Friday, January 23, 2009


We all clapped for the cadets and midshipmen graduating in the Class of 2009 and offered toasts with sparkling apple cider. I chuckled as I lifted my engraved wine glass and haled, "To the Academy!" numerous times. Indeed, our family has entered a new world.

Yet amidst the fanfare and celebration, there was a sobering spot in the room. It was the POW/MIA table. Each part of the table had symbolism. Previously I just thought it was an awkward table maybe even a silly joke but I couldn't have been more wrong. When they described each item on the table, I had to choke back the tears. Being the mama of a Soldier and the cousin of an Army Chaplain in Afghanistan, I struggled to maintain my composure and not smear the three layers of mascara on my eyes.

This was the description of the table printed on the program for the All Academy Ball. 

The POW/MIA table is a place of honor near the head table. It is set for one and is a way of symbolizing the fact that members of the military are missing. The table is set for one and is intentionally small symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner against his/her oppressors.


           The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms.

The single rose in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones who kept the faith awaiting their return.

A red ribbon is tied prominently on the vase reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousand who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing.

A slice of lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.

Salt upon the bread plate symbolic of the families' tears as they wait.

The glass is inverted since they cannot toast with us that evening.

And finally, the chair is empty, they are not here.

When I approached the table, I felt a sadness pervade over my heart. We are so young on this journey of being parents of a Soldier, I am choosing not to go there too much emotionally lest I completely fall apart. 

We have so much to be thankful for in this country and I was moved by this table. Here is a link to a facebook group supporting my cousin who is serving our country in Afghanistan. I know he'd appreciate your prayers and any other support you can offer. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Extreme Makeover

So with the clothing problem solved, upon the gentle yet insistent prodding of my mom and sisters, I made an appointment to get my hair styled and my makeup professionally applied.

There have been two times in my adult life when I have felt pretty.

The first time I recall was on my wedding day. 

The second time was on the night of the All Academy 

I began the day looking like this...I call this Before

You don't have to tell me, I know, there was A LOT of work to do...(I took this nasty picture today so my pink highlights have faded quite a bit and Ike looks even gnarlier than me so ew...)

In the early afternoon, Julian did his magic and
 successfully completed Phase 1. 
At first I thought he gave me some old lady hair but that would probably be a stretch considering I have bright pink highlights in my hair, right? Little by little, I could see the transformation taking place. I began to like what I was seeing in the mirror!

If you read my previous post, you noted that I did not attend any high school dances. My heart was expectant and I thought to myself, "This is what it would have felt like to get ready for a Homecoming Dance or Prom." I liked the feeling! 

Then I took my dreary face and fancy hair to Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
Walking up to the makeup counters always intimidates me. 
My insecurity bubbles to the surface and I just know they are judging my appearance. I feel like I'm reading their minds as they assess my face and think to themselves, "That lady needs more concealer, mascara, better foundation, etc." I'm probably wrong but I approach cosmetic counters with fear and trembling. Yet all my nervousness disappeared as the lovely young woman worked her magic. She made me feel comfortable and feminine and I sensed she was as excited for me to go to the All Academy Ball as I was. 

So after about 45 minutes, Tamsin, the young woman at Bobbi Brown, completed Phase 2. As my 20 month nephew Josiah would say, "Taa daa!" I drove home from the mall and was surprised each time I looked in the mirror. "That's me!" I marveled.

With not a lot of time to spare, I came home, squirted on a little bit of perfume, put on my pretty clothes and we dashed off to the ball. It was a Cinderella moment. 

Just days before I had asked my husband if there was any way we could cancel and not go to the Ball. I had nothing to wear and was convinced I would have a rotten time and feel ugly and disappointed. But you know what that would have done? It would have only reminded me of that old, familiar, resigned feeling I experienced so many times in high school. I know I would have just thought, "Cindy, that's just the way it is for you" and I would have spent the night in front of the stupid box aka tv just like I did so many times before. 

Instead I entered an elegant ballroom with my husband. Aside from the time when Mark nearly wiped out on a small piece of red leaf lettuce that was on the tile floor, (it was actually quite funny!), we had a perfect time. I felt like a star sitting at the table with my handsome man and my beautiful son and his date. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, even got engraved wine glasses as souvenirs and danced the night away. There were a lot of pretty girls and women there that
evening but I felt like the belle of the ball. 

Plebe Parent Weekend is in March and I'm already getting excited thinking about it! I hope I don't sound stuck-up or conceited that you can simply see that an Extreme Makeover took place not only on the outside but also deep within my heart. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

All Academy Ball, Part One

For many, many years I have lamented that I never went to any of my high school dances. No Homecoming, no Prom, nothing, nada, zippo. I did attend a boyfriend's senior prom but he lived way far away in Chicago and I didn't know anyone besides him so it doesn't count as far as I'm concerned. 

To further add insult to injury, I worked in a flower shop which meant that I took orders for all the dances and then usually worked the day of the dance when EVERYONE would come pick up their flowers. I would go home alone and wonder about all the fun everybody was having. Oh, how I longed for a pretty dress, a handsome boyfriend and a beautiful bouquet of flowers on those nights!

I have reconciled those disappointments (although it might not appear to be the case) but on December 27th, it was like I got to have one of those magical evenings I had dreamt for so long ago. 

My husband and I attended our first All Academy Ball. Now that our son is a cadet at West Point, we have entered a new world full of exciting opportunities. After eating a scrumptious dinner, we burned the calories away with a night of dancing.  

It was a magical night that almost didn't happen because I didn't have anything to wear. I was going to make my dress but I am a VERY slow seamstress and my creative ideas don't easily translate into reality.  With only 24 hours left I had two choices 1. Find a dress 2. Go to the All Academy Military Ball in just a shirt and a pair of underpants. The second option freaked Nate out. It was agreed that I had to have a complete outfit in order to go to the ball and the clock was ticking...

First thing in the morning my hubby and I hit the mall for the day after Christmas sales. To my delight, I found many dresses in my size and my husband was the perfect shopping buddy. He kept bringing me dresses and I tried one after the other. It was a blast trying on long, flowing gowns and sexy, sassy dresses, many I wouldn't have picked for myself. 

After parading around the store in a variety of dresses, I found a long, black skirt. A few days prior I had purchased a sassy, black, frilly blouse and was overjoyed when the skirt and shirt matched even though they were bought at different stores. I hit the jackpot!
I found a cool pair of shoes on sale and then even had a sales clerk who helped me buy some matching, on sale jewelry. By the time we left the mall, I felt like I just might have fun on this special night. Mark and I had prayed on the way to the mall for the Lord to guide my steps as I went to the store on a day commonly known as being notoriously crazy. 

When I got home, I tried on my outfit. While prancing, I felt something on the bottom of my skirt. I turned around and you know those big plastic things they put on clothes to make sure you don't steal them??? Well, they forgot to take it off! This meant a return trip to the mall later that day which resulted in me getting another $20 off. 

Next I'll tell you about the All Academy Ball...I shall name that post Extreme Makeover, hmmm