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

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