Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mary's NaNoWriMo

Mary just won NaNoWriMo! (That's National Novel Writing Month) I offered her a month off from narration, copywork, dictation, and any other writing assignments if she wanted to try it. She enjoyed filling in the novel planning workbook during October. Toward the end of October, we looked at the word count recommendations on the NaNoWriMo website and set a goal of 4000 words for her, with a daily goal of 175 words. That was more words than she'd ever written at one time. On November 1, she was a little intimidated by the blank page in front of her, so Scott helped her with an opening line. After that, there was no looking back, and we were both surprised that her first day's writing produced over 200 words! Some days she knew exactly what she wanted to write, and some days there was a lot of pencil tapping and sighing, but she stuck with it. We talked about her novel between writing sessions, about ways to get unstuck (just skip over or sum up the boring parts), about the relationships between characters. We noticed how other authors handled the passage of time in our read-alouds. Tonight we uploaded the first 4000 words of her novel into the NaNoWriMo word count validator and celebrated her win. She wants to keep working on her novel until she finishes the story, since 4000 words barely introduced the main characters and problem. Scott asked her if she learned anything about writing and her first response was, "I learned that writing can be exciting if it's something I want to write about!" I thought that was a great lesson to have learned.

Master bath

George the tile guy offered to trade jobs with me for a while. Under his supervision, I cut a hole in one of the tiles for our shower (the top hole in the picture) and set six tiles in the shower. He hasn't done any Barbie hairdo's yet, though.

Here are more pictures of the master bath.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Audrey's Wedding Cake

Audrey created this lovely wedding cake while Mary and I were doing our Greek yesterday. Each tier is separated by a layer of blackberry jelly, and the cake is topped with a smiling Inuit couple, also whimsically decorated with blackberry jelly.

Jaguar Girls

Mary put together a diorama of a jaguar habitat as part of her unit on Central America, and to fulfill part of a Brownie Try-It badge requirement. She made the jaguar out of Sculpey and drew the spots on with black Sharpie marker. The display shows the jaguar eating a peccary in the jungle, and a road nearby to represent the shrinking habitat. Audrey is not part of the diorama, but she had a good time leaping out of a tree (dining room chair) to attack a peccary (couch pillow). Fortunately, Mary used washable marker for Audrey's jaguar disguise.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Renovation update

It started to look a lot more finished when they got the walls up and the doors and trim done.

Here's the progress in the girls' bathroom.

Bike riding in the park

A couple weeks ago, before it got really cold, I wrestled the kids' bikes into the back of the car and we drove to the park for the morning. Mary never rode much in Florida, and our neighborhood is too hilly for a novice bike-rider, but the park has a nice flat paved trail where you don't have to worry about cars. Mary rode back and forth and got better at starting and stopping, except when she panicked and stopped by jumping off or falling over. Audrey met a little boy her age, and the two of them explored a ditch at the edge of the park and rolled down the big hill together.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Beepin' Cold Outside!

Scott's car is complaining about the weather, too. When he was driving to Lowe's his car suddenly beeped and displayed the temperature: 37 degrees. Same thing on the way home. So he looked it up, and found out from other Mini owners that the Mini is programmed to alert the driver whenever the temperature drops below 38 degrees. He hasn't checked the car manual yet, because the car is outside and it's beepin' cold out there!


We had our first snow flurries on Tuesday. When I went into the kitchen to clean up the lunch dishes, I saw little white pellets hitting the black grill cover. Audrey was napping, but I called Mary to look out the window, and we went out on the deck to play in the snow. It only lasted a few minutes, but Mary said she realized that we actually live where it snows, rather than just visiting.

When I went out for the newspaper Friday morning, I thought the wet driveway meant it had rained during the night. Later I found out it had snowed, but melted before I got up. We have to wear all the clothes we own all at once, and we're resisting it. In Ft. Lauderdale, the girls wore sundresses and went barefoot year round. The entire state of North Carolina is teal on the newspaper's weather map. Teal! We never had any intention of living where the temperature got down to teal. South Florida is yellow right now. The HVAC guy said it occasionally gets down into single digits here. I think we'll be in Florida visiting the grandparents that week!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


One of our neighbors does a hayride around the neighborhood for trick-or-treating. We invited Stephen over to trick-or-treat with us, but we weren't quite ready when the hay wagon came by, so Don drove me and the kids around the block to catch up with the hayride after we were dressed. Scott did a great mummy make-up job on Mary. Audrey kept going back and forth on what she wanted to be - a princess or fairy, and what color princess or fairy. We bought a Snow White costume, but in the end she decided to wear her cape from last year and be a cherry fairy. Stephen had trouble with his ghost costume, so he ditched the sheet after a few houses. At the first house we went to, the man answered the door wearing a monkey mask that looked like it might be from an Asian puppet show. The mouth even moved when he talked. Audrey wouldn't go near him, and talked about the monkey man for days afterwards. After trick-or-treating, a bunch of the neighbors got together at someone's house for hot dogs and hamburgers and other treats. It was a fun Halloween!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gatlinburg trip, part 3

We hiked the Laurel Falls trial in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park because it was listed as being wheelchair and stroller accessible. It was paved, but it was a lot steeper than we expected, and the trail didn't have guardrails on the side where there were some pretty steep drop-offs. The scenery and waterfall were beautiful, though.

Gatlinburg trip, part 2

The town was decorated for fall.

Scott had a hankering for something deep fried, so we bought deep fried Oreos to share with everyone.

Gatlinburg trip

On the way to Gatlinburg, we stopped in Asheville for lunch. A potter had set up a table outside the store where he and a bunch of other artists and craft people had booths. He showed us some pottery techniques and talked about working with clay. We went inside to see all the arts and crafts for sale.

On our first full day there, we explored the resort. We found a picnic area near a stream.

We brought the Wii along, and it was very popular during downtime at the condo. The grownups got their turn after the kids were asleep.

Audrey wanted to have her hair done like Kristi every day.

Our first stop in Dollywood was the booth selling biscuits and fresh apple butter. Then it was on to the carousel.

I figured I'd better get a picture of this, because it would probably be the only ride Chuck went on all day!

The Country Fair section had a lot of fun kid rides. It also had giant vegetables.

The girls got in a little target practice while Nancy shopped for a hat for Nicholas.

Nicholas threatened to shoot anyone who made fun of this hat.

Here's the other ride Chuck went on.