Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Thomas the Tank Engine Costume

For the trainiac in our lives I wanted to make him a Thomas costume. 

This is very easy to make and only requires a cardboard box, 5 paper plates, paint and glue. 

It's really fun to watch Thomas cartoons while sitting inside your very own train eating pretzels!

Here's the whole Halloween crowd. 

(Note: Even when I offer to make her something, Frannie still wants to wear a princess dress up. This is fine by me!)

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bringing the Homeschool Philosophy into the Public School

Welp, my Frannie has been in Kindergarten now for about a month and a half and so far so good. I like her teacher and especially like the way the staff works together as a whole. Everyone is really friendly and I feel like they care about the kids. Frannie is enjoying school and everyday I get to hear about some silly thing that happened on the playground.

Deciding on where to send her to school or to homeschool was a very difficult decision for me. For now I'm happy with my decision because I can see that she is learning and that she is getting enough activity every day.
Although I'm not homeschooling I guess I still think of myself as a homeschooling parent. I like that the school is providing the curriculum and the pacing for what she learns. (I had a tendency to push her too hard with things and then back off completely. I was never very good at doing just a little every day.) But I still feel like her education is my responsibility and it is my responsibility to supplement what the school is doing with lessons geared toward her specific needs.

For example part of her homework is to trace her name 3 times a day on a laminated paper. Through watching her do this activity I can see that she often forms her letters in wonky ways, even though the end result looks pretty normal. So in addition to her writing her name, I have her practicing writing the letter of the week that the class happens to be working on. I can see that this is helping her to learn to trace the letters in the right direction and order so that she doesn't have a problem later on when trying to learn cursive.

The other thing we've been doing is making little books using her sight words. Since Frannie likes to take pictures I developed a bunch of pictures that she's taken. Then we take two of her sight words to make sentences. Her first book was I See (I see my baby sister, I see my mom.) and the second was This Is (This is my hula hoop. This is a flower. etc..). When I did the first book I just had her tell me what to write, but in the second one I had her write the sentences herself and just do her best with the words. There are lots of misspellings but I'm really proud of her because I can see that she's spelling phonetically and that's an important part of learning to write.

Here is a link to the tutorial where I learned how to make the paper books. 

Anyway, I'm actually having a lot of fun helping out with her school activities and doing other projects. The school schedule has definitely provided a structure to our day that was pretty badly needed and it provides her with a lot of activities that I don't have to think up myself. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Hairstyles

I'm still having fun with Frannie's hair in the morning. Here are some pics!

It's fun having a girl :)

Miles and Parker come for a visit

About a week before Bryan and Stefanie's wedding I got a call that my Aunt Carrie, who lives in Washington state, would be coming down for the ceremony. I quickly offered her a place to stay and within a few days we grew from a family of five to a family of eight! (Plus occasionally a family of ten when my mom and dad were over.) It was so fun for me to have my aunt here and to see her little boys Miles and Parker again. The kids all love playing together so the house was a bit of a madhouse at times. Call me crazy but stuff like that just makes me happy. Maybe it is because I didn't grow up seeing my extended family very often, so when I watch Frannie, Adam and Natalie playing and having so much fun with their cousins I feel so glad that they will have some really awesome childhood memories and relationships.
Frannie (5), Miles (4), Adam (3), Parker (3), Natalie (1)

The other thing that made me glad?
Well, I am SUPER glad for the July Home Makeover Extravaganza. It felt so good to be able to instantly offer up my house as a place to stay when she called. Even though the one month of inconvenience was a pain in the butt at the time, it was worth having it all done and now we can just enjoy the house. Also, because we had to move all of the furniture out of the bedrooms when the upstairs got carpeted, we used that opportunity to turn the 3rd bedroom into a real bedroom instead of a mish-mash office/bedroom/playroom space. Having already moved all of that office furniture out of there and Adam's twin bed in, made Carrie's visit super-easy to prepare for. Whew!

My Aunt Carrie is super great and I love having her around. She is very down-to-earth and funny. She's a no-nonsense kind of a mom who is quick to keep the boys in check and also offers tons of love and snuggles too. The boys are really really sweet kids and if there is one thing that lifts my spirits it is knowing that, at least in my family, everyone is doing such a good job raising their kids! (They're all older than I am so I have a lot of good examples to strive for.) I may not see everyone very often, but when I do see them it's nice to know that the Marr ladies are doing it right. (Well, last names never stay the same with women so it's Campbell-King, Marr-Eckhart, Marr-Byrne, Borkman-Flad, and Borkman-Reed.)

Can't wait to see her again! Next time it will probably be us flying to Seattle. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bryan and Stefanie's Wedding

My brother married his long-time girlfriend Stefanie on Friday, October 1st and I'm very happy for them both!

Dad was Bryan's best man, Jason was a groomsman, Frannie was a flower girl, and Adam was the ring bearer. 

Getting ready

I love this father-son picture. My dad has always been there for Bryan since he was a preemie baby boy and his wedding day was no exception. 
You'd never know from this picture how much Adam truly hated this suit when I took him to try it on at the store (pouting/crying).  I thought we'd have to have cousin Miles do the job instead. Fortunately Daddy worked his magic (I think he can get Adam to do anything) and not only did Adam do the job of ring bearer perfectly, but he wore that suit all evening long. 
The Adam whisperer- Father and Son

Before the Ceremony

Pretty and sweet. I decided to do five cornrows in her hair the night before and take them out to give her hair some curl. I wasn't brave enough to attempt any complicated braiding or twisting styles since I'm still pretty inexperienced and the finished product often has bumps (which is ok for school, but not a wedding). Curls are a sure thing. Since her hair is stick-straight and won't hold curl well, this is the best way to give her a nice style that would last the evening.
Owning the red carpet

The Girls' Side: From Lewis, to Marr, to Castillo
Flower girl and Ring Bearer

The Ceremony
The night before the wedding I was told I'd be walking down the aisle with the kids. I guess during the rehearsal they were getting distracted with the long walk and right-hand turn. I'm very glad I chose a dress that matched their outfits!

I got teared up at this part. Weddings really are so beautiful. 

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Marr!


Awww...ain't we cute
This'll probably be our Christmas card

It was impossible to get a good picture of all three. Natalie is a real busy bee. 

Better than bunny ears
Stefanie and her family wore checked Vans in memory of her brother who passed away

I love this glamor girl photo

I love this one too. You can see Doreen there on the right. She was their photographer and she did an amazing job! (I've seen a few of her pics already.) I'm super proud of my sis!

The Reception
Stefanie is in love with the Nightmare Before Christmas Jack and Sally characters so she decided to make this the theme of the wedding. It was a very lovely elegant wedding with lots of little tasteful accents. Here is the piece de la resistance: The Cake!

The colors for the wedding were black, white, and red. Here are her cute "party favors" that were at each place setting.

M &Ms with their names and picture printed on!
Hershey chocolate bar with this wrapper
One of my favorite parts of the reception was watching the both of them do a little choreographed wedding dance. It was very adorable. They did a simple night-club two step and did a great job!

My other favorite part was just seeing so many family members that I haven't seen in a very long time. 

At the top of the list has to be my aunt Carrie and her boys Miles and Parker. At the last minute they decided to fly in from Washington state and they stayed with us! Frannie and Adam have been in kid-heaven for the past three days. I have loved spending time with my aunt and having her at the house. 

Diane, Donna, Viree, Vicki and Uncle Jack
These are my second-cousins (and Uncle Jack). I don't get to see them very often since Diane and Donna live in Georgia and Viree lives in Washington. I love them all though. They are all really good moms and have good kids and families. It's kind of fun for me too when they are around because we look alike (especially me and Diane) and there is something cool about being around the people who share your same features.

Top: David and Michael Byrne (Viree's boys) Jason Eckhart
Bottom: Trevor Eckhart (Vicki's boys)

My Aunt Terri and Uncle Jack really know how to cut a rug. They are good little swing dancers.

I am hoping to upload some more family photos once I see what my dad took. I hope to get one of Alan and Ryan and Uncle Jim and Gloria and Sherry. I don't know if anyone got one of Rhiannon :/

So that's it for now. I'm tired. Uploading stuff takes forever!!