Monday, November 16, 2009

Turnips, Knots, and Nano updates

Our Rääbeliechtli (turnip lanterns) turned out fine, just in time for a lantern walk in the pouring rain on Saturday. We managed to learn five of the seven songs, mispronouncing most words, but we did our best. After the walk we all ended up at my house eating soup, rolls, and cake on the back patio and watching the rain come down in droves.

The wind rushed in under the eaves and brought the rain with it, drenching everything. But after awhile the sky cleared and the children all played some variation of freeze-mud-tag in the yard while the adults sat and chatted. I'd be lying if I said understood everything that was said. The other families spoke Swiss German together, and they took pity on us at times, addressing us in English. None of the other children spoke English or even high German... so it was interesting. My kids have certainly learned to adapt! And the lingo for tag was something like, "Ich bin!" (I am!) and "Sie ist!" (She is!)

On Sunday the kids all went rock-climbing with Einstein and the Swiss dads group. They get together once a month, just the kids and dads, and have different activities-- canoeing, candle dipping, pottery making, hiking. Sunburst was pretty pleased that she learned how to make a Figure-8 knot, or as it's called online, a Figure 8 Follow Through. I have to concede, it's a pretty cool knot.

Check out this animated version. You start with this knot, and then you proceed to follow along the knot again. It makes a very strong knot, perfect for hanging yourself over a precipice, and it's easy to undo. Not that you'd want to undo it while you're hanging, but I suppose you never know.

Sunburst has been tying everything in the house into knots since she was three, so I can see how this knot-making lesson really appealed to her. Asking her to draw it as a form might be going too far, but we'll see..

In other news, we're all caught up on our Nanowrimo novels. Moonshine has been caught up for days! She has been working fearlessly along on her story, and it's a great action-packed epic full of German-speaking robbers, police, orphans, and bat poop. Sunburst fell behind this week, so I sat down at the computer with her last night and helped her catch up. She was right where she needed to be after about fifteen minutes of dictation using Write or Die.

I don't have any qualms about letting the kids dictate their novels to me sometimes. They have each written a considerable amount by hand, actually most of it so far. This is impressive considering that Moonshine doesn't normally write much-- she's only seven. And while she is reading, she's not a very strong reader yet. That's something that Nanowrimo is helping her with. As she writes more, she suddenly reads more. I love that. And Sunburst already does a lot of writing as part of our homeschooling lessons, so when her fingers need a break, I'm here to hold her up.

Both girls were so far along the first week of the month that they both decided to double their goals. Moonshine is shooting for a 4,000 word novel, while Sunburst is shooting for 10,000 words. The writing books I made them are working out extremely well. They love them. They love looking at them, writing in them, and they love that the pages are all a bit different. They are always looking ahead hoping to get to the pages I put little decorations on, and this pushes them to keep writing. "Ooh, I'm almost there!" is something I have heard a lot of lately.

It's important to me that the kids spend the time and exert the energy to do most of the work on this writing project. This will give them the most personal satisfaction. I want them to own the experience and to be able to be proud of their accomplishments at the end. There is nothing better than looking back at a huge undertaking and saying, "I did this!" It strengthens the will forces and builds a strong foundation for future endeavors. The unspoken take home message would be, if we can't endeavor to work for what we want to achieve, we will rarely achieve anything.

Here's a glimpse at their writing in progress:

Even Kitty Bill wants in on the fun! I didn't honestly expect him to be interested, but that's another lesson for me... Never underestimate the drive of the choleric baby brother! If his sisters are doing it, he's doing it. Period. Nothing will stop him. So I stapled some pages together for him and he went to town making "warrior elephants." --See what I said about choleric?!!

I offered to let him dictate the story to me-- he's only just four-years-old, so in my mind that's how it would work. He draws, tells me the story, and I write it for him. But no. He announced very emphatically that he was going to do the whole thing by himself. Here is the warrior elephant page below:

Pretty impressive stuff. We were all pretty blown away. But it's nothing compared to the pages he created using the TYPEWRITER. All on his own he hauled out the typewriter, fed a sheet of paper into it and banged away. Then he drew a picture on the blank spot, put it aside, and started another page in the typewriter. He made a whole stack of these. Most of the time we just follow him around with our mouths hanging open and wonder what he'll be like when he's five or six or seven. It's kind of scary.

As for me, I'm caught up, too! I've logged in 25,132 words as of about 12:30 am. That's just my adult novel, though. I admit my kiddie novel has been sorely neglected... only a mere 300 words or so. But I've got half a month ahead of me yet. I like to think I'd be less neglectful if my adult novel didn't suddenly decide it needed to be historically plausible. I've been spending an inordinate amount of time reading very old texts and maps online. At least it amuses me. And hopefully, I'm building my will forces, too.


  1. Anonymous8:54 PM

    Go Sara, go Sunburst and Moonshine, and go Kitty Bill!!! =)

    I totally cracked up when I started readin, "...a very strong knot, perfect for hanging yourself..." because I hadn't gotten to the "over a precipice" part yet and was going, "whoa! perfect for hanging yourself??!"

    You think I need a 'tini? ;)

    And, BTW, your lanterns are even more beautiful than the other ones!

  2. Lol, Teresa. Yes, I think you need one... and if you're making, I'll have one, too!

    Thanks about the lanterns. We sure had fun making them.

  3. All of you writing novels is fantastic! Glad the lantern walk evening was fun too.


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