Author Archives: Nichole S.

Fish Out of Water

Not only could Codzilla be called a fish out of water, but it looks like a fish out of water sitting in our very own Gloucester Marine Railways.

I took the boys for a ride in Boston Harbor on Codzilla last summer.  They enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as crazy fast and fun as they expected.

If you find yourself interested in taking a trip, READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE

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Nichole’s Picks 4/30 + 5/1

Pick #1:  53rd Annual Gem and Mineral Show

APRIL 30  and MAY 1, 2016

The Topsfield Fair Grounds, Route 1 Topsfiend, Ma.

Read all about it HERE

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Pick #2:  8-Mile Hike “The Long Way Around” at the Crane Estate

Read All About it and REGISTER HERE

A little pricier than most of my picks, but what a great opportunity for a beautiful day spent outside before the weather gets too hot.

Saturday, April 30th 10:00-2:00  $28 for members and $35 for nonmembers

This hike explores the wild wonders of the Crane Estate!  We’ll launch our long walk at the Cedar Point Trail and follow it to the Ipswich River, then meander along the beach and through seldom-traveled paths to the trailhead at the Crane Wildlife Refuge. We’ll wander the dunes to Essex Bay, then make our way along the backside of Crane Beach to reach the Essex River. A bag lunch will be delivered to us at the approximate halfway point, and will give us the sustenance we’ll need to finish the hike! Come prepared for a leisurely long-way-around walk of about 8 miles.

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Pick #3:  The Arnold Arboretum

Although I haven’t been in a couple of year, I truly LOVE this place.  Such a gorgeous slice of heaven, right within the city limits, that makes you feel as though you are miles and miles from it all. With more than 280 acres to explore,  you’ll certainly be able to make a day of it.

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READ ALL ABOUT THE ARNOLD ARBORETUM HERE

Explore on your own or take a guided tour throughout the property

This Saturday also brings the event, “Maples, Roses, and More (Oh, My!)”

1:00-2:30pm, April 30, 2016 Arnold Arboretum

Hear about Maples, Roses, and More on this tour of plant families, their origins, and the marvel of springtime.

Arboretum Guided Tour

Experience the Arboretum in a new way–take a free guided tour with a knowledgeable volunteer docent. Tour topics range from Highlights and History to Landscape for Learning and special themes on Olmsted, Arboretum collections, and more.

For more information and possible cancellations due to weather, call the Visitor Center at 617 384-5209.

Location: Hunnewell Building, unless otherwise publicized.

Tours last around 90 minutes, and are geared toward adults. There is no need to register.

Tour Schedule:
The general free tour season runs from April 16 through October 30, 2016. We offer tours Saturdays at 10:30am, and Sundays at 1:00pm. Additional 10:30am weekday tours are offered on Mondays and Thursdays, late April through June, September and October, except holidays.

 

As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

The Other Side of the Rainbow

So, I may not describe this very well and some of you may even feel the urge to comment to explain that the moment I am about to share is actually impossible.  And, I won’t be at all surprised, because, until the other day, I would have assumed it was impossible too.

Please do, if you’re in the know, share the science behind this!

The definition of a rainbow from one source is, “an arch of colors formed in the sky in certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.”

So, the question I have is…. Is it possible to actually go through a rainbow?  Because, this is what happened the other day…

While driving home from Florida, somewhere in Virginia, the rain started to come down heavier than I have ever (EVER) experienced before.  Sadly, at that moment, I happened to be driving.  When I say that there were moments that I could not see a single thing out of my windshield, I swear I am not exaggerating even one little bit!  There were moments that I lost sight of all other cars, the side of the highway, and even the painted lines that divided the lanes of the highway.  It was for sure the most scared I have ever been behind the wheel.

Thankfully, it was relatively short lived.  The torrential rains lasted only a couple of minutes…two different times.  When the second downpour came to an end, cars were pulled over in random spots all along the highway.  Some cars had pulled into the breakdown lane and stopped, some had pulled off into the grassy median between north and south bound traffic, and some had pulled over just before exit/on ramps.  I consider it an absolute miracle that no accidents occurred within our immediate vicinity, but I am certain that they must have happened elsewhere.  How could they not?

So, again, when the rain had come to an end, there was, of course, a pretty spectacular rainbow.  At first, it was off to our right, but the tree line was blocking it enough that getting a good photo was impossible.  After a moment, however, it was right smack in front of us.  I asked my husband to quickly get a photo, but, I swear, no sooner than he held the phone up, the rainbow was gone.  It appeared as if we actually drove right through the rainbow.  It was there……and then, right before my eyes, it was gone.  I wish I had had the where with all to turn around and see if it was actually behind us, but I didn’t.  So…did we actually drive through it?   Did it just disappear coincidently at that very moment?  I guess I always thought that, much like the horizon, you could never actually get to a rainbow….that it was always kind of just out there…in the sky.

So, I welcome all explanations….but, be kind.

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One Year Later…Still Holds True

I wrote this letter and used it as a post a little over a year ago.  For a few different reasons, I’m feeling the need to repost it.

Here’s the original post….but below is what the contents of the letter said…

Dear Future Teachers, Instructors, and Coaches of my Sons,

I’d like to take a minute now to thank you for the hours, energy, and love that you will undoubtedly be giving to my children in the future.  I know that it is not always an easy job that you have, but it is one that you accepted, however long ago, because you have the best interest of children, and now my children, at heart.   Many of you have simply volunteered…and don’t even get paid…and all of you spend a large portion of your personal time thinking about, worrying about, or being excited about things that have to do with the classes you teach, the lessons you give, or the practices that you run.

I know, no matter how much you love what you do, the down side is that your job will sometimes require that you make difficult decisions.  I know that those decisions will sometimes even cause you sleepless nights, a heavy heart, and worry, and pain.

I’d like to tell you now…that it is OK.  It is OK to not pick my son.

It is OK to not call on him when his hand in raised as high as possible in class, because you have 20 students and they all want to make you happy by knowing the right answer or sharing their thoughts.

I know that even that one silly decision….who to call on?….can be excruciating…each and every time.  I know that you make a mental note…and try to call on them all the same amount each week, but it is still so hard to watch their hands fall disappointedly back into their laps.

It is OK, if my son ends up not being able to carry a tune, that he does not receive a solo in the Spring Concert…no matter how much he wants one. You know what? Even if he can sing, but isn’t one of the best, it is still ok.  I know that you’ll find other ways to encourage him and make him feel proud. I know that you’ll let him know how important his role in the chorus is.

It is OK, if my son has trouble finding his inner actor, to not pick him for a leading role.  He may be crushed for a minute, but I know that you need to do what is right for the other children and the school play.  He’ll understand, because he knows  that everyone has strengths.  We will encourage him to find another way to shine and tell him how important it is to play that small supporting role.  The play couldn’t go on if all characters weren’t cast…no matter how big or small.  After all.

I image that my son will enjoy working on science fair projects each spring.  But, you know what, when it comes time to pick just 5 projects to send to regionals, it is OK to pick others…and not his.  His hard work and the pride that he feels when he presents his experiment should be enough for him.  And, it will motivate him all that much more the following year.  And, trust me, I know how hard it will be for you to pick just 5.  I know that you wish someone else could make those decisions.

I want you to know now that it is OK if his essay is not submitted to the writing contest.  Even though I’m sure he’ll try so hard to be chosen and want so desperately to impress you, sometimes you have to just pick one…and inevitably the other children will feel sad.  I know, without a second of doubt, however, that you’ll pull him aside and tell him how much you enjoyed his story.  You’ll make him want to write again….because writing is fun…even if your story isn’t picked.

It will always be OK if, when some children’s art work gets selected for the art show, his is not.  We will shower him with praise, encourage him to create more, and teach him to congratulate his friends for their creativity and their submissions.  His art will always have a special place in our home.

It is also OK, no matter how much he tries, to sometimes make the decision to leave him on the bench.   I know that you will take time during the season to help him improve, make him feel valuable, and motivate him to dig deeper.  And, because you’ve done such a great job, I know that if the team wins, he will know he has won and played a monumental role in the victory.  Even if his role wasn’t as obvious in the final minutes of a game.

I want to thank you again, because I know that it sometimes feels impossible.  I know that you became a teacher, an instructor, or a coach for so many wonderful reasons.  I know that you had giant aspirations to always be “fair.”  I’m also guessing that you never imagined how many times each year, session, or season you would feel burdened by decisions that have no “fair” answer.

I hope that you know you have our support and gratitude and the love and respect of my child.  Even if you didn’t pick him.  Because…even if you didn’t pick him….you chose him.  You chose to teach him, encourage him, support him, love him, challenge him, push him, excite him, and inspire him.  Your success, loyalty, or impact can not be judged by one, or even several of those difficult decisions.  It is based on the many moments, outside of those decisions, that you made sure to make him know that you are there for him.

I think it is important to tell you….not that you don’t already know….that I don’t expect all parents will feel the same way.  And…that I am by no means speaking for them.  I am simply telling you how I feel.

Thank you in advance for all that you will surely do….and for those difficult decisions you are forced to make.

Sincerely,

Nichole

Manatees

I took the boys to swim with the manatees on Friday down in Crystal River, Florida. I did it during a solo camping trip that I took a couple of years  before Thatcher was born and I’ve been looking forward to sharing the experience with them for several years now.  They’re at a pretty good age for some more adventurous experiences and they’re both pretty brave….which makes life fun.  It also seemed appropriate for Earth Day as the very endangered Florida manatees are making a pretty significant come back.

We met up with River Ventures, a company I would gladly recommend to anyone interested…or even those who aren’t, and participated in a quick classroom discussion about manatees and how to safely navigate the waters to snorkel with them, before boarding our boat.  We had a great day and I’m thrilled the boys not only had the experience, but enjoyed it as much as I did.

The material in the short video below is from our trip.  The photos in the gallery are favorites provided by River Ventures from past days.  During Florida’s colder months, the manatee population in that area hang out in a warm spring…which makes for much better viewing and even more up close and personal encounters.  My first time was in the spring and I’ll never forget it.  While this time we were in murkier water in the larger body of the lake, experiencing it with the boys made it even more unforgettable.

Nichole’s Picks 4/23 + 4/24

Pick #1:  Wizard of Oz

Click HERE for all information and to purchase tickets

The Wang Theater, Boston.   April 12-24th

“We’re off to see….”
The most magical adventure of them all.
This new production of The Wizard of Oz is an enchanting adaptation of the all-time classic, totally reconceived for the stage.
Developed from the ever popular MGM screenplay, this production contains the beloved songs from the Oscar®-winning movie score, all the favorite characters and iconic moments, plus a few surprises along the way, including new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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Pick #2:  Frog and Toad at the Wheelock Family Theatre

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CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD

April 15 – May 15, 2016

Friday nights at 7:30; Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3:00

School vacation week matinees at 1:00 (Tuesday April 19 – Friday April 22; there is no evening performance on Friday April 22)

American Sign Language and Audio-description are offered on Friday May 13 at 7:30 and Sunday May 15 at 3:00.

All public performances offer open captioning

Music by Robert Reale, Book and Lyrics by Willie Reale, based on the books by Arnold Lobel. Directed by Mimi Katano. Musical Direction by Heather McLaughlin Garbes. Scenic Design by Matthew T. Lazure.

Waking from hibernation in the early spring, the perky Frog and the worrywart Toad celebrate and rejoice in the differences that make them unique and special. These two best-friends plant gardens, swim underwater, rake leaves, go sledding, bake cookies, and learn to appreciate each other’s distinct qualities. Part vaudeville, part make-believe, all charm, A Year With Frog and Toad tells the story of a friendship that weathers all seasons. A delightful story based on the picture books by Arnold Lobel, this musical adaptation is a treat for all ages; children and the child within.

Recommended for adults, teens, ‘tweens, youth and children 4+

Pick #3:  Franklin Park Zoo

I’m not always a fan of zoos, but sometimes a day at the zoo can be fairly educational as well as fun.  The Franklin Park Zoo does a pretty good job and this in between weather is nice for spending the day without being too hot…or too cold.

http://www.zoonewengland.org/

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If you have Friday off, they are doing some fun Earth Day activities too.

Friday, April 22, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Don’t miss the Earth Day celebration at Franklin Park Zoo! Visit the Zoo for a fun and engaging day to raise awareness for the planet and all it has to offer.

Learn how you can contribute to a healthy planet and preserve the Earth. Festivities  include opportunities to meet the zookeepers, plus animal enrichment activities, scavenger hunts, eco-friendly exhibitors and much more! Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about the Zoo’s Organic Garden Project and how it provides food and enrichment to Zoo animals in a sustainable way.

 

As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

Bounce Back…for Apres Mini Bar.

I had a great little getaway to Vegas back in December.  While the pretty sweet minibars were hit rather hard, I was happy to not once feel the need to tear into the Bounce Back Hangover Recovery Kit.  Nice touch.  How thoughtful of them.

With a detox drink, earplugs, “clear eyes” eye drops, cool mint breath strips, and eye renewal cream…I’m still left to wonder if it would have worked had I not done such a stellar job of pacing myself each day/night.

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“Today Has Been Really Long”

So, we left Rockport in the wee hours of the morning, waited for some friends at the “Fast Freddy’s” parking lot in Beverly and hit the road.  By 5:30 or so we were skirting New York, by 2:30 we were stopping for a quick lunch in southern Virginia, and by 6:45…with only 5 1/2 hours to go to Orlando, but no hotel room available until our check-in time later on today, we decided to call it quits in St. George, South Carolina.

With time to kill, we even did the obligatory drive-by South of the Border long enough to use the restrooms and take one quick photo to prove later to the children that “yes” they’ve been there.

We checked in to a perfectly average Comfort Something-or-other and walked next door to Skynaards Bar and Grill…”where people come to meet and eat.”    The kids ran off some steam in the corn hole pit (yes, that’s right…judge if you must) and we ordered some “we’ve-been-on-the-road-forever-and-we-could eat-our-own-arms” type of grub.

With no WiFi and just my iPhone to fire off a blog post, I was more than happy to shoot for sleep at 9:45.  The boys were still fighting the Sandman trying to watch hockey highlights as I wrapped up.

Just as I finished and went to go make sure that everything was charging, the door was locked, and the boys weren’t going to fall off the edge of their bed, Finn muttered, “today has been really long.”

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And We’re Off

As I write this, it is 10:00 p.m Thursday night…when it posts, it’ll be 9:00 a.m. Friday morning.  By then (which will be now to you), if all goes as planned, we should be out of Massachusetts, through Connecticut, past New York, and hopefully even out of New Jersey.  On our way, of course, to Florida.

Sure,  flying would be easier…and faster.  But, flying a family of four to Orlando over a school vacation week has gotten ridiculously expensive.  It would be easy to say that was the only reason we’re driving, but…truth be told…I also kind of enjoy it.

We drove to Florida each and every year when I was a child.  While my parents may remember those days differently, I have nothing but fond memories of those trips.  Of course, back then, there were no car seats or even seat belts.  We built forts out of suitcases in the back of the family station wagon and slept a good part of the way.  Of course, back then, there were also no iPads, portable DVD players, or even cell phones.  In some ways the trip was probably easier.  In lots of ways the trip was much more difficult.  No packing of electronics….and chargers for all of those electronics.  No GPS….just giant bulky road maps…that no one in the world knows how to fold back up into their original neat package.  Pros…cons.  Who knows?

Either way, what hasn’t change, is that we’re looking at a whole lot of Forced Family Fun in the car for 24 hours.  Typically, my boys are up for an adventure and thrive on the go.  Road trips are usually exciting and they are good sports who make the most of it.  I am not naive enough to think that will necessarily be the case this time, but one can hope.

Wish us luck.  We’ll keep you posted (because nowadays…unlike back then…blogging is a thing and I can).  With love, from somewhere on 95 South, en route to the Sunshine State.

#makingmemories     (there were also no hashtags back then)

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(or emojis)   How did we ever get by?

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Nichole’s Picks 4/16 + 4/17

Pick #1  Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library book launch:  The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin

http://www.sawyerfreelibrary.org/

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Pick #2:  Catch a Ride on the Swan Boats

It is opening weekend for the swan boats!  In my humble opinion, a ride on the swan boats and a walk through the Public Gardens never gets old.

Click Here to Learn More

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Pick #3:  Patriots’ Day in Lexington

Lexington has so many historic, fun, and educational activities going on all weekend, but especially on Patriots’ Day!

Check them all out HERE

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As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

 

Getting our Culture On

We took a trip the Museum of Fine Arts the other day.  Other than not having nearly enough time to see it all, we had a fantastic afternoon.

If you haven’t been in a while, you should totally plan a trip.  An added bonus is that kids 6 and under are always free and children 7-17 are free during all non-school hours (weekdays after 3:00, weekends, and holidays).

Here is a tiny sample of what we saw…..which was only 1/4 of the what the amazing collection has to offer.  And, yes, if you look the through the photos you will indeed see my younger son giggling uncontrollably at some of the nude paintings and sculptures.  You can take the boy out of the hockey rink, but you can’t take the hockey rink out of the boy.

Learn more by clicking HERE

Giddy Up, it’s Opening Day.

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Opening Day.  2016.

Spring is in the air (kind of). The boys are back in town.  And Fenway Park is officially open for business.  Baseball season makes me kind of giddy and, as another Opening Day is upon us, I felt the need to take a walk down my own little Memory Lane last night.

I’ve clocked some serious hours inside the hallowed walls of Fenway Park….here are some of my favorite memories and photos.  Some during important events with sold out crowds, some when the ballpark was completely empty, some victorious, some solemn, some firsts, some lasts, some celebrations, some good-byes, some iconic, and some quirky. All a part of why Fenway Park in undoubtedly one of my favorite places on Earth.

Nichole’s Picks 4/9 + 4/10

Pick #1:  Kite Day at Cogswell’s Grant, Essex

Saturday, April 9, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (rain date Sunday, April 10)

Cogswell’s Grant, 60 Spring Street, Essex, Mass.

Come fly a kite at Cogswell’s Grant. Bring your own kite or build one with us, and watch professional flyers from Kites Over New England.

Archie Stewart of Kite Education leads an optional workshop with all materials included, where kids and adults can make their own kites and learn how to fly them.

Free for flyers and spectators

$10 for kite-making workshop

Please call 978-768-3632 for more information.

READ ALL ABOUT KITE DAY HERE!

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Pick #2: Rye Airfield Skate and Bike Park

Ever since my boys designed and helped to build their own skate boards, I’ve been dying to get them up here.  On my own spring bucket list for sure.

Check out their website HERE 

 

Pick #3:  It’s That Time of Year!

 Take a Tour of Fenway Park

Read about the tours and book one HERE

 

As always, for a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

 

37 Days Left to Apply for This Fun!

Red Bull Flugtag, meaning “Flying Day” in German is coming to Boston.

Even if you’re not brave (or crazy) enough to apply….I think being a spectator for this spirited mayhem would be a blast!

Mark Your Calendars now!

Applications and “craft designs” are due by May 13th.

The Red Bull Flugtag event will be held on August 20th at the DCR Hatch Memorial Shell.

Red Bull Flugtag is back in 2016 and is once again challenging wannabe pilots to push the limits of human flight. Since 1991, Red Bull Flugtag (which translates to “Flying Day” in German) has made stops around the world challenging competitors to build and pilot homemade human powered flying machines. For the first time ever, the brave and brainy teams of five will take a flying leap off a 28-foot-high flight deck into the water below in both Boston, Massachusetts and Louisville, Kentucky.

Applications are now being accepted for both locations and carpenters, athletes, designers, engineers, entertainers, and everyone in-between can turn their dreams of flight into reality. Five-Member teams of aspiring aviators and courageous craftsmen can apply for a chance to compete by submitting flying-machine plans to http://www.RedBullFlugtag.com. The deadline to submit craft designs is May 13.

READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE!

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