Keeping Communication Lines Open With Tiffin Talk


photo courtesy of


When it comes to raising children, there is one thing that parents find themselves struggling with most throughout the years. In part because children are constantly developing and changing as they go through the different phases of growing up, but also because parents have a hard time understanding and relating to their children at each level along the way. I’m talking about communication, people.

Throughout the first year of life, parents dedicate a lot of time and energy to encouraging their babies to be vocal. We covet their first incoherent sounds as if the angelic sounding babbles and coos are the Holy Grail of speech- in all of its splendor and glory. Diligently, we strive to turn them into coherent speech, coaxing our little ones to repeat after us as we recite silly little nursery rhymes in a higher octave than usual. When they do, we rejoice and celebrate their accomplishments, in the same manner, we would if they had just won the Nobel Peace Prize or a Golden Globe award.

Then parents spend the next 17 years shushing them, ignoring them, or punishing them for speaking too loudly, out of turn, or with carelessness. We show irritation when their stories go on and on and on without a concrete point. We get annoyed by the endless questions to which we have no good answers. Life becomes chaotic and we no longer take the time to give their voices our full attention. It is a complete contradiction to that first year of life when we hung on every sound our child made with excitement and anticipation.

By the time they head off to school, parents have sent so many mixed signals regarding communication, despite the reassurances that they can tell us anything, at any time, children begin to censor themselves. The lines of communication between parent and child begin to breakdown. Besides… why would kids want to talk to their parents about stuff now that they have friends/classmates who genuinely want to listen to all they have to say?

We can ask them about their day, what they learned, who they played with, and what special activities they participated in until we’re blue in the face, but they have no desire to sit down and spill the beans like they did when they were 3 and never stopped talking. Instead, we get the “Fine.”, “Okay.”, “I don’t know.”, “Why do you want to know?”, and shoulder shrugging grunts in response before they saunter to their rooms to turn on their various techy devices and ask for a snack. It’s easier to pull their teeth out then it is to get them to open up and talk freely about anything that isn’t of special interest to them.


photo courtesy of


Enter Tiffin Talk.

This simple, easy to use, and age-appropriate program gets kids talking to us again. And not about this Youtube video or that new video game or whatever other technology-induced madness they’re wrapped up in these days- which we’re sick of hearing about and part of the reason they believe we lost interest in what they have to say. Tiffin Talk gets our kids to talk about THEM – their personal thoughts and beliefs about various topics which divulge who they are as an individual and their place in this world while they revel in some one on one time with their parents. From this program, both parent and child will be able to better understand one another and relate to each other’s experiences, bringing everyone closer together while re-opening the withering lines of communication.

Sounds impossible, I know. But it works. I tried it with my own brood of hoodlums and was greatly surprised when it was successful in doing just what it says it will do. (post to come soon highlighting our personal experience using Tiffin Talk.)

So what and how does this program work exactly, you ask? It is simply a boxed set of what looks like your average, everyday Thank You cards that are divided into themes and separated by the number of weeks you’ve used the program. For example, our first month of cards were all about “Memories” and they were split into week 1, week 2, week 3, etc, and each week had cards labeled for Monday-Friday, giving you the weekend off.


a sample of what the Tiffin Talk program boxes and question cards look like


There are specific sets for every school-age group from kindergarten-high school so the questions are well-suited for each developmental stage. The older the child, the deeper the topics delve and more thought-provoking the questions are, challenging your child to use their brain without them realizing it. Just one card a day with one big question or a few smaller ones to answer that engages kids in a way our typical parental-need-to-know based questions do not- easy peasy. The best part is, no one will balk over sacrificing the five minutes it takes up. In fact, it may lead y’all to continue talking for even longer because your child WANTS to… and it’s not about the mindless technology hoopla that is pointless to us all!

Either way, those 5 minutes will be more productive and valuably spent by ‘turning the tech off and turning the talk on,’ than any other 5-minute window in which you have your child’s full attention. Guaranteed.

So, as a parent, if you really want to preserve the lines of communication with your child before it’s too late, Tiffin Talk is the way to go. Or the way to begin. Whichever doesn’t matter. The fact is, this is the most ingenious program for parent-child relationships that I have ever stumbled upon. The only one to make me eat my skepticism and want to tell the world about how awesomely wonderful it truly is. What are you waiting for now? Go over to their site now and see it for yourself! Tiffin Talk really does gets kids to turn the tech off and the talk on- with purpose and meaning!


photo courtesy of


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Beginning Motherhood

The first time our eyes met,

My breath held tight,

I wore my heart on my sleeve,

As time took flight.

The evenings ahead were rough,

Daybreak gave no reprieve,

Yet it all felt so magical,

I’d stare at you in utter disbelief.

A creation of my very own,

Innocence ready to mold,

Nothing could’ve ever prepared me,

A fairytale yet untold.

Sleeplessness fueled with pride,

Filling me to the brim,

Squawking cries reverberating,

Soothed by my gentle hymn.

Sour milk breath smelling so sweet,

Nuzzling closer skin to skin,

Wonderment over this tiny miracle

Effervescence illuminating within.

With your arrival, though, time did gain wings,

Passing swiftly with a blink,

Ups and downs, milestones good and bad,

It goes too quick with our lives moving in sync.

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Blogger and Blog: Karen of Baking In A Tornado
Name of Poem: Motherhood
Blogger and Blog: Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Name of Poem: Mother’s Wish
Blogger and Blog: Dawn of Spatulas on Parade
Name of Poem: Motherhood Yo Yo
Blogger and Blog: Sarah of Not That Sarah Michelle
Name of Poem: Mother’s Day Poem: I Love You Mom

A Borderline Kind Of Love

I love you, I hate you,

Please don’t leave me, but could you just go away?

Hold me tight without touching me,

Reach into my soul and heed this clutter in chaotic disarray.

My brain refuses to believe,

My heart is perpetually blinded by denial.

Emotions fight against reason,

Conflictions between the two forever standing trial.

I want you, I need you,

You’re not good enough, but the very best I ever had.

Ask me what’s wrong, shut up already,

Everything is good, I promise, it’s only me that is bad.


I’m up and I’m down,

Barely room to breath as I bounce around in-between.

Everything is so brutally intense,

This borderline is but a nightmare, not a dream.

Why is it this way, why can’t I change?

How are you here still, my crazy hasn’t sent you packing?

You’re the one, my one and only,

Despite the dysfunctional feelings, the connections I’m lacking.

I love you, I hate you,

I’ll never abandon you, but I’ll beg you to do it to me.

Beautifully broken, divinely defective,

In the end, though you feel like home- warm, safe, and free.


Images from


Crumbling Foundations At The Crossroads Of Life


Never have I felt more lost and confused about life before. Everything around me is falling apart and spinning out of control. I’m struggling to breath as the world as I know it crashes down on me like the Twin Towers did on 9/11. Some might say I’m having a midlife crisis of some sort, but I’m barely halfway through my thirties and this isn’t about figuring out who I am rather than how this all went so terribly wrong.

My marriage is faltering, my children have lost their sense of family unity, my mental health is deteriorating, and the foundation for which a happy, comfortable life is built upon has crumbled. Everywhere I look there is nothing but failure and disarray and everywhere I turn, I hit another brick wall square in the face. My soul is battered and bruised and my heart is bleeding on the sleeve I have always worn it with pride. I don’t trust my judgement and my confidence is waning. All I can do is cry, wishing some magical fairy godmother would appear out of thin air and fix it all with a wave of her wand. I’m so tired of fighting.

Having a Borderline Personality diagnosis compounds this mess until it becomes a category 5 hurricane. My emotions are skyrocketing off the charts as they bounce between black and white, never pausing to heed the gray in between. Love and hate, love and hate, love and hate- there is no middle ground to hold steady to anymore. My mind is held hostage with racing thoughts which want to overanalyze everything. Breaking down, filling in the blanks, concluding the worst case scenarios, and piecing the structure back together again over and over until I finally fall asleep at night just to wake up and start it all again. Nothing makes sense and I cannot fathom a reason to justify why anything is the way that it is right now. There’s no good answers to quench my thirst for enlightenment so I can find the path to lead me out of this hell.

I just want it all to stop. I just want my life to be happy and content. I want the security I used to have knowing that I would be all right in the end. But it’s seemingly impossible right now.


What is one to do in a time like this? When the roots they’ve laid down deep are suddenly ripped from the earth and everything you’ve latched onto for support and nourishment is gone? How do gather so many fragments of the universe that keep you whole and force them to stay where they belong? Never have I felt so disconnected and isolated before. Never have I felt so insecure about what the future holds. Everything I’ve ever known, everything I’ve ever wanted out of life, is hanging by a thinning thread over the darkest abyss I’ve encountered thus far. I cannot bear the thought of what would happen if I lost my grip.

Maybe had my foundation been more solid and less hollow to begin with, I wouldn’t be in this place at this moment. But shoulda, coulda, woulda’s don’t do anything but waste more of the strength and energy I’m already severely lacking. I need a plan of action. One that doesn’t catapult me face first into steel-enforced concrete barriers that keep me trapped where I am. I need a way to save my life from complete and utter destruction. I need a break from this test of my fortitude and the impact my mental illness has over everything I have ever loved unconditionally without reservation.

I know that everything happens for a reason and very few things last forever. That it’s not my choice how life plays out, though everything I do affects the outcome. If only I had some clarity. Or a crystal ball to show me this isn’t the beginning of the end, as I fear it is, and I’ll wake up one day to feel the sun shining brightly upon my face once more. Miracles don’t really happen to people like me, however. My fate is cursed, after all. Cursed to live with the misery of abandonment, instability, and betrayal; the basic recipe needed to elicit my mental illness in the first place.

Maybe my black and white emotions have simply hijacked this crossroads I’m at and acted as a catalyst to make the state of my affairs worse than need be. But I don’t think so. I think they are just the end result of the pieces of my life shattering as they came down on me on their own. Either way, I’m left to commiserate all alone in this void while trusting the universe to navigate me back to where I belong. I just really hope it doesn’t kill me in the process.



Divinely Consecrated Windows

It has always been easy for me to look into the windows of other people’s souls,

See the truths they all hide behind, underneath superficial layers of primped and sculpted flesh.  

The real, the raw, the crux of their essence, and all of which that drives them to be,

My gaze bores past their selected reflections, my senses heighten as our eyes rapidly enmesh.


A gifted curse, a cursed blessing; a hellish burden and divine consecration in one,

This empathic sight ostracizes me, like a lonely wallflower slinking into a mooncast shadow.

Detecting fakes with ease just as the Queen can an ugly faux fur, it is hard to play me the fool,

Their performance is so transparent, yet I am amused to witness these egos basking in the afterglow.


A bedtime story recited by heart, reading as though the words were printed on their skin,

Secrets of shame, tears laden with guilt, wounds still bloody and bruised, and wickedly burning desires.

People never are as they appear to be, just carefully condensed versions influenced by societal powers,

Trimmed and pruned to fit within the times, Patriarchy sets ablaze to these internalized wildfires.


Connections are brutal to forge, cast away by the discomforts of these unintentionally prying eyes,

Sanctioned by my soul to live this hell, punished for knowing more than they know about themselves.

Try as I might, I cannot flip a switch, turn off this hindsight of vision devouring galvanized fortress walls

A magic mirror reflecting their covert traits cloaked in smoke, best left untapped, rotting away on dusty shelves.


But then you came along, shattering my steely solitude and testing my conjurable craft,

An aberration never encountered before, whose black eyes held mum with unexpected immunity.

Shaken to my jaded core in wonderment, a reprieve from such an isolating mental plague,

Blinded by joy to my own fragile vulnerabilities, relishing the deviancy- carelessly unaware of my lacking impunity.


Without foresight to envision what was there lurking, without a soul to whisper your secrets,

I had no way to know, no way to prepare, missing the red flags warning of the danger you imposed.

Caught in the tornado of your game instantly, swirling whirlwinds concealing a love untrue,

Never withstanding a chance, you’re the epitome of everything in life I ever stood up for and opposed.


The isolation I had felt no longer existed to me, the dejectional ache welcomed after knowing you,

Cursed as it may be, intuition had protected me from falling victim like prey to self-serving ulterior motives.

Unable to read you, I must shamefully admit that I’ve been forsaken by my own hand,

Letting you in was my biggest mistake, regretfully seeking to quiet those steadily streaming of emotives.


A lesson learned, I suppose, to run from those with windowless souls, for they are not in hiding,

There is no mask, no pretending to fit in, no fakeness about the evil seeping from somewhere inside.

You were never my saving grace, never meant to rescue me from the hell of my own creation,

This burden of divine consecration was fated to be my armor, with purpose as strong as the changing tide.



Awakening With Spring- UYW April

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

Mint ~ Shamrock ~ Tulips ~ Showers ~ Flowers

They were submitted by:


The ides of March have finally passed, taking with it the remaining signs of winter. No more peppermint-flavored items littering the grocery store shelves. No more gray, dreary, bitter cold days. No more early sunsets. Christmas and New Years have long since been forgotten and the lingering shamrock decor of St. Patrick’s Day fade away with the hangovers gifted to those who sipped on green ale all day long.

April has brought with it the beginning of Spring and the awakening of nature after a long Winter’s rest.

This time of year is magical for most. Myself included. Everything comes to life with a renewed sense of purpose. A new hope emerges from the wreckage left by raging snowstorms and bone-chilling, bustling winds which whipped the earth raw. It seems like everything deemed impossible in the doom and gloom of Winter all of a sudden becomes possible under the warmth of the bright sun shining once more. Our trials and tribulations don’t seem as daunting to conquer now that they can be seen clearly in the sunlight. Everywhere you look, there is action happening and movement going on, filling the air with the sounds of life once more.

Unfortunately, though, all this rebirthing and refreshing needs fueling up to sustain itself. Thus the childhood rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers“, was born. And when it rains, it pours. It’s a wonder that the early blooming tulips and croquses can survive the violent storms which wash away the damage Winter left behind.

That’s what inspires me most about this time of year- not only did these bulbs manage to stay alive in the bitter cold, frozen ground which would take out any human exposed to the same elements for more than a handful of hours, once sprouted, their delicate and tender buds can endure torrential downpours of rain to absorb the nutrients necessary for them to bloom with wonder and splendor. That takes sheer willpower and inner-strength which rivals that of any human’s and leaves me in awe of these magnifiscent little plants.

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. It forces me to stop and smell the roses. To let go of the darkness which consumes my mind while hinernating indoors all Winter long. To take the time to admire the circle of life and the glory of nature. It is my signal to come out of my self-imposed cocoon and embrace the newly awakened world around me once again.

And after the extra depressing Winter we just had, Spring couldn’t be any more welcomed this time around. I’m more than ready to get on with the show and live life fully again.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

On the Border 

Bookworm in the Kitchen 

The Bergham Chronicles 

Simply Shannon 

Southern Belle Charm 


Not That Sarah Michelle 

World Wide Nope, Not For Me

Your “Secret Subject” is:

What is your favorite website and why?

It was submitted by:


Oh, sweet geezus. Is this a trick question or some shit? It’s definitely a fully loaded one. The majority of my tribe of friends these days are from the internet. And most of them have websites. A prime example of such is this challenge I am doing right now as I write this. We are a group of bloggers who have come together as friends over the course of time- developing relationships with one another in our Top-Secret Forum where we plan the shenanigans that go down every month which we hope will lead us towards world domination one day. No, but really. How am I supposed to pick a favorite amongst all the people I love? People who have very unique talents and offerings as bloggers, none of them like the other. I can’t.

No, but really. How am I supposed to pick a favorite amongst all the people I love? People who have very unique talents and offerings as bloggers, none of them like the other. I can’t. I have too much love and respect for all my fellow blogger friends to try to rank their websites just to pick a favorite.

I could just run the risk of coming across as a bit narcissistic and tell y’all that my own blog website is my favorite website. That I’m so self-centered that I believe no one out there does this writing gig as good as I do it. But that would be the biggest lie. I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to blogging. Or writing. I’m just winging it as I go – hence the whole being hosted on this WordPress site still, because I am absolutely clueless about technology and have not the slightest inkling of how to build, let alone manage, a self-hosted website of my own.

Which brings me to the real, honest to goodness answer for this blog challenge prompt.

I don’t have a favorite website. Even when we break away from the whole writing/blogging/reading theme and take the whole world wide web into consideration. I was born in the wrong era of time. If it weren’t for the fact that I can revel in the accomplishment I feel when more than a handful of my closest friends and relatives read the words I write without my constant insistence as I shove my finished pieces into their faces putting them at grave risk for taking out an eyeball with the corner of my laptop screen, I wouldn’t be online much.

Hell, I only jumped into the land of Facebook because it was an easy way to share my writing with the world. Everyone I know had already been sucked into the wormhole for years and years. But I take pride in the fact that I’m always late to the party and late I most certainly was.

Technology just irks me. While it has many benefits for continuing the evolution of human beings into a more effortless, comfortable way of life while maximizing our body and mind’s potential to eradicate the diseases and plights which threaten our population, I am content living without its presence in my daily life. I go days, sometimes even weeks, without touching my computer. I only use my phone to scroll through facebook, take photos, and play a couple of games to exercise my brain. I very rarely Google anything. If I need to know something, I’d much rather pick up and Encyclopedia Brittanica or Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus to seek answers for whatever tidbit of knowledge I am in need of at that moment.


My internet history is so boring and dull, even my five-year-old has a better chance of making it onto Homeland Security’s watch list for potential terrorist risk. Seriously. Compare mine against my tweenager’s and my yearly activity is about the same length as his IN A WEEK. I avoid the internet and its treasure trove of websites like The Plague resides within it. To be fair, though, it kind of does. Just look at all the craziness that comes from this one-stop shop for socialization without face to face, in-person interactions.

It all goes beyond my comprehension. Put me back in the late 1980’s with stacks of notebooks, boxes of ball point pens, and a typewriter and I’ll forever be in my glory. No internet required- just the way I like it. My favorite website is no website at all.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

The Bergham Chronicles

Bookworm in the Kitchen 

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Simply Shannon 

Southern Belle Charm 

Not That Sarah Michelle  

A Little Piece of Peace


When I Grow Up 

Failing Success – UYW March

In between birth and death, every human is tasked with making choices which will directly affect their future. However, we aren’t born with the maturity or wisdom necessary to choose right and guarantee a stable, secure, and comfortable life as an adult. We are given parents to teach and guide us until we are competent on our own. But… not everyone is so fortunate to be born into a family with both parents present, let alone have them be capable of providing the nurturing and support a child needs to tame the wild oats they love so much to sow. This can make a difference in the kind of life one will come to have as an adult.

Sometimes, it’s not even about the parents. Sometimes the child is just too adventurous and independent to be tamed by anyone other than himself. Either way, not everyone has the early foundation put in place to ensure they are prosperous in what they do. Sometimes their fixations with living on the edge will lead them down dangerous or unorthodox roads. When realized sooner, rather than later, it’s much easier to jump back on track and rebuild again. Eventually, though, time catches up with us, as it always does, and the hope for an easy, comfortable life is lost on them forever.


When one has to learn the hard way about everything, there’s undoubtedly a price to be paid. No amount of begging the universe, praying to a higher power, or wishing on a lucky star will change one’s fate – every choice, every decision, every action that is taken – leads us to where we are. People like to turn a blind eye while promising that it’s never too late, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Take my husband, for example. He was a mischievous little rebel who partied way too hard throughout his teens and twenties. This led to him spending the majority of his thirties battling various addictions, as he only managed to escape one by substituting it with another. From alcohol to prescription pills, excessive exercising/body image obsession to gambling, this man has experienced more layers of Hell in his mind then I even knew existed. He ended up with a pretty decent rap sheet on file with law enforcement, labeling him as a three-time felon, by the end of his wild oat sowing run.

There’s no taking any of it back. He would sell his soul to be able to, believe me, but he can’t. There is nothing more he can do but accept what is because of what was and make the most out of the situation he is in. Life is anything but easy or comfortable. Financial stability, not even security, is a merely a fantasy which will never come to fruition. Job options and opportunities are extremely limited for those like him, for the system was not designed to give anyone a second chance, let alone the benefit of doubt for their change of ways. Our justice system may have been founded on the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but society runs on the opposite line where people are always guilty until they prove, but, also, demonstrate and rescind their innocence for eternity to come. They call this, Democracy. I call this, bullshit.


No wonder mental health issues are on the rise. No wonder so many people are angry, cynical, and jaded. No wonder poverty is a cycle that sucks in generation after generation after generation of families. There is no wiggle room in the equation necessary to have the stereotypical successful life we are taught to covet through constant subliminal messaging about materialism and image projection. While there’s always an example of an exception to be found, those are merely an aberration formed in the alignment of perfect circumstances which rarely develop for the majority of folks. A stroke of sheer luck, to sound cliche if you will.

As it is, society’s definition of a successful life reads like Darwin’s theory on Survival Of The Fittest and Asch’s Social Conformity experiments merged while a blind eye was turned to the history of humanity which proves, time and time again, how oppressive this structure is for all but a select few.

I will never understand how such a superior animal species became so entirely self-serving and greed-driven. So neglectful and uncompassionate towards the well-being and comfort of their fellow citizens. Why there is only one respected avenue for success for which we judge all others by? To me, it seems, humans are not worthy of the superiority label they have claimed, for our standards of living are more barbaric and inclusive than any other species I have studied during my years of education.


Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

late ~ job ~ fixation ~ star ~ make a difference

They were submitted by:

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado 

Spatulas on Parade  

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

On the Border 

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 

The Bergham Chronicles 

Simply Shannon   

Confessions of a part time working mom 

Southern Belle Charm 


Not That Sarah Michelle