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

 

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.

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

thirty-two

I have been wanting to type up a formal introductory / about me post for quite some time now, as my blog shifts in to that of a lifestyle blog. As my 32nd birthday came to pass last month, it was a great time for reflection on my fitness journey and how it has changed tremendously over the last year.

In March of 2014 (coincidentally, my 31st birthday) I set out to run a 25K race (a 15.5 mile race, partially roads, mostly trail that particular race). It had been a brutal winter, weather wise. Through the course of the late autumn and winter seasons, I woke up a few times per week, layered up, and then layered up again, to put miles on the pavement to train.

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[photo above, obviously, pre-race, ha!]
After having three babies in four years, I desired to feel strong again, and be confident in my body image. Putting those layers on and running in temperatures that many times were darn near 0° F made me feel like I was strong. But truth be told, I was weak. I was eating way too much sugar during each day, probably way too much fried food, and my body did not feel physically strong to me and jiggled in too many places, and created a negative body image. And it just wouldn’t go away. I knew my heart and lungs were becoming stronger because of the training, but my mentality and my body weren’t.

Approximately nine or ten miles into the race, my mental game completely crumbled. I stopped at the top of an intense hill and gave myself about thirty seconds to let out an ugly cry and decide if I would keep going, or not. I decided not. Right in that moment I decided that I had nothing to prove to anyone but myself and I wanted nothing more to do with that particular challenge. I made it to the upcoming aid station, handed a race official my bib, and burst in to tears. I think that they were tears of relief, more than anything. I realized during that race that ultra-running is not “my thing”.

I started lifting that month. On a good week, I was able to find motivation to get to the gym three to four times a week and head outside for the occasional three mile run, or so. There were some not-so-good weeks, too. Weeks with one or two workouts. But, I was seeing progress. My body was feeling and looking stronger little by little. With each lift session, I was becoming stronger physically and mentally.

When I handed my bib in on that sunny, but chilly, March day, I made a commitment to ME, that I would go in to the gym and move heavy things. Heavier than the last time or one more rep than yesterday. My commitment to train three to four times a week turned in to five days per week and then six days per week, with a day to allow my body to rest and recover.

A full year later, I look stronger, and I feel stronger. I don’t care what size my pants are. The “mush” is turning to muscle mass, and I am finally running faster during cardio workouts.

I have become more aware of my food choices. I am making choices that help me recover from today’s workout, and better fuel tomorrow’s, all while allowing myself occasional indulgences and refusing to restrict any certain type of food. I didn’t (don’t) do a fad diet. I didn’t go carb free. I’m not on a juice cleanse, and there’s no such thing as #whole30 in my vocabulary.

What I am doing is getting OUT OF BED EARLY and choosing dumbbells over my pillow. I am lifting all the heavy things (well, heavy-to-me things). I am making sure I make healthy choices to promote health and muscle growth, and I am listening to my body when I have cravings.

I have a long way to go. But I am confident that I will get there and that this is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. And, I don’t get these workouts in because I am a stay-at-home-mom. I get them in because I get up at 4:00 AM. [I wrote more on how I stay motivated to keep up this habit, here.]

I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for his army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

side note: while this is not a post about running or trail-racing, I can say that the shoes I used for training were fabulous “door to trail” shoes [by that I mean, you can run on pavement or trail]; Salomon Women’s XR Mission W Trail Running Shoe.

consistent workouts | how I fit them in

With three young children at home, I can confidently attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult [especially when it is C-O-L-D]. Before I had children, I worked in a career that demanded long hours, there again, I can attest to the fact that fitting in a workout can be difficult. It has taken me a long LONG time to realize -or at least- make a habit of getting out of bed early in order to fit my workout in. Early is my time.

Choose the your time.

I rise at 4 AM Monday – Friday to get my workouts in. For several reasons: I am sure to be done with my workout before The Three Boys are awake, ensuring that my husband can sleep while I am at the gym; I am home in time for my husband to leave for work early if needed; and because our gym is small and I like to avoid having to share the squat rack.

I have not always been consistently waking up that early five days a week. However, I have come to realize this past year that it is the time that works, for me. If you are trying to change/develop consistent habits, find the time of the day that works for you and stick to it. Just stick to it. It is a part of your day, and it is an important part of your day. Maybe workout out at 9 PM would be your thing. Perhaps working out from home while the kiddos nap. Over your lunch hour?

I don’t go to bed super early, either. I shoot for no later than 10 PM and have found that I function just as well on six hours of sleep as I do on eight. In fact, I would say that I have an easier time rolling out from underneath the covers after six hours than eight. Eight hours leaves me pining for just a few more, ha!

Force the habit.

Excuses used to come very easily to me, for reasons not to work out early. I had to cut them out. The Three Boys sleep well at night and my six hours usually go uninterrupted. Occasionally The Littlest will wake up at 3:30 and need comforted, and at that point I will just stay up and go to the gym. After forcing the habit for nearly a year, now, if I wake up and think “I am just going to skip today” I end up feeling guilty and finding all of the reasons I need to lift rather than sleep. That is an accomplished feeling.

With that said, there are certainly nights that I choose sleep versus rising early [middle of the night laying awake for two hours, anyone?] -or- the onset of a head cold, etc. There are HUNDREDS of exercises that you can do from home that don’t require equipment, noise, jumping around, or DVDs [I am planning a post on this topic, specifically]. Speaking of DVDs, though. I am a loyal fan of the Shaun T’s FOCUS T25 series. It is a great high intensity interval training, and is focused for just twenty-five minutes. I tell myself, it is just twenty-five minutes. I waste at least that much time on social media each day, you too? There is just no reason not to get it done.

Find your why.

My why is STRENGTH. I will share more of my story in an upcoming post, but for the purposes of this post I will keep my “why” short. Strong makes me feel good mentally and physically. I find my motivation in being better than me. Better today than I was yesterday. I find my motivation in my three boys. Three boys. I cannot take it lightly that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to give me these three boys to raise in to young men. In to warriors for His army. If I am going to keep up, and ENJOY keeping up, I need to be strong while I am able. This body God has given is a temple, and right now, it is disease and handicap free and I am going to be a steward of that incredible blessing.

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