Ten Compliments Kids Need to Hear

24 Jul


Yesterdays post, Writing What I Know:  Praising My Childhood Roots, discussed appropriate praising of our children.  I listed research-based guidelines on healthy, appropriate accolades for children.

Today, I invite my readers to provide input for a “Clear Parent” list of suitable compliments.

I welcome ANY suggestions!

Thank God for Thursday!

Cate Pane

Writing What I Know: Back to Praising My Childhood Roots

23 Jul

Blog Writer

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my writer’s block:  Writing is More Than Getting the Words Right.  My mind and heart were filled with knots that entangled my ability to express myself.

Today, I listened to a TED Talk by Sting.  Its title was very attractive to me:

How I Started Writing Songs Again

This 16 time Grammy Award winner, who has written hundreds of songs and sold more than 100 million albums, found himself stuck in years of writer’s block.  But, when he retraced his childhood roots in the shipyards of northeast England, his songwriting inspiration returned.  In fact, he remarked,

“As soon as I decided to honor the community I came from to tell their story, the songs started to come thick and fast.”

So, Sting sought stories of the shipyard workers from his youth and his missing imagination was restored.

In my own desperate attempt to recover my missing motivation, my mind wandered back in time to my childhood roots.

When I was 4, the joy of kindergarten filled my days with bliss.  I loved the model of old-fashioned kindergarten, back in the days when kids didn’t attend preschool.  Finger painting, playing house, singing songs and napping after a snack of graham crackers and milk was sheer joy. Academics weren’t pushed on young kids in those days.  It was assumed that reading, writing and arithmetic would all be learned in due time.

And they were.

During my kindergarten year, our neighbor, complimented me on one of my painting productions.  To this very day, I can recall the words of Mrs. Price, “Cate, you have an excellent sense of color.”

In those days, praise was meted out very sincerely and carefully.


Mrs. Price was an artist.  She created oil paintings of flowers in vases, among other subjects.  She used intense colors, yellow, orange, red.

When my mom passed away, I chose the painting Mrs. Price gave to my mother in the 60’s.  It was a vase filled with vibrant blossoms in orange, yellow and red.

To this day, the colorful canvas hangs in my living room.  It was my inspiration for decorating the space. It represents the artist who recognized the artist in me.

I’m not a painter.

But, colors are my passion.

Just gazing at beautiful colors inspires me.

So, this leads me to the power of words and compliments.  As a child during the 60’s, praise was bestowed infrequently.

Today, our kids are growing up in a world of praise pollution.  It seems we praise them at every turn for every imaginable accomplishment. Guess what?  It isn’t helping their self-esteem.

It’s as if every one of their actions are graded.

Henderlong and Lepper analyzed 30 years of praise research and found these important guidelines:

  • Sincere and specific praise is best.
  • Kids should only be praised for characteristics they are able to change.
  • Use descriptive praise that conveys realistic, attainable standards.
  • Praising kids about accomplishments that come easily needn’t be a focus.
  • It is not very important to praise kids for engaging in activities they love.
  • Best to encourage kids to pursue their personal best, rather than comparing themselves to peers.


Returning to my childhood roots reconnected me with a hidden part of myself, the colorful place in my heart that never grows tired of the cornucopia of colorful creation surrounding me.

Mrs. Price’s comment permanently and positively impacted me.

Today, I recognize the praise given to me as a kindergartener by my childhood artist neighbor.

Thank you, Mrs. Price.  You have reminded me of the power of praise when awarded appropriately.  You also enabled me to find my missing muse.

I am looking forward to praising less and listening more.  I believe that our parental instincts know when we need to acknowledge our children. Let’s go back to our roots and remember the permanent impact of accolades acquired during our childhood days.

Let’s clear the air of excessive praise so that our children can clearly see the acknowledgement of attributes that will stay with them when they are old enough to go back to their own childhood roots.

The memories may inspire them to greatness, having a clear sense of self.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Cate Pane


Model Kindness for Your Children

21 Jul


When we speak of kindness to our children, our actions have the greatest impact.  In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that my kids are my greatest critics on this subject.  A week ago, my younger son “nailed” the evening of his birthday celebration at a restaurant.  I commented that I thought it was so very sad that a mother was spending her dinner time reviewing flashcards with her 2 preschoolers.

As we made our way to the parking lot after a wonderful birthday celebration, Michael mentioned that he didn’t think it was right for me to criticize the woman with the flashcards.

He was right.  It was none of my business.  We are all entitled to raise our kids the way we choose.

Lesson learned.


Happy Monday,

Cate Pane


Kindness Always

19 Jul





A Heroine for Our Times

18 Jul

Kenon Neal

This week, a champion of courage left this world to enter an eternal life of Perfect Peace.

We met in a Moms in Touch prayer group five years ago. The radiant smile I encountered on that September morning is forever emblazoned in my mind’s eye. At the time, I was unaware of her decades long battles with cancer.  She always put love before her own struggles.

This noble, faithful woman, along with the other members of the moms group helped me to heal from a very painful period in my family’s history.

And in the past few months, her inspirational journal entries on Caring Bridge injected doses of determination during another extremely challenging chapter in our lives.  As I read her words, my heart would swell with both sadness for struggles and immense admiration for her bravery in the face of multitudinous medical procedures and a terminal diagnosis.

In the world of cancer, “Stage 4” is typically known as the phase of “distant spread” of cancer cells throughout the body.

For this heroine, it was the period of her life when her tremendous valor spread far and wide and transformed greater and greater numbers of people.

Although we were never close friends, she gave me the gift of a role model of faith and fortitude and helped to give me the strength to persevere.

She didn’t know it at the time.

I am sure she knows it now, as in the words of Matt Redman, she “sings His praises, ten-thousand years and forever more.”

This “heroine for our times” will live forever in our hearts and minds as an otherworldly example of what cancer and other formidable challenges cannot do.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

~Author Unknown

May she rest in His Peace,

Cate Pane

Note:  This amazing woman leaves behind a beloved family:  her husband, two sons and a daughter.  Please keep them in prayer.

“The Memory of Joy in Present Grief” and Our Gretchen

15 Jul

GretchenNumerous posts of mine have addressed the psychological, emotional and health benefits children (and adults) receive when pets are a member of the family.

Reading this post today, The Memory of Joy in Present Grief, reminded me of our family dog who was put to sleep when I was in college. When Gretchen passed, she carried with her a multitude of memories from my childhood.

Our hearts grow bigger when we receive the unconditional love of an animal.  During my early years, our beautiful dog was truly my best friend. Gretchen made the painful parts of my childhood bearable.  Conversely, she made my joyful moments more jubilant.

I can remember her licking the tears from my cheeks when I cried.

I can remember her running in “figure 8’s” on the front lawn when I clapped my hands in excitement.

I can remember running with her and feeling complete and utter abandonment.

I strongly encourage you to read the post written by MacKenzie Kincaid linked here and above. If you are a “dog person,” you’d better get the tissues ready first…

Please share any memories of your beloved “best friends” you may have.

Cate Pane

Time Will Tell

14 Jul


One Year Later: No Longer Zero to Obesity in Ten Seconds

12 Jul

girl on scaleThe following is a post from July 12, 2013. I have updated the article with positive changes from the past year. :-)


I guess it all started when I was quite young.  Food became a source of comfort and I just didn’t seem to lose my “baby fat” until 8th grade.

My mother meant well when she put “us” (Mom and me) on a diet when I was 12.  SHE was thin.  I was overweight at the time, I guess. Although, I had yet to experience a 5-inch growth spurt that would stretch me out by the time I was in the fall of 8th grade and no longer needing to shed pounds.

In the past, I viewed myself as a very overweight person.  This self-perception had no connection to reality.  Yes, at times I weighed more than I liked.  But, the problem was not my actual weight in pounds; rather, it was the imaginary scale in my head.

I have the greatest compassion for anyone who struggles with weight issues. The psychological roots run so deep!  These problems go far beyond just “eating less.”  Most importantly, we are NOT defined by our weight.  Rather, the person INSIDE of us is really who we are!

Research has demonstrated that daughters whose mothers put them on diets have a tendency to be more dissatisfied with their body image (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2004).  For me, I have struggled with this issue most of my life.  Looking back, I know that my beloved mother meant well. She worked diligently to maintain her thin physique.  It must have been satisfying to her.  Mom wanted the same for me.  However, as the aforementioned research indicated, I became displeased with the person in the mirror.

chubby girlAs I said, in my mind, I was always a very fat person.

This is why I REFUSE to make comments about weight to either of my boys.  Males are also affected by their mother’s attitudes and behaviors about weight.  I limit my comments to nutrition.

Last year, I wrote about my love for the Starbucks Morning Bun.  Unfortunately, that culinary love affair ended when the coffee-house chain switched to a new pastry menu. Sadly, sometimes, we are forced to leave old pastry partners behind…

For a while, I started a rebound relationship with The Starbuck’s Blueberry Scone.  After consuming this “healthy” pastry (it contained antioxidant-rich berries, after all), “Chubby Cate”  returned.

Starbucks Blueberry SconeBut, the Blueberry Scone was so delicious!  Would I like it warmed up? Yes, please! Why would I choose a 400 calorie Plain Bagel with Cream Cheese when for a mere addition of 60 calories, I could have a “moist scone STUDDED with blueberries and topped with sugar crystals?”

The description made me feel as if I were ingesting semi-precious stones. Surely, the effect was a more sparkling me!

Thing the is, I didn’t feel like a glittering gem.  I felt like a carbohydrate loaded slug. Something had to give!

So, I researched the Paleo Diet and stayed on it for 24 hours until my neighbor told me that some people who remained on this eating plan were losing their hair. True or not, imagining myself both bald AND chubby seemed far too much to bear.

Dissecting the problem, helped me to see that I was eating when I wasn’t hungry, much as I had as a child.

For comfort.

For boredom.

For any emotion on the spectrum, from absolute delirium to the darkest depression.

In order to get in touch with my actual hunger and learn to appreciate food once again, I have simply stopped eating anything but fruit or vegetables between meals. 

How can something so simple help me to feel so much better, both physically and psychologically?

I guess it’s just food, not rocket science.

Comments are most welcome!

Have a terrific weekend,

Cate Pane

Nominees for Very Inspiring Blogger Award: Hope Springs Eternal

11 Jul


As I mentioned on Tuesday, Chaos Girl and the Real World nominated me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award at a moment in my life when I was about to take a blogging break due to lack of INSPIRATION.  This award is stimulating me to open up my heart and mind to the words that have escaped me as of late. I am so very appreciative of her kindness; words can’t express my gratitude adequately. Or, maybe they can.  Chaos Girl’s inspiration was:

  • like giving up ice cream to lose weight and then told that my special metabolism NEEDED ice cream to shed pounds
  • akin to finding an oasis after crawling for days across the scorching sands of the Wadi Desert
  • similar to having a heartfelt and long-suffering prayer intention answered, when I felt like giving up hope

Yes.  That’s the word.  Chaos Girl gave me HOPE.  Hope that the future isn’t what I have predicted in my limited consciousness.  Hope that God has other plans for my family.  Hope showing me that I don’t need to hold on so tight; I am not in control (continually learning this lesson)!

Listed below are 15 out of many great blogs I follow and wish to nominate for this award (in NO particular order).  These blogs truly inspire me. If any of you wish not to accept, please receive my gratitude for helping me to see that as Alexander Pope once penned,

“Hope springs eternal.”

  1. Jeannie Cunnion
  2. Levi’s Daily Thoughts
  3. Kindness Blog
  4. Black Women Have it Going On
  5. A Time to Share
  6. Punishment Hurts Everyone
  7. Less to More
  8. From Diapers and Tutus to Meetings and Boardrooms
  9. Social Media Infographics & Stats
  10. Journeys of the Fabulist
  11. Space Monkey Twins
  12. Monster in Your Closet
  13. Pursuit of a Joyful Life
  14. Journey to the Finish Line
  15. Living to Please God

I recommend visiting each of these blogs to receive your own inspiration! In accepting the nomination there are two rules:

1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog from which they received the nomination.

2) The nominee shall nominate 15 bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

Congratulations to each of the nominees!  Thank you for giving me hope and inspiration.

Happy Friday,

Cate Pane


Please Tell Me a Story

10 Jul

palmtreehouse“Once upon a time, there was little, 3 year-old boy named. John.  He lived in a big yellow house with a giant palm tree in the front yard.  The tree was so very tall that it almost touched the heavens! Ted and Olivia could see the palm tree from their home next door. They had a nice gray house with a long, green and white motor home in their driveway. One summer afternoon, John decided to go next door and climb into Ted and Olivia’s motor home. As he sat in the driver’s seat, he felt like the biggest boy in the world…”

I stood at the bottom of the stairs, eavesdropping on what had become a creative nightly routine.  After my husband, Frank, had finished reading books to my older son, John, he would “spin a yarn.”  Our little one delighted in the nightly tales.

John was always more of a realist. At the age of 4, he commented that, “the thought of a big giant bunny delivering baskets filled with candy on Easter is absolutely ridiculous!” So, Frank customarily included factual information in each of his stories. His addition of elements of our son’s little world was a successful means of drawing him into each story.  I remember tears filling my eyes as I listened each night from below. In my heart I knew that my child received a very special gift on those extraordinary evenings.

Research conducted in 2006 demonstrated that oral storytelling stimulates both language and literacy in young kids. In fact, it appears to rival reading to children.


I bet there isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t hid a child’s favorite storybook after reading it to them for the hundredth time.  As a young child, John loved an illustrated book of nursery rhymes.  After singing “All Around the Mulberry Bush” and “Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son” for the umpteenth time, I actually hid the caustic collection of rhymes in the cushions of the couch.barney

Imagine being locked in a room with the same episode of “Barney” being aired over and over and over again.  I guarantee the typical parent would do anything to be released after hearing, “I love you. You love me.  We’re a hap-py fam-i-ly…” ad infinitum.

Absolute torture!

So, hiding John’s favorite storybook was simply self-preservation. It saved him from having his mother taken away in a straightjacket.  Of course, I never lied when he inquired as to its location. I always responded, “I just know it’s SOMEWHERE…”

At these times, I switched gears and told a story about my family.  John’s favorite was the tale about the time I asked my maternal grandfather to “please pass the bread” to me at the dinner table (obviously decades before the carb and gluten obsessions began).  Rather than simply passing the basket of buns, Grandpa proceeded to “Hail Mary” the roll down to my end of the table. John loved the part where Grandma chastised Grandpa for misbehaving!

Storytelling is also beneficial for adults. A study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that listening to a peer’s stories lowered the blood pressure of patients matched by ethnicity, socio-economic status and gender.

I frequently listen to stories on “The Moth Radio Hour” on National Public Radio.  I find the experience of listening to storytelling both calming and captivating. This oral tradition has almost disappeared.  It was so commonly enjoyed by families in the days when radio was the sole means of home entertainment.

goodnightmoonWe’ve lost the joy of listening to people painting pictures with their words.

So remember when you’ve read, Goodnight Moon, for the millionth time, you can put the book away and tell a goodnight story that your child will never forget.

Believe me.

Neither will you.

And by the way, Ted and Olivia sold the motor home but continue to live “happily ever after.”

Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

Cate Pane

P.S. For a detailed description of how to incorporate a review of your child’s day in bedtime storytelling, please see Janelle Durham’s excellent blog post on:  Good Days with Kids .  Check out the rest of her blog.  You won’t be disappointed!



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