My Favorite Toddler Bedtime Stories {Gift Ideas}

Toddler Bedtime Stories

Reading Bedtime Stories

Before my toddler’s bedtime, we sit on his big bear and read books. I have a few favorites, and I think my son loves them because he can tell how much I love them. I try to only keep good books around, and “good” can mean many things. The main thing “good” means is that it doesn’t annoy me, or teach my son to annoy me. It also won’t usually bore him or bore me. These are a few of my favorites that are great bedtime stories for a toddler.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite in our house, we even based my son’s first birthday party off of it. It makes the list of one of our top bedtimes stories because it’s a very relaxing story, it’s easy to read (and follow along with) as well as there are plenty of things that my son recognizes and likes to point out.

Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch

Happy Birthday, Moon is a favorite bedtime story because it’s simple and cute. It is a conversation between the bear and the moon. It’s something that my son doesn’t understand yet, but when he makes the connection he will love the story even more. Right now there are plenty of little things that my son loves to point out while we are reading it, so it makes it fun for him but not overly-stimulating.

 

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear is my favorite. (I know, I say that everything is my favorite!) I love that my son loves this book now too. He didn’t get it at first because the Big Hungry Bear is talked about but never seen. He loves this book so much now that he mouths the words along with me, and sometimes will recite them for me. I love that this book is such a cute story but it also doesn’t take all night to read it to him. (All of these books are pretty short and sweet compared to lots of children’s books. Unless you ask my husband- he thinks they are all way too long.)

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault, and  Lois Ehlert

Chicka Chicka ABC is a shorter and simpler version of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom that I read in grade school. It is on our top bedtime stories list because it is so short and simple and because it has an awesome beat. I think it is my husband’s favorite book to read to our son because it is the shortest on this list, but really we both love it.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a story that is pretty much a pigeon throwing a two-year-old’s temper tantrum. Don’t let that scare you though, I don’t think this teaches kids to throw temper tantrums.The way this book is set up it shows kids how silly they are. Just from the title (and when the bus driver asks you) it makes the kids be the ones in charge so they are supposed to keep the pigeon from driving the bus. If you haven’t read this book you should go check it out at your local library and see why it has made our favorite bedtime stories list.

What are your favorite bedtime stories? Are there any I need to go out and read so I can add them to my list?

This post is not sponsored by these authors or publishers but if you click on the links and happen to buy something from Amazon you will be helping out Monzanita’s in a small way, so thank you!

Jeep Sewing Projects

We recently bought a jeep and have been four wheeling every weekend this month. I want to buy accessories for it, but I’m being thrifty as usual and making my own. It sure helps out for making the payment too!

Handle Bar Bag

This turned out to look a little frumpier than I wanted it to. Next time I’ll have to use some heavy backing. I do love that I have all of my stuff close and convenient. There’s always extra space for snacks and for my camera too.

Tool Roll

This is an adult version of a crayon roll! The tools are a little bit odd shaped, so they don’t roll as well as a crayon roll but it is a great way to save space and keep your tools safe and organized. It’s also convenient to have all of your tools in one spot and can be easily carried to wherever you need them.

Fire Extinguisher Holder

Did you know it cost over $20 for one of these? I made it for much less! I finally finished a great easy-to-follow tutorial for how to make your own. Click here to see the full Roll Bar Fire Extinguisher Holder Tutorial.

Blanket

This wasn’t the most important thing I wanted to make but it is always great to have a spare blanket and to use a ton of extra fabric. It’s now my son and my dog’s favorite blanket to fight over. I love the patriotic color theme, it’s like a taste of 4th of July every day!

More Jeep Posts:

DIY Toy Hammock

My son is collecting way too many toys, but I have a hard time getting rid of any. I have to start finding ways to organize them better so that they fit in our house! I have a feeling that we will have to turn one of our rooms into a playroom soon.

My inspiration came from The Junk Nest, check out her toy hammock here.

Materials:
Fabric
Rope (aka “Clothesline” from the Dollar Tree)

Directions:
1. Hem the two long edges.

2. Hem the two shorter edges with enough space to fit the rope inside the hem.

3. Slide the rope through each side.

4. Tie rope to crib, bed or wall.

Super complicated, right? If you need help, refer to the drawing below on my super cool legal pad from NAU. (My souvenir from visiting my sister!) Also please pretend that I wasn’t drawing it while someone was tugging on my arm and throwing books at me. It is a pretty good drawing for suffering through all that though!

See Also:
The Nursery (that has never been completely finished)
Bathroom Organization
Closet Door Writing

Today at Arizona Mama: Red Sox Easter Basket

My husband and his family are big Red Sox fans. I will wear Red Sox stuff, but so far that’s about the extent of it for me. I’m sure my son will be getting into the baseball spirit this year so when I saw the ribbon, I had to buy it and decorate a basket for him.

Check out the tutorial for this Easter Basket here at Arizona Mama.

Fabric Headrest Mounted Tablet Holder

I saw a plastic one of these at Ross for $12.99 and I put it back because I figured I could make a fabric one! (Plus the plastic one looked totally cheesy and I was worried that the tablet would fall out!) This one only cost about a dollar or so, I think it’s a much better deal! This tablet holder is kind of an ugly project– I could make it cute, but it doesn’t have to be pretty because it’s useful and I’m lazy.

Also, this is for a 10.5 inch tablet, but use your own tablet measurements to figure out the right dimensions!

Materials:
1 foot Clear Vinyl (I bought 4 Gauge, at least that’s what the receipt said, I just picked the thinnest)
Scrap Fabric, Just a bit bigger than your tablet
Bias Tape
Ribbon

Directions:
Use your tablet to measure out your fabric. There should be at least and inch or two on each side.

Cut out the fabric, and cut out the same size for the plastic.

Next, you will want to go out to the car and measure around the headrest with a flexible tape measure. You will need the length around the top to bottom (make sure they overlap) and around the top, from side to side. That length, plus an extra 10 inches is how much ribbon you will need.

Each length of ribbon will be cut into two, but don’t do it evenly. Have more on one side than the other so that the bow you tie will be able to be tied off to the side, so that there won’t be a knot in the back of the person’s head that is sitting in the seat.

Put your plastic on top of your back fabric and place the ribbons in the middle, with the edges at the edge of the fabric and plastic,

Sew the 3 sides, and turn it inside out. (This is where more work could be done to make it prettier, those seams are pretty ugly! Covering them with bias tape might be cute.)

Next, make a bias tape or use an already bought one and finish off the top edge. A ribbon will need to be added to the top as well.

This is going to be so helpful for our next road trip, as my son has started watching cartoons lately. I’m going to try to save it for when he gets really cranky though!

I was impressed to find out that the touch screen was still able to be used with the clear vinyl. The vinyl does cling to the screen as well.

More DIY Bags:
Play Mat Toy Bag
Padded Tablet Case
Messenger Bag

Road Trip Tips:
The Greatest Trip I Hardly Remember
Road Trip Packing List Printable(And One For Toddlers)
Eating Out of a Hotel Room {Vacation Money Saving Ideas}

Play Mat Bag

I saw this picture on Pinterest a long time ago, but I didn’t have internet access when I went to go make one, so it turned out a bit differently. I had also seen this lego playmatat A Girl and a Glue Gun, so my idea came from that one too. There is a better way to do this, but I didn’t do it that way this time, and who knows if I will make another one any time soon, so after I tell you how I did it I will tell you how you should do it (because I’m bossy!).

Materials:
Fabric for the “mom side”
Fabric for the “kid side”
5 Yards Bias Tape (Homemade or bought)
5 Yards Ribbon or Clothesline

My son’s little so I knew I would be the one carrying around his toys for him. Don’t worry, when he’s bigger he is doing all the work! But I wanted to make this bag cute-ish for me too. I seem to have an obsession with making myself bags, even if it is under the pretense of making it for my kid. So that’s why there’s mom side and kid side fabric.

I did as Kim did for her Lego Play Mat and used a string and pen to make a perfect circle. (I pinned the string down to the corner of the fabric.) I cut out one piece each of my “mom side” and “kid side” fabric, the same sized circle.

Then I made a ton of homemade bias tape. (Hi, I’m Monica, I don’t know if you know this but I’m cheap thrifty, and I am also too lazy to drive to the store) It took FOREVER mostly because someone wanted to be held the entire time and didn’t realize I was making *him* something. So anyway, I made about 15 feet worth of bias tape (the right way too, I usually cheat and don’t cut it on the bias) and pinned it around the edges.

I sewed on the bias tape, threaded the clothesline through it and then decided to add handles. So I made the handles with leftover bias tape and sewed them on.

I realized though using it (and through looking at the pinspiration closer) that it was hard to cinch it together and then to un-cinch it when the baby was ready to play. So I switched to ribbon and cut a few more holes in the bias tape so that the ribbon could be pulled out in a few more places. (Thanks for the idea, Kalli!)

Also, when using it at first I loosely tied the ribbon so that the bag wouldn’t undone, but I added cord stops. (And do you know how long it took me to google that word. I knew what they were but I had no idea what they were called until now!)

So when you make your own, here’s a better way to do it.

1. Cut your circles the way Kim shows us here.

2. Sew handles onto the “mom side”.

3. Make your bias tape. Or buy it. Sew four buttonholes into your bias tape.

4. Sew bias tape on.

5. String your ribbon or thin rope through the buttonholes, add cord stops and tie the ends.

I actually have to go buy two more cord stops before mine is completely finished but we used it for a few vacation days already with out them and I will be using it with just a couple for our next few outings. He never stays on the playmat for long but it is nice to have one small patch of the ground that is free from tiny things he can find. Thanks for suffering through reading about my mistakes have a great day!

Patchwork Tablet / Laptop Case from Army Pants (ACU's)

I made a laptop case awhile ago but I didn’t have much time to make it so it came out a little crooked and I didn’t take pictures for a full tutorial. Since then my husband and I purchased new tablets and while they were in the process of shipping to us I used the dimensions online to make our cases. The first one I made needed a bigger seam allowance and space to allow for the padding. Hopefully my husband can find a use for the case– if not I will be giving it away to someone with a smaller tablet.

I have used the same pair of ACU bottoms (Don’t ask me what it stands for! It’s code for army uniform, but not the dress uniform because those are called Class A’s) for a few different projects so all I have left are scraps. I patched them together to get the sizes I needed. If you are going to do this, sew everything together before cutting it down to the final size. It saves you from heart ache in case your seam allowances were just a tiny bit off.

Also, at a recent Business Expo I talked to a lady selling cloth diapers and covers and she told me that fleece was completely waterproof. I think I might have heard that before, but it never had really sunk in. I used a double layer of fleece for the padding so that it would also help protect the tablet from any water too.

My dimensions are for a 10.1 inch tablet. They measured it 10.4 inches x 0.4 inches x 7.1 inches. If doing a different size, be sure to give yourself plenty of extra room. It can always be made smaller later. Also, a bigger pocket can fit on this case, feel free to make it wider but not too much taller.

Materials:
Outer Fabric- 2 10×14 Pieces
Lining Fabric- 2 10×14 Pieces
Padding (Fleece)- 4 10×14
Pocket Pieces- 1 8×9, 1 3×9
Pocket Pieces Liner- 1 8×9, 1 3×9
Velcro- 8 inches
Zipper- 16 inches (I used a 22 inch one and trimmed it later)
Secret Note (optional)

Directions:
Pocket
Once you have everything cut to size as listed above, it’s time to sew the pockets. Because the pocket pieces were patched together there are open seams on the back that need to be covered. Pin your front sides together of your pocket piece and your pocket liner, and sew the outsides. For the larger piece leave the bottom open. For the smaller piece only leave a small opening on one of the longer sides. The opening can be ironed down to match the rest of the seams, and they will be sewn shut when they are sewn to the bag or when the velcro is sewn on.

When they both are finished being sewn and ironed, the velcro can be added. The hook side should go on the smaller piece.

Now the pocket can be sewn to one of the pieces of outer fabric. Make sure to use plenty of pins so that it doesn’t shift at the last minute or you’ll have a crooked pocket. Sew the three outsides of the pocket, and the one top side of the flap.

Secret Note
I wrote a note for my husband on fabric with a sharpie and zig-zag stitched it to the lining to keep it from fraying. It looks like it is written sideways so that it can be seen just on the inside of the zipper. If you do this, it needs to be done before everything is sewn together.

Sewing Everything Together
Now that all the pieces are ready (unless you are going to embellish them more than I did) it is time to sew your case.

Lay down one of the padding pieces. On top of that (make sure the top sides of everything match) lay down a lining piece (face up) and then the zipper (face up). Next lay down one of the outer pieces (face down) and another padding piece. Pin them together. Use your zipper foot and go down the entire length of your fabric.

Of what you have just sewn, pull pack everything so that the zipper is showing. You can iron everything down so that its out of the way. You are going to put the rest of your pieces together just like you did for the first. Reminder: Padding, Liner(Face Up),Zipper (Face Up), Outer (Face Down), Padding. Sew these ones just like you did for the first side.

Now it’s going to get a little trickier. (It’s tricky, it’s tricky…) Your outsides (and the padding with them) will be together and the lining (plus padding) will be together. You will sew a big rectangle around them, leaving an open space about the size of you hand in the lining side. Wait! Make sure your zipper is halfway open before you start, or you may regret trying to save money on a store bought case. If it’s halfway open it’s all good, you can save money in peace.

Before you pull it inside out, clip off each of the corners, and cut at notch at the zipper. It will make your final product look a bit more professional. (I love when people question me if I made something because it looks so “store-bought” that they can’t tell. Like my messenger bag)

Pull it inside out and poke out the corners of the outside with a stuffing stick or a skewer. They are pretty much the same thing. To sew the lining shut you can either hand stitch it with a whip stitch (this is the best looking) or you can be lazy like me and do a quick sewing machine stitch to keep it closed. It’s up to you.

Once your lining is stitched closed you can play with the zipper, and let your tablet try it on. Also, check out my girly Ruffled Tablet Case that has a couple things done differently on it.

Want more sewing projects?
Remote Control Holder Pillowcase
Camping Foam Mattress Pad and Case
Ruffled Curtains
Dog Bed

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stuffed Matching Toy

My mom made a caterpillar toy when I was little, and I can’t exactly recall what it looked like, other than there were different pastel fabrics on each side of each piece. I used her idea to create a ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ version. This will be a gift for Colton’s 1st birthday. It goes along with the theme of his party!

Materials:
Variety of green fabric
Something round to use as a stencil
Velcro
Stuffing or Fabric Scraps (I used fabric scraps)
Red, yellow, purple fabric scraps
Fusible Webbing and wax paper (optional)

Directions:
First, cut out all of your circles. You will need two of each pattern, except for the pattern at the end, and for the red which will be the face. I had alot of different green patterns, in the future I will probably use less.

Next, cut your velcro into small pieces, unless you bought pre-cut ones. After this it will be time to plan what order your patterns will be in, and pin the corresponding velcro to the pattern. You can do this by lining them up, the ones at the each end will be the face and a single pattern (no match). In the middle, you can put two of each pattern, in whichever order you want. Then the velcro can be pinned on top. The velcro won’t go on the first and the last pieces and will alternate between the hook side and the loop side for each piece. Put them in a pile, in a way that you won’t forget the order.

Next, sew your velcro to the center of the circles. You can do all of them at one time, or two at a time. After at least two sides that will go together are finished, you will need to put the velcro together, and sew around most of the circle.

Your circle will need to be turned inside out and then stuffed. It then will need to be hand-stitched closed. This can be done for all of the pieces, except for the face, and the piece that will become the other side of it.

For the face, you will first need to make the antenna. Mine turned out a little crooked, mishapen and floppy but I love them all the same. I’m just saying that it’s optional to include them. To make them, you will need to cut out antenna shapes, with the seam allowance.

Place your two antenna sides together and sew them, leaving the bottom open. Do this for both antenna. To turn them inside out is a bit tricky, I found it easier to use tweezers, and to also stuff them with tweezers also. Make sure they are a bit over stuffed.

For the next part of the face, you will want to either stitch the eyes and mouth on, or use the fusible webbing and put them on as an iron-on (I’ve been a little obsessed by iron-ons lately). This will be done by first cutting the pieces for the face, and then placing them on the fusible webbing with wax paper on top. Any extra webbing can be trimmed off, and then they are ready to be ironed onto the red circle.

Once your face is ironed on, you can pin your antenna in the center of your two circles. The open bottoms of the antenna will be sicking out, to the outside of the circle. You can sew your circle, like you did with the rest of them, leaving a portion of the bottom open so that you can turn it inside out and stuff it.

When everything is whip-stitched closed, you’re finished. My son got a sneak-peak at his present when I was trying to take pictures of it and loved it! He was actually pretty mad when I put it away with the rest of the presents I have to wrap. The great thing about this toy is that right now, my son just likes it because it’s a stuffed animal. Later he will learn how velcro works, and after that he can learn to match the patterns together. It’s great fun, and great for learning.


Boy's Shoes Decorated with Tractors

My little one is getting very mobile, and will hopefully be walking soon. I am trying to get him used to the idea of shoes for when he has to wear them out. We found these cute ones at the store for only five bucks. I loved that they were plain and could be personalized.

Materials:
Canvas-Type Shoe
Materials for DIY Iron-On(Fusible Webbing, Fabric, Fabric Marker)

Directions:
1. First you need to make your DIY Iron-On. This one was drawn on with fabric markers and then cut out around the drawing.

2. Next, stuff your shoes with some. Crinkled newspaper or rolled up socks both work great.

3. Place your iron-on where you want it, and iron it on. The iron will have to set on the same place for at least ten seconds.

That’s all it takes to add a statement to little man’s shoes. Thanks for checking it out! If you enjoyed this project, feel free to subscribe to see all of my future posts.

Finished! The Very Hungry Caterpillar Art

I am getting into full on birthday planning mode, for my son’s 1st birthday. We chose the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle for the theme. So far I made a couple of invitations, and a party hat proto-type.

I saw these neat party decorations on Pinterest, and it sparked the idea that I could paint anything on cardboard to make awesome and cheap party decor. See the ideas at Pam’s Party Planning.

Anyway, I was able to get the cute little girl I watch to help me paint (it was an amazing distraction for her!) a couple of scenes from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We are going to add the words from the book that go with each page (In the light of the moon, a little egg…. yes I just wrote that down from heart! and On Sunday, out of the egg…). We are also going to add an ultrasound picture to the left side and a newborn picture to the right side. This will be put up on one of the tables at the party for decoration and so we can all be amazed that he has grown so much in a year!

I plan on making more cardboard decorations, we just did this one today and I was too excited about it to wait to share! Thanks for looking, and I’ll be updating it when it’s finished.

UPDATE: I finally put the pictures on, it looks great!