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October

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Saturday the 1st my nephew Jake was still in town. I took him and Nina to play at Kid Junction, then Jill took them to watch a roller derby game before meeting up at Nando’s for dinner (preferred dining destination for all my nieces and nephews). Sunday Jake and I took Metro down to Nats Park to watch the Nationals beat the Marlins in the last game of the season. He’d never seen a major league game of football or baseball before, and I had offered him a choice since both teams were in town that day. While we were out, Nina was at a birthday party at Walker Nature Center, then we had takeout from Hunan East for dinner

Nina

After we couldn’t find her vest, found out she had Spanish class that day, and didn’t bring the troll toy from the cereal box that morning, Nina had a world class meltdown right in front of school on Thursday. And when we sat on the bench, of course it was wet.

Nina

Saturday the 8th we had a photo session (this power loader comes with the tea party option package), I took Nina to the Oktoberfest Reston after swimming, had some food and walked around. Later, we all went to see Beth Patterson at a house concert in Fairfax Station. Nina wasn’t into the concert, but did enjoy sitting on the circular stairs, watching their dog run around. The next week I was home with Nina on Columbus Day (finally got around to making her the car out of cardboard boxes she’d been asking for since she saw it in her Highlights Magazine), then in training in Sterling for 3 days, trying to study and answer work emails.

power loader

Some years, all the tours I want to see hit DC. This year, not so much, so Saturday night the 15th I was off for the 3rd concert trip this year. This time, just a drive up to Philly for the closest stop on the Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman tour. All former Yes members, and most importantly included Trevor Rabin who hasn’t toured in 20 years and wrote many demos that became 90125. His tenor combined with Jon Anderson’s alto tenor are a large part of my favorite Yes performances, and I was not disappointed by the show. I also stopped at Main Street Music before the show for some really good used CD shopping, and at Lee’s Hoagie House on the way out to get a hoagie for the 3 hour drive home (shopping earlier meant skipping dinner because of traffic on the way up).

ARW

Sunday the 16th Jill and Nina mad fall candles. Tuesday Nina had a field trip to Trader Joe’s to shop for pumpkins. Friday I went by myself to Lisner Auditorium for the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees tour. I try never to miss Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle were good, and The Milk Carton Kids were a delight. Saturday was my birthday and was fairly ordinary to start – vacuuming, mowing and tree trimming. Then Jill brought Bon Chon chicken home, and we all went out to Disney On Ice. Finally we came home and I had homemade carrot cake my girls made – delicious.

Nina

Sunday I worked to get a day off the following week – Jill took Nina to church and had her during the early afternoon, then dropped her off at my work and I took her to Arrowbrook Park to play. I was caught up to issue 150 of The Walking Dead, but that still didn’t prepare me for the season premiere of the TV show that night – devastating.

Nina

Tuesday the 25th Nina had decided gymnastics was no longer for her – instead starting dance (ballet and tap) at Greater Washington Dance Center (she loved it). After the class our friend Patty was in town, so we went to Lorna and Dave’s for dinner for a Mid-Lanty Shanty and all had takeout from Thai Tada.

Nina

Wednesday was Nina’s school picture day and my day off, with lots of errands and cleaning. That night and the next I had the pleasure of two concerts at the Barns at Wolf Trap with the former lead singers of Fountains of Wayne and Great Big Sea. Both offered good helpings of their former bands, while following new paths. Chris Collingwood’s Look Park (with Philip Price from Winterpills, I was hoping he might be opening, but I’ll take him anytime) was a bit softer than his old band while Alan Doyle has brought electric guitar into his mix. The second night was vastly improved by Jill joining me and our dinner beforehand at Caboose Brewing (belated birthday celebration, good cheese plate and beer sampler combination). Also on Thursday Nina had her physical (first flu shot) as well as her passport application.

Jill Alan

Friday the 28th Nina rode her bike while I followed and we had dinner together at Flippin’ Pizza. Saturday Nina’s school had their Halloween Party and I volunteered to work a shift of games. That evening we went to a chili party at the house of some of Jill’s friends from knitting, and Nina got to roast marshmallows.

Nina

Sunday I was out for the 3rd night in a week, this time to see Weird Al, Emo Philips and Tig Notaro talk over UHF at the Lincoln Theatre. Great fun, especially when they turned up the audio so we could yell our favorite lines. Chris would have loved it.

Emo Al Tig

Monday was Halloween and Jill made scary popcorn bags for Nina’s class potluck lunch. Later we met at one of Nina’s friends and had pizza, then the 3 friends went trick or treating around the neighborhood.

Nina

September

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Friday the 2nd was Nina’s birthday. She got the entire collection of DC Super Hero Girls in the morning (including Katana, a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive), then we went to Disney In Concert at Wolf Trap that evening with Sue and Dave for summer concert #26.

Nina

The next afternoon was Nina’s birthday party at Goldfish Swim School, and truly the best run birthday party we’d ever been part of, plus Nina had a blast with all her friends. My dad and Patricia came over for lunch, and Mom and David were over after the party for dinner, as well as brunch the next day.

Jill Nina Kerry

Monday the 5th we went into the city with Sue and Dave. We visited the Natural History Museum, then walked over to the Old Ebbitt Grill for an early dinner. Tuesday school hadn’t started yet, so Jill took Nina apple picking. Wednesday Nina was excited for her first day of kindergarten.

Nina

Nina got a Luigi figure at school, and wanted to know all about him. She was excited when she learned he helped rescue princesses, and wanted to know all about them (and we downloaded an emulator and Super Mario Bros. to her tablet). Then she ran across this image and had me read it to her, and wanted to know why Princess Rosalina was good. #sheisnotoldenoughforthisconversation

princesses

Sunday the 11th I took Nina to see Cheap Trick and Joan Jett at the Lube. She had an ok time, but it would have worked better on a Saturday night or a closer venue. That was summer concert #27 and a wrap on summer concerts; Nina was with me at 18.

Nina

Friday the 16th I finally got to the top of my concert bucket list: Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra. And they’d been there for a long time – when they were going to tour in 2001 they weren’t scheduled to hit the DC area, so I’d planned my first trip just for a band. I was going to fly to St. Louis to see them, but ticket sales were bad and they scrapped the whole tour (later that year I flew to Seattle for 1 song from someone else, but that’s a story for another time). There were two small shows last fall for the new album that sold out instantly, so the 3 shows last week in LA and 2 this weekend in NYC felt like my only chance.

ELO

But the show was worth the wait (and the trip). His voice hasn’t let up one iota, he’s got a crack band, and a killer set list. The weirdest part was noticing the bassist is the same one that’s playing in the mini Yes reunion next month. The trip up and back was easy, took Amtrak as usual, had a quick early dinner at Antico Noè and stayed at Pod 51. I can’t see me in this picture, but I’m in there somewhere.

ELO

The next morning I stopped at Ess-a-Bagel to get a breakfast sandwich for myself and a dozen bagels for Jill before catching my train. In the afternoon we met up with a lot of Shantytowners at Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern for the Stuart Jewell Memorial Concert. Lots of locals and friends on stage to honor his memory in the way he would have enjoyed the most. We had made no special plans, and belatedly realized a babysitter would be a good thing. Luckily Sarah, our regular, was available and we joined the crowd at Lorna and Dave’s for a bonfire after the show.

Kerry Jill

Friday the 23rd Nina had her first field trip of the year – back to Stribling Orchard where she’s gone apple picking before. The next afternoon I took her over to a friend’s house where most of her class was gathered for a get together. Later she started going down hills on her balance bike.

Nina

Wednesday I saw an interesting question on a message board: Longest span between seeing same band/artist?

My response:
21 years apart seeing Mr. Big (open for Rush, than at M3). Yeah, so uncool, I know. Oh, wait – 22 years apart seeing Joan Jett. Much better. And Veruca Salt would also be 21 years.

Nina

Friday the 30th, my nephew, Jake, came to visit, and his first event was with us at Nina’s school birthday celebration (which I had to leave early because a contractor at my mom’s house showed up early).

Nina

August

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Monday the 1st we were on vacation in East Longmeadow, MA at the Bradys’. Jill and Melissa took the kids to Spec Park that morning where Dominic works, then we were bird paramedics in the afternoon for a fledgling. It was rare for me to be caught up on pop culture other than music (as that day I was watching 3 kids in a pool), but having watched Ghostbusters 2.0 the previous week and having read Harry Potter 8 over the past two days, I thought both were excellent.

Ava Nina

Tuesday we took Nina to Nonotuck Park in Easthampton, then went to Northampton. We had lunch at Sam’s Pizzeria and Cafe (it was ok), then caught Pokemon with Nina as the other ran errands (CDs and yarn, natch). Jill had downloaded Pokemon Go that morning as Maddy and Tiernan were into it, and we started to get competitive. That night, Melissa, Jill and I went out to Max Burger for some delicious burgers and shakes.

Nina

Wednesday all the kids visited a friend’s pool. We forgot Nina’s medicine, so I went back for it and stocked up for camping at Table & Vine (the important supplies). We got takeout from Nick’s Nest for lunch at Sue’s house, then spent the rest of the day there (where even more cousins showed up). I went back to Northampton with Maddy and Tiernan so they could hunt Pokemon (and go to their first gym). For dinner I picked up McDonald’s and Chinese takeout from Golden Chopsticks (not bad, but I feel they were better last time we went).

Ahna Nina

Thursday the 4th we bought food at Stop & Shop, then found a Sonic that was kind of on the way for lunch before leaving for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We got the tent set up and welcomed the Cannons’ arrival, then helped them make Mexican for dinner. Afterwards we took the kids down to the Lounge Stage to see Reggie Harris with Pat Wictor, then I came back later to see Pesky J. Nixon, Peter Mulvey, The Sea The Sea, and Joe Jenks (summer concert #18).

Kerry Nina

Friday was lots of running around, followed by Stuart’s wake and the Shanty luau/steak and martini night. After the main stage, I went over to the Budgiedome for Summer concert #19: Mike + Ruthy, Eric Schwartz, and Pesky J. Nixon. Saturday had some light morning rain (pretty much the only precipitation of the fest), then Nina and I joined the Cannons at the kids tent for crafts and play (I managed to catch the Most Wanted Song Swap twice for summer concert #20). That night Jill, Nina and I joined some other Shantytowners at the main stage to see summer concert #21: The Mike + Ruthy Band. After all the kids were in bed, there was an epic singing night in camp.

Shantytowne

Sunday we packed up and unusually started heading straight home (we often had spent the night at Sue’s before going back). We made the early decision to go through Pennsylvania, and stopped at Salsa’s Mexican Grille for dinner. Nina had 2 more firsts that day: 1st pee on the side of the road, and 1st use of “dammit” (after discussion, she’s now using “shucky ducky”). Monday Jill and I were off, but work ended up needing me for half a day, plus I had to meet a contractor at my mom’s house (and inadvertently risked exposure to hepatitis A).

Shantytowne

Tuesday the 9th we went to Nando’s Peri-Peri for dinner before heading over to Verizon Center for summer concert #22. I was very tempted to take Nina to Paul McCartney 2 years previous when he played Nationals Park, but I’m glad it worked out to take her that night. He was in fine form and she had a great time. Hopefully someday she’ll be able to appreciate what he’s done for music.

Nina Paul McCartney

The next night Jill and I saw Matt Nathanson put on his usual crowd pleasing show on a sweltering night at Wolf Trap for summer concert #23 (and missed out connecting with our friend Linda). We had dinner at the Encore Circle, which has expanded in size and decreased the quality and quantity of the food.

Matt

Saturday the 13th was possibly the hottest day of the year, so of course I made the unwise decision to walk with Nina over to a birthday on the next lake. At least I was smart enough to have Jill pick us up at the end. Later I went to the 9:30 Club for summer concert #24: Belly. Amazing that I’ve been to so many concerts, but there are still acts I missed for some reason. Plus I even took Chris to a listening party for “King” and had them sign a bootleg (I was so snarky). Situation remedied, Tanya and Gail were rock stars that night.

Belly

The week of the 15th was no fun. Nina got strep and stayed home Monday and Tuesday, then caught a cold Thursday night and was home on Friday. Thursday the 25th Nina and I got takeout (Wendy’s for her, Santini’s for me and went to Lake Anne. We saw Iona for summer concert #25, played in the fountain and caught some Pokemon (Nina’s developing a really good throw of the ball).

Nina Barbara

Getting a dinner out (at Jardenea) and seeing John Oliver would have been a good night on Saturday (minus the idiot in the hotel lobby outside the restaurant), but we almost literally ran into the Greenes on the way into the Kennedy Center. Couldn’t have had a nightcap afterwards with nicer folks (at Bourbon Steak). Jill’s mom and Dave came to visit that night, and the next day Nina got to fish with Dave before we went out for dinner at Ford’s Fish Shack.

Kerry Jill

The last week of August Nina’s school didn’t offer summer camp, so we had put her in a half day camp at her gym. Sue and Dave picked her up each afternoon so neither Jill nor I needed to use vacation time that week. Wednesday Jill, Nina and Sue went to Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios in Tyson’s, and Dave and I walked over to Red’s Table for drinks.

Sue Dave Nina

June

Friday, July 1st, 2016

The summer concert season kicked off on Wednesday the 1st with Boy George and Cyndi Lauper, and Operation: Cheaper Than A Babysitter was a success. Nina had a blast, the show was great (featuring David Bowie and Prince covers as well as duets on T. Rex’s “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”). One lesson learned: don’t keep playing her the big hit that won’t be played until the bitter end (she was asleep 3 minutes into the drive home). Thursday Jill’s mom and Auntie Kelley stayed the night on their road trip home, and we got takeout from Red’s Table.

Auntie Kelley Nina

Summer concert #2 was John Prine and Patty Griffin, on Friday, by myself. Sixth time seeing her, but first time solo. Good show, loved “Angel From Montgomery” by Prine. The big discovery was his guitarist, Jason Wilber, very talented. Saturday Nina and I helped with the annual lake cleanup after her swimming lesson. Sunday we all went to Awesome Con in DC, where despite long lines we got to meet Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi (and have a nice lunch at Nando’s).

Jenna Coleman Kerry Nina Jill Peter Capaldi

Summer concert #3 was Mudcrutch at the 9:30 Club (on Monday the 6th, by myself), because when Tom Petty plays a club, you should go. And you should pick up the 2 Mudcrutch CDs, because he sounds reinvigorated on them (but they don’t have the killer cover of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” they busted out for the first time last night). Wednesday was Nina’s last day of school so I picked her up at 1 and took her to gymnastics later. Jill took an extra day off to watch her on Thursday and Friday, taking her to the dentist Thursday morning, then I met them at Lake Anne for Nina’s class picnic that afternoon.

Mudcrutch

Saturday we went over to Lorna and Dave’s for a garden party in the afternoon, then it was time for summer concert #4 – The B-52s. Too hot and crowded at Celebrate Fairfax to get close, but they played all the hits. Fireworks afterwards was the 1st time Nina liked them. Too bad we didn’t get her into bed until 11 (the late concerts are OK, it’s the late bedtimes that kill us).

Nina

Summer concert #5 was Living Colour on Sunday the 12th. Back to Celebrate Fairfax – we didn’t see all of the show (as someone was taking full advantage of her unlimited rides handstamp), but we did get there in time to see them tear through Glamour Boys/Love Rears Its Ugly Head/Type/Cult of Personality while we ate our shaved ice in the shade. Afterwards, Nina said she wanted to be a Glamour Girl.

Nina

Summer concert #6 was Abbie Gardner & Jesse Terry on Tuesday. I still prefer her with Anthony da Costa, but Jesse Terry has a good voice, and they pulled out some fine covers, including The Civil Wars’ “Forget Me Not” and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping”. Wednesday we had tickets to Howard Jones/O.M.D./Barenaked Ladies, but someone got a possible concussion at summer camp and we had to cancel.

Nina

Summer concert #7 was The Lone Bellow & Lake Street Dive on Thursday the 16th. Good show, but leaving in the rain was a pain. Summer concert #8 was Laura Lea & Tripp Fabulous on Friday. We only went to the Taste of Reston to eat chocolate covered strawberries, but someone couldn’t resist a concert after 2 days of enforced rest.

Nina

Saturday morning I took Nina to the Reston District Station Open House and Grand Opening after her swimming lesson. She enjoyed sitting in the helicopter and bus, acting as Goldilocks, and eating shaved ice. Summer concert #9 was Dave Matthews Band, which resulted in this:
Nina: What’s that stinky smell?
Me: Uh – someone’s trying to smoke some plants they shouldn’t.
Her 1st Dave Matthews show, my 42nd. She got the full experience, from tailgating, to people in our seats, & epic jams (but her favorite part may have been ice cream cones at the 24 hour Baskin Robbins).

Nina

Summer concert #10 was Sting & Peter Gabriel on Thursday the 23rd. We preceded what was probably the biggest and best concert of the summer with the biggest and best meal at NoPa Kitchen + Bar (fried strawberry rhubarb pies to die for). The show was outstanding, similar in format to Sting & Paul Simon’s tour a couple years back, with the singers and bands swapping out repeatedly. A murderers’ row of hits, not really any time for breaks during the show.

Peter Gabriel

After my 3rd morning on my mom’s house that month (gotta rent that place out), summer concert #11 was Riverdance on Saturday. Still a great show, and Nina loved it. But we left at intermission because we were exhausted (and still didn’t get her into bed before 10). Sunday night I was watching the Game of Thrones season finale with a bad taste in my mouth. Because my daughter handed me a toy in the bath at head level, and I grabbed it with my teeth to be funny, only to discover it was smeared with soap.

Nina Kerry

Summer concert #12 was Dreamworks Animation In Concert with National Symphony Orchestra on Thursday the 30th. Because is anything more fun than picnicking and watching cartoons on a giant screen? And thank god for intermissions (and leaving then), or we’d never get her to bed at a reasonable time.

Nina

May

Monday, June 27th, 2016

After having to sell tickets to see Ben Folds at the Kennedy Center twice, I decided not to mess around on Tuesday the 3rd. I got to see soundcheck and take a picture, then had dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern (had to try the bone barrow). I thought yMusic was a better accompaniment then the National Symphony Orchestra last time (and “Rock This Bitch” is always entertaining with lots of musicians).

Ben Folds Kerry

Friday we decided a week straight of rain is enough. We used reverse psychology and played all rain songs that night to make it go away. Saturday I took Nina to Free Comic Book Day at The Comic Shop in Fair Oaks Mall before her swim lesson. There was a long line to checkout, but she loved her new DC Super Hero Girls comic book. Later we went to the Reston Zoo for a birthday party. She always loves to see her friends, and seeing the animals was a bonus. On Mother’s Day Jill wanted Italian, so we went to Pazzo Pomodoro with my mom.

Nina

Saturday the 13th Mom watched Nina at night while I joined Jill at National Harbor (there all weekend at a conference) for dinner at Old Hickory Steakhouse. Delicious steak, and stimulating intellectual conversation with her coworkers. Sunday we went to Kid Junction for their anniversary party that included a train ride and pony ride outside, then had Wendy’s takeout at a nearby playground.

Nina

Friday the 20th Nina was happy – she’d been begging Jill to come in and read to her class, Jill finally had a Friday morning free and did it. That evening we did some epic sidewalk chalk art on the path outside (she likes big dragons).

Nina Kerry

Tuesday the 24th I went outside at work to take some pictures of the Snowbirds circling Dulles. Thursday my dad picked up Jill’s dad at BWI and stayed the night with us (I trapped him to get information on a lot of old family pictures). They left early the next morning on a road trip to the Indianapolis 500 (a gift from us).

Dave Nina Bryce

Saturday the 28th we went to Maryland for Hannah’s housewarming – Nina liked meeting the cats and playing in the backyard. Sunday Nina made the hard choice to watch the Indianapolis 500 (where 2 of her grandfathers were) or put on a show (ok, wasn’t that hard). Later my mom came over to watch and we had dinner over at Hunan East. We were planning on catching a movie after that, but weren’t feeling, so instead we drove home and walked over to Red’s Table for drinks and dessert. Tuesday the 29th we had Nina’s BFF and family over for dinner.

Nina

April

Friday, May 13th, 2016

I’d only seen Heather Nova once before because I was in London the same time she was performing there in 2002. So when she came to Jammin’ Java on Saturday the 2nd I was pretty excited. She put on a great show with all the classics I wanted to hear (especially “Heart And Shoulder”). The next day I took Nina to a birthday party at JW Tumbles – I would have thought she was too big it now, but she loved playing there with her friends.

Heather Nova

Wednesday I went over to Mom’s as she and David were having a civil ceremony since Tom wasn’t certified to perform the ceremony in Virginia. We drove over to the celebrant’s house with her friend Mary and witnessed the deed, then Mom and David took us out to lunch at Villa Mozart. It was delicious, but I had to make up a big chunk of work later in the week.

Mary Nancy David Kerry

It never fails that there’s at least one show each spring that has me looking forward to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Thursday the 7th it was the lovely voiced Aoife O’Donovan with Anthony da Costa on guitar while Mark Erelli opened. Great night of music that had me looking forward to summer. Saturday I took Nina to the Reston book sale after her swimming lesson and she picked out a bunch of books. We thought about going over to Reston Founder’s Day at Lake Anne but it was windy and rainy. That night there was a price glitch at Amazon and many albums were marked down to free – I spent hours downloading over 200 free albums (late that night the prices reverted).

Nina

Sunday the 10th I headed to DC after breakfast to take the train to NYC for my 2nd solo trip since Nina came along. I got to the Seton Hotel in the afternoon – the one bad thing about it was the “shared bathroom” meant 2 bathrooms for the whole floor. I walked over to the Num Pang Sandwich Shop and got the Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly sandwich (hit the spot), then read for a while before heading over to Radio City Music Hall.

David Gilmour

The reason for the trip was David Gilmour. The voice and guitar of Pink Floyd hadn’t toured the USA in 10 years and I figured it would be the last (last time we took a trip to Toronto). I bought a ticket for the Monday show at Madison Square Garden and figured going to the smaller venue would be even better. But I was wrong. I was way up front, but couldn’t see much of the visuals. Also the subwoofers were right there and the bass was too loud, never mind the asshat behind me that never stopped yelling out requests.

David Gilmour

The next morning I slept in, then headed over to Academy Records to shop. For lunch I went across the street to The Gander and had a delicious lunch of duck and charred cauliflower. I also went to Other Music to shop as well. I had a quick break back at the room (got a Shake Shack shake as they were next door to the hotel), then I picked up a “Killer Bee” pizza from B Side Pizza as I walked over to stand in line at the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. You’d have thought I learned my lesson from the first time we tried (and failed) to see the Daily Show, but it was a long line with only about 10 people behind me. When I made it in, I figured everything was fine, but when we got seated, the music stopped with 5 people to go (including me). The lady in charge offered to seat 3 of us on the edge and offered 2 VIP tickets as a consolation prize – luckily the first folks opted for VIP and I got to see the show. Good show and panel (frankly, one my favorite shows anyway) but weird to hear the unbleeped profanity.

Nightly Show

The reason I stopped for food was there was no time afterwards, just straight over to Madison Square Garden (well, time for a drink there before the show started). I was already enjoying the show more than the night before (amazing visuals, perfect sound, great performance)… and then I ran into Neil Gaiman in the bathroom line at intermission. He showed me a lovely picture of his new son, we talked about phones (he still has the BlackBerry). The rest of the show was great, but I kept chuckling to myself about the weird way the universe works. Vacation is the only time I can justify both starting and ending the day sitting at a bar. I was hungry by the time I got out of the subway at Grand Central, and stopped in at the Park Avenue Tavern. Unfortunately their kitchen had just closed so I had a Ludlow cocktail (with muddled cucumber) while I pondered my options. I settled on Scotty’s Diner down the block, where I could have two things I’d been craving: fried eggs (perfect) and carrot cake (meh). The next morning I stopped at Bagel Express for a bagel sandwich for me and a dozen to take home to Jill, then had a pleasant trip home in the rain. I started reading the Walking Dead comics when I left, got up to issue 80 by the time I got back.

David Gilmour

Wednesday the 13th Jill was a chaperone on Nina’s class trip to the National Zoo. Thursday Jill and I met at Lake Anne for the Lake Anne Brew House Pre-Opening Event (I was a KickStarter backer) and tried their new beverages (now we just need a brewpub at South Lakes). Friday Nina and had dinner at Cafesano with her BFF and his family (she can’t have the pizza anymore since they added an eggwash, but she ate some chicken skewers with her lentil soup).

Nina

Saturday Nina and I took the Metro to the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Nina loved the science fair – her favorites were the army VR (interactive helicopter mission) and building a neuron. She wasn’t impressed by They Might Be Giants – after 10 minutes asked where the giants were (and she really wanted a light up yo-yo).

Nina

Sunday Jill took Nina to Meadowlark Gardens in the morning while I did yardwork and went shopping. Later I took her to Toys “R” Us to get a yo-yo (it didn’t light up but she wanted one right then) before we were to meet Jill at the nearby Don Pablo’s for dinner – except they’d closed it (bye to my favorite queso). So we went to Plaza Azteca (and you can’t go wrong with table side guacamole when you have a picky eater).

Nina

Wednesday the 20th Mom came over to watch Nina and Jill and walked over to Red’s Table for a beer dinner with beers from Fair Winds Brewing (ironically I’d just filled my growler with their anniversary ale a couple days earlier). The first course featured the largest calamari I’d ever seen stuffed with sausage and Jill loved the spiced butter chicken, but the topper was the hazelnut cream doughnut topped with a rhubarb compote. Thursday the 21st Prince passed away, and it felt like that was the heaviest musical passing yet, as I spent weeks hunting down great performances and covers of his songs.

Nina

Mom’s wedding was on Saturday the 23rd. It was a small crowd of relatives, including my sister and my uncle. After the ceremony, we all went over to the Peking Gourmet Inn for lunch. I thought Nina might try the duck, but I was wrong – she settled for some chicken and broccoli without sauce. After a break, we came back in the evening so we could visit with my sister and her family, and brought over some Flippin’ Pizza and Bon Chon Chicken for dinner.

Nancy Tom David

We had the Norwoods over for brunch and playtime the next day. Later I went into DC and saw Generation Axe (Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme, Zakk Wylde from Ozzy, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Steve Vai) with my college buddy Eric. I wasn’t going to take pictures that night, but then Zakk Wylde decided to demonstrate shredding behind his head right next to me.

Zakk Wylde

Tuesday Jill took Nina into DC to see the Renwick Gallery and the Building Museum. Saturday the 30th I went to Scrawl Books for Independent Bookstore Day and got my Neil Gaiman coloring book after being 8th in line. They’re teeny tiny but have lots of books. Later, Nina’s school had International Day and Nina got to go to all the activities in the different rooms before the African drum concert at the end.

Nina

Two big accomplishments for Nina this month: she learned to write her name and learned to whistle.

March

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I started with a visit to the dentist on Tuesday the 1st, where I found out I had a cavity on the side of a tooth. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but seeing Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell that night was much less depressing than watching election results. Jill’s mom came to visit on Wednesday, and I finally got to go to a beer dinner I could walk home from over at Red’s Table for their Flying Dog beer dinner (the Reuben fries were delicious, and I was glad I didn’t get an extra drink as it was 4 full beers). Thursday Jill and I went to visit Stuart over at Reston Hospital (his last night there, thank goodness). Nina’s asthma had her congested and waking up coughing, so we started new cleaning routines including biweekly baths for Illa. Cleaning her room a lot definitely helped.

Nina

Sunday the 6th Nina had a birthday party to attend at Sport Bounce, then Jill rushed her over to the Reston Community Center to meet me and watch the Mary Poppins play (which neither of us knew deviated from the movie – very long as well, but Nina was a trooper). Monday Nina had a field trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – her favorite part was the class having their lunch on the grass across the street. Wednesday I was sad to hear to hear of George Martin’s passing. I had been listening to a Beatles cover album in the car and cranked up Love when I got home, but I just remembered that I hadn’t shared this lovely find (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolution_%28Beatles_song%29#Take_20). RIP George, John and other George. And then the next day I learned Keith Emerson had also passed and was like WTF, 2016? Just remember I’ve got some big shows coming up…

Nina

Friday the 11th Jill brought Nina to my office as she was headed to Dulles for a meeting in Newark the next morning. Nina and I went over to North Point to look at Lego in the Hallmark store, eat at Boston Market and have dessert at Sweet Frog (we miss having a frozen yogurt place in walking distance). The next day I took her to her swim lesson and then to the Spring Flea Market at the Reston Community Center, where she picked up some clothes and her first race track (Pink colored and they’re racing to go shopping, but at least they’re racing). Later she had a playdate at Meadow Lane Park with Abby C. Sunday Sue watched Nina and Jill and I went to see Deadpool – absolutely hilarious. We followed that with ramen at nearby Okada.

Nina

Wednesday the 16th we celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day a day early with Sue and my mom – Nina even ate some corned beef for the first time. Saturday I drove to the Sully District Governmental Center and waited for a hour in my car to drop off everything that needed to be shredded. It was rainy and cold (with a bit of snow), so no outdoor activities. Nina was thrilled her friend Olivia could come over for a playdate on Sunday (and when her mom went to run errands we were thrilled because that means they’re at the age where they no longer require the supervision of both parents).

Nina

Monday the 21st I was unreasonably proud of this submission. I also found out that LinkedIn says my company is looking for candidates like me. Good algorithm, guys. Wednesday I heard that Axl Rose may replace Brian Johnson in AC/DC. The irony is I saw both Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC in the 90s so wasn’t tempted by the GNR reunion or the AC/DC tour. But put Axl and Angus together and that’s something I want to see (check this out).

Rush

Saturday the 26th we went to On The Border just for a night out (Nina enjoyed the table side guacamole, Jill and I enjoyed some frozen margaritas). The next day was Easter, and Nina loved her Easter basket. After church Nina went on a egg hunt there, then we had a brunch at home with ham and homemade biscuits. Thursday Nina had her first bloody nose (caused by a sharp fingernail).

Jill Nina

February

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Monday the 1st I headed into town to Brick & Mortar where they served food from Honeysuckle (the Duck Leg Confit was a winner). Service was slow, but I hadn’t loved Muse’s opening act. Still, I thought I was late enough I’d missed some of Muse, and was happy that they hadn’t gone on yet. With Bowie covers during my last two concerts, I wondered if I should be hopeful during the show. No covers, and apparently Muse does not feel that Foo Fighters should be the only arena rock gods. Amazing show, better than “The Resistance” tour (and I picked a nice spot to stand near the end of the stage).

Muse

Thursday I dropped Jill and Nina off at National as they were flying to Bradley for part 1 of the new cousin tour. Friday night I was back in the city for some delicious kimchi ramen at OKI Bowl DC & Sake before Behind the Scenes of The Walking Dead, with writers/producers Scott M. Gimple and Greg Nicotero as well as star Andrew Lincoln (who charmingly refused to watch himself during clips). A fascinating conversation ending with a sneak peek of the next episode.

Talking Dead

Saturday I flew up to Boston and spent the night at the Cannons. The next day, Chris and P drove me over to Sharon and Tom’s where Jill and Nina were soon dropped off by Mike, then P and Nina got to play for a while after we all met cousin Joshua (they had been staying at Robin and Mike’s and met cousin Finn). We got pizza and wings to eat for the Super Bowl. Nina said she didn’t like it and we let her watch Peppa Pig for an hour, but she owned the dance party at halftime – she loves her “Uptown Funk”. Too bad we had a meltdown on the way back to the DoubleTree Boston Bayside where their hot chocolate hit the spot and helped sooth the chill (it was snowing).

Nina Mike Finn

Monday we again visited for the afternoon and early evening. We helped Tom’s aunt Trish make spaghetti for dinner, then Tom took us to the T as it was still snowy and we rode over to the the hotel. The airport was pretty busy the next day, but the flight back was decent.

Nina Trish

Friday the 12th I stayed home with Nina as she had a fever the night before. She was feeling better in the evening so I kept our plans to go into town for dinner at Clyde’s of Gallery Place and Disney On Ice at Verizon Center. She enjoyed every part except leaving early. I was worried about a possible ice storm that didn’t happen, and Jill got out of work early to pick us up from the Metro (we’d taken the bus).

Nina

Saturday I went to Iota to finally see FRFF alumni The Sea the Sea (they were great). Sunday Nina and I made a fabulous chocolate cake from scratch. After 3 days mostly at home I was ready to go back to work and bank the holiday, but snow was in the forecast. Snow camp was on for 3 hours, but still worth it – got to watch Walking and Talking Dead before I had to pick her up, then we had a snowball fight and went sledding.

NIna

Saturday the 20th Nina attended the first of four birthday parties in a row (1 per week) – this one a gymnastics themed. Later we discovered snowball fights are more fun at 60 degrees. I had bought Beatles Rock Band for the Wii after Nina enjoyed playing Guitar Hero. We played it for the 2nd time Wednesday night – she chose 4 songs with 4 different lead vocals. Her verdict? She wants to be John Lennon. I told her that was a fine choice.

Nina

Friday the 26th we went to Goldfish Swim School to meet up with Nina’s friend Olivia and her folks for open swim – Nina loved playing with the pool toys (they don’t do that during her lessons there). Saturday was another birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, then Sunday I took Nina to see Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy: The Musical after she played at a nearby playground. Monday night Jill’s work again rented out L’Auberge Chez Francois, this time I was able to come for the deliciousness.

Nina

January

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

New Year’s Day was on a Friday, and we had a calm weekend after not going out the night before. Saturday I found this, which seemed appropriate to start the year: “We tumble together through life, pissing each other off, trying to fix and change each other when there’s no fixing or changing to be done, accepting each other, regarding each other anew, and doing the endlessly exhausting and wonderful work of real love.” – Amanda Palmer

Nina

Tuesday the 5th I noticed we’d been in our house 5 years now, and I just opened the last box of checks with our old address on it. Wednesday Nina got allergy testing via needle pricks (she did not like that) and we found out her true allergies: dogs, cats and dust mites. Guess which family won’t be getting pets again for a while.

Nina

Later that night I went to the 9:30 Club‘s World’s Fair, a pop-up museum at the club for the 9:30 Club’s 35th anniversary (and 20th in the “new” location) – now I know what the club would look like if they ever do a haunted house. The tour started in the basement bar with lots of memorabilia from the old club, then went up the stairs and there was a video screen playing clips of shows there at the regular entrance (and the elevated seat the camera operator had to sit on). Up on the balcony level was more video (at the new location) and hundreds of flyers, newsletters and setlists. I got a peek into the backstage viewing area, then back down to the main level and my favorite thing, The Hall of Records, a library chronicling every headliner at the club in vinyl and CD (which is a permanent exhibit). There was also an immersive video simulation of being the crowd, then I was on the stage with instruments played at the club and a video of the crowd cheering and finally a cupcake as I made my way outside through the backstage.

In honor of that, here are all my shows at the club:
09/10/93 Sweet Water/Sun-60
04/06/94 Kevn Kinney
08/16/94 Sheryl Crow
01/25/95 The Factory/D Generation
02/20/95 Gravel Pit/Letters To Cleo/Seed
01/06/96 The Smashing Pumpkins
02/17/96 Crown Heights/Ruth Ruth/Everclear
04/09/96 The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies/Joan Osborne
07/08/96 Cibo Matto/Porno For Pyros
07/14/96 Kristen Barry/Three Fish
07/19/96 Semisonic/emmet swimming
07/25/96 The Refreshments/Poe/Seven Mary Three
08/28/96 Primitive Radio Gods
12/30/97 Cowboy Junkies
01/15/99 Smartbomb/emmet swimming
03/31/00 Matthew Sweet
08/12/00 EBO/emmet swimming
05/01/01 Blues Traveler
08/04/01 Living Colour
10/29/01 The Moldy Peaches/The Strokes
10/30/01 Ike Reilly/Chris Whitley/Bob Schneider
11/26/01 JJ72/Remy Zero/Pete Yorn
12/04/01 Eve To Adam/Tesla
02/17/02 The Clarks/John Mayer
02/26/02 Gorillaz
06/02/02 Queens Of The Stone Age (with Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan)
07/21/02 OK Go/The Vines
11/26/02 Matt Nathanson/O.A.R.
11/27/02 Matt Nathanson/O.A.R.
06/26/03 The Thorns/The Jayhawks
08/16/03 Sondre Lerche/Liz Phair/Jason Mraz
01/09/04 The Hanging Chads (Don Dixon with Bill Lloyd, Jamie Hoover, and Robert Crenshaw)/emmet swimming
02/03/04 Matt Nathanson/Gavin DeGraw
02/04/04 Stereophonics/Howie Day
03/17/04 The Push Stars/Great Big Sea
04/04/04 Wheat/Liz Phair
04/06/04 The Wildhearts/The Darkness
05/27/04 Living Things/Velvet Revolver
10/08/04 Vertical Horizon
10/31/04 Michael Tolcher/Bowling For Soup/Pat McGee Band
01/08/05 Kenin/emmet swimming
06/24/05 Billy Corgan
10/01/05 Girlyman/Dar Williams
01/13/06 Quitter UK/Lloyd Dobler Effect/emmet swimming
09/15/06 Golden Smog
10/25/06 Alice In Chains
11/04/06 Queensryche
01/05/07 emmet swimming
05/29/07 Keane
06/12/07 Mika
07/10/07 The Smashing Pumpkins
10/14/09 Them Crooked Vultures
02/09/10 Trey Anastasio
05/31/10 30th Anniversary Concert: Tommy Keene/The Evens/Justin Jones/Bob Mould/Ted Leo/Dave Grohl/Scream/The Pietasters
10/17/10 The New Pornographers
05/10/11 My Chemical Romance
05/18/11 Anathema/Blackfield
05/23/11 The Cars
02/08/12 Foxy Shazam/The Darkness
09/12/12 Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra
10/24/14 The Jayhawks
11/22/14 The New Pornographers
05/26/15 Steven Wilson

Kerry Nina

Friday the 8th I was playing with Queen’s 40 years of Bohemian Rhapsody app and made a fun video of Nina doing the headbanging section as well as this disturbing family portrait (titled “Real life or fantasy?”)

Freys

Saturday we took Nina to a friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, first time Jill or I had been there in a long time. Nina loved it, but Jill didn’t. Later that night we dropped Nina at her school for babysitting (a reward for volunteering) while Jill and I had a delicious dinner at Clarity before heading over to Jammin’ Java to see Michael Clem’s CD release show with the Jewells and Lorna and Dave. Sunday I watched the Skins not have a chance. Tuesday the 12th I took advantage of a work meeting in Merrifield to bring back lunch from Sisters Thai – scrumptious Donald Rolls (duck) and Tom Yum.

Jill Nina

Thursday I went to Father’s Night in Nina’s classroom and she showed me the work she did during class – her favorite was yoga. Saturday the 16th I took Nina to her swim class at Goldfish Swim School – she’s learning a lot. Saturday Jill and I went to see Eddie From Ohio perform an amazing all request set (with “Schoolhouse Rock Medley” and an amazing bonus cover of “Space Oddity”), then Sunday I went out for lunch at Hula Girl Bar and Grill (and picked up some crowdfunding rewards) while watching the first playoff game and later saw an entertaining end to a football game as the Cardinals took the Packers Hail Mary score and went right back to score again.

Jill Nina

Monday the 18th was a holiday and I offered Nina the choice of Chuck E. Cheese or a movie, and she choose the mouse. But we had a fun, and this time we got lots of tickets so she got to bring home some prizes (she also really liked Guitar Hero). That night Glenn Frey’s death hit me harder then any other recent one (David Bowie, Lemmy, Alan Rickman), and only a little bit because I always used him as an example of how to correctly pronounce my last name. Don’t let anyone tell you that old bands can’t make great new music – this is one of my favorite Eagles songs.

The Eagles "Hole in the World" on Vimeo.

Friday the 19th we were scheduled to fly down to Jacksonville for Patty & Jesse’s wedding at night, but rescheduled for the morning since there was a monster snowstorm (aka Snowzilla) bearing down on the area. That meant a layover in Atlanta (and Nina’s first foray into motion sickness), but we were at our hotel in the early afternoon. We got some lunch at Crispers and then drove out to Jacksonville Beach. The wedding party was staying at a beach house there, and Jill helped make wedding decorations while Nina and I explored, chasing cats and building sandcastles. That night we met some of the other Shantytowners for dinner at the River City Brewing Company. I had the Florida lobster tail and a glass of the Kentucky Bourbon Ale, both good choices.

Nina

Saturday we met even more Shantytowners for breakfast at The Southern Grill, a classic diner style place. We got lunch at the Cool Moose Cafe after running errands (forgot razors again). The wedding was a short drive away at the Ortega River Club. Nina quickly found the other kids as well as the balloon maker. She was a little upset as most of the other girls were in the wedding party, but felt better once she got to ride on the horse the bride came in on. Everyone had a great time, and she was exhausted when we brought her back to the hotel.

Patty Nina
We had tickets to fly back Sunday, but that flight was canceled on Friday, and the earliest we could fly back was Tuesday. So we checked back into the same room, and drove down to Saint Johns where Jill’s friend Tracey (who we met up with at the Animal Kingdom the month before) and her husband and 3 kids live. There had been snow flurries the day before, but Sunday afternoon it was in the high 50s/low 60s so the kids could play outside. I even got to watch half of the 1st conference championship game. We got Mexican takeout on the way back, but it was meh (Yelp is not perfect). Nina had some asthma that night due to the dogs in the house, but she got to sleep with some medicine.

Nina

Monday the 25th we met the other Shantytowner stragglers for breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company (their Five And Dime was the best meal I had that trip) before we all went to visit the Jacksonville Zoo. Nina liked petting the stingrays and seeing the animals (as well as playing with any children that came close). We separated from the group when Nina wanted to ride the train, and left before they did, with Nina spending an hour at the playground. We got takeout that night from MOJO no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar and it was much better. Nina’s cough was not, and we came close to an ER visit before it subsided.

Nina Jill

Tuesday we drove to the airport and flew home without a hitch (unless you’re counting a daughter who refused to walk at the airport). The drive home wasn’t bad, but Jill’s covered parking space still had a wall of snow blocking it. This was my conversation with Nina over several days:
Saturday:
Me: It’s really snowing hard at home.
Nina: I want to see the snow.

Sunday:
Me: There’s a lot of snow.
Nina: Will there still be snow when we get home?
Me: Yes, we’ll be shoveling outside for a long time.

Tuesday:
Me: Let’s start shoveling.
Nina: Ok!

5 minutes later:
Nina: I’m tired. Can we go inside?

I ended up shoveling about 3 hours that day to get the sidewalks and cars clear – I hate shoveling wet snow, but there was no other choice.

Nina

Saturday the 30th Nina was excited as we got her mattress (as well as our new fold out couch) and that meant we could put together her new bed. Later I drove over to Jammin’ Java to see Au Pair, the new duo with one of my favorite musicians, Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. They have a great new album they performed almost all of, plus a nice cover of “Starman” from Golden Smog’s Blood on the Slacks. Sunday I took Nina to see the Peanuts movie again (it was the last day for some movie passes) and afterwards she played at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax where I used to play after church.

Nina

December

Monday, January 4th, 2016

December started with lots of cleaning – our 15th annual holiday party was coming up. Nina made her first gingerbread house on Tuesday the 1st. The only time I could get together with my Dad to see the new Bond movie was on Saturday the 5th, the day of our party, and I was told never again (great movie though, I can see why Daniel Craig might want to go out on a high note). Later at the party, lots of food and kids made Nina happy and exhausted.

Nina

Sunday at church they had Saint Nicholas’ Day and Nina got Santa to read her a story. Monday I had an idea for a constitutional amendment: Let’s reverse the roles. All persons wishing to run for political office must demonstrate a basic knowledge of the Constitution and our laws. If rich, bigoted a**hats want to run, they can show us how much they really know, or in fact we’ll see they’re windbags inflated by their own hubris (guess which candidates I was unhappy with).

Nina Santa

Wednesday the 9th Nina went on a field trip to Ballantine Farm, and Thursday we had dinner at Penn Commons (loved the “Tuk Tuk” wings) and saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Verizon Center (Nina was a fan of the lights and fake snow). Friday Nina’s school had a concert (her class did “Let It Shine”) and later she and I watched Star Wars Episode IV: the abbreviated version (no scary stuff).

Nina Kerry

Saturday the 12th was our big trip to Orlando with Mom, but a late flight from National so we had a relaxing day first. We got to the Saratoga Springs resort very late. Sunday we had late plans, so Jill went off with her Aunt Kelley to get groceries (who wisely insisted we needed ponchos) and the rest of us went to the nearby pool in the Grandstand, then took the boat over to Disney Springs (Nina loved the Lego store, and I picked her up a vegan cupcake at Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC). Later we took the bus over to the Magic Kingdom, as our tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party let us in at 4PM. I’d booked Fastpass+ as soon as I could, so right away we met Tinker Bell. We had a Fastpass+ to meet Ariel earlier, but arrived later than planned, so got in line for that next (only about a 15 minute wait). Next Nina and Jill went on The Barnstormer (Nina loved it), then we tried to meet Merida but they closed the line.

Jill Nina Kerry Nancy

It started to sprinkle and we dropped Mom off at the Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. We watched Cinderella’s castle get Frozened, but the rain started getting heavier, so we also went into Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe with what seemed like most of the people. Getting food took a while, but Nina was fine dancing with other kids to Sonny Eclipse (the chicken & rib combo was pretty good). Mom, Jill and Nina rode the Mad Tea Party and we tried to see Jack Skellington but the line was too long. We then waited to see Merida, which for Nina was only slightly more fun then testing out the bow and arrow. The parade had started, along with more rain, so we ponchoed up and watched it (of course Anna and Elsa were Nina’s favorite part). We left during Holiday Wishes as the rain never ceased and we were tired.

Merida Nina Jill

Monday morning we headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As soon as we walked in we saw Daisy Duck, so we waited to meet her (or they did while I watched Star Wars: Path of the Jedi). Next we headed in to see For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – much less actual Anna and Elsa than I thought, but Nina was entertained. On the way out, Mom saw Pluto who she wanted to meet, so I took Nina and she played on some stone crocodiles she named “Runny” and “Fuzzy” while they waited. We saw Sophia the First had a small line, so we met her next, then it was time for Voyage of The Little Mermaid (cute). Minnie was outside afterwards so everyone else waited for her while I ducked into Star Wars: Launch Bay for a short film and lots of props. We did Toy Story Midway Mania but Nina wasn’t feeling well and we headed back to the resort for lunch.

Nina Kerry Pluto Nancy Jill

She had a slight fever so she got medicine, lots of Disney TV and an early bedtime while Jill and I headed back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. She wanted to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, so we walked with a herd of people to see it. It was quite a spectacle, but the only time we felt overcrowded at Disney World, so we left after about 5 minutes. The other end of the park wasn’t crowded at all so Jill was able to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Meanwhile I found an empty table outside the Brown Derby and enjoyed a glass of 18 year old Macallan. Of course I followed that up with a hot dog and half a Mickey pretzel with cheese sauce when we saw Fantasmic! to close out our night.

Jill Kerry

Nina was feeling better on Tuesday so it was back to the Magic Kingdom for the Fairytale Dining Lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Decent lunch and Nina was thrilled to meet four more princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, and Jasmine). We saw the Dream Along With Mickey show at the front of the palace then went to Adventureland where I took Nina on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and up into the Swiss Family Treehouse. Jill waited in line to meet Tiana while we watched the parade, then joined Jill. We did Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin as we had Fastpass+ for both of those.

Nina Cinderella

We’d tried the carousel on Sunday because both Mom and Nina wanted to go but someone had an accident – this time we were more successful. Then it was time for the most popular attraction currently at Disney World: Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall. So we did and someone loved it. Jill wanted to ride the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, enough she was willing to brave a 70 minute wait with Nina. It was more like 45 minutes and Nina was a trooper (immediately after the ride, she said she wanted to go again), but that was enough for the day. After a rest, we went over to Disney Springs and had dinner at Splitsville, surrounded by bowling lanes and the best meal I’d had so far (a great sushi roll that proved kimchi sauce and wasabi pair remarkably well together). Nina enjoyed her edamame and barely ate anything else.

Jill Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 16th was our day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We started with the Kilimanjaro Safaris (Mom got her hippos), then met the only princess there (Pocahontas) before seeing Finding Nemo: The Musical. We had lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue then rode the Kali River Rapids and got our legs soaked (ponchos only cover our top half). Then we headed over to DinoLand U.S.A. where Nina loved playing in the Boneyard (millions of dollars spent on a theme park, and my child was having a grand time using dirty water to clean off an even dirtier jeep) and Jill finally managed to catch up with ex-coworker Tracey (who also has a 4 year old daughter). Almost everyone rode on the TriceraTop Spin, then Jill and Tracey rode the Primeval Whirl while we played carnival games (I had to cheat a little to help Nina win a pink dinosaur at whack-a-dinosaur after she was so distraught at losing the first game). That evening Jill and I met up with my friend Monica for drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar then we had dinner at Morimoto Asia (their dim sum was so good).

Pocahontas Nina

Thursday we were at Epcot for the earliest morning at the parks for Princess Storybook Dining Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Formerly the home of Anna and Elsa, they had Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, and Ariel (as well as a nice buffet – Nina had 3 helpings of strawberry yogurt). Afterwards we waited for the world showcase to open and met Mulan in China, then walked around the world (playing drums in Morocco and coloring in Italy). Turtle Talk With Crush was a hit, as well as checking out the aquariums. Test Track was supposed to be next, but it broke down (it’s great that the Disney World app sends alerts) and we rode The Seas with Nemo & Friends instead.

Mulan Nina

We had a lunch package at the San Angel Inn (only way to have guaranteed seating at the Candlelight Processional that evening), which was unfortunate as we were still stuffed from breakfast but we all made a valiant effort (Nina’s always happy with quesadillas and guacamole). Spaceship Earth was Nina’s least favorite ride in any park, but she did enjoy Test Track. Then we had to hustle over to the Candlelight Processional, hosted by America Ferrera. It was the dichotomy of Disney: carrying my daughter all the way across Epcot in 85 degree heat so we can watch folks sing Christmas carols. It was good, but Nina’s asthma kicked in. She was happy enough after some medicine and wanted to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus – we called it a night after that.

Nina Santa and Mrs. Claus

Friday was our final day and the first rain since Sunday. Nina wanted to ride the monorail so we went to Epcot so we could ride it to the Magic Kingdom. First was meeting the talking Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater. We had lunch at Casey’s Corner, then I discovered I now have no shame as both Nina and I volunteered to be part of the play at Enchanted Tales with Belle (and Nina ended up playing 2 roles). One more carousel ride and we met Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (although Nina wanted to meet the Stepmother) before we met Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall. Rapunzel was the 13th and final princess on our list – Nina’s main objective at Disney World (and she didn’t want to leave). We stopped to get a silhouette done of Nina and buy clothes.

Kerry Belle

Later we returned to Disney Springs. Jill shopped in the Christmas store, and Nina got to pick out toys in the Lego store and the enormous World of Disney store (we were able to minimize whining all week by promising her she could pick out things on Friday). They headed back to the resort while I went to Splitsville, Bongos Cuban Café, and Wolfgang Puck Express to get takeout. We finished watching Mary Poppins after starting it the night before (Nina’s now a huge fan) and packed up.

Nina Rapunzel

Saturday the 19th we got up at 4:30AM to catch the bus and were at home by noon in our cold house. Was it the smartest thing to go to a 10:30PM showing of Star Wars Episode VII that night? Probably not, but Nina and I had a nap together in the afternoon and I had a soda during the movie. Afterwards I thought it was a good thing I was going to bed so no one can see the stupid grin on my face. George should’ve given up the franchise years ago. Thanks to J.J. (and not just for the lack of lens flares).

Kerry Nina Jill

Christmas week was a bit different since Nina’s school didn’t offer a camp. Monday night we went to see Todd Wright, Scott Simons, Anthony Fiacco, and Luke Brindley at the Jammin Java Songwriters Circle Holiday Edition. I was home with her on Tuesday and Christmas Eve on Thursday, happily the warm weather meant we could go outside and play. After Jill got home Christmas Eve we went to church where Nina was an angel in the little pageant they had.

Nina Jill

Christmas morning Nina slept in ’til 9 so we all did – it was a good thing my mom forgot the fruit she was bringing for breakfast and had to turn around or she might have beat us to the tree. Nina loved her Frozen playset and princess figures she’d picked out at the Disney store. My dad showed up with Justin earlier than I thought, but he and Patricia supervised Justin and Illa’s first meeting while Mom and David watched the Disney vacation DVD I’d made downstairs. Breakfast was cinnamon rolls, hash browns, sausage and fruit while Christmas dinner was ham, turkey breast, roasted potatoes, and asparagus, and I was done.

Saturday was Boxing Day and my second day that week with Nina from waking up to bedtime. It was nonstop Legos ’til 3, then several errands and the big playground (where we saw deer there for the first time). She managed a 3 bandaid boo-boo before bedtime, and unfortunately missed one of my favorite football games of the season (she’s always willing to watch TV). Sunday after church became a big outside playday with all the kids, followed by wine o’clock.

deer

Wednesday the 30th I went out with Ben, Trevor, and some other friends to see The Hateful Eight roadshow. All you need to know about it is that Greg Nicotero‘s name is 2nd in the credits. New Year’s Eve Jill was working late, and Nina and I went over to our neighbors for dinner and Uno (the kids got to play together for a long time). Nina made it to 11PM, then Jill and I watched the ball drop.

Kevin Kerry Nina Felix