Birthday Blessings

22 Nov

IMG_0107It’s lovely to celebrate one’s birthday during such a gorgeous and gratitude-filled season.  At Thanksgiving, even those who have experienced a troublesome year can’t help but bask in the bounty of blessings.

As you might expect, research consistently demonstrates that expressing gratitude can support a healthier mind, body and spirit. Well, I don’t know about you, but I want as much of that as I can get!

I spent my absolute favorite birthday on a 3-day cruise with 2 other families. We were celebrating my dear friend, Ann’s, 50th birthday.  As it happened, that November 22nd was a personal trifecta of Thanksgiving, my birthday, and the “Captain’s Dinner” on the ship!  The pinnacle of the celebration was when my husband and I joined the conga line and danced around the perimeter of the room to the pulsating rhythms of “Hot, Hot, Hot.”

Our humiliated children begged us to sit down.  No way!  Olé, Olé! This birthday girl was having the time of her life and reliving one of the memories of my first date with Frank.

It was a wedding reception.

I guess he was pretty confident about our future.  The reception was 3 hours away. Thus, our first time spent together was a marathon of driving, eating, dancing and driving again.  Although a few decades have passed, I still remember much of our conversation that Saturday in March of 1993.

I am so very grateful that Frank was bold enough to ask a near stranger on an all-day date.  The rest is history.

This brings me to counting my additional birthday blessings.  I am immensely grateful for:

  • my beloved mother who gave me my greatest gift: faith.  I know she looks down on me and my little family from heaven with love each day.
  • my loving husband, Frank, who after 20 years, I am STILL getting to know.  His depth and complexity and uncanny knack for unraveling my knots are just part of the many reasons he is the “best husband in the world for me.”
  • my dear sons who a growing into such amazing young men.  Both John and Michael have taught this parent more than I’d ever dreamed possible. I love them fiercely.
  • my family members who have stood beside me through thick and thin. You know who you are and I am the luckiest girl in the world to call you my siblings!
  • my lifelong friends who have each etched a permanent imprint on my heart.
  • my faith community comprised of the most amazing people a person could ever hope to know.  They are my family and the face of Christ.
  • the best “Girl’s Night Out” group this side of the Mississippi.  This cohort of my older son’s mothers is a lifeline to me as I navigate the parenting of my older son.
  • the community of bloggers who are my cyber-friends. Some have written personal emails to me that would make even the toughest person cry. I love your writing.  I love your thoughts. I love the way you make my world a bigger and better place.  I would love to meet each and every one of you in person some day.

I could wax on into infinity, but I will spare you the words.

Thank you ALL for blessing this blogger. I celebrate YOU today.

Catie Pane


Please See Me for Who I Am: Your Child, A Human Being

20 Nov

mom with boy in leavesI fear we may have lost the simple pleasure of enjoying the pure essence of our children’s identity. With the immense upsurge in participation in extra-curricular activities, has the very fabric of parent-child communications been altered?

Among children ages 6 to 17 years, 83 percent are involved in at least one after school activity (sports, music lessons, clubs, etc.).  Our kids may have many outside interests, but more importantly they are human beings.

Not students.

Not athletes.

Not musicians.

Years ago, my younger son spent two years explaining that he didn’t play a sport; he played a musical instrument.  Some of his classmates were absolutely incredulous.  How could a 13 year-old not be dedicated to a sport? How could a junior high student not have an athletic identity?

At the time, I was probably as self-conscious as he. It seemed that ALL of the kids were playing sports and how was it that I was raising a “musical misfit?”

There was another incident involving my older son, who was a golfer at the time.

A “friend” actually told him that golf was not a sport.

He cried when he came home from school that day.

I look back on those days and am baffled. Did they need to play a “real sport” in order to have an identity? My sons were good students, had interests, and most of all, they were people first.

Yes. People first.

I have begun to be very aware of the topics of conversation with my kids. I have changed. I no longer concentrate on their latest school or extracurricular happenings in our communications at the end of the day.

My focus has turned to sitting down with them and just allowing the conversation to unfold.  I want to know what THEY would like to speak about in our time together, at the dinner table, in the car, or just relaxing on the sofa.

Unsurprisingly, I have learned to enjoy them more. Their personalities shine through so brightly as John shares a great joke or Michael describes a new BMX bike part he is designing.

I am not their educator, coach, music instructor or club advisor.

I am their mother.

I hope it’s not too late to just be mom.  Mom doesn’t have to stimulate, motivate, or evaluate her children. (Well, maybe when they’re young…)mom with sons

This mom wants to love, cherish, and delight in the presence of her boys.

Wishing you a lovely Thursday with some time spent cherishing your children,

Catie Pane





Do Children and Marriage Mix?

15 Nov

couple in bed with childThis morning, as I sat sipping a latte with my caffeine cohort, I asked the question weighing heavily on my mind:

Do children and marriage mix?

The group of 4 answered without skipping a beat. The response was a big “NO,” spoken in unison.

One friend mentioned that newlywed life is bliss, and then once the kids come, “all hell breaks loose.”

Another coffee companion responded that “when the kids hit about 4th grade, parents turn into taxi drivers.  The family dinner goes to pot.  Parents stay up spending time helping kids with homework and projects (which should be a four-letter word).”

Has our culture become so child-centric that couples experience less alone-time to nurture their unions?

If so, how long has it been this way?

You may be interested to know that I squandered 3 hours in a futile attempt to locate credible data on this subject. Research on the internet can be quite laborious.  I have found 10 websites that claim couples spend 4 minutes alone together per day on average.


I find it very intriguing that I am unable to locate the original research study which produced this finding about “couple-time.”  You see, there is an unfortunate phenomenon in blogging and online news publications.  One author quotes another author who quotes another author and on and on it goes…

Many internet writers never bother to look for original sources.

I find this immensely irritating.

But, back to the subject at hand!

I have no idea as to the amount of time partners spend together sans offspring.

Regardless, most couples would agree that more is better.

Unfortunately, there are so many distractions in today’s culture that prevent this precious partner time:

  • Cell phones, laptops, television, and video games.
  • Extra-curricular activities and the accompanying taxi driving.
  • Commuting to work when a job nearby is unattainable.
  • School projects that scream for parental participation.

(I must briefly digress. My older son created his California Mission Project completely independently.  The day he brought it to school he cried as he viewed the other projects, complete with light switches to turn fire pits on and off and manicured gardens that defied the fine motor skills of a 12 year-old.)

Back to the subject at hand.

Can a happy marriage and healthy children coexist?

I believe it can.  But honestly, as couples we need to fight for alone time as if our lives depend on it. The distractions are formidable.  Thus, we must be like warriors fighting for the most important relationship of our families.

happilymarriedwithkidsAccording to Carol Lindquist, Ph.D., author of:

Happily Married with Kids:  It’s Not Just a Fairy Tale,

“The irony is that a strong relationship with your partner is one of the best things you can do for your kids,” Lindquist says. “You and your husband are modeling a good relationship, which sets your children up for better marriages themselves when they grow up.”

So, having been lost in the labyrinth of distractions, my husband and I have recommitted to our alone time.

Our marriage depends on it.

Happy Saturday!

Catie Pane


Often, I Forget…

14 Nov

couple on beach_Fotor




Please Consider Supporting The Wounded Warrior Project

11 Nov


This Veteran’s Day, as we honor persons who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, please consider supporting a very worthwhile organization.

The Wounded Warrior Project supports veterans through 4 major services:

1.  Mind:  Combat Recovery Program (which “addresses the mental health and cognitive needs of warriors”)

2.  Body:  Physical Health and Wellness Program

3.  Economic Empowerment:  Including programs such as the “Warriors to Work” program

4.  Engagement:   In part, through a peer-mentoring and alumni program

We know that families who engage in charitable works benefit by learning firsthand how giving time and money can make a difference.  Children discover how volunteering boosts one’s feelings of self-esteem and empathy for others.

The Wounded Warrior Project also assists warriors by providing support to their caregivers and families.

Hoping we can all mark this day by honoring the Veterans in some way,

Catie Pane

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”    

         ~Jose Narosky



Please Listen to My Music, Don’t Tell Me How to Play

6 Nov

mother boy violinDoesn’t it drive you crazy when someone offers unsolicited advice about your life?

Well, my response is Y-E-S!

Recently, I’ve experienced friends suggesting uninvited solutions to reduce the stress in my life.

“Acts of charity always make me feel better.”

“What is the least fulfilling involvement in your life?”

My auditory response to being told what to do is akin to the Aleatoric (or chance) Music I learned about in 6th grade. This form of music leaves some part of the composition open for interpretation.  Maybe I’m a purist, but personally, the sound of some of these pieces is akin to the acoustic sensation of nails on a chalkboard.

But, I am sure that I, too, have made this very error; I have told friends how to live their lives.

If you are reading this, and were the victim of this enormous mistake on my part, please forgive me and know that I will do my best to not repeat this highly inappropriate communication again.

Good friends are good listeners. Particularly when circumstances beyond the friend’s control are creating a season that simply must be lived through, in the best way the person is able to manage.

Years ago, my son’s violin teacher shared a very astute observation:

“Concert-goers either come to hear the music or to listen for the mistakes.

If they come to hear the mistakes, they are missing out on the whole point of the music.”

At that point in my life, this musical wisdom was like salve on a smarting wound. At the time, I was offended by being judged by relatives for the way I was raising my children and the mistakes of which I was guilty.

I was not and never will be a perfect parent.  I was using my teaching expertise to help me in a very unnatural role. I had been given two instruments and I had never been taught how to play them.

My parenting music was fraught with unexpected broken strings, notes out of key, and several bouts of stage fright when faced with serious decision-making.

The sting of being criticized for my lack of virtuoso parenting performances will forever remain.  I always forgive.  But, I’ll never forget.

This recent bout of unrequested suggestions has struck some familiar chords.

Sometimes, parents experience difficult seasons.  No one can EVER know exactly what another has endured and may continue to experience.

Often others don’t want sympathy.

Personally, in such circumstances, I just want someone to hear the dissonant notes of my present life song.

We all long to be heard.

We desire to be validated for the music we play, albeit imperfectly.

Validation doesn’t mean we agree with another’s decision-making. Rather, it means really hearing what another has to say.  It is demonstrating that we understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.

I long to be the kind of friend who comes to hear others’ words, mistakes and all.

After all, even the most famous musicians work to improve their craft.

None of us really ever “arrive” at perfection.

For me, this is just as God intended.

Happy Thursday,


Note:  If you are in the mood for some enchanting autumn music, please see the following link:  Music for Fall-Autumn.  At present, my personal favorite is: Barber’s Violin Concerto, op. 14, I:  Allegro.  Enjoy!

autumn music

Sage Advice for Halloween

31 Oct

Dear Readers,

I’m dressed as a Boston Red Sox fan today, but below you will see my favorite costume.  It is the simple message on the t-shirt of my friend, Shau-wei, one of the most amazing women any parent could ever hope to meet!




Wishing you a day filled will calm and candy!





Princesses Exploited Once Again

23 Oct

Yesterday, many of you may have viewed the vulgar video “F-Bombs for Feminism: Potty-Mouthed Princesses Use Bad Word for Good Cause.” The “ultimate truth” surfaced by the end of the day.  The video was produced by a commercial t-shirt company that surprise (!), exploits organizations for monetary gain.

Next week, I will post my review of a great new book for young women: 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know by Kari Kampakis.  This book offers an alternative to the disrespectful view of girls, as portrayed in the T-shirt company production.


“Contemporary feminism finds its roots in the absence of true respect for women.”

~Saint John Paul the Great

Happy Thursday!


Standing Out of the Way

22 Oct

Staying Out of the Way


As each day passes during this precious senior year of my older son’s life, I am continually reminded.

I am reminded that once the foundation is laid, we are to stand back and let our children prepare to walk completely on their own.

I am reminded that memories of infancy through the teenage years, become more cherished each day.

I am reminded that as parents, sometimes showing our children the way seems like it will never end.

But, now I am aware that this new stage of “standing out of the way” presents new challenges.

As parents, we never stop growing.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Coming Full Circle

14 Oct

universitypillarsstepsJohn carefully maneuvered the family pickup truck into the narrow parking space.  We left the car and set off to register my oldest son into a mathematics course at my alma mater. 

I have never used that expression.  “Alma mater.”  The words sound strange tripping off my tongue.  It means “nourishing mother” in Latin.  Was I intellectually “nourished” at my former college?

Yes and no.

I’d like to think that my academic experience enabled me to acquire knowledge and develop the skills necessary for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and satisfied sustenance.

The world will forever be my classroom.

But, I must admit that during those years, I occasionally felt starved for intellectual stimulation.  Some of my undergraduate courses were less than provocative.

Linguistics taught by a professor who spent more time exhaling than speaking into the lecture microphone.

Statistics taught by a mathematician who gave us a final that had absolutely no connection to the course material.  To this day I wonder, did he give us an exam meant for his graduate students?

Human Anatomy filled with oodles of index cards for memorizing bones, muscles and the many systems of the body.

Some 30 years ago, I walked the halls and breezeways of this university by the sea.  On this beautiful, autumn afternoon, my son and I were walking side by side, as I had once done with schoolmates.


I wanted to cry, knowing that once upon a time, my wildest dreams couldn’t have conjured up this incredibly complex and caring son.

Odd feelings swelled up within me:  joy, melancholy, incredulity,  How was it that we were climbing the same steps that I’d once negotiated in such a very different time of my life?

I’d come full circle.

Typing these words, my heart swells with love and hope and excited anticipation for my firstborn son. Especially, hope that he will be intellectually nourished by this university experience.

As John and I walked back to the truck on that awesome October afternoon, I felt gratitude more than anything else. There are so few times in life that we are afforded the opportunity to come full circle.

I was blessed to share the experience of both seeing my past and my son’s future at once.

The bonds that encircle us are bound even stronger.

And I look forward to coming around with him again and again.

Happy Tuesday,




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