Thanksgiving on a shoestring? No problem.

It’s my pleasure to be Stephanie over with the Multi-Tasking Mom this week talking about making Thanksgiving memories with your family on a shoestring.

Remember a few years ago when I had pneumonia that started at Thanksgiving and ended in January in the Dominican Republic? I wrote about that Thanksgiving for Stephanie.

Honestly, that day and the Christmas that followed are still some of my most precious memories. I love how God shows up and makes something beautiful out of the ashes of our lives… again and again and again.

C’mon over to Stephanie’s corner of the web and read on…




“you’re not allowed to cry” and other such nonsense


“You are not allowed to cry right now because I’m barely holding it together and I can’t hold it together for both of us.”

Standing off to the side of the cardiac floor waiting room, I actually said those words… over the phone… to my 18-year-old daughter.


Not necessarily a Mom-of-the-Year response to the fact that her world was indeed caving in. My weak defense is that at the time of that statement, my father was undergoing open heart surgery and an aortic valve replacement and I was going on 2 hours of sleep. If it helps, I did end the conversation on a more positive note …

“I need you to be strong. We’ll get this all worked out. I love you!”


Later, the nurses gifted us with a few minutes to see Dad and his miriad of tubes and wires and monitors and pumps. While my mom held his hand, my man checked out the bags of IV fluid, the drainage tubes, the pumps and the monitors. Thankfully, he speaks the language of the Cardio-Vascular ICU and knows how to interpret tubes and wires. He was also prepping for a conversation with my RN sister who is in the Dominican Republic. I watched my mom and I watched my man but mostly I watched my Dad’s chest go up and down as the ventilator breathed for him. It was not easy seeing Superman tied down.

Walking out a few tears leaked through and my man stopped to let me rest my head on his shoulder. Instead of leaning in, I pushed back and told him I could not let myself give into the tears lest the dam break and I flood the hallway. The tears would have to wait.


As I sat in church on Sunday morning more than a few tears leaked out. All the pent-up fatigue, fear of the unknown, and frustration with Emme’s schooling threatened to spew forth. More than once, I considered walking out to wait in the truck. Honestly, though, I was more concerned that someone would see me than I was dealing with the bubbling emotion.

I came home to an undercooked lunch and an overly emotional daughter, pretty much summing up how life felt. While we put the meat in skillets to finish cooking and the potatoes in the microwave, I held a crying daughter. Nothing about losing Federal financial aid and having to pack up and transfer from the university of her choice to our local community college has been easy. She has been advocating for herself and doing a fabulous job jumping through hoop after hoop after hoop thrown her way.


It’s often road trips that allow my mind to wander enough to unwind. Rather than get a chance to just sit and shed the tears that were threatening, God gave me the gift of a road trip. Driving to the lake to put away summer water toys allowed for uninterrupted conversation with my man. Honestly, Chad knows me better than I know myself and can often see through my emotion to the cause underneath. Great conversation, deep laughter, and a little bit of chocolate helped change my perspective. Watching football with my dad and chasing the sunset home were simply the icing on the cake.

On the other side of the trauma of open heart surgery and the drama of our community college, the skies are clearer. Dad is home and the puzzle pieces of getting Emme admitted and access to her assignments online are slowly falling into place.

Looking back, I wish I would never have uttered “you’re not allowed to cry.” While I said that out of fear of opening the dam of tears, letting a little steam off would have saved us both some anguish. Somethings are just nonsense.







erasing history like it’s 1984

The year was 1984 and I sat, enraptured, watching the novel of the same name play across my high school’s stage. Attending the performance was a requirement for my sophomore English class. Watching 1984 that evening was my first introduction to George Orwell. A week later, I finished the novel. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. While it made sense from a literary fiction standpoint, I couldn’t get it to make sense in my mind as any sort of reality.

2 plus 2 does not equal 5, regardless of how many times you tell me it does.

Big brother isn’t watching, I mean, really? How could he?

And, doublethink? It isn’t possible.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” ~George Orwell, 1984

That was a fall evening in 1984.

Welcome to 2017 where the thought police roam social media, individuals find freedom in hating others, and only feelings matter.

We’ve deleted scenes from our history books, we’ve denied our past, and we’ve destroyed the evidence. And now? Now, we are accepting our own version of an alternate reality. A surrogate reality in which history makes us feel good and reveals that our own set of beliefs is right and everyone is wrong.

We’re doing this by erasing history like it’s 1984.

To what end? To a society in which the Party is always right? Who’s the party and why do we think they’re always right?

In the words of a long-time friend… who’s ‘they’ anyway?

We’ve become a society of US vs THEM. Regardless of where you land, and how many sides to the battle you see, everyone is fighting to prove another side wrong, driven by fear and hatred.

Have we noticed that the battle is getting bloodier and no one is winning?

Erasing history doesn’t erase the pain of generations past nor does it change the torment of our present battles.

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” ~ George Orwell, 1984

The history that is so quickly being deleted, denied, and destroyed by those on multiple sides is the very story that defines who we are and where we’ve been. Erasing it only denies the generations to come the freedom to learn from our past and to live better than we who are battling US vs THEM with fear and hatred are.

Seems like a great gift to leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

And, let’s leave the erasing of history to 1984.


when life shifts…

Once upon a time, I used to blog here.

“Used to” is the operative phrase in that sentence. It’s been over 11 months since I last chronicled any part of my life in this small corner. I hung out here often, sharing snippets of my journey and stories of my kids. So much has happened in those 11 months. Mostly, a monumental shift.

A significant shift in life and I’m now in a new season. My kids grew up. Two are adults now, one is on her way.  My nest isn’t exactly empty but it is definitely quieter.

Kreider Family_11 06 16_0013_edited-1

In this season, I’m struggling to find my voice and to put into words my journey because, for so long, my voice and my journey centered around my offspring, my 3 Es. My life was so wrapped in and around theirs that the snippets that I freely shared were as much my stories as theirs. It was all part of being a mom in the crazy and the chaos of a homeschooling family of five.


The shift happened long before I recognized it for what it was but I know for a fact that on a cool May morning, three days after her high school graduation party, we huddled together to pray with our girl before she drove herself four hours south for the summer, I knew I was standing on the other side of the shift.


Four evenings later,  when I sat on a bench seat in the front row to watch my son pledge his life to the one who holds his heart, there was no question that I was on the other side of this shift in parenting.


Honestly, this season is amazing. It is rich and full and fun. I spent this morning with my newest daughter and my youngest daughter driving through torrential downpours and bargain shopping for groceries with laughter and rich conversation.  And, this evening, enjoying a busy kitchen as my girls made homemade tortillas for tacos.

In this season, though, I have struggled with finding words because the stories I live are no longer my own to tell.  I have a front row seat to watch the stories God is writing with each of my kids.


I am now mom to 3 Es and an L and that sweet L is the one who encouraged me to come back to this little corner of the web. She’s a writer and a blogger herself and she understands my need for words and for stories. She gently reminded me that I do have things to share. I have my version which is how all of this plays out from my vantage point… from the view of a mom and mom-in-law.


So, in this new shift of life and in this new season, here I am. In just over 24 hours, we will help settle the next one into college life and a dormitory and this fall I will travel all over to chase my favorite volleyball player. There will be late night phone calls and deep laughter around my table. There will also be quiet days and lonely moments and all of it is my story, just shifted.



the lasts in mothering…

Tomorrowellen22 morning at 11:29 a.m. (or there about…), I will no longer have a 12-and-under child in my home. All three of my Es will be teenagers.

I’m still processing this.

I remember reading about all the “firsts” of motherhood. The first time you feel the flutter of your little one tucked safe and warm deep inside. The first time you see your baby’s face. The first time you hear your name change to “mama.” The first time your child rolls over, takes her first steps, goes to school. Those firsts are precious milestones that mothers get to savor.

Did I ever read about the “lasts” of motherhood? ellen68

The last time I would nurse a baby or change a diaper. The last time I would give a bath or wipe a nose. The last time we would put training wheels on a tiny bicycle and later take them off. The last time I would teach a child to read. The last time I would prepare for a 13th birthday.

I think I’ve forgotten more lasts than I’ve remembered

I’m sure I heard about the lasts of motherhood somewhere by someone but I didn’t know and I didn’t listen.

I didn’t know thellen93at the lasts are not lost in some matrix of time and space far, far into the future but are closer than I ever imagined.
I didn’t know that the lasts are the moments that are often missed by the lens of the camera in the hurry to document the next first.

Mostly, I didn’t know that the lasts of mothering are far more precious than the firsts.

Tonight was another last, only this time I knew to savor it.


We have a family tradition that on the 13th birthday, we present our kids with a book of letters of wisdom and encouragement from friends and family. Tonight we img_2240presented our last 13th Birthday Book.

I’m still processing it.

We sat in a booth at our favorite pizza place {her birthday dinner of choice} and I watched her as she read words of affirmation, letters of encouragement, messages steeped with memories, and love notes from those who love her most.

She read slowly and savored the words.
I watched her and savored the moment… this last child of mine on her last night of childhood.

A sweet last of mothering I’ve tucked deep inside to savor for a long time.

the importance of turning off to tune in

IMG_2091Saturday morning, we woke up early-ish, packed the cooler with water bottles and snacks and hit the road. We had things to do, places to go, and a camper that needs a make-over.

We spent the day visiting a great resale store, four different Habitat for Humanity ReStores, the RV Museum and the RV library. We found some great deals, learned some interesting facts and unearthed some buried treasures.

It rained buckets and we missed an exit. We laughed and she talked. She shared the back seat with a big window screen and manned the cooler. We got excited when we found vintage lights and disappointed when there was only one piece of the exact flooring she envisioned. She dreamed. We listened.

Best of all, the entire day I turned off the social media notifications on my phone so I could tune in to our adventure.

When you work from home as a social media manager, social media becomes more than a job. It becomes a way of life, or maybe it’s just me?

I rarely ever truly step away from what I do. When I get on to check my personal pages, the lines blur and I inadvertently check work pages too. All too often, a quick answer to a notification becomes 30 or 40 minutes of clicking through, tuning out those around me.

It’s a constant battle to turn off and tune in.

For a few hours on a rainy Saturday, I was able to set my work aside and be present in the moment. As time ticked by and the adventure continued, I had less and less desire to even look at what I might be missing.

Later, when we got home after our adventure and a very fun 1st birthday party, my phone looked like Facebook had a party without me. Messenger was overflowing and my notifications were too. I took one look at the red numbers on my Facebook accounts and turned my phone off for the rest of the night and most of Sunday too.

And, whenIMG_2112 I logged on this morning, it took less time than usual to answer messages and click through notifications.

What started as a few hours of intentional turning off turned into a weekend of tuning in. And, I was better for it.

The best part? Time with these I love.


this is why I love homeschool

IMG_1997Confession time, this title is a little misleading.

In my real life, there are about 2,456,897 reasons why I love homeschool. This post is approximately reasons number 2,456,898 and 2,456,899 but I wasn’t sure that made a good blog title. 🙂

This is the fifteenth year we’ve journeyed this path called homeschool. It’s also roughly the third consecutive time we’ve started a new school year following my definitive declaration the previous spring, “this is my last year of homeschool.”

Honestly, we keep going with this educational choice because of the opportunities that it presents. However, after fourteen years, I truly thought there was nothing new. We’ve done homeschool, public school, and private school. We’ve explored Charlotte Mason method, Classical Education, unschooling, and child lead learning. We’ve taken our homeschool on the road camping across different states, to two other countries, and we’ve taken advantage of two different colleges in our town for dual-credit classes. I thought we had mostly done it all.

Wrong, again.

This year new adventures await.

project Salud y Paz....Emme started Certified Nurses Assistant training this morning. While this is not a required step in her goal to become an RN someday, her dad (a nurse, himself) encouraged her to go this route. Emme is a senior this year and has only 12th grade English and U.S. Government left to complete for her diploma, so the CNA class at our local career center fit nicely into her schedule. After her first medical missions trip to Guatemala six years ago, my girl hasn’t wavered in her desire to do something in the medical missions field. Today is her first step and I can’t wait to see where God leads her. I don’t have a picture of her in her new eggplant colored scrubs this morning, but here she is, a few years ago, where her adventure began… in Guatemala.

IMG_1999Ellen’s schooling adventure this year is all about renovation, design, and budgeting. Meet Betty. Betty is a 1964 Bee Line travel trailer made not too far from where we live now. Ellen is giving Betty the ultimate make-over in hopes of selling Betty to generate funds to buy and restore her very own glamper. So, aside from her typical math, writing, science, and history classes, Ellen is learning all about repair and restoration, as well as learning which things are “needs” and which are “wants” when it comes to making Betty beautiful again. We’ll be heading to the RV Museum in Elkhart this week and taking advantage of their extensive library to learn more of what Betty used to look like and hopefully gain some make-over ideas. Thankfully, we have a friend with experience and he’s been incredibly generous in sharing his tips of the trade with Ellen. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to show you what she does with Betty this school year. Here is the link to her Facebook group if you want to follow along:

As I look back, I can honestly say that the number one reason I love homeschool is because I have been gifted fourteen years to encourage and equip my kids to pursue their dreams and passions.

I’m grateful for one more year!