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, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I woke this morning to a quiet house and a layer of frost covering everything outside. If I squint my eyes hard enough, I can almost imagine that it's snow.....

This is the first major holiday I have had since Todd moved out, and there was quiet a bit of emotion building up to it. Holidays are times for family, and when your family has had major changes, well.... let's just say that can bring on the waterworks.

However, despite the changes, I know I am lucky. Todd and I still get along (mostly) and we are having Thanksgiving today, together (with some other friends too). Which means that we both get to spend Thanksgiving with the kids, and for this I am grateful. And, I must say that it was nice to wake up this morning in my own time to a quiet house. I have been drinking my coffee, making cranberry sauce, doing some chores, and enjoying the peace. And I plan to sneak in a run before the kids come over at noon.

And, since it's Thanksgiving, I may as well share some of my gratitudes from the past few days:
  • For the wildlife that surrounds me in the city. Just yesterday, there were 5 types of birds and 2 kinds of squirrels, in my front yard, all at the same time. As I am wriitng this, there are about 25 bushtits swarming the feeders. It makes me so happy. If you feed them, they will come. I love that my tiny city lot can offer enough wilderness to support these creatures.
  • For my friends and family who have been there for me to lean on during this time of transition. I know that I mention this almost every time I do a gratitude post, but I honestly feel so thankful every day for these people in my life.
  • For Phoebe and the way that she will randomly shout out "I love you mom!". It's a nice reminder. I think adults should do that more often. The world would definitely be a happier place.
  • For good music. Right? I have been listening to The Wood Brothers newest album, Paradise,  and it is amazing. I love them. I already have my ticket to see them when they come here in January. I have seen them several times and they never disappoint. Have you heard them? If not, I suggest you do. Luckiest Man is one of my favorite songs of all times. Grateful to the max for those guys.
  • For laughter. It's the best way to heal your soul, hands down.
What are you grateful for today?

Wishing you all a fabulous holiday weekend.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Our Weekend (and the Case of the Epic Fail)

This weekend was one that my kids labeled as an "epic fail". I think that overall the weekend turned out okay, but we did have some serious moments of failure....

Miss Phoebe has a bit of a cough, and whenever she gets any sort of respiratory infection, it causes her asthma to get bad. Friday night, around 12:30 a.m., just as I was starting to fall asleep, Phoebe (who was in my bed with me) woke up and started coughing and wheezing. She told me she couldn't breathe, so I got her rescue inhaler. She continued to scream that she couldn't breathe, and that she was dying and needed to go to the emergency room. My rational brain was saying that if she is talking fine, she can breathe. But my 1-o'clock-in-the-morning brain could only hear the part about not breathing and dying, and went into panic mode. This mama bear was scared.

So, Phoebe and I headed to the emergency room. She was shaking the whole way there and I kept talking to her, making sure that she could still breathe. As we walked into the ER, she seemed fairly calm, and was definitely breathing okay, but was still a bit wheezy. I hesitated, thinking that maybe we should go home, but I decided that since we were there, we might as well stay and just be sure.

And yes, she was fine. The doctor thinks she probably got some phlegm caught in her throat, from her asthma, and was having trouble breathing... which created a lot of anxiety in Phoebe, that was probably furthered by my reaction to her. I guess better safe than sorry, but I only got a couple of hours of sleep Friday night, and I am sure we will be getting a fairly hefty ER bill in the mail soon.... oh well.

Saturday was gorgeous. Very cold, but lovely sunny skies. Some of my favorite weather. We had a slow start to the morning (we were all a bit groggy from the ER adventure), but I decided that we would go on a hike in the gorge, about 40 minutes away. We packed the car up, made the drive..... and then drove around the parking lot for about 30 minutes trying to park the car.... and we were unsuccessful. I guess it is a popular place on a sunny Saturday in fall. We eventually just gave up, and found a different place where we could park by the river and watch salmon spawning for a little bit. So, the hike idea was abandoned, and yes, the trip was an "epic fail".

On the way home from the hike, I started to get a really itchy neck, on the underside of my chin. By the time I got home I had a bunch of hives, and they were driving me mad. After a few hours of hoping they would go away, I indulged myself in a benadryl. They went away, but I can't for the life of me figure out what caused them.....

Sunday turned out a bit better. The kids and I had breakfast with their dad, and he hung out with them for a bit afterwards so that I could go for a run. I needed that! Afterwards, the kids and I did some cleaning and purging, some reading, and mostly decided to not try anything too adventurous so that our day wouldn't be another "epic fail".

So, here's hoping that the upcoming week is a success!

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend.

Joining in with Karen from Pumpkin Sunrise

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gratitude Sunday

Hello! Hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I am just stopping in to share some of my moments of gratitude from this week. This week I have felt grateful for:
  • Friends. I am so lucky to have such amazing friends. I have had such great support while going through my divorce transition; friends who come over to see me at my house after the kids have gone to bed (since I have very few nights that I can actually leave my house), friends who listen to me cry, complain and hope for hours on end, friends who send me a message when they can't be there to give me a hug, blog friends who support me from so far away, and friends who stand by my side no matter what. Thank you, friends.
  • Sunshine. After a week of some serious rain, we have had a couple of days of sunshine. It was much needed. My favorite part was driving past Mt. Hood yesterday; the sky was full sun and a lovely blue, and Mt. Hood was covered in a fresh coat of glistening white snow. It was Oregon at it's best.
  • Snuggles. Phoebe has been a snuggle machine lately. She has been sleeping in my bed almost every night, and not just in my bed, but snuggled close to me at all times. If we aren't touching, she wakes me up to make sure we get closer. A year ago, I would have probably been annoyed, and felt like I needed more space. But I now realize that we are both going through a transition, and I must say that it is nice to have her next to me. Plus, as she gets older and older, I know that these moments are fleeting. I have decided to embrace the snuggle with my entire self. ;)
  • Choices. Actually, this one is a bit of a double edged sword.... as I am making this transition into a single mama, and figuring out my plan for the future, I have lots of decisions to make. Lots of choices. Which honestly is a bit stressful and overwhelming at times. However, when I stop to think about it, having these choices is amazing. How wonderful that I have options--some may be more viable than others, but it is still nice to be able to steer my life towards the direction I want it to go in. I suppose that these options were always available to me, but as my life has been forced into a major change, I am now finally seeing my options and seeing different paths that I can follow.
  • Puppy Cow. My eldest dog, almost 15, is very near the end. And while I am not grateful for having to watch him suffer, and knowing that sometime soon I will likely have to make a hard decision about when to end his life, I am so grateful to have had him in my life for such a long time. He started to go downhill, fairly rapidly, about a year ago. For an entire year, I have felt like I have only had weeks or months left with him. And it has now been a year. So I am grateful for this "extra" time and grateful for every moment I can share with him.
  • Medicine. It's almost ironic that I am putting this on here. I am taking an herb class right now and have been fascinated by what I am learning and am so eager to transition away from regular medicine and work on improving my family's health with herbs. But, at the same time, we are rather dependent on pharmaceuticals, and this week has been a week of meds. Phoebe has been sick and has had a fever and some serious asthma issues and I had hives randomly appear all over my neck. If we lived 150 years ago, our survival would probably be bleak!

Long list today, isn't it?

What have you felt grateful for this week?

Joining in with the other Taryn from Wooly Moss Roots

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Friday, November 20, 2015

The Soil Will Save Us: A Review


I just finished reading The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson. Kristin Ohlson is a local Portland author. It's always fun to read something that was written by someone in your own community, isn't it? Makes it seem just a little more special.
This is a book about climate change. However, it is unlike any other book on climate change that I have read. This book doesn't talk about the demise of the planet, or how we need to all stop driving our cars tomorrow. This book addresses climate change from a new perspective; instead of the doom and gloom, it addresses how we can slow climate change without a lot of money or technology.
The Soil Will Save Us talks about the importance of global soils in sequestering and storing carbon from the atmosphere. And, according to Ohlson's research, a significant amount of our carbon emissions could be removed from the atmosphere by simply growing soil, and leaving that soil (and the microbes that call it home) undisturbed indefinitely.  She talks about the importance of grazing in maintaining soil productivity (not the first that I have read about this in recent months), the need for no-till farming practices, and how political policies that reimburse farmers for the carbon that their soil sequesters may be the wave of the future.
I am a soils nerd, so I, of course, loved the book. My one criticism is that it reads a bit like a novel, which for most, is probably great. However, for me, I felt that there was so much important information being said, yet in my mind I was having trouble compartmentalizing it and figuring out the main points to put to memory. I felt like I needed the chapters to be broken up into different sections, instead of one idea running into the next. Regardless, I enjoyed reading it.
Ohlson's book portrays hope for our future and her belief that we will be saved by the soil. I am not quite convinced enough to be as optimistic as her, but I can only hope that she is right.. and that the word will spread before it is too late. I personally think that in order to mitigate climate change, we will probably have to take action in so many ways on so many levels..... but I must admit that growing soil sound like the best solution I have heard of yet.
I am considering having my class read this next term for their literature review. It might be nice to give them something optimistic for once....
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yarn Along

Good afternoon! Joining with Ginny at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along.

I am nearing the end of Phoebe's puddle duck sweater and I am loving it. It has been an easy knit so far, and I think it will be really cute on her. I wish they had adult sizes actually..... I could use a sweater with pockets!

I am still reading War and Peace..... very, very slowly. I haven't read much yet, and I haven't been pulled into the story yet either.  The book is just so darn big that it is sort of inconvenient! I can't bring it with me anywhere, and I have to find a good place to prop it up when I read, as it is too heavy to just hold. I'll have to hunker down at home a bit this weekend and immerse myself. I know that once I get sucked in, the book won't seem quite as daunting. In the meantime, I have been reading Crossed, it's the second book in the YA series Matched. It's a quick and fairly gripping read and I have powered through most of it in just a couple of days.

What are you reading? What are you knitting?
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekend Gratitudes

I just realized that I haven't been in this space since last Sunday. This past week was busy with appointments, job applications and meetings, which didn't leave me with much free time, or much interesting to write about either!
I spent the weekend in Tacoma, Washington. I headed up on Friday night and spent all day Saturday in a teaching workshop focused on bringing case-studies into the classroom to enhance discussions around sustainability and diversity. It was great-- now I just need to find some time to incorporate what I learned into my teaching plan for next term.
This was my first time actually spending time in Tacoma, so this morning I gave myself a little tour of the city. It was perfect, as the sun finally came out after a long two days of constant rain. I went to Point Defiance Park and found a quaint little northwest natives garden and some huge mushrooms, I stopped into the Tacoma botanical gardens, and then before I left town I went to the bridge of glass that was made by Dale Chihuly (if you don't know of his work, you should google him-- it's pretty rad!).

And, since it is Sunday, I guess it's time to share my weekly gratitudes with you all! This week I have been grateful for:
  • Watching some back-lit yellow leaves fall from a tree today. It looked liked golden glitter falling from the sky. 
  • My brave Finn! He had some dental work on Monday and took it like a champ. Only a few years ago we couldn't even get him to open his mouth for a dentist. He has come such a long way!
  • Finishing a run, coming inside, and then watching a torrential downpour begin. I had some perfect timing!
  • Hand-me-downs. Phoebe gets clothes passed down for two separate friends and I can't even tell you how lucky I feel about this. It is so nice to only have to buy her a few supplemental things each season.
  • Leftovers. Like hand-me-downs, they are perfect. Free and ready to go!

What have you felt grateful for this week?

Joining in with the other Taryn from Wooly Moss Roots

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Sunday, November 8, 2015


This week was full of ups and downs, but throughout it all there was so much to be grateful for:

  • Arriving at Phoebe's preschool at pick-up time to find her holding hands with her new friend.
  • Heading to the City Hall meeting in downtown Portland last Wednesday to find a packed house (three overflow rooms packed to be exact!) in support of stopping oil trains and preventing future fossil fuel infrastructure in Portland. It made me happy to live here, surrounded by so many like-minded people who are motivated to change this world.
  • Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline! Woohoo!
  • Finn having an easy (for me) and fabulously fun birthday celebration at a water park in Washington. He was ecstatic for 24 hours straight.
  • The smile on Phoebe's face as she rode down the big water slide at Great Wold Lodge (which we sort of had to sneak her on, as she was a wee bit too short!). She kept screaming "This is the best thing ever!".

What have you felt grateful for this week?

Joining in with the other Taryn from Wooly Moss Roots
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