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!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Trip to the Farm

Finn's preschool has been taking regular trips up to a wonderful (sort-of) nearby farm. It has been wonderful getting to know the farm... becoming familiar with the land, getting to talk to the owners, and seeing how it changes through the seasons. It reminds me how much I want to live on a farm of my own one day! Here are a few pictures from our trip today:

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Friday, April 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.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Spring Garden

As it has been for the past few years, spring is the time when I get excited and antsy about gardening. The time when I realize that gardening with small children can often be difficult (despite the wonderful learning experience that it is). The time when I wish we had more space to have a bigger garden and the time when I yearn to move to a farm where our garden space could seem endless. The time when I vow that this year's garden will be better than last year's. And the time that I feel like I could spend endless hours outside without accomplishing everything I want.
This year, I decided that we were going to simplify our garden plans. I still have big plans, mind you, but slightly less gargantuan than years past. As we have such a small space to work with, we typically buy a huge variety of seeds, but then, in reality, we only plant a few seeds of each type. This year, I decided that we would do seeds for the easier stuff: beets, greens, peas, radishes, carrots, beans and a few others, but we are going to buy starts for everything else. The cost of 2 zucchini starts can't be much more than a pack of seeds, there is less chance that the established plants will get devoured by slugs, and it is one less thing for me to do.
One of these days I will be more organized in my planning and execution of our yearly garden, but as many of you know, with 2 littles and very many other responsibilities, time for gardening is often haphazard. Regardless, we are excited to see what our 2012 garden will bring,and excited for the learning and adventures along the way.
Are you planting a garden this year? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny again over at Small Things for this week's yarn along. I haven't made as much knitting progress as I would have liked this week. I have actually been focused on sewing this week (I am trying to finish a few gifts) and during the past week our family has been very social and had plans almost every night. Completely not our style... I know it means that summer is on its way, because in Portland, the rain keeps everyone inside more. A sad fact of life. We don't let it get us down (usually), but we do let ourselves succumb to the weather and have more down time. Folks (myself included) become voluntary hermits, looking forward to quiet nights at home. Netflix is one of my best friends during the long and rainy winter. But, as soon as the weather gets nice and the rains slow down, people seem to want to hang out non-stop. Everyone is outside all of the time and enjoying every bit of the un-rain.I think we do the same amount of socializing per year as we would living anywhere else, but we just do 90% of it within the span of 4 months.
So, anyways, this week I didn't find much time for knitting and I am still still still working on Phoebe's small things sweater (are you all bored yet?). However, I have finished the body and I am partway done with the first sleeve. I am hoping next week I will have a finished sweater to show you (fingers crossed that I don't disappoint). .
I am still reading Paul Hawkens' book Blessed Unrest. Actually, I am still on Chapter 1. It is pretty heavy and intense, and honestly, once I started book 2 of the Hunger Games trilogy, I just set this one aside. I am trying to make some progress on it before I start the last book in the Hunger Games set.
I am also reading a book by a mama blogger called Confessions of a Scary Mommy. I am only a few chapters in, and so far I have both loved and hated this book. I love it because it is funny. Hilarious. It brings to life all sort of terrible mommy thoughts, many of which have crossed my mind, but that I have been too proud to admit. It's nice to know that other ladies have dealt with similar feelings of incompetence and regret when it comes to our child-rearing skills. But, at the same time, the author's viewpoint on parenting is a complete 180 from my own. I don't want to judge anyone for decisions they make during the course of their parenting (I know that job is hard enough without getting criticism), but she also seems to just rip on the parenting choices that I have proudly made (having a natural birth, bringing home our children's placentas to plant, using cloth diapers, etc.). I am trying to look past those annoying criticisms, forget my ego, and enjoy the humor. Because really, the book is damn funny.
I also picked up a stack of parenting books (yes, another set) from the library. They all focus on dealing with 'sensitive' children. I haven't actually started reading any of them yet, but I am hoping they will help me through a bit of phase (hopefully?) that we are in with Finn. I won't bore you now, as I plan to write a post devoted to this issue soon....hopefully next week.
In reality, I will probably read none of these books this week and will likely succumb to reading book 3 of the Hunger Games. Seriously people, it is calling my name. I am trying to hold off until i can make some progress on saving my son and the environment, but we'll see what happens.
Happy Yarn Along! What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

World Without Fish: A Review

World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky is a young adult book about the destruction that is happening in our oceans and the depletion of fish on a global scale. I grabbed this book on a whim one day as I passed by it at the library. One of the environmental science courses I teach talks a lot about the decline of ecosystems, including oceans, and the problem of overfishing in general. And, as a vegetarian who eats fish, I know that I am contributing to this overfishing problem. So, I thought it couldn't hurt to learn a few more of the details on this subject.
The book is interesting as the author is an ex-fisherman, and so he knows the topic from a point of view that most scientists don't. And, as an ex-fisherman, he doesn't think that stopping fishing is the solution to the overfishing problem.. instead he focuses on a more sustainable, monitored approach to fishing.
Being a young adult book, it was easy and quick reading. The author did a great job of breaking up the book into topics... like the beginning of the fishing industry, the politics behind fishing, sustainable fishing, pollution and global warming. Each chapter was long enough to explain the topic in depth, without boring the (assumed to be young) reader with too many details. Excellent for the young budding scientist!
Despite the fact that this is a book for young readers, and I was already quite familiar with the subject, I still learned quite a bit from this book. Until reading World Without Fish I hadn't really made the connection on how overfishing is also messing up the lives of other non-oceanic species (like certain birds who depend on fish being forced to the ocean surface by predatory fish) and even the within-ocean connections, like the fact that dolphins depend on blue-fin tuna to find food. Everything on our planet is connected, and you can't simply exterminate one species without it having a cascade effect through the food chain.
This is a great informative book for youngsters who are ready to get involved with environmental issues, or a great easy read for adults who want to learn more about the decline of our fisheries. Pin It Now!

Monday, April 23, 2012


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

Friday night pub knitting with the ladies
followed by date night to see some live bluegrass with the hubby!
(Plus some late night pizza on the way home).
What a night! Action packed.

Saturday morning trip to the farmers market....
First of the year for our family.
Slightly disappointing, as offerings were slim,
but happy to be able to buy some local greens.
Some sewing and house cleaning before the sun
made its first appearance in about a week (hooray!)
Itching for the outdoors,
we decided to explore a new area, Camassia Natural Area,
and it was a good choice. Better than good.
Magnificent wildflowers, osprey, and an oak-madrone woodland.
It was bliss.
Our only regret was that the trail wasn't longer
and there wasn't more to explore.
Late lunch at a brew pub,
and home to relax.
Todd headed to the soccer game, Phoebe went to bed early,
and Finn and I ate leftovers and watched Frozen Planet
(I LOVE that show).
Some quiet time knitting with a glass of wine
while Todd was still at the soccer game.
Exactly what I needed.
I wanted to go to bed early,
but stayed up really late reading The Hunger Games

Sunday- Happy Earth Day!
Another sunny Portland day.
I sneaked in some morning sewing
(I have a few presents I am working on right now).
Then out with the family to pick up trash
from our neighborhood in celebration of Earth Day.
Finn actually had so much fun that he asked if we could
do it again!
It was amazingly sad how fast we filled up our bag.
Then an Earth Day festival at the school where I teach
followed by DELICIOUS ice cream.
Salted Caramel..... drool....
Ended the night with a gathering of friends
who I was very happy to see.
Finn and his friends had a lovely time..
wading in the baby pool, kicking a ball,
and running around naked!
Seems like summer is here,
although I know it won't stay, not yet.
I went to bed early, but Phoebe didn't want to let me sleep...
so now it's Monday morning... I need coffee!
What a fun weekend, but action packed,
and I am now regretting that we didn't have more time to

How was your Earth Day weekend?

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

How can YOU help our Earth today?
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Friday, April 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.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

5-5-2012: Make an Impact

Climate change is happening. There are still many people denying that climate change is human-caused, but there can be no denying its existence.
The class I am teaching this term spends quite a bit of time addressing the global warming issue. It is always a bit of a tricky one, as I am a strong believer in the fact that global warming is, at least partly, due to human actions. However, I always have some students who don't feel this way, and things often start to turn more political than I like.
Anyways, is an organization started by Bill McKibbon (the author of Eaarth). It's purpose is to bring awareness to the issue of climate change and to get people, on a global scale, to take action (because it surely seems that our governments are not doing that for us). has declared May 5, 2012 Climate Impacts Day. Events are being organized across the country to bring awareness to the climate change issue.
My class is going to be gathering on May 4th to submit a photo for Climate Impacts Day. We will be gathering (with the former secretary of state, Bill Bradbury!) on a 3rd story balcony to demonstrate how high debris flows were after a rain-on-snow event in Oregon a few years ago. Check out our event here!
If you want to participate in climate impacts day, check here to see if there is an event near you. If not, why not start one? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along. I am STILL working on Phoebe's small things sweater BUT, I am just about 20 rows from the body being done. Then I will just have the sleeves to go after that. The end is in sight! I actually love this yarn so much (it is a worsted weight Malabrigo)... it is so soft that I just love the feel of it moving over my hands.. that I will also be a little sad when this sweater is finished. I will definitely have to get some more Malabrigo in the future. Delicious!
I am almost done reading World Without Fish, and have moved on to the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. As everyone has said, it is completely captivating, and despite the unthinkable theme underlying the plot, I have been loving it. I also started Paul Hawkens' book Blessed Unrest. Seems like I have an intense week of reading ahead!
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding A Balance...

I started teaching environmental science at Portland Community College when Finn was about 10 months old. I had applied for a teaching job sort of on a whim, shortly after he was born, but never really took my intentions too seriously.  I had actually just started going back to school to get my degree in early childhood education when PCC called offering me a part time teaching job (that started only 2 weeks later!). I accepted, feeling as though I should seize the opportunity, yet completely unsure of whether or not I was actually capable of leaving my baby for any significant stretch of time.
And, the beginning was rough. Finding a balance between work and being a mama was hard-- especially as a teacher. I do about half of my work from home (planning and grading) which means that I don't have childcare for those times, and have to "squeeze" it in when I can (which is often 5 minutes here or there, or chunks at night or on weekends when Todd is home). But, I found my balance. I found that I actually enjoyed my time away from Finn, interacting with adults, and finding a purpose outside the home.
And since I accepted that job 3.5 years ago, I have learned a lot, changed a lot, and discovered more of my inner self. But, I have also hit some road blocks. A couple of years ago I started having panic attacks while teaching. Terrifying. And while they are mostly gone, I still have one creep up on me every now and again. I never figured out what was causing them, but it made me hate going to work for awhile. It has made it so that I tend to over-prepare for class, in order to make sure that I am 100% comfortable with the material I am teaching (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that it is time consuming, and time is something I never seem to have enough of). Anyways, the whole panic attack situation made me actually question my job path. Should I quit? Should I find a new career? Should I stay home and focus on being a better mom? My brain said quit, but my heart knew that if I did, I would always feel like a quitter.. and I knew that I had to keep teaching in order to overcome whatever was making me have these panic attacks.
So, I did. I have continued to teach, and in fact, I was back at it only 4 weeks after Phoebe was born, although since she was born I have only been teaching one class each term instead of my normal two. And I enjoy it. I leave work (usually) feeling like I am helping to make change. I am teaching my students how to be stewards of the earth- information that they will hopefully take home and share with their families as well.
So when I got an email this term about assignment rights, I decided to apply. Assignment rights, essentially, is just job security for the part time teachers at PCC. It guarantees that you will have a class to teach each term that you want one. Until I went on a brief maternity leave before Phoebe was born, I had been the only environmental science teacher on my campus, so I never worried about job security. However, while I was gone, new teachers came in, the department expanded, and even though I was still given a class each term, it seemed a bit disorganized and I never quite knew where I stood. So, I decided that applying for assignment right seemed like a good idea.
The funny thing is, at that same time I had been talking to Todd about maybe quitting my job, finding something new.... maybe helping him out at his office for awhile, or starting my PhD. I guess I was just having an identity crisis....wondering if my job was where I wanted to be for the long run. Wondering if I should be spending more time focused on the kids instead of working. Wondering, wondering, wondering. Todd asked me why the heck I was applying for assignments rights when I wasn't even sure that I wanted to keep my job, and the answer was that I didn't really know.
Well, part of the application process for assignment rights is to write a self assessment. Which is really hard. It is hard to admit weaknesses, and just as hard to claim strengths. But it was amazing. It made me really sit down and think about what I did well (as well as not so well) at my job. It made me think about how I could make my classes better. And it made me realize that maybe this job is a pretty good fit for me. This job is my way to help the environment. I may not be donating large sums of money, making films, writing books, or chaining myself to trees (at least not these days), but I am teaching others about the harm that our actions are causing. Every term I will have students tell me that they changed something about the way they live because of me.. it may be as small as not drinking bottled water anymore, or it may be as big as starting a career in environmental science.. but hearing that I am inspiring others to make a change is what my job is really about. And that is so awesome.
So, maybe I won't be teaching at community college for the rest of my life, but for a mostly-mama with a part-time job, I think I am pretty lucky. I have a job doing something that I am passionate about, and with that job I have the chance to influence others and in my own teeny-tiny way, I am helping to save this earth.
I hope none of you find this post to be too self-assuming or pompous, as that is not what I am striving for. I think, after many years of wondering, I have found that I am just happy where I am. I used to spend time questioning what I was doing because it didn't seem like enough- like if I was really committed to the environment, I would have a career at a NGO, or be starting a revolution or something. And now I have realized that being a mama is the most important (and toughest) job on the planet because we are raising the next generation and teaching them to be stewards of this earth. Sometimes I forget that. I prepare each week to talk to 30 students for 3 hours, and teach them about the Earth, but it is easy to forget that I have 18 years with my kids to show them (or not show) through my actions how to be kind to our planet. So, I have found a balance. A balance between mostly being a mama and having a little bit of time to influence my community. Even though what I am doing may not seem like much, it is my small part. I have accepted that, and I am excited to work with what I have. Pin It Now!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Having Faith: A Review

Having Faith, by Sandra Steingraber is an amazing book. The entire time I was reading it, I kept asking myself why I hadn't read it already. Published in 2001, it is already slightly outdated, but to me it felt like the modern day Silent Spring.... this is a book that is disturbing, depressing, and inspiring.. a call to action for all of us parents out there. Except, unlike Silent Spring, it doesn't seem like this book motivated much action. I guess in this day and age, folks are sick of hearing about everything that is poisoning us, giving us cancer and slowly killing our planet. I think we have started to feel frustrated that we have no control over our environment and so for most, it is easier to just try not to think about it.
Steingraber is an ecologist who becomes pregnant when she is 40-ish (after winning a battle against cancer in her earlier years). The book documents her journey through pregnancy, as well as her days of nursing her little daughter, but does so from her point of view as an ecologist. She explores the relationships between pesticides and other chemicals that a mother is exposed to and physical or developmental issue that commonly occur in children.
This book really hit home to me, as 2 of the physical issues she speaks of were problems that Finn was born with. The first is un-descended testicles. When Finn was about 8 months old, he had to have surgery to pull one of his testicles, which had not descended, into place. Having Faith talks about the correlation between this problem and the mother's exposure to pesticides during the first few months of pregnancy. Finn was conceived in March (or sometime near March) in Montana, in a small town just west of Missoula, where plenty of land around us was used for farming. The water we drank was groundwater that could easily have been contaminated with pesticides sprayed on the local farms.
The other issue is Finn's teeth. His 4 back molars are missing a lot of their enamel (the enamel is discontinuous around the teeth, which leaves about half of each tooth surface completely vulnerable to decay). Steingraber's book shows an association with this issue (which I had never even heard of before Finn was diagnosed with it) and the mother's exposure to dioxins, which are a by product of industry (PVC manufacturing is one big source).
I can say that this book did make me feel a bit guilty, knowing that these issues that Finn will deal with for his entire life are likely a result of chemicals that I was exposed to before he was even born. But, on the other hand, I only have so much control of my life. I don't spray pesticides (and try not to even eat food grown with pesticides), and I certainly don't produce dioxins (which are a by product of PVC production, among other things).. yet, I am exposed to these chemicals whether I like it or not, just by breathing air and drinking water. But, like Steingraber says, this isn't an issue of mothers not making good decision while pregnant or nursing, but rather an issue of the government not protecting its citizens.
Having Faith also talks about breast milk, the magical-like qualities it has, the perfect balance of nutrients, the antibiotics... in essence, everything a newborn needs. Yet, because of biomagnification through the food chain, breast milk is also one of the most toxic substances known to man. This is something that is wrong at the most very basic level, and something that needs to be changed.
Every time I have nursed little Miss P since reading this book, I have watched her sweet face, and her tiny hands that play with her hair while she nurses, and wonder just how many chemicals I am pumping into her sweet body at that very moment. Something so little and so tiny and so innocent, and yet she is being dosed with poisons. How can we be OK with this?
Having Faith is an amazing book and one that everyone should read (however, I would not recommend reading it while pregnant, because I think it would have stressed me out-- even reading it while nursing was a bit distressing). I just can't figure out why this book didn't cause more of a stir? Why aren't we, as mothers and parents, fighting for the right to have a pregnancy free of chemical exposure? Why aren't we demanding for breast milk that is 100% safe for our babies? So read this book and be inspired. Let's make this world safe for our babes, yes? Pin It Now!

Friday, April 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.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The End of the Road for Our Dear Friend?

We are a 3 stroller family. A jogging stroller for running, hiking and trips to the grocery store. A double stroller for days when both kids need to be pushed. And, lastly, an umbrella stroller for traveling or excursions. We walk a lot.. what can I say?
Sadly, our umbrella stroller that we have had since Finn was a baby broke while we were in Florida (It's last day of unbroken glory is shown above, with Phoebe and Minnie in tow). The wheels and fabric are still in great shape, but the frame that holds it together cracked underneath where the child sits. We rigged it together to last the rest of our trip, but the seat slanted, and Finn said it was uncomfortable. We also felt a little nervous with Phoebe in it as it didn't seem entirely safe.
But, did we leave the stroller in Florida? Toss it in the trash? Nope. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but I didn't think Florida's landfill was the right option, so it came home with us. But... now what do I do with it?
I tried to give it away for free on craigslist, however, the posting for a "free sort-of broken stroller" didn't get too many inquiries. I actually had one person who said they wanted it, but never actually came to get it.
I called the manufacturer, Chicco, to see if they would take back the stroller and recycle the parts. I was not surprised when they told me they did not. I was assured, however, that they do sell replacement parts.... but when the frame is what needs to be replaced, no such luck.
So, what DO i do with a stroller that is not really safe enough to be re-used? If I was a welder, I could maybe fix it, but I am not. I guess my only option is to dismantle the stroller. I can recycle the plastic wheels and the scrap metal and can maybe find a new use for the fabric... but it just seems like there should be something better....
Our house alone has 3 strollers (well, 4 now actually, 3 working, as we already got a new umbrella stroller, and 1 broken one), and strollers are not exactly small items. If each child in the US is going through 1 or maybe many more strollers during the course of their childhood, that is a lot of strollers that end up in the landfill once they are no longer useful. A search on the internet gave no ideas aside from dismantling and recycling the parts.
Shouldn't the companies who make these strollers (which are not made sturdy enough in my opinion!) take them back once they break? Wouldn't it be nice if they could turn broken strollers back into new strollers? I think that I am off to write a letter to Chicco about this actually....
Anyways, what have you done with a broken stroller? If anyone has any great ideas, I am eager to hear them! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny over at Small Things for this week's yarn along. I haven't been in much of a knitting mood lately, and so I am still slowly plodding along at Phoebe's small things sweater (yup, the the one I was planning on making for Easter- oops!). I just started reading World Without Fish, which I think is a young adult book on the global fish crisis. It was a splurge check-out at the library when I came across it on Monday, and thought it could have useful information for the environmental science classes that I teach. I also just started the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy last night. Like others I have talked to, I was immediately drawn in, but also appalled at myself for being so, as the theme of the book can only be called disturbing. And, Finn has been huge into Where's Waldo for the past couple months and Monday we picked up a new one at the library. So, I seem to spend lots of time searching for things with Finn as well!
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Plastic Planet: A Review

Plastic Planet is a 2009 film that I had never heard of until it popped up in a Netflix recommended list for me. The film is decent, and centers around the ubiquity of plastic across the globe, as well as the harm that all of this plastic is doing.
The film is not nearly as good as Addicted to Plastic (a favorite of mine), however, Addicted to Plastic is a bullfrog film and is NOT available from Netflix....luckily the Portland Public Library system is awesome and they have a few copies. Plastic Planet is a Netflix instant-play and is much more readily available, and is still quite informative.
This film does a fairly good job addressing the extent of plastic pollution across the globe. There is an interview with Captain Charles Moore discussing the extent of plastics in the ocean, and adventures to clean up plastic pollution on a beach in Japan. The film goes across the world and has people bring all of the plastic that is inside their house outside, and the amounts are enormous. Even these little shacks in India have a huge pile of plastics.
The film also talks a good deal about the health effects of plastics. The film discusses BPA and pthalates, chemicals that are added to plastics and which can lead to reproductive problems, hormone problems, birth defects and cancer. In one scene, the director, Werner Boote, had taken blood samples of couples who were having trouble conceiving, and found that many of them had high levels of plastic additives in their blood. He also gets an inflatable globe tested for toxins, and is told that it should be treated as hazardous, even though it is sold on store shelves across the globe.
Boote also tries to get interviews with the head of the European plastics corporation (and gets kicked out) and also tries to get into a plastics manufacturing plant in China (where he also gets kicked out). The secrecy behind the industry is somewhat amusing, but also rather scary.
One big con about this film is the really annoying techno-ish music that is throughout the entire film... super distracting for me. My last complaint is that the film discusses lots of problems with plastics, but doesn't really touch on any good solutions... and, really, that is what we need. No one will be willing to give up plastics if there is not a good substitute.
Despite my criticisms, the film was super informative and is worth a watch. It is not as eye-grabbing or as well-organized as many of the environmental films out there, so it doesn't suck you in, but there is a wealth of information tucked in there. Pin It Now!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Joining in with Amanda from Habit of Being for another weekending post....
This weekend was a much need reprise after last week's return home from a vacation in Florida. Why does it always take so long to get back into the swing of the real world?
Friday night, the weather was nice, so we decided to forgo cooking in exchange for tacos and margaritas at a new restaurant that we could walk to. As I will still on Florida time, I was asleep by 9. And it felt good.
Saturday morning we awoke to sun! After a breakfast of french toast, we headed to the vet with all 3 cats for a much-overdue check up. It was fairly hectic (and really expensive), but at least it is over with! I spent the rest of the morning cleaning and organizing the house (I am once again feeling a need to purge), and then in the afternoon, the family and I headed out on a little adventure. First, we went to a wetland area to walk around....also, I needed to "borrow" some soil for a soil lab that I am teaching in my class on Wednesday. After the wetlands, we headed to the Mt. Tabor dogs park to let our dogs run (and to "borrow" some more soil). I felt a little guilty taking the soil, even though it was a very small amount, and was paranoid that someone was going to come and yell at me. Late Saturday afternoon Finn dyed some Easter eggs and had a friend over to play. Todd headed to the Timbers soccer game in the evening, so after dinner, Finn and I had some mama-son time and watched a movie together.
Sunday morning we awoke to see what the Easter Bunny had left for Finn and Phoebe and then headed over to the neighbor's for brunch and an Easter egg hunt. I grabbed a few minutes to read outside, caught up on some work, and then the family headed to the local plant nursery to find a few flowery additions to our yard. After a quick break for chips and salsa and veggie tacos, many of the new plants found their homes in the ground, and I headed out for a drink with a couple of my lady friends. Exactly what I needed!
How was your weekend?
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Friday, April 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.
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Family Vacation

Portland winters can be a bit rough, especially around March and April when the rest of the country is getting sun and we still have 40's and raining. Every year that we have lived here, Todd and I have talked about planning a vacation in the spring-- going somewhere warm and sunny. And every year we found an excuse of why we couldn't go. However, this year, 2012, was the year of the warm spring vacation. We did it!
We headed to Florida because my folks have a house there, so we had a free place to stay, and somehow, plane tickets were ridiculously cheap. We had a blast: theme parks, pools, mini golf, beaches, and even a boat tour where we got to see alligators, manatees, turtles, snakes, and other wildlife. It was warm, sunny and lovely. However, I have now learned that a vacation to a warm and sunny place is not exactly relaxing when you have 2 small kids. Gone are the days of reading by the pool, napping on the beach, or sleeping in. Roller coasters at theme parks were traded in for Dr. Suess rides and kid areas, and romantic dinners were traded in for cooking at home or ordering pizza. Tears were shed daily, especially on the 15 hour journey back to Portland. But, we had fun. It was an adventure to be remembered, with lots of good family time.
For those of you whose blogs I normally read, I have been neglecting reading them because we had only sporadic internet service. But, I have not forgotten you, and now, as I adjust back to the real world (of cold and rain nonetheless), I promise I will be reading blogs again instead of just writing them!
Here are a few of the pictures from our trip:

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Yarn Along!

Hello! We are just getting back from a lovely family vacation (more on that tomorrow) but I thought I would join in with Ginny over at Small Things for a quick yarn along post.
This week I am still reading Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber and am loving it. Heavy, but packed full of great info. It's the modern day Silent Spring. I also just finished up Garrison Keillor's Liberty, which was amusing (perfect nice, light vacation reading).
I didn't get as much knitting done as I thought I would, seeing that I spent a lot of time on planes over the last week. I have finished Finn's bunny for Easter, although he is still in pieces and needs to get stuffed and sewn together. I knit about 3 rows on Phoebe's small things sweater. Good thing I hauled that to Florida, right? Not looking good to be finished in time for Easter, but I am not going to pressure myself over it.
OK, have a new term starting today and it's time to get ready!! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Fate of Landfills

These days, as landfills are beginning to fill up, many cities are choosing to close them down and convert them into other uses, such as parks or recreation areas. Growing up outside of Chicago, we used to downhill ski at a hill that was a former trash dump that had been seeded over and onto which they made snow each winter. I never gave it much of a second thought.
In Portland we have a closed landfill that has been converted into a wildlife refuge (see picture above!). The refuge is closed to the public, but I have had the opportunity to go out there several times with my environmental science classes and take a look. And, it is nothing short of amazing. I have seen nesting bald eagles, herons, coyotes, hawks, and all sorts of other wildlife. It is truly a beautiful place.
However, with the conversion from a landfill comes some risks. Methane is produced beneath the ground (from the slow, anaerobic decomposition of the trash). Methane is highly flammable and is also poisonous to plant roots, so methane must be monitored and collected for decades after the landfill is closed. Also, pockets of the landfill can decompose faster and settle, sometimes causing rather dramatic collapses in the landfill surface. And, if the plastic liner covering the landfill gets any rips or tears, leachate (which is a combination of rainwater mixed with everything nasty that is thrown into a landfill) could potentially make it's way into the groundwater.
But, despite these risks, I think landfill conversion is a wonderful idea. What was once an ugly, worthless piece of land is now home to a whole host of birds and animals. It has crated habitat, which is very important in urban settings, and it is beautiful.
However, walking on this closed landfill also makes me think about our future relationship with trash. The amount of trash we create here in the US is astounding. More than 4 pounds of trash per person PER DAY! It all has to go somewhere, and most of that is to a landfill. We can't expect to keep finding new spaces for landfills, even if we do convert them back to habitat at the end. We need to think of better ways to reduce our trash including composting, recycling and reusing. Did you know that the majority of the plastic bottles sold in the US are not recycled?
I have also read about people beginning to invest in landfills, and this idea that they will be the mines of the future. As resources, particularly for energy, begin to dwindle, we may see companies actually mining landfills and burning the waste to create energy. There are already lots of Waste-to-Energy facilities across the globe that turn trash directly into electricity, however, due to the high expense and the air pollution that is created, we don't see too many of them in the US. But, as we enter a future with changing energy inputs, we may start to see these landfills as a resource instead of a burden.
Where does your trash go? Do you live by any landfills that have been closed and converted to other uses? Pin It Now!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Year Long Adventure: Month 12: Say NO to to-go containers

I can't believe this is month 12 of my year long adventure! My how time does fly.... It was 11 months ago when I came up with the idea to try and decrease my impact on  our planet by making one small set of changes each month. Some of my changes have stuck and others did not turn out so well, but I have learned a lot in the process.
I hate wasting food. So when we go out to eat and don't finish everything, I love to take it home and have tomorrow's lunch. But, each time I do this, I cringe at having to take a container to put that food in. I hate taking things for a single use!! Occasionally, when we are headed to a restaurant where I know I will have leftovers, I will remember to grab a jar or storage container to bring with me. But, more often than not, I forget.
This month, I am making a promise that I am going to anticipate leftovers, and bring containers with me for each meal. I am also going to forgo carry-out containers (except, I am going to let pizza boxes slide because they are compostable in our curb-side compost, and so I feel less guilty about that). In the past, I have asked restaurants if I could bring in my own containers to put the to-go food in. Some places have declined, due to health violations, but others accepted, albeit with a confused grin on their face. Sadly, once time my husband brought in our containers and saw them dump our to-go food from a to-go container into our reusable ones. I am sure those to-go containers headed straight for the trash.
My husband always get embarrassed when I ask to use our own containers for take-out. But, you would think the restaurant would be happy... they are saving money, right? So, this month, if we get food to-go, I will have my own container.
And, next month I will give a synopsis of my entire year-long adventure.. with my successes and failures included! Pin It Now!