2021, High School Senior, NROTC Scholarship, Senior Portraits, United States Marine Corps

Meredith Frey – NROTC Scholarship Recipient

To start at the beginning we have to go way back. About 10 years . . . back to somewhere around 2011, when Meredith’s brother and my oldest son became best friends in Elementary School. That’s when I first met this incredible young lady. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to see her through band concerts, drama productions, track & field competiton, soccer games, and so much more. Her family has been a part of our family for so many years, and it has truly been a joy to watch her grow up!

In 2020, Meredith decided to become one of my 2021 Senior SpokesModels. My heart was filled with joy and a momma’s sad tug at the same time. It was truly like one of my own was getting ready to graduate all over again. At the same time, I was thrilled that I would be able to spend her Senior Year with her! We got “together”, via Zoom, for her Senior Consultation where I got to learn more about her. We talked about what she wanted for her Senior Portraits, and about her future plans to join the Navy and become a Nurse.

In the Spring of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we started our SpokesModel Sessions. The first of which was at a Sammi’s Greenhouse. At first, we weren’t sure we’d be able to make it work, but as long as we kept our distance from the other customers, we were allowed get pictures without masks. It was a lot of fun being out with the girls . . . especially after being on ‘lock-down’ for so long. They had missed out on their junior year spring sports and activities so this was extra special for everyone!

In late June, we got together again for another SpokesModel Session. This time we went to the Arboretum at Penn State. This was about the time that Meredith told me about her plans to join the United States Marine Corps. I was blown away! I tried hard to listen to everything she was telling me, but in my excitment and surprise I honestly didn’t remember any of the details. All I knew was that this amazing young lady was truly called to serve. There was a passion and excitement in her voice that was contagious and infectious. THIS is where she was supposed to be . . . and she knew it with everything in her.

At the end of July, we finally did Meredith actual Senior Portrait Session! It was an absolutely beautiful day! We were even able to capture a shot with her parent and her dog, Phoebe. We were just missing her big brother, Jacob, who is stationed in Hawaii in the United States Coast Guard.

On October 29, 2020, Meredith was offically sworn in as a U.S. Marine! Due to the pandemic, she was there alone, but we were able to watch it live via Facebook. I was overwhelmed that her mom had thought to share it with me, and I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy and pride that filled my eyes as she took her vow to serve our country. Shortly afterwards, we planned a special photo shoot at the Boalsburg Military Museum to celebrate!

On March 31, 2021, I got a message from Meredith’s mom, Hope, . . . a “TOP SECRET MESSAGE”. Meredith had applied for and received the NROTC Scholarship! If you’re like me, and have no idea what that means, let me tell you! It’s a FULL RIDE Scholarship of $185,000.00 to the college of her choice! It means that her enlistment is diferred for 4 years while she goes to college. After graduation, she will be a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps!

So why was this a “top secret message” . . . why were her parents not shouting from the rooftops?? Well . . . the Marines wanted to make it a big surprise for Meredith. Her parents couldn’t share the news with her until they (the Marines) offically presented her the award in person. Plans were made for the Marines to arrive at the end of one of Meredith Track & Field practices. In order to convince Meredith to wear a ‘nice shirt’ and not get overly sweaty at practice, her mom asked me to be there for some Track Portraits. I, of course, gladly agreed!

On April 7, 2021, I arrived at the Bellefonte Area High School, Rogers Stadium at 5:00pm for some ‘portraits’. Keep in mind, this was during practice for the whole team. As a thrower, she and all of her teammates were on the outside of the stadium in the throwers pits. Everyone was super nice about her having her portraits done during practice . . . but the only ones the knew why I was really there were the coaches. We laughed and had fun, and the other athletes put up with me taking some ‘practice shots’ of them too.

By 5:30pm practice was over for the throwers . . . by design! Coach Stacey Shellenburg wanted to make sure that all their gear was cleaned up and put away in plenty of time. As I and the throwers made our way to the field I noticed the Marines and Meredith’s family starting to arrive and gather in the parking lot . . . thankfully, Meredith did not! The whole team gathered on the field for a message from the Head Coach, Coach Seth Miller.

Then . . . suddenly it happened!

Four United States Marines in full dress uniform walked in to the stadium carrying a HUGE check. They were accompanied by all of the Poolees that Meredith had been training with and Meredith’s family! Meredith knew immediately why they were there, but still seemed to be in total disbelief at the same time! Through her mask . . . I could see all the emotions running through her. Once again, the excitment was overwhelming, and I fought to hold back the tears of joy and pride for her!

Even as I write . . . the emotions are still so overwhelming! This girl . . . this INCREDIBLE YOUNG WOMAN, is among the elite!

As if that all wasn’t enough . . . we were blessed by just enough rain to create the most amazing double rainbow . . . that just seemed to keep getting brighter and brighter!

Congratulations Meredith!!

I am so very proud of you, and so proud to call you one of MY SENIORS!! I know your parents are bursting with pride, as well as your brother and the rest of your family!! I know that so many more great things are in store for you, and I cannot wait to see what all you will accomplish!! I wish you all the best in your studies at Penn State University, and of course as a Commissioned Officer in the United States Marine Corps!


Mindy 🙂

2017, 2021, High School Senior, Portraits, Senior Portraits, What to Wear

What To Wear for your Senior Portrait Session – Updated in 2021

So you’ve booked your Photo Session and now the fun part of planning what to wear starts.  You open up your closet . . . and go completely blank.  You call your bestie for advice,  but you’re still not sure what will look best in your photos.  Are these photos even going to turn out good if you can’t even figure out what you are going to wear??

Relax . . . this is something that I can help with!!   If you chose me as your Senior Portrait Photographer, we already talked a little bit about what to wear, so you can refer to your Welcome Packet!  If, however, you are reading this and you haven’t gotten your Welcome Packet from me yet (or you chose a different photographer) . . . I’ll let you in on a few tips that will help you knock your Senior Portrait Session out of the park!

Let’s start with the basics:  Colors!  There are 3 colors that will look good on anyone, no matter your hair, eye, or skin color.  They are Navy, Teal, and Purple.  Seriously . . . these colors look good on EVERYONE! In my color guide, there are different colors that will look best on you based on your hair & eye color . . . but anyone can rock these colors!!!  colors

Now here are come colors to avoid and limit:  colors-2

Don’t get me wrong . . . I love bright colors.  They just don’t look good on camera because they are SO bright that the color tends to reflex onto your skin . . . which does not look good in your final photos.  In the same respect, if you choose to wear Black or White, just be sure to wear another pop of color as an accent.

Now that you have an idea on what colors to wear . . . let’s talk more about fashion! Whatever you choose to wear in the end, make sure it’s YOUR style, which speaks to who YOU are!

For my lovely ladies:  

Dresses and skirts look the most stunning because they really flatter every female body.  I recommend mixing it up!  Pants, shorts, rompers, and saying yes to a dress or two for your session.  Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos.  Especially when combined with nature, like fields & forests.  Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.

High Heels or Pumps elongate ladies legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe.  If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show.

In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key.  Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.

Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve.  You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along too.  Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.

With that in mind, here are the TOP TRENDS right now:


Floral or Floral-ish

Pattern (plaid or stripes)

Themed or Extra Stylized

Dress or Romper

These little tricks make all the difference!  If you are still looking for some ideas, you can check out my Pinterest Board for Senior Girls Outfit Ideas!

For my handsome gentlemen:

Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from your legs and feet and place it where you want it: on your handsome face.  So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home ~ as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants, fitted colored pants, or jeans work best on camera.  I recommend staying away from graphics and logos on your t-shirts, unless you have them as an “under layer”.

Layers on men look great on camera, so even when it’s hot outside, trust me when I say that it’s worth a little bit of discomfort for photos that will last you a lifetime.  Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos.  Jackets, vests, coats, and even zip up hoodies can increase the level of any look.  If the temperature permits, he could even consider adding a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt and tie underneath. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!  Guys, when it comes to the full dress suit . . . GO FOR IT!  Not only will you look amazing, but what a great shot to use for your college ID photo that you will soon need!

Whatever you choose to wear, make sure you are dressing head to toe!  Those little details really do matter . . . so please don’t wear athletic socks with your dress shoes!  If you’re looking for some ideas on how to put an outfit together or what colors will look good together, you can check out my Senior Guy Outfit Guide!

As a reminder, don’t forget to get schedule for your haircut (for guys I recommend 2 weeks prior to your photo session).  Ladies, don’t forget about your nails, brows, and make-up!  A lot of make-up artist book up fast with weddings, so get scheduled as soon as you know your photo session date.  If you are still struggling with what to wear, please feel free to Contact me!


Mindy 🙂

2019, College Freshman, From one Parent to Another, High School Senior

A High School Senior turns into a College Freshman Overnight.

We recently sent our middle son off to college. Though he is my second born and my second son to enter college, he was my first one moving into a dorm room. So there were a lot of new things to consider this time around. We are truly grateful that he is rooming with a friend from high school and that they will have similar classes. But there were still a lot of questions and “unknowns” around the whole dorm life situation. Especially since neither my husband, nor I, had the dorm life experience.

In December of 2018, in the midst of his senior year of high school he received his acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Chemical Engineering. It was a thrilling day for all of us, especially since it was the only university he applied to (something I do not recommend). It was also a very emotional day. I knew it was coming, but that was the day that I realized that I had to start preparing for him to leave home.

Being the ‘list’ type person I am, I immediately started a list of everything he would need, and quickly realized . . . I had NO IDEA what that was. Sure, I knew he would need laundry supplies, toiletries, bedding, and the standard school supplies, but I still had no idea what residence hall he would be in or what his actual room would look like. I muddled through and I did the best I could with what I already knew. The problem was, all I knew was that he would have a bed, a desk, a dresser . . . and a roommate.

Finally, in mid July (seven months later) we found out where he would be staying and who his roommate was. That still didn’t give me the information I needed . . . I am a planner after all. One that is not only a mom, but a very visual person. So I started searching the internet. The photos that were “out there” were not that helpful to me. I still had no idea how much space he would have for storage bin and/or drawers or what his “open closet” would look like. To him . . . none of this mattered, but to me it was valuable information. This was something that would help me make his room more like home, somewhere that he would feel comfortable while away from home. I have no doubt that when it’s time for my daughter to head off to college, that she will be much more helpful in telling me what she wants in her room. This man-child of mine, however, could have cared less.

Fast forward to now, late August. My son is now settled in to his dorm room, and has made new friends. He is fine . . . more than that . . . he’s happy and he loves the area! He is excited about his classes, and he is optimistic about his future. Somehow we both survived him leaving home and starting this new chapter of his life. Oh, don’t think for a second that any of it was easy. From the arguing at the store over what I thought he needed, and the “Mom, I don’t care” answers I got to whatever I suggested – all the way through to the tearful “good-bye” . . . all of it was hard. It’s something that each person deals with differently, but in the end we all make it through.

One thing I want to make very clear is that even though this was my second time sending a child off to college, it truly l was not any easier (like I thought it would be). The anticipation of the whole thing started much earlier and I kept telling myself that it was nothing to worry about. I knew what was going to happen, and I knew in my heart that it was all going to be alright in the end. In my mind there was no need to get all worked up like I did the last time, so I just kept pushing those feelings aside. Looking back, I think that was a big mistake. Let’s face it . . . this is an emotional time for everyone. The fears, excitement, pride, sadness, and every other emotion are bound to be overwhelming. Not allowing yourself to feel those feelings is not healthy. At some point, you will burst . . . which I did. Saying “good-bye”, I was blubbering (really it was the ugly cry) all over the place trying to tell my son how proud I was of him, and he couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying through all the tears. (true story) On the flip side, watching videos of kids leaving for school, or seeking out sad songs of how “You’re Gonna Miss This” or how you want time to “Slow Down”, is not good either. The waves of emotions will come on their own, and yes, they will come in waves. There is no need to force them, but please don’t ignore them either. Do yourself a favor and feel them when they come. If you feel it coming on, and feel the need to listen to a sad song, go for it . . . just don’t torture yourself. For me the biggest difference this time around was I was leaving my son in a big city. We have lived in a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania most of his life, and a city like Pittsburgh is a BIG change. I knew that he was ready for college and I had no doubt that he would do great at school . . . but would he be OK in the city?? If I had only faced my fears and talked to him about it before he left, I think I could have handled him leaving so much better.

I have no doubt that each child I send off to college will be different. In the same way, your experience may be completely different than mine. Beyond that, the dorm room that we dealt with might be completely different than the one your College Freshman will have. My goal is simply to make this difficult transition somewhat easier for everyone involved. Below, you will find photos of my son’s dorm room. I also have a Dorm Room Check List that I have compiled that is available to you if you like. There are things on the list that we did not end up getting, but they were suggested to us by other parents that had already been through at least one year of college life. One thing that is not on the list , but I feel is very important is an application for an Absentee Ballot. If your student isn’t enrolled in a college near home, or even if they are only a few hours away from home this could be something that you both need to consider. It’s not hard to fill out online, and since we don’t vote on weekends it could make the whole thing much easier.

So this is the somewhat, sorta “empty” dorm room . . . before all the stuff got moved in . . . and prior to his roommate arriving. The school provided all the furniture you see along with a gift bag for each student that contained a insulated coffee mug, reusable (wooden) utensils, a few other goodies, and a map of the school. When they checked in, they each got a T-Shirt.
Here is my revised rendition of the above photo. Take a minute to read through all the arrows above. It might be just the thing to help you picture your student’s future dorm room.
The Desk Lamp we bought (that grey & black post looking thing on the desk) has a USB charging port for a phone and the Alarm Clock we bought has two extra electrical outlets. The printer is we had but weren’t using. It is wireless so both students can use it easily. There is a desk lamp attached to the desk (under the lower shelf), but the one we bought has different lighting options and can be dimmed to accommodate a sleeping roommate.
‘That full length mirror is on the back of the door . . . which is great since you can’t really hang anything heavy on the walls with Command Strips & Hooks! These wall are slightly textured, so hanging anything was difficult. Also, there are more electrical outlets on the right side of the desk along with the one and only cable hook up in the room.

My husband and I, along with the dad and brother of our son’s roommate helped the boys move in on Wednesday. By Thursday evening, I got the photo above, showing that they moved everything around and made bunk beds so they would have more room. If only I had suggested that to begin with . . . oh wait . . . I did! LOL!

Over all, I’d say that the best suggestion I could possibly offer you, is find out who your students roommate will be. We were lucky in the fact that not only was our son already friends with his roommate, but we also know and get along with his parents. If you are not that lucky . . . make it happen! Allow the future roommates to meet ahead of time and get to know each other. Request that you also get to meet the roommate and their parents. Then you can work together to provide what both students will need without over crowding the room. There is truly no need for 2 refrigerators, microwaves, vacuums, or TV’s!! Their space will be limited enough without over-doing it with extra stuff that’s not needed.

In the end, nothing can truly prepare you for your child to leave for college, but I hope and pray that helping you plan will make it just a tiny bit easier. If only they would allow their mommas to do the ‘nesting’ and fussing over them that we need . . . even if it is just to help us feel better about them leaving. Who said they could go ahead and grow up anyway?!?

If you have any questions . . . OR . . . if you have any ideas, suggestions, or tips that have worked for you and your college freshman, please feel free to share them in the comments below!!

Love & Hugs from a Momma that knows and understands. Good luck to all you Mommas out there . . . you can do it!

Mindy 🙂