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.

6/30/2009

The Jitterbugs Reunite!


There are few people in this world that I can look at in the eye and know I'll forever have them in my life. These 3 women, The Jitterbugs, are my constant. If you follow me on twitter you know I've been in Seattle for a long weekend. Wendi is about to have a baby and move from Seattle to Michigan. She's got a lot on her plate right now; selling the house, finding a new one, moving and oh yeah have a baby and take care of the 2 kids she already has. What better way to surprise her then to just show up...unexpectedly on her doorstep. We had a wonderful visit, lots of laughs and memories made that I'll cherish for always. I feel so refreshed and renewed just being around the Jitterbugs. Thank you ladies for an awesome weekend. I love you all!!!

6/25/2009

A glimpse of our days...



The start of our unschooling summer looks a lot like this.
Laughter.
Learning opportunities simply landing on our shoulders and lots of discovering.

6/24/2009

Uniform Project


It's an interesting idea, this woman has decided to wear the same dress everyday for a year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Before you utter the words..eeeewwww like my 5 year old would...she has 7 identical dresses. Each day she will post a picture of how she jazzed it up with donated accessories and cheap finds. She is just beginning the Uniform Project, it will be exciting to see where she is at in 6 months. The best part is she's raising money for the Akanksha's School Project. Anytime someone decides to do something and give back to a community or charity has my full support. You go girl!!


6/23/2009

Free Sale

This past Saturday a few friends and I had a free sale. Kinda like a yard sale but everything was free.
Why?
Why not?
Two friends are in the precess of selling their house and moving and are just at the point where they just want it gone. I suggested the idea of a free sale, I've gone to a few and held my own in Seattle before we moved cross country. I'm a girl who loves to purge, any excuse to clear out some stuff (especially toys) before my kids' summer birthdays. We posted the sale with a short list of some of the items on every message board we each belonged to. Freecycle, Moms groups, community news based groups etc. We posted a few signs around the neighborhood as well. In the emails we clearly mentioned we would not hold items for anyone and that we would not tolerate early birds. My friend and I both share a love of organizing so we made sure to organize all the items into clusters of stuff. Electronics, kitchen items, books, games, outdoor/sports, and toys. This was a huge help in making items easy for people to find and take it out of the house. The sale began at 9am and we had a line waiting at the front door when we opened it. Quickly the house was filled with folks. I was pleasantly surprised how kind and appreciative people were. Everyone thanked us profusely and there were even moments when people were trading items or giving up something to give to someone else who had a stronger desire for it. I kinda had a vision in my head of those parents fighting over Cabbage Patch Dolls in the aisles of toys stores back in the 80's. Do ya'll remember that? Check out this video for a fashback.
Within 2 hours the house was wiped out. It was a lot of fun and we met some cool folks. So if you don't have the energy to do a yard sale, price items, set it up, tear it down etc... Or if you think you don't have items that people would pay for...Instead hold a "Free Sale"! You'd be surprised what people will take when it's free. Hot pink ankle weights anyone?!?!
A free sale is a lot less work and honestly at the end of the day you feel really good about doing it.

6/22/2009

Daddy Day Gift


Jon and I are not gift people, typically we decide to not give each other gifts and instead buy a large item for the house. Not the most romantic, I know, but practical. I decided to make a little something special for him this year with the kid's help of course. A cute little picture cube for his desk at work. I picked up the cube and poster board at Target for less than 6 bucks! This would also make a great birthday gift for grandparents. Freehand I cut out the letters to spell "LOVE". I've seen another blog that spelled out DADDY, I can't find it to plug but that's where the idea was sparked in my mind. I took each child alone outside under a tree to take the pictures and used the time to teach them how to spell love, we talked about why we were making this, why daddy is so special, what their favorite things about him are. I took shots of both kids with each letter and later figured out the order based on the best pictures. On the top and bottom of the cube I added a single shot of each child. I cropped the pictures and adhered to textured scrapbook paper and inserted into the cube. Yes it's that easy!

6/16/2009

Patuxent River Rural Legacy Ride

This past Saturday I finished a metric century bike ride, that's 63 miles plus 5 miles due to making a wrong turn. My parents have been members of the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club for as long as I've been alive. My sisters and I grew up going to club bike rides and being dragged to week long bike rides that my parents called "family vacation". For many years I wanted nothing to do with bike riding until my dad handed over a vintage racing bike. My dad enjoys remaking bikes, taking an old frame and outfitting it with new components. His own way of saving bikes from landfills. (that is my dad in the picture above, 2nd to the last)
And now biking has become a wonderful way for my parents, my sisters and I to do something healthy while reconnecting and spending time together.

Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club did a fantastic job hosting the 10th annual Patuxent River Rural Legacy Ride. Riders chose between 24 miles, 46 miles or 63 miles. The ride was fully supported with numerous sag cars and the roads were clearly marked. The rest stops were fully stocked with yummy goodness but the best part were the views at the rest stops...breath taking. Worth spending a few moments more to enjoy them and the really cool people you can meet. The course is a bit hilly but remarkable visually. This ride repeats every year and all the money goes to Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary. And this fall they are hosting the Indian Head 100 . Haven't decided yet if I'll be doing it because I'm already signed up for a century later in the month of September...but who knows I've had crazier thoughts.

6/15/2009

Co-owning

Oh another freecycle score I just had to share with you all. I actually posted a "wanted" to my local group asking for a typewriter, we needed it for a photo shoot for my hubby's author picture for his book Struts and Frets. After the shoot the boys quickly adopted it and it has become a fixture in our living room for the past few months. The boys love to type messages to us. Neither knows how to read quite yet so you see a lot of words they know how to spell; zane, logan, mom, pizza, toys, stop, exit. It's rather hilarious.
We have decided to take a break from the typewriter and a very good friend of ours who lives down the street is going to play with it for the summer. I love this idea of co-owning items for the kids. So often they loose interest in something but if we store it away and pull it out months later it's exciting again. In a small house the storing part is the problem but also this set up I believe if we applied it to other items would help elliminate waste in landfills too.
What if you shared a wheel barrel, for example, with your neighbor? How often do you really use it? Couldn't there be some sort of exchange? Think about it..look around your house...there may be just something you could share and ellimnate from cluttering up your house or shed while someone else is excited to put it to use for a while.

6/10/2009

Facebook & Crafty Goodness

Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with it. The quizzes drive me crazy, the reconnecting with old friends I love and when I got tagged to take part in crafty goodness I was ecstatic. The idea is to make something...anything...you choose what it will be for 5 friends. Last week I got a package from my dear friend Nikki, I couldn't open it fast enough. This cuff is so freakin' rockin! I am in love with it. How did I get so lucky to have such amazing, talented friends? Nikki got the idea and pattern from the book Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Love Sewing by Anna Maria Horner.
I love my crafty goodness surprise Nik...every time I wear it I think of you and what an amazing person you are. Thanks!!! And if anyone is in Seattle and needs acupuncture give Nikki a call..she's accepting new clients. http://www.nikkiwolfacupuncture.com/

6/08/2009

Sure signs of summer

The pool is open.
My hair is frizzy.
We just spent a Sunday afternoon with some awesome friends having a cookout.
Sure signs we have hit summer.
I love, love summer cookouts. Jon and I spent all day Saturday getting our hands dirty laying a flagstone patio in our backyard and I'm really hopeful we will be hosting some cookouts too this year. It seems as though we have one more weekend of hard work, we ran out of stones and still have a large section to fill in. I also picked up a used play structure on Freecycle and I'm hoping it inspires the boys to want to play outside more. They never want to play in our yard and I can't quite figure out why. When we lived in Seattle Logan played on a slab of concrete that we had for a yard more than what we have now. So I've divided the level part of our yard in half..half flagstone and half mulch/kid area. Oh and if you have any bug proofing recommendations, please leave a comment, the skeeters are bad here in MD. So once the patio making is finished I'd like to purchase the grown up furniture. Not sure if I should go with a small table and chairs, we don't really have a ton of space, or 2 lounge chairs and a small table. Thoughts?
I hope all of you have enjoyed your first days of summer. I'll post pictures of the finished yard once it's.. uh.. finished. But here are some shots from our weekend.

6/04/2009

The journey continues...


It's been awhile since I've done a school update. If you don't recall what I've been talking about check here and here and here and here and here.

A while back I was at the dog park and bitching to a group of friends about Logan's school situation and how frustrated I was, a woman who overhead the conversation asked "have you had someone from the autism team come and observe him?"
"The Autism Team? What is this thing you speak of?", I asked perplexed.
I believe people come into your life for a purpose. And clearly God put her in front of me to offer some assistance on this journey. Apparently there is a team of people who come into the classrooms and observe the student and offer advice and tools to help aid their learning style. They also train the teachers and staff on how to accommodate the child's individual needs. And the best part...you ready for this...they are county employees!!! So no more excuses!!!

Jon and I called an emergency IEP meeting and with the help of my dog park friend used the proper language that would put the special education team in motion. We asked to have someone from the Autism Team to observe Logan in his classroom. We had a short list of demands that we made apparent to them beforehand.
1. We want Logan to repeat Kindergarten. His birthday is one week before the cut-off. He's one of the youngest in his class and with his delays he would benefit being one of the older kids instead of one of the younger ones.
2. We want the teacher and staff trained on how to teach and communicate with someone on the spectrum.
3. Logan needs an aide. End of story.

A woman from the Autism Team observed him for a week and at the IEP meeting she basically agreed with everything we wanted! I felt like I could do cartwheels down the conference table. Jon and I both left feeling so hopeful.
A few weeks went by and then the Vice Principle stopped me in the hall and informed me that she hired an aide for Logan and she will be starting in a few weeks before the end of the school year. I left the school with a smile on my face for the first time. The very first time!

Ms. Drew, Logan's aide, has been with him for a two weeks she will continue to be his aide next year also. On the second day when I met her outside after school she gave me hug, she was so excited to be working with Logan and talked on and on about all of the amazing things he told her and how she felt like she has made a real connection with him just on day 2. She kept saying "he's such an amazing kid!". Yes I know! God I've been trying to get someone at this freakin' school to see that all year! Finally someone sees him for the amazing person he is! Finally!!! She is such a caring and loving person, I am so very thankful this is the woman who will help Logan navigate school on a daily basis.

The rhino I've been carrying on my shoulders has jumped off for a while, giving me just enough room to take a deep breath.
thank you. thank you dog park friend. thank you.

6/03/2009

Minor League Baseball Tickets


Kraft singles and the minor league baseball association have teamed up to offer Buy 1 ticket get 1 free for every Tuesday night game this summer. All you have to do is bring a kraft singles package wrapper to the ballpark to take advantage of this great deal.
It's been on our to-do list for awhile. Possibly now we might cross it off.

6/01/2009

Simplicity

I've been feeling a little crowded in our tiny house. We are use to moving each year, typically would do a major purge in the pack it up process, but because we are fast approaching year 2 of living in the same house I'm feeling...crowded.
Time to do something about that.
I came across Rebecca's flickr stream and it inspired me to get rid of some stuff. Her collection of "corners of my home" is breathtaking, the picture posted here is from that collection. God I want to live there! The open space to just be and create and dance! This living room picture makes me want to blast the music and dance with my kids.
So I started, not in the living room, but in our bedroom which is the most unromatic room in the house and was needing some TLC. And my first thought was to get rid of one of our wardrobes and try and fit all of our clothes into one and the teeny tiny closet. So I stood in front of a full length mirror and tried every piece of clothing on. If I caught myself saying, "oh I could cover this stain with a cool DIY brooch".
Nope, gone.
Or if something like a tank top can only be worn with one particular shirt or vice versa.
Gone.
The "haven't worn it in a year" rule doesn't really apply to SAHMs. My typical uniform is t-shirts and jeans but I do get asked occationally to go out and then that non-playground-approved dress gets dusted off and the push up bra gets it's moment in the spotlight. Today we dropped off 5 (garbage bag sized) bags of clothing at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and I also gave 2 bags to a friend who has a son younger than mine. And I'm still not done. Toys are next. There is no reason to have as many batmans as we do. Or star trek guys... or any of it.
I am channeling simplicity. Hoping my kids embrace the less is more mentality.
Wish me luck!

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