Weekend Fun Times

This weekend was a busy one, but so incredibly fun. 

I was lucky enough to get a quick visit with my friend Cindy and two of her girlfriends who were in town to check out the Portland food scene. They invited me to join them for dinner and breakfast and we had a lovely time, not to mention some delicious food.  These girls are my kind of people! They had a list of restaurants to try and it was so complete (and long!) you'd think they were locals. They did their research. I think they'll have to come back though, just too many restaurants, not enough time. 

I did get to take them to one of my favorite breakfast spots, Bread and Ink on Hawthorne. They had the Waffle Window on their list (I'm seriously in love with the WW) but we opted to sit inside the main restaurant and enjoy the full breakfast that Bread and Ink offers. It was, as always, a delight. We all shared our dishes and left fully stuffed. Roll me out the door stuffed. 

My Eggs Benedict from Bread and Ink - Pretty freaking delish! Great Hollandaise!

In addition to the whirlwind food tour I helped put on a Zombie Birthoween Party on Saturday night. It was a pretty awesome event. Almost every guest showed up in some form of the undead along with one cute little Zom-bee! We had jello shots in syringes to serve as our vaccines. I think we got everyone who came but be careful, if we missed one or two you might see a zombie or two roaming the streets of PDX!

Jello shots! Get it? Shots! Yes I'm a nerd.

The birthday girl had a hard time not being a smiling zombie.

My SIL the vaccine administrator trying to get me. She wins for best, freakiest costume!

It was truly a great weekend filled with friends. What more can one ask for really?


A quick update since I have been absent from this blog...

The last few months have been exceedingly busy with not one, but TWO new puppies. We brought Brady home in late February. He was the snuggliest, sweetest little ball of fur I've ever had the pleasure of knowing let alone owning. He was such a joy that we decided we should get him a brother or sister to play with (When we lost Olivia the dog in April we had a moment of crisis where we decided it should be another puppy, this is evidence that we are crazy people).  In July we brought Ella home. She was the tiniest little thing on the farm and was so flipping adorable I just knew she was the one. It has been quite the adventure ever since. Unlike her brother she is very opinionated, very brave and she eats everything in site. They are both a delight and I never get tired of coming home to two little wagging tails. 

Beyond the puppies (Like we talk about anything else?? Yes we've become THOSE people) life has been busy with work and fun. The summer here in Oregon was smashing! Sunshine every single day. No really, we went months without any rain. This sunshine girl was loving life. Scott of course worked really long hours this summer but he was able to enjoy a few bbq's and even a few Saturdays off.  Now we head into Fall and Winter and I'm looking forward to baking apple crisps and prepping for the holidays. I'm quite content. 

Which brings me to another subject...

For years this blog was something of a journal for me as we negotiated the roller coaster that is infertility. Hopes, dreams, challenges, anger, frustration, all out on the line. It was a place to share, to vent, to meet others who also shared our struggles/dreams. It served it's purpose well but now that time has passed. While Scott and  I would still very much like to be parents, we are not in pursuit the way we once were.  It is not a dream dashed, more like a dream changed? It's hard to explain really but I feel okay about it. Perhaps we will have children, perhaps not. On the advice of a friend from many years go I prayed to God that he remove the longing from my heart if it was not meant to be.  For the few months following that request I really made peace with the idea that we might not be parents. There was a calming in my heart. It is also hard to explain but for the first time in a really long time I felt freed from the constant need to have a baby.  I can even be joyful for people when they announce a pregnancy. That was always something I really had to work at in the past and I was not always successful. Who knows what will happen in the future? For now I am content. I haven't been that way in many, many years and it feels really good. 

So moving forward I'm not really sure what all I'll blog about but I am going to really make an effort to do more. I really enjoy it. I miss writing in general. I took a class last year and was reintroduced to the creativity and fun it brings. I'm also working on a few art/print projects that will eventually be the base of my Etsy store. I'll keep you updated when that happens!

So if you're still here, and still reading, thanks for following me all along. It is really nice to know you're out there. 

I leave you with pictures of our current babies...

Brady, my handsome, quiet and gentle boy.

Ella, my adventurous, curious, and silly baby.

Two peas in a pod!

Water Baby

Today I sucked it up and put on my Speedo swimsuit. I mean it, I really sucked it up. I had to to get the dang thing on. It's been a while. Swimsuits built for real swimming are tight. Think sausage casing. Oy. 

We've been watching the Olympics and I got all excited talking to Scott about flip turns and backstroke side to side movement and snapping on a swim cap, the smell of the pool. I was a little fired up. 

When I swam in high school I was pretty good. Not great. I was a freshman that struggled at first with the amount of swimming I was being asked to do.  Swimming had always come naturally to me. Family legend says I learned to swim before I learned to walk. Eventually I got used to the seemingly endless practices and did well in my races. Backstroke was my stroke. I loved it. I did individual races and medley relays. My very last race I had a PR and felt something similar to runners high. I remember Coach Z getting all excited about my time and telling me it wouldn't take much to move me up to varsity. To a freshman that's pretty huge. Unfortunately we moved a few weeks later and Oregon high schools do swimming in a different season so there was no team to join, plus it was inside. I remember thinking, who swims inside?? Such a spoiled sun baby. 

I never swam in a race again. I tried track and had lost my interest in the hurdles and dashes. Then I found cheerleading and it was all consuming. Yeah I was that girl who walked around the grocery store practicing chants, much to my mothers embarrassment. 

So I hadn't jumped into a pool for a real workout for the first time in about seventeen or eighteen years. 

My arms are the tired achy that feels good. My thighs are going to be sore tomorrow. My skin has that tight dry feeling you get after a lot of time in the water. It's totally awesome and I'm so going back tomorrow. 

That nagging foot injury that's been keeping me out of my running shoes doesn't hurt in the pool. Plus I just feel good in the water, even if I was inside on a beautiful sunny day.

Now if I could just keep the hairy gross guys coming out of the sauna or steam room to stay out of the pool it would be perfect. 

If puppies had online dating ads...

Name: Brady Bruschi Meeker
Birthdate : 1/2/12
Favorite Food: String Cheese
Favorite Toy: Cabella's Duck 
Favorite Football Team: New England Patriots
Nicknames: Little Man, Bubba, Sh*tbag, The Water Buffalo
Parents: Scott and Erin

Hey there, I'm Brady the Brittany. I'm a five month old lovebug (even though my mom says I am a monster) looking for a lap to snuggle in. Do you like to snuggle? You should come over, we can watch a dog show or maybe Animal Planet and share a blanket. The couch is pretty comfy!

I'm currently living in SE Portland at some pretty sweet digs. I've got a huge yard that I love to run in, dig in, and throw my toys around in. When I'm not lounging on the couch you can probably find me chewing on a bone or begging to go for a walk. I've even started trying to open the front door myself so I can just go. My mom's not too happy about that but I think once I figure it out and actually get the door open she'll be so proud of me she won't mind a bit! She's not too fond of me eating her gerbera daises though. I've been in trouble for it lots but they are just at my highth and such pretty colors. How am I supposed to resist? And really, look at ME, how can someone resist me??

That time I ran a half marathon without training...

**just a note that I know I haven't posted here in months, sometimes I lack the focus or passion to write things out, but I'll try to be better**

This weekend I ran my second half marathon, the inaugural Portland Rock 'N' Roll . I'd signed up for it months ago (September?) after best friend convinced me to.  Strangely enough she scheduled a trip to Utah for the same weekend so ended up not running it with me.  It worked out okay though, a co-worker was signed up too and it turns out we're well suited to run together pace wise. Another friend found me in the coral before the race and joined us. It was fun to have some running buddies. Also, Kara Goucher ran in this race. I can say I ran a race with Kara Goucher, how rad is that?

I didn't prepare for this race like I did last years Helvetia. In part due to a neck injury and then the flu, but mostly just my own laziness. This resulted in a less than stellar time but I had a great time, felt great throughout and still feel good now, hours later. And honestly, I was only 9 minutes slower than my time last year which I really, really trained for. I think this is a testament to how my body is in better shape overall. This makes me feel super proud of myself and encourages me to go out for my next half in five weeks.

The course was beautiful. There were hills, but that meant we had some awesome downhills. We snaked through SE PDX which is a real treat compared to the usual Portland races. There was a little rain to keep us cool, some awesome bands to listen to, great cheerleaders and one very supportive husband who used his only day off this week to come out and cheer me on at not one, but two different spots. He brought along our friend Josh and the puppy and it meant the world to see them standing there waiting for us. 

Overall it was a fabulous run. I was chipper the whole time and didn't get really drained until the last mile but I was able to push through that. I even found that my breath control was better than normal. I could actually talk while running?!? The event was well staffed and ran very smoothly (except for the three little stops for traffic). I loved how they had every mile marked. The water/aid stations were very well staffed and the post race medal/recovery area was perfect. Seriously great run. 

I'm back in my groove. I'd forgotten that I liked running. 

Funny Race Quote - As we came down Multnomah Blvd I could smell someone cooking breakfast. I was ravenously hungry at this point (mile 11) and it smelled so good. Very loudly I proclaimed "Do you smell that bacon? Oh that bacon smells so good right now" only to see my friend Tina's horrified face as I finished my sentence. Apparently we were also just passing a cop on his motorcycle and there is no way he didn't hear me. Oops! Sorry Mr. Officer, I was really just excited about the food and meant no disrespect!

This medal is awesome. It's heavy and sparkly and it's all mine!

I am so terrified EXCITED about the half marathon I will run in six days. I found myself analyzing the elevation chart today and I happy to say that the last half is downhill. Unfortunately that means the first half is nearly all uphill. I can only hope the good people who live and work on Hawthorne will be generous with the alcohol water they hand out and cheer us crazy people on as we limp run though their pretty neighborhood.

They have ATM's in the jungle?

Actun Tunichil Muknal is the ATM in the jungles of Belize.  Actun Tunichil Muknal translates into "Cave of the Stone Sepulcher". I had to look up sepulcher. It's a $2 word. 

sep·ul·cher  (spl-kr)
1. A burial vault.
2. A receptacle for sacred relics, especially in an altar

Yep, a cave with a burial vault and sacred relics! We went there! We were totally Indiana Jones minus the bad nazi people chasing us. And we had a guide with us so someone else walked into the cobwebs first. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's start over.

When we first started researching our trip to Belize I ran across a blog someone had written about a crystal maiden. Intrigued I did some more reading and learned about the cave outside of San Ignacio that had been discovered in 1992. Only specifically trained guides are allowed to take visitors into this cave and it's quite the experience. You can't just walk right in and have a little hike. This is much more of an adventure.  

We knew we only had the time and money for one adventure while we were staying in the Cayo District and we decided this was  going to be it. We'd really wanted to visit Tikal in Guatemala but ultimately decided that we should do the physical excursion while we were still young enough to do it, plus it sounded so amazing it was hard to resist even if the physical challenge made me a bit nervous. 

Our Friday morning began with six strangers in a van driven by Oscar who worked for Pacz tours. Oscar was a friendly guy and really good about pointing out things along the long, bumpy road out to the park area where the hike begins. We made introductions with the other travelers in our party as we bounced along in the van.  We made a quick stop at a little store out in the middle of no where. It's the last spot to use a flushing toilet and grab a snack. There were chickens and dogs all over and locals just hanging out. Kind of an odd set up but I had to go so I paid my $1BZD ($.50USD) to use the potty. I had to walk up a little concrete incline that was surrounded by some cinder blocks. I recognized the area immediately from the description the guy at the pool had given us. This is where he fell. Yikes, he didn't even make it to the park entrance?!?! 

After we piled back into the van we were on our way to parking area where all the tours embark on the hike. Oscar made sure we had the right footwear on and asked a few questions, like "does everyone here know how to swim?".  Scott and I are good swimmers and we had out trusty Keen sandals on so we were ready to go. We left our dry clothes in the van, grabbed our helmets and followed along behind Oscar and his trusty machete. 

The hike is fairly easy in that it's flat. It's only about 1.3 miles long so very manageable. The difficulty lies in the mud you are walking on. It's slippery. You can put your foot down and think it's going to slide one way and it will go the complete opposite. You can't reach out to catch your balance because you might just grab onto the bamboo with three inch thorns on it. I was able to keep up by trying to watch where Oscar was putting his feet and looking for the most compact ground. It wasn't terrible, just a little tricky.  We also had to cross the river three times. the first time you go across it's waist deep in fairly slow water, the second is knee deep in swifter water and the third is knee deep again in even swifter water. It wasn't too cold, in fact it's refreshing after walking in the hot humid day.

You could feel the liquid hanging in the air...

Ahhh humidity! Usually my arch nemesis. Any weather element that can make my normally straight hair miraculously turn itself into a ball of frizzy fluff closely resembling a Persian cat who has licked an electrical outlet is no friend of mine.

Except today. Today I spent 25 minutes in a hot, steamy, humid shower in an effort to break up the gunk that has come to live in my respiratory system since our return home. While standing in the shower breathing in as much steam as one can suck down the one nostril that is still unclogged I got to thinking about the humidity in Belize.  

When we arrived there Scott and I both still had the remnants of a nasty cold we'd caught about a week before we got on the plane. Somehow we both now have the same damn colds again. Blech.  Thankfully the first round faded rather quickly and I'm certain that the humidity helped. While not the most humid place I've ever been...I have family in Southern Illinois folks and spent my summers there...Belize was pretty humid. Sleeping in our open air casita was like having a little humidifier running in our room. Just what colds need for that feel better mojo. 

Here is a picture of our little cabin.  We stayed at the Macal River Camp, part of Chaa Creek Resort just outside of San Ignacio. We were tucked about as far back as they go and our front porch, which you can't see was up against giant palm fronds and thick jungle foliage. The screens go all the way around. There are no solid walls. This is actually pretty neat if you want to hear the world of the jungle come alive. One night we were greeted with the sounds of howler monkeys. Their LOUD voices sound a lot like the dinosaurs that chase people in Jurassic Park. I'm not exaggerating one bit.  I tried to record it with my iPhone but the sound didn't carry so well to the microphone.  I did find this little video so you too can enjoy their screeching singing.

Crazy right? Imagine if that were right above your head, in the dark, while trying to sleep. The little family that lived in the trees at our resort spent most of their time terrorizing  entertaining the people who were staying in the fancy rooms, not our humble little casitas. Perhaps the thought they'd get better tips from those folks? As a side note, while searching for this video the little dog who was peacefully sleeping next to me has become agitated. Olivia is not a fan.  Other sounds included all sorts of birds, weird little buzzing bugs and undetermined animals (probably gibnuts) moving around in the foliage.

This is one of the larger, family sized casitas that sit on the opposite side of the camp. We didn't go in one, but I understand they have four beds in them.  When we arrived the University of Vermont had a group of students visiting and they were staying in these rooms.

This is the inside of our room. It was plenty big for the two of us. Each night Dosio, the camp host, or one of his kids, would light the kerosene lanterns as it grew dark. With no electricity it gets dark in the jungle FAST! Shortly after dark falls it's dinner time. Everyone eats together in a two hour time frame. Dinner is made by Dosio's wife or his sister-in- law. I wish I had photos of the food. Sadly it was so amazing we always ate it before thinking to take a photo. When I say amazing I'm not sure the word really fairly describes the food I consumed. It was better than that. Seconds were encouraged and there was always a dessert to enjoy. The banana cake our first night might be the BEST banana cake I have ever had. I had banana cake at my wedding. This was better. Leaps and bounds better. I am a cake lover, you have to know my wedding cake was delicious. Still I vote for Belize Banana Cake. It must be the fresh bananas? If I ever make it back to Macal River Camp I will beg for that recipe. 

In addition to the beautiful walks you can take around the resort you can also check out a canoe and either head upstream (free!) or downstream into San Ignacio town ($25/person including your pick up in town). We choose to head into town and this is me heading down the river. It's a two hour paddle. They told us it would be a two hour paddle. Scott and I both figured we'd be able to do that a bit faster. You know he's all buff and stuff and I've been working on my fitness. We had this on lock down. 

Only we didn't. It wasn't a hard paddle, but it took the full two hours.  Thankfully it's a beautiful ride down a lovely river with iguanas hanging out on tree branches and large birds swooping in front of the boat. Also, there were a few class one rapids to go through. I've rafted the upper Clackamas River so I've seen some rapids. These were not nearly as scary but the first one you do in a little canoe rather than a giant inflated raft is a bit nerve wracking. We got the hang of it quickly though and it was pretty darn fun. 

We did pass another couple. So even if we didn't beat the two hour mark we at least beat some other people :) I bet they had no idea they were in a race with us. 

Pretty river view. I wish I'd thought to take a photo of the suspension bridge you pass under. It's the only one in Belize. It was built in 1949 and is only one lane wide.  If you know me you understand that I was much happier to go under it than over it. 

After our drift into town we left our canoe at the dock (small cement outcropping that had neither a sign or place to tie up the boat) and walked into town. The resort has a set up to leave your paddle and life jackets at a local restaurant so you can enjoy town without them.  We stopped at a different restaurant and ordered drinks and lunch. This was my first Belikin of the trip. It's a pretty easy beer to drink when it's hot out. Very refreshing.  

Delicious shrimp ceviche.  We were famished!

After lunch we took a walk into town and through the market. Just around the corner from this market there is a large construction site that we walked past. The day after we left this area of Belize they discovered Mayan ruins and skeletal remains at that site.  Pretty amazing! I love that they are still discovering these amazing pieces of history!

Also around the corner from the market is this little store. I just thought it was funny that they have a sign with the words "big panties" on it. Yes I have the same sense of humor as a nine year old. I can't help it. 

Back at the resort we decided to relax a little by the pool. Macal River Camp guest are able to use the amenities at the resort side of the property too. A nice little perk. The grounds are beautiful and the pool is very refreshing. They have food and drink service at the pool as well. 

At the pool we met a man who had a giant bag of ice on his ankle. I'd already been told by Dosio - who picked us up in town - that someone had to return from the ATM cave hike early due to a turned ankle. I assumed this was the guy and sure enough it was. He'd fallen at a quick stop on the way to the cave. Poor thing didn't even make it to the area where you hike. More on that later of course. I have a whole blog coming on just that hike.

My final picture on this post is out of sequence, these are the first drinks we had upon arriving at the resort. Mine is a lime juice,similar to Limeaid and easily my favorite drink in Belize. I'm doing some research online for recipes and I plan to test a few out. I will report back here. Scott's drink is the beer of course. I think of these as a toast to Macal River Camp, Dosio and his family, the town of San Ignacio and the lovely Cayo District. It was our first taste of Belize and it was perfect. I would do it again in heartbeat.