January

Saturday the 4th might have been our most epic Wizards Unite day ever. I wanted to do something different than a walk, plus it was raining. We ended up at Lake Anne and walked over to the fortress and did a challenge under umbrellas. Then we went into the Lake Anne Brew House for beer, kombucha, and soda and started 3 dark detectors in both of the inns we could see. Then we discovered we could see the fortress from there and Jill and I finally finished Dark III for the first time. We went to the used book store, then got dinner at the Greek restaurant. While waiting for dessert, we started another 6 dark detectors, and did even better: 2 Dumbledores, Hermione, 2 unicorns, Fred, George, Grawp, Quidditch Harry, 2 Percival Graves and I think 1 other. Plus a Tom Riddle as we were leaving, and a Veil when I went out for groceries later. Sunday Dad came over for lunch and I gave him his Christmas present – a new laptop (so I didn’t have to deal with upgrading Windows 7 on his old one).

Nina

Monday after an epic bedtime tantrum had Nina not going to sleep until 10:45, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out and walk in the freezing weather. At 11:40 I decided to, started Wizards Unite, did the inn across the street twice and hustled to the nearest fortress. I completed the challenge with 30 seconds to go until midnight, but when I tried to click the last collect button got the restart popup, and that took too long so failed to collect my daily task money. Plus on the way back I was catching a foundable and my phone died. Plugged it in when I got home and it was at 47%. WTF?

Nina

Friday the 10th was a rough one for me, as it was announced that Neil Peart, the drummer/lyricist of Rush, had passed away after a battle with cancer. I said “Dammit 2020. R.I.P. Professor.”

My favorite “Closer To The Heart” video – Rush Through Time (loved that cassette). I saw this online then did it – donate $21.12 to the American Cancer Society in Neil’s memory. And here’s a good read from someone very important to the band.

Neil

Saturday we went to see Nina perform her songs from Frozen at her last theatre class; later I took Nina to see a rehearsal of The Little Mermaid Jr. also from Lopez, then in the evening we took advantage of Jill’s mom coming down and went to DC to use one of Jill’s Christmas gifts to me: PubPass, where you get a free beer at participating bars. We went to Georgetown and started at The Berliner, then hung outside and played Wizards Unite at a fortress because it was close to 60 degrees. Then we went to Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown for more beers and dinner.

Nina

Sunday I made a tribute to my favorite band, as we lost one of the holy trinity this week. This one’s for you, Professor.

Tony Reed – Garden Road
Skid Row – What You’re Doing
Sloan – In The Mood
Audioslave – Working Man
Mark Slaughter, George Lynch, Deen Castronovo & Stu Hamm – Anthem
Spearfish – Making Memories
Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins & Nick Raskulinecz – 2112 I. Overture
Steven Wilson – The Twilight Zone
Alice in Chains – Tears
Dream Theater – Xanadu
Alain Johannes – Madrigal
Steve Morse, Mike Portnoy & Billy Sheehan – La Villa Strangiato
Rachel Barton Pine – The Spirit Of Radio
Tyler Warren – Entre Nous
Beth Patterson – Tom Sawyer (with Josh Paxton)
Rik Emmett – Red Barchetta
Mike Portnoy, Philip Bynoe & Pete Thorn – YYZ
The Smashing Pumpkins – Limelight
Jacob Moon – Subdivisions
Jack Russell, Mike Portnoy & Billy Sheehan – Analog Kid
Eric Martin, Brad Kaiser & Robert Berry – Mission
SPiN – Time Stand Still
Fleesh – The Pass
Rage – Bravado
Allegaeon – Animate

Tuesday the 15th I thought it was an odd week, as the loss of an icon I first encountered in the ’80s (Neil) is now balanced by the adaption of another series from the ’80s: Crisis on Infinite Earths. I would have never thought they could have pulled it off but they did, with nods and winks to every DC adaption on small and big screens.

As The Magicians returns for their 5th season, let’s appreciate the masterful Season 4 episode synopses:
1. Brian takes a friend out for ice cream; Sam is one week away from retirement.
2. Dean Fogg gets a new suit.
3. Kady gets a puppy. Quentin meets a snake.
4. Josh gives Margo a muffin. Julia drinks schnapps.
5. Alice and Quentin confront a dog. There are some flashbacks.
6. Quentin and Julia play Pictionary. Margo drinks some weird milk.
7. Kady goes to the flea market. What’s Zelda has been up to? This one’s all about Fen, you guys.
8. Penny licks an egg. Alice gets jealous of a flower.
9. Quentin eats a quesadilla. Kady and Zelda share a smoke.
10. Margo hits her step count.
11. The gang talks to a book. Tick threatens to drink some water.
12. Quentin yells at a plant. Margo stares at a fish.
13. Quentin and Josh get cake. Quentin reflects on his actions.

Nina

Friday the 17th, Jill and I got another night out thanks to her mom. We once again got a free beer, this time at Valor Brewpub as they were literally steps away from Rose’s Luxury, where we had a reservation. The kitchen view was perfect, as was the tasting menu (the Cacio e Pepe was amazing). Saturday we all went out for concert #1: Eddie From Ohio at The Birchmere. An unusual show by just the core four with no opener, unexpected covers (Warren Zevon just after I’d been listening to the tribute CD that week) and blasts from the past (“Blue Jeans” and “Loitering In The Lobby”). We also grabbed dinner before the show at Northside 10. Sunday we had brunch at Red’s Table, then everyone but me went to see Little Women in the afternoon.

Jill Kerry

Monday Nina got her orange belt at Tae Kwon Do. Wednesday I hadn’t bought any Wolf Trap tix for the first set of shows, but for the 3 shows on sale that week, bought all 3: Steely Dan/Steve Winwood, Barenaked Ladies/Gin Blossoms/Toad the Wet Sprocket & Brandi Carlile + NSO.

Nina

Saturday the 25th it was road trip time. After a stop in Front Royal for lunch at McAlister’s Deli, we drove to Bryce Resort where we stayed at Chalet High. It was late afternoon by the time we checked in, so we only did tubing that night. Sunday it was skiing time, with lessons for Jill and Nina. Jill said “Well, after 3 years off the mountain my body still (sort of) knew what to do!” Nina and I skiied some more after lessons, then we called it a day. We brought our Amazon Fire stick but not the remote. The 2nd hack listed here (have Amazon Fire, but not at home) works perfectly. Genius. Nina was not into watching Doctor Who, so we watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (we were listening to Goblet of Fire in the car).

Jill Kerry Nina

Monday Nina had another lesson while I signed her up for summer camps, then we skied most of the mountain with another 8 year old we picked up on the lift while Jill stayed home, spun and watched Netflix. We drove down to New Market and had lunch at Jalisco. Tuesday we drove back home, while Wednesday Jill picked up the Girl Scout cookies at Wolf Trap as she was cookie mom again.

Kerry Nina

One thing that took the sting away from Neil’s passing: receiving a signed copy of Far and Near from publisher ECW Press after they ran a contest on Facebook to “Please share your favourite fact about Neil, your favourite lyric or prose he wrote, the thing you’ll miss most about him — anything about Neil Peart that brought you joy or connection.” I had written this:

Neil’s lyrics were a big part of surviving high school, but as I grew up and had a family of my own, his words never stopped being relevant.

I always come back to “Afterimage” when someone I care about passes:
“Suddenly, you were gone
From all the lives you left your mark upon”

December

Thursday the 5th Jill took Nina to the German market. On Friday I had to give points to my sister for getting us gifts early. Negative points to Target for letting certain people know what’s in the box. I made sure “Hugs’N’Ho” is an abbreviation, or she wasn’t going to get it.

box

Later on Friday it was concert #49: Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes at The Barns at Wolf Trap. A living legend who’s still got that voice put on a great show with Ronettes and Christmas classics. Saturday our neighbor had a holiday party we had a good time at, then Sunday we went to visit my dad for a delayed Thanksgiving lunch with him. Jill said on Wednesday “As an adult during the week with lots to do, the best snow scenario: a powdery coating just to get into the festive holiday mood. As a kid, rather disappointing. N was shuffled out the door this morning on time, thank you very much”.

Jill Nina

Thursday the 12th I went to concert #50: Josh Rouse with Joe Pisapia at Jammin’ Java. Also a mix of originals and Christmas songs, but not classics as he’s just put out an album of original Christmas songs. The show sounded great, as you might expect with 2 of his producers on stage in the band. Best part was getting an upgrade after I bought a GA ticket, then a lady said her husband hurt his hip and they couldn’t get into their seats next to the stage and i could have one if I wanted it. Spoiler alert: I did. Friday Nina had a birthday party and Jill and I had dinner at Mama Chang with a delicious mix of small plates, followed by some Wizards Unite action. Saturday was our annual holiday party, including friends that came from long way away. Sunday was nice and Jill said “Ahh yesterday, when it was 50+ degrees and we had some sunny outdoors time. This morning, it’s a little different #hellosleet”.

Kerry Nina Jill

While watching this, I nearly did a spit take with egg nog – for all my fellow parents. Monday I had a work party at the Bungalow Lakehouse, and got to play pool for a couple hours. Friday the 20th should have been Nina’s last day of school before Winter Break, but she had a fever in the morning. Surprisingly with widespread flu at school she was positive for strep. So I thought it would be a good idea when waiting in CVS for her prescription to get some cards for family and then get them ready to mail at home. This was the card when I asked her every time, from purchase to completion, “Are you sure?” Some lucky relative got this.

card

I stayed home, then went to work when Jill got home, who said “Early Christmas present: New Mantel shelves!!! I’m finally able to hang stockings by the fire and unpack some boxes! Yay!!” The next day Nina’s fever got worse, and eventually we took her to PM Pediatrics where we found out she had the flu (B strain) also. She started taking Tamiflu in addition to the antibiotics she had for strep (she hated both medicines). The next morning, after an achy night, I had a fever too, so went to my practice’s urgent care and got Tamiflu as well (of course we’d all been vaccinated). We had been planning to go to Christmas concerts that night and Monday, but managed to resell the tickets. Jill said “When there’s flu at your house and you’re the only one who’s still healthy. Mince pies and coffee for strength and sweetness please!”

Nina

By Monday night the 23rd we were feeling better, so we kept our tickets to Enchant DC. Seeing Nats Park lit up was picturesque, and the maze was nice. The food was the best part: I had a crepe, Jill had Ben’s chili fries and Nina had chicken noodle soup. Of course by Christmas Eve day Jill caught bronchitis, and said “Well, this Christmas certainly has not gone to plan, but we are blessed none the less.” On Christmas we opened our stockings and gifts, then went out to dinner at Founding Farmers. We were able to get back to camp and work the next day.

Nina Kerry

Friday the 27th Jill’s dad and his wife came to visit. Jill and Nina went with them to DC to eat Italian and go see Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. Meanwhile I went to Ono Brewing Company after working an extra long day to make up hours, and enjoyed their beer and the brisket from Odd BBQ inside. Saturday I made these delicious cream cheese cinnamon rolls when we had them over for brunch; in the afternoon they took Nina to pick out her presents at the Lego store while I got in a couple hours at work.

presents

We were supposed to see the new Star Wars movie on the 20th, but fell into the multiple illness vortex, with lots of cancelled plans. Jill also wanted to see Little Women, but not on the 29th, so Nina and I ended up at the 5PM showing at Udvar Hazy. Which was fortuitous, as we saw Lorna & Dave, who kindly saved us a nice pair of seats as we were way back in line. No spoilers, but we enjoyed it and somebody wanted a lightsaber battle as soon as we got home. I worked super long on Monday to hit 16 hours worked as camp was closed on New Year’s Eve and Jill had to work, and I was able to stay home that day instead. We had a quiet evening at home that night playing board games (Throw Throw Burrito was the crowd favorite) before watching the ball drop.

Nina

November

Friday the 1st Nina got her braces; Jill said “Getting braces apparently means going to Target, getting a toy, and playing hooky for the rest of the day instead of going back to school! Who knew?”. Saturday we went into DC to see the Nats Parade. We first went to Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken so we could get chicken and doughnuts for lunch (had to try the Baby Shark doughnut). Then we walked over to the parade on the other side of the street from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We didn’t stay for the speeches, got back so Nina could enjoy the sunshine at a park near East Fall Metro (which was so packed we had parked on a side street). Jill said “We pulled out our swag from previous games and headed downtown for the World Series Victory festivities. We ate at the ironically named Astro Donuts and Chicken then headed to Constitution Ave where we got as best a view one could from 250 feet away. We still had fun and everyone was in a celebratory mood! We didn’t stay for the rally but stopped at a playground on the way home to enjoy the day.”

Kerry Nina

Tuesday I went to concert #43: Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Patty Griffin, Steve Earle & Thao Nguyen at the Warner Theatre on the Lantern Tour II for The Women’s Refugee Commission. I’d seen everyone but Thao before, and she was great. But there’s nothing like Patty singing “Mary” with Emmylou on backing vocals. Wednesday Jill said “N and I went to the polls yesterday (as is our tradition; I vote and she watches and asks lots of questions 😊) and helped flip the state legislature for the first time in almost 25 years. For an off-off election year, what a voter turnout! [Today I] Got one of the best cuts of my life thanks to Second Life Salon and the DevaCurl curly girl method!”

Lantern

Saturday the 9th we got fancy and headed over to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to get our pictures taken. We needed a holiday card photo, plus we hadn’t done family pictures in a while. Jill said “We had family portraits taken at one of our favorite places, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens by Dion Seneca Photography who was super patient and made it fun for everyone! We wandered around afterwards and explored the park during the day where the Winter Walk of Lights is already set up! N especially liked the metal bench shaped like a tree and enjoyed waving to adoring crowds in her horse drawn sleigh”. Nina enjoyed watching the live action Little Mermaid that night.

Kerry Jill Nina

Sunday was show #44: Jay And Silent Bob Reboot at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Ordinarily a movie wouldn’t make the list, but it does if stars Kevin Smith & Jason Mewes are there to host and do a q&a afterwards. Funny movie and aftershow. Bonus was the slow ordering and food delivery had us waiting for dinner until afterwords (good thing we chose the early show) and we got to try The Renegade. It’s owned by a friend, but we hadn’t been and it was delish (the lamb lollipops were great). Jill said “we stopped for dinner afterwards and so glad we did! We had an amazing meal and everyone was really nice and attentive. A great spot; we’ll be back!”

Jay & Silent Bob

After a long morning on a field trip at the National Museum of Natural History on Thursday the 14th, Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church was a great find. Nice store, and I wouldn’t have know they had a bar with food upstairs without Yelp. Delicious and affordable, I’ll be back (yes, I made it to CD Cellar too).

Nina

Saturday was a packed day with a Girl Scout Expo (Jill said “Had a great morning at the Girl Scout Expo! Unfortunately we had to leave early which was hard, there were so many great things to do and see!”) and drama class. It was parents night out at Tae Kwon Do, so we ran errands, tried out Urban Plates in Tyson’s II, then hung out at the bar in Barrel & Bushel while we finished off the latest Wizards Unite challenge. I’d taken Nina to McDonald’s for lunch when she asked for lunch out instead of takeout before her night out and she was very disappointed when the shake machine was broken. So for dessert we all had shakes from Shake Shack after we picked her up. Pretty much a perfect evening. Sunday was show #45: Roald Dahl’s Matilda at the NextStop Theatre. Great cast, and Nina’s still singing the songs.

Nina

Tuesday the 19th was concert #46: Letters to Cleo at Union Stage. It probably wasn’t the wisest decision to go to 2 shows that week with Jill working 7am to 7pm 3 days, but after being home all day with a sick kid, it was nice to hear some loud rock music (and I’m not kidding about the loud – in the 2 years I’ve been recording every show on my phone, this was the loudest one). The band was great, the venue was nice (my 1st time) and someone even started a discussion with me because of my shirt (the band Belly), which never happens. And their new album is Christmas music, so that was nice timing. Thursday was a concert, then Thanksgiving lunch at Nina’s school, then that night was concert #47: The Low Anthem and Futur Primitif at Jammin’ Java. I went from the loudest concert of the year to the softest as The Low Anthem celebrated the 10th anniversary of Oh My God, Charlie Darwin by playing the full album. But oddly, not in order, and with other songs in the middle. But a fine show nonetheless.

Nina

Saturday the 24th we started vacation after drama class by driving up to Philly. The annual Friendsgiving was a lot of fun, and for the first time we stayed in the city afterwards (Homewood Suites by Hilton, very nice). That meant we got fresh NYC bagels for breakfast the next morning, then went to Reading Terminal Market where we bought some delectables and booze, and had lunch (I had a delicious roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s). It was a shorter trip to Massachusetts after starting in Philly even with predictable slowdowns due to rain, and we arrived not much after dark. Jill wanted food from Mel’s, but I’m not a fan and got a sub from Pizza D’Action.

Nina

Monday we visited Jill’s dad’s mom, then had a bunch of family over at Jill’s mom’s house for takeout Chinese food from North Garden. Tuesday we drove over to my sister’s house south of Boston, where my mom and her husband had been visiting since Sunday. We went out for dinner at The Quarry Restaurant, where I had a pork belly bun, lobster sliders & roasted broccoli rabe. The next afternoon we had a catered Thanksgiving lunch, before trying to leave before traffic got bad. We were partly successful by heading through Rhode Island and running errands there, then angling back northwest. We arrived at Jill’s sister’s house in time for a spaghetti dinner and a white elephant exchange (since we wouldn’t be up for Christmas this year).

family

Thursday was Thanksgiving at Jill’s other sister’s house. Black Friday was my favorite day, as I got to go CD shopping and eat at The Green Bean while Jill had Nina and the younger cousins at the parade in Springfield. That night was concert #48: Stephen Kellogg with Casey at the Iron Horse. We thanked Jill’s mom for being kind and generous by watching Nina and letting us do the VIP before the show and getting a cocktail at The Green Room and hot tubs at East Heaven afterwards. We also finally got a Nields sighting in Northampton as Katryna joined him for the encore. Saturday morning we met Jill’s dad and his wife at Stir the Pot for brunch. We also picked up Jill’s niece Maddie there as a storm was coming that would eventually cancel her flight back to school. We hit a White Castle in a sketchy part of town for a drive thru lunch in Jersey; traffic soon diverted us through Pennsylvania. We stopped at Pistarro’s in Frederick because they were vegetarian friendly (and tasty). By the time we were done, all traffic had died down and we were able to take Maddie directly to school via 270, then home.

family

October

Wednesday the 2nd was bike/walk to school day so Nina brought her scooter while I chased after her, then had to lug it home. Friday we got to see Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on the big screen. It was presented by the actors who played Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee, plus Nina got to bring a friend. It was a big hit (plus Jill and I got adult milkshakes). That night Jill said “someone was very excited to wear her new mermaid onesie pajamas on the first cool night of the season!”

Jill Nina

Saturday we headed to Fairfax for show #38: Disney On Ice, probably for the final time (“that part’s just for babies”). An always interesting look at Disney’s priorities. Jill said “The real reason I knit huge shawls…. cuddle time watching Disney on Ice. I think it’s our last one; N felt a little too mature at this one. At least she’s not too old for a warming snuggle yet.” Later that night we watched Hocus Pocus for the first time for all of us.

Jill Nina

Sunday we went over to the Fall for Fairfax KidsFest so Nina could ride all the rides and do her first backflip. Plus she insisted I put her on Twitter so she could get a branded candy bucket. Tuesday I was excited that Eagles announced their Hotel California Tour because I was super jealous of the 3 shows they did in Vegas, but bummed they weren’t coming close (but I’m going anyway).

Nina

Thursday the 10th we were at The Barns at Wolf Trap for concert #39: Lucy Kaplansky. Always a good show from her, the sound was great, and a tasteful collection of covers. Jill said “I got to have a fangirl moment with Lucy last night; after front row seats I met her and got to gush a little. Her music hits me right in the solar plexus. I always cry at her shows, I’ve learned not to wear mascara and just let the tears fall. Thank you, Lucy!”

Lucy Jill

Friday I went to DC for concert #40: Katy Perry and Mavis Staples at The Anthem. I was late and missed Norah Jones, but hadn’t seen Katy Perry before. It was great as The Celebration Gospel Choir joined both of them, plus a good dinner at Todd Thrasher’s Tiki TNT and dessert at Milk Bar. The reason I was late was dropping Nina at a friend’s house – Jill picked her up when she got off work. She said “you know it’s been a long and exciting day and you’re completely worn out when you are upset to the point of tears when you find out your favorite apple may not be in season to pick tomorrow. Whew.”

Saturday the apple picking went off without a hitch. Jill said “Continuing the fall traditions. N was really excited to use the apple picking rake this year and was pretty good at it! She also told Benjamin Franklin invented it?”

Nina

Monday the 14th Nina and I were both off for Columbus Day. I took her and a friend over to Cox Farms for the day. Tuesday I had just told Jill that it was nice to not have any appointments that week for the first time in a month. The deer on South Lakes Drive had other ideas (nearly broke through my windshield), and my car went in the shop for two weeks (a Hyundai Accent was better than the SUV I got stuck with last time, but I like my Civic the best). Thursday Nina earned her yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Nina

Friday Jill joined me for lunch at Brain Drain while Nina planned a surprise birthday party for her teacher at school, then that evening we all went to see Pat McGee Band and (almost) Everything at Barns at Wolf Trap for concert #41. Nina’s first show for both, and she had a great time dancing. Good seeing our friends Susan & Jen. Saturday we watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 at the National Theater (Joel’s last tour!) for show #43. Nina had a fun time, and I learned a lesson: if the drinks they make are basically a double, don’t finish your wife’s drink as well. That night was Ninja night (aka Tae Kwon Do watch your kids night), so Jill and I celebrated my birthday early with a little Wizards Unite action in Vienna, then dinner at Clarity. Nothing super special, but we thought we’d come up with quite the blow out for the next week, as the World Series lineup was set and Jill asked if we should go.

Nina

Tuesday the 22nd was my birthday – I knew it because first thing that morning my daughter asked how many centuries old I am. We had a quiet early evening with takeout sushi from Ariake because Jill was still working nights through the end of the month. The next night I noted that 5 night games in 5 nights is deadly on the sleep schedule (as the Skins played in between World Series games). Friday I walked with Nina and the rest of the Terraset crew in the South Lakes High School Homecoming Parade as she tossed candy to spectators, then went to the Halloween party at Tae Kwon Do.

Nina

Saturday the 26th we had my dad come over to our house (where we put on the matching shirts I made), then we drove to East Falls Church and took Metro over to Nats Park for game 4 of the World Series. I’d found reasonably priced tickets on Stubhub, but was still pretty anxious until we got into the ballpark. Nina was delighted the playground was still open, and we all got food while she played. We got into our seats (way up high next to the top) in plenty of time to watch the opening ceremonies, and it was definitely a great night even with the loss. Jill said “even though it would have been the icing on the cake if we actually won… we had a fantastic time and there were still smiles at the end of the night.”

Dad Jill Nina Kerry

Sunday our rebuilt pontoon boat was finally ready to set sail. Jill said “Just in time to get it ready for winter. At least we took advantage of the unseasonably warm day to see some lakefront fall foliage …with my new addiction, pumpkin spice cold brew.”

Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 30th was Jill’s final night shift. She said “I’ve learned so much and advanced my skills on the night shift this past year but I will be happy to be back on days permanently. I think Kerry and Nina are happy about it too.” Later I watched the final World Series game (the last couple innings in stunned elation) and the postgame nonsense. I wish I could have said I was going to bed at a reasonable time the next night, but concerts await.

Nina

Thursday Jill joined me for Wizards Unite at a sponsored fortress to try their Halloween event, then we had lunch at Stone’s Cove. Later Jill took Nina out trick-or-treating with a neighbor and her son while I made dinner, then I went to the 9:30 Club to see Jukebox the Ghost for Concert #42. I’ve been wanting to see their HalloQueen show they’ve been doing for 5 years with one set as them and one set dressed as Queen and playing Queen covers, but this is the first time they brought it to D.C., and it was everything I hoped it would be. Also loved during “We Are The Champions” someone on the floor had a hobby horse they’d attached Trea Turner’s jersey to and was waving it like a flag.

Nina

September

Sunday the 1st was Nina’s birthday party. She finally had a small scale party – this one was at our house. First she and her guests did pet themed crafts, then they had pizza. After water balloons and sprinkler fun in the backyard, it was time for cake, and then the girls played until their parents came.

Nina

Monday Jill hadn’t gotten sleep while working during the night, so Sue joined Nina and I on a trip to my dad’s house after we realized we hadn’t gone and visited him at his house all summer. We got there and headed to the beach and buried Nina in the sand before having lunch with Dad. Later Jill was up and we all went over to Glory Days Grill for dinner and celebrated Nina’s birthday with dessert at Baskin Robbins. Tuesday Jill and Sue explored Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens before Sue went home the next day. Friday Nina started Tae Kwon Do lessons, continuing on from the after school classes she’d taken in the spring.

Nina Sue

Saturday the 7th was Family Day at my work, and Nina did everything, from pony rides to face painting to temporary tattoos. We were supposed to go to the opening festival of the Reach at the Kennedy Center, but bailed after getting home later than planned (plus there were dragons to catch in Wizards Unite). Jill went out that night to catch the Legwarmers at a winery. We planned to meet Lorna & Dave at Taco Zocalo for dinner on Sunday but they were closed for some reason, so we went to Cafesano instead.

Nina Jill

Saturday the 14th Jill and I saw What the Constitution Means to Me at the Kennedy Center (Show #36). Great, even though we came in late because dinner ran long at Rasika West End (but totally worth it). Sunday we took Nina and my dad to see the Nats not get swept by the Braves. I was especially happy that my second choice for the previous night’s dinner, ChiKo, had an outpost there (too bad only the tots lived up to their reputation). I also had a Coke Icee with bourbon, which caused a weird nostalgia mash up of going to 7-11 as a teenager and college parties.

Jill Nina Kerry Bryce

Monday I was sad over the passing of Ric Ocasek (from The Cars) and tumbled down a covers rabbithole, including this great one:

Thursday the 19th Jill was off to Tennessee for her Into The Wool Retreat. It was business as usual during the week, then on Saturday Nina and I went to the REACH Opening Festival at the Kennedy Center (for Show #37). Debbie Allen hosted as the emcee for the first performance as students from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy performed, then New York City Ballet star Tiler Peck taught the crowd moves from her appearance in Charlotte OC’s “Medicine Man” music video (Nina wanted to meet her after that). We had lunch from the food trucks next, then explored the new area (anyplace you can you can get your feet wet is fine with her). She also participated in the Floor Barre conditioning master class taught by Renee Robinson. Finally we caught the sound check for Fela! The Concert while she and other kids built a fort with the boxes used for seating, then we got ice cream. Sunday we picked up Jill from the airport and missed the retirement of our favorite clerk from Safeway (we’d said farewell the week before).

Nina Tiler Peck

Wednesday the 25th was school picture day, then Saturday after drama class we returned to Queen City Mischief & Magic. It was a bit surreal to play Wizards Unite while so many people were dressed up, but cool. Nina got her picture taken with lots of characters, got treasure from a mermaid, and finally got to watch a Quidditch game. We’d stopped in Front Royal for lunch and were getting hungry by dark, but Nina voted for not eating there. So we returned to the parking lot with the shuttle and found Brother’s Pizza, which had something for everyone. Then we got to the Best Western, which seemed fine until the train rumbled by 20 feet away as we were going to bed, but it only came by once more during the night and everyone managed to sleep through it.

Kerry Nina Jill

After a nice hotel breakfast, we returned to Queen City for a couple hours. Nina had a Lego Hogwarts Express appointment and did a chalk drawing and henna, she and Jill got slices of pizza from Emilio’s while I got a Bánh Mì at Laughing Bird Pho then headed north and dropped Jill at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. Nina and I went to downtown Winchester and she played on the splash pad there, then we hit Sonic and picked up drinks before getting Jill and heading home.

Nina

August

We woke up on the 1st in Edison, having left for vacation the night before and stopping halfway to our destination. We were staying at Home2 Suites by Hilton, most remarkable for being only a couple of months old, and everything was fantastic. After a complimentary hot breakfast, we got on the road (minus Nina’s pillow). Jill got some of her favorites at Nathan’s for lunch, then we got back on the road. When we were close to Hillsdale, we went grocery shopping, first at Taconic Orchards for produce and cider donuts, then Hannaford Supermarket for everything else. We were soon at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and got everything set up and collapsed. The Cannons had arrived soon after us, and we got dinner together. I wasn’t feeling up to it and skipped music that night. I’d brought a glow in the dark capture the flag type game, but the girls skipped the game to have impromptu lightsaber battles with the pieces.

Nina

Friday Nina had a new friend (daughter of an old friend) and tried some of her hard cookies. A week earlier she’d had an expander (precursor to braces put in), and one of the cookies knocked it out of one side. We just needed to get it out at that point, and Jill spent hours on the phone trying to find someplace that could do it that day. Finally Adirondack Orthodontics was able to fit us in. It was about an hour away, but we didn’t have much of a choice, so we headed northwest past Albany. They were even able to take us earlier once we were up there, and so pleasant and quick. Jill saw a Friendly’s on the way out and we stopped there for lunch. We headed straight back to Copake Falls as the Cannons were swimming there. When we got back to camp we made food for the taco night potluck dinner, then I started assembling the jellyfish umbrellas (Nina’s number one request from last year). Soon we were ready for concert #28: Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams at the Dance Tent, and all the girls marched in the jellyfish parade.

Nina

Saturday Jill once again had to trek into civilization to wash some sheets. At midday we went over to the Workshop Stage (and met up with AJ) and caught the end of Our Roots Are Showing with Carolann Solebello, Low Lily & Mid-City Aces for concert #29, then concert #30 was also there: The Songwriting Process with Stephen Kellogg, Kerri Powers & Beth Nielsen Chapman (and a whole lot of talking). We made leftovers for dinner, and Jay made some ridiculously good Korean barbecue as well, so I enjoyed that. Later I went out solo to see concert #31: BoDeans at main stage.

Jill Nina Matt

Sunday the 4th we packed up and headed out. Jill was hungry and we stopped at Betty’s Pizza Shack in Lenox for some delicious pizza. Jill said “Nina said ‘it’s so nice to be able to flush the toilet!’ Yep, got that right. Nothing like a little gratefulness training.” Later we went to Jill’s mom’s house – I thought about trying to go see Queen with Nina that night near Boston, but they were sold out and it would have been a lot of work. Monday Nina and Jill ran errands and I walked over to Stop & Shop, enjoying some uninterrupted Wizards Unite time (Jill and I were getting competitive, and she was 2 levels ahead of me). That night we met the Bradys at Joe’s Spaghetti & Pizza in Northampton, then after dinner, Jill and I played Wizards Unite while Sue accompanied Tiernan while he played Pokemon Go (the others went back to the house).

Nina

Tuesday morning we met Jill’s dad and Sue at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens. Nina was scared of the butterflies, but liked the turtles getting fed. We had lunch at The People’s Pint in Greenfield, then some ice cream at Ice Cream Alley. Then we all drove over to Hadley to visit with Jill’s dad’s mom. We packed up in the afternoon and went over to Robin and Mike’s house, where we stayed the remainder of our visit. Wednesday Jill and her sisters planned a beach day (but weather meant they ended up in Old Sturbridge Village). Meanwhile I took Nina to Half Mile Falls Park and the Tavern Restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, I made it over to Turn It up before we had dinner at Sue’s.

Connie Jill Nina

Thursday Jill and Melissa took Nina and Ava to Six Flags while I hung out with Mike and Finn, going to Stanley Park. That evening Sue and Dave brought dinner over. Friday we headed home, and traffic was not terrible, which was a nice surprise. Saturday we ran some errands and played Wizards Unite at Reston Town Center – Nina tried Pokemon Go on her Kindle, but it kept crashing. Sunday, Nina and I went to concert #32: Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band at Wolf Trap. Nina’s second Beatle, although the song she was most excited to hear that night was Africa (thanks, Weezer). She also lost another tooth (good timing as her expander went back in the next day).

Kerry Jill Nina

Friday the 16th Sue and Tiernan arrived for a visit. Saturday we celebrated our anniversary early (Sue took the kids to Glory Days and the Air & Space museum). Jill started first, “I treated myself to a boudoir photo session as a 40th birthday present to myself. I wanted to celebrate this body I’m in, and have some fun. It exceeded my wildest expectations. Makeup by @chellzdidit, hair by @jasminepalmaartistry, photography by @ahiddenexposure. It was an amazing experience; if you feel the slightest inclination about doing something like this for yourself, I Highly Recommend it! Kerry and I also got some anniversary pictures taken. @ahiddenexposure put us at ease and got some great shots of us goofing around!“. She’d booked a room at the Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, and after the photos, we went downstairs to Brabo for an excellent meal.

Kerry Jill

In the morning we had bagels across the street (only ok). Jill headed home and I went to Hole in the Wall books to stop by for the last time as the owners were retiring and closing down at the end of the month. my best friend Chris and I started getting into comics around 1981 by riding our bikes across 236 to the 7-Eleven and buying them there. Hole In The Wall was the first actual comic book shop I started going to. It was tiny and cluttered but it was awesome. Later we discovered Burke Center Used Books & Comics which was closer and I had a subscription for comics there for the longest time until I moved to Herndon and went mail order (they closed not long after that). That night I was out solo for concert #33: Mark Knopfler (from Dire Straits) at Wolf Trap. Amazingly he was still on my concert bucket list, and happily still sprinkling in the Dire Straits songs. He also had a 10-piece band for a very full sound. It was a hot night, and a cool breeze during the show had me worried until I saw on radar the storm was heading up through Maryland. This is a pretty spot on review.

Sue Nina

Wednesday the 21st I went over to Mosaic and had dinner at Caboose before going to see the Rush: Cinema Strangiato at Angelika, but the combination of salt and heat had me feeling poorly and I left halfway through. Thursday Nina skipped camp so Jill and Sue could take her and Tiernan to the National Zoo. Friday Jill was working but I was planning on taking everyone else to The Pietasters at Royal Lake Park, but it was canceled due to rain. I took Nina to Target after her last day of camp and got her the new Taylor Swift CD, plus put things on her birthday wishlist. And we ended up going to Popeyes as everyone but Sue was into that (big lines even though they were out of their new sandwich). That night it had taken a while (I started last year), but due to recent events (our band director passed away), I got working a little harder. Here are just about all the W.T. Woodson Band tapes I have, now digitized and free to stream or download. Saturday Nina had a cold and we tried to sell the tickets we had for Aladdin without luck. Melissa and Maddie were down so Maddie could move in, so we all went to visit the new apartment, then had dinner at Alto Fumo Pizza & Pasta Bar in Clarendon. Sunday Sue went to the Fairfax Comic Con solo to meet the teacher from “Stranger Things” before Melissa and Tiernan headed home.

Nina Jill Sue

Monday Nina recovered just in time for her first day of school. Tuesday we got takeout from Hunan East and I guess it had been too long since ER visits, as I got another one that night. Apparently I just got my first food allergy, so no more sushi for me for a while. Wednesday the 29th Jill and Sue visited the National Cathedral during the day. That night we did end up going to the Kennedy Center for show #34: Aladdin. Contacting member services proved helpful, as we were able to use our tickets from Saturday, plus bring Sue. Nina loved it of course – we were thinking about leaving after intermission, but we were outvoted. And Major Attaway has a wonderful performance as the genie (I just found he’s headed to the Broadway version now). Thursday I went to Jammin’ Java for concert #35: SHEL with Wild Harbors. SHEL is a band of all sisters with great harmonies, and I’d helped crowdfund a CD of theirs a while back but hadn’t gotten around to seeing them live. Worth the wait, and they do a smokin’ cover of “The Battle Of Evermore”. Friday school was closed and Sue took Nina to Clemyjontri. Saturday we got ready for Nina’s birthday party.

Nina

July

Monday July 1st was Jill’s birthday and we were still in Rochester, and after some quick birthday wishes and farewells to Mom and David, we got on the highway. We checked the border crossing times at a rest area before Buffalo, and kept the original plan to cross into Canada at the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge. After a 10 minute wait, we were north of the border. We stopped at Dillon’s Distillery and tasted and bought some spirits (I knew the official alcohol stores were closed for Canada Day). We had a quick stop at a Panera later for a bathroom break, but soon pulled up to the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. I was happy to leave the car there, and we checked in and relaxed.

Jill

We got hungry for lunch and went across the street to the Union Summer market popup. Nina had guacamole and chips from El Catrin and a fried chicken sandwich from Union Chicken, while Jill and I got sausages from Wvrst. We even got concert #21 with our great lunch: Jordan Hart & Emily Schultz.

Jordan Hart & Emily Schultz

When we found out we couldn’t see the fireworks from the nearby waterfront, we decided to go to the Toronto Islands. We bought ferry tickets and headed over, getting there around 4. What we did not know before going was the Toronto Islands had been flooding. It didn’t affect us too much – Nina got to ride some rides at the Centreville Amusement Park, then we walked over to Toronto Island BBQ & Beer Co. for dinner. It was the best option for eating on the island and was pretty crowded, but we got our food and drinks without too many issues.

Nina Jill Kerry

We had been told we could see the fireworks from the beach at Ward’s Island, so we started the hike (at least a mile, with a small child complaining for the entire second half). Unfortunately when we got there, 3/4 of the beach was flooded and the mosquitoes were everywhere, so we gave up and went over to the ferry there, where we could see some of the fireworks far off in the distance. My original plan had been to see both the fireworks and the free concert by Broken Social Scene at Harbourfront Centre. I realized we got back in time to see some, so the girls went to BeaverTails while I hurried over to catch the last 1.5 songs, so it counted as concert #22.

Nina Jill

Tuesday we slept in, then walked over to SOCO Kitchen + Bar for a nice early lunch, then went across the street to Ripley’s Aquarium. It was super crowded but we took our time and went through all the exhibits. Later we took the streetcar up to Kensington Market. Jill’s must was Yarns Untangled, and Nina and I went next door to a coffee shop while she browsed. We’d planned on eating tacos at Seven Lives as they were recommended, but they didn’t have anything Nina would eat so ended up at El Trompo Taco Bar, which was a nice sit down place with great tacos.

Jill Nina Kerry

I was planning on going to Sonic Boom Records, and had checked their website that morning to see it said “We’re open 364 days a year”. Apparently I was supposed to check their social media as well, as they closed for the day to film a TV show. The day was saved by our trip to Cool N2 Ice Cream. Nina got Mr. Brownie which comes with two scoops of chocolate ice cream with brownie bits, two roasted marshmallows on a stick, a syringe with chocolate syrup and half of a Two Bite Brownie, while I got Dragon’s Breath: Cheese curls are placed in a cup and then liquid nitrogen is poured on top, then smoke comes out with each bite. We got off the streetcar near Rogers Centre and let Nina run around for a while outside of the Toronto Railway Museum.

Kerry Nina

We got back to the hotel around 8 and were planning bedtime, but found out Nina’s friend who lived there (granddaughter of our next door neighbors) was possibly only available that night. So we too the subway to Yorkville and the girls got to run around on the Yorkville Rock. We were told that nearby Summer’s Ice Cream had the best ice cream in Toronto, so we made the great sacrifice to have a second dessert. We were also told we had to see the Casa Loma castle, so we drove over there and took the subway back after.

Casa Loma

Wednesday we slept in a bit, then checked out. We managed to stop for breakfast at the very same Panera we’d stopped at Monday, then were soon at the African Lion Safari. It turned out Nina’s friend was heading there as well, so we toured the safari in our car, then met up at the waterpark. They played there for a while, then went to an Elephants & Friends presentation. It was hot, so the girls got Dippin’ Dots to cool down. Next we drove into Hamilton and stopped at The Coop for chicken, then I got my record store make up at Dr. Disc that had 3 CDs for a dollar in the basement. We’d been hearing good things about Tim Hortons, so we stopped so I could get an iced tea and Jill could get a latte – that was a mistake, they had no idea what an iced tea was (gave me a giant cup of hot tea and small cup of ice) and Jill took one drink of hers and tossed it in the trash.

lions

Soon we were in Niagara Falls, where the rest of Jill’s family had arrived and checked in at the Best Western. We drove over to Clifton Hill and parked, then walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe (it was Tiernan’s birthday choice). Unfortunately Jill noticed Nina getting hives on her face and we didn’t pack Benadryl, so I walked over to the nearest drug store and back (she had them again a bit the next day, but we washed her all over and her shoes and it was gone after that). We all went down to check out the falls after dinner and watch the fireworks, then called it a night.

Wadases Bradys Freys

Thursday the 4th we all gathered at The Flying Saucer for breakfast, then slowly made our way to parking near the Table Rock Welcome Centre. We couldn’t get tickets for the Journey Behind the Falls until eveyone was got there, so we explored the gift shops and went outside to check out the falls. We went down in an elevator, and found the ponchos they had passed out were very necessary.

Kerry Jill Nina

We took Tiernan back with us, and he wanted Popeyes for lunch, which Nina was definitely down for. Jill had been interested in a hot dog at Table Rock but we were leaving, so she looked them up and found the best was next door at The Flying Saucer. We ate our bounty by the pool in the hotel, then Nina went in the pool for a while. Melissa watched Nina while Sue, Dave, Maddy, Jill and I took a tour of the Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery, where we got wine, beer and liquor. We got the family together again for dinner at Napoli Ristorante, where everyone had a delicious Italian meal (antipasto for me). Later Dominic, Melissa, Maddy, Jake and Tiernan joined Jill and I on the Falls Fireworks Cruise. They took two boats out and we got good looks at all the falls lit up before the fireworks went off above us. Meanwhile Sue and Dave took Nina and Ava to Clifton Hill to do what Nina really wanted to do, take selfies with Taylor Swift at Movieland.

Sue Dave Dominic Maddy Jill Kerry

Friday we got a late start and managed to show up at Niagara Helicopters with two tour groups in front of us. But soon they went from 2 helicopters to 4 and the wait wasn’t too bad. Nina sat in the front with me and gripped my leg tightly for the whole ride, but she enjoyed it. For lunch Nina wanted McDonalds (right next to the hotel), while Jill wanted poutine from Potato Heads – I got regular fries and very good fish sandwich.

Nina Kerry Tiernan Jill

In the afternoon, I dropped off Jill, Melissa and the girls at the waterpark and found a UPS Store I could rent a PC to reprint my car registration (left it at home) and back up all my photos. Realizing I had nothing I needed to do, I went record store searching. The nearest good one was Mindbomb in St Catharines, but while they had a nice vinyl selection, the CDs were sparse. Then I went to the nearby Sunrise Records which I didn’t realized until I got there was in the Pen Centre mall. No used stuff there, but they did have a David’s Tea so I was able to have a real iced tea. Plus on the way out I spied a Goodwill store, went in and totally scored. I got back to the hotel just in time to leave again to pick up the ladies.

Ava Nina

We got back and everyone got ready for dinner, this time at The Blind Pig, a gastropub in walking distance (I had the small plates of pork belly and Korean fried chicken). After talking up BeaverTails, everyone wanted some so Jill, Melissa, Maddy, and Ava went to get those while I played with Nina in the arcade area at the hotel. After bedtime I went down to Doc Magilligan’s, the hotel restaurant and bar and enjoyed a 7 year old Irish whiskey. Apparently I missed the band “Widow Maker”, but I wasn’t torn up about it.

Jill Sue

The bad thing about coming home on Saturday was the long line at the border crossing (45 minutes at the Peace Bridge) and the showers and storms that followed us home literally all day. At least we got delicious meals at two great out of the way places, Ashford Junction Diner (in Ellicottville, NY) and Dolce Pizza Gourmet & Eastern European Restaurant (in Hagerstown, MD).

Nina

Monday the 8th Nina started art camp. Thursday Jill picked her up and she once again had hives, but gave her a Benadryl. She was soon better, and that meant we didn’t have to cancel our plans. We all went to East Falls Church Metro, but Jill left us at Rosslyn to head to La Fromagerie in Old Town Alexandria for a wine tasting & dinner with Franklin Habit. Nina and I went to Gallery Place to again have dinner at Nando’s, spend some time at IT’SUGAR before heading into the Capital One Arena for concert #23: Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra with Dhani Harrison. It was Nina’s mandatory classic rock show for the year, but she enjoyed herself. Her favorite song was “Last Train To London”, but mine was a fantastic version of The Traveling Wilburys “Handle With Care” as Dhani joined them to sing George’s part.

Nina ELO

Saturday we went over to Barnes & Noble as they were giving away Lego Golden Snitchs (and since I bought the Night Bus, I think they came out ok). Then we drove over to Cactus Cantina for a late lunch/early dinner before going to the the Kennedy Center for show #24: Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime! Anthony Anderson, Yvette Nicole Brown, Tony Hale, Tom Lennon & Natalie Morales were all hilarious. Plus we got to see Rachel Dratch before the show looking for directions (“No, I’m in the show!”) and Nina got a picture with director Bobcat Goldthwait.

Nina Bobcat Goldthwait

Sunday the 14th Jill had worked the night before so I took Nina over to the Springfield Dave & Busters because I got a Groupon for all day video games. We had a great time and a good lunch at Chuy’s, but after I showed Nina where my record store used to be, I felt my blood pressure go up – and stay up. We got home and we did chores and I was making dinner, but sat down and told Jill it was up and felt high. We had a blood pressure cuff and I was at 210/110. So off we went to the hospital. They admitted me and ruled out anything really scary but kept me for observation overnight. I got to sleep at home Monday and was feeling better Tuesday, but didn’t go back to work until Wednesday.

I was cleared for concert duty after a 2.5km walk Tuesday morning, so took Nina to concert #25: “Weird Al” Yankovic with the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap. Nina had a blast, and loved the videos she hadn’t seen (“Word Crimes” and “Weasel Stomping Day”) and got her current favorite: “The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota”. Plus we got to see Lorna! This review is spot on.

Weird Al

Friday as we’re leaving the house: “I’m not hot because I don’t have underwear on.” Follow up: “It’s a long story. I lost them at the pool.” (spoiler alert: we turned around and corrected matters). Friday was way too hot (heat index over 100), but it was a good choice to use our Encore Circle pass for their fans and ice water. We were hot at concert #26: JoJo Siwa with The Belles at Wolf Trap, but the folks on stage gave it their all. Not the worst show (though everything except vocals were prerecorded) but Nina loved it. Plus she got to play tag afterwards, thanks to seeing our friend Monica and her daughter. We also made the smart move to give up the Dave Matthews Band tickets we had for Saturday when it was even hotter (we hid indoors and packed for vacation while Nina played with neighbors just back from vacation on Saturday, while we built Legos on Sunday). We did get to see the new art on the lake.

JoJo Nina

Wednesday the 24th I was off to DC for concert #27: Our Native Daughters at the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The unforecasted rain meant I got soaked walking over, but light refreshments (popcorn and lemonade) were nice after I finished drying my hair with the hand dryer. The show was good, and I’d been wanting to see Rhiannon Giddens for a while. At home, Jill had a “Baby great blue heron sighting in the backyard”. Thursday I was amazed when the seemingly canceled Woodstock 50 festival was now suggested to happen at Merriweather.

Our Native Daughters

Saturday the 27th I took Nina an hour away to a mall in Waldorf, MD, so she could do Descendants crafts. She was one of only two cosplayers, but she didn’t mind. Afterwards I got to go to Justice for the first time, and it being her favorite store made perfect sense. Meanwhile Jill was “Done! My first handspun laceweight shawl. This was such a rewarding project.” Sunday Jill started working at 3, so we worked on vacation playlists, making dancing and lip syncing videos, and building a hotel.

Nina

Tuesday Queen + Adam Lambert wasn’t a must earlier, but “One Vision” is one of my favorite songs and they haven’t done it on an American tour before. Plus a full “’39”! Then they dropped “One Vision” and I was still excited, but an ultrasound on Monday revealed a blood clot in my left calf. My doctor wasn’t super worried, but Jill wasn’t comfortable with just Nina and I going, so I didn’t get tickets (and I’m now on blood thinners). But I knew it must be getting close to Falcon Ridge time if I’m making jellyfish umbrellas at night. The next night a centipede crawled out of the camping gear and on to my shirt. I don’t think I’ve ever moved that fast. After work and camp Wednesday, we left on vacation, staying in Edison, NJ for the night (someone had to get her White Castle on).

Nina

June

Saturday the 1st the rest of the family was still in Massachusetts so I took advantage of a full day off by going over to CD Cellar then having an early dinner at Donburi in Tysons Galleria (Sakedon bowl FTW). Then it was concert #15: Guster, Adia Victoria, Matt Braunger, Chris Thile, Madison Cunningham & Brittany Haas at Wolf Trap as part of Live from Here. The show was great, including yet another Led Zeppelin cover to honor John Bonham’s birthday (listen here at 1:29:48). And one fantastic part that didn’t even make it to air was soundcheck with Madison Cunningham covering Radiohead’s “No Surprises”.

Chris Thile covers No Surprises during a taping of Live from Here from r/radiohead

I also had a fast exit over to Herndon for concert #16: Farewell Angelina at the Herndon Festival where they whipped out a fine version of “Free Fallin'” and I got to visit with Linda. Sunday Lowe’s delivered a washer to my Mom’s old house in Annandale that was now on the market. They gave me a delivery window so I cooled my heels at the beginning of it by having lunch in Annandale at The Block. Balo Kitchen was my choice – twice, once for lamb tacos, then again for loaded fries. Then I got the call and it turned out there was an open house at Mom’s and got to meet her agent. I got home with time to unload the trunk (renters had left stuff in the house) and make it to a very crowded Dulles where the family had landed (they’d also gone to the Asparagus Festival and seen concerts from Oshima Brothers and Samirah Evans & the Joe Belmont Experience).

Nina

Friday the 7th was concert #17: Rodrigo y Gabriela at Wolf Trap. We saw them there back in 2010, but Jill wasn’t interested that night, and I have to admit I went mostly because they’re covering Pink Floyd’s Echoes on the album and tour. But it was magnificent, and a glorious night for watching a show. Tuesday I voted for Laurie Dodd for Hunter Mill District Supervisor in the primary, but honestly anyone would be a better choice than Comstock spokeswoman Maggie Parker, busy trying to erode our First Amendment rights and bring unrelenting gridlock to Reston. Wednesday Nina’s class danced in the school talent show. That night I found this to be so true.

Nina

Wednesday the 12th Nina got her hair tinted for the 1st time while Thursday was her last day of school, and Friday Jill took her to the pool and Tacos & More with friends. Saturday we celebrated Father’s Day a day early at Taste of Reston and Ben & Jerry’s, then Jill was working Saturday night and sleeping Sunday so I took Nina to get toys at Walmart and 2nd & Charles, then we ended up at Crafthouse in Fairfax Corner for brunch.

Nina Kerry

The next was the start of camp season, first week at Emmaus Church. Thursday I got dinner from Mason’s Lobster (got to admire them having whoopie pie from LaBree’s Bakery) for concert #18: Trampled by Turtles with Deer Tick and Maggie Rose at Wolf Trap. Perfect weather, great sets. Could have used a little more Deer Tick. Row 7 was a great place to be – we weren’t that close for the next night’s show, concert #19: Ariana Grande with Normani at Capital One Arena. Nina’s first big pop star show, and undoubtedly not her last – she loved the whole thing (also loved Nando’s for dinner beforehand).

Jill Nina

Thursday the 27th was concert #20: Robbie Schaefer and Ines Nassara at Signature Theatre for a mostly covers show called Blowin’ in the Wind: Folk-Rock in America (plus some Robbie songs). Ines Nassara has a voice that was a mixture of Tracy Chapman and Dionne Warwick, and did an amazing version of “Baltimore”. My favorite surprise was a take on “Go Your Own Way”. Lopez Broadway Bootcamp was next on the camp agenda that week:

We both took the day off Friday to get ready (and a haircut), then picked Nina up from camp and started vacation by driving up to Rochester. Best thing about that day was a stop at Bullfrog Brewery with delicious beer infused food and a wheel of beer sampler. The next morning we took a walk with Mom and her dog Tati, then went to the Strong Museum of Play, which we visited for 5 hours and still didn’t get to everything (we stopped at the Bill Gray’s diner inside for lunch). Mom and David hosted us for dinner in the private dining room at Cloverwood Senior Living where they live (I had some tasty lamb chops and my first raw oysters).

Nina

Sunday we had breakfast at Char Broil Restaurant, then I had to go to Best Buy to get some equipment as I was upgrading Mom’s computer, then I went over to Record Archive, where you can sip a beer while you browse the vinyl and CDs. Later we took a cruise on the Erie Canal through a lock and back again, then stopped at the nearby Pittsford Farms Dairy for ice cream. We finally met David’s daughter and two of her sons when we all had dinner together that night at Hong Wah Chinese Restaurant.

Kerry Jill Nina

May

Thursday the 2nd I finally found an epic #TBT I’d been looking for. In 1991 I was in LA with my family on Spring Break, and we got tickets to the Tonight Show, hoping to get Johnny, but we got Jay. I remember the Pet Shop Boys covering U2, but I didn’t realize that one of them had walked off stage in the middle of the song, and I didn’t remember Jim Carrey being there until I saw the clip (and how awkward it was to watch what Shelley Winters was saying next to my mom). From Literaly (Pet Shop Boys Fan club magazine): “During the first song (“Where The Streets …”) Chris noticed -watching a monitor showing the broadcast -that he hadn’t appeared on camera once and, understandably miffed, walked off during the song. The people from the TV show refused to re-shoot the song and so the Pet Shop Boys refused to play their second song.”

Jim Carrey Jay Leno

Saturday Jill joined friends at the Maryland sheep and wool festival, while I took Nina to tumbling, then Free Comic Book Day at Comic Logic Books & Artwork where Nina marveled at the staff member dressed as Black Widow and peppered me with questions. She loved her Disney Descendants comic and couldn’t wait to read it, then we ate lunch at Frito Chicken. Sunday we had an ER visit after we thought Nina might be having a reaction to new medication (likely heartburn, thank goodness) then had dinner at Mod Pizza. Nina asked for Oreos for dessert as this was her jam of the moment. I continued exploring the 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer with #gameofbeers part 2. This week was King of the North, a barrel aged stout. Heavy, but decent. B

Nina

Monday I thought this is just all kinds of awesome. Maybe we’ll make a return sometime. Thursday the 9th was concert #12: Neil Gaiman at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. On a night where traffic was so bad Google had me go west around Leesburg, we still got some quick seafood for dinner at the Shuckin’ Shack and managed to make it to our seats 5 minutes late, when he hadn’t gone on yet. Plus he read “Chivalry” (first time I’ve heard him do it in 20 years) and answered my question in the first group of questions and answers.
Q: I’ve seen the first episode of Good Omens, [well done] and while I’ve seen people discuss its influences, I felt it owed a debt to the television adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Was that intentional?
A: Absolutely. The first three minutes, more or less, of Good Omens is an absolute hat tip to the late Douglas Adams and to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series. Tried to do it as if it was now. I loved Hitchhiker’s. When I was 25, 26 years old, I got to write The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy companion and worked with Douglas Adams. He was an inspiration and wonderful, ridiculously tall man. And so my brief to our wonderful graphics people was go wild, do what the Hitchhiker’s television show would have done for one of those early sequences where the voice of the book talks to you about something – if they could do it now, if they had our resources, if they had real computers rather than a very sweet man named Kevin Davis very slowly making it look like things were done with them. So yeah, absolutely intentional.

Jill

Saturday Dad and Patricia came over again for computer help – this time we had an early Mother’s Day brunch of french toast and bacon. Sunday was #gameofbeers part 3: Mother of Dragons, a smoked porter and kriek blend. Expected more smokiness, but a good mix to pair with grilled chicken and pasta that night (one of Jill’s favorites). B+

Nina

Thursday Jill’s car repairs cost more than her car so she got the Subaru Outback she’d been eyeing. Saturday the 18th was Nina’s tryouts for the new cheer year (some lovely new tastes at Old Ox while I waited), then by request I picked up Popeyes chicken for a neighbor’s pot luck party. We left Nina there so she could play with the kids after her babysitter arrived, then we went to concert #13: Eddie Izzard at Warner for his Wunderbar show, which ended with a very funny Lord of the Rings bit. Afterwards Jill and I had drinks at Proper 21 (and how could I say no to a drink called “Benny & The Jets” and made with rum & rhubarb?). Sunday we went to the Fine Arts festival then broke in the two seater inflatable kayak, then that evening was #gameofbeers part 4 and the series finale. Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. A sour blonde ale, kinda goes with my feelings. B

Eddie Izzard

Friday the 24th was Nina’s “graduation” from Tae Kwon Do as she’d been taking afterschool classes. She and I had dinner at Flippin’ Pizza before and I signed her up for some more classes. We also realized we weren’t as good friends with people as we thought we were when we were blindsided to see pictures of friends at a wedding that weekend we thought we would have been invited to. We did finish watching Good Omens as eBay is a wonderful place to find what you want. And yes, the show is as good as I had hoped.

Nina

Wednesday I saw this. If you’re a fan of the Dark Tower by Stephen King, there are some fascinating tidbits. Also from Warren Ellis’ weekly newsletter, 100% true for me:
“Also, a continuing personal rejection of Music As A Service. I purchase all my downloads. And if something for sale is offered for free on a streaming site, I try to track the thing down and buy it if I love it. (Hence I now own the Brian Eno “New Space Music” I put here a couple weeks back, thanks to EnoShop.) Sampling is fine. That’s what radio was/is for. I use YouTube and other services to sample things, and I think – I hope – it can help artists. But renting a music collection is bullshit and bad for everybody.
(As is, of course, acting as if music is free like air. That only works if you don’t let all the trees die.)
(But, I reiterate, personal. Not trying to make you feel bad for streaming here. This is just what works for me, and I am well aware of my personal privilege of having an amount of disposable income for music.)”

Nina

Friday the 31st what else would I do on a bachelor weekend but drop off the girls at Dulles (it was Jake’s graduation) at 6:30am so I could leave work by 3 to go to George Mason University and go to Fenwick Library for the first time since I was taking grad school classes there 25 years ago? I had an appointment at the Special Collections Research Center I made after seeing this article. I wanted to see if they had any of the articles I’d written for Expulsion then that I didn’t have. Unfortunately they didn’t have many of the papers I was missing. Then I stopped at Crazy Crab for some delicious seafood, loved how the gloves and the bib had me walking away unstained for once. Then it was time for concert #14: Sammy Hagar with Night Ranger at Wolf Trap. 4th time seeing Sammy (1 solo, 2 with VH), but 1st time seeing Night Ranger, and they were great. But Sammy (with Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham) just knocked it out of the park, especially on a cover of Rock And Roll (on John Bonham’s birthday no less).

April

Monday the 1st I was glad that finally there was a well done April Fool’s joke. Wednesday we took Nina to the Kennedy Center as Idina Menzel was headlining the Kennedy Center Gala. Unfortunately our plan to eat at the Kennedy Center was blown because the restaurants were closed for the gala. And the one restaurant close by ran out of food – I ordered pizza from &pizza a half mile away and it was ready when I got there. Concert #9 was still worth the trouble. Nina’s second Broadway related concert in a month, with songs from Frozen, Rent & Wicked, as well as stunning covers of “Dear Prudence”, “I Melt With You” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

Kerry Nina Jill

Friday we again headed to Richmond for a cheer competition. A new hotel every time, this time the Four Points by Sheraton Richmond. Nina voted for sushi for dinner, so we ate at the nearby Hiro Sushi. They had a kid’s meal of Chicken & Vegetable Tempura, 4pcs California Roll, Edamame and Miso Soup – she tried everything but the Miso Soup (and bonus points for another girl of the same age there).

sushi

The next morning, after brunch at the hotel, I dropped them at the Arthur Ashe Athletic Center then checked out of the hotel. It was the third time that season in Richmond, but the first time I had time to make it to a record store like Eric Kader and I used to do in college. This was pretty decent. Jill said “Nina’s team rounded out their season with a huge WIN! As always, so proud of these girls.”

Nina

I picked an Italian restaurant, Arianna’s, that was on the way out of town, and we got there first, ordered a cheese pizza and drinks to start, and waited. And waited. Then Jill reached out to the cheer moms, who were wondering where we were – because there was ANOTHER Arianna’s, closer to Richmond, but also closer to the Ashe Center. So we drained our drinks and packed our pizza to go, only to be told by the asshat manager of the Sheppard St location that we couldn’t bring in “outside food”. So we ordered again (and snuck Nina a slice of that pizza). Food was only ok.

Jill

The next day Dad and Patricia came over for computer help, but it was also his birthday so I made eggs benedict with steamed artichokes to also dip in the hollandaise sauce (an old family tradition). Tuesday Nina went to a STEAM night at school. Wednesday the 10th Jill said “Nina wanted to know if astronauts could sleep in a rocket ship. So now we know how they do, and we both want to experience something so cool!!”

Patricia Nina Bryce

Saturday April 13th was the start of Shanty Spring Break, as we’d decided to vacation with the Cannons since our spring break coincided for the first time ever. We decided to meet halfway and rented a house in the Poconos for a week. We stopped at Arbys for lunch because neither Nina or Jill had eaten there and they were curious (it was a win/win). We arrived at the house only minutes before the Cannons and the girls explored while Chris and I went grocery shopping at the nearby Wal Mart.

Nina P

Sunday we drove 2+ hours to Hersheypark because it was the only day it was open when we were up there. Nina was delighted to have someone with her in the back seat. The girls all had a fabulous time on the rides. After lunch they admired one guy with 2 giant bears he’d won, and he gave them the bears. We let them lug them around a while before explaining they wouldn’t fit in our cars and they’d have to give them away to other kids. We stopped at La Casita De Familia for some delicious authentic Mexican food. Unfortunately road construction and a storm made for a tough trip after that, although figuring out how to stream the first episode of Game of Thrones made up for that.

V Nina

Monday was continued yucky weather; Jess and Jill did some more shopping while Chris and I took the girls to a local playground during a break. But they’d brought their Nintendo Switch and an extra Kindle (we managed to leave Nina’s charging at home) so they were all pretty happy. Tuesday we walked over to the lake, then after lunch went to Pocono Rocks! so the girls could use the climbing wall, bounce houses, and ninja course. We also checked out Ye Old Village Trader next door. After we were done, we went across the street to the Casino Theatre & Village Malt Shoppe to get ice cream and watch a movie. Or at least that was the intention – after 15 minutes of Missing Link, Nina was done and we played games in the arcade until the movie was done.

Nina Kerry

Wednesday we went to the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Lodge. We started in the wave pool, then went on to the play structure and hot tub. Only the oldest girl was interested in the slides, but after we endured a long wait to get lunch (they’ve never heard of calling numbers, apparently), we took Nina up to ride the Venus Slydetrap (and waited out a closure when we were just about to ride it). After that, she was all in on the slides and more wave pool. Jess, Jill and I started watching Umbrella Academy.

Chris Jess P Nina Jill

Thursday I wanted to go to a CD store and Jill wanted to go to a yarn store, so we all drove to Wilkes-Barre to Gosh Yarn It!, then Chris and I went over to Gallery of Sound while they finished up and got some Italian ice. We traveled to Dickson City Laser Tag next where we all played an epic pirate themed game, then played games in their arcade. The girls had mostly played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but after they went to bed I was curious about Super Mario Odyssey and played into the wee hours.

C Kerry Nina P

Saturday the 19th it was time to leave, we cleaned up and packed up and got going. Jill said “I adopted a BFL sheep this year from Fluffy U Fiber Farm and got to pick up my fleece today! We met the sheep, goats, and sheepdogs and of course, their wonderful shepherd Katrina. It is a really gorgeous fleece! We drove down to Sweitzer’s Countryside Fiber Mill to drop it off in Heather’s capable hands and I will be seeing it again as pin drafted roving at Shenandoah Fiber Fest. I was so grateful to educate myself and my family about the local fiber industry here!” And due to road closures went the last mile to the fiber mill down a narrow gravel road in the rain, it felt very unsafe. The traffic everywhere was terrible and we took back roads and ended up at Maggie’s in Westminster for a late lunch of soup and sandwiches, then by the time we got to the Beltway the traffic was pretty good. That night a tornado touched down just 4 miles north of us. Sunday was Easter and Jill said Nina had a “prep curl selfie! N insisted”. I made a pecan crusted pork loin for dinner.

Nina

Monday the 22nd after a lousy start with a visit to urgent care for a tetanus shot after getting the deck boat ready for disposal, I went to Concert #10: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets at Constitution Hall. I don’t love all the old Pink Floyd, but I do love Meddle, and “Fearless” live was wonderful. Of course “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and “One Of These Days” were great as well. In a nice flashback, there was even a guy selling bootleg t-shirts after the show (can’t remember last time that happened). Tuesday Nina’s cheer gym had rebranded to Stingray Allstars and they were letting all the old trophies and awards go so as Jill said “The Delta Sportmanship trophy has a new home now… from N’s first team last year”.

Nina

Wednesday was Concert #11: Alan Cumming at Strathmore. Very funny, plus some great covers including P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go”. Jill said “We saw Alan Cumming tonight on his Legal Immigrant show tour -absolutely incredible! I had a goofy smile on my face pretty much the whole time he was onstage. One of my favorite evenings out, for sure.”

Alan Cumming

Friday was Nina’s spring school picture. Saturday the 27th Nina went to a birthday party in Warrenton and I was pretty happy when I found out that Old Bust Head was nearby. I brought a growler and enjoyed some loaded Garlic Tots from Two Smooth Dudes. Later, this was relevant to my interests; also, I love this gif they made.

hall of fame

Sunday Jill’s sisters were here for Maddie’s birthday and we went to Cheesecake Factory for brunch (Jill and them had gone to Georgetown on Saturday). Later I went to the GameStop in the other mall to get a working nunchuck and I wanted to finish Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii. That night it was time for #gameofbeers. Jill bought me a 4 pack of Game of Thrones beer for Christmas and with 4 episodes left it was time. 1st up was Hand of the Queen barleywine. Don’t drink too many, but smooth with a nice 10.7% ABV to get you through a 90 minute episode. B

Old Bust Head