Would you believe I didn't take a single picture for my whole birthday weekend?! It's okay, though, Allie & Trina had me covered :)
The morning of my birthday we enjoyed a birthday brunch on our back porch before going on a city-wide shopping trip.
We feasted on quiche, strawberry salad and baked brie.
The Marshall ladies brought delicious grape soda :)
That evening, we celebrated my birthDAY with a chocolate cheesecake.
The next day, we invited a group of friends and my grandparents to an Kentucky Derby themed party! All the ladies dressed up in their finest Derby attire...
A gluten-free Derby Cake!
We made alcohol-free mint juleps to enjoy during the festivities.
For the race, we each drew a horse's name out of a bowl, and that became "our" horse to root for in the race. We had three extra horses: two for each of my grandparents (they came later) and one for our dog, Tori. Guess who won? Tori's horse, California Chrome.
So, we handed out the prizes to second (a rose plant), third (mint-flavored candy) and fourth places (two bars of dark chocolate). We then enjoyed dinner together, and headed out to the back porch for dessert and gift opening after it cooled down a little outside.
I asked my two sweet little friends, Sophia and Sammy, to help me open my presents. :) All of my cards were full of kind and encouraging words, and the gifts were so thoughtful.
The biggest surprise was yet to to come. Let me also say that it is difficult to truly surprise me, because I have been known to accidentally find out about the surprise before I was supposed to. My friends and family were able to keep this one from me for about 5 months! Turns out my friends had been using the code word "belt buckle" for this gift, in case I overheard any conversation.
So, the last gift I opened was a gift bag. I pulled out the tissue paper to reveal a box from a friend's soap company. I thought, "Oh, cool! I love their soap!"
But then I opened the box to reveal a set of keys on a keychain. I held them up to show everyone, and, not knowing what else to say, said, "Oh look, keys... what are the keys for?" (I will never live that question down.) Then I looked up and saw an ice-blue cello case coming out the back door... and I'm pretty sure I still have a bruise on my chin from how hard it hit the floor. (okay, not really.)
At the time I had been renting a cello from our local music store, so I was pretty sure they wouldn't give me a case for my rental. So I said sarcastically in my shock, "I wonder what's inside?"
And there it was. My own, beautiful cello.
It formerly belonged to my friend Annick, who was at the party. I had played it before, admired its sound and tone, and I had often thought, "If she ever sells this thing, I want to buy it." Apparently she had connived with my parents to sell it to them to give to me. She had told me she was going to re-paint the case, and asked if I had an opinion on the color. I NEVER suspected anything...
It took me several minutes to recover from the shock of that wonderful surprise.
I decided later to call it Camille YoYo Casals, a compilation of the names of three famous cellists: Camille Thomas, YoYo Ma, and Pablo Casals.
So, here are my cellos and me, the day before we took my rental back to the store. Camille is on the left, and Stephane (the rental) on the right.
I generally say every year that that birthday was the best one yet, but this one really was. It was spent with my favorite people in the world. Thank you to everyone for your gifts, your presence and your encouragement & example to me. I love you all so much.