Monday, May 19, 2014

Lists, lists, and more lists

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My bloggy-BFF, Dawn, is a bird watching superstar, and she's raising a couple of birdwatching superstars. Her boys recently took part in a bird watching competition and identified 114 different birds! They also added some new birds to their life list. Serious birders have a life list to keep track of all the different birds they've identified. I'm not sure how big Dawn's family's life lists are, but I'm sure it's impressive (Dawn, please tell us in the comments!)

I've decided that since I'm hopeless when it comes to identifying a bird by its call, and it takes me forever to identify them by appearance because it usually turns into an hour-long internet search, my birding life list will consist of birds that kindly pose for a decent photo. I think, then, that makes my life list in 10-12 range. ; )

Yesterday, we were having Sunday dinner and enjoying the hummingbirds visiting our feeder that hangs just on the other side of the window. Then Marc pointed out a bird in the tree who had a flashing yellow belly, and immediately I knew it was someone I hadn't noticed before, so I jumped up from the table and ran for my camera. Of course, the camera was upstairs and was missing the camera card because I had been uploading track photos the day before. By the time I found the card and got the camera ready, the bird was less than patient, but I did manage to get a few pictures from our school room window. And then it flew directly at me and hit the window, which was quite frightening when viewing from a zoom lens! Then it perched on the gutter and chattered loudly. I'm pretty sure it was telling me off. Maybe it's the private type. At least it didn't repeatedly hit the window, like the tanager from a couple of years ago.

Anyhoo, I was greatly pleased that I was able to quickly identify our new visitor as a Great Crested Flycatcher. I would have loved to get a better shot from the front with that yellow belly (reminds me of my favorite bird, the Cedar Waxwing), but I'm happy enough just to add another bird to my list.

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Speaking of lists, today is one of my favorite days of the year -- first day of summer break, also known as list-making day. Lists of the things that need to get done this summer. Lists of books to read. Lists of homeschool materials to buy. And since I haven't been grocery shopping in two weeks, the grocery list will be one of the first lists to make. It's been a crazy couple of months, so today is a day of sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and dreaming that this just might be the summer I get it all done. I know it's not true, but just let me dream and enjoy my lists for one day. : )

Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome, May!

The beautiful month of May brings . . .

a much needed break from school. The girls will be done in less than two weeks, and Ryne has finished or will finish most his subjects in the next couple of weeks. Just don't ask me how we're doing on science.

a much needed break from the busy, busy schedule of March and April. Remember my day in the life? I haven't had a Thursday (or any other day of the week, except Sundays) that relaxed since then! I spent my whole spring break week organizing our basement/storage room, and then it was just one activity or event after another. So many fun times (and a few bleh), but just too many of them!

I don't do well with busy-stress, and I fell back into some bad habits the last fews weeks, including a few too many stops for sugary coffee or other forms of caffeine. Plus, I only got in half the exercise I had been doing. Amazing how it can take months to lose 5 pounds but just a few weeks to put it on.

Cinco de Mayo. But before I start getting all healthy again, I figured I'd go out with a bang. And it was worth it! We actually had our Mexican-themed dinner a day early, so now I can tell you that your celebration of Mexico's victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla (can you tell what we studied in history last week?) will not be complete unless you make Pioneer Woman's Tres Leches Cake right now. I want to know how I could have grown up in Texas and never had this amazing (and fairly easy) dessert before. It is a new family favorite.

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Even better, if you're really going to do Cinco de Mayo right, you must try these Chicken Enchiladas Suizas too. The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Colorado Collage, but I was able to find the recipe online here.

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These enchiladas have been a family favorite for years and are perfect for entertaining. I typically serve them with black beans and some sauteed squash. Sadly, the recipe does not meet my standards for easy weeknight fare. There's a lot of chopping and shredding involved (although once I learned this tip for shredding chicken, life became much easier), so I generally save it for Sunday dinners.

Therefore, if you're trying to make a last minute decision on what to have for dinner tonight, and you're feeling the Cinco de Mayo spirit, I totally give you permission to skip the enchiladas this time and just make the cake. As in eat cake for dinner. Tell your family I said, "You're welcome." ; )