Crafting and Education Round Up!


I've been working on a few projects with 'A' and 'H' and today the stars lined up just right so that I could take photos of them and show you. While I was doing it I couldn't help but think about 'A' stomach pains yesterday and wonder what caused them. I wish I could be the kind of blogger who just does cool projects with her kids and posts the tutorials for you without throwing in all the personal stuff about food allergies and how I feel about things. I'm not that kind of blogger, so I won't try to be.

First, the stomach pains. To tell you about that, I'll back up two days and show you where we spent the morning.

I took the girls to Emma Willard School in Troy to see Pat McEvoy's painting exhibit. We know Pat from church and she is an amazing artist. Lots of color and light. Lots of flowers! Much to our surprise, she walked in right behind us. She was meeting friends and we all happened to be there at the same time. How often do you get to see the artist and her work together like that? As 'A' pointed out, Picasso didn't meet us at his exhibit at The Clark last summer. Hmmm. There are a few reasons for that, namely, that he's no longer living.


After seeing Pat's work, we headed down the street to X's to O's, the vegan bakery. It was my first time there, and I was excited to be able to walk into a bakery with 'A' and tell her to order whatever looked good. She's never been able to do that. It was a VERY BIG MOMENT. Historical, for our family. She chose the cookies and cream cupcake, 'H' chose the chocolate chip cupcake, and I chose the Tiramisu cupcake. We decided to divide them in thirds and share. Yum! What sugary treat isn't delicious? To be perfectly honest, I could have, and have, made such yummy treats myself. This experience wasn't about the quality of the desserts though, it was about going out in public and eating with 'A', and knowing that it was safe to do so.


And just for good measure, we took home a few canoes (think Twinkies) to share with Jeff.


That day 'A' also ate some frozen organic corn (a new brand for us) in addition to some other things. The next day I realized I was short on breakfast offerings so I made the girls some pancakes. 'A' doubled over with stomach pains. She screamed off and on all day. What was causing it? The pancake recipe was the same as usual. I did open a new can of baking powder for it. Could that have done it? The vegan cupcakes couldn't have contained hidden dairy... could they? I could understand cross contamination issues in a standard bakery, but a vegan one? Besides, if she ingested dairy, she would have had hives on her face. I thought back to the corn. When she was 18 months old, she had an intestinal reaction to corn, and I had allergy tests done. Sure enough, she is allergic to it. Fast forward a few years, and she's tolerating it fine. She eats corn on the cob all summer with no issues, frozen corn, canned corn, corn oil, corn in crackers... corn is in so many foods, did you know that? She's been fine all this time. Perhaps there was something special about the corn she ate. At any rate, her stomach took all day to calm down.

The physical pain is a big deal for 'A'. The emotional pain is a big deal for me. When is she safe? What can I trust? Why do I think I can put my guard down? I have so many questions about food allergies and hardly any answers. 75 days until we see the pediatric allergist in Boston.

Enough of that - let's talk about the maps. The girls have been learning about map making for a few weeks now (remember the room maps?). This week they've been making relief maps. I got this idea from "Maps and Mapping" by Deborah Chancellor.


I gave each child a piece of sturdy cardboard for the base. They balled up pieces of newspaper and taped them to the base. I made a paste (see this for the recipe), and they pasted strips of newspaper over the balls of and tape until they were covered. Then we left it to dry.

The next day, they pasted paper towels over the entire project. The newspaper balls had now become mountains. The paper towels were pasted on the mountains and the valleys. We left it to dry.


The following day, the girls painted their mountains. I used acrylic paints that were watered down quite a bit. They added rivers and flowers and trees to the scene. Then I pasted several pieces of string around each mountain to mark elevation.


Part Two of the project (to be completed later today or on Monday) involves drawing an overhead view of the mountains. The idea is to see what the lines on contour maps mean and how they are made. The girls are having fun with this project, and so am I.


Here are two more crafty projects that have been in the works at our house. The first is something I've been doing on and off since Christmas. I gave the girls each a felt-wrapped piece of foam board, to be used for their "Mary and Laura" dolls and furniture. I was tired of tripping over Lincoln Log villages and thought that it would be nice to have not only a perimeter to the town, but also a way to pick it all up and move it if it's in the way. I occasionally make something for the town or the house, such as this garden and pond, and now I'm making food such as beets and turnips. I like making these little treasures, and my girls love playing with them.




The last thing I'll show you today are these adorable little ornaments. The snowmen are made of little painted handprints! I've had the idea to make these for a few years now, ever since my neighbor told me how to do it. Do you know how hard it is to find blue ornaments? I've spent 2 years looking! Here is the simple Snowman Handprint Ornament tutorial.


Snowman Handprint Ornament

Materials needed:

Round blue ornament
Acrylic paints, including white
Paintbrush
Little hands!

Paint a child's hand with white paint. Have them grasp the ornament with the bottom of the ornament in the palm of their hand. You may want to practice this pre-paint. Some children keep their fingers too close together, some wiggle their fingers around while grasping. And some do both.

Release the ornament from the child's hand and place it upside down to dry (I put ours in empty baby food jars). I painted the base of the ornament with white to make a coating of fresh snow. Paint the faces and hats on the snowmen and voila! you are done.

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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!