January looked like this…

Rockin' Rum Rolls!
Rockin’ Rum Rolls!

The year two thousand and fifteen started off extremely well with Mr. Garner’s Rockin’ Rum Rolls for breakfast! They are actually called Rum-Glazed Coffee Rolls, but re-named by #1 Son, this gooey, rum, coffee, brown sugar and pecan-laden breakfast treat courtesy of a 1996 Southern Living Christmas cookbook has been a Christmas morning family tradition for years.  This past Christmas we ran out of time; one of the disadvantages of older children who (finally) want to sleep in (a little) on Christmas!  They slept in on New Year’s as well, but there was little else on the agenda, so we had a leisurely brunch-ish sort of morning.  Far  Flung Brother and Papa Gene joined us later in the day for football and chili.

Is it just me, or does the transition between December and January sort of smush together? Maybe because we were all home having a great time together with no work, no school, no external obligations, the lines that separate December from January on the calendar just sort of fade away. Other than getting food on the table, and cleaning the most egregious messes, I didn’t have a whole lot that I had to do.  It was wonderful!  There was plenty of guilt-free time to read, go for walks, see the Thomas Cole exhibit, catch up on Blue Bloods. The kids played board games with Mr. Garner; they did some cooking, we had leftovers in the freezer.  The livin’ was easy.

My Far Flung Brother gave all of us cookbooks for Christmas.  He did this last year too! We spent a week or two with them piled on the kitchen table looking at recipes.  Everyone found a few things that they wanted to try.  #1 Son wanted to make sushi, and he did.  The Daughter wanted to make eggrolls, and she did. Way fun!  I’m egregiously practical and would never have attempted either one of those.  I love that my kids see possibilities where I don’t. Both of their cooking projects were devoured in record time!

The Daughter and I got back to school fairly quickly.  Both co-ops started up the first full week of January, so my slow, smushy turn of the year ended on January 4th as I scrambled to put the finishing touches on our Term 2 Schedules and our Daily Checklist.  During The Daughter’s co-op classes, #1 Son and I did some back to college prep and had lunch. The following week,  he was ready to head back to GMU.  His departure decidedly marks the end of the holiday, with a solid date, and a solid time when he loads up, waves goodbye and his car turns the corner out of sight…and with that our routine truly settles into pre-holiday rhythms.

The Norfolk Public Library finished the renovations to their downtown Slover Library, so Far Flung Brother and I went to check it out.  Lots of glass, lots of orange carpet, lots of Apple Corp tech, big children’s section, a floor devoted to teens with desks and game rooms… Books seem to have been a minor consideration. The previous (City of Norfolk) downtown library branch used to validate parking tickets from the (City of Norfolk operated) parking garages, but not anymore. Seriously, a main public library branch with no free parking.  As Mr. Garner says, “Welcome to Norfolk.” 

All of The Daughter’s pre-holiday cleaning, and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Week volunteering resulted in a service star and a badge both of which were presented to her at the American Heritage Girl January Court of Awards.

In mid-January, Young Musicians of Virginia hosted a Dinner and Variety Show as a fundraiser for the Spring Trip.  Mr. Garner and I had not yet determined our level of participation when The Daughter surprised us by auditioning for the show.  I never fail to be impressed by her fearless attitude.  To our delight, her audition was successful, which in turn required our participation. We purchased tickets, we ate spaghetti (pretty tasty, actually) and sat down to endure a variety show.  I say endure, because as older parents we have attended 14 years of recitals,  10 years of private school “talent shows,” plays and programs, 2 years of public high school concerts, and 4 years of homeschool co-op “talent shows,” plays, and “Open House” programs. Our expectations have been set by these experiences. The YMV Variety Show exceeded our expectations in every way, and not only because The Daughter played an arrangement of Rosemary’s Song from The Giver, flawlessly!

Our walks on the beach are colder, with a different sort of beauty.  We usually walk in the afternoon when the angle of the winter sun casts a golden glow on everything.  As the sun slides lower in the sky, the horizon softens, the clouds seem to sink into the sea, smudging the defining lines of sky, cloud, and sea into one soft, pearlescent canvas of coral, pink and lavender.  A dog, unleashed, frisky with freedom, races down the beach, ignoring me completely in the heady joy of the run.  In the corner of my eye, I catch something small wheeling in the wind towards me along the high tide mark of the beach.  As it nears, I see that it is a white downy feather, gently curled, light enough to be pushed by the wind, but with enough spine to roll.  I turn my back to the wind and watch it continue unobstructed until it’s out of sight.

It snowed!

A few photos:





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