As the month of March is National Reading Month, there is nobody better to introduce, than Andrea, who is a reading specialist that shares her birthday with Dr. Seuss himself! Andrea lives in Bloomfield Hills with her husband Johnny, and their three boys- James, Charlie, and Nicholas. This summer, she is running a Summer Literacy Club, for kids entering K-3 in the fall. It will meet once a week for 4 weeks, to keep kids engaged and interested in reading and writing over the summer! Follow her on Instagram @mamapapa_school to sign your kids up, or for great ideas on what you can teach your kids at home! And read on for so, so much more!!
How many children do you have and what are their names and ages?
I have three very busy boys. James just turned 8, Charlie will be 6 at the end of March and Nicholas is 3 1/2.
Where do your children go to school?
My two “big boys” are in K and 2nd grade at Harlan in Birmingham, and my youngest is in preschool at Hand In Hand.
What made you decide to raise your family here?
I was born and raised in Birmingham. I graduated from Seaholm and went to Michigan State! My husband and I met when we were 17/18yrs old (he came to my prom with me) and he is from Troy! We decided we wanted to raise our children close to both of our parents so we stayed close to home.
What’s your favorite thing to do as a family around Birmingham/Bloomfield Hills?
There are so many different and fun things to do around here! We love visiting the farmers market in the summer. We go for family walks, swim, bike rides and visit lots of the neighborhood parks. Our boys are ACTIVE so we constantly are moving from one activity to the next! We love an afternoon at the movie theater, eating at Greek Islands, and ice cream trips to Dairy Mat! We also love taking the boys to Tigers and Red Wings games. When the weather is good we play golf at Lincoln Hills and Springsdale!
I have coached softball as one of the Varsity coaches for over 7 years now, so the boys also love coming to watch my girls play!
Tell us about your Summer Literacy Club! How did you come up with it? Give us all the details!
I graduated from MSU with a bachelors degree in Elementary Ed, K-5. I continued on and got my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist from Oakland University. Before my boys were born, I taught Kindergarten in Pinckney for four years and then got a job in Birmingham (Pierce Elementary) teaching first grade! Once Charlie (my middle guy) was born, I decided to take some time to raise my family!
A few summers ago, I was sitting outside with my boys and taught them a reading lesson, like I would do in my classroom. My mom was there and said, “you need to offer this to your friends. A lot of them would love to be able to do this with/for their kiddos but don’t necessarily have the right tools to do so”…and so, my summer reading/writing club was born. At first, I teamed up with my awesome neighbor, Jeanette, but then she moved to Tokyo! I reached out to my friend and fellow teaching friend, Crissy and she jumped on board! This summer will be year 3 and we are adding an additional elementary/reading specialist, Lori, into our mix to expand our number of children and allow a larger age range (kiddos entering K-3 in the fall).
The Summer Literacy Club will be held this summer, one day a week for four weeks. It is a perfect way for your kids to use (not lose!) their reading and writing skills over the summer. I posted the details of our “Summer Literacy Club” to my @mamapapa_school IG page! Feel free to head over there and sign your kids up!
What are your kids favorite classes/activities around town?
The boys are REALLY enjoying Elena Victoria’s sewing classes! We take swim class in the Winter at Goldfish and music lessons in the Fall at Axis. We like to visit the local libraries often. The boys also enjoy Lego class at the Robot Garage, Baseball through Birmingham Little League and art classes at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.
Any words to explain life as a #boymom? What have you learned along the way with raising boys?
I have learned that I have no idea what I’m doing, the majority of the time. Raising children is insanely hard and most of the time I feel like I’m just trying to keep my head above water. Boys are busy, loud, rude (at times) and sometimes very challenging, BUT my goal as their mom is to raise MY boys to be kind humans. I want them to respect others, care for others, and listen. The world does not revolve around them and how great they are. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my boys and they’re pretty great, but they have a lot to learn and I will be there supporting them and guiding them until they succeed!
#Momhack: What have you done at home that has been successful with parenting the boys?
I’ve learned so many things from so many other moms that I look up to! I love to share things as often as I can. I created an Instagram account based solely on lessons (academic and life) that I teach my boys… @mamapapa_school. *The Lunchbox Challenge, The Mom Store, and The Bank, are a few posts I’ve made on my Instagram page!
Here are just a few other mom hacks that I’ve done with my boys:
5 star dinner rules:
I created 5 rules I want my boys to follow while eating dinner. If they earn their 5 stars, they get dessert!
- Use your manners (please and thank you)
- Try what’s on your plate/ “don’t yuck someone’s yum”
- Stay in your seat during dinner
- Ask to be excused from the table
- Clear your plate
On Sunday nights, we meet as a family. We do a family handshake to start and then go around to each person sharing something great that happened in the last few days. Here is when we discuss the upcoming week, things that we need to work better at as a family and any important pressing matter. Also, we vote on the award winner for that week (see below). At the end, we all put our hands in and say “Goooo Team Papadopoulos.”
Each Sunday night I present a “new” award. This is something I feel that we are lacking or someone in the houses needs to improve on. For example: “Best Listener,” “Kindness Award,” “Biggest Helper.” (And so on) I write it on a piece of paper quick and post it above the fireplace so we all see it during the week.
During our Sunday meetings, we will vote on who we think should win the award for the week. Mom and dad can win too! The winner gets to tape it to their door! The boys love it.
*disclaimer, we got lazy and haven’t done this for a few months but I want to start again because the boys respond so well to it!
What do you do to balance your own life and mommyhood? What do you do for “me” time?
I love working out. It makes me get lost for an hour and not think about what is next on the never ending to do list! I tend to put way too much on my plate and have a difficult time saying no (my hubby reminds me of this often) but it’s just how my brain works! The Dailey Method has been my go to for about 4 years and I’ve met some incredible friends there!
Aside from working out, I go on weekly Thursday night dates with my main man. It’s so important for us and our relationship! We have a standing babysitter every Thursday (my lovely mother in law) so we both look forward to our time together on Thursdays!
Lastly, I love to have girls nights/lunches whenever I can. I have such an amazing “mom tribe” and love being able to actually finish a thought without being interrupted by our kids!! Wine helps too!
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
First of all, I share a birthday with Dr. Seuss (March 2). That’s basically my claim to fame!
But to be real, I used to be an awful reader. All during school, I was terrified to read aloud and hated everything about it. I had a tutor for years, was always far behind and it wasn’t until I decided to BECOME a teacher that I started to love and appreciate it the way I do now. My main goal is to help those kiddos that are like “me.” I want them to find joy and love reading before it holds them back. It was starting to define me and I didn’t want that, so I decided to face it head on and now I love reading to/with my boys and thoroughly enjoy teaching others to read as well!
Do you have a hobby?
I’m a photographer! It kind of happened by accident. I have always love photography and once my oldest son was born, I started to get kind of serious with it. People showed interest and I was shocked! I started to branch out to friends and family and now am floored and humbled at how much I’ve grown and how many followers I have! I love capturing families in the NOW… real/raw moments- sometimes that means screaming children, and that’s ok, because that is real. Feel free to follow me at @a.poppy_photography.
Tell us about the Kind Heart Kids Project-
About a year ago I decided that raising KIND children was one of the most important things to me. I reached out to a friend, Meghan, who has similar morals/values and asked if she’d be interested in starting up a “little” group where we do something kind with our children in the community to spread more love and kindness to others. Our goal was to teach our kids that it’s EASY and FUN to be kind to others and thus, The Kind Heart Kids Project was born! We started with about 20 mamas and are now at over 90! What do we do? Each month, Meghan or I send out an email and explain that month’s “kindness stop.” If people are able to come, they do! Sometimes it’s super simple and sometimes it’s a bit more complex but no matter what, it’s extremely fulfilling! Feel free to follow along and get ideas of things to do with your littles @the_kind_heart_kids_project on IG.
Is there anyone special you would like to thank for helping you through motherhood?
I’d definitely like to thank my own mama! She is there to help the SECOND I cry out and although she raised two girls, and I’m raising three boys (different ball game), she will do whatever it takes to be there for my family! My mother-in-law is there whenever she can be as well and I’m so fortunate to have her!! She’s a gem!
I’d also like to thank my amazingly supportive husband. We have been together for 19 years (woah, that’s crazy to say out loud) and through so many ups and downs, I know he has my back and trusts me as a mom to our boys. We are a team in raising these three crazy cats and there’s nobody I’d rather do it with!
Lastly, my mom tribe. There are some very special mamas that I can call and cry to and ask for advice, knowing they’re not judging me or my children! It’s not easy being a mom but having judgment free friends is everything. They listen and give advice when I need it and I’m not scared to speak my truth to them! BE THAT JUDGEMENT-FREE FRIEND for someone!
Tell us about your In-Laws delicious food delivery service- Papa’s Kitchen to go!
About a year ago, my in-laws created a freshly prepped and pre-cooked food delivery service! They owned restaurants for years, with the most recent one being Ocean Breeze, in Shelby. My father in law was itching to cook again and everyone was begging for his food and so they created “Papa’s Kitchen to go.” Www.papaskitchentogo.com or @papaskitchentogo in Instagram. The menu changes weekly! Just to add more to my plate, I am also a food “delivery” girl! Go online and order by Thursday, and the following Monday, between 12-4 and I will be knockin’ at your door with some DELICIOUS home cooking! It’s a great way to start your Monday… NO COOKING!
Thank you, Andrea! I am in awe over how you accomplish so much, all while being an amazing mom to your three boys! Thank you for sharing your superpowers with us! Follow Andrea on Instagram to continue to learn from her!