Truth, Pain, and DMX

Growing up as a white kid in a predominantly white area my upbringing wasn’t as tragic as many, but through-out my teenage years the reality of life started cracking away the shell that had been built around me. Plenty of loss that left a void needing to be filled, but rather with strife, I turned to Dark Man X and many other artists just like him.

To live is to suffer. To survive, well, is to find meaning in the suffering

-DMX

My parents divorced when I was just starting my teenage years. As one of the most important developmental times in a kid’s life I was going through some deep emotional trauma with them splitting up. My father filled his void with drinking and it destroyed our family. Without guidance I turned to what I knew, and at that time in my life, that was music. Around the same time DMX was coming out of the gates swinging. There wasn’t a person that didn’t know “Y’all gonna make me lose my mind!!!”. As a teen I blasted these albums on repeat. We didn’t have iTunes, Spotify, or anything like that. It was CDs and that is exactly how I listed to X. It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and DMX’s follow up, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and …and Then There Was X, guided those teenage years of mine through the darkness that continued to plague my younger years.

I always felt like DMX spoke the truth no matter how harsh. He never glorified the drugs he was addicted to, just spoke to the pain and truth involved with the addiction he was faced with. While I wasn’t addicted to drugs, I was going through a pain of my parents separating, followed by my dad passing away… and as a kid, you do not exactly know how to deal with these things. DMX allowed me to let out the anguish I was facing watching my parents relationship burn to the ground. Hearing him rap with so much emotional depth, that deep voice, and the growl. I don’t why but those barks, his energy, whatever it was, it gave me the release to understand my own emotions to get me through.

DMX kept me grounded. I can only imagine what impressionable shit I could have gotten into coming out of a broken home. X allowed me to escape without hurting myself, and I can never thank him enough for that. While he isn’t the only artist that helped carry me through pain, this past week, reading and watching DMX slowly decline in health brought back a lot of these memories and made me remember how thankful I am for him and every single other artist out there, whether they know it or not, but their art is helping someone somewhere.

RIP Early Simmons aka Dark Man X

How Healthy Is Your Relationship With Your Phone?

Your smartphone is a miracle. It allows you to answer any question and settle any heated barroom debate in seconds. It allows you to turn a tedious commute into productive working time. It is your gateway to hundreds of hours of awesome online content (much of it free) so that you need never be bored or lonely again. You can even make phone calls on it (as alien a notion as that may seem to many these days, especially our kids). Yet, while we’re constantly told that we should be vigilant when keeping tabs on our kids’ use of technology, we so often neglect our own relationships with our phones. And that can be a problem. Developing young minds aren’t the only ones that can be warped by spending too much time on their phones. In fact, even the oldest and wisest of us can find ourselves getting into bad habits where our phones are concerned. 

Here are some questions all Dads should ask themselves to ensure that they have a healthy relationship with their phones. 

Are you guilty of phubbing?

Phone snubbing or “phubbing” is something that we’re very keen to clamp down on when we catch our kids doing it. But when we catch ourselves falling into the same bad habit, we need to shut it down even faster. If our kids catch us engrossed in our phones at the dinner table or in another inappropriate context, they’ll see it as a tacit sign that it’s okay, no matter what you say out loud. And this can increase their dependence on their devices and impede social development. 

How long are you spending on your phone?

Be honest now. How much time do you spend on your phone every day? Less than 5 hours? 10 hours? 15 hours? Believe it or not, the amount of time we spend on our phones isn’t that dissimilar between baby boomers, gen x, millennials and gen z with each spending around 4-6 hours a day on their phones. Still, there are many who would say that more than one or two is too many. It’s certainly worth tracking how much time you spend on your phone from one week to the next.

Do your amusements become addictions?

Our smartphones are our gateway to a treasure trove of fun games. Whether you’re playing games just for the fun of it, reconnecting with childhood classics ported over from your mobile device or even trying to make a little money through online games and casinos- take a look at this LeoVegas casino review for an example, there are all kinds of ways in which we can wile away the hours with games. But we need to be vigilant. These amusements and distractions can become addictions if we’re not careful. We need to exercise restraint and self-discipline so that they don’t impact our productivity at home and at work. 

How are you sleeping?

Finally… like tablets, laptops and TVs, smartphones emit blue light which can disrupt the brain’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin which in turn can lead to insomnia. If you’re having trouble drifting off at night, it may be a sign that you’re spending too much time with your face in a screen!

How to Save Money on School Supplies

Back to school, like Christmas is a family budget-buster today. According to a study by Huntington Bank, the Backpack Index revealed that the average cost of sending a child back to school was $1000 in 2017.

You do not need to drain your bank account and spend that much though. If you plan and start early, it will only cost you a fraction of the $ 1000 to set your kids off.

Here are strategies to help you shop for back to school as a frugal parent, whether your kids are off to college, or starting kindergarten.

Supply sweep

Round up all school and office supplies you own. If you look around, you may have plenty of these lying around your house in the desk drawers, basements bin or closets. Office and schools supplies that you own can help you save a significant amount of money.

Collect all of them in a central location like the dining room. Make a list or take pictures of what you have and carry the list or photos with you to the store when going for shopping to remember what you have.

Also, check the kids closets and dispose of worn-out clothes. Donate or sell what your child has outgrown. The sweep will give you a clear picture of what you need to buy and prevent you from getting what you already have.

Plan a supply swap

Get your neighbors and friends on board, and organize a supply swap before you go shopping. You may have things that they need, like reams of paper bought on sale but will never use. Someone else may have some packs of pencils that they would willingly trade for the paper. Family and friends with school-going children may have extra supplies that they will not mind trading in. Talk to them and sell the idea.

Shop at thrift stores and garage sales

You will find used shoes in good condition, clothing, school supplies and even backpacks in garage sales. Hit up the garage sales for all the things you need as they are a treasure trove. Though this may take time, you may get great bargains and save significantly on back to school clothes and supplies. All you need to do is to start early, and also ask family and friends to keep an eye on garage sales near them. Moms will also find great bargains on other things.

Thrift stores are also a great way to save. Many stores run back to school items sales for parents and clothing is incredibly affordable. Since many parents are after saving, the selection is picked over early, hence you need to start early.

Start shopping for clothes in mid-June to late July when the clothes selection is plenty. Put the clothes away until school start so as not to wear off the newness of the clothes.

Consignment stores

Here you will find great bargains on used clothing as their products are vetted, unlike the thrift store. You will not have to go through blouses from 1975 to get a designer cloth on a budget.

Check if consignment shops around you will have summer sales. Many organize seasonal sales. Keep watch on the back-to-school shopping season as several stores may have a mega-sale in one location.

Check the dollar store

Dollar stores have incredible school supplies bargains and you will find basic things like pencils and notebooks, sanitizer, and Kleenex, all at discounted prices. Shop in summer months as you will never know what the stores will order and how long the items will be in stock.

Compare prices

Amazon’s ever-changing prices are a great way to save on kids electronics that most parents have to buy. Websites like camelcamelcamel track the history of the price range for every product on Amazon. Sign up for the price change alert of the particular products so that you can tell when it changes.

There are many apps to help save money by comparing prices across retailers to find out the best deal. ShopSavvy, available for Android and iOS users will let you know if a product is available at a lower price in another store when you scan the barcode. Download a barcode scanner for it to work.

Also, check your nearest drugstore or grocery store for the best prices on school supplies. You may be surprised that items are cheaper in your neighborhood when on sale than the big stores. If you have any store dollars from loyalty programs, consider using them and save.

Conclusion

Many parents would rather enjoy summer than think of back to school shopping for the coming school year. However, it pays to prepare early. Planning ahead will save you money as you take advantage of every sale and opportunity to save that comes your way. Find a safe way of keeping the coupons you collect through the year as they will come in handy when shopping for back to school.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

Dealing With a Breakup When Children are Involved

A relationship coming to an end is rarely a happy and positive situation. There tend to be all sorts of negative emotions flung about. You may experience upset, hurt, jealousy, anger, and other undesirable feelings. You are also likely to have arguments and heated debates in the lead up to calling things quits. It’s a generally unpleasant situation to find yourself in. However, things can become even more difficult and complicated when there are children involved. If you and your partner have children and are considering bringing your relationship to an end, you’re going to have a whole lot more responsibility on your plate than the average couple without children do. After all, you need to put your little ones’ needs first and foremost and ensure that they are okay throughout the entire process. Here are just a few pieces of advice that you should bear in mind when it comes to dealing with a breakup when there are kids involved!

Remain Civil

If you are sharing custody of your children, you’re going to have to remain relatively civil with your partner. No matter what water has passed beneath the bridge in your relationship, you’re likely to have to maintain some form of contact in order to share responsibility over raising your children. You need to set a good example to your children – constantly arguing and nitpicking can create a hostile environment and encourage negative behavioural traits in them should they decide to copy you.

Request Legal Help

If your partner refuses to remain civil and is trying to claim full custody over the kids and is trying to completely cut you out of the equation, you may need to consult father’s rights help. This will help to put you in touch with legal professionals who can ensure that you aren’t removed from the picture of your little ones’ lives.

Seek Support

This entire process can be emotionally challenging and draining. Remember that you are not alone! There are plenty of different sources of support out there that can help you to pull through this difficult time. Friends and family can provide a shoulder to lean on, but also bear in mind that there are specialist support groups as well as helplines should you want to talk to a neutral individual who isn’t involved in your life in any other way. Never feel that you are being weak by reaching out for emotional support and help – we all need it during hard times in our lives.

Sure, dealing with any breakup in life is going to be relatively difficult. But having children in the mix can add a whole new dimension to the process. But try not to worry too much. The above advice should help you to deal with the situation as well as possible!

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.