2017 Marine Corps Birthday Ball

Turns out we have zero good lighting spots in our house for pictures. Which means I should have gotten out my real camera…

So we did a selfie and hope that our actual ball photo will be better (they took professional pics but they were free so we have no idea when we will get them).

Doh! The first time ever we could bring our own wine and I forgot.


It’s always fun to get dressed up and go out but I never know anyone so it’s honestly kind of awkward. We ended up leaving early because we were both tired…


2016 USMC Birthday Ball

Lunch with friends beforehand at Succotash in National Harbor. It was DELICIOUS and we highly recommend it. (We had fried green tomatoes; pimento cheese fundido; bacon mac and cheese; collards, kimchi, and country ham; Belle’s punch and a gochujang infused bloody mary.)


My super fancy home manicure (yeah, it’s just glitter polish):


Us, before:


Before & After


And this is what it takes to get ready for the ball. :p


A few fun pics trying to get THE PERFECT shot:


And the best shot:


And my favorite fun shot:


So as we were starting to get dressed, Tom had a uniform snafu—he realized he forgot a major piece. The exchange was closest (about 45 minutes round trip)…but they were out. Home was next closest (about an hour round trip) but that wasn’t appealing, either. A few furious texts found a buddy who lived somewhat close that had extras and could bring them to him…but that took almost an hour as well! So, while he was downstairs waiting for the delivery, I was finishing getting ready and hanging out with our friends in their room and then we came back to our room to wait for Tom. Our friend Tom was having a FIT because Tom’s uniform wasn’t even prepped to start dressing…so he got everything ready for him.


Waiting longingly for his buddy:


The group shot without Tom:



It was getting to be time to be seated for dinner (we’d already missed the entire cocktail hour) so Karen and I headed down while Tom waited for Tom. They made it with a few minutes to spare.

After the ceremony was over, we booked it out to the photo line while it was still short:




Random shots of us:





And the official photo which was emailed to us before we even left the event:


We actually had other friends at the table (plus her parents!), but we somehow managed to go the entire night without taking a big group photo OR a photo of us with them! So, here’s one I snagged off Facebook (that I actually took on her phone):


And lastly, to give you an idea of the scope of the event, here’s the seating chart: 288 tables of 10.


Overall, it was a fun evening, but unfortunately, it was once again a big ol’ waste of money—we should NOT have spent the night again. Last year we had decided it had been a mistake because we didn’t NEED to spend the night—we didn’t drink enough to need to stay and we were tired and wanting to head out by 10 so we could have easily just came home. But this year we thought we’d all stay (all three couples) and have this epic night…but we were all petering out come 10:00 so we all just went our separate ways LOL. We could have actually been home by 11 and saved the $350 we spent on the room and sitter! Lesson REALLY learned. :)


2015 USMC Birthday Ball

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The evening didn’t start off on the right foot—Tom had requested a King room and we didn’t get it, even though we reserved the room way back in June. And no one along the way let us know, either, so it was QUITE the shock walking into a room with two Queen beds. ESPECIALLY at the price we were paying…

We had been planning on going out with friends for a quick bite at a nearby restaurant before the ball since we knew dinner wasn’t going to be until probably 8 or 8:30 (it comes at the end of the program)…but that got nixed when A) both guys realized they forgot their cover (which meant they couldn’t walk outside in their uniform) and B) the other couple was stuck in traffic (it only took us 25 minutes to get there because it was earlier in the day). So…Tom and I just hung out, stewed a bit about the room, and then we started getting ready.



We clean up well!




Going back to watching football. :)


Wearing Marsha’s jewelry!


And then our friends arrived! As I said on Facebook: Fourteen years in the Corps, best friends with these guys for 12…FINALLY getting to attend a ball together! Priceless!





The list of events:


The walkway in:


As luck (?) would have it, the National Harbor Tree Lighting ceremony was the same evening right down the street (with many events, booths, live music, movie screenings, etc., on the waterfront). It was bad for us because it created the traffic jam…but we got to watch the fireworks during happy hour! Happy Jenny!



We typically get photos done beforehand (when my makeup is still fresh!) but by the time we made it down to happy hour, the line was CRAZY long. So we were just wandering around, and stopped to take a picture with two of the “olden day” marines.





The event was supposed to officially start at 7:30, but as people were starting to file in to take their seats, they announced that there would be a 45-minute delay. We didn’t get a reason, but we were all pretty sure one of the guests of honor was late due to traffic. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but that also meant dinner was pushed back another 45 minutes. Egads. Remember how we were going to eat but didn’t? Yeah. BUT! Since everyone had started walking in to the ballroom, the photo line was almost empty so we made a beeline! WOOHOO!

Since we don’t really ever display our ball photos (where we’d want just US in the picture) we decided we wanted to take them with our good friends! They thought it was a great idea, too! The bonus is that technology has advanced a lot since our first ball…and we got to pick the two best pictures and then the digital files were emailed and in my inbox before bed! LOVE IT!


So we were discussing how huge the ball was and how we couldn’t believe that we hadn’t seen anyone we knew…and that it was way too crowded for us (we’re guessing about 3000 people—the highest table number I saw was 268 and there were 10 people to a table) but it was the Commandant’s Ball and you never know who you’re going to run into…so while James L. Jones, Jr. (former Commandant of the USMC and United States National Security Advisor) was speaking, he introduced a marine congressman—the Honorable Seth Moulton. WAIT. WHAT?! Tom and I looked at each other. WE KNOW HIM! Tom went to TBS with him! We knew he had become a congressman, but of course we had no idea he was going to be here! And then yep, there he was, right next to the speaker! We knew that as soon as we had the chance, we’d beeline over there to see him!


Later during his speech, he mentioned Kyle Carpenter and I was like HEY! I KNOW THAT NAME, TOO! (He is the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient.) I saw him as we were approaching the congressman, so I surreptitiously snapped a photo.


And Seth (the congressman) and Tom…


And then I had to do this when we got home—if only we had them standing on opposite sides! Then (2002) and now:


And then as we were walking back to our table, I got a text from a neighbor, Christi, saying “I just saw you and Tom walk by! I didn’t know you were going to be here!” So we went back during dinner and chatted for a few minutes!


We finally got to eat dinner around 9:30 (!) so by the time all the courses were done, it was after 10:30! I had wanted to at least dance to one slow song, but there were SO many people and the dance floor was SO small we couldn’t even make it there (people were even dancing between the tables!). :( We had thought we’d have a night of dancing and partying with our friends, but since we were at two different tables half a room apart, we didn’t get to do any of that. At least we got to hang out beforehand and got our pictures taken together!

So overall, while this ball was nice, we agreed that it was NOT worth the cost ($200 room, $200 tickets, $150 sitter, $200 dress/our alterations/hair, and $50 for four stupid drinks)—and while a nice gesture, the token gift we received was not our favorite—a paperweight that didn’t even look like 240 (Owen even looked at it and asked why it said “210”):


We’re currently unsure what we’ll do next year.


Women’s clothes sizing drives me insane.

I’m trying to figure out what I’m wearing to the birthday ball this year. I figured since we haven’t gone in a few years and I’ll have lost almost 75#, I deserve a new dress. 

So, let me recap today:

  • I tried on a beautiful size 16 fancy dress at Nordstrom Rack. It almost fit. I couldn’t get it zipped but it was damn close. (I was kind of glad because it was $140…but I loved it and would probably have bought it if it had fit.)
  • I tried on a size 18 bridesmaid dress at David’s Bridal. It was a hair loose (and not really my style).
  • I tried a size 16 bridesmaid dress at David’s Bridal. It was too tight; I couldn’t even begin to get it zipped.
  • I came home, tried on an old bridesmaid dress, size 22, which I wore in a wedding 12 years ago when I weighed 10# more than I do now (!) and can’t get it zipped across my back!
  • I tried an old size 18 nice (fancy, but not ball fancy) dress and it’s loose. 
  • I tried two size 22 ball gowns (new with tags in my closet!) and they are both passable without alteration (though they’d be better with alterations).

GAH!!!! What the hell? The one that amazes me the most is the dress that I wore for the wedding 12 years ago. It was for my best friend Angi’s wedding and I had just lost 60#. The dress fit perfectly. So when I was thinking about ball gowns, it was in the back of my head that worst case, I’d just wear that one because it would obviously fit. Ha. WTF body? What’s going on?