Hello! My name is Courtney. I'm mama to Silas and wife of Steve. The three of us (along with three cats and a dog) make our home on the flat plains of Iowa.

I am a life-long learner and love to try my hand at new projects. My bookshelves tell the chronological history of my passions – from filmmaking to literature to art to homesteading to parenting and more– I am a collector of interests and hoarder of knowledge.

I started blogging in 2004 (in this space in 2009). I created A Life Sustained as part of my Master's thesis project in art. I wrote about the intersection of artistic practice and green living as well as my personal efforts to live a sustainable and low impact life. After I finished school, this space became one where I could reflect and hold myself accountable. It was not only an opportunity to document my interests and the new skills I was learning, but it also represented a shift from being a hoarder of knowledge to a sharer of it. There was and is a lot of really exciting conversation going on here on the Internet, and I wanted to be a part of it.

When I gave birth to my son in the winter of 2011, I embarked on a new journey as a stay-at-home-mother, and have embraced all aspects of gentle and Attachment Parenting. Now that my son is a toddler, my focus is on creating a home environment and family culture that encourages child-led investigations, open play, and a deep connection with nature.

This is Silas.

Born at home in the water in the winter of 2011, Silas has been my constant companion for the past 3 ½ years. In his first days I described him as an old soul and that description has held true. He is an observer and a thinker. He is the most musical person that I know; always finding a beat to dance to whether it comes from the radio or from the trucks rumbling down the street. And he’s hilarious.

This is Steve.

We met in a bar eleven years ago and haven’t stopped laughing since. In so many ways, he is truly my better half. He works with computers and provides the necessary counterpoint of realism to my world of dreaming. The wedding we planned six years ago was flooded out, so we got married in our backyard instead. It was a celebration of friends and family coming together in a time of great stress to support us in our commitment to one another. I can’t imagine a better foot on which to start a life together.

And this is me.

I went to college for eight years and I am neither a doctor nor a Ph.D. I just couldn’t stop taking classes. There was too much interesting stuff to learn. I have an MA in Art and undergraduate degrees in English, Film Production, and Theatre. I also completed an undergraduate certificate program in Sexuality Studies and minored in American Studies. (See, I told you I couldn’t stop.) I also collected jobs in much the same way I collected majors in college. In the 15 or so years that I've been in the working world I've had over 20 different job titles (and I have never once been fired), but the best, by far, has been "mama."

What will you find here?

Toddler Explorations chronicle the daily moments of child-directed learning with my two-year-old. After Silas was born I read voraciously about early childhood education (I've compiled my favorite resources here). Right now, homeschooling feels like a good fit for us. I’ve embraced elements from Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio approaches as well as principles from Attachment Parenting and mindfulness to custom make a blend of holistic education that works for us.

I experienced a “food awakening” in 2008. After much research and much time spent thinking about what it really meant to nourish my body, I set out to make a lot of changes and experienced some pretty amazing health benefits. It’s been a winding path as I learn as we go and try to find ways to eat that are aligned with our values. CSA Recipes catalog how we use our weekly haul from our Community Supported Agriculture subscription. I like to talk about food and eating the way that we do to take the mystery out of it. If a Midwestern girl who was raised on the standard American diet can learn to cook whole foods from scratch, so can anyone.

Finally, I write about new steps on our ongoing journey towards simpler and more sustainable living. This includes gardening, food preservation, crafting, and all manner of DIY goodness, including tutorials.

“To sustain” is to strengthen, to support and to continue, and that’s just what this blog, and this life, is all about.

If you'd like to join in the conversation you can do so on Facebook, Twitter, or by Email. I hope you do.