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August

Still in Holyoke on vacation, the morning of Friday the 1st we packed up the car and drove off to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. I dropped the girls off at the main gate with their tickets and drove off to find the Depot Deli. Despite reports of a new cell tower at the festival, I had no cell service whatsoever there, which made it fun without a map. I did our food and supply shopping there as well as picking up 2 of their Sin-a-Bomb pull apart cinnamon bread loaves – egg free! I drove back to the festival, got my wristband and drove up to Shantytowne. I parked and set up the tent – we were almost the last to arrive. Nina made a new friend with neighbor Delilah and played inflatable bowling.

Nina

After a potluck dinner, we headed to the main stage where we watched Aoife O’Donovan (ex Crooked Still) and then saw some of Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams at the Dance Tent (Nina was more mesmerized by holding a flashlight) before heading back to camp. This was a make or break year for us – the first time Nina camped with us (the previous 2 years we’d stayed at motels, then Jill’s mom came and got her on Saturday and we’d camp that night). We knew we’d have to go to bed with her and Friday it was my turn. It was fine, I was tired and so was she.

Jill Nina Kerry

Saturday morning we had breakfast (thanks to AJ and friends), then Nina and I headed over to the Workshop Stage to see Aoife and Tracy Grammar. Of course we got a late start, then someone wanted to be carried and didn’t want to go and by the time we got there the next set was about the start. Nina made it through one song by Christine Lavin before she was done, so we went over early to the children’s tent where Jill was meeting us. That was fun for Nina as she got to do crafts, plus I got back in time to see about half the set.

Nina

Nina was still happily playing when I got back (she found the inflatable pool with toys in it in the shade), so we got some lunch from the vendors, and I also caught the Most Wanted Song Swap before Nina and I headed back to camp while Jill shopped. After our family picture we had our usual singalong of “Shantytowner“. After we got dinner, Nina had her hair braided by Patty, then she and Jill went to bed and I hung out in camp until very late.

Nina Meg Kat

Sunday I packed up the tent and gave it away – our new air mattress bed was great but not built for 2 plus a squirmer and we’ll need a bigger one next year. Nina seemed to enjoy the camping experience, though. It was a long drive to Virginia – we detoured through Pennsylvania to avoid traffic, and Nina saw her first real rainbow there.

Nina Patty

Monday the 4th began a week of spills. Nina started with a whole bowl of cereal on the floor, then it was day 2 of Cereal-on-the-floor-mageddon, with no end to the crisis in sight. Wednesday it wasn’t the cereal that was being spilled, it was the milk. Fortunately the furry disposal unit was back. Thursday brought a partial spill of cereal, but it still counted before Friday brought no spills – our long national nightmare was over. Friday night Nina and I LARPed tonight for the first time – I was Jack, she was Jill and really good at tumbling after. Much better than Thursday night’s tantrum marathon (although she’s developing some impressive bedtime delaying tactics).

Nina Felix

Saturday the 9th Nina took her first Silver Line ride to Tysons Corner today with her BFF, his mom and sister. There was a nice new playground on the elevated plaza (although no direct walkway from the Metro then, and the Shake Shack there wasn’t open yet). We had lunch at the food court there (Baja Fresh for us) before everyone else but me rode the little train. Later Andy (an ex-coworker) had a goodbye party (moving out of the country) and Nina finally tried s’mores (although only ate the chocolate). Sunday night Jill and I went to see Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw at Wolf Trap with our friend Linda who was thrilled with our second row seats.

Linda Kerry Jill

More spills the next week, but boring to talk about. Instead I’ll mention than Monday the 11th I introduced Nina to the Muppet Show (she’s now a Swedish Chef fan) and at bedtime we had a mini dance party where I mashed up “Jump In Line” and “Fancy”. Our friend Patty brought over takeout for us to share on Thursday, then we had a walk around the lake for frozen yogurt. Unfortunately Nina was very under the weather Saturday night and we ditched plans to get a babysitter – Jill stayed home while I went to see Tori Amos.

Nina

Nina regards picnicking as a full contact sport. In addition to sticky hands and face, Monday the 18th she had ranch dressing on her right elbow and foot, guacamole on her left foot and peach juice everywhere else. Wednesday I hoped bad things don’t come in threes, as Tuesday night I had dropped my phone – not the first time, but now I cracked the screen and broke the touchscreen. Then Wednesday morning my wedding ring fell on the ground, and when I went to stop it from rolling away, I bent it.

Nina

Thursday the 21st we got this priceless conversation:
Nina: [touching chunk of pineapple to armpit]
Jill: What are you doing?
Nina: I’m rubbing my crotch.
Parents: [muffled laughter]
Jill: Don’t put food in your armpit!
Parents: [ROTFLOL]

Jill Nina

Sunday the 24th we returned to Wolf Trap to have dinner on the Associates’ Deck and see Boston live (Tom Scholz is still a monster). Later we watched the first Doctor Who of the new season – good use of a date night. Wednesday morning my dad called me, he had recently received a call from “me”, supposedly in a detention center in Baltimore with my nose broken after a night out where I’d crashed my car and been arrested after an unregistered gun was found in the trunk. He went to the bank to get out $3000 before he decided to try and call me to verify the story. I told him it wasn’t me. I did a search online, not the first time this scam has been attempted.

Jill Kerry

Saturday the 30th was Nina’s birthday party at Kidz Plaza. We’d priced out renting bounce houses, and they were comparable (and no cleanup for us). Jill’s mom, her older sister and her 2 nieces drove down the night before while her younger sister flew down that day. Her dad also drove down with his wife. The party started at 12:15 and all the kids had a blast. After 90 minutes we moved into the party room and served snacks and cupcakes. After we packed up and came home, Nina opened some gifts before taking a nap. My dad made it over with my sister and her husband, and we went out on the deck boat after Nina woke up. I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone for dinner.

Maddy Ava Missy Nina Jill

Sunday all the girls went out for a photo shoot, which meant I got to sleep in. I met them for lunch at Nando’s Peri Peri in Ashburn, where Nina and Ava went to see the fountain before our food arrived and got completely soaked. Later Nina opened more gifts (she got a lot) and we all had Flippin’ Pizza.

Ava Nina

July

Since we’d celebrated Jill’s birthday early and she was working on the actual day, we didn’t go out that night but I did get up early and pick up Einstein’s bagels for everyone on Tuesday the 1st. Thursday Sue (Jill’s mom, who had come down the previous weekend) took Jill and I to Dulles, where we flew to London for the weekend as an early 10th anniversary present to ourselves. Sue’s husband Dave was supposed to fly down that night, but weather delayed him until the next morning (we had a 30 minute delay) – Nina had lots of fun with them that weekend.

Kerry Jill

A long flight later, we arrived at Heathrow in the early morning of the 4th and endured a very long line to get to Customs. After that, we caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, then took the Underground to Tower Hill near the DoubleTree we were staying at. Unfortunately it took almost an hour for our room to be ready, and we nearly fell asleep in the lobby waiting (the flight hadn’t been conducive to sleeping). We both napped once we got into our room – too long as we slept through my alarm and were late for dinner. I pushed our reservation back 30 minutes, but it didn’t matter – we were the first people to be eating and not watching tennis at The Banana Store Restaurant. It was pretty good, but we ate fast as we didn’t want to miss the main event.

Kerry Jill

Monty Python was an early and deep influence on me, but a reunion seemed unlikely. So when one was announced as a live stage show last fall, I knew I wanted to go (and I was still kicking myself over missing the Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin reunions), so I bought tix. Jill wasn’t sold, but between her mom visiting and plane ticket prices dropping we made it work. We arrived at the O2 for the 4th performance of Monty Python Live (Mostly) with about 30 minutes to spare. I bought a shirt and we took our seats in the 3rd row.

stage

The music started right on time, and they did all their greatest hits. All my favorite songs (“Every Sperm Is Sacred”, “The Lumberjack Song”, “Bruces’ Philosophers Song”, and “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”) as well as my favorite sketches (“Nudge Nudge”, “Spanish Inquisition”, “Argument Clinic”, and “Dead Parrot”) made appearances. The additional singers and dancers were used to good effect and the old video clips and new material were deftly edited together. A really great show, and they barely showed their age.

Monty Python Live

I’d bought a VIP package with “Meet and Greet” to get the good seats. I had my doubts about the aftershow, but we went anyway. Once I saw the line that wrapped around the building I knew there would be no one-on-one time. And I was right, a couple free drinks, a bag of swag, and a questions and answer session. Still, I was impressed that they all showed up and were in good spirits, but once it was over we were out of there and back to the hotel for a good night’s rest (not a bad way to spend Independence Day though).

Monty Python

The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast buffet before getting over to the London Bridge station so we could meet up with the Harry Potter walking tour, ironically enough taking us right through the Borough Market past where we’d had dinner the night before. It rained a bit at the end of the tour, but it was a nice walk through London (one tube ride in the middle). Jill went shopping and I went back to the hotel to change before we met up for a delicious late lunch at The Square (very late for me as I walked the wrong way off the tube).

Jill tourguide

We stopped at Hamleys after lunch to pick up some Peppa Pig toys for Nina (she would have loved it, but we would never have gotten her out of there) before we split up for some shopping. Later we enjoyed a fabulous Neil Gaiman reading and performance of “The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains” with a string quartet and art by Eddie Campbell. He even had a Ben Folds cameo for the encore with their first ever performance of “The Problem With Saints” from 8in8 (that was twice I’d seen Ben in 2 weeks – he might be stalking me). We had a late dinner of sandwiches at the lobby bar and even later drinks in the rooftop lounge.

London Bridge

Sunday morning it was shopping time. I hit CD and book shops while Jill hit yarn shops, and we met up for a tasty late lunch at Lal Qila before walking over to the door next to Speedy’s Cafe, seen on Sherlock as 221B Baker Street. We picked up our luggage and headed out to Heathrow where we stayed the night at the Hilton there (Oscar’s was a decent lobby restaurant).

Jill Kerry

The flight the next day was long, but I got a lot of reading done. Unfortunately the heat returned – it felt like someone had left the sauna on. Nina was very excited to greet us at the airport, and to get her new Paddington bear I’d picked up in Waterstones (and we had to take a picture with it in the tube station before we left).

Jill Paddington

Sue and Dave stayed for another week (I brought home Willard’s for everyone on Thursday), and on Saturday the 12th Sue came with Nina and me to see Rocknoceros at Reston Town Center, then later we all went out on the dock boat so Nina could go fishing with Dave (also known as “Pop-Pop”).

Nina Dave

Monday the 14th I’d been playing lots of Queen for Nina to get her ready for the upcoming show, and she became obsessed with “We Will Rock You”. After our 6th listen in a row I was glad that at least it’s not The Wiggles. Wednesday I wanted the Polar Vortex to please come and visit us every summer, because the weather was so nice we had a picnic in the backyard.

Kerry Nina

Saturday the 19th we all walked around Lake Thoreau – Nina’s first time walking all by herself that far. A nice nap for her, and later that night I took in the first of three concerts in a row with emmet swimming at The Birchmere (solo, Mom the babysitter was away). Thanks to the drunk guys at the table next to me plus the mosh pit they started at the end, it felt like a TT Reynolds show. Bonus points for the first time I’ve seen them do “Gangsta” (original version of “Sunblock”).

Kerry Nina

The next night was Queen + Adam Lambert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, this time with both Jill and Nina. We drove up in the afternoon, intending to have dinner at the mall next door, not thinking they’d close at 6 like the rest of the mall. But thanks to 9:30 Club Friends with Benefits, we had access to the VIP Deck Pass (after we entered from the mall side in a long but fast moving line). A nice secluded grassy area with a special bonus that night: José Andrés’ Pepe food truck (very tasty sandwiches). The concert was great and Nina was a trooper, lasted through six songs (with ear protection) before moving from dancing on the seats to dancing at top of the stairs. Turns the best way to keep a toddler occupied is to find a broken pinball machine where she can keep putting a quarter in and getting it out. We made it 2/3s through, which was longer than I thought we’d go. The show was really good – Adam’s stage presence was ok, but his voice was incredible, totally nailed “Somebody To Love”. I could’ve dealt without her throwing up 5 minutes from home – no more Peppa Pig videos on the Beltway.

Kerry Jill Nina

The next evening Jill took a paddling class on Lake Anne I’d gotten her as a birthday present. Nina and I watched and played in the water (and she got completely soaked), then headed over to Lake Anne Plaza. My third concert in a row was Veruca Salt at The Black Cat that night. They were tight like they’d never stopped playing together. And how is it Queen had no kids shirts while they did? Ok, I know the answer – Nina and Louise from the band both have young kids.

Jill

On Friday the 25th, Nina had some milestones: a little over a month shy of her 3rd birthday she was 3 feet tall and 28.5 pounds, and could read me Blue Hat, Green Hat. The next night I was glad the Dave Matthews Band had the same relaxed attitude towards start time that we did, because after dropping Illa off at the kennel, ordering Thai takeout, fighting traffic to the Lube and eating said takeout, by the time we walked in at 7:30 they were just getting started. And it was a great show – I was considering skipping this year, but the acoustic set/electric set concept drew me back, and it was a great show – got our two favorite songs in the acoustic set (“Two Step” and “Ants Marching”) and “Minarets” in the electric set.

Nina at summer camp

Sunday the 27th we got a somewhat early start on our annual drive up north on summer vacation. We learned some important things: Jill’s sister Robin eloped that morning, Pilot has stolen Sonic’s ice making technique, and Nina can now scale a seven foot rock wall by herself (back to Lincoln Elementary School).

Kerry Nina

Monday we went to Community Field again where Nina had a blast (she’s mastered the playground disc traverse after 2 days), then had sandwiches for a picnic lunch before visiting Jill’s grandfather with her dad at the nearby Soldiers’ Home (the veterans love Nina). I went to my favorite Northampton destinations Provisions and Turn It Up while Nina napped, then Sue made us a tasty dinner of bacon wrapped chicken breast, corn on the cob, green beans, and fruit salad, plus chocolate cake from Aunt Vicky (and it was great to see Auntie Kelley).

Kerry Nina

Tuesday it was another day on the road to Old Orchard Beach in Maine, where Robin’s new husband Mike’s parents owned a pair of cottages. Nina has learned how to game the road trip – if she wants to get out of her car seat, she just tells us she needs to go potty. She also learned that waves from the Atlantic Ocean are freezing and terrifying if they go up past her ankles, while we learned Robin and Mike are excellent hosts for newlyweds (ask Mike for his surf n’ turf sandwiches for lunch). In the afternoon she played with Blake, the son of friends that were also staying there, while dinner was at Los Tapatios in Biddeford, decent Mexican (but meh service).

Nina Blake

With a day to get used to it, Nina thought that the ocean was the best thing ever Wednesday morning. We walked down to Hoss and Mary’s to get takeout for lunch (fried lobster sandwiches are delicious) and later we drove with Robin and Mike to nearby Portland, Maine (which is also kinda weird). We got a reservation at Flatbread Company and shopped in a nearby gift shop before our table was ready and we all had some delicious wood-fired pizza.

Nina

Thursday we packed up, but headed north instead of south so we could visit L.L. Bean’s flagship store. It’s ginormous (Nina quite liked it, even when she scraped up her knee in the parking lot) and we got her some winter gear. We drove over to Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster which was delicious and also meant I got to have lobster for lunch all 3 days we were in Maine (we smuggled in some McNuggets for Nina). Later we managed a short visit with the Cannons and their girls for dinner before returning to Holyoke, and Jill arranged a late night hot tub and massage for us (seriously late, we started at 11PM) that would have been more fun if I hadn’t sunburned my feet at the beach.

Kerry Nina

June

When I last left off, we had arrived in Portland, Oregon. Early on Sunday the 1st, we took the light rail to meet Meg. We met her at the MAX stop, then walked over to Voodoo Doughnuts where Nina enjoyed her vegan grape donut. We were happy to find out that the Saturday Market was open on Sunday as well, and Meg and Nina had fun splashing in the fountain while we took a break from shopping.

Jill Kerry Nina

I’m a fan of food carts, so to learn that Portland has permanent dedicated areas for them was fantastic. At SW Washington and 9th Nina had a quesadilla, I had a great Banh mi from Rua and Jill had Georgian (Europe) food from Kargi Gogo. After naptime, Meg came back over and we got takeout for her and Nina so we could sneak off and have a delicious Mexican fusion dinner at Taqueria Nueve. I’d backed them on Kickstarter, and the chef’s dinner we got was outstanding, lots of dishes based on corn and some of the best grilled asparagus we’ve ever had.

Meg Nina

Monday we took the light rail over to the Children’s Museum. We had a breakfast there (I had a delicious egg wrap), then lots of fun activities for Nina, including an interactive ambulance, a dam in a stream and a plant maze. Her favorite (and the one we had to drag her away from) was the stage, where she got to perform. We had popcorn for a snack, then Jill and Nina used the freezing cold pool while I went to the next door mall to buy a pillow. We had pizza delivered from Pizzicato for dinner, pretty good.

Nina

Tuesday we had Bowery Bagels for breakfast, then stopped at the same light rail stop as the day before to go to the Portland Zoo. Nina loved the polar bears, elephants, lions, hippos and giraffes. We enjoyed more food trucks for lunch (I had Hawaiian pork and grits), then met up with Meg and Mackenzie at the Deschutes Brewpub for dinner (yummy wings).

Nina Jill

Wednesday was a lazier day around Portland with stops at Powell’s and Finnegan’s Toys and more food truck goodness (Steak Your Claim was my favorite yet, Jill enjoyed some fish). Actually napped while Nina did that afternoon, then we did McMenamins (Ringlers) for dinner, again with Meg and Mackenzie (the tater tots were great).

Jill Meg Nina Mackenzie

Thursday we did OMSI in the morning (Nina loved the grocery store and sandbox area), food trucks for lunch and dinner, shopping (finally made it to a CD store, Everyday Music), and one more Voodoo Doughnuts hit. Friday was a long day of travel followed by dinner at Cafesano, and catching up on TV.

Nina

Saturday the 7th Mom came over and Jill and I drove down to Constitution Hall to see The Kids In The Hall. We’d seen Kevin McDonald & Dave Foley 5 years previously, but never the whole troupe before. They were pretty funny, even for a casual fan like me. Nina finally got to see Felix again on Sunday and had a good time running around.

Felix Nina

Nina started summer camp at school on Monday the 9th – happy her friend Felix was there, also her teacher Jenny and other friends from school were there as well. I’d seen Ringo Starr before, but not with his All-Starr band. Thursday at Wolf Trap it was an amazing show, full of hits from Ringo, Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Santana), Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Steve Lukather (Toto). The next night Dan Wilson (ex-Semisonic, co-writer with Dixie Chicks and Adele) was at Jammin’ Java singing his perfect pop songs and great songwriting stories.

Dan

Saturday the 14th I slept in, we saw Todd Wright at Finnegan’s and had tasty burgers from BurgerFi, then I mowed the lawn while Nina napped. I made breakfast for dinner (French Toast and banana bread muffins), then I came up with a nice idea. Jill and Felix’s parents walk them over to Yogiberry in South Lakes to get frozen yogurt. Meanwhile I drive the deck boat over and pick them up to eat it on the ride back. For Father’s Day we went to my dad’s house for lunch and a nice walk on the boardwalk, then Nina played with Felix for a bit while Jill shopped. Bojangles chicken for dinner was delicious, and the Game Of Thrones season finale after a good call swapping dad stories with Chris Cannon was icing on the cake.

Jill Nina

Wednesday the 18th I had to congratulate True Detective and Fargo for coming out of nowhere and being some of the best TV shows out there. Their season finales got me as anxious as Game Of Thrones. Thursday I knew I didn’t want all my favorite musicians to be openers, but Jim Boggia was in the perfect spot for a school night, he was awesome and we left 3 songs into the headliner. Saturday we had dinner at Bungalow Lakehouse (decent lobster roll) then went to see Luke Brindley on the Leesburg Town Green.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 25th I decided someone at the Wolf Trap box office has a sense of humor. I was in the exact same seat for Ben Folds that I was for Ringo Starr. No Jill, once seeing Ben was sufficient for her, which I didn’t know until after I bought tix to see him again with an orchestra (sold it for a nice profit). I saw him with the Five at the Virgin Mobile Freefest in 2012, and was glad to finally see him with an orchestra (the NSO). His new Piano Concerto was quite good, second set even better (don’t think I’ve ever seen an improv jam with an orchestra before). Friday I finally got Nina down for the count at 10:42PM with no bath. I honestly don’t understand how parents can be alone with more than one child. And to top it off, I came downstairs to a phone message from my credit card company. They put me on hold listening to a Muzak version of “I Want It That Way”.

Nina

Saturday the 28th, Jill’s mom came down to visit, and we headed back to the Leesburg Town Green to picnic and watch Todd Wright. It was a nice night in Leesburg for a concert, and when he brought Mary Ann Redmond their playing together was like peanut butter and chocolate. Sunday we celebrated Jill’s and my mom’s birthdays with lunch at Ford’s Fish Shack (fried fish and lobster, so good). Later, this happened –

Nina: I want to tickle you, Mama.
Jill: You can’t, your hands are dirty.
Nina: I need a napkin.

The bonus – it was her second use of deductive reasoning that day.

Nancy Nina

May

Thursday the 1st Nina had an excellent first visit to the dentist with Jill. She sat in the chair all by herself and opened her mouth “wide like an alligator” for polishing/brushing, flossing, and counting of teeth with the pointy stick. Friday I took Nina to Friday Night Live! with Love Seed Mama Jump and she got to run around with all the other kids.

Nina

Saturday we saw Snakehead Run at the Farmer’s Market at Lake Anne Plaza. Felix and his mom were there, and the kids had a great time playing with the instruments that had been set out. That night she was very excited to sleep in her big girl bed. My mom gave us some doll beds her grandfather made and in a weird coincidence (since I hadn’t unpacked them ’til that night), the beds are nearly identical to the new one I built her.

Nina

Wednesday the 7th I went to Nina’s medal ceremony at gymnastics, then we had lunch at Wendy’s. Nina finally ate her first burger – guess I just have to get the patties as thin as Wendy’s does. Thursday Nina and I watched the “Pyramid of Light” art installation being assembled on the drain on Lake Thoreau.

Saturday the 10th we were at Frying Pan Park for Annabelle’s birthday party and narrowly averted the rain. Running around, playing with balloons and riding the carousel were all fun, although Nina got her first sunburn (ran low on sunscreen and she got some coloring on her shoulders). For Mother’s Day Nina had her first trip in a kayak, then my mom came over and we had dinner at Tequila Grande.

Nina

Saturday May 16th Jill headed to Tennessee for a knitting retreat. It’s the second time I’ve been the single parent for the weekend, so I thought “What’s the harm” when we went to Felix’s house for dinner and didn’t eat ’til 8. The harm was a total meltdown at bedtime, timeouts for both of us, and a final bedtime of 10:45. Sunday was a little better – we went to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival where she did some art, we got some food and she picked out a toy for bathtime at Dawn Price Baby (a boat), but she peed in her seat on the way to the nearby playground. After I finally got her down for a nap and cleaned up her car seat, I needed to add two fingers of Jameson’s to my Coke Zero. Later she loved her new Supergirl costume, and insisted on keeping it on the rest of the afternoon.

Nina

Tuesday the 20th Nina figured out how to climb a chain link fence – hide all your valuables. Thursday night after bathtime, Nina was walking around bow legged wearing nothing but a medal stretched around her legs. I asked her what she was doing and she told me she was a dragon. I told her she was the scariest dragon I’d ever seen.

Monday the 26th we had the Larsens and Norwoods over for Memorial Day and had everyone out on the floating dock after hamburgers and hot dogs. Thursday morning I dropped off my car for service at the new Honda dealership close to my office. They sent a shuttle to pick me up when it was done, and I went downstairs when they called to tell me they were waiting. But no one was there. I called them, and it turns out they sent the driver to my house instead. I wondered if he’ll transport a 2 year old…

Nina

Friday the 30th was the only night we could make it to the Herndon Festival, but Nina and I had fun dancing to the BoDeans with friends the Jewells, Lorna and Dave and Susan. The next day was the start of our vacation, a long flight out to Portland and room service after the train to our hotel (the DoubleTree).

Kerry Nina

April

Tuesday April 1st I achieved the rarely seen double meltdown. Thank God for Rifftrax on National Geographic. The next night we had two big accomplishments: Nina counted to five (she recites numbers but actually connecting the numbers to physically counting objects is new), and I ripped my entire Beatles collection. On a related note, Saturday morning “Here Comes The Sun” and 95 other songs were on my George Harrison playlist we were listening to. Nina said the sitar hurts her ears, but she’ll have to get used to it. Later that night, we were at our 3rd show at Wolf Trap in 3 weeks, and all local musicians doing George Harrison’s songs. Excellent show, and notable for the first time I’ve seen Todd Wright, Michael Clem and Eddie Hartness sharing a stage together (and I’ve seen each of them at least 50 times).

Nina

Sunday it turns out you can teach an old dog a new trick – 11 years old, and Illa got his first bird that day (it bounced off the side of the house trying to get away, but rebounds still count). Monday the 7th I took Nina to her first seated concert (Molly Lewis at Jammin’ Java) and she quite liked it (and was mostly behaved and sitting as she ate potato chips). Bonus – she made it into bed only five minutes later than the night before. Lots of milestones for Nina that week: Thursday she learned to spell her name, and we measured her at 35 inches tall (growing up so fast). Then Friday she did the call and response of “Mahna Mahna” before bed.

Nina

Saturday the 12th we had a very busy morning and afternoon celebrating my dad’s birthday by taking Nina to her first circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus), then lunch at Red Robin, resulted in very little productivity the rest of the day – I napped almost as long as she did. Sunday I stained Nina’s new bed, and managed to pour the stain down the side of my hand. That stuff does not come off easily. There was lots of rain (and hail – I think that’s worse than snow) on Tuesday.

Nina

Saturday and Sunday I went to Awesome Con in DC, our first major comics and pop culture con in a while. Saturday the 19th Jill and Nina accompanied me, and we accomplished my major goal: getting a picture of Billie Piper with us. We also saw Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (voice of Abby Cadabby) do a panel, then stopped for lunch at Pete’s in Clarendon. Sunday after an Easter Egg Hunt at church I went back to get an autograph with Billie Piper (we couldn’t wait around the day before) and do some shopping. I stopped at Z-Burger to pick up tasty burgers on the way home, and walked in to “Daddy’s home – time to put on your underwear.”

Billie, Nina & Kerry

Jill’s mom, Sue arrived on Sunday while Melissa, Ava and Tiernan came on Tuesday. They went to the National Zoo with Jill and Nina on Thursday and to the American Doll store on Saturday the 26th. Only 2 bands drew me to Merriweather that summer: Extreme and Queen. The rainy Friday traffic was as dreadful as anticipated on the 25th, but I still saw Lita Ford’s mini Runaways reunion in her set. Extreme’s set was short but sweet, nice to see them with a big crowd singing along. I also got a free t-shirt (and wore it, ’cause it’s cold) and ZZ Top/Jeff Beck ticket courtesy of the 9:30 Club. Hometown heroes Kix put on a nice show to close the night. I was back the next afternoon to check out Jack Russell’s Great White, Stryper and the Geoff Tate-less Queensrÿche (verdict: very good) before heading home and out again with Jill to see Robbie Schaefer at Jammin’ Java for his CD release show with Jake Armerding and Rachael Davis. Great trio, deserving of more shows together.

Nina

Nina had missed it when her playground friends moved away, but this month she started developing a strong friendship with Felix, who lives 4 houses away. He’s a year older, but they play very well together. It helps that his parents are very friendly too. The only bad thing is they ask to play together almost every day, and we have to turn them down sometimes.

Felix and Nina

March

Saturday the 1st we had lunch at t’Kila ’cause of a daily deal and it was delicious. That night I had been planning on going to see the Eagles (mostly ’cause Bernie was touring with them), but hadn’t bought a ticket. But I bought one off StubHub at 5PM, 90 minutes later I was finishing off my Shake Shack burger and about to go in (Good thing Jill’s mom came to visit). Excellent show – this is pretty accurate.

Sue Nina

The following day was nice (and the snow duck melted as we watched a fat little squirrel eat the carrot and raisins), but I was at work because I knew school would be closed the next day. I was right, and was home on Monday. I finally broke out the princess costume and doll (Nina loved it) and we played outside quite a bit.

Nina

Thursday the 6th Nina discovered the wonders of peanut butter and chocolate pudding – on bread. Saturday we had our 5th overnight getaway without Nina tonight (who had a vegetarian dinner with Jill’s mom and friends and my guess is lots of french fries). We had a nice dinner at a bistro in Lovettsville, saw Todd Wright play lots of new songs at a coffee shop in Leesburg, then stayed at a B&B a little bit west. If only we hadn’t lost an hour of sleep that night. Sunday Nina finally managed to stay on her bike for more than a couple seconds. was the “True Detective” season finale (unexpected, amazing show). I prepared by teaching Nina how to say “Alright, alright, alright”. It nearly gave me an anxiety attack – who knew we’d finally find a worthy successor to Twin Peaks?

Nina Jill

Monday the 10th I bought 3 tickets for Queen + Adam Lambert, 2 for Dan Wilson (ex-Semisonic) and 1 for Sting + Paul Simon. That was all my entertainment budget for a while. Jill’s mom came with her to Nina’s gymnastics class that Wednesday. The Sting + Paul Simon show was Thursday, and was an unexpected pairing that somehow just worked (points to the 14 other musicians in their bands). And 5 Graceland songs was just the cherry on top. Plus some spicy Thai for dinner before the show with Stuart and Susan was a bonus.

Nina Jill

Friday Nina learned how to get on the monkey bars by herself. Saturday Nina got her first real injury with me when she ran into a door when I was opening it, but she’s a trooper. We had an early St. Patrick’s Day lunch so Nina could have it with both grandmothers. Too bad she wasn’t interested in the corned beef. Sunday Nina had her first shower. It was because she had a bandaid on her foot, but no crying at all. Later I shoveled 5 inches of snow. I hoped it stopped so they didn’t close snow camp the next day.

Nina Nancy

Wednesday the 19th Jill and Nina drove with her Mom to Holyoke. The second night of bachelorhood I slept in and worked late, then it was time for dinner and TV – such an exciting life I lead. The third night (Friday) I switched it up a little, went to the Barns at Wolf Trap to see indie-folkers Bombadil and Pearl & the Beard. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many hipsters outside DC.

Nina

The weekend was very busy as I had a 3 home improvement projects, culminating in building a new bed for Nina. How do you describe it when a piece of lumber slides out of you car because of some numbnut cutting in front of you and slamming on the brake, then you swing back around to pick it up and it’s just fine? Victory. It only took 15 minutes to remember how much I hate sawing (and blisters). Then it was time to make like Dylan and go electric. Saturday night I finally got to see a musical Jill doesn’t want to see – Xanadu (yes I’m straight, just a huge Jeff Lynne fan). Sunday I saw my mom in a musical salute to Reston, finished Nina’s bed, and sliced my finger deep enough that I’m on my 3rd band-aid. I was looking forward to seeing my girls the next day, but the next bachelor weekend I’m going to take a day off. Nina and Jill also kept busy, visiting the Holyoke Children’s Museum and the Holyoke St. Paddy’s parade.

Jill Melissa

Monday the 24th they took the train down and I picked them up at Union Station. Thursday the 27th Jill and I went to see Red Molly with Mark Erelli opening, then Sunday the 30th we got more snow, and we were all pretty tired of it. That night we had a dance party in the kitchen with R.E.M. and Republica that devolved into a hockey game (with a broom and a Swiffer).

Jill

February

At the end of January, we were having a mini-vacation at Split Rock Resort in the Poconos with the Chambers. Saturday the 1st the moms watched the girls while the dads went skiing together – this time at Jack Frost, sister slope to Big Boulder. The ladies also took in the water park later and we all got to relax in front of the fireplace. Two days skiing, sleeping in, eating takeout – we really need to vacation more often. And when we bring along a playmate Nina’s age, sometimes all we have to do is sit back and watch. Sunday we had a relaxing trip home and a great lunch, followed by a big game blowout courtesy of the Jewells (at least the food was great, commercials mostly meh).

Nina

Monday I thought that while we had one of the band members in mind when we named her, I was afraid if I let Nina eat any more blueberries tonight she would have turned into the actual Veruca Salt. Tuesday we had a lovely ice storm at night, which resulted in a fun dog walk – brought back memories of the Fairfax Ice Arena. Thursday Nina had fun playing with 5 Monsters, Inc balloons a coworker had used as a birthday prank. Friday night’s entertainment was chamber-folkies (and Falcon Ridge vets) Winterpills, opening up for Luray at Iota. I like them so much I got Mom to babysit and flew solo (Jill was working) – totally worth it.

Nina

Saturday the 8th Nina was our dance/exercise instructor during pre-bedtime dance party. She’s tough, too – we’re worn out. “Kick like this, Mama!” “March in place!”. Sunday Nina helped me cook pizza (we had a fundraising kit from Little Caesar). Monday I sang her to sleep with “Closer To The Heart”, “Nothing Else Matters”, and “Crazy Train”. I’ll be in trouble 14 years from now.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 12th we were cozy and ready for the snow. And the only thing I needed at the grocery store the night before was roses. Of course I was up way too late working on a project – again. Karma meant she woke up with a stomach bug later that night. Thursday we were snowed in, but I worked from home downstairs while Jill took care of Nina. I remember when I was young and came back soaked from being outside in the snow, it was a good thing. Alas. It took four passes of shoveling until I was done. The worst irony of the day is that I spent 4 hours the night before putting Nina’s trampoline together so she wouldn’t be bored at home, but she didn’t have the energy (at least she was feeling better later in the evening).

Nina

Friday the 14th we split shifts to keep Nina at home. That night I was again at 0 days without a personal injury again. At least it was a teachable moment about first aid for burns – I hope everyone keeps a frosted beer mug in their freezer for emergencies. I think Nina was feeling better, though I’m really not certain what pairing m+ms with green beans means. She was definitely feeling better on Saturday, even went to music class (after mandatory snowman building), but Jill caught her stomach bug. Jill stayed in bed most of the day, and my mom came over as scheduled, so I went solo to Eddie From Ohio (and sat with the Jewells and Joel) and it was a great show.

Nina

Sunday and Monday I worked part of the day to both make up hours and get a little ahead. Although Monday it took me 11 minutes to get my mom to type in a single URL. 11 minutes. Sigh. Monday night Nina was jumping on her trampoline (she finally got to start jumping on it the day before) when she spotted my 10″ Fender bass guitar replica. “I have it”, she said. I let her play with it while we looked through a Rush tourbook and saw Geddy Lee playing it. Truly my daughter.

Nina

Wednesday the 19th I decided that Nina’s just about potty trained. She’s started excusing herself during dinner when she needs to go. I also showed her Neil Gaiman reading “Green Eggs and Ham” before bath time – it was a hit. Later I didn’t think there’d be ice when I walked Illa because I didn’t need a jacket. But when he lept over a snow bank to get back on the path, he went full Bambi on ice. Poor puppy. The next morning while coming out of the house I saw the go bag (ex-diaper). I figured I’d call Jill, but I heard the ringtone from the bag, so I drove towards her gym. She was going the other way on Sunset Hills, so I pulled a U-ie and we had a low speed chase until she pulled over at a bank on Sunrise Valley and we made the exchange.

Nina

Friday the 21st I enjoyed Nina getting her appetite back. And dinner was Boston Market FTW (2 pieces of chicken, plus a hashbrown), then her first second dinner in a while (cereal, but I didn’t care at that point). Of course not a minute later after that thought she wanted to see what the dog was doing and dragged her bowl on the floor. Sigh. Saturday after music class I took Nina shopping at Target for sunglasses and she picked out an Easter hat. That weekend I also spent time installing a chimney pillow downstairs and a new receiver, and we built a snowman that turned into a snow duck.

Nina

Nina’s current favorite food was cereal. Right before dinnertime on Monday the 24th, I was trying to explain what she was pulling out of a box and throwing around was packing material. She thought I said cereal, and I said she couldn’t have any, then we had full fetal position meltdown. In related news, Jill isn’t allowed to leave boxes around anymore. Thursday I learned another thing they never told you about parenting (#56 in a series): When your child removes the carrot from the snow duck, you have to fix it, even if it’s only 10 degrees out (luckily I could wait until I put my coat on).

Jill

New voicemail message

Most of the time being a grownup is a pain. The perceived freedom from a child’s viewpoint doesn’t really exist. But sometimes you can take a wish and make it come true. Check out our new voicemail message, courtesy of Simon Jones (better known as “Arthur Dent” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

(via a Kickstarter project)

January

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.

Nina

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.

Nina

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

December

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).

Nina

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).

Nina

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.

Nina

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

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).

Nina

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