Día De Reyes Gift Guide – Top 9 Educational Toys Under $25 for Toddlers

Día De Reyes Gift Guide – Top 9 Educational Toys Under $25 for Toddlers

This post is not sponsored, but does contain affiliate links to products I love. If you purchase something with these links, you are helping support this blog and my family at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your time and support!


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We anticipate the Christmas season so much to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, but then New Year’s Day comes and it seems like Christmas is gone! However, if you’re like my family, you extend the joy of the Christmas season for twelve more day, until January 6 – El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos! Día de Reyes for short.

Per the Gospel of Matthew, the three Kings, Melchior (Europe), Caspar (Arabia), and Balthazar (Africa), followed a star and traveled the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem to find El Niño Jesus, the Divine Child, to present him with three symbolic gifts.

The symbolic gifts are as follows: Gold to acknowledges Jesus’ royalty as “King of the Jews;” Frankincense to demonstrate the divinity of Jesus’ existence as the Son of God; and Myrrh to foreshadow Jesus’ mortality and His future death to be our Savior.

This divine day is celebrated with family and with a special focus on our very own children by also giving them gifts on Día de Reyes, instead of, or in addition to Christmas morning. Gifts are traditionally placed in children’s shoes, instead of under a tree.

Will your little ones be leaving their shoes outside their bedroom doors, so the Three Kings can leave their gifts inside?

Don’t worry. These larger presents on my gift guide can be placed around their shoes! I’m sure your bebé will not mind and neither will your wallet! All of these educational toys are under $25!

My daughter is 18 months old and has played with all of these gift guide options. It’s never too early to learn while having fun.

  1. Amiga, the words “Reusable” and “Washable”! The My First Crayola® Dry Erase Activity Mat by Crayola is only $6.79 is just gives loads of art time over, and over, again! It includes 12 reusable activity sheets and four washable, easy-to-grip dry-erase crayons. We use the fold-up activity mat at home, in the car, at the doctor’s, and at restaurants! Life-saver. So easy to take anywhere because of its built-in storage.
  2. The Bath Letters and Numbers by Munchkin are only $4.49 and are the best during bath to identify the alphabet, learn to count, spell simple words, or group by color, but also work anywhere else you can think of! I keep an extra set in the car because I love that they’re small and light-weight enough to fit in my bag and be taken on-the-go!
  3. Want a toy that doesn’t require batteries, but keeps it poppin’? Brilliant Basics Corn Popper Push Toy by Fisher-Price is $9.59 and it’s the same awesome classic Corn Popper that you probably grew-up playing with, but with a sleek new design. As your bebé learns to walk and pushes the Corn Popper along, the rainbow colored balls will pop around inside the clear dome! Ellie loves it! The faster your bebé moves, the faster the “poppity-pop”sounds go! This toy will definitely help you tire baby out just in time for their next nap!
  4. Hungry? So is Luke! This Baby Alive Super Snacks Snackin’ Luke by Baby Alive is $11.09 and ready to be loved, fed, and taken care of by your little one! If you want to foster their empathy and big sibling instincts – this is the toy for you! You’ll love to watch all of the pretend play and the subtle reminders of YOU! Your little one will start imitating your parental behavior! Oh, and please be warned, Luke “poops” in his diaper! ¡Gracioso! Have fun!
  5. It’s My Pal Violet by LeapFrog and is $14.89. With the help of your phone, tablet or computer, you can help personalize Violet by helping her learn your bebé’s name and favorite things, as well as help her teach first words, feelings, emotions, counting and colors to your little one! What’s not to love of such a cute and cuddly friend. My Ellie keeps hers at Grandma’s house for the added comfort from the soothing bedtime music during nap time.
  6. Like I said earlier, never too early to learn! Mr. Pencil’s Scribble & Write by LeapFrog® is $16.39 and comes with six activities that will introduce writing, drawing and spelling. Plus, Mr. Pencil will also show step-by-step instructions on how to write numbers, shapes, uppercase letters and lowercase letters. Don’t be afraid to allow your little one to venture on their own, but this is definitely a toy you want to spend time guiding your child with in the beginning. ¡Divirtiénse y aprendan juntos!
  7. Laugh & Learn Puppy’s A to Z Smart Pad by Fisher-Price is $20.49 and so awesome! My Ellie has been playing with this one since she was 11 months old and we love the sing-along songs! Smart Stages technology lets you select the stage that’s best for your little one – there’s 4 levels! The Smart Pad teaches creative thinking, letters and numbers, large motor skills, shapes and colors, but my favorite is the little clock with rotating hands that teaches them how to tell time! So valuable in a digital world!
  8. Table manners are a must and Laugh and Learn Say Please Snack Set by Fisher-Price is $23.49 and helps you with that value, plus matching and sharing! We love that the Snack Set knows which of the fruits, veggies, and treats are served and what’s missing on the table and depending on which of three levels it’s set at your bebé can interact differently with Puppy and Sis. This toy is more fun when played by two, so get ready to have a fun, yummy, and lovely meal with your bebé. I would recommend this toy to encourage sibling play-time.
  9. Do you have a dancing queen or king? Bright Beats Learnin’ Lights Dance Mat by Fisher-Price is also $23.49 and teaches ABCs, numbers, colors, shapes and encourages dance moves all around! Its always awesome when toys can grow with your bebé. The large, soft mat was perfect for Ellie when she was just sitting and crawling, but now it’s just as great for dancing and continued learning!

As you wait for the arrival of the Kings, I hope you get to enjoy the Rosca de Reyes (or Kings’ Bread) with your familia and friends! And remember, if your slice of bread has El NiñoJesus (or “Baby Jesus”) figurine baked inside, you’ll have to host on the Day of the Candles, Día de la Candelaria, on February 2 and prepare tamales for everyone in attendance! ¡Ay!

Trust me, it’s a blessing!

I hope the gift guide was helpful and your toddler wakes up with one of these fun and educational toys next to their shoes!

¡Feliz Día de Reyes, Amiga!

Love,

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Sustainable Christmas Gift Wrapping With Lil’ Libros Printable Gift Tags

Sustainable Christmas Gift Wrapping With Lil’ Libros Printable Gift Tags

This post is not sponsored, but does contain affiliate links to products I love. If you purchase something with these links, you are helping support this blog and my family at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your time and support!


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Sustainable Christmas Gift Wrapping with Lil' Libros Printable Gift Tags

Amiga, Christmas is here and the spirit of extra gift giving is upon us!

I would love to share one of my favorite sustainable ways of wrapping small gifts with a used grocery paper bag while also sharing with you how I used the Lil’ Libros complimentary printable gift tags. If you’re not, yet subscribed to their newsletter, sign up at Lil’ Libros.

If I see an opportunity to recycle and reuse – I will take it! Are you the same? Amen to sustainable living.

I use reusable shopping bags, but there are always those days when I pop-open my car trunk to realize I didn’t place my reusable bags back in my car after my last shopping trip. How many times has that happened to you? #MomLife Right? haha On those days, I purchase paper bags.

If I don’t use the paper bags for birthday gift wrapping throughout the year, I save them and I end up with a nice stack at the end of the year to wrap small Christmas gifts!

 Only one grocery paper bag was needed to gift wrap the Lil’ Loteria: A Bilingual Picture Word Bingo Game (English and Spanish Edition). Excess paper was cut and ends were folded as you would any gift wrapping paper and taped with Scotch Gift Wrap Tape . Any tape will do, but this one is my favorite because it disappears with a nice satin-finish. It’s all in the little details!

When creating crafts where I want to write and even doodle on, I turn to Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens. I love that they provide great color, yet don’t bleed through the page, and the medium point allows me to create thin or thick lettering.

I took the excess scraps of the paper bag and gave the adorable gift tags a mat to sit on and be framed by to give them an extra pop of attention.

Here you can see the detail of the bows tieing these super adorable Lil’ Libros printable gift tags and the bold, yet delicate lettering I was able to create on them!

I purchased the beautiful white and metallic gold twine at HomeGoods. I love how the gold compliments the naturally rustic beauty of the paper bag by adding delicate elegance to the gift!

There’s a very similar twine on Amazon, if you’re interested.

I wanted to create little extra detail for the gift tag portraying Our Lady of Guadalupe, so I took a 6″x6″ square of tissue paper and folded it like an accordion and taped it underneath the bow. Simple and pretty.

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I’m so happy with the finished product! I love how these keepsake Lil’ Libros printable gift tags added a personalized touch grounded in our Mexican culture. (¡Gracias Ariana and Patty!)

We spend so much time thinking of a person’s likes and interests to decide on the perfect gift for them to only end up placing the gift into a gift bag — you gotta do what you gotta do, I completely understand. #MomLife is real, but if you can spend the extra time and energy to create extra special gift wrapping, please do! That in itself is a gift. Don’t you agree?

I would love to know if you enjoyed learning how I add a special touch to gifts when reusing a used grocery paper bag, instead of overly expensive gift wrapping paper. Please leave a note with your thoughts.

¡Feliz Navidad! May Los Tres Reyes Magos bring you a gift especially wrapped just for you on January 6 for Three Kings Day!

Love,

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#WeAllGrowFAMILIA • Grow With Love • 2017 Event Recap

#WeAllGrowFAMILIA • Grow With Love • 2017 Event Recap

This post is not sponsored, but does contain affiliate links to products I love. If you click and/or purchase something with these links, you are helping support this blog and my family at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your time and support!

Some of these photos are  my own and the rest were beautifully taken by event photographer Robson David-Müzel (@muzele).


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It was such a gift to have been invited to #WeAllGrowFAMILIA, a one-day, invite-only event with 175 multicultural influencers and creative entrepreneurs in the parenting space! On October 28, 2017 Latina Millennial mamis and papis gathered for the second consecutive year at the awesome Munchkin, Inc. headquarters in Los Angeles, CA. #WeAllGrowFamilia’s theme this year was Grow With Love. The day’s topics were centered around committing to help grow ourselves and our children’s future.

When I arrived at registration I was welcomed with a smile and a #WeAllGrowFAMILIA swag bag filled with gifts from the event’s awesome parent-focused sponsors before entering through the Munchkin headquarters’ doors and into the whimsical outdoor lounge designed by Celia of @prettylittlethings.

This lounge’s positive vibes allowed for me to meet and have great conversations throughout the day with great and inspiring women, including Martha (@mrscastro), Linda (@luz_warrior), Delfina (@soylatinafit), and Jacqui (@babyboybakery).  Forever thankful for your time amigas!

Soon after registration we were served breakfast sponsored by Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh. So glad there were vegan options for this plant-based mama! And they were delicious, too! I heard there was a cubie-wall decorated with  delicious cupcakes! I unfortunately was probably in a daze full excitement and completely missed it!

I did, however, enjoy a delicious warm tea in the morning and a cafecito in the afternoon provided by @cafesanto. They are known for their signature Cafe de Olla and Chocolate Oaxaqueño.

During this time I was able to meet IRL (in real life) some more women I had been chatting with on Instagram already, including María (@lacooquette), Fely (@missfely), and Gemma (@gemma_marin). We shared laughs over new mami moments — the beautiful and the not-so-fun, but always with a full heart.

One of my highlights was meeting and sharing a selfie with the ever-wonderfully-kind and creative Susie Jaramillo (@canticosworld)! I love that she has created a bilingual nursery rhyme book collection rooted in all of the Latin-American canticos! You can sing-along in English and Spanish! How awesome is that!

Mami Tip: If your baby loves singing and dancing you can watch the Canticos rhymes on YouTube! This works even if you’re a no-screen-mami. Just leave the audio on and dance in the kitchen with your little one! I may have done this! haha

During her keynote session, Susie shared and explained to us how to build a family-oriented brand that is easy and fun to love and partner with families and large family brands already successful on the market.

Cascade Ice, flavored sparking water, had an amazingly fun and colorful space perfectly decorated to “Live a Flavorful Life.” They were so kind and their Cascade ice mixed-drinks (non-alcoholic) were super delicious!

I’ve made my own mixed-drinks with Cascade Ice at home since then and they have been a hit with my guests! If you haven’t tried them, yet check them out @cascadeicewater on Instagram for more information and to find a location near you to purchase.

The #WeAllGrowFAMILIA panel sessions were began by a warm welcome from Munchkin’s CEO, Steven Dunn, and Munchkin’s Instagram Director, Karla Ortiz.

The first #WeAllGrowFAMILIA  panel (Christina Soletti of @ergobaby, Frances Barajas of @readconmigo, Tracey Del Moral of @carters / @OshKoshB’gosh) let us in on how brands market to millennial moms and dads.

After the panel, #WeAllGrow’s Melissa Bailey interviewed Jacqui Saldana, founder of @babyboybaker, as she shared with us all about The Art Of Creating Family Memories! Jacqui — you go girl!

I took so many notes in our new #WeAllGrowFAMILIA custom mint-colored journal by the planning queen herself, Erin Condren (@erincondren)! It’s beautiful!

P.S. I was so in love with Melissa’s dress, I had to let her know when she sat next to me after the panel! haha

P.S.S. It was great to tour the Munckin Headquarters and admire Steven Dunn’s unique art work collection.

One of my favorite keynotes was from Laura Fuentes, founder of @momables. She shared her personal experience with momprenuership – the highs and the lows with so much realness and gusto! I was so happy to be able to be part of her Mentor Roundtable session! (We had the opportunity to sit down in a small intimate group setting with three of the nine awesome speakers and ask specific questions in 20 minute sessions.) Her insights were tangible and that makes a huge difference for a mom just starting out to make her ideas into a brand!

To end the Mentor Roundatables on a yummy note, we headed out to enjoy a light and delicious lunch and hydrated with the deliciously fresh @aguavidapremiumwater alkaline water made in our very own Los Angeles! You’re also able to reuse, refill, and rehydrate with their cute little glass bottles. Look how awesome the custom tags look on the bottles!

During lunch I enjoyed the creative spaces of @wordpressdotcom and learned a few tips and tricks to maintain my website and create my great looking blog posts!

Have you been able to play with a Baby Alive doll? I took a moment to experience the magical Super Snacks Snackin’ Luke and Sweet Tears Baby by @hasbro who creates the world’s best play experiences! These dolls will definitely teach your baby empathy, as they need to provide love and nurturing to keep them fed, healthy, and happy. What a concept!

Can you relate mamá? 😉

I had the best time throwing confetti in front of @timemachinevideo‘s camera! There’s nothing like letting go a little bit and acting silly for a great slow motion video!

If only my 16-month-old Ellie could have been there to enjoy it with me! She’s the reason I’ve learned to let go and be silly at the toddler playgrounds with her! LOL No Kidding mamas!

 

Al fin del día and after all the love of parenting and entrepreneurship was spoken into us, we gathered for the closing fiesta — COCO themed — thanks to the amazingly talented team of  Disney-Pixar’s Coco!

What do you think? Will COCO win an Oscar next year at the Academy Awards?

It was quite the experience to hear Alanna Noël Ubach speak as the closing keynote speaker. If that wasn’t enough, I was able to meet @alannaaubach at the after-party! She did a superb job lending her voice to COCO’s Mamá Imelda.

Let’s talk about the snacks! Yummy cotton candy by @twistedforsugar, juicy eloteschurros dipped in chocolate, flavorful hot chocolate, agua de horchata and beautiful COCO-inspired cookies baked and decorated by the amazing @aliciasdelicias. Aren’t they the cutest!

It was great catching up with Martha and meeting Ruby (@la_mamacitas), and of course, an after-party is not complete without a photo booth!

Immensely thankful to @WeAllGrowLatina for inviting me to such a heart-felt community event.

¡Viva la familia!

Love,

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It’s My Birthday!

It’s My Birthday!

Hola Amiga – Buenos dias!

It’s my birthday today and I have been looking forward to this day since mid-Spring!

I set my heart on blogging and today is the deadline I gave myself to publish my first post. I brainstormed a plan for my emotions. I had to. I’m a private and conservative person. I’m a social introvert. Therefore, my main goal was to take small steps towards opening up my emotions and life into the world wide web via the internet and getting my feet wet with the online world these past seven months.

Here I am, curled up in the corner of my grey faux-leather couch, wearing my favorite comfy and perfectly worn-in yoga outfit, and the sound of the not-so-silent, yet calming night in the background, as I type away on the recently sanitized black keyboard of my Mac laptop.

Did I mention it’s 5:00 AM and I have, yet to snuggle and fall asleep next to my wonderfully warm husband, since laying my daughter to sleep for the third time tonight? There goes the idea of uninterrupted work while they sleep. Sadly, her sleep is being broken as she’s still recovering from the awful tummy flu my husband and I also experienced during the Thanksgiving weekend; however, I am completely grateful that she’s now eating, her cheeks have warmed up in color, and the sparkle in her eyes is returning.

Mental note to thank my husband in a couple of hours for hearing her cry this time and comforting her. I didn’t have to walk up the carpeted stairs for the fourth time, but yet, again, I wouldn’t have bothered me to hold her close to me like when she was a newborn and being allowed a peek of her long and curled eyelashes in the dark, thanks to the soft fluorescent street light coming in through the bedroom window.

This night is actually perfect for writing and publishing my first blog post! A reflection of my 32nd year of life on my actual birthday. Cool! Is it cool, say cool? Anyway. I’ve officially been awake for 24 hours. My weekday alarm just went off on my Fitbit. 5:15 AM. I have today, Friday, off from work. You know, because it’s my birthday. Thank goodness.  How proud I am of myself today as I look back and can list the many accomplishments under my new and ever-evolving “Vanessa: individual, mami, wife, daughter, friend, and neighbor” belt. Individual. That’s the one I felt I had lost this past year as I focused on excelling at being a mami and wife, so I promised myself I would  begin to intentionally regain myself one day at a time. Better and wiser. And more fun and energetic because I have a toddler to entertain! Can I get an Amen!

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Mid-Spring 2017. That’s when my Instagram blogging account was born. There’s something so intensely therapeutic about connecting with another mamá who can read your words and understand not only what you’re trying to express and free from within under a curated highlight-reel of photos, but actually be able to emotionally place themselves in that very moment you so vulnerably shared with her, and let’s be real — the world — because she has been there. Multiple times. Under a different name and a different roof, but with the same great womanly heart. El mismo gran corazón de mujer.

The sweet orange and yellow sorbet sunrise rays are forming and peeking slowly through the sheer ivory living room curtains. I forgot to close the window panels after dinner. I’m glad. I can’t help, but smile, as I sip on my lukewarm, almost cold, ginger root and cinnamon stick boiled tea, flavored with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of ground turmeric root, on this crisp 56 degree fall morning. Bienvenido diciembre. We were waiting for you December. We are now 24 days away from celebrating Christ our Lord, but meanwhile, we can follow along with fun and memorable family traditions of decorating our Christmas tree with most of our familia on their tippy-toes, having our Elf on a Shelf surprise us with her mischievous, yet silly behavior every morning, and welcoming all the possible arts & crafts. My DIY lover raise your hands up in the air!

Cheers to all the new moms as they join me in embarking in the journey to regain their new and improved (and completely sleep-deprived) self after baby. We’re strong, and behind us are more strong women cheering us on for when we have great achievements, but especially in moments of doubt.

*Note to Self: Love yourself. Allow yourself grace. Allow other women grace.

Please let me know how I may serve you better as we take this journey together.

Cheers to publishing my first blog post on deadline & happy 32nd birthday to me!

Love,

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