Summer Camps 2018!

Hello RGV FANS. Summer is around the corner. Have you signed up the kiddos for Summer Camps? Looking for ideas? Well here are great selections for you to choose from!

Summer Camps kids 2018

 

Nadia’s School of  Dance-  Ages: 2-11. Mission, TX 956-534-0132

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Language Success- Mcallen, TX 956-683-8810

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Camp Invention- Mcallen, TX  1-800-968-4332

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Albartos Colegio Infantil- Edinburg 956-683-1977 & McAllen, 956-928-1966

 

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Danz Force Academy- McAllen TX 956-400-1068

 

 

 

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Jing’s Gymnastics- Mission 956-585-4967 & Pharr 956-702-4967

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Musical Living Academy- McAllen, TX 956-221-3145

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All Star Basketball- McAllen TX – 956-627-0390

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Susy’s Art & Summer Camps- McAllen, TX 956-617-6527 or 956-627-0677

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La Quinta Mazatlan- McAllen, TX 956-681-3370

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Art Connection- McAllen, TX – 956-330-4335

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KinderMusik- McAllen TX- 956-624-9436

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Framboyant Summer Camps- McAllen TX – 956-687-4697

 

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Debi Lou Modeling- McAllen, TX – 956-454-0510

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Little Paradise Summer Camps- Edinburg- 956-720-4340 & McAllen 956-627-1450

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Sweet Boulevard- McAllen TX – 956-432-8047

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Want to advertise your Summer Camps? Give us a call! 1-877-887-7816, ext. 701

 

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Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

 

St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally associated with green beers and an ever-elusive pot of gold. But your Irish heritage celebration doesn’t have to be boozy to be interesting and fun for the entire family.

Here are ways to enjoy the luck of the Irish with your littlest lad or lass.

 

Dinner party

Few meals conjure up images of hungry Irishmen after a day of hard labor more than a traditional dinner of bangers and mash. By plating plump sausages with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, you have yourself an Irish meal that most everyone will agree is delicious. Here’s an interesting fact: Bangers – the sausage – get their nickname from linked sausages that tend to pop when exposed to heat. Bang! Of course, if you don’t have time to cook or aren’t handy in the kitchen, you can always make it a breakfast night and let the kids enjoy a bowl of Lucky Charms.

 

Brush up on your Celtic

There are few people in the U.S. who actually understand many of the most popular old Irish sayings. You and your family can research Celtic language and idioms and compare similarities to English. Business Insider’s list of 15 Irish expressions is a great place to start. Also, Google’s translate feature is a really fun way to share the language with your entire family. Bain sult as féin!

 

House hop

You don’t have to stop with just your house to enjoy a Celtic dinner. Talk to the neighbors and get everyone involved. One house can provide appetizers, another the main course and another still an enjoyable Irish dessert.

 

A family vacation

If you would like to really immerse yourself in Irish culture, a trip to the Emerald Isle is an excellent way to celebrate the holiday. Ireland is not only known for its looming castles and grandest estates, it also has some of the best beaches you’ll ever have the honor of relaxing on. If you don’t have an extra $10,000 lying around for an international vacation, you can also find family-friendly activities in Irish heritage-rich areas such as St. Louis, Missouri, and Charlotte, North Carolina, on FamilyLivingToday.com.

 

 

Movie marathon

If the weather’s bad or you simply don’t want to leave the house to celebrate, there are plenty of Irish films that will satisfy your cinematic senses this St. Patrick’s Day. The youngest in your crew may enjoy the animated classic The Secret of Kells or Disney’s Luck of the Irish, which chronicles the life of an everyday American teenager who finds out he’s actually not ordinary at all but half leprechaun.

 

Understand the holiday

St. Patrick’s Day is a traditional holiday that celebrates life of the eponymous Saint Patrick. As the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick is celebrated each March 17 and has been since the 17th century. What first started as a religious feast has evolved into a secular day of fun featuring festivals, parades, and special events in most major cities in the US and UK. The History Channel offers more information about St. Patrick’s Day.

Another great way to learn about this Irish day of honor is to visit your local cathedral and partake in a Catholic mass. Most parishes are happy to host guests but be sure to talk to children about Catholic traditions before attending as they may be wildly different than your own place of worship’s weekly service

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to honor good St. Paddy as well as your Irish heritage without a hangover on March 18. And by forgoing the libations, you and your family can enjoy the day – or week – together making memories that you’ll cherish for years to come and relive each St. Patrick’s Day.

 

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Top Summer Toys for Kids with Special Needs

Some of the biggest challenges of summertime for parents are keeping children entertained and developmentally stimulated. You probably want to add fun activities, exciting adventures and a couple of new toys to the mix to keep things interesting. Below are a few hot toy ideas that are fun and focused on your child with special needs–and just may give you an edge on the summertime blues!

Fidget Spinners, Puzzles & Tangles

If you’ve witnessed the latest toy craze, fidget spinners, then you know these tactile-type products are a hot item for kids of all ages and stages; however, they can be quite beneficial for children with sensory issues. They provide a pleasing, hands-on sensory experience that requires concentration from your child, making them a perfect stress-, anxiety- and boredom-buster for those restless moments on summer days!

Fat Brain Toys Squigz

Another hands-on toy – the visually unique and sense-stimulating Squigz by Fat Brain Toys – is described as “fun little suckers” according to the packaging. By the use of suction, they can connect to each other and any solid, nonporous surface, encouraging creativity, fine motor skills and playful experimentation – a fun addition to any toy collection!

Hedstrom Sensory Products

Hedstrom offers exceptional, quality products for kids, most notably their Sensory Stepperz that kids can balance, hop and step on. Features include different patterns and textures that help develop balance, coordination and gross motor skills. These can go outside or inside of your home, making them a great summer toy option!

Sand and Water Discovery Tables

Let’s not forget the classics! Sand and water tables – like this one – have been around for many years, but there’s a reason for that! A favorite for many, they not only provide hours of entertainment, but give your child a multisensory experience. And instead of using just sand and water, consider adding dry beans, shaving cream and other items of different textures, stimulating different sensory input.

SkyCurve Platform Swing

And finally, when you think of summer, long afternoons of swinging in the sunshine always cross the mind. Parent’s Choice and Creative Child Award winner, the SkyCurve Platform Swing by Hearthsong is a longer swing that allows your child to comfortably lay down if necessary, or it can hold multiple children sitting up. Nothing beats the great outdoors for stimulating all of the senses, and relaxing on a swing can be icing on the cake after a full day of play!

Summer certainly doesn’t have to be a bore! With a few new items in the repertoire, you’re sure to keep your child entertained, while giving them developmental tools to grow and have fun all at the same time!

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Summer Camps 2017

Albartos Colegio Infantil: Summer Camps

956-683-1977(Edinburg)

or 956-928-1699(McAllen)

  All Star Sports Basketball: Summer Camps & Year Round

956-627-0390 (McAllen)

Aqua Tots: Summer Classes & Year Round

956-687-7946 Mcallen

956-687-7946 Brownsville

Danz Force:

956-400-1068 McAllen

Debi Lou: Summer Camps:

956-454-0510 McAllen

Happy Planet: Art Camp

956-827-1386 or 956-616-2372 McAllen

Jing’s Gymnastics & Dance- Sports Camps

956-585-4967 Mission

956-702-4967 Pharr

Kids Village: Summer Care

956-686-8602 Mcallen

KinderMusik: Summer Camps

956-624-9436 McAllen

Little Crayons: Summer Camps

956-424-1299 Mission

Lavallette: Adventureland Summer Camp

956-585-4344 Mission

Little Paradise- Summer Camps:

956-627-1450 McAllen

956-720-4340 Edinburg

Main Event: Summer Fun Camps

956-787-7100 Pharr
Missy’s Modeling: $45.00 Mini Summer Camps

956-682-0044 McAllen

Nadia’s School Of Dance: 5 Weeks of Themed FUN!

956-534-0132 Mission

Rhema’s DayCare: Summer Daycare

956-682-3933 Mcallen

Rogue Hip Hop- Summer Dance

956-322-9707 or 956-912-2012

St Paul Lutheran: Camp Invention! K-6

956-682-2345 Mcallen

Sweet Boulevard: Summer Camps

956-599-3742 Mcallen

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Guidelines for Choosing a Gift for a Child with Special Needs

By Diane M. McCullom

Walk into a gift store this holiday season, and chances are, you’ll be overcome with more items than you could possibly imagine—the hottest toy trends of the season and all things merry and bright. This same overwhelming sensation can be quite stressful for parents and those shopping for children with special needs. So what are some guidelines for finding that perfect, yet appropriate, gift for the child with special needs in your life? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when shopping:

Is the gift multisensory? If it’s a toy, does it respond with lights, sounds or movement to engage the child? Does it have scent, texture and contrasting colors? Sometimes these things can be overwhelming to children with sensory disorders, so depending on the specific needs of the child, these may or may not be positive things.

Does it provide open-ended play? This means the gift has no definite right or wrong way to use it. Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration? Is it adaptable to the child’s individual style, ability and pace?

Does it meet the child’s individualistic needs and abilities? Does the gift allow for personal creativity and making choices? Is it developmentally appropriate?

Is it practical in terms of safety, durability and adjustability? Does it fit the child’s size and strength? Does it have adjustable sound, height, speed and level of difficulty? Is it easy to keep clean and store? Could it fit on a wheelchair tray?

For specific gift ideas, check out Toys”R”Us’ toy guide for “differently-abled” kids that categorizes items by different skill sets. For more than 20 years, they have offered this one-of-a-kind resource that provides parents and caregivers with gift recommendations that aid in the development of children with disabilities. With thousands of pins popping up under the search phrase “gifts for kids with special needs,” Pinterest is also a fantastic resource for finding gifts specific to the needs of each child.

Get creative with your gift buying and don’t forget to have fun with the process! With a little research and preparation, you can find the perfect gift and make Christmas special for these uniquely special kids.

Diane M. McCullom is the senior vice president of clinical operations at Dallas-based Epic Health Services, a leading provider of pediatric skilled nursing, therapy, developmental, enteral and respiratory services, as well as adult home health services, with operations in 21 states.

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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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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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