Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

before. and after.

We’re going to have to tell her.


We’re going to have to tell my sweet 7 year old something that will cause her to grieve. It will prompt a sadness in her that I won’t be able drive away with hugs or snuggles. I won’t be able to distract her, to make it better or fix it. It’s a loss she won’t understand. It’s a loss I don’t understand. It just is.

Thank you to Jenn at Mommy Needs Coffee for sharing this amazing post from Breed ‘Em and Weep. It was only after I selected these paragraphs to highlight that I realized Jenn had chosen some of the same words to quote:

Tomorrow we will tell the girls about a difficult loss. It is a peculiar thing to sit on the edge of your child’s bed, watching her sleep, knowing that tomorrow you will say something that will stop her heart briefly and force her through a door she would not have chosen herself. Children do not take kindly to loss, and why should they? As adults we can barely stand it, barely have the ability to comprehend the who-was-who-now-isn’t, the what-was-that-now-is-lost . . .

. . . I rock some more. I think: Loss is loss; there is rarely recovery. Recovery is a myth; change is what comes after a loss, not recovery. There is merely change . . .

. . . I would stand between them and the losses of the world if I could. This is why I cry. Because I am clever; I know well how to create secret compartments and tuck away unpleasantries as needed. It has not served me well over time, not really, but I have a talent for it.

My parent’s divorce is final as of today. My father will continue to live in the home they shared for the last 30 years, twenty minutes away. My mother is retiring and moving to a new home, which is a two day drive from us. She will be leaving on May 11th. Yes. That is Mother’s Day.

11 days from today.

FavoriteSon already knows. But, we are going to have to tell PinkGirl.


April 30, 2008 Posted by | pragmatic parenting | , , | 7 Comments

freakish junk drawer

This is my freakish “junk drawer.” You know the drawer. At my house, it’s in the kitchen. It used to be a mess. The place you put something when you don’t know where it goes. So full of stuff it sometimes gets jammed because something is sticking up inside.

Today it looks like this: (click to see a larger and more detailed image.)

But the BEST part is that it has looked this good for YEARS. Seriously. YEARS. How? By applying the Underwear Principle and answering the question “Where Does it Go?”

The drawer went through more than a few changes before it finally ended up in this particular configuration. The key to its long term organization was to pay attention to what happened inside the drawer after I organized it the first time. One glance and I could tell what was and was not working for my family. What were they stuffing in there? Was it consistent enough to make a “home” for it in this drawer? For all the things currently stored in that drawer today, the answer was yes. For all the other stuff they were tossing in there? I found a “home” for it someplace else. (like receipts, cough drops, business cards, cell phone chargers . . . you name it. It all has to have a home or it will end up in the junk drawer. Or worse. On my kitchen counter.)

In case you can’t tell what’s in here, let me give you a little tour. In the top back left, we store extra tape and staples. Along the back, from left to right, we keep lip balm, rubber bands, safety pins and paper clips. Back to the left, in the white rectangular bin we keep tools (screwdrivers, a little hammer, usually an emery board and often a Tide pen). Next, in the tan rectangular bin we keep highlighters and a staple remover. In the large black drawer organizer, we have pencils and markers (I love my Sharpies). Below that are pens and mechanical pencils, separated by a small plastic bin holding pencil lead. Below that, in the bottom left corner, it’s pretty easy to see what’s there: Tape dispenser, stapler, sorted change and calculator. Then over to the right, we have colored ink pens, a stamp dispenser and extra stamps, and in the front, we have scissors and hole punch. You can probably see the rulers we tuck along the right side of the drawer.

Notice that everything is in containers and none of the containers are round. I hate round containers. They waste space.

I know.

I’m a freak.

But it Works For Me. Thanks Shannon, for hosting Works for Me Wednesdays!

April 30, 2008 Posted by | freakishly organized | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Miley’s embarrassed.

I’m disappointed. She’s embarrassed. But at least she apologized. I still had to talk to my 7 year old about it.

I began the conversation by telling PinkGirl that “Miley let a photographer take a picture of her holding a blanket in front of her – but she wasn’t wearing a shirt.”

PinkGirl’s response?


Can’t answer that one. But we talked about the possibilities.

Miley issued a statement apologizing to her fans, but what’s done is done.

I’m just as uncomfortable with the photos Bill Reilly talks about. There’s no “art” to “misinterpret” (Annie Leibovitz’s response). These are a glimpse into her personal life. Her personal, private life. In this age of cell phone cameras and digital photography, personal privacy is much more difficult to maintain and demands the highest level of discretion.

PinkGirl and I have a LOT more talking to do.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | pragmatic parenting | 1 Comment

EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival

We went to EPCOT yesterday for the 2008 Flower and Garden Festival. It was BEAUTIFUL, but, I must admit, a little disappointing. There just wasn’t as much diversity of color as in past years. We went in June of 2006 and (although I didn’t take lots of pictures), I remember it being much more elaborate. I really loved these in 2006 (made entirely out of flowers):

Mickey Stamp

Cinderella Stamp

We REALLY missed the “Hidden Mickeys” too! When we’ve gone before, there have been Mickey heads hidden in the flowers and it’s always fun to find them. (The guide book gave hints.) We were very disappointed that they didn’t do that this year.

All in all, we had a very nice family day. Check out these PHOTOS from yesterday’s visit!

Want an EPCOT “little known fact” from the Mickey Freaks? If you are leaving EPCOT after dark, look for the sparkling lights! We always walk on the RIGHT side of Spaceship Earth and the walkway is covered with squares that light up and sparkle like stars. My daughter loves to run and jump on them as they move around. They look even better without the flash from the camera! Click on the image to see it better. (I’m not sure if they are on the left side too.)

EPCOT After Dark - To The Right of Spaceship Earth

April 28, 2008 Posted by | peace love mickey | , | 1 Comment

many hands make light work.

or in this case, “many legs make light work” or “many tails make light work.” Either way, I need some friends like these today.

April 25, 2008 Posted by | youtube | , , | 2 Comments

frozen chicken? cream cheese chicken.

I stumbled upon a recipe that turned out to be a REAL hit! So far, EVERYBODY I’ve shared this with has reported it a hit with even the pickiest eaters in their family. The fact that it took 5 minutes to prepare made it even better! Seriously. 5 minutes. (Click HERE for a modification we tried and LOVED)

cream cheese chickenIngredients:
4-5 boneless (fresh, frozen or thawed) chicken breasts (we often buy frozen by the bag)
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can black beans (drained)
1 (15 ounce) can corn (drained)
1 (15 ounce) jar salsa, any kind
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

Put the FROZEN (yes, FROZEN!) chicken breasts into the crockpot.
Pour in the (drained) black beans, the corn and the salsa.
Turn the Crockpot on high and walk away.
Come back in about 4-5 hours.
When it’s done, toss in the cream cheese and put the lid back on for 1/2 hour.

(The chicken is usually falling apart at this point, but I take two forks to it and shred it anyway. CLICK HERE if you don’t know how to shred meat.)

Done. Eaten. Gone.

UPDATE: A GREAT variation: I doubled the recipe except for the chicken and the cream cheese (I have a large crockpot). But this time, we rolled everything up in flour tortillas and made burritos! Next time I either need to use less salsa or maybe just take the lid off and let the mixture stand a little to thicken up, the burritos were a little too runny. But they were GOOD. It does take an extra few minutes to roll burritos after everything is cooked, but it’s still only 5 minutes to prepare on the front end!

FirstHusband and FavoriteSon both gave it two thumbs up. Over at it has a total of 480 reviews with a total rating of 4 1/2 stars. Take a look at the reviews to see variations suggested by those who have tried it!

My other variations? I had to leave the house after two hours, so I cooked it 2 hours on high, 6 hours on low. I’ve never made it with fresh or thawed chicken breasts, so I don’t know how long it would take, but I’m thinking the LOW setting for sure.

Also, my serving didn’t have the cream cheese in it and I still liked it! The chicken was SO moist!

Click Here for a print friendly version in PDF!

April 24, 2008 Posted by | 5 minutes, recipes | , | 2 Comments

small is tall

And this is one more reason why I make my own coffee.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | caffeine, laugh!, youtube | , | 4 Comments

banana. sweet!

This goes out to the next mom whose child says: “Oh! Mom! I forgot to tell you. I need to take in some food to school tomorrow.”

Food? What kind of food?

“Laos food.”

Laos food? As in ‘food often eaten by the people of Laos?’ (I pay attention. I saw the PowerPoint show he already turned in. over. and over. and over. again.)

“uh huh.”

(I just stare at him.)

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t talk, I’m thinking about how you are going to make this up to me.”

So I participate in the internet search because I know I’ve got to go to Publix later and I would like to actually FIND the ingredients for the “Laos food.”

I just have one thing to say: YUM!

Check this out:

6 bananas, sliced
2 1/2 cups of coconut milk (look in the ethnic food section of your grocery store)
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (I just sprinkled in a tiny bit)

Pour the milk in a pan and add the brown sugar and salt.
Heat till warm and the sugar dissolves.
Add the bananas and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
Serve warm.

And again. YUM!

The coconut milk and brown sugar thicken and the results are . . . almost good enough to let FormerFavoriteSon off the hook for doing the “oh yeah, I need it tomorrow” thing.


Click Here for a print friendly version of this recipe in PDF,

I’m adding this to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays over at Tammy’s Recipes!

April 22, 2008 Posted by | pragmatic parenting, recipes | , | 1 Comment

5 minute onions in a flash (freeze)

Life’s a little busy this week, so I’m going to combine my posts for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays .

I mentioned before – I LOVE my Vidalia Chop Wizard! Last time I showcased this wonderful little gadget, someone commented that they were surprised that it could handle tougher veggies, like onions and carrots, so I thought I’d show how the chop wizard handles onions. Notice that I’m using the smaller chopping grate this time and check out the time on the little red clock.

5 minutes onions before

5 minute onions after

Again, I PROMISE you – I did NOT touch that little red clock! I just LOVE this thing! Chopped onions really are a breeze!

But you probably noticed I didn’t finish all three onions. I actually filled up the chop wizard and had to stop to complete my “onion chopping ritual,” so I thought I’d go ahead and include it in this post as well. I usually chop onions in bulk to freeze, but I only had three today. Here’s what I do:

I chop all the onions I’ve got, either using the chop wizard OR, when I’m really in a hurry, I use my Oster food processor attachment. (I have a 1990 Oster Kitchen Center, but for smaller jobs, I keep my 2003 Oster blender on the counter because it takes most of the same attachments. Isn’t it cool that the attachments are interchangeable?) Anyway, I had an extra 5 minutes today and I really prefer the onions chopped in nice little squares – they’re just prettier than the shredded onion that the food processor produces.

Oster Food Processor Attachment

Then, I lay out the chopped onions on a large metal cookie sheet for flash freezing. Flash freezing refers to the freezing technique where you lay out something individually, best on a metal cookie sheet (it gets colder much faster than a cutting board), and freeze it quickly. It keeps the food from sticking together in a big frozen ball of goo. REALLY great for freezing any kind of berry!

flash freeze prep

flash freezing onions

Then, I sit here for about a half an hour and write this post. (besides, I need my coffee.) I usually leave the onions in longer because I forget about them. If you can leave them for an hour or two, that’s actually better. I once left them in overnight with no problems. At a minimum, you want ice crystals to form.

Reading Spot

When the onions are frozen, I move them from the cookie sheet into something better for freezer storage, such as a Ziploc bag. I stack the bags in the freezer and because they are flat, they take up very little space. (I was going to include a photo of the frozen onions on the cookie sheet, but you can’t see the ice crystals, so it just looks the same as the pre-frozen cookie sheet photo.)

onion stack

Later, when a recipe calls for onion, I’m ready! They defrost really fast! I leave the bag on the counter for a few minutes and when I take the slab of onion out of the the Ziploc, it just crumbles.

It Works for Me!

Check out more great ideas at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!
Find even MORE ideas at Works for Me Wednedays hosted by Rocks in My Dryer!

Don’t forget to enter this week’s clean sweep(stakes)!

April 22, 2008 Posted by | 5 minutes, freakishly organized, wise buys | , , , , | 22 Comments



That would be the Microsoft Excel cell formula to generate a random number between 1 and 100. You know, like when you have a drawing and need to pick a random number for a winner? Like I do here at Pragmatic Compendium every week? (it doesn’t have to be between 1 and 100. the number “100” can be replaced by any number)

I’ve posted detailed instructions and a screen shot for this little time saver over at the Pragmatic Computing blog, so if you are tired of drawing little pieces of paper out of a hat every time you want to “select a winner,” head on over and check it out!

Of course, don’t forget to enter this week’s clean sweep(stakes) giveaway while you’re here!

Find more great time and money savers at Works for Me Wednesdays at Rocks in My Dryer!

April 16, 2008 Posted by | blogosphere, pragmatic computing | , , | 3 Comments


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