The 238th Birthday Ball
for the Marines at post was held last night. If you are my friend on Facebook or in a group with me, you have likely read about my stressing over dresses for said event.
For a variety of reasons, it has been years since I have really had to dress up for an event. Not that I don't like to get gussied up, but I simply haven't had to do so. Comfort is also an issue for me, as high heels generally don't get along with my feet and given that it's hard to find clothes to match my body type, I could spend hours trying to find something that fits just right.
As much as I was excited for the ball, by early September, I was completely over trying to find a gown. I could not try on any dresses prior to leaving the States, as either I had not had the abdominal surgery (which changed my clothing size) or I was still in pain and swollen from it. I figured I would order a dress once we arrived at post and that would be that.
July flew into August, August became September and suddenly I was worried about how many dresses I would have to order from Nordstrom.com and in what sizes. One size in one brand would be a different in another. I found a few cute dresses and then finally threw in the towel and told Peter he'd have to go without me. Well, that did it.
I was informed in no uncertain terms that I was going to the ball and it would be in the dress of my dreams. I then responded that if he expected me to go to the ball, he'd have to find the dress. As it happened, Peter was prepping for a week long conference in the VA area and he took me up on the challenge. He took my measurements, approximate dress size, colors that would be acceptable and basic styles to Nordstrom with him one night in mid-September. After looking around at dresses, and consulting with an adviser, he sent me two photos. One dress was navy, one was black. I looked at the black dress, realized he had picked a dress I'd been admiring online (unbeknownst to him), and told him it was okay to purchase.
Four nights later, he came home with a suitcase stuffed to the gills with bacon, cheese, coffee, bath goodies, and 'the' dress. I waited until the kids were asleep that night, and then looked at it, trying to decide if I should try it on or wait. What if it didn't fit? What if the look was wrong? What if....
I slipped out of my clothes, and carefully took the dress off the hanger. I started to slip it on, went into Cait's room to look into her longer mirror and realized everything was off. The back lacy area was extremely loose and everything from my chest to my waist was bunched together. I reached up, tugged a bit, and realize the interior slip had gotten stuck and it threw everything off. I pulled it down, and...perfection.
The dress fit like a glove even without my Higher Power Spanx that I would eventually purchase in order to avoid any last minute worries about panty lines and such. I couldn't believe it, yet at the same time, I realized that perhaps 16 years or so of marriage has a few advantages...you learn a person's style, you know their sizes, and you know what will fly and what won't. With this one, he hit a home run.
Now, mind you, this did not mean that I did not have to stress about shoes, jewelry, make-up and the like. I kept forgetting how quickly time would fly, and before I knew it, the ball was within two weeks. I rapidly ordered the Spanx a friend recommended, picked out a pair of shoes from Zappos that looked comfy, but cute, made mani/pedi appointments for myself and Caitlin, and the day of the ball, managed to schedule make-up and hair at quite the last minute.
I had found the Beauty Lounge last summer on a friend's recommendation. The owner had mentioned how she personally creates her own natural make-up line and I kept thinking back to that as the ball neared. I realized I would rather someone else give it a go, lest I end up looking pale and wan in each photo.
While her nail technicians took care of my hands and feet in the morning, the makeup stylist took care of my hair and makeup in the afternoon. An hour after my arrival, and my hair was carefully pulled back and pinned with two gorgeous flower pins. My skin was no longer of its normal pallor, but now glowing and I believe it's safe to say my eyes popped out a bit. With only two hours remaining until ball time, I headed home to dress.
Since I was wearing a cute pair of dressy sandals, I donned my dress, the shoes, a favorite pair of earrings that I inherited from my mom, and I was ready. We left, in a rainstorm of course, and headed to the Intercontinental, where the ball was held.
The night was amazing. Due to the nature of Peter's job, we were at the head table and it was just a lovely experience. Given all the Marines do for us, it was an honor to attend the ball, enjoy dinner with them, and then spend hours dancing, mingling, taking photos, and just relaxing. And now that I've gotten through the first ball of our Managua tour without too much stress, I think it's safe to say I already have ideas for next year's dress. Perhaps I'll be up to picking it out myself, but if not, comforting to know I have a back-up stylist just in case....
and my favorite photo....