Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Small Things: May 2018

If we were to go for coffee, either in a coffee shop by ourselves or around my kitchen table, what would I tell you?  I would share with you about the small things in my life that are just making life easier or more joyful.
recap: January ~ February ~ March ~ AprilThe Small Things- Life with the Hawleys
I'm going to be very honest here, the two things that I'm about to share with you, I'm a bit embarrassed about.  I honestly can't believe that not only am I sharing this, but that it is actually true?!?!?!  I feel very "Monica" right now, but these two things are bringing me insane amounts of joy right now.

So we have recently finished our home renovation for this spring. All of the projects are done, but one of the main projects was updating our bathroom.  We had glass doors added to the shower.  Having glass doors? Yes, nice and wonderful.  Being done with the reno? Even better.  But my favorite part? The embarrassing one? How much I look forward to using the squeegee on the glass doors when I'm done showering.  Oh. my. goodness. The instant gratification of seeing that glass cleaned is thrilling.  It's a bit embarrassing that the entire renovation may have been spared if only I had a squeegee......71Bm6f7cHNL._SL1500_
And to follow that up, new towels. Oh my stars.  I was at Costco right before my sister came in April and I saw these towels and I thought I would just test them out.  Just try them.  It's hard to find good towels so I really didn't have that high of hope.  They were soft and the label said that they would "bloom" upon the first wash.  Well let me tell you, that label did not lie!  Bloom they did!  These are such sturdy but fluffy towels.  I feel like that is a weird description to say about a towel but they are really soft and don't pill.  They don't loose their fluff at all and still absorb water so well. It is a very well crafted towel; it feels so luxurious and expensive, and y'all I only paid $7 for each!!!  If you're in the market for new towels, and hey even if you aren't, get these towels!41Fb2BVjj L
I promise this post, of all the posts I've written, proves that sometimes it really is just the small stuff in life that makes the minutia bearable. Am I right, or am I right?!

Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not compensated for these products, I just really like them.

xoxo Darby

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sample 'S' Unit for Preschoolers

A couple weeks ago y'all submitted questions for me, & I answered them; but one of the questions I wanted to follow-up on a little more thoroughly today.  Several of you were interested in how I decide what are our age-appropriate learning objectives.  You can read more about that here, but bottom-line, trial and error, and observation.

One of the letters we learned in March was the letter 'S'.  I picked this letter because I knew that we would have several opportunities to use that letter with St. Patrick's Day & spring. Now I will be the first to admit that I am an ambitious planner.  I really go down a rabbit trail every. single. time.  When I plan a lesson, it starts out as something as simple as the letter 'S', and let me tell you, that is not how it turns out (i.e. I'm writing a blog post about the letter 'S' lol).  I thought that I would go ahead & share with you what a typical unit for our homeschool looks like. Sample Unit S- Life with the HawleysHawley Homeschool
I find with my kids, at this age of cognitive development, if we have all of our objectives with a similar theme (like the letter 'S'), we get a lot of reinforcement from various avenues & it sticks.  For us right now, and I realize that this could change tomorrow, I pick a letter for every 2 weeks.  The letter I select is not in alphabetical order.  I pick a letter that will get a lot of exposure at that time (ex: in the fall we did 'F' & 'P' because we would see "fall" and "pumpkins" a lot and get a lot of practice. At Christmas we did 'J' for "Jesus".  At Easter we did 'E' get the idea). 

For each unit of letters, each child has a book unit that will some how tie back to the letter, and then I will select bible stories, science activities, life skills, math concepts, fine motor skills, and language arts objectives that go with that letter.  I try to enhance our learning of letters/numbers in every category to really reinforce what we're learning, but also expand areas for learning.  This is what we learned with the letter 'S':

We discussed the seasons.  In a previous month we learned the months of the year so now we were able to break down those months into seasons (free download here).  Since we already knew our months, weather, & learned which months corresponded to specific seasons (free download here), we were then able to discuss typical weather patterns associated with each season.  Talking about months of the year, and the seasons, also led to learning the seven days of the week. (free download here).DSC_0155DSC_0156DSC_0157DSC_0160
Since we got to talk about the seasons & spring, it only made since to next learning about seeds & sprouts.  Dutch worked with me in the garden to plant some herbs.  We have been able to continually reinforce this whenever we go out to water the plants.  This was also a great  opportunity for conversations about health, nutrition, protecting the earth, & the sequence of growth among vegetation.DSC_0163DSC_0246DSC_0247
While we were talking about the earth, I couldn't resist discussing the parts of the earth outside of the land, so we learned about the sea & the solar system.---- We will circle back around to the sea when we learn the letter 'o' (ocean), and we revisited the solar system when we learned the letters 'p'  & 'a' (planets & astronauts).
We used our stethoscope to review our human body unit from last spring (I have an entire unit for that that I have yet to post here- I need to get on that for y'all).  We discussed the heart, it's function, and how to take care of it.  We also reviewed, from last spring, our senses using these Five Senses Clip Cards (free for you here). We also practiced our senses by smelling different food & spices.DSC_0220DSC_0247 (2)DSC_0256 (2)
To work on developing fine motor skills with scissors, we cut up straws & we put pom poms on a St. Patrick's Day hat with some fine motor tools.DSC_0214DSC_0043
For practicing life skills, we matched & folding our socks, practiced tying our shoes, & learned how to set the table.  These skills we got to practice through a lot of play learning.DSC_0281DSC_0173DSC_0179
The stories from the Bible that we worked on were the Good Samaritan, & the sneaky snake from Genesis.  Also, I love the Parable Treasury book.  It's a great seasonal book with stories for each season that tie to scripture on every single page.  I used the story of the sunflower from this book because it was about how the Lord grows us like a seed.  A really great book that I highly recommend!DSC_0131DSC_0165
Seasonally, we were preparing for St. Patrick's Day, so we got a chance to complete a lot of fun crafts for the holiday. Shamrocks, pots of gold, glitter...lots of fun :-)DSC_0037DSC_0051DSC_0078
St. Patrick's Day offered a lot of fun with hands-on manipulatives.  We used shamrocks and coins to practice counting 0-30, sorting sizes, color identification, sequencing, patterns, & more vs. less.DSC_0041DSC_0098DSC_0273DSC_0286DSC_0346DSC_0386DSC_0388
To incorporate science into our curriculum, we predicted which items would sink or float. We also completed a Skittles experiment on melting.  Really fun & easy activities to explore and learn.DSC_0236DSC_0243DSC_0254 (2)
We used the Skittles again for math for counting (0-30), patterns, & more vs. less (e.g. are there more red skittles or more green skittles?).  We also made patterns with St. Patrick's Day coins in ice trays. Both for mathematical concepts & science concepts, we talked about sequencing, (e.g. what comes first, second, third, etc.)DSC_0178DSC_0283
For language arts, we not only discussed what the letter 's' looks like as an uppercase & lowercase letter, but we also learned the phonetics and how to write it.  We used stamps, stickers, & scissors to practice in our composition book.  We practiced toothbrush phonics with specific sounds (e.g. use the toothbrush to erase the letter that makes a 'sssssss' sound).DSC_0146DSC_0148 (2)DSC_0149DSC_0150DSC_0040DSC_0389
I introduced the idea of syllables using Skittles.  This is certainly not something we mastered but it was a great start into thinking about the sounds and patterns associated with words.DSC_0180DSC_0182
And lastly, we practiced identifying our shapes, letters, & numbers using sprinkles.  Who doesn't love sprinkles?!DSC_0170
Now I know this might seem like a lot, but we took two weeks on this unit, and it was a lot of fun.  We do not just sit for hours at a time and practice handwriting or science.  Instead we skip.  We spend 10 minutes on handwriting, skip to math, skip to science, read some, hop back around to math.  I find that with the skipping around, we don't have an opportunity to get bored and we aren't lingering around a topic long enough to get frustrated.  Since the toddler brain does a lot of skipping anyways, we also do a lot of skipping around in our learning.  This also enables us to touch on several topics in just 2 weeks.

Okay so there you go, there is a sample preschool unit that we did back in March.  If you want more ideas for a unit study, here is one that we did on the letter 'i' in April.
I hope that was helpful!
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Surviving Long-Distance Parenting

The closest relative to us is a 3 hour flight away.  This IS hard!  Like really really hard. There is no way to sugar coat how challenging long-distance parenting is.  I'm sure many of you are also parenting long distance from your family, and I'm going to guess that you feel very similar to me on this.  One might argue that if you don't like the long-distance parenting, then just move back home.  But it really isn't that black and white; it isn't always that easy.  Regardless, parenting without family is tough!  Not only do we not get to see family, but if we want to we have to save vacation time for trips home, which means we never get a vacation. 

We don't have help. We don't get breaks. We don't get free babysitters.

We don't have dates. We don't have holidays packed with family time.

Now the purpose of this post is NOT for pity (I promise), but instead to either a) remind you of how blessed you are if you live near family and to remind you to be grateful for your blessings (go say "thank you" to your family), OR to provide comfort by letting you know you're not alone.  I struggle with this too & I want to share a few tips with you for how we cope with parenting long-distance from our family.

Surviving Long Distance Parenting- Life with the Hawleys

1. REALIZE.  While long distance parenting might be incredibly exhausting challenging, this is a great opportunity to strengthen your marriage.  The Mr. & I only have each other.  We don't have any outside interference which is a +, but we also don't have anyone else lol  We HAVE to depend on each other.  We HAVE to have communication.  We HAVE to be authentic with each other.  We realize that not having any help has made our marriage & dependence on Christ very strong and that is something we are truly grateful for with our circumstances.  The Mr. & I have a standing weekly meeting with each other to make sure we are on the same page.  This might sound very scheduled or rigid, but if we don't schedule it, it's too easy to allow it to fall to the wayside.  Sometimes we just need to talk about stuff, other times we go through a book together, have a discussion topic, ask questions, and sometimes, honestly we don't have anything, but we have the space scheduled just in case.  For us with long-distance parenting we make sure we genuinely communicate, offer each other grace, & we give each other permission to zone out.

2. STRUCTURE.  Get a schedule & keep it.  Not only does this help with our kid's expectations of the day, but it also insures that our kids will go to their bedroom at night and allows us to relax in our evenings so that we are not waking up exhausted and disconnected.  Many times we treat our evenings on Friday night at home like a date night (no cell phones & hold hands even if we're just watching tv together on the couch).  This is just a season that we're in so we have to make it work for us right now.  And right now, date nights on the couch are working for us.

3. TALK.  Since our kids only see family for about 2 weeks all together a year, we make a HUGE effort to talk about grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins.  Every chance we get we talk about family (e.g. where they live, what jobs they do, what their favorite sports team is, what the weather is like there, what we did the last time we were together) and we show them pictures.  We bring them up every chance we can.  We want our kids to be familiar with family.

4. USE TECHNOLOGY. We're in an age of image so why not use that to our advantage?  We Skype and video chat with family as often as we can.  Sometimes that means my sister uses her lunch break to talk to the kids or my mom reads the kids a story on Skype.  And of course if you've followed me on any social media platform, you know that I post a lot of pictures.  While yes I enjoy taking pictures, I really do it for my family to see my kids and to know their daily lives even if we live so far apart.

5. SNAIL MAIL. While technology is fast & pretty, you really can't beat old school snail mail (at least that's what I believe).  Every other Sunday I send family a big envelop of projects the kids worked on.  I want family to see what we're learning, and what we're doing.  I want family to know that we are thinking about them often & that they are an active part of our lives even if we don't see them face-to-face.  The kids help collect their work and tell me who gets what.  They help me address the envelopes and put them in the mailbox.  They get excited to send A Happy to their loved ones.

6. VILLAGER.  You need one. Get one. Make one. People always say it takes a village.  I always kind of shrugged my shoulders at that phrase.  I'm a pretty independent person & don't like to rely on others.  I would also say that I'm pretty private person also.  And I know you might be thinking: well Darby you have a blog & you post a lot on social media, so you can't be that private.  You're right I do, but it takes me a long time before I'm ready to share what's happening in my heart, not just with you but even with my best friends, family, and husband.  Nothing has to be wrong, I just take a long time to process what I'm thinking.  Well, my dear friends, we are human and we need people.  We were not designed to live in isolation (I mean this is old news.... go back to Adam & Eve).  It's a pride thing for me to learn that I can't do everything on my own and that I need help.  Even before kids, the Mr. & I connected & developed a very strong church family that held us up in some of the darkest and most joyous moments of our lives.  The body of the church and our village have encouraged us with the loss of a child but have also celebrated with us as we brought new life into the world.  They brought us meals, they cry with us over coffee late at night because that's the only time we get, they invite us to their family functions for holidays, & they love us like family.  You need a village.  Our village IS our family; we need them, we want them, & we love them.

7. GREENER GRASS.  Occasionally I will speak with a friend who lives near family, & I get a sting of jealousy.  They have all the extra support, help for cleaning their house, free babysitters, DATE NIGHTS!, family dinners, hand-me-downs, and on and on I could go.  But admittedly, so often they are complaining of their family.  In my mind this is where bitterness can come into play, WHAT ON EARTH COULD THEY BE COMPLAINING ABOUT?!?! I WOULD LOVE SOMEONE TO COME PUT MY KID'S CLOTHES AWAY; WHO CARES IF THEY PUT THE PANTS IN THE DRAWERS WITH THE SHIRTS?! AT LEAST THEY AREN'T SITTING IN A BASKET ON THE FLOOR ANYMORE! IF I WANT TO GET SOMETHING DONE I HAVE TO HIRE HELP!  But I also know that the grass is always greener on the other side and that I don't know all of the details of their family dynamic.  They could be struggling from NEEDING space or a million other things.  So when you have that friend who is complaining about living too close to family because they are always there, extend grace & encouragement because that is what you need too.  We all struggle, but in different ways.

Okay, so there are a few tips that we have implemented into our lives to help us cope with long-distance parenting.  I hope something here spoke to you; even if it was just one small take-home point for one reader that would be awesome! We're certainly not pros at this, & we still have a lot to learn.  If you have any suggestions for us, we're ALL ears!  Send us your tips!

xoxo Darby

Monday, May 21, 2018

Always More- FREE Devotional

The word the Lord gave me to focus on this year was "more".  What I mean by "more" is not more material things or wealth, but seeing more potential in myself & acknowledging that the Lord has more for me than what I can see with my fallen earthly vision (Ephesians 3:20).  I wrote about this more here (pun not intended).  Just like the words I have been given in previous years, this year has not been easy at all but something I am continually, daily, challenged to address, accept, & working on.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine…”
Ephesians 3:20
I stumbled across this FREE 7-day devotional on this topic and I enjoyed it so much.  It was fast & easy every day for 7 days.  It wasn't something that I had to commit too much of my limited cognitive resources to, but just enough to have The Word stick with me throughout the day on a topic that I've been addressing a lot in my own life.  You do not have to be a long-time Christian; this study is for everyone.  From a biblical perspective, each day addresses a topic, like:
Strength   ~   Hope   ~   Purpose
Courage   ~   Perseverance   ~   Trust
I thought I would point you that way in case that sounds like something you might be interested in.  Click here for the free devotional.  Enjoy!bible-896219_1920
xoxo Darby
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