Browsed by
Author: JHayes

You Can be a Hero

You Can be a Hero

This story is for children in pre-school, Kindergarten, first, and second grades. You may share this with as many people as you like, but please don’t remove my name at the bottom.

Learning to be a Hero

You may only be four or five years old (use your child’s age), but you can be a hero. Listen to the things your family is telling you about washing your hands with lots of soapy bubbles and water. You can practice counting to twenty while you wash your hands. You are being a hero each time you wash your hands because you are killing germs that can make people sick. If we don’t wash our hands, icky germs can get on everything we touch. How often should you wash you hands?

  1. Wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  2. Wash your hands before you touch food with your hands (eating an apple or banana).
  3. Wash your hands before you eat.
  4. Wash your hands after you play with toys.
  5. Wash your hands if you have played outside in your yard.
  6. Wash your hands after you cough, blow your nose, or sneeze.
  7. Wash your hands if you have played with a pet animal.
  8. Wash your hands every time you come in the house from outside.

It would be a fun project to draw a picture each day showing one of the reasons to wash your hands. After you have drawn all eight pictures, I think you will remember all of the times you need to wash your hands, and you can tell your other family members what you learned about hand-washing.

Do you wonder why washing your hands makes you a hero? It is because every time you wash your hands you are killing germs that could make someone else in your house sick. Helping to keep your family safe makes you a very special hero.

Copyright Judith Hayes 2020

Document Your Experience with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Your Experience with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Everyone in the United States and around the world is experiencing a pandemic caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Record all your experiences, and write about the following questions if they apply to your family. This will eventually be a part of history, and your recorded experience will tell your descendants more than any history book can ever provide.

  1. Did your business close and allow employees to work from home?
  2. Did your children’s school close? Were they required to attend online classes? How did it affect your family?
  3. Was anyone in your family tested for COVID-19 and found to have the virus?
  4. Did you stock up on toilet paper, tissues, and cough medicine? What foods were readily available, and what shortages were there? Write about what you did to be sire you had plenty of supplies on hand.
  5. Share personal experience that took place during this crisis.
  6. Write what it was like in your home town during this crisis.
  7. Write about your feelings during this time. Did you feel it was blown out of proportion? Were you afraid for your family? Write about your emotions during this time. Did you experience uncertainty for the future of you and your family? Were you cool. calm, and collected? Your ancestors will want to know.
  8. Save newspaper articles, print out Internet information, and take photos of interesting scenes related to the pandemic. (lines outside of grocery stores, window signs listing restrictions, empty streets, closed businesses, and similar items)
  9. Did your children have a difficult time coping with their school and social lives being disrupted? What things did you do to help them adjust?
  10. Wearing masks was mandated for most activities taking place outside the home as well as in all public places. Did anyone in your family have difficulty wearing masks due to health conditions, panic attacks, or other reasons? How did you deal with it.
  11. Political parties disagreed on the steps to take to bring the pandemic to an end. Write your views and how you felt about the how things were handled.
  12. Write about any rallies, marches, protests, and other civil actions that took place relating to the closing of businesses, schools, and activities that were shutdown due to the virus.
  13. During this time, elections were being held for president. Include any political activities you were involved in and your feelings about the political effects on/of the pandemic.
  14. How did Covid-19 change your life and that of your family?
Today is the Day to Remember Last Year and Write it Down

Today is the Day to Remember Last Year and Write it Down

family historyBegin the new year by recording the last. If you didn’t keep a journal last year, you can still record all of the important events and share them in your memoir.

What important events happened in the past year?

  • Did you graduate from college?
  • Did you get engaged?
  • Did you become a grandparent?
  • Did you win an award?
  • Did you purchase a winning lottery ticket?
  • Did you get a new job or a promotion at your present job?

Everything that happened this year is of interest to future generations. You may choose to put a list of events for each month in a journal style such as the following example.


Jan. 1st – We celebrated the New Year as a family. We went to a fireworks display at the park, came home and had pizza at 10pm. The kids (use names) were excited to be able to stay up till midnight to welcome the New Year!


February 14th – Valentine’s Day was very exciting. Bob proposed and I accepted!


March 8th – They say March comes in like a lion and it sure did. We had a big ice storm with downed trees and 2 days without power.

You get the idea. List the things of importance and their date for each month.

Keep working and before you know it, your family’s story will be well on its way.

Historic Events Taking Place In Your Lifetime

Historic Events Taking Place In Your Lifetime

You Are A BookYou are living during historic times. Yes, it is true. Twenty-five years from now, today will be history. Include some current events in your story. Maybe your favorite football team won the Super Bowl or perhaps a city in your state was chosen to host a World’s Fair or the Summer Olympics. Your ancestors will enjoy newsy information. They will also want to know your take on other events including weather disasters, political elections, terrorism, wars, and other important world-wide events. Chances are the things you include will not be in the text books your great grandchildren read in school years from now.

In clear sleeves, you can save newspaper or magazine articles about important events. But remember, the most important commentary about the world in which you live, is what you write. Your ancestors want to know how it affected your life, and they want to know how you personally felt about the events and the people involved. History is happening every day, and you are part of it. Write it down for future generations.


Photographs Help Write YOUR Life Story

Photographs Help Write YOUR Life Story

Photographs Are Important!

Your descendants will want to see photographs of you, your home, your parents, siblings, pets, vacations, and more. You can insert photographs where they apply to a specific story such as a vacation, birthday party, or school graduation. You can also create an album in the back of your book, which is organized by years, events, or family members. Set it up the way you feel is the easiest for your descendants to follow. Be sure to identify everyone in a photo and the location and year it was taken. Write the information on the back of the original photos so there is always a record for whoever ends up with them in later years. Don’t write Uncle Don, Aunt Beth, cousins Billy and Joe. PLEASE remember to always include the last name and place the woman’s maiden name in parenthesis. On the back of the photo draw a circle that corresponds to each person in the photograph. Assign a number, and write a list of the numbers and names of everyone in the photograph. If there isn’t room on the back of the photograph, write everything on a small piece of paper you can glue to the back edge of the picture.

If you would like to have pictures of the area where you grew up in the 30s, 40s, 50s, or later, there are a number of excellent online sources for vintage photographs.  You also can find images of things no longer used today such as an icebox, a wringer washing machine, a washboard, cradle, or wooden toys. Other types of vintage images you might be interested in are movie stars, entertainers, old cars, trains, colleges, and points of interest that were important to you and your family. Vintage photos from WWI and WWII, the Civil War, Spanish American War, Korean Conflict, and Viet Nam War can also be found. Maps can also illustrate a location and time period. Don’t use too many photos that aren’t family, but do use those that complement that story you are sharing.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge Circa 1913   (a panorama view)

The Library of Congress ( has an extensive collection of photographs available online. Just a few of the categories include:

  • Civil War
  • Great Depression
  • African American
  • American Indian (Edward S. Curtis)
  • Civil War and Post Civil War (Matthew Brady Collection)
  • World Travel Photos (Frank and Frances Carpenter)
  • Southern Architecture
  • Daguerreotypes
  • Large Selection of Vintage Panorama Photographs
  • Graphic Arts (Vintage – Includes some Political)
  • Famous Buildings and Points of Interest
  • Transportation
  • Hundreds of thousands of vintage photographs, maps, graphics, posters, etc.

Additional Sources For Vintage Photographs   (Mostly other countries)

An Internet search will turn up more sites if you don’t find what you need in these websites.

Photographs will enhance your story by providing visuals of people, places, and things that no longer exist. Use your own as much as possible, but it’s perfectly okay to use vintage photographs from other sources as long as you identify them as such.

Email me if you have any questions regarding the use of photographs.

3 Tips When Writing YOUR Story

3 Tips When Writing YOUR Story

Author Judith HayesONE: Writing your story is not as daunting a task as it might seem. Too often we make things hard for ourselves by trying to do things perfectly. That isn’t necessary. When writing your story for your family, the most important thing is to make it full of interesting facts and information about your life. You may not remember what year you and your best friend pulled a prank on her brother, but the story isn’t dependent on the date. If you kept a diary or journal at different times in your life, you may find dates and place names relating to your story, but they aren’t necessary. You can tell stories without dates by saying things similar to the following:

One summer, when I was a teenager, my best friend and I pulled a hilarious prank on her brother. (follow with the story)

One Christmas eve, when I was quite young, I thought I heard Santa on the roof. (follow with the story)

One summer, when I was in junior high school, my parents rented a camp on a pretty lake somewhere in New Hampshire. We had some great adventures that summer that I want to share with you. (follow with the story)

Exact details are not necessary to tell a fun story about yourself. Don’t leave something special out of your book because you are unsure of a date or a name. Simply say something like, “I don’t remember the year, but I was still in grammar school when it happened. (follow with the story)

TWO: Don’t try and write your life in the order of events. Write about people, experiences, trips, and important life events as you think of them. This is why it is helpful to have a notebook handy to jot things down as you remember them. You can put all your notes, memories, and stories into the order you choose later on in the process. If you are using a computer for your notes, make a main folder to hold everything and individual folders for various topics, such as holiday celebrations, school days, birthdays, best friends, hobbies, vacations, and more. This will make it easy to assemble our book quickly when you are ready to put it in its final form.

THREE:  Be sure you are writing as YOU and not as an observer. A women sent me a bit from the book she was Judith Hayes, writerwriting for her children and grandchildren for a critique. I found in many instances she wrote as an observer. When she tells about a school field-trip that turned into quite an adventure when a bear showed up at their picnic, she wrote it like a news story. She related the facts, but nothing about her personally until the last sentence when she said, “I was one of the kids on the field-trip.” I encouraged her to write it differently and include her emotions and feelings as a participant in the story. This time the story became exciting. She gave me her permission to include a bit of this story. One sentence read, “My heart was pounding and I thought I would pee my pants. We were all trying to be quiet and not move. Suddenly our teacher grabbed her berry pail and started banging on it and told us to do the same with ours. When we were all banging the buckets, that old bear took off running! When it was all over, we laughed and cried and laughed some more. Don’t tell anyone, but your old granny did pee her pants that day, but I wasn’t the only one!” It’s easy to see how this little story is far more exiting and interesting than the original news report style. Plus, the reader now knows Granny’s little secret.

Future generations want to know YOU, not just about you. Put lots of your personality into the stories. Say what makes you sad, mad, happy, and silly. Don’t just write a book about you… remember, YOU are the book!




Don’t Use Figures Of Speech (or hashtags)

Don’t Use Figures Of Speech (or hashtags)

That might seem like a strange comment. After all, writers use figures of speech all the time to enhance their stories and articles. BUT, they are writing for an audience living today and who know what these expressions mean. Figures of speech use words in an imaginative way. – Example: His attitude was as cold as ice. – When your gr. grandchildren read your personal or family history twenty or thirty years from now, that statement many not mean anything and just confuse them. Expressions change from one generation to the next.

Judith Hayes - You Are A BookTechnology terms will change too, as will social media lingo. If you choose to talk about enjoying social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, be sure you explain what the expression you use mean. People may not be using hashtags (#) in 5 years, let alone in 20. Don’t say that you used #bluebling at the end of all your tweets unless you explain what Twitter and Tweets are (or were) and how and why hashtags (#) were used.

Everything you include in your personal story should be clear for future generations. Simple explanations go a long way to make your story something your great grandchildren will love to hear over and over.

Spelling Matters

Spelling Matters

You Are A BookSince the Internet, people have become more lazy in their spelling habits. While abbreviating terms and words may seem like fun when texting, tweeting, and communicating on social media, spelling correctly in your book is important. If you use Microsoft Word, Open Office, or a similar word processing program, the spell checker will catch some errors and typos, but it won’t catch them all. Many typos contain words that are spelled correctly but are the wrong form of the word.

One common example is “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”  The proper uses of these three words that all sound the same, are as follows:

There – (a place, location, destination) We are going there after we get out of work.

Their – (possessive) It is their car. The package is theirs.

They’re (contraction ) They are the owners. –  They’re the owners.

You can buy a dictionary or use a good online dictionary, such as I think it’s smart to have both options available as you won’t always be online while you are preparing materials for your book.

Correct Spelling Of Places, Cities, Streets, and Names

You Are A BookCity and street names can sometimes have unusual spellings. Check all location spellings on a map to be sure they are correct. Many times a city, street, or building may be named after a person. We are a country built on immigration, which can mean street names may be difficult to spell for people not familiar with them. There are also different spellings of both first and last names that are pronounced the same way. There are hundreds of names this could apply to. Here are just a few.


Johnson – Johnsen – Jonsen

Hayes – Hays

Hanson – Hansen

Sheryl – Cheryl

John – Jon

Alicia – Alisia

Leanne – Leigh Ann – Leann

Always double check your spelling and be sure to use the right form of the word. We’ll have more on WORDS in another post. So keep checking back!


Judith Hayes

Tools For Organizing

Tools For Organizing

You Are A BookYour story can be written as a diary or journal, a story, a memoir, or a genealogy styled book. There are many self-publishers that will let you print and purchase a single book, or one for every member of the family. If your book is written in such a way that people outside your family will find it interesting, you can print extra copies to sell. I will be providing the names of some companies providing these services in a later post. Here is what you need to get started:

  • File box and folders
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Photo storage box for older photos
  • CD or memory stick for digital photos and scanned photographs
  • Your memory and that of older family members who knew you as a child. (They will tell you the naughty things you did as well as the good ones)


Happy Writing
Judith Hayes

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting started on any project is the hardest part. Once you are underway, it will be much easier. There are some supplies that will help you get and stay organized. If you are writing your story without any genealogy references, the following items will be helpful.

You Are A Book

  • Spiral notebooks to organize your life by years, events, family stories, holidays, and more
  • Photographs from birth to the present (Choose sharp, clear photos)
  • A scanner to load printed photos into your computer (you can also have them loaded onto a CD if you don’t have a scanner
  • Computer and storage disks
  • A place to work that’s quiet
  • The desire to leave the gift of YOU to future generations of family

Once you get started, you won’t want to stop!


Happy Writing
Judith Hayes