November

Friday the 1st Nina got her braces; Jill said “Getting braces apparently means going to Target, getting a toy, and playing hooky for the rest of the day instead of going back to school! Who knew?”. Saturday we went into DC to see the Nats Parade. We first went to Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken so we could get chicken and doughnuts for lunch (had to try the Baby Shark doughnut). Then we walked over to the parade on the other side of the street from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We didn’t stay for the speeches, got back so Nina could enjoy the sunshine at a park near East Fall Metro (which was so packed we had parked on a side street). Jill said “We pulled out our swag from previous games and headed downtown for the World Series Victory festivities. We ate at the ironically named Astro Donuts and Chicken then headed to Constitution Ave where we got as best a view one could from 250 feet away. We still had fun and everyone was in a celebratory mood! We didn’t stay for the rally but stopped at a playground on the way home to enjoy the day.”

Kerry Nina

Tuesday I went to concert #43: Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle & Thao Nguyen at the Warner Theatre on the Lantern Tour II for The Women’s Refugee Commission. I’d seen everyone but Thao before, and she was great. But there’s nothing like Patty singing “Mary” with Emmylou on backing vocals. Wednesday Jill said “N and I went to the polls yesterday (as is our tradition; I vote and she watches and asks lots of questions 😊) and helped flip the state legislature for the first time in almost 25 years. For an off-off election year, what a voter turnout! [Today I] Got one of the best cuts of my life thanks to Second Life Salon and the DevaCurl curly girl method!”

Lantern

Saturday the 9th we got fancy and headed over to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to get our pictures taken. We needed a holiday card photo, plus we hadn’t done family pictures in a while. Jill said “We had family portraits taken at one of our favorite places, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens by Dion Seneca Photography who was super patient and made it fun for everyone! We wandered around afterwards and explored the park during the day where the Winter Walk of Lights is already set up! N especially liked the metal bench shaped like a tree and enjoyed waving to adoring crowds in her horse drawn sleigh”. Nina enjoyed watching the live action Little Mermaid that night.

Kerry Jill Nina

Sunday was show #44: Jay And Silent Bob Reboot at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Ordinarily a movie wouldn’t make the list, but it does if stars Kevin Smith & Jason Mewes are there to host and do a q&a afterwards. Funny movie and aftershow. Bonus was the slow ordering and food delivery had us waiting for dinner until afterwords (good thing we chose the early show) and we got to try The Renegade. It’s owned by a friend, but we hadn’t been and it was delish (the lamb lollipops were great). Jill said “we stopped for dinner afterwards and so glad we did! We had an amazing meal and everyone was really nice and attentive. A great spot; we’ll be back!”

Jay & Silent Bob

After a long morning on a field trip at the National Museum of Natural History on Thursday the 14th, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church was a great find. Nice store, and I wouldn’t have know they had a bar with food upstairs without Yelp. Delicious and affordable, I’ll be back (yes, I made it to CD Cellar too).

Nina

Saturday was a packed day with a Girl Scout Expo (Jill said “Had a great morning at the Girl Scout Expo! Unfortunately we had to leave early which was hard, there were so many great things to do and see!”) and drama class. It was parents night out at Tae Kwon Do, so we ran errands, tried out Urban Plates in Tyson’s II, then hung out at the bar in Barrel & Bushel while we finished off the latest Wizards Unite challenge. I’d taken Nina to McDonald’s for lunch when she asked for lunch out instead of takeout before her night out and she was very disappointed when the shake machine was broken. So for dessert we all had shakes from Shake Shack after we picked her up. Pretty much a perfect evening. Sunday was show #45: Roald Dahl’s Matilda at the NextStop Theatre. Great cast, and Nina’s still singing the songs.

Nina

Tuesday the 19th was concert #46: Letters to Cleo at Union Stage. It probably wasn’t the wisest decision to go to 2 shows that week with Jill working 7am to 7pm 3 days, but after being home all day with a sick kid, it was nice to hear some loud rock music (and I’m not kidding about the loud – in the 2 years I’ve been recording every show on my phone, this was the loudest one). The band was great, the venue was nice (my 1st time) and someone even started a discussion with me because of my shirt (the band Belly), which never happens. And their new album is Christmas music, so that was nice timing. Thursday was a concert, then Thanksgiving lunch at Nina’s school, then that night was concert #47: The Low Anthem and Futur Primitif at Jammin’ Java. I went from the loudest concert of the year to the softest as The Low Anthem celebrated the 10th anniversary of Oh My God, Charlie Darwin by playing the full album. But oddly, not in order, and with other songs in the middle. But a fine show nonetheless.

Nina

Saturday the 24th we started vacation after drama class by driving up to Philly. The annual Friendsgiving was a lot of fun, and for the first time we stayed in the city afterwards (Homewood Suites by Hilton, very nice). That meant we got fresh NYC bagels for breakfast the next morning, then went to Reading Terminal Market where we bought some delectables and booze, and had lunch (I had a delicious roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s). It was a shorter trip to Massachusetts after starting in Philly even with predictable slowdowns due to rain, and we arrived not much after dark. Jill wanted food from Mel’s, but I’m not a fan and got a sub from Pizza D’Action.

Nina

Monday we visited Jill’s dad’s mom, then had a bunch of family over at Jill’s mom’s house for takeout Chinese food from North Garden. Tuesday we drove over to my sister’s house south of Boston, where my mom and her husband had been visiting since Sunday. We went out for dinner at The Quarry Restaurant, where I had a pork belly bun, lobster sliders & roasted broccoli rabe. The next afternoon we had a catered Thanksgiving lunch, before trying to leave before traffic got bad. We were partly successful by heading through Rhode Island and running errands there, then angling back northwest. We arrived at Jill’s sister’s house in time for a spaghetti dinner and a white elephant exchange (since we wouldn’t be up for Christmas this year).

family

Thursday was Thanksgiving at Jill’s other sister’s house. Black Friday was my favorite day, as I got to go CD shopping and eat at The Green Bean while Jill had Nina and the younger cousins at the parade in Springfield. That night was concert #48: Stephen Kellogg with Casey at the Iron Horse. We thanked Jill’s mom for being kind and generous by watching Nina and letting us do the VIP before the show and getting a cocktail at The Green Room and hot tubs at East Heaven afterwards. We also finally got a Nields sighting in Northampton as Katryna joined him for the encore. Saturday morning we met Jill’s dad and his wife at Stir the Pot for brunch. We also picked up Jill’s niece Maddie there as a storm was coming that would eventually cancel her flight back to school. We hit a White Castle in a sketchy part of town for a drive thru lunch in Jersey; traffic soon diverted us through Pennsylvania. We stopped at Pistarro’s in Frederick because they were vegetarian friendly (and tasty). By the time we were done, all traffic had died down and we were able to take Maddie directly to school via 270, then home.

family

September

Sunday the 1st was Nina’s birthday party. She finally had a small scale party – this one was at our house. First she and her guests did pet themed crafts, then they had pizza. After water balloons and sprinkler fun in the backyard, it was time for cake, and then the girls played until their parents came.

Nina

Monday Jill hadn’t gotten sleep while working during the night, so Sue joined Nina and I on a trip to my dad’s house after we realized we hadn’t gone and visited him at his house all summer. We got there and headed to the beach and buried Nina in the sand before having lunch with Dad. Later Jill was up and we all went over to Glory Days Grill for dinner and celebrated Nina’s birthday with dessert at Baskin Robbins. Tuesday Jill and Sue explored Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens before Sue went home the next day. Friday Nina started Tae Kwon Do lessons, continuing on from the after school classes she’d taken in the spring.

Nina Sue

Saturday the 7th was Family Day at my work, and Nina did everything, from pony rides to face painting to temporary tattoos. We were supposed to go to the opening festival of the Reach at the Kennedy Center, but bailed after getting home later than planned (plus there were dragons to catch in Wizards Unite). Jill went out that night to catch the Legwarmers at a winery. We planned to meet Lorna & Dave at Taco Zocalo for dinner on Sunday but they were closed for some reason, so we went to Cafesano instead.

Nina Jill

Saturday the 14th Jill and I saw What the Constitution Means to Me at the Kennedy Center (Show #36). Great, even though we came in late because dinner ran long at Rasika West End (but totally worth it). Sunday we took Nina and my dad to see the Nats not get swept by the Braves. I was especially happy that my second choice for the previous night’s dinner, ChiKo, had an outpost there (too bad only the tots lived up to their reputation). I also had a Coke Icee with bourbon, which caused a weird nostalgia mash up of going to 7-11 as a teenager and college parties.

Jill Nina Kerry Bryce

Monday I was sad over the passing of Ric Ocasek (from The Cars) and tumbled down a covers rabbithole, including this great one:

Thursday the 19th Jill was off to Tennessee for her Into The Wool Retreat. It was business as usual during the week, then on Saturday Nina and I went to the REACH Opening Festival at the Kennedy Center (for Show #37). Debbie Allen hosted as the emcee for the first performance as students from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy performed, then New York City Ballet star Tiler Peck taught the crowd moves from her appearance in Charlotte OC’s “Medicine Man” music video (Nina wanted to meet her after that). We had lunch from the food trucks next, then explored the new area (anyplace you can you can get your feet wet is fine with her). She also participated in the Floor Barre conditioning master class taught by Renee Robinson. Finally we caught the sound check for Fela! The Concert while she and other kids built a fort with the boxes used for seating, then we got ice cream. Sunday we picked up Jill from the airport and missed the retirement of our favorite clerk from Safeway (we’d said farewell the week before).

Nina Tiler Peck

Wednesday the 25th was school picture day, then Saturday after drama class we returned to Queen City Mischief & Magic. It was a bit surreal to play Wizards Unite while so many people were dressed up, but cool. Nina got her picture taken with lots of characters, got treasure from a mermaid, and finally got to watch a Quidditch game. We’d stopped in Front Royal for lunch and were getting hungry by dark, but Nina voted for not eating there. So we returned to the parking lot with the shuttle and found Brother’s Pizza, which had something for everyone. Then we got to the Best Western, which seemed fine until the train rumbled by 20 feet away as we were going to bed, but it only came by once more during the night and everyone managed to sleep through it.

Kerry Nina Jill

After a nice hotel breakfast, we returned to Queen City for a couple hours. Nina had a Lego Hogwarts Express appointment and did a chalk drawing and henna, she and Jill got slices of pizza from Emilio’s while I got a Bánh Mì at Laughing Bird Pho then headed north and dropped Jill at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. Nina and I went to downtown Winchester and she played on the splash pad there, then we hit Sonic and picked up drinks before getting Jill and heading home.

Nina

August

We woke up on the 1st in Edison, having left for vacation the night before and stopping halfway to our destination. We were staying at Home2 Suites by Hilton, most remarkable for being only a couple of months old, and everything was fantastic. After a complimentary hot breakfast, we got on the road (minus Nina’s pillow). Jill got some of her favorites at Nathan’s for lunch, then we got back on the road. When we were close to Hillsdale, we went grocery shopping, first at Taconic Orchards for produce and cider donuts, then Hannaford Supermarket for everything else. We were soon at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and got everything set up and collapsed. The Cannons had arrived soon after us, and we got dinner together. I wasn’t feeling up to it and skipped music that night. I’d brought a glow in the dark capture the flag type game, but the girls skipped the game to have impromptu lightsaber battles with the pieces.

Nina

Friday Nina had a new friend (daughter of an old friend) and tried some of her hard cookies. A week earlier she’d had an expander (precursor to braces put in), and one of the cookies knocked it out of one side. We just needed to get it out at that point, and Jill spent hours on the phone trying to find someplace that could do it that day. Finally Adirondack Orthodontics was able to fit us in. It was about an hour away, but we didn’t have much of a choice, so we headed northwest past Albany. They were even able to take us earlier once we were up there, and so pleasant and quick. Jill saw a Friendly’s on the way out and we stopped there for lunch. We headed straight back to Copake Falls as the Cannons were swimming there. When we got back to camp we made food for the taco night potluck dinner, then I started assembling the jellyfish umbrellas (Nina’s number one request from last year). Soon we were ready for concert #28: Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams at the Dance Tent, and all the girls marched in the jellyfish parade.

Nina

Saturday Jill once again had to trek into civilization to wash some sheets. At midday we went over to the Workshop Stage (and met up with AJ) and caught the end of Our Roots Are Showing with Carolann Solebello, Low Lily & Mid-City Aces for concert #29, then concert #30 was also there: The Songwriting Process with Stephen Kellogg, Kerri Powers & Beth Nielsen Chapman (and a whole lot of talking). We made leftovers for dinner, and Jay made some ridiculously good Korean barbecue as well, so I enjoyed that. Later I went out solo to see concert #31: BoDeans at main stage.

Jill Nina Matt

Sunday the 4th we packed up and headed out. Jill was hungry and we stopped at Betty’s Pizza Shack in Lenox for some delicious pizza. Jill said “Nina said ‘it’s so nice to be able to flush the toilet!’ Yep, got that right. Nothing like a little gratefulness training.” Later we went to Jill’s mom’s house – I thought about trying to go see Queen with Nina that night near Boston, but they were sold out and it would have been a lot of work. Monday Nina and Jill ran errands and I walked over to Stop & Shop, enjoying some uninterrupted Wizards Unite time (Jill and I were getting competitive, and she was 2 levels ahead of me). That night we met the Bradys at Joe’s Spaghetti & Pizza in Northampton, then after dinner, Jill and I played Wizards Unite while Sue accompanied Tiernan while he played Pokemon Go (the others went back to the house).

Nina

Tuesday morning we met Jill’s dad and Sue at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens. Nina was scared of the butterflies, but liked the turtles getting fed. We had lunch at The People’s Pint in Greenfield, then some ice cream at Ice Cream Alley. Then we all drove over to Hadley to visit with Jill’s dad’s mom. We packed up in the afternoon and went over to Robin and Mike’s house, where we stayed the remainder of our visit. Wednesday Jill and her sisters planned a beach day (but weather meant they ended up in Old Sturbridge Village). Meanwhile I took Nina to Half Mile Falls Park and the Tavern Restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, I made it over to Turn It up before we had dinner at Sue’s.

Connie Jill Nina

Thursday Jill and Melissa took Nina and Ava to Six Flags while I hung out with Mike and Finn, going to Stanley Park. That evening Sue and Dave brought dinner over. Friday we headed home, and traffic was not terrible, which was a nice surprise. Saturday we ran some errands and played Wizards Unite at Reston Town Center – Nina tried Pokemon Go on her Kindle, but it kept crashing. Sunday, Nina and I went to concert #32: Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band at Wolf Trap. Nina’s second Beatle, although the song she was most excited to hear that night was Africa (thanks, Weezer). She also lost another tooth (good timing as her expander went back in the next day).

Kerry Jill Nina

Friday the 16th Sue and Tiernan arrived for a visit. Saturday we celebrated our anniversary early (Sue took the kids to Glory Days and the Air & Space museum). Jill started first, “I treated myself to a boudoir photo session as a 40th birthday present to myself. I wanted to celebrate this body I’m in, and have some fun. It exceeded my wildest expectations. Makeup by @chellzdidit, hair by @jasminepalmaartistry, photography by @ahiddenexposure. It was an amazing experience; if you feel the slightest inclination about doing something like this for yourself, I Highly Recommend it! Kerry and I also got some anniversary pictures taken. @ahiddenexposure put us at ease and got some great shots of us goofing around!“. She’d booked a room at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, and after the photos, we went downstairs to Brabo for an excellent meal.

Kerry Jill

In the morning we had bagels across the street (only ok). Jill headed home and I went to Hole in the Wall books to stop by for the last time as the owners were retiring and closing down at the end of the month. my best friend Chris and I started getting into comics around 1981 by riding our bikes across 236 to the 7-Eleven and buying them there. Hole In The Wall was the first actual comic book shop I started going to. It was tiny and cluttered but it was awesome. Later we discovered Burke Center Used Books & Comics which was closer and I had a subscription for comics there for the longest time until I moved to Herndon and went mail order (they closed not long after that). That night I was out solo for concert #33: Mark Knopfler (from Dire Straits) at Wolf Trap. Amazingly he was still on my concert bucket list, and happily still sprinkling in the Dire Straits songs. He also had a 10-piece band for a very full sound. It was a hot night, and a cool breeze during the show had me worried until I saw on radar the storm was heading up through Maryland. This is a pretty spot on review.

Sue Nina

Wednesday the 21st I went over to Mosaic and had dinner at Caboose before going to see the Rush: Cinema Strangiato at Angelika, but the combination of salt and heat had me feeling poorly and I left halfway through. Thursday Nina skipped camp so Jill and Sue could take her and Tiernan to the National Zoo. Friday Jill was working but I was planning on taking everyone else to The Pietasters at Royal Lake Park, but it was canceled due to rain. I took Nina to Target after her last day of camp and got her the new Taylor Swift CD, plus put things on her birthday wishlist. And we ended up going to Popeyes as everyone but Sue was into that (big lines even though they were out of their new sandwich). That night it had taken a while (I started last year), but due to recent events (our band director passed away), I got working a little harder. Here are just about all the W.T. Woodson Band tapes I have, now digitized and free to stream or download. Saturday Nina had a cold and we tried to sell the tickets we had for Aladdin without luck. Melissa and Maddie were down so Maddie could move in, so we all went to visit the new apartment, then had dinner at Alto Fumo Pizza & Pasta Bar in Clarendon. Sunday Sue went to the Fairfax Comic Con solo to meet the teacher from “Stranger Things” before Melissa and Tiernan headed home.

Nina Jill Sue

Monday Nina recovered just in time for her first day of school. Tuesday we got takeout from Hunan East and I guess it had been too long since ER visits, as I got another one that night. Apparently I just got my first food allergy, so no more sushi for me for a while. Wednesday the 29th Jill and Sue visited the National Cathedral during the day. That night we did end up going to the Kennedy Center for show #34: Aladdin. Contacting member services proved helpful, as we were able to use our tickets from Saturday, plus bring Sue. Nina loved it of course – we were thinking about leaving after intermission, but we were outvoted. And Major Attaway has a wonderful performance as the genie (I just found he’s headed to the Broadway version now). Thursday I went to Jammin’ Java for concert #35: SHEL with Wild Harbors. SHEL is a band of all sisters with great harmonies, and I’d helped crowdfund a CD of theirs a while back but hadn’t gotten around to seeing them live. Worth the wait, and they do a smokin’ cover of “The Battle Of Evermore”. Friday school was closed and Sue took Nina to Clemyjontri. Saturday we got ready for Nina’s birthday party.

Nina

25 years since Woodstock ’94

In the summer of 1994 I had just left my first software developer job after two years as the company was sold. Burned out by 80 hour weeks of working on tax software and nursing a case of carpal tunnel, I took advantage of a deal to stay on and write a data exporter for the new company and walked away with some nice compensation, most of which I sunk into Digital Exchange, a used CD store in Springfield, VA. It had been started the previous year by three of my fraternity brothers from Sigma Phi Epsilon at Randolph Macon College. John (aka Rusty) wanted to get back to the corporate world full time, so I bought him out.

instructions

I was a long time fan of music, but I hadn’t gone to a lot of concerts yet. My first show was in 1984, but I’d only seen a couple of shows a year after that. I started getting more into it in 1993, but with my exit from the 9 to 5 world, came a new goal: I would see 100 bands in 1994. I was making good progress by summer, especially going to my first two festivals: HFStival and Lollapalooza. But the announcement of Woodstock ’94 had me salivating: amazing lineups and the connection with the legendary original. By that time I was at the store full time, and my buddy Eric was interested in going as well, so we bought tickets when they went on sale in June. We convinced John to come back that weekend in August and help out Steve, and got on the road Friday morning August the 12th (after seeing Nine Inch Nails at the Patriot Center the night before).

parking pass front parking pass back

With 250,000 people expected, the festival organizers had us drive to a parking lot to take a shuttle bus to the festival. While things had gone well for us, this is where the problems started as we had at least a four hour wait for an orange bus (and I had my one and only experience with Goldschlager). By the time we actually got to Woodstock ’94, it was dark and Sheryl Crow was playing. We caught some of her set, but it was late and we needed to set up camp. We could see tents all around, so we kept going past the North Stage where she was playing, then the South Stage, still not finding any empty space. We ended up setting up our tent on a hillside past there.

map

We were woken Saturday morning to light rain starting to fall, but our tent was partly shielded by the trees. We got food and walked over to the North Stage where Joe Cocker kicked things off. He was followed by Blind Melon, Cypress Hill and Rollins Band before we took a break (and missed Melissa Etheridge covering Janis Joplin as well as Crosby, Stills & Nash).

We were back at the South Stage in time to see The Band featuring Hot Tuna, Bruce Hornsby, Roger McGuinn, Rob Wasserman, and Bob Weir (and that turned out to be the one and only time I saw them) as well as Primus before the main event. Sure, we’d seen Nine Inch Nails two days earlier, but they embraced the mud to put on a legendary performance.

Metallica was up next and took on the challenge. As the only act there with pyrotechnics, they had an added fuel to their ferocious show.

Aerosmith was more than willing to top that at their show, which started after midnight. It was epic, and ended with a fireworks display at 3:30am (and one of our neighbors offering me a hit from a Coke Can bong was the perfect last time I had any).

Saturday was epic, but it was a festival that was later nicknamed Mudstock for a reason. It got harder and harder to walk around, the porta potties couldn’t get serviced, and they started to run out of food. Knowing that the later we waited the harder it would be to get back to the car, we only caught Traffic that day before heading for the buses and home (I loved the two bootleg t-shirts I got there to death). Oh, and I hit my goal: 127 bands just in 1994.

wristband

scrip

July

Monday July 1st was Jill’s birthday and we were still in Rochester, and after some quick birthday wishes and farewells to Mom and David, we got on the highway. We checked the border crossing times at a rest area before Buffalo, and kept the original plan to cross into Canada at the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge. After a 10 minute wait, we were north of the border. We stopped at Dillon’s Distillery and tasted and bought some spirits (I knew the official alcohol stores were closed for Canada Day). We had a quick stop at a Panera later for a bathroom break, but soon pulled up to the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. I was happy to leave the car there, and we checked in and relaxed.

Jill

We got hungry for lunch and went across the street to the Union Summer market popup. Nina had guacamole and chips from El Catrin and a fried chicken sandwich from Union Chicken, while Jill and I got sausages from Wvrst. We even got concert #21 with our great lunch: Jordan Hart & Emily Schultz.

Jordan Hart & Emily Schultz

When we found out we couldn’t see the fireworks from the nearby waterfront, we decided to go to the Toronto Islands. We bought ferry tickets and headed over, getting there around 4. What we did not know before going was the Toronto Islands had been flooding. It didn’t affect us too much – Nina got to ride some rides at the Centreville Amusement Park, then we walked over to Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. for dinner. It was the best option for eating on the island and was pretty crowded, but we got our food and drinks without too many issues.

Nina Jill Kerry

We had been told we could see the fireworks from the beach at Ward’s Island, so we started the hike (at least a mile, with a small child complaining for the entire second half). Unfortunately when we got there, 3/4 of the beach was flooded and the mosquitoes were everywhere, so we gave up and went over to the ferry there, where we could see some of the fireworks far off in the distance. My original plan had been to see both the fireworks and the free concert by Broken Social Scene at Harbourfront Centre. I realized we got back in time to see some, so the girls went to BeaverTails while I hurried over to catch the last 1.5 songs, so it counted as concert #22.

Nina Jill

Tuesday we slept in, then walked over to SOCO Kitchen + Bar for a nice early lunch, then went across the street to Ripley’s Aquarium. It was super crowded but we took our time and went through all the exhibits. Later we took the streetcar up to Kensington Market. Jill’s must was Yarns Untangled, and Nina and I went next door to a coffee shop while she browsed. We’d planned on eating tacos at Seven Lives as they were recommended, but they didn’t have anything Nina would eat so ended up at El Trompo Taco Bar, which was a nice sit down place with great tacos.

Jill Nina Kerry

I was planning on going to Sonic Boom Records, and had checked their website that morning to see it said “We’re open 364 days a year”. Apparently I was supposed to check their social media as well, as they closed for the day to film a TV show. The day was saved by our trip to Cool N2 Ice Cream. Nina got Mr. Brownie which comes with two scoops of chocolate ice cream with brownie bits, two roasted marshmallows on a stick, a syringe with chocolate syrup and half of a Two Bite Brownie, while I got Dragon’s Breath: Cheese curls are placed in a cup and then liquid nitrogen is poured on top, then smoke comes out with each bite. We got off the streetcar near Rogers Centre and let Nina run around for a while outside of the Toronto Railway Museum.

Kerry Nina

We got back to the hotel around 8 and were planning bedtime, but found out Nina’s friend who lived there (granddaughter of our next door neighbors) was possibly only available that night. So we too the subway to Yorkville and the girls got to run around on the Yorkville Rock. We were told that nearby Summer’s Ice Cream had the best ice cream in Toronto, so we made the great sacrifice to have a second dessert. We were also told we had to see the Casa Loma castle, so we drove over there and took the subway back after.

Casa Loma

Wednesday we slept in a bit, then checked out. We managed to stop for breakfast at the very same Panera we’d stopped at Monday, then were soon at the African Lion Safari. It turned out Nina’s friend was heading there as well, so we toured the safari in our car, then met up at the waterpark. They played there for a while, then went to an Elephants & Friends presentation. It was hot, so the girls got Dippin’ Dots to cool down. Next we drove into Hamilton and stopped at The Coop for chicken, then I got my record store make up at Dr. Disc that had 3 CDs for a dollar in the basement. We’d been hearing good things about Tim Hortons, so we stopped so I could get an iced tea and Jill could get a latte – that was a mistake, they had no idea what an iced tea was (gave me a giant cup of hot tea and small cup of ice) and Jill took one drink of hers and tossed it in the trash.

lions

Soon we were in Niagara Falls, where the rest of Jill’s family had arrived and checked in at the Best Western. We drove over to Clifton Hill and parked, then walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe (it was Tiernan’s birthday choice). Unfortunately Jill noticed Nina getting hives on her face and we didn’t pack Benadryl, so I walked over to the nearest drug store and back (she had them again a bit the next day, but we washed her all over and her shoes and it was gone after that). We all went down to check out the falls after dinner and watch the fireworks, then called it a night.

Wadases Bradys Freys

Thursday the 4th we all gathered at The Flying Saucer for breakfast, then slowly made our way to parking near the Table Rock Welcome Centre. We couldn’t get tickets for the Journey Behind the Falls until eveyone was got there, so we explored the gift shops and went outside to check out the falls. We went down in an elevator, and found the ponchos they had passed out were very necessary.

Kerry Jill Nina

We took Tiernan back with us, and he wanted Popeyes for lunch, which Nina was definitely down for. Jill had been interested in a hot dog at Table Rock but we were leaving, so she looked them up and found the best was next door at The Flying Saucer. We ate our bounty by the pool in the hotel, then Nina went in the pool for a while. Melissa watched Nina while Sue, Dave, Maddy, Jill and I took a tour of the Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery, where we got wine, beer and liquor. We got the family together again for dinner at Napoli Ristorante, where everyone had a delicious Italian meal (antipasto for me). Later Dominic, Melissa, Maddy, Jake and Tiernan joined Jill and I on the Falls Fireworks Cruise. They took two boats out and we got good looks at all the falls lit up before the fireworks went off above us. Meanwhile Sue and Dave took Nina and Ava to Clifton Hill to do what Nina really wanted to do, take selfies with Taylor Swift at Movieland.

Sue Dave Dominic Maddy Jill Kerry

Friday we got a late start and managed to show up at Niagara Helicopters with two tour groups in front of us. But soon they went from 2 helicopters to 4 and the wait wasn’t too bad. Nina sat in the front with me and gripped my leg tightly for the whole ride, but she enjoyed it. For lunch Nina wanted McDonalds (right next to the hotel), while Jill wanted poutine from Potato Heads – I got regular fries and very good fish sandwich.

Nina Kerry Tiernan Jill

In the afternoon, I dropped off Jill, Melissa and the girls at the waterpark and found a UPS Store I could rent a PC to reprint my car registration (left it at home) and back up all my photos. Realizing I had nothing I needed to do, I went record store searching. The nearest good one was Mindbomb in St Catharines, but while they had a nice vinyl selection, the CDs were sparse. Then I went to the nearby Sunrise Records which I didn’t realized until I got there was in the Pen Centre mall. No used stuff there, but they did have a David’s Tea so I was able to have a real iced tea. Plus on the way out I spied a Goodwill store, went in and totally scored. I got back to the hotel just in time to leave again to pick up the ladies.

Ava Nina

We got back and everyone got ready for dinner, this time at The Blind Pig, a gastropub in walking distance (I had the small plates of pork belly and Korean fried chicken). After talking up BeaverTails, everyone wanted some so Jill, Melissa, Maddy, and Ava went to get those while I played with Nina in the arcade area at the hotel. After bedtime I went down to Doc Magilligan’s, the hotel restaurant and bar and enjoyed a 7 year old Irish whiskey. Apparently I missed the band “Widow Maker”, but I wasn’t torn up about it.

Jill Sue

The bad thing about coming home on Saturday was the long line at the border crossing (45 minutes at the Peace Bridge) and the showers and storms that followed us home literally all day. At least we got delicious meals at two great out of the way places, Ashford Junction Diner (in Ellicottville, NY) and Dolce Pizza Gourmet & Eastern European Restaurant (in Hagerstown, MD).

Nina

Monday the 8th Nina started art camp. Thursday Jill picked her up and she once again had hives, but gave her a Benadryl. She was soon better, and that meant we didn’t have to cancel our plans. We all went to East Falls Church Metro, but Jill left us at Rosslyn to head to La Fromagerie in Old Town Alexandria for a wine tasting & dinner with Franklin Habit. Nina and I went to Gallery Place to again have dinner at Nando’s, spend some time at IT’SUGAR before heading into the Capital One Arena for concert #23: Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra with Dhani Harrison. It was Nina’s mandatory classic rock show for the year, but she enjoyed herself. Her favorite song was “Last Train To London”, but mine was a fantastic version of The Traveling Wilburys “Handle With Care” as Dhani joined them to sing George’s part.

Nina ELO

Saturday we went over to Barnes & Noble as they were giving away Lego Golden Snitchs (and since I bought the Night Bus, I think they came out ok). Then we drove over to Cactus Cantina for a late lunch/early dinner before going to the the Kennedy Center for show #24: Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime! Anthony Anderson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Tony Hale, Tom Lennon & Natalie Morales were all hilarious. Plus we got to see Rachel Dratch before the show looking for directions (“No, I’m in the show!”) and Nina got a picture with director Bobcat Goldthwait.

Nina Bobcat Goldthwait

Sunday the 14th Jill had worked the night before so I took Nina over to the Springfield Dave & Busters because I got a Groupon for all day video games. We had a great time and a good lunch at Chuy’s, but after I showed Nina where my record store used to be, I felt my blood pressure go up – and stay up. We got home and we did chores and I was making dinner, but sat down and told Jill it was up and felt high. We had a blood pressure cuff and I was at 210/110. So off we went to the hospital. They admitted me and ruled out anything really scary but kept me for observation overnight. I got to sleep at home Monday and was feeling better Tuesday, but didn’t go back to work until Wednesday.

I was cleared for concert duty after a 2.5km walk Tuesday morning, so took Nina to concert #25: “Weird Al” Yankovic with the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap. Nina had a blast, and loved the videos she hadn’t seen (“Word Crimes” and “Weasel Stomping Day”) and got her current favorite: “The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota”. Plus we got to see Lorna! This review is spot on.

Weird Al

Friday as we’re leaving the house: “I’m not hot because I don’t have underwear on.” Follow up: “It’s a long story. I lost them at the pool.” (spoiler alert: we turned around and corrected matters). Friday was way too hot (heat index over 100), but it was a good choice to use our Encore Circle pass for their fans and ice water. We were hot at concert #26: JoJo Siwa with The Belles at Wolf Trap, but the folks on stage gave it their all. Not the worst show (though everything except vocals were prerecorded) but Nina loved it. Plus she got to play tag afterwards, thanks to seeing our friend Monica and her daughter. We also made the smart move to give up the Dave Matthews Band tickets we had for Saturday when it was even hotter (we hid indoors and packed for vacation while Nina played with neighbors just back from vacation on Saturday, while we built Legos on Sunday). We did get to see the new art on the lake.

JoJo Nina

Wednesday the 24th I was off to DC for concert #27: Our Native Daughters at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The unforecasted rain meant I got soaked walking over, but light refreshments (popcorn and lemonade) were nice after I finished drying my hair with the hand dryer. The show was good, and I’d been wanting to see Rhiannon Giddens for a while. At home, Jill had a “Baby great blue heron sighting in the backyard”. Thursday I was amazed when the seemingly canceled Woodstock 50 festival was now suggested to happen at Merriweather.

Our Native Daughters

Saturday the 27th I took Nina an hour away to a mall in Waldorf, MD, so she could do Descendants crafts. She was one of only two cosplayers, but she didn’t mind. Afterwards I got to go to Justice for the first time, and it being her favorite store made perfect sense. Meanwhile Jill was “Done! My first handspun laceweight shawl. This was such a rewarding project.” Sunday Jill started working at 3, so we worked on vacation playlists, making dancing and lip syncing videos, and building a hotel.

Nina

Tuesday Queen + Adam Lambert wasn’t a must earlier, but “One Vision” is one of my favorite songs and they haven’t done it on an American tour before. Plus a full “’39”! Then they dropped “One Vision” and I was still excited, but an ultrasound on Monday revealed a blood clot in my left calf. My doctor wasn’t super worried, but Jill wasn’t comfortable with just Nina and I going, so I didn’t get tickets (and I’m now on blood thinners). But I knew it must be getting close to Falcon Ridge time if I’m making jellyfish umbrellas at night. The next night a centipede crawled out of the camping gear and on to my shirt. I don’t think I’ve ever moved that fast. After work and camp Wednesday, we left on vacation, staying in Edison, NJ for the night (someone had to get her White Castle on).

Nina

June

Saturday the 1st the rest of the family was still in Massachusetts so I took advantage of a full day off by going over to CD Cellar then having an early dinner at Donburi in Tysons Galleria (Sakedon bowl FTW). Then it was concert #15: Guster, Adia Victoria, Matt Braunger, Chris Thile, Madison Cunningham & Brittany Haas at Wolf Trap as part of Live from Here. The show was great, including yet another Led Zeppelin cover to honor John Bonham’s birthday (listen here at 1:29:48). And one fantastic part that didn’t even make it to air was soundcheck with Madison Cunningham covering Radiohead’s “No Surprises”.

Chris Thile covers No Surprises during a taping of Live from Here from r/radiohead

I also had a fast exit over to Herndon for concert #16: Farewell Angelina at the Herndon Festival where they whipped out a fine version of “Free Fallin'” and I got to visit with Linda. Sunday Lowe’s delivered a washer to my Mom’s old house in Annandale that was now on the market. They gave me a delivery window so I cooled my heels at the beginning of it by having lunch in Annandale at The Block. Balo Kitchen was my choice – twice, once for lamb tacos, then again for loaded fries. Then I got the call and it turned out there was an open house at Mom’s and got to meet her agent. I got home with time to unload the trunk (renters had left stuff in the house) and make it to a very crowded Dulles where the family had landed (they’d also gone to the Asparagus Festival and seen concerts from Oshima Brothers and Samirah Evans & the Joe Belmont Experience).

Nina

Friday the 7th was concert #17: Rodrigo y Gabriela at Wolf Trap. We saw them there back in 2010, but Jill wasn’t interested that night, and I have to admit I went mostly because they’re covering Pink Floyd’s Echoes on the album and tour. But it was magnificent, and a glorious night for watching a show. Tuesday I voted for Laurie Dodd for Hunter Mill District Supervisor in the primary, but honestly anyone would be a better choice than Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker, busy trying to erode our First Amendment rights and bring unrelenting gridlock to Reston. Wednesday Nina’s class danced in the school talent show. That night I found this to be so true.

Nina

Wednesday the 12th Nina got her hair tinted for the 1st time while Thursday was her last day of school, and Friday Jill took her to the pool and Tacos & More with friends. Saturday we celebrated Father’s Day a day early at Taste of Reston and Ben & Jerry’s, then Jill was working Saturday night and sleeping Sunday so I took Nina to get toys at Walmart and 2nd & Charles, then we ended up at Crafthouse in Fairfax Corner for brunch.

Nina Kerry

The next was the start of camp season, first week at Emmaus Church. Thursday I got dinner from Mason’s Lobster (got to admire them having whoopie pie from LaBree’s Bakery) for concert #18: Trampled by Turtles with Deer Tick and Maggie Rose at Wolf Trap. Perfect weather, great sets. Could have used a little more Deer Tick. Row 7 was a great place to be – we weren’t that close for the next night’s show, concert #19: Ariana Grande with Normani at Capital One Arena. Nina’s first big pop star show, and undoubtedly not her last – she loved the whole thing (also loved Nando’s for dinner beforehand).

Jill Nina

Thursday the 27th was concert #20: Robbie Schaefer and Ines Nassara at Signature Theatre for a mostly covers show called Blowin’ in the Wind: Folk-Rock in America (plus some Robbie songs). Ines Nassara has a voice that was a mixture of Tracy Chapman and Dionne Warwick, and did an amazing version of “Baltimore”. My favorite surprise was a take on “Go Your Own Way”. Lopez Broadway Bootcamp was next on the camp agenda that week:

We both took the day off Friday to get ready (and a haircut), then picked Nina up from camp and started vacation by driving up to Rochester. Best thing about that day was a stop at Bullfrog Brewery with delicious beer infused food and a wheel of beer sampler. The next morning we took a walk with Mom and her dog Tati, then went to the Strong Museum of Play, which we visited for 5 hours and still didn’t get to everything (we stopped at the Bill Gray’s diner inside for lunch). Mom and David hosted us for dinner in the private dining room at Cloverwood Senior Living where they live (I had some tasty lamb chops and my first raw oysters).

Nina

Sunday we had breakfast at Char Broil Restaurant, then I had to go to Best Buy to get some equipment as I was upgrading Mom’s computer, then I went over to Record Archive, where you can sip a beer while you browse the vinyl and CDs. Later we took a cruise on the Erie Canal through a lock and back again, then stopped at the nearby Pittsford Farms Dairy for ice cream. We finally met David’s daughter and two of her sons when we all had dinner together that night at Hong Wah Chinese Restaurant.

Kerry Jill Nina

May

Thursday the 2nd I finally found an epic #TBT I’d been looking for. In 1991 I was in LA with my family on Spring Break, and we got tickets to the Tonight Show, hoping to get Johnny, but we got Jay. I remember the Pet Shop Boys covering U2, but I didn’t realize that one of them had walked off stage in the middle of the song, and I didn’t remember Jim Carrey being there until I saw the clip (and how awkward it was to watch what Shelley Winters was saying next to my mom). From Literaly (Pet Shop Boys Fan club magazine): “During the first song (“Where The Streets …”) Chris noticed -watching a monitor showing the broadcast -that he hadn’t appeared on camera once and, understandably miffed, walked off during the song. The people from the TV show refused to re-shoot the song and so the Pet Shop Boys refused to play their second song.”

Jim Carrey Jay Leno

Saturday Jill joined friends at the Maryland sheep and wool festival, while I took Nina to tumbling, then Free Comic Book Day at Comic Logic Books & Artwork where Nina marveled at the staff member dressed as Black Widow and peppered me with questions. She loved her Disney Descendants comic and couldn’t wait to read it, then we ate lunch at Frito Chicken. Sunday we had an ER visit after we thought Nina might be having a reaction to new medication (likely heartburn, thank goodness) then had dinner at Mod Pizza. Nina asked for Oreos for dessert as this was her jam of the moment. I continued exploring the 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer with #gameofbeers part 2. This week was King of the North, a barrel aged stout. Heavy, but decent. B

Nina

Monday I thought this is just all kinds of awesome. Maybe we’ll make a return sometime. Thursday the 9th was concert #12: Neil Gaiman at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. On a night where traffic was so bad Google had me go west around Leesburg, we still got some quick seafood for dinner at the Shuckin’ Shack and managed to make it to our seats 5 minutes late, when he hadn’t gone on yet. Plus he read “Chivalry” (first time I’ve heard him do it in 20 years) and answered my question in the first group of questions and answers.
Q: I’ve seen the first episode of Good Omens, [well done] and while I’ve seen people discuss its influences, I felt it owed a debt to the television adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Was that intentional?
A: Absolutely. The first three minutes, more or less, of Good Omens is an absolute hat tip to the late Douglas Adams and to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series. Tried to do it as if it was now. I loved Hitchhiker’s. When I was 25, 26 years old, I got to write The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy companion and worked with Douglas Adams. He was an inspiration and wonderful, ridiculously tall man. And so my brief to our wonderful graphics people was go wild, do what the Hitchhiker’s television show would have done for one of those early sequences where the voice of the book talks to you about something – if they could do it now, if they had our resources, if they had real computers rather than a very sweet man named Kevin Davis very slowly making it look like things were done with them. So yeah, absolutely intentional.

Jill

Saturday Dad and Patricia came over again for computer help – this time we had an early Mother’s Day brunch of french toast and bacon. Sunday was #gameofbeers part 3: Mother of Dragons, a smoked porter and kriek blend. Expected more smokiness, but a good mix to pair with grilled chicken and pasta that night (one of Jill’s favorites). B+

Nina

Thursday Jill’s car repairs cost more than her car so she got the Subaru Outback she’d been eyeing. Saturday the 18th was Nina’s tryouts for the new cheer year (some lovely new tastes at Old Ox while I waited), then by request I picked up Popeyes chicken for a neighbor’s pot luck party. We left Nina there so she could play with the kids after her babysitter arrived, then we went to concert #13: Eddie Izzard at Warner for his Wunderbar show, which ended with a very funny Lord of the Rings bit. Afterwards Jill and I had drinks at Proper 21 (and how could I say no to a drink called “Benny & The Jets” and made with rum & rhubarb?). Sunday we went to the Fine Arts festival then broke in the two seater inflatable kayak, then that evening was #gameofbeers part 4 and the series finale. Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. A sour blonde ale, kinda goes with my feelings. B

Eddie Izzard

Friday the 24th was Nina’s “graduation” from Tae Kwon Do as she’d been taking afterschool classes. She and I had dinner at Flippin’ Pizza before and I signed her up for some more classes. We also realized we weren’t as good friends with people as we thought we were when we were blindsided to see pictures of friends at a wedding that weekend we thought we would have been invited to. We did finish watching Good Omens as eBay is a wonderful place to find what you want. And yes, the show is as good as I had hoped.

Nina

Wednesday I saw this. If you’re a fan of the Dark Tower by Stephen King, there are some fascinating tidbits. Also from Warren Ellis’ weekly newsletter, 100% true for me:
“Also, a continuing personal rejection of Music As A Service. I purchase all my downloads. And if something for sale is offered for free on a streaming site, I try to track the thing down and buy it if I love it. (Hence I now own the Brian Eno “New Space Music” I put here a couple weeks back, thanks to EnoShop.) Sampling is fine. That’s what radio was/is for. I use YouTube and other services to sample things, and I think – I hope – it can help artists. But renting a music collection is bullshit and bad for everybody.
(As is, of course, acting as if music is free like air. That only works if you don’t let all the trees die.)
(But, I reiterate, personal. Not trying to make you feel bad for streaming here. This is just what works for me, and I am well aware of my personal privilege of having an amount of disposable income for music.)”

Nina

Friday the 31st what else would I do on a bachelor weekend but drop off the girls at Dulles (it was Jake’s graduation) at 6:30am so I could leave work by 3 to go to George Mason University and go to Fenwick Library for the first time since I was taking grad school classes there 25 years ago? I had an appointment at the Special Collections Research Center I made after seeing this article. I wanted to see if they had any of the articles I’d written for Expulsion then that I didn’t have. Unfortunately they didn’t have many of the papers I was missing. Then I stopped at Crazy Crab for some delicious seafood, loved how the gloves and the bib had me walking away unstained for once. Then it was time for concert #14: Sammy Hagar with Night Ranger at Wolf Trap. 4th time seeing Sammy (1 solo, 2 with VH), but 1st time seeing Night Ranger, and they were great. But Sammy (with Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham) just knocked it out of the park, especially on a cover of Rock And Roll (on John Bonham’s birthday no less).

April

Monday the 1st I was glad that finally there was a well done April Fool’s joke. Wednesday we took Nina to the Kennedy Center as Idina Menzel was headlining the Kennedy Center Gala. Unfortunately our plan to eat at the Kennedy Center was blown because the restaurants were closed for the gala. And the one restaurant close by ran out of food – I ordered pizza from &pizza a half mile away and it was ready when I got there. Concert #9 was still worth the trouble. Nina’s second Broadway related concert in a month, with songs from Frozen, Rent & Wicked, as well as stunning covers of “Dear Prudence”, “I Melt With You” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Kerry Nina Jill

Friday we again headed to Richmond for a cheer competition. A new hotel every time, this time the Four Points by Sheraton Richmond. Nina voted for sushi for dinner, so we ate at the nearby Hiro Sushi. They had a kid’s meal of Chicken & Vegetable Tempura, 4pcs California Roll, Edamame and Miso Soup – she tried everything but the Miso Soup (and bonus points for another girl of the same age there).

sushi

The next morning, after brunch at the hotel, I dropped them at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center then checked out of the hotel. It was the third time that season in Richmond, but the first time I had time to make it to a record store like Eric Kader and I used to do in college. This was pretty decent. Jill said “Nina’s team rounded out their season with a huge WIN! As always, so proud of these girls.”

Nina

I picked an Italian restaurant, Arianna’s, that was on the way out of town, and we got there first, ordered a cheese pizza and drinks to start, and waited. And waited. Then Jill reached out to the cheer moms, who were wondering where we were – because there was ANOTHER Arianna’s, closer to Richmond, but also closer to the Ashe Center. So we drained our drinks and packed our pizza to go, only to be told by the asshat manager of the Sheppard St location that we couldn’t bring in “outside food”. So we ordered again (and snuck Nina a slice of that pizza). Food was only ok.

Jill

The next day Dad and Patricia came over for computer help, but it was also his birthday so I made eggs benedict with steamed artichokes to also dip in the hollandaise sauce (an old family tradition). Tuesday Nina went to a STEAM night at school. Wednesday the 10th Jill said “Nina wanted to know if astronauts could sleep in a rocket ship. So now we know how they do, and we both want to experience something so cool!!”

Patricia Nina Bryce

Saturday April 13th was the start of Shanty Spring Break, as we’d decided to vacation with the Cannons since our spring break coincided for the first time ever. We decided to meet halfway and rented a house in the Poconos for a week. We stopped at Arbys for lunch because neither Nina or Jill had eaten there and they were curious (it was a win/win). We arrived at the house only minutes before the Cannons and the girls explored while Chris and I went grocery shopping at the nearby Wal Mart.

Nina P

Sunday we drove 2+ hours to Hersheypark because it was the only day it was open when we were up there. Nina was delighted to have someone with her in the back seat. The girls all had a fabulous time on the rides. After lunch they admired one guy with 2 giant bears he’d won, and he gave them the bears. We let them lug them around a while before explaining they wouldn’t fit in our cars and they’d have to give them away to other kids. We stopped at La Casita De Familia for some delicious authentic Mexican food. Unfortunately road construction and a storm made for a tough trip after that, although figuring out how to stream the first episode of Game of Thrones made up for that.

V Nina

Monday was continued yucky weather; Jess and Jill did some more shopping while Chris and I took the girls to a local playground during a break. But they’d brought their Nintendo Switch and an extra Kindle (we managed to leave Nina’s charging at home) so they were all pretty happy. Tuesday we walked over to the lake, then after lunch went to Pocono Rocks! so the girls could use the climbing wall, bounce houses, and ninja course. We also checked out Ye Old Village Trader next door. After we were done, we went across the street to the Casino Theatre & Village Malt Shoppe to get ice cream and watch a movie. Or at least that was the intention – after 15 minutes of Missing Link, Nina was done and we played games in the arcade until the movie was done.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday we went to the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Lodge. We started in the wave pool, then went on to the play structure and hot tub. Only the oldest girl was interested in the slides, but after we endured a long wait to get lunch (they’ve never heard of calling numbers, apparently), we took Nina up to ride the Venus Slydetrap (and waited out a closure when we were just about to ride it). After that, she was all in on the slides and more wave pool. Jess, Jill and I started watching Umbrella Academy.

Chris Jess P Nina Jill

Thursday I wanted to go to a CD store and Jill wanted to go to a yarn store, so we all drove to Wilkes-Barre to Gosh Yarn It!, then Chris and I went over to Gallery of Sound while they finished up and got some Italian ice. We traveled to Dickson City Laser Tag next where we all played an epic pirate themed game, then played games in their arcade. The girls had mostly played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but after they went to bed I was curious about Super Mario Odyssey and played into the wee hours.

C Kerry Nina P

Saturday the 19th it was time to leave, we cleaned up and packed up and got going. Jill said “I adopted a BFL sheep this year from Fluffy U Fiber Farm and got to pick up my fleece today! We met the sheep, goats, and sheepdogs and of course, their wonderful shepherd Katrina. It is a really gorgeous fleece! We drove down to Sweitzer’s Countryside Fiber Mill to drop it off in Heather’s capable hands and I will be seeing it again as pin drafted roving at Shenandoah Fiber Fest. I was so grateful to educate myself and my family about the local fiber industry here!” And due to road closures went the last mile to the fiber mill down a narrow gravel road in the rain, it felt very unsafe. The traffic everywhere was terrible and we took back roads and ended up at Maggie’s in Westminster for a late lunch of soup and sandwiches, then by the time we got to the Beltway the traffic was pretty good. That night a tornado touched down just 4 miles north of us. Sunday was Easter and Jill said Nina had a “prep curl selfie! N insisted”. I made a pecan crusted pork loin for dinner.

Nina

Monday the 22nd after a lousy start with a visit to urgent care for a tetanus shot after getting the deck boat ready for disposal, I went to Concert #10: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at Constitution Hall. I don’t love all the old Pink Floyd, but I do love Meddle, and “Fearless” live was wonderful. Of course “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and “One Of These Days” were great as well. In a nice flashback, there was even a guy selling bootleg t-shirts after the show (can’t remember last time that happened). Tuesday Nina’s cheer gym had rebranded to Stingray Allstars and they were letting all the old trophies and awards go so as Jill said “The Delta Sportmanship trophy has a new home now… from N’s first team last year”.

Nina

Wednesday was Concert #11: Alan Cumming at Strathmore. Very funny, plus some great covers including P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go”. Jill said “We saw Alan Cumming tonight on his Legal Immigrant show tour -absolutely incredible! I had a goofy smile on my face pretty much the whole time he was onstage. One of my favorite evenings out, for sure.”

Alan Cumming

Friday was Nina’s spring school picture. Saturday the 27th Nina went to a birthday party in Warrenton and I was pretty happy when I found out that Old Bust Head was nearby. I brought a growler and enjoyed some loaded Garlic Tots from Two Smooth Dudes. Later, this was relevant to my interests; also, I love this gif they made.

hall of fame

Sunday Jill’s sisters were here for Maddie’s birthday and we went to Cheesecake Factory for brunch (Jill and them had gone to Georgetown on Saturday). Later I went to the GameStop in the other mall to get a working nunchuck and I wanted to finish Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. That night it was time for #gameofbeers. Jill bought me a 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer for Christmas and with 4 episodes left it was time. 1st up was Hand of the Queen barleywine. Don’t drink too many, but smooth with a nice 10.7% ABV to get you through a 90 minute episode. B

Old Bust Head

March

On Saturday the 2nd we drove up to Whitetail for an afternoon of skiing. Or to be more accurate I skied, Nina went to ski school, and Jill knit. It was our first time in two years, so I didn’t last too long on my first pass, and Nina didn’t remember much from her week in school last time. But we had fun, and stopped at Popeyes and Sonic for dinner before driving home.

Kerry Nina

Tuesday I ate dinner at Pi before heading over to Capital One Arena for concert #5: Fleetwood Mac. I will argue with anyone that Lindsey Buckingham is the all time MVP of the Mac (when Christine McVie isn’t there, they skip her songs; when he isn’t there they hire a guitarist AND singer to replace him). But I was intensely curious to see what would happen as they’d brought on world class replacements this time: Neil Finn (of Crowded House) and Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). I’d waited until the last minute to score a ticket and got a floor ticket 3 hours before the show for $100, and got in with minutes to spare.

Nina

It was a hits filled show, kicking off with “The Chain”. Neil had good strong vocals and Mike ably performed the solo (without Lindsey’s finger plucking style). “Little Lies” was back in the lineup (as it had been since Christine McVie returned in 2014), then “Dreams”, “Second Hand News”, and “Say You Love Me”. Next was the first time for me hearing “Black Magic Woman” performed by the Mac – with Stevie on lead vocals and Mike tearing it up on guitar it sounded great (ironically one of the reasons Lindsey wasn’t there was he’d wanted to do more deep cuts). “Everywhere” and “Rhiannon” followed, and then the evening’s only embarrassment: “World Turning” and Mick Fleetwood’s way too long drum solo. The mandatory “Gypsy” was next, and then another throwback: “Oh Well” with Mike taking a turn on vocals (the last time I heard him play that song was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show in 2006, which also featured Stevie).

Fleetwood Mac

One of the highlights was Neil starting solo on “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and Stevie joining in halfway through, and “Landslide” had a different vibe with Neil on guitar. Straight hits all the way through to end the set (“Hold Me“, “Monday Morning“ “You Make Loving Fun“ “Gold Dust Woman“ and “Go Your Own Way”), then the encore started with a moving tribute to Tom Petty with “Free Fallin’” (and a slideshow on the video screens of Tom, Stevie and Mike), followed by “Don’t Stop” and the left field finale of “All Over Again” (from Time [1995] – I was curious if “Freedom”, from Behind the Mask [1990], the only Mac cowrite by Stevie and Mike, would make it on the setlist but no).

Nina

Sunday the 10th was concert #6: Laura Benanti at the Barns At Wolf Trap. A Saturday matinee was a good opportunity to introduce Nina to the other venue at Wolf Trap, plus she got a taste of Broadway and an outstanding Tori Amos cover. My first time sitting in the balcony too. Thursday Jill said “we live on a popular walking path and someone left this in our front yard at the crux of the tree roots as they passed. Made me smile. Sooo…someone else noticed it, picked it up and turns out it’s a pretty rad thing!” Friday Nina had a wacky school day.

Nina

Saturday the 16th we went down to the Hirshhorn and saw the Pulse exhibit, then saw concert #7 as Baba Ras D performed as part of their Maker Mornings. It reminded me of the Wolf Trap Artsplay classes I used to take Nina to. We also had a cold picnic lunch next to the food trucks outside, then walked over to the National Museum of American History where Nina liked the activities in the Spark!Lab and seeing Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers (she used her money to buy Toto in a picnic basket).

Nina

Thursday I laughed and laughed to see them dealing what we have to deal with every day. Also, this is relevant to my interests. Friday the 22nd we endured some crazy weather (including coating the road sleet) to get to the Wingate by Wyndham Atlantic City West just outside Atlantic City (because all the reviews of hotels in Atlantic City proper were terrible). We got dinner at Tacos El Tio, a cute Mexican place nearby with possibly the best veggie side ever (sautéed zucchini, bell peppers, onions,& asparagus with a little chipotle).

Nina

The next day I thought Monopoly was all made up, but here we were in Atlantic City and I had just turned from Indiana onto Baltic. It was a decent day enlivened for me with a walk over to the White House Sub Shop for some oversized subs for Jill and I. Jill said “We had a whirlwind trip to Atlantic City where the Diamonds hit a no deduction routine once again!! 2nd place in the biggest competition of the season -Diamonds shining bright in the city! We had to stop at an Italian bakery on our way home for some celebratory treats”.

Jill Nina

Sunday this was the result “…when you have a daughter who wants to practice her make up skills and you realize it’s only fair… not bad for a 7 year old, eh?”

Jill Nina

Monday the 35th I didn’t know why this exists, but Elton John shows up halfway through like the Wizard of Oz and I wasn’t expecting that. Tuesday I grabbed a quick sandwich at Wawa because I was late leaving for concert #8: Experience Hendrix at the Warner Theatre (got there with 5 minutes to spare). I last saw the tribute show in 2007, and it had to be an amazing lineup to drag me out on a night Jill was working. So they got Dave Mustaine (from Megadeth) and Joe Satriani, and I was in. Great show, hadn’t seen Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson or Jonny Lang before. The first 2/3 of the show was fun with everyone swapping in and out, including Taj Mahal and Hendrix’s own Billy Cox on bass. But the highlight for me was the end where Joe Satriani came out with Doug Pinnick (from King’s X) & Kenny Aronoff – they had obviously rehearsed a lot together and blew everyone away. Thursday Jill chaperoned Nina’s trip to the American Indian Museum (and got thank you cards from the kids afterwards) while Saturday she finished an epic sweater.

Jill

February

Saturday the 2nd it was time for Jill to head out solo for once, this time to see My Favorite Murder. Jill said she was “getting my sock ready to #SSDGM tonight at DAR constitution hall with 2 of my favorites, Karen and Georgia! I’m going with my friend from work since Kerry is absolutely fine with GTFO”. Sunday Nina took pictures for cheer. Tuesday this was a hard read about white privilege, but useful to learn. And here’s her website.

Nina

Friday we headed down to Richmond for the second time. The usual Friday traffic had us diverting to 29 and 17 and arriving after dark to the Graduate Richmond. We went out to eat dinner at nearby Tarrant’s Cafe where we found a number of Nina’s cheer team already there. The food was good, and you gotta love a cocktail with a name like “Pearing Us Apart”. Everyone had dessert delivered from Insomnia Cookies in the form of “Wiches” (ice cream sandwiched between two cookies) that were delish. The next morning we had an early start and got Nina to the Richmond Convention Center for the first time (the last time we were in Richmond the competition had been canceled because of snow). Jill and I walked over to Pop’s Market on Grace for bagels. Jill said “Another fantastic performance from the Diamonds today! We were proud to get 2nd place with some stiff competition! Great sportsmanship and flawless routine!”. Afterwards we had lunch at a Bojangles off 95, then another bad traffic afternoon on the way home.

Nina

Wednesday the 13th I saw that my favorite book finally comes to the screen May 31. Thursday was Valentine’s Day and Jill and I took advantage of a daytime meeting to have an early Valentine’s Day lunch at Ornery Beer. Saturday the 16th we were up early to do Nina’s makeup at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Maryland before heading to the nearby Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. It’s very near Dad’s house, so he and Patricia were able to join us. Now we were more than halfway through the season with 4 competitions done, 3 times first in their division. Jill said “First place out of 7 teams and awarded a Best Jumps trophy! Our Diamonds shining bright today! Another fantastic performance!”. It was also nice not to have to leave the DC area on a Friday afternoon for once.

Kerry Patricia Nina Bryce

Wednesday the 20th school was closed for a snow day. For a while Nina had been asking after creating custom Lego Descendants figures based on a video from ellieV toys, and I’d slowly been acquiring pieces of figures to match, but some of the colors weren’t exact and she wanted to paint them as well. So a day at home was a perfect opportunity to break out the paints. It was amazing how much painting Lego figures is like painting Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, lots of flashbacks.

Nina

Friday Nina went to open gym and Jill said she “was thrilled to fill in as a flyer to help practice stunting with the big girls tonight at open gym!” Sunday Nina was out for a second time selling Girl Scout cookies outside Safeway. Tuesday the 26th I saw this and thought that now I want to watch all the movies again before Episode IX. Thursday I was glad Momo was a hoax. I wasn’t looking forward to watching all her YouTube videos with her.

Nina