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!


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Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.


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


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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!


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


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


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


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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!


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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. 


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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.






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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!


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 La Cookie Company

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






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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













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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




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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…


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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???!!!”


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“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!


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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.


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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…..


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It was a battle for a turtle snack!


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That was a happy gator.

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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….

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The large Alligator Gar Fish!


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And the Bobcat….


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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!


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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?

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Laredo Bloggers For Voz De Niños {Campaign & Give-Away}

Local Bloggers For VDN

This week,  Critters And Crayons is joining three other Laredo Blogs, Que Fregados, La Sanbe and Dividing By 10,  in an informational campaign to help spread the word about  Voz De Niños!

Between July 9th and July 13th, 2013, you will find resources about the important Voz De Niños mission as well as information about how you can help the many children in need throughout Webb County by checking the participating Laredo blogs!  














What Is Voz De Niños?


“Voz de Niños advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the court system through the training and support of community volunteers.

Voz de Niños is the local Court Appointed Special Advocate program serving the abused and neglected children of Webb County.

Established in 2007, Voz de Niños is the only organization of its type in Webb County because it participates solely in civil matters affecting abused and neglected minors.

Voz de Niños Volunteers are appointed to serve as Guardian ad Litem by the presiding court.”


To learn more about the growing need for volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates to abused and neglected children,

I interviewed two Voz De Niños Staff Members:  


Alexis Herrera (Voz De Niños’ Volunteer Coordinator) and

Alicia Coronado (Voz De Niños’ Casework Supervisor).


The commitment to the challenging mission exhibited by these two ladies is inspirational.

Alexis’ career path is grounded in volunteerism from the time that she started her social work experience as part of the social work program at the University of Texas at Austin where she worked with children and families who faced poverty and home displacement.  She witnessed the value of a proactive and involved community that acquired resources to aid the empowerment of its citizens.

Alicia hails from Chicago and worked with non-profits whose focus were in the areas of child issues, poverty and education before arriving to our City of Laredo.

Both women were drawn to Voz De Niños for the importance of the mission and the opportunity to be a part of the community’s growth and betterment.


I was surprised by what Alexis and Alicia had to say about the need in Webb County for volunteers to help children in the foster care system.  

Here are some of the highlights.


CRITTERS AND CRAYONS:    How Many Children Are In The Foster Care System?


VOZ DE NINOS:    The number of children in foster care in Webb County in 2012 is at a shocking 705.  


That’s 115 more than 2011.  Some studies explain the increase due to the downturn economy and overall poverty; however, there are so many other factors that come into play: drug accessibility with a decrease in treatment services, parent disposition, mental health, etc.

Recruiting volunteers in general is difficult.

Voz De  Niños finds it even more challenging because of what we are asking from volunteers:  to give of their time and energy for a long period of time—cases generally take up to 12 months to resolve.

Moreover, a Voz De Niños volunteer advocate requires engaging in a personal relationship with a child or sibling group to fully understand their needs and voice them to the individuals that hold the authority to fulfill them (judge, CPS workers, foster parents, nurses, doctors, teachers, therapist, counselors, and biological parents).

For Voz De Niños, a qualified volunteer is someone who is both willing and able to give of themselves unconditionally to a child or sibling group and be an active advocate in an adult world where these children have no voice.

Thus, we have not had a drop in volunteers but have a difficult time finding them. We believe they’re out there, and we will continue to diligently search for these individuals who are welcomed to join the Voz De Ninos team!


CRITTERS AND CRAYONS:  How Many Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers Are There?


 VOZ DE NINOS:  We have 22 volunteers manning 28 cases.    Within the 28 cases there are 47 children.


CRITTERS AND CRAYONS:  Can You Recall A Situation When A CASA Volunteer Made A Difference In A Child’s Life?


VOZ DE NINOS:  There were two occasions when our CASA volunteers were the only ones to celebrate a child’s birthday. 


…One in particular reminds me that our volunteers can make a difference in just one moment. 


A CASA volunteer showed up at the foster home with a birthday present and cake for the CASA child.


Upon entering the home and seeing the child, the volunteer exclaimed,


Here you go! Happy Birthday! It’s your day!


And the child replied with,






Alexis and Alicia want to impress on the community that CASA volunteers make a lasting effect on a child’s life.

As dedicated staff members, they see the fear and frustration in the eyes of the children they are trying to help.

The children do not understand what is happening as they are stripped from the only caregiver(s) they have ever known.

Voz De Niños Staff and Volunteers have seen the hopelessness in youth that lead to poor academic performance, behavioral problems and seeming failures.  But, they have also seen that CASA volunteers make a lasting effect on a child’s life by offering simple encouragement, an interest in the child, or a simple “Happy Birthday”.


I encourage everyone to watch


on YouTube.  


You can hear from CASA Volunteers who have made a direct impact in a child’s life for the better.

At the time it was published, the number of children in the program was under 600 and we have seen that number grow quickly to over 700.

You’ll  see the impact and importance of this community program and the need for people to answer the call to help.

For More Resources

About Voz De Ninos


 Voz De Niños Frequently Asked Questions 


Find Voz De Niños On

 The Web Facebook, On Twitter, On YouTube


Become A CASA


Description of Volunteer Duties (Click To Enlarge)


Voz De Ninos Qualifications Page 1



Voz De Ninos Qualifications Page 2



And Don’t Forget To Enter The  


Laredo Bloggers For Voz De Niños



Click The Image Below To Go To

The Give-Away Entry Form!



Laredo Bloggers For Voz De Ninos Give-Away


Many, Many Thanks To The Generous Sponsors Behind The Give-Away!


Oishii International Grill


Lolita’s Bistro


Critters And Crayons


South Hill Designs By Jessica Eliana Marroquin










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