All posts by magdapecsenye

Special needs of all sorts and the school year

I had a great time at the Phila area meetup yesterday. What an interesting, thoughtful, funny, snarky bunch of people.

One theme that came up a lot was that parents seem to be dealing with all kinds of issues with their kids and a variety of special needs, and things seem to be extra amped up now that school's in session.

Food allergies. ADHD. IEPs. Therapy. Learning disabilities. Movement issues. Autism/Asperger's. All kinds of stuff. I just think about these parents standing at the bottom of the cliff, looking up, knowing they're going to have to do such an incredible haul to get up to the top to make sure their kids are OK. It's exhausting just thinking about it.

And if you're thinking, "This doesn't affect me," well, it might, and you just aren't aware of it. I found out last week that the "nut-free and dairy-free classroom" notice for my son's class didn't just mean that one of the kids, A., wasn't allowed to ingest dairy. It means that if A. touches dairy or touches a kid who's touched dairy and hasn't washed hands in between, he puffs up like a big red itchy wheezing balloon. It would have been nice to know how serious it was, so that I'd avoid all dairy things in my son's lunch. I'd been putting cheese inside his sandwich on the logic that my son knew not to give bites to other kids in the lunchroom (bonus of my short-lived gluten intolerance–my son accepts food issues). But once I told my son about the other kid's allergy *he* said, "Oh, so I shouldn't bring cheese in my sandwich anymore in case I accidentally touch A. after I eat it!" Woulda been nice to know–for us *and* for A. and his mom–three weeks ago…

So, anyway, until I get the message boards up and running, could those of you who've been there (enu, hedra, etc.) provide some emotional support for the parents who are in the middle of a long process of advocating for their kids? Also, is there anywhere online a printable list of commercial snacks that comply to food allergy specifications? (Like a list of snacks that are GF, one that's dairy-free, one that's soy-free, etc.)

San Francisco Moxie Moms meetup

San Francisco Bay Area Meetup

Sunday October 5, 9 AM-1 PM
Blue Playground in Golden Gate Park (enter off Fulton @ 9th Ave.)

We'll have a blanket on the lawn next to the play structures. If
you're looking for me, I'm pale and brown-haired, probably in pigtails,
and will be accompanied by a small blond child in glasses. – Lisa

Moxie is NOT going to be there, unfortunately. If only I could go…

System freeze

So I kind of had a mini-system freeze yesterday, in which everything was like moving through pudding.

I wonder if we're starting to hit the intersection of Overload and Illness. So far we've had one wave of head cold Chez Moxie.

And we've started talking about Halloween costumes.

And are making plans for Thanksgiving.

And I know what I'm getting the kids for Christmas.

And all this before I'm even wearing a coat to work in the morning.

When did I become this person?

Something more useful later on today. Comments, please, on whatever you want.

Super-important US bill about online child predators

Susan tipped me off about this. (Click on her name to read her post and be horrified):

The Combating Child Exploitation Act, which was introduced by Senator Joseph Biden, creates and implements a National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. It designates a senior Department of Justice official to oversee the national strategy, including long-term goals, budget priorities, and program reviews to reduce the current backlog of forensic analysis for child exploitation cases.  This national strategy includes provisions to:

* establish an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program consisting of state and local law enforcement officials to address the online enticement of children, child exploitation, and child obscenity and pornography;
* increase the investigative capabilities of law enforcement officers;
* provide training and technical assistance to ICAC task forces;
* increase the number of Internet crimes investigated and prosecuted;
* award grants to state and local ICAC task forces;
* and authorize funding for computer forensic capability, forensic labs, federal-state task forces, and the hiring of additional FBI agents to work solely on child exploitation cases.

Importantly, the bill expands federal authority to prosecute crimes involving child exploitation, buying or selling of children, and production or distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

I know I live in a little protected bubble about what's going on out there, what some sick people do or try to do to kids, and who's being hurt. I never realized all the awfulness that was out there, or that there's currently no united effort to go after it.

Oprah has the information on action steps (contact your senators, of course, and tell them to "Vote yes on Senate Bill 1738—The PROTECT Our Children Act.") here.

Sharing morning routines

We did a post about this last year, and it was really helpful to me to see how people do things in the morning. I thought we could do it again, now that school's started.

I'll start:

Parameters: NYC. Two kids, one in public all-day school and one in preschool afternoons a few days a week. No car. Mom with full-time job. Cats not at all helpful with morning routine.

* Alarm goes off at 7 am, but I've almost always been awakened before then by one or both of the kids and/or one or both of the cats. Sometimes all four are on top of me, fighting for covers.

* Get up, lay out clothes for both boys. Get their breakfast (cereal with milk or toast or eggs or frozen waffles by request). Feed cats and change their water.

* Take a shower, brush hair (wet–I know, not good), get dressed.

* Make lunch for older son (pull sandwich and baggie of tomatoes or carrots out of fridge, pop in cookies, refill water bottle, zip up Yankees lunchbag).

* Mediate some disagreements. Stuff younger child into his clothes and talk to older while he puts on his own clothes.

* Last-minute annoyance du jour–meter reader arriving, changing garbage, changing cat litter. Grab both razor scooters, my bag, older's backpack, and leave at 8:10.

* Walk/scoot four blocks to subway. Take subway four stops, then switch to another line. Take that one stop, then walk/scoot a few blocks to older's school.

* Drop off older around 8:46 for bell of 8:50. Meet babysitter in front of school and hand off younger.

* Walk back to subway. Take subway four stops. Walk five blocks to office. Done with morning schlep! Time to scrounge for breakfast at the office and coffee.

This is all predicated on having finished all the homework the night before and having it back in the backpack, having dishes washed and laundry done and folded and put away. (I try to do a load every night if I can–we have a machine on our floor, and it's $2 to wash and $2 to dry.) I also make the lunch sandwich and bag the veggies the night before, and have a vague idea of what I'm going to wear.

My goal is to get us all to a place of having clothes for M-F all chosen by Sunday night and stacked up or on hangers so we can just grab and go in the morning.

Your turn.


Seven years ago I'd just come out of my first trimester of pregnancy. I wasn't nauseated anymore, and the depression was manageable.

It was Primary Day, and I was scheduled to go out and flier for my candidate at the subway stop near my apartment. My husband called right before I left to ask if the news was saying anything about some kind of crash or explosion at the World Trade Center. I flipped to New York 1 (all-NYC news TV station) and they were just starting to show it and had no idea what it was. I told him they didn't know yet. Then I called my mom in Ohio to tell her something strange had happened, but it was probably nothing and we were fine, and she might not even hear about it on the news. I headed out to flier.

After about 15 minutes, people started coming out of the subway, crying. Then people started coming out of the subway dusty and grimy and crying. I kept asking what happened but all people could say was "plane crash," "explosions," "terrorists."

It was so confusing. I had no idea what to do. My first instinct was to go vote in the primary before the polls closed because of whatever this was. I decided not to, but just to go home and wait it out. I watched the whole thing unfold on TV, and heard sirens blaring from all sides as emergency vehicles rushed past me heading downtown. I got another call from my then-husband, who said they'd all rushed into someone's office to try to see what had happened, when they saw the second plane coming in. They stood there and watched in horror as it slowly circled and crashed into the second tower eight blocks away from them. Then they all ran down 29 flights of stairs and started running away from the site. He was calling from a barber shop about halfway home.

The rest of the day unfolded like a slow, grinding blur. By the end of the day the caustic, thick smoke had reached my apartment. It smelled like burning metal, and like something else. A few days later I was talking to a friend who'd grown up in another country, and she said it was the smell of the crematorium in her town, the smell of burning flesh.

That smoke stayed with us for six weeks. Through the initial days of fear and hope in which people covered the city with "Missing" posters of their loved ones. I couldn't decide which ones were more heartrending–the ones that were hastily slapped together, as if getting them out quickly would mean their brother or husband or cousin would be found. Or the ones that were done precisely and professionally, as if doing everything perfectly would increase the chances that their mother or college roommate would return to them. One day as I was walking across Union Square I caught one of the posters out of the corner of my eye and recognized a woman I'd worked with five years previously. She was so much fun. Generous, hilarious, and free. She'd have 600 friends on Facebook, if she'd lived to see Facebook.

I think we're mostly over it. I didn't seize up on Monday, like I have been every year when the weather's the same as it was that day. And I haven't cried yet today. But I did get irrationally angry when I saw that it's been named "Patriot Day" by the people who make the calendars. It seems so reductive, Patriot Day. There's so much more to it than that, and it's all still going on, here and in DC and everywhere someone was lost, and in the places and with the people who caused it to happen. What happened on 9/11/01 was just one tentacle of something sad and hopeless that's still there, even as we live our lives in hope around it.

Peace, everyone.

Wrung out

So last week completely wrung me out here on Ask Moxie. It was just too much, and I lost a lot of sleep over it. I was thinking about it, and decided that the first week of school is just way too emotional and fragile a time for me, so from now on I'm going to take an Ask Moxie vacation the first week of school.

I'm still trying to decide if I have it in me to file a formal complaint against the teacher from last year. I know nothing's going to happen to her and she'll still be doing the same stuff to kids every year until she decides to retire, so it doesn't seem like the effort would be worth it, except that it might help me get over it.