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


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

Brandi Carlile

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

Kerry Janice Lorna Nina Jill

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

Bailey Nina

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


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

Celina Pearl Leila Nina

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


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

Kerry Nina Finn

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

Robin Bob Mike Kerry Jill Sue Finn Nina

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

Jess Chris Jill Kerry


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

Nina Kerry

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


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


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


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

Nina Kerry

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



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).


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?”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Wednesday the 2nd it was my day off while Jill chaperoned Nina on the class field trip to a farm. Jill said it was “fun with friends and frogs! Field trip on the farm (learned about the life cycle of frogs then got to catch tadpoles and pet animals) followed by gardening on the school roof and playground shenanigans.” Meanwhile I dropped my car off at the body shop to start getting it fixed, got a rental car, ran errands and did projects at home like finally clearing the clog in our bathroom sink. The next day my insurance company called and let me know that after starting work on the car the body shop had discovered more damage and now the car would be totaled. It was fun times looking for a replacement after that.


Friday night Jill’s sister Robin flew in, and the next morning she and Jill drove to Hershey to meet their older sister and their mom for a spa weekend celebrating their mom’s 60th birthday. Nina and I celebrated Free Comic Book Day at Big Planet Comics as well as Cinqo de Mayo with dinner at Tequila Grande and dessert at Cold Stone. Sunday Nina had an end of year Cheer party at The Zone, having great fun playing laser tag and getting tickets by playing games (and unlike Chuck E. Cheese there’s a separate restaurant/bar area that cuts down on the noise). Later that night I saw that Queen + Adam Lambert was doing a residency in Vegas and noted that could finally get me to go back to Sin City.


Friday the 11th Nina wanted Tacos and More for dinner, so we did. Saturday I headed into DC but missed a subway train at the last minute, so made a quick dinner with dim sum from the Jenny’s At The Wharf popup and a shake from Shake Shack. The last time I was at a concert in DC, my phone was almost out of power, so I also stopped by Politics & Prose for John Scalzi’s latest. Of course I was there for concert #11: David Byrne at The Anthem. Few and far between are the concerts that are actually shows, and he definitely had one. From moving in syncopation, to choreography, to an actual freaking drumline, he had it all. Early contender for best concert of the year. I liked the new album just fine, but it was this 10 year old track that was a highlight for me (NSFW video).


Sunday was Mother’s Day and Jill chose to take Nina on that day while I went to Maryland to look at a car. Bad choice, the dealership closed for Mother’s Day without letting anyone know on Facebook, their website, or their answering machine. I read this article Sunday and reacted strongly. We’ve left concerts early, so many times – but she’s already seen Rush, Queen, Paul McCartney and Yes. #worthit Also I don’t know how I didn’t get spoiled by this, but it’s amazing. Skip past the pitch session if you must, but don’t miss the greatest Beatles cover band ever.

Nina Jill

Monday afternoon I went back to Maryland to look at the car – a 2015 Honda Civic Hybrid (I really liked the 2009 version I’d had). I signed the contract, then went back home to get a cashier’s check and leave the rental. Jill was planning on bringing me to the dealership, but traffic got bad fast on the Beltway so she dropped me at East Falls Church and I took the subway and a bus to return. The sale went smoothly, but by the time I was done, there was a ferocious storm (with a tornado warning) headed through. By the time I got to Silver Spring, it was coming down and I made it inside Bibibop just a bit wet – Jill, Nina and Illa were at home downstairs in the bathroom. Bibibop was like a Korean Chipotle, very good, but didn’t take long and traffic was terrible, so I went across the street to Copper Canyon for a beer before heading home.


Saturday the 19th I went to a document shredding event run by Fairfax County while Jill took Nina to cheer tryouts. In the rainy afternoon we went to the Wolf Trap Summer Season Kick Off. Fairly deserted due to the rain, which meant no lines for face painting, pictures, or shaved ice. That evening was concert #12: Lewis Black at the Warner. Always angry, always hilarious. Plus so nice at the meet & greet. Sunday afternoon I picked Nina up after Girl Scouts and she did some art and played some games at the Fine Arts festival (giant size chess pieces are not ideal to learn on). Concert #13 later: Sons of Apollo at The Howard Theatre. Progressive metal supergroup with members of Dream Theater,Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Mr. Big, & Guns N’ Roses, only half full theater, but easily the loudest show I’ve seen or will likely see the year. And halfway through the show was the best time to find I still had on the junior deputy sticker my daughter put on me.

Kerry Lewis Jill

Friday the 25th Nina had her first meal at Chik-fil-A (the biggest hit was the playground), then hit the trifecta: 1st time seeing a movie opening weekend, 1st time seeing a Star Wars movie opening weekend, and 1st time cosplaying Star Wars. And she makes an adorable Rey. The movie was pretty good, too. I had to forward to my former co-owners this as it reminds me of conversations in a certain record store.


Saturday was concert #14: Girlfriend at Signature Theatre. A coming of age/coming out story based on Matthew Sweet’s album. Good show, and the all female backing band took the songs to the next level. This Twitter status made me think it needs to happen at every q&a I ever go to. Wednesday the 31st was Nina’s final field trip for the year, and Jill volunteered to chaperone before she knew they’d be walking to Walker Nature Center from school. She vowed never again.



On Saturday the 4th, Dad and Patricia came over for lunch and brought pizza so I could fix her laptop. Thanks to Jill’s gym’s parents night out, we got dinner and a movie later: tasty Turkish food (at Anatolian Bistro) and Black Panther. 10/10, would do again. Monday I found this and a selfie of my daughter on my phone. That’s why I don’t let her hold it.


Friday the 9th Nina’s school was on lockdown after police received a report that a student with a gun was at the nearby high school. It turned out to be untrue and she thought it was just a drill, but it made me more certain than ever that guns need to be restricted, and in fact I’m perfectly ok with melting down all the guns. Saturday I finished Nina’s first mashup request: “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Skip to My Lou”. Sunday Nina did not want to wait for Last Jedi to arrive on Blu-ray, so she saw her first Star Wars movie in a theater. Now she loves Rey even more.


Tuesday the 13th was concert #6: I’m With Her with Andrew Combs at the 9:30 Club. On at 9:30, 19 songs later off at 10:45 with a much more enthusiastic crowd for a Tuesday than I would have thought (and sold out, to boot). I’m guessing I was the only one there buying a ticket for Steven Wilson the next month. Illa had a vet visit on Thursday and lost 10 lbs – his kidneys aren’t doing so well. Dad came over again on the 17th for more laptop help, so we celebrated St. Patricks Day with corned beef and cabbage for lunch. Sunday we had Red Snapper for dinner – Mmmmm, very tasty.

Jill Kerry Patricia Bryce Nina

The night of the 19th I was at Nina’s school because Fairfax County proposed turning South Lakes Dr. into 1 lane each way to allow for bike lanes. Traffic isn’t horrible now at rush hour, but that would be a disaster. Thankfully the majority of folks were opposed to the idea. Tuesday night we trusted the Capital Weather Gang and were rewarded, as they said there would be a long window between winter storms early in the afternoon and after midnight. Jill and I had dinner at Green Bamboo in Rockville where I couldn’t resist getting moar red snapper (still very tasty) before concert #7: Weird Al. I finally got to hear “Nature Trail to Hell”, plus “Albuquerque” a second time.

Weird Al

Nina wanted to do something “special” Friday the 23rd, which turned out to be her first dinner in a Chinese restaurant at Lakeside Asia Cafe (she can now eat a little bit of egg in anything, so cross contamination isn’t an issue for us anymore). Saturday the 24th I noted that Amanda Palmer had summed up how 2 years of Patreon has gone. Well, I think. We also got an amazing care package from Shelly. There was another parents night out at the gym, so Jill and I finally used the gift certificate to Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm – a really nice dinner (I had the duck and Jill had the trout). Sunday Jill made some delicious Asian lettuce wraps, then Monday night we’d promised Nina we could go to the new Tacos and More in Reston (owned by the dad of a friend of hers) for her first taco (she’s a fan).


The finale of The X-Files Season 11 was not as bad as the premiere, but it wasn’t great. It’s a shame because the rest of the season was pretty good. I’d be ok with it ending. Treat it like Star Trek Enterprise. Some episodes must be skipped.


Tuesday the 27th, Jill, Nina and Maddie drove up to Massachusetts for spring break. They celebrated Jill’s mom’s 60th birthday, went to the Dr. Seuss museum, and Nina got her first tick. Meanwhile my week was fairly dull until Friday night when I went out for concert #8: San Fermin with Gracie and Rachel. Great baroque pop, improved by the fried chicken sandwich on an Old Bay donut from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken earlier.


Saturday the 31st I took Illa to the kennel (after I cleaned out my backseat and found a cup used to have milk in it), then drove to Dulles and had a breakfast pizza and beer at & Jill picked me up in Hartford, then we got Nina and went to visit Memere and Pepere. After we got back the kids all came over and decorated Easter eggs; later Sue watched Nina while we went to concert #8: Cry Cry Cry at the Calvin. Only had to wait 15 years for it, but totally worth it. Pre show dinner at Coco and post show ice cream at Herrell’s were excellent.

Cry Cry Cry


Saturday the 3rd Nina got to see her first Nutcracker ballet with dancers from her dance school with Jill, then I took her to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese in the afternoon. Jill and I went out to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Mosaic that evening – very well done addition to the canon. We needed a very quick meal beforehand and Spice 6 obliged with tasty Indian food, then had a drink at B Side afterwards. Friday I wondered if 2016 would not give up as I learned Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer had passed away right after I was listening to his Christmas song. I suggested if I was Carl Palmer, I’d spend the rest of the year in a bunker (Keith Emerson died earlier in the year).


Saturday the 10th was our annual holiday party, and the kids threatened to outnumber the adults. Nina had a blast, as usual (she helped bake cookies the day before too). Too bad the next night we hosted a party as well: St. Nick’s night at Emmaus UCC for a “spaghetti dinner”, actually a giant potluck dinner with a special visit from you-know-who, but the weekend exhausted everyone.


Thursday the 13th was parent’s night at ballet, with a special performance of “Frosty The Snowman”. The next morning was Nina’s school’s winter concert with her class singing “Shake Those ‘Simmons Down”. Saturday our next door neighbors hosted a party, which resulted in the following firsts for Nina: first grownup party (with downstairs babysitter) and first caroling (she was one of the doorbell pressing scouts). Other firsts from Sunday included first programming (with a robot) and first time losing a tooth at a concert (and 2nd tooth ever) as we went to see David Wax Museum at Jammin’ Java.


Wednesday the 21st Jill’s mom was down and the girls were going to Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, so I got takeout from Dumpling Queen for dinner (delicious), then went to see Rogue One in IMAX – enjoyed it (although I liked Episode 7 more). That was a good day – the next morning was not as Nina refused to go inside the jump camp she’d been to twice before because there were “too many kids”, and I had to drop her off at the dentist where Jill was. Of course I left my coat at the camp so I had to go all the way back there again (plus we thought her backpack was there as well, but that turned out to be at the dentist).


Friday the 23rd we got an early start on our drive up to Massachusetts. Not too bad a time until we got to Hartford, then we needed to stop at Blue Back Square to get a gift that was on hold and ended up at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. The food was fine, but it took a while and then there was a traffic jam on the highway so we took back roads to get closer to Melissa’s house.


Christmas Eve my Mom and David and my sister and her family arrived and we all met up at a church for their Christmas Eve service. We planned on everyone getting takeout but the baby was tired and the visitors went back to their hotel while Jill and I got Chinese food for everyone else. It was probably a good thing they didn’t stay as it was over an hour until our food was ready (got some last minute shopping done at Walgreens). I had to post the best tweet of the day later:
@omically: John: I’ve done it. I’ve written the worst Christmas song ever
Paul: Hold my beer

Nina Dominic Jake

Christmas started with Nina and her cousins opening stockings and gifts (and there was a special video for Nina from Santa explaining why her bike was at home and not there), then all the immediate family on both sides trickled in. We opened more gifts and had a big dinner of ham, plus the 1 year old boy cousins got to play for the first time. My sister in law doesn’t have BBC America, so we used the Verizon Mobile app (first on my phone, then Jill’s tablet) to watch Doctor Who live later. Worth it, that was a good one.


Boxing Day we went to Jill’s sister’s Robin’s house for lunch with my family, and the boy cousins got to play all afternoon. We followed my family over to Northampton with the intention of exploring but it was getting icy, so we explored Thornes Marketplace before ordering takeout from Paul and Elizabeth’s. Jill, Nina and I stayed to wait for the food while everyone else went to Jill’s mom’s, and Nina and I got a chance to shop at Turn It Up! and the surplus store before we had dinner (almost everyone got the fish and chips, very good).


The next day my family went we went to Jill’s dad’s house where we met up with Robin and her family as well as Jill’s dad’s parents. More gifts were passed out, and we had meat pie and sandwiches for lunch, then Jill, Melissa, Dominic and I went out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Wednesday Jill and I took Jake out for Indian food in Springfield (nicely spiced lamb for me) before taking Nina and Ava to see Moana.


Thursday morning Melissa and I took Nina, Ava and Maddy to see Sing (both movies were good with catchy songs), then we’d planned to go to an escape room in Easthampton. The weather had different plans (snowed hard enough to close the road to Easthampton), so we came back to East Longmeadow and had dinner at Center Square Grill (the best meal all week, I had the lobster roll). I went to Walgreens for materials, then designed an escape room for everyone else after the little kids went to bed (Jill knew she’d solved the puzzle of the two presidents when she figured their order was 21 and 12, won’t get away with that number sequence again). Friday morning we took our time to let the roads clear, then started the long drive home.

Us and Bradys

Saturday the 31st was New Year’s Eve, and we actually went out for the first time in years (so out of practice, but it was the 15th anniversary of our first date). We did late dinner at the reincarnated TenPenh in Tyson’s (absolutely fantastic selection of dim sum), then walked over to Earls (we had taken the Metro from Reston) and had drinks at the bar while we did the countdown before heading home (babysitter Julia slept over).

Kerry Jill


Monday the 1st we were on vacation in East Longmeadow, MA at the Bradys’. Jill and Melissa took the kids to Spec Park that morning where Dominic works, then we were bird paramedics in the afternoon for a fledgling. It was rare for me to be caught up on pop culture other than music (as that day I was watching 3 kids in a pool), but having watched Ghostbusters 2.0 the previous week and having read Harry Potter 8 over the past two days, I thought both were excellent.

Ava Nina

Tuesday we took Nina to Nonotuck Park in Easthampton, then went to Northampton. We had lunch at Sam’s Pizzeria and Cafe (it was ok), then caught Pokemon with Nina as the other ran errands (CDs and yarn, natch). Jill had downloaded Pokemon Go that morning as Maddy and Tiernan were into it, and we started to get competitive. That night, Melissa, Jill and I went out to Max Burger for some delicious burgers and shakes.


Wednesday all the kids visited a friend’s pool. We forgot Nina’s medicine, so I went back for it and stocked up for camping at Table & Vine (the important supplies). We got takeout from Nick’s Nest for lunch at Sue’s house, then spent the rest of the day there (where even more cousins showed up). I went back to Northampton with Maddy and Tiernan so they could hunt Pokemon (and go to their first gym). For dinner I picked up McDonald’s and Chinese takeout from Golden Chopsticks (not bad, but I feel they were better last time we went).

Ahna Nina

Thursday the 4th we bought food at Stop & Shop, then found a Sonic that was kind of on the way for lunch before leaving for the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We got the tent set up and welcomed the Cannons’ arrival, then helped them make Mexican for dinner. Afterwards we took the kids down to the Lounge Stage to see Reggie Harris with Pat Wictor, then I came back later to see Pesky J. Nixon, Peter Mulvey, The Sea The Sea, and Joe Jenks (summer concert #18).

Kerry Nina

Friday was lots of running around, followed by Stuart’s wake and the Shanty luau/steak and martini night. After the main stage, I went over to the Budgiedome for Summer concert #19: Mike + Ruthy, Eric Schwartz, and Pesky J. Nixon. Saturday had some light morning rain (pretty much the only precipitation of the fest), then Nina and I joined the Cannons at the kids tent for crafts and play (I managed to catch the Most Wanted Song Swap twice for summer concert #20). That night Jill, Nina and I joined some other Shantytowners at the main stage to see summer concert #21: The Mike + Ruthy Band. After all the kids were in bed, there was an epic singing night in camp.


Sunday we packed up and unusually started heading straight home (we often had spent the night at Sue’s before going back). We made the early decision to go through Pennsylvania, and stopped at Salsa’s Mexican Grille for dinner. Nina had 2 more firsts that day: 1st pee on the side of the road, and 1st use of “dammit” (after discussion, she’s now using “shucky ducky”). Monday Jill and I were off, but work ended up needing me for half a day, plus I had to meet a contractor at my mom’s house (and inadvertently risked exposure to hepatitis A).


Tuesday the 9th we went to Nando’s Peri-Peri for dinner before heading over to Verizon Center for summer concert #22. I was very tempted to take Nina to Paul McCartney 2 years previous when he played Nationals Park, but I’m glad it worked out to take her that night. He was in fine form and she had a great time. Hopefully someday she’ll be able to appreciate what he’s done for music.

Nina Paul McCartney

The next night Jill and I saw Matt Nathanson put on his usual crowd pleasing show on a sweltering night at Wolf Trap for summer concert #23 (and missed out connecting with our friend Linda). We had dinner at the Encore Circle, which has expanded in size and decreased the quality and quantity of the food.


Saturday the 13th was possibly the hottest day of the year, so of course I made the unwise decision to walk with Nina over to a birthday on the next lake. At least I was smart enough to have Jill pick us up at the end. Later I went to the 9:30 Club for summer concert #24: Belly. Amazing that I’ve been to so many concerts, but there are still acts I missed for some reason. Plus I even took Chris to a listening party for “King” and had them sign a bootleg (I was so snarky). Situation remedied, Tanya and Gail were rock stars that night.


The week of the 15th was no fun. Nina got strep and stayed home Monday and Tuesday, then caught a cold Thursday night and was home on Friday. Thursday the 25th Nina and I got takeout (Wendy’s for her, Santini’s for me and went to Lake Anne. We saw Iona for summer concert #25, played in the fountain and caught some Pokemon (Nina’s developing a really good throw of the ball).

Nina Barbara

Getting a dinner out (at Jardenea) and seeing John Oliver would have been a good night on Saturday (minus the idiot in the hotel lobby outside the restaurant), but we almost literally ran into the Greenes on the way into the Kennedy Center. Couldn’t have had a nightcap afterwards with nicer folks (at Bourbon Steak). Jill’s mom and Dave came to visit that night, and the next day Nina got to fish with Dave before we went out for dinner at Ford’s Fish Shack.

Kerry Jill

The last week of August Nina’s school didn’t offer summer camp, so we had put her in a half day camp at her gym. Sue and Dave picked her up each afternoon so neither Jill nor I needed to use vacation time that week. Wednesday Jill, Nina and Sue went to Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios in Tyson’s, and Dave and I walked over to Red’s Table for drinks.

Sue Dave Nina


I started with a visit to the dentist on Tuesday the 1st, where I found out I had a cavity on the side of a tooth. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but seeing Patty Griffin, Sara Watkins and Anais Mitchell that night was much less depressing than watching election results. Jill’s mom came to visit on Wednesday, and I finally got to go to a beer dinner I could walk home from over at Red’s Table for their Flying Dog beer dinner (the Reuben fries were delicious, and I was glad I didn’t get an extra drink as it was 4 full beers). Thursday Jill and I went to visit Stuart over at Reston Hospital (his last night there, thank goodness). Nina’s asthma had her congested and waking up coughing, so we started new cleaning routines including biweekly baths for Illa. Cleaning her room a lot definitely helped.


Sunday the 6th Nina had a birthday party to attend at Sport Bounce, then Jill rushed her over to the Reston Community Center to meet me and watch the Mary Poppins play (which neither of us knew deviated from the movie – very long as well, but Nina was a trooper). Monday Nina had a field trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – her favorite part was the class having their lunch on the grass across the street. Wednesday I was sad to hear to hear of George Martin’s passing. I had been listening to a Beatles cover album in the car and cranked up Love when I got home, but I just remembered that I hadn’t shared this lovely find (ref: RIP George, John and other George. And then the next day I learned Keith Emerson had also passed and was like WTF, 2016? Just remember I’ve got some big shows coming up…


Friday the 11th Jill brought Nina to my office as she was headed to Dulles for a meeting in Newark the next morning. Nina and I went over to North Point to look at Lego in the Hallmark store, eat at Boston Market and have dessert at Sweet Frog (we miss having a frozen yogurt place in walking distance). The next day I took her to her swim lesson and then to the Spring Flea Market at the Reston Community Center, where she picked up some clothes and her first race track (Pink colored and they’re racing to go shopping, but at least they’re racing). Later she had a playdate at Meadow Lane Park with Abby C. Sunday Sue watched Nina and Jill and I went to see Deadpool – absolutely hilarious. We followed that with ramen at nearby Okada.


Wednesday the 16th we celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day a day early with Sue and my mom – Nina even ate some corned beef for the first time. Saturday I drove to the Sully District Governmental Center and waited for a hour in my car to drop off everything that needed to be shredded. It was rainy and cold (with a bit of snow), so no outdoor activities. Nina was thrilled her friend Olivia could come over for a playdate on Sunday (and when her mom went to run errands we were thrilled because that means they’re at the age where they no longer require the supervision of both parents).


Monday the 21st I was unreasonably proud of this submission. I also found out that LinkedIn says my company is looking for candidates like me. Good algorithm, guys. Wednesday I heard that Axl Rose may replace Brian Johnson in AC/DC. The irony is I saw both Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC in the 90s so wasn’t tempted by the GNR reunion or the AC/DC tour. But put Axl and Angus together and that’s something I want to see (check this out).


Saturday the 26th we went to On The Border just for a night out (Nina enjoyed the table side guacamole, Jill and I enjoyed some frozen margaritas). The next day was Easter, and Nina loved her Easter basket. After church Nina went on a egg hunt there, then we had a brunch at home with ham and homemade biscuits. Thursday Nina had her first bloody nose (caused by a sharp fingernail).

Jill Nina


New Year’s Day was on a Friday, and we had a calm weekend after not going out the night before. Saturday I found this, which seemed appropriate to start the year: “We tumble together through life, pissing each other off, trying to fix and change each other when there’s no fixing or changing to be done, accepting each other, regarding each other anew, and doing the endlessly exhausting and wonderful work of real love.” – Amanda Palmer


Tuesday the 5th I noticed we’d been in our house 5 years now, and I just opened the last box of checks with our old address on it. Wednesday Nina got allergy testing via needle pricks (she did not like that) and we found out her true allergies: dogs, cats and dust mites. Guess which family won’t be getting pets again for a while.


Later that night I went to the 9:30 Club‘s World’s Fair, a pop-up museum at the club for the 9:30 Club’s 35th anniversary (and 20th in the “new” location) – now I know what the club would look like if they ever do a haunted house. The tour started in the basement bar with lots of memorabilia from the old club, then went up the stairs and there was a video screen playing clips of shows there at the regular entrance (and the elevated seat the camera operator had to sit on). Up on the balcony level was more video (at the new location) and hundreds of flyers, newsletters and setlists. I got a peek into the backstage viewing area, then back down to the main level and my favorite thing, The Hall of Records, a library chronicling every headliner at the club in vinyl and CD (which is a permanent exhibit). There was also an immersive video simulation of being the crowd, then I was on the stage with instruments played at the club and a video of the crowd cheering and finally a cupcake as I made my way outside through the backstage.

In honor of that, here are all my shows at the club:
09/10/93 Sweet Water/Sun-60
04/06/94 Kevn Kinney
08/16/94 Sheryl Crow
01/25/95 The Factory/D Generation
02/20/95 Gravel Pit/Letters To Cleo/Seed
01/06/96 The Smashing Pumpkins
02/17/96 Crown Heights/Ruth Ruth/Everclear
04/09/96 The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies/Joan Osborne
07/08/96 Cibo Matto/Porno For Pyros
07/14/96 Kristen Barry/Three Fish
07/19/96 Semisonic/emmet swimming
07/25/96 The Refreshments/Poe/Seven Mary Three
08/28/96 Primitive Radio Gods
12/30/97 Cowboy Junkies
01/15/99 Smartbomb/emmet swimming
03/31/00 Matthew Sweet
08/12/00 EBO/emmet swimming
05/01/01 Blues Traveler
08/04/01 Living Colour
10/29/01 The Moldy Peaches/The Strokes
10/30/01 Ike Reilly/Chris Whitley/Bob Schneider
11/26/01 JJ72/Remy Zero/Pete Yorn
12/04/01 Eve To Adam/Tesla
02/17/02 The Clarks/John Mayer
02/26/02 Gorillaz
06/02/02 Queens Of The Stone Age (with Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan)
07/21/02 OK Go/The Vines
11/26/02 Matt Nathanson/O.A.R.
11/27/02 Matt Nathanson/O.A.R.
06/26/03 The Thorns/The Jayhawks
08/16/03 Sondre Lerche/Liz Phair/Jason Mraz
01/09/04 The Hanging Chads (Don Dixon with Bill Lloyd, Jamie Hoover, and Robert Crenshaw)/emmet swimming
02/03/04 Matt Nathanson/Gavin DeGraw
02/04/04 Stereophonics/Howie Day
03/17/04 The Push Stars/Great Big Sea
04/04/04 Wheat/Liz Phair
04/06/04 The Wildhearts/The Darkness
05/27/04 Living Things/Velvet Revolver
10/08/04 Vertical Horizon
10/31/04 Michael Tolcher/Bowling For Soup/Pat McGee Band
01/08/05 Kenin/emmet swimming
06/24/05 Billy Corgan
10/01/05 Girlyman/Dar Williams
01/13/06 Quitter UK/Lloyd Dobler Effect/emmet swimming
09/15/06 Golden Smog
10/25/06 Alice In Chains
11/04/06 Queensryche
01/05/07 emmet swimming
05/29/07 Keane
06/12/07 Mika
07/10/07 The Smashing Pumpkins
10/14/09 Them Crooked Vultures
02/09/10 Trey Anastasio
05/31/10 30th Anniversary Concert: Tommy Keene/The Evens/Justin Jones/Bob Mould/Ted Leo/Dave Grohl/Scream/The Pietasters
10/17/10 The New Pornographers
05/10/11 My Chemical Romance
05/18/11 Anathema/Blackfield
05/23/11 The Cars
02/08/12 Foxy Shazam/The Darkness
09/12/12 Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra
10/24/14 The Jayhawks
11/22/14 The New Pornographers
05/26/15 Steven Wilson

Kerry Nina

Friday the 8th I was playing with Queen’s 40 years of Bohemian Rhapsody app and made a fun video of Nina doing the headbanging section as well as this disturbing family portrait (titled “Real life or fantasy?”)


Saturday we took Nina to a friend’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, first time Jill or I had been there in a long time. Nina loved it, but Jill didn’t. Later that night we dropped Nina at her school for babysitting (a reward for volunteering) while Jill and I had a delicious dinner at Clarity before heading over to Jammin’ Java to see Michael Clem’s CD release show with the Jewells and Lorna and Dave. Sunday I watched the Skins not have a chance. Tuesday the 12th I took advantage of a work meeting in Merrifield to bring back lunch from Sisters Thai – scrumptious Donald Rolls (duck) and Tom Yum.

Jill Nina

Thursday I went to Father’s Night in Nina’s classroom and she showed me the work she did during class – her favorite was yoga. Saturday the 16th I took Nina to her swim class at Goldfish Swim School – she’s learning a lot. Saturday Jill and I went to see Eddie From Ohio perform an amazing all request set (with “Schoolhouse Rock Medley” and an amazing bonus cover of “Space Oddity”), then Sunday I went out for lunch at Hula Girl Bar and Grill (and picked up some crowdfunding rewards) while watching the first playoff game and later saw an entertaining end to a football game as the Cardinals took the Packers Hail Mary score and went right back to score again.

Jill Nina

Monday the 18th was a holiday and I offered Nina the choice of Chuck E. Cheese or a movie, and she choose the mouse. But we had a fun, and this time we got lots of tickets so she got to bring home some prizes (she also really liked Guitar Hero). That night Glenn Frey’s death hit me harder then any other recent one (David Bowie, Lemmy, Alan Rickman), and only a little bit because I always used him as an example of how to correctly pronounce my last name. Don’t let anyone tell you that old bands can’t make great new music – this is one of my favorite Eagles songs.

Friday the 19th we were scheduled to fly down to Jacksonville for Patty & Jesse’s wedding at night, but rescheduled for the morning since there was a monster snowstorm (aka Snowzilla) bearing down on the area. That meant a layover in Atlanta (and Nina’s first foray into motion sickness), but we were at our hotel in the early afternoon. We got some lunch at Crispers and then drove out to Jacksonville Beach. The wedding party was staying at a beach house there, and Jill helped make wedding decorations while Nina and I explored, chasing cats and building sandcastles. That night we met some of the other Shantytowners for dinner at the River City Brewing Company. I had the Florida lobster tail and a glass of the Kentucky Bourbon Ale, both good choices.


Saturday we met even more Shantytowners for breakfast at The Southern Grill, a classic diner style place. We got lunch at the Cool Moose Cafe after running errands (forgot razors again). The wedding was a short drive away at the Ortega River Club. Nina quickly found the other kids as well as the balloon maker. She was a little upset as most of the other girls were in the wedding party, but felt better once she got to ride on the horse the bride came in on. Everyone had a great time, and she was exhausted when we brought her back to the hotel.

Patty Nina
We had tickets to fly back Sunday, but that flight was canceled on Friday, and the earliest we could fly back was Tuesday. So we checked back into the same room, and drove down to Saint Johns where Jill’s friend Tracey (who we met up with at the Animal Kingdom the month before) and her husband and 3 kids live. There had been snow flurries the day before, but Sunday afternoon it was in the high 50s/low 60s so the kids could play outside. I even got to watch half of the 1st conference championship game. We got Mexican takeout on the way back, but it was meh (Yelp is not perfect). Nina had some asthma that night due to the dogs in the house, but she got to sleep with some medicine.


Monday the 25th we met the other Shantytowner stragglers for breakfast at the Maple Street Biscuit Company (their Five And Dime was the best meal I had that trip) before we all went to visit the Jacksonville Zoo. Nina liked petting the stingrays and seeing the animals (as well as playing with any children that came close). We separated from the group when Nina wanted to ride the train, and left before they did, with Nina spending an hour at the playground. We got takeout that night from MOJO no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar and it was much better. Nina’s cough was not, and we came close to an ER visit before it subsided.

Nina Jill

Tuesday we drove to the airport and flew home without a hitch (unless you’re counting a daughter who refused to walk at the airport). The drive home wasn’t bad, but Jill’s covered parking space still had a wall of snow blocking it. This was my conversation with Nina over several days:
Me: It’s really snowing hard at home.
Nina: I want to see the snow.

Me: There’s a lot of snow.
Nina: Will there still be snow when we get home?
Me: Yes, we’ll be shoveling outside for a long time.

Me: Let’s start shoveling.
Nina: Ok!

5 minutes later:
Nina: I’m tired. Can we go inside?

I ended up shoveling about 3 hours that day to get the sidewalks and cars clear – I hate shoveling wet snow, but there was no other choice.


Saturday the 30th Nina was excited as we got her mattress (as well as our new fold out couch) and that meant we could put together her new bed. Later I drove over to Jammin’ Java to see Au Pair, the new duo with one of my favorite musicians, Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. They have a great new album they performed almost all of, plus a nice cover of “Starman” from Golden Smog’s Blood on the Slacks. Sunday I took Nina to see the Peanuts movie again (it was the last day for some movie passes) and afterwards she played at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax where I used to play after church.



December started with lots of cleaning – our 15th annual holiday party was coming up. Nina made her first gingerbread house on Tuesday the 1st. The only time I could get together with my Dad to see the new Bond movie was on Saturday the 5th, the day of our party, and I was told never again (great movie though, I can see why Daniel Craig might want to go out on a high note). Later at the party, lots of food and kids made Nina happy and exhausted.


Sunday at church they had Saint Nicholas’ Day and Nina got Santa to read her a story. Monday I had an idea for a constitutional amendment: Let’s reverse the roles. All persons wishing to run for political office must demonstrate a basic knowledge of the Constitution and our laws. If rich, bigoted a**hats want to run, they can show us how much they really know, or in fact we’ll see they’re windbags inflated by their own hubris (guess which candidates I was unhappy with).

Nina Santa

Wednesday the 9th Nina went on a field trip to Ballantine Farm, and Thursday we had dinner at Penn Commons (loved the “Tuk Tuk” wings) and saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Verizon Center (Nina was a fan of the lights and fake snow). Friday Nina’s school had a concert (her class did “Let It Shine”) and later she and I watched Star Wars Episode IV: the abbreviated version (no scary stuff).

Nina Kerry

Saturday the 12th was our big trip to Orlando with Mom, but a late flight from National so we had a relaxing day first. We got to the Saratoga Springs resort very late. Sunday we had late plans, so Jill went off with her Aunt Kelley to get groceries (who wisely insisted we needed ponchos) and the rest of us went to the nearby pool in the Grandstand, then took the boat over to Disney Springs (Nina loved the Lego store, and I picked her up a vegan cupcake at Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC). Later we took the bus over to the Magic Kingdom, as our tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party let us in at 4PM. I’d booked Fastpass+ as soon as I could, so right away we met Tinker Bell. We had a Fastpass+ to meet Ariel earlier, but arrived later than planned, so got in line for that next (only about a 15 minute wait). Next Nina and Jill went on The Barnstormer (Nina loved it), then we tried to meet Merida but they closed the line.

Jill Nina Kerry Nancy

It started to sprinkle and we dropped Mom off at the Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. We watched Cinderella’s castle get Frozened, but the rain started getting heavier, so we also went into Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe with what seemed like most of the people. Getting food took a while, but Nina was fine dancing with other kids to Sonny Eclipse (the chicken & rib combo was pretty good). Mom, Jill and Nina rode the Mad Tea Party and we tried to see Jack Skellington but the line was too long. We then waited to see Merida, which for Nina was only slightly more fun then testing out the bow and arrow. The parade had started, along with more rain, so we ponchoed up and watched it (of course Anna and Elsa were Nina’s favorite part). We left during Holiday Wishes as the rain never ceased and we were tired.

Merida Nina Jill

Monday morning we headed over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As soon as we walked in we saw Daisy Duck, so we waited to meet her (or they did while I watched Star Wars: Path of the Jedi). Next we headed in to see For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration – much less actual Anna and Elsa than I thought, but Nina was entertained. On the way out, Mom saw Pluto who she wanted to meet, so I took Nina and she played on some stone crocodiles she named “Runny” and “Fuzzy” while they waited. We saw Sophia the First had a small line, so we met her next, then it was time for Voyage of The Little Mermaid (cute). Minnie was outside afterwards so everyone else waited for her while I ducked into Star Wars: Launch Bay for a short film and lots of props. We did Toy Story Midway Mania but Nina wasn’t feeling well and we headed back to the resort for lunch.

Nina Kerry Pluto Nancy Jill

She had a slight fever so she got medicine, lots of Disney TV and an early bedtime while Jill and I headed back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. She wanted to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, so we walked with a herd of people to see it. It was quite a spectacle, but the only time we felt overcrowded at Disney World, so we left after about 5 minutes. The other end of the park wasn’t crowded at all so Jill was able to ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Meanwhile I found an empty table outside the Brown Derby and enjoyed a glass of 18 year old Macallan. Of course I followed that up with a hot dog and half a Mickey pretzel with cheese sauce when we saw Fantasmic! to close out our night.

Jill Kerry

Nina was feeling better on Tuesday so it was back to the Magic Kingdom for the Fairytale Dining Lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Decent lunch and Nina was thrilled to meet four more princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, and Jasmine). We saw the Dream Along With Mickey show at the front of the palace then went to Adventureland where I took Nina on The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and up into the Swiss Family Treehouse. Jill waited in line to meet Tiana while we watched the parade, then joined Jill. We did Under the Sea: Journey of The Little Mermaid and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin as we had Fastpass+ for both of those.

Nina Cinderella

We’d tried the carousel on Sunday because both Mom and Nina wanted to go but someone had an accident – this time we were more successful. Then it was time for the most popular attraction currently at Disney World: Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall. So we did and someone loved it. Jill wanted to ride the Seven Dwarves Mine Train, enough she was willing to brave a 70 minute wait with Nina. It was more like 45 minutes and Nina was a trooper (immediately after the ride, she said she wanted to go again), but that was enough for the day. After a rest, we went over to Disney Springs and had dinner at Splitsville, surrounded by bowling lanes and the best meal I’d had so far (a great sushi roll that proved kimchi sauce and wasabi pair remarkably well together). Nina enjoyed her edamame and barely ate anything else.

Jill Nina Kerry

Wednesday the 16th was our day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We started with the Kilimanjaro Safaris (Mom got her hippos), then met the only princess there (Pocahontas) before seeing Finding Nemo: The Musical. We had lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue then rode the Kali River Rapids and got our legs soaked (ponchos only cover our top half). Then we headed over to DinoLand U.S.A. where Nina loved playing in the Boneyard (millions of dollars spent on a theme park, and my child was having a grand time using dirty water to clean off an even dirtier jeep) and Jill finally managed to catch up with ex-coworker Tracey (who also has a 4 year old daughter). Almost everyone rode on the TriceraTop Spin, then Jill and Tracey rode the Primeval Whirl while we played carnival games (I had to cheat a little to help Nina win a pink dinosaur at whack-a-dinosaur after she was so distraught at losing the first game). That evening Jill and I met up with my friend Monica for drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar then we had dinner at Morimoto Asia (their dim sum was so good).

Pocahontas Nina

Thursday we were at Epcot for the earliest morning at the parks for Princess Storybook Dining Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Formerly the home of Anna and Elsa, they had Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, and Ariel (as well as a nice buffet – Nina had 3 helpings of strawberry yogurt). Afterwards we waited for the world showcase to open and met Mulan in China, then walked around the world (playing drums in Morocco and coloring in Italy). Turtle Talk With Crush was a hit, as well as checking out the aquariums. Test Track was supposed to be next, but it broke down (it’s great that the Disney World app sends alerts) and we rode The Seas with Nemo & Friends instead.

Mulan Nina

We had a lunch package at the San Angel Inn (only way to have guaranteed seating at the Candlelight Processional that evening), which was unfortunate as we were still stuffed from breakfast but we all made a valiant effort (Nina’s always happy with quesadillas and guacamole). Spaceship Earth was Nina’s least favorite ride in any park, but she did enjoy Test Track. Then we had to hustle over to the Candlelight Processional, hosted by America Ferrera. It was the dichotomy of Disney: carrying my daughter all the way across Epcot in 85 degree heat so we can watch folks sing Christmas carols. It was good, but Nina’s asthma kicked in. She was happy enough after some medicine and wanted to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus – we called it a night after that.

Nina Santa and Mrs. Claus

Friday was our final day and the first rain since Sunday. Nina wanted to ride the monorail so we went to Epcot so we could ride it to the Magic Kingdom. First was meeting the talking Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater. We had lunch at Casey’s Corner, then I discovered I now have no shame as both Nina and I volunteered to be part of the play at Enchanted Tales with Belle (and Nina ended up playing 2 roles). One more carousel ride and we met Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (although Nina wanted to meet the Stepmother) before we met Cinderella and Rapunzel at Princess Fairytale Hall. Rapunzel was the 13th and final princess on our list – Nina’s main objective at Disney World (and she didn’t want to leave). We stopped to get a silhouette done of Nina and buy clothes.

Kerry Belle

Later we returned to Disney Springs. Jill shopped in the Christmas store, and Nina got to pick out toys in the Lego store and the enormous World of Disney store (we were able to minimize whining all week by promising her she could pick out things on Friday). They headed back to the resort while I went to Splitsville, Bongos Cuban Café, and Wolfgang Puck Express to get takeout. We finished watching Mary Poppins after starting it the night before (Nina’s now a huge fan) and packed up.

Nina Rapunzel

Saturday the 19th we got up at 4:30AM to catch the bus and were at home by noon in our cold house. Was it the smartest thing to go to a 10:30PM showing of Star Wars Episode VII that night? Probably not, but Nina and I had a nap together in the afternoon and I had a soda during the movie. Afterwards I thought it was a good thing I was going to bed so no one can see the stupid grin on my face. George should’ve given up the franchise years ago. Thanks to J.J. (and not just for the lack of lens flares).

Kerry Nina Jill

Christmas week was a bit different since Nina’s school didn’t offer a camp. Monday night we went to see Todd Wright, Scott Simons, Anthony Fiacco, and Luke Brindley at the Jammin Java Songwriters Circle Holiday Edition. I was home with her on Tuesday and Christmas Eve on Thursday, happily the warm weather meant we could go outside and play. After Jill got home Christmas Eve we went to church where Nina was an angel in the little pageant they had.

Nina Jill

Christmas morning Nina slept in ’til 9 so we all did – it was a good thing my mom forgot the fruit she was bringing for breakfast and had to turn around or she might have beat us to the tree. Nina loved her Frozen playset and princess figures she’d picked out at the Disney store. My dad showed up with Justin earlier than I thought, but he and Patricia supervised Justin and Illa’s first meeting while Mom and David watched the Disney vacation DVD I’d made downstairs. Breakfast was cinnamon rolls, hash browns, sausage and fruit while Christmas dinner was ham, turkey breast, roasted potatoes, and asparagus, and I was done.

Saturday was Boxing Day and my second day that week with Nina from waking up to bedtime. It was nonstop Legos ’til 3, then several errands and the big playground (where we saw deer there for the first time). She managed a 3 bandaid boo-boo before bedtime, and unfortunately missed one of my favorite football games of the season (she’s always willing to watch TV). Sunday after church became a big outside playday with all the kids, followed by wine o’clock.


Wednesday the 30th I went out with Ben, Trevor, and some other friends to see The Hateful Eight roadshow. All you need to know about it is that Greg Nicotero‘s name is 2nd in the credits. New Year’s Eve Jill was working late, and Nina and I went over to our neighbors for dinner and Uno (the kids got to play together for a long time). Nina made it to 11PM, then Jill and I watched the ball drop.

Kevin Kerry Nina Felix