Small Town, Big Heart


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Small Town Big Heart

Written By: Brooke Batrinko

I am a busy mom of two boys, Maxwell and Jack, ages seven and four, and I work full-time in marketing communications for a Fortune 500 corporation.

I’ve been married almost 11 years to my amazing and supportive husband, Colin. We have two dogs, an 11-year-old male Australian shepherd named Roni and a five-month-old female cockapoo named Birdie, who I say is my only daughter.

When I told the boys I wanted a girl dog because I am the only girl in the house, my oldest said, “but you have Hey Google,” aka the voice of our home assistant device. I could legit write a book about all the funny, weird things my kids say, and I’m sure most moms can say the same about their kids. I’ll save that for another time, though.

We enjoy spending as much time outdoors as we can through hiking, taking walks and bike rides through our neighborhood, and visiting Seneca Lake. We also got into geocaching recently, which, if you have not done before, I highly recommend! 

Spending time with my family is my biggest priority and being together with them brings me incredible joy.

We had our first child while living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and moved back to our hometown while I was pregnant with our second. I always said I’d never move back home, but once I started a family of my own, I realized the value of this small town and having family close by.

Being able to stop by my parents’ house with the kids any day of the week or meeting up with my sister for brunch or a Target run are privileges I will never again take for granted. My best friend and her family live here too, which is a huge bonus! 

When I’m not working, mom-ing, or with family, I take time for myself through different creative outlets and practice yoga.

Yoga has been a fantastic outlet for me, and it definitely keeps me sane and balanced!

I live in Big Flats, NY, a 10-minute drive from my hometown of Elmira. The town itself is tiny, and we live in the best neighborhood you could dream of. There are lots of families with kids, and the local grocery store is right down the road.

There is a great park nearby and the school district is wonderful. It’s also right behind a hospital, which as a mom of boys, I’m sure will come in handy! 

Even though I would love to have shorter winters, the seasons here are beautiful. My family especially loves the fall, apple picking, pumpkin picking, and the beauty of the colors on the rolling hillside.

The lake is just a short drive away, full of unique trails through gorges and waterfalls, wineries and breweries, and some of the best scenery around.

There is a lot to do outside, and one of my favorite summer activities is the annual Street Painting Festival in Elmira. I have participated in this every year since moving back home. It gives me a chance to dust off my creative side.

The street shuts down for a full weekend, and hundreds of artists of all ages from around the area come out to fill the road with chalk art. Each artist is assigned a 5’ x 5’ or 8’ x 8’ space to create their own work of art.

People can walk around and interact with the artists and choose their favorites. Prizes are awarded to the best ones. I have yet to win, but I’m sure my time will come.

In Corning, a town known for glass blowing, 10 minutes in the opposite direction of Elmira, there’s the Harvest festival in the fall, Sparkle in the winter, and Glassfest in the summer. Local vendors galore, these events always draw a crowd. 

Events like this give a town character, and I love seeing everyone in the community out and about.

There’s also the annual NYS Yoga Festival that happens at Letchworth State Park. It’s just over an hour’s drive for me, and the vibe is always super positive and fun. You really can’t go wrong when you put hundreds of yogis together!

This festival started 4 years ago, and I have been to every one except last year’s event (thanks, Covid!).

Yoga started as a way for me to get back in shape after having kids and has turned into something else entirely. I found my own strength and a new sense of empowerment through this practice. 

Working full-time and being a mom to two young boys can be very stressful, especially this past year during the pandemic.

Yoga is my safe place where I can go to escape for a short time to bring the best version of myself back to my family. Taking this time for myself allows me to refocus and not think about schedules, chores, meetings,  or any of my other day-to-day activities.

Having this outlet makes me a better mom, a better wife, and a better employee. I love yoga so much that I wanted to share it with others, so I became a registered yoga teacher (RYT200) and started teaching yoga as well. 

The one beauty tip I learned and want to share was from my grandma Helen who taught me the most about being beautiful.

Everything she did, she did for us grandkids. Being with her, I knew she cared about me. I could feel it whenever I was around her.

I think a lot of what made her beautiful and her favorite way to show love came from her cooking. She loved having everyone over and feeding them, having everyone gathered around the table. To her, that was everything. She once told me she really liked my husband (then boyfriend), but what she loved most was watching him eat the food she cooked.

In a more traditional beauty sense, here is another tip. One day we were headed someplace, probably shopping. I was driving, of course, because she never got her driver’s license.

She had the visor mirror down, and she was fixing her makeup. She had forgotten to apply her blush and did not have any, so she took a couple dabs of lipstick to her cheeks and rubbed it in. This move added the perfect amount of rosy. She finished up and just looked at me and smiled like she knew she nailed it. And she did. She always did.

You can find Brooke at:

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