home bass: red wing roots music festival 2014.

redwingrootscrowd1Day Two of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival began with a discussion about the bird and the bees and at what age to let your kids in on the Great Secret. I’ve always believed that if a child is old enough to ask, she’s old enough to know (at least for this topic). When my daughter was seven, she asked WHY there were anatomical differences between boys and girls, and I said, “Because that’s how you tell what they are when they’re born.” Duh. Because, you know, they’re bald and all. She waved her index finger at me and replied, “I KNOW there’s more to it than that.” So I took a deep breath and I told her. I was SO NERVOUS. And when I was all done fumbling and stuttering and sweating over it, she said, “Well, that makes sense. Is that it?”

Then I had to tell her it’s kinda like Santa: other kids might not know yet, so don’t go blabbing and ruin it for them.

This was our conversation over a refreshing beer in the Blue Mountain Brew Garden before we snaked our way through throngs of people crowded in front of the South Stage to see Miss Tess and the Talkbacks. Don’t let the floral dress fool ya – that gal is fierce. They played several heart-pounding, dance-inducing numbers, plus “Hold Back the Tears” by Neil Young. In trying to describe their sound, the words country and funk both come to mind. With a modern-vintage vibe. So it’s like a modern-vintage funktry. Brandy and Ben attempted to dance and I wish I coulda hijacked the camera. Ha. I saw some students from my school, too, and I felt strangely proud to see them in the world outside of class.

redwingrootsmisstess2 redwingrootsmisstess3Over by the Local Roots Stage, kids were enjoying all kinds of art activities hosted by Larkin Arts and Artery. Sweet Denise Allen was facilitating the creation of a large, adorable, collective painting, while kids at the Larkin tent enjoyed bubble wands, coloring pages, puzzles, board games, printmaking, face painting, hair braiding, nail art, and even a scavenger hunt. There was also a Polaroid photo booth and a caricature artist! If you have kids and you’re looking for a kid friendly music festival, put Red Wing on your list.

redwingrootslarkin1redwingrootslarkin2redwingrootslarkin3redwingrootskidsbubbleSarah Jarosz has a haunting sound… perhaps not something you’d expect at a roots music festival filled with banjos and fiddles and ukuleles. She and her band mates – Alex and Nathaniel – toss around five or six instruments among the three of them and create a sound that is both gauzy and downhome, beautiful yet energizing. People like to be amazed at how young she is… and she is young and that’s impressive… but talent like hers doesn’t wait. We should not be surprised her gift showed up early. Just grateful.

redwingrootssarahThe first song she played – “Over the Edge” – I recognized right away because I think I’ve heard it on the radio. She also performed Radiohead’s “The Tourist” (WOW!!), an instrumental number by John Hartford called “Squirrel Hunters,” and one of my long-ago favorites, “The Wind” by Cat Stevens. What versatility!

redwingrootssarah2I need to dedicate at least a paragraph to all the amazing food we ate. There were at least a dozen vendors including Lucas Roasting Company to cool you down, warm you up, or re-energize you; Old Hill Cider; Blue Mountain Brewery; Grilled Cheese Mania; Jon Boyz BBQ Shack; Jack Brown’s; A Bowl of Good; Blue Ridge Pizza Co.; Goatocado; Cristina’s Café; and many others. I had a Carolina BBQ sandwich from Jon Boyz (yum!!) and two (yes, at the same time) Jack Brown’s burgers. At the condiment table I asked, “What’s this?” holding up a squirt bottle of whitish sauce. “That?” replied the girl on duty. “Oh, that’s liquid crack in a bottle. You definitely want that!” And I could eat that Crazy Cuban burrito from Cristina’s every day. Even Kline’s Ice Cream was there. All the comforts of home.

redwingrootsbbqredwingrootsfood3 redwingrootsfood2 redwingrootsfood1redwingrootslucasAfter Sarah, we spent a good deal of time decompressing in the Brew Garden, laughing and sipping and reminiscing. My friends are so dear and I’m so glad we spent this timelessness together. But before long it was time for the Steel Wheels to hit the stage, so we hauled ourselves up and over there.

redwingrootssteelwheels3The band started with a lovely thank-you to the fans for their support of the festival and used the word “home” like fifteen times. They also thanked Wade Lune (of Bella Luna, and formerly of the Mockingbird in Staunton) for his part in their involvement in this whole endeavor. A little later they thanked our humble Jeremiah Jenkins, who oversaw most everything we all enjoyed all weekend. We’ll never take you for granted, Jeremiah. You do so much. And did you know he helped write one of the songs the Steel Wheels performed? Yep. Just add that to the résumé. Among the favorites that evening were “Halfway to Heaven,” dedicated to Lucas Coffee, “Lay Down Lay Low,” and “Promised Land.” I swear, it was like Name That Tune. They’d strum one note and people would start screaming. We know them so well.

redwingrootssteelwheels5 redwingrootssteelwheels8 redwingrootssteelwheels4 redwingrootssteelwheels2 redwingrootssteelwheels1And just like that, it was time to head back to my car (on the first row this time—yow!) and drive back into the lonely reality. My kids would return Sunday and I couldn’t wait to bring them back with me.

redwingrootsfamily1We’ll share the third and final installment of our story really soon. Thanks so much for visiting this week!

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

 

 

 

swapping notes: red wing roots music festival 2014.

more photos from Day One of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival… LOTS more to come!
redwingrootsbaby redwingrootsbeertruck redwingrootschair redwingrootsfaces redwingrootslights redwingrootspokey1 redwingrootspokey5 redwingrootspokey6 redwingrootspokey9 redwingrootspokey11 redwingrootssmiles1 redwingrootsviolin

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

all folked up: red wing roots music festival 2014.

redwingrootssignSummer doesn’t technically end until late September, but the spirit of summer seems to dim the second Target publishes its back-to-school circular. At least, for me. Of course, I’m a teacher, so the end of summer vacation means a lot of things: it means way-too-early mornings, way too many meetings, way too many new names to learn. It means full-blown shoes instead of flip flops, dress suits instead of swimsuits, and seventeen-minute lunch breaks. So it’s nice, as hundreds of out-of-state plates flood through our city and parents get their college kids moved back in… as traffic goes from hardly noticeable to downright irksome… as the evenings cool down enough to warrant a sweater, wrinkly from its sojourn in the closet… as these changes do and must occur, it’s nice to remember the timelessness of summer and all we did to achieve that temporal suspension.

redwingrootscheers1As I look back over my summer, here in my kitchen a mere two days before I meet 135 fresh new students, I think most about an event that stopped time in its tracks for three whole days: The Red Wing Roots Music Festival. In just its second year, the festival is a coveted gig for musicians far and wide who celebrate their culture’s musical roots. Essentially, roots music is folk music that has aged. “Folk music” is just music created by a particular group of folks: jazz came from a group of folks, blues came from a group of folks, and today’s music has evolved from those “roots.” Whatever modern music you enjoy now is rooted in very culture-specific traditions. This is why roots music is so appealing: somewhere, at some level, it’s in your blood.

redwingrootsdance1It was like the earth stopped spinning on that little patch of the globe, everyone breathed, everyone ate and drank, everyone sang and danced and filled up on whatever it was they’d been missing: love, friendship, music, sustenance, nature… Time became vertical rather than horizontal; it became deep rather than linear. It was SUCH a relief.

Heading out to Natural Chimneys that Friday evening, I listened to The Swell Season and watched the bars on my cell phone, and my obligations, disappear one by one. I was late getting to the festival – had to get my kids all squared away for the weekend – and I felt a little guilty for missing some performances already, and even though I had to count the rows of cars to be sure I’d be able to find my car again later (it was THOUSANDS of people, people), parking and getting through the main gate was a breeze, thanks to careful planning and a super-helpful staff.

It took a little time before I finally ran into Brandy, but even in a crowd of thousands we always manage to find each other. In the meantime, I ran into a friend there for the weekend with his wife and toddler, brave soul. He told me that HIS friends, on their way to Virginia for the festival, decided, “Screw it! Let’s just buy a pop-up!” and that’s what they did. They just pulled over and BOUGHT A POP-UP. Of course, as my friend explained, they’re DINKs (Double Income No Kids), and so it’s not so far out of the realm of possibility as it is for us SITKs. Soon after that I saw tons of Harrisonburg-ers. Most of my social circle was there, in fact. At first I was a little leery of leaving my belongings in the Blue Mountain brew garden, but then I realized if anyone stole from me, it wouldn’t be long before I caught that person with my pilfered item back home. The odds were that if you stole something, you’d be stealing from someone you knew. I was among friends. No one was stealin’ anything.

redwingrootsbeergarden redwingrootscoconut Brandy appeared out of nowhere and we headed over to see Pokey Lafarge, one of the festival’s favorites last year. He didn’t disappoint. His old-time concoction of saloon ragtime was refreshing and lively, complete with watermelon served directly to the crowd. The man is like a time capsule himself. So much of the past contained in that slender frame… he must be much older than he looks. He sang a song about River City and how to treat a lady, back when people gave a rip about that. Just kidding. Sorta.

redwingrootspokey7 redwingrootspokey8 redwingrootspokey10He also sang an old Hank, Sr. song, “Lovesick Blues,” which blended seamlessly with all his other work. It made me think about what breaking up used to mean… back when saying goodbye meant no contact. You saddled up your horse and rode out of your lover’s life forever. There was no turning around, no flying back the next day, no email or texting or social-media stalking. People probably broke up less back then than they do now because they understood the permanence of it. In a way that makes it easier than it is now.

redwingrootspokey2 redwingrootspokey3 redwingrootspokey4I spent some time during Pokey’s performance to check out some people’s festival gear. I saw lots of really cool, versatile, utilitarian back packs. Some even contained babies, in addition to all the other necessities: bug repellant, sunscreen, water, lip balm, sunglasses, hat… those things plus shoes you don’t really care about… but really very little else. I set my chair and blanket down when I first arrived and didn’t return to it until I left for the night.

I also noticed a resurgence (or maybe it never left?) of hippie clothing. This made me smile. I used to wear that stuff. Does this mean a bona fide resurgence of hippie-ism? I sure hope so, now that our post-Reaganomics, post-Lewinsky planet is a complete mess. My generation – Generation X – is officially old and tired. Come on, new hippies… we need you.
redwingrootsfans

redwingrootsgear1 redwingrootsfans2Next up were The Duhks. I’d never heard them before, and I LOVED THEM. These twelve-year “soulgrass” veterans out of Canada added a modern element to the festival with a blend of gospel, blues, bongos and tattoos. The singer took a break for one number and I actually missed her, but it turned into an all-out jam that got some feet moving and some wild-eyed spirits touching. Darkness fell and they played a few more. Fireflies appeared, decked out for the party in yellow. Little kids easily caught them and set them free. They’re the friendliest of all insects. They move slowly, they don’t seem to mind if you put them in a jar for a few minutes, I’ve never been bitten or stung by one… I’m not sure how that cute rear flasher could intimidate a predator. They must survive on karma. They make other organisms happy, and in return, nothing eats them.

redwingrootsduhks1 redwingrootsduhks3And then, what always happens happened: I lost my friends! And I just had to go with the flow because on this night, nothing really mattered and the whole world was my friend. People were lined up, squished together and screaming long before Trampled By Turtles even started. And when they started, a massive hoard of fans flooded in. I sat on the moist earth and watched their feet hurry by.

redwingrootsduhks2I had decided from the start that I would drive in and out each of the three days. I only live about twenty minutes from Mt. Solon, and my bony frame makes camping uncomfortable. I began to regret that decision while driving out, when my phone lit up like a Christmas tree with all the messages I’d missed.  But tomorrow held the promise of timelessness again.

redwingrootshoopboy redwingrootshoopgirl redwingrootskatieYou can read about Day Two of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival right here in a few days!

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

in with the old: shabby love.

shabby love antlers shabby love birds shabby love green cabinet shabby love lamp shabby love registershabby love leah2 shabby love leah calCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

old country: shabby love.

shabby love signI had this Ziggy tee shirt when I was a kid, and I probably wore it 360 days of the year for like three years. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was one of those shirts that, as soon as Mom washed it, it was back on my body. Now, as a mom myself, I find myself taking certain garments out of rotation at laundry time because I’m so dang sick of seeing that Angry Birds shirt.

But we all have things like the Ziggy tee shirt. Things we cherish and can’t seem to let go of, even when they’re tattered and no longer even fit us. When that happened, Grandma got out the sewing kit and I ended up with a new Ziggy pillow. Shabby as it was, I loved that shirt. It was soft, and it was familiar, and it was Ziggy.

There are other shabby things we love. Brandy’s Dale Earnhardt coffee mug, which belonged to her grandmother. Also her sofa: somehow the torn fabric and stuffing sticking out all over has made it more comfortable and lovable. When your $4000 mattress gives you a backache, where do you end up? That’s right – on the shabby 1973 sofa you pilfered from your childhood home.

A child’s blankie gets pretty shabby. There’s usually one corner of it that spends more time in the kid’s mouth than the rest of it… that part’s extra faded and permanently wrinkly… but those (seemingly disgusting) details are what define the blankie as “MINE!” and no one else’s. Special. And pants. We all have a pair of shabby sweat pants, jeans, yoga pants, pajama bottoms… in fact in my house, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Man, I can’t wait to put on my shabby pants.” We love shabby.

Old people, too, get kinda shabby. Now, I don’t mean that in any derogatory way. I feel I’m allowed to talk about old people because I was raised by an old person. I can also speak freely about nerds and awkward people because I belong to those groups. But when you visit an important old person in your life, and you smell her White Shoulders perfume and you see her shabby easy chair, the dent of the cushion reflecting the shape of her backside perfectly and you see her Desert Rose dishes and the rabbit ears on her Magnavox, admit it: you are tranquilized by nostalgia and you don’t want to leave.

And when you yearn for old things in your not-so-old life, so you can enjoy a feeling of nostalgia before you’re old enough to actually experience it… or if you ARE old but you unfortunately got rid of all your cool nostalgic belongings already, you can capture that feeling… at Shabby Love.

shabby love Leah1 shabby love kitchen tableShabby Love specializes in reclaiming, upcycling, and refurbishing old, otherwise unwanted stuff. And I don’t know about you, but I think things that have been rescued — buildings, pets, furniture, books — have a special kind of beauty. I walked through the store — with its wooden table and blue chest and green china cabinet and red side table and cheese grater light fixture — and I just wanted to take all those beautiful orphans home. To add to the personality of the furniture, each piece that’s been painted has a name. I met “Edna,” “Stan,” and “Maggie,” and they all certainly spoke to me.

shabby love blue dresserWe saw an old typewriter and old suitcases made of wood. WOOD. Who would want to lug around a solid wood suitcase?? Practical or not, those things are gorgeous. And saw beautiful lockets and pendants, necklaces and brooches and bracelets, hanging there… waiting.

shabby love necklace shabby love necklacesIf you’re curious about the paint they use, it’s called Chalk Paint, and you can even attend a workshop at Shabby Love on April 12th. Just sign up and bring a (reasonably sized) piece of (preferably rescued) furniture. They’ll supply the rest! And your life can be a little shabbier. Turns out shabby’s not too shabby after all.

shabby love chalk paint shabby love library shabby love mirrorCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

the thaw.

What do people do when they’re cooped up during an extra-long winter? They come up with tons of good ideas, and then unleash them all at once at the first sign of (finally!!) spring.

This is one of those weeks where you need serious equipment and endurance. A LOT of people have been working hard to put together A LOT of events, for YOU. Including First Friday artists and hosts. And Progressive Party hosts. And MACRoCk crazy people. And Women in Focus organizers. YES — all that and more is descending on our city this week. So pack your tent (just kidding — I don’t think you’re allowed to camp out), your Camelbak, your orthotics, and some Power Bars, because this week’s gonna deplete the heck out of you. In a good way.

Check out what’s Happyning right here!

xoxo!

time travel: factory antique mall, verona.

burgIMG_8471 burgIMG_8475 burgIMG_8476 burgIMG_8492 burgIMG_8504burgIMG_8488 Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

a hop and a skip: factory antique mall, verona.

So, after two years, some soul searching, and a few beers, Brandy and I decided to OCCASIONALLY stretch our pens and lens beyond Harrisonburg and cover some events and places elsewhere. Mainly because there aren’t any vineyards within the city limits. Lol. And dang it, we wanna have more wine-related experiences. So I created a new category here called “A Hop and a Skip!” and that’s where I’ll file posts that are about places that are just down the road from the friendly city, places that no doubt Harrisonburgonians frequent and would appreciate.

factory antique mall signDown the road a piece, in Verona to be exact, is a magical, mystical fortress filled with ancient relics, the likes of which you’ve maybe never seen. They have several of these bizarre contraptions called “telephones.” After you gain your composure, you might dare to gaze upon the “metal lunch boxes” — like The Muppets, Dukes of Hazzard, and — eeeek! — Knight Rider!!!!

factory antique mall trains and phonesfactory antique mall lunchboxesAnd lastly, they have these things called Laserdiscs — the very rare prehistoric ancestor of the DVD. Actually they have some 8-track tapes, too. I had a massive sense memory when I touched on of them: My friend Shannon and I once wrapped the dining room table and chairs in 8-track tape (man, I was a stupid kid) — The Muppets Soundtrack, Bay City Rollers, and Crystal Gayle, if you wanna know — and Dad was less than pleased. Brandy seemed to float on nostalgia itself, clear to another world, when she wandered into the record section. She got tangled up in there a while.

factory antique mall records factory antique mall records2She also got hung up looking through these boxes full of old photos. Photos of people she didn’t know at all, and photos of familiar places, captured before her birth. She must have looked at 300 old, loose, curled-edge photographs. She selected like four of them to purchase.

Set up like a giant flea market, the Factory Antique Mall has hundreds of vendor “booths” — some large, some small — where collectibles of all ages and prices are sold. The only windows are at the front, and that, plus the long, intersecting walkways caused me to be pretty much lost beyond hope after the first left turn. Mind you — I was not born with an internal GPS. I can’t play Minecraft because I lose myself in my own creation. Heck, I can’t even point to the parking lot when I’m in the grocery store. So I’m not saying it’s the Factory Antique Mall’s fault if I get lost in there. It’s definitely mine. I’m just saying that if you’re directionally challenged, consider bringing a compass or harnessing yourself to your companion with one of those kid-leash things. After all, it’s the largest antique mall on the east coast at over 90,000 square feet.

factory antique mall corridorAnyway, I couldn’t possibly list all that’s in there, but they have weapons (guns, knives, swords), movies and music in all formats, tobacco pipes, old bottles and tins, masks, hats, and clothing.

burgIMG_8498They have TONS of furniture and books, and the toy section is crazy. Just crazy. On a previous trip I scored a 12″ Luke Skywalker for Bree, a 1968 Spirograph, a 1971 Battleship Game, and a pumpkin Beanie Baby for Cal. They also have Star Wars, Star Trek, and GI Joe figures, Transformers, comics, and even Beverly Hillbillies paraphernalia. Oh, and Alf.

factory antique mall alfAnd this wall of games. Of particular note — “Crow Shoot,” “Smurfs,” and “Mork and Mindy.”

factory antique mall gamesAnd don’t forget Barbies!

factory antique mall barbiesFor your more adult side, there’s all sorts of sports memorabilia (Stadium Suite used to be downtown but moved in here), jewelry, Americana, lamps, dishes, crystal, holiday decor, and lots of other household items.

factory antique mall furniture factory antique mall collectibles1factory antique mall americanaIf you decide to go, wear comfortable shoes. Allow plenty of time. There’s a little cafe for re-energizing snack breaks. Don’t forget your compass. Expect to say “Wow!!” about a thousand times, and prepare yourself for the onslaught of memories and emotions that will overtake you when you see the Six-Million Dollar Man on a clock. That place is a trip. And it’s only a hop and a skip!

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

things are happyning.

This week brings us St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of, uh, spring. And Harrisonburg just wants to celebrate all week from the looks of this line up! Sheesh! Put on your cute spring dress, drape a wool coat over it, and put your flip flops in your purse for when you get there. There’s LOTS to do this week! Check it out here!

play innocent: explore more children’s museum.

explore more theater1 explore more ipad explore more painting bw

happy birthday, explore more!

happy birthday, explore more!

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

precipitation.

As I sit here, the rain is pouring down. Soon it’ll be sleet, then ice, then apparently a whole lot of snow. Yes, I went to the grocery store today. But hardly anyone was there. Hundreds of loaves of bread stuffed the shelves. Not one empty space in the milk cooler. There were a few dents in the beer aisle, but that’s probably normal no matter what the weather. I think collectively the city has declared to Mother Nature, “Eh, who cares,” even though we’re getting every form of precipitation there is in a 12-hour span.

But “precipitation” isn’t just about weather. It also means a sudden acceleration. And when you get a peek at this week’s Happynings, you’re gonna want to put on your boots, shovel out your car, and accelerate on down the street to some awesome events! Have a look for yourself! xoxo!

play by play: explore more children’s museum.

explore more signAh, the Explore More Discovery Museum. That place to go when your kids’ energy waaaaay exceeds your own. That place where, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 to 5pm, your kids can laugh, learn, and make noise. Where you can meet up with your other parent friends and their kids for an epic play date or a super-cool birthday party. Where kids can enjoy classes and exhibits and demonstrations not offered anywhere else. Where friendly volunteers will clean up so your own house can stay a little neater for a few hours. And where run-down parents can grab a cup of coffee (yes, coffee!) and find a place to sit while their kids have at it.

Brandy and I took the four kids there a few weeks back. We’ve been going there for a long time — since the old Children’s Museum. Remember that one? It was next to the TV3 station. I loved the openness of it and the raised theater area in the back. In some ways, and maybe only because I remember how little and cute my kids were during that time, I miss that old place. But then the museum moved to its current location, next to the Massanutten Regional Library, and I must say I’ve grown to love its new incarnation even more.

The lobby is spacious and holds a beautiful round reception desk. To the right are displays that represent the many generous donors who’ve contributed to the exhibits. To the left is a large gift shop with lots of unusual and special toys. And straight ahead is that lovely tree that lights up at night.

explore more sponsor wallThe Museum is divided into eleven sections, each with a different theme and type of play, sure to entertain every child and adult who walks in. If you’re having a particularly peppy day, here are some fun things you can experience with your child:

You can play customer and mechanic in the Super Service Center. This simulated mechanic’s garage features a cute blue car, on which you can change the tires and oil, replace the muffler, and check tire pressure. There’s also a service desk with a phone and an appointment schedule. Or how about playing shopper and cashier in the Farmer’s Market? This dream of a market features lots of fruit and veggies that are always in season, never spoil, and don’t bruise when you drop them on the floor. You can even weigh your purchases, then take them to CK’s Kitchen and prepare a yummy meal. I must say, I love that kitchen and feel compelled to straighten it up every time I’m in there. I love the little velcro cookies and the play cookware, all against the backdrop of a gorgeous, very real kitchen with beautiful wooden cabinets and a nice table.

explore more mechanic explore more kitchenYou can milk a cow with your kid at Down on the Farm. She even moos! There’s a real tractor and a big red barn with a slide! And this cute chicken display with eggs. If you’ve got little ones who are still a little shaky on their little legs, you can visit Over the Meadow, a special fenced-in area for visitors 3 and under with toys and activities just their size.

You and your youngster can put on a puppet show in the Great Outdoors section, especially since you’ve got at least four arms available. Just behind it are picnic tables and snack machines when you all need a pick-me-up. One of my favorite areas is the Science Lab. Here you can look at all sorts of things under real microscopes, examine lots of animal specimens, and solve scientific puzzles. Across the way is the Friendly City TV Studio. You and your child can co-anchor the news and see yourselves on the TV. You can even do the weather in front of a green screen!

And then there’s Art Smart — a room full of art supplies, tables and chairs, easels, and even a sink and a drying rack for your creations. Why not paint portraits of each other in there?  You can take with you whatever you create. I have to confess, Art Smart is always my first destination when we go to the Museum. Not because I’m some kind of great artist or anything, but because… I like to pick the dried glue off the Elmer’s bottles <cringe>. I get some strange looks because my kids are usually somewhere else in the Museum, and there I am, kidless, this strange woman extracting massive glue boogers from the bottles. Brandy’s an art teacher, you know, and sometimes on really stressful days, I walk down to her classroom and just start picking like crazy. Okay. I’m sure that’s probably more than you wanted to know…

explore more paintingYou could let your kid operate on you in the Friendly City Health Center. This exhibit is pretty impressive with its real-life ambulance — the lights flash and everything — and real medical equipment, like crutches and knee braces. And, there’s that giant life-size version of Operation, where instead of tiny tweezers, you use these giant tongs to remove life-size bones from the patient. And you can even race each other on two stationary bikes attached to a map that lights up to show how far you’ve pedaled.

explore more ambulance explore more operationYou can entomb your child in foam blocks in the Construction Zone and then let him kick them down. Blake and Cal spent most of their visit in this area, building and knocking down and building again. They also have those really cool Keva blocks and a marble maze toy.

explore more buildingAnd finally, if you’re still not completely wiped out, you can dress up, paint each other’s faces, and put on a show in the Virginia Theater. The girls, including Brandy and me because the theater seats are super-comfy, spent a lot of time here. This exhibit has a ticket booth with money, a large makeup area with several stools and mirrors, a stage with multiple backgrounds kids can easily change because they slide on a rod like a shower curtain, a backstage area with tons of costumes, and a light and sound booth that really works. There’s a spotlight and sound effects and different tints of lights… there’s enough to do that every kid has a role.

explore more face paintexplore more theater2And, if you’re not totally exhausted and brain-fried after all that, you can sit down and play a nice game of oversized chess. There are other little things here and there, too, like Rosie the Tarantula (yes!) and a mailbox, and more. And good news on the horizon! The Museum is very close to expanding to the second floor! I’m especially excited about this because the second floor will feature some areas designed for older kids. Now would be a great time to get a membership and make a donation if you can.

Without the membership, you’re still welcome at the Museum for $6 per person. But with family memberships starting at just $95 a year, why not just join? You’ll also get access to their drop-in programs throughout the week and discounts on classes and birthday parties. For about $30 more, you can get a reciprocal membership that will get you a 50% discount at more than 200 other children’s museums in the US. You could spend the summer visiting a different Museum each week for very little cost! There are other memberships, too, for different types of families and grandparents.

If you’re still on the fence, you can visit the Museum for FREE on First Fridays downtown — the next one is in one week — March 7. I’m not sure what I would do without that place. It’s been my rainy day, snowy day, sunny day, cranky day go-to for years and years… and when I worry that my kids might “outgrow it,” I remember that I’m 41 and I still haven’t outgrown anything in that place! When you see me in there this Saturday, please say hi! I’ll be that weird lady picking the glue bottles.

explore more art room 1Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

attention! attention!

I was gonna say that the Happynings this week might look a little skimpy… but they don’t, really. The reason they might look skimpy is because I REMOVED ALLLL THE FOOD AND DRINK SPECIALS that I suspect might no longer be valid. The reason they DON’T actually look skimpy is because Harrisonburg’s so awesome that there’s still plenty to do unrelated to eating and drinking.

So, if you are a bartender/employee/owner of a local restaurant not listed this week, please email me at katie@ilovemyburg.com, or message me through our Facebook page, describe your weekly food/drink special, and I will gladly add it back on. If I’ve never mentioned your event on Happynings, I’m happy to do that, too. It’s a free service, so please send me the info! I’m also working on reconnecting some links that were glitchy/nonfunctioning/generally flicted.

Thanks for helping me get up to speed! Have a super week, and here are your Happynings!

get your act together, Winter.

Does anyone else feel like Nature’s just a wee bit disorganized this winter?
Sheesh. We had that bizarre monsoon last week, followed by a little snow, more rain, wind, rain again, now an “arctic blast” with crack-your-face-in-half wind chills, and later this week it’ll be in the fifties?? Come on!

Meanwhile, my daughter has come down with some horrible virus that doctors can’t identify. I mean, she’s okay… she’s going to be fine… but how much snot can one tiny nose manufacture?? And the fever!! Jeepers!

And because I’m frustrated and need someone to blame, I BLAME THE WEATHER. Get your act together, Winter! Anyway, to help you feel somewhat organized, here’s a list of what’s happening in the Burg this week. Remember, you can email me here (katie@ilovemyburg.com) or send me a FB invitation and I’ll be happy to include your local event on the Happynings page. But you gotta do it by Saturday of the week before your event.

Have a great week, everyone! Stay warm! and then cool. and dry. or whatever — may you be comfortable!

purrrrty portraits: wonderkittens 2013.

Last shots from Brandy and Denise’s braincat, Wonderkitten!

It’s Christmas Eve, and we wish you a peaceful, relaxing, and happy holiday. When you’re out and about afterwards, swing by Larkin Arts to see these child/artist portraits before they come down!

burgIMG_2749bw burgIMG_2758 burgIMG_2772bw burgIMG_2777bw burgIMG_2791 burgIMG_2812bw burgIMG_2826bw burgIMG_2840
Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

purrfect strangers: wonderkittens 2013.

___
–>wonderkitten bookwonderkitten fans1wonderkitten food2 bw wonderkitten food1wonderkitten comicwonderkitten tripwonderkitten nick melas bw wonderkitten food3wonderkitten artery bwwonderkitten fans2wonderkitten VSCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

the warm fuzzies: wonderkittens 2013.

wonderkitten signLet’s face it. Being a grownup just isn’t as fun as we thought it would be. When we were young, we couldn’t wait to be older… so we could stay up late, or watch a PG movie, or go on a date, or learn to drive. Once we reached those milestones (and all the buzz-killing responsibilities that accompany them), we longed again for our youth, back when no one was really relying on us, when sticks and rocks were far more valuable than money, when we measured time in increments of Sesame Street episodes. THAT was freedom. Remember it?

If you’re having a hard time remembering, I have a remedy. Spend some time with a kid. If you don’t have a kid handy, I have some I can loan you. When you spend time with a kid, you start by teaching them all the amazing, profound things you know. Then at some point, you realize you know nothing, and the child in front of you is the one who has it all figured out. And for a fleeting moment you glimpse the innocence and joy and unfettered love you were born with which has been buried under all your adult baggage. You can’t BE a kid again, but you can be WITH a kid… and that’s like the best of both worlds.

wonderkkitten music2wonderkitten fansThese worlds collided in a beautiful way when Brandy and Denise hatched yet another mind-blowing idea: why not pair up an adult, working artist with a creative youngster, and let them immortalize each other in a portrait? Let the child see what the adult sees, and more importantly, let the adult look once again through the tender eyes of a child. Moments after they thought it, Brandy and Denise set out to do it, and therefore, they did it. Because that’s what happens when those two get together.

wonderkitten ella flowersThey named the portrait show Wonderkittens. It’s goal was to “bridge the gap between the untapped creative mind of a child and a thriving, working, independent artist.” After securing several willing artists and children, Denise and Brandy created an online survey for everyone to complete, which helped them match the kids with compatible artists.
pairsThe artist’s role was to mentor the child, guiding him or her through the process of creating a portrait, adhering to a deadline, respecting craftsmanship, promoting the show, working together, and all else that goes into a collaborative project. The role of the child was to make the artist giggle with wild abandon, forget what time it was for a little while, remember with fondness his or her own childhood, and maybe secretly swing by McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. :)

wonderkitten_-_ wonderkitten____What actually happened was an incredible display of patience and tenderness on both sides. My daughter COULD NOT WAIT for her weekly session with her artist partner — Wednesdays at 7pm at the Dodger. She gratefully, and with more seriousness than I expected, soaked up his every word. He showed her, with unending generosity and kindness, all about pens and ink and paper and different comic styles. Other artists found ways to “get together” even when schedules clashed — through Skype or Facetime or even over the good old phone. One child wanted to create more than one portrait of her artist partner, and that’s just what she did, filling a whole corner of the Larkin gallery all by her cute self!

wonderkitten ___wonderkitten _--_I’m not sure the last time I saw so much cuteness in one place. Larkin Arts hosted the Wonderkittens opening on December’s First Friday. There were snack and drinks (thank you, Kathy Whitten!) kid-friendly music by Nick Melas, interactive art work by our local troupe Artery (Wes Way, you are an awesome human being!), and of course all the portraits.

wonderkitten musicwonderkitten artery1wonderkitten artery4 wonderkitten artery3 wonderkitten artery2The artists were used to seeing their work on a wall… the kids were really thrilled! And there, in that act, the gap was bridged. Perhaps the artists remembered when their art was displayed for others to see for the very first time. Perhaps the children, for the very first time, saw themselves as artists.

wonderkitten lynda_ wonderkitten morgan_ wonderkitten john_ wonderkitten ella_chriswonderkitten denise _ wonderkitten ben_ wonderkitten bree_tripwonderkitten _ wonderkitten __For me personally, I am extremely grateful to the grownups of this community who have not just touched but improved my children’s lives. I am so, so glad I live here. I am so, so glad my children are growing up here, amongst all you lovely people…. especially, these two:
wonderkitten D and B

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

holy cow, it’s almost Christmas.

Today, I’m pooped.

Somehow, in 6 hours yesterday, Michael and I started AND finished our Christmas shopping for five children, AND got all the presents “wrapped.” I use that term loosely, because some of the presents look like wadded up holiday paper you normally see after the gifts have been opened. Oh well. I doubt they’ll notice :)

Have you started your shopping?

Wait, are you one of those people who finished their Christmas shopping before Halloween? If not, don’t worry! You’ve still got plenty of time and plenty of awesome, local businesses with really super gifts. Trust me, I have horrible shopping endurance. If I can get it done on time, anyone can.

So get out there, Harrisonburg, and spend some local bucks. And while you’re out, have a little fun with all the great things happyning this week!

market value: holiday art market 2013.

Don’t forget, everyone! You have a second chance to shop at the art market — THIS SATURDAY, December 14 from 1 – 5 at Larkin Arts. More than 15 vendors! So many unique gifts! Yay for second chances!!

Roy Willams soapstone 1bwLarkin Arts customers1 Larkin Arts cookiesKelley Denise EmilybwI see youburgIMG_2267Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

okay, so it’s a little icky.

Okay, so it’s a little icky out there, and maybe your Christmas shopping plans went out the window. I hear ya. I’m a tad behind, too. But maybe today can be one of those spend-time-with-family-get-caught-up-on-laundry-redo-all-my-todo-lists days. And then when this icy stuff clears up, you can hit ground running! Lots happening in the Burg this week!

Check out the Happynings here!