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.



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Fish Word Game: using paint chip samples

I'm often trying to reinvent new games to play with my boys that are educational, fun and non-electronic! This game incorporates math, spelling and writing!
First I printed fish from this PDF file onto card stock, and adhered them on paint samples that I had leftover from the living room paint decision. On each fish I wrote a letter of the alphabet, I also included some additional letters that are popular (vowels, S, N, G, R, T) to make longer words.
I then hole punched the end of each chip and put a brass fastener on each end, I had these on hand if you don't have them you could also use paperclips.

I used a dowel rod as the fishing line and cut a strip of fleece and hot glued it to the dowel rod. On the other end of the fleece I hot glued a magnet.

To play the game the child rolls a dice two times, adding the numbers together to get the number of fish that he should try and get on his fishing rod. Once he has the letters he should lay them out in front of him and try and see how many words he can create with those letters. Write each word on a piece of paper. If two children are playing the child who makes the most words out of the selected letters "wins". 
I love that this game can be played solo or in a group. I'm going to make a set to give to each of the boys' teachers as gifts. I think any classroom would enjoy this during indoor recess or "specials". 


College Park Patch: Choosing a Work Schedule that Puts the Kids First

This article was originally published on the College Park Patch. 
“It’s not fair,” whines the six-year-old as I inform him it’s time to brush his teeth and get ready for school.
I exhale, louder than I anticipate, and reply: “I know it’s not fair that I care so much about your teeth and your education. It must be difficult to have such a caring mom … Now go brush your teeth.”
I reach over and give him a tickle while trying to corral him up the steps. He drops to his knees and says again with a hint more of frustration, “No, it’s not fair that we don’t see Daddy!”
I stop in my tracks. Clearly this is not a power struggle about the morning routine and instead a bigger issue. Even though we are running five minutes behind schedule, I sit on the step and reply, “I don’t understand? You see Daddy every other week. Last week was Daddy’s week and this week is Mommy’s week.”
“But it’s not fair for Daddy. You get to see us all the time and he doesn’t.”
My children are growing up in a divorced family; their father and I share custody on a weekly basis. The only difference is that I take the boys to school and pick them up from school every day, even on their father’s week.
I try my best to explain: “Last year, you guys went to before-and-after care, but this year since I have a different job I can pick you up and we can do fun things like go to the playground and play with your toys, instead of having to spend even more time at school.”
I am choosing to only work when the boys are in school so that they don’t have to endure daycare. Last year when my work schedule involved a long commute, I would pick up my oldest son, who is on the Autism Spectrum, from daycare and I would find him in a corner, crying with his hands over his ears, eyes puffy and red, because the level of noise was too much for him to endure.
And my heart would break, every single time I had to see him struggle in this environment and wake up with anxiety about going there again. 



“The key to change… is to let go of fear.” – Rosanne Cash
You are an All Star!



"Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me"
 - The King and I


Birthday Gift for Men

Finding birthday gifts for men are always challenging for me. Especially men who have everything they want or need.
My cousin recently turned 50 and I didn't want to do an "over the hill" type of gift but I also didn't want to just buy him an Under Armour shirt either. I decided to put a different spin on his gift. Did you see the basket that I made for a male cousin when he turned 30? I was thinking of doing that again but instead I picked up a basket at the dollar store and then filled it with food items that were made in the 60's, when he was born. The Granny Smith apple wasn't made in the 60's but interestingly enough it was introduced in the USA in the 60's!

Everyone at the party loved this idea and I could see the wheels spinning in their heads on who on their list that they could recreate this birthday gift for!

On the card I wrote:
"Everything in this basket is also turning 50! I think you are in good company."


Gift for Teenage Boy

I have no idea what teenage boys are interested in, but I do know that all teenagers like money! I prefer to give teens the amount of money of the age they are turning. My cousin Patrick turned 15 and instead of putting a five and a ten dollar bill in a card I thought this was a bit more clever.


Search and Find Game for Valentines

A friend found these great, felt hearts on clearance after Christmas at Target and gave me what she had leftover from her Valentine's craft project. Originally these hearts were Christmas ornaments.

I've been meaning to find a way to incorporate them into a craft but haven't gotten around to it, maybe I'll make a garland or a wreath. Until the spark of creativity strikes I am using them as a "good morning search and find" game. Every night I hide two hearts somewhere in the house and the boys leap out of bed to look for them.

I love this activity because there isn't a prize at the end, the boys don't really want to even play with's all about the hunt.

Cut hearts out of construction paper and hide them around your house.
Consider it a week-off, for you, from the power struggle of getting the kids out of bed to get ready for school!


Another Knit Eternity Scarf

My niece wasn't the only one on my gift list who received a knit eternity scarf this year, my sister-in-law was a lucky recipient as well. For this knitted eternity scarf I used a cotton and a cotton/bamboo mix yarn. I love the color combination. I decided not to use a continual pattern and just mixed it up between double knit, knit and purl etc. Nothing too fancy, but the lack of pattern I find really pleasing on the eye and makes it unique.

Why don't you give it a try? Cast on and knit-purl for a while and then double knit, double purl...see what happens. What is the worst that could happen?
You may real like how it turns out!


Ninja Dolls

My youngest son who is six years old loves stuffed animals, which he calls "cuddly friends". It's hard to find stuffed animals that are "boyish". Most stuffed animals are marketed towards girls and the ones that could be gender neutral typically are in pink packaging or will have pictures of little girls holding the elephant/monkey/dog on the box. Once my son sees this type of packaging it instantly means to him that it's suppose to be "for girls" and sadly he is not interested in playing with it.

I decided this year for Christmas every boy on our list was getting a doll, a stuffed ninja doll! We couldn't possibly be the only family having this issue with stuffed animals being marketed to girls and yet our boys want them.

I drew the pattern out on paper and used different types of fabric, cottons and flannels, the masks were all felt with embroidered eyes. I also made swords, you can't be a ninja without a sword! At least my boys think that. I added a thick interfacing inside the sword to make it slightly stiff. To attached the sword I  hand sewed it to the ninja's back.

All the boys who received a ninja doll loved it and my heart felt so good seeing them being enjoyed. It's okay for boys to have "cuddly friends", why can't the toy industry understand that?


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