seven

My Sweet Oldest,

I just can’t really grasp that you are seven-years-old. Oh, you seem seven. You fit the profile of a first-born to a tee, and I may be biased, but think you are quite mature for seven. It’s the part where I have been a mom for seven years that I can’t quite wrap my head around. That you’ve been alive for longer than I was in college (because that seemed like such a large chunk of time). That you’ve been alive for more than 1/5 of my life. I remember Meme telling me once, when I was a teenager, that it seemed like I had been alive her whole life – and I think I’m beginning to understand that sentiment.

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You are a wonderful big brother. To be honest, I really don’t have a clue what that must be like. To be the oldest brother of three boys. I know that we place high expectations on you, and I also know that you believe we love you unconditionally, and we do. Your brothers ADORE you. The Middlest is always thrilled when you are done with school for the day, admires everything you do, and wants to be just like you (even though he has his own interests).

The Littlest, well he just thinks you are the coolest kid ever  – and thank you for treating him like he is the coolest kid ever. You two have had a bond since the day The Littlest arrived home from the hospital, and it has truly been a blessing to see that relationship flourish (I’m really sorry he bites you when he’s angry, working on that…).

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At age seven, you desire to be a professional golfer when you grow up. You also want to be a scientist. Both are admirable, and for a seven-year-old, you’re an excellent golfer! But, you also LOVE to create. I’m not sure you know that about yourself, but I am interested to see how God uses that in your future. You remind me of your aunt. Writing books and stories. Illustrating and imagining all through the day.

You are a social boy, at age seven. You thrive in a crowd (not a strong suit of mine, so that must come from Dad, along with your handsome blue eyes and your work ethic). You are kind, and you are sensitive. You are learning your way in social settings; learning lessons in pondering your words before you speak them, and learning to choose behavior that glorifies God. It’s hard, as a mom, to watch you navigate that journey and I know that I often fail to be a good example. But I have no doubt that you know how much I love you – and at the end of the day, that is motherhood.

You fascinate me. Being the first born, every single stage you enter is always a new one for me and you teach me so much. Sorry you have to be the guinea pig in this my parenting journey, kiddo, when you are frustrated you know where to find my older and wiser sister.

Love you more than words can describe, happy birthday!

casual fall fashion

My husband and I are newly involved in leadership of our local Young Life chapter, and last night was a hayrack ride and bonfire. We meet at 8 PM, which (if you know me in real life, you’re aware) is darn near my bed time. So, I was admittedly not as energetic as I’d have hoped, but it was still so awesome to see all of these teenagers who aren’t ashamed to make it known that they love the Lord or are coming to know His love. It also put me in the mood for fall clothing…

I am a fan of the change in seasons. As much as I’d love to live in warm climates all year round, there is something about a touch of crispness in the air that makes me feel refreshed and energetic. [We can talk again this winter when I’m all, “can’t it just be 90 degrees outside?” I’ll be singing a different tune]. It has been warmer than average this month, which has felt strange. In the mornings and late evening it starts to feel like autumn outside, but during middle of the day, we are still well in to the 80s. If you saw my instagram yesterday, you’d know that I am a bit anxious to wear boots and scarfs, but I am also content to soak up this gorgeous mild-summer-like weather we are experiencing. However, as soon as Mother Nature decides to turn down, here’s a bit of fall fashion inspiration for you.Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 1.46.25 PM

sources for all of these items below my ramblings, or access this set via Polyvore

One of my favorite fall trends/eighties-come-back is the denim-vest/hooded sweatshirt combo, and I have also been eyeing this plaid zip-up. However, I already own a flannel shirt, a gray zip-up hoodie, and a denim vest, so I can create both looks without purchasing anything new for my closet & also have the option to wear each piece separately [good for my wallet and simplicity sake].

I have been loving Urban Decay makeup products, lately. I started with the Naked Palette a couple of years ago, when they were all the rage [and still are, apparently]. Recently, because I was so impressed with the quality of the eyeshadow, I decided to try their foundation, and I love it. The makeup has a very light texture, but the coverage is amazing and builds well if you need extra coverage. And, I do. If I could tell my teenage self one thing, it would be STAY OUT OF THE DANG TANNING BED, because all of the age spots by thirty-something. <<insert weeping emoji>> Anyway, because I was so impressed with the foundation, I also ended up purchasing the UD pressed powder and it goes on like a dream. [Hey, Urban Decay, if you’re reading this hook a girl up with some free product or commission, mmmkay?] But seriously, if you can make these products fit your skin care budget, I highly recommend them. Skin care, to an extent, feels to me like a “you get what you pay for” type of product.

The jewels featured are from Rocksbox [my referral code is: marybff367]. This is essentially a jewelry “rental”. You pay a small fee, Rocksbox sends you a jewelry set with three pieces [styles based on a survey you fill out + wishlist created by you]. As far as I understand you can keep the pieces for as long as you’d like [for the monthly fee] and either decide to purchase the pieces or send them back for a new set. It also appears that you receive a $10 credit toward purchasing pieces from your set, each month. I took advantage of an opportunity to try my first Rocksbox for free, and those are the pieces that I am receiving. The box is in the mail, I’ll let y’all know how it goes!

I’m digging the “fancy” headband for second or third day hair in a messy bun & a baseball cap for the third or fourth day hair [or the my face is breaking out like a pre-adolescent forehead look].

I recently purchased those cognac booties at Kohl’s, on sale + another $10 off. I think I paid maybe $25 for them. Score! It hasn’t felt appropriate to wear them yet, though, due to warmer temps. I’m digging the Michael Kors cross-body because of the color and style [hello hands-free, yes please, thank you cross-body purses for making a comeback]. I likely wouldn’t purchase that handbag new, but if I could find it on consignment/used it’d be mine. For now I’ll seek out the Target version because I’m fancy like that. Those sneakers? I’d love to have that exact pair, but have a mild obsession with athletic shoes and probably shouldn’t be adding more to my collection right now. Christmas wishlist? Yes, ma’am. And finally, the blanket scarf. Need I say more?

I noticed I’m missing pants on this little collection. If you’ve got a great pair of leggings [that aren’t see through, friends] and a rockin’ pair of skinny jeans, you can wear all of the above!

sources:

plain button-up H&M // weekend zip hoodie J. Crew // denim vest AEO // sweater fleece pullover L.L. Bean

urban decay :: naked pallet, pressed powder, liquid foundation [these are items are linked through Polyvore, but all available via sephora] // Rocksbox jewels [my referral code is: marybff367] // Ray-Bans // headband Forever 21 // quilted baseball cap Madewell

cognac booties Kohl’s // Michael Kors cross-body bag // New Balance for J. Crew // blanket scarf

 

stopping time

I read somewhere, this week, that the way to stop time is to write. Reflecting on that, I realize just how true that statement is. When I sit down to blog [journal] a bit about the boys, it seems that I am able to freeze these moments, even while time keeps passing. I feel like there have been several “let’s stop time” moments over these summer months. Mainly, that I am really going to miss The Oldest when he heads back to first grade. He has been fun to be around this summer, due largely in part to his independence [bored? go read a book. still bored? go outside and play. pool? he’s got this.]. And, when I need to take a shower, change a load of laundry, or work on making supper, he “takes care” of The Littlest for me, and does well.

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I’m sure I’ll miss The Middlest, too, but preschool is just different, because I think it serves as quite a productive, and needed, break for both of us. To his credit, he is also very helpful with The Littlest, just not quite as independent as The Oldest, yet, in certain regards. I AM, amidst my thoughts of missing The Oldest, truly looking forward to some sweet one-on-one time with The Littlest. [Which, if I’m being honest, probably looks like a quiet weekly Target run.]

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If I could sum up this summer in one simple word, it would be good. It has been a good summer. We have done many fun things, nothing over the top, and nothing over-programmed [my favorite place to be]. We spent quite a bit of time in the great outdoors, swimming and golfing, mostly. The Oldest and The Middlest are developing quite the passion for golfing and Their Dad has enjoyed indulging his own passion for the golf course on the two of them. [ahem, we may or may not have a putting green mowed in the back yard]. And of course, generally hanging out in the backyard, feeling pretty darn grateful when the neighbor boys take the time to wander back and see us [even if it’s just for the popsicles].

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To be honest, though, I had two main tasks that I wanted to accomplish this summer. One: mastering the art of tying shoes, once and for all, for The Oldest. Two: learning to ride a two-wheeler bike. Mission accomplished. This last week, those two things just clicked for him, he’s thrilled, and I’m thrilled. This fall/winter, only two sets of shoes to tie. And, I’ll probably invest in velcro.

On a personal level, I have made quite an effort to be diligent in creating a weekly meal plan, and prepping as much as possible at the beginning of each week. I’m really hoping to share more about that, soon! But for the time being, here are two delicious recipes that we have enjoyed as a result of the planning: firecracker shrimp tacos | peach yogurt breakfast muffins

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As we begin the transition to a new season, I am looking forward to digging deeper in to some of the desires that I believe the Lord is placing on my heart. Between reading “Restless” this spring, the work I am doing for a non-profit organization, and recently attending a video-cast of the Global Leadership Summit, I am confident that God wants me to use my passion for physical fitness and wellness for His glory. It’s scary to put that out there. I don’t even know the what, when, where or how of this. I only know the why. But, I am going to listen for his guidance, pray for the vision, and run after it. [and on the running note, I am running a local 5K this evening, and have been making myself nervous ALL day. This is the very reason I do not sign up for organized athletic events anymore. All the nerves. I don’t even care about “beating” anyone, just all the dang anxiousness to wait until 7 PM to run. I’ll letcha know how it goes…]

 

 

five

My handsome Middlest,Sievers Fam28-Web

My “Obie”, how are you five already? Five years ago we were only weeks in to relocating to eastern Iowa and I was deeply homesick for the familiarity of life in Des Moines, but in God’s perfect timing you were born shortly after that move and I simply didn’t have the time to sit around feeling sorry for myself with a beautiful new baby boy to take care of. I really feel like your fifth birthday is such a milestone and indicator of how much life can change is such a short time, and of God’s goodness.

Sievers Fam29-WebOwen, you have such a fun personality. You do not do anything (willingly) that you haven’t decided yourself to do. I think we saw that with a vengeance when we were potty training you, but as you mature into a young boy and are no longer a toddler, your strong-willed nature is evident (I love that about you, by the way, even if sometimes it gets the best of me). But you are also compassionate and very witty, not a day goes by that you don’t make us genuinely laugh out loud.

Sievers Fam56-WebAt five, you are into all things mechanical. I think it is because mechanics are “black and white”, there isn’t a lot of grey area. You like to know the facts, and never accept “I don’t know,” as an answer. Your happy place is right next to your Pappi’s side, tagging along for a days worth of chores. Getting dirty doesn’t scare you, and skinned knees don’t phase you.

You are not very “in” to sports. Your favorite part of t-ball this year was the snack at the end of the game (at your last game this year, one of your teammates asked you if you enjoyed playing the outfield and you matter-of-factually replied “No. I like snack.” Son, I totally get it, because, me too.)

You seem to be at peace and thrive in small groups, and focus on one or two close friends. Large groups and crowds are not your favorite, nor are loud noises, and you don’t desire to be noticed or known in the crowd. You had two best pals in your preschool class last year, but were kind to all. My heart breaks a wee bit to know your two pals are moving on to a new school and you will go in to a classroom unfamiliar with the faces. I have no doubt you will find “your person”, though (because who can resist your smile?).  Sievers Fam32-Web

You still love to hold my hand, give big squeezy hugs, and snuggle.

You have the true genuine love of Christ in your heart, my baby O, and I hope you always let it shine!Sievers Fam66-Web

[photo credits to my talented friend, Jackie Petersen, who captured the Middlest’s personality so perfectly]

summer favorites

Sweet summer time. My favorite season. I’d rather be sweating than freezing, so this is my happy place. Mid-June in the midwest. Warm enough during the day to spend the whole thing in a pool, and cool enough in the evening to sit around the campfire. So far, this summer, these are some of the basic items that I default to, daily.
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basic racerback tanks >> because I can wear them with a sports bra, which is so much more comfortable for summer, but they still look classic + casual // simple necklaces // Ray-Ban RB3136 Caravan Sunglasses 55 mm >> smaller than the traditional aviator and a better fit for my face // denim cutoffs // longchamp le pliage handbag >> it’s a bottomless pit, I’m pretty sure my kitchen sink would in fact fit inside and disappear // Sephora perfecting ultra-smooth primer >> LOVE this lightweight serum underneath foundation, especially in the summer! My pores disappear once this is on // EOS Organic Lip Balm Sphere – Sweet Mint // AEO cross-strap sandals >> equally as comfortable as my Birkenstocks & I love the feminine touch of gold.

And then, because let’s be honest, I spend probably 90% of my time in gym clothes, here are my current favorites for the easy going days and mornings at the gym:
Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 3.15.40 PMPowerbeats 2 wireless headphones // Nike Women’s Nike Pro Tank // Nike running shorts // Nike Women’s Free 5.0 Running Sneaker // BlenderBottle SportMixer

I highly recommend the Powerbeats. They are pricier, but if you check them out on Amazon, there is a link to refurbished Powerbeats, they are sold through Amazon warehouse and just as good as the originals. I bought mine refurbished and saved a pretty penny! The sound quality is amazing. I can drown out whatever music is blaring over the speakers at the gym and lose myself in my workout. My favorite feature, though, is that I don’t have to strap my phone to my arm and have the cord of my headphones conflicting with my lift.

I clearly have a Nike problem. In my defense, I bought this pair on eBay. Because frugality, sticking to a budget, and all.

celebrating two

We rang in “two” with a visit to Scratch Cupcakery (pictured left: The Sully | pictured right: Snickerdoodle) and our favorite chiropractor. The Littlest was adjusted the day he was born, and nursed like a champ. I find that no coincidence, since I had some intense struggles nursing The Oldest and The Middlest. So, it seemed to only make sense to ring in year number two with a good adjustment.carsten 2
The following weekend we celebrated with our close friends and family “Little Blue Truck” style. Truly, I just went for a “country-ish” theme and coordinated the cookies to the book (to see more of my cookie work, visit “Sugar & Butter” on Facebook or use the hashtag #sugarandbuttercollection on Instagram). I set the books as a decoration, and voila!carsten 2_2 We had a “kid station” with some sammies, applesauce pouches, and granola bars. Because, let’s be honest, kiddos rarely take time to sit and actually eat at these types of events. And, of course, we had a small mimosa bar for the adult party-goers.

We ate a lot of sugar, enjoyed our friends, and dug in the dirt for hours. Success. carsten 2_3
The Littlest’s shirt is from The Blue Envelope. My friend Emily did a brand shoot for TBE and I couldn’t resist!

And speaking of brand shoots, the day after The Littlest’s party, we road tripped to Des Moines and he participated in Emily’s shoot for Little Blue Barn.

IMG_8743[photo credit: Hello Charlie]

two

My dear Littlest,

Happy second birthday, Baby Boy. I simply cannot believe two years have passed since you were born and yet, it’s also like you’ve always been here. Probably because you bring about a sense of completeness.

When you were born, I wrote some notes to you. One of them was “I wish you knew that I love our time together so far, but things are about to get loud and crazy around here. But it’s a good crazy and with time, you’ll adjust to the noise. You complete us, sweet baby boy. And, we are so in love.”

I think now you do know how much I love our time together.

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Now I know that you are the third born of three boys because you thrive on the loud and crazy. You are in your element when things are loud and crazy. Me, not so much. But you have certainly helped me to learn to smile amidst the chaos.

You do complete us, and we are still in love, and always will be.

I love to watch you sleep, because I know that all day long you have been busy and need to rest. Though, true to your personality, you keep moving even while you are sleeping. I lay you down at bedtime only to find your head on the opposite side of the crib from where I laid you down.

You love to snuggle with your stuffed puppy at night, you are particular about having a pillow and your blanket just-so. We sing the “ABC’s” and “Jesus Loves Me” while you are being changed in to jammies. When I finish you always clap and give an enthusiastic “yay!” When I lay you down at night we sing your prayer, you tuck your puppy underneath your left arm, your sippy cup under your right arm, and then you squeeze your eyes shut and grin from ear-to-ear while you pretend you are asleep. And then, you open your eyes, and in your sweet voice tell me “nigh, nigh!” and blow me a kiss with a teeny tiny little giggle sandwiched in between your lips and your chubby hand.

You love the bathtub. But you don’t stay on your bottom, of course.

You love the outdoors. But your temper exposes itself when it’s time to come inside.

You adore your big brothers. But you poke them in the eyes and pull their hair.

You have a way about you that is passionate. You are not often indifferent and make your opinions known. You are very aware of your ability to make us laugh, and do so frequently. You are sweet and yet feisty! You are happy and content and yet a fireball.

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I often pick you up, snuggle my nose in to your cheeks, and say “my sweet baby boy”. I want you to be my baby forever, and yet I know that God has intense plans for you and I have to let you grow in to a warrior for His kingdom. I know how much changes between birthday two and birthday three, so if you could please continue to snuggle your head right into the crook of my neck just a few more times this next year, I sure would be grateful.

words

Have you listened to the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson? Not just heard the song, but really listened to the lyrics? The other day this song was on the radio in our vehicle and The Oldest asked me, “is he singing about talking about Jesus?” I replied, “Yes, but in general about using words that glorify God, point others toward Jesus, and build others up.”

The Oldest pondered this for a short time and said, “So, like, in art class I should say, ‘my project looks terrible’ because then my friends would feel better about their projects?'”

“No, sweetheart, you never need to speak poorly of your work to build others up, you simply need to encourage others while focusing on doing the best work that you can do. You need to use kind words about your own work, and your classmates.”

The conversation continued for a few moments more, and I was encouraged at how deeply The Oldest seemed to allow the lyrics of this song to resonate and touch his heart. This prompted me to spend more time truly listening to these lyrics and realizing that I, too, need to be so often reminded to use words to point my children, and others, to the cross of Jesus. If I truly lived by the lyric “I don’t want to say a word unless it points the world back to [Jesus]”, I’m sure I would be much quieter during my day, and much more peaceful. In fact, the scriptures guide us in that direction:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29 ESV

In the notes “good for building up” is defined as: a Christian’s speech should be instructive, encouraging ,uplifting (even when it must be corrective), and suited for the moment [The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1764]

It is important to speak truth in to other’s lives, “that it may give grace to those who hear” is defined as: “because believers have been saved by grace, they should live and speak with grace.” [p. 1764]

I am convicted to be more intentional not only with my boys and with friends and family,  and people in general, but also with myself. The lyrics “[words can] start a fire in our hearts or put it out” are very striking to me. I tend to become very excited and passionate about an idea and quickly talk myself out of it, that someone else is better or that the idea has already been done. I intend to start focusing on using words that speak truth with grace. To myself. To my boys. To my family. To my friends. And to each person that is put in my path each day.

Take a few quiet moments and listen to this song. It’s worth it. Thank you, to my six-year-old, for causing me to pause in the chaos and cause this song to turn into a prayer.

currently…

Hitting a bit of a writer’s block, lately. I have several ideas for blog posts and when I sit down at the keyboard I feel overwhelmed with what I want to share and how… I thought it would be fun to use a “currently…” list in hopes of a fun and light-hearted post! I am currently…

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  • reading: I just finished “Restless” by Jennie Allen and I cannot say enough about it. I am FIRED UP from this book. There are several journaling prompts that I skipped over in my desire to devour the pages. I am going to be starting the journaling this week. I know, just know, that God’s going to do something unexpected and good through this.
  • listening: my workout Pandora station is set to a Meghan Trainor/Pitch Perfect mix; my “everyday” Pandora station is set to the Hillsong United station. Song obsessions of the moment: “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Batistelli, “Shoulders” by For King & Country, and “Drops in the Ocean” by Hawk Nelson.
  • eating: similar to song obsessions, I also go through food obsessions and put food on repeat. Food obsessions of the moment: stevia sweetened egg whites with 1/2 banana + 1/3 cup blueberries, chicken sausage with apple + gouda, Quaker Popped in the Tangy Ranch flavor[they’re no Dorito, but so much friendlier to the hips and equally as difficult to put down], and chocolate chip cookie dough Quest bars.
  • drinking: a lot of water. I always try to fit in one gallon [128 oz] each day. To keep it interesting, I purchased the SweetLeaf Water Drops [naturally sweetened with stevia] and use that for about 20 oz. of water each day. I also drink one lime LaCroix each day with a drop of Grapefruit essential oil. Ocassionally, I add lemon essential oil to my water.
  • wearing: leggings, basically everyday [current favorite pair are Reebok | similar]. Yes. I am one of those people. Judge me. And I am obsessed with my black Nikes and white Converse. I also found this amazing sweatshirt at TJ Maxx.
  • feeling: a wee bit envious. The Middlest is having the time of his life in Florida, this week. The Oldest is off to “Man-cation” with Dad and they get to canoe, fire build, fish, do archery, and camp out – my jam – but I guess I don’t qualify for “Man-cation” ha!  But, with that said, I’m really looking forward to my quiet house and indulging in a bit of ice cream, tonight.
  • weather: absolutely clear skies and 59 degrees – basically perfection.
  • wanting: a cheeseburger and fries, specifically from Red Robin; a Chick-Fil-A grilled Chicken sandwich, and Cadbury Candy Coated Mini Eggs. Do we sense a theme? I have been very diligent this week in tracking calories/macros and the cravings are fierce. We are also challenging ourselves to a “no spend” month, and not purchasing anything we don’t “need” like restaurant food.
  • needing: to do laundry. Like a boss.
  • thinking: that as much as I am craving that food above, I am feeling really darn GOOD, mentally and physically, with what I have eaten this week.
  • enjoying: any quiet time that I am able to squeeze out of the day.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with sunshine, activity, and some quiet rest! xoxo