Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Limbering up the typing fingers

Here it is, the day after Labor Day. The Ninja starts school this morning (his bus picked him up at 6:23; school starts at 7:10; I hate it but there is nothing to be done. Toots is still at Children's Hospital; she starts school tomorrow. I have pretty much, though not totally, recovered from my digestive problems. And, this morning, I start a new job!

More later.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I am being treated for diverticulitis. It has not been pleasant. I'll get back to writing regularly when I can.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


We got back from our vacation in New Jersey and Delaware several days ago. We had a quiet but fun time; went to Rehoboth Beach, go-karted at this place, rode the Cape May-Lewes ferry, and ate at Maria's in Manasquan, New Jersey (my family's favorite restaurant since 1979).

Now we're home and getting back to normal. Sort of. I have not been feeling too well the last few days, and I don't have much energy. I'm going to have tests on Monday. So I may not be writing much for a while. Anybody out there who's reading, please don't desert me. I will write when I can. Everybody take care of themselves and their loved ones.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I find it disconcerting....

...that when I'm out in public with Ninja, people pull me aside to comment on how tall and good-looking he is.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ninja works

As part of his community service probation requirement, The Ninja and I worked at our church's Stewardship Supper again this afternoon. (Well, I have to drive him, and I'd feel awful not doing anything.)

He took out the garbage, fetched and carried, opened packets, sliced butter, plated cake. I chopped onions and garlic, sliced jellied cranberry sauce, and washed a lot of very large pots and pans. We had to leave before the meal was served, as he was due at his mixed martial arts class. Still, it was a good feeling getting food ready for hungry people. I hope he feels the same way.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Method to my madness

So, The Ninja has a chores requirement as part of his probation. One of the projects that's been "on the list" for a long time, but has not been gotten to, is to paint his and Toots' bedrooms. In fact, we've never painted the kids' rooms; the walls have been white (with plenty of posters) for ten years.

The corner where two walls meet, in The Ninja's room, has a crack running down. It appears that the two pieces of drywall have pulled apart. While running errands today, I picked up a container of lightweight spackle and a putty knife for filling the crack.

I told The Ninja that this is something that has to be done before we can even think about painting.

He's on it right now.

By the way, tomorrow will mark the halfway point of his probation. Our attorney told us that, in his experience, a two-month probation period was unusually short. I'm OK with it.

Changing subjects, did I mention that Toots was elected head of the student council at Children's Hospital School? Yes, we all know that student councils have no real power, and the student council in a psychiatric hospital will have even less. Still, it was pretty cool to hear that.

Toots has so many fine personal qualities - leadership, empathy, stick-to-it-iveness, creativity - when she's feeling well. Back when she was graduating from the special ed elementary school, she won the top award for character and helpfulness.

If only. If only. If only she wasn't mentally ill.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A happy picture

Did I mention that, back in June (before the episode of Toots and the pills) we attended a wedding of family friends?

We obtained permission to take Toots, as she had been doing fairly well just previously and had never been to a wedding.

The kids both like to dance. But we've never seen them dance together. Didn't expect to ever see such a thing.


It's moments like this.....

Cherry pudding

We ate this on Saturday night.

Adapted from my 1943 copy of Mrs. Simon Kander's Settlement Cook Book.

1 quart hot milk
Pinch salt
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 quart fresh cherries, pitted

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.

Mix the crumbs in a large bowl and add the salt. Heat the milk until bubbling around the edges. Pour the milk over the crumbs. Stir in the butter until it melts. Pour a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs and stir. Stir the egg mixture into the crumb mixture. Add the sugar and mix. Fold in the cherries.

Pour mixture into a greased casserole. Place the casserole in a larger pan with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. Bake until firm in the center.

I have to say that, since I was running around cooking multiple items, I didn't check the total baking time for the pudding. Set your timer for 45 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick. If it's not firmed up, keep baking in five minute intervals until done.

I served it warm, but we are also enjoying finishing it cold. You could put ice cream or whipped cream on top.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tonight's menu

I don't think I would do well as a professional cook. I wouldn't want to make food every day all day. But I do enjoy cooking a big meal once in a while. Tonight we are hosting the monthly meeting of Write Club.

Spinach dip, veggies and chips
Beer can chicken
Vegetarian enchiladas with fresh veggies from the farmers' market this morning
Tomatoes and peppers
Cherry pudding (a recipe from the old Settlement Cook Book)
Sliced fresh peaches
Various adult beverages

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


We are having company on Saturday, and I want to try making Beer Can Chicken on the grill. I have what sounds like an easy recipe, with a lot of five and four star ratings from people who have tried it. My concern is, how possible is it to get the chicken to stand up nicely on the beer can, when placed on the grill? Is it likely to fall over? Anybody have any recommendations/cautions to share?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Down and dirty (in a good way)

Part of The Ninja's probation requirements is ten hours of chores per week. Yes, we do have to keep after him, but mostly he's been pretty good about it.

We recently had our driveway redone. All around the edging bricks, where the grass was torn up, there was bare sand, rocks and concrete. For today's project, Ninja and I took compost from the backyard composter, mixed it in with the sandy dirt, put down fresh grass seed, and watered. Well, I did some, and The Ninja did the bulk of the hard work. We are not as used to garden work in hot weather as some people (such as this lady, whom I admire tremendously for many reasons), but it got done. Just called Dad and he was very impressed.

Tonight is the weekly free concert at the town gazebo. The Ninja gets to hang out with his friends, while young and old listen to live music. Tonight, it's a Billy Joel Beatles tribute band.

As far as everyone in The Ninja's world knowing about the shoplifting. He told me yesterday that a few people have come up to him, asking "Did you really go to jail?"

Darn that big-mouthed Partner in Crime.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Did I mention?

Apparently, just about every kid in The Ninja's world knows what happened at the mall last month. Friend aka Partner in Crime couldn't keep his mouth shut.

I just hope it doesn't make the girls look at him as some kind of romantic outlaw.

Looking for answers

I need all the help I can get.

Earlier this week, I ordered this book in the hope that it will help me get a handle on what The Ninja and Toots are going through. It arrived today. I haven't really started in on it, but just a casual flip-through has yielded case studies of kids who sound awfully like The Ninja, in expressing their feelings of alienation and distance from their adoptive parents.

I'm looking forward to devouring this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Community Service

Part of The Ninja's probation requirement is 20 hours of community service. He had hoped to work with animals, but after many phone calls we found that all the organizations within driving distance either have more volunteers than they need, or don't accept volunteers under 16.

So he and I spent 3 1/2 hours this afternoon working at our church's Stewardship Supper. He fetched and carried boxes, sliced cake, and served pasta. I bagged up donated bagels and bread and washed dishes.

I explained to him on the way home that many people from other parts of the country think of Long Island as a wealthy playground, based on "The Great Gatsby" and the Hamptons. Well, parts are wealthy, but other parts definitely aren't.

I heard him talking to L. tonight about the people we met and the work we did. I think he learned something. We'll go back next week.

What's Up with The Ninja

The Ninja is doing pretty well this week. He is getting his required hours of chores done; he starts doing community service (working at our church's Stewardship Supper) this afternoon; he's doing what he's told (except for arguing about putting on sunscreen.) The probation officer is pleased.

Our town presents free concerts at the Gazebo on Tuesday nights during the summer. L. and I went and enjoyed the music. Ninja paid attention to his dress and grooming (new t-shirt, clean jeans, COLOGNE) and hung out with his peers, at quite some distance from us. He is trolling for girls' phone numbers, apparently. Don't know any more than that yet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Sorry for the delay. Busy week.

So, we are up to last Wednesday evening. We all had a good time. Apparently.

Our guests left, and I did a little cleaning up. I was so tired, I lay down for a short nap. Now I get a little fuzzy on the timeframe here.

Around seven, L. woke me up and said he was taking Toots back to Children's Hospital. She was anxious to go.

A short time later (7:30?) he woke me up again and said that Toots had just told him she went into his bathroom and took 22 Wellbutrin. (Remember what I said in the previous post, and don't be judgmental that we left meds in the medicine cabinet.)

Quiet panic ensues.

Toots is sitting in the front seat of L's car, not too responsive but awake, with clammy skin. I sit with her while L. calls Children's Hospital, and is told to take her immediately to Big Hospital ER. We determine that, since he has to work in the morning, I'll be the one to stay at the ER with her overnight. He and Toots take off for Big Hospital. I throw a few things in my tote bag,make sure The Ninja is all right (good thing he's old enough to stay by himself), and head out to Big Hospital.

When I get into the ER, Toots has had blood drawn and been given activated charcoal to absorb the medication. She has already thrown up and defecated all over the room, and the smell is something else. The staff are cleaning up her and the room. After they finish, L. leaves and I take over. Because it's a suicide attempt, Toots is also on one-to-one staffing. The aide and I sit with her, and she throws up three more times and uses the bedpan twice, with accidents. I'm glad it's not my job to clean things up here. They are also repeating EKGs periodically, as her first EKG showed QT prolongation (an abnormal heart rhythm).

Toots isn't talkative, but she does say a few things over the course of the evening. She tells me and L. that she took the pills because, during the water fight, her brother aimed the hose at her private parts and it made her recollect being raped at the age of four. She also tells me later that she didn't take Wellbutrin, she took some round tan pills, that were in a white bottle with a white cap with a white and blue label. When I convey this to L., he looks in his medicine cabinet and finds two supplements that meet that description. The next day, when he comes back to the hospital,he brings the supplement bottles, and she says they're not the right ones. Later, we find another bottle, his blood pressure medication, that meets her description but the pills are reddish-tan and long caplets rather than round. She says those aren't it either. So, we still don't know and probably will never know what she took.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Around one a.m., they take her up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. From there, it's a bit of a blur. The nurses get her into bed, re-hook up the hydrating IV and the monitors, caution me that she's to have nothing by mouth. We spend the rest of the night with the one-to-one aide, watching TV, having EKGs done periodically, having her vitals taken, etc. Toots doesn't vomit anymore, hallelujah, but she does have more bedpan accidents. Toots finally gets a few hours of sleep. I lie down on the pull-out chair, but don't fall asleep.

Around 6 a.m, I go down to the Starbucks in the lobby for a large coffee. At some point, I meet with the attending doctor and the residents, who all look about Toots' age, and tell them about her extensive psychiatric history, self-harming, current inpatient status at Children's Hospital, etc. etc. They are sympathetic. I am told that, because of the circumstances, we are going to have a psychiatric consult and a social work consult. Not that they're really necessary, since she is an inpatient receiving psychiatric and therapeutic care.

L. goes into work, but around noon he takes the rest of the day off, and comes back to the hospital. I go home exhausted and sleep for hours. L. stays, and meets with a child psychiatrist and social worker. We had kept in contact with the nursing supervisors at Children's Hospital, and the Big Hospital staff talk to them also. The doctors decide that they will keep her for observation until the evening, and arrange ambulance transportation for her back to Children's Hospital (needs to be an ambulance, since it's a hospital-to-hospital transfer). And that's what happens, around 7:30 p.m., just about 24 hours after the incident.

Although L. spoke with Toots' psychiatrist at Children's, we didn't hear from Toots for about 48 hours. Turns out she was sleeping most of that time.

Since then, she hasn't wanted to talk much with us about what happened. Can't say I blame her. I know she is discussing things with her therapist.

When I went to visit her on Sunday afternoon, she said, "Mommy, I want to come home." I ventured to remind her that on her last visit home, we'd had a significant problem. She said, "Oh, yeah, right."

I guess we are never going to be able to think that she's really doing "better."

After I typed that line, The Ninja came into the room and said that he was going over to his friend's house in the next block. I told him to put on sunscreen before he left. I got all kinds of BS about how he was only going to be outside for two minutes. When I told him to just do it, I got more flak about how I didn't tell him to put on sunscreen on July 4th. I said I wasn't perfect and not always perfectly consistent in my behavior. I got more flak.

I wasn't like this as an adolescent. I'm sure I wasn't. I'm so tired of it. And he's only fourteen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What a week!

What a time we have been through this week.

To set the scene, you have to understand that nowadays we have Toots coming home on passes from Children's Hospital, roughly every other weekend. Some are day passes, a few are overnight passes. Obviously, she has to be having a good week, behaviorwise, for her treatment team to grant her the pass.

In addition, you need to know that seven years ago, we had an incident in which she took a number of pills, unauthorized, when she was home. It was never clear what or how many she had taken, because she changed her story several times as to what bottle she took them from, and how many she threw in the bushes rather than ingested. The episode ended safely. Since then, during periods when she's been home, we have mostly locked up the household medications. We had a super-sturdy door installed on our bedroom, plus a strong lock.

Over the last year, with the okays of professionals, we have eased on locking things up. She has learned a great deal about her meds, why she takes them, what they do, etc. and has been pretty sensible about taking them. There haven't been any other problems with her taking unauthorized meds.

Which brings us to last Wednesday.

Since it was a holiday, and we had friends coming over for a BBQ, we had Toots home in the middle of the week. L. picked her up on Tuesday evening; she had a good night at home, and was very helpful during the day on Wednesday. She helped cook, set up and serve. She ran around screeching with her brother and a friend, as they all soaked each other with the garden hose. She seemed to be having a good time.

To be continued......

Sunday, July 1, 2012

No flees on The Ninja

He wrote this in second grade, two days before Thanksgiving. It still cracks us right up.

P.S. "roke" is "rock".


When I posted on Friday, I forgot something very important. The Ninja reminded me later, and after L. got home we went out for Chinese food to celebrate.

On July 29, 2002, Toots and The Ninja moved in! Bag, baggage, toy fire engine, and lots and lots of clothing!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Has it been a week?

It turned out that we met with a probation officer, not a judge, on Tuesday. I started to write about the meeting on Wednesday, but got sidetracked and can't find where I saved it as a draft. The Ninja will be on probation for two months (our attorney said that was the shortest probation he'd ever seen). He has a curfew, community service and home chore requirements, an essay to write, his partner in crime to have no contact with, two apology letters to us and the store (which he's done). The officer and the attorney told him that this was his one chance and not to blow it. If he messes up again, he WILL go to jail, or the teen equivalent thereof (a residential facility near here). So far, so good.

I just picked up the idea of "Friday Fives" from here. Since I don't have other ideas at the moment, I think I will include five offbeat things about myself (at least I think they're offbeat).

1. The first stage show I ever saw was a community production of "Guys and Dolls". How old was I? Eight, nine? My great-uncle Charlie played Nicely-Nicely Johnson. By coincidence, when I met my husband many many years later, it turned out he had played Nicely-Nicely, in a grade school production, and brought down the house with his powerful rendition of "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat." Wish I could have been there to see it.

2. I don't like cell phones. I carry one because my husband says I have to. It's an old model not being made any more. All I need is to make and receive calls. No smartphone nonsense for me. Sorry, true believers.

3. I started reading at the age of three. All by myself. I'd been read to almost every night of my life, and one day I picked up a newly-arrived copy of "Highlights" magazine. I started reading a story about a little boy, his mother and baby sister traveling on a train. The baby needed her bottle warmed, and the conductor took and warmed it by holding it next to the hot engine. (This was long, long before the Age of Microwaves.) My mom freaked out. She knew I hadn't memorized this story because the magazine had just come in the mail.

4. I am a very anxious person. I have been a cuticle picker and hair puller for as long as I can remember.

5. When we first met Toots and The Ninja, it seemed almost miraculous that Ninja's first name was a family name on my mother's side. Spelled the correct way, also.

I know, pointless random thoughts. But with all the things that have been happening lately with the kids, I get tired of thinking about the bad stuff.

Friday, June 22, 2012

By the way

We have started The Ninja back seeing the therapist he worked with last year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


How did we get from THIS

to THIS?


I heard The Ninja on the phone with Friend (aka partner in crime) from last week. You'll remember that our families made different choices. The friend is undergoing restrictions, but apparently nowhere near as severe as the ones we have imposed.

After his call ended, Ninja complained that Friend stole more stuff than he did, but had a lesser punishment. I reminded Ninja that, before the shopping spree, he had already ripped us off for a substantial amount of money buying songs on iTunes. He turned away to go back to his room, and all I heard was "Unfair".


Last Tuesday, The Ninja and a friend decided to go shopping at the mall.

Without any money.

The two 14-year-old knuckleheads sauntered around, throwing two pairs of sneakers and earbud headphones in a backpack.

Until Ninja got caught sticking a wallet in his pocket in Big Well-Known Department Store.

I got a call from Ninja about 3 pm. "Mom......." Then a staff security member came on and explained what had happened. I charged down to the mall.

By the time the friend's mother and I got there, Friend was sobbing. Ninja was sitting nonchalantly, looking unconcerned. Friend was upset and promising he'd never do it again. Ninja said he'd just go out and do it again.

Big Well-Known Department Store was willing to release the boys to our custody, without law enforcement involvement. Friend's mother took him home, promising that family friends who are police officers would be giving him a strongly worded talk.

Due to the bravado and the attitude, we decided to lower the boom on the Ninja. Waited for a police officer to arrive. During the wait, Ninja started to seem upset, sitting on a bench with his head in his hands.

Officer arrived. Gave Ninja a talking-to while taking down information and writing an appearance ticket. Put Ninja in handcuffs and took him to the precinct. L. and I followed. More talking-to, from a detective and another office, took place. We signed for him and took him home.

He has a court date on Tuesday. We have engaged an attorney who is a family friend. Attorney says that what will probably happen, due to Ninja's age, is supervised probation, attendance at a StopLift program, and sealing of the records if he stays out of trouble for a period of time.

Earlier in the week, Ninja said to me that he's never going to shoplift again. This morning, he said that he doesn't know whether he will or not. I feel sick to my stomach.

Any advice, encouragement or words of wisdom, anyone?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A bad couple of days

The Ninja made a really bad choice on Tuesday. No one is physically hurt, but the emotional pain is intense. More later when I have the heart to describe it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Did everyone know about this stuff but me?

The Ninja is a boy's boy. He runs. He spars. He plays basketball. He moves. And he sweats, like no one I've ever seen.

He has some t-shirts and socks that just reek unbelievably. I've tried all the natural laundry additives that I could find recommended. Salt. Vinegar. Baking soda. Still reeked.

Recently I heard about OxiClean. Bought a big container of the laundry powder and have been experimenting with it. I have achieved conquest over smelly shirts, completely in most cases and pretty substantially in a few cases. I've been soaking the clothes in hot water with a scoop of OxiClean and my regular laundry detergent for a couple of hours, then putting through a regular wash cycle.

Ninja is happy. I am happy. The ambiance of the entire house is a little happier. Try it on your awful-smelling things.

I'm not getting paid for this plug, but I wouldn't mind.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


...haven't heard from Toots.

I saw a couple after Mass this morning, whom I've known since before we met the kids. At various church meetings, these people heard me agonize over the application process, the pre-adoption meetings, the agita of having them out to Long Island for visits. They were among the first people to meet the kids out here. They were very sorry to hear that Toots is going through an especially bad time, and they promised to pray for her.

People are nice.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quiet for now

Lew talked to Toots on the phone yesterday. She didn't have much to say.

Lew has gone upstate to a friend's house for the weekend. It's just me and The Ninja. I'm not going to call Toots. If she wants to call me, she can.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One other thing

During my conversation with Toots' psychiatrist, she said, "I can't imagine how you ever coped with this at home."

"I don't need to be in the hospital"

I received a phone call from Toots' psychiatrist, Dr. S., at about 11:45 this morning. She filled in more of the story.

Seems Toots says she fell in the shower the other day. The staff didn't hear her fall, but they found her sitting on the floor of the shower stall complaining of back pain. (I let the doctor know that she has sat on the floors of showers for years, just letting the waterfall run over her for many minutes.) She was examined by the hospital pediatrician, who said she would be OK and offered her pain medicine. Toots didn't like that. As I have discussed before, her pattern for the last ten years is, with any pain real or not, to loudly and repeatedly insist on being taken to the nearest ER.

The most striking incidence of this behavior was five years ago, at my dad's wake. Toots claimed she had twisted her ankle running around outside, and was lying on a sofa moaning and groaning and insisting on an ER run. We have two doctors in the family - one a pediatric emergency specialist - and they both examined her and pronounced that she'd be fine with an ice pack and a little rest. Nothing doing for Toots. She kept complaining,louder and louder. Finally, Lew took her out for a ride in the car, which did not satisfy her but calmed her down a little.

Back to current events. Dr. S. observed that Toots seems to express her emotions through complaining about pain. True, doctor, we've been seeing that for a very long time. During the incident last evening, when she punched a staff member in the face, she was restrained manually. One of the people doing the hold had to twist her arm behind her back to get control. Today, she has been complaining about pain in her wrist. Again, she was examined by the pediatrician, who determined that it was not serious. She was offered ice and pain meds, which she refused. The pediatrician and the hospital's Medical Director agree that she does not need to go to the ER now, and on top of that, in her current mental state she is not safe to leave the hospital with staff.

Nevertheless, Toots kept insisting that the staff call me to take her to the ER. Dr. S. told her that she and Toots would call me at home together, during the lunch hour. I told Dr. S. that I absolutely would not take her, especially since they feel she is not safe.

This may be getting a mite confusing. Anyway, Toots and the doctor called me at about 12:30. I got an earful about "I don't need to be here, I need to go to the ER, I'm in a lot of pain, Mom, why don't you ever listen to me instead of to them?" She said that she bit the staffer because he had told her "Shut up." Hey, if that's the worst thing he said to her when she was raging, he has more strength of character than I do.

I tried to keep my voice as calm as possible and told her that it was NEVER okay to hit someone in the face. Since both doctors felt she didn't need to go, I was not taking her. (I didn't remind her, but I have vivid memories of Toots in a rage, attempting to grab the steering wheel, put the car into neutral, and run me off the road. Not gonna go there again.)

Her response was to hang up on me.

Oh, Toots. How can you think that you would be able to function in the outside world on your own?

Bad to worse

I just spoke with Toots' psychiatrist at the hospital. She is continuing to go downhill. I have to go out now, but more later.


During my visit on Sunday, Toots kept insisting that she doesn't need to be in the hospital, she hates it, she knows what she has to do, etc. etc.

Last night at 9:30, we received a phone call from a nurse on her unit. Toots "had a bad day" yesterday, which means she balked at requests, spoke nastily to staff, picked arguments with other girls, refused to do her schoolwork, etc. etc. Her aggression escalated on the unit last evening. She scratched her arm, although she didn't have anything at hand to cut herself with. She also punched a staff member in the face. The nurse told us that the injured staffer has a cut on the lip, and that's all. Thank God. Toots had to be restrained (they use manual holds only) and given "stat" medication (quick-acting sedative). She was put back on one-to-one, with a staff member with her at all times. They had her sleep in the common area of the unit, rather than in her room, for monitoring purposes.

If she does get out into the "real world", how long would it take for her to hit someone and be arrested for assault? Worse, what if she hits a police officer (she's done it before, but no serious consequences because she's a minor and a psych patient)and gets Tasered or shot?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Since the emotional scene on Friday night, we have noticed that The Ninja seems to be calmer and in a better mood overall.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More info

Spoke with Toots's social worker. Toots would have to submit what's called a "72-hour letter" to the hospital administration. Then, two psychiatrists would evaluate her to see if she could be discharged safely. SW told me that she has never seen a 72-hour letter initiated by a kid go through to discharge. The SW also told Toots that, if she left without housing lined up, and we didn't let her move back home, her option would be a homeless shelter.

Homeless shelter? What in the name of glory have we come to? This is becoming a tough love situation for us. But it's just not possible for us to have her back home on a full-time basis. The stress and fear and anger she subjects us to aren't livable. And we're not going to sacrifice The Ninja's life for her. If she refuses to accept the help that's offered to her, well, she refuses.

Toots also has the right to contact the state Mental Hygiene Legal Services for assistance. I used to have some dealings with them. The lawyer who acted locally for MHLS was a very no-nonsense, get-to-the-point person. Very competent, but NOT warm and fuzzy. If she is still in the position, I can just imagine the conversation between her and Toots.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Part of Toots' plan of leaving the hospital and setting herself up is to return to the BOCES special high school where she has already flamed out twice. Would they even give her a third shot?

I emailed The Ninja's guidance counselor this morning. He met with Ninja briefly, and they will have a longer discussion on Wednesday.

What next?

It transpired that the amount of money Ninja appropriated to buy music on iTunes was a great deal more than $150. Enough that we could have used to have a memorable summer vacation, rather than just going to visit relatives. With the help of a therapist, we have instituted a drastic plan to help him relearn that his actions have an effect on his life. Virtually all privileges are gone, as is his allowance. We are not canceling the week of camp, as we would not get all the money back from that, but he is not going to have any money put in an account in the camp store. After June is over, he will have opportunities to start earning back limited privileges.

He has been pretty quiet and sober about it all the last day and a half. He cried on Friday night that he didn't want to be this way, he knows he's doing bad things but can't seem to stop, and our consequences up to now have been just minor irritations.

Meanwhile, Toots' latest idea is that she is going to sign herself out of the hospital. And live how????? Lew told her that we won't let her starve on the street, but she should not expect to be able to move back home. She thinks she will continue in school and get a part-time job in a store, and that will be enough to support herself. I tried to explain to her about the job market and minimum wage. Didn't get anywhere. She has no more clue than a three-year-old.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Keeps piling up

Last night, Toots punched a wall on her unit at Children's Hospital. She does this frequently, and has broken her right wrist several times. Not this time, thankfully. Just got a phone call. Today in school, she was having a verbal altercation with another girl. A male teacher stepped in and tried to break it up. Toots stabbed him in the side with a pencil.

Just broke the skin, fortunately.

I get so I don't even feel much at the announcement of new atrocities. It's just same old, same old with Toots, ten years' worth of it.

She thinks she is going to college when she finishes high school. We can't imagine how she would navigate a campus environment or make it through a class.

Yet more agita

We are having some considerable trouble with The Ninja. Lately, he has been coming up with some creative lies, such as "I was marked absent for that class because the power went out and the teacher couldn't enter the information in the system." Yeah, right.

Yesterday, we discovered that he has been using my husband's Amex card unauthorized, to buy music on iTunes. At least $150 worth. My husband set it up so that Ninja could buy iTunes, but the agreement was that he would reimburse me in cash when he did that. Well, what we have here is partially a parental failure to communicate. When he got the bills, Lew wasn't checking with me to see if I'd gotten the cash. Not that that excuses the Ninja. We're in the process of coming up with a consequence that will make him sit up and take notice. We hope.

Oh, did I mention that he's also failing math and may have to repeat the course?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I have just been seething with undifferentiated anger since Sunday morning. Don't want to go into what set it off. I'm upset about certain things I've never received help with, that I've done all by myself for many years, to the point where I've felt pretty much like a single parent.

I know that falls under the heading of "problems of the middle class". I'm sitting at a computer in my home, writing this. We have a decent house in a decent neighborhood. We have money in the bank and food in the refrigerator. I know I have an easier life than a large percentage of the world. And it's not that I'm not grateful for these blessings. I'm just mad at certain people who have been perfectly happy to let someone else take the lead and do all the work on certain issues.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Toots is a curious combination of teenager and toddler. We estimate her emotional age to be about five or six, with a chronological age of seventeen. Lately, possibly because of her recent med changes, she has been acting closer to her age when she's with us. It's been pleasant.

When Lew brought her home last night for an overnight visit, she had a variety of school papers and artworks to show us. It was rather disconcerting to see a paper "award", complete with Mickey Mouse, bestowed for good behavior in school.

Remember, she's in eleventh grade.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I went to visit my mom down in New Jersey for a few days. We mostly just hung out, went out to eat, did a little shopping. My mom is very happy to see me. We've got other family, of course, but with my dad and my brother gone, I think she feels that in a way I'm all she's got left.

She doesn't think she'll ever get over the loss of my brother. She said that there are mornings when she wakes up, and for a moment doesn't remember that he's dead. Then it all comes crashing back.

Monday, May 21, 2012

This and that

Lew and I visited Toots at the hospital last evening. We were sitting in the canteen, with two other families in the room. One family, the male teen patient and two women, was having a heated discussion. It seemed to involve the boy having or not having taken care of a pet when he was last at home. He was angry and accusatory, and whatever had happened was not his fault. (Cynical me: what else?) The women were upset. Later, before we left, I saw them in the hallway, without the boy, and offered my empathy. We agreed that we all keep doing the best we can. Sometimes it helps to know that others are in the same place.

I'm going to visit my mom in New Jersey tomorrow morning, for a day and a half. She is recently returned from her winter in Florida. A whole thirty hours of being someone other than a mom and a wife! Bliss! Well, maybe that's overstating it, since there are many poignant reminders of my dad and my brother all over the house. But at least I get to step outside my life for a little while.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What a world

A school club to which The Ninja belongs had a bake sale this week. Bake sale! I like baking! I started thinking about making brownies or my famous Snickerdoodles. Imagine my dismay when Ninja said that home baked goodies weren't permitted for bake sales. Everything had to come from store-bought packages.

What are we coming to?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Intriguing offer

I received an offer from a company called eFoods Direct, to try out and review some of their prepackaged meals. I'm definitely interested. Last year, in the aftermath of a storm, our power was out for four days. Fortunately, the weather was warm, and we did have a gas grill that worked, so I can't say we suffered. However, it was difficult to put meals together. If that happens again in our area, it would be great to have meals that could be prepared simply by boiling a pot of water on the grill.

I'll let you know how this turns out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Racehorse knees

The Ninja started physical therapy for his painful "jumper's knees" again this week. Last night, he was at kickboxing class, doing situps, when he had a "kind of pain he hasn't had before" in his right knee. Different part of the knee, more intense. He couldn't put weight on it this morning. Off we go to the ER, our happy home, again this morning. Tendonitis, no fracture, NSAIDs as needed, keep going to PT, no gym, karate or MMA for a week. Phooey.

I told Ninja about how racehorses with knee problems are often put down, because the chances of recovery are so slim. Promised him we wouldn't shoot him like that. At least, not over his knees.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Yes, my husband did make the Stuffed Baked French Toast. He also made oysters on the grill for me, with Toots' help. It was a nice day. To all the moms out there, I hope you also had a good day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just so you remember

Don't forget that this is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Safety first

I forgot to mention that The Ninja's karate dojo is instituting a rule that everyone must wear a face mask with their helmet when sparring. I know this is in response to Ninja's concussion. Sure that not everyone is going to be fond of this rule.


If someone in your house is preparing brunch on Sunday (preferably someone other than you, if you're the mom), here is a good recipe. My husband may be making it for us here.

Stuffed Baked French Toast

12 slices Italian bread
8 ounce package cream or neufchatel cheese (you probably won't use all of it)
6 eggs or equal amount of egg substitute
1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The night before serving, place 6 slices of Italian bread in a 9" square baking dish. Spread each slice with a good amount of cheese.Place a second slice on each. Mix the other ingredients together and pour over bread. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Enjoy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Walking in the rain and making plans

On Saturday, Toots and I participated in the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) walk at Jones Beach on Long Island. About 20 staff, 3 girls, and 2 parents walked as the Children’s Hospital team. Lots of staff, consumers, and family members from many agencies, lots of enthusiasm, and free lunch at the end. It would have been fun….had it not rained in torrents during a good part of the walk. I had picked up disposable ponchos at the dollar store the day before, but Toots didn’t want to wear one. Well, I took advantage of one, and the others were used also…..the plastic covering helped somewhat, though I still got pretty soaked, and Toots got very soaked. But we finished the entire walk, all 5K. Went all the way to the turnaround spot and walked back. I can’t even recall when I last walked so far.

When it was over, I needed hot coffee and some food that wasn’t a hot dog. Toots and I went to a diner, and had a good talk over our meal. I think her new medication may be helping her focus her thoughts and plan for the future. She actually sounded realistic in her thinking (although I remain skeptical that she will be able to handle a post-secondary program). Toots definitely wants to stay in school and graduate (with Mom cheering inwardly at hearing this!). She doesn’t want to just get a GED, because “you can’t get any kind of a job with that.”

Toots also talked some more about getting an apartment, either by herself or with another person. She asked how much government funding would be available for her. I told her no one could predict that at this point (pending the results of the election). But I am so pleased that she is at least considering her options in a rational way, rather than just fastening on the goal of being a rock star.

Maybe we are seeing some actual progress. Maybe, just maybe, she is maturing.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Does it ever let up?

We have had a rough week with The Ninja. He has been engaging in something new - cutting class. He skipped out of periods 6 and 7, this past Monday and Wednesday. He almost had me believing his story about Monday, that he was in the Counseling Center having additional individual testing. But, mom thought, why was that going on if he already had his triennial review testing done last month? For Wednesday, he tried to convince me that the teachers had accidentally marked him absent. Yeah, right. That's in keeping with the dodge from last year, when he claimed that he had handed in homework assignments that his teachers had forgotten to enter in their books.

So, after some stern talking yesterday, Ninja admitted that he cut these two classes to join his friends in the cafeteria during THEIR lunch periods, and then took his own regular lunch time as well. (Steam coming out of mom's ears.) Little Mr. Social Butterfly. I've always been glad that Ninja is so good at making friends. Until now. Grrr.

So, his consequence is that he loses the use of his XBox for two weeks. Two weeks for two occasions of cutting and lying. He says he doesn't care, but we know he does.

The thing is, you can run but you can't hide, in his school. We get an email and a robo-call informing us of his absence from classes. How knuckleheaded can you get?

This had better stop happening. He says it will. Stay tuned.

On the other hand, he and we could have many worse problems.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good visit

I had a good visit with Toots at Children’s Hospital yesterday afternoon. She showed off her latest artwork and her newly painted nails. We talked about how she’s doing there; things have been going pretty well for a couple of weeks, and she is working on her “Level 2” application. This refers to the hospital’s point system, in which her behaviors and staff recommendations contribute to reaching a higher level with additional privileges. We played Rack-O, a card game that’s an old family favorite. When Toots is feeling well and behaving appropriately, she can be very sweet and fun to be around.

It’s sometimes difficult to remember why she is hospitalized. Then, all I have to do is look at the scars up and down her left forearm. You see, she’s right-handed, so she cuts on her left arm, and when she’s mad she’ll punch a wall or door with her right. She’s broken her hand and wrist several times. I hope the good time lasts for a while, this round.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Was on the phone yesterday afternoon with Toots’ social worker at Children’s Hospital. Bless her, she is young, earnest and optimistic. She kept talking about how Toots is “making progress with understanding her emotions” in their counseling sessions. Honey, I appreciate what you’re saying, and what you’re trying to do with Toots. But she’s been working on “understanding her emotions” and “developing coping strategies” for ten years. Bottom line? She has “better” times and “worser” times. But overall forward motion? Not really.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Something sank in

We are coming up on the tenth anniversary of the kids’ moving in, on June 29th. There have been great frustrations over the years, of course. It seems as if so much that has been said has gone into one of Toots’ ears and out the other. So many things she seems to never learn from experience. Well, one thing got through. She is very concerned about getting registered to vote in the general election in November. Something of all the political discussions and diatribes (largely from Lew) has stuck with her. No matter where she is, she wants to cast a vote. Yee-hah!

I just looked up and printed out the voter registration form. As Toots will be 18 before Election Day, she can fill it out and send it in immediately. Wow. She was actually listening, some of the time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's in a name?

I had The Ninja’s annual review meeting yesterday. It went OK – nothing I didn’t expect to hear. His teachers talked about how he started off the year with a good attitude, then changed around December. He became less cooperative, motivated and organized. Now, in April, he is getting his act back together. He and I talked about this on the way home. He doesn’t have an explanation for it. I have wondered in previous years, and I wonder again, if this could have anything to do with the abuse he underwent when he was 15 months old.

He and Toots (age 4) were being left at the home of a relative/friend of their birth mom’s (we’ve never been sure, but Toots refers to her as “auntie”). Unbeknownst to the adults, both Toots and Ninja were being abused by one of the older children. This was discovered when Toots was badly injured by being placed in a tub and having scalding water turned on her. They were taken out of this situation in February 1999, and went into foster care. Based on the little we know, it’s not impossible that the abuse started the previous December. Coincidence? Who knows? Could he be acting out a reaction to events that took place 13 years ago?

Anyway. During the meeting, we got to talking about how everyone in our family has a different last name. When we finalized the kids’ adoptions, they agreed to their last names becoming “Original Last Name – Dad’s Last Name.” (I use my “maiden” name.) Six years down the line, both of them are tired of having a hyphenated name, and would like to change back to using only “Original Last Name.” It seems to mean a lot to both of them. I don’t have a problem with this. I did a little research, and it appears that for the effort of filling out a few forms and paying $210 per person, we could change their names back. Now, $420 is a good little chunk of change that we could put toward other things. I have mixed feelings.

Anybody have an opinion on this?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Read a book this week

Over the weekend, I picked up and skimmed through one of my favorite novels, Mary McCarthy’s “Birds of America”. The book is set in 1964, and tells the story of Peter Levi, an idealistic young man of nineteen. Peter spends the summer with his
charming-but-considered-eccentric mother, in a New England town where the times are definitely a-changin’. He then heads to Paris, to spend his junior year of college studying at the Sorbonne, and finds that even more changes are taking place in the world.

I heart this book. Peter is a droll but lovable character; when I was younger I wished he really existed so that I could go out with him. His mom is delightful and highly principled. The supporting characters are a fun bunch.

Read it. You’ll like it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quiet time and reflections

I had two blessedly quiet days this weekend. Lew and The Ninja took off yesterday morning on a “boys’ day out”; Lew wanted to visit his childhood haunts in NJ and show them to The Ninja. They wound up connecting with some friends who live north of the childhood haunts, and spent the night. They got back a little while ago, pooped out. Ninja is playing his beloved video games and Lew is taking a nap.

I got to relax and recharge. I did some writing and reading, crocheted, spray-painted an old picture frame that I’m turning into a bulletin board, made soup, baked banana bread, and drank wine. Never turned the TV on at all. It was glorious. It is nice to have them back home, though – I was starting to miss them.

Visited Toots on Friday afternoon. It was a pretty congenial visit. She has lost eleven pounds since she’s been at Children’s Hospital. It’s a good start, but it is really a drop in the bucket when you consider how much she needs to lose to get anywhere near a halfway normal, healthy weight. But baby steps, baby steps.

She has been having a good couple of weeks, working on controlling her reactions when she can’t do or have something. “Controlling emotions” is going to be one of her formal goals, going forward. She has been working on that since she was eight. She’s 17. Will she ever get there?

Toots goes through phases. For a few weeks or a month, she will be unreasonable, argumentative, demanding, manipulative, self-injurious, sometimes violent, and we sympathize deeply with the staff at wherever she is. Then, she will go into a “good” period, where she is helpful, friendly, cooperative, and reasonably well controlled. That is why she keeps bouncing from placement to placement. But the good times never last. Is this going to be the pattern, forever? I fear that it is.

Next month, we are going to start the process of applying for guardianship. We may or may not get it. Probably may not, since she will most likely be considered “competent”. What a joke. If we don’t, after she is 18 she can sign herself out of whatever placement she’s in, and go – where? At times, she says she wants to come home. At other times, she wants to go to “independent living”. She doesn’t want to go to the State Adult Hospital, but I think she will probably wind up there at some point.

We are going to do our best to make sure she is in a safe and good living arrangement. If she winds up on the street eating out of Dumpsters, it will be her choice.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What I've come to

I was planning to go visit Toots yesterday afternoon at Children's Hospital. When it came time to go, I just didn't feel like it. So I didn't. Yes, I feel guilty. No, I can't go today due to medical appointments.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Ninja was cleared by the concussion specialist yesterday. He can go back to karate and other sports, as long as he avoids head contact for the rest of the week. He was much relieved.

He is also no longer a bumpy-faced alien. The recommendations of Zyrtec and Benedryl have helped. The pollen count in our area is supposed to be through the roof. I found my eyes getting itchy and burny last night, took a Zyrtec, and enjoyed almost immediate relief.

We had Toots for a day pass on Sunday. Went to Mass, cooked, opened (small) presents from the Easter bunny. She was well-behaved in church, insisted on having Chinese food for lunch (this was before dinner – we caved in order to keep the peace), whined and complained only in small amounts. No meltdowns, and she went back to Children’s Hospital without a scene.

Although we are starting to plan with her social worker for residential placement after she turns 18, it is a frightening thought. Every non-hospital placement she’s been in, even when she said she approved and wanted to go, has turned out to be a disaster. She decides she doesn’t want to be there, and proceeds to behave in a way that makes it impossible for her to stay and be safe.

She’ll be 18 in September. What do the next six months hold?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Bumpy-Faced Alien

I picked The Ninja up from school yesterday afternoon. My handsome boy’s face was covered with hives – red and blotchy – he looked like Mystique from the X-Men, only not blue. I gave him another Benadryl and called the doctor’s office when we got home. The office was able to fit us in right away, and we went over to see the nurse practitioner who works with his doctor.

She felt that it’s definitely an environmental allergic reaction. This makes sense, since several years ago tests indicated environmental allergies – even though he’s never had anything like this before. She recommended that I give Ninja Zyrtec once daily, and continue with Benadryl as needed. He is also to take Nasonex nasal spray. She mentioned Singulair, which he took for asthma some years ago. We’re not going to do that, though, as Singulair gave him terrible nightmares from which he would wake up screaming.

He had hives on his legs this morning; at least they were no longer covering his face. They were itchy, but bearable. This morning’s paper ran an article on this spring’s allergy season, commenting on how the warm winter is contributing to early and heavy pollen in the air. Great. The article recommended keeping the windows closed (Lew won’t like this, but we’ll do it), plus showering and changing clothes after coming in from outside.

Things should be OK eventually, as long as his throat doesn’t close up or start to itch. I told him again to go to the nursing office if that happens.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Talked to Ninja's doctor

She said it sounded like urticaria (which appears to be the proper name for hives). I can continue to give Ninja one or two more doses of Benadryl, but if the bumps keep popping back out she wants to see him. May have to give him steroids. If he begins to have trouble breathing, or has itching in his mouth or under his tongue, to the ER we go, stat.

I haven’t gotten a call from or about Ninja from school. Good sign. He is staying after for a club meeting, so I’ll pick him up about 3 pm.

Weird little bumps

The Ninja woke up with more hives. I gave him one Benadryl and sent him off to school, but I'm calling his doctor's office as soon as it opens.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What next?

Last night, Ninja came to me shortly before bedtime and showed me strange itchy bumps on his arm and the back of one knee. I sprayed an anti-itch spray on them and put him to bed.

This morning, he woke up COVERED in bumps, on his face, chest, back, arms and legs. They were raised welts, not red. We were getting ready to go to Palm Sunday Mass, but I quickly changed direction. He’s had all his vaccinations. I frantically searched on the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites, looked at pictures, and decided the bumps were hives. An antihistamine was recommended. I ran out to our regular drugstore, but they were out of Benadryl. I drove to the next closest drugstore, and bought Benadryl and soothing oatmeal bath powder. Got home, gave him two Benadryl, and the welts and the itching began to recede. He rested drowsily most of the afternoon. An hour ago, the welts began to come back. More Benadryl. The welts are receding more slowly this time, and he is in the shower. Any other suggestions?

For a healthy kid, he comes down with a lot of stuff.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Update on both kids

The Ninja was examined by a concussion specialist this morning. He does indeed have a mild concussion, but no major neurological damage (thank goodness). The doctor wants him to continue to refrain from physical activity, at least until Easter Monday, when we return for a re-exam. She also brought his world crashing down around him when she recommended no tv or video games or computer usage or music through earbuds, as these all provide stimulation that she feels is excessive for the healing brain. This should prove interesting.

Toots continues to have a good week. We have an on-grounds pass scheduled with her for tomorrow. That means, if the weather is nice, we can take her to the picnic area or gazebo on the property. We’ll probably bring a reasonably healthy lunch. If the weather prevents us from sitting outside, we’ll just have to stay in one of the visiting areas inside the building. If she has another good week, she might have a day pass for Easter.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Both kids seem to be feeling better

The Ninja went to school this morning, and made it through the day. He stayed late to make up work. We have an appointment tomorrow morning at the concussion specialty clinic in the area. He says his head is OK right now.

Spoke to Toots’ therapist earlier. Toots has had a good week, going to school every day, working on her art projects, being cooperative and helpful. Helpful Toots is terrific. Hope it keeps up.

Aspects of having a son

(This is actually from Monday, March 26th. I was able to re-edit and put in the paragraph breaks, but now it's showing with a March 29th date.)

Just got home from the Emergency Room with The Ninja. Don't be alarmed, he should be fine.

During his sparring event at the tournament yesterday, he was hit in the left eye by his opponent. It was accidental; Ninja has been up against this boy before and he is a fair fighter. The official stopped the match and let Ninja clear his head for a few minutes before continuing. Ninja's own sensei was there, and would not have allowed him to keep fighting if it was contraindicated. Ninja went on to take first place in the event, 14-15 y.o. black belt boys' sparring. About 10 minutes later, he began complaining of a headache. Since the tournament was ending, we left to head home.

He continued to have a headache last evening, and I gave him Tylenol. This morning, he complained that his headache was worse, and his eyes were very sensitive to light. I Googled "Teenage head injuries" and from what I found on the Centers for Disease Control website, we decided to get him looked at this morning. So off he and I went to Big University Hospital. His visual acuity and tracking were OK. No eye floaters. No nausea or vomiting. No neck or back pain. No problems with his facial bones. No numbness. The light sensitivity was better than it had been. So, they said it might be the beginning of a concussion, and sent us home with instructions for rest, no sports for two days, follow up with pediatrician, take Motrin or Tylenol, come back if he gets worse. OK.

So, just another episode with an active karate kid who gets bumps and bruises, and takes punches and kicks. Perhaps we are over-protective, as The Ninja accuses us of being, but he is very precious. I don’t know how we would survive if anything happened to him. As I can’t imagine how Trayvon Martin’s parents are surviving. I know there are details yet to be explored in that case. But the fact remains; the kid who is dead was a black teenage male walking home from a convenience store, in a hoodie, with candy, a drink, and a phone in his hand, in a predominantly white neighborhood.

Just like The Ninja.

This is the extreme aspect of transracial parenting. The knowledge that our brown-skinned son, who is tall and looks older than his age, is a good citizen, a black belt, and member of the Police Explorers, could be a target for some loon who thinks he “looks suspicious” walking down the street. It strikes terror. Ever since we brought him home at the age of four, I’ve been very conscious that he is a dark-complexioned male in a white town. His school district is 97% white. It has never been an issue, as he has lots of friends, of all races. He has been called “n----r” at school, but he says it’s in jest, it doesn’t bother him, and we shouldn’t contact the school administration about it. We haven’t yet.

We have, however, been having “the talks” with him since he was little. If you’re ever stopped by police, always be respectful and don’t talk back. Keep your hands in sight. Do just what they tell you, and don’t make any sudden moves. One of the reasons I’m happy that he’s joined Police Explorers is that, as his involvement deepens, more of our local precinct officers may get to recognize and know him. And, he’s a martial artist of eight years’ standing. He knows the code of honor, that he is not to start any trouble. He has been told repeatedly by his senseis that he can defend himself if necessary. But what defense would fast hands and feet be against a trigger-happy law enforcement wannabe?

One more thing to worry about.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Oh man, The Ninja has a concussion! He went to school yesterday, continuing to complain of a headache (#5 on the 1-to-10 scale they use at the hospital) and light sensitivity. He made it through the day, but came home and went immediately to bed for the night.

This morning, he couldn't bear any degree of light, and the headache was no better. I kept him home. We had the follow-up appointment this afternoon with his primary doctor. She diagnosed him with a mild concussion, but didn't see any other neurological or visual damage. He has to stay out of gym class, sports and karate for two weeks, and she wants him to be seen by a concussion specialty group at another area hospital.

Hanshi, the head of the karate dojo, is pretty upset. She said she can't remember anyone else getting a concussion while sparring. Ninja used to wear a helmet and face mask when sparring, but none of the older boys want to wear the face mask, and lately we've been letting him wear the helmet without the mask. I think we are going to go back to the mask, whether he likes it or not. It's always something.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Feeling down

Toots had an especially bad week at Big Hospital. Among other things, she injured another staff person. I will write a long post about what has been going on, when I have the energy. The Ninja has a karate tournament tomorrow, so at least that will be a diversion.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Not quite an update

It has been an up-and-down week with Toots. She was having a rough time at Big Children's Hospital, but things have been better for the last few days. More later. In the meantime, for your enjoyment: The Ninja is not big on eating vegetables. He will eat salad, but for a while that's been about it. Last night at dinner, he uncharacteristically put on his plate and ate sauteed broccoli rabe. Me, astounded and goggle-eyed: "What other green things do you like, honey?" The Ninja: "MONEY!" By the way, does anyone know why Blogger is refusing to put in my paragraph breaks?

Friday, March 9, 2012

More things to consider

One of yesterday's projects involved taking Toots' big plush robe, and sewing a strip of velcro down the front, to keep it closed. The robe has a separate tie, which she can't have at Big State Hospital. Or any hospital. You know why. She had another robe, same style but white with polka dots, that I am SURE she had at the residence. I asked her, "Toots, what happened to the white robe?" "Uhhhhh....I gave it to someone. I think." "Toots, that was your nice robe that I'd fixed up with velcro! Please don't give clothes away without asking!" "Uhhhh...no, I think someone stole it. That's right, J. stole it." Another day, another....whatever.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Toots was transferred yesterday to Big State Children's Hospital. She seemed OK. First thing, she saw kids and staff she knew. I had many meetings with social workers and doctors. One doctor mentioned the possibility, if she is not able to function after she turns 18, of long-term hospitalization at Big State Adult Hospital. Sigh. At least that would be closer to our house.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The things we have to consider

Lew visited with Toots yesterday afternoon. At her request, he brought her a couple of teen/fashion magazines, which she is allowed to have on the unit. The nursing supervisor took the staples out of them, before Toots could touch them. You see, she recently pried a staple out of a magazine and used it to cut herself.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Heyy, she actually called

Toots called us at home yesterday. She didn't have much to say--she rarely does--but she was glad to hear we recovered her stereo, iPod and cell phone from the residence. At least she is willing to talk to us again. It was strange packing up all her stuff into suitcases and bags. I made sure to recover the towels, bedding and curtains that I bought new for her room there. I'll be washing and putting away things for the next couple of days. Toots remains under the impression that she will be ready for Independent Living (a small adult group residence) on her 18th birthday, in seven months.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You gotta see this

Get these guys a contract! They're gonna be stars!

Packing day

At noon we go over to the residence and pack up Toots' stuff to bring it home for storage.

I will try not to lose my composure.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


We haven't spoken to Toots since my shortened visit on Friday. Very unusual for her not to call us. I spoke with the social worker at the hospital yesterday, and SW told me she wasn't interested in talking to us. Maybe we'll call her this evening.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday morning

Baggage's little daughter Stargirl is having surgery today. I know she would appreciate prayers and positive thoughts.

I made an appointment for Wednesday to clear Toots' stuff out of her room at the residence. She really is going back to Big State Children's Hospital. We haven't spoken to her since Friday, when she gave me a hard time during our visit.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Short visit

Toots didn't like the Aveeno skin lotion I brought her last weekend, and she requested baby lotion. She didn't like the smell of the Aveeno. Why did I accede to her request? Because she gets very dry skin in winter, and needs to be using lotion. Now that she's decided against the Aveeno, she'd rather eat nails than use it. So I brought her baby lotion. After that, my visit this afternoon didn't go well. You see, when Lew was on the phone with her the other night, and she was talking about having assaulted a staff person, he said (as we have done before), "Toots, I can't continue this conversation when you're talking about having beaten someone up. Love ya, honey, good night." And hung up. Note that he did not slam the phone down abruptly. Today, Toots started in on how she feels very insulted and disrespected by that action of his. I tried to explain to her that we cannot accept her assaulting staff, and that it is in no way OK. She said that it wasn't her fault (it never is), she got mad when they tried to get into her room, and "I just blacked out and didn't know what I was doing. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped." It was further excused by the fact that she hasn't done anything like that in years. I corrected her memory; it's been just over a year since she assaulted a police officer. She said, "Well, many months." In the discussion somewhere was, "I'm not stupid, I'm not a little kid, don't you think I know better, I apologized." Sorry, Toots, I don't buy that. Up till now, you've gotten a bye because you're a psychiatric patient. In the outside world, if you assault someone, you will be arrested and go to jail. Her reaction, of course? "Well, I won't do that!" Famous last words. How many times has she said "I know how to behave, I'll just do it", and then gone blithely on to do exactly the opposite. Anyway, to make a long story short, I left 25 minutes into an hour-long visiting period.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not much news

No word from Toots or the hospital yesterday. Does that mean she's mad at us, or that she slept all day? At least it probably doesn't mean she engaged in more assaults or cutting. I'm sure we will talk to her today. Ninja is spending the day in the city with the Police Explorers. The group is going into New York to learn about forensics and, apparently, meet the cast of NCIS. I've never seen it, but apparently this is a big deal. He's loving the Explorers - comes home from meetings with a big smile. It's like "Where have they been all my life?" I'm glad he's got a new interest, as he hasn't been motivated to join any clubs or activities at school. When I think about the Ninja and the things he does - the way he makes friends wherever he goes - how much he has absorbed about martial arts, cars, sports, etc. that he didn't get from us - I get sad that Toots is not having the same kind of life. And it doesn't look like she ever will.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The mighty Ninja

I need a little cheering up. What does it say about me that I like to watch my kid fighting? This was the Ninja's fight at the last Fight Club ranking tournament. (He's the one with the red chest protector.) Since there were no other boys his rank and age there that night, this was actually an "exhibition" between him and one of the girls from his school. Boys and girls don't spar together in competition. She's a very good fighter too--mostly wins her division--and that night she won by one point.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bad to worse

Well, she cut herself again today, using the piece of foil off a juice cup. I would have thought that foil was too soft to cut anything, but when Toots is determined, she's determined.

We don't have full information yet, but the unit had to "call a code" on her this evening. She got mad about something (who knows what), barricaded herself in her room, and wouldn't come out. I assume the staff tried to get her to open up, because she got madder and assaulted one of them.  Apparently the person is not badly hurt.

Oh, Toots. Where in the world can you be safely? Is there anywhere?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another step backwards

Toots is back on " close supervision", with a staff member near her at all times. She is upset about being referred to Big Children's Hospital and doesn't want to go there. So, she cut her arm three times (with what? Somehow she gets hold of things with points or edges), and stood outside the nursing station refusing to budge (I'm not sure about the timeline here).

I feel that 99 out of 100 people would not want to be on close supervision, and would act any way they needed to in order to end it. Sometimes it seems as if Toots welcomes it. She's always been all about the attention, and there's no attention more total than this. Just another aspect of Toots that is hard to understand.

Enough about that. Baggage of I'm looking for baggage that goes with mine is feeling especially sad today over a piece of medical news. Go show her some love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A recipe from my long ago

I ate vegetarian for many years. Long story why I stopped. I still don't eat a great deal of meat. We had company for dinner over the weekend, and I made Cashew Chili, a favorite from my 20's. Julie Jordan, the originator of the recipe, owned a restaurant in Ithaca, New York for many years. It was named Cabbagetown Cafe, and I remember meals there with great fondness. I Googled Julie, and she is apparently working for Wegmans, a supermarket chain in upstate New York, as their head of vegetarian cooking. Good for her--I'm sure it gives her a wider audience.

Anyway, here is a link to a version of Cashew Chili, based on her original. I omitted the carrots, bay leaf, and vinegar, used raisins instead of molasses and raw cashews instead of roasted. It was delicious. I'm glad I resurrected it, and I'm going to make it again soon. Maybe I can even persuade Mr. Carnivore Ninja  to try it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Leaves me speechless

Visited Toots today at the hospital. It was a pretty quiet visit because she'd just gotten out of bed (at 3 pm). We were sitting in the unit dining room, and she mentioned that another girl had flipped all the tables and chairs in the room last night. Toots went on to describe how throwing furniture is "fun" because you get to express your feelings and "you get lots of attention from the staff". I said, "Toots, don't forget that, if you get a job, you wouldn't be able to do that if you got upset". She laid into me about how I "always hassle her". "I KNOW I wouldn't be able to throw furniture! Why do you always have to say the same things!" Etc., etc.

Again, nothing I haven't heard a thousand times before.

She's supposed to be in eleventh grade. We should be looking into colleges and shopping for a prom dress. Instead, she's settled into an institutionalized life of sleeping, eating, and watching TV. I fear she will never go back to school at this point. If she doesn't want to, the law says we can't force her.

I know that she is who she is, but it still makes me very sad.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gastroenterology days

Well, Toots had her appointment at pediatric gastroenterology, for her ongoing stomach pain, yesterday. It was largely an exercise in frustration. Two doctors reviewed her history and all the tests that have been done--blood work, colonoscopy, sonograms, CT scans, you name it.

They didn't seem to be sure what else to say. Aside from some minor inflammation, there are no indications of problems. They ordered some more blood tests and a stool test. Something was said about the possibility of inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or colitis.

We return for follow-up in about six weeks. Meanwhile, if her pain persists, we are likely to see more self-injury, suicidal thinking, and furniture throwing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cause and effect

Just got off the phone with the nursing supervisor from Toots' unit. Because of the furniture throwing, her doctor has decided that she can't ride unescorted with me to her gastro appointment tomorrow. She and a staff person will take a Medicaid cab and meet me there. So, once again, she has sabotaged something she wanted (driving with me, so she can ask to go shopping or eat) by her own behavior.

She has done this so many times over the years, it doesn't even surprise us anymore.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What passes for normal

Just got off the phone with Toots. She said that she went to "school" at the hospital today, for the first time since she's been there this round. She didn't do her work in the classroom for some reason; she went back to her room on the unit and did it there. The teacher did not award her the points she was supposed to have earned.

"So", she said matter-of-factly, "I threw furniture."

Monday, February 6, 2012

On a chocolate note

We attended a Super Bowl party at the home of friends last night (Yay Giants!). The Ninja had requested a chocolate cake. I made this devastating Flourless Chocolate Cake which is very unhealthy. People with cholesterol problems should not even be in the same zip code with it. But it is truly amazing. Thank you, Ann Hodgman.

(More on her, later.)

It's always something

I made the appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist on Saturday morning, and informed the hospital immediately. The plan was for me to drive her back and forth to the appointment. I also re-confirmed this with the unit's nursing supervisor, when we were there visiting Toots yesterday afternoon. So there shouldn't have been any problem, yes?


I arrived at the hospital this morning, leaving a good window of extra time to get to the doctor's office. Informed the nurse at the nursing station that I was there to pick up Toots, and all heck broke loose among the staff.

See, due to her self-harm and suicidal statements Toots has been on "close supervision", which means a staff person is only a few feet away from her, 24-7. Since she has been OK for a few days, this morning she was taken off "CS" and moved to the next lower level of supervision. Her psychiatrist had announced, during morning rounds, that because Toots had just come off "CS", she couldn't ride with me alone in my car. The morning staff had not been informed about the appointment. Many phone calls were made among various offices, trying to find a staff member who could drive her. (I would have met their vehicle there.) I didn't see her, but back inside the unit Toots was apparently having conniptions at the idea of a staff person driving her. (I strongly suspect that she was intending to ask/tell me to take her out to lunch. Because of the timing of the appt., I would have done so anyway. But I digress.)

In the midst of all this, Dr. decided that Toots could only travel in an ambulette. I was informed that an ambulette would be pulling up momentarily. Then, it wasn't going to happen. I was asked to call the doctor's office and try to reschedule the appointment for later in the day. Knowing how this office runs the schedule, I didn't think it was likely, and I was correct. I was fortunate to be able to reschedule for Thursday. If she has an OK couple of days, they will let her ride there with me unescorted.

So is anybody thinking, "Is that really a good idea?" It probably wouldn't have been a problem today, and there probably won't be trouble on Thursday. True, in past years, Toots and I have had some scary car episodes. Like when she tried to seize the steering wheel and run me off the road....and when she fought me and gave me a bite scar that's still visible on my arm....

But, going to a medical appointment she has been clamoring for, and with the prospect of food afterward, most likely she would have been fine.

Still, you never know. And, this is not the kind of hospital policy we tend to question (although there certainly have been others over the years). And, I'm used to things not going as planned around Toots. Very used.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stomach pains

Toots has continued to complain about her stomach hurting, and her psychiatrist has given her Percocet for the pain. This doctor asked me to schedule an appointment for her with one of the pediatric gastroenterologists at Big University Hospital, where she gets most of her medical care. I was able to get an appointment for tomorrow. We'll see what transpires.

Toots has had chronic constipation for almost ten years. We have run countless times to the emergency room, and almost always there has been nothing else wrong but constipation. The doctor is speculating that she might have ovarian cysts.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another detail

Regarding the overdose threats. Toots told her intention to a staff member on the unit, on Wednesday afternoon. That evening, when she was given her bedtime meds, the administering nurse saw that she did not swallow her Seroquel, but hid it in her pants. The nurse asked her to take it out, and Toots went ballistic, screaming "Why doesn't anybody trust me? I took it!" and threatening to punch the nurse in the face if she touched her. Toots went into her room, and another girl followed her and said, "I know you have it." Toots gave the Seroquel to the girl, who took it to the nurse.

She has a history of "cheeking" her meds, and she's very crafty. She tells us that she "doesn't want to be in the world anymore".

Downward spiral

Toots is still in the community psych hospital, and is being referred to the children's state hospital, for her self-harming, suicidal statements, and threats to save up her meds and then overdose, over the last few days. If she goes, it will be her third or fourth time there. I have lost track over the past nine years.

Toots has also been talking again about how she wants to be "un-adopted" and go back into foster care so that she can live with another family. Hospital Social Worker tried to explain to Toots that no foster family would take her, at her current level of self-harm. Didn't think it really got through. She was reluctant to tell me this. I told Social Worker that it hurt, but it was nothing we hadn't heard before. And that we are not dissolving the adoption, no matter what.

If Toots goes to the state hospital, the residence has to "close her bed". That means we will have to go and clean out her room. That will be fun. Not.

Residential Social Worker said that she could apply to come back. When would that be?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Ninja's demo team

The name is Blue Thunder. They didn't win their competition, but they still rock.

Still in hospital

Toots is still in the hospital. Social Worker went to visit her yesterday afternoon, but I haven't heard from her yet.

One of Toots' complaints about school, during her two days back, was that the boys in her class were teasing her. She's in an 8:1:1 class, with only two boys in the group. Social Worker spoke to the assistant principal, who said that the boys in the class were not the teasing kind, and he would be very surprised to hear that they were doing that. We have no reason to doubt him, as we have found the school staff to be truthful and helpful. What is the real story? Were kids teasing her in the lunchroom or hallways? With Toots, it's so hard to know what the truth is.

Toots was also complaining that she wanted to go to Tech, the vocational high school where she was scheduled to go part-time starting last fall. (She didn't go because she was hospitalized.) Assistant Principal reminded Social Worker that attending Tech requires nearly perfect behavior, and she wouldn't be able to take her 1:1 aide. She would need to attend the High School Day Treatment program for some months, and display appropriate behavior, before she could try Tech.

Social Worker was going to talk with Toots about all this yesterday. Toots' reaction may have been, "Then I'm not going back at all." We have about run out of options. If she doesn't go to school, she can't live at the residence. But we can't have her back here, either. Don't know where we will go from there.

Monday, January 30, 2012

News of the day

Toots is still in the hospital. She has been complaining bitterly of stomach pains for several days. She had an abdominal sonogram, which showed nothing of significance. She has been receiving non-prescription pain relief, but as usual she says that does nothing for her. No matter how many doctors she sees, whatever is done for her aches and pains is never enough. It gets so frustrating. Over the weekend, to get more attention for her "plight", she cut her leg with a piece of wood she obtained somehow on the unit. Apparently it wasn't a large cut, but cutting her leg is new - always before, as she is right-handed, she has cut on her left arm and punched walls with her right fist. And, she has a powerful punch, as she studied Karate for a year and a half before she was hospitalized in 2006.

Speaking of punching, the Ninja competed in a martial arts tournament yesterday, and took home first place in 14-15 year-old black belt boys' sparring. If I'm able to get hold of the footage Lew took of his fights, I'll try to post it.

We have a gaudy array of his large and small trophies in our family room. What are we going to do with these when he grows up? Will he take them with him?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Law and Order

The Ninja has always been a person who sees the world in black and white, right and wrong, good against evil. So it's not too surprising that his career goals just now are police officer, Army Ranger, and UFC fighter. He would like to do all three simultaneously.

Last fall, at our town's street festival, we saw several uniformed teenagers assisting the police (who were there just for general order-keeping). I inquired, and found that they were part of Police Explorers, a program for kids 14-21 to explore careers in law enforcement.

So, last night was Ninja's first meeting. I think he was a little nervous, when I shook a leader's hand and left him there, but he wound up having a great time. They role-played domestic violence call scenarios, and discussed gun safety. Right up his alley. At the next meeting, two weeks from now, he will have an interview with the leaders, and then we fill out a detailed application packet. I think he is going to do well. The only part I'm not looking forward to will be keeping him in uniform dress shoes. His feet are size 13 and growing.

Hmmm. The meetings are held at our local precinct. Our address has been in the police computer system for years, flagged as the home of a psychiatric patient with potential for violence. I wonder if any of the officers involved with Explorers will make the connection. At least Toots and The Ninja have different last names.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lurching along from crisis to crisis

Toots attended school on Tuesday and Wednesday. She told us that she spent all day Tuesday drawing (remember, she's in 11th grade), because "they didn't have all the information on me yet." Wednesday, she got off the bus, went into the residence, and told a staff member that she had a good day. Within a few minutes, that had been downgraded to "it was all right, I guess." Within a few more minutes, she was weeping to the social worker that people picked on her and she wasn't going back. SW, of course, attempted to encourage her. Toots wasn't saying what she was picked on about.

Thursday,she made good on her promise. She wouldn't get up and go to school. And, at the size she is now, you CAN'T get her up if she doesn't want to. During the morning, the SW and other staff attempted to talk to her in the living room. According to SW, Toots took the blind cord, fashioned it into a noose, and laid it on top of her head. I wasn't there to see it, but by her speech and behavior she "appeared to be reacting to internal stimuli". Translated, she appeared to be hearing voices again. The decision was made, with our consent, to take her back to the hospital for evaluation. Apparently, before they left the house, she made another noose out of another cord.

By the time I met Toots, the SW and the house nurse at the hospital, Toots was crying and saying she didn't mean it, she was just fooling around, she didn't need to be there, she just wanted to go back to the house. She said she would go to school if she could go to "Tech" (the well-respected vocational high school program, which she was scheduled to attend this past fall.)

Problem is, she has a long history of hurting herself, more or less seriously, when told to do so by the voices. The hallucinations have been under control with lithium for years, but who's to know if that has changed, or what she would do to herself?

Other problem is, maybe she could go to Tech, but it can't be arranged overnight. Also, it would only be for half of the school day. Also, her behavior there would have to be close to perfect, and the last time she was in school, last June, it was nowhere near.

So she spent the weekend in the hospital and is still there today. I visited her yesterday, bringing her shampoo, conditioner, magazines, and body wash. As she so often does, she complained that she was getting frustrated and mad about "other people's drama". Does she fantasize a world in which no one other than her experienced any "drama", or any rights to express emotions, either? Oh, Toots, you're destined for perpetual disappointment if that's what you wish.

So the school issue remains unresolved. We have hoped and prayed that she would at least complete high school, with either a diploma or other credential that's available to her. It looks less and less likely.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Well, the school day is over, and neither I nor the residence received a phone call about a problem. Whooof.

Lew had a clever idea in regards to the cell phone issue. Toots' phone is on our family plan. If there is another disruptive episode regarding the phone, the staff can call him and he will disable it online.

Timely phone call

As soon as I finished writing the previous post, the phone rang. It was the social worker from Toots' house, with information on what happened last evening.

The rule is that girls may have cell phones, but they can only use them when they are out of the house. When home, they may ask to use the house phone to make calls. Toots has been aware of this rule since before she moved in. Last night, she insisted that she wanted her cell phone, marched into the office, sat for 15 minutes (she weighs over 300 pounds, and she can't be shifted if she doesn't want to), grabbed the phone, lay on the floor, and kept saying that, since other girls didn't follow the rules, why should she? A senior staff member was able to talk to her and get her to give it back.

Now, Toots' behavior at the house has been pretty good overall. Lew and I last night, and the social worker this morning, are in agreement that this episode might be due to anxiety over returning to school. I hope it doesn't become a pattern.

By the way, Toots did get up, dress, and got on the bus this morning. And neither the social worker nor I has received a call yet.

When I have more energy I will write about the events of last spring, and why she wound up back in the hospital for nearly six months.

Keeping Fingers Crossed

Yesterday afternoon, Toots called up complaining that she didn't have a backpack to start school with. I was not about to run out, buy a new one, and take it to the residence. After phone calls back and forth, my husband decided he would lend her his bag for the day; he stopped at the residence after work and dropped it off. Last evening, I found her pink backpack from last spring, reasonably in sight in her room. It looks almost new. Lew took it with him this morning, and will drop it off to her tonight.

The kicker is that, for some unknown reason, Toots became angry with her staff and housemates last night, and would barely speak when Lew stopped at the house. She did say that she was thinking about whether she would cooperate in going to school this morning, and she hadn't decided if she would or not.

Well, it's 10 am, and I haven't heard from anyone at the house. I HOPE that means she got up, got dressed, and got on the bus. And I HOPE she makes it through the day. I'm not a 12-stepper, but the "one day at a time" principle really applies here.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I spent last week with my mom in south Florida. Since my dad passed away four years ago, she continues to be a snowbird, spending half the year in New Jersey and half the year in Florida. She wants to keep doing this as long as she can, and we hope that will be true for a while.

As I think I mentioned before, Toots moved into a girls' residence last month. We are having her at home every other weekend, more or less. She says she likes being home, but when she is here she keeps asking us to take her places - "Can we go to the movies? Can we go to Panera Bread? Can we go to the dollar store?" - regardless of what we are doing or have planned. Shopping and eating are her twin passions. When Toots is at the house, she can frequently go out on shopping trips or excursions with staff.

Being home does not seem to make her happy. Being at the residence doesn't seem to make her happy, either. We despair as to whether she will ever find a place where she can be happy.

Since Toots was in the hospital from the end of June until December, she received very little in the way of education. The hospital offered two hours of instruction per day, but the kids were not made to go, and from when she communicated, I have serious doubts whether it was worth anything. She told me one day that a "school" assignment at the hospital had been, "Make a list of all the team sports you know." Toots is nominally in eleventh grade. SIGH.

Since she moved into the residence, she has been receiving homebound instruction, also supposedly for two hours each day. The tutor often calls to cancel.

Last week, we had the screening to determine whether Toots would return to the special ed high school she attended from January to June of 2011. (A number of her new housemates also attend.) She had been saying for several days that she didn't want to go back there, she wanted to attend another alternative school program (which the abovementioned tutor had told her about). Upon investigation, it proves that the alternative school cannot meet her psychiatric needs, and it would not be an appropriate setting for her.

Anyway. We went to the screening, and the upshot is that Toots is accepted (and, as of this minute, is willing) to return to school tomorrow. While we were there, she saw a number of faculty members and friends who were happy to see her and expressed gladness that she is returning. I hope it actually happens tomorrow morning. She has gotten into the habit of sleeping very late, and I hope the house staff do not have trouble getting her out of bed to meet the bus. We gave her money to have her hair cut and styled today, and a member of the staff is taking her. She is a teenager, after all, and she does want to look good. It is hard, sometimes, to remember that she is just a kid.

I have many things to do today. I am not working outside of home at present (though I am doing some freelance writing and other things), and I have errands to run and projects to complete. When I have time (later today maybe? Ha), I need to sit down and figure out how to get the word out that I'm back online.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Can I show you why he's The Ninja now?

He's the one in white.

Chocolate Angels for the New Year

We spent New Year's Eve at the home of friends, whom we've known since their son attended Tutor Time with The Ninja, 10 years ago. Had a good time with a congenial group of people. The Ninja spent the evening in the basement with the other young teenage boys, playing intense video games. Toots stayed upstairs with the adults - there were no other girls in attendance. She didn't appear to overeat wildly, and didn't have any meltdowns or inappropriate expressions of boredom.

We brought several desserts. The best was Chocolate Angel Pie, which I have now made twice, to rave reviews each time. Not-too-sweet chocolate mousse in a meringue crust. The recipe comes from Allrecipes: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-angel-pie/detail.aspx. I highly recommend it.

This afternoon, Toots is over at a friend's house. All her friends are people she's been in various placements with, which means they all have "issues" of various kinds. Friend B. is back living with her family, and appears to have it together, pretty much. Since Toots has missed out on so many of the normal experiences of adolescence, and doesn't have friends in our neighborhood, we're glad that she has friends within driving distance from home, to spend time with.