5 Tips to Throw a Fun & Easy Party

blog july 10

 

5 Tips to Throw a Fun and Easy At-Home Birthday Party on a Budget

 

One of the challenges of parenting in the digital age is the worry about making everything “Pinterest perfect.” Kids’ birthday parties are no exception, but the reality is that our children just want a fun time to celebrate with their friends. When you get back to the basics with an easy at-home party, it’s not only budget-friendly, but it’s also less stress and more fun for everyone.

 

Start with a Theme
Planning around a theme gives you a focal point and serves as a springboard for other ideas. For younger children, loose themes that are gender neutral work well, such as fairytale characters or bugs and butterflies. Older children may already know what theme they’d like, or you can brainstorm possibilities together based on their interests. If you’re still looking for inspiration, we like these theme ideas that are broken down for different age groups.

 

Another option is to have an activity-based party, so you have the theme, activity, and sometimes even the food all rolled into one, making party planning even easier. Two activity themes we love from HuffPost are chocolate-making and scavenger hunt parties.

 

Make Low or No-Cost Invitations

Printing invitations can really bust your budget, but digital options are free or inexpensive and are more eco-friendly too. Going digital can give you the option to manage RSVPs online with services like Evite. If you’re tech-savvy (or have a design-savvy child), sites like Canva give you plenty of creative freedom to make your own special invitation.

 

If you decide to go the paper route, let your child help make homemade invitations. Use craft supplies you already have lying around, or grab some blank cards from a dollar store and let your child decorate them to their heart’s content.

 

Set the Scene

 

Decorations transform your home from the everyday into a world of wonder, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on them. One budget-friendly way to decorate is to keep store-bought decorations general and spruce them up yourself. A couple of DIY decorating ideas we like from Babble are confetti balloons and using printed washi tape to decorate plain cups. Try to get the best bang for your buck with inexpensive decorations that really pack a punch. Decorating with string lights is a great way to spice up your party, both indoors and outdoors, without spending much since they are inexpensive and kids usually love them. And when you’re finished with your party, you can use the string lights to add comfort and warmth to a space in your home!

 

Focus Refreshments on What Kids Want Most

 

Instead of setting out an expensive spread of food, focus on what kids really want, such as fun snacks like popcorn and, of course, the best part: cake and ice cream. You can get away with this by timing your party to start mid-morning or mid-afternoon when no one expects a meal. Most children would agree that the cake is pretty important, so consider making it yourself and starting a tradition by letting the birthday child help.

 

Play Classic Games and DIY New Ones

 

Planning a few activities is an absolute must because downtime leads to boredom and kids running wild. Classic games are just as fun as ever, so pick a few like freeze dance, hot potato, or red rover to keep kids entertained at no cost.

 

For something more current, one of the more popular party activities these days is to set up a photo booth. Scour the internet for photo prop templates that fit your theme, and print them yourself on heavy paper. To up the fun even more, use large cardboard boxes to make an actual “booth,” and let your children get involved by decorating it themselves.

 

The reality of modern party planning is that when you get back to basics, it’s easier to let go of stress and focus on what matters most. Children won’t remember (or even know) how much you spent on their party, but they will remember how much fun they had. Use these tips and your own creativity to pull off a memorable, fabulous shindig at home without breaking the bank.

 

Photo credit: Unsplash

Please follow and share:

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

nadias_REV

Language Success- Mcallen, TX 956-683-8810

language-success

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

Camp-Invention

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

 

colegio-albatros

Danz Force Academy- McAllen TX 956-400-1068

 

 

 

danz-force_REV

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

jings-half

 

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

musical-living

 

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

ALL_STAR_TOTS_AD_SUMMER_2018

 

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

Susy's

 

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

Quinta-Maztaln

 

 

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

art-connection

 

KinderMusik- McAllen TX- 956-624-9436

kindermusik_REV

 

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

 

framboyant

 

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

debi-lou

 

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

little-paradise_REV

Sweet Boulevard- McAllen TX – 956-432-8047

sweet-blvd_001

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

 

summer camp filler new june

 

 

Please follow and share:

New Year’s Goals: How to Involve your Child with Special Needs in Making and Achieving Goals

By Diane M. McCullom

It’s January—the holidays have come to an end. It’s back to school, back to work and back to routines. With the end of one year, comes the beginning of a new one—and a new opportunity to make goals for the upcoming months.

But this New Year’s tradition doesn’t have to be limited to adults. Children of all ages and aptitudes should also be encouraged to set goals for learning, personal growth and their futures. When children learn to set goals and reach them, they can visualize their futures, make good choices and make their dreams come true.

Unfortunately, it’s easier for children with special needs to get distracted or discouraged from setting and achieving goals. The Frostig Center, a program dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities through research, development and education, did 20 years of research on what makes people with disabilities successful as adults: Goal-setting was one of six success attributes.

Here are a few ways you can cultivate successful goal-setting in your children, students or friends with special needs:

  1. Ask children about their dreams and desires, and encourage them to set goals related to those dreams and desires. In this case, their own desires will fuel their motivation. Listen to their dreams, and don’t squelch them, but help to shape them. For instance, maybe the child lacks social skills necessary in working with others, but he tells you he wants to play basketball as a goal this year. In that case, perhaps you could start by taking him to the library and learn by reading books or watching movies related to the sport. You could also practice social situations in public with the end goal of playing basketball later in the year. With the desire in mind, the child will have a higher chance of being more motivated to achieve his goals.

 

  1. Make goals achievable, measurable and time-sensitive. Big goals are positive, but make sure that the goals are realistic for the individual child. Breaking a big goal down into several smaller ones can make the task of achieving them seem less daunting. For example, getting an A in math for a semester is a great goal, but does the child normally get D’s? It may be overwhelming for the child to suddenly feel the pressure to make all A’s. Smaller, more achievable goals could be getting an A on an assignment or a B on a test.

 

  1. Model perseverance. Teach children that it’s ok to fail as long as they get back up and keep trying. Lead the way this new year by making a family vision board—something in plain view that you and your child see regularly. Seeing how you handle your goals, in success and failure, could be the greatest example of perseverance that your child experiences. Regularly check in with your child about his feelings, encourage the areas where he’s experiencing failure and praise his successes.

These few steps can help your child with special needs make giant leaps in feeling purpose and making dreams come true. Happy new year!

 

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.

Please follow and share:

5 Tips for Hosting a Child with Special Needs This Holiday Season

By Diane M. McCullom

For most people, the holidays are a joyful time spent with family and friends, though they can be quite stressful and demanding with party-attending, gift-buying and schedule-juggling. Families with children who have special needs face these same demands and more—wondering how their children will feel at social gatherings is just one of the many questions asked. If you have the privilege of hosting a child with special needs this holiday season, chances are you are wondering about some ways that you can help ease the process for these families and for yourself. We have a few ideas:

Check in with parents – Before your holiday gathering, check in with the child’s parents for a list of do’s and don’ts, traditions, food sensitivities and recommendations. This step can go quite the distance in ensuring that the child feels comfortable and at home in a new environment.

Be prepared – Organize your home in a way that provides few distractions: remove clutter, keep overstimulating items out of the central focus points of your home, have backup food that the child likes, and have fun, skill-appropriate activities and games available for the child in those moments when uneasiness or restlessness sets in.

Be flexible – You might have to throw all of that preparation out the window on a whim. And guess what? It’s OK! Be flexible enough to change your plans to meet the needs of your guests.

Teach your family – Use your experience hosting a special needs child as a teaching time for your own children or relatives to learn about awareness, difference, respect and acceptance.

Relax and have fun – A kid with special needs wants to be independent too, so let them attempt things on their own instead of immediately jumping in to help. Things might get spilled or kids might jump on your couch. As long as a safe and fun environment is maintained, don’t sweat the small stuff!

With a little preparation and an accommodating mindset for those special kids in your life, the holidays are sure to be a success for everyone this year!

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.

Please follow and share:

Ritzy Resale Shop and Lunch Veranda

My children closely inspect the outside of the Ritzy Resale Shop.

My children closely inspect the outside of the Ritzy Resale Shop.

I love when my children surprise me for the better.  I also enjoy finding hidden, local gems.  It was not in my original plan to write a story this week on the Ritzy Resale Shop and Lunch Veranda in Brownsville, but I am so thankful I had the privilege of visiting.

It had been years since I had last made its acquaintance, when my mother-in-law treated me to a lovely birthday brunch.  Curious to know if it was still there, I decided to treat my children to a small lunch.

This was the dining room my son chose.  He and his sister enjoyed looking around at the different items and parts of the shop.

This was the dining room my son chose. He and his sister enjoyed looking around at the different items and parts of the shop.

As soon as I walked in, my initial thought was, “What was I thinking?”  An antique store, consignment shop and lunch veranda in one, it holds many of my favorite things.  With my four-year old on one side of me, and my 22-month old on the other, I glanced around at fragile items that stood at their eye level.  “Please be careful and don’t touch anything,” I gently reminded them.

We were warmly greeted by one of the co-owners, Amy Garces, and told to choose a room to dine in.  My children were happy to pick one.

Cindy Gulley poses with a couple of nutcrackers.

Cindy Gulley poses with a couple of nutcrackers.

A couple vacationing on South Padre Island from Illinois perused the room.  Jerry and Cindy Gulley were on their way to the zoo when they googled resale shops and found Ritzy Resale.  “It was on our way, so we thought we’d stop and check it out.  It’s definitely a different shop.  I like the way they’ve got their rooms laid out for dining,” remarked Jerry.

Cindy was on a mission to find a nutcracker for her son, who collects them.  She picked a good time to visit, as all of Ritzy’s Christmas items are currently 75% off.

My favorite part of the visit, outside of eating my delicious meal, was talking with Amy and her co-owner and mother, Diana Masso.  Ritzy Resale has been in existence for five years, with loyal, committed customers and newbies that did not know they existed until stumbling across them.

IMG_0130

Diana Masso, one of the co-owners of the Ritzy Resale Shop.

Located at 814 Boca Chica Blvd, the warm shop was originally a home built by the Barnard family.  With larger rooms, windows and hardwood floors, it has all the charms to make a person feel nostalgic.  “People tell us [coming here] is like walking into [their] aunt’s house or grandma’s house,” added Masso.

A lifelong lover of antiques, cooking and baking, Masso wanted to find a way to combine them all.  “I was turning 50, and decided if I don’t do it now [open a shop], I’m not gonna do it.  I decided to go out on a limb,”  remembered Masso.

The littles play with safe, unbreakable beads.  It was good to talk antique shop and tea time etiquette with them.

The littles play with safe, unbreakable beads. It was good to talk antique shop and tea time etiquette with them.

While I was having a conversation with Amy and Diana, my children found some safe beads I agreed they could look at.  Every now and then, they would each chime in, “Look at this, mama!” like it was the coolest thing they had ever seen.

With a variety of menu items, Ritzy Resale offers everything from Mediterranean foods to sweets.  “We try and cook healthy.  We have a different special everyday,” added Masso.  As I sat there enjoying my lunch and the company of my children, I couldn’t help but envision future mother-daughter tea dates and celebrations.  “This is a good mom retreat place,” said Masso.  I couldn’t agree more.

I highly recommend their famous chicken salad and house salad.  This was my delicious lunch.

I highly recommend their famous chicken salad and house salad. This was my delicious lunch.

For more information on the Ritzy Resale Shop and Lunch Veranda, please visit their Facebook page.  If you decide to check it out, take me with you.

Please follow and share:

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.

DSCN4097

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.

Please follow and share:

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

Please follow and share:

Brownsville MOPS

As a mom, do you ever feel like pulling your hair out?  Are there other moments where you are in complete awe of the beautiful children that have been entrusted to your care?  Can you go from complete elation to total devastation in a matter of seconds?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is for you!

Part of the Brownsville MOPS group plays an icebreaker.

Part of the Brownsville MOPS group plays an icebreaker.

“My favorite thing about MOPS is getting to know moms and being able to connect with them on a deeper level,” says Briana McIsaac, coordinator of the Brownsville MOPS chapter.  With 15 years in existence, it is a place where all moms are welcome.  “This year, we’ve added MOMSnext to include moms of all ages, and a bilingual table to cater to more mothers in the community,” added McIsaac.

Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS for short, is an international nonprofit organization that exists to support mothers as they parent children from birth through Kindergarten.  MOMSnext is an extension of that, helping raise kids who are beyond the preschool years.  Local gatherings typically run for a couple of hours, and include homemade meals, childcare, icebreakers, crafts and inspiring messages.  Outside of meetings, planned extracurricular activities include playdates and special events, such as Moms’ Night Out and MOPS and POPS Night (large group date night with childcare provided).

The MOPS theme for this year is, "A Fierce Flourishing:  Celebrate Lavishly, Embrace Rest and Notice Goodness."

The MOPS theme for this year is, “A Fierce Flourishing: Celebrate Lavishly, Embrace Rest and Notice Goodness.”

Long-time member, Laura Castro, had the following to say about her MOPS experience:  “We have really supported each other through a lot.  There has been a sincere desire to love each other as best we can.  What I’ve found over the years is that it has become a community for me.”  Remembering the weeks following the birth of her second daughter, Castro remarked, “The meals (that MOPS makes and delivers) are great.  Having people come in my home and knowing they were not looking at my chaos meant a lot.  The first few weeks after a baby is born are very chaotic.”

Extracurricular MOPS activities include occasional fundraisers.  Picture here: last year's Zumbathon.

Extracurricular MOPS activities include occasional fundraisers. Pictured here: last year’s Zumbathon.

With three chapters that meet regularly in the Rio Grande Valley, mothers from every area are invited to attend.  Whether you are a stay at home mom, work part-time or full-time, MOPS is a place for you.  The Brownsville chapter meets every other Friday, with the next meeting being October 9th, from 9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Central Christian Church on 1100 E. Alton Gloor Blvd.  Harlingen MOPS meets the first and third Wednesday of each month from 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., at First Christian Church on 421 S. 13th St.  And the McAllen group meets every first and third Thursday from 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at BT (Baptist Temple) Church on 2001 Trenton Rd.  For more information, please visit their Facebook pages:  Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen.

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 

Please follow and share:

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 storiesbytheseashore.blogspot.com

Please follow and share:

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.

DSCN3813

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

 

Please follow and share:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)