Looking glass


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


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


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


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


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

Nina Norwoods

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


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



Sunday the 1st I took Nina to Kidz Plaza for a friend’s birthday party. It was a little disconcerting since the last time we were there was for her birthday party, but she got over it quickly. She enjoyed herself at the Jewells’ Super Bowl party, but got a little crazy and we left early. Tuesday I mentioned that it’s hard to convince a 3 year old that Lucky Charms are more than a marshmallow delivery system.


Saturday the 7th we had lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger after gymnastics and Nina let us know that when she and BFF Felix have little kids, they’re going to live far away in South America. After a gorgeous day playing outside Sunday, we took Nina to The Old Brogue for an early show by Beth Patterson and she did pretty well (and we wished happy birthday to Bernard). Tuesday I decided that one great thing about being a grownup is getting to pair a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with beer (also Tuesday we got a new microwave after being without one for a week).


Thursday the 12th I participated in my first live auction, for props from the Coraline movie. Some pieces went for a lot of money, but I managed to get a pencil drawing of the Apartments, artwork with the 26 different faces of Coraline, and the centerpiece: an early design of the apartments’ porch.


Saturday the 14th Mom came over and we went to the Mosaic District for Valentine’s Day, got a seat at the bar at B Side in 10 minutes (our 1st choice), had a yummy dinner (delicious charcuterie, “pig wings”, and fries) as we watched the storm blow through, then a slippery walk over to the Angelika to see Kingsman (great adaption) before an ok drive home. Lake Thoreau had frozen over Friday, but the wind was so strong on Sunday it blew the ice apart (Nina enjoyed her cocoa and a fire in the fireplace). As a Saturday Night Live super geek, Sunday night’s 40th anniversary show was just about perfect. It was a good mix of clips and new sketches with old characters. I was surprised Paul McCartney blew his voice out the night before and Paul Simon didn’t come out with Miley Cyrus to sing his song. The best moment might have been unscripted – Jim Carrey asking Matt Layer on the red carpet where they were hiding Brian Williams.

Nina Kerry

Monday the 16th Nina put on a concert (including songs from Django Jones and Frozen). There was snow on Tuesday and Nina went sledding, then Saturday we got the most snow of the season and that meant another fire in the fireplace and Nina’s first s’mores. Sunday we built a big snowman together (Jill’s mom Sue was down for a visit and was a big help when school was closed).

Monday the 23rd I had to share a link about why record store clerks are pretentious because the record store I owned with my friends Eric, John, and Steve was EXACTLY like that. That night I went to see Neal Morse at the State Theatre because legendary drummer Mike Portnoy was playing with him. A great performance, but disconcerting because there was a group of guys next to me that must have been under 21 because they had Xs on their hands, and therefore not born the first time I saw Mike Portnoy play with Dream Theater at Hammerjacks (I won’t even get into them covering “Jet”, a 41 year old song).

Nina Jill

Tuesday the 24th I was a chaperone as Nina’s class went on a field trip to my old high school, W.T. Woodson, to see the planetarium. It was very hard to keep Nina and her 2 friends quiet, and odd to see the changes at the school. Saturday the 28th was a movie double header. We wanted to finally seeing Jupiter Ascending, but found out Run Lola Run was playing at the Alamo Drafthouse at a late show (I knew Jill would be up for a late showing because she has 2 copies of the soundtrack). We initially thought just dinner beforehand, then decide on a double feature with an early show at the Googleplex. Jupiter Ascending was worth it just for that shot of the spaceship coming up through the ring. Then we had a quick dinner at The Dons’ Wood-Fired Pizza before Run Lola Run (a fantastic movie that still holds up).

Jill Kerry Nina


Friday the 2nd I watched the broadcast of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Billy Joel. I didn’t embarrass myself too bad on TV, and they only caught me singing along once. I’m glad the show was almost as much fun to watch the second time. Billy Joel’s pretty awesome. Saturday we went to Shirlington (which has really changed), ate good Thai food and saw Diner with music by Sheryl Crow – really good show.

Kerry Hannah

Weather in the 60s was an excellent to time to visit Dad at the beach Sunday – Nina enjoyed the pirate ship off the boardwalk, and shocked us by eating and enjoying red clam sauce. She also got her last Christmas present: an electric Loog guitar. We picked up some Bojangles takeout for dinner that night on the way back. We thought Nina’s new Sofia the First nightgown was great as she got dressed for bed all by herself Sunday night. Monday night we raced the clock to wash it as then she wouldn’t wear anything else. Sigh.


Saturday the 10th I took Nina to a friend’s birthday at Jammin’ Java with Gustafer Yellowgold. Nina really enjoyed the show to the point of running off to meet the man behind the music as soon as the show ended. When your backing band has Sam Bush, Sara Watkins, Don Was, and Buddy Guy, you know it’s gonna be a good concert, and the tribute to Emmylou Harris (later that day) did not disappoint. And I got to return the favor to Hannah (who had a great backup plan of dinner at District Commons when Founding Farmers didn’t work out).


Too bad a fun day Saturday was followed by a flu day Sunday. 104 degree fevers do not a happy child make. Jill stayed home with her Monday and Tuesday (but she went solo to her company’s annual party at L’Auberge Chez Francois Monday). I was home with her on Wednesday, discovering her education had been neglected. No more princesses, that day it was Legos, remote controlled race cars and the complete Dream Theater discography. Thursday Jill needed some Indian food, so I stopped at Mayuri on the way home.


Saturday the 17th was our annual trip to see Eddie From Ohio during their 3 night stand at the Birchmere. Very happy to see Pat McGee open (and get copies of both shows), and we got to see the Jewells and Joel at intermission. We didn’t stick around to say hi to the band, as we had missed our chance to get milkshakes during Diner, so we darted off to Crystal City so I could try the toasted marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery (totally worth it).


Monday the 19th I had the day off and took Nina to the Building Zone at the National Building Museum. Too bad everyone else had the same idea and it was sold out for the whole day. Nina didn’t care too much as they left out some materials for kids to play with, she got to run around in an indoor space bigger than a football field and poke through the gift shop. The McDonald’s at Verizon Center was a hectic mess, but she enjoyed her lunch.


Saturday the 24th I learned a homeowner pro tip: answering the door in just a towel causes Jehovah’s Witnesses to leave immediately. Later that night was movie night at Nina’s school. The kids voted so we watched Frozen, of course. She finally made it all the way through (not a fan of Marshmallow, we had been fast-forwarding through his appearances). Sunday night I went to see Extreme perform their second album in Baltimore. Hard to believe “More Than Words” is 25 years old, but they still sound great. And I finally got to hear “Song For Love”.


Monday the 26th Jill and I went to see Robbie Schaefer try out a new weekly series of music and discussion called The Elephant Sessions. Saturday the 31st we watched Sleeping Beauty and ate Jill’s homemade popcorn and Nina watched the whole thing (minus a little fast forwarding during the dragon battle).



Monday December 3rd I went to Nina’s ballet “recital” (one dance to “Let It Go”), then that night she started working blue:
Let it go,
let it go,
poop in your pants



Saturday the 6th the best thing about my 20th Dar Williams show was all the songs I hadn’t heard live before, thanks to her playing The Honesty Room straight through (with 2 accompianists and only 4 other songs in the set). Plus we got to tell her how weird it was seeing her play “Iowa” without a hill full of lights (and that Chris Chin was sorry he couldn’t make it, but she already knew that). And we finally got frickles again thanks to the Del Ray Pizzeria (who also makes a mean burger). Sunday Nina had a great time at Kidz Plaza for Olivia G.’s birthday party.

Jill Dar Kerry

Tuesday the 9th Jill joined Nina’s class for their annual trip to Discovery Theatre in D.C. for the play “Season of Lights.” That night was my last concert of the year as I snuck away to Jammin’ Java between dinner time and bedtime to see Winterpills. Their new covers CD is good, as are the new songs they debuted. And a brand new thing happened as they were the first concert I saw in 2014 as well. Thursday morning Nina made up new verses to “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”:
Mosquito, Mosquito, what do you see?
I see a Blackbird looking at me.


Saturday the 13th was our annual holiday party. Nina had a small cold and cough (but not enough to keep her running around like a maniac at gymnastics earlier) and 7 kids showed up, she had a blast. Wednesday morning Nina wanted toast, then a biscuit, then more toast. On my way back from making the 2nd piece of toast, I noticed tiny little bite marks on the stick of butter. She told me she was hungry. #mydaughterisabutterfiend


Nina loves Red Light/Green Light and sometimes we play it in the car. We came up with Purple Light, which means we can dance at long lights. Now Nina likes to call for both Green Light and Purple Light as we walk to school. Luckily we don’t see many people on the path in the morning (like Friday morning).


Saturday the 20th we left for Christmas vacation. The trip north was long, but when we decided to stop for pizza in New Haven, we went to Pepe’s. Good decision (and there’s a playground a block away). Only the 2nd time we’ve come up through New York City in all the years we’ve been coming up.


It was an exhausting yet fun week, with all of us gone through various states of sickness – Nina to the doctor on Monday, and Jill to the ER on Christmas Eve (she was OK, just sinusitis that spread to the ear and eye). Sunday we were at Jill’s dad’s for lunch and Christmas we were at the Brady’s for dinner, and the Cannons came out to visit on Monday. Nina was especially excited to spend time with Ava, her youngest cousin.


We managed to extend our streak of holiday eves spent in the ER to 2 when Nina had an allergic reaction on New Year’s Eve (stoopid Breyers). But she was thankfully ok.

Artists To Watch 2015

Again 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.

This year was marked by a lot of unexpected collaborations.

Band Song Why them
01. The Family Crest Beneath The Brine Unexpected instrumentation and tempo.
02. Robbie Schaefer No More Goodbyes Collaboration #1: Robbie formed a trio for this recording with Jake Armerding and Rachael Davis.
03. Bobtown Across The River Falcon Ridge faves with fine voices melding together.
04. The Silent War We Are Broken Collaboration #2: Adrianne Gonzalez and Garrison Starr join forces officially.
05. Team Mathias A Thousand Years Collaboration #3: Todd Wright with Toby Lightman and Taylor Carson to raise funds for Team Mathias.
06. Early Winters Love Won’t Leave Me Alone Carina Round plays with Puscifer and Tears for Fears and of course formed an Americana band with harmonies.
07. Pearl and the Beard You A folk-pop trio I saw on a whim at Barns At Wolf Trap when the family was out of town.
08. Space Elevator Elevator And now it’s time for the big dumb rock with harmonies. Speaking of…
09. Hurtsmile Rock & Roll Cliché Extreme’s Gary Cherone is back with a band that tends towards the harder side.
10. The Both Milwaukee Collaboration #4: Didja know Aimee Mann and Ted Leo formed a band? And it’s good?
11. The Grownup Noise New Outsiders Catchy pop, just got a nice review here.
12. Toby Lightman Running From Love More dance oriented that her last album, but still a great chorus.
13. Coin It’s Okay Power poppers found because they toured with Jukebox the Ghost.
14. Owen Danoff Never Been Kissed Local (and son of Bill Danoff) does just fine on his own.
15. The Once We Are All Running Canadian folkies with nice harmonies.
16. Johnnyswim Diamonds Husband and wife duo with a big sound.
17. Twin Forks Back To You Collaboration #5: Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba starts an Americana band and it’s darn good.
18. Dan Wilson I Can Never Stay Mad at You And I can never stay away from the beautiful pop from the ex-Semisonic frontman.
19. The Whiskey Switch Minnesota Collaboration #6: Luke Brindley forms a trio with Taylor Swift sideman Mike Meadows on banjo and mandolin and Laura Tsaggaris.
20. Mouths of Babes River On Your Right Collaboration #7: Girlyman’s Ty Greenstein and Coyote Grace’s Ingrid Elizabeth form a band (and couple).
21. We’re About 9 A Beautiful Fear (Write It All Down) Locals still making some damn good music.


Tuesday the 4th Sterling from Sterling Portraits came over to take family pictures. He really captured the essence of Nina. I like the family one below, but you can see the whole set here.

Illa Kerry Nina Jill

After accompanying Nina and her class on a field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian as a chaperone for her and 2 other girls on Friday, I can conclude that her teachers don’t get paid nearly enough. Zandra, a woman from the Navaho Nation, shared a story from her nation about Geraldine the Goat and a rug. After story time, we visited the imagiNATIONS Activity Center – that was her favorite part.


Saturday Nina had her medal ceremony at gymnastics, and later she went to neighbor Jack’s birthday party at Life Champ Martial Arts where they had a pizza party. That night I wanted to see Winterpills, but didn’t. They were playing at Iota, and I left at Nina’s bedtime with plenty of time to get there (and fully expecting them to go on late, ’cause Iota often runs late). But they switched spots with their opener – at least The Grownup Noise was really good.


Tuesday the 11th I headed downtown around 4PM, got off at Metro Center and picked up a Chimichurri sandwich at White Apron Specialty Sandwiches before getting through the security line at the National Mall around 5:30. I was too late to get close (they’d closed off several blocks at the front) and ended up about 3 blocks away from the stage for The Concert For Valor (and with surprisingly good cell service). Dave Grohl was great solo and with the Zac Brown Band and Bruce Springsteen, and I never expected to see Metallica there (and thunderously great).


Wednesday was another solo outing at bedtime for Nina, this time to see Amanda Palmer at Sixth & I. I got there late, but still saw some of her interview with Thomas Dolby and her music set. I think I got more up close and personal with her than with any of the acts on the Mall the night before (or maybe a vintage Neil Gaiman shirt works on her like Axe body spray).

Kerry AFP

Friday my work had a party at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. One of the daughters of my coworkers and her friends offered babysitting, so we got Nina some Wendy’s takeout and dropped her off at a nearby hotel. It was a fun evening, and not surprising to us that she was still awake when we picked her up at 10:30.

Kerry Jill

Saturday the 15th I had Nina all day so Jill could take a class. We ended up over at Felix’s house with his sister and 2 other kids running around. I think I enjoyed that more than the next day when I went to the Skins game with my dad. It’s getting harder to watch these games – in the 4th quarter the place started emptying out and we got caught in some horrible traffic getting out.


Wednesday the 19th I got to Constitution Hall at the last minute (thanks to a nearly 30 minute wait between trains) for the presentation of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Billy Joel. Our friend Hannah does a lot of hard work behind the scenes, and she offered me her extra ticket. Little did I know until I got there she got us seats in the 2nd row. The show was great, and for once I don’t think I’ll have to look hard to see myself on TV (I’ve never been so self conscious as when a cameraman is kneeling with his camera a foot from my face).

Billy Joel

Friday Nina was sick and stayed home to the immense disappointment of her and my mom, since both were planning on attending her school’s Thanksgiving luncheon (Nina had helped make decorations and the squash soup). Saturday was my fifth time out solo in 2 weeks (it’s good to have an understanding spouse). I didn’t leave the house ’til 9:45PM, but still made it to the 9:30 Club in time to see Neko Case and the rest of the New Pornographers put on a great show. Monday I wasn’t sure if I was happier that my cold or Nina’s cold was done.


My sister Sharon flew in with her husband Tom on Tuesday the 25th. My dad wasn’t able to come on Thanksgiving, but he came over on Wednesday and Sharon and I spent the morning going through old photos with him before Jill, Nina, and Tom joined us for grilled ham and cheese sandwiches (I worked from home later, it was sleety/snowy). Later Nina made a chocolate pudding pie with Jill. On Thanksgiving we cooked in the afternoon and my mom joined us for the traditional dinner.

Bryce Sharon Kerry

Friday Nina and I dropped Sharon and Tom off at Dulles, then drove over to Chibis, where Nina ran around nearly the whole time. We got Wendy’s for lunch on the way home (she was obsessed with cheeseburgers lately). After Jill got home from work, we went over to Reston Town Center where Santa came to light the Christmas tree, then the Reston Chorale (including Mom) sang holiday songs before Nina got cold and we left.

Jill Nina Kerry

Saturday the 29th we picked up our Christmas tree and Mom came over early so she, Jill, and Nina could decorate it. In the evening Jill and I went out and had dinner at Maple Ave (duck leg confit and beer float were excellent) before seeing Stephen Kellogg at the Barns At Wolf Trap and then making a last minute decision (decided by my nearly empty gas tank) to catch the end of The Excentrics set at Jammin’ Java. Jill asked if seeing 4 songs was worth it – when 2 of them are my favorites, absolutely.



Monday the 1st I never knew what I was going to get after bathtime. That night we were the Neverland pirates looking for gold doubloons, while the night before Nina performed a concert and she took requests (I wanted to hear “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”).


Saturday it was too bad emmet swimming didn’t play “You’re So Pretty”, because it would have been the perfect pairing of Fairfax songs with “Tank Farm Free” by opener Smartbomb at the State Theatre. Nice sets by both bands (loved the piano outro on “Motorway” and the addition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during “So Lonely”). Sunday we took Nina to the Fall For Fairfax where she had a fun time seeing animals and playing. Later I knew it was gonna get loud in the Frey household at Christmas because I strung my first guitar (pale pink).

emmet swimming

Monday the 6th Nina had her first field trip to Ballentine Farm to see animals and pumpkins. Wednesday Nina and I had an argument over whether socks and pants were necessary to go to school. I won it by having her go outside in nothing but a shirt to see how cold it was. I think I’m definitely in the running for parent of the year. Also, we think we know why she’s sleeping so late – she’s grown almost an inch and a half in a little over a month since her birthday. At this rate she’ll be taller than Steve Curtis.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 11th we flew up to Hartford where Dave picked us up. Robin and Mike had been convinced to have a party celebrating their wedding the following day, and Jill wanted to help get ready. We picked up hot dogs for lunch on the way in at Nick’s Nest, then I took Nina and her cousin Ava acorn hunting (for decorations) while Jill and her sisters decorated and her mom and Dave cooked. Jill and I ducked out for a quick trip to Northampton (and a beer) before we had Chinese food for dinner courtesy of Mike’s parents.

Dave Sue

The next day Jill left early with Dave to help set up while I hung out with Nina and helped Sue a bit. We drove over to Stanley Park with Gram, then helped deliver the food while Nina ran around with all her cousins. The roasted pig went fast, as did most of the food. It was cool enough for jackets, but still an enjoyable day outside. The next morning we got up early to drive to the airport and fly home (I ended up working half a day). The oddest thing was being on the same flight as my coworker Marc and his family both ways (2nd oddest was them fixing a mechanical problem on the way up by pulling a panel in the middle of the aisle while we sat there).

Melissa Robin Jill

Wednesday the 15th I gave thanks to the rain – it’s been a long time since I’ve needed a complete change of outfit (skies opened as we hit the tunnel). Luckily Nina had a change of clothes at school. Friday Nina learned she did like Snickers ice cream bars (she said she wouldn’t because she “doesn’t like peanuts”) and put the first two coins in her piggy bank. Later I made a playlist of all the music I have from 2014. Even taking out the live tracks, I had over 50 hours of music listen to to choose my favorite 20 for my annual list.


Saturday the 18th I took Nina to the Reston Community Center after lunch for their Halloween Family Fun Day. They had games with candy for prizes, a puppet show, and her favorite a bounce house. Sunday her classmate had a birthday party and yet another bounce house, but it was cold enough she had to go inside twice to warm up (there were plenty of toys as consolation). Later we met up with my dad and mom to celebrate my birthday early at Don Pablo’s, had carrot cake cupcakes my mom made for dessert, then Jill and I went to see Paula Cole at the Barns At Wolf Trap for the best show I’ve seen by her.

Paula Cole

Wednesday was my birthday. I had a massage after work, then Jill brought home Chinese takeout. The cream cheese pumpkin cupcakes Jill and Nina made were excellent; the evening ending tantrum by Nina and the poop Illa left downstairs were not as fun. But then it was time for TV and a glass of Jameson. I explained to the dog later it was better if he pooped in the kitchen or the dining room. The next morning morning I got my wish – he pooped both places. Too bad he also peed on the stairs (note to self: add gusty winds to the things he’s terrified of). I also got to argue with Nina for 20 minutes about using the toilet in the morning (I “won” because she sat on it for 5 seconds).


Friday my birthday gift to myself was a solo night out seeing The Jayhawks (v3.0 1997-2003) at the 9:30 Club then the tasty lamb dip and a beer at Right Proper. I considered lurking outside the Black Cat to try and get into the Foo Fighters show but decided going home was a better idea. Nina quite enjoyed her trip to Wendy’s with Jill.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 25th Nina had a Halloween party at school where she played games and got a balloon elephant. She got extra time playing with her friend Briar as Jill and I volunteered to help clean up. Sunday Nina and Jill decorated their pumpkins by painting them. Nina managed to get paint everywhere, even wearing a smock.

Nina Jill

On Halloween I took Nina trick or treating (she dressed as Supergirl and I as Duff Man) alongside her BFF Felix as Iron Man. My mom came over and Jill and I took the subway (her first Silver Line ride) to arrive in DC minutes before Fleetwood Mac hit the stage. Christine McVie’s long awaited return was incredible, Lindsey Buckingham is still the man. Post concert dinner at Daikaya was the best ramen I’ve ever had, then we costume watched on the Metro (I particularly enjoyed everyone at Gallery Place “finding” the Waldo on the other platform).

Kerry Nina


After the craziness of Nina’s birthday party and aftermath, it was nice to have a quiet Labor Day (and she opened more gifts) on Monday the 1st. Tuesday was her birthday and the first day of school – she thought it was ok, but was thrilled playing with her new fire station Legos at home.


Saturday the 6th she started gymnastics again, and that night my mom came over to babysit while Jill and I returned to Manassas for more Thai (the duck curry was very good) and then onto the Lube. I finally found what would make Jill tolerate Guns N’ Roses: not having Axl sing. Slash was great, and Aerosmith was pretty good too. Sunday I found out that the good thing about your favorite bands doing kids music is I can handle hearing The Jayhawks version of This Little Light of Mine 10 times in a row.


Tuesday the 8th Nina celebrated her birthday officially at school – Montessori has a little ceremony to mark the passage of time and Jill and I both came. They have a special song for the occasion and Jill made cupcakes for everyone.


Saturday the 13th Nina watched her first wedding (from our back deck), we finally tried Ted’s Bulletin (in Reston Town Center, tasty though few kids options Nina could eat) and had milkshakes at home for dessert. I could have dealt without the sleep deprived tantrums to end the day, but at least they all happened in private.


The end of Monday night the 15th (with Nina’s first fudge sundae) went better than Sunday night (with an angry hornet chasing the girls upstairs before I trapped it on the honey jar with the blender). Tuesday I discovered that screaming matches with a toddler and arriving 2 weeks early for your dental appointment is a remarkably effective way of warming up for the office.


Saturday the 20th was a very busy day. Between gymnastics, bouncy castle party and her first face painting at school, and a delicious steak dinner from the Jewells, Nina could barely stay awake for her bath and was out cold quickly. Sunday we took her to Cox Farms, where Nina had a great time on the rope swings and slides.


Nina can arrive at school between 8:30-9AM. Wednesday the 24th it was raining and I woke up first at 8:30, and it was a struggle to get to school by 9:10. And then I had to take someone else’s lunch to her. Thursday I set an alarm for 8, woke up an unresponsive toddler (just like her mother), went through two almost tantrums and one actual tantrum, and got her to school at 9:05. I just gave up.


Saturday the 27th Jill went to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival, so I took Nina to gymnastics, then to Alexandria where my mom was having her work picnic. Later we went to Fair Lakes where they were having a fall festival and Nina got to sit in a fire truck and jump in a bounce house. After that, the following conversation took place:
Nina: Where are we going?
Me: The beer store.
Nina: Don’t you have beer at home?
Me: LOL. Yes, but I need to buy more.

Mom Nina

Sunday I slept in, then Jill and Nina dropped me off on the way to go apple picking in Purcellville at a farm (Jill’s car was wonky the day before) and I took the Silver Line all the way into DC for the first time to meet up with my Dad to finally catch a Nats game this season. And see two things I’ve never seen before: Teddy winning and a no-hitter (from Jordan Zimmerman). I thought both were good omens for the postseason (I was wrong). When I got back Nina was still sleeping, so I walked home – took about 25 minutes. They had 20 lbs of apples when I got back, so I’d call there day a success too.


Monday the 29th it took us only an hour and 45 minutes to make it to Vienna, eat dinner at Noodles & Company, watch a concert and make it back home. Thanks to Jim Boggia for a great show (and a nice Sesame Street medley just for Nina).


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.


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 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 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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