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.