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Displaying items by tag: talking

Saturday, 31 December 2016 20:40


holiday sandwich TT style 2016 1231

For many around the world - but certainly not all – the month of December has turned into this chaotic time warp. And time, as we once knew it, has turned into “Apple time” – you know when the time for installation and upgrades alternates (versus counts down) from 75 seconds to 43 days to 27 minutes and so on and then . . . TA DA! Done! What the hell? Who counts like that? And how did the holiday time become some sort of “iTime”?

The rush into the holiday season has turned into a crush of the holiday season. Every place is more crowded. Every person moves faster. (And if they aren’t, they should be!) Every decoration is bigger, more glamorous (or more gaudy). Every thing is wanted, not needed; and every thing that is needed is unaffordable. Exceptions are made that should never be made but are made anyway. Just this once . . . or maybe, twice . . . It becomes harder to breathe, much less be happy, jolly, merry or whatever the season calls for.

Families that should never visit for more than a few minutes arrive for the day or sometimes several such that it rolls into another unit of time, commonly referred to as “a week”. Relatives say exactly what you wish you couldn’t hear but expected to hear and it still irks you anyway. Sometimes they don’t say anything but somehow you know – you just know, dammit – that they are thinking it and probably saying it to each other when you’re not within earshot! And that irks you as well. And you walk around irked – which by the way is a really cool word and you may borrow it or just have it. (I won’t be irked, but I’ll need that word back in a little while. You’ll have to share it.)

Friends who should visit can’t because their own families are visiting and they are dealing with their own festivities, aka holiday madness. They are calling you instead of visiting. They are ranting about all the things that their relatives are saying (or not saying) that are irking them.

Are we having fun yet? Who knew a single short season could be so irkful? Irkulous? (And yes, I’m riffin’ now.)

 But we hare having fun. Because, thank goodness, there is the wonder of small children with their eyes still sparkling, reflecting the lights of whatever holiday you observe. If we do a good job, we hide the chaos from them. We hide the worries. We hide the financial-what-have-we-just-done panic. We hide the work projects that demand our attention because their deadlines, of course, are at the end of the month. We hide how we feel about our favorite relatives because they are (mostly) favorite, just not necessarily right now. In general, we actually just hide from our children. It’s safer that way. Let them enjoy the season on their own. Let them ooh and ahh.

And then, unless Hannukah goes even later, the chaos screeches to a halt and stops. Or so we believe.

If you celebrate Kwanzaa, this is your week to celebrate – possibly with some of the issues noted above.

But, many of us have the hanging week. The dangling week. The week that is sandwiched between Christmas (and sometimes Hannukah) and numerous other holidays that are celebrated in countries around the world at this time . . . and . . . New Years which is celebrated by everyone around the world at this exact time.

For parents, our kids have no school and this is our week not just to return and exchange gifts in long lines in stores and post offices; not just to visit family (see above); not just to clean up the decorations and find places for all the gifts; but to spend quality time with tots to teens.

Quality time. Together. Family. Our own family.

In the age of technology – of movies that no one has to agree upon because we can all watch separately on our separate devices, where board games have become boring because tech has re-engineered our brains for constant color, faster pace, and more to do, to score, to level up, to win – this concept of family time is hugely challenging.

So we spend the week trying to avoid the guilt of demanding our kids be with us or subtly avoiding our kids all together. We send them to play with their new toys. We make play dates with friends. We continue the visits with relatives who are still here and we try to coax our kids out of their rooms to visit and take the pressure off our own visiting which then, of course, increases the pressure.

And then when school starts again, when work requires that we return, we go back to our regularly scheduled programming of runaway moments and lost opportunities to make real connections. We are often a lot more weary and are scratching our heads at all the ideas for what we could have done for fun but never did.

Why didn’t we?

News Flash:
You can still do it.

You can still find 2 board games and play for 15 minutes each. (Don’t demand hours. Ask for 15 minutes per game. A good game will last longer by default and no one will want to leave. After 15 minutes, anyone can choose to sit out and wait for the next game. But add a rule: no tech while waiting. Watch. Read a book. Hang out. Pretend there is no wifi. Deal with the panic of 15-30 minutes of no pings, rings, or dings.)

You can still agree on a movie by agreeing on several movies. Everyone picks 2 and each then narrows it down by agreeing on 1 of each person’s choices. Then schedule movie moments (afternoons or evenings) that can only be rescheduled in dire emergencies. Dire. Make snacks. Divert all other tech. (For the purposes of this exercise, microwave popcorn does not qualify as a “high tech” item.)

You can still toss everyone into the car and head to a museum – everyone chooses their fave (art, science, history, zoo,  . . . ). The key? Set a timer for an hour. Big family? One museum every two weeks. Everyone goes. One hour. If, after an hour, people want to stay, only by unanimous agreement (teens included), you can choose to agree to another 30 minutes. After that, time is up – else you risk sudden meltdown and mutiny. Much better to leave with everyone (or most everyone) wanting to come back.

You can still toss everyone back into the car and head to a park, playground, hiking/skiing trail – again, everyone chooses a favorite. If you have mixed ages, get creative about what people are allowed to bring along. But leave the tech off. In fact, bring tech only if you have a crew likely to split up on trails; then tech is safety (unless, of course, the preferred tech requires an extension cord). Whether your weather is snow and cold or warm and summer, get the heck out there. Take a walk. Together. Even the grumpy kids will walk, particularly if they have a target in space or time. Maybe they’ll go faster, maybe slower – but make an effort to occasionally go their speed; talking is optional with grumps but walking together is not.


The holiday sandwich is not always likeable. It’s not always easy. It doesn’t always have the right ingredients so that everyone can enjoy.

Sometimes, in the chaos of “iTime” we need our routines to appreciate unscheduled time.

If you are a believer in “2016 Sucked”, then you are in luck. 2017 has arrived just in time. And the best way to make 2017 even better is to talk, spend time with your kids. You may not be able to change the world but you can alter your small part of it.

Resolve: A little less tech. A little more talk. A little more time.

Then go find something to do. Together.

blog sandwich week 2016 1231 m

Monday, 19 December 2016 17:59

The original start of this post:

Not only have we relaunched our website (Again? Yes!! AGAIN!) but we are also in the news and on the road at shows
and festivals and conferences and giving talks and being featured in blogs and online holiday gift guides and . . . and . . . and . . . 

But it just got better.

 tiffintalk in the news 2016 1219

Today, Monday, December 19, we were featured on the front page of the business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. (also here at philly.com)

How's that for exciting news? Go there – but come back here because there's more. Much more.

It’s all very exciting and one run-on sentence is just not going to do it. Here it is in brief:

Website relaunch:

  • Biggest and “bestest” addition: Look for our new videos! (If you missed the 'placeholder' cat & dog videos, they will be on the website under the "More" menu item, and they're also on the TiffinTalk YouTube channel.)
  • Better visuals: Along with clear explanations of each product line, you’ll find excellent slides (that you can control) so you can see each product and truly know all about it – words for those of you who are readers; pictures for those of you who can’t help but “judge the book by its cover” – no matter what your teachers warned you!
  • Testimonials: Yeah, people love us. And they tell us. And we tell you. So that you’ll try us and love us, too. It's really all one big happy circle of love. (Enjoy it before some new politician makes it illegal.)
  • Easier store experience: TiffinTalk offers 3 products lines, each with multiple options. And there are more coming. It’s not meant to confuse you and we hope we’ve laid it out for you in a simple way. But let’s face it: tech can only explain us to a point! If you reach “the point” and need more, CALL us. After all, we are all about talk and we’d love to talk with you. (1-610 299 1107 – Yup we put it right here. We want you to call.)
  • Better navigation: You’ll find it easier to get around. Period. Boring. But important.


  • Concordia University: Author Erin Jay Flynn featured TiffinTalk in the university’s Literary Resources guide. The article, Card Kits Get Kids Talking and Learning to Think for Themselves, is thorough, readable, and thoroughly readable. You’ll be surprised when you realize you’ve just read every word. She’s that good an author!!
  • We’ve been featured by Motherchic, a blog written by a former-elementary-school-teacher-now-full-time-mom-of-4-boys. She features fashion with a passion and still covers the latest and greatest . . . like TiffinTalk!
  • We will soon be featured in As a Child Grows and have several other Philly mom bloggers setting up calls to talk about TiffinTalk.
  • We’ve been in local online news, Pivot.Today (and that was during our pre-professional video days!) and Media Patch and are thrilled to be covered in our backyard as we make our way into ever larger media sites. (There’s a hint in there… we’ll keep you posted!)

Holiday Gift Guides: Look for us at TiffinTalk in our own store. And since you are reading this, enjoy a 20% discount with our own New Year’s Resolution gift code: techlesstalkmore2017. (Oh, just cut and paste it! We’ll honor it through the end of January 2017 but buy now.) But you can also find us at:

  • Philly Baby Bump - A very cool site for expectant moms in the area. (Yes, we don't quite make cards for infants but lots of babies have siblings who are desperate for talk time all their own . . . )
  • Macaroni Kid – We'll soon be featured in their regional versions for Media, West Chester, Main Line and Montgomery! They focus on the to-do’s across the country with local sites that feature our local areas and local sellers and artists. 
  • And like the infamous Ginsu knives . . .  That’s not all! We’ve got more surprises in (online) store(s) coming soon to a computer near you!

On the road! We’ve had a busy summer with local festivals almost every weekend from June through the end of September. And we’ve also been at:

  • The Philly Baby & Family Expo
  • TACA’s (Talk About Curing Autism) Fall Festival
  • PAGE (Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Educators) Conference
  • PSCA (Pennsylvania School Counselors Association) Conference
  • … and 2017 has us at a major conference in DC with keynote speaker Brené Brown at the PsychNetworker and at a Boston expo for the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children)
  • Plus – did I mention the speaking engagements?! Book now for a talk on the Power of Talk. I speak to groups of all sizes and all ages and tailor the topic toward parents, educators, and/or seniors. Honestly, don’t we all need to talk – now more than ever?! I will never ever claim to be the Talk Expert, but I am the Talk Advocate and I can speak to that and more.

Grandparents . . .  they are asking. Schools . . . they are asking. Counseling Centers . . . they are asking. Inpatient and Outpatient Facilities . . . they are asking (impatiently, I may add). Distributors . . .  they are asking. Non-profit educational groups . . . they are asking. And we are talking and meeting and meeting and talking.

And we’d love to talk to you. And all the people you know.

Spread the word.

New day. New year. New plan: Tech less. Talk more!


Thursday, 11 May 2017 16:44

 blog 20160809 mother knows best 38567939 m v2


I’m old enough to be a mom and blessed enough to still have my own mom close by.

Here’s how being a mom and having a mom works: My teens don’t listen to their mom (me) and I, in turn, don’t listen to my mom.

It’s not intentional. It’s a mom thing. It’s a kid thing.

The truth of it is: Moms do know best. They are brilliant. They have experience. And they know (and try to accept) that their children actually do hear them even if they are not listening in the moment.

Or maybe children are listening but trying to reply patiently – or impatiently – about why whatever it is that their mom is suggesting won’t work or is utterly ridiculous. Because, as kids know, clearly mothers just don’t get it. (No matter what "it" is.)

How many times have children said (preferably silently): “Duh, Mom”? And meant every single syllable?


Funny thing about mothering advice . . . most times it must simmer, be stirred and mulled, often for days, or weeks, and even occasionally for years. Most times, the child / young adult / grown child then realizes “Mom was right.”

This is almost always followed by a loud but silent “DAMMIT”.


In my more morbid moments, I panic over the thought of losing my mother.

Who will explain neutral shoes to me – yet again? Who will know how to get the stain out? Who will hang the picture, paint the wall, decorate? (Those abilities were passed down to my sisters, not to me. Thanks, Mom. Thanks a lot.) Who will convince me that I'm sick and should stay home; or that I'm not dying but should get to a doctor (with an implied "just in case")?

There are so many “hows” and “whys” that only she knows. The internet doesn’t exist for most ‘mom questions’ and it definitely doesn’t exist for mom support. And even if it did, I wouldn’t want it to anyway. There is no way I can call the internet in the middle of the day and start crying about the most critical (or inane) thing that has just overwhelmed me. One thing is for sure: the internet is no substitute for a mom. Not my mom. Not any mom.

My mom loves me unconditionally – as witnessed by all the advice she continues to give me knowing it will take me a long time – not just to understand it and agree with her – but also a long (much longer) time to appreciate her wisdom and then to thank her. (Sometimes, I wonder whether she lives for that long-delayed gratification. I know I do with my girls.)


And in my even more morbid moments, I ponder over my girls losing me.

Who will see them through the good, the bad, and the occasionally ugly? Who will they go to for advice that they won’t listen to but realize later how spot on it is? Will their other mamas (my closest friends) still be here to guide them? Will they learn to trust their own inner wisdom by then? Will they lean on each other as sisters and pseudo mothers? Because – and they don’t know this yet – they have each mothered the other throughout these years with such love and kindness. How else could we have survived in this family if we haven't all been mothering one another?


But, now is decidedly not a morbid moment. Now, I am grateful for my mom.

And for my daughters who taught me how to better appreciate their grandmama. I learned this by realizing that they were not listening to me just as I understood I was doing the same with my mom. Good grief! I chuckle now with this revelation.

So, I mentioned this to my mother. She chuckled. She already knew. Wise mother that she is.




201705 mothers day 02

( I knew you wouldn't approve of any of the many, but way too few pictures we have of you, Mom.
This then made me realize that I've inherited that self-critical photo gene which I've passed down to my daughters.
Thus, this is the best non-picture of not-us I could find.)

flowers for mothers day medium IMG 5901

Tulips for you, Mom... your favorite. And the cat won't eat these. Plus your granddaugther took this picture in Copenhagen last month...
Love, Kat

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