Author Archives: Nichole S.

Phone Numbers

It came up in conversation the other day that most of us don’t know each other’s phone numbers.  True that.

I remember clearly a moment that happened YEARS ago……

A few years before our kids became a reality, a bunch of us were hanging out on July 3rd.  We were in my living room with some local friends as well as a few friends from Rockport who were home visiting for the 4th of July week.  On the 4th we all had different plans/obligations, but we wanted to meet up at the end of the day.  The questions arose, “Do we all have each others’ phone numbers so that we can track each other down?”   I, silly me, jumped up to retrieve a pad of “sticky notes” so that we could all swap numbers….   I walked back into the living room to see everyone else had whipped out their cell phones to add contacts.  I, of course, had a cell phone back then….but, hadn’t quite transitioned to the modern day way of easily saving phone numbers.  Much like some people now still jot down recipes from a website rather than taking a screen shot….or write down a child’s wish list from a store rather than snapping a photo of the toy or item.

So, back to phone numbers.  I can tell you without a second’s thought that my phone number from birth to age 9 was 774-7451.  My phone number from age 10-17 was 468-4544.  However, I can’t tell you my mother or father’s current cell phone number.  Nor can I tell you anyone else’s.  The only cell phone number I actually know is my husband’s and that is probably only because it is one number away from my own.

I do, however, know our dentist’s and doctor’s office phone numbers off the top of my head.  I could also order a pizza from two local take-out restaurants….because, I’m happy to report, they’re not simply saved in my contact list.

So, my question to you is….   In thinking of family members and good friends, how many phone numbers do you actually know?   Who could you call if you were to lose your contact list?





November Isn’t So Bad Either

While it will be no surprise that summer is my favorite season around here, I am kind of in love with how perfect and pretty downtown Rockport looks right now during my evening run/walks.

There were about 30 more window fronts that I wanted to snap quick photos of, but my furry brown partner wouldn’t have it last night.  It’ll have to be a work in progress.

Nichole’s Picks 11/21 + 11/22

While it feels like I was doing Schooner Festival posts about a minute ago, facts are it is time for Christmas and Holiday posts.


For me, the holidays are about tradition.  I also love to create some special days with the boys….and sometimes those days involve day trips or special trips into the city.  Later on, my holiday posts will be about the more local activities that we love to do each year as well.

Pick #1  

Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting and BLINK

Blink! Takes place from this weekend until January 3rd, but the Tree Lighting Spectacular happens just once….  and that is Saturday, November 21st at 7:00 pm.

Read more HERE!


Entertainment Schedule:
2 pm The Revels Singers
3 pm Women of the World presented by Scullers Jazz Club
4- 6 pm Dress Rehearsal for the Tree Lighting Spectacular
6 pm Amy and the Engine presented by Hard Rock Café
7 pm Faneuil Hall Tree Lighting Spectacular Live Show
8 pm The Sugarbabies Band

Pick #2

Christmas at The Newport Mansions

November 21, 2015 to January 3, 2016

Read All about the Holiday Tour HERE!

The glitter of gold and the sparkle of silver will dazzle you as you tour three magnificent mansions decked out in Yuletide finery. Music, tours, and spectacular decorations highlight the celebration of Christmas at the Newport Mansions.


Photo from

All three houses will be decorated and open daily for tours from Saturday, November 21, 2015 through Sunday, January 3, 2016.   The Breakers and The Elms open daily at 9 a.m., Marble House opens at 10 a.m.   The last tour admission at all three houses is at 4 p.m., and the houses & grounds close at 5 p.m.

A Winter Passport ticket providing daytime admission to all 3 houses is $29.49 for adults, $9 for children 6-17. Children under 6 are admitted free.  Regular Newport Mansions daytime tour tickets remain valid through the Christmas season as well.

Pick #3

Events at MarketStreet, Holiday Stroll


November 22nd, 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Join us for our official kick off of the Holiday Season! Enjoy delicious samples, Holiday Caroling, Tree Lighting, a special visit from our favorite guest and more!

Christmas Tree lighting with special guest promptly at 6:00 PM

Entertainment from Victorian Carolers, Voices of Hope, Lynnfield Middle School, and the Lynnfield HIgh School Band

The skating rink will be open too!  Not to mention the plethora of great restaurants and places to grab a quick drink. And then, there’s the shopping.

Events at MarketStreet Lynnfield

Pick #4

Mayor’s Holiday Specials 

There are so many great options in the City of Boston during the holidays.  Many of which, however, are fairly expensive.

Make sure to check out the Mayor’s Holidays Specials for deals and discounts on over 100 shows!


Click HERE often to see new discounts for holiday favorites and new events.  



For a comprehensive list of family activities visit our friends at North Shore Kid

Assembly Row

If you haven’t been to Assembly Row in Somerville, you might want to consider it.

For the kiddos, there is the LegoLand Discovery Center and the AMC Assembly Row 12.

For the grown-ups, there is some great outlet shopping and there are some great restaurants and  bars. With more than 30 stores and almost 15 places to grab a quick bite to eat or a fantastic meal, Assembly Row is a destination not unlike MarketStreet in Lynnfield…only with outlets rather than full-price stores.

On Sunday my fantastic brother offered to take my boys and my nephew to see the Peanuts movie.  While they hunkered down in the theater with tubs of popcorn, my mother, sister, and I did a bit of shopping and had a great lunch at the River Bar.

Learn all about Assembly Row HERE!



A LOT of Hockey was Played!

Thanks to the large number of fans who made a point to stop by and watch some fantastic hockey get played over the course of the weekend.  I even spotted the Mayor in the crowd at one point!

The Sal Grasso Memorial Westmount Friendship Tournament was a huge success…and not just because Cape Ann won.  Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that fact helps. If that sounds mean, check out the photo below that clearly shows that Westmount has been victorious a painful 18 out of 22 years…with Cape Ann only keeping the trophy safe for four.  But, not this year!  Because it is a friendship tournament and we have nothing but respect for Westmount and our long-standing friendship with them, I will simply state the facts.  At the end of the 24 games of play this weekend, Cape Ann hung up their skates with 16 wins, 4 losses, and 4 ties.

MUCH more important than the final tally is the fact that some friendly and topnotch hockey was played.  Cape Ann teams clocked serious hours at the rink to support other teams (as did their Canadian counterparts for sure), players shook hands, hugged, cheered, and stood quiet and still while each other’s National Anthems were played at the beginning of each and every game.

And, while the children were blissfully unaware, it was impossible to keep Paris, France out of one’s thoughts as our anthems played on…while chaos was simultaneously unfolding across the Atlantic.  Likewise, with hands on hearts every 60 minutes or so all day long on Saturday, it was hard not to think of the hearts that were breaking across the way.

This tournament is about friendship…about camaraderie…about respect…and some healthy competition.  Shared between two communities far, far away from each other, who share a passion for a sport.

While I have hundreds of action shots from the weekend… it is shots like these that summarize what the weekend was all about.

Congratulations to ALL of the players!  While you thought you were just playing hockey this weekend…you showed us much, much more.

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Every Kid in a Park. Pack Your Bags 4th Graders…and Bring Your Families Too

It occurred to me yesterday that some of you may not know about this.

4th graders all over the country can get free admission to National Parks for the duration of the school year thanks to the White House Administration launching the “Every Kid in a Park Pass.”

Fourth graders nationwide can visit the new Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides free access to students and their families to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year and grants free entry for fourth graders and three accompanying adults (or an entire car for drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.

Check out the White House link introducing the program HERE


There are so many great places in Massachusetts and certainly New England!


“Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans”



Spring 2016 AAU Try-outs: MCW Starz


Anyone who knows basketball, knows Michael Carter-Williams.  If you have somehow missed the ride….allow me to catch you up….  Home grown local basketball icon, turned Syracuse Orange star, drafted 11th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, 2014 NBA Rookie of the Year, and now Milwaukee Bucks Point Guard.  What is cooler than even all of that, is that he grew up attending and then coaching a basketball camp started by his own amazingly talented mother and step-father.  Now, your daughter can have the opportunity to play for the MCW Starz Team. Talk about a not-to-miss experience.

Check out this great video where Michael Carter-Williams, the Milwaukee Bucks Point Guard, talks about his family-run MCW Starz Basketball Camp


This past spring was the first MCW STARZ AAU Season. They had 11 players on the 11th grade elite team and all 8 juniors (3 were 10th graders) are going on to play basketball in college 5 scholarships, 1 Ivy league and 2 will play at D3 great academic schools!

They attended exposure events that showcased their players at the right level!

This fall they added two teams and this spring they would like 1 team for every grade, 4th-11th.

Tryouts this SUNDAY!  A Fantastic Opportunity for players!  

Michael Carter-Williams (MCW) Starz
Spring 2016 Girls AAU Try-outs
Grades 4th-11th

Date: November 15th, 2015

Time: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th Grades

8th & 9th Grades

10th & 11th Grades

Location: Gordon College Bennett Center
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, Ma 01984

$25 Try-out Fee
No pre-registration required please show up 20 minutes early to register

Email or call

See the link HERE


Nichole’s Picks 11/14 + 11/15

Disclaimer…..  my 1st pick is totally selfish…which I rarely (if ever) do in my “Pick’s Posts”.   So, come watch my son and many, many fantastic members of the absolutely fabulous Cape Ann Youth Hockey Program play hockey.

Pick #1:  The Sal Grasso Memorial Tournament

Cape Ann Youth Hockey will proudly welcome teams from Westmount, Quebec, Canada to play a weekend long tournament at the Dorothy Talbot Memorial Rink at O’Malley.

Come show some Cape Ann Pride and support these boys and girls!  It would be so great to see the stands full.  Shameless plug… Thatcher’s team, Mite 1 (last year’s Valley League Champions) kicks off the tournament at 4:50 on Friday.

CAYH - Westmount Teams 2015

Pick #2:  Neverland Theatre’s Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

The Neverland Theatre Company always does a fantastic job!

Click HERE for more information!


Pick #3:  Wee Secret Home Making at Ravenswood

Using only all natural materials found on the forest floor, create your own secret home. Elves, gnomes or fairies will love them! Even our littlest wildlife friends will enjoy checking out your wee secret home. Wear your faery frock and dance along the children’s trail with wee secret homes!

Head to the Trustees Website HERE to read more!


Please see our friends at North Shore Kid for a more comprehensive list of activities

In the Heart of the Sea

While I’m not often a fan of the movie version of some of my favorite books, this is one that I can’t wait to see.

If it is good enough for Nathaniel Philbrick, it is certainly good enough for me!  And, with Ron Howard at the wheel, it really can’t go wrong.

Release Date scheduled for December 11th.

In the Heart of the Sea Movie Click HERE

Read More about the book HERE

I Don’t Even Think Super Nanny or Mary Poppins Are Up For This Challenge

I spent a minute poking around a couple of weeks ago thinking that maybe, once soccer ended and we were down to one afternoon/weekend sport for each child, I’d look into getting a second job a few evenings a week.  It seemed incredibly daunting to think of actually working MORE and being home LESS, but I thought maybe something perfect is out there and there was no harm in looking.

After just a couple of minutes, I found this.

Private Family – ___________MA
$25 an hour

(Hmmm….sounds, interesting, right?)

This private family is an equal opportunity employer. Employment is focused on supporting and helping the family manage a myriad of activities among all family members.

(I can do that! I already do that!)
Key characteristics for employment with the family are flexibility, discretion, trustworthiness, enthusiasm, anticipatory thinking, strong organizational skills and helpfulness. The family hopes that the working environment will be both challenging and rewarding, particularly as one develops skills and builds upon experiences for long-term career goals.

(OK. I’m with you….sounds realistic!)
The position of Household Assistant directly reports to the Estate Manager. It is a full-time, hourly position. Daily work hours and specific responsibilities may vary day to day so it is important that the Household Assistant has flexibly in their schedule. Longer hours might be required from time to time as well occasional overnights and some weekends.

(Ummm, sounds a bit more time consuming than what I have available, but maybe I’ll read on for kicks)
Job Objectives and Responsibilities
The Household Assistant will be expected to provide exceptional care for the family, children and household pets as well as manage various aspects of the home.
(Yikes…I’m not sure I even do that for my own family)
Family Management

  • Responsible for all aspects of family activities, by facilitating activities outside of the home, and creating a positive environment
  • Preparation for daily activities and events
  • Coordinate the calendar forchildren schools, appointments, and activities
  • Work closely with family and Estate Manager on weekly and monthly calendar with a specific focus on the resources and time to accomplish the kids and the family goals
  • Support around travel planning and packing organization
  • Support the family around major events, holidays, and activities
  • Grocery shopping, including the finalization of a meal calendar in consultation with family, and preparation for some children’s meals
  • Manage household inventories and provide support to the Estate Manager to ensure that supplies are up to date
  • Perform daily errands including dry cleaning, returns, meeting with vendors, and miscellaneous activities
  • Assist in the care of pets, including both cats and dogs
  • Provide support to the Estate Manager in the oversight of the primary home, as well as three vacation properties
  • Help coordinate dinners and events with family and friends at the home from catering and decorations to invitations and clean up
  • Monitor and report on all household correspondence in the form of mail and voicemail

(Wait….What????   Is that even humanly possible??)

The Household Assistant must be willing to accomplish a multitude of tasks throughout the day. An ability to work in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment is critical. Strong communication skills, prioritization, and organization are critical to job performance.
We would be excited to find someone who has culinary skills and enjoys the process of meal planning, preparation, and occasional cooking; service experience is a plus. This is a great job for someone with past Nanny experience or other household service experience, and wants to move to the next level. One must also be willing to develop constructive working relationships and to collaborate with other members of staff. The ideal person will always remain discreet and cooperative in the accomplishment of job responsibilities.

(and…..I’m out.)

Job Type: Full-time

Salary: $25.00 /hour

Local candidates only

Required experience:

  • Private Service: 2 years
  • (26 hands to juggle with.  And…no life of your own.)

Required license or certification:

  • Drivers License
  • (Sainthood.  Or at least a  Master’s in Cloning)

I have to admit, while totally overwhelmed by the job description, I was also a bit sad.  I thought, What a phenomenal job opportunity for some spunky 25 year-old go getter!

But then I thought… Is that really a job for ONE person?  I mean really.  Who can actually do all of that?

And then, forgive me please, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my next thought was… And what’s left for the parents to do?  

And then I felt bad because I thought…Well, maybe there’s only one parent and they are extremely busy working to provide (the main estate and 3 vacation homes) for the children.  Or maybe they are volunteering like crazy for a multitude of charitable organizations!

And then, one of my last thoughts was….If I was ever sooo wealthy that I could afford four homes, an estate manager, to throw (seemingly) lavish and catered events, (seemingly) significant holiday decorating, enough travel to require assistance in packing, vendors (?) that need to be met with, a chef, a nanny, and more…..  Couldn’t I also simply afford to work less so that I wouldn’t have to post such a GIANT job description for someone else to do in my home?  

And, then I caught sight of all the dust bunnies taunting me from all corners of the living room, knowing they are safe and sound for at least 5 more days until I might have time to grab the vacuum, and I thought….sigh…maybe I would. 

I’m honestly not judging…just wondering.

So, This is What I’m Up Against

I came home from work the other day at 4:30, changed my clothes, unpacked lunch box containers, put them in the sink to rinse, and then went to hop back into my Jeep to head back to Beverly for a guest lecturer at school.

I spied the mail truck a few houses away so I decided to wait for it…as this is the season that packages begin to arrive that are not meant for the boys’ eyes.  And, by that, I mean Christmas presents, nothing shady.

Thatch and Finn began to play street hockey while they waited to see me off.  It took about 5 seconds for Finn to get mad because “he had the puck first” and to mock (maybe) charge at Thatcher.  After a quick lecture about “chilling out” they went back to firing on goal. As I uttered the words, “a few shots each and then you’re back inside to shower” Finn took a shot…and in doing so hit Thatcher right in the forehead with his stick.  Totally an accident, but still.

Thatch did some frantic hopping around in pain and ran to me.  Without looking much I immediately pushed my hands over the spot where he had been holding his.  I guess, in hindsight, I was expecting a giant egg…but, I was wrong.  At the same moment, the mail truck pulled up.  It was when I looked over my shoulder and waved “hello” in the midst of the drama, that I noticed all the blood on my hands…and running over Thatcher’s eye and along the bridge of his nose in a nice little river.  I laugh now as I think of the mail woman saying, “Have a nice night” as if we were a perfectly normal sight.

In addition to the blood and Thatcher’s moans, Finn had immediately burst into tears and started his declarations of, “I SWEAR it was an accident.”  As it was soon determined that we’d be heading to the hospital, Finn got more hysterical, and Thatch told him, “It’s ok, it was an accident.  I love you.”  The best.

Time hop to a trip to the ER and a mere 4 stitches later.  We were home before 8:00…I obviously skipped the lecture.  As we walked in the door, Finn gave Thatcher the ice cream sundae that he had made for him.  The best.

I sent them off to bed, but Thatcher was worried about his stitches opening in bed, so he had trouble going to sleep.  Finn, well..being Finn, who knows.  Finn had trouble staying in bed and got up no fewer than 7 times for a variety of unimportant reasons. While the grown-up in me knew he was obviously scared about Thatcher’s injury and by the role he played in it….I still found myself frustrated the last time he got up.  I was exhausted too….and still had LOTS to do before my head would hit the pillow.

At my whit’s end I resorted to a guilt trip.  And, no, I’m not proud of it.  While the hit to the head was indeed an accident.  JUST prior to the whack, Finn was actually charging with the intention of giving Thatcher a smack.  Luckily we had intervened.  But…there was still a lesson to be learned by the whole event.

I announced, “Enough already.  We’ve had quite a night and you are already walking on thin water.  If you know what I mean.”

Of course, the little bugger retorted,  “No. No I don’t.  Maybe if you had said walking on thin ice, I’d get it.”

And THAT is what I’m up against, my friends.

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Huge Thanks to Rockport House of PIzza

Who stepped up to feed 20 kids for free on Wednesday night?  Rockport House of Pizza, that’s who.

Thatcher’s soccer team was sponsored by Rockport H.O.P this year and they were kind enough to invite that team, along with the opposing team from their end-of-season game, down for dinner.  Way to make a difference and provide these kids with some great time to bond, celebrate, and create memories.

Nichole’s Picks 11/7 and 11/8

Pick #1:  Apple and Wine Festival: Russell Orchards


Apples and Wine Festival November 7th & 8th!
Featuring: Wine tasting*, Live music, Hands-on cider-pressing demonstrations, Make-Your-Own Apple Pie, Apple samples, Hayrides, as well as loads of apple goodies made fresh in our bakery including hot apple crisp and cider donut caramel sundaes.
*Wine Tasting consists of several offerings of our award winning fruit wines & hard ciders, complemented by special gourmet food pairings, along with our souvenir glass and thank you gift. Reservations strongly recommended for Wine Tastings. Please call the store to reserve a time slot for your group.


Pick #2: 29th Annual Boston Christmas Festival at the Seaport World Trade Center 


November 6, 7, and 8, 2015.

Friday:  noon – 7pm

Saturday:  10am-6pm

Sunday:  10am-5pm

With something for everyone this event is not-to-be-missed if you are ready to get your Christmas on.  Yikes.

Offering everything a holiday shopper could desire under one magnificent roof. The annual Christmas Festival, features the distinctive work of over 300 master American craftsmen.  Bargain hunters, as well as those with extravagant tastes, will find an endless array of gorgeous home accessories, designer fashions, artisan jewelry, handcrafted holiday décor, tempting gourmet speciality foods and one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts unavailable elsewhere.



Pick #3:  From the Forest: Wreath Making for Kids

Appleton Farms, Ipswich


Get into the holiday season by creating your own evergreen wreath! Kids will craft their 16″ wreaths by hand using local greenery, winter berries, fallen cones, holly leaves, ribbon, and more! Materials and instruction included. Parents are encouraged to attend but wreath making is for kids only please. (Checkout our adult workshop as well!) Ages 8 and up.

Saturday, November 7  from 10:00 am – 12 noon
Member Child: $15,   Nonmember Child: $25

Please go HERE to learn more and for contact info to register

For a comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

Let Your Kids Try Hockey for FREE


On Saturday, November 7th, USA Hockey and 500 local associations across the country will host Try Hockey For Free Day, presented by KraftHeinz! Participating locations encourage kids, ages 4 to 9, to come try youth hockey as part of “Come Play Hockey Month.”    All locations will have limited equipment available for use.

Head HERE to read all about this great opportunity


Young Artists

I don’t usually do this, but I couldn’t resist!  How gorgeous are these drawings done by some of the Middle School students at the school where I teach?  Their art, based upon local art images, capture some lovely waterfront scenes.

Check out Harborlight-Stoneridge Montessori School


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Those Wind Turbines

It has been a couple of years….close to 3 actually, I think…and we have grown accustomed to how those wind turbines look from different angles all around town.  I’d say that we almost don’t even notice them anymore, but that’d be a lie.  We do.  We still notice them.  Actually, my boys notice them enough to pay attention each weekday morning at about 7:25 and most afternoons around 4:45 to see how many (if any) are “spinning”.

They’ve been asking me off and on, for a long time, to explain why sometimes none are moving, sometimes just one, and sometimes 2 or even all 3 are in operation.

I’ve guessed that they operate as needed.  But I haven’t been able to satisfy their curiosity completely.  Does a person actually turn them on as necessary?  Do they turn themselves on?  Is there a schedule we have not yet noticed?  How much does weather actually play a role?  What’s the deal?

I’d love some help from our highly knowledgable FOBs!

Help a kid (or two) out if you’re in the know and have a second.

Thanks in advance!


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