Despite having young kids, the couple is following the path of baystateparent’s featured couples, the Conners and McNamaras, by making the commitment to go out alone once a month for dinner and drinks or even just shopping while the kids enjoy time with their grandparents. And during the week, they make time to watch movies together after the kids go to bed or work out in their home gym as a couple. While history and love hold them together, the Smiths say the tradition of having a family meal together every night is also important to their marriage and family. “We enjoy cooking together and trying out recipes. And now that the kids are older, it’s cute how excited they get about eating together and trying new

Schools, Parties, Corporate Events & Special Needs

Carla and Lance Smith things,� says Carla. They also feel that a healthy couple makes time to be together but also sacrifices for each other so that each person has individual alone time. Carla and Lance will often take some time by themselves to work out or take a walk, go shopping, do a house project, have dinner with a friend. “We know what each other’s passions are and encourage each other to pursue them,� they say. When the children get older, the Smiths would like to take a long, relaxing vacation – just the two of them - but are also looking forward to showing their twins New England spots they enjoyed as kids such as the Cape Cod beaches, Storyland and Santa’s Village, Newport, Rhode Island and the Southwick’s Zoo.

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“it’s my birthday!�

Birthday Ham: Mackenzie Laflamme of Littleton couldn’t get enough of the birthday spotlight on her 2nd birthday.

Lucky Seven: Morgan Laflamme of Littleton celebrated her 7th birthday at the Maynard Movie Theater, sharing “cake pop� favors with her friends.

Two Cute: “It’s my party and I’ll read how I want to� - Lucas Shahnamian, age 2, of Framingham. Courtesy of Jenn Alton Photography jenalton.com. Dino-mite: Brody Hollister of Feeding Hills had a roaring good time at his 3rd birthday party.

The Big One: Birthday girl, Addison Childs, of Worcester turns 1 in style.

Have you captured a great photo of your child?

baystateparent is looking for: March: Beautiful Babies April: Happy Campers (tribute to summer camp) May: New Moms (send in your early baby “daze� photos)

Email your photos to editor@baystateparent.com.

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Put on your party hats, moms. If you have a baby turning 1 years old, you are about to step into birthday boot camp as you train for your new role as captain party planner for the next 18 plus years. To help you in your training with the Under 3 crowd, baystateparent shares our best party tips for your child’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthdays.

Who to Invite Deciding who to invite to a child’s birthday party should be relatively easy, right? But it can get tricky when you take into consideration your space, budget and the personalities and feelings of everyone involved. Having a “friend� party with little ones can be fun but is really not that common. Your child’s best friends are Mommy and Daddy and maybe some grandparents and a special cousin or two. Of course, if

you are in a playgroup or have a circle of friends with kids in the same age range, you may want to have a “friend� party, but don’t forget at this age, friends come with their posse: Moms, Dads and siblings. You may want to save the friend parties for when your child actually has friends (usually about kindergarten). Most birthday parties in the early years are for family only and sometimes close friends. It’s up to you whether you should keep the guest list to immediate family only or if you can accommodate extended family. Once you invite a favorite aunt, you pretty much have to invite them all. You don’t have to invite co-workers, neighbors, etc. to your baby’s party. Reflect on your wedding day and think about that guest list. Were all those guests really important to you or were you just caught up in the moment? If you choose to have a children’s party and then a family party, keep in mind that

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your child’s birthday could stretch into a week-long affair with parties at daycare, parties with one side of the family, parties with the other. This is a sure way to get all birthday-ed out fast. And remember, circumstances change each and every year. Just because you throw a huge party for the first birthday doesn’t mean you have to do that every year thereafter.

When to Have the Party The most common party tip is to avoid having parties at naptime. Well, we all know that! But who’s naptime are we talking about? You can’t possibly plan for every child invited. Plan the party around what works best for the birthday boy or girl, and let everyone else and their children (and their naps) plan


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accordingly. It will all work out. You will also have to decide whether the party will be held during lunch or dinner. If your family has traveled a distance, you will have to offer a meal, but if family is close by, it is cost-effective to have the party from 3 to 5, celebrating with some cake and ice cream or have them drop by after dinner for a simple, yet intimate birthday song and cake. Usually parties are held in close proximity to the child’s actual birthday, but there’s no rule saying you can’t celebrate during a time that works better for your family. If you really want to have the party in the summer and your child’s birthday is in the winter, do it. It’s about having fun and being together. Be creative if it works for you.

continued on page 40

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Don’t let your school get “left inside� BAYSTATEPARENT 39

PARTYPLANNER! continued from page 35

Where to Party? There are many advantages to having the party at your house. Most importantly, it’s free and creates memories in your own home. However, it can be hard to play hostess as you don’t want to miss all the special moments of the day and visiting with your guests. If you are new to hosting birthdays, a first birthday can be a tough time to learn this, especially if you are making and serving food. You will most likely clean and organize before your guests come, and then clean and organize after they leave. That’s a lot of cleaning and organizing!Try to keep this in mind as you prioritize what needs to be done and how you really want to celebrate. For those who don’t have room, are worried about the weather or who are unable to pull the house together in time for a party, you may want to have the party somewhere else. Renting a party venue generally costs in the $200 - $250 range (and you may be surprised how costly a “simple� party at home really ends up being after purchasing decorations, paper goods, sprucing up your home, etc.) You can always opt to meet everyone at a local park, which is free and fun for all.

or juice box for long). Stick to apple juice, water, lemonade and Sprite; you’ll be glad you did! A birthday cake is an important part of any celebration, but until you’ve cut the cake and scooped ice cream and served it to a large crowd, you don’t realize how hectic it is. Consider having a mini-cake for the birthday child and serve cupcakes and Hoodsie cups for the guests. These days every family must be vigilant about food allergies (check in with everyone) and with little ones around, be extra aware of choking foods such as m&ms, popcorn, baby carrots and grapes. And if Grandpa brings over a giant container of orange cheese balls, hide it! The last thing you need are kids with wet orange hands leaving Neon marks in your house.

commercial just because it’s on all the store shelves. A party theme can be as simple as choosing a favorite color, animal, toy or even the age of the birthday child. Enjoy choosing the theme now because after age 3, your child will insist on a theme of his choosing, and that will be that.

Oh No! Goody Bags Oh, the controversial goody bags! From what to put in them to what to do with the “stuff� once your child brings one home, goody bags cause parents much angst. Why not let each child take home a balloon or do a simple craft that doubles as the party favor. You can also give framed photos of the child’s 1st -year picture or burn CDs of children’s music (inexpensive and useful!).

More Under 3 Dos and Don’ts Don’t Buy Horns: Party horns are nasty! Little ones always loose track of them and end up sharing germs. Plus kids always seem to blow the horn too loud in someone’s ear or unravel one right in your face. (But then again, little ones just playing together is a germ fest so toot your horn if you want to). Do Warn Parents: If you have hired a children’s entertainer or character to come to the party, some children will be freaked out (even if they do love Dora on TV). Make sure all the parents know ahead of time what to expect.

Food for Thought If you are feeding a group of party guests, seriously consider having food delivered or sending someone out to pick up the food. It will cost more in the short term but with little ones to tend to and a milestone to enjoy, worrying about the food and all of your guests’ needs can put any mom over the edge. You may also opt to serve lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs or a sandwich platter so everything is prepared beforehand (but keep in mind red sauce can be messy with little ones!). Also keep in mind that pizza parties are easy but not always cheap. Sometimes you could easily pick up an entree from a local caterer for the price of several pizzas. To avoid permanent reminders of the celebration, avoid serving purple and red drinks to children. Anything red or purple is a potential disaster for wandering party guests (it won’t stay contained in its pouch

Some games that could work are: • Parade of instruments • Pinata (with strings, not the bat) • Egg hunt (or digging in dirt or leaves for treasures) • London Bridges • Bean Bag toss • Parachute (You can even use a blanket) • Bowling (with a game you make yourself) • Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes • Pin the Tail on the Donkey (or whatever you choose) • Ring Around the Rosie • Follow the Leader • Bubbles • Hokey Pokey • Limbo • Fruit Loop Necklaces on thin licorice whips

Relax, It’s Just a Theme Choosing a theme is supposed to help you plan and organize, but if you are overdoing it trying to coordinate every little thing down to your child’s party outfit matching the tablecloth, and it’s just not fun for you anymore, then step back and refocus. The expense, time involved and general stress getting the theme perfect may not be worth it. If you choose to have an Elmo party, keep it simple and cost-effective by buying red decorations and accessorize with a few Elmo decorations. You also don’t have to go

If you do want to give a traditional goody bag, consider spending the extra money on some nice favors instead of filling bags with forgettable throwaway trinkets. An extra $20 for bags you feel good about handing out can actually reduce your stress as you will not be tempted to add in more “junk� to compensate for bags you continue to doubt.

Just Play! Do plan a few games for your guests under 3, just don’t feel disappointed if the children prefer a loose playdate and a snuggle on Mom or Dad’s lap instead.

Do Charge, Charge, Charge: Charge the camera and video camera (and re-check that they are charged). Also make sure you have cleared your memory cards before the party begins. And if your camera does malfunction (and it will during some important moments of your child’s life), put it in perspective. How often have you really looked at photos of yourself opening your birthday presents at age 2 (if there are even photos)? Hope that makes you feel a little better. Do Party Proof: Just because your little one never goes near the dangling plant doesn’t mean other children won’t. Proof your house for the most curious and mischievous guest because remember,

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Don’t Forget Tradition: Your child’s first few birthdays are a great time to start family traditions. You can choose a special place in your home to measure and record how much your child grows every year; watch the video of his birth; write your child a letter; take a photo in the same place every year; trace your child’s hand or make handprints; make a collage out of the front panels of birthday cards your child receives; have guests bring an item for a yearly time capsule... Do Buy Mylar: Helium balloons are one of the leading causes of choking deaths among children under 6 so popped balloons need to be cleaned up immediately. Mylar (foil) are more expensive but are much safer (and can double as a party favor for each guest). Don’t Expect RSVPs: People are RSVPing less and less these days. Unfortunately, you will

have to call, e-mail, Text and Facebook a lot of people on your guest list to see if they are coming. It seems the more ways we have to communicate, the less we are doing it. Remember this when it’s your turn to RSVP. Do Hide: Put away toys that are special to your child to avoid any problems with other children mishandling them as there are always squabbles at this age. Likewise, put away toys that will make a mess or get out of hand. Don’t Request Gifts: Have some specific gift suggestions on hand for people who may ask what your child would like; however, it’s not viewed favorably to include gift requests in invitations unless you are requesting charitable donations in lieu of gifts. Do Put Guests to Work: There is a lot to think about when hosting a party for babies and toddlers, so do put a close friend or relative in charge of things for your peace of mind. Assign Nana diaper duty. Put your niece in charge of recording gifts received. Let someone handle distributing goody bags because believe it or not, this is easy to forget. Don’t Offer Inflatable Toys: It’s a fight waiting to happen. If you

have blow-up toys at the party (blow-up sea creatures, flowers, swords), children will inevitably start hitting each other with them. Do Open Gifts: Parents seem to be divided on whether to open gifts or not at the party. This is a personal decision as there may not be time to open gifts. However, many gift-givers like to see the recipient open the gift they choose for the child. Through the years, it’s an excellent way to teach children manners. Consider involving the party guests in the process by playing games such as “Pass the Present” to avoid overcrowding the birthday girl. Or seat your child in a high chair or special seat so they are above all of those eager helping hands. And even though people tell you to keep it simple and small, it’s easy to get carried away on your child’s birthday because, well, it’s just so darn fun. So take these tips for what they are worth, pass along some of your own to other moms in your life and best wishes for all of the happy birthdays to come! Carrie Wattu is editor of baystateparent and has been throwing children’s birthday parties, both bashes and bombs, for 10 years.

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Jam Time

86 Powder Mill Road, Maynard, MA 978-897-2917 MetroWest's premiere play space catering to little ones 3 months to 7 years old. Ultra clean, safe and unique indoor playground features climbing structures, slides, imaginative play houses, ball pit, play tables, baby soft play area and more. Open 7-days a week for open play with no membership required. Play space includes a cafe with free WiFi for parents and caregivers. Hours: Weekdays 9am-5:30pm, Weekends 9:30am-1:30pm. www.jamtime.com

Grimm’s Family Martial Arts Center 20 Zottoli Road, Holden, MA

508-829-2525 Open Play (running, jumping, crawling) on 2000 square feet of matted floor for ages 18 months to 5 years. $5 drop-in fee. Not a drop-off program; parents must supervise children. Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:30am-12pm www.holdenmartialarts.com

Worcester Family Partnership

130 Leeds Street, Worcester, MA 508-799-3136 No membership required, drop-in anytime, no need to register. Offering arts, crafts, music. Craft supplies and snacks provided. Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30-11:30am. http://wfcp.worcesterschools.org Click on Worcester Family Partnership.

The Discovery Stop

44 Nashua Road, Route 102, Londonderry, NH 603-421-2790 Open everyday for play, no membership required. Offing an indoor climbing structure designed for ages 2-12. Rest of facility made up of various learning “stops” (museum-like centers), ranging from an infant/toddler section to an 8 and over section. Shoe-less environment, don’t forget your socks! Outside food is allowed, but nothing with peanuts or nuts please. Special discounts and events offered. Check online calendar for details. Hours: Winter (Nov-March) Weekdays 9am-7pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm. Spring/Summer (April-Oct) Weekdays 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-5pm. www.thediscoverystop.com



adults are often distracted when they socialize and children can wander. If you haven’t latched big pieces of furniture to the wall or secured cabinets with safety locks, it’s the perfect gift to give your child (and all your guests) as well.




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trisha blanchet

Any discussion of special occasions has to start with birthdays. Not your birthday, of course. Once you have kids, nobody cares about your birthday anymore. Remember when you used to throw wild keggers in your apartment? When all your friends and family would gather to commemorate the wonderful day when you entered the world? Yeah, sorry… Those days are over. Nobody gives a flying fig now. From here on out, the only “entering the world” days that matter are those in which you popped your feet up into a pair of stirrups, exposed your girly parts to a room full of strangers and pushed a Cadillac-sized object through an acorn-sized opening. Maybe all that second-fiddling has left us mommies with an empty hole inside. A birthday hole, you might call it. And as any parent knows, the only way to fill that hole is to throw our children the MOST AWESOME BIRTHDAY PARTIES EVER. I’m not talking about the kind of party your mom threw you as a kid, the kind where she tossed a cake onto a picnic table in the backyard and ordered all the neighborhood kids to sing a rousing rendition of something resembling “Happy Birthday.” No pony rides. No balloonbending clowns. Just a birthday. Those days are gone. I first learned this

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when I worked in a wealthy suburb near New York City where parents spared no expense at creating mind-bending blowouts for their kids. Tents were rented. Magicians were hired. Traveling circus acts came from far and wide. I knew of several companies that specialized in creating multi-tiered children’s birthday cakes that would rival those found at the ritziest weddings, and a few more that advertized themselves as party-planners for the under-12 crowd. At the time, I didn’t have children, and I struggled mightily to understand these strange goings-on. The girl is three, I would think to myself. Does she really care if the stuffed-rabbit centerpieces are tied with chartreuse ribbons? Now that I’m a mother, I do understand. Yes, she will notice if the rabbits are missing their ribbons. And yes, she will be completely devastated if those ribbons were supposed to be chartreuse and ended up being lavender, instead. I mean, c’mon, people. This is really basic stuff. Even those of us living with more tightened belts feel oodles of pressure to make this day a very special one, indeed. You might not have a lot of money to spend, but you have ample amounts of craziness. And you’re not afraid to use it.

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1. Buy enough battery-operated toys to make a present pile that reaches to the ceiling and single-handedly kills off the last of the polar bears. Tell yourself that your child will appreciate your thoughtfulness, then simmer with silent resentment when you later realize that she doesn’t and never will. 2. Invite more pint-sized guests than you can possibly accommodate. Don’t leave out anyone; not the kid who lives three streets away that you met only once, not the boy from last year’s preschool class who has since moved away and not the daughter of your uncle’s friend who gave

you a nice gift at your wedding but you haven’t spoken with since. 3. Come up with a theme that is so ridiculous, so over the top, that you have to shop every day for three weeks just to find all the cake-toppers, party favors and cleverly-incorporated food items you might need. I accomplished this last year by throwing a Hawaiian luau for a 2-year old. You might choose Princesses Who Only Wear Orange, or Pyramid Building, or The Kindergarten Chimney Sweep Challenge. It doesn’t really matter. Any outrageously difficult theme will do. 4. Do not, under any circumstances, relax and enjoy yourself. Instead, flit nervously around the room, gymnasium or jumpy bounce-house place, intervening in every activity and making sure everyone is

having boatloads of unbeatable fun. Do not let the birthday child enjoy himself, either. If he objects to hitting the piñata, for example, just march up to him, get your nose in his face and order him to Have Fun. Use your most menacing tone of voice. Remind him how much time and money you spent trying to make this the Most Humdinger Party in all of Recorded Time, and then threaten to make him spend all future birthdays home alone in his room: friendless, cakeless and piñata-less. That should do the trick. And just think: Once you have birthdays under control, you can move on to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, vacations, New Year’s Eve, Christmas/Hannukah/ Kwaanza, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter… Where do we begin? So many occasions to wreck, so little time.

Trisha Blanchet is an award-winning humor columnist and the author of six books. She lives in Chelmsford with her husband, two children, and a dog... none of whom realize she is actually a deep-cover Soviet agent sent to live among them and gather intel on the seamy underworld of American suburbia. Well, the dog knows. But she also knows who buys the Alpo, so she’s keeping her snout shut. For now.

years back. I can’t explain why, but I felt so touched when I saw the cake the mom had made for her son: box mix, yellow, 8” round, double layer, chocolate frosting with sprinkles on top. She didn’t even pipe “Happy Birthday” on it. I thought it was so beautiful. So simple and the act of it so loving. He was beaming. This is when I teared up (I have a habit of tearing up when I hear the happy birthday song because I can actually feel the joy radiating off of the child). This boy, with the plainest cake in this cake-crazed world we live in, was full of joy. My nieces, full of joy at their happy birthday song, had both a slice of ice cream cake and the delicious rabid shark. See! They didn’t need a large tiered topsy-turvy fondant-covered cake. Even the cake mess-up and the back-up plan were magical. My daughter turned a giant 5 last week, and I did something pretty unconventional considering my profession. I baked a box mix and colored some frosting. I handed her some filled frosting bags, a spatula and an apron and told her to go to town. You should have seen that beautiful, exciting, magical mess! There were red, blue, green

and yellow piles and cascading ribbons all over the top and a bounty of rainbow sprinkles. She had blue frosting in her eyebrows and on her shoes. I took pictures of her joy, and the happy birthday song made me tear up once again. So in the end, I could have spent six hours molding Hello Kitty out of Rice Krispie treats and modeling chocolate and the results would have been the same! Just joy. Cake, in all its forms, is joy!

“Taking the ‘Special’ Out of ‘Special Occasions’” is an excerpt from Blanchet book, The Cow Crashed into the Moon: Messing up Motherhood in 7 Easy Steps (Sleepy Owl Press/2010). Dirty Laundry is a humor column about a mom’s day-to-day life raising kids. Bascially she’s not afraid to air out the Dirty Laundry and say it like it is, making the rest of us not feel so alone.



CakeCrazed WORLD BY

melanie mccarthy

Cake. I think about cake a lot. For as long as I can remember, I have decorated birthday cakes part-time at a local store. I come home with blue frosting on my shoes and eyebrows and sometimes feel like my job is silly. I wonder what I am giving back to the world, and I have to dig a little deeper to see the importance of cake. I think of my friend, who drove three hours round-trip to get a special vegan birthday cake to accommodate her son’s allergies on his first birthday. I think of the Tinkerbell cake I made for a 5-yearold who was so ill that her mother was sure this would be her last birthday. (I could barely frost that one because I was crying so hard.) So, of course cake is important but sometimes a little too much. One day several months ago, a pregnant mother stopped in to the store with her soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter. They had the highly important task of choosing this year’s cake. They were on a mission as they flipped through my special cake book. The sweet, proud daughter chose a princess theme. I got out a pen to jot down the order when I heard the mother explaining that the princess didn’t match the pony plates and napkins that they had picked out earlier. But the girl still wanted the princess cake. The mother got down to her 3-year-old’s level (so to speak) and explained again that the pony plates and napkins didn’t match, and didn’t she

want a pony cake so that it would all match? No. The birthday girl still wanted the princess cake. And when the mother threatened to return the pony plates and napkins, the girl still wanted the princess cake. I tried to intervene suggesting that we put both the pony and the princess on the cake, but backed away quietly when I saw this mother’s determination to stick to the theme without exception. Sure, maybe everything should match when you are 34, but why should the world match when you are 4? The daughter even called her mother’s bluff and agreed to return the pony plates and napkins in exchange for princess ones, but Mommy wouldn’t budge. Finally, the child agreed to the lesser pony cake, but only if I could pipe some golden polka dots onto the pink plastic figure. I understand the pleasures we get by matching everything, but sometimes life doesn’t work like that. Once I tried to make a 3D dolphin cake for my nieces, to match their dolphin-themed birthday party. I worked for hours and ended up sculpting some kind of sea creature that looked more like a rabid shark (if there is such a thing). Recognizing my defeat, I stopped and picked up a generic ice cream cake on my way to the party, which was even more pathetic considering my profession! As I picked out the ice cream cake, I recalled a party I went to a few a

Contributing writer Melanie McCarthy is a South Shore mom, the one walking around town with blue frosting on her shoes and in her eyebrows. Melanie chooses to see the humor in family life. What’s on your Plate, Moms and Dads? If you have a story, viewpoint or experience you’d like to share with other parents, here is your chance. You don’t have to be a published writer for your essay to be featured in an upcoming “On My Plate.” Please send your inspiring, funny or thought-provoking submissions to editor@baystateparent.com.



How, you might ask, can you make my child’s party memorable and special? I have no idea. But I do know (all too well) how to mess it up.

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Food Allerg BY

166 Main Street Concord, MA 01742 978.402.2284 concordacademysummercamp.org 46 FEBRUARY2011

julia quinn-szcesuil

Many kids relish the thought of carefree days at summer camp spent jumping off the dock, navigating hiking trails and goofing off with friends away from their parents and the day-to-day expectations of home. But for kids with food allergies or celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten), those day-to-day routines at home often include protective measures against a life-threatening food allergy or a healthcompromising reaction to foods. Going to camp, while exciting, also invokes anxiety, not about making friends, but about the most basic activity – eating. Many summer camps will accommodate food allergies, and they do it successfully. Some families feel children must learn how to manage their diets in many situations and that a well-run camp is a good place to do so. But some parents are turning to a growing number of camps geared toward campers with food allergies or celiac disease. For families of food-allergic kids, finding just the right camp involves much more than matching a child with a sport or interest. Camp Celiac in Rhode Island is a oneweek camp that allows campers with a gluten intolerance to spend their time at camp without worrying about food. Slightly different from many food allergies, kids with

celiac disease do not have life-threatening anaphylactic responses to gluten. But they still cannot eat it without having severe physical symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. Often cross contamination from a knife used previously to cut something with gluten in it will spark a reaction. All the food at Camp Celiac is free of gluten, and cross contamination is taken very seriously. “It is sort of a stress-free week,� says 12-year-old camper Erica Taft from Stow, Massachusetts, who was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was 2 years old. “I will start to say, ‘Can I have that?’ and then I realize I can. It is cool when you realize everyone here is just like you.� Families who have a child with celiac disease or with a food allergy are used to being vigilant about what goes into a child’s mouth. From hidden gluten in a smoothie ingredient to milk lurking in a cookie, one bite can make all the difference between a normal day and a serious health reaction. So for a parent to send a child to camp, away from that ever-watchful eye, is difficult. “It is a great leap of faith,� says Toni Davison Levenberg, director of Camp Interlaken JCC, a nut-free camp in Milwaukee,Wisconsin. The Taft family sends Erica to a regular camp, too, but finds immense stress lifted

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ergies when they do not have to provide special meals and snacks, up to three coolers full of food, for her to eat while she is away. “Food is not an issue there,� says Erica’s mom Tara. “It is an issue for her the rest of the year.� Levenberg says making Camp Interlaken JCC nut-free helped some of the families that regularly attend the camp. “Campers are very aware of who has nut allergies,� says Levenberg, and the campers watch out for each other. As with staff at any camp, the counselors are trained to react to any food emergency. “Kids should feel safe and secure at camp,� she says. “They know there is someone caring for you and watching out for you.� Dr. Michael Pistiner, a pediatric allergist with Northeast Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in Leominster and clinical instructor at Children’s Hospital Boston says parents must do a thorough check on any camp to make sure it can handle campers’ food allergies. “You need to know the camp’s experience with food allergies,� says Dr. Pistiner. “Make sure that they have a policy in place that addresses food allergen avoidance and emergency preparedness. Before enrollment, find out about the camp and make sure that you are comfortable with its policies. This is key to having a fun and safe summer. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has

great resources available for families and camps.� One of the most important parts of camp, say many of the kids, is the interaction they have with others who have similar conditions. At Camp Celiac, many counselors have celiac disease and talk to the kids about how they cope and how they stay safe eating in different situations. “We talk about how hard it is and what happens to us,� says Erica. “You feel so much better that week.� “The kids get so much out of it,� says Denise Segreti, one of Camp Celiac’s codirectors. “Lots of them have never met anyone with celiac. At camp, everyone is like them. One of the benefits is that they learn so many things.� As with lots of health issues, word of mouth is a great way to learn new coping strategies. Segreti’s daughter, Deanna, says the camp gives her insight into how others manage their food limitations, even learning little tricks like keeping food in the car so you always have access to something you can eat. Rather than actually forgetting about their allergies at camp, kids find reassurance and connections with others helps them manage their allergies. “Training our children to comfortably cope is our goal,� says Dr. Pistiner, who has found a regular camp for his own food allergic child. The camp has a great food allergy policy with which Dr. Pistiner’s family is comfortable. And anyone with severe food allergies or with celiac disease will tell you, you never really let your guard down, no matter where you are. Sending kids to camp, whether a regular one or one specific to food issues, is only one step toward an independent, healthy life.



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Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is an award-winning freelance writer living in Bolton with her husband and two daughters. foodallergy.org campinterlaken.org campceliac.org celiacsupportgroup@ childrens.harvard.edu



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Miscarriage-Still Hiding in the Shadows TAKEGOODCARE



was the day we had been anxiously awaiting, my 18-week ultrasound where we would hopefully learn if we would be welcoming a fourth son or our first daughter. That morning I awoke with cramps and spotting so I knew something was wrong. Oh how very wrong it was. The midwife put the Doppler on my stomach and nothing came back. She tried and tried and tried but couldn’t find a heartbeat. She said not to worry “too much” but I plainly saw worry on her face. She sent me to the tiny ultrasound room down the hall. The moment the technician placed the wand on my stomach, a delicately formed baby, still and motionless, appeared on the monitor. No heart tones, just my child silently suspended within me. I asked if the baby was alive and all the technician could say was, “I’m so, so sorry” as she quickly turned off all the equipment and rushed out of the room. I put both hands over my face and sobbed with my husband, staring in disbelief. I was already wearing maternity clothes and sporting a small baby bump, so how could this happen? Our last scan

showed a seemingly healthy and active little person in there. They scheduled me for a D&C the following morning at the hospital and asked if I wanted the remains of the baby. I’d never had a miscarriage before and had no idea what to say but I soon found out that I was hardly alone. According to the March of Dimes, approximately 50% of all pregnancies

laura richards

to the high rate of loss. Despite the statistics, when it happens to you, it’s devastating. There is an emotional aspect of miscarriage that most people, including friends, family and medical professionals do not comprehend or acknowledge. Many women suffer the experience with little to no emotional support partly because the losses occur early on before they

“...it does seem to be a silent pain that women need to bear. I’m not sure why we have to be alone in this when so many go through it.”

– Linda Stoll

will end in miscarriage with many ending before a woman even realizes she is pregnant or misses a period. More than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Those after 20 weeks gestation are termed late miscarriages. Many caregivers caution women not to share pregnancy news until fully through the first trimester due

have shared the news. No one knows you were pregnant in the first place so no one is there to support you. When I had my miscarriage, I learned that neighbors and most acquaintances had experienced it too but they never told anyone. Linda Stoll, a native of Winchester, has had two miscarriages and shares, “Society teaches us to stuff it in and move forward.

It’s not always that easy. I am not sure there are any easy answers. Each person is affected differently, but it does seem to be a silent pain that women need to bear. I’m not sure why we have to be alone in this when so many go through it.” If it’s such a common experience, why is it that in 2011 we still have little idea how to handle it with others and with ourselves? Three Framingham women, Megan Levey, Nicole Jones and Lisa Richards, each experienced pregnancy loss. Megan and Nicole have both suffered two miscarriages; Lisa has suffered three including the loss of her daughter, Mary, at 22 weeks gestation. “I think society isn’t good with pain,” says Nicole, “It’s easy to rejoice with people. It’s hard to share pain. We had two deaths in the family last year on top of my miscarriage, and I was so disappointed about how people responded. I just think people don’t know what to say when something goes wrong.” Megan was surprised at the amount of people who had been through a miscarriage themselves and she never knew. “People certainly don’t share until

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you become ‘one of them.’ I’d really like to hear people talk about it more often. I go to a large OB practice and they should have offered some sort of support group as I would have gone. I would have liked to see them handle my situation better and not seat me in a waiting room with very pregnant women. The medical healing process was easy; the emotional process was really tough.” Lisa found that help didn’t come to her until years later. “I suffered without someone who understood for a long time. Then I found one person, then others who understood. Being open was the only way to find the help. I wish for people to know that our angel children count and that they are a part of us, and that is a beautiful thing that they were with us for however long they could give us.” So what do you say when a friend or family member experiences a miscarriage? Offer statements of support like “I’m here for you” or “I’m sorry for your loss.” Megan’s friend sent a card that said “thinking of you” which meant a lot. Karen Quattrochi of Metrowest has had two miscarriages and shares “I will never forget after one of them, finding a single red rose on my front doorstep from a dear friend. That touched me so much.” What does not help is making sense of the situation by saying, “It was God’s will and God knows best”; “It wasn’t meant to be”; “It’s nature’s way of taking care of things”; “You weren’t that far along” ; “Something was wrong with the baby,” or “Don’t worry; you can try again.” Women want to feel supported and heard, not given a pat answer and certainly not a rationalization. Miscarriage is the loss of a dream and a vision of how you expected your family to look. Nicole shares, “I had had such a picture in my mind of what my family was going to look like. It was so hard for me to reform that image and be okay with just having two.” Linda agrees, “It’s been hard realizing that I could have had

a baby by now two different times but I am trying to remain positive and pray that God would bless us again and if not, that He would give me peace about it.” Getting solid medical answers is one way to help heal. Megan pushed for testing despite her doctor’s recommendation against it, “Everything turned out negative, but doing something really helped me with the healing process.” As with anything, time often helps. Karen says, “Let yourself feel what you feel and don’t let anyone belittle your loss, or try to put a timeline on your grief. No one should underestimate the love a parent feels for a child even if they haven’t ‘met’ each other yet regardless of how short a pregnancy might have been.” I got the call from my doctor two months after my miscarriage that the genetic testing was negative. I was glad, but I needed to put a face to my child. My doctor cautioned against it, but I insisted on knowing the gender. Knowing that we lost a daughter gave her an identity not only to me but to her brothers who were so sad at what happened. Of course I cried again, but it helped to know. Caregivers need to listen to women and give them the information they are seeking, information that may help them cope and process their own grief. Although things are better than they were years ago, there is still more work to be done. Several Websites exist as support communities for women who have experienced miscarriage. They are: nationalshare.org mend.org aplacetoremember.com There are also several online support groups if you Google “miscarriage support groups.” Laura Richards is a freelance writer who resides with her husband, three boys and two cats in Framingham.

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Moms Inspire Beauty Inside and Out Story and Photography by Brittany Durgin

“Open Mind ~ Open Heart.” It’s a family lesson told in the DeBono’s Leominster home. A mother of three, Julie DeBono encourages her children to be open to everything from trying new foods to accepting different cultures. One year after adopting her first two children, Julie had the phrase printed on shirts and gave them to family and friends. “I wanted to somehow express how inspired I was as a new mom,” says Julie. Receiving positive feedback for those initial 25 shirts, Julie says “It’s always been in the back of my mind to make more.” After giving birth to her youngest daughter, Julie was concerned that her children would be living in store-bought T-shirts with pessimistic sayings. “I didn’t want my kids wearing negative messages,” so Julie took the opportunity to start up a clothing line that would share kind words


and sayings. Julie and her sister, Sharon Skinner, also of Leominster, design, create and sell their own branded Peace Tree Apparel clothing. Positive expressions adorn the front of all their shirts, while a symbolic tree with the phrase “Inspiring us as we grow” is printed on back. A tree with roots underground, like our personalities beneath our skin, represent the idea “we are all beautiful inside and out.” Sharon and Julie are both wives and mothers of three. Their children inspire many of the Peace Tree Apparel designs including two of their 2011 Valentine’s shirts. Julie’s 6-year-old designed the “Love gets bigger and bigger” T-shirt while her son’s Ethiopian name is the inspiration of the “One who is Loved” shirt. The sisters sold over 100 shirts in the one month Peace Tree Apparel has

been available at local craft fairs. One of the designs selling fast, and said to be appreciated by women of all backgrounds, is the “Perfectly Imperfect” shirt. “It’s liberating to wear the shirt,” says Julie. “We put such a burden on ourselves to be the perfect mother, sister...” and says instead we should feel comfortable with who we are. Sharon’s oldest daughter was the first to show support for the “perfectly imperfect” phrase, and requested it be one of their printed slogans. She now wears the top to high school, a place where Julie says “it’s so important to be ok with being imperfect.” Julie and Sharon admit they never used to wear T-shirts. The stiff, boxy feeling of most turned the women off. That is, until they discovered through their marketing research a more feminine fashion fit and a softer fabric. The Peace Tree Apparel shirts are made with these qualities, and some designed with scoop necks. The ladies say they’ve heard from customers, “I feel like a woman in it.” Men’s shirts are planned to be added to the infant, youth and women line-up in 2011. Beyond T-shirts, Peace Tree Apparel says baseball hats, lunch bags and shirts for dogs are also planned to be released for sale next year. DeBono and Skinner’s messages of acceptance, peace and an open mind inspire a new generation of parents and their children to live positive and grow to be comfortable with themselves inside and out. Brittany Durgin is a writer for the Holden Landmark Corporation, baystateparent’s parent company. She lives in Shrewsbury and when she’s not writing, she spends time outside hiking, bicycling and snowboarding. Peace Tree Apparel T-shirts can be ordered online at www.peacetreeapparel. com. For further information or questions, e-mails may be sent to either Julie@Peacetreeapparel.com or Sharon@ Peacetreeapparel.com. Ladies interested in having at home shopping parties are encouraged to contact either Julie and Sharon for information and planning.


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was a typical Monday morning. My 6-year-old son slept in (as he always does on school days), which meant calling out bus countdown reminders every 5 minutes while I scrambled to find a missing mitten and to pack a lunch that served some nutritional purpose. When he finally sauntered down the stairs within five minutes of bus arrival and asked for the breakfast I’d clearly forgotten he needed… I laughed. Out loud. A big HO HO HA HA HA. Strange? Crazy? Yes, I might have thought such a response was a little off the banana boat myself before last month. But now I know better. Allow me to explain. Linda and Bill Hamaker are selfproclaimed laughologists. Trained at the American School of Laughter Yoga in Chicago, they began their foray into laughter while Linda was experiencing chronic pain. “I have arthritis in my knees, hands and neck,” she says, “along with unexplained leg and arm pain.” For Linda, laughter really has been the best medicine. “Laughter has a way of transforming you,” she says. When you laugh, you can’t do anything else. “Just try to worry, be anxious or feel sorry for yourself while you’re laughing. You can’t do it!” Started in 1995 in Mumbai, India by Dr. Madan Kataria, Laughter Yoga came about as a result of research the doctor did for a health journal article about the benefits of laughter. He was impressed to learn, after reading such works as Anatomy


of an Illness, by Dr. Lee Berk, that laughter could strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, relieve depression, and enhance brain functioning. What began with a few skeptical participants in a public park has blossomed into more than 6,000 laughter clubs in 65 countries. When the Hamakers came to my home last month to run a session, I was excited because I’d heard about laughter yoga and always love a good laugh. I wasn’t, however, so sure how well it would go over with the ten mom friends I’d invited to share in the experience. It’s one thing to laugh together over a glass of wine and a good mom story, but to laugh for no reason? Could that even work? Laughter yoga isn’t yoga in the traditional sense. There’s no need for mats or to be in rock-hard shape. In fact, you don’t need to be in shape at all. The Hamakers have brought their Let’s Laugh Today Laughter Club around the state, visiting libraries, rotary clubs, shelters and senior centers. “With seniors, we do most of the exercises where we remain seated, if that’s what they prefer,” says Linda. The yoga part is the breathing exercises that are incorporated into each session. It all begins with gentle warm-up stretches. Then introductions take place. After each participant introduces herself, she’s asked to laugh. In laughter yoga, it’s okay to fake a laugh. Actually, it’s encouraged. The idea is that the body doesn’t know the difference between fake laughter or real. The benefits are the


same. Of course, as Bill Hamaker points out, fake laughter “pretty quickly turns into real laughter.� And so it did. The exercises we did included pretending to cut each other’s hair, to carry around a big earth and speaking in jibberish. We all felt a little wackers about the whole experience, but it didn’t matter. Silly as the exercises were, they had us laughing. And laughter is contagious, so the more we laughed, well, the more we laughed. Each activity ended with a big HO HO HA HA HA, allowing the release of stale carbon dioxide in our lungs to be replaced with fresh, cell-sustaining oxygen. Although not everyone knew each other in this session, it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Bill and Linda did a great job making everyone feel safe. As adults, we don’t

laugh enough. We’re often self-conscious or just too busy. When we do laugh, it’s usually as a result of some outside force, like a movie or a show. Laughter yoga shows you how to create laughter on your own. Of course, laughing with others is even better. Forcing ourselves to laugh can have other benefits as well. As Linda explained, when we laugh during a stressful situation, as when stuck in a traffic jam or in a pre-dinner whining situation, we create distance between ourselves and the tension. This allows us time to regroup and gain control over our actions before stress takes us out of control, a moment that any mom-turned-Joan Crawford can describe. And I dare you to try to have an argument with your partner after you

both start speaking jibberish. The session ended with all the participants lying in a circle on the floor. I still chuckle as I recall this part because it was the point where we laughed the most. It was as if we were all in pigtails and Mary Janes again. Just as we’d begin to quiet, someone would giggle and it was all over again. We laughed like this for a good ten minutes before the circle hushed from mere exhaustion. What a release. During the close, a number of women commented about what a difference the session had made for them. “Before we started, I had a whole lot of back and shoulder pain,� said Sue Haley, of Norfolk. “Now it’s all gone.� Julie Sullivan, of Wrentham, commented hours later that she was still feeling stress-free, while Nancy Dayian, of Walpole, said, “My stomach still hurts.� Linda says that when you practice laughter yoga, you eventually begin to find more to laugh about in your life, which brings me back to the following Monday morning. Though my son looked at me as if I had two heads and a couple extra eyeballs (dangling from their sockets with springs, of course), he smiled. And then I smiled. And he laughed. And then I laughed. I slipped him a granola bar and

as he reached for it, the missing mitten fell out of his jacket. What could have been a miserable start to the day for both of us turned into a valuable learning experience. And that’s nothing to laugh at. Donna Morin Miller is a health counselor and mom to Max. She was so inspired by the laughter yoga session, she plans to become certified as an instructor herself.

Area Laughter Yoga Sessions: Arlington: meetup.com/ArlingtonLaughter.Club Bedford: Hee! Hee! Laughter Yoga for Moms and Toddlers, meetup.com/ Hee-HeeMommy Franklin and Westwood: Let’s Laugh Today Laughter Club, letslaughtoday.com You can find Laughter Yoga in a number of towns by searching at meetup.com.

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Explore programs for learning that help your child build a foundation for success in school and life • Nurturing children 6 weeks to 6 years old • Offering full- and part-time care • Excellent teacher-to-child ratios

ENROLL NOW! For specific center locations, please call 866-854-1958 or visit www.b www.b www.brighthorizons.com/baystateparent


Sweet. Heart. Stop into a Panera Bread® bakery-cafe during this season of love to share the sweetest gesture: a freshly baked treat. Our heart-shaped shortbread cookies, topped with pink icing and sugar, are sure to warm the hearts of friends, family and loved ones. But hurry — this cookie-cutter cupid is only available through Valentine’s Day.

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You’re invited to a family & friends ds

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at the Bates Hall Theater YMCA Greater Boston 316 Huntington Ave

WHEN & WHERE Please join us for a spot of tea and delicious food on

), ). / (% / ',) *'&* '+ $ '*+'& OOrder your tickets online at onemission.org/teaparty by February 7, 2011.. Please email gina.powers@one-mission.org with any questions.


Adult $50; First child $38; Each additional child $30; Children under 2 years no charge. If you are unable to attend, and would like to make a donation please visit www.onemission.org

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!9&(*= :,-*8 -494,7&5-= <.11 '* there to capture the event and take casual portraits. 100 percent of the proceeds of 57.398 5:7(-&8*) ,4 94 3* .88.43 www.staceyhughes.com


Classes and Workshops for Ages 4 to 18...

...check our February Vacation Classes!

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www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org ++ 617-424-6634 x222 ++

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Look What We Found At baystateparent wants to know:

What’s your great iParty find? Every month, iParty will award a $75 iParty gift certificate to a baystateparent reader for sharing an unexpected find at our favorite party supply store.

Cristin Murphy of Worcester found Merckens chocolate at iParty. “This fine grade of chocolate has a better taste than the competition’s which tends to be similar to wax. I used my most recent bag of Merckens to make some cake pops which were out of this world! The chocolate comes in white, milk and dark.�

To be considered, send the name and description of your great iParty find to editor@baystateparent.com. Please include your name, address, phone and email.

Join the Birthday Club! Are you part of the iParty Birthday Club? Well, what are you waiting for?! Sign up today and start receiving iParty exclusive in-store savings and discounts, contest information, FUN party and project ideas along with so much more! Just go to www.iparty.com, complete the form and join the FUN today! BAYSTATEPARENT 57


CLASSIFIEDS The Budget Coach Budgets, Taxes and Bills, Oh My! Get your finances in shape! Meet with the Coach now to build your playbook for a successful financial future. It’s time to meet with the Coach! 508-792-9087 • thebudgetcoach@aol.com

Blow out clearance on name brand kids wear! Save 50 to 70% off retail. Exclusive limited time offer! Log onto www.a1kidsclothes.com for spectacular savings!

Surrogate Mothers Needed Established Surrogacy Program seeks loving women ages 21-43, to carry couples’ biological babies. You must be a non-smoker, and prior birth experience is required. Be a part of a miracle. The rewards are more than financial. For more information, please call 888-363-9457 or visit our website: www.reproductivepossibilities.com

Treat Yourself and Your Valentine to Our Sweet Tees

Peace Tree Apparel T-shirts and accessories that inspire us to be good to ourselves, one another and the world we share. Check out our Valentine Designs & more at:

www.peacetreeapparel.com Write us: Julie@peacetreeapparel.com or Sharon@peacetreeapparel.com Find us on Facebook: Peace Tree Apparel

Lose the Love Handles!


y 7th Februar th 4 March 1

508.579.6064 for more information CoachAlexis@Charter.net

www.AdventureBootCampLLC.com Your Life! Your Body! Your Adventure! 58 FEBRUARY2011

ADVERTISERS’DIRECTORY A Place to Grow...................................................... 24 Actor’s Shakespeare Project...................................... 6 Adventure Boot Camp LLC ........................................ 58 Applewild School .................................................... 50 Architects for Learning ............................................. 49 Attorney James Connors .......................................... 18 Barrett Family Wellness ........................................... 21 Batter Up Bakery .................................................... 34 Bay State Skating School ........................................ 19 Believe in You Model & Talent.................................. 45 Blossom Station ..................................................... 5 Boroughs JCC ......................................................... 9 Bright Horizons....................................................... 56 Broadway Across America ........................................ 27 Camp Birch Hill....................................................... 44 Canine Fence ......................................................... 4 Charles River Creative Arts Program ........................... 48 Charter .................................................................. 60 Children’s Dentists of Worcester, LLC .......................... 25 Children’s Garden at VNA ......................................... 20 Children’s Music Academy ........................................ 53 Claytime................................................................ 6 Coco Key Water Resort ............................................ 15 Concord Academy ................................................... 46 Consign My Closet .................................................. 30 Cornerstone Academy .............................................. 3 Cutie Patutie .......................................................... 31 Dance Prism........................................................... 23 Danforth Museum of Art .......................................... 48 Devereux Therapeutic Foster Cre ............................... 14 Dr. Bruce Fieldman ................................................. 7 Dr. Mel-Pediatric Dentistry ........................................ 45 Eagle Hill School..................................................... 47 Ecotarium .............................................................. 42 Elite Dance School .................................................. 49 Ellie Fund .............................................................. 33 Fallon Ready Med................................................... 54 Finagle A Bagel ...................................................... 13 Fitchbrug Art Museum ............................................. 23 Fran Friedman........................................................ 39 Games2U .............................................................. 40 Girl Scouts ............................................................. 47 Gregg Workman Photographic Art.............................. 23 Guild Of St. Agnes Daycare ...................................... 50 Gymboree.............................................................. 51 Hanover Theatre ..................................................... 59 Heavenly Hair Plus .................................................. 23

Open House Listings Nashoba Montessori

March 6 from 11am-1pm (snow date March 13 from 11am-1pm) 94 Main Street, Lancaster, MA 978-368-3555 www.nashobamontessori.com

Inn at East Hill Farm ............................................... 53 iParty .................................................................... 57 Judge Baker Children’s Center .................................. 49 Lakeshore .............................................................. 2 Lice Aunties ........................................................... 51 LifeTech ................................................................. 20 Mass Audubon Society ............................................ 44 McDonald’s ............................................................ 41 Michelle Carr Photography ....................................... 43 Mothers and Company ............................................ 6 Munroe Center for the Arts ....................................... 48 nashoba Montessori ................................................ 24 Nature’s Classroom ................................................. 39 New England Film Academy ..................................... 44 Next Generation Children’s Center Sudbury ................. 5 Nick Cerio’s Kenpo .................................................. 23 One Mission........................................................... 57 Pampered Chef....................................................... 34 Panera Bread ......................................................... 56 Patricia Brosniham Dance Center ............................... 13 Paula Swift Photography.......................................... 19 Peace Tree Apparel.................................................. 53 Ready Set Sew ...................................................... 42 Room to Bloom ...................................................... 14 Rye Airfield ............................................................ 49 Seeking Sitters ....................................................... 31 Seven Hills Charter School ....................................... 21 Shrewsbury Montessori School ................................. 9 Skribbles Learning Center......................................... 42 Steven Craig Magic Show ........................................ 28 Sudbury PTO .......................................................... 44 Summer Fenn/The Fenn School ............................... 48 TD Garden ............................................................. 15 TLC Christian Preschool ............................................ 13 The Brighton School ................................................ 27 The Gymnastics Place .............................................. 23 The Traveling Toy Box.............................................. 28 The Wildflower Inn.................................................. 23 UMass Memorial .................................................... 51 Wheelock Family Theatre......................................... 56 Wifesavers ............................................................. 21 Womens Health of Central Mass ............................... 55 Worcester JCC Early ................................................ 46 Worcester Kids’ Dentist ............................................ 40 Worcester Sharks .................................................... 39 YMCA Hopkinton .................................................... 44

Saint Spyridon Preschool

March 26 from 10am-12pm, March 27 from 12-2pm 102 Russell Street, Worcester, MA 508-752-5354 j.ward@spyridoncathedral.org

The Milc Room

February 24 from 3-5pm 111 Park Avenue, Worcester, MA 508-847-8615 www.themilcroom.com

Next Generation Children’s Centers February Open House, MondayFriday from 9am-5pm Andover, Beverly, Franklin, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Natick, Sudbury, Walpole, Westborough and Westford, MA 866-711-6422 www.NGCCenters.com

To add your Open House listing to baystateparent Magazine, contact Stephanie Pearl at StephanieP@baystateparent.com

Tickets On Sale Now!

VIP Party e! labl i a v a e g a k c Pa Includes: t, Meet & Gree re! o gift bag & m

Fri. March 11 & Sat. March 12 www.thomasandfriends.com/live Š2011 Gullane (Thomas) Limited. Š2011 Hit Entertainment Limited. HIT and the HIT logo are trademarks of HIT Entertainment Limited.

5IF)BOPWFS5IFBUSF PSH t 4)08 (7469) 2 Southbridge Street t Worcester, MA 01608 Discounts available for members, groups, kids, students, and WOO card holders Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, a registered not-for-proďŹ t 501(c)(3) organization, owns and operates The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, a registered not-for-proďŹ t 501(c)(3) organization, owns and operates The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.


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