05/29/16

The Blog Is Back

We have had some hardware issues with the machine running the blog. I have swapped out bad hardware and have restored the blog back to the latest version. Enjoy!

02/8/16

The Red Centre

Uluru (aka Ayer's Rock)

Uluru (aka Ayer’s Rock)

We got our Austrailian adventure kick started with a trip to the Red Centre. This is a vast arrid landscape with two land formations that are stark in contrast to the surrounding area. The first is Kata Tjuta and the other is Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock. Both sites are very spiritual to the native Australian people. Uluru had a significant meaning for me, and the only reason I knew about it, was because it was described in a book I read when I was twelve (Atlas of Mysterious Places). The area around Uluru was covered with a red sand, the same color as the rock itself, for which the region has it’s name.

The science lesson on Uluru:

The 300 million-year-old rock is comprised of sand, feldspar (various crystalline minerals) and rock, and originally hailed from a sea floor. A large chunk is above ground today (348m), and the flat top and grooved sides are a result of weathering.

We took a short hike with the kids at the base of the rock. It was a pretty spectacular experience, despite the 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature (yes it was pretty warm, after all it is summer down here) and the flies that surrounded our faces almost the entire time. With the kids, we got a good dose of how disconcerted they were with the flies, and they pretty much wanted to go back to the hotel after the first 100 ft., but like the troopers they are they made the entire hike.

Also, as part of Uluru expereince, we made it out to the eastward lookout to watch the sunset. It was breath taking.

The trip to Uluru was the type of expereince that makes trips like this worth its weight in gold. We, as a family, are able to experience not only things we don’t see every day, but some of the absolute wonders that exist in the world, and how grateful we are to expereince them

12/15/15

Who Is That Kid?

It was passport picture time for Harlan and an amazing thing happened. He took a pretty phenomenal picture. So phenomenal that AJ talked about getting him setup to be a child model (all in jest mind you). But judge for yourself, definitely one of the best passport photos I have ever seen.

harlan-passport zoolander-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kneel before Harlan’s Blue Lightning Zoolander!

12/7/15

Christmas Cookies 2015

Growing up, it was a family tradition to make and decorate sugar cookies. It was a tradition that to this day is a wonderful Christmas memory from when I was a kid. I can’t hear the Bing Crosby or Wayne Newton Christmas albums without remembering the sugar cookies.

As a dad, this was a tradition I definitely wanted to continue, and this year Cora is old enough to really help. She was in charge of sprinkles and added her own panache to the cookies.

The first step is to break out the cookie cutters and start making some cookies.

xmas cookies 01

The next step is to decorate the cookies with homemade buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Cora has turned out to be a prolific user of sprinkles. To the point that I referred to her as “Sprinkles”. She promptly said “I’m not Sprinkles, I’m Cora!”

xmas cookies 02

The fruits of our labors! AJ also helped with the more artistic cookies, but all of the color is Cora’s.

xmas cookies 03

It was a great time, and a fantastic continuation of a family tradition that I have had for as long as I can remember.

12/6/15

Cora’s Masterpiece…Just the Beginning

cora masterpiece 01This was a piece of art that Cora came home from school with. This was an amazing picture that she came up with all by herself. In Cora’s words….

“This is my family, Mama is in the middle, then (top to bottom on the left) Daddy, my brother (I made him a little small because he is so small), then me, and alien on the bottom. (Top-right) Those are jack-o-lanterns and the sun (top-left corner).”

Some of the art is a reflection of Creative Galaxy, which is a show that she has been watching. On Harlan and Cora, in the picture, you can see elements of pointillism which was from one of her favorite episodes.

Cora has definitely loved to draw and it is great to see her really starting to express it.

03/11/15

The Table is FINISHED!!!!!

table_02

table_01

 

It definitely took longer than expected (2 years), but the table is finished. It originally started as a train table for the kids, but it turned out to be a really nice piece of furniture, and is contending for the nicest in the house. I think the table will be a general purpose table that the kids can play on as they see fit and there will not be any restrictions on what they want to do on it (That is why there is a pretty thick layer of polyurethane all over the table). It looks great and I hope the kids use it as a nice play surface for legos, trains, coloring, painting, or whatever their imaginations can think of.

Here was the original Sketchup drawing of the table two years ago. It turned out to be pretty close.

cora train table web formatted

11/1/14

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.

 

 

05/22/14

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.

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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.

CatchingFish

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.

 

05/20/14

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.

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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.