Archive for June, 2011

Mountains and Maternity!

Last weekend, Ryan and I traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia for a baby shower thrown by my Southwestern Virginian friends. At 33 weeks, we have an awful lot to celebrate and be excited about. All that joy was compounded on Sunday with a reunion with the mountains!

Before heading back home, Ryan and I took a detour to the one of the most photographed points on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee’s Knob (as seen on the Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate). We ascended 1200 feet and had a round trip of about 7.5 miles. Amazingly enough, even though McAfee’s Knob is a very popular hike, when Ryan and I arrived at the top, we had it all to ourselves!

A happy moment from a happy day from a very happy time in my life!

McAfee's Knob - Mountains and Motherhood (by Ryan Somma)
Mountains and Motherhood!!! (Photo by Ryan Somma)

June 30, 2011 at 1:00 am 6 comments

Happy Birthday, American Chestnut

Our Restoration Chestnuts from the American Chestnut Foundation were planted on June 17th and June 18th of 2010. That means they celebrated their first birthday this past week! I took this opportunity to pose with my largest birthday tree (who is getting acclimated to my new front yard where it’s going to be planted!!!). It’s leaves are now chest-height on a 5’5″ pregnant lady.

American Chestnut - Birthday Tree and Vicky - Cropped
Birthday Chestnut and Pregnant Vicky

Happy Birthday Chestnuts!!!! XXX OOO XXX

June 21, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Alex and Ryn’s Wedding

Our third full day in Washington State was Alex and Ryn’s wedding day! They got married at beautiful Swans Trail Farms in Snohomish, Washington. The gorgeous scenery was only enhanced by the scattered Pacific Northwest rain showers we had that day.

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Blooms and Ceremony Site
Blooms and the Ceremony Site

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Reception - Torch and Bridge
Torch in the Rain and Bridge

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Reception - Vicky and Ryan (By Brian N)
Ryan and I Pose Briefly in the Rain

There were a number of things I loved about the wedding. I was quite a fan of their processional song. They picked No Doubt’s “Running”! They had another great musical selection for the joint Mother-Son/Father-Daughter Dance. They picked “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Unplanned, all the guests surrounding the dancing couples started to sing along. Although a rain shower started during the ceremony, you couldn’t stop the smiles of the bride and the groom and their immediate family. Everyone was so, so happy!

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Ceremony - Alex and Ryn Listen to Alex's Parents 1
Listening to the Groom’s Parents

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Ceremony - Ryn Ring Exchange
The Bride Smiles Despite the Rain

What was most impressive about the wedding was all the handmade work behind it. Alex’s fiance, Ryn, has proven to be quite craftsy. She handmade an American Chestnut Foundation/Port Discover Themed card for Ryan and I at our wedding. With her own wedding, Ryn took on an ambitious endeavor. All the flowers (not to mention invitations and place cards and table markers) would be handmade! Now Ryan and I had a lot of handmade stuff at our wedding…. BUT we had a whole neighborhood of kids on hand to help. Ryn did recruit a number of people across the country to help make flowers (One of my contributions were the Coffee Filter Roses), but I still think the logistics of that is significantly more impressive than walking out on your front porch and saying, “Hey, you! Wanna wrap this in tulle?” : )

Although Ryn admitted at one point feeling overwhelmed by the whole flower endeavor, it came out splendidly. The centerpieces were AWESOME! Each one was a mixture of handmade flowers from friends and family across the continent. They were eccletic, gorgeous and a nice visual representation of all the love for the couple! All the favors (handmade felt flower magnets) were adorable. The wedding party bouquets were unique keepsakes. Even the table napkins were origami lotuses!

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Ceremony - Megan 2
Bridesmaid with Two Handmade Bouquets

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Reception - Handmade Flower Centerpieces
The Handmade Flower Centerpieces

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Reception - Lotus Napkin and Favor
Lotus Napkin and Felt Magnet Favor

Ryn and Alex's Wedding - Reception - Guest Locations
Felt Flowers Line a Bulletin Board Where Guests Mark Where They are From

On top of all that, this event also delivered on my two favorite parts of weddings. Cake (They had NINE different cakes to choose from) and Dancing! Lots and lots of dancing. It was a quite a blast and a very happy day!

More pictures of Ryn and Alex’s Wedding can be found on my Flickr site.

June 20, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Surprise Father Son Time

On Sunday night (31 weeks and 1 day in) I was pretty pooped after a long day and fell asleep early. When Ryan retired, he placed his hand on my belly and discovered the baby was awake and in a very active mood. While I slept oblivious to it all, Ryan got to savor the movements of his unborn son.

You know what I love about that story? I get plenty of opportunities to be alone with the baby. I am, afterall, in possession of the uterus. But that moment was Ryan’s and just Ryan’s and it was he who got to enjoy some one-on-one time for once.

Father-Son Time…In Utero.

June 14, 2011 at 1:00 am 4 comments

The Pacific Science Center

After our visit to the Space Needle, Brian N, Ryan and I had a quick lunch and then waltzed over to the Pacific Science Center. This place was an absolute blast! The Pacific Science Center excels in hands-on activities. We very much enjoyed a number of the exhibits.

Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time
This exhibit was less hands-on than most of the others, but still full of interesting tidbits and factoids. They also managed to find a way to work The Far Side cartoons into the exhibit.

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - T-rex and Shadow
T-Rex and Shadows

Science on a Sphere
Around the Science on a Sphere display were a number of astrological displays. I got to check to see what my pregnancy weight would be on the various planets. I was a little concerned until Ryan stepped on the scale and I saw his “Earth Weight” was running high as well. I also got to fact check an Isaac Asimov story I read recently. Venus is indeed hotter than Mercury. Finally, I found amusement by the display were you could touch a real meteor rock. Ryan and I have meteorite inlays in our wedding rings… so we get to touch meteor rocks every day. : )

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Touch a Meteor
Vicky’s Left Hand (Sporting a Meteorite Wedding Ring) Touching a Meteroite

Animal Exhibits
They had a wonderful reptile section including a mesmorizing leopard gecko. I think our group favorite was the Naked Mole Rat Colony. They were well lit and busy little critters. In their community, road rage and pedestrian range doesn’t appear to exist. It was completely socially acceptable to trample over your colleagues carrying a carrot. No one seemed to mind one bit. I could have watched those things all day.

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Naked Mole Rat Colonies (By Ryan Somma)
The Naked Mole Rat Display (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Naked Mole Rats (By Ryan Somma)
Naked Mole Rats (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Kids Works and Science Playground
Here, we had a good time playing with motors and mirrors. We particularly enjoyed posing for the “Shadow Wall”, a photo-sensitive wall that would record your shadow after a regular flash. Unfortunately, those pictures didn’t come out that well. Many women struggle to lose their bellies after pregnancy. At the Pacific Science Center, I found a means to lose mine instantly before the baby is even born! : )

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - How to Erase a Pregnancy (By Ryan Somma) - Cropped
Instant Stomach Flattener!

Body Works
Body Works was super fun. We took turns maxing out the calorie counter bicycles, testing our reaction time, guessing smells, getting seriously humbled by the muscle endurance tests and checking our center of gravity.

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Brian Center of Gravity
Testing Center of Gravity

Insect Village
The insect village was pretty neat and we arrived just in time to hold a hissing cockroach. I also found a nice little spot to put my feet up.

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Vicky Rests on Caterpillar (By Brian N)
Resting on a Caterpillar (Photo by Brian N)

Tropical Butterfly House
The finale of our visit to Tropical Butterfly House. At 4000 square feet and with 500 butterflies imported weekly, it really blew away the Butterfly Pavilion I saw at the Smithsonian in 2008.

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Pink and Black Butterfly on Leaf (Off Center)
Pink and Butterfly on Leaf

Seattle - Pacific Science Center - Yellow Butterfly on Red Flower
Yellow Butterfly

We started our day being disappointed in the Science Fiction Museum. We ended our day with opposite sentiments about the Pacific Science Center. : )

More pictures of our visit to the Pacific Science Center can be found on my Flickr site.

June 13, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Space Needle

After our disappointing visit to the Science Fiction Museum and noting the weather was currently sunny and clear, Ryan, Brian N and I headed over to the Space Needle. Lines were short and the elevator ride was only 40 seconds long. Before we knew it, we were at the top taking in stunning views.

Seattle - Space Needle - View 2

Seattle - Space Needle - View 4

Seattle - Space Needle - View 6

Brian N and I have been friends since my sophmore year of high school. In the past 20 years, his keenly calibrated observations have brought me a lot of laughter. The Space Needle was no exception. At the top, we were all reading a seemingly benign sign about the history of the structure. Brian drew our attention to Edward Carlson’s original sketch of his vision. It looked like a kindergartener drew it!

Seattle - Space Needle - Original Concept
Original Space Needle Concept

Brian started to mock the design and speculated on the hand off of the design to the architects and engineers.

“You see what I’m going for, right?”

I laughed and laughed and laughed, just as I did in high school, just as I did in college and just as I continue to do well into adulthood.

On our way back down the Space Needle, our elevator gave us a preview of our next destination – The Pacific Science Center!

Seattle - Space Needle - Pacific Science Center From Elevator
The Pacific Science Center From the Space Needle Elevator

More pictures of our Space Needle visit can be found on my Flickr site.

June 10, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Seattle’s Science Fiction “Museum”

Our first day in Washington State was a nature-themed day where we hiked Cougar Mountain and visited American chestnuts. The second day was intended to be a science-themed day. My high school classmate, Brian N, was also in town for the same upcoming wedding so he joined us for a day of site-seeing in Seattle!

Our very first stop was the Science Fiction “Museum”. I put the word museum in quotes because I believe a museum should be a collection of exhibits (plural). This museum had one Science Fiction exhibit– Battlestar Galatica. It was a nice exhibit, but still just one exhibit. Apparently, the remaining Science Fiction Galleries were under renovations to accommodate a new Avatar exhibit that opens June 4th.

Seattle - Science Fiction Museum - Museum and Space Needle
Science Fiction Museum

The Science Fiction Museum was one of the few things on our agenda before we left Virginia, so we were pretty disappointed with what was actually there.

There was a small bright side. Your entry fee also included the Experience Music Project, which was hosting “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses“. Nirvana was my favorite band in high school and early college. It was a nice trip down memory lane in more ways than one. A lot of the handwritten letters, drawings and Polaroids reminded me of my own youth, particularly winter and summer breaks from college. The long nights at Denny’s; all the free time for creativity; concerts in compact, sweat-filled venues; impromptu road trips; spiral notebooks full of aspirations and witnessing young genius (AE).

And I got to learn a little more about Nirvana as well. I liked how the “NIRVANA” font I am so accustomed to wasn’t purposely selected. It was the typeset already in the machine when the Bleach album cover was designed. Since Ryan and I are currently reading up on birthing processes, I also liked that Cobain came up with the idea for the Nevermind cover after watching a film on water births. : )

Seattle - Science Fiction Museum - Vicky and Ryan in Front of Nirvana Poster (By Brian N)
Ryan and I in Front of the Nirvana Sign (Photo by Brian N)

Usually this is where I saw there are more pictures on my Flickr site… but it’s not worth a click. My Science Fiction Museum set only has five pictures in it… and none are related to science fiction. 😦

June 9, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

How to Sound Like an Idiot in Washington State

As Ryan and I drove from Bellevue, Washington down to Tumwater to see the American chestnuts, we started to spy some large mountains on the horizon.

“Ooh,” I said dreamily as I tend to do in the vicinity of mountains, “I wonder which one is Rainier.”

I was expecting something like the mountains in Southwest Virginia, where it took me years (and a lot of counsel from Tony Airaghi) to pick up on the small differences of the various peaks. Such is not the case with Rainier. The very next bend Ryan and I went around, it became exceedingly obvious which mountain was Rainier.

Mount Rainier from Seattle
Gee… Which Mountain is Rainier? (Photo by Seattle.roamer)

It absolutely dominates all around it… and it’s a beauty!

June 8, 2011 at 1:00 am 8 comments

American Chestnuts in Tumwater, Washington

After our wonderful hike at Cougar Mountain, Ryan and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Yea’s Wok in Newcastle, Washington. Then we headed south to an atypical tourist destination– The Mills and Mills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Tumwater, Washington.
Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Home Sweet Home
Our Tourist Destination

We were led there by a small snippet from a Discover Magazine article, I had read in 2004 entitled “Return of the King of Trees“. This article was my very first exposure to the American chestnut. It’s safe to say the article made an impact on me… and in said article, they just happened to mention “the largest healthy American chestnut in the United States” resided in Tumwater in what used to be called Olympic Memorial Park.

It took a few Google searchs and a phone call to track the trees down, but Ryan and I found them! I think makes us “Tree Stalkers”.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Discover Magazine Picture With Chestnuts in Background
Successful Tree Stalking Empowered by Android and

At first our visit seemed ill-timed. As soon as we arrived at Mills and Mills, a large rainstorm started. We still got out and took some pictures. Then Ryan suggested we get some hot chocolate at one of the state’s many, many, many Starbucks. By the time we finished indulging, the weather had cleared and we got more pictures.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Wet Ryan
Wet Ryan Back in the Car

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Ryan and Chestnuts
Ryan and the Chestnuts

Back home in Virginia, our baby chestnuts got their first spring leaves on March 25th and were sporting large leaves when we left for our trip. In Tumwater Washington, however, the leaves were just getting started on May 12th.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Baby Leaves and Moss in Sun
Baby Leaves

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Blue Sky and Green Baby Leaves
Baby Leaves and the Sky

Although there wasn’t any sign of the chestnut blight, the trees have had their challenges. On February 28, 2001, they would have weathered a 6.5 earthquake that hit the Olympia area. Since the publication of the Discover Magazine article, the larger of the two trees appears to have lost a branch. They also didn’t seem to have grown that much in the last seven years.

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Broken Branch
Broken Branch

Tumwater Chestnuts - Compare
Top: James Balog’s Collage for the May 2004 Discover Magazine
Bottom: Chestnuts on May 12, 2011

One thing I very much enjoyed about these trees is they show the same hospitality to ferns and moss and lichen as do the indigenous Washington state trees. The chestnuts blended right in with their community. When in Rome….

Tumwater Washington American Chestnuts - Chestnut in Rain
The Tumwater Chestnuts are Home to Moss and Ferns

Two weeks earlier, Ryan and I were near where the Chestnut blight was first discovered. That day 3000 miles away in Tumwater, we got to see two trees that escaped the blight’s wrath. It may not be your usual tourist destination when in the Seattle/Tacoma area, but it’s a worhwhile one!

More pictures of the Tumwater American Chestnuts can be found on my Flickr site.

June 7, 2011 at 1:00 am 6 comments

Cougar Mountain – Nature Taking Over [Nature]

With trees donning ferns and moss, there were ample examples of nature taking over nature during our Cougar Mountain hike.

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Ryan Ducks Under Fallen Tree
Ferns Taking Over a Fallen Tree

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Life Starts Again on Stump
Stump Squatters

My favorite though is this determined tree we saw on the Licorice Fern Trail:

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Determined Tree on Tree (Far)
Determined Tree

If you look closer, this tree is growing on the remains of a deceased tree. Those determined roots had to descend the entire tree trunk to reach soil!

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Determined Tree on Tree (Close)
Look at Those Roots Go!

Nature impresses me yet again.

More pictures of Cougar Mountain can be found on my Flickr site. For more detailed trail descriptions of Cougar Mountain hikes, I highly recommend the Weekend Hike blog.

June 6, 2011 at 1:00 am 1 comment

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