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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lollipop Moments

Take 6 minutes and watch this video.....I promise it's not going to sell you any weight loss products, windows or siding.

Just watch.

Something to think about.  Who's that person for you?  And have you taken the time to let them know what they did for you?

One of mine is a good friend who made a comment to me when our kids were very young.  She said, "If you let them do it at home, they'll think they can do it in public."  It was a defining moment in my parenting.  She wasn't criticizing, she wasn't judging, she was simply commenting.  I never forgot those words.  Those words made me a better parent.  I mean, within reason--I still sucked at it most of the time and made terrible decisions--but hey, we all are still alive and we know how to behave in public.

I haven't thanked her, yet.

Another of my lollipop moments came from a close friend of mine.  She told me that she had never believed in herself until she taught with me.  And I believed in her.  I showed her how smart she was.  I stood beside her and I believed in her.  Seriously.  All I did was show up every day and try not to cry because the kids we were teaching were so incredibly awesome--and poor--that sometimes it was too scary to think about sending them home.

Why is it my lollipop moment?  Because her telling me that it was me that made a difference to her made me realize that things don't have to be 'special moments' to make a difference. Every moment can make a difference.  We just never know when we are giving someone something that they take away and use for a lifetime.

Go make a difference.  Just sayin'.



Monday, November 4, 2013


Ever read a book that the characters become your family?  That when the book ends you're sad because those characters aren't in your daily life?  That you start to read slower so the book lasts longer?  No?  Really, people.  Just own it.  You know it's true and it's happened to you.  And if it hasn't--then we need to visit.   I got book lists.  And I share.

So this is what happened to me.  I read a book by Lauraine Snelling years ago.  And lucky for me--there were 5 more to go with it.  The book?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre.  And if it includes a trip from overseas and settling in America even better.  It's crazy.  I mean, I will read anything, but historical fiction is definitely my favorite.

So when Lauraine Snelling kept adding to the series with the Bjorklund family, I felt like my family was just getting bigger and bigger.  I love that family.  They probably love me as well.

But then Snelling started another series that takes place in the Dakotas, Wild West Wind, but this time she did something mean--she only wrote 3.  Lucky for me, I didn't discover this until I was almost at the end of the 3rd book.  Now I don't want to finish because that means no more Mavis, Cassie, Ransom or Arnett.

But alas, I did finish.   My take away?  This excerpt from the first book:

"One way is to make plans to do something and ask God 
to block those plans if we are not in tune with Him." 
--p. 223, Whispers in the Wind

Snelling makes reference to this quote in each of the subsequent novels.  It's never direct, it's always in a roundabout way, but it's there.  

Truer words were never written.  Just sayin'.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Have....

20 minutes until I need to be in the shower...... So I decided that I should put up a new post.  Haven't posted since June, and this seems like the perfect time to begin posting again.

College Girl is now 'Miss Hays, Second Grade Teacher'.  And is 1/4 of the way through her first year of teaching.

Frick is now College Boy living the dream.

Frack is now College Girl 2.

And the 3 of them are roommates in a house they named 'The Beach'.  Conversations go something like this....where are you?  At The Beach!  Or it's snowing at The Beach!  Or we have no food at The Beach!  You can just imagine the conversations my people have about The Beach.

Coach and I?  Empty nesters.  And we are OK with it.  When people ask me about how it's going, I just laugh.  We were only married 10 months and 10 days when Miss Hays was born.  We've got this, people, we've got this.

3 minutes to spare...just sayin'.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Favorites

Some of my favorite Sunday things......

Coffee outside with the newspaper.

Dinner with my family.


The slowness of Sunday.

That time on Sunday evening as the day is wrapping up when the sun falling in the west and I am not thinking about anything.

Clean sheets.

The promise of a new week filled with nothing but time and a good book.

Just sayin'.

Friday, May 31, 2013

12 First Years

I just closed the door on my 18th year of teaching kids.  It was my 12th first year.  Make sense?  No.  Not at all.

Let me try to explain it:

When I started teaching in 1992, I thought I was hired to teach 7th and 8th grade English.  Turns out, I was hired to teach 7th and 8th grade communications--which were semester classes--and 7th grade English.  End of first year number one.

The next school year, 1993-94, we did away with communications and I taught 7th grade English,7th grade Math and 8th grade science.  We were building a new middle school, which wasn't ready for us at the beginning of the school year, so we moved in at the end of the first quarter.  So I started the year in a packed up room that stayed packed up until we FINALLY moved to the new building at the end of October.  Crazy.  And I was pregnant.  End of first year number two.

For the 1994-95 school year, I had the same subjects BUT we had gotten new math books, which meant all new math lessons.  And we also had a brand new science lab--which I was expected to use.  We had never had a lab before and I had to design experiments to be done in the lab.  End of first year number three.

At this point, I retired.  One year old twins, a five year old and a teaching career weren't mixing so well.  My husband drove one way to work, I drove another way to work and it just wasn't working.  He took Frick and Frack with him and I took College Girl with me and it just wasn't working.  Retirement worked.

Coming out of retirement in 1998, I was hired to teach at one of our outlying schools (we no longer have any outlying schools).  A combination 5th and 6th grade classroom.  This was an amazing experience.  At the end of the year, it was determined 6th grade would no longer be attending 6th grade in that building.  The 6th grade would go to town for middle school.  The building would become a K-5 building with K-1-2 in a classroom and 3-4-5 in a classroom.  This meant I was going somewhere else.  End of first year number four.

That somewhere else was another outlying school.  For the 1999-00 year, I taught 3rd and 4th grade.   End of first year number five.

An amazing thing happened for the 2000-01 school year:  I taught the same thing for the first time ever.  When school started, I was teaching 3rd and 4th grade again!  This meant that the 10 kids who had had me for 3rd grade, had me for 4th grade.  That was an amazing experience.  It was like we picked up in August where we had left off in May and there was none of that 'transitioning' for me or them.  It was awesome.

Lest I get comfortable teaching the same thing, I was asked to teach K-1 for the 2001-02 school year.  We had moved the 6th grade out of this outlying school and reconfigured to a K-1, 2-3, and a 4-5 classroom.  Interestingly enough, the fire marshall deemed the room where I was teaching K-1,  inappropriate for Kindergartners because there wasn't a second exit.  At the end of the first quarter, we moved my room upstairs to a room that had a second exit.  Crazy, but true.  End of my sixth first year.

Again, changes were made to our outlying schools.  This time we needed to reduce teaching staff, so we became a K-1-2 classroom and a 3-4-5 classroom.  For the 2002-03, I was the K-1-2 teacher.

Hold onto your hats......In the 7th week of the first quarter, important people show up right before morning recess.  I think I can tell you what everyone was wearing that day--that's the impact the day had on me.  The important people send the kids to recess with the recess supervisor and call the rest of us into a meeting.  And they close the doors.  Mmmmmmm.....yep.  At this point they announce that they need to reconfigure the 6th grade in town and the need for an additional teacher is evident.  That additional teacher would be me.  A replacement would be brought in from another outlying school for me and I would begin teaching 6th grade reading second quarter. Which was 2 weeks away.  I stopped teaching K-1-2 on a Friday in October and started teaching 6th grade reading on Monday.  So that year I had my seventh and eight first years.

I taught 6th grade reading for the 2003-04 school year, but for the whole year for the first time.  It was a crazy time because my appendix burst in March of 2004 and I missed 6 weeks of school.  End of my 9th first year.

I had a wonderful opportunity for the 2004-05 school year.  I could move up to 7th grade Reading with the kids I had the year before--basically creating a looping situation.  It was a wonderful transition--we had a wonderful 7th grade team--two of us who had been with them as 6th grade teachers went with them to 7th grade and we added two new-to-the-students teachers.  End of my 10th first year.

For the 2005-06 school year, I was able to teach 7th grade reading again.  Fun kids, great year.  I am thinking I got this--and literally--the night before school is out--they tell me they are moving me to 3rd grade for the 2006-07 school year.

I move my stuff to 3rd grade for the 2006-07 school year.  It was great.  It was my 11th first year.

And you know what?  I stayed there for 6 years.  And then the phone call came.  Last year on this exact day.  Could I help them out?  Could I teach 9th grade English and health?  They needed to fill a late resignation and I had that combo of endorsements.  Seriously.  Who else but me would even have that combination of endorsements?  I could say no, but not really.

Thus I began my 18th year of teaching with my 12th first year.

I tell you all of that to leave you with this piece of advice....

Change is inevitable.
Life changes.  People change.  Places change.  Time changes.  Times change.  We change.  Underwear changes.  Stuff just changes.
It's how we accept those changes that make a difference in the world.
Go make a difference in the world.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another Last Day

Today is the last day of my first year as a Freshman English and Health teacher.  At times it was the fastest year of my life and at times it was the longest year of my life.

Never fear.  I am alive.  Freshman are amazing and wonderful--they let me live.  Some days they ate my lunch and some days....I ate, well Pringles and more Pringles.  Chased by a Dr. Pepper.  With a side of humility.

This song seems appropriate for a theme to the year....

One.  More.  Day.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

10 Days and Counting......

So I took a little break from writing.....OK.  That's a big, fat lie.  I took a big break.  I have a gazillion excuses--none of them anything anybody wants or needs to hear.

But then I read THIS......and yep.  I am not promising you'll see what I write everyday, but I do promise to write everyday.

Back in the fall, when all 5 of us had 'stuff' going on.....2 kids starting college, 1 kid student teaching, new jobs for the parents, new routines, new schedules, new relationships, new ways of seeing my children as grown-ups but not really....I had no idea that I would even live through August, let alone be breathing in May.  But here we are in May, and I am still alive.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  

And just like my mom always says:  It will be fine.
She's smart.  But don't tell her I said that because I don't want her to get a big head.
Just sayin'.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Really Important Stuff


Life isn't always fair.
My mom ALWAYS said that to me.
Mainly because I was Suzy Fair Pants about everything.
And I still am.
She was right....life isn't always fair.

Take a shower.
My mom always said soap is cheap.
There's no reason not to be clean.
My mom said everybody feels better after a shower.
I think she took a shower because she knew we
would leave her alone.
To this day, a shower solves a lot of problems.
Much like time.

My mom always said sometimes
the most difficult part of your day
will be to get out of bed.
Do it anyway.
Put your feet on the ground and
move forward.

June 3, 1989

It will all be fine.
I cannot tell you how many times
my mom said this to me.
Again.  Right.
It will all be fine.
It will all be fine.

It costs you nothing to be speak kindly.
She was so right.  So right.

Paybacks are hell.
She said that a lot to my brother.
And....well, me.
She was right.
I should have been nicer to my mother.

Mom and College Girl, December 2012

My mom worked harder than anyone
I know.
I know that now.
And I now know why she worked so hard.

It was for me.
And my brother.
So we could be who we are.

Just sayin'.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Food on Friday

Looooong, looooooong week at The Hays Crew.  College Girl worked a full week at her new job, Frack worked everyday all day, Frick had several pick up jobs, and of course, I started the Freshman on Romeo and Juliet.  Combine all of that with the fact that the flu--stomach and influenza--are rampant in The County, it was a looooooong, looooooooong week.

We are waiting for the flu to hit.  It seems inescapable.  I have washed my hands until it feels like they have no skin on them.  I am trying to remember NOT to use the commons area bathroom at school and I am drinking water.  I just keep saying, "Drink water.  Wash your hands." The Freshman are tired of hearing it.  Don't care.

This week I don't have a recipe to share.  I am going to share menus and some meal planning tips.  One time we sat down as a family and made a list of meals that we would like to have for dinner.  I think we came up with about 60 meals.  Then, when I would sit down to meal plan, I could pull out the list, choose the meals for the week, make a grocery list and shop.  Once home from the store, I would put the meals together.

I know it makes me seem like a Super Star, but really, it just saved time.  And money.

I have tried meal prep and planning several ways.  A good friend of mine planned hers monthly.  She would plan for 24 meals.  They usually ate out on Fridays--really--they ate at ballgames--and a couple of leftover nights.  She posted a calendar with the meals for each day, bought all the ingredients and whomever got home first started the meal.

Now, she's a Rock Star.  I tried this system.  No go at The Hays Crew.  It was too easy to sub meals in for other meals.  Then we would get to the end of the month with odd ingredients and back to the store I would go.  Budget blown.  No time saved.  I was always impressed with her self-discipline.  Actually, still am.

I have tried planning and making meals for 2 weeks.  I usually would plan for 12 meals.  This left 2 nights for leftovers.  Coach and I usually took leftovers for lunches.  Obviously this means several items that can be made ahead and tucked in the freezer for later.  I would sit down with the grocery ads and plan meals around whatever was on sale.  This 2 week system worked well for us.  I usually made a second trip to the store on the 'off' week for fresh fruits and vegetables.  The thing I didn't like was that this system usually ended up with a lot of casserole type meals.  Not always the healthiest style of cooking or eating.

I have tried planning and making meals for one week at a time.  This is my favorite way to plan.  Grocery ads come out on Wednesday's, I could meal plan, shop sometime on Saturday, make meals and be ready for the week.  Many times our big dinner on Sunday would center around our meat for the week. If chicken was on sale, then I could have chicken and noodles on Sunday, then chicken would be our main ingredient for the remainder of the week.  The bad deal here is that sometimes the week would get away from me, all of sudden it would be Saturday and there I'd be with 3 meals that hadn't been eaten.  Can they be frozen?  Can we eat them today?  Have a party?  Dilemma central.

As my kids aged, I stopped making meals ahead.  I would simply make the menus for the week, buy the ingredients, and post the menus on the fridge.  Then someone (usually me or Frick) could look at the list, pick a meal, get it started and dinner would be served.  I usually planned and bought for 7 meals.  I rarely made 7 meals, so then I was building up my pantry/freezer stores.  The iffy part of this system is time.  It takes a little longer because things aren't prepped and ready to popped in the oven, crock pot, etc.  I also probably didn't save as much money because I was going to the store every week.

What was on that list of 60 meals?  Every body's favorites.....and some not-so-favorites.  Frick doesn't eat balls of meat, College Girl isn't a fan of stir-fry and Frack, well, he'll try anything....ONCE.   Coach will eat anything.  No joke.  He'll eat whatever is there to eat.  I am OK with most things--but since I was in charge, I usually picked things I liked to eat.

Here are some of our favorites.....
Hot dogs
Tater tot casserole
Chicken enchiladas
Canned soup and grilled cheese
Cheeseburger mac
Cheesy potatoes and ham casserole
Ham and cheese rolls
Taco soup
Potato soup
Western spuds
Biscuits and gravy
Pancakes and sausage
Chicken and noodles
Pulled pork sandwiches
Roast beef
Skillet ham casserole
Breakfast burritos
Fish sticks and homemade macaroni and cheese
Mock Chicken fried steak
Steak finger wraps
Cheese quesadillas
Beef and noodles
Vegetable beef soup
Oven fried chicken
BBQ beef sandwiches
Grilled chicken
Tuna casserole
Pot pie
Chicken salad
Beef enchiladas
Stir fry

Not all of these are healthy.  Just sayin'.   

Friday, January 4, 2013

Food on Friday

For New Year's Day, I made a new recipe.  It's a black-eyed pea soup recipe--sort of.  Black eyed peas are supposed to be good luck.  Coach says that's a load of bunk....but I felt like it couldn't hurt to try.

This recipe made my house smell incredibly delicious.  I just can't figure out why cooking onions smell so good.  Coach wondered if there were candles that recreated that smell.  I drew the line at that one.  No onion flavored candles.

I thought it was tasty.  Coach thought it was tasty.  Frick thought it was tasty.

College Girl and Frack?  Not so much.

We had it served over rice with speedy corn muffins.

Super easy recipe...because I made it up.  Let me repeat.  I made it up.  I feel like a rock star over this recipe.  I took a couple of tried and true recipes and made this soup.

Black Eyed Pea Soup
3 cups of dried black eyed peas
9 cups of water
diced ham--as much as you would like
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 diced onion
2 tbsp of jarred jalapenos plus some juice
1 tbsp salt
1 3/4 tsp of black pepper
garlic salt--just a couple of shakes into the water
cumin--maybe an 1/8 of a tsp

Put all ingredients in the crock pot.  Turn it on high.  Let cook 6-8 hours.  Serve over rice.

I rock.
Just sayin'.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

Life happens so fast.
Be present.
Smiles are contagious.

Someday soon I'll be sitting here.
Drinking lemonade.

Nobody smiles better.
Time flies.
Be present.

June 3, 1989
Who knew?
We did.

Friends who become family.
Best friends.

20 years of friendship.
3 college graduates.
2 college freshman and 1 high school senior.

you just gotta.....

Girls who grew up
to be teachers.
Proud doesn't even begin to
cover the emotions.

Time flies.
Be present.
Just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Day.....Oh Yeah, It's Wednesday.

Wacky Wednesday.  I was pretty sure it was Monday all day.  Imagine how elated I was to find out that it indeed, is already Wednesday.  For me, that means only one day of dress clothes this week!  Jeans on Friday, baby, jeans on Friday.

First day back at school after Christmas break--no kids.  Teacher workday in the morning and PLC time in the afternoon.  Kids come tomorrow.  Chances are they won't know what day it is either.

Man, what a day!  3 pieces of news I wasn't expecting, but such is life.  And since things come in three's...I am covered.

Picture of the day:

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Book Review in a Rant Sandwich

As someone who considers herself an avid reader, I am continuously amazed at how many people proudly wear the 'I am not a reader' badge.  When I found this quote by Mark Twain, it brought home what I had been thinking but couldn't put into words--if you can read and don't....well, the picture is there for you to make on your own.  

Read, people.  READ.  Read anything.  A newspaper, a magazine, find a book and just get started.  Take 15 minutes in your day, turn off all sound in the world and read.  

Recently, my book club read Bossypants by Tina Fey.  No glorious reviews from us will be forthcoming.  In fact, out of the 6, I was the only one who even remotely liked the book.  One person couldn't make herself finish, another read a few pages and promptly proclaimed, "What's the point?" and quit reading.  

I did laugh out loud in the beginning of the book but by the midway point, had tired of the book.  Repetitive, many details about 30 Rock (which I have NEVER, EVER watched) and it was almost like someone else had finished writing the book.  

Don't buy the book.  If your local library has a copy, I would recommend reading the chapter My Honeymoon, Or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again Either.  Pretty darn funny time for Fey and her husband.  Or for Fey anyway.  Not sure her husband laughed until much later.  

Here's what I took away from the book:  Tina Fey is who she is because she had parents who were present.  Fey was what we called 'a-change-of-life-baby' because her mother was 40 when she was born.  Her brother was 8 years old when Fey was born.  Not unheard of in 2013, but in 1970 it was cause for whispers and head shaking.  All of that--and more--but ultimately, her parents were present.  Her dad was a force in her life because he was PRESENT.  

A lesson for us all.  Just sayin'.

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