Our December So Far

December.  It's crazy how fast this month has gone by.  To think that Christmas is about a week and a half away is crazy!  There's still so much to do, like finish my final paper for class, complete my holiday shopping and making sugar cookies for Santa. 

I figured since there's so much going on and I don't really have a lot of time to spare for the blog, I'd entertain you with some pictures.  

Here's our first true snow of the season.  It didn't last for long, but there's still a spot or two in the yard that's more white than green.  It was pretty while it lasted...

Then there's been the challenge of caring for our dog.  While he seems to be improving a little every day, he's still nowhere near himself yet.  He's still walking into walls, furniture, people and the other dog.  He spills more food than he eats if left to fend for himself, which we attempt only in an effort to see if he's made any improvements.

We also had the big family Christmas party.  Yours truly, with the help of one of my sisters-in-law, was responsible for organizing the event.  Somehow, despite all the craziness in our lives, I managed to get the invitations mailed and the hall rented.  The rest of it just kind of came together.  Thank goodness!

Oh, and we got our Christmas tree.  We didn't bother with the hayride this year, much to the youngest boy's disappointment.  Instead, we snagged one of these pre-cut trees near the barn door before running inside to get our picture taken with Santa.

Then there was this.  I really wanted to see the Nutcracker this year, but the dates didn't work in our holiday schedule.  I was determined to do something unique, though, so I kept searching until I found that our local Youth Theater was running Dickens's A Christmas Carol.  I'm so glad I did.  It was a very unique interpretation, one presented from the author's point-of-view.  The entire cast consisted of three men.

There.  I think I've covered my December so far!

He's Getting Better

On Facebook I've posted a few comments about the outcome of the oral surgery our 3-year-old Yorkie underwent.  After a few days of perfectly normal behavior, he had what the veterinarian believes to have been a stroke caused by a dislodged blood clot that traveled to his brain.  He spent a week at the vet's being treated.  We were convinced that by day two of his coma, we'd have to put him to sleep.  Thank goodness he woke up when he did!  

It's been a week and a half since the stroke.  We're happy to have him home now - mostly because we missed him, but also because of the accruing expense.  While he's not exactly himself yet, we're hopeful he'll fully recover if given enough time, love, and attention.  Every day there seems to be some small sign of improvement.  

This video was taken a couple of days after he came home from the vet's office. 

He's doing a little bit better now than he was in the video.  He seems more willing to at least try to go to the right despite the difficulties he has with coordination and balance.   He's not whining or whimpering nearly as much as he was, which I take for a good sign.  He may not be happy, but I don't think he's miserable, either.  I may be projecting a bit here, but I really think he's more frustrated than anything else.  

Over the next few weeks we're hoping to see the following improvements: 
  • Eating and drinking by himself. 
  • Eating hard dog food again. 
  • Putting some fat back on his bones - he's so skinny!
  • Walking without running headlong into furniture, people, or the other dog. 
  • Letting us know when he needs to go outside to go potty. 
  • Showing interest in more than the basic bodily functions. 
If he continues to improve at his current rate of progress, I'm hopeful that we'll see some of this before Christmas.  What a present that would be! 

Poor Little Doggie

The dog and I both had dentist appointments yesterday for teeth cleanings.  While my appointment turned up a crack in a couple of old cavities, one of which will require a crown (ouch!), I was at least able to walk out of my appointment without feeling miserable.  Not so for this little fella..
Cash's cleaning turned into a tooth-pulling frenzy.  He lost a total of fifteen (15!!) teeth yesterday.  The rot was so advanced in some of the teeth that an infection had spread throughout his little mouth and into his blood stream.  If we wouldn't have taken him in to the vet for this cleaning, we may have lost him.  According to the vet, the infection would have eventually worked its way to his heart and given him a heart attack.

For the next five days he's on a liquid only diet of chicken noodle soup and water; he is not happy about this decision and is convinced he's starving to death.  There is a lot of whining and pacing back in forth in front of the closet where his food is stored. 

He's also on a ten day, three times a day, regiment of antibiotics.   For now, we're crushing the tablets up and mixing them in with his soup.

This treatment did not come cheap.  While I'm glad we didn't wait any longer than we did, especially as waiting could have had some pretty serious repercussions, this kind of bill right before the biggest shopping holiday of the year was not well timed.  Not to mention we have a child celebrating his eleventh birthday this weekend with a couple of friends at the movie theater. 

Yes, that reads $332.  Ouch.

Good thing we love the little furball.


This is our Brittany. She's been with us since the summer of 1995.  We were vacationing "up north" the summer after our wedding and found a box full of puppies outside the local grocery store.  She was so tiny then.  And so shy.  And we just had to bring her home with us.

Three years later, she could no longer count herself the baby of the family.  She had been overthrown by a dark-haired crying thing that she really didn't like.  It took a long time for her to quit pouting.

Eventually she came to like and even love our first born, especially when he could start playing with her. 

Of course, as the family dog, she also found herself enduring things like this...

Of course, this doesn't happen all that much anymore.  She's too old to be used as a pillow.  It's obvious when she walks that things hurt. 

I'm not sure how much longer we'll have her with us.  All I know is that my boys are going to be heartbroken when she's gone.  She's always been there, a permanent fixture in their little worlds.

Halloween 2011

It was a beautiful night for trick-or-treating. No rain, no snow. Instead, we had moderate temperatures and clear skies. A light jacket was enough to keep the chill off.

Before walking around town, though, we made a detour to Grandma & Grandpa's house. For the first time I can remember, both boys let me paint their faces. I got quite a kick out of it despite the time limits I was given.

Our last taste of Halloween came just last night, almost a week after the official holiday.  This time mom and dad dressed up, too!

And the boys opted for the quick-and-easy costumes from years past instead of suffering through another face-washing ordeal.


You know, all things considered, work hasn't been bad.  In some ways, it's even been a blessing.  It's forced me to continue the business of everyday life.  Get out of bed, shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup.  One foot in front of the other until I'm out the door and on my way.  It's provided routine and familiarity in a time of great sorrow and high anxiety.

That being said, thank goodness it's Friday!  I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.  Sure, there's a certain house that I know needs cleaning and the laundry will NEVER be caught up, but I get to sleep in.  I may have overdue homework to finish and new assignments to begin, but that's okay because I get to sleep in!  Oh, how I love a few extra hours with my pillows and blankets. It's what makes Saturdays and Sundays so precious.

Other plans this weekend include an After-Halloween party.  We declined invitations to several other festive gatherings this year because it didn't seem possible to smile or laugh, but I think I actually feel up to a little fun and frivolity.  I'd like to give it a try anyhow.

Happy Halloween

This year's solitary Halloween decoration.
It was a miserable September and it's been an even worse October, which pretty much made it impossible for me to feel any desire when it came time to decorate my house for Halloween.  So much so, that we didn't even carve pumpkins this year. 

I posted as much on Facebook this morning. 

A couple of hours later, Ken showed up with this adorable flower arrangement at my office door.  I love it.  I'm looking forward to taking it home and putting it in the center of my kitchen table, a little belated Halloween spirit.

Hopefully, I'll have pictures of a terrifying 10-year-old zombie and a brave gladiator to post either later tonight or early tomorrow.

Re-assessing and Re-evaluating

Tragedy has a way of forcing you to look at your life with a critical eye.  It makes you evaluate between what you think is important from what is truly important.  In the wake of Sean's death, I have found myself doing that very thing. 

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it is a start.  These are the things I am going to make every effort to do with regularity and enthusiasm. 
  • Spend more quality time with Ken and the boys.  As a family we often share the same physical space, but we're continually distracted by our individual interests.  Ken is never without his phone or laptop, the boys are rarely without their computers or PSPs, and I always have a book or computer in my hands.  While I can't see any of us giving up these things, I don't think it's unreasonable for us to designate one night a week where we spend time doing a family activity like playing a board game or something.
  • Record the memories we make.  There are couple of different ways I'm going to go about this.  The most obvious way for me is to use this blog just as I have in the past.  Yet, there are some things that are too private for such a public platform, so I'm going to make an effort to start using some of the journals I've purchased over the years.  Life is ugly and messy and heartbreaking.  Those bits and pieces - painful as they may be - are going to start finding their way out to the page. 
  • Take more snapshots of our everyday life. For those who know how often I have a camera in hand, this may seem an impossible task because I already take a lot of pictures.  Some may even think too many.  Yet, the truth is a lot of my pictures focus on events.  It's time to shift my focus from sports photography to capture the moments that make us who we are. 
  • As a kind of continuation on the picture theme, I need to be in more pictures.  I need to hand the camera over to my husband and children or even complete strangers if necessary. 
  • Create more scrapbooks.  (This goes back to the idea of recording the memories we make..).  I need to scrapbook the photos when the memories are still fresh.  Not wait until the details are indistinct and irretrievable from my miserable memory. 
  • Return to the creative writing I love so much.  I spend a lot of time on homework, which I know is important, but it's at the expense of my creativity.  To help keep me motivated here, I think it's time for me to become an active member in one of the two creative writing groups I've been a member of in the past. 
Like I said, this list is not complete and likely leaves out some important facets of my life.  But it's a start.

Rest in Peace, My Friend

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, my family lost someone very dear in a tragic hunting accident.  The circumstances surrounding his death seem unimportant in the grand scope of things.  All that really seems to matter to us, his family, is that he's gone forever.  It hurts to look into a future without him.  It hurts to think of all the things he's going to miss, all the things his family - his wife and two beautiful, wonderful children - are going to do without him by their sides.  

What we have right now, what we cling to in our heartache, are the memories.  I think it's important to share those memories in order to keep him alive in our hearts and minds.  During the memorial service I wanted to stand up at the podium and tell everyone how Sean touched my life, as well as the lives of my husband and children.  I wasn't strong enough that day to say the things I wanted to say. 

So, while I sit here with tears streaming down my face and my heart heavy in my chest, I'm going to share what I couldn't on that very difficult day when we said our final farewells.

Sean married into my family because he fell in love with my spunky, strong-willed, and fun-loving cousin Jessica.  I stood up with them and watched them transition from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife.  I have some great memories from that day, but the one that stands out the most has to be those minutes following the ceremony.  We had just finished taking pictures inside the church.  Most of the family and wedding party had drifted away, disappearing one by one until it was just me and Jessica.  We walked out of the church expecting to find everyone hanging out in front of the church.  Strangely, the wedding party had disappeared.  Jessica, temper flaring just a little, knew what had happened and where we'd find her wandering groom.  I'll never forget walking across the churchyard, holding her wedding gown in my hands to keep the train from getting grass-stained, only to find Sean and the rest of our bridal party sitting on someone's front porch drinking a beer.  Sean, in the way only he could, diffused Jessica's temper with a grin and a light-hearted comment.  He may have even handed her a beer to help take the edge of.

That's just one of many memories I have of Sean and Jessica together.  You see, Jessica and I share a very rare and special relationship.  She's always been a part of my life.  Someone who "gets" me when it seems no one else does.  I like to think it's the same for her, that I "get" her when it seems no one else does.  This kinship that seems to transcend the bond of blood and family lineage has resulted in so many shared experiences.  We grew up together, we went to school together, we worked together (and still do), we've partied together, and our families have vacationed together.

A lot of people, my husband included, have stories to tell about Sean that involve hunting or fishing trips.  While these two things gave him immense pleasure, my stories don't really touch on either subject.  My stories involve vacations to Las Vegas, Maine, and Munising.  I can tell you about boat trips across Michigan's midland waterway and camping trips over long holiday weekends.  I can tell you about how he went to watch fireworks in Caseville this last Fourth of July even though he really didn't want to - he did that for his kids because he was the kind of dad that put their happiness before his own.  I can tell you about searching for waterfalls after a visit to the Children's Museum in Marquette and how fast we left those wild woods because Jessica and I got freaked out by the thought of stumbling across a bear.

There are just so many memories.  So many things I never want to forget.  

Shiny Things

I've been a bit blocked lately when it comes to the blog.  It's not that I'm sitting on my thumbs with nothing going on.  I'm plenty busy.  Between work, school, the house, the kids, and the constant go-go-go that is our life, it seems as if I should have a lot to talk about. The problem is it all seems so mundane.

Well, except for this.  This seems pretty monumental...

I got a new car!  The hubby came home last Friday night and handed me the keys.  I knew we were planning on getting a new vehicle - the Malibu's reliability was becoming a concern, especially with winter approaching - but I thought we were going to wait another month or so before driving one of these lovelies home.  Hubby decided to surprise me with an early anniversary gift instead.

I love it!  Love it, love it, love it.  It has room for the children to stretch out and continue growing.  It has easy and accessible trunk space and lots of it.  It has a back-up camera so I shouldn't inadvertently run over anything. There's a touch screen for radio station selection, On-star assistance, and bluetooth connectivity.  Yes, that's right, I can now answer the phone without making a mad grab for my purse in hopes of locating my phone before the call goes to voicemail.

Yes, I love it.

Yes, I am spoiled.

My First Week of the Fall Semseter

I don't remember if I mentioned it or not, but I had to drop my creative writing class this semester and register for something that better fit my schedule.  I ended up in a British Literature to 1800: Medieval Women and Literature course.  While there's a teeny, tiny part of me that is excited to learn more about this particular era, there's a much larger part of me that is freaking out over the amount of reading I'm going have to do over the next fourteen weeks.

To start with I had to purchase nine books.

 The Trotula: An English Translation of the Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine (The Middle Ages Series) The Book of Margery Kempe (TEAMS Middle English Texts) The Lais of Marie de France The Letters of Abelard and Heloise The Treasure of the City of Ladies (Penguin Classics) The Judith Butler Reader Women's Secrets: A Translation of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus's De Secretis Mulierum With Commentaries (S U N Y Series in Medieval Studies) Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse (Clarendon Paperbacks)

As you can see, there's some variety here.  We have fiction, non-fiction, theory, and history.

Our first week has started out with The Trotula: An English Translation of the Medieval Compendium of Women's Medicine, a chapter from The Judith Butler Reader, and a scholarly article in PDF form.  Since I was not technically enrolled until Tuesday, I had very little time to get this reading done before our first class session, which meets tonight.

I'm hoping my speed reading serves me well.

So close.

Originally uploaded by Krheiser

He made the catch.

He was tackled.

The ball went flying.

His knee was injured.

He was done for the night.

Luckily, the knee seems better this morning.

I See Scholastic Achievements Straight Ahead

It's almost that lovely time of year when it might not be uncommon to see our little white Malibu chasing down the road after the bus the kids just missed.  Yes, that's right!  School is almost back in session.

Let the frustration and anxiety begin!

Oh, wait.  I'm supposed to be going for upbeat and positive in this post.  Let me try again..

It's almost that time of year when the kids will jump out of bed eager to eat a nutritious breakfast and slip on their spiffy new clothes.  Mom and Dad won't even have to ask them to brush their hair and teeth.  Mom and Dad will also not have to ask them if their homework actually made into the backpack because, of course, it did!  The bus will arrive right on time and the children will wave happily out of the windows as they're whisked away to their favorite place on earth.

What?  A little to "Leave it Beaver"?

Yeah, I think so, too.

That being said, the kids really do begin school on Tuesday.  I think they're ready.  Well, as ready as any kid who dreads the end of summer vacation can be.

We've done all the school shopping we're going to do.  Their backpacks are filled with folders, pencils, pens, colored pencils, and notebooks.  School schedules have been safely stored away.  Teacher/parent/student agreements have been signed and filed into the appropriate folders. The only thing missing right now, as far as I can tell, is a change of clothes for gym class, a padlock for the gym locker, and a 3-ring binder for 8th grade science.

Last night we attended the school's open house, which gave each of the kids a chance to meet with their new teachers, get an idea of where their classes will be held, and the opportunity to open their lockers.

My oldest, the one going into the 8th grade, was super excited by his schedule when he discovered his day will start out with gym and art.  Personally, this would have been a nightmare for 8th Grade me, but apparently my dread of gym class is not shared by my overactive 13-year-old.

The same could be said of my youngest boy, too.  He was slightly jealous of his brother's schedule.  No gym or art during his first semester.  However, he was delighted to learn that his cousin would be just across the hall; they've always lived close by, but they're new to the public school system, which means for the first time in my boy's life, he might be able to hang out with his cousin during lunch/recess.

Me?  I was excited to find out that the vast majority of the textbooks would be accessible online.  This is huge.  Let me say that again, this is HUGE.  Our textbook woes have been many and varied.  For the first time since we've started this journey, we may actually have access to everything we need for homework and studying!  The only book I'm uncertain of is the US History text; the teacher was off coaching football at the High School, so I couldn't ask.  Thank goodness we're Facebook friends!

I hope everyone else is feeling as hopeful as I am when facing the start of their school year. 

Cedar Point 2011

When it comes time to plan our family vacations, Ken and I try to think of someplace we haven't yet taken the boys. With how fast they're growing up, we know our family-of-four vacations are fast approaching an end. It's a thought we don't verbalize too often, but it's an inescapeable fact that our children will eventually move away from home and start lives of their own. That is the goal, right?

Our oldest boy starts Eighth Grade this fall. According to my fingers math, this means we most likely only have five more summer vacations with him. After he graduates, I'm sure he'll be anxious to run off to college or, at the very least, look into getting a place of his own where Mom and Dad's rules need not apply.

Forgive me while I weep.

I know there's also a possibility that one or both of the boys could get jobs when they start driving that make vacationing even harder. Oh, and what about sports camps and the eventual girlfriends I imagine they'll have?

Oh dear.  Maybe I should simply focus on the family fun we get to have right now and not worry about the future just yet.

Our little family of four.
This year our family-of-four vacation was doubled in size when our best friends and their two boys joined us at Cedar Point for a week.  We drove down on a Monday, set up camp, and let the kids swim in the pool while the adults sipped on beer and wine coolers.

Our real Cedar Point adventure began the next day.  We had Ride-n-Slide tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I can't tell you how much we enjoyed the ability to switch between the the water park and the roller coasters.  In the middle of the day, when the sun had baked the blacktop and sweat dampened more than our brows, we would head back to the campround for lunch and change into our bathing suits.  While the kids raced up the steps to rocket down the water slides, the adults enjoyed a few drinks at the adult pool. 

After the water park, we would return to our campsite for dinner.  The plan was to change out of suits, eat, and then return to the rollercoasters.  This was the plan.  The plan did not always come to fruition.  Tuesday night Terri and I took the boys back into the park while Ken and Ken ran to the store for a few necessities.  Wednesday night KC opted to stay behind and entertain himself with his DS and a movie thanks to a life preserver in the braces; it took nearly two weeks for the cuts-turned-sores to heal.  By Thursday the majority of our crew was too exhausted to return to the park.  Only the little guy and I managed to find the will to return for one last night of high speed fun. 

Mostly, the group stayed together, though.  We rode rollercoasters and water rides. 

We ate out at least once.  Famous Daves.  Yum.

The boys played games.  So many games.  They were determined to bring home some prizes.  The oldest managed to win a Laker's basketball and a stuffed Sonic the Hedgehog.  The youngest, after a meltdown or two, finally managed to win a stuffed turtle. 

It was the rides, though, that really were the big draw for us.  While the water park wasn't nearly as horrible as I feared - I have a thing about wearing a bathing suit for hours on end - it wasn't my first choice of entertainment.  I'm a rollercoaster lover.  And so are my boys!  I'm so grateful.  It would have been terrible if they had resisted getting on any of the rides.  Instead, they were game for almost anything.

Well, the little one was game for anything.   My older boy refused to go on the Top Thrill Dragster, but was otherwise willing to do just about anything.

All in all, it was a very successful family vacation.  We only had one injury worth noting, thanks to a careless life guard.  We made decent time there and back even though Google Maps had us braving the wilds of Ohio instead of following the Turnpike.  We didn't spend an outrageous amount on park food or beverages.  The boys each brought home souvenirs thanks to the midway games. 

Yes, all in all, it was a very successful vacation.

Last Tournament of 2011

Gage & Me
That's it.  Another baseball season has come and gone.  The boys ended the summer on a high note when they took home third place trophies from this weekend's tournament.  

Can't tell you how proud I am of every single one of them.


I'm afraid I'm losing my mind, friends.  The problem?  I'm beginning to second guess my grammar choices.  Not just occasionally, either.  Oh no, I'm second guessing myself daily.  I know the rules.  I do!  Yet, I find myself making stupid mistakes that irritate and embarrass me to no end.

Moments like these make me wonder just how prepared I am to teach others how to properly use the English language.  I blame it on the Master's degree.  I'm so paranoid of making a mistake in my chosen field that I'm over-thinking things. 


Updates on Various Topics

  • The Artist's Way - Going to need to write my three pages tonight while the munchkin is at baseball practice because I was too busy chattering away at my husband to sit still and let the words come. 

  • The kids - We have two weeks of practice and one baseball tournament left of the season.  Then we start football.  

  • School - I should probably start keeping an eye out for back-to-school supplies and clothes. On a more personal note, I'm signed up for a creative writing course and waitlisted for another class on learning how to teach at the college level (the exact course title escapes me and I'm too lazy to go look it up). 

  • Writing - Hopefully I'll have something to report on that as my journey through The Artist's Way continues.  

  • Reading - Last night I stopped by the library on my way home from the youngest child's football camp to pick up a copy of A Discovery of Witches.  I started it last night and am already hooked. 
  • Movies - We did, in fact, make it to the theater to see the final installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise.  I hate to admit it - mostly because I am a huge fan of the books and previous movies - but it was lacking.  The fight scene at the castle was a FAIL as far as I'm concerned.  The magical creatures fighting alongside Harry and Company were missing.  Even worse, the death that so startled me in the final book left me unaffected on the big screen and that shouldn't have happened!

The Artist's Way - Day 3

I know it's only Day 3, but, as they say, so far so good.  I've been able to keep up with my morning pages.  The first two days I managed to write them on my way into work.  Today, I used a moment of downtime during the proctoring session I'm overseeing to get the words on the page.

I still need to do my artist's date and complete at least two of the exercises set out for me this week.  I figure I'll read week 2's intro on Sunday, so that gives me most of the weekend to complete these three tasks.

Obstacles to overcome:

First baseball game of my son's 10U tournament

Morning baseball game, help at the concession stand, afternoon baseball game, Harry Potter movie date with my boys and my youngest sister, possibly stop by friends' house for fireworks.

Morning baseball game, help at the concession stand, afternoon baseball game.

I suppose somewhere in all that craziness I'll have to make time for things like laundry and dishes, too.

This leads me to a question of priorities.  I want to be creative.  Well, okay, the truth is I want to write again.   That's the true driving force behind my decision to commit myself to completing The Artist's Way.  While I enjoy my other creative endeavors, writing is the thing missing from my life right now. 

Yet, as I look at the weekend ahead, I can already see that old patterns of behavior are itching to reassert themselves.  I can't miss my son's tournament.  I have to volunteer to do the concession stand - I'd feel bad if I didn't. I want to see Harry Potter, and by want I mean I insist.  I can live without fireworks, but I don't want to offend our friends.

So when do I complete the exercises and find the time to go on a solo artist's date?  I don't know, but I'm going to do my best to squeeze it all in.

The Artist's Way - Day 1

I read through the introduction and most of the Tools chapter last night.  Because Ms. Cameron emphasized the importance of starting on the Morning Pages as soon as possible, I decided to start them today.

First, I must admit I am not a morning person.  As I told my journal, I don't wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  I'm more sluggish than sprightly, if you will.  However, I really am determined to give this creativity program 100% effort, so I grabbed my journal on the way to the car.  With my husband behind the driver's wheel, I was able to write my three pages.

Only I didn't write three pages.  I wrote two.

I discovered that at some point in the past I had jotted down notes from a writer's conference - there were scribblings about books to read, synopsis tips and tricks, and even some general writing advice.  This discovery hampered this morning's effort to write three pages. I didn't want to tear out those little gems, so I decided to simply stop, leave the notes where they were, and resume the Morning Pages tomorrow.

Girls Night Out

This was a first, but hopefully not a last. My sisters, niece, and I had a Girls Night Out this last Saturday. What made this particular outing unique was that it included my niece, who is only 8 years old. (Or is she 9 now? I should know this, right?)

This meant our Girls Night Out was alcohol-free. Instead of drinking and dancing, which is usually what happens when us girls get together, we were singing and dancing without the benefit of any alcohol-enhanced rhythm.  Just to be clear, though, the lack of adult beverages didn't lessen the pleasure of the event. Sugarland put on a great show.

The stage looked amazing and rather steampunky. These pictures, taken with my sister's cell phone, don't really do the set any justice.  As the title of tour - The Incredible Machine - suggests, it incorporated gears, keys, and other bits and pieces of machinery.  In fact, I wish our pavilion seats would have been closer to the stage so we could have gotten a better look.  Beautiful, unique, and inspired stage design.  Kudos to the designers!

What really made the show, of course, was the music.  When the crowd held up their signs during the Little Miss song, I must admit I cried just a little bit.  I blame it on this video, which I believe is responsible for the Little Miss Project:

(If you don't want to listen to them talk, fast forward to 2:06 in the timeline.)

I still get chills.