Three things Wednesday

I’m always trying to keep it real here on the blog so I thought I would share three real things about my Wednesday.


1. Today I had to go to the district science fair representing my school.  Our school had eight kids there, six of which were my students.  I’ve never been to the district fair before (although I’d gone a few times when I was in school a million years ago) and I had no idea what to expect.  I was hoping to give support to my students but as soon as they were allowed into the gym with their projects I was ushered to a room where the other teachers were and told that I could see them after judging was over, around 11:30am.  Ah well.  While I was there I totally got sucked into the Panera bagels and Dunkin’ Donuts doughnut holes.  Lunch was a 6in. Firehouse turkey sub, chips and more doughnut holes.  So much for being strong and staying Paleo today.

2. Science fair ended and I was out of there before noon.  I went to the outlet mall to run an errand and I’m now blogging from my table in a mismatched outfit of sweatpants that my sister-in-law Amy got me for Christmas two years ago, a white tank, a purple long sleeved cardigan and multicolor striped toe socks.

3. There are roughly a million other things that I could be doing with my afternoon including organizing, cleaning, going to CrossFit because the girl I tutor cancelled for this afternoon (see #1 for even more reason that I should do this one), pick up Harper and spend some sweet girl time with her, or cuddle with Auggie.  Instead, I think I am going to be selfish and enjoy the house to myself for the next few hours before the crazy evening ritual begins.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even take a nap.  Why not?  We all need a little time to ourselves, right?

What are some things that you did today?  Were you able to get some time to yourself?


Thirty-Onderful Thursdays: The bag that started it all

Welcome to a new series that I’m starting on my blog called Thirty-Onderful Thursdays!

Thirty-Onederful Thursday

Each Thursday I’ll do some kind of spotlight on Thirty-One Gifts, a faith-based direct selling company that specializes in trendy and affordable purses, totes, bags and accessories.  These spotlights will include posts ranging from my favorite bags and organizing products to customer spotlights to Thirty-One for the man in your life.  In today’s Thirty-Onderful Thursday post I’m going to tell you about how I got started with Thirty-One.  My “why”, if you will.

A year and a half ago Amy, my sister-in-law, bought me my first Thirty-One bag for my birthday in July. I knew that Amy’s sister was a consultant and I’d seen the cute lunch boxes around school but I’d never actually seen a catalog or gone to a home party.


I loved the bag that Amy bought me!  The pattern was bright and cheery and is still one of my favorite patterns. If I’m being honest, though, I didn’t use the bag all that much over the summer and the following fall.  It kinda sat in my closet and I didn’t think about it or Thirty-One for another five or six months.  (NOTE:  Now I use the bag every day as my school bag and I LOVE all of the room I have in it!)

Fast forward  to November and Amy bought a Thirty-One product for Harper around Thanksgiving.  It was the cutest lunch box! I loved the pattern and the lunchbox was the perfect size for the what we packed for Harper’s lunch each day.  I still hadn’t seen a catalog, still hadn’t been to a home party and put Thirty-One out of my head for another month.

Fast forward to Christmas and Amy brought me one of her sister’s catalogs.  I sat down one afternoon while Harper was taking a nap and made a list of all the products that I wanted.  It was an obscene list that was nearly a page long and totaled over $500!  Ha!  Obviously that wasn’t happening!  Then I turned to the back of the catalog and saw the $99 enrollment kit.  I compared the products to my list and saw that nearly everything that I wanted was in the kit and I would save a ton of money if I just purchased the enrollment kit.  That got me thinking.

At the same time I was looking at the catalog, loving the products and the 25% consultant discount, I was also talking with Carl about starting a pre-paid college plan for Harper.  We had just refinanced our home and were saving over $300/month.  I was so excited about watching our savings account grow when we realized that the pre-paid college plan would eat up nearly the exact amount we were looking to save from our re-fi.  My heart sank a little when I realized that we’d be financially in exactly in the same place that we were in already.  Good-bye big savings!  Good-bye family trips!  Good-bye damn credit card debt!

I started thinking about Thirty-One again.  I read the income disclosure and saw that I would earn 25% from my parties.  I knew that while I probably wouldn’t be a top consultant, Thirty-One would be a way to bring in some extra income, help offset the cost of Harper’s college and put us in a better place financially.  Carl and I talked about it more and I decided to join the Thirty-One family.

I have to admit that I didn’t make a whole lot of money in my first year but I met some amazing women and watched my confidence and my relationship with God grow.  I just celebrated my one year anniversary with the company and I am really excited for the changes that I’m already putting into place to help grow my business.   I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings for our family and my business!

Just think, it all started with a bag and a dream.

Are you involved with a direct selling company?  If so, which one?

Can you imagine yourself joining a direct selling company?

Finding joy: the “rules”

When Harper woke up in a cheery mood today I knew it was going to be a good day.

Side note: I’ve found that Harper’s mood sometimes sets the mood for our family.  When she’s happy, we’re happy.  When she’s grumpy, we’re grumpy.  Then we spend the next bit trying to de-grump and have fun, which usually requires us getting out of the house and doing something fun (like going to the park or running errands).  I wish that wasn’t the case but more often than not, it is.  I’m definitely not someone who is going to tell you that our life, especially when it comes to parenting, is rainbows and sunshine.  Welcome to the truth my friends!

I made scones for breakfast, enjoyed Sesame Street on Netflix and then attempted to put Harper down for her morning nap before we left to celebrate Jayce’s first birthday.  Harper’s nap didn’t happen so we decided to just get out of the house (see side note above) and drive.  Within 10 minutes of leaving Harper was passed out (praise Jesus!) and Carl and I spent the rest of the car ride talking about the day when we’d eventually have enough money to buy the house of our dreams WITHOUT ever having to pay damn PMI.  Okay maybe not the house of our dreams, but what we’d like to move into within the next 1-2 years:  a house on 1/4 acre, three bedrooms + office + playroom, two car garage, open floor plan for the kitchen/living room/dining room, doesn’t need too much work, has rooms that are a good size, and costs between $125,000 and $150,000.  Yeah, stop laughing.

In my last post I shared our family word of the year, joy.  As we were driving and chatting, I realized that I wanted to actively seek out joy today.  That’s where I came up with the “rules”.  Obviously these aren’t really rules but a way for me to keep track of how these awesome moments of joy deserve to be celebrated.

Rule 1: Never pass by a park without playing.






On our way home from Jayce’s party we passed a street that Carl wanted to check out.  It’s by a creek and a friend of his told him that there was a place that he could put his kayak in.  It was a completely spur of the moment stop, and if I’m being honest one I’d usually blow off, since we’d left the party because Harper said she wanted to take a nap.  The split second decision that I made turned out to be so much fun because we found a park!  As we pulled around the little circle drive, Harper saw the park with its slides, swings, and giant open space and said, “PLAY!”.  So we did.  What was neat about the park is that there were a few trails that went back to the creek that Carl was looking for and it was just beautiful.  I’m so glad that we stopped and enjoyed some time playing out in nature today!

Rule 2: Always have a travel potty in the car.  Always.


Two weeks ago Harper decided that she wanted to start potty training.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Harper decided, not us.  We’d bought a potty chair, a children’s book, panties and had been talking about going potty “like a big girl” for a few months now, but we didn’t have an official start date.   Apparently Harper did.  Harper decided she was ready to quit using diapers (she pulled off her shorts, pulled at her diaper, and said “panties!”) and our adventure began!  The first week was rough (I swear I’ve never done so much laundry in my life, not even when she was first born!) and Ms. Luz is still dealing with the poop accidents during the day (bless that woman!), but Harper is doing so well telling us that she has to go to the bathroom.  I wasn’t taking any chances while we were out, though, and went ahead and purchased a travel potty.  Best. Purchase. Ever.

Rule 3:  Celebrate birthdays!  Happy birthday, Jayce!


Today we took the time to celebrate Jayce’s birthday!  We don’t celebrate birthdays nearly enough so I’m really glad that we made Jayce’s birthday a priority.  It was so nice to connect with our friends and get our kids together to play and I’m looking forward to playing more often!

Rule 4: Eat milkshakes.  Maybe not every day, but some days just deserve a milkshake.


Is there really anything else to say about how it’s okay to indulge every once in a while?  I didn’t think so.  Just do it!

Rule 5: Keep the fridge packed with healthy food options to make great meals for the week.  Bonus was shopping after 8pm and having Publix almost completely to myself.


While this is nothing compared to what our fridge looks like after a trip to Costco, it was so nice to get the grocery shopping for the week finished before Sunday!  It was a little after 8pm before I decided to go to Publix and I’m so glad that I did because now the shopping is FINISHED and there was hardly anyone at the store.  Bonus!

I know that not every day will be filled with this many joyful things, but it was certainly nice to acknowledge them today.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Where did you find joy today? 

What would your “rules” be for finding joy?

2014 word of the year

I know lots of people talk about having a word of the year to focus on; a word to remember and think about when life gets a little rough or to celebrate when life is awesome.

My friend Hilary chose fun which is such a great way to make sure that life isn’t taken too seriously all the time.  My friends Lindsay and Kristin decided to do a word of the month, which I think is brilliant!  What a great way to incorporate so many different aspects of positive thinking throughout the year.

A few weeks ago I was shopping at Publix and decided to treat myself with a SweetLeaf tea.  I love their Mint and Honey tea and even more so, I love the little “Grannyisms” that they have under the bottle cap. That day I opened the bottle and found the best phrase.  


Love.  It totally made my heart sing and I wanted to write it everywhere.

There are lots of different things going on in our lives right now and it’s really easy to get caught up in and focus on the not so great things.  So in an effort to focus on the good in our lives Carl and I talked a little bit about what we wanted to accomplish this year (Yes, I realize it’s January 9th…) and the theme that seemed to keep popping up was to “live like our daughter” and find joy in even the simple and mundane things.  And with that our family word of the year was born.



it’s such a simple word yet has so much meaning, if you really think about it.  I feel like the word encompasses so many different aspects of life and makes it easy to think back on the day to see where there was joy present.  Even the worst day has joy-filled moments.

This morning I found joy in a few sweet moments with Harper as we got ready for the day and shared breakfast.  I found joy watching Harper’s face light up as “Daddy!” came down stairs.  I found joy teaching my students today and seeing them make connections between the content we are starting and content they learned in 6th grade. 

Today was far from a “perfect” day, but there were many moments that were filled with joy to focus on instead of thinking about all of the things that weren’t so great about today.


Amen!  (and a special thanks to Hil for posting this little quote on IG the other day!)

Where did you find joy today?

What do you think about focus words?  What is yours?

“but God…”

Tonight has been a difficult night.  We have a lot of changes going on in the Unsweet Tea household and for some reason I’m really feeling the brunt of them tonight.  Between hearing some not so great medical news about Gramps, adopting a sweet new pup who has his own medical issues and potty training Harper (who is also going through a bit of a sleep regression on top of it) I’m just feeling a little bit like a wet dish rag.  Spent. 

Last night I discovered a new blog my friend Lindsay told me about called The Lipstick Gospel so I added it to my Feedly (does anyone else miss google reader?!) and came across this post that absolutely spoke to me.  So much so that I emailed it to my mom to read with the hopes that she will also find some comfort in it, too. 

Life is brutally hard sometimes.

But when we open ourselves up to trusting and following God—especially when it’s the hardest and makes the littlest sense—God will transform that suffering into something that could change the world.

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  

I realize that the things that are going on in my life are nothing compared to what some others are dealing with right now.  But that doesn’t change the fact that God has brought me to this place to transform me.  Instead of saying “but God…” I will open myself up to see and learn the lesson that He has for me.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t cry, scream, and stomp my foot at some point (and I wonder where Harper gets her tantrums from?) but it does mean that I will have faith that there is something bigger than me at work.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Thirteen things I learned in 2013


As a teacher I am always asking my students to reflect on their work, to think about what they did well, what they could have improved on and what they could do to be more successful in the future.  With the new year still bright and shiny I thought it was time to reflect on the past year kinda in the same way.  So here, in no particular order, are thirteen things I learned in 2013.

1. I am stronger than I think.  Mentally, physically and emotionally.  This doesn’t mean that I always react the way that I should at any given moment in a particular situation but when I stop, put my big girl panties on and really get to the heart of the matter I am able to get “it” done.  That includes my 105 pound back squat PR in CrossFit.  Thankyouverymuch.

2. Family is incredibly important to me.  I am thankful that Carl and I have our own little lives with Harper (and now Auggie!) but this year I realized how important our family that lives a little farther south really is.  Whether it’s talking to my mom on the phone every day on my way home from work, sending text messages to my new sister-in-law, skyping with my gramps, facetime with Carl’s dad – all of it is important.

3. I spend way too much time on social media.  Yes, I realize the irony that I’m talking about social media as I’m writing this blog post.  However, I get far more out of blogging than I do from checking facebook and instagram 100 times to see what so and so is doing or who has made a comment on a picture that I’ve posted.

4. I enjoy cooking healthy meals far more than I enjoy eating junk food.  While Carl is the primary chef in our household (man has a knack for making some amazing sauces!), I really enjoy getting in the kitchen and cooking.  It’s even more fun now that Harper has started to help us prep food, too.  Girl loves to stir and mix and “Cook!”.  I have a feeling there will be lots of time with all of us in the kitchen this year!

5. I enjoy picnics and spending time outside.  When Carl and I first started dating we spent a lot of time outdoors.  We didn’t really camp, but we were always exploring this state park or that little town.  The last month we’ve spent lots of time on the road and instead of eating lunch out at restaurants, we’ve been packing a lunch and eating at the picnic spots at rest areas.  This not only helps us save money but it gives us a chance to break up the drive and stretch our legs and Harper can run around.  Perfect.

6. I love Thirty-One.  Thirty-One is a direct selling company that I started with one year ago today!  I am not the best consultant out there, but I’ve made enough to help us start a pre-paid college fund for Harper and I’m very proud (and thankful!) for that!

7. Organizing makes me happy.  I know it sounds crazy but I notice that when my life feels like it’s out of control, I can feel instantly better by putting away clothes, straightening up the living room, sorting mail, etc.  I have an obscene amount of baskets and bins in my house and Carl totally makes fun of me for it.  I think this is why Thirty-One is such a great fit for me.  Cute organizing products?  Sign me up!

8. There is nothing better than the sound of my daughter’s laughter. Harper is a pretty serious little girl who knows what she wants when she wants it (I wonder where she gets that from?!). She was three months old when she first laughed (although she started smiling a lot earlier) and then she didn’t do it again for another two months!  The sound of her laughter is much more frequent now, but something about it just makes my soul smile.

9. I have the most amazing husband. Ever. God truly blessed me with an amazing partner.  He is so patient and kind and knows just what to say when I’m having a moment (or two…) or just need a hug.  He is amazing.

10. I am not very good at balancing things in my life.  I have no understanding of what it means to have balance.  At all.  I have a very “all or nothing” personality and I hope that one day I will learn to be a little more “in the middle”.

11. I love decorating.  I love making little banners and printables for different holidays or events.  I love looking at our house and seeing how I can re-purpose something or move something to a new space to open up a room.  Again, I think this is why I love Thirty-One.

12. For the first time in 10 years, I’m considering a career outside of education.  The thought of making a career change terrifies me, but I’ve honestly wondered what else I would do if I didn’t teach.  I don’t want to go back to school, so I’m pretty limited, but maybe it’s time to look into curriculum development, working for the IB organization, or even CASIE.  If money was no object I would do something with photography, graphic design or even actually learn how to sew and open an etsy shop.  

13. I want to go back to church.  I know organized religion isn’t for everyone, but I definitely miss hearing a Message, Praise and Worship and just feeling the presence of God with so many people.  Daily doses of Christian music just isn’t cutting it any more.  I also know that it’s only through God’s grace that I have this list at all and I think it’s time for me to get back to glorifying Him through my life.

Whew!  That’s some list!

What are some things that you learned in 2013?

Family pictures at the Fort

Back in October we had our family photos done by the amazingly talented Dawn of Daybreak Studios at the Fort.  It was a beautiful, crisp fall morning just perfect for pictures.  Harper wasn’t in the best mood so I was a little nervous, but Dawn did such an awesome job working with us and still managed to capture some beautiful shots of our family.

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I feel like this picture perfectly captures Harper’s mood during the session, lol!

I can’t wait to have her do our family pictures again next year!