Laughing in the Midst of Purgatory, Part 2

August 31, 2016

Please read the previous post if you haven’t already.

The next day, after much laughter and hilarity and swearing on the phone, (I never say crappy out loud! I only spell it!) I realized that all my personal and family and business files are still on the email account to which I no longer have access. There is SO MUCH on there… medical info, log-ins for my different sites, copies of proposals, correspondence with publishers, disability info for our girl, all the info about changing the ESA law….. I NEED TO GET IT BACK!

My sister-in-law, Jennie, is a mastermind at computery affairs and let me in on the fact that everything that was ever on the internet is still out there in space and can be retrieved. IF YOU KNOW HOW! She then proved it to me by finding pages that I thought were lost for all eternity, saving me hours of brain power and typing time! It gave me hope.

Cox was contacted again. This time it was a nine minute hold time, but if my files can be retrieved it will be worth nine years of my time! Nice lady number two took my call. She asked me to verify my account with the phone number used to open the account. GREAT! I asked how many tries I get. She sort of chuckled and asked how many I need. I replied, “Three.” She obliged and try number three was the slam dunk. She shoots! She scores! The correct number was the house phone that has been shut off for five or six years. (Please remember that this account was only opened three years ago!) (Insert profuse eye roll.)

I explained that my account was shut down just last week, but I need access to the files. She searched her script …. and competently found section 127 where it read, “If the customer needs files from a closed account, send them to a tier two operator.” So off I went, transferring …  probably to India.

NO! It can’t be! Another person whose first language is English! It’s my lucky day! I should go buy a lottery ticket… except for we don’t gamble with the money the Lord has entrusted to us. Let’s move on. Nothing to see here, folks.


Once again, I lamented about my files in the inaccessible account. My newfound friend’s fingers were making a racket fiddling with her keyboard and I was put on “hopeful” hold numerous times. While she was digging for an answer, or my files, or playing Solitaire for all I knew, I decided to ask questions. Because that’s what homeschool moms do. We ask questions. ALL.DAY.LONG.

“Does Cox offer email accounts that aren’t attached to internet service?”

“Well, yes we do,” she claimed baffling me, “but only in certain markets. But you are in Phoenix and that market does have them still.” Well, glory be!

Through my mind went these random thoughts:

I don’t want to pay back $110 for my files! But I will.

What was that other birdbrain talking about… no emails without internet… GAH!

Do I even keep this account if I can get it back? They could close it again without telling me.

Is she simply acting like she’s trying to help me so I feel helped?

Eventually, the soft-spoken woman explained that this was beyond her capabilities and she would need to notify her supervisor who would call me back to answer my questions and find my files. Good. She asked for the best number to reach me. BAM!

Being an optimist, I believed her. It’s now been 24 hours with no return call. They probably called the dead house phone number, then sent a follow-up letter to Oklahoma.

Remembering more and more information that is stored in those missing files, my stomach began to roil in agitation. “Dear God, please let me get to my files,” was my last prayer uttered before heading upstairs to bed. Worn out and frustrated, I thought how could this get any worse?

Then out of nowhere, ZING! A blasted scorpion sunk its stinger in the side of my foot right by my little baby toe. SERIOUSLY!?! I’m not even joking.

People who don’t live in Arizona think a scorpion sting is the kiss of death. It’s not. Unless you weigh under 20 pounds. I don’t. I have been stung three or four times, so I quickly swallowed some ibuprofen, dabbed peppermint oil on the sting, and went to lie still in bed. You don’t want to pump the venom through your veins with activity. Today it is tender but I didn’t lose any sleep over the sting… or my files… thank the good Lord!

(Notice I refrained from mentioning that my husband owns and operates a pesticide business…. remind you of the cobbler whose children have no shoes? He does spray the house regularly, I simply find it ironic!)




Summer Lovin’ Had Me a Blast!

August 25, 2016

Count it all joy. That’s in the Bible… yep. So I’m counting it all joy…. my summer fun. If you think purgatory isn’t real, I’ve got news for you. Here are the last month’s trips through address change hell and debit card dumbness. (And you thought it was all over months ago!) NO WAY, JOSE!

At the bank, our personal bank of more than eight years whom I have contacted I cannot tell you how many times to straighten out our address, we went in to open the Colombian princess’ 13-year-old account. They asked me to verify my address. I got it wrong. (My favorite part of this is when they look at me like I’m dumb. I don’t even know where I live! I should probably be in a home for the bewildered.) I tried again with an Oklahoma address where we have never lived… yep. OHMYSTARS! So they “fixed” it for the umpteenth time. Right! Until next month when I go back in for some other such banking service!

me n john

(Here are two people. One lives in Arizona. One lives in Oklahoma. BIG difference!)

Next, I needed to renew the hosting for my website. They asked for the last four digits of the card that was used to open the account. I replied, “That was three or four debit cards ago. I have no idea.” Then they asked to verify my address. I just flat out lied and said I have two… one in Arizona (where we have lived for 11 years) and one in Oklahoma (where we have never and will never live). I have both memorized. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this until now! It worked. Feeling all proud of myself…. for lying. See what this has come to?

Tonight I called an automated system to pay a bill. It is a bill that was on auto pay but must have missed the last new debit card change (after someone went all wild with my card on and because it is four months overdue. I tried to use the automated system because it was after hours. The first question was to verify my street address… 2524… nope. We are at 2416… and the Oklahoma address is 500. So I tried to gain access with the last four digits of our social security numbers. Both were turned down, but I know those were right! Then they asked to verify the address again. I got it wrong again. I vaguely remembered that 2524 was our street address in a short term rental in between our homes 11 years ago. So I hung up and called back. I thought I was being all tricky, but it didn’t work. Dangitallanyhow.

Tomorrow I will call when I can go over all this again and again with a live person because I don’t have anything better to do with my time. And I like talking to people who don’t really believe what I’m telling them. It makes me miss the days of slamming down the phone receiver. Sigh.

Here’s my free advice: when your child gets married and moves away, volunteer to fill out the address change card FOR THEM! Don’t let them make the mistake on your watch of checking the “whole family” box on the pink form. It is painful and goes on forever and ever. Learn from our mistake, people!

Summer lovin’ had me a blast!

Goal Setting for Homeschoolers

July 28, 2016

When we began homeschooling in 2001 our curriculum instructed us to set yearly goals for each of our kids in four areas: spiritual, physical, academic, and character. So we did. I’m a homeschool mom. I follow instructions.

As our homeschool life developed we began looking long-term at our kids’ futures, you know, like when they LEAVE! We realized we eventually wanted them to spread their wings and fly away prepared to effectively run a household on their own. We also didn’t want them to be socially awkward. So we made up two more goal categories: life skills and social skills.

aug 2005 068.jpg

For the first day of school every year we head to a donut shop and set goals with the kids. Then we return home and take their picture in front of the school house. Above is from 2005. Below is 2010.

1st day of school 007.JPG

When the children were young (under 12) my husband and I set the goals for the children while eating out at Claim Jumper and sharing a piece of the six-layer Motherlode chocolate cake. Anyone can goal set with enough chocolate available.

As the kids aged, we included them in the goal setting adventure so that they had some skin in the game. By high school, they were setting their own goals with guidance from their loving and involved parents. US!

2011… the year the Colombian princess joined the Crosby family.

Larisa's birthday 007.JPG

We chose one or two goals in each of the six areas, taking into account the personality, skill and talents of each child. We realize goals are to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-related. Not all of ours were, but we felt we had included enough to move forward.

We checked back on the goals at mid-December, early March and at the end of May. I would mark them with a +, 1/2, or –, depending on the success of the child. Sometimes the same goal came back the next year (like obeying the first time.)

Here are some examples of goals from each of the six areas:

Spiritual: (this was to develop good study and prayer habits) Bible reading, devotional reading, prayer time, scripture memory. When the kids were little, we would choose a time frame such as 10 minutes for prayer and 10 minutes for Bible reading. Sometimes it would be a certain number of memory verses for the year. We also taught them to make prayer request lists, and lists of family and friends to pray for.

Physical: P.E. class, sports, trampoline time, exercises, dance, potty training, riding a bike, etc.

Academic: spelling, math flashcards, phonograms, handwriting, oral reading, Spanish, grammar, etc.

Character: obedience, trust, honesty, patience, responsibility, self control, courage, etc. We would pick an area that child needed to work on and would read biographies on a person who exemplified that trait, or have the kids look up Bible verses that applied. We set a plan on ways to practice the chosen character trait.

Life Skills: all household chores, meal planning, cooking, shopping, sewing, car care, painting a room, hooking up a computer, removing screens to wash, animal care, etc. These were taught one at a time until the child mastered the skill at an adult level. (I didn’t want the bathroom to look like a kid had cleaned it!)

Social Skills: introductions, heaphone/cellphone manners, asking three questions to others, eye contact, firm handshake, ladies first, replying without sighing, asking if you can help, etc.

If you are just at the start of your homeschool journey and this seems overwhelming, pick one or two categories to set one goal for each child. Goal setting is a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Be the one to cast the vision for your homeschool! 

And finally the 2013 and 2015 photos.

homeschooling 2013 005

first day of school 009

2016 Arizona Homeschool Convention

July 17, 2016

2001 was my first experience with a homeschool convention as we were embarking on this crazy and rewarding choice to educate our kids at home. My inaugural entry into the exhibit hall brought on anxiety and trepidation… it was HUGE! How was I supposed to narrow down what curriculum I needed from the 27,000 choices? And yes, I cried … just a little. I never did find a grammar program… so I didn’t do grammar that first year. It’s all good. Really.

Also, that year, I was unaware of the seminars that were going on on the other side of the wall. How did I miss this?  I don’t know. But year two when I found them it was like opening a Christmas gift in a new room every hour!

2016 is my fourth or fifth year speaking at the Arizona conference. What a joy and a blessing to share my homeschooling passion with newbies and oldbies. All of my mistakes give people hope. If I can do this, anyone can do this!

2016 afhe

The 2016 REPORT

Never have I given a report, but I feel it is necessary this year. Soon you will know why.

Thursday there was a free mini conference for interested folks who are trying to decide if homeschooling is for them. My session was called Homeschool 101 and gave the info needed for teaching your kids in Arizona. The law. The requirements. The freedom. This was my fourth or fifth time giving this talk and I was feeling rather confident about my 45 minutes of responsiblity. However, after I brought up my PowerPoint and discovered my notes for that talk were not in my binder, my confidence waned a tad. I immediately pictured the stack of notes on my dresser waiting for the three-hole punch. Dang it!

Going with the flow is a necessary skill for homeschool moms… and it came in handy at that moment. I moved the laptop so I could read it a bit more clearly and embarked on my first seminar where I was shooting straight from the hip. Lord, help me! Usually this talk is full of information without much room for entertaining Crosby stories of things my children have done to me. This time, however, I told plenty of stories and still wonder what I left out! (I apologize, Thursday peeps!)

Friday my first seminar was Getting Started, which is the longer version of Homeschool 101. I did have notes I needed, and you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you use those notes yesterday?” Good question. They don’t follow the powerpoint and I would have looked confused. I’m all about what I look like. Bwahahahaha! No, really.

Usually at Getting Started on Friday I make an announcement before I begin telling folks who came to the Thursday talk to go hear another seminar…. I didn’t this time. I thought there might be pertinent information that I skipped. Better safe than sorry.

At the end of Getting Started, I figured out that my zipper on my pants was down the entire time. Thankfully I was wearing a shirt that covered this breezy are of my outfit.

Then came my initial delivery of a new seminar titled Using Art Across the Curriculum. Twenty minutes before this seminar I was handed a brief from the Phoenix Police that I was to familiarize myself with so I could make an announcement at the beginning of the seminar. I obeyed. (There was a hoax protest planned for downtown Phoenix.) But then I was almost late for my seminar. I scrambled in there and got set up with two minutes to spare. Perfect…. except that I needed to go to the bathroom. There wasn’t time. I honestly prayed, “Dear Jesus, please don’t let me pee my pants in front of all these nice folks. Amen.”

All went well until half way through the seminar I resorted to crossing my legs and squeezing tightly all the while praying that I could hold it. I tried to make it look casual by propping my crossed foot up on my toes. OHMYSTARS! I seriously had all these thoughts while giving my art seminar:

I am getting old and half to wear Depends now when I talk.

I swear I will never EVER skip the bathroom again before I speak.

Those dang protesters are getting all up in my business!

I could cut this short and no one would know. Just turn off the computer now.

What do I do if I really do pee my pants?

I could knock over my water bottle at the same time…… or the pitcher of water! Yes!

Thankfully, I survived with my bladder and dignity intact.

My lone Saturday talk and final seminar was Ideas for Planning and Scheduling. Again, I’ve delivered this info several times. It’s a fun seminar… because I made it fun by adding pictures of 1970s and 80s TV shows. It was a boring presentation until I included the Beaver, Richie, the Fresh Prince, Mork and Gilligan. Unfortunately, when I turned on my computer it was updating. WHAT!? You know, the update that says “1 of 3 updates complete. Do not turn off your computer.” The one that takes 30 minutes. I mildly freaked out. Thankfully I had gone to the little ladies room or there would have been an issue right then and there on the floor. The whole seminar consisted of showing planning and scheduling ideas…. in pictures… on the screen. Fourth seminar prayer, “Oh dear baby Jesus, I need help again!”

Greg, the faithful AV man showed up and tried to resuscitate my laptop to no avail. He then asked if I had the seminar saved in cyberspace. Thank GOD! I had emailed all the seminars to myself when I completed the PowerPoints. He brought in his computer and SAVED MY BACON! Whew. And we even started really close to on time. Thank you, Greg!

So that is how the 2016 Arizona Families for Home Education Convention went for me. See? Anyone can homeschool!

How did it go for you? Hopefully less eventful than my rendition!

Tarter Sauce Fail in Walmart

June 25, 2016

Standing at the deli counter ordering sliced turkey in Walmart with my daughter and son-in-law, I described to them a meme I recently saw that I found hysterical.

It read, You are never too old to put random items in other people’s carts at Walmart.

We chuckled and then tried to talk my daughter into participating. We picked out a small ketchup bottle and unsuccessfully tried to coax her into playing along. No go.

However, my son-in-law, John, was all over the game. He picked up a single size serving of tarter sauce and sauntered around behind us pretending to compare prices and ingredients of bread loaves.

A lovely young woman standing next to me with a full cart of groceries, asked me if I purchase sliced meat regularly from the Walmart. “Yes, we do. It is cheaper then buying the packaged meat,” I answered. Unbeknownst to the kind lady, she was the target of the Walmart meme and my son-in-law’s prank.

Like she had mental telepathy, as John almost-stealthily placed the tarter sauce in her cart, she sensed something behind her, turned quickly, spied John, then grabbed her cross-body purse as if he was trying to rob hr. Immediately John started repenting, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” Then he turned a nice shade of red as he took the tarter sauce out of her cart.

My daughter and I couldn’t stop laughing. I explained the meme to the victim and she replied that she had actually seen the meme. “I thought he was trying to steal my wallet,” she confessed. “I am a special needs teacher and I am always prepared for something out of the ordinary to happen.” So good. So good.

Walmart Scheme Victim: 1

John: 0

Oh, it’s ON, baby.

The Joy of Stuff

June 9, 2016

My parent’s just sold their house so we are helping them pack. “We” meaning me and three teenagers. It reminded me of packing when my kids were one and four-years-old. I would put stuff in the box and they would take it out. I would get the whole box packed and then couldn’t locate the tape because someone was “helping” and packed it.

Yesterday we were boxing up the kitchen, Christmas pillows, vases and DVDs. My niece packed a bunch of glasses and scribbled out the old moving words from the second-time-around boxes and wrote on the box “Kitchen” and “Glasses.” Then Grandma asked my daughter to write “Fragile” on all the kitchen boxes. So she went around and scribbled out “Kitchen” and “Glasses” and wrote “Fragile.”

moving boxes

My daughter packed a bunch of Christmas pillows from a spare room closet and wrote “Christmas Pillows” on the top. Then my son came and scribbled out “Christmas” because he thought they were just regular pillows and his sister was confused.

I was ready to take away the Sharpies from everyone. I will be amazed if the boxes end up in the right places in the new house.

But everyone was HELPING!

On a more thoughtful note, moving and seeing other people’s stuff makes me ponder “stuff.” Why do we think we need it? Why do we think we can’t get rid of it? If we don’t get rid of it, who will? Why do old things seem valuable when they are simply old things? Is it sentiment? Is it fond memories? Why would anyone need to save a collection of obsolete music recordings that you can’t even listen to anymore? How many table cloths does one woman need?

There are two pack rats in our home… my husband and our littlest girl. They collect stuff and would undoubtedly be on the T.V. show Hoarders if I did not live with them.

Our daughter has a mini coat rack in her room for her bath towel and her backpack. I entered her cluttered oasis last week and spied the big round blob where the coat rack used to be. I asked what was on there. Three towels, (Why?) three backpacks, (When did that happen?) five other bags, (What the heck for?) and six purses. (Has she even used some of those… they have sequins… I doubt it.)

Throwing out my husband’s quality paraphernalia has gotten me in trouble more than once. He is out of the country right now and actually texted me to ask me not to throw anything of his away. Sheesh…. like I hadn’t thought of that already.

We are almost done with the massive-master-closet-clean-out project. It hadn’t been emptied in 12 years. Don’t judge me. (I homeschool my kids, and write, and cook, and create… I am a busy woman.) Now the closet is beautiful… you can see the carpet. There are pretty boxes on shelves, the clothes have room to breathe and are in the color order of the rainbow, but I did a lot of getting rid of in the process.

How in the blazes did all this come out of my closet?

messy room

My fabric supply left my house. It went to a home with two little budding seamstresses. I had not looked at those scraps for over two years. My scrapbooking stickers and supplies are leaving my home too. There are two little crafty princesses waiting for their new stashes.

Someone else can love the stuff that is simply taking up space in your house! Share the wealth! (Not the Bernie way. Don’t even get me started.)

I got a New Website!

June 4, 2016

A new website may not seem exciting to those of you who are savvy in the tech world, but I am not, so it is to me. My previous website was built in 2008…. can you believe that? And it disappeared into the cyber never-never land when they tried to process my hosting fee on a debit card that died a painful death months ago. Then I didn’t get to it in time and it is GONE. Just like that. Don’t let your website disappear by procrastinating updating your debit card number! Learn from my mistakes, people.

To the rescue came my incredibly talented and intelligent sister-in-law, Jennie, who is a computer geek and so good at it. She simply “whipped up” a new site for me. It’s sharp, clean and direct. She amazes me and I am grateful we married into the same family so we could be sisters.

Go have a looksie:


Hot pink, black and some Kelly green thrown in for contrast. Makes me happy.

Thank you, Jennie! You da bomb-diggety!


May 21st! The END…. sort of…

May 21, 2016

School is kind of “out for the summer” but in a different way than with my usual end-of-May homeschool mama joy and celebration. There was no counting down the days this year.

We have learned that some of the Colombian Princess’s challenges with memory are due to vast breaks in education… you know, like summer. So in a much diminished fashion, we are schooling a few days a week while home this summer, just to keep the pump primed. She was not real thrilled about this news, and I couldn’t let her know that I was not real thrilled about it either. Someone has to be excited about education… and it SHOULD be the teacher in most cases.

So now the home front needs some love and attention. In case anyone wonders what the Crosbys are doing for the next three months, get out your notepads and pencils… here you go:

  1. We bought a stand up deep freeze to put in the garage.
  2. Cleaning out the garage so we can fit in the stand up deep freeze.
  3. Buying a shed to put the stuff that doesn’t need to be in the garage somewhere else. (Does the cost of the shed and deep freeze justify the savings on large quantities of meat? I’m not sure.)
  4. Hauling junk from the side yard to the dump so we can put a shed in the side yard. (Is anyone besides me thinking of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?”)
  5. Switching Austin’s and Nora’s bedrooms. (Austin gets the yellow room with the flowers and butterflies around the top of the walls! Oh goody!) This is happening because my niece from Maui is coming to live with us on the mainland for a bit… sharing the BIG room with Nora.
  6. Picking up a room divider from a generous friend for the BIG room.
  7. Gathering and selling an enormous amount of American Girl doll paraphernalia that is no longer played with. (She will be 13 years old in two months…. I feel there are a few more years to play with dolls…. because she is my baby girl after all.)
  8. Selling the cute white dresser from the yellow room. (Wide is no longer cool when you share a room. Tall is where it’s at.)
  9. Selling all the cutesy little girl purple and lime green room decor. (Awwwww.)
  10. Borrowing a single bed from my brother’s house. The BIG room is only so BIG.
  11. Cleaning out the master closet. (I am going to start this today as soon as this blog is finished.  Blogcrastination is what that is called.) I mean TOTALLY cleaning it out. It’s been 12 years since we’ve seen the walls and back carpet in there. Don’t judge. If there is dust lining the shoulders on top of the hanger marks, Rickey, it’s leaving.
  12. Buying #2 new door handle and bolt lock for the front door. My first attempt was feeble even though the lame wrong size handle is on the door right now. It looks like Billy-Bob came by and changed it for us. Wrong size… with a screw hole two inches below the handle. Dumb.

I’m hoping to have this all done by next week. I know that will not happen, but I am a positive thinker! Where are my minions?

Enjoy your summer, peeps!  Let me know what projects you have going on! I need some company.

My New Debit Card is WORKING!

May 18, 2016

Yay! The new debit card I have had for a couple months is working! I haven’t had any issues with it, other than forgetting to slip it in the chip reader instead of swiping. On days when I should be napping, but am shopping, I still revert to the late 80s and hand my card to the tellers. These young whippersnappers have no clue that we have been handing over our cards for decades only to be retrained to swipe …. and now chip read. Good grief. I’m starting to believe that old-dog-new-trick-deal is real.

My new card is working so well, someone else decided to start using it too! Oh goodie!  Share the wealth! And Bernie isn’t even president!

Sitting on the couch, reading aloud Where the Red Fern Grows, our homeschool bliss was interrupted by my cell phone ringing. I only answer during school for the Principal of our homeschool. My sweet husband asked in a remarkably calm voice, “Um…. are you going all crazy buying things online today?” No, I hadn’t. But had I known he would respond so calmly about a $269 Zulily purchase and $170 of new Nikes, (plus a few other purchases) I might have considered a spending frenzy. I was just looking at Zulily a few days ago and they have some cute turquoise lacy tops that I would totally buy!

So, as you may have guessed, I called my bank. It’s my most unfavorite pastime. They can cancel a card in mere minutes. It’s remarkable! 1/100 of the time it takes them to get you a working card over the phone! And there were no security questions that I couldn’t answer. They didn’t even ask for my pin… THAT I ACTUALLY KNOW! And since I am smart to their ways of sending my new cards by tortoise, I asked where a local branch was that I could drive to TODAY to get a new card. BAM! The guy delivered three addresses all within ten minutes of the house! It made my pulse race.

Today I’m not wearing my “okay-to-be-viewed-by-strangers” clothes. I’m wearing my “wake-up-at-7:10-and-get-in-the-van-in-10-minutes” clothes. But I did not care that my attire and appearance might embarrass a child of mine in public because I did not have a working debit card!!!!! (Let’s switch things up for once, kiddos!)


Getting the new card at the bank was almost painless. The kind man, who gushed that he frequently gets mistaken for the Property Brothers, asked it I had recently shopped at a “large chain hardware store with an orange logo”? (He simply blurted out Home Depot, but I’m being all careful now.) YES! I just bought the new door handle for the front door that is the wrong size but my son installed anyway! However, his Property Brothers comment made me thankful that our bank services seeing-impaired individuals.

Use cash, people. Or barter. They’re the only safe ways nowadays.