Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

2015 Wisconsin Christmas

31st December 2015

I had intended to post some pics and videos from our Christmas up in Wisconsin before the end of the year so that I could have at least one post in 2015 on toonesalive — but I forgot! So I’m retroactively posting and re-dating this for 2015. Enjoy!

We hit the tailend of a snowstorm on our way up. There wasn’t much snow, but we did end up an unplowed portion of Hwy 53 between Eau Claire and Shell Lake with an inch or so of new snow. We were driving along at 50mph (getting passed by people going even faster) and hit a deeper patch of snow on the righthand side of the car. This turned the car sideways, which I immediately countersteered (in the direction of the slide) to correct. Unfortunately, the tires grabbed and we slid the other way towards the median. I counter-steered again and this time it straightened out. Fortunately, this second part happened at a highway crossover so there was extra room in the middle otherwise we would have ended up off the road in the middle. This was an exciting end to an 18 hour overnight drive.

It snowed again very lightly a few times while we were up there, but it was mostly dry and about average temps. I got some long mountain bike rides and a few fat bike rides in to take me up over 30,000 miles for the year and complete the Rapha Festive 500. One of the fat bike rides was quite the adventure ending well after dark in light snow, which is fun to watch in a helmet mounted light (looks like a blizzard).

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Sledding fun

1st January 2013

There’s nothing like having a good sledding hill right out the back door. I went with the kids to do some sledding down the hill to the old high school football field and got some good videos — including this first one — a “sledcam” view of me crashing into a ditch and then Josiah crashing into me a few seconds later.

Yesterday, I had a chance to bike back to Shell Lake from the cabin. Along the way I rode over a couple frozen lakes and down the sledding hill at the cabin with the kids. Here’s a bikecam video of me riding over a lake and then bike sledding with the kids:

Here are some more videos from the sledding action this afternoon:

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Analise and Josiah’s first ski race

27th December 2012

We made the 18 hour drive up from Birmingham yesterday, and the kids were so excited to be in the snow that they were skiing and sledding around the house while Kristine and I got caught up on a bit of sleep. Then today we went up to Spooner for a kids 1K ski race – their first ski race. I got lots of pics and videos from the day — here are some of the best…

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Shell Lake gingerbread house fun

30th December 2011

If you are viewing this on Facebook, click on over to our blog to see the photos –

We finally made it to Shell Lake after a lovely three days at the Telemark ski resort. Not much snow here, but that didn’t keep us from having some fun. I rode my bike from Telemark to Shell Lake while Kristine drove a different way. Grandma Sandy took the kids ice skating while Kristine and Poppa Dale got in one more good ski off of Co Rd OO. It turns out that my bike route took me very near to where they were skiing, but I didn’t end up running into them.

After we all made it to Shell Lake, we went to Becky’s for cheese curds and chilli and then off to Alison’s house to decorate gingerbread houses, gingerbread dog houses, and even a gingerbread bunny house. Enjoy the pics from flickr …

If you are having trouble viewing the slideshow, try viewing it on flickr here –

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Nicaragua video collage

12th June 2011

This post has a bunch of videos, so if you are reading this on facebook you will need to view the post on our blog in order to see the videos. Here is the link:

Here is a collage of videos from our trip … enjoy! But before you watch our videos, you should watch the first video below which explains the work of Nuevas Esperanzas in the community of El Ojochal.

Here are all of our videos with descriptions ABOVE each video:

This is a video of a short segment of the road to the El Ojochal community. The road is extremely rugged, but the Toyota Landcruiser is able to make it up and bring supplies for building rainwater harvesting tanks and other projects.

Andrew explains the view that we are seeing around Volcan Telica. The communities of Agua Fria and El Ojochal are high up on the volcano. Agua Fria was temporarily evacuated after the recent eruption. Hopefully it has settled down, but there is no evidence that the magma activity has subsided.

A gecko grabs a moth off the wall right outside our room. These geckos make a sweeting kissing sound when they are calling to each other. They are lightning fast and catch all kinds of insects – if only they ate mosquitoes!

Andrew explains some of the views from our vantage point on a hillside summit overlooking the crater of Volcan Telica.

A member of the El Ojochal community explains some of the challenges with the reforestation project.

Horseback riding from the lower part of El Ojochal to the very top. The road built by Nuevas Esperanzas stops at the school, which is the central part of the community. To get to the highest houses, you have to hike or take a horse. We chose to take a horseback ride up the steep mountain.

Members of Nuevas Esperanzas see one of the bee hives up close. Amazing that team member Erica (in the white shirt) didn’t even have gloves on!

Enrique from the Nuevas Esperanzas team explains to us the gardening project.

El Ojochal preschool (3-5 yr olds) kids welcome us with a short song.

More video of the drive up to El Ojochal on the road built by Nuevas Esperanzas.

A collage of videos from the arsenic project in the communities of Nuevas Amanecer and La Union.

Video of the school in the community of Nueva Amanecer – plus view of the El Ojochal hillside.

Riding in the back of the truck to Nueva Amanecer and La Union.

Anna plays a very large game of hopskotch after church.

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Nicaragua good-bye for now!

9th June 2011

If you had told me last week how much we would accomplish in our short visit to Nicaragua, I would not have believed you! What an amazing visit this has been seeing this beautiful country, seeing the impact of Nuevas Esperanzas on the communities of El Ojochal through the effective long-term development strategies being implemented in projects as diverse as rainwater harvesting and beekeeping. Yesterday was a special opportunity to worship alongside most of the entire Nuevas Esperanzas team during Friday tea (moved to Wednesday to accomodate our tight timeframe). With Leo on the guitar, Andrew on the trumpet, and Emma on the flute it was a special time of reflection thinking of what we are thankful for and for what we would petition God for Nuevas Esperanzas.

Before the photos, some maps of where we went on Monday and Tuesday … on Monday, we spent the day in the communities of La Union and Nueva Amanecer

Tuesday was our day full of hiking, horse-back riding up a steep volcano hillside, beekeeping, and meeting people from the community of El Ojochal.

Only a few more pictures to post from our day full of meetings and reflection yesterday including a very early bike ride to the beach. I’ll be posting several videos over the weekend.

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Nicaragua Day 5

8th June 2011

What an amazing day today was at El Ojochal del Liston on the side of the Volcan Telica here in Nicaragua. We saw firsthand all of the project work that Nuevas Esperanzas has been doing in the community – road building, rainwater harvesting, gardening, beekeeping, and reforestation. It was quite the adventure as told by all the captions in the pictures below!

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Day 3 – more pics

5th June 2011

Great day today here in Nicaragua. I started out with a 45 mile bike ride, spent the morning catching up with board members who arrived late last night, and spent the early afternoon working with Leo on our Joomla vs. WordPress decision. Then at 5pm, we headed over to La Iglesia San Sebastian for mass where Andrew and Emma were playing in the worship band. The whole experience was surreal as we worshipped in Spanish in a church rebuilt on the grounds of a church that was bombed during the Sandanista revolution in the 70s. Afterwards, everybody from the board gathered at Luke and Stephanie’s house for a cookout and an excellent time of relaxing and reconnecting.

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Pictures on the way down to Nicaragua

4th June 2011

After an awesome night’s sleep, we spent a leisurely morning with Jane and Andrew followed by a working afternoon exploring the website framework options for Nuevas Esperanzas — Joomla or WordPress. Both of have great features, but which will be better in the long term? Hoping to have that question answered in the next couple days! Also, Luke and I went to the market and bought a bike. Hoping to ride out (and possibly partway up) a volcano (Casitas) in the morning.

Great flight on the way down to Nicaragua – flew over lots of really cool places – downtown Nashville, Sand Mountain/Lookout Mountain southwest of Chattanooga near Mentone, Stone Mountain in Atlanta, a nuclear power plant (I think), Cape Canaveral, West Palm Beach, Miami Beach, Miami, the Florida Keys, Cuba, and finally directly into Nicaragua (at night in thunderstorm). Here are the pics!

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Freezing rain fun

1st January 2011

Today, we had some really interesting weather – 21 degrees and raining! Yes, the freezing rain that started right around dinner time was treacherous. Within 15 minutes, you could barely walk to the car and drive a couple blocks down the street to the sledding hill. So imagine how fast the sledding hill was. On the first run, I started Analise halfway down the little hill and she still went straight into the woods. So I started Josiah a lot lower, and he still went into the trees, too! Fortunately, there was some deeper snow and smaller brush to slow them down before plowing into any of the big trees! We went over to the big hill and only managed one crazy run each starting from near the bottom of the hill. Analise still flew at least two feet into the air on her first run and landed hard enough to knock both of her boots right off her feet. Fortunately the landing also scrubbed most of her momentum. After watching this, I took Josiah down the hill practically to the bottom, let him go, and he still went nearly all the way down to the football field. We decided it was way too dangerous to continue. You could probably hit 30-40mph with the right sled starting from the top if you could steer it down the path to the football field!

Video of Analise and Josiah sledding into the woods (watch on our blog if you are reading this in Facebook):

Playing on the snowy playground at Salem Lutheran church a block from the Cardwell house.

Josiah swinging on the playground. The swing was looped once around the top to raise it high enough above the snow.

Visiting Mark and Meg and their kids at their cabin near Hayward, WI

Analise with her boots knocked off after flying through the air sledding

Kristine getting the kids started towards the bottom of the little hill at the top

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