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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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!

 

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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.

Do Our Kids Have to Share?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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My son got a fabulous new bike for Christmas. It was a group effort, paid for by us and both sets of grandparents. He waited all winter, and I meal all winter, (wow, was that a long one) to get outside on his new bike and cruise around. In fact on a few "warmer" days during the winter - you know, 38 degrees . . . he would attempt to ride his bike up and down the street, while bundled up. Those rides didn't last long.

Finally, the weather warmed up.

We have a fairly active street - lots of kids. Most have bikes. Some have nicer bikes than others.

And my son's bike is definitely one of those. I mean, it's brand new. It's orange and shiny and turns heads.

On several occasions, Zane has a been asked by other kids if they can try out his bike. Zane, being a pretty kind little guy, has agreed. Until he made a few observations: a few kids don't wear helmets, and there are some who like to do "stunts" on their own bikes. This had him pause.

"Mom, I want to share, but I don't like someone being on my bike who doesn't wear a helmet."

"Well, can they borrow your helmet?"

"Mine doesn't fit them. And, it's not just that. They do tricks on their bikes and want to try them on mine. And I don't want my bike to get damaged."

And that's when I realized, that he shouldn't have to share, if he doesn't want to do so.

We raise our kids to be polite, giving, and thoughtful, but we also need to teach them to have good judgement, be responsible with their personal belongings, and have the confidence to stand up and defend their choices.

In this case, he was both concerned about the safety of the other kid, and hesitant due to the possible damage their actions could do to his bike. Which, was an expensive investment.

I backed him up.

His choice was not a popular one.

Do we equate sharing with being courteous/friendly, and not sharing with being selfish?

When is it appropriate for a child to choose NOT 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, 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.

Breaking Up with Homeschooling

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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My son finish 3rd Grade this week.

We survived our first year of homeschooling.

It will also be our last. 

Not because we didn't enjoy it. I really loved having my son home with me. He is a self-motivator. Easy to teach. Yes, he had some rough days, as all people do, including his mother, who admittedly had some heated moments of, "Just finish the worksheet, already!". But regardless, we enjoyed each other's company. And he mastered some great skills this year.

More importantly, I really got to know my son better. Just the two of us all day. And if that was the sole outcome from my teaching him at home, it was well worth it.

And yet, he misses the classroom. The group work. Raising his hand. Having lunch with kids. He is one enthusiastic kid. And creative. And just a really nice guy. I even miss him being with other kids. 

On my end, I am not confident that I have the skills to lead him academically. He's a bright one, and while I intially walked into this adventure questioning my ability to teach him, I finished the school year even more confirmed as to whether I would be able to keep up with him as the content becomes more challenging. And then there are the responsibilities of my job. Working from home is a glorious perk, and allowed us this year-long experiment. However, it was also very hard to switch hats smoothly. 

Ok, let's not mince words: 

"Homeschooling . . . I'm just not that into you." 

"Homeschooling . . . it's not you. It's me."

He wants to go back to school. 

I want to honor that. And while I love the idea of teaching from home, I don't believe it's the right fit for us.

Scene.

However, we are not returning to public school, having chosen a small private school where he will be 1 of 21 4th graders next year. Upon visiting the school, he glowed. During a few hours of shadowing the class he remarked, "I felt like I fit right in." When asked if he wanted to attend there next year, there was no hesitation. The kid likes school. Thus, we are sending him to school.

He's always been a smaller group kid. Enjoys playing with 1 child, not 5. Likes smaller get togethers over huge parties. Is a bit of an order freak. The size of the school and the classroom appealed to him. 

I've learned so much about learning styles over the last few years, and have these Utopian dreams of a school that is able to embrace and nurture the unique learning styles of our children. Staying home was a great leap into that ideal. And a smaller environment will also have the ability to foster that a bit more than a larger classroom. 

So there you have it.

"Homeschooling, I love you. But I'm not IN love with you."

Time to move our separate ways



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.

Summer Plans?

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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5 more weeks.

School is over in 5 more weeks.

Well, not for my son, who is home-schooled. He may be done even sooner than that.

Panic is setting in.

I have NO game plan for the summer.

None.

Ok, not completely true. (That statement may have been laced in my flair for the dramatic.)

My son will be taking a writing workshop for a few hours each morning once school lets out. We have quick family weekend trip in June, and I also have to travel for work. July, however? Wide open. Completely wide open. August? Beach vacation for a few days, and then nothing.

It's all those days and hours in between that have me panicked.

There are a lot of them.

I'm certainly not one who believes my children need to be enrolled in formal activity after formal activity, or that I need to entertain them over their summer break. But I also know there needs to be some type of planning, lest summer be wasted watching Netflix and hanging on the iPod. Because, we could easily fall into that trap.

And then there's the dreaded, "Mooooom, we're boooooored!"

"My name is Joline, and I love to work." I really enjoy my job, and even though I work from home and schedule my own day, I MUST schedule day trips, bike rides, and new experiences on our summer calendar, or they will not happen. Just coming clean, here!

And summer is long.

Not as long as our crappy winter has been, but it IS just shy of three full months. (Ask me my opinion of year-long school with 3 week breaks that some school districts adopt. I'm a fan, if you haven't guessed.)

I'm being brutally honest about myself.

I fully admit it. Summer makes me nervous.

Is that wrong? That I'm worried because our routine is about to be decimated? (And by "our", I me "mine".) And by admitting this, does it mean I don't love my children? (Well that's just silly.)

What's on your summer list? And what suggestions do you have for me of new places to experience on day trips? You tell me where to go, and I'll get them on the calendar. AND, as accountability, I'll write about them! (I can see it now - a new series called, "A Workoholic's Summer Adventures"). We love to explore, so tell us where to go.

Fire off your list! Mine's wide open right now!


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.