Could my birthday possibly get any better after that? Well, yes it could! I went over to Andrew's, and when I walked in, I saw the biggest, most beautiful bouquet of purples, blues, and greens. It was stunning. He'd met with Patti at Symplicity and picked everything out himself. It was beauuuuutiful! Then Andrew said, "I didn't get you a card. I wrote you something instead." Um, okay?!?! He'd written me the most amazing letter. I won't give you all the details here, but it was so honest and from the heart. It made me feel like the most special and luckiest girl on the planet. I was totally bawling when I got done. And as I was pulling myself together, Andrew comes into the room with a hanger with plastic over it. He said, "I know it's risky buying a woman clothes, but when I saw this, I just thought it would be perfect for you." I took off the plastic and found a suede jacket underneath! I've never had a suede jacket before. He chose it because he thought the color would look great with my hair and that it could be something I could take to Alaska with me this summer. So thoughtful! Here's a picture of it. I ran into the bathroom to look at it. It fits like it was made for me. Andrew was so cute and impatient. He said, "Is there something in the pocket?" Sure enough, there was a box in the pocket. Inside the box was a gold heart pendant with an emerald in the middle. The emerald is both of our birthstones. He chose it for that and to go with my emerald ring. I was floored. Everything he chose and did was so thoughtful and so wonderful. I couldn't keep the joy in. I was bawling again. The night was topped off with a phone call from my little brother who never forgets my birthday. It was seriously the best birthday ever.
The weekend following my birthday weekend was the culmination of a lot of sneaky planning. The California Cousins (minus one) and I surprised Kate by me showing up in California to see her play! It was so fun to surprise her. Andrew drove me to the airport that Friday afternoon. After a harrowing experience in Denver of almost missing the last connecting flight to LAX, I arrived in Southern California. They had blindfolded Katie on the way to the airport. Claire did a great job keeping the secret, and she jumped out of the car to greet me at the loading/unloading area. We opened the back door and Kate took her blindfold off. She screamed bloody murder and jumped into my arms, wrapping her legs around me, screaming like a banshee the whole time. After a reprimand from security, we were off. It was so good to see them. I hadn't been to California since Claire was a baby, not even a year old. She'll be 14 in November! Ridiculous! Kelly drove us back to Long Beach, and we talked and talked until we were all exhausted. I slept like a baby in the guest house, and I could barely believe I was in California!
Saturday morning, we drove to Pasadena. The Rose Bowl was having an open house, and Kelly was taking a shift as docent for the tours as part of her work with Pasadena Heritage. As a Hawkeye fan, the Rose Bowl is pretty darned near close to Heaven. I toured it all... the pressbox, the locker rooms, the grounds... everything. The tour ended with Kate, Claire, and I having hot dogs and lemonade on the field. Yes, the field. Of the Rose Bowl! I'm serious! It was unbelievable!
After the Rose Bowl, the girls and I did some shopping in Old Pas and put our feet up at the condo in "the Castle." It's a stunning building constructed in the early 1900's, quaint, cozy, and perfect. We met up with Cameron & Steve (back from hunting wild boar), Cameron's girlfriend Kristen, Kristen's mom, and McLeod family friends Ted & Brad for dinner at a Cuban restaurant. Delicious! Then it was time for the play. It was a production of Cheaper By the Dozen, and Kate played the oldest daughter, Anne. She was fantastic. You'd never guess this was her first play. Some of the kids in the show were definitely tainted by the "biz" in Southern California. They were pretendy and muggy. Kate hasn't picked up any of those bad habits. Her performance was honest and truthful... from the heart. I was so proud of her and so proud to be in the audience of her big theatre debut. When we got back to Long Beach, I had one request. I asked Steve if I could ride the Segway. It was so fun. That thing corners on a dime! That's something that I definitely won't have a chance to do again for a very long time.
We looked through a lot of old family pictures and laughed and talked until we were all ready to drop. Claire did drop, as matter of fact. :) I had to leave first thing in the morning. It was a quick trip, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I was so blessed to get to share time with the McLeod clan. It was a fantastic little getaway.
The school year is in that frantic, crazy sprint to the finish. All the GOAL trips are done. 6th grade went to Nauvoo, 7th grade went to Hannibal, and the 8th grade just got back from their overnight to Des Moines. It was hard to raise money for the trips, but the kids did it all. We didn't even need to rely on our corporate sponsor who had offered to help if we didn't make our goal. I think it really gave the kids ownership of their trip. I hope they all had fun. This Tuesday is the 8th grade Assignment Journal reward trip to Adventureland. I know the kids will enjoy that, and as a member of the 8th grade team this year, so will I!
I've perfomed a couple of times recently. The weekend before my birthday was Faculty Follies, and that went well. It was fun singing with Suzanne. We sang "What is This Feeling" from Wicked, but we changed the words a bit to make it have an Iowa vs. Iowa State theme. I was also in a couple of other numbers. One was touching, and one was an original work by Fred Hucke about being a teacher. It was a fun afternoon.
The day after my birthday, I performed in a Fun-Raiser for Way Off Broadway. I felt totally under-rehearsed, and I had an absolutely rotten cold, but I faked it, and I think the night went really well. It was fun being back on stage with Stephen, Ryan, Margaret, and all the gang. Sean McCall came down from the Old Creamery Theatre, and Stan Brown was back from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. I got to sing "Unworthy of your Love" (with Stephen) and "Evolution of a Song: Company" again. I love love love singing those two pieces. I hope that wasn't the last time. It was such a fun night, and I hope we raised a lot of money for the summer season.
Right now, I'm heavy into rehearsals for Children of Eden, the FACT summer show. It's a retelling of the Adam/Eve & Noah stories. Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked, Pippin) wrote the music, and it's very fun to sing. I'm one of the storytellers/narrators, and I love singing all the close harmonies. We open Father's Day weekend, so I'm starting to panic, but I think it will be a great show.
Things are going great with Andrew. Every day I ask myself, "What did I do to get so lucky?" He's wonderful, and I'm disgustingly happy. I'm blessed. This is the last week of school, so it's going to be a crazy week. The year has been full of challenges, joys, obstacles, and successes. I can't believe how it's flown by. Maybe after this week, I'll have some more time to blog. Maybe... ;)