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!

Toy Story Party

My son’s 2nd birthday party was Toy Story themed. It was a small party with mostly adults but I think the birthday boy had alot of fun!

Invitations: Printed 4×6 Toy Story Invitations

Food:
Rosati’sPizza Planet Pizza

Cake (Decorated with Toy Story Figures)

Cheetos

Activities: Knock Over Mr. Potato Head

Toy Story on in the Background

Trampoline

Present Time

Decorations: Toy Story Backgrounds Banner

Pizza Planet Sign

Wanted Posters

Party Favors: Crayon Rolls with Toy Story Coloring Pages

Cherry Dr. Pepper Can Bracelets

Last year I made these Coca-Cola Can bracelets. Every month it is still my most popular post. I hadn’t made any in quite awhile but a friend was disappointed that she never got one, so I had to pull my stuff out again to make some. This time I was a little bit more creative and we decided to bling them out a little bit more.

Go check out the first tutorial before you try to follow this tutorial, it will make everything easier!

Differences

Make the shape of the bracelet a little different, in the past I made them mostly square but the edges would catch on stuff and they would poke you or could rip.

You can choose to turn the edges back or forth. You will get a silver lining if they are turned out, but if they are turned under they will be less noticeable. It’s all about what you think looks best. I sometimes like the silver lining and sometimes want a cleaner edge. If you turn the edges under they shouldn’t scrape you as long as they are pressed very flat.

Instead of big holes for the ribbon, make very small holes with a pin and add jump rings. We also added metal clasps instead of ribbon for some of them. Or you can skip the holes all together if you roll the edges, and thread a small ribbon or elastic through.

Add more decoration to them by adding flowers or bows with hot glue.

Add fabric lining to give the bracelet a little more structure as well as comfort. I used t-shirt scraps because they don’t fray and just hot glued them in.

More Coca-Cola:
Coke Can Necklace
Decorating with Coca-Cola
Wallet with Charms from Coke Can
The Day I Wore a Coca-Cola T-shirt

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

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}

Save the Kitchen Towel! with Kitchen Towel Band

Everyone has a kitchen towel hanging on their oven door, right? There are lots of different ideas for how to get it to stay. Until lately, I would hang mine on and it would fall off. Or the baby would pull it off and it would be on the other side of the house by the time I needed it. I have seen lots of cute alterations I can do to my dish towels to fix the problem, but I like having a regular full size dish towel in reach for when I need it for something else. So in came the hair tie trick.

I just put an elastic band around the dish towel to keep it in place and it worked wonders. The baby hasn’t figured it out and just thinks it’s stuck. I decided it was a great idea and to share a cuter version with all of you. Don’t you hate when you think you’ve come up with something original and then after some research you see it somewhere else? (I totally did that with the nursing cover strap, they were called something else and everyone has thought of them already but they were on etsy under a different name. I didn’t find out until after I made a fool of myself! 🙂 That’s what happened to me today. I found some cute Dish Towel Belts over at Sassy Sanctuary. Lucky for me, she did them a little differently than I would so I am still going to show you my kitchen towel bands!

Materials:
Rubber Band (I still used a hair tie)
Big Silk or Fabric Flower (Three small ones would look cute too)
Scrap of felt
Hot glue
Button

Directions:
Hot glue the bottom of the flower to the rubber band. Glue on leaves as well but on the other side of the rubber band. Glue on the felt or fabric scrap to the back, just to hold everything in place a little bit better. Turn the flower over and add the smaller sections of petals by hot gluing them on. Finally, glue the button on top.

You might have noticed that this is the same idea as making a hair flower. It is, but it’s cooler because it’s for a towel now. Like the cheesy ad I made for it? We could make an infomercial and say, “But wait! if you call right now we’ll throw in two more free!” Because everyone needs 6 of these for all 6 ovens right?!

I thought it was cool, and it sure is useful. How would you embellish it differently?

For other crafty ideas check these posts out:
A Quick Trick to Protect Wood
Turkey Hair Clip (You could clip this to a hair tie to make a seasonal Towel Band!)
Mod Podged Coasters

Cowboy Woody Infant Costume


I’m kinda weird when it comes to costumes (check out my Elastagirl Costume). I like to have everything be an exact replica of the movie or exactly like the picture in my head. It’s hard to accept not having them come out perfect because their handmade, but they are closer to perfect than the cheap store bought costumes.

The Shirt
Materials:
Yellow Paint or Dye
Red Paint
White Onsie (You can save time with buying a yellow onsie, but I couldn’t find any that were plain)

The baby didn’t wear this much, so I wasn’t spending too much money on it, so I used what I had. I had a white onsie and the paint. The paint dried very crunchy so I only painted parts of it, and I actually just used acrylic paint and washed it before he wore it. Anyway, paint or dye the shirt yellow. We painted the front down to the waistline, the arms, and a little of the back by the arms. We also left white circles for the buttons. After it dried we painted the red stripes. We just free-handed the lines. Before putting it on the baby we had to stretch it out a whole bunch because of the paint.

The Vest
Materials:
White Fabric
Black Fabric (Something that won’t fray, like from an old t-shirt or felt)

I used a sweater vest that someone had given us to use as a pattern, you can use a onsie or something else, and cut out where the arms would be. I laid the vest flat and drew around the entire vest and cut out two of those in the white. I then folded one of them in half and cut it down the center. I put those two pieces together and cut a v-neck shape and rounded the bottom. (I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the process for you, I don’t feel that I am explaining this well without them but I’m sure you can figure out something!)

With the black fabric cut out cow spot shapes. It’s just like a cloud and can be whatever you want. This was the funnest part!

With black thread on the top and white thread in your bobbin sew on the cow spots wherever you would like. Since they won’t fray you don’t have to worry how pretty your sewing is as long as they are on there ok! I went with circle-ish shapes getting close to the edges. Ok, they were very rectangular circles, but you can’t tell!

Now you can sew the pieces of your vest together. Put the outsides together and sew the two top sides and the two bottoms sides. The vest was so easy and very cute!

The Boots

Materials:
Pleather (I should say vinyl, that’s what it really is but I scored at Goodwill and got it for just a couple bucks, you can use a cheaper plain brown fabric or something else if you want)
Baby Boot Pattern(I used McCalls M6342)
Embroidery Thread(Optional)
Sharpie

After the pieces were cut out I added design to the boots. There are little lines on the toe and a cactus on the outer side. I started embroidering, but then decided I liked the sharpie look just as much (it was more toy-ish) but I did a little of both and made the boots match. I also added tabs to both sides of both boots. The designs were copied from a picture of the character at disneyland but you can find other pictures online.

Mine were hand sewn because it is hard to maneuver the sewing machine around these tiny shoes. I took shortcuts with the pattern (pleather won’t fray so I didn’t do any unnecessary seams).

After the fact I realize that although they were cute the boots were the biggest waste of time, because they were quite a bit time consuming and the baby kicked them off every time he wore them and I couldn’t even keep them on long enough for the picture.

The Hat
Materials:
Pleather

You might want to go find some sort of pattern for the hat. Or if you are making this for a bigger kid you can find them cheaply everywhere. My dilemma was that my kid has a small head, so this is done kind of oddly. A soft lining would have been nicer for him too.

If you are making your own I used a dinner plate and a bucket hat that fit him to come up with a pattern. Cut out two of the dinner plate. Cut out one of the size of the top of the bucket hat plus an inch or two around. Cut out a rectangular shape that is the height of the bucket hat and long enough to go around the smaller circle (that you made from the top of the bucket hat) plus a couple of inches. Very exact, huh?

Sewing this gets kind of crazy too. If you have a better way, I would love to see it! First sew the rectangular shape to the smaller circle. Start with the right sides together at the edges and try to hold the circle as you feed the rectangle under the presser foot. Go slow and it should be easier than it seems. When you finish there should be ends touching each other. Sew those together with the right sides touching.

Next, put the right sides of your dinner plate circles together. Sew the outer edge. and then turn it inside out. Set the top part of the hat in the center of the dinner plate circles (this will be your brim) and mark where the top part of the hat is going to be. Now cut a small hole in the very center of your brim and cut a line to where you marked. Cut a few more lines from the center to where the top part will be. It should look like this.

Black is the dinner plate piece, the gray is where you marked where the rest of the hat will be, and the red is the cut lines.

Now you should be able to sew the rest of the hat to the brim. Fold the triangle shapes under the rest of the hat (trim them after) and sew the middle piece of the hat to the brim. Now you can trim those triangle shapes from the brim. I told you, it was kind of a tacky way of doing it but it worked.

The Bandana

Materials:
Red T-Shirt Fabric
White Paint Pen

I cut out a piece of a red t-shirt. I guessed on the whole pattern. I looked at a bib, but made it long enough that you could tie. I zig-zag stitched the edges and then my husband drew white X’s all over it.

The Belt
Materials:
Pleather
Belt Buckle

I was thinking about a cute “Woody” copy, but I was on a time crunch and couldn’t finish everything I wanted to do, so Grandpa’s belt buckle worked. I sewed a long strip of the pleather and stapled the buckle on. I wouldn’t do that for an older baby that gets into things but mine wasn’t doing to much of that then. I made sure the bottom of the staple was going towards the jeans so it wasn’t out to catch on anything. I punched a few holes in the pleather and called it good!

The Jeans
Materials:
Jeans

These were the easiest of all! I didn’t do a thing, we already had them!.

The Extras I Didn’t Do
If I had time I would have done these:
-Buttons to the shirt (I left some white circles when I painted but real buttons on the sleeves would have been cool
-A Sheriff Badge(I was looking for sticker that they give out to kids but never found one in time)
-Pull String (I had one of those retractable name badge things I wanted to rig up under the vest and just have a plastic circle showing)

Preschool Activities

I recently have posted a couple of preschool activities over at Arizona Mama. With the cute little girl I watch we made some Penny Pictures and our own Memory Match. These are both great activities to do with your little ones, so take a look. I got the greatest compliment from Melissa, another writer for Arizona Mama in a comment saying that she used the penny pictures to entertain her toddler. It’s always good to hear about your ideas being used!

Click here to see the penny pictures.

Click here to see the DIY memory match.

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!

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.