We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees, flowers, grass--grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...We need silence to be able to touch souls. --Mother Teresa

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Food on Friday on Sunday

This is for you, My Friend.  You will never know how much that request meant to me.  Thank you.

In the olden days of this blog, I would post some food thing on Fridays.  It was fun for me and since I really do enjoy making others feel good through food, it was amazing therapy for me.  I think maybe I need to see about being a cooking therapist.  You know, like a recreational therapist or music therapist, only for cooking and delivering it to people.

Last night, Mike and I were on our own for dinner.  Tempting to call Pizza Hut, right?  But no.  We'd been to church, stopped to visit with a friend and then headed to the store.  We decided that we would have Skillet Ham Casserole.  That's our name for it, although it does have an official name--'Joyce's Stovetop Ham Casserole'.  As usual, I have taken the original recipe and made adjustments to suit our family.  For example, the original recipe calls for swiss cheese.  My kids call swiss cheese 'butt cheese' because they are certain it tastes like butt tastes...say if you have ever tasted butt.  Don't ask me--they are their father's children.

The original also only calls for one can of cream soup, but I use two.  And I double the sour cream because it comes in a 16 oz. container and I am not measuring out 8 oz.  I  make this in my really big skillet.  One pan--very little work.

Skillet Ham Casserole

2 cups (or more) cubed ham
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
16 oz. sour cream
16 oz. package of spiral noodles
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup onion--or as much as you want
2 cups of colby jack cheese--or butt cheese
1 stick of butter

I melted the butter and cook my ham.  I know it's already cooked but I like to 'sweat it' down.  It's so much better.  Anything cooked in butter is all good.  I then add my onions, celery and put the lid on the pan.

Cook the noodles to your preference of doneness.  We like ours a lot on the firm side.  

Once the noodles are done, drain them but don't rinse them.  Add the soups and sour cream to the ham mixture and stir.  Add the noodles.  Mix well--but gently.  Cover with the cheese, put the lid back on the pan and let it sit until cheese is melted.  

I served it with a vegetable, maybe a fruit salad and Texas toast. 

And of course, being Mom of the Year, I put some in the freezer for my favorite Student Teacher.  

Before you think I am playing favorites, Frick gets it as leftovers and Frack doesn't love this meal.  

Food on Friday on Sunday.  Just sayin'.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dinner Anyone?

We sent three kids to college in the fall.  3 college tuition's.  College Girl is in her very last semester and will graduate in 2 months.  I say her very last---but she's headed to graduate school in January.

Frick decided that he wanted to live at home and commute.  All good.

Frack decided to live in the dorm.  All good.

When I announced to my husband and my son that I wouldn't be cooking on weeknights, the earth shook just a teensy bit.  I don't think they believed me. I told them I would make big meals on the weekend so we would have leftovers or they could eat whatever they found available to them.  

In fact, I think they thought I was bluffing.  I rarely cook in the first three weeks of school anyway, so no big deal.

I was never more serious in my life.

I have not made one meal on a weeknight since school started.  Not.  One.  We have had good meals on the weekend, for the most part (there was that one weekend when I didn't make a thing) and my system of making big meals has worked.

We have had:
Mexican (this is my GO TO meal)
Chicken and Rice casserole
Chicken enchiladas
Beef and noodles
Tater tot casserole
Taco Soup
Potato Soup
Chicken and Noodles
Homemade mac and cheese with pigs-in-a-blanket
Chicken noodle soup

Nobody is starving.  And they just keep coming home, so it can't be all bad. 

There was some clarification in what days are considered the weekend.  Apparently, if you are a Hays Man, Friday counts as the weekend.  

And yes.  I should be grading papers.  Just sayin'.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Nights

Procrastination.  It has become my middle name.  Why do anything that could be put off until Sunday night? 

Social media.
Bake cookies.
Buy lightbulbs.  And toilet paper.
Clean the bathroom. 

Now you know I am desperate.  I did all of those things and a few more. 

Anything but what needs to be done--which is school stuff.  Admittedly, I am a little  overwhelmed by my latest teaching assignment.

There.  I said it. 

So I tried to fix my header picture between sets of papers.  No luck.  Anybody got any ideas on how to make it go clear across the page like it used to?  Help me.

I can do this.  I can.  Just sayin'.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Projects. Reading. And More......

Back in March, some Sweet Sisters were born into our 'family'.  They were tiny, delicate little things and spent about 2 months in the NICU.  Oh my.  They were the epitome of mini-but-mighty and made sure everybody knew they were in charge.  College Girl has spent the summer being their nanny. Suffice it to say she's in love with them--

--and their brother. They are silly together and he is an amazing almost 5 year-old.  At the City fireworks display, he said, "Guys.  No phones during the show."  Every night she comes home with a funny story from her day with the kids.  She is in heaven because the Mom has let her dress The Sisters each day.  For a girl who spent HOURS and HOURS playing with Barbies, these real live barbies are the best gift.  She sends each of us The Sisters outfit-of-the-day picture.  It's a highlight for sure!

So now that they have been home for 2 months, I am getting around to making their blankets.  Frack helped out with one and I made the other.  My girls picked out the fabric for these blankets.  I don't love sewing on that minky stuff.  It's so soft and cuddly and makes the nicest blankets but, boy it's a bearcat to sew on.  It's stretchy and slick.  My grandma would be gritching about that fabric. 

One thing my grandma would not be gritching about is this:  


Frack learning to sew.  And I have raised my girls right.  My grandma would be so proud.  We cannot pass a fabric store without going in and most likely, purchasing something.  Last week, flannel was on sale.  The Sisters got two more blankets made with love by Frack.  I simply supervised, occasionally wound some thread on the bobbin and just watched with great pride knowing my grandma was also watching. 

Later in the month, I am hosting my annual Ladies Function.  It requires a Hostess Gift.  I refuse to buy anything that has to be dusted, so I decided that everyone can use hot pads and tea towels.  Mainly I think that because I can always use them.  I have about a 5 inch stack of material cut into potholders, just waiting to be sewn.  So I made a couple of potholders and then just cut 2 squares and sewed them onto the tea towel.  Nothing fancy, nothing difficult, nothing real expensive.  Just useful and pretty darn cute.  I probably will add some kitchen utensil to the gift and I am done.  Easy peasy.  Now if only my house was clean!

I finished another book, The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly.  It's a good book.  A very good book.  It may seem familiar to you because it's a movie with Matthew McConaughey as the main character, Michael Haller.  He does keep his clothes on in this movie, so it might be easier to concentrate.  On the movie.  You know the plot, etc. 

Anyway, I highly recommend this book.  I also found that Micheal Connelly has a bunch of books with Michael Haller as the main character and another series that have a character named Hieronymus Bosch as the main character.  Those books look really interesting. 

I also was able to score the new Jeffrey Archer book, The Sins of the Father, at the public library.  I am pretty excited about this book for I really do enjoy Jeffrey Archer.  One of my favorite books is his As the Crow FliesThe Sins of the Father is part of a series that he has started, called The Clifton Chronicles.  The first book, Only Time Will Tell, takes place in England but it seems this book migrates across the ocean to be set in the United States. 

So many books, so little time. 

After school lets out in May, I take a nap every day.  No lie.  Every day in June I take a nap.  This June was no exception--I took a nap every day.  Unfortunately, its now July.  No naps.  Today, I seriously wanted a nap.  I did not take one.  I did not. 

I did not.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Today is Tuesday, July 3.  For many a teacher, it's almost the half-way point of the summer.  For when we awake on Thursday, July 5, it will be the half-way point of the summer.  It's the moment of sheer panic we feel when we realize that our summer to-do list isn't half done, our summer reading list isn't half read, our school year weight gain isn't half gone, our house isn't half cleaned and those 'projects' related to school, well, they aren't even started. 

But for today, all of that is going to wait.  I have important things to do:  blankets to make for sweet sisters, books to be read, lemonade to be drank and dinner to make. 

Yep.  I don't want to miss a thing.  Just sayin'. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Read 1

A couple of summers ago I decided to see how many books I could read over the course of summer break. I think I ended up having read 35 books that summer.  Vacation always helps--usually half my suitcase is books for the week.  No vacation this year.  This summer?  I hope to get 30.

These are the books I have finished so far:

This is one of my book stacks.....

And another book stack....although I have finished 2 books from this stack, so it is smaller.  One or two books are not in the pictures that I have finished, so I actually have a total of 8.  Almost 1/4 of the way to 30--sort of--and I need to step it up if I am going to get my goal.

And here is another book stack.


I did not like Fireflies in December at all.  It was the June selection for my Old Lady Book Club.  The other members enjoyed it and I simply did not.  The July selection is Circle of Three.  Although I have read another book,  The Saving Graces, by this same author, I am not sure I liked this book as much.  I started it, read about 1/4 of it, put it down, read another book, picked it back up read about 1/2 of it, read another book and finally forced myself to finish it.  I was skimming and scanning towards the end.  I just didn't like 2 of the 3 main characters.  They were whiny, nambypambies.  I also am finding that I don't really enjoy books that have a different chapter told from each main characters point of view.  It's like the same story is being told 3 times and it takes FOREVER to get anything going in the story.  It will be interesting to see what the other Old Ladies think about the book.  

I have read the first 4 books, Open Season, Savage Run, Winterkill and Trophy Run in the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box.  The last book, Trophy Kill, was kind of brutal.  One night I dreamed what I had read before bed.  I guess that means I am really into the book, right? 

The Innocent by David Baldacci is a very good book.  I seriously couldn't put it down and had to enforce my read-a-chapter-do-a-chore-rule or we would have had complete and utter chaos.  Wait, too late.  We have that already.  And Frick read it after me, and she couldn't put it down either.

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now by Claire LaZebnik was a decent read.  Lots of things that made me think--but part way through the novel, I realized I had read another book by the author--Knitting Under the Influence--which I really liked a lot.  She is a good writer and she weaves a good tale.  Family saga type stuff. 

Since today is July 1, I have 47 days left of summer vacation.  It would be so awesome if I could read a book a day--but seriously, that's not going to happen.

It won't hurt to try, though.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


This made me laugh out loud......

"Your dog?" Bud said, genuine sympathy in his voice.  "Damn, I'm sorry Joe."

"Yeah, me too."

"When my first wife left me I didn't feel nearly as bad as when my dog died. " 

Joe didn't dare respond to that one. 

-- taken from Trophy Hunt, page 195

So true.  If only we all could learn from Joe and keep our mouths shut. 


Last week at dinner,  College Girl was telling us a story and she started it with this:  "Oh yeah.  This made me LOL."  Her dad looked across the table at me with THOSE eyes and proceeded to laugh at her.  Because she is real funny and tells the best stories.  

Later in the meal, he said, "I'm just LRQ'n."  Puzzled, we all looked at him.  But College Girl was the bravest and said, "WHAT!?" 

And he said, "Laughing Real Quiet."

I laughed so hard that I cried.  


Sometimes I find myself just shaking my head.  In the past week, several times I had the opportunity to SMH.  People say the darndest things, have the oddest expectations and just generally do things that I am amazed by--and not always in a good way.  

In the words of Mother Teresa, "People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway."

Wise woman.  Just sayin'.  

Friday, June 29, 2012


I am knee-deep in C.J. Box books.  And by knee-deep I mean on book 4 of 12 in the Joe Pickett series--with plans to read all 12.  I am wondering where these books have been all my life........

They are amazingly well written, high interest for young men books.  And apparently, women of a certain age enjoy them also.  They take place in Saddlestring, Wyoming--a place I would seriously consider living--and are centered around Game Warden Joe Pickett and his family.  It is seemingly a sleepy little town and yet, there is an undercurrent of evil lurking about the place.  And good guy Joe Pickett?  Well, he seems to always be in the fray.  C.J. Box has an amazing writing style, it's not showy or flowery and yet, it's descriptive in a way that makes me  feel like I am right there as all the action is taking place.  In the midst of all the mystery,  there is that family part of the story.  I cannot decide whether these are mystery novels, crime and suspense, romance--not your typical romance, mind you--more like the romance that men have with fishing, hunting and nature, or family saga.  Family saga probably isn't a real genre of reading but I really enjoy novels that center around families and their trials and tribulations.

But since every waking thought, and really, every sleeping thought I have these days goes back to my freshman English classroom, something very interesting has come to me.


I am planning to do a lot of writing with my Freshman.  I love writing.  And I know--like things, love people.  I could write all day long.  Am I good like my husband is good at writing?  Not even close--he is amazing at his craft.  My writing is more of a jot ideas down, write a letter, send a card, journaling, notes for teaching, etc. Am I the best writer in the world?  Nope.  Am I the best proofreader in the world?  Nope.  Do I make mistakes using their and there?  Your and your're?  To and too?  I hope not, but probably. 

Today when I was reading, Trophy Kill, I noticed something.  Joe Pickett writes.  He has to submit reports to his supervisor.  He has to make notes about wildlife, he takes down info about the vegetation in an area, and he has to make a report when someone reports the sighting of a grizzly bear.  The D.A. asks him to write up a summary of what he knew about a case.  C.J. Box, the writer, wove writing into the story.  Maybe he didn't mean to, maybe it was purposeful.

And it made me think about writing.  Is there a profession that doesn't require some type of writing?  Teaching.  Insurance.  Billing clerk.  Microbiologist.  Engineer.  Banker. 
Lawyer.  Doctor.  Nurse.  Priest.  Nun.  Church secretary.  Landscaping.   Construction.  Lineman. I literally cannot think of any 'job' that does not require some type of writing skills.  That made me think--WHY are we not focusing on writing at all levels in our schools?  WHY have we let this skill slide?  WHY?

I could get on my grammar soapbox right now--but I will save that for another post.  

Look out Freshman.

I think we are going to be doing some writing.  Just sayin'.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


No.  Nobody is getting married.
No.  Nobody is having a baby.
No.  We aren't getting a new pet.
No.  We aren't moving.  But I have thought it of moving....it might be one way to get a clean house.
No.  We aren't getting anything newthatcostsmoney--we have 3 college kids.  3.  Donations accepted.

But you might want to make sure you are sitting down. 

Because this is a big deal.

I am getting a new teaching assignment.  The one thing on my license that I haven't ever taught.  Are you ready?  I am the new Freshman English and Health teacher at our high school.  Yep.  I know. 

Crazy wild.  Just sayin'. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Just Another Day in My Life

A little boy came up to me at recess on Friday and asked if I would push him in the swing.  The kids can all get themselves going in the swing, but sometimes it's just fun to have a grown-up help you get started so you can swing to the tops of the trees.

The kids really enjoy it and so do I.  It's a serious workout to push a third grader in a swing.  Most of them weigh 60-70 pounds, and I have to balance myself in the black rubber tire (probably around 8 inches deep) while giving them 3 big pushes--often times I am sweating by the time I get all 6 swings going.  Once I start pushing, the swings fill up quickly.   The day before I had pushed kids wearing a super cute skirt, a darling little black sweater and my teacher shoes--Birkenstock's.  No problem.  Not entirely true--it was a little windy and I worried about my skirt blowing up over my head and children being damaged for life  or blinded by the sight of my backside covered in purple granniepannies.  Alas, that did not happen, so all was good in the recess world. 

Friday, the day of every teacher in capri jeans and Birk's, is a good day to play at recess.  So when this sweetie asked me to push him, I just galloped on down to the swings like I owned the world.  He loads himself into the swing, I grab the swing, pull it towards me and heave myself into a real good push, go to step back for a second push......and promptly lose my balance and fall flat on my back.  And there I am, sprawled out like, well, maybe a turtle on its back or more like a 45 year-old-woman who has coordination issues and weighs a little more than she should.

First attempt to get up, results in my realization that others have seen this event occur.  And that there is no leverage in millions of pieces of black rubber tire.  And if I don't time this getting up thing just right, a third grade boy butt is going to whack me in the face.

Second attempt to get up, results in my realization that my recess partners are going to be of no help.  They have seen the incident occur and are laughing so hard that they are not going to be able to assist me in anyway.  Again, the whole butt whack in face thing is looming.  I simply cannot get up.  There is absolutely no leverage in that sea of black rubber tire.  The boy I have tried to push is laughing so hard he can barely keep himself in the swing.  The boy next to him, is also laughing very hard and between chuckles is attempting to check and see if I am all right. Not my recess partners, they aren't moving from their spot.  And yes, they are still laughing.  And now they are pointing at their wrists.

Third attempt to get up, results in my realization that the only way I am going to get up on my own is to roll over and push up out of the sea of black rubber tire.  So that's what I do.  Super attractive and extremely graceful.  Roll over.  Push up on my hands and knees, and get on up.   

And still my recess partners are laughing.   As I approach them, they are still pointing to their wrists.  The closer I get, I can see that they are pretending to push a button.  Only now I can hear what they are saying......


Still they have not asked if I am all right.  It doesn't even occur to them that I could be injured.  Not just physically injured, but mentally injured.   

Oh well.  At least my granniepannies didn't show.  Just sayin'.  


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pixie Dust

Today after recess, we were counting our money and cashing it in.  A little boy approached the table where my HS aide and I were being the bankers.

3GB:  I have $1,898.

He hands me his money.

Me:  DUDE!  Your hands are filthy!  Holy smokes...what did you play at recess?

He holds up his hands and giggles.  And in case you didn't know it, there isn't anything that makes my heart melt faster than a giggly third grade boy.  Oh my.

3GB:  It's pixie dust!

Me:  What?

3GB:  It's pixie dust!  (out of the side of his mouth) Also known as......DIRT!!  We also made pixie dust angels at recess....you know like snow angels?  Only in the dirt!

I just laugh.  Laugh and laugh.  All I can think is---his mom is going to die on this one.  I wish I could tell you he was alone in this 'pixie dust' escapade.  But it would be a lie--there were 4 of them. 

And right now, I know that their mothers are seriously wondering how the bathtub got so dirty. 

Pixie dust.  Just sayin'.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Read Much?

Here is my latest read:

I am about a fourth of the way through and could honestly just sit and read IF I HAD THE TIME.  I asked my husband if it was wrong to pray for a snow day and he gave me the 'eyeballs'. 

It starts out in Germany in the early 1900's with a mismatched couple who fall in love and migrate to America with the clothes on their backs.  They knew no English and basically depend on the kindness of strangers to survive.  They settle in a little Missouri town--by accident--and begin to build a life. 

I am always intrigued by those who will take the risk to get on a boat and travel to someplace unknown to them in any way.  No way would I go someplace like that....let alone leave my people knowing I would never see them again. 

So for now....I'll just read about people who dare to do those crazy kinds of things.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Words of Wisdom

I am standing in my classroom surrounded by....well, children who have been cooped up and are just a little crazy. 

I am standing, staring out the window.  I am thinking how amazing it looks outside.  The sky is a gorgeous shade of blue....the sun is boldly out and the light reflecting off of unused play equipment is mesmerizing....the trees are swaying in unison. 

A little boy slides in beside me....cuz this is what little boys who have been cooped up do...they can no longer walk anywhere, they must slide.....

3GB:  Mrs. Hays, it looks real pretty outside.
Me:  Yep.  It does.

Moment of silence....just a moment....cuz little boys who slide everywhere only have a moment of silence.....

3GB:  Just by looking, you would think it was a beautiful day outside.  Instead its a cold and nasty day. 
Me:  Yep. 
3GB:  That's why you don't judge things by how they look on the outside, right, Mrs. Hays?

Wise words.  Just sayin'. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Truth Is

The truth is....I hate it when middle schoolers play this game on FB, but I am going to play it here.  Just for today.  But tell any of my middle school friends and I will deny it to my death.

The truth is....I hate winter.  Right now there are 69 days until daylight savings time.  Which means we are that much closer to me wearing shoes that do not require socks.  And not feeling like I should go to bed at 5:30. 

The truth is.....I took off my toenail polish under protest on December 3, 2011.  That is when I know it is winter.  When I take it off for the final time of the season.  My toes, well, they just look so naked now.

The truth is....I hate drama.  This girl has got it right.  This post is impressive.  Now if we would take what she says to heart, we would all be in a better place.  We're friends here girls, we need to take care of each other.

The truth is.....I have a very good friend who is hurting.  Again.  There are just some things I don't understand and I suppose I am not meant to understand.  But is sure sucks all the same.

The truth is....I really like to sew.  I am getting better at it and think that I can make it something I do in 2012.

The truth is....I could play word games til I throw up words.  I recently discovered this app called 'Words With Friends' and have limited myself to 4 games at one time.  Any more than that might be overkill, but I must confess that while I am waiting for others to play, I play Bookworm or Woooords.

The truth is....baking cookies is a coping mechanism for me.  And sharing them with others is my way of giving back.

The truth is....writing is something I enjoy and I am planning to do more of it.  If my writing offends you, stop reading.  If my writing helps you, great.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One Day at a Time


Lots of things to look forward to in 2012. 

My 45th birthday.

2 more high school graduates.

30 years out of high school for Coach.

1 college graduation.

Yep.  Suffice it to say that we are in for some change at The Hays Crew.

We have already started down the road of 'this is the last time.....' and already had a bunch of first lasts or last firsts.

And really, I am OK.  Some days I am at the holy smokes where did the time go and some days I am at the holy smokes when will this end, but at the end of the day here is what I know:

Each and every day is a gift.  Each day that I get to see my kids go off into the world and make their way, I am thankful.  Each day that has happy moments followed by sad moments followed by Ahh Haaa moments followed by frustrated moments, is a day that I am thankful.  This is how it is supposed to be.  I don't 'own' these people--they were simply gifted to me on the day they were born.  God has a plan for them.  May they be open to His plans for them and always, always, always....be who they are. 

The readings at Sunday Mass this week were from Numbers.  Words that stuck with me......

"The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"  
--Numbers 6;24-26

May the peace of the Lord be with you today and always.  And with me.  I think I'm gonna need it.  

Just sayin'.    

Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel. -Proverbs 11: 17