1. Winter Hikes
We finally caught a weekend without rain to get to our favorite winter hiking spot. My husband and I went on a winter hike to the same location every year since we met. It was good to see that our favorite mimosa tree survived the rainstorms yet again, and we caught it in full bloom. It was gorgeous, and we took our obligatory yearly pictures. It's bittersweet to see how Smarty grows and changes in these pictures - sometimes I really wish I could freeze time to keep her a young child for a while longer!
2. Getting into a New Routine
My husband was traveling for work in the beginning of the week, and Smarty took his absence in stride even though she had to spend more time at home on her own. We agreed on how she wants to spend her time in our absence - she can play on Minecraft from the time she comes home from school (usually, it's at 3:20 pm or so) until 4 pm, then do what she needs to get done and then spend more time on Minecraft if she has no other commitments. She also made a "mini resolution" to not be on screens after 9 pm and spend the last half hour before bed in a creative activity - writing or drawing.
I struggle a little with Smarty's new found love of Minecraft, but overall I am grateful for it. She is now firmly embedded in school with a group of "Minecraft nerds". They have lunch together, talk about Minecraft and often get together online after school to play. She seems much happier socially and Minecraft serves as a motivator for her to get things done at home, so she can play more in the evenings.
4. School Choices
As I said, Smarty seems happy in school socially, but she still craves more challenge. She is very interested in switching schools in 8th grade, and I am grateful that, since both of us are back to work, we can look at both private and public options available. Today we visited an Open House for a charter public school that is considered to be one of the best high schools in Northern California. Overall, Smarty liked this school except that she found it a bit too "indoor". She is used to spending a lot of time outside during lunch and classroom transitions, and this school is in a 2-story building with limited natural light, especially in hallways. There is also no playground or a place for outdoor sports (there is a gym). Nevertheless, she said that she is interested in applying there, especially once she had a chance to chat with math and English teachers. However, her chances to get there by lottery are about 10%, so we are not very optimistic. We should have applied last year (school starts in 7th grade). Smarty will also have a shadowing day on Tuesday in another private school that we are considering as a possible option for 8th grade and beyond. We hope to have a final decision in mid March on whether she stays put or goes to a new school next year.
5. Non-Fiction Books
I love it when Smarty finds non-fiction books to enjoy. She does not like "books that sound like textbooks", but enjoys non-fiction books that serve knowledge with a dose of good story writing. This week she raced through three very different non-fiction books - Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger, Caesar's Last Breath by Sam Kean (hint: it's not about Caesar), and The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch.
What are you grateful for this week?