Phone Calls


‘What are you doing?’

‘I am reading a book. What are you doing?’

‘Don’t you have anything else to do besides reading a book?’

Yes, Mom. I have a bazillion things that could be done but I am choosing to read a book. There are times when I wish I could just not answer the phone when she calls. But I know that it’s just going to prolong the pain so I just answer. Also, I am trying very hard to show my kids how to handle me with grace and style when I am old and filled with memory loss.

‘I’ve made a decision. I called your uncle today and asked if he would come and pick me up. He did. We went to his house. I was there for four hours. I am going to move in with him. Are you there?’


‘This place is killing my health. I am moving on Saturday.’

‘Have you talked to your son? What did he say about moving? Are you sure, Mom?’

‘I have been calling your brother (it’s really HER SON–but whatevs) for 2 days and he won’t answer my calls. This will be easier for him. He won’t have to come all the way out here to get me. And it will be good for your Uncle. He really needs to lose some weight. And I can pay him to live there. That will help him as well. Do you think it’s a good idea? I took a walk today and it just came to me. I have to move. I hate this place. I am allergic to it.’

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. It’s not a good idea. But if there is one thing I know: I am not able to argue with my mother. It’s no use. I have been her child for 52 years and I have never won any kind of argument with her. Some where along the way….I quit. #justsayin’

Otis Spofford

As I am reading, I can tell the kids know what’s coming. They begin to shift their bodies uncomfortably.  They begin to give each other eyeballs. At the point that it happens, there is a collective intake of 7 year old breath.

Otis cuts Ellen Tebbitts hair.

My  kids are OUTRAGED. Cries of ‘he’s gonna get in big trouble’ and ‘holy smokes! that wasn’t proactive at all’ quickly turn into ‘he better watch it–he’s going to get his comeuppance’ and then….

‘If he did that today, he’d be kicked out of school!!’

Huh. I have spent a ton of time talking about how Otis Spofford takes place in the 1950’s and how things were different.

For example, Otis and most of his friends walk to school but not very many of us walk to school. Also, Otis stays home after school by himself while he mother is teaching dance.

As Otis is chasing Ellen and Austine to school each day, my kids said that wouldn’t happen now because what he is doing is called bullying.

At one point, he loses a friends football and has to earn money to replace the ball.  My kids were pretty sure that their parents would just pay for a new ball. I’m not sure I agree with them–they’ve got pretty decent parents so I think they would have to pay.

At what point has a book outlived its life expectancy?  Is there a life expectancy for stories? I love Otis Spofford.  He’s my kind of kid–spunky, independent and just ornery enough to be likable–or lovable if you’re the teacher. But should I be reading it aloud to my kids?

I’m not sure.  #justsayin’


‘Mrs. Hays, do you wear pajamas?’

‘Why yes I do. Do you?’


Teeheeing ensues.


Oh my.

Pretty hard to take that dad seriously when I see him at the grocery store–or anywhere for that matter. #justsayin’


I read romance novels.

I have a thing for Michael Buble’.

I eat fruit snacks.

I have not eaten chili since January 1998. Not even one time.

I loved soap operas as a kid. In college, I set my schedule up so I wouldn’t miss The Young and The Restless.

I am extremely annoyed by poor table manners.

I feel like undergarments were invented by the devil.

I always knew I would be a teacher.

My mom has Alzheimers and it is HARD.

I was the tallest person in my grade until 4th grade when a boy caught me–and passed me.

I am a pencil snob. Ticonderogas or bust.

I binge watch TV shows on ‘ The Neckflicks’ as my school kids call it. If you haven’t seen season 1 of Northern Rescue, I highly recommend it.

I do love me some Baldwin Brothers. #justsayin’

It’s Going Down

My husband is a good sport when it comes to paint color on the inside of our house. He has never told me no to a color. His motto is ‘paint is cheap’ so 15 years ago when I wanted the dining room painted red, we went for it.

This is the first room we painted when we bought the house 15 years ago. We had no idea what we were doing. NO IDEA. And we did a terrible job. We have lived with it for 15 years.

So much repair work. Spackling. Sanding. Covering the red with a fresh new coat of much lighter color.

It’s been a good run, Red. See you around. #justsayin’

Lip Dub

‘It’s Lip Dub week!!!’

‘We are pumped up for the Lip Dub!!’

‘Do you know we’re having a Lip Dub on Friday???’

So I don’t know if you know this but WE’RE HAVING A LIP DUB ON FRIDAY.

It’s Wednesday. Wow. My kids are beyond excited for this Lip Dub project. We are supposed to line the hallway near our room, wear colorful or crazy clothes, and cheer silently(emphasis on the silent). As I am talking with the kids, I think hmmmmm….I wonder if they know what a lip dub is……..we are first graders and this will be our first experience with a lip dub… I jump off the cliff……

‘Friends, can you tell me what a lip dub is?’ Crickets.

‘Just raise your hand if you think you might know.’ Again, crickets. No hands.

‘Does anybody have any idea what I am talking about?’ More crickets.

Finally, a little guy bravely, albeit timidly, murmurs’ ‘A lip dub?’

17 pairs of eyes meet mine and I realize they have absolutely no idea what Lip Dub is–all they know is that it is happening on Friday. I laugh out loud and announce, ‘Friends. Our day is about to change!’

I busted out You Tube even though I was totally nervous about that MOMO thingymajig and showed them the first 2 Lip Dubs our elementary school has done. They sang the songs and laughed when they saw people they knew and shouted and thought the Lip Dub was the greatest thing ever!

We watched them again and again. We stopped them in the middle, talked about the audience, and watched some more. We had a discussion about the role of the audience in the Lip Dub and we formulated a plan.

Then, I lost my head.

We are using the song “Get Back Up Again’ from the movie ‘Trolls’. It’s a song about getting up again when you fall down, having grit when things are hard and to keep going. We decided we would make posters to shake-n-show when we are on camera.

‘Mrs. Hays, can we use our markers to make this poster?’

‘Friends. We are going to use……(wait for it)……PAINT!!!’

I let 17 kids make posters with paint for a Lip Dub.

And that my friends was why Wednesday was wacky. Oh and the fact that it was Wacky Wednesday for Read Across America week and they were all wearing wacky clothes and EVERY kid crazy hair. And we FINALLY had outside recess.

I let them paint. #justsayin’

**Full disclosure: Our principal is the mastermind behind these Lip Dubs. I just show up with my firsties and act crazy….sort of.

How Important is a Name?

My whole life. It’s just my name. No big deal….

But seriously. I have worked for this district for 24 years and this happens on a regular basis. Today it was at a conference.

It’s just my name. And it is hard to spell–bonus since my last name is spelled correctly this time–and I get it. BUT….that sinking feeling I had this morning when I picked up my name tag is a feeling I would like to avoid.

Is it important? I think so. I would want it for a kid in my classroom so I think it would be….oh I don’t know….respectful….kind….courteous….and this list could go on and on.

But back to this question: Is it important? I think it is. I think it means that no one cares enough to double check to see if they have spelled my name correctly.

And that boils down to relationships. #justsayin’


This was on my desk yesterday morning when I returned from one of the bazillion things I did in and around the building before the kids arrived (also was late because I had to go to the grocery store to buy eggs so we could make brownies in class):

Inside were these two items:

‘Bookmarks!’ I exclaimed. ‘I needed new bookmarks.  Thank you!’

So three thoughts: This mom listened when her son said he wanted to something for someone else.  They worked on a plan together. And they did something together.

I got the best smile and the biggest hug from a little boy with a true heart for others.  And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I show up every day to teach kids.  Just sayin’.

Question of the Day

This was our question of the day on Monday:

And here are our responses…..

It was hard.  I had kids who could not think of  a thing they did to help someone.  I had kids who said they did not help anyone.  I told them we must change that starting now.

They are sososo helpful at school and I want them to share that gift outside of school.  I shouldn’t be the only one who benefits from their kindness.

It looks like I might need to help with some spelling of words.  Just sayin’.