Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for May, 2011

A fun free Saturday morning craft

28th May 2011

I’ve heard lots about Lowe’s Build & Grow workshop on Saturday mornings, but we’ve never made it. Today was the perfect day, and it was absolutely the perfect craft project for my creative kiddos. I can’t recommend it highly enough… And it’s free!

They handed us a bag of pieces and instructions, and amazingly, we worked patiently together. The kids were such great listeners, and they found the right pieces for each step. They got to hammer, and no one got hurt. AND mom even got pictures!

In the end, we had well-made little wooden bi-planes, and we were one proud bunch. We’ll definitely be back for another project!

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Short and sweet -Analise’s new summer ‘do

26th May 2011

I have to give equal time to my cute girl… who is just 1 day away from being a 2nd grader! Amazing!

She’s wanted to get her hair cut short for a while now. And this cut couldn’t frame her face any more perfectly. Somehow, it makes her look taller, but maybe it’s because she is?!?

And my favorite [Twitter] memory moment: Walking to school, 3 days from being a 2nd grader, she skips away, then comes back for a hug. My heart is full.

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Josiah’s new SHORT cool hair

25th May 2011

And by cool, he prefers the “I’m a cool dude” meaning, and though that may be true, it’s literally cool, since he barely has any hair left.

He didn’t want to go get his haircut, so I offered, since I’ve been doing Brian’s over the last year or so. I couldn’t remember how long (or short) the #3 guard was, and I knew as soon as I started that it was WAY shorter than I’d intended. Whoops!

But I raved about it, and I called Brian out to support the positive vibe. “Why did you cut it so short, Momma?” I wanted to say, “Oh my sweet blonde-headed boy… I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to!” But I bit my tongue, and told him I didn’t know it would be quite so short, but in 2 weeks, it would definitely longer. And cooler under a bike helmet! All was well… except I do a double-take every time I see him.

Of course, I think it makes his handsome blue eyes stand out more. Love this boy!

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Lakeside 4yr old kindergarten spring program

17th May 2011

Tonight was Josiah’s 4 year old kindergarten spring program at Lakeside. Here is a picture of Josiah and Grandma and then a couple videos of highlights of the program. Josiah has a speaking part towards the beginning of the second video. There were a lot of good Rich Mullins songs that they were singing – Step by step and Awesome God.

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A series of unfortunate [bike race] events and several answers to prayer (Weekend 2 or Happy Mother’s Day to Me)

14th May 2011

With Brian’s wrist still sore from the previous weekend of racing, we left Friday morning of Mother’s Day weekend for the last 3 races of the Speedweek series to be held in South Carolina, North Carolina and Atlanta (Friday/Saturday/Sunday). Traveling has gotten so much easier as the kids have gotten older. I can tell them to pack a bag, and they’ll get whatever toys they’d like to have. We’ve gotten pretty well-seasoned at knowing exactly what we need and how to do it.

But this Friday, I was having a bit of a pity party. Brian was a little stressed from the last day of classes/looming exams to prepare and a sore wrist and 3 hard days of racing ahead. The kids were edgy, probably in anticipation of a 5 1/2 hr car trip. And I thought, “This is my Mother’s Day weekend?!?”… before God reminded me, “Yes… with the ones you love, doing what you do as a family. You are blessed.” Indeed. I wouldn’t have wanted to be with anyone else, and this was where we were. [Thank you, Lord, for the attitude of gratitude!]

The Spartanburg, SC race was fine, the kids were well entertained with their scooters and sno cones, and I had the most amazing pork quesadilla for dinner. The kids were asleep within minutes of getting in the car after Brian’s race (all details can be found on his cycling blog!) Except that we had to wake them up for their first ever Waffle House experience, which they did not fully appreciate at 11:30pm. We drove 1 1/2 hrs to a suburb of Charlotte, NC, where we were staying with another really wonderful set of friends, the Timberlakes. Again, great kids for our kids to play with, wonderful “open door” hospitality as we arrived in the middle of the night, and they left us to stay in their house without them so they could spend Mother’s Day with their far off families. And great fellowship for both Brian and I with Darol and Donna. [Thank you, Lord, again and again, for amazing friends who make these bike race adventures so enjoyable!]

Saturday, was another quiet relaxing day with the Timberlakes and a long run for me. Brian rode downtown to his afternoon race in Charlotte, as the kids and I drove, and I managed to get my 2nd half-price Starbucks Frappucino of the weekend. Awesome! The course couldn’t have been more fun for the kids – around a fun park, and the kids played on the playground for the whole race while I stood up the hill on the edge of the course and cheered. The race was ok, but I think Brian was a bit disappointed with his lack of great results due to racing with a still sore wrist. To be fair, he’s racing with the fastest guys in the US, and finishing in the top 50 of 150 starters is not bad. But when you place in the top 30 in one race, you start to expect better results. We had a great pizza dinner, caught the quick running of the Derby which Analise loved, and treated the kids to yogurt and toppings. We went back to the Timberlakes to an empty house and an early bedtime.

Sunday, the kids decided I needed Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. No argument there! YUM! Then we headed out for the long drive back to Atlanta for the final race of Speedweek. Hooray! I was looking forward to half-price Frapp #3 of the weekend, a long-anticipated trip to Trader Joes, and finally getting home by 9 or 10. I got the frapp, and the kids again were happy to ride their scooters while I cheered. Brian was riding really well, near the front, and I was thrilled for him and hoping he’d stay near the front for the sprint finish. With 3 laps to go, I didn’t see him come by, and the next time the lead pace car came by, Brian’s teammate and USA Cycling official, Stuart, leaned out the window and yelled, “Brian is down!”

I thought he said turn #4, so I hurried the kids (and their scooters) back towards the finish line, where the motorcycle official was coming through after the race was finishing. He knows me, and he yelled, “No, the other direction!” I hurried the kids back the direction we’d come from, now halfway around the course. I tried not to panic, thinking at first, “No big deal” until I realized that Stuart wouldn’t have yelled at me if Brian had just crashed and was walking his bike back to the pit or something. At the corner near where I had been standing originally, a police officer and a kind woman, encouraged me to leave the now-walking kids and go ahead, so I raced down the block. I found Brian laying in the grass, already in a neck brace, being attended to by the EMT’s. They were getting ready to put him on a back board, and he was in a lot of pain in his shoulder/neck/collarbone. The EMT’s were cool and calm, and were going to get an IV started so they could give him something for the pain. [Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord, that he wasn’t hurt worse and that no one else crashed from him going down.]

Stuart came up with Brian’s bike, and he offered to take the kids so I could ride in the ambulance. But I knew we’d eventually need to have the car, and the EMT’s told me I could follow them. Bill, the moto official, was there too, and the kind woman was nearby with the police officer and the kids. Stuart walked the bike back to the car, and I comforted the kids, telling them that Daddy really was ok. Bill carried their scooters, and the sweet lady helped us get settled into the car. [Thank you, Lord, for keeping me calm and for surrounding me with people to help me and stay with the kids.]

Analise was, of course, really upset, but we got settled in the room in the ER with Brian. He was still in extreme pain, but they took amazing care of him at Northside. Honestly, it couldn’t have been a better ambulance/ER experience. [Thank you, Lord!!!! and please let the billing be so quick, easy and painless!]

While we were waiting for xray results, the nurse was going to clean up Brian’s road rash, which I knew was going to be miserable, so the kids and I headed off to McDonald’s. On the way there, my friend Brenna, texted me to see how the race weekend had gone. Oh my goodness… the perfect timing… I told her what had happened, and she replied they were just leaving Atlanta for Birmingham, and they would come get the kids. [Thank you, Lord, for knowing exactly what we needed, for giving Analise a great end to a stressful day, and for giving me a chance to focus completely on Brian for the drive home and the next morning. Thank you for perfectly timed texts and perfectly placed friends and answers to prayers that hadn’t even been prayed.]

The kids were THRILLED to ride back with the Mabrys, and after the fastest shopping trip at Trader Joes (please don’t think I’m terrible… Brian was well taken care of and it was super close to the hospital/McD’s), I headed back to the ER. I walked in to find Brian sitting up, and getting ready to go… so much better than the state I’d left him! Although he was badly bruised and battered and scraped up, the only broken bone was in his toe. [Thank you, Lord! That is amazing and almost miraculous for hitting the metal barrier at 33mph!]

The nurse compassionately gave us a dose of pain medicine before we left since we couldn’t fill the prescription before our 2.5 hr drive home. Regardless, it might have been the longest drive of our marriage. [Thank you, Lord, for pain medicine and muscle relaxants. And this prayer is echoed at least 10x for this past week.]

We got home at 12:30 am, and slowly got Brian cleaned up and settled in for a painful night. It was so very helpful that the kids were taken care of at the Mabry’s, so I could just take care of Brian. Brenna got Analise to school with her kids, and she brought Josiah home mid-morning. [Again, thank you, Lord, for taking such good care of my kids so I could take care of my husband! Thank you for friends!!]

So it’s been a long painful week for Brian (again, more pictures/details on Brian’s cycling blog). After seeing the ortho again on Tuesday (they, of course, remembered him from his visit last week), Dr. Powell diagnosed a Grade 2 shoulder separation. [Thank you, Lord, it wasn’t worse!]

He’s still got tons of muscle spasm in his biceps/triceps/neck, his foot/toe are bruised and sore, and his road rash wounds are finally scabbed over. His shoulder is still amazingly swollen, but he’s making slow progress on regaining movement. Brian’s teammate, Chris Allison, is also a PT, so he offered some great help Friday. [Thank you, Lord, again, for friends offering help.]

I sent out a tweet/FB message on Sunday immediately after the crash as we were leaving to follow the ambulance. I was overwhelmed with the responses, text messages and phone calls I got. I *knew* we were being prayed for, and I couldn’t have felt God’s hand of calm more gently around us in the midst of the stress. [Thank you, Lord. I can’t say it enough… thank you, Lord. It could have been so much worse, but I pray that no matter how good/bad the situation, I can walk in your grace and calm and confidence that You are in control. Thank you, Lord.]

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A series of unfortunate [bike race] events and several answers to prayer (Weekend 1)

14th May 2011

Life has been just flying by, and I’m really tired lately, so of course, none of this got posted in a timely manner. But there were so many emotions and amazing God-moments and gracious people involved in the crazy past few weeks, that I have to write it all down.

I know everyone wonders how I/we manage the constant go-go-go of Brian’s racing schedule, especially when we had several back to back weekends of travel scheduled for April/May. But one big bonus of traveling with him is seeing amazing friends at different races. Such was the case 2 weeks ago, when we left Friday for Athens, GA, to stay with Wayne & Jane Lunceford, and their lovely kids (who Analise and Josiah call their “cousins”. Awesome!). Brian wasn’t racing until 9pm on Saturday night, but we wanted to beat Friday’s Atlanta traffic and have a quiet Saturday before the race, Athens Twilight, one of the biggest/fastest/craziest races of Brian’s season. The kids and I went to the Relay for Life with Jane and the kids Friday night, went to bed late at their home, and had a super quiet Saturday morning relaxing with them in between baseball games. Such awesome hospitality. We look forward to hanging out with them every year. [Thank you, Lord, for amazing friends on our bike racing adventures!

The kids stayed at home for the race, since it wasn’t even starting until bedtime (thanks, Jane!!!), and Brian and I headed downtown to meet our friends from Birmingham, Ashley & Stephen Stepkoski. They are University of Georgia (located in Athens) alums, and we are in their Life Group here. When they heard Brian was racing in Athens, they immediately decided they wanted to come watch since they were due for a visit. It was so much fun to have their company for this race (which is really very stressful for me). We had fun cheering, and when we lost sight of Brian for 3 laps, having them there kept me from panicking that Brian might have crashed out. Which in fact he had… but he had gone to the pit and gotten put back in the race… and we finally caught a glimpse of him. He finished the race well, in 26th place, and even grabbed a $100 prime with 10 laps to go. It was really exciting, and again, so awesome to have them there. [Thank you, Lord, for keeping him safe!]

Back at the car, Brian was still hyped on adrenaline, but he mentioned that he landed hard on his hand, and his wrist was sore. Uh oh. But not too bad, at least with all the excitement of the great race still coursing through his veins. Another race was less than 20 hours away on Sunday afternoon in Roswell, GA, so we’d see how it felt in the am. [Please Lord, don’t let his wrist be broken…]

Sunday morning we got to go to Athens Church with the Luncefords, and had a leisurely lunch before we headed on our way towards Roswell. Brian’s wrist was really bothering him, though. He took something for the pain in the morning, and as we left at 1pm, it was starting to hurt more, so he took something else. Probably the worst decision of the day. On our way to Atlanta, he got really sick, and we arrived at the race with plenty of time to spare, which was great because Brian was sleeping, hoping for the sickness to wear off. He felt progressively better, and he was determined to at least start the race (the races are all in a series, and you get points for good finishes, finishing at all, and points for starting, so he wanted to get those, at least). When he finally got on the bike to see if he could even hold the handlebars, it was painful, but he was feeling ok enough to start. [Thank you, Lord, for getting him over how sick he was. And please, please, please let him finish in one piece…]

This was a rough race. Brian’s avoided crashes for the most part in the past couple years, but during the Roswell race, it became apparent that his luck had run out. Details are over on his cycling blog, but he got caught behind one crash, and went down in another. He cramped before the finishing stretch, which actually spared him from coming upon a bad wreck in the sprint finish. After the race, we headed home to Birmingham with two tired kids, a beat up, hopefully-not-broken Brian, broken bike, and one exhausted Kristine. [Simply put, thanks, Lord.]

I was afraid Brian might have broken his scaphoid, a tiny bone in his wrist with a poor blood supply. A great friend, Sheryll Coleman, responded within minutes to a FB message, and got in touch with an orthopedic in Birmingham who could see Brian on Monday. Whew! [Thanks, Lord, for well-connected friends!

Dr. Powell looked hard at the x-rays, and he was pretty sure Brian hadn’t broken the bone. Whew! [HUGE answer to prayer] And so he kept a wrist brace on and finished up classes at Samford (where he was awarded tenure last month! [HUGE answer to many, many prayers! Thank you, LORD!!]). Then on Friday, it was off to the races again, the last 3 races in the Speedweek series.

To be continued…

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Could this boy warm his momma’s heart any more?

13th May 2011

I wanted to drop J off in carpool, but he told me he wanted me to walk him in to his classroom. When I asked why he preferred that, he said, “I like holding your hand.” Who can resist that? I think we’ll walk in together the last 5 days of preschool.

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Smiling on a rainy Friday afternoon

13th May 2011

This sweet girl and her smile never cease to make me smile, too. I walked to school to pick her up, and she was excited about her boots and umbrella and the fact that it was barely raining but there were puddles to splash in. Happy Friday.

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What’s Cooking – Monster Cookies

4th May 2011

I repeated last year’s easy, delicious end-of-the-year gifts today… These amazing Monster Cookies with a cute little “thank you” tag. This is a Taste of Home recipe, and I can’t imagine a better monster cookie. Yum!


1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup M&M’s
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup salted peanuts
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, cream peanut butter, butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add baking soda and vanilla. Add oats, M&M’s, butterscotch chips and peanuts; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in flour (the dough will be crumbly).

Shape 1/4 cupfuls into balls. Place on greased baking sheets, about nine cookies on each sheet. Gently flatten cookies. Bake at 325° for 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen.

I decreased the oats by 1/2 cup and I used old fashioned instead of quick oats. Heaping 1/4 cup of dough, with M&M’s into top, spread slightly to be 3 to 4 inches across, for a total of 21 cookies. DELICIOUS!!


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Tornado update

3rd May 2011

It turns out that there were actually two tornadoes that missed our house – an EF1 to the southeast of us and an EF2 just to the north of us (the one that went through Mountain Brook and Cahaba Heights that I posted pictures from earlier). Here is the official preliminary report from the weather service:

Tornado report from the national weather service NOAA


Based on the weather report and my own observations on my bike commute route (shown in red) – I’ve updated my damage map below:

Tornado damage paths (click for full map). Red = commute route, Blue = tornado path, Green = trees down

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