Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for February, 2011

Analise’s Daisy Scout Troop at the International Tea

26th February 2011

Trying to post the video of the girls dancing to Shakira’s “We Are Africa”. More details and pics later… Leave me a comment if you can see the video!

YouTube Video

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Measuring the passage of time

20th February 2011

Today is the third Sunday in February, which, according to our family calendar, is the first bike race of the season. It’s actually a training race, but everyone treats it like a real race. And every year, it takes me back to being at this race in previous years with my kids. I can measure the passage of time by the memories.

Six years ago, I sat on the side of the road with a newly-crawling 7-month old (see the photo of a photo… from my kitchen). This year, I have two independent kids, 4 1/2 and 6 1/2. They climbed on the playground, played frisbee, built fairy houses, slid down the slides, cheered right alongside me.

They only called me to help them across the monkey bars (and Analise is SO CLOSE to being able to do it by herself. Amazing.) and get them started on the swing (and both of them can pump their legs to keep themselves going). So I sat and reminisced, cheered for the race, wrote a blog on my phone (which got lost. Twice. They were both much more eloquent than this), appreciated my amazing growing kids.

No diaper bags, no tantrums, no whining, no changing diapers in the backseat of the car, no mad dashes to the bathroom, no keeping kids from dashing into the road.

Reasonable, fun capable kids, who were really a pleasure to be with. Love them. Thank you, Lord. It’s going to be a great season.

PS. Brian and his teammate rode across the line 1-2, hand-in-hand, more than a minute ahead of the rest of the group. On par with my technology-cursed day, I missed the awesome photo moment. Ug. But yay Brian and Pat! It is going to be a great season!

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A Handsome Little Dude

18th February 2011

Today Josiah had a 50’s Hop at preschool. The boys were to dress like The Fonz and the girls were to wear poodle skirts. The classes headed to the gym for some old school dancing. They were so cute! You can’t tell, but Josiah’s hair was slicked back and his pants were rolled up. What a handsome little dude! You can see the dancing in action (and Josiah playing the air guitar) here:

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Team Moon-Toone completes the Mercedes Half-Marathon

14th February 2011

Yesterday was a great day for the Moon and the Toone families! Kristine and Kim have been inspiring each other and training together, and it all came together yesterday with thousands of others at the Mercedes Half-Marathon. Lennie and I loaded up the kids into the Moon mini-van and headed to Mile 8 on Highland Avenue to wait for them to come running by. For about 20 minutes straight, the kids rang their cow bells and generated quite a lot of smiles on the runners who saw them – including our very own Team Moon-Toone. Check out the photos and videos below. If you are reading this on Facebook, then watch the videos by clicking here to read this post on our blog.

Video of the 2011 Mercedes Half Marathon Team Moon-Toone Cheering Squad at Mile 8

Video of the 2011 Mercedes Half Marathon Team Moon-Toone Finish

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Snow day today! Pictures and video

10th February 2011

A couple inches of beautiful snow last night meant a couple hours delay to the start of the school day for Analise and Josiah. We walked as a family over the hill and through the woods to both schools, and the kids enjoyed the walk. But before that, they enjoyed sledding in our yard even more! And Josiah ate maybe a pound of snow on the way into school. All that and more in the pictures and videos below. If you are reading on facebook, then watch the videos and see all the pictures on our our blog.

First, the beautiful falling snow from last night.

Sledding, part I.

Sledding, part II.

Walking to school through the snow.

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This Super Bowl Party brought to you by The Packers, Wisconsin Cheese and Chipotle

5th February 2011

I don’t think I could be more excited for The Big Game tomorrow!  The last time the Packers won the Super Bowl, I was recovering from surgery on my couch in our UW-Green Bay apartment.  My parents were there for the weekend, and I watched the game from a pain-medicine haze during our small “party”.  My parents told me that driving back to their downtown hotel after the game, the streets were filled with excited Packer fans, and it was almost as if the game had been played in Green Bay!

This year, I’ve been hoping for the chance to do a Super Bowl party with each post-season Packer win.  But after the nail-biter of a NFC Championship game, I told Brian I wasn’t sure I’d be a good hostess given how stressed I get during the game!  But Brian wanted to have a party, so it’s on! I have warned everyone, though, that if they want to see normal me, they’ll come at 5, before the game starts at 5:30!

So, in an effort to save myself clicking all over the internet to find my recipes, I’m going to post them all here.  AND… I got a call from Chipotle that I won 25 burritos for Sunday evening!  How awesome is that?  Along with the 10lbs of fresh Wisconsin cheese my parents sent, this is going to be a DELICOUS party!!

Easy Cheese Appetizer (from the lovely Beauty and Bedlam -it’s essential to click over to see how delicious this looks!!)

  • 1 envelope of Good Seasons Italian Dressing
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 TB water
  • 2 TB minced green onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 12 oz package Monterrey Jack
  • 12 oz package Sharp Cheddar
  • 8 oz package cream cheese (not softened)
  • 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained

Mix 1st six ingredients together.
Cut cheeses into small squares and arrange in an alternate pattern.
Pour pimentos over cheeses then pour dressing mix over all.
Marinate overnight in fridge.
Drain excess dressing (optional). For optimum presentation, draining the dressing “may” be recommended, but for the most delicious factor, excess dressing is yummy. icon wink Easy Cheese Appetizer Recipe   Yummy Marinated Cheese Appetizer
Serve with crackers. (Since the layers are cheese, cream cheese, cheese, it’s easy to get on the cracker, but keep a fork near by to assist if necessary.)

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites (from Two Peas and their Pod… definitely click over to see how good these look! I am SO EXCITED to make these with some fresh Wisconsin cheese sauce for dipping!)

Soft Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the Pretzels: Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure they are not touching.  Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Serve with cheese sauce, recipe below.

Cheddar cheese sauce:
½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

For the cheese sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese until smooth and all of the cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

*If you want to make cinnamon and sugar pretzel bites-instead of adding salt, sprinkle the bites with cinnamon and sugar. For the frosting mix-soft cream cheese-about 3 T, powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a little bit of milk. Whisk together. Add more milk if it is too thick, if it is too thin, add more powdered sugar. I don’t measure. I just guess until the consistency is right.*

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Pizza Dippers (using my tried-and-true deep dish pizza crust/breadstick recipe)

Rotel Dip (with sausage, just for my love)

Chocolate Scotcheroos

Fresh cheese curds (was dying to make my own hot, fried cheese curds, but that would be a bit too much to undertake given I’ve never fried anything in my life!)

Leinenkugel’s beer (hard to find in Alabama!!)

If you’re around, you’re welcome to join us!  The more the merrier… as long as you’re cheering for the Pack 🙂

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Christmas Tree Takedown 2011

3rd February 2011

Today was the big day … Christmas tree takedown 2011. Reading by the Christmas tree lights is a fun activity of mine, so I might have to hold off on reading until next Christmas now that the tree is finally down. I thought I would post a few pictures from the snow/sleet/freezing rain today (perfect sign that it’s still winter) along with videos of the kids singing by the Christmas tree. A fitting end to the Christmas tree season at the Toone household – just in time for the Packers super bowl party this Sunday!

(If you are reading this on Facebook, then watch the videos below on our blog page –

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Where I’m at… and a Vanilla Pumpkin Muffin recipe

1st February 2011

Man, if only you could hear all the blog posts I have written in my head!  This blog would be full of honest thoughts, real struggles, and gracious inspiration.  But alas… I’ve not moved any of these thoughts from my head to the keyboard.  I do want to start somewhere, though, and this rainy February evening is a perfect place.

I can’t believe it’s 2011.  And February already!  Crazy!  And I can’t believe I have a 6 1/2 year old and a 4 1/2 year old.  Honestly, every time I see Analise after being away from her for a bit, my breath is taken away by how amazing it is that she’s so tall, bouncy and beautiful.  Singing, dancing, full of lots of smart thoughts, amazing at math, learning really great penmanship, SOOOOooo creative (which means endless paper clippings, lots of tape, and all kinds of craftiness). It amazes me how much she can understand of things, far more than I give her credit for.  She learns so quickly.  And Josiah… my little guy who is not little at all.  He’s sprouting up and his ankles and wrists are showing so I’ve got to put some of his too-small clothes away.  He plays so well with his cars, airplanes and trains.  He’s got such a great imagination.  He’s an AMAZING cyclist, legs spinning so fast on his tiny bike, barreling down the hills, through the woods.  And he’s so full of love.  Ah… just yesterday I leaned across him to buckle the seatbelt (in his new booster seat), and he wrapped me in a big hug.  And as siblings… they are just amazing.  I love it.  My mom-heart is about bursting lately.  Thank you, Lord, for so much love and friendship between these two.

So I’m busy, as we all are.  But I’m really prioritizing.  God first, which means I’m really pouring myself into two awesome discipleship Bible studies with some AMAZING women.  So thankful for them! Digging into God’s Word, and so thankful for how full it is of life and truth and grace.  Memorizing scripture, right now in James, and it’s feels so good to have the Word hidden in  my heart.  Trying hard to quiet my heart more often and draw into prayer.  It’s such a balm to the soul.  And though I feel like I’m so busy, THIS amazing post has brought me to my knees and helped me realize nothing I am doing on this earth is more important than prayer. I’m reading One Thousand Gifts (by the author of that post), and it’s drawing me to a heart of gratitude.  So much to be thankful for!  All joy flows from our gratitude… (more great thoughts in this short post).  Joy could be a good word to describe my heart lately. *peaceful sigh*

So God first, my amazing husband second, our kids third.  They are such a joy right now.  I have loved being a mother, but the early years were exhausting, crumb-covered, and blurred by baths, sleepless nights, tantrums, diapers and messes.  We’re past all that, and I am just really, really loving it, loving every minute of it, making a point of enjoying the crazy moments when they’re leaping off the couch like they’re not supposed to, making some messy, heavily-taped creative project (after which I will surely find myself out of tape at an inopportune time!), or even breaking up disagreements and trying to find peaceful, loving resolutions.  God is so in every single moment, and I’m so thankful.

And so because I’m choosing all these other things first, very honestly, my house is cluttered, and lived in/loved in, with endless to-do projects.  I wish it wasn’t, but such is life.  And no apologies, because I’m so happy with where God has me.  Some women can find balance in prioritizing God, their marriages, their family, and keeping life and house in order.  They have my full respect, and most of the time, I wish that were me.  But it’s not, and so instead of being frustrated with myself, I’ll tackle the most important things, and fit the rest in without wearying myself.  And if you happen to come over tomorrow, you might still find a sparkling Christmas tree lighting your way through our window.  Yes, it is February, and yes, it’s on my to-do list (um, hopefully before the Super Bowl party on Sunday! Go Packers! Or maybe I’ll just throw on couple strands of green and gold lights…).  But while it’s here, we’re still enjoying it, especially Brian, who has sat by it and read something like 8 books (Harry Potter series and the 1st Lord of the Rings book) since it’s been up! He’s really trying to convince me it needs to stay up until he finishes the whole LOTR series, but I’m not on board with that. Yet.

If you’re still with me, I’ll reward you with my absolute favorite, easiest new muffin recipe.  Made it twice last week, and if I had another cake mix, I’d have another batch ready in 10 minutes for a pre-bedtime snack.

Vanilla Pumpkin Muffins (from Bake at 350)

1 15-oz can of pumpkin

1 french vanilla cake mix

2 egg whites (made it with one egg instead, tastes the same)

sparkling sugar (not a necessity, but it really makes them lovely!)

Click on over and scroll down to the 2nd recipe, and then you’ll get to see her lovely picture.  These taste like cupcakes.  My picky-eater gobbled these up, and asked for them in her lunch.  Enjoy!

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