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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Math.

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Image result for math confusionGreat title.

Math.

Doesn't that just make you want to read further?

(Insert a big sigh.)

I am so very thankful that we moved my daughter to a smaller school this year. The teachers are downright astounding with her. She loves being at her school, and other than having "8th grade-itis", which I am assured by her Science teacher is a real thing, she's done very well this year.

And then there is Math.

We are blessed, and I'm not using that word lightly, with a fantastic Math teacher and a curriculum that has helped my daughter perform better than 7th grade - and yet . . . I'm just hoping we finish the school year alive.

Is it OK to say Math is just not her thing? Or is that a cop out? She works with the teacher one-one-one, has the option of taking her math tests untimed and seems to understand the work in practice. But come test time we always have a big dose of "Well, that didn't go as well as we'd hoped."

I recall hearing John Maxwell speak on the topic of weaknesses. He said the exact opposite of everything I've ever believed about how to handle a deficiency,

"Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins - a few made of pure gold and the rest of tarnished copper - and setting aside the gold coins to spend all your time cleaning and shining the copper ones in the hopes of making them look more valuable. No matter how long you spend on them, they will never be worth what the gold ones are. Go with your greatest assets; don’t waste your time. Don’t let your weaknesses get in the way of you reaching your full potential. Focus on what you do well, and capitalize on that"

I don't think he's saying blow off Math class. I do think he's saying that we need to get through it the best we can without neglecting the areas where she is strong: Writing (her creative writing has potential) and History (she loves it). These are areas to be honed. We tend not to spend as much time on these subjects because she shows a stronger aptitude in them. I can see the risk we take in putting so much focus on math, rather than being pleased with concentrated effort and the best outcome that she can muster. In doing so, we are missing out on the pure gold coins, while being hyper-focused on polishing the tarnished copper ones. We will continue to get extra help in math. We will even hire a tutor for next year, for she does want to do better. But I would love to take some of the emotional energy we've poured into Math and return it to other subjects where she excels, and could be an even stronger student.

I'm already shopping for a regular Algebra I tutor for the Fall. One who is local, does house calls, and enjoys soup. I fully intend on feeding them.

So while we will continue to do what we can in Math, (for putting forth less effort would be negligent), we will consciously place more focus on continuing to build her areas of strength.


What do you think of John Maxwell's approach to strengths and weaknesses when it comes to your child?


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 14 and 10, 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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My kids are missing school for a family vacation

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Image result for suitcasesI earned a trip to Disney through my business a few years ago. It was scheduled during the school year.

We were thrilled. And had a great time. Kids included.

I'm currently flying the friendly skies to Dallas for a family wedding.

My son is beside me and my daughter is across the aisle. (Hence, a family wedding. It would kind of be weird to leave them home.)

My children have most definitely missed school for occasions like these.

Like many, I found the recent exchange between school officials and the Boston Marathon running Dad to be very interesting and am trying to figure out where I land in the court of opinion.

I'm intrigued because I'm a rule-follower. Until, I'm not.

It's funny. I love order. I support rules. Laws. Decorum. "First things first" is the motto in our house. And yet, when faced with the opportunity to bring my children on a complimentary trip to Disney for the week (5th and 1st grade at the time), we didn't think twice, even meeting up with our parents during the trip. The kids brought homework and did a bit in our room every morning before heading out for fun, and my daughter was also given the assignment of interviewing someone from another country. This was easy peasy to complete being down at Disney, for "Cast members" have their country of origin listed on their name tags.

It's a small world, after all.

Even so, it was definitely not an educational trip. Nor is the wedding we are headed to today. (Unless one counts the missed schoolwork that I demanded be completed before we left or while on the plane.)

I never even thought to check school policy on taking my children out of school during the school year. To this day, I'm assuming the Disney absences were (and our recent ones will be) excused? Perhaps I'm completely naive? More likely, I didn't read the school's handbook. It truly never crossed my mind that these trips may not be considered OK.

Talking with a few friends online about the recent situation with Boston Marathon Dad, there is a clear difference of opinion.

Some find that while these parents had every right to take their children out of school for travel, they were still in violation of the local school board's policy. Others take issue with the father's response to the principal, and how it was executed: Facebook (did he think it would not be shared?). Still others find it frustrating that there are such zero-tolerance policies towards absences and that the issue should be addressed and challenged.

Case in point, for friend's of ours, not even a family funeral was deemed as an excused absence. Hmmmm.

I can see how this topic would foster a myriad of opinions. And truly, don't stories like our Boston-traveling family always come down to personal opinion?

Have you ever taken your kids out of school for vacation?

Were the absences considered excused or unexcused?

 



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 14 and 10, 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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When our kids ask questions

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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My son is extremely inquisitive. 

"Mommy, can I ask a question?"

He began asking this question when very young, and continues to do so even now, at 10 years old.

Several times a day.

While his question has been upgraded to the statement, "Mommy, I have a question", the intention is still the same. This kid has an insatiable thirst for information.

Early on, my standard response to this question became, "Always." I answer the same every time, regardless of question or statement.

However, there are times when I can not answer him immediately, either because I am in the middle of something, I simply do not know the answer, or the answer is going to require a longer conversation than the time we have.

For example, questions such as, "What is truth?" and "Was Thomas from Downton Abbey taking drugs to help him stop being so mean?" were definitely tabled for a later discussion when we could devote more time in solid conversation.

See, we're not talking questions like, "Can I have another bowl of ice cream?"

I love that my son asks questions. Lately, though, his questions reveal that his little brain is catching up with me. For often I can't seem to answer his philosophical questions when they arise. While my response remains, "Always," I usually have to add, "Hmm, I don't know. I'll need to look that up."

I want my kids to be life-long learners, so asking questions is a must. But I'm torn.

I remember a time when my kids would ask me questions to which I knew every answer. As they grow, simple answers no longer do the trick. Depth is desired. Although sometimes, depth is not warranted or appropriate - not just yet. And for those questions, I answer, "I'd be glad to discuss this when you are a tad bit older."

During our brief home-school stint, I had my son keep a question notebook. This allowed us to stay on track with schoolwork and gave me a head's up as to what I'd need to google in order to provide a correct answer.

Maybe I need to implement that system once again!

Do you find yourself getting stumped by the questions your children ask they get older?





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 14 and 10, 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!

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.

When Mom is sick

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I didn't get sick all winter.

All. Stinkin'. Cold. Winter.

I even dodged a stomach virus that attacked the rest of my family.

So, leave it to me to get some nasty sinus thingamabob this week, which kept me from enjoying the tiny glimmers of sunlight and warmth we had between the wind and rain.

As is the case with most people, I am not a pillar of patience when under the weather. I work from home, so I still managed to clock into the office, but while my job usually leaves me so energized that I can also attend to the family at night, the past few days have seen me crawling in bed by 8:00 - wiped out.

In between blowing my nose, intermittent hacking, neti pots, and steaming my sinuses, I have noted the interesting statements my children have directed at their sick mother. I keep track. It's entertaining.

On what mom does for a living:

"Mom, go to bed. You don't need to write that article. If they aren't paying you, don't do it."

"Kid, it IS part of my job. I AM paid as a writer."

"Oh! You are? I thought you just talk to people on line all day long."

Then there was my daughter, who while hanging with a friend shared, "Mom, you should go lay down. 'Cause whenever you are sick, you usually just yell at us to shut-up."

(There may be some truth to that.)

How shocked was I to wander downstairs to find the surprise a dog had left me on one of our living room chairs. No one seemed to noticed the puke. Or the SECOND PILE ON ANOTHER CHAIR! Two dogs. Two chairs. Two pukes. No one noticed. Apparently, the only one with two eyes is Mom.

Thanks, and good night!

Frankly, they want me to quarantine myself in the bedroom because they know that with Mom out of the way there will be more trips to the froyo shop (they best get some for me), a latte or two, the possibility of Dad picking up food that has been banned from this house for years, and no kidding, I think all three of them have fallen asleep on the couch every night since Tuesday. I've not been there to march them all, husband included, upstairs.

As annoyed as I could get, I just don't have it in me. Times like these call for Mama's iron grip to be loosened.

They are clothed. (I mean, I don't think they wore those outfits yesterday).

They are fed. (Nothing like a nice hoagie roll with a slice of American cheese to satisfy one's hunger for dinner.)

And, all kidding aside, they are being kind to me. My son brings me tea. My daughter gets this nurturing voice and holds my hand. My husband does a ton around here.

And today was the day our cleaning lady came.

She wins the grand prize.

So, I guess all is well in our house.

Although I'm not going downstairs to check.

What happens in your house when Mom gets sick and is down for the count?





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 14 and 10, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

I'm talking about guns today

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I support the 2nd amendment.

I have no issues with the use of guns for hunting or sport.

My husband owns a hunting rifle, which is properly secured.

My father owned a hunting rifle, but I have no recollection of it. He assures me that it was hidden and properly secured with the shells being stored in a separate location.

I only know guns from an urban crime perspective, having grown up outside Washington D.C. and then living in Chicago for 20 years.

So, admittedly, guns make me nervous.

Even so, I'm OK with responsible personal gun ownership. Emphasis on the word responsible.

And yet.

I am concerned, no, disgusted, by the growing epidemic of children being injured, killed, and emotionally scarred from getting their hands on guns which adults have left loaded and unsecured in the home. The numbers on this are dreadful. A 2014 study showed that 7000 kids are injured every year due to guns and an additional 3000 are killed. 

We, as parents, and those who support responsible gun ownership, should be concerned.

In 7 days alone, there were 10 unintential incidents of injuries or deaths involving guns in the hands of minors ages 5-17. All "accidental". All due to guns that were improperly stored, (which means not at all) in a home. In one incident, a child of 14 took a gun from his family's home after allegedly being upset over a minor incident at school and committed suicide. Children who can not possibly comprehend the danger of a firearm and teens who are not emotionally mature enough to handle molehills which seem like mountains at the time, should not have such easy access to deadly weapons. And research shows, that even households that teach responsible gun ownership are still at greater risk for unfortunate situations such as these. Unsupervised children and guns do not mix.

Today I learned that Texas may be allowing concealed carry in college classrooms. And while I'm not so naive as to believe that this doesn't already occur, I have spoken to friends who are college professors (not in Texas) and they find this frightening. After all, do college students always make the best choices? I think incidents (non-related to firearms) on the campuses of Penn State and University of Oklahoma this week show us that not even 18-21 year olds act with great judgement at all times. There is an impulsiveness and emotional immaturity that is still present during the college years. Adding guns to the classroom, according to the University of Texas Chancellor William McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy admiral who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, will make campuses "less safe". 

I'm going with that guy's opinion.

Current escalation of these stories reminds me that I need to ask, "Is there an unsecured gun in the house" when having my kids hang out at homes of new friends. And while I feel so odd asking this, afraid of coming across as judgmental, statistics reveal that I must ask.

Have you asked this question of other parents?
If you own a firearm, how would you suggest we handle these delicate conversations?

I pray that we begin to see a decline in these incidents involving our children.

But truly, it is up to us.

The adults. 

The one's with the power to lock them up.

(The guns . . . not the children.)





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 14 and 10, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.