Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit


When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  




You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-6

Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-9

Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-10

Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!


I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!


We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!


It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!


Pin It

Paid Focus Group For Laredo Ladies

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Think Group Austin.

All opinions are always 100% my own.




Think Group Austin


A Paid Focus Group For Laredo Ladies!


Selected Laredo Ladies Will Be Paid $125 (Value Includes Gift Card)

To Participate In A  2-Hour Focus Group Study.

No Sales Pitches ~ Just Your Opinions On….SHOPPING!


I was contacted recently by Think Group Austin about an interesting opportunity for women in Laredo to participate in a PAID Focus Group Study to discuss shopping habits!

Selected ladies will be paid $125 to provide their opinions and did I mention that the Focus Group Study lasts JUST 2 Hours?
To Learn More, Check Out The Info Provided Directly From Think Group Austin Below & Please Share The Survey With Other Ladies In Laredo!



“Think Group Austin (a market research firm) has an upcoming paid focus group study in Laredo, TX, for females ages 21-54 years old.

The study pays $125 for two hours on Tuesday, July 8th, during business hours. The study concerns shopping habits.

If you are interested in this study, please click on the link below to take a survey.

Based on your responses, one of our recruiters will contact you with more information and questions.

This is a great opportunity to share your opinions and get paid for it; in absolutely no way will we try to sell you something.

Feel free to pass the survey on to anyone who you think might be interested!”



Sponsored Post Disclaimer:    I only endorse products that I have experienced and/or tested, and often receive a product or service as compensation for conducting a sponsored post or giveaway.  The focus group sponsored by Think Group Austin is an event that I would attend, myself.  In return for my labor and provision of this giveaway, I received monetary compensation.  All opinions are always 100% my own, honest, and written in the style of the Critters And Crayons Blog. 


Pin It

Fortune Cookie Messages For Outnumbered Parents At Kite Festivals

These Are The Days We'll Remember...At The Laredo Kite Festival.  By Critters And Crayons.

At The Laredo Kite Festival


One of the festivals we absolutely love to attend each year in Laredo is the Kite Festival in March.

Today, we attended our fourth.

This means that we have attended since our children were in diapers, nursing, learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to talk….all the way up to this year.

This year is the first year both children are past all of those milestones, but they can also both hold their own kites, fly their own kites, and be genuinely interested in holding and flying their own kites.  

They can do these things after getting just a little bit of help by Mom or Dad to catch the wind, of course.

I have to say, though, there is one truth that appears to be self-evident and inviolable.

If I had a fortune cookie message to foretell my future or offer sage advice about taking more than one child to any Kite Festival alone, it would read:


“Winds Favor The Wise Parent Who Is Not Outnumbered By Children Or Kites.”


Another possible fortune cookie message might bring a different perspective while delivering the same message:


“One Foolish Parent With Two Children At Kite Festival
 Will Be Entangled In The Strings Of Crashed Kites.”


Each year, we pile into the mini-van on a beautiful, but very hot day, with our newly selected kites.  We walk to the festival from our distant parking spots.  
We find a plot of land that is not completely marshy and that is not so packed with people that we might get one of our kites airborne.


But, the unspoken and unfair Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents ALWAYS kicks in.


That law, in case you have not experienced it firsthand is:


“Your Child’s Kite Will Only Fly When Your Other Child’s Kite Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


And this Law is also supported by a couple of Theorums:


“The Vertical Height Of One Child’s Kite Is Directly Proportional To The Vertical Drop Of Your Other Child’s Kite.”


“If You Rescue One Child’s Kite By Gaining Wind Resistance By Running,

You Will Surely Run Through A Mudhole Where You Sink 3 Inches Before Kite Still Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


(Seriously, I cannot believe they didn’t move the first time.)


But, do you know what?


I’m certain we’ll be back, again, next year.


We may have muddy shoes and ankles, and some tangled kite string, and maybe even some occasionally frustrated children who haven’t completely grasped how to keep their kites in the air for longer than a few minutes, but, overall, we’re making some serious improvement.


Next year, we may be able to break that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents and its supporting Theorums.


Maybe, our Fortune Cookie Message, if we had a fortune cookie with a message about the Kite Festival, might read:


“Outnumbered Parent At Kite Festival Will See Two Kites In Air Simultaneously.”


or, maybe:


“You Will Not Trip On Tangled Kite Strings This Year.”


That would be cool.


But, maybe next year this fortune could really happen:


“You Will Remember To Wear Crappy Shoes To Places Where You Know You Will Run Through Mud.”


And, maybe, just maybe, some folks will get this fortune cookie message:


“Picnicker Who Moves After Kite Crashes Into Face Finishes Rest Of PB&J In Peace.”


But, I want to wish “Cheers” to all of the families out during the pretty Spring Days doing these kinds of activities.


There is humor in them, and sometimes, a little frustration.  
Yes.  Sometimes, you cave to the frustration after that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents kicks you in the teeth and ruins your shoes, again…when those imaginary fortune cookies foretold the future you should have predicted yourself.


For instance, I FINALLY cut the streamers completely off of one kite, and even sliced clean through the strings from the kite handle to regain the circulation to my legs after a near tourniquet had been formed by an errant kite with a very strong and determined child yanking on the other end.


I DID offer to pay the screaming child for the damage but she ran off to find her parents before I could give her any money.


(Um…..Really Sorry About That If It Belonged To Your Kid And You’re Reading This Now After Wondering Why Your Wailing Kid Brought Back A Kite Frame, But I Couldn’t Feel Anything Below My Ankle…..)


Seriously, though.


Days Like Today Are Never Boring. The Never-Boring Days Are The Real Memory-Makers.






Pin It

The Valentines Day Giveaway From Knotty Origami And La Cookie Company!

This is a sponsored post giveaway written by me on behalf of Knotty Origami And La Cookie Company.  


All Opinions Are 100% Mine.   


Valentines Day Giveaway Knotty Origami La Cookie Company


 A Beautiful Valentines Day Giveaway

From Knotty Origami And La Cookie Company Is Here!




A Winner Will Be Selected Via Random Drawing

at Noon (CST) on February 12th, 2014. 


*Must by 18+ Years Old & Resident of the Continental U.S. To Enter*


You can win the following pretty gifts!


The Penny Knot Necklace & Fancy Kusudama Flower


Both of these items are hand-crafted and can be found in the Knotty Origami Etsy Store!  


A Box of La Cookie Company Hojarasca Cookies


These cookies are so delicate, flaky, and sweet that you could find yourself eating them like popcorn!

They have become a dessert staple in our home.

My family cannot get enough of them….And they make very pretty party treats!


la cookie company-2-6


 La Cookie Company

And a few other sweet gift items to fill the lovely prize basket that you can read about when you






Pin It

How To Find Laredo Family & Kid Events!

Ever Wonder What's Happening In Laredo For My Kids?

See Below For Links To The Laredo Community Round-Up!



The New Critters And Crayons Laredo Community Round-Up Is HERE!

Now, you can find out about events and activities in Laredo, Texas

for families and kids MUCH MORE EASILY

and across the social media platforms you use most!


The Laredo Round-Up is no longer a long list of flyers!


The New Critters And Crayons Laredo Community Round-Up

is a set of Social Media tools that span

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube

to help you find Laredo Family & Kid Events much more quickly!



To learn more about




Check Out The Infographic Below

and head over to The New Laredo Community Round-Up Page! 


The Critters And Crayons Laredo Community Round-Up













Pin It

The Merry Basket Giveaway!

This is a sponsored post giveaway written by me on behalf of Knotty Origami, Vella Naturale, Just Stitch, Susan Hammert of The Pampered Chef, Oma’s Homemade Dogfood, And South Hills Designs By Eliana.  All Opinions Are 100% Mine.  



Rendy Brel***….Your name was selected as the winner of the Merry Basket Giveaway! Please contact me at crittersandcrayons(at) to confirm by Noon (CST) on December 19th, 2013. Thank you to all who entered! Merry Christmas!

Critters And Crayons is excited to announce




The Merry Basket Giveaway!




The Merry Basket features wonderful products from the following businesses!



One Handmade, Adjustable, Burgundy Celtic Knot Necklace By

Knotty Origami


A Three-Piece Variety of Natural Soaps By

Vella Naturale


One Handmade Coffee Coozie From

Just Stitch


One Package of Gourmet Dog Food And Treats From

Oma’s Homemade Dog Food


One Mix ‘n Chunk Tool From Susan Hammert of

Pampered Chef


One Mini-Locket And Charm From

South Hill Designs By Eliana Marroquin



 The Giveaway runs from



Tuesday, November 26th at Noon (CST)






Tuesday, December 17th at Noon (CST)!





(And To Read The Official Rules And Eligibility Requirements),




Or Enter Using The Form Below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Thanks For Entering!


Best Of Luck To You!


A Hopping Popping Christmas Literacy Event!

I hope you’ll come out to to see me and my friends at Laredo 8 HEB Plus for a super fun literacy event on November 30th!

I’ll be reading some old Christmas favorites and the kids are going to enjoy some fantastic stomping on the Bubble Wrapped Floor and Christmas Tree Painting With…..

 Bubble-Wrap, of course!



HEB Plus Critters And Crayons Literacy Event A Hopping Popping Christmas




Pin It

Kids Play In The Same Language



Kids Play In The Same Language


Kids Play In The Same Language.


They just a find a way to get over the minor obstacle of competent verbal communication.

One of the best aspects of living on the US/Mexico border is the opportunity for our children to experience a different culture and language.

I was reminded of this today as my children played at an indoor play area.

I posted about it on the Critters And Crayons Facebook Page and realized that such a great thing really warrants its very own blog post.

Our 6 year old daughter ran around playing tag with a new friend.

She ran up to me and said,

“Mom! I made a new friend!  She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish!   So we made up a game!”


I asked how they played that game.  And our daughter answered,

“I teach her English and she teaches me Spanish!
It’s called Speaking Different Languages!”

I noted how brilliant that was.

It is, isn’t it?

When you have so much in common,

like the need to be gleeful in the moment

for the sake of loving that moment,

then language is not a worthy foe.


That’s something children have figured out.

A reader commented on Facebook, “And a child shall lead them.”



Kids Play In The Same Language


And So They Shall.

And So They Do.


For more posts on bilingualism and culture with kids…..


But, She Doesn’t Like Me….


Bilingualism, The Border, Dora, And Kids…


Pin It

There Once Was A Gator Named Tasha….


The first thing our son asks when we pick him up from school is, “CAN WE GO SEE TASHA???!!!”


lcc alligators-3-3

“Tasha” is an American Alligator who lives in a pond at the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center (LBVESC).

He is the most territorial and is the largest gator in Laredo’s Alligator Alley.

There used to be 14 American Alligators in the alley, but Tasha overtook four of them, and another four died of pneumonia.

Laredo’s dominant gator turned 14 on August 31st, 2013!   (See the flyer at the bottom for info on the September 7th Birthday Celebration you can bring the kids to!) Here’s a video of Tasha being fed!


Tasha now lives in his own pond while 6 younger gators occupy neighboring ponds.

The little gator our son is looking at below in the lilly pond is the tiniest one in the entire center.

He has to be separated from his much, much larger brothers and sisters since he was the runt of the litter!


lcc alligators-10-3


lcc alligators-9-3

Here is “The Runt” at feeding time!


Our family has had  a lot of fun watching the active young gators in the pond next to Tasha.

We’ve watched them grow from tiny gators over the last few years to their current size.

The one below is starting to show his dominance over the others as he forces them out of the pond and snatches food from them.


lcc alligators-4-3


The other day, we were looking at the bobcat and our son started to yell, “They’re fighting!  They’re fighting!

The gators are fighting!” We ran over to the pond and found out what he witnessed…..


lcc alligators-8-3

It was a battle for a turtle snack!


lcc alligators-7-3

lcc alligators-6-3

That was a happy gator.

lcc alligators-5-3


Here’s a video of the adolescent gators at feeding time!



Our kids get a kick out of seeing all of the other animals there, especially the cool turtles….

  lcc alligators-12-3

lcc alligators-11-3

The large Alligator Gar Fish!


lcc alligators-1-7

And the Bobcat….


lcc alligators-1-6   lcc alligators-2-3


We are looking forward to seeing Tasha and all the other animals

to celebrate his birthday with some cake for us,

and maybe a pile of raw chicken for the gators!


lcc alligators-13-2

Hope to see you guys there!

This Saturday is also the Paso Del Indio Nature Trail Clean-Up (right behind the Science Center), so it’s a great way to get out with the family and do something fun and helpful while you pop in to sing “Happy Birthday” to a 6-foot Alligator.

Totally normal stuff.  :)

Do you wanna know a cool little secret?

Our crocodilian-obsessed little boy totally named that Gator.

I think the staff heard him screaming “Tasha!  Tasha!” so much that the name stuck.

He started calling the male gator that about two years ago.

He wasn’t too cool to watch The Backyardigans back then.

And, anyone with toddlers knows that “Tasha” was one of those cherubic dancing not-sure-what-they-weres.

Tasha Page Picture


So, here’s an  interesting bit of Laredo history-


Tasha,The Alligator

was named after

a bossy female Backyardigan

by a then-2 year old boy

who gave up Batman for Crocodilians.


Critters And Crayons Crocodilian

Cool, huh?

Pin It

Good-Bye, Batman. Hello, Alligators & Crocodiles!

Good-bye Batman.

Hello, Alligators & Crocodiles.


Alligators, Crocodiles, And Gavials


I knew our son would pass through the Chronically-Caped Super Hero Pajama & Mask Phase one day.


Embracing The Cape & Cowboy Boots (Critters And Crayons)



I didn’t know that his obsession would transfer to all things Crocodilian in all their predatory, scaly, swampy, toothy glory.



That is CHUBIDO.


Our son named his new pet alligator.

You pronounce it “CHUB”  “EE”  “DOH”.

We’ve been doing a lot of Large Reptile learning around here lately, mostly because I don’t have any answers to our son’s constant questions.

Until Chubido joined our family after ordering him for a great price from The Jungle Store, our son could be found in random areas of the house doing this:



Yes.  He has seen audited episodes of Swamp People. The Fast Forward Button comes in very handy.


He started out in that orange sled on a hunt for alligators we bought at the Dollar Tree for $1 each.  


But, he has since changed his dramatic play scenarios.  


He is an Alligator RESCUER now.


I often walk into the play area to find that every one of our blue sheets, even those impossible-to-fold fitted sheets, are spread across the floor to form realistic blue “lakes”.

He throws every imaginable reptilian thing on top of that blue linen pond:

Turtle-shaped legos that snap together, a bubble wand shaped like an alligator, a poorly designed stegasaurus puppet, his turtle pillow pet, and those Dollar Tree Floaty Alligators.

Then, he spends hours navigating that imaginary swamp….rescuing his alligators, and feeding them, piling them on his sled-boat, and then tossing them back into the water to start all over again.

The only time I had to draw the line on this imaginary play was when he started lining that sled up to launch downstairs after an inflatable alligator had been set up by the grandfather clock.

I mean, that boat could have really messed up that grandfather clock.  :)


Oh!  And we cook alligators around here, too!


funny alligator cake


I KNOW that alligator cake looks like a deranged salamander.


Have I ever passed this off as a Food Blog?

I mean…credibly?

If you want to see how we did it, check out this post which links to the Princess And A Frog Cookbook with the cool recipe.

A couple of years ago, our alligator cake attempt came out a lot better!  :)

Louis The Alligator Critters And Crayons


We visited the Laredo Community College Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center’s Alligators, of course!

They have several.  And, we’ll be heading down to Alabama this Summer to visit Alligator Alley, where 450 Alligators live on a cool farm there!  Wahoo!

It’s totally on our Summer Travel Route!




Our son’s favorite crocodilian is actually the lesser known Gavial.


It’s a large reptile, the only one of its kind, that lives in India and has a very long snout and tiny teeth.


Our son believes a Gavial would be the perfect pet because their snouts are too long and skinny to attack humans.




And our son begged for a GAVIAL MASK.


Those aren’t everywhere.  So, we made one.


All it took was a:

  • paper towel roll,
  • some scissors,
  • some glue,
  • a green marker
  • and some twine.

He cut the roll down the center and cut out the jagged teeth.

Then, he glued the two ends together where they would sit on our son’s nose so that the jaws stayed open.

We let our son color the mask green.

Then, my husband ran twine through holes on each side and tied them off around our son’s head.

That was it!



Did our son wear that mask everywhere for two days?


Um…did our son wear a cape for 2 years straight?


Our favorite and most educational activity has been

The Crocodilian Species Geography Activity.




To learn about the different types of crocodilians and where they live, we put a map up on a magnetic dry-erase board.


We all sat around the computer and clicked through the information found on this Crocodilian Species List.


Each species is linked so the kids can see information and images of each individual species!

There really are many surprising variations!

To get the activity ready, I found images of:

  • Crocodiles (showing upper and lower teeth),
  • Caimans (I used an image of a Dwarf Caiman with large eyes to help the kids distinguish better),
  • Alligators (with teeth showing pointing downward),
  • And the Gavial (with its long, skinny snout).

Each image was cut out and glued to a round magnet.


Using the link showing all Crocodilian Species above, we cut out 14 Crocodiles, 6 Caimans, 2 Alligators and 1 Gavial.




Then, we reviewed where all of the continents were and started placing the magnets where they belonged using the Species listing as a guide.



Some of the most interesting facts we all learned in this activity?


  • Caimans are actually a type of Alligator.
  • There is only one Gavial (also pronounced Gharial) and it lives in India.
  • Gavials only eat fish, but False Gharials are actually crocodiles who eat much more than that!
  • There are more species of Crocodile than there are Alligator or Gavial.
  • The State of Florida has Alligators AND Crocodiles!
  • The only other place you find an Alligator other than North America (not including Caimans) is China!
  • Central and South America have all the Caimans.
  • Our son’s favorite crocodilians, the Gavial and the False Gharial live in India and Indonesia, respectively.



Once we were done putting all of the magnets on the board, we used the remaining crocodile images to practice coloring and cutting skills.




One of the best aspects of being a parent is that we are personally invited into a child’s world every day on their quest to discover and learn.

It’s a world where every body of water, whether it’s a puddle following the rain or a ravine under a bridge, might be home to an alligator.

AND….As our son begins his journey toward crocodilian-knowledge domination, my husband and I have become used to fielding questions like these:


“Will an alligator eat you?”

Answer:  You Bet.


“Do Crocodiles have skulls?”

Answer:   A-Yup.


 “Can I be an Alligator Hunter When I Grow Up?”

Answer:  Hell To The No.


“Can We Have  A Gavial For A Pet Because They Won’t Eat You?”

Answer:  Eh?  If we ever move to India, we’ll think about it.

Well, Batman.

I’m sorry to see you go with all your capes and masks and batarangs.

It was fun with the utility belts, and the Batmobiles….but not the Nun-Chucks.  The nun-chucks can totally go.

(Side Note, Folks:  If you hate someone, give that person’s kid a set of Batman Nun-Chucks.  I can’t think of a sweeter revenge.)

Anyway, Batman.  I’m sorry, but it appears you have been replaced.


You just can’t compete with ‘Ol Chubido.






Pin It