Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for January, 2008

What’s Cooking… Sesame Chicken

18th January 2008

Sesame Chicken
6 servings
21 min total, 5 min prep

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Cut chicken breast into 1 inch strips. Heat a large non-stick skillet that has been sprayed with Pam, over medium-high heat. Cook chicken strips for about 6 minutes until no longer pink.
Mix together honey, soy sauce, water, corn starch, ginger and red pepper flakes. Whisk until no corn starch lumps appear.
Pour sauce mixture into skillet with chicken. Cook until sauce thickens slightly. (You can add more water if sauce is too thick.) Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken starts to soak up the sauce.

*I served this with brown rice, steamed veggies and, in a last minute addition for Brian, a box of Toasted Sesame Rice Noodles from Thai Kitchen. Delicous!
*I only used 3 large chicken breasts, marked as 1.8lbs. It was plenty, and if there had been more chicken, I would have probably wanted the sauce doubled.
*Be careful toasting sesame seeds. I’ve burned more batches in my toaster oven than I care to count (the smell of even a small batch permeates the whole house, and it stays around for a while). This time I put them in my tiny skillet, tossed them over medium heat, and it only took a couple minutes until they were just right.

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My pat on the mommy-back

18th January 2008

Josiah’s been battling a dripping cold for a couple days.  He slept ok last night, but in spite of feeling terrible today, he only grudgingly went down for his nap.  After about 40 minutes, he woke and sobbed for an hour straight, not napping, just laying on my chest, not sucking on his paci, totally out of the ordinary for him.  I thought for sure it was an ear infection, as Analise had one that hit just like that.  I got a super-last minute appointment (had to be there in 10 min and wake poor napping Analise).  I grabbed a bag of M&M’s and the laptop for entertainment on my way out the door.  No ear infection, thankfully.  We’ll just wait out the cold.  But my pat on the mommy-back today was that Analise was amazing with me at the doctor’s. She’s freaked out the last couple times we’ve been, even if she’s been there for J’s visit and not for herself. She was SO GOOD, and so was Josiah. I was so happy. And the whining factor was so much less today, too. Whew. That’s a good day. 

We had an amazing dinner… I’ll post the recipe in another blog.  But it was Sesame Chicken, served with brown rice, steamed veggies and in a late addition for Brian, a box mix of Toasted Sesame (rice) Noodles from the brand Thai Kitchen. Yum-O!  Analise even said, "I like this chicken, Mommy… thanks for making it for me!" wub.gif That’s another pat on the mommy-back for today.

The kiddos went to bed very easily tonight, and Brian and I just enjoyed a quiet evening snuggled on the couch watching Ocean’s Thirteen. Such a fun movie!  And the most exciting news is we might be snowed in tomorrow am.  Haha.  Just kidding.  But we do have lots of news warnings to be alert for poor travel tomorrow am, thanks to the *possible* 1-3 (or 3-5 if you’re one of the big dreamers, like Brian) inches of snow we probably won’t get. Ha. These people would never survive north of the Mason-Dixon line sneaky2.gif.

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Just what I needed tonight

17th January 2008

After a long day of mothering, I was ready to get out this evening. Lousy sleep last night with a fussy, sick Josiah. My sweet Analise woke up whining, and it took all the grace I had to start the day in a good mood. Brian encouraged me in my handling of her first meltdown, but my patience wore thin as the day got longer. Josiah made lots of messes, Analise fussed about little things, and I was worn out from a restless night. I spent most of the day cleaning up the kitchen, cooking some treats, cleaning up the kitchen, cooking some more and cleaning up again.

But I had an evening with other moms to look forward to as my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group was having a group baby shower for all the new moms. I had offered to make a bunch of food with my Tastefully Simple products. They’re all fairly easy things to make, but when it’s 7 different things in the midst of a busy day with little ones underfoot making messes and needing their own food, it’s not so easy! Poor Brian got the short end of things as I had no time or imagination to get food ready for him and the kids. He put together a picnic of fish sticks, cantaloupe and a breakfast burrito for himself in the living room, with Finding Nemo as the entertainment. He’s a champ! (He even gave Josiah a bath and almost had Analise in bed by the time I get home. Thank you, sweetheart!)

What a wonderful evening, though. I entered the party not impressed with my mothering today. I was not who God wanted me to be as I faced all the little challenges of the day. And inside, I looked at the moms around me and imagined the godly day of mothering they’d walked out, graciously correcting their children, speaking all their words in love, full of patience and grace. But we’re all human, struggling to balance the needs of our children, husbands, ourselves and the demands of the world. We’re all wanting desperately to walk as godly mothers and wives. And we all know our only source of strength in this job is God. We spent quite a bit of time praying for each other as moms, dads and our children, and it just filled up my heart with inspiration for what God’s called me to. Humbling, convicting, encouraging and inspiring. Tomorrow is a new day to walk in the grace He gives and strive to be more of the godly mother He’s called me to.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." — 2 Corinthians 9:8

To all my mom friends out there… I’m praying for you tonight. I’m thinking of you by name, praying that God would send you the same encouragement and inspiration He’s filled me with.

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Christmas is officially over :)

16th January 2008

Yes, I know we’re late, as usual.  But Christmas is finally all boxed up and put away in the Toone house. It feels nice to have "taken my house back".  I think next year we’re going to minimize decorations to our favorites.  Everything’s pretty, but it’s so hard to get it up and put away, and the kids really don’t care as long as the tree and nativities are up. 

Brian’s working on a new Toone Times website for us!  I’m not sure how I feel, as I like our personally designed site, but we are itching for a change with some new features.  Stay tuned!

We’ve got a Life Group event this evening at church, and I’m working on some food and other things for that.  I’m on the leadership team for our Life Groups, so I’ve got some little details to take care of.  We sure love this ministry… it’s the reason we felt called to Clearwater, and I believe these intimate small group fellowships are where God works his growth and change. 

Yesterday at preschool, Analise’s class got to see a clown do a magic show.  Well, of course you can imagine, Analise was afraid of the clown, just like she was afraid of Santa.  She sat on her teacher’s lap, and when I picked her up she said, "I don’t like clowns.  I just like Baby Jesus."  Awww…. glad my girl her her priorities right!

One last random thought from Kristine 🙂  I’m not sure when they started selling bags of shredded cheese, but I’ve always thought it was just the best idea.  So easy.  I love it.  I really hate shredding.  But last month, I had an "ah-ha" moment from reading something online, and I decided to buy blocks of cheese from Sam’s to shred myself.  I borrowed Brian’s mom’s food processor, and shredded the entire 2 blocks into freezer containers.  Let me tell ya… I saved some serious money, and this cheese tastes so much better.  Pre-shredded has some flour-type coating to keep it from clumping, and it just doesn’t taste as fresh.  But this cheese that I’ve shredded has lasted a long time, and it’s tasted great.  The only downfall is that I can’t get the 2% milk cheese that I sometimes buy.  Anyway, I’m off to get 2 more blocks of cheese from Sam’s. 

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A good weekend of treats

14th January 2008

We started off the weekend with a last-minute dinner out.  Brian’s parents are so awesome for babysitting for us just about whenever we need them, especially Friday night Brian showed up at home wanting to take me out.  They were there in half an hour.  That’s some service!

We went to California Pizza Kitchen, thanks to a Christmas gift certificate from Brian’s brother.  When the waitress said, "Do you mind sitting in the bar area at one of the cocktail tables?", I excitedly said yes.  It’s been a long time since we got to sit at an "adult table" 🙂  We even shared a glass of sangria (the best I’ve tasted!).  Brian loved his Kung Pao Spaghetti, and I liked my California Club pizza with chicken, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce tossed with ranch dressing.  We had to splurge on dessert… delicious tiramisu.  Then we wrapped up our spontaneous date night with some browsing at Barnes & Noble.  It was a great adult evening! 

This past week, I finally called the Birmingham School of Massage because I’ve always wanted to see how much their student massages were.  When she told me they were only $30 for an hour, I  was so excited!  Normally massages are $60 an hour.  The student massages are on Saturday, but she said they usually book weeks in advance.  Luckily she had a cancellation for Saturday… and I jumped at the chance.  I’ve always got a tight neck, shoulders and back, but lately, my shoulder has really been bothering me.  The massage was *heavenly*, and the masseuse was wonderful.  I felt tons better when I was done.  What a deal!

I came home all relaxed just in time to put the kids down for their naps and enjoy the snowy Packer game.  What an awesome game!  I’m all pumped for their home game against New York on Sunday.  And I’m already planning a big Super Bowl Bash, though I just realized that if I’m throwing the party, I may not really get to enjoy the game.  Hm.  We’ll have to think this over…

Happy Monday!

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A Believer’s To-Be List by Phillip Yancey

12th January 2008

On a lighter note from that last post, here’s a great short read from one of my favorite authors, Phillip Yancey, from

A Believer’s To-Be List – Steps to a fresh start with God.
by Philip Yancey

When I turned 50, I had a complete physical checkup. Doctors poked, prodded, x-rayed, and even cut open parts of my body to assess and repair the damage I had done. At the same time, I scheduled a spiritual checkup, too. I went on a silent retreat led by a wise spiritual director.

In those days of solitude, I pondered what I needed to change to keep my soul in shape. The more I listened, the longer grew the list. Here is a mere sampling, a portion of a spiritual action plan for my next 50 years.

Question your doubts as much as your faith. By personality, or perhaps as a reaction to a fundamentalist past, I brood on doubts and experience faith in occasional flashes. Isn’t it about time for me to reverse the pattern?

Do not attempt this journey alone. Like many Protestants, I easily assume the posture of one person alone with God, a stance that more and more I see as unbiblical. The Old Testament tells the story of the people of God; Jesus’ parables unveil the kingdom; the epistles went primarily to communities of faith. We have little guidance on how to live as a follower alone because God never intended it.

Allow the good—natural beauty, your health, encouraging words—to penetrate as deeply as the bad. Why does it take about 17 encouraging letters from readers to overcome the effect of one that is caustic and critical? If I awoke every morning, and fell asleep each night, bathed in a sense of gratitude and not self-doubt, the in-between hours would doubtless take on a different cast.

For your own sake, simplify. Eliminate whatever distracts you from God. Toss catalogs, junk mail, and book club notices in the trash. If I ever get the nerve, my television set should probably land there as well.

Find what Eric Liddell found: something that allows you to feel God’s pleasure. When the sprinter’s sister worried that his participation in the Olympics might derail his missionary career, Eric responded, "God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." What makes me feel God’s pleasure? I must identify it, and then run.

Always "err," as God does, on the side of freedom, mercy, and compassion. I continue to marvel at the humility of a sovereign God who descends to live inside us, his flawed creatures. "Quench not the Spirit," Paul says in one place, and in another "grieve not the holy Spirit of God." In so many words, the God of all power asks us not to hurt him. Do I show that same humble, noncoercive attitude toward people of whom I disapprove?

Don’t be ashamed. "I am not ashamed of the gospel," Paul told the Romans. Why do I speak in generalities when strangers ask me what I do for a living and then try to pin down what kind of books I write? Why do I mention the secular schools I attended before the Christian ones?

Remember, those Christians who peeve you so much—God chose them too. For some reason, I find it much easier to show grace and acceptance toward immoral unbelievers than toward uptight, judgmental Christians. Which, of course, turns me into a different kind of uptight, judgmental Christian.

Forgive, daily, those who caused the wounds that keep you from wholeness. Increasingly, I find God uses our wounds in his service. By harboring blame for those who caused them, I slow the act of redemption that can bring healing.

My spiritual checkup offers one clear advantage over my physical checkup. No matter what I do my body will continue to deteriorate, but, spiritually I can look forward to growth and renewed vigor as long as I listen and then act on what I hear God saying.

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A late Santa letter

11th January 2008

I’m laughing so hard from this letter to Santa from a mom that a friend of mine posted… So much of it rings too true!

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good mom all year. I’ve fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor’s office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son’s red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I’ll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I’d like a pair of legs that don’t ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don’t hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I’d also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you’re hauling big ticket items this year I’d like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn’t broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don’t fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don’t eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children’s hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it’s too late to find any of these products, I’d settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don’t mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don’t catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don’t eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,


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Video Catchup, Part I

10th January 2008

mountain biking on Shell Lake
Watch a video taken right before I went mountain biking briefly on frozen Shell Lake.

polar bear playing
Watch this polar bear playing and the snow falling around him.

cougars stalking their pen
Watch three cougars prowl their pen.

sledding transporation in the zoo
Sledding was the primary form of transportation within the zoo.
Watch Poppa Dale pull Josiah around the Lake Superio zoo.

Josiah and the river otters
Watch Josiah run around in the snow.

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Video Catchup, Part II

10th January 2008


guitar heroes

analise away in a manger

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Thank Goodness for Plumbers

10th January 2008

Aside from the $300 bill, our plumbing situation resolved pretty well.  I’m very very thankful that it wasn’t worse.  We had a clog caused by roots all the way out by the street, near the city’s sewer line.  The expensive Roto-Rooter took care of it.  But we were lucky that it was leaking at a junction in the garage, rather than backing all the way up the drains!!  Yes.  I’m thankful for plumbers today.  Not a fun job, but they deserve their pay!

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