Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

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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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How to camp… the Toone way

30th July 2011

The kids & I had a great inaugural camping trip in Wisconsin with Grandma Sandy and Poppa Dale in June, complete with thunderstorms, mosquitos, campfire and pit toilets. {note to self: must blog about this and entire awesome trip to Wisconsin. add to list of “things to do when kids are in school”. *gasp*… both kids, in 2 weeks!} Yesterday, the kids begged to set the tent up in the front yard. So like a fun mom, I agreed. They wanted to sleep out there, but I knew that wouldn’t last.

YouTube Video

So they settled in at 6:30, still full daylight. For about 5 minutes. After about 10 trips inside, and before darkness had even really started to make an appearance, Analise told me she wanted to stay inside. (She was scared, but honestly, it was HOT in the tent, even with a fan rigged up.) So Brian, the fun dad that he is, suggested bringing the tent inside. Amazingly, we could just pick it up and squeeze it through the front door with everything inside it. (picture below from earlier today)

After about 15 minutes in their sleeping bags last night in the tent in the living room, they both wanted to go to their beds… because the floor was too hard. They were tucked safely in by 8:30 and asleep within minutes.

Today, though, they piled every pillow they could find into the tent, along with many other “important” things. They told us they wanted to try sleeping in it again. Lo and behold, it must have been quite comfortable, because this is what they look now.

I love these two. I love how they’re growing to be better and better friends. They can spend a long time working together to make things happen, usually something quite creative but also quite a mess. They have plenty of disagreements and fights, and I often end up frustrated. But I love how this picture captures that, at the end of the day, they’ll end up at peace, by each other’s sides. Thank you, Lord, for letting me feel like I’m doing something right. May they always be friends.

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A week of horses for Analise

27th July 2011

A highlight of the summer for Analise will surely be the week she spent at a local Girl Scout camp, Camp Coleman, for horseback daycamp. They spent the mornings in the barn, riding, learning about all things related to horses and even cleaning out the stalls (Analise actually said, as only a 7-year old girl could say, “Today we got to clean out the stall! It was SO FUN! Except it really smelled!”) There were plenty of other camp activities, too… swimming, arts & crafts, playing in the creek, a climbing wall, culminating in an actual horseback ride around camp on Friday. She really enjoyed the week, except the middle few days were s little more challenging. “It’s really fun except when the horse doesn’t listen to you. Then it’s hard.” (um, like mothering?? I spared her the lecture.)

A few pictures that she brought home in a sweet little scrapbook on Friday (probably one of her most treasured keepsakes of the week.. along with a well-used horseshoe):

(PS – a HUGE thank you to Grandma Sandy & Poppa Dale for helping us give this to Analise as part of her birthday gift. Definitely memories that will last a long time!)

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Josiah’s swimming milestone!

25th July 2011

After just the 4th of 5 days of swimming lessons, Josiah jumped off the diving board and swam to the ladder. We are so proud of him!! Here’s a link to the video of the big moment:

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Happy Fourth of July! 2011

4th July 2011

“For freedom Christ has set us free…” and so we celebrate our freedom as believers and as Americans. Thank you, Lord!!

Analise is actually taller than Uncle Sam this year! (He’s a yearly fixture in Grandma Beverly’s patriotic decorations, and we measure the kids against him each year.) And next year, Josiah may have caught up to Analise AND be taller than Uncle Sam!

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5, 7, and 8

1st July 2011

The month of June is behind us, and though there are many numbers I could give you (like how many miles I traveled (10,000?), how many different beds I slept in (13), how many times I traveled through Chicago (4), how many hours behind I am on normal life (feels like at least 18!), I’ll focus on three special numbers.

The age my sweet boy turned on June 9th. Without me. But because he had presents before we left, and I arranged special delivery of cupcakes, a balloon and 2 HotWheels cars (thanks Allison!), I don’t think he really noticed we weren’t around. Josiah, my handsome little man, I am amazed every day at the thoughtful loving little person you are growing into. We love you so much, and we pray this year holds amazing adventures as God grows you into a faithful young man like King Josiah.

The age my baby girl turned just this week, June 29th. So many memories! How have I been a mom for 7 years already? This birthday was highly anticipated, from late May when she got to take treats to school to a very early party for both Analise and Josiah to early present-opening. Her actual birthday was spent at a fun worship arts camp, where she surprised us all with a solo. We capped off the day with a trip to PetSmart for our new fish, Pearl. Analise, my sweet girl, you’ll always be my baby. But you are growing into a lovely young lady, full of grace and confidence. I love spending time with you, and I pray this year holds many adventures where you taste more of Christ’s deep love for you.

The number of years Brian and I celebrate together in “the winter wonderland of constant awesomeness” that is marriage, according to author Jon Acuff. Time has flown by, and there’s been lots of love, laughs, adventures, and many miles. I kinda like spending time with you, Brian. This is getting kind of serious:)

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Nicaragua video collage

12th June 2011

This post has a bunch of videos, so if you are reading this on facebook you will need to view the post on our blog in order to see the videos. Here is the link:

Here is a collage of videos from our trip … enjoy! But before you watch our videos, you should watch the first video below which explains the work of Nuevas Esperanzas in the community of El Ojochal.

Here are all of our videos with descriptions ABOVE each video:

This is a video of a short segment of the road to the El Ojochal community. The road is extremely rugged, but the Toyota Landcruiser is able to make it up and bring supplies for building rainwater harvesting tanks and other projects.

Andrew explains the view that we are seeing around Volcan Telica. The communities of Agua Fria and El Ojochal are high up on the volcano. Agua Fria was temporarily evacuated after the recent eruption. Hopefully it has settled down, but there is no evidence that the magma activity has subsided.

A gecko grabs a moth off the wall right outside our room. These geckos make a sweeting kissing sound when they are calling to each other. They are lightning fast and catch all kinds of insects – if only they ate mosquitoes!

Andrew explains some of the views from our vantage point on a hillside summit overlooking the crater of Volcan Telica.

A member of the El Ojochal community explains some of the challenges with the reforestation project.

Horseback riding from the lower part of El Ojochal to the very top. The road built by Nuevas Esperanzas stops at the school, which is the central part of the community. To get to the highest houses, you have to hike or take a horse. We chose to take a horseback ride up the steep mountain.

Members of Nuevas Esperanzas see one of the bee hives up close. Amazing that team member Erica (in the white shirt) didn’t even have gloves on!

Enrique from the Nuevas Esperanzas team explains to us the gardening project.

El Ojochal preschool (3-5 yr olds) kids welcome us with a short song.

More video of the drive up to El Ojochal on the road built by Nuevas Esperanzas.

A collage of videos from the arsenic project in the communities of Nuevas Amanecer and La Union.

Video of the school in the community of Nueva Amanecer – plus view of the El Ojochal hillside.

Riding in the back of the truck to Nueva Amanecer and La Union.

Anna plays a very large game of hopskotch after church.

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Nicaragua good-bye for now!

9th June 2011

If you had told me last week how much we would accomplish in our short visit to Nicaragua, I would not have believed you! What an amazing visit this has been seeing this beautiful country, seeing the impact of Nuevas Esperanzas on the communities of El Ojochal through the effective long-term development strategies being implemented in projects as diverse as rainwater harvesting and beekeeping. Yesterday was a special opportunity to worship alongside most of the entire Nuevas Esperanzas team during Friday tea (moved to Wednesday to accomodate our tight timeframe). With Leo on the guitar, Andrew on the trumpet, and Emma on the flute it was a special time of reflection thinking of what we are thankful for and for what we would petition God for Nuevas Esperanzas.

Before the photos, some maps of where we went on Monday and Tuesday … on Monday, we spent the day in the communities of La Union and Nueva Amanecer

Tuesday was our day full of hiking, horse-back riding up a steep volcano hillside, beekeeping, and meeting people from the community of El Ojochal.

Only a few more pictures to post from our day full of meetings and reflection yesterday including a very early bike ride to the beach. I’ll be posting several videos over the weekend.

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