WOW. What an absolute whirlwind the last two weeks have been!
I am not even quite sure where to start! This will likely be a lengthy post, so grab a cup of coffee and a blanket and settle in... here goes!
The Sunday before I left for Miss America, Bob and the Baldwins threw me a "sendoff party". It was wonderful!! I had such a great time and it was the perfect way to see everyone before I left. Bob even surprised me by having MISS AMERICA there! I was shocked! It was a wonderful evening, thank you so so much to everyone who was involved in the planning process!!
The next two days were filled with last minute shopping trips, lots and lots and lots of packing, and last minute gym trips and even a quick appearance at Total Woman Gym and Day Spa in Laguna Hills. On Wednesday morning, Kathi drove me to Chelle's house with her car packed to the brim and Chelle then drove me to Las Vegas. It took us 6 1/2 hours through rain, snow, fog and sunshine to arrive at the Planet Hollywood.
Then, the festivities began! We had opening ceremonies, meetings, fittings, TLC interviews, rehearsals, dinners, photo shoots, etc. Every moment was wonderful! It felt like I was there for two days instead of two weeks! There was one day where I changed outfits 6 times! It was crazy! Amidst the gondola rides at the Venetian, dinner at Buca di Bepo and PF Changs, the Phantom of the Opera, and the IHOP Pancake Breakfast... I made lifelong friends. I don't think that there was a single day where I did not laugh so hard that I cried. The girls were absolutely phenomenal and I felt so very blessed and humbled to be a part of such talented, driven and accomplished group of young women. Thank you so much girls for making me a part of your life!
I will share some of my favorite pictures from throughout the week here with you. Check out the misscalifornia.org website for more pictures!
Flipping pancakes for the IHOP pancake breakfast!
Me with Miss New Mexico, Miss Colorado and Miss Arkansas after our photo shoot with military boots!
A quick picture with Miss Pennsylvania just before opening ceremonies (Dress from Kirribilla)
Katherine and me being silly during a photoshoot
Backstage with Clinton Kelly during an extra taping!
At Buca di Bepo... our table devoured the dessert!
With Miss Alabama, Miss Colorado and Miss Hawaii before the fashion show
With Miss Michigan and Miss Oregon at the Venetian for the gondola rides.
The Carolinas had to duke it out for Miss California... love you girls!
Also, click on the links below for some articles from the past few weeks:
On Tuesday morning I had my interview which went very well and then on Tuesday evening I competed in swimsuit and evening wear. By the end of the night I had finished 60% of the competition and I was SO excited to see my committee and my family and friends! They were all so very supportive and so cute sporting their "I love Miss California" T-shirts and buttons. Visitation was over in a matter of minutes and I was back to my room to get ready for Wednesday... talent!
Wednesday was a great day... and I was awarded the preliminary talent award for the sigma group. I was shocked. My group was amazingly talented and I had no idea how the judges could possibly choose one winner that night. Some of the singers blew me away! I was honored to be chosen!
With Bob after the final competition
Miss Cal and Miss New York, Wednesday night prelim winners
With Lee Merriweather Miss America 1955 and a former Miss California! She is wonderful!
With my family after Wednesday night prelims
Team California after the first prelim night... we grew as the week went on!
Thursday was a fun night... just onstage question!
On Friday we rehearsed quite a bit and all of the contestants were very worn out so most of us sported our robes to rehearsal :) Friday night we attended the "Evening of Dreams" gala fundraiser and we had a wonderful steak dinner and had the chance to meet and speak with several former Miss Americas. On Friday and during preliminaries I met Vonda Van Dyk, Lee Merriweather, Jean Bartel, Kirsten Haglund, Dorothy Benham and several others. I was mesmerized that they still had a glow about them... I guess once a Miss America, always a Miss America. It was also so fun to see Jackie and pick her brain one last time before the final night! Thanks for everything Jackie, you are such an encouragement! I also got a shout out from Marie Osmond about my work with Children's Miracle Network! That was so neat!
Jackie, Tom and me at Evening of Dreams
Old roomie picture! Miss Mass, Miss New Jersey and Miss Kentucky
After the pageant with Gregory Ellenburg, the designer of my gown and onstage question dress
Saturday morning flew by as we prepared for the live TV show of finals night and before we knew it... we were dancing and introducing ourselves to a crowd of 7,100 screaming fans and 4.5 million TV viewers at home. The energy was electric and my spirit was calm but my ankles were shaking. I made sure that each and every night I took a moment to pause onstage and close my eyes... to remember the way I felt, what it looked like and sounded like and tried to engrave that image my memory for forever... these are the stories I will tell my grandkids about. Incredible.
The night started off great as I made it into the top 15, then competed in swimsuit, then evening wear, then was the first to make it into the top 10 for talent, then into the top 7 for onstage question. When we went out for the final results and the crowning, I knew I had done everything I possibly could have. I did not have a single regret. I felt like I was prepared in every way, shape, and form and that throughout the two week of events leading up to the crowning that my committee, my family and my faith had provided everything I needed to accomplish this goal. Now it was finally time to see if it was in God's plan for me to be Miss America. I quickly learned that God had other things in store for me and I happily accepted the first runner up position, along with $27,000 in scholarships and couldn't be happier to come home to California and finish my year as Miss California.
I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason and I will continue to live by this phrase. Thank you so very much to all of you who prayed for me, supported me and encouraged me. I felt your prayers, appreciated your support and needed your encouragement. You all have made a difference in my life and I am so thankful for each of you!
I have SO many people to thank but I just wanted to take one quick minute to thank these people publicly...
Bob, thank you for the interview coaching, phone calls, emails and everything you do for your Miss California... I was honored to be "your girl" at Miss America.
Chelle, thank you for driving me, taking me to Trader Joe's and for your constant and undying encouragement. You are my favorite business manager :)
Nikki, you made me look and feel fabulous. I cannot thank you enough for the shopping trips, emails, picture messages and the countless hours of helping me put together my wardrobe!
Russ, thank you SO much for helping me pick out my talent piece... it was perfect!
Linda and Donna thank you for your support and for all the ways that you helped me get to where I am!
Kathi and Glenn, my second mom and dad... thank you for your advice, your listening ear and your generous hearts. I am forever grateful.
Ernie and the PPA, the money that you supplied to Miss CA this year for extra things required at Miss America was a tremendous help... thank you for making it possible for me to feel fabulous all along the way!
Gregory Ellenburg: Thank you so much for my beautiful gown and onstage question dress and shoes! You were such a joy to work with and I was honored to wear your gowns! Thank you!
My family and friends: I am so lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for sharing this journey with me and thank you so very much for your continued love and support!!
After a few days of catching up on much needed sleep, I am off again and staying very busy for the rest of my year as Miss California... stay tuned for more on my upcoming appearances!