Guest Post: Shannon Webb

It wasn’t long ago that I looked in the mirror and saw a young carefree 20-something with nearly flawless skin staring back at me. But as with most things in life, that too is slowly changing.

Nowadays, the mirror is not quite as kind as it once was.

The beginning signs of aging are knocking on my door and, like pesky uninvited out-of-town guests, continue to make themselves at home despite my protests.

It takes more time for me to get ready even though I have less of it to spare, and concealer has become a makeup must. I no longer go hunting for bargains, but rather gray hairs. My former stick-straight hair that once wouldn’t hold a curl, is now an unmanageable wavy mess due to ever fluctuating hormone levels, à la last year’s pregnancy. I’d be lost without my tweezers, since hair now grows from places I never even knew it could. Freckles continue to multiply thanks to years of sun worshiping poolside and under eye circles persist no matter how much sleep I manage to get.

And they say that age is just a state of mind.

Well, so is insanity and there are days when despite being only 30, I feel 80 and about as crazy as a table flipping New Jersey housewife.

So what’s a girl to do?

Since drawing the curtains, wearing pajamas all day, and never leaving the house isn’t really an option, I’m left with little choice but to change my self-perception and learn to accept the woman I’m becoming.

No longer will I waste time obsessing about those newly discovered lines in the corner of my eyes. Instead I’ll remember how they came to be, those days of laughing so hard my eyes narrowed and filled with happy tears. When I see a new wrinkle around my mouth, I’ll think about the countless times my family has made me smile. Oh, and my forehead wrinkles? Well, those obviously stemmed from my wonderfully poignant thoughts and all the years of helpful advice I’ve shared, of course! But I’m quite sure that all the worrying over my eventually teenage daughter won’t help much either!

And though the thought of some day resembling the Old Witch from Snow White makes me shudder, I will try my best to grow old gracefully and learn to embrace each new year along with the changes it brings.

Life, by design, is imperfect. And, growing old sure does beat the alternative.

What’s your reflection saying about you?

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Anonymous

My bio:

I am an early 30-something and former teacher, turned stay-at-home mom to one precocious, yet indescribably adorable, toddler. My husband and I have been married for almost eight years and despite both being native Floridians, life had other plans for us and brought us to the Heart of Dixie, Sweet Home Alabama, several years ago. My days are spent trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in our lives, while chasing my daughter around the house and through piles of dirty laundry. I am a Southerner without the accent, a lover of all things for the home, an over user of the word y’all, a believer in God and that Faith will get you through most anything, and a gal just trying to be the best momma, wife, daughter, and friend I can be.  I began blogging just over a year ago as a way for those close to us to keep up with the changes in our lives and our growing family. Although I never would’ve thought that my blog would evolve into what it is today, a way to connect with hundreds of wonderful people, I couldn’t be more delighted. And in closing, I extend a warm Southern hello, and welcome y’all to join me for a little of this and a lot of that over at my blog, Webbisodes.

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Guest Post: Battlefields

by Bailey Flores

One night in the quiet moments after the jammies were put on, diapers were changed, and our little guy was tucked softly in bed I started thinking about what it’s going to be like during the teen years. I know, I know. Most of us are still trying to get through the teething stage, who wants to think about the puberty stage? But I couldn’t  help it. I started thinking about what values I wanted to teach my kids. What I wanted to tell them about being an individual, a unique and confident individual. And then, I started thinking about my own teen years. What would I want to tell that little 7th grader? It turns out, I had so much I wanted to tell her.

* I would tell her that bullies exist. There may be mean girls (or guys) that banish you from lunch tables, prank call you in the middle of the night, and darn right make your life miserable. But don’t worry about them. Stand taller, be proud, and know that in just a few years you will have friends that stand closer than sisters. (Years later you will find these bullies online. You’ll have the last laugh- promise.)

*I would tell her it’s ok that the boys don’t come around. In a few short years you will be walking down the aisle to meet your soul mate. It’s better than you can possibly imagine. Just hold on. (13 year old boys smell bad anyway.)

* I’d definitely let her know Green Day is still cool.

*Lastly, I would tell her I am proud of her. Proud of her for saying no to that cigarette that one time. Proud of her for writing in her journal when there was no one to talk to. Proud of her for going to church…and not because she had to. Proud she never let any of those mean girls see her cry and proud she never tried to get those boys to like her more. Looking back, she was a pretty cool kid. I’m just sorry she didn’t realize it at the time.

The teen years can be rough. For some (like me) it was jr. high, for others it was high school. You literally feel like you’re walking through a battlefield each day. “Rough” is an uderstatement. Our children may have those hard times. What are we going to tell them? What do we want them to know? I want them to know the same things I would want myself to know at that age; don’t worry, hold on, and be your own unique, awesome self. This needs to start earlier than the first day of 7th grade. We need to be praising our children and letting them know NOW how special they are, how unique they are. If they want to wear two different colored socks- tell them to go for it! They are powerful, strong, beautiful kids. It’s up to US to make sure they see it everyday. Let’s arm our kids with all of the love and support they need for when they have to go through their own battlefields.

So, Xavier- be YOU. Stand tall and stand proud. Rock it out, son. Rock it out.


Bailey Flores is mom to 9 month old Xavier Christian and wife to US Marine, Adam Flores. They have lived all over the United States and currently call Vermont home. Bailey has her Bachelor of Science degree in Dance from Texas State University. She currently teaches children of all ages the art of dance, while instilling the importance of confidence and self expression.  In her spare time, Bailey enjoys sharing all of her adventures about being a first time mom on her blog- The Flores Garden at

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Guest Post: The Snowflake Perspective

The Snowflake Perspective
By Michele Zink Harris

I remember winter days growing up in Lincoln Nebraska when I would grab the black construction paper and dart outside at the first sign of a snowflake. Poised and still, I would catch these tiny crystal masterpieces from the sky.

They say no two snowflakes are exactly alike. As I stared more closely at the unique and complex structures against the black paper background, the question, “Why?” came to the mind of even a young child. Why would precipitation falling from a dreary gray sky be so exquisitely beautiful? As a child, I saw no point to this other than my own entertainment. As an adult, I see no point to it other than my Creator wants me to stop and wonder.

Only moments after relishing in the snowflake’s individuality and diversity do I witness it melt into an indistinguishable tiny puddle. The snowflake’s identity is simply two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bound together in molecules and spun into an intricate frozen fabric.

“This is all I am,” says the snowflake. “All of my fascinating individuality and extraordinary design is made of the same stuff as every other snowflake.”

Our beauty, like the snowflake, lies in our delicate diversity. We must remember our diversity is unimaginably delicate. The human genome is 99.99% the same. At the level of our genetics, the differences we see in the human race lie in the expression of 0.01% of our genes. We are 99.99% exactly the same.

I believe God’s dream is a planet which reaches out for the humility and eternal perspective of the snowflake. As we peer over the horizon of a new decade, I believe if we are not feeding this hope we are starving our children’s future. Out of the dreary and dark skies of violence, oppression, and fear, we can experience a world of hearts that actively celebrate the beauty of their diversity and consciously embrace their overwhelming unity. Here’s to a snowflake perspective.

Michele is a practicing physical therapist, adjunct professor, and mother of three boys living in Austin, Texas. Her first children’s book, “God’s Spirit in the Heart of Every Child,” is available on Amazon, and her second, “The Plain Little Yellow Pencil – Leading by Placing Yourself Below,” is scheduled for release spring 2011. Michele’s blog and children’s book can be found at

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Guest Post: Backyard Escapades

Backyard Escapades
by Becky Miller

Bright sunbeams warm fair skin
Melting ice cream dribbles down sticky chins
Soft breeze flutters, cooling the day
Hop, skip, jump; trio merrily plays

 London Bridges Falling Down, Red Light Green Light, Tug of War
Vigorous energy; no chance to be bored
Red Rover, Red Rover, Kick the Can,
Simon Says, “Fly like Peter Pan”

 Frolicking together delightful giggles rise
Dancing, merging to kiss the sky
With childish abandon they swing, slide, squeal
Enchanted smiles burst forth, elation revealed

 Sun dips down below the sky
Farewell fun day, wave good-bye
Kisses, hugs, night time prayers
Contented trio scampers upstairs

Sleepy silence, backyard still
Moonbeams splash on window sill
Innocent childhood, untainted, carefree
Sweetly slumber cherished three



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Order Forms

The holidays are coming and what better gift to give to loved ones than this wonderful volume of stories that is benefiting children’s charities.  Download the order form below to mail in your order or click the link to the left of the screen to order online. 

Order Form From the Heart

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Guest Post of the Day: Blessings

By Denise Ullem

My life blessed me with a best friend.

In the moments of clarity, when I stop and savor the amazing contributions and guidance she delivers—loyally and consistently—I am moved to tears.

This morning provided one of those idyllic times. One of my favorite authors, Katrina Kenison, wrote an incredibly moving homage to a dear friend of hers that recently passed. Katrina wrote,

I have no words yet for what I feel, for where I’ve been, for the sadness, the loss, the hole that is left in the place where just a few short days ago a vibrant heart still beat.  

As I sat reading, ensconced in her lyric prose, I cried. Tears of sadness for Katrina’s loss and her profound grief. Tears of joy for the richer life she enjoyed because of her friend’s presence in it. And tears of recognition, grace and gratitude that my life blessed me with a best friend, one whose absence would leave an abyss of emptiness. And I decided that I needed to pay homage to my best friend—right now—on an ordinary Tuesday.

So I called Meg. Through tears, I blurted out, “I love you so much”. Words spilled out over words, emotion tumbled over the phone wire. And I told her.

How rich my life is for her presence in it.

How I cannot imagine my life without her in it.

Now I sit and reflect on the power of our friendship, I recall so many shining gifts. A blustery walk on the shores of Lake Michigan, nearly 15 years ago, her whole self immersed in finding a solution to my problem—an older, much older, client hitting on me.

Her brilliant smile and buoyant presence as she stood by my side on my wedding day.

Her tears of joy as I told her there were two lines on my pregnancy test…

And my tears of joy when her stick finally revealed two lines, the proof of the emergence of life beginning inside.

The ring she gave me. The simple, beautiful band she gave to symbolize the strength, power and fortitude of our friendship. She gave it to celebrate us—and insisted on only one rule: when I die, I am to leave the ring to Abby, my daughter, as a constant reminder of the importance of true friendship.

The way she understands my sorrows, the arc of my history, the depths of my soul. The way our friendship aligned to soften the inescapable blows of life—heartbreak, loss, anger and the beautiful resurgence of returning joy.

Our friendship, so strong and powerful, weathers the inevitable bumps and conflicts that exist in any close alliance. At times, we’ve clashed. Made mistakes. Hurt one another. But as we pass through any challenge, we emerge stronger, more aligned and steeped in our friendship because of the always forthcoming insights and grace that follow.

I admire her joie de vivre. She is bold. She is authentically Meg. Her creativity inspires and motivates many people in her life. She never shies from risk or new adventure. Her impeccable sense of style—in both decorating her home and herself—is notable because she graciously hands-down her gently worn clothes to moi. I even hear her voice guiding me while I shop: “No Denise, take that off. Try on that. Do you love it? No, you need a smaller size—that’s too big (God love her). Don’t you already have three tshirts like that?” And she’s always right.

She selflessly gives herself to causes meaningful to her. She houses remarkable reserves of forgiveness.

She loves my children as she loves her own. She loves me and sees inherent beauty in me (even when, especially when, I didn’t).

And so I sit, my heart so full I feel as if I may float away on this gossamer orbit of gratitude. I am reminded that we are simultaneously cement-strong and fragile—a testament to the diversity and dichotomy of life, love and the beautiful friendship that is ours. I love you, Meg. Thank you.

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Guest Post: Co-sleeping with Jaws

Co-sleeping with Jaws
by Christina Seronello

Once upon a time, there was a mom. Like many moms, she was frequently exhausted. There are many methods for dealing with exhaustion. Take a day off work and sleep while your child is at daycare. Take a weekend day off and have your spouse watch the child. Take a week and fly to Mars, hoping nobody notices you’re gone. One of this mom’s main methods for dealing with her exhaustion was the oft-debated tactic of “co-sleeping”, or sleeping in the same bed as her child. Co-sleeping, for the uninitiated, is akin to walking a tightrope, or slaying a dragon with a letter opener, but more common. It’s possible. If you’re brave, you can do it. If you’re smart, you can do it well.

Back to our mom.

One night, this mom was tired. She was very tired. She’d had a long day at work, she’d had nightmares the night before, and she just wanted some sleep. Now, everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but for any mother who actually tries to do this it generally goes out the window by the time the babe is about two months old. There are just too many things to do that you don’t want your child’s help with. But when you’re really tired, you have to do something drastic. So she decided, in an unprecedented moment of brilliance, to actually go to sleep when she went to bed with her 8 month old son at 8:00pm. So she did. And it worked out well. For one hour.

At 8:00pm, she placed her son on the opposite side of her pillow, and they both slept. At 9:00pm, she woke with her little one attached to her face. Picture this: you’re sleeping peacefully. You open your eyes. There are another pair of eyes, right in front of yours! There is a mouth… open, and stuck on your nose. This is how our mom awoke. Startled, she pulled away. Jaws The Child held still, and as soon as she blinked he crept closer, so now he was on top of her.

Our heroic Mom lifted her child and placed him back in his spot. She soothed the little fusses this created, and went back to sleep on her side. One hour later, she again awoke to her little one in her face. This time his lips were on hers. Sleep kisses, perhaps? Or something more sinister… perhaps we’ll never know.

This continued, all night. At 6:00am, she awoke hanging half off the bed while holding her son in place with one arm. It first occurred to her that perhaps the bed railing needed to go back up. It next occurred to her that sleeping like that is painful! It finally occurred to her that her child has an uncanny knack for knowing when she’s not paying attention, and he goes on the ATTACK!

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Guest Post: Getting Beyond, Is It Safe?

By Cornelia Seigneur

A friend of mine and I were on an adventure hike at Tryon Creek State Park on Martin Luther King Junior Day. It was my 12-year-old twin boys and my friend’s 12-year-old boy, and my 6-year-old boy, plus two of our friends from Sudan — a 12-year-old boy and a 13 -year girl.

The four 12-year-old boys were meandering off the trail to discover trees that had fallen over the creek, and they wanted to walk over these logs to get to the other side of the creek.

They came up with this idea on their own. Though at first I thought they should not go off the trail, I soon realized that there were no signs up that said they could not go off the trail, so we let them. Too many times at school and in life, kids are required to stay in bounds and live between the borders of walls and books and desks, and told to color in the lines, but real life is sometimes off the trail and outside of the lines and beyond the boundaries.

So, the boys took off down toward the log which had fallen over the creek, and I followed them to make sure they were okay.

Then, another woman who was also out for a hike at Tryon that day, stopped to see what the boys were doing, and asked my friend, “Is it safe?”

My friend said unashamedly to this other woman, of course it is safe, and they are just boys on an adventure.

The question, Is it safe? got me thinking about family life and safety and kids living in our suburban culture, where they are so sheltered and not allowed to explore and where they are driven everywhere they go and are not allowed to walk or bike anywhere. Ironically enough because families move to the suburbs to be safe.

I also thought about faith and how we pray for protection and to be free from conflict, which is a great prayer and all. But is there not more to life than just praying for safety and hence, an easy life.

Of course, being safe and conflict free might be good things to want in general. But it seems that we forget that when life has conflicts and risks and outside the box experiences, that is when we seem to grow the most. When our lives are lived outside the box in the realm of adventure and risk, when we take chances and get out of the safety zone, we have so many opportunities to teach our children about real life and learning how to manage and problem solve and be creative. And when we try new things and live outside the box in one area of our lives, we will risk and truly live in other areas of our lives.

Adults need this. Kids need this. Kids in suburbia USA need chances to climb across trees that have fallen across creeks, to try to figure out how best to do this, to help one another in the task, to problem solve together the ideal solution.

As my friend and I watched our 12-year-olds,  we saw their eagerness to find log after log to cross the creek, and we saw team work as they tried to figure out the best way to make it and we saw their laughter and the challenge that it was. And we witnessed the excitement they expressed when they made it across the creek, each time waiting for one another to cross.

The challenge, the adventure, the risk, the creativity, the team work, the maneuvering to find the best route were all skills that can be transferred to real life.

The boys got dirty and the trails were muddy and getting off the trails was even muddier, but the boys did not complain. They kept looking for more logs to cross. 

The next day, I got a call from my mom friend, and she said her son had such an amazing time with us, and that is all he could talk about, the adventure with my boys.

Was it safe? Sure. And, most importantly, it was an adventure.

Cornelia Becker Seigneur is the mother of five children between the ages of 7 and 20, and the author of WriterMom Tales: Corralling the Commotion while Savoring the Chaos, Spilled Cheerios, and Prayers of Real-Life Motherhood, a collection of her essays on real family life that have been published in The Oregonian and other local publications since 1999. In addition to writing, Cornelia is an adjunct instructor at Multnomah University as well as a photographer and editor. Her website and blog can be found at

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Guest Post: Having a Girl by Claudine Jalajas

About 5 years ago I was in a car accident with my two sons on the way home from their annual pediatric check up. It was a beautiful summer day. I sat at a red light. My 2 year old and 7 year old watched a movie on the DVD player in the van. While I sat, staring at the light above, I heard a loud crash and was jolted out of my trance when my body tried to go forward while the seatbelt held me back. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a man in his Infinity SUV hanging up his cell phone. My boys were very confused and mostly annoyed about the DVD player shutting off on them. I got out of the car quickly to check on them and saw Max, the 2 year old, had a scrape across his neck from the seat belt. When I saw that scrape I became the female version of the HULK.

I turned, teeth barred, growling, hissing, and pointing my finger while I marched towards the man in his car. “What’s wrong with you? You were on your damned phone weren’t you?!” He stayed in his car and pretended not to notice the crazy lady screaming at him. Suddenly I felt a lot of pain in my lower abdomen. I was 24 weeks pregnant at the time. We spent the better part of the day and early evening at the ER while they monitored my contractions. They did a CT scan of my abdomen assuring me it was in my best interest to check for internal bleeding but I feared for my little girl growing in my belly. There was no internal bleeding, contractions stopped, and I was told that I would likely be in pain for a while.

The next 89 days remain the most painful days I’ve ever had. I had herniated several discs in my back and the bigger the baby got, the more intense the pain became. My son Max was an active 2 year old—even more than your average toddler. I was so afraid I couldn’t keep up with him that we never left the house. To this day, when I watch House, I totally get it. When you have constant pain you feel like the world is your idiot. Everything was difficult and caused me to curse—standing, sitting, attempting to walk. The pain was so intense that the OB put me on Vicodin while pregnant so I could cope. They assured me the Vicodin was safe and I was grateful for relief but it barely took the edge off—so I used it very rarely.

When I got close to 30 weeks I begged my OB to schedule an earlier C-section for me (vaginal not an option for me—it just isn’t. Don’t flame me. It is what it is.) When we got to 32 weeks they did a Fetal Lung Maturity test. While performing an ultrasound they stick a long needle in your belly looking for amniotic fluid. It’s a tricky procedure because they cannot hit the baby. (The doctor doing the procedure literally said, while sticking that needle in my belly, “If I hit the baby it will be a disaster.” I’m not sure if she found that a comfort to me). When an amnio is done in early pregnancy there’s plenty of room but not when you’re 32 weeks pregnant.  The test results came back that my daughter’s lungs were not ready. If she were born she would go straight to NICU. I was devastated. My mind wanted her born healthy and safe but I needed to be rid of this pain. I just wanted her out.

Seven days later they were trying again. The nurse prepping me asked me if I was anxious to have the pregnancy over and I sighed saying, “Oh, I cannot wait.” My husband came over, smiling, and said, “I haven’t heard you say that before. I was kind of worried.” Confused I asked him what he was talking about. Haven’t I bitched every single day about how much pain I was in? He said, “I’m glad you’re so excited about having a girl. I heard you tell the nurse you couldn’t wait.” I smiled back but didn’t have the courage to tell him he misunderstood.

While they performed the second, and more painful, Fetal Lung Maturity test I went into labor and they whisked me into the OR for an emergency c-section. When Annabelle entered this world she screamed her head off.  I closed my eyes and then smiled when a nurse said, “Wow! Listen to THOSE lungs!” 

When they told me I was having a girl I worried. Boys are easy for me. I am an only girl with 3 brothers. I grew up hearing my mother complain, “I’d rather raise another 3 boys than a girl again.” Personally, I don’t know what she was talking about, I was a pure delight. But I’ve been most comfortable with boys. I can talk about money, techy things, and cars—and men make me laugh.  Between you, me, and the lamppost, I may have married my husband because he was the funniest guy I had met.

Annabelle has started kindergarten this year. I’ve never been the type to cry when my kids started school. Why cry? I was so looking forward to some quiet time to write, to get the things that usually have to wait until the wee hours when I’m exhausted. And she was over the moon about being a kindergartner and going to school.

It has been 12 1/2 years since I’ve been home alone. When Luc started kindergarten I had a baby at home. When Max started kindergarten, I had a toddler at home. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s the last one or because she’s a girl. But I’m finding it really unsettling how much I miss her.  I see the small bouquet of flowers she made for me yesterday and smile. A song comes on the radio and I can hear her voice singing along and see her flicking her long, knotted hair around.

I saw five monarch butterflies, at once, in the garden yesterday and thought, “let me get Annabelle, she will flip over this” and remembered she was at school.  Mostly, I miss her constantly needing to be right by my side. I miss her pulling at me to bend over so she can shmush her face into mine, saying, “Mama? I love you Mama. I love you more than anybody. I even love you more than 11.”

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Guest Post: “I am Exceptional, I am a Mother”

I have managed to stroll one child and hand-hold another while balancing a cake, a purse and a diaper bag…in heels. 

I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I know how to predict and curb a tantrum (hey, it happened once).  I am never without a stash of snacks or band-aids.  I can fashion a sling out of 2 tube socks in a pinch.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I know my children’s health histories, food aversions, fears and hot buttons.  I know when snack day, minimum day, share day and pajama day are.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I try to make learning fun, act silly with my kids and accept responsibilities for my failures.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I know how to kill bedtime monsters, get gum out of hair and act as my children’s advocate.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I know how to sneak medicine, sneak vegetables and sneak the good Halloween candy for myself.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

I know how to make it all better when no one else can.  I am exceptional, I am a mother.

Just because we can all do these things doesn’t make even one of us less exceptional.  We have witnessed exceptional love from our mothers, our grandmothers, each other, our children and ourselves.  We do exceptional things instinctively.  We do exceptional things for them.  Our everyday is exceptional. 

We are exceptional, we are mothers.

Lori Garcia is a married thirty-something California native.  Mother of two boys, she launched as an opportunity to tell true tales of motherhood and mayhem with a healthy dose of humor and heart.  Illustrated by her husband and inspired by her children, Mommyfriend is a family affair.  Dedicated to reminding its readers or “Mommy Friends” that they are perfect as they are, Mommyfriend believes our best will always be enough so long as it’s filled with heart.

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