Looking glass


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


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


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


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

Kerry & Jill

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

Dominic, Nina, Ava

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

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

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


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

Nina Lorna

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

Nina Jill

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


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

Nina pony

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

Mikey and Sammy

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



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

Us, Dad and Patricia

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


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


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

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


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


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


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



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

Jill Nina

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


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

Dad Nina

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

At Mom's

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


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



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

Nina Kerry

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


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


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


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


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



After we returned from California, we took three more days of vacation, two with Nina in day care. We got lots of chores and errands done, plus great lunches at Bon Chon Chicken and Maple Ave Restaurant. The last day of vacation on Wednesday the 3rd was Nina centric: bouncy castles and a tot lot in the morning, Cheeburger Cheeburger for lunch, family walk after nap, roasted chicken for dinner, and Daniel Tiger before bedtime. I spent my Saturday night replacing a burner switch on the stove. Hopefully that’s the last of the home improvement for a while. That morning, if you’d asked me a year ago, I would’ve said I’d never let someone put their hands in my cereal bowl. Sometimes I’m amazed at what a soft touch I am.

Nina bouncing

Monday the 9th we had a poor little Nina. She threw up twice in the morning, then made it almost to bedtime. She felt better the next day. Thursday the 11th I walked outside with Nina after dinner as the wind blew. The cherry blossom petal storm we found ourselves in was strangely beautiful. Friday I realized when they ambushed me while walking downstairs that putting the dirty diapers on the balcony railing was a bad idea.


Jill took off to Solomons Island the weekend of the 13th for a knitting retreat. Nina and I did our usual weeknight routine on Saturday, but on Sunday we had a great time hosting brunch yesterday for the Cannons and Chris’s mum (Once one of us got over our shyness, of course).


Wednesday the 17th Jill and I had dinner at Oya (great cocktails and small plates), then headed over to Warner Theatre to meet the boys of Great Big Sea (a perk that came with a super deluxe version of their box set and danced through their smokin’ show.

Great Big Sea

The next morning it was my turn for a couple days off. So of course I headed back to California (and stopped at Five Guys in Dulles for an egg topped burger). The flight was nice, but I was pressed for time when I arrived, so I took an expensive taxi ride to the NOKIA Theatre in Los Angeles, where I watched Jennifer Hudson and Carole King rehearse with Paul Shaffer, Jim Keltner and Waddy Wachtel for that night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. During a break I walked over to Mendocino Farms for a Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi (delicious). I checked into my nearby hotel (Ritz Milner), then headed over to Casey’s Irish Pub for a Rush fan gathering. I only had a beer there, and figured I could get a bite to eat near the venue. Fail – the Kings were playing hockey that night, and between them and the Rush fans, every restaurant had an hour wait, so I had a hot dog in the venue.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was long but mostly enjoyable. Randy Newman was joined by John Fogerty, Tom Petty and Jackson Browne to kick things off, Cheech and Chong gave a funny induction speech, Gary Clark, Jr. jammed with John Mayer and Booker T. Jones and Heart was great doing “Barracuda” with Chris Cornell, Mike McCready and Jerry Cantrell. But the main event for me (and a majority of the crowd) was Rush. After Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins gave the induction speech and Rush spoke, the Foos returned dressed in the 2112 jumpsuits and played “2112 I:Overture”. Rush joined them for the end, then the Foos left and they did “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit Of Radio”. The finale was Crossroads (Cream arrangement), for which they were joined by Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Gary Clark Jr., John Fogerty, Ann & Nancy Wilson, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Chuck D and DMC. Amazing, although the best part might have been the beginning, when we shut Jann Wenner up by cheering for 5 solid minutes.


I could’ve slept in longer on Friday (stoopid east coast body clock), had my second egg topped burger in as many days at Fuku, and spent the afternoon at Amoeba Music (19 CDs). That night I had dinner at The Faculty (good reuben, and managed to run into someone who gave me a hint about the next Fiddler’s Green), then I saw a stage version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Having listened to the radio version when we were there the month before, I was concerned it had a lot to live up to. I needn’t have worried, the cast is amazing (and kept me awake the whole time, significant with the lack of sleep I’d had). My flight back the next day was fairly uneventful.

Sunday the 21st Nina took her next step in giving us heart attacks – she climbed her first tree. And I highly doubt it will be her last, she’s a natural. Later that evening I returned to the Warner Theatre solo to cross yet another thing off the bucket list, seeing Kevin Smith (with Jason Mewes) do a q&a after their new movie (perfect for 12 year old boys).

Jay & Bob

The night of Monday the 23rd, Nina ate more mac and cheese than I did. The next morning she saw her shadow for the first time. Friday the 26th Jill and I had a lovely dinner outside at L’Auberge Chez Francois (actually Jacques’ Brasserie behind the restaurant), then saw Jake Armerding and Robbie Schaefer at Barns At Wolf Trap.


Daycare was closed for spring break, so Saturday morning Jill flew up with Nina to Holyoke. I had lots of
chores to do, but did go shopping that afternoon (only bringing home CDs and beer) and was shocked to be driving on the Dulles Toll Road and see a Metro train just now. Go Silver Line! Sunday I saw Red Molly at The Hamilton with the brothers Jewell and Susan, then kept up the pace seeing South Rail and Sons Of Fathers Monday at Jammin’ Java.

Red Molly

I ended up doing 4 concerts in 5 nights after going out Tuesday as well. Two ticket exchanges fell through, but got my ticket just as How To Destroy Angels was going onstage. They were great, especially watching Trent Reznor rock out behind a stage setup that looks like a NIN video come to life. And quite possibly the best lighting I’ve ever seen.



Jill’s mom Sue was still with us at the start of the month. Wednesday the 6th what was supposed to be a big snowstorm still dumped some snow on us, but the rain that followed it later melted most of it. I slept in ’til 8, made cheesy sausage biscuits and moved my massage to late morning, then started working from home when Nina went down for her nap. It was a late night for me, but a nice morning. Friday the 8th Jill and I had a late dinner at Ford’s Fish Shack since Sue was leaving the next day – very good fish and chips. Saturday I took Nina to see The Diggity Dudes at Jammin’ Java – she spent most of her time climbing on the tables in front.

Nina and Jill

Monday the 12th Nina had a fit that she couldn’t try my beer – it’s hard to explain to someone that she has to wait 19.5 years to try it. Saturday the 16th we had my mom over for lunch to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – I thought one piece of corned beef would be enough, but she and Nina cleaned us out at lunch. I needed to resupply for Reubens the next day. Later that day I got my first tattoo – it’s “Smiley” (aka “Cosmic Cutie”) from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, done by Anya at The Body Gallery. I picked up some BBQ at Willard’s for dinner – Nina likes BBQ.


So it was on Monday the 18th that the Nina first ran with scissors (to be fair, we had not told her she couldn’t before). I’m pretty sure that’s the 247th gray hair she’s caused. At least 3 that day. Saturday the 23rd Nina got her first haircut, from Blanca at Shear Pleasure (my regular stylist). I was working some long hours at work for a project, and had already worked 8 hours on Monday the 25th, after going in the night before (6:30PM, after a sensible dinner of hot wings from the Buffalo Wing Factory). I thought Nina would still be sick from her cold and might need to stay home, but it turned out daycare was closed due to snow. Oh well, same result – I just wished I had more than 3 hours of sleep. Nina enjoyed her introduction to sledding, though.


My sister, Sharon, was getting married at the end of March – in California. So ready or not, we flew out on Wednesday the 27th. We managed to make it through a 5 hour flight with a screaming toddler – in the row behind us (though Nina did her share of screaming, the extra room on Virgin really helped). We landed in LA, then drove down to Carlsbad (nearest place to Laguna Beach using resort points). We stopped at Pizza Port Brewing Company for lunch, then found a nearby farmer’s market (which ended up the only place we shopped in Carlsbad besides the minimart in the resort). We checked in at the Sheraton Resort and it wasn’t long before we crashed (most of us – Jill went down to the bar for a couple glasses of Pinot Gris and a chili/grilled shrimp mini concoction).


I don’t know if it was the early morning or short nap, but Nina slept for 13 hours, putting herself nicely on California time. We went to the aquarium at Legoland (Nina loved it), then had a very nice lunch at the hotel. Bonus: she’s started saying her name (Jill thinks it’s especially cute how she says it: Neee NAH!). After her nap, we drove up to Laguna Beach to have dinner with Sharon, her fiancé Tom, and all the parents at The Lumberyard. We had to eat early and still left after Nina’s bedtime.


Friday morning, my dad and his cousin Vernalee came to visit us while his girlfriend Patricia did some coursework, then I rode with them over to the wedding site to help set up. After a nap, Nina and Jill joined us and we went through the rehearsal. At dusk, we drove over to the Aliso Beach Park to have a BBQ on the beach (Nina touched an ocean for the first time).


Saturday the 30th was complex. We had to check out of our hotel, bring our stuff over to my dad’s room at the Aliso Creek Inn in Laguna Beach where we were also staying that night, change, and get over to the wedding on time. It was tricky, but we managed. Nina was a flower girl, and the only problem was they practiced so much putting the petals back in the basket, that’s what she did during the ceremony.


But everyone thought that was cute, and the rest of the ceremony went off without a hitch. We took pictures afterwards, then had dinner outside (at the very nice beachview house friends had let them borrow). No nap meant we couldn’t stay long (not even for cake), but my Dad and Patricia joined us for some drinks later back at the hotel. The flight home Sunday wasn’t quite as smooth as the trip out, but we got back home safely – she’s a pretty good flyer. Also, the BBC audio adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was an excellent road trip accompaniment during our drives. Besides her name being favorite word this month, she liked to wave hi and bye and play with her ball.



February came in like – wait, what kind of creature is sub freezing temperatures, 70s, huge rainstorms, snow, and sub freezing temperatures again? I’ve always said we get the seasons here, but I didn’t mean all in the same week. Nina made me wonder if the terrible 17 months is a thing, then on Saturday the 2nd Jill and I went to my company’s holiday party (babysitting by Grandmère as usual). The next day I was kinda bummed that the Super Bowl party I was going to was canceled (Stewart was under the weather) – especially since that meant I wouldn’t start watching until Nina went bed. But I was able to skip the power outage, and it was a good game (felt the commercials were more meh this year).


Friday the 8th Jill and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early. We stayed at Adam’s Inn in Adams Morgan and had a wonderful dinner at Cashion’s Eat Place, then bar hopped over to Napoleon. The next morning we had an amazing dim sum brunch at The Source. Never has a dish named “Hangover Eggs” been more welcomed. Delicious (and the duck banh mi and the shrimp dumpling and everything else). Later we headed home (Jill’s mom was in town to watch Nina overnight).

Jill with Nina

Saturday the 16th we had a lovely evening thanks to two grandmothers watching Nina. Thai for dinner with old friends, then Eddie From Ohio with Jake Armerding at the Birchmere. Sunday Nina climbed onto a chair on the kitchen table (as she’s been doing), grabbed crayons, and colored by herself for the first time.

Nina & Jill

Friday the 22nd I wondered why it is when it’s 32 degrees out does Nina take her shoes and socks off before she leaves the car, and then squirms and squeals to get down and walk around? Saturday the 23rd Jill and I had dinner at 2941, and I got a sign from the universe I’m exactly where I should be. At age 42, I had my first Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. Tasty cocktail. The next day I had an afternoon off starting with a bar hop – Flying Dog Gruit (hopless!) at World Of Beer, and 3 barleywine tastes at Mad Fox (Duck-Rabbit the clear winner) before 90 minutes at CD Cellar.

Nina & Kerry

The last week of February was Nina’s reign of tub poop terror. 3 nights in a row she went after a bath, the first night she tried to dance on that area while I was cleaning it up. Thursday the 28th Jill and her mom took Nina to Frying Pan Park for the first time, she liked the sheep and was scared of the pigs. Word of the month was “pizza” and she liked playing with the magnets on the fridge.

Nina & Jill


Tuesday the 1st I was worried Nina would not like the buttermilk pancakes I made (no previous pancakes had made the cut). But not only did she eat one (and a sausage), an hour later she had another one (and a sausage). The next night I finally watched the Kennedy Center Honors television broadcast – bummed they cut a couple songs. I don’t know what the name is for the action of trying to watch for yourself on TV is, but it’s an odd one – there’s a nice clear shot of us during the first Buddy Guy ovation. Amusingly, you can also see us leaving during Caroline Kennedy’s speech at the end.


Friday the 4th I was cranking Megadeth and playing along on bongos with Nina – just because. Saturday we went to Sunflower, a vegetarian restaurant in Vienna, tonight. Nina liked it ok, but her favorite thing was the aquarium – I think every restaurant should have one. I didn’t find the Ravens/Colts game the next day that exciting – fell asleep in the middle. Too bad the Skins playoff hopes buckled like RGIII’s knee later, I didn’t sleep through that one. Monday I knew Nina’s favorite color was red – she was walking around with a red toy egg and red ball, and got upset when she got another colored ball.


Friday the 11th I finally got a flu shot after calling 7 places – there were shortages, and the pharmacies close to home had been out for weeks. Saturday I took Nina to Meadow Lane Park, her fave with so many outdoor toys. Monday the 14th we had the best food at a company party ever. From now on, I’d be perfectly happy to have all of them at L’Auberge Chez François, where Jill’s work took over the whole restaurant. So delicious. But one night: 4 star restaurant. Next night: dog poop on the landing and a child trying to lick the kitchen floor. Sigh (then avocado on my back and a grande finale of a poop in the tub – just as I was about to dry her off).


Sunday the 20th the Cozads dropped by to visit while biking and on the 21st daycare was closed, I was off and Jill wasn’t, so I took Nina to Chibi’s (almost full, no surprise on Martin Luther King Day). Later it was weird watching the inauguration on my DVR, especially since I’ve been there a number of times (my dad and I even started heading to DC for Reagan’s frigid second one, before the public ceremony was cancelled). Could definitely hear better than last time, though. The next night Nina broke her first glass (a Yankee Candle). I have a feeling it won’t be her last.


Thursday the 24th was a fabulous morning – snow, dog pee on the carpet, and finally smacked a car in the parking lot at work after I skidded during a turn, and my headlight was cracked and the door won’t open. The next day I was only at work for a little bit before seeing an insurance adjuster, then never went back to work because Nina was sent home with strep throat symptoms (and an epic fail from South Lakes CVS to give her a prescription – Safeway’s computers were down too, but they still got it done). Saturday I was out to run errands, picked up some Peruvian chicken and local beer for dinner.


Monday the 28th I was convinced I wouldn’t be at work – daycare lady called me the night before and reminded me that on teacher workdays, they get to decide if they’re closed or not (otherwise they follow Fairfax County). But they opened late and I made it in – good thing as I didn’t want to burn another vacation day. Since Jill works late on Mondays and Tuesdays, she doesn’t eat dinner with me on Monday’s, so I eat with Nina then, and I’ve made Mondays fried chicken nights. We’ve really bonded over our mutual love of Banquet fried chicken. We also got our groove on to “Physical Graffiti” that night.

Nina’s favorite book this month was Neil Gaiman’s Chu’s Day – I even got her panda a shirt to match. Her favorite new word was “hot”.


Jill took Nina over to another new favorite spot on Wednesday the 30th – the tot lot near Wegmans in Ashburn.



When the Kennedy Center Honors were announced in the summer, I acted immediately, calling the Kennedy Center that day. But all I could do was leave a message, which eventually resulted in a letter in November letting me know that tickets were sold out, but if I sent my credit card info, I could get on the waiting list. I had a feeling we might make it, and I called them a couple days earlier to ask if I should get a babysitter for the evening (and was told I’d probably need one, but no promises).


Still, it was a bit of a shock to get the call at noon on December 1st, since the show was the next evening. But Jill was a trouper and scored a gown in a couple hours (we even had lunch out at Don Churro, until Nina got fed up with waiting for the food, and we fed her there and got ours to go), and got her hair and nails done on Sunday. We had dinner at RIS (tasty charcuterie and cocktails), then past security and into the show.

Fancy dress

The main reason I wanted to go was Led Zeppelin being inducted (the inductees never perform, but I love watching the tributes as well as the chance that they might break the rules). But the whole ceremony was fun – Tina Fey inducting David Letterman and Jeff Beck featured in a star studded lineup of bluesmen saluting Buddy Guy (Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Chapman, Jimmie Vaughn, and Gary Clark, Jr.). Nice to see two ex-Yardbirds in the same place. But the Zep tribute was amazing. Foo Fighters were up first doing “Black Dog” and “Rock And Roll” with Taylor on vox and Dave on drums. I thought it was a bad idea to follow the Foo Fighters with Kid Rock and Lenny Kravitz, but they proved worthy with their takes on “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”, “Ramble On”, and “Whole Lotta Love”, then they finished with Ann & Nancy Wilson (of Heart) with Jason Bonham, brass & string sections & a choir performing “Stairway To Heaven”. And we never saw the president or the honorees – we were seated directly above them in the upper balcony.


I enjoyed putting up the Christmas decorations on the 5th when it was so warm outside I could wear a t-shirt. Monday the 10th Jill took Nina to Meadowlark Gardens to see the Christmas lights, then Wednesday the 12th daycare was closed and I stayed home with Nina. We went to Chibi’s Indoor Playground where she loves to play and run around, but not enough because 3 of 5 diaper changes that day I thought her next move was going to be dancing on the ceiling (ooh, what a feeling). I’m so glad I got the straitjacket for the changing table. After her bath, Nina crouches down in the tub. With her hair slicked back, she reminds me of Gollum. I wondered if it’s going too far to teach her to say “My precious”?


Saturday the 15th I took Nina to see Robbie Schaefer do a kids show at Jammin’ Java in the morning (as well as a visit to her favorite local playground) before we hosted our annual holiday party that afternoon/evening – as always a nice gathering of friends from all over.


Poor Nina got her first stomach flu on Monday the 17th. You know something’s wrong when your normally active child just wants to lay on the floor. Bad for us as we’d planned on both taking the next day off to get ready for vacation, but we managed ok (at least I got out to get us hot dogs and Korean tacos from the food trucks in Tysons for lunch).

Our trip north started without incident, until we made our normal stop at the Sonic in Edison, New Jersey. Jill wasn’t feeling well, and wanted some soup at the Panera next door. We went to the nearby Barnes and Noble with the giant children’s section and were feeding Nina her breakfast when she threw it all up – all over Jill. We cleaned everything up and they changed, but it was a bit rougher after that.

We got surrounded by police cars on the Garden State Parkway. Turns out it was the #cardsfornathan caravan. But the worst was ahead of us. We stopped in Danbury, CT at the strip mall we’d found in July, and we tried to find something for Nina to keep down, but Jill was feeling horrible. We went to get gas on the way out, but they had nowhere to change Nina. So I went to change her in the car, but Jill wanted to move it first (and go inside and vomit), but in her hurry, drove away with the gas hose still in her tank. So we found out how much they charge you when you drive away from the gas pump (full replacement cost – $70 – charged to your card if they can’t fix it). We made it to Holyoke where thank goodness Sue and Dave were around to watch Nina while we collapsed – naturally the stomach flu didn’t hit me until we got there.

By Thursday afternoon I was feeling better and after Christmas shopping made it over to Northampton for a Stone Brewing tasting at Provisions (picked up their 12-12-12 beer as well as some Oatmeal Sriracha popcorn). I got takeout from Taipei & Tokyo on the way back – pretty good. The next day we took Nina to the Holyoke Children’s Museum where she had a great time. That night I went out solo to Northampton for a disappointing meal at Mosaic Cafe, decent beer at Packards, and an amazing show by Winterpills at The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds.


Saturday we visited Jill’s Meme and Pepe for lunch and later that day I finally saw The Hobbit (24fps, 3D) with my nephew Jake. Very nicely done, wouldn’t mind seeing 48fps though. I also posted the pictures from our trip to Hobbiton now that the embargo on photos of it is lifted. Sunday the 23rd I went to Pickle’s Pub to hope for a Skins win, and Dallas & NY losses – was that too much to ask? 3 out of 3, but weird watching the game in a bar with the sound down (Pats crowd). Later that night Christmas came early for me, Jill gave me a night out in Northampton: dinner at Eclipse, hot tub and massages at East Heaven, and drinks and a full night’s sleep at Hotel Northampton (Sue’s gift to me was watching Nina for the night).

Monday the 24th we went to Jill’s cousin and her sister Melissa’s house for Christmas Eve get togethers, then Tuesday morning I got up with Nina at 7 for her first White Christmas. My mom and sister came to visit as well as all of Jill’s family for a big dinner, and many presents were opened.


The trip back on Boxing Day was a cakewalk compared to the trip up, but rainy for the last part. My feet got so wet unloading the car during the rain thanks to our downward sloping parking lot I couldn’t feel my big toes when I came in. Shower was a must after that.

Saturday the 29th we were trying to start good habits before the next year. We had gotten the basement and bar cleaned up before our party, and that day tackled the pantry and downstairs closet. Sunday we did the rest of the kitchen and the bedroom. Nina tried toast that morning – verdict of the toast toppings:
3) Honey: not a hit.
2) Blackberry jam: good, licked most of it off half an English muffin (she was still not sure about the muffin).
1) Cinnamon Sugar: very popular, ate a whole piece of toast (including crusts).

During her nap I took in the latest Bond movie with my dad (at Angelika, my favorite new theatre with draft beer, artisnal popcorn & 3 Coke Freestyle machines), then Nina and Jill met us over at my mom’s house for Nina’s 4th Christmas (4th gift opening since my dad hadn’t made it to Massachusetts) and an amazing Skins win to get into the playoffs (over Dallas, on the back of Alfred Morris).


We had a mostly quiet evening at home on New Year’s Eve as Jill worked late. I made a fire in the kitchen and we ate appetizers, happy that the fireworks outside didn’t wake up Nina.


Artists To Watch 2013

Band Song Why them
01. Air Traffic Controller Hurry Hurry From Boston, produced by Bleu, totally catchy.
02. Bleu It’s Not Over (‘Til it’s Over And Done) Speaking of Bleu, possible first artist at the Lakeside House Concert.
03. The Rescues Did It Really Even Matter? Love this chorus.
04. Winterpills Rogue Highway Lovely chamber pop.
05. David Wax Museum Born With A Broken Heart Paul Simon-esque.
06. Marina and The Diamonds Primadonna Bold, brassy voice.
07. Great Lake Swimmers Easy Come Easy Go Summer music.
08. Royal Teeth Wild Vampire weekend-esque.
09. The Wellspring Willing To Lose Buckingham-Nicks-esque.
10. Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra Want It Back Great 80s vibe.
11. Alan Doyle I’ve Seen a Little Great Big Sea frontman.
12. Emeli Sandé Next To Me The next Adele?
13. Anthony da Costa St. Therese Fave FRFF alum.
14. Barnaby Bright Made Up Of From our NYC peeps.
15. Nate Ihara Count Me In A song cowritten by Todd Wright.
16. Pesky J. Nixon Talk About Heaven Speaking of FRFF, these guys camp near us.
17. Marie Miller You’re Not Alone Nice voice.
18. Spuyten Duyvil Freight Train Love the groove.
19. Paul Cusick Everything This guy loves Steven Wilson so much, he uses both of his drummers. The feeling is more 90s Rush, though.
20. Matthew Perryman Jones Land Of The Living Starts slow, but it builds.
21. Robby Hecht A Reckoning Of Us Red Molly had him sing this at The Barns, and with good reason.
22. Todd Wright Home He doesn’t sing so much anymore, but when he does it’s a doozy (tough choice between this and this).

Leftovers (in no particular order):
Kate Miller-Heidke – Ride This Feeling
Jack and White – Night After Night
Freelance Whales – Spitting Image
Family Of The Year – Living On Love
Tony Vincent – Starting Over
Alabama Shakes – Hold On
Antje Duvekot – Noah’s Titanic
Ben Arthur – If Anyone Can Save Me
These United States – Born Young
The Adventures Of – Complication
Jesca Hoop – Hospital (Win Your Love)
Jenny Owen Youngs – Born To Lose
Jukebox the Ghost – Oh, Emily
Mika – Love You When I’m Drunk
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
Parks – Sweater Weather
Walk Off The Earth – Gang Of Rhythm