When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had arrived in Great Barrington, MA. The next morning we took our time while we waited for Jill’s mom to visit (with our tent), went to Fuel for coffee, then made our way to Shantytowne, where it commenced raining as soon as I started putting up the tent. We had grilled cheese, avocado, and potato chips for lunch, but leaving at 3 was way past Nina’s usual nap time and she screamed much of the way back to the hotel, falling asleep seconds before we pulled in. Pizza for dinner is always a popular choice, and after a long wait we had some at Baba Louie’s post nap. We made it back to Falcon Ridge to see Vance Gilbert, Pesky J. Nixon, and Red Molly at the Lounge Stage (relocated to the Family Stage because of rain) and Nina had a fine old time dancing (even when nobody else was).
Friday we once again hit Fuel where Nina and I stayed for a while (she had seen the play kitchen the day before and wasn’t leaving without using it), then over to FRFF again for lunch and some of the Emerging Artist Showcase. We drove over to the Barrington Brewery for dinner, and Nina had a fine time running around until the rain started. It continued on and off as we drove back to FRFF, and we actually made it all the way to the parking lot and were listening to Dar Williams on the radio (87.7) when it started again. 2 of 3 Frey’s voted to give up and head back to the hotel (hopefully Nina will see “Iowa” on the hill another year).
Saturday we took far too long to get going, but still brought Dunkie’s coffee and donuts to Shantytowne. We hung out for a while, then brought Nina down to the family tent to see Red Molly. She could care less about them once she saw the bubble making implements, and she had a grand old time until she rubbed her eye with a soapy hand. Of course Jill had gone to the car to get more diapers (that night we discovered Jill had dropped her phone then as well), so I had to hold her up and rinse her eye (she hates rinsing, so lots of bloodcurdling screaming). She was fine after it was done and she could enjoy the toddler play area. We drove to Sheffield while she napped. She was a bit grumpy to have her nap interrupted, but happy to see two grandmas once we entered the cafe (B+ for sandwiches, D- for allergen knowledge). She went home with them and her cousin Ava, then we hit Guido’s Market for some salads for the potluck dinner Saturday night.
We did nothing but relax once we got back to Shantytowne (and Jill had her hair braided by Patty Tracey), then headed up to the Loozer’s Lounge where we waited for another hour because the pig was still cooking. But the wait was worth it, lots of fine food and drink, then back to camp for a bit before we got half of Moxy Fruvous on the Main Stage, then stayed for some of The Grand Slambovians (who were so loud we could hear them perfectly at camp without a radio). We chatted with folks more before most people went to bed – I took a quick jaunt to the Budgiedome to see bobtown before sleeping the latest I ever have at FRFF. Jill had gotten me a breakfast burrito, and I wolfed that down before we broke down camp. We caught the remainder of Gospel Wake Up Call before we left for Holyoke (with a detour to Great Barrington for the pillows we’d left behind at the motel). That night Nina spoke her first full sentence: “My hat, G.G.” (as Great-Gram was wearing her hat).
Monday the 5th we went to Whole Foods with Robin for lunch and shopping, then the Bradys had us over for a pool party and spaghetti, and Nina had a blast running around and swimming. Tuesday Nina had a great time at the Beachgrounds Park in South Hadley (spraying water is fun), followed by pizza at Grand-Mémé and Grand-Pépé’s with Pépé and Mémé. Wednesday we went to the Eric Carle museum with Jill’s mom and Nina’s cousins Ava and Jake, then Jill’s mom watched Nina and the cousins while the sisters and significant others had dinner at Slainte (the fried chicken was delicious). Also, Jill also joined the Android user population and bought a new phone.
On the trip home Thursday, Nina enjoyed her first White Castle visit, but only ate my bacon and a carton of fries (plus the avocado half we brought in). It wasn’t until we were on our way to the great kids park in Delaware that we realized this time last year Jill’s phone was also being mailed to her as she dropped it here.
Q: How do you turn a 6 hour trip home into taking 14 hours?
A: Have a toddler.
Although it would have been 11 hours, then the outer loop on the Beltway came to a halt. When I thought about going through DC instead and getting some dinner, it wasn’t hard to convince Jill to go to her favorite Mexican restaurant after we found Nina a playground nearby.
Friday the 9th we took the day off with Nina in daycare, but I had lots of errands to do. Once I picked her up, she had lots of surprises. Her new favorite word is “no” (a little sooner than I expected). Also she jumped off the swing, walked down the short slide, and climbed up the big slide and the little climbing wall. Saturday was more relaxing, had a lovely visit with the Midatlantic Shantytowners for lunch, then I got to sit on the deck for an hour after I prepped dinner. I grilled steak with a green pepper sauce for us and a hot dog for Nina (who promptly demanded another), then we all took a walk after dinner and ended up at Yogi Berry (Nina wasn’t interested). Her favorite part was feeding a goose on the way back thanks to a girl with a loaf of bread. On the last day of vacation, what started as a fur cleanup ended up me cleaning the entire middle level. Nina decided to add one more physical feat – going down the climbing wall at the playground, then had an epic meltdown when we waited a little too long for dinner. We were exhausted after that, hard to believe we were going back to work the next day.
Monday the 12th Nina was my kitchen helper. She programmed the microwave, turned on the toaster oven, and supervised the avocado chopping. After we didn’t go outside that evening ’cause I was feeling crappy, Nina let me know her opinion wholeheartedly. The next night I decided to go to Terraset, which was great because of the two 2 year olds and two 4 year olds she played with there. Bonus: even after the disastrous idea of everyone leaving at the same time (lots of running back and forth and hugs), we still got back 15 minutes before the huge storm that hit us. Wednesday we walked over to the South Lakes Village Center to eat at Flippin’ Pizza as Nina’s new school was having a fundraiser there (we were debating enrolling her in January, but at an open house Jill learned they run on a school year system, which meant this September or next September, and we decided to go sooner since she’s really starting to learn words and concepts). The geese and ducks afterwards might have been more of a hit.
Thursday the 15th I picked up some Potbelly takeout and we went to see IONA at Lake Anne. We thought Nina would want to dance like she did at the last couple concerts, but instead she wanted to run from one end to the other – again and again. And she wouldn’t eat when she’s out in public, had to wait ’til we got home to feed her a late dinner. Saturday we went to Leesburg, had dinner at MacDowell Brew Kitchen (tasty fried food), then caught some of Todd Wright before Nina was ready to go (it was late).
Monday the 19th Nina wouldn’t leave the house until I came back downstairs this morning, and then she wouldn’t let go of my hand. So if you saw a guy in a towel helping his daughter down the steps, that was me. And then she ran all the way to the sidewalk and realized I wasn’t behind her and proceeded to run all the way back up the stairs. Jill picked her up kicking and screaming to take to the car. Thankfully she calmed down as soon as she got into the car seat. Thursday she wanted some outdoor time before her nap, so Jill made a picnic which they had in the park across the street. Saturday we checked out Lake Fairfax a week prior to Nina’s birthday party there; she rode the carousel and the paddle boats and got her meltdowns out of the way. Sunday the 25th Jill’s company had their annual picnic, and Nina was old enough to enjoy herself. She had her first pony ride and loved playing in the bouncy castle and dancing for the DJ.
Thursday the 29th I went to the Nationals gave (vs. Diamondbacks) with my Dad. I think I have a new favorite player as Jayson Werth had some cool intro music (the theme from “Walking Dead”, the intro to “Warehouse” (with woos from the crowd) and “Werewolves Of London”) and it was a nice fast win (under 2.5 hours). Then Dad left, and I stuck around for Sammy Hagar with the Wabos. I was a little disappointed at first as Sammy was in the middle of his “Four Decades of Rock” tour with Michael Anthony, and this show was announced as a shorter show with just the Wabos. But as he started his 2nd Van Halen song, who should stroll out but Michael Anthony! It was awesome.
Jill’s mom came down for Nina’s birthday weekend, and Saturday the 31st we took advantage of her visiting to celebrate our anniversary a little early. We had a delicious dinner at the Atlas Room (the short rib ravioli is great), then saw the stage adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere at Rorschach Theatre. Very well done, and slightly better than the version I saw in LA in April. Meanwhile Nina and Sue had a outing over to the South Lakes Village Center for pizza and frozen yogurt (this time Nina ate some).