Sunday, July 29, 2007

Still Feels Good Tour Sweeps the Court

**Concert Review by RF's #1 teenage fan in this family (well, RF's only teenage fan in this family)**

A steady stream of people flooded the AT&T Center, which usually serves as a home building for the San Antonio Spurs or the San Antonio Rampage (a hockey team). But neither teams were present. No court was on the floor, and neither was ice.

I attempted to snuggle into my seat in nosebleed section 202, row 10. At first the sheer height and steepness of where we were made me nervous and dizzy. For thirty minutes, Mom, Brant, and I waited, chatted, took pictures on Mom's cell, and watched the stage.

Finally, the lights went out. A rowdy cheer erupted from the crowd. The Still Feels Good concert was on!

Guitars began to blare and twang as Jason Aldean, opening singer and country star with inclining popularity, began his part of the show. People cheered heartily as his modern hits such as Johnny Cash, Hicktown, Amarillo Sky, and Why rolled by. Soon enough, people discovered that he not only sang great, but was extra generous in hand shakes. The audience began to flock to the stage in hope of getting one.

Not too soon, Jason left the stage. By now, the Pit was pretty full, probably largely due to the text messages that you could send to enter for your chance to win a pass into it, and thereby getting an almost on-stage experience.

The lights went out again. By this time, the crowd was more than ready, and they didn't fail to welcome the stars with the screaming and applause that ensued. And the stars were......Rascal Flatts!!!

An orange light and smoke began to emmit from behind the staircase that led to another section of the stage. While we ooed and aaahhhed over this, the violinist came on stage, along with some guitarists.

"Here they come," I whispered amidst the screams and applause.

The whole stage suddenly illuminated and flashed in white and other minute colors. Needless to say, we were awed and excited.

The introduction to the song Me and My Gang played. But no one on the main stage was singing!

"Look, they're down there!" Mom said, pointing.

Brant and I followed her finger. She wasn't pointing to the main stage, but to a smaller, circular stage more towards the back of the room that earlier appeared to be nothing but part of the sound system. And on top of it, were the band members themselves! The guitarists and violinists on the main stage were performers, but were also decoys to lure the eye to the wrong place!

Mom had also had a hunch that the three Rascal leads were going to come out that way because earlier she had seen men rolling in big boxes that appeared to be sound equipment. Now we're not completely sure, but we believe that the trio were in the boxes!

I rose to my feet, singing along to the tune that I knew and loved so well (Me and My Gang). Hands raised up in the air as lead singer Gary LeVox sang, "Raise up your hands if you all wanna hang with me and my gang."

The band made their way onto the main stage by a bridge that was raised up when not needed. They continued by delivering hit after smashing hit. Gary's voice, which has a very large range, tends to err on the high side, but with a uniquely tomboyish tinge, was complimented skillfully by the startling talent of his two backups and their guitars (really, they could probably make it by themselves). Just some of the songs performed were These Days, Bless the Broken Road, Backwards, Feels Like Today, My Wish, I Melt, and Pieces, the last of which the two backups sang by themselves. Upon being asked which song they would like to hear, the audience yelled back "Mayberry! Mayberry!" So, upon command, the band performed the song perfectly.

In addition to this, the lights were amazing. They took on different shapes and were constantly changing colors. After one song, green lasers criss-crossed and were held in the air for a moment before vanishing. During Backwards, the stage was littered in red, blue, and white stars. When they played music videos, the floor of the main stage was so shiny that the whole platform looked like it was one big screen.

After nearly two hours of songs and anecdotes, the band ascended the staircase and walked onto a part of the stage that lowered them down. I was disappointed. They hadn't sung Here's to You, the song that I wanted to hear the most. Neither had they sung Life is a Highway, their most popular song.

The lights came back up. People began to leave. Then the lights went out again. A blue light shone onto the drummer, who had remained on stage. He gave us a few upbeat rhythms that allowed him to show us his skill. The whole time, I was going, "Okay, are they coming out again or not?"

Bright red and white lights suddenly blared onto the platform. Guitars twanged. Gary's voice came on again (he was back on the circular stage!). He began to satisfy the silent cries for encore with none other than Here's to You, a song that thanks the fans for being fans! It also has a fast-paced, fun beat where the guitars and drums match perfectly.

They ended with Life is a Highway, which credits much of its popularity to the motion-picture Cars (yeah, they're the ones who sing that!). The whole crowd stood and sang good an' loud. The whole building rang with it! I'm sure that we could be heard for miles.

Somewhere in the middle of the song, Gary got out to mingle with the people nearest the stage. Once he said something like "This is to all you guys there in the back!" and then continued with the next line, which was "There was a distance between you and I. A misunderstanding once, but now, we look it in the eye."

I was sad when it ended. I was having a good time, and I wasn't ready for it to stop. But, Dad was waiting for us when we got home, and, as usual, I was eager to relay all to him.

In short, even though we couldn't see all that well, it was a great evening and "kid's date" (as I called this evening out with Brant and Mom). I can't wait for my next concert and hope that Rascal Flatts will come back to San Antonio again.

I hope that you'll stay here and listen to a few songs. They sang these at the concert. Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Hoppy" Birthday, Brielle!

Brielle turned 2 on Tuesday! Our baby is getting to be such a big girl!

Because Brielle loves bunnies and affectionately refers to them as "hoppies", Brittany suggested we have a "Hoppy" Birthday theme. Great idea, Britt! Of course, the making of the old traditional bunny cake was in order (I think I remember my mom making this same cake for my sister, Michele's, birthday which fell around Easter time...did I dream that, Mom, or did that really happen?).

The night before their birthdays, I always decorate the kids' bedroom doors while they are sleeping. Brielle was squealing with delight when Brittany, Brant, and I opened her door in the morning, singing the happy birthday song, and revealing the crepe paper, balloons, and "Hoppy Birthday" sign adorning her door. I really think she would've been completely satisfied if that was all we did for her birthday. She kept running in and out of the crepe paper hanging in her doorway, repeatedly saying "hoppy", "hoppy". It was definitely apparent that she knew it was her special day!

Thanks so much to everyone who sent cards, gifts, and money. We used her birthday money to buy her first little trike, a play "market" (complete with food, cash register, shopping basket, etc.), a stroller for her baby, and a huge play-doh set. It looked more like Christmas at our house than a birthday, but we really haven't bought her any of those bigger items until now. Everything was truly a hit with her. She has played and played with all of her new things! The big kids and I are also having so much fun playing with the new play-doh gadgets, playing store, decorating her pretend b-day cake, taking her baby for a walk, and reading new books to her. Brant has broken in Brielle's trike with his numerous trips around the house. It is quite funny, and I wanted to post a picture of him with those long legs pedalling that little bike, but he'd kill me for it! Oh, the benefits of having a little sister!

Happy Birthday, sweet Brielle ~
Our lives are so much richer because of you!!

Family Date!

One of the great joys of having a teenager and a pre-teenager is they serve as built-in babysitters for their busy baby sister. Max and I have begun to take advantage of this and plan a "date night" for just the two of us every other weekend. From the outside, our dates likely look pretty boring (dinner, a walk, a trip to Starbucks), but I sooo look forward to these nights and often look back on them with a smile once they've passed.

Last weekend, Max and I went out on Saturday night, and then on Sunday, we decided to plan a surprise "Family Date" for the kids. There is so much to do in this area, and we decided to surprise them with something we hadn't done yet. So, we took them to Natural Bridge Caverns and Natural Bridge Wildlife Park. The caverns were nice, but probably would've seemed much nicer had we not just visited Carlsbad Caverns. The Wildlife Park was definitely everyone's favorite. It is one of those drive-through parks, where the animals roam free. We've been to these types of parks on vacations, so I was a little skeptical of the ads I'd seen and had set my expectations low. Usually the animals in these places are just laying down behind some tree, outside of camera range. Not so in this park! As you'll see, we had a whole zoo checkin' out the inside of our vehicle! It was a lot of fun and definitely accomplished the goal of our Family Date as new experiences were shared and new memories created.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Busy Days of Summer

I can't believe it is July already!

We finished school a few weeks ago, but somehow we still manage to stay soooo busy. We have had several groups of friends over for "pool parties", been to Six Flags a handful of times, and enjoyed several days of Max being off of work. Brant is still playing hockey throughout the summer, and Brittany is involved in a weekly group discussion of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Both kids are also attending a weekly Drama Club with our homeschool group. It is during summers like this that I wonder how we ever manage to fit school into our lives!

What has Brielle been up to???

Last weekend, a friend from Wisconsin was here in Texas for a wedding. We met her and her mom on the Riverwalk and had a great time catching up on all that has happened over the past year and a half. Come back soon, Diane!

Can you guess which one of us lives in WI and which lives in TX??

Max had the first part of this week off, so we decided to spend one morning at the zoo. It turned out to be a relatively cool, overcast day...just perfect for a trip to the zoo!

Lastly, here are some recent pictures of Brielle that are just too cute not to share!