Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nearly Christmas Card time!

I'm so excited for this year's Christmas card.  Last year, Evie was only 5-6 months old when it came time to make our cards. This year I have a full year and a half of photos to choose from!

We always order our Cards (and photo prints and books and calendars and even stationary!) from Shutterfly. I just love 'em.  They have great quality products and I've always been really pleased with their services, designs and easy to use drag and drop software.

So I got on line and started going through all the photos and trying to pick the best. The design choices for Christmas cards this year are SO Great! There are really designs for everybody.  Now the hard part is choosing the right ones for us!

Here are my top 5 favorites:

I love this one because it has so many photos on the front but doesn't seem smushed. It also has room for photos on the inside. It's a good way to show how much my sweetie has grown since last Christmas and the quote just makes my eyes water when paired with photos of that big grin. It's also the most traditional of my selections.

The sentiment on this one is just PERFECT for our family.

I love the retro graphics on this one and the combinations of fonts. I also really like the non-traditional colors and square shape. 

I was looking for something fun and a way to showcase all those great grins I got on her 18 month birthday and this one was perfect for that!

My little sugar plum fairy. I really like all the colors in this one and I think it would stand out on the wall with 100 other Christmas cards our friends and family members are sure to get. 

See why it's just so hard to choose?! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I was a bad person today

I was a bad person today. The kind of person I try really hard not to be. The kind of person who makes airline stewards grab a few beers before heading down the inflato slide.

I chewed out the bank employee that called to try to get me to transfer my mortgage to her bank.  She called during Evie's nap. It woke her up. She'd been asleep for 30 minutes. It had taken me over an hour to get her to sleep. She has a cold. Her favorite blankies are in the wash and not in her bed. None of this was anymore okay with Evie than it was with me.  I have a to do list a mile long and only Evie's usual 2 hour nap for any real productivity. For the second day in a row a telemarketer stole 3/4 of my work time from me. I let her have it.

Now, an hour or so later, with the scent of apple pie wafting through my house from the oven and feeling somewhat more zen from the rhythmic monotony of mopping the floor, I'm having chew out regret. It was not her fault. She was simply doing her job, and despite my raging she remained calm and wished me a happy Thanksgiving.

So, Ms. Telemarketer, where ever you are. I'm sorry. I should not have taken my frustration out on you.  Your company's policy of harassing its customers with constant sales pitches and junk mail is annoying but not your fault. I'm sure you are just like my family, trying to earn enough to get by through whatever means of employment you can find in this economy.  I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings and have many things in your life to be thankful for.

With Sincere Apologies,

P.S. While I'm very sorry I was not more polite about it,  my request that your company NEVER call here again still stands. Thanks for understanding.

Monday, November 22, 2010

1 and a Half

Evie is officially One and a Half! I say officially because her Daddy has been saying, "She's about one and half" for a while now. I, however, hold out until the 18th of every month and particularly when I'm thinking it's nearly time to abandon the monthly age all together. This makes me sad. But then I look at that picture up there and can't help but smile too. Parenthood is such a roller coaster of emotions.

Evie saw the doctor on her birthday and was weighing in at 27 lbs fully dressed and diapered and 32 1/2 inches tall. That puts her around the 75th and 80th percentiles respectively. She received her polio and chicken pox vaccines plus 1/2 of her flu shot. She'll go back next month for the other half of her flu shot and her last DTaP vaccine.  The doctor and I didn't get to chat much given that Evie recognized him instantly (even in the hallway and he wasn't in scrubs this time!) and screamed in terror every time he entered the room.  But he did say that her memory must be excellent and that her lungs worked extraordinarily well.  On a positive note, the doctor was uninjured during this visit...unlike the previous shot taking adventure where Evie kicked him in a very sensitive spot.

Unfortunately I think the waiting room chairs got the better of my little monkey. We were the only ones in the waiting room and she enjoyed climbing on all the chairs and testing them out while we waited for our appointment.  She is working on one final tooth before we should get a reprieve until those nasty 2 year molars come in. So naturally plastic chairs that previously held sick people + hands + mouth = baby with a cold.  Her nose started running on Sunday and I think may get worse before it gets better. And just before Thanksgiving too. Bummer.

I did manage to ask the doctor about her lack of speech and he reaffirmed my belief that this is nothing to be concerned about since she has such an extensive sign language vocabulary that she actively uses and learns quickly. She has figured out and is trying to say several words, "Flower", "Diaper", "Up" are among them but they're still unintelligible to us if she's using them unprompted. However, her signing is growing almost daily. I keep having to look up new signs to teach her since she very much wants to learn.  In the past month she has mastered and uses without prompting: Pickle, Apple (which she now uses for Apple Juice too), Cheese, Grapes, Trick or Treat (which she uses when she wants a piece of left over Halloween Candy- just one per day if she's really good), Please, Thank you, Baby, Car, Puppy, Bird, Monkey, Lion, Giraffe, Elephant, Penguin, Bear and Rhinoceros.  She really enjoys looking at books that picture these animals. She points at them and then does the sign.  She has also started using her books to communicate. For example, if we are reading her alphabet book and we get to "J is for Juice" she'll point to the picture of the juice cup then make the sign for apple and point to the kitchen.  The most revolutionary communication has been nodding. I can't remember if I wrote about this last month or not and I really can't remember when she started doing it but it has been life changing. She can now tell me a very clear yes or no. You can phrase a lot of things as yes or no questions so we can almost have a conversation now.
I attempted to teach Evie the sign for "Trick or Treat" with a Pavlovian method. It was messy.

While her spoken vocabulary may lag slightly behind others of her age, her motor skills and problem solving skills do not. The kid can jump. And I'm talking full on both feet off the ground at the same time not holding on to anything jumping. Bed, floor, grass, concrete- doesn't matter. She can jump on it. And she LOVES it. We need to get the kid a trampoline.  And problem solving... I was thinking that wouldn't come for a while yet, but no. She knows that she needs to move one object to get to another in her toy box. She knows she needs to move a chair to stand up on it to reach the counter. Bad news for Mommy and Daddy.

Did I tell you she can play the piano? Well, not really, yet but it's coming along much faster than I anticipated. I've been teaching her "Twinkle Twinkle," and she's nearly got it. She knows to just hit one key at a time and that if she hits one, say in the region of Middle C, then she needs to hit it again and then move a certain number of keys to the region somewhere around G. She's come astonishingly close to getting it dead on a few times. Her Daddy was very impressed when he came home from work and found her playing.

The past month has been sugar filled! First there was Evie's first Halloween Party.

We held it in the back yard and invited all her little friends to play on the swingset, color, pin the broom on the witch, read spooky stories and play dress up. I think the kids had fun and not one melt down. WIN!  Many thanks to all my fellow Mommies and Daddies who pitched in to help put it together and pull it off on short notice.

Then, of course, there was Halloween itself. A local portrait studio was offering a free Halloween session so we took her over in costume for some photos... that reminds me, I still haven't ordered prints. Must get on that.
FX Studio ROCKS. What a great treat!

Evie wasn't big on Trick or Treating but sure likes the results.

One Saturday she helped her friend Cooper celebrate his first birthday. 
Then the next day she celebrated Quorynn's 3rd birthday!

She got her bangs trimmed and discovered the joys of sugar free chocolate pudding.

And she had a wrestling match with Pooh Bear.
I'm not really sure how that fits in but I like the photo.

It's been too cold in the mornings for the park. Alas. But we have managed to get together with her little friends and their Mommies about 3 times a week at Toddler Time and Story Time at the Library. I think the social interaction is very good for her. Too bad we won't be going tomorrow due to that yucky runny nose.

The holidays are coming and time will move even faster I think.  I wish it could just slow down a little bit. Sometimes in the evenings when I'm rocking Evie to sleep (something she lets me do less and less these days) I feel like she's my little snuggly baby again, for just a moment. There's that roller coaster thing again.

An open letter to CVS Caremark RE: Forced Mail Order Prescriptions

To: CVS Caremark

To Whom it may concern:

Your's is the most ridiculous drug plan I have ever heard of.  It is inconvenient, selfish, greedy, and dangerous to your subscriber's health.

First the back story.  I was diagnosed with Thyroiditis over 10 years ago.  Since that time I have been on daily thyroid replacement hormone both generic and under the brand name Synthroid. Over the past 10 years I have had numerous insurance companies and prescription drug plans - 4 in the past year and a half alone. CVS Caremark is, hands down, the worst.

7 days ago I called in a refill to Walgreens like I do every month. A few hours later I received a call saying something was wrong and they were working with the insurance company to resolve the issue. They stated they would call when the issue had been resolved. (Please note Walgreens: A follow up call saying I needed to step in would have been appreciated.)  Seven days already with no thyroid medication is enough for the thyroid levels to start dropping and to feel the symptoms.  So I drove to the pharmacy and the pharmacist called your company and learned there was no "override".  So I called.

I spoke with a nice lady named Vicki who, you'll be happy to learn, kindly defended your ridiculous policies and tried to be sympathetic to my situation. However, all the nice manners in the world cannot change the fact that your selfish and greedy policies have put my health in danger. Through Vicki I learned that since my drug is for a chronic condition I MUST either use a CVS pharmacy OR get my drugs mail ordered from the CVS mail order program. There is no CVS pharmacy within 50 miles or more. There is no prevision or exception made for this. I am simply forced to use mail order.

To set up a mail order prescription it takes approximately 10 days to receive your drugs. But they use the US Postal service, which doesn't run on holidays and Thanksgiving is next week so we're looking at closer to 12 days. Add the 7 days I've already waited. That would put me 19 Days without my medication. 19 DAYS!!

Vicki was very sympathetic. She offered me a One time override. That means that ONE TIME in MY LIFETIME  I am able to go to my local pharmacy and pick up my drugs at my usual copay. ONCE IN MY LIFE.  It's my one get out of jail free card, as it were.  The other options were to pay for my drugs out of pocket, which I'm sure is what CVS Caremark is hoping I would do, that way they get my premium AND get out of paying for the drugs. Meanwhile, I pay twice for the same medication. GREEDY.

I'm sure that CVS Caremark will say, "But Mrs. Gillespie, we sent you a letter." Yes. They did. They sent ONE letter cleverly disguised as an EOB in the mail. Not high on my priority list with the stack of other mail and bills coming in. I sat it aside to think about later unopened. Was there a phone call? No. A Text? Nope. An e-mail? Nada. Not one offer to help me set up a mail order plan before it was too late. Gee. Thanks for the note.

Additionally, Vicki told me that my one time override was for an entire family of drugs. Meaning that even though this prescription was for synthroid and next time my doctor might prescribe Levithroid I've already used my pass for that type of drug. Are all antibiotics the same family of drugs? How about Cancer drugs? Are they all the same too?

Vicki also told me that my doctor would have to write me 90 day scripts to be refilled monthly (by CVS mail order of course). When I explained that my doctor would not likely write for 90 days, especially not this month when I have an appointment with a specialist NEXT month, she said that I could just pay full price out of pocket for my drugs at my local pharmacy until I got my new dosage. She acted like this was no big deal.

To wrap this up,  Economic times are tough. I am fortunate enough to receive insurance through my husband's employer.  Insurance we pay for out of his pay check.  We are NOT getting what we pay for. Your company's policies are Selfish, Greedy and put their customers health at risk. The idea that I can't get medication in my hometown because YOU have elected not to open a store here is ABSURD.   I am an extremely dissatisfied customer and would urge anyone considering CVS Caremark as an prescription drug plan to look elsewhere for someone who actually cares about their customers.  What irony that "Care" is in your name. Obviously, you do not care about your customers' health.

Amy Gillespie

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Trick or Treat Bag Designs!

I've been on a trick or treat bag making kick for the past few days. I've just had so per many ideas and a bunch of candy craving kiddos to outfit.  Almost as fast as I get them made I've written down the patterns and gotten them on Ravelry for sale.

The latest designs are the Jolly Roger bag, perfect for your little pirates: Buy Now

The second is the friendly little Ghost bag:  Buy Now

Each pattern is $3 and includes instructions for hand knitting as well as machine knitting as well as applicable charts and appliqué instructions.

I am also offering a package of all 4 Trick or Treat bag patterns for $9 (the price of 3)! The set includes all four designs: Jack'o'lantern, Ghost, Candy Corn and Jolly Roger. Buy Now

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I enjoyed designing them.  They are SO easy and fast to make, especially on the knitting machine.  Finished projects measure 8" tall x 10" wide and will stretch to hold nearly 100 fun size Snickers. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quick and Easy Trick or Treat Bag

Cast on to finishing this project took less than one hour using my knitting machine. I think it will be perfect as a favor bag for Evie’s Halloween Party this weekend. The finished bag measures about 9” tall by 10” wide. It was easy enough I will be able to let my husband work on making more tonight while I finish up the giraffe hat.
This little project is perfect for beginning knitters both with needles or on a knitting machine. 
Pattern Available now on Ravelry: buy now

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Trick or Treat Bag

This is the easiest trick or treat bag pattern!  During my daughter's nap yesterday I got out my folding table and set up my knitting machine, knitted the whole bag, seamed it and made the drawstring!  All I had to do later was the embroidery! It measures 8" tall x 10" wide; just the perfect size for toddler trick or treaters or to use as gift bags for a Halloween party.  Pattern features instructions for both machine knitting AND hand knitting, plus the chart for the Jack o lantern face.

Buy Now

AND be on the look out for some variations on this design including: Candy Corn, Ghost, Black Cat and Frankenstein as soon as I can get samples made and the patterns written.

Monday, October 18, 2010

17 Months... yeah, I'm a slacker.

My little sweetie turns 17 months old today.  I've been chasing her around the house shouting, "ACK! Crayons are for paper only!" My little baby is in full on toddler mode. She's testing boundaries and expressing her strong will all the time.  But she's also the sweetest, cuddliest little love.

Over the past few months she's grown and developed and is so SO smart! Her little memory is working over time. She remembers where she left her juice or blanket or book and can go find them. And you can watch her little wheels turning when she sees a character in a book or on TV and she has a stuffed animal of it too. She'll go get it and point from one to the other. And she can identify animals and characters in books by pointing.

Her latest motor skills are climbing and are the kitchen chairs fun. Up and Down all day. She loves to run and chase Mommy and Daddy through the neighborhood.

Evelynn is weighing in around 24-25 pounds and is 32" tall.  She finally outgrew her infant car seat. We got her a new convertible seat that should last her until she's 65 pounds.  We still keep her rear facing even though, technically, she's big enough to turn around.  But it's safer rear facing and she doesn't seem to mind.

She doesn't speak very many real words yet. "Anna" is about it. But she understands everything we say and responds and she picks up new signs immediately and communicates that way.  I didn't start speaking until later either, so we really aren't concerned.  Her sign language vocabulary consists of: Hi, Bye-Bye,  Please, Thank You, Baby, Swing, Hat, Car, Bubbles, Ball, More, All Done, Help, Book, Cheese, Cat and Drink.  She's working on learning signs for: Pickle, Apple and Banana.  The rest of her communication is done by pointing and pulling and "Bah-Bah"s.
Asking for a Book at the company picnic.

Her favorite foods are: Dill Pickles, Italian Sausage, Apples, Bananas, Peanut Butter, Graham Crackers, Goldfish crackers, Cheese, Tomatoes, Blueberries and pasta. She likes most meats and fish and anything with lots of onions and garlic.  She hasn't had many sweets but ice cream and lolly pops rank pretty high.
Blueberry yogurt is an ever popular breakfast.

Evie's favorite activities are: reading books,

exploring outside,

 going to the park or swingset,

playing with sidewalk chalk,

 bouncing on the bed, taking a bath and helping Mommy and Daddy.  When she spills her milk she is very happy if you give her a towel so she can wipe it up. She helps rub her lotion on after her bath and is very good about putting her books back on the shelf. She even helps me fold laundry by picking the clothes out of the basket for me to fold.  And she loves taking things to the trashcan.

Evie is very happy if you give her choices. She likes to pick out her outfits each day. She picks out her jammies and her bed time stories.  She picks the toys she takes in the car and her snack. She has very definite ideas about which shoes she wants to wear. Yep, she's her mother's daughter.

Not to worry, she is also very much her father's daughter.  She gets very excited when she sees a large truck or road construction equipment pointing and shouting, "Bah-Bah!! Bah-Bah!!!" when she sees them.

Like most parents, we've taught Evie a few tricks to make us smile. She knows how to Call the Hogs.

 She will put her arms up high in the air when asked how much someone loves her.  If you tell her she has stinky toes she will smell them. It's gross.

A typical day begins with Evie waking up between 7 and 8AM.  She drinks her milk while we snuggle under her two favorite blankies on the couch and I sip coffee.  Then we read books for about an hour before breakfast.  After breakfast it's time to get dressed. On Tuesdays we go to the library for story time. On Wednesdays we play at the park with her little friends. After lunch Evie lays down for a 2 hour nap. In the afternoon we run errands or play outside, frequently going for short walks around the neighborhood to explore and chase the neighbor's kitten.

 Evie plays independently while I fix dinner and with her Daddy when he gets home from work.  After dinner we almost always take a family walk together before bath time. After her bath and story Evie is in bed by 8:00.

Since my last update Evie has had her first haircut,
her first lolly pop, 

her first Popsicle. 

She has been to her first wedding,

 street dance, 

 and petting zoo.  

We love this sweet, smart and independent little girl more each and every day.

Since I haven't been so great at updating the blog, here are her monthly birthday shots for 14, 15 and 16 months:
14 Months- July 18, 2010

15 Months- August 18, 2010

16 Months- September 18, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mohawk Hat Pattern Published!

I finally took the time to write out the Mohawk Hat pattern. I swear it took longer to type it up than to make the things; they're just that fast!

But it now on Ravelry