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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.


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.


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


Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Sunday afternoon on the 1st we went to see Shrek: The Musical performed at the Reston Community Center. Nina and I had just watched the original movie a couple days earlier and I’d played her the soundtrack the day before, and she was ready. At intermission she wanted a pair of Shrek ears and I was inclined to say no until I saw they were $2 each (I’m too used to Disney prices). She really enjoyed it – the dragon wasn’t as scary as the one in the movie, and she was still singing “Freak Flag” days later (I got “Morning Person” as an earworm).

Nina Kerry

Monday and Tuesday were teacher workdays, I stayed home on the Monday (and got her a playdate with her friend Olivia) while Jill got to handle the teacher conference, voting, and 2 more playdates on Tuesday. Wednesday we met up with some of Nina’s classmates at Così in Reston Town Center as the restaurant was doing a fundraiser for her school; she liked her peanut butter and jelly and loved the s’mores.


Friday the 6th my mom came over to babysit (and watch Snow White). Jill was away for a murder mystery weekend, and I was determined not to miss the DC debut of Dead & Company – three former members of the Grateful Dead with John Mayer. And it was worth it, he was a much better fit (and bolt of energy) than Warren Haynes when the Dead were last in DC in 2009 (would’ve liked to see Trey with them but missed out twice on the lottery).

Dead and Company

Saturday I took Nina over to the University Mall Theatres for her first movie in a real theater – Shaun the Sheep. I was concerned she would talk as much as she had at home but she was mesmerized for the most part (and mostly in my lap). Afterwards she was introduced to the claw machine. She’s not a fan, and a total meltdown because she didn’t get a toy was only avoided because I had a Frozen video on my phone. There was also a near meltdown later when the peanut butter crackers I served were square instead of round (she’d seen round ones in the grocery store earlier).


Sunday Jill came back and after dinner I headed to Fairfax again, this time to the Center for the Arts to see the Art of Time Ensemble with Steven Page and Glen Phillips cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Slightly different arrangements but a fantastic performance, and not a long line afterwards for signing so I got a chance to talk to them as well. The rest of the night was less fun, doing tech support on Mom’s PC.


Thursday the 12th I had my other ingrown toenail permanently fixed and on Saturday Jill took Nina to see a roller derby game. Wednesday Jill went to Nina’s class’ Thanksgiving celebration at school. Later I picked up Nina from school and got her and my mom situated, then I drove to Ashburn for a quick and tasty dinner of ramen and sushi at Okada, then joined Jill for Mockingjay Part 2 at the Drafthouse (she’d just seen Part 1 and they won’t let you in part way through so I watched it at home). Waiting to see the final Hunger Games movies together was a good idea. Great ending to the series.


Friday the 20th I fought Friday night traffic to Rockville to meet up with my dad and see Brian Wilson in concert. Last time we saw him solo he had Al Jardine with him, and this time Al was there again, along with African former Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin (who I hadn’t heard of the day before the show). The thing about one of his shows is with 12 people on stage, when there’s a French Horn part, you know it won’t be a sample on a keyboard. Some great songs off his new album he played along with all the classics you expect.

Brian Wilson

Saturday we took Nina to see Cinderella??? in the afternoon. Put on by the Reston Community Center’s Young Actors Theatre, it was an interesting twist on fairy tales, and Nina enjoyed it (especially good for young attention spans at a tight 45 minutes). That night Mom came over and Jill and I headed over to Clarendon to Me Jana, a Lebanese place. It was delicious, I especially enjoyed the seared haloumi and lamb chops. Later, we went to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington to see Natalia Zukerman & Caleb Hawley as part of Stone Room Concerts. We hadn’t seen Natalia in years, and she was fabulous.


Nina’s school was closed the day before and after Thanksgiving, so Jill was off on Wednesday as they did prep and Jill made a pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving Jill made potatoes and rutabegas, then we headed over to my Mom’s house where she and David were finishing cooking the turkey. Mom chose wisely to pick that day to let Nina start playing with the dollhouse that her father built for her (a model of the Sears Catalog home they lived in), and she didn’t want to do much else (although we did burn off some energy at the elementary school playground).


Friday I took Nina to the 25th Annual Reston Holiday Parade at Reston Town Center. Afterwards she wanted to play hide and seek along with all the other kids at A Bird in Hand and run all around. Then we heard bagpipers (we’d missed them in the parade) at the nearby World Of Beer, so we had to check them out. I’d already asked Nina if she wanted sandwiches from Cosi or Potbelly and she’d declined, so when she wanted to go inside World Of Beer “for a drink”, I wasn’t saying no. And she did a great job with poor service, especially since she couldn’t have her first choice of food (giant pretzel). We came back to Reston Town Center that night as Mom and the rest of the Reston Chorale were singing carols at the Christmas tree lighting, then Mom and David came back to our place for some open face turkey sandwiches.


Saturday night I ducked out for a quick show by Parthenon Huxley at Jammin’ Java – I’m always up for power pop and an Electric Light Orchestra connection. Sunday we drove over to Dad’s house for another turkey lunch with him and Patricia. Nina had her first introduction to their young dog Justin – while he was a little scary at first, he calmed down and everyone enjoyed themselves. The rest of the day was mostly cleaning the house.

Jill Nina


Friday, November 6th, 2015

Saturday the 3rd was rainy and cool, but Sunday was nicer and I took Nina to DC for the 2nd Sunday in a row. We accidentally started at the National Museum of American History since it was right across from the Federal Triangle stop and stayed long enough to see the Lego flag and the ruby slippers before walking next door to the National Museum of Natural History. We started with the mammals (Nina’s obsessed with South America and liked seeing the animals from there), then went upstairs to see the small section of dinosaur fossils (the big ones were in a section being remodeled). We finished with the ocean animals downstairs. Next we walked over to the Washington Monument, where an awareness concert for Unite to Face Addiction was happening. Nina sat on me and ate a snack while The Fray were playing, then she wanted to run all around the monument base. We stayed long enough to see Jason Isbell, but it was getting late and we headed home.

Kerry Nina

Wednesday the 7th Jill chaperoned Nina on her first field trip of the year to Ballentine Farm. The theme was “All About Pumpkins” and they learned about the life cycle of the pumpkin. On Friday I dropped Nina and Jill off early in the morning at the Reston subway stop so they could go to Union Station and take an Amtrak train up to Holyoke. I had a quiet weekend of chores (oil change, haircut, mowing and putting up old books for sale) and TV for the most part, except for Sunday when I went shopping at CD Cellar, a quick grilled cheese dinner at next door’s Spacebar, and a show by Andrew Belle at Jammin’ Java (most surprising was Luke Brindley playing guitar for opener Eileen Graham). Meanwhile Jill and Nina had lunch with Meme and Pepe, went to Jill’s sister’s baby shower on Sunday, and went to a pumpkin patch on Monday, all while spending a lot of time with Ava, Nina’s favorite cousin (they share a love of My Little Pony). I worked a long day on Monday in order to do a half day on Tuesday and have lunch with them at Union Station and drive home.

Ava Nina

Scheduling being what it was, it wasn’t until they got home that there was a bunch of must see concerts for me (all featuring solo members of bands). First up was Ann Wilson (of Heart) at the Barns At Wolf Trap on Tuesday the 13th. She did a set of mostly covers, but they were well received – cleverly adding the drum beat from “Sympathy For The Devil” to “For What It’s Worth” and a killer version of John Lennon’s “Isolation”. Next was Chris Cornell at Strathmore on Thursday doing a mostly solo show that really showed off the breadth of his career – nice Soundgarden and Audioslave selections as well as solo songs (especially from 1999’s underappreciated “Euphoria Morning”, Temple of the Dog and his James Bond theme song) and a couple of choice covers (“Nothing Compares 2 U” was great, but I really loved his take on “Ave Maria”, from the A Very Special Christmas 3 album).

Jill Nina Ava Melissa

Friday topped them all. I took the subway to DC, had a quick dinner at Melt Shop (another grilled cheese and tater tot dinner), then had a fast walk over to Constitution Hall. My only problem over the years with Roger Waters doing Pink Floyd songs solo is that he would sing songs like “Money”, “Time”, and “Wish You Were Here” that he didn’t originally sing. But this show was a benefit for MusiCorps (the wounded warrior band), and since they were the band for the night (along with G.E. Smith, Roger’s touring guitarist for a number of years), he had other vocalists to lean on. And that was evident right away as vocalist Tim Donley sang lead on the first ever live performance of “When The Tigers Broke Free” (from The Wall film). After Donley again sang lead on Buddy Miller’s “Wide River To Cross”, Roger finally stepped to the mic to sing “Mother” to an enthusiastic reception. Next actor and singer (and vet) J.W. Cortés came from the line of backing vocalists to sing classic soul songs “Lean On Me” and “Change Is Gonna Come”. But the Pink Floyd songs were not finished, as Donley returned to sing lead on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)”, guitarist Greg Galeazzi did a stunning version of David Gilmour’s solos, and they were also joined by Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello on guitar and the E Street Band’s (and Clarence’s nephew) Jake Clemons on sax. Galeazzi took vocal duty next for “Money”, then Morello took over for a blistering cover of Springsteen’s “The Ghost Of Tom Joad”.

Roger Waters

After intermission, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins joined the band for a moving version of “Wish You Were Here”, then rocked through “Brain Damage/Eclipse” as the crowd really got into it. A string quintet from the National Symphony Orchestra came out (and stayed the rest of the night) as Roger took the microphone again for his only solo song of the night, the new “Crystal Clear Brooks”. He stopped it because the quintet wasn’t in time and had to conduct them, but when he had a guitar problem when beginning “Goodbye Blue Sky”, quipped “maybe it’s me” to laughter. Sheryl Crow had been scheduled to come but was unavailable, so she prerecorded a video of her and Tim Donley performing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and the rest of the band played along to it. Roger returned to “The Wall” for “Is There Anybody Out There?” and “Nobody Home”, then Donley took a turn with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. After Roger got the crowd going with “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2”, Billy Corgan came out again to duet with Tim Donley on Gilmour’s part in “Comfortably Numb”, and Billy Corgan and Tom Morello traded verses on the finale of Dylan’s “Forever Young”. When I got back to the Metro station afterwards, I saw I had a long wait for a train, so I found the nearest bar (Elephant & Castle) and had a beer while I waited.

Billy Corgan Tim Donley Roger Waters

Saturday the 17th we took Nina to the Halloween Family Fun Day at the Reston Community Center. She wasn’t interested in playing the games (even with candy prizes), but she did play in the bouncy castle a long time with her BFF. It was chilly, and when she came out she said her tummy hurt so we went home and she took a nap (may have been some constipation as she was much better later). Sunday we went to the Reston Town Center Day to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Reston Town Center. They had games, snacks, hayrides, pumpkin painting and a Rocknoceros concert. Nina’s favorite parts were the hot chocolate (from Panera), the pumpkin painting, and meeting a horse. 30 years ago the TV I watched on the weekend was Doctor Who, Saturday Night Live, and the Skins. It’s amazing I can still watch all of them today.

Nina Kerry

Tuesday the 21st I noticed that next up in the car CD rotation was Ministry, The Ronettes, and Jason Mraz. I don’t know what that says about me. My birthday was Wednesday and we kept it low key, some tasty sushi takeout from Ariake for dinner and Nina tried her first piece of sushi (California Roll – one bite and done. At least she tried it).

Nina Jill

Friday the 24th we took Nina to Disney On Ice after dinner. It was a big hit, she was mesmerized, and the fact that most of “Frozen” was done was a big deal for someone dressing up as Elsa at Halloween (and we only had to buy a $15 sno-cone and $12 bag of popcorn). Saturday she wore her Elsa costume (with her new wig) to her school’s Halloween Family Fun Day. They had pumpkin art, games, and prizes inside, but she was more interested in running around outside and playing with her friends. We went out for dinner to Bar Taco with my Mom to celebrate my birthday that night. Nina did great with her food (good thing she loves quesadillas and guacamole), they had delicious original tacos (pork belly and fried oysters were good) and we got cupcakes at the Red Velvet Cupcakery for dessert (they always have vegan ones).


Sunday we took the Metro (Nina’s choice) to the Tysons Fall Harvest Festival in the afternoon. It was much smaller than advertised (no food trucks were there) and Nina had fun with the pony rides, bouncy castles, and pumpkin bowling, but we didn’t stay too long. Jill had never tried Shake Shack, so we went over to the mall and she got some takeout while Nina played on the playground next door, then we went inside and got McDonalds for Nina and ate an early dinner. Later she used the Minion stickers from her Happy Meal to finish decorating her pumpkin from the day before.


Friday the 30th we got a babysitter and headed up to Baltimore through Friday traffic. We had a tasty dinner at Alewife (that smoke burger and duckfat fries are worth returning for in addition to the fantastic beer selection) before heading next door to the Hippodrome for an evening with John Cleese and Eric Idle. I knew it couldn’t live up to the Python reunion last summer, but it was still only the second time I’d seen Cleese (and the third seeing Idle), and still worth the pain of a weeknight – they were still hilarious when they spent the majority of their time seated in chairs talking. Halloween was the next night and Nina was once again Elsa. Jill wanted to go trick or treating this year, so we put out our bowl of candy with a sign and went around our neighborhood some (only 4 on Lakewinds), then over to Old Westbury where they go all out (Nina wasn’t too scared but did stop wearing her wig). When we got back home the bowl of candy was nearly empty, most candy distributed since we moved there.



Monday, October 12th, 2015

Tuesday the 1st we left Provincetown on the Ferry to head back to Boston. Jill was jonesing for a Chilean sandwich she had enjoyed when she lived there, so we tracked it down to Chacarero (after stopping at a nearby Wendy’s to get nuggets for Nina). The most improbable thing happened as yet sat down and recognized that the Modzelewskis were sitting next us, also from Virginia and on vacation that week (we’d met through the Norwoods). After lunch we met Sharon at the Children’s Museum and Nina proceeded to tear through it (after making her leave the New Balance Climb). She fell asleep on the subway ride and I carried her on the long uphill walk back.


Wednesday was Nina’s birthday and she started the day looking for hidden presents around the apartment (lots of Paw Patrol figures). Later we went with Tom and Sharon to meet the Cannons at LegoLand for an afternoon of Lego based entertainment (the playground, zapping game, and karaoke were favorites). We followed that with dinner at the nearby Legal Seafood (we brought vegan cupcakes for everyone) and I got one last lobster roll.

Kerry, C, Jill, Nina, V

Thursday we went to the Public Garden to ride the swan boats, then went to the new Boston Public Market so I could pick up a crowdfunding reward from Sweet Lydia’s and decided to have lunch there (Nina liked the edamame, but the pasta was too strange). Nina fell asleep again on the subway ride and I carried her part of the way, then Jill managed to wake her up as Tom and Sharon were waiting for us at the midpoint of the hill. We walked all the way up the hill to get to the Franklin Park Zoo. It was a strange experience as there was almost nobody there (late in the day plus kids in Boston had started school). But we got quickly through the exhibits we wanted to see, and Nina got to spend some time on their enormous playground.


Friday morning we were up very early so Tom could drive us to the airport. Long security lines meant no time for a snack, but even with waiting for luggage after our flight and 2 bus rides we were still home by 8:30AM and Jill got to her favorite bagel place (it was our anniversary after all). We relaxed some, had Pollo Peru for dinner (and somebody got a playdate), but not too much as we had a busy weekend.

Nina Felix

Sharon and Tom flew down for the weekend, and Saturday was her baby shower at my mom’s house. There were no other kids there, so I took Nina up to play at my old elementary school midway through. Jill’s mom was in town for the weekend and offered to watch Nina that night, so Jill and I belatedly celebrated at Founding Farmers in Tysons. It was an incredible amount of food (I rarely leave enough for leftovers), but the fried chicken and donut was delicious.


Sunday was Nina’s official birthday party, this year she requested to have it at Life Time Athletic. They had a bouncy castle and lots of fun things to do in the gym – I missed about half the party because I needed to get some Cafesano pizza (not that she would have wanted the pizza they had, but theirs was made with egg, so no go). Jill had ordered an Ariel cake from Amphora and that was a big hit when it was served, almost as much as the life sized Ariel balloon. Later we had family over to our house, Nina got to open some gifts and I took her, my mom and David on a spin around the lake. Later we watched Tangled as she got a Rapunzel doll from her friends as well as the Lego one we got her.

Jill Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 9th was Nina’s first day of school, but she wouldn’t pose for a nice photo, I had to take a picture while she was walking. I went solo to the Birchmere after to dinner to see the Watkins Family Hour – siblings Sean and Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek with a fabulous band (including Benmont Tench and Fiona Apple). Fiona Apple was the odd one out – when it wasn’t her turn at the mic, she would head to the back of the stage and sit down, but a powerhouse when she sang.


Friday I noted it was weird to be planning a Disney trip while some of my friends are drinking their way around Epcot. Saturday we went over to Lake Anne to see the Chesapeake Dock Dog Diving Demonstration – basically dogs jumping in the lake. Nina thought it was great fun, then wanted to climb all the dangerous (concrete) structures (I thought I was long done with name calling, but I have to admit being called “Big Daddy Belly” when I asked her to get down stings a little). I have backed more than 100 crowdfunded projects and Michael Clem’s was the first one to be dropped at my door that afternoon. And how timely that I now had the studio version of a song about a certain place in Wales.

Michael Clem

That night we were supposed to go to Kelly Clarkson at Wolf Trap, but she had to cancel because doctors urged her to rest her voice. Instead we watched Beauty and the Beast. Apparently watching 2 Disney movies in a week and Nina’s latest jam collided, as she informed us that Princess Taylor sings “Shake It Off” and she has a tail (and I should have guessed everything exists on the internet). The next morning I took Nina to the Mosaic Central Farm Market after church, and that evening my mom was able to come over and watch her as we went to SER for dinner for a delicious Spanish tasting menu that took us right back to Barcelona. Tuesday Nina started ballet classes at Ravel Dance Studio.


Saturday the 19th Nina’s school had a back to school party and Nina had a blast – we had to literally drag her home after bouncing, eating popcorn and face painting (and she promptly went down for a long nap). Later we joined our neighbors (and Nina’s BFF) for a boat ride across the lake (and some Cafesano takeout to eat on the boat). The next day the parents of one of Nina’s classmates had an ice cream social at their home on Lake Audobon (our sister lake), then in the evening Nina and I walked over to join Jill at Red’s Table, our new neighborhood restaurant (and the maple-sriracha wings were killer).

Nina Jill

Monday we went into school with Nina to celebrate her birthday with her class (Montessori has a special birthday celebration) and Jill made fruit that we had with Nina’s class (one of the two teachers left over the summer and we had just met the new one over the weekend).

Nina Jill

Saturday the 26th Jill took Nina to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, then I was late meeting them at the Lynn House picnic. There wasn’t much food left and we were all hungry, so when Mom wanted us to come over and visit (and fix computers), I took Nina and stopped at Wendy’s while Jill stopped at Smashburger to get us burgers (that and the onion rings hit the spot). Sunday I took Nina and met Dad at the Nationals game. Nina was finally old enough to use the playground and loved it (and we ended going back later, even with a long wait because another kid had an accident inside), but her favorite part was the President’s Race (her only question: “When are they doing that again?”). After dinner I went over to Jammin Java to see the Songwriters Circle: Tribute To Queen with Todd Wright, Luke Brindley and Anthony Fiacco.



Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Saturday the 1st we were camping at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Nina had her hair braided by Patty and did somersaults on a hammock with her new friend Eleanor. Patty had a copy of The Monster Book of Monsters and Nina delighted in terrorizing Shantytowne with it. In the afternoon Jill took Nina to the Children’s tent while I went to the Workshop Stage to see The Duhks with Ray Bonneville & Andrew & Noah, and Nina and Jill came over in the middle. Later I returned for The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams and The Duhks and Stuart and Chris joined me.

In the late afternoon we had our family picture followed by the first ever Shantytowne Stage. Seth was up first (bringing Stuart and Bill up to accompany him), then Bill (with Tassy and Seth) and Olivia with Stuart. We missed the start of We’re About 9 as it was Nina’s shower time (we finally used the solar shower we brought to our second FRFF) but did catch some of them, along with Cliff as we got dinner ready.


Sunday morning we packed up our tent and left, stopping for lunch at the very crowded first rest stop in MA. We were soon at the Brady’s, and Nina got to play with Ava all day including the pool, much to her delight (I played tech support guy all day – not as fun). Monday we spent most of the day driving home (diverted through PA as NJ was bad again, at least we finally stopped at a Sonic). I took Tuesday off as well and picked up Illa and made good progress and cleaning up the office.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 8th Jill had a yoga class and I took Nina to the reopened Reston Farm Market & Country Store, and now she loves shopping, since it has a moon bounce and slide, a train, and a potbellied pig named Foxy Cleopatra (we also bought a pile of fruit and vegetables). Sunday Jill brought Nina to the yarn store and a playground nearby.

Saturday the 15th Jill’s sister Robin and her husband Mike drove down to stay with us a couple days and bring back a bunch of our baby stuff as she’s pregnant (and in a weird coincidence my sister Sharon is also due just days later). We went to Cafesano for lunch and I grilled steaks for dinner. Sunday they went with Jill and Nina to the pool and the Reston Farm Market and we went out on the boat later after getting Hunan East delivered (decent food, and I like that they offer sushi).

Mike Robin

Tuesday the 18th I had jury duty, but it was uneventful as I never got called, ate at Social Burger for lunch and worked from home the rest of the day. Thursday Nina was happy she could still fit in her baby saucer. That evening’s double rainbow finally brought relief from steady heat. Good timing as we took Nina to Wolf Trap the next night for Disney in Concert with Wolf Trap Orchestra (a long day for me since there was no camp, Mom helped for a couple hours). She liked our picnic and her first visit to the Wolf Trap stage as part of the princess parade, and we had to literally drag her away during the last song. Saturday Jill took Nina to the pool and Small Change Consignments. The wonderful weather continued on Sunday as I took Nina back to Wolf Trap in the afternoon and we met up with Dad and Patricia to see the Beach Boys. Nina wasn’t totally in the mood (wanted to color in the shade) until the music started and dozens of beach balls flew through the air and she loved picking them up and throwing them.

Patricia Dad

Friday the 28th we had a plumber come to check the hot water heater and determine it was a goner. In order to save some money the next day we got to Dulles a new way, caught the 551 on South Lakes and switched to the Silver Line Express at the Metro station. We were surprised to see Janice in the security line, and got to our gate early enough to get some lunch (Chef Geoff’s for me, Au Bon Pain for the girls). We arrived in Boston at 2PM, and decided to take their Silver Line before transferring over to the Orange Line and getting off at Green St. where my sister lives with her husband Tom. They cooked steaks for us and Nina played with their cat, Izzy.

Sunday we got up early to make it to the 9AM ferry to Provincetown. 90 minutes later, we were there and did some shopping at Cuffy’s before the Cannons arrived. We all had lunch at Patio (and I had my first lobster roll). We’d left our bags at the Chamber of Commerce, and after we picked them up took the shuttle to the Cape Colony Inn. Our room was ready, so we all changed there and walked several blocks to the nearest beach. After we cleaned up, we walked right back to the beach as Fanizzi’s was right there and we had a nice dinner (this time a seafood alfredo for me).

Jill Nina

Monday the 31st we got smart and took turns with the Cannons’ car to get to Herring Cove Beach. The girls had a lot of fun, but the tide started to come in and it was apparent there wouldn’t be much beach left soon. Chris and I picked up lunch from The Purple Feather – ok sandwiches (my lobster panini was my least favorite meal in P-Town, plus they got an order wrong). Jess and Jill went shopping after lunch and Chris and I took the girls to the hotel pool. We drove into the center of town later, and after candy shopping had dinner at Burger Queen (good clam roll, and they made a huge off-the-menu quesadilla for Nina she scarfed down). The Purple Feather redeemed themselves with gelato for the girls and excellent gelato drinks for the adults.

Nina Cannons


Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Wednesday July 1st we had a low key birthday for Jill with a surf and turf dinner of BBQ and lobster rolls from the Reston Farmers Market. Friday July 3rd our Shanty friends Seth and Emily and their friend Matt came to visit. The next morning I showed them where to park at the Metro station and they headed down to RFK for the Foo Fighters festival. A couple hours later Jill’s friends arrived to spin with her and I took the subway to RFK myself.


I managed to arrive during a rain delay, but I found my friends and soon Gary Clark, Jr. was on stage. Crowd favorites were Heart’s “Alone” and LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Buddy Guy’s words of wisdom for us were “If you don’t have the blues, just keep living”. The Foos finally made their grand entrance last with Dave Grohl on a Game of Foos throne that rolled down the runway. If that show was the last time I’m at RFK Stadium, I’m OK with it. From attending Skins and Nationals games, to performing at halftime for the Skins (with the W.T. Woodson marching band), to seeing The Who, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith (with United We Stand), Garth Brooks (with Equality Rocks) and most of the HFStivals, it’s been a good run. Hell of a festival, Dave.

Foo Fighters

The next morning I got up early to make peach fritters from scratch as well as waffles, fruit salad and bacon for brunch. In addition to our houseguests we also had Janice, Stuart and Lorna over for a Mid Atlanty Shanty reunion.

Mid Atlanty Shanty

Thursdays Jill took Nina to swimming lessons at Life Time Fitness in Reston. Saturday the 11th we picnicked at Arrowhead Park in Herndon and then watched Eddie From Ohio (or at least Jill and I did – Nina was more interested in playing with other kids). They put on a great show with the highlights an excellent cover of “Scarlet Begonias” to pay tribute to the Grateful Dead, followed by a furious “Eddie’s Concubine” and a moving “Down To The River To Pray”. And you’ve got to love it when Eddie’s drum solo sets off a car alarm. We pulled a double header and saw a bit of Della Mae at Reston Town Center before finishing up with some gelato from Pitango Gelato. Sunday we celebrated Jill’s and my mom’s birthdays with dinner out at Cantina D’Italia in Fair Lakes (the braised lamb was delicious).

Illa Nina

Saturday the 18th I took Nina to her friend Lauren’s birthday party, unusual because they had animals visit (Nina liked holding the rabbit and leading around the goat, but her favorite part was yelling at the ducks until they splashed with Lauren and Olivia G.). Playing with Lauren’s toys in the basement later was almost as fun.


Wednesday the 22nd Jill and I went to see First Aid Kit and Brandi Carlile at Wolf Trap, met up with Lorna and David there. Great show, but too much going on that week and I sold off our tix to the next night’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (at Wolf Trap with Paula Poundstone). Friday I didn’t know why I tried to go into the office after a minor procedure (stoopid ingrown toenail). It was much better to end the week working remotely, sitting on the couch with the windows open listening to a set of covers by Wilco.

Brandi Carlile

Sunday the 26th we went to have dinner (well, takeout from Chuy’s) with Patty and Jesse at Bernard and Barbara’s house in Fairfax Station, making July a super Shanty month even without heading north. The next day was the Mondayiest Monday in the history of Mondays. From getting up at 4:15 for an hour with the scared of thunderstorms dog, to the daughter who got up at 7:30 and got dropped off at the pool with her class at 10:15, to the jury duty summons, the day was already fired, and I still wasn’t at work, waiting for my Rx behind a lady who didn’t appear to be in danger of finishing talking anytime soon. Tuesday tried to match with a power outage and tech support for my mom’s boyfriend, but nice try no biscuit for you.

Jill Nina

Friday the 30th we’d planned on leaving for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival before rush hour, but all of us would have been very short on sleep. Then of course we slept in until 10:30 and didn’t end up getting on the road until noon. By the time we stopped for dinner at a Cheesecake Factory in New York for a surprisingly good meal we knew we wouldn’t make it before dark (not good with a brand new tent), so we made a reservation at the Days Inn in Great Barrington we’d stayed at 2 years prior. It was for the best as Nina was extremely cranky and tired as it was.


The next morning we walked to Fuel for breakfast, then got groceries at Guido’s and Super Y before heading to the festival. After we exchanged our tickets for wristbands, we drove up to Shantytowne. David helped me set up the new tent while Jill and Nina hung out in the lobby. The Jewells hosted a steak and martini dinner, and afterwards we walked down to the vendors for ice cream and I caught some of Brother Sun and June Rich before heading back and turning in with Nina.



Monday, July 27th, 2015

Nina was still battling an asthma attack as we started the month, and was disappointed to miss her last ballet recital, but was back at school on Tuesday the 2nd. Jill and I went to Wolf Trap on Wednesday and Jukebox the Ghost were on fire. We last saw them at Fort Reno in 2008 and they’ve only gotten better. They used to get Ben Folds Five comparisons ’cause of the piano with no bass, but they pulled off a stunning cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” during their set. Headliner Ingrid Michaelson sounded great as well, just couldn’t see much as the lighting team decided blinding the 1st 50 rows was a good idea.

Jukebox the Ghost

Saturday the 6th I took Nina to meet Doc McStuffins at Reston Hospital (part of the grand opening of their pediatric ER) and she endured a long wait to get her bear checked out, then got scared of Doc McStuffins and her friends when taking pictures. Sunday my mom wanted to to go with Nina to Celebrate Fairfax! for my mom’s birthday, so we did. Petting zoo, fast trikes, popcorn, racing dogs and a pony ride completed the afternoon, then we had the BFF over for dinner.


Wednesday the 10th we picnicked in Lee District Park to see The Pietasters, Nina may have been more excited that Chessie’s Big Backyard is now open there. The next morning was rough as she had a fever and I stayed home with her. Nina decided she would no longer eat the raisins in her favorite cereal (Raisin Bran with Cranberries) – sigh. She was improving at lunchtime – singing at the top of her lungs and shushing me to keep me from talking: “It’s almost your birthday. You’re good and you’re really nice. Spend time with all the family and friends.”


And then we took her to the doctor and I let her play outside on a very hot day and her temperature hit 103 – very scary until she cooled down in the basement. Jill and I split coverage the next day, and since she was feeling better had my mom come over as scheduled and went to see “Weird Al” Yankovic at Wolf Trap. I hadn’t been so close for him before (second row) and seeing the amount of effort he puts forth, even on hot and sticky day, was impressive.

Weird Al

Sunday the 14th we took her to water games outdoors at church, then went to Celebrate Gaithersburg to see Red Molly before their hiatus (and Nina got her face painted) and had lunch at Growlers, which went pretty well, but she fell asleep on the way back home and after her nap had a coughing attack, but seemed over it by the next morning.

Red Molly

Tuesday the 16th Nina had been having weekly swim lessons at the Lifetime gym in Reston, and insisted I come and meet them there after a lesson so we could have dinner in the cafe there. I think Jill and I agree that won’t happen again (wouldn’t pick out or eat food there, too distracted by other kids).

Kerry Nina

Saturday the 20th we drove to the new Tupelo Honey Cafe in Courthouse so we could meet my mom’s boyfriend, David (who turns out was an old boyfriend from Rochester NY). They got lost and I had to take 30 minutes guiding them in, but Nina surprisingly didn’t have a meltdown while waiting. The food was very good – I had the fried egg BLT with the Moonswine Mary (Jalapeño-Poblano-infused moonshine and house-made Bloody Mary mix adorned with maple-peppered bacon, pimento cheese-stuffed olives and a bacon-salt rim). Later we met up with the Larsens and the Norwoods at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival where Nina did art, met some dogs, jumped in a bouncy castle, and got her face painted again. For Father’s Day I got some nice cards and the full cast audio of the Graveyard Book.


Monday the 22nd I picked Nina up from school and we drove over to Mosiac. My plans for us to have dinner at Matchbox went away when she fell asleep in the car on the way there and wouldn’t wake up in the restaurant. But she did start to wake up in the movie theater and we had an apple in the lobby before heading upstairs where she could have a real treat: popcorn and soda. We were there to see My Neighbor Totoro, and even though I’d managed to choose the subtitled showing, the story was fairly clear and she didn’t seem too disruptive (Her teacher Jenny was behind us and said she was fine). It was her first movie in a movie theater, and she had to take a break because Totoro in the rain storm was a little scary, but otherwise she loved it (and was calling “Mei! Mei!” all the way home).

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 24th Jill went to run a quick errand in the evening and ended up getting rear ended at a light by a teenager who hit the car behind her. The car went to the shop, but she wasn’t feeling great on Saturday, so when Nina came down with strep, I went to see the house concert that our friend Stuart was performing with his friend Susan (very nice, 2nd set ended with Amy Speace’s “It’s Too Late To Call It A Night”.). Nina created her first mashup Friday night: “Down By The Bay”/”Down By The Riverside”. Then we listened to both songs and she ended up in her bath singing “study war no more”. Jill ended up contracting strep as well and they both stayed home on Monday before being back at school and work on Tuesday.

Susan Stuart


Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Friday the 1st Jill and I saw Neil Gaiman at Constitution Hall. He read from “Good Omens”, which I’ve never heard him read before. A real treat, and a fun night. Saturday Nina showed me how advanced she’d gotten at climbing trees – 6 feet off the ground without help. Sunday we were Nina’s BFF’s sister’s birthday party, and sometimes didn’t have to watch any kids at all. Monday Jill chaperoned Nina’s class trip to the Rust Nature Sanctuary.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 6th I found out about the Wheel Of Lunch, which looks like the evolution of the lunch spreadsheet some coworkers ad I used to use. Friday Nina and I played hooky and were joined by our friend Lauren and her son to take Metro down to the National Mall to see the WW2 flyover. We met my dad at the Smithsonian stop and staked out a spot. The planes ended up flying closer to the museums and we would have moved, except by that point Nina was more absorbed with playing with all the kids – at least I could still see the planes (loved the Boeing B-29 Superfortress). Afterwards we walked to L’Enfant and had lunch at the food trucks there (fried chicken was Nina’s choice for her first food truck experience) before heading back. Only 2 minor tantrums, and none when we had to stop in Target (it helped that she got to pick out some gifts for friends’ birthday parties).

Bryce Nina

Once she was headed for bed that night I took Metro into the city for the second time to kick off my Minneapolis based concert bucket list weekend. The trip there was fine, the Echostage school bus dropped me off right in front of the club. A sold out show there is as bad as sold out shows at Rams Head Live or Webster Hall – poor sightlines unless you’re up close on the floor or on the rail of the second level, plus bartenders that took forever. But The Replacements were good, and played pretty much all the songs I liked. Leaving was a pain because the bus does not leave from the club because of the traffic, instead stops at a nearby McDonalds, and I didn’t find that out for nearly an hour. At least Metro was open late, went to bed at 2AM.

Nina Kerry

The next day I posted “As God as my witness, I will never agree to taking Nina to 2 birthday parties in 1 day again”. Jill flew to NJ for a work meeting and didn’t get back until night. Nina and I left the house at 10:30, stopped at Bakeshop for cupcakes, and went to the first party – Teddy Bear Princess themed at a playground. She had a blast (and I got to talk to friends), but we got back a little before 4 and she had just fallen asleep so I let her sleep another 20 minutes, than we had to leave for the 2nd party at 5. That one was at Kid Junction where she had fun playing video games, in the pretend shops, and in the playground. And then she didn’t go to sleep until 10:30.


Sunday the 10th was Mother’s Day. I picked my mom up at Dulles as she was returning from her chorale tour of Ireland that day (here’s her last concert). The moms were served the tastiest steak in 12 parsecs for dinner. Jill said “I love it” – I said “I know”. Later I took Mom home and headed up to Baltimore to see Prince. I’d tried once before to see him and failed, so I’d bought a ticket the minute they went on sale. I also bought parking nearby in advance. There was heavy security at Royal Farms Arena and a long wait, but at last he took the stage, and it was all worth it. Not many people can get away with four encores, and that was after a pretty thorough greatest hits set.


Despite the worst traffic I’ve seen getting to Merriweather on Thursday the 14th, the Dear Jerry show was amazing. The core 4 showed up so much, it was practically a greatest hits show with special guests. And a nice passing of the torch to the next generation. The finale of “Touch Of Grey” and “Ripple” was a perfect way to finish the evening and especially nice to spend it with the Jewells.

Kerry Stuart

Saturday the 16th we went to the Chantilly Day after Nina’s gymnastics. There was an enormous bouncy slide and she got to sit in the firetruck, but her favorite part was watching the dance groups perform. Sunday I worked while Jill took her to the Fine Arts Festival after church. Tuesday Jill and I went to see Blues Traveler at Tally Ho in Leesburg, but it was late and we were tired and only stayed for about half the show (but did chat with the Jewells there).


Thursday the 21st I took the day off to do some basement cleaning (I never seem to have both the time and energy to do it), and I wondered what was worse: a dead mouse that smells, or a mouse that’s been dead so long it doesn’t smell? Friday I took Nina to Prairie Home Companion at Wolf Trap and went to the Jewells’ spot to find fellow Shantytowners Pete and Lisa. I wanted to see I’m With Her (Aoife O’Donovan, Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz), but Nina enjoyed the whole show – I hoped she will like the other 3 shows there this summer that much. Saturday my dad and Patricia came over for lunch and a boat ride before they also went to Prairie Home Companion, then later Jill and I saw Dave Matthews Band at the Lube, and since we went so late we missed dinner ended up at Ciao Osteria for some delicious Italian food (I had a pizza and she had the Eggplant Parmesan). Memorial Day Jill took Nina strawberry picking with her BFF while I slept in and mowed.

Nina Kerry Pete

I was an idiot twice Tuesday the 26th, but lucky. For a variety of reasons (including a heretofore unknown allergy to jazz flute), I’d never seen Steven Wilson solo (only in Porcupine Tree or Blackfield prior), but I really liked the new album (and if you don’t know the godfather of progressive rock 2.0, here’s a free sampler). I felt the show was amazing, just the right number of older songs as I wanted to hear the new stuff, but great performances all around. Afterwards I stopped for a quick snack at the Satellite Room (tasty tots) next door before heading back to Metro with plenty of time to catch a connecting train to Reston before closing. Or so I thought, because when I looked up from the book I was reading on my phone, I saw “Fort Totten” on the wall. I was so perplexed by that, the doors closed before I could do anything. I got off at West Hyattsville where I’d just missed a train, and had to wait for the last Green Line train back to DC. I went to Gallery Place and checked the next train page at Metro’s site and saw there was one more Orange Line train leaving in 11 minutes from Metro Center – I made it there in 5.


In West Hyattsville I’d downloaded the Lyft app (and a promo code), so I was good to go when I got to East Falls Church, and the driver soon dropped me at the Reston stop. Except he dropped me at the garage entrance, and rather than go down the ramp or outside and around to the plaza, I decided to look for another way up – and found an elevator. Up one level, and I was on the plaza – but inside a locked building. No problem, just take the elevator back down – except it wouldn’t go down. The doors closed, and it beeped, and then nothing. I checked all the doors, verified they were all locked, and didn’t find any stairs. I hit the call button (got nothing) and tried the elevator again. Finally I realized that the door hadn’t completely closed, and I shoved it closed and held it there – and it started moving down. This time I didn’t wait to go down the ramp.
Two things I learned:
a) Lyft is very useful
b) Nina can’t be told about this ‘til she’s 21

Nina Felix

Friday the 29th we went to Nina’s class picnic at the Herndon Festival to see Love Canon (a bluegrass band that does ’80s covers) at night. Saturday I took Nina to meet the author of Dozi the Alligator at One More Page Books (he called her his biggest fan), then she played at nearby Tuckahoe Park. That night we all headed to the Lube, had a quick tailgating picnic (we were late, a lot more traffic than the previous week’s show), then Nina and I headed in to see Rush. Jill was supposed to wait in the parking lot, but it turns out they patrol and threatened her with trespassing if she didn’t leave, so she went to Panera. Nina was a trouper at the show, made it through the entire 1st set. And since my dad took me to my 1st Rush show it makes her a 3rd generation fan. Jill picked her up at the front gate after they had her park in the VIP lot, then I watched the 2nd set (it was awesome, I really enjoyed “Roll the Bones”, “Jacob’s Ladder” and the extended section of “Cygnus X-1”).

Nina Kerry

Sunday I went back to the Herndon Festival in the morning and Nina and Jill joined me after church. My favorite was Pat McGee at the Depot Stage as he had Eddie Hartness on percussion. Later we went to O’Sullivan’s for lunch and Stuart joined me for a drink. We set up at the main stage to see Donna the Buffalo and Gaelic Storm, and left towards the end of Gaelic Storm’s set. Unfortunately Nina had another asthma attack start on the way home, but was doing better after using her nebulizer.

Pat McGee Eddie Hartness


Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Thursday the 2nd brought word of two very nice digital things. First was a remastered version of the unofficial soundtrack to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – worth getting just for the 2 exclusive new versions of “Beat City” & “I’m Afraid”. I’ve been obsessed with this soundtrack for a long time. Second was the news of a new BitTorrent bundle of Doctor Who episodes. Not a bad deal, and I can’t argue with their selection of episodes. Coincidentally, this helped push me pass 1TB of digital content (between music, pictures, videos, eBooks, digital comics and other files).


Saturday’s theme was unexpected adventures. Gymnastics canceled, woods walking instead of kite flying, a very fast lunch, and Nina’s first fall into the lake (I was right there). We had a tasty early dinner at Lyon Hall (mini franks and bone marrow hit the spot for me) followed by about 20 minutes of Amy Speace at Iota before we determined Nina wasn’t ready for it. And we finished with a nice playtime at a Clarendon playground. Sunday was Easter and Nina was excited to get her very own knitting needles. Mom came over for dinner and we had ham and artichokes.

Nina Jill

Wednesday the 8th Neil Gaiman retweeted me. Now time spent on Twitter is worth it… Saturday Nina and I collaborated on a song in the morning. I sing the bass line (“poop” repeated infinitely) and she sings on top of it. Sunday Dad came over for lunch (and his birthday).


Saturday the 18th the Cannons were in town and we met them at a playground in Falls Church, then we all had lunch at Mad Fox. We were planning on going to see Red Molly in Purcelville in the afternoon on Sunday, but Nina had another asthma attack and they stayed home while I went with Stuart and his dad, then I was home with her on Monday. The Cannons came over to our house for dinner on Tuesday, we all had Mexican food.

I’m sure the folks at the nerd prom had a good time Saturday the 25th, but I was 3rd row for a six song set from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. It was part of Lead Belly at 125 – good times, they still sounded good, especially on “Gallows Pole”. The next night Jill and I had fun at Alan Doyle’s (ex-Great Big Sea) show at the Birchmere with a nice dinner beforehand at Cheestique – she danced so much she sprained her hamstring.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

Monday the 27th I realized some things do come in threes: the week before, Nina finally stopped using pull ups at night, the night before the baby gate cracked off at the hinges, and that morning she wanted to eat breakfast by herself. I told her she can’t get her own place until she’s 18. We measured her that night – she was 3′ 4.5″ (and of course had an accident the next two nights, went back to pull ups for a week, etc.).



Monday, April 27th, 2015

On Thursday the 5th didn’t get much work done in the morning as it was a snow day (Jill made it to work), but I shoveled twice, made a big breakfast, and entertained a 3 year old and dog with a cone on his head (Illa had an eye infection). I was so happy mother-in-law Sue was with us as I did get some work in later.


Sunday the 8th Jill and Nina drove home with Sue as Jill’s youngest nephew was having surgery and she volunteered to be a surrogate mom to the other 3 while their parents were in Boston. It was a very long week for everyone, but lots of fun parts too (they visited the New England Aquarium and Nina tried rollerskating). I had a busy week at work without much time for play, plus some stomach troubles (which I did not help by getting Bon Chon takeout Thursday night).


I picked Jill and Nina up the morning of Saturday the 14th at BWI. The second best thing about the weekend (besides getting them home) was watching the wind completely demolish the ice on the lake Sunday. The third best thing was a corned beef and cabbage dinner with my mom (because who has time for that on a Tuesday?).


Thursday the 19th we saw The Pine Hill Project (Lucy Kaplansky & Richard Shindell) at the Barns at Wolf Trap. They did most of their new excellent album together, including incredible covers of U2’s “Sweetest Thing” and Dave Carter’s “Farewell To Saint Dolores” with master musician Larry Campbell. Friday I didn’t care if the stuff falling from the sky was snow, sleet, or a monstrous hybrid of howling monkeys and killer bees as long as school was not delayed and it didn’t transform other drivers into idiots.


Saturday the 21st we tried a new park (Tuckahoe Park) which Nina loved, then had lunch at the Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn (Nina liked her burger and really liked watching TV while she ate). Sunday afternoon we met up with the Norwoods at Frying Pan Farm Park to see the animals and ride the carousel, then they came over to our house for Mexican for dinner.

Nina Norwoods

Monday the 23rd Nina had her 2nd ballet recital (Jill was able to go to this one) and Tuesday started swim class (Jill took her to her gym). Thursday Jill and I had a fun dinner at Equinox (I almost never get pasta, but it was delicious) and saw the cast of Bob’s Burgers live at the Warner Theatre. Even better was Nina waking up and singing “you’re the bestest daddy in the world” the next morning. I didn’t ask her if she changed her mind post no time to play tantrum later.


Monday the 30th we had a scary experience as Nina had trouble breathing, and we ended up in the emergency room later that day. We now know it was allergy-induced asthma, but it was a hard week for her and us (I insisted Jill go out Tuesday to see The Breakfast Club by herself as she needed a break (and I’d bought tix weeks earlier).