Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for 2010

Final day at Heartwood Cabin

30th December 2010

Today was our final day at the Heartwood Cabin we had been staying at. Even though we woke up to a light misty rain, Kristine and her dad were able to get in another good (albeit slushy) round of skiing while Analise went ice skating, and Josiah and I went sledding. Right now, we are back in Shell Lake where the rain has started to mix with snow, and there is a forecast of maybe an inch or two of snow overnight.

If you are reading this on Facebook, click here to watch the videos on our blog.

Kristine cross country skiing in the light rain (video):

Josiah flying down the sled hill (video):

Josiah happily waiting to go sledding

Grandma Sandy escorting Analise through the mud, ice, and slushy snow to the basketball court

Analise ice skating on a very wet basketball court

Kristine and the kids at the lodge where Kristine and I had our wedding reception seven and a half years ago

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More winter fun – sledding, skating, skiing, and snowmobiling

29th December 2010

If you are reading this on facebook, then visit the post on our family blog to watch the videos –

Tubing/sledding video:

Ice skating video:

Skiing video:

Snowmobiling video: (this wasn’t us, but it is still pretty cool!)

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More sledding videos and pics, ice skating and family, too

28th December 2010

Analise and Josiah had such a blast this morning sledding. I posted one quick video earlier today, but here are a few more really good videos of them having fun. We went sledding for almost two and a half hours without them even once complaining about the cold. They were having so much fun!

Analise super far sled almost to the football field video:

Josiah and Analise on the big hill video:

Two person sled launching on the big jump (at the very end of the video):

Josiah before his first trip down the side hill

Josiah legs up in the air on a run down the big hill

Josiah legs STILL up in the air on a run down the big hill

Analise flying down the big hill

After lunch, we packed up and headed even farther into the northwoods to a rural retreat center where we are having a mini-vacation tonight. Kristine and her dad went skiing for over an hour on the trails while the kids played legos inside. I biked up from Shell Lake to join everyone shortly before dinner. Then after a fancy dinner, we went ice skating – Josiah’s first time on skates.

Ice skating on the basketball court video:

Analise and Kristine at dinner

Ice skating on the basketball court

Snuggling on the couch in the cabin after a long day of playing

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Quick video of sledding

28th December 2010

We are heading out the door for a mini-adventure in an even more rural area of Wisconsin, but this morning we had an awesome time sledding for nearly two hours! Here’s one quick video of Analise and Josiah on the hill next to Grandma Sandy and Papa Dale’s house!

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Splashing and swimming in Wisconsin in the winter?

27th December 2010

Yes, it’s possible – but only if you can find an indoor pool! One of the attractions in Shell Lake is the indoor pool complete with a couple water slides at the town’s only hotel. Kristine and Grandma Sandy took the kids today to meet up with our friends Allison and Judi for an afternoon of swimming and sliding fun. See the pictures and video below!

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Winter Wonderland from Alabama to Wisconsin

27th December 2010

From a snowy white Christmas in Alabama all the way to a winter wonderland in Shell Lake, Wisconsin

Josiah holds up his sled on the back porch

Analise and Kristine take a self-portrait while skiing

We are having a blast up here in Wisconsin. It was a long drive, but the kids have already gone sledding and skiing! See the pictures and video above.

We made it out of Alabama just in time – staying to have a nice relaxing white snowy Christmas morning with family followed by a drive up to Nashville to hang out with our cousins before finishing the rest of the drive up to Wisconsin to spend a week with Kristine’s parents in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. We heard that the roads in Alabama Saturday night and Sunday were treacherous. The roads must have literally been freezing behind us as we headed north.

As soon as we left our house and climbed up to the top of Vestavia Hills, there was quite a bit of snow coming down, much more than we had expected. There was maybe a half inch to an inch accumulating on the grass and even a little bit on the roads (Vestavia Drive / Shades Crest Rd). The snow died down a bit as we headed north on I-65, but the snow that had fallen earlier was amazing (see the picture and video below).

Wisconsin or Alabama? Actually, it’s Alabama on I-65 just north of Cullman!

We had a great time visiting our cousins in Franklin, TN just outside of Nashville. The kids were happy to play inside with all their new toys while we chatted over some yummy snack foods. Kristine and I tried Boiled Custard for the first time, and it was delicious!

Analise and Lily put on a fashion show for us. This was the Christmas line-up.

All the kids in front of the Christmas tree (Left to Right: Josiah, Analise, Lily, Levi, and Luke)

It snowed the entire time we were in Franklin, and this is the view outside our cousin’s back porch.

It snowed the entire time we were in Nahville, and the roads were very slick. We saw several accidents on I-65 including one car that swerved from the southbound lanes all the way across the median and then across the northbound lanes immediately in front of us finally coming to a rest just off the shoulder of the road pointing in our direction. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been for them.

As soon as we crossed into Kentucky, the slick roads simply became a little less slick because of all the salt on the roads. Then by the time we made it to Indiana, everything was dry and we were able to make up time all the way to Chicago. Josiah woke up as we made it into town, so he got to see several trains, several subways “L trains” and the tall skyscrapers including the Sears Tower. Once we made it through downtown and out towards the O’Hare airport, we got caught up in quite a Lake Effect snowstorm. This is us driving on I-90 near the O’Hare airport and Elk Grove Village.

Lake Effect snow in Chicago – approaching the tollbooth

As soon as we made it out of the snowstorm, it was pretty uneventful all the way to the Wisconsin Dells which we made it to by 5:45AM. We slept for a few minutes in the parking lot outside McDonalds and then went in at 6AM for a breakfast.

Wisconsin cheese – mmmm, mmmm good!

As the sun rose and we left for the final 3 hour stretch, we were greeted with snow everywhere AND cold, cold, cold temps. Check out the temperature sequence on our car thermometer as we went descending down into one of the lower valleys.

Finally, it wouldn’t have been a 20 hour drive w/o capping it off with a 60 mile bike ride. Read all about it on my cycling blog soon.

Heading out to go biking (me) and sledding (Papa Dale and the kids)

Opening presents at Grandma Sandy and Papa Dale’s house!

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Gatlinburg ACM Conference 2010

19th December 2010

So this post is about a month late, but after seeing some of the pictures and videos, I thought “better late than never”. We had a great trip up to Gatlinburg in early November. The fall colors were absolutely beautiful, and the kids enjoyed the snow at the top of Clingman’s Dome. My conference went well, and I got a chance to do some fun biking, too.

Welcome to Gatlinburg video – Kristine and the kids at the Pancake House while I’m at the ACM conference.

Riding the Ober-Gatlinburg gondola.

Josiah videos Analise and Kristine riding the chair swings at Ober-Gatlinburg. Josiah was not old enough to ride with them. He did a great job on the video though!

Analise ice skating at Ober-Gatlinburg

Very short snowball fight on Clingman’s Dome

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Briarwood Walkthrough Nativity

11th December 2010

Briarwood Presbyterian, one of the churches less than a mile from our house, puts on a walk-through nativity every Christmas. We have enjoyed our yearly trek through the Nativity. It is very exciting for the kids with live animals and live people acting out the story of the birth of Jesus. We went on Thursday evening with friends and had a great time. Check out some of our pictures from the evening!

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And this is Advent…

28th November 2010

Today starts my favorite time of the year.  Advent… the waiting, the anticipating, the looking forward to the coming King.  I so appreciate growing up in the Lutheran church that celebrated the Sundays of Advent, and now celebrating it daily in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas with our family is one of my favorite traditions.

I always have high hopes… to be organized and ready when this first Sunday of Advent arrives, to see my family quietly soaking up the Word in the candlelight, to not let this daily tradition get lost in the busyness of the Christmas rush, to let this be a jumpstart for our family devotional time.

And of course, this first Sunday of Advent begins like most, with me scrambling through the boxes in the basement looking for the Advent box. Surely I’ve kept the Advent wreath/candles/devotional in one WELL-MARKED box that’s easy to access, haven’t I?  Every year after Christmas I promise I will… No luck tonight in finding it.

And the “real” Advent in the Toone home begins. Instead of our Advent wreath with 5 candles, I light candles around our Willow Tree nativity scene.  We gather on the couch and talk about hope (the theme for the first Sunday of Advent).  Brian reads 1 Peter 1:3-5 about our blessed hope, some of my favorite verses, and I hope that my 6- and 4-year old will have a lightbulb moment and understand how hoping in Christ is so much greater than hoping in the world.    Analise wiggles and coughs, Josiah plays with sunglasses and can’t sit still next to Brian, and of course, at some point I speak sharply about all the annoying wiggles.  *sigh… grace, grace… * We share what we hope for, and after I share that I hope we’ll all love Jesus more this Christmas, both kids hope for something  from Santa. *another sigh* No sacred quiet meditations and deep spiritual awakenings tonight.  But this is Advent in real life, in my crazy wonderful family.

I hope I’ll be able to find my Advent wreath.  I hope we might have some lightbulb moments this Advent as we remember this Christmas is NOT about us.  I hope that our family will be drawn to this quiet time looking towards our great and glorious Hope. I hope that we’ll put this family time first in the busyness, but I’ll also cloth myself in grace.  And I hope this Advent will turn our family hearts more towards Christ, not just this season, but every day.

***Today one of my favorite, favorite blogs, A Holy Experience, has posted a free Jesse Tree Advent devotional if you subscribe to her daily email (which is AMAZING!!).  A Jesse Tree (please forgive my basic explanation – she does it much better!) is a tree branch with ornaments that all symbolize Christ.  We read the devotional tonight, perfect for young and old alike, and I’m looking forward to getting our Jesse Tree started tomorrow.  The devotional booklet is BEAUTIFUL, and it would make the perfect way to celebrate Advent in your home.  It includes printed ornaments that can be cut out and hung each day.  Hope you’ll choose to enjoy it with us!

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Another Cahaba Lake Adventure

28th November 2010

When we bought our house in 2005 with awesome help and guidance from Patsy Martens, we didn’t realize what a true gem we had found. Walking distance to school, to church, to a dog park, to a grocery store, to a lake with a hiking trail. This is just so unheard of in Birmingham where everything is spread out and the car culture is so deeply ingrained. Today’s adventure was brought to you by a hike, walk, bike, and run through the woods, past the school, past the church, past the fire station, and to the Cahaba Lake hiking trail. See the photos and videos below. Hover over each photo to see a caption.

Dancing on a rock

Riding around the lake on the trails

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