Nurse Family Partnership – RGV

Expecting, new moms get support from Nurse Family Partnership :

When a woman is pregnant for the first time, she has dozens of questions and just as many opinions from friends and family. How can she learn to make the best choices for her and her baby? To help pregnant Valley women and new mothers through those unfamiliar times, the Nurse-Family Partnership pairs a first-time mother with her very own, personal nurse to guide her through pregnancy and give her expert health advice.


The national program launched in the Valley in 2012 and is offered for FREE by DHR Health Women’s Hospital. There is no waiting list at this time, and friendly nurses just like Gabby Calzada are ready to help expecting moms of all ages be the best moms they can be.


Vanessa Bocanegra was a high school senior and 24 weeks pregnant when she learned about Nurse-Family Partnership. Although she was nervous to meet Gabby, Vanessa was quickly put at ease and glad she made the decision to join the program.



Gabby met with Vanessa every other week throughout her pregnancy. Vanessa’s son Damian is now 14 months old and doing well, and Vanessa credits her nurse with making her feel proud to be a mom and fall even more in love with her son. Vanessa is confident in her parenting skills, because she knows how to listen for or notice exactly what Damian needs. Gabby has also given her important parenting support and answers at the times when she needed them the most.


There is not a waiting list for the Valley’s Nurse-Family Partnership program.


Pregnant women in Hidalgo County who are eligible for these free services can enroll immediately. Once enrolled, a first-time mother is connected with a personal nurse who can answer her questions about what to expect during her pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of her baby. To find out more, pregnant moms can visit

Helping First-Time Parents Succeed – Nurse-Family Partnership

With your very own free Nurse­-Family Partnership personal nurse, you will get the support, advice and information you need during your pregnancy and when your baby arrives.

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The Brownsville Farmers’ Market

Located at Linear Park in the heart of the Mitte Cultural District, the Brownsville Farmers’ Market is an exotic blend of vendors, flavors and goods.   A quick glance around reveals quality produce, smiling faces and acoustic entertainment.  It is a weekly community event where you can meet the people growing your food.  “We don’t charge our vendors, and we invite anyone who is growing non-pesticide and non-chemical produce to participate.  We provide tents and tables obtained through grants,” says Farmers’ Market Manager, Veronica Rosenbaum.  “We started off in 2008 with six to twelve vendors, and now we have over thirty.  We are growing!”  Her long-term vision is to fill the entirety of Linear Park.

Locals shop at the Brownsville Farmers' Market.

Locals shop at the Brownsville Farmers’ Market.

A vendor since its beginning, Debbie Cox, affectionately referred to as “The Herb Lady,” enjoys the overall atmosphere.  “It’s a gathering place, great for families,” she said, “You can bring your pets and enjoy the music while you do a leisurely shop around.  It’s really just a lot of fun.”

With fresh honey, herbs, coffee, tamales, smoothies, vegetables and snacks, the market has something for everyone.  Located right off of the Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail, a family can bike to the market from different points in the city.  Surrounded by grassy areas, children can safely play while caregivers peruse.  Part of the Brownsville Wellness Coalition, the market encourages families to make nutritious choices.  Alice Abbott sold her healthy baked bread at the market for the first time in 2008, and sold out in 20 minutes.  “As a result of the Farmers’ Market, I have a commercial kitchen.  It’s a great thing for the community.  I believe in buying local.  This is just a positive, healthy thing.”

A display of local honey and homemade jam.

A display of local honey and homemade jam.

The phrase, “healthy tamales” may sound like an oxymoron to some, but not to Israeli-born Avi Schwartz.  “Our tamales are made with olive oil and pure corn.  We cook our own and blend it with natural and fresh ingredients.  We use fresh chicken, not frozen, as well as pork.  We are the only ones with specially made cheese, with a higher creamy content and less salt,” he revealed.

“Our falafel is a specialty item.  Falafel is more popular in the Middle East than tacos in Mexico!  My recipe is an Israeli recipe.  We use dried garbanzo beans we soak overnight and cook the next day, cilantro, parsley and Middle Eastern spices.  We grind it and cook it in canola oil.  Our falafel is unique because it is made from scratch.  The only thing that comes out of a box is the salt and black pepper.  The result is a very soft and tender inside, with a crispy outside.”

No stranger to being a transplant, Dallas native Graham Sevier Schultz offers individual servings of coffee as they are ordered.  “I make every drink as it’s ordered, so the ingredients are fresh.  Anything that uses syrup, I make the syrup myself, and anything that uses fruit juice, I squeeze it myself.  I order the beans from a restaurant in San Antonio, so they are never more than two or three days old when I get them.”  He added, “We make good expressos, but are bringing in new ideas of coffee, called Third Wave Coffee: a lighter roast with quality ingredients and special attention to detail.”

A visit to the Brownsville Farmers’ Market leaves people with happy bellies, eager to return for more.  As a place that encourages families to make healthy choices and buy organic, it is already a Brownsville legacy.  For more information on the market, visit their Facebook page. Hours are 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., every Saturday year round.


Giana Gallardo Hesterberg is passionate about many things, including being a wife, mother, teacher, speaker, blogger, gardener and friend. You can follow some of her adventures on her blog

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5 Kid-Tested Tips for Healthy Eating

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve healthy eating, but then again, so do some of my worst memories.  So how do you get your kids to remember eating their veggies as a good memory instead of the traumatizing them for life?

Bad childhood memory time…please don’t serve Lima beans straight out of a can on a regular basis or mounds of steamed brussels sprouts the size of golf balls. Why not?  Because of you do this I can almost guarantee that all of your efforts to get your kids to eat healthy will be in vain.  Think about it, even if they manage to stomach them now, of all the vegetables you will serve them in their lifetime these bad experiences will probably be what stands out in their minds when they are adults, making them shy away from nutritional powerhouses like brussels sprouts in the future.

Even myself who pretty much loves eating every fruit or vegetable still struggle when I get to lima beans and ugh steamed whole Brussels sprouts really…can I get a side of cheese sauce with that.  The smell of Brussel sprouts steaming alone is enough to clear the table.  Try a fresh shredded brussels sprout and apple salad or even sautéed chopped brussels sprouts with onions and garlic as a sandwich topping instead.

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My husband liking his Brussel sprout salad….30 years later and a Sauteed Brussel Sprout Sandwich mmm…

So what else can you do to make healthy eating a good childhood memory?  The following 5 tips are what worked for my parents when they were raising me and what has worked for me so far with my kids, check them out.

1.  Get cooking…..together.

My best childhood memories are set in the kitchen, cooking with my grandma.  Not that everything she taught me to cook was “healthy” but it sure was fun.  All kids want to “help.” Yes, I know 6 year olds may not seem like the best helpers, especially after they spill a pitcher of fresh squeezed juice all over the floor, but that is just part of being a parent.  When learning about food and healthy eating it is important to know what goes into your meals. What better way to teach kids what is in their meal than by having them help prepare it.  Kids are more likely to taste something new if they had a hand in making it because not only are they are proud of their creation but they are curious.  A few ways my son helps me in the kitchen are…

  • gathering ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator.
  • washing the produce.
  • chopping soft foods (such as mushrooms) with a butter knife.
  • mixing and measuring.
  • layering ingredients (sandwiches, pizza, lasagna…pretty much anything that has to be assembled in layers).
  • pressing the button (on the blender, toaster, food processor, juicer, etc) with adult supervision of course.
  • setting the table.
  • and my favorite, cleaning-up.

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My oldest son “helping” make fresh squeezed juice

2.  Serve the rainbow.

You hear this over and over but what does it mean? No you don’t have to spend hours making your food look like perfectly sculpted rainbows, animals and such. Just add a splash of color to each meal. How do you do this?

  • Serve a side of fruit or veggies.
  • Add finely chopped veggies to family favorites.  (Put some avocado or diced tomatoes next to your quesadilla.)
  • Use a variety of fruits and vegetables. (After a while even favorites get boring, you can only eat broccoli so many ways in a week.)
  • Make burgers.  After-all, eating burgers and fries is not the unhealthy mistake most people make, scarfing down greasy take out on a regular basis is the mistake.  Burgers should be layered with color green guacamole and lettuce, purple onions, and juicy red tomatoes, and surrounded by crispy baked sweet potato fries.

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Dinner and some lovely rainbow chard at the farmer’s market

3.  Take your kids shopping.

Who loves going grocery shopping?….Um not me. But for some reason picking, counting and weighing produce is fun, to my son. That is probably because he doesn’t notice the 1,000 other people trying to get to the tomatoes on Sunday evening at HEB. Yeah, I go to the grocery store and not everything in my house is organic because really I do have a life and driving to 20 different places to buy the things on my list is just not realistic.

The goal is to know what to buy when you are at the store, if it comes in a box with a long list of ingredients you don’t understand….it is probably not the healthiest choice.  You should shop for ingredients to make meals; not packaged meals.  Frozen veggies are a better substitute for fresh than canned veggies.  For one, they just come out looking better plus they don’t have as many preservatives.

Make it a goal to go to the local farmer’s market (as a family) at least once a month, taste what the vendors are offering, and buy a couple of your fresh seasonal favorites.  Click here for a listing of RGV Farmer’s Markets.

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Fresh cherry tomatoes and serrano peppers.

4.  Make eating a family affair.

Who really likes eating alone, come on, that is just sad and you know it. Even if it is just me and my 11 month old at home and he is not hungry but it is lunch time for mama, guess who is going to sit in his high chair and have a bowl of diced fruit. Yeah it may mean your meal is not very peaceful and that you will slip on a slobbery piece of apple when you stand up but seriously they are so cute even when they are a mess. Make a goal for how many times you will eat as a family this week.

Teach older kids how to set the table and and enjoy mealtime conversation without the TV blaring. Yeah, it may take some time before your 6 year old learns how to eat with his mouth closed and not to speak with a jaw full of spaghetti; but this is the time to teach them.

Eating together also means eating the same food together. I know lots of parents who let their kids eat first because their food is ready first….because what they serve themselves is different than what they serve their kids….sorry guys but this is not cool. It is just more work for you now and more importantly, in the long run because bad habits are hard to break. Growing up if I said I wanted frozen chicken nuggets instead of wherever was cooking, it would not have been received favorably because my mom and dad were not short order cooks. Plus, if you want your kid to eat a variety of foods and have a sophisticated palette….serve them real food that you want to eat too and eat it together.

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My two little boys at the dinner table

5.  Be a food role-model.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to go on a strict diet.  A healthy relationship with food is beneficial for every member of the family. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too….just not at every meal. So what could you do?

  • Model eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day.
  • Choose fresh local foods when you can.
  • Make good restaurant choices
  • Enjoy meal time as family time.
  • Plan your meals. Not that you have to stick to a rigid plan but having an idea of what you are going to cook saves a lot of shopping time and money spent on things that sit in the pantry unused before getting sent to the food bank before it is too late.
  • Educate yourself.  For you this may mean learning about the food pyramid on, taking a cooking class  at the McAllen Culinary Academy or making a new recipe board on Pinterest.  Whatever you do, take some time to reflect on your eating habits and make a couple healthy goals for you and your family.

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Orange Cranberry Muffins and Breakfast crepes are oh so sweet!

Check out my food blog and follow me on Instagram for more of my healthy eating ideas.


Audrey Cisneros


P.S. Don’t forget to check out the McAllen Culinary Academy

2900 N 10th St McAllen TX 78501

(956) 683-0021

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Giveaway: oogiebear

Good Morning RGV!!

It’s another day in this yucky cold weather. Wishing for Summer!!! As parents, we all dread this time year because we know the time is ticking before the kiddos get sick.  The hardest ones to console are our infants and babies. We all dread using the booger suction ( Aspirator bulbs), or using our fingernails with tissue to remove those yucky stubborn boogers! Well here is neat solution and alternative the OOGIEBEAR!! RGV Tots-Tweens found this great product at the ABC Kids Expo!


The Oogiebear was developed by mother and Registered Pharmacist, Dr. Nina Farzin, oogiebear was developed with comfort in mind, offering two unique ends to remove mucus effectively to help children breathe easier and soothe them at a time of incredible discomfort. With it’s loop end that’s great for sticky yuck mucus, and scoop for removing crusty boogies OOGIEBEAR is a life safer!!



Features & Benefits:

  • Two sided design: loop end for sticky mucus and scoop end for dried mucus
  • soft rubber coating is slip-free and gentle against skin
  • fun design prevents tool from being inserted too deeply
  • simple design makes every surface easy to clean
  • latex-, BPA- and PVC-free
  • more effective than aspirator bulbs, suction tubes, and saline sprays
  • can be used in little ears too!

For more information on the oogiebear or to purchase one visit:


We are giving away ONE OOGIEBEAR!!

Who is ready to tackle those BOOGIES?????


To Enter for your chance to win a OOGIEBEAR, follow the instructions below! This contest ends on Monday January 19th!

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Organizing BreastMilk

The Milkies Freeze is a “first in, first out” breast milk storage system that fits in your freezer. Simply collect your precious breast milk in any milk storage bag, and place the bag on the metal quick-freeze tray at the top of the Freeze.






Milkies FREEZE Product Review-  The tray that lays on top of the storage compartment really sets this item apart from others!  Perfectly flat and frozen baggies every time. The tray is metal though, so the condensation that forms from a warm bag of milk on a cold metal tray can cause bags to stick. I just put a paper towel between the tray and bag. Great product if you go through your milk quickly. I recommend storing 3-4oz per bag to keep bags from getting stuck in the compartment and to keep them flat enough to store and remove easily. Easy way to stay organized.

Review by: Monica Black
BellyView 3d/4d Ultrasound
Mcallen, TX


What does Milkies Freeze Do:

  • Enclosed storage keeps milk storage bags protected from damage and prevents leaks
  • Efficient, space-saving design stores more milk in less space
  • First in, first out system ensures that oldest milk is used first
  • Can be used with any milk storage bag
  • Disassembles for easy cleaning
  • Stores up to 60 ounces of breast milk in any brand of milk storage bag
  • Metal “quick-freeze” tray facilitates rapid freezing
  • Prevents contamination of your precious breast milk

Milkies Freeze is $29.95 available at or call 1-800-367-2837.  Winner of the Cribsie Awards!  Another Great product we found at the ABC Kids Expo!



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MOMin- Really Works!!

Mosquito and Bug Bite Relief SAFE for the whole Family!!


Here is another great product RGV Tots-Tweens found the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas:

Living in Texas we have a mosquito and bug problem. The bugs LOVE to suck our blood. While at the ABC KIDS Expo we found this product called MOMin Outdoor Shield, Herbal Insect Bite Relief, all Organic and USDA approved product line. The owners swore left and right it WORKS. So we took some samples and here are our findings.




My mom took the samples to Brownsville, and if anyone knows the Rio Grande Valley, it is MOSQUITOVille after a rain. Being the green thumb that she is, she decided to garden one afternoon. After being bitten she came in and applied the MOMin Outdoor Shield, Herbal Insect Bite Relief.  In less than 20 minutes all the redness, itching and swelling went away. She called me right up and said “It WORKS”!
















The other sample stayed in San Antonio, Texas. My husband after mowing the grass had numerous bug bites on both ankles. First night the bites kept him up. The next day he stopped at the local pharmacy and bought some cooling spray. That evening I mentioned the MOMin Outdoor Shield, Herbal Insect Bite Relief, he tried it and had a good night sleep.  The next day he had a few bites lingering, reapplied the MOMin Outdoor Shield, Herbal Insect Bite Relief and all the bites were gone that day. The results were amazing. This product WORKS!

For more info visit and to order:


Register below for your chance to win a OutdoorShield® Organic Herbal Outdoor Repellent! 100% NATURAL and GMO FREE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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New Mom Blues
By: Lisa Lopez
Mom Squad Member

 New Mom Blues:

An acquaintance of mine shared a blog on Facebook recently discussing how lonely it can be to be a new mom. I guess I hadn’t really considered myself lonely until I read that blog. My two closest friends are also new moms but live in different cities, so inevitably, we are growing apart. It’s just not easy to make plans to see each other or even have phone conversations with the demands of being a new mom.

I think my situation is made worse because I work from home. I don’t have any social interaction with my coworkers, only emails and the occasional online chat.

After work, our schedule is pretty routine: wake Lola from nap. Go for a family walk if it is not too hot. Fight Lola to eat dinner. Fight Lola to go to bed. Wake up several times during the night to tend to Lola. Repeat.

I know I need to put in perspective that my daughter needs me the most right now. After a few years, she will prefer to be with her friends instead of me. This is the time I need to focus on her, making sure her needs are being met and her growth is on the right path.

Still, I know I am losing my network of friends, along with my identity. We took our family portraits last weekend (Lola was not very cooperative, so I doubt we will have any good shots), and the photographer wanted to take a few shots of just me (and then just my husband). I was taken aback. Why would I have pictures taken by myself? My arms felt the ache of Lola not being in them. I am so used to being Lola’s mom. Who is Lisa anymore?

I am fortunate to have a very close friend in Harlingen (we were best friends in high school), but she has a demanding work and home life schedule. I relish the time I get to spend with her, but I can’t depend on her to be my everything. I got introduced to a homeschooler’s group in Harlingen (Harlingen Relaxed Homeschoolers on Facebook), but it is a challenge because I am supposed to be working when they meet. I know I need to find an outlet, some other mommy friends, but it is not easy. So, for now, I will continue to count my blessings and appreciate the time I have with my daughter.


Lisa Lopez
Tots-Tweens/Mom Squad Member
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Child Care Woes

By: Lisa Lopez Mom Squad Member

By: Lisa Lopez
Mom Squad Member

It has been a challenging time in our household. I’ve written before about our full-time nanny. She had to miss work for a week while her dad was sick in an out-of-state hospital. She has missed a day of work before here and there when she was sick, but this was her first extended time away.

It was hard trying to replace her. I found a nanny on that looked great. She was young, had her own daughter, and had a ton of glowing reviews. I thought I had hit the jackpot! We hired her for the whole week except she asked for Good Friday off, so we needed to find someone to fill in on Friday. No problem, right? Wrong.

She arrived on Monday with her 20-month-old daughter in tow. Her daughter took over the house: playing with Lola’s toys, terrorizing our dog, etc. Her mom did little to control her. I overheard her mom saying how she was going to tell daddy how she misbehaved all day. When our daughter was napping, she didn’t know how to use the monitor so she left it behind. I tried showing her to use it but she wasn’t interested. Our daughter woke up crying and the nanny did not come to get her. She explained she was tending to her daughter. And why are we paying you again? Needless to say, we did not ask her to return on Tuesday.

We had a total of five caregivers for our daughter that week, including my mom who is 82 (she can only do so much) and my husband’s aunt (who isn’t much younger than my mom). But we did have a really good experience with another nanny we found on

We weren’t sure if our nanny would return from leave. She did, but had to leave again this week for her father’s funeral. Unfortunately, before we knew the news of her father’s passing, we had decided to move forward with the new, good nanny. She just seemed to have much more passion and energy for the job than our current nanny had. Our current nanny had stopped taking our daughter for walks in her stroller a couple of months ago. After six months working for us, it just felt like she had become complacent.

We want our daughter to develop at the right pace; be mentally stimulated; have daycare without the daycare, you know? It was a tough decision. There were a lot of tears and we felt like jerks with the timing of everything. But we want the best for our daughter, and that is the bottom line.

Ultimately, we are looking at enrolling our daughter in the Montessori school when she is old enough (18 months). We just want her to be prepared when she gets there. We could have taken the easy route and kept our current nanny, but we want more than just someone who goes through the motions. We want her caregiver to also be her teacher, and I think we found that right match.

Lisa Lopez

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Potty Training

By: Melissa Honsberger Mom Squad Member

By: Melissa Honsberger
Mom Squad Member

When my 2 year old started recognizing she was wet and uncomfortable in her diaper, I thought to myself Hallelujah!! She is ready to start potty training. I started fantasizing about never having to change a diaper ever again. We ran out pronto to buy her the pinkest, sparkling, noisiest potty we could find. We rushed home to set it up, sat her on it and within three seconds she said “All done” and wanted nothing to do with it. I wasn’t going to let that stop my dreams of being diaper free. Every day I sat with her while she sat on her potty. I read her books, I sang her songs, and she played the IPad. After countless times of sitting there for what seemed like forever she never went and five minutes after getting her diaper put back on she would go. I felt so defeated. So I looked up ways to get her interested in her potty. All these sites had the most outrageous tips and tricks to accomplish potty training and I thought to myself who has the time to do all this…Not me that’s for sure. One of the tips said to just put your foot down and take them off diapers cold turkey, so I did. I bought Gerber Training Underwear that had an extra thick layer for absorption, those failed miserably. My daughter would just pee in them, peel them off and throw them on the floor. I thought what can I do to entice her? I thought about a prize every time she went but that would get pricey. So I thought why not just a simple treat. So I went to HEB and bought a $3.00 plastic jar and a huge bag of M&Ms. I told my daughter you get 3 M&Ms for number 1 and 5 M&Ms for number 2. Low and behold she ran to her potty shimmied her Pull Up off and peed in her potty! and after said “Mommy I want my M&Ms”. The jar has slowly dwindled down and she rarely asks for them anymore but always uses the potty. Moral of the story is this whole potty training thing doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth, or laying plastic tarps all over your home, or scrubbing pee out of the couches and rugs. All it took was jar of colorful goodness.

Melissa Honsberger

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Dr. Spinetti’s Perfect Feeding Bottle

dr spinetti's perfect feeding v2

Dr. Nelson Spinetti, a pediatric Gastroenterologist in Edinburg, TX. has created the ONLY bottle that guide parents how to properly calculate and increase a baby’s feeding.  He recognized that education in Gastro- Esphageal Reflux Disease ( GERD), and proper feeding techniques would prevent and improve symptoms related to overfeeding, such as vomiting, gastroesophageal reflux and colic.

Dr Spinetti has developed is an ergonomically shaped bottle which is designed to limit the possibility of taking in air along with the formula and revolutionary feeding scale.

The scale was designed in the perfect amount on calories and liquids for perfect growing. If parents follow the chart on the side of the bottle, the baby will receive the appropriate amount of formula per feeding so they will not suffer for larger than necessary volume amount and subsequent various maladies caused by overfeeding.

Check out how it works and testimonials at or call 956-682-2244.




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