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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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:

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Snow Days. I'm Not a Fan.

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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WARNING.

I'm in a mood.

A snarky mood.

I do not, although it may sound like I do, HATE winter. Or snow. Or cold. Winter is winter. I learned the art of getting through winter from a 20 year stint in Chicago. Winter doesn't beat me. Yes, I'm cold. Yes, it's gray (nothing a light box can't help). Yes, there is snow. I get it. I'm cool with it.

But, then, there are the 2-hour delays for wind chill. And snow days.

I. Do. Not. Like. Them. Sam. I. Am!

I grew up in Northern Va., where my mom bundled us up to walk to school in 3 inches of snow, only to find the school closed. (We moved there from Albany, NY). I lived in Chicago for 20 years, and only once in 6 years of Harper being in school (pre-school to 2nd grade) do I remember ever having a snow day. I can't even recall if it was actually a full snow day. Come to think of it, it may have been a delay. Point being, it was so uncommon, that I can't remember.

But I'm not here to debate whether or not we should have snow days . . . so let me off the hook on that one. Walk in my shoes for a moment - I simply don't get them. (Really, save yourself the trouble of explaining it to me. I'm going in a different direction here.)

I don't need a snow day to create a memory with my children.

Yes, I love them.

And, it doesn't feel like they are growing up "too fast", and thus, I must treasure every single moment they are home.

Yes, I love them.

We are a TIGHT family. We are together a LOT. We are not over-scheduled and missing each other. We share each others burdens (Zane has been at no less than 3, 504 meetings for his sister), and we celebrate each others successes (Harper was super impressed with Zane at their karate test this week - and didn't hesitate to tell him). We cuddle and watch endless Dr. Who and Sherlock. We laugh with each other. We fight with each other.  We love each other. We annoy each other. We fold laundry together. And make messes together. Currently there are individual hearts on each of their bedroom doors with unique things I love about each one of them. I'm adding one a day for February.

We also have amazing experiences at the theater, vacations, skiing . . . heck, today, a snow day, we simply parked ourselves at the local coffee shop where they handed us a pot of tea, some milk, and sugar, and then we proceeded to watch Sunday night's episode of Downton Abbey.

But I have abandoned the pressurized stress (and guilt) that I must create a memory with every moment.

And especially moments with no school. Due to snow.

I work from home. My son is home-schooled. But when his sister is home from school, it's kind of hard to make the other one do his Language Arts. Plus, my children simply do MUCH better on a schedule. And one-day-on, the next-day-off (or delayed), and then back to normal, completely messes with them. Our mojo is off. The day after a delay or snow day is a difficult one.

"Back to the routine, kids!"

Maybe some don't understand this and are completely content taking long walks in the snow, sledding, and baking while sipping hot cocoa. That, sounds like a commercial to me. Or something the Bravermans would do. Only, they live in California. And they are fictional.

Me?

I'm all, "Enjoy the endless television, kiddos, and find something to eat. I know you say we never have "anything", but I think that fruit has your name on it. Find. Something. To. Do."

I am NOT their snow day cruise director.

Moms, if snow days/delays frustrate you, it's OK. If you adore them? And can't wait to do all sorts of neat winter things with your kiddos? That's cool, also.

But if you need to find me?

I'll be hiding in my room, reading a book.

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I'm a Parent of a Teenager

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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13.

She's 13.

I am now the parent of a 13 year old.


And as I sit here listening to the laughter and squeals and amplified voices coming from the basement during my daughter's slumber party, I am thankful.


My lovely daughter, asked for legos.


And another Egyptian excavation kit.


As well as an iTunes card. (A girl has to have her music.)


But so far, for the most part, we still have a kid. Her wardrobe isn't that important. Boys? Forget about it. We ain't got no time for that drama. And don't mention makeup. She'll look at you as if you have two heads.


She's a techie lovin', lego buildin', ski hat wearin', guitar playin', karate choppin' 13 year old. And right now, she's in the basement with the music blarin', while she and a small group of friends play "Model Mishaps" - a birthday party tradition.


I remember myself at 13. 7th grade. Already boy crazy. Mindful of what I wore. Wanting to be so much older than I was. She is so very different than I was at that age.


And I am grateful.


Take your time, Harper. There is no rush.
I love you just the way you are. I LIKE you just the way you are.


And I hope you do, too.


 

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.

Scrapbooking Failure

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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"Mom, where are the rest of my books?"

My poor son.

My poor forgotten son.

Sigh.

Last night, my daughter had the sudden urgency to look through the scrapbooks I had made for her. Birth-2nd grade. (Note: she's now in 7th. Her books, however, stop in June of 2009.)

My son, while enjoying his sister's books, kept looking for photos of himself as we strolled down her Memory Lane. He didn't show up until she was four. So, truly, there wasn't much of him to see.

I do have a book of his first year. So, I enthusiastically whipped it out.

"Yes, I've seen this one. Where are the rest?"

Sheepishly. "Um, I have some pages done for your second year, also . . ."

He turns 9 tomorrow.

Here's the truth. When I was consistently scrapbooking with a group of ladies on a Friday night once a month - with dinner beforehand, long tables set up, tools, gadgets, and supplies on hand to borrow or purchase, the conversation flowing . . . I was ON TOP OF IT.

I then moved, and never found that community. Yes, I could make online photo books of their lives, but I truly enjoyed the process of creating with my hands: designing formats, choosing papers, and stickers, and writing personal sentiments for them. I liked that my children would have books made by ME. They would not be perfect. Or always polished. I just haven't found a space in my house, nor the time, honestly, to continue scrapbooking faithfully. I totally enjoyed that the scrapbooking events I attended were hosted by someone else who set up and cleaned up after just around 6 hours of hard, yet fun, work.

Last night, however, I felt awful. I still feel awful.

I apologized up and down to my boy.

And, as he usually does, cause he's such a love, he gave me a hug and grace.

"Mommy, it's really ok! Really!" (Quickly followed up by asking if I had more pictures of him - which I DO! Many . . . unorganized. The iPhone has been a thorn in my organizing side.)

I am actually considering hiring someone on Elance, to tap into my system, and organize all my photos.

No joke. While I won't hire someone to make my scrapbooks, I will delegate someone to do that remote system capture thing, and play around in my files to organize them all.

THAT I would pay for.

Are you a scrapbooker? Or a drop-out like me? And fess up. Are your digital photos completely organized in files by year, month, and event? (If they are, good on you. I'm envious!)


 

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.

Christmas Aftermath

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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It worked!

It worked!

Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear. Something to read.

I'll be honest. I was a bit worried. We REALLY limited the amount of "stuff" that our kids accumulated for Christmas this year. I gave their gifts a lot of thought and it "paid off". I didn't spend a ton - and THEY, loved what they received. Other than a bike, which was a "want" and paid for my two sets of grandparents and us, the gifts were low key this year.

As my kids went to bed on Christmas Eve, I reminded them each WHY they receive gifts.

"Why do we give you gifts?"

"Because you love me."

"Do I give you gifts because you are good?"

"No."

"Do I withhold gifts if you do something bad. Or disappoint us?"

"No."

"Do I give you gifts because you earned them? Or deserve them?"

"No."

"So, tell me again. Why do Daddy and I give you special things?"

"Love."

"Because God first loved us. And there is absolutely no way we could earn His gift of love. I can't WAIT for your to enjoy your gifts tomorrow. I'm so excited!!!!!"

That's the message I want to seep into hearts.

We give our children gifts because we love them. Not because they have done something to earn them. This is a big deal with us. Perhaps it's an issue of semantics, but in our household, the kids can earn privileges. They can work towards goals. But, gifts? In the truest sense of the word are never earned. They are simply given because we love the recipient. Period.

I loved their faces this morning. Their surprise. Their attitudes. They are seriously growing up. Which is hard. And fantastic. All at once.

I asked them both what their favorite gift were this year.

My son answered quickly. "The Rainbow Loom and the bike!"

My daughter?

"Probably the iTunes gift card. I was totally surprised this year."

Mission accomplished.

Now, guess whose kids have birthdays in January.

Time to start all over . . .



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.