Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1 Miss D, what is a canta lupe?

As the kids pile into my classroom, they noisily take their seats. The bell rings and my name suddenly changes to MEEZ.
"Damond, get your book out." "Cheri, stop writing your boyfriend's name on your arm in marker." "Gaven, please don't hit Candy." "Ramon, stop calling D'Andre 'gay' in Spanish."

Yes, I am teaching summer school. While the rest of my colleagues are lounging by the pool, I am molding the minds of America's youth. . . the ones that couldn't make it through the year with a 70 average. I truly love my kids and I am a firm believer that when your kids know you love them, they are more inclined to like you too! So, I am pretty sure the feeling is mutual. My kids know that I will "go to bat for them" and that I care! I care. . . a lot of these kids have only a handful of people in their lives that really care. I would say that half of the kids are in summer school based on laziness. They can do the work and are smart but just didn't do their homework THE WHOLE YEAR or in the case of the few Memorial Middle school kids, decided that projects did not apply to them! It makes me sad that they are having to waste their break in summer school when they really don't need to be here. BUT, hopefully one summer will make them never want to come back! The other half of the kids literally are grades behind. They have severe gaps in their learning and it would take a miracle for them to catch up. Each of these students have a different story. Growing up in Mexico, not going to school while living in El Salvador, not really knowing how to read and write in Spanish or English, and the list goes on. These are the kids who really need my attention! Although we are in summer school, we manage to have fun while learning! I have attached two DESCRIPTIVE stories, we wrote as a class. There are only one or two girls in each class which attests to the graphic nature of the stories! Hey, if they are learning how to make a descriptive sentence using sensory words, I don't really care what the topic is! After reading these, you can imagine how much fun the boys had trying to "outdo" the other class with the 'grossest' story!

The Cockroach

The girl screamed as the cockroach emerged from her mouth.
Horrified, she realized the cockroach had been in her mashed potatoes.
She feels the antennas as they flick her lips.
The girl spits the cockroach out and tastes bile as it gushes out of her mouth.
The smell of vomit reaches her nose and she throws up again.
As she is gaining her composure, she sees the cockroach waving its antennas mockingly at her. Then it turns and runs away.
By Miss Dalton’s 1st period class

The Foot Fungus Incident

Shocked, the boy looked at his white, cracked-open feet.
Foot fungus had overtaken them.
Green puss oozed from the cracks between his toes.
He looked out into the ocean where all his friends were splashing in the salt water.
He slowly stepped onto the beach.
As the sand scraped into the cracks in his feet, he screamed with pain and ran to the water for relief.
He dove into the water, and he came back up like a blasting firework.
Looking like Fat Albert, he waddled out of the ocean not wanting to put weight on either foot.
As he collapsed on a beach chair, all he could think about was removing the salt water from his cracked feet. Disgusted by the skin peeling off between his toes, he realized there was only one way to remove the painful salt water. Slowly he leaned down and started licking the salt water off his fungus-covered toes.
By Miss Dalton’s 4th period class

Sadly, I have heard from one student, "I really have nothing better to do over the summer." Some of these kids are so lost. Teaching middle school for 3 years has taught me that MANY kids that age are lost. They are staring at "two roads [that] diverged in a yellow wood." Kids make life changing decisions in middle school especially who their friends are. The world and Satan are doing everything they can to capture these kid's attention. To give you an example of the reality of this, there are two pregnant kids in summer school. Yes, KIDS. Some of the girls come to school and you wonder, "Did your mother see you before you left?" SOOO many of the girls put all their worth into attracting guy's attention. In a story we are reading aloud as a class, one of the main character's parents just got divorced and she is waiting for her dad to come and get her. (Remember, reading comprehension is NOT a strong point for these kids.) I put my book down and asked the class, "What do you think is going to happen." Like a chorus, the ENTIRE class said, her dad isn't going to come get her. I said, "Why do you think that?" More than one kid piped up that all dad's break promises and disappear. That literally broke my heart. These kids need Jesus! God is the Father who will NEVER disappears and NEVER break a promise.

These past two weeks have made me think why these kids are at this point in their lives. Why are cuss words a permanent part of their vocabulary? Why do ALL of my kids know the difference between red and blue (and I am not talking about in the crayon box)? Where do they get that hard and defiant look in their eyes? Why do they not care about their future?

I believe it all points back to their parents and their environment. In thinking about that, it made me reflect on my childhood and my middle school years. My parents instilled in us the value of our relationship with Jesus and becoming involved in our church. We went to Beach Retreat and Kanakuk which only furthered our walk with the Lord. My mom was at the school in 5 minutes if I ever needed her. One particular instance comes to mind when she DEMANDED that the paramedics take me to Texas Children's instead of Memorial City after a fall from a cheerleading pyramid. My parents were so involved in our lives! Dates with my dad were always so special! It was fun to hang out with him when it was JUST us! They also pushed us to do our best in school and have a love for learning! I remember my mom reading the first chapter of 'Tuck Everlasting' to me when I thought it was boring. Well after hearing HER read it, I took it away and fled to my room, anxious to finish the book and find out what happened . . . needless to say, that is one of my favorite books of all time! In reflecting. . .

My mother made us learn Bible verses ever since we were little kids.
My mom made us have learning time and quiet time when we were little EVERY day in the summer. We had to sit on our beds and read before nap time.
My mom and dad made us have FAMILY time and play games together.
My parents still have traditions at Christmas time like my dad reading The Christmas Story, me reading "Joseph, I had a dream", etc. (Don't worry, Nate has a part in the tradition too now!)
They wouldn't let me go over to a friends house until they had met the parents.
We always ate dinner as a family, even if it meant eating at Luby's at 4:00 so Parker and Clark could make it to their baseball game on time.
My parents always needed to know where I was.
They always wanted to know who I was hanging out with.
My parents sacrificed so they could send us to Kanakuk every year.
They gave us a curfew.
We were taught to love each other and got in MAJOR trouble if we didn't stick up for each other!
Family values were taught.
When I was grounded, there were no exceptions. Not even a friend's birthday party.
I was spanked when I was little.
Parker, Clark and I weren't allowed to fight.
Mom was always there when we got home from school, ready to hear about our day.
We went to church every Sunday.
They told us that their love was like Christ's. . . unconditional.
We had to give 10 percent of our allowance to the church and 10 percent to our piggy bank!
My parents demanded respect.
They disciplined us, held us accountable, and taught us right from wrong.

With all of that said, one word comes to mind. . . BLESSED!
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

1 Play Ball


This word means so much to me! I love driving to the field and anticipating what kind of game I will be watching! Will it be a "track meet" or will it be a nail biter? (literally) . . .

I used to live next door to Second Baptist's baseball fields. My favorite thing to wake up to in the spring was the sound of batting practice!

Where did "the love of the game" start? Well, after being dragged to one million baseball games for my brothers over the years I came to love the sport. I learned how to keep score and to this day truly enjoy doing it! Keeping score is almost like a challenge to me. . . will the scoreboard agree with my judgement on the play? Will I know how to score all plays on the field? Sitting next to my dad all those years taught me quite a bit and I rarely make a mistake! :-)

Baseball has taken me all over the US! From the Bronco World Series in California to Spring Training for the Dodgers in Florida, most of our traveling was due to baseball. Baseball also forged incredible relationships and friends. . . sadly, baseball has ended for most of Parker and Clark's former teammates. . . the older you get, the fewer the players left in the journey towards the "big leagues." God has also taken away some of our baseball friends which makes us just trust in him, trying not to question why. . .

It is even through baseball that I met my man! God's perfect timing led me to a cute Aggie at the Minute Maid Classic!

I have so many fond memories of the game. . .

  • I remember Parker and Clark in their little baseball uniforms heading off to tee ball practice.
  • I remember the Twins with both sets of twins on the team.
  • I remember Mom and I walking up and down the streets in Monterrey eating and stopping in restaurants for a soda. . . just doing whatever we wanted while the boys practiced!
  • I remember when Parker was warming up to go in and pitch and broke Dad’s nose.
  • I remember eating at Luby's at 4:00 before a baseball game JUST so we could eat dinner as a FAMILY!
  • I remember Parker and Clark's senior year when they played second and short. . . "Dalton to Dalton for the double play!"
  • I remember when Parker signed with A&M and we all went to the MHS library to make it official.
  • I remember Mom and Dad letting me go to LSU to see Baylor play at the Super Regionals!
  • I remember going to the College World Series with Clark and sharing a suite because that was the last room left in the hotel! What an incredible time with my bro!!
  • I remember driving 24 hours (it sure felt like it) to go see Parker (the Mayor) in Mineral Wells. Clark and I kept asking how much longer because we were DYING!
  • I remember sitting next to Mom at ALL the A&M games talking about a million different things while trying to keep up with the game! One of my most favorite memories in baseball!
  • I remember when Dad texted me in the fall, “Call me,” and then learned that Parker had cancer.
  • I remember learning that Parker was cancer free.
  • I remember watching Parker have the best season of his life after defeating cancer.
  • I remember when Parker got Big 12 Sportsman of the Year and the following fall got in a fight that cleared both benches.
  • I remember watching Thebeau throw a 9 inning game to pull A&M to a regional win.
  • I remember watching the draft religiously and not believing my eyes when I saw Parker Dalton - Dodgers.
  • I remember going to my first Spring Training and seeing Parker make a triple play.

Baseball will come to an end at some point for our family. The day will come when Parker will either get released or pass the baseball down the bench with "For Love of the Game" written on it. But it has been an incredible journey while it has lasted. . . The Lord has provided some kind of adventures! I am just thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a fan of this American pastime!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1 My Gigi

My grandmother chose to be called G.G. (after Grandmother Goodman) and I adapted that to Gigi! She has been an integral part of my life and we are two peas in a pod! She is 88 years young and acts like a 21 year old. . . minus the binge drinking! Gigi is a social butterfly and you have to make plans with her WAY in advance or she will be booked with parties, bridge, plays, movies, trips, etc. A perfect story about Gigi is one she told at lunch on Sunday. The fire alarm went off in her condominium and the building turned the elevator off. Well, Gigi was hosting a party at Cafe Annie, the flowers were in the car, and she needed to get to the restaurant! So, Gigi walked down the 5 flights of stairs so she could make it to her party on time! That is VERY Gigi! She has helped make me the person I am today. From the Junior League to culture, nice restaurants and trips all over the world, I am forever indebted to her. To sum up Gigi's personality. . . today, we spent most of our time together discussing her 90th birthday party!
I went to lunch with her today at "our place" (Barnaby's)! After she received her massive hamburger and fries, she turned to me and said that Pops would have been 95 on Sunday. Pops was my grandfather . . . not by blood but by everything else! We talked about how he was planning a trip (at 89) for him and me to go to Antarctica because that was the one continent he had never been to. We remembered how he used to slip the grand kids 20 dollar bills under the table! It was good to talk about what an impact he had on both of our lives and relive some of our fondest memories of him!
I dropped Gigi off with a date set for us to go to tea at the St. Regis! (one of the reasons we are so alike!)
In looking back over our lunch, it amazes me how much one person has effected my life in such a positive way! As I told her today, she has aged gracefully and with vim and vigor! I only pray that I can be half the person she is when I am 88!
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