Gretchen Schock shares her love of recipes, crafts and frugal living. She also speaks very opening about the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. After a breast cancer scare in 2012, she decided to say goodbye to her nightly glasses of Chardonnay. It was time to get sober and live life with eyes wide open! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Catapult Craft

Kids love to throw things, they love to see objects fly through the air. I took their love of flight and combined it with a craft, making a catapult! 

Here is what you will need:
craft sticks, rubber bands, plastic spoons and craft pom poms. 

First we stacked 10 large craft sticks on top of each other and secured them together using rubber bands on each end. Then we put a craft stick on the bottom and on the top in the shape of a V and secured with a rubber band at the tip. Then in the center of the stick making an X with the rubber bands, attaching it to the 10 craft sticks. The final step is using a rubber band to secure the spoon to one of the V shaped sticks. As you can see the kids colored the sticks with markers making each catapult unique. 

We set up targets; a paper plate, a bowl and a plastic cup. Then we tested various heights using yoga blocks. First predicting the outcome and then determining what we can do differently to get the outcome that we wanted. It was a lot of fun and just a wee bit educational…but the kids barely noticed that!


25 Gift Ideas For Kids (That Don't Involve Bringing More Plastic Crap into Your House!)

Yes, kids love to open gift on Christmas day but as a family who has often lived in small spaces, we have had to invite other ideas for gifts that grandparents, aunts and uncles could send the boys. Gifts that don't take up any room in our house. Gifts that were more experience driven rather than consumerism of stuff.
Here is a list of ideas that we have enjoyed in our house.

  1. Membership to a children's museum. For several years this was our #1 gift request because when we would visit the grandparent in their state we used the affiliate program and was able to go for free. We would often also go to a children's museum while traveling or on vacation. We got a lot of bang out of that buck!
  2. Aquarium membership. 
  3. Subscription to a children's theatre. 
  4. Spring break camp (we don't normally do spring break camps so this is special in our house).
  5. Season pass to minor league baseball games.
  6. Season tickets to college women's basketball games, we are close to the University of Maryland and the women's basketball games aren't as crowded as the mens' games which works well for our family. And the tickets are less expensive.
  7. Night at Great Wolf Lodge.
  8. Adopt an animal at the zoo,
  9. Tickets to an amusement park.
  10. Movie tickets.
  11. Gift card to a place where we wouldn't normally go that is an experience, for example a Pump It Up or a trampoline gym or a climbing wall facility.
  12. Magazine subscriptions. When the boys have finished reading them I take them to their school to use in their positive behavior school store.
  13. Online video game coding program, my youngest has really enjoyed this one. Learning how to make his own video game has taught him to look at all video games differently.
  14. Online video game like
  15. Minecraft Homeschooling game, we haven't tried this yet but it's on our wish list for this year. 
  16. Gift card to an arcade.
  17. DVDs.
  18. CDs.
  19. Video game.
  20. Gift card to purchase Apps for iPhone/Ipad.
  21. Art classes.
  22. Cooking class.
  23. Paint your own pottery type of experience.
  24. Subscription service  that comes in the mail: delivers STEM and creative projects for the child to do at home.
  25. Gift card to book store or comic book store, I would personally rather be overrun by books than plastic crap any day of the week!


Indoor Party Game for Kids

Cooler weather means kids are cooped up indoors and so is their energy, which may be driving you a bit wacky. This is a fun and quick game that can be used for kids of various ages whether it's a rainy day indoors, a snow day home from school or an inexpensive party game to play at your child's birthday party.

Purchase a large bag of various colored craft pom poms, I like to use the kind that are about a half inch in diameter or smaller. Throw them in the center of the floor and have the kids try and pick up a particular color for one minute only using their feet. The person who gets the most balls of one color in a pile is the winner.

Not only is this game quick, easy and great for all ages but it also builds the muscles in the child's feet which will help their yoga practice, dance technique and soccer skills.


Monogramed Initial Sticks

My yoga kids love nature and what better craft activity to complement a walk in the woods than making a monogrammed initial out of sticks that we found on our nature walk. I let the kids pick out embroidery floss in their favorite colors and each child sat and concentrated on making their initial.

Try this craft with your kids. Take a walk through the neighborhood or in the woods and pick up sticks that you find along the way. Then find a quiet spot to wrap string or yarn around the joints to hold the initial in place. For the younger kids I used twist ties to hold the sticks in place so that they could manipulate the embroidery floss around the sticks without the letter completely falling apart.

Enjoy the quiet moments with your children. While they are working ask questions about their day at school, their friends etc. Sit and listen. Don't comment as you normally would and instead try and listen and observe. Keeping an open mind and an open heart.


Simple Candy Corn Painting

Need a quick and easy craft that will keep the kids occupied for a little while? This is it! Great for kindergarten through fourth grade students. The supplies are minimal so it's great for a classroom project.

All you will need is:

  • white construction paper or white card stock
  • orange and yellow paint
  • clothes pins
  • craft pom pom balls
Cut the paper in the shape of a large candy corn, you can do this or have the kids do it if they are comfortable with scissors. Then place orange and yellow paints on paper plates in the center of the group for everyone to share. With the clothes pins grasp a pom pom, I chose to use coordinating colors so that no one would mix the clothespins in the wrong paint. 
yellow pom pom = yellow paint
Have the children dip their pom pom in the paint and dab on the paper repeatedly creating a candy corn design. Hang and let dry.
This craft is perfect for the fall and Halloween time, especially for the kids who might be a little scared of Halloween themed crafts that involve ghosts and skeletons.  


Clothes Pin Dolls and Fairy Houses

The mission of the Bee Yoga Fusion Yoga Kids Program is to support the develop of the whole child, what that means to me is to create an environment where the children can use their imagination to play freely while also learning how to be compassionate and caring individuals.

I love to give the children the opportunity to create their own toys to play with. On this day we first created dolls using clothes pins. You can purchase a bag of blank clothes pins at any craft supply store, JoAnn's or Michaels both carry them. The children drew on the clothes pins with marker to create their person. They then twisted a pipe cleaner around the body to create arms.

Our dolls needed a place to live so we gathered some sticks and leaves and began building our "fairy houses". We made an entire town, complete with hammocks and bedrooms.

Take your playtime outside today and see what you can create using branches and leaves that have fallen to the ground. See what type of word your child envisions.


It Takes a Village

You've heard the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child", but have you ever really believed it? Yes, it's awesome that you have the friends you can call on last minute to pick your kids up from school when you are running late and sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the beltway. Or who babysit for you so that you and your spouse can go out to dinner at a restaurant where utensils are used or see a R rated movie.

Having a child on the Autism Spectrum has made me a true believer of the phrase "it takes a village". There is a village of specialists that work with him daily at the school so that he can maintain being successful in a mainstream classroom. A wonderful woman who is his dedicated aide has become part of our family. She loves him and cares for him at school so that I don't have to worry about his safety or if he's being left behind. 

A village of family and friends celebrate his accomplishments right beside me. People who know how much it means to me to be able to film a music concert. Yes, I know parents do this all the time. We post videos and pictures of our children but my village knows what a huge accomplishment it is for my oldest son Logan to walk onto a stage full of 250 people and stand in front of the same number of people sitting in the audience and play a song on his viola. 

Because once upon a time we had to avoid large groups of people because Logan couldn't handle it, it was too much stimulation. He would often crawl under tables or benches and cover his ears and cry.
Once upon a time he wore headphones to dampen the sound of music during his music class at school. 
And then a viola was put in his hands….and it all changed.

Thank you village for celebrating this life accomplishment along side me! 


Halloween Bat Craft for Kids

What kid doesn't love bats? Making these Halloween bats are super easy and you will be upcycing, and that's just plain awesome!
Before my BeeYogaFusion Yoga Kids began this project we read the book Stellaluna.
(How cool is that website, right?)

As for the craft, cut up a paper egg carton so that each child has a cup. Have the children use markers or paint to color their bat. Click on the second bat wing picture and print. Then cut out the bat wings and tape a twist tie to the back of each wing. Using the tip of the scissors create a small hole in the side of each egg cup and place the twist tie in the hole.
Your done!
Either leave the bat as is to sit on a shelf or place a hole in the top of the head and put a string through so that the bat can hang upside down.
Happy Halloween!


Halloween Pumpkin Luminaries

We are getting ready for Halloween at the Bee Yoga Fusion yoga studio and the yoga kids celebrated today by making pumpkin luminaries.

Supplies needed:

I had the yoga kids rip the orange construction paper into small pieces and then glue each piece onto the wide mouth canning jar using a craft foam paint brush. I instructed them to use just a little bit of glue, which was hard for the wee ones to resist gooping it on. Then with scissors they cut out their eyes and mouths using black construction paper. After they were finished I went back and glued down and pieces that were sticking up and smoothed the surface with my fingers. Once the glue was dry I sprayed each one with a glossy finishing spray and put a battery candle light in the jar. 

It's a wonderful craft for the kids to make and feel as though they are contributing to the fall decor in your house or in their room. This also makes a great gift for the grandparents!


Free Range Kid Craft Project

It's amazing what the Bee Yoga Fusion Yoga Kids come up with when I give them supplies and a theme. On this particular day I told them that we were going to make "Ghosts". In the center of our craft area were paper plates, a roll of toilet paper, stack of white paper, glue, tape and markers. What they each came up with on their own was pretty incredible.

One covered the plate with toilet paper and then carefully tore the center open to reveal a scary face, another drew a cat ghost with paper ears attached to a paper plate and toilet paper limbs, another taped toilet paper around the whole paper plate and that was it.

Allowing kids to decide for themselves on what the result will be is part of the fun of being creative and enjoying imaginative play.

Try it with your kids. Abandon the Kids Craft Board you created full of ideas from Pinterest to create these perfectly looking crafts and instead give the children a few supplies and a theme and see what they think of on their own without any directions. Then share it on social media using the hashtag #CocktailMomCrafts


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