Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Reflections on a Cleanse

As some of you know, I began a cleanse the second week of January- no gluten, processed sugar, meat, alcohol, or coffee. I ended up cutting it down to a 10 day cleanse. Not because I couldn't hang (I was actually doing quite well) but because Phoebe was sleeping terribly and all I could think was that my milk did not have the same calorie or fat content during the cleanse.
Well, ending the cleanse did not seem to help Phoebe's sleep habits. While she hasn't had any nights where she wakes up every 20 minutes since I ended the cleanse, I still have not had more than 2 hours of sleep in a row. Oh well. I think my body is just adjusting to a new level of tired now.
Anyways, I thought I would share with you how my cleanse went and tell you what I would do differently if I were to do one again. First off, if I were to plan a cleanse again, I think I would choose to start with 10 or 14 days. 21 days for my first cleanse was a bit ambitious. I also think that I would choose a different time of the year to do my cleanse... This time around, I was very conscious about not cutting calories (as I am still nursing)..but without any of my normal gluten staples to turn to, I found that I was still hungry, even after eating lots of fruits and veggies. So, I ended up lots of gluten-free cereal, corn chips, and other processed non-gluten foods, which, I guess was good at cleansing the gluten out of my system, but I wasn't exactly the picture of health. I have a big sweet tooth and since I couldn't eat dessert, I ended up eating a large quantity of spicy corn chips on an almost nightly basis in order to curb my craving for sweet.
I feel like a cleanse should also be about eating lots of raw foods.... but since we try and eat locally, eating raw in Portland's winter is pretty limited. I ate lots of apples and pears (as well as citrus) and I ate at least one salad a day, but most of what I ate was cooked. And had cheese on it! The next time I cleanse, I will choose the summertime, when I can focus on eating more exciting salads, lots of fresh fruit, and raw veggies.
Now that I have been back to eating sugar and gluten again, I have been noticing how terrible these things make me feel. Especially gluten. After taking a break from it, I could notice how I did feel once I reintroduced it..... and it makes me very sluggish and also, just gives me a slight bit of nausea, like my body is working really hard to break it down. So, have I been avoiding it? Sadly, I love bread and cookies way too much, but I have definitely cut back my gluten intake quite a bit, and have been making many more gluten-free choices. I should eat what makes me feel great, and obviously, gluten is not one of those things.
As for now, I am enjoying indulging in coffee, alcohol. bread and dessert.... and after a cleanse, thse things really do feel like an indulgence! Pin It Now!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for a weekending post....

On Saturday...
A trip to the river-beach to take the dogs (and ourselves) to run and play and sit in the sand.
It was beautiful and frozen, the sky a pale colored pink.
We watched the frost turn to dew while we enjoyed the morning
And I documented it all in photographs.
We ran a few errands, I cleaned the car
And mama and daughter had some one-on-one time
while dad took Finn to a birthday party.
Dinner was Thai take-out
Eaten while watching Winnie the Pooh,
And dishes were magnificently minimal.
Todd and I finished up the evening watching an adult movie,
(enough Pooh for us for one day)
while I knitted away, of course.
On Sunday....
I dragged my tired self to the gym
And while Finn helped his dad move into his new office,
which, I must say, is pretty fantastic,
Phoebe took a nap
And I had some time to myself, which, was spent prepping for my class
(and sadly not doing anything fun).
Then a family trip to the Chinese Gardens
to watch the lion dances
and celebrate the Chinese New Year.
A little time sewing, stocking up my etsy shop,
And a dinner that was cooked on the grill
while rain pitter-pattered on the windows.
After bedtime and dishes,
Me, and my glass of wine, headed for the couch.
A pile of yarn and a book by my side.

So much was done, yet it seemed too short.
How was your weekend?

And, I must apologize for the mass of photos. I recently got a new camera, and I have been a bit trigger-happy, to say the least.

Pin It Now!

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Extremely Shy Guy?

So, I have been a bit worried about Finn lately. As a wee child, he was boisterous and outgoing, and then shortly after I became pregnant with Phoebe he became more shy; he started to become a bit timid when doing things without mom or dad, avoided conversation with strangers, and sometimes even avoided other children at the playground. I assumed it was a stage. A reaction to my pregnancy. Or just being two and a half. Or whatever. But something that he would soon outgrow.
As time has gone on, however, this "stage" has continued, and he has become even more shy. I would actually describe him as extremely shy in certain situations. So much so that it is in fact affecting his "success" in interacting with the outside world and he doesn't always act appropriately in social situations. Sometimes, if he feels uncomfortable he may run up and kick me or make a loud noise in someone's face, and I can tell it is because he is just not sure how to act. However, his extreme shyness seems to be somewhat random, where one moment he can't deal and acts completely inappropriately, and then the next he is an outgoing chatterbox and will strike up conversations with complete strangers.
Let me give you a couple examples to show you what I mean... We signed him up for a soccer class when Phoebe was just a few weeks old and he had 3 other friends in the class. I was sure he was going to love it. Instead, I found that each day, when asked to go with the group, he would cry, refuse to look at the instructor, and then sit down in the middle of the gym and scream for me. Needless to say, he didn't participate much. However, several times after class, he would wander up to the coach and start telling him these long stories and not stop talking. Go figure, right?
For the past couple months, we have had Finn in swim class with his best friend. Each day, he is reluctant to go over with the group and refuses to look the teacher in the eyes. The first day of class, he actually threw a bucket at the teachers face when he wasn't sure how to react. That was quite embarrassing for me. But, by the end of each class, he is splashing around and having a great time, but then 2 days later, when we are back, he once again doesn't want to get in or even look at the teacher. It is like we have to start over and warm up to the teacher every time.
He also refuses to go to the potty at school. Which is at his best friend's house. He will go if I go in with him, but not if I am gone. The whole idea of it overwhelms him. And some days we will go to the park and he will make a new friend and play for an hour. Other days he will come running to me if another child even looks at him.
Is this normal behavior for a 4 year old? I know that kids his age get moody and have "off" days, but this behavior is consistently inconsistent. If it is 'just' a phase, it is certainly a long one, because this first started almost two years ago.
It has crossed my mind to wonder if he could have some form of autism, but aside from these strange social interactions, he seems totally normal. He has many friends that he is not shy with at all, he likes to be social and interact... he just needs it to all be on his terms and I can't seem to get him to break out of his shell on a regular basis.
Has anyone dealt with something similar to this? Any advice? Any good books to read?
Part of me thinks that this is just a long phase of him starting to become his own person, and someday he will eventually learn how to act appropriately in 'new' social situations. But then, if he doesn't, I feel like I will have lost all of this time when I could be helping him address his fears.
Do I continue to sign him up for classes to 'push' his limits and help him get more used to dealing with different social situations, or should I ease back and give him some time to socialize only in situations that he is comfortable in? I was really shy as a child (and still am somewhat today), but I would never have thrown a bucket at my swim teachers face, or refused to look at an adult when they asked me a question. So to me, it seems problematic, but maybe I am just worrying too much. My husband think I am crazy, but yet, he isn't the one who takes him to soccer or swimming or the park, so he doesn't see what is happening first hand.
I am toying with the idea of making an appointment with his doctor, but wonder if I am just an overly concerned crazy lady. The latter is probably at least somewhat true, but I just don't know how to deal with my child. I obviously want the best for him, and in order for him to reach his full potential he needs to be able to interact with the outside world. I am just not sure how to help him. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for another Yarn Along. This week I am almost done with Phoebe's jumper. I am using this pattern, but I decided to knit it in the round and have made some alterations. I just have to finish the neckline trim and I was also thinking about adding on some knitted flowers. I am not sure how to do that, but I am thinking I could figure it out! I had intended this to be a present for Phoebe's first birthday, but since that is still 5 weeks away, we'll see if I can wait that long to give it to her.
I also started another pixie hat for Phoebe. She had outgrown the first one I made her and they are just too cute, Plus, I was feeling like I wanted to knit something really colorful and cheery to bring me out of the dreary Portland gloom....
And, in the reading world, I started Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and am loving it. If I had more time to read I could probably finish it all at once.
What are you reading and knitting?
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Collapse: A Review

I finally finished reading Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. It took me over a month to get through this book-- not because I didn't like it, I did, but man, it is intense. For one, the book pretty much reads as a series of essays. The writing is not dry, but, the subject matter is historical fiction and science, so its not exactly an action packed romance either. The subject matter is also pretty depressing. Important, extremely so, but depressing nonetheless. I found that most days my brain just couldn't handle more than 20 pages or so.
The first section of Diamond's book discusses several ancient civilizations that have collapsed (including Easter Island, the Maya, the Greenland Norse and several others), and discusses reasons for their collapse.  The second section discusses modern societies that are either on the brink of collapse or at least having some major issues, including Rwanda, Haiti, China and Australia. The last section talks about why societies make mistakes that lead to their failures and how this relates to our modern day world. He relates our current day world to an ancient society before a collapse happened, and shows that we are at a turning point where we either need to fix ourselves and our planet before it is too late, or we will be destined to suffer the fate of the many ancient civilizations that have fallen before us... except this time it will be on a global scale, not just  the loss of a single island-based civilization.
Diamond makes some convincing arguments and basically scared the pants off of me. Even for someone like me, who teaches these same depressing issues to college students, the points he made were pretty depressing.
However, on a good note, Diamond is a self-pronounced cautious-optomist and based on his research, he doesn't think that things are too late for us yet. Do we need to make some serious changes and revisions in the ways that we choose to live? Yes. Do we need to rethink our management strategies for our natural resource use? Yes. We have some serious work ahead of us, but all is not yet lost. But, as Diamond says, if we don't start to choose to make changes to the way we are living, and to live more simply, than the Earth (through global warming, pollution, resource depletion, etc.) is going to start to make those changes for us. And, it seems to be like we would be better off in control of our own destiny and not just waiting to see what changes lie ahead of us.
This is a great read that I would recommend to all. But, give yourself time to read it in and process is. This stuff is too intense for a simple skim-through. Pin It Now!

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012: Year of the Dragon and A Couple of Fun Crafts

Happy Chinese New Year! The past few months I have been reading a lot of Chinese-american literature and watching a lot of movies set in China (including the phenomenal BBC Wild China series that you can instant view on Netflix). So, anyways, I guess you could say that I have China on the brain and this year, Finn and I decided to make some crafts to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
We made some quick and easy paper lanterns and a dancing dragon. We found instructions for both crafts here. We had fun making them, and Finn has been parading his dragon around the house for days.
Hoping the Year of the Dragon brings you much luck and happiness!

Pin It Now!

Friday, January 20, 2012

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Right Now....

.....I am listening to the rain falling madly outside my windows

.....I am watching Finn look out the window watching the rain puddle up in our yard (I am pretty sure he is wishing that the rain was more snow, and, truthfully, so am I)

.....I am enjoying chocolate chip muffins, the first gluten and processed sugar I have had in 10 days. I decided to end my cleanse halfway through, as Phoebe is still sleeping terribly, and all I can think is that is has something to do with my diet shift. 

....I am glad that this week of teaching is over and that the weekend is nearing. I am ready for some family time.

What are you doing?
Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012's First Snow

Portland doesn't get much snow, but we usually see a couple of storms each winter, some (much) bigger than others. We had our first snowfall (OK, dusting) of 2012 on Sunday, with a little more snow today. Most of it melted as it hit the ground, but it did have a nice ambiance. I miss the days of snowy Colorado and Montana winters and I am envious of all of the folks that had a chance to head up to Mt. Hood and play. Todd gave me 2 day passes to go snowboarding this winter... now I just need to make plans to use them!
There is the possibility of more snow this week. I know that I would love to have a snow day... how about you? Pin It Now!

Monday, January 16, 2012

This Mama Needs Some Sleep!

I have been exhausted this past week. Delirious actually. I haven't slept for more than 2 hours in a row for over a week. Somehow, my sweet little baby who used to get up two or three times a night to nurse now wants to nurse 5, 6, 7 or heck, even 15 times a night. Sometimes she wakes me up every 20 minutes, sometimes I am "lucky" enough to get a 2 hour stretch. How can something that is so cute and sweet all day be wreaking such havoc on my mental and physical health?
I feel like I have been transported to the tiredness that happens when you have a brand new baby... except that I am working and no one is bringing me dinner or offering to do chores around my house. Phoebe just seems to need mama (and mama's milk) and nothing else seems to suffice.
During the past week Finn has also wet the bed 5 out of the 7 nights (and he still wears a pull-up; wetting the bed just means he peed in his diaper so much that it overflowed). That meant that either Todd or I was up changing him and his bed in the wee hours and the laundry cycle has been endless. And, if you remember, I started my cleanse last week. Which means no coffee in the morning to lift me out of the fog, no glass of wine at the end of the night to take the edge off and help me fall asleep, and no chocolatey goodness to treat myself to after a long day. And once I had to stop eating gluten for my cleanse, I realized how much I really did subsist on bread products....especially for snacks. It feels good to cut these things out, but I also find myself to be always hungry. And super tired plus hungry equals cranky mama.
Anyways, I am hoping that this is just a phase. A short phase. Anyone have any tips? Words of encouragement? This mama needs some sleep! Pin It Now!

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sibling Love

It is so sweet to see how much Finn love Phoebe; he helps pick her up when she falls over, brings her toys to play with, and talks to her in a sweet, sweet voice. And Phoebe, of course, just adores Finn. She spends most of her day just taking in his actions and emotions. I know that soon enough there will be sibling rivalry, but for now, we are enjoying our sibling bliss....

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for another Yarn Along. I am getting a bit of a late start writing this as I have had several nights of nearly no sleep in a row and I am a bit delirious.
This week has been a productive knitting week for me. I finished Phoebe's mittens on a string, and even made her a matching hat with ear flaps (that she can't pull off! Ha! I win!). I also finished the fern lace cowl that I made for myself (see the terrible self-portrait below)...and, it did stretch more and would have fit perfect except that I bound it off too tight. The pattern said to bind off loosely, which I thought I did, but I think I needed to bind off VERY loosely. I guess I am a tight knitter. I can put it on, but I literally have to force it over my head. Once it is on it is fine, but getting it on or off is sort of silly. I am disappointed, as it the first thing I have made for myself in over a year, but I love the yarn and I don't want to start it over. So, I will make it work. I just starting knitting Phoebe a pullover dress for her first birthday (which is March 1st already!) and I am using this pattern but I am modifying it quite a bit because I want to knit in the round instead of having to sew up seams at the end. Hopefully I won't mess it up. I chose an aqua blue with brown trim (I am not doing any striping).
I am still reading Collapse, which really, I am enjoying, but it is intense and I am having trouble reading more than a few pages at a time. It has also gotten pushed down in the ranks because I started The Night Circus, which is marvelously imaginative, and I have been sucked in.
What are you reading and knitting?

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Food, Inc.: Medel to Monsanto- the Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest: A Review

Food, Inc.: Medel to Monsanto- the Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest by Peter Pringle is a book about genetically modified foods (GMOs) and how they have changed the world's agricultural systems. The book has no relation to the 2008 film Food Inc. (at least as far as I can find), but does discuss many of the same concepts. This book was published in 2003, so it is a bit outdated, but I found that it gave an excellent summary of the history and development of GMOs. At the start of the book, the author claims to present an unbiased account of GMOs, and while he does do a fairly good job of presenting both the pros and the cons, his arguments still seemed to lie heavily on the "against" side.
The book starts out discussing the beginnings of genetic modification, including the technological challenges and the motivation behind this engineering. It also delves into the regulations behind GMOS (which are very minimal mind you) and how they fall into a category called GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), essentially because the GMOs look similar to their non-GMO counterparts. A big part of the book is discussing the myriads of patents that have been placed on GMOs. (Funny how they are similar enough to non-GMO food to not be required to be tested for safety, but different enough to put a patent on it, isn't it?). Pringle also talks about several of the independent safety studies that were conducted, and the crazy politics behind them. He also discussed contamination of GMO seeds into the worldwide food supply, which may have potentially harmful effects on insects, wildlife, plants and us!
Pringle leaves us with the thought that GMOs are probably not going to cause the destruction of the world, like many anti-biotech groups seem to plead, but they are also probably not the innocent bystanders that the seed corporations claim them to be. The fact that this book is several years old becomes evident at the end, when Pringle claims that because people are concerned with the safety of GMOs and don't want to be fed them, they will soon loose their place in the market and will soon be a thing of the past. However, what we have seen in the past few years has proven otherwise: most people are ignorant about GMOs, more and more acres are planted with them each year, and companies like Monsanto still hold a large share of the seed marketplace. Individual states (like Oregon) have put measures on the ballot to try and eliminate sales of GMOs, but have failed due to huge financing against the measures by pro-GMO corporations like Monsanto.
It is interesting to see how the future really will pan out for GMOs, but, at this rate, it seems like they have found their place amongst an innocently unaware public. Pin It Now!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year's Cleanse

Awhile back, I decided that I wanted to do a food cleanse. Not a super-intense cleanse, as I am still breastfeeding, but just enough that it could sort of re-set my body and my eating habits. In general, I don't eat much meat and I eat lots of fruit and veggies. But,.... I also eats lots of white flour and I do tend to have dessert almost every day, even if it is only a square of dark chocolate. I couldn't possibly have given up these things during the holidays, when food is constantly on my mind, but now that a new year has arrived, I am ready to begin.
So, for the next 3 weeks (if I can hang), I will be abstaining from gluten, meat, processed sugar, coffee and alcohol. I am hoping that I will have more energy and just feel better and cleaner. I am also a little hopeful that going gluten-free my help to improve my asthma (and also a little nervous about it doing so, which would mean I would need to give it up permanently). I am a little anxious about what I am going to eat for snacks (I tend not to get filled up by just a piece of fruit), but I think (hope) that after a few days my body will adjust. I am envisioning a lot of salads in my future....
So, wish me luck! Here is to a cleaner me in 2012! Pin It Now!

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Moment...

{this moment} - A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Inspired by Soulemama 
Pin It Now!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Year-Along Adventure: Month 9: Volunteering

Last May, I started a year-long adventure to reduce my impact on the Earth. Some months we have made some changes that we have managed to merge into our permanent routine, and other months have not gone as well.... In December, for example, my goal was to reduce our consumption of "stuff". And, with Christmas and the holiday season... well, we didn't do so well. Even though we didn't go overboard on presents for the kids, we still did get them plenty... more than they needed. I plan on continuing to try to reduce my family's consumption in 2012, and maybe that will be easier without any holidays looming.
My goal for January is to spend some time volunteering, particularly for environmental causes. Since January is already a few days underway, I need to start looking for some volunteer opportunities pronto! January does tend to be one of the coldest and wettest months in Portland, but I think there should still be ample volunteer events happening. I hope to volunteer once or twice this month and then once every month or two after that. I think that volunteering, especially with your children, sets a great example for them to be future stewards of this Earth. Now I just need to motivate myself.... Pin It Now!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for the first Yarn Along of 2012!
Since I didn't finish Phoebe's Christmas stocking in time for Christmas, I set a goal to finish it before 2012. And, I finished up on New Year's Eve (yup, I am that lame..... I stayed home and was knitting on New Years Eve!). I decided that I would wait until next year to felt it, so right now it looks incredibly huge! Below is a picture of Phoebe in the stocking!!
Right now I am knitting a cow for me (Hooray!), which is only the second thing I have ever knitted for myself. I decided it was about time. I am using a free pattern from ravelry, the fern lace cowl, and I am using this lusciously-soft tan-colored alpaca yarn. I am in love with this yarn. Seriously. My only concern is that this cowl seems like it might be too narrow, even though I am following the pattern. (At least I have a second skein of this stuff just in case !). And, although the cowl is easy to knit, it is a pattern that you have to pay close attention to, and I already managed to make a couple of mistakes. Hopefully they won't be seen in the end. I also casted-on for a pair of mittens on a string for Phoebe. I am not using a pattern, but I think I can manage to figure this out on my own.
I am still reading Collapse by Jared Diamond. It is excellent, but very dense, and slow going. I am also reading Food Inc. by Peter Pringle, which is all about genetic modification of food. I am really enjoying this one so far.
What are you reading and knitting?

Pin It Now!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello 2012!

2011 was a year full of excitement and joy, but was also a year full of transitions. Finn went from being an only child to a big brother, and our family's roles shifted as we welcomed our new addition. We struggled with schedules, became accustomed to traveling with two children, and remembered the amazement that comes with watching a baby grow.
It's hard to believe that 2012 is already here, and with it a year full of new hope and adventures!I love the feeling of a new year starting... it seems like everything is possible again. A chance to start anew without any restrictions. A chance to dream big and accomplish those dreams.  I am a list person and make lists for everything, so I, of course, made a list of new years resolutions. I won't bore you with the details, but included on it are using up my fabric and yarn stash (which has gotten quite out of control), getting our puppy to behave like a respectable dog (read: stop jumping on people and licking kids in the face), and taking more time to just be. But, I won't lie. My list is long. Every year I set myself up for failure. Why? Am I a self masochist? Do I think I am failing as a person? No, not really. I think it is mainly because I am such a perfectionist, and always feel that I can do more and do it better. But honestly, I can't do much more unless I either give away my children or stop sleeping, neither of which are going to happen. But, I guess writing down resolutions is a tradition, a time to re-focus my energy and decide where I want to grow during the next year. A way to remind myself who I am striving to be and to at least get myself on the right path.
So, here is to 2012! A year of love, life and laughter!
Happy New Year! Pin It Now!