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!