He graduated & we got married!

Hi everyone!

We figured it was about time for a life update from us! We are alive and well … in fact, I’d say we are nigh-on fantastic! It’s been quite a whirlwind as of late, so that is why the blog has been abandoned for the past few months (sorry). But a quick shout out to all of the plebes and plebe girlfriends that reached out to us about the starting their adventures of academy life. It was so wonderful to hear your stories and chat with those that I did! On to business. *Disclaimer: This is going to be a pretty long post!

Graduation & Commissioning Week

What a blast that week was for Sean’s family and I! It is definitely oriented to the family and friends that come in for the festivities, because golly do they keep all the ensigns- and 2nd lieutenants-to-be running like crazy all that week. Annapolis and USNA certainly did put on a show though. What an amazing experience!

Before we headed out for the grand event, Sean’s dad and I had Google documented the heck out of that week and the week following (wedding week of course!), so we were well prepared for all the different goings-on of the week. I’ve attached a link to an edited version of our family schedule that was inspired by a lovely lady in the girlfriends’ group (thank you again!!!) that totally helped us all stay on track and get to the important events of the week!

I want to briefly go over a few of my favorite parts of the week:

Superintendent’s Garden Party

What a fun evening! We felt like royalty being escorted into the Superintendent’s home with all manner of delicious food, drinks and good company. It was one of the first times we were able to meet members of Sean’s company along with their families!

We got all dressed up (hats and all) to shake hands and take a photo with Superintendent Carter and his wife, which was so special! They were so kind and welcoming even after having stood smiling for hours on end meeting endless families of midshipmen. But we were so happy that they did!

BLUE ANGELS

I had been so excited to see my first Blue Angels show … probably way too excited! But they did not disappoint! It was my birthday, so of course I claimed they came just for me. :) It was such a fun afternoon watching them conduct all of their stunts. And we were also on the Yard when they arrived in the area the day prior and were rehearsing. So it was like getting two shows! I felt like a little four-year-old kid.

Ladies Brunch/Setting Sail

Many of the women I had gotten to know over the four years of Sean’s time at the academy met one morning for breakfast at the Iron Rooster. It was such a joy seeing everyone in one place! And for some, meeting them in-person for the first time! We all met the morning that our boyfriends/fiances were at graduation rehearsal, so no time was lost with family.

I also took part in the Setting Sail class that was held on the day before graduation. It is so worth getting up early and hitching a ride to the academy! You are given so many resources as a future Navy wife and get to meet so many awesome women that are Navy wives who are open to sharing their experiences. They talked about ranks, different communities, moving, networking, and just generally understanding how the military works. I would 100% recommend that you take advantage of this resource! :) Email me if you have questions about it and I can put you in touch with the ladies or just click the link to their website above!

Graduation Ball

This ball was open to the graduating firsties, their parents, significant others, and family. It was a lot like the Ring Dance because it was all the Class of 2017 who were celebrating finally reaching a goal they had worked so hard to achieve. It was so fun to watch! I feel like this event was classed up even more than Ring Dance was, maybe it was just the lack of booze spilled on the floor and how it wasn’t as readily available as it was at Ring Dance. Or maybe it was just the diverse music played to reach the parents’ generation that  I usually enjoy more? Who knows. :) Regardless, it was so fun to watch everyone cut loose one more time with everyone they had been surrounded by for four whole years.

Last but not least of all:

Graduation & Commissioning

What a moving experience! For those of you who have already graduated, you know what I mean. For those of you working toward that goal, I can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself!

We made it to the Navy & Marine Corps Stadium at least three hours before the ceremony was to begin, and I am sure glad we did. Even at 7 a.m. the roads were already congested with not only us tourists, but morning commuters (I’m sorry for you all). Word of wisdom for the ladies sitting in the bleachers: bring a jacket or sweater or something! I had my summer dress on knowing that it would get super warm *later* that day, but at 7:30 in the morning sitting in the shade side of the stadium, it did not feel like late May! ;) Sean’s parents, grandparents, one of his brothers, his sponsor mom, and I all waited among other excited families for the morning to really begin.

When they all processed in together in their officer uniforms, everyone started excitedly scouring the lines for their (for a little longer) midshipman. I’m glad that I had the nice lens on my camera, so that even though I personally couldn’t pick him out of the crowd, through my camera I could! ;) After everyone filed in, they waited patiently as their heads started to burn in the sunlight. They were waiting for those overseeing the ceremony to be escorted in by security, not least of which was Vice President Mike Pence! Not many people can say they shook the hand of vice president of the United States prior to accepting their diploma.

The thunderous “I DO” of the newly commissioned officers was probably the most exciting part of the ceremony. The scheduled speakers were fantastic, hearing Sean’s name and that of his friends being announced was so amazing, but there is just something about a bellowing sound of those promising to serve their country faithfully that will get you.

Following the ceremony, they all toss their old covers in the air as children wait patiently to collect all the midshipman covers and see if there are any treats waiting in the folds. We then quickly run (meaning wait patiently in pedestrian traffic) to our rendezvous point to find our new ensign and take SO MANY PHOTOS (that may be my fault). Sean’s mom and I got to pin on his ensign shoulder boards, which was so special. He received his first salute from an academy friend at that time, which was so weird and awesome.

If you have any desire to watch any or all of it, here is a link to watch the ceremony on YouTube!

The Wedding

For those of you who know us personally, you know we have been engaged since the Christmas of his Youngster Year (2014)! It was quite a journey, but looking back, I don’t think we would have changed a thing (besides maybe a few more visits haha). So we dated for a little over six years and were engaged for two and a half by the time June 2017 finally came around.

What can I even say? The times we had worked so long for were all arriving within the span of a couple of weeks, and it was such an amazing time!!! As soon as we drove back from Annapolis, we hit the ground running to put the final touches on our wedding back home in Illinois! The wedding was on June 3, the weekend following graduation, and it was so amazing!

Photo by Ashley Richardson Photography

Friends and family from far and wide made the hike to be with us that week and we couldn’t be more grateful for them! I am also so grateful to those back home who put out some planning fires while I was gone the week prior for Sean’s graduation. Even though you plan things out down to the hour, there are always things you forget about! :P

But everything went down with only one hitch! (Bad pun, I know.) We were married in the parish Sean grew up in and had the reception at a local hotel … and it was perfect! The anticipation, the waiting, and the joy of ourselves, our families, and our friends was bursting at the seams of that day and will forever leave a lasting impression in my mind.

Following the wedding, we had time for a week-long honeymoon on Lake Michigan which was the absolute best! We ate way too much food, took too many selfies, and rested up for the next chapter of our lives … together!

What now?

Photo by Ashley Richardson Photography

Sean and I are now in Annapolis waiting for his first training school to begin in October. We will be moving a total of three times before our first wedding anniversary, but being married to your best friend is awesome.

As many of you have noticed, I shut down the store section of this blog. We had a good run, but for many reasons, I made the decision to end the business for now. I don’t have my own equipment, we are going to be moving all over the place, and the business that I was outsourcing it to underwent some sad changes. I’m sorry if I disappointed any of you, but you can email me if you have any other questions about it!

I will continue to post on occasion as I find things that will be of help to girlfriends and families of midshipmen over the years. PLEASE, email me if there is something you would like to know about via personal message or a post that you would like published! I love hearing from you all!

Blessings and know that all of you reading this are in our prayers!

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Class of 2017 Ring Dance

We are only a couple of days away from the day that will bring news of what the members of the Class of 2017 will be doing for the next few years of their careers. While waiting to hear the much anticipated news, I thought now would be a great time to finish up the blog post that my roommate and I began about the Ring Dance this past May! (Many thanks and memory credit goes to McKenna for this one!!!)

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Photo by Jackalope Photography (@jackalope.photos)

Just days after the two of us walked across the stage at our college graduation ceremony at Franciscan University, we were headed out to the East Coast for the famed Ring Dance. This event was something Lauren had been looking forward to for three years and McKenna had merely three days to join in the anticipation. As planned, Lauren was spending a week at McKenna’s house in West Virginia following graduation, job interviews, and before the weekend in Annapolis. While enjoying a well-earned week off post-graduation, Sean extends a last-minute invitation to the dance on behalf of a friend of his, and McKenna excitedly accepted the invitation.

We arrived in Annapolis early on the Friday before the dance. We spent the evening roaming the huge Annapolis mall, eating Chick-Fil-A, and watching the live-action take on The Jungle Book on the big screen (quite entertaining, if you haven’t seen it yet!).

The town awoke to a very damp morning, and an even more inclement forecast for the evening of the Ring Dance. But, it didn’t do much to dampen the excitement all the midshipmen and their dates had for the festivities!

Just before lunchtime the primping for the afternoon began. We set up a “work station” at Sean’s lovely sponsor mom’s house to start curling one another’s hair. One of Sean’s roommate brought his lovely girlfriend over for introductions and for getting ready as well. The boys supplied tons of Chinese food to help with getting ready, haha! They also had to run out to get us “regulation” umbrellas that they would be allowed to carry (hint: they had to be black).

After spending more time than any of us would like to admit, we were dance-ready and headed to the Yard. All of the second class midshipmen were given a parking pass that lasted the day so that they could park on the Yard, which we were all immensely grateful for. We started with photos in the rotunda taking photos and meeting up with people, which was especially ideal given the weather. Lauren was able to meet up with a few members of the girlfriend’s group for the Class of 2017 that she had known via social media and cell phones for years, but only then had the opportunity to meet (which was absolutely lovely!).

While waiting for more photos in the rotunda, McKenna finally met her date for the evening. We enjoyed finally getting to pair faces with the names we had heard so often. It was especially exciting getting to see an entire class of midshipmen all celebrating their time at the academy.

fullsizerender-3Next in the line of event was the famous class ring dunking photos. While totally worth it for the sentiment, many of them turned out quite laughable. But, we had to keep in mind that only hours before, the entire parking lot on which the photographer’s station was set had been completely flooded and they were required to pump out the water in order to set up their equipment. As for buying photos: there are many options available, but we would recommend getting the digital copy. While it was mainly the cheapest option, it gave you the rights to the photo as well as a hard copy. The business who took all of the photos also had the photos to the midshipman within the week after the event, which for such a large event was quite impressive!

A group of our date’s company-mates had reserved us a couple of table at Deep Creek, a sit-down restaurant on the river that really seemed to cater to all atmospheres. When we first pulled up, it looked like it was about to fall into the river, but the inside was lovely. Best of all, it was the best food service we had ever experienced along with some pretty awesome food. It had everything from sandwiches to filet mignon (and lots of adult beverages to choose from which was a perk those over 21 were very pleased about).

We very much enjoyed the company shared at dinner, and everyone made it back to the yard at about 8:30 p.m. The dance had begun at 9 p.m. and was set to end at around 11 p.m. We had a little trouble getting back onto the Yard, because my home state had only shortly before (unbeknownst to us of course) changed the state ID laws, meaning that I would need a second form of identification from now on in order to enter the yard. The guard had pity on Lauren’s ignorance, and let us on the Yard with only her driver’s license.

Many member’s of Sean’s company all wanted to go down to dance together, so we waited for quite a while before finally stepping foot on the dance floor. The Class of 1967 were present for the dance and were co-hosts for the evening. They were encouraged to try to find the dates that they took to their ring dance and bring them to the Class of 2017’s dance.

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It was very different from what we experienced at the International Ball the previous year. The main two reasons being: it was all members of the same class in comradery together and the alcohol was legal and plentiful. For some, the alcohol was merely an aid in their merry-making, but for others it left them hurling in the bathrooms in their lovely outfits (we would recommend the first outlet and not the last). McKenna especially found the Ring Dance to be very busy compared to the I-Ball in the sense of it having a more social and milestone agenda over a general dance.

To continue our post-dance tradition, we went to Chick and Ruth’s in downtown Annapolis and had a lovely time drinking our milkshakes and telling stories from the day. Both Sean and Shahid were so kind as to drive all over tarnation after midnight to locate the hotel room that Sean had reserved for us two worn-out travelers. To top off the weekend, we ended it with lots of delicious Indian food that we cannot pronounce.

It is still being talked about amongst us all to this day and will be for years to come, we are sure!

Couple bits of advice:

  • Be very careful what shoes you choose to wear for the day, as you will be in them for close to nine hours or so if not more!
  • If you want to carpool with a midshipman onto the Yard instead of walking (highly recommended), park in the St. John’s parking lot because it is free on the weekends.
  • Bring more than one form of legal ID, just to be sure!

P.S. Good luck to the Class of 2017 this Thursday as you find out your Service Selection! You all are in my thoughts and prayers!

Wining, Dining, and the Grog

Not too long ago I made a quick 30-hour trip out to the lovely city of Annapolis for Sean’s company’s “Dining Out” event. The Centurions put on quite a good show. The comradery exhibited that evening was encouraging, amusing, and just enjoyable to be able to witness.

There were about 15 significant others from outside of the academy sphere (also known as the ones not in uniform) who proceeded to stick out like sore thumbs (in a good way?). One of the best parts of the evening I found to be was finally being able to put faces with the names of many people whom I had heard of over the years.

The company’s dining out was held at the N* Room at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The dining room was decorated with burgundy table clothes, yellow napkins and flowers, and many delicious servings of food.

There was a panel of midshipmen that presided over the evening, ensuring that events happened when they were supposed to and that the fun didn’t get out of hand. The two that had the most to say out of the evening were dubbed “Mr. President” and “Mr. Vice.” These two had the most involvement the humor of the evening, deciding who deserved to be sent to “the grog.”

FullSizeRender (1)What is this grog? Well, I found out that evening, and I found out the hard way. So let me enlighten you. This is the most-visited area of the evening, frequented by midshipmen, their dates, and the officers alike. There were two vessels containing this substance (one alcoholic and the other under-21 friendly) which was basically supposed to be a drink “suicide,” a mixture of a bunch of different liquid matters that really aren’t intended to go together. I heard tales of this grog being laced with not only soda and adult beverages, but occasionally condiments, other sauces, or unidentified, ill-tasting liquids.

In order to summon someone to the grog, you had to petition the “Vice” in the form of a poem. The person accused, if found “guilty” of some infraction of the Rules of the Mess or some other slight would come to the grog, ladle himself a good portion, and drink up. In order to prove that it was gone, the offender would then turn the empty cup upside-down over his head. Quite hilarious.

With all of these stories running through my head, all of those with dates to the event, along with said dates, were called up to the grog. Unwilling though we were, we followed suit. And I’m not sure that this is allowed…but surprisingly enough, it tasted great. :) Not that I was volunteering to be called out another time, but someone definitely was kind with the ingredients of this year’s grog. My most grateful thanks to whoever created it.

Following the dinner, they introduced the guest of honor for the evening to speak to the company. The guest of honor was Lieutenant General John Sattler of the U.S. Marine Corps accompanied by his wife. He had many good stories and words of advice for the young people present.

There were many toasts to those serving, or those who had served. They recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem as a reminder of why they were all gathered together. And of course, there was much “good-natured needling” of friends throughout the evening.

Last note for the ladies: Once the dining out season hit, the amount of dress code questions circulating among the IMG_2676significant others was hilarious (yes, I am guilty as well). For the record, each dining out has different standards and rules. It might depend on the company or it may just depend on the year and the location of the event. So your safest bet is to just ask your date. This dining out was a “black tie” event (which was so much fun, by the way). The ladies were dressed in a mix of cocktail dresses, long formal dresses, or fancier sun dress types. My recommendation is to go look at past dining out photos from that company (if they are available) and base your wardrobe choice on that.

Very last note, if you have the opportunity to go to your significant other’s dining out, you should definitely go. It was quite fun, and we were left with a great number of laughs and stories to take with us.

New store additions!

Happy summertime to you all! As the warm months are quickly coming to a close, I hope you all are enjoying the warm weather! :)

I wanted to take a second and let you know about some fun additions to our store that I have been scheming up for quite some time now. We now have new color options for the T-Shirts which is awesome! We now have SIX colors of T-Shirts to choose from! IMG_0782

We also have a new piece of clothing that you all can check out if you would like! We have LONG-SLEEVED T-SHIRTS!!! YAY! I have been wanting one for a while now, so hopefully you have been wanting one too. :) These have a few less color options for you to choose from…but hey, long-sleeves!!! :) 

And while we were at it, we had to add a couple new color options for our lovely hooded sweatshirts too…so check them out!

The designs have not changed, but hopefully the order page is a tad easier to navigate now (I did a teeny bit of rearranging).

Let me know what you think! And be sure to share your pictures with me…I would love to see you putting your A4T2P gear to good use. You all are the reason that I started this! :)


Also, thank you to everyone who has written me this summer! I have been trying to keep up with all of the emails, but I am sure I have lost a couple in the mix. So if I have not responded to you, please don’t be upset…just try me again! I definitely don’t mean to ignore you. :)

I will be heading back to campus in about two weeks (I am sure many of you can relate)…so good luck to all of you beginning a new school year. Fresh year, fresh faces, fresh knowledge! ;) I hope you all are well!

The International Ball

As I am sure you can guess from the scarcity of posts, the spring semester was an absolute whirlwind of activity! I can barely remember everything that happened, but clearly, a blog post was not among the occurrences! ;) Now that summer has arrived, and I have settled into my summer job, I finally have had time to write another post! I am also working on adding items to the store, so keep an eye out for those updates!

Anyways, one of the most exciting events of the spring (that you will be interested in at least) was the 49th Annual U.S. Naval Academy I-Ball.

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The International Ball is black tie/dress blues event that occurs every spring in Alumni Hall. It is held each year to honor all of the international midshipman and officers who serve at the Academy while allowing the brigade and their dates to cut loose for an evening of friends, fun, and dancing! This dance is open to all classes (which is especially nice for all of the underclassmen).

One of my roommates and I made the trip to Annapolis for the weekend adventure and we had an absolute blast! The weather was absolutely perfect so she and I started off the day exploring DTA with Sean before the lacrosse game in the afternoon. My roommate and I opted out of the game (which looked like a bunch of fun) and spent the time curling our hair instead…haha!

Before the dance began, our dates introduced us to the new world of Indian food…and it was excellent! (Thank you to Sean’s friend for treating the four of us to dinner!) Following dinner we drove over to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, parked, and hopped on a shuttle to the Yard. Our shuttle driver served as a Marine for many, many years and shared numerous stories with us during our short ride over to the Academy. It is amazing to hear the stories of those who have served our country!

The night began with exhibition dances and other performances which were followed by an opening ceremony honoring the international students and officers at the Academy. Shortly thereafter the floor was opened to all in attendance and the live band played for the first couple of hours–they were absolutely fantastic! The Navy Beats took over for the last hour or so of the night. So many people came to the ball–at times it felt like the entire floor was filled with people! (This video posted on USNA’s Instagram gives a good taste for the feel of the evening.)

We left the dance a little after 11:00 p.m. to go on a hunt for milkshakes and ended up at Chick & Ruth’s right before they closed. (If you haven’t been there yet, you should definitely make a stop next time your are visiting Annapolis).

Needless to say, my roommate and I left the weekend behind with numerous battle scars on our feet (a.k.a. blisters from our ridiculous heeled shoes) and many memories to last a life time!

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Here are a couple things that you may want to know before attending the I-Ball:

1) They have a bag/coat check in Alumni Hall.

2) There is a shuttle service that runs until 12:15 a.m. to and from the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium’s parking lot.

3) The event starts at 7:00 p.m. and goes until 12:00 a.m.

4) Chick & Ruth’s is open until 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday…so a great place to stop by afterwards!

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On a side-note, congratulations to the Class of 2015 graduates and their significant others! You made it! You all will be in my prayers as you make the transition from midshipmen to leaders in the military and protectors of our nation.

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout-out to a young woman who left a less-than-pleasant comment on the blog addressed to me. To whoever wrote that comment under the pseudonym of “Curious USNA fiancé” (you know who you are): I just wanted to congratulate you on your engagement and want to wish you all of the best in your future! You will be in my prayers…just try to keep a smile on your face! ;)

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Army-Navy Game 2015, A ‘Baker’s Dozen’

On December 13, 2014, I was so excited to be able attend the 115th Army-Navy football game in Baltimore. I witnessed the Navy Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy crush the Black Knights from the U.S. Military Academy for their 13th consecutive win…a satisfying “baker’s dozen.” I had attended one other Navy football game earlier that year, but this game was nothing close to an ordinary football game!

First of all, there were uniforms everywhere. Not only the uniforms of the West Pointers or Midshipmen, but those from every branch and rank out to watch America’s Game. It was such a neat experience to see a whole stadium filled with those currently serving, those who have served, and the families of those who have served our great country. It was definitely a proud moment to witness.

Another aspect of the experience that I loved was the behavior of the majority of the people. While there was still some competitive taunts and screaming, compared to the Navy-Ohio State game I went to earlier in the year, these fans were wonderful! (; Even those bitter about the loss (*cough* Army fans *cough*) tipped their hats to the other people in different uniforms.

Oh, and lets not forget the U.S. Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs”!!! That was so fun to watch! I think my jaw was on the ground for the majority of their fall…haha!

When the Blue Angels and the Apache helicopters flew over…I could swear every person in the stadium was smiling or hollering at the sky! Way too cool!

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Another awesome part of the day was getting to watch the field first fill with black and white and then fill with grey during the two march-ons. While the march-on was three hours before the game began, it was worth getting there early to see it!

Okay, and then the game itself…for the first half, I actually got a little worried! Not that I didn’t have faith in Navy, but boy! That started off a little rough! (: But what a good game! The smack-talk being exchanged during half-time between the midshipmen and the cadets were quite entertaining. Speaking of smack-talk, Sean was able to meet up with a high school friend who is a cadet at USMA. So much fun, but man, is it hard trying to find one individual in a sea of people all dressed in uniform! :P

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience! If you get the chance to go, you must! I wish you all the best in 2015 and best of luck to all of you beginning your spring semesters wherever you may be!

Our Fan Club

We have had so many die-hard fans coming out of the woodwork recently, and we just really felt like a spotlight of their unfailing devotion to the blog should be highlighted for you all! I hope you enjoy! (:

Spotlight #1: MIDN Donovan and his ardent love for our blog…I think he keeps up with this blog better than I do:

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At least he got one like.

Spotlight #2: CynicalMiDS for their (year-late), but unfailing advertising for our blog. (Side note: this spotlight actually pushed us over 32,000 views…pretty awesome!)

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Spotlight #3: MIDN “The Champ” for his profuse comments over Columbus Day Weekend. Although, I am still not really sure what he was trying to communicate…oh, well!

Spotlight #4 //Throwback: We cannot forget our first debut on My Life is Mid last fall! Brought in quite a diverse crowd last November.

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Okay, I think those are the best ones! ;) I hope they gave you a good laugh! I think our target audience has grown in the walls of the Academy as well as among the significant others associated with the Academy…hahaha!

Happy Wednesday everyone!