A Mommy Solution

Mothering tiny people often leaves little or no time for spiritual nourishment or personal growth. Nap time is a precious commodity that I can spend only so many ways.

There are cleaning priorities (mopping the floors or vacuuming the car) that are best done when the boys are safely otherwise occupied. There are personal priorities (writing, reading, or computer work) that are more enjoyable and efficient when littles aren’t disturbing me. There are health priorities (exercising on the elliptical or napping) that can be accomplished only when babies are asleep. And, most importantly, there are spiritual priorities (prayer and Bible study) that require concentration and quiet.jan2003

How can I—during this very busy stage of mothering—find time to nourish my soul, mind, and heart?

Recently, the anemic state of my soul has been staring me in the face. Something had to change.

By God’s grace, Stephen came up with a solution that has changed my life—literally. He bought me a Bluetooth headset.

Perhaps this is an obvious solution for most of you readers, but it has revolutionized my world. Listening to music, books, the Bible, or sermons was a great idea in theory, but the problem came when the boys would start crying or I had to leave the room and couldn’t hear whatever it was I was listening to.jan2001

When the boys are awake, it seems I’m constantly in motion. Between diapering, feeding, potty-training, refereeing sibling playtime, washing and folding laundry, and cleaning, I don’t stay stationery long or in one room of the house for long.

However, with the Bluetooth, the audio is right in my ear, and I can still hear it through the crying or when I walk into another room. The reception gets spotty when I stray too far from my laptop, but overall, it has worked well! Maybe using earbuds and a smartphone would work too, but I tend to think the earbud cables would be too much of a temptation for little hands. Usually, my Bluetooth is hiding under my hair just enough that the boys don’t even notice it’s there.

I love being able to listen to sermons, counseling sessions, scripture, music or audiobooks as I work around the house. Thank God for a loving, thoughtful husband who has equipped me to grow spiritually and personally through a simple piece of technology.

The Bluetooth is like an IV for my soul, pumping God’s truth into me throughout the day.

Posted in elisabeth, parenting, religion, stephen | 1 Comment

My Little Parts of Speech

We’ve decided that Silas is a verb and Cooper is a noun. What do we mean?jan1001

Silas is, and always has been, constant action—a verb. He really wasn’t a cuddly baby, and “sitting on the couch with him” as a toddler meant that we sat on the couch and he crawled all over us. Silas is his own force of nature. He jumps, flies, runs, wiggles, dances, laughs, and sings. We love his exuberance for life!jan1002

Cooper, on the other hand, is a noun. He’s our mellow teddy bear. He loves to snuggle and will lay on his tummy on the carpet just to relax for a minute. We call him “The Coop.” He’s shy and prefers to be held by Mommy or Daddy. Cooper likes to wave and give high fives. I treasure his round little head resting on my chest.2014-01-22 06.26.35a

Our two little men are as different as can be, and we love them to pieces! How very fun to see God’s creativity in our boys.jan1003

Posted in cooper, parenting, preschooler, silas, thoughts, toddler | Leave a comment

Family Portraits

Pictures are some of the most precious tangible possessions. They capture a moment in family history that can never be repeated.jan1003jan1007

Before Christmas we went to JC Penney to have family portraits taken. I was so pleased with how they turned out! jan1002The photographer did an amazing job and was fast too. We were there for probably half an hour total (including deciding which pictures to buy)!jan1009

The boys were especially photogenic, and I’m thankful we have these precious images to keep.jan1006jan1005

God is good to bless me with this handsome little family.jan1004

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Playtime at Grandma and Grandpa’s

As I look back through these pictures from our visit to West Virginia, I love seeing my boys interact with my mom, dad and sisters. dec12014dec12013dec12012The boys had lots of fun discovering all the new things at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My dad kept bringing out toys—some I recognized and some I didn’t—for the boys to play with.

Cold visits to the park didn’t deter Cooper from having fun. dec12005He practiced walking up the steps, dec12006and both boys liked the huge sticks they could find in WV.dec12007dec12008

Of course, there’s always music at the Manka house. Silas liked “fiddling” with Grandpa, and Cooper took his turn at the piano.dec12001dec12002

Aunt Rebekah teaches K4, so she had a classroom full of toys that her nephews loved!dec12015dec12016 She also saved a special Christmas craft to make with Silas. It doubled as a teaching opportunity since it included a thermometer. Silas and Aunt Rebekah took their craft outside to see the temperature change.dec12011

There were tickles with Grandma, dec12017dec12018play dough baking, dec12009dec12010coloring, dec12004and block building with Grandpa.dec12019

One of the highlights for Silas was being introduced to the old-time Superman TV show. As you can see, he was captivated.dec12003

I’m so glad Cooper and Silas could have their first Christmas with my family! Silas had such a great time that he cried as we flew out on the airplane, “I want to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in West Virginia!”

Posted in cooper, family, holidays, preschooler, silas, toddler, west virginia | 1 Comment


It snowed just a bit the morning after Christmas. Though it wasn’t much, the snow did cover the grass. Silas saw it and said, “It’s a lot, Mommy!”dec10007

We bundled up the boys and took them outside to experience the strange, icy, white stuff all over the ground.dec10006dec11001 The snow was very wet, so it made for good packing. dec10002We had a snowball fight, made snow angels, and even managed to scrape together a tiny snowman and name him Frosty—per Silas’ request.dec11002

Though we didn’t get much snow during our visit home, it was happy to look out the window and see the snowflakes gently floating down.dec10001dec10003

Posted in family, holidays, west virginia | 1 Comment

Special Visits

My Uncle Tim drove down from Pittsburgh on the day after Christmas. It was good to see him again and have him meet Cooper for the first time. The last time we saw Uncle Tim two years ago, he was meeting Silas for the first time.dec7004

We had another little Christmas, opening presents and singing carols with Uncle Tim. dec7001dec7002He spent the night and left early afternoon. It was fun to see Uncle Tim, Charis, & Ruth Anna playing Candy Land with Silas.dec7003

Friday night, my cousin Laura and her husband, baby, and mom were supposed to arrive in West Virginia so they could visit with us all day Saturday. dec8003dec8009Unfortunately their vehicle broke down about an hour away, and they had to find a hotel room late that night. What an ordeal it was—especially with a four month old! (See Laura’s post for all the “fun” details.)

So, Saturday morning, Stephen picked up their rental car and drove over to Grantsville, MD to rescue Laura, Chuck, Paige and Aunt Debby. They were a bit frazzled when they arrived, but it was so very good to see all of them and to meet Paige for the first time!dec8001dec8002

I loved holding Paige and kissing her chubby cheeks. Her wobbly head and tiny feet are endearing. It was such fun to take Cooper and Paige out in their strollers for a walk around the neighborhood. I’ve been wanting to do “mommy stuff” together with Laura, and I finally had my chance. It was sweet to take cousin pictures—both 1st cousins dec8006and 2nd cousins.dec8007dec8008

The Monday after Christmas was spent visiting the Bells. dec9001Grandma always puts out a huge spread, and it was a delicious dinner as always. We exchanged presents, watched a movie, and introduced our little Cooper to “Great Grandpa and Great Grandma Bell.”dec9002dec9003

Holidays are extra special when they can be shared with the people we love.

Posted in cooper, family, holidays, preschooler, silas, toddler | 1 Comment

A West Virginia Family Christmas

Grandma and Grandpa live “far, far away in West Virginia” (as Silas says). And the boys had their first Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Manka and the Aunts.dec6016dec6002

We landed on Christmas Eve day, and Mom and Dad picked us up at the airport. I was so glad it was cold—it felt like winter! At home in Fairmont, Grandpa transformed Silas into Mountain Man by letting him wear the bear tooth necklace. dec6001The next day, Dad even built Silas a teepee out of hickory sticks, quilts, and a bear skin.dec6018

Silas was our main entertainment on Christmas morning. He enthusiastically exclaimed over each present.dec6007 He did a good job learning how to hold the tiny violin Grandpa gave him and Cooper. dec6011Grandpa also made Silas a Native American headdress.dec6019

The dry erase markers from Aunt Rebekah were Cooper’s favorite of all time! They were really a gift to Silas, but once Cooper got them in his hands, he had no interest in any other present. dec6015dec6006dec6004dec6009

After opening our presents, we gathered for some singing and reading of the Christmas story and other readings.dec6017 dec6013dec6012dec6014Aunt Rebekah helped Silas play along on the autoharp. Silas also sang “Silent Night” for everyone, with a lot of coaxing from Mommy and Daddy.

Each day someone would start a new Scrabble tile game on the fridge, and everyone could add to it. Here’s the puzzle for Christmas day.dec6020

I’m thankful we could all be together as a family for Christmas!dec6003

Posted in family, holidays, vacation | 2 Comments

Our Merry Little Christmas

Early, early tomorrow morning we’ll be headed to the airport to catch a Christmas Eve flight. This will be our first Christmas with my parents and sisters since we moved out to Arizona in 2009. The family celebration should be a lot of fun with two little grandsons/nephews visiting West Virginia for Christmas. Silas and I are praying for snow!

Because of our upcoming trip, we celebrated our little family Christmas this past Saturday. We opened our stockings and presents first thing. dec5001dec5002dec5003dec5004In between playing with presents, we chatted via video call with the South Carolina, Colorado, and Indiana Moodys throughout the day.dec5005dec5006dec5009

Saturday evening we tried a new restaurant for supper—Claim Jumper. Not only were the food and service very good, but the restaurant was also surprisingly kid-friendly. They provided a complimentary baby plate with lunch meat, cheese, apple sauce and mandarin oranges. That was a first for me, and it was great!dec5007dec5008

After our bellies were full, we drove up to Westgate in Glendale to catch a free horse carriage ride. Their Christmas celebration was filled with lights, a huge Christmas tree, and even some fake snowflakes falling from the sky. dec5012Once I finally caught a snowflake, I discovered it was actually soap suds, but it looked convincingly like snow.dec5011dec5013dec5015

Our carriage ride reminded me of the carriage ride Stephen and I took eight years ago in Indy. On that ride, the love of my life proposed! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, eight years later, we’ve added two little munchkins and are oh-so-thankful for how they light up our life!dec5014

Merry Christmas!

Posted in arizona attractions, community, holidays, marriage | 1 Comment

Christmas Lights

Last night we loaded the boys into the car after supper to see some neighborhood Christmas lights. Silas sang carols with us as we drove.dec3001dec3002

Stephen found a map of the Valley where neighbors could register their homes as light displays for others to come see. Our first stop was impressive for a single home, and a lot of the other nearby homes were pretty too. Silas seems to especially like the inflatable yard decorations.dec4001dec3003

Unfortunately, our three year-old and one year-old were done looking at lights after just one stop. Silas was crying to go home to eat some “fud” (fudge), and Cooper was asleep! We managed to coerce Silas into going to one more light display by entertaining him with stories while we drove.

Maybe next year the boys will enjoy the lights more, but they at least liked eating fudge when we got home!

Posted in arizona attractions, community, holidays | 1 Comment

The Extraordinary of the Ordinary

These three men of mine are God’s gracious gifts to me. I want to remember the extraordinary preciousness of the ordinary days we spend together. While these pictures aren’t the best quality, they tell the story of our daily lives—which is one of my favorite stories ever.

I captured this three-way hug one night when Stephen came home from work. He’s a man in high demand the minute he walks through the door with both boys and I wanting to hug and kiss the one we’ve been missing all day!

dec2007dec2014We took the boys to the park the other evening. Cooper wants to run and play with Daddy and Silas.

Silas’s imagination has taken off! I’ll hear him making his toys talk and talking back to them. One night he asked his Spiderman, “Do you have a sidekick?” Spiderman replied, “Yes, I kick like this!” dec2002dec2004My little superheroes each have their own theme song that we sing. After I said, “Batman!” to Coop, he repeated, “Dat-da!” I like to think he knew what he was saying.dec2006dec2011

Silas is already outgrowing his Superman jammies that he got last month for his birthday. He’s grown a whole inch in just one month!dec2012Cooper really cheeses it up for the camera. These little cutie pa-tooties are the treasures of my heart!dec2008dec2010dec2001


Posted in just life, preschooler, toddler | 1 Comment