Archive for November, 2013

Committed: The Ties that Bond

with Angella Dykstra

I'm a mom of three, a professional accountant, and an amateur photographer and writer. I am not a marriage expert. But my husband and I take "Til death do us part" seriously, and here I'll be sharing how we keep our marriage strong while we both do that insane work-life juggle.

Check out my Work It, Mom! profile and my blog, Dutch Blitz.

Creative Advent Calendar Ideas

Categories: holidays

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Growing up, my siblings and I had the $1 advent calendars and thought they were amazing. We got to pop open one of the tiny doors each day and have a tiny bite of chocolate and it was the greatest. I bought my own kids those same plastic calendars filled with plastic chocolate for many years, and they were as excited about them as they should be.

I thought I could do better, and then realized that I could. There are so many fun options out there. Some are out of our budget this year, but they might happen next year. In the meantime, I’ll stick with what we started two years ago.


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How To Handle Your Argumentative Child

Categories: children

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My eldest child has always fit the stereotype of that place in birth order. He’s always been cautious, responsible, and compliant. He’s now a preteen, and the combination of hormones and his foray into middle school has seen him being a little less cooperative and a little more argumentative. Not all of the time — no — but far more than I’m used to. It’s a whole new world for the both of us.

My youngest child is a girl with this extreme sense of justice that sees her arguing a point if she believes she is right and everyone else is wrong. It can be humorous, for the most part, but sometimes it gets a bit weary. I don’t think we need to argue about my statement that her shoes are by the back door when HER SHOES ARE BY THE BACK DOOR.

For the most part, I try to use reason and logic.
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Staying Connected With Your Spouse When Life Gets Busy

Categories: date night, marriage

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My life is busy — it’s always busy, hence the tagline on my personal site that Life Can Get Pretty Crazy Around Here. I have three kids and five jobs and many friends and too many obligations. I go through life propelling forward with my arms doing windmills, and that’s on a good day. These past few months saw me having extra work, which I needed to do in order to bank for the quiet (work) period from January through April.

I’ve pulled many long days and dropped many balls and have had to say no to many things that I would have loved to say yes too. There really are only so many hours in a day and I like to spend some of them with my family. I like to spend some of them sleeping, as well.
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Coping With Preteen Hormones And Attitudes

Categories: children, parenting, teenagers

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My eldest child — a son — is (almost) eleven and we’ve sure noticed a change in him now that the hormones have started kicking in. He’s still my sweet, compliant boy most of the time, but not all of the time. He’ll throw out an attitude or tear up about something inconsequential (in my eyes) and I can see the internal battle through his eyes.

We’re in uncharted waters, here, and we’re all trying to figure out how to navigate them. There are a few things that have worked, so far.

1. Ask them what is going on. The first answer in usually “I DON’T KNOW!” Then I’ll try again, reminding him that I love him and want to help him sort out what made him lash out. It usually ends with him either telling me the background or telling me simply, “I don’t know, Mom.”

2. Tell them your own stories. Becoming a tween or a teenager is a whole new world. I share my own stories from that stage — everything from funny stories to awkward moments and it makes him feel like what he’s going through is “normal”, or as normal as it can be.
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How Birth Order Affects How You Treat Your Kids

Categories: children, family, parenting

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I have eight siblings, and not because my parents were fundamentalist Mormon or practiced the Rhythm Method. My parents have both been married and divorced a few times, and my Dad had kids with each of his first three wives.

Three kids from the first marriage, two kids from the second marriage, and four kids from the third marriage. We’re all connected and spend time together, but growing up the bulk of my time was spent with me and my sister. (We’re the second set.)

I was the oldest and fit the mold. I was the responsible one, and put in charge of taking care of my sister. She was the baby, and there’s nothing my Mom won’t do for her. I had to do a paper on birth order back in college and boy, are we textbook in so many ways.


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Do Your Heart Some Good: Family Volunteering Ideas

Categories: children, cooking, family, family activities

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Our family has a pretty easy life, compared to many. My husband and I are both employed, and while we may complain about having too much work, that’s better than having no work. We have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and a lot of extras that many families don’t have.

My husband and I grew up in similar households. Our parents worked, we had all of our needs covered, and there was enough left over for extras. This was not the case for some of our friends, and it is not the case for some of the kids my children go to school with. I want my kids to be aware of those in need and to have the heart to help where they can. I am on the Board of our local Food Bank and work in the store, because it hurts my heart that people are hungry. People shouldn’t be hungry in 2013.

My kids know of my work there and elsewhere, and have helped me at the Food Bank. Seeing their cheery smiles while filling up the shopping carts makes my heart nearly burst. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a grown-up thing, and there are ways to volunteer as a family.

1. Your local Food Bank. This is obviously close to my heart, but it’s a good cause. You don’t have to work at the store, but take your kids to the grocery store and load up a bag of groceries to donate.

2. A soup kitchen. Serving food to people is a great gift to both the receiver of the food and the server of the food.

3. Community dinners. I’m not sure if there’s a community Thanksgiving dinner in your community, but there is one in ours.
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The Difference Between Motivating and Nagging Your Kids

Categories: children, communication

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We all want the best for our kids. We want them to grow up being the best people they can be. We also want them to be contributing members of society, even if “society” at this point in their lives means “our house.”

Kids are kids and don’t always get the bigger picture. Not that you should expect them to, of course, but sometimes it would be great to speak to them in a reasonable voice, explaining how life works, and have them respond proactively. Seeing as that is only a dream, there are a few things that you can do to motivate them to contribute without resorting to nagging.


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Enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner When You’re Away From Your Family

Categories: cooking, holidays

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Thanksgiving dinner is a very good, very awesome thing. The only thing to compare it to is Christmas dinner which is also a very good, very awesome thing. There are copious amounts of food, young cousins running around and adults sipping wine while talking about everything from sports to shopping.

But what do you do if that gaggle of extended family isn’t around to contribute to the happy chaos that is Thanksgiving dinner?

My parents and siblings (I have eight siblings; we all share the same Dad) are far-flung across the country and we rarely see each other face-to-face. The costs are prohibitive and it’s simply not feasible to meet up for Thanksgiving.

My husband’s parents aren’t close by and his sister and her husband live four hours away. Thanksgiving is a hard time for either of us to travel, work-wise, so we make an effort to get together over the Christmas break. My husband’s brother and his wife (My running partner, and one of my best friends) live in the same town we do, but so do her parents. We have to take turns with them on Christmas day, but Thanksgiving weekend usually works out. Usually. This year, they were traveling abroad, so they were not available for Thanksgiving dinner.


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Chores Your Kids Could (and Should) Do

Categories: children

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Sometimes, I feel like my husband and I can be two-year-old kids when it comes to household chores. I can do it ALL BY MYSELF. We need to train our kids about responsibility and about what it takes to make a household run, but everything is done so much faster if you do it yourself.

Or is it?

I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Okay, some things are done faster if you do them yourself, but if you do everything yourself instead of involving your kids, are you really saving time? No. You’re not.

Here are some of the chores that your kids can do, which is not only teaching them how much work it takes to run a home, but is saving you precious, precious minutes that you don’t really have but would use if you could.


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