Categories
Looking glass
Navigate/Search

September

We began the month as we always do, with Nina’s birthday party on Saturday the 1st. We had it at the nearby Ridge Heights Pool after it closed, and the first hour was fine. The second hour with thunder and lightning and eating cake huddled near the entrance wasn’t as fun. Jill said “It was a rainy, crazy, outdoor evening pool party. Most folks showed up which I am eternally grateful for; and also stepped up to make it N’s ‘best birthday party ever!!!’ We have built such a great community around us; we are lucky to call it home.” She also said later “It’s a 2 beer while in the bath kind of night”.

cake

Jill’s mom Sue came down the next day with her husband Dave – they’d spend the next week on vacation, mostly with us. We had more cake for Nina then. Jill said “Happy 7th to my favorite girl! You’re brave, kind, a great friend, and loving daughter. You have your own sense of style and loads of confidence and sass. Your favorite food is Daddy’s ramen, your favorite dessert is ice cream, your favorite colors are pink, blue, and rainbow. My wish is for you to keep your sparkle always. Love always, Mama.” On Monday, Jill, Nina and Sue went apple picking. Tuesday Sue and and Dave babysat and we celebrated our anniversary at Maple Ave – the lamb was excellent.

Kerry Jill

Bonus points if you can spot Nina in this video.

Thursday the 6th was concert #35: Alanis Morissette at Wolf Trap. Rainy, and we ate our dinner from The Sandwich Shop (which replaced Chase the Submarine) after the show because traffic was terrible, but a great show. Apparently I’m on a see her once each decade schedule.

Alanis

Saturday it was rainy but Nina insisted we had to go to the South Lakes Village Center Playtime on the Plaza we’d seen earlier in the week when going out for dinner with Dave (and Flippin’ Pizza had been closed, so Nina got her first Subway visit). So after tumbling class we stopped by and she made art and slime in the rain (thankfully they had popup tents). Later she finally got to go fishing with Pop Pop before he left. That night we were out again for concert #36: For U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince at Wolf Trap. Hands down worst concert of the year for the decision to not use any vocalists. Prince’s music without the lyrics is only half the reason he was so great. I don’t need an oboe doing the melody during “1999”. Basically a too expensive karaoke experience. At least the evening was saved with drinks at Clarity.

Dave Nina

Sunday the 9th we visited the new Founding Farmers in Reston for the first time to have brunch with Sue and Dave before they headed home. Tuesday I thought of course Ben Folds wrote a song about Rod Rosenstein. I think he’s been hanging around DC too long now. Also his new Declassified show with Regina Spektor on November 2nd was now on sale. Thursday I agreed with this article that you don’t trust things in the cloud will stay there unless you put them there and are paying for the storage.

Nina

Thursday the 20th I agreed with an article on re-reading the first Harry Potter book. We’d gotten about a third through the second one by then. I also agreed with Krebs about credit freezes – the bad guys have my info at least 15 times and counting.

Nina

Friday the 21st I had an early flight out from Dulles, stopping in Denver and ending in Las Vegas. The flights were not ideal, but the record store crawl in the morning and afternoon with Norm was a lot of fun (the first location of Zia Records was my favorite). We stopped for some Vietnamese at the end, then I checked into my room at the Tropicana. I’d forgotten to pick up sunscreen or a comb on my travels, and the hotel was happy to oblige for $20. Later I caught a bus downtown to concert #37: The Weeknd, Death Cab For Cutie, Justice, CHVRCHES, Slyvan Esso, The Neighbourhood, What So Not & Elohim, plus comedians Brandon Wardell, Jimmy O. Yang, & Rory Scovel at Life is Beautiful. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a festival in the middle of the city, but it was well done (couldn’t hear any bleed over from different stages) and they never ran out of food and drink (especially the hot Cheeto dusted grilled cheese sandwich from Stripchezze and fries from Fukuburger). I was most looking forward to CHVRCHES and they did not disappoint. My only complaint about the festival was nowhere did I see that tickets were required for the comedy shows – but they let me in on standby, so I can’t complain too much.

Life is Beautiful

Saturday I read in the hotel room for a while, then went out to concert #38: Greta Van Fleet at the Daytime Stage at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival. While I’m not a gambler, I did take a chance on a very cheap ticket and lost. But I’d seen the day before you could see the stage from the street, and my bus pass was good for 24 hours. I got there right as they were going on and found a covered bus stop that had a bench I could stand on and see over the fence. Great Led Zep sound (the word is correct – that singer can howl like Plant), but it was still 100 degrees out, and left as soon as they were done to get my Pho’rench Dip at Lardo (French dip with a Banh Mi and Pho, delectable).

Greta Van Fleet

Later it was time for the main reason for returning to Vegas: concert #39: Queen + Adam Lambert at Park Theater. It’s been 15 years since my only previous Vegas trip and 25 years since I first saw Brian May at Hammerjacks (and got to shake his hand thanks to Katie from Expulsion chatting up the merch guy). I’ve seen him in Queen with Roger Taylor 5 times since, but that night was truly epic. A 5000 seat venue would have been amazing no matter what, but I ponied up for a seat on stage. As much as their show is great in an arena, it was overpowering in there. The songs, the lights – all the spectacle was more intense. Yes, Freddie’s gone, but Adam’s voice and showmanship has skyrocketed since he’s been playing with them. And there’s no mistaking those drums and that guitar during songs like “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “We Will Rock You”. Having long time Queen keyboardist Spike Edney turn around and urge us to clap was great, and Roger flashed me a peace sign after I flashed one to him. And while Brian only smiled at me, I did get to shake Adam’s hand. The only WTF moment was Carrot Top coming into our section about 30 minutes before the end and just watching the show (and the band saying hi to him as they passed). This was a very nice picture a lady in my section took.

Queen

Afterwards I had a late dinner at Bruxie, a delicious couple of fried chicken & waffle sliders, then quick to bed and yet another early morning flight, unfortunately this time on Frontier. Between the extra fees (fees for carry ons) and the delayed flight (where it was marked as departed on time officially), I won’t be using them again. But at least I still got back in the late afternoon. Nina won her first Apple award in second grade on Friday and got a nice afternoon and evening with old friends Saturday before a brief trip to urgent care while I was away.

Queen

Monday the 24th I saw cardsagainsthumanityhackstheelection.com and read “Q: Why don’t you stick to making games and keep out of politics? A: Why don’t you stick to sliding marbles up your urethra?” and nearly snorked iced tea all over my monitor. Friday Nina asked for ramen at a sitdown restaurant (we often go out or get takeout the nights Jill works). We ended up at Red Kimono in Herndon (pretty good ramen, but Nina was not a sushi fan). I wasn’t expecting to see a band that night, but we heard a music when we left, and ended up at concert #40: Nah. at Jambrew. Sounded nice, but Nina was more interested in playing “hiding from Professor Snape”.

Nina

Saturday the 29th we got on the road quickly and headed down to Staunton, which was celebrating Queen City Mischief & Magic, a festival of all things Harry Potter. We’d gotten about 3/4 through Chamber of Secrets when we arrived, and we got Nina into her new Hogwarts robes. Right off we met Dumbledore and Hagrid, posed as the other Weasleys, then waited as Nina got her wish to be sorted into Gryffindor. We got some lunch from nearby food trucks and stands (BBQ for Jill and I, PB&J for her), then went on to see a glass blowing demonstration and Platform 9 3/4. We waited to go in Pufferbellies (the toy store) where she picked out Lego minifigures, then went to a potions class by Redwood & Co (or make your own bath lotion, but nicely tailored for the occasion). We also got to meet the Four Founders and Nina got to visit 2 cupboards under the stairs. Finally it was getting late and we went to Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House where we demolished a large pizza. We also stopped for ice cream at Kline’s Dairy Bar before finally getting to our room at the Econo Lodge – not the nicest, but all we needed was a place to sleep.

Nina

The next morning we had a hearty breakfast at Kathy’s Restaurant (with giant pancakes the size of Nina’s head), then got on the road. We made a last minute decision to stop at Luray Caverns and that was fun – neither Jill or Nina had been before, and it was a nice walk. We didn’t have time for any other attractions, as Jill wanted to visit the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. So we drove up there and Nina and I walked around, visited the sheep and goats and shared fries while Jill shopped.

Nina Jill

August

We were still in Massachusetts on Wednesday the 1st. Nina and Ava were with Jill’s mom and two other cousins, so we took the remaining kids to Cheesecake Factory for lunch, then Dave & Busters (I like the Star Wars Battle Pod a lot, played it 3 times). Jill and I did some camp shopping before heading back to East Longmeadow, where a family barbeque brought lots of folks over (and me on burger duty). Later I went grocery shopping at Big Y.

Nina

Thursday we packed the car super full and got on the road towards the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. They had closed the roads due to rain the day before, but happily everything was clear by the time we got there and soon we had our tent up. Nina has happiest when the Cannons arrived so soon there was lots of screaming and running around. Jill and I made fajitas, then that night was concert #25: Ryanhood, Abbie Gardner & Dan Navarro at Lounge Stage (really felt Stuart’s spirit at that one, don’t think I’ve ever seen Abbie and Dan together), followed later by concert #26: Seth Morgan at the Budgiedome.

Nina

Friday it rained a lot early and took most of the day to dry out. A number of us had to supplement security and shut down the muddy roads. Nina got to yell “Ice!” from the ice truck. The Cannons made dinner, and later we took the girls to concert #27: Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams at the Dance Tent (they all want to be jellyfish next year after seeing the umbrella parade). After bedtime was concert #28: a singalong at Shantytowne (with new favorite original composition by Seth: “Don’t Put Fireworks (Up Your Butt)”).

Jill Kerry Nina

Saturday was much nicer weather, but not much excitement on the music front. We made corn for the potluck dinner (this year Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed) and posed for the family picture (Nina had to have Patty’s dolphin mask). Later a bunch of folks went over for concert #29: Jason Spooner and Dar Williams at Main Stage, then a final concert #30: another singalong at Shantytowne.

Nina

Sunday the 5th was the usual fun of packing up and getting on the road. As we do so often these days, we detoured through Pennsylvania rather than face New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland gridlock. Monday Nina started skateboarding camp but wanted to go swimming afterwards so Jill took her to Lifetime. She ran into a friend there, so they had dinner and since power was out at home I was forced to go eat at the bar at Red’s Table (poor me – meat and cheese plate and onion rings). After a week of skateboarding camp, she’d learned to ride pretty good. I got fun questions at bedtime that night though: “Do you put all the presents under the tree? The other kids say Santa’s not real and parents put out presents. Can I go to Antarctica and see if Santa’s there?”

Nina

That Sunday I’d found one concert I wanted to use free lawn seats for thanks to a Ticketmaster settlement, and that was concert #31: Pentatonix and Echosmith at Jiffy Lube Live. I knew I liked Echosmith, and I was curious to see how Pentatonix would fare at a shed. They turned into a boy band (choreography, outfits, etc.) and did quite well. Most kids I’ve seen at a show all year.

Nina

Thursday the 16th I’d been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in the car, which had sparked some interesting conversations and knowledge (I didn’t remember all these candidates). But that morning the soundtrack ended and I had Hamildrops next in the playlist. I was expecting some of the songs to be NSFW, but not The Decemberists’ one. I thought I hit the volume down fast, before I heard from the back seat “Do you know who the funk I am?”. Sigh. Later I found out Aretha Franklin had passed. This was my Twitter feed that day. Respect.

Aretha

Friday was the end of Nina’s week in art camp, so the parents were invited to watch performances by each of the five groups they’d sorted themselves into. Unfortunately they were all non-verbal with no explanations. Nina’s group was “Girls’ Club”, and she was a mermaid. Saturday Jill and I went out to eat at Honeysuckle (luckily it was Restaurant Week – a delicious lamb tartare and confit duck leg for me) before seeing concert #32: Hamilton at the Kennedy Center. Worth the wait.

Jill Kerry

Monday it was back to Lifetime camp, more of a problem as a boy she calls her bully was there (he looks at her at lunch and teases her). She was ok since he wasn’t in her group but she wasn’t looking forward to camp that week. Wednesday the 22nd Nina and I went to Wolf Trap for a buffet for members, then concert #33: Peter Cetera. 13 year old me would have been very happy. 47 year old me was escorting around an almost 7 year old, which probably would have surprised 13 year old me more than the music. Nina got to meet her teacher, Mrs. Gregston, at a back to school event the next day, then that night was concert #34: Joseph, Shovels & Rope and Dawes, also at Wolf Trap. Nice indie combo, and all bands I’d been wanting to see. I even glimpsed Mrs. Cannon riding up in a cart. I stayed late but it was too chilly for me in short sleeves as Dawes neared the end.

Nina

Saturday Jill took Nina to a birthday party, then her sister, niece, and mother arrived and we had dinner from Hunan East. Sunday they were all helping the niece move in and I took Nina to the inaugural Fairfax Comic Con (in Chantilly, of course). She had a blast, making masks and capes with other kids, seeing Star Wars cosplay, doing archery and participating in the costume contest. My sister texted me while I was there and asked about getting Nina a birthday present, and I responded that I was getting pressure to buy her things there, so that worked out. Plus I got to meet John Cassaday. The next day Jill’s mom took Nina to the National Zoo.

Nina

Tuesday the 28th was Nina’s first day of second grade, and she got to walk over with a friend from class. Scrolling through social media, the internet was won for the day with this:
https://twitter.com/markhoppus/status/1033407567651729410
We went to Glory Days Grill for the second time in 5 days as Nina was determined to take advantage of the face painting on Wednesday (the food isn’t bad and I enjoy the new Impossible burger there).

Nina

Friday the 31st we’d been remiss in introducing Nina to Harry Potter fandom, so we’d been listening to the first book in the car and tonight went to see the first movie in a theatre with Jill’s mom after dinner at Uncle Julio’s and splashing at Fairfax Corner (they were reshowing them all for the 20th anniversary of the first book). Afterwards I gave her a Hermione wand and Hogwarts letter I bought for her when she was 3 months old, and heard “Wingardium Leviosa” from the back seat all the way home (the next day the Barbies went to Hogwarts – Ken is Harry, 2 Barbies are Hermione and Professor McGonagall).

Nina

July

As July dawned, we were on our way back from Hawaii. We had about a 3 hour layover in LA in the morning – Jill and I got breakfast from a food truck in the terminal. We were awake for the second leg, but it was uneventful trip back to Dulles, then Nina and I went shopping and she chose an Oreo cake for Jill’s birthday that night. Monday the 2nd was concert #21: Barenaked Ladies with KT Tunstall & Better Than Ezra at Wolf Trap. Hot night for a show, but still good performances from all acts. Nina was a trooper (soft serve ice cream helped too).

Nina

The most important thing about July 4th was Nina let us sleep until 12:30. We finally had time to really unpack and settle back in (and handle the yardwork), before we went out with the O’Riordans on the lake for dinner and fireworks (our boat wasn’t clean and their motor was broken). As Jill said “we enjoyed ourselves, while remembering that we are aiming for a more perfect union, and it is a fight we are not willing to cede. We live in the heart of the nation, where we were drawn to the diversity which makes our country so beautiful. Let’s not forget what has always made America great.”

fireworks

While reading an article about 20 Years Since “One Week” Friday, I was delighted to learn Barenaked Ladies had premiered “One Week” at the 1998 HFStival, which I was at. Saturday the 7th we celebrated a belated Father’s Day with Dad by the Bay, then Nina and Jill went to the crowded water park while I installed a new printer for him. We stopped at Bojangles on the way back before racing out to Leesburg for concert #22: Todd Wright and Ryan Wright at his always fun annual homecoming show in Leesburg. Dropping his new CD there was just a bonus.

Kerry Nina

Thursday this was the perfect accompaniment to this fine libation Nina chose for me for Father’s Day. Friday I got Nina from camp and we met Jill at Tysons Corner Center for concert #23: Matt Nathanson with Keelan Donovan. I don’t know who decided to put the stage right next to the pirate playground on the plaza there, but you, sir or madam, are a frickin’ genius. And Matty put on a heck of a show, even though he was suffering from “swamp crotch” in the heat. Big thanks to Linda for letting Nina stand with her front and center for a while.

Matt and us
Jill and I are at the bottom – right in the center, and Nina is leaning over the barricade halfway up next to Linda.

Saturday the 14th was concert #24: National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap. Just the afternoon rehearsal – Nina said it wasn’t her favorite, but some Tchaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23) and Beethoven (Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125) isn’t bad for her cultural education. Plus Inon Barnatan is a very talented pianist.

Nina

We were planning on visiting the Chambers family on the 21st and going to Hersheypark, but the coming storms looked ominous and we made a last minute decision to go directly to Pennsylvania after we picked Nina up from camp. We stopped in Frederick at Cafe Bueno for some fine Mexican food along the way. The next morning we got a couple hours in the park before the rains came (and a couple more attractions after that) before we were drenched and gave up. Nina was excited that she rode her first looping roller coaster. The girls played during the afternoon, and I headed over to the Brass Rail Deli for a panini as I’d skipped lunch at the park. We also decided not to go back home that night because of the many flooded roads.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 28th we got on the road early after a lot of last minute packing the night before. Traffic wasn’t too bad until New Jersey, but it still took us a while to get to Jill’s dad’s house even though twice Nina’s need for a bathroom made us realize upcoming traffic doom and avoid it. Nina got a late lunch with the fairies, then we finished our trip at Jill’s mom’s house.

Nina

Sunday Sue and Dave took us to Sylvester’s for breakfast where Nina and I managed to stumble across a Turn It Up sidewalk sale where I did very well. Later we drove near Boston to see my sister and her family. We followed them to Nantasket Beach so we could play near and in the Atlantic Ocean, then shared salads and pizzas at L Street Pizza.

Monday we drove up to the University of Massachusetts Boston so Jill could show Nina her alma mater and discover her favorite teacher was now a dean. We also had lunch in the dining hall there. We drove back to western Massachusetts after a quick stop at In Your Ear (not my favorite), this time staying at Jill’s sister’s house. After dinner the kids (cousins from Ireland were visiting as well) had a water balloon fight (Jill was collateral damage) and we all made s’mores.

Nina

Tuesday the 31st Jill and I took Nina and Ava to get ice cream and then run around at the Hampden Memorial Spray Park in the afternoon, then a big giant cookout for family in the evening (I got to grill the burgers, the only I cooking I did until we camped later). Sue took Nina and Ava for a sleepover that night.

Ava Nina

June

Friday June 1st it was concert #15: Almost Queen at the Herndon Festival with the family. I don’t watch many tribute acts if the originals are around, but Freddie ain’t coming back, and they did a pretty good job. Dinner from the Redbone food truck was good too. Saturday I returned to the Herndon Festival by myself for concert #16: River Whyless and Air Traffic Controller, with a depressingly large rain break between. Meanwhile Jill took Nina to the first Reston Pride festival. That night was concert #17: The Scottsboro Boys at Signature Theatre. A hard show to watch, even harder knowing that’s what some folks mean by returning to the “good ol’ days”.

Kerry Nina Jill

Monday morning we went to the vet and put Illa down. The doggy dementia and indoor destruction had been going on for close to two years, but blindness and deafness were setting in, and finally the hips started to go. Jill and I were with him to the end. Later I posted lots of pictures and videos to Facebook, including Snowmageddon (one of his favorite days), baby Nina snuggling up to him, and her stalking him at 2 1/2 (he was always patient with her).

Illa Nina

Thursday Nina said she wasn’t feeling well and her eyes hurt, so we were off to the doctor, only to find strep (Jill was already at work, so I took most of the day off). I managed to tune in during the final period that night to see the Capitals finally win it all (and then hearing yelling from nearby houses). Friday Nina’s school had a “Farmer’s Market”, or more realistically a cookout/yard sale, but she enjoyed it (and the face painting).

Nina

It is very important to remember that Old Ox Brewery is 3 minutes away from her gym, as I did on Saturday the 9th during her tumbling class. I even remembered to bring a growler, so double the win. Later we headed out to Manassas, had dinner at Noodles & Company (now with zoodles!) before heading over to concert #18: Dave Matthews Band at Jiffy Lube Live. Great show after a lengthy rain delay we endured in the parking lot, and then I went 2/2 at getting blocked in at the venue during a storm (the other was Buffet in 2000). Plus Nina got her wish: to stay up past midnight. Sunday was Nina’s final Daisy Scouts meeting, then concert #19: Roger Daltrey singing “Tommy” at Wolf Trap. Still in fine voice. Nina’s yearly minimum supply of classic rock.

Nina

Nina’s final day of school was Friday the 15th, then Saturday I was wondering if I should go over to Old Ox Brewery during tumbling class, and then I saw they were having beer and ice cream flights… so good (the Black Ox Porter with BuzzBuzzBuzz! ice cream was especially delectable). That night was concert #20: Sing a long Sound of Music at Wolf Trap (is it a concert if just the audience is performing?) I do know Nina enjoyed the movie, although we endured a lot of questions on the drive home because we left 2/3rds through. Plus she got an enormous soft serve ice cream there for dessert. Father’s Day was Sunday and after Jill took Nina to a birthday party in the morning, we picked my mom and her husband from lunch with a friend (in town for the day). We took them to Old Town Alexandria, took the water taxi to National Harbor, and had dinner at Vola’s Dockside Grill and ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s before dropping them back at Lynn House.

Nina David

Wednesday the 20th was the start of our vacation. After a 5.5 hour flight to Los Angeles, our friend Teresa picked us up and took us to Manhattan Beach, making a 6 hour layover between 5 hour flights tolerable (and a surprise visit by the Goodyear Blimp was a bonus). Plus Wahoo’s Fish Tacos was tastier than any other airport food we got that day. Another 5.5 hour flight later, we were in Hawaii on Oahu, but at 3:30AM our time couldn’t do anything but sleep (which is why I’d booked us into the Airport Honolulu Hotel with a shuttle). Unfortunately Nina was first to acclimate, sleeping on the second leg and up for the day at 5AM local time (we toured the hotel lobby).

Jill Nina

We had a nice breakfast at Willoughby’s in the hotel, then I went back to the airport to get another shuttle over to Economy Rent a Car (and possibly the most pressure I’ve ever had to use their add on insurance). Meanwhile Jill took photos to “kill… time while Daddy gets the rental car. I forgot how amazing the plumeria smells, and how generous the plant is with her flowers; they fall off still fully formed and gorgeous!”. Once I had the family, we were off to Aulani – the only Disney resort not at Disneyland or Disney World. By no coincidence at all, it’s also the only place in the world you can hangout and play games with Moana (the official name of the activity is “Kakamora Chaos with Moana”).

Kerry Jill

We arrived with enough time to drop off our bags, look around and get Nina a snack before the big event, then Jill and I and had drinks and a snack at the Wailana pool bar (Maui onion rings were good). It was adults only, but that didn’t stop Goofy from coming by and splashing in the water. Soon it was time to pick up Nina and she’d loved it. Unfortunately our room was still not ready, so we used a lounge pass and they changed for the pool, and I lugged the luggage up to our room when they finally notified me right at 3 that it was ready. I crashed for a bit after that, then they came back and we changed for dinner at ‘Ama ‘Ama – pricey but excellent views. Jill took an early bedtime while Nina and I went to the beach and then the fire pit for stories and songs. The next morning I got up first and grabbed breakfast supplies from the store, and Nina and I had cereal on the balcony. Some more pool time, then we checked out and left our bags up front and waited to meet Moana (they’d only taken group pictures at the activity).

Jill Nina Kerry

We drove back towards Honolulu and chose the traffic backup off the highway (Honolulu Rail Transit was under construction). We stopped at El Mariachi for lunch (Yelp rated it best Mexican on Oahu, and I have to say it was the finest carnitas I’ve ever had), then drove to the Bishop Museum. We thought Nina would be excited to see the Holo Moana: Generations of Voyaging exhibit, but her favorite ones were Expedition Dinosaur and the Science Adventure Center.

Kerry Nina

Next we stopped at a yarn store for Jill, then our final destination of the day, Hilton Waikiki Beach (the cheapest of the 2 Hiltons because it’s 2 blocks from the beach). Nina was excited about the pool on the 10th floor and had to try it out right away. The view from the 27th floor was nice, but our balcony was too windy for anything. We changed and caught the Waikiki Trolley’s Pink Line for $2 each over to the other Hilton, where we made it to the beach with time to spare for the Friday night fireworks. We then sped over to Ramen Nakamura to wait in line for a seat at the table so we could all enjoy some delicious ramen (soon the line was much longer). Finally we stopped at International Market Place on the way back at Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats (I had Ube & Queso ice cream, different but good).

Kerry Nina

Saturday we had cereal in the room, then walked over to Moku Surf Shop, where there was some uncertainty over the Groupon I was using, but soon we were walking with Derek the block down to Waikiki Beach, and Nina was soon surfing. The initial plan was that we’d split an hour lesson, but Nina was really listening well and he kept her out as I tried (and I did better than 17 years prior, got up twice).

Jill Kerry Nina

Back at the surf shop, Derek showed us the GoPro footage and we were astonished to see Nina get a piggyback ride – a must buy. We walked over to Duke’s Waikiki for brunch, where the made to order pasta was a win for Nina – everyone got seconds. After another afternoon dip in the pool, we went back to the beach for a free hula show. It wasn’t as mesmerizing as promised, and Jill and Nina went swimming in the ocean while I went to the Hilton’s business center to backup data (I think about a third of vacation time is now just managing pictures and videos). That evening we had dinner in the hotel at M.A.C. 24-7, upscale diner food that was pretty good.

Kerry

Sunday the 24th was our last day on Oahu. After breakfast and one more swim, we checked out. We stopped for Jill to buy another bikini at The Buxom Beauty. Lastly we drove to SALT at Our Kaka’ako so I could check out 2 nearby record shops while the ladies went to Starbucks (Hungry Ear was the superior one), then over to return the rental car and get in the longest security line of the trip at the Honolulu airport (thankfully it moved quickly). We had a late lunch there – Chowmein Express for Jill, Lahaina Chicken Company (local chain) for Nina and me.

Nina

The flight to the Big Island was short, and soon we had our car at Hertz and driving north. I knew the resort didn’t have a market, so we stopped at the nearby Foodland Farms (like a mini Whole Foods) before arriving at Mauna Lani Resort. Nina wanted the pool, of course, and we didn’t summon much energy other than making sandwiches for supper.

Mauna Lani

Monday we had breakfast in the room, then drove over to the Hilton. It was only when we got there that we remembered staying there for a night on our last visit. We checked in to Dolphin Quest and Nina spent 45 minutes learning about dolphins with the other kids while Jill and I strolled over to the nearby Lagoon Grill for tropical drinks and a snack. When it was time, we got closer to watch Nina and her new friends meet the dolphin (and get a kiss). She didn’t want it to end, and played with 2 of the girls in her group for an hour after it ended.

Nina

After paying the outrageous parking fee to leave, we drove to Queens’ MarketPlace (nearby outdoor mall) and Nina’s favorite shopping destination on the island. We ended up going to the food court and getting takeout for dinner, Jill and I got burritos from Big Island Burritos (my Bugogi was delicious) and Nina got pizza from Paradise Pizza & Grill. From Jill: “Nina tried snorkeling for the first time but preferred snorkeling in the pool rather than in the ocean. I had great luck seeing some beautiful fish in the ocean. After dinner we enjoyed some traditional music and dance and then rambled along the shore. It was lovely.”

Kerry Nina

Tuesday the 26th we were up quickly as we headed to the other side of the island, marveling at the difference in climate between them. We had a quick stop at Hilo Bay Books before arriving at our appointment at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (a return visit for Jill and I). Due to the danger of getting close to the volcano, they’ve doubled their fleet on that side of the island, and it was quite a wait as we were in the sixth (and last) helicopter at that time. But it was worth it. From Jill: “Fissure 8: destruction and creation. Heartbreak and wonder. Incredible. There is a river of lava traveling down from this fissure toward the ocean. Huge clouds of sulfur are coming up, and we could smell a little of it as we we hovering around it. It was an incredible sight. We saw Fissure 8 spewing orange red magma and saw a river of lava heading toward the ocean at a rate of about 20 miles an hour! We saw acres and acres of devastation; homes and businesses destroyed, acres of vegetation destroyed by sulfur gas blowing over it (which is why in one of the pictures [we took] one side of the lava river is still lush and green while the other is brown). As the lava hits the ocean, huge clouds of hydrochloric acid gas wafts into the air and destroys marine life all around it. The currents clearly delineate where the brown/yellow HCl affected water is from the rest of the water area. It is the painful, beautiful way these islands are created, and it’s breathtaking.”

volcano

On the way back, we detoured west of Hilo to see some nearby waterfalls, then unfortunately had to wait nearly an hour to get our videos (but worth the money). We went to McDonald’s (in the Wal-Mart for Nina’s lunch, then went over to Big Island Top Dogs for Jill and I. We drove down to the Mauna Loa plant and checked out the gift shop and garden before heading back west, stopping for a salad for Jill as I had one left over from the night before.

Kerry Nina Jill

From Jill: “[We] took advantage of Nina’s desire to play with other kids at the hotel’s day camp so we headed into Kailua Kona for some shopping and lunch at Kona Brewing Co” Wednesday. I also got to enjoy time at another business center to back up data (the Wi-Fi in the various hotels performed great, but I needed a PC to handle the SD cards and USB drives I bought with videos on). For dinner it was back to Queens’ MarketPlace to eat at Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. Nina got ramen and I got to try poke (verdict: I prefer sushi), then the Marble Slab Creamery next door for ice cream.

Kerry Jill

Thursday the 28th was a spa day, Nina volunteering for a half day at the resort camp. Jill and I went to the spa and I got a massage, while she had “a morning of amazing treatments then we spent the afternoon by the pool”. Nina’s new friend Amber was never far while we were near the pool, but then it was time to go stargazing at a nearby hotel – or so we thought. From Jill: “[it] was canceled due to a cloudy, hazy sky from the “vog” (volcano gas/ash disrupting the atmosphere)”. We were still planning on going north to try a burger place, but we could smell the smoke (either from the vog or a wildfire) and turned around. We ended up at Tropics Ale House for pizzas, nachos, and beers.

Nina

Friday we went to Hāpuna Beach for a couple hours [Jill] “and all got pretty roasted despite reapplying sunscreen”. Afterwards we drove up to Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice to get a pile of shaved ice almost as big as our heads. Nina being the most tanned and least burned wanted more pool time before we left again, this time over to the Mauna Kea Beach Resort Luau. We all enjoyed the buffet (made sure they had roast turkey for Nina), then watched the sunset as the luau started. From Jill: “Nina got up on stage to learn some hula, then we left early to see stargazing at a local hotel. Nina was especially keen and was excited to see Saturn, Jupiter, and a ‘rainbow star'”.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 30th was our final day in Hawaii. Since we were taking a redeye flight back, we left with “a day left” on the week stay at the resort. It made for a relaxing day as we only left to get lunch at Kohala Burger, and Nina got some more pool time with Amber. After we checked out, we stopped at Queens’ MarketPlace one more time for dinner (I wanted to try Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ, very good), then on to the airport where our flight was on time and soon we were all asleep.

Nina Kerry

May

Wednesday the 2nd it was my day off while Jill chaperoned Nina on the class field trip to a farm. Jill said it was “fun with friends and frogs! Field trip on the farm (learned about the life cycle of frogs then got to catch tadpoles and pet animals) followed by gardening on the school roof and playground shenanigans.” Meanwhile I dropped my car off at the body shop to start getting it fixed, got a rental car, ran errands and did projects at home like finally clearing the clog in our bathroom sink. The next day my insurance company called and let me know that after starting work on the car the body shop had discovered more damage and now the car would be totaled. It was fun times looking for a replacement after that.

Nina

Friday night Jill’s sister Robin flew in, and the next morning she and Jill drove to Hershey to meet their older sister and their mom for a spa weekend celebrating their mom’s 60th birthday. Nina and I celebrated Free Comic Book Day at Big Planet Comics as well as Cinqo de Mayo with dinner at Tequila Grande and dessert at Cold Stone. Sunday Nina had an end of year Cheer party at The Zone, having great fun playing laser tag and getting tickets by playing games (and unlike Chuck E. Cheese there’s a separate restaurant/bar area that cuts down on the noise). Later that night I saw that Queen + Adam Lambert was doing a residency in Vegas and noted that could finally get me to go back to Sin City.

Nina

Friday the 11th Nina wanted Tacos and More for dinner, so we did. Saturday I headed into DC but missed a subway train at the last minute, so made a quick dinner with dim sum from the Jenny’s At The Wharf popup and a shake from Shake Shack. The last time I was at a concert in DC, my phone was almost out of power, so I also stopped by Politics & Prose for John Scalzi’s latest. Of course I was there for concert #11: David Byrne at The Anthem. Few and far between are the concerts that are actually shows, and he definitely had one. From moving in syncopation, to choreography, to an actual freaking drumline, he had it all. Early contender for best concert of the year. I liked the new album just fine, but it was this 10 year old track that was a highlight for me (NSFW video).

Nina

Sunday was Mother’s Day and Jill chose to take Nina on that day while I went to Maryland to look at a car. Bad choice, the dealership closed for Mother’s Day without letting anyone know on Facebook, their website, or their answering machine. I read this article Sunday and reacted strongly. We’ve left concerts early, so many times – but she’s already seen Rush, Queen, Paul McCartney and Yes. #worthit Also I don’t know how I didn’t get spoiled by this, but it’s amazing. Skip past the pitch session if you must, but don’t miss the greatest Beatles cover band ever.

Nina Jill

Monday afternoon I went back to Maryland to look at the car – a 2015 Honda Civic Hybrid (I really liked the 2009 version I’d had). I signed the contract, then went back home to get a cashier’s check and leave the rental. Jill was planning on bringing me to the dealership, but traffic got bad fast on the Beltway so she dropped me at East Falls Church and I took the subway and a bus to return. The sale went smoothly, but by the time I was done, there was a ferocious storm (with a tornado warning) headed through. By the time I got to Silver Spring, it was coming down and I made it inside Bibibop just a bit wet – Jill, Nina and Illa were at home downstairs in the bathroom. Bibibop was like a Korean Chipotle, very good, but didn’t take long and traffic was terrible, so I went across the street to Copper Canyon for a beer before heading home.

Nina

Saturday the 19th I went to a document shredding event run by Fairfax County while Jill took Nina to cheer tryouts. In the rainy afternoon we went to the Wolf Trap Summer Season Kick Off. Fairly deserted due to the rain, which meant no lines for face painting, pictures, or shaved ice. That evening was concert #12: Lewis Black at the Warner. Always angry, always hilarious. Plus so nice at the meet & greet. Sunday afternoon I picked Nina up after Girl Scouts and she did some art and played some games at the Fine Arts festival (giant size chess pieces are not ideal to learn on). Concert #13 later: Sons of Apollo at The Howard Theatre. Progressive metal supergroup with members of Dream Theater,Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mr. Big, & Guns N’ Roses, only half full theater, but easily the loudest show I’ve seen or will likely see the year. And halfway through the show was the best time to find I still had on the junior deputy sticker my daughter put on me.

Kerry Lewis Jill

Friday the 25th Nina had her first meal at Chik-fil-A (the biggest hit was the playground), then hit the trifecta: 1st time seeing a movie opening weekend, 1st time seeing a Star Wars movie opening weekend, and 1st time cosplaying Star Wars. And she makes an adorable Rey. The movie was pretty good, too. I had to forward to my former co-owners this as it reminds me of conversations in a certain record store.

Nina

Saturday was concert #14: Girlfriend at Signature Theatre. A coming of age/coming out story based on Matthew Sweet’s album. Good show, and the all female backing band took the songs to the next level. This Twitter status made me think it needs to happen at every q&a I ever go to. Wednesday the 31st was Nina’s final field trip for the year, and Jill volunteered to chaperone before she knew they’d be walking to Walker Nature Center from school. She vowed never again.

Nina

April

April 1st, in addition to being a day for fools, was Easter this year and we woke up in Massachusetts (on purpose). Still there for Spring Break, Sue made us Eggs Benedict for breakfast, then we went over to the Bradys’ for the egg hunt and Easter dinner. Monday we’d planned on leaving early, but a late spring snow arriving during morning rush hour delayed our start and we didn’t get back to the area until rush hour, so we stopped for dinner in Silver Spring at Jewel of India (Nina likes her naan).

Nina

On Wednesday, Nina was delighted that Olympian Maame Biney came to school (she got a high five). Nina had lots of new foods on vacation due to her new egg tolerance, but my favorite moment was finally introducing her to Popeye’s Chicken Thursday (she’s a fan of the tenders). Friday I knew the weather the rest of the weekend won’t be as nice, but it was delightful having dinner outside.

outside

Saturday the 7th Jill was working, so Nina got to take a friend to Rebounderz to use a coupon after practice, then we had dinner at Glory Days. Sunday I noted that if the news about Fleetwood Mac replacing Lindsey Buckingham with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House had been posted on the previous Sunday, I would have laughed. But instead I was shocked – and intrigued. I also seconded the notion that it’s okay to sit down at shows. Thursday at an extra cheer practice I discovered that Old Ox Brewery was within walking distance.

Nina

Saturday the 14th Nina had her 3rd cheer competition out at Mount St. Mary’s University, where her team did the best all year, coming in 2nd place in their division and getting a Sportsmanship Award (after their first performance had lousy sound). Sunday we went out in the rain to have lunch with Dad and Patricia for his birthday, then stopped at Mrs. Cannon’s house on the way back as Chris and the family were down for the week. We left at dark, so we stopped at District Taco for some tasty Mexican.

Dad Nina

Friday the 20th the Cannons came over for dinner (more Mexican) and the kids ran around until they dropped. Sunday I worked to get a day off, but that ended badly as I was rear ended hard while waiting at a light on Fairfax County Parkway. It was better later at concert #9: Alan Doyle at The Hamilton with Fortunate Ones. Good set of solo and Great Big Sea songs, plus good food upstairs for Jill and I. Tuesday I was solo for concert #10: Steven Wilson at the 9:30 Club, busting out some fine Porcupine Tree tunes (and a long show, 2.5 hours plus an intermission).

Alan Doyle

Wednesday was a busy day off, as I took my car in for an estimate, then ran lots of errands before tackling jobs at home like clearing the clog in our bathroom sink. Friday Jill went to lunch with Nina at school, then Jill’s sister, mom and youngest niece came down as her oldest niece had a birthday. The ladies of age went to Filomena and Georgetown Cupcake, while I took the younger two out to Glory Days and Baskin-Robbins.

Nina

Saturday morning we all drove up to Coppin State University in Baltimore for Nina’s final cheer competition. On the way back we stopped a couple times and it was getting late, so we met the Bradys in Alexandria for an early dinner at Eamonn’s, then took the water taxi over to National Harbor. Everyone but me wanted to do the ferris wheel, so I spent time at The Brass Tap. They were still waiting in line when it was time to meet at the water taxi, so I went to get my car, and then was convinced to squish everyone in to take them to get the other one. Luckily I didn’t miss out on Ben & Jerry’s since there was another in Alexandria on the walk back to the car.

Nina

Sunday I worked again and Jill took the younger ones to Cirque du Soleil in Tysons. Jill said “We had so much fun at Cirque de Soleil’s Luzia this afternoon! It was beautiful; kudos for including a water element to their traveling show this year!”. Everyone else joined them to shop later and I went there after work and we all had dinner at Cheesecake Factory (Nina had spaghetti for the second time in 3 days).

Kerry Jill

March

On Saturday the 4th, Dad and Patricia came over for lunch and brought pizza so I could fix her laptop. Thanks to Jill’s gym’s parents night out, we got dinner and a movie later: tasty Turkish food (at Anatolian Bistro) and Black Panther. 10/10, would do again. Monday I found this and a selfie of my daughter on my phone. That’s why I don’t let her hold it.

toilet

Friday the 9th Nina’s school was on lockdown after police received a report that a student with a gun was at the nearby high school. It turned out to be untrue and she thought it was just a drill, but it made me more certain than ever that guns need to be restricted, and in fact I’m perfectly ok with melting down all the guns. Saturday I finished Nina’s first mashup request: “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Skip to My Lou”. Sunday Nina did not want to wait for Last Jedi to arrive on Blu-ray, so she saw her first Star Wars movie in a theater. Now she loves Rey even more.

Nina

Tuesday the 13th was concert #6: I’m With Her with Andrew Combs at the 9:30 Club. On at 9:30, 19 songs later off at 10:45 with a much more enthusiastic crowd for a Tuesday than I would have thought (and sold out, to boot). I’m guessing I was the only one there buying a ticket for Steven Wilson the next month. Illa had a vet visit on Thursday and lost 10 lbs – his kidneys aren’t doing so well. Dad came over again on the 17th for more laptop help, so we celebrated St. Patricks Day with corned beef and cabbage for lunch. Sunday we had Red Snapper for dinner – Mmmmm, very tasty.

Jill Kerry Patricia Bryce Nina

The night of the 19th I was at Nina’s school because Fairfax County proposed turning South Lakes Dr. into 1 lane each way to allow for bike lanes. Traffic isn’t horrible now at rush hour, but that would be a disaster. Thankfully the majority of folks were opposed to the idea. Tuesday night we trusted the Capital Weather Gang and were rewarded, as they said there would be a long window between winter storms early in the afternoon and after midnight. Jill and I had dinner at Green Bamboo in Rockville where I couldn’t resist getting moar red snapper (still very tasty) before concert #7: Weird Al. I finally got to hear “Nature Trail to Hell”, plus “Albuquerque” a second time.

Weird Al

Nina wanted to do something “special” Friday the 23rd, which turned out to be her first dinner in a Chinese restaurant at Lakeside Asia Cafe (she can now eat a little bit of egg in anything, so cross contamination isn’t an issue for us anymore). Saturday the 24th I noted that Amanda Palmer had summed up how 2 years of Patreon has gone. Well, I think. We also got an amazing care package from Shelly. There was another parents night out at the gym, so Jill and I finally used the gift certificate to Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm – a really nice dinner (I had the duck and Jill had the trout). Sunday Jill made some delicious Asian lettuce wraps, then Monday night we’d promised Nina we could go to the new Tacos and More in Reston (owned by the dad of a friend of hers) for her first taco (she’s a fan).

Nina

The finale of The X-Files Season 11 was not as bad as the premiere, but it wasn’t great. It’s a shame because the rest of the season was pretty good. I’d be ok with it ending. Treat it like Star Trek Enterprise. Some episodes must be skipped.

Nina

Tuesday the 27th, Jill, Nina and Maddie drove up to Massachusetts for spring break. They celebrated Jill’s mom’s 60th birthday, went to the Dr. Seuss museum, and Nina got her first tick. Meanwhile my week was fairly dull until Friday night when I went out for concert #8: San Fermin with Gracie and Rachel. Great baroque pop, improved by the fried chicken sandwich on an Old Bay donut from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken earlier.

Nina

Saturday the 31st I took Illa to the kennel (after I cleaned out my backseat and found a cup used to have milk in it), then drove to Dulles and had a breakfast pizza and beer at &pizza.com. Jill picked me up in Hartford, then we got Nina and went to visit Memere and Pepere. After we got back the kids all came over and decorated Easter eggs; later Sue watched Nina while we went to concert #8: Cry Cry Cry at the Calvin. Only had to wait 15 years for it, but totally worth it. Pre show dinner at Coco and post show ice cream at Herrell’s were excellent.

Cry Cry Cry

February

Friday the 2nd I read that Best Buy is giving up on CDs and thought damn, only 22 years too late to save our used CD store… Saturday was concert #3 of 2018: Steven Page with the Art of Time ensemble. They moved it from the Strathmore to the Amp by Strathmore, and it was perfect at a club. Also great was the disassembled duck with Banh Mi fixings at City Perch next door. I had strong opinions about which songs should be selected. Beware if you watch this, because you can see me rocking out, and that can never be unseen.

program Steven Page

Sunday Nina had her cheer team pictures, then we went to see the Super Bowl at one of Jill’s knitting friends and had potluck (I made chicken skewers). The Dinklage/Freeman ad was my favorite ad of the night (closely followed by Dundee). The full Solo trailer they released the next day was better than the short one, though. The next week was busy leading up to Nina’s first cheer competition. They had a practice Monday, then Jill met with Nina and her niece in Tysons on Tuesday night to pick out and practice makeup. Wednesday school was canceled for ice and Nina went to camp at Lifetime, then had a second practice Thursday.

Nina

Saturday the 10th was Nina’s first cheer competition. We woke up early and drove down to Fredricksburg. We were supposed to get there by 10, but doors didn’t open until 10:30, so we had to kill time outside in the rain. Once in, the girls went to practice and we waited about 45 minutes until it was their turn to perform. Then we all watched all the other groups, then the girls danced for a while and they announced the winners (Nina’s Delta’s were 3rd out of 4 in their division). We had packed lunch to eat there, and got a snack at 7-11 for what turned out to be a much longer drive home with the rain and traffic.

Nina

Our babysitter got sick, so I was the only one going to Beth Patterson for concert #4 at the Old Brogue Sunday. It’s not unusual to hear a Rush cover at her shows, but Crack The Sky? I’ve never heard anyone cover them before. I knew it was gonna be a good day on Monday when we were almost late to school because someone got her feelings hurt that she was accused of knocking a box over. Which she totally did. She lost another tooth Tuesday.

Nina

We had a low key Valentine’s Day at home Wednesday. Nina’s new hero during the Olympics was Maame Biney, alumni of Terraset, her elementary school. She didn’t make it far this time, but she was fun to watch.

Nina

Saturday the 17th Nina wasn’t feeling well, and Jill was expecting a Strep diagnosis. Instead, it was flu – and I got it later that night. So we had a miserable couple of days, but that was all, probably due to us both having the flu shot and using Tamiflu. We did have fun sending emojis on Skype and watching movies, including The Force Awakens. I was back at work on Wednesday but Jill was off and they did a picnic outside for lunch.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 24th was another cheer competition, this one in Bowie. Dad and Patricia joined us, but Bowie High School was smaller and more crowded than Mary Washington and we headed out immediately after the first section of winners was announced. We went to Old Town Deli in downtown Bowie for lunch, it hit the spot. That night Nina had a babysitter and we met a bunch of Shantytowners at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington (Chris Ch. was visiting) before concert #5: Robbie Schaefer’s new musical Light Years at the Signature Theatre. A delight for fans of his (like us).

Wednesday was Nina’s next egg challenge: french toast. Jill said “So, she didn’t pass with flying colors. BUT, she didn’t fail, either. We have been given the go ahead to continue the egg challenge in small amounts at home which is very encouraging. She tolerated small amounts and didn’t have any issues until 3 hours later, 1 hour after her last and largest ‘dose’. She’s still on only baked egg when at school or not with us, but we can start introducing mayo based salad dressing, egg noodles, lasagna, meatballs, etc with egg in it. All in all, it was a tough day, but I’m glad we did it and hopeful that we can accomplish most of the hard work at home over time so we won’t have to do it again!” That night the Scary Godmother doll I’d helped crowdfund years ago finally arrived, and Nina loved it and the story.

Kerry Nina

January

Tuesday the 2nd I watched the premiere of The X-Files and was not happy. A moment of excitement couldn’t make up for the rest being boring. Even the Robert Patrick era wasn’t that bad. I also agree that Marvel’s Inhumans was one of the worst shows of the year, but it still wasn’t as bad as the first episode of X-Files. #xfilesdoubleburn Schools were closed Thursday and Friday. I got Nina over to Lifetime gym too late for camp, but Ursula offered to take Nina and her two swimming.

Nina

Just as I was putting Nina to bed Friday night, a fire engine pulled up in the parking lot, then another one (eventually 8). Nina insisted I go out and check, and there was a fire in the townhouse on our row – challenging with temps in the 20s. We hosted the girls from the townhouse next to the fire until it was out. Saturday I took her to a Princesses and Pirates Party, which was hard at first because she got there late and didn’t know a lot of the kids, but she rallied. She had a playdate later.

Nina

Sunday the 7th Lake Thoreau had been frozen solid for a week straight, so we took the kids out on it for the first time. Later I wanted to let Fairfax County Public Schools know “monitor the weather” all you want, close early if you must, but for God’s sake, open on time tomorrow. They didn’t, of course. Over the last month, and finishing on Monday’s snow day, I showed Nina the first two Star Wars trilogies. I thought that would answer all her questions. I was severely mistaken – I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Tuesday I had my first colonoscopy, happily results were good.

Nina Kerry

That Friday was my 1st concert of 2018, and a doozy: Ben Folds and the National Symphony Orchestra hosted Sara Bareilles & Caroline Shaw. I wished there had been more Ben Folds, but Sara Bareilles doing all her hits was fun. While I was out Jill and Nina went to Terraset movie night. The next night was a potluck with Jill’s knitting group – it was all ladies chatting yarn and Nina played with the kids in the house, so I curled up in a chair and read most of The Children of Húrin, finishing it the next day. Sunday was concert #2: Eddie From Ohio on their annual 3 night stand at the Birchmere. Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since it started, and that we haven’t missed a year yet. Jill’s sister and mom had come down to drop her niece back down at college, so she had Chinese food with them and then came to the Birchmere with her sister. Meanwhile Chris had come down with daughter #2, so I met them and his brother and mother and we all went out to dinner at Holy Cow (great burgers), then Chris and I went to the Birchmere. Jill didn’t get there until Eddie From Ohio started and left before they were done.

Nina

Saturday the 20th my sister was in town for the weekend and we met up with her and her family as well as my dad and his girlfriend at The National Museum of the American Indian. The kids area was a great place for Nina and her cousin to explore. Afterwards we got lunch from some nearby food trucks. That night Jill’s work had its holiday party at Congressional Country Club, very elegant. Sunday Jill started a new weight loss program with lean meats and no breads – definitely a cooking challenge for me, especially compared to our usual fare. I realized I don’t know when I first noticed (I think it’s been a month or two), but it’s so awesome to be able to wake your kid up to reposition them and have them go right back to sleep.

Jill Kerry

Friday the 26th I was reminded of the only time I saw The Cranberries. Funny, I remember she’d been hit by something and they left instead. Saturday we got Nina’s new loft bed, which had been built by Stuart for Olivia, then gifted to family friends, and now it needed a new home, while someone had been asking about one. Jill rented a truck and we picked it up. It was painted white and had a lot of writing on it, so Nina picked new colors for it at Home Depot (her favorites, pink and blue). Luckily the day was mild after the weeks of bitter cold and we painted it outside. Sunday we put it together after Jill got padding and fabric for the plywood landings.

Nina

Tuesday I was wondering which classic rocker would be a must see for Nina next, then I saw Roger Daltrey would perform the Who’s ‘Tommy’ with the Wolf Trap Orchestra in June. Later that night I found emmet swimming’s set at the HFSMas Nutcracker.

Nina

December

Our last day at Disney World was the 1st, and also the only day Jill joined us in the morning. It was straight to Magic Kingdom as we had breakfast with friends from The Hundred Acre Wood. Next, Nina wanted to meet Merida again (but they didn’t let her shoot the bow and arrow this time) and we went over and waited to ride Splash Mountain – Nina loved the end. Nina and I explored Tom Sawyer Island, then we rode the train back to the entrance and our lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. We were going to use a VIP lunch there to secure a VIP spot for the parade, but gave that a pass because we would have lost our Fastpass for the Buzz Lightyear ride (Nina preferred the Toy Story ride though).

Nina Jill

We saw the line wasn’t bad for Rapunzel and Tiana and met them again, and finally caught the Wicked Stepsisters after missing them last trip. Nina and Jill rode the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad then Jill went shopping and I took Nina to see The Muppets in Liberty Square. Nina and Jill rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Nina got to do some shopping, then it was time for dinner at Be Our Guest where we got to meet The Beast after dinner. We had time to stop at Beaches & Cream for ice cream all around before an early bedtime.

Jill Nina Kerry

We got on the Disney bus for a 5AM trip to the airport and an uneventful flight, getting back just in time for Nina to go to a birthday party and Nutcracker rehearsal. I’d nearly forgotten that I’d bought tickets to the NPR Music Turns 10: Concert and Party at the 9:30 Club that night, and Jill was toast. I sold my extra ticket and went anyway. I wasn’t really into heading into DC on 3 hours sleep, but then I walked in and Jeff Tweedy was on stage and somehow I was wide awake. They had kept the guest list a complete surprise – other big names were Bon Iver and Margo Price.

Nina

Saturday the 9th it was snowing, but not bad enough to stop Nina and I from going to Scrawl Books to see Dar Williams sing and talk about her new book (plus Nina got a couple new books) while Jill went to her monthly sewing class. Nina had a dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker that night.

Dar

Tuesday I took off in the middle of the day so Jill and I could have a lunch date at Fiola. Some fine Italian food, and thanks to the egg in her pasta only the second time ever we’ve switched entrees (I thought it was delicious and she enjoyed my lobster ravioli). Wednesday the 13th Nina had her dance recital (to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock), and I was incensed over the new Patreon fees – this is how it worked out for me:
14 $1.00 per month pledges, so $14 -> $19.32
4 $2.00 per month pledges, so $8 -> $9.64
3 $3.00 per month pledges, so $9 -> $10.32
1 $5.00 per month pledges, so $5 -> $5.50
For a total: $36 -> $44.78. Unacceptable, so I deleted all pledges and vowed to supporting creators on new platforms. Then of course they reversed course the next day, and I reinstated all pledges.

Nina

Friday Nina had the real dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker at Centreville High School, then we each got takeout and headed home (the banh mi’s from Park N Shop were delicious). The next day we were all back at Centreville High School for the official performance at 2PM (Dad and Patricia came as well), and it went off without a hitch.

Nina

Things that they don’t warn parents about #43: It will take an hour to convince your child to go into winter break camp. That’s what I learned on Monday the 18th as Nina was very anxious about going to a new school where she might not know anyone (turned out she did, and made a new friend). She didn’t make it back that week, as she got 2 colds in little over a week, and that triggered a severe asthma attack. I was home Tuesday and she got to watch Star Wars for the first time, then that night I went to see The Last Jedi, and it was even sweeter for having just watched the original. Thursday I was home again, so I made her watch Phantom Menace and gave her an ice cream cone in the bathtub. History will decide if I’m the best or worst parent ever.

Nina

Friday Nina was better and we went to Jammin’ Java as planned for Todd Wright’s Annual Santa Clauster-f@%! Christmas Spectacular – some great Christmas songs, as usual. We usually have host a holiday party in early December, and because the Nutcracker rehearsals had taken all our Saturdays, tried having a party 2 days before Christmas. Surprisingly we had about average attendance and most importantly 7 kids so Nina had a blast. I had not hit Whamageddon yet, so I introduced Whamageddon Roulette – it was added to the playlist for the party (I hit it about an hour after the party during clean up).

Nina

Christmas Eve we headed to church, Nina opened her new pajamas and then we got to work. After all the gifts were wrapped and stockings were stuffed, it was time to break out the nog. Happiness abounded on Christmas – Nina’s favorite gift was a pink Polaroid camera from Nana (until the film runs out), lovely ham dinner with my dad and Patricia, and the Doctor Who Christmas Special was brilliant. Only bad part is that it was too cold for Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights with Nina still vulnerable and Jill coming down with bronchitis.

Nina

Nina was back at winter break camp on Boxing Day. Jill’s dad and his wife came to visit on Saturday the 30th, then Nina got to play games with the neighbors on New Year’s Eve before I made roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding for dinner. Nina asked to stay up until midnight, but we showed her the video of Times Square and she got to see the London fireworks before bedtime, then Jill and I had a games night with my new Christmas gifts until it was almost midnight, then we were in bed not much later.

Pepe Nina Meme