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.

11/30/2010

Routine


Who would think this is a good idea?

11/29/2010

Going off the grid


This news video struck home for me.  I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  I love that I can easily get in contact with friends from years ago.  Facebook has brought people back into my life, people who I have missed, people who I am thankful to call friend again.  But it's also a beast in pulling my attention. There are times when I wish my friend would pick up the phone and call me instead of posting on my wall and I am just as guilty of sending a quick text when it is convenient for me instead of making human contact.  A friend recently sent me an email and in it said "by the look of facebook things have been going good for you."  Well sure.  On facebook things appear to be great.  And though granted life is pretty great for me right now I have my "bad" days just like everyone else, I just don't post it in my status updates.  I like to keep my corner of the web as a happy place.  That doesn't mean that I don't wish for a friend to reach out for support.  We are living in a world where people over share about every aspect of their lives from "my kid just went poop on the potty" to announcing a divorce/birth for everyone to see all at once.  It's the illusion of bringing us closer together when in fact it is pulling us farther apart.

I'm trying to be more aware of it.  Making the choice to tune out a little bit in order to tune in to real life relationships.  I need spend more time tuning in to what is right in front of me.  I've had weekends where I have gone off the grid, not checking my email or facebook or twitter feed for days on end.  Mostly it is during a vacation when I should be enjoying the scenery.  I wonder what would happen if we all tuned out of social media for one day.  Just one day, give it up.  Call a friend instead of messaging her, plan a lunch date instead of reading each other's walls.
I wonder...I wonder what the world will be like if we tuned out more.

11/25/2010

Spreading Joy

Life becomes busy and you bustle from one thing to another and many times you forget to stop and appreciate the wonderful people in your life.  I made a point to remember those special people this year and surprised a few friends with a bit of joy on their doorstep.

I picked up some sweaters at the thrift store and felted them in order to create a few fall crafts I had in mind.  I traced the shapes of leaves and then on the sewing machine stitched the veins on each leaf.  Adding a felted ball with an acorn top along with a simple note thanking each person for being in my life.
Here are the directions I used in order to create the felted balls. 

Take a moment today and spread your own Joy, tell the people you love that you appreciate them.
Thank you for coming here and reading my words, your comments mean so very much to me.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

11/24/2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Questions

A few years ago I wrote a post about dinner party conversations and when I saw this great idea over at Skip to My Lou I knew I had to use it for my Thanksgiving dinner this year.  I printed out the questions on card stock and hole punched the corner so that they would all fit on a binder ring.  This way we can pass the mini book around the table and each take a turn reading a question and answering them.  If you don't have time to do that just print them off and have the kids cut on the dotted lines.  Place them in a bowl or glass jar so they are within reach on your Thanksgiving day table.  I hope this starts a new tradition of enjoying the moment with those whom you are feasting with.

Click here to print out the PDF for the questions.

11/22/2010

Baltimore Dollar Days 2010

It's that time again!  The boys and I will be doing a repeat of last year and traveling to the Maryland Science Center, who doesn't want to lay on a bed of nails! There are so many great places to choose from for both kids and adults and for only a buck!
Mark your calendar: December 4-5th, 2010
Click here to check out the list of participating museums.

11/18/2010

Corner of my Home

I previously talked about Rebecca's flickr stream in a post about Simplicity, and I was thinking of her the other day when I was working on my Project Life book and wanting to capture my house as it is right now.  I love how Rebecca captures simple corners of her home.  I want to do more of that so my kids and I can look back and see how things change over the years.
This is a corner of my home right now.
  • This is my favorite chair, I love the color and I love the lines.  I picked it up at a thrift store and kept it's color and imperfections in place.  
  • The drawer I use as book storage and I picked that up from the Community Forklift
  • A picture of my dearest girlfriends, The Jitterbugs, in a picture frame that Wendi made as my going away gift.  
  • Nesting dolls that were sadly a short lived item at Ikea.
  • A vintage globe.
  • a vintage Nikon 35mm camera that kids are allowed to pick up and play with.
  • a basket filled with knitting and crochet projects that are still in progress. 
  • And a stack of kids' games ready to be pulled out and played.
Capture a corner of your home and create a scrapbook layout around it.  What do you love about the items in the picture? Where did it come from?  What is special to you right now?   

    11/16/2010

    Routine

    Sunday mornings are spent staring through a glass door, sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair as I watch the boys at swim team practice.  In my family you had to be a swimmer, there wasn't really a choice.  All of my sisters were swimmers, we all grew up with our names in the paper displaying our current times and records. 
    I am thankful that my parents had us on the swim team, as a kid I dreaded the early morning practices and even now though my role has changed the early wake up is still not the highlight.  I enjoy watching the boys learn what is and will become a life skill.  They will always be swimmers now.  Once it's in you...it's in you for life.  It becomes your salvation.  Your place of peace.  I have so many fond memories of swimming and as I lean down to kiss one of my sons' sweet faces I breathe them in, that smell of chlorine floods my senses and reminds me of peace, of calm, of happiness.

     

    11/15/2010

    It takes a villiage...


    I hate baby shower games.  I understand why people do it though, you are combining people from different parts of one person's life and they may or may not get along or have anything in common.  You need an activity.  For my cousin Sarah's baby shower I promised her that we will not be measuring her baby belly to see who cut the ribbon the exact length to fit around her swollen midsection.  Who thought this game was a good idea?  Hey, let's make fun of the really HUGE person who feels like crap and is about to burst at any second...great idea!  (can you hear the sarcasm?)   I also promised that we would not be smelling diapers to guess what gross mystery thing is inside, again not a good game to have around a pregnant woman who is sensitive to smell.  After doing some research for games I came up empty.  So instead of a game I decided to have each guest fill out a card.  On the card it said: 

     It takes a village to raise a child - African proverb
    I promise…

    Each person at the baby shower declared a promise to this baby, I think it's pretty special and I hope something that many years later will be pulled out and re read.  I combined all of the cards and the pictures taken that day into a mini scrapbook album for Sarah.  For the scrapbook  paper I used the same exact paper I used on the celebration banner and the diaper cakes at the shower and then binder rings to complete the book.
    And I promise you, dear readers, this will be the last post about the baby shower, well this baby shower.  :)  
    In case you missed any previous posts here are the links:


       

    And here is the sweet baby we were all celebrating.   
    Elizabeth Beatrice!

    11/10/2010

    Shrug

    I call it Zen Knitting.  The ladies in my knitting group smile to each other as I pull out my latest project of zen knitting as they attempt to tackle hard patterns and balls of beautiful delicate yarn.  I just like to cast on and see what happens.    I make a lot of scarves and blankets but recently I made this awesome shrug.  It was so simple!  If you can knit a scarf you can knit a shrug.  I didn't use a pattern, I cast on enough stitches that would fit around my upper arm and then did row after row of knit and purl until it was the desired length.  I then stitched up the arms from the end to where my arm pit hit, this took a few times of trying it on and taking it off till I hit the perfect part...some people measure with a measuring tape...I find that the try on-take off approach works for me. :)

    11/09/2010

    Routine

    Came across this mural on the side of a building in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.  I wish this was part of my daily routine.

    11/08/2010

    Ignorance

    Something happened this weekend and I can't seem to shake it.
    Still days later, I'm replaying it in my mind and wondering how I could have dealt with it differently, what could I have said, how do I react in the future when this happens again?
    I was at a dinner party, thrown by my dearest friend who invited some women that she is friends with while I was in town visiting her. A lesbian couple.
    The food was fantastic, and up to this point the conversation was clicking along. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. And then one of the women, whom we will call Tara, begins to tell a story about a friend of theirs who is autistic. I may have scooted closer to the end of my seat, a sure sign of being engaged and interested in what she had to say. Head tilted slightly, smiling encouragingly in their direction. And then Tara begins to mock and make fun of their friend and her ritualistic routines and lifestyle. I feel as though I've been struck in the stomach. This is not where I thought the conversation was going. I'm at a loss of words and trying to find a way to interject and warn them to shut up because they are breaking bread with a mom of an autistic child! But I can't make words leave my mouth and Tara won't stop talking for anyone to interject. And then my dear friend who is hosting this party finds the moment to say "Gretchen's oldest son is on the spectrum and he's really great and...."
    Tara doesn't get it and she continues.

    I feel so stunned that I'm concentrating on not crying because I'm the type of person that can either go to tears or yell in these moments when I feel like I've had the wind taken from me. I start to explain how awesome Logan is and that his routines and styles of learning are fascinating. I explain how Logan was obsessed with Thomas the Train and how I used that to teach him about actual trains and the routes they take and geography. And she mocked me and continued to make fun of autistic people to my face and it seemed to go on forever but I'm sure in reality it only lasted a few minutes. My friend thankfully stopped the conversation and shuffled them outside for a cigarette while I gathered dishes and began to wash them while crying in the kitchen and downing a glass of wine. Or two.

    And I don't know what angers me more...the things Tara said or that my friend didn't warn them that this is a hot button topic for me or that she even has to warn a lesbian couple to not make fun of other people.
    Or that she didn't stand up for me the way I had hoped she would.
    Once the party was over I confronted her about it and she apologized profusely, as any adult would and agreed that if she invited a friend over that was physically disabled she would have warned her guests but that she feels like Logan is doing so much better and she doesn't think of him like that.
    She kept saying that.
    And sure Logan is doing great! He's making huge strides. But that doesn't discount all the work that goes into it. He's always going to be autistic. Just because he's not having huge public meltdowns anymore doesn't mean that he's not finding this world difficult to function in. It doesn't mean that my job is any easier in being his parent.
    I'm really trying to concentrate on how this scenario could have played out differently. What can I do in the future? Because I know that this will happen again, I'll meet another ignorant person who is judgmental and uneducated about autism and though I want to be an advocate for my son I can't stand when I am in situations where I have to explain him and justify his actions, I feel as though I am trying to sell them something.
    Maybe it is as simple as excusing myself, removing myself from the situation.
    Maybe I can't be the token autism mom and enlighten everyone that I come across.
    I do however hope that in the future my friends will also choose differently.

    11/03/2010

    Swag Bucks - search the internet and get "paid"

    Search & Win
    How many times have you heard that line- "get paid to search the internet".
    I'm like the rest of you and I always think it's a gimmick and I'm sure most times it is. A friend of mine told me about Swagbucks and at first I thought this was going to be too good to be true, what is the catch?
    Well I'm here to say it's pretty legit.
    That being said you get what you put into it. I'm going to be honest I don't do everything that I could do to earn swag bucks, I just don't have the time or desire to do it. I downloaded the search toolbar on my computer and every time I need to search for something on the internet I type it first into my swagbucks toolbar. Sometimes I earn swagbucks, sometimes I don't.
    You can then cash the swagbucks in for prizes or gift cards.
    I recently cashed mine in for $5 off Amazon gift cards. You will get an email with a $5 off code to use at checkout. I bought the boys books and movies on amazon for Christmas and used numerous gift cards so that the items ended up costing me NOTHING! Free super saver shipping and free swagbucks $. LOVE THAT!!
    So click the picture above and it will take you to the sign up page. Start searching and earning swagbucks so you can also get some free items for holiday presents!

    11/02/2010

    And the WINNER is...

    In the beginning of the month I held a giveaway for a mini scrapbook album and the winner is:

    wendi said...
    family, friends, fun... fresh rolls baking in the oven, saturday mornings... moments when my kids aren't fighting... kind words of encouragement... alone time.. creating.. dancing... all of those bring me joy.

    Scrapbook goodness is coming your way Wendi!  Congrats!
    I plan on having giveaways again so keep checking back.
    Thanks to everyone who participated.

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