Archive for May, 2013

Cicada Dialogues – Week of May 19th, 2013

The cicadas have definitely arrived to the Occoquan, Virginia and Lake Ridge, Virginia area.

Cicadas - May 22nd - Eight Cicadas on Clipper Drive, Lake Ridge, VA
Cicadas on Clipper Drive, Lake Ridge Virginia on May 22nd,2013

In my last post, I covered a little bit of cicada-related dialogue our family had on Memorial Day. In this post, I thought I would share some dialogue snippets from the previous week. Enjoy! : )

Monday May 20, 2013
Sagan (petting cicada in Ryan’s hand): Nice cada. Nice cada.

TONS and TONS of cicadas outside Sagan's dentist on Clipper Drive in Lake Ridge, VA...including this one who hadn't come outside of his shell yet.
Nice Cada

Tuesday May 21, 2013
Vicky: You know, cicadas maybe cooler than bagworms.
Ryan: Maybe? MAYBE?!?! No, no, no, no. There is no maybe here. Cicadas ARE cooler than bagworms.

Thursday May 23, 2013
Sagan (pointing at the road): Boken cada. Boken cada.
[Vicky looks down to see a dead cicada with sprawled out wings and a flattened abdomen. Innards are splattered across the asphalt.]
Vicky: Uh… yeah. That’s right, Sagan. Broken Cicada.

May 28, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Surprise Family Hike with Surprise Finds – Ballywhack Creek

This morning Sagan, Ryan, and I were intending on doing some yard work over at my grandmother’s old house, but we ran into some mechanical difficulties.

Memorial Day 2013 - Sagan Supervises Lawn Mower Repairs

So instead, we decided to explore the nearby woods and get some recordings and photos of cicadas. We ended up walking along a nice fireroad that paralleled the Ballywhack Creek and eventually we found ourselves in the River Ridge section of Lake Ridge and made our way back to the broken lawn mower. It was a good outing and we had plenty of opportunities to hear and see cicadas.

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada on Beech
Cicada on American Beech

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada Shells and Sweet Gum Leaves
Cicada Shells Left on Sweet Gum Leaves

Memorial Day 2013 - Cicada Shell on Tulip Poplar
Cicada Shell on Tulip Poplar Leaf

We also had a cute little bit of cicada-related dialog with 22-month old Sagan.

Vicky: Sagan, do you want the cicada on your head?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) No.
Vicky: Sagan, do you want the cicada on your hand?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) Yes.

Memorial Day 2013 - Daddy and Sagan Smile at Cicada
Sagan Holds His First Cicada

Sagan had a little bit of dialogue of his own with the cicada including telling it “Bye Bye”

Our mission was simple– we wanted to see cicadas. But we ended up with a lot of surprise finds as well. First off, we got to see an unfortunate cicada who never successfully molted being devoured (albeit slowly) by red ants.

Memorial Day 2013 - Ants Eat Cicada 1 - Cropped

We got to see a number of water insects and large tadpoles in the creek.

Memorial Day 2013 - Water Insect and Tadpoles
Water Insect and Tadpoles

Even though it hadn’t rained recently, there was a large amount of earthworms out. Here again, we had an opportunity to converse with Sagan.

Vicky: Sagan, do you want the worm on your hand?
Sagan: (matter-of-factly) No.

Memorial Day 2013 - Sagan Meets Worm
Sagan Does Not Hold the Earthworm

Our biggest surprise was right behind the River Ridge houses on Farversham. We came across a little white-tail deer fawn waiting for its Momma.

Memorial Day 2013 - Fawn
Awww….Cute Enough to Make Forget Deer Eat My Chestnut Trees

One last surprise– shortly after we made our way back home, Ryan uncovered the problem with the mower and it resumed working better than ever. Apparently sometimes it pays to step away from a problem for a while. : )

More pictures of our Memorial Day Family Walk can be found on my Flickr site.

May 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm 1 comment

Baby in my Belly?????

Redundant PacifiersIn January of 2012, I did a post called “Redundancy – Routers, Switches…and Pacifiers“. It was on the importance of having backups, be it your network hardware… or your child’s pacifiers.

I got a lot of great feedback on that post and even received a compliment from a stranger at Google on it. But nearly 15 months later, I do have to admit that maybe it was a misstep to have so many pacifiers around. My husband and I became more and more conscious that our son had developed quite an attachment to them.

Sagan - Binky Obsession
Redundant Pacifiers is One Thing…But Do You Really Need Four At One Time, Dude?

Roughly five weeks ago, we started an initiative where Sagan was only allowed to have his pacifier at “Night Night” and “Nap” time. Some days he isn’t especially pleased, but overall, it has been going smoothly and he accepts the new rules. (And now he finds cause to be happy when it is night night time).

When we were hiking at Falls Ridge a few weekends ago, something odd happened. We were hiking away when all of a sudden Sagan looked at me and said, “Night Night!”

I checked the time. He was being a trickster. He still had a good hour and a half until the earliest early side of his usual naptime. He just wanted a pacifier.

I told him it wasn’t his naptime and all of a sudden he started reaching for my belly and whining, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

At the time, I assumed he was trying to reach for my pants pocket and my big ole pregnancy belly was merely in the way. It was baffling though, because he definitely looked like he was purposely trying to grab my belly. None the less, he rebounded and was in a happier mood in just a few minutes and had forgotten all about naptime and that he wanted a pacifier.

Flash forward 250 miles and six hours later. It suddenly dawned on me what Sagan might have been trying to grab. Sagan doesn’t call the pacifier “paci” like I do. He doesn’t call it “binky” like daycare describes it.

He calls it “baby“.

Do you know what I have been doing for weeks?

“Sagan,” I’d say and point to my bulging abdomen, “There’s a baby in my belly. There’s a baby, right here, in my belly.”

Ryan and I might have one disappointed first-born son come summer-time! : )

May 20, 2013 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Sagan Compare: Falls Ridge Nature Preserve

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!

Falls Ridge - Sagan Compare - 3 Months, 22 Months
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)

May 17, 2013 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Spring Wildflowers at Falls Ridge Nature Preserve

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:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Small Mossy Falls (Close)
Mossy Waterfall

Falls Ridge 2013 - Sine Wave Falls
Curvy Falls

A snippet of the wildflowers:

Falls Ridge 2013 - Columbine and Ferns
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with Ferns

Falls Ridge 2013 - Single Columbine Flower
Closeup of Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Mayapple Buds
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) Not Quite Blooming Yet

Falls Ridge 2013 - Trillium By New Stairs
Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Purple Orchid Like Flower
Possible Showy Orchid (Orchis spectabilis)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Possible Star Chickweed?
Possible Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)

Falls Ridge 2013 - Buds and Leaves
Possible False Solomon’s Seal (Smilacina racemosa)

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
From Main Street, turn on Ellett Road.
Turn left on Jennelle Road and cross over railroad tracks
Turn right on Den Hill Road
Turn left on Northfork
Turn right on Falls Ridge Rd.
Turn left immediately after the railroad tracks and follow the gravel road to the preserve.

May 16, 2013 at 1:00 am 4 comments

Family Hike: Slaughterhouse Trail at the Lorton Workhouse

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.

Trail Overview
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.

Slaughterhouse Trail - Ryan Helps Sagan Cross Log
Mountain Bike Obstacles Can Double as Playgrounds!

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.

Slaughterhouse Trail - Vines and Bars
Window Inside Slaughterhouse

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).

Slaughterhouse Trail - Caterpillars

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!

Slaughterhouse Trail - Old Branches
Neat Old Tree

Slaughterhouse Trail - Sagan Blows on Dandelion (By Ryan Somma)
Sagan Blows on a Dandelion

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. 😉

Slaughterhouse Trail - Sagan's 'Brush'
Sagan’s “Brush”

Slaughterhouse Trail - Trail Maintenance
Brushing the Trail

More pictures of our quick hike to the Slaughterhouse Trail can be found on my Flickr site.

May 15, 2013 at 10:46 am 1 comment

Michael Jordan or Odie (Repost from Facebook)

[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! : ) : ) : )

Leesylvania Park - Vicky Does Overhead Ladder - Comparison

May 14, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Family *Workout*: Leesylvania State Park

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.

Leesylvania Park - Ryan Does Pushups on Fitness Trail
Ryan Does Push Ups at a Station

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Jogs to Next Station
Sagan Jogs Between Stations

Just as some exercises have to be modified for pregnancy, Sagan had to modify some of the stations for toddlerhood.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Finds a Seat on the Fitness Trail
Sagan Finds Another Use for the “Toe Lifts” Station

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.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Swings (Far)
Sagan Does 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.

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Watches Ryan Do Reverse Pushups
Hmm… Daddy Doesn’t Look Like He is Working Hard Enough

Leesylvania Park - Sagan 'Helps' Ryan Do Reverse Pushups
Ah…. Much Better!

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!”. : )

Leesylvania Park - Sagan Watches Ryan Do Bar Jumps
Sagan Supervises Ryan Doing Bar Jumps

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.

Followup Hike
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. : )

Leesylvania Park - Ryan and Sagan Lean on Log and Take in View
Post Workout Hike – Sagan and Ryan Take in the Potomac River

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.
Woodbridge, VA 22191-4504

Length: 1-2 miles

Elevation Gain:Neglible

Fees Weekdays $4, Weekends $5

Directions from Occoquan, VA
Take I-95 South roughly 4 miles.
Take Exit 156 (Rippon Landing)
Merge onto Dale Blvd.
Turn Right on U.S. 1. Jefferson Davis Highway
Turn left onto Neabsco Rd. (Route 610)
Park Entrance Will Be In About 2 miles

May 13, 2013 at 1:00 am 9 comments

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