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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My Children and the Ice Bucket Challenge

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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As I wrote on Facebook earlier this week,

"CONFESSION!
I wasn't going to do the ALS ice water challenge because, "everyone is doing it", "it's a fad", "people just want attention", blah, blah, blah.

And then I realized that my holier than thou attitude - MY cynicism, was NOT what I wanted to sit in this week with all the other happenings in our world. The news has SUCKED, people. Overseas. Here in the U.S.

So, you know what? A little ice water over the head to wake me OUT of negativity, and a contribution to help find a cure for an illness for which I'd never really taken notice, was awesome. And so was watching a community do it together. #facebookforthewin"

And then, I watched this video explaining why/how the Ice Bucket Challenge originated. I immediately showed it to my children. They asked me questions I couldn't answer.

"What is ALS? Why does it do that to a person?"

While I couldn't answer the specific medical questions, I could explain how debilitating and fatal this disease can be. I could explain how it takes a lot of money to research cures for something like ALS.

"Well then, I hope someone nominates me," my son shared.

Facebook can be a real downer. A den of negativity. A drama-filled, narcissistic environment.

IF you allow it to wield THAT power.

It can also be a place where an online community comes together to put smiles on the faces of those suffering from ALS, or those who have lost someone to ALS. 

Social media has the power to raise awareness - even during a time when much of our country is rightfully focused on what could be considered more pressing news.

So, I dumped that water on my head. My son dumped that water on his. My husband will do so tonight, and my daughter was just nominated.

And we will give towards the initiative for more research. Others, may just dump the water. WHO CARES? 

Raising awareness has merit.

My children are being raised in a world where social media can either sting or serve as a source of fuel to encourage them to think outside their little world. Through just this Facebook challenge alone, they caught a glimpse into the hardships of others, and assisted by adding to the spark that created a communal explosion of support on behalf of those who need it.

Did you take the Ice Bucket Challenge?

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Amtrak Adventure

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I am completely face-palming myself.


We moved to Pittsburgh 5 years ago. My sister and her four kids live in the Philly area.

I only just discovered Amtrak. 

To think, over these last 5 years, my kids and I could have been visiting the cousins way more often via a super relaxing train trek that only took over 6 hours, and costing us about the same amount we would pay in gas.

6 hours spent reading. 
Listening to music.
Drinking coffee.
Writing.
Enjoying my son's enthusiasm for the scenery:

"Look! It's beautiful!"

"Mom, wetlands!" (For the record, I don't know if we actually passed wetlands.)

And, "Well this is a nice stop for the people who need to get off for a smoking break."

The seats were spacious and comfortable - such leg-room!
There were outlets.
The aisles were wide.
The dining car had a great choices. (We packed food, but the kids were excited to visit the dining car - and I wanted to give them the full experience.)
The bathrooms were roomier than an airplane. (Albeit, not necessarily as clean. Then gain, who really knows how clean an airplane bathroom actually is.)

We will definitely be traveling by train in the future. For while it does take a bit longer to reach one's destination, it was a much nicer experience than driving. We arrived at my sister's well rested. Heck, I finished an entire book! And for one lucky traveler they will now have a a complimentary yoga mat/bag which I absentmindedly left behind. My response to forgetting this item is a true testament to how relaxed the trip was for me . . . I could care less.


Namaste, travelers.

My children agree, that the train is a GREAT alternative to driving. And with gas prices as they are, the train is cost effective. Where to next? Any suggestions?

And to put the perfect button on the experience, we even met a young gal from Indiana who was traveling to New York, following her dream to become an actress. Sounds cliche, but it happened. I mean, how perfect is that?

Have you ever taken Amtrak? Where did you go, and how was the experience?


 

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!

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.

My Children Don't Need Me! (as much)

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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They are 13 and 9. 
GREAT ages.
Turning point ages.
Turning point for ME, that is.

And yes, for them, of course. But, I am having to adapt as well.

They won't kill each other when I leave them home alone.
They can fry an egg for breakfast.
They make their own lunch - if they choose to eat.
They will complete the list of chores hanging in the kitchen without *much* push back. 
They run errands for me at the post office.
They can bike to the library.
They can make a deposit at the bank, or waste their money at the candy store.
They actually help out with the younger kids at social gatherings.
They appreciate "Pysch".

They spend hours playing at friend's houses.

Hours.

Ok. As someone who works from home, I'm torn.
I really like my kids. Of course I love them, but I also really like them. I enjoy them.
And while being handed uninterrupted time to work is awesome, I also miss them.
They are at that age where they would rather play at a friend's house rather than ours. And, thankfully, they have some really great friends.
One with an entire wooded nature-fest to explore.
One with a pool.

And so, off they go. 
While I stay home and write, connect with customers, and straighten up. 

They are 13 and 9.
GREAT ages.
And truly, I am proud of who they are growing up to be.

I am grateful.

And, just a little lonely without them.

True story.

Do you understand my plight? Wanting them to stay young, but relishing that they are growing up?


 

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!

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.

Pottery for the Whole Family

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Back in June I had no summer plans. This worried me a bit. With a 13 and 9 year old, the risk of not having anything planned could mean that the temptation to spend the summer on the iPod was a possible reality.

Aside from getting through every episode of "Family Ties" late into the evenings, (who didn't love that show?) we're now hitting mid-July, and I have to say that this has been an INCREDIBLE summer thus far!

Why?

Clay.

Both the kids and I have spent a nice chunk of time this summer at Stray Cat Studio in Beaver Falls.

I've suggested pottery to my kids in the past, but it wasn't until a friend set up a "Ladies Night Out" for a group of us, that I really got a literal hands-on look at how much my kids would love hand-building and wheel-throwing.

Along with being a full pottery studio, Stray Cat also boasts an incredible store full of artisan's creations: pottery, jewelry, scarves, woodwork, and more - all one of a kind and unique pieces made by artists in and around Western, PA.

My friends and I enjoyed a hand-building class, created just for our night out, and received fantastic, detailed, and patient instruction from Tim, the studio Manager. After building the pieces, we returned just over a week later to glaze. We brought munchies, wine, and open minds as we all dove into something new.

My daughter, 13, enjoyed a week-long wheel-throwing class, and found a new hobby that she enjoys. She recently returned to glaze, and next week we get to see the results of her hard work.

But what really impressed me is that the studio agreed to create an impromptu wheel-building class for my son and two of his friends, as one wasn't being offered for his age-group.

Stray Cat Studio is a super friendly place, and have made my kids feel so very welcomed. And valued. They treat them like the artists they are.

And I have had the satisfaction of seeing them get their hands dirty, while loving every minute of it.

To hear them say, "Can we just head over the Stray Cat from time to time and make something new?" is music to my ears. And yes. Yes, they can head over and work with the clay when a camp or class isn't in session - for a nominal fee. Please check out their website and give them a call!!! They'd love to have you in a class, a camp, or set up a special session with your group.

We've got clay under our nails and are proud of it!!!


 

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!

 

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.

No, You Can't Bring Your Phone

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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Picture my daughter's birthday party back in January: several girls on their phones/ipods, texting and Instagramming.

Fast forward to today.

My daughter had a friend over, and for a while they ran around outside. I even heard sword-play from the likes of wooden swords. 

Afterwards, I commented, "Sounds like you had a great time." 

Harper replied, "Yep, it was fun, but "so-and-so" was playing on her phone most of the time. I had to ask her to put it away."

I gave her a high-five.

What the heck, people?

My daughter has a phone. It can make/receive calls, and has texting. Data, however, is turned off. And after 8:00 PM, the phone can only contact me, my husband, and grandparents. That's it. It also remains inside when she's out running around the yard with friends. I'm such a kill-joy.

She also has an iPod Touch. Although, recently, that got taken from her when she chose to play on IT, rather than read one of her summer books, as per our agreement. Sorry, Charlie. Mess with the bull and all . . .

Then there's the iPad. While we turned in the school's iPad at the end of the year, my daughter has a huge interest in video production, and has even developed a Youtube cooking show called "Replicate It". I'm all for encouraging interests, as are the grandparents, so unbeknownst to her, she will be receiving a new iPad in a few weeks. However, it will be linked to MY iTunes account, to which I hold the password. Thus, no social media apps - which was NOT the case on her school iPad. Iron fist here . . .

Why am I so tough on this? After all, I'm no saint. I use social media for HOURS every day. I am definitely guilty of being on electronics for home (my calendar/to-do list/finances), work (social media/blog/website), and chatting with friends. I am not immune to the temptation.

But.

I also know how to talk with people and hold a conversation in person. And I am concerned. Concerned that this younger generation doesn't know how to make eye contact or carry on a conversation VERBALLY. 

This concern doesn't just arise from people-watching. No, I actually work with a number of younger individuals who admittedly struggle with how to initiate conversations. And by younger, I mean, in their 20's. Which, at this point, is a different generation than mine. (Hello, 45!)

I wonder if that learned skill, (and yes, it is a skill) is being lost on an even YOUNGER generation. I wouldn't be surprised if this generation of kids developed neck problems from looking down, and carpel tunnel from tap, tapping away on their screens.

I am guilty. My own behavior is culpable for stunting the communicative growth of this generation. Heavy-handed? Overly-dramatic? I truly believe we share the blame.

Thus, my husband and I have just started to build a habit of NOT bringing our phones with us while walking into town with the kids, or heading out to dinner with them. They are not allowed at the dinner table (that's been in place awhile), and if we are out with others as a family, the phone gets left in the car/bag. It's not surprising, that if we leave them behind, Harper isn't has tempted to take hers. 

It's easy to look outward and complain about what we are seeing. But when I picked up a mirror, I realized, my children have learned it from me.

Change is not easy. But it does indeed start with me.


 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!

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.