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, January 31, 2013

The Lexicon Project: Help

Joining Rachel at House Full of Jays for her Lexicon project. This week's theme: help.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for another yarn along!
I finished up Phoebe's bear cowl last week, and I will have pictures to share soon. It is adorable! I am currently working on a Milo vest for Phoebe... after I had to frog the entire top last Tuesday night, I have basically only made it back to where I was before. However, I think I am procrastinating though, as the next step in the vest is to begin the cables. And, I have never done cables before. It doesn't seem that hard, but now I am afraid of messing up and having to restart this one again. While I have been procrastinating, I have almost finished up another drop-stitch cowl. I love knitting these. Fun and quick!
I am still reading Cutting for Stone and nearing the end (well, sort of.. I have about 200 pages out of 650 to go). It's fantastic. Also picking my way slowly through Dirt, a non-fiction book about soil, and I have been enjoying reading a few pages here or there.
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Don't Frack My Mother!

Natural gas has been in the news quite a bit these days- and the majority of that news revolves around a little something known as fracking. Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing, the process that allows those drilling for natural gas to fracture the shale rocks by injecting a fluid at high pressure. This fracturing allows for much greater natural gas recovery (and therefore greater supplies and lower costs), but it has a huge environmental impact. The fluid that is injected at high pressure is full of nasty chemicals, and a whole lot of this water is used in the process. This water is often left in open pits to evaporate, which is hugely hazardous, and groundwater contamination is common. For a good, quick explanation explaining the dangers of fracking, check out this website.  Have a bit more time? Watch the film Gasland.  It gets into the nitty-gritty of this fracking business.
And, in the meantime, check out this funny video of Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono on Jimmy Fallon. They recently started a coalition called Artists Against Fracking, which is working to prevent fracking in New York. I am teaching about fossil fuels in my environmental science class this week, so I will be sure to share this one with my students!

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekending (Or, A Little of This, A Little of That)

Happily joining in with Amanda at Habit of Being for another weekending post.

This weekend was a perfect balance... a little of this and a little of that.
Friday night I stayed home.
Ate brownies and ice cream, read some, knitted some,
and had a mini movie marathon

Saturday our ski plans got cancelled
(our car doesn't have 4WD and the roads were snowy).
So, instead, I had some mama time at the gym,
ran some errands with Finn,
and lazed around the house with the family.

Saturday night the hubby and I had a date.
A double date actually,
with some lovely friends of ours.
Dinner, drinks, music.
It was grand.

Sunday night I got to sleep in....
Didn't get out of bed until 7:45!!
Big breakfast,
Family Hike
in which we got caught in the rain...
and discovered some fairie homes,
beaver evidence,
and signs of spring.
Tacos for lunch
and a bowling birthday party to boot.

And now, off to bed, semi-early
to rest up for another week, and
hoping that this sinus infection I have had for 2+ weeks
will soon be gone!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

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Gratitude Sunday

Happily joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for a Gratitude Sunday post.

This week I have been feeling so, so grateful that Finn finally seems to be re-adjusting back to his school routine and once again finding a rhythm. When Finn is feeling settled, the whole family seems to be much more settled.

Also grateful that this week seemed to be the perfect balance: some out time, some down town, some city living and some nature explorations. I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place where we are surrounded by nature but immersed in culture, great restaurants, and activity.

And lastly, I am feeling grateful that I don't have to give a lecture in my classes this week. There is a whole lot less prep time when I am not speaking for an hour!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and have lots to be grateful for! Pin It Now!

Friday, January 25, 2013

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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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for another yarn along!  I am almost finished with this adorable bear hood for Phoebe. The trim is supposed to all be crocheted, but since I don't know how, I think I am just going to improvise and knit a trim. Should have it to show you next week. The mulberry color that you see was the start of Phoebe's milo vest... except that last night, after I took this picture, I had to frog everything I had done.... so, now I am only about 6 rows in. Oh well. I also have a wee baby hat on the needles as an easy project to take with me on the go.
Still reading Cutting for Stone and I am really enjoying it. I also started a book called Dirt. It is a non-fiction book about soil (one of the things I teach about and actually an interest of mine). It is broken up into 2-3 page chapters, so I think I will be reading this one slowly over time.... a little soil tidbit here and there, or a good book to grab when I only have a few minutes to read.
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Boys, Hikes, Forts and Love

Happy MLK day! Boy, as nice as it is to have Finn at school during the week, the whole getting-up- and-rushing-to-get-ready thing is just not our cup of tea. The day goes so much smoother when I don't have to start out begging someone to get dressed and rushing around packing lunches and whatnot. So, today I am thankful to be able to be on our own schedule and not in a rush.
This weekend has been a great one with Mr. Finn. He has been extra happy and agreeable, and what mother wouldn't appreciate that? Yesterday Finn and I got to spend some special time together. While Phoebe napped and Todd watched football, we headed out towards the Gorge to go on a hike. We chose an open area because we wanted to be able to enjoy the sun.....however, when we got there, there were very strong winds (probably about 40 mph). We ended up ducking onto a path in the woods to get away from the wind, which also meant that we were hiking in shade. But, my little man didn't complain once. He was in good spirits and having fun.
On the way home, I thanked him for coming hiking with me and for being such a trooper. He said "Mom, of course I wanted to go with you because I love you so much and I always want to be with you." For a kid that doesn't often give spontaneous announcements of love, this was pretty monumental.
When we got home Finn decided he wanted to build a fort underneath his bunk bed and I gladly obliged. We pulled out some Christmas lights for the inside, some sheets and fabric for the walls, and brought some snuggley blankets and pillows in to make it cozy. When I came home from book club later that night, I found him asleep in his fort. Could it get any sweeter?
Finn and Phoebe have been in the fort all morning. Forts rule.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gratitude Sunday

Happily joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for another Gratitude Sunday.

This week I have been feeling very grateful for the sun (and lack of rain) that we have had. A tough day always seems a bit easier when the sun is out, doesn't it?

I have also been feeling grateful for my wonderful friends and family who are there when I need someone to listen or need a good laugh. What would I ever do without them?

I am also grateful that I have a job that I enjoy, and one that also allows me to mostly be at home with my kids.

And lastly, feeling grateful that my husband has been working so hard as of late, trying his very best to build his business so that we can (one day!) be debt-free.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

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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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yarn Along and Some Finished Awesomeness

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for another yarn along! So, I had a big week in knitting. Well, more just a week of finishing projects, so it made me feel like I was accomplishing a lot. Don't you love the feeling of finishing something up? I finally finished Phoebe's tiny tea leaves and I am so in love with it. Blue is her color and the cardi is just so sweet. I also finished up a second drop-stitch cowl (I LOVE these cowls!) and decided to keep in for myself. Why not? I also knit up a quick new pair of mittens for Phoebe. Moshi ate her last pair and the weather has been mighty cold. So, what am I knitting now? I am just getting ready to start this adorable cowl/hat for Phoebe. I am a little nervous, as part of the trim is crochet, and I have no clue how to do it, but it is too cute to not try. I just bought yarn for a Milo vest for Phoebe too, so I am hoping to cast that on soon as well.
Just started reading Cutting for Stone. My mom sent it to me awhile back, and after 2 more friends recommending it, I decided I should dig in. It is set in Ethiopia, and I always seem to get sucked into books that take place in Africa. So far I am loving it.
What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Moments

Portland's winter climate is cool and rainy. Lots of rainy. So, like most Portlanders, I cherish the snippets of snow that we get. This morning we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground and it lightly snowed on and off all day. There was no accumulation, but watching snow fall is so mesmerizing, so meditative, that I was happy all the same.
Phoebe and I had a chance to go for a short hike. Well, to be completely honest, I needed to 'borrow' some soil for my class tomorrow, so we sort of had to go on a hike, but it was exactly what we both needed. There is something about wintery days that makes the whole world seem so quiet and muffled. We saw several other people on the trail, and heard and saw many birds, yet I still felt like we were in our own quiet bubble.
Spending an hour outside in the woods reminded me that it has been too long since I have done that; too long since I have reconnected with nature. I am glad to have had the chance and hope to be back soon.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013


Happily joining in with Amanda at Habit of Being for another weekending post.

This weekend was luxurious.
Friday night the kids and I picked hubby up from work
and used our Christmas money to buy Apple TV,
a nifty little gadget that lets us stream Netflix right onto our TV.
It's pretty rad, I must say.....
no more cricked necks while Todd and I both try and get a good view of the computer.
For dinner we went out for Ethiopian, a family favorite,
and we all went to bed happy and full.

Saturday morning we awoke to frost and a very cold morning
(for Portland, at least!)
But the skies quickly turned blue and we enjoy a freezing, yet sunny, day.
We let the dogs run at the dog park
and then we all headed to the community center for a family swim.
Phoebe had a blast
( I think she thought she was actually swimming!)
Then I had a chance to run a few errand sans kids--
a trip for yarn, groceries for dinner, and the library.
In the late afternoon, I had to take my 11 year old dog,
Puppy Cow, (yes, that is his real name) to the vet.
He has a growth on his bottom and, the bad news is....
it looks suspicious.
So, in the next week or so, he will need to have surgery to have it removed,
and biopsied.
Fingers crossed that it is not cancerous.....
Thinking about what the future holds for Puppy Cow
has made me realize, cancer or not, that his time left is likely short.
And, before it is too late, I need to take some time to be with him,
to soak him up, and to love him as much as I can.
We lost 3 dogs within a year and a half a couple years back,
and I still regret not spending enough time with those dogs in their last months.
Saturday night Todd headed to his office to work on taxes
and I had a whole night to myself to read, knit and watch movies.
It was bliss.

Sunday morning I drank tea and lazed around.
We ate a big breakfast, with Todd's (almost) famous sweet potato biscuits.
A quick walk with the dogs-
Another chilly sunny day!
I had a chance to go to the gym,
had an easy nacho lunch,
and did a little sewing and a little reading.
In the afternoon I headed to a Naked Lady Party.
Have you ever been to one?
You  bring your old clothes you don't want
and swap for other gal's unwanted clothes.
Anything left over is donated.
I cleared out my closet and came home with a bag of goodies.
It was fantastic!
Dinner was soup and salad
followed by family movie night.
Now, the kids are in bed (yet not quite asleep)
and I am ready to snuggle under the covers
and knit.

Fingers crossed that this week will be a little easier,
and Finn will re-find his rhythm at school. 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!!

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Gratitude Sunday

Joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

This weekend I have been feeling grateful for some much needed sun here in Portland. With the sun comes cold temperatures and frosty mornings, but I don't mind the cold so much. It's worth it for some blue skies.

I have also been feeling grateful for a slow weekend with not many plans. Our weeks have been so busy that I welcome a morning with a warm cup of tea and time to putter around the house.

And, as always, I am so grateful for my two beautiful kiddos who bring so many smiles to my face. Hope you are all enjoying your weekend! Pin It Now!

Friday, January 11, 2013

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, January 10, 2013


So Phoebe, at 22 months, has entered a very cute phase. She is all sorts of silly and is talking up a storm, making me laugh left and right. But, my favorite thing that she has started doing is apologizing. I know it seems like a simple thing, saying sorry when you hurt someone or do something 'naughty', but it melts my heart every time.

Me: "Phoebe, ouch! That really hurts mommy when you kick me"
Phoebe: "sorry mama"

And, just like that, I am not upset anymore because it is just so darn cute. I think a lot of it is because Finn never spontaneously apologized, and, in fact, still has trouble with apologies. So, the fact that she uses the word (appropriately) just seems amazing to me (toddlers can do this?!?). And, especially since she can't say "s" sounds very well, and it comes out all fuzzy sounding, just makes it even cuter. And if someone is really sad, her sorry comes with a leg hug.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for another yarn along! I have finally finished the sleeves on Phoebe's tea leaves sweater, but still have to do the front edging. For some reason, I keep procrastinating that. It would probably only take me a night of knitting if I would just start it! I should just re-name this the forever sweater. In the meantime, I decided to knit one of these cowls for a special someone and start a second (maybe for me?). I guess that is why I am not finishing the sweater-- I just want to start new things!
I am still reading Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places. I am about halfway through. I am enjoying reading about the places that the author is describing, but he seems to be sort of cranky and annoyed with everyone he comes into contact with. Maybe all of those people are annoying, but it makes him seem pretty cynical, and thus, I have been making my way through this book pretty slowly. I think I am due for some easy-reading fiction for the next book I dive into.
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gratitude Sunday

Joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for Gratitude Sunday.

This week I am feeling oh-so-grateful for many things....
  • For the wee bit of time that Todd and I have been finding (making) to spend alone with one another and the improved relationship that has come along with that.
  • For little miss Phoebe who is seriously cute as can be right now.  She is talking up a storm and almost every word just melts my heart.
  • For a good weekend with Finn. Even though he had a rough first week back at school, he has been a pretty happy camper all weekend.
  • For good friends here in Portland. Sometimes the job of being a parent can be isolating, but looking at my busy social schedule this weekend, I am so happy to have such wonderful friends in my life.
  • And, finally, that no one is my family is sick. We spent almost the entire month of December cycling through illnesses, and I am glad to say we are all back to health!
Hope you have many things to feel grateful for as well. 

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Friday, January 4, 2013

New Beginnings

Back in September, my 5 year old son, Finn, started school in the public school system. He had a very hard transition into school. So hard, in fact, that it prompted us to get him evaluated by some specialists, and we found out that he has something called sensory processing disorder. I wrote a post about the initial part of our journey with Finn, but with the change in our routine over break and re-starting school after 3 weeks off, the degree to which this disorder affects him has become so apparent to me.
Finn thrives on routine. And, while it usually works well for me too, I also enjoy breaks where we can be routine-free: do what we feel like, stay in our PJs all day if we want, watch more movies than usual and go to bed a wee bit late. Finn enjoys that lack-of-routine while it is happening, but boy do we pay for it in the end. Even going to bed at 8:30 instead of 7:30 can create a very crabby child the next morning. Bigger changes to the routine, like Todd being out of town for a few days over new years, created a complete upheaval. Even though Finn didn't ask for his dad, he started whining and complaining about everything, crying at the slightest upset, and wasn't able to organize his thoughts enough to figure out what to do with himself. I know this isn't good for Finn, and it certainly wasn't good for me. No matter how many times I told myself to be patient, to keep smiling, to understand that he is not in control of his body, eventually the whining and complaining got to me. I would try and make him laugh and he would yell at me for saying something he didn't like. I just couldn't win. Moments like these have been common with Finn over the past few years, but since he has been in school and in a routine, those moments seemed to be shorter and more manageable. An hour here or there, but normally not for an entire day. I could see how much these changes to the routine were affecting him (and therefore me!). So, while I was a little bit nervous about school starting up again, and how he would transition into the classroom, I was also looking forward to getting back on a routine.
Well, school started back on Wednesday and although Finn had a small 5 minute meltdown when we dropped him off (which we were totally ready for), he recovered pretty quickly and was happy as could be when I picked him up. He had gone pee at school (a big struggle we have been dealing with since September.. and in some respects his whole life) and told me he wasn't nervous about going back the next day. Thursdays drop off was metldown-free (yay!) but I got a call at 12:45 that Finn had peed himself at school and was throwing a fit because he wanted me to come and change his clothes for him (also a struggle that we dealt with in the first months of school). So, I went. I changed. I thought that accidents happen, so no big deal, right? At 2:15 I came to pick him up and he had wet his pants again and was in tears. This time, there were no more extra clothes (we had used them after the first accident) and so I took my sad guy home wet and stinky. Then Friday morning, our morning routine went awry. Finn was walking very slowly to school, and despite my warnings that would we get there later than usual, he didn't pick up the pace. And while we weren't late to school, we were not first or second like we normally are, and this completely threw him off. He started crying and had a tantrum, literally, for 30 minutes before I could get him comfortable enough for me to leave. It's like we were back to day 1. Then at pick-up, I was told that he cried for 30 minutes before lunch because he needed to pee and felt like he might have had an accident (even though he hadn't) but the teacher had to stay with him and calm him down until he was ready to pee. Not a great first week back, huh?
But, despite the rough mornings and bathroom issues, he has been having fun at school and is happy when I pick him up. Also, he has been less emotional and more 'together' during the afternoons/evenings since school started. So, I feel like school stresses him out, but also helps him organize his body and feel better. Double-edged sword.
And now I sit here wondering if things will ever get easier for Finn or if this is just what life is going to be. At OT (occupational therapy) on Wednesday, Finn's therapist told me that he isn't really progressing much... not nearly as fast as we would expect. And she said that while he clearly had sensory issues, she thought there were some other puzzle pieces missing. We know he has a lot of anxiety, but he also seems to have trouble with basic problem solving. So, we aren't really sure if we are even addressing all of the issues. In the hour that he is at OT, he spends about 50 minutes getting comfortable enough to interact with his therapist, which means he only has about 10 minutes of good quality work time. Is it worth the time and (lots of) money that we are paying if he is not progressing much? Do we need to be more patient? Are we approaching this from the wrong angle?
This is all so stressful for me because I keep thinking that we are not making the right decisions. Maybe this isn't the right school, maybe he isn't going to the right therapist, should we keep him in OT, blah blah blah. Somehow, I keep blaming myself for all of this. Maybe I was exposed to something while pregnant, maybe I missed some crucial bonding moment of his infancy, maybe I have not been reacting to his tantrums the right way. But today, my husband told me something that deep down I already knew: this isn't about me, this is about Finn. It doesn't really matter why he is the way he is, it just matters that we help him through this time. Yes, this is probably going to completely suck for us, as parents, for awhile. Tantrums at drop-off, going to school for potty accidents, trips to OT and therapy, embarrassing moments in public, days of whining... none of that is fun, but it is what we need to do. We didn't choose for Finn to be like this, but neither did he. It is my job to help him and guide him and support him. And doing that is definitely is not going to be easy, but it's what has to be done. I would do anything for my favorite guy, hands down. Now I just need to learn how to do it with a bit more grace.
Do any of your kids have trouble with transitions or need a strict routine? If so, how do you deal with breaks from school? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The First Yarn Along of 2013

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things for the first Yarn Along of the new year! Now that the Christmas rush is over, I am back to finishing up Phoebe's tea leaves sweater. I must say, it's nice to be knitting without pressure again. I do have quite a few things on my to-knit list (including a few things for me) but I know that there isn't any rush.
I recently started reading Visit Sunny Chernobyl: And Other Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places. It is sort of a travel-adventure guide for places that are environmental disasters. It is full of information and is very humorous, but also somewhat disturbing in its own way.
What are you reading? What are you knitting? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013!

The switch from one year into another is always a change that I welcome. A time for new beginnings, a time to assess my priorities, and a time to dream big for the future. For some reason, that fresh start always helps make the hurdles in life seem a bit more manageable, even if only for a few days.
I almost always make a list of resolutions for the new year. And not one or two things I would like to work on, but usually around 15 or 20. I know that I won't accomplish them all or succeed at every one, but it is a way for me to redirect my attention to what is important and where I would like to focus my energy. Included on this year's list are things like learning to knit cables, eating a salad with every dinner (I notoriously hate making salad even though  love eating them), updating my address book, reducing the amount of food we waste, and helping Finn to boost his self confidence. And, despite the long list of resolutions, I am also focusing on slowing down. Enjoying the everyday moments with my family and accepting that is is perfectly OK to have days where nothing gets accomplished. As much as I love my to-do lists, I know that in the end, that list is not what is truly important.
2012 was a pretty tumultuous year in my household. A lot of change, a lot of worry. I am hoping that 2013 will be a year of rebuilding and of mending, and a year of joy. I truly do have so much to be grateful for.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2013! Pin It Now!