Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fishin' & Learnin'n {Free Download}

I am a big fan of having one activity that can be used to teach multiple objectives. It’s a big perk, if that activity will grow with my child & I can use it at multiple stages of cognitive development. And if it is seasonally exciting, well then I. Am. Sold. This is one of those activities, and I have it for you today FREE!  Let me share with you all of the ways we use this in our home.Roll Add Write Count Coral Goldfish- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool

First get the free download, print, and laminate (or put into a page protector). We like to use this at the end of our school day, right before snack time.  As soon as we are done, we use the goldfish as a yummy snack!DSC_0077DSC_0082

Roll. Use foam dice to roll a number in the top 2 boxes. If your child is not counting above 6 yet, you can use a single dice.

Add. Ask your child to count up the dots, or to add them together for a sum. If you’re past addition, try subtraction. Comparisons also work great here (write greater than or less than on the sheet, or “write the number of the dice with more dots”).

Write. Your child could write the sum as a digit or a word, both numbers presented on each dice, or trace the digit or word. We use dry erase markers since they erase well on the laminated material.

Count. Using goldfish, get your child to count out the number that was presented on the dice and put them in the coral.

Fun. Enjoy!!!!

If you think your child would enjoy learning with this activity (and snack) go here for the free download!DSC_0083

xoxo Darby

Monday, July 16, 2018

Books For Motherhood {The Early Years}

Books for motherhood. Does that sound like an oxymoron to you? It does for me.  I buy SO many books for my kids, and I'm reading to them constantly, but let me tell you something: I struggle A LOT with finding time for myself to read & to grow myself.  It is a major challenge for me.  I love reading and I want to model a lifestyle of reading for my children, but it. is. hard.  Finding time to read, is one thing, but finding time to read and not fall asleep is an entirely different battle.  Despite the challenge, I want my kids to see me reading, so I'm working hard at it.  I've round up some of my favorite books that I always come back to for various reasons in three different categories: infertility & pregnancy, the early years, and homeschooling.  I've made this a 3-part series so that my brain isn't overwhelmed.  Today, I'm tackling my favorite books on the early years.
Also in this series:
Before I really start I have to say: parenting books are not my thing.  I'm NOT a big parenting book person. Parenting books are overwhelming, over the top, unrealistic, don't apply to me, make me feel worse about myself, or I just plain don't agree with the presented philosophy.  All that to say, I'm very selective about what book I'm actually going to try really hard to read.  I don't have a lot of time so I'm not going to waste it on just any book.  Occasionally I find a gem of a book that works really well for me and these are the ones I'm sharing with you today.

This first book goes in all of the categories.  I can't tell you how many copies of this book I have gifted to others, because it addresses ALL of life's issues.  The Greatest Book of all time, the Bible. I like this one just because it's pretty :-) There is a devotional that goes with it that I just ordered to try.51V5GmRFX7L._SX399_BO1,204,203,200_Books on The Early Years- Life with the Hawleys
The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter: Despite the title of this book, I have been known to claim before that motherhood has made me dumber.  Ha!  What I really mean is that sleep deprivation certainly has taken it's toll on me before, but to be honest, the experience of pregnancy and motherhood has changed my brain to make me smarter and more equipped to raise children.  The neuroscientist side of me absolutely loves this book and how it explains how the brain changes as a result of this motherhood experience (all based in statistical evidence).  I already love the brain but every time I learn something new about it, I am even more enamored in the divine complexities of the best organ in the human body, and I am able to admire the brilliancy of The Great Creator.

Bringing Up Bebe: Perhaps I should have put this book in the pregnancy section to read before baby arrives? Yeah probably.  Okay, well it's here now. I love this book for the comparison of the vast cultural differences in parenting.  I would say that not only do I prefer French food, but I also prefer their parenting techniques.  I highly recommend this fun and insightful book.

Loving the Little Years: The infant months are hard because you're just getting to know this new little human and you're tired.  But let me tell you, it gets MUCH harder when they can talk.  Their energy levels go up, they're mobile, and get this, they have their own  opinions.  It's like they're real little humans! What?! Sarcasm aside, the early years are really challenging.  And sometimes it is hard to find joy in the mundane.  This book is a great place to start if you're realizing that your tiny little human can talk, move, and form their own opinions, and you're struggling with the continuous correction and redirecting in parenting.

Daily Guidepost for the First Year of Motherhood: This is similar to the pregnancy devotional I mentioned in my list of pregnancy books, in that there is a verse of scripture & a short devotion for every day of the first year of motherhood.  I liked how short it was because sometimes I needed a BIG dose of God in a short amount of time.  This did the trick to make sure I was in conversation with Him while figuring out my new role as a mama.  Also what is neat about this devotion, is that each day follows the development of the child to meet you where you are during that first year.  I have given this as gifts to new mamas several times.

Don't Make Me Count to Three: You've seen this book before if you've been around here for a while.  We love how this book presents a biblical perspective for heart training, character development, & discipline.  Our main concern with disciplining in our home is addressing the heart of the child.  Behavior is simply a reflection of what is going on in the heart so it is imperative for us to address the heart first with biblical principals.  "Behavior is simply what alerts you to your child's need for correction.  Don't allow the desire of changed behavior to replace your desire for a changed heart...Teaching children only to change their outward behavior is no more commendable than teaching a seal to jump through a hoop...When we focus on our children's outside behavior and neglect what is inside, we will cause our children to become manipulators."  In order to address the heart, communication is necessary and we really appreciate how it is presented in this book.

Gentle Babies:  I know I mentioned this book in the pregnancy section, but maybe that is just a testament to how much I really do like this book and use it all. the. time! I love this reference guide for my crunchy life.  It's a great resource for tips on how to use oils safely with pregnancy, labor, delivery, infants, & children. I have used this also to promote a calm environment when I have a lot of little ones running around (calm for me & for them!)

There are a lot of great books out there but these are definitely my favorites right now.  What others have you come across that you would add to this list or recommend for me to read?

Don't forget to check out my other book recommendations:


Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review; I genuinely enjoy these books.
xoxo Darby

Friday, July 13, 2018

An Interview? Are you Sure?

You may have seen me post on Instagram or Facebook last week, but in case you haven't, I wanted to share it again with you here, I mean it is about my blog to start with so that only make sense, right?  I was interviewed by Houston Voyage Magazine!  I'm incredibly honored and humbled that anyone would find my simple life or blog in the least bit entertaining or inspiring.  I'm so very grateful for the opportunity and I wanted to share the interview with you today (here).
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Eggplant Gratin

I remember the first time I made this for my husband.  We were newlyweds and he had never had eggplant before.  I decided that it was time to change that.  After this, I can honestly tell you that he is now a fan of eggplant (with cheese).Eggplant Gratin- Life with the Hawleys
From the Kitchen of Darby Hawley
Ingredients:
EVOO
3/4 lb eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs Parmesan, grated
salt
ground black pepper
1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Repeat for all eggplant slices.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 tsp salt, & 1/8 tsp pepper.
3. In an oven-save baking dish, place a layer eggplant slices, then sprinkle with the ricotta mixture, & spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Repeat and then top with the remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned.
4. Enjoy!
xoxo Darby

Monday, July 9, 2018

Books For Motherhood {Infertility & Pregnancy}

Books for motherhood. Does that sound like an oxymoron to you? It does for me.  I buy SO many books for my kids, and I'm reading to them constantly, but let me tell you something: I struggle A LOT with finding time for myself to read & to grow myself.  It is a major challenge for me.  I love reading and I want to model a lifestyle of reading for my children, but it. is. hard.  Finding time to read, is one thing, but finding time to read and not fall asleep is an entirely different battle.  Despite the challenge, I want my kids to see me reading, so I'm working hard at it.  I've round up some of my favorite books that I always come back to for various reasons in three different categories: infertility & pregnancy, the early years, and homeschooling.  I'm going to make this a 3-part series so that my brain isn't overwhelmed.

Also in this series:
Books for Motherhood- Life with the Hawleys
Before I really start I have to say: parenting books are not my thing.  I'm NOT a big parenting book person. Parenting books are overwhelming, over the top, unrealistic, don't apply to me, make me feel worse about myself, or I just plain don't agree with the presented philosophy.  All that to say, I'm very selective about what book I'm actually going to try really hard to read.  I don't have a lot of time so I'm not going to waste it on just any book.  Occasionally I find a gem of a book that works really well for me and these are the ones I'm sharing with you today.

This first book goes in all of the categories.  I can't tell you how many copies of this book I have gifted to others, because it addresses ALL of life's issues.  The Greatest Book of all time, the Bible. I like this one just because it's pretty :-) There is a devotional that goes with it that I have yet to try, but I really want to.51V5GmRFX7L._SX399_BO1,204,203,200_
Books on Infertility and Pregnancy- Life with the Hawleys
Empty Womb Aching Heart: I read this after we lost our first baby. (More on our story of infertility here) I loved this book and I always recommend it to those I know struggling with fertility; I think I’ve even referred to it around here as “Chicken Soup for the Infertile Soul”, because it’s such a great book that offers so many different kinds of stories on infertility.  What I really liked about this book and why it provided me comfort was that these stories were real, nothing was sugar coated, raw emotions were shared, and not everyone ended up with a baby.  To me this book was comforting because it was more realistic, and not just stories with fairy tale endings.

Feed Your Fertility: After it took 4 years to get our first child, I was ready to try just about anything for our next child.  When we had confirmation that it was time to start trying to grow our family again.  To prepare my body I did all of the regular things (exercise, eat right, prenatal vitamins, blah blah blah you know the drill), but I also read and applied this book which removes all toxins from your environment (everything from changing your water source, cosmetics, cleaners, everything!).  I figured even if this didn’t help us conceive they were still healthy measures to take to create a safer environment in our home. The road to our next child was MUCH shorter (like 3 years and 11 months shorter), and it may or may not have been due to this, but I always recommend it just in case. Can't hurt!

Your Pregnancy Devotional: 280 Days of Prayer and Inspiration: This is a short devotional for each day of pregnancy.  Each day has a verse of scripture and devotional to pray over your baby.  When I was pregnant it was so wonderful to start each morning, me and baby, together with the Lord.  It is my favorite part of the day.

Babyproofing Your Marriage: I put this book in this category of books, and not the next one (The Early Years) strategically.  If you are pregnant now, go ahead and read this.  Don't wait until you're exhausted and in the thick of it to read the book.  Be proactive and not reactive.  Read it now before the baby arrives so that you're prepared and are sleeping (even if you think getting up a lot to pee isn't sleeping, I promise it is compared to what you're about to experience).  This will help you know what to expect in how your relationship will change after the birth of the baby.  Don't just read pregnancy books.  Pregnancy is very short.  Motherhood is MUCH longer.  Read for motherhood.

Gentle Babies: I love this reference guide for my crunchy life.  It's a great resource for tips on how to use oils safely with pregnancy, labor, delivery, infants, & children.

Okay, these are my favorites. 
What others have you come across that you would add to this list or recommend for me to read?

Don't forget to check out my other book recommendations:
The Early Years

Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review; I genuinely enjoy these books.
xoxo Darby

Friday, July 6, 2018

Measuring Up! Three Engaging Preschool Activities

We've been learning about all kinds of tools used for measurement, and it has been a really fun, hands-on learning experience.  Not only that, it has enabled my kids to help out more in the kitchen as we cook & as the Mr. works on our home.  Today I want to share THREE different ways we have been practicing measurement around our house.Measuring Up- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
1. The first activity we did, was before it got too hot outside (um hello summer in Houston!).  Using a dry erase board, Dutch & I wrote down a bunch of things we thought we might find outside.  This is great because it taps into what schemes he has for outside & encourages him to make predictions.  Then using a measuring tape, we went outside to measure the items we wrote down, and Dutch recorded how long everything was.  Then we compared the length of items ("the stick is longer than the rock")DSC_0523
2.  We were learning the letter 'o' at the beginning of the summer, our a/c died (ugghhhhhhhhhh).  Thankfully I had already purchased some kinetic sand for when we were learning about the ocean, so I pulled it out and we actually pretended we were at the beach because it was so hot in our house (I thank the Lord ev-er-y-day for our new air conditioner!).  We used measuring scoops to build sand castles, talk about sizes, & size comparisons ("there are 4 1/4 cups in a full cup", "a cup is bigger than a 1/2 cup", "let's use 2 cups to build a strong base for a sand castle", etc.).

Sidebar- I loath real beach sand so I put off buying kinetic sand for years.  I'm kicking myself now, because it really is so cool.  It's sticky, like it sticks together, but it doesn't stick to your hands.  It is also really cool to handle, holds its shape, & is a breeze to clean up.  Don't be scared of it like I was!DSC_0306DSC_0307
3. I know that I have already shared my new obsession with water beads with y'all, but I found another way to use them!  Since we used measuring cups with the kinetic sand, I thought it would be fun to use measuring spoons with our water beads for practice.  And to be honest, to make the water beads you need a measuring spoon, so that is already a fun way to use the spoons to create and track the growth of the water beads.  Then when the beads are full size, my kids use the spoons to measure out the beads.20180606_09511920180606_095038
These three activities have been such fun and engaging ways to introduce units of measurement.  These activities are so hands-on that my kids don't have a chance to get board & enjoy learning and the sensory play.
Have you come across some fun ways to practice measurement in your home with your preschoolers? Please share your ideas with me!
xoxo Darby

Monday, July 2, 2018

Red, White, & Blue 2018

I'm signing out for a few days as we celebrate our Nation.  I pray that you have a great time with friends & family!fourth-of-july-2458716_1920

xoxo Darby

Friday, June 29, 2018

Father's Day 2018 ~ A Video

I'm sure if you follow me on Instagram you saw that we went to the Ranch to celebrate Father's Day this year.  Instead of a gift, I recorded the weekend and put it together for the Mr.  It's not perfect, but I'm not a professional lol  I think he appreciated this video and I wanted to share it with y'all also.

xoxo Darby

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

America & Our World: Summer Books & Activities

There are so many occasions throughout the summer to talk about not only our own country, but also the world with our kids.  I figured the end of June & beginning of July would be a great month to learn the letter 'w' as we focus on our world, geography, cities & capitals, different cultures, and, of course, American history.  I shared some manipulatives that we are using to study America here already, but today I want to share our favorite books and activities we are using to learn about our world.America & Our World- Summer Books and Activities- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
I love a box of books arriving at my doorstep; not much better than that folks!  So I will start with the books we are using for this unit.  I found several of these "Who Was" chapter books at Costco (but I'm seeing them several dollars cheaper on Amazon right now).  There are many versions of these (and I may or may not have bought every. single. one.).  These books are great for history read alouds: the chapters are not really long & there are pictures.  I selected these to focus on this month.DSC_0389
For books to focus on your own country, I had all of these books already (except the two 50 states books, which are new releases), and I just needed to pull these off the book shelf and put into a basket for the kids.  I don't know what it is about Americanly, but it makes me cry every time I read it.  I have no control over my tears when I read it!  DSC_0390
I absolutely love the new State Capitals book; probably my favorite right now.  There is a page for each state.  On the page there are all of the major landmarks in the state, the bird, flag, flower, animal, & geographic location for each state with beautiful illustrations.  I love this one!DSC_0391
Since we are talking about the letter 'w' I thought it would be great to learn about our world.  We've already spent significant time talking about oceans, land, moons, space, etc., so with this unit I really wanted to focus on the different continents.  We're focusing on how many and where the different continents are, as well as what life looks like on that continent.  Who is worshiped? What do they do for transportation? What does school look like? What is the traditional attire?  I selected these three books to address those topics.DSC_0395
Additionally I wanted to practice some sight words for each continent, and learn where animals live.  Penguins don't live everywhere, so where in the world can they be found in their natural habitat?DSC_0392
Since I was introducing a lot of new continents and cultures, I thought the My Friend Puzzle would be great, and it did not disappoint.  For me it is important to introduce my kids to diversity early so that they are able to celebrate everyone's specialties.  What I love about this wooden puzzle, aside from the great matching concept, is that it illustrates that we are different.  Different shirts. Different shoes. Different faces.  Some of us have wheel chairs or glasses, and some of us have earrings.  This puzzle opened so many doors into conversations about differences.  God created us all uniquely & perfectly and we get to talk about and celebrate these differences with this puzzle.  Great tool for heart training, character development, & of course, differences around the world.DSC_0368
For the geographical aspect of the world and our country I purchased a few new hands-on items.  I purchased this globe puzzle where we could practice locating and labeling each continent. DSC_0382
I purchased these Geoblocks at the homeschool convention at the end of May with this letter 'w' unit in mind.  There are 20 wooden blocks that each focus on a country.  The blocks have something unique to that country on all sides, and then when placed all together, on the same side, the blocks make the world map.  The sap in me loves this; it takes all of us to make up the world.DSC_0379
At the convention I also picked up an inflatable globe. We will use this ball to pass to answer a question about the world.  I also pulled out our Question & Answers book about the World.  This is a book that specifically answers the who, what, when, where, and how, of our world........now that is a lot of 'w's'.  Brilliant, right?!  I purchased this World Map Learning Map and Wax Crayons, several months ago for this unit.  We're going to use these crayons to locate and check-off countries and continents.  We have several of these learning mats and they're awesome.  I highly recommend them.DSC_0376
For our own country, I purchased this 50 states magnetic map.  It comes with a paper map, and on the mat the capital is listed on each state instead of the state name.  The magnets have the state name and an image for that state.  If you have a beginner, they could simply just try to match up the shapes of the magnets to the shapes on the map, and later you can introduce the states and capitals.  Right now we're also learning the 50 States Song (the same one I learned in elementary school).DSC_0399
I don't know why this never occurred to me to teach, but the first time we practiced with the magnetic map I started talking about the compass rose and cardinal directions.....as if a 2 and 4 year old know what that is?!?!?!  Later during nap time I prepped some material to go over that the next time we pulled out the map.  DSC_0402
That is all of the new additions to our 'w' unit, and here are some of the ways we are using the manipulatives I posted about before (here) to practice fine motor skills, sequencing, size comparisons, & patterns.  For more ideas click here.DSC_0403DSC_0326DSC_0358DSC_0362DSC_0364
Phew, that's a lot keeping us busy right now.  A lot of seasonally relevant and fun learning this summer.  What are you learning about this summer with your littles? Have you come across or tried any products that might fit well into this unit?
xoxo Darby

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mushroom Dutch Baby with Chorizo Potatoes

Have you ever heard of a Dutch baby? It's basically a fluffy German pancake, sweet or savory.  I feel like I, above all, having a son named Dutch should have made one before.  But nope. Never tried it.  I decided that that needed to change stat!  I thought that Dutch would get so excited having a dish named after him, but he was not impressed with the name at all. Ha!  We had this for dinner (or brinner?), but let me tell you, this as leftovers for breakfast the next day is spot on.  This was every bit as tasty as this image, I promise!  You have to try this soon (So fast too......start to sitting at the table was 40 minutes!Mushroom Dutch Baby with Chorizo Potatoes- Life with the HawleysFrom the Kitchen of Darby Hawley

Ingredients:

4 potatoes (about 1 lb)

1/4 cup EVOO

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

sea salt

ground pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

7 eggs

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole milk

chopped fresh parsley

1 lb ground chorizo


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Poke several holes in the potatoes with a fork & microwave until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Don't touch them when they're done; they will be hot.  This might seem obvious, but I forget every. single. time.

2. Heat 2 tbs EVOO in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until browned (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until just softened, about 1 minute. Whisk 3 eggs, 1 tbs EVOO, the flour, milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl. Pour over the mushrooms and sprinkle with the parsley. Transfer to the oven and bake until puffed and browned around the edges, about 20 minutes.

3. While the mushrooms are in the oven, combine the remaining 1 tbs EVOO & the chorizo in another large nonstick skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Chop the potatoes into bite-size pieces and add to the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the potatoes are slightly crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Make 4 openings in the potato/chorizo mixture and crack an egg into each spot; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, 5-ish minutes.

5. When the Dutch baby in the oven is ready it will pull from the sides a bit and be a little puffy.  Cut it into wedges and serve with the potatoes, chorizo, eggs, & a sprinkle of parsley.

6. Enjoy!DSC_0351

xoxo Darby

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dutch's 4th birthday

Last year for Dutch's 3rd birthday we did something a little different: we scrapped all parties, and just had a day focused on the things he likes.  It was an awesome & super fun day.  There was minimal planning, no goodie bags to pack, no moon bounce to rent, no invitations to mail, no balloons to purchase, or anything over the top.  We had a relaxed day focused on him, and it was such a fun birthday for everyone that we decided to do the exact same thing this year.  I highly recommend this type of birthday to everyone lol

This year, the entire day revolved around our 2 o'clock appointment at the fire station (which was a surprise for Dutch).  We started the day with breakfast tacos & red donuts (Dutch loves anything and everything red, because.....fire trucks are red, of course).  We went to the park to feed the ducks, fly his kite, play at the splash pad, & ride the train.  For lunch we went to Chuy's for tacos, and headed home for a dress change.20180602_10103320180602_101845
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Dutch had no idea that we were going to the fire station, so we came home and got him dressed in his fireman gear.  If you know Dutch, then you know the boy just loves everything fireman.  We told him that we were going to a fire station to look at the firetrucks.......you would have thought we told him he won the lottery; he was ecstatic.  He toured the station, told all of the firemen what everything was on the trucks (he genuinely impressed them with his knowledge of the trucks, specific buttons, and gear).  He also played Twenty-One Questions (read: FOUR Billion Questions) with them.  Sidebar: if this fireman gig doesn't work out for him, he might want to consider being a detective or a scientist.  His mind is very focused and inquisitive.  We met the Chef and sat in the trucks, and looked the hoses and ladders.  He was thrilled and delighted beyond belief. (We've even done a firefighter unit before)20180604_145746DSC_0005DSC_0009DSC_0015DSC_0019DSC_0024
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We came home and the kids napped.  That evening we ordered pizza & he opened gifts that our families sent him.  I tried my hand at making a strawberry firetruck cake, per the birthday boy's request.  The Mr. had a great idea of using Dutch's hockey pucks for tires on the cake.  Pure genius if you ask me.DSC_0062
It was a fantastic day doing all the things Dutch loves, and I so much enjoyed watching him smile all day long.  This has been a year of true growth, physically, cognitively, and spiritually for him, and the joy it brings me to watch him develop overwhelms me.  I do not comprehend why I get to be his mother, but I am honored and grateful.  Dutchie, my sweet fireman, I love you with every cell in my body and I am so grateful I got to spend your 4th birthday with you.  I continue to pray that you will have decades of spectacular birthdays, and that as you age, each day you grow closer and closer to the Lord. Love, Mama
xoxo Darby
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