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Friday, May 20, 2016

6 Tips for Sharing Child Custody Amicably -- Guest post

Parenting can be to navigate no matter if you’re doing it solo or with a partner. But with a divorce and joint custody, you’ll find a different set of obstacles to overcome. With the right mindset, some restraint and acting as a team player, you can make your joint custody and co-parenting tips a success. The following are tips for an amicable custody arrangement.

Make Your Kids a Priority

When you’re children are sick with a cold or flu, you probably do everything in your power to make them well. Divorce is especially hard on children, so you want to give them additional TLC throughout this difficult time. Although you may be feeling guilty for breaking up the family, refrain from buying their love. You can still make your kids a priority without having to break the bank. Schedule dinners together with your kids and encourage them to talk and share their feelings. Take time out of your busy day to watch their baseball game or cheerleading practice.

Enlist the Help of a Professional

Although your soon-to-be ex-spouse may say they’re agreeable to an amicable divorce, the process can still be complicated and messy. A skilled attorney will be able to navigate the murky waters of divorce swiftly and with an expert eye. They’ll also be able to provide guidance on custody and alimony issues pertaining to your particular state.

Keep Your Negative Thoughts to Yourself

Just because you and your ex failed at marriage doesn’t make them a poor parent. If you’ve agreed to share custody, it’s time to put your differences aside. This means biting your tongue and keeping your negative thoughts about your ex to yourself. You don’t want your kids to feel like they have to choose one parent over the other. Discussions should be kept between both parties and not asking your children to be responsible for delivering messages. Your kids should be able to have a healthy and loving relationship with both parents without feeling guilty. If you need to voice your concerns, ask a friend, parent, loved one or therapist to lend an ear.

Communicate

No matter what the reasons behind your divorce, you may want to look at the relationship afterward as a business dealing. The lines of communication should be kept open in order to successful raise your kids. If you haven’t graduated to face-to-face communication yet, emails or text messages can work just fine. You could also keep in touch via telephone. Instead of arguing, try to keep the focus on your children and what’s best for them.

Set a Schedule

An attorney can help you hash out a shared schedule for your custody situation if you’re having difficulties. But once you’ve chosen a particular schedule, you need to stick with it. Keeping things consistent is important for both child and adult. An online calendar can allow you to share important information, dates and times to ensure that you both stay on task. If you have something come up, you can contact your ex-partner to see if they can adjust the original schedule.

Be a Team Player


Working through your issues can be difficult with an ex-spouse, especially if the divorce is bitter. But when it comes to the bigger issues such as discipline, studies, medical care and schooling, you need to be team players. The rules and consequences for breaking them should be the same in either home. You should also enforce the punishments if a child breaks the rules. Although you may not agree about everything, pick your battles and compromises in situations where it may be necessary.





Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fueling your body for success -- guest post

Fueling Your Body for Success

Achieving and maintaining your physique requires much more than hours in the gym pumping iron. In order to make strides and reach new fitness goals, you must treat your body as the top of the line machine that it is. This means not only preparing healthy and satisfying meals, but also nutritional snacks for when hunger strikes out of nowhere!

When life gets busy, it can be tough to find the time to prep meals and snacks that have the necessary nutrients to reach your health goals. Whether your goal is to become more lean or to lose weight, it’s always a great idea to have a pre-workout snack that contain carbohydrates. Some of the best pre-workout snacks to help to maximize the effectiveness of your workout include bananas, oats, and whole grains! Easily digestible carbs for quick energy are key.

When it comes to properly fueling your body post-workout, the options can be quite overwhelming. Since you’ve just finished a killer workout, it’s important to get a great recovery meal or snack in! A blend of carbohydrates and protein are a great way to refuel tired, sore muscles. The guide below from Nuts.com can help you can learn a little bit about how to properly refuel your body and find a healthy snack that will give you the nutrients necessary to work towards achieving your fitness goals.






Do you prefer a quick grab and go option? We’ve got a snack idea for that! You could choose from a variety of different options -- while some people prefer a trail mix, an apple with some peanut butter is another great option! Are you more of a smoothie person? There’s a ton of great protein filled recipes for you too! Smoothies are a great high-protein, low-calorie post workout option. Plus, they’re super convenient when it comes to traveling or being on the go because you can drink your nutrients!

Properly fueling your body will allow you to have more energy (in life & at the gym!) and will help you achieve your health goals. Eating immediately after working out will increase your body’s ability to refill muscle stores, while waiting two hours or more will decrease their ability by 50 percent. So, while putting in hours at the gym is a great start, nutrition is key when looking to shed weight. Be sure to be prepared with a quick snack that contains carbs and protein because as they say, “abs are made in the kitchen.”




Monday, May 9, 2016

What you can do for your country

So, a lot of people are scared this election cycle. They're not sure what they can expect, and they're praying Trump's ride is soon ending. But what if it isn't? How can we actually make a difference?

Unlike presidential elections of the past, 2016 is a year where the public has moved beyond signs, bumper stickers, phone calls and even political ads. 2016 is the year of social media, not like 2008 or 12 where the campaigns who used it best would come out on top, but where regular people representing the public have the chance to change the dialogue in our country. We're suddenly on the front lines. And we don't know what to do. And so many people think shouting a two-line FB status update is enough. They've done their part. But that's taking what should be action and substituting grandiosity and finger movement. It doesn't actually do anything.

So for those of us who actually want to play a part in our country's very important history right now, here are some things we can do. Some involve social media, some do not, some are more intensive than others, but all are something.


There are dozens of organizations looking for volunteers on the Democrat side, including women's health options, the National Organization for Women, Progressive Congress, and The Democratic National Committee at All things Democrat.

Don't forget your local and state candidates. Just as important to the country and its decisions is the Congress we vote into office to support the President. Here is a list of ways you can help within your own community, just for general ideas.

There is room for Republican action, too. You can sign up to volunteer and get sent opportunities right for you, here.

This article in Bustle has good pointers as to how to start on your political support journey, if you have time to volunteer for a campaign. It also has great, straight links to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Volunteer match is a great way to find pressing needs right now in your area. This link is set to Los Angeles, but if you type in your area, you can personalize it for you.

Want to volunteer for Bernie? Here.

Want to make calls? This is Bernie stuff, but applicable info for any candidate if you change the text. You can also attend conference calls, events or organize your own.

Jobs and internships for Hillary Clinton.

Supervolunteers is a good way to go if you don't want to work with the campaign directly, but want to support it.

Volunteer Match has a direct number to Hil's campaign, as well, found here.

Hillary also put up a specific page for those who are simply seeking to stop Donald Trump.


The most important thing people can do, however, is to talk about it. And not in superlatives or ultimatums. And not necessarily in large groups. Talk to your relatives, your friends, your loved ones. Logically, nicely, fairly. Know the reasons why you are voting for someone, what issues matter to you, and why the record on those issues sways in favor of your chosen candidate. Understand your audience. If your grandparents are evangelicals, talking about human rights on a liberal scale will do little to convince them, and may polarize. Maybe they've seen their children get laid off or struggle economically, so hit that instead, clearly outlining how your party or candidate will help more than the others. If you can convince one person you know not to vote for Trump, you've done more than most. I know that's been my goal. So far, I've got three.

Good luck, everybody.




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lemonade is not for us

In all seriousness, why is Matt Walsh still allowed to write stuff?

He is a walking, sniveling garbage fire. He has never written anything that had any merit at all. His greatest achievement is a white man golf clap. He's got plenty of time to talk about abortion and women's health and what women should be wearing.

He writes for Glenn Beck.

Oh.




The only reason I'm writing about this at all is because there is one sole audience who needs to hear my trite bullshit on this: white people.

And they need to hear it from me because over the past three days, I have witnessed them trampling all over women of color who are celebrating this release. They talk over them. They ignore them. They continue to cling to their tone deaf opinions, actively denigrating the lived experiences of others. Doing what we have done consistently throughout our history, telling people they don't matter. Telling people their experiences are wrong because they don't match our perceptions. And then acting put out when there is pushback on their tired 1983 platitudes. The same smug brush off and blame that this album screams against.

Walsh's latest tripe on Beyonce was well expected and equally as yawn-worthy. Like, I can hardly manage to ramp up any outrage because his points are so insipid, banal and cliche. But, we'll try.

"Never mind that “Beyonce” is more a brand than a person. The lady herself is a person, but what’s presented to the world is a carefully constructed and marketed product. It’s a narrative, a story, a walking and talking fantasy novel for girls." -- Matt Walsh

So? So are you, Matt Walsh. Only replace young girls with old white men. No one is riding your ass about it. Perhaps because you are an old white man?

"I find it therefore annoying and confusing when people speak of Beyonce’s alleged genius, but the unwarranted intellectualization of vapid, empty nonsense is not the most troubling aspect of all of the Beyonce adulation in this culture. The most troubling aspect is that her music is called ”empowering.”" -- Matt Walsh

One would think all those three-syllable, literary sounding words would mask the intent of this sentence better than it does. I mean, that's an awful long way to go for WAAAAAHHHHHH.

White people, pay attention. Sometimes art is made that is not for us. We can appreciate it. We can LOVE it. We can feel like it speaks to us. That does not mean it's for us. Sit down.

Beyonce's Lemonade is a goddamn masterpiece that will last beyond the ages because it is a genre- and life-shattering work of art that speaks to generational history, societal systemic oppression and its effects within a personal narrative that spans the experience levels of most damn people, and contextualizes it in a form of media accessible to our pop culture.

Beethoven’s 5th is mere flatulence when stacked against this album. Even God’s most awe-inspiring artistic achievements – Mount Everest, Victoria Falls, the universe itself – all melt away in the blinding light of ”Lemonade.” -- Matt Walsh

Okay, like, you just look foolish here. Beethoven is probably doing fucking cartwheels in the grave over this album because much like Beethoven in his time, it is a musical venture that pushes the boundaries of all that has come before it. It is exactly like Beethoven, in fact. And it is exactly like the universe itself, in that it is a self-correcting mechanism thrown in the spokes of our white wheels to stop this damn train before we hurt ourselves.

Complaining that new music sucks very much makes you the Simpson's grandpa yelling at cloud. Stop it. You look crotchety and it's not a good look. Plus, your words are going to remain in history as the old afraid of the new. Just like we all read in the books growing up.
Walsh cries about these lyrics:

"Here are a few of the “unforgettable” lines they highlighted:

“Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you / Slow down, they don’t love you like I love you.”

“We built sand castles that washed away / I made you cry when I walked away.”

“Nothing else ever seems to hurt like the smile on your face / When it’s only in my memory.”

“I hop up out the bed and get my swag on / I look in the mirror, say, ‘What’s up?’ / What’s up, what’s up, what’s up.”

They're forgettable and washed up to you because they are not for you. It is not what they say, but what they mean to myriads of people. Someone who has been cheated on needs to know that other people also go through an illogical phase of wondering if they are not enough. Those same women want to feel comforted that they are not alone in remembering the good times. That Beyonce is doing the walking in Sandcastles is what is relevant.  And a woman looking at herself in the mirror and saying what's up is absolutely empowering. She is there. She is real. She exists.

The whole album is a scream: I exist.

Unfortunately, in Beyonce’s case, when her lyrics aren’t warmed-over and cliched, they’re vulgar, ugly, manipulative and destructive. Often they’re all five of these things at once. Granted, many pop songs are profane, mind numbing garbage, but considering Beyonce’s status as Pagan Goddess of Secular America, her garbage is all the more toxic. Especially when mixed with racial exploitation. Remember, this is the woman who gave us a militant homage to the Black Panthers at the Super Bowl. -- Matt Walsh

Racial exploitation? I got Bingo. You are so mad right now, though. Stop. If you don't like this visual album, fine. Sit. Down. Beyonce's life, choices, career and art do not need to pass your pearl test.

"For a piece of work hailed as “groundbreaking” and “brilliant,” it’s strange that the title is one of the most overused cliches in the history of cliches." -- Matt Walsh

He didn't watch the visual aspect of this piece, or if he did, he doesn't understand what family can do for cliches. The grandmother's speech in this film, "I was given lemons, but I made lemonade," absolves this cliche. If it needed absolving, which it doesn't.

Lemonade is a tribute to generations of forced silence, a rebellion against the conventional societal bonds that tie women, but especially Black women, to norms that exist solely so that we can watch them drown and then claim it was their fault. It is a masterpiece tribute to love, life, history.

It is a statement demanding the context we have stripped from generations, giving voice and meaning to those with only the raw power of vulnerability and quieted strife and shoulders of silent steel while deafening white America with its veracity and truth. It is opening eyes and shutting white mouths everywhere.

It is revolution. It is everything everyone has ever needed.

And the lyrics are part of that, Matt Walsh. If they do not make you feel empowered, then sit down. This is not for you. And please, have you completely forgotten the Somali poet, Warsan Shire? Of course you have. Her work, quoted in this album, lends it yet another level of brilliance, molding genres and reaching people where it counts. It is a literal lifting up of a voice that needs to be heard. But not by you. Because it's not for you. 

"Leaving aside for the moment the racist undertones and the fact that she dresses like a wealthy stripper, let’s look at what she’s actually saying." --Matt Walsh

Racist undertones? Wealthy stripper? Oh, wait. Actually, I've been wrong this whole time. This album is for you. That is why you are so pressed. Lemonade is for Black women, then Black men, then white women, and then Matt Walsh. Only instead of empowering him, it threatens him.

Matt Walsh is threatened.

Good.


I was able to discern 6 messages your daughter will hear loud and clear while listening to “Lemonade:”

Lesson 1: Use sex as a weapon to possess and to gain revenge.

Lesson 2: Find self-worth in your money and the expensive things you can buy.

Lesson 3: Speak with the grace and femininity of a drunken frat boy, saying things like “suck on my b*lls.”

Lesson 4: Never hesitate to f*** a b***h up.

Lesson 5: Express your empowerment with middle fingers.

Lesson 6: Eat corn bread and collard greens. -- Matt Walsh


My seven-year-old girls and I will take your watered-down, racist, whiny lessons and think on them. And then we'll go right back to listening to the real messages (many of which overlap with this list to be quite honest. I ain't sorry), and let you go back to crying in your soup with Glenn.


And there is so much of Lemonade that is lost on me. Because this is not for me.

This piece by Ijeoma Oluo is a fantastic starting point.

I don't understand the neighborhood scenery in Hold Up other than to know that it is breathtakingly beautiful and real. I miss all of the nuance because this is not for me. I don't understand the parking garage graffiti in Don't Hurt Yourself. Because this is not for me. I don't get the layered meanings of the different traditional dress and makeup. I don't precisely know what the heart-stopping tambourine is representing, nor the meaning of the cheerleaders/dancers in the poetic interlude leading to Don't Hurt Yourself. Why are they on a bus during Sorry?

Why? Because this is not for me, that's why.

On some levels, it very much is for me. But on most levels, I am not qualified to type a damn word about this.

The only thing I truly can say about Lemonade is to white people.

Sit. Down.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Earning Supplemental Income: A DIY Approach to Renting a Spare Room -- Guest post

With the multitude of monthly expenses that we are responsible for, nothing feels better than earning a few extra dollars on the side. I personally love supplemental income and have been working on highlighting the different ways my readers can build a steady source of income leveraging their home as a money generating asset.

While I recently purchased a rental property to build a new ‘landlording’ business, this post is a DIY approach to a fantastic way anyone can generate a stream of income through the renting of a spare room in the home.


Renting out a spare room is perfect for empty nesters, families with larger homes, or even families looking to earn extra income while hanging out with fun people! The ‘Home-Rental’ sites like to advertise how easy it is to attract renters to your home, and I agree to an extent. The rental sites fail to explain all of the work it takes to set up the home for this project.  Without proper preparation for such an endeavor, you may find yourself or your family at risk. Especially if you are planning on sharing your home with strangers, I suggest you take the time to properly list and prepare to the best of your ability.

Source: Guidedco.com

Services for Renting Your Home or Spare Room:

·       Short-term Rental sites such as AirBnB and HomeAway work fantastic for those living in a ‘vacation’ area. Most sites have great insurance policies and allow you to exchange messages with the prospective tenants before agreeing to a rental contract.

·       Long-term rentals can be a little more difficult, but all of the major real estate sites, such as Trulia, Rent.com, and Zillow have some sort of protection for their users. I suggest staying away from Craigslist until you feel very comfortable with the way your rental unit is set up.


·       Alternatively, consider hosting exchange students. Almost all local high schools and universities have exchange programs with foreign institutions. Here is a fantastic resource to read before committing to an exchange program. These programs are a great way to earn a few extra dollars, have your family experience different cultures, and even potentially cultivate life-long friendships. Most programs are also heavily vetted and will provide great insurance policies for the hosting families.  


Cost Effective Landlord Tips:

Regardless of what service you use, I have put together a great DIY list to help prepare for the new renter. Following these tips will not only provide a cost effective way to rent a room, it will also keep everyone safe and cultivate an engaging setting that will culminate in a fantastic rental experience.

1.     Prepare ‘The Space’. Before posting the spare room on any website, work hard to ‘beautify’ the space for both the listing photos and the upcoming renter:
o   Buy soap, towels, laundry detergent, and other supplies in bulk. These amenities look fantastic in photos and can justify a slight increase in rent.
o   Make cleaning easy. Add screens to windows to reduce outside ‘junk’ and purchase easy to use vacuums or brooms that can easily reach under the beds. The less time cleaning in between guests, the more you will prosper from your ‘cleaning fee’.
o   Have a clear theme or ‘look’ to the space. Make sure the furniture matches the decorations; I like to use a throw rug to tie the room together. Sheets and blankets should match the room as well. If you are feeling extra special, you can add new paint to the walls.
o   Use a duvet instead of sheets. A duvet can be easily washed, but a full comforter can get damaged or be expensive to wash. Using a duvet will also result in less laundry and this means less time spent during the ‘cleaning phase’, resulting in more money in your pocket.
o   Set up a space in your kitchen for the guest’s ‘goods’. People like their own spaces and a note in the room description will be an added bonus amenity for your guests.
o   Get coffee in bulk and offer it. This is especially true for short term guests as people love coffee and enjoy that fruitful ‘free stuff’ feeling.

2.     Check Your Renters Out. This is one of the most important steps to take before officially renting the space. Be sure to keep your family safe. There are many services to use, but I personally use this resource from TransUnion as it provides information such as previous evictions that Airbnb or Home Away leave out. To take extra precautions, follow these tips:

o   Ask for references and actually follow-up with them.

o   Lock up expensive belongings in a safe when not at home.

o   Have a lock on all bedroom doors. The privacy of your guest is just as important as your own privacy.

o   Teach your children ‘the rules’ of interacting with strangers. In addition to being a safety precaution, this is a great learning opportunity to teach the difference between ‘friends’ and ‘strangers’ (if they don’t already know). 

3.     Provide Fun Activities. People often rent rooms instead of entire homes because they want interaction while on vacation. Hotels are fun, but they lack interpersonal connections. Your new rental space can be a perfect mixture of fun and privacy! Be sure to offer these activities without pressuring the guests to attend.

o   Offer daily breakfast. I love this perk, but remember to account for the cooking supplies in you rent.

o   If you have more than one room rented out for the long term, offer a potluck dinner once a month. It is always fun to see what people cook up for a shared dinner experience.

o   Create a PDF of local attractions, transportation options, and other pertinent information regarding your neighborhood.

o   Rent out your extra bicycle or car. If you are renting your car, make sure you call your insurance company first!

4.     Review Guests Properly. This is important for the ‘search results’ on the rental website as well as information for future landlords. It is important to ‘pay it forward’ as the phrase goes:

o   Provide accurate in-depth reviews. Don’t just write “My guest was great”. Provide examples of reasons why you enjoyed their presence. If the rental service asks for ways the guest can improve, be honest and avoid rude language.

o   Bad reviews can hurt rental listings! Some services do not offer an ‘explanation’ section if a rental experience goes poorly. I always like to wait until my guest reviews me first and review back accordingly.

o   Offer to become a future reference for your renters. I suggest mentioning this as they give back the keys. It may prompt a great review of your space!


Finally, if renting out rooms is not an option, there is another way to leverage your home. I love the following idea:

1.     Leverage the Backyard into a ‘Community Garden’. 

In my experience, almost everyone loves to garden. However not everyone has the physical space for such a stress reducing activity. After you build a few raised garden beds you can rent them out to aspiring gardeners. Consider these tips to get started:

o   Reach out to local garden communities and post a listing for a private garden space.
o   Supply the dirt, water, and tools for a nominal fee.

o   Keep the price low to start and as you build a reputation the rent can increase.

o   You can even start a website about your new garden community, write articles, gain sponsors, and earn supplemental income this way.

Now you should have all of the tools needed to rent out an extra room in your house and start earning some much deserved supplemental income. If you need help writing a great rental advertisement, check out this resource. I want to give a big shout out to Parentwin for the guest blogging opportunity!



Author Bio: Hank is an aspiring DIY and Home industry blogger. He loves everything about the home and garden and enjoys the smell of fresh cut grass. Check him out on Twitter and see what he is up to next! @homebyhank




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