Easy Wood Bead Craft Ornament for Children

These wood bead wreath ornaments are an easy rainy (or snowy!) day craft and make great homemade gifts for grandparents, teachers, or your very own Christmas tree!

Easy Handmade Wood Bead Ornament Craft for Kids via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Guess how long it has taken me to get this post together?

One year.

Yep, I had the boys paint wood beads last year with this very post in mind, but once we got started I decided I wanted to coat them with sealer, which required warmer temps. I got the beads sealed this summer but didn’t get around to assembling the ornaments.

My kids have lost interest in this craft and my husband is tired of looking at a plate of beads every time he wanders through the dining room. So, I got my act together to finish this post. BONUS, I just assembled our Christmas tree so I was able to hang them up right away!

Wooden Bead Wreath Ornaments

I bought two bags of unfinished wood beads in different sizes. Then, using tempera paint we had in the craft closet, the boys painted them.

Easy Handmade Wood Bead Wreath Ornaments for kids via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Once the paint dried, I sprayed them with a clear coat sealer. It took a few applications because I needed one side to dry before turning the beads over to coat the other side.

Once the sealer completely dried, it was time to assemble the wreaths!

I used pipe cleaners we already had on hand to thread through the beads. You could also use ribbon or wire.

Assembling Painted Wood Bead Wreath Ornaments via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Wind the ends together. I had a bit of extra pipe cleaner on the smaller wreaths so I tucked those ends through the beads as best as I could.

Assembling Wood Bead Craft Wreath Ornament adding ribbon via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Tie a piece of ribbon around to help hide the opening at the top. I used a slip knot to get the ribbon on the wreath and then tied a bow.

Easy Peasy!

Easy to make wood bead craft ornament for children -- perfect for Christmas! via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Below you’ll find links to the supplies we used to make these adorable ornaments. (FYI, these are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase through any of them I’ll receive a little compensation.)

Supplies to make your own wood bead wreath ornaments:

Easy Wood Bead Wreath Ornament craft for kids via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

These Handmade Wood Bead Wreath Ornaments are an easy children's Christmas craft via muddybootsanddiamonds.com
Wood Bead Ornaments via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Preschool Food Allergy Kit

As a parent of a food allergy kid, I’m constantly worrying. Especially when it comes to school.

Last year was a learning experience for me. I learned our preschool wouldn’t allow us to keep L’s Epi Pens in his back pack. This meant I still had to carry a set with me to and from school while a second set stayed in his classroom, thus using up most of our refills to make sure we had enough Epi Pens where we need them. I learned that when parents read or hear “Nut Free School” they assume they just can’t bring in the obvious culprits like trail mix or peanut butter crackers.

That’s not what it means.Preschool Food Allergy Kit in backpack via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Preschool with Food Allergies: A Preschool Food Allergy Kit via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Even though the preschool and L’s teachers knew that L has been advised to stay away from products that “may contain” peanuts, he was still given a treat with that warning. I only found out because at pick-up his teachers told me he didn’t eat his snack because someone brought in cupcakes — as the parent walked out with said cupcakes I knew weren’t okay. I wasn’t happy about it.

Nut Free not only means the obvious peanut or almond, it means the food can’t have the possibility of containing nuts at all.

This year I did some of the same things as I did last year: I filled out the health history form spelling out what L can’t have. I mailed his Action Plan in along with his health form. I emailed L’s teachers before school started and explained what L needs to avoid, and asked that if they have any heads up on treats to let me know so I can pack something special for L that day. At his open house, I reiterated again on what he can’t have and that includes anything with potential cross contamination.

Thankfully, this year L’s teachers seemed to have a better understanding of what I was telling them. They had good questions for me, which made me feel more at ease. They said they had issues with parents thinking they were above the rules last year, so they’re trying to crack down on the policy more this year. This year they aren’t giving out food without labels.

While that’s a step in the right direction for a nut-free school, I don’t see parents reading ingredient lists in addition to allergy warnings, or finding alternatives for something that may or may not contain an allergen. And because I know a few parents who love bringing in random treats, I decided L needed more than just his Epi Pen at school this year. So, I told L’s teachers that he would be bringing in a small food allergy kit on his first day of school.

Sending your child to preschool with a Food Allergy Kit via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

His Food Allergy Kit contains his Epi Pen, Emergency Care Plan, Benadryl, and a fun snack for him to have in case a treat is brought in that is questionable. These are the supplies I used for our food allergy kit:

I make copies of L’s Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan when we get a new one each year. One is mailed in with his school health forms and one is kept with each box of Epi Pens we have. For this kit, I had two copies: one to put inside the box and one to cut up.

The top half of the form lists symptoms of an allergic reaction and what to do if a person is experiencing them. I cut this out and taped it to the top of the box for easy reference. Our plan is filled out on a Virginia-specific form from the allergist, but FARE has a good one as well that is available in both English and Spanish. The symptoms graphic could be used for the box lid if you can’t make copies of your plan.

Since a few symptoms can be helped with a dose of Benadryl and a watchful eye, I decided L should also have that at school this year.

For the snack, I tried to find something that L wouldn’t be getting on a regular basis. I managed to find some mini granola bars that didn’t have peanuts warnings or ingredients listed (a rare find!).

Everything went in the box, along with a full copy of L’s Emergency Care Plan. Then I slapped on a few name labels. I’m confident he’s the only one with a food allergy and the green Epi Pen box is pretty obvious, but I thought it would help identifying the kit a little easier. Next year, I plan to have allergy-specific labels to put on it.

TIP: make sure that all medications and snacks have an expiration date that is AFTER your child’s last day of school.

Sending your child to preschool with a Food Allergy Kit via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I’ve been the person who assumed “Nut Free School” only meant no peanut butter or something just as obvious, so I can’t assume people will read labels and act accordingly. Just like last year, I’m praying L won’t ever need the medicine and I hope he comes home in May with all his treats. But if he doesn’t then I’ll know his teachers and I did what we could to make sure he felt included and safe this year.

Linking Up At…

Road Trip Entertainment for Kids – $6 Well Spent

One of my brothers-in-law got married in New York this month. The boys were asked to be in their wedding, which meant we had to take them along on a 6 hour road trip (which, with kids and a mom with bladder issues, was 8.5-9 hours long).

I’m not a fan of bringing DVDs along on car trips, mostly because Mr Boots will immediately start one before we even leave the driveway. It’s never on my list of things to bring because while short trips are a nightmare, longer ones aren’t always horrible. I think because the boys are excited about where we are going or are too exhausted to stay awake on the way back. Digital entertainment is usually one of the last things I want to resort to on trips.

We survived 3-4 hour trips without DVDs before, but this trip would be twice as long. I wasn’t going to oppose setting up the DVD player, but I didn’t want the boys glued to it for 8 hours either. When I went to our city’s semi-annual consignment sale, I bought a few “new” DVDs with our New York trip in mind. And knowing we’d have long dinners and rehearsals to attend, I figured our LeapFrog tablet might also be handy to have. I packed these things up and kept the bag in the back of the car out of sight.

Road Trip Entertainment for Kids via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

But I also hit up our local Dollar Store and bought some things to keep the boys occupied without a screen.

Road Trip Entertainment for Kids via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I got it in my head that the boys needed a tray of some sort to draw or play on, but I was having a hard time finding something inexpensive. I was looking at pictures of DIY chore charts and realized, I could use a cookie sheet. My plan took off from there. $6 later, I left the dollar store with 2 cookie sheets, dry erase markers, and 2 zipper pencil pouches. When I got home, I went through the letter and animal magnets we have for our magnet board and put all the smaller pieces into the pencil pouches.

I was nervous that the cookie sheets would be too cheap for the dry erase markers to erase completely, but they worked out great! It was great not having to haul a bunch of paper, coloring books, and crayons with us. The magnets on the dry erase markers meant they didn’t roll away as easily and the boys didn’t seem too bothered by only three color options.

DIY road trip entertainment for children via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

L lost interest after a while and opted to play with other toys and look out the window for trains and waterfalls (we saw many once we got into northern Pennsylvania). But G used his almost the entire time. He drew pictures of his Uncle and soon-to-be-aunt. He even practiced writing out my phone phone number (which he’d just memorized for school) and the ABC’s. He asked how to spell words of the things he was seeing out his window. He arranged the letters in his pouch to try and make words as well. It was amazing.

The cookie sheets doubled as a tray for the boys to place food on for snacks or as a surface for coloring (my mom bought them some awesome Melissa and Doug ColorBlast travel activity pads that were a huge hit).

Guys, I spent SIX DOLLARS and the boys were entertained for the majority of the 8.5 car ride from Virginia to New York.

We never watched the DVDs I brought along. The boys never even asked until we got to the hotel and they saw them in one of our bags.

Which was excellent because we totally forgot the DVD player. (HAA!)

We never took the LeapFrog tablet out either. The boys had too much fun with their extended family and cousin to care. The only thing we needed while we were out were the Melissa and Doug activity pads.

I was nervous about the car ride home – would the cookie sheet idea lose its appeal before it was time to turn around and go home? Luckily, it didn’t. We brought them into the hotel with us and kept them off to the side so we didn’t have them in the car when we were out and about, which may have helped. Like I anticipated, the boys were exhausted by the time we headed home, so they did some sleeping on the way back, but they also seemed to have a good time playing with the new toys they were given as early Easter gifts from their grandma and aunt. G played with the tray, but nothing like the trip up.

Seeing as they were only $1, the cookie sheets did bend and crease easily. They definitely got a little beat up by the end of the entire trip, but not so much that we won’t be able to use them again. I’m still blown away that $6 at the dollar store kept them so occupied they didn’t even ask to watch movies. (This time 😉 )

What do you bring along for road trip entertainment for your kids?

Have a Colorful Valentine’s Day: DIY Valentines

G has been asking, almost on a weekly basis, when he’ll get to melt crayons again. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I decided it would be a nice idea to use a heart-shaped mold and make DIY Crayon Valentines for the boys’ upcoming preschool parties. It was a great excuse to go through our crayon stash. It’s grown between birthdays, Christmas (I usually ask for craft supplies and somehow that always equals crayons) and dining out!

Have a Colorful Valentine's Day DIY Crayon Valentines and Free Printable via www.muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Have a Colorful Valentine's Day: DIY Valentines using old crayons via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I enlisted the boys to help me find the broken crayons and set them aside. Then I asked them to help me take the paper off. G didn’t like this activity, but L did – which was great because it got him working his fine motor skills.

We put the crayons into a ziplock bag and laid a towel over it. G took a toy hammer and started going to town hitting the bag to break the crayons up a bit more. He loved this!

Have a Colorful Valentine's Day DIY Valentine's via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

Once the crayons were broken down, we put them into the heart mold. Since it’s wintertime, we couldn’t use the sun to melt our crayons. Instead, I preheated the oven to 250 and melted them in there.

Have a Colorful Valentine's Day DIY Valentines via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

The amount of time it takes for your crayons to melt will depend on their size, how big the mold is, and how much you fill it up. I checked ours at 10 minutes, but they weren’t fully melted until about 15. I let them cool in the mold on a cooling rack to solidify. Then I carefully popped them out. Once they were completely cooled, I put them in a bag until it was time to assemble the Valentines.

Have A Colorful Valentine's Day DIY Crayon Valentines via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I bought clear goodie bags from the dollar store and set off creating a little gift tag for each. I made a set and was happy with them, but when I was taking pictures I decided the font needed to be bolder. I edited the tags and used the new set for L’s Valentines.

Have a Colorful Valentine's Day DIY Crayon Valentines plus FREE printable via www.muddybootsanddiamonds.com

To make your own DIY Crayon Valentines, you’ll need:

Do you have any fun plans for Valentine’s Day?

Storage Chest Makeover

For our anniversary in 2014, Mr Boots and I dropped the boys off at their grandparents’ house and spent the day eating out and shopping for things we really had no business buying. Things like mattresses, patio umbrellas, and a wooden storage chest I found at our local Habitat for Humanity for $40.

My next project!!! I just have to wait for warmer weather

A photo posted by Emma? (@muddybootsndiamonds) on

This gem sat in our garage for about six months. I needed to wait for the weather to get warmer and, well, it was hard to find time to work on something like this between L’s schedule and G’s. But finally! Finally this past spring I found the time to start removing the awful puke yellow paint and sand it down. I was totally disappointed to find that only the legs were solid wood. The rest was that awful particle board.

Paint remover seemed to melt the particle board away, so as a Mother’s Day present my parents gifted me an electric sander. I love the sander, but for this particular project it didn’t do much other than smooth the spots where the previous owner tried some shabby chic techniques (there was SO MUCH PAINT on this thing), so I decided I would save myself a headache and paint over everything.

I knew I was going to use the leftover Rust-Oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze paint I had from my Thrift Store Mirror makeover, but I wanted a bright color for the inside. Not wanting to spend money on a can of paint I’d only use a portion of, I decided to use a bright magenta spray paint for the inside.

The spray paint soaked into the exposed particle board. In hindsight, I don’t know why I didn’t think it would. I still had the can of primer I used for the mirror, so I painted the entire chest with one coat of primer, bought another can of spray paint, and sprayed the inside of the chest and its lid with the magenta paint. The primer did a great job of preventing the spray paint from being soaked into the particle board.

Chest Makeover Primer via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

I bought the spray paint to save time, but it didn’t go on evenly. Even after 2-3 coats you can still see thicker spots depending on how you look at the lid. Lesson learned: for a cleaner, more professional look BUY THE CAN OF PAINT.

Once the inside of the chest was dry, I painted outside with 2 coats of the oil rubbed bronze paint, just like I did with my mirror. I found that Purdy brush had worked the best.

Mr Boots wanted this out of the garage so I didn’t touch up the underside of the lid which got some brown paint on it, or the small spot where the paint chipped when I attempted to put the lid back on myself. Like I said, this was for personal use only and with two little boys and being clumsy myself, I knew trying to make it perfect (and keeping it that way) would be a lost cause.

I am happy with it though! I decided to put it in a corner of my bedroom. Now I have something to store pillows, sheets, and blankets. And my Clean Laundry Pile is no longer on the floor. It’s on top of the storage chest 😉

Habitat for Humanity Chest Make Over via MuddyBootsandDiamonds.com

I found this storage chest at my local Habitat For Humanity store. Click here find the store closest to you. These are the materials and tools I used to do this storage chest makeover:

1. Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Oil Rubbed Bronze paint
2. Rust-Oleum Latex Flat Gray Primer
3. Rustoleum Satin Magenta spray paint
4. PORTER-CABLE Random Orbit Sander
5. PURDY 2.5-Inch Brush

What I did to makeover a wooden storage chest I bought from Habitat for Humanity my own. Storage Chest Makeover via www.muddybootsanddiamonds.com