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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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?

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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. Oh.my.stars. 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: LindaCrosby.com

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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!)

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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.

Land of 10,000 Lakes & 10,000 Laughs

May 2, 2016

Late Sunday night I returned from speaking at the Minnesota homeschool convention exhausted and contented after being inspired by 4,000+ homeschool peeps looking to do the best for their kids. So many young families! So many large families filling their quivers with arrows for the battle to come. It truly inspired me. Truly!

Previously I have spoken in my other homeland, Canada, which borders Minnesota to the north (in case you went to public school!), and foolishly I assumed the folks in the North Star State might be a bit reserved and not highly responsive as an audience. Oh, was I ever off base in that assumption. They are my new favorite people on planet earth. The whole planet. Truly. (With the exception of my other favorite people.)

The adventure started with my side-kick, Nancy, and myself trying to check-in to the wrong hotel. That was fun. They had the same name…. kind of… with the exception of several words. But still. I wasn’t totally out to lunch. Two words were the same! CANAL PARK. Bam. I’m not completely losing it. (yet.)

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Upon arriving at the correct hotel, __________  __________ Canal Park, I went inside to check in while our chauffeur helped unload our bags onto the luggage cart… on their wheels. Not the smartest move in the Midwest. My side-kick then proceeded to drive the cart with the rolly suitcases to the very far away ramp that led to the front door where I was impatiently waiting. Behind a large hedge out of my view, it seems the suitcases rolled right off the cart. Each suitcase, by the way, weighed 50 lbs. on the dot. It took her FOREVER to reload!

When the cart eventually arrived at the double doors, I set down my very heavy bag of water bottles and Coke Zero to aid Nancy with maneuvering the cart through the doors. Thankfully there was a stranger among us who saved the very heavy bag of beverages from being run over by the cart when we eventually got it through the doors.

Whew. The elevator ride was painless. The walk down the hall to our room was not. Half way between rooms 320 and 352, the very heavy drink bag became too heavy for me. Without any warning at all, I set it down and announced that I was indeed done carrying it. Sweet little Nancy, the ever-loving problem solver, replied, “Here, I’ll move my computer bag from this hook and we’ll hang it up there.”

Sounds all easy peasy, but no. Nancy is not tall. I knew I couldn’t lift the bag up to the 5’6″ hook, and I am nine inches taller than Nancy. But she had this solution stuck in her head as she grabbed the very heavy bag and proceeded to lift it up to 5’0″ and there it froze in mid-air at the end of her arm reach. We both burst out laughing. The bag once again landed on the floor.

While we were trying to recover from hysterics, a family began emerging from the room we were right in front of. Of course they did. Immediately we both bent down to pick up the beverage bag and scoot out of the way, but we slammed our foreheads together and the laughter erupted to an even greater magnitude than the short little arm display. Perfect. The strangers moved around us because it was obvious that we were crazy and incoherent and not moving and quite possibly recent escapees from an insane asylum.

And the MACHE conference only got better from there! Imagine the joy and laughter!

Throw Back Thursday

April 21, 2016

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If there is one picture of the Crosby family that sings “Homeschoolers R Us” … THIS IS IT!

The whole set up makes me laugh. I believe this was 2002 or 2003, back when I only had three kids. The electricity was out in our neighborhood, so we all climbed into my daughter’s bed to stay warm and to read Julie of the Wolves. You can imagine how cold it was in Phoenix, Arizona! FREEZING! (I still cannot believe that I lived for three years in Fort Vermilion, Alberta, Canada. Look it up!) To top off the homeschoolish vibe, we are all still donning our jammies. Perfection! This is what all the neighbors think we do every day… and we finally did it!

The climax of the picture for me is my nine-year-old son, Austin, KNITTING! Just brings a smile to my mama-of-boys face. Larisa and I decided it was necessary to our existence to learn how to knit. So we did what every good homeschooler in the early 2000’s did, we went to the library and checked out a book on knitting for dummies. That was so yesterday. Today we google it.

We found a book with good instructional pictures and we were off and running with needles clicking away. Then Austin decided since he played hockey, he should be able to knit his own toque. (That’s a ski hat in Canadian language.) He was a quick study with needle crafts as he is quite talented with anything having to do with his hands. A true hands-on learner! Made this mama proud, my son creating clothing for himself for chilling times to come.

My favorite part of his knitting adventure was when he asked if he could bring his knitting TO THE AIRPORT when we were going to pick up his father. “Oh sure, honey! You bet you can!” was my sinister reply because I knew this would make my manly-hockey-playing-hair-on-his-chest husband cringe.

It worked. (Nerds R Us!)

From the beginning of time, by that I mean 1993 when I bore my first child, I decided that my kids would all learn to take care of themselves whether it be in a household, the forest wilderness or when a flat tire introduces an opportunity to grow! Never in my planning-ahead mind did I add knitting to the list, but I see now that I should have had broader horizons for my sons. This homeschool thing is a learning game for ALL of us!

The Year of Figgy Pudding

April 16, 2016

In our family, Christmas cooking was territory mainly reserved for the women. Only those of the manly persuasion who bore confidence beyond the garage would dare to enter the hallowed kitchen at holiday time. My Dad was one such warrior.

As a five year old I remember being impressed that my Dad knew how to make popcorn. This was before hot-air poppers and microwave popcorn… real men used oil, kernels, a pot and a stick of butter. Dad also made Sunday morning breakfast to entice us to get out of bed and get ready for church. Every Sunday we were awakened by him yelling up the stairwell, “Breakfast is now being served in the dining car.” This wasn’t donuts from a box or a choice of Rice Krispies, Cheerios or Trix. Dad perfected Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes, Jimmy Dean sausage and scrambled eggs with tiny pieces of bacon mixed in. We knew Dad could handle himself in the kitchen… at least before 9:00 a.m.

It was a surprise to us, however, when Dad decided one holiday that we were going to have figgy pudding… whether we wanted to or not. I think it was so we could sing with meaning, “Now bring us some figgy pudding. Now bring us some figgy pudding. Now bring us some figgy pudding and bring is right here.” Dad had never contributed to the Christmas dessert smorgasbord with the exception of holding the title Chief Taster of Pumpkin Pie. In fact, figgy pudding had never made the holiday menu at our house. Dad figured that we didn’t know what we were missing, and it was time to find out.

figgy pudding

Mid-December, Dad searched the web for figgy pudding recipes finally selecting one that contained a few short cuts. There would be no removal of stems from a pound of dried figs at our house. Instead there would be the sound of cellophane being removed from the Fig Newton cookies. The recipe called for a special glass bowl with a plastic seal-able lid. The week before Christmas while most shoppers were gathering last minute gifts, my father was locating and purchasing the exclusive figgy pudding bowl.

Christmas morning was filled with the traditional stocking opening and cinnamon buns. Shortly after the socks were emptied Dad slipped into the kitchen to start preparing his wonder dessert. As the heavenly aroma of molasses, buttermilk and cinnamon filled the air we began singing, “We won’t go until we get some. We won’t go until we get some. We won’t go until we get some, so bring it right here.” Even with short cuts, it was one of those all-day recipes that had the chef glued to the clock most of the day. Personally, I was salivating by the time dessert rolled around, but my three kids were highly unimpressed with the brown goop that Grandpa had concocted.

The final step before we could indulge in the brown delicacy was the beating of the whipped cream to top off the figgy pudding. As Dad jostled the electric hand mixer, our children began pleading to be excused from Grandpa’s figgy pudding. No way. Everyone at the table would be partaking. It was sort of a bloodline requirement.

Much to our amusement, the hand mixer died mid-whip. Smoke escaped from the slits above the power cord and there were no stiff peaks in sight. If the figgy pudding killed the mixer, what will it do to us? We all wondered in silence. The mixer was thrown in the garbage yet the mission continued.

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Not to be defeated, Dad put away the dessert plates and retrieved bowls from the cupboard. He scooped the brown chunky, air-pocketed glop and topped each mound with runny, half-beaten whipped cream and served them with glee.

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My children are usually quite fearless when trying new delicacies, but I don’t think Grandpa’s figgy pudding was a contender in that category. In turn, each one took a bite and made the most contorted facial expression possible while trying to swallow without chewing. We laughed until tears dripped off our cheeks into the soupy bowls before us.

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My husband, who has a stomach of steel, did finish his serving but profusely refused a second helping… over and over again. My mother wasn’t able to stomach her entire bowl of brown goodness, but smiled sweetly as always. Dad and I were the only ones who LOVED the stuff. We were secretly glad that no one else liked it, all the more for us. For the next five days Dad and I sang together with gusto, “Now bring us some figgy pudding and bring it right here,” as we enjoyed his extraordinary holiday dessert.

Thanks, Dad, for that happy Christmas memory!

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