Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

Happy Birthday America!

(the Cactus Cuties singing the National Anthem)

And lest anyone think this performance was so great because of the acoustics, this next video was a few years later and OUTSIDE! I still get goosebumps.

June 29, 2008 Posted by | music, youtube | , , | 1 Comment

last minute wet burritos

I saw this recipe on another blog and I could NOT find it again! I looked through a bunch of Kitchen Tip Tuesday links, Works for Me Wednesday links, and a few recipe carnival links – no luck. Then, I walked away from the computer and actually made these WITHOUT a recipe! That is HUGE for me.

1 package tortillas
1 can of refried beans
about a pound of ground beef
shredded cheddar cheese – at least 8 ounces
1 can of enchilada sauce

wet burrito prep

Mix together the refried beans and the cooked ground beef.
Slather a couple spoonfuls onto the tortilla.
Sprinkle some shredded cheese on the bean/beef mixture.
Roll the tortillas and place in a baking pan.
Pour the enchilada sauce all over the rolled tortillas.
Sprinkle more cheese all over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

wet burrito bake

At the last minute, I remembered I had some corn on the cob in the fridge, which I steamed in the microwave for 8 minutes.

microwave corn

This meal is a hit with my entire family. Now we’re ready to start experimenting and modifying the base recipe. I already altered PinkGirl’s burrito a little bit. She doesn’t like sharp cheese or enchilada sauce, so I used a slice of American (torn in half) inside her burrito and nuked it for 30 seconds (without sauce).

It still bothered me that I couldn’t remember where I saw these originally. There were even step by step photos of the blogger’s husband preparing the meal. I sat back down at the computer and it hit me. The Google search string I needed:

wet burritos may 2008

FOUND IT! Thanks to Joy over at fiveJs for introducing us to wet burritos. We love them!

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments, Joy! And I’m going to try your recipe for homemade enchilada sauce!

Find more recipes and great tips over at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!
Check out even more tips and recipes at Works for Me Wednesdays hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!

June 24, 2008 Posted by | recipes | , , | 8 Comments

needed: goat or machete

This is what we get for slacking on the grass for two weeks:

two week grass

With clouds forming overhead, we frantically began mowing and string trimming Friday evening, but we had to take a break when the rain and lightning started. Thankfully, we squeezed in 20 more minutes between a break in the rain and darkness.

cut grass

It rained nearly all day yesterday, so I couldn’t take a good photo of the result till today. It ain’t pretty, but at least it’s short. Until next week.

If it weren’t for the goatpies, I would seriously consider a goat.

June 22, 2008 Posted by | poor me some whine | 3 Comments

i’m going to be there.

Today, I cared for my friend, PrincessG’s two daughters while she was debilitatingly ill from her Monday chemo treatment. She knew on Monday, as the chemicals were entering her body that she would be very, very sick today. She knew, weeks ago that she would be this sick today. That’s when she asked if her daughters could sleep over tonight.

PinkGirl is in drama camp with the daughters, CutieK and KRed this week and next, so I’ve been picking them up everyday at noon and taking them to lunch. Monday and Wednesday, their dad drove all the girls to drama camp and I picked them up. After lunch, I took CutieK and KRed for play dates at the homes of other families stepping in to help. Tuesday, I took the girls to camp, worked on client site for two hours, picked them up, brought them home and let them swim until their dad picked them up. Today, I drove them to camp, made a long over due Walmart run for necessities, picked them up, fed them lunch, took them to the grocery store with me and brought them home to swim.

CutieK’s big sister, KRed was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, but after years of many different kinds of therapy, she is exceeding her doctor’s expectations. When I see FavoriteSon play with KRed, the patience he shows, I’m so proud of the young man he is becoming. The understanding he displays when she distances herself from PinkGirl and CutieK, encourages me so much. He provides a calm, laid back environment where she can “chillax.” When I see PinkGirl defend her when other kids make fun, I am so proud. I see PinkGirl automatically include her and miss her when she wants to take a break. I am so thankful for the compassion my kids are displaying in this situation.

After swimming, we pulled the kitchen table into the family room, covered it with blankets to make a tent and the girls watched “The Little Princess” on DVD while eating a picnic dinner in their tent. The last play the three of them were in was The Little Princess, so they all wanted to watch it. After the movie was over, I asked the girls if they wanted to go for a walk. PinkGirl and KRed were all about scooters and helmets and getting ready. But, even in the excitement, it was PinkGirl who noticed CutieK curled up in the recliner with her pillow. Crying.

PinkGirl was all over it. “What’s the matter? Are you okay? What’s wrong? MOM! CutieK’s crying! It’s okay. Do you need a tissue? What’s the matter?”

“I want my mom and dad.”

oh. no. that movie was NOT a good idea. A father and daughter almost separated forever and tearfully brought together at the last minute. Father and daughter crying and hugging. Why didn’t we watch Alvin and the Chipmunks?

This is something I can’t fix. and I mean I REALLY can’t fix. For all the distraction and fun I and all the other families have been throwing at these two sweet girls, this is the one thing they would trade it all for. Being home. With mom and dad.

I sent PinkGirl and KRed out to get the bikes/scooters/helmets ready while I called CutieK’s dad, left a message and then went to the recliner to talk to her. What could I possibly say? She was trying to stop crying. Well. That’s not right. She’s 7. She should be able to cry if she needs to. And she needed to. I knelt down, held her hand and rubbed her back. Floodgates opened. I let her cry for a few minutes without interrupting. I just wrapped by arm around her shoulder and held her hand. I wasn’t going to tell her it was okay. It wasn’t okay. If everything were truly “okay” then she wouldn’t be at my house at that moment. She would be home with her mom and dad. She knew that. But when did she get to cry about it? When did she get to take a break from being brave? When the tears slowed, I said, “CutieK, I know you’re sad and I know it’s hard. It’s okay to be sad.” More tears. More back rubbing. “There are so many people who love you and who are praying for you and your family.” I wait. The tears slow again. “Your mom is getting better, you know that don’t you?” Shrug. “I know that it doesn’t look like it because she doesn’t have any hair, but that’s part of getting better. Really. The medicine she is taking is helping her, it just makes hair fall out.” quiet. Then, the other two girls burst in and inept as I am, I gear back up into distraction mode because I am that much of a coward.

“Do you want to go for a walk now? I’ll take my cell phone with us, so when your dad calls back, you can talk to him.”

“ummm hmmm.”

CutieK’s dad called before we left for the walk. I gave her some space and went outside to wait with PinkGirl, KRed, FavoriteSon and one of his friends. When the phone call was done, she joined us outside. You know a surefire way to distract a little girl from the fact that her mom has cancer? Before you take her on a walk, let her watch two 13 year old boys shoot expired soda cans with a BB gun (from a safe distance).

The good news is that, as of April, PrincessG’s cancer is “resolved” and the chemo seems to be working. The bad news is that it was stage IV breast cancer. The chemo continues because the doctor wants to kill every. last. cancer. cell. in her body. She shaved her head less than two weeks ago. The good news is that PrincessG’s community has hundreds of members, all pitching in as they can. Many, many families, bringing meals, cleaning, running errands, picking up kids, caring for kids . . . you name it. The hard part is that this has been going on for months and this blessing of childcare is . . . unsettling for the kids. They want to be home. I get it. I wish, with all my heart that I could have taken CutieK home tonight when she missed her mom and dad.

But until that’s possible, I’m going to be there for this family. Because, it is only by the grace of God that I, myself, am not battling cancer. It is only by the grace of God that the little girl crying and wanting to be home with mom and dad – wasn’t my daughter.

This post was inspired by Linda’s post, “Teaching Our Kids to Care” at Mocha with Linda.

June 19, 2008 Posted by | intentional living, pragmatic presence | , , | 9 Comments

the good, the bad and the ugly.

I have three cabinets over the bar in my kitchen. The middle cabinet stays pretty straight. FavoriteSon unloads the dishwasher in this house, so if he’s putting items in this cabinet away in the same place every time, its organized in a way that he finds to be easy to maintain. Which means, according to the Underwear Principle, that the organization of the middle cabinet is working. So that’s the good.

the good cabinet

The cabinet to the left stays in somewhat of the same configuration most of the time. That means that for the most part, I find the items in the same place whenever I open the cabinet, but realistically, the items in there make it difficult to fit everything without moving other items around. That’s annoying. It’s annoying to move one item in order to put away another. It doesn’t always happen. So, following step 6 of “underwear, step by step,” it’s time for an adjustment to the current configuration. Here’s the “bad” cabinet before the adjustment:

the bad cabinet

So what needed adjustment? Not really the left side. The left side stays pretty much like this all the time, just with more containers (we have a lot in the fridge right now). The square containers here are all the same – in only two sizes, which nest easily. But the right side is always a jumble. At first glance, I need to ditch some more round containers. (I HATE round containers, they waste space.) Also, the cardboard “shelves” I created to hold lids aren’t holding up anymore.

So, I came up with two alternatives for the cabinet configuration. In both alternatives, I’m using an old rectangular container for round lids. (That container never sealed tightly and everything I ever tried to store in it went stale.) I’ll try out the one WITH the left sided shelf first and if the left side stays this way, I’ll leave it. If FavoriteSon says it’s easier to just stack all the containers on the left, instead of one size on the top shelf and another size on the bottom shelf, then I’ll ditch the left sided, top shelf. Either way, there’s enough room on the left side to store square lids.

the bad after1

the bad after2

Now for the ugly. This cabinet rarely, if ever, looked the same when I opened the doors. NOT working. Too much stuff we never use. Two scales, Popsicle makers we never use, too many measuring cups, shakers we never use, salad dressing bottle I can never reach. Just a mess. All the time. This cabinet doesn’t need an adjustment, it needs an overhaul.

the ugly

The ice bin was supposed to hold the lids to all the containers in the middle cabinet. Within days of organizing it, it always looked like this:

ugly lids

Again, with the NOT working. So here’s the overhaul:

the ugly after

Top row, left to right – My handy, dandy Chop Wizard, a new “lid” container replacing the ice bin, rarely used but sometimes needed measuring cups, shaker and salad dressing bottle (I can reach it here!). Bottom row, left to right – ONE scale with its bowl, often used measuring cups, white ice bin holding tiny containers (for dressings and such), two divided meal containers.

Notice that one KEY component of this entire storage configuration is that I only have a few different TYPES of containers. Over the years, I’ve purchased three of the same 40 piece Rubbermaid set and discarded the larger round containers. (We use the small round containers for lunch boxes, because I don’t care if they get lost along with the lunchbox flatware). So, when they are nested, all the containers in the stack are exactly the same. I don’t have to dig through an entire stack to find the size I need buried underneath smaller containers. And when we put one away, we don’t have to wade through the stack to find the perfect nesting spot. We just pop it on top or bottom of the stack. Done. Fast. Easy. Rubbermaid doesn’t make this particular set anymore, and I don’t want add new types and sizes to our storage system. So, I just bought a “new in box” set on eBay a few months ago. I had to get rid of some because they were just shot (stains, cracks).

Checking the dates of these photos, this cabinet overhaul was done on April 12, 2008. As of today, all three cabinets are still working. By “working,” I mean that when I open them, they still look like the “after” photos above. That’s not to say they will work in the future.

But they’re working now.

Find lots of ideas and recipes at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to Works for Me Wednesdays by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for all kinds of tips and tricks!

June 17, 2008 Posted by | freakishly organized, Uncategorized | , , , | 8 Comments

i hate this game.

You know, “The Home Repair Game.” I’m no good at it. I never win.

broken shower

broken shower2

At first, only one tile was missing. The plastic and the duck tape were our attempt to postpone the repair for a few weeks.

It’s been a few weeks.

I’ve been trying to select tile. FirstHusband and I agree it should be “tan.” That’s as far as we got with the decision making process. After that, all tan looks the same to me. I’m trying to care, really I am, but seriously. Tan is tan.

I’m not even going to acknowledge the water damage behind the tile. I’m still in denial.

June 12, 2008 Posted by | home sweet home, poor me some whine | | 9 Comments

frog house

For months, the bird house on our front porch as been occupied. By a frog.

frog house

He always seemed kind of lonely. Till today.

frog buddies

June 11, 2008 Posted by | laugh! | | 4 Comments

lunchbox flatware

I have a double set of Oneida flatware. It’s still a double set for one reason only – not ONE piece of it EVER leaves the house.

Back when PinkGirl was in preschool, I sent plasticware in her lunchbox. Mostly spoons. PLASTIC spoons.

Then I got green and started sending (washable, reusable) flatware. I don’t know why it took a few days for me to realize it, but PinkGirl wasn’t bringing the flatware back home. She was throwing her spoon away every day. She threw away her spoon. In the trash. Every day. Because that’s what she did with the plastic spoons.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one “misplacing” the good flatware.

So I bought a bag of mismatched flatware at a garage sale for a dollar and dubbed it “lunchbox silverware.” It’s the ONLY flatware that ever leaves the house. Every once in a while, I buy some more at another garage sale or a thrift shop. Because it disappears. But now, when a lunchbox comes home sans spoons and forks, I don’t care.

We don’t keep it in the same drawer with the good flatware. We don’t even keep it NEAR the good flatware. We also don’t separate it like we do the good flatware, we just toss it all together. Take a look:

lunchbox flatware

So, the only piece missing from my Oneida flatware set is the spoon the garbage disposal chewed up. Not bad.

Find more tips and some great recipes over at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes.
Check out Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | freakishly organized | , , , | 6 Comments

and so it begins

nearly every afternoon the digital doppler is going to look a lot like this:

summer rain

and half the time, I’ll be crawling under my desk to unplug the cable modem because I don’t want to deal with the annoyance of having it replaced after it gets struck by lightning. again.

ya gotta mow the grass in the morning around here, folks. and if you don’t do it every week, you pay for it by pushing the mower two feet forward, pulling it one foot back, two feet forward, one foot back . . . or it stalls out.

It was POURING when PinkGirl and I tried to make a mad dash into the house this afternoon, so I actually pulled up past the driveway, onto the front path, right up to the front door (can’t park in the garage, we put up a wall to create a laundry room).

rain parking

Good times. Good times.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | poor me some whine | , | 4 Comments

Disney Quest.

PinkGirl is 50.

INCHES, that is.

And that is a GOOD thing. It is a VERY good thing. We’ve been WAITING for this for a VERY long time. Thank. You. GOD!!!!!

We went to Disney Quest this weekend and for the first time EVER, PinkGirl didn’t go home angry or in tears. DisneyQuest is a 5 story arcade. For a VERY long time, for our family, it has been a 5 story source of sadness. Weepiness. A 5 story source of frustration and . . . temper tantrums. Because the COOLest things to do at DisneyQuest (according to PinkGirl) require the cool “enjoyer” of such cool things – to be a minimum of 51 inches tall.

Today, PinkGirl is . . . .

50 and 1/2 inch tall. But she wore the right shoes. (Well, they were her regular shoes. But still.)

So, Friday, June 6th, 2008 was a MOMENTOUS day in our family! PinkGirl got to ride BOTH the Cyberspace Mountain virtual roller coaster AND the Buzz Lightyear bumper cars! FINALLY!

We’ve been going to Disney Quest for years, and FavoriteSon has always had fun there. But he was taller than 51 inches the first time we ever set foot in the cybrolator (elevator) and watched Genie on the “magic mirror.” When you are more than 51 inches tall, the only things between you and every single ride/game at Disney Quest are the que lines and your own level of courage and adventure. When you are under 51 inches tall, the ride attendants stop you.

Take a look at these great photos and don’t miss the video link to see the Cyberspace Mountain “barrel” in action. (Skip the idealistic plea by the site owner to call or email Disney’s guest services to stop them from shutting down. I haven’t heard any “closing” rumors myself, but if Disney wants to close Disney Quest they’re going to do it, no matter what “guests” say. The only way to “save” Disney Quest is to buy tickets. Lots and LOTS of tickets.)

Let me give you my view of the “Pros and Cons” of Disney Quest.

The “Cons”
Some may not agree with me, but Disney Quest is not the best place on Disney property to bring a baby, a toddler or an elderly family member. Preschoolers are a little easier, and there are actually some things they will even enjoy, but the height restrictions will limit their fun.

First of all, strollers are NOT allowed. That makes for either a tired kid or a tired parent (from carrying said tired kid). Usually both.

There’s not a lot of seating near the action. There’s some dining seating near the games, but very, very little. So if a parent plans to sit and watch kids, they’re going to have to wait on a spot – and in some areas of the arcade – there is no “spot” to sit. There is a room full of dining tables, but it is surrounded by walls so you can’t see anyone in the game/ride areas. Lack of seating and the “no stroller” rule make for a LOT of standing for everyone.

It it is LOUD. The kind of loud that causes you to yell, “WHAT?” when someone talks to you. After a few hours of this, any little one can become overstimulated and, thus – cranky. I USUALLY have the ability to tune out background noise, so I don’t notice it so much. If you or a family member can’t take extended, loud noise, this isn’t the place to go. Consider splitting up and letting the “noise sensitive” members of your group explore Downtown Disney. There’s lots to do.

You can lose sight of a little one in the BLINK of an eye! This place is not set up like Chuck E. Cheese, where you get your arm stamped and your arm stamp has to match the stamp on the kid’s arm before you can leave with the kid. People are moving and kids are moving faster. The kids pop from game to game as a spot opens up. If they aren’t fast, they stand and wait. and wait. and wait. Lighting is not bright and it’s difficult to keep up with kids if you get distracted for even a second or two. Those parents who make their kids walk with them from game to game are serious “fun suckers” and (at $37 for ages 10 and up) they are throwing away some very expensive fun time. I usually either park myself (standing, of course) in a central location and follow the kids with my eyes or I kick it into gear and keep up.

Some of the rides can be scary for little ones. PinkGirl HATED the Pirates of the Caribbean ride/game last summer. Wearing 3D goggles, four people go into a small room, surrounded by a screen. Standing on a platform that looks like the deck of a pirate ship, the platform tips and sways, while everyone shoots cannons at attacking pirate ships and at some point, the Krakken comes out of the water and you have to shoot it too. This year, PinkGirl (age 7) LOVED Invasion, which is similar, except you are sitting down. You have to rescue people and shoot aliens. What a difference a year made. You just have to know your own kid and make a judgment call.

The food service changed the first weekend of June 2008. One week later – not a good change so far. No more Cheesecake Factory and in the FoodQuest counter service restaurant, the portion size of the BEST chicken Caesar salad I’ve ever had is now less than half. No more pizza by the slice, rather individual pizzas, which are smaller than the slices were. If you bought the plastic cup for refills, they will still honor it and allow you to purchase a large drink at refill price.

The SongMakers are frequently broken, but when the work, they are pretty fun. Up to four people can fit inside an isolated sound booth with a touch screen computer, which is used to create an original song. You pick the style of music, the song title, lyrics and either a male or female singer. Then you pick from over 1,000 rhyming lyric “snippets” to create a song. It comes out to 2,000,000,000 (two BILLION) possible lyric combinations per song. When the song is finished, you pick the artwork for the CD cover. Of course, the CD is available to purchase. Last year, I think it was $12.95.

The “Pros”

It is FUN. Do NOT touch my right arm when I’m busy shooting the Centipede. And, under NO circumstances are you to touch my Superzapper. Seriously. Back away.

There are ALL kinds of video games. LOTS of “retro” games and LOTS of newer games. Pinball out the wahzoo – even human pinball, where you stand on a platform and rock to move your ball around on a big screen with 12(?) other players. (GREAT workout!) LOTS of virtual “ride” type games.

A big favorite is the Cyberspace Mountain virtual roller coaster. With Bill Nye the Science Guy as your guide, you design your coaster, incorporating a sequence of maneuvers varying in thrill levels. You can select barrel rolls, loops, jumps . . . whatever you want. In the end, the computer “rates” your coaster for a fear factor or thrill level, from 1 (nice and easy) to 5 (i’m gonna ralph). PinkGirl’s first coaster measured a “1” and didn’t go upside down at all. FavoriteSon’s measured a 5 and went upside down as many times as was possible. FavoriteDad rode with both kiddos. When the attendant asks you if you have anything in your pockets, trust them when they encourage you to empty them into the little bowl and lock them in the cabinet outside the door to your coaster. (you keep the key.) Ladies? You might want to tuck in the front of your shirt. Leave hats in the cabinet too or you will end up holding it and it will cover your face for the recording. Because you may want to buy the video of yourself riding your coaster. cha ching. Family members are allowed to stand outside your coaster and watch you inside the barrel too.

Another hit for those over 51 inches is the Buzz Lightyear bumper cars. You need a driver and a shooter. The driver tries to roll over the “asteroids” (black rubber balls) because the car picks them up and deposits them inside the car. The shooter retrieves the asteroid, loads it in the shooter, closes the “hatch” on the shooter, points and shoots at one of three possible targets on another car. Since your car has three targets also, the driver’s second task is to avoid incoming asteroids. If you get hit, your car spins out of control for 10 to 15 seconds. If you’re not careful, you could spend the entire ride simulating the Teacups at Magic Kingdom. Oh, and don’t try to shoot before the cars start up. If your shooter jams, you’re going to be annoyed. And sick from spinning because you were defenseless for the entire ride. Good times. Good times.

For us, the fact that many of the virtual rides are suited for groups of 2 or 4 is a good thing. For some families, that won’t work out so well. Before PinkGirl was old/tall enough, we used the Rider Switch Pass, also known as the “baby swap” to allow both FirstHusband and myself to have fun with FavoriteSon while the other stayed with PinkGirl.

If you go in “good” weather, it’s usually not horribly crowded. In bad weather it is very often PACKED. (Think it’s a good place to hang out to avoid the rainy Florida summer afternoons? So does everyone else on Disney property.) Summer during the day is often PACKED with summer camp field trips. Last summer, we would often go to a water park (Typhoon Lagoon is pretty much across the street) and then hop on over to Downtown Disney and Disney Quest for dinner and evening fun just as the summer campers were loading on their buses. Perfect timing.

Disney Quest is also a GREAT place to hang out if it is too early to check in at a resort. If you arrive in town and don’t want to waste a day of your ticket package on a theme park for only a few hours of time, Downtown Disney and Disney Quest are a great option. When we stay at one of the resorts, we often spend the evening there after dinner, sometimes leaving just in time for Extra Magic Hours. It was really great when PinkGirl was little. One of the grownups could stay in the room and get PinkGirl to bed, while the other could take FavoriteSon to Disney Quest for some big kid/one on one time. This was really helpful when we stayed in a one room resort suite. The little kid could sleep, but the big kids (us included) didn’t have to be quiet in the dark. It’s also a GREAT place to have fun in the heat of the day.

The annual pass is GREAT for us. For the last few years, we’ve been premium annual passholders. that means we could get into Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon and Disney Quest ALL year – no block out dates. Our tickets expire June 8th and this year, since we bought the boat, we are going to spend most of our summer vacation time on the ocean. I think we’ve decided to buy Disney Quest/water parks annual passes for $129 and, later in the fall, buy seasonal passes (with blockout dates). With a single admission fee of $37, we only have to go to Disney Quest 3 times before we (almost) break even. That doesn’t even include any water park visits.

Now that PinkGirl is tall enough to do EVERYthing at Disney Quest, we are going to be having a LOT more fun there.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions at for more insider tips.

June 7, 2008 Posted by | peace love mickey, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment


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