Fall Reading List – 2017

I blinked and summer is behind us.  Booo.  But never fear, there is fall-foliage, crisp mornings, and chilly evenings that all make it a perfect time to curl up with a good book.  I’m excited to share with you my fall reading list for 2017!

Fall reading list for 2017.  What I'm reading this fall.

Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do – Chris Guillebeau is best known in travel circles for having visited all 193 countries.  However, he’s been able to build a remote worklife and his lifestyle is intriguing.  I’m most interested in his chapters on entrepreneurship and building a loyal following.

Mother of God – Mother of God is the Madre de Dios, a region of west Peru where the Amazon River begins its course. Paul Rosolie, the author, was only 18 when he left to explore this vast jungle.  You know they say that readers make the best writers, and I’m hoping that reading this travelogue will help me as I write about my travels (albeit I don’t plan to have any anacondas on my trips).

So Happiness to Meet You – From the publisher, “After job losses and the housing crash, the author and her family leave L.A. to start over in a most unlikely place: a nine-foot-wide back-alley house in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s poorest districts, where neighbors unabashedly stare into windows, generously share their barbecued rat, keep cockroaches for luck, and ultimately help her find joy without Western trappings.”  Just released in July, this is sure to be a fascinating read!

The Power of the Other – From the publisher, “Popular wisdom suggests that we should not allow others to have power over us, but the reality is that they do, for better or for worse.”  Ahhh, preach!  “Combining engaging case studies, persuasive findings from cutting-edge brain research, and examples from his consulting practice, Dr. Cloud argues that whether you’re a Navy SEAL or a corporate executive, outstanding performance depends on having the right kind of connections to fuel personal growth and minimize toxic associations and their effects.” From Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the popular Boundaries, this is sure to be a helpful book!

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World – I can’t think of anything more exciting than a trip around the world, which, in 2017, doesn’t involve much drama, thanks to efficient airplanes and affordable travel options. However this trip takes place in 1899!  Two women, both leaving from NYC, try to break the record for the fastest trip around the world.  Nellie heads east by steamship and Elizabeth heads west by train. I can’t wait to dive into it!

Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys – Folks, can I just say, raising boys is hard?  Especially the strong-willed one that questions EVERY. LITTLE. THING.  I’m always open to new wisdom, and this book came highly recommended.  It will make a great addition to my fall reading.

What are you reading this fall?  I’d love to know!

PIN THIS:Fall Reading list for Fall 2017. Books to read in 2017.

What I’m Reading This Summer

Whether it’s poolside, at the beach, or on the deck, Americans get pretty giddy over summer reading!  To be honest, I tend to read more when I’m cooped up in winter, but nonetheless, having a summer reading list helps me to stay focused on another goal in my life- to read good books.

Without further ado, here is what I’m reading this summer:

The House Girl – From the publisher, “Alternating between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, The House Girl is a searing tale of art, history, love and secrets that intertwines the stores of two remarkable women.”

Own Your Life – The subtitle for this book is “Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love.”  I’ve enjoyed all of Sally Clarkson’s books and I can’t wait to dive into this one.

How Children Succeed – From the publisher, “He (author Paul Tough) uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do—and do not—prepare their children for adulthood.”  That statement alone had me purchasing the Kindle version.

The Greatest Generation – I’m halfway through this book and while it was published in 2000, it’s helping me to better understand our grandparents.   I’d recommend this for anyone that wants to learn more about American culture or the tenacity demonstrated by the people of that time.

Ginny Moon – Ginny is an autistic 13-year old that has finally found the adoptive family she’s been wanting.  However, she’s willing to throw it all away in order to get back to her “baby doll.”  I’ve heard so many gleaming reviews of this one, I’m eager to get my hands on it.

Hillbilly Elegy – If you haven’t heard of Hillbilly Elegy, you may be living under a rock, –  A memoir about growing up in Ohio’s rustbelt.

The Danish Way of Parenting – I’m intrigued by different parenting methods, and from my time on exchange I saw how academically excelled European students were compared to  myself (truth hurts).   Hoping I learn some Danish secrets.

What are you reading this summer?  Are any of these books on your list, too?


Post contains affiliate links.

The Friday Five- April Life (not the giraffe, the month)

Hi everyone!  I haven’t done many posts lately on what I’m reading or our family life, so I thought I’d do a general post for my #FridayFive!


My grandma passed away a few weeks ago and although she was nearly 99 years old, it’s been a sad time. It’s weird to think that that generation, which was a huge influence in my life, is gone and there’s only my parents left.  Has anyone else felt that?

Anyhow, Sunday night my parents were over and  brought a box of letters I had saved from when I was an exchange student.  The box contained probably 20 letters that my Gran had written.  I laughed and cried for an hour!  She was a such a hoot.  These letters will continue to be precious to me.

That leads me to #2…


After my other grandmother passed away 3 years ago, I made a pact that I would journal and write more.  The written word has such a profound effect on those who are left behind.  Seriously, we found a journal entry from my grandma that said she had babysit me when I was about 10 months old and I was “such a good baby.”  That made me cry for a week! (#Iamacrier)

I’m going to journal more about life – anything from the kids to blogging to arguments between me and Mr YT. Haha. I figure that someday these will make me laugh and reflect.

AND, from a business perspective, having a written word to look back on is SO helpful.  I’ve written down so many blog topics and completely forgotten about them less than a week later!

Love this quote from a Copyblogger (yes, a blogger’s blog):

“In my experience, creative people need journals. They’re the greenhouses where we grow ideas. And the laboratories where we practice fiendish experiments.” ~Sonia Simone

I don’t have a green thumb, so my journals will serve as my greenhouses. 😉


Since the move, I’ve been slack about reading.  I read on Instagram (and I don’t remember who’s feed) that every time you wanna pick of your phone and browse social media, pick up your book instead.  I tried this this week and it was so productive!!

Here’s what I hope to get through this month:

Mindset – I’m about a third of the way through.  This is some heavy psychology stuff, so you can’t just skim it.

City of Refuge – A fictional novel about two families dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Highly recommended as something to read before visiting New Orleans (we leave at the end of this month)

The Secret of Midwives – I rarely read this much fiction, but I just can’t turn down a book on midwifery written by an Aussie. 😉

The Magnolia Story – I jumped on the bandwagon (and already finished this).  I adore this couple, but didn’t love the book. Don’t worry, I still wanna visit Waco.


The house.

So did I tell ya’ll that when we bought our house we bought one where we wanted to paint and/or change EVERY SINGLE ROOM?  Since we moved I’ve painted the 1/2 bath, the dining room, the homeschool room, and the foyer… hey, that means there is only 7 rooms to go!  ha!

Is painting the worst chore ever? How do people do this for a living?

What could be worse is actually PICKING paint colors.  I’m so indecisive.

Do you paint or do you hire someone?  I know we should just try to hire someone but I’m so cheap.  So instead I save the money and whine for DAYS.

THIS. This is “wedding white.”  Which I thought looked cream.  But it’s white.  The end. #firstworldissues


You know I can’t end a post without talking about travel.

The Yoder Toters have a busy season coming up:

New Orleans, Marietta, Fort Wayne,  and staying in a CABOOSE in Hocking Hills – which one would you most like to read about?

Are you planning your summer vacation?

I love this post from Shalee at Shalee Wanders- Eight Other Travel Bloggers to Inspire Your Wanderlust

I’ve gotten to meet a few of these ladies and they are the real deal!  Tonya from The Traveling Praters has become my blog guru & I’m so thankful!

Happy Friday!!  Have a great weekend!

2nd year of homeschooling – planners, curriculum, and controlling the circus

It’s crazy to believe we are racing to the finish of our second year of homeschooling!  I’ve made changes to our approach this year, as I’ve learned more about myself and more about my son!

Last year seemed like the year of personality struggles and the big adjustment to schooling full-time.

This year feels like a full-blown attempt at scheduling & curricula.

Things you should know:

Momma doesn’t always know best (sshhh don’t tell anyone)

The hardest part of homeschooling for me, has been that I’m a recovering control-driven perfectionist.  I think every day should follow the schedule which is set apart in my happy little noggin.  Then, all of my dominion shall act like scholarly little subordinates who love learning and enjoy worksheets as much as a young Leah did. When do I get my way?  About 1 out of 15 days.  Maybe once a month.

I’m learning to choose my battles.  I go “old school” in that I try to focus all of my energy on that which I think is most important- reading, writing and arithmetic.  Then I read (to the children) some more.

Sometimes I’m discouraged because I feel like something I’ve chosen isn’t working for us and so I’ll spend a day or days or weeks trying to tweak.  I have to tell myself, THIS IS WHY WE DO IT…because we can tweak it and we can make our boy get the most out of it.

Basically, like most things good things in life, homeschooling is work and it does take some adjustments!

It’s hard to keep the troops in line

I really thought life with 3 under 4 was the 3-ring circus, well it turns out life with a 1st grader, preschooler, and energetic 3 year old can be just as hectic.  One of our major battles is distraction (which is probably true in a public/private school room, too).  The younger kids listen in for our read-aloud time (we’re on our third book in The Little House series) and Bible.  Beyond that, if they are wanting to be more involved, they’ll do map time during history or I’ll pull out some alphabet flashcards.  I also have age-appropriate workbooks if they want to join.  For preschool books, C has cheapos from The Dollar Tree.  Olen is very particular about any workbook (he’s my hands-on man) so I have these Star Wars books which he adores!!

Chewy                                                Anakin                                           C3P0

We live or die by a plan

One of the major changes I felt happened between kindergarten and first grade is that a schedule was even more important.  I’ve used a planner like THIS the past two years and I love how easily I can break down our days and still have a space to write the things I need to do, too.  I’m a planner by nature and I think Jackson needs to know what’s expected each day, too!

I usually only plan a week or two ahead.  Most of the time I do this while Jackson is working on math problems so it doesn’t eat time out of the evening.

A sample of last week’s planner

Due to The Plan, we don’t get out of the house as much as did last year.  In the spring and fall we’re playing outside, but I’m really missing the playdates and social time!  We DID just move though so I think we’re just generally missing our friends — along with March cabin fever.

Curriculum loves and hates

I shared in the recap of our first year about our curriculum choices.  We changed our phonics from A beka to Explode the Code and I’m thankful we did!  It’s just a much simpler format for both of us!  I ended up buying A beka 1st grade History because it covered US History and countries of the world, but I don’t love it.  I’m considering putting the boys in Classical Conversations next year- so if I do- we’ll have history covered.

We’re continuing to use Long Story Short for our Bible time and I really can’t imagine using anything else.

For science we’re bouncing around between some Charlotte Mason work and Our Father’s World.  I like both, but the Charlotte Mason is a nature study with many outside things and well, this is Ohio. 😉

For math we’re using Horizons Year 2.

New room

Maybe the most welcome change since the new year is that we now have a school room!  It’s still evolving, but I’m so thankful I’m not longer clearing books so we can eat, then cleaning the table so we can restart school.  Gosh, it’s just made the day a lot easier!

So that’s a little (800 word) update on what’s been happening at Yoder Academy.  What does your homeschool day look like?  Do you feel like you run a three-ring circus?  Any thoughts on Classical Conversations?

My 2016 Christmas List

Blogland is full of lists- Best gifts for travelers! Best gifts for boys aged 7-12!  Best gifts for dad!

This is the list titled– Best Gifts for Leah Yoder — fully egocentric and very specific.  Friends, since I can’t have a 10-day Pacific Islands cruise with my family (and a nanny), I’ve resorted to a traditional list.

I wrote this for 2 reasons.

  1.  So I don’t receive a turkey baster wrapped in a Target bag (We made it through that one, Mr. YT) 😉
  2. Because I want to know what you want.  So that’s your job in the comments.

So here’s my list.  Some of affiliate links (no cost to you, but the 20 cent commission may help Mr YT afford my taste in boots)!


#1- I love these boots.  We’re moving to the snowbelt and my Uggs are not going to handle the wet snow.  I just wish I’d had these in Canada.

#2- I’ve been wanting a functional world map- good for school and décor.  This one I found on Amazon takes the cake, and it comes with push-pins to mark where you have been!

#3- I’m a homeschool mom, and I’ve gotten this book from the public library more than once.  I think it’s probably time I buy it for our home library.

#4- I was born in 1983, right around the time Return of the Jedi hit the big screen.  So our names aren’t quite the same, but I still adore this mug!

#5- These beatitude bracelets by Mercy House Global are perfect.  I love the message- and I love that they support impoverished women.  I subscribe the Earring of the Month club- check it out.

#6- Have you seen prints by Lindsay Letters?  I’m thinking this one would be perfect for a gallery wall in the new homeschool room.

#7 & #8 We’ve started the Little House series for our read-aloud time of homeschool.  Through that, I realized that it would be helpful if our family had a set of our own (instead of having to renew it multiple times)!  I saw the Little House coloring book at T.J. Maxx and it is GORGEOUS, but I was too cheap to buy it ($10 for coloring?)  However, this could be 3 pm therapy for me and the littles! Lol.

So what’s on your 2016 Christmas list?  Boots?  Jewelry?  A nanny?  A turkey baster?


The disease of wanting to be liked

Today after dropping off boy #2 at preschool, I was attempting to “sell” preschool to my daughter, using it as a leverage tool for her to (for the love) go in the potty.

Her response, “Yeah I go to preschool next year and people will like me!”

I have to stop buckling her seat and look at her.  Did she just say that?

She’s not even 3 but she’s going to go to preschool with the aim that people will like her?

Oh that little girl made my heartrate soar…


As if surviving middle school and high school wasn’t enough, we’re continually bombarded by “likes” in our culture.  We wait for the newsfeed counter to tell us how many we’ve gained on social media, and we feel a lack when the internet voices are silent.

Adulthood presents just as much of a longing to belong.  For people to approve of my house or my desires– think my kids are well behaved.  For others to notice my hard work or my quiet spirit (the latter I have never been pointed out for! Ha!).

If this isn’t true, why do we buy a new car or take a great vacation or have our kid selected as honor student and immediately put it on Facebook– aren’t we all searching for someone’s notice?

No matter what persona we like to put out, it’s HARD when others simply don’t like us.

Did I do this to my little girl?  Did I unintentionally give her the feeling that people have to “like” us.  I’ve been so careful with my kids (even at their young ages) to quiet myself on body image and attitude (<- ok, that one notsowell), did I give the feeling that I, too, was waiting for the next approval rating from my peers?

I love the words of Brené Brown, who in her book Daring Greatly, said, “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”

{{All the praise hands on that one!}}

So your supportive mom is upset- take notice.

Your best friend is frustrated with you- take notice.

A girl you see at school pick-up is nasty- WALK ON BY.

Crabby lady in the grocery store whines about your kids- WALK ON BY.

We can’t control everyone.  And really, if we are Christians, God redirects our focus.  In her book, Unashamed, Heather Davis Nelson says, “We expect the worst from others, and we assume that they think about us as negatively and as much as we fear they do (which is not usually true).  Yet even if their thoughts of us were as condemning as we fear, we are living for the wrong audience.  As someone created in the image of God and for the purpose of reflecting who God is, I am created to live before God alone.  (My emphasis added).


It’s hard not being liked, but we are FREE. 

Have you struggled with this, too?  How do we teach our kids to search for real friends not “likers?”

(Post contains affiliate links)

My Summer Reading List (2016)

summer reading list 2016

Here’s what I’m planning to read before Labor Day arrives!

My Summer Reading List:


Mom Enough– from the writers at Desiring God, this is a compilation of 24 essays from young mothers.  I’m excited to read it.  Right now it’s only $2.99 for Kindle.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood– I’ve checked this book out a few times, but never taken the time to read it.  The reviews are glowing, and it seems like it will make me laugh.


A Praying Life– Sadly, I know my prayer life isn’t where it should or could be.  I’m hoping this book will help me to make it more of a priority.


The Kite Runner– I know I’m about 12 years late to the party on this one.  My friend urged me to read this book ions ago, but I just picked it up at Goodwill for 50 cents, so what better time to delve in, than now?


Biking Across America– Paul Stutzman lost his wife to cancer and it spurred him to quit his job and hike the Appalachian Trail.  This follow-up book covers his next adventure.

The Road to Little Dribbling– Bill Bryson is pretty funny, and I can’t wait to read more about his adopted country, the UK.

Personal Growth

The War of Art– I’ve heard so many good things about this book from podcasters and bloggers, it’s time I check it out.

The One Thing–  I read this book in late 2014 and it was excellent.  It’s worth a re-read.

Living Forward– Michael Hyatt was a guest on Dale Partridge’s podcast a few weeks back, and the two convinced me that I needed to read this book.  I’ve even requested the book-on-CD for my husband so we can talk about it together.  Michael Hyatt has made a profound impact on me- check out his blog HERE.

What are you reading this summer?  I don’t read much fiction.  Is there something you’d recommend?

Hooked on Books

What I’m reading in May

Hi friends!  Man, I have been a slow reader the past few months.  Although, I find when I read “heavier” books it takes me longer to process them.

Here’s what I’m reading in May with links to Amazon.

Awe by Paul David Tripp- I love what the cover of the book says, “Uncovering the lies we believe about all the earthly things that promise us peace, life, and contentment, Paul Tripp redirects our gaze to God’s awe-inducing glory– showing us how such a vision has the potential to impact our every thought, word, and deed.”

Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick – I’m doing a study on this book with a few friends.  It’s a devotional format.  The price just dropped on this one and the Kindle version is only $2.99.

Stopping Stress Before It Stops You by Kevin Leman- As I mentioned in the Friday Five, I started reading this last week and I’m almost finished with it.  It’s making me realize how my parenting style may indeed be adding more stress to my life- Go figure!

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner- I’ve been eyeing this book for a long time, I even listened to this podcast last year when Jessica was featured.  Right now the Kindle version is only $2.99 on Amazon so I could not pass it up.may 2016 hooked books

Here are my past Hooked on Books blogs:

March 2016

October 2015

July 2015

What are you reading in May?

The Friday Five

5 Things Making My Life Easier

Hi guys!  TGIF!  We have a busy few days coming up, but before that kicks off,  I wanted to share with you some things that are making my life better/easier/happier.friday five edited

  1.  This double stroller by Kolcraft seriously saved our life (and my back) in Australia and at home.  It’s light and steers very well.  We even pushed Jackson in it (he’s 6) and that didn’t make it seem heavy or awkward.  I would really recommend this one for moms of littles.
  2.  I was late getting on to the “Toms train”, but these lace-up Del Ray sneakers have been the perfect casual mom/traveler shoe.  I’ve also been complimented on them about 1000 times, and I’ve been told that they make my feet look smaller than they are (wait, is that a compliment or not)?  If you have a narrow foot like mine, they will fit much better than the more popular slip-on Toms.
  3. You know when you buy a book and then put it in on the shelf only to find it a few months later?  Guilty.  Nonetheless, I picked this one up just last night and I’ve been devouring it.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about Kevin Leman, but so-far-so-good on this book.  A must-read for stressed out mommas (even if we wouldn’t admit to it).
  4. Let’s do a rundown of the devices in our family of five: 2 laptops, 3 tablets, 2 phones, 1 DSLR camera… so what do we need? A place to plug them all in!  We bought this set for international travel but it’s been plugged in in our kitchen when we’re home.  I mean, seriously, we can have our Keurig plugged into it and still have room for 3 other items. Oh, happy day!
  5. I’m one of those people that reads a book and earmarks and underlines and then shoves an old receipt or a business card in place to mark my page.  Then my 2-yr-old walks by my book and deposits my “bookmark” on the floor.  This is probably so 1998 but I just discovered magnetic bookmarks.  WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN ALL MY LIFE?  I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but these are similar and adorable.

What’s making your life easier/happier/better right now? I’d love to hear!

Hooked on Books- What I’m reading in March

Wow- I realized I hadn’t talked about books since October!  I always like to know what other people are reading (in a non-creepy way) so here’s a list of what’s on MY list.  *Contains affiliate links*


Just finishing up

Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend – This book has been so helpful!  Parenting is the hardest thing ever (marriage is a close second, but I only have one husband- not three! Lol)

Chosen by God  –  It’s sad that I grew up in church, but theology is such a new concept for me.  Loving this book by R.C. Sproul

Starting this week

God’s Plan for You by J.I. Packer-  God’s plan isn’t all sunshine and roses, no matter what the prosperity teachers tell you.  I’ve definitely struggled with what is the correct way to look at God’s will for our lives.

Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman- This book was suggested by someone I trust… I think Mr. YT and I are going to read it together.  Can I just mention again that parenting is the hardest thing ever?   Jackson’s probably reading  Have a New Mom by Friday! Haha!

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling- I’ve read mixed reviews and I’m not sure this is my type of biography, but I’m always a sucker for hype 😉 (i.e. Jen Hatmaker posted she was reading it).

Also on the horizon

Yes!  We’re planning another trip.  This one isn’t until next year but trying to come up with itinerary, and more importantly, a BUDGET.  Have you every been to Texas?  Any tips?

What are you reading in March?  

What I read in:

July 2015

September 2015

October 2015