Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for August, 2009

What’s Cookin’ – Fresh Peach Frozen Yogurt

31st August 2009

It’s peach season here in the South!  YUM!  I love fresh peaches.  And I LOVE my ice cream maker.  So when I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine, it was the perfect combination.  It was so easy and AMAZING!  I’ve made 3 batches of it so far 🙂  It’s very creamy and smooth.  And if you don’t have fresh peaches, I bet you could use canned, just decrease the sugar a bit and make sure they are well drained.  Let me know how you like it!!

  • 4 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 1/2 c. low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 t vanilla extract

Place peaches in a blender, cover and process until blended.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over milk and let stand for 1 minute.  Heat on low, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Remove from heat, and stir in sugar and salt until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into large bowl, and add peaches, yogurt and vanilla.

Transfer to cylinder of ice cream freezer, and let process for 30 minutes or so.  It will be the consistency of soft-serve, and DELICIOUS!  Transfer the rest to another container and place in freezer.

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Out West Adventure… (part 2)

27th August 2009

One of the (many) highlights of the trip was Carlsbad Caverns.  It was AMAZING.  Even the kids really enjoyed our visit there.  Pictures do not do it justice, so if you’ve never been… you just have to experience it for yourself.  Analise’s favorite part of the nearly mile-long walk in the underground caverns was Fairyland.  She still recognizes it in the photos.  And of course, the evening bat flight from the cave entrance was awesome.  Definitely worth planning an overnight stay to see that unique sight.

The Grand Canyon was, of course, beautiful.  But it was HOT, the kids had been up early, there were lots of people there, and my kids wanted to play on the rocks, which was a little too nerve-wracking with the drop to the canyon floor just feet away.  Analise had a meltdown after disobeying us by jumping on the rocks, and so we left after about 20 minutes.  Definitely not a GRAND experience.  As Brian reminded me, the kids just can’t grasp how huge it is.  It’s awe-inspiring for us, but they can’t understand the depth and the beauty of it.  Next time, I’d like to plan to be there at sunset, as I’ve heard that’s a beautiful experience.

After a disappointing experience at the Grand Canyon, we had a long afternoon with whiny kids in the car.  Hot, tired and hungry, with grumpy parents, and we were driving 4 hours to Las Vegas.  Food was many miles between, our windshield caught a rock and cracked, and at some point, Brian mentioned maybe I’d better check our reservation in Las Vegas online (on my phone) as he had a feeling he might have made it for the wrong night.  ?!?!?

We had booked the hotel through Expedia (for a lower price than the conference rate, though it was the same hotel!) months in advance, and actually before we knew the schedule of Brian’s conference.  After battling intermittent internet on my phone, we realized that indeed… it was Sunday evening, we were headed for Vegas, and our hotel reservation was not until Monday, but Brian had to present at the conference on Monday morning.  ARG!   More phone problems, dealing with customer service, finding out the hotel rate was twice what we’d paid, and so we finally settled at Starbucks to calm our frazzled nerves and use their internet so Brian could find us another hotel.

He ended up booking us a night at the Desert Rose Resort, just off the strip and less than a block from where we’d be staying the next two nights, at the Monte Carlo, for the conference.   I was a bit irritated about having to stay one (short) night in one place, then move to another.  But once we arrived, we very nearly canceled our other reservations to stay at the Desert Rose.  It was AMAZING!  Full kitchen, huge king bedroom, separate from the spacious living/dining room, delicious full continental breakfast, free wireless (as compared to $15 a day at the MC), 2 pools.  It was awesome.  Highly, highly recommend it, and if we ever go back, I won’t stay anywhere else.  Back to the trip to Vegas…  Now the experience is comical, and turned out to have many blessings in it, but man, was it a long end to a frustrating day!

So we set out for the last couple hours of the drive from Arizona to Vegas, via the Hoover Dam.  I was excited to see the Dam, as I’d never been there.  But we’d been way-laid for a couple hours, and it was going to be dark.  We thought we wouldn’t be able to see anything.  Much to our surprise, the dam was well lit, and there was construction going on for the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.  It is INCREDIBLE!   What a feat of engineering!  And the Dam is amazing too.  Seeing it at night was really different, but still very cool.  And it was 109 degrees outside at 9pm!  Crazy!

Ok, more thoughts on Vegas and the California part of the trip another evening.  Enjoy a few photos… Click on the first one and it will open in a small window and you can click through them all.

Posted in Adventure, Travel | 2 Comments »

What’s Cooking… Bodacious Blueberry Muffins

20th August 2009

These have made it into the top tier of my “most used recipes”.   I tried them about a year ago, and when I want a GOOD fluffy blueberry muffin, this is the best.  Recently, I loaned out my recipe card, and I had to search and search all over the internet this morning to track this exact recipe down.  So I’m posting it here for my own (frequent!) personal use, and for all those of you that love a good muffin.  (I like to give credit when I can, and this was first posted at  She’s got a picture to tempt you even more, but the link is no longer valid. So whoever came up with this recipe… thanks!)

Bodacious Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 c blueberries

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a bowl, and gently stir both together just until mixed.  Add blueberries.  Place in greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for 25 min. (12 muffins)

Crumb topping

  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 c (2 T) flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 T softened butter

Mix together until it resembles cornmeal.  Top muffins before baking. (Makes enough for 2 batches)

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Grandma Sandy’s coming for a visit!!

14th August 2009

cardwells-kids-elk-lakeAnalise pulled out her lacing cards this afternoon, which she hasn’t played with in months… or maybe even since Grandma Sandy was here last year!  She said, “It’s been like a week since I played with these!”  She’s just finally caught on to the go up from the bottom/go down from the top to “sew”.  I was impressed.

She was really excited about the lacing cards, though, and said, “I’m going to sew with Grandma Sandy! And you’re going to… do chores!”  Haha.  Sounds like fun.  Maybe Grandma Sandy and I can at least work in a trip to Kohl’s around all my chores…

(This post is going to be filled with randomness, as that’s the status of my mind today, this week, this month… come to think of it, this year!)

swing-1Analise has also reached another wonderful developmental milestone.  She hopped on a swing, got herself going, and started pumping her legs, swinging completely independently.  Honestly, this is an exciting achievement!  It means that my work on the playground just got much easier… or at least divided in half.  Between potty-training and swinging, it’s serious freedom for a mom 🙂


I do have pictures from our Out West Adventure in the works.  At the moment, it’s an open folder on my desktop with my favorites.  But currently, there are more than 80 of them, not counting Corrie’s and Michelle’s from our visits with them.  I’ll try to pare it down to less than 50 for your enjoyment 🙂  Actually, I’ve got coupons for photobooks that expire soon, and so that may happen before they get uploaded here…  Or not.

But Grandma Sandy’s coming tomorrow, and we’re going to have a great visit with her this next week!

Posted in Daily Grind | No Comments »

Analise’s 1st day of school

12th August 2009

Analise on the street ready for her first day of school

Analise and me walking down the street to school

Today is the big day for Analise — her first day of school. I just got back from dropping her off. Everything went smoothly, and she was excited when she saw her teacher and ran over to sit with the other kids who had already arrived.

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the night before the First Day of School

11th August 2009

The lump is starting to form in the back of my throat.

I curled up next to Analise in bed tonight, praying for a good night’s sleep, praying for her day, her year, her teacher, her friends.  I snuggled close to her and it struck me that 5 years ago right about now, I was snuggling a tiny Analise on my chest with a lump in my throat the night before I headed back to work.  She was just 6 1/2 weeks old, and I couldn’t imagine leaving her, even in the capable hands of her daddy.

In between that night 5 years ago and tonight, there were 1825 days.  Some were busy days, some were family days, some were quiet days, lots were fun.  And some were long days.  Maybe it was a day after a sleep-deprived night, maybe it was a sick day, maybe our attitudes were not what they should have been.   But those were the days that I thought to the far-off day when she’d be headed to school, and I wished – with a twinge of guilt – that they days would go a little quicker.  And on the days that I was worn out with laundry, meals, picking up and whining, I imagined the coming quiet of school days.

And here we are, on the eve of the next chapter in our lives… our first child headed off to kindergarten.  Now, of course, I’m wishing I hadn’t wished for these school days to come so quickly.  So my public service announcement for moms of young kids is to be careful what you wish for, because, as cliche as it sounds, they’ll grow up faster than you can imagine.

Analise is full of excitement and anticipation at starting school.  She enjoyed meeting her teacher and checking out her room.  We picked up our short list of school supplies, the requisite pink and purple backpack, Disney Princess lunch box and thermos, My Little Pony nap mat (which she insisted on sleeping on last night!), and purple pencil bag.  She’s got a cute new dress and headband, and she’ll be a great student full of enthusiasm and curiosity.

We live too close to school for the bus, so we’ll walk the short 15-minute distance most days.  In the last few months, our kids have finally grasped the art of sleeping past 7, which elicited much joy and made for leisurely (and snuggly!) mornings this summer.  But being ready and on our way for the 7:45 start time will take some getting used to!  Since we all know I”m the emotional one, Brian’s going to do the first day of school walk tomorrow.  Josiah and I will stay at home, I’ll snuggle him close, and remind myself to appreciate each day I have left before he heads off to kindergarten.

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Out West Adventure… recap (part 1)

4th August 2009

Ok, so I stalled on the iPhone updates.   Internet was a bit more sporadic than I expected, I didn’t take as many iPhone photos as I had hoped, and well… I just plain got busy living life, catching up with friends, chasing and chastising my kids, and falling into exhausted slumber at each new place we landed.  Sorry about that!  I’m going to try to sum up the trip here, because if I don’t… we we may never remember the fun/funny/sweet/silly parts of the 27 day adventure!

So after 7,100 miles, 19 states, 8 Happy Meal toys (yes, that number seems surprisingly low… but I’m grateful it’s not more!), 8 houses, 5 hotels, 6 bike races, and 27 days, we arrived back to the wonderful Sweet Home Alabama at 1am this morning.  Whew!  What a crazy undertaking!

If you were on our routes, we are so thankful we got to see you!  So much awesome hospitality!  I, personally, was overwhelmed at the places and memories that this trip took me back to, from foundational college Athletes in Action days to love-blurred weeks at Mercy Ships in Texas to emotional roller-coaster months of early marriage, pregnancy and Analise’s birth in Davis, CA.  We have such wonderful friends in so many places!

Analise and Josiah met countless new friends… somewhere around 19, I think??  Analise took to calling each new group of friends her “new best friends”, and she never seemed to know anyone’s name.  I finally realized midway through the trip that they were all so special to her – and there were so many! –  she just couldn’t be bogged down by the names, and really… how could she be expected to?

I got to see my entire family, too!  My parents flew to Seattle, WA, spent a couple days with Anna and Hal, and then met us in Bend, OR.  Anna and Hal (and Riley dog!) joined us midweek.  We visited Kat at her home in Denver, having an amazing dinner at the aquarium restaurant, a whirlwind trip through the aquarium, and a slumber party at her apartment.  She ran a VO2max test on Brian in her exercise science lab, and then she and I took the kids for their first mini-golf experience, topped off with ice cream.  Good times!  On the last days of our trip, we stopped at my Grandma’s in LaPorte, IN for dinner and a night.  It was so good to get to see her, too.

Ok, I know this is rambling, but if I try to make it organized and orderly, it may never get posted.  So forgive my randomness, and look for photos soon!

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Tour of Elk Grove

1st August 2009

Hey Everyone – we’re still alive and getting near the end of our trip. Right now we’re visiting friends and family in Chicago and northern Indiana while I’m racing the Tour of Elk Grove. Read all about it on my cycling blog …

Here’s the map of our trip thus far … only one more leg to go after the race this weekend — back to sweet home Alabama!

2009 summer working vacation

Posted in Adventure, Cycling, Travel | 1 Comment »