McAllen Public Library

The McAllen Public Library is located at 4001 N. 23rd St.

The McAllen Public Library is located at 4001 N. 23rd St.

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Small tables and chairs adorn part of the children’s section.

McAllen, Texas, has the reputation of being the most modern and progressive city in the Rio Grande Valley.  Now, it also boasts the title of having the largest single-floor public library in the United States.

Originally a Wal-Mart, the library has many features that make it unique.  Outside of the popular adult and children’s sections, it also has an area specifically for teens.  “We have a teen department that caters to kids between 13 and 18, and there is all kinds of stuff that draws them in, [like our] Teen Theater,” said Bobby Guevara, Reference Assistant.

The McAllen Public Library is the perfect place for any book lover to visit.  It features an expansive collection of literature.

This library is the perfect place for any book lover to visit. It features an expansive collection of literature.

The children’s section is colorful and has a computer lab and story room designed with little ones in mind.  The library also hosts a regular story time for toddlers.

Guevara continued, “We have [members] from all over the US.  Our Winter Texans have their library cards when they come here.”  Interested residents can start the process online and then come in with a valid ID and proof of address.  When they become members, they also have access to an online catalog and eBooks.

The non-fiction section of the library.

The non-fiction section of the library.

The McAllen Library also has a cafe, a bookstore run by volunteers, meeting rooms that can be rented out, a state of the art computer lab, and an auditorium that seats over 100 people.  Visitors are allowed to enjoy drinks in the library as long as they are covered.  In addition to the main location, there are also two branch libraries.  Interested parties can schedule tours.

With areas that cater specifically to children, teens and adults, the library is a popular family destination.  To find out more about the McAllen Public Library, please visit their website or their Facebook page.

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Sharkey’s Hair It Is

Sharkey's Hair It Is specializes in parties for little girls.

Sharkey’s Hair It Is specializes in parties for little girls.

The main floor of Sharkey's.

The main floor of Sharkey’s.

Walking into Sharkey’s Hair It Is is a visually stimulating experience.  With Hollywood lights lining the stylists’ mirrors, bold colors on the walls, a couple of televisions playing popular shows with options to play the Xbox, and pop culture music—both old and new—playing on the speaker, your attention is captured.

Originally based  in Connecticut as “Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids”, Sharkey’s Hair It Is was created to cater to the whole family.  With locations mostly in the East Coast US, and as far away as Ireland and Egypt , it is the first of its kind to show up in South Texas.  Owner of the local franchise, Marcos Saldivar, says, “My vision is to have one in each city here in South Texas.  We’re all about customer service.  When you come in, we treat you like you’re walking into somebody’s house.  We offer water and want people to feel comfortable.”

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This pink room is a popular party venue for little girls.

When asked what the secret of their three years of success has been, manager Mary Valdez commented, “We have good customer service for the kids.  A lot of parents tell us their children are requesting to come and get their hair cut here.  We treat the whole family.  They leave very happy.”  The aforementioned Xboxes, she notes, are there for whoever wants to play them, whether it be a child or an adult.

A popular venue among little girls, Sharkey’s offers two different birthday party packages.  One is for 12 girls for two hours at $375, and includes a hairstyle, make-up and nails.  They also get to dress up and play planned games in between.  Sharkey’s provides drinks and pizza, and parents have the option of bringing a cake.  The smaller package is for 6 girls for an hour and a half and includes all the same perks for $275.

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Two examples of the cars children can choose to sit in while getting their hair done.

Party Coordinator and stylist Karie Recio noted, “[Parents] like the space because they don’t have to do everything.  We have enough people to take care of the kids; it’s adapted for them, especially little girls.  They enjoy dressing up and being with the ladies.”

Haircuts for adults are $18, and $15 for children.  All haircuts come with a shampoo, and girls can get their nails done for no extra charge.  Children receive a balloon and a lollipop when they are done, and have the choice of sitting in a special car of their choice while being treated.

With great customer service and clientele, it looks like Sharkey’s Hair It Is is here to stay.

For more information on Sharkey’s, please visit their website or Facebook page.

Local Sharkey's manager, Mary Valdez, is very helpful and committed to her clients.

Local Sharkey’s manager, Mary Valdez, is very helpful and committed to her clients.

 

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Holiday Village Brownsville

The Holiday Village is sure to get visitors in the Christmas spirit.

The Holiday Village is sure to get visitors in the Christmas spirit.

With a crisp, wet breeze in the air, and Josh Groban singing, “O Holy Night,” on the loudspeaker, the Holiday Village in Brownsville is excitedly ushering in the Christmas season.

The, "Find Fritter the Elf," Challenge.

The, “Find Fritter the Elf,” Challenge.

Nestled in between the Camille Playhouse and The Children’s Museum of Brownsville, the village is lined with cottages sporting various themes and adorned with lights.

New cottages are added each year, and the events schedule is full of local elementary school, dance studio and middle school choir performances.  Admission is free.  Every Friday and Saturday evening, children are invited to visit with and take pictures with Santa Claus in the photo booth at no cost.

The Home Sweet Home Cottage, sponsored by Parra Furniture (2014).

The Home Sweet Home Cottage, sponsored by Parra Furniture (2014).

Most recently, the village added a “Find Fritter the Elf,” adventure, with Fritter hiding in a different house each evening. Participants are encouraged to find Fritter, take a picture in front of the host cottage, and post the photo on the Holiday Village Facebook page.  They are then entered into a drawing to win prizes from Krispy Kreme.

“I like taking my grandchildren because they add a new display every year.  It’s like a parade of lights, and the miniature homes spark their imaginations,” says Brownsville native Rosie Hatley.  “It’s nice to take a stroll with your family and enjoy the scenery and entertainment,” added Hatley.

The village is also a fun place to visit during the day, as it sits in Dean Porter Park and in close proximity to the Gladys Porter Zoo.  Holiday Village Hours are Sunday –Thursday, from 8:00 am–10:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday, from 8:00 am–11:00 pm.  For more information, please visit their website or their Facebook page.

A schedule of December's musical performances is on display at the Holiday Village.

A schedule of December’s musical performances is on display at the Holiday Village.

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The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art

The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is a gateway of opportunities.  Rounding out the Mitte Cultural District and located next door to Gladys Porter Zoo, it is an ideal place to visit for residents and tourists alike.  “A lot of people don’t know we’re here in the Mitte Cultural District,” remarked Brianda Manrique, BMFA Administrative Assistant and IT Coordinator.

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Mr. Lieck instructs two of his art students.

The museum features pieces done by different local and international artists in its permanent collection, and also offers art classes, community events and poetry talks.  Throughout the year, the museum hosts a number of exhibits and educational tours, with the most recent and successful one being King Tut.  Art teacher and director, Karl Lieck, observed, “Many of the students in Brownsville [that visit] have never been to a museum.  In turn, they bring their parents.”

“We are trying to promote art here in our community,” added Manrique.  During the month of October, the museum’s goal was to create the largest a de los muertos altar in the history of south Texas.  Día de los muertos is celebrated on November 2nd, and is a day to remember the lives of loved ones who have passed on.  “We live on the border and have lots of Mexican people,” shared Manrique, “and for us, the altar is to honor and remember our loved ones.”  Altars typically include pictures, decorations like flowers and skulls, and food.  Visitors to the museum this last month, received two sugar skulls to decorate, one to leave at the large altar, and the other to take home.

An example of an altar.  This one was made for Selena Quintanilla, a Tejano legend.

An example of an altar. This one was made for Selena Quintanilla, a Tejano legend.

In the summer months of June – August, the museum offers 10-week art and music classes.  The music classes include instruction in violin, guitar and piano.  The hours are  Monday–Friday, 10–4, with the camp providing supplies and lunch for the children.  Since the Brownsville Farmers’ Market is held right outside the museum year round on Saturdays, entrance to the museum on Saturday mornings from 9–12 is free.

They are open later than usual on Wednesdays (until 8) and offer 50% off the regular entrance price on those days.  To commemorate día de los muertos, the museum will have free admission on November 1st and 2nd.  To learn more about BMFA, please visit their Facebook page or website.

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 storiesbytheseashore.blogspot.com

 

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Journey Preschool Pumpkin Patch

The Journey Preschool Pumpkin Patch

The Journey Preschool Pumpkin Patch

Located on East Harrison Avenue in Harlingen, the Journey Preschool Pumpkin Patch brings a glimpse of autumn to the Rio Grande Valley.  With an enclosed batch of pumpkins, a playground, stacks of hay and a corn crib, families enjoy a unique cultural experience and great place to take pictures.

Pumpkins range in size and price, starting at $2.

Pumpkins range in size and price, starting at $2.

Unloaded on Saturday, October 17th, the pumpkins hail from a company in New Mexico that employs Native Americans on a reservation.  “We get them right after they’re harvested, so they’re fresh,” says Michaela Buddle, Assistant Director of Journey Preschool and Pumpkin Patch coordinator.  The First United Methodist Church has hosted this annual fundraiser for 13 years, with the preschool taking ownership of it the last 3.  “The proceeds go to our new toys, items in the classroom, and this year, we are hoping to give a little Christmas bonus to the teachers,” added Buddle.  A portion of the earnings also go back to the Native American farmers.

All of the sales workers for the fundraiser are volunteers, like Journey parent Katarina Pierani, a Brazilian transplant.  “I love Journey.  They are awesome here and do a great job.  They do so much for the kids, I wanted to do something for them,” Pierani shared.

Parent volunteer, Katarina Pierani, enjoys the corn crib with her daughter.

Parent volunteer, Katarina Pierani, enjoys the corn crib with her daughter.

On Wednesday evenings, the patch hosts movie night at 6 pm.  The events held in the patch are always free and open to the public.  There is also a concession stand in the event that attenders want to purchase snacks.  “It’s a safe environment with a playground where the kids can come without you worrying about them running out to the street.  It’s like welcoming fall; it’s a different activity to do with the children.  They have so much fun in the corn crib,” commented Buddle.

With scheduled field trips from mostly local schools, volunteer storytellers also make an appearance to read books about fall.  The students then get to pick their own pumpkin to purchase, and end their visit with a game.

On October 31st, Journey usually has leftover pumpkins, and adopts a “take a pumpkin and please leave a donation” policy.  Local farmers gladly take the rotten pumpkins.  Hours of the pumpkin patch are Monday–Friday, 8:30 am–12:30 pm, then 3:00 – 8:00 pm, on Saturdays, 8:30 am–8:00 pm and on Sundays 12:30–8:00 pm.  For more information on this fun, family friendly excursion, please visit their website.

The pumpkin patch provides many photo opportunities.

The pumpkin patch provides many photo opportunities.

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The Children’s Museum of Brownsville

Pictured here is part of the outdoor portion of the Children's Museum: the painting wall and xylophones.

Pictured here is part of the outdoor portion of the Children’s Museum: the painting wall and xylophones.

Children shop at an HEB made just for them.

Children shop at an HEB made just for them.

The Children’s Museum of Brownsville sits in the heart of the Mitte Cultural District, surrounded by the picturesque Dean Porter Park.  Established in 2005, the nonprofit is celebrating 10 years of serving the community.  Executive Director, Felipe Peña, has plans to grow and expand.  “We are adding a 3,000 square foot learning garden in our outdoor space,” he commented.

Tomorrow evening the museum will host their 8th Annual Night at the Museum, with the theme, “Fabulous Las Vegas.”  The funds raised will go towards finishing the second shade structure that will be part of the outdoor garden.

Stepping into the children’s building, little ones and adults alike are met with bright colors and an array of discovery zones.  “Children don’t want to leave,” said Peña, “And they also learn.  They learn how to share, compromise and work together.”

With a medical section, an HEB grocery shopping area, reading nook, construction and fishing zones, each child is sure to find an activity that stimulates them.

Hours of the Children's Museum are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m, and Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Hours of the Children’s Museum are Tuesday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m, and Sunday, 12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Inclusive and encouraging, the museum has different programs that cater to their growing population.  Bright and Special Spot is art therapy that is open to anyone who has a special needs child.  Allowing for 20 participants, a teacher leads the class every Saturday morning from 10:00-11:00 a.m.

The last Thursday of every month is Free Community Night from 5:00–7:00 p.m.  Participants enter for free and get to enjoy the exhibits as well.  “Everyday we get people who visit for the first time,” Peña added, “there is still a lot of exposure that needs to come.”

Annual membership for a family of four is $100, which includes discounts on summer camps and in the gift shop.  The larger membership is $140, and allows access to hundreds of children’s museums all over the country.  Long time member, Amanda Sampayo, had the following to say about being a member:  “We’ve seen the progression of our son’s playtime.  Coming here is a way to have community.  It’s inside, safe and cool.  It’s clean and [the children] are allowed to explore.”

Regular fees are $6 per person.  For more information on the Brownsville Children’s Museum, please visit their Facebook page or their website www.cmofbrownsville.com

Children enjoying exploring this boat and fishing.

Children enjoy exploring this boat and fishing.

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 storiesbytheseashore.blogspot.com

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The Village Play Cafe

The scene:  A strip mall off of Price Road in Brownsville.  You walk in and immediately question if, somehow, you have been magically transported to Austin, Texas.  Bob Marley is playing and a cute barista greets you with, “Hi, welcome to The Village.”  Hipster at its core, a quick glance around reveals chalk art advertising, choice pastries and a children’s soft play area.  That’s right, it’s a coffee shop and a fun place where children can play.  The place is a paradox.  And that’s exactly what owner and creator, Jessica Lopez, originally had in mind for The Village Play Cafe.

Owner and creator, Jessica Lopez, chats with guests while serving them.

Owner and creator of The Village Play Cafe, Jessica Lopez, prepares a Dandy Blend Mocha.

“This place is for the moms, the parents, the caregivers,” she explained.  “From the research that I’ve done, I know that some of the most important years in a child’s life are the first 3-5.  But it’s also one of the loneliest times for the parents, especially the mothers.  This is a place that caregivers can enjoy.”  A mom of young children herself, Lopez recognizes the change that occurs when transitioning from adulthood to parenthood.  She wanted to create a space where parents could connect with one another without having to worry about getting a babysitter.  “When people bring their children here, the children think it’s all for them.  But really, it’s for the parents.”

Filled with bright colors and large shapes, the soft play area is incredibly stimulating.  Geared specifically towards children ages 0-4, the space invites them to explore, create and jump around in their socks without worry of injury.  The objects can be stacked, and, though little visitors have yet to discover this, are held together by pieces of velcro.  Inspired originally by her very active first-born daughter when she was one-year old, Lopez noticed that parks and parties were not always safe areas.  “It became work for me, whenever I took her to a park or party; I never really got to sit down and take a break,” she noted.  The daughter of a school teacher, Lopez also wanted The Village to be inclusive for special needs children and their families.

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A couple of children enjoy the soft play area.

Everything, from the floor, to the walls, and the toys themselves, is soft.

Everything, including the floor and the walls, is soft.

A big visionary, she has abstract art by local artists displayed on the walls, and plans on alternating them seasonally to give new talent exposure.  Older siblings are allowed to play on the mats as long as they are respectful.  There is also a homework nook towards the back of The Village where students can work on school work or other projects.  Free wi-fi is also available.  Plans for the month of September include getting photographers to conduct mini-photo sessions for families in attendance.  Future plans include bringing in yoga instructors, jewelry makers and masseuses.  Lopez and her sister, Karen Ramos, want to collaborate with other local businesses.  They hope that The Village Play Cafe becomes a, “Mother Hub.”

Though there are available day passes, Lopez strongly encourages getting a membership.  Children 0-4 can have a day pass for $12 (siblings in the same age group get a 50% off discount), and everyone else gets in free.  Monthly membership is $60.  Both day passes and membership allow for guests to stay as long as they want.  Pastries, sandwiches and a variety of high quality coffee are available for reasonable prices.

 

A local mom, Viviana Medina, works on a school assignment

A local mom, Viviana Medina, works on a school assignment.

As you walk around the play cafe, it is booming with brilliance and potential.  It is well on its way to being the support system Lopez envisions for its members:  a village.  For more information, please visit their website: thevillageplaycafe.liveeditaurora.com You can also look them up on Instagram: @thevillageplaycafe

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 storiesbytheseashore.blogspot.com

 

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Spend $30 and get $10.00 back!

Join Children’s Orchard, McAllen, this weekend for a grand event!

April 11-13th , 2014!

Spend $30 and get $10 back!

For more information call Children’s Orchard At:

(956) 631 9600
5101 N. 10th St.
McAllen, TX. 78504

Sweet Deal!

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Free Craft Workshops for Kids

By: Melissa Honsberger Mom Squad Member

By: Melissa Honsberger
Mom Squad Member

Being a mom of two can be a handful on weekends. I get bombarded with “Mom I’m bored can we go to the movies” or “Mom I want pizza can we go play at Chuck E Cheese” and if you moms and dads are like me, you don’t always want to surround yourself with an extra 75 screaming kids at the local pizzeria, not to mention the 50 to 75 dollars it takes to entertain the idea. So instead, for days just like the above reference, I have always tried to find new, exciting and not to mention frugal ways to take my children for a special treat. One of those special treats is the free children’s workshop that The Home Depot offers. These workshops are extremely hands on for the kids and help to get them involved with other kids to construct and assemble and burn lots of energy building their projects. The projects change for every workshop, some being in reference to a new movie coming out that all the kids are begging us to see, in example they are offering a Rio 2 themed workshop on Saturday April 5th at 9:00am, in this workshop the children will be making a bird feeder/ bird bath. I have personally found that these workshops are so much fun for my kids, being able to work with tools, and glue and paint to make something that they can take home and use and knowing they made it themselves is so exciting for them and the fact that these workshops are 100% FREE is extremely exciting for us parents!! Another FRUGAL crafts spot for the kids is at Lake Shore Learning. They offer craft days every Saturday from 11:00am to 3:00pm. These workshops are 100% FREE as well! These workshops are great ways to get the kids out and to burn that energy and instead of bringing home a tummy ache from pizza and candy they bring home a token of their hard work. As well as boosting our kid’s creative skills, these workshops have mercy on our bank accounts.

 

Melissa Honsberger

 

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Tag and Sell your Kiddos Clothes

 

By: Etta V. Rivera Mom Squad Member

By: Etta V. Rivera
Mom Squad Member

The first day of Spring…. Started off like any other day. Waking up late to the alarm, getting the kids to school. Making my way back home with my youngest son to a list of chores to do today.  When I was a kid, the first day of Spring meant I was that much closer to getting to color , hunt and brake open that Easter Basket! Now as a Mother to 3 very active children, The first day of Spring means; planning to buy their Easter baskets soon…before they sell out of them at the stores and start SPRING CLEANING. We Mothers all do it, putting if off till the very last minute, not wanting to get rid of their baby clothes just yet. Also wanting to get the best price for their clothes. I have recently found out about “Just Between Friends” an event that will be taking place in April. Just Between Friends is a two day event where you can sell your gently used children or maternity clothes or products. They except top name brand items and there is a $12 fee for selling (which is worth it if you have a lot of good clothes or toys). I have signed up to sell and shop at this event. You can get into this event for free with a guest pass. I have just started getting all the clothes together that I be selling at Just Between Friends. My next step is to tag all the clothes and products I have. I really can’t wait for this event and I will be keeping ya’ll updated on how the tagging and proper drop off goes. I can’t wait for this event to happen…not only to make some extra cash but to see what i can find for my kids. Cause we all know they grow so fast! So just a reminder ladies and men don’t wait the last minute to clean out those closets.

https://www.jbfsale.com/home.jsp

just between friends feb 2014 (2)

By:

Etta V. Rivera

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