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!

Friday, May 30, 2014

What We're Reading

What are you reading?
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Yarn Along

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for today's Yarn Along. 

 I am taking a quick break from knitting my sweater.... a wonderful friend had a baby a few weeks earlier than expected, and I was caught off guard without a gift ready! So... I spent part of the weekend knitting the new arrival a hat and working on a plain vest for her as well. Just a few more rows and it will be all set to be sent! And, after a quick break, I am actually looking forward to picking up my sweater once again. Maybe that was all the motivation I needed.

I am still reading This Place on Earth, and working on finishing up the first book in the Game of Throne series. Even though I have been reading a bit each day, I feel like I just haven't made much progress.  And, as you can see from my photo above, I have a huge stack of books just waiting to be cracked. And, they are all very important books too. Once I read them, I will have a perfectly well behaved three year old, right? Can you imagine? Life would be so boring, wouldn't it?

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Monday, May 26, 2014

An Adventure-full Weekend (And a Whole Lot of Pictures)

This weekend was full. We had a three day weekend, and we packed a lot in. I am exhausted.

Finn came home sick from school on Friday, and he was still recuperating Saturday morning. So, I took Phoebe out for a little excursion to the Audubon Society to see some rescue birds (and some wild birds too). We also took a short hike to their pond, which is my favorite place to see salamanders. It was a great mama-Phoebe bonding time and it was interesting to see how she was on a hike without Finn there. Finn is always ready to turn around and head back, and Phoebe almost always wants whatever Finn wants. But, Phoebe in the woods without Finn was quite content. We turned back when she needed to use the toilet, but only after she asked if she could dig a hole and poop in the woods. Umm, not on a hiking trail at the Audubon Society sweet girl...
Then I headed (without kids!) to a naked lady party (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is a ladies clothing swap.. no one is actually naked) and spruced up my wardrobe. Then home for a run, dinner on the grill, and a post-dinner family walk.

Sunday morning, Finn was feeling back to normal and the whole family headed up to Lacamas Park in Camas, Washington. I hadn't been there for a couple of years, and never in spring, and was reminded how beautiful it is there. We saw western painted turtles, a cormorant, lots of ducks, and even a waterfall. We had lunch in Camas at a tiny Mexican restaurant where Phoebe tried to speak Spanish to the waiter. After, I took the kids for an afternoon playdate with some friends, and then for dinner we went to a barbeque at our friends house.

Today, in celebration of Memorial Day, Finn didn't have school. Todd decided he needed to work so I took the kids up to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. It is somewhere that has been on my radar for awhile.. it's only 40 minutes away and I have no idea why I haven't been before. It is a gem of a place and a paradise for birders. It is basically like a bird safari... you get a tour on CD, which explain the different areas and tells you what to look for. There are a couple of places you can get out and hike, or you can stay in your car. We saw great blue herons, egrets, tons of red-winged blackbirds, cinnamon teals, painted turtles, and many more birds. And this spot is absolutely gorgeous. I am already planning a trip to go back near the end of summer to see how things have changed. I love it there. We finished up weekend with a trip to the Rose Festival downtown with some neighbors. The kids went on a few rides, ate french fries and ice cream, and ran around like maniacs. It was a good end to a good weekend.

How was your weekend?
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Closer Look at my Trash

A few weeks ago I took my students to the local transfer station. For those of you not up to par with your garbage-lingo, the transfer station is the place your trash goes after it is picked up from your house and before it heads to the landfill. It is pretty crazy to see what folks throw away...This trip made me think a lot about my family's trash-- what we throw away and how we can make a dent in reducing that.
First off, living in Portland, our trash only gets collected once every two weeks. This is usually no problem, as curb side recycling picks up glass, paper, metal and several types of plastics, and we can compost all of our food scraps and yard waste. So, compared to the rest of the country, I think the amount of trash that we send to the landfill each week is considerably less than average.
But, compared to the rest of the world, our trash load is enormous. We still have a can that is usually 3/4 full every two weeks, and after a big purge, it may be crammed full. I wanted to know how my family could create that much trash when we are so conscious of composting and recycling and we aren't huge consumers... So, for a couple of weeks I paid really close attention to everything that was going into our trash can, and here is what I found:

- about half of our trash is dog poop, cat poop and cat litter. We use a compostable sawdust litter in one of the litter boxes, but one of the cats refuses to use it, so we still have a litter box full of the clay-based litter that we have to completely change (and toss) every couple of weeks.
- in our kitchen trash, we were putting whatever I had swept up off of the floor (usually that is mainly pet hair, and with 5 animals inside I have to sweep a lot!), along with packaging that can't be recycled curbside or taken to the local recycling center, old sponges, a few broken toys, and lint from the dryer.
- our bathroom garbage gets filled up very quickly with toilet tissue that some folks in the family like to blow their nose with. I use old bandanas for this, but can't seem to convince everyone to join my hanky brigade.
- and then, we sometimes have a big item that gets thrown in as well-- like our toilet seat that recently cracked and was unable to be recycled.

Then I thought about how I could lessen what we throw away. I know that we need to get more items in bulk and use less packaging, especially food packaging. It's especially tough when I am packing a lunch each day for a picky eater, but I know that I can do better. I also have plans to make reusable snack bags for Finn to bring to school. I wash out our ziplocs and re-use them several times, but reusable bags would cut out that waste all together. Now if I could just find the time.....
I think being more selective about we let into the house is our best bet. When I choose toys for my children, they are often things that we buy used, or that are made to last. But trips to birthday parties or the nickle arcade result in handfuls of cheap plastic items that often break on the way home. And when my kids receive presents from others or choose toys with their own money, those are often not the same items I would choose.

I would like to figure out and attempt to reduce our trash even more. How do you reduce your trash?
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Look Ma! I Have Arms!

One of our 5 tadpoles has sprouted arms-- our little polliwogs are on on their way to becoming frogs! Isn't it cute?

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This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo (sometimes 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.

 elementary school art show

 first rollerskating adventure
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yarn Along... slowly, slowly

Joining with Ginny at Small Thing's for today's Yarn Along.  A little friend joined me this morning for my photo. She didn't really crawl up to my book, but I set her nearby and she came up to explore. I then removed her and put her in the neighbor's grass (along with a few other snail friends that were enjoying my garden this morning). I have a problem with killing snails because they are just too darn cute. The minute those eyeballs pop out, I am suckered into shooing them along instead of feeding them to the ducks (like I feel no shame doing with slugs). Call me a little snail obsessed if you like, but I am guessing I'm not the only one who has a soft spot in her heart for these guys.

 I finally feel like I am starting to make progress on my sweater. However, at  close to 2 skeins in, as I was dividing for the sleeves, I realized that somehow I was about 40 stitches short! I think that my brain just doesn't mesh very well with the pattern author's writing. I already had to frog this sweater once, near the end of the first skein, and start over. So, even though I was afraid the sweater might be way too small for me, I decided to forge on. I added a bunch more stitches when I separated the sleeves, and happily, I think it worked. I guess I will know for sure when it is all complete, but I am feeling confident. I think if I had to rip this one out again, it would have been quite a long while before I started over. I have made a small mistake in the ribbing too, but I think it is one that only I will notice...

I am still reading This Place on Earth, and working on finishing up the first book in the Game of Throne series. I have been reading a little bit almost every day, but only a very little bit. I feel like I have been reading these books for ages! I have a whole stack of others just waiting for me, so time to step it up.

Some sad news in knitting, one of my favorite yarn shops in town is closing down, and even sadder is that they hosted the monthly pub knitting that I looked forward to every month. Next month will be the last one, ever. I think that I need

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weekend Gratitudes

This week I have felt grateful for:

Time spent in the garden (and the friends I found out there)

Fresh greens (butter lettuce, mustard greens and cilantro) for my sandwich pulled right out of the garden

A huge thunderstorm (with hail) that the whole family watched from the front porch (and the big puddle that kept Phoebe occupied afterwards)!

My sweet Moshi dog, who is so kind and tolerant of energetic children. Plus, she snuggles with me every night.

That our tadpoles are doing well and growing. Two of them already have both back legs, and one has one back leg (hoping the second one actually comes!) Can you see the back legs on this fellow? He basically posed for the camera for me!

That little Miss Phoebe has a strong curiosity for nature and all living creatures. She collects insects to play with on a daily basis and nurtures them as well as a 3 year old can.

And finally, time spent with some friends, a Saturday morning trip to the farmer's market, this awesome nature show the kids and I watched today, some time for knitting, Downton Abbey, and a huge sale on gluten free breads and crackers at our neighborhood grocery.

What have you felt grateful for this weekend?

Joining in with the other Taryn of Wooly Moss Roots for a Gratitude Sunday post and  Amanda from The Habit of Being for a weekending post.

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Friday, May 16, 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.

And... if you have a garden that you would like to share with us, check out my May Garden Link-up!

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our May Garden and a Garden Link-Up!

Our garden is just starting to come to life.. spring flowers are blooming and early vegetables are starting to blossom. I know I have a lot of work to do in the weeks to come, and the sun and flowers and quite a motivation.
Currently, in our garden, we are growing: 2 varieties of snap peas, kale, lettuce, radishes, garlic, strawberries, beets, mustard greens, and cilantro, as well as our perennial herbs. The flowers on our blueberry bushes are turning to fruit, our hop plant is going crazy, and our grape vine is starting to show fruit. Oh yes, and we have snails. Lots and lots of snails.

What is growing in your garden? I would love to see... please share your link with us below!

 I will try and do a garden link-up around the middle of each month from now until September or October if you would like to share your garden with me.

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