Well, it's been a while since I posted anything about how the Minecraft experiences were going.
My wife has continued to explore Survival mode, has died several times, but continues exploring and building.
My step-daughter has continued to build and explore. She's continued to build her own home, expanding it and growing it--complete with decorations and rooms. She's created a bathroom, art frames on the wall that detail objects that she likes. She even built a roller coaster using a power rail system. We had several laughs from that, because things like creepers, chickens, or skeletons would wander into it and be left there indefinitely!
One thing of note that occurred was the concept of her and I doing creative mode together. Let me tell you, this conversation was not pleasant. The idea of my step daughter having to deal with monsters was close to traumatizing. No matter how much I assured her that we would do it together, she wouldn't have it--didn't even want to try, it brought her to tears.
Upon later conversations with my wife, speaking of the incident, the obvious was pointed out: she was just afraid. While in creative mode, nothing can hurt her. She can attack without incident or fear, and nothing will sneak up on her, but in Survival mode she can be hurt--and it frightens her. Regardless of whether or not her mother or I were present, she didn't want to experience that. So, the idea was closed for now.
I started getting a bit more creative myself in the game world. At first, I took a section of the wall that had a open mouthed area, and built a wall to section it off. That wall developed into a castle with turrets. It was self contained, but open aired. Iron doors allowed for exit, but no levers were placed on the outside. The goal was protection from the outside world.
At this point, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my 'castle'. However, necessity is the mother of all invention, and a necessity arose.
While she would explore the world, my step-daughter would get nervous and scared as she would get lost. I need to increase the render distance on her computer, but to help her find her way, I built beacons that stretched to the cloud line. The beacons are stone towers, that have lava that pours down the sides and illuminate around the tower. And, of course, for effect, the lava pours down the center and has cobblestone wrap around internally, and a balcony that looks out. I'll grab some pictures later and upload them.
After the second beacon was created, I dug a tunnel between the two, and started to place a powered rail system between them. My goal is to have a central hub at the Castle tower, with spokes leading to each beacon for quick and easy travel. Once I have it completed, it should give some freedom for movement. The long term goal is to have five beacons total, one at the central point, and one at a distance away from the central tower, probably the render distance for her computer. Somewhere around there. Again, the goal is to help her find her way home when exploring.
We'll see how it develops.