BTFF (Back To the Future Friday): Christchurch, New Zealand circa 1989

I'm resuming my story about my trip to New Zealand in 1989, as a Lion's Club Int. exchange student.

To
here, here and here.

My first of three two-week home stays was with a family on the South Island. They lived in Christchurch, one of the biggest cities on the South Island. They had a daughter the same age as me. It
was quite strange, she had stopped going to school but went back for a few days just so I could go with her and see what her school was like.

I haven't kept in touch with her, but I wonder what she is doing with her life. Back in 1989 she was looking forward to being on "the dole" (their public welfare system). Quite strange actually, because her Mum was a Kindergarten teacher...so you would have thought that they would have been more insistent on her finishing school.....whatever!

One of the things I loved about Christchurch was the
Gothic architecture. I had never seen buildings in this style before, and I was just fascinated. There are many buildings like Christchurch Cathedral that can be found in Cathedral Square. I got a little snap-happy there. You can see more of these photos on my flickr page.

One of the things I did while in Christchurch, was go to Akaroa and take a Harbor Cruise. You can watch a quick video clip on this web page of the cruise I took.

A couple of other fun adventures I had (besides getting drunk for the first time) were going to a Gothic graveyard, seeing a giant hunk of jade and meeting the Christchurch Chief of Police. The Chief even let me take over for him for a few minutes! Now isn't that scarry??!!

* I had six entrants into the Photo Contest #1, tomorrow I'll post the winner, links to everyone who participated and topic for April's Photo Contest.

New Eyewear & SPF

AWWW! Head rush! I just gave myself an Imitrex shot! I will be feeling perfect by the time I hit publish and view blog!

This is my new eyewear. Long story....and I'm not too good at making long stories short but here goes it:
I had a pair of glasses, they were cool, but not this cool. Right after I got them I started falling asleep in them. Sometimes my husband would wake me up in the middle of the night and make me take them off, other times I would just wake up in them. Why would I do that in brand new glasses? Because I was on some serious perscription drugs and I would conk out without warning, so I would lay in bed w/ my glasses on watching t.v. and next thing you know, I woke up hours later with glasses on! I busted one of the lenses in half. I could wear them at first they just had a small crack in them, and I even wore them when the crack got worse and worse, but finally they just got too hideous to wear.

Fortunately I was off all those hard-core meds and was able to start wearing my contacts again. That's where you met me. Happy-functioning-cognitively-sound and contact-wearing. Well, its allergy season and I have to be prepared to take my contacts out and wear my specs. But the back-up pair I have are from 1994-96 and are so butt ugly that it freaks my kids out. How could I go in public like that? Can't use my insurance to get new contacts until Oct., but w/ these expensive puppies it may be a lot longer than that!!

I just "stumbled" into these. Went to an old eye-Dr.'s office and the Versace rep was there. They don't usually carry these and they had a coupon in a book that cost $.50 for 1/2 off the frames. I never could have gotten these otherwise. My eyes are so bad so I have to get thinner lenses, etc. which = big bucks! And, since I'm wearing these in the summer and can't wear sunglasses I had transition lenses put in them. So.....it may be a long time before I can go get contacts again. That's how I justified my "splurge!"


T-S-E took this photo of me when we got home. I edited it, but he took the shot at an angle. I really am proud of that 5 year-old when he does stuff like that!

Today is Friday and I just had to participate in
Kristine's SPF again.

First off is my washer and dreyer. Good thing I cleaned my laundry room the other day, unfortunately I only do it about 4
times a year. It really pisses Papa D off, but I just pile stuff up on them. Anyway, I probably wouldn't have particiated today and shown you their ugliness, but I lucked out!

Next is my bathrobe. It was at the very back of my closet. The last clothing item. The clothes I have on underneath my bathrobe here is what I wear. If I get cold, I put on a sweatshirt. I only take the bathrobe if I go on vacation or have company over. I'm just not a bathrobe person. I guess because it is so chilly in the Pacific Northwest, if I'm cold, I need more clothes than a bathrobe!! (Another photo taken by my in-house personal photographer!)

The last picture for SPF is a flower. I just love dafflodils (that's what Meyers D called them when she was 1 year-old). I took this picture this morning afte I picked up my new eyewear. The color was shitty in the photo so I jazzed it up with some special effects. I really need a new camera!!

*Head rush is gone, but still waiting for head to feel "perfect," hope this isn't an omen. Oh well, I have had MUCH WORSE, A THOUSAND TIMES WORSE!!



Warning! This is your last warning! Look at your clock, you have until the stroke of midnight my time (PST) to post your photo on your blog, link to mine, send me an e-mail to enter your Favorite Photo of your Child in the CameraDawktor's FIRST EVER CONTEST (#1).

Come on now, don't give me some lameass excuse like you forgot or you are too busy. Let's have a little fun folks!!



It's Baseball Time!!

It's that time of the year again.....Baseball Time!!! This Spring both of my boys are playing ball. T-S-E (shown here) is a first-time T-Ball player.
*For those of you that don't know, T-Ball is where you are a beginner and you hit the ball off of what's called a tee.
He has never played a sport before, just watched his brother, sister and cousins. So this is very exciting.

For more pictures of T-S-E and his team click on the flickr badge on the sidebar.

Max-Ay played T-Ball last year, so this year he is playing Rookie. *For those of you who don't know, Rookies is when a pitching machine pitches you the ball, not another player.
Last year Max-Ay pulled some pretty crazy stunts out on the field. Instead of running the bases, he did it with flair. He slid into first base (this is 5 year olds playing and you usually slide on home plate). As he reached 2nd base he did a somersault with his head landing on the bag. As he rounded 3rd he started to slide and then decided to try a headstand w/ his head on the bag (he's not very good at those so he wasn't very successful). As he was approaching home plate, I was waving my arms, scowling and shaking my head. Interpretation: Don't pull anymore crap! He was flashing a cheezy grin, everyone in the stands was laughing but me, and he slowed down and skipped across home plate. After the game I told him that if he didn't run the bases the right way, he wouldn't get his "mandatory" treat after the game. Needless to say, candy won out over creative license.

Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated his uniqueness, but once was enough and I wasn't going to have my kid act like a doofus all season!

Max-Ay baseball photos are being saved for future posts, but I will leave you w/ TSE hittin' it off the tee.


It's Time for a Baseball Season Quick Dinner: English Muffin Pizzas


Mamasita used to make this for Noonie and I when our Dad wasn't home, on nights when he worked shift work. I haven't made it for years and tried it a few months ago. The kids loved it! It's something they can help with and each person makes their own. So......it's great for when other kids come over, they can't complain about not liking the food if they've made it themselves!!

English Muffin Pizzas:
1 pkg. sourdough or plain English Muffins
1 jar pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce or canned tomato sauce/paste seasoned w/ italian seasoning
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 can sliced olives, drained
1 can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 pkg. canadian bacon
1 pkg. pepperoni
1 pkg. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pkg. mozarella, shredded
* any other pizza toppings of your choice

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Split English Muffins in half and spread sauce over them. Add toppings of your choice, saving cheddar and mozarella cheeses for the top. Bake for 6-8 min. Enjoy!!



Favorite Photo of Your Kid Deadline Reminder

Just another reminder friends that your photo submission for the Photo Contest #1: Favorite Photo of Your Kid is midnight PST this Thursday. That's just a little over 48 hours. So far, I have only gotten 3 submissions. That's OK...I'm not complaining about that, just letting y'all know.

For rules and instructions check this out!

Taco Soup Crock Pot Recipe

I made this Yumalicious/Super Easy Taco Soup in my 5qt. Rival Crockpot the day of Meyer D's birthday party. It feeds quite a few people, probably 6-8, the kids like it, and I had some in-laws come early and hungry because they had just flown in from Texas (my nephew graduated from Basic Training, he's in the Air Force).

Mamasita gave me this recipe ages ago, and she got it from our Auntie Deena. I'm sure a million people have a million different recipes for it, but here's mine:

Taco Soup
1-1 1/2 lbs. cooked and taco seasoned ground beef (I used 3Tbsp. bulk taco seasoning, you could use 1-2 pkgs. taco seasoning).
1 lg. can whole stewed tomatoes
1 lg. can red kidney beans, drained
1 can of tomato paste or 1 can of tomato sauce
2 cans corn, drained or undrained (your choice)

Cook ground beef. When beef is browned, drain fat and add taco seasoning & 2/3 c. water. Simmer beef another 20 min.

While ground beef is cooking, drain kidney beans and place in crockpot with 2 cans of corn. Dump in can of stewed tomatoes, get your hands dirty and cut up tomatoes into smaller pieces. Add tomato sauce, or if using paste and water to make it a sauce and add to crockpot with other ingredients.

Cook on low for 6-8 hrs. You can also cook on High for 3hrs. or High for 2 hrs. and low for 2-4 more. This is a meal that you can cook while you are at work, or cook all night and put in refrigerator in the morning. It freezes well and always tastes better the next day!

Serve with chopped olives, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, taco chips.


An Afternoon @ The Retirement Center

As promised, this will be the last post about Meyers D and her Birthday. Everyone has been great about putting up with me posting about all the Festivities/Memories/Photos about her. Thanks! I don't think I normally make such a big deal about my kiddos and their B.Day's, but this was #10...and I happen to think that's a big milestone. There just was lots to tell about this year.

We let the kids get out of school before lunch today so that we could join Grandma Grace @ the Retirement Home for some Birthday lunch. It is quite the palace over there and they get really spoiled at their meals. It's like a sit-down restaraunt, not cafeteria-style. There is a separate menu that changes daily for every meal, and you always get about 3 choices AND a dessert. Today their were three kinds of salad: garden, broccoli/cauliflower & jello. For entree there were: maccaroni & cheese, homemade chicken noodle soup, and roast beef sandwich. Dessert was a choice of tapioca pudding or more jello. Grandma suggested we all have hot cocoa because she drinks it for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I told her she had to do that to stay so sweet!

After lunch we headed back to her suite and my Fishing Uncle showed up, so we had a great visit with him. The boys were pretty fascinated with his finger that had been cut off at the knuckle.

We were supposed to watch the King & I in the Blue Room but they were showing "The Grass is Greener" by Cary Grant. This turned out to be quite boring and not a young-child appropriate movie, but we were there to hang out w/ Grandma and endured right up until about a 1/2 hour before it was over. We really didn't need to find out if Deobrah Kerr would choose Robert Mitchum or her husband, Cary Grant....we're just not too concerned w/ adulterous relationships around here!!

The ice cream parlor was open this afternoon and everyone was quite excited about checking that out. 4 of us had Banana Split ice cream while Max-Ay and Papa D had chocolate. Grandma says we don't even have to pay money for it because they charge it to her room. (Doesn't that mean you have to pay for it....eventually?) She had fun treating us but next time I don't think we'll let her pay for lunch and ice cream for all 5 of us!! She's such a sweetheart, it's fun to see her get such a thrill out of treating us though!!

The kids were just super great at saying hello to the old folks, shaking their hands and even hugging them. Old folks just love little kids, for the most part, and it thrills me that my kids don't duck behind my leg and clam up. They try to give eye contact and speak loud enough for them to hear. It's great practice for them really.

One old gal, I'll call her Thelma, was such a sweetheart. She just absolutely adores kids. She even told my kids that she loved them!! "I just love you," she said. She stopped and talked to us at lunch for a long time. She happened to be in the Blue Room when we got there for the movie, and she followed us into the ice cream parlor. She just couldn't keep her eyes or her hands off my kids! And it was so sweet! Thelma just begged me to bring them back! I hope we see her the next time we are there for a visit.



Meyers D.'s Birthday Cakes

What a great party we had today. Papa D and I had BIG NEWS for Meyers D (HOPE) that was so hard to keep secret. The way she found out the news turned out just perfect. What a special day, with family and friends it was.

Even if you are not interested in her Birthday cake recipes, make sure you scroll down to see all the crazy party pictures. The CameraDawktor has tried not to fail you with party photos.

Also, stay tuned tomorrow.....we are bailing out of school EARLY to have lunch w/ Grandma Grace, watch the King & I with the old folks and have ice cream in the parlor that's at the retirement center.

Meyers D. wanted to serve her friends a Fruit Pizza. We made this for her on her #8 Bday and she just loves it! It's a great recipe for the kids to help out with too!

Grammies' Chocolate Cherry Cake is sinfully easy and delicious recipe with minimal ingredients. It combines two of my favorite things: chocolate & cherries. I just loved this when my Grammies made it for me! It really wasn't all that picture-worthy....but trust me, it is absolutely delicious, and best of all EASY-PEESY to make!

Grammies' Chocolate Cherry Cake/Bars

1 pkg. Devil's Food Cake Mix (chocolate)
1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs, beaten

Mix cake mix and other 3 ingredients by hand and pour into a greased & floured 13x9 in. baking pan. DO NOT MIX THE CAKE MIX W/ DIRECTIONS ON THE BOX. ADD THE CAKE MIX TO THE ALMOND EXTRACT, CHERRY PIE FILLING AND EGGS AS INSTRUCTED HERE!!

Bake 25-30 min. @ 350 degrees. Remove from oven when done, leave the finished cake in the pan and prepare frosting.
*You may also make this on a cookie sheet for a sheet cake which makes 32 pieces. Just make sure to adjust your baking time accordingly.

1 c. sugar
5 Tbsp. Crisco
1/3 c. milk
1 c. semi-sweet (I use

In a saucepan, melt Crisco, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add chocolate chips. Beat until smooth. Pour over warm cake.

Fruit Pizza Ingredients and Directions can be found as follows:

Our Pizza - cookie crust is made w/Joe's Ricotta-Cheese Cookie Recipe . It turned out much thicker than the cookie crust I usually use (standard sugar cookie dough), but everyone really loved it. I was expecting it to spread out close to the sides and it did not. It retained its shape. So, next time I will definitely use this recipe, just spread it out quite thin and close to the edges on my 13 in. baking stone. Trial and error, BABY!!

Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is from The Pampered Chef . Search for desserts/pizzas/Paradise Dessert Pizza.

Assorted fruit choices made by Meyers D and creatively designed by her too!

More Thoughts About Meyers D....

Meyers D is holding our Boxer Zoe when she was just 8 wks. old. We got the little pup when Meyers was just 6. I like the similar expressions on both of their little faces.

I just love when the leaves turn colors in the Fall, so its one of my favorite times to pose the kiddos and take some shots. She's in a grubby old shirt and rubber boots but I still had the photo framed professionally and gave it out for Christmas in '99. I have never spent a lot of money taking my kids to get professional portraits taken. I think you can save a ton of cash and get a better looking, more real and natural photo in your own backyard.


Meyers D with Grandparents Dawktor

Meyers D's first Easter 1996 was spent with the Dawktor Family @ Molly's house.

This is one of my most favorite photos, w/ Great-Grandma holding her, can't you feel the love??

Great-Grandma passed away last Easter after a long 90+ years on this earth!!

Papa D's Father, Grandpa Dawktor is cuddling Meyers @ her Baby Dedication.

This picture was cute in color, but when I changed it to black & white I liked it even better. I think what I like about it, is that in both of their profiles, all you see is eye, nose and ear.

The Best Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the Best Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies I have ever had. Stephanie posted them the other day over @ Dispensing Happiness, and let me tell you....these dispensed my happiness!!

I have a neice spending the night and she's 16, while my kids are 10, 7 & 5. So to keep things interesting I decided spur of the moment to whip these up. She likes to bake so thought she'd appreciate something tastey, and who doesn't like chocolate??!!

I made a few variations to the recipe. I added 1/4 tsp. almond extract in addition to the vanilla that it calls for, and I was VERY GENEROUS with the vanilla. Also, I used Skippy peanut butter instead of natural, and my milk chocolate was Hershey's with almonds.

Thanks Stephanie for posting this tastey treat.

On a different subject, the week went so well with Baby J.D. I found myself thinking this morning that Noonie and his wife ought to have another baby so I can babysit it as well! You all will laugh at me a few months from now when he gets busier and busier and I'm not just gushing anymore about how easy it is. Oh well, I am enjoying this phase now anyway. Just as all phases of a child's life are special, this phase seems extra special; all the gurgles, coos, smiles....are so sweet!

Here are the latest additions in the photo category of Max-Ay feeding and cuddling Baby J.D.:


Rock'n Cool Baby!!

She may not be a future rock star, but she sure looks like one rock'n cool baby!!

BTF Friday: Remembering Meyers D's Entrance into My World!

I have to be honest, it doesn't seem like Meyers D came into my life only yesterday....rather, it feels more like she's been a part of it forever. On Monday it will be ten years since she entered our world.

I had a long labor with her. About 22 hours. I won't bore you with all the details. What I will tell you is that after going 24 hrs. with your water broke, the baby can asperate too much of the amniotic fluid and have complications. That's what happened to Meyers. This is nothing that causes permanent damage, just enough problems to require lots of extra care and stress on the new parents.

After being awake for almost 30 hours, and being at the hospital by myself, I went and checked on her in the infant nursery. After spending the first few hours with her after she was born and having such a difficult time, I had went back to my room by myself to try and get a little sleep.
I had only been away from her for 3 hours when I went to go get her and bring her to my room.

The nurse in attendance stopped me at the door. "We don't know what's wrong with her (and) the pediatrician has ordered formula feedings only until we know what's wrong with her," she said. You know, looking back on it I should have filed a complaint with the head nurse right then and there. But I was a first time Mom, didn't know procedures and too stunned by what she had just said to do anything but FREAK OUT!!

Immediately I began thinking....is she going to die? were her guts on the outside? no, I held her and she looked normal......

What is a sleep deprived/hormonal wreck of a Mom supposed to do with that kind of information, let alone be standing there by herself when she receives it????

After all was said and done, her temperature had dropped very low (so it was a good thing she was with them so they could see that) and they hooked her up to an i.v., put her under a warming lamp and began to watch her for signs of an infection caused by the amniotic fluid.

At the time I didn't know it, but I would later experience worse problems when having a newborn. However, I was quite devestated and stressed out by her having to stay at the hospital one day longer than me, and quite worried that she wouldn't nurse well because they had given her a bottle. It turned out that she would take both just fine.

When we were finally able to take her home it was just a beautiful Spring day. As we stepped outisde of the hospital with her I could smell all the Spring flowers and tree blossoms in the air. I was truly convinced that the earth had decided to explode with beauty right there on that day to welcome her into the world. Even the hyacinth outside our front door bloomed before we brought her across the threshold of our door!

The first night we had her home she slept from midnight to five a.m. without waking up for a feeding. (For those of you who don't know that 's considered sleeping through the night.) What surprised me was that I slept better having her home than I had at the end of my pregnancy, waking up every couple of hours to go pee!!

Meyers D is just a very special girl, and I found myself thinking for those first few months she was with us, what an honor it was to have her in our lives. I kept thinking, my life is too perfect, I am too happy, when is the bottom going to fall out of all this wonderfulness!!

Thank You God for blessing us with Myah. Thank You that you chose her to be our daughter. Thank You friends for listening to me gush about my girl!!


It's All About Meyers for the Next Few Days...So Get Used to It!!

Well, I'm getting ready for Meyers D.'s #10 Birthday. Yesterday I scanned 53 of my favorite pictures of her in the computer and today I edited them. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE doing photo editing!!

Here are just a couple, I'll be posting a lot of pictures of her and stuff about when she was born, etc. over the next few days. And, of course, I'll have recipes for her Birthday cakes and pictures of her party. Her REAL birthday is on Monday so between now and then it will be MEYERS, MEYERS, MEYERS!!!

If this kind of thing bores you.....stay away until next Tues!!


SpiceHut's Delicious Greens & Unstuffed French Toast

A few weeks ago I wrote about going to see an Aryuevedic Doctor for my migraines. I had stated, in that post, that I would try to do a better job about eating greens for dinner.

As Aryuvedic medicine originated in India, I thought I'd ask my Blogger Friend, SpiceHut, if she had any suggestions, tips, recipes for cooking greens. She e-mailed me the following recipe which I made last night. It was so awesomely delicious that I asked her if I could post her recipe, which she agreed to!

Unless she has a better title for her recipe, I'm calling it SpiceHut's Delicious Greens
1 bunch fenugreek or spinach, pick the leaves & chop small
1 small onion finely chopped
2 garlic pods crushed
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
a dash of fresh lemon juice (optional)

In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tsp oil. Add onions & saute till transparent. Add the garlic & green chillies to it, saute till onions & garlic turn golden brown.

Add the chopped greens (prefer Fenugreek), sugar, salt to taste, mix well.

Cover & cook on lowest heat setting till done. If the greens are watery after they're cooked--I like them dryish, uncover & cook on high heat, stirring constantly, till water evaporates.

If using lemon juice, sprinkle now, mix. Done.

Late last week, Meyers D. was watching as I was reading SpiceHut's blog. She saw the photo of her Unstuffed French Toast (w/ Banana) and insisted that we try it. We made it Saturday morning and all three of the kids loved it. I have never had French Toast w/out cinnamon but with vanilla. They were truly delicious.

Max-Ay gave me that "HUH?" look when he saw the banans topping his French Toast, but he and T-Sam-E both ate it and said they really liked it. This photo of Meyers D. shows what she thought about it. Can you hear her moaning, "M..mmm...mmm"??

Thank You SpiceHut for the delicious recipes and if you have anymore tips for the cooking of Greens, let me know as I eat them everyday! If I have enough variety I won't tire of eating them because I'll have a large selection of methods to choose from!


Baby J.D.'s First Day w/ Auntie

Today was my first official day babysitting J.D. It went extremely well! I couldn't have had it go any better.

About 45 min. after he got here (8 a.m.), he drank a 4 0z. bottle and went to sleep. He slept for 3 hours

When he was awake today he cooed, smiled and jibber-jabbered up a storm. He's really at just a great age....not rolling over/crawling/walking so I don't have to chase him around yet. Baby J.D. posts will sound much different when those things start happening. My brother came and picked him up at 3:45pm. He said, "How did it go?" With that worried parent look on his face (you have to remember this is the first time I've ever seen that look on his face!) And I, like a mean sister, said, "Well............." "Bad?" he said. "NO IT WAS AWESOME!" I teased him.

It really was.

I think T-Sam-E really ejoyed having him here even if he is so much older. He's never gotten to act like a big brother/cousin before. So it's great experience in kindness/compassion/caring for him. He wanted to hold him, give him his bottle, help burp him.....but not change the diaper. Who can blame him?!

Of course my up & coming CameraDawktor had to take a few snapshots of his little buddy for himself. I cropped it up for him but he did the rest. Even posed him with the bear. Now ain't that sweet?!

I think my favorite moment of the day was when Baby J.D. had been awake for awhile, had just had a big 4oz. bottle and was quite talkative. I told T-Sam-E that he should read him a story. He went out and brought back a few of his beginning reading books. The next thing I knew it J.D. was sacked-out by the sound of T-S-E's little reading voice. I just had to get a picture of that...or my name wouldn't be CameraDawktor, now would