Archive for September, 2011

What I’m Known For – Revisited

In my May of 2010 post, What I’m Known For I described how my teenage neighbor Khaliya was reminded of me.

… Khaliya said, “I was walking [my dog] and she took a doodie in the street and I cleaned it up…and I thought, ‘This reminds me of Vicky Somma.’”

Yesterday, Khaliya messaged me on Facebook. Something else made her think of me… and this time it wasn’t at all related to dog poop! 🙂

What I'm Known For - Take II

Awww, running! She thought of me with running!

And for the record, Khaliya’s sentiment is mutual. Ryan and I miss the neighborhood kids terribly.

September 30, 2011 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

Pawpaw Hunting Addendum

Want to learn more about pawpaws? NPR has got you covered! Just six days after Ryan and I took Sagan Pawpaw Hunting at Fountainhead Regional Park, NPR did a story on “Foraging for America’s Forgotten Fruit“. You can listen to the full story online.

I also recommend watching their Tiny Desk Kitchen video (embedded below). It reveals their harvesting technique is very similiar to Ryan’s approach. They also put up a “Taste a Pawpaw” stand outside of the NPR offices and got people’s reactions.

As for reactions, when I introduced my father to pawpaws, his reaction was this:

“Ew, it’s ugly!”

He also complained about all the seeds and that it didn’t look “worth it.”

Despite all that, he still tasted the fruit…and rather liked it. : )


September 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

Waka Waka Waka – Fountainhead Regional Park

When we were looking for pawpaw trees at Fountainhead Regional Park, we saw another example of a Pac Man in Nature.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Pac Man Mushroom - Waka Waka Waka
Mushroom Pac Man

September 27, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Take a Child Outside Week – Pawpaw Hunting and Sagan’s First Hike

Saturday was the first day of Take a Child Outside Week!  It was also National Public Lands Day.  And in case we needed another reason to get out, late September – October is also pawpaw fruiting season. 

George Washington was quite a fan of Asimina triloba, North America’s largest indigenous fruit. He declared “chilled pawpaw” to be his favorite dessert. Although I rather enjoy the taste, I wouldn’t quite go that far. It would be hard to top crème brûlée!

Ryan and I have been growing some pawpaw seedlings for a couple of years now.  It’ll be a while before those trees fruit, so we thought we would see if we could locate some more established trees near our new home.  During National Walk in the Woods Day I took a shot of a small pawpaw tree near a creek at Fountainhead Regional Park.  Figuring where there is a small tree, they may be bigger ones, we decided to retrace our steps and see what we can find.

We brought little Sagan along, fulfilling the requirement of taking a child outside.  This journey would be Sagan’s very first hike!  He pretty much slept through the entire thing.  🙂

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Sagan and Trail
Sagan’s First Hike (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Had Sagan been awake (and had fully developed vision), he would have seen a squirrel, a daddy long-legs, a crayfish nest and a heron flying overhead.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Crayfish Nest
Crayfish Burrow

Flora – Pawpaws
It didn’t take us long to get to the creek. We saw plenty of small trees without fruit. It didn’t look too promising until a small grove near the creek shoreline caught my eye. Upon closer examination, we found fruit laying on the ground!

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Vicky and Sagan with Pawpaw Fruit
Vicky and Sagan with Discovered Fruit (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Then we looked up and saw examples of pawpaw fruit still in the trees.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Pawpaw in Tree
Pawpaw Fruit

The non-bug infested fruit wasn’t quite ripe yet, but we still got the thrill of the hunt. It was also nice to establish that the favorite dessert of our nation’s first President was still alive in well in Northern Virginia!

Flora – Fungi
Between Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and various other storms, this area has had more than its fair share of rain. It may have had its miserable moments at the time, but on Saturday we sure profited from the extra moisture. The trail has what Ryan deemed a “mushroom explosion”. We had plenty of neat fungi to marvel at while we walked.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Mushroom Explosion
Hillside with Scattered Mushrooms

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Coral-like Mushroom
A Coral-Like Mushroom

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Orange Mushrooms on Log
Bright Orange Mushrooms

Sagan’s first outing was definitely a brief one. I doubt we even traveled a mile round trip. But I find myself very satisfied with everything we saw in that short journey.

More pictures of our hike at Fountainhead Regional Park are on my Flickr site.

Additional Pawpaw Posts
2009 Pawpaw Hunt
My First Pawpaw Tasting

September 26, 2011 at 11:04 am 3 comments

Reminder – Take a Child Outside Week!

This year Take a Child Outside week is September 24th – September 30th, which means it starts THIS Saturday! T.A.C.O. Week is a favorite of mine and I have been observing it since 2007. This year promises to be a little different though. It’s the first year where I don’t have to borrow a child to participate! 🙂

Need ideas? Here are a few from past adventures Ryan and I have shared with children:

Wedding Weekend - Rowing Newport News Park - Ann and Vicky Relay while Penn and Gwyn RowRowing Canoeing Merchant's Millpond - Ryan and Jacal's Boat - Vicky, Tyrek, Ryan in Action
Maple Park - Jacal Signs Log Book
Hunter Street Water Fight - Filling Up
Water Fight!
Hunter Street Badminton - Tykee Watches Dontori
Elizabeth City - Hunter Street- Tykee on Bike
Falls Ridge - Xavier has a Snail
Jet Skiing - Jamonte and Armani on Shore

If you are in the Blacksburg, Virginia area and need some hiking ideas, check out my “Off the Beaten Paths: Hikes for T.A.C.O. Week” post which highlights five child-friendly trails in the area.

Whereever you are, have a great Take a Child Outside Week! Perhaps you’ll luck out and get to see a black bear like five-year old Penn and I did in 2007. If not, don’t forget there is adventure to be found in the little things– as young Xavier demonstrated when he discovered a snail in 2008.

September 22, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Dr. Jane Goodall “A Conversation on Peace” Coverage #janegoodall #askjane

Ryan and I are currently a one car family. BUT we are a two camera and a two blog family.  For the most part our blogs cover different topics, but when we are posting on the same topic I find the redundancy handy… and interesting.

On Sunday, Ryan and I went on what could be called a date! My mother babysat Sagan, while we went up to American University to attend Dr. Jane Goodall’s “A Conversation on Peace”. It was absolutely RIVETING and incredibly inspiring. I have tons of notes, particularly on her many great stories involving trees. Seeing as how Sagan is already 10 weeks old and I still haven’t published my giant Birth Story post (it’s coming!), I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get my many positive thoughts on the event published.

But Ryan already has his  Celebrating the UN’s “International Day of Peace” with Dr. Jane Goodall post up! Reading it over, it is amazing the different details Ryan picked up on from the same speech! His camera with the zoom lens took better photos too.  : ) Check out his post when you get a chance and if you ever see Dr. Jane Goodall appearing in your neck of the woods (Lecture and Event Schedule), I highly, highly recommend attending! It is time very well spent.

Jane Goodall on Ideonexus
Dr. Jane Goodall on

September 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm 2 comments

Poot Patsy

With my son’s birth, I expected to have to let go of some of my inhibitions. I was prepared, for example, for people to see my nipple as I tried to feed my child. I soon became prepared for people to hear my off-key “singing” as I tried to comfort my child. But there was one thing, I was not certainly not prepared for.

People would think that I had passed gas when in fact it was the baby!

With musical instruments, often the size of the item dictates its tone. Take for example the xylophone. The longer bars produce the deep, reverberating low-pitched sounds. Meanwhile the smaller bars have the more delicate, high-pitched notes. What is true for xylophones is not true for anuses and butt cheeks!

At nearly 10 weeks of age, my son’s sphincter is just a fraction of the size of an adult. Yet, the sounds he produces are identical in both pitch and volume of an anus well beyond his years.

Xylophone Bars Versus Anuses
Xylophone Bars versus Anuses (Hat Tip, Kurt Vonnegut)

Now, I have spent my adult life trying to minimize the amount of audible flatulence. Granted, this effort got substantially more difficult during pregnancy, but I still managed to skate through with limited incidents.

But babies don’t care who hear! And where are babies frequently located? A parent’s lap! That means the baby’s rear end is just inches away from the parent’s. The baby doesn’t have to master throwing sounds like a ventriloquist. He merely needs to let one rip and just by his placement the origin of the sound is automatically ambiguous.

On more than one occasion in my mommyhood, I have been put in the awkward social situation where it sounds like I’m to blame.  Instinctively, I clarify to anyone in the vicinity. Still, there are skeptics. This conversation occurred over the weekend between my mother and I.

[Baby Sagan passes gas]
Vicky: That wasn’t me!
Mom: Are you sure?
Vicky: YES!
Mom (skeptical): It sounded like you.
Vicky (as Mom walks away): But, it wasn’t me!!!

If I have trouble convincing my own mother, what hope do I have with strangers? 🙂

September 18, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

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