Monday, December 31, 2012

The Much Anticipated, Yet Sadly Disappointing Snowstorm


A much anticipated, yet sadly disappointing snow is falling outside my window as I type.  Promises of 2-4", what would be considered a "major" storm in this area these days, have been squashed in favor of perhaps an inch.  What was supposed to have started not long after midnight, didn't start until about 15 minutes ago, and it's now nearly 10am.  Disappointing.  Very.  But it is snow, and once the ground is coated, I have promised Samantha that we would build a snowman. 

We actually had snow the day before Christmas - maybe 1/2", but it was enough that the ground and our back deck view out the window beyond our twinkling Christmas tree lights were still coated when we woke on Christmas morning, enough to constitute a very rare White Christmas, the last of which was probably close to 10 years ago.  And then, to sweeten the deal just a little, we were treated to another inch the day after Christmas.  There was a thick enough covering on the ground to make a small snowman...

...and to write on the cars...

...until a cold, driving rain came and washed everything away into a slushy mess a few hours later.

And today's snow held so much hope and promise that we ran out to buy Samantha new snow boots yesterday, and I assured my child that there would be snow on the ground to play in when she woke this morning. 

To be honest, I'm sick of waking in the middle of the night, running to the window, hoping for that bright, silent white fluff, the muffled crunch of tires rolling over soft snow, the rustling of snowflakes landing on the leaves on the tree outside the bedroom, and finding...nothing.

But the winter is young, and we wait (and wait, and wait, and wait...) for the next opportunity to present itself. 

Just a final note...the snow stopped within an hour after writing the post above, barely covering the grass, not touching the streets, and melting by noon.  No snowman this time...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be Merry!

I didn't have the energy or the time this year to take photos specifically for our Christmas card.  Weird, I know.  So no holiday card photo shoot.  Instead, I decided I'd take Sammi to the mall and get her picture taken with Santa, in hopes that the photo would be usable.  While I've never had a bad mall Santa pic, there's always a first time, especially when the waste of paper joy we spread through the mail to our friends and family around the world, just waiting for its temporary spot in the holiday home decor of so many, is riding on it.  Turns out the photo wasn't bad.  Not at all!  And with the $20 Shutterfly credit I got as part of the photo package, I just couldn't go wrong.

To be honest, the only reason I wanted to pay for the package of photos of Sammi with Santa was so I could get my own photos of the moment, standing behind the mall's photographer, snapping away.  And as it turns out, I got the better pic. 

I couldn't possibly have asked for a better photo, actually. 

Whenever I try to put Shutterfly code into my blog to share my projects, it doesn't work, and all I can do is provide a link to the item.  So, since I actually ran out of cards this year (I actually ordered more so I wouldn't run out!), I created my own version of the card to print out on photo paper, and here it is.  The difference between this and the actual card is really just the font, and the fact that there's a 2nd side with a small pic of the mall's photo that I purchased. 

My photo (not posed, I might add - Santa just happened to be straightening his hat when Sammi leaned up for a kiss - what LUCK!!):


Mall's photo:

Merry Christmas to all of you out in the blogosphere, and Happy New Year!!  I hope your holidays are all merry and bright, as ours are certain to be!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To Test or Not To Test, Part II

Just when you think you've made a great when you know you've made a great decision, your kid turns on you.  Flat out turns on you and your brilliant decision-making abilities, throwing a wrench into the already creaky works, bringing what you thought was a path to nirvana (okay, maybe that's a stretch) to a mind-numbing, screeching HALT. 

We had been unsure about giving our consent to having Sammi IQ tested before her re-evaluation (read HERE for the background).  I'd submitted our consent form.  Then I'd withdrawn our consent form.  Then, upon discovering that it was actually critical to the re-evaluation process, that the whole thing would be shut down until someone cries uncle, and upon discovering that the people involved in the process were not out to get Samantha nor were they planning on making any changes based on the results of the testing but were just trying to get a full and complete picture of who Samantha is, what she's capable of, we decided to go ahead and re-submit our consent.  It just wasn't worth it to decline, and we'd likely wind up shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) along the way. 

So we felt good about it.  We were ready for it.  Ready to get the ball rolling, anxious to get to the eligibility meeting in December and haggle over labels. 

And then Samantha got involved. 

Like, she was kinda supposed to be involved, but seriously she has her own agenda and is ready to rain chaos down on a perfectly-well-oiled machine, perfectly-well-laid plan (too many mixed metaphors?).

And that's just. what. she. did.

Testing, Day 1.  In someone's office, with the resource teacher present to lend Sammi support while the psychologist administered the test.  First 5 minutes went great by all accounts, Sammi happily answering each question.  And then?  Everything stoppped.  Something triggered Samantha to completely shut down.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  They tried everything.  Nope.  She wasn't having any part of it.  Not wanting to push too hard, they ended the session and sent her back to class.

Testing, Day 2 (about a week later).  They started out in someone's office, but as soon as Sammi saw the psychologist, she immediately clammed up, presenting a carbon copy of her behavior from the week before.  The Assistant Principal, another person Samantha adores and feels comfortable with, stepped in to try, to no avail.  They tried changing the location, moving it to the classroom environment, everything short of all-out bribery.  Still futile. 

Testing, Day 3 (a few days later).  One more, final try, everyone holding their collective breaths, searching the sky for the alignment of the stars...aaaaaaaand...that ultimately ended as badly as the first two sessions. 

There was nothing more they could do.  You may be thinking that perhaps Sammi would respond if either Daddy or Mommy were in the room, but I can tell you from experience, it wouldn't have made a lick of difference.  Now the evaluation has been concluded with only testimonial from myself and Sammi's teachers, a big hole left in the spot where she would have been able to speak for herself, where she could have likely competently spoken for herself in many areas of the test. 

We got the evaluation report back yesterday, 48 hours in advance of the meeting, as required.  It was tough to read, I mean, really tough, and essentially made it sound like my kid is a giant behavioral problem.  But we know better, and her teachers know better, and we also acknowledge that we need to take it for what it is, and that the report is not what's in dispute, the label is.  The report was really what we'd expected anyway, but that doesn't make it any easier to read.  On the plus side, it was so heartening to read that she's above average in her reading skills (sweetens the painful borderline found on her math skills...), and everyone agrees that she's got great social skills, makes friends easily, and plays very well with the kids in her class.  Oh, and that they like her.  :-)  Some things are definitely more important than others, and that's at the top of my list.

The eligibility meeting is tomorrow afternoon.  We have no idea what to expect.  While we know the results are incomplete, will that mean they have to try again at some point in the future?  You can pretty much bet that attempt will end in much the same way.  Will that mean they're going to accept the incomplete and base their conclusions on the testimony of the adults, and move forward?  I hope so. 

And then that will just leave the question of what label she is given.  I'm honestly not too worried (famous last words?).  I think everyone knows how we feel, and that we're likely all on the same page.  But the one wildcard in the picture is the main decision-maker, someone neither Steve nor I have met, someone neither of us has really had any kind of interaction with, someone that represents the school system, rather than the school itself. 

Fingers crossed... 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's New in Orthodontia

Samantha had her orthodontist appointment last Friday afternoon.  We were prepared for the worst, trying to head a potentially catastrophic and life-scarring situation off at the pass through role-playing and constant discussion in advance.  It was a new doctor for her, one we'd never met before, but who came with words of praise from my own dentist.  My dentist failed to mention if he had super-human powers of calming-effect coupled with skin of steel, impervious to the claws of a cornered, frantic and deranged 6-year old, but we thought that calling his office to ask that before our appointment might not be in our best interest. 

Why an orthodontist, you may wonder?  She's just 6 1/2, after all...  Well, Samantha has a pretty severe underbite.  Cute now, won't be so cute later, but, even more importantly, it already causes complications with her speech.  She speaks very clearly (when she isn't talking so freaking fast!), able to enunciate most letters beautifully.  But there are a few letter sounds that she is completely unable to make accurately as a result of the underbite, not the least of which is the "r" sound.  We've stopped private speech therapy for now, but will likely pick it up again once she's had the correction.  We'd been told by a few people that palate expansion (for the upper palate, to bring it forward, in-line with the lower jaw) needed to happen before a child turned 7, as the palate is more pliable up until that point.

However, as we learned at the appointment, we'll have to wait until both her 6-year molars have grown in (they're coming in now - I saw them when I was flossing her teeth the other day!) and her top front two teeth have fallen out and grown back in.  These teeth are all very important for anchoring the appliance in her mouth.  He's suggested make our next appointment for a year from now, when we can re-visit the topic.

How'd she do at the appointment? 

She dug her heels in and refused to open her mouth for a good 15 minutes, while Steve and the orthodontist talked.  Then, all of a sudden, the jaws of the savage beast opened, revealing 20 beautiful, white teeth - the sweet child I know so well had returned to herself and was ready to get on with the exam!  Just like that.  No bells, no whistles, no cajoling.  Just...ready when SHE was ready

And that, my friends, was that

We have no illusions about next time, but will continue the home-education we've been providing, hoping that her growing, developing brain will finally see the light above the dentist's chair, will finally be able to reason that it's not so bad.  The orthodontist has suggested sedation to take tooth molds, which is not an unrealistic idea.  We'll see when the time comes.  But in the meantime, I consider this a pretty large victory in the battle of wills. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Bittersweet Images of Christmas

Last week's tragedy put so many thing into perspective for so many people.  I'm not going to blog about it, other than to say it's made each minute with my daughter so much more important, more sweet, more critical than ever before, and was a bittersweet reminder to never take anything for granted when it comes to the time we're able to spend together, enjoying each other's company.  This morning's school drop-off, salted with a sense of urgency in the air from school staff enforcing new, more strict policies and heightened awareness, was a grim reminder.  My heart goes out to all of the families affected by such brutal, pointless carnage, who will live with this wake-less nightmare for the rest of their lives. 

I certainly don't want to come across as glossing over anything by moving on quickly here, but feel that it has to be done right now.  I'm not the one to tell  the re-tell the story, and I certainly hope you can all read between the lines enough to know that I, along with millions of others, have been affected deeply. 

And on I go...

This weekend I discovered some of the sweet images of a child's Christmas around the house, as well as some of the super-sweet images of an adult choco-holic's holiday... 

When I was 7 years old, I made this cottonball Christmas tree at school.  I was in 2nd grade, and felt so much pride at having created something I could bring home to my parents for the holiday.  There used to be foil snowflakes and stars glued on along with the beads, but they've long fallen off over the passage of time, spanning across 37 years.  My mother kept it wrapped up with her Christmas decorations, putting it out on display faithfully each year, and returned it to me, much to my delight, a few years ago.  Don't let the photo fool you...the cottonballs are actually yellow now...gross.

Yesterday I discovered, with much child-like glee, that the 7-year-old me had written my initials inside the cone.  

Samantha's favorite part of decorating the tree is placing the star at the top.  A star she'd made in preschool two years ago, one that I'm pretty certain she had a lot of help in creating, but was proud to have brought home nonetheless, it is the perfect topper and one I see having for many, many years to come, much like my little formerly white tree.

This ornament was also "made" by Samantha in preschool, in 2009.  Uh, she was 3.  I am certain she had little to do with it, especially given that an identical version of it also came home in 2010.  But I love it anyway.

One of my bosses brought me this box of chocolates on Friday.  I'm so glad I actually opened the box while he was standing there, because I'm sure my reaction was pretty priceless when I got a gander at the exquisitely-crafted pieces of art, delectable gems of organic, preservative-free, Norman Love chocolatey goodness, that lay inside.

Chocolate just can't get much more beautiful than this.

Or this.

Or this.

And to call this stuff, this confectioner's delight, "delicious," is to do it a serious disservice.  It'd be like calling the Hope Diamond cute.  Now this is chocolate.  Steve and I have sampled 4 of them so far by cutting them in half so we could each taste the delicate layers of flavor in the creative, holiday-themed assortment.

Sweet, yes.  Bittersweet?  Even more-so.  We go on, living our lives, enjoying the small things.  And this Christmas, the friends and families of 28 in Connecticut will not.  May not again ever.  If I were the praying type, I'd be praying for them to find peace one day.  But while not actual prayer per se, I am thinking of them, hoping they'll find peace one day, and I will not forget.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Talk Amongst Yourselves: Blogger or WordPress? Go!

I've been building my new blog over the last few weeks, setting up formats and future post titles, selecting colors and fonts and trying to figure out how I want it to all work, where I see it going.  Of course, as anyone who's starting a new blog will tell you of themselves, I have grand schemes, big dreams for what I want to accomplish - visions of huge readership, paid (relevant) ads, businesses wanting me to do reviews, giveaways, and, of course, something people want to read. 

Can I do that? 

Ha!  Probably not.  Actually, probably not even close.    I don't really know what I'm doing, and I'm certainly no expert in what I'm going to talk about.  I'm excited about it, though!  The blog will is called "Fashion and Frugality (for Kids)."  I had alluded to it in a previous post, some time back in September.  I'd love to get it launched some time in January, but at this point have not yet decided if it's going to live in Blogger or WordPress.  I've set up general templates in both.  (Actually, I was a little bit concerned when the URL address I wanted to use on both Blogger and WordPress was taken - leading to unused pages on both, started in 2010 and then abandoned by their owners.  Would the same thing happen to me?  I determined that it would not.  And I was then just kinda ticked off that they wasted a perfectly good URL that I could have used instead.)

Here are my requirements:

*I want it to be free for now, possibly paid later, once I can prove to myself that it's something worth paying for.  And, of course, the transition from free to paid needs to be simple.  If you're recommending paid, please give me all the reasons you prefer that version, what amazing things it can do (if it can make coffee, that's an added bonus...).

*I want it to look like a place someone would want to go, meaning I want it to look nice.

*I need to be able to track my traffic.

*I need to be able to gather followers.

*I need a Facebook page for it.

*Photo uploads need to be relatively simple.

*I'm a creature of habit, and, after using Blogger for the last 5 years, I need a compelling reason to use WordPress if that's what you're going to recommend.

I'm sure there are a million more requirements that I'll come up with that I haven't just listed here, but I'm scarfing down a bowl of cereal right now and have to go in about 30 seconds so I can do my hair, put some make-up on, get dressed and get to work slightly less-late than usual.

Talk amongst yourselves (but please leave a comment!).  Let me know your thoughts.  I think I know what I should do, but I just need to know why, and if the unpaid version will suffice to start (WordPress).  But I also think I know what would be in my best immediate interest to do because it's simple and familiar (Blogger).  And I know that moving one to the other later on down the road can be painful. 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Successful (Home) Dentistry

After last week's rant here about Samantha's failed visit to the dentist, after receiving so much thoughtful advice and so many great ideas on how to turn the situation from fear and anxiety to calm and cooperation, I knew I had a tough road ahead of us, but felt that it could be done, felt empowered to make it work.  My mother, faithful reader of my blog, ran out and bought a children's photo book about what to expect when visiting the dentist.  When Samantha saw it on Saturday, she was hooked.  She wanted to read it again and again, and by the time we left to return home from my mother's house on Sunday morning, all Samantha could talk about on the car ride was how she wanted me to play dentist with her. 

Yep, you read correctly...

My kid, whose favorite game in the whole wide world is to play doctor, actually wanted now to play dentist

Hoo boy... 

Let's see...I'm fortunate enough to have a kid that's cool with having her teeth brushed twice a day, who has finally (mostly) learned how to spit (and who takes great pleasure in trying to spit all over the bathroom mirror rather than in the sink...). But she's a kid who will absolutely not let me floss, let alone open her mouth for a dentist.  Now, how to present the experience in a way that she'll remember, absorb, embrace?  I'm still a realist, and I know that even though she can play a good game, can say yes to all the right questions, obey even the most hated requests when it's just play (like giving shots, putting on bandaids, etc.), I imagine that baby steps are still steps in the right direction, and being as desperate as I am right now to see some kind of success, I will do whatever it takes to get her thinking positive thoughts about visits to a dentist.

Excited to get started, she complied with my request to lie down on her bed, head back on her pillow.  I explained that I was her dentist, and that I wasn't going to hurt her, that I just wanted to look at her teeth and clean them.  She opened her mouth for me to count her teeth...10 on the top, 10 on the bottom (I just read today that she should end up with something like 32 when all the adult teeth have come in - holy cow!  Where will they all go???).  I tapped each one with the bottom of her toothbrush as I went.  I commented on how beautiful her teeth are, said I wanted to make sure they were going to grow strong and healthy, both excellent buzzwords for my kid. 

Then I took her toothbrush and brushed them carefully, explaining that the dentist will be using a different toothbrush, an electric one that tickles her teeth and gums, like the one she let me show her by trying it out on her hand at the dentist's office last week. 

I figured since she was having such a good time up to this point, it may be a good opportunity to push the limits a bit. 

"Hey, Sammi, let's floss!"

"Okay!" she said. 

(Excuse me, did I hear you correctly?  I think you just said, "okay" to flossing...)

And that's just what we did.  Each. and. every. tooth. 


I told her I'd like to do that every day, that it will help to make sure that there's nothing stuck between her teeth and keep them healthy, that I'll do it daily, too (good way to get me in compliance as well), and she nodded in agreement. 


Friday she has an appointment with the orthodontist.  As it's just a consultation, and I doubt he'll want to do anything more than just look in her mouth, feel her jaw, etc., I went through what I thought he'd do with her, reassuring her that he wouldn't do anything in her mouth (gotta make sure Steve explains this to the guy when he gets there so we don't freak her out!).  A couple of encouraging things about this orthodontist - he takes Medicaid, was recommended to me by another mother of a child with Down syndrome, and, as I discovered through casual conversation at my own teeth cleaning this week, my own dentist highly recommends him, and said he's great with kids (note to self:  remind Steve to drop my dentist's name at the appointment on Friday. just for added insurance of a happy visit).  As for Sammi's dentist she's been going to for the last few years, I think it's time to kick him to the curb and look for someone else.  Neither Steve nor I are terribly impressed with him, and I'm sure just that lack of clicking with us must also be felt by Samantha, having an awful lot to do with her negative experiences.  My own hygienist used to work for another pediatric dentist in the area who takes Medicaid, and she said she's amazing.  Gotta check her out for the next appointment in June.

On a completely different note, I got the proof for Sammi's re-taken class photo for the yearbook back this morning. 

Let's just say I've already put in a request to submit my own photo of her instead.

Just as with the dentist, she can talk a good game, tell us she'll do it, show us her happy-face pose she's promised us she'll give the photographer, and then, when the moment arrives, her shoulders slouch, her head goes down, her forehead furrows, her arms cross, and her bottom lip goes out in the biggest pout you've ever seen.  So why does she give the most beatific smile for the photographers at all the Santa sittings?  Is it because Mommy is standing behind them with her own camera?  So I've decided that next year I will go to the class-picture shoot myself and make sure the job's done right. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thank You

Wow.  Yesterday's post and all of the comments I received about it, both on the blog and in several Facebook forums, made me really, really sad, but also gave me hope.  Incredibly sad because I honestly had no idea how prevalent this issue of our kids with Down syndrome (as well as those with other special needs) going to the dentist was.  Hopeful because I got many useful suggestions.  I have learned, above all, that there's no easy fix for this, that it will take time, hard work, and stretch the boundaries of my patience.  But, if I can employ them and get them to work to the desired outcome, it will all have been worth it.  Fear of the dentist is no fun, and can cause serious issues down the line.  People with special needs very often have major dental issues and don't get help for them.

So Thank You to all of you who responded, who offered up so much valuable advice or even just a few words of commiseration to assure me that I'm not alone in this.

On to thanks of a happier nature...I may be a bit scarce 'round these parts for a few weeks.  While I'll still be posting some, I think blogging may have to take a bit of a back seat to another project I'm working on - I, along with a friend of mine, the mother of another child in Samantha's class, am nominating Samantha's teacher for a prestigious county-wide Teacher of the Year award.  I really have no words to describe the gratitude we feel for all that she's done, for her support, patience, and encouragement, her flexibility and overwhelming desire to do whatever it takes to help all of her students learn.  The work that needs to go into the packet to turn in for the nomination is quite intensive, and I want to make sure I can do a good job, to present our case in the most compelling way possible.  She really deserves it.  (Btw, if any of you are wondering, it's okay if she reads this...she knows already...)  :-)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Samantha and the Dentist

There are adjectives too numerous to list to describe this experience.  I'll give you just a few:








Samantha has been going to the dentist since she was a year old.  The appointments for the first few years went well, with the baby being as cooperative as a baby can be.  Then things changed.  No bad experience to trigger it, just a maturing brain trying to make sense of it all, finding pure anxiety and fear in the invasive nature of the situation. 

This is a kid that fears boo boos and what's underneath a bandaid (I ask for no bandaids whenever possible - it's just not worth the fight to get it off), who used to cry when the car was up on a lift getting fixed, a room that was newly-painted, a fake tattoo, face-painting, or a new front door.  In other words, change to her comfort zones.  And I am pretty darn sure that her body is a BIG part of her comfort zone.  And having the hands of some stranger in her mouth doing whatever it is they're doing is a big No No in her book.

We went to the dentist yesterday.  This time I took her for the first time, instead of Daddy, since he had to be at work early and, let's face it, how awful must it be for him to always be the bad guy taking her to those appointments?  I got a good, grim look at the reality of just how bad it could be.  Trying to make it a positive experience all around just wasn't going to fly, but I did my best. 

To start with, after having to wrestle her out of a corner of the waiting area and into the exam room, I did have to pin her hands as she lay on top of me in the chair, Cinderella on the DVD player about as soothing as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre would have been.  I pinned her hands just until she could figure out that the doctor was only going to put his hands in her mouth to count her teeth, gently, but not before she'd gotten a good swipe at him, claws extended, drawing blood through his gloves.  Eventually, she calmed a bit, although she was still crying.  I released my grip, and he counted each tooth.  Then came time for the hygienist to work her magic.  Or not. 

Right.  Not.

But we did get a little bit further than in past visits, Samantha allowing me to gently floss some of her teeth (wouldn't let the hygienist anywhere near her mouth), allowing me to try the electric tooth brush thingy out on her hand so she could see how it tickles, then eventually (an hour had passed by this time), with the aid of her pink Peltor headphones, allowing the hygienist to put it in her mouth.

Just for a moment.

But long enough for her to clean 4 (!!) teeth.  Hey, it's a start!

So my question is this:  How can I get past this anxiety and resistance (the dentist doesn't sedate for cleanings) when my insurance only covers 2 cleanings per year (even though no real cleaning actually occured)?  So much time elapsing between events just creates more anxiety.  I do wonder if Medicaid would pick up an interim cleaning, although I am doubtful.  Maybe I can get Samantha to come to one of my cleanings somehow, except mine is tomorrow during my lunch break from work, which would be impossible for her. 

It's really a no-win situation.  I hate to see her like this.  I hate not knowing if she has cavities or other issues we need to address immediately.  I hate that she's got to go through a similar experience in just two weeks when she has an appointment with an orthodontist to discuss her underbite issues, although we will really stress to her that there will be nothing invasive, just a look at her mouth.  And trust me, those appointments are going to involve a whole lot of sedation when we proceed with treatment.

Anyway, just a quick vent for today.  I'm suitably jealous of all of you whose children face the dentist with grace, calm and sheathed claws.  I know there are no real tricks, because I tried them.  It's just something innate in our kids - some can, and some can't. 

Mine can't.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Elf That Doesn't Sit Upon Our Shelf

It was an innocent enough question. 

"What's your elf's name?" asked one of Samantha's chums as we walked together to school on Friday morning.  Before Samantha could respond with something that made absolutely no sense, her usual defense to something she totally can't comprehend, (or about as much sense as "What's your elf's name?" would ordinarily make to anyone), I jumped in, "We don't have an elf." "Why not?" she responded, truly flabbergasted that we'd deign to not have an elf like, um, the rest of the world.  I mean, Harry Potter had one, right?  Carefully choosing my words, I explained that not every house has one.  Fortunately for me, we'd approached the school entrance by this time, and went our separate ways.  Whew.

Facebook cracks me up.  Pour your soul out, and maybe get a few responses.  (For the record, I stopped pouring my soul out on there a long time ago - not good for PR...)  Risk offending people by saying you don't see the use in spending money for a creepy plastic doll that may or may not scar your child for life, that may require a whole lot of planning and ingenuity on your part that you just. don't. have. the. time. and. energy. for., and get, like, 60 responses.  Heaven forbid you aren't going with the flow, bowing to a super-clever marketing campaign, scaring your kids witless...  In all honesty, my original status update on Friday (does anyone else *not* have an Elf on the Shelf?) was written in true ignorance innocence as to the numerous ways people use the Elf on the Shelf.  My only knowledge centered on what I had heard whispered in pig latin by other parents around young, eavesdropping ears, that the silly little thing had to be moved every night because the kids think that it's always watching them and reporting back to Santa on whether they've been naughty or nice.  Scary, right?  Anyone ever see that Karen Black made-for-TV film, Trilogy of Terror from 1975?  (There's this African tribal doll that terrorizes a woman in her apartment.)  Dolls and horror stories are just made for each other.

I have since learned, thanks to my many Facebook friends, that the elf isn't actually always spying for Santa, acting as a cop-out in place of real parenting.  Instead, he's a cute little guy or gal, impish grin carefully painted on its face in some far away land like China, who gets into mischief while the children sleep.  The kids, ever excited to see what he/she has been up to during the night, go on a hunt each morning to find him/her and catch it in the act.  Of something.  Like fishing off the side of the goldfish bowl.  Or trekking across the clean kitchen with flour-covered boots.  Or chucking everything out of the hamper.  Fun, huh?

So there are a couple of things wrong with this kinder, gentler scenario, thus still ensuring that it will not grace our home/darken our doorstep/whatever.  First of all, did I mention that the thing is SCARY?  Just what my kid needs (or me for that matter...), to have to search for an entity of questionable provenance, an inanimate object, as it moves itself through the house while she sleeps.  This is a child who, while completely enamored with Santa Claus, cried the first time she left milk and cookies out for him and woke in the morning to discover they'd actually been EATEN.  Not quite what she'd signed up for.  Dang, the big guy in red is real!!  Second, who the hell has time in the mornings before school to let their kid go searching for it?  Seriously, from the moment Samantha gets up in the morning, it's a veritable rat race to get her dressed, fed and out the door.  Third, I do not have time to craft cute little scenarios each night, making messes I have to clean up each morning.  Really. 

So, I maintain that it's just not for me.  Glad for those who love it, whose children embrace it like a 1-month-a-year-member-of-the-family, who are able to create lovely little scenarios as beautifully as a hand-made craft from Pinterest.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure there are a million ideas of what to do with your elf on Pinterest. 

But I'm not looking.