Here we are!

Here we are!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Santa does double duty

The quote of the century: "Look, it's Santa taking out the trash." From the advent calendar, said by Daniel.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cinnamon Spice XV

July 22, 1997 - November 29, 2007

Cinnamon was born to Primo Lionheart and Primo Night Flight in Auberry, CA as a sable Shetland Sheepdog. She was adopted in the Neufeld family as Tracy's birthday gift. Her early years were spent in high energy while learning new tricks and good behavior. As an adult, Cinnamon loved spending time with the family. Her favorite place to visit was Hume Lake. She would get so car sick on the drive up, but once there, was ready to play. She couldn't wait for the PB&J sandwiches to be made because she knew she would get the cut-off crusts. Her favorite trick was to do a "Cinnamon Roll" where she would roll over for a treat. Every morning she would run outside and try to chase off the birds and squirrels. Next, she would grab one of our shoes and give it a good shake, and then drop it in the middle of the lawn. She never learned to bring the shoe back though. If she got into the trash while we were gone, we would already know she did something wrong as we walked in because of her guilty look. Her second Christmas, she stayed home while we went out; when we returned, there was wrapping paper and bows covering the entire floor. She was a good dog and will be missed greatly. She is predeceased by a pet goldfish. She is survived by her loving family.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tell Me What You Know

Sara Groves just released her latest album, Tell Me What You Know, last week. I've given it a few spins and it's really great! But, a word of introduction... it is only that great if you've seen her Nomad DVD because this CD is in response to her trip to Africa. Brown Bannister did way better than the last one. There is a lot of variety between the songs that include sounds like pop, jazz and even something you might expect off a Carrie Underwood album. There's even a touch of monster ballad, big-hair-band sound (minus the big-hair-band). And then there is the signature Sara Groves/piano/strings. But definitely the word for this album is VARIETY. There is one song, "I Saw What I Saw," where the pinnacle of the song is so restrained, I am almost guessing that this hesitation is on purpose to make a point. Then there is "Love is Still a Worthy Cause" that's got a fun pop sound you might envision being off an 80's sitcom theme song. And the release "When the Saints" is so heavily produced that it actually works (and it would be really great to see it live with a full choir). So run out and grab a copy for yourself or order one off her website,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What started out as a picture of just Michael turned into all his friends jumping in. He's trying to strike a pose that says, "oh yeah, I'm cool."

Daniel's 5!

Obi Wan and Superman to the Rescue.
Fresno Philharmonic
We got to go see the Fresno Philharmonic last weekend with the fabulous Joshua Bell. We weren't planning on it, but someone had to cancel and gave us their tickets IN THE FIFTH ROW CENTER. What really made it great was that we had already made arrangements for babysitting earlier that week. What made it even greater was that we grabbed some fish tacos beforehand and there was free parking at Saroyan. And what made it even greater was that during the first half of the concert, the seat in front of Tim was empty. And what made it even greater was the great music by violinist Joshua Bell and the impromptu encore not usually performed. If you read the review in the Fresno Bee on Saturday, it was pretty accurate. In the middle of discovering how the planets must have aligned so we could get this great evening, I asked Tim if he was waiting for a sign from God for something... and if so, then this was his sign. But he said that no, in fact he was not waiting for a sign, but needed an evening of decompressing. Oh, and to make it even greater, we somehow were able to exit the parking structure minus the crowds and drive from downtown to NE Fresno in less than fifteen minutes (no speeding either).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

At the soccer game...

Go #26, that's my boy! Regardless of the teammates who played backwards, we won 4-0!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Death in the Family
We had a funeral yesterday. One of our goldfish died. In the evening, it looked like he/she was laying down taking a nap in the fake plant. Then after realizing that it really was not going to last too much longer, I separated him/her from the other two fish and watched him/her start to "breathe" slower and slower. I told the boys the fish would probably die soon. Daniel went to brush his teeth and said to the fish, "Bye fishie, have a nice die..." When the brushing of teeth was finished, Michael came in and said, "I think the fish is dead." Sure enough, he/she was a goner. So we said farewell to the fish and sent him/her down the toilet. (Because all drains lead to the ocean according to Nemo.) About a minute later, Michael is sobbing and he doesn't know why. I said I thought he was sad because of the fish. He said he thought so too. I replied that it was o.k. to be sad for the fish, but we really needed to be sad like that when something bad happened to people and not to fish, because we actually eat fish (well, not this one, but you get the picture). Recovery was pretty smooth, but the bedtime story had to be edited a little. It was Mickey's Christmas Carol (Daniel chose it) and in this version Tiny Tim didn't die during the Spirit-of-Christmas-Yet-To-Come's visit. But we did have a fun conversation about how the fish could not come back to life in the ocean and that Jesus was the only one who could do that (and I know of more in the Bible, i.e. Lazarus, but that's another day).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Praying Mantis

We have had a praying mantis hanging on the inside of our screen door for about two months. It finally molted its third molting. Did you know praying mantises molt? Neither did I! Apparently, they turn green and get their wings after the third molt. We have tried to "release" it and it just doesn't want to leave that narrow place between the glass sliding door and the screen door. I think it's all those delicious dead bugs stuck in the cracks. Maybe it will fly away now.
Here you can see the "skin" it left behind.

Fast and Fabulous

Ah ha! I've been inspired:

Heat a tablespoon of e.v.o.o. in a pan, heat a clove or two of minced garlic, add salmon fillet, season. Turn when first side is done, season. When done, remove from pan. Add to pan some sun dried tomatoes packed in o.o. Then add fresh spinach leaves. When wilted, place on top of salmon. Wow!! So I'm probably not the first to come up with this recipe, and I won't be the last, but my tummy is pretty happy right now!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Canning Peaches

When O'Henry peaches are ready, we start canning quarts to put away for those cold winter days when we need a jar of sunshine. We peel and slice and cook and jar all morning, and when those are done, we peel and slice and bag the rest for freezing. Then we can have sunshine smoothies in January when it is grey outside. My mom, my grandma and I can actually go pretty fast. Last year my grandpa even got in on the action. You would think one would get tired of eating fresh peaches for several days straight, but we don't. It's kind of the same way you don't really get tired of eating local strawberries in May day after day. Because you know you have to get your fill while they're ripe!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Crazy Cannonball

So Saturday was the annual shopping trip to Gilroy with my mom, Tim's mom and my SIL, Jen. Jen is 18 weeks pregnant and we were able to find some cute maternity clothes for her. She just found out Monday that they are having a boy! My poor mom will have to wait yet again for a granddaughter. But we had a grand time and talked a lot. We didn't score too big on sales, but it was fun anyway. My deal of the day was a pair of sandals for Daniel for $2.74 at Children's Place. Which leads me to a really funny story. The registers at Children's Place are located in the middle of the store. There are 4 registers forming a square. All four registers each had one person being helped with no line or queue rope anywhere. I just stood near a corner of the counter and about 3 people got in line behind me. An "associate" came over and told us that the line actually started over there (pointing to a small sign hanging from the ceiling, of all places, above a rack of clothing). Seeing that the 4 of us in line had very confused looks on our faces, she walked us personally to the spot where the ambiguous "line" started. I was so happy to be the first one in this newly formed line. Then, in true Saturday Night Live fashion, the "associate" walked back to her register (mind you the register is about 12 yards away) and looked over at us and said "I can help the next person in line." I looked around for Ben Stiller, thinking that something like this can only happen in one of his movies. But we had lots of fun and returned home tired.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today we are staying cool indoors. The boys and I went to the library to see Unique Derique, a clown/juggler. Last week Daniel and I went to see Norman Ng and he was fantastic! We've been swimming every day this week. This month we are probably using a ton of energy on the A/C, but WE HAVE SOLAR!! Our total electric bill for the last 12 months was $145. For information, read Tim's post here. Tim is still on crutches, so today in the yard I added edging along with the mowing and it took forever. Not like the guys that come in and edge and mow your lawn in about 5 minutes. My tomatoes are getting ripe, but they are still pretty small. At least this year I have tomatoes instead of just bare tomato plants. Next year, we'll work on getting them a little bigger. Daniel and I found an enormous tomato worm last week and we named him Heimlich (like the one on Bug's Life). Before we found it, Daniel said I was the "finder" of tomato worms and he was the "smasher." But when he saw how big it was, he said I could smash it.
Ode to Bermuda Grass
Long, trailing vines.
Rooting indiscriminately
among the fescue.
Shoots of seed
waiting to be blown in the wind.
Your ugly blades growing
all directions.
You trail like a snake
along the cement and dirt.
Why can't you be pretty
like the tall, staunch fescue?
It grows and stays
where it was planted.
So soft and orderly,
not haphazard and gnarly.
Bermuda, go away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ode to Spurge

Oh spurge you are the perfect weed,

You make me feel that I'll succeed

in ridding you out of my yard

but you are, in fact, extremely hard.

You pop up in the dirt and lawn

and don't need any water drawn.

I pull and pull and hoe away

and you come back the very next day!

You hide the ants under your flowers

that ooze with sticky milky powers.

But just at OSH today I spied

a postemergent while passing by.

I'll have to give that drink a shot

When it is not so dreadfully hot!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Que Pasa?
This week Michael is in Ohio with Nana and Papa to visit his cousins. Daniel has been a little bored but we have been trying to keep him busy. It has been hard since Tim can't walk or drive, so they have been playing lots and lots of Sorry. Saturday I mowed the lawn for the first time (I've mowed a lawn before, just not at this house). Tim usually likes to do it, well maybe not "likes," but it makes him proud to have a good looking lawn to play on. So I tried my best not to butcher it. One day, Daniel got tired of waiting for us to play with him, so he sat down on a pile of blankets while he waited. He started to get quieter and quieter, and before we knew it, he was asleep in this pile of blankets next to the couch. Pretty cute!

One other thought... Does anyone actually enjoy shopping at Walmart here in California? I was there the other day to get school supplies. Sharing the aisle with someone else, we were both interrupted by a man pushing a large floor cleaning machine. Now, we were not loitering, we were not acting bored, WE WERE SHOPPING. It was the afternoon, it was not closing time. He actually asked us, mid-reach for product, to please leave the aisle so he could clean the floor. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I am here to spend money and you want me to leave? It's not like the floor was slippery or crunchy. It was dirty, but what floor in Walmart isn't? So this man proceeds to walk the machine down the aisle that he just kicked us out of, followed by a lady with a dry mop. Then as this other customer and I try to go back to shopping, they wave and say that no, they have to come back. So we back up again, and they push the machine around again, and dry mop again, and then the man takes a "caution" sign and starts fanning the floor. Let me tell you, I was so excited to shop on a clean floor! So I calculated the extra 5 miles plus time it takes than just to go to Target, and figured I had to have a savings of $6 over the same stuff, had I gone to Target in the first place. But, I hear the Midwest Walmarts are actually clean and a nice place to shop. I'll stick with Target. Hello. Goodbuy.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Foot Surgery
Tim is recovering from foot surgery to remove a damaged "neuroma" between his 3rd and 4th toe on his right foot. It was very unfortunate that I forgot to take my camera to the surgery place or else you would have had a great shot of Tim in a hospital gown with a shower cap on. But here is his foot.

What a great way to spend a 111 degree day! Inside, feet propped up, a nice dose of vicodin, and a handful of DVDs. Speaking of... Did you see Casino Royale? Finally saw it, and a bit disappointed. Not really a typical James Bond movie. Even from the opening credits it was very unstereotypical. Usually there are so many subplots and strategies that I can't keep up with it on the first viewing. This one was pretty shallow... I mean, why would M reveal to us in one sentence at the end of the movie what could have been an interesting subplot. It was filled with too much Texas Hold'em obviously playing to the increased popularity. And what about the missing Q?? Oh, there were so many omissions, I hope Ian doesn't turn over in his grave. Please, "Bond 22" don't let me down next year! And leave out the torture scene written by someone's 14 year old son!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Independence Day

Our day started off with yardwork and a pancake breakfast. Tim stayed home to work in the yard before it got over 100 degrees and while he could still use his foot before surgery. I took the boys to the North Fresno Church pancake breakfast at Woodward Park.

Then it was time to make apple pie. Daniel helped with the crust.

That evening we had an all-American dinner with Tim's parents and then watched the fireworks outside of Buchanan stadium. Michael was extremely worried about something catching on fire and hoped everyone would be safe. We barbecued chicken, had corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon, garlic bread and salad.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sailing at Hume

Last weekend we went to Hume with Tim's family in town from Ohio. Tim took all the kids out on his cat (not all at the same time-that would sink it) and they had a great time! Even without a jib!

We had fun at Sandy Cove while the kids took turns on the cat.

They built lakes with dams, rivers, sandcastles, and blew bubbles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You know the saying... Men marry women like their mother??

This is on Father's Day; we met at Doghouse Grill for lunch after church.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2007

If Blogs Were Around in Moses' Day
...thoughts on mothers in the Bible

A son was born. It was a quiet birth; it had to be. No one could know about this boy. The midwife knew that the Hebrew boys had to be killed immediately upon birth, but she feared God more than Pharoah. He was such a good baby. His cries sounded like a little lamb and the infant remained a secret. His tiny clear eyes looking up at me still break my heart. How innocent and helpless he was; I was the only person keeping him alive. But you can only hide diapers for so long. And so, when he was three months old, still helpless, I had to send him away. They were coming to kill him, or I could risk his life to save it. So I feed him and wonder if this is the last time I will hold this little life in my arms. God, please protect him! Everyone knows a baby can’t swim, and he is floating in a river! Please don’t tip over, please stay warm, please stay quiet until you are supposed to be found. Yes, Lord, he is yours. I wish he were still here. Please help him know I did this because I love him. If it’s in your will, bring him back to me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


During spring break, we went to Disneyland. While Tim was at the Anaheim 07 conference at the Anaheim Hilton, Tracy took the boys to Disneyland and California Adventure. The first day started off with a bang, literally. Daniel tripped right before the Lion King parking lot tram ride. He landed on his face and bumped his forehead and scraped his cheek, nose and elbow. So the first visit of the day was the first aid. After some bandaids, pain reliever, and ice, we were ready for Buzz. After two relatively "low capacity" days, Tim joined us for the 3rd day and we were blown away by how crowded it was. It was even more crowded than the week before Christmas! What a drag. Speaking of drag, Tim took Daniel back to the hotel that evening and I dragged Michael on Space Mountain. He was waiting for a scary part of the ride, and when it never came, he was really excited about going on it again. Now it is his favorite ride. We got out of Space Mountain during the fireworks and the walked right onto Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear, Astro Orbiter, Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room. Our adventure ended with a stop at Ikea and a remarkably unscenic 2-hour 30-mile drive along Interstate 5. Then we finally made it home.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Easter Party
The boys had fun at an Easter party at our friends', the Pigotts.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Liberty Elementary Open House
Michael had his 2nd grade Open House on Tuesday. We got to see lots of fun things they have been working on. His teacher is so wonderful! She has them create things about "who they are" and "who is their family" and then shows us the videos from their animal report presentation. They documented the life cycle of a butterfly and here is a humorous excerpt from Michael's Butterfly Observation Journal:
  • The catapiler is 2 centemeters! At 9:40 harry (The caterpiler) ate...
  • At one fifty seven we think it is sheding it's pupa. It is still 2 cm long...
  • We finnaley found that our caterpiller is a chrisalis now. We are very exsited...
  • The caterpiller is almost a butterfly! I'm getting the feeling it's going to turn into a butterfly soon. It is all the way a pupa...
  • It's almost time for a butterfly. I am so very exsited...
  • Are's is about to hatch. We are realy, realy, realy, realy exsited...
  • YEAH! My butterfly is out of the chrislys. It is hanging on to the butterfly cage...
  • More broke out of the chislys. I think when they're all out they're going to to out.

Whew! What a journal. I did not know that 2nd graders could get so excited about butterflies.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A U2 St. Paddy's Day Party
With some fun friends, good food and great music, we had quite a night. The invitation was to bring something Irish or green to eat to the Neufelds. So we had corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, green jello salad, Mountain Dew, lime Koolaid, and someone even brought a pizza! Well, it had green peppers on it, so it counted. We watched U2 until it was time for bed, and then we watched "just one more" until it was really time for bed. Especially being on a Saturday night. So I tried my first corned beef in the slow cooker. It was actually really easy and I made sure to see what Alton Brown instructed first. Actually, I just picked one up at the store and threw it in the crock pot with a couple bottles of Guiness. Oh, and I also made the most incredible Irish Cream Cake! Hope you had a safe and green St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Decomposed Granite

This past weekend was full of it... granite, that is. We spread 6 tons of decomposed granite on the side of our house. I (Tracy) am happy to say that I shoveled 5 of the 6 tons! Or, as Tim says, I shoveled a plethora of granite. Tim has been watering the pathway twice a day, and I keep asking him if anything is growing yet. No, seriously, supposedly it will be a pathway where the trash cans won't get stuck in a rut. (Because as you know, it is illegal for trash cans to be seen from the street here in beautiful Fresno. But it's o.k. to spray graffiti on signs, curbs, buildings and lampposts.) The weather was good too; high 70's to low 80's. We even broke a record yesterday with a high of 84 degrees.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Tim!
Saturday marked a special day in the Neufeld house. Tim was actually home on his birthday! No more wishing a happy birthday over the phone or webcam or coming in late after a conference. Tim did not a whole lot for his birthday. He relaxed with the family and then we all went to Sal's for dinner. (The Fresno one, not the Selma original.) His "birthday cake" was actually homemade cinnamon rolls that morning. If you want the recipe, click here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Aaaah... Sara Groves
Can I just tell you how much I love Sara Groves' songs? I just finished a two week stint with U218 playing in the car (I'll try to get a video of the boys singing Elevation sometime) so it was refreshing to return. The latest enjoyment is off her older album, "All Right Here." It's a pretty simply produced album that gives lots of vocal and lyrical enjoyment. I really like "The Other Side Of Something" produced by Charlie Peacock; the music and lyrics fit so well together. Unfortunately, Brown Bannister mellowed out "Add To The Beauty's" powerful lyrics with smooth and sappy harmonies (with the exception of You Are The Sun), but Sara seems to appreciate his expertise. Sara is still my hero! She can write in such a way that makes you fall on your face before God; her music can dissipate any pride or insecurities. "Station Wagon: Songs for Parents" is a fun little album that has some strange effects in odd places (especially for this type of album) but those can be overlooked to get to the good stuff. I also recommend the Nomad reality film featuring Sara; you will be moved.

From her website: "God has invited us, as mere human beings, to add to the beauty of his plan and creation. Unbelievable. The Kingdom of God transcends politics and policy, nationality, gender and race. It transcends the way we do church, and makes us a real live body of believers. It gives us the ability to be very different and still bear with one another. It gives us the power to extend the same kind of grace that has been extended to us, and to love each other with a love that never fails. The very real kingdom of God calls out of us, it’s inhabitants, beautiful art, creative lives, and redemptive work."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Taco Tuesday!
In the Neufeld house, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. We all like eating tacos, they are quick and easy to prepare, and it's one less night of the week to figure out what's for dinner. Tonight, Tim came home with fresh corn tortillas from the Vallarta supermercado right across the street from FPU. They are so fresh, they feel like suede leather. He also brought home pico de gallo, tortilla chips, and pan dulce. A few years ago in MOPS, a friend of mine gave me her yummy salsa verde recipe. Here it is: Simmer 20 tomatillos, 2 jalapenos, and 1 or 2 serranos in a little water with a tablespoon of salt. When just tender, remove from heat and let cool. Pour in a blender and add 3 green onions, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro and juice of a lime. Blend to desired consistency, season to taste.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Today I decided to start the blog. I've had this blog for a long time, but never actually used it. After Tim being away for two weeks, and having lots of 8-year-old and 4-year old conversations, I realized I've been doing the yakkity-yak thing with anyone who will listen. So, desperate for an outlet, here are my ramblings. Not only that, but after Tim got home Friday night, Michael came down with the flu, so I stayed home from church with the boys. Still home today with them and wouldn't you know Daniel threw up. Tonight we are having enchiladas verde casserole for dinner. This fun supermercado opened up recently and they sell jalapeno flavored bright green corn tortillas. So what a great pairing: green enchilada sauce with green tortillas.