Author Archives: Nichole S.

Sunday Funday at The Studio

It you follow Good Morning Gloucester even just a little bit, you know by now that The Studio is officially open.  You probably also know that their menu (with the exception of all sushi) is 1/2 off for the rest of April! So, back from Virginia and with no food in the fridge, how could we not head over to Rocky Neck for an early dinner last night!?

The best laid plans… (don’t get the wrong idea…it was phenomenal so please read on).

What you may not know about me is that my children clearly think they are Rockefellers.  They typically snub their noses at the kids’ menus found at the restaurants where we like to dine and, of course, they were only interested in eating sushi last night.  Don’t get me wrong, normally I am thrilled with their willingness to try new foods and their fondness for a wide variety of cuisine. Last night, however, it would have been just ducky if they would have been happier with chicken fingers or something equivalent.

So, with a tuna maki roll in front of Finn and some yellow tail nagiri in front of Thatcher, my husband and I happily ordered off the half-priced menu.  We got the Asian Style Calamari, St. Louis Ribs, Fried Pickles, and the Rudder Style Mussels…because also, when dining with Finn, you’d better order mussels.

Everything was absolutely delicious.  A fantastic first meal of the season….and, even with the kids’ menu fish and chips that we ordered for good measure (secretly hoping for left overs for today’s lunch boxes) and two beers…the entire bill came to just over $50.

Unbelievable.  I strongly recommend getting yourself over there soon.

A small update!  I am so happy that a reader mentioned that you should always tip the servers on the actual bill.  That goes without saying.  Just because the management has decided to reduce prices…it does not mean that the staff is working any less.  You should absolutely tip on what the bill should have been.  I know you all know that, but I feel better having added it to the post.

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Go Sox

So, in case you were wondering… Mookie on 2nd, Pedroia on 1st, and David Ortiz at bat = a three run homer. Hanley Ramirez up next = another home run. Good times at Camden Yards so far!! Oh, and those are Mookie’s friends celebrating behind us.

Spring Colors Creeping North

Driving from Virginia to Baltimore for the Orioles/Red Sox game and these spring colors are everywhere. Hopefully they’ll hit Cape Ann in full force soon!

Alfred Hitchcockesque

Six relaxing and sunny days down in Virginia and we clocked some serious time swimming, walking the boardwalk, rollerblading, shooting slingshots on the beach, dolphin watching….and feeding the birds.

Safe to say that every meal the boys ordered came with french fries this week…and, while they ate their fair share…they were more concerned about taking their leftovers directly down to the beach for feeding frenzies.  For the record, hailing from Cape Ann, I am well aware of how annoying it can be when tourists feed seagulls while you’re trying to eat a meal on a deck.  That being the case, I promise you that we fed the birds far away from others…and that the beach was all but empty when doing so.

The birds loved my boys (or at least their french fries).  And…because everything is a learning opportunity…we learned something.  The seagulls liked to land on the ground to snatch their fries…while the laughing gulls like to hover above and try to grab the fries in flight.

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Nichole’s Picks of the Weekend 4/25 and 4/26

Pick #1   Open House at Fenway Park

We have done this a couple of times and it is always a great day for the kids!

DATE:   Saturday, April 25
TIME:   10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
COST:   Free!
ENTRANCE:   All gates

An opportunity for fans of all ages to explore Fenway Park at their own pace. The free, open to the public event gives fans a chance to discover behind-the-scenes locations and learn more about “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark” through a variety of family-friendly activities:

  • Appearances and autographs by Red Sox Alumni
  • Visits to exclusive areas of the ballpark, including the home & away clubhouses
  • From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., fans will have an opportunity to walk on the warning track, sit in the dugouts, peer into the bullpens, and peek inside the Green Monster scoreboard (weather permitting)
  • The Open House will feature a special college showcase game between two Historically Black Colleges, Florida A&M University and North Carolina Central University starting at 2:00 p.m.
  • A college fair with participation from historically black colleges will be taking place in the State Street Pavilion Club from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Explore 100 locations in Fenway Park: A Living Museum
  • Tour the Royal Rooters Club: Home of the “Nation’s Archives”

CONCESSIONS will also be available for purchase throughout the ballpark.

Information from official site:  see it all here!


Pick #2

Sheepshearing Festival at Gore Place in Waltham


$15 adults, Free to children 12 and under and Gore Place Members. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets can be purchased at all entrance gates on the day.

Now in its 28th year, this outdoor farm festival has become a family favorite and a tradition throughout the region! Enjoy demonstrations of sheep-shearing, herding dogs, spinning, weaving and gardening on a beautiful 50 acre estate. Large crafts fair, live entertainment, historic demonstrators, games and farm animals. Wagon rides and museum tours (additional charge). Food vendors on site. Free parking. No dogs or other pets allowed.

Visit Official Website and get more information, including directions, HERE.

Pick #3

Ravenswood Tree Hunt and ID

recommended for children 10 years old and older

Date & Time
Sunday, April 26

Member: $5. Nonmember: $10

Contact Information

See full information HERE

Gone within five years, Ravenswood’s delightful hemlock groves. What is happening to them and what will take their place? Did you know we have Moosewood trees and naturally occurring Magnolias? What other trees will surprise you on a guided Tree Hunt? In honor of Arbor Day, join us with a local arborist, naturalist to learn to identify local woody plants by their growth habitats, bark, twigs, buds, and even smell. If you have a mystery woody plant on your own property, bring a 12 inch long sample with buds and we can help you identify it at the end of the walk. Recommended for 10 year olds and up.


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

Resort Etiquette

Those early morning “seat savers.”  You know them, you’ve seen them, maybe you’ve even been one of them.  I’m not going to lie…we’ve done it before.  But, is it ok?

So, here’s the deal.  After months of horrific weather, the Schrafft family, like so many others, had finally had it.  With a time share week soon to expire, but 4 plane tickets during April vacation week too pricey for our pockets, I started to look at warm weather destinations within reasonable driving distance.

While searching, I discovered a nice little resort in Virginia Beach. The resort looked super cute and their website described it as, “a Key West-inspired resort.”  On a whim…with much less research than is typical for me…and a bit of trepidation, I booked it.

With prescheduled obligations Saturday morning, we couldn’t leave until 1:00.  We hit tons of traffic in the New York area, stopped more times than is ideal, and finally arrived at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.  We were pleasantly surprised with our spacious suite.  Having booked really late, we weren’t able to get a two-bedroom suite, but the boys have never had a problem sleeping on the pull-out sofa in the living room when need be.  Having two bathrooms and a full kitchen is always a bonus when traveling with the kids…and ours were updated and lovely.

The resort is fairly small….only three floors with maybe 90 suites total.  In the center are two lovely pools, two hot tubs, some nice landscaping and waterfalls, a gazebo, a pergola, and maybe 50ish teak lawn chairs and some umbrella tables.

We spent the first day getting our bearings straight, lounging by the pool, finding a grocery store, and having an early dinner.  We quickly learned which pool the boys preferred and where the best seats were located so as to watch them safely when not in the pool with them.  The pool area was lively, but not necessarily crowded.  We easily scored perfect chaise lounge chairs by the pool’s edge and had a great day.

The morning of our second day we all slept late and then I took a run on the board walk while the boys rollerbladed.  We returned to our suite for breakfast and lazily made our way down to the pool at 11:00 to spend hours relaxing and swimming.  The next day was much the same. However, upon stepping out onto our balcony at 7:30, I noticed a line of pool chairs already “spoken for” without a swimmer or pool-goer in sight. Awfully early for claiming territory.  The chairs that were taken happened to be the entire front row along the main edge of the better of the two pools.  With stone work being done along the other side….several other chairs were out of commission.

We went out for a run/roller blade and made it down to the pool around 10:30.  The chairs in question were still adorned with bags, towels, goggles, water shoes, etc. but yet….still no people. 30 minutes later…still no one.  Finally, around 11:45 a father and three young children appeared. The stuff and evidently the chairs were theirs, but after digging through the bags and rearranging a bit…they were off again.  We saw them intermittently…near the chairs…cruising by the chairs…taking things off the chairs…putting different things on the chairs…buy yet, never actually sitting down upon the chairs.  It wasn’t a huge deal, I suppose, but with seating kind of limited and their belongings taking up a large slice of the pie, we had to maneuver around their stuff and their chairs to get to the water’s edge.  By 3:00, the father hadn’t sat once nor had any of the children.  The mother sat with her newborn for a few minutes and was then gone.  I couldn’t help but think, if they really just needed a place to put their things…they could have easily just taken two chairs, rather than five!  Throughout the day several other pool goers walked back and forth while searching for a place to sit.

So, I ask you…  What is proper resort etiquette?  Do you sneak out early and reserve your seats? Do you loathe those who do?  Is it sometimes ok?  Thoughts?

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Fenway Farms

Another great addition to the already fabulous Fenway Park…

High above Gate A, on the famous Yawkey Way, is the new Fenway Farms.  No, this is not some new Farm League team…it is instead the “largest organic rooftop garden in the majors.”  How cool is that?!

And, just like the beginning of the Red Sox baseball season, Fenway Farms is full of wins! Improved air quality. Win. Energy reduction. Win. A teaching opportunity for local youth. Win. Fresh, organic produce to be used within the ballpark concessions and the EMC Club. Win.

Those Red Sox are always thinking.

Read more by checking out these two articles.



I have been teaching forever.  Seriously, like FOREVER.  This is my 22nd year.

However, even after all of these years, I am continuously amazed, impressed, and humbled by my students and their love of learning.

Take last week, for example.  After three weeks of learning about the Mayan Civilization my students presented their work, research, art, etc. to their parents and members of the school community.  I couldn’t have been prouder.

Things got off to a slow start and for a few days I was worried that it may not all come together, but, as always, my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students worked, created, imagined, collaborated, and rallied.  Not only did it come together, but it surpassed any expectations that I may have had.

I am so proud of them for sharing their knowledge confidently, for working so diligently, and for expressing themselves so individually through the projects that they created.

Proud enough in fact that I had to take this opportunity to sing their praises a bit.  Forgive me.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens inside a Montessori classroom, this is a great example.

Bus Fire Mass Pike North in Sturbridge

Such a sad and scary sight. I really hope everyone got off safely.

Nichole’s Family Picks of the Weekend 4/18 and 4/19

Dare I say it is finally here, my friends?  Bring on the fantastic weather!

Pick #1

The Swan Boats are back in action this weekend!

Check them out HERE

2015 Season
Saturday, April 18 to Sunday, September 20, 2015  10am to 4 pm

Adults $3.50

Children $2.00 (age 2 to 15 years)

Under 2 yrs. Free
Seniors $3.00

While there, take a spin on the Frog Pond Carousel and let the kiddos play on the playground.  My boys love walking throughout the Public Garden and searching for statues too.

Read more about the Frog Pond here!

Pick #2

The USS Constitution Museum

This is a great way to spend a day!  If you’re up for even more of an adventure you can tour the Constitution, spend some time in the museum, and then take the water taxi over to the New England Aquarium area and continue the fun at Faneuil Hall, the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway (one of my favorite areas of the city…and you can bet I’ll be writing about it again soon), or the North End!

Pick #3

Fairy Shrimp, Salamanders, & Frogs, Oh My!

Head out to Ravenswood Park from 1-3 on Saturday to learn all about Vernal Pools and the critters who call them home!

Read all about the program HERE

Vernal pools are crucial to the survival of fairy shrimp, salamanders, and wood frogs. We’ll have fun exploring the pools at Ravenswood Park. Participants will learn how to certify and protect vernal pools. When vernal pools become certified, we can prevent development on and around them. This program is instructive for participants, so you, too, can take home the techniques, forms, and methods to certify pools.


Pick #4

We are GIANT fans of Maritime Gloucester, but sadly they are not open for the season quite yet. They are, however, offering some great April Vacation programs later in the week!

Check them all out by clicking here.  Their educators always do a phenomenal job!


Please always remember to check out our friends at North Shore Kid for a more comprehensive list of excellent family activities!

Red Sox Opening Day is in the Books

Wow.  I’m not the only one to speak these words in the past 12 hours, but I’ll say it anyway….you couldn’t have wished for a better Opening Day….on so many different levels.  Well…unless there was a ring ceremony to boot. Book, alas, there wasn’t.  Maybe next April?

A glorious mid 70 degree day.  A team returning home after a more than decent season opening road trip.  Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. Pete Frates and a Red Sox contract.  Martin Richard’s family. Mookie Betts, Mookie Betts, more Mookie Betts, and David Ortiz.  Some other pretty phenomenal players.  A 9-4 victory over the Nationals. Lots of laughs, cheering, and warm fuzzies.

Dare I say it is going to be a great season.

Goodnight Fenway

Congrats on a fantastic season opener win!!!

Sox Opening Day with a Tom Brady Bonus

Masters Moment

I am not a golfer, but I’d like to be some day.  Likewise, my boys haven’t spent much time swinging golf clubs, but it is something that I look forward to them falling in love with in the years to come.

It is funny to me, that as a non-golfer, I am totally smitten by the sport.  There’s something about the gorgeous fairways and greens, the history and tradition, and even the vocabulary….birdie, bogey, eagle, albatross, putt, slice, sink…that gives me the warm fuzzies.  And then, there’s the “uniform”…and, yes, I realize it isn’t really a uniform…I just wasn’t sure what else to call it. I’m not going to lie, in my books, it is hard to beat a good looking golfer in his Under Armor, Nike, what have you.  They even make visors look good.

The day that Finn was born I was induced at about 8:00 in the morning.  He was born just after 8:00 that night.  For most of the loooong day, The US Open was on the TV in my hospital room.  Call me crazy, but I think that somehow has something to do with the fact that, when a golf tournament is on TV, Finn can’t keep his eyes off of it.  For the record, Lucas Glover went on to win the tournament that year.

So, yesterday was no different.  After a really busy day, we settled in to unwind and watch the end of the Masters.  I am so glad that we did.  What a great learning opportunity for the boys to witness the history unfold.  21 year-old Jordan Spieth became the 2nd youngest golfer to win the Masters after only Tiger Woods and his 1997 performance.  He also became the 5th ever Masters Champion to hold the lead throughout the entire tournament.  “Wire to Wire” they say in golfing lingo.  With a final score of 18 under, he tied Tiger Woods for the lowest round in Masters history.  If not for a bogey on the 18th hole he would have broken the record.

More special than all of that, however, was watching Jordan Spieth celebrate with his family after his win.  Seeing his parents, grandfather, and more, obviously teary-eyed and unbelievably emotional and proud, was so tremendous. Watching Jordan hug them all, it was hard to not think of the hours, the commitment, the money, and the support, that they provided for him.  It was impossible to not think of the smiles, the cheers, the triumphs, and the dreams, that he provided to them.  The side of me that loves the sport enjoyed watching Jordan don the illustrious green jacket.  The mother in me saw his childhood flash by on the road to yesterday’s unbelievable day.

While we celebrate all of our children’s little successes weekly, if not daily, it was hard to not wonder what will be their “Masters Moment.”  What will be the pinnacle to their hard work and where will their road take them?

Read the PGA’s  Player Profile of Jordan Spieth here.
Read CNN’s Report here.  Masters 2015: Jordan Spieth smashes records to win first major title at Augusta

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Fenway’s Hallowed Walls

If there’s one thing you can bank on, it’s that I will subject you to some Fenway Park photos each April.

I love baseball, but far more importantly, I love Fenway Park.  I think I’ve said before that there truly isn’t an inch of the park that I haven’t photographed and I am in love with its nooks and crannies.

While it has been fun to photograph the players and the games…I am much more passionate about the history inside those hallowed walls.

Through Grand Slams, walk-off homers, an “in the park home run”, World Series, Rolling Rally Parades, and so many more tremendous moments…my favorite moments are those when I have had the park to myself.  I have clocked some serious hours just roaming around Fenway on sunny summer days and, as cliche as it sounds, I swear those walls can talk.

Nichole’s Picks of the Weekend 4/11 + 4/12

Despite the fact that it snowed AGAIN yesterday, we are well into spring and I am hoping to highlight mostly outdoor activities for quite a stretch now.  You may have to dress warmly, but we’re heading outdoors!

Pick #1

We’re off to the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, again, but this time on a Friday evening.  With our eyes on the prize, we’ll be hoping to catch some of the action as the wood frogs and salamanders make their mass migration to the vernal pools.  I’m sorry, but how cool is that?  Walks depart the barn, rain or shine, beginning at 6:00 and ending at 6:50.

Click here to register and learn more.

Each year on the first warm rainy night of spring, wood frogs and mole salamanders begin a mass migration to vernal pools where they breed. If you happen to be out on one of these evenings, the experience can be spectacular.

On Friday, April 10, a part of the sanctuary will be transformed into a Big Night scene. Participants will take a one-hour guided walk along the Vernal Pool Trail, where they will meet some interesting characters who will share facts and stories about themselves, vernal pools, and this special time of year. Some stops will feature live animals to see firsthand and learn about. The trail will lead to a real vernal pool where more animals and their eggs may be seen.

Refreshments and other surprises will await you in the Barn upon your return. Don’t miss this exciting educational night of family fun!



Pick #2

Another awesome outdoor activity that screams SPRING!  I’m so loving this event also!

Kite Day at Cogswell’s Grant in Essex!

Saturday, April 11, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (rain date Sunday, April 12)
Cogswell’s Grant, 60 Spring Street, Essex, Mass.

$10 for kite-making workshop, free for flyers and spectators

Come fly a kite at Cogswell’s Grant! Bring your own kite or build one of your own, and watch professional kite flyers from Kites Over New England. Archie Stewart of Kite Education teaches a workshop with all materials included, where kids and adults can make their own kites and learn how to fly them. Sponsored by BankGloucester.

Registration is recommended for the workshop only. Please call 978-768-3632 for more information. Purchase tickets now



Pick #3

I’ve never been here, but have been planning on it!  I’m super intrigued.  If you happen to go, please let me know how it was!

America’s Stonehenge  

Salem, New Hampshire.

Click here for their website and all necessary information. 

What is America’s Stonehenge?
Built by a Native American Culture or a migrant European population? No one knows for sure. A maze of man-made chambers, walls and ceremonial meeting places, America’s Stonehenge is most likely the oldest man-made construction in the United States (over 4000 years old).



Like Stonehenge in England, America’s Stonehenge was built by ancient people well versed in astronomy and stone construction. It has been determined that the site is an accurate astronomical calendar. It was, and still can be, used to determine specific solar and lunar events of the year.

Various inscriptions have been found throughout the site including Ogham, Phoenician and Iberian Punic Script. Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University did extensive work on the inscriptions found at the site. They are detailed in his book America B.C.

I should mention that America’s Stonehenge is also home to eight super cute alpacas!  What a bonus.

Please always remember to visit our friends at North Shore Kid for a more comprehensive list of fantastic family activities!

Would You Slip N Fly?

I am all about maximizing summer fun.  Maybe, for a few different reasons, even more so this year.

I’ve always loved summer….and, as it approaches quickly, you’ll hear me go on and on about it soon enough. Fair warning.

That isn’t what this post is about though….that’ll come later.

For now, check out these somewhat insane videos of other people maximizing summer fun for some inspiration.  I’d so be the one to get hurt.  I’d either over shoot on the Slip N Fly and go right out of the pool or go straight up and back down landing smack on the slide.  Yikes.

Good for these peeps though.  So my question to you is….Would you Slip N Fly or not?


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