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.


Update:Quilt top in 3 hours-FINISHED!

A while back I posted a quilt top that I made in 3 hours while Zane napped, well I finished it! I used a plain sheet for the backing that I got off of freecycle and cotton batting. Logan loves it and sleeps under it every night. I don't think I will be tackling a big one like this for a while. This one is a twin size and was more than I could handle at times, free motion quilting it. I'm going to stick with the lap throws for awhile until I have this quilting thing a bit more mastered.


What is on the needles....

Recently found out that 3 very special people in my life are having babies. So the yarn has been cast on and I am ready to sit and knit and create something beautiful for each of these miracles. I loved receiving blankets from people when my boys were born. We still have all of them and both boys still sleep under the blankets that my mom and Jon's mom made.

Jon's Auntie sent me a box of yarn, mostly acrylic...very basic. Perfect for a baby blanket. I don't like using the fancy yarn for baby's blankets. These blankets need to stand up to everything that will come their way...puke, baby food, formula, rain, snow, mud. Wash and Dry, folks.

Even though 2 of the babies are boys I like to create neutral blankets. That way if they happen to have another baby it could be used again and it wouldn't matter if it was a boy or girl.
I'm hoping to do something a little different with this blanket. I'm going to fuse knitting and quilting into one project. Don't worry I'll show you the finished product, stay tuned.


Leo the Late Bloomer- Book Review

We recently checked out this book at the library and I fell in love with it. I love the overall message. The main character is Leo and while all of his friends are writing neatly, reading and talking quietly, Leo has yet to master these skills. Of course while reading it I think of Logan and how he feels as school with everyone around him writing neatly and cutting in straight lines. Eventually when no one is looking Leo blossoms and someday Logan will too.


Peanut Butter Jar Storage

We go through a lot of peanut butter in our house. And I mean a lot! So much that I've been feeling as though I should come up with other uses for the jars instead of throwing them right away in the recycle bin. I featured an idea before using them as storage for kids toys, and it's proven to be a great way to keep those little lego pieces in check and to house all those accessories that comes with toys. In my house it's "blasters" AKA: guns that come with star wars characters or swords but I've been to a few houses that have been overrun with Barbie shoes that it would be perfect for also.
Well recently I started using them as food storage for the freezer. Why I never thought of this before now..who knows! But it's great for storing things that could spill after being defrosted like sauces and such. But the best part is that they fit perfectly on the shelf on the freezer door.
Just remember to never microwave the peanut butter jars because they will melt. Trust me. :)


DIY Cat Scratching Pad

Jon saw this post on Lifehacker about making your own cat scratching pad out of recycled cardboard and he totally got into it this weekend. The cats are totally digging it too. If you have kitties I highly suggest making one of these. It's insane the prices of these types of things at the pet store!


Organizing Books by Season

My boys own a lot of books and we also check out a lot of books every other week from the library. This past weekend we went to a giant book sale at one of our local libraries and after coming home and putting the books on the shelves I knew I had to organize. Books were getting damaged or completely forgotten and never read because there were too many on the shelves. So I sat down and divided them up into seasons. So every season we will change the library of books in their room. I think this is going to be really fun for them. Some of the books are not necessarily about a season but it's clear that they take place during a particular season. Take Cat in the Hat, for example, it takes place in the winter when there is snow on the ground. If you find yourself swimming in kids' books instead of getting rid of them, try this instead. Keep it fresh for everyone. Lord knows there are a few that make me do the happy dance since I won't have to read them every freakin' day.


The labels don't fit

I just recently met a recess monitor at Logan's school and when she learned I was Logan's mom I got that"OH!, that kid!" eyes wide, eyebrows raised.

The other women standing there at that moment most likely didn't notice but I sure did. It's not the first time I've gotten that look. After the moment has passed and the playground is clear of kids those 5 seconds of my day lurches in my stomach.

Logan is THAT kid for most of the workers who have no idea he has an IEP and what is on it, they have no idea that he is on the Autism Spectrum. To them I'm sure he's labeled "strange", "weird", "difficult"...I could go on and on for I've been there as women on the playground talk/gossip about another child who happens to fit those labels too. Not knowing as they look on at my Nuero-typical child, Zane, that I have another child just like the one they are all talking about. I know now what has to happen and I wish I thought of this at the beginning of the school year, but alas I didn't. I need to write a short letter to each person in the school who deals with Logan. A cliff note version of how to interact with someone on the Autism Spectrum because it's very clear they have never dealt with a child on the spectrum nor is the school training them in these areas. Ha! That's laughable because the county won't even train the teachers who know Logan's IEP!

I was actually hesitant on doing this at the beginning of the school year because I don't want Logan to be known as the "autistic kid" in his school. I don't want the autism to be how they only see him. Clearly we live in an environment where people are not as open minded as we first perceived. Instead of thinking that Logan is interesting because he does things differently, he is only observed by how different he is and to them that means he's being defiant.

Oh moments like these make my heart ache for Seattle. In Seattle, as I'm sure many other cities on the left coast, people raise their families differently. In Seattle it isn't uncommon to find yourself in a room full of breast feeding, attachment parenting, family bed sharing mamas and papas. It's funny that I know those things would also get the "weird" label here in Greenbelt, if one of the kids in Logan's kindergarten class drew a picture of sharing a bed with his parents I have no doubt that an eyebrow would be raised and a conference with the parents would be made thinking the worst.

It's so sad that the child who beats everyone up on the playground is more accepted by the adults then my kid who sits off to the side of the other kids and plays in the dirt. Or throws himself on the ground or into people over and over again. (this is a clear sign of being over stimulated in his environment.)
It just breaks my heart that this is the mentality here...maybe I'm not an east coaster after all. Or maybe I just need a different city.
( the picture is Logan being over stimulated in a crowd at Mt Vernon)


Valentine Cards

I want to say right up front that I can NOT take credit for this idea. My dear friend Corie sent us a Valentine's card and after reading on the back the list of what her kids love, I had to "borrow" the idea for Logan's school cards. What a great way to give the recipient a glimpse into what the child is interested in. I did something similar for a layout for the boys' birthday, something I hope to make a tradition within my scrapbooks. Because Logan has absolutely no interest in anything craft related, and I just can't give out the commercial cards, I decided to save myself some time and do it all digitally. I got the background paper from Shabby Princess, they have a ton of totally free downloads of entire color coordinated digital scrapbooking kits. Worth a look if you ever wanted to give digital scrapbooking a try.


Crochet Hat with a Brim

As much as I love our puppy Dharma, I will be glad when she outgrows her puppiness of eating things. She's never destroyed furniture, THANK GOD! But many little Star Wars guys are missing arms or legs, socks have lost their mate and now the most recently destroyed item was Logan's winter hat that I made him. I wasn't too upset, honestly, because even after making it I wished I had made it slightly longer. So now a new hat had to be made while we still have moments of winter surrounding us. Jon's Auntie sent me a box of odds and ends of yarn, I can never turn down free yarn, so I made Logan pick something out of that stash and then I convinced him to let me add a bit of the matching variegated yarn but "just a little bit!", Logan informed me with a stern look as if I had other intentions.

UPDATE: After only owning the hat for one day, Logan has lost it at school. Thankfully only my time was wasted.


Self Taught: Photoshop

If you happen to have Photoshop on your computer don't be intimidated by the buttons, tools etc. It's not as hard as it seems. And remember you don't need to learn how to do everything, just the things you are interested in learning. Professional photographers won't show you their straight out of the camera shot, of course they are happy to show you the finished photoshoped picture. They don't want you to see the before. But I think that if you are trying to learn photoshop you need to see the before. I've been lucky to know a professinal photographer, Ryan Benyi, he didn't teach me photoshop but he has been so helpful in answering my random questions. How was I taught??...searching on google! I simply type the kind of photoshop I have and the tutorial I am interested in learning, for example: Photoshop CS3 lighting tutorial. There are some amazing tutorials and videos out there like this one. Of course with learning anything it involves lots of practice and lots of really bad processed pictures. But as I go I learn more and more of the things I'm interested in learning. Here is my before:

This is the after:It's never too late to learn!


Nothing is a Mistake Hoop

I recently came across this John Cage quote and knew I wanted to have it somewhere in our house. The guest room seemed the perfect place. What is really funny is that this finish product is the result of a mistake. See I wanted to embroider the quote so I printed it on an iron on transfer paper and after pressing it on the fabric I realized that that wouldn't be possible, because of the iron on stuff you would see every hole that the needle would make and that would just look bad. So I almost scrapped the idea all together at this point but then I read the quote again and I thought to myself, "i gotta figure out a way..."
I had this small scrap of a home decor fabric print that I love so I cut the quote in strips and hand sewed them to the fabric. I like that the quote looks like tags from my label maker (ya know I love my label maker!). I then pulled out the embroidery floss and embroidered around the fabric print. I'm totally loving how this turned out and I'm thinking it may be a future gift idea for someone special.


Personalized Baby Blocks

I was asked by friends to create a gift for a new baby. They totally gave me creative freedom, oh how I love orders like that! This is what I made for the brand new baby. Personalized baby blocks. Each side of the block is a different texture and fabric pattern to engage the baby's senses and then filled with polyfill till each one was nice and plush. Each letter is made from felt and I also added a ribbon to each block for the baby to grab. And the best part is that some of the blocks have bells sewn in the inside so that they rattle. I hope sweet Gavin enjoys his new treasure.


Still not happy...

You all may remember the struggles we've been having with Logan's school. If not you can read it here and here and here.

Well last I wrote we were requesting him to change classes...well that didn't happen. After having many meetings with his teacher and working out some of the kinks...and I will say she has done a lot of changing for the better....I'm still not happy.

Now that I volunteer in the classroom once a week I get to see first hand how Logan is still being "left behind". He'd really benefit from an aide but the county has a hiring freeze and not to mention they don't pay those people well so the quality of folks applying is typically less than desired. Granted I have met some wonderful aides but I've also met (more) not so wonderful ones too. And I can't be in his classroom every day for the rest of his life, by his side helping him navigate the world. So we are looking at other options which means private schools. I'm in sticker shock with the non-religious schools...I can't justify spending what a year of state college tuition would cost for kindergarten. So if that means he has to pray during school- so be it!
Both Jon and I went to Catholic elementary schools so we're fine with that route.

Also after a recent county budget cut meeting they announced that they were closing more public schools which means more kids in each classroom. Already there are 23 kids in his class and it's way to many. The teacher having to manage so many kids means Logan is never getting the attention that he needs to stay on task. I fear what he would become if we kept him in the public school system, to be honest.
I've started touring local Catholic and Christian schools and all in all I'm excited about their class sizes. Praying they remain small in the fall when we would enroll Logan. And although he won't be getting the same services (OT & ST) that he is getting in the public school, I think having more one on one time with a teacher is what he needs more of. We will always do private Speech Therapy so I'm just not that concerned about it in the school, and I don't really see a lot of progress being made anyway in the school.

As always I will keep you updated on the situation...I pray that our new president will be the president to change education for the better in our country. I know in my heart that Logan is not the only child "being left behind". The difference is he has the parents that won't allow it to happen.


Rag Rug Mat

I don't know how it is with girls, since I don't have any, but with 2 boys we are swimming in t-shirts. I took the stack that both boys have outgrown or that had holes from back in the day when Dharma had puppy teeth and would bite onto the back of their shirts. I cut each t-shirt in one continuous strip. Imagine peeling an apple and trying to get that long curly piece. I start at the bottom and then when finished, simply tie the pieces together to form one big ball of "yarn". The strips are about 1/2 inch in width and I just eyeball that part, it's not an exact science. Using a large crochet hook (I used a P) I single crocheted the rug to the size I wanted. I've started on another one for our entry way. I'm hooked, no pun intended.


The CPSIA Mandatory Testing & Certification Has Been Suspended for a Year

I am totally doing the happy dance over here in Maryland. As of right now the law has been suspended for 1 year, which hopefully will give them enough time to make amendments and rewrite the very broad written law as it stands now. Read more about it here on Etsy.
Get ready for some new Aunt Art products coming your way!


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