Merry Christmas

Today is Christmas for my husband’s family, who are Serbian Orthodox.  We went to our regular violin and swim lessons, then headed over to the inlaws’ for family dinner.

At violin, the kids changed around which pieces they are doing for Federation.  We decided not to do a duet, since they are already doing theory tests and solos.  I don’t want to overwhelm them and make it miserable, especially since we have a pretty full schedule the next few months.  So to clarify, O7 will be playing May Song as her required piece and a fiddle version of Camptown Races as her choice.  S8 will be playing Andantino for her required piece and Skip to My Lou, another fiddle tune, as her choice.

At swim lessons, the girls tried out the new shorty flippers and swim goggles they got for Christmas (the December one).  The shorty flippers look like this:

Water Gear short training swim fins

 

My sister got them the goggles, which they love.  S8 is also down with the fins, but O7’s not too sure about those.  She says they make her legs tired.  (That’s kind of the point.)  Julie had her swim a 25 with them on anyway.  It was good for her.

At my inlaws’ house later, the kids and their cousins took turns reading out loud about the shepherds hanging outside the stable where baby Jesus was.  The shepherds had burned logs to keep warm (since it was a cold winter’s night, natch).  In the Serbian Orthodox tradition, burning the Yule log is considered lucky.  FIL had some dry branches for the kids to toss into the woodburner in a little ceremony that I’m pretty sure he improvised for the occasion.  He had them each say something toast-like (“for a happy new year!” or “for good luck!”) as they threw in their sticks.  The sticks crackled and flared in the fire, thanks to the very dry leaves on each one.  It was fun for them and a neat way to celebrate.

 

Holiday Baking

I think it’s important for the kids to be confident (and competent) in the kitchen. They often help with baking and cooking, and love to make cookies. Here is a sampling of some of our Christmas baking. I don’t take pictures during the actual measuring/cooking/baking process, out of fear of what might happen to the camera… but the girls do help make the dough in addition to the decorating and tasting portions (which are a little more camera-friendly!)

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Shortbread cookies

 
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Arms Family Museum

Today my sister-in-law and I took the kids to the Arms Family Museum. This is an historic house on Wick Avenue in Youngstown. It was given to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society to preserve local history and artifacts about the origins of the Mahoning Valley.

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This time of year, the house is decorated with elaborate holiday trimmings and many of the regular house exhibits are not visible. But on the second floor, the hands-on history museum is still open, and the kids got to do a “scavenger hunt” leading them through the history of the valley. They learned about how the land was settled, who the prominent people were of the time, and saw how and why many immigrants chose to come here.

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My SIL took S8 and I took O6, and we helped them with the scavenger hunt. It was really interesting.  She and I both learned a lot right along with the kids.

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Afterwards, we went to the basement where there are children’s exhibits set up. Old fashioned toys, coloring pages, craft supplies, and art materials are available for the kids to explore.

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We are definitely planning to come back again after the holidays to get another look at the museum and play in the basement.

In the evening, the kids went to gymnastics for their hour-long weekly class.

Holiday Concert with YSO

Today was the kids’ big day- they performed a Christmas piece with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra during the annual Holiday Pops concert. It was a real experience for them. Public performance aside, having a chance to play with a big symphony and under a renowned conductor was just amazing.

In the early afternoon, they went to a run-through (read: dress) rehearsal at the concert hall. It went very well, and helped them get out any butterflies they might have before the big night.

Here they are, tuning with Miss Tina and some of the other musicians in the green room, before the run-through:

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Backstage, waiting to go on:

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The group as they will look tonight:

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Grandma and Grandpa came to see the rehearsal, along with Dad and Uncle Eric.

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After rehearsal, we went home to get some supper and change clothes. Our friend from Italy, Michele, was in town, and he joined us for dinner and then came to the show.

Here are some of the ladies with Miss Tina, ready to go on stage:

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The group:

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The concert was a great success. After our kids performed “Stompin’ On The Housetop”, Mr. Fleischer (the YSO conductor) commented to the audience that all the YSO musicians were just like the kids once. Everyone starts somewhere.

Joy Cone Factory Tour

Today we toured the Joy Cone Factory. Joy Cone is the largest ice cream cone manufacturer in the world. They make about 75% of the cones on the market today.

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Not only did they kids get to see how ice cream cones are made, they each got a box to take home!

On the way home, we stopped at Kraynak’s, which is a nursery and gift shop. They also happen to have an impressive Christmas and Easter display each year. We got to see the Christmas display and picked out some new lights for our tree.

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O6 was particularly excited to see the snow leopards, which are her favorites.

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Of course, later that evening, we had some ice cream in our cones.

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