Archive for August, 2013

The Graeae Sisters and My Two Boys

When I was a young girl, I loved Greek mythology. There are things in Greek mythology that could be considered disturbing– a father eating his own children (Cronus); a great and menacing beast devouring young men and women trapped in a dank, dark maze (the Minotaur); and good ole wholesome bestiality (Zeus and Leda, Pasiphae and the bull).

But the story that resonated with me the most, the one that provoked the most visceral reaction of disgust was the story of The Graeae Sisters. The hero Perseus encountered them on his way to kill Medusa. The Graeae Sisters were three terribly old women. Between them they had one tooth and one eyeball…so they took turns. I don’t even like seeing someone else’s used chewing gum in the trashcan. I can’t imagine sharing a tooth…or worse an eyeball.

The Graeae Sisters took the beautiful concept of sharing and made it into something really, really icky.

The Graeae Sisters (Image Courtesy of Ray Jackson)

And that brings me to my sons. The other week, I was giving infant Dyson a bedtime bath. Older brother Sagan was helping me out by supervising and pumping out the soap. Eventually, Dyson realized he was getting a bath.

“Baby crying,” Sagan announced.

“That’s right, Dyson’s crying,” I said as I picked up my pace.

All of a sudden, Sagan pulled the pacifier out of his mouth and offered it up to Dyson. SLUUURP! Dyson immediately accepted the gift and started sucking away.

Now this was an amazingly kind and thoughtful gesture for a toddler, particularly one who is completely binky-obsessed. Extremely sweet. Externally I kept my cool. But internally, my reaction was akin to the one I have when I think of those shriveled old women passing around a tartar-covered tooth and a slimy cataract-ridden eyeball:


P.S. The artwork above by Ray Jackson is available as prints and notecards at

August 29, 2013 at 10:24 am 4 comments


When I see little Dyson’s face while he is asleep, he reminds me of my paternal grandmother. Specifically, he reminds me of a plaster cast that was made of her face years ago. It has hung in my grandparents’ den for as long as I can remember. Well, we had a mini family reunion at my grandparents’ house in early August. I went ahead and took a quick comparison shot.

Maybe it isn’t the features of the face I find so nostalgic. Maybe it is the pose. : )

4020 - August 4 2013 - Grandma's Plaster Face and Dyson
Dyson and his Great-Grandmother’s Face

August 27, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Sagan and the Garden Toys (A Facebook/Instagram Repost)

I let Sagan strike his toy garden tools against the garage floor. As he was playing I encouraged him.

“You are good at smacking that hoe!”

Then I realized how awful that sounded. 🙂

I let Sagan strike his toy garden tools against the garage floor.  As he was playing I encouraged him.  "You are good at smacking that hoe!"  Then I realized how awful that sounded.  :)
Sagan Smacks The Hoe

August 26, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Open Source: Toddler Mother’s Day Gifts to Grandmas

This year for Mother’s Day, Ryan and I took 22-month old Sagan over to Occoquan’s Paint Your Heart Out one Friday afternoon.

We picked out coffee mugs and sponged on some background colors. Then it was Sagan’s turn to participate. He plopped his handprint on each mug. After that, Ryan and I did our best to embellish the handprints and make them appear like peacocks. The proprietor of Paint Your Heart Out has a little girl two months younger than Sagan. That meant the tiny table full of toys was of great interest to Sagan while his parents worked.

While I don’t think our final products are going to make the rounds on Pinterest, we were pleased with the results…as were Sagan’s grandmothers. : )

Mother's Day 2013 - Handprint Coffee Mugs for the Grandmas
Final Coffee Mugs from Paint Your Heart Out

And the whole process got to impress Ryan and I with Sagan’s memory retention. We didn’t pick up our pieces until nearly a week later. Sagan, of course, accompanied us on that outing as well.

As soon as he saw the mugs he said, “Peacock!” and he quickly followed it up with “Haaaaaaaaaand.”

So he not only remembered that we made peacocks, but that it was constructed out of his hand to boot.

August 23, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Two “Babies” Meet

Dyson slept through the whole encounter, but when he was three weeks old he did get to meet one of my first “babies”.

Dyson, meet the American chestnut. American chestnut, meet Dyson.

Dyson - July 19th - First Visit to Chestnut
Dyson and our Restoration Chestnut from the American Chestnut Foundation – July 19, 2013

August 22, 2013 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

Recommended Reading: When I am Going Crazy, Make me Get in the Pool from Bipolar Athlete

I love this post from Bipolar Athlete on lap swimming. My favorite line: “It was like a cross between flying and being held.”

In the 3rd trimester of my 1st pregnancy, with that scary labor and delivery getting ever so closer, there was nothing more empowering and calming than lap swimming. Every time I left the pool, I would leave thinking, “Yeah!!! I can do this!”

AND…when my father died last year, it is no coincidence I disappeared to the pool before the flurry of services and sympathetic faces. There, I had an hour of just my thoughts and the rhythmic sound of my breath.

It’s amazing how grounded one can feel in the water.

August 22, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

ANYTHING But Night Night

My two year old son Sagan is now at that age where he will suddenly have a request when it is bedtime, presumably to delay the inevitable. Usually his requests fall into two categories.


  • “One More Simpsons” (A The Simpsons episode)
  • “More Ponies” (A My Little Pony Friendship is Magic episode)
  • “More Song” (he wants Ryan or I to sing a song, which is more often than not from the They Might Be Giants album “Flood”)


  •  “Milk”
  •  “Bubble juice” (grape juice watered down with Seltzer water)
  •  “Nana” (banana)
  •  “Grits” (Yup, he often asks for grits while laying in bed)

The other week, Sagan momentarily stumped me with a bedtime request.

“What?” I asked him.

He repeated the same mysterious word.

“Take your paci out and say it again.”

He followed my instructions, but it was no use. I still had no idea what he was trying to say. I could make out two syllables. The first started with a “B” and the second started with a “W”.

He repeated it a couple more times before I thought of a word that fit that criteria, but it seemed very unlikely.

“Bagworms?” I asked.

He got a big smile on his face and nodded. “Yes,” he said.

“You want to go out and collect bagworms?”

More nodding, followed by another “Yes.”

Bagworm Moth Lava
THIS is Better Than Going to Sleep (Photo by Michael J Curtis)

I was stunned. When you’re chasing after an active toddler while you have an infant in the MobyWrap, sometimes you have to think outside the box to find chores you can effectively accomplish. One thing I had found easy to do is to pluck bagworms off of infected trees. Although the activity kept Sagan’s attention, it never struck me as “fun” for him. I guess that goes to show how much Sagan does not want to go to bed. : ) (It also shows he knows his audience.)

He may have momentarily taken me offguard with his request, but in the end my answer to Sagan was the same.

“Uh… no… It’s night night.”

August 21, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Houston, We Have Some Jealousy

For the most part, Sagan has been pretty enamored with his baby brother. We’ve seen some snippets here and there of jealousy when it came to attention from Mommy and Daddy. For example, as soon as I start nursing Dyson, Sagan would approach me asking, “Hug? Hug?” (which I actually find kind of flattering). This week, however, was the first time we saw some jealousy over an object.

Dyson is old enough and strong enough to sit in the Bumbo Floor Seat. At first, Sagan was enthralled and as pleased as we were to see Dyson do something new.

Dyson - August 13 - In Bumbo Chair with Sagan
Sagan Pleased At Dyson’s “New Trick”

But then… Sagan decided that *he* wanted to be the one in the chair. The Bumbo Chair is a little small for two year old Sagan. Nonetheless, Sagan found a way to squeeze in. (Although he got in the chair by himself, he needed assistance getting out as he was squeezed in so tight the chair stuck to him!)

Bumbo Chair - Sagan Fits
I Fit

Sagan eventually grew bored of the chair and moved on to more exciting toys. Alas, later that day, Sagan discovered Dyson in the Bumbo Chair again. This time Sagan was…uh… not pleased.

Bumbo Chair - Sagan Upset Dyson Is In Chair
Sagan Distraught that He Isn’t the One in the Bumbo Chair

So Ryan and I got a little preview of some of the emotions to come. : )

August 20, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Tours of Baby’s Anatomy

I was 38 years old when Dyson was born, which is considered a “geriatric pregnancy”. Due to my age and the fact that my first son was late pre-term, my doctors had me also visit the Brock Perinatal Diagnostic Center in Alexandria, Virginia (aka a “Higk Risk” center). I had two visits in the 2nd trimester where they found that there was nothing wrong with my cervix and that there was no indication I was going to go into pre-term labor. Nonetheless, as my 3rd trimester progressed they had me visit once a week to monitor amniotic fluid levels and do some non-stress tests on the baby. Again, nothing ill or concerning was found. I think they discovered what I already knew– I’m a pretty young and healthy 38. : )

Every visit to the high-risk center, they did an ultrasound. When we first started visiting, that was sort of a nice perk, extra glimpses at the baby! Sure there was a longer drive, but we got extra pictures! By the end of our pregnancy journey, however, the same song and dance had become stale.

“This is baby’s brain. This is baby’s stomach. These are baby’s kidneys.”

I started to get restless with the process. Get on it with it, I want to get home before rush hour! I actually grew pretty tired of people pointing out the baby’s anatomy to me.

That is, until he was born. The very first time Sagan held his little brother, he started to show off his knowledge of body parts.

And suddenly, a tour of the baby’s anatomy was fresh and exciting again…not to mention super endearing. 🙂

August 19, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Sagan’s Peak and Dyson’s Peak

I live about four and half hours away from my former home in Blacksburg, Virginia. Although I don’t get back to see “my mountains” as much as I would like, Ryan and I still managed to hike an Appalachian Trail staple during both pregnancies.

With my first son, Sagan, we hiked up to the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee’s Knob, at 33 weeks. With my second son, Dyson, we hiked up to nearby Tinker Cliffs at 25 Weeks. That means we now have an Appalachian Trail landmark that will remind us of each son.

McAfee's Knob - Mountains and Motherhood (by Ryan Somma)
Vicky on McAfee’s Knob (33 Weeks Pregnant with Sagan)

Tinker Cliffs - 25 Week Belly at Top (By Ryan Somma)
Vicky on Tinker Cliffs (25 Weeks Pregnant with Dyson)

Now get this– from Sagan’s Peak (aka McAfee’s Knob), you can see Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and from Dyson’s Peak, you can see Sagan’s Peak! If you are on one boy’s peak, you can still think of the other. : )

McAfee's Knob - Vicky and Ryan
Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Sagan with Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs)

Tinker Cliffs - McAfee Knob, Vicky, Ryan
[A Poorly Lit] Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Dyson with Sagan’s Peak (McAfee’s Knob)

Here’s my favorite part– a day hike that hits both overlooks is only 13.1 miles long. One day, our family can go up the Andy Layne Trail to Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and then continue on to Sagan’s Peak (McAfee Knob). I’ve done that day hike before. I know first hand that it’s an amazing trip and will be even more amazing to share with the boys.

It’s a hike well-worth waiting a decade for. : )

August 14, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

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