N is for (Finding) Neverland

N is for the movie Finding Neverland

As in, I've never seen Johnny Depp look more handsome, or exhibit more charm.

As in, I've never seen such a joyous movie clip as when Julie Christie claps her hands, signalling that, yes, she believes in fairies!

As in, I've never seen such a sweet movie clip as when Depp points out to the child George that he has indeed become a man. 

As in, I've never seen a more beautifully, heart-wrenching movie scene with a child (at the end, when Freddie Highmore and Depp are on the park bench.)  I cannot watch it without tears.  Ever.

If you have not seen Finding Neverland, you have not witnessed Johnny Depp's best work.  If you only know him as Captain Jack Sparrow...you've only seen the quirky (albeit creative) face of Depp.  In Finding Neverland, he will steal your heart.

Depp plays James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.  The movie is based on Barrie's real-life friendship with the Davies family of a beautiful widow and her four active boys.  As he grows to love Sylvia Davies and her youngsters, the adventures of Peter Pan take shape in his mind.  It's such a delightful movie, great for kids and adults of all ages.  Dustin Hoffman is superb as the theater owner.

Next time you're looking for something on Netflix, choose Finding Neverland.   It's magical.


Many, Many, Many Lunches!

M is for MANY!  As in 30+ packed lunch ideas.

A few years ago, I started packing lunches for my husband and our teacher/daughter who was back home for awhile.  Peanut butter and jelly was OK on occasion, but I wanted to see how many different ideas I could create.  I wanted to use leftovers and produce as much as possible.

Here's what I came up with:  30 + PACKED LUNCHES. 

I guarantee there will be something you'll want to try.   Don't we all get tired of fixing the same thing over and over?

Leftover roast beef, whatever-you-have pasta salad, celery brooms 
with peanut butter/honey, and grapes

Do you pack a lunch?  If so, what are your favorite ideas?


Lessons Learned (8 things I've learned from caretaking)

I thought I was pretty grown up, until my dad had a stroke in 2009.  That's when I realized I really didn't know much of anything.  Anything of importance anyway.  

I've been helping my folks, 90 and 93, for five years now.  Before that, skipping around the world as a career Air Force wife, raising three children, teaching, writing, hitting the gym, trying new recipes….my life was adventuresome and blessed. I never thought much about aging, let alone my folks' aging process.  

After Dad's stroke, it was right in front of me.  Not long after the stroke, Parkinson's began to appear in his limbs.  Mom's hearing began to get worse.  Then, she needed back surgery.  Then, she fell and needed hip surgery.   

My folks moved to an assisted living facility a mile from me.   That first year, Mom fell and badly broke her shoulder...more surgery.  Dad developed a brain bleed and needed surgery.  They were both diagnosed with some dementia.  Within a span of five years, my parents went from independence to wheelchairs. 

I have lived with a persistent sadness ever since.

Before you click away, thinking, what a gloomy post this is, let me say I have learned more about myself and God in the past five years than I learned in the decade prior. I’d like to share with you what God has shown me.

1. If you are genuine about serving the Lord, you must be unattached to your own agenda. Whatever game plan you have for your own life, be willing to toss the playbook aside if God changes the rules.

2. Watching your parents decline is sad. At some point, they are not going to get better. There’s no way around that. However, it’s OK to be sad. Grieving our health and youth and vigor is expected. It helps us to remember this world is a temporary pit stop. We were never designed to be on the planet forever. God has a permanent home for us that will dry all tears and bring lasting peace.

3. My glaring impatience revealed itself early on in caring for my folks. I didn’t know how locked in I was to having my own timetable until I was forced to move at a geriatric pace in order to help Mom do anything. It hit me how selfish I was. I think of Christ, who met everyone right where they were, and spoke immediately to their soul, not to their disabilities.

4. Right when I think I’m not comfortable taking on more responsibility as a caretaker, God gives me another thing. It’s happened more than once. I think He likes to mess with me. What I’ve now accepted is this – until my folks are in heaven, God is going to keep giving me things to do. I’m the one He has placed in this position, and if I trust Him, I will be OK. So the question becomes, daily – do I trust Him? (Yes, I do.)

5. Our kids are watching. How I care for my parents is how they’ll care for me.

6. God is good ALL THE TIME. Not just when the folks are stable, and I’m getting enough sleep. But, when Dad’s in the hospital, and Mom has a UTI, and there’s no hot water at their ALF, and my house is a wreck, and I’m not getting any writing done. He’s good even then.

7. There can still be laughter. Mom calls her pantiliners “i-pads.” A resident at the ALF takes her teeth out to eat and tucks them in her bra. We still celebrate the holidays together and share stories (sometimes the same ones) and go to the ice cream shop and pray together at church. Aging takes the body’s strength and acumen, but it can’t eradicate the spirit, which is where God resides. That’s the connection that will not be broken.

8. Someday, probably sooner than I will be ready for, God will call my parents home. This season of my life will end. I don’t know what God will ask me to do then, but I pray I will be unafraid. He is leading me though this unexpected journey, and I believe He will continue to guide me in whatever adventure He has lined up next.

My parents today

(I originally wrote this post for Blogs by Christian Women.   I wanted to share it here.)



K is for Klinedale

Klinedale is my 90 year-old dad.  Yep, that's his real name.

When my mom first met him, she chuckled after hearing his name.  "Klinedale?" she repeated.  "What do people call you?"

Deadpan, he replied, "Klinedale."

They've been married 64 years.  

Here's a picture of him doing his favorite thing these days.

Getting a hot fudge sundae with our daughter

He received his Master's in Public Health and worked for the government most of his adult life.  He was an accomplished pianist.  He had four children, one of whom died at the age of 23.   He has developed Parkinson's in the past few years, so he's mostly parked in his wheel chair.

His spirit is still young (about 12), and his sense of humor still shines.  A lot of people think their dad is the best, but mine really is.  Ask either of my two remaining siblings.   

I don't know when God might take my dad, so I just wanted you to meet him.

You've probably never met a Klinedale before.

And you'll probably never meet another one.



My J word is Jabberwocky.  It's an adventurous word created by Lewis Carroll, whom I believe Dr. Seuss channeled years later.  If you've never read this poem, spend a minute on it now.  It will challenge your brain and tickle your imagination like no other poetry on the planet. 


Lewis Carroll

         (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872) 

         `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
            Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
           All mimsy were the borogoves,
             And the mome raths outgrabe.

                                             "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
                                         The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
                                              Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
                                                  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
         He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
                                            Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
                                              O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
                                                     He chortled in his joy.

                 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
                  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
                  All mimsy were the borogoves,
                    And the mome raths outgrabe. 
Cool, huh?  You have just read a classic.