The tickets are free and they go fast. We got online 15 minutes after tickets became available and felt fortunate to find 5 tickets for the Friday night performance. Saturday was already sold out. A friend of mine got online 20 minutes after tickets became available. There were no tickets left.

I’m grateful we were able to get tickets to the event. We have never been successful in all the years we’ve lived here. I know a lot of people who are jealous of us for our tickets. It’s kind of stupid since they have been to the ballet before. We put in the effort to get the tickets. It’s our turn to go to the ballet!

We dressed nicely but casually. Gwen wore a dress. She and I wore necklaces. She loves borrowing my necklaces because it makes her feel so fancy. I wore the diamond necklace Heath got me for my birthday just before Gwen was born. I let Gwen wear the kangaroo necklace my mom got in Australia with the Australian opals in it. She felt so special wearing real opals.

A rainstorm was supposed to come through around noon. Noon came and went with no rain. We left for Temple Hill around 5:30. Tiny little sprinkles started dotting the windshield. In the blink of an eye we went from sprinkles to heavy rain. By the time we got on the freeway the rain was so heavy and so intense we couldn’t see. It was like driving through Oregon all over again. Mist came up from the ground. The wipers were swishing off bucketloads of water. The air itself was a wall of water.

I started praying. “Please let us get there safely. Help us make good choices while we drive. Help us to see.” You know it’s raining hard when you instinctively start praying.

It was a wild freeway drive where going 35 mph felt too fast at times. Eventually we made it to the Oakland Temple and the rain slowed then stopped. We walked from the furthest reaches of the parking lot where we finally found parking, to the Interstake Center without getting rained on. Misty sprinkles came after that when Gwen needed a restroom and couldn’t wait in line anymore.

I wonder how much the rain affected attendance and how many of the empty seats were there for the stand-by patrons. There weren’t a lot of empty seats but there were some. The rain did affect start time. The ballet was scheduled to start at 7:00 pm. It started 10-15 minutes late. They wanted to give people a chance to arrive and get to their seats.

Heath decided we should watch from the balcony. I’m glad we did. We could see perfectly up there. We had a group of women in front of us who work together. They were really nice. The tallest girl was sitting in front of Gwen. She claimed she was lazy and didn’t mind scrunching down. Since we were in our seats so early I think she realized that scrunching was going to be uncomfortable. She moved to the end of the row so there was an empty seat in front of Gwen. That was their coat and purse seat.

Behind us was a cute little family. The girls were maybe 2 an 4 years old. They were completely engaged in the first act. They whispered a lot of questions and their dad would explain what was going on. It was really cute. Gwen was pretty well mesmerized herself for the ballet. Parker had a hard time sitting still. I think he was bored. Plus it was a million degrees. We were all sweating. I kept wanting to take my boots off. I never did though.

Act I was about an hour long. Parker thought the whole thing was over at intermission! He got this big smile on his face and said he loved it. He grabbed his coat and was ready to go. Oh the painful disappointment that washed over him when he realized it wasn’t over! Poor kid.

The ballet was danced by a local dance company. A girl who used to live in our ward danced with that company and even performed in the Nutcracker before her parents divorced and her mom moved. They did a great job. It was fun seeing all the different age groups highlighted in Act II with the international dances.

Parker survived Act II by reading the program and telling me what grade the dancers were in. Gavin sat on the other side of Heath so I’m not sure how he felt about the ballet. I thought it was well done and made for a fun evening.

Gwen loved watching the dancers. I think she is even more interested in dancing now. Her little friend at school is having a birthday party at her dance studio. She had already given us the information about the dance studio hoping Gwen would take classes. It may be a Christmas present for Gwen to start taking lessons. That girl was born to dance. She just needs someone to teach her.

We were able to walk through the temple grounds on our way back to the van. We didn’t take our time and we didn’t rush. Gwen wanted to see the Nativity. She said that’s her favorite part of the Christmas decorations at the temple. When we got back to the van I was so surprised to see it was 9:50 pm! I had no idea the ballet would be so long. Heath had promised the kids at intermission that we could go to Starbucks on the way home for some hot chocolate. I don’t think Starbucks stays open past 10 pm. It specializes in coffee after all!

Tonight we have big plans to watch Elf. Heath bought Twizzlers for the occasion and we’ll pop popcorn. Parker has been wanting to watch Elf all week. It’s just hard to fit in movies on school nights. Maybe we can get some hot chocolate and caramel apple cider first. That would be cool.