Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for 2011

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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More photos and videos from skiing today

29th December 2011

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If the flickr slideshow doesn’t display, then trying viewing it on flickr here – or here –

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Photo slideshow and videos from our Wisconsin trip (Days 1, 2, 3)

29th December 2011

NOTE: if you are viewing this on Facebook, click on over to our blog to see the photos and videos –

I woke up early Monday morning and was out the door by 6:30 AM on a 123 mile bike ride north. Kristine was leaving a few hours later with the kids to drive up and pick me up somewhere in north Alabama for us to finish the drive up to Wisconsin. Along the way, we stopped to visit our cousins in Franklin and drove through a LOT of rain from Tennessee pretty much ALL the way to northern Indiana where it finally turned to snow. By the time the sun came up after we made it through Chicago including a couple sleep stops in the toll road rest stops, it was clear and cold but not a lot of snow. It took until the last 50 miles of our trip before we started seeing snow more consistently. And then by the time we made it up here to Telemark near Cable, WI that snow was covering everything. After an inch of snow last night, I feel like winter has finally arrived! Enjoy the pics and videos!

If the flickr slideshow doesn’t display, then trying viewing it on flickr here –

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Dual camp-outs

5th November 2011

Josiah and Papa Dale are camping out at Oak Mountain State Park, while Analise, Kristine, and Grandma Sandy are camping at the zoo! How fun! I am missing out on all the fun, but getting caught up on stuff at home. I hung out with Josiah and Papa Dale before heading home … here are some pictures!

Meanwhile, Analise and Kristine are having a great time at the zoo!

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Bike-racing Beach Vacation

29th September 2011

In all our travels, we haven’t been to the beach in a couple years. So I was THRILLED to hear that Brian had found a bike race in Pensacola, FL. I warned him we would be kissing him good luck and waving him off while we relaxed at the pool and beach. He had a great weekend of racing (see all the fun details at, and we had a really great time playing.
I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves. Our hotel (the Holiday Inn Resort in Pensacola Beach) was wonderful. We loved the lazy river, pool and hot tub, and the beach was steps away. Of course, the beach was wonderful, though we were scared out of the water often by jellyfish. We saw tons. But the weather was perfect, and it really was the perfect bike-racing beach vacation!

Our hotel had fun stuff scheduled. We snuggled up under our towels for a dive-in movie both nights (Analise was the only one swimming, but she loved it, my little mermaid.) They also had a pirate and mermaid show on Saturday afternoon. Analise got her face painted like a mermaid, and they both had a swordfight with the pirate. Fun!

Friday we went to the Naval Aviation Museum (amazing!! free! awesome!) That’s another whole post full of pics, though…

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Our sweet bunny’s first week

22nd August 2011

After bunny-sitting for a friend a couple times last year, they called to ask if Analise & Josiah would maybe give Jaggy (or Jaguar, after the Spain Park HS Jaguars, where the bunny owner goes) a bit more attention than their busy schedule allowed. We were THRILLED to say the least. Jaggy is the sweetest bunny, litterbox trained, and very gentle. She’s never bitten, and she puts up with lots of snuggling from us. She currently lives in her cage in our entryway, but she gets let out for supervised hopping/exploring a couple times a day. It’s crazy hot here, so she doesn’t get outside much, but she has an outside hutch for more moderate times, and she loves our bunny-proofed side porch. A few of pics of my sweeties and their furry best friend…

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What’s Cookin’ – First Week of School wrapup

18th August 2011

So with the kids at school, I’ve got so much I could be doing. Cleaning, projects, errands… But this week, I’ve used my *favorite* procrastination technique… concocting lovely things in the kitchen! Here’s a bullet list of the highlights:

  • Peaches & Cream Muffins – brought peaches back from South Carolina last week.  Awesome.  I love, love, love making muffins… and sharing them!
  • The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee – I’ve heard rave reviews.  Anna sent me some really great coffee for my birthday, so I’ve got a batch of this brewing overnight.  Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow!
  • DIY Flavored Syrup – Caramel – Made this today for the coffee…
  • Taste of Home’s Delectable Granola – Made this today, and though I think it cooked a bit too long (wasn’t seeming crispy, come to find out, it crisps as it cools) so it tastes a little “dark”, Brian LOVES it, and I love that I made my own granola!!  I love granola and yogurt and fresh fruit.
  • Giant M&M Cookies – Made these today, and I was a bit disappointed.  Might be that after the most amazing, chocolate pb cookies of earlier this week, it’s hard to compare.  But they are pretty, the kids loved them, and since they cooked a tiny bit too long, they’ll get another try.
  • KAF’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – These. Are. So. Divine.  Seriously, there is no better chocolate peanut butter cookie out there.  And Trader Joe’s mini pb cups (frozen) are perfect in these.  You can also use the new mini Reese’s pb cups, but they have to be frozen, or they melt into the cookie.  Still delicious, but it’s awesome if they hold their form for bites of pb cups.
  • This cute little “Smart Cookie” tag set to package up a treat for the teachers – trying to decide which cookie recipe to use… leaning towards choc pb…

On my cooking agenda…

If only y’all knew how many recipes I have bookmarked to try… Wow.

Now, if you’re with me this far, you’re in for a real treat.  I’m about to confess a really bad decision, probably the stupidest I can remember. (Backstory – I recently read Born to Run and LOVED IT.  For various reasons, one of which stems from the book, I’ve started running barefoot, in a field near my house, once a week or so.  Brian’s told me to go get some Vibram Five Finger barefoot shoes, but I just can’t get myself to spend the $, and I haven’t needed to, because the field is really soft and safe.)

Yesterday, I was going to be running about 11, and if I don’t run early in the day, I lose my motivation quickly.  I was meeting a friend for lunch, and I really didn’t want to run, but I thought I should just do something, anything.  So I thought, hey… maybe I should try barefoot running on the smooth, blacktop paved Lakeshore trail, and then I’ll just run for a super short run, since I’m trying to gradually adjust my legs/feet to the biomechanical differences of running without shoes.  It was hot – 92 by my car thermometer, and as soon as I took a few steps on the trail, I thought, man, this is really hard and painful on my feet.  Just suck it up… you’re only going out 5 minutes and coming back 5 minutes.  So I kept painfully plodding along, until I hit the shade.  My feet HURT, and not just from the hard pavement.  I realized they were blistered from the heat of the blacktop.  And I had to run back to the car.  You seriously would have heard me saying, “What an idiot” to myself over and over if you’d been near me.  I was so embarrassed I’d made such a stupid decision.  Sure enough, back at the car, my feet were so painful, and walking to lunch (in my socks/shoes) felt like I was still walking through hot coals.  I can only laugh now.  Definitely learned my lesson.  I drained the blisters last night, and they’re 75% better today.  Hoping to run tomorrow… with shoes.  And yes, maybe soon I’ll splurge and get myself some Vibrams.  But until then, I’ll only barefoot run on the safety of the field.

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The first day of the rest of this mom’s life…

15th August 2011

And what did I do with my 8hrs? Brian (who starts teaching next week) and I let the bunny explore her more-or-less bunnyproof porch. I went running, cleaned & did laundry. We had a lunch date at Baha Burger (so delicious!!).

I made these amazing cookies for an after school treat (, best to use chilled Trader Joe’s mini PB cups).

And before we knew it, the time had come to pick them up. A good, good day was had by all!

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Yay for the First Day!

15th August 2011

So proud of my sweeties! I can’t believe I have a kindergartner and a 2nd grader!

We were excited to have our new neighbors walk with us, so after the requisite photos, this mom was pleasantly distracted from all the emotions that had been building.

Analise was a pro, full of chatter all and left us without a backward glance like she’s been doing this forever… or at least 2 years.

Josiah was excited to walk with the two older boys, and after walking Analise to school for 2 years, he walked in confident that it was finally his turn.

And just like that… my years of intense hands-on mothering are over. As I was lamenting the letting-go last night, I felt God gently reminding me that I may have less time with them, I have much more time to pray for them. So I start this new season on my knees, handing them over to Him.

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A Back-to-School Popsicle Party!

14th August 2011

With the start of school looming, I suggested to the kids last week that we have a Popsicle party and invite all the neighborhood kids, some of whom we don’t know at all. We used last year’s school directory and came up with 18 different homes to visit. Analise & Josiah were so excited as we drove around ringing doorbells to hand out our invites or leaving them taped to doors.

I stocked up on various popsicles (note: not enough fudgesicles), and we put Jaggy, the bunny’s, cage out in the grass so everyone could meet her. We had an AMAZING turnout! I was too busy handing out popsicles to stop and count, but probably 3/4 of the families we invited and a could others. It was so much fun! There haven’t been many get-togethers in our neighborhood, so this was perfect timing. I love meeting so many new people who are so close by. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year!

(funny note… the party was scheduled from 4-5, and I had planned to cook a nice, healthy filling back-to-school dinner after the sugar-filled party. But we were outside talking until almost 6, so the healthy dinner turned into frozen pizza and apples with peanut butter. Glad kids will remember the fun times and not the dinner!)

Coming tomorrow… the first days of 2nd grade and kindergarten! Be still my heart…

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