First Photoshoot of Fall

I keep insisting that it’s fall, cause it really is starting to feel like fall around here (I know, our summers are like fall to many of you!). Plus, the leaves on the trees are just starting to turn, initiating what I think is the most magical (albeit brief) time of year. The photos we took on Saturday morning were the first of many, I’m sure. But these were for a very special purpose! I can’t wait to tell you all about it [the special purpose] when it arrives!

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Wanna Know What I Think?!

“Ridiculous!” is the only thing that came to mind when I read this article. Well, and then visions of paddle wielding school principles and small town policemen who would stop you on the street and warn, “If you don’t cut that out, I’m gonna have a talk with your Pa.” danced fancifully in my head. And yes, I realize that I might watch too much Andy Griffith, but you’ll just have to pardon me for preferring a little old fashioned discipline to what the world has become over the course of my thirty-two years on this deteriorating planet. Yes, I really am thirty-two and not eighty-two. But listen here, whipper snapper, back when I was a girl…we did our chores and respected our parents!!

And we didn’t call the police when we were asked to pick up the trash!

What I think, is that in addition to being called down (which I’m assuming he was), the ten year old who called 110 (the British 911) on his mother for asking him to do chores should have been given some chores to do for the city! Sound too harsh? I can promise you that if any of my kids ever pulled a stunt like that, I’d be calling the police and asking them to send an officer right over (and I do live in Mayberry where this sort of thing still happens). I’m sure the police station needs a good mopping.

Wanna know what I think? Keep the articles coming!

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Strider Running Bike – a review

I sometimes hide under a rock, and so I realize these may not be new to you. But until my friend (an independent Strider dealer) sent me one of their PREbikes, I had no idea there was such a thing.

But, there are! Strider Running Bikes (PREbikes) are no-pedal, adjustable bikes that are used to train balance in preparation for pedal bikes. Or, they can be ridden as secondary bikes. Older kids use them as stunt bikes, I’m told (not that I’m mentioning that to my kids…yet).

The concept behind the Strider is fabulous for a variety of reasons. If you train with a Strider, you never train with training wheels! The Strider kid simply walks…then runs…then picks up her feet and rides away! It wasn’t until researching the Strider that I really thought about how bad training wheels are [conceptually]. I mean, they’re basically like Pull-ups (mom humor). They train a child to make mistakes instead of empowering them to succeed. Once your child is ready to pick up her feet, there is a slip-free platform on both sides. Or, you know, they could just do this…


The Strider turns learning coordination and balance into a simple, fear free walk (or stride) in the park. It took [me!] all of five minutes to assemble, and it’s so lightweight that even Bay Bit (heck, even Baby Bear) can carry it around (it only weighs 8 pounds – traditional bikes weigh around 30!). The lack of chains and pedals (and the superior material of the bike) result in its durable, lightweight quality. And the weight (or lack thereof) isn’t just for convenience. This carefully designed Strider characteristic helps young children to gain almost instant control of their Strider PREbike.


The Strider Running bike is pretty simple to adjust, too. But, not simple enough for me to switch it between heights for these photos we took on our walk. My older girls like riding the Strider at a lower setting than they actually need. The seat and handle bars are adjustable*, however, making the Strider a practical, fun, and looong lasting (and durable! NO CHEAP PLASTIC TOYS!) Christmas or birthday gift.

* You use a wrench to tighten and loosen the clamps that hold the seat and handlebars. The settings aren’t notched, and are 100% adjustable for children ages 2-5.

I wish I’d know about the Strider as each of my kids turned two and a half or three. Still, it seems we have a few more years to enjoy our Strider. I’m looking into getting one for all three of the younger kids (yeah, right, I might just have to bit the bullet and get one for all five).

Strider kids know they are in control (Wouldn’t that have been a nice feeling when you were learning to ride a bike??). They pick up their feet when they’re ready. 

If you have a toddler or young child who is asking for a bike, I highly recommend that you get them a PREbike from Strider in lieu of a pedal bike and training wheels. It will last through multiple children and is a fabulous value for the price. Additionally, it will teach them the balance they need to be superior riders once they are ready for a traditional bike.


To order your very own Strider PREbike, contact the lovely people at Amarillo Strider. They make ordering simple (payments are made via PayPal), and they’re available to answer any questions you might have. Oh, and they ship anywhere, too! When ordering, be sure to mention this review (there’s a free gift in it for you!).

Thanks, Josh and Rian, for introducing the Valentes to the Strider! You definitely have fans in us!

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I Love Living in a Small Town…Except When I Want a Mango.

A few months ago, I bragged on my mango vinaigrette…which I realize is an unfair thing to do without posting the recipe. Well, I haven’t made it since posting about it. I promise I would have shared it if I’d done so. I thought I’d make it today as a kick off for my [very] little salad contest (We’re voting on Tuesday and the winner gets $25! – It’s a consolation prize from this post.).

The kids and I walked to the store for ingredients, because it is an absolutely gorgeous day and we’re scrapping the barrel of summer.

Of course, though, there were no mangoes…or blackberries…or raspberries…or blueberries. There were two cartons of strawberries (and I bought the one that wasn’t moldy). Sigh. So this salad is more of an ad lib than a recipe.

I chopped romaine and iceberg lettuce and mixed in avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The dressing is identical to my mango vinaigrette, only with a strawberry substitution.

In my blender, I combined:

7 average strawberries
1/4 cup oil (of your choice, I used veg.)
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
a pinch of salt
2 t. sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)

I could have blended the strawberries and then added the other ingredients, but I chose to blend it all together and emulsify the dressing. The result was really creamy. The kids thought it was strawberry yogurt.

But it was yummy. It took us all of five minutes to eat it all.

But now I want to hear (and see) about your favorite salads. Please link up here or on the KT facebook page!

Comment on Facebook!

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I See Me! Personalized Storybooks

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Raising Girls…to be Real

Somewhere in Central Texas, a little girl dropped her head in shame. Her mother was oversharing, again, to the waitress at a random 2 for 1 Mexican restaurant on a Sunday afternoon…

It took me years to appreciate my mother’s openness. I sometimes wonder how my girls will feel about mine. The fact is, though, that my mother’s openness helped to define me. I hope that my girls will be defined by mine.

Cause it’s better to be real.

My girls like to play princesses. Someday, their brothers and cousin will get sick of playing the prince/groom and they’ll start to think about other boys (not that they don’t do that some already). When that day comes, I want them to know exactly who they are. This is why I’ve recently banned Disney princess play from our household. They’re Princess Wisdom, Princess High Tower and Princess Purity (the meanings of their names). There is no reason for them to pretend to be someone that they’re not.
It’s better to be real.

When my girls are grown and they think back on what they’ve learned from me, I hope they’ll credit me with teaching them to apologize without using the word, “but”. I hope they’ll learn to take responsibility for their actions without holding other’s over their heads. I hope they’ll learn courage. I pray they’ll learn to forsake [giggle in the face of] worldly wisdom for the true wisdom that comes from God.

By the time my little ladies leave the nest, I pray they’ll know the difference between happiness and joy. And I trust they’ll choose joy in all circumstances.

No matter how far they roam, I pray they’ll be in no doubt of their parents’ love for them. I pray they’ll know unconditional love.

When my girls are women, I pray they’ll find something to fight for. Something big. And I pray they’ll hold fast no matter the cost. I know they will. They’re my girls. And I’m so grateful to God for the privilege of raising them. The mistakes I’ve made thus far are innumerable. It’s a good thing there is immeasurable forgiveness in their little great big hearts.

They’ve reminded me of silliness and late night giggles…of pink nail polish and imaginary tea. They’re little rays of hope when the world is darkened, and I know I’m not the only recipient destined for that gift. From them, I have learned forgiveness, grace, strength, faith and courageous beauty.

I pray they’ll learn the same from me. I pray they’ll learn those things, not just from listening to my words, but from watching me.

Like the life they breathe into their playthings…and like their favorite bedtime story. I pray they’ll know deeply the love of their Father. And I pray His love will make them REAL.


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Me, Doormat?

Because I have chosen to line my life with the Word of God (and that’s the goal, not my current reality), many have accused me of being a poor example to my children…especially to my girls. I’m a doormat who will inevitably raise doormats, at least that’s the outcry. Obviously, I disagree. And, on Friday, I’ll go into more detail about what I hope my girls do learn from me. Today, though, I’d really like to breakdown, flesh-out, this whole idea of doormats.

Who are they?

How does one become one?

And is that a bad thing?

First, the word “doormat” is not actually in the Bible. Did you know that? [Ha.]

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.'”

“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Hmmm. I guess, technically, I could just end the post right here. Especially because those are not the only three scriptures which suggest blatantly command that the Christian life revolves around forgiveness, servitude and an unswerving dedication to refusing offended thoughts and responses at every turn.
The Doormat Doctrine? Not in Scripture. However (and anyone who knows me knew that a however was coming) a doormat is laid down. A godly woman lays herself down.
A doormat [always] responds out of fear of man. Her actions are responses [to man]. Her thoughts are someone else’s. But a godly woman*, on the other hand, willingly turns her cheek (and I do not mean literally, don’t rail on me in the comments and accuse me of telling women to stay with abusive husbands or in abusive relationships!) because she has given up the right to be offended. She fears the Lord [only], and her actions are in thoughtful and obedient response to God’s Word. A doormat lives in a state of turmoil because she is controlled by fear and man. A godly woman abides in peace as she daily hands her life to the control of her Father.
*Of course, a woman can be godly and still be living her life as a doormat. I’m simply using these two terms to differentiate between the motives.

I live with and deeply love a man who has done things that some feel should offend me. But my willingness and excitment to serve him and love him and forgive him and seek his forgiveness does not come out of fear. I am not afraid of being single or of the stigma of divorce [anymore]. I love my husband because I’m called to love. I’m called by God, and only blessing has come from asking for and following His direction in my life. I answer only to God. And willingly laying down my life for the sake of God’s Kingdom is [continues to be] the richest, most incredibly rewarding experience of my life.
On the outside, looking in, that might make me look like a doormat. But I encourage you to take a closer look. Not at me, because I will only disappoint you, but at the high call to holiness and love that the Church has all but abandoned today. Your path will probably never look exactly like mine, but if you’re a Christian, your life should be laid down…

And the laying down should be done by you. Not by any other man.
“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?'”

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