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.


Creating Memories & A Marvelous Adventure

I married an incredible woman, she's truly spectacular. But the added bonus of our marriage is that I also got this amazing additional family to boot! I have been blessed with an incredible mother-in-law. Seriously, this woman has the most giving and thoughtful heart. She has welcomed the boys and I into her family with arms wide open and for that I am truly thankful.

GranMarti, as she is called by the grandkids, started a tradition that honestly all grandparents should consider doing with their grandchildren. When the grandchild turns ten she takes them on a "______(Child's name)______ & GranMarti's Marvelous Adventure". The adventure has to have an educational bent to it, which is open to interpretation. A simple weekend away to explore and focus on celebrating the child's birthday and their relationship with GranMarti. Of course the weekend wouldn't be complete without lots of additional treats and ice cream! 

My youngest son, Zane, loves animals. Especially cats. His Marvelous Adventure was created entirely with his interests in mind and was presented to him many months in advance to get him excited about the trip but also to allow him to prepare for it. He would be traveling to three separate animal rescues and at each rescue he had the option of sponsoring an animal. For months he saved his money, storing each dollar earned in an envelope marked for the Marvelous Adventure with also a monetary countdown of how much he and GranMarti determined that he's expected to contribute to the sponsorship.   

This was one of the cleanest animal rescues that I have ever been to. There were 90 cats in this location and you couldn't smell a one! The volunteers and staff were wonderful, allowing Zane to get into the large enclosures to play with the cats and patiently answering his questions, "which cats are the hardest to get adopted?" (Answer: black), "how long do cats live here?" (Answer- depends on adoptability whether cat has special needs or age). We weren't aware that Zane's questions were his way of processing, in his mind, which cat he wanted to sponsor. He decided, on his own, that he wanted to sponsor Parker. Parker is an older cat that is labeled "special needs" because he has a heart condition that requires medication and a special diet. All of which makes it nearly impossible to find a forever family for him. As Zane told me his reasoning for picking Parker, I welled up with tears. He is such a compassionate little person and I truly believe having a brother with "special needs" has shaped him into the person he is and will continue to become.    

This place was incredible! I recommend everyone go and take a tour. We learned so much in the two-hour walking tour. For example - tigers LOVE the smell of Axe body spray! Volunteers spray telephone books with Axe body spray for the tigers, one of the many ways that they provide stimulation to the tigers within their enclosures. The rescue has a variety of big and small cats that each have a heartbreaking story of how they came to live there. Several are from Texas and Florida where it is legal to have a tiger as a pet! Their stories are similar to the ones that dogs and cats at your local animal rescue would tell, the owners had good intentions but didn't do their research on the breed, the demand, the time, cost and care that it takes to have this animal as a pet. 

The final destination was a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
Zane and GranMarti learned about sea turtles and the various predicaments that would cause a turtle to spend time in this establishment. Here Zane decided to sponsor a turtle who had frostbite on his shell. This turtle had been at the rescue already for several months and the interns who graciously answered all of his questions said that he would only require seven more months before being released back into the wild blue ocean.

Of course since they were so close to the beach they had to enjoy some beach time too. 

Pass this idea on to your children's grandparents, the children don't "have" to be ten years old. Pick an age and commit a weekend or a day to each child. Make the experience educational, fun and something that the child will enjoy yet hasn't done before. 
This Marvelous Adventure will forever hold a special place in Zane's heart as will his GranMarti! 


Thanksgiving Turkey Craft for Kids

Need a simple craft to do with your kids to celebrate Thanksgiving? This will only take a small amount of time and you probably already have everything in stock.

This project is great for kids from kindergarten to fourth grade. For the older kids add a writing element by asking them to write what they are thankful for on each feather. Younger kids can even draw a picture on each feather of what they are thankful for.

Start by cutting out a circle using brown construction paper. then have the kids cut various feathers out of colored construction paper. I drew the first feather for the child and had them stack the papers to cut the feathers out all at once. But you could easily create a template for them to follow or have them create their own feathers. The possibilities are endless!
Using yellow construction paper cut out a triangle for the beak. Draw the eyes on with marker. The child could either glue the feathers to the back of the circle or use a small paper fastener to make the feather movable.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sobriety is My Celebration!

Today, August 14th, 2015 marks my anniversary.... I have been sober for three years. 
To be honest, being sober for three years has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It's a daily struggle, a daily commitment, each day I honor my emotions and tune in to my true authentic self. And I celebrate each day that passes, not just the years, but each and every day of being sober. 

I no longer count how many drinks people have at parties. I can sit down at a dinner party next to a person drinking wine and I can hear them. I can actually hear them! I can hear their story, I can see them and experience our time together. Because we addicts, there is an entirely different mental game that goes on in our heads. As you casually sip your wine, we can taste it in the back of our mouths. Which then leads to wanting a sip, and then the mind bounces through thoughts. And that desire for a drink is all encompassing, it feels like we are drowning. And you continue on talking as we pull out our plethora of tools; breathing techniques, counting, focusing on something other than each sip you take or how you hold your glass in your hand and so we look at your hair and we try to change the subject. And if the mental game becomes too much we excuse ourselves to the bathroom. That is where I can be found doing downward dog, right there next to your bathtub. I reconnect with my breath, I make the commitment to myself to be sober another hour, another night, another day. Once I feel steady, I return to the party. 

These moments have happened less and less for me this year. But then another mental game begins to play out, I start thinking maybe I don't really have a drinking problem. Am I really an alcoholic? Maybe I can control it and just have a glass of wine every now and then. But I know this story is the same story so many addicts have lived through before me. I remind myself of the blackouts, the mornings trying to feed my kids breakfast while fighting the nausea of a hangover, the dinner parties and conversations that I don't even remember. I know by listening to other addicts that have been sober for years more than me, thinking you have control over this addiction is a false sense of security. Because we don't have control! 

Each year that passes I feel stronger. I feel more in tune with my purpose and I feel less shame about being an alcoholic. It's a label that I can wear proudly because I am sober. And I feel so much better in my spirit and in my body than I ever did after a bottle of Chardonnay.


Reusing Water Bombs to Sponge Paint

You made the water bombs and the kids had a great time throwing them at each other and getting really wet in the process, now let's use those same water bombs for sponge paining! I am a HUGE advocate of being able to use things for more than one purpose. And with washable paint you can use these water bombs to make really cool paintings.

Pour washable paint on paper plates and instruct the kids to tap their sponge into the paint and then create a cool pattern on the paper. My yoga kids loved combining the colors and shapes on the page. Then when they were finished creating art with the sponge they decided to make some foot art and used the sponges to put paint on their feet and then step on the paper.
Try using the water bombs with painting outside and see what art your kids create.


Outdoor Water Play with Sponge Water Bombs

Looking for something to do outside with the kids on a hot day? Maybe the pool hasn't opened yet or maybe you have a group of kids at your house of various ages and you don't know what to do that will entertain them all…well this is it!

All you will need are basic sponges that you can find at Target or your local Dollar Store. Cut each sponge into strips and then take 8 strips and secure together with a rubber band in the center- that's it!
We had two buckets full of water on either end of the playground that the kids had to run to in order to get their water bombs nice and wet. Once wet launch them at your friends. This is a great activity when you need the kids to be outside burning off energy but they complain it's too hot to run around.
Would also make a great craft project for the kids to make the water bombs at the end of the year class picnic and then run around launching them at each other.

The water bombs were enjoyed by kids from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade on a playground, everyone played together and were equally wet with smiles on their faces.


Chinese Drum Craft

Let's make some music!

All you need is:
2 paper plates per child
1 large craft stick/ tongue depressor/ popsicle stick per child
white duct tape
hot glue gun and glue
hole punch

*Prep the activity by hot gluing the large craft stick to the bottom of one paper plate for each child.

Have the kids decorate the bottom of the paper plates and then place the paper plates facing each other so that the bottoms are on the outside. I handed out slivers of white duct tape and the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids taped their plates together. Then they hole punched 2 holes in each side of the plates across from each other. Tie about a 6inch piece of yarn to each hole and string 4 beads on each side. That's it- you are done and ready to make music!


Easy Classroom Earth Day Activity

Sometimes it's hard for kids to understand the importance of Earth Day. A great activity to do with your child's classroom that is easy and low cost is to plant flowers with them. Allow them to be in charge of taking care of it so that they can see for themselves the importance of water and sun by supplying their plant with these these nutrients.

I used red plastic cups that I purchased at Costco. Each child received 2 cups, one which I prepped before doing the activity by poking holes in the bottom using a nail and the other cup did not have holes. The cup with the holes is the one that you will plant the seeds in as the holes will provide adequate drainage. The outer cup is to protect the surface the plant sits on from getting wet.

Before we began I had the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids decorate their cups with stickers. I find it helpful to give the kids a particular number so that everyone has the same amount of stickers. Look at your collection of stickers and decide how many you have that each child could have the same amount.

After they were done decorating they filled the cups up with planting soil and stuck their fingers in the soil to make holes for where their seeds would go. In a tupperware container I mixed a bunch of flower seeds together so no one would know what color flowers they were going to get or what kind. I wanted it to be a surprise when the flowers actually started to grow. And it also alleviated any argueing or whining over a particular flower color. They passed the tupperware container and pinched  and amount of flower seeds and placed it in their holes, covered the seeds lightly and then watered their seeds.

This is a great activity to do with a classroom as it's low cost and easy to do. Hands will get dirty but that's part of the fun!



Rainy Day Fun- Ring Toss Game

When it's raining outside kids become restless but that is no excuse for not being active or moving their bodies. Try making a ring toss game out of recycled materials and put a new spin on a rainy day afternoon.  

First cut out large circles in three paper plates to make rings to throw. To make the actual standing peg use a paper towel tube or two toilet paper tubes taped together. Cut a small circular opening in one paper plate to pass the tube through the paper plate. Slice the tube and fold up and tape to the underside of the paper plate, see second picture. Then have the kids decorate the peg and the rings with markers and stickers.

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids enjoyed adding a yoga element to our ring toss game. The person throwing had to stand in tree pose while trying to throw their ring around a peg. Give it a try with your kids today!   


Cobra Pose and a Snake Craft for Little Yogis

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids love doing cobra pose. Lay on your belly and place your hands on either side of your chest. Lift your chest up by pressing into your hands. It feels so good in your body when you lift your chest up and feel your shoulders drop back as your back stretches. Your legs stay straight and keep a slight bend in your arms. 
We worked on the actual yoga pose and then made some snakes out of paper and attached a piece of yarn to the snake head to allow the snake to naturally spin. Click the link to download the snake template, print out and color with crayons or colored pencils. ENJOY!


Christmas Ornament Organizing

I know you are not even thinking about Christmas right now! I know, I know. But hear me out.
You know those plastic containers that the Costco apples come in? I personally hate recycling them…I just know that they have to have another life. And here is a great way to re-use those plastic apple holders to give them more life and to help you organize your Christmas decorations. Glass ball ornaments fit perfectly in each apple holder or place several delicate ornaments in each space. The options are limitless! Then you can easily stack them in a rubbermaid container to store in your attic/garage/basement.
Happy Spring Cleaning!


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