Sunday, August 13, 2017

Make Good Choices

Dear Jack,
The days leading up to your departure for college were full of “lasts.” The last family dinner night, the last snuggle with Tatum, last round of golf with dad, last big hug for mom—all these activities took on a special significance when they became the last time you would do them before you left for R-MC. 
Now come the “firsts,” such as stepping into your dorm room for the first time, first meal on campus, first friends, first day of football camp. There are firsts for us too—the first time pulling back into the driveway without you was a hard one for sure. Then there was the first text and first picture from you reassuring us that you are going to be OK.
Before we left, I told you, as I often do, “Make good choices. I love you.” This isn’t the first or last time you will hear that. But on the car ride home, I thought about what those words mean to me, and what I hope they mean to you.  So, here is the expanded version--
1.      Choose to be kind to everyone.

2.      Choose to be a leader. Use your gifts, talents and strengths to make a positive impact.

3.      Choose to set high standards for yourself. Never miss a class. Never miss a practice.

4.      Choose to study. Be curious about the world.

5.      Choose to connect with God.

6.      Choose to own up to and take responsibility for your mistakes.

7.      Choose your friends wisely. You are who you hang around. Choose friends who also make good choices.

8.      Choose to stay healthy and active. Make time to exercise. Say no to drugs.

9.      Choose to reframe problems as challenges and lessons.

10. Choose to be thankful.
The choices you make during your first 30 days of college will set the tone for the next four years. Being thoughtful about starting with good habits makes it easier to maintain good habits. 
We miss you already, but we are excited about the new opportunities that college will offer you. We look forward to seeing you grow and learn and continue to mature into a young adult. We are so proud of you!
First day in dorm room

First day of filming

First text to make Mom very happy

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Walking Adventure to a Pirate Ship

"Part 1: Start near Nationals Park..." We haven't even officially started our walking adventure and we have our first problem. We can't find the start. Well, we walked to Nationals Park from the Metro with no problem. But now we are standing in front of a very large baseball stadium wondering where the "wide waterfront boardwalk" is.

We wander off in one direction, only to see a busy highway and shady-looking liquor store. Nope. Directionally challenged adventurers need more specific guidance than what we've been given. Luckily the article guides us to pick up ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee, so I enter in the address on my GPS and we are back on track, winding our way through Yards Park to our pre-riverwalk treat.
I've been coming to Nationals games for years but had never taken the time to explore Yards Park, which includes dancing fountains, a dog park, lots of restaurants, and this canal basin waterwall area--a very popular destination for happy, splashing toddlers on our hot August day.

The ice cream did not disappoint. After sampling several flavors, Katherine chose mint and I selected a honey lavender. Properly energized and properly oriented, we were off to find Kingman Island via the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

Back in May when we were overwhelmed with everything school related, I pulled an article out of The Washington Post's weekend section with a guide to "D.C.'s best urban rambles." When I travel, I love to experience as many local flavors and activities as I can fit into my vacation, yet I don't often enough take advantage of the "tourist location" that I call home. The idea of exploring our city on foot appealed to me, and some of the routes were places I've never been. Katherine and I chose this 4.5 mile jaunt written up by Fritz Hahn and Harrison Smith to explore first.
 Following the directions from the newspaper, we made our way into the Navy Yard and found the Vietnam-era Swift Boat, then continued on to the 11th Street Local Bridge. Katherine and I did stop briefly at the observation area, but we didn't find the views as stunningly panoramic as the author had mentioned. There are definitely cool photo opportunities but there is also quite a bit of construction and trash to be seen.

After crossing to the eastern side of the river, we began walking on a wide paved path toward the island. We walked, and walked some more but no island. It was hot and my backpack was making me sticky and sweaty. Where was the island?
 I began to have a sinking suspicion...was the 4.5 mile trek ONE WAY?
"Part 2: Once you're on the eastern side of the river, keep hiking upstream. The path next to the water is wide and grassy, passing a playground with giant pirate ships..."
We found the pirate ship. While Katherine climbed around, I tried looking up the remaining distance to Kingman Island and it appeared we had another mile to go. When the article described the trip as 4.5 miles, it hadn't even occurred to me that it was a one way trip. We decided lunch was a more appealing option than a 9 mile hike, so we turned around and headed back to find the restaurant suggestion, 100 Montaditos. 

If you don't know (because we didn't), a montadito is a small baguette sandwich and 100 Montaditos offers "Dollarmania Wednesdays" where many of their menu offerings can be enjoyed for just a buck. Between the two of us, we ordered 5 montaditos and a beverage and our lunch was $7 and some change. As we ate, we talked about the pros and cons of trying to follow the directions in the article.

Pros: a newly explored area of DC, great restaurant recommendations, fun mother/daughter morning together. Cons: vague directions were sometimes tricky to follow, distance was misleading (Fritz, how did you get back from the island? Uber?), and we felt like the adventure was a bit oversold. ("Stunning panoramic"--really?)

All told, I was happy to get out of my comfort zone, spend some quality time with my teenage daughter, and try something off the beaten path. And I know the trip was a success because on the metro ride home, Katherine pulled the folded article out of the backpack. She pressed to smooth the creases, scanned it over and asked, "Where do you think we should go next?"

Link to article published online May 11:
These routes are made for walking