Effervescent Comfort

2 Sep

I admit it.  I am addicted.  At least 5 times a week I drink…

John Diet Coke

a Diet Coke.

Honestly, it is my only addiction, but I know it isn’t good for me.  I am postmenopausal and the research around both sugary and diet soda consumption is not positive:

So, with all of that research against diet soda, why does this mom have such a hard time quitting?  Last spring, I was almost completely rehabilitated.  I was only “falling off the wagon” 1-2 times per week.  Water and iced tea became my beverages of choice.

But then this mother became a sucker for a schmaltzy ad campaign:

Summer 2014 was THE “Summer of Sharing:  Share a Coke.”

You see, we were going through one of those “seasons” families encounter and I (sadly) found solace in choosing a bottle of Diet Coke with the name of one of my sons, “Dad,” “family,” “friends,” “BFF,” or “Mom,” to name a few.

Note the picture above. Today as I ran to the grocery store for some additions to our Labor Day barbecue, I noticed a bottle with the name of my older son, “John.”

Yep, I proceeded to place it in the cart.

You see, this is John’s senior year and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about where he’ll land a year from now.  I am not worried.  I am not even involved in his applications.  I believe God already knows where he’ll attend and it will be just fine.

So, how does a diet soda (unshared, by the way) comfort me during this season of looking ahead to a whole new life for my son? I think only an advertising executive could answer that question!

What is the biggest problem with my addiction?  Poor modeling for my kids. Studies have proven that kids tend to be more influenced by a parent’s behavior than their words.

Thus, I can tell my kids until I’m blue in the face that soda is unhealthy, but if they watch me drinking it, I am sending a more powerful message that it’s really ok.  Or, worse yet, it’s ok to engage in behavior even when a person knows it isn’t good for them.

Well, “The Summer of Sharing” has officially ended.  I poured the rest of the soda in the above photo down the sink and now I’m craving a nice, tall glass of ice water.


Catie (Cate Pane)

Labor Day Lore

1 Sep



  • Dessert on Labor Day tastes better and is calorie free if decorated in red, white and blue. :-)
  • Labor Day, the first Monday in September celebrates workers’ contributions to the prosperity and well-being of our country.
  • I LOVE CANADIANS, so it is of no surprise for me that the idea was initially inaugurated by Canada in 1872.  It was borne out of protests of auto laborers and the eradication of anti-union laws.
  • The holiday we affectionately know as Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, surprisingly with a parade.
  • Great labor day quotes:

I love Labor Day.  What other holiday do you get to celebrate work without actually doing any?  ~maxine.com

There is no substitute for hard work.  ~Thomas Jefferson

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.  ~Joseph Joubert

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.  ~Arnold J. Toynbee

Sigh….There goes another summer, Snoopy.  ~Charles M. Schultz (Charlie Brown)

Wishing you and your family a labor-free holiday!

Catie (Cate Pane)




Our Summer 2014 Journey

30 Aug

Our Summer Story 2014

30 Aug


Memories of Summer 2014



Much needed meditation time for Mom



Rest and rejuvenation with friends



Wedding anniversary trip to Rome



Special beach time with my younger son



 Wise words from St. Theresa of Avila for troubled times

(taped to my steering wheel)



Painting pleasure with mentor parents and dear friends



Boston Red Sox joy with my older son



Until we meet again

The Pane Family


All Children Are Gifted

29 Aug

gifted child

Pen Me a Poem: The Importance of Poetry in Education

28 Aug

poetry rose

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books, 
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words, 
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, 
such and so many blinding bright lights,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Notes on the Art of Poetry ~ Dylan Thomas

I sat at my stark, angular, veneer-wooden desk and stared at the blank paper in front of me.  Working as a research assistant, I often spent my lunch hours contemplating my life. My mind and heart filled with a maelstrom of emotions.

During those complicated, concerning and confusing days of my early twenties, I frequently found myself pouring thoughts and emotions on paper in the form of poetry.  Some were pages and pages long.  Others were quite short.

Each poem healed a part of me that was broken.

The writings weren’t about dating relationships.  I found myself trying to make sense of my identity in light of my childhood.  At times the process was painful.  Other times it was pure joy.  Many times my poetic experiences were a combination of joy and sorrow, loss and longing.

My poetry always allowed me a channel of catharsis.

I don’t remember experiencing much poetry education during my early school years.

When I went off to college, I fell in love with the writings of William Wordsworth, e.e. cummings, Robert Browning and others. Reading and memorizing my favorite passages of poetry fed my soul.  At times, I would sit on the grass at my university and let the words flow through my mind.  The experience was blissful.

Today’s students will spend less time reading, memorizing and penning poetry.  The newly implemented Common Core English Standards deemphasize poetry by devoting significantly less time on classic literature.

This causes me great distress.  Poetry has been found to:

  • “increase students’ literacy and linguistic awareness,” according to the research of Dr. Janette Hughes.   Dr. Hughes also discovered that studying poetry can increased student cognizance of the rhythm and meaning of language, as well as afford students an opportunity to grow their oral and written word usage.
  • California researchers found that including poetry in language arts curriculum can foster analytical and critical skills.

My son’s spent a few years in an arts conservatory poetry course.  I was both surprised and delighted to receive a window into the souls of my offspring. The titles were varied and fascinating:  I Live in Violin, Lullaby to a Video Game, and The Poem with No Name, among others.

That poetry will forever remain in my treasure trove of special works of my sons.

Will today’s students experience the joy of reading, analyzing and falling in love with the poetry of the greats?

poetry student

Will they be inspired to write their own poems?

Or is the language of poetry a dying form of verse and rhyme?

Let’s hope that our educational system rethinks the value of poetry!

Comments are most welcome.

Wishing you and your children a day filled with words of “delight and glory and oddity and light,”

Catie (Cate Pane)

Poetry for Children and Parents

26 Aug

heart roses


Fill your page

with the breathings

of your


~William Wordsworth

Leave the Labeling to the Professionals

25 Aug

calligraphy brushI stood in the noisy, teachers’ workroom, copying documents for the board policy manual for my sons’ school.  Having served on the school board for nearly 3 years, I had experienced my fill of marathon sessions with the Xerox machine and was eager to complete the job and go home.

An angry, school mom entered the room and began giving me unsolicited advice about my older son.  She believed that he was self-centered, a poor influence on his class and a STRONG-WILLED CHILD.

Apparently, during this mother’s art class, my son had refused to do yet another calligraphy assignment.  Week after week, the kids were given opportunities to copy brush and ink assignments carefully modeled and described by this highly artistic volunteer.

The thing was, my son harbored great disdain for calligraphy. He had more than his fair share of experiences with this centuries-old form of artistic pen and ink handwriting.

John, my older son, had returned home from school the previous day complaining about the monotonous content of his art classes.  He proudly announced that he had refused to complete that day’s assignment. Consequently, nearly the entire class had joined him in his creative boycott.

My response was predictable.  I explained to him that the teacher was volunteering her time and sharing her greatest artistic expertise.  Despite his displeasure, refusing to engage in the task was disrespectful.  Of even greater concern, was his negative leadership of the class.

He understood.

He still hated calligraphy.

He said he’d apologize and would participate in the following week’s art class.

As the art volunteer and I stood next to the whirring, copy machine, I told her that I’d already spoken to my son and she should expect a better student in her next teaching session.  I apologized for his behavior.,

In my opinion, the case was closed.

Not in this mom’s eyes.  She, herself, had a strong-willed child and apparently identified the salient markers in my son. I felt anger bubbling up inside me.  As a special education professional, I knew she lacked qualifications to label my son, especially because she only knew him in one context and “a strong-willed child” is not an actual diagnosis.  It is a description of temperament.  I had previously taught many, many children with dogged determination to have their own way.  They did not carry this diagnosis.

The art teacher didn’t know much about my son and guess what?  I knew him far better than she.  At home, he was basically as compliant as any other 4th grader.  He was bored easily, but was not overbearing.

I did my best to relay my thoughts in a calm manner. She wasn’t buying it.  We left the conversation with her feeling insulted that I didn’t accept her opinion.

She didn’t speak to me for 2 years.

I never regretted the conversation.  As parents, we need to proceed with great caution when we talk to other parents about their children. We may have some sense as to what is going on with a friend’s kid.  However, our own “opinions” are not backed by professional training and experience.

More importantly, our responses are often influenced by our own experiences raising children.  We spend oodles of hours peering through the looking-glass of temperaments we live with daily in our homes.  Consequently, our windows into the personalities of other children are often quite cloudy.

By the way, it was common knowledge that this mother had an extremely difficult child.  I wish I could have listened to her frustrations that day, rather than having her lash out at me.  But, I must admit that I’ve undoubtedly pushed my own “pseudo-diagnoses” of others’ children at times.

The lesson here is that moms need an ear more than a lay-person’s opinion.

Being heard and validated is the greatest gift a mom can receive when experiencing difficult days with kids.

And, let’s always remember to leave the diagnosing to respected professionals.

Comments are welcome.

Hope you have a fabulous week!

Catie (Cate Pane)



Families Promote World Peace

23 Aug
mother theresa peace

From: Behappy.me

The Myth of the Perfect Family

22 Aug

perfect familyWe sat in the sunny, cheerful, morning room of my childhood home.  Sipping coffee at the familiar wooden table, my mother and I discussed a matter that had always troubled me.  In my eyes, one of her dear, lifelong friends had a seemingly perfect home life.

Mom was flabbergasted by my comments.

“Did I ever tell you about what Theresa did years ago while she chatted on her corded phone at her kitchen desk?”

corded telephone

Exhibit A

In those days, one couldn’t roam around while having a conversation on a landline.  (Thus, moms and others were literally chained in place by a stretchy cord attached to the phone. Please see Exhibit “A” above.)

Sadly, I was immensely eager to hear about the imperfections of this faultless friend of the family.

Mom continued, “Well, Theresa was so annoyed by her pestering son that she threw the phone at him.  He ducked and the receiver hit and shattered a window adjacent to the front door.”


I guess Mom’s friend shared the goings-on of her family life, but Theresa’s kids always (in my opinion) portrayed an impeccable image.

My respect for Theresa grew by leaps and bounds during that coffee conversation.  Not because she had become so angry at her son.  Not because she wasn’t perfect after all.

I respected her for being honest about her family life.

These days, it seems to be the opposite.  People may be more comfortable presenting all of the plusses of family life, while subtracting the missteps.

No family is perfect.

No family will ever be perfect.

All families are human.

Studies have shown that people feel compelled to present themselves in the best possible manner when posting on Facebook.  These researchers also found that about 1/3 felt self-dissatisfaction following time spent on this social media platform, especially after looking at vacation posts.

Well, this imperfect mom will confess that in the past 10 minutes, I reminded my 14 YEAR-OLD to comb his hair twice.  His comment, “Mom, why don’t you listen to me?  I told you I’d do it after I finish my computer project.  I’m almost done.”

It’s ok.  I am Cate and I am a flawed mother.  I’ll do better next time!

Wishing all of you a weekend blemished with the beauty that makes family life so very rich!

I’d love any comments!

Catie (Cate Pane)



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