Thirty-One Gifts – Empowering women + NEW fall line

In my short time as a blogger, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that I didn’t really expect!  One of them happened a few weeks ago, when I was able to attend the Thirty-One Gifts Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

If you live in the USA or Canada, I’m sure you’ve heard of Thirty-One’s stylish and functional purses, wallets, and organizing solutions.  I’ve used their products for at least 7 years, for everything from diaper bags to file folders and travel accessories.  Thirty-One really does offer problem-solving totes for all ages, but what I found out even more from attending their conference is that they aim to inspire and empower woman through Christian values.  They also have some of THE friendliest employees I have ever met!

Thirty-One’s conference is a three-day weekend of uplifting speakers, hands-on training, and a conference shop.  It should have been no surprise the massive crowd at Nationwide Arena, because combining US and Canada numbers, there are over 63,000 independent sales consultants!  Thirty-One is the 38th largest direct selling company IN THE WORLD!

Seeing this caliber of company, it’s easy to understand why they had speakers like Carrie Wilkerson, John Addison, and Dewitt Jones.  Our session included an hour long presentation by Dewitt Jones, who spent twenty years as a world-class photographer for National Geographic.  Being the travel-obsessed lady that I am, I couldn’t wait to hear Jones’ perspective on creativity and success.

One of the first things that Mr. Jones told the Thirty-One family was,

Celebrate what is right with the world rather than what is wrong with it.Click To Tweet

Would it have been awkward for me to give him a standing ovation at that moment?  Don’t worry, I didn’t!

Dewitt talked about how he got started at National Geographic by pitching what seemed like a crazy adventure as a paid gig.  As a young college kid, he wanted to shoot a video of some friends kayaking up the coast of Japan.  The story was pretty funny, but he believes that he got the job only because he kept pushing into life- and it pushed back.

He urged us that were listening with the charge, “When passion and creativity are are there, discipline and commitment isn’t lacking.”  Isn’t that fact?  When we are passionate and creative, we don’t have to wonder if we’ll stay committed.  It’s like the old adage, “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”  YES.  (I’m about to stand up and clap RIGHT NOW).

Dewitt wove his beautiful images into his speech, showing us how changing our perspective can completely change the outcome.  In his heyday, he would take over 14,000 photos to get 30 for a magazine spread.  In other words, think how much it takes to train your technique and focus on your vision.

He pushed again, “Life is continually finding the next right answer.”  Wow, isn’t that true.  Whether we are selling purses or writing a blog or raising kids or navigating an airport– We are continually tweaking our skills and procedure to find what works best.

Mr. Jones entire speech aligned with the Thirty-One vision, which is “to give women the tools to achieve financial freedom to support their personal “Whys” and to make the path to that freedom simple, easy & fun, and full of rewarding experiences.”

I’m thankful I was able to have such a rewarding experience by attending the conference!

Now, not going to lie, while the speech was well-received, we ladies love some FREE STUFF.  Afterward, the fall catalog conference swag was released and the crowd was pumped.

Here’s a sample of Thirty-One Gifts fall 2017:

Cinch Sac in Little Bones – My Olen wants to use this for Trick or Treat.  How adorable!

Essential Storage Tote in Moosin’ Around – I know this is geared towards Christmas, but I want to plan a trip to Canada or Alaska based solely based upon this print and have all of my bags personalized. That is all. #agirlcandream

Littles Carry-all Caddy in Grey Lil’ Scribble – this bag is part of the We Give Back initiative…and I can’t wait to use it in C’s room

You can find even more in the new Fall Catalog!

Which one of these products is your favorite?  Anyone else ready to book a trip based upon a bag?  Or, what speech has inspired you lately?


*I attended Thirty-One’s conference as a member of the media and received the above bags for free.  All opinions are my own!*

My Summer (un)Bucket List

Last year I made a Summer Bucket List for our family and I think it’s a very good way to be intentional with the short time we have with our children.  After all, we’ve all seen that meme about how you only get 18 summers with your kiddos.  #cuethemomguilt

However, the reality is that we mothers already place a TON of expectations on ourselves, that can never be met.  Right after you hold your child for the first time someone should be handing out a pamphlet  – you know, one to let you know that your dreams and ideals may not be reality.

So in the spirit of letting some of the pressure off, I’ve come up with my Summer (un)Bucket List, to remind me that kids need to be kids and I’m not the summer cruise director.

Summer (un)Bucket List:

 I will not beat myself up over screen time.  I know that summer will have rainy days and we can’t always be out gallivanting in the glorious sunshine.  My brother and I watched the movies Cloak and Dagger and Clue at least 74 times each summer and we turned out okay, right?

To the other extreme, I will not consider summer as a staple of childhood that should be enjoyed by gargantuan amounts of kid-lazy.  I will remember that little ones will too soon have husbands and wives and I’m raising them for that, too.  They are old enough to pick up a wet swimsuit or make a sandwich.

I will not talk about my summer body or my swimsuit readiness.  First, because there is a little girl in my household that needs to grow up knowing she is made in the image of God, not made in the image of Cosmopolitan.  Secondly, kids want me in the pool, not hovering on the sidelines because of my own insecurities.

I will not be an activities coordinator.  My mom didn’t give me a list of stimulating activities, she sent me out into the yard.  I will employ little minds to entertain themselves, knowing that imagination is the best part of childhood.

I will not feel guilt over rest.  Mom is allowed a summer vacation, too.  Although there will be laundry and meals and the ever-present demands, I will not allow myself to be suffocated by the hands on the clock.  I won’t be acting as cruise director, but I AM steering the ship.  This means that ice cream or Cheerios are perfectly acceptable dinner menus.

Have you struggled with summer guilt?  What’s on your (un)Bucket List?


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!

Spring Bucket List

Each season I like to make a family Bucket List.  This is so we are intentional about our time and enjoy the particular rhythms and events that each season brings.

We moved right after Christmas, so some of this list pays tribute to our new hometown- i.e. Find a new favorite bakery is at the top of this mom’s list #carbsfordays.


What’s on your Spring Bucket List?

Feel free to print this copy below, if you plan to do some of the same things we do!

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?”

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I don’t do it all… and neither should you

I was talking to a friend the other night and she said, “you have a lot of responsibilities.  I don’t know how you do it.”  I laughed a little … because I don’t.


It’s a Thursday morning at 10:44 am and I’m sitting at the coffee shop typing this.  Alone.  You see, for the last 18 months or so, I’ve had a babysitter sitter come in at least twice a month to give me a morning to do whatever.  Right now I’m having a sweet young lady come once a week so I can pay bills, blog, run errands, etc…without kids.  This is a luxury.  I know it’s a luxury.

I’ve had a cleaning lady at times.

Even though I’m homeschooling Jackson, we typically only school 4 days a week.

We eat pizza once a week.

My kids eat PB & J for lunch AT LEAST 3 times a week.

My husband gives the kids a bath every night and that’s my downtime to go for a walk or do the dishes (those are far ends of the spectrum in terms of enjoyment).

When my husband travels, I’ve been known to feed my kids drive-thru Wendy’s and mac n cheese for DAYS.

I’m not doing it all.


All of us mothers are in different boats, too … financially… the role of our extended family…or even the time our husband is home v. at work (or single moms HOW DO YOU DO THIS?).   When I start looking around I start thinking I’m not doing enough and that’s when the mom guilt and the stress builds.

For instance:  I know a friend that watches cartoons with her kids and I AM JEALOUS OF HER.  When my kids are in front of the TV, I can’t sit still. I’m like a little child hyped up on Red #5 KoolAid.  But I want to take the moments with my kids. I want to look them in the eyes more instead of being Miss Productivity.

I want to do my computer work before they wake and after they go to bed so they don’t see me tied to it.

I want to spend less time griping at them when the day isn’t going as planned and it’s 2:30 and we haven’t even started school.

I want to not be doing the dishes at 8:40 pm (can I get an AMEN?)


I’m not looking to cut-throat motherhood, I’m looking to do-your-best-and-live-to-tell-about-it motherhood.

So do what works for your family.  Hire a cleaning lady if you need to.  Take time to rest if you can.  You don’t have to do it all, you just have to do something.

Keep looking forward, mama.  No time for looking around– unless you’re looking into those big eyes of your little ones. 🙂

Fall Bucket List

Summer is unofficially OVER.

How I feel:



Nah, summer AND fall are my favorite, so I’m not too sad to see the heat and humidity go bye-bye.

However, in the spirit of seizing the season (Carpe diem!) – here is my Fall Bucket List!

Fall Bucket List 2016 - free printable Fall Bucket List

Any of these on your to-do list for fall?  What’s your favorite thing about the change in season?  I’m a sucker for some fall foliage.  

Looking for things to specifically do in OHIO?  Check out my list of Things to do in Ohio in Fall!

Weekend reading- July 23, 2016

Happy Saturday, friends.  How is July almost over?   I’m actually enjoying the heat because soon we’ll be in a pile of white and full of cabin fever (and crankiness) – oh, is that just me?

We’ve had a week of firsts- last Saturday was our first family movie, and last night was our first family baseball game (pictured below).  We’re crossing more things off of that Summer Bucket List and not letting the sunny days pass us by!  What have you been up to?

Here are my favorite links from the past week:


Neuroscientists say multitasking literally drains the energy reserves of your brain– well that explains my everyday life!

A Mama Fesses Up via Coffee + Crumbs


Catch the Olympic Spirit: Visiting Olympic Sites and Centers in the USA via Suitcases and Sippycups

A simple rule for traveling {and life} with kids  via Life Your Way


How I earned over $600 Hustling Craigslist “Gigs” via  Budgets are Sexy


Have a great weekend!

Update on New Years’ goals

2016 goals and aspirations- UPDATE


How are we halfway through the year?  It’s crazy how quickly that happens.  I’m not gearing up for Christmas yet (Hobby Lobby is, but I did want to review how I’m doing on my New Year’s Resolution. I could probably do better, but the fact that I’m still talking about my January goals in July is better than most Americans!


Run the Blackhand Gorge 10k trail run in August (I ran the 5k in 2015)-  I may have a heart attack, but I’m still planning to do this.  My training has been less than stellar (i.e. virtually nonexistant).

Eat one fruit and one vegetable everyday (It’s that bad.  Why aren’t M & Ms a fruit?!?)- I’m totally doing this.  I’ve been eating a lot of homemade salads.  And everyone knows that homemade salads really stink unless they include hard-boiled eggs and some bacon.  Waa. 

Rest.  Like really rest.  Nap without guilt.  Take a day off  from cleaning.  Repeat.  Read a book and lay down. – I’ve been doing so well!  Probably 3 days a week I get a 20 minute nap.  It’s just what I need to get me through the afternoon.



Implement things I am learning in Boundaries with Kids-  I think I better go back and reread this.  Summer is hard.  I don’t do well without a routine and it’s hard to have a routine when there are neighbors and house projects and travel.  We’re starting back to a partial homeschool days this week (Godblessuseveryone) and we shall see if that makes a difference.

Read to the kids during daylight hours (we read a lot before bed, but incorporate this more into the daytime)I realized this was majorly lacking so we took a long trip to the library last week.  The oldest and I are starting a chapter book today.


One date night/month- We’re doing really well at this.  We’ve even been away for two nights (once in March and once in June) without kids.  Maybe our goal should be one night AWAY per quarter.

Make Brian’s lunch once per week (ok, I know that sounds simple, but I know it’s a way I can serve him and make his mornings easier)- I’ve done this maybe once every two weeks.  I AM A SLACKER.  



Romans 12:12 says we (Christians) are to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  My goal for this year is to live that out.  Exude joy.  Have more patience (yikes!).  Be faithful in prayer.  If I say I will pray for something, really PRAY for it  (you do it, too).

I don’t think anyone can ever “arrive” on either of these items.  Have I been more intentional with the words that come out of my mouth?  Definitely.  Have I still failed about a gazillion times?  Oh yes.  Thankful for His grace, and the grace of my husband and kids.  



Continue funding Roth IRAs and 529s- We’re doing this!

Buy a flip/investment house- We looked at a few in the spring but haven’t found the right one.  For our first investment we want something that doesn’t require too much of an overhaul, but it also has to be in an okay neighborhood, and in our price range.  Specific at all?  Finding this combination has been tricky but we’re still in the game. 🙂



We’re slowly marking things off our of 2016 Travel Plans.  Our most recent visit was Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but in the meantime we’ve been working on our Summer Bucket List.


How are you doing on your yearly goals?  Do you make goals?  What’s been the hardest one?


Summer Bucket List

The unofficial beginning of summer is only 2 weeks away!  Our family counts Memorial Day weekend as the kick-off to our Summer Bucket List even if the calendar tells me that summer isn’t until June 20.

First, I asked the boys what they thought they would like to do this summer.  They were very excited to offer up “go to the playground” and “the pool!” (if this doesn’t show the simplicity of young children, #idontknowwhatdoes).   Then I wrote out a few of my own ideas, although I am questioning my thought process behind camp in a tent?!  I never really liked tent camping BEFORE kids…we haven’t tried it yet WITH.  The memories created are what is key here!

bucket list with logo

After a long Ohio winter, and a WET spring, we’re excited to get out and explore this summer.  I like to make a Bucket List for each season.  Whether we stick to it or not, it encourages me to think outside of the box when it comes to our daily activities – i.e. we have to try to do more than sitting on the porch with the neighbors, even if it is our favorite summer hobby.

What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

Here’s a free printable copy of the list (minus my website name).

You can check out my Fall 2015 Bucket List HERE.

Or my 2016 Travel Plans List HERE.

Can you tell I like lists? 😉