Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for September, 2007

Bed and Breakfast Getaway

30th September 2007

We had a fun getaway this past weekend courtesy of Kristine’s coworkers from her job in California at the UCDMC. They got together and gave her a gift certificate to the Blue Spring Manor bed and breakfast during her goodbye party before we moved to Alabama. We haven’t had the opportunity to use it until now — but it was the absolute perfect timing to give us a breakaway vacation from our lovely kiddoes.

The Blue Spring Manor view from the back. The day spa is in the building to the left.

I left straight from work to have a nice long bike ride on many new unexplored roads while Kristine drove there directly to enjoy some pampering at the day spa. We were both in heaven — she at the spa, and me on the bike! The map below shows the winding route that I took down there along with the elevation profile with more than 5000′ of climbing!

My wandering bike route from Samford over to Vincent, AL.
(Click on the map for a high-res PDF)

We rendezvoused at Blue Spring Manor right at dinner time, so we took a leisurely drive back up the 280 corridor to eat dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack. After a nice relaxing dinner, we made it back to look at ALL the stars since we were far enough out of town to get away from all the light pollution. With high speed wireless internet, we were able to watch online the last few laps of the USA Crits series world championship finals while enjoying an entire bottle of wine!

After a lovely breakfast in the morning, we walked around the grounds and took some pictures before it was all too soon time to go.

The sign out front.

There was a pretty creek in the backyard with tadpoles and minnows.

And there was also this HUGE tree.

There were several amenities for the avid golfer. Here are the driving net in the back and the chipping green out front.

Finally, it was time to go. I biked home a much more direct route arriving back home less than an hour after Kristine. I stopped to take a couple pictures at the top of Coosa Mountain. I had a great tailwind and felt like I was flying the whole way home.

Here is the view looking east towards Cheaha Mountain, Alabama’s highest point.
The sign in the foreground says "Lover’s Leap".

Mountain View Lake was reflecting the sunshine surrounded by a sea of trees.

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28th September 2007

Pretty exciting… tonight Brian and I are getting away to a bed & breakfast, courtesy of a lovely gift certificate.  I’m so excited for a good night’s sleep! We’ll post more later!

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What to do with myself?

25th September 2007

It’s one of those rare mornings when I don’t have anything planned.  Brian just took Analise to preschool, and I’ve got the whole morning free… well, free with Josiah.  I’ve got so many little things I want to do, I’m not sure where to start!  Maybe a shower? 🙂 

We had a quiet weekend around here, which was lovely.  Brian watched the sweeties for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday, so I was able to get out and just be by myself.  I actually just sat at Panera with a lovely coffee drink and my laptop on Saturday.  On Sunday I went to a dance/costume consignment sale and found a few little dance things for Analise to play in. 

Yesterday, the kids and I met Analise’s friend Jacob and his mom at the zoo.  It was fun walking around leisurely and talking, splashing in the water area, having lunch together.  Then we had friends over for dinner, and I made this amazing Southern Living Chicken ‘n Spinach Pasta recipe.  (It’s one of my top 3 favorite recipes now.  I think I’ve made 4 pans of it in the last 6 weeks!) 

So today is quiet, and hopefully I can find a nice balance between getting things done, playing with Josiah, and doing something for myself.  All this after a shower and a little reading in my Beth Moore devotional, Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only.  I’m off!

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Knock, knock… anyone home??

19th September 2007

No, we didn’t fall off the face of the earth.  I’m so sorry I’ve been scarce.  I have been writing blogs in my head, though!  Too bad they never made it to the keyboard…  Where did we leave off?

Yes, Analise’s bike race was incredibly cute and fun.  She was very teary and nervous all afternoon before we left, including getting upset with Josiah for wearing her helmet in the house.  She was saying things like, "I’m never going to be able to pedal (Don’t worry – Daddy will help you!)… I’m going to fall off my bike (Daddy will be right there to catch you!)… I’m never going to win the race (You’re going to do great!)."  When we left our neighborhood, I realized that we’d forgotten her helmet.  She burst into tears, saying "They’re never going to let me race without my helmet!"  Of course, we turned around and got it.  When she got to the start line, though, she was all business.  Brian walked right behind her, but she pedaled herself the whole way, nearly 3/4 of a block.  Another little girl, the daughter of one of Brian’s teammates, rode her little pink trike right next to Analise, and they brought up the rear of the kids race.  They nearly crashed into each other at one point, but the dads got them back on track.  They did so great!  Analise is already asking when she gets to do her next race.

Brian raced later in the evening.  I left the kids at home with a babysitter, and it was so fun to be out cheering him on without having to worry about them.  We also had a HUGE cheering section of friends from church – 15 people!  They were all really surprised at how exciting a criterium race is.  Brian did really well.  He finished 10th over all, winning a "prime" or prize lap of $100.  His teammate placed 8th, and between the 2 of them, they won $375, which they split between all of their teammates in the race.  Brian’s races are more often include the categories Pro/1/2, but this race included 3’s as well, which 4 of his teammates are.  So he had the benefit of racing with them for once.  It was fun to race in front of a hometown crowd!

On Sunday, we headed to Atlanta for another bike race.  Brian was in a stacked field with a bunch of pros.  He raced REALLY well, staying in the top 5 or 10 for the whole race.  He got a little boxed in coming into the finish, and he ended up 15th, but still in the $$$.  He also *just missed* a prime, battling it out to the last inch with a top pro rider.  We wound out the trip with a lovely shopping trip at Trader Joe’s and dinner at a noodle place (didn’t compare at all to Noodles & Company).

Last week was a recovery week, laying low after a super-busy weekend.  This past weekend was lovely, quiet and restful.  We visited Birmingham’s farmer’s market for some fresh food treats.  I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, too.  I’m trying to plan our our meals more regularly so we avoid going out to eat.  I’ve got a blog in the making (or several) with more details about some of the changes we’re making in our eating and some of the *DELICIOUS* meals we’ve had. 

Right now, though, I’ve got to head to bed.  I’ve got a cold, and as usual, we need all the sleep we can get in this house.  Hope to catch up with y’all again sooner rather than later!  

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Video Update

17th September 2007

Here are some random videos that we took on our camera.

(Click on video to watch baby flamingos hop around and chirp).

We went to the zoo right before the start of the Fall semester. One of the higlights of the trip was our first time ever to see baby flamingos being supervised on a "play date" where they got to hop around outside of their normal exhibit area.

(Click on video to watch Josiah run up and down Kid’s Gym).

Last Monday, Josiah and Analise got a chance to play at Kid’s Gym where Analise takes ballet. It was a great opportunity to video tape our bow-legged walker. Sorry the video is sideways and you really can only see his bow-leggedness at the very end of the video.

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Analise’s Big Race

8th September 2007

The pictures say it all … we’ll post more later!

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Little messes, big love

6th September 2007

You can tell from my most recent blogs that I’m a bit pensive, with a lot of deep thoughts on my heart.  So many things on my "to do" list lately, and most never seem to get crossed off.  I’ve got loads of things I want to post for sale on Ebay, tons of outgrown clothes in both Analise and Josiah’s dressers and closets, many of which I’d like to put for sale at the upcoming consignment sale, bookshelves to put in order, and my kitchen needs a deep clean.  

I’m really struggling with being "productive" lately, but on the other hand, I’m trying to remember how "productive" spending good time with my kids really is.  What’s really important?  The laundry will get folded eventually, but each day that passes, my little ones are one day older.  Ebay is always there, but Analise is not going to be asking me to read books forever, and before I know it, my giggly little boy will be too busy for pushing trains and cars down the hallway.  

Analise’s first day of preschool this week.

I’ve had a lot of other things I wanted to blog, lighter things and photos, but the busy moments of life around here keep me from getting the uninterrupted hour I need.  Every time I turn around there’s a mess to be cleaned up, a brewing brother-sister battle to intercede with, or a snack to get.  Here’s some of the highlights from this week…

My little messy man.

Yesterday I set up the wading pool on the backporch with the Little Tykes slide in it for some added fun.  I even set up the baby gate so they couldn’t leave the porch.  I set myself up right inside the door and stole some moments to myself, trying my hand a making bows for Analise’s hair (I made 4!  They’re cute!).  Analise and Josiah entertained themselves while I watched them out of the corner of my eye for nearly an hour.  Analise even noticed my tomato plants needed watering… and I didn’t notice her "helping" until she’d put the 5th or 6th bucket on them!  Josiah played in the dirt a little, but I don’t think he ate too much.  But the fun had to end when Analise poured a container of sunflower bird seed into the pool.  It looked like an oil spill.  They were most unhappy to have the fun ended so abruptly, but we’ll try it again tomorrow.  And I can look forward to sunflowers all around my porch next year.

Josiah’s learned to climb up on the step stool in my kitchen, and he wants whatever is on the counter or kitchen table.  As I was doing dishes Tuesday, I didn’t notice him climb up to the kitchen table and start splashing in my cup of cold coffee.  I found him covered in milky, sugary coffee, with a pool at his feet, and coffee splashed everywhere.  I gated him in the den and cleaned things up.  This was the first time I’ve used the baby gate, and I thought how nice it was to have him confined in a pretty-childproof  area.  He played happily, and I went back to my dishes.  Then I heard a noise that didn’t sound like it came from the den.  Sure enough, the door to the hallway was open, and Josiah was down the hall in Analise’s room.  Talk about a false sense of security!  We’ve now got to slide his heavy little chair over in front of the door to keep him from prying it open.  

We *HAVE* had 2 excellent nights of sleep in a row, though, and I’m hoping for another one tonight. We’re hosting Brian’s cycling team for dinner tomorrow evening, so I’ve got a lot of little things to do to get ready.  Notably, stop stressing out that my house isn’t going to be perfect, and trust that people don’t mind the "lived-in-with-kids" look.  It’s the atmosphere that counts, anyway, right?  Saturday is a big hometown cycling race here in Birmingham, and we’ve got a big crowd of friends that are coming to cheering with me.  I’m really looking forward to it, and Brian’s feeling good and hoping for a great result.  Sunday, we’re going to early church and then heading to Atlanta for an afternoon bike race.  Just another quiet weekend around here!

A few more glimpses of the busybodies…

Saturday, Analise and I made muffins (notice hers with sprinkles, below),
and while they were baking, I let her "bake" with a bowl of flour, sugar,
water, sprinkles and raisins.  She told me she made "pitcher of milk soup".  Yum! 
She had so much fun!  Our muffins were tasty, too, Golden Chocolate Chip Muffins from King Arthur Flour.

One of Analise’s favorite pre-bedtime activities is playing with a new game of ours, Blokus. 
Brian and I have probably only played it the real way twice since we got it this summer,
but Analise loves to sit down with us and create pretty geometric designs.  

The other evening, she wanted to build a church for her "guys".  So we built one, and she set them all up to sing. 
Notice Leo the Little Einstein leading the group with his baton in the air.

Lastly, a couple weeks ago, we went to a bouncy-play place called Pump It Up with Analise’s best friend, Jacob. 
They bounced all over, but spent most of their time on the huge slide.

Josiah enjoyed bouncing, but he got all bounced-out really quick!

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Say a prayer for Central America…

6th September 2007

I completely missed the news earlier this week about Hurricane Felix making landfall as a Category 5 hurricane on the east coast of Nicaragua, in Puerto Cabezas. Yes, it’s a long way from where I spent more than 2 years living and working, but my heart will always be burdened for Nicaragua and Central America. We all remember what damage Hurricane Katrina left as a Category 5 storm 2 years ago here in the US, and I can’t imagine winds of 160 miles an hour battering the tiny wood and tin shacks that many people call home down there.

Here’s ABC News’ most recent update, and a few quotes that hit me…

"Felix swept over the Miskito Coast, an impoverished region where about 150,000 people live in jungle settlements. Their hamlets of wooden shacks and coconut groves are remote even in good weather, reachable only by air or flat-bottom boats."
**(I think "impoverished region" is a relative term when, by American standards, the entire country of Nicaragua would be considered impoverished. This really means, "the poorest of the poor".)

"Many had feared a repeat of the 1998 nightmare of Hurricane Mitch, which stalled over Central America for days, causing floods and mudslides that killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing."
**(I was in Nicaragua just months after Hurricane Mitch, and I know the lasting emotional – and physical – scar that it has left on the people all over the country. Thankfully, this storm doesn’t look to be as devastating, but any hurricane brings fear and leaves the country yet another step backward in their "two-steps-forward-one-step-back" economic struggle."

San Pedro Sula, Honduras is also recovering from the torrential rains, and it has been a "home port" for Mercy Ships for a long time.  Please keep the people of Central America in your prayers as they recover from the storm.

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