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, September 29, 2009

Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth is an AMAZING experience. I always knew that when I had children I would want to have them without any drugs and with limited medical intervention (mostly because I am deadly afraid of IVs), and I feel extremely blessed and lucky that my birth (and my midwives) provided what I had hoped for. Many mothers that I know who had intended to give birth naturally were unable to for a wide array of reasons. For some women, this sort of experience is non-essential. But, for others, not having the birth they dreamed of can take a long, long while to get over.
Natural childbirth has many advantages for both mother and baby. For one, if birth happens naturally, the baby is not flooded with chemicals before entering the world. The placenta does block a portion of the chemicals from reaching the baby, but about 70% actually make it to the fetus (aka soon to be your kid!). These drugs can slow the baby's heartbeat and affect the respiratory system and remnants of these drugs remain in the baby's system for weeks, potentially causing sluggishness in the weeks after birth. The long term effects of these drugs on the baby is still an unknown.
As for the mother, we can all imagine that epidurals, c-sections and other medical interventions carry some sort of a small risk. The biggest problem with these interventions is that one intervention oftentimes leads to a whole host of further interventions with the end result being a c-section, the furthest things from a natural birth that there is. For example, pitocin, which is used to stimulate labor/increase contractions make the contractions worse and often causes the women to need an epidural. The epidural slows labor back down, and requires more pitocin to be put into the bloodstream. The cycle usually continues on and on until the doctors decide enough is enough and the birthing mama gets sent in for a section. Ugg. These drugs can all have a slew of potentially negative side effects to the mother (from headaches and backaches to huge drops in blood pressure, respiratory problems and even death). The more drugs and different drugs that are used, the more potential for a negative reaction!
Lastly, that first interaction between mama and baby can be seriously altered when labor drugs are involved. Mama and baby can both be drowsy and out of it (or still under medical supervision and not even near one another) making that initial bonding, as well as breastfeeding, harder to establish.
How to avoid all of this? If you are a low-risk pregnancy, consider having a birth at home or at a freestanding birth center (where no doctors are involved). I had my birth at Alma Midwifery, in Portland, and had a magnificent experience. It was a free standing birth center, with patient midwives, and no available pain medication. So, if I changed my mind and wanted drugs.. too bad! Risky you say? I would have to disagree. My midwives were wonderful and we had a backup plan for a hospital trip if ANYTHING did not go as planned. Birthing was painful, but not nearly as bad as I had imagined it to be, and I never even thought about wanting drugs. I loved being present and involved in my birth and it was THE most empowering thing that I have ever done. The picture shown above is in the room where my son was born less than an hour after his birth.
Natural childbirth is not for everyone, I understand, and I would never, ever look down upon any women who chose drugs because I know that everyone experiences pain differently. Every women should be congratualted for her birth no matter how the baby arrives. But, for those of you who would consider having a drug-free birth, I encourage you to look into that option. You are a woman and you are strong. Your baby will thank you!
If you haven't already seen Ricki Lakes' 2007 film The Business of Being Born, it is a MUST see. Ricki talks about some of the misconceptions of homebirths, tells her story of a homebirth and follows a mother along her birthing journey. Empowering, powerful and amazing. Every women should HAVE to see this before choosing where to birth.
Also, the September-October issue of Mothering magazine has some great articles on natural childbirth.
Birth-on ladies! Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recycling Facts

I recently blogged a bit about some recycling basics. Since then, I have found a couple of statistics about aluminum recycling that I thought were share-worthy.
  • Making beverage cans from recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy and produces 95% less GHG emissions than producing a can from new material.
  • 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.
So, drink that well-deserved beer, but make sure to recycle your can!
Check out Novelis for more information about recycling. Pin It Now!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ride More, Drive Less

The more you drive your car, the more fossil fuels you burn, which, in turn, leads to more and more global warming. In short, lots of driving = bad for the environment. Why not run some of your errands by bike? Biking is great exercise, does not require fuel inputs (except some snacks for the rider!) and is less likely to drive you insane.
My little guy LOVES going on bike rides. We have both a copilot bike seat (shown above) and a burley trailer, both of which we easily found used on craigslist. This allows me to ride my bike to the library, to get groceries, or anywhere else nearby, with my son happily in tow. Happily would be an understatement. He actually squeals and yells "fun!" practically the entire time we are riding. Plus, I can burn off the chocolate bar I am going to eat after dinner while riding to the store to buy it. Woo-hoo!
A few practical notes: make sure you and your kiddo have a helmet on and avoid busy streets. Portland (once again) is an awesome city because it has bike streets (which cars can drive on, but they are biker-friendly) . Go by bike! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moon Sand

Need a super easy non-toxic craft for you kiddos?
Make Moon Sand! You can buy Moon Sand at your local toy store, but it is pretty expensive (for what it is) and it is cheap and easy to make at home (OK, and a little bit messy).

All you have to do is:
  • Mix 1.5 cups of cornstarch with 3/4 cup cold water
  • Add glitter if you want
  • Add 3 cups of sand (available at your local hardware store..... or the beach)
  • Mix well (using your hands is best) until all sand is mixed in.
  • Play!
Warning: Moon Sand is pretty messy.. it is easy to clean once it is dry, but it does get all over the place when the kids play with it. I have made Moon Sand an outside-only toy, and it would be wise to have a wet rag available for hand-wiping so dirty hands don't touch door knobs and faucets. Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pants for Your Little Ones

Sewing pants for your toddler or baby is easy and quick. Once you get the hang of it, it only takes about 15 minutes to make a pair. Try using extra material you have around the house, or think about re-purposing an old t-shirt or skirt you have lying around.
You can simply use a pair of baby pants in the size that you want as your "pattern". Just be forewarned that cloth diaper wearing babies will need more room in the butt area than babies who wear disposables. If you don't leave enough material for the diaper, you will end up with 'low-rise' toddler pants. Ask me how I know this. And they are probably not what you are looking for.
For step-by-step directions on exactly how to make these pants, check out the rookie moms webpage.
A few more tips: When cutting out your pants, make sure you leave enough room at the top for the pants to get folded over the elastic-- this is where trimming it down too much could leave you with baby low-riders. Also, I like to double-sew the inside seam area, as I know how much kiddos move around. That way I am not back fixing them after 2 wears. Oh yeah, and make sure to wash your material first (if you are not re-purposing). You don't want the fabric to shrink after you have made the pants! Pin It Now!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guilt-Free French Toast

Ingredients :
  • 6 pieces of bread (whole grain is healthiest!)
  • 3 eggs
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla
  • organic plain yogurt
  • fresh fruit
Heat a lightly greased skillet on medium-low heat. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat. Add vanilla and cinnamon to your liking (I like it VERY cinnamon-y!). Dip each piece of bread into the egg concoction and put onto the warm skillet. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until the egg coating is solid and the outside is lightly browned.
Remove from skillet and top with plain yogurt and fresh in-season fruit. Eat and enjoy! Serves 3.
Unlike normal french toast that is covered in butter and maple syrup, this version has no added sugar and it provides a serving of calcium. Plus, it is deee-licious!
For an extra touch, you can also heat the fruit topping before you serve. Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You CAN can

Have you ever wanted to make jam or can tomato sauce but thought it was above and beyond your abilities? I did....BUT, this summer I learned that canning is EASY... especially if you are using foods that are acidic like fruits and tomatoes. Acidic foods do NOT need a pressure canner, but can be canned using only a hot water bath (which is simpler and much less expensive).
If you are interested in canning, you will need to invest in (or borrow) a pressure canner or a big stock pot with a tray that will keep the jars from resting on the bottom of the pot (that could make them explode!). Craigslist or garage sales are a great place to check for these items. You will also need: tongs, a wide-mouthed funnel, and a magnetic lid-remover. These items can all be bought separately or packaged together anywhere that canning equipment is sold. You will also need glass jars with NEW lids.
As for recipes and instructions, that is for you to decide, as the possibilities are endless. For good recipes or recipe-specific instructions, do a google search or check out You can find detailed instructions and tons of recipes for making your own jams, pasta sauces and more! Please be forewarned that if you are wanting to can non-acidic foods (such as green beans) you DO need a pressure canner and the instructions are slightly more rigorous.
Just think... all of these jars of jam will make a GREAT holiday present! Pin It Now!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Down Home Fritters

More zucchini than you know what to do with? Try out my down home fritters (note: my husband named these, not me!)

What you need:
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (either cook dried bean in crock pot for several hours or you can use canned beans
  • 1.5 oz. soft goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • flour
  • A few tbl olive oil
What you do:
  • Shred zucchini. Mix in a bowl with black beans and goat cheese.
  • Add egg to mixture
  • Heat olive oil in pan over medium-low heat (I like to use a cast-iron skillet)
  • Form mixture into small patties and dip into bowl of flour
  • Lightly fry in olive oil until cooked, flipping halfway through (should be browned on both sides but not burnt.
  • Eat and enjoy!
Pin It Now!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Here is another zucchini recipe, just in case any of you have as much zucchini as I do....

What You Need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar or substitute 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup agave syrup for lower glycemic bread
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
What You Do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 4 mini-loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Beat in the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in zucchini. Gently fold in the blueberries. Transfer to the prepared mini-loaf pans.
  3. Bake 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Film Review: The Corporation

The Corporation is a documentary from 2004 that I just had a chance to watch. The film takes a good hard look at corporations; how they are treated legally, the power they have, the mindset behind a corporation, as well as the endless impacts to society and the environment that many of these corporations have. After watching this movie, I couldn't believe that I had never seen it. It includes interviews with big names such as Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky (among many others) and does a great job at touching on all of the important environmental and social issues that are prevalent today: genetically modified food, water privatization, rBGH, and many more. My one complaint about this film is that many of the issues are not explained form the beginning. So, for example, if you don't have a basic understanding of the controversy about genetically modified foods, you may have trouble grasping all of the information they present. This makes me hesitant to show it to my intro environmental science class until we have discussed most of the issues. However, the fast paced nature of the movie makes it great for someone who is familiar with these big issues, and it allows for things to be kept exciting. I would strongly recommend adding this one to your Netflix list! Pin It Now!