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.

1/22/2013

Math Power Towers



During a parent teacher conference with one of my son's teachers it came to my attention that the children who are the hands-on type of learners don't often get to tap into that skill. I'm a hands-on learner myself and often as a child wished that I could learn by doing in school. Our ideas are often formed by our own personal experiences and when it comes to learning I try and create games that are not only educational but FUN and that don't involve sitting and writing because I feel like my boys get enough of that during their day in school as it is.

If you haven't seen Teacher Tipster videos, go there directly after reading this. He has some awesome videos on teaching children place values, time, and this is where I got the idea for math power tower.

I purchased the dixie cups from Costco and on the bottom of each cup you write a math fact, I made addition and subtraction sets for my younger son and a multiplication set for my older son. Inside each cup is the answer. The idea is that the child reads the math fact and if he/she answers correctly they can build a tower with each cup. What kid doesn't love building!

I've now made sets for both of my son's homeroom teachers so that the teacher can incorporate it into their classroom learning environment. To store the cups I used tennis ball containers but you can also use a Pringles can. I picked up the labels for the cans from this blog, she offers a free download.

Of course these towers can also be made using sight words too! And while you make one for your kids, make a set for your child's classroom as well- the teacher will be thrilled!
P.S.- Pajamas are optional.

1/16/2013

College Park Patch: A Leader Among Them

On a beautiful fall day, I notice a group of children discover a dead squirrel lying in a parking space on the side of the road. I've seen these children playing together on the corner playground after school each day, their age’s range from kindergarten to third grade. At first they stand around the squirrel talking about it, staring intently.

By the looks on almost all of their faces, it seems this is the first time that any of them had seen something dead, in real life. I am mesmerized by the children and stand back from the group wanting to see for myself how this is going to play out. It seems somewhat like observing a social experiment.
The children stand on the curb by the side of the road, knowing if they step foot off the curb their parent will call out from across the playground (where we all gather to talk), “Get out of the street." I can tell that huddled together around this dead animal, they are coming up with a plan.

They are determined to get it out of the street and buried. The smallest boy of the group continuously informs the other children, “We need to get it out of the street.” He begins to bark orders to the other children, assigning a few children to find sticks and begin digging the hole to bury the squirrel. And then telling the rest of the group, “We need to pick it up and carry it to the hole”.

Many a “Ewww!!! I’m not touching it!” can be heard from the remaining children. Burying the squirrel seemed like a good idea until there was mention of actually touching it! The bickering on who was going to do it goes on for several minutes.

My oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum, is pacing the perimeter of the playground, as he is sometimes known to do. Today, he is not engaging in the group experiment. My youngest is a part of the group, and remains very quiet, standing the furthest away from the dead animal. While the children continue to argue over the technique to use to get the squirrel over to the hole being dug, the parents hear mention of touching it, and we all shout “DO NOT TOUCH THE SQUIRREL!”

One parent goes over to explain how it could have diseases and it’s never a good idea to touch any animal that you find dead. “Just leave it alone," she says to them and turns and walks back to the rest of us, who are standing on the sidelines talking.

The moment the mom turns her back, the children are back to arguing over new technique ideas that they just thought of, each child passionate and convinced their idea is the one that will solve the problem.

Maybe you’ve seen this scene before, around a conference table at work, amongst your siblings or family members? The ages may be slightly older, but these children are clearly imitating the adults in their lives, negotiating and strategising to come up with the best possible solution.

As the children are arguing, one of the smallest girls leaves the group with determination on her face and a furrowed brow. She is searching the ground for something. The other children call over to her to come back to the group, but she is persistent in her search and eventually finds what she is looking for.

She grabs a big stick and walks back to the group. There is no discussion, she never tells them what she is doing—just does it. She has the look on her face that I’ve seem many women before her wearing, the look that says, “I’m just going to do this myself, so that it gets done!”

The stick is only inches shorter than her and it takes both hands for her to hold it. She ventures off the curb and begins to slide the squirrel over to the curb. It’s a slow process. With each gentle maneuver, the other children scream and jump because suddenly the squirrel looks as if it’s come back to life.
Her courage at times begins to wane, but then she looks at all of the children who are watching her and it ignites her determination to keep going. The smallest boy tries to tell her how to do it, her short curly hair swings when she snaps her head in his direction and gives him a look that says, “Don’t even try to tell me what to do!”
TO CONTINUE READING CLICK HERE

1/15/2013

Routine

"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."
                -Judy Garland

1/14/2013

College Park Patch: Advice for a New Mom

One of my dear friends just had a baby, her fourth. She’s an experienced mom who has gone through the trials of motherhood. She knows the sleepless nights, has mastered nursing in public, and she already knows how to use one hand to feed herself while nursing her baby and correcting an older child’s homework at the same time. None of this is new for her. In a way though, it is. This time the bundle of love lying in her arms is a boy!

As an (ahem) experienced mom to two boys, I have this urge to fill her with advice. I had to stifle myself when I was at her house for a visit to meet the new little one. I wanted to shower her with my words of wisdom, an avalanche on her tired brain.

I grew up in a family of girls; I’m the youngest of five. When I gave birth to a boy, I had no idea what to do with one. I knew how to play Barbies and dress up; not just from my own upbringing but all of my sisters had daughters of their own.

My friend is a phenomenal mother, I watch her with her children and I’m amazed by her patience. But this new gender in her family dynamic is going to shift the way she has always parented. And it’s going to make her notice things in our society about gender, what is expected of her son but not of her daughters. Expectations of his behavior and family traditions that weren’t addressed before he was born will suddenly become important to certain family members.
What would my advice be?
TO CONTINUE READING CLICK HERE

1/08/2013

Routine


Some days- this is the hardest decision you have to make.
On other days... remember.... that it is simply a choice.

1/07/2013

Sublime Stitching Embroidered Bird Pillow


One of my personal goals is to create covers for the throw pillows on our sofa and to change them seasonally. We live in a small house, storing several seasonal decorations is not really an option.
Changing covers on the pillows is a great way for me to decorate for the holidays and seasons without compromising our living space.

This pattern is from Sublime Stitching Craft Pad. I embroidered the design on white cotton fabric and then coordinated the additional cotton prints with our living room decor.

1/01/2013

Routine


During the hustle and bustle of the holidays I made sure to roll out my yoga mat, even with jeans on and a mere hour before my family arrived for dinner I rolled out the mat and did five rounds of Surya Namaskara A.
My spirit needed the time to breathe. And my soul needed to feel connected to my body. I needed to tune in to me.

“All your wounds from craving love
Exist because of heroic deeds.” -Hafiz


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