Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Dip in Paradise

Ever since I started blogging I find myself giving titles to everything I do. This past weekend was worthy of at least 10 different titles. Picking the perfect one occupied my thoughts for the hours spent gaining 2500 ft. on my bike. As the weekend came to an end, I asked Rick what title he would give to the weekend. When he immediately replied "A Dip in Paradise" I knew that would be the name for this post, because the weekend turned out to be just that.

A few weeks ago, Steph offered to watch our kids for the weekend. At least I hope that's what she was offering! I didn't want to go too far so I checked online and found a place to stay in the gorge. We settled on "The Viewpoint Inn" for our weekend getaway. Of course, we picked the smallest and cheapest room. The fact that we had to use a shared bathroom wasn't a big deal because we would only be staying one night. We were also excited about the fact that part of the upcoming movie "Twilight" was filmed at this Inn. How cool is that? Here's a picture of the room we reserved.
We knew it was going to be a good weekend when we showed up and the host told us we had been complimentary upgraded to the Roosevelt Suite. Woo hoo!! This room normally cost 3x's as much and has it's own private bath. I love the decor.
We were thrilled as the night went on and we realized we were the only ones staying in the inn that night which meant the common room was all ours.
Here's a picture of the inn and the beautiful grounds.

And a picture of the view. It was gorgeous. Of course the picture doesn't do it justice and doesn't encompass the peace that comes from looking at such a view. This is the view we had as we sat on the grounds eating dinner and from the window of our room.
The main level of the inn is also a restaurant so we indulged and had halibut and steak dinners as the sun set and the lights of Portland began to twinkle. Of course we had desserts as well. We had earned them from the 15 mile bike ride we had just finished. The Inn is on Larch Mt. road we set out to explore the road on our bikes. It was a wooded, mountain road with hardly any traffic on it. After almost 8 miles of a gradual incline, I was ready to turn around and enjoy the downhill. Very fun!
The next morning, after our private breakfast at the inn, we decided to see what was at the end of Larch Mt. road. We had read that there was an incredible view of the 5 volcanoes in the area. How can you pass that up? We had made it 8 miles on our bikes the night before and were only able to make it 10 in the car. The road was closed for the last 4 miles of the road. We hadn't planned on riding bikes that day but we couldn't pass up what might be one of the best views around. So we hopped on our bikes and rode another 4 miles of hills. In the two bike rides we climbed a total of 2500 ft. in elevation. I feel a little bit better knowing that because of how painful it was!! We got to the top of the road, hoping to see the awesome view, and found a parking lot covered in snow. I wasn't ready to give up. We found a sign sticking out of the snow for a trail that we thought might be the viewpoint. The majority of the trail was covered in snow but the sign said it was only 1/4 mile so we thought we could manage.
I was wearing my trusty chacos, not so great for the snow, and Rick had his biking shoes on. But we had to press onward. We would occasionally find the trail but most of the time we were just hoping we were on the right track and hoping there was an awesome view at the end.
We weren't disappointed. It was worth cold toes and sore legs. The view was breathtaking and I couldn't help but to squeal with delight as we climbed the last few steps to the top of the viewpoint. Once again, the pictures do not do it justice. The mountains/volcanoes behind me are St. Helens to the left, Rainer in the back (hundreds of miles away), and I think Adams to the right.

And Hood is behind us in this picture. The bike ride down to the car was fast and fun and then we headed down the gorge to get a waterfall hike in before we saved Steph from our children.

I wanted to show Rick the Oneonta Gorge. I happened upon it with my brother John last summer as we waited by the river after a different gorge hike. Rick was working when we went last time so I wanted to take him on this short, wet hike. It reminds me of the narrow canyons of southern Utah but this canyon is green instead of red, and the water is ice cold. But it is just as beautiful.
It's worth getting waist deep in the cold water to see the waterfall at the end of the gorge.
And here is Rick taking "A Dip in Paradise". Once I jumped into the pool he knew he had to take a turn as well. As cold as it was, it felt good to swim in the crystal clear waters.
We came home from our weekend feeling refreshed, in love and ready to share that love with the 4 little morsels we had left behind. Steph, bless her heart, had dinner on the table ready for us, the house was clean and the kids were happily playing in the kiddie pool. Not only did we spend the weekend in paradise but we came home to it as well. Life, my friends, is good.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


We are suckers for strawberries here at the Bruno home. We've been anxiously waiting for our strawberries to ripen and we are finally getting the chance to enjoy them. Today the kids picked strawberries (actually they stood around and ordered their friends to do it for them-already learning how to delegate), mashed them up, added a little sugar and were very pleased with the results.

The jam turned out great and the kids all enjoyed some jam and toast. Yummy!

I never have enough strawberries in the yard. We mostly just eat them up as they ripen. And I use the 30 lb. bucket of strawberries that I order for jam. So for all my other berry needs (I tell you-I have berry addictions) I head to the u-pick farms. We attempted to strawberry pick last week but after going to five different farms, all of which were closed, we settled for McDonald's sundaes instead. This time we called ahead and were prepared. As you can see, Holly enjoyed herself. From past posts, you've learned Holly will eat anything-even cat food and litter. I think she enjoyed eating the dirt as much as she enjoyed the strawberries. Here's Stephanie trying to cast some kind of berry spell on me.

And here I am in my happy place. I must have eaten 100 strawberries that day.

And just for fun, here's a picture of my favorite part of my yard right now. My dad built this beautiful arbor a few years back. I wanted to have clematis grow up the sides of it and have loved watching it climb up the arbor and burst into full bloom. Not only do I love berries, I love flowers. I'm glad there are things like berries and flowers to make me happy. It's proof that God wants us to find joy in this life.

Stephanie-Will you please let me live with you?

Dear Stephanie,
I feel like I should make one last valiant effort to make my way into your heart and home. I have done what I could over the last five weeks to help you see how cute I am and how perfectly I fit with your family. I'm afraid it hasn't been enough. As my day of departure nears, I am making one last plea. I love Sage and Jaxon and feel like I would fit right in. As far as Jake goes, I can find a way to help him love me as well-or we'll just send him off to school. I will also be one of your most loyal friends. Please consider one last time opening your home to me.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's All About Me!!

Not only do I love that cheesy smile, but I thought the little saying on Holly's onesie was perfect for the title of this post. With the end of school came many "It's all about me!" moments in the Bruno family. Here are some of our chances to shine.

Emily performed with her friends
in a very cute music group performance. Stephanie does such a great job with the kids and they love it! She gets to be with her friends and sing songs like Mr. Tambourine Man and Puff the Magic Dragon.

Here she is dancing and with "Miss Stephanie" as some of the kids call her.

Abbie got to celebrate her end of the season soccer party. She had fun at a picnic with all of her soccer buddies and got a medal from her coach to remember the great season. She has an awesome team. They hope to stay together as long as possible.

Abbie also performed in her spring violin recital and did a fabulous job. She never gets nervous playing in front of people. Hopefully it will always be that way.

Poor Holly didn't have very happy "All About Me!" moments. For a week she woke up with goopy eyes every morning and from every nap. It still didn't stop her from pulling out the bags-her favorite thing to do!

Emily had her last day of gymnastics. She's been in a park and recs class and really likes it. Great job Emily!

She also had an end of preschool party with her preschool friends. We had so much fun with Zach, Lucy, Elena and Skye this year. They learned a lot and did a lot of laughing and playing.

Connor and Abbie both got to participate in their class talent shows. They both had big smiles as they were cheered by their peers. I think they liked the attention.

Rick's "All About Me" day was on Father's Day, of course. The kids finally got to bring him their cards at 11:00 (ok, maybe it wasn't that late-but it felt like it!) and we made him a super yummy breakfast in bed. And while I'm talking about Rick, he also took the girls camping the night before. Including Holly! He deserves points for that. He's also had fun lately riding his bike to work. He usually makes the 13 mile ride to and from work 3 times a week. He has also gone on a few 30+ mile bike rides, golfs every chance he gets, plays baseball once a week and even goes on occasional runs during his lunch break. What's gotten into this kid? Way to go Babes!
As for myself, I ran my best ever time for the Helvatia Half Marathon. I shaved exactly 3 minutes off my previous time for a new PR of 1 hour 54 minutes and 32 seconds. That averages to an 8:30 minute mile, which for me, is fabulous. The run was tough but so fun to set a new record for myself. I was happy to share this "All About Me" moment with Heather, who also got an new PR, and Nichole and Jane from running group. The Jamba Jucie at the end of the race made the sweat and pain all worth it.
And that's what the Bruno's have been up to. Now that summer has come we're enjoying doing very little at all. It's so nice to slow down and take a break. Well, not from running, of course!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

All in a Day's Work

I often feel like I just don't get much accomplished in a day. At the end of the day, I look back and think, "What in the world did I spend the past 15 hours doing?" These pictures help me feel a bit better about it all. On this particular day I was watching Sage and Jaxon. Who knows what Jaxon and Emily are up to. Probably destroying one of the rooms I wasn't taking pictures of. As for Holly and Sage, they first found the cat food. Holly was thoroughly enjoying a mouthful of cat food when I found them and was thoroughly ticked that I wouldn't let her finish enjoying it. I saved this mess for later but found them just moments later in the kitchen.

Once again they were very happy to be making a mess just as quickly as possible. They giggled every time they threw a cup. What I didn't get a picture of was their adventures in the bathroom. They dumped as much as they could in the few minutes I spent cleaning up the cups. They work well as a team.
Once Holly's little buddy went home she still wanted to have some fun of her own. I was probably working on the cat food that I had ignored long enough when Holly decided to pull out all the plastic bags. I think she does this at least once a day. I love her expression. "What you gonna do about this mess, Mom?"
I thought maybe strapping her in the high chair might help out. Wrong-everything got crumpled into little tiny crumbs and tossed on the floor. And Holly's still got that smug expression on her face! She's knows she doesn't have to clean up the mess.
After getting her out of the highchair she insisted on going outside. The grass was muddy and since she is still on all fours I knew she would be covered in dirt in a matter of seconds, which would mean yet another mess to clean up. I just didn't have it in me so I enlisted Emily's help and strapped Holly into the swing. Both the girls were happy with this arrangement and it gave me a few more minutes to clean up yet another mess.

In reality I did get a lot accomplished. I cleaned up cat food, and the bathroom, restacked the cups for the umpteenth time, and put all the plastic bags back so Holly could pull them all out again. I fed my scrumptious little girl and made her laugh. Maybe there wasn't much checked off my list but hopefully I allowed Holly the chance to explore her little world and live her life to the fullest.

For my dear friends who have tagged me, thanks for thinking of me. It made me happy. Rest assured you wouldn't find anything too exciting in the pictures I would take so I'll spare you the details. There are always piles of laundry, the fridge is always jammed packed, my closets a mess, the kids are always asleep when I blog, and my favorite, favorite, favorite shoes are my chacos. I love them!!!!!