Water Filter Infomercial

February 15, 2017

You either HAVE a water filter or you ARE a water filter.

We live in Phoenix, AZ, which is in the Sonoran Desert. Our sunshine state is not know for the quality of our tap water. I’ve heard that Arizona has three years worth of water stored in underground aquifers, for which I am thankful, even though it tastes horrible. So we won’t die of thirst any time soon. I think I could probably crawl out of Arizona to a neighboring state within three years if I had to.

Remember I just ordered a new water filter for the fridge that had the ice maker, the door magnets and the water dispenser fixed? Well, come to find out, my beloved Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator DID NOT HAVE A FILTER! What? I am semi-grossed out by this news.

After pulling out the fridge to inspect the backside, I discovered lots of broken glass under there. The glass used to be the lid to my most-used and well-loved soup pot. Bummer, dude. It almost looked like someone swept it there on purpose…. but I digress.

I wish I had action photos for you… but no.

Today I am feeling like a boss. With my new filter in hand, along with several attachments and no instructions, I turned to trusty youtube and learned how to splice the water line and install the water filter ALL BY MINESELF. (That’s what our eldest used to say twenty-two years ago.) After the second try, it doesn’t even leak! Feeling like a homeschooler.

My assistants, (okay, I had a little help) my two “willing” teenagers, tested the water, wrapped white sealant tape, emptied the pail and moved the fridge back in its hole. Thank you, my children. We will have yummy water and delicious ice cubes for dinner!

Need plumbing or large appliance assistance? 1-800-LindaIsABoss. BAM!

Homeschooling and Brain Surgery

February 14, 2017

An 18-year-old, non-homeschooled friend of my son’s was at our house during our Bible lesson with my 13-year-old daughter. He was sitting on the couch not far from the kitchen table where Nora and I sat coloring our Bible lesson. Yes, you read that right… coloring. It’s the BEST Bible curriculum out there, in my humble 16-year homeschooling experience.

“Picture This!” is a walk through the Bible system that has pages for each book with lightly shaded lines for you to draw and color the history from the Word of God. We read Bible verses, then we draw, then we color, and then we read more Bible verses talking about each as we go along.

This is not a sales pitch for the curriculum, but I love it so much I wouldn’t have a hard time selling it. (I am making no profit from this…. in case you thought I had figured out how to make profits off my favorite homeschool ditties. Um… no.)

Here is the page we were working on when our story began:

“This is the covenant I will make with them
    after that time,” says the Lord.
“I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.” Hebrews 10:16

brain

Wanting to always be RIGHT, my daughter asked, “Mom, what color are brains?

An honest question. I replied, “I think they are sort of pink.”

Nora inquired, “How do you know? Have you seen a brain?”

Then, as most homeschooling lessons go, we veered off to a bunny trail on youtube and watched a video on brain surgery so my girl could see a real live brain. The surgeon was removing some dark colored blob and we could see the blood still pumping through different veins. She thought it was the most supremely awesome video in the history of the galaxy. How is this my child?

Setting my phone down, so I didn’t have to hold all seven minutes of brain surgery in my hand, I concentrated on non-gagging images in my head… like watercolor pictures of flowers and birdies. I get queasy with blood and guts and bones and such. I realize this is surprising to some who know our family’s history of frequent ER trips. But it’s true. I’m an injured-anatomy wimp.

When brain surgery ended, we found another video (like one wasn’t enough!) with a scientist holding a recently harvested brain before it had hardened up. I didn’t realize brains harden up, but they do. I am learning so much from homeschooling. Miss Scientist was naming the different lobes while holding and squeezing it in her gloved hands, and showing the characteristics of a fresh brain. It was so gross to me I had to keep my eyes averted most of the little show. However, my daughter’s dream of becoming a scientist was planted a little deeper in her blood-n-guts loving heart.

Back to the non-homeschooler on the couch… his interest was piqued and he sauntered into the kitchen and viewed the videos with us. His only comment, “I thought you guys were doing Bible?”

“We ARE doing Bible. This is homeschooling.” And back to coloring we went.

Who Knew?

February 12, 2017

We have had our fridge for almost 12 years. It came new with the house. I loved my new Whirlpool side-by-side, ice and water dispensing wonder of the kitchen gods. Notice that was past tense?

Through its 12 years of service the fridge has taken a beating… literally, unfortunately. In my absence, a child of mine, who was old enough to know better, spent an evening taking shots at my beloved refrigerator with a hockey stick and puck. He didn’t even bother trying to cover his tracks by wiping off the black puck marks in all 27 dents. It was a low point of my summer… I cried. Remember, I loved my fridge.

Then the ice maker stopped producing ice. We had a handyman come and “fix” it. Seems he wasn’t as handy as we hoped. To replace the whole ice maker it would suck $158 from my clothes shopping fund (because we didn’t have a ice-maker-replacement-fund at the time)… so I bought plastic ice cube trays at Walmart. BAM. Bring on six more flowy tank tops in bright colors with fringe on the bottom and bling on the front. Priorities, people.

Next the water dispenser stopped pouring water into my cup. I realize this is a first world problem. (No hate mail, please.) This was a while ago and if my memory serves me correctly, it was around the same time the stinky slime puddle was discovered growing three colors of mold under the fridge. Maybe during the clean-up (that made me gag profusely) the hose to the water dispenser got kinked or cut or removed at that time. Who knew?

Finally, the magnetism on the fridge door weakened so badly that if you shut the freezer, the fridge door opened just a smidge. Somehow this often happened after a son of mine made his midnight raid on the fridge and I would find the door still open in the morning. A smidge is a big enough gap on a side-by-side Whirlpool refrigerator to cause havoc inside the once-cold-box. The motor kicked into high gear, due to the warm kitchen air penetrating the cold barrier. This caused all of my vegetables in the two bottom crisper drawers to freeze solid… and the milk jugs in the door were warmer than cold. Ewwww.

After ten years of owning our home with 8 1/2 major appliances (Is a microwave major?) my thrift-minded and possibly doomsday-anticipating husband purchased a warranty for all major appliances. However, as our fridge was deteriorating before my hazel eyes, I did not remember the warranty purchase. I simply put the vegetables on the top shelf and continued filling ice cube trays.

Two weeks back, my handsome husband handed me a two-year-old warranty agreement and suggested I call to get the fridge fixed. WHAT? Maybe he was trying to get the most out of his $75 call-out fee and waited for three things to be wrong with the fridge. Again, who knew?

Last week the friendly repair man came, looked the fridge over, I paid him $75 and he left. Yesterday, he showed up again and fixed ALL the problems with my fridge, with the exception of the hockey puck dents. BUT, the water tasted horrible coming out of the dispenser… and I knew the new ice cubes were being made with the same horrible water.

Today I looked up the water filter number and ordered a new one on Amazon prime. It will be at my house in two days. BAM!

All this to ask, DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE CHANGING YOUR FRIDGE WATER FILTER EVERY SIX MONTHS? Who knew? We have saved money on 23 replacements filters that we never bought…. that is $456.55! Saving cash like a boss.

 

 

 

STOP! In the Name of the Law!

January 22, 2017

Tonight I was reminded of a story from my high school days which I gladly share at this time. It is a homeschool science lesson in the making, mixed with art and civics. Thank you for bringing this story to the forefront of today’s news, Connie, my partner in crime more than once in our late teen years.

It has escaped me where I obtained this gem of a fashion statement, but somehow I got my little 17-year-old hands on a pair of these stop sign sunglasses.

stop-sign-glasses

This is EXACTLY the pair that I chose to wear in high school. See how they have shatter-proof lenses? Safety first! See how it says for children 5 years or older. It should have said for children ages 5-15… let me explain.

The lenses on these beauties were green and they were quite dark, which aided my shielding of the bright California sunshine while donning them. One bright shiny day, I was cruising down El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, California (But not cruising at night on El Camino Real in Santa Clara….. that was naughty) minding my own business… wearing the above glasses… because I was fashion conscious. I’m sure I had on a red or white or royal blue Izod polo shirt with the collar turned up with a matching cherry red patent leather belt in the belt loops of my 501 Levi jeans. (Button fly! Rock on!)

Unusual, to be sure, the stoplights were out on El Camino that day! I was quite surprised that so many in a row were out… block after block. I approached each intersection with caution, stopped, looked both ways and proceeded with care.

Next thing I know there was an officer of the law flashing his blue lights at me in the rear view mirror. Odd. I had never seen them only flash blue. (Not that I had much experience being pulled over… ahem.) After pulling my car to the side of the road the nice police man came to chat with me. He asked why I was running all the red stop lights on El Camino. WHAT? “They were all out, officer! That is why I treated them like stop signs.”

Then I pulled off my awesome stop sign sunglasses and realized his patrol car WAS flashing red and blue… but I couldn’t see the red lights with the green lenses in my fashion eye wear. Figuring he would believe me as I made the discovery and explained it to him….. he simply stood there looking at me like I had used too much VO5 hairspray for too long in too small of a bathroom.

Finally, I handed him the glasses and offered, “See for yourself!” He did. He put them on, glanced around at his police car lights and the red street light in the next intersection, removed them and handed them back to me shaking his head.

The kind public servant did not give me multiple tickets for running multiple lights that day, but did instruct me to NEVER wear the stop sign sun glasses while driving! OKAY!

Here is the science lesson part of this story from physicsclassroom.com:

A pigment that absorbs a single frequency is known as a pure pigment.

Pigments absorb light. Pure pigments absorb a single frequency or color of light. The color of light absorbed by a pigment is merely the complementary color of that pigment. 

color-wheel

And so, dear students, green lenses on fancy sunglasses shaped like stop signs absorb red traffic lights because green and red are complementary colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel. You cannot see red lights with these glasses on! Don’t try this at home!

Be safe! Don’t drive with green or red lenses! And there you have it, from the archives.

Phoenix… We have a Problem!

January 15, 2017

My parents were blessed to spend New Years in Maui with my sister and her family, relaxing on the beach and enduring the rooster calls on the island. Being the kind and thoughtful daughter, I volunteered for pick-up duty on their arrival home. When they booked the tickets, I remember hearing the return date as January 11th, a date that coincides with a special occasion for one of my nieces, who is from Maui. I thought it coincidental that the dates matched.

Calling my brother, who had taken them for their departure, I wanted to confirm the airline and flight time. All was good. Here’s my sticky note.

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I feel the need to point out the extent of my niceness. That 6:49 is A.M. The airport is 30 miles from our house in the same direction all the Phoenix metro traffic heading downtown. Big fat bumper-to-bumper bummer.

Before I volunteered for o’dark-thirty parent retrieval, I checked with all driving family members to see if it was “more convenient” for someone else to go. Nope. Two had to go to work and one to band class. The glitch in this scenario is that our daughter had to be to her reading specialist at 8:00 a.m. From experience, I knew that I couldn’t make it back from the airport in time to take her and I didn’t want to wake her up at 5:15 a.m. either. The princess needs her sleep.

I called a faithful friend who also has a child in the reading class and asked if Nora could sleep over at her house. Sure! That’s what friends are for. I delivered her to her pajama party late on Tuesday night.

My alarm, which incidentally is only set a few times a year, blasted it’s jovial wake-up tune at 5:15 a.m. Please remember at this time that I am a homeschool mom. One of the top reasons we homeschool is so we can get the rest we need… i.e.: we sleep in…. almost every day.

I threw on sweats, brushed my teeth and hair, and went out the front door into the chilly AZ air. Brrrr… in the low 50s. Black skies laughed at me. I am always surprised when it is dark in the morning, for I rarely see this phenomenon.

Traffic wasn’t bad at all and I pulled into the parkade with 15 minutes to spare. After making mental notes of the level and parking area, I checked the screens for arrival times. 412 from Kahului just landed….6:28. Early! Good. This should go quickly. My comfy bed might even still be warm when it welcomes me back!

If you have ever landed at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, you may be aware of the dual runways and the occasional need to taxi for 15 minutes to get to your gate. It adds to the suspense of deplaning. Thankfully I remembered this little tidbit and was not alarmed by a 20 minute delay between the landing time and seeing weary travelers in Hawaiian shirts getting off the red-eye flight. Finally several vacationers trudged by wearing neck pillows and carrying pale green Hawaiian Cookie Company bags. I was a tad alarmed when I didn’t see my very own weary parents. There was no way I could have missed them walking by. There is only one gate for them to come out of. I was there the whole time. But they didn’t show up.

Baggage claim is right down stairs from where I had been sitting for 30 minutes. I decided to take a trip down there to see if Dad and Mom teleported from the plane to the baggage area. Nope. All the Hawaiian shirts were sitting on the floor awaiting their tardy suitcases.

Back upstairs I went… a bit concerned. Could something have happened to one of them on the plane? I called both their cell numbers several times. Both went straight to voicemail. I didn’t want to call my sister to see if she put them on the plane because it was 3:45 in the morning in Maui. I called my husband who was across the tarmac in his office. “I can’t find my parents,” I lamented. He comforted me by telling me they were probably just lost. Great! Where do I report missing persons?

My husband suggested checking my text messages again from Maui. I opened up my brother-in-law’s message and it read, “Mom and Dad arrive Thursday morning at 6:49.” Big fat early morning bummer. It was Wednesday.

Their flight WAS on the 11th of January… but arrived on the 12th of January. I was 24 hours early. I decided not to wait for them at the airport.

A Starbucks caramel apple cider soothed my weary soul before I left the terminal. After handing over my $5.00 for parking and I was on my way home to my snuggly bed.

(In a couple weeks I am scheduled to pick up my niece ON THIS SAME FLIGHT! Hopefully I will get it right next time.)

 

Crazy Crosby Christmas 2016

January 7, 2017

Leaving Arizona to head to Canada for Christmas sounds crazy. Driving instead of flying sounds even crazier. We’re not totally crazy. We only take on the adventure every three or four years. So we’re good now til 2020.

It was 67*F when we drove away from our cozy home on Dec. 21st. The temperature steadily dropped as we made the three day northern trek, landing at -14*F when we arrived in Blackfalds, Alberta. I donned more and more clothing as the 1,600 mile trip continued. It began snowing about an hour after we crossed into Canada. The last count was 26 cars in the ditch for the final 100 miles. Not my idea of FUN!

Another crazy Crosby tradition is to take egg salad sandwiches on every road trip. Rick and I love them. LOVE them! Two days before departure, I boiled a dozen eggs in preparation for our traveling morsels of goodness. The morning of the trip, I opened the carton to prepare said sandwiches only to be surprised by THREE hard boiled eggs staring at me like nothing was wrong! SOMEONE consumed NINE hard boiled eggs in 1.5 days. What’s a mother to do with starving 18 and 20-year-old sons??? Only three egg sandwiches were prepared. It was a big fat hard boiled bummer.

My over-the-top-planning and organizing gene practically takes over before road trips, much to my joy and my family’s dismay. Our plan was to drive only when the sun was up so two hotel stops were required. Being the nice mom, I booked hotels with indoor, heated swimming pools! The plan was only to take one suitcase into the hotel each night. Everyone was instructed to put two changes of clothes, jammies, swimsuit and toiletries in the turquoise suitcase. It worked like a charm! You’re welcome, my suitcase carrying men!

[Side note: Crosbys have had the same C R A P P Y (I don’t say that word. I only spell it.) suitcases since Noah built the ark, until last year when I chose a darling purple suitcase for my husband for Christmas. So thoughtful of me! He even lets me use it! He’s so nice! I love him! THEN I won the 50/50 draw at Keeve’s band’s football game and I bought the darlingest turquoise suitcase! (The 50/50 supports the band boosters, so it’s a donation, not a gambling venture. FYI.) Now with our cute new purple and turquoise additions to our family my traveling self esteem is so much higher than it used to be. Thankyouverymuch.]

We arrived at our destination only to find the gas wasn’t working in the home we were to stay in leaving us with no heater and no hot water. Please remember at this time that it was -14*F when we landed. There were space heaters and piles of blankets, so we were warm, but the boiled-water-bucket-showers took some getting used to. Good times.

winter3

There were 15 of us crazy Crosbys together for food and fun and hockey and food and skating and games and fun and hockey. As with most extended families there were some hick-ups that hampered the merry-making time. There were 12 others who didn’t show up this year. Imagine if all 27 were together! Yeehaw!

winter2

About half of the family is living for the Lord. The other half knows about the Lord and chooses to live with the results of their decisions. I felt like singing with Andre Crouch, Jesus is the Answer, every night at dinner. But we love them anyway. We care for their needs when we are there. We try to shine God’s love and light into their lives for a brief moment. We pray for them… continually.

On our homeward bound trip at the border crossing in Sweetgrass, Montana, the burly border guard was not impressed with our documents for Nora. He asked if she was adopted, then asked, “What is her citizenship?” Seems he missed citizenship day at border guard school, because when a child from another country is adopted by US citizens the child becomes a US citizen when they land on American soil. He commented, “This is a document from Arizona saying she was born in Colombia! How do we know it’s valid?” Well, Mr. Dudly DoRight, Arizona is a state of the union that you work for and they check documents before issuing birth certificates. Thankfully he let us pass, but told us to get her a US passport.We will! Don’t worry!

Another prayer of thanks went upward as we pulled into our driveway last night after three days of beautiful driving weather! A highlight of the drive home was a hotel with a waterslide! It even went outside the building into the freezing atmosphere and shot the kids back in the warm water. Nora, our 13-year-old, lamented that it was pitch black and terrifying… but she went down it about 27 times.

winter7

It’s good to be home. It’s good to be warm. I love my bed. That is all.

We put the FUN in disFUNction! Glad I could make your Christmas seem a bit more normal if this is your normal too! I’m here for you, dear reader! Jesus is here for you too!

 

Happy New Year 2017!

January 5, 2017

Such an exciting time of year for big goals, fresh plans, brilliant ideas, new clothes (just thought I’d throw that one in there!  Shopping, anyone?) and clean starts! I pray you have begun to think about changes you could make to increase your happiness, effectiveness and joy! I have!

As 2016 came to a close, I was beyond pleased to flush several circumstances we encountered in the past 12 months… things I hope to never live through again. But instead of listing the lame-o occurrences, I choose joy. 1 Thes. 5:16 Rejoice always!

Here is my list of What I Learned in 2016 that has changed who I am and how I look at the world differently from now on. Thank you, Jesus, for opened eyes.

  1. FREEDOM! (Yelled in my best Scottish Braveheart accent with my RRRRs all rolling like thunder!) I learned that freedom is the ability to do what we see fit in our lives without anyone else dictating our actions or judging us. Freedom is power. Avoid those who wish to control you and minimize your freedom. Freedom really brings a freeing feeling. Imagine that! Be free! Is the living joy being sucked out of your life? Make some changes. Be free!
  2. GOD! We all have a hole inside of us that we are striving to fill that can only be filled by God. He gave us the desire for MORE! More of HIM! We tend to try and fill that hole with other things … leading to overworking, addictions, perfectionism, life-crippling habits, over-attention on our kids, trivial busyness, social media, etc. But God.
  3. YOU! You are the only you on the planet. You are here for a reason… so am I. I encourage you to look at your God-given talents and interests and figure out what you are supposed to be doing that no one else can do but YOU! Who are you here to bless? To influence? To encourage? To serve? The rest of us want you to succeed at being YOU!
  4. TIME! We all have the same amount of time each day. Well, that’s not totally true because some of us sleep more than others (I happened to get 10.5 hours last night, but that was post vacation recovery.) …. but that doesn’t change the 24 hours we all have, does it? But I digress. There are a multitude of activities you can and could and might participate in… but should you? Just because you can do a task, doesn’t mean you are supposed to. Which leads us back to #3….
  5. WRONG! This has been my mantra for years, but it was so evident in my life this year: IT’S OKAY TO LET OTHERS BE WRONG. Arguing doesn’t help. Even truthful facts don’t help! Simply let others be wrong and move on with your life.

There you have it, folks. And can I suggest getting away from it all even for a day or two to evaluate your life. Sitting on Kapalua Beach on Maui in early November I made a list of the things in my life that were causing me to feel angry, sad, hurt, mad and frustrated. That day I made some decisions, eliminated activities, distanced myself from a couple situations and my life has been richer, freer, more joy-filled ever since. Change is good… and I’m not a big lover of change.

Make it a point to take every thought captive. Don’t dwell on horrible instances that make your blood boil. It’s a waste of time. Choose to find something to think about that brings you joy. I started a new board on Pinterest that simply makes me happy when I look at the watercolor pictures. Makes me want to run for my paints and brushes. It’s that easy! You got this!

The cool thing is, right after this new mindset, some unbelievable doors opened up for me. Desires of my heart. Thank you, God.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

December 7, 2016

In the year of our Lord 2016 decorating the Christmas tree, for some strange reason, went down a little different than any past year I can recall. My husband was here “helping.” Now I get the song God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman! Just go take a nap already!

Last week some thoughtful male in our home brought the Jenny Craig imitation tree into the living room for me. How nice! Except that it didn’t get covered all year from Last Christmas and was filthy. Upon request, a son of mine dragged it to the backyard for me and I gave it quite the shower…. lights and all. I couldn’t remember if the lights actually worked and I knew we had 27 million strings of lights from our daughter’s wedding in the garage. Her wedding wasn’t IN the garage… that’s where the lights were.

A day later an extension cord was also brought to the backyard to see if the shower killed the lights. Surprisingly, they worked! Joy to the World! Back in the house that skinny tree was dragged.

Decorate-the-O-Christmas-Tree day quickly turned into clean-out-the-garage day, much to my chagrin. It all started at 10 a.m. with the typical where-is-the-box-with-the-decorations search and recover mission. Then the shelves got cleaned out and the toilet paper and paper towels were put on the clean shelves. Then we swept the garage floor. Then the camping equipment got put back on the shelves. Then a ton of junk got thrown out. Then I got a big scrape on my arm that produced blood. Then we swept the garage floor again. Then we threw out the dilapidated camping chairs that served their purpose for 11 strong years. (This is how my kids write stories. Every sentence starts with “then.” It really holds the interest of the readers and keeps the story moving along rapidly.) Then we found the bag of sheep’s wool that we will need to study sheep in January. Then we were all hungry. Then the Popsicle man came at the right moment. Then five kids from the youth group showed up and ate tacos at our kitchen table.

Side note: this was a stay-at-home-and-look-ugly day. I hadn’t even brushed my hair. I did brush my teeth because you can only be so gross on a stay-at-home-and-look-ugly day. I was sporting a red t-shirt, grey bally sweat pants that are floods, fuzzy black slippers and a light blue and pink Peter Rabbit apron covered with ruffles. The Popsicle man is probably used to this sort of housewife-dressing-down-deal. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

It was 7:30 p.m. when Nora, our 13-year-old, could not take the suspense any longer and begged to decorate the tree. Okay, Okay! Don’t get pushy! Let’s get this Blue Christmas rolling!

We weren’t ten minutes into our mission when realization hit me that my husband hasn’t really helped hang ornaments on the tree for YEARS! He was not aware of the ornament rules and was breaking the ornament rules faster than I could instruct him in the ways of righteousness. Little ones on top. Big ones on bottom…. but not the last row of branches. Ugly ones in the back. Elvis ones in the back. (I had to make that two rules so Rick didn’t know I think the Elvis ornaments are ugly. Shhhh.) Expensive ones at eye level and next to lights. Sheesh. How hard is it? It was notably NOT a Silent Night!

Here is the front and center of our tree: (Several rules are broken!)

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Then he figured since I had rules, he needed to make some rules. “Don’t linger by the ornament box! Just pull out your ornament and move away from the box!” Sheesh! I’ll admit I rolled my eyeballs toward heaven a few times and thanked God that He gave me All I Want for Christmas in this helpful man.

So, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas at the Crosby homestead! I pray your decorations went up with glee! May your Christmas be merry and bright at this Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Cooking with the Pilot

December 6, 2016

Wandering into the kitchen one morning last weekend, my hockey-playing, pilot husband, who is an exterminator and has a degree in Biblical studies, was vigorously chopping some food source in a frying pan on the stove. I mention his hobbies, schooling and his occupations to point out that he has no formal, or informal for that matter, training in the culinary arts. NONE! He is widely renown for his burnt grilled cheese sandwiches. So his attempt at cooking amused me initially. As I began to ascertain the situation at hand, I became highly amused…. blog-worthy-amused!

On impulse at Costco, my sweet husband, the provider for our family, purchased a skid of hashbrowns. Just look at how crispy-fried those salty morsels appear! He was probably salivating in the super store. Gluten free and 100% REAL potatoes. How could he go wrong?

hashbrowns-003

Kindly I explained that the objective of hashbrown cooking is to leave them alone so they can get brown and crunchy. Smashing them to smithereens won’t get the desired results. Previously I had cooked two boxes of said Costco bulk purchase, so I was quite well-informed on the procedure.

Peering into the pan, something didn’t seem right. The limp potato strips looked dry (and smashed.) Kindly I inquired, “Did you read the directions?” It was an honest question. As soon as my question was delivered, my 13-year-old daughter, who has been trained in our kitchen by my capable side, started laughing and pointed at her dad the I-told-you-so-finger-of-doom. Seems she already mentioned reading the directions to him. That’s my girl!

Rick, Mr. Master Chef, (term used very sarcastically) opened the little carton of goodness and dumped the freeze-dried potatoes in the hot frying pan. He realized something was off. His spidey senses alerted him to the need for butter. In went a dollop of creamy yellow goodness. Butter is the answer to SO MANY cooking situations.

THEN he proceeded to read the directions. And I’ll admit, the instructions for this delicacy are unusual. 1. Open carton and add hot water to the fill line. 2. Close carton and let stand for 12 minutes. Drain well.

Uh oh.

Things were off to a poor start. The pan he had chosen was obviously too small if water was to be added, so he switched to a larger pan. (The only reason I know this is because I discovered a small frying pan in the sink with the remains of burnt freeze-dried potatoes stuck to its non-nonstick bottom.) It was too late to add water to the carton full of spuds, so he added water to the frying pan full of crunchy strips and butter. It said HOT water, so the stove burner was turned to HIGH, obviously. Just like whipping up a grilled cheese sandwich to quality blackness.

Disclaimer: my daughter filled me in on this whole process after the fact so this is all hearsay.

Okay, thinking he was good, he went back to the directions. 3. Preheat a large, non-stick skillet and 2 TBSP. oil over medium-high heat. So, FAIL on the non-stick part. Next oil was poured over the soggy white, limp, smashed potato strips. Doesn’t this make you want to have some???

This is when I wandered in… to witness the mutilation of the oily, half-saturated delicacy. Kindly I probed to see what oil he used. There are four oils in my cupboard: coconut, olive, sesame and vegetable. He had a 75% chance of success. Again, my daughter who loves home-ec informed me in a Dad-is-so-busted tone, “He used butter from your bowl. The one you measured to make cookies.” Ooooh, there are several things that could make this mama go all kinds of crazy on you. Using my softened butter that is measured in a bowl for baking is one of them. And she knew he knew better! That’s my girl. Again the finger-of-doom was pointed at the perpetrator.

It’s doubtful if he ever did read 4. Fry on one side for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Kindly I offered to show him how to divide the pan of scrumptiousness into thirds and flip them to golden brown perfection.

Surprisingly, they tasted okay.

The moral of the story is: When at first you don’t succeed, fry fry again.

Or: Touch mama’s measured butter and die a slow death of much pain. (Kindly I let him live.)

Jury Duty, My Nemesis

November 28, 2016

Since it’s been 18 months and zero days since my last jury duty, the flimsy white postcard arrived in the mail as scheduled announcing my day(s) off from homeschooling! Yay!

It’s that weird season between Thanksgiving and Christmas when most homeschool mamas are torn between math and cocoa with whipped cream. Grammar and Elf. History and fuzzy socks and a snuggly blanket and a good Christmas storybook. Turning on the heater or playing wii Dance 2 for P.E.

Needless to say, I wasn’t super disappointed to be leaving my children unattended for a day or three. (This will be our little secret, k?) My remaining offspring are 13 and 18 and fully self-reliant… with eating and staying alive. Not so resilient with doing school work unsupervised, but hey, it’s December. (Well in three days it’s December, but close enough to already have Christmas cheer!) And lying cozy and warm in your bed reading a fantastic book for hours IS school! Yep!

The day started off with a BANG! From the short walk from the shuttle bus to the front of the court house, I crossed paths with a very angry black woman who spewed, “White supremacists!” to me and my fellow non-assuming, white, middle-aged, minding-our-own-business jurors. Her words literally shocked me. My mouth dropped open. Turning to the lady walking right behind me I shared, “I have never been called that before!” She hadn’t either. Wow! I felt sorry for the name-calling woman. To harbor that much anger must make life horrible! I thought of singing Christmas carols to bring up the Christmas cheer but she walked off too rapidly for my first tune to commence. Joy to the World would have been top of my chart.

Being a returning expert to jury duty, I arrived on time. Signed in and got my sticker badge. Most of my morning was spent reading two months of text messages and trying to figure out who was the other texter. I lost all my contacts on my phone except those who left text messages… but they were nameless numbers. For two hours I READ texts from September 26 to November 28 and tried to remember who I had that conversation with followed by typing in every blinking name. When would I have had time to do that if not for jury duty? Thank you, Madison Court House!

Finally I sat working at a desk until my name was announced. Dang it. I have heard rumors of people getting the notice and sitting in the waiting area ALL DAY. Think of it! ALL DAY pretty much alone to read or look up papier mache Christmas ornaments on Pinterest or make grocery lists or doodle or nap or knit. Sugary bliss! But no.

My juror number this time, out of 40, was 2. Not good. The chances of numbers 30-40 getting selected, in my vast experience, are slim to none. But I was hopeful of being dismissed just by my explanation of what my husband does for work. The trial involved police, so I was sure to mention that Rick flies for Department of Public Safety… the governor, SWAT teams, prisoner transfers and photography… and has for worked for the State of AZ for 17 years. (So the 17 years didn’t always include DPS but I could have clarified if needed.)

This is not my first jury rodeo! (It’s my second.) So I had a much firmer grasp on my emotions as fellow jurors gave feeble attempts at being excused. There was no rolling of my eyes. There were no bursts of laughter like last time. I didn’t even snicker when an elderly gentleman raised his hand and urgently told the judge, “I have to go to the bathroom so bad I can’t think straight!”

The process of jury selection was much quicker this time around and there weren’t sob stories of abuse that we had to endure, thankfully. We returned from lunch and nine jurors were selected just like that. No questioning of any of us from the attorneys. Two minutes after lunch, the rest of us received our Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. BAM! Civic service done! Bring on the eggnog!

December 2016 I will look for my $23 fuel reimbursement check in the mailbox!

May 2018 I will look for the little, flimsy white postcard in the mailbox announcing my next half day off!  Whoo Hoooo!