Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for May, 2008

Sweet Sibling Moments

30th May 2008

Finally.  There are starting to be more and more peaceful moments between Analise and Josiah, and it sure warms my heart. 

In the car on the way home from preschool last month, I’d given Analise a package of snack crackers to munch on until we got home.  Josiah started campainging for a cracker… "Cwacker, cwacker, peas…"  I nudged Analise to be a a nice sister, "Could you please give Josiah a cracker Analise?"  "No."  "Please, Analise?  It would be so nice of you to share with him."  Then I heard, "Ank ew!"  "Analise, did you share with him?"  "Yes."  And everyone was still happy.  And my heart about burst.

Just yesterday, Josiah was playing basketball with a little hoop hanging in his room.  It was counting the baskets for him, and Analise positioned herself right next to the game and played cheerleader.  It was so cute.  She’d cheer for him, and he’d stop after every basket and cheer, too.  I hope she’ll always be his biggest cheerleader.

There are still plenty of moments of not sharing, chasing, knocking each other around, but it’s so sweet to see the love between them growing.   

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Welcome to the new Toonesalive

29th May 2008

We’ve switched over to WordPress for our family blog. We hope you will enjoy the features that we are able to provide as well as more frequently updated content. Thanks y’all!

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What’s Cookin’ … The Best Buttermilk Pancakes

29th May 2008

We love hot breakfasts in our house, and I’ve tried many pancake recipes.  And really… there’s rarely a bad pancake.  But these are FABULOUS!  I will never again try another pancake recipe.  Seriously, these are so light and fluffy, and they mix together so easily.  I doubled the recipe (for about 18 4-inch cakes).  I added diced bananas in some of them, mini chocolate chips in others, and big fresh blueberries in the rest.  They were all delicious, but the blueberry ones were heaven 🙂  One last tip… I never keep buttermilk on hand.  But for 1 c. buttermilk, you can use 1 T vinegar and add milk to the 1 cup line.  After just a couple minutes, you can stir and see the curling effect. 

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • (I added about a Tbsp of vanilla)

Beat the egg and then add the buttermilk and soda.

Stir in flour,
sugar, oil, baking powder and salt. Stir until blended. Try to get any
lumps out but don’t overdo it on the stirring.

Heat a griddle or frying
pan with a little oil or butter. You want medium heat and for the
oil/butter to be hot but not burned.

Dip out enough batter to make
pancakes about 3 to 4 inches around. You can, of course, make big ones
or little silver dollar sized.

When the edges "set" and have bubbles,
flip the pancakes. As you’re cooking, you’ll probably need to add a
little more oil or butter as you go. Just add small amounts as needed.

You can keep a plate warm in the oven and complete the whole batch.
This recipe makes 8 to 10 medium pancakes.

*Originally from Southern Cuisine

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Wisconsin Adventure with Kristine & Josiah – visiting the Kackerts

27th May 2008

After celebrating my sister Kat’s graduation from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Josiah and I, Grandma and Charlie and Anna piled into the car on Saturday afternoon to start the drive back to Chicago. We drove from Duluth to Black River Falls on Saturday evening. I think we were all very relieved to start the last leg of the car trip on Sunday. Anna entertained Josiah all the way to Madison, where we met her husband, Hal, at Trader Joe’s. Grandma and I stocked up on a few last things and said our goodbyes to Anna. Man, I HATE saying goodbye to my family. I always cry.

We drove to Chicago, where we met my friend Michele (who we met for the first time last year). Her daughter, Emma, and Analise are the same age, and her son, Michael, and Josiah are the same age. We had a wonderful, relaxing afternoon and evening with them. Michele’s husband grilled a fantastic dinner of steaks, and we had baked sweet potatoes, corn (which Josiah LOVED), and some Trader Joe’s wine I didn’t have room in my suitcase to take back.


Michele’s husband has built some great garden beds in their backyard.
The kids hardly noticed any of the other outdoor toys… dirt makes kids happy!


A peace offering… it was tough on Michael to have Josiah on his territory.


Josiah and trains… he was entertained for HOURS with their Brio train table.


A couple morning pictures of my tousle-headed boy in his Little Einstein’s PJs.


Josiah didn’t want watermelon at breakfast, but mid morning,
we looked over to find him devouring what was still on the table.


Playing with the jewels in the treasure box.

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Great Getaway!

27th May 2008

Brian and I were lucky enough to start off our Memorial Day weekend with a trip to Atlanta, just the two of us.  He had wanted to go to a Friday evening criterium (yes, life does revolve around racing), but I wasn’t inclined take the kids for the late night and long drive.  So with a little smooth planning and some gracious free babysitting by his parents, we treated ourselves to an early 5th anniversary trip.  Brian used Priceline.com to get a 4-star hotel – the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead – for well under $100. 

Brian’s race was at 9:45pm, but we were worried about the traffic, so we left just after our kids went down for naps at 2pm.  With all the traveling we do as a family, it really was a treat to be just the two of us.  We can have full conversations, listen to our own music, stop or not stop as we please.  We had an extravagant dinner at Panera, (um, it wouldn’t have been my choice, but Brian got to choose since it was his pre-race meal).  We drove through the fancy schmancy upscale Atlanta neighborhoods on the way to our hotel (Vinings and Buckhead) and saw all kinds of houses for sale, including this one.  Gated estate on 3.5 acres, with 10 bedrooms/10 baths for just under $8.5 million.  Whew!  What do you do with a house like that? 

We checked into our hotel before we headed to the race.  Very nice.  The highlight of the room was the iHome alarm clock/iPod dock.  How cool!  I’m really hoping to get one of those for Christmas to use with my new iPod (which I’m loving).  The view from our 8th floor room was out over the Japanese gardens and waterfall, the huge parking garage, below, where we managed somehow to snag free overnight parking (instead of $17 in the hotel lot), and the pretty skyline of the Buckhead skyscrapers… and construction cranes.  Josiah would have loved that part. 

We headed off to the races with plenty of time to spare.  Instead of entertaining kids while we waited for the race, I got to read my magazines and help Brian get ready to go.  And instead of keeping track of kids and dividing my time between them and the race, I was able to cheer and take photos, though they didn’t turn out so well. 


Brian’s the 3rd blur from the left, right in the center.  Yes, the finish was fast!

I think my favorite part of the weekend was sleeping in, which is unheard of at home with our super-early-birds.  We slept until 9:30, which felt so luxurious.  Then we explored the Japanese gardens and managed a quick photo of ourselves in front of the waterfall. 

After checking out, we drove back through the fancy neighborhood, even stopping off at a garage sale.  Nothing we needed, but there was some really nice stuff, though not the best garage sale prices 🙂  In Vinings, we found a cute little french cafe for a fabulous breakfast and picked up our Starbucks for the trip home.  We made it back just before the kids needed to nap.  Less than 24 hours gone, but it was such a nice break! 

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Best Bread Bake-off: Honey Oat Bread – 4 out of 5 stars!

22nd May 2008

Ok, I’m getting pretty serious about making bread.  We’re loving the taste and freshness of our homemade loaves.  Now I’ve got to get serious about figuring out the right recipe and cooking method.  So welcome to the Best Bread Bake-Off!

I’ve made several different recipes, and I know many of them have been tasty… but I can’t remember quite which ones were good and which weren’t so good.  I actually really prefer to make the dough in the breadmaker and take it out for rising and baking in a loaf pan in the oven.  But that method is hit-or-miss… something isn’t right with my rising technique, and baking the bread in the oven heats up the house, which isn’t a good thing in the hot humid days of summer in a house that’s already 80 degrees.  So I’m going to test the recipes and baking methods over the next few weeks and document my results here.  We’ll find a winner!

Honey Oat Bread
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c. white bread flour (I used equal parts bread flour and white whole wheat.)
  • 1/2 c. raw oatmeal
  • 2 t. yeast

Made in the breadmaker on "white" setting and "light" crust. 
Thoughts – VERY tasty.  Cuts well, nice flavor, not too wheaty.  Crust was perfect.  **** (4 out of 5, though I’m not sure exactly what makes 5 stars… this was pretty darn good.)

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I’m home!!!

22nd May 2008

Well, actually, we’ve been home since Monday evening. Josiah and I had a fabulous trip to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, and we got to spend some really relaxing time with my family. It was very nice to just have one child to look out for, as well as people all around me to entertain him. He was a little charmer, with sweet little conversations in his amazing daily-expanding vocabulary. My sisters taught him to say, "De-WISH-us!" at breakfast one morning. He loved our laughing reactions, and of course, he’ll repeat it 4 or 5 times, waving the de-wish-us item around for dramatic effect. So funny.

I’ve got lots of pictures to resize and post, but for now, I’ll post this link to a fun online scrapbook I created last night.

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Wisconsin Adventure with Kristine & Josiah – Sister time!

15th May 2008

I’m so tired tonight.  After a quiet day yesterday reading a lot and playing with Josiah, I stayed up extra late to wait for Anna to get to my parents’ house.  She got in around midnight, and we had a nice chat until 2am.  Of course, Josiah decided 5am was a great time to start the day, so I’m really wiped today.  He got a nap at 10am, but I chose to go to the coffee shop/store instead.  The buzz from my blended mocha only lasted until about 2 🙂

So J & I are in Two Harbors, Minnesota, 20 miles down the road from Duluth, where my sister, Kat will be graduating on Saturday.  We – with Grandma and Charlie – drove up here after dinner, and we’re staying at Anna’s in-laws house.  Very nice to be in an actual house instead of the hotel we were planning on.

Anna got us all settled in our rooms, we said good night to Grandma & Charlie, and Anna brought out some great iced tea (my favorite Tazoberry, that she used to bring me when she visited me in Nicaragua) and told me she had Starbucks ice cream in the freezer… and Lost was recording on DVR, so we settled in to watch it.  SWEET evening.  We’ve both just chatted with our hubbys – we love you, Hal & Brian! – and we’ll probably crash.  But it’s been a good couple days, and I’ve really appreciated the short bits of time here with Anna.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my other sister, Kat, tomorrow.  I sure miss my sisters!!!   

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Analise’s Big Performance 2008

15th May 2008

Enjoy these pictures and video from Analise’s preschool choir performance last night.

(For those of you with slower connections, you may want to right click on each video and select "Save As" or "Download" to download a copy of the video to your computer before trying to play it.)


Video 1 (14 MB)


Video 2 (22 MB)

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Wisconsin Adventure with Kristine & Josiah, part 2

12th May 2008

Josiah and I are doing well on our own.  I definitely missed spending Mother’s Day with Brian and Analise, though.  Josiah did make my day so sweet by saying (with prompting), "Happy MoDay!"  It’s so cute.  I was surrounded by wonderful mothers – my mom, Grandma, and my dear Aunt Carol (my dad’s sister), which was very precious. 

Friday was busy with the pinning ceremony for Anna’s graduation.  She was the main speaker, and she did a terrific job!  We had a great family dinner, grilled out on Hal & Anna’s patio, before a small reception that Hal put together for Anna’s friends.  Saturday was busy with a champagne toast reception for the graduate students and the actual commencement ceremony, before we all met at a wonderful restaurant in Galena, IL for dinner. 

Josiah’s been amazing for me on this trip.  He’s been so well-behaved, and he stayed with 2 different people while I went to graduation festivities.  He even sat through the nice restaurant dinner, which is so unusual for him.  He’s charming everyone, and talking about EVERYTHING.  He’s still got some stomach and diarrhea issues, every other day or so.  I’m so frustrated by it.  We’ve got to see the doctor when we get home, as the lab tests we were waiting for results from came back negative. 

I was a bit bummed yesterday, bc it felt like I was missing out on the family time due to J’s naps and early bed time.  But I’ve actually NEEDED the naps myself, and last evening I had a nice relaxing time to catch up with my Aunt Carol.  Today I had a short-but-nice morning drink with Anna at Badger Brothers coffee.  Mid-morning we left Platteville for my parent’s house in Shell Lake, with a stop in Madison for Trader Joe’s and Noodles & Company… two of my very favorite places.  AND!  I was finally able to buy 2 bottles of the Charles Shaw (Two Buck Chuck) White Zinfandel wine ($2.99).  I’ve wanted to both times I’ve been at TJ’s in Georgia, but both visits were on Sunday, and they don’t sell alcohol on Sundays.  I also got some yummy sweet potato chips, some mini chocolate peanut butter cups, trail mix that’s a big hit with Josiah, and a box of the 100-calorie milk chocolate bars.  Wow – they’re tasty, and amazingly big for 100-calories! 

Anyway, we made it up here by dinner time, and we enjoyed a TJ’s shrimp stir-fry dinner.  Yum.  Josiah was a trooper on the long drive, even after his DVD player battery died.  He sang songs, looked for big trucks, and kept both Grandma & Charlie busy picking up his cups and giving him snacks while I drove. 

Quiet week here, which I’m looking forward to.  Friday we’ll go to Duluth, MN for my sister, Kat’s, graduation on Saturday.  Then Sunday morning – EARLY – we’ll leave Duluth for the Very Long Drive back to Chicago, where I’m staying with a friend before flying out Monday and Grandma & Charlie will drive on home to LaPorte, Indiana.  Whew – what a journey!!    More chit-chat later this week, and maybe even some photos, if I can find them!!!

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