We are Josh, Mandy, Conner and Kara- an American family determined to experience life not just float through it. We gave up the rat race so that we could take charge of our life by focusing on our passions so that we live remarkably and chase our wildest dreams free from all unneeded constraints. We strive to live authentically, embracing the things we are good at and learning things that are unknown to us. The world is too big and life is too short to sit still or get caught on a path you are not happy with. This is our life, our adventure, our cup. And here is how we fill it up.

acupful of carters family blog

Welcome to ACupful.

Hi, I am Mandy Carter.

I am 33 years old and I decided that my life was built around the wrong ideal. I was chasing the wrong dream, the dream I was taught to have. I have started a journey to live authentically. While on this journey, I want to inspire you to choose to live the life you want. By sharing my REAL life, imperfect story on how I have decided to forgo the norm of working to live and incorporate work into a life of adventure, family time, fitness and joy.

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I spent my entire life working towards having the American Dream: a successful career, beautiful home, nice car, and healthy family. I obtained this a few years ago and yet never felt fully satisfied. So I kept striving for more achievements. I worked harder with each year passed, put in more time each week and kept knocking out goals.

It turns out working 60 hours a week for someone else’s dream while missing out on my children’s milestones and not getting any quality time with my husband is not so dreamy after all. So I created my own biz! I am now a freelance writer, editor, marketer and speaker. And I LOVE every minute.

You can now find my monthly column in the Lee Family News. I am the Digital Content & Engagement Editor for TOTI Media, a magazine Publisher in SWFL. I am speaking at the TBEX conference in May. And I am a contributing writer for a number of family travel websites.


But I did what many do, pushed aside my feeling of discontent and refocused to get ahead. Then one day IT happened. Everything I had worked so hard for ended because my employer decided that I did not fit in with the culture of the organization. All my long hours, extra work and missed time with my family was just written off like a bad tv show. However, IT turned out to be the worst and best day of my life. —->Worst day because I was unexpectedly terminated for no reason from a job I loved, worked hard to earn, put in a lot of extra work for and financially needed. Best day because this heartbreaking moment gave me the slap in the face that I needed to truly evaluate my life and what I was doing to be happy.


And I read  A LOT of inspirational and career articles during my month of self-evaluation. I came to the conclusion that I want my life back. I was exhausted from the rat race and I decided to choose that cliche road less traveled, hoping it would make all the difference. And I am happy to report that it already has!

Acupful  began as a way to track all our family adventures with the hope to use it to inspire and meet others in the same crossroads. I chose Acupful because when I think of a cup I think about what I am going to put in it. I literally fill my coffee cup up daily with caffeine to get energized and focused (plus it tastes good).  Figuratively I want to fill my “life” cup up with moments that I enjoy.


I want to seek out what makes me really happy and live each day with no regrets. And I want to create a place where others feel comfortable talking about their real dreams. I believe that honesty and transparency yields the best rewards. So I will share my moments openly in hopes they strike a chord with someone going through a similar situation. And all the neat things that come our way in the process will be shared here as well, because any day is a good day to learn something new!

We all have the same outcome of life. But it’s how we fill our cups that will make all the difference in the journey!

So, grab your cup and join me in filling it up with the things that matter most to you!


And now it is time to meet the hubby… my best friend … my love.

Hi, I’m Josh Carter.I am 34 and I hope there is more to life than working to pay bills. My wife talked me into risking all we know for a life of more happiness.  I am with her all the way no matter what. So here goes…dreams of truly enjoying the moments are on the horizon. If I can save you from living the life I lived from my 20’s through my early 30’s than I will be happy.


My life has consisted of every day commutes back and forth from school/work most of the time it was both at the same time. A life where being a salary worker just meant you get to stay extra longer, and you may or may not get paid on time. At first you think nothing of it. It starts with loosing silly things like your weekends. Then they push into your holidays, not to mention it’s an unspoken rule that you must be reachable on vacation. The next thing you know your wife is in the labor room with contractions about 5min apart and you are still typing away on your laptop getting work done and receiving phone calls from work all while trying to be a good husband. By the way that’s impossible, just personal experience talking. Also you never live that down.


Work didn’t get much better for me, but it did offer an opportunity about a year later of working from home. I never had any intention of working from home or taking care of kids. I was perfectly happy being a minion that was there from 8am to 7 or 8pm or possibly longer if necessary to get the work done. It wasn’t until I saw some massive changes and some major hard ships coming for the company that I took a pay cut and became a work from home dad. I’ll be honest; I didn’t love it at first, because I was trained from a very early age to be a “daddy” whom goes to work all day. Not one that expects dinner when he gets home, but one that is expected to be at work, not working from home, but even a hardened minion can learn to live and thrive in the life style of working from home. Working from home has given me countless hours….. good or bad with my little monsters that I wouldn’t take back. It has also given me perspective on what is important in this game we call life that we don’t get a reset button for.


So, what have I learned from 17yrs of working in a job that doesn’t fulfill my passions (5 of those years were at least working from home). I found out its not worth it to be a minion to society. The rat race for an average American is not set up to truly appreciate or compensate one their time-which by the way is a person’s most valued treasure. I found out that no matter what I did yesterday or the years before, TODAY is all corporate will ever care about. I have found that time is by far my most valuable asset that I cannot buy, barter, or steal back. I realized that I had pushed aside my passion for health and fitness so that I could climb an invisible ladder that turns out to lead to a life I do not admire.  And somehow during all these years I forgot how much I enjoy creating art in any medium, and that I’m damn good at it!


So, I am raising my new cup. And I plan to fill this cup with more of the stuff I’m passionate about (plus rum – since our St. Croix trip I have a new love for Cruzan Rum) so that the next 15 years can be more satisfying.

and on to the stars of the adventures we seek…

Acupful: family travel blog | family travel tips from real life adventures with kids | Mandy Carter | acupful.om | travel blogger

This is Conner, our 5-year-old who refers to himself as the artist.

He loves to draw, do crafts and he has never met a pool he didn’t like.

Acupful: family travel blog | family travel tips from real life adventures with kids | Mandy Carter | acupful.om | travel blogger

His ideal vacation includes a botanical garden, a kids museum and a hotel with a big pool. Seeing things from his perspective is enlightening because he sees the tiny details in everything. He points out color in a room of darkness. If he knows that ice cream is waiting at the end of a day he will rally through just about anything.  And he loves being a big brother….

Meet Kara,

the sassy but sweet three-year-old with a contagious laugh!

Acupful: family travel blog | family travel tips from real life adventures with kids | Mandy Carter | acupful.om | travel blogger

She adds loudness and sugar to our adventures. She enjoys music and sugar. Her ideal vacation includes a playground, a splash pad, shopping, and a big hotel room.  She can turn a dull moment into a party.


This is us. Our cup. We are Acupful of Carters.