On Tuesday August 2nd, my coworkers got Jill to come in and surprised me with a baby shower. It was such a surprise I didn’t even go at first – I was told it was a meeting, and I was finishing my lunch. I caught plenty of flack for that, but it was nice, the cake was good and they got us a pack and play and a lot of nice toys.

Wednesday my company had tickets for Taylor Swift at Verizon, so I took one (Jill said she was done with DC for a while). I headed down early and had dinner at Chop’t – had the El Diablo Cobb salad, nice and spicey. The show was quite a spectacle, more show than concert at points, but pretty good. And I never mind a good Tori Amos cover.

Taylor Swift

Saturday the 6th I did a bit of home improvement, then we were planning on going out for dinner and a concert. The Korean BBQ at Honey Pig was good. But Jon Carroll in Leesburg was a wash out and we headed home. Sunday we did the last of the baby shopping by getting everything left on our registry at Great Beginning, then had time to make a big dinner: pork marinated with orange and worcestershire sauce, black beans with green onions, cole slaw and corn on the cob. Plus fresh blueberry pie for dessert, all homemade (except the pie crust).

Tuesday the 9th I had been planning on seeing the Steve Miller Band all summer, already had a lawn ticket. But the weather was perfect and Jill decided she was feeling good, so she got us subs from Santini’s and chopped veggies and fruit for dinner. We upgraded to seats in the Loge and had a fun time – nice to knock what’s likely the final band off my summer concert bucket list.

Friday the 12th I went to see Drivin N Cryin at Iota. First time seeing them in 16 years (though I’d seen the singer solo since), and they rocked hard, played all the songs I wanted to hear.

Drivin N Cryin

We had dinner at Don Pablo’s Saturday – I had a craving and a coupon and it was our last chance to have queso without splitting it 3 ways. And it’s been a long time since I had El Matador – a long time favorite platter.

Sunday the 14th Jill’s mom and her sister Melissa came down (and brought us Sonic diet cherry limeades). Jill’s initial due date was the next day, so they wanted to be on hand. Jill’s last day of work was the 12th, so Melissa and her were basically on vacation. Monday we ran over to Dairy Queen for dessert after dinner, Tuesday we got takeout from Lakeside Asia Cafe and Wednesday we got ribs from Uncle Fred’s BBQ Smoke Shack after taking in a matinee of “Bridesmaids” (funny, but the first floor theaters in Reston aren’t well run).

Sue Jill Melissa

Saturday the 20th Jill’s mom took Melissa to BWI for her flight home (she could only come down for a week, a little sad that the baby hadn’t arrived before she left). In the evening we were invited over to the Larsens along with the Hreczucks and the Norwoods. Lotsa kids, good food (very tasty smoked turkey) and fun, but we had to call it an early night.

Tuesday the 23rd we (along with everyone else on the East Coast) experienced Virginia’s strongest earthquake in 100 years, one of 5/8 magnitude. Jill and her mom were at home, I was at work and my building swayed before it stopped, but everyone was ok and no apparent damage to our house.

The next day my mom was off and wanted to get together for a late lunch, so we all met up at Reston Town Center and settled on Jackson’s. Scrumptious rolls (as usual), delicious lobster rolls, good beer, fun times.

Saturday the 27th we braced for Hurricane Irene. We weren’t too concerned as we were predicted to be just on the edge of the affected area, but Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so we still stocked up on water and batteries. The biggest project I had to tackle was dig a trench for one of the downspouts in back to stop the water from coming back towards the house – I noticed after the first band of rain it was still filling up, so i had to go expand it. The night was pretty uneventful and the next day was really nice.

No baby yet, even though she’s late, but it hasn’t been too bad. Jill’s been relaxing, and the weekends have been fun, sitting around reading, watching TV, going out on the dock and eating good meals with her and her mom.


It’s true – after 10 years I’m wearing glasses again. I got LASIK in 2001 and enjoyed the results immensely, but it wasn’t meant to last forever. A couple months back I started getting eye strain more often than usual (an occupational hazard) and headaches, and it had been a couple years since my last eye exam. It confirmed my suspicions that my distance vision had faded somewhat, but it was nice that my close vision was fine.

The eye doctor was hosting my eye surgeon, so it was convenient to go in and get a consultation (since they had offered a lifetime guarantee). Two problems: first, the cut they made for LASIK meant that another operation would have to be with PRK (which means more pain and a longer healing time) and second, the operation would destroy my close vision.

So based with a decision that I’d need to get glasses no matter what, I went with no surgery and got glasses (and several pairs since now you can get really cheap and not-as-cheap-but-not-as-flimsy online). So far I’m only wearing them at concerts, watching TV and sometimes at the end of the day at work. When I previously wore glasses I wore them all the time – I’m not sure if I’ll do that yet.


Friday, July 1st we went out for Jill’s birthday to Hooked (where the sushi was still good – everything else, meh), then went to Friendly’s for ice cream. The next day I went to see Beth Patterson at a house concert in Maryland. She was funny as usual, and a lot more blue then her usual shows at the Old Brogue (which I enjoyed).

Sunday we took Illa over to my Dad’s house in Chesapeake Beach, where he and Patricia hosted us. We had lunch, then hung out on his deck for most of the day. His neighbor had a party that night, and invited us over for some good pulled pork and great grilled wings. Later on, we went out into the rain that had started around dark to watch the fireworks from Dad’s dock.

The next morning was July 4th, which both of us had off, but we didn’t sleep in. We headed home after breakfast, and had plenty of chores to keep us occupied until it got dark, and folks started setting fireworks off. This was the first 4th we’ve had our floating dock, and it was fun to see the fireworks going off on and around Lake Thoreau.

I didn’t take pictures, but check these out from last year.

On Friday the 8th, I got out of work early to attend a childbirth class with Jill that the OB/GYN offered. I thought it would go quicker with only one other person, but we ran long. That was what I feared since we were about to head west on 66 during rush hour, but somehow the storm that happened during our class and accidents prior to where we got on 66 combined for fairly light traffic, and we got to Luray, VA a little early.

We had dinner at Rancho Viejo, which unfortunately served Jill’s dinner cold, earning a thumbs down from her. Too bad, as we both enjoyed the salsa and my carnitas dinner was awesome. We finally got to Piney Hill Bed & Breakfast around dark, and settled in.

Our innkeepers were Wiley & Hank, and they served us a quiche and amazing cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We weren’t in a rush, so checked out the place in daylight, then read on the porch for a couple hours.

Piney Hill porch

I’d made everything that day a surprise for Jill, so first we headed west on 211, then north on Route 11. My first thought in the area was Route 11 Potato Chips, and while the factory isn’t the most impressive thing on Earth, it’s always neat to see what you’re going to eat, plus you could sample any of their chips. Also, I’d managed to route us through the only covered bridge I’ve seen outside of New England.

We had lunch at Southern Kitchen in New Market, splitting a fried chicken platter. Not as great as the last time we road tripped for chicken, but the best in the area. After lunch we returned to Luray for some shopping.

After we rested for a bit, we headed over the mountains for dinner to Washington, VA, but not the fanciest place there. This time we went to The Blue Rock Inn, and it was just elegant enough. Jill enjoyed her fettuccini, and I really liked my lamb – wasn’t the least surprised when I found it was from the farm that delivers mine. We elected not to have dessert as there wasn’t something on the menu we loved, plus our innkeepers had made us one in the afternoon we hadn’t had room for, and it was very good.


The next morning we had French Toast for breakfast, then headed back, stopping in Front Royal for cheap gas and cider donuts. It was Jill’s birthday present, but it was a nice and relaxing weekend for both of us.

That night we went over to my Mom’s for dinner with Dad, as we celebrated Father’s Day and Mom’s and Jill’s birthdays. We had grilled chicken and ice cream, and chatted with Sharon on the phone.

Friday the 15th we headed over to Tysons Corner for dinner at Da Domenico Ristorante for a nice dinner, then attended our first show at the 1st Stage Theatre for the Michael Clem Trio, a fun show (punctuated by free beer – seriously, they just set out a cooler).

Michael Clem Trio

The next day we were back in Tysons at the mall to see the final Harry Potter movie (I’d wanted to see it at Udvar-Hazy like we’d seen the last several, but when tickets went on sale they couldn’t confirm they would be showing it). The 3D was decent, and the film itself was a great conclusion to the series. We had to hurry home and take Illa out before going out to Countryside for Janice’s surprise birthday party. We had a good time (and excellent food thanks to her brother), but couldn’t stay out all night.

Dad came over on the morning of Friday the 22nd, and I dropped him at Udvar-Hazy for the day. I picked him up after work and we shopped at Whole Foods, where I picked up fried chicken and a summer salad pack for dinner (I just had to cook the green beans).

For the first time since we started going in 2003, we didn’t go to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival for obvious reasons (and the heat this year would only have made things worse). It hit triple digits around here on multiple days, but we mostly stayed indoors. Except on Saturday the 23rd, when Dad and I went out to see the 150th Anniversary Commemoration Battle of Bull Run Civil War Reenactment, and we got plenty of warmth, even though we were headed home by noon.


We had prepared with lots of water, ice wrapped bandanas, sunscreen and a mister, so we were mostly able to enjoy the reenactment. And it was pretty impressive – while they didn’t hit the 30,000 in the original, seeing 8,000 folks fighting is quite a scene. My favorite picture is below, but there are lots more here.

Civil War Cannon

That night (after naps all around), we went to see Tim Minchin at the Warner. A musical comedian with elements of George Carlin and Eddie Izzard, I really liked him while Jill found him part funny and part offensive.

Friday the 29th I joined the Jewells for Lloyd Dobler Effect at Friday Night Live!. It was beastly hot, but I like those guys and it was only the second time I’ve made it out this year (although I’m not a big fan of the cover bands they usually book).

Saturday the 30th we went to Mad Fox for lunch, and found we should have gotten the pizza earlier – it’s really good (and the beer is still great). That night I headed up to Frederick and the 2nd Outlaw Jam. A biker themed festival was not my favorite thing in the world, but I wanted to see Mötley Crüe (especially since the original four are still there and kicking). I skipped Poison, but did see some of Shooter Jennings before getting in position for the Crüe. And they did not disappoint – a night full of classics.


We closed out the month with a good house cleaning, then hosted the Jewells for dinner (they brought pork loin and a wicked cocktail, I made slaw, corn on the cob and fruit salad). Later we went out on the lake on the dock, then we had Jill’s peach cobbler when we got back. A nice, quiet evening with friends – may be the last of those for a while.