Monday, September 25, 2006


I suppose maybe it's because of my patients that I work with, but lately I have been pondering a lot the value of relationships. Last month I got together with some of the women from my church, and afterwards I was talking with a friend about how hard it is to really maintain long-term friendships with our lifestyles the way they are. In my job, I get to see people at the end of life, and I am amazed by both ends of the spectrum - some patients are surrounded with people who love them, who admire them, who respect them, who have been touched by this person whose life is coming to an end. At the other end, I have patients who are completely isolated, with no one to help them through the end of life's journey, people who are angry and lonely and hurting, who don't feel like they've got any meaning to their lives and who don't feel they've made any kind of difference in this world. I sometimes wonder what path led them to this point, because I, of course, only get a brief snapshot of their lives. It makes me want to live a better life, to do some good, to make a difference in some way, so that I leave a legacy of compassion and love when it is my turn to leave this place.

I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude when I think about the people in my life, all of you who have touched my life in some way. Whether I see you daily or I talk to you a couple times a year, each of you have been placed in my life for a reason, and I am so thankful. I feel so blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family, and to share in so many lives. I love each and every one of you!

Apple Pie

Well, here it is - my masterpiece...LOL! Actually, I have to say, it turned out to be quite delicious, and the crust was beautiful - like my leaves? I did cheat and used store-bought crust, then cut itout with a cookie cutter to make the leaves. But the insides were my own recipe - apples, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, a blend of Splenda and brown sugar, and cornstarch. My only mistake was that I should have used more apples; they cooked down so much that the pie was a little skinny after it cooled. I actually had more apples, but I was so tired of peeling and slicing them that I quit too soon. I used McIntosh apples - wow were they good! I ate my pie with some cheddar cheese melted on top and some cream poured over it, as recommended by a friend - mmm! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fall is here!

Yaaayyy! Fall is here! It's my favorite time of year, when the temperatures finally start falling (although around here, that just means it stays below 100 degrees, if we're lucky) and the scents of apples and pumpkins are in the air.

Yesterday, we drove up the mountain to Oak Glen for a little taste of fall. We went to Los Rios Ranch, with friends Dan and Gloria (see picture of them below). We got barbequed tri-tip sandwiches (YUM!) and had a picnic outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather. Then we went hiking on some trails, which was so much fun. I think I was drunk on the fresh air! One of the trails had a pond with a floating dock, where Anthony, of course, tried to climb through the railing to get to the water! Another trail had wild blackberries growing along it - yummy! Anthony enjoyed running on the trails and had fun sitting and climbing on the rocks. As you can see, Darrell had to put Anthony up in a tree for a picture!

After the hike, we went back to the little store and bought some apples (I plan to make a pie), apple butter, and apple cider. Gloria got a pie, and then we went back to their place in Calimesa for apple pie and coffee. It was probably the best apple pie I've ever had - now I have a lot to live up to with my own pie! We sat outside and enjoyed the cool evening as the sun went down. It was the perfect day!

We left Calimesa around 7:30 p.m. to drive back out to the warm desert. At least my house is decorated for fall, even if it doesn't feel much like fall outside!

We're contemplating another camping trip, perhaps up to Big Bear, sometime in October. Anthony has not been sleeping well at night, so we're a little hesitant after our last experience. We'll have to see what the next few weeks have in store for us. At a minimum, we're planning to do some more hiking with Dan and Gloria.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A day in the life...

Saturday, September 16, 2006...a day in the life of the Clark family.

12:00 a.m. - everyone is sleeping soundly

2:30 a.m. - Anthony wakes up to nurse for a few minutes, then returns to sleep easily; me too

5:15 a.m. - Anthony's awake for the day; I take him to bed to try to convince him to sleep a while longer, but to no avail. He lays between us and takes turns patting us on the cheeks, talking to us, naming our various body parts...nose, eyes, ears, mouth, as he pokes each of them.

6:00 a.m. - I give up and get up with Anthony, taking him to the living room and put on cartoons to try to let Darrell sleep a while longer. I put on a pot of coffee while Anthony watches Dora the Explorer. I sit on the couch and sip my coffee, trying to read another chapter in "Dying Well" by Ira Byock, a book about hospice patients. I've been trying to get through it since I started my job in March, but I've only made it to the third or fourth chapter. I was able to actually finish a chapter, but then felt sad because of the story, so put it back down.

7:00 a.m. - Anthony has gotten bored with cartoons and went back into the bedroom to convince Darrell to get up. He does, and gets busy finishing the laundry. Then he headed to the garage and worked on sorting out some things to take to the homeless shelter, and put away the camping gear from our trip Labor Day weekend. Anthony went out with him, and I stayed on the couch and tried to read a bit more while I nibble on a peanut butter granola bar.

7:30 a.m. - Anthony's hungry, eats some cereal and has some milk in his sippy cup. He continues to go in and out from the garage. I talk to my dad on the phone for a bit. He complained that it's getting cold in New Hampshire - all the way down to the 40's at night. Wahhh...cry me a river.

8:30 a.m. - Anthony's getting very cranky - go figure, he got up over 3 hours ago! I put him down for a nap while I chat on the phone with my sister Karen for almost an hour. She catches me up on Emma's latest tricks while I listen to Emma crying in the background.

9:30 a.m. - My friend Deanna calls and asks if I want to meet her at It's a Grind (coffee shop) for coffee (we do this several times a week). I decline, since I'm already a bit shaky from the two cups I've had, plus we have plans to get together later in the day. Darrell gets ready to take the stuff over to the homeless shelter, and leaves to do so. He returns in about half an hour. Meanwhile, my mom calls and I chat with her for about half an hour. She can't wait to see Anthony at Thanksgiving.

10:00 a.m. - I get on the computer and read some email. Anthony wakes up and joins me at the kitchen table. Then I start working on some online classes I have to take for work, so that I don't get stuck sitting in the office this week trying to get them done. I spend close to two hours doing this. Anthony thinks he's so big sitting in the chair next to me, snacking on some goldfish and drinking his ice water.

11:00 a.m. - Anthony plays with his puzzle for a while, and follows Darrell around while he works on the laundry. I take a break and we have a late breakfast - totally defeat my workout from last night by eating a bacon sandwich.

12:00 p.m. - I stop on the computer to get ready to meet Deanna. Anthony runs in and out of the bathroom the entire time I'm getting ready, saying "Hot, hot," regarding my hair straightener that he wants so badly to touch but which he's been warned a hundred times not to! He's getting cranky again, so I put him down for another nap right before I leave. Darrell looked like he was going to take a nap too.

12:50 p.m. - I meet Deanna at her house, and ride with her to Michael's craft store, where we watch a demonstration of a new scrapbooking tool (the Cricut) that we both desperately want (but which, at $300, is out of both of our price ranges right now). She has baby Taylor (4 months old) with her, and she was a real trooper. We spend about an hour in Michael's.

2:00 p.m. - I have no idea what went on at home while I was gone, but I had fun hanging out with Deanna. We went next to The Coffee Bean and got, of course. I notice my abs are getting progessively more painful from my Pilates workout last night. Then on to Target, where we spend another hour browsing. I, remarkably, only spend $4, although I was shoving things in Deanna's face for her to buy for Taylor the entire time. Bad friend, bad friend.

3:30 p.m. - We arrive at the Scrapbook Co., our very favorite store. I get a message on my cell phone from, not MY husband, but Deanna's husband, asking her to call home. She forgot her phone. Deanna said we were going to run right in to the store and just grab a couple Angels things so she could scrapbook her trip to the Angels game last week. Of course, they had gotten a lot of new merchandise in just the last couple weeks, so we spent another hour in there drooling over all the very cool things we could not afford to buy!

4:30 p.m. - We head to Costco, where I stay in the car with Taylor while Deanna runs in and picks up some photos she had printed of her recent trip home to Canada. I call home and let Darrell know that I'm still alive, and tell him we can have steak for dinner.

5:00 p.m. - We make it back to Deanna's house, where her husband amusingly watches me walk in loaded down with all the cool stuff Deanna bought. I brag that I only spent $4, and Deanna rats me out for being a bad influence on her and getting her to spend lots of money!

5:15 p.m. - I finally make it home, where Darrell and Anthony are sitting together in the living room watching t.v., alternating between a movie and college football. Is that channel switching just a guy thing? It drives me crazy - I'll sit down and just start to get into a movie, then he has to switch the channel. Darrell had started the grill, so I cooked some potatoes and onions and cut up some tomatoes and avocados to go with the steaks. Meanwhile, Anthony is very cranky and wants one of us to hold him.

5:45 p.m. - Anthony's crankiness culminates with him vomiting all over the kitchen floor while I'm trying to fix dinner. Ugh, here we go again. His temp immediately starts climbing. I put a towel on the couch and lay him down on it while Darrell finishes grilling the steaks and I finish the other stuff. He's very lethargic and moaning.

6:00 p.m. - We sit down to try to eat, and Anthony starts begging for bites. I refuse to give him any, b/c he just threw up, and Darrell tells me to give him some potato, which I do to avoid an argument.

6:15 p.m. - Big surprise, Anthony throws up again. I insist that he only get water at this point. He starts getting hot, but I don't want to give him anything until his stomach calms down. Guess I should have bought those Tylenol suppositories I saw at Walgreens last week.

6:45 p.m. - I clean up the kitchen while Darrell holds Anthony and watches football. He is getting hotter, but he's kept water down for half an hour, so I give him some chewable tylenol, which he loves.

7:15 p.m. - I join them in the living room and take over the cuddling. Anthony is very solemn and rests his head in my lap, laying on the couch with a towel under him. I start to get a bit worried. He has a few goosebumps from the fever.

7:45 p.m. - Wow, that Tylenol did the trick. Anthony is clearly feeling better and gets up to start playing with his puzzle again. When he correctly gets a piece in place, he claps and tells himself, "Good job!" It's very cute. We finish watching the movie, End Days.

8:00 p.m. - Darrell heads to bed with Anthony. I decide not to nurse him, in case his stomach isn't ready yet, so they lay down together and I got on the computer. I intended to work some more on my online classes for work, but instead chatted online with my friend Cheri for a bit, and now got going on my blog. And here we are...

Gifts I made for my sister Karen

This is the lunchbox scrapbook album I made for my sister Karen as a gift. She had her first baby, Emma, 2 months ago, and hasn't had any time for scrapbooking. She can add photos and journaling - scrapbooking made easy! I also covered a journal for her to record all the precious moments to come. Hope you enjoy them, Karen!! I love you!

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Thursday, September 14, 2006


Woo-hoo!!! Three nights in a row, Anthony has slept all the way through the night! So why am I still waking up tired???

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Days of Tantrums...and personality!

Well, the time has officially arrived - Anthony's a toddler now. His favorite word all of a sudden is "No," but only when it comes out of HIS mouth. When it comes out of my mouth, he responds with a swift slap of the hand to whatever body part of mine he can find - which most often is my own hand grabbing his and stopping him. Then when I tell him he has to be nice, he gently rubs my arm and says, "Nice, nice." After multiple attempts to hit me, however, my hand grabs his and begins leading him down the hall to sit in "time-out" for 60 seconds. Getting there is fun, as he throws himself on the floor and refuses to walk, forcing me to pick him up and deliver him to the time out spot. This all, of course, is TORTURE for him, and if the neighbors could hear his screams, they'd probably call CPS or the cops! A minute is FOREVER to him, while he's sitting there crying, and yet, it quickly leaves his little short memory, because the next time I tell him not to do something or I refuse to give him something, out comes his chubby little hand again. It actually is pretty funny to watch him sometimes - like when he messes with the stereo cords and I tell him "No" from across the room, and he actually walks ALL the way across the room to me with his hand in the air, clearly with the intention of hitting me! He's got such a determined and defiant look on his face - sometimes I have to bite my cheek to keep from cracking up! So much attitude coming from such a little person!

On the flip side, his developing little personality is awesome. He is so affectionate, frequently running over to me in the middle of playing to give me a kiss or ask for a "High five." He loves to give hugs, and laughs with pure glee when I pick him up and dance around the living room with him. In the mornings, after (blessedly) a full night's sleep (which is becoming more frequent), he comes into bed with us and lays there on top of me, patting my face, "beeping" my nose, poking out my eyes, trying to stuff his fingers in my mouth, and tugging on my ears (he's been learning his body parts). He still loves to watch Elmo's World, and is beginning to try to sing along sometimes. He likes it when we do the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" together, but I can only do it when I have plenty of time, because in true toddler form, we have to do it over and over and over and over and get the picture. Same goes for "This little piggy went to market,..."

I took some time to myself this evening after Darrell got home. I don't know what my problem was this afternoon, but I was SO emotional!!! Maybe PMS? Don't know, but I was feeling crappy, just down and out pretty much all day. So I tried out this spa salon in Cathedral City - so nice! First they took me into the "Hair Spa," which is a dark room with soothing music and an entire wall screen with some ethereal-like colors and movement going on. I sat in a full-body massage chair, facing the soothing wall, reclining, and they put a warm, moist towel with aromatherapy oils on my face. Then I got a 5-minute neck massage with some great aromatherapy oil, and a warm towel wrapped around my neck. The shampoo included a nice scalp massage, followed my conditioner. I was mush by the time we went back to the stylist chair! Then, while the stylist was cutting my hair, another girl gave me a hand massage, which felt awesome. I thought I was going to fall asleep - it was EXACTLY what I needed. After she cut my hair, she straightened it for me - always a plus. I left feeling like a load was lifted off my shoulders - all for only $43 dollars, and it's a NO TIPPING salon!!! How great is that???? I still need a good shoulder and back massage, but this was great for now.

I have a deposition scheduled this Friday at 1:00 p.m. for a lawsuit I'm involved in - a former CPS client is suing me and some others in federal courts, claiming we violated his civil rights. It's a case from 6 years ago. I have been pretty nervous about it, although I have been calmer the past couple weeks. I have some friends praying for me, and I know their prayers are helping. Still, I will need LOTS of prayers on Friday afternoon, mostly so that I will have peace in myself and not let this crazy man stir up fear and anxiety in me. I am trusting that the Lord had me where I was supposed to be 6 years ago to protect that child, and that the Lord will fight this battle for me, but still that fear and anxiety try to creep up on everyone PRAY!!!!

Love you all!!!!! Jen

Monday, September 04, 2006

Anthony's First Camping Trip

Labor Day Weekend - Anthony's first camping trip. I suppose camping IS supposed to be an adventure, but I could have done without some of the challenges this time around! We left Friday afternoon around 3:30 p.m., and headed up the mountain to Idyllwild. The weather was perfect - about 85 during the day, and high 50's at night. Anthony's temperature, however, was not so perfect. We arrived to our campsite, only to take him out of the car and realize he had spiked a very high fever - how high? Don't really know - didn't pack a thermometer for our camping trip! (Murphy's Law - I think this is probably the FIRST time we've ever left home for overnight that I DIDN'T pack a thermomether and every children's medication in our medicine cabinet!) I had a limited supply of children's Tylenol in the diaper bag, which we immediately gave him, but it did little for his fever. He was extremely needy, and the combination of not feeling well and the totally new experience overwhelmed him. All this meant that either Darrell or I had to hold him pretty much ALL the time, making it difficult to accomplish much or to really enjoy ourselves. The first night was pretty much miserable. Anthony's reticence to eat anything culminated with a clear explanation when he puked all over the inside of the tent while I was trying to change him. Bedtime came and went, but Anthony slept in fitful bits of time, punctuated with bouts of crying unconsolably. We were both worried and frustrated at the same time. He kept Darrell up most of the night, while I got a few hours of interrupted sleep. Saturday wasn't much better, though he was able to keep some food down. We took a drive into town to get more tylenol.

Saturday afternoon, my brother Eric and his wife Chrissy, along with my neice Chaleena and nephew Jake, came up for a picnic with us, which was the highlight of the day. Anthony's fever started to come down by evening, though as you can see from the pictures, he was still not a very happy camper.

By near sundown, the fever finally broke for good, and his mood started to improve. Of course, just about the time he started to feel comfortable and wanted to start walking around, it got dark, so he couldn't really get down and explore. Saturday night was a little better, though he still woke up crying several times.

Sunday morning, we slept in to about 8:30, then got up and I fixed eggs and smoked sausage, along with hot cocoa, for breakfast. Even the fun of that was dampened when a swarm of bees and yellow jackets decided they wanted breakfast too. (We WILL be purchasing a screen tent to enclose the picnic table and cooking area before our next camping trip!) At least Anthony was feeling better and was more adventurous - of course, that made it harder for us to pack things up, because he was constantly headed either for the dangerous hillside or the fire pit!

It wasn't all bad, though - in between bouts of crying and worries about Anthony, we did find some time to enjoy the cool evenings and the awesome scents of the woods and the campfire. I even roasted some marshmallows.

We're hoping to take another go at it sometime in the next month or so. I've certainly learned that emergency stuff - like thermometers and medicine - is NOT the area to try to reduce the amount of stuff I pack!

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