Today is Your Day My Sweet Boy

Three years ago today…It was about 5am–9 days BEFORE you were scheduled for an early c-section. I felt different, so I stood up–and low and behold–you and my body informed me it was in fact time for you to come.

You entered the world on your own terms, fought issues like a prize fighter and got to come home when you were 7 days old.

We have literally NOT STOPPED since you entered our lives.

You are smart, funny, fiercely loyal. You are perfectly ok with independent play–or group play. You decided to not talk until you were over two years old, but once you started, well…you haven’t stopped.

You are my best buddy and give the best snuggles and sloppy kisses.

You are obsessed with technology, purses and glasses. OBSESSED. You have a “gank-et” that you must have nearly everywhere (translation: blanket).

You are so much fun to watch learning this world and where you fit into it. I hope you always keep this free, fun-loving spirit. It is inspiration for the rest of us that have a tendency to take life a little too seriously. You live and love in the  moment, and that’s the way we should all be. You remind us of that.

You are the light in my mind, body and soul and you drive me to be the best version of myself.

I love you more than anything and I look forward to watching you grow into a strong, handsome man. Keep us laughing my sweet boy.

Love you always and forever my Clay-Clay.

XOXO

Mama

Hang On Mama

This morning was a doozie. It started off somewhat calm, and normal, but quickly escalated into something that made me turn into Mama Monster, which then made me have extreme Mama Guilt for the rest of the morning.

I got hit with Mickey Mouse because no jackets fit (mind you, he was WEARING a fleece-so, yeah kid, your jackets aren’t going to fit over that). A temper tantrum then pursued–and all threats of discipline fell on deaf ears.

Of course, I’m thinking the entire time I’m throwing these threats around that this will actually punish ME more than HIM because I will be at home alone with him this afternoon and evening. Insert the beginning of Mama Guilt.

But the doozie wasn’t any of those things. The doozie was, when my little five year old was getting out of the car, I told him I loved him, as I do every morning. And you know what he did? He looked at me and said nothing. He said nothing! The door closed behind him and tears welled up in my eyes.

He didn’t say I love you back.

Talk about a Mama feeling like a failure moment.

When I was in my twenties and even when the hubby and I decided it was time to grow our family, no one could have told me how to prepare for these kinds of moments. No advice, no opinions, no experience could have prepared my heart for the hurt that moments like this fill in your mind, body and soul.

There are lots of moments like this–and I know there will be many more. I mean, I’m only just beginning.

So, here’s the thing.

I’ve been that mama that has left a cart in the store and carried a screaming child out. I have been that mama that has sat at iHop (because my little boy loves iHop and I was trying to treat him) crying into my pancakes, putting all the food (untouched) in to-go boxes and carrying two (TWO) screaming children out. I have stood in our church vestibule with two children crawling over my feet, misbehaving — at CHURCH–with no words to say to them. Only tears would come and only tears streamed down my cheeks. I have packed up literally EVERY SINGLE TOY in the play room and locked them in the attic.

I have felt like a failure.

Why do I write all of this?

Well, because I KNOW I am not alone. Because in all of those moments – something has occurred to show me I’m not alone. And I write this because, these words might just be what some Mama needs to read today. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I have had a store employee walk quietly behind me and tell me not to worry about the cart–to take a deep breath and do whatever I needed to do to calm the crazy monster. I have had a family at the next table attempt to entertain my crazy monsters while a waitress helps me to box up the untouched food. I have had women walk up to me and simply HUG me–no words, just a hug–while tears are streaming down my face. I have had people walk calmly behind me and help me to pack up all the toys and place them in the attic.

And I KNOW why they do it. Because they’ve been there. They KNOW no words are going to help at that moment. They KNOW no advice, no opinions, nothing–but quiet action–are going to help settle your heart in that moment.

So hang on Mama. Tomorrow is a new day. And the little monsters may have decided to be tyrants this morning, and maybe into the evening…but the little monsters will also give you BIG KISSES, lay heads on your shoulder, tell you sweet dreams, because YOU are their Mama. And, no matter what they say or do, they LOVE YOU.

XOXO.

Mama Daze
When your mama spirit needs a lift

Diffuser Blend:

2 Drops Geranium, 3 Drops Grapefruit, 1 Drop Lime.

According to Reference Guide for EOs:

Geranium Properties can be antidepressant and a relaxant.

Grapefruit Properties can be antidepressant and a stimulant.

Lime can be restorative (and come on, just smells oh so good).

Lift your spirits with essential oils and find the rest of the day fall into place. I also apply topically to my heart, Joy – when inhaled brings back memories of being loved and cherished. I apply topically to my wrists and neck, Stress Away -which is a blend formulated to help relieve everyday stresses and tensions so you can live a healthier and happier life, and finally, I apply Progessence Plus to my upper arms because, let’s be honest, maybe sometimes the fault of tension does not lie on the Little Monsters, but instead, on Mama’s hormones.

A Week in Review

At times we don’t invite God into an area of our life because it’s too human. This Sunday’s Gospel gives us the reassurance that Jesus is right there. He’s right there. He gets it. And now is the time to invite him in. This week’s gospel (John 2:13–25) reveals distrust, anger, completely human emotions. THAT reveals traits of us all. And Jesus is there, waiting for us to bring him into an area(s) of our life(ves).

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Bowling Fun!
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See my “phone!” (This is what he’d rather do than bowl)
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Some amazing Spring inspired diffuser blends with Spring coming just around the corner.
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Love your body. Greens, Ningxia Red, Thieves and Kombucha are great places to start.
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So…when you have two small boys, Stain Remover is a must. This recipe calls for 1/4 c. Castile Soap, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1 capful of Thieves Cleaner, 5 drops of Lemon essential oil and 5 drops of Thieves essential oil.
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When everything starts to blossom, we also welcome sniffles. This trio helps keep those sniffles at bay (20 drops each of Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, top with carrier oil of your choice)
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Puffy eyes? Grab some cotton rounds, a few drops of Witch Hazel, a few drops of Lavender and about 1/8 cup of distilled water. Dip the rounds in the water mixture, wring them out and place flat in the freezer for about five minutes. Take them out of the freezer, lay over eyes and keep them there for about 10-15 minutes. This would be a great time to do your meditation, too!
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The moon sends all kinds of energy to us. Here are some great diffuser recipes to embrace the power of the moon and get our heads in the right place to accept the energy it sends our way.
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My house can be clean ALL day and he can undo all of that in a matter of SECONDS.
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…SECONDS.
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Results of Stain Remover. I never have understood why they give little boys white uniform shirts?!?!?
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Young Living isn’t just oils. It offers a full line of skin care and makeup. And I LOVE the way it feels on my skin!
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Because I’m raising Little Monsters…this Mama needs all the Stress Away, all the time.
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Because I couldn’t make him fly.
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Gift basket I’m donating to my son’s school auction night. It’s called the “Mama Bear Basket.”  All the Ningxia products (because all mamas need energy), Stress Away, Joy, and Gratitude essential oils (because, well, being a mama is full of stress, joy and gratitude–am I right?). Two Mama Bear cups (great for poolside beverages that need to remain inconspicuous ;)…) and a package of Seedlings baby wipes (for all the messes).
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The Young Living Vitality line is deemed GRAS (generally regarded as safe) for consumption. Add a drop or two of Lime to your guacamole and be ready for all the YUMMY.
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Just another night in Raffsworld.
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There is never a dull moment…
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Thursday night’s full moon. Perfect view from my living room.
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Spring Cleaning — Deck gets a makeover. This is after being power washed. After pics to come next Sunday.
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Got the boys early from school on Friday because it was a GORGEOUS day. We called it our Mommy/Sons Date Day. We went to a local park called Two Rivers and walked all over the forest looking for bears and opossums.
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And…watching the boats on the Arkansas river. And throwing things, like Mommy’s sunglasses, into the river…
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Looking for 4 leaf clovers…
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Needed a break I guess…

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That face.
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and that one.
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The laughter did this mama heart good.
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After looking at this picture, I immediately went out to order Boswellia Wrinkle Cream. I didn’t pay a penny for it–used my Essential Rewards points and some account credit. Because–where did those wrinkles come from?!?!

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My life. It has its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade these particular moments (like this picture) for anything.
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Next stop–frozen yogurt!

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This is Clay’s version of Charlie Brown’s Pig Pen

40 Days – Day 14

There are no personal acts. Everything one does have an affect on someone, somewhere.

Matthew Kelly states it best in today’s session of Best Lent Ever:

As human beings, one of our expertise is to make excuses. Our culture has fallen into this sort of macro excuse—this generalized excuse. And it is the idea that, “Well, this is just who I am.” This macro excuse that our culture has fallen into then leads to some very, very, very dangerous thinking: the idea of an isolated personal act.

So, you get done at work today, you go home, you think to yourself, “Ah, I’m exhausted. I’ve got to relax.” You plant yourself in your big couch with a 6-pack of beer and a 300-ounce bag of Doritos. You order some pizza, some chicken wings, and two 2-liter bottles of Coke (one diet of course). And you devour this feast, followed by two pints of ice cream. Our culture says that was a personal act. Wrong. There’s no such thing as a personal act.

Everything we do every day affects everybody. I mean, there’s some really obvious connections, right? I mean, you have that experience often enough, guess what. It changes the cost of healthcare for the company you work for, which changes how much money your colleagues get paid next year—and you didn’t even share a slice of pizza with them.

Everything affects everyone, everywhere, all the time. And not just now, forever.

Some people look at the world and say, “Wow, the world’s a mess. How’d it get this way?” That’s how it got this way—personal acts. Personal acts. We do our own thing. We step away from God. We step away from character. We step away from virtue. We step away from the-best-version-of-ourselves. We do our own thing, even though we know our own thing is harmful to us and harmful to others. That’s how the world got to be a mess.

How do we make the world a little bit less of a mess every single day? Just do the next right thing.”

And when you look at it that way…wow. We do our own thing and lose empathy and sight of others. And then teachers are afraid to go to work, parents are afraid to send their children to school, people blast each other on social media because they have a screen to hide behind, and before you know, this world is a crazy, messed up place.

Focus today on this concept: Everything we do affects the people around us. Everything we do affects the entire world.

Act: Talk to someone close to you about how your seemingly personal acts affect him or her. You may not like what you hear–but then you can take that message and turn it into a positive. Work on correcting that behavior and instead focus on virtues.

DAY 14: JOY and GRATITUDE

My heart is filled with joy and gratitude every single day for these two little monsters. They are my whole heart. I love getting to spend quality time with them and I love watching them become the little guys they are becoming. They both have such huge personalities and leave their father and I belly laughing 90% of the time. And you know what’s awesome? Belly laughing 90% of the time you are with your loved ones.

40 Days – Day 12

The enemy of character.

Ego.

We all have one. The ego can be a very positive thing — or a very negative thing. God has a purpose for each of us, and because of that purpose, he has given us an ego. That inner voice that drives our purpose and passion. But sometimes, if we get too caught up in that ego, it can drive us to make very poor decisions.

Matthew Kelly states, “The number one way we reject reality is by placing ourselves at the center of the universe. And we all do it. We do it for moments. We do it for days, weeks, months, years. I see it with the kids. I see it with my own children. I see that there are stages in their development when they are clearly, firmly, and absolutely convinced that they are the center of the universe. Now, obviously they’re not able to articulate that, but the way they behave indicates that is the belief, that is the worldview, that they are operating out of.

Most people grow out of it, but I think an increasing number of people in our culture don’t grow out of it. And so, I guess part of the question is, “Who or what is at the center of your universe?” And it’s a question worth thinking about often, because I think that logically and intellectually and philosophically we can say, “Oh yeah, God is at the center of the universe,” and, “God is at the center of my universe,” or, “God is at the center of my life.” But it’s amazing how quickly we can displace him. It’s amazing how quickly, in different situations on different days, we can displace God from being at the center of our lives and be unaware of it.”

I wholeheartedly agree. I see it every day with my two year old and five year old. I saw it every day in the high school classroom. And unfortunately, I see it far too often in adults. Too many people have placed themselves at the center of the universe (in their minds) and don’t care about how their actions and words can devastate those around them. Too many people are so wrapped up in how others perceive them physically or socially, that they don’t care if people think they have poor character.

There have been moments (too many to recollect) that I have pushed away and decided to take on the universe all by myself. Do you know how well that worked out for me? It wasn’t until I came back to reality and realized that unless I gave myself 100% to Him, nothing else would fall into place.

Focus: We are not the center of the universe. If you try to place yourself there, you will set yourself up for disappointment and frustration.

Act: Look at your actions during the last 24 hours. When did you choose your authentic self, and when did you choose your ego? I’m going to add–what makes you allow your ego to take over? What are those characteristics that take away from your virtue and character? What causes these to overtake your mind? How can you stop that?

DAY 12: JOY and GRATITUDE

I’m thankful when friends expose me to new things. It is fun, it is exciting, and it is an extra bonus when it is super healthy for me.

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Over a year ago, a dear friend introduced me to Ningxia and Thieves by Young Living. And I am so full of GRATITUDE to have those products in my daily life because they help me to promote wellness in my house.

This fall, another dear friend introduced me to Kombucha. My first thought was vinegar? Ugh, no thanks. But, I swallowed my pride and tried it. And my tummy felt AMAZING. (Want to learn what Kombucha is? You can go check out what Dr. Axe has to say about it here.) But to summarize what he says it can do for you and your body: helps prevent a variety of diseases, supports a healthy gut, can improve mental health, protects the lungs, antibacterial, helps manage diabetes, is beneficial to the cardiovascular system and helps maintain a healthy liver. Can we say WIN???

Greens are always good for you: they help promote your immune system, can aid in weight loss, can aid in fighting disease and illness, helps to provide more energy, helps to boost creativity and clear the mind and improve appearance. You can read more about greens and their benefits here. I’m thankful for my parents teaching me to appreciate the health benefits of greens at a very early age.

So go out and take a minute to sit down and examine yourself. Where does your PRIDE prohibit you? Where does your true self boost you? What do you do to help yourself? And finally…

What does your JOY and GRATITUDE look like today?

40 Days – Day 7

Our desire to please.

Sometimes this can be detrimental. Especially in this day and age where everyone hides behind a personality they have created on social media. I love what Matthew Kelly says today, “One of the misconceptions that we can fall into, especially as Christians, is that, in some way, our Christianity is about pleasing people. That we always have to be nice, that we have to please people, that we can’t have any conflict, or start any conflict. It’s really very dangerous. It’s very dangerous to relationships. There’s a real danger to “nice.”

In order to open up and accomplish greatness in this world, sometimes you have to get down and dirty. Sometimes you have to be honest, even if it’s not “nice.” That doesn’t mean to attack each other or be nasty, but it does mean, “hey, this isn’t working–we need to re-evaluate this.”

I have sat back and observed social media for years. I think social media is a great tool and a great platform to keep in touch with family and friends near and far. It’s even a great tool for work. But, I’ve also observed how social media allows us to become down right mean–because we’re hiding behind a screen. The change in just the last decade is unbelievable. Today’s youth want immediate gratification. They don’t want God. They don’t want discipline. They don’t respect themselves or each other. I could say the same for a lot of adults.

I bring up social media with this particular reflection today–because in trying to please other people on social media, a lot of times, people wind up doing worse. Trying to please that friend group or that political group or whatever it may be…sometimes the message is more dangerous than it was originally intended.

One of the things Matthew Kelly wants you to think about today is, “how are you trying to please people in your life? And why are you trying to please these particular people in your life? And is it something that God is calling you to do or not? If not, I think we know that we need to give that the gate and work on stepping away from that. But even if it is something that God is calling you to do, even if God is calling you to please certain people, are we doing it in a healthy way? There’s a real danger that we feel called, by God, to really try and help people, please people, serve people, all of which is good, but there’s healthy ways and unhealthy ways to do that.”

On the same token, expressing your opinion, because you are trying to please, can hurt you more than help others. You have to take care of yourself in the process if pleasing others. You have to take care of you: Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually—God’s interested in the whole person.

And be real. REAL. Don’t create an image you think others want to see. Be yourself. All of you–your faults, your failures, your achievements, just you. On this journey, you are only hurting yourself if you create an image you think everyone wants to see. You are not getting to know yourself truly and that is the number one thing to do on this journey we call life.

We must decide who our audience is going to be—our parents, children, friends, colleagues, boss, critics, spouse, self . . . or God? We must really examine it. Because if God is not first, everything else falls out of place. If self isn’t second, everything else falls out of place.

And then we become that created image and that becomes dangerous.

Day 7-JOY and GRATITUDE

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On this journey to follow my joy and find my happy, I am so grateful for these two. They brought me into this world. They raised me to be me. To accept who I am and be proud of it. They gave me roots — but also showed me how to spread my wings and learn to fly. They are there for me in the good and the bad–and everything in between.

I am so very thankful for these two people and having them with me brings me great joy. Because they are amazing individuals and together are an amazing team.