School Vacation (and Easter) in Washington D.C.

School vacation and Easter converged upon us this year. The Oppressed has long-expressed a desire to visit Washington D.C. I, of course, could never argue against this interesting proposition.

My youngest daughter and I went to work putting together a loose itinerary for the family. Wife, with a million things to take care of at work, was happy to have someone else deal with the details of the trip. I, with mountains of dishes and laundry to climb, was happy to have the diversion.

We decided to break the journey up into two days. We stopped at a hotel on Friday to eat and rest. On Saturday, we resumed the drive and arrived at what would become our base of operations for the next five days. We arrived at night and took an elevator that kept making weird noises. The elevator door opened and we were able to keep our eyes open long enough to make it to our rooms before collapsing on the bed.

Wait for it…

Easter Sunday Mass

Easter Sunday was spent at the National Basilica. For some reason, I tend to spend Easter away from home. Washington D.C. joins a list of places I’ve celebrated Easter Sunday that includes Tampa and the Netherlands.

Slick, The Oppressed, and I took in the Easter Sunday mass at the National Basillica. I thought there would be a problem getting into such a place on such a day. Luckily, we had no such problems.

We did run into a tiny snafu at the mass. Then again, it wouldn’t be a holiday or a vacation if we didn’t. The Oppressed suffered a minor injury when she accidentally scratched her thumb. It was one of those small cuts that irritate you and don’t stop irritating. We needed to find a restroom and do something about this cut. While we left the service and go downstairs to find a restroom to clean it, I was trying to convince The Oppressed to be brave and strong. I was also hoping for a little Easter miracle where my daughter would be healed.

We find a restroom and my youngest daughter is able to clean her wound. She emerges from the ladies’ room with a wet paper towel pressed against her thumb. We return to the service stealthily as if we had never left. The rest of the mass goes off without a hitch for us.

We went from the Basilica to a local donut shop, where we procured freshly baked donuts for the rest of the family. We enjoy a simple Easter brunch at our hotel room and proceed to our nation’s capital, where we take in the sites that are not closed for the holiday. This includes the Lincoln Memorial. It was imperative to The Oppressed that we visit the particular monument. She learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. She wanted to see where it happened.

The Oppressed is ecstatic about visiting the Lincoln Memorial and insists we call my father. Not call, FaceTime. My father is an avid Civil War fan and has probably read every book written about Abraham Lincoln. We call him and wish him (and my mother) Happy Easter. The Oppressed is excited to be able to share this moment with her grandfather.

What’s for Dinner? Food Trucks!

We see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument. It’s time for dinner. Obviously, we can’t just walk into a restaurant on Easter Sunday. We have enough problems with that with a party of eight on a regular day, let alone a holiday. Lucky for us, there happen to be food trucks on this day. Everyone finds a food truck they like and orders something. We enjoy our non-traditional Easter dinner on the grass. It’s not too cold. The food is good and some of us even get ice cream from one of the trucks after dinner.

Easter Dinner

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A Family’s Amazing Day of Visiting a College

It’s always an exciting weekend with our family, but you know that already. Days are always filled with plans and obligations. It can be a family event, game, or even visiting a college.

Wife and I found ourselves going to college on one particular weekend. Lovie got into college some time ago. We got to see the campus she’ll be calling home when she finishes high school.

Visiting College

It’s been a while since Wife and I have been to a college. We both graduated some time ago. It was interesting to go to a campus and see what college is like with Wi-fi and Uber Eats. Some things have changed. Some things haven’t changed so much.

College campus. We looked around on our own before starting the activities.

We arrived on campus on a beautiful spring afternoon. We negotiated our way through campus to a parking lot and continued through the campus to the activities. I looked around the campus and tried to take it all in. Wife and I explained to her what college was like for us when we were students. We didn’t live on campus, but we felt our time in college, no matter how long ago, could help her as she spoke to different students and faculty members.

We asked questions to get more information for her about life on campus and how they could help her prepare for that big, scary place they call the real world. If you have teenagers, you know what I’m talking about.

I told Wife how I wished I was wearing a tweed jacket. Nothing too flashy, just a little something with nice arm patches. Something that said “Academia” while we leisurely walked around campus. Wife just gave me that weird look she always gives when I have a great idea. I love her, but sometimes she has a difficult time understanding my vision. I think it’s a common problem visionaries share.

Lovie is undeclared for now. We spent some time in the hall where the different majors offered by the college were set up to discuss their major and the benefits they offer to the incoming freshmen and transfer students.

What we saw when Visiting the College

While we walk around seeing what fields of study are available, I notice a prize wheel on the table of the Communications Studies Department. I stop to take a picture to send to a friend of mine, who was my boss at a radio station I worked at in my days before I became a daddy. After taking the picture, I send it to my friend. A lady who is working behind the table sees me and we begin a conversation about the communications industry. I explain to her about my brief stint in radio promotions and how I had forgotten about our gargantuan prize wheel until just now.

While we are speaking, I mention my daughter and how she is looking for an academic home during her time in college. She is excited to hear this and would love the chance to speak to Lovie about the things her department can offer her. I am also introduced to two gentlemen who are professors in the department.

The visit was a nice little homecoming for me. I was able to talk shop with people who work in the field. It was nice to discuss things I had studied in school and methods employed in writing serious news stories before the days of the Homework Wars and serving meals you were sure would be a hit, only to find out it was no good and you should have resorted to chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until you just happen to run into someone with the same interests.

Eating at the Campus Common Area

I thank “J” and “Y” for their time and reconnect with Wife and Lovie. We listen to a talk put on by staff and current students. From there, we go to the dining area where we sample some of the delicious fare Lovie will enjoy as she studies and prepares to make the world a better place. We get in line for me the buffet. I have to say everything looks good except for the cheeseburger pizza.

Cheeseburger pizza. The only blemish on the day.

Wife and I continue to talk about our time in college as we ask Lovie for her thoughts on the school. I talk about the nice people I met during my venturing alone. We get into the car and head home. There is a house full of children waiting for us, and we need to make sure everything, and everyone, is still intact and standing.

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A Father and Daughter Take a Little Day Trip

The Oppressed spent a weekend at my parents one time. It was originally meant as a girls’ weekend with a cousin who was close to her age. Unfortunately, the cousin wasn’t feeling well; so, it was just The Oppressed with her grandparents. It was a great time for her because she was getting the chance to spend time with her grandparents. My parents liked it for the same reason. Wife and I said to each other, “One down, five more to go.”

We met each other halfway between my house and my parents’ house. We had an early dinner together and then parted ways. The Oppressed kept in touch with me and Wife during the weekend, letting me know what they were doing.

We were also making plans for picking her up on Sunday and bringing her home. The Oppressed had been wanting to go to Newbury Comics for a long time, but we hadn’t been able to fit it into our schedule. Sunday seemed like the perfect day to go. We were taking a long drive, anyway. It would allow us to get something to eat, hit Newbury Comics, and talk about the weekend she had at her grandparents’. A road trip seemed like the perfect way to cover all of these things. As usual, things did not turn out as we planned.

Newbury Comics

We left my parents’ house in the middle of the afternoon. It was a Sunday, meaning that stores were going to close early. Needless to say, time was of the essence.

I haven’t lived in the area in a long time, but I still have a good idea of where things are. Still, we were on a schedule, and I didn’t want to waste any time and take the chance of taking too long and getting there after they closed. On top of that, getting to Newbury Comics sooner meant getting something to eat sooner, which meant we could take our time and not worry about having to rush things.

Exterior shot of a strip mall on a cloudy day with cars driving by.
No Newbury Comics.

I used my phone to find the closest store to us. It wasn’t too far from us, which meant my plan was unfolding in grand fashion. I plug the address into my GPS and we begin our first leg of our journey home. During the road trip, we talked about what her mom, her siblings, and I did during the weekend. We talked about the things she did during the weekend. It was a great weekend for her and a great ride for the both of us. While we ride and drive, I tell her to keep an eye open for a place she might like to stop at for dinner.

We see a ray of light shining down upon us as the interior is filled with heavenly sounds of a choir of angels.

The GPS leads us to the parking lot of a strip mall. I must say, I am a little disheartened at what I see, or I should say what I don’t see. There is no Newbury Comics. The Oppressed and I look at each other. It looks like we made this short drive for nothing. I do notice a storefront that may have been a former home to Newbury Comics. I suggest we stop inside and see what’s there.

Inside a store with shelves of books. Vinyl records are on the floor.
Books and music as far as the eye can see. That’s the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” to the left.

We open the doors and what do we see? A ray of light shining down upon us as the interior is filled with heavenly sounds of a choir of angels. We see shelves upon shelves of books against the wall. Not far from the books are DVDs. In the middle of the floor are racks of CDs. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

The Oppressed and I walk around the music section of the store. She is interested in finding something from Queen and something from the Beatles (bless her heart). There are plenty of things to look at, not just in the music section. However, we have other things to do, like find something to eat and get back home where Wife is trapped with five other children. I ask The Oppressed where she would like to eat on this particular afternoon. She and I both noticed we passed a certain place not far from where we ended up purchasing our CDs. I’m not going to tell you the name of the place. You’ll find out why as we go along.

What’s for Dinner

The Oppressed and I agree to check out this particular place. I remind her that there are other places nearby for dining out, and we can even continue our road trip home and continue to look for another place to eat. This nice place appears to pass inspection with her, and we decide to enter and dine.

A tween girl looking back at a mounted flatscreen showing an NHL hockey game.
Dinner and hockey. The day keeps getting better.

There is a nice man who greets us upon entering. I’m going to call him “Rick”. Rick pulls two menus and leads us to our table. Upon sitting, we order drinks. Rick leaves to get our drinks. The Oppressed and I continue to talk about the weekend. There are plenty of things on the menu that look good and we’re both hungry. We start with an appetizer and continue to look at the entrées. A little more chatting. Soon, Rick returns with our appetizer, and we place our orders for dinner.

A tween girl posing with her wrap and french fries.
Ready to eat dinner.

Dinner is finished, and we both need to use the restroom before leaving. We’re both in the restroom for a long time. We’re discussing this as we walk back to the car.

“Good Lord,” I said. “What did I eat?”

“I don’t know,” The Oppressed answers, “But I had the same thing happen to me.”

“I was not well.”

The Oppressed said, “I think they gave us food poisoning.”

And now you see why I didn’t want to tell you the specific name of where we ate. I assure my daughter we didn’t have food poisoning. We slide one of the new CDs into the stereo (Queen) and begin the final leg of our road trip home. Due to the detour to the store and the restaurant, we are taking a different route home then we usually take from my parents’ house. That’s alright, though. I don’t mind it, and neither does she.

Back Home

We get home just in time. Our tummies are hurting again. We go inside, say a quick, “hello” to Wife and the children, and race against time and our stomachs to the bathroom again. We both emerge from our respective bathrooms (I am continually thankful for having more than one bathroom in our home, and I don’t know how families survive in houses with just one bathroom.) and see Wife, who is in our room. She asks us about our day together. We tell her about everything we did.

We tell her about the road trip, about my parents and how they are, and we tell her about our shopping excursion, Queen, the Beatles, and dinner. Wife asks about dinner, considering we ran in different directions looking for a bathroom as soon as we walked in the house. I’m reminded of another time I had with The Oppressed and The Boy. On that day, the meal happened to be the highlight. You can read about that day here.

“Dad and I have food poisoning from the restaurant,” The Oppressed tells her.

I explain to Wife that we don’t have food poisoning. The Oppressed respectfully disagrees. We didn’t have any incidents after that evening, but my daughter has still reminded me that we got food poisoning from that restaurant. I have tried to explain otherwise, but have you ever tried to explain something to your kid?

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Boys Throwing a ball, and Boys Catching a Ball.

“Better teach this kid some control before he kills somebody.”

Major League

Trees are budding. The snow has melted. The calendar has turned another page. It is now April, and that means it’s time for baseball season.

I have made the transition from player to coach, and, in my humble, unsolicited opinion, I think I’ve made a rather successful transition from student to teacher. There are a number of players who have been under my tutelage, and I would like to think they have honed their skills, developed new ones, and found a new appreciation for the game I love. Of course, none of these children who have found a new love for the game are living in the same house as me, but there are children out there who appreciate my efforts.

Slugger has found an appreciation for our National Pastime. He played a year for his school, and he likes watching baseball games on television. The family has gone to a couple of Red Sox games. He told us at the very beginning he is a New York Yankees fan, but we still love him.

Boys Playing Catch

Both Slugger and Slick can be found in the backyard playing catch in the spring and summer. It does my heart good to see the boys out there during the day. Of course, they’re teenage boys, and they really don’t have much regard for form or easing into things. Baseball novices and sages alike know that when you get ready for a game or practice, you loosen up like you do in all sports. My last baseball manager, Coach Donahue, called it, “Loosening up the soup bones”.

For these boys, showing their strength and superiority is more important than getting loose and avoiding an injury. Instead of easing into a friendly game of long-toss, Dizzy and Daffy would rather pump their arms, rear back, and see how hard they can throw and how fast the ball can reach the other. This usually results in a bit of “Olé” on the part of the boy who is supposed to catch the ball.

It’s Catch. Who Needs Advice?

I haven’t played baseball in a while. Actually, it’s been decades since I last played organized baseball. However, I do know a few things about the game, things I knew even before I started coaching kids. These are things that are considered to be basic and fundamental, like not needing to throw a ball as hard as you can if the person is only a few feet away from you. Or keeping your glove in front of you to protect you from the oncoming throw. Things you learn in the backyard when you start playing catch, let alone play an actual game of baseball.

But, hey! What do I know? Not much, obviously. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and J.D. Martinez have everything figured out and they don’t need any advice on what they’re doing or should be doing. The boys continue to throw as hard as they can. One of the baseball brainiacs throws the ball and the other gets out of the way.

Olé!

The baseball hits the fence and takes out a piece of the panel. They look at each other, then one leaves the yard and goes next door to retrieve the ball that ended up on the other side of the fence. He returns to the yard, and they continue their game of catch. I refrain from any further advice and let the boys proceed as they were.

The result of an errant throw.