Carpool Lane

Carpool Lane - Meet Joline for a "CuppaJo" as she juggles two kids in school, homework, extracurricular activities and trying to find some "me" time.

 

 

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Birthday Reflection

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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My 13 year old is now 14.

I woke this morning and began combing through pictures from her first year of life. I wasn't pining. Just reflecting. Indulge me for a bit.

When I got married, I wasn't sure I wanted children. My husband knew this and didn't press. I've always been pretty selfish with my time, and I wasn't willing to share it, or him for that matter, with anyone. We were young - 22, and just out of college. The subject of children wasn't even in the range of being close enough, to being anywhere close enough, to even being in the vicinity of being on my radar.

Our married life began. He managed a coffee shop while attending grad school. I worked full time at a local college while also directing their musicals. Along with getting back on stage myself, I also taught classes at a performing arts workshop. We froze in our first apartment (come to think of it, not much has changed from that apartment to this drafty old house) and enjoyed our free time when we weren't at one of the many side jobs we held along with our full-time ones: house-sitting, parking cars for a nearby restaurant, lawn care, cleaning fish tanks, performing in murder mysteries, a gig dressed up as Captain Crunch (for which I got paid in cash and boxes of Captain Crunch) . . . we made it work.

It wasn't until close to 10 years later that we had our first child.

She turned 14 today.

Wow.

One of the most vivid memories I have of her birth was calling out her name while I was still strapped down during an emergency c-section. Following delivery, they whisked her off to the side to do all those pokes and prods they do to new babies. As I couldn't hold her immediately, I turned my head towards her, as it was the only part of my body I could move, and spoke.

"Harper. Hi. It's Mommy."

She turned her head in my direction. And was still.

I kept talking.

She knew my voice. The one that sang, read stories, and prayed while I carried her. I had read that the baby could hear while in the womb, and even recognize voices, but how could I have known this to be true until . . .

She turned her head in my direction.

She may be 14, but I still sing, read stories, and pray. Even if I'm told to knock it off with the singing.

We now binge-watch Gilmore Girls together, rather than Baby Einstein.

We choose chips covered in cheese over cheerios.

I don't pick out her clothes any more.

And she still hears my voice. Whether she applies what I share is up to her now, but I know she's listening.

Because often, that once tiny little baby, who was too big for preemie clothes, but too small for newborn clothes, turns to look at me with those big blue eyes, gives me a little smile, maybe a head on the shoulder, and without words, tells me she's listening.

Happy Birthday, little girl.



Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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Our new job board for the kids

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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photo(2)I've mentioned in the past that we don't pay for chores.

And, we still don't.

Only, my kids are now 14 and 10. They like to have money to use in town at the candy store and local coffee shop. There are games and music they want for their iPods. They talk about wanting "this", and how they are going to buy "that". They want to save money. They have even expressed wanting to treat a friend now and again.

BUT . . . . THEY DON'T HAVE MONEY.

Until now.

Enter: Our new job board.

I wanted to use a little creativity to teach my children that they must earn an income - it won't be handed to them. I didn't want to use our daily and weekly household chores for this purpose, for we feel those are the natural part of being a contributing member of our family. So, choosing some "over and above" needs that we have around the house, I went the independent contractor route. Now, if the kid's need cash, they can check the board. Upon reading the job offerings, they can:

  1. BID on the job
  2. INTERVIEW for the job.
  3. BE HIRED at an agreed upon wage. (Some of their bids are too high.)
  4. COMPLETE the job in the agreed upon time frame.

Examples of current jobs for bid?

  • Sorting almost 3 years of household statements (utilities, banking, etc.) by year. (I don't even want to tackle that one.)
  • Cleaning out the Dining Room sideboard with Mom. (Full of years and years of I don't know what.)
  • Breaking down every empty box from Mom's recent office decluttering project. (Doesn't sound like a big job, but, um, you were not there.)

The bids are in.

Time for interviews!

Right now, this all seems like a great idea. Then again, I have a lot of great ideas that go nowhere. This, however, has potential due to my children's ages, their desire to have spending money, and the simplicity of the activity. Choose a job, name your price, talk it over, and get it done. So far, both bid on the same job. And while my son's bid was lower, I hired my daughter, because my son's room was completely trashed, and I felt he needed to put his focus there. They both rallied for it, but dibs will definitely go to the one keeping of with their other responsibilities.

See, those bedrooms, the laundry, and emptying the dishwasher? Sorry, kiddos, those chores are still expected - free of charge.

How you you handle giving your older children spending money?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

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Loosening Up Social Media Rules

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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She had a strong pitch. It appealed to my softer side.

"Mom, have you heard of google+?"

"Yes, but I don't understand how it works."

"A few of the kids in my class and on my basketball team chat on it."

"Oh. That's cool."

Silence.

"Um, did you want to ask me something?"

"A couple of the girls asked me if I can join. You know, so we can chat?"

Up until now, there has been no Facebook. No Instagram. And no Twitter. I've not allowed any social media. I don't even understand how Google+ works!

(Does anyone really know how Google+ works?)

This year has been so positive for my middle-schooler. The move from a larger school to one where her entire 8th grade class consists of about 18 kids, has been a huge confidence builder. The entire middle school, 6th-8th, mix and hang together. Just last week I enjoyed watching them engage in a very spirited White Elephant gift exchange - all of them circling the gym with a pile of wrapped presents in the center. The community we've been wanting for her has been found, both in the classroom, and with her team on the basketball court.

So, I wasn't surprised by her request. I WAS surprised about the platform.

Google+?

Apparently.

We made an agreement. As long as I have her google password, and can access her page (if that's what it's even called), she may "hangout". She may only add people from school. My snooping thus far, has revealed photos of all the Graeter's ice cream her grandparents brought in from Cincinnati, cupcakes she baked, and a hilarious joke from a friend concerning the current state of health for  all the Webkinz that have "died" due to neglect. 

Am I nervous about loosening the grip?

A little.

Middle-schoolers aren't the best verbal communicators in the world, so I struggle with this mode of interaction. Will something someone writes be misunderstood? Will feelings be hurt? We as adults screw up on social media all the time. I'm just hoping her google+ experience doesn't go farther than movie posters, funny memes, and the "I am watching TV" updates.

And then there's the amount of time she's "hanging out". We've got a self-admitted iPad addict here - her words. I'm in agreement. We will have to be very careful about overuse.

So, yes, I have concerns.

I'm also quite fond of her new friends.

Thus, we're in.

And while I can't physically be with her all the time, Mama's got game on social media. I'm watching.

Are your kids on any social media sites? Which ones? Do you have access to their pages?




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

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To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Don't Mess With Holiday Traditions

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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"Mom, are we starting the Advent boxes tomorrow?"

Uh-oh.

It was November 30th. We had just returned home from a trip out east where we celebrated the life of my Nanny (grandmother) who had passed away a week earlier. It was our second trip out to the Philadelphia area in a week. We were emotionally and physically spent. We hadn't even thought about bringing Christmas up from the basement yet: the bins of ornaments, decorative items, lights, or, yes, those Advent boxes. Over the years, those 24 little boxes were always filled by December 1. This year? I didn't even know where the boxes were. 

I was truly wondering if my kids would even remember our Advent box tradition with how chaotic the week had been. And, secretly, I was hoping they wouldn't.

Well, that's the thing about traditions. They stick.

"Hey, kiddos, I'm not sure we're going to do the Advent boxes this year."

Silence.

No pout. No back-chat. They held back any expressions of disappointment. It was as if they understood that the emotional weight of the week had worn Mom out.

"It's, OK, Mom. Really."

I was so impressed. 

And sad.

I couldn't let it happen. It took me a week, but by the time they returned home from school on December 8th, the Advent boxes were sitting in the living room. Stocked. Up to Day 8. Fist-bump.

"Go ahead! Open!"

"Wait. We can open 8 days?"

"Yep. Thank you for being so understanding."

A week earlier, as I prepared to share memories of my Nanny at the funeral, I was struck by how many of them were centered around Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. It was wonderful to share my personal snapshots with those who came to celebrate her life with us. When grown, I want my children to recall the special moments they remembered looking forward to every year. And Advent boxes are the one consistent tradition we've adopted. Filled with tiny gifts, or slips of paper announcing an activity or outing for the day, I just couldn't bear knowing that my children were holding back their disappointment because they didn't want me to feel badly for putting the tradition on hold.

But after celebrating my Nanny's life of tradition, wasn't it fitting that I should continue in her footsteps?

Our Advent boxes will be something my children can pass down to their children. 

I'm glad we can give them this tradition.

Do you have any holiday traditions? Care to share?

 




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.

Lessons Learned from Road-Trip Binges

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I used to have it in the bag.

Literally.

Fruit, sandwiches, pretzels, trail mix, veggies, and maybe even some hummus.

All packed in a small cooler for a road-trip. This frugal and smart fitness coach knew how to travel with health in mind. 

Somewhere along the way, I've lost my culinary road-trip mojo. My resolve seems to have petered out. Hop in a car and all bets are off!

Recently, we had to take an unplanned trip to Philadelphia. I quickly threw some apples, granola bars, and home-made juices in a cooler and we set off. I was strong. We were going to save money and eat healthy snacks. Maybe pick up a little something for lunch.

Rest Stop #1: Sure everyone can have Starbuck's, and grab breakfast while you're at it! A steamer, a few lattes, and some baked treats to go, and we were back in the car.

Rest Stop #2: Thirsty again? Sure! Go for it. Another little snack won't hurt ya. Beef jerky and a Lunchable? Sounds good to me.

Who am I, anyway? I've never ever purchased a Lunchable! My kids had no idea where their mother had gone. They were baffled.

And giddy.

In my sugar and carb stupor, the remainder of the drive was a blur. 

I could chalk up my behavior to the stress brought on by the need for the spontaneous trip, and yet I was quite aware of the truth that what we were consuming would only exasperate that stress, rather than calm it.

Oh, did I mentioned that we also drove HOME that very day?

Do the math. That makes double the rest-stop foods consumed.

The day after the binge brought no physiological surprises. We fully expected the lethargy, stomach-aches, and water-retention. My kids woke tired and grumpy. I woke needing a detox.

As I reflect back, I realize that sometimes, even with the best of intentions, Mama gets tired of planning.

And even though we ate our way to Philly and back, I must admit we had a nice time together. Munching and listening to an audio book.

I guess if Mom dropping the ball every once in a while makes for an entertaining memory for the kids, I can willingly choose this route again in the future. So often, I feel the pressure to view every circumstance as an opportunity to teach my kids a life lesson - for instance, "Be prepared, or you'll waste a ton of money on food that will send you straight to the rest-room - more than once."

It was kind of nice, for this time, I didn't teach them a darn thing.

Unless one considers giving instructions on how to balance a hot drink and a bag of dried and cured chunks of meat on one's lap a life skill.

If that's a life lesson, I taught it in spades.




Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.