Author Archives: Nichole S.

Sincerely, Barack Obama…

I think I have posted this letter from the White House once before, but it seemed extra fitting today of all days.  As with the letter I wrote about earlier this week, this is another piece of mail that I will always treasure.  No political rants here…just thankful for this letter…and thankful for the message.  “We wish you a long and happy life filled with chances to learn, ideas to explore, people to love, and dreams to fulfill.” Thank you.


Nichole’s Picks 1/21 + 1/22


Part of the Family Series at The Cabot in Beverly, this show is at 10:30 on Saturday.  Doors open at 9:30. Tickets cost $8.50 for children and $13.50 for grown-ups.

Buy Tickets HERE


Vanessa Trien has been performing music for kids and families since 2005, many of those years in collaboration with her lively folk/roots/pop band, the Jumping Monkeys.  She has three Parents’ Choice award-winning CDs for kids and families and is currently working on her fourth album, due out this winter.  Vanessa packs concert halls, preschool fundraisers and outdoor venues with dancing kids and families.

She is known for her highly interactive shows, featuring plenty of group singing and movement.  One of her most requested songs, “Tickle Monster” has families sneaking around on tip toe and then on queue, all start tickling each other!

In addition to performing, Vanessa teaches as an early childhood music specialist in preschool and pre-K classrooms in Brookline and has also taught parent and child group Music Together classes for ten years. Originally from New York City.

Vanessa moved to Boston in the nineties to attend Harvard’s Graduate School for Education and has stayed ever since, first diving into the Cambridge folk music scene and festival production and then eventually jumping with her whole heart into the wild and wonderful world of children’s music!

Pick #2:  Snow Tubing at New England Sports Park in Amesbury.

Read all about it HERE


Tickets are available for different tubing sessions. You can choose either from 10:00-2:00 or 2:00- 5:00, or 5:00-8:00 (Saturday only).



Pick #3:  The Cape Ann Museum

Read all about the fabulous Cape Ann Museum HERE

We are so fortunate that the Cape Ann Museum is free to all Cape Ann residents for the month of January!  This is the time to go!  What a wonderful escape from the winter blues.


Be sure to enjoy one of the Winter Shorts during your visit.

Walking Tours, Gallery Tours

Join the docents of the Cape Ann Museum on a variety of themed mini tours. Several twenty minute tours will be offered, beginning on the hour and on the half hour. Each tour will touch on a particular area within the Museum’s collections. Docents have created tours around their favorite topics, including Gloucester Fishermen, Women Artists of Cape Ann and 19th Century Selfies, among others. Participants are encouraged to spend the entire day at the Museum, enjoying one, two or all of the mini tours.

Tours are free for CAM members and Cape Ann residents or with Museum admission. Tours are “first come, first served” (space is limited – no reservations).



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

Quick Little Getaway

We wanted a quick night in the city with friends after the Christmas crazies but before the actual New Year’s Eve mayhem, so I spent all of about ten minutes looking for a hotel for a Friday night in an area of Boston that has some restaurants and bars that we like to go to.

We landed at the Residence Inn by Marriott in the Seaport on Congress Street.  Super inexpensive, comfortable, spacious, industrial, and funky.  With a full kitchen, a seating area, and a large bedroom, we were able to sit for drinks with friends in our room before actually heading out for the night.  With tons of restaurants/bars within walking distance, we didn’t even bother to hop in a taxi during the course of the evening.

If you’re overdue for a quick little getaway, can’t go far, and want it to be easy…I highly recommend it.

Check out the website HERE


Most Special Piece of Mail Ever…With Love, From the King Family

By far one of the most special things I’ve ever received in the mail and one (of the many) times I have been incredibly proud of my students.

Back in 2006, just days after finishing the book I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King in class during our “Read Aloud” time, I learned that Coretta Scott King had died.  I shared the news with my students and, because we had just spent two weeks learning about Martin Luther King’s life, and family, and work…and probably in part because they knew of the many struggles, fights, tribulations, and ultimate tragedy that marked her life and the life of MLK and their children…they were very, very sad.

They immediately suggested that we write sympathy cards to her children.  They worked hard, spoke from their hearts, and shared their emotions and their admiration for the commitment and sacrifices that the King family made to try to make life better for others.

I found the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and mailed the letters there…not knowing what would become of them. I watched parts of her funeral…where four presidents, more than a dozen senators, and Maya Angelou, amongst many others paid tribute…and felt sad.

Imagine my surprise, when four months later, an envelope arrived at school from “The King Family.”  While I know that what we received is the very same printed letter that hundreds, if not thousands of other people received, it still made me so incredibly proud of my students.  In some little way, their thoughts and words and love, had reached Yolanda, Martin, Dexter, and Bernice….those same young children (now grown) that they had read about in the book about MLK.  The same young children who watched their father inspire, and rally, and protect, and defend, and love, and sacrifice for others, had made certain to say “thank you” to my little group of twenty elementary students.


Meet Emily. She’s Pretty Cool.

So this seems like a pretty fantastic idea.  Maybe especially on a boat so that one person can stay in control of the boat/ship if another is to go overboard.  Also, if effective, a great way to execute a rescue without putting more lives in jeopardy.

Read more about it HERE


Nichole’s Picks 1/14 + 1/15

Pick #1: CAM Kids: Cape Ann Improv at the Cape Ann Museum


Saturday, January 14th at 11:00

What happens when history and fine art meet improv and silliness? Bring the kids and find out for yourself when Cape Ann Improv performs at the Cape Ann Museum. The arts and objects on display in the galleries will provide the inspiration for scenes and characters for interactive improvisational games throughout the Museum. Discover the art, history and culture of Cape Ann and have a good laugh with the talented and witty Cape Ann Improv performers.

Free for families with school aged children. Space is limited, reservations are required. Call (978)283-0455 x16 or email for more information.


Pick #2: Swim at the Newly Renovated Aqua Room

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opening of the pool and renovated Aqua Room over at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort for a few months now.  We spend a lot of time there…especially between November and April.

Check out my blog post from yesterday to read much more information


Pick #3: Discover the Dinosaurs, Unleashed


Follow this link to read more about Discover the Dinosaurs Unleashed

Tickets also available for purchase at the link above!

Venture back to a time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth at the ALL NEW Discover the Dinosaurs UNLEASHED! Experience up-close encounters with a lifelike Stegosaurus, Velociraptor and the king T-Rex in this thrilling walk-through exhibit. Kids can also meet a baby Apatosaurus, take an exciting spin in the Jurassic Jeeps at the Dino Raceway and visit the Kids Adventure Zone filled with themed bouncy houses, crafts, face painting and more. Parents and kids can test their skills playing an all-new mini golf course, become junior paleontologists while completing the scavenger hunt as they explore the exhibit and dig for fossils in the Valley of the Bones. It’s family fun of prehistoric proportions!


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

The New and Improved Aqua Room at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort

We’ve been a little bit lost for the last several months while the Aqua Room at Cape Ann’s Marina Resort has been undergoing some pretty sizable renovations.  With the windows and doors covered, exactly what had been going on inside has been quite a mystery. Which, I’ll admit, has only added to the excitement for two little swimmers that I know well.  Finn, in fact, may or may not be guilty of peeking through little gaps in the window coverings to try to get a sneak peak.

Well, the wait is over.  The Aqua Room is now open. And…just in time for a long weekend!  I had the opportunity to take a look around on Monday afternoon and was completely impressed with the changes and improvements that have happened!

Some of those improvements are noticeable the second you walk through the doors. Whiter, brighter walls and new windows help let natural light in. The bar has been built up has undergone quite a facelift making it an even more appealing place to sit with friends. The brand new jacuzzi is gorgeous and the new pool deck is spotless. The pool itself has been completely resurfaced and has new tile.  Colored lights under the water’s surface change from blue, to green, to red, to white giving the pool a sleek and polished finish. The restrooms and locker rooms have undergone improvements including some geared to the youngest swimmers. All of this is easy to spy and looks beyond great.

What isn’t easy to see, but is equally…if not more…important, are the major steps that have been taken to ensure that the aqua room environment and pool water is the best it can possibly be year round.  With a brand new, state of the art, pool filtration system, the perfect combination of saltwater and chlorine treatment for the water, new heating, and even a brand new sound system, they have thought of it all.

We have always loved stopping by the pool for a swim and lunch or dinner.  The Aqua Room has been a staple on our list of easy get togethers with friends and hockey teams…and the absolutely perfect escape on rainy or stormy days.  We clock some serious time there and always have a great day.

Day passes, punch card passes, and individual and/or family memberships are available to fit everyone’s needs and budgets. The pool is open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. The children’s pool hours have also been extended to Fridays and Saturdays 11am-10pm; Sundays-Thursdays 11am -8pm.

Mile Marker One continues to serve both lunch and dinner at the tables surrounding the pool and now includes new menu items as well. In addition, COMING SOON, will be the newly enclosed year-round River Deck dining area overlooking boat slips and the Annisquam River.

I am so excited to start spending some lazy afternoons in the company of good friends while watching the boys swim and play with their best buddies.  I am thankful for the measures that the owners/management of Cape Ann’s Marina Resort have put into renovations that will help build community in such a clean and safe environment. We are fortunate to have the Aqua Room as an option for family entertainment….now more than ever.


Frrrrrrozen Fenway

With the temperatures in the low 20s, I’d say Frozen Fenway is an appropriate name!

A friend and I took some avid little hockey players to check out “the big kids” on the ice. In this case, those big kids were the Boston University and UMASS teams.

The temperatures were no joke, but it was great to get in there for a bit. With some competitive hockey, cocoa, and even curling the boys had a great time.  A couple of the boys had to get back to Cape Ann for their own hockey games so we didn’t stay for the double header and I couldn’t help but think how much colder it must have been for the 5:00 Boston College vs. Providence game at the end of the day.  There isn’t enough “Bailey’s in the coffee” to make that sound tempting.

Nichole’s Picks 1/7 + 1/8

Pick #1: Snowy Owl Prowl at the Crane Estate

Enjoy the Crane Wildlife Refuge on the Crane Estate in Ipswich

Wide-open coastal sites are the location of choice for wintering Snowy Owls; common perches are dunes and salt hay staddles. In winters past, the owls have been frequent visitors to the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Join us as we hike the dunes in search of these magnificent birds. Unlike most owls, snowy owls are diurnal—they hunt and are active both day and night – so we have a good chance of sighting one even in the daylight hours!

Please note: We will be hiking up and down dunes, through soft sand, for approximately 2 ½ – 3 miles. Suggested ages 13 and older. Pre-registration required.

Sunday, January 8    1-3PM

Cost:  Members: $9 Nonmembers: $15

Contact Information



Pick #2: Dorothy Talbot Rink

Head to O’Maley Rink for a few different reasons.

First of all, Public Skate is 2:00-4:00 on both Saturday and Sunday.

Cost:  Adults:$5, High School and under $4 .                                                                                            Skate Rentals $4 per pair, Skate Sharpening $5

Secondly, the Gloucester Girls JV High School team plays Groton at 6:00 pm on Saturday night.  This team is making waves and is fun to watch!

Third, Rockport High School plays Pentucket at 8:00 pm on Saturday night

and Fourth, Rockport JV Team plays Essex Tech at 4:00 on Sunday

See entire Talbot Rink Schedule and future games HERE  because even without a hockey player in the house, taking in a High School game is lots of fun.


Pick #3: Sense of Wonder Walk: For the Birds

Sun, Jan 08, 2017 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield

 Rita Gallant – Lead Field Teacher
 All (suitable for children 3 – 18 years)
 Members: Adult $7.00, Child $6.00
 Nonmembers: Adult $9.00, Child $7.00
Meets in the Nature Center. Please dress warmly since most of our time will be spent outdoors.
Registration is required.
Register online or call 978-887-9264 to register by phone.

Come meet some of the birds that live in our area all winter long during our walk on the sanctuary. Afterwards, make a simple feeder for the feathered friends in your backyard. Bring some edibles such as nuts (unsalted, preferably raw), dried fruit, cranberries, or sunflower seeds, and we’ll supply the rest. Take home a ready-to-eat bird treat and some gourmet recipes to try.



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

Boston Public Market

How, seriously HOW, have I never gone here before?

I remember all of the hubbub when they were in the planning stages and when they were getting ready to open…but since then, July 30th 2015 to be exact, I hadn’t made it in.

Well, that changed just before Christmas.  And now I CAN NOT WAIT to go back.

Cheeses, chocolates, produce, pies, cannoli, cupcakes, fish, figs, salami, sushi, meats, muffins, wine, wheatgrass….oh my!

Cooking demonstrations, cooking lessons, wine tasting, and more.


Inboard vs. Outboard

You haven’t lived until you’ve taken four young hockey players out for lunch….and have been put on the spot to offer a good answer to the question

 How am I supposed to know which bathroom to use when they only say inboard and outboard?

Ummm…well…so…actually…I’m not really sure…

And then, go figure, the 7 year-old (mine of course) starts giggling and makes matters worse by saying, “Ohhhhh…I get it…cause like one has…you know…a…well…”

Super.  Who wants dessert?


Holiday Bartender

I’ve been on vacation for over two weeks…and have been fortunate enough to catch up with a variety of friends on a variety of evenings for holiday cheer and good times.  This video may or may not sum up my interaction with bartenders (minus the pregnant part) as I can’t seem to come up with a “go to” cocktail.

Friends of mine happen to own both the Improv Asylum, on Hanover Street in Boston, and Laugh Boston, in the Seaport District.  Both venues are fantastic for a great night out and some pretty serious laughs!  If you haven’t been….you really should!

Matt Catanzano has preformed at Improv Asylum for years and is now part of the hysterical duo of Simply Unemployable.  This, “Holiday Bartender,” is their newest video. And I laughed…and laughed.



Hanukkah Miracle…for “Kids These Days”

While I don’t celebrate Hanukkah I have been lucky enough to be invited in to the homes of some friends who do…and it has been lovely to witness the tradition and special family moments.   When I was still teaching, I also had many parents volunteer to come in and share the story of Hanukkah with my students and enjoyed watching the wonder in their eyes.

So, I mean no disrespect, but this is still funny….


Nichole’s Picks 12/31 +1/1

First of year, Happy New Year.  May 2107 be all that you want it to be.

Pick #1: Rockport New Year’s Eve



The mission of Rockport New Year’s Eve (RNYE) is to broaden and deepen the public’s appreciation for the performing, literary, and visual arts through innovative, diverse and high-quality programs that offer the community a shared cultural experience that is accessible and affordable.   RNYE presents year-round programs that both support this mission and raise funds.  RNYE is also supported by business sponsorships and individual donations.

RNYE’s most important event of the year, and the one for which the organization is named, is the celebration of the arts on New Year’s Eve. The evening is designed to be an impressive, “small seacoast town” version of First Night celebrations held throughout the country.  New Year’s Eve in Rockport is a treasured tradition enjoyed by Cape Ann residents and visitors

Attendees purchase buttons online or at stores throughout Rockport and Gloucester in advance of New Year’s Eve, or at the event headquarters on New Year’s Eve.  A button allows the bearer to attend any events that are scheduled throughout the evening.  The following description gives a good perspective of the depth, breadth and cultural diversity of the entertainment.

The celebration begins at 6PM on New Year’s Eve.  New Year’s Eve entertainment is scheduled on the hour, every hour, from 6PM to midnight, with 15 minute breaks in between each 45 minute session to allow attendees to walk from venue to venue and venue managers to reset for the next act.  The entertainment options scheduled throughout the evening are culturally diverse and suitable for all ages.  Musical acts may include folk, Celtic, blues, reggae, calypso, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, funk, soul, bagpipes, gospel, songs of the sea, 50’s and 60’s doo wop, country, western swing, African pop, New Orleans jazz, big band, and a cappella..  Other entertainment may include clowns, jugglers, puppeteers, story tellers, face painters, dancers, psychic readers, and telescope viewing with the astronomy club.  Children of all ages participate in the drum jam and parade through the downtown streets, with a large dancing dragon and costumes.  At midnight, attendees gather in Dock Square to watch the ball drop from the highest ladder of the town fire truck and sing “Auld Lang Syne”.

Pick #2:  Noon Year’s Eve at Legoland



Who says you have to wait until midnight to celebrate 2017?

Help us ring in the 2017 a few hours early with our first ever “Noon Year’s Eve” celebration! There will be special activities, prizes and giveaways, and a celebratory balloon drop, all included in the price of admission!

Read more about Legoland HERE

Pick #3: Rocky Neck Polar Plunge

Test your tolerance for icy cold water, have some belly laughs with friends, and (most importantly) help raise donations for the Open Door!


Once again, it’s that time to come and celebrate the New Year with our invigorating celebration. Please join us!! We ask everyone to bring non-perishables to help out those in need. The Open Door will have a van set up at the entrance of the beach !! We also collect cash or checks made out to The Open Door. If you haven’t joined us before, please do so and bring friends!!!!! We start this yearly tradition with a poem from George Sibley and then take our plunge !!

Sunday, January 1st at 9:00 a.m.

Rocky Neck. Stevens Way, Gloucester,MA


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

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