Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium

Section 4, Row EE. Notice the grassy lounge area in left field.

Section 4, Row EE. Notice the grassy lounge area in left field.

Although we’ve lived in Providence for nearly four years, we only just made it to our first Pawtucket Red Sox (aka PawSox) game this May. Clearly, we are not the most devout sports fanatics.


Our two-year-old may not have been that attentive on the game itself, but she was a big fan of the stadium snacks.

As it turns out, McCoy Stadium is an ideal size, seating 10,000 people, making it large enough to feel the fans’ excitement while being small enough to actually see the game. And, the the general admission prices are quite reasonable at $8 per adult and $5 per child. It may have taken us a few years to get there, but I’m quite sure we’ll be back again this season.

Pawtucket Red Sox

How to Build a Forest at the Granoff Center for the Arts

Becoming part of the installation "How to Build a Forest"

Becoming part of the installation “How to Build a Forest”

I often find contemporary art installations a bit baffling, but I nonetheless decided to take my daughters to the “How to Build a Forest” installation at the Granoff Center for the Arts. So last night, the three of us walked in to a quiet room filled with spectators in seats observing diaphanous trees slowly rising and partially filled rubber balls being rolled around the room. We received a few instructions (from Brown student and filmmaker Laura Colella, no less)–remove your shoes, stay on the wood floor, and be careful what you touch since the forest is delicate. These rules seemed simple enough except, of course, if you happen to be two- or five-years-old.  I politely took a seat and would have liked the girls do the same. Instead they improvised–taking on the roles of animals in the forest, crawling on all fours and making strange noises while (fortunately) still respecting the forest structures. As it turns out, they became part of the show. Perhaps that’s the point.

Note: Although 2/28/13 marked the end of Lisa D’Amour, Katie Pearl and Shawn Hall’s “How to Build a Forest” exhibit, you can attend a future Granoff Center exhibit or art installation. See more about “How to Build a Forest” at

Festival Ballet: Little Red Riding Hood

Festival Ballet's most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Festival Ballet’s most recent performance included an amended version of Little Red Riding Hood. Photo By Matt Francis. Design by Fatoumata Camara. In this Photo: FBP Company Apprentice Mady Issa.

“The seats are in the fourth row, is that all right?” the woman over the phone inquired when I bought my tickets for Festival Ballet’s production of Little Red Riding Hood. As it turns out, there are only four rows in the theater, and as such, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Located at their studio space (where they also offer classes for adults and children of all levels), this small theater offers a perfect venue for an intimate show where children especially can feel close enough to the action to remain engaged.

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

Mushroom Costume. Design by Brianne Benack. Photo by Matt Francis. In this photo: FBP Company Trainee Eugenia Zinovieva

You won’t be wowed with fancy sets here, but you will be impressed by skillful performances by a dozen talented ballet dancers. For Little Red Riding Hood, the theater partnered with RISD’s Junior Cut & Sew Studio to produce some wonderfully intricate costumes. To make the show less fearsome, they amended the story–the hooded dancing wolf escapes from Central Park Zoo and wants to eat Little Red Riding Hood’s cookies, not the girl herself.

As if that’s not enough to convince you, the show concludes with milk and cookies from Seven Stars Bakery, along with a chance to meet and talk with the dancers.

Although the performances of Little Red Riding Hood are already sold out, the Festival Ballet line-up includes several other upcoming shows for both children and adults.

Festival Ballet
825 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Dok’s Deli: House-Smoked Meats in Providence

September 2013 Update: Dok’s Deli announced that they would be closing — extremely sad news since they had undoubtedly the best sandwiches I’ve had in Providence (not to mention the best homemade potato chips I’ve ever had). Here’s hoping that they will open again soon in a new location.

"The Pastramisseur" house-smoked pastrami with brown mustard on rye.

“The Pastramisseur” house-smoked pastrami with brown mustard on rye.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted for lunch–until I arrived at Dok’s Deli. The aroma of house-smoked meat had me as soon as we walked in the door. Dok’s smokes their own corned beef, pastrami, turkey, chicken and salmon–all of which you can also purchase by the pound. Since my deli order usually consists of a tuna fish sandwich, I asked to taste their corned beef and pastrami. Geoff found this amusing (even though it was his idea), but the Dok’s Deli guys gladly complied.

After my taste test, I chose the house-smoked pastrami on rye; Geoff ordered the reuben. Both were excellent and came with perfectly browned and salted homemade potato chips (had I known that, I wouldn’t have ordered a side of fries, but we ate them anyway). They even brine their own pickles.

A side of handcut fries with your sandwich and chips?

A side of handcut fries with your sandwich and chips?

Next time, Geoff plans to get a pound of their gravlax to go. I’ll be getting the Wedge Salad made with homemade blue cheese dressing and house-cured bacon. My guess is that we won’t make it through this weekend without them.

Dok’s Deli
146 Ives Street
Providence, RI

Rock Spot Climbing: Rock climbing for all levels (and almost all ages)

Rock climbing–it’s for kids too.

It was as if she’d been rock climbing her whole life. That said, she is only five. Today, my daughter kept up with the best adult climbers as she adeptly made her way up the 30-foot climbing wall at Rock Spot Climbing in Lincoln over half a dozen times. Using top roped climbing, she was harnessed into a belay device to protect against a sudden fall and create a smooth, slow (and apparently fun) ride down.

When my husband asked her before bed if she’d like to go back, she said yes, she’d love to go back tomorrow.

Rock Spot Climbing
100 Higginson Ave
Lincoln, RI

1174 Kingstown Rd
South Kingstown, RI

They also have the largest indoor bouldering facility in New England at:
67 Sprague St
Boston, MA


Kreatelier: Sewing Workshops for Children

The proud owner of a handmade doll–that is, made by her very own hands.

Soccer, gymnastics, piano — these are the afterschool activities that may typically come to mind. But sewing?

Since Geoff bought himself a sewing machine last year, our five-year-old daughter has taken an interest in a new type of arts–the material kind. So for her birthday, she received a private sewing workshop from Kreatelier’s Alexis Cormier. When I left her there with Geoff, I figured she’d make a little hand-puppet or something. Instead, I arrived an hour later to discover she had nearly completed a doll in her own likeness, down to the curly hair.

Of course, in addition to the sewing workshops for children and adults, Kreatelier is also a store selling locally handmade bags, pillows, fabric jewelry, clothes and other items. And for anyone not interested in making a doll from scratch, those are for sale too–complete with custom clothes and shoes.

804 Hope Street
Providence, RI

La Crêperie

Digging into the second crêpe — butter and sugar.

We are a crêpe family. We usually have a stack of them in the refrigerator ready to be filled on request: egg and cheese, butter and sugar, banana and chocolate.

Inside La Crêperie, on a tiny street off Thayer.

But this morning the request came, and we couldn’t fill it, so we went to La Crêperie, which serves up traditional French crêpes–wheat or buckwheat–composed with your choice of savory or sweet fillings. They also have Belgian waffles, wraps, salads, and smoothies–none of which we’ve tried yet. Like I said, we’re a crêpe family, and judging by the stream of customers this morning, we’re not the only ones.

La Crêperie
82 Fones Alley
Providence, RI, 02906

Apple Picking and Brunch at Knight Farm

Enjoying an apple straight off the tree.

Each year we try to find a new farm for apple picking in addition to our old favorites. In past years, we’ve discovered Jaswell’s Farm, Hill Orchards, and Sweet Berry Farm. This year, we decided to try Knight Farm, founded in 1800.

Although many farms have stands or shops (Jaswell’s and Sweet Berry Farms are my favorites), few have restaurants. When we arrived this morning, it was clear this was a popular place for brunch and with good reason. It’s certainly nothing fancy, but they serve simple comfort food in a charming and rustic atmosphere. I ordered an egg sandwich, and I was not disappointed.

Knight’s apple orchards feel relatively compact to some of the others (they have about 40 acres versus Jaswell’s 100 acres), but really how many apple trees do you need? We had no trouble picking our own crisp, tasty apples. Of course, the real work came later — peeling apples, rendering lard (from Pat’s Pastured Pork), rolling the crust, and baking the pie. Not that I did any of that. But I did eat a piece of the resulting pie, and it was delicious.

Knight Farm and Restaurant
1 Snake Hill Road
North Scituate, RI

Also see Farm Fresh RI’s Pick Your Own Guide near Providence.

Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard at Roger Williams Park Zoo

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On a hot city day, there’s nothing quite like a mini water park. Now, in addition to a handful of others in Providence, we’ve got one at the zoo.

I’ve typically steered clear of the zoo in the summer, but the addition of Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard at Roger Williams Park Zoo has definitely changed that. Kids can cool off in a variety of sprinklers, ponds and other water play, making the zoo a much less oppressive experience.  

One tip — when you plan your visit, check the zoo hours. We didn’t and arrived only 40 minutes before the 4 pm closing. When you visit the zoo, it’s nice to have time to see some animals too.

Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI
(first Saturday of every month free to Providence residents)

East Bay Bike Path: A Family Ride

Getting ready for a ride on the trailer bike.

As you may have guessed from the ratio of blog posts on restaurants versus sports and recreation, we are not the most athletic of families. But inspired by a recent “bike to school” day, we decided to purchase a trailer bike, which enables our 5-year-old to feel like she’s riding a regular bike (and can even help peddle) but leaves the steering and the braking to the adult rider.

Early Sunday morning, we loaded the bikes on the car rack, ate some oatmeal while wearing our helmets (I’m not kidding, although our 18-month-old Lucy refused to wear hers), and then drove to Warren to park the car and get on our bikes. Of course, you can bike fairly easily to the path from Providence, but we wanted to make our first family ride low-stress by starting directly on the path itself.

There was just one small problem, and her name was Lucy. She screamed, kicked and swung her arms as Geoff attempted to get her into the baby seat on the back of his bike. I didn’t have any more luck than he when I tried, although as it turned out I had less sympathy. Determined to at least attempt a ride on the path, I wrestled her into the seat, got on Geoff’s bike, and rode around the parking lot — and incredibly, she quieted down. So we decided we would switch bikes for this ride — I’d ride Geoff’s and he’d ride mine. More screaming as we strapped on her helmet and locked down her feet,  but again once we started riding, there was complete silence.

After our ride on the East Bay Bike Path.

We kept our first attempt short, but it was nonetheless a peaceful and scenic ride along the water — we started in Warren and rode into Bristol and then headed back. It wasn’t until I was writing this that I learned that the East Bay Bike Path is just one of the paths in the East Coast Greenway’s plan to “create a contiguous bike path from Maine to Florida”. Well, we’re not quite ready for that yet, but you never know…

Greenways Alliance of RI

East Coast Greenway, RI

East Bay Greenway map in RI

East Providence Bicycle
414 Warren Ave.
East Providence, RI