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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back to Work After Baby

Well, today's the day. I have to go back to work and I still have baby brain. Luckily I am only teaching one course this term, which means that I only teach 1 or 2 afternoons a week (depending on if we have a field trip or not), and it is a course that I have taught several times before, so my prep work is pretty limited. But, I still have to go back to work. I have to remember to brush my teeth. I have to hope that I don't leak milk all over my clothes. I need to speak without cooing or using motherease. I can do it. But sort of wish I didn't have to.... not yet.
In a way, I am excited to start teaching again. I like the adult interaction, I like having a semblance of a schedule, and I enjoy my job. I love teaching my students about the environment, I love impacting their lives, and I love learning what they have to offer. But, if I had the choice, I would spend the next couple months at home, focused on my newest family member.
Even though my workload is minimal, and I am only gone 1 or 2 afternoons a week, I still have grading and preparations that loom over my head, making it hard to just give in to the moment that I am in. I have really been enjoying those free-from-work moments these past few months, and it will be a bit of an adjustment to go back.
But now Todd will have some daddy time with the kids, I will have a little space, and our lives will resume the routine we had before Phoebe arrived. Here's to making it through my first day back! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things this week for Yarn Along. This week, on the needles, I am still finishing up Phoebe's second wool soaker. The pattern is the Little Turtle Knits retro wool soaker (found in 100 Knitting Projects). I am also just about to start a knitted rabbit, in gray, from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms, which will be an Easter present for Finn. Now that I have two kids to make presents for, I defintely have to start preparations early.
I also just started reading Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. I have had this book from the library for months (I just kept on renewing it) but now someone else has it on hold and I am under pressure to finish up by the due date. I am one chapter in and I have already realized that my yard does not give me the circumstances to save most seeds.... but I am finding great information in this book nonetheless. I will write up a full review once I have finished. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My New Friend Hilde...

Todd and I don't exchange lots of presents.... we usually get each other a small birthday gift, go out for dinner on our anniversary, and save the Christmas exchanges for the kids. So, the last thing I was expecting this weekend was a "thank-you-for-giving-birth" present. And I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. My hubby got me a new sewing machine (!) and he thought of this all by himself. My old one works, yes, but you have to be patient and willing to putz around for about 20 minutes out of every hour in order to get it sewing again. It doesn't have much power, is hard to control, and well, wasn't my favorite. But who was I to complain? At least I had one.
Well, now, I have a much improved model. I named her Hilde (because the brand name is Viking) and I have only had time for a short test drive, but so far I am very happy! So, hubby, if you ever read this: thank you... you did good! Now I just need to find some time to sew! Pin It Now!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Planning Our Garden

This weekend did not bring Portland very good weather and I was not motivated to do much gardening or planting in the rain.... and we do have lots of planting to do! We did, however, have a fairly successful garden-planning weekend. Todd and I spent some time drawing up some yard plans and deciding where we wanted to plant what......which is not always such an easy endeavor when you have a small space and love to grow things in the nightshade family, like tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, which can only be grown in the same location once every 3 years! We also made a run to the local nursery to get supplies to build a fence for the snap peas as well as to get some netting to build a barrier to keep our puppy out of the garden area. So, we were not successful in terms of planting, but at least we made some progress.
Our list of things to plant this spring includes radishes, carrots, 2 types of beets, 2 types of kale, chard, salad greens, and potatoes. This summer we will find space for many types of squash, beans, peppers and tomatoes.

This week looks like slightly less rain, so I hope to find a couple of hours to sneak out to the garden and get some seeds in the ground...  wish me luck!
What are YOU planting this year? Pin It Now!

Friday, March 25, 2011

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 
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let the Gardening Begin!

I have been procrastinating starting my garden this year.... mostly because we just had a baby 3 weeks ago and I have been sleep-deprived and in new-baby land, but also because we had horrible gardening weather last year and our entire garden was basically a disaster.
Most of our tomatoes rotted before they ripened, slugs ate our squash sprouts as soon as they would emerge from the soil, and veggies turned moldy before we could harvest them. So about midway through the summer, I pretty much gave up on the garden. The only thing I canned for the winter was some plum chutney from our trusty ol' plum tree and turned off all thoughts of gardening......
I think part of me is nervous that we may have another garden failure...what if the weather is horrible again and we wasted money on seeds? What if we can't go harvest our summer dinner from our yard? What if I wake up each morning and have to run outside to see how much the slugs decimated?
About 6 weeks ago I finally started to get into the garden spirit when I ordered my seeds and then again today, when enough sun popped out to motivate me to spend an hour outside with Finn weeding and planting our snow peas. Even though I have a lot of planning and a lot of work to do, today's (brief) sun and short time spend in the yard gave me hope that this year our garden will rock once again. We WILL have an abundant harvest, we WILL harvest dinner from our yard and any slugs found in my yard will be fed to the ducks (you hear that slugs?!?).
I hope to get some potatoes and greens in by the end of the weekend. Let the gardening begin!
Do you garden? Have you started planting yet? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yarn Along

 Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for Yarn Along today! I am one of those people who always has more than one project on needles and I am usually reading at least 2 (sometimes 5 or 6) books at a time. I am currently finishing up a baby bonnet for new baby Phoebe as well as starting a second wool soaker for her and I am reading Gulliver's Travels and The Possibility of Everything. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Importance of Community

Lately I have been realizing how important it is to have a community that you belong to... that "community" could be family, friends, neighbors, fellow bloggers-- any group of people that helps each other out in times of need. Todd and I have been very fortunate in terms of finding a community here in Portland... We moved to Portland about 3 1/2 years ago and had no family and only a few friends in the area. However, we were lucky enough to have some friends of friends who quickly welcomed us in. Once Finn was born, I met other new mamas with kids Finn's age, and before I knew it we had found ourselves a pretty great support system here in Portland.
The strength of my community was realized as we prepared for Phoebe's birth. Friends brought by bags of hand-me-down clothes, signed up to bring by meals after the birth, and invited Finn over for play dates after she arrived. We had many wonderful gifts sent from afar, and both my mom and Todd's mom flew out to help with the early weeks of a new baby, but it was so nice to have friends here, in Portland, to offer support when we most needed it. Without our community, we would have had to buy more baby items, we would have ordered a LOT more take-out, and we would have been a lot more stressed out and isolated.
Having a community has been so important to us both in terms of our well being and our environmental impact.  Having friends who can loan you items, pass along used goods, and trade service (like childcare) helps stimulate a lifestyle where money becomes less important and where the need to purchase new items is reduced. Individuals with different skills can help one another out and things can be bartered for instead of paid for. How cool is that!? When Todd and I got married, I really wanted to have a wedding where my friends all pitched in and helped do parts of the wedding for us. One of our best friends married us, another designed and printed our invitations, and me and my mom made all of the desserts. That was a far cry from having friends do everything, as we still hired a florist, a photographer, and several other professionals, but if I would have been more organized, I think it could have been done.
As many people move away from their families to start families of their own, it is so important for us to find a support system wherever we are to help with things that the extended family used to help with. The old saying is true.... it really DOES take a village to raise a child. I am so thankful for the friends that I have, both in Portland and spread around the world, for all of the love and support that they have given me. Pin It Now!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Collapse: A Review

I watched the film Collapse over a month ago and luckily wrote up a review that same day, but haven't yet had a chance to post it. With this tired mama-brain, I would have never remembered enough details to write a review about it!! Anyways, Collapse is a film that is essentially an interview with former LA Police Officer and author Michael Ruppert. The entire film is Ruppert sitting in a room, talking, with snippets of videos cut from news casts, movies and other sources. Ruppert is known as a conspiracy theorist, and his interview does have a very doomsday-ish quality. However, he also knows a lot, and much of what he talks about is very valid (although he does make some future predictions that are a bit questionable...).
His "rant" focuses on fossil fuels, which as we all know, are coming to an end. He links the end of fossil fuels to a collapse in our economy, and eventually to a downfall (and major downsizing) of human population. He ties in population growth, genetically modified seeds, supporting local business, and all sorts of important ideas into his interview, and does a great job of integrating all of these pieces.
I enjoyed this film and felt like it did a really great job summarizing a lot of important facts about fossil fuels and human population... and how life as we know it is definitely going to  change once our cheap source of energy is gone. However, I also felt like the way Ruppert talks was sort of like changing the channel every few minutes while watching tv... he jumped back and forth between ideas and his focus was constantly changing. The few times that the interviewer asked him a question, he would start to answer it and end up talking about something completely different.
So, I guess overall I did really enjoy this movie and I feel like I agree with a lot of what Ruppert discusses. At the same time, however, I felt like they sort of portrayed Ruppert as this crazy person. It was like "here is this really smart guy who has a lot of knowledge and theories, but since he is sort of a crazy person, you may want to question what he tells you". Even though he probably is a bit crazy, and a lot passionate in his beliefs, I side with him on a lot of what he says. I guess we all have a bit of a crazy person in us somewhere.... some of us just hide it better than others. Definitely worth a watch. Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Happy first day of Spring!
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Friday, March 18, 2011

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 
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day and a failed smoothie experiment...

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Before I had children. St. Patrick's Day was always a night spend at a local pub with good friends. Now I am trying to think of a way to turn my son's bathwater green tonight and wondering if I should buy a beer to drink with the dinner I will make at home. Times change, that's for sure!
I started the morning with a very failed St. Patrick's Day experiment... In celebration of of today's holiday, I told Finn that I would make him a green smoothie for breakfast. I had 1/2 bunch of kale in the fridge, which I figured would green a smoothie right up. Well, in case anyone is wondering, it takes A LOT of kale to turn berry smoothies green. How much, I have no idea, but 1/2 bunch did basically nothing. So, then I had a very upset, crying toddler because I had promised a green smoothie and didn't deliver. So, I gave in and added enough green food coloring (leftover from making play dough) to make him happy. I'm normally not much of a fan of food coloring, but sometimes you gotta give.
Anyways, hoping you all have a wonderful St. Patty's Day and a less disastrous start to your morning. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wool Soaker!

I finally finished Phoebe's wool soaker about a week before she arrived..... it probably would have taken me longer if I hadn't decided that finishing a bunch of gifts for her might maker her arrive sooner. I was knitting up a storm for a few days just hoping that would send me into labor... hehe.
This pattern was the Little Turtle Knits retro wool soaker (found in 100 Knitting Projects). This was the hardest thing I have knit yet, and I made several mistakes (all of which were easily fixed). I think it was partially the fact that the pattern was not super-clear and partially the fact that I have only been knitting for about a year and a half. Either way, I think it turned out well, mistakes and all, although I am not in love with how the color variations of this yarn worked with this.
I learned a lot while knitting these.... the pattern required several stitches that were new to me, including making short rows. And with the somewhat ambiguous instructions in the pattern, I was a little confused at several different points and was hesitant to just give it a go. But, I did, and it made me realize that the only way to really learn something is to just try... the mistakes I made were eventually fixed and I was pretty proud of myself for making something new. And, I have already started a second soaker (this one I am hoping to finish sans mistakes!). Pin It Now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bed-Side Organizer

A few weekends ago I finally finished up a bed-side organizer for Finn. This project had been in the works for months... it was actually really easy and fairly quick, so I am not sure why it took me so long to motivate to do it.
Anyways, Finn is the kind of kid who likes to bring a lot of stuff with him to bed: milk, water, a flashlight, books, etc. And, we had a phase where he would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to find his ______ (insert item from above list here) and would scream for us to come and find it. Not exactly how I like to wake up at 2 am.
So, I put together this organizer to hang next to his bed, with pockets for drinks, flashlights, books, stuffed animals and whatever else needs to accompany him to sleep. So far it has been a big hit with Finn and a serious success for my night time sleep... and just in time for the new baby. Definitely don't need two kids waking me up at night!
I bought new fabric and ribbon for this project because I wanted Finn to pick it out so that is was special to him. Because of that, it ended up costing about $15 to make. But if you were willing to be less picky with fabric, or use something you already had, this could be made pretty inexpensively. I think it would also work great in an art room as hanging storage or a smaller version for hair accessories, etc. I am planning on making another one to organize some of his art supplies soon!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Phoebe's Birth Story

Adjusting to life as a family of 4 is going well... tiring, but that is to be expected. Finn is doing a great job of being a patient big brother, and Todd has become super-dad, somehow balancing working full time with managing to spend time with both kids each day. Luckily my mom was in town for over a week doing most of the cooking and cleaning, and a lot of everything else. Not sure what we would have done without her here, and it makes me sad that all of our family lives so far away.
Phoebe's arrival was much anticipated... Finn was born 3 weeks early, and so we were all expecting her to be early as well. A month before her due date my home birth kit was ready and in my mind I was going to have a baby any day. So as the days and weeks passed, and she still hadn't come, I was anxious to meet her and anxious to not be pregnant anymore. She ended up coming 2 days after she was due; I never in a million years would have guessed that she would have been late.... especially since about 5 weeks before her due date I started having a LOT of Braxton Hicks contractions... nights where they would be 5 minutes apart, and I was so afraid that she was going to come way too early. So I went from hoping that she would stay in long enough to wishing that she would just come on out. What a tangled mess of emotions! Looking back, I am so glad that she stayed in so that she could be strong and healthy, but I sure was impatient for her to get here.
Phoebe's birth story really starts on Friday February 25th. My midwife came by for a home visit on Friday afternoon. I asked her to check my cervix just to see if maybe I was dilated at all, and I was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. This made me really excited, and I guessed that she would be here by the end of the weekend. That night I started having mild contractions that were 4-5 minutes apart. We gave the midwives a warning and Todd and I were ready to welcome our little girl into the world. By 10 pm, the contractions were still mild and hadn't gotten any closer together so I decided to lay down and get some rest. Soon after, the contractions subsided, I fell asleep, and woke up on Saturday feeling sort of let down. All weekend I had contractions, still mild, about 5 minutes apart. They would start and stop, but never got any stronger or closer. I felt like I was destined to be in early labor for the rest of my life. On Sunday night my back had started to hurt pretty bad and I was getting pretty uncomfortable. I have a back injury that tends to pop up occasionally, but mixed with pregnancy, the pain was pretty unbearable.
Monday morning the contractions were a bit stronger, but not coming regularly anymore. I was doing my best to just not think about it. My mom was scheduled to fly in Wednesday morning, and I hoped she would be born by then, but was honestly starting to doubt it. By Monday afternoon, my back hurt so bad that I couldn't walk and couldn't even get comfortable laying down. I ended up having to put in a movie for Finn and just did my best to rest until Todd got home from work. That night I ended up calling the midwife to see what I could do for pain relief. We were pretty sure Phoebe was pushing into my sacrum, causing my back pain to flare up. She told me to do my best to rest up that night, and we had discussed maybe stripping my membranes the next day to help get labor started. We were hesitant to start labor with a hurt back, yet we were pretty sure that her head pushing into my spine was a big part of that back pain. I even confessed to Todd that if we couldn't get labor started naturally that I may resort to heading to a hospital and getting induced. I was in that much pain.
Tuesday morning I woke up around 7:30 and was having mild contractions about 4 minutes apart. Soon they were only 2 minutes apart. We called the midwife, not knowing if this was it or just another tease. She said she would stop by around 9:30 to check in on me.
By the time she arrived, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but stronger than before. She checked my cervix and I was dilated to 7 cm. She decided to stay and unpacked her things.  In the meantime, we got Finn ready and sent him to his friend's house. He was being great with my early contractions, but I knew that once things got more painful, he would probably be upset to see me like that.
I never would have imagined that I would go into labor first thing in the morning, and had expected a night time birth like Finn's. My husband was ecstatic, as he is not very good at staying awake at night. He kept commenting on how perfect this was-- he could drink his coffee while I was laboring away. All I could say was that I was glad the timing worked out for him!
The contractions continued to get stronger, but unlike my labor with Finn, they were not getting consistently closer together. When they were pretty dang intense, I would get 2 right in a row, but then have a 3 minute break. In my mind I wasn't sure if I was almost done, or if things were going to continue on for hours longer.... and that unknown was probably the worst part. But, apparently, that was my transition. Which is awesome...... with Finn, I remember turning into a wild animal during transition, throwing off my clothes and letting my eyes roll back into my head. In all honestly, when I had been thinking about giving birth again, I just really didn't want to go through transition and have that feeling of losing all control over my mind and body. And.. I didn't. During the worst of it I was still all there mentally, and although I was swearing a bit, I was aware that I was doing it and I didn't feel like a werewolf on a full moon. Phew.
The weirdest part was that this whole entire time, the little bean was still flailing around like crazy. I could feel her squirming and kicking during my contractions, which I think maybe helped me stay more grounded into the moment. During Finn's birth he didn't move a bit (or at least I didn't notice), so this was a completely new experience.
The other 2 midwives quietly slipped into the house. I felt the urge to push, I felt my water break and watched it gush onto the bed. With Finn, I had given birth in a tub, and so I never knew when my water broke. The next round of contractions I pushed, and she started to crown, but slipped back in. Since I pushed for almost 3 hours with Finn, I was determined that she was getting pushed out quick. So the next big round of contractions brought her head, and her shoulders came a minute later. Pushing all together only took about 10 minutes.
She was born at 11:41 am. So my labor that day was only about 4 hours, with only 2 of the hours being pretty intense. But, most midwives and doctors say that labor begins once you are dilated to 3 or 4 cm.... in that case, I was in labor for about 5 days!
She came out and immediately pinked up and started crying. My cord was short (I had the same problem with Finn) and so I actually was not able to hold her until the cord stopped beating and was cut. She had very little vernex since she was fully cooked (whereas Finn has come out looking like he was covered in cream cheese) and was perfect. At 7 pounds 4 ounces she was bigger than I had expected (the asthma medication I was on makes babies have lower birth weights) and was healthy! She latched on right away and I fell in love. I didn't need any stitches, didn't hemorrhage (as I did with Finn), and felt pretty good. A birth success!
Having a home birth was great. Not having to pack up to  go anywhere, having everything I needed, being in familiar surroundings and not having to go anywhere afterwords just made the birth that much better. Now I couldn't imagine wanting to do it any other way.
Now I am just enjoying these early days with my wee one. With your first child, there is so much to learn... when Finn was a newborn I felt overwhelmed and unsure of myself.  I often times found myself wishing time away... waiting for the days when he would be done with his colic, when he would sleep through the night, when he would ween himself. This time around I am actually taking the time to enjoy these days, knowing that they are so fleeting. When I am up nursing at 3:30 am, I remind myself that before I know it, her newborn days will be only a memory, so I am trying to take her in through all of my senses and simply live in this moment.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Gift for a New Big Brother

We knew the transition of having a sibling would probably be difficult, at least at times, and so Todd and I planned ahead and prepared a few gifts for the new big brother. We did purchase a really cool pirate ship that was a present from Phoebe to Finn, and that pirate ship has been a hit!
I also decided to make him a fishing game as a big brother present from me and Todd. His best friend Aoife's crafty mama made her a similar one, and I borrowed the idea from her, as Finn loves to play that game at her house. I made 6 felt fish with metal rings in their mouths and 2 fishing poles with magnetic "hooks". I then found a really cute basket at Goodwill for $2.99 to keep it all in. So far, it has been well-loved. The only slight problem is that fishing poles (even short ones) and little babies don't mix well, so we have had to make a rule that he can't play the fishing game near the baby....
Finn has done a great job as big brother so far, and I honestly do think a little hand-made loved helped eased the transition from only child, or at least it has provided some distraction for him while we are taking care of his little sister. But, I can honestly say that I am nothing but proud of my little man and the way that he has handled this!

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Our New Little Lady!

Our newest addition has finally arrived! We welcomed Phoebe Adeline Oakley Newlin into the world on Tuesday March 1st at 11:41 am. She was born at home, weighing in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces and 19.5 inches long. We are all tired, but adjusting well and big brother Finn is doing a great job!
I am hoping to find a rhythm soon and get back to some of my regular activities (like blogging!), but for now, I am trying to enjoy these early days at home becoming acquainted with this little lady.

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