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.

9/26/2012

College Park Patch: Accepting Your Special Needs Child

                                                                                              This article was originally published on the College Park Patch.

Children on the autism spectrum can have unique interests. My son, who is on that spectrum, has gone though many phases. Some have lasted longer than others, and not every one has been socially acceptable for a boy.
The train and superhero phase was pretty easy to accommodate, but when he decided he wanted a butterfly birthday party one year, it was not exactly easy to pull off for a boy. I’m not proud to admit that I convinced him to go a different direction and recycled some of the leftover superhero decorations from the year before.
Accepting your special needs child doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time. It doesn't come naturally for any parent to accept all of their quirks and interests.
It’s hard in the beginning to navigate the course, learning special diets, possibly medications, and scheduling the various therapy appointments. Eventually, though, it becomes second nature to you.
You learn how to help your child avoid meltdowns by not subjecting him or her to environments that cause breakdowns. You learn what lingo to use when talking to the specialists in your child’s Individualized Education Plan meeting. And you finally embrace who your child is.
My son is making leaps and bounds in his development, and right along with him I’m learning the lesson of acceptance.
This year my son wanted a New York City-themed birthday party. In school he had to do a report on the state of New York. It just so happened that he was born in New York City. While sharing his report with the class, he felt such pride that he was born somewhere that many of the children had never been to. And let’s be honest: NYC is a pretty cool place to be born!
Finding NYC decorations for a party was not easy. But that didn't stop this crafty-loving-mama!

9/24/2012

College Park Patch: Five Free Things To Do With Your Children


                                                                                           This article was originally published on the College Park Patch.
Many of my friends are having babies, and it’s a reminder for me that our children really do grow up fast. In ten years I doubt my son will say, “I wish mom sat on the sidelines more while I played baseball.”
I want my children to remember the time we spent together. I want them to look back on their childhood summers with a smile on their lips.
I spent the beginning of summer rushing from one summer camp to another trying to coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs at the same time in opposite parts of town. I was exhausted, and I caught myself snapping at the children every morning as I stressed about getting each child to camp on time.
To amplify that one of my children is on the Autism Spectrum, and if he is late for something that he knows starts at a particular time it will screw up his entire day. It’s as if he can’t let it go, he’ll continue to worry and think about it.  And needless to say he won’t be fun to be around.
As August approached I felt like we didn’t have much to show for our summer. Sure we went on vacation and the boys went to camp, but I didn’t feel like I had any quality time with my children. I know that once school starts, we will be overwhelmed with activities, PTA and homework.
Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working parent; I know you can sympathize with me. Maybe your summer has looked a lot like mine? Tonight change the course of your summer and do the five things listed below.
If your children whine or complain about doing them, say, “Instead we can do chores together? Would you rather wash the baseboards?”    
1. Give each member of your family a small memo pad and one marker, including the adults, and walk around your neighborhood drawing what you see. If you can text and walk, you can draw and walk.

9/21/2012

College Park Patch: Think Twice Before Posting Pictures Online

                                                                                                  This article was originally published on the College Park Patch.

“What is this?” my 7-year-old son asks, pointing at the computer screen, which has my Facebook news feed displayed.
“Oh that’s Facebook,” I reply nonchalantly as I come over to help him log on to a math computer game.
“But why am I on it?”
The look in his eye stopped me in my tracks and I am instantly reminded of a NPR story I heard recently about keeping kids safe online.
The story featured James Steyer, founder ofCommon Sense, an organization that helps parents decide which kinds of technology, movies, television shows, and apps are age-appropriate for their kids. The entire story was enlightening—but the part about posting pictures of your children online has stayed with me.
"I think you can be concerned about that because you never know why they're being used. You're creating a digital footprint. And some of the leading technology executives that I know never put up any pictures of their own children." Steyer warns.
"Once the photo or video is up, it's up there permanently. Even if you delete it, someone else may have already downloaded it or shared it online. So it's a record that's trackable and public and permanent. And your child will have to live with that and sometimes they don't want to. If you do opt to share baby pictures online, make sure your privacy settings are very carefully restricted," Steyer continues.
Our children are growing up in a digital age that is very different than when I was younger. I often joke with friends that I am so thankful that phones didn’t have cameras when I was in college!
I feel “old” when I lecture my twenty-something nieces about posting pictures of themselves doing shots with friends at nightclubs—they aren’t thinking about their job or a future promotion.
Since hearing the story on NPR, I’ve become increasingly aware of the type pictures of my children that I post on social media sites. I don’t want to mistakenly post embarrassing pictures that could later create problems for their careers.
If my son decides to run for President of the United States, will his opponent use pictures that were posted online, years ago, to run negative campaign ad campaigns against him?

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