Boxing My Christmas Memories

26 Dec

boxing-day

The celebration commonly known as Boxing Day, has many possible origins. In England, it began as a day for the aristocracy to bestow boxed Christmas gifts upon their servant staff on December 26th.

Today, as I recall our Christmas memories of 2014, I’d like to “box” the following:

1. My first Christmas Eve spent in our church choir.  It was similar to a melodious marathon; yet, it was all joy and beauty. The highlight was the exquisite accompaniment of my dear friend’s son on the violin.

2. The unexpected thoughtfulness of my sons and husband:

Who would know that awakening to a spotless kitchen Christmas Eve morning would bring a girl to tears? Thank you, Frank!

Who would know that my older son would “save the day” by giving his younger brother one of his favorite gifts?

Who would know that my Michael would make his mother’s day by including my absolute favorite chocolate in my stocking?

seasalt

Ghirardelli Intense Sea Salt Soiree
Dark Chocolate Squares

3. And finally, having to stay in town due to wisdom teeth extraction complications and a sinus infection created an unexpected Christmas time capsule of memories spent with my little family and dear friends.

I will forever cherish the unique and wondrous wrapping of Christmas 2014.

Hope all of you who celebrate Christmas had a lovely celebration!

Feel free to share your boxed memories!

Catie

 

 

To Moms of Kids Who Consume Special Services

11 Dec

whatcoloris Monday

I follow quite a few blogs written by parents of children needing special services.

I laugh.

I cry.

I don’t know exactly how they feel.

But, the extremely articulate writing of these moms will blow your socks off, even if you don’t have a kid with exceptional needs.

My favorite blog in this genre is Carrie Cariello:  Exploring the Colorful World of Autism.  Her book, What Color is Monday? is both humorous and full of hope.  Carrie’s words remind us that we are all different in some way, whether we carry a label or not.

You see, for years I taught kids with exceptionalities and many of them were autistic.  I witnessed the astronomical growth of kids diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Unfortunately, this growth in Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD – by the way I hate the use of the word “Disorders”) is yet to be explained.

Back when I was teaching, in many of my parent meetings I would cautiously say:  “I don’t have kids and I don’t have a child like yours.  I won’t pretend to know how you think and feel about your child.” But there are things of which I am certain:

  • You know your child better than anyone else in the world.
  • I really care about my efforts in meeting your child’s educational needs.  I would like to come along side you so that we can work together to stimulate progress.
  • You do not want to be seen as a “saint” whom God chose to raise your beautiful child.

Today, I want each of you moms of kids who are “consumers of special services” (a term used by a graduate school professor of mine) to know that I’m continually sending good thoughts and prayers out to you.

Not because you are a saint.

Not because you are special.

But, because you persevere, knowing that your beloved child is a human being, first and foremost.

~Catie

 

Joy is Contagious

9 Dec

boyinchefshat

 

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Our Children’s Greatest Gift

8 Dec

ChidrensGift

My Mother Never Saw My College Applications

2 Dec

teenparkbenchMy single memory of applying to college was asking my mother for 2 checks needed to accompany the submitted forms and essays.

I don’t think she really knew what I hoped to pursue academically.  I don’t think she asked. I don’t think I really knew either.

Taking a 180 degree turn my sophomore year, I changed my major from business to speech and hearing sciences.

My stomach still churns when I hear terms like “marginal utility” and “monopolistic competition.” Two weeks into microeconomics, and my desire to enter the world of business shrank to a minuscule inclination.

Please God, let me spend the rest of my days without viewing a radically misnamed “Laffer Curve.”  Believe me, studying this model during my freshman year, brought not smiles, but tears to my eyes.  (Of course, I knew that it was named after the economist, Arthur Laffer; but, at the time this offered little consolation.)

To this day, I still suffer “PTED” (Post-Traumatic Economics Disorder).

Remarkably, my transformation from studying money to a helping profession all transpired without a single conversation with my parents.

Admittedly, I was fiercely independent, but it never even occurred to me that it would matter to them.

I guess in those days, most parents wanted to launch their kids and hoped they’d find their way.

In the 1960’s, Psychologist, Diana Baumrind, identified 4 parenting styles:

  1. Authoritarian:  This type of parent is very controlling. The style is highly punitive and strict discipline is a hallmark.
  2. Authoritative:  These parents help their teens to maintain limits, but encourage independence.
  3. Permissive:  Permissive parents ask little of their children. Indulgence is the key and giving in to adolescent demands is common.
  4. Uninvolved:  These parents place no demands on their children.  They lack warmth and may even be identified as neglectful.

During the early years, Frank, and I did our best to lay the foundation for faith, communication, decision-making and self-discipline.  I would say that our parenting style has been authoritative. Now that the boys are teens, we are allowing the kids to make their own decisions within established guidelines. This is not always easy.  Many times, we fail. So, when it comes to making decisions about future academic plans, we work to allow John to pursue reasonable dreams, but we are also influenced by present day parenting practices.

This is not a good thing.

I must confess.

At times, I feel conflicted.

At times, I feel insecure.

At times, I’d like some of that Michael Jackson propofol to hibernate me until May!

Today’s college admissions culture is radically different from my own.  For some reason, it seems as if many of us are trying to find our teen’s way for them.  I guess it is an extension of the “child as project” society in which we live.

And, as my older son wraps up his college application process, I have a few questions that plague me:

  • Why was I always so encouraging, yet “hands-off” when it came to John’s pursuits?
  • Should I have directed him more strongly to immerse himself into a wider variety of academic areas instead of trusting him to find his niche?
  • When “he knew better,” about goals for his future and how to attain them, should I have found a way (don’t think I didn’t try!) to communicate my wisdom gained from experience, rather than to merely support his process?

The answers are no, no and no!

This child has known what he wanted from the day of his birth.

I believe that John has always believed that given the right opportunities, he would find his way in this world.

And so, as the “waiting season” begins, I must remember that it is John who is anticipating responses to his collegecollegeapplication applications, not I.

After all, this is the beginning of John finding his way to HIS future, not mine.

Now, if he could just find “a way” to pay for it all!

“Do not prepare the path for the child. Prepare the child for the path and he will find his way.”

~Author Unknown

Funny how my “authoritative” mother knew exactly what she was doing when she allowed me to do it on my own.

I welcome your thoughts on this subject!

Have a terrific Tuesday,

Catie

 

Sharing Our Gratitude

27 Nov

motherteresathanksgiving

 

 

 

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 are 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.

Really?!!!

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

 

 

 

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