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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Entertainment On the Road

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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There's just no way to share this without someone accusing me of being full of myself.

Great start.

I remember years of family trips. Via car. For hours. I was not fond of them.

The car rides, that is.

My family is fine.

(Most of the time.)

To the grandparents. Or a campground. The beach. I think we drove up to Canada. Florida, maybe? In our Chevrolet Caprice Classic. Three kids in the back seat. Or one in the cool back back seat that faced the rear window.

Not for me, though. 'Cause I was always the kid who threw up on car trips. Facing backwards was the worst.

I remember Dad would listen to AM radio or his "stories" during night drives. One Christmas, Mom made angel ornaments while riding shotgun. There was no tape player, or CD player, and if sense memory serves me correctly, I was always hot. And nauseous.

I probably spent the trips listening to my walkman. Or sleeping. Or asking when we could stop to go to the bathroom.

We didn't have DVD players to watch movies, either hooked up in the car, or personal ones to hold in our laps.

We watched the backs of our parent's seats, or whatever was out the window.

And that's how we did it back then.

And this is how we've done it for 13 years.

I'm sure my kids would love to watch a movie during our travels, but instead, we do books on CD. They also have their iPods for music and whatever games don't require wifi, but, for the majority of the hours in the car?

We listen to a book. Or books.

When they were younger, it was the Adventures in Odyssey radio show, or The Chronicles of Narnia. One of our most memorable surprises was "Tuck Everlasting". Things have changed. This weekend's selection is "To Kill A Mockingbird", which we've started reading as a family but haven't yet finished.

It's just always been our way. We've been offered DVD players and have always declined. Maybe it's just me being a hard "you-know-what", but it's how we do.

No movies or television in the car.

Am I awful?

How about you? (And trust me. Iif you are a traveling, DVD-playing family, I've got no qualms.)

Are traveling movie theaters the wave of the future that I just never rode???


Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. 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, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

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7th Grade School Dance: We've Arrived

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I don't ever remember having formal school dances in 7th grade.

Perhaps this is a new milestone in the world of middle school.

We had "soc-hops". After school. On a Friday. In our school clothes.

That was it.

Well, apparently, I didn't get the memo that things have changed since 1982. Nor did my daughter tell me that a dance was coming up.

My daughter, who by her own admission is not into clothes, makeup, boys, or drama, was completely confused as to whether she wanted to attend her first 7th grade dance. Dressing up is NOT her thing. And here, they dress! (And there are even flowers! Talk about feeling like a fish out of water!) But, she loves music. And dancing. Shoot, the girl would prefer to DJ a dance if she could.

So here we were, presented with the possibility of attending the 7th grade dance.

She couldn't make up her mind. And I wasn't about to interject. The decision had to be hers.

The day before the dance, she was home sick. That evening, she finally decided she would like to attend with friends.

That gave us 24 hours to get creative with the wardrobe. No dresses for this kid.

Only, that's when we learned,  "No tickets sold at the door. They were on sale at lunch all week."

I get that policy, well, kind of. We're talking awkward 7th graders, for which, (for some), attending a dance is a tough decision. My heart sank for my kid who had worked up the courage to attend something out of her comfort zone. For a kid who was REALLY unsure and nervous to attend, and somewhat on the fringe, I really hoped they'd relax the ticket policy for a first-time 13 year old dance.

It wasn't Prom.

Well, thanks to a friend, who called a friend, whose daughter is on student council, who contacted the President of council, who called the Student Advisor - we secured a ticket. (And then I helped another unsure kid secure one. Gotta pay it forward, right?)

We shopped. And I watched my girl find her own style - which, interestingly enough, looked like she was out of an 80's John Hughes movie. She chose jewelry. And asked to get her nails done. Hair was styled with the care we don't see on weekday mornings. No makeup. Hightops donned.

She was herself. Fully herself.

And as she arrived at her friend's house and watched all the other girls arrive in their dresses, teetering in their heels, she told them they looked great with a huge, comfortable smile on her face. Selfies were taken. Hugs all around.

Because,

It. Didn't. Matter.

She had a great time!

"And I was one of the only girls who didn't need to remove my shoes to dance!"

Cool.

At 13, I never would have been caught dead at a dance where I was the only girl wearing pants.

She's more brave than I ever was.

Oh, how our kids can teach us things. Things we can use now. Even at 45.


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 is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. 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, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

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 TV is Educational (Or, Perhaps I'm Just Fooling Myself)

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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It started innocently a month or so ago.

I shared an episode of "Sherlock" with my kids.

And then, 1 episode of "Downtown Abbey", Season 4.

Hooked, I tell you. HOOKED! My kids became hooked on British TV with the introduction of these two shows. "Dr. Who", followed. For weeks. And weeks.

So much TV. Admittedly, this started during the time of all the school delays and closings for snow - and I was tired. Tired of even trying to make them go to bed, because I was freezing and paralyzed, and did I mention tired, due to the cold and the ice and snow. And, I figured there would be a delay the next day anyway. So, we binged. On PBS.

My kids came to love Carson, and Mrs. Hughes. And wasn't Daisy so cute. And Anna so delightful. And how about that Lady Mary. And don't get me started on Thomas, "That's Mr. Barrow to you".

Suffice it to say, we now have Playmobile toys named after Downton characters.

We decided to go back in time and start at Season 1.

Oops.

Forgot about Season 1.

Starting with the first episode, I realized we were swimming in new waters. Thomas, specifically, brought up many a question by my son. Topics and conversations I wasn't planning to discuss with Zane right now. But, well, no time like the present. No way to avoid it.

Pause screen.

"Yes, about Thomas . . ."

Zane had quite the furrowed, confused brow, as we shared openly about how Thomas was attracted to other men. We didn't freak out, or try to hide it, and offered to answer any questions he had. I'm sure I broke out in hives under my clothing. I was completely unprepared.

As for Mary's indiscretions? Well, while Harper had been well-versed on that subject, we simply told Zane that Mary had been "too flirty" with a boy.

Aaaaaand . . . moving on.

We've now talked about traditions in post-Edwardian times, the class system of upstairs vs downstairs, heirs, the sinking of the Titanic, WWI.

Television, CAN be educational.

In, ahem, many ways.

Right?


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 is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, 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, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

 

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.

Phrases I Use With My Kids

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Parent Magazine recently published a list of 10 things we should never say to our kids.

Like many of our readers, I called, "BUNK" on what constitutes a "toxic" phrase.

But, rather than debate the phrases the magazine cautions us about, I thought it would be fun to see 10 phrases I use.

Often.

1. "First things first". Yep, that means don't touch that iPod or the TV until what I've asked you to do is done. Homework isn't complete? Dirty clothes all over the floor? Personal items strewn over every inch of the house? Well, those are "first things". Finish those, and you can move on to the fun.

2. "Do. Or do not. There is no try." Call me Yoda. The word "try" is simply too easy to mutter as an excuse. Kind of like how adults overuse the word "busy". Call me a hard-arse, but both words are simply frames for excuses.

3. "Get a move on, or I'm leaving." This would be my version of Parent Magazine's "hurry up". I am leaving. Right now. I gave you a 15 and a 5 minute warning. Let's go. And I'm out the door. In the car. Hope you can catch me as I drive away.

4. "I'm sorry that hurt your feelings." I don't ever want my children to ignore their feelings. How to respond when sad, angry, disappointed, or hurt, is an entirely different discussion, but I do try to acknowledge that their feelings matter. Even pint-sized people have legitimate feelings.

5. "We can't afford that." I say it. Why not? Sometimes, I add, "Maybe we can look into that later" and remind them of the tickets to Wicked and that ski trip we took - things for which we budgeted. But I see NOTHING wrong with telling my kids that we simply can not afford this or that.

6. "Healthy stuff first. Put it back." I'm a health coach. My kids know this. They also know that I will indulge them on whim. And while my kitchen just doesn't house a ton of snacks, we do have a supply of goldfish (cheddar-blast - omg, they are dangerously good), and some other fun yummies, that may ONLY be enjoyed AFTER a healthier choice is made. Often, they are not hungry for the less-healthy option afterwards, and if they are - OK. They know what healthy looks like, and while under my charge, it is my responsibility to provide them with options that are good for them. Hopefully, when they are older, they will remember what they've learned.

7. "Wanna workout with me?" We NEVER use the word diet in our house. EVER. For we are not on one. But, we do value exercise and nutrition. While we ask the kids to join us in our attic-gym space, usually only my son says "yes". They know Mom and Dad workout everyday, and not because have weight to lose. It's just what we do.

8. "Always." This is lways my answer to my son who constantly asks, "Mommy, can I ask you a question?" Now, if I am in the middle of something, I will add, "Can you give me 5 minutes?" but I ALWAYS want to be available to for their questions. Sadly, my 9 year old stumps me most of the time. Many of his questions, I can not even answer.

9. "That's not my responsibility." Shoes, jackets, gloves, backpacks, lunch bags, notebooks, iPods, phones, toothbrushes, - you get the idea. I've created a space for all of these things. Can't find it? That's a shame. Next time? Put it back.

10. "I love you." Daily. Often. Without reservation. Random. Spontaneous. No reason.


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 is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, 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, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

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.

Homeschool Update: Missing Other Kids

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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"Mom, I don't want to upset you."

Oh boy. What did he break? Did the dog crap in a bedroom? That is NOT the way a conversation should start.

"What's up, Zane." (Staying calm.)

"I just don't want to hurt your feelings."

Sweet boy.

Still, what the heck is going on????

"I miss seeing kids during the day."

Ahhhhh!

It was around this time last year that I started thinking about home-schooling. To my surprise, (for I NEVER thought I'd choose this route for either of my kids), I decided to pull Zane out for 3rd grade and do the self-paced program via PA Cyber, as I couldn't wrap my brain around traditional home-schooling. He had been communicating boredom in 2nd grade, and was frustrated with sheet after sheet of homework that he would rush through because they were "easy".

So, we went for it.

I've loved the approach - how all the subjects compliment each other. I've liked the freedom to opt out of assignments if he has already mastered the material. Yes, there are tests and worksheets we must turn in, but, for the most part, we've been really pleased with the content and the approach. The amount of writing is overwhelming, but a skill he needs.

But . . .

There have not been any opportunities for him to connect regularly with other PA Cyber kids. And I wasn't able to get into local co-ops - nor was I eager to commit to being a part of one, since I work from home full-time as well.

And while he enjoys a weekly children's program at a local bible study I attend, he had this to say to me a few weeks ago -

"I like you being my teacher and all, but I miss kids."

I told him going in that we weren't married to this forever, so I took his words seriously.

Thus, we have applied to a local charter school with an arts-infused curriculum. Only, we don't live in the district, so the odds are NOT forever in our favor for him to be accepted - especially not in the 4th grade.

Lottery.

But, dagnabit, we've applied anyway!

(I'm not even complaining about him having to take the PSSAs with PA Cyber this year (can't stand those test), because at least he'll get to see other kids!)

He's a good student. He's good with other kids. He's creative. And, well, he asked to rejoin others.

How could I say "no"?

And he loved the idea of the charter school. And has his heart set on it. But I explained the set-up. He knows going in, that it's not anywhere near a done deal.

We find out in two weeks whether he got past the lottery.

If not, we'll research other opportunities, for I'm still convinced that he needs a bit of a different teaching model for his personalty.

Only, he'd like that model to include other kids.

And, really, who can argue with that?


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 is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 12 and 8, 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, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family.

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.