All Hallows Eve 2014

Never get the hang of stopping for a picture in our costumes before the craziness that is trick or treating with small children. Here we are in the crowded bustle of Columbia City in Seattle during the Halloween business walk, or whatever it was called. It was too many people in a small space getting candy from… not their neighbors. We did that for about 45 min then made our way to dinner.

The first one here was sadly the only picture we got of all of us.

After we got home, our new street had lots of candy givers and takers about. Made me want to join. So we got our costumes back in order and headed out to meet some more neighbors and trick or treat door to door. Once that was accomplished, I felt as if Halloween had been adequately observed.




Family Gatherings While on the Road

When we thought about our trip, it really was a tale of three trips. The first was a lot of sightseeing in large urban centers such as New York, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. This was in addition to the other sites we visited such as Cooperstown, Gettysburg, Shanksville (site of the United Flight 93 9/11 Memorial) and Niagara Falls. The second was visiting family. We were fortunate enough to be in an area where we had a lot of family. In Washington D.C. we visited Brie, sister, aunt, and sister-in-law and my oldest cousin, Don May, who works in a gorgeous office in the middle D.C.


After the big push for seeing the sights, we went to West Virginia and visited my father’s family. My parents came up to West Virginia to visit while we were there. We had four generations of the Beard family under one roof. My aunt and uncle, Jill and Rick Turner, hosted us in Hurricane, West Virginia while we visited. It was great to have the family together. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother visited, and I am always happy to show off my children. No one had met Harlan yet, so it was great to make the introduction.

In addition, I decided to use the fishing rod I had been carrying since we left Seattle and managed to catch 12 fish in the creek behind the house. These weren’t big game fish (small mouth bass, sun fish, and another type of fish referred to as a creek chub), but it was fun to catch them with a dry fly.


After West Virginia, we went to Frankfort, Ohio and visited my uncle and god-father Gary May. I enjoyed seeing his house without all of the ice and snow I was used to seeing. Typically, trips to Frankfort have been at Christmas, so I haven’t seen the full trees or even a thawed pond. It was great visit, but it was a shame that my cousin Susie was unable to join us.

The final stop in seeing family was to visit AJ’s uncle Chris and his wife Joanne in Cridersville, Ohio. On our way to Cridersville, Google maps got confused and directed us in a round-a-bout way around Dayton, and as a result allowed us to avoid a potentially dangerous situation with tornadoes.

Also, before we made it to Cridersville, we stopped in to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. We didn’t realize how many astronauts have come from Ohio, and the museum a was small but very fun stop. Cora managed to crash the space shuttle quite spectacularly multiple times.

In Cridersville, we visited with Chris and Joanne and had a great stop, in addition to some real good food. Ahhh, Texas style grilling and barbecue (and old school drank!). When we left Cridersville, we were excited and anxious to get to Chicago and get in the RV.

It was a real and rare treat to be able to see so much family with the kids.



Kansas City, MO

The trip to Kansas City was the final stop to complete the baseball part of the trip. There, we went to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame and Museum. As we approached Kansas City, I also remembered that barbecue (real barbecue) was a bit of specialty in Kansas City, and we decided to put it to the ‘Pepsi challenge’ with Texas barbecue.

It just so happened that Arthur Bryant’s, a world famous barbecue joint, was four blocks from the museum, so I said bring it on … and they brought it. Not only did they give us a ridiculous amount of food – the sandwich I got had enough brisket for three meals -but the food was delicious. Put simply, it was spectacular and melted in our mouths.  We also had cole slaw, baked beans, and French fries. Also in insane quantities. The one point of displeasure was with the sauce. I have long believed that truly good barbecue, doesn’t require sauce, and they put a lot of sauce on their meat. However, I did have some that escaped the deluge of sauce and it held its own against Texas barbecue. Since I get barbecue of that quality so infrequently, it was heavenly.


The Negro Leagues Hall of Fame and Museum was incredible. It had examples of how professional baseball has flourished outside of Major League Baseball. It also showed how the Negro League was just as much of a cultural icon of the black community as the MLB had been for the white community. In addition, the Negro Leagues had some of the best players to ever play the game. The main room was an incredible site. It had life-size bronze statues of the most renowned players at their position and art by Kadir Nelson. Unfortunately, we had the camera settings all wrong for the lighting, so not many pictures came out.

In addition, we happened to visit during an event with several former Negro League players there to tell stories and sign autographs. I managed to get all of their autographs across two Negro League Museum baseballs. A bulk of the former players were from the Kansas City Monarchs. I will update this post when I get the names straightened out. A great visit, and I only wish we had more time to go through all the information on display.


Wide Open Road

We’ve reached the portion of our trip we’ve really been waiting for: RV time. This part is a welcome change of pace from the first two segments, while they were very enjoyable, it was hectic sightseeing in city after city, hopping from hotel to hotel, and jumping from one family member’s house to another. It was a new bed almost every night and hauling too much stuff from place to place. Kids do that to you. If you didn’t know, having the arsenal packed with items to calm, cajole and fill bellies takes up a lot of space.
The first night in the RV tried to prepare us for the worst. We got a later start than we had hoped, and thought we could get out of Target to stock the RV kitchen and bathroom faster than was realistic. Provisioning for a one way RV trip is a lot like moving out of your parent’s house your freshman year of college.
Pro tip: if you want to avoid the sticker shock of buying much stuff, find a goodwill or value village in your pick up city and buy the stuff you may not plan to use again.
Heavy traffic, bad weather, screaming kids, a soggy, leaning RV site did not reassure us we had made the right decision for the sabbatical.

But as I write this, the weather is clear, we made one simple beautiful stop, the kids are down to bed on time, the dishes are done and I’m enjoying a cold beverage with my honey on the ‘porch’ in a bumpin’ RV park on MO. This is livin’!


Cora – Some Snippets

It’s hard to get to the blog these days but I would like to note some tidbits of Cora’s personality and life that I think are hilarious, endearing, goofy, you name it. She’s in the tantrum throwing phase and that comes with its own share of wild mood swings and histrionics. Some of my favorites include the full body wet noodle manuever including foot stomping, which really just becomes this crazy flailing that usually lands her smacking her head on something. Also part of the tantrum throwing is the huge dramatic crying which involves both hands going to her wide open mouth and throwing her head down as if the world was going to end. It’s hard not to laugh when she does these things, but they are really not that effective at getting what she wants from us either way!

On a lighter note, she snorts a LOT when she’s having a real good time, I’ve tried to catch it on video with no success, usually because I too am laughing along with her. She looooooves talking on the phone to someone, anyone. Auntie was kind enough to give her an old cell phone of hers that has a keyboard, which are a favorite. Cora can text better than I can on that thing.

A real favorite is when she starts to get a little too loud, BUT before we even ask her to be quiet, she will put a finger to her lips and go SHHHHH! loudly of course.



Putting Biscuits in the Tabletop

I got all of the biscuits in the tabletop for putting the whole thing together. It was amazing to see the wood seam dissappear after applying the glue and tightening the clamps. My one gripe is that the biscuit machine (plate joiner) is made for right handed people. Because of the way the dust collection works, when I would make a cut and then get sprayed with wood chips and saw dust. Small price to pay to see the table come together though.


Work on the Play Table commences

I have begun the work on the table  and have finished the initial machining of the table top. Right now it looks REALLY big, but it will be cut down to 36″ x 48″ and will be a little more manageable. The grain on the wood is gorgeous and I am struggling with the idea of painting over it. We’ll see how that goes when the table is done.


My First Woodworking Project

Well, the woodworking bug has bitten me and thanks to the woodworking class that AJ got me for Christmas, I am taking on an ambitious project. I am going to build Cora a play table. I have already selected the material and it is American Red Oak. I know, I know, solid oak furniture for a 1 year old. I have also learned how to use Google Sketchup. This is quite a program and has been useful in designing the table. Below is the image of the table to date. In case you are wondering, the white cylinder is a roll of butcher paper for coloring. As I go down the path of building the table, I will be posting additional pictures showing the progress of the table. As a side note, I am going to take the Sketchup image to a place here in Seattle to get it 3D printed. That should be interesting and give some exposure to using a 3D printer.


The Bench Is Done!

A couple months ago I dedcided that the reason that I never get as far on some of my personal projects because I just didn’t have a space to work on them. After talking with AJ, I bought a table saw, talked to my Dad and set out to build a workbench. I found the plans for what looked to be a simple workbench made from 2x4s and the plans even said it would take a weekend. Well a weekend turned in to a couple of months, because the author probably didn’t have a 1 year old at home, had a complete array of tools, and had a good idea of what he was doing. Unfortunately, I had to work within the constraints of all three, but I finally finished the bench, and it looks great. It has as many flaws as I do, which is more than I care to admit, but it will be a great area to work on family and personal projects. Below are some pictures of when the bench was finished and after it was put in to “service”.


Welcome to the American League :(

Most people who know me, know that I have very strong feelings about the differences between the National League and American League baseball. I like to say I was born and raised in the National League, and one thing I can say is that I will always root for the National League. The current changes to baseball involve the Houston Astros moving to the American League West Division. (It makes absolutely no sense that they would be moved to the same division as the Texas Rangers, but it would be a long post at some other time to talk about Bud Selig as the commissioner). The Astros move presents a big dillema for me. I have been a fan of the Astros for over 30 years, and in that entire time, they have been a National League team, no problem. As of 2013, they will be an American League team and I have found myself at the crossroads of maintaining loyalty for a team I have been a fan of for so long, and the strong, almost religious, beliefs I have about National League baseball.

In the end, I found a compromise which works for me. I cannot simply stop supporting the Astros – period. I will continue to cheer for them as they rebuild in to an American League team. When it comes to the World Series, I will root for the American League, and I can’t reiterate this enough, IF AND ONLY IF the Astros are the American league representative. Otherwise, the National League will still be my favorite, and I will still crack jokes about how American league baseball is akin to little league.

To show my support for the Astros, I have already started wearing the new logo ( an on-field fitted hat of course), which I think is awesome. It is reminiscent of the 80’s logo. In fact. I think the whole new look will be like throw back every night, except for the rainbow, which I will not miss.

For those who understand or feel strongly about baseball, you will understand the level of debate I had with myself and how hard this decision really was. At the end of the day baseball is baseball, and it’s a great sport to play and watch from the little leagues to the major leagues.