Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tired and Ill-prepared...

There are pictures of Thanksgiving coming, and musings on the first 3 months of marriage... but teaching's been so crazy this week, what with grades due and more in it... so they're still coming...not here yet. Bear with me!

Teaching is, well... I love it. The 5th-6th graders are my pride and joy. The 7th and 8th graders teach me lots. And preschool is always wonderful. =D But right now I don't like teaching so much. See, we have our Christmas Concert tomorrow. ... the dress rehearsal tonight was a disaster. It wasn't my kids or me, really, but the fact that the younger kids took three times as long as expected to get their act together. (it's a school-wide concert) So all we had time to do was rehearse seating, exiting/entering, do a few brief sound checks, and a lot of waiting... So we're meeting 30 minutes before the concert tomorrow night. sigh.

In many ways, I feel "out of the loop"... which is bad because I'm partly in charge!! But I just haven't been on top of people like I should have. I forget that these are high and middle-school kids, not Furman students. They can't "pick stuff up" at the last minute: they have to be patiently, LONG-TERM taught. It doesn't help that I woke up sick yet again, and that my temperature rose all day as I was on my feet. Eventually the Aspirin kicked in and brought the fever and pain down, but all I wanted to do the whole day was go to bed. The Lord gave me grace. PLEASE Pray He gets glory somehow tomorrow night, no matter how we sound or what we do/don't do... :(

One more thing that the Holy Spirit pressed on my heart this week was "Don't you want your kids to leave your class feeling that God was the most Real Thing they learned about?" And I do!! I want my preschoolers to go on to kindergarden slightly more ready to listen, read, and of course sing, than the next kid, but more importantly, I want them to pick up on a passion for God!! I want the Bible to be so real to them; nearness to Jesus to be their life's goal! Basically, I want to see my 4-year olds set to grow up into vibrant, passionate, tender, Christians. I want the Jesus of Christmas and the God of Samson to grab their little hearts, so full already of "stinky sin." I want prayer to be seen as so natural, thanksgiving to be an expected second nature, and self-control much easier for them than it is for me! So I've begun to pray for that kind of Spirit as I teach-- for the energy to make these stories come alive, and a heart that is genuinely stirred by them! The wonder on their faces as we talked of God the Son - Jesus- coming to earth to grow up and die for our stinky sin, so that we can run with God again, like Adam & Eve did made me think that God is answering that prayer in some measure.

All you prayer warriors, please pray that I will flee a lazy heart when it comes to teaching-- that I will try my best and love the children God has given me (even the 6th grader who marked his homework paper "Mom, please just sign off on this; I don't really care about it") with all my heart. I need to be so much more organized and understanding than I am!

Going to bed... oh, that sounds so wonderful...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Presley Thanksgiving

I can't tell you how much Ryan & I enjoyed our first holiday as a married couple... The break was quite anticipated, especially for me, with my first concert coming up, grades due, and the accumulated stresses of 3 months of teaching without a break. Not that Ryan wasn't glad to not have to go to work, either... We both were pumped about seeing our family (3 months is a long time to go without seeing someone!)

Hehe... proof that not much has changed since marriage... :)

So, what does a Szrama road trip look like? Pretty much like a dating Ryan & Christina road trip did. (Except now we kiss at red lights and talk about anything and everything.) Wednesday we loaded Max up, and drove down through rain to Atlanta, GA. It rained all the way there, and then all the way back, lol. I packed us some munchies, and enough gluten-free food to last me the week (not that I ended up needing it; Ryan's Mom took care of me!). Where we are, books must be, so we listened to "The Grey King" on Audio Book, which won a Newberry Award-- in our opinion, it was a good story, but not necessarily worthy of such an award. It was fun to hear all the Welsh and Irish legends, though! By the return trip, my voice had healed enough for me to read Children of Hurin aloud... we love and hate that book!! More love than hate of course, but it's so sad!!! All our favorite characters keep dying, or doing impetuous things that end up killing other people or themselves! We have one more chapter to go, and we're "saving" it. =D Any suggestions on what to read aloud next?

..more to come...

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Presley Thanksgiving, Part the Fourth: Battle of the Sexes

We brought down several games to play over the break, including this one of our wedding gifts from Kristin & Brent Cunningham. Boys play against the girls, with girls answering questions guys would likely know (sports, tools, car innerworkings, etc.), and vice versa. The results are often quite hilarious... and by the way, girls won. =D

They look stumped to me!

Grandma & Aunt Karen, wondering if the guys will know what can be 'cultured, salt, or fresh.' NOT yogurt, as one Uncle (*cough * Jeff) thought. The answer is "pearls," as the senior male team member knew.

They definitely had the cute guy on their team, though... :)

Kelly posing a q.

The Patriarch

A Presley Thanksgiving, Part the Third: A Little Early Christmas Cheer

The first two up-- more to come ...

A Presley Thanksgiving, Part the Second: Stone Mountain

To walk off the Thanksgiving Meal, and to enjoy the brisk holiday air, the whole crew headed up to Stone Mountain. This park not only features the largest relief carving in the world, but is also home to a huge Christmas Show, including a 4-D abridged version of the movie The Polar Express, English-style Carolers, a Sing-Along Train around the mountain, a laser show, and lots of lights, which opened-- would you guess?-- Thanksgiving day! We were right there to enjoy it!

Can you tell we were cold!? :)

My new little sister, all bundled up.
Huddled under a blanket, Ryan & his Mom work out where we are... (notice the beautiful lights behind them!)

More than just a little windy...

So... we all got hats!! Thank you, Dad!
The granddaughters, in our "shivering" pose
I didn't have a hood, and neither did Kasey or Courtney. SO as we passed one of the many mercantiles, the fuzzy hats caught one of their eyes, and someone convinced a kindhearted dad to buy them... the next thing I knew, my father-in-law was asking me, "do you want one, too?" And with a grin I couldn't repress, I said, rather sheepishly, "yes..." And that was that! Let me just say I still absolutely LOVE this hat, and have since worn it, with many compliments, and comments such as "well... you sure are in the Christmas spirit, aren't you!?" Suits me quite nicely.

Ryan, eating ICE CREAM, of all things!! as I was warming myself with a HOT drink!

While we waited for the train to come, Courtney & I started joking around. I, being quite cold, started jumping up and down, and asking "how much longer 'til it comes!?" She asked me if I could hear the train coming. Spoofing off movie we'd just seen, I started shouting "I believe, I believe!" And she joined right in, to the astonishment of our family, as well as onlookers. We cracked up right as the train pulled up, and Grandma quipped "I want whatever she's got in her cup!"

Grandpa & Grandma on the Sing-Along Train-- which presented the Christmas Story! That's when I remember that so much Christian heritage IS intact in the Bible belt, and that it isn't a bad thing at all!

Classic moments of the trip took place on this train, y'all, mostly involving Ryan's step-dad... such as when he walked on the train, proclaiming, "I am looking for a woman who needs a man--" the laughter and responses drowned out the last part of his sentance-- "to sit beside her." (he was looking for his wife, Ryan's Mom). One lady called out "are ya rich!?" At his answer, "I have four kids, and three are through with college," someone else shouted out "HAH! Then you're broke!"

During the 12 days of Christmas, he & Nathan instructed me in the "12 redneck days of Christmas..." Aye, aye, aye!

Let's just say we had a LOT of fun!!
Still more to come, but off to bed for now...

A Presley Thanksgiving, Part the First: Thanksgiving Dinner

The menfolk, setting up the table (under womanly direction, of course)

Socializing before the Big Meal-- that's Kasey, the youngest of the Presley clan, stretched out across one couch-- and yes, Ryan IS using a Mac.

Dad, Carving the Turkey

The heavily-laden table, ready to go.

The Kitchen-ward side of the Family Table: Mom, Dad, & Kendi (Greg's girlfriend)

Those actually in the Dining Room: Greg (Ryan's oldest brother), Grandpa, Grandma, Courtney, Kelly, Kasey, Aunt Karen, Uncle Jeff, & Nathan (Ryan's younger brother)

And, the new couple!! :) One of the "Thank-yous" from around the table was that this year, there were 14 settings, instead of the 12 there have been for so long. :) Another, from Ryan's step-dad, was "that we all get along so well." And that was SO true! Ryan said he was glad for "4 Szramas this year." Grandma's summed up the biggest blessing: "all 14 of us know and love the Lord Jesus Christ." What a tremendous blessing!!

This must be pretty common, because Kendi looks pretty nonchalant about it... :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Celebration at Dorothy Sayers

On the last day before Thanksgiving Break, Dorothy Sayers' Lower School was overrun with small Pilgrims, and miniature Native Americans of no recognizable tribe! The kids LOVED the break from their uniforms, and I enjoyed having parents come in to lend their hands with special messy crafts (like squirrel feeders!-- I gathered the pinecones myself!), and reading stories about the first Thanksgiving. I had no idea how much Providence is evident the deeper you go into it. Look up, for instance, how Squanto came to speak English and be in a position to help the Pilgrims, and what his reaction was to the tragedies that befell him...

Since the hallway lighting is better than our windowless classroom's, I rounded the gang up and set them out there. Here is Tuesday's class:

It's so hard to get them all looking at once!! But it hardly matters; they're so cute. :)

On Monday, I had only girls!

My Monday class-- as far as the head-dresses go, they really really wanted to paint, so I promised them we would-- why not paint Pilgrim hats!? They certainly weren't the drab and dreary kill-joys history books have caricatured them to be! Here are some of my girls all dressed up.

Taken during bathroom break (they read books quietly while they sit "criss-cross-applesauce" waiting their turns):
Those two are nigh unto inseperable!

These sweet, spunky little ones are cousins-- one of three sets of first cousins I have in my classes.

I love that look E. is shooting the camera!

Enjoy! I sure do. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome to the World, Noah!!

My best friend Valerie [Powell] just "brought forth her firstborn son,"
welcome, Noah Christopher!
Born at 5:24 PM, Tuesday November 20th 2007
9 lbs 4 ounces, (hehe you see now why they induced early!?)
21" long.

Proud Daddy Chris has already set up a blog for this little guy, go figure. Hannah's a big sister now!! Praise the Lord for His mercy and the wonder of new life!
~A very thankful "Aunt Christina"

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Mommy & Daddy Came to Visit

My parents drove up on Friday evening, and got to join in our Newly-Weds Bible Study fellowship night. They were entertained & impressed with the inventor of the Tweel and his lovely assistant. We talked and ate and generally had a great time. :) Then Saturday, Ryan took Dad out for breakfast at Frich's Big Boy, where both stuffed themselves and apparantly had a grand old time. It was nice for Ryan to take Dad out instead of the other way around like it always was when we were dating. Mom treated me to Starbucks and went shopping with me. We picked up stuff for our upstairs bathroom, and the house, and she got me some new teaching clothes! (I'm wearing them tomorrow, Mom!) We came home and ate and then Ryan & I headed off to celebrate a friend and his daughter's joint birthday, while Mom & Dad unloaded all the rest of my stuff that was at home (including the last of the wedding gifts, and my hope chest!), AND raked our leaves! They know how to work!! We had Hobo Casserole for supper per Ryan's request. Footage to be posted later!!

From my Mom...

Dad Driving Up
... notice the gorgeous foliage! As Sina's Dad Ed says, "Kentucky is God's country"

Sunday Lunch at the Shuey's. Morgan's giving someone a look- I think it was to me, concerning Ryan's insufferability...

Ryan & I in front of our first home :)

My Parents & Me. I miss them.

Thanks so much for coming up, Mom & Dad! I missed you all so badly today! Can't wait 'til Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hard to Concentrate

Home earlier on Mondays than I do on most days, and sometimes it's hard to motivate myself to start grading papers. Especially tonight, when my head hurts and I'd rather do something like... sleep. :) I caught some cold from one of my kiddos, I fear...

Anyway, Ryan & I heard this song at a friend's wedding, and he immediately pegged it as sounding like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. We got home and checked, and, yhup! Sure 'nuf, it was. It's been on our YouTube playlists ever since (Ryan's been on an 'All-American Rejects' kick lately, too... as long as it isn't the Cranberries, "Running through my head..." GRR!). So I thought I'd put a plug in for the song (it was written for another band member to use to propose to his fiancee), and also summarize my mood at the moment. :) The song is sweet to me especially as a newly-wed. As we're married longer & longer, I see that, as imperfect and fallen as we are, Ryan truly is "perfect" for me. And I am happy... two pictures that show it, I think.

"Finally, you have found something perfect, and
Finally, you have found... yourself."
( by the way: I think I really look like my Dad's Mom in this picture)

"All I want is for you to be happy, and
Take this moment to make you my family..."

So, yeah... I think I'm gonna put in Little Women and grade 7th-8th grade choir quizzes to that. Then I'll do a craft as a reward. :)
~Mrs. Szrama
PS- I've learned to make quite convincing mocha-like concoctions in my blender! They nip my Starbucks craving in the bud; no sugar added, and using rice milk, for about $.25 a pop instead of $4.24...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Yahoo! The Parkers got their Van

Our friends, Keith & Julie, have been in the adoption process for the past 2 years, and after waiting and waiting and then getting stuck for almost a month in Vietnam, they're on their way back across the Pacific with their youngest newest son Van in their arms! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

Check out their blog at:

Me 'n Lex

I snapped some 'fall shots' of Jeff & Christy King for their family Thanksgiving pics, and then Christy turned the camera on me. So here I am with Alexis, one of my preschool students. Isn't she precious!?
Well... off to proof-read some Latin quizzes, and then to grade papers until my Lovely comes home. We're going out to eat tonight, to Texas Roadhouse. Here in Kentuckiana,they're donating 10% of your meal's cost to the Children's Hospital Fund this week. A good cause, I think. I'm just excited to be going out. We haven't had a meal nice-out since our honeymoon. (hehe except Q'doba's on my birthday and Chickfil'a on whims) I've got such a hot date, too. :)


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Last Day in the Life of Pumpkin Szrama

I sliced and baked 'im until nice and soft on Friday, while I had the oven hot for other things. Then, I spent the afternoon on Saturday pureeing, mixing, stirring and popping pumpkin-y goodies in and out of ovens.

Pumpkin Muffins & Pie (both gluten-free!) risin'

Yumminess, cooling.
Yield: 30 chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins, 1 pumpkin pie, and one pumpkin-apple bake (which I made up on the spot), plus savory mashed pumpkin for dinner and another tray full to bake with butter and brown sugar. It was a big pumpkin.

So pretty...
You'll have to turn your head. My computer has outwitted me on this one.

Friendly Fall Table
I called Ashlea and she came for a study break, punctuated mostly by fresh, hot pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Pie Lovers
I can't take him anywhere... :)

The Art of Coffee-Brewing
Ashlea brought her new Turkish Coffee set. It went so well with the pie!

PS- this post has taken me SO long to finish... internet woes. And Ryan says this batch of muffins is the best I've made yet. I agree-- the secret, I think, is milled flaxseed. Maybe the fresh pumpkin, too. Or maybe it was the beater Ryan got for me at Target (we divided & conquered on our errands)... anyway the muffins are huge and wonderful!!! Come visit & we'll give you some!