December

Tuesday the 1st I watched the virtual book launch of Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell’s Pirate Stew. Wednesday I learned don’t mess with Nina’s school. The 4th was the last Bandcamp Friday of the year, and I’d saved a bunch of links to listen to and buy music, including this gem. On the 5th Jill said “Getting ready to decorate with some festive sustenance! Mince pies and coffee out of my Grinch mug! Also pictured is N’s lego advent that she is making out of her own legos as a surprise for Kerry and I every day; this one will be added to as the days progress! I love my daughter’s creativity”. We had the girl squad over to help decorate the tree and then they ate pizza and drank cocoa on the front porch.

Nina

Sunday the 6th in the afternoon we hosted my dad and his girlfriend outside for grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and pie since we missed getting together the weekend after Thanksgiving as we usually do. I’m delighted with the front porch situation – electric heater on one side, patio heater on the other. I also discovered that I want this. And after reading this I shared it with the hashtag #wearamask. On the 7th I posted this: So let me get this straight: the vaccine starts arriving this month, we get a new president next month, and the Washington Football Team just upset the undefeated Steelers? Keep up the good news, 2020 – you’ve got a lot to redeem yourself for.

Nina

On Friday the 11th I said “Whoa”, due to the new restrictions. We also got takeout from Makers Union that night. On Saturday I went out while Nina was doing her last virtual Wicked Christmas Carol class, stopping at CD Cellar and finally made it back to Dominion Wine and Beer to stock up for the season. I also stopped at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken to pick up lunch for everyone. That night the Grunspans had us and the rest of the girls over to celebrate Hanukkah. Sunday Jill chaperoned Nina and her Girl Scouts at Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights.

Nina

Monday the 14th was just supposed to be a braces adjustment at Nina’s orthodontist, but they took a look and said she was done. They also gave her a huge mug full of candy and gum to celebrate. Wednesday was the first day of my vacation (my vacation time was use or lose, and I opted to use since we’d only taken the one small trip to Delaware in 2020). I made a note to myself: when you’re on vacation and what would ordinarily have been a snow day, do not let the other parents know you’re free for recess. Girls are ruthless. I was still picking snow out of my clothes much later. I also got my new ROTO-Q 360 Non-Electric Self-Rotating Rotisserie on which I promptly cooked a chicken – very tasty. On day 2 of vacation Nina woke up at midnight, and it was after 1 before I got her back to sleep. So of course I was woken by Jill at 7AM with the news the HVAC was shaking the house. After I removed the ice connecting it to the house, no sense in going back to sleep. Then I played “Rock And Roll All Nite”, “Back In Black”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” & “Don’t Stop Believin'” to wake Nina up for school, and barely made it.

Nina

Friday the 18th we got takeout for the first time from Bombay Velvet (the lamb egg kathi roll was fantastic). Saturday not all cheery music needs to be holiday related. That night was the holiday party. I’ve hosted one every year since 2001, and while we scaled back to just socially distanced neighbors, it was still fun. We had cookies, beer and hot chocolate (in the Crockpot) and another neighbor had eggnog and cider, and we sang carols. The electric heater, patio heater and firepit were all out, and the snow melted and the ground got muddy in spots. Jill said “I got my Christmas wish. I got vaccinated on Thursday and feel just fine. A bit of a sore arm yesterday but otherwise no symptoms. Please continue to protect yourself and everyone around you. I really wish I could be with family for the holidays this year but this is a great first step. (A picture of a covid vaccination card in focus with lights from a Christmas tree in the background)”.

Nina

Sunday the 20th Jill dropped Nina off for a Girl Scouts hike and then shopped with her later. Wednesday Nina and I picked up her new retainer, and later on we watched the Santa Clauster!$@k livestream during dinner, and I had the perfect beer for Todd Wright’s performance. Thursday I was always glad to see fellow Pine Ridge Elementary alumni adding to the season. Friday was Christmas and we had a lot of presents – Nina was particularly excited by her new hoverboard and I liked my 12 days of beer. For dinner I made duck, and Nina was a big fan.

Nina Jill

Monday the 28th we went over to Chesapeake Beach to have lunch at my dad’s. On the way back Jill asked if I’d been to my family’s old house since the sale, and I said no, so she was curious if anything changed. Spoiler alert: it did (they’d torn it down and rebuilt). Tuesday I posted that I don’t know if it’s just 2020, but the way we watch movies now is my daughter picks a show on Netflix based on a movie (Home and Boss Baby so far), watches it, then wants to see the movie. On New Year’s Eve it’d only been in the past week or so I’d been having pandemic anxiety dreams, where I suddenly realize I’m not wearing a mask. The bad thing about the previous night’s dream is we were in a hotel room and we’d just convinced Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to play a song for us when I realized I wasn’t wearing one and had to leave (moments before I’d asked Mick if I could video them, and he told me Lewis Black had tried that the week before, and Keith had smacked the phone out of his hand with his guitar). I don’t think I’ve ever looked forwards to a year ending more, and that includes the year I got dumped on NYE. We finished the year by eating sushi from Ariake, then watching Nina and the rest of her fall class perform Wicked Christmas Carol, ending with 5 minutes to go before the ball dropped.

Kerry Jill Nina

November

Sunday the 1st I wondered if Timothy Olyphant was in all my favorite shows this year – as now he’s shown up in The Good Place, Fargo, and The Mandalorian. Monday and Tuesday Nina had no school; Tuesday was Election Day and it was a good day to watch girls run around outside and read a book about the touring history of Rush (due to the mail in ballots, the presidential election was not called for several days). Wednesday I saw this tweet that said “If anyone wants the most poetic piece of poetic poetry to come out of the coronavirus pandemic, there are three Carnival cruise ships in a muddy shipyard cove in Turkey, slowly being dismantled into scrap. The names of the three ships are Inspiration, Imagination and Fantasy.” Inspiration was the host of Edhead Cruise IV & V, which we were on. My daughter told us about her class election at dinner that night. I thought she was exaggerating when she told us the hearts covered Biden. I wanted to keep on counting them hearts.

election

Friday we’d already lost Best Buy in Reston, now we were losing Pet Valu. Illa always enjoyed his baths there. Jill wanted cheesecake that night, so we got takeout from Cheesecake Factory. Saturday we took a walk around the lake with Nina’s friends, then the news finally called the election in favor of Joe Biden. There was cheering in our neighborhood, followed by someone playing “God Bless America”. Biden and Harris gave great speeches that night, and I posted this “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over … Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher Power, by whatever name we honor him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.” – Gerald Ford. And with karma, Sunday brought us this laughfest.

Kerry Nina Jill

Tuesday the 11th was Veterans Day, and I thought this was appropriate. Wednesday I saw you can get a framed poster and ticket from your favorite show at the 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre, The Anthem or Merriweather from 2005 through 2020. Then I just needed to choose from the.. 29 9:30 Club, 3 Lincoln Theatre, 3 The Anthem or 11 Merriweather shows I’ve seen in that time period… Spoiler on my choice (got Beach Boys for my dad too):

emmet

Friday the 13th Nina’s school rented out the big parking lot at Wolf Trap with another school and got some food trucks for a socially distanced popup drive-in theater showing “Trolls World Tour”; we parked next to the Grunspans. Saturday Jill had ordered a Solo Stove firepit and it arrived and we had impromptu s’mores. Monday I was that years old when I learned The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme is actually called Yo Home to Bel-Air. We got takeout from Flippin’ Pizza that night as a school fundraiser. Tuesday I read this article and this stuck with me: “Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real’” Thanks, Trump. Also, I was shocked that they were already canceling May events and said wear your mask, people. This was a satisfying ending to the year.

Nina

Friday the 20th I said breathe in; breathe out after reading this. Saturday there were food trucks at the Reston South Park & Ride, so I recycled our glass, then got platters for Jill and I from Taste of the Pacific. Later we had one of Nina’s school friends over for outdoor playtime and a boat ride.

Nina

It was not unusual for us to have Christmas on days other than the 25th of December when I was young for trips to see family, but Thursday the 26th was the first time we had to postpone Thanksgiving. But we were thankful nonetheless, as Nina is now appendix-less. We were also thankful she was doing well, for the hospital workers who were taking care of her in the middle of a pandemic, and most importantly for realizing a week before she had no insurance (We thought she might have an ear infection – she was on Jill’s plan, and then we had looked at my enrollment and put her on mine for next year, while Jill just signed up solo for hers and didn’t consider the rest of the year. So I signed up that night on my company’s site for a “Spousal job change” event and added her to my insurance for the rest of the year). Jill said “We are grateful this Thanksgiving for dedicated Healthcare workers who give up holidays to care for us. I’ve worked my share of holidays and today I get to thank the amazing folks who helped care for Nina today as she got treated for appendicitis. She’s doing well post surgery; eating chocolate cake and watching videos. Please respect the Healthcare and other essential workers who sacrifice their holidays with loved ones by wearing masks and respecting each other. Much love.”

Nina

Friday Jill said “What makes a kid feel better? Making selections from the holiday toy catalogue! We are happy to be home but actually enjoyed our time at Fairfax Children’s Hospital; check out the cool viewfinder they installed on the unit! It was a fun surprise while we were taking our walk around the floor. Thank you all for the supportive thoughts, vibes, and prayers. We feel the love”. Friday night we had our delayed Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings, then shared the 4 pies Jill had baked Wednesday evening with Nina’s friends and families. Saturday we got takeout sushi from Sweet Ginger while Nina reluctantly recuperated (already ready to run).

Nina

October

Friday the 2nd I found a concert recording with this description: “Fifteen minutes into his rousing set, Mellencamp invited to the stage the unspeakably influential, NYC rock provocateur icon Lou Reed. There’s something almost meditative about the crowd’s piercing din — like when DeLillo’s protagonist in ‘White Noise’ finds a zen in a baby’s primal wails.” It does get pretty loud. I miss it. Saturday we and the Grunspans went to the Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Fest which had a moon bounce and bouncy slides, but very little social distancing. The girls did get to do a train ride and pick out pumpkins and plants and one slide, but we thought it would be better to have the moms grab their skateboards from home and head over to the Lake Fairfax skate park, but that was a bust as there was no social distancing and no mask wearing either. So we found a little playground and the girls ran around and played for a while.

Nina

Tuesday Jill took Nina to the dentist. Also I said “Damn it 2020 – just stop” as the news came in about Eddie Van Halen’s death. I found great stories like this one: “After the record’s release, Van Halen would remember shopping in a Tower Records while “Beat It” was playing on the sound system. “The solo comes on, and I hear these kids in front of me going, ‘Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen,’” he said. “I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘That IS me!’ That was hilarious.”” and one of my favorites: “If the riff to 1991’s “Top Of The World” sounded familiar to you when you first heard it you weren’t imagining it. It just so happens that Edward Van Halen used that same lick on the band’s #1 single “Jump”. Just “jump” to the 3:49 mark of the song and you’ll hear that familiar riff make its brief appearance as the song fades out. Seven years later it would return and carry Van Halen to the top of the charts once more.”. I also made playlists of Van Halen covering other bands, and other bands covering Van Halen. Also this was not the appearance I expected.

Nina

Friday the 9th Jill picked up takeout from Sweet Ginger and I enjoyed some sushi. I don’t know why it took me so long, but I finally figured out that grocery stores carry sake, so now I’ve got some at home since it’s my favorite drink to accompany sushi. Saturday the 10th Nina had been pressuring me to use the refinished paddleboard, and it was getting colder, so we did it. Of course she moved while I wasn’t expecting it, and we both fell into the lake. It was cold, and I was done at that point. Sunday I liked the cold open on SNL fine, but this is friggin’ hilarious. Jill said “Actually cooked tonight! Made this with delicata and butternut squash, dried instead of fresh sage, and half and half instead of heavy cream. I also roasted the delicata seeds to use as a garnish. Win!” On Tuesday Jill said “I’m so happy about my clean countertops and my new mug rack so I can display my seasonal mugs and other favorites!”. Wednesday I was not surprised by this: “Be not afraid of the accusations that you’re a voter suppressor, you’re a racist and so forth”. Thursday I laughed at Nickelback greatest hits compilation just a blank CD.

Kerry Nina

Friday Jill went to stand in line at the Government Center to vote. She said “I voted for Biden/Harris. Proud to do so, proud to say so. 1.5 hours later, no sticker but I get to keep this nifty pen?” Saturday Nina started rehearsals for A Wicked Christmas Carol with Acting for Young People in the morning, then in the afternoon we did the special drive thru hayride at Cox Farms where the jump scare got Jill and we got to pick our pumpkin. Jill said “I may be missing Rhinebeck weekend but we had a great (and pandemic safe) time and the apple cider donuts are on point!” Later the girls had cleaned out our front deck and made a sitting area, so we set up the projector and they watched Halloween themed Phineas and Ferb episodes outside. Sunday Nina had her Girl Scouts bridging ceremony in person. She also started selling magazines, nuts and candy to raise money to go camping and do community projects. After dinner we had a fire in the fireplace and made s’mores. Monday we got takeout from MOD Pizza as proceeds benefited Nina’s school. Late that night, Nina started losing teeth again (eventually lost 4 in the 4 weeks) for the first time in a while.

Kerry Nina Jill

Wednesday the 21st the girls made a massive leaf pile and had fun jumping and rolling around in it. It was a foggy morning on my birthday and there was only one song to wake Nina up… Jill said “Happy Birthday to the one who keeps this family on track through it all, providing that loving, stable foundation we need especially in these times! Next year, minibar, but this year, a homemade cake lovingly baked and decorated. We love you!”. We planned on going out the next night, but I chose some of my favorites for dinner that night since I’m the cook (burgers and artichokes). The restaurant Jill and I went to Friday while Nina had pizza with the Grunspans was Trummer’s, which we’d last been to 10 years earlier. The one weirdness was I told the waiter I was on a low sodium diet, and then the salad Jill and I both had was so salty neither of us took more than a few bites. Good thing the short ribs and the chocolate bourbon pecan pie which followed were delicious. Saturday I said to vote like your life depends on it… because it does. Sunday we saw this and Jill said “Extreme leaf pile antics. I was curious when she ran to get her bike helmet…. safety first?”

Nina

Thursday the 29th Jill started her new job in a hospital. I noted that this was useful information about the pandemic. Also, this is why I supported Alcorn wholeheartedly – they need to stay golf courses. Later we got to livestream with our FRFF friends as we watched this:

Friday we had the girl squad over to watch the livestream of In Search of The Sanderson Sisters: A Hocus Pocus Hulaween Takeover, with the reunion of the original cast. But they thought it was boring, so we had them watch cartoons and eat s’mores instead. Saturday was Halloween. Jill said “Ready for trick or treating! It’ll be a grab your own treat bag thing.” and “A vampire roamed the neighborhood tonight looking for socially distanced treats… and got loads!”

Nina

September

Tuesday the 1st we were still on vacation in Bethany Beach. It was another beach day and I brought lunch to the beach. That night it was the Grunspans’ turn to take the girls and they took Nina for pizza and Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf while Jill and I walked over to 14 Global and explored their tapas (the Blood and Smoke was a spicy strawberry cocktail and the shishito peppers were excellent).

Nina

Wednesday morning I went to get a haircut at Cut Above. The Grunspans had left and Jill and Nina went to a big pool in the condo complex. I brought them lunch there. Later in the afternoon, we drove up to Dogfish Head where we picked up a order from the brewery. Then we parked in Rehoboth Beach and shopped a bit, then spent some time in the arcade off the boardwalk. Then it was time for Nina’s birthday dinner on the roof at the Cultured Pearl (sushi is her current favorite) where she enjoyed feeding the koi. Jill said “Today we celebrated this girl’s annual trip around the sun. She’s fierce, feisty, has BIG dreams and is not afraid to chase them! Her confidence grows each year and I’m so proud to know and love her. You will always be my Sunshine Girl.”

Jill Nina Kerry

Thursday we packed up and headed out, stopping to pick up the paddleboard. We stopped in Annapolis to have lunch outside at Blackwall Hitch with Dad and Patricia. Nina got to open the rest of her presents after we got home. Friday it was our wedding anniversary. We only have the live music from our wedding, but I unearthed the proposal and put it on Facebook. That evening we had Catherine the babysitter over and had dinner at Clarity in their parking lot. I had a choose your own cocktail called the “Builders Permit” where I elected to have the Lagavulin 16 Year Old Whisky in honor of it being our 16th anniversary (the tasting menu was excellent as well, especially the Wagyu steak). Saturday Jill drove to Ikea to get a bookcase just for Nina’s Legos (she had a lot). That night we had pork porterhouse chops from Sylvanaqua Farms crowned with sautéed skillet apples and green beans. Jill said “It feels like Fall!” That night I pulled a bottle of 30 year old port out of the wine rack to drink. Upon closer inspection, it was bottled in 2008, making it 42 years old. So I posted “In honor of that auspicious number, a toast to you and yours – may the rest of this godforsaken year be better than what’s occurred so far.”

Kerry Jill

Tuesday the 8th was Nina’s first day of school and it went a lot smoother than the virtual learning in the spring (the new laptop also helped). She got and hour for lunch and recess, and as soon as she finished eating, she would go outside to play with her friends. Thursday I observed that the British Avengers are gone with the passing of Diana Rigg. Saturday we went out on the boat for lake concert from Irresponsible. During the weekend, a wire came loose from Nina’s braces, so Tuesday I took her to Northern VA Orthodontics for a fix, picking up some Nando’s next door for lunch as a treat. The next day Jill’s mom arrived for a visit (the only possible time with Jill about to start a job in a hospital).

Nina

Nina’s first visit to Jammin’ Java was at 3 weeks old to see Séan McCann (from Great Big Sea). 9 years later she was there on Thursday the 17th to perform “Tomorrow” at the Open Mic for The Music School (she’s been taking virtual lessons there since last month). Friday we started having Catherine the babysitter over after school so the girls got to play at least one guaranteed afternoon a week as virtual and in person activities started filling up the time (Tae Kwon Do, voice lessons, tutoring, etc.). Saturday Nina and Sue made breakfast, then in the afternoon my mom and sister and their families joined us on a Zoom call. Later we walked around the lake and went out on the boat for the last lake concert with The Nighthawks (after a power scare that later turned out one off the batteries in parallel was bad).

Nina

Wednesday the 23rd I had to share this video because we’re briefly in it. I also got an email received today: “I’m writing in regards to some music of mine that you are selling via Amazon. I am no longer playing music professionally, and would like to remove these albums from the Internet. I was wondering if you would be so kind as to take down these albums from your site. I’d really appreciate it.”
My response: “I would be happy to remove those albums. Just add them to your cart and pay for them and they will be gone from the Internet”. Thursday it was back to Northern VA Orthodontics again for a loose wire (unfortunately the Reston location is closed on Thursdays so we had to go to Brambleton). Friday we had the girls over for a pizza party and a planned backyard screening of the premiere of “Miraculous World: New York – United HeroeZ” with our new projector, but the rain had other ideas and the girls sat socially distanced inside to watch the movie.

Kerry Nina Jill

Saturday the 26th Jill and Sue went yarn shopping in Old Town, then in the evening Jill and I went to H Street in DC where we had a lovely dinner at Maketto including some dim sum favorites. Jill had spotted the Pie Shop on the way in, so we got some sweet slices for dessert to take home and share and some savory slices for lunch the next day. We also took the boat out on Sunday.

Kerry Jill

Tuesday Nina managed to sprain her left wrist at her desk (not at the gymnastics routine she’s been doing at recess minutes earlier), so after school got a bandage wrap after a doctor visit. I also asked Facebook that since I had received my absentee ballot and dropped it at the polling place, I had now voted, so please stop giving me ads asking me to register and/or vote. Wednesday Nina and Sue turned their bedtime routine into a show they performed us (Sue was leaving the next morning).

Sue Nina

August

On the 1st we should have been at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, but we still had a virtual meeting and family picture with our Shantytowne peeps. And we still got to see a concert, another boat concert, this time great to have Tommy Gann for concert #6 (so now I’ve been to 6 concerts this year, when I normally would have hit about 50 by now and I’ve produced half of them. 2020 is so strange). I also got requests by text from a neighbor during the show (Jack Johnson was a success, but she also requested Hall and Oates while he was playing one).

Nina’s musical theatre camps had come to an end, so we made our own plans for August. Our friend Seth taught ukulele to her on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning and she started voice lessons with Rachel through Jammin’ Java on Wednesday afternoons. She also worked on 2 pages of a 3rd to 4th grade workbook each day. In the afternoons, she joined the “Girl Squad”: her and 3 other neighborhood girls, who played together (all masked) under the watchful eye of Julia, our babysitter (that continued from June and July, but more officially with the other girls this month). On Tuesday the 4th I was so glad my state is part of this. Also, this came and looks great to display the alcohol. Wednesday Nina left soap in the tub, then I found she was watching unauthorized videos, plus Seth had a migraine and couldn’t teach. So she practiced ukulele in my office, then went upstairs to do her workbook. When I went upstairs after 30 minutes, she was playing and told me she couldn’t find the workbook. FML. Thursday’s out of context quote: “Dad, how do you clean Gatorade off a skateboard?” Also we found out contact tracing will have to be automated for now.

Nina

Saturday the 8th we took the boat out and Jill and Nina went swimming. Tuesday Nina started Wet N Wild, a twice weekly social distanced pool playtime from RA Camps that she loved. Friday, if you wanted to hear Margo Price cover WAP, here ya go. NSFW if you’re still in an office or have small children nearby. Also, They Might Be Giants made a Schoolhouse Rocks song. Later I took the Girl Squad out on the boat, but swimming was done for a while.

Jill Nina

Saturday the 15th Nina asked for a special breakfast and got a waffle with ice cream toppings and strawberries and peaches with whipped cream. Sunday I wondered if anyone else’s child was cosplaying as all The Loud House children? Just mine? Alrighty then. Also, this was powerful. Thursday we got lobster rolls from Mason’s. Friday was Nina’s last day with her babysitter Julia, so we made a video for friends and family to commemorate the occasion. Saturday we were singing this so had to introduce Nina to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Sunday Nina had an early birthday party as 2 of the neighborhood kids were moving to Spain for the year, so we brought out the slip ‘n slide, juice boxes and cupcakes for all the neighborhood kids.

Nina

Monday the 24th we found new babysitter Catherine, who a long while ago lived next to us. That worked well for our last regular week of summer, then we’d found a good way to have a socially distanced vacation: rent a condo in Bethany Beach for 5 nights (leaving before Labor Day craziness). We left Saturday morning and then stopped at the shopping center. The paddleboard Jill had purchased several years earlier had been shedding fiberglass, and no surf shops around us would repair it, but she had found a place near Bethany that would fix it. Getting the paddleboard tightly tied to our portable roof rack took some doing, but we were soon on out way again without any problems. We stopped for smoothies at Smoothie King in Bowie and lunch at Sonic in Bridgeville, then went to Dollar Book Shuffle in Laurel, DE. They say they have “over 40,000 quality used books and 15,000 DVDs & CDs” and I don’t doubt it, but the CDs are completely unorganized and it I spent a good long while sorting through them. We then ended at Bethany Beach and checked in to our condo. After we unpacked, we checked out the beach, then walked to the downtown area (masks required everywhere) where we had made a reservation at Ropewalk. Unfortunately as were walking there I’d taken my glasses off to wipe the sweat from my face, and felt a hot pain in my right eye, and blinking didn’t help. I went to the restroom in the restaurant and couldn’t see anything, but the pain had lessened. I had crab legs and we all had crushes (Nina’s in a fish bowl). After dinner they left early and stopped at Candy Kitchen, then we had candy for dessert in the condo.

Nina Jill

Sunday we stopped at the nearby Dunkin’ to get donuts for breakfast, then dropped off the paddleboard. I dropped off Jill and Nina, then spent a couple hours shopping at Giant. It turned out one of the neighborhood families, the Grunspans, also decided to spend some time in Bethany Beach and Nina was delighted to go to the beach with her friends, while I spent the afternoon in the condo (my eye had not gotten better, so I got to research eye doctors). I made ribs for dinner, then we went to Ba Roos Ice Cream for dessert. Monday we got to Sussex Eye Center, where my cornea was diagnosed as scratched, and I got a prescription to fix that. We went to DB’s Seafood Co to get takeout for lunch (good lobster roll). For dinner, we’d decide to trade off with the Grunspans and we’d host all the girls while they went out to dinner, then switch the next night. I made grilled chicken and spaghetti for everyone, then we took them to Shipwrecked for mini golf & ice cream.

Nina

July

For Jill’s birthday on Wednesday the 1st, she was still recovering and we stayed at home, but I made her request for dinner: chicken nuggets and fires in her new air fryer. I was sure everyone will be focused on the election in November, but noted that voting is important every year. Turning the VA statehouse blue was crucial for these new laws in effect now. This seemed like a good cause. More info here. Thursday one of Jill’s friends came by for a belated birthday visit, and Jill said “It was so wonderful to get a drive by birthday celebration from her and her sweet girl! Made me feel so special! Love you”.

Nina

Friday I took the workday holiday off (usually I work part of one day of the weekend because a number of days I only get 7 or so hours in) and we went to Lost Dog Cafe in Merrifield and had lunch outside, then I picked up meat and beer at Red Apron. I also said to wear your mask. Saturday Nina requested something special for breakfast so got strawberries with regular and blue dyed whipped cream. Then we watched a cardboard boat float and had the neighborhood kids over to open a pinata filled with candy and alcohol to belatedly celebrate Jill’s birthday (grownups took the alcohol) and play on the slip and slide. In the afternoon we took 4 hours to watch Hamilton (someone had so many questions: about history, blackmail, casting and song genre choices), then made these scrumptious ribs (the little bottle of Jack Daniels from the morning really came in handy). In the evening we went out on the boat, and as usual, Lake Thoreau did not disappoint (they were still going off past midnight). Sunday I saw “Weird Al” Yankovic had put up a video version of his Hamilton Polka.

fireworks

Monday the 6th I felt this will happen to me in the future. Tuesday I had to quote this interview: “That mask is not for you. That’s for everybody around you. If you care about your neighbors, your family, the people that you encounter in the store — wear that mask.” Wednesday I saw that The Far Side was back. Jill was still off while she recovered from her surgery and said “I took a walk around the lake for the first time after my surgery 2 weeks ago and discovered 2 trails I didn’t know about before! 10 years in and still new things to discover.” Friday I saw this and knew what I was listening to the rest of the afternoon. That night we had dinner outside at Ariake, where Nina ate all her sushi and then proceeded to finish off Jill’s bento box (after she watched a ladybug escape it).

Nina

Saturday the 11th I went to Meadowlark Gardens for a socially distanced memorial to my elementary and high school friend Gretchen. Later we were so happy to host another boat concert, this time with Robbie Schaefer. Perfect ending to the day. Monday I thought we’d already come to this conclusion. After a Banh Mi on a handmade sourdough hoagie roll Thursday, I may never go back to store bought. Friday I noted that you can apply to vote absentee by mail now for the November election in Virginia.

Robbie

Saturday the 18th my friend Norm pointed out that an artist had painted giant wings on a parking garage nearby, so I brought Nina to take some pictures. She convinced me that since we were out, we also had to go to Duck Donuts. Monday Nina had finished her 3 weeks of virtual camps at Lopez Studios (with songs from Wizard of Oz, Lion King and School of Rock) and chose to switch back to AFYP for the last 2 weeks of virtual camps, with acting camp and musical theater bootcamp. Tuesday I said “Oh dang” as Fairfax County Public Schools switched between hybrid and all-virtual classes to all-virtual classes. Thursday I thought this is a fantastic Dolly Parton parody for our times. Friday I saw this was a quick way to let Congress know live venues are important. Later I went to Golden King to get dim sum while Nina and Jill were at the pool.

Nina

Saturday the 25th Nina and Jill had a spa day. Sunday after having listened to the amazing feat of Hamilton Act 1 but it’s The Muppets, I figured he was done, but he did Act 2 too! Tuesday I said just wear your mask. Wednesday morning after forgetting our CSA veggies the day before I bribed Nina to come with me by offering Dunkin’ Donuts. Thursday I was today years old when I found out Levar Burton was “a police detective trying to arrest the band”. Also, this was tweet of the day and I made this intriguing image of Nina at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in 2012 and 2019 in response to a post on a Facebook group asking for pictures of kids at their first and most recent Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Later Jill got takeout from Mama Tigre, some wonderful Mexican with Indian fusion.

Nina

From Senator Janet Howell’s newsletter
Continue reading “July”

June

Tuesday the 3rd we started picking up our CSA from Potomac Vegetable Farms. We were members there from 2005-2009, and rejoined when we saw how hard it was to find some foods during quarantine. We started with lots of leafy greens. Friday Jill said “I know how many of you love stories, especially sci fi, fantasy, etc. Check out this podcast from Ariel Therkiel as she narrates some of my favorite fiction genres in at talesfromablackuniverse.com. I’m hooked. And it goes without saying to support her for her work, and check out the authors as well and support them too.” Saturday I had to go into the office then picked up some beer from Aslin on the way home; this just seemed appropriate for the news. Monday I thought maybe we don’t need to go back to eating in restaurants quite yet. Wednesday Nina had her hair dyed blue for the last day of class and got takeout from Flippin’ Pizza, then Thursday they had a virtual popsicle party before school ended early and we took the boat out and she went swimming in the lake with friends.

Friday the 12th was the start of Phase Two of reopening (now eating inside a restaurant, going back to the gym and in-person worship services was ok). But we didn’t do any of those. That week after finally getting Nina’s summer schedule set (virtual musical theater camp, baby sitter, math tutor) I realized she had nothing to do the say after school ended. Plus I hadn’t taken any vacation days yet in the year, so we had a daddy daughter day for the first time in months: Whole Foods for sunscreen and fruit, Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park for mini golf, Frito Chicken for a fried chicken lunch outside, Target for toy selection (Barbies, with her own money) and curbside beer pickup at Old Ox Brewery. Delighted to see almost everyone wearing masks inside and practicing social distancing. Later we got takeout from Bebop Korean-Mexican Grill. Saturday we had a nice family walk and admired some BLM sidewalk chalk art, then had Morgan and her family over for a boat ride and swimming.

Monday the 15th Nina started virtual musical theater camp from the Mason Community Arts Academy – she and Jill got takeout from Cafesano when I had to go into the office. Tuesday I was excited that Terraset’s Virtual Talent Show was finally out. Friday I noticed that Fountains of Wayne fans may like this (plus that day (Juneteenth) Bandcamp was donating their profits to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund). Saturday we had an early, socially distanced Father’s Day with my dad. We brought Bojangles and sat apart and ate. Jill said on Sunday “He’s always up for an adventure with our fearless girl. He’s the best Dad I know. Loving, patient, understanding, supportive. Much love to you always and forever”. Nina gave me a voice message, and her phone transcribed it like this: “Hey dad you’re the best kid that I love you all the way The Odyssey the Darth Vader when hes me …. You are the One anyone could ask Like you let me have Fine and you me Sometimes I don’t care the kids Nice stat Indian I love you with my whole heart I love you don’t make the It’s fine To have UA …. It is Yes In the best one I need one Today Israel or Ask for Fast Said III could have I love you With my heart I love you all the way yo all the way hello you you only you only do All the way ugly way even in event it please thing isn’t exactly spell that’s how I say has how I say I said Can I say I hate how I say how I say ye I love you too minute one minute is not fun I’m gonna sing you this is”. Monday I saw Black Sabbath is selling Black Lives Matter T-shirts themed after Black Sabbath’s iconic Master Of Reality album cover. The shirts are being sold for $25, with all proceeds going to the non-profit Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

The next week was a hard one, even for 2020. Jill had stomach pain making it hard to sleep on the Saturday, but by Tuesday the 23rd was experiencing constant pain, went to urgent care, who sent her to the emergency room. She chose Reston because she knew the surgeon who would remove her gall bladder the next day. She was home Wednesday (Covid-19 patients on her floor was a big motivation to leave) and recovering nicely; Nina and I got takeout from Nando’s for dinner. Then Thursday Gretchen, an old elementary school friend, has passed and a teen has drowned in the lake next to ours. That night I wondered if Gretchen would have appreciated having her memory toasted with a whiskey made by blasting Metallica at it as it aged? Yes, I think she would. Jill said “Finishing my Sante Fe cardigan now that I have much more time on my hands for the next week or two. Just have unexpected abdominal surgery and you too can be a Lady of Leisure!”

Saturday the 27th I couldn’t believe in 2020 I had to order a bootleg from Japan, but now I have the 2 best performances from the 2001 WBCN River Rave (the Black Crowes and Aerosmith). Later I hadn’t been to a concert for 4 months – until that night. We’d discussed hosting house concerts before, but the need for social distancing forced us to get creative. We hosted Todd Wright on our boat for concert #4, and it was so much fun. Monday Nina started virtual musical theater camp from Lopez who she did in person camp with last year, then the month ended on another down note as Jill’s friend Joanna passed, and she said “I just found out that she passed away a few days ago. She was an amazing friend and I loved her dearly. I had been trying to get her to come down for a visit so we could reconnect in person and I’m so sorry it never happened. She will be missed so much by everyone who knew her.”

May

Friday May 1st I thought this is great. That evening Nina got her purple belt in a virtual ceremony. Monday Jill said “This girl has been asking for a couple of weeks to try kayaking on her own, and I was finally brave enough to let her try it! She did great, although she did say it’s harder than it looks.” Wednesday Jill said “Fun science adventures in homeschooling: So Nina wanted to try out her science experiment kit as a rainy day activity. She chose a color changing liquid experiment (bases vs acids). One of the ingredients was red cabbage powder, but it wasn’t labeled as such. So I took a discreet sniff: sure enough, that’s what it was. Nina decided she wanted to also confirm, and thus inhaled a good amount of it up her nose. I tell her (ok, yelled at her) to blow her nose: purple snot ensues. Then I tell her to use the nasal spray and flush it out: to her delight, the snot turned blue. Then she read the label of the saline spray: contains baking soda. Successful experiment? We think so!”. And “Wearing my now favorite stay at home outfit: cozy hoodie, black leggings, and hand knit sport weight socks (these are Must Stash sport in the Kama Sutra colorway). Currently spinning sunshine aka a luscious batt from Frost Yarn . I’m probably in the minority, but I’m very ok with the slow spring we’re having here. It feels fitting, somehow.”. Plus “Voila! Sourdough pretzels with jalapeno cheese dip! Take my word for it, they’re as tasty as they look!”. Later I had to thank to Honda of Chantilly for picking up my car and doing my inspection and emissions, oil change and other maintenance, while I only had to leave the house to give them the keys. They even washed the car. We got takeout from Founding Farmers that night, before finding out the next day the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival was cancelled…

Nina

The next week Jill was back at work due to the governor allowing elective surgeries to resume. Friday the 8th This happened before Axl started feuding with the Treasury Secretary… Later Nina made her first video game in Girl Scouts. Use the arrow keys to catch the broom before the other cat catches you. She also recorded her part for the school talent show that afternoon. Monday Dave Grohl gets it. Also finally, someone has encapsulated how I feel about DJ Khaled: from a summary of last year’s musical-guests on SNL (this year’s is here) “DJ Khaled is the most successful Guy Who Screams His Own Name While Other People Perform in the business, and he brought his screaming-his-own-name A game for SNL’s season finale. Imagine a medley of performers and songs you’re interested in hearing, except that medley is punctuated every few seconds by an airhorn, and that airhorn is a man, and that man is shouting, “SING IT, GIRL!” at SZA while she’s already attempting to sing. You know who’s really great at singing? SZA. You know who does not need to be heard yelling, “SING IT, GIRL!” at SZA as she sings? Three guesses, and if you somehow guess wrong the first time, I will appear in the clouds overhead like Mufasa in The Lion King and bellow “ANOTHER ONE!” at you, because that’s how the universe works.”

Nina

Sunday the 10th Jill said “I had such a lovely day today; thoughtful gifts, yummy food, great company both at home and digitally, and got to do so many of my favorite things: crafting, being out on the water, and rewatching a classic. Nina really got into Mother’s Day this year which really warmed my heart! Bonus favorite: finally getting to introduce her to the Princess Bride; she seemed to really enjoy it which was pretty awesome. I know this day is not an easy one for a myriad of reasons; no matter what this day holds for you I hope it was a peaceful one; what you needed it to be.” Wednesday we got takeout from the finally reopened Reston Kabob. Tuesday the 18th I finally found a mask that speaks to me.

Nina

Fridays there were no virtual classes, just assignments, but on the 22nd Nina joined a new virtual Storytelling Club and got one last lunch bunch with Mrs. Zemke. That night we had takeout from Bollywood Bistro. Saturday Jill said about our hike at Lake Fairfax “It was the perfect day to go on a new adventure by hiking a new trail! Nina said she was bored with our walking paths so we tried something a little more challenging and we all had fun.” On Memorial Day we had Janice over for a socially distanced boat ride. Jill said “New growth. I’m astounded that my orchid has lasted and is actually getting ready to bloom with minimal fuss from me.”

Nina

Thursday the 28th the governor ordered face masks indoors and we were pleased about that. Friday we got takeout from Glory Days Grill, and on Sunday we had one of Nina’s friends and her family over for another socially distanced boat ride. Later Jill said “Give money. Give time. Give respect. Give love. Give knowledge. We must do better. We know in our hearts what is wrong and what is right. Black Lives Matter.”

Nina

April

April was the first full month of quarantine and it was hard at times. Jill only worked two days, so she was primary teacher for the first half of the month. April 1st I had my first virtual meeting with my massage therapist as she taught me some Egoscue techniques so I could get a better posture. On the 3rd I said “Oh, come on!” to Bill Withers’s passing. That day Jill said “Leveled up on the stealth teaching today. I roped Nina in with Cat Heaven Island on Amazon Prime, first film she’s ever watched with subtitles. As we were watching (and reading) they kept referring to the before and after of the tsunami in 2011. So we did a little sideline into learning about tsunamis. It was a neat documentary and now we both need to go.” Saturday Nina continued her musical class online; Monday evening we took the boat out.

Nina Jill

Tuesday the 7th Nina’s Tae Kwon Do classes went virtual through Zoom. Wednesday we got takeout from Taco Zocalo (trying to support local restaurants once a week) then that night started the howl – initially just an 8PM howl at the moon, but people kept doing it every night. Thursday Nina built a box fort in the basement with all the boxes we’d moved the book in. Friday I said farewell to John Prine with a cover by Stuart and Susan. Jill said “Knitting a thing for a friend and wearing my Nightmare before Christmas leggings bring me joy today. Enjoying my newly enforced hour of Alone Time is also bringing me joy!” The 12th was Easter and we had a virtual tea with the grandmothers over Zoom, then I made Eggs Benedict and artichokes for dinner and now Nina loved artichokes. Jill said “The Easter Bunny also hid Hershey kisses around the room because she’s cheeky like that.” I love it when I wake up earwormed with a song, look to see what the artist has been up to and find out they released a lovely Stones cover for charity the day before on Monday.

Jill Nina

Monday Jill said “We’ve started working on the packet for distance learning and…well. I had to explain that at school she doesn’t sit in her teacher’s lap and get constant validation about each individual problem she’s working on. She does her work and then the teacher checks her work. So, needless to say it’s going well.” Tuesday the 14th was supposed to be the start of virtual learning, I was tech support getting Nina ready. I’d gotten her laptop ready and put it in sleep, but I could not get it to connect to Wi-Fi even with a reboot. I remembered where the ethernet -> socket -> ethernet system was, so pulled it out and got her working, then came downstairs, turned on my laptop, and then the feedback came from the speakers. I thought that had gone away with the new PC I bought in January to get Windows 10, but turns out I needed to find my well shielded speakers instead. In other support news, I had to jump start Jill’s car, but that’s another story. Nina was very happy to see her class for the 1st time in 4 weeks. Unfortunately despite having a month to prepare, Fairfax County Public Schools didn’t prepare for scaling or security of online classes, and the next day (after a 2 hour delay) cancelled the rest of the week. At least Nina’s teacher gave out several assignments each day. Wednesday Jill said “Springtime nature walks… I wish I had seen more people maintaining social distance on the trails though…”

Nina

Friday the 17th we got takeout from Ariake. Saturday Nina’s musical theater classes at Lopez Studios resumed over Zoom. That afternoon we proved there’s still entertainment in the middle of quarantine, especially when we get a beer delivery from Old Ox Brewery with one of the delivery people dressed up as Left Shark. That night we used Zoom to play Cards Against Humanity with the Cannons after Nina was asleep. Sunday I made sourdough bread with starter Teresa sent me. Monday Nina was taking classes over school channel 21. Wednesday we got takeout from Neighborhood Restaurant Group (aka Neighborhood Provisions), which got us beer resupply as well. I have not laughed so hard in a long time as I did at one scene in that night’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine season finale Thursday. Friday I was pleased someone’s been fired for this nonsense in school. Jill said “Just really digging these tiny ripples on the water tonight. Trying to find peace where I can; hoping you all can as well.”

Nina

Saturday the 25th Jill and Nina created a games book case in the dining room. Jill said “More adventures in quaran-cleaning…. I had no idea we had so many games. It’s one in, one out from now on!” Sunday I made brunch with sourdough cinnamon buns and homemade turkey sausage. Monday school finally got started online for real, with 30 minute sessions at 9:30, 1, and 3:15 with assigned work in between to do online. Jill said “Look at this STUNNING watercolor that chantaleliseart created for me! This is one of my favorite photos of me and my daughter, and she turned it into a piece of art I will cherish always! Thank you so much!” Tuesday we got donuts from Duck Donuts in Herndon. Wednesday we got takeout from Nando’s.

Nina Jill

March

Sunday March 1st we decided to get in one more day of skiing and drove up to Whitetail. Nina went to ski school, and Jill and I hung out in front of a fire before taking a run. The warmth of the day had made the snow chunky and Jill was done after a run, while I wanted to try the blue trails. The conditions made my thighs hurt after a while, and I took a break before it was time to pick Nina up. When she hadn’t shown up after 15 minutes, we talked to the school. Turns out they were confused and thought she was a full day school student, and was feeding her lunch. But she got her wish and we all took a run together, then Nina and I did another couple runs together. On the way back, we stopped at Family Meal for a scrumptious early dinner plus some good beer shopping next door at District East. We finished watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Wizards Unite had an event coming up that would deal with events in the sequel.

Nina

The coronavirus was on our minds all month as it graduated into a pandemic. But first Nina got a cold on Sunday the 9th so she was home from school the Monday (Jill off) and Tuesday (I took care of her until Jill got home, then went in for 8 hours). She was back at school Wednesday but we could see the writing on the wall. We started stocking up on groceries and I asked for a laptop from work so I could start teleworking. Sure enough, as the closings started to come fast and furious (including lots of concerts), Fairfax County schools closed on Friday the 13th. The governor of Virginia closed all schools later that day and we started our home schooling with a half day of work and a half day of play for Nina (I managed to get my work done too). Saturday we stayed at home (but we decided the kids could play outside) and worked hard on getting all the books out of the office as the carpet was getting replaced Monday. Jill caught Nina saying “It’s time to chill with Art.” That night, after starting Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, I took a late night trip to Safeway to see the pasta, rice, flour, meat and hot dogs sections vacant. Good thing I was mostly after produce and staples not in those sections. Sunday I went into work to work a half day as no one else was there, then needed to bring home some things I was missing (including my chair).

Nina

Monday the 16th started our full time social distancing. Jill had her day off that day, but I had to stay upstairs as well since the carpet guys were there, then the room needed airing out the rest of the day. The rest of the week was hard as it was me and Nina until Jill got home around 4:30, trying to balance her studying and recess time with my telework time. Unfortunately I had to work after she went to bed some days. We started the week still playing outside with other neighborhood kids, but by the time the week ended the news had gotten worse and we stopped (it was hard on her with the spring weather starting and the cherry blossoms blooming). We still had St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday with low sodium corned beef and cabbage.

Kerry Nina

Sunday the 22nd we started getting a lot more virtual. The Shantytowne stitch and bitch started the previous week morphed into a general catchup, and we had to move off Google Hangouts to Zoom because of the 10 person limit in Hangouts. Nina started doing her Tae Kwon Do lessons online, and on Tuesday our friend Seth taught Nina and Penny the basics of flight during a virtual teaching session. We still had plenty of food after stocking up and on Monday we had a four course dinner delivered from Equinox (the pasta course was my favorite). The week was a lot easier on me as Jill’s surgery center changed to only be open 1 day a week, and they didn’t need her, so she was the teacher all week, and I got to work mostly uninterrupted downstairs. They also announced on the 23rd schools would be closed for the rest of the year. There are some silver linings. If the rest of the maple syrup hadn’t been sold out, I would have never known about bourbon barrel aged maple syrup.

Nina

On the 25th we did a Zoom call with my sister and her family. Later Jill said “Today’s first homeschool activity: spelling/vocabulary
I explain the meaning of synchronize and use a couple of explanations: it’s when you make the same movements at the same time, like the Rockettes kicking or synchronized swimming when they’re all doing the same routine at the same time.
N: What if one person is doing one thing and then right after the other person does it?
Me: nope, it has to be at the same time
N: what if the 2 people are dancing different moves at the same time then switch those moves?
Me: no, same movement at the same time.
N: what if there are 20 dancers and 10 are doing 1 move and 10 are doing the other move?
Me: well, there are 2 groups of synchronized dancers.
N: but what if…
Me: Look, this is what the word means. I’m not going to change what the word means!
… 19 words to go….”

Jill Nina

Friday the 27th we used Zoom to play Cards Against Humanity with the Cannons after Nina was asleep. Saturday was gloomy and Nina had an online drama class while I worked on restoring the library while Jill made pierogies (she said “Adventures in cooking with lots of time on my hands…. pierogi. They’re stuffed with sauteed cabbage and I really hope they’re yummy because whoa. A lot of work.”), then we did another Zoom call with the Cannons over dinner (it was mostly Nina and Penny playing). Sunday was really nice in the afternoon, so we took a walk, finally got the boat out, and grilled and ate dinner outside. Monday the governor finally issued an official stay at home order, so we knew the previous two weeks had been just a preview. Jill said about the boat ride “Doing our very best version of social distancing. We said hello to many of our neighbors from a safe distance this afternoon. Many of us were out enjoying the sunshine!” Monday Jill saw this and said “Thank goodness. Just what I needed to read right now. Any parent trying to navigate with school aged kids right now, here’s a common sense, concise article filled with wisdom.” Tuesday she said “I know people love the full bloom of the cherry trees, but this part, when it rains gentle pale pink petals, is my favorite. Redbuds then Dogwoods after that! It’s still Spring, after all…”

Nina