An Open letter about ESA and AFHE

October 18, 2019

October 17, 2019

To the Board of Arizona Families for Home Education, Peter & Allison, Scott & Sherry, Shawn & Cindy, and Joshua & Stacey,

Hello friends! Rick and I treasure the times we have spent together serving on the board, travelling, co-oping, attending homeschool events, support group, fieldtrips, celebrating our children’s accomplishments, and fellowshipping in each other’s homes. We appreciate each of you and the time, energy and love you expend on behalf of homeschoolers in Arizona. Thank you for serving!

As some of you are aware, after six and half years on the AFHE board, Rick and I were told that we would no longer be allowed to serve AFHE as board members due to the fact that we accepted the Empowerment Scholarship Account to meet the needs of our daughter. Our dismissal was never discussed at a board meeting. We were told that we were no longer homeschooling even though I was still at the kitchen table in my pjs with two of my kids all year, just like the previous 15 years! I was told that I could no longer speak at convention nor write articles for the AFHE magazine because we accepted financial help to cover expensive therapies. At that time, we resigned. We chose the freedom to educate our daughter how we best saw fit, instead of staying for the remainder of the year working alongside people who were not supportive of our choice of freedom.

I realize several board members from 2016 have left the board and the Gentalas and the Sugatas joined since we have been gone. With this new board, I’m hopeful that the heart of my writing can be heard and bring change.

Rick and I have not really spoken about our circumstances with the general public for three years now and still frequently get asked, “Where have you been?” However, the time has come for us to speak up for what it right, bring awareness, and ask each of you to search your hearts.

I’m writing this open letter in response to the article “Homeschooling and the ESA” that was published in the Fall 2019 Homeschool Arizona magazine by an unnamed author. While the article is a mix of true and false information, the opinion that it slants, that ESA is not an option that homeschoolers should be participating in, is disappointing and misleading.

The legislature of Arizona provided an avenue for families to educate their children at home who, for one reason or another, need assistance. This program serves the needs of the most marginalized people in society: those with special needs, military families, those with parents who are blind and/or deaf, those in a D or F school, foster kids, those who live on Indian reservations, their siblings, and on top of those categories, those who additionally can’t afford special therapies and treatments. This program has blessed and changed the lives of thousands of kids, our daughter being one of them. It is a legal, viable option for many homeschooling families who have qualifying kids.

While the article stated that AFHE supports the freedom of choice for all parents, this is not what many have experienced or felt in dealing with the organization. When military families have called AFHE to ask about their eligibility for an ESA, it was discouraged, and the families were not empowered to make a choice that was right for their family. I spoke with a woman this week who pulled her daughter out of public school because of bullying and did the only thing she knew to do: K-12 online public school at home. She then called AFHE and asked where she could find other families to meet and get encouragement. She was told, “You are not homeschooling. This group is not for you.” That was it. She was crushed. No help was offered. Why has the scope of AFHE’s influence become so narrow?

When did AFHE as a ministry turn into AFHE as a school choice policing organization? There are so many families reaching out for help that don’t fit into the “homeschooling according to the law” category, who are simply uninformed about their options. These families are being turned away with a bad taste in their mouths, under the guise of “this has been our mission 30 years.” I beg to differ. I believe the original intent of AFHE was to be a Christian witness and help families in need while supporting those who educate at home. Times are changing in the education realm: school options are growing, the percentage of kids needing special education is growing. Please have a look at how AFHE can best serve families, instead of discouraging their options.

The author failed to mention that AFHE includes ESA families in their membership, while discouraging support groups from doing the same. The AFHE convention welcomes ESA families to pay to attend but then discourages the vendors from advertising that they accept ESA payments. This is disparaging not only to ESA parents but also to the vendors who pay for a booth! ESA students are welcome to participate in graduation, but AFHE discourages chess clubs, debate teams, and STEM clubs from including ESA kids. AFHE welcomes ESA parents to volunteer at convention but makes them sign a gag order so they won’t mention ESA to anyone, no matter how much another family could benefit from knowing about the program. Then AFHE prints an article solely talking about ESA and how they support all school choice. Why is AFHE continually practicing double standards?

The paragraph about the “unique education option” (ESA) has several misleading tidbits. It states that students must be enrolled in a public school for 100 days to qualify. It neglected to mention that the 100 day requirement does not apply for military kids, kindergartners nor pre-K kids with special needs. It also suggests exemptions exist for siblings. This is not true. Siblings apply just like everyone else. It also states that the family “may” access up to 90% of state funding. “May” should be “will.” The 90% the family will get is for typical kids ($5,200 -$6,200/yr.) and then additional funding is added for special needs categories ($10-$34,000/yr.) Where the article incorrectly said ESA families can use the funds “for some curriculum”, it should just say “for curriculum.” ESA is simply a financial vehicle and parents still have the same educational and religious freedom to purchase WITH ESA FUNDS things like Bibles and religious curriculum. Parents should have all the facts to make an educated decision for their family.

The author implied that homeschoolers cannot apply for an ESA because ESAs are only for public school students. This is true in part. However, any parent with a qualifying homeschooling child who decides to apply for funding with an ESA can enroll in online school at home beginning in August to meet the 100 days requirement. When the 100 days equivalent in hours is completed, they withdraw their child and go back to homeschooling. When they are awarded an ESA, they sign a contract changing their student designation from homeschooling to home educating. The simple question was asked, “Can you homeschool with an ESA?” and the answer was no. The simple question that was left out is, “Can you home educate with an ESA?” And the answer is yes. The intended bias was obvious.

The article hailed the praises of the Arizona homeschool community that has a “multi-decade history of creating support networks”… the same networks it is now encouraging to discriminate against children who need assistance. The article stated that ESA parents should make their own support groups. WHY? There is already a plethora of support groups in place. The insensitivity of AFHE on this topic is disheartening. Whoever came up with the idea that parents who have children with special needs should start their own groups is obviously out of touch with these families. They are overtired, overworked, stressed out, in desperate need of five minutes of alone time, not always welcomed at churches, … and now AFHE says, “they are pioneering a new movement in the Arizona education landscape and have the opportunity to create support and enrichment for their families.” This is not true. Of the hundreds of ESA families I am in contact with, not one has the time nor energy to start a support group. And why should we have to?

Under AFHE influence, the support group that our family belonged to for nine years, Christ’s Family Homeschool Ministries, decided that we could no longer be members when we got an ESA for our daughter’s therapies. The friends at park day on Fridays were my daughter’s only friends. I was heartbroken, not only for her, but that a Christian organization suggested that a Christian homeschool support group disqualify members based on who funds their therapies and curricula. My daughter asked the following week, “Are we going to the park on Friday?” I couldn’t even look her in the eye, and just responded, “No.” She asked why. I briefly explained that we use ESA money to pay for reading therapy, and because of that, we are no longer allowed to go to that park. She took a long while processing before she asked, “Are they still called Christ’s Family?”

I applaud AFHE’s writer for getting some of the facts straight about ESA, but another correction needed would be that ESA kids are NOT required to take standardized tests as the article incorrectly states. The only requirement is that ESA families turn in receipts for our spending, which should be expected for accountability. If articles are going to be written about a certain designation of students in Arizona, please use due diligence to have the facts checked by someone in that group. On that note, please have corrections to the article’s false claims included in the next magazine edition to undo the misleading information (enrollment, siblings, curriculum, testing, etc.)

There are six distinctions of students in Arizona: public, online, charter, private, ESA and homeschooling. Each is clearly defined in the statutes. There is no confusion in the law between any of them. If a distinction is obvious regarding the designations of students, it is that the public school system is backed by large organizations (I.e. Save Our Schools, the teachers unions, ACLU, the Secular Coalition for Arizona, etc.) The remaining five designations, where governmental control is limited, are attacked repeatedly by these organizations who do not support the rights of the parents nor students. This boils down to school choice: public school VS the other five distinctions. At any legislative session, a bill could be introduced harming any or all the five other school options. We all must be vigilant. The truth is the five designations where parents have school choice rights need to support each other in the name of freedom for all. Division has only caused harm. It’s time to link arms.

AFHE has the mistaken notion that opposing another school choice option somehow protects them in the future. This misnomer has been fed to support groups, sports organizations, and clubs across our state who exclude home educated students because they take an ESA. The ESA program has been fully functioning since 2011 and no organization has ever been threatened nor investigated because they include ESA families. ESA funds cannot be used for AFHE membership, support group membership, sports clubs, etc. It is the ESA families who are responsible for their use of the funds appropriated to them, not the groups with which they are involved. Why is there a fear of governmental overreach to a homeschool organization or club that can’t even accept the ESA funds?

The author states there is evidence of “increased legislation popping up in various states,” however, the truth is in the six states that have ESA-similar legislation, none have seen an increase in regulation of homeschooling. ESA does not jeopardize homeschooling freedom. ESA families pose no threat whatsoever to homeschooling in Arizona, to AFHE, to support groups, to sports teams, to clubs, etc. ESA is a program providing freedom. It actually removes control from the government and gives freedom to the parents.

Other pleas have been made to AFHE in the past to bridge the gap in the homeschool community created by the exclusion of ESA kids. To my knowledge, they were not acknowledged by the board because a direct answer was not requested. This came across to the ESA families that AFHE doesn’t care about them nor their concerns. On behalf of thousands of ESA families, I am directly asking you to respond to this letter. ESA families deserve to have their concerns voiced and responded to by the organization that has hurt them. The attitude that AFHE has taken to disregard ESA parent’s choice has only harmed the unity of the homeschooling community in Arizona. I understand that not all of you on the board have negatively affected others, but when one of you speaks on behalf of the organization, it is taken as AFHE’s stance.

James 1:27a says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans … in their distress.” Many families have followed this biblical truth and adopted from the foster care system. Those children often need therapies and counselling to overcome their rough beginnings. However, taking ESA to meet those needs will exclude these families from support groups who have been persuaded by the Christian based home education organization to leave them out. What proof is there that harm can come to the groups by including ESA kids? None.

The most damage I have witnessed by AFHE’s influence against the inclusion of ESA kids has been to the cause of Christ. I have heard countless comments from non-believers regarding this exact scenario. I have been embarrassed, as a Christian, that an organization proclaiming Christ would persuade people to refuse to help families with disadvantaged kids. What biblical basis is the board using to only support those who have enough money to homeschool according to the law?

Hear my heart. I’m not against AFHE. I’m against people being treated unfairly. It brings me to tears when I encounter families who struggle to meet the needs of their children, who have reached out to the Christian homeschool organization, and have been turned away, discouraged, told they’re not “true” homeschoolers, and banned from getting the encouragement and support they need. These families are the least of these that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” I ask, what would Jesus do?

The devil’s plan is to cause division. He has succeeded with pitting AFHE against families who are schooling their children at home with an ESA or with an online program, regardless of what this article says about AFHE supporting all school choice. If ESA families felt supported, their hearts wouldn’t hurt. If online families found some encouragement when they call AFHE, they wouldn’t be crying their eyes out after the conversation.

Just as you have, Rick and I have listened to the opinions and theories of national homeschool organization about how homeschooling families should avoid government oversight at all cost. In September 2016 I spoke with Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute about a family in Arizona who was able to bring home their son who has autism from a school setting where he wasn’t thriving. ESA made this possible with $32,000 per year awarded to the family to hire tutors and therapists to meet the needs of their son. I asked Dr. Ray what he would say to the family. His response was, “They should find the money elsewhere.” I replied, “Where does a single income family find $32,000 a year?” He shrugged his shoulders. He had no answer. In theory, yes, homeschoolers should avoid government funds. In reality, sometimes state funds are necessary to meet the needs of a child. ESA is available for the protection and freedom for families who had no prior option but public school. Because of ESA they can provide a Christian education in the safety of their home. National organizations, like N.H.E.R.I., have great intentions and valuable information, but are not on the battlefield fighting with the parents who need help and have few options.

Please reexamine the heart behind the organization. Search your own hearts. Ask God for wisdom in dealing with those who don’t exactly fit in the “homeschooling according to the law” box. I’m not asking you to change AFHE’s mission. I’m not implying that homeschooling should mix with government funds. I’m asking you to broaden your scope to include families who are also at home, discipling and teaching their kids according to the law. The mission of AFHE could impact far more people for generations if you included thousands of families who don’t exactly fit into privately funded homeschooling. Please look for the bigger picture of the freedom and unity you could be encouraging by truly inspiring all families to do what they feel is best for their children. AFHE is the first homeschool organization in the nation who can engage and set the precedence of working together with families who use an ESA. What an awesome opportunity you have to look beyond the rules and see the relationships that can be built! Please reach out and extend a hand of grace toward those affected by the breach in the homeschool community that has been caused by AFHE saying they support all choices but acting otherwise. Please remember that people are more important than policies.

No truer words have been said than Founding Father John Dickinson’s in his pre-Revolutionary War song, “By Uniting we stand. By dividing we fall.”

We love you all and support you in your leadership positions. God has you eight specific individuals in your influential role at this time for His purpose. Our prayers are with you all that you would see the need before you and respond with God’s direction.

With justice for all,

Linda Ann Crosby

Idioms…. why, oh why???

March 6, 2019

We are working, once again in our homeschool, on idioms because they are HARD for kids who are literal and kids who didn’t learn English as their first language! When you grown up learning idioms, the meaning is ALL you ever think about unless you have a child who takes them literally and then you realize just how ridiculous they are when taken as fact! Here are a few gross-me-out and impossible examples:

I killed two birds with one stone! (That’s not nice!)

Eat your heart out! (Ewwww. Just ewwww.)

Pay through the nose. (Gross….. ewwwww.)

Beat around the bush. (Beat what? Are you winning a race or using a club?)

She was in your face! (Howwww? I’m the only one in my face.)

You are wet behind your ears. (First, how do you know? Second, no, I’m not!)

Shooting the breeze. (Why???)

He has a cast iron stomach. (Ouch! Did he swallow it?)

I have cold feet! (Then put on your slippers!)

Actions speak louder than words. (No, they don’t…..)

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. (Of course not!)

Don’t bury your head in the sand. (Who would think of that?)

Keep your nose clean! (Why just your nose?)

I love you warts and all! (Isn’t there white medicine for warts?)

This is a piece of cake! (No. This is math.)

It was clear as mud. (WHAT?)

All of these idoms are clear as mud!!!

God bless all those who love learning new things!

 

 

 

I AM STILL ALIVE!

February 15, 2019

Hello! My name is Linda and this is my blog. The last time I wrote here to share my views and joy with the world wide web was August 4, 2017… … 559 days ago. So, I completely understand why some of you thought I died and you missed my funeral.

In reality, I did die many times in those 559 days. My life changed on several fronts.

Those whom I considered true friends turned away…. as recently as the last two months. Things in my life that I thought were solid were not. My expectations have been drawn lower. Sadly, my skepticism has grown in comparison. More sadly, my passion for writing dried up. Joy was sucked out of my life. Until tonight.

But this I know, my God is who He says He is… and He is faithful and true, compassionate and comforting. His grace is abundant as well as His forgiveness. He filled me with a love that I have never experienced until the carefully guarded pieces of my life that I held on a pedestal crumbled beyond my control… and I leaned into God. Never doubting.

Worship music about my Jesus fed life into my dry and aching soul like clear sweet water on my parched tongue. Songs like Just Give Me Jesus and Stand in Your Love and Fight My Battles. Months were spent curled up on my bed with my face in my tear-soaked pillow while Just Give Me Jesus played on repeat next to me on my nightstand…. the surrounding carpet littered with wadded tissues.

I have changed. And I have come to know that there is purpose in pain. We suffer in Christ so we can minister to others who suffer. Freedom has a price.

There are friendships for a season. There are those who should remain at an arm’s distance from our hearts. People let us down. I was not supposed to be so fully trusting in people… only in my Lord.

Blessings abound in true friendship. Seven dear friends stood by me and met my needs. Comfort with shared tears. Showing up at my doorstep with my favorite Starbucks drink. A frappe for a day of crap. They phoned to make sure I was eating. Texted just to regularly connect. And two new friendships were formed. Bound in love and sorrow… and hope.

The suffering here on earth is helping fix my eyes on the eternal prize of living with Jesus forever. Only then will we live without tears, pain and disappointment. I look forward to that day with renewed vigor. Just give me Jesus.

I also realized that I truly do believe what I have been taught my whole life… and what I have taught my children. Forgiven people forgive people. Hurt people hurt people. Love overcomes all. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are real and very close to the brokenhearted.

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Joy is returning in little glimpses. Watercolor paintings of feathers. Red-throated House Finches and mahogany-masked House Sparrows visiting my feeder. Lavender hyacinths bursting with God’s perfumed fragrance. He loves to spoil us.

I am thankful. Grateful. Renewed.

Welcome back to me.

 

 

Ding Dong!

August 4, 2017

On Wednesday, my pilot husband left for flight safety for five days. Last time he was gone, a crew of my homies came and helped me re-do our bedroom and bathroom, including, but not limited to painting walls, furniture, light fixtures, moving furniture, and bringing in new blinds, towel bars, bedding, curtains, lamps, towels, etc. It is sublime. Truly. The oasis I’ve always dreamed of having.

This set of five days, I calmed the heck down and decided on installing a new doorbell. Assuming this would be a 15 minute job, I didn’t start til Thursday. Seriously, look how easy these instructions are! Remove! Connect! Mount! BAM!

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You see, our doorbell has not chimed it’s beautiful song to signal the arrival of guests for approximately six years. It wasn’t real high on our to-do list, clearly. Here is the old doorbell in all of it’s fake brass glory with three-year-old stickiness from tape that held the sign, “Knock Loudly.” So classy, us Clampetts.

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This was my first attempt at changing a doorbell, but I consider myself quite handy. (Please see previous posts of my success building chicken coops and installing a water filter in the fridge.)

Standing in the doorbell section of the local hardware establishment, I found a little cheapy button replacement and figured I could scrub and spray paint the vintage brass circle then install the new button. Lo and behold, the little nonfunctional button pictured above was not removable.

Back to the hardware store for a classy black doorbell with it’s own lighted button for your nighttime pushing pleasure. Now it’s Friday. Rick comes home on Sunday. (Please note the paint on my hand……..)

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After removing the dead doorbell, I realized that the new doorbell was smaller in size than the ghastly brass number. AND our house was just painted two weeks ago so the old dismal peachy-tan color stuck it’s tongue out at me all the way around the classy new job.

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Locating the mammoth paint drum was the easy part of touching up the paint around the doorbell cavity. Upon setting down the paint pail in front of the doorbell location I noticed the easily-removable, small plastic lid on the giant lid. Perfect! It popped right out with a simple tug, but the paint was a good 15″ below the top. Even with my 16″ paintbrush it wasn’t going to fly. I snapped the little cap back in place and tipped the paint drum upside down to coat the inside of the little cap. Worked like a charm! Using the white cap as my pallet, the paint job was completed in three quick minutes. BAM!

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As I forced the little cap back into it’s hole, realization hit that it splatted paint the first and second times I closed the paint…. and the little white dots were waving at me from my turquoise pants. Hurrying to the kitchen sink, I grabbed a rag and scrubbed and scrubbed until there was no further paint removal progress happening. Favorite turquoise pants are now spotted painting pants.

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Remember the paint on my hand? … Below is evidence of where it transferred to the kitchen rag cupboard door.

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After the paint dried and my pants dried to a nice polka-dot look, the doorbell was installed. Sweet victory! Tonight I went out the front door to take a gander at the lighted up Cadillac version of a doorbell on our front porch. It sort of has a calming Close Encounters glow to it, doesn’t it?

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Time tally:  two trips to the store, 1.5 hours. Removing old doorbell and gathering tools, 15 min. Scrubbing spiderwebs away from the hole with an old toothbrush, 5 minutes. Locating, shaking, opening paint, 10 min. Painting, 3 min. Scrubbing pants, 11 min. Cleaning paintbrush, porch, kitchen cupboard, feet and shoes, 18 min. Installing new doorbell, 4 min. BAM!       TWO HOURS THIRTY SIX MINUTES.

Remove! Connect! Mount! LIES!

How the Crosbys Measure Up

May 6, 2017

It was a depressing day for me. We decided to measure everyone in the family. Everyone either stayed the same (Rick and Austin) or grew (Keeve and NORA!!!) But I was in neither category, depressingly. I haven’t been measured in 12 years…. and in those 12 years, I have somehow lost 3/4 of an inch. I have been 5′ 6″ since I was TWELVE YEARS OLD! What in the world? I’m barely in my 50s. Old ladies shrink. Not 50 year olds.

Nora was thrilled beyond words to have grown a quarter of an inch in the last three months! She is hoping to hit five feet. (I’m not real hopeful for her… shhhh!) She is currently at 4′ 9.25″. And she is turning 14 this summer. Well, God does answer prayer, and she prays every day that she will grow!

That’s all the news. I’m going to bed…. hopefully to stretch out. Sheesh.

Seriously?

March 28, 2017

Once again, I thought I was being punked, or was on Candid Camera. Seriously, why do these things happen to me?

At the end of the Indiana Homeschool Convention, I traipsed to the ladies room before packing up by booth. There was one stall door in there that didn’t match the others. It was brown, obviously a replacement, and the rest were beige. Not only did the lone door make me want to sing “One of these things is not like the other” but it was the only gateway that didn’t rest in the closed position. All the beige doors looked like they were locked, even when they were guarding a vacant stall.

For some strange reason, I chose the loner door at 6:05 on Saturday night. As I entered my chosen throne room, I surmised, “This must be the most used stall because you have to bend over and look for shoes surrounded by pant legs to see if the others are available.” That should have been a clue to me. But no. I was a tad on the tired side… tuckered out… to say the least. I had just finished speaking six times. I LOVE speaking, but it can be draining.

Well, I was right. It WAS the most used stall and guess what it was plumb out of?????  Yep. TP.

It was too late for me to re-choose a new stall by the time I figured out my dilemma. Good gravy. Surrounded by silence, I wondered if I was alone in the bathroom. Oh, dear baby Jesus, please no.

Feebly I made public my private situation, “Help!”

No response.

With a little more gusto, “HELP! Is anyone out there?”

A lone woman was with me, and probably trying to ignore the first call for assistance. Her entire response was, “Yes.” Seriously? Couldn’t she have asked what I needed? Or how she could help? But I guess she did answer my question.

Pleading, I requested that she hand me some toilet paper. “Sure.” My prayers were being answered. I heard toilet paper being removed from a receptacle in another stall. Then my guardian angel asked which stall I was in… because the only one that stays open was shut and locked in front of my nose and knees.

Sticking my hand out under the door, she placed the golden paper in my fist…. all three squares of it. Seriously? At first I thought it was funny. Personally, I have handed my daughter two squares when she asked for help in my same precarious position. BUT THEN I HANDED HER A WAD and we laughed!

My guardian angel left. Exited the lavatory. The exterior door shutting behind her was the last noise heard in the bathroom… until I started laughing. Seriously?

I folded those three precious squares very carefully.  VERY carefully.

But it was not Candid Camera. I did not get punked. It was real life in a day of Laughing with Linda. I’m thankful I can provide entertainment for others.

You’re welcome.

Homeschool Bible Class

March 15, 2017

As previously mentioned here at MSJ, we are using Picture This! Bible curriculum. We love it! You get to color and discuss the Bible. It takes us approximately a week to get through one book of the Bible because the pages are so detailed as they summarize a whole book. We are in the middle of Leviticus currently, learning all about priestly duties and sacrifices and forbidden food, etc.

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Here is a rundown of how our Bible time went:

10:37 We gathered at the patio table with colored pencils, our color sheets, the fat curriculum binder and Nora’s chunky pink Bible.

10:38 I started coughing and returned to the house for water and cough drops. The washing machine buzzed and I changed the load of laundry.

10:43 We turned to Leviticus and reviewed what we have already covered/colored. Okay, this book was complicated. I didn’t even remember what all five sacrifices were for and there were code words to help you remember. Nora looked up several verses and we made our own additional code words on our papers.

10:55 A formidable shadow circled the back lawn drawing our attention and rendering us speechless as we looked at the shape of the wings.

10:56 The second circling shadow had us out of our chairs and onto the lawn, shielding our eyes from the sun, and staring at the hawk 30 feet above our heads. A discussion followed as we stood there, about why it would be circling above our house, what they eat, and what type of hawk it was. It was close enough for us to see it moving its tail back and forth with each turn. So cool. We realized it was not flapping its wings, simply soaring in a slow upward circular motion. So we waited on the lawn to see how long it would take the bird to actually flap.

11:02 I yelled through the screen door to my husband/pilot, “There is no wind. How can this hawk be circling for such a long time without flapping its wings?” He explained wind currents and changes with altitude.

11:06 THE HAWK FLAPPED, but just once, and kept circling.

11:07 Back at the patio table we read about the foods that were forbidden for the Israelites. Nora was truly sad for them because they could not eat bacon. For reals. She read through the list of fish that were approved and not approved. Then we googled an image of a shrimp so she could see what they look like before they get to Panda Express. She thinks they are ugly. She is right, of course.

11:20 We moved on to the moral laws for God’s chosen people. I decided to read these as they listed all the sexual sins and she didn’t need to be trying to pronounce all of those monstrous unfamiliar words. I refrained from glancing up at her because I already knew her dark chocolate irises had white circles all the way around them as I uttered those sins aloud, for God and country to hear out in public. When the list was exhausted, I casually closed the Bible and looked at the the next section in the teacher guide.

11:25 Nora was staring off at the tree over the fence while the wheels in her brain were processing SIN.

11:27 Processing complete, she inquired, “I thought the Bible was for everybody.” I reassured her that it is. “That part you just read is not for kids!” True. To aid to her disbelief of the contents of the Bible, I spouted, “Can you believe that God talked about all these things?” Discussion followed as to why in the world our holy God felt it necessary to mention women’s monthlies, incest and all the others thrown in with them.

11:35 She abruptly changed the subject and asked if we could have grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Sure. And Bible was concluded for another day.

Do you understand now why it takes us a week to get through one Bible book?

 

 

Thankful!

March 14, 2017

Today while I was minding my own business in the Butterfly Pavilion at the Desert Botanical Gardens, a woman approached me and gushed, “I don’t want to embarrass you, but I know who you are and I want to thank you for the article you wrote about your son not reading until he was nine.” I thanked her for saying something, asked about her kids and met her friends that she was butterflying with. She wasn’t done, however. “I cut out that article and put it up in my bathroom. I read it every day! And I say to myself, ‘If Linda Crosby can make it through this, I can make it through this.'”

Her willingness to approach me and spill her beans blessed my socks off. I am so fortunate to be able to speak to homeschoolers through seminars, articles and day-to-day meetings around town. My passion is to encourage others to keep on keeping on. I am so blessed this year to be speaking in five other states, so I can love on some hurting mothers who just want to quit. This home educating gig ain’t for the faint of heart!

By no means am I the Wonder Woman of homeschooling. Far from it. I have made more mistakes than most… ask my kids! No, don’t. It might hurt my homeschool mom feelings. But there is something to be said about hearing how another mom failed over and over again, and seeing that their kids actually turned out okay… mostly, as contributing members of society who aren’t too socially awkward.

Be encouraged, homeschooling mama! The days when everything goes haywire are the days the kids will probably remember the most. (Unfortunately!) Usually they recall how you handled rough situations and they watched you get up out of bed the next day and try again at the homeschoolin’ deal.

My advice for the “End of March Blues” is to relax. Hardcore-Textbook Mom, play some board games. Stick-to-the-Planner Mom, read a good YWAM biography to the kids. Neatnik Mom, break down and let the kids papier mache outside… with the back door locked. OCD-Math Mom, cross out half the problems on today’s worksheet. Live on the edge. It’s okay to relax once in a while and have some fun. Funschooling is real.

Know that you are not alone. Find another homeschooling family… or five, and go to the Botanical Gardens! We did! It was a great break and math will still be there tomorrow!

Training Your Kids NEVER Ends!

March 6, 2017

My 18-year-old son, Keeve, did not get my storytelling-gene… at all. I feel I have not trained him in good faith as his mother in this area. #momfail2277  I offer this story as evidence and my solemn vow to work with him on his retelling abilities. Pinky swear.

Crosby_Keeve_senior.jpg(Photo credit: Monica Hortiales, Youth Pastor and fine storyteller)

Our tale begins with some backstory: it was a Wednesday night. Keeve left for church at 4:45. Nora and I left at 6:00. Rick was supposed to leave at 6:20. Austin went straight from work to church.

Upon arrival at church the sweet greeter lady hugs my neck and relays, “Your son handled that like a trooper!” I smiled. I had no idea what she was talking about… nor which son she was referring to.

Nothing else was mentioned until we were getting in the van to drive home. My husband reached down between the front seats and grabbed a piece of paper and scotch tape, saying, “I’ll be right back.” I still didn’t know what was going on… OR if this had anything to do with the other stuff I didn’t know was going on.

Upon Keeve’s arrival home that night, his dad asks him, “So, what happened?” Here is Keeve’s entire story, “I got pulled over. The license plate on the car was stolen.” THE END. I inquired a bit further and discovered the paper and scotch tape were for the temporary plate that Rick printed off at home and brought to the church.

FOUR DAYS LATER…. we had our youth pastor over for lunch and got the whole truth. She was in the church, looking out the windows when Keeve pulled in, followed by, not one, but four police cars. Keeve was told to stay in the car as one cop approached his side of the vehicle. Then SEVEN MORE armed officers of the law got out of their vehicles and surrounded my innocent baby boy in his car…. in front of the church! Yeah, he forgot to mention backup.

The officer at the driver’s window asked if Keeve knew why he was being pulled over. NO! He proceeded to explain that the license plate on the car was a stolen plate and he needed to see Keeve’s license and registration. Another officer was removing the hot plate as they spoke. The remaining officers were casing the joint, because our church is in an industrial strip-mall of sorts…. perfect cover for a chop-shop to steal cars and paint them and switch out license plates and deter the law.

At this point, the youth pastor came out of the church and was waving her cell phone, mouthing to Keeve, Do you need me to do anything? Keeve simply smiled his shy smile and shook his head back and forth.

Next the kind officer asked Keeve, “What is this place?” My Keeve… hahaha… “It’s my church!” More inquiries, “Why are you at church at 5:00 in the evening on a Wednesday?” My son explained, “I’m in the worship band and we have practice right now.”

Eventually they let him get out of the car, and questioned Keeve about the damage on the driver’s side door handle. He explained the vandalism that had taken place in October when someone tried to break in. Made me think we should possibly visit a chop-shop???

“Do not move this vehicle until you get a 3-day temporary license plate,” the cop instructed Keeve. Hence, the call home to Dad, that I didn’t know about, and the printing of the temporary plate, and my husband’s late arrival at church.

Who knew thugs steal license plates? Now we know. And storytelling lessons will commence with embellished details as a side option.

 

Homeschooling is More than Workbooks at the Kitchen Table

March 5, 2017

When we were diligently studying WWII in American history in our homeschool, I assigned the kids the project of making a game. Foolishly I assumed they would come up with some sort of board game with the Axis and Allies picking sides and battling it out with cards, or dice or Popsicle sticks to dominate the world. I should have known better with MY children.

When I give my students active assignments such as this there is always a laundry list of requirements for their “class” presentation. Just like real school. This particular list included, but was not limited to: make a game that 4-6 people can play, design a game board, include historical information, wear an applicable costume when presenting, have props for the players and make it fun!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

(To my dismay, I did not take a picture of Austin wearing his costume… but this shows what he looked like at that time… thrilled to be giving a report!)

To say I was surprised when my son walked in dressed like Hitler is an understatement. He had absconded the master closet with a tan Royal Rangers shirt of his father’s. He designed a swastika arm band, found a skinny tan tie, and made gold medals for the getup. His blonde hair was slicked over and he had a felt mustache in miniature taped to his upper lip. Scarily, he did resemble the German fascist.

For props we all wore similar black felt mustaches and hand drawn arm bands. The game board was pretty straight forward with six columns leading to the top where he had boldly scribed, “Who Wants to Be Hitler?” … sort of like Jeopardy. At this stage I was falsely assuming that my son was glorifying a mad man and I was simply waiting for the moment to stop the game.

To my surprise (and relief), as we rolled the dice to move up the board, we had to answer detailed questions about the Jews, Germany, death camps, Hitler, the Nazis, Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), persecution, ethnic cleansing, the death trains, etc. The strategy of the game was well thought out. As players, you didn’t want to be Hitler, so you had to understand the times and his hideous plan in order to stay where you were on the board and not ascend to the top. For every wrong answer, you moved closer to “being Hitler.”

The process of playing the game brought home the idea that if you didn’t understand what was going on in society, you would be caught up in the nightmare becoming part of the problem. Discussions following the game were extremely contrite and somber. These kids understood the sins of at least THIS past generation, hopefully being somewhat equipped to stand up against injustice if a situation arose in their lives.

My son received an A on his game and presentation and the game was laid to rest forever.

Unfortunately, somehow the swastika-armband-clad-shirt ended up on a hanger in the front room of our house before it made its way back to my husband’s side of the closet. In the 18 hours it hung in the front room, the doorbell must have wrung at least five times for various and sundry reasons. When spying the shirt, several eyebrows were raised heavenward wondering what in the world was going on in the Crosby homeschool. Fumbling through various thoughts in my head, I knew I should NOT say, “We just played Who Wants to be Hitler!” I feebly came up with, “We are studying World War II,” and smiled my pretty homeschool-mom-smile… the one that makes people assume I have my act together.