Category Archives: Family

Nichole’s Picks 1/16 + 1/17

Pick #1:  The New England International Auto Show

JANUARY 14-18, 2016


Head HERE to see all important information!



Pick #2:  Rock n Romp, Boston with Freezepop

Saturday, January 16th at 11:30 a.m.  The Sinclair, Cambridge.

The Sinclair

Got kids? Love music?   Then Rock-n-Romp is for you. Started in the Washington D.C. Rock-n-Romp is a family friendly concert series showcasing fantastic local-area musicians and bands. Shows are held during the day in a relaxed, kid-safe environment. The volume might be low, but the music is designed for parents and kids both in mind. Kids enjoy the music, dance, or just enjoy the other activities available to them, and parents get the ever-so-rare opportunity to listen to great live music and enjoy a beer with other parents. Romps give parents who miss that aspect of their social life a chance to get out, enjoy some music that might be new to them, and expose their kids to great bands in a safe, friendly environment.

This show is all ages, but all children must be accompanied by an adult. Adults must also accompany a child to enter. Please ensure that no adult is responsible for accompanying more than three children. The child ticket is for ages 12 and younger. Opening acts subject to change without notice.


Follow this link to read more!

Follow this link to order tickets!



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

Nichole’s Picks 1/9 + 1/10

Pick #1:  

Snowy Owl Prowl at the Crane Estate


Photo courtesy of http://www.the

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! We’ll warm up with hot cider at the end of our hike.

Please note: We will be hiking up and down dunes, through soft sand, for approximately 2.5 miles. Dress for the weather to maximize comfort and minimize misery! Water is always good to have along. A spotting scope and/or binoculars are helpful when searching for snowy owls. Suggested ages 13 and older. Pre-registration required.

Click HERE to preregister and to read more!

Pick #2:  

2nd Saturday Free at the Cape Ann Museum


The second Saturday of every month is free for families with school-aged children. Families are invited to the Activity Center to participate in art, history, and cultural activities, and explore the museum using a Seek and Find. Each month has a different theme, from exhibitions, to special celebrations, to treasures from the Archives. It’s all about FUN!


Photo courtesy of the Cape Ann Museum

Pick #3: Open Skate at Talbot Rink

Most Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00-4:00 anyone can take to the ice for a very small fee!  Skate rentals are available as well.

Find the rink schedule HERE


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


Hanna and Riley on a visit to Nonnie and Papa

Hanna 2 years old and Riley 4 came for an overnight visit to Papa and Nonnie.  Even in the winter time there is so much fun we can have in Gloucester.  We went to see my favorite horses and of course visited Marshall Farm to see the Alpacas.

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Pawtuckaway State Park ©Alex Hauck copyFundy Cove at Pawtuckaway Lake – Alex Hauck Photo

Only about an hour and half northwest of Cape Ann, Liv, Matt and Alex had a great time hiking at Pawtuckaway State Park yesterday. Located in southeastern New Hampshire, the park is named for Pawtuckaway Lake and Pawtuckaway Mountains, which are a circular rocky range that form the outline of an ancient volcanic ring dike dating from the Cretaceaous era.


Volcanic Ring Dike

There are a number of trails in varying in length. They opted for the 11 mile route which included several summits.549NOTICEMAP

Pawtuckaway State Park lies within the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion that also includes Cape Ann.




Northeastern Coastal Forests Ecoregion

“I Made These For You”

Last week I did a post about our “Great Holiday Cookie Giveaway”.  If you didn’t see it, check it out here.  It is pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.

Better to Give Than Receive

My students decided that it would be better to give than receive. They opted to skip the annual gingerbread house making for themselves and instead baked like crazy in class and at home. We then made a list of recipients and delivered holiday treats from Beverly to Ipswich to people whom our school is thankful for. We wish we could have made 100 more stops.

So, the other day, Finn finished his job.  In addition to delivering cookies as a class on a school day, each child also brought a box of cookies home to deliver to someone special.  Finn chose to deliver his to the Gloucester Coast Guard Station at Harbor Loop.  You may remember that my boys have both loved and respected members of the Coast Guard for quite some time.

Here’s another post in case you want to read up on that….

Thank you, Grand Isle

So, here is Finn’s letter…and a photo of him delivering his treats to a Petty Officer.


Liar, Liar Pants on Fire (Also Known as Merry Christmas)

A good friend asked me to repost this….. as it is timely.  I was more than happy to do so…especially since, with all the shopping, wrapping, and deceiving, I haven’t had time to come up with anything else for this morning’s post.

I almost forgot to do it at all….but then I went to the front yard and side deck to shred some carrots to look as though those messy reindeer ate the ones we left out with Santa’s cookies….and I remembered “the lies.”   Next, I’ll go eat 1/2 of one of Santa’s cookies and put the rest back into the ziplock bag that they were in earlier this evening.

My boys are now 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 and both still totally BELIEVE.   I must admit, however, that I’ve become more sloppy.  Just a few minutes ago I shoved things in their stockings with price tags still on them because I am W.I.P.E.D.  Not sure if the boys will notice or not….and not sure how I’ll explain that stuff in their stocking came from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Bygones.

So, my friends, I wish you a Very Merry Christmas….and some good luck😉


Nichole’s Picks 12/26 + 12/27

Well, Christmas will be behind us and most of us will be ready to sit and relax for a bit.

Honestly, my “Picks” for the weekend immediately after Christmas would ideally involve doing nothing at all.  Watch the children play with their new things, grab a good book, curl up and hunker down for a while.   Or…even better….with the weather being so unseasonably balmy….get outside.  Go for a walk, a hike, or a bike ride…or a skate.

To be honest, I’m not sure what the status of the outdoor skating rinks is when it is almost 70 degrees in September, but it is worth checking out.


Pick #1:   Get Outside and Walk Off Christmas Dinner

Find a place to hike and explore.  Follow the link below to find your ideal Mass Audubon location.


Photo Courtesy of Mass. Audubon website

Pick #2:  Take to the Ice in Lynnfield or Boston 

Remember to call and see if they are a rink or a pool due to warm weather before going!

Market Street Rink


The Frog Pond, Boston



Pick #3:  The Polar Express in 4D at The Museum of Science  (or any of their other IMAX Movies


I think that this is fairly short…so don’t expect a full-length movie!

The Polar Express 4-D Experience

Go on an extraordinary 4-D adventure this holiday season on THE POLAR EXPRESS! When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. THE POLAR EXPRESS™ 4-D Experience is based on the inspiring and beloved Caldecott Medal children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

Featured in digital 3-D and brought to life with 4-D multisensory effects, this is an immersive experience for the whole family to enjoy!

See the rest of the IMAX schedule right HERE

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

Here’s Some Holiday Spirit

What a wonderful treat these two families give to the community by putting so much time and energy into decorating their homes for the enjoyment of so many.

If you haven’t taken a spin by this wonderful display on Arthur Street in Danvers you really should.


Wednesdays with Fly Amero “The Amero Family Christmas” at The Rhumb Line this Wednesday 7:00pm 12.23.2015


This week’s Dinner Special:
Meatloaf Dinner – $10.95

Wednesday, December 23rd – 7pm
Here we go again: The AMERO FAMILY CHRISTMAS!


It has become an unstoppable tradition. So very festive and fun. Sister Linda and Brother J.B. jump on
the Rhumb Line sleigh once again as we ride through the night with joyous song and merriment. I’ll have
a brand new Christmas tune to showcase, Linda knocks us out every year, J.B. has his own surprises in
store… and the rest is future history. Let us sit by Fred’s cozy, imaginary fire and toast to a bright holiday
season and the wonderful friendships we all share on this tiny island! It kicks off early… 7-10pm. ~ Fly
Dinner with great music!
*Each week features a special, invited musical guest
Dave Trooper’s Kitchen…
Prepared fresh weekly by “Troop”… always good!
Plus a fine, affordable wine menu!
12/30 – TBA
1/6/16 – Jon Butcher

Looking forward……to seeing you there:-)


While out with three amazing friends the other night, the conversation of future “girls’ trips” arose.  That conversation spun into, “If everyone would stop having new babies, maybe we could get away some time soon.”

As one of the ones who has been done “having babies” for 6.5 years and who never had desire to try for a 3rd….I’ve been ready for some girls’ weekends away for quite some time now.

That conversation led to this awesome wine glass.



Nichole’s Picks 12/19 + 12/20

There’s still time to get your holiday on!

Pick #1:   The Mayor’s Celebration of Lights

I’ve always thought that spending a few evenings in the city during the holiday season is totally special.  Grabbing a nice dinner, maybe getting a bit dressed up, and seeing the holiday lights is a wonderful tradition.  By now, you all probably know about BLINK! at Faneuil Hall, but there is also the Mayor’s Celebration!



Running December 17-20, 2015, The Mayor’s Celebration of Lights, Lights of Boston presented by luminARTZ will transform the Dartmouth Street side of the Boston Public Library with 3D projections sharing the message of peace, hope and unity each evening from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., looping every 10 minutes. The light installation is the first of its time in the United States, and is produced by artist Anthony Bastic of AGB Events best known for the Vivid SydneyView more


Pick #2:  

Candlelight Stroll at Strawberry Banke

Strawbery Banke Museum celebrates the theme of “Winter Pastimes” during the 36th annual Candlelight Stroll, December 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20, 2015. The event takes place from 5 to 9 pm on Saturdays and 4 to 8 pm on Sundays.


Stroll through life in a simpler time as 350 years of American history, winter traditions, and holiday celebrations unfolds around you in New Hampshire’s oldest waterfront neighborhood.

  • Historic houses from four centuries with decorations hand-crafted from natural materials
  • Hundreds of wood and glass candle boxes lighting the lanes and landscape
  • Live music and holiday entertainment for all ages
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides
  • Holiday decoration demonstrations
  • Traditional barrel making demonstrations
  • 18th century holiday hearth cooking
  • Tinsmith demonstrations
  • Ice skating at Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond, daily December-February.

CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE INFORMATION! (and to save time and purchase advanced tickets)



Pick #3:  Zoolights at Stone Zoo


ZooLights promises to dazzle visitors of all ages this holiday season. Enter a winter wonderland of tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights. Stroll through festively decorated Yukon Creek, home to bald eagles, Canada lynx, reindeer and arctic foxes.

  • Meet Stone Zoo’s reindeer up close during nightly photo opportunities.
  • Enjoy holiday hot chocolate with the reindeer (see registration and full details below).
  • Have your photo taken with Santa (see video below).
  • Lights, Camel, Action!
    Known as “ships of the desert,” dromedary camels are incredibly adapted to harsh, arid environments. Learn more about these animals and enjoy a camel’s-eye view of ZooLights!
    Camel Rides: $10 per person
  • Gift Shop Discount on Member Mondays: Members receive an additional 10% discount on all gift shop purchases on Mondays. That’s a 20% savings! Learn more about becoming a member.

– See more at:


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

Judith Sargent Murray’s 1795 Masterpiece: The Medium, or Virture Triumphant. Final weekend! Friday & Saturday 8pm Sunday 2pm

judith sargent murry henry allen


  Click it>  


Advance & Season Tickets at
– c/o Floating Lotus 169 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930


I hope that when my boys look back on the holiday season, or really their childhoods in general, that they remember fondly and treasure the traditions that we’ve created for them.

While there is something to be said for being spontaneous and trying new things, there are definitely some steadfast traditions that we like to hold true each year….especially this time of year.

The boys know that on Thanksgiving night we make popcorn and hot chocolate, spread out sleeping bags, and watch The Polar Express.  They know that within the next two days we’ll head to the Beverly Tree Farm and cut down our tree. They also know that we won’t leave there until they’ve tolerated a mini photo shoot.   They know that one day in very early December, if not earlier, a white star will suddenly be lit near the train bridge and they’ll get the warm fuzzies when it is first spied each year!  They know that we’ll be watching Santa arrive on the Freemantle Doctor from right under the hoist on T-Wharf and they walk to that spot automatically the first Saturday of December each  year.  They know that later on that evening will be the tree lighting at Dock Square, there will be a trip to Tuck’s to buy one treat, and then we’ll head home to decorate our own tree. The boys know that there will be fried dough on Christmas morning and that my mom will arrive later with a coffee cake that is always still warm….just like the one that she made each year when I was little (Tradition). They know that after opening presents we go downtown to the tree and say “thank you” to Santa for the gifts he left for us. They know also to thank the police officers on detail Christmas Day and to always shake their hands.

They know the Santa mugs will come out to drink from for the month of December and that one will get filled with milk to sit alongside some cookies and carrots.  They know in the morning they’ll find little pieces of carrot left on the side deck from those messy reindeer.  There will also be a sleigh bell in their stockings.

Sprinkled into the “givens” are the less consistent holiday activities. Usually a trip to Boston, but always for different reasons.  There will be at least one night of driving around with cocoa to see holiday light displays near and far.  Some years we’ve trekked to Santa’s Village….other years to Edaville Railroad.  Other years neither…especially with hockey in full-swing.

And then….then, there’s the Curtis Family Countdown.  We’ve looked forward to watching the days tick down from their front yard display on Main Street each December day for the last few years.  It is a true sign that Christmas is on it’s way.  I blogged about it last year so that you could all make a point to drive by and see how wonderful it is.

If I remember correctly, it usually begins right after Thanksgiving. So…you can imagine how off-kilter we felt when December began and there was no countdown.  December 1st…nothing.  Wait.  What?Then December 2nd.  Nothing.  And even, the horror, December 3rd. It was time we take matters into our own hands.  You can’t mess with tradition after all.

So, we did this.

Dear Sean,
While we could probably just do the math, it is truly much more entertaining to drive by your house each morning and night to see the Countdown to Christmas. I know that you are really busy…so this is what we’ve decided to do. If it isn’t up by Sunday morning, I will leave Thatcher and Finn with you aaaaaaall day long to help you out. (How’s THAT for motivation)
Just kidding.  Kind of.
The Schrafft Family

In return, later on the same day, we got this….

Image 1

Send your kids over, Nichole, they can do the lights on the rest of the house.

He decided to do the lights himself when I readily agreed to drop the boys off to do the rest of the lights while I took his wife out for some drinks.

ImageImage (1)

Thanks again to the Curtis Family for helping to create lasting traditions.  Thank you for making time to set up that display so that undoubtedly many children can drive by each day and see how many days are left until Christmas! It means a lot to us…and I’m sure we’re not alone in that.

National Christmas Tree & Mass Christmas Tree

Had a wonderful time walking around DC last night in short sleeves.  Temp as about 65 degrees.  The Lincoln Memorial was as inspiring as ever — this monument never loses its power.

We thought FOBs might like to see a shot of the National Christmas Tree and the smaller Massachusetts tree that was among trees from all states surrounding the National tree.

20151213_212147 20151213_211929

The LobstahCrackah Rides Again…DOWNTOWN! See a preview rehearsal tonight @ The Floating Lotus 6-8pm ~ Gloucester Employee Shopping Night.

folklore henry


December 10th, we officially move the North Shore Folklore Theatre Company back to Main Street!

We will be in year-round residence at the Floating Lotus in the Old Empire building at 169 Main Street. If you would like to volunteer to help us move this week and next, please contact Henry Allen at 978-704-1269 or

henry allen lobstah crackah


Nichole’s Picks 12/12 + 12/13

A great hometown weekend.

Pick #1:  The Middle Street Walk


The Middle Street Walk is such a great way to experience community, celebrate the holiday season, and spend time with family.

As always, the program for this year is packed with some pretty special events such as choir concerts, buoy painting, a gingerbread house contest, story telling, a puppet show, holiday treats, guided walking tours, music, and of course…the lobster trap tree lighting ceremony at 4:30 at the Police Station.



Come see members of the Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshops preform this annual holiday treat! 



PICK #3:

A Very Grinchy Holiday Special

We saw this holiday show last year and loved it!  A great opportunity to see a seasonal and funny show without spending tons of money or traveling too far.

Gallows Hill Theatre presents:
A very Grinchy Holiday Special!

Join us at Gallows Hill Theatre for a fun re-telling of the classic tale with music, audience interaction, Max the dog,The Who family and Thing One and Thing Two!
A great holiday show for all ages, featuring Erik Rodenhiser as The Grinch.
After the show, kids can meet The Grinch, and take picture with the cast!



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

The Great Christmas Light Fight

We have several holiday traditions.  Some are silly and some are really, really special.

One of the sillier ones started last night….the 3rd season of The Great Christmas Light Fight.

The boys LOVE to hunker down with some cocoa and popcorn and watch the 4 families compete with pretty fantastic holiday light displays.  The boys continued to love it even after they realized it wasn’t going to be a show with families chucking holiday lights at each other….as the title evidently led them to believe.

We love “getting to know” the four families, seeing where they live, and hearing their stories.  We love seeing them come together and work so hard to make their magic happen.  We love guessing Who Will Win.

While it’s no, It’s a Wonderful Life, it works for us.

Check it out if you have some time to kill….if nothing else, it’ll help bring the holiday season to your living room.





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