Loving Gracious Professionalism

24 Apr

   
As I looked out over the crowd of fans cheering in the Edward Jones Dome, my heart swelled with myriad thoughts and emotions. 

Admiration for the thousands of hours students dedicate to a push-it-to-limits and beyond engineering endeavor.

Joy for the special place these scholars find in satisfaction of the pursuit of excellence in robotics.

Peace in knowing that win or lose, “Gracious Professionalism,” coined by MIT Professor Emeritus Woodie Flowers as the guiding principle for participants in FIRST Robotics, will ultimately make these students better human beings.

And the world a better place.

Signing off from St. Louis,

Catie

Parental Paradigm

12 Apr

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Live so that when your children think of fairness,
caring, and integrity, they think of you.

~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

Easter People

5 Apr

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“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. 

We are the Easter people

and hallelujah is our song.”

St. John Paul II

Resolving to Relax

1 Jan
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My Spare Room: December 30, 2014

 

One of my greatest discoveries of 2014, is what I affectionately refer to as “my spare room.” Living only a few minutes from the beach, I go down and spend time taking walks and sitting in the car with the sunroof open.

I breathe.

I enjoy the beautiful vistas.

I rest my weary soul.

Honestly, I’m usually there for only 30 minutes or so.  But, it seems like hours. It’s amazing how time almost stands still when we still our busy bodies and minds. The result is a clear and calm head, ready to return to my family.

Parental stress has been determined to affect children in negative ways. Stress in America, a survey by the American Psychological Association, found that a mere 14% of children were unbothered by the stress of their parents.  In addition, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, results indicated that parental tension leaves lasting markers on children’s DNA.

My Spare Room December 27, 2014

My Spare Room: December 27, 2014

My spare room on the shores of the Pacific Ocean is helping me to reduce my tension and increase my calm in hopes of bringing a more peaceful presence into my home.  My kids deserve it. We all fare better in a tranquil environment.

I guess we don’t need to add a new room onto our home after all!

Please share your restorative getaways!

Happy New Year!

Catie

 

It’s Almost Time to Go

30 Dec
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“But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:

Old Year! a parting word that’s true,

For we’ve been comrades, you and I —
  I thank God for each day of you;

There! bless you now! Old Year,
good-bye!”

~From “Passing of the Year”
Robert W. Service
1874 –  1958

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

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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

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Our Children’s Greatest Gift

8 Dec

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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

 

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