March

On Wednesday the 2nd we took Nina and a friend into DC for concert #8: Dua Lipa. We had dinner at Nando’s as we often do for shows at Capital One Arena, then headed in. DC had just dropped their vaccine mandate, but the show had been advertised as vaccine required until 2 days earlier, so we felt safe wearing our masks. Openers Lolo Zouaï and Caroline Polachek (ex indie rocker from Chairlift) were good, but the audience audibly groaned about a second opener. But Dua Lipa got the appropriate welcome for churning out pop bangers during a pandemic. It was quite a show, and Nina loved every minute (except for leaving during the encore).

Nina

Friday Jill was off and took Nina to Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Afterwards they got takeout from Taco Zocalo. Saturday Nina had her first non-family sleepover as Jill relented and let her have one with her best friend. Sunday the 2nd rescheduling of the Snow Patrol show for the Lincoln Theater actually happened, but Jill could no longer attend. No one wanted a free ticket, so I went solo for concert #9. Iain Archer was the unannounced opener, but I after I looked him up and found he was a former member of Snow Patrol, I paid close attention. As I suspected, he showed up again playing keys for their set. Lead singer Gary Lightbody was very relaxed, joking with the audience and laughing off flubs for what turned out to be a fun, mostly acoustic show.

Jill Nina

Thursday the 9th Jill flew up to help her mom pack for her move (evicted by her mom’s mom, but that’s a long story). The school days were fairly uneventful, but Friday night after Tae Kwon Do, Nina wanted to eat outside at the South Lakes Village shopping center at a table whose benches were swings. We got takeout from Cafesano and we got to watch some police officers argue with a very upset guy (about what we never discovered). Then we went to Safeway as Nina wanted to make a special dinner the next day. That turned out to be unicorn rolls (crescent rolls with ham, cheese & butter cooked in), fairy punch (Sprite with lime juice, lemon juice, honey & frozen blueberries) and fairy popcorn (with added raisins, craisins, pretzels & M&Ms). The latter was shared with her friend Celina, who came over later to watch Turning Red with us (what a great movie, and perfect timing to have the audience for it). Sunday Nina had a Girl Scout meeting (where I had to submit her outfit to Jill for approval).

Nina

Monday I said if you’re an Encanto fan, Nina told me about this: an original song set in the movie. She can’t stop singing it too. Friday the 18th we went out for a real dinner, at Blend 111 in Vienna. I’d read this fantastic review, and it was good practice for Nina as they had their menus in Spanish. Very tasty, I especially liked the tiradito de palmito, and Jill liked the pabellón criollo.

Nina

Tuesday the 22nd it was Nina’s last day of drama club and the parents were invited for the performance of 2 plays, the second of which featured her as one of the hairdressers who have a bunch of fairytale characters as clients. Later I was reminded it was Stuart’s birthday and of course I hit “Bri” that day on my journey through my music collection, and this came up.

Nina

Friday the 25th Nina had her first camp out at Camp Crowell‘s High Top Treehouses. Jill and I dropped her off, then went over to Vienna to eat outside at Bear Branch Tavern (good burger), then came out early the next morning to help clean up and do pick up. Nina’s troop leader said “Our first troop camp out was amazing! Yes, we were a bit chilly and learned that we need to bring warmer clothes and squishier sleeping pads but every Girl Scout had a huge smile at pickup. I was really impressed at their constant, positive attitudes and watching how well they all supported each other and took ownership of their camp out. I can’t wait to go camping with them again!”

Nina

Sunday Nina and Jill got pedicures. Wednesday the 31st was the Terraset basketball challenge Nina had been preparing for. She sang withe the choir to start the game and performed with the cheerleaders. That night we packed as spring break started the next day, and I finished the taxes, which I’d been working on all week thanks to the new 3rd party payment rules on my eBay sales (thanks to filing them under Schedule D as collectibles meant I didn’t owe any tax on them).

Jill Nina

February

Nina continued her rehearsals for Broadway Night, culminating in her first performance on Friday the 4th. Jill’s mom came down for the weekend, and we saw the first show (show #3) while Jill was a chaperone. For the second show Saturday afternoon I was an usher, then I brought over some Wendy’s for her lunch. We all got Big Buns for dinner, then the three of us all watched her evening show (show #4).

Nina

Sunday morning we all went over to Jammin’ Java as the performances weren’t over – she still had Open Mic for her voice classes. Rehearsing and performing on stage seemed to help any remaining stagefright (even recovered when she started late) as she sang Ava Max’s “So Am I” (and that was concert #5, with lots of nice cover choices). That night I went to see Beth Patterson at The Old Brogue for concert #6. This time she had Seán Heely performing with her for more traditional songs. I wished she’d done more of her own songs as she didn’t even get the chance to sing much. That week Nina started her Curex drops for immunotherapy to hopefully build up her tolerance for her allergies.

Beth Patterson Seán Heely

Friday the 11th I went to the Strathmore for concert #7: Bonny Light Horseman and Anaïs Mitchell. Since Anaïs Mitchell is a member of Bonny Light Horseman, it was the same musicians in different configurations for each set. I really enjoyed the harmonies of Bonny Light Horseman. Saturday Nina shopped at Safeway with several Girl Scouts to get ingredients to prepare for a badge. She also had a cookie booth outside Ledo’s.

Sue Nina Jill

Sunday marked a year since I made my low sodium red miso paste, so it was time to stop fermenting. I also made gochujang with it so now I can make a low sodium version of Bon Chon chicken. This was in addition to making Louisiana hot sauce and blue cheese dressing for wings for the Super Bowl. Valentine’s Day was Tuesday and Nina redecorated the table.

flowers

Tuesday the 15th I said “Wow” as the full Daily Show from the night before was only a conversation with India.Arie. They had interesting thoughts on how to respond to racism.

Thursday the 17th Jill and I followed Nina’s suggestion and had lunch together on Jill’s day off. We thought Founding Farmer’s would be good as it wasn’t too cold, but it was windy and we ate inside as it wasn’t busy at 2PM. Saturday the 19th was Eric’s funeral, at a church off 29 between Bristow and Warrenton. It was sad to bid him farewell, but nice to see his wife, daughters, brother and mother. I went to a nearby Panera afterwards to hang with college friends I hadn’t seen in 15-20 years. I finally left at 5 – I needed to pick up some additional Switch controllers in Tyson’s and Ledos Pizza before we had game night with the Hocrodels and Larsens. The 5 kids ate first, then played Switch downstairs while the grownups played Cards Against Humanity upstairs.

Oran Bill Kerry Monica Amy PJ

Monday Nina and I were off for President’s Day. It was a beautiful day, and in the afternoon she ran a cookie booth right outside the house on the trail. When the Grunspans were done with their friends, they joined her before Nina had to go to Tae Kwon Do to earn her last stripe. They did so well both households nearly sold out of their stash. Nina had hives that night – they may have been from a dog that licked her, but we weren’t sure, so we paused her drops for a day.

Olivia Leila Nina

Friday the 25th I had to LOL at Butt-centric literary star Chuck Tingle buys GovernorAbbott.com. That evening we watched Nina’s Tae Kwon Do graduation as she made it to her bo-black belt (second to last belt, black is last). Then we went out for dinner at Clyde’s in Reston as they’ll be closing soon. Unfortunately it was too windy to eat outside, but the booths had plexiglass barriers and felt fairly safe. Saturday Nina made some #flowerfood.

Nina

January

Saturday the 1st was New Year’s Day and we were still in Boston, so we slept in a bit, then drove home (with a stop at White Castle, naturally). Sunday Jill kicked off cookie sales with this note: “Nina is going camping for the first time this year as a girl scout and is super excited! Her troop is also raising funds to try for a bronze award; so far their community projects have included making blankets for the shelter and decorating memorial rocks for our community memory garden for those we have lost through Covid at the senior living community. Thanks for your support”. Monday Nina was scheduled to be back at school, but Mother Nature had other ideas and we got a lot of snow. In fact, she was off all that week with another storm on Thursday. Friday we got Bollywood Bistro (Jill’s favorite) and worked on Jill’s Christmas gift, Lego Winnie the Pooh.

Nina

Saturday the 9th Jill and I had debated going to see Fortune Feimster at the new Capital One Hall, especially with the neighbors at the next 3 houses all positive and everyone back at school and work, but this graphic sealed the deal for me, and so we went to show #1 (also with Caitlin Peluffo). Glad we did, everyone was well masked in the theatre and she was hilarious.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 15th we had tickets for concert #2: Eddie From Ohio at the Birchmere. But vaccinated without masks required and still in the middle of the Omicron surge meant that Jill didn’t feel safe bringing Nina, so I went by myself. I loved that Julie changed the lyrics of “Old Dominion” again to “Baseball season’s over, and our football team is crap, so wintertime means Washington and rootin’ for the Caps”. They finally stopped burning CDs of the show that night, and instead started offering a download card for sale. Tuesday the misheard lyric of the day was: “I ate the sharpest tool in the shed”.

Eddie From Ohio

The new governor in Virginia had decided to lean into his far-right politics, and decided to issue an executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools as soon as he got into office. So on Wednesday I shared a petition for Fairfax County parents to make their voices heard. I also shared a link to help fund a lawsuit against the executive order. Then on Thursday I seconded this.

Kerry Nina

Friday the 21st we got takeout from the final of the three open restaurants in Reston Station, Big Buns. And apparently saved the best for last, as we were all raving about our meals, especially Nina who got the Unicorn Shake (all the shakes were good). Sunday Nina made her own breakfast for a Girl Scout badge (fruit smoothie, scrambled eggs, and a frozen waffle). Tuesday we got takeout from On The Border for a PTO fundraiser.

Nina Jill

Friday the 28th Nina had her school picture taken and we got takeout from Cooper’s Hawk and Nando’s (I ended up getting Nando’s because Cooper’s Hawk has no low sodium entrees – or to be more accurate has only high sodium entrees). That night I shared the Peacemaker opening sequence to my buddy Eric. His wife had called me saying he was back in the hospital with pneumonia and might go on a ventilator that night, and he asked me if I’d seen the new Spider-Man and I told him he needed to get better soon so we could chat about this hilarious show and its extensive use of hair metal (5 minutes on Hanoi Rocks alone in the previous episode).

Unfortunately she called me the next day that he hadn’t made it through the night, so I shared “RIP Eric Kader. Friend, brother, roommate, record store co-owner, concert buddy. Gone too soon.” Sunday I had mentioned that when Eric and I went to Woodstock ’94 we had a four hour wait for a shuttle. Someone in line had a bottle of Goldschlager and we shared it while we waited. I got a nip of Goldschlager when we opened Jill’s birthday piñata in 2020, and I figured that night was the perfect time to drink it.

cocktail

That day also marked the end of Wizards Unite, the Pokemon Go style mobile app set in the Harry Potter universe. We finally finished the Harry Potter film series, which we started in August 2018 by listening to the audiobook first and then watching the movie. Then we watched the 20th anniversary of the movies special on HBO. I think we’ll have a conversation in the future of separating art and the problematic artist, but I think for now we’re done with that universe.

Nina

Throughout January, Nina had been preparing for Broadway Night, a selection of jukebox musicals presented by the South Lakes High School Chorus. They invite all the South Lakes Pyramid schools, and all the elementary students were singing the Go-Go’s “Vacation” as well as appearing in the “On Your Feet” finale. Nina started the month with twice a week rehearsals, but with one week to go, she was rehearsing every day and some days going straight from school to school. We felt we were getting a taste of high school and things to come. Also in January, Jill and I both joined the Wordle viral craze.

December

Saturday the 4th we went to Lost Rhino as our friends Tony and Charissa came down from Philly with our friend Bill. Janice was hosting and Lorna & Dave came along too. Tony loves pinball, and Nina and I joined him for that. Her favorite game was Guardians of the Galaxy while I preferred The Mandalorian. I enjoyed the beer and Nina had S’mores with the propane fire pit outside. I had rewatched the 4 previous Daniel Craig Bond movies the last 4 nights, then that night my dad came over to watch the newest one, a tradition he started by taking me to see Octopussy. A great ending for a great Bond.

Nina

Sunday Nina had a Girl Scouts cookie rally and Jill said “this Jingle Bell kitty is happy to be back in the holiday spirit after an overenthusiastic play session! Inspired by The Knitmore Girls stuffie mending and although it’s #NotAPerfectMend it’ll do just fine. Kiddo is just happy to have her holiday playmate back!”. Monday I was in DC for concert #20: Brandi Carlile at Sixth & I. A fantastic solo show that mixed together her new album, Joni Mitchell covers, and holiday songs, plus duets with her wife and the first ever singing appearance of her daughter.

Brandi Carlile

Saturday the 11th we went to the Herndon Winter Market where we unexpectedly met up with Janice and Lorna & Dave again. We enjoyed German food from a food truck, then watched some traditional dancers.

Kerry Janice Lorna Nina Jill

Monday I started 3 weeks off – I was convinced with Jill working at a hospital and Nina back in school that one of us would catch Covid. I was delighted to be wrong, but my vacation time was use it or lose it, so I used it. Tuesday I took Nina and a friend to concert #21: Dixie D’Amelio, MONSTA X, Tai Verdes, Bazzi, Saweetie, Black Eyed Peas, Tate McRae, Megan thee Stallion & Jonas Brothers for HOT 99.5’s Jingle Ball at Capital One Arena, and they had a great time. They were disappointed that Doja Cat & AJR dropped out due to Covid, but both got to see their first K-pop band and they’re big fans of the genre (can’t tell you how much Blackpink I’ve heard lately). Jill got a haircut and said “Gotta love an amazing new cut and style! Natalya at Alya Salon cut about 10 inches off and I’m so thrilled! She knows how to give a great Deva/curly hair cut 🙌🙌”

Bailey Nina

Wednesday it was my turn for a haircut from Roosters, and Thursday I watched this great tribute to the other movie series that had it’s 20th anniversary this year (and tagged it on social media with #Colbert #LordOfTheRings #LOTR #1Trilly). Jill was surprised that she would come home from work and find me still on the computer, but I had a lot of non-work computer tasks to catch up on. Friday I had lunch with John on the deck, then our neighbors were back from Spain and all the girls got together for dinner and a movie (Shang-Chi). Jill and I got takeout from Chengs. Saturday we had another outdoor holiday party. This time there were slightly less people, so we brought our food, drinks and heater over to our neighbor John’s house. As always, there was caroling at his house.

caroling

Sunday the 19th Nina had a Girl Scouts troop party, then I went to a house concert in Herndon for concert #22: Michael Clem. Good to hear his new songs live, and see my friend. Later Nina and her friends decorated gingerbread houses.

Celina Pearl Leila Nina

Wednesday we packed for our trip, but I made sure to watch the new Matrix (I thought it was fantastic). I had also watched the first 3 Matrix movies the previous 3 nights, and I could say what I would never say about the Star Wars prequels – those sequels are seriously underrated.

foodmoji

Thursday we were all negative for Covid, so off we went to Massachusetts, with a fairly uneventful drive, stopping at Sonic for lunch. Christmas Eve we went over to Jill’s mom’s and most of the immediate family came. All plans for takeout had to go out the window as just about every place was closed, and we finally found Blue Asian Cuisine in Chicopee that was a good place. It snowed that night and the rain held off on Christmas long enough for Nina to have her 2nd White Christmas. Later we had dinner at the Bradys and a gift card swap, where both Nina and I watched Home Alone for the first time (what can I say – it was a kids movie that came out when I was in college).

Kerry Nina Finn

On Sunday the 27th Pepe & Meme came over to celebrate with their grandkids (Nina & Finn) and we had appetizers. That night Jill and I went to concert #23: Dar Williams with Crys Matthews at The Stationery Factory in Dalton. Nice show to finish 2021 on – although it was a white knuckle ride home for Jill because of the snow. Wednesday we went to Northampton for lunch (Familiars Coffee & Tea for Jill and me, Yokohama Ramen for Nina) and shopping. Thursday I rented out the last 4 rows at the South Hadley’s Tower Theaters so we could sit in the last 2 rows and watch Sing 2 semi-safely, then we visited with Gram.

Robin Bob Mike Kerry Jill Sue Finn Nina

We capped off the week by heading out on New Year’s Eve and visiting with my sister and her family , then went to the Cannons. Later the older kids watched the younger ones while Jill and I reenacted our 1st date from 20 years ago: sushi on NYE with the Cannons. We went to Fuki, early enough that we were the only ones there. It was delicious. Later we went back to there house and found random music videos to watch while we chatted before the kids came upstairs for the ball drop.

Jess Chris Jill Kerry

November

The 1st and 2nd Nina was off due to student holidays (the 2nd was Election Day). Jill took off to take care of Nina, who ended up wanting to go to SACC on the 1st. So Tuesday was the get stuff done day, including a passport appointment for all of us because Nina’s passport expired that day and a dentist appointment for Jill and Nina (mine was the next Tuesday). Later I wondered how did I not hear this mashup before now? This is legendary!

Nina

Wednesday we celebrated as vaccinations for ages 5-11 in Fairfax County were live. Friday we got takeout from Pista House. Jill and Nina went on Saturday to Tysons Corner Center. Jill said “Covid shots at the mall meant wandering around for a bit, checking out the massage chair after mom found a random dollar in her purse, then sporting a new fashion headband to create art. Here’s to a fully vaccinated household for the holiday season!”

Nina

Nina had a 2 hour early release on the 11th for Veterans Day, but I didn’t pick her up as her Girl Scout troop picked her up and took her to a troop campfire. Friday Jill was out to dinner with coworkers and it was Nina’s turn to choose takeout, so we went to Ariake, ordered, then sat in my car watching Saturday Night Live videos on YouTube until the order was ready. Saturday Nina didn’t get much exercise during the day, as she asked to go outside after dinner and ended up climbing trees.

Nina

Tuesday the 16th we had a ramp installed. A couple months earlier, I’d invited my mom and her husband David to join us for Thanksgiving, and she’d agreed but told me that he was having trouble walking. I’d tried a number of local places that rent medical equipment, but had no luck until I reached out to Freedom Mobility in Maryland. They needed to install it earlier than we needed it and their minimum rental time was a month, but it was just what we needed.

Jill Nina

Thursday Nina had been having some asthma running around in cold weather, so I got her early so we could have a teleconference with her pulmonologist (she wasn’t happy about leaving early and missing art). Saturday was an Open mic at Jammin’ Java for the music students. Nina was scheduled to perform, but when she realized it was on a stage in front of a bunch of people this time, got some stage fright. We still watched the talented Jammin’ Java school house band for concert #18. Her teacher brought her up later so she could see what it was like. That night the neighbor girls came over to help decorate the tree while I went out to see Joan Osborne at The Barns at Wolf Trap for concert #19. She had a nice mix of her recent album, her Dylan covers album before that, and the hits from Relish. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts.

Nina

Tuesday the 23rd my mom came by. We thought she was coming for dinner but she was just dropping off the pies as she and David were staying at Lynn House. Nina was off Wednesday but they had plans with friends, so we just did our own thing. Thursday we were up early to cook while Mom and David went to church, then came over. We had made a little nook near the kitchen fireplace they could sit at, then we had the classic meal, and later 4 pies (Mom and Jill both made apple plus Mom made a pecan and picked up a pumpkin on her way down). I realized while making turkey broth later that that day was the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving and we had three generations of descendants of one of the attendees here thanks to my mom joining us. They joined us again Friday, I made Eggs Benedict and artichokes for brunch as Nina and my mom both love artichokes, then we ordered takeout from Mama Chang (Mom had read about it in the Post) and had more pie (Nina surprised us with a love for pumpkin for the first time). Only Jill went shopping on Black Friday for yarn and provisions at Red Apron, although I LOL’d at this.

Kerry Jill Nina

Saturday the 28th Mom and David headed home in the morning. Later I got my booster and Nina got her 2nd shot, then we shopped at Dulles Town Center. Today I had some fever and fatigue, but the 3.5 hour nap seemed to take care of it. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d skip the mall. Nina had a Spanish project to create a community and label it with the Spanish words. Saturday she tried CAD and LegoCAD programs and wasn’t a big fan, so Sunday she worked all day on a Lego version (with just a little help from us).

Kerry Nina Jill

On the 30th we got takeout from Pupatella to benefit Nina’s school. Jill said “My friend Patty posted this on her Facebook page and it speaks very loud and clear to me, especially what is going on in our crafting community. We cannot be silent when others are being exploited and harmed. I personally was never a fan but I know what it means to struggle with the ugly truth and bring in out into the light. We can hold grace for each other but grace is not a pass for accountability and inward reflection and growth. Let’s shine a light into the dark places.”
quote

October

The 1st was a Friday and we went to watch Raya and the Last Dragon sponsored by Terraset’s PTO. We got food from the food trucks and watched the movie for the first time. We were glad we brought blankets and sleeping bags as it was chilly and damp by the end. Saturday we brought Nina to Terraset so she could figure out how to climb on top of the monkey bars, but decided she wasn’t ready. That night was concert #15: Damien Jurado & Okkervil River (solo) at The Barns at Wolf Trap. I came for Okkervil River, but Damien Jurado wasn’t bad either. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts and Monday was off for 2 days but Jill took off and took her to her pulmonologist.

Nina Kerry

Friday the 8th we got takeout from Tea Break Pho & Boba. Tuesday I had to take Nina to her pediatrician as we hadn’t paid attention to her running out of a medicine. Friday I took Nina and a friend to the the homecoming parade and walked with them. Jill met us at the end. Saturday Nina and Jill made gluten free cookies while I went to concert #16: girl in red, Lauv, St. Vincent, Charli XCX & Haim at Merriweather Post Pavilion for the All Things Go Music Festival. Very well run, despite the rain, and I love all the infrastructure improvements to Merriweather. Too bad the only thing I could eat was a sad looking cheeseburger. Sunday Nina and Jill went up to Frederick as Nina’s voice teacher owns a wig shop there, then Nina went to Girl Scouts.

Nina

Jill said about their trip: “We made a trip to visit Nina’s voice teacher at her new amazing business, the Frederick Wig Company! Rachel is a bespoke wig maker on top of all her other talents and has just opened this storefront in Downtown Frederick. N had so much fun trying on wigs and came home with a mermaid wig and fairy hair tied into her real hair. We had a great time; thanks for the wonderful visit! For those who are local, Rachel has appointments available for you to shop safely and get a consultation for a wig or topper for any cosmetic or medical reason -she’s a gem.”
“In honor of Rhinebeck Weekend, N and I visited a yarn shop in Frederick; the Knot House. I’m glad I got a chance to poke around; so many lovely things! I visited magpie fibers last time I was there so now I feel complete. With this purchase I decided to halt further yarn or fiber purchases until next year’s Rhinebeck weekend with a couple of planned exceptions. I’m just getting my crafting mojo back and my stash has gotten overwhelming. I have carefully curated it but it’s time to start using it in earnest.”

Nina

Monday the 18th I was disappointed that my favorite new show had been canceled. They had definitely changed some of the storylines, but I enjoyed making the protagonist’s mother President instead of Congressperson. Thursday I said “Huh” after reading this:
“The 13% of Americans who are anti-vax are equal to the percentage who don’t own a smartphone. It’s barely half the number who believe Bigfoot is real (26%) and nearly 50% smaller than the number who don’t believe in God (19%). It’s less common than brushing your teeth in the shower (17%) or not putting a top sheet on your bed at all (16%).
If you subtract the people who have legitimate health reasons for not getting vaccinated, the number of conscientious anti-vaxxers dips below the percentage of Americans who don’t wear deodorant (11%). ”

house

Friday was my birthday. After Jill informed me parking was slim, I walked over to the shopping center where we got to see Nina graduate to her second-from-last belt in Tae Kwon Do, then we had a late dinner outside at Founding Farmers followed by homemade carrot cake and gifts. Finally, I watched the excellent adaption of Dune (I loved the 4 hour version of Lynch’s Dune, but I can’t wait for part 2 of this). I said “Tomorrow night is emmet swimming in Leesburg and I just can’t imagine a better weekend.”

Nina Kerry

And concert #17 was great: emmet swimming, with short opening sets from Hana Eid, Erik Wenberg, Smartbomb & Quitter UK at Tally Ho Theater. That may have been Quitter UK’s first shows since 2006. Sunday Nina had Girl Scouts. Jill said: “My new favorite baby gift; buy an outfit and make a sweater to match! This is kiddy vertebrae and I was supposed to drop it off this morning to the recipient but it turns out she went into labor last night! So it’ll keep for a little longer…”
Friday the 29th we got takeout from Makers Union, then Sunday was Halloween and Nina got invited to a neighborhood party with a friend (she dressed up as Coraline), so Jill and I handed out candy and ate dinner by ourselves.

Nina

September

On the 1st was concert #8: Eagles at Capital One Arena. My first masked and vaxxed show (and now the only way I’ll go). The crowd was mostly compliant, so I double masked. The show was great (and long), started off with the entire Hotel California album played with a string orchestra (Sorry to Jay, who I was going to see the show with in L.A. pre-pandemic). The next day was Nina’s birthday, and she got ice cream on her waffle for breakfast. She had requested Indian food, and Jill wanted to try a place in Ashburn as she was working late, so we met up at Celebration. Unfortunately their “outside seating” was 2 tiny tables, plus they couldn’t serve alcohol there, but we made the most of it, plus their food was pretty tasty. We went to the nearby Brusters for dessert where Nina got an enormous sundae. Jill said “To my girl on her 10th birthday: you are amazing. You are the bright spot of each of my days since we met. I love your fierce tenacity, your kindness, and your independence. I look forward to continue watching you as you blossom, because you are the type of person that blooms where planted. Love always, your proud mama.”

Nina

We hired a new cleaning lady who Jill knew from work, and she came Saturday morning at 9am to clean, not leaving until 7pm. Sue and Dave came to stay with us that day, luckily it was nice to hang out on the deck for hours. We also got a giant ice cream cake Nina got to share with her neighborhood friends. Sunday Nina went to the pool with friends, then played ping pong with 2 friends in a neighborhood tournament. Later I took Dave out on the boat and he did some fishing (and sunburning).

Dave

On Labor Day we went out to visit my dad when my sister and her family were staying with him. They weren’t vaccinated, so we stopped in Old Town Alexandria on the way back and ate at Virtue Feed & Grain. Jill took Thursday and Friday off to hang out with Sue and Dave. Thursday I joined them for lunch at Jacques’ Brasserie at L’Auberge Chez Francois and that night we got takeout from Mazadar. Friday I enjoyed this comic.

Josh

Saturday the 11th Sue, Nina and Jill went apple picking then got delayed because Jill went to help a worker who fainted. So I met them at Olney Park for concert #9: Stephen Kellogg at his Family BBQ. Then later was concert #10: Close Enough on the lake, and the first time we tied up to another boat – the girls couldn’t get enough of walking between boats. Monday I saw the best Bell Biv DeVoe parody about the news I’ve seen that day.

Stephen Kellogg Kerry Nina

Tuesday the 14th was concert #11: Kennedy Center 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert with Dr. Jill Biden, Audra McDonald, Tony Yazbeck, Renée Fleming, Darren Criss, Ben Folds, Mo Willems, Gaby Moreno, Barlow and Bear, Kelli O’Hara, Dianne Reeves, Punch Brothers, Keb’ Mo’, Christian McBride, Rachael Price, Randall Goosby, Zhu Wang, Bettye LaVette, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Joshua Henry, D Smoke, DJ Jahi Sundance, Robert Glasper, Kelly Marie Tran & the cast of Soft Power, Common & the National Symphony Orchestra. Quite a show showcasing the last 50 years and trying to project the next 50. The highlights aired on PBS were pretty good, although I was surprised they left out Renée Fleming & Kelli O’Hara singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.

Rachael Price/Punch Brothers

Friday we got takeout from Taco Zocalo. Sunday Nina & Jill knitted together. Later Jill said “Couldn’t be prouder of Nina’s elementary school and all the fantastic educators. This Time article recognizes her librarian, Mrs. Dueno, who personally delivered books to many houses (including ours!) during the school year so kids could keep reading.”

Nina Jill

Wednesday Jill and I were heading to Wolf Trap, but Nina had been congested and spiked a fever, so we cancelled the babysitter and Jill stayed home, trying to get a Covid test while I went to concert #12: Ani DiFranco & Indigo Girls. Emily’s voice was a little off, but they had Lucy Wainwright Roche join them for the full set so that made up for that. Plus everyone played during the encore. The next morning I took Nina to get her swab since Jill hadn’t gotten in the previous night, and it was negative so with the fever gone she was back to school on Friday, when we got this lovely school aged Shantytowne picture.

Shantytowne

Saturday was concert #13: The Avett Brothers at the Wolf Trap Gala. I was curious if after 2 sold out shows they’d slow it down for a smaller crowd, but apparently they only know one speed. Plus they gained a new fan in Jill. This cover didn’t hurt matters at all. The speeches were meh, but Governor North was funny. After we got home, Nina had an asthma attack thanks to lingering congestion, so she went back on the nebulizer for the next couple of days.

Kerry Jill Nina

Wednesday the 29th was concert #14: Primus with The Sword at MECU Pavilion (aka Pier Six). Mostly there for Primus covering all of Rush’s “A Farewell to Kings” in their second set. Amazing job, double necked guitars, Rickenbackers and Gibsons. First time hearing live versions of “A Farewell To Kings”, “Cinderella Man” & “Madrigal”. I hate going to Baltimore on a weeknight, but that was worth it. I cam home to everyone sleeping in our bed.

Nina Jill

August

Sunday the 1st we had just started our vacation the day before. For the first time since Nina was born, we were taking off 2 weeks in a row. The first week we rented a house in Stowe with the Cannons. We drove up in the afternoon and stopped in Northhampton at River Valley Co-op (where our friend Nate does IT) and at Sandy’s Drive-In for fish and chips and burgers. We got the keys to the house and got to the house and waited for the Cannons. After they got there Chris, V and I went down to the big Shaws near the highway to get groceries. After I found Lucerne milk and O Organics raisins I realized they were a sister store to Safeway, and shopping got a lot easier. Meanwhile Jess and Jill had figured out the Wi-Fi and ordered dinner for everyone from Piecasso. The pizza was very good, and it wasn’t a secret, as the only day their parking lot wasn’t full to the brim was the day they were closed.

Nina

Monday Jill went over the mountain to buy an air purifier as Nina was coughing some the night before and her room was musty. That afternoon we walked along the trail and stopped for Red Barn ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s factory tour was closed for construction and they just had the scoop shop open). That night we grilled burgers and were able to use the refilled hot tub (the house had some issues, including water seeping up through one of the master bathrooms).

Nina Penny

Tuesday we drove into Burlington, where I had to ask what could be a better post Falcon Ridge lunch than The Skinny Pancake? Others got bagels, and we shopped before meeting Jill’s childhood friend Erica and her daughter Mira at the Burlington Bay Café for creamies (soft serve ice cream) and we wandered down to the Science Center. I stopped at the Smugglers’ Notch Distillery before we left to pick up a sampler, and the adults had a taste test after we made pasta for dinner (the winner was the whiskey brewed with maple syrup for me).

Penny C Nina

Wednesday I made waffles with the remaining yeast (after I made a loaf of low sodium bread for myself) and bacon, then we took the gondola up to the top of Stowe Resort. That evening we had Piecasso again as Jill’s cousins Greg & Cathy came over and asked for pizza.

Jill Nina Kerry

Thursday I lazed around and read comics as Jill wanted to take the kids to All Things Bright and Beautiful, which her mother had taken her & her sisters to when she was young. Some had lunch at The Mad Taco, and they considered going to Ben & Jerry’s but the line for the scoop shop was 40 minutes long, so they bought pints for everyone. The girls got their energy out with a giant blow up spray unicorn. Jill didn’t want a pint, so we went into Stowe and stopped at Stowe Sweets for cones, and I picked up a bottle of Barr Hill Gin (made with honey) at a market. Jill, C and I hiked behind the house to see if it was possible to get to the next day’s trail before we were greeted with a steep drop, then we made fajitas for dinner.

Penny Nina C

Friday we drove to entrance of the Mill Trail and hiked past Bingham Falls. We later learned most people come in the other side and go down slippery stairs to a wide pool at the end, but we found a very cold part of the stream before the falls and everyone went in as long as they could take it. For lunch we had made reservations at the Trapp Family Lodge and good thing as they were booked solid. There was a funny incident when we were waiting for the host and a lady why she couldn’t sit at an empty table. He told her that he didn’t have enough servers for those tables then told her if she’d fill out a job application he’d hire her on the spot. I doubt we’d have noticed other than that, the service and food was great. We stopped at the bakery afterwards and had leftovers for dinner.

Nina Jill

Saturday some folks went shopping in Stowe, then we took the kids to the corn maze they’d been begging to do – after 15 minutes in the hot sun, they were begging to leave, but we got out in about 40 minutes and went to Red Barn again. That night we had the older kids babysit the younger ones and we made pasta for them, then the adults went to Lost Nation for burgers, brisket & beer (they handled staffing shortages by having everyone bus there table into a container at the end of the table). We also finished the deadly jigsaw puzzle of just Lego minifig heads.

Nina

Sunday we had more waffles then packed up and left. I decided I wanted to stop by Mt. Holly where my family had owned a cottage when I was growing up. It was redone but still there, along with 2 new houses on the land we’d owned. Jill and I had come to an informal agreement to retire to Vermont since we’d both spent parts of our summers there when young, and we checked out the houses on Amherst Lake, Echo Lake and Lake Rescue as we passed on the way to The Vermont Country Store in Rockingham. Jill found candy, I found jam, and Nina’s favorite purchase of the trip was a mood ring. We thought we’d stop at The Marina in Brattleboro for a late lunch, but they had closed their kitchen because they were shortstaffed. We went into downtown Brattleboro figuring that a pizza place would be open, but Echo was closed for several days due to staffing. But I saw they had a Turn It Up! and I went in there while Jill and Nina went in Boomerang for some vintage clothes. And good idea, as they recommended nearby Whetstone. They had addressed their staffing by having you order and pay from the app, then they delivered the food and we bussed when we were done. But the food was fantastic and they literally sat on the edge of the Vermont/New Hampshire state line with a great view of the Connecticut River. Nina and I also got to see the Amtrak train stop in town and tie up traffic. It turned out to be an early dinner, which was fine as when we arrived Jill’s sister Robin wasn’t going to be up much longer.

Nina

Monday the 9th I had cereal in the morning, while Nina had ramen, toast & raspberries (she saw the ramen when we packed up the Vermont house and demanded it pretty much every day of the week). We went out to take a walk in Robinson Park, vacant of people because the riverside was closed, and only lasted 5 minutes as the mosquitoes literally chased us out. Nina was happy as they had installed a pool since our last visit, and we had to pull her out before we went over to the Bradys for pasta (and I got to hear about Ava’s brush with bald faced hornets).

Nina Finn

Tuesday Nina and I had bacon & cereal for breakfast then we all went to Northampton. Jill went to Webs while Nina and I walked down to Turn It Up! She wasn’t in love with it, but crossing the street to Newbury Comics was a big hit – between the Avatar merch, Harry Potter merch and squishies (she got Nana to buy her a big squishy). We went to Osaka where we had Japanese food for lunch, then Robin’s husband Mike and son Finn got home for their trip to Maine and we got takeout from Golden Peacock and soft serve from Northside Creamery.

Nina

Wednesday I hadn’t slept well, plus I had a headache and my blood pressure was up (and it had already been up since my doctor had changed my meds), so I stayed in bed during the day. Nina had cereal & ramen to eat, then Jill and Robin’s dad and his wife came over and we got pizza.

Finn Nina Bob

Thursday I got up late and had a BLT. Jill and Nina were out and I stayed home with Mike and Finn. Finn can memorize numbers, and I thought it would be fun to call our home number since it had has a fun message. At least until he called it for the 30th time (and left a message I had to delete each time). After that I took a nap, then we had burgers & corn for dinner. A storm blew in and Mike and I had to run out to stop the patio tent from tearing itself apart with wind (the nearby airport measured gusts of 68 mph). Later I posted in things I never thought I’d say: “I really appreciate the former Skid Row frontman’s take on current events”.

Finn Jill Nina

Friday I had bacon & a donut, then Mike, Finn, Nina and I went to the Holyoke Children’s Museum. For dinner we got takeout from the Maple Leaf Pub and went out to Northside Creamery for dessert.

Nina

Saturday we headed out after packing. We made it more of a Falcon Ridge trip by taking 84 past the usual exit, then 87 into New Jersey. We’d been talking for years about stopping in Red Bank, and we finally did it this trip. We had to stop at the iconic Quick Stop (no sign of Kevin Smith, who was in town filming Clerks 3), then went to Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, and on Free Comic Book Day. We stopped in Oceanport at The Marina for a nice waterfront lunch. When we finally got home, Jill found I’d left the freezer door in the downstairs fridge open a crack, so everything was spoiled. That was fun to clean up.

Kerry Nina

Thursday the 19th was concert #6: Vertical Horizon and Train at Wolf Trap, nice to be in the pit with Linda. Full capacity and sold out – and so humid the first time I’ve only worn my mask for 2 hours and it came home damp. Friday we got takeout from Ozzies. Saturday we had tickets to go to Awesome Con, but it was inside and unsafe, no vaccination required and masks “encouraged”, so we took the loss and stayed home.

Train

Monday was Nina’s first day of school. I was pleased later that day when Wolf Trap joined most of the other local venues in requiring vaccination to attend shows. The next day I shared an image of “No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no vax, no service” and said “Now it’s time. I want to see this sign everywhere I go.” Friday I had Southern Electrical Service over to fix the post light, which turned out to be a burned out darkness sensor, later we ate takeout from BGR.

Nina

Saturday the 28th was concert #7: Eddie From Ohio at Arrowbrook Park. Back for a third try after canceling in past years due to weather and Covid – got 40 minutes in before the skies opened up. But good to see Bob, Susan, Lorna & David beforehand. Nina was just happy there was a playground and an ice cream truck (and when did cones hit $6?). Sunday was Nina’s birthday party at The Water Mine. Unlike the last 2 pool based parties, the weather cooperated and Nina and her friends had a great time. I spent most of the time getting pizza and 14 sundaes (Baskin Robbins was selling dolphin themed cups, which was the party theme). She got to have some of her friends over to the house as they had an hour to kill before their Girl Scouts meeting.

Nina & friends

Monday was Labor Day. Nina played the ping pong matches for a tournament a neighbor had created (I’d played the previous month). I gave money to The Mutual Aid Response Network (a group of Louisiana residents, led by Imagine Water Works, that activates during floods, storms, and other natural and manmade disasters) after Hurricane Ida.

Nina Jack

My music collection listening continued this month – highlight was an entire week of Tori Amos.

July

Thursday the 1st it was Jill’s birthday and her mom, older sister Melissa and nephew Tiernan came to visit. We had Chinese food for dinner and Jill got a cake and gifts. Nina was still in skateboarding camp and went to a skate park during the day Friday, then we ate at Amphora that night (in an empty dining room since outdoor seating was in the sun). Saturday Melissa, Tiernan, Nina & I went to Dave & Busters in Fairfax, then we all had a late lunch at Ford’s Fish Shack in South Riding. The outside seating was nice and the crab legs delicious – I just needed to walk over to the nearby grocery store to pick up some unsalted butter before the food arrived. Later Jill, Sue and I went to concert #2: Dar Williams at the Strathmore Patio Stage (they put a tent over the patio behind the concert hall). A very Falcon Ridge show as it rained heavily right before the show and some during, a cool breeze blew and kids fell asleep on their parents’ laps.

Nina
second from right, with two of her besties

Sunday was the 4th of July and everyone else went to the Baltimore Aquarium. I’d planned my day by starting yard work, but got a rude surprise as I got stung as I started on the Magnolia bush by what turned out to be a bald faced hornet. I did some first aid on the sting, then did the rest of the yard. I didn’t feel too bad after a shower, but the sting site was red and inflamed for a week. That night I grilled and everyone but Sue went out on the boat to watch the fireworks extravaganza. Monday was my holiday and Jill, Sue, Tiernan and I went to the Spy Museum in DC (Nina started art camp). Everyone but Sue went home Thursday.

Nina

Friday I had Veteran Pest come and remove the giant hornet nest (the guy calmly dressed in a beekeeper suit, went out and sprayed and scraped). He said they should be gone in a day. After work, Jill and I left for the weekend as Sue had offered to watch Nina. We hadn’t made dinner plans, and stopped at Parrando’s in Ashburn for Mexican. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t expecting my tacos to be so salty. We headed west and realized we would have no access to alcohol at the remote place we were staying in, so found Tri-State Liquors not too far away in Brunswick. It was a hidden gem, with dusty bottles up to the ceiling in every nook and cranny – I had to stop myself after a while. We kept going and were soon at the Inn at Stone Manor.

Jill Nina

Since we were near Catoctin Creek, Saturday we planned on going to the Catoctin Creek Distillery. Then when we mapped it, saw it was in Purcellville VA (and a closer drive to home). But we had bought tix for a tasting tour, so hit the road (and it was a nice drive). We drove through Hillsboro and it was a bit weird to see the short stretch of redone roads until I read this article. Purcelville was nice and we had burgers from Market Burger Fries & Shakes before the distillery. I had the cocktail sampler and bought some more liquor to add to the stash. We stopped by Re-Love It then headed back to the inn.

Kerry

Jill had thought about taking Lyft to and from Frederick, but I told her I wasn’t going to drink much. We drove to Frederick and I went to The Rock and Roll Graveyard and Record Exchange while Jill went to Magpie Fibers. Then I joined her at Brewers Alley for a pint before our reservation at Thacher & Rye. When we’d eaten there before, it was called Volt, but it was still run by Bryan Volltagio. We both had a delicious three course meal (the pork chop was outstanding). We decided to walk down to South Mountain Creamery to get ice cream, which was a little disappointing for coming from a creamery.

Kerry Jill

Sunday we checked out and drove to Middletown to have breakfast at The Main Cup, then went to Frederick to explore the treasures at Wonder Book & Video. Nina had sniffles on Friday that developed into a cold, but Sue took care of her, even going to Glory Days for a favorite meal. She had to get a Covid test just in case, but it was negative.

Nina

Monday the 12th Nina started Camp Goodtimes on The Road with the Grunspans. She got to go to Paddle Boating, Bowling/Cavalier Family Skating, the Science Museum of Virginia & Splashdown Waterpark. The only problem was their bus broke down on Wednesday and they were 2 hours late getting back. Friday we got takeout from Santinis. Saturday Jill took Nina over to Bards Alley where she met author Megan Wagner Lloyd. Sunday morning I got up at sunrise. I had found more bald faced hornets in a small nest in our bush, and I’d bought spray after the last nest. I dressed in ski clothes and a fish net over my hat (and looked ridiculous, Jill was bummed I didn’t take a picture) but when I went outside I didn’t have a clean shot without cutting branches, so went back to bed and called Veteran Pest the next day. Also my massive summer playlist served up “Hungry Heart” followed by “Hungry Eyes”. Randomized, my ass.

Nina Megan Wagner Lloyd

Wednesday the 21st Veteran Pest returned – the same guy in fact. He took one look, muttered that he should have come back an hour later the first time, and put on the suit, sprayed and scraped again (this time they did not come back). Nina had Aquatics Camp that week and got sunburned on her face before we started sending her with a sun hat, then Friday she had a picnic dinner with her friends in our backyard. Saturday was concert #3: Chris Thile at Wolf Trap, with a lovely dinner buffet (the volunteers served us each type of food like a cafeteria) on the Associates deck before. Lovely night for a concert, and so glad to be back at Wolf Trap. We had 2 tickets for Encore Circle that night, and Nina and Jill spent about half the show there and I didn’t have to leave early. Nina had her friend Bailey over on Sunday.

Nina

Wednesday the 28th was concert #4: Aoife O’Donovan at Wolf Trap by myself. It was a warm night with a slight breeze, makes it really feel like Falcon Ridge season. Having The Knights for her new “America, Come” song cycle and special guest Yasmin Williams made up for her show being my first Covid cancellation back in March 2020. Saturday we were up early to start vacation. They cancelled in 2020, but the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival was back for a one day event at the Goshen Fairgrounds and we got there to see Susan Werner, Vance Gilbert & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams for concert #5. We also saw Andrea, Jim & Chris from Shantytowne, then got takeout from Grey Area Tavern and ate at Andrea & Jim’s house. It was nice to catch up, but a wasp outside made Nina want to go inside, and with the 5 cats that live there, it wasn’t long until she had her first asthma attack in quite a while (also March 2020). Then we spent the night at Jill’s mom’s house.

Nina Kerry

During work, since I’d stopped listening to live shows, I had just been listening to random music, but in July decided to listen to my whole collection in order from the start. This month’s music collection note: I have all the AC/DC hits (mostly from Who Made Who and the Iron Man 2 soundtrack), but at some point I acquired 1983’s Flick Of The Switch and 1988’s Blow Up Your Video. They were entirely unnecessary (besides the hits).

June

Tuesday the 1st our CSA from Potomac Vegetable Farms started – got lots of leafy greens and garlic scapes. Friday we got takeout from Mehak Indian. Saturday Jill had her fiber friends over to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail since they were working on a project related to the movie, and Nina and Celina got to watch. Apparently too much time has passed, as we’d forgotten portions of that movie are very much NSFW. Parents of the year, us.

Nina

Friday the 11th was Nina’s last day of school. Sunday Nina and I invented a new game called plushieball, then Jill said “When your pool date with your kiddo gets canceled you settle down with a nice cuppa and Izzy’s Koala World on Netflix. My mug is a favorite from AlexCreates.” Monday Nina was back in Day Camp after it was cancelled last year – first time she’d been out of the house 5 days in a row since the pandemic started (and it was weird to eat lunch by myself all week).

Nina Jill

Friday the 18th I took the day off to run errands – finally found a good place I could get a good haircut (since my hairstylist of 16 years retired last year) at Roosters. Nina came home from camp that day with sunburn so bad on her shoulders they blistered. Jill wrote a blistering email to the camp director and they were better at reminding the campers to reapply after that. Nina had her Tae Kwon Do graduation to brown belt that night, and got through it without a single complaint.

Nina

Saturday I had to go back to work again – the day before I’d gotten my PC, but missed the fact that the video output was DisplayPort and I didn’t have an adapter for my monitor, so I got my monitors. Meanwhile, Jill took Nina to a coworker’s party, where there were kids and a playground and I didn’t see them for hours. We celebrated Juneteenth that night with sausages and chow-chow, green beans, corn & red velvet cupcakes.

dinner

Sunday we went to my dad’s house for Father’s Day and brought Bojangles for us, him and Patricia. Jill said “Happy Father’s Day to the man that takes care of our family in the best possible way! We love you, Kerry Frey!”

Nina

Friday the 25th we got takeout from Saao Thai. Later I had to LOL at this. Saturday Nina and I had a photo hashtag war and went shopping for Jill’s birthday (she budgeted her money and got some toys for herself too).

Kerry

Monday the 28th Nina started Camp on Wheels (skateboarding) and of course got a bad scrape on her knee the first day. Tuesday I said Wait, what!?! about this. Wednesday we had the maids in as we were about to have visitors.

Nina