Back To The Roots mushroom mini farm

The kiddos are LOVING this Back To The Roots mushroom mini farm that Paul picked up from Home Depot a week or so ago. This is our results as of 6 days, so we still have a few more days. It is amazing to watch it grow so quickly. We have it sitting on the counter near a back window so that it gets light.

The boys wake up every morning and check on the mushroom farm. I highly doubt they will actually eat them, but it is definitely cool to expose them to any aspects of gardening. They like to watch their food grow. Plus we love that they are all organic!

A little backyard photo shoot!

Look at these two cuties! I snapped a few pictures of them in the backyard, I haven't photographed them in awhile so we took advantage of a nice day. But, as they get older they definitely get tired of having their picture taken, ha.

Healthier pizza with StoneFire naan flatbreads

When you are wanting to eat healthy, eating the same foods over and over just gets old.  Plus you don't have to give up EVERYTHING, there are plenty of healthier spins on unhealthy foods that you can indulge in occasionally.

I used a whole Stonefire naan flatbread, topped it with basil paste, crushed garlic, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes. It was so good, and definitely not greasy. To make it really healthy, you can also add veggies (I forgot to, but ate a salad with it).

For me, pizza makes me really sick due to the ingredients, and how greasy it is. This is such a great alternative that definitely didn't make me sick. The possibilities are endless.

Guest post: Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence: How You Can Help

                                          Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Alexander Ramsey

Substance abuse and domestic violence are very connected in a cycle of trauma and abuse. Drug and alcohol usage is one of the leading risk factors for domestic violence, although it is difficult to determine accurate numbers because these crimes often go unreported. Victims experience this trauma in different ways, all of which affect how they interact with their family, friends, coworkers and loved ones - including how they parent their children. Sadly, children who grow up in homes where they witness domestic violence and substance abuse are more likely to become users and abusers as well as runaways, juvenile delinquents or adult criminals. There is also evidence that the victims of domestic violence are more likely to develop substance abuse issues in an effort to deal with the trauma they experienced at the hands of their own partner.

This circular pattern of addiction or substance usage and domestic abuse leads to a cycle that is difficult to break - and heartbreakingly common. If you think you might know someone who is struggling with one or both of these issues, there are a few things you can do to help.

Witness to Violence Resources
There are several resources available for families, partners and children who have witnessed violence in their homes - regardless of whether or not the abuse was related to drugs and alcohol. Many cities now have nonprofits, women’s shelters and rape crisis centers with onsite professionals trained to offer confidential assistance to victims and their families.

Therapy and Psychiatric Counseling
A trained therapist or psychiatrist can help victims and their families work through the difficult emotions and uncontrollable thoughts that come along with domestic violence trauma. Often, the symptoms of trauma do not exhibit right away, and may show up months or even years after the trauma first occurs. In addition, many victims may deal with depression, anxiety, or longer term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Reading Resources
To stay educated and informed on these topics in an effort to better help others, you can read any of the many books available on domestic violence and/or substance abuse. Two commonly recommended books include: When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse by Lundy Bancroft, and The Batterer as Parent by Lundy Bancroft and Jay G. Silverman.

Treatment for Substance Abuse
Offenders, victims and families who abuse substances like illegal drugs, prescription pills or alcohol will need proper treatment and, ideally, a twelve-step program to help end the cycle of abuse and substance usage. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and similar groups allow addicts, alcoholics and other substance users to heal in a safe, confidential environment. In addition, the books by respected author Melody Beattie, herself a recovering alcoholic and addict, are a great resource for victims, those in recovery, and their families.

Help is available for the mothers, fathers, and children of substance abuse and domestic violence. This is not a situation that anyone has to go through alone. By working together to help others, and by always making use of our available resources and skillfully trained professionals, we can help combat domestic violence and substance abuse.

Michelle Peterson is a recovering addict. She is passionate about sharing stories and information to inspire recovering addicts.

Encourage outdoor play this fall & winter!!

The leaves have changed, the air is more crisp, which means colder weather, shorter days but no matter the weather our family loves to find different ways to make time for play. It's so easy to get wrapped into all the holiday activities, but our family believes in the magic of outdoor play.  The season may get busy, but you can never be too busy for play. Playgrounds are free play as well, and what is better than free?!?!

The weather changing never means staying indoors for us! We always make time to get outside weekly, and because of that my boys do not mind being out in the cold. They are pretty active, and would much rather being outside versus watching TV as a result. Never be afraid to be a little cold! To make it even better, we like to invite friends along with us. The more the merrier!

IPEMA's  Voice of Play website highlights the scientifically proven physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits of play. Here are some of the benefits of play that they listed:

  • Self confidence & self esteem
  • Encourages being social
  • Release of emotions
  • Brain and skill development 

Here are a few ways to sneak in outdoors play:

  • Visit a playground weekly! Even if it is just 30 minutes, it makes a world of difference.
  • Go for a nature walk.  Make little scavenger hunt sheets to encourage exploring!
  • Go for a neighborhood walk.
  • Visit a zoo, or a recreational park. As long as you bundle up you can still have fun, plus being active definitely warms you up!

This post is sponsored by the Voice of Play.

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
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Udemy's Online Courses!

Udemy offers a great variety of online courses, at such great prices! I was recently selected by Mom's Meet to test a course. I went for the photography course. What mom doesn't want better pictures of her kids, or daily adventures? I love photography, but there is always room to improve.

The photography course is currently $10 which 71% off the original price. This is a STEAL! I love it! The course is about 5 1/2 hours long total (doesn't have to be done in one day), and whether you are a pro or a beginner it really gives you some great tips / insights into creating beautiful photographs.

I found the instructor to be great too, very likeable and easy to listen to. As a busy mom of two, I don't have all the time in the world to take classes right now -- which is why I am thankful for these online, affordable classes. Plus once you complete the course you get a certificate of completion!

Thanks to this course, I really learned some new tips for producing great photos, which no matter how great you can edit -- it all starts with the great photograph in the first place. I enjoyed the courses, and can definitely see myself signing up for another one!

I learned a lot of about lighting, how to focus on your subject, and about manual shooting.

Check out the course here, and see what else they offer. Sign up now for a great discount!

***I was given this course free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

Pumpkin Patch 2016!!

We went to visit our favorite pumpkin patch over at Brookedale Farms again, for the 6th year in a row. It's a special farm to us, and it is really awesome there. Brookedale has a kids play area, U pick (from the vine!!!) pumpkins, and horse-drawn hayrides. The hayrides are done by Gene, who is 80 years old. He has been doing this for years, and the two horses he has are amazing!

The whole feel of this farm, is so family friendly. There are also other great spots next door to this farm. They also sell delicious local jams, honey, salsa, etc. Brookedale always has a great selection of pumpkins, but this year they did get hit by the hurricane which affected their fields.

Luckily, we still found three good pumpkins from the field. And as always we enjoyed another year at our favorite farm in the area. The boys totally weren't into picture taking, so I didn't get a ton of shots but they had a blast.