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A Revolutionary connection…

July 4th, 2009

“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.” ~ Samuel Adams

As we take a bit of a break from the normal routine today in honor of our July 4th Independence Day, the History Channel has been telling the stories of the revolution… the hardship of George Washington’s rag-tag soldiers, the transformation of Benedict Arnold from would-be hero of the continental army to bitter traitor, the importance of the press and written word in encouraging the colonists to keep fighting, and the role of the French ships in sealing our defeat of the English army. Interestingly enough, Gen. George Washington even had a bit of a stimulus package plan of his own when he convinced his soldiers to stay and fight with the promise of $10 for each of them that he did not have!  The moral of that story may be that sometimes things don’t seem to have changed much and, hey, it seems to have worked didn’t it? Anyway…

On July 4th, our family can make a personal connection to our country’s fight for independence when we look back to the legacy of my great-great-great-great grandfather Henry Hayes, Sr. who was born on May 2, 1762 in Luneburg Co., Virginia.  At the age of 18 in March 1781, he volunteered to serve as a private in the Army of the Revolution and, that year, served two terms of three months each.  In October of 1781 he was stationed at Gloucester Point on the Little York River in Virginia.  In his own words, written in a pension application at the age of 95, he described cooperating with Gen. George Washington and the French forces and witnessing the surrender of Cornwallis that signaled the end of the Revolutionary War.  Following the surrender of the British forces, he helped to capture the Torries who had sympathized and fought with the opposing army and guarded the captives as his company marched them back to Richmond, Virginia to await their trial.

Although it could be argued that he was not a great general, nor were his actions notably heroic; he was there as were many other young men and most likely, scared, hungry, cold and uncertain if he would live to see the morning dawn.  His parents, Henry and Ann, were no doubt worried about his return and, at the same time, proud of his courage and willingness to fight for our young country.

Throughout the various wars, conflicts, and struggles for freedom that have occurred in this country since that time, countless people of all ages have gone the distance and given everything they had to give (including their very lives) for our freedom and the liberties that we enjoy every day.  To me, that’s what today is all about!  Today is a great day to think back to the experiences of my 4-greats-grandpa Henry and the countless other individuals who have given their service to our country helping to preserve our cherished freedom and the democracy that makes our country great.

(Family members who want to learn more about Henry and also to update the family tree with new births, spouses, etc. can go to and request a password.  Jesse will soon e-mail you back with login information.  Please feel free to make any additions to your immediate family information as needed.)

I went to a conference… and I learned some things!

June 12th, 2009

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” ~ Stewart Brand

Just returned last night from the annual NCE (Nebraska Career Education) Conference.  It was a busy three days in Kearney filled with lots of workshops and sessions and opportunities to connect with other teachers from around the state.  This year, among other great sessions, I attended a session on new Internet sites led by Corinne Hoisington of Central Virginia Community College.  I came home so excited about some of the cool sites that I learned about, I just had to share them.  Maybe you already use some of these sites, but they were new to me.  Here are a few of the most amazing:

  • * – create your own multiple choice or short answer survey and post on the net.
  • *googlelatitude – gives you a free download for newer cell phones that will install on your phone.  It will track the phone to within 3 feet anywhere in the world.  Some people are buying a cheap phone and putting it in luggage when traveling!
  • * – taking it’s name from the Gaelic word for knowledge, it’s a new search engine with lots of different features.
  • * – allows you to create your very own cartoon strip and will save it on the net.
  • *googletranslate – will translate an entire website into 45 different languages.
  • * – you can click on 756 different front pages from newspapers in 72 countries.  Paired with googletranslate, you have the news of the world (from their point of view) at your fingertips.
  • * – type in a group of words and it will randomly arrange them into very cool pictorial layouts.
  • * – Allows you to share live video online with the world.
  • * – type in any city in the U.S. and see what people recommend as the best places to eat, etc.
  • * – will convert a YouTube video to a vmw format that can be stored on a USB drive.  
  • * – free access to music and videos.
  • *And, if you send a question as a text message to chacha (242242) a college student on the other end will check out the answer and send you a text message with the answer at no charge.  This would be handy when you are away from the Internet and need information quickly.

I spent the first entire day of the conference attending a session by Jay Sutliffe from Chadron State College on Sports Nutrition.  He shared some great information about nutrition and recommended Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook as an excellent resource.

Hope you will try some of these resources.  Let me know if you like them!

Mother’s Day

May 10th, 2009

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone

Here it is Mother’s Day and mid-May!  It was a Mother’s Day to remember.  This year “the kids” and “the husband” put their heads together and conspired to surprise me with a mystery dinner destination.  So, this morning Francis, Jesse, Kalie and I climbed into the car and started on our way to a surprise location.  When we headed west and then north I was completely confused.  Once we got into the sandhills, I was convinced that a salebarn cafe was probably where they were headed (granted, most sale barn cafes have fantastic food, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for Mother’s Day).  Although I was relieved as we passed by a couple of sale barns, I soon began to think that there must be a blanket, loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter in the trunk and we were heading for a pasture picnic.  Finally we turned off the highway and I knew we were heading toward Fort Hartsuff near Burwell.  My worries were put to rest when we pulled up in front of the Country Neighbor , a very busy restaurant operating in an old country schoolhouse near Elyria.  Francis had made reservations for noon, so we were able to bypass the crowd and were soon feasting on delicious dinners of shrimp and roast beef.  They had pulled off quite a surprise!

Even though Jenna and Matt couldn’t make it for our Mother’s Day meal, Jenna did join me earlier in the week at the Mother-Daughter salad supper at our church.  We actually played a part in the program portraying a mother and her newly married daughter.  The program’s story kind of followed mothers through the years as their daughters were born, grew as children, graduated, went to college, got married and eventually had children of their own as the cycle started all over again.

Every mother knows that the quote above is quite true.  No matter how old or how far away children are; a mother’s thoughts, concern, and love goes with them.  And, even when a mother is no longer living on this earth, her love and lasting legacy is still very much a part of her chidrens’ lives.

Thanks Francis, Jesse, Jenna, and Kalie for making this Mother’s Day so special for me and thanks to my mom for her love that I carry with me always.  Mother’s Day is really every day.

A new baby llama … whose mama is also a llama!

February 28th, 2009

We found a surprise out in the pasture yesterday.  Fortunately it looks like the mama likes this baby llama, so we’re keeping our hopes up that this little one will do well.  What a cutie!




Journey to Jacksonville

January 4th, 2009

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

The past week found Kalie, Shawn, Jesse and me on an adventure as we drove to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.  The trip took us over 3,000 miles in six days through eleven states.  In addition to the 26-21 win over the Clemson Tigers, we made stops along the way to experience a bit of the local culture and attractions.  Highlights were visits to Mammoth Springs, AR; B.B.Kings Club on Beale St., the Civil Rights Museum and site of Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis, TN; the birthplace of Elvis in Tupelo, MS; the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; the Alabama statehouse and the first White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, AL; the FSU campus in Tallahasse, FL and the Jacksonville Beach in Jacksonville, FL.  We spent New Year’s Eve watching fireworks and listening to live music at The Landing in downtown Jacksonville and New Year’s Day at the Gator Bowl.  On the return trip home we had lunch at The Varsity in Atlanta, GA (the world’s largest drive-in hamburger place) and dinner in Nashville, TN.  After spending the night in Paducah, KY we continued on and came upon the little town of Cairo, IL which is sandwiched between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and has an interesting history.  We had lunch in St. Louis, MO and dinner with Jesse’s friends in Kansas City before finally making it home.  We had a great time and got to see many new places.







Dazzling Dallas!

December 12th, 2008

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
Francis Bacon, Sr.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to take 19 of my students to Dallas for one of our national Cluster Meetings. I have taken kids to these meetings every year for the past 20+ years to destinations all over the midwest. This trip, in a big yellow schoolbus no less, was one of the best! The speakers were great and the kids were awesome too. On the way down we stopped for a break at the Oklahoma City National Memorial which was created to honor those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Rows of chairs are arranged next to the pool that defines the footprint of the destroyed building according to the location of those who died when the explosion occurred. Larger chairs represent adults and the smaller chairs are in honor of the children who died, most of whom were in daycare on the first floor of the building. If you’ve never been there, it is definitely worth the stop.

While in Dallas we also visited the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza that chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. It sent chills up my spine to stand near the very spot that the assassin assumed when he took aim at our president so many years ago. We were there on the 45th Anniversary to the day of the event that caused those who were alive at the time to remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the dreadful news. Again, the kids who were with me could easily grasp the significance of what they were seeing and appreciated the chance to be there.

Our meeting was great too. One of the best speakers was a man named Ben Glenn whom I have heard several times before. He has a great message and also entertains with a zany sense of humor. His presentation always starts out with the creation right before your eyes of a magnificent chalk drawing.

We were surprised to see a piece of the Berlin Wall at the hotel were our meeting was held. As we walked by it, an exchange student from Germany who was along on the trip with us, recognized it! I think he was surprised to see, literally, a piece of his homeland right there in Dallas.

And what would a trip to Dallas be without a stop at a mall. I drove the bus to the Galleria Mall, complete with an ice skating rink and the biggest Christmas tree you’ll probably ever see. By Sunday, we were ready to head for home and started the trek back north. I think everyone who was along on the trip had truly been dazzled by Dallas!






November 4th, 2008

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  ~ John Quincy Adams

Catching Up

November 2nd, 2008

“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

My life has seemed like a blur since school started two months ago.  The time has been consumed by lesson plans, papers to grade, activities to drive the bus to, concession stands to run, and (occasionally) a day at home to catch up on laundry and cleaning.  Weekends are reserved for visiting the kids, running errands, church, and getting together with family and friends.  Fall harvest on the farm is in full swing and we have been fortunate to have beautiful weather here lately.  The photo shows you what Francis has been seeing today as he combines the soybeans.

Yearbook Yourself…

August 23rd, 2008

“It is like opening up a yearbook when you were in junior high. I think everybody looks back at their photos and cringe.”   Mark-Paul Gosselaar

I happened to hear about a website,, on the morning news and have spent the last hour amused by seeing what I might of looked like with my current, older face in a yearbook photo from years ago. They range in time reference from 1950 to 1988. The one with the glasses bears an uncanny resemblance to photos I have of my mom! And then… the last two are me as a guy in the 50’s and 60’s!  It’s easy to do and it’s entertaining.  You should try it too and post your results as a comment.  I’d love to see your results!  🙂

Sturgis Rally 2008

August 10th, 2008

Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.  ~Author Unknown

Bike Week 2008 has come and gone.  Even though we make no claims of being real bikers (or campers!), we ventured west to Sturgis for the fifth year of adventure in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  For those of you who have followed our trials and tribulations with the air mattress (see, you’ll be happy to know that we got a larger tent on sale in January and our queen-sized Bed-in-a-Box fit perfectly with room to spare!  No more getting wedged between the bed and the side of the tent – it was great!  🙂We weren’t sure we had chosen a good camping spot after we pitched the tent and then read the sign saying something about live fire. Hopefully that was intended for off-season visitors to the Buffalo Chip campground.

One of the highlights of the Sturgis Rally for us has always been the Custom Bike Show on Thunder Road and this year was no different.  We saw awesome custom-built motorcycles that were more like works of art than modes of transportation. 

Another highlight from our day on Thunder Road was the opportunity to meet well-known bike builder, Billy Lane, and seeing Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who also has his own line of custom bikes called Red Wing Motorcycles (

And we always get a laugh when we look for our favorite little saying posted on the wall at Thunder Road…

It does make you stop and think!!!  🙂

Of course we had to stop in downtown Sturgis to take in the sights and sounds.

Another of the highlights of Bike Week has been the great music.  This year the Buffalo Chip Campground had a phenomenal line-up of entertainers, from Kid Rock to Alice Cooper to Three Doors Down to Kelli Pickler!  Unfortunately we weren’t able to be away from the farm to see all of them (or even most of them!)…but, we did see some of them.  Sugarland and ZZ Top drew a huge crowd on Thursday night and it was difficult to get very close.  Friday afternoon I happened to be there when country singer Dierks Bentley and the alternative band Staind was there for their sound check and got to listen to them both later that evening at their concerts.  Pictured below is Staind’s lead singer Aaron Lewis.

We had other adventures while at the Rally.  The Full Throttle is always a fun time with great music.  We even went back one morning for a huge all-you-can-eat breakfast.  Someone told us about the Extreme Fight Nights at the Knuckle and so we checked that out one evening.  I’m not sure why anyone would put themselves through that, but I suppose it must be a guy thing.  Although, one girl challenged any guy willing to step into the ring with her in the 185 pound division.  We didn’t stay long enough to see if she had any takers.  We headed up the road past Bear Butte one afternoon and came upon the new Broken Spoke where the bikes enter by driving right through the place!  Some amazing sights there were the motorcycle engine blender and the bike with the see-through gas tank.  There would be no excuse for running out of gas with that bike.

One of the best parts of going to Bike Week each year is the people.  We met very interesting people from all over the world.  The greater part of one afternoon was spent just sitting and talking with a radio DJ from Oregon and a guy from northern California, trading stories and coming up with solutions to most of the world’s pressing problems.  We’ll look for them again next year.

Too soon it was time to head for home.  We stopped past the Harley store and the newly opened Cabela’s store in Rapid City to admire their display of trophy animals.

One last stop was for lunch in the tiny town of Scenic, SD – home of very few people and several young ducklings.

So long Sturgis…until next year!  🙂

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