Summer in Pensacola – Part 1

Despite the dark clouds over my early days in Pensacola, there were a few silver linings I want to remember.

Grace’s 7th birthday was the day after we arrived, and she didn’t let our less-than-ideal circumstances keep her from enjoying her special day.  I was particularly impressed with her optimism, because she’s the kind of girl who, immediately after one birthday, starts planning the gifts and theme for the next one! LOL

We talked about the things that would make her feel special on her birthday and came up with hotel continental breakfast, swimming at the beach, Subway for lunch, opening presents, pizza for dinner and frosted angel food cake and ice cream for dessert :)

Nothing like dry bagels and sugar cereal to start the day! LOL

The beach behind the Navy Hotel is on a bay.  The water isn’t very pretty but the kids still had fun swimming and playing in the sand.

She received a bunch of fun gifts and really appreciated all of them.  I thought it was adorable that she wanted a binder and a full-sized spiral notebook.  She really enjoys writing about her life and I’m hoping we can keep track of these early notebooks for her to read later :)

Andy found a fun pizza place called Ozone and it was super funky and delicious! It’s in an old school building and the dining rooms are tucked in various rooms along big marble school hallways.  They display a bunch of local art, have micro brews on tap, and serve up a delicious pizza!  It’s fun to explore new restaurants when you move around like we do, and this one was a real winner!

After dinner we made our way back “home” to the hotel where we sang to Grace and enjoyed her frosted angel food cake and ice cream.  It may have been different than our usual birthday celebrations, but it was a fun and special day nonetheless :)

The next day was the 4th of July, and Dr. Gould scouted out a free local festival for us to attend and it really helped me see the wonderful side of Pensacola.  We had so much fun that day!

Free pony rides!

Free face painting! Cold slushies!

Sweaty smiling selfies!

Super dad :)

Avery met a “real” live mermaid!

A Spiderman sighting!

I REALLY love outdoor festivals and cold beer, so I sent this funny video clip to my mom and my sister :)

Fun was had by all as evidenced by the ride home!

Getting out of the hotel was my saving grace. Andy was fantastic about getting us into the car and out on the road to explore. One particularly grumpy afternoon, we decided to follow Gulf Beach Highway along the coast and into Alabama.

We explored a shopping area called The Warf, but for whatever reason, most of the shops were closed.  I did manage to snap a few adorable pics of the kids though :)

Orange Beach, AL is a tourist hot spot so we figured it would be a good place to have dinner. We googled and yelped and after a LONG time decided on a place called Cosmo’s. We wanted a restaurant we could all enjoy and the kids sometimes make that challenging.

Cosmo’s was a winner though! They had cool art all over and it was all dog themed which Grace LOVED. The kids menu had something for everyone and I thoroughly enjoyed my cold pinot grigio and scrumptious ahi tuna salad.

We passed an adorable ice cream shop on our way home and pulled over for a sweet night cap!

By that point we were all STUFFED so we pulled over to take a walk along the beach before heading home.  It was a special ending to a really lovely outing :)

Our Favorite Black Bean Soup

If I had to pick one healthy dinner that my whole family loves, it would be this black bean soup!

Rich, hearty, and delicious, this bean soup is chock full of healthy ingredients too!

  • Beans are a good source of vegetarian protein
  • Bell peppers are rich in Vitamins C, A, and B6 as well as antioxidants
  • Garlic is high in a sulfur compound called Allicin which provides a range of health benefits
  • Onions are rich in biotin, manganese, and copper

But beside all that….this soup is just plain delicious.  I love to top my bowl with chunks of creamy avocado, crisp green onion, fresh cilantro, and crunchy tortilla chips.  The kids like theirs with cheese and sour cream :)

Since this recipe includes veggies and protein, I don’t even make a side dish!  Putting a bowl of chips and salsa on the table would be a nice addition, or you could serve it with cheese quesadilla wedges.

No matter how you choose to dish it up, just make sure you do! :)

Our Favorite Black Bean Soup
Recipe type: Main Dish/Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 dinner servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 whole bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock (plus a splash of water depending on how thick you like your soup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1½ teaspoon Cumin
  • TOPPINGS (optional)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Sliced green onion
  • Pickled jalapeño peppers
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add diced onion and saute till tender (about 5-6 min). Add bell peppers and saute another 5-7 min. Next, add minced fresh garlic and stir consistently for 1 min to prevent burning. Add salt, chili powder, and cumin and stir well to combine. Add chicken broth (plus optional water) and black beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 min.
  2. Serve soup in a bowl with desired fixin's and enjoy!



Coming To Grips

As I mentioned in my last post, I took a while to warm up to Pensacola.  In hindsight, I think my early weeks here were spent moving through the stages of grief.

Research suggests there are 5 stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I think I experienced stages 2-5 during our lengthy stay at the Navy Lodge when we first arrived in Pensacola. LOL

But seriously.

Our move from Michigan to Maryland was emotionally exhausting.  Leaving our friends, family, neighborhood, and church was really hard for me.  I shed tears, but I also dug into my reserve strength and pushed through.  I survived the packing, moving, and unpacking, while Andy was away at officer training.  I did my best to acclimate to life in Maryland and, while often lonely, I did come to appreciate living there.  Just about a year into our time there, it really began to feel like home.

Then we moved.

One interesting thing about living in Maryland was even though it was a military move, and Andy was working at a military hospital, and the bulk of my friends were military spouses, it didn’t really feel like the military.

I didn’t feel like a Navy wife.  I felt like the wife of a new doctor who just happened to move away from home for residency.

I was in denial. (stage one of grief)

Denial that our life was not our own.  Denial that the Navy would be calling all the shots for the next decade (or more). Denial that I wasn’t going to be moving “home” to family and friends after a little while. Denial that I was a Navy wife probably more than I was even a doctor’s wife.

Well, I’ll tell you what will drag your sorry behind back to reality after being in denial…


For me that came in the form of another PCS move (Permanent Change of Station). A move to an actual military town (Pensacola is a military hot spot SO much more than Bethesda, MD) and a month of living on an actual military base.  Going to Walmart and counting on two hands the number of people I saw in uniform.  Flashing my military ID to get on base, to get into the pool, to get a discount at the local restaurant.

When you first move to a new city, you don’t know where anything is.  Your GPS might as well be an oxygen tank.  Almost all of your mental energy is spent figuring out where you live.  Taking in all the sites and creating a framework that defines your new (temporary) home.  You find the familiar stores, you try new restaurants, you learn where the nice neighborhoods are and conversely where the sketchy parts of town begin and end.  You look at all of the people around you to try to figure out the culture of this new place.  Are they like me?  Can I relate to them?  Could we be friends?  What do I learn about this place by watching them?

We had to stay in the Navy Lodge hotel for three and a half weeks while we waited for our rental house to become available.  As I mentioned before, that was really difficult for me.  On top of extended hotel living, it was about 100* with crazy humidity every single day.  The day after arriving here and NOT liking what I initially experienced, we drove through our neighborhood and past our new home and everything was underwhelming.  Unlike Maryland and Michigan with their lush landscapes and mature trees, our new digs were dry, sandy, craggily, and just generally foreign to me.

I decided right then that I hated it here.  I didn’t want the movers to unload my stuff.  I wanted to rewind time and never join the Navy so I could be right back in my cozy Michigan bungalow surrounded by my family and friends.  And beautiful old trees.

Too bad they haven’t figured out time travel yet LOL

FORTUNATELY they haven’t figured out time travel yet, because it turns out you need to spend some time in a place to really understand it.  To explore the beautiful parts and the fun parts and to allow it to become familiar, and to meet new friends.  It turns out that was just around the corner for me.

After weeks of anger that we signed up for this crazy life, bargaining in my mind with God about all the things that could have been and how wonderful life would have been if not for this unpleasant situation, and depression that I was stuck in this always-changing, constantly unpredictable life, I came to stage five: acceptance.

I can’t tell you exactly how I arrived at acceptance…well, other than by the grace of God.

Anger had eaten me up and made me yell at my kids and stonewall my husband.  Bargaining had exhausted me and ushered me right into the hands of depression.  Depression threatened to pull me under and suffocate every last bit of meaning and purpose from my life.

But God in his abundant mercy wasn’t going to let that happen to his girl.  He drew near to me when I was brokenhearted.  He comforted me.  He brought fun and friendship right to my doorstep when I needed it most.  He was the light at the end of my tunnel.

I’m sitting here trying to remember what I “did” to get to the place where God turned things around and I’m realizing how foolish and arrogant that line of thinking is.

I didn’t do anything.  I was a pouty, negative, crybaby the whole time.

We don’t do the right things (pray, bible study, meditate, etc) to get God to move!  He moves because He loves us.  He moves because He’s good and sovereign and sees so much more than we do.

He also moves in His own time which is almost 100% of the time much slower than we would prefer.  The waiting is always excruciatingly long!

But, you know what?  I think the excruciating wait is God’s mercy.  That “space between” where we are desperate and humble is such a catalyst to surrender.  It’s a spot we independent humans don’t like to be, but it’s magical when we get there because it turns out that spot is the cozy crook of our loving father’s arms.

What better place to be than there?

Pensacola may have started sad, but it’s become really great.

Stay tuned for more of our summer adventures :)

Resuscitating The Blog

It’s time to bring back the blog.

I’ve really missed my little corner of the internet.

After spending time vlogging, selling Lipstick, and mulling over 101 other ideas, I’ve had an ache to write again.

To document our family journey, share ideas, work through my faith, and post recipes I love.

Andy recently bought an AppleTV and hooked it up to the TV in our bedroom.  One night the kids piled into my bed and we scrolled through hundreds of old photos.  It was amazing.

I cannot tell you how much I was encouraged by looking through years of our life in photos.  It made me step back out of the forest and clear my eyes of all the trees so I could really see my life.

What I saw was good.

It was sweet and precious and happy.

I spend so much time worrying about doing it all wrong.  I constantly analyze and criticize my performance as a wife, a mother, and a woman.  This leaves me tired and discouraged.  I’m always reading another book or article or blog post about parenting and marriage and womanhood.  Looking for the nugget that will change everything.  That will help me get control of my life and relationships so that I can make everything right.

We all know that’s not possible.  We are not in control and we can’t make everything right.

What we can do is open our eyes to the goodness God has placed in front of us and we can be grateful for it.  We can ask Him continually to remind us of His presence and to give us wisdom and insight into how to spend our moments.

That’s the place He’s been bringing me to lately.

I’m coming out of a hard season.  The move from MD was stressful and our first month here was very difficult for me.  We were cooped up in a hotel room and my first experiences in Pensacola didn’t make the best impression.

That’s putting it lightly.

I had a bit of a meltdown.  I didn’t want to stay here and I felt incredibly frustrated and defeated by just about everything in my life.

As a person who regularly needs to be alone to think and pray and process things, that time was especially terrible because our whole family was stuck in a small hotel room together and there seemed to be nowhere for me to go.

Nowhere but the arms of Jesus.

I’d love to say I ran right to him ready to surrender, but I more or less dragged myself weakly to him crying and fighting the process the whole way.

The awesome thing about Jesus though?

He doesn’t care how we get there, he’s just so glad we’ve come.  He draws us into his embrace of perfect love and holds us close while we struggle.

I was hoping I’d get some miraculous delivery from my feelings and the black cloud that seemed to have taken up residence over my heart and mind, but I didn’t.  Almost that entire three and a half weeks was excruciating.

Because none of it looked like I expected it to (ie go to Jesus and everything becomes instantly better) I believed the lie that I was doing it wrong.

Doing it wrong?!

Going to Jesus is always the right thing.  As long as you go, you can’t actually “do it wrong” for goodness sake!

God is relentlessly showing me his love for me is without condition.  Like the older brother in the Prodigal Son, I am always with him and everything he has is mine.

I never had to slave away for God or get it all right, or try really hard to be good, or show him how much I love him.

ALL his love has ALWAYS been mine.

Somehow he’s taking the emotional ups and downs of all this military moving and relocating and full time mothering and he’s using them to show me his love.  His high, wide, deep and long love for me.

The journey can be painful, but there’s no where else I’d rather travel.

I’m excited to be back here writing along the way.  Thanks for joining me :)

LipSense 101

I’m dusting off the old blog here to share a life update with you!!  I recently became a distributor for a company called Senegence.  Among other beauty and skincare products, they make an incredible long-wearing smudge-proof liquid lipstick called LipSense.

I mean SERIOUSLY!! Can your red lipstick do that??

OR this…


I didn’t think so! That’s why I’m so excited about this new venture :)

The company is growing leaps and bounds right now, so it’s a fantastic time to take advantage of the opportunity!  If you have any interest in finding out more, please send me an email (address on the About Me page).

But let’s rewind…

I’m a girly girl.  I love makeup, clothes, and accessories, so the idea of getting into a beauty business wasn’t much of a stretch for me.  I did have a bit of a pride issue to get over because I know the stigma that comes with MLM (multi level marketing).  However, a couple girls I know online started selling LipSense, and I didn’t think they were pushy sales types, so I got over myself and signed up!

Plus, it’s not hard to rep a product that is so unique!

I created a dedicated Instagram account @daily_lipstick and Facebook page Daily Lipstick where I post pictures, information, colors I have on-hand, and special promotions.  I’d love for you to follow and like those pages to see what I’m up to :)

Ok, you might be reading this post because you’ve purchased a LipSense starter kit from me and you’d like instructions on how to get the BEST WEAR out of your amazing new lipstick!  You’ve come to the right place :)

If you haven’t purchased a starter kit yet, but you’re interested in learning more, keep reading!  I’ll include links at the bottom to my Instagram and Facebook pages where you can shop my stock!


Step 1: You must prep your lips!  LipSense molecularly bonds to your lips — which is why it lasts all day.  Before I apply my LipSense color, I like to give my lips a good scrub to ensure they are nice and exfoliated.  You can use a little dab of coconut oil and sugar to make a scrub, or you can use a dedicated toothbrush to exfoliate.  I like to do this right after the shower so by the time I’m ready to apply my lip color, my lips are totally dry.

Step 2: Make sure your lips are COMPLETELY dry.  I take a hand towel and dab the waterline of my lips to make absolutely sure there’s no moisture left on the inner part of my lips.

Step 3: Shake your LipSense color really well, then pull out the applicator and scrape off excess product.  You want THIN layers for beast wear :)

Step 4: Starting at the cupids bow of your top lip, swipe down to one corner of your mouth.

Step 5: If needed, get more color on your applicator, then swipe from your cupids bow to the other corner of your mouth (being careful not to overlap your first swipe).

You know when you draw with a dry erase marker if you go over the same spot twice, the first layer will lift a little bit?  It’s very similar with LipSense.  Try not to layer the passes until they’re completely dry!

Step 6: You’re now going to fill in the waterline of your upper lip – in one pass. (Waterline: inner part of your lip that is usually moist, but that you have dried!)

Step 7: Get more product on your applicator (if needed) and swipe color from corner to corner on the outermost area of your bottom lip.

Step 8: Fill in the (dry!) waterline of your bottom lip in one swipe.

Step 9: Let this first layer dry COMPLETELY before applying your second and third layer.

You know when you go over wet nail polish with a second layer you sometimes smudge the first layer if it’s not completely dry?  That’s exactly what happens with LipSense too.  The new layer can ruin that first layer if it’s not completely dry, so just be patient and wait.  It’s going to be tempting but you can do it! It should only take a few extra seconds.

Step 10: You’re going to REPEAT what you’ve just done 2 more times!  You can use different colors to create a unique shade, but you MUST use three layers of product.  It’s just the way it works.  Using less than 3 layers or forgetting to exfoliate can cause your color to flake or wear off early.

If your color is coming off, or it’s looking splotchy, it is not the product’s fault.  I honestly thought it might be at first, but really it was mine.  If you are used to wearing chapstick, vaseline, and other waxy lipsticks, you will go through an exfoliation process.  It could take a couple weeks, but it’s worth pushing through!

You’ll probably feel a tingling sensation when you first apply LipSense.  That’s totally normal! It contains medical grade alcohol.  This keeps your tube bacteria-free and also exfoliates your lips over time.  That’s a good thing because it keeps your lips healthy!  But if you’re constantly wearing waxy products, the LipSense is busy working on that wax build-up instead of your lips.  It’s not able to bond to your lips the way it should.  IF you are having trouble, give it two weeks.  You might say, “I don’t have time for that!” but honestly it’s so worth it to have comfortable and super long-lasting lipstick :)  Don’t be scared away, there’s just a slight learning curve!

Step 11: When your three coats are dry, seal the color and add some moisture back into your lips with Glossy gloss.  There is zero moisture in the color, and it will feel tacky until you seal it with the gloss.  Glossy gloss is the most hydrating of all the glosses.  If you’re new to the system, it’s the one that’s recommended to start with and is included in the starter kit.

If you like a matte look, you can apply the glossy gloss and let it soak in which will reduce the shine, or you can rub it in and layer over with matte gloss.

Ok, but how do I get it OFF at the end of the day??

You use Senegence’s Oops Remover!  This item comes in your starter kit and is essential.

To use the Oops Remover, simply rub the wand over your lips repeatedly, not being afraid to apply a little pressure. Go ahead and get your lips really wet with it.  Then wait 1-2 minutes…maybe turn a load of laundry over, run the dishwasher, or flip through a magazine.  After a couple minutes, wipe your color away with a damp washcloth.  Remember, it went on in 3 layers and may need to come off in 3 layers too :)  Dark colors will take a little more effort.

My lips are feeling dry throughout the day…what do I do?

This one is easy…GLOSS, GLOSS, GLOSS!  The Glossy Gloss that comes in your starter kit is chock full of Vitamin E and Shea Butter.  Not only does it lock in your color, but it penetrates it to moisturize your lips.  To keep you lips moisturized and comfortable all day long, reapply gloss often!  Don’t worry about running out, it should last a couple months with regular use.  I’m still on my first tube! To increase the life of your color, be sure to gloss before eating to maintain a protective barrier!

There’s your LipSense education!!  If you’re ready to try this incredible lipstick, visit my Facebook page or my Instagram Account to choose a color and get started! :)

Watch me apply LipSense in real time!

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