Super Creatures!

The past two Saturdays there have been heaps of community-wide, artistically-minded and strange events happening in Charlottesville. In fact, the entire weekend of April 11-14th was overflowing with creative energy. The Tom Tom Founders Festival brought hundreds of musical performances and innovative thinkers to local microphones and parks. We spent a good portion of Friday hanging out at the McGuffey Art Center for the, now annual, block party. Kids were going nuts (think: dancing, big foam cubes, snow cones, climb-able sculptures…) while the adults felt a sort-of hipsterbia, indie art camaraderie. The next day of the TomTom, there was a big family-friendly picnic celebration at Lee Park but we decided to stay home and just be.

Ever since our dating, college days, Aaron and I have kept a day set apart from the rigors of the other six. Call it a Sabbath or day of rest or just Wednesday- it has been an anchor for our relationship and a respite from the pressures of maintaining a certain pace of living. Over the years our day of rest has changed from week-end to mid-week and back. Currently, Saturdays are our “family day”. We don’t commit to activities (even really, really fun ones), as a rule. Instead, we go with the flow as the day unfolds. So, on TomTom Saturday we stayed home and played games, made food, and I painted everyone’s faces like the Avengers. See if you can guess who is who…

dylan avengerpierce avengerjudah avengerboys avengersdaddy avengermama avenger

This weekend, Aaron was really pumped about going to the Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature at UVa (uh, who wouldn’t be pumped?!). A friend, who is one of the instructors in the course on creature making, invited us to participate in the parade. We didn’t commit but an hour before the parade was to begin, we decided it was a go. I scuttled up into our attic/crawl space and dragged out bits and pieces from the stuffed animal costumes that I made in college. The boys put on slippers and wigs and masks and tails, in addition to the stuffed animal accessories. Then we all squeezed into the car and headed over to The University (as it’s called in these parts).

Later, Aaron and I talked about how amazing the experience was; how this town offers so much wonder for our kids. They were right there when a giant alien ant-thing battled a huge, blobby, leopard octopus and then went on to attack the Alderman Library.

551274_592899150722239_1924240954_nPhoto by Scholars’ Lab DIY Aerial Photography

From beyond that mayhem, a mechanical elephant approached, luring the children closer to its whirring gears with bubbles (and apparently by pooping candy). Hundreds of people blocked traffic, taking to the streets, surrounded by creatures overhead and amongst the crowd. There were balloons. There were lion-dancers. And that silly ant even attacked a Prius on its way to the field of moving trees. Awesome.

sw elephantsw treessw blobsw aaron

Everyone went to bed early that night- I’m sure the dreams were intense.

The next day we biked a few miles from our home to Charlottesville Mennonite Church. Afterwards, we stayed for an impromptu potluck lunch and then we pedaled off to the Annual Children’s Bike Rodeo sponsored by Community Bikes. (Check out our cameo on the news.) Judah’s preschool teacher, Shelly Stern, was one of the organizers of this fun and informative event. Shell asked me to help with the design of the flyer and t-shirts this year- so fun!

bike rodeo flyer4The boys had a blast and we all learned some great things about biking in this town: the boys learned how to signal when turning and I learned how to properly load a bike onto a city bus. Exhausted, we cycled on home.

Such a rich and full few days of adventure!

I can’t wait to see what pops up next weekend…

Man(ta) Ray: Surrealist bicycle seat

Bikes are pretty rad.

I lost interest in the two-wheeled transport a few years back when my bike was stolen from behind the Virginia Discovery. I had been up all night helping Aaron install one of his exhibits at the children’s museum, and when I finally left around six in the morning, my turquoise Mongoose, that I had ridden since seventh grade, was gone.

A friend found me a cheap beater bike, which I rode until a few weeks out when the whole gear/pedal/crank mechanism blew apart all over the road. Springs and nuts were literally rolling down the street. I carried the floppy, broken pile back home and ran to work instead.

I was done with bikes. They had broken my rusty crank shaft of a heart and it was time to move on. (I guess that was about the time I started roller skating, but that is a whole other story…)

So, now here we are, a full-on biker family. How did this happen? Well, our two kiddos hit the ground rolling, as it were, with the whole bike thing. We started them off on small bikes and took off the pedals so they could push with their feet and balance fearlessly. (You may have seen those snazzy strider bikes that are essentially the same concept, only they cost as much as a functioning bike and once your kid is ready for pedals they are done with the strider. Lame-ness.) Our boys both asked for their pedals when they were ready, and Pierce was zipping around at age 4 and Judah at 3.

Recently, I happened upon a yellow(!) Specialized at the Salvation Army for $25, and I fell in love all over again. I took the bicycle over to Community Bikes and got Honey tuned up. The volunteers there were superb. She needed a new thingamazoo, which they had and installed. Now she rides as smooth as her namesake.

While we were at Community Bikes, Aaron bought a couple of bike seats- also known as saddles to rip apart. Now, a horse riding saddle-maker by trade, he set out to use his skill and ingenuity to make something fantastic for a bicycle.

To him, the bike saddle conjured images of a manta ray. He researched rays, ordered some eyes from a taxidermy supply company, and came up with a quirky, yet slick piece of equipment.

I can’t wait to try it out on our next free-wheelin’ family bike adventure!