What is your American dream? The American dream is interesting because it’s something people used to talk about but it’s not really brought up like it used to be. How have our dreams changed over time?
The American dream has been about many things for many people over our history; religious freedom, democracy, cultural freedom, safety, wealth, health, independence, etc. What do we need to have a dream? It is helpful to have a job or a means to earn what you are dreaming for. I think the most basic requirement of the American Dream is our freedom. Not all Americans feel their freedom because of personal obligations, burdens we bear, things we have done in the past that have cost some of our freedom. Not every American wants to dream. Is it still relevant to dream? Dreams are more powerful when they are shared. We are the only ones who can preserve the type of environment where the American Dream will survive in to the next generation. My mom and dad dreamed they would own a home and cars and raise a healthy family. This was a dream they have achieved, now that kids are married and out of the house they are dreaming about what the next stage in life could look like. My great-grandparents dreamed about moving to America to find work in a big city and raise a family. They achieved their dream by sharing it with lots of other immigrants and moving here with people who wanted something that looked different from their life in Ireland. I know a few people who have recently moved to America from other countries. I wonder what it was like when they learned they would be moving here. I wonder if they dreamed like people used to dream when my great grandparents moved here.
Here is my American Dream: I dream of a future where my child will dream a dream that will come true. I plan to share this dream with my friends and family and pray for this dream to come true. First we have to dream, then we have to share our dreams if we want them to come true.
I was intrigued by a documentary called “Waiting for Superman,” which is about education in the United States. Since grad school, I have been intrigued by solutions to the achievement gap. After teaching in a school where 80% of students are on the free lunch program, I have become more or less worried about the achievement gap problem. How are we – educators and government – supposed to solve the problem that vast majority of poverty kids don’t succeed at the same level as vast majority of wealthy kids in school. We’ve tried a lot of things: money pouring into education, additional nutrition provided, curriculum changes, optional summer school. Nothing is working! There is still a gap.
There are schools in poor neighborhoods where students who came in struggling have reached not only grade level but are above peer schools in wealthy neighborhoods. How did the school do it? Well, these kids, who have parents at home advocating for their child to succeed in school (who often start school as remedial in every subject, malnourished, have abuse issues, and deal with instability) are after two years at this school are above grade level. How did they do it? When I heard the solution it made sense to me. This school has a little different schedule than most schools. These kids go to school 9 hours per day, 5 days a week, and have school on Saturdays. They do not take the summer off; they have year round school. So, they get extra time to learn they need to catch up on, they get extra meals so they’re not hungry, and I bet they get their homework done and it’s correct.
When I heard about this solution to the achievement gap that has been tested now for over 4 years and is still working I had to ask myself, would I give up my summer and Saturdays to teach? I know how frustrating it is to work with students who are struggling and you know every day they are just going to continue to struggle. I always felt like I needed more time with them. As much as I love summer time off, I don’t like the stress of going back to work in the fall after such a long break. Yes I would give up summers and Saturdays. Not because I think I am a good teacher, but because I know that is what the students I’ve worked with needed.
The question now is: When should I go back? Well, not this year. I’ll keep subbing. But, if and when I do, I sure do hope that I get this opportunity to work in a school that has a solution to the achievement gap.
I have lived in Grand Junction for about four months. So far my favorite month was September because it was the warmest. January is cold but because we filled every bedroom with guests for about two weeks it has been my second favorite month. I have heard locals tell me that normally at this time of year it is about 10 degrees colder and there is more snow on the ground. I just realized this the other day: I have not felt a rain drop since October! Back where I come from rain comes almost every day nine months out of the year. Maybe when I prayed that God would provide a sunny place I should have mentioned that a little rain at least once a month would be preferred. I worry about our lawn, it’s not lookin’ so good. When the ground unfreezes we will be able to use our sprinkler system. Apparently if you live in a part of the world where the ground freezes, like Antarctica or Grand Junction, then you shouldn’t have water freeze in your pipes. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the spring and summer for many reasons, but one is warmer temperatures.
I’ve been wanting to show a couple of photos from our life so far here in Grand Junction. As this is my first time trying to do this, please let me know if you encounter any problems while looking at these pictures. Hope you can enjoy them!
In less than one week Travis and I are looking to be first-time home owners! Yes, we are excited. No, we don’t know exactly what we doing. So what if we don’t have furniture – people will being their own chairs to sit in, right? One major purchase we are seriously looking into is a TV. We do not own a TV. This way T can watch his precious Longhorns at home. The money we have been spending in bars should be enough to pay for a decent cable package or perhaps chairs.
No doubt there are many things I am looking forward to in home ownership, but I want to focus on what I am coming from being a renter for the past 10 or so years. So in David Letterman style, here are my top 10 things I will miss about renting vs. owning a home.
10. Dishing out $3.75 on a load of laundry
9. Hanging clothes in doorways when its time to iron
8. The bar stools at The Ale House where we watch TV
7. Parking my car outside
6. Going to the storage unit to look for ___________
5. Listening to upstairs neighbor walking around (like an elephant)
4. Writing a rent check
3. Waiting to use the potty because the only one is occupied
2. Meeting occasional out-of-town guests at the Marriott Hotel
And the number one thing I will miss about renting vs. owning a home…
1. Driving around wondering if we will be able to find a home to buy for our very own
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3-5-6
Do you ever think about how things are going and realize that you are not in control? Right now things are going well. FaceTime is good to do when I miss people at home. The drive to Grand Junction was uneventful and we arrived into the hands of a helpful group of people. When I am lonely or bored I call someone and they offer to include me in their daily plans. We are hopefully getting closer to making a deal on our first home purchase. The word that comes to mind is provision. Today I stopped and thought about how everything that is being given to me is a gift from God. He wants me to have these things.
As things start to fall into place here in our new home I am grateful. I am starting to see the fruits of being obedient to God’s call. I know there are other times in life when it is harder to be grateful. Which is one reason I am working on learning how to trust in the lord and lean not on my understanding. If I am honest I think I am sort of superstitious. I think that if things are going well then something bad is coming. Not the most helpful way to look at life. Worry tends to take more time then it should when I give into this kind of thinking. I will try to do a better job acknowledging Him in what He provides. I will do this mainly because scripture tells me to do so, but also because when I look back I really do have a lot to be thankful for.
So much to do every day! Moving is hard work. We had great help from people at our church getting in to our new place. Whatever I need continues to be provided for each day.
Boxes piled up in our living room are stressful to Griffey the cat. Sharing a closet with my husband is not as exciting as I thought it would be, especially when he wakes up at 5:30 to go running. Fortunately, I am so tired from unpacking, exploring, meeting new people that I go right back to sleep. Speaking of new people, just about every person I have come across in our neighborhood has introduced themselves and seems to be pleasant. No scary people, yet.
Today and yesterday were the saddest days since moving here because today I said goodbye to my mom and my in-laws. Hub’s parents left yesterday. They are so great! Helped us with anything we asked. Set up the office at church, washed the car, provided entertainment when it was needed. As much as I miss them, I miss my mom the most. I love her so much! She was helpful with moving boxes, setting up our house, looking at homes to buy. Touring the Colorado National Monument was a highlight for her I am sure because she is afraid someone is going to fall off the edge of the rocky cliffs. I am so grateful to have family members who know what our new city looks like.