Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for December, 2006

Another Friday morning…

11th December 2006

(catching up again, from this past Friday morning…)  We’re settled in our warm house, safe from the "extreme cold" outside – currently 17 degrees, with a windchill of 6 degrees!  Whew!  I know for most of you that isn’t bad, but it’s chilly, specially for Brian riding to work. 

Yesterday was a nice relaxing day while Analise was at Mother’s Day Out.  (By the way, she’s stayed dry the whole time she was at school both Tuesday and Thursday.  Woohoo!)  Josiah came with me to help pack Christmas stockings for children at the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home with the women of my missions group.  It is so fun to pack each stocking full of toys, candy and fun things for these kids.  I love that aspect of the Christmas season (we try to do it all year round, but it’s especially prevalent with others at Christmas).  There are so many opportunities to reach out and give.  It feels so good!  We put together our traditional Operation Christmas Child boxes for Analise and Josiah to send to kids their age through Samaritan’s Purse.  Analise gets to bring a gift for needs posted on an Angel Tree at her school.  Her Wednesday night Mission Friend’s group helped pack the stockings this past Wednesday, and next week they’re having a birthday party for Jesus.  They get to bring baby gifts for a crisis pregnancy center.  I really hope we can raise our children with an attitude of excitement towards opportunities to give, both of their things, money, time and themselves.  

While Analise was at school, Josiah took a good long nap and I made homemade blackberry muffins.  MMMmmm.  This is the BEST muffin recipe (hopefully, I’ll post it soon, with all the other recipes I’ve promised myself)!  The blackberries were frozen from the Black and Blue festival we went to when Josiah was just a week old.  He’ll be 6 months tomorrow.  Crazy how time flies!  

Funny note… We keep noticing that our clock is off in the mornings.  The other morning, it said 5:24 from about 4am on.   I assume Brian is hitting buttons when he’s snoozing/resetting the alarm to sleep a little extra.  This morning, though, the clock is nearly half an hour fast.  Hmm.  I think in his asleep-state, he’s resetting the time instead of the alarm!  Poor guy.  He’s working so hard getting caught up on grading, making up tests, designing a website and attending student stuff.  He was gone Monday, Wednesday and last night for work stuff.  We’ll all breath a sigh of relieve when Dec. 16th rolls around the sememster is wrapped up. 

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(catching up) Good Friday morning!

11th December 2006

(Haha… I started this LAST Friday – more than a week ago!  I just sat down to write a quick blog, and thought maybe I’d better finish this and post it!  It’s like a trip back in time:))

Whew – it’s just been a busy week (*the week after Thankstiving), and I’m finally getting the time to pull a blog together.  Nothing too exciting happening.  I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping online, and I took advantage of a few of the sales on Thanksgiving weekend (Friday and Saturday evenings to avoid the craziness).  That makes us just about done with our Christmas shopping, which is a lovely relief.  On the other hand, I’ve got family pictures that need to be put in the mail with Christmas cards.  And of course, I have high intentions to do a Christmas letter (probably largely electronic so I can link to interesting blog highlights).  I REALLY need to do this since my last one (or 2??) didn’t really make it out.  Or maybe some of them did, I can’t remember!  The point is, I need to "reach out and touch" some of these people that might think I’ve taken them out of my address book, even though they keep sending me cards!  The last project is a little thing Brian and I started on, and it would be so fun to get it done in time for christmas, but we’ll have to see about that.  

Speaking of Brian… he’s doing really well.  For a couple weeks, he was feeling like his legs were really tired, probably from the Ironman.  And he had all kinds of mysterious aches and pains.  But I think he’s finally recovered.  He’s pretty close to logging 10,000 miles on his bike for the year.  I’m sure he’ll post a picture of his bike computer after it turns over into 5 digits:)

Thanksgiving weekend was very relaxing for us.  We just spent some down time as a family around the house.  We all needed it after the travel of the past few weeks.  I did a little cooking!  Thanksgiving dinner didn’t create enough leftovers for me, so I cooked my own turkey breast in the slow cooker.  I’ve never done that before, but it worked WONDERFULLY!  Put it in the am -before church – and come to a lovely, turkey-scented home and whip up a nice dinner with some Stove-top stuffing, instant mashed potatoes and leftover Cheesy Green Bean Casserole (my new favorite holiday casserole). It was juicy, and the meat fell off the bone, leaving us with leftovers for the whole week.  

So with the leftovers, I made my favorite turkey leftover meal, Turkey Noodle Casserole – excellent, as usual – on Tuesday night and Turkey Chili – still searching for the right recipe, this wasn’t quite it – on Friday night.  I’ll post the Turkey Noodle Casserole recipe soon – they’re in progress on my desktop!

…while Analise was playing with her little Pooh and friends: "I know, sweet girl, you have to go to sleep."  (This the day after she’d taken an hour to fall asleep and I’d been in there quieting her down several times, saying exactly that.)

…after Analise has gotten back into the car after Mother’s Day Out, seeing Josiah in his car seat, "He’s such a handsome boy!"

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Tales of a Christmas Tree

10th December 2006

Setting up the tree was quite a memorable experience.  In our 3 years of marriage, we’ve only ever used a little 3-foot fiber optic tree that we got in California.  It was simple and beautiful, easy to put up, take down and small enough to put on a table out of reach of a toddler.  Easy was the best part, though, since I’ve been pregnant 2 of 3 Christmases!  This year I was ready for a full-sized tree.  Having grown up with live trees – which we’d cut ourselves as a family, I know the pros and cons of that option.  But here in Alabama, there aren’t too many places to cut your own.  And once again, I think with 2 little ones, "easy" is still something we’re aiming for!  We inherited an artifical tree from Brian’s grandma that was in storage in our shed, so that sounded like the perfect option.  No keeping the water filled, no struggling to get it straight because the bottom wasn’t cut level, no needles falling off (my favorite!), and no allergies flaring from dried pine needles.  I was excited about having a pretty tree with much less work.  

Brian found our tree out in our shed, with a whole chewed in the bottom of the box.  Looked like a mouse had made a little nest amongst the branches.  It was vaguely reminiscent of one of my favorite books as a child, The Christmas Mouse.  We’re going to have to find that one so Analise can enjoy it.  Anyway, the tree needed to be shaken out which Brian did outside, but fake pine needles, pieces of cardboard and a mouse dropping our two still ended up on the floor.  *sigh*  It took surprisingly longer for Brian to put it together than I expected (I think I hadn’t imagined that you’d have to assemble it branch-by-branch), and then I had to "fluff" all the branches out so it didn’t look like it had been in storage all year.  Of course, the dusty tree riled up my allergies… *sigh* 

We had my pretty homemade-by-my-mom tree skirt all laid out and the tree all fluffed when his parents came to visit the next night.  The tree was NOT up to standards of Brian’s dad (although we thought it was fine).  He thought it was unstable – and crooked, in his eyes, and they proceeded to spend more than an hour trying to remedy the situation, essentially un-fluffing and causing the tree to drop a bunch more fake pine pieces.  *sigh*  Finally, the next day (day 3 of the Christmas Tree Tale) his dad brought over a different tree stand that worked much better.  Then I had to re-fluff, put on the lights, fluff again, sweep again, arrange the skirt, and FINALLY it was ready.  WHEW!  I honestly think a live tree is probably easier, at least compared to our experience this year!  You can see the pictures of our fun evening of tree-trimming here.  We’re enjoying it, so it’s all the hassle has been worth it. 

Oh yeah – my Dad called later that week and to tell me he’d decided to wait to set up the Christmas tree at their house until we got there.!  We can compare our adventure to the snowy-cut-down-your-own-live-tree experience up North. 

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I can’t seem to finish anything!

9th December 2006

There are 2 half-written blogs saved in text files on my desktop.  I’m too ambitious… they’re full of little notes of stories and recipes I wanted to expand on, and maybe even include pictures.  But I can’t seem to get back to them to finish.  Just like the 2 open emails that I started to motivate myself to let these poor people know I hadn’t ignored their letters…  And now here I am to try to get something posted, and Josiah just woke up.  So much for my quiet evening time.  Gotta run!    But I’m gonna post this anyway just so there’s SOMETHING new here…        

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Date night!

6th December 2006

Brian and I stole away for a little date night last night.  It was sweet!  We splurged with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, always one of our favorites.  Brian had a new dish called Bang-Bang Thai Chicken and Shrimp.  He said it was one of the best things he’s ever tasted!  I had my usual – Shrimp and Bacon Club Sandwich.  I’ve had that every time I’ve ever eaten there… it’s so tasty.  Of course, we enjoyed some cheesecake.  Brian had White Chocolate Caramel Latte and I had Tiramisu Cheesecake.  Lovely.  I’m looking forward to enjoying lunch of my leftover sandwich:)

Analise has a cold that’s been dragging on, so she’s being a bit of a whiner today.  I was going to post earlier this week about how we’re doing SO well with potty-training.  We were!  She’d been staying dry at school, and we even had one completely dry day, including waking up dry.  Sunday was rough because we were at Sunday School and of course she was having too much fun to remember to tell someone she needed to go to the bathroom.  Today, though, I’m not sure what the problem is.  She’s had 2 accidents so far already.  Maybe she’s not feeling well?  I think we’re still doing pretty darn well, and I’m SO pleased to not be changing diapers! 

Josiah’s got some serious sleep issues going on.  He fights sleeping during the day, and it’s so hard to get him to nap.  Today has been a little better as he took a long solid nap in his swing after some fussing.  At night, it’s really hard to get him to sleep, but then its hit-or-miss as to whether he’ll sleep for 4 hours or not.  He’s a very restless sleeper.  And the silly pacifier… it falls out while he’s sleeping and then he half-wakes and wants it.  Arg.  I’m still anti-pacifier…

I’ve got a bit of a sore throat, and it was one of those days that I woke up wanting to call in sick.  I couldn’t convince Brian to stay home and take care of the kids for me.  He knows life is much easier at his office… just college kids to deal with.

Enough from me… hopefully, I’ll be back later to post something I started writing this past weekend!     

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“Dangerous Cold!”

4th December 2006

That’s what the weatherman said it is this morning.  21 degrees.  Hmph.  I bet my readers from the Great North are falling off their chairs laughing.  To be truthful, he was saying that in reference to the wind chill, which makes it feel about 16 degrees.  Whew… almost unbearable. 

Brian bundled up for his ride to work.  Thankfully, we call him "Nanook of the North" when we’re up there, so I’m not worried about him.

Happy Monday!     

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Starting our Tree-Trimming Tradition…

1st December 2006

So tonight we aimed to start our family tradition of tree-trimming. I’m trying to develop Advent/Christmas traditions, and since today is the first day of December, considered by some to be the first day of Advent, I thought it would be a great night to have a nice family meal (turkey chili and homemade cornbread) and decorate the tree. Then maybe we’d watch a nice Christmas film. Luckily for us, The Polar Express is on TV tonight, so that looked like the perfect end to the evening.

Ah, the best of intentions. This will be a fun one to remember:) Decorating a tree with Analise was quite an experience. I think discovering the ornaments in the box was more exciting than actually putting them on the tree. I’d pull one out of the tissue paper, and she’d be grabbing it out of my hand as I put a hook on it.  She wouldn’t even make it to the tree, let alone hang the ornament, before she was back for another one.  If she made it to the tree, she’d sometimes drop it on a branch – where it tumbled to the floor – and hurry back to me, all excited to see what ornament was next.  She didn’t appreciate the fragility of all the pretty delicate
ornaments. She didn’t seem to hear me telling her about how this one was special to me because I made it when I was 2 years old, or about how  I made that one in 4th grade.
Here’s an excerpt from the evening:

Kristine: Analise, do you want to hang this pretty ball on the tree? Be careful, it’s very special.
Analise: Oh pretty!
Kristine: It’s from the year I was born, 1976!
Analise: Ooo! It’s a ball! Can I throw it?
(Yes, we caught her before she tested its bouncability, thankfully.)

And when she put them on the tree – and she did about 60% of the ornaments in the end – they were all on the same 5-6 lowest branches. Above: This was pretty much all that was on the tree after about 15 minutes. Notice how many ornaments are on each branch!  It’s too funny. I was intending to re-distribute, but it’s so fun to look at, I don’t think I will.

Intently hanging… these two bears were supposed to be kissing, but it appears Analise would have none of that.

We wrapped up the tree-trimming by bringing out the little Advent tree. It’s about a foot tall, and it has a little drawer with a tiny ornament for each day leading up to Christmas. So Analise got to open 1 drawer. There were tears, of course, because she wanted to open more than one. Even reminding her that she could open another drawer tomorrow didn’t help. *sigh* Learning the "waiting" part of Christmas is hard. But it’s what Advent is all about!

Anyway, those tears woke grumpy Josiah up, so he joined us in my arms for part of The Polar Express. We’ve never watched this movie before. It’s interesting. The animation is technically very cool, but something about it is just weird. Brian said he’d heard mixed reviews of the movie, so he asked me to look them up and we found this one, that pretty much summed up why it felt weird.
A few excerpts that struck us as funny – but true…

This season’s biggest holiday extravaganza,
"The Polar Express," should be subtitled "The Night of the Living
Dead." The characters are that frightening…
Claus gets his very own category of creepy. In an overzealous effort to
make Saint Nick look like he has some kind of benevolent inner glow,
the filmmakers make him look downright radioactive. It’s enough to make
you want to skip the milk and cookies and don rubber gloves and
protective clothing on Christmas Eve.
It’s a shame. "The Polar
Express" wants to be an uplifting holiday film, but it tries too hard
to make its point. Moreover, the technology just hasn’t caught up to
the lofty ambitions of the hundreds of talented people behind this
film. And when it comes to the characters within, the film looks like a
remake of "The Children of the Corn."

Please forgive me if this is one of your favorites!  Analise enjoyed it.  Brian also thinks the little girl is supposed to be a little Condoleeza Rice. Anyone else have strong feelings about The Polar Express? I think next year we’ll have another movie ready for our tree-trimming night.

I love the Advent season. Having grown up the Lutheran church, each Sunday between Thanksgiving and Christmas is celebrated as preparing for the extraordinary event of Christmas. I feel kind of like this tradition is lost in most evangelical churches.  For our family, I really want to make this a season of remembering and anticipating Christ’s birth. So we’ll be celebrating each Sunday of Advent by reading a part of the Christmas story, lighting the Advent candles on our Advent wreath, and probaby opening up a family gift.  I’m watching a really nice blog called Advent for Evangelicals that’s full of great ideas and thoughts for the season. We’ll keep you posted.

For now, enjoy the start of the most joyful season! Here’s a glimpse of sparkling tree. None lovelier in my eyes… (PS – the tales of putting the tree up are coming soon!)

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Everyday Photos…

1st December 2006

First, a little collection of smiley Josiah faces. Here, he’s being a patient little guy in the Bumbo seat while Analise is on the potty (and I’m reading to her). This is a frequent occurance!

Analise found the mini Precious Moments nativity set at Grandma Beverly’s after Thanksgiving as the decorations were being unpacked. Doesn’t she look a bit like them?

Analise has been doing a lot of reading lately. Josiah likes it when she sits down to read to him (as long as he’s out of reach, otherwise he’d prefer to have the book himself and eat it!). Here, the book of choice, is If You Give A Pig A Pancake. She can finish nearly every line in the book! It’s one of her favorites!

Another favorite book is her Bible. When Josiah’s not a willing audience, like this morning, she’ll set up the dolls and other stuff and read to them.

Josiah’s been rolling all over the floor, pulling his knees up underneath him like he’s trying to go somewhere. He can scooch backwards a bit, too. Won’t be long until he’s on the move! Brian caught these pictures when he’d rolled under the Exersaucer.

As we were getting the Christmas tree set up, Brian took a break for lunch. Analise wanted her lunch as a picnic in the living room.

Lastly, another sweet Josiah smile. It melts me!

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