Category Archives for Everyday Life

Don't Eat the Yellow Snow

After three days in the house snowed in, it was time to venture out to work this morning. We did a really great job of cleaning off our cars and the streets seemed plowed enough. I figured it would be a fairly regular commute. Even lighter maybe because the schools were still closed.

Boy was I wrong.

My commute is about 35 minutes total and around minute 15 I am typically in the Sumner Tunnel. Around this time, Mattie in the Morning has turned to static and my travel coffee mug is practically empty. Just a girl alone with her thoughts.

Well today, it was at minute 15 where I was stopped on Route 1A in a line of traffic two miles long trying to get in to the Sumner Tunnel. Matty in the Morning was still loud and clear but unfortunately my coffee mug was empty and my bladder was not.

I was on the ramp to the tunnel. There was no way out. I thought- OK I can do this. Think happy thoughts- desserts, dry terrain, anything but waterfalls. But the freezing rain was melting as it hit my car and was trickling down my windshield in the longest, slowest way possible. Some might say tauntingly.

Alright! It was official. I really really had to pee.

It’s amazing the thoughts that pop in your head when you really and I mean really have to pee. Like – OK, I have my empty travel mug and I’m wearing a dress, I could totally do this. I’d have to throw the mug out because no matter how many times that thing went through the dishwasher, it would still be the mug I urinated in. And I really love that mug.

Is that an RV up ahead? I could knock on their door a la Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice. But then I’d be that girl that left her car in the middle of a traffic jam and made everyone’s commute that much worse.

OK, if I can just get through the tunnel I know at least 4 different Dunkin Donuts I could stop at. But I get through the tunnel and there’s no way to pull over on the side of the road because of the snow banks.

Now I’m an hour late for work and totally panicked thinking- this is it. This is the day I pee my pants as a grown ass woman!

I barrel into the parking garage knowing I’m going to have to pop a squat in a corner somewhere. But there’s no where to hide! There’s construction on level 2 so everyone’s parked on my typically quiet level 3!

The elevator comes and I bust out into the lobby of the parking garage. I run up to the nice Indian man that takes the parking tickets and with my legs crossed and voice shaking I ask if there’s a bathroom. Of course not. But across the street at Genzyme there’s a restroom in the lobby.

I race across the street and through the revolving doors and see the most beautiful stick figure woman sign I have ever seen in my life.

So that was my morning. How was your commute? Safe travels home!


Digging Out

To all my southern friends: Yes, we do still want to be here up north! Despite the Blizzard of 2013 or more like because of it, it was a pretty fun long weekend.

Friday morning the news reports were calling for 18-24 inches with coastal flooding. They were asking people to stay off the roads at noon and the T was shutting down at 3p. Yeah… I wasn’t going in to work. Luckily, I could work from home though most of the office didn’t go in either so it was a fairly quiet day… work-wise.

But outside, the snow started coming down at 10a and the winds were whipping. It wasn’t supposed to stop until late afternoon Saturday so all we could do was stay warm and watch movies. Our movie Friday night was interrupted twice by the electricity flickering and then finally- LIGHTS OUT!


We sat in the dark for about 2 hours and then bundled up and went to bed. Jared and I had about 13 blankets on the bed ready for a frigid night with no heat. But only an hour more and miraculously the power came back on. We never thought that was going to happen. We were still mid blizzard, 16 degrees and pitch black outside. Whoever the National Grid guy was that climbed a pole or dug out a transistor or whatever it is that those power dudes do – thank you thank you thank you.

Saturday afternoon we had some serious cabin fever – not the maple whiskey Cabin Fever, that came out later. We bundled up and started to dig out. Here’s my dad with the snowblower.

Our House Our Street

We got about two feet but with the winds, some snow drifts were as high as four feet. Check out our backyard. Almost up to the fence!

 Backyard Hootie the Owl Backyard

We were lucky though. No flooding. No damage really. Just lots and lots of snow. We’ve finished most of the driveway and freed our cars. Now it’s just a waiting game for all these piles to melt.

Ironically my brother in Florida had cooler Blizzard pics of Winthrop than we did. Check these out from the beach on Shore Drive. Eeek!

Shore Drive Shore Drive

The Calm Before the Storm


Have you heard? Blizzard tomorrow. I think the last blizzard I was around for was the April Fools Day Blizzard back in 1997. Although there was a big snow storm when I worked for a radio station 5 or 6 years ago and had a live morning show from a travel agency in Marblehead. “Oh, you’ll be fine! It should all be plowed by the time you finish,”  said the sales rep from the comfort of her warm house. Meanwhile, I trekked through the storm with a couple thousand dollars worth of broadcast equipment in my Honda Civic and by the time we were done, it was white out conditions and I had to crawl my way home to Winthrop at 2 miles an hour.

I know it’s crazy but I really really missed snow in Virginia. Maybe not the crawling at 2 miles an hour part but the coziness of staying home with cocoa and watching movies. Plus the rush of waking up in the morning, seeing all white out the window, and calling the school or work snow line with fingers crossed. I swear getting a snow day is the most exciting feeling at any age!

Stay safe and warm tomorrow! And in the lovely singing voice of my old college roommate J Webb… “LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW!”

Welcome to the World!

Saturday morning was go go go for us. Massachusetts inspection stickers, pricing out appliances and tiles, shopping at Homegoods – and then BAM! Right in the middle of the throw pillow aisle, I learned my newest nephew decided he was ready to make his appearance… 7 weeks early! So suffice it to say, my brother-in-law Jeremy and his wife Laura had a bit more of a go go go weekend than Jared and me.

Ezekiel “Zeke” Swanson was born Saturday, February 2nd weighing in at 4 pounds 4 ounces and 17 inches long. As healthy as a 7 week early baby could possibly be.

Since Saturday evening the proud parents were exhausted and probably a little shell shocked, we made plans to visit the new family on Sunday.

Keep in mind that this baby came before his momma’s Baby Shower. He came before his nursery was set up and stocked! Though he can’t come home right away, the last thing Jeremy & Laura need to worry about is what bracket goes into what bolt on his crib. So Sunday morning we met Laura’s parents and my other brother-in-law Josh for a little assembling party.

Zeke, I really hope between your grandparents, two uncles, and an aunt, we built you some sturdy furniture. It was a little “how many Swansons does it take to screw in a drawer pull?” but we got it done before dark.

Then it was 30 minutes north into New Hampshire through the snow to meet the little man. It was an odd day really. I’ve never seen it snow all day long with absolutely nothing sticking to the ground. Just a continuous powder circling as if we were in a giant snow globe.

Zeke was in an incubator. Tiny but healthy with the cutest little nose and kissable lips. Littlest nephew, I love you already and I can’t wait to get to know you better.

Zeke Pics

This is My Happy Dance

I had a missed call from Jared and a voice-mail telling me there was news on the house. Everyone in the office knew we were actively looking and there had been several prospects. I think it was the high-pitched squeal and the spinning around my office that really got the point across that we got the house! 

Here are the details:

Four bedrooms, one and a half baths, three floors, and a huge yard (for Winthrop standards). It’s very structurally sound with updated guts (furnace, electrical, etc.) and we really love the outside- white with black shutters. In my mind, it’s the little farmhouse I always wanted – but steps from Boston.

The inside is dated but we wanted to start fresh with new walls and a new kitchen anyways. Jared is excited to jump into the renovations with my Dad. I have all sorts of projects brewing for them. I’m sure anyone that follows my Pinterest boards can see that!

I’m a very lucky lady. Just wanted to state that here. The last year has been absolutely surreal. I’ve dreamed of a time when I’m professionally satisfied, in a fulfilling relationship, get to plan my dream wedding, and design our dream house. Not everyone’s dreams come true so I must be doing something right because mine most certainly are.

House Hunters

Forgive us if we’ve kept everyone out of the loop. But speaking of loops, house hunting is a frigging emotional roller coaster. We’re level headed people. We understand the process. In fact, Jared’s been through it four times before. But this time… it’s personal.

This is the first home we’re buying together. This will be the house we spend the next five to fifty years in. This will be the house we bring a baby home to – god willing. And we intend to do some work to make it our own. So in the process of pricing out the renovation costs, we’re envisioning our dream home. So whether we like it or not, we get attached.

Have I mentioned we’ve seen every house for sale (and some not for sale) in all of Winthrop? The real estate in this town is literally down to three shit holes and a million dollar house that’s falling into the ocean.

I admit I was getting a little desperate. Even considering… gulp… Chelsea. But Saturday morning my loving husband suggested we revisit a particular house.

This house was not on the market. We heard about it through our agent who knew the homeowner wanted to downsize. We toured the house one morning and looking past all the dated decor we fell in love. We made an offer….

And she refused.

But now Jared wanted to take another look at renovation costs and see if we could make it work. We made another offer on Sunday.

Settling In

I swear I will never get tired of the skyline of Boston from the 13th floor above the Longfellow Bridge. And the view isn’t even the best part of my job. I love what I do, the product I help produce and most of all the people I work with.

So yes, my new job is good. But it’s hard to brag when my poor husband is working from the dining room table – or even the couch – at my childhood home. Though he does have a view of Boston too! Plus he doesn’t have to walk from the parking garage to his office in the 5 degree cold with the winds whipping… in heels.

But I digress. Living in the basement of my parents house isn’t that bad… You can stop laughing now. I’m serious. We’re fortunate enough that my parents welcomed us with open arms and a freshly painted and carpeted basement.

We’re also really lucky to have good friends. When my Dad told everyone that Jared & I were moving back to Massachusetts and would be living in the basement with our stuff in a storage unit, we had about 5 trucks and even more hands at our disposal. Seriously Joe Vacarro – you are nothing short of amazing.

Despite the warm welcome from my parents we are hitting the ground running on the house hunt. More to come on that. For now. Take a look at our new digs… jealous?!

Home Sweet Home

The Chouinard's

Where We Are Is…

Winthrop, Massachusetts. It’s a quiet little seaside town bordering booming Boston. I grew up here. Spent 25 years of my life 100 feet from Boston Harbor. It wasn’t until I moved (for love) to Virginia that I realized how amazing that last sentence is.

Virginia’s state motto – Virginia is for Lovers – proved to be very true for my then boyfriend and me. In October 2011, Jared proposed in an apple orchard and in October 2012, we wed in a barn. Yeah, I play a good country bumpkin but believe you me – I missed the city of Boston.

I missed the salt air, the city lights, the way everyone rakes leaves in a Pats jersey and barbecues in a Sox hat. But most of all – I missed my family.

But now Jared & I have formed our own little family and as far as I’m concerned, New England was where we were meant to set up shop.

I wasn’t sold on Winthrop though. Not. At. All. Winthrop was where my old friends still had their old jobs, the CVS pharmacist was my 6th grade boyfriend and you can’t walk down the street without seeing someone’s mother or cousin or ex-hairdresser.

But Jared didn’t know any of that. He saw a town with more sand than concrete. Where anywhere you go, you’re 200 feet from water. And while you’re blissfully seaside, you’re still a tunnel or bridge or 4 T stops from the state capital. That last argument kinda sunk in when I got a job in Cambridge.

November 28th – phone Interview. A week later – flown to Cambridge to meet the office. The next day – job offer. Two weeks later – our Richmond apartment was packed into three moving cubes and Jared and I were northbound.

Winthrop, MA

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