Looking glass


Wednesday the 1st was quite nice, so we all went out and used the swings in the afternoon. Saturday there was no better wake up than a toddler deciding to turn a quick dog pee into a 10 minute mitten free snow playtime, then we took her to a birthday party for her classmate Abby which was a huge hit (especially the Minnie Mouse ears for all guests). Sunday we introduced Nina to fondue. She wasn’t a huge fan of either the cheese or chocolate, but she enjoyed the variety of food for both. Also, Nina and I had been working on air guitar for several weeks (using a broom and a Swiffer). That night I took it up a notch, introducing her to both AC/DC and the kick.

Nina Jill

Monday the 6th a freezer fire at Safeway stopped Nina and I from fried chicken Monday yet again. We drowned our sorrows in hot dogs and French fries (#firstworldproblems). Tuesday started with an epic meltdown in the car because part of the car seat looked like Nina’s missing Minnie Mouse ears, compounded by being too cold to stay outside, and topped off by failure to find something good to eat. Peanut butter crackers helped calm things down. Later, I thought I smelled poop, and it wasn’t Nina, it was Illa due to a power failure. And when I got back to Nina, it was her. Sigh. It was funny when I scolded Illa with “Illa Frey”, she responded “Daddy Frey”! We were very thankful that week that Nina had aftercare at school, because her school followed the county schools for closing, but still had all day “snow camp” if the county government was open (and it was).

Illa Nina

I thought I could stay up late working on a project on Thursday the 9th. Finished around 2AM, got to bed by 2:30, but I’d get a little sleep. 3AM: “Daddy, daddy!” And she’s got a fever and is sick. At 4:30 Jill took her into her room to rock her since she wouldn’t sleep in our bed, and finally got her to sleep, and we all slept until 9AM. Strep meant Jill stayed home on a freezing, rainy day – lots of snuggles and Caillou playing on a never-ending loop. Later the appetite had not returned, but the attitude had. Saturday I had to tell the universe message received. In addition to a bruised toe, achy knees, and sore shoulders, I had a jammed pinky (nearly the full finger was blue). Operation: Do Nothing Saturday was in full effect. Not much happened Sunday, either, but I watched all four playoff games and the Golden Globes.


Friday the 17th it was a very late night for the little miss, who was still under the weather and very clingy. Saved me from finishing organizing my paperwork that night, though. Saturday started with a haircut for me and Nina, a new music class at Bach to Rock and lunch at The Weiner’s Circle, and ended with Nina finishing her second movie, Monsters Inc. Sunday I got the afternoon off to go see The Hobbit, do some tech support on Mom’s PC, and stop by Trader Joe’s and Bon Chon on the way home (Jill and Nina went out for a pizza lunch). It was a Cumberbatch/Freeman sandwich day for me, as we watched Sherlock in the evening as well. Monday I had off and Jill didn’t, so I had Nina all day. Kidz Plaza in the morning wore her out good, though at one point I was trapped in the bathroom with a toddler who didn’t want to pee or leave for a good 20 minutes.


Tuesday the 21st I got to work a half day until Nina’s school closed, then she had her first homemade chicken soup (thanks to a friend) and first cocoa (she was a little more focused on the marshmallows). Little miss “I don’t want to nap” was out in 5 minutes, too. Later Nina was putting her hand inside a plastic bag and pretending to pick up dog poop. I might have a new chore for her. I finally sat down for the first time that day with nothing to do at midnight – too bad it was bedtime. Saturday the 25th we tried Mellow Mushroom after music class – delicious pizza, but afterwards epic meltdown time. Sunday I decided I would back a Kickstarter to get a season full of just drunk Sherlock next time. And I would also pay to get them on the same day as the UK, rather than plopped down in NFL/Grammys crazy busy Sundays.

Nina Kerry

Monday the 27th Jill’s company took over L’Auberge Chez Francois again, and we got to talk to Jacques. Fabulous food, and nice to chat with Robbie and Tandy for a while. Wednesday Nina made me ride on the hood of her car and I felt like Whitesnake should be playing. Thursday we took a little vacation up to Split Rock Resort in the Poconos. We had a big, late lunch at Red Robin on the way up and just cheese and apples for dinner that night. Friday Nina tried her first big sledding hill, skiing for me at Big Boulder while she napped (1st time in 2 years), her first jacuzzi tub (she loved it) and sauna for me, then bedtime and beer – that’s a nice vacation. Our friends the Chambers joined us that night, their daughter and Nina finished watching Cinderella together.

Kerry Jill


The first weekend in December we finished decorating the house and Sunday had our 4th night of eating turkey (mixing it up with soup, sandwiches and enchiladas). If only the Skins could give me the same level of adrenaline rush as The Walking Dead (RIP the ones that aren’t with us).


Jill and I still haven’t been to minibar, but Wednesday the 4th we went to little brother barmini in DC for excellent snacks (banh mi burger) and fabulous cocktails (Pumpkin Flip and a Manhattan made with cotton candy). Then over to Verizon for the twin guitar attack meets Tchaikovsky that is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Fun night but left before the end – the maids were coming the next day ahead of our party (and Jill and Nina ended up back in DC for lunch with a friend of Jill’s).


Friday the 6th I got takeout from Moe’s and decided there is no more sharing dip with Nina. She failed to grasp the concept of not double dipping, and there was queso everywhere. Saturday we had only 11 guests for our party, but it was nice to be able to actually spend time with everyone – and Nina loved spending time with her favorite twins. Plus cleanup was much quicker. Also, Speedway Stout is amaze balls when aged 2 years (so smooth). Sunday we had a lovely brunch today with the Norwoods. The girls and Nina played inside, we ate, then we all went out to play in the snow. We even made a tiny snowman. That afternoon, I found out that nothing shows how bad your team is like playing a really good one. And both teams putting in their 2nd string QBs shows how they knew the game was over.


Monday the 9th it only took an hour to clear off my car and a path through the ice this morning. Roads were fine, and I’m very thankful Nina’s school runs a “snow camp”. That evening, I had things I never expected to happen #367: having an argument with my toddler about who owns the bottle cap I just removed from my beer (and she won). No Fairfax County government closing the next day, so more snow camp for Nina. Thursday the 12th Nina went to school and Jill got a day off, finally seeing A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Thanks to early dismissal for her school’s winter break, I had Nina most of the day on Friday the 13th. Achievements unlocked: 3 hour nap, and a poop in the potty (first for me with her). Plus I guess she likes school – there 4 days this week, and when we went out after dinner, she made a beeline for it.


Nina’s first show was Sesame Street Live Saturday the 14th at the Patriot Center. It was a huge hit, she danced most of the time, and she ate nearly half of a giant tub of popcorn. That night we had a rare non-concert night out thanks to two grandmothers, which meant delicious dinner at locavore restaurant Tavern 64, then Hunger Games 2 (great adaption) at the Alamo Drafthouse (good beer selection, and you can’t beat the rules).


Wednesday the 18th we again had two grandmothers with us as we went to ZooLights at the National Zoo. It was fun but exhausting. 2 year olds be out of control (especially when they’re running around without mittens and their hands get so cold it’s painful when they warm back up).
The next day, Nina, Jill and her mom visited Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

Grandmere Nina

The weekend of the 21st and its liquid diet weren’t fun (also known as the 2 days swallowing was like gargling sandpaper), but I thought I was starting to feel normal on Monday (it would actually take another week, think it was tonsillitis). Christmas shopping was still done, although seeing The Hobbit turned out to be a pipe dream (see what I did there). Jill’s mom stayed until Monday morning so we could go out on Sunday night for Todd Wright’s annual “Santa Clauster-f@%!” Christmas song extravaganza (I missed the food, but consoled myself with a Cold Stone shake).

Jill Nina Kerry

My sister and her husband stayed with us Monday-Thursday of Christmas week. Christmas Eve we all went to church and Nina wore her Piglet costume again so she could participate in the children’s Nativity reenactment. On Christmas we had a long, exhausting day filled with lots of food, family, and a failure of toilet training. But a nightcap of eggnog and Doctor Who made things better.

Nina Jill

Friday the 27th Nina was a meat fan, asked for sausage, hot dogs, and bacon and got 2 of the 3, eating 5 sausage links and 2 pieces of bacon. We also seemed to be back on track on potty training, after two lost days that included ending up in just a towel at my mom’s house on Christmas. Saturday Jill’s dad and his wife visited, and I was actually feeling good enough to enjoy our lunch out at Jackson’s and the Flippin’ Pizza takeout for a late dinner after seeing the lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The last Skins game was horrible – I’m not opposed to Mike Shanahan being fired. But I definitely think Kyle should be let go. A pass play on 3rd and 2? And then running the exact same play on 4th and 2? Aargh. We had another low key New Year’s Eve – Jill worked and we had a late dinner and watched TV until it was almost midnight.

Sharon Nina Tom

Artists To Watch 2014

This year my music buying was mostly online, free tracks from NoiseTrade, Google Play, and Amazon as well as preordering mp3s and CDs from Kickstarter and PledgeMusic. The first song is special to me, though, as it’s the first song I’ve commissioned.

Band Song Why them
01. Nate Borofsky
Two great CDs from the former Girlyman singer this year.
02. Badger Whatever Happened 2 Us? Extreme’s bassist steps out on his own with help from Bleu.
03. emmet swimming Heading South Two local groups, both of whom I’ve seen more than any other bands…
04. The Excentrics Same Diane both put out new CDs this year for the first time in 15 years.
05. Carbon Leaf The Donnybrook Affair Another local group, this one with 2 CDs released this year – this track is more traditional.
06. Brindley The Laughter Song And even more impressive, the Jammin’ Java owner put out a song a week this year.
07. Foy Vance Closed Hand, Full Of Friends Speaking of Jammin’ Java, this Irish singer played to a packed house there in November.
08. Jules Larson Best Is Yet To Come I found her from her EP with Adrianne Gonzalez, but this song was my favorite of hers.
09. Born Cages Don’t Look Back Excellent poppy mess.
10. Hey Ocean! Big Blue Wave Why does a Canadian group sound like they’re from Southern California? Who cares!
11. Bastille Pompeii Chanting + pop = genius.
12. Minor Alps I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands Minor key goodness from Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf).
13. Vegas With Randolph Salt Water Taffy Local power-poppers.
14. South Rail Everybody Knows It Local Americana, sweet blended voices.
15. Blue Sky Riders Dream It’s not a surprise Kenny Loggins can write a good song, just that he’s started a new group at this point.
16. Joy Kills Sorrow Was It You If you’re missing your Crooked Still fix.
17. The Hunts Make This Leap A family band that was a surprise hit at the Herndon Festival.
18. Poor Old Shine Ghosts Next Door A nice Falcon Ridge find.
19. Amy Speace The Sea And The Shore (with John Fullbright) A great idea for a song, elegantly rendered.
20. pomDeter Call Me A Hole And as a palate cleanser, enjoy my favorite mashup.

Leftovers (in no particular order):
The Civil Wars – The One That Got Away
Mikal Cronin – Weight
Caitlin Rose – Only A Clown
The CO – Frequency
Matt Costa – Good Times
Josh Rouse – Julie (Come Out of The Rain)
Over The Rhine – Meet Me At The Edge Of The World
Laura Cortese – Into The Dark
Wild Feathers – The Ceiling
The Deadly Gentlemen – Bored of the Raging
Raina Rose – Swing Wide The Gate
Katie Herzig – Little Bit Of Love
Corin Ashley – Badfinger Bridge
Eleanor Friedberger – Stare At The Sun
Aoife O’Donovan – Red & White & Blue & Gold
Lily & Madeleine – Tired
Deerhunter – Back to the Middle
Rosi Golan – If You Stay
Sarah Miles – Stand Up
The Head and the Heart – Shake
Django Jones – Counterpoint
Melissa Christopher Green – Blue
Foxygen – No Destruction
Liz Longley – This Is Not The End
Matt Pond – Love to Get Used
Phosphorescent – Ride On / Right On
Ed Roland & the Sweet Tea Project – Love Won’t Bring Us Down
Ruut – Glimpse
Smallpools – Dreaming
Sons of Fathers – Roots & Vine
Wooly & the Mammoth – We Are Love
The Boxcar Lilies – Lightnin’


Why yes, that was my daughter doing laps around the Noodles & Co. in Reston on Friday the 1st. And then we went home because she was offered the choice of sitting and eating or leaving. At least later we played naptime, which frankly is the best game ever. Saturday morning I took Nina to Reston’s Flea Market by kids for kids where we scored all sort of finds (big faves were the doll with attached soother and kitchen playset), then we picked up Jill and Nina had a blast at a classmate’s birthday party at JW Tumbles. I ducked out during naptime for an Excentrics concert (and I had a blast), then took Nina on a playground tour before we all devoured mac and cheese for dinner. After Nina went to bed we tackled our ever growing DVR (Haven that evening). The next day I was sitting next to my dad in the sun at Fedex Field with a Ben’s half smoke in one hand and a beer in the other. The Skins game was fun, and I was so hot, I got a shake.


Monday the 4th Nina had three firsts. Shut the door to her room as we headed downstairs (won’t be the last time), put her mittens on herself outside, and ate the most candy ever (1/3 of a Reese’s peanut butter cup). Tuesday I worked and went to Nina’s parent teacher conference with lead teacher Jenny while Mom watched Nina during the day, then Jill came home early so I could appeal a decision by the Reston Design Review Board (we wanted to upgrade the waterfront, and they approved that, but wouldn’t let us remove one of the trees). We won the appeal and celebrated by getting Thai takeout at Hibiscus Thai. Thursday Nina spent 15 minutes counting the beer bottles in a 12 pack – she just likes doing it again and again and again.


Friday the 8th’s dinner was courtesy of Red, Hot and Blue. Ribs, fries and cocktail sauce were hits, greens, salad and shrimp were OK, Mac and cheese was ignored, and hush puppies were the yuck. Also, a second meal of cereal was a disaster, because she kept throwing food on the floor, and then I’d take her food away. Table side guacamole is hot in restaurants, but Saturday morning we came up with the next big thing: table side cinnamon sugar toast. Later Nina got her first real band-aid after running around after lunch and scraping her knee. She’s a trouper though, cleaned up without a hitch. That night’s entertainment was provided by Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance.

Nina Jill

Sunday I spent a while in the kitchen to make a marinade and grill pork, cook beans and potato wedges, and make an apple pie from scratch. Mostly because I wanted to pair the pie with a caramel apple spiced beer (I did, and it was delicious). Also, we finished watching Nina’s first movie, Finding Nemo (someone’s got a 30 minute attention span). Monday I had the day off so naturally I choose the most exciting option – getting my oil changed. I also stopped by CD Cellar and had a tasty burger from Red Apron. That night Nina had me take down the picture of Jill and I from a cruise, then put it in front of her at the dinner table, then kissed Jill’s picture. And then she poured her own juice.


Saturday the 16th I took Nina to the Reston Community Center to write a letter to Santa. To be more accurate, she decorated a piece of paper with lots of stickers and stamps, but she had fun. Later we had a lovely night out with the Jewells, dinner at Buffalo Wing Factory and 2 versions of Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring, also at the Reston Community Center. Sunday I spent a fun hour in a line of cars at the recycling station, listening to a horrible football game on the radio. At least I had my phone, and now I own no Windows 98 machines. Monday I opened a package, and there’s lots of crumpled paper inside. Nina grabs the paper and takes it all out. I ask her what she’s going to put in the now empty box. “Paper!”, she yells and proceeds to stuff it all back in.


Saturday the 23rd we went over to Lyon Park as CHAAMP was holding their annual fall bake sale fundraiser. Dogs were forgotten as soon as Nina saw the playground, and a team of leafblowers was almost as fascinating. We had lunch at Big Buns in Ballston, delicious burgers and dogs. I had bought tickets for Nina and I to go see Gustafer Yellowgold, but it was at 3PM (middle of naptime). We tried to get her to nap in the car on the way home, but no luck, so we just let her sleep. I wasn’t too upset about raking leaves instead, because the next day was blustery and below freezing. Once Nina was in bed, first priority was the 50th anniversary Dr. Who special. Absolutely brilliant, Moffat nailed it. Sunday Nina used the potty at home for the first time.

Nina Kerry

Tuesday the 26th I was determined not to go to bed at 2AM again. So I went to bed at 2:30AM instead. At least the basement was ready for the 3 day potty training to begin. The next night it was an early bedtime of 1:30AM. But prep work for Thanksgiving was done – I only used up 3 sticks of butter. My mom came over for Thanksgiving lunch and it was fun (and we had apple, pecan and pumpkin pies, all eggless), but it was a long and exhausting cycle of cooking, cleaning, and cranky toddler. Friday Nina was resisting using the bathroom, and we realized that the 3 day potty training was conflicting what they were using at school, so decided to drop it and go with what she had been doing (scheduled trips), to better results. “Dada stop” is now “Daddy stop it” in response to my singing. The day itself wasn’t very “black” – I had a very local day. I went out 3 times, once for a walk with the family, another to get guacamole fixings and buy a Christmas tree from a Herndon family we’ve been going to for years, and finally to Jammin’ Java to see The Excentrics reunion (and catch up with Linda). And the only thing I bought online was 2 CDs from Luke Brindley (BF sale), another local musician. We spent the rest of the weekend cleaning and decorating the house.



Thursday the 3rd we had dinner at the bar at Pork Barrel BBQ, then a very funny night of puns, Jabba the Hutt impressions, and a 30 minute long song about pirates with Paul and Storm & Wil Wheaton. The next day Nina’s outfit choice for the evening was a 9:30 T-shirt, monkey pajama bottoms, and pink boots, and she proceeded to climb the ladder at the playground, grab the first rung of the monkey bars, then swing back to the ladder. And I won’t discuss how she got to the bouncy. Saturday Nina was exhausted after a morning where she danced her feet off at Robbie Schaefer, then bounced around at Fall For Fairfax ’til she got hot, and we had hot dogs from Top Dog.


Wednesday the 9th I had to add to the list of things I’ve said to my daughter: “Get your toes out of your oatmeal!”. Thursday I took Illa to the vet, and it took 30 seconds from his arrival to an impressive pool of pee. And then then nurse asked if we had a fecal sample. I told her no, but 30 seconds later guess what! Friday Nina didn’t want to leave daycare early and had a meltdown as we walked home in the rain, but recovered enough to splash in the puddles and eat her mac and cheese from Noodles & Co. Later it was toddler dance party time (her favorite jam is now Jason Mraz’s “Outdoors”) and we both wore sweatpants and matching Roger Waters t-shirts.


Saturday the 12th it was vacation time again, packed up the car and headed north. We made our usual stop in Edison NJ for Sonic, and found a very nice playground nearby at Lincoln Elementary School for Nina to run around at. It was dark by the time we got to Holyoke, but Nina was thrilled to see her Nana and Pop-Pop. The next day Nina went to visit her cousins while Jill and I drove down to Stamford to catch a MTA train to NYC. My early birthday gift from Jill was Matilda and a dinner, so we started with a matinee (very well done), then an early dinner at Hakkasan New York – I don’t know if they have the best dim sum in NYC, but they certainly have the best dim sum I’ve had in NYC.


Monday was Columbus Day. We took Nina to Community Field in the morning and had hot dogs from Nick’s Nest for lunch. That afternoon the Bradys were hosting a house party. They’d rented a bouncy slide, and it was near impossible to get Nina to do anything else (the live band with Melissa’s dad on drums was a close second, though). Tuesday I did something even crazier than going to NYC – I flew to Baltimore for a musical. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see Brian May play “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Queen’s musical We Will Rock You was playing at The Hippodrome Theatre, and it was the start of their US tour. Brian always plays opening night, and I wasn’t going to miss it (even though it meant a longer travel time than usual for Baltimore on a weekday).


Sue dropped me at the airport and the plane was massively delayed (Southwest of course, and I got a package deal on the hotel), but I arrived in midafternoon, enough time to check in and relax before getting a ride in the hotel shuttle over to the BWI light rail stop. I ate again at Alewife (short rib platter this time, but had to get the duck fat fries again) before heading over to the theater early to try and sell my extra ticket. No luck, but got a wave from Brian as I stood next to the failed autograph seekers. I gave the biggest tip to a bartender ever at Alewife (couldn’t sell the ticket) and headed in. The musical was better than the last time we saw it (10 years earlier in London) with lots of current music references that make the show even more relevant. And the end was perfect and worth the trip (it occurs to me I’ve now seen Brian May 5 times, and each time he’s played “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Never gets old).


I flew back the next morning and Jill and Nina picked me up (we stopped at Table & Vine on the way back). That night Jill’s sisters came over for dinner and tomfoolery. Thursday the 17th we went to the nearby reservoir with Sue for a walk and pictures before packing the car and heading over to Woodstock. We rented Moonrise Mountain House with the Cannons for three nights, and they soon arrived. The four girls had a blast playing, and we had a quick dinner of chicken nuggets. The next day we went into Saugerties (almost 20 years since I was there last for Woodstock ’94) to the Lions Club Playground, then stopped at Catskill Mountain Pizza Company for lunch. Jill and Jess had a dinner meetup with fellow spinners, so Chris and I grilled steak and hot dogs for dinner.


Saturday the 19th was the start of Rhinebeck (I called it Comic-Con for yarn geeks). Jill and Jess got in line for some “con exclusives”, and I took Nina to see sheep and llamas. There was a number of kids activities she liked too, especially the balloon man. The little girls napped in the afternoon while the big girls watched a movie, then they had pizza for dinner. Jill’s mom came to visit us and babysit, so the adults went out to dinner at Peekamoose. Great meal (I had the chicken and everyone else had steak), weirdest thing was all of us had different cell carriers and no one had service (Jill borrowed the restaurant’s phone to call her mom and let her know). Sunday it was back to Rhinebeck for a couple hours before driving home (and we took the next day off).

Cannon girls and Nina

Saturday the 26th Nina’s school had a Halloween party, so she got dressed in her costume (as Piglet) and we went over. Much fun: food, games, a fire engine, and mayhem at the playground. The next night my parents brought over takeout from Generous George’s to celebrate my birthday. We were supposed to meet them there, but Nina was under the weather and it took 30 minutes just to coax her out of bed. Wednesday the 30th I had thought Don Henley had a tough job, but then I watched Nellie McKay sing and play marimba while wearing heels. Not so impressed with Don anymore. Halloween night I thought I’d take Nina out for her first trick or treating for about 20 minutes. She didn’t mind the light rain, and I had to drag her back home after an hour. Not a big fan of any of the candy she tried, though. And Jill only got two kids at the door while we were gone.



We celebrated Nina’s birthday a day early on Sunday at Lake Fairfax. My dad, mom and sister came, as well as Jill’s mom and a number of kids and their families that Nina is friends with. We grilled dogs and brats, and the kids had a blast running around, blowing bubbles, and riding on the carousel. Later, while Nina napped, I took Dad and his girlfriend Patricia and my sister and her husband out for a cruise around the lake, which was a little more trouble than planned when the motor died. After Nina got up, we opened her gifts (she loved her trike, but she’s a ways away from reaching the pedals).

Nina and Nancy

On Labor Day, Jill and her mom took Nina to Glen Echo Park. Later Jill and I had a late dinner at Nikko Sushi & Hibachi (surf and turf with sushi and steak was quite good), then the next day I was a zombie dad chasing Nina around and producing a truly amazing amount of screaming. Wednesday the 4th was Nina’s first day of school, on a gradual transition schedule that started at one hour the first day. But she had fun, and later had some firsts: walking in the lake, clapping rhythmically to a live version of Girlyman’s “Through To Sunrise”, and adding a vocal solo to “On The Air” from the same show.


Friday the 6th I instituted a new tradition of daddy daughter date night (as Jill was now working until 11). We started at her favorite Vienna playground, then mac and cheese at Noodles & Co (also the first time I’ve taken her out to eat solo) and finally toddler dance party at Jammin’ Java with the folkgrass sound of Joy Kills Sorrow (and thanks Cover Lay Down for finding them).


Saturday morning’s musical journey started when Nina said something that sounded like “Iko Iko”, so I played some of the first Dead show I found with one. Then we listened to The Decemberists cover Pink Floyd, but that’s another story. That night Jill and I saw Tig Notaro at the Reston Community Center. She’s wickedly funny, but never raise your hand to speak. My mom had babysit Nina, and the next day I returned the favor by being tech support on her computer. On the way back I picked up some Bon Chon chicken for takeout (still delicious) and saw the surest sign of hipster cred: a Zipcar parked outside.


The next weekend we went out two nights in a row to fundraising concerts. Nina had no nap on Saturday the 14th (she fell asleep briefly in the car on the way back from Mom’s work picnic), so it was an early bedtime for the babysitter (daughter of a neighbor) that night. We joined the Jewells to watch Eddie From Ohio do a benefit for One Voice at The Hamilton (great show, and we did VIP to see the soundcheck too). Nina had a cold on Sunday, so was a little rougher, but Mom came over to watch her so we knew she’d be ok. That night was a benefit for Americans United and we did VIP again as that included dinner with Dar Williams before her house concert. The only bad part was I’d hit my toe so hard on Nina’s potty trainer the night before I thought I broke it, so I was limping around that night. The X-ray the next morning was negative though, but Nina had one more trick, wouldn’t go to bed until 10:55 that night.

Us and Dar

Those shows helped make a Falcon Ridge fall reunion week, as then Friday the 20th we had the Jewells and Lorna and Dave over for steak and wine before heading over to the Reston Community Center to see We’re About 9 and Red Molly (hard to believe it was their first time playing together). The next morning Nina slept until 9:15 (!!! – must be genetic), then I took her to Cox Farms. It’s like an amusement park for the 10 and under set, so naturally Nina had a blast. Later I went out in the rain and rocked out with some Avett siblings, took a detour into debauchery with the twerkmaster, saw a DJ in the woods, and ended the weekend with vampires (in other words, I went to the Virgin Mobile Freefest at Merriweather Post Pavilion and saw The Avett Brothers, Robin Thicke, Gareth Emery, and Vampire Weekend). The next morning I learned that Jill and Nina played dress up the night before, because Nina tried to put a flowing scarf and shoes on me. I had to explain to her Steven Tyler is the only man alive who can pull off that look.


Tuesday the 24th Nina picked a musician off my shirt and we practiced saying his name, then listened to his music. She likes dancing to Macca – I think he could really be big. Wednesday we had dinner all from the farmer’s market (corn, tomatoes, beans plus pulled pork and collard greens from Uncle Fred’s) then we finally watched The Avengers (yes, yes, geek shame) before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Very cool, but how has J. August Richards not aged?). Week 3 of Daddy/daughter Fridays went well: we picnicked on Lake Audubon with takeout from Generous George’s (old school).


Saturday the 28th I went to DC in the morning for a posture workshop (I’d injured my neck through my horrible posture) from Gokhale Method, then stopped in Clarendon for Clarendon Day and had some tasty sausages from Fat Shorty’s. Meanwhile, Jill and Nina went to Let’s Move with Music at Wolf Trap! (Nina loved the dancing and bouncing).


Monday Nina came thisclose to doing #2 in her potty, but got up at the last minute. In related crap news, a high school “friend” posted a Facebook status about he was sorry about the furlough, but it was worth it to stop Obamacare. I guess he didn’t know or care about the friends of mine that are affected (or the coworkers laid off that day), but I was fed up with his right wingnut screeds, and went after him. But he proved to play as well as his “heroes” in Congress, and decided to block me after we’d gone back and forth several times. Also I was wearing a Neil Gaiman shirt, and since Nina now recognizes “Macca”, decided he was “Macca” too. I tried to explain he was Mr. Neil who wrote that nice Chu book she likes, but I don’t think I was very successful.

Nina Kerry


When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had arrived in Great Barrington, MA. The next morning we took our time while we waited for Jill’s mom to visit (with our tent), went to Fuel for coffee, then made our way to Shantytowne, where it commenced raining as soon as I started putting up the tent. We had grilled cheese, avocado, and potato chips for lunch, but leaving at 3 was way past Nina’s usual nap time and she screamed much of the way back to the hotel, falling asleep seconds before we pulled in. Pizza for dinner is always a popular choice, and after a long wait we had some at Baba Louie’s post nap. We made it back to Falcon Ridge to see Vance Gilbert, Pesky J. Nixon, and Red Molly at the Lounge Stage (relocated to the Family Stage because of rain) and Nina had a fine old time dancing (even when nobody else was).


Friday we once again hit Fuel where Nina and I stayed for a while (she had seen the play kitchen the day before and wasn’t leaving without using it), then over to FRFF again for lunch and some of the Emerging Artist Showcase. We drove over to the Barrington Brewery for dinner, and Nina had a fine time running around until the rain started. It continued on and off as we drove back to FRFF, and we actually made it all the way to the parking lot and were listening to Dar Williams on the radio (87.7) when it started again. 2 of 3 Frey’s voted to give up and head back to the hotel (hopefully Nina will see “Iowa” on the hill another year).


Saturday we took far too long to get going, but still brought Dunkie’s coffee and donuts to Shantytowne. We hung out for a while, then brought Nina down to the family tent to see Red Molly. She could care less about them once she saw the bubble making implements, and she had a grand old time until she rubbed her eye with a soapy hand. Of course Jill had gone to the car to get more diapers (that night we discovered Jill had dropped her phone then as well), so I had to hold her up and rinse her eye (she hates rinsing, so lots of bloodcurdling screaming). She was fine after it was done and she could enjoy the toddler play area. We drove to Sheffield while she napped. She was a bit grumpy to have her nap interrupted, but happy to see two grandmas once we entered the cafe (B+ for sandwiches, D- for allergen knowledge). She went home with them and her cousin Ava, then we hit Guido’s Market for some salads for the potluck dinner Saturday night.


We did nothing but relax once we got back to Shantytowne (and Jill had her hair braided by Patty Tracey), then headed up to the Loozer’s Lounge where we waited for another hour because the pig was still cooking. But the wait was worth it, lots of fine food and drink, then back to camp for a bit before we got half of Moxy Fruvous on the Main Stage, then stayed for some of The Grand Slambovians (who were so loud we could hear them perfectly at camp without a radio). We chatted with folks more before most people went to bed – I took a quick jaunt to the Budgiedome to see bobtown before sleeping the latest I ever have at FRFF. Jill had gotten me a breakfast burrito, and I wolfed that down before we broke down camp. We caught the remainder of Gospel Wake Up Call before we left for Holyoke (with a detour to Great Barrington for the pillows we’d left behind at the motel). That night Nina spoke her first full sentence: “My hat, G.G.” (as Great-Gram was wearing her hat).

Kerry & Jill

Monday the 5th we went to Whole Foods with Robin for lunch and shopping, then the Bradys had us over for a pool party and spaghetti, and Nina had a blast running around and swimming. Tuesday Nina had a great time at the Beachgrounds Park in South Hadley (spraying water is fun), followed by pizza at Grand-Mémé and Grand-Pépé’s with Pépé and Mémé. Wednesday we went to the Eric Carle museum with Jill’s mom and Nina’s cousins Ava and Jake, then Jill’s mom watched Nina and the cousins while the sisters and significant others had dinner at Slainte (the fried chicken was delicious). Also, Jill also joined the Android user population and bought a new phone.

Dominic, Nina, Ava

On the trip home Thursday, Nina enjoyed her first White Castle visit, but only ate my bacon and a carton of fries (plus the avocado half we brought in). It wasn’t until we were on our way to the great kids park in Delaware that we realized this time last year Jill’s phone was also being mailed to her as she dropped it here.

Q: How do you turn a 6 hour trip home into taking 14 hours?
A: Have a toddler.

Although it would have been 11 hours, then the outer loop on the Beltway came to a halt. When I thought about going through DC instead and getting some dinner, it wasn’t hard to convince Jill to go to her favorite Mexican restaurant after we found Nina a playground nearby.


Friday the 9th we took the day off with Nina in daycare, but I had lots of errands to do. Once I picked her up, she had lots of surprises. Her new favorite word is “no” (a little sooner than I expected). Also she jumped off the swing, walked down the short slide, and climbed up the big slide and the little climbing wall. Saturday was more relaxing, had a lovely visit with the Midatlantic Shantytowners for lunch, then I got to sit on the deck for an hour after I prepped dinner. I grilled steak with a green pepper sauce for us and a hot dog for Nina (who promptly demanded another), then we all took a walk after dinner and ended up at Yogi Berry (Nina wasn’t interested). Her favorite part was feeding a goose on the way back thanks to a girl with a loaf of bread. On the last day of vacation, what started as a fur cleanup ended up me cleaning the entire middle level. Nina decided to add one more physical feat – going down the climbing wall at the playground, then had an epic meltdown when we waited a little too long for dinner. We were exhausted after that, hard to believe we were going back to work the next day.

Nina Lorna

Monday the 12th Nina was my kitchen helper. She programmed the microwave, turned on the toaster oven, and supervised the avocado chopping. After we didn’t go outside that evening ’cause I was feeling crappy, Nina let me know her opinion wholeheartedly. The next night I decided to go to Terraset, which was great because of the two 2 year olds and two 4 year olds she played with there. Bonus: even after the disastrous idea of everyone leaving at the same time (lots of running back and forth and hugs), we still got back 15 minutes before the huge storm that hit us. Wednesday we walked over to the South Lakes Village Center to eat at Flippin’ Pizza as Nina’s new school was having a fundraiser there (we were debating enrolling her in January, but at an open house Jill learned they run on a school year system, which meant this September or next September, and we decided to go sooner since she’s really starting to learn words and concepts). The geese and ducks afterwards might have been more of a hit.

Nina Jill

Thursday the 15th I picked up some Potbelly takeout and we went to see IONA at Lake Anne. We thought Nina would want to dance like she did at the last couple concerts, but instead she wanted to run from one end to the other – again and again. And she wouldn’t eat when she’s out in public, had to wait ’til we got home to feed her a late dinner. Saturday we went to Leesburg, had dinner at MacDowell Brew Kitchen (tasty fried food), then caught some of Todd Wright before Nina was ready to go (it was late).


Monday the 19th Nina wouldn’t leave the house until I came back downstairs this morning, and then she wouldn’t let go of my hand. So if you saw a guy in a towel helping his daughter down the steps, that was me. And then she ran all the way to the sidewalk and realized I wasn’t behind her and proceeded to run all the way back up the stairs. Jill picked her up kicking and screaming to take to the car. Thankfully she calmed down as soon as she got into the car seat. Thursday she wanted some outdoor time before her nap, so Jill made a picnic which they had in the park across the street. Saturday we checked out Lake Fairfax a week prior to Nina’s birthday party there; she rode the carousel and the paddle boats and got her meltdowns out of the way. Sunday the 25th Jill’s company had their annual picnic, and Nina was old enough to enjoy herself. She had her first pony ride and loved playing in the bouncy castle and dancing for the DJ.

Nina pony

Thursday the 29th I went to the Nationals gave (vs. Diamondbacks) with my Dad. I think I have a new favorite player as Jayson Werth had some cool intro music (the theme from “Walking Dead”, the intro to “Warehouse” (with woos from the crowd) and “Werewolves Of London”) and it was a nice fast win (under 2.5 hours). Then Dad left, and I stuck around for Sammy Hagar with the Wabos. I was a little disappointed at first as Sammy was in the middle of his “Four Decades of Rock” tour with Michael Anthony, and this show was announced as a shorter show with just the Wabos. But as he started his 2nd Van Halen song, who should stroll out but Michael Anthony! It was awesome.

Mikey and Sammy

Jill’s mom came down for Nina’s birthday weekend, and Saturday the 31st we took advantage of her visiting to celebrate our anniversary a little early. We had a delicious dinner at the Atlas Room (the short rib ravioli is great), then saw the stage adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere at Rorschach Theatre. Very well done, and slightly better than the version I saw in LA in April. Meanwhile Nina and Sue had a outing over to the South Lakes Village Center for pizza and frozen yogurt (this time Nina ate some).



Jill’s mom was still here at the beginning of the month, and her husband Dave flew down for a couple days. On Wednesday the 3rd, we went to my dad’s on the bay for their annual fireworks. He and Patricia made a big spread for dinner; unfortunately Nina was not a fan of the fireworks, but they started so way past her bedtime she was out before they finished. On the 4th, I grilled hot dogs for lunch, and we had Bojangles fried chicken for dinner that we’d picked up that morning on the way home. Nina was in bed by the time the fireworks began, and I took Dave out on the floating dock on the lake to watch them.

Us, Dad and Patricia

Friday Nina got completely soaked playing with the sprinkler, then her favored dish was a bowl of ketchup and mustard she ate with a fork (I won’t get the chicken hot dogs again). Saturday the 6th was an all day date day thanks to Sue and Dave watching Nina. We slept in, went to Baltimore (briefly dropped in at the Discworld convention but Sir Terry was a last minute cancellation) and had lunch at Wit And Wisdom, then saw Joss Whedon’s great take on Much Ado About Nothing at the Angelika and a late dinner at Matchbox.


Monday the 8th Nina was eating her grilled ham and cheese sandwich like an Oreo, taking the ham out, eating it, and throwing the rest away. Thursday I was solo on the lawn tonight at Wolf Trap to see Camera Obscura and She And Him, with a perfect picnic meal in between thanks to Kumo Sushi, my new favorite local sushi place. I made it home before a storm hit us hard, but stayed up ’til 3AM while waiting for the lightning and thunder to stop so I could take the dog for walk. The good thing was that I finished the new Neil Gaiman novel. Good stuff.


Friday the 12th we had a small mess in the kitchen – a good opportunity to teach Nina how to use a dustpan and brush, I thought. Ten minutes later, she’s gotten her first timeout from me and there was an unholy mess that requires a mop. Sigh. Saturday I took Nina to the Lake Anne Ukulele Festival in the morning where she proceeded directly to the fountain and refused to leave. Later, she stayed in with Grandma and we had a fabulous night with delicious food at Mothership (banh mi ftw) and the hilarious Book Of Mormon. But what are we talking and laughing about hours later? That I smacked a strange woman on the ass at intermission (in my defense it was dark, she also had her hair up and had a very similar outfit as Jill). We saw the lady seated after I told Jill what happened; she tapped her on the shoulder and told her that I thought she was her. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.

Saturday the 20th we went to a friend’s housewarming where Nina got to try a tricycle (she loved it, couldn’t reach the pedals though), then that night she had her first BLT. My favorite quote from Jill: “Stop waving that bacon in my face!” The next morning she was a barefoot girl: concrete, asphalt, mulch and grass. I think she knew FRFF was coming. Robert Plant was great Monday (and when he played the Zep songs in their original arrangement it was awesome), but I could have done without the shoe soaking deluge afterwards.


The best night at Wolf Trap this year started Wednesday the 24th with the tastiest spread I’ve had yet at the Encore Circle, then a short but sweet set from The Lone Bellow. We hung out with Mike Clem and his squeeze while we waited to meet them, then visited with Stuart and Susan during a lackluster set from Justin Townes Earle. A blast your face off finale from Brandi Carlisle (with Gibb Droll) topped off the night, highlighted by a cover of “The Chain”. The next night I wondered if I was a worse father when I let Nina lie in duck poop (so she could splash her hands in the lake) or two days earlier when she tripped and hurt her finger bad enough to need her first band aid.


Saturday the 27th we tried Zabb, a new Thai place in Manassas (very spicy but good kua kling) then saw Dave Matthews Band for the first time in 4 years (my longest break since I started seeing them 20 years ago). They played a great mix of old and new songs, and the weather was perfect. Classic Nina quotes from Sunday: After a sneeze, Jill says “Bless You” and I say “Gesundheit”. Nina’s got “Bless You”, but I had her sound it out, then I asked her to say it. She said “Bless You”. Also (you should know she’s learning to count): We were all shopping in Safeway, and I picked out some Fruit Loops for her. Nina thought that was a great idea, and got another box. Jill said “No, only one” and Nina shouted out “Two!”, followed by “3, 4, 6″.


Wednesday the 31st was the start of our summer vacation. We delayed leaving as my neck was killing me the night before, but finally got going late morning, with Nina soothed for a while by getting a plush Elmo – she’s been watching Sesame Street at daycare and is obsessed with Elmo, Abby and Zoe (and already had an Abby). We drove through the state with the lowest highest point while listening to Lowest Highest Point (very meta), then Sonic failed me – usually we eat there, but we did drive in this time. When I opened the bag, my tots had morphed into fries! At least I got my diet cherry limeade. After a 2 hour + break at the nearby Barnes & Noble, we finally got back on the road at 7PM, where Nina promptly fell asleep. For 30 minutes, then wide awake ’til we got to Great Barrington (and calmed on the Taconic State Parkway by many Daniel Tiger videos). She refused to sleep in the pack and play (a first), and fell asleep on the bed between us (then back to the pack and play).



The Herndon Festival continued on Saturday the 1st. First I went out in the kayak and helped with annual lake cleanup, then dashed over to the festival to see Wooly & The Mammoth. After nap time, we brought Nina over. She had a very late night, but it was worth it – she had some kettle corn, and we saw The Hunts. I bought her a camp chair, and she even sat in it for a while, then danced her little heart out. She even enjoyed Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern‘s jambalaya (Jill thought it was somewhat spicy). The next day Stuart and I had our annual Irish breakfast at O’Sullivans, then watched the old timey music of The Hot Seats. The day was overcast and rainy last of the Herndon Festival, but I still applied sunscreen. And I still got a sunburned left knee and ankle! Atlanta Rhythm Section wasn’t bad, but they couldn’t finish their set because of heavy rain. Monday I thought Nina is now a spice girl. After she liked the jambalaya, I let her play with the black pepper and she seemed to enjoy it.

Jill Nina

Wednesday the 5th we saw The Pietasters at their annual Lee District Park show (and this time with 2 of my high school classmates). Nina loves her some ska, although she tried to get a little too close to the action at one point. It was a real 90’s music month for us, as then Friday Mom babysat while I met Jill after work at Celebrate Fairfax to see Live and Everclear, and Saturday I went to Jammin’ Java to see Gary Louris (from The Jayhawks). I was thrilled Stephen McCarthy joined him and they played a number of songs from “Rainy Day Music”.


Saturday the 15th I slept in ’til 10, then took Nina to the Home Depot playground and Taste Of Reston. She enjoyed the mac and cheese from Noodles & Co., then had an epic meltdown. Nap helped immensely, and she was good for Mom while we had delicious burgers at Holy Cow and saw emmet swimming at The Birchmere with the Feders (and picked up their first CD in 10 years). Sunday was so busy I never sat down until the kitchen was clean, long after Nina was in bed. Normally I skip church, but Jill needed help with outdoor activities. But the house was mostly cleaned, and we had my dad and his girlfriend over for some surf and turf, and Nina charmed them all over again. Tuesday night I said to Nina “Why are you so much like me?” and decided if I ever start a kids music group, I’m calling it “Chicken & Snot”, based on the substances most found on her face. At bathtime that night she learned to splash – with her feet. I was forced to admit defeat and drain the tub.

Dad Nina

Wednesday the 19th we went to see Rocknoceros in Vienna. Nina ran around and we ate hot dogs that Whole Foods was grilling across the street. Saturday the 22nd we got Nina going early to Clemyjontri so she could have an early nap, because my mom was hosting an afternoon reception for my sister and her husband. Nina was a big hit, and particularly enjoyed banging on Mom’s piano. On the way to Tuesday’s Counting Crows show at Wolf Trap, I wanted to listen to The Grateful Dead to prepare for the next night’s show. But Jill didn’t want to hear them, so it was ironic that the Crows busted out “Friend Of The Devil” midway through.

At Mom's

I didn’t end up going to the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration Wednesday anyway. Nina had a tantrum on the way home from daycare, wasn’t in a good mood after that, and refused to get in the car when it was time to go to Wolf Trap – at least they were only lawn seats. On the bright side, I let her bring a ball in her bath, and when she tried to throw it out, I blocked it and said “No no no, not in my house”. Thursday Jill’s mom was in town, and she, Jill, my Mom, and Nina went to the National Zoo and Nina had a great time (she loved the meerkats).


Saturday the 29th I took Nina to a family safety fair and got her fingerprinted. She enjoyed crawling all over the fire truck and didn’t want to leave. I was going to take her to a playground, but she was already hot and cranky, so we went to Kidz Plaza, a new indoor playground. An excellent choice, as it has moon bounces and a two story slide into a ball pit and she had a great time. Sunday Mom came over and we went over to Wolf Trap for a buffet dinner and saw Straight No Chaser – really good a capella group. Nina’s word of the month was “slide” and she started repeating the alphabet.



Wednesday the 1st I picked Jill and Nina up from Dulles. Nina learned “mine” when she was in Massachusetts. Now I feel like a seagull from “Finding Nemo” has landed in our house. I went out during Nina’s nap on Saturday to participate in Free Comic Book Day.

Nina Kerry

Tuesday the 7th I experienced that familiar mixture of excitement and dread of heading to Maryland for a concert on a rainy weeknight. But Rush was awesome (loved “The Body Electric”), the smoke burger afterwards at Alewife (while I waited for concert and Orioles traffic to clear) was delicious, but the dog pee at 2am was a pain (and I managed to wake Nina up). We also had a plumber out the next day as we forgot to turn the water off for the winter, and got a leak near the hose when I turned the faucet on for the first time (but Nina loves her sprinkler).


Friday the 10th Nina and I saw a mom give her two kids Swiffer pads and a challenge that whoever made theirs dirtiest was the winner. Still trying to decide if that’s a parenting win or parenting fail. Saturday we had a lovely time with the Norwoods for their youngest daughter’s birthday at Frying Pan Park. Nina is no longer afraid of any of the animals. Too bad she had the biggest pre nap meltdown in quite a while. Sunday we had my mom over for a Mother’s Day brunch (Nina’s a fan of sausage links and hash browns).


Tuesday the 14th Nina’s first multisyllabic word was applesauce. Which I then worked into “Gangnam Style” and “Call Me Maybe”. That Saturday morning she started saying “Why”, and I knew we were doomed. I took her to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in the pouring rain where she decorated a fish, which wasn’t half as important to her as meeting Wolf Trap’s mascot Wolfie (I had to drag her away three times). Later that night, it was weird being back at my high school for a band alumni concert – haven’t been back since my sister graduated. They were pretty good for only a few hours practice.


Wednesday the 22nd I headed into DC solo. Dinner at Burger, Tap & Shake (tasty burger and the chocolatiest shake I’ve ever had), then my second orchestra performance in a week, this time at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for Trey Anastasio with the NSO. We had no plans Memorial Day weekend, so we did a playdate on Sunday at our house (with burgers) with the Norwoods. The kids all ran around and ate heartily, then we went out for a spin on the lake.


Memorial Day we took Nina to Dinosaur Park (she loved it) and Carolina Brothers BBQ (meh). Friday the 31st I took Nina to the Herndon Festival and gave her her first Sno-cone (cherry) and her first sunburn. Or so I thought – turns out she flushes in heat (got Jill’s complexion). So no concerts, and she was much better by the time we got home.