When Sagan was 14 weeks old, Ryan and I took him to the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Nature Preserve. Last week, I was able to take him, now 22-months old, on a return trip. That empowered me to snag a quick “Sagan Compare”. Enjoy!
Left – October 17, 2011 – Sagan is 3 months old, Mommy is 3 months post-partum (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Right – May 5, 2013 – Sagan is almost 22 months old, Mommy is 30 weeks pregnant (Photo by Merry Leigh)
My mother accompanied Sagan and I on a weekend to Blacksburg, Virginia. The weekend went by super fast, but on the way home, we were able to meet some of my friends for a quick hike at the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Nature Preserve. I’ve been there numerous times before, but this time was one of the most beautiful of trips. Not only did the falls look spectacular, but we were greeted with a rather large variety of blooming wildflowers.
Some snippets of the falls:
A snippet of the wildflowers:
More photos of our Falls Ridge Wildflower Hike can be found on my Flickr site.
|Falls Ridge Preserve
Length: You can make it as long or as short as you want
Elevation Gain: Flat, except for a hill to the top of the falls.
Driving and Parking: The final approach to the preserve is a flat gravel road. There is plenty of parking.
Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Back in 2007, I had a post called “Hooray for Powerlines and Prisons” where I talked about the surprise greenspace provided by the old prison in Lorton, Virginia. At the time, I had heard there were plans to turn that land into parks. I speculated “I bet those parks end up kicking ass” and now over six years later I can confirm that speculation.
One April Friday evening, Ryan and I had just enough daylight to take Sagan out for a quick hike. We drove up to the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center, parked our car, and hiked the Slaughterhouse Trail.
This trail is mainly intended as a mountain bike trail. As a side benefit, there are obstacles and ramps for the bikes that make nice little challenges/playgrounds for walking toddlers.
The namesake of the trail is an old slaughterhouse for the prison. It adds a nice “creep factor” to the woods which is usually indigenous to say, Burkittsville, Maryland.
We saw a dead opossum, a dead raccoon, and a really big discarded snake skin inside the slaughterhouse. As far as living creatures, we saw plenty of birds and squirrels. Sagan got to take in a nice nest of baby caterpillars. Ryan and I spotted a few ticks crawling on us, but luckily none found their way to Sagan (It would be another two days before Sagan would be graced with his very first tick).
Lots of evergreens and your typical trees you would see in the area such as tulip poplars. But the highlight of the flora this trip were the seeding dandelions!
Future Trail Maintainer?
At Leesylvania State Park, Sagan showed an aptitude for personal training. On this hike, he showed his might also have an interest in trail maintenance as well. He was very good and thorough about throwing pine cones off the trail. When he found some nice brown pine boughs, he announced, “Brush! Brush!” and started brushing the trail. Perhaps that’s also a sign he’s got a little bit of thru-hiker innovation in him as well.
More pictures of our quick hike to the Slaughterhouse Trail can be found on my Flickr site.
[A repost from Facebook. The image still cracks me up, so I wanted it somewhere easier to retrieve than that blackhole known as "Timeline"]
On the Fitness Trail at Leesylvania State Park, Ryan Somma took some pictures of me doing the overhead ladder.
When I finished, Ryan noted, “The most impressive part of that was your tongue.” He reported it was hanging out the entire time I was traversing across.
Eh, no biggie. Michael Jordan does that too, right?. When I got home, however, I discovered I didn’t look a thing like Michael Jordan. I seem to bear a much stronger resemblance to Odie! : ) : ) : )
As hectic and life-changing Ryan and I find parenting to sometimes be, we both realize there are luxuries we have…courtesy of the live-in grandmother we have at our house. One such luxury– on Sundays, my mother watches the little boy and Ryan and I get to go to the gym and workout together. I rather fancy weight-lifting with my spouse, particularly when he executes his shoulder press sets, so it is an outing I typically look forward to.
A few Sundays ago, however, we had a great deal of home improvement tasks and as afternoon turned to late afternoon, it was clear we weren’t going to make the gym. Instead, we decided to take our son out to Woodbridge, Virginia’s Leesylvania State Park for some outdoor fun.
Now, I always look forward to being outside, but there was definitely part of me that was disappointed I was going to miss my gym date. Little did I know, there is something better than working out with your spouse– Working out with your spouse AND your son!
We parked, we started our way on the Bushey Pointe Trail and lo and behold we discovered it was one of those fitness trails where they have different stations set up for you to try out different exercises. We all, Sagan included, had fun experimenting at stations and then jogging to the next one.
Just as some exercises have to be modified for pregnancy, Sagan had to modify some of the stations for toddlerhood.
When we let Sagan do some assisted pullups, Ryan noted that Sagan was holding his own bodyweight. Yet, we were still surprised a few stations later when Sagan grabbed onto a tricep dip bar and started having the time of his life doing leg lifts.
Future Personal Trainer?
We also found Sagan to show signs of being an effective personal trainer. At one point, he was watching Ryan doing reverse push-ups.
I guess Sagan decided that exercise wasn’t challenging enough for Ryan. So he decided to add a little more resistance to the mix.
Or there was the time when Ryan just finished up the last of his Bar Jump sets when Sagan, supervising from one of the bars, ordered, “ONE MORE!”. : )
Sagan wasn’t singling poor Ryan out. Later, when Sagan was trying to do his own version of bar jumps, he showed the self motivation to do “one more” of his own.
And when we all finished our stations, we had the beautiful Potomac to take in as we continued to the hike the Bushey Pointe Trail and the Powell Trails. By the end of the outing, missing out on the gym with my husband was just a distant memory. : )
More pictures of our trip on the Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park can be found on my Flickr site.
| Bushey Pointe Trail in Leesylvania State Park
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr.
Length: 1-2 miles
Fees Weekdays $4, Weekends $5
Directions from Occoquan, VA
This morning, Ryan and I tag-teamed breakfast. Ryan got Sagan situated in his chair with a inventory of cereal and berries. Then when I got my groggy rear downstairs, Ryan ran back upstairs to shower.
I made myself some oatmeal and strawberries, grabbed some soy milk, and sat down next to the little boy who immediately put his spoon down and started to enthusiastically point.
“TREE! TREE!” he shouted proudly. He was very clearly pointing right at…ME!
Well, I may start the 3rd trimester tomorrow, but I’m not definitely not THAT big, at least not yet, so I was a little confused.
Then I looked down.
It turns out I had slept in a shirt from the American Chestnut Foundation. Only I had put it on backwards (Hey, I’m not superwoman. I can’t mother, work, and be bothered with frivolous details like what direction my clothes are on. Hehe). As a result, a beautiful botanical drawing by artist Bruce Lyndon Cunningham was on my chest.
I smiled. “You’re right, Sagan. That is a tree!!!”
“TREE!” Sagan agreed.
With that, we resumed our breakfasts and had a most delightful Friday morning.
Last summer, I was at the gym and encountered a woman focused and working hard with her personal trainer. You could see the twinkle in her eye. She was sweating and definitely challenged, but she also had that thrill you get when you realize how strong and capable your body really is. Although I was a stranger, we must have had a moment of camaraderie there in the weight room because at one point she looked up at me and said, “I’ve never been so happy to have been called fat in my entire life.”
It turns out, she fancied a man who did not share her affection. He explained in simple, albeit blunt, terms why.
But she took that moment and used it as motivation. Even though months have passed and our gym is now a whole 17 minutes further away, I still see her occassionally. Still focused, still working hard.
I’m currently pushing 27 weeks with my second pregnancy. The other day I was indulging in a shower (motherhood has definitely increased my appreciation of a good, long shower). As I bathed, I found myself singing a number of 60s tunes that reminded me of my deceased father.
And then I remembered how around this time last pregnancy, there would be mornings where I would go downstairs and he would be in the kitchen cooking sausage or bacon or other red meat temptations. He would look at me and greet me with, “You’re getting faaaat!” I think at the time, I laughed politely, but it’s not exactly what a pregnant girl wants to hear.
But this week, nine months after his death, when I got out of the shower, I noticed my increasing girth in the mirror (it’s kinda hard to miss these days ). I thought of my father getting that infectious smile of his and those mischievous wrinkles around his eyes. I thought about him calling me fat and this time, I could clearly see his underlying excitement of what that actually meant– a new grandson.
And I smiled.
Like that woman at the gym, I too found surprise happiness in being called fat.