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!

Monday, March 31, 2014


We got back home late Saturday night after spending a week in Texas. First a few days in Houston to celebrate the hubby's grandma's 90th birthday, 3 days at the coast with hubby's dad, and then 2 days in Austin visiting all sorts of friends, old and new. There was a lot of activity and a lot of driving, which with two kids makes for some tired parents. The kids played with their cousins, and Finn made fast friends with Todd's best friend's son. On the coast, we saw amazing amounts of shorebirds... blue herons, ibis, egrets, spoonbills..... they were everywhere. Such majestic birds. If I had it my way, I would have sat there watching them for a long time. We also saw porpoise, rode on a motorboat, and spent an afternoon at the aquarium. And the Mexican food was amazing. So delicious! However,  after about 5 days there I realized that I had barely eaten any vegetables. Seriously. Everything was beans, cheese, tortillas, and at some places it was hard to find a vegetable on the menu, unless you count the salsa. Oh vegetables,  how I missed you.
Both of our flights were eventful, to put it nicely. On the way there, while waiting to board our second flight, Todd and I both looked down for a second (really, a literal second), and Phoebe (my runner child), was gone. Panic. Where was she? She had gotten excited and ran past the boarding line, past the woman taking boarding tickets, and onto the jet way. She was standing there crying, as she finally realized she had left her family behind. This all happened in about 20 seconds, but it felt like much longer. It turned out OK, but scary. That could have been a whole lot worse if she had run a different direction. On the second flight on the way home, Phoebe fell asleep immediately, and woke up about an hour later having a night terror. Have your kiddos ever gotten those? They are freaky and terrible and really hard to deal with, even in the comforts of your own home. And it's much worse on a plane. They scream and yell and cry, but they are not fully awake, so all you can do is help them to fall back asleep. We spent about 90 minutes with her thrashing and screaming on and off (really loudly), late at night, mind you, so everyone was trying to sleep... Anyways, we felt terrible, but everyone on the plane was so nice and sympathetic. I am so thankful for the kindness of all of those strangers.
Anyways, we are home and we survived. Finn heads back to school today and I start teaching a new term tomorrow. Back to the grind, yes?

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Friday, March 28, 2014

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, March 26, 2014

Birthday Gifts

The post is quite belated. The presents were given on time, but finding the time to post about it has been another story...
For Miss P's 3rd birthday, I decided to make her two gifts. A robe, which she needed, and a carrier for one of her dolls.
The robe I figured I could just wing it.. no pattern (if this sounds crazy, this is how I have sewn for most of my life). But, I also decided that I wanted her robe to have a hood. Have I ever sewn a hood before? Nope. But, really, how hard could it be? Well.... the robe turned out really well actually. Except for the hood part. I made it too wide and too short, and to make a long story short, I had to cut it down and now the robe has this weird sort of elvis-collar thing going on. But, aside from that, I think the robe came out pretty good. And, I have now put learning how to sew a hood onto my sewing to-do list.
To make the doll carrier I used this tutorial. It was actually super easy, way easier than I thought. I will warn you though, that this is not a tutorial for beginners. She doesn't list every step or explain how to do each thing, and if I hadn't had previous sewing experience I would have thrown up the white flag. But, in the end, I was happy with how it turned out. And I think Phoebe is too...

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Backyard: A Review

Backyard Trailer from deia schlosberg on Vimeo.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to go to a screening of Backyard, a short film that shows how fracking (aka hydraulic fracturing) has impacted the lives of several families throughout the western United States. The film has a story similar to Gas Land (which I thought I wrote a review for, but apparently never did-- watch it!), but portrays the issue in a slightly different manner.

The issue of fracking is hugely important right now. Millions of people's water supplies could be in grave danger if fracking continues to expand and these gas companies aren't held accountable for damages they do to resources or peoples health. Natural gas is currently being touted as a clean fuel because it burns cleaner coming out of your vehicle. But, natural gas that is obtained through fracking is far from clean.

Check out the Backyard website to learn more about fracking, find a screening near you, and get involved in actions. Pin It Now!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plactics. Ugh. (Again)

In the relatively short time (6.5 years) that I have been a mother, plastics have been in and out of the news, and constantly on my mind. PVC plastics, which comprise things like shower curtains, plumbing, and bath toys that baby's put in their mouths, are made with phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that affect hormone regulation and can cause cancer, birth defects, and a whole list of other health problems. BPA, another endocrine disruptor, has become well-known in recent years as parents fought to get this chemical out of baby bottles, sippy cups, and toys.
And, while I have tried to be very conscious about plastics in general, and prefer not to bring any into my home unless necessary, we live in a society surrounded by the stuff. From toothbrushes and legos to computers and markers, my home, as conscious as I am about plastic, is still full of the stuff.
Several years ago we got rid of all of our plastic tupperware and swapped it out for glass storage containers. We bought a stainless steel french press. I used glass baby bottle for both kids. The kids grew up drinking from aluminum water bottles. We bought stainless steel drinking straws. And, like any concerned mother, I made sure that all of our child plates, bowls and sippy cups were BPA-free.
Well, last week I read this article in Mother Jones. It discusses how some of these BPA-free plastics, which many of us assumed were now safe for our kids, may actually be full of chemicals that are even more toxic than BPA. I guess deep-down I always knew this was a possibility. I have been skeptical of plastics for many years, even the so-called safe ones. But, I also feel like I am a crazy paranoid person most of the time and try and tell myself to loosen up. I tell myself things like "I grew up with plastics and I am still alive" and have tried to push away the nagging feelings that creep up continuously.
Well, I guess this article has just reaffirmed that my 'craziness' is justified. The husband and I decided to order stainless steel plates and cups for the kids, and to stock up on small sized glass jars for little hands to use for drinking. Yes, plastics are convenient. They don't break. They have nice little lids and keep spill from happening. They come in fun colors. But is all of this worth compromising our children's health? No way.
As more and more health problems unfold from these everyday plastics, I am sure more and more companies will try and strive to make safer and safer plastics. But these new products will be tested on our children (who will act as lab rats) until we see if new problems emerge. I am done looking for the safe plastic alternative, and am headed back to the tried and true natural products that humans have used for generations. If we break some glass, or spill some milk, I am pretty sure that we will all live through it.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

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 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Here's to longer days, more light, and new beginnings!
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Yarn Along

Joining in for another Yarn Along today.

I finally got around to re-starting my sweater that I frogged a couple of weeks ago, and now I think I am finally doing it right. I am by no-means an expert knitter, but these instructions are certainly not the clearest that I have ever read. If I didn't have a clear photo (via ravelry) to check in with, I probably would have done it wrong again. I am sure it is me, and my inexperience, but it has still thrown me for a loop. But fingers crossed that there will be no more frogging!

The orange and gold colorway peeking out from the bottom of my photo is Phoebe's plain vest, in the yarn that she "needed". I have set this aside, for now, as I think it will be a good project to work on when we do a bit of traveling in the near future.

In the world of reading, I am working on finishing up The Body Toxic and also The Maze Runner, which I need to get back to the library. I am enjoying The Maze Runner, but it hasn't yet captured me like Hunger Games or Divergent did. (ahhh, tween literature). Once I finish up these books, I am eager to get back to reading Game of Thrones.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Digging for Worms

For the past couple of weeks, Phoebe and I have been joining in on a toddler nature exploration group. It has been great to get her out and about with other kids her own age. Finn, Phoebe and I spend quite a bit of time outside, but when Finn is present, Phoebe wants to do what he is doing, and doesn't let the pull of her own curiosity guide her. With the other younger children, she is excited to share what she finds, squeal with excitement, and be part of the team.
Last week, the exploration group went worm hunting, and it has become a daily happening since. We have used the opportunity to talk about how they are so important for our gardens and ecosystems, and the role that each creature holds. 

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A List of Gratitudes

some sunnier days, which makes the house bright and cheerful (and perfect for cat naps)

unexpected letters from friends

this yummy dessert I made

flowers, flowers, everywhere!

what are you grateful for today?

Joining in with the other Taryn for Gratitude Sunday.
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Friday, March 14, 2014

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo (or maybe more....) - 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 13, 2014

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: A Review

I have had this book on my to-read list for awhile. Ever since it came out actually. Deciding to choose a new book for my class to read next term was the motivation I needed to actually get my hands on it and read it. And I'm glad I did.
The book is insanely scary, but also full of humor and easy to read. The book is written by two Canadian scientists who, in order to study how everyday products affect us, purposely try to increase their body burden of several chemicals that are known, or believed, to be dangerous to our health. They expose themselves to phthalates, BPA, mercury, teflon, flame retardants, and probably a couple other things I am forgetting about. They use normal everyday items to expose themselves (like eating tuna sandwiches), but do repeated exposures over a few days. Testing their blood and urine pre and post exposure shows how much they can increase their toxic body burden in a very short amount of time. And, in some cases, that increase is pretty incredible.
I can't say that I learned anything surprising from this book, but I also teach about these things for a living, and sadly, have heard these types of stories before. Nonetheless, the authors do a great job of intermingling history, politics and current science and wrapping it up into a neat little humorous package. The last chapter focuses on some simple ways that you can help your family avoid some of the burden of these everyday toxic chemicals. This is a great read, especially for folks with children at home.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yarn Along

Happy Yarn Along day.

About a week and a half ago, I had to frog the beginning of my sweater. I haven't had the desire to restart it yet.. instead, I have been knitting hats for me (see below)! I have also started Phoebe's plain vest with the funky 70's style yarn that she begged me to get for her. I actually love how it is turning out, although it doesn't quite seem "typical" for a 3 year old. Reminds me of an afghan that my great grandmother knitted for our family back in the 70's. hehe. Anyways, my knee has been hurting a bit, and I have had a bit of a cold, and I guess I have just needed mindless knitting... the kind where I can also watch movies and let my mind wander. Hats and plain vests are good for that. This weekend, however, I am going to restart the sweater. I even put it on my weekend to-do list.

Oh yeas, and I finally got a picture of me with my sockhead hat. All the hat photos are seflies, but when I am the only one who takes pictures around here, it's the only way that it will ever happen. I am sure there are several of you out there who understand my dilemma, no?

And did you see my cat lurking in the background of my photo again? He photo bombs almost all of my yarn along photos lately. His quest for fame before his life ends maybe....

I just finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck (review to come soon). I am about halfway through The Body Toxic, and then I am going to decide which one to have my class read next term. We are focused on different types of pollution next term, so really either would be a good fit. I am leaning towards Slow Death by Rubber Duck. But- doesn't that title just sound horrid?

I also just got The Maze Runner from the library. I heard it is similar to the Divergent series (of which I am still waiting for books 2 and 3 from the library), so I thought this one might tide me over on my tween sc-fi reading need.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Quick Trip to the Coast

Friday afternoon, the family and I headed down to the coast. The sun was out, it was warm, and heck- it felt like spring. The downside was that there was lots. of. traffic. and by the time we got to our yurt, at Beverly Beach State Park, it was just about dark. Which meant that we missed the gorgeous afternoon on the ocean, and had to be satisfied with the beautifully clear and starry night that we enjoyed instead. We let the kids stay up late, drank some adult beverages, and a chorus of frogs (pacific chorus frogs, actually) sung us to sleep... or in my case, kept me awake all night....
The next morning the skies were grey and it was cold and drizzling out. But, that didn't stop this mama from getting to the ocean. We stopped for coffee and spent the morning on the beach. I needed that.
We had to head back to Portland early afternoon for some other commitments. It was a lot of driving for just a little bit of beach time, and wish we could have headed down Friday morning instead. But, it felt good to get away. Nothing like a night sleeping next to hundreds of frogs, right?
Oh yeah, and Phoebe had the best after-camping hair ever.

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