Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thank Heaven for Little Boys...

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice
That's what little girls are made of!

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs’ tails

That's what little boys are made of!

(Traditional English nursery rhyme)


I’m not sure what a “snip” is.

But I agree that there is a major chromosomal difference.

Having raised 3 girls, this boy-thing is exotic unknown territory. I am learning something new about the species every day.

Little Boys:

…sneak into their grandparents’ bed at night and awaken them the next morning with a head-butt and a hug.

…dig the keys out of their grandmother’s laptop and hide them. (If I miss a letter, you’ll understand why.)

…obsessive-compulsively carry around action figures, trains, and Toy Story characters at all times.

…conduct frequent self-anatomical explorations.

…can only with great difficulty resist the impulse to pull on the tails of small animals.

…turn every occasion of getting dressed into a Sumo wrestling match.

…conduct experiments by pulling all the dental floss out of the dispenser, all the toilet paper off the roll, and dumping all the shampoo into the tub.

…cannot walk into a room without divesting a couch or a bed of its pillows and jumping on it. (And pulling down the canopy for good measure.) 

…receive a major boo-boo at least every other day.

…inexplicably place their grandmother’s English china plates in the freezer so that they crash on the brick floor when she opens the door.

…think eating boogies and spitting are hysterically funny. (The more in trouble they get over these issues, the harder they laugh.)

…steal their grandparents’ glasses.

…attempt to put foreign objects into fans, no matter how many times they are warned against it.

…request French fries for every meal.

…hide car keys in the soil of potted plants.

…attempt to use Super Hero martial arts moves on unsuspecting care-takers. (“Pow!” in your face.)

…conduct frequent self-anatomical explorations. Oh wait, did I already mention that one? IT’S HAPPENING AGAIN!

Little Boys:

…say, “I’m sorry, Mimi!” immediately after every disaster.

...are absolutely delicious when asleep.

…cover their grandmother’s face with kisses.

...whisper, "Don't worry. I'll take care of you," to their stuffed animals.

…love to cuddle and snuggle.

…exclaim, “You look bootiful!” when the grandmother tries on a new dress.

…yell, “I love you THIS much!” while holding up all 10 fingers.

Little boys make me absolutely crazy

in love.


(If any of the above characteristics are extremely abnormal, will someone kindly let us know? I have no frame of reference here. Never even had a brother.)


This book is so true: 

I read it to my girls, but it's even more fun now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mean People

I don’t know many mean people any more.

But I still know a few.

(If you’re reading this, you’re not one of them.)

At this stage of the game, I choose to fill my life with as many positive, uplifting, encouraging people as I can. 

A horrific life-event (such as my daughter Katherine’s debilitating AVM rupture) tends to reveal who your true friends really are. To my surprise, I found that I had more than I realized.

More than I deserve.

And those friends happen to be very sweet.

So, when I run across a Mean Person now, it almost shocks me. I’ve been spoiled by the great Healers, Love and Laughter... which is how I characterize my friends.

When you’re younger, you have more opportunities to be around Mean People. They might go to your high school. They might work at your office. Their kids might be in your kid’s class…play on the same sports team.

Maybe they’re in your church.

Or your family.

Being around Mean People may be unavoidable for you. If so, I’m sorry. Mean People are a downer. They can infect any atmosphere with their lack of love.

General Traits of Mean People:

Gossip about other people’s faults in order to feel better about themselves.

Mock and make fun of people for the same reason.

Need to be in charge and in control.

Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate in order to do so.

Sabotage the efforts of others.

Rejoice at other people’s failure, denigration, or fall from grace.

Hold everyone around them hostage by fear and intimidation.

In short, Mean People are just Big Old Bullies.

When my sensitive firstborn was close to 2, a friend of mine with kids her age purchased one of the first VCR players in town. (Yes, we are that old.) She invited our toddler play group over for a movie screening.

The movie was Disney’s Dumbo*, one of my childhood favorites.

We young mothers were chatting in the back. The other toddlers were pointing at the TV and saying stuff like, “Googoo, gaga, wook at the elf-ant,” and laughing.

Katherine’s eyes sought mine through the crowd.

They were huge and dark. Tears started spurting out of them when she caught my eye, dribbling down her prissy smocked dress. Racking sobs shook her little body.

I flew to her and scooped her up in my arms.

“What happened? Did you get hurt?” I demanded, panicking.

Between sobs, she stopped to catch her breath, and held it to the point of crescendo.

“Why is there meanness in the world???” she exhaled on an endless wail.

She’d been watching the way the other elephant ladies treated Dumbo’s mother.

I feel like I’ve been trying to answer that question ever since.

The World can be plenty darn mean.

Watching the evening news sometimes, I ask God:

“Why is there so much meanness in the world?”

What makes human beings mean?

I think some keys are found in an interesting dialogue between the narrator and his mentor in Lewis’ The Great Divorce.

The mentor discusses “…The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven.”

“I don’t know what I want, Sir.”

“Son, son, it must be one way or the other. Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it; or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”

Mean people are self-imprisoned.

Mean people are loveless.

Mean people are unhappy.

Mean people are hurting, wounded people.

I have found the axiom “Hurt people hurt people” to be very true in my own life.

It helps me to remember this. When confronted with vicious behavior, I may vent about it for a while. But eventually, I have to confess my own reaction or I “become that which I hate.”

I pray for compassion. “Help me to see this person as a hurt little child, acting out from his/her woundedness.” 

God only knows what scars may be on that soul.

And then I pray for the person. (Sometimes very grudgingly.) It’s hard to stay angry at someone when I’m praying for them. It just evaporates in the face of the grace I’ve received myself. How can I refuse anyone else what I have been so graciously given?

Okay, I can’t go any further with this without some serious self-examination.

When have I been a Mean Girl?

A few scenes from High School flash by. Ugh. What a little gossip.

There was a time in the ladies’ room at the KA house in about 1973 or '4 for which I really need to ask forgiveness. If you’re reading this, whoever you are, please forgive me. That night remains kind of hazy.

What about those prayer groups in my thirties where I went into far too much detail about what was wrong with someone in order to pray for them?

What about last weekend when…

Lord, forgive me for my manifold sins and hold them not against me.

In examining my own past motivations in acting mean, I am reminded of another important source of meanness:


Mean people are often jealous of something you have that they don’t. Could be a boyfriend, a house, an award, a lifestyle...

But most of all, they are jealous of your joy.

If they can’t have it, they don’t want anyone else to have it, either. They attempt to "blackmail the universe," as Mr. Lewis says. Hold everyone else hostage to their misery.

My sensitive eldest child had some kind of typical Mean Girl episode in Middle School. In tears, she fled to the office of the Middle School principal, a wise, wonderful, loving woman who had raised 3 girls herself. She let Katherine pour out her hurt, then shared some advice that Katherine has never forgotten. She taught her this:

No one can rob you of your joy unless you let them.”

Katherine has lived by that advice ever since.

She has steadfastly refused to let anyone or anything rob her of her love and joy.

And that is how we win out over all the Meanness in the universe.

“The day must come when joy prevails…”


If you are dealing with a Mean Person in your life, I hope this helps a little. I think we all do, at one time or another. And most of us are, at one time or another.

(* I have a feeling that I may have shared this Dumbo story somewhere along the way. If so, please forgive yet another Senior Moment.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eternal Perspective

I started crying when I saw my child's picture here:

Life is hard.

As soon as I sighed that inwardly, fragments of these words popped into my head:

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 

I looked it up on Biblegateway. It was II Corinthians 4:8-9.

I had forgotten that the chapter closed with these words:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

The title of Katherine’s post is “Perspective.”

One of its definitions is the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it.

Although Katherine’s physical eyes have been damaged, the eyes of her heart are 20/20.

I am so proud of my brave little girl.


Please keep praying that this surgery will be effective.

It was interesting to go back and read this one, written almost two years ago.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mountaintop Memories

Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th!

We got our favorite little guy (by way of Montgomery… he’s making the Grandparent Rounds), and headed for the hills.

We met up with some of my husband’s family at their old (1920’s) mountain house in a beautiful area of South Carolina. Lots of belly laughs, hikes around the mountain, swimming, and devouring delicious fresh veggies we bought at the Curb Market in Hendersonville. (Okay, there were some nasty-good pork ribs in there, too.) But there is absolutely nothing on earth like a Southern-grown, vine-ripe blood-red tomato, lightly salted.

Many memories live in the walls of that old mountain house. Several generations of Arnolds spent summers there, fleeing the oppressive heat of July in South Florida. Lifelong friendships were made within the little community of interesting characters. There were put-together suppers and square dances at the Lodge. Progressive cocktail parties around the mountain. Hikes to gorgeous waterfalls hidden deep in the verdant woods, paths banked by gargantuan pink rhododendron and mountain laurel. Outdoor church services at a chapel known as “Pretty Place.”

I was first introduced to the magic of “Caesar’s Head” while still in college. Later, our children bonded with distant cousins there, performing original plays for their parents and friends at the Lodge… swimming in the frigid pool… catching fireflies with the neighborhood kids at dusk.

Faded pictures line the walls of the upstairs hall, punched into the wood planks by thumbtacks: a life-sized scrapbook. There are relatives long gone to Glory. My husband and his siblings in the 60’s. My glamorous in-laws in their prime. My girls and I in the 8o’s, all in pink jeans. (Mine were even flowered.)

I tried to take a picture of a picture on my cellphone to send the girls, but ATT doesn’t quite reach the mountaintop. No TV and no internet, either. Simplicity.

We hadn’t been up to the mountain house in years. It is shocking to contemplate how much has changed in my life since the last time I was there.

And yet so much remains the same.

My sister-in-law still makes me wet my pants laughing... just as she did in college.

And I am teaching James to catch fireflies.


(Picture of a picture of James' mom and auntie in the old claw-foot tub.)
(James in the same tub, 25 years later.)


Most of you have gotten the news about Katherine's new website, but just in case anyone missed it, please click on the anchor:

Katherine will be having her next eye surgery at 11:00 Pacific Time today. Please join us in praying for a successful outcome.

As always, thank you so much for your support!

Love, Kim