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.


Pinwheels- using your scrapbook paper stash

This turned out to be a really fun craft that all of the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids enjoyed. What I wasn't able to capture was all the kids running around the playground with their pinwheels held high over their heads trying to get their pinwheel to spin faster by running faster! Brilliant activity to get the kids up and moving! I conducted this craft with children in kindergarten through second grade. My YogaKids are seasoned crafters and have exceptional fine motor skills, please be mindful that this craft involves sharp objects and children must be monitored the entire time while doing the craft. 

For each pinwheel you will need:
  • Wine cork
  • Wooden skewer
  • 1 bead
  • 1 sewing needle (The kind with the ball at the end, used for pinning the fabric)
  • 8x8 square piece of scrapbook paper
  • Scissors and a pencil

Have the child fold their paper into a triangle by bringing to points together, make the crease and then unfold. Do it again for the other side then unfold. You should have a giant X made by the creases on the paper. Have the child draw a circle in the very center of the paper no bigger than a quarter. Cut on the line of each crease from the end of the paper to the circle and stop. 

To assemble the pinwheel, an adult will need to push the skewer into the side of the wine cork. You may need to begin the hole with a hole starter like you would in a wall depending on how dry the cork is. 
Moving on to the paper, grab a point and draw it into the center, skip a point and then bring the next point into the center. Continue in this manner until you are back where you started. Poke the sewing needle into the center of all the point tips at the center of your paper and through the main paper as well at the center of the original giant X. Your needle should be poking out of the back of the paper, place a bead on the needle and then gently push the needle into the wine cork. 

You are done!

Of course the pinwheel is made of paper and this should go without saying but if left outside on a rainy night it will be ruined. This is a wonderful activity to do with kids of a broad age just remember that there is a needle involved so you may want to assemble it for younger kids and watch them closely while playing with it. Older children will love the independance of being allowed to create something using sharp objects and the finished pinwheels bring out the kid in all of us.   


Creating Memories & A Marvelous Adventure

I married an incredible woman, she's truly spectacular. But the added bonus of our marriage is that I also got this amazing additional family to boot! I have been blessed with an incredible mother-in-law. Seriously, this woman has the most giving and thoughtful heart. She has welcomed the boys and I into her family with arms wide open and for that I am truly thankful.

GranMarti, as she is called by the grandkids, started a tradition that honestly all grandparents should consider doing with their grandchildren. When the grandchild turns ten she takes them on a "______(Child's name)______ & GranMarti's Marvelous Adventure". The adventure has to have an educational bent to it, which is open to interpretation. A simple weekend away to explore and focus on celebrating the child's birthday and their relationship with GranMarti. Of course the weekend wouldn't be complete without lots of additional treats and ice cream! 

My youngest son, Zane, loves animals. Especially cats. His Marvelous Adventure was created entirely with his interests in mind and was presented to him many months in advance to get him excited about the trip but also to allow him to prepare for it. He would be traveling to three separate animal rescues and at each rescue he had the option of sponsoring an animal. For months he saved his money, storing each dollar earned in an envelope marked for the Marvelous Adventure with also a monetary countdown of how much he and GranMarti determined that he's expected to contribute to the sponsorship.   

This was one of the cleanest animal rescues that I have ever been to. There were 90 cats in this location and you couldn't smell a one! The volunteers and staff were wonderful, allowing Zane to get into the large enclosures to play with the cats and patiently answering his questions, "which cats are the hardest to get adopted?" (Answer: black), "how long do cats live here?" (Answer- depends on adoptability whether cat has special needs or age). We weren't aware that Zane's questions were his way of processing, in his mind, which cat he wanted to sponsor. He decided, on his own, that he wanted to sponsor Parker. Parker is an older cat that is labeled "special needs" because he has a heart condition that requires medication and a special diet. All of which makes it nearly impossible to find a forever family for him. As Zane told me his reasoning for picking Parker, I welled up with tears. He is such a compassionate little person and I truly believe having a brother with "special needs" has shaped him into the person he is and will continue to become.    

This place was incredible! I recommend everyone go and take a tour. We learned so much in the two-hour walking tour. For example - tigers LOVE the smell of Axe body spray! Volunteers spray telephone books with Axe body spray for the tigers, one of the many ways that they provide stimulation to the tigers within their enclosures. The rescue has a variety of big and small cats that each have a heartbreaking story of how they came to live there. Several are from Texas and Florida where it is legal to have a tiger as a pet! Their stories are similar to the ones that dogs and cats at your local animal rescue would tell, the owners had good intentions but didn't do their research on the breed, the demand, the time, cost and care that it takes to have this animal as a pet. 

The final destination was a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
Zane and GranMarti learned about sea turtles and the various predicaments that would cause a turtle to spend time in this establishment. Here Zane decided to sponsor a turtle who had frostbite on his shell. This turtle had been at the rescue already for several months and the interns who graciously answered all of his questions said that he would only require seven more months before being released back into the wild blue ocean.

Of course since they were so close to the beach they had to enjoy some beach time too. 

Pass this idea on to your children's grandparents, the children don't "have" to be ten years old. Pick an age and commit a weekend or a day to each child. Make the experience educational, fun and something that the child will enjoy yet hasn't done before. 
This Marvelous Adventure will forever hold a special place in Zane's heart as will his GranMarti! 


Thanksgiving Turkey Craft for Kids

Need a simple craft to do with your kids to celebrate Thanksgiving? This will only take a small amount of time and you probably already have everything in stock.

This project is great for kids from kindergarten to fourth grade. For the older kids add a writing element by asking them to write what they are thankful for on each feather. Younger kids can even draw a picture on each feather of what they are thankful for.

Start by cutting out a circle using brown construction paper. then have the kids cut various feathers out of colored construction paper. I drew the first feather for the child and had them stack the papers to cut the feathers out all at once. But you could easily create a template for them to follow or have them create their own feathers. The possibilities are endless!
Using yellow construction paper cut out a triangle for the beak. Draw the eyes on with marker. The child could either glue the feathers to the back of the circle or use a small paper fastener to make the feather movable.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sobriety is My Celebration!

Today, August 14th, 2015 marks my anniversary.... I have been sober for three years. 
To be honest, being sober for three years has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It's a daily struggle, a daily commitment, each day I honor my emotions and tune in to my true authentic self. And I celebrate each day that passes, not just the years, but each and every day of being sober. 

I no longer count how many drinks people have at parties. I can sit down at a dinner party next to a person drinking wine and I can hear them. I can actually hear them! I can hear their story, I can see them and experience our time together. Because we addicts, there is an entirely different mental game that goes on in our heads. As you casually sip your wine, we can taste it in the back of our mouths. Which then leads to wanting a sip, and then the mind bounces through thoughts. And that desire for a drink is all encompassing, it feels like we are drowning. And you continue on talking as we pull out our plethora of tools; breathing techniques, counting, focusing on something other than each sip you take or how you hold your glass in your hand and so we look at your hair and we try to change the subject. And if the mental game becomes too much we excuse ourselves to the bathroom. That is where I can be found doing downward dog, right there next to your bathtub. I reconnect with my breath, I make the commitment to myself to be sober another hour, another night, another day. Once I feel steady, I return to the party. 

These moments have happened less and less for me this year. But then another mental game begins to play out, I start thinking maybe I don't really have a drinking problem. Am I really an alcoholic? Maybe I can control it and just have a glass of wine every now and then. But I know this story is the same story so many addicts have lived through before me. I remind myself of the blackouts, the mornings trying to feed my kids breakfast while fighting the nausea of a hangover, the dinner parties and conversations that I don't even remember. I know by listening to other addicts that have been sober for years more than me, thinking you have control over this addiction is a false sense of security. Because we don't have control! 

Each year that passes I feel stronger. I feel more in tune with my purpose and I feel less shame about being an alcoholic. It's a label that I can wear proudly because I am sober. And I feel so much better in my spirit and in my body than I ever did after a bottle of Chardonnay.


Reusing Water Bombs to Sponge Paint

You made the water bombs and the kids had a great time throwing them at each other and getting really wet in the process, now let's use those same water bombs for sponge paining! I am a HUGE advocate of being able to use things for more than one purpose. And with washable paint you can use these water bombs to make really cool paintings.

Pour washable paint on paper plates and instruct the kids to tap their sponge into the paint and then create a cool pattern on the paper. My yoga kids loved combining the colors and shapes on the page. Then when they were finished creating art with the sponge they decided to make some foot art and used the sponges to put paint on their feet and then step on the paper.
Try using the water bombs with painting outside and see what art your kids create.


Outdoor Water Play with Sponge Water Bombs

Looking for something to do outside with the kids on a hot day? Maybe the pool hasn't opened yet or maybe you have a group of kids at your house of various ages and you don't know what to do that will entertain them all…well this is it!

All you will need are basic sponges that you can find at Target or your local Dollar Store. Cut each sponge into strips and then take 8 strips and secure together with a rubber band in the center- that's it!
We had two buckets full of water on either end of the playground that the kids had to run to in order to get their water bombs nice and wet. Once wet launch them at your friends. This is a great activity when you need the kids to be outside burning off energy but they complain it's too hot to run around.
Would also make a great craft project for the kids to make the water bombs at the end of the year class picnic and then run around launching them at each other.

The water bombs were enjoyed by kids from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade on a playground, everyone played together and were equally wet with smiles on their faces.


Chinese Drum Craft

Let's make some music!

All you need is:
2 paper plates per child
1 large craft stick/ tongue depressor/ popsicle stick per child
white duct tape
hot glue gun and glue
hole punch

*Prep the activity by hot gluing the large craft stick to the bottom of one paper plate for each child.

Have the kids decorate the bottom of the paper plates and then place the paper plates facing each other so that the bottoms are on the outside. I handed out slivers of white duct tape and the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids taped their plates together. Then they hole punched 2 holes in each side of the plates across from each other. Tie about a 6inch piece of yarn to each hole and string 4 beads on each side. That's it- you are done and ready to make music!


Easy Classroom Earth Day Activity

Sometimes it's hard for kids to understand the importance of Earth Day. A great activity to do with your child's classroom that is easy and low cost is to plant flowers with them. Allow them to be in charge of taking care of it so that they can see for themselves the importance of water and sun by supplying their plant with these these nutrients.

I used red plastic cups that I purchased at Costco. Each child received 2 cups, one which I prepped before doing the activity by poking holes in the bottom using a nail and the other cup did not have holes. The cup with the holes is the one that you will plant the seeds in as the holes will provide adequate drainage. The outer cup is to protect the surface the plant sits on from getting wet.

Before we began I had the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids decorate their cups with stickers. I find it helpful to give the kids a particular number so that everyone has the same amount of stickers. Look at your collection of stickers and decide how many you have that each child could have the same amount.

After they were done decorating they filled the cups up with planting soil and stuck their fingers in the soil to make holes for where their seeds would go. In a tupperware container I mixed a bunch of flower seeds together so no one would know what color flowers they were going to get or what kind. I wanted it to be a surprise when the flowers actually started to grow. And it also alleviated any argueing or whining over a particular flower color. They passed the tupperware container and pinched  and amount of flower seeds and placed it in their holes, covered the seeds lightly and then watered their seeds.

This is a great activity to do with a classroom as it's low cost and easy to do. Hands will get dirty but that's part of the fun!



Rainy Day Fun- Ring Toss Game

When it's raining outside kids become restless but that is no excuse for not being active or moving their bodies. Try making a ring toss game out of recycled materials and put a new spin on a rainy day afternoon.  

First cut out large circles in three paper plates to make rings to throw. To make the actual standing peg use a paper towel tube or two toilet paper tubes taped together. Cut a small circular opening in one paper plate to pass the tube through the paper plate. Slice the tube and fold up and tape to the underside of the paper plate, see second picture. Then have the kids decorate the peg and the rings with markers and stickers.

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids enjoyed adding a yoga element to our ring toss game. The person throwing had to stand in tree pose while trying to throw their ring around a peg. Give it a try with your kids today!   


Cobra Pose and a Snake Craft for Little Yogis

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids love doing cobra pose. Lay on your belly and place your hands on either side of your chest. Lift your chest up by pressing into your hands. It feels so good in your body when you lift your chest up and feel your shoulders drop back as your back stretches. Your legs stay straight and keep a slight bend in your arms. 
We worked on the actual yoga pose and then made some snakes out of paper and attached a piece of yarn to the snake head to allow the snake to naturally spin. Click the link to download the snake template, print out and color with crayons or colored pencils. ENJOY!


Christmas Ornament Organizing

I know you are not even thinking about Christmas right now! I know, I know. But hear me out.
You know those plastic containers that the Costco apples come in? I personally hate recycling them…I just know that they have to have another life. And here is a great way to re-use those plastic apple holders to give them more life and to help you organize your Christmas decorations. Glass ball ornaments fit perfectly in each apple holder or place several delicate ornaments in each space. The options are limitless! Then you can easily stack them in a rubbermaid container to store in your attic/garage/basement.
Happy Spring Cleaning!


Lego Racetrack

I love the creativity that Legos provides for children both in engineering and design. Instead of giving the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids directions on how to create a particular lego model I decided that together, as a team, we should make a racetrack. Each lane was made by several kids at once, it was a great activity to nourish their unique personalities.

We propped our racetrack up on a few yoga blocks under a board so that the Hot-wheels cars would speed down the track.

With the cold weather upon us, try having your kids create a racetrack out of Legos! Predict which car will go the fastest and record your results.


Something to Try: Painting with Corks

Kids love to paint.
Toss the brushes aside and pull out the wine corks that you saved from last month's Mom's Night Out and have your kids paint a picture only using corks to paint. The bonus is that clean up is a breeze! And you are recycling corks in another use before they are thrown away in the trash.
See what their creative minds come up with and give them the space to explore this new medium.


Plastic Cup Rockets

Kids love things that can fly! These plastic cup rockets are a lot of fun and it doesn't take a lot of time to create the rockets in order for the fun to begin.
All you need is two plastic cups, 2 rubber bands and a small amount of duct tape.

In one cup cut four, one inch cuts in the top of the cup around the rim. Each cut should be across from another cut. Then with small, one inch pieces of duct tape place them at the bottom of each cut so that it doesn't continue to slice down the side of the cup. 

Now take the rubber bands and put them through the slices creating an X and wrapping them around the rim of the cup. Place the cup with the rubber bands on top of the other cup and pull down with your fingertips around the rim. 
Then 1-2-3 take off! 


Winter Indoor Game for Kids using Mr Printables Free Paper Dolls

The winter weather can leave us inside and feeling lethargic. Let's shake up our routine and add a bit of movement and art to our day today.
The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids loved this activity and we came up with a ton of ways to play the game. First I printed out the paper dolls made by Mr.Printables. Each child cut out the paper doll that they wanted to use and added a piece of tape to create the cone shape. Then we snipped of the top with scissors and taped the cone shape to a plastic bendy straw. Each child chose a small craft ball to put in their cone and then standing over some plastic cups they would try and blow their craft ball into one of the cups. The YogaKids came up with a point system and continually changed the shape of the cups to add more of an challenge to the game.
This craft is great for kindergarten through 4th grade. 


Great Horned Owl Puppet

Combining a book with a craft is one of my absolute favorite things to do with the Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids. First we read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. You might better know Jane Yolen from the "How do Dinasaurs…" books. Owl Moon is not to be missed, it won the 1988 Caldecott Medal Book Award and is a wonderful story about a child going on a walk with her father to look for owls. Such a simple activity creates the most wondrous story. 

To make the great horned owl puppets I first prepped the craft by drawing a template of wings and the head for each child on brown construction paper that they could color and cut out. They created the eyes either by using additional construction paper or simply drawing them on with marker. Once they finished coloring and cutting the pieces out they glued them on to a brown paper bag. 
Each child chose to color the paper bag as well to make the owl authentic. Once your owls are dry, recreate the story from the owls perspective, looking down at the father and the child. What does the owl notice about them? 

This is a great activity for children aged kindergarten through second grade.


Real Simple Sewn Valentine's Heart

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids are excited to share their Valentine's with the ones they love. I used the PDF supplied by Real Simple. Click here to print the PDF.

I printed the hearts on white card stock and I prepped the craft activity by punching the holes along the heart with the tip of sharp scissors so that the plastic needles could easily slip through.
The YogaKids loved this craft and made several Valentine's creating a different design for each one. We used various colors of acrylic yarn, each child choosing the color they wanted to use.

This craft is a wonderful tool for fine motor development. It's perfect for children just beginning to learn how to write letters, four years old to second grade.


Apple Filling Crescent Rolls

The next time that you make crescent rolls try adding a little bit of goodness to it. Slice apples into small bite sized pieces and place in a skillet over medium heat with a little bit of oil and water until the apples are soft. Leave them as is or stir in a small amount of brown sugar.
Unroll each crescent roll and place a small amount of apples in the corner of the roll and then roll up as you would normally do.
Cook as directed on the crescent roll package.
I'm sorry I didn't get an after picture. They were gone so fast that I didn't have time to grab my camera. Be warned: there will not be leftovers!


Foosball Game Craft for Kids

Creating this foosball game was a great activity that had the Bee Yoga Fusion Yoga Kids working as a team. We used a cardboard shoebox and cut the top off of it. The YogaKids then took turns decorating the bottom to clearly mark the center of the field and the goalies using markers. I cut out the squares at each end to make the goals so that the ball could roll through it when the team scored.

Each child decorated two large craft sticks as people using markers and their imaginations. I adhered the sticks onto the 12 inch dowel rods using 2 rubber bands, being sure to criss cross them to help the people stay in place.

I poked holes in the side of the shoebox for the dowel rods to feed through. At first the YogaKids tried using a rolled up piece of paper as the ball but it didn't work as well as they imagined. So they then decided on using marbles.

Creating the foosball game was a lot of fun and then playing with it was even more enjoyable.
This is a great craft to teach kids about making toys out of recycled objects that you can find around your house. Suitable for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.


LOVE- A New Spin on Fingerprinting Art

We have all experienced and enjoyed creating a painting with our fingerprints as children. Kids gets so excited when you give them the opportunity to get their hands dirty, completely cover them with paint and produce art. Well why not put a spin on it and instead offer them to paint with their toes?

The Bee Yoga Fusion YogaKids created absolutely stunning artwork by painting with their feet. At first they were hesitant, dipping only a big toe in or a heel and then they took the plunge and covered their entire foot in paint. It was a lot of fun!

First I printed the words LOVE on card stock, here is a PDF for you to print and cut.

I prepped the activity by cutting out each of their letters first but if you have older kids try having them do it themselves. I taped the letters to look similar to the LOVE statue in Philadelphia, PA on white card stock using washi craft tape so that it wouldn't ruin the paper when I peeled the letters off later. We used tempura paint but any craft paint will also work well.
Once the entire paper is covered in foot prints, set it aside to dry. Once the painting is dry you can slowly peel off each letter to reveal the word LOVE in white.
This would make a great Valentine's gift! And is a great craft for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.  


Anatomy for Kids

Teaching yoga poses to kids in a way that goes beyond the yoga mat is something I am very passionate about. Finding a way in which the shape of the poses can be better understood often involves having the kids create with their hands. So after teaching them Warrior Two I handed each child a black piece of construction paper and a white crayon and asked them to draw a stick figure of the pose. I then had the children trace the skeleton with glue and using cut up Q-tips to create a Warrior Two skeleton.  

Does your child take dance class or play an instrument? Ask them to create a stick figure of their posture in a dance pose or how they sit/stand while they play their instrument. Talk to them about their posture and help them understand their bodies from the inside out.


Recycled Tin Can Pencil Holder

I bet you remember making one of these when you were a kid. Did your mom or dad proudly display it on their desk? I wanted the BYF YogaKids to make a few gifts for their parents this holiday season so it only seemed natural to reinvent some old school crafts that maybe their parents remember making when they were kids. 

Using washed out soup cans I had the kids place school glue along the length of the can and then they slowly wound pretty acrylic yarn, of their choosing, around the can. And because these are yoga kids we decided to take pictures in yoga poses to then adhere to the can with a hot glue gun. The end result was fantastic! The yoga kids were so proud of their upcycled craft and were excited to put them under the Christmas tree for their parents.

Age range- Kindergarten -4th grade
Difficulty level- Easy with parent assistance


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