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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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!

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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.

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.

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!

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.

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.