Posts filed under ‘Sagan’

Sagan Compare – Grandma and Aunt Carolyn

Sagan celebrated his first birthday last week!  In addition to the other festivities, we put the same hat on him that he was given in the hospital and did a quick reenactment on some photos from his first week.  Enjoy!

Grandma and Sagan Compare
Sagan - Day Eight - Grandma and Sagan
Grandma and Sagan – July 20, 2011

Sagan's 1st Birthday - Grandma and Sagan - Cropped
Grandma and Sagan – July 12, 2012

Aunt Carolyn and Sagan Compare
Sagan - Day Five - Aunt Carolyn Smiles with Sagan
Aunt Carolyn and Sagan – July 17, 2011

Sagan's First Birthday - Aunt Carolyn Smiles at Sagan - Cropped
Aunt Carolyn and Sagan – July 12, 2012

July 16, 2012 at 10:22 am 2 comments

Happy 2nd Birthday, American Chestnuts!

Our Restoration Chestnuts from the American Chestnut Foundation were planted on June 17th and June 18th of 2010.  That means they celebrated their second birthday earlier this week! 

Like last year, we celebrated with some photos!  Due to the long approval and construction process with our new home, the trees had to winter another year in pots. Luckily, they had an extremely mild winter to contend with.

American Chestnut's 2nd Birthday - Sagan Smiles by Pot
Sagan with American Chestnut

In last year’s photo I was 5 1/2 months pregnant:

American Chestnut - Birthday Tree and Vicky - Cropped
June 18, 2011

This year, I have an 11 month old son!!!

American Chestnut's 2nd Birthday - Sagan and Vicky
June 18, 2012

The tree we are posing with is over my head this year, but it does have a little boost from the new pot it is in. : )

This should be the last birthday picture of the tree in a pot. I look forward to seeing how both the tree and my son grow in the coming years!

June 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

Sagan’s First Appalachian Trail Hike

The best part about my 37th Birthday Hike was including my eight month old son. We drove by the Appalachian Trail when he was 14 weeks old, but this was the first time Sagan actually got to be on the trail!

Manassas Gap Hike - Sagan and Mommy at AT Sign
Sagan at his First Appalachian Trailhead

He rode most of the way in his Moby Wrap. He slept through most of the ascent and the old apple orchard when we hiked southbound. When he woke up, he got to do some [assisted] hiking of his own.

Manassas Gap Hike - Sagan Smiles and Hikes With Ryan
“Hiking” with Daddy

Manassas Gap Hike - Sagan Smiles and Hikes with Mommy
“Hiking” with Mommy

He joined us for our lunch on the trail and took a surprise liking to a kiwi. Sagan kept pulling the kiwi back to his mouth and sucked it like a vampire.

Manassas Gap Hike - Sagan Tries Kiwi
Sucking on a Kiwi

When we arrived at the Jim & Molly Denton Shelter, Sagan was ready for some more walking practice. And by the time we were climbing down the mountain, he was sound asleep in his Moby Wrap again.

Sagan has a lot of “firsts” to come and I’m sure they will weasle a way into my heart.  But “First A.T. Hike”… that memory is already cemented.

Sagan Hikes Southbound

Sagan Hikes Northbound

March 26, 2012 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

New Appreciation For…The Sparkles Girl (Sad Packer Fan)

Yesterday morning I enjoyed feeling smug and superior to a young lady featured in a YouTube video entitled, “Sad Packer Fan” (Hat Tip, @HokiePhotog).

In the video, the main character is distraught at Green Bay’s recent playoff loss.  She really, really, really wanted to see them win the Super Bowl and even went to the effort of painting her fingernails with green sparkles to secure a win.  Although she had the best intentions, that gesture backfired and undermined the very team she sought to help.

Oh I laughed at her silliness, forwarded along the link and laughed some more and then went about my daily business.  On the agenda besides work — our “Solid Food Initiative” with little Sagan.  On Monday, Sagan had been to the pediatrician and when we described how much milk he was eating overnight, the doctor recommended increasing his intake of baby food.  And truth be known, we were being a little lackadaisical with solids thus far.  In the past weeks, he’s tried a variety of vegetables and ingested his fair share of rice cereal, but it wasn’t an every day occurrence.

So yesterday, we decided to take the initiative seriously.  In addition to his usual breast milk intake, Sagan had two meals of rice cereal and then in the evening he had what we thought was a pretty hearty supper of green beans and breast milk.

Alas, last night he woke up numerous times and all in all ingested roughly 13 ounces of breast milk.  13 ounces!  That was twice as much as he was eating at night when we talked to the pediatrician AND about the same amount he ingests when he is at part-time daycare… you know, during the actual day.

His consumption was so much, I had to do an emergency unplanned pumping session in the middle of the night (I often have planned pumping sessions at night which is a different story).  On the outside, I may have looked stoic, quietly trying to find some kind of comfortable position to hold my head so I could rest my eyes.  But on the inside I was that Packer Fan!!!

Instead of blubbering on about sparkles, however, my thoughts were centered on another item of the same color.


I have no doubt our little family will eventually figure out this whole solid food thing.  In the meantime, though, maybe I shouldn’t laugh so hard at people on the Internet.

I am just one more sleepless night away from completing my transition into the Sparkles Girl! : )


January 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm 3 comments

Redundancy – Routers, Switches…and Pacifiers

Hardware is not my forte, but I know enough to know the advantages of redundancy. The vendor that hosts all our web applications knows that as well. Every vital component needed to keep our sites going are doubled up. If any one of those components fail, a replacement steps up to the plate. They do this with network switches, routers and even power. They also offer georedundancy. You can have duplicate copies of your servers in multiple cities. If say the Charlotte, North Carolina server goes down, the Chattanooga, Tennessee server can take over.

Illustration of Network Redundancy (Source: Cisco)

Ryan and I waited nine weeks before introducing Sagan to the pacifier. It was well-received. I believe Ryan even used the word “miracle”. Once we introduced the pacifier, some peculiar Sagan behavior suddenly started to make a heck of a lot of sense. He liked to suck for comfort. When you are sucking on a bottle, you are always going to get milk regardless of your hunger level. Sometimes Sagan wanted to suck without milk. Of course, we didn’t know this. Sagan would cry for his bottle and then smack it away…and then cry for the bottle again. We just thought he was an indecisive little dude. Once we saw him with the pacifier we realized– he knew exactly what he wanted all along.

That pacifier has become such a key component (for the time being), we can’t risk having a single failure point… especially considering my mother’s miniature pinscher has developed a taste for them. We practice a mini version of geo-redundancy. We keep pacifiers in our bedroom, our living room and the car. As an added safeguard, each location usually has its own redundant supply.

If one pacifier goes down [on the dirty floor] or is eaten or lost, there is another to take its place.

Redundant Pacifiers
Redundant Pacifiers

We also have redundant supplies of diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets…and of course, key breast pump components.

We may not have the five nines of uptime, but just like with networks, redundancy helps keep our operations running smoothly. 🙂

January 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm 2 comments

The Samurai and Spit Up

Samurai 1890

Whenever we are caught in a rain storm, Ryan walks calmly. His precipitation velocity is equal to his non-precipitation velocity.

“The Samurai doesn’t run in the rain,” Ryan paraphrases Misuyuki’s Five Rings, “He accepts his drenching with dignity.”

I take a similiar approach with Sagan’s spit up. It happens and when it does, I may wipe up Sagan promptly, but I’m really in no hurry to rectify my own garments. I accept the return of my own milk with dignity.

When Sagan spits up on other people, however, the situation is radically different. I snag the nearest towel, bib, blanket, clean diapie, used napkin, crumbled up receipt or whatever else may be handy and hurry to dab up the mess.

Over the holidays, Sagan’s Uncle Jason held the prize of receiving the most spit up. Christmas Eve Eve, Sagan had a big meal followed by a vigorous playing session. Soon enough Sagan’s supper waterfalled out of his mouth right onto Uncle Jason’s lap.

“Oh! Oh!” I stammered as my eyes scanned the immediate area for a blanket. I spied one on the coffee table. I snagged it and rushed over to Jason to help. Now armed with the appropriate equipment, I leaned in.  Suddenly I froze.  I looked at my outstretched arm.  It was just a centimeter or two from its destination.  

“Uh…..Maybe [your girlfriend] should clean this one up.”

So here’s my revised spit-up cleanup policy:

Scenario Priority
Spit up on yourself Samurai Mode – Can Wait
Spit up on other people’s shoulders and arms Top Priority – Clean up ASAP
Spit up on other people’s crotches Delegate

Drawing above by Kamikasineo

January 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm 4 comments

Some Things That Did Not Get Blogged About in 2011

Well, goodbye 2011! I’ve seen a number of blogs highlight their favorite posts of the year. I’m going to highlight some of the forgotten posts– the ones I never got around to writing. 🙂

Billy Goat Trail – A Return Trip

Billy Goat Trail - Greg, Ryan and Ryan Climb Rock Wall

My Birthday Hike this year was on Maryland’s Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River. Ryan and I thought it would be fun to do a group hike on that trail. As luck would have it, my friend Greg Z organized a group hike that following month. The weather was sketchy at first and we did have to wait out a storm under a bridge, but after that we had the trail almost all to ourselves.
Billy Goat Trail - Purple and Blue Wildflowers

My favorite part– my friend Greg Z told me when some of the people in the group were struggling on the rocks, he watched me get further and further ahead. Apparently he pointed and said, “THAT’s the one that’s pregnant.”

We walked the trail the opposite direction Ryan and I took in March. It was nice to see the trail from a different perspective. Also since it was a month later, we got to see wildflowers bloom!

A Most Pleasant Day

Mother’s Day Weekend, Ryan and I went down to visit our old neighborhood in Elizabeth City. We shared honeysuckle in our yard with some of the neighborhood kids. When Ryan went to shake Khalif’s hand, Khalif would have none of it.

“Nah, man.” Khalif said, “We hug.” And so they did. I believe that was our first neighborhood kid hug.

I was six months pregnant at the time and some of the kids marveled at how fat I was.

“It’s only temporary,” Ryan chimed in. Then when the subject came up again, “The pounds are going to just melt off.” Although he directed his statements to the kids, I know who his real target audience was! He was making sure his wife kept her self esteem in tact. : )

We went by Earth 383 for Free Comic Book Day. A number of the neighborhood kids joined us and Ryan organized a large game of RoboRally.

Elizabeth City May 2011 Visit - Moving RoboRally Pieces

One family wasn’t present, so the dogs and I walked over to their new home. When I was still a block away, the youngest kids spotted us and started shouting out my name. They ran inside and their older siblings emerged. The 17-year old son who always seemed somewhat indifferent, came running out with the biggest smile and hugged me in the middle of the street. I spent the remainder of our time in Elizabeth City visiting with that family.

Elizabeth City May 2011 Visit - Vicky and Vick (By Ryan Somma)

The next stop was Ryan’s parent’s house in Virginia Beach. When we returned home, I went swimming in the lake behind their house with my sister-in-law and her fiance. The water was the perfect temperature and it was so pleasant and relaxing to be swimming by manicured back yards along side of ducks and seagulls.

We finished our day with a big family dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. There, I got my very first Mother’s Day card… that Ryan had secretly gotten his relatives to sign. It was a great day from start to finish.

My Relatives Kick Ass…Literally

New York Shaolin Test Day - Rachelle with Broad Sword
In May, Ryan and I got to visit the New York Botanical Gardens and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. That was just an added bonus though. We were really in New York to watch my sister-in-law test for her black belt in Shao-Lin. All the forms she and her classmates had to remember and execute was simply awe-inspiring. That afternoon also brought me the worst heartburn of my entire pregnancy courtesy of a “Magic Bar” I bought as a concession. I still made it through the entire gestation period Tums-Free.


Seattle Bug Safari

Seattle Bug Safari - Goliath Bird Eater Tarantula 4 (By Ryan Somma)
In May, Ryan and I visited Seattle. Our outings were blogged about except the Seattle Bug Safari. We very much enjoyed our visit there. The employee working that day was extremely friendly and informative. You could also see that they take their Yelp reviews seriously. One of the reviews indicated that people were getting confused and thinking the Gift Shop was the extent of the business. When we arrived, there were signs making it clear the Bug Zoo was in the back.

Annual Black Friday Cookie Decorating

Cookie Decorating - Sagan Decorating with Daddy
My family held our annual Black Friday Cookie Decorating again this year. Although we were late on the invites, it was heavily attended. When all the sugar cookies got decorated, some enterprising young girls started to decorate the other variety of cookies. Sagan also decorated his first cookie (with Daddy’s help).


Bull Run Occoquan Trail – Bull Run Regional Park to Hemlock Overlook

Bull Run Occoquan Trail - Henry, Sagan, Vicky (By Ryan Somma)
In December, Ryan started playing Skyrim. The scenery in that game is amazing and Ryan found all the walking in the game made him want to get out and do a real hike. So on December 3rd, our family took on a one way trip along the Bull Run Occoquan Trail. We traveled 7.5 miles from Bull Run Regional Park to Hemlock Overlook. This section may not have been as scenic as Skyrim, but it was still gorgeous in its own right. You walk along the water, get to see some rapids, pass by a memorial pet rock pile and see some neat trees along the way. This outing was Sagan’s longest hike to date (post birth).

January 1, 2012 at 11:02 am 2 comments

New Appreciation For…Double Chins!

I was indifferent to my chin for nearly two and a half decades. As I neared my thirties, however, I started to notice some displeasing qualities. In pictures of my profile, I’m particularly uneasy with the convex nature of my jawline and if I am not careful how I hold my head, a picture from the front can reveal a double chin! I’ve adopted a series of strategies over the years.

20071123 - Cookie Decorating - Vicky, Carolyn & Justin  (by AE) - 2059776495_dcdc93bdd7_o
Strategy 3B – See that cookie I’m holding? It was placed in that exact position on purpose! (Photo by Aaron Evans)

This unfortunately means I have something in common with a notorious dictator. Joseph Stalin was also self conscious of his double chin and he also tried to diminish it in photographs. Unlike Stalin, however, I don’t have control of the media. Although I get to review and approve my own uploaded photos, I still occassionally cringe when I see what my friends have chosen to upload to Flickr or Facebook. : )

Little Sagan Charles arrived early and weighed only 4 pounds 13 ounces when he was born.  Like a lot of babies, he lost weight his first week and was staving off some jaundice.  His first pediatrician visit, he was down to 4 pounds 5 ounces and in the “< 3” percentile for his weight.  Suddenly my number one goal was to get the little guy to gain some weight.  Every two hours, we fed and pumped.  Fed and pumped, fed and pumped, fed and pumped.  His bilirubin score no longer became a concern.  He put on 7 ounces in one weekend, so his weight was moving in the right direction.

At his one month appointment, he was projected to weigh 6 pounds 8 ounces, but he came in at 7 pounds 11 ounces, moving him up to the 10% percentile.  A month later, he came in at 10 pounds 12 ounces placing him solidly in the 25%.

And as Sagan moved from the “< 3 %” percentile to the “25 %”, he outgrew some clothes, he got chubby thighs and chubby cheeks…. and developed the most beautiful, glorious double chin.

Sagan - September 18 - Beautiful Double Chin
Double Chin on September 18, 2011

Suddenly, the phrase “double chin” no longer had the same connotation.  It’s become a source of pride, the souvenir of a job well done– over 33 gallons of pumped breastmilk (as of Dec 14th) and a son whose well pass the fifteen pound mark.

Now when I think of double chins, I smile.

Which is good. I need to differiate myself from Stalin in any way I can.

December 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Halloween… and Convergent Evolution

Happy Halloween!

For Sagan’s first Halloween, Ryan and I wanted to pick something delightfully geeky. Star Trek was too obvious and “Tetris Piece” looked like it would be uncomfortable for Sagan to wear… or more importantly, uncomfortable for Mommy to put on Sagan.  Every time I have to put something on over his head, I remind him about the birth canal but he seems to find little solace in precedence.

Ryan suggested “Gir” from Invader Zim. Sagan’s Aunt Carolyn is a big Gir fan and even has a handmade Gir hat! I have friends in Washington State who named their dog after Gir. Ryan’s suggestion seemed like it would be an instant score in a niche audience!


So how does one with limited time make a costume for a 16 week old baby? Well, to help answer that question I needed to look no further than Kitty’s Heart of Nature. Last year for her daughter’s first Halloween, Kitty made adorable owl costumes, using brown hoodies as the base.

I ordered a reversible green jacket (with hood!) from Precious Cargo. Take your handy glue gun, a supply of felt and two foam balls and voila– Gir costume.

Sagan - Halloween - Outfit Alone
Gir Costume

And like the “real Gir”, Sagan could be completely in disguise or reveal his inner self.

Sagan - Halloween - Gir (Hood Down) with Mommy
Who’s Gir?

Sagan - Halloween - Riding as Gir
Sagan’s Gir!!!

Even though I copied Kitty’s hoodie technique, I was still feeling pretty creative and unique. That is, until I did a search on “Gir Hoodie”. It turns out, there are quite a few Gir Halloween costumes out there. As I scanned the photos in Google and Flickr, I realized I had taken part in a demonstration of convergent evolution.

Convergent evolution is when unrelated species independently acquire the same biological trait. A good example is wings. Mammals, birds and insects all “invented” the wing and guess what, they were reinventing something the reptiles had done way back in the day of the pterodactyls!

Convergent Evolution
Photos by Michael Pennay, CaptPiper, and tanakawho

Really when you boil it down, convergent evolution is about problem solving. An organism is presented with a challenge in its environment and it comes up with a solution. Sometimes the solution is such a perfect fit to the problem, it is just asking to be discovered again…and again…and again.

Such is the case with the Gir Halloween Costume.

You have a green character whose head can peel back and reveal his robot self.

Uh… green hooded article of clothing. Duh!!!

Convergent Girs
(Photo Credits: DilanofDreams, spookykittencouture, windmillcookie, and ME!)

Sagan’s costume does have one thing going for it. I didn’t find any other babies dressed up as Gir.

“He’s the only Gir that’s about the right size,” Ryan pointed out. 🙂

11/1/2011 Update! – Sagan is NOT the only baby dressed up as Gir. Check out adorable little Paige and her vastly superior Gir costume! (Hat Tip, Scott!)

There are more pictures of Sagan in his Gir costume on Flickr and there are plenty of pictures of other Gir costumes all over the internet.

P.S. If you are interested in purchasing a Gir costume for yourself, SpookyKittenCoutures (pictured above) does do custom orders. You can also find a whole slew of Gir-themed products at HotTopic.

October 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm 2 comments

Falls Ridge Preserve with Sagan, 14 Weeks

This week, Ryan and I had a business meeting in beautiful, gorgeous, splendidly stunning Southwest Virginia. Our boss could not have scheduled a better time! We were visiting right in the midst of the changing autumn leaves.

Blacksburg - Fall Colors in Ellett Valley
The View From Where We Were Staying

Although the primary purpose of the trip was business, we had to sneak in a hike with Sagan as well. One afternoon when Sagan was awake, we drove over to the Nature Conservancy’s Falls Ridge Preserve.

When I lived in Blacksburg, I used to take my friend’s son, Penn, out hiking. Over the years, I managed to get a picture of my young hiking buddy in the same spot at Falls Ridge at two years old, five years old and nine years old.

Falls Ridge: Two Year Old Penn at Falls
Falls Ridge: Five Year Old Penn at Falls
Falls Ridge - Penn at Age 8
Penn at Falls Ridge Through the Years

This week, the tradition started again. Ryan and I got a picture of Sagan at the same spot. He needed a little help posing.

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Sagan Stands on the Falls Ridge Stump 1

Some other shots I’m fond of:

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Sagan and Ryan At Falls 1
Ryan and Sagan at Falls

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Vicky Smiles as Sagan Stands on Stump (Close)
Helping Sagan Pose

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Changing Maple Leaves
Changing Maple Leaves

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Vicky and Sagan on Trail
Sagan and I on the Trail

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Creek
Creek Below the Falls

Sagan was awake for most of our hike which was exciting. Of course in the end, he did what he usually does during outings with the Moby Wrap… he fell asleep. : )

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Vicky and Sleeping Sagan
Sleeping Sagan

October 20, 2011 at 1:00 am 4 comments

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