Sharing recipes, crafts and frugal living, the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. Yoga Instructor said goodbye to her nightly glass of Chardonnay to give up habits that were not serving her purpose in life! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.


Gluten Free Eggplant Pizza

I'm really trying to eat everything in our fridge before it goes bad. It sometimes means that I am less than thrilled to make dinner. Living in the bottom vegetable drawer of our fridge was an eggplant. Don't get me wrong I like eggplant, it is okay. It's not my favorite but it came in our veggie box delivery and it has to be eaten. I scoured Pinterest for recipes that didn't involve a lot of prep work and would possibly get my kids to eat this eggplant as well.

I found this recipe from Clean Food Crush and decided to tweaked it for my family. We only had cheddar cheese in the fridge so that was what I used and it tasted delicious. Also I added more cheese than she did because I wanted my kids to eat it. And let me be honest with order for vegetables to cross my children's lips without them gagging as if I am trying to kill them with must be covered with cheese. I am happy to report that both of my kids ate a slice without complaint. HUGE WIN FOR ME!!!!

Here is what you'll need:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced to the size of a fingernail's width.
  • Cheese of your choosing, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dried basil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes or pre-made marinara sauce
  • Garlic salt or diced garlic, whatever you have in the cupboards

To make the sauce:
I put a can of diced tomatoes in the Ninja blender with a ½ tablespoon of diced garlic (the refrigerated jar kind) and a splash of dried basil. A few quick spurts and it was ready.

Preheat oven to 430.
Place eggplant slices on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil. Top each eggplant slice with the sauce and cheese. Simply eyeball it and keep in mind it's supposed to look like pizza, so you don't want the eggplant swimming in sauce. Bake for 25 minutes and serve immediately.
For the adults I added dried basil to the top of each slice as well, but not for the kids. I think you can guess what their reaction would have been. :)


Facebook Reminds You

You know how Facebook pops up memories into your news feed from years ago? Suddenly before your eyes you see where your life once was, a memory that you might want to share to remind everyone else that you know that time is passing way too fast! Today the picture in my newsfeed was of my boys as babies.
It's hard to imagine that they were once small enough to hold and sit on my lap now that both of them are almost if not over 5 feet tall.

So much has changed and yet there are moments in our daily lives that haven't changed at all. Logan, my oldest child who is on the Autism Spectrum, is now in middle school. We have the same script as we are about to depart each other as we did when he was in kindergarten. In elementary school I stood at the top of the hallway, Logan refused to be dropped off with the rest of the kids in the front of the building, which was OK by me as I enjoyed having that last moment together just as much as he did. We had a routine that we did everyday. Memorized lines we would say to one another. It made him feel "safe" he told me once. We would stop at the mural and I would kneel down for a hug and kiss. I'd use that moment to remind him of something in his backpack that he needed to give his teacher, practice his clues one more time for his Friday mystery bag item etc, etc.  
I then would say "Have a great day sweetie", he would reply "OK take care of Dharma and Zane for me." 
"Okay I will", I would respond.
On one particular day he turned to walk down the hall, waving his left hand goodbye but not looking at me... as he did every school day. But this time he turned around, tears in his eyes and ran back to me on the verge of completely breaking down.
"You didn't say it Mommy!!! You didn't say it!!"
I was scanning my lines in my head as if I was on center stage and the spotlight was on me and everyone was waiting for me to deliver my line....

"You're going to be great!"

A huge smile then spread across his face. A deep sigh of relief. He turned to leave again.
I call out, "You're going to be great Logan! You always will be."
"I know, Mom. Thanks!"

Our script hasn't changed all that much, instead of standing at the mural I stand at the bus stop. And instead of saying "Take care of Dharma and Zane" he says "Have a good yoga class, Mom.", marking my transition from Stay At Home Mom to Working Mom. Today as he stepped on the first step of the bus, waving his left hand goodbye but not looking at me he paused and turned towards me. I smiled at him instantly acknowledging how grown he looks now and said, "You're going to be great!" A smile spread across his face and instead of his usual line "I know, Mom." He said "You are too." Thanks Logan. Sometimes we moms need to hear it too. 

For all you moms out there parenting kids on the spectrum; memorizing scripts, living by routines and wishing your child would eat something new.

"You're going to be great!"


Autism- Classroom Expectations

Something that most of us think of as so simple is often times really hard for a child on the Autism Spectrum. We are taught from Kindergarten through college and even beyond that when you have a question in a classroom type of setting to raise your hand and wait to be called upon.

Children on the spectrum struggle with multi-step directions. In the classroom, first they are trying to process all of the stimuli going on in the room. The smells and sounds of the other children, the hum of the overhead fluorescent lights, the feel of the seat under them, not to mention the temperature of the room, the volume at which the teacher is speaking and the general clutter of the classroom walls displaying student's artwork or motivational pictures.

The next challenge for kids on the spectrum is to pay attention to what the teacher is talking about, it's so easy for them to become distracted by all the other stimuli going on in the room. Then when the teacher asks a question, for them to be able to remember to raise their hand after first thinking of the answer is a challenge for these kids. My son, who is on the Autism Spectrum and is in a mainstream classroom, often times will not raise his hand even though he knows the answer to the question. I snapped this picture of him during a classroom sharing circle several years ago, the teacher had asked the kids: "Raise your hand if you are excited about winter break!"

Every year I like to sit in the back of the classroom and simply observe Logan in his environment before a scheduled IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. That way I have a general understanding of what a day looks like for him. If you have a child with an IEP, I highly recommend sitting in on his/her classroom for the entire day. See what your child is like with your own eyes so that you have a better understanding when the teachers are sharing with you their observations at the IEP meeting. You might leave the classroom with ideas for the teacher that might help to keep your child engaged in learning or accomplish other goals listed in their IEP.


Autism- Finding Friends in Unexpected Places

My oldest son, Logan, is on the Autism Spectrum and children on the spectrum have a really hard time making friends. They are socially delayed and typically don't understand social cues that everyone else seems to understand naturally. For example; looking a person in the eye, asking a question to keep the conversation going or simply greeting the person you know when you see them.

We continue to work on these social cues year after year. Hoping that someday he'll make a friend and want to have playdates like his younger brother does with his friends. We found a community for Logan in a very unexpected place: Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments. A local comic book store hosts Yu-gi-oh tournaments every month and the room is packed with (mostly) boys of various ages who enjoy playing Yu-gi-oh. 

This is where my son can shine in his Autism! It's okay that he's rattling off stats of various cards to everyone who sits in front of him, they want to hear it! It's alright that he isn't looking them in the eye because they are playing a game that requires you to look at your cards. He can stand when everyone else is sitting, he can walk on his toes, he can chew on his tongue...none of this matters because he is playing a game that the room of kids are interested in playing. And for once no one notices his Autism. Several times I have observed my son in this environment and welled up with tears because finally after so many "failed" experiences in extra-curricular activities that he couldn't do or wasn't coordinated enough or didn't have the attention span for.... finally he fits in! I have such gratitude for this amazing little community, the open-mindedness of the kids who attend and for the owners of the store for creating this very welcoming environment! 

If you live in Maryland check out the Dream Wizards store.


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