Archive for May, 2014


We recently finished watching the documentary series “North America.” Holy crap. I LOVED it. I found myself laughing, laughing, laughing at the antics of prairie dogs and spider suitors. I also found myself emotionally vested in (and almost choked up by) the plights of mothers of all sorts trying to protect their babies– humpbacks and bisons and mountain goats.

But, there was one oddity about the series that stuck out to us.  The narrator was Tom Selleck and a common theme of the early episodes (It did get toned down in subsequent episodes) is how strong or how tough you had to be to make it in “‘Murica.” Ryan and I weren’t the only ones who noticed. Some IMDB reviewers mentioned it as well.


And then there was little Sagan. After five episodes, he could mimic Tom Selleck (or more likely he was mimicking us mimicking Tom Selleck). It still makes me smile.

Sommas Having Fun at Tom Selleck’s Expense

We were having our fun, but I really don’t think the narration ruined the series.  The cinematography is amazing and awe-inspiring.  The stories are amazingly compelling. I very much enjoyed the series.

Oh and don’t judge Tom Selleck (or the writers) too harshly.  One well-renowned founding father was also quite driven with proving how big and strong North American species were. : )

May 9, 2014 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

Co-Sleeping Hack – Preventing Deformational Plagiocephaly

Earlier this week, NPR shared a link to an article called “My Baby’s Head Is Flat! Study: Expensive Helmet Likely Won’t Help.”

NPR Link

Ryan and I first heard about “Deformational Plagiocephaly” from our pediatrician when our oldest son was a newborn. Because babies are often put on their back to sleep to prevent SIDS and their little heads are still malleable, their heads can get flat if they always lay on the same side. Like the article, our pediatrician recommended positioning the baby’s head in different directions during sleep. The pediatrician talked about using rolled up towels and blankets to help hold the baby’s head in place…which if you tend to be an over-active worrier like me, you might suddenly have concerns about baby suffocating on said blankets. : )

It can be a little controversial, but we do co-sleep and bedshare. Everyone has to make the right choices for their family. If co-sleeping happens to be the choice for your family as well, then I have a little hack for you!

With our second son, I noticed he was ALWAYS facing my direction. It was his natural inclination. To prevent deformational plagiocephaly, we didn’t have to bother with rolled up blankets and towels. I didn’t have to fret about additional suffocation hazards. I just alternated what side of him I was on.

Easy schmeasy.

July 20 - Vicky and Dyson Sleep (By Ryan Somma)
Preventing Deformational Plagiocephaly…Just By Sleeping

May 8, 2014 at 4:00 am 1 comment

A Fee Free Easter Celebration in Prince William Forest National Park!

A couple of years ago, Ryan and I made an accidental discovery– The U.S. National Park Service does about a half dozen “Fee Free Weekends” a year. Score! The Fee Free Weekends are usually to celebrate national holidays like Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, etc. They do this every year and you can even check the schedule to see the Fee Free dates in the coming year.

This past November, I had forgotten a Fee Free Weekend was coming up for Veteran’s Day, so I was quite happy when Twitter reminded me.

Seems like an innocuous tweet, right? Who could complain about free access to National Parks? Free hiking! Free camping! Free picnicking! Free views! Free fresh air!

Well, a lot of people apparently! I was dumbfounded to read all the replies to the National Park Service’s tweet. It was full of vitriol and bitterness and snide remarks. People didn’t realize “Fee Free Weekends” was an established thing, planned well in advance. In the absence of that knowledge, they assumed it was a motivated event, a bribe. They thought the Fee Free Weekend was an attempt to make up for the government shutdown in October, the one that forced the National Parks (and the National Monuments, most famously the National World War II Memorial) to close.

Hate for Fee Free Weekends
A snippet of the replies to Fee Free Weekend

All the negative-vibes didn’t stop the Sommas from having an awesome Fee Free Day at Prince William Forest National Park!

We thought about going to a playground instead of a hike...but it turns out we got the best of both worlds.  Sagan found this leaf-covered slope to be very slide-like.  :) Fee Free Weekend at National Parks.  You don't have to tell the Sommas twice.  :)

Fee Free Weekends Aren’t Sinister… They’re Fun!

So forward ahead to April. I was excited to recall another Fee Free Weekend was approaching. April 19th and April 20th were Fee Free to celebrate the beginning of National Park Week! This Fee Free Weekend was a lot less controversial on Twitter… but I realized it may pose a conflict in my family. Easter was April 20th. How could we do Easter AND take advantage of the Fee Free Weekend at the same time?

Well here’s a lesson for you. It never hurts to ask. I thought my mother would be vested in having Easter at the house. I thought she would have no interest in a picnic. But I asked anyway.

“What if… what if we did an Easter Picnic at Prince William Forest National Park instead?”

I found myself as surprised as I was about all those bitter tweets to the National Park Service. My mother LOVED the idea! Not only did she love the idea, she TACKLED the idea. She invited people, got all the paper plates and supplies organized, bought TONS of food for the event and handmade 40 hamburger patties the way my Dad used to make them– with delicious Lipton Onion Soup mix. I was just the idea person. My mother made the event happen.

And it was a great event! Everyone who joined us brought a potluck dish. In addition to our grilled meats, we had homemade taco dip, Watergate salad, broccoli salad (my contribution), homemade hummus, potato salad, stuffed olives. To celebrate Easter we had dyed Easter eggs. To celebrate National Park Weeks, we had s’mores! We had two visiting German high schoolers with us. They instagrammed their very first s’mores.

Easter 2014 - Burgers
Gone But Not Forgotten– Hamburgers the Way My Dad Made Them

Easter 2014 - Vicky Looks at Sagan
Me and My First-Born Son

Easter 2014 - Carl and Sagan Play Soccer

Easter 2014 - Ryan

Easter 2014 - Grandma Holds Smiling Dyson
Grandma and Dyson

Easter 2014 - Hannah and Milla Prepare to Eat S'mores
Instagramming S’mores

Best of all, when I was a child, Easter was a time to play with your cousins. Our kids are still young, but Sagan and Dyson are already getting to to visit with their cousin Lincoln– outside. In the beautiful, beautiful outside.

Easter 2014 - Lincoln Smiles at Dyson
Cousins Dyson and Lincoln

This is probably my most memorable Easter since I was a child and got baby ducks. It’s hard to top baby ducks. But Fee Free National Parks… that can come pretty darn close. : )

1990 - ducks @ grandparents' house  (by Vicky) - Louise, Vicky, Jordan, Adam - laying, kneeling - 445767648_5c4384954a_o
Flashback to an Easter Past. I’m Second from the Left.

P.S. The next Fee-Free Day — August 25th for the National Park Service’s Birthday. : )

May 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm 4 comments

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