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
Victory
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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Before Bed...Must-Do's!

There are a few things that MUST be accomplished before I head to bed every night.  If these five things are done, then I wake up with the confidence that the morning can be tackled.  And if these things are not done, I feel like I start the day behind. Who wants that?!  Now these things do not guarantee a great morning, but they almost always help me wake up with a great attitude.....which let's all admit that is like 3/4 of the battle.Five Things Before Bed- Life with the Hawleys
1. The coffee pot must be set and ready to go.  I've mentioned before that I am not a Keurig person (I just can't get over the fact that you can't clean the inside.....and all that grossness just gets pushed into your cup. Ewwwww), so I always have my coffee pot set at night so that all I have to do in the morning is push "start."  There is an automatic button on the coffee pot but I've never learned how to use it.  Maybe I should?

2. Empty the sink & clean the counters.  There is no greater feeling of being behind than a sink full of dishes.  Before bed all of the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher or washed so that the sink is empty.  After I start the coffee pot in the morning, I put all of the dishes away while I wait for my morning brew. Also, I just can't stand food that has hardened to the counter tops, or something greasy that is hiding and will be soaked up by the first piece of paper it touches. Yuck!  Before bed, once the dishes are done, all of the counters get wiped down & cleaned.  A clean kitchen is a happy morning.

3. No Crumb Floors!  It drives me batty to walk barefooted through the house and for crumbs to stick to my feet.  AHHH!  With 2 toddlers and 2 dogs, we have to be diligent to prevent this.  Before my kids go to bed they have to put away all of their toys.  And before the Mr. & I go to bed we vacuum and sweep all of the floors in the main living areas (dining, kitchen, living room).

4. Clothes Out.  Even if we are not going anywhere, my clothes (even if just leggings & a tee shirt), and the kids clothes are set out.  When the day is kicked off, this takes one decision off my plate.

5. Shower Time. I'm going to go out on a limb here & assume that most women with small children find it pretty challenging to shower.  There is just no good time when the kiddos are awake.  So if I want a shower, and I do, then I have to do in while they are sleeping.

Those are my top 5 things.  Now I should also add a 6th- check the washer for wet clothes.....but I'm not sure my brain could handle a 6th item.  With my coffee set, some decisions taken care of, a clean house & a clean mama, I can go to bed with a clearer head knowing that I will wake up to a clean home that will hopefully lead to a smoother morning where I can actually get some time in the Word before the kids get up.

What about you?
What things do you do before going to bed that make your mornings smoother?
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This Pet Peeve....just might kill me

If you have known me longer than 10 minutes, you know this about me. This is not something I can't be discrete about.  I just can't.

I CAN'T STAND MOUTH SOUNDS!

This is my greatest pet peeve of all time.  There was a woman sitting next to me in church a couple weeks ago, and she was either grinding her teeth or had a bag of rocks in her mouth.  I know I'm supposed to be graceful, especially at church, but I had zero control over the side eye I was giving her.

ZERO!

Mouth Sounds Pet Peeve
I cannot stand mouth sounds.  This of course includes people chewing with their mouths open and clicking their teeth, etc.  But most importantly, what grinds my gears the most, is when I can hear someone chewing even when their mouth is closed (i.e. chewing carrots, crackers, or chips).  I'm not even going to pretend to have patience with this; I just can't.

I don't want to hear you chewing, even with your mouth closed.
I don't want to hear your jaw dislodge so that you can cram a giant burger into your pie hole.
I don't want to hear you scrape your spoon against your teeth.
I don't want to hear you make out with your ice cream cone.
I don't want to hear you scratch your top teeth against your bottom teeth
And I certainly don't want to hear you chew and swallow your food.
It's foul.

You can cut me off in traffic & I will always give you the benefit of the doubt, but if I can hear you chewing......well my eyes will bug right out of my head, and I will stare. you. down. I am not a patient person in this area. Something I need to work on, but for now mouth sounds are my greatest pet peeve.  

What are your pet peeves? Tell me I'm not the only one that gets crazy over chewing chips!
xoxo Darby

Monday, May 14, 2018

It's time to pray!

I don't think there is a better way to start the week than with prayer.  If you've been around LWTH for a while, you've probably seen the button on the sidebar to the right for prayer requests, but if you're new make sure that you check it out.

Something that has been such a treasure with blogging is meeting new people and praying for them.  I have met so many people, made so many friends, prayed for so many people & had the privilege of watching the Lord work in the lives of others for the past NINE years!  (Can you believe LWTH is almost 10 years old?!)

I think there is not better time than the new year to remind you that we are always praying for our readers.  If you have a prayer or a praise for the new year, please allow us to lift you up!  You can click on the button on the side bar or click here to submit a prayer request for the new year.  I want to use this blog as a way to serve others, to serve you and your prayer requests, for whatever has been placed on your heart, for the big things and the small things, for every joy and every storm you’re walking through.Prayer Request button

You don’t have to log in or create a password, simply fill out the form herewith your prayer request, and I will pray over your request.  I will keep this form active forever so you can update your prayer requests & submit more whenever you’d like.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions,

prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people”

1 Timothy 2:1

xoxo Darby

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Small Things: April 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 ~ MarchThe Small Things- Life with the Hawleys
At first I really didn't like the new Essie Gel Couture polish, but I don't think I gave it a fair shot either, so I tried it a second time.  Now this might be my favorite nail polish! I think as a mama, I'm always washing and cleaning so nail polish is continually chipping off, and is almost pointless to have.  However, of all of the polishes, this one stays on the longest without chipping (at least a week), and has beautiful colors.  Something else I like about it, is that it is a gel polish but you don't have to have it professionally removed.  You can use regular polish remover at home and it works great.  I have this is a couple shades now.71P6 N19YdL._SY679_
I have been wearing this essential oil (Magnify Your Purpose) every day for almost a year.  I have a rollerball top in the bottle and I keep it on the kitchen counter.  I roll this on my wrist every morning before I get the kids up and in the late afternoon when I'm starting to get run-down.  This is a great instrument to help me focus on my priorities as a wife and mother & to be encouraged.3377
I know the name of this app might cause you to raise an eyebrow, but hear me out.  I love the app, Think Dirty.  I've used this for a LONG time & it is such a great tool.  The free app allows you to scan products for their ingredients and it tells you how safe the products are. It's a great tool, often a scary tool, to help you see how harmful products are that you may ingest or put on your body.  If you download this and just go through your makeup bag, hair products, home cleaners.....you would probably be shocked! There a lot of products that claim to be "clean" or "natural" and they really are not.  So get this app stat!Think Dirty Appthinkdirty_appjpg
So those are a few of my favs right now!  What products are bringing you a little bit of sanity and joy these days?
Obligatory Blogger Disclaimer: I was not compensated for these opinions, I just really like these products.





xoxo Darby

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Chicken & Broccoli Braid

This is one of those recipes that is very nostalgic for me.  My mom, sister & I always loved this dish, and now I love sharing it with my kids.  It's a dish that looks way more fancy than it really is.  I always love a wow-factor that really is so easy!  Let me share this with you & your family:Chicken and Broccoli Braid- Life with the HawleysFrom the Kitchen of Darby Hawley
Ingredients:
1 cup chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cooked chicken, I use tenders
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup mayonnaise (I always use Duke's)
2 tsp dill, dried
1   garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp salt
2 pkgs (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dough
1   egg white

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl mix all ingredients together (except the crescent rolls & eggs).
2. Roll out both crescent rolls onto a cookie sheet so that the cookie sheet is covered.  Place the chicken mixture down the middle of the dough, the longest direction.  Cut strips of dough so that you can "braid" it, about an inch wide and the same number on each side of the chicken mixture, starting where the chicken mixture ended and go to the edges.
3. Pull each strip up and twist it together over the chicken mixture, and continue until all of the strips have been twisted.  Wash the dough with the egg white and bake for about 28-30 minutes, until golden.
4. Enjoy!DSC_0093
xoxo Darby

Monday, May 7, 2018

Answering Reader Questions: Spring 2018

When I asked y'all what questions you had for me a few weeks ago I wasn't really anticipating the focused nature of the questions.  In my mind I thought I would get a few questions covering a wide range of topics, but for the most part all of your questions were focused on some very similar topics, and I actually had some questions asked multiple times.  So today I'm sharing my answers with you :-) Reader Questions- Life with the Hawleys
How did you learn to DIY?
The Mr. & I have DIY in our veins.  We both grew up doing mission work.  He helped with his church & I helped with mine.  I've honestly, since elementary school, never taken a spring break or beach week; I've always packed my vacation time with mission work.  In doing that, we've learned how to do so many things.  You might be surprised, but I can lay shingles, insert insulation, install tile, and cut drywall.  What we don't know.....well there's YouTube for that ;-)

Are you going to homeschool for kindergarten?
Yes. And No.  The plan right now is to homeschool for primary education, but we're honestly taking it one year at a time and even one child at a time.  What works well for one child might not work as well for the next, and so I'm open to seeing how each child learns best.  While we do have a tentative plan, we are also keeping an open mind to seeing what works best for our family at every stage.  It's a fine line between committed to a plan but also flexible and listening to how our kids are responding.

Where do you find age appropriate objectives for your preschool curriculum? What are your favorite preschool resources?
To be honest, I would say: trial & error.  The first thing I did when we decided to homeschool was to look up what students were going to learn in kindergarten in our public school system, and decided that I was going to teach the things to prep my children for kinder.  From there I did a lot of research on what my methods were going to be, & how I would deliver those concepts (more info about that here & here).  I started working in one week units, and that did not work well for us.  Everyone was so frustrated, so we moved to two week units & it was a much more relaxed environment and my kids excelled at that pace.  Initially with my units I thought I would teach just uppercase letters & the corresponding phonetics and that we would add in lowercase letters later, but about 2 months in, Dutch told me what the lowercase 't' looked like.  I remember staring at him, saying, "how did you know that?!"  So I changed our units to do uppercase & lowercase letters along with the phonetics.  So with timing, I initially thought too quickly, but with content I didn't think fast enough.  So it was just trial and error, and continually watching my kids for clues as to how much information they could handle at a time.  And that really is one of the beautiful things with homeschooling, that a curriculum can be tailored for each child's needs.  For us right now, and I realize that this could change tomorrow, I pick a letter for every two weeks.  The letter I select is not in alpha 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'...you get the idea).  For each unit of letters, each child will have a book unit that will some how tie to the letter, and then I will try to find a bible story, science activity, life skill, math, and language arts objectives that go with that letter.  For example, with the letter 'M' we learned about Moses' life and The 10 Commandments, miracles, money, measuring, melting, more vs. less, months of the year, music, microscopes, making muffins, & magnets in addition to handwriting & letter phonetics.  I find with my kids, at this age of cognitive development, if we have all of our objectives with a similar theme, we get a lot of reinforcement from various avenues and it sticks.  Occasionally I get too ambitious & realize "okay this is too much for right now" and I will just put it away for later.  My favorite resources right now are Education.com and Teachers Pay Teachers.

What does a typical weekday look like for you? When do your kids sleep? When do you sleep?
These questions made me laugh, not because it's a bad set of questions, so much as my answers are convicting.  It's a nervous laugh.  Our weeks are never the same; every single week is different.  Ever the optimist, I'm always waiting for a "normal week".  Since having children, I've never had a normal week....kids are evolving & so our schedules change or stuff pops up, but this is the general structure that we start from:
-Every morning we are up and dressed around 8:30.  We do breakfast, & then our morning basket activities and books at the breakfast table until 10:30ish.  The kids have free play until Ellis naps around 12. 
-On Monday & Wednesdays, Dutch and I have "Book Day" where we just read books all afternoon and talk about the things we read.  All of the books we read some how connect with our unit (as mentioned above).  The kids will switch for naps around 3:30pm.  Ellis will help me finish dinner and we will work on her book unit until 5.
-Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays are full school days.  So while Ellis is napping, 12:00-3:30 Dutch will have do his formal school work (Language arts, math, science, activities, workbooks, etc.), and then Ellis will do her school until 5.
-Dinner is at 6, and then the kids have free play time until 7:30.  They have their bath, every other night, watch 1 episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, daddy reads 1 book, and then in bed by 8:15pm.
So that addresses when the kids sleep, but when do I sleep? Honestly I have a horrible answer for this.  I honestly don't sleep a lot.  Once the kids go to bed, I catch-up with the Mr. & his day, and after he goes to bed, I clean the house, do laundry, prep for school the next day (blog....like I'm doing right now).  By the time I finish doing everything, my introverted brain needs to decompress.  I'd rather be sleepy and sane than rested but overwhelmed.  I usually go to bed somewhere between 2 and 3 in the morning.  I get up at 6:30 to get the day going.  I don't sleep a lot; I think grad school prepped me for little sleep.  I would like more sleep, but I just have not found a way to do that and still get everything that needs to be done done. I'm not a person that gets grouchy if they don't have enough sleep, and I'm not a napper, my body is just on this circuit and has been for almost 2 decades.  It's not the healthiest sleep pattern and I know I need better self-care, but I just have not figured it out yet.  I have plenty of room for improvement.

Do you think you'll go back to work? Do you miss work?
Am I a stay at home mom? Yes
Am I a working mom? Yes
Am I a work from home mom? Yes
I am not a label.  Meaning, I have no idea what I am.  I'm all of the labels? None of the labels? A brand new label? I really like my worlds separate so I don't talk about work around here out of respect for my students, but I actually never stopped teaching.  In fact, I never even took maternity leave (read above: I don't know how to vacation or sleep.....not that maternity leave is a vacation, but you know what I'm saying).  I'm still teaching undergraduate and graduate students at the university level.  Some days I teach all age groups, from teaching my own 2 year old all the way up to 65 years old.  I love teaching and it is just part of me.

What is the hardest part of parenting?
Just one?! Gosh there really are a lot of hard parts to parenting.  I guess what I'm currently struggling with is weariness.  What I mean by that is the continuous character training; always having to "be on" and saying the same things over and over and over again. Having two toddlers is a continuous teaching moment, and while I know I just said I love teaching (and I do), it is really hard to do the continuous teaching that toddlers need to develop their character.  Teaching an adult, they can express what they do or don't understand, but with a toddler it may be a LONG time before you see the fruit of your labor or to even know if you're headed in the right direction.  It's a joy to have children where I can even say that I'm weary, and trust me I don't take that for granted for one second, but it is draining sometimes.  However, every now and then I get a little glimpse of fruit that keeps me going.
Phew, that was a lot of chatting.  I hope I answered y'alls questions and didn't bore you.  Is this something you'd like me to do again? Send me a message or leave a comment if you would like to see more posts like this :-)
xoxo Darby

Friday, May 4, 2018

Honestly Hawley {April 2018}

I don't know how we managed to get so much done this month; it was a whirlwind! April started with Easter, we continued with our HUGE home DIY, the Mr. was out of town for a conference, we visited the Strawberry patch, studied the letter 'I' and all things insects, & Aunt Nana came for a visit.  I lived this month of ours, yet I'm still unsure how it happened. 
Here are the honest, unedited, unscripted
scenes of our April life :-)
2016: June ~ July ~ August ~ September ~ October ~ November ~ December
2017: January ~ February ~ March ~ April ~ June ~ July ~ August ~ September~ October ~ November
Honestly HawleyDSC_0003DSC_0007DSC_0012DSC_0020DSC_0362DSC_0034DSC_0038DSC_0051DSC_0081DSC_0093DSC_0099DSC_0112DSC_0117DSC_0120DSC_0129DSC_0122DSC_0132DSC_0141DSC_0147DSC_0154DSC_0168DSC_0223DSC_0170DSC_0194DSC_0197DSC_0206DSC_0219DSC_0252DSC_0285DSC_0269DSC_0270DSC_0290DSC_0298DSC_0303DSC_0328DSC_0333DSC_0369DSC_0376DSC_0399DSC_0414
xoxo Darby
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