Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in MN...

We drove up to Austin to share Christmas with Kim's family. With Kim's brother coming up from Texas and us coming from IL, this was the first Christmas Kim's folks had all the kids together since Kim's sister Pam passed almost two years ago. Needless to say a very important time for the family. The drive up was uneventful until we got off the highway into Austin. The amount of snow on the ground was staggering. I now know why the Dome collapsed. Plow drifts of 6 feet+ covered the entire city. Here's a shot of a car from Paul & Carole's sidewalk.

Not much to do with Christmas but the snow sure was impressive.
Everyone was so excited to see each other. Paul broke out some shrimp cocktail and the party began. So many people to talk to it was hard to know where to begin. I guess the biggest deal was that Kim's brother Eric brought a very sweet girl named Sarah up from TX.

She fit in just fine and I don't think we scared her too bad. Carole crushed the tip of her finger in the kitchen and Sarah stepped in with an extra pair of hands to help with all the food prep. The front door opens and in walks our nephew Derek, fresh from Afghanistan in a crisp Marine uniform. The young kid has already made it through an IED incident and we sure were glad to be able to have him around for a few days.
Some presents and then time for midnight Mass. We took up an entire pew and still had one left over. The choir presented about a half an hour of music before the service started and you sure could tell how hard they worked to get ready for it...well done. Back home for a few more laughs and one by one, people started heading off to bed.
Christmas morning comes and slowly the house came to life. The first thing I noticed was the smell of fresh coffee. There's something about that smell that evokes a sense of peace and calm, a nice way to start the morning. Surrounded by family, food and laughs is one heck of a way to spend a holiday.
Kim's mom sets a beautiful table and with so many of us this year we had to move the furniture to make room for all the tables. What a fantastic problem to have.

Kim's dad kept disappearing to lovingly baste the ham that he's pretty dang famous for. The smell of everything coming out Carole's kitchen was planting the seeds of desire to overindulge. The time came for Paul to carve the ham. I sensed he needed some help so I quietly followed Kim's brother Eric and Paul to the sacred shrine of pork to carve that bad boy. The gleam in Paul's eye was almost blinding as he carved a small sample for both Eric and myself...with approving nods and grunts the ham was carved and we all took our places at the table. All the effort put in to this meal did not go unnoticed,
I can't imagine a better compliment for Carole and Paul than to have the whole family that can't seem to shut up at all, quietly cramming all the deliciousness we can muster into our faces. Well done folks...well done.
One devious thing Sarah helped Eric and I do was pick out a house of ill repute...huh?
Kim's mom has an amazing Dickens Christmas village collection.

She spends hours setting it up for us all to enjoy and we really do. On a run to the store we found a super cheap house with a gleaming red light to add to her city. I figured she wouldn't notice it until she was putting it away for the season. She sat on the couch and glanced over to the village, it took all of 15 seconds or so before she exclaimed "What is THAT?" I tell ya, the woman knows her village.
With the dishes done, the stories told and the memories shared, once again, we all slowly drifted off to bed.

The next day with a few tears shed we made our way back to Illinois to mark Christmas 2010 as one of the best we've had.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yet more kid pics...

It was a good sleep over with the girls. I had a pro level camera for another shoot and thought I'd try and get a few pics of the girls.
The following are my favs...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kids Video

Music by Uncle Daddy and Caitlin Coffelt

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Funday!

The girls spend Monday's here while Laura is in school. Today, Kim had a full day's activities planned and I just hung on for the ride.
First on the agenda? Tree Trimming!

On to sewing with Meema time!
Kim let them pick some fabric out and made them quick bags...

Then some craft time...

No compound in any of our carpets so it's a win!
What a great day...

Meema is still going...Papa needs a beer.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Perhaps one of the finest beers I have had...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Groped in San Antonio...

Yup, you read that right.

The San Antonio airport opened a new terminal on the day I had a flight home. Outfitted with the latest equipment in the war on terrorism, the TSA's were ready to do battle. Along comes "Dangerous Doug" (that's me) ready to fly home. I fly quite often and have a system of taking everything I have on me and putting it in my computer bag. All I carry on me going through the metal detector is my drivers license and my boarding pass. I never get stopped, never. This day however? Quite a different story. I stood in the new fancy x-ray machine and held my arms up just like the picture in the machine told me to and for some reason, I "triggered an alert" I was then asked to stand on a mat with two foot prints on it. I complied and was then told I needed to submit to a physical search. I was taken in a small room with two TSA men in it to get my search. I was then warned that I was going to get a complete body hand search. Torso, arms, legs, rear end, crotch, hands run all the way around my waste, inside my pants. By the time the search was ending, I was pretty angry. I got a little smart and told them they could at least buy me dinner before they get in my pants...dumb I know but I was not thrilled with having the only metal on me being my fillings and I still get targeted. Here's the kicker. On the way down to Texas, I go into my backpack on the plane to get my iPod and what do I see? my 4.5 inch folding knife and a 7 inch Phillips screw driver...nice job TSA's.
If it happens again, I'll assume it's because I'm big. We'll see...

Okay, I have now seen many reports on the unconfirmed safeness of the x-ray machines.
I will now refuse to use them which is a 100% grope session. It will be up to me to get creative on what they find on me...heck we all know I'm no stranger to women's under ware and such. I may just wear a bra also and give the TSA's something to talk about on their coffee breaks.
Stay tuned!

*Edit II Feb.7*

Opted out of the x-ray machine on another flight.
This time I got frisked in public. That made all the difference in the world.
I was totally okay with it. Maybe being taken into a locked room was the difference?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November status...

I walked around in the back yard today and saw all the gardens put to bed. I saw the
four month supply of wood stacked and ready to burn to keep us warm. November can be a dark, cold, gray skies and no snow. Being a transition month it can be tough to get out of Summer mode and prepare for Winter. Kim is in the air now leading a group of 146 to Egypt and Israel and I leave Saturday for a 5 day show in San Antonio. Does this mean work is getting better? It just may. The production company I have been doing some work for has me booked for work out through February with shows in pencil beyond that.
I am down to 10 days at the bar for this month and I am thrilled.
My parents are getting older every day. Yes, they have been doing that for a long time but Mom is slipping a bit. Oldest sister Donna has stepped in to help organize doctor visits and such and I know it's frustrating her but I'm glad she's here.

We'll see what the future holds...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another cool opportunity...

Through Face Book, I have reconnected with a high school alum who is a photographer.
I went to her studio for a quick test shoot. I am going to use the studio for a model shoot with one of the servers from Palmers.
Here's a demo of the quality that can be attained if you have the right gear.
With about five minutes of prep, I saw all I needed to see.
Stay tuned for future pictures...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A good gig...

With the production company I am working for here and there, I have to make some concessions. They have some of the best AV guys in the biz and there's no way I can compete with them, they really are amazing guys. When I am on these shows. I am a basic stage hand building sets and jumping in where needed, then run cameras for the shows. This show in Park City UT was a wee bit different. After building sets, my job was as a still camera guy. I just ran around documenting as much of the events as I could. I shot around 1100 pictures but one of the coolest things was shooting individual shots with Tom Brokaw and the various company execs and clients. After the shoot I asked if I could take my picture with him and he was more than gracious.

Here are a few more samples of this weeks job...

Waiting on a flight back home and grateful for the opportunity to spend a few days shooting and getting paid for it. More about Park City in a few.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

La France Cafe and Crepes...

One thing both Kim and myself love is to see people passionate about what they do.
Be it the visual or audible arts, agriculture or a profession, we try our hardest to support that passion.
Moroccan born, French ex pat, Chef Ben is one of those people that just gets it.
A classic French trained Chef, Ben has opened a cafe right here in Lombard.
I challenge you to find a better breakfast. The crepes are tender and filled with the freshest ingredients. Sweet or savory, we have not been disappointed.
Kim and myself have fallen in love not only with his food but his genuine love of life.