Highly Happy Marriages: A Review

Highly Happy Marriages

A couple of years ago, I read For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and I loved the insights it gave me into my husband. When I saw she had just published a new book about marriages, I wanted to read it.

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make a Big Difference by Shaunti Feldhahn was certainly an interesting read. First and foremost, it is important to note that Mrs. Feldhahn researches in depth every topic she presents. She has the statistics from a thorough study to support her writings. She shares her findings on every topic, and it is very interesting. Also, these books are written from a clear Christian perspective. Shaunti does not preach but her faith does permeate her writing, as even Christian would hope and expect it to do.

The concept of this book is simple. Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage! Shaunti learned that is the little, unexpected actions that are often overlooked that make a huge difference in marriage. Her book covers the importance of these principles found in highly happy marriages.

  • Go to bed mad.
  • Keep score.
  • Boss their feelings around.
  • Have factual fantasies.
  • Get in over their heads.
  • Don’t tell it like it is.
  • Don’t look to marriage to make them happy.

This book gives you a lot of food for thought. It is also an encouragement that anyone can go from an ordinary or happy marriage to a highly happy marriage. Shaunti recommends slowly adopting these principles to your life and marriage. I found the research, stories and suggestions compelling. I would certainly recommend Highly Happy Marriages to anyone who is looking for a good, Christian marriage book.

For more information, check out the following links from Shaunti Feldhahn.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

5 Great Music CDs for Preschoolers

5 Great Music Cds for Preschoolers

I’m a music teacher and an early childhood teacher. Since I am both, I use a lot of music in my classroom. I have dozens upon dozens of music cds that I have collected over the past ten years of teaching. I use a song or two from many of the cds, but there are certain cds that I keep returning to, year after year. These cds are the ones my preschoolers love – and the ones that I love, too. I love that these cds get my children singing! Rather than listening them all, here are five of my favorite cds to use with preschoolers. Whether you are a teacher or mom or grandma of a preschooler, you will enjoy listening to and singing along with these cds and so will your young children!

Please note that some of these links are affiliate links. If you purchase any items through these links, I get a small percentage back which helps support this website. Thanks!

Six Little Ducks by Kimbo Music is a cd with many classic children’s songs on it. This is a great cd to introduce children to songs such as “Old MacDonald,” “You Are My Sunshine,” “Skinnamarink,” and “The Wheels on the Bus.” My preschoolers also really enjoyed singing the silly song, “On Top of Spaghetti.” I enjoyed it because it was sung as an echo song, which makes it easy for the teachers to remember – and children to sing.

Hide ‘em In Your Heart by Steve Green is a series of scripture verses set to song. I had these cassettes when I was growing up, and upgraded to cds when I began teaching. I like these cds because they are word for word scripture verses set to music – with the scripture reference included. The songs are well written so that before very long, parents and children will be singing these Bible verses. I often sing “Do not worry” to myself from this cd. There are two volumes of this cd, and I recommend them both! Amazon is currently selling them as a 2 for 1 deal, so look for that.

This cd is relatively unknown, but another one of my childhood favorites. Late Last Night by Joe Scruggs is a lively cd enjoyed by younger and older kids alike. “Wiggle in my Toe” and the “Turn Around Game” are favorites of my preschoolers and Kindergarteners when we have inside recess. Of course, “Late Last Night” is the all-time favorite as we pretend to put on different shoes throughout the song. It’s lots of fun!

Do you Go Fish? No, not the game, but the music group, Go Fish! If you don’t, get to know them. Go Fish is the group with kids music that won’t drive Moms crazy! Plus, they sing mostly Accapella. A Christian group, I have a couple of their cds and enjoy all the ones I have. If you’re looking for a good introduction, Party Like a Preschooler by Go Fish is the perfect place to start. Their twist on the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a great one. You can check this song out on Youtube with this clever Go Fish video.

God is Great Arison

Finally, the God is Great series by Arison rounds out my list. Arison is another Christian group that children of all ages will enjoy. I first heard that a teacher’s conference in Ohio years ago and promptly purchased their first cd – God is Great. Now, there are four volumes in this series and they are all very good! If you are wondering with which volumes to start, I own and like them all. Volume one is still my favorite and their latest, volume 4, is a close second. You can listen to the songs on their website.

There you have it! Those are my favorite music cds to use with my preschoolers. Of course, I’ve used these cds with Kindergarteners and students in the lower grades as well. What are your favorite cds to use with preschoolers?

More New Recipe Links

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Yes, I’m back with more recipe links because I’ve discovered lots more that I want to try. I simply can’t help myself! Don’t these look delicious?

Edie shared her recipe for best ever blueberry cake with lemon glaze. Since it’s blueberry season, it’s the perfect time to bake this.  I also want to try making chocolate covered blueberries.

Ree showed how she makes her own veggie cream cheese. Yes, it takes more work but you can easily customize it to your taste.

Jen reminded me of one of my Mom’s recipes with this no-bake chocolate eclair cake. What a perfect summer treat!

Ruth made a 5 minute ice cream cake which is another great summertime dessert.

Adriane shared her recipe for rhubarb cherry crisp. I don’t think I’ve ever had this rhubarb combination but it looks delicious!

Brenda made her take on rhubarb with her recipe for grilled angel food cake with rhubarb sauce. Another winner, I think!

Lynette intigued me with her recipe for juice pie. Yes, the frugal filling comes from juice.

Now, the ever important question. Which one shall I try making first?

5 Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies

5 ingredient cake mix cookies that can be made with any variety of cake mix. So simple yet so delicious!

I love to bake. It doesn’t matter the recipe because I’m willing to try most. Sometimes, the simplest is still the best. Growing up, we made our traditional chocolate chip cookies but we also made cake mix chocolate chip cookies.

These cake mix cookies are so simple and require only 5 ingredients. There is no mixer required because it is easy to mix these cookies in a single bowl with a wooden spoon. Less dishes after baking is always nice! These cookies also are soft and almost gooey. It’s a nice twist on an ordinary chocolate chip cookie.

This cake mix cookie recipe called for a yellow cake mix with chocolate chips. A couple weeks ago, I decided to put a twist on it and make the same recipe with a chocolate cake mix and peanut butter chips. It was a revelation! Why have I never thought of this before? There are so many possibilities for this simple recipe now. How about a spice cake cookie with white chocolate chips? Or a devil’s food cookie with butterscotch chips? The only thing you have to do is get adventurous and use a different cake mix and / or add-in.

Here’s the recipe so you can get mixing and matching in your kitchen with this recipe. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

5 Ingredient Cake Mix Cookies


1 package cake mix (traditionally yellow but any variety can be used)
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Soften margarine in a glass bowl. Stir in cake mix, eggs and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by teaspoon (or cookie scoop) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies will be soft. Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, if using a Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop.

There you have it! A simple 5 ingredient cookie recipe that your family is sure to enjoy. The flavor possibilities are as numerous as your imagination. I’d love to hear what combinations you try!

Nathan @ 3 Months

Here we are at 3 months already! Or a quarter of the way till one! I’m not rushing these days away because so much is happening for Nathan right now. Here’s what we’ve been up to this month.

Nathan started the month by taking his first (of many) long road trips. We drove out to Nebraska for a second-cousin’s wedding, stopping to see Andy’s brother on the way. Nathan was a great traveller, until we reached hour 9 or so, when he decided he was ready to be out of his car seat. We did a lot of nursing at rest stops and diaper changes in the car, still making pretty good time considering. Every time we unstrapped him, Nathan stretched like this.

Ready for a road trip

We were glad we made the drive as my entire family was (almost) together. We were missing my brother Joel who was home in St. Louis, getting ready to travel to Brasil for the World Cup. It was nice to all be together, even if it was only for 24 hours. It was nice to see some of our second-cousins, too.

Barz Family Minus Joel

Nathan has found a favorite book this month. This simple, three page, bright colored shape book will keep him entertained for 15 minutes or more at a time. I don’t know what it is that is so fascinating but it was a life-saver on our drive out to Nebraska! I look forward to many more months of favorite books with Nathan.

Nathan traveling in the car

After we returned from Nebraska, my sister, Liesl, visited with her family. We are so glad to have them back from Okinawa! Nathan enjoyed the time with his cousins. Addison loved to hold him, Davenie told him how handsome he was, and Jose covered him with kisses, multiple times a day. These are the four Barz cousins…for now! Both my sisters are expecting, one in July and one in September, so the number of grandchildren for my parents doubled this year.

Tummy time with cousins

We celebrated Andy’s first Father’s Day. Of course, I had to dress Nathan for the occasion in his preppy golfer hand-me-down outfit. The hat was the perfect touch! I am SO thankful for all the hand-me-downs and gifts of clothes we have received. Nathan’s closet is full of adorable clothes, although we did move up into the 3 to 6 month sizes this month, right on schedule.

Father's Day 2014

After spending time with my family, Andy’s family had their annual get together in Fort Wayne at the end of the month. We tried to get a picture with 5 of the little ones with their Great-Grandma Schiffli. It’s easier said than done! Nathan is currently the youngest so just took everything in this summer. He was happy to be held by anyone and everyone who wanted to hold him.

Schiffli Reunion

Nathan continues to be very curious. His big eyes are constantly trying to take it all in. When he has a full tummy and a clean diaper, he’s content to lay on his tummy or back and look around the room. There are so many times I wish I could see inside his brain to see what he is thinking!

Looking around

Nathan also discovered his hands this month. He loves to watch them and he loves to eat them! He’s drooling a lot so I try to keep him in bibs. The doctor said that’s normal, not a sign that teeth are around the corner, but we shall see! Nathan’s grip has improved so he can hold onto his Discovery links and shake them, which he likes to do.

Discovering hands

Never you fear, Nathan does have his fussy moments! We’ve had a couple of car ride moments where Nathan screams at me, wanting to be out of his seat. It makes for some long car rides home because his pacifier doesn’t help when he’s like that. We also went through his 3 month growth spurt right at the end of the month where he was quite cranky until I started feeding him every 2 hours again. We spent a lot of time on the couch that weekend. He’s still nursing great but is good at taking a bottle I’ve pumped when I’m away. I’m thankful that he does both well!

Fussy Baby

At 3 months, Nathan weighed 12 lbs and 2 ounces. He is a growing baby! I can see the rolls in his legs developing but he is nowhere near as chubby as I anticipated he would be. Andy and I were both very chubby babies!  The biggest development of the month would have to be that Nathan discovered his voice while we were at the Lehenbauer family reunion. All of the sudden, he just started screeching and “talking”. He hasn’t stopped since! He has long conversations of babbles and coos and has great inflection!

Happy Baby - 3 Months Old!

It’s nice to be on a relaxed summer schedule with Andy home, especially since Nathan has taken to waking up during the night again. Sometimes, Nathan sleeps from 9:30pm till 4:30am before waking up to eat. Other times, he wakes around 1:30am, wanting to eat again. He’s still a good napper, though. Plus, Nathan is getting better at napping in his pack n play, now that we discovered he prefers to sleep on his tummy. Since we’re always near when he’s napping, we let Nathan nap this way, but we still swaddle him on his back for nighttime. We’re looking forward to seeing what changes the next month will bring!

Encouragement for Moms from Lisa-Jo

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Lisa-Jo Baker is a talented writer and as she would say, an ordinary mother. Yet, I would like to add that she is an ordinary mother whom God has given an extra-ordinary way with words. She recently published a beautiful book called Surprised by Motherhood. It was just what I needed to read in my own early days of motherhood. Since then, I have found myself encouraged over and over by her blog. Lisa-Jo speaks to my heart with just the encouragement I didn’t know I needed. Read this. Be encouraged today!

A prayer for all the weary Thursday Mothers reminded me not to “rush through today or wish it over.” I need to remember this. Always.

The false advertising about Motherhood lists 10 things many of us have believed. Remember, “It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like there are some days you just want to quit. That’s normal. You’re phenomenal. I’ve never understood why there aren’t more parades in your honor.”

Not to be left out, share this with the Dad in your life. For all the “ordinary, boring” Dads from your grateful daughters, you need to know that “you might be surprised by what we remember.” Because “the memories of what we did together will always trump the lost ones of what we didn’t.”

The growing pains of Motherhood reminds us that we are not alone. Other mothers are experiencing the same moments we are. As Lisa-Jo says, “I see you measuring your day in inches as the years stretch ahead in long miles.”

Her perspective on what the gang wars and Mommy wars have in common was shockingly accurate. “The thing is, the woman we’re so offended by – she bears your name. She bears my name. She is also Mother.”

Finally, I leave you with this for when you’re tired of the “how-to” books of parenting as another reason you should read Lisa-Jo’s beautiful book. “Motherhood isn’t a competition. It’s a calling.”

Happy 4th of July!

Nathan wanted to make sure we wished you a Happy 4th of July! I hope his cute patriotism brings a smile to your face!

Happy 4th of July

And if that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I’ll leave you with these outtakes. Our little baby is becoming quite expressive!

4th of July Outtakes

Tyndale Summer Reading Program 2014


Yay! A summer reading program for adults! Once again, Tyndale is hosting a summer reading program. I participated last year and can tell you that it’s very simple – and rewarding. First, sign up for a Tyndale Rewards account. Then, read any of the books from their list. It’s a well-developed list with lots of variety. Submit a review on a retailer website or on social media. After you’ve read 5 books, you can request one for free. Can I recommend you start with Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker? My review is coming but this is an incredible book for all Moms! This summer reading program runs through August 31.



Ice Cream Links I Love

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Summer is here at last and that makes me think of ice cream. This is the time of year when I think having an ice cream maker would be fun. However, I’d probably eat too much ice cream for my own good! That said, I have been accumulating quite a few homemade ice cream recipes – all that do NOT require an ice cream maker. I want to give some of these a try this summer.

I’ve already made frozen chocolate chip yogurt. This recipe is so simple – and so delicious! Andy enjoys this recipe, too. This recipe tastes just as good before it is frozen, so good luck waiting to eat this one!

Budget Savy Diva shared her recipe for easy homemade vanilla ice cream. With only three ingredients (and one of them sweetened condensed milk), this recipe looks very easy.

This must be a good recipe because Kevin & Amanda share the same simple recipe. Then, they suggest lots of add-ins to make varieties such as cinnamon bun ice cream. Knowing this is a basic recipe gives me a lot of ideas to make different ice creams!

Not Your Momma’s Cookie shared her take with “no machine” monster cookie dough ice cream. With this one, you mix up the cookie dough mixture first before stirring it into the ice cream. Yum!

Eagle Brand has several ice cream recipes on their site. The mint chocolate chip ice cream is the first one I want to try. I think I’ve actually made a similar recipe from Taste of Home.

If you want to see more, you can view all the other ice cream recipes I want to try on my Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker Pinterest Board.

Nathan @ 2 Months

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of June already. Nathan continues to grow like a weed! He’s 11 weeks old but I haven’t had a chance to post his two month update. I’m doing it now – for you and for me! Here we go.

The month started off when Andy took his eighth grade class to Washington DC for 4 days. It was a challenge to solo parent, but the days went more smoothly – and quicker – than expected. Nathan did try to sneak into Andy’s suitcase but there wasn’t room for him! This was the month where I felt we started to settle into a routine.

Nathan Packing for Daddy

Nathan was almost 6 weeks before I took him to visit my students at Ascension. We had some nasty cases of strep making the rounds that I wanted us both to avoid. Of course, the children were all thrilled to meet him at last! The next week, I took Nathan to visit Andy’s school and classroom. Nathan was a hit at both schools!

Nathan at Ascension

Of course, we celebrated Mother’s Day. There were many years when I didn’t think this day would ever come. What a joyous day it was to celebrate with our baby who made my dreams come true!

Mother's Day 2014

Nathan grew so much during his second month. He settled into a good routine of being awake for 1.5 hours and asleep for the same. He started sleeping longer stretches at night, too, almost 6 hours at 6 weeks and a momentous 8 hours at 8 weeks! That was truly wonderful that Nathan did it without much help from us. I will say that swaddling at night has been very helpful – for him and for us!

As for other firsts, Nathan discovered his hands and will now occasionally suck on his hand – or thumb. He still likes his pacifier. Nathan continues to roll himself over regularly from his tummy to his back. I’d say that over half the time I put him on his tummy, he flips himself to his back. Nathan continues to lift his head quite high, as he wants to see what is going on. He is a curious and alert little guy.

Nathan discovered his hand

Nathan also got to meet his Grandpa Barz who arrived at the end of the month from Texas. My Dad arrived with my Mom (who was amazed at how Nathan has already grown since she left last month) to stay for a week. Nathan enjoyed some time with his grandparents, who graciously watched him as I returned to school for my final four days of teaching, after my maternity leave. It was so much easier to leave knowing that my parents were watching him. Plus, I didn’t have to take him anywhere which made the mornings much easier!

Nathan and His Grandpa Barz

Nathan still loves to eat, and regularly eats every 3ish hours. He decided that he liked baths his month so bathtime finds him kicking away in the water. The biggest event of the month? Nathan learned to smile. Really smile. It happened first when Andy was away at DC. Now, it happens all the time! Nathan loves to smile.

Smiles from Nathan

At his two month appointment, Nathan weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces, which put him in the 25%. His length had increased to 22 inches, which put him in the 50% percentile. He’s a content and happy baby, whom we love watching grow and change – almost daily.

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