Author Archives: Nichole S.


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?


Sorry, Hawk, Easter is Over!

It must be spring because the Schraffts left work/school yesterday and hit Richardson’s Dairy.

The boys got gift cards in their Easter baskets and, since it was a whopping 50ish degrees after school, they naturally wanted to go get the first official ice cream of the season.  With the Red Sox game on the radio (they won 8-0, by the way) and the windows down for a stretch of the ride…off we went….because, really, how do you say “no” to that?

A couple of years ago we were fortunate enough to see a calf being born this time of year.  It was pretty awesome for the boys to see.  Yesterday’s wildlife adventure on the farm was led by a hawk…who apparently thought that Easter was not over because he was clearly still out on an egg hunt.

Check your calendar, Hawk.  Easter is over….and, you can sit there looking all threatening all afternoon, but those birds aren’t going to give up their eggs.

If You’re Over the Bridge and Need a Treat

When I’m out of town and need to pick up some treats, Cassis Bakery in Beverly is my go-to stop for sure.

When charged with bringing a dessert to so many different occasions over the years, I’ve opted to get a big assortment of yummies from their display case and they’ve always been a huge hit.

Check them out here! Cassis Bakery

Good Dog Gallery

While the charm and beauty of Rockport never gets old, one of my favorite parts of my evening walk/run with Marlin is the window shopping throughout downtown Rockport. Quintessential New England, for sure.  We have such a huge collection of absolutely fantastic shops with such wonderful diversity. There truly is not much that can not be purchased locally! If you haven’t, for whatever reason, spent time walking and shopping through Rockport, you are missing out.

I have been getting a kick out of photographing door fronts and displays during this sleepy season as Rockport begins to wake up from it’s winter nap.  It will not be long until ice cream is dripping down arms, the doors open full-time, and the shopping can begin in full force.  Make a point to visit…and visit often.

That all being the case, I was very happy to hear from Pamela Wasserman, of Good Dog Gallery on Bearskin Neck.  I am also happy to share her words…

“When I first heard Black Dog was coming to town I quickly realized exactly what it means when they say “competition is good for a town!” I immediately wanted to make my place bigger and better than it was before.  However, just as I was securing a new, larger space, my mother fell ill and I spent the entire winter assisting her. The pressure of simultaneously renovating a bigger, more expensive space was simply not possible.

Another dog-themed store will only portray Rockport as an even more dog-oriented town! Someone came up to me the other day and said, “There’s TOP DOG, there’s GOOD DOG and now there’s BLACK DOG!” Rockport is indeed known to be very a very dog-friendly town. It may be due to such a low traffic level on Bearskin Neck.  The lack of traffic encourages people to come walk their dogs, shop, and especially to grab a treat at Roy Moore’s and then over to Good Dog Gallery. Water dishes line the streets of Bearskin Neck, waiting for thirsty pups.

Celebrating Good Dog Gallery’s 10th year in Rockport, I am proud and honored to have so many returning customers dropping in to say “hello”, to grab a treat, or to do some shopping after the long, wicked winter we’ve had! Spring is a wonderful time to see all those familiar faces, wet noses and wagging tails!

Having moved here after 20 years in Woodstock, Vermont, I chose Rockport to showcase all the doggie goodies we have today. Those items include the delightful art, books and gift items of celebrated dog artist and sculptor, Stephen Huneck, whose flagship gallery that I managed for years, was located in Woodstock, Vermont. He has since passed, but his delightful, light-hearted dog art remains very popular, recognizable and highly collected.

We at Good Dog Gallery not only take doggie humor very seriously, hence the GREETINGS mat in the window, depicting one dog sniffing the other dog’s butt, but we take pride in all the products we offer. We assist in fitting each dog to the proper harness, sweater, or coat. There is a great selection of collars and leashes to choose from. We maintain a gourmet “Barkery” with all natural ingredients made in New England.  We even feature the ever popular crispy, crunchy, dehydrated and locally caught, Cod Skins, made right here in Rockport! Yes….Good Dog Gallery’s owner has the glamorous job of hand rolling and dehydrating those cod skins for up to 14 hours! As our slogan states: “Everyone makes the same face, but they keep coming back for more!!!!” And boy, do they!

We may be small, with only one location to focus our passion on, but we have gone to great lengths to find and offer dog art and unique gifts for every dog-lover and a great selection of dog gear + treats that keep tails waggin’!

So, as we say at Good Dog Gallery, “C’mon in and have a sniff around!”  GOOD DOGS WELCOME!”

Good Dog Gallery

Tail Wagging Art, Gifts, Gear, and Treats!

for Dog Lovers and The Dogs We Love!

49 Bearskin Neck, Rockport, MA 01966


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Nichole’s Picks of the Weekend 4/4 and 4/5

We celebrated an early Easter with my extended family last weekend, so our plans for this weekend are kind of minimal…which is really nice!  I plan on clocking some time at the pool in the Aqua Room at Cape Ann Marina and Mile Marker One and hopefully taking some long walks in the woods and/or on the beach.  Never forget how great it is to walk out at Halibut Point, Ravenswood, around Goose Cove, etc.  Those destinations and more will be a future blog post when the weather gets just a tad bit better.

If you’re looking for something to do that screams “Easter” please don’t forget about last weekend’s pick about Appleton Farm’s Egg-cellent Easter Adventure! It is happening again this Saturday from 10-12 and sounds like a great time!

Pick #1

Easter Cruise on the Beauport Princess

Sunday, April 5
Easter Brunch Cruise!

Join us for live jazz, a gourmet buffet brunch, a cruise around our lovely harbor and even an appearance from the Easter Bunny himself! It’s a perfect way to enjoy Easter with your family! 1:00-4:00pm. $58 adults/ $26 children. Call early for reservations, this cruise always sells out!



Pick #2  

Easter Brunch at Tupper Hall!

My disclaimer is that I can’t promise that this event is not sold out!




Pick #3

The Seacoast Science Center

I love this place!  While summer weekend visits are a no brainer…weekends such as this one are nice too because all the inside activities are open, but the weather is getting nice enough to walk around Odiorne Point State Park to explore and take in the gorgeous view too!


For a more comprehensive list of great family activities please visit our friends at North Shore Kid!


Hello, Black Dog!

You may have already heard the great news….but, just in case you haven’t…get ready to shop at The Black Dog on Bearskin Neck!

So exciting.  It’s quite an honor, if you ask me, for Rockport to have been chosen as The Black Dog’s newest location.  Rockport now joins a pretty fantastic list of other oceanside communities that are home to Black Dog shops.

Familiarize yourself with some of their great merchandise now…and start making your wish list…by checking out the Black Dog here!  FYI, they’re also hiring.

The first Black Dog General Store opened on Water Street in Vineyard Haven in 1992. Today, there are multiple locations of our Black Dog Stores from Portland, Maine down to Annapolis, Maryland. On Martha’s Vineyard, stores are located in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. On the Mainland, you’ll find stores in Falmouth, Provincetown, Chatham, Mashpee, Newburyport, MA, as well as Newport, RI, Portland, ME, Mystic, CT , National Harbor, MD, Boston, MA and don’t forget about our other island location, Nantucket!

What do these Black Dog townships have in common? The ocean, for one. A nautical heritage and a safe harbor are imperative. The Black Dog Tall Ships do visit these towns.

More importantly, these are towns that have much in common with The Black Dog, an appreciation for tradition, a love of the sea and all things authentically New England.

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TAH-DAH, Spring….and Roy Moore Lobster Co.

Marlin and I came upon a sight for sore eyes this afternoon on our walk through Rockport.

We were both pretty excited to see the one and only Kenny Porter…and crew…wrapping up the official Day #1 of the 2015 season at Roy Moore Lobster Co.   Fantastic!

Now we just need Helmut’s Strudel and an ice cream joint or two to open up and we can get on with our happy warmer weather lives.  Winter is over and signs of spring are everywhere!

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When the Cat’s Away

Anyone recognize this guy?  Circa 1987/1988.

For the record, while appreciating that amazing head of hair and thinking, “Just what would I call that awesomeness if I wanted to head to my local barber/hair dresser and get that done this very second?” he, himself, describes it like this

It’s more of a Power Mullet, than a mud flap…or perhaps the “Richard Marx” / “Simon LaBonn”

Tee Hee.  I laugh, but it is really quite impressive.  I was a junior in High School then.  My girlfriends and I might have stalked his locker if we went to school together.



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